“Doctor Cornelius! Doctor Cornelius!”
The old man behind the lectern didn’t look up. “For the last time, boy, be quiet in the Library. You’d think you would respect my seniority, even if you can’t be bothered to read the signs.”
“And for the last time, Mr I-Was-The-Sixteenth-Agent-You-Know,” Lorelei said, coming to a halt, “I’m a girl.”
“Hmm?” Dr. Cornelius peered at her over his glasses. “With hair like that? No, can’t be. Have you checked recently?”
Lorelei caught her hand on its way up to feel her close-cropped dark hair. “Er, moderately recently, yes.”
“Shouldn’t do that; makes you go blind.” Dr. Cornelius carefully placed a bookmark in his ledger and closed the book. “So, boy, what brings you here in such calamitous haste?”
“It’s the Time Lords, sir,” Lorelei said. “The Continuity Council. They’re here. They want to take some books away.”
“Very well; let them.” Dr. Cornelius sniffed. “I fail to see why you’re bothering me with a routine loan like this.”
“Uh, no, I don’t think they want to- that is, they’re not asking to- really, sir, you need to come and see. Like, right now.”
“This is hardly the best use of my time,” the old man grumbled, climbing down from his stool. “I was the Sixteenth Agent, you know; I was famous. And now what am I? A mouldy old grump stuck behind a desk.” Taking up his walking stick, he shot a glare at Lorelei. “I’ll thank you not to agree with that sentiment, boy.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it, sir,” Lorelei said, then dropped into a mutter. “My dreams are much more interesting than this place.”
“Good.” Dr. Cornelius brushed past her, passing between the ranks of books, and then added over his shoulder, “And there’s nothing wrong with my hearing, you know.”
“Er - sorry, sir.”
“I highly doubt it.” Chuckling to himself, with Lorelei hurrying along behind, Dr. Cornelius made his way out into the main hall of the Musée des Univers Perdus.
There was constant low-level debate in the PPC about the precise mechanism that made the central exhibition space in the Musée so much larger than the already-impressive exterior would suggest. Many agents thought it was Time Lord technology, while others claimed it was a manifestation of L-Space, and still others simply that the doors contained a portal to some other building. Dr. Cornelius, Chief Curator of the Musée, didn’t know, and didn’t care, and by this time didn’t even notice. He simply hobbled across the vast marble expanse, beneath the glass ceiling so high it occasionally produced its own weather systems, towards the Gallifreyan gallery.
A woman was standing in front of the door. She was dressed in a standard PPC uniform, save for the orange sash tied roughly about her waist, and the giant collar of flickering flame that marked her as a member of the Continuity Council of Gallifrey-in-Exile. Her hand hung restlessly by her hip, as if she would much rather be holding the gun that was usually holstered there.
“Halt,” she said, holding up her other hand and moving to stand more clearly in front of the door. “This gallery is under Continuity Council jurisdiction; no entry to unauthorised personnel.”
Dr. Cornelius came to a halt and drew himself up. “Young man,” he said, “do you know who I am?”
“Since neither of those words describe me,” the Time Lord said, “apparently not very observant. That’s not a qualification for coming in, I’m afraid.”
“I was the Sixteenth Agent, you know!” Dr. Cornelius spluttered. “And more to the point, I am the Chief Curator of this Musée. I am the definition of authorised personnel.”
The Time Lord looked at him, her expression somewhere between amusement, irritation, and general weariness. Then she lifted a communicator to her lips. “Blue,” she said, “we’ve got official attention here; want to come smooth things over?”
“Will do, Orange,” came the crackly reply, and a handful of seconds later, a trio of Time Lords stepped out of the gallery. The one in the green holographic collar - decorated with dense Circular Gallifreyan text - held an armful of books, while the other two - a woman in a purple gemstone affair, a man in a similar blue costume - were bickering quietly between themselves.
“Great,” the guard said, and then frowned. “Disentangler? Why’re you dressed as Pink?”
“We’ve swapped,” the purple-clad woman said, and glowered briefly. “And it’s purple.”
“I’m pretty sure you can’t do that,” the guard told her.
“I said that,” the man in green muttered, leafing through the topmost book on his stack. “I also mentioned the havoc it would wreak on our records. But then, naturally, the Notary chipped in to support me, and the decision was as good as made.”
The guard grimaced. “I thought she’d gotten over that compulsive need to join in every discussion.”
