We're On The Air! (well, sorta...)


Mara, Demon First Class, general all-around bastard and current assistant assistant helper at Look Who's Talking, stomped over to the whining little brats.

'All right, what is is *this* time?! You go poo-poo in your nappy? Someone throw up on you? You get between baby Skuld and her bombs?'

'HE BIT ME!!!!!' the little girl wailed.



'It's a _bite_, kid. It's supposed to-'


Oooh. Now _this_ was more interesting...

Mara turned her most charming smile on the little boy.

Unfortunately, her most charming smile would have had Genghis Khan behind the sofa, pleading for mercy.

'Would you like to show me what happened?'

The boy looked up at her, then shrugged. 'Why not?'

The girl turned to him. 'Because. It. Hurt.'

'I was hungry.'


'You're a fish. Fish are supposed to be eaten.'

'_Ex_cuse me?' the girl huffed. 'You're not a peng -pen - pengy -thingy! You're a Whiffy! An' only pengies eat _fish!_ And...' She took a deep breath. 'I AM NOT A FISH!!'

Mara _blinked_. The sight of a baby penguin and a baby fish girl arguing over whether one could eat the other was one that was gonna require a _lot_ of psychotherapy...

'Oh yes you _are...'

'Am not am not am not!'

'Are too are too are too are _too_ with _knobs_ on!'


'Don't. Call. Me. That.'


'LalalalalalalaI'm not _listening_...'

'You started it,' the girl said.'And you _are_ a Whiffy...'

'My _name_, _Izzy_,' the boy huffed. 'is _Frobie_!'

The girl scratched her head. 'I thought it was Pingu...'

'Never. Say. That. Name. Again.'

Izzy blinked cat-slitted eyes at Mara. 'What _are_ you doing?'

'Taking notes,' Mara said. 'And they said children weren't demonic...'

'_She_ isn't...' Frobie said, pointing at another toddler, this one with long, wild blonde hair and a leather coat.

Mara winced.

'Hey, Mara!' Frobie yelled. 'Get over here!'

Baby Mara, Demon First Class, toddled over to them.

She looked up at Mara with an angelic look on her face. 'Oh. Hi, nice lady...'

In all her many years of devoted service to Demon Central, Mara reflected, she'd never seen anything _quite_ so demonic as what she saw now.

A baby demon, a baby Whifferdill in the form of a penguin, and a baby fish girl, _looking_ at her, with the most angelic expressions they could muster.

And the Other Side said children were _innocent?!_


'I love doing that.'

Baby Frobisher grinned (insofar as a baby penguin _could_ grin).

'Yeah...' baby Izzy said. 'Sometimes, you just _have_ to show the Adults who's boss around here...'

They shared a mutual grin.

'How's it going?'

Baby Izzy sighed. 'Fish outta water, cold fish, fish an' chips... Can' wait 'till we actually find out what those actually _mean_...'

Baby Frobie grinned. 'Hey, at least you've got oppozed.. oppo-whatsit digits.'

'Opposable,' baby Izzy corrected him.

'Have you any _idea_ what it's like having an Adult toss food in your beak?'

Baby Izzy frowned. 'That's normal for us...'

'Not when they play circus music while they're doing it...' Baby Frobie pouted. 'I wan' _big_ Izzy back...'

'She's on hollyday, remember?' baby Izzy pointed out. 'Wanted a break.'

'Yeah, but we went to see her, right?'

'We did...' A very slow grin started to spread across baby Izzy's face.

Made even _more_ unnerving by the sharp, pointed teeth it revealed.



'Hi, Compassion.'

'Doc.' the toddler TARDIS muttered.

'How's it going?'

'Not good. Obviously. In fact, it's _been_ obvious for the last few _months_!' Compassion said. 'Even _you_ can notice that!'

'Really?' Doc said, with that infuriating grin of his. 'Perhaps you could tell me about it... I mean, most of us have imaginary friends, but we don't set about bringing them to life...'

'This is _not_ an imaginary friend,' Compassion huffed. 'This is a properly thought-out, well-designed scientific experiment on the mass combination of biodata...'

'You're talking Washu-speak again...' Doc observed. 'Basically, what you're _actually_ saying is that you want to create a toddler made out of all of us.'

'Yes. Is there a problem?'

'Compassion,' Doc said gently. 'we're _toddlers_. Think about it.'

'I did. Is there a problem?'

'We're all doomed...' Doc muttered.


[SixthDoc] Oh, come _on_. You're thinking too small.

[Ryoko] Oh yeah? And how am I supposed to think any bigger?

[SixthDoc] A cardboard _box_, Ryoko? That _is_ thinking small.

[Ryoko] Oh yeah? And I suppose you have a _better_ way of playing TV?

[SixthDoc] Well, not to put too fine a point on it... yes.

[Ryoko] Right... What, you got a TV station in your nappy?

