Tracey shares the story of that time Leon encountered The Doctor. Behold the very first piece of fanfic featuring a Who Back When host!
Recently I had a chat with our own Leon, aka Ponken, about an unusual experience he had. He’s asked me to share it.
Me: So tell me what happened. Start at the beginning.
Leon: I received a package in the mail. Fans do send us things, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary.
Me: How did it arrive?
Leon: Just regular mail I suppose. At least I think. I didn’t see it get dropped off. That’s how it always works right? With mail.
Me: It’s true.
Leon: I opened the box. Inside was a smaller more formal-looking box. Ribbon around it and everything. Just heavy enough that it felt significant but also sleek and sexy. I mean, if a sonic screwdriver can be sexy, this one was.
Me: And did you know what it was then?
Leon: Not at first. Obviously I was drawn to it. It was, as I said, a thing of beauty and I wanted it with me. It felt really Doctor-like slipping it into my pocket straightaway so that’s what I did.
Me: So when did things start to happen?
Leon: Couple of hours later when I locked my keys inside Ponk Plaza. I went in my pocket looking for them and found the sonic instead. As a little joke I pointed it at the door and held the button. It made the sonic noise and I thought- how impressive, it lights up and makes the right sound. Then the door slid open like I’d never even shut it.
Me: I imagine that caught you by surprise.
Leon: I must have stood there staring at the door for a full minute. Finally I shrugged it off as an amusing coincidence.
Me: Did you tell anyone?
Leon: Just Mirimu. She laughed it off, too. Things didn’t get really weird until later that afternoon.
Me: Go on.
Leon: Well I had the sonic out and was trying to find the battery cover. I was noticing the excellent craftsmanship and also cursing slightly that it was so excellent I was failing to find the battery cover at all. I think I even said out loud, “It’s so well hidden!” And that’s when it spoke to me…
Me: We’re friends, Ponken. You can trust that I believe you. Tell me what it said.
Leon: It said- “Hello Leon.” I was so startled I nearly dropped it.
Me: What did it sound like?
Leon: That’s the weird part. I’m not really sure it sounded like anything. I definitely heard it speak. But when I try to recall the voice, it’s like I’m hearing myself speak. My guess is that it’s either a feature of the fact that it’s a little bit psychic, or something about the TARDIS translation matrix.
Me: So that’s when you knew it wasn’t a toy.
Leon: Essentially. I hadn’t quite ruled out the possibility that I was either delirious or being pranked. I called Mirimu, who was traveling at the time, and talked to her for a while. Then when I was calmer I tried just talking to it.
Leon: And it responded.
Me: Just like that?
Leon: Just like that. I’m not going to remember everything it said to me, not precisely.
Me: That’s alright. Tell me what you do remember.
Leon: For starters it said, “You’re not The Doctor.” Hard to think of a suitable response to that! So I just said, “No….Can I help you?”
Me: “Can I help you”?
Leon: You can stop that giggling. Giggling is my thing. Course I offered to help!
Me: So then what happened?
Leon: It said, “The Doctor is needed. We must locate The Doctor.” And I said, “Sure, happy to help. How?” Then it said, “The scanning web.”
Me: Like the internet?
Leon: I thought so at first. But no. Then it told me I’d need to interface to understand. I remember this next part clearly. It said, “Do you consent to interface?” Since I did want to help find The Doctor, naturally I said yes.
Me: And what was the interface? What was it talking about?
Leon: It wanted to actually control parts of my brain to show me directly what it wanted. That’s how I learned it was talking about a large web of energy. The same kind Time Lords use to regenerate.
Me: What did it want you to do with this web?
Leon: Create it.
Leon: Yes and we did.
Me: Who’s we?
Leon: Oh! Sorry I meant the sonic and I. Having spent all that time interfacing with it, I can’t help but think of it as sort of alive.
Me: So you were able to create a web made of regeneration energy?
Leon: A variant of it, yes. There are hospitals and unis around here with equipment we sort of borrowed. I’m almost hesitant to share all this. I know how unbelievable it all sounds. In a way that’s good — I’m not expecting any repercussions! I actually don’t remember a lot of it; the sonic did most of the work. It’s hard to explain, but when the sonic is in control you kind of let it take you and then it’s almost like, you see yourself doing things but you aren’t the driver anymore.
Me: So the process of the interface wasn’t upsetting at all?
Leon: No, I wouldn’t say it was. There were a couple of times I got a little nervous — like when we were disabling security cameras — and I could feel the sonic draw back, almost like it was holding its breath, if that makes sense? And it said, “end interface?” and waited for my response before going on. It was quite accommodating in that way.
Me: So how did the web help you find The Doctor?
Leon: The — stuff — of the web was just energy pouring out from a bunch of instruments in different locations leading to a — now what did we call it? Oh yes — an attractive focal point.
