MIXED SPIRITS

CHAPTER ONE

Inside the TARDIS, as Nyssa understood it, was an infinite space. Outside it was also an infinite space. And there were a finite number of TARDISes, which meant a finite number of infinities contained within a likewise infinity, which meant -

- sometimes she was glad she was a biochemist rather than a mathematician. She wondered if longterm consideration of such issues was a contributing factor to Time Lord mentality. It would explain a great deal.

Inside the TARDIS, however, at the moment, was also an argument. This was by no means unusual. It was somewhat louder than usual, but that was because the Doctor was shouting in order to make himself heard from underneath the console.

Tegan had her hands on her hips. She was back in that air hostess uniform again, Nyssa noted. "I don't understand why you can spare all this time to fiddle with the stupid TARDIS controls if you can't get me home! If fiddling with them will make it go to the right place in the first place, why couldn't you have fiddled earlier!"

"Because," the Doctor grunted patiently, "I'm homing in on a signal." His legs protruded from under the console. One hand emerged and groped around. Adric put a tool in it. The hand retreated again. "And Heathrow doesn't give off this type of signal."

Tegan bristled. "You're telling me that Heathrow doesn't give off a signal you can track?"

"Exactly!" the Doctor called back, his voice having a depth and echo to it that shouldn't be natural for someone in the same room who'd just stuck his head under a piece of machinery. "You've got it!"

"Why not?"

There was a pause.

"That is," Tegan clarified, "why can't you - in the future, after we've Ibeen/I to Heathrow, you know - put some sort of transmission thing there so in the past you'll be able to find it and won't keep on getting Ilost/I?"

"That's against the Laws of Time," the Doctor said quickly.

"It sounds plausible," Adric said thoughtfully. "That's really clever, Tegan. I wouldn't have thought you'd think of that."

Tegan frowned at him. "So how come you didn't?"

"I don't want to go to Heathrow," Adric said. "I want to go back to E-Space. And that reminds me, Doctor -"

"Nyssa," the Doctor broke in, with more than a trace of desperation to his voice, "give me a readout from the dials I've marked. Please?"

Nyssa leaned over. "Zero zero three point two zero point seven zero rho pi sigma seventy-nine."

"That's interesting." The Doctor dragged himself out from under the console. "Earth! Twenty-first century Earth. And the most interesting thing is that while that is actually -"

"Heathrow?" Tegan interrupted hopefully.

"Japan, actually." The Doctor gave her a disapproving look. "But while it's Japan, it's also paralleling it in space-time. In fact, if I just adjust the dials to get a precise lock-on and synchronisation . . ."


It was another perfect day in Hueco Mundo.

Ulquiorra reflected calmly on the glorious promise of existence that lay before him like a gutted enemy. All was well in this best of all possible worlds, and the future was looking even better, with Aizen-sama guiding them all towards a glorious victory. He allowed himself a few seconds of self-congratulation on his position as most trusted agent of the future god and ruler of all existence.

"Looking good, ain't it?" Ichimaru Gin said directly behind him.

Ulquiorra diverted his thoughts from the immediate consideration of a glorious future that did not include Ichimaru Gin, preferably due to the latter's agonising death, but with side-options on discovery of said latter's inevitable treachery by Ulquiorra himself, or possibly falling heroically in battle against overwhelming shinigami forces, and turned to bow politely. "Yes, Ichimaru-sama," he agreed. "Aizen-sama's latest experiment is most promising."

"Don't suppose you know what it is?" Ichimaru asked.

"That has not been revealed to me," Ulquiorra stated forbiddingly.

"Mmm."

The two of them turned to regard the construct of leashed reiatsu and non-Euclidean mechanisms which Aizen Sousuke was pacing round thoughtfully. In the background, other Arrancar lurked near the walls in thoughtful poses.

"Ah, Gin," Aizen said without turning around. "What do you think?"

"Interesting noises," Ichimaru said, his habitual smirk growing as he sauntered towards the device. "Is this another thing to do with the - you know?"

Aizen tipped one hand vaguely. "There is a connection. But this is more of a way of channelling power. Crude and rather basic, of course, and an application of some of the more destructive kidou techniques combined with binding ones for a bootstrapping effect -"

The device's glow suddenly intensified to a vivid white even purer than an Arrancar's robes. Ulquiorra reflected, as he rapidly took cover, how good it was to work for a genius who not only understood but positively Iapproved/I survival instinct in his creations.