[SixthDoc] The next best thing...

[Ryoko] ...You're kidding.

[SixthDoc] Oh, Ayeka...

[Ryoko] You wouldn't _dare_...

[SixthDoc] We need the money...

[Ayeka] Yes, Doctor-san?

[SixthDoc] How would you like to be on TV?

[Ayeka] TV? Me? A royal Princess of Jurai?

[SixthDoc] Tenchi would see it...

[Ayeka] But... I couldn't! I'm not dressed! Or made-up! I can't let him see me like this!

[Ryoko] Why not? Everyone else has...

[SixthDoc] ..._And_, you would bring a much needed sense of dignity, grace and nobility sorely lacking in Earth telecommunications...

[Ayeka] [looks up from where she's scuffling with Ryoko] Pardon? Could you repeat that?

[SixthDoc]...Never mind...


Izzy crawled over to the baby Sixth Doctor, currently watching babies Ayeka and Ryoko fight it out.

'Did you say _TV?_' she asked.

Sixth nodded. 'Well, we went into radio a couple of years back... and there was the movie a couple of years before _that_... TV seems like a natural step.'

'This wouldn't have anything to do with getting Barney off the air again, would it?'

'Of _course_ not.' Sixth drew himself up to his full height (about three feet). 'This will be a perfectly respectable enterprise, dedicated to the education, entertainment and edification of toddlers across the omniverse. It has _nothing_ to do with that squamous, blasphemous entity calling itself Shub-Barneyrath. Who, might I add, will be first in the playpen when the revolution comes.'

'...Right.' Izzy raised an eyeridge. 'Of course. And... hey, wait a minute...' She started to grin. 'Don't the Adults have a TV programme...?'

'No... Oh... Oh, of course. You mean...'

'...Mystery Psycho Theatre 3000,' Izzy completed, grinning. 'There's something to be said for having all these Meccano sets around. We don't _need_ free cable - we just pick 'em up from Cammy's transmitters...'

'I _heard_ that...' came a voice from the other side of the playroom.

Baby Frobie crossed his flippers behind his back. 'Are you _sure_ we're supposed to be watching it?'

'Well, the Adults would have _mentioned_ if it weren't, right?'

'I suppose...'

'There you go, then.' Sixth said. 'If they haven't said we're not supposed to, then they must mean we _are_ supposed to, right?'

'Yeah... Yeah!' Baby Frobie cheered up, reassured by Sixth's logic.

'Right. So if the _Adults_ have a TV programme, why don't _we_ have a TV station?' Sixth said.

'Using Cammy as the aerial?' Izzy said. 'I could see that...'

Sixth winced. 'I had a slightly _different_ idea in mind...'

'Oh, _Izzy_...' came the crooning voice from the other side of the playroom.

'Uh-oh...' Frobie muttered.


Being a TARDIS is hard.

Being a toddler TARDIS is harder.

Being a toddler TARDIS who's not allowed to dematerialise out of the playgroup and go play in the Vortex is even worse.

So, to take up some of her run time, Compassion had agreed to act as the sometime TV aerial for the playgroup.

However, _being_ a TARDIS effectively means that picking up and broadcasting an entire planet's media web will take up... oh, about 0.0001% of your processing time.

Which means you're _still_ extremely _bored_ the rest of the time...

Which was, in effect, why Compassion had started devoting more of her processing time to ever more bizarre projects.

Like the creation of life.


The pocket universe had taken a millisecond. The Grand Unified Field Theory... done in an attosecond (a time Compassion still regarded as far too long). The mystery of where all the lost socks went... that had taken a _little_ longer (1.5 milliseconds), but afterwards...

She needed something to _challenge_ her.

Which was why she'd turned to the creation of life.

At the moment, though...

...at the moment, she wasn't getting anywhere.

_Hadn't_ been getting anywhere for _months_.

So, in frustration, she'd decided to step back for a while and devote some of her consciousness in actually observing the signals she was picking up.

In _human_ terms, this would be phrased as 'flopping back and switching on the telly'.

Frankly, as far as Compassion was concerned, the human term could bury itself six feet under.

She stopped.


Flicked back.

'Wait a minute...'

'Wait just a minute!'

"Sugar and spice and everything nice... these were the ingredients needed to create the perfect little girl... but Professor Utonium accidentally added in an extra ingredient..."

"Element X."

'I didn't see it... I didn't _see_ it!'

'So simple. So _simple!_'

'All I need to do... is add Element X!'

'And they said media signals weren't educational. Hah! Shows _them!_'


Far away, in the small city of Townsville...




The Powerpuff Girls sniffled, frowned, looked at each other, then shrugged and went back to beating on the latest monster.


'Now, even a TARDIS, impressive as it is, does not possess the energy required to broadcast to the entire omniverse.'