Me: And this brought The Doctor?
Leon: It pulled him in. I mean that quite literally. The regeneration energy acted just like magnetism. He would have felt it literally tugging at him. All I had to do was wait for him to arrive at the web’s center.
Me: So talk about what it was like, him showing up in front of you.
Leon: More frightening than I’d have liked.
Leon: Remember, he was being pulled in by a physical force. I saw him walking toward me a moment or two before he saw me, and I could see he was struggling to walk normally. I almost started laughing. Then he noticed me and, he charged.
Me: He charged?
Leon: He ran straight at me! I don’t think it was entirely by choice, he was being pulled by an increasingly strong force. He didn’t actually stop until he was practically on top of me. I swear his nose brushed mine. He managed to pull himself back a step and angrily started questioning me, “Who sent you? Was it Rassilon? Who is in charge now?”
I said, “Dude, I don’t know. I’m not from Gallifrey.”
He said, “Then how have you brought me here?” I held up the sonic. He said, “Give that to me. It’s mine.” But it wouldn’t go back. It ‘borrowed’ me one more time. And it — that is, me, as it, I said, “I had to. It was the only way to bring you.”
Me: How did The Doctor react?
Leon: He swiped the sonic back and scowled at me. I started apologizing profusely, trying to explain. He was already walking away. Well, staggering away. I stood there dumbfounded. Next thing I heard was this terrific screeching like a feedback buzz. I yelped, and The Doctor came rounding the corner back in my direction. I suppose he came to see what the commotion was about.
Me: What was the noise?
Leon: Some sort of high frequency the sonic emitted and amplified along the lines of the web. It was trying to get The Doctor’s attention. I don’t know what other information it gave him in that moment, but suddenly he stopped scowling and handed it back to me.
Me: He gave it back?
Leon: I was surprised as well. I don’t think The Doctor understood until that moment it’d been controlling me. But when I took it, it requested another interface so it could talk to him. Using me again it said, “This man is called Leon. He’s not speaking to you, though. I am. I had to use the web. I was lost.”
Me: The little lost sonic! Any idea how it found its way to you?
Leon: Just guesswork, but I suppose it made ‘suggestions’ to whoever found it that sent it along to me. Beyond that I’m stumped. I said as much to The Doctor. We tried to work it out, but we ended up focused on other things.
Me: Tell me about what happened next.
Leon: Gusts of wind and rain happened next. Seemingly out of nowhere. Freak storm. Of course, when The Doctor’s involved, there’s no such thing as a freak storm.
Me: I am aware of this phenomenon.
Leon: He looked up at the sky, squinted then said, “Ohhh this is bad.” Apparently when the sonic and I set up the web, it caught the attention of someone besides The Doctor—
Me: Oh no.
Leon: —who then showed up and set about using it for themselves.
Me: To change weather patterns? That’s a little cliché isn’t it?
Leon: Cliché or not, they did cause the thunderstorm, although not with our web. This web was of interest to a branch of the Calexa Quinity who were passing by.
Me: What is that?
Leon: Most of this we learned later — the Quinity, well they’re a cult. Their belief holds that there are five sacred elements. I believe I can name them all, lets see: water, connections, knowledge, quiet and spark. They seek to create places where the elements all exist in a certain configuration, and that forms a sort of gateway to paradise. That’s what they believe anyway. They call it the ethereal bridge. Apparently, the web we’d just created resembled that bridge. And since they saw it as using the two elements connection and knowledge, they naturally assumed we were of the Quinity ourselves. They’d added the elements water and spark. The only thing left to add was quiet, which is hard to come by when there’s so many people around.
Me: And how was this meant to be remedied?
Leon: The Quinity intended to kill everyone in the area.
Me: Wow. How did you discover all this?
Leon: They came down to thank us.
Leon: Not gonna lie, that part freaked me out a little bit.
Me: I imagine!
Leon: It had started to rain. The Doctor looked up and saw the Quinity ship overhead. Before we could say a word to one another, the transport lights of their beaming technology or whatever, were all around us. Five of them appeared and started thanking us. We still didn’t know exactly what they wanted, but they did make it clear that they wanted to rid the area of “lower life forms”. So when they invited us to their ship, The Doctor accepted, with the assurance that they wouldn’t “invoke the quiet” without the “honor of our presence.”
Me: So what happened after you got to their ship?
Leon: The Doctor took the lead, asking to speak with whoever was in charge. And I remember this clearly — he said, “My engineer will remain behind. I’m sure he’d appreciate a look at your machinery. Don’t forget your multitool, Leon,” and he handed me the sonic. Now, when The Doctor hands you a sonic device and calls you the engineer, you know you have a job to do. The sonic and I really do make an excellent team. We were able to figure out just how they intended to bring about this “quiet”. The web itself would transmit a pulse of energy strong enough to kill those within it, as directed by a program on the Quinity ship. We couldn’t hack the ship’s program, but I knew once back on the surface we could knock out the web at one of its origin points. The only problem would be whether they’d simply repair it.