“Morgan,” said the man in blue, “this is the Notary we’re talking about. I don’t think she knows how to ‘get over’ things.”
“This is all very exciting, I’m sure,” Dr. Cornelius broke in, “but I can’t help noticing you’re busy raiding my collection. I’m afraid that is strictly forbidden; the Yertis has already been notified, and DIA agents will be here momentarily.”
Behind him, Lorelei blinked. “Wait, who called the DIA?” she asked. “I didn’t think you’d had time.”
Dr. Cornelius sighed and gave her a disapproving look. “As I was saying,” he went on, “the Yertis will be notified shortly. Whatever you are planning, it will not be successful.”
“You hear that, Adil?” the woman in purple asked. “We’re not going to succeed in our dastardly plot.”
“You’d better go let Fish and the Reader know they might have to flee for their lives, then,” the man in blue replied. “Don’t bother to tell the Notary; maybe the DIA can do some good while they’re here.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” the woman said, and ducked back through the door.
The man rolled his eyes and turned to Dr. Cornelius. “Now,” he said, “where were we?”
Dr. Cornelius simply gaped, and Lorelei thought it prudent to step in before the Chief Curator’s legendary ire was levelled at the Time Lords. “Can you just tell us why you’re doing this?” she asked. “Maybe then we can sort something out.”
“Marvellous idea,” said the orange-clad guard, her voice dry. “It’s a wonder someone didn’t think of it before, and suggest it, and be overruled by certain other members of the Council on distinctly spurious grounds.”
“It isn’t nice to say ‘I told you so’,” the man in blue chided, then turned to the curators and beamed. “Hi!” he said. “I am the Agent, currently serving as Sapphire Watcher of the Continuity Council of Gallifrey-in-Exile.”
“Currently standing in for,” the man in green put in.
“Hush. The reason we are here today,” the Agent went on, pulling a sheet of paper out of his pocket, “is this.” And he held up a photograph for Dr. Cornelius to look at.
Of course, the Chief Curator was still too furious to respond, so Lorelei leant over his shoulder and studied the picture. “It’s a planet,” she said dubiously. “You want to… add it to the archives or something?”
“That,” said the man in green, “is the planet Gallifrey, in the constellation of Kasterborous, galactic coordinates ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two. And that,” he leant over and pointed at a blue speck floating near the planet, “is the Doctor’s TARDIS.”
“And what about all the others?” Lorelei asked, squinting at the picture. “There must be at least a dozen of them.”
“They’re also the Doctor’s TARDIS,” said a new voice, and a man wearing a red collar made of taut fabric stepped out of the door. “Almost done,” he said to the Agent. “The Reader’s setting the last few Remote Activators now.”
Dr. Cornelius’ eyebrows lowered dangerously. “What,” he demanded, “are you doing in my library?”
“Fixing it,” said the man in red. “As a result of the Doctor’s utterly irresponsible act - and honestly, I have no idea how he managed to escape blowing his TARDIS into smithereens yet again - Gallifrey was jumped into a pocket dimension, and the Dalek fleet besieging it was destroyed.”
“Which means,” the Agent said, taking up the thread again, “that your Musée is out of date. Gallifrey stands. Our fictional universes are not lost. And this gallery is closed for business.”
Lorelei actually took a step back. Dr. Cornelius seemed to swell up, his face turning a bright red. And then, all in an instant, he smiled.
“Very well, then,” he said. “I congratulate you on your planet’s return. You are quite correct; Gallifrey’s literature is no longer under our jurisdiction. Am I right in thinking that you are returning our collection to its rightful owners?”
The Agent exchanged a look with his colleagues. “Well, yes,” he said. “Are you-?”
“Marvellous,” Dr. Cornelius said with a chuckle. “You see, young lady, there was no need for all this subterfuge; we are perfectly capable of being reasonable here at the Musée des Univers Perdus.”
“Good! That’s great,” the Agent said. “But I’m not a woman.”
“Really?” Dr. Cornelius eyed him skeptically. “Have you checked recently?”
Disclaimer: Doctor Who belongs to the BBC. The PPC belongs to Jay and Acacia. The Musée des Univers Perdus was created by Tawaki. The various Time Lords belong to their creators and current writers. Morgan, Lorelei, and Dr. Cornelius are mine; the latter two are designated free-to-use.
Author’s Note: This story takes place shortly after the release of The Day of the Doctor, the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who.