Si woke up on the console room floor with a throbbing headache and a slight ringing in her ears. She sat up to see the control console in front of her, only able to recall collapsing near it. Everything after that was a total blur. She fought to stand up, grasping onto the edge of the control console to balance herself.
Wait a sec…something’s off. The panel feels different. Even the floor felt different. And the room feels more closed in. It all feels so…familiar.
It was then she noticed that the console room she stood in was of an older design – one from much earlier in her travels. She also noticed that she was wearing a robe that she hadn’t worn since she was in her sixth regeneration, the one that called herself “Mandy.” It was Mandy’s robe on Si’s body.
But why is it on my body?!
She was thankful to still have on her green top and jeans underneath, knowing how often Mandy strode around inside the Type-Z with nothing but lingerie on. I get way too comfortable with some of the bodies I regenerate into.
“Clear for a landing! Clarence Airways comin’ through!”
She heard a familiar voice rush into the room, imitating an airplane. Had Si paid much mind to it, she would have seen a very chubby kid with two front buck teeth, short blond hair and pink skin, wearing a neon green t-shirt with short purple sleeves, blue shorts, and dark blue boots.
He ran right across in front of her, his arms outstretched so far out that he slightly grazed the fabric of the robe draped on Si. “Oops! Sorry, Mandy,” he said without looking at her.
“It’s O.K., Clarence,” Si uttered subconsciously, also without looking at the kid, still nursing her headache.
Just a couple of seconds passed before the two did a double take and finally noticed each other, surprise registering on both of their faces.
“Hey, you’re not Mandy!”
Tears welled up in Si’s eyes as she dashed over to Clarence, ensnaring him in a big, warm hug and showering him with kisses all over his chubby face. “Oh, honey, I’ve missed you so much!” she said in between kisses. “I’m so happy to see you again!”
“Ah! Stranger-danger! Stranger-danger!” Clarence cried out repeatedly.
“Oh, honey, I’m no stranger,” Si told him. “It’s me…Mandy!”
“You’re not Mandy! You’re a stranger!” Clarence bellowed, fighting out of Si’s hug. “What did you do to Mandy?!”
Si couldn’t properly answer that herself. She was just as confused as Clarence over her sudden presence there in her past incarnation’s TARDIS. Her eyes darted all about the recognizable setting until they centered on a note that had been left on the console, wedged in between two knobs.
She plucked it out and read it.
The note only had one message: “I’m working on it.” It was signed by someone named “Al Squires.” Wait…that couldn’t be the Al Squires, could it? The Protectorate’s best agent, who tended to speak like he was a character in a story at times.
“Ouch!” Si yelped, broken out of her concentration when she felt something poke at her left butt cheek. She turned to see Clarence holding a long, thick wooden stick that he kept jabbing at her bottom. “Clarence, stop that immediately!”
“Not ’til you tell me what you did to Mandy!”
“Where did you get that anyway?” She glanced at the door leading out of the TARDIS and noticed it had been open the entire time. Beyond the doorway was what appeared to be an Earth location, specifically within a desert valley region. Curiously, she stepped out with Clarence following her – and still poking her butt with the stick.
Si took in the desert valley atmosphere, breathing in deep. Arizona, circa 1869. It’s gotta be, judging from that small western town just a short distance away and all the buttes. And speaking of “buttes,” I’ve about had it with Clarence poking at my butte! She swiped the stick away from his grip and tossed it far away. Clarence almost chased after it like a trained dog until Si snatched him by the collar. “Oh, no, you don’t,” she told him. “You’re gonna behave yourself, as long as I’m here!”
She dragged Clarence back into the TARDIS and changed out of Mandy’s robe, putting on the brown leather jacket and sunglasses she was partial to in this regeneration of hers. After she changed, she instructed Clarence, “C’mon. Let’s go find out what makes this place so special that the TARDIS brought us to it.”
Clarence stood firm with his arms crossed. “I’m not goin’ anywhere with you, stranger!”
Si began to tire of Clarence’s distrust, but she knew just how to win him over. She reached into the left side pocket of her jacket and retrieved some red candy. She got it from one of the pockets on Mandy’s robe, saving it for Clarence when he acted like a good little boy or, in moments such as this, when he required a little incentive.
Clarence’s eyes gleamed in seeing the red candy in Si’s hand. He attempted to take it from her, but Si pulled away. “Ah-ah! Are you gonna behave?” she asked Clarence, who innocently nodded his head, still entranced by all the red candy Si carried. Even though she figured he would act out again later (especially with all the sugar in his system), it was enough to keep him reverent for as long as they investigated the Old West town.
Si and Clarence arrived there to the curious, befuddled stares of the townsfolk, who were mostly staring at Clarence and his messy face, his whole mouth reddened by the candy he consumed.
Spotting a nearby saloon, Si figured that to be a good place to begin.
They entered through the swinging doors and garnered even more stares from all the adult male patrons, each of whom had beards and mustaches with varying degrees of size, shape, and color. Clearly, Si and Clarence were the first youths to ever step into such a rough-and-tough establishment.
That much was clear after they seated at one of the tables and were suddenly approached by the bartender – a balding, middle-aged Caucasian man with a handlebar mustache and a bloated figure. “We don’t serve children here!” he told Si and Clarence. “Go on and git before I throw yer little butts out!”
It annoyed Si to no end to be limited in her freedom because of the youthful appearance brought on by this regeneration of her. Nonetheless, she persisted to the bartender, “Sir, we’re not here to order anything. We just want to—”
“Now, look here, lil’ missy,” the bartender interrupted her. “Men come in this bar to do two things: drink and get drunk! If you’re only here to cause trouble…” The bartender reached beneath the apron tied around his waist, retrieving a revolver that he pointed right at Si and Clarence. “…then you came to the wrong place!”