Me: So did you and The Doctor meet back up?
Leon: Yes. He was gone only a few minutes. He reappeared and took me aside, nodding to the others in the room who then left us alone. He told me they were letting us have a few moments to prepare for the “honor” of the ethereal bridge they thought we were making. We had to be quick. I told The Doctor what the sonic and I had learned. He said the Quinity would try to deliver the death pulse from the only safe place inside the web — the very center. He said it would be tricky, but the web could be reconfigured to send a reverse pulse that would backfire when they tried to use it, shorting out a host of systems on the Quinity ship. After this he was convinced they’d give up and leave. I asked how he could be so sure, but he said he didn’t want to bore me with the details. At that point the Quinity were ready to get a move on, so we ended our conversation and went with them.
Me: So you went back down to the area of the web.
Leon: Yes. It was still raining, and little arcs of lightning flashed now and then. The Doctor took the sonic and instructed me to stay at the center with the members of the Quinity but not to stand between them. Then he said loudly that he regretted his status as a mere 5th level purity didn’t allow him to observe the formation of the bridge. Our hosts were inscrutable, saying, “Then leave us, as we invoke. You have two minutes.” The Doctor started to run, but then it was like he’d hit quicksand. And I remembered the web was still active. He’d have to fight its pull as he worked.
Me: Oh crap.
Leon: I was terrified for him. I was terrified for everyone else. I did what I could to delay the invocation, buy him time. I bitched about how I was unaware he was 5th level, and 5th levels in general, just making up anything I could. Eventually I was silenced as they began their ritual, then all I could do was wait. It was beyond maddening. I knew the sonic and I could have disabled the web ourselves, but The Doctor had a different plan and I didn’t know the details, so I felt stuck…
Me: This sounds pretty intense. We can take a break if you need to, Ponken.
Leon: Thanks. I’m alright. When the Quinity finished the preliminaries they used a device to activate the energy pulse, only it didn’t work. Some purplish tendrils manifested around us for a moment, then nothing. I could tell by their reaction it didn’t do what they expected it to. And they were all quiet until one of them said, “The bridge is blighted. We have failed.” Then they all, one after another said the words, “the Quinity eternal” and joined hands. Then they all let out the most hideous wails and just, disintegrated. There was nothing left.
Me: What was it? What happened?
Leon: I didn’t actually find out until later. Apparently, if there is a failure to achieve any aspect of the ethereal bridge, the members of the Quinity responsible invoke their own quiet. They end their existence rather than face their failure.
Me: So they killed themselves rather than admit something screwed up?
Leon: That was always their plan, yes.
Me: That must have been awful.
Leon: I didn’t want to move, being unsure what the status of the web might be, if the energy pulse was working at all or even where to go if it was safe. Then I saw The Doctor running toward me through the drizzle of the dissipating storm. And I just ran to him shouting, “They’re gone! They’re gone!” I could tell the web was entirely disabled because he moved easily now. He saw the look on my face and said one word. It was a question. “Dead?” he asked me. I nodded. But he smiled and put a hand on my shoulder. “Never fear,” he said. Leaving me, The Doctor raced to the center of the web and searched on the ground. He then picked up something small and checked it, looking satisfied.
Me: What was it?
Leon: A transmat chip. The kind used to teleport things. He’d learned of what normally happens when an ethereal bridge plan goes awry and planted it on one of the Quinity, then adjusted the web to power it. They’d activated a weapon but instead it fed the chip which transported them to a distant planet somewhere. The Doctor said it was pleasant, if a bit rustic. Perhaps they’d see through the deception, but there’s at least a chance they took it to be their paradise and just stayed there.
Me: And after this The Doctor left?
Leon: He saw me home first. He’d stashed the TARDIS not too far from my place anyway.
Me: So that was it?
Leon: Well, not quite. He thanked me for getting the sonic back to him. I told him he could rely on me to help any time, just any time. At that moment he looked out the window and caught sight of my TARDIS — you remember, the one I built that’s just a box? He thanked me again and said he had to be going, then rushed past me in the direction of the garden, muttering something about forgetting where he parked. He turned to give me a last wave and snapped his fingers, you know, to open the TARDIS door, then promptly turned and bashed his head against the closed door of my TARDIS!
Me: Oh my goodness!
Leon: He was alright. Shaken up, and I expect he’ll have a lump there. I’m just glad he kept his footing. There’s no way I could have dragged him inside. After establishing that he was in fact mostly unhurt, he left. And that was it. I came to you with my story because after your unique encounter I figured you’d be likely to listen and take the time to write it out for others to read.
Me: I’m so glad you did.
Leon: Thanks for listening.