"Yoruichi!" Urahara's voice carolled out merrily.

Yoruichi settled herself more comfortably on the cushion.

"Yoruichi!" He appeared in the doorway, fan raised happily.

She flicked an ear at him.

"Something terrible must have happened!" He was grinning. "There's been a huge trans-etheric sub-meso-astral collision of some sort. Leaves buildings standing, plasters Hollows on the ceiling, the usual. Come on! We need to investigate! Our services are required!"

"Take an aspirin and call me in the morning," Yoruichi grunted, and buried her head under her tail as she tried to resume her interrupted nap.

A pity, Ulquiorra thought as he surveyed the sparking remains of the device. Aizen-sama had been so interested in it.

"Oh, don't worry," Aizen said, with that easy understanding he always showed of those around him. "It'll be simple enough to reconstruct, and it was accessing a significant amount of power towards the end. This might actually be the best way to fully empower the . . ." He glanced across towards Ichimaru Gin, and blinked. "Gin? Are you all right?"

Ichimaru Gin was bracing himself against the wall with one hand, staring at his own fingers as if they surprised him. He'd lost his customary smile. "Curiouser and curiouser," he said, and collapsed in a heap.

Aizen snapped his fingers. "Take him to the infirmary," he told the low-grade Arrancar who scuttled to his side. "Have Tousen see to him."


"The input bar! That input bar!" Adric shouted at Nyssa, throwing a set of switches on the console.

Nyssa bit back what she would have liked to say - she knew perfectly well which the input bar was, she'd been with the Doctor for a while now and unlike some people, Ishe/I paid attention - and forced down the input bar, avoiding the charred and smoking section of the console. "How is he?" she called to Tegan.

Tegan had dragged the unconscious Doctor away from the console and was slapping his face hopefully. "He's not waking up," she reported. "Can you land this thing?"

Adric swallowed. "I think we're going to have to hope it stays on course. He'd already set the TARDIS to follow that trail. We're probably going to end up wherever it is."

The viewscreen showed a swirling pattern of stars and space.

"Oh, great," Tegan muttered.

"Don't worry," Adric said hastily. "I'm almost certain we've got crash protocols - that button! No, that one!"

The three of them held onto the protruding parts of the console while the TARDIS came to a rocking, juddering stop.

Nyssa couldn't help noticing that Adric had had his fingers crossed.

Tegan pointed at the viewscreen, which showed a suburban-looking exterior. "If that's Japan, at least it's a city."

"As opposed to?" Nyssa enquired.

"Oh. Mountains. Seashore. Being stuck," Tegan added, with what Nyssa felt was unwarranted feeling, "in some sort of historical period with a whole mob of lunatics with swords trying to kill you. You know, the sort of thing we usually -"

The Doctor coughed and stirred faintly.

"We should give him brandy," Tegan suggested, diverted. "Do you know where he keeps it?"

"Alcohol is unhealthy and an intoxicant," Adric said primly. "Maybe we should crush his celery."

Nyssa knelt down next to the Doctor, on the other side from Tegan. "Doctor? Can you hear us?"

The Doctor's eyelids fluttered. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked up at the two girls. "I need a doctor?" he said vaguely.

"No," Tegan said patiently. "You are the Doctor. We've got to wherever it is. Are you okay?"

"It don't look that way," the Doctor whispered faintly, and his eyes shut again.

"Right." Tegan stood up, brushing her hands clean. "Looks like we're going to have to wait for him to come round before we go exploring -" She gave Adric, who had been about to speak, a very pointed glare. "Unless Iyou/I can fix up a detector to find whatever that was."

Adric sighed and hung his head.

"Fine. Go find that wheelchair."

As Adric slouched off, Nyssa frowned. "Did the Doctor sound at all strange to you, just then?"

Tegan thought about it, then shook her head. "Naah. Concussion. That's all."

Nyssa nodded. "True." She rose from her knees, and walked across to the console. "I'll get the readings for when he comes round. He'll want to know everything we can find out about this -" She checked the readouts. "Karakura place."