'The entire *omniverse?!*' his audience chorused.

Sixth shrugged. 'If we're going to do it, we may as well go all the way...'

His audience looked at each other.

'Got a point there...'

'Sounds good to me...'

'Why not?'

'Oooh, omniversal merchandising...'

'That a good enough reason?'


Sixth tapped his foot. 'If we could _continue?_... Thank you. Now, a TARDIS doesn't have the required power... but I have discovered what _does_...'

He patted the device next to him, which looked as if it'd been built out of Meccano, Lego and assorted pieces from divine building sets (which it had). 'With the help of my glamorous assistant...'

Baby Skuld bowed.

Massive applause from the audience.

'...with the _help_ of my glamorous assistant,' Sixth continued, glaring at her. 'I have managed to create and bind a quantum singularity. Not only shall it act as the medium by which we will broadcast and receive transmissions from across the omniverse, it shall _also_ act as our power source, providing us with the energy required to broadcast the signals across all reality...'

'That sounds horribly familiar...' baby Frobie murmured.

Baby Mara raised a hand. 'Umm... won't the Adults notice if we start broadcasting? I mean, TV people need... all that telly stuff an' that, an' even an Adult won't miss it... And, umm... won't they get mad?'

'In part... that's the point,' Sixth replied. 'We _want_ a big audience. But... you do have a point. The Adults _do_ tend to get... upset, when we do something like this...'

Ryoko scratched her head. 'Don' see why...'

'However... I _have_ made sure we won't get bothered...' Sixth frowned. 'Something they call "paperwork". Why, when the paper isn't working...' He shrugged. 'Anyway, the _other_ Adults won't bother us... but we still have to deal with _our_ Adults...'

'So we wanna keep all of the stuff outta the way, otherwise they'll wonder why we keep playing TV, right?' Ryoko said.

'Pretty much...' Sixth said.

Doc grinned. 'I've got the _perfect_ idea... Come with me...'


A little door set into the wall of Look Who's Talking.

On it is a sign that reads 'Greatest _Baby_ Genius Mad Scientist in the Universe. Do Not Disturb.'

'Washu? Washu-chan? Are you in here?'



Washu looked up to where Ryoko was clinging to the ceiling. 'Well, she can certainly jump... Hello, Ayeka.'

Baby Ayeka bowed. 'Hello, Miss Washu. We've come to ask for your help.'

'Certainly. Now, cosmetic surgery....'

'Not _that_ kind of help...' Ayeka seethed, while Ryoko sniggered overhead. 'We need somewhere safe to base a TV station from...'

'My lab would be the obvious place... but that means it would be obvious to the Adults... Of course, that's why you came to me, correct?'

Ayeka nodded.

Washu-chan cracked her knuckles. 'Give me five minutes.'


Washu shrugged. 'I need to finish my bottle of milk, first. Can't go to work without the proper nutrients, y'know...'

Ayeka eyed the bottle. 'I don't think I want to know.'

'Oh, it's perfectly safe. Cow's milk.'

Ayeka started breathing again.

'...Or was it Arcturan mudpuppy milk...?' Washu frowned at the bottle again. 'Forget my own head, one of these days...'

Ayeka turned green, and dashed for the potty.


'Washu's sorting out the location... Now... My First Cameras?'


'Toy microphones?'


'Quasi-dimensional TV aerial, complete with licence?'



'Nicked it from Kiyone's locker. You wouldn't _believe_ how much she has...'

'Costumes? Props?'

'Yep. And we've got the toybox, if necessary....'

'Don't remind me... Megaphones?'


'Turn... it... down... a bit?'

'Sorry, Doc.'

'Sound desks? Mixing desks?'

'...We had to improvise.'

'Oh, great.'

'Hey, Ryoko said they'd work _brilliantly_!'

'We're doomed... Video editing? Archives? Production?'

'No problem.'

'No problem?'

'Mara says she can take care of it back home.'

'You're telling me... that _Demon Central_ is taking care of our _videos?_'

'Hey, Skuld offered Yggdrasil to do the computing, Mara wanted to help too...'

'Okay, okay... Hmm. Cast and crew, no problem... fees... Milk, goop, milk, liquids, solids... oh, and Pokemon and Digimon cards.'


'...The _kitchen's_ doing the food...'


'....Hm. Stages and lighting... depends on what Washu gets us... Anji's handling accounts... Ayeka... or Ayeka's _daddy_... is financing this... even if he doesn't know it... _Music_!'

'Kiyone's CDs?'

'Perfect. Scientific, magical, and divine advisors in place...'


'Urd. Who better than a goddess?'


'...I _think_ that's everything. Now...'


Kiyone opened her locker.

'My makeup! My CDs! Mara, what the *hell* did you do with them?!'

'It wasn't me!!' the demoness protested.

'Oh no?'

'Ex-_cuse_ me? Evil has more taste than _puce_ lipstick...'

'It is _not_ puce!'

'Oh, I'm sorry... Vomit-yellow, am I right?'



Washu grinned. 'Gotcha.'

Ryoko peered over her shoulder. 'You found somewhere?'

'And I think you'll like it... Ryo-sama.' Washu's grin got, if possible, even bigger.

'_Must_ you?' Ryoko groaned.

'I _am_ your mother, you know...' Washu smirked.

'YOU'RE TWO YEARS OLD!!!' Ryoko shrieked.

'So?' Washu asked.

'We're _toddlers!_'

Washu frowned primly. 'I don't know what your hangup is, Ryoko. After all, I used my own ovum to create you.'

Ryoko stuck her fingers in her ears. 'Lalalalalalala... I'm not listening!!'


'Now... all I have to do to get us there,' Washu announced, 'is reconfigure the exterior interface with this dimension.'

Izzy blinked. 'Huh?'

'She's going to move the door.' Doc said.

'Oh. Why didn't you say?'

'I did.'

'She _did?_' Frobie said.

'Washu-speak.' Sixth explained.



The door creaked open.

Frobie blinked in the sunlight. 'We're outside?'

'We're going up... and down. Up... and down...' Izzy started going green (a good trick, given she was already green...)

'WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!!' Ryoko screamed.

'Who's going to find us here?' Washu asked.

'How about ....every military satellite on Earth?!'

Washu shrugged. 'We're in another continuity-transcendent zone. They won't know which timeline we're in - let alone when and _where_ we are... Especially with my shields up.'

'So where _are_ we?' Frobisher asked nervously.

'A pirate ship, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean...'

'_The Pacific?!_' Mara screeched.

'Wait a minute... If no military satellite can find it, how did _you_ do it?' Izzy said.

'I _am_ the Greatest Baby Mad Scientist in the Universe...' Washu said.

Doc looked around. 'This _is_ going to be rather limiting...'

'Coming from a baby who built a dimensionally transcendental pushchair, _that's_ rich...' Izzy said.

'He did _what?!_' Washu gasped.

'I wanted to explore...' Doc shrugged.

'So... if you can build a dimensionally transcendental pushchair, why don't you make the _ship_ bigger on the inside than on the outside? Or annex it to Compassion?'

'I heard that.'

'Hmm...' Doc said.

'Wait... we're in the _Pacific Ocean?_' Frobie tried again.

Sixth's eyes narrowed. 'Wait a minute... _Which_ dimensionally transcendant zone did you use, chibi-Washu...?'

'Umm...' Washu suddenly blushed.

'Which. One. Chibi-Washu?'

'Well,itwassuchaniceplaceandIzzydidsayshewantedtomeetbigIzzyagainandit seeemedsointerestingforscientificresearch...'

'We're in the Fantasy Island zone...' Doc concluded.

'All right...' Ayeka said. '...but where did they get a _PIRATE SHIP?!!_'

'Fantasy Island, remember? This was set up for an earlier visitor's fantasy...'

'Wait...' Frobie said. 'If it was set up... what happened to the earlier visitor?'

'What was _that?!!?_' Izzy yelped.

'The traditional ominous music, for use when our heroes stumble on something scary...' Doc said.


'....Does it matter?' Ryoko said.

'She don't know horror vewy well, do she...' Mara murmured.

'Ryoko does have a point, Mara. If no-one turned _up_, then there can't have been a problem with the ship _itself_, right?' Doc said.

'Well, I suppose...' Izzy began.

'Wait a moment. This is a pirate ship, right?' Ayeka said.

'Yes...?' Washu said.

'It's a pirate ship _sized for Adults_....' Ayeka emphasised.

As one, the others stared at the Doctor.

The Doctor shrugged. 'So we adjust the dimensions to fit. What's the problem?'

'A toddler pirate ship, running a toddler pirate TV station, hosted by a toddler space pirate.' Izzy said. 'Is there something wrong with this picture?'

The others looked at each other.



'Right. Let's let them know we're out here, shall we?' Doc grinned.

It was a grin that would have had most _demons_ running for cover...

'Ryoko? I believe the desk is yours?'

Ryoko crawled over to the captain's desk and crawled up the leg of the chair.

Sixth grunted as he moved the sound boom into position.

'Why does _she_ have to be the first one on?' Ayeka huffed.

' 'Cause she's already a pirate. She knows what we're going for.'

'So do I.' Ayeka sniffed.

'Yeah... but you're so... gentle, and kind, and noble, that the Adults won't even believe this _could_ be a pirate station. Not with the most noble Crown Princess of...'

'You can stop reading the script now...'

Frobie looked blank. 'There's a script?'

Doc grinned, and tipped his director's hat.


Frobie flipped on the lights.


Mara pushed the 'Record/Play' button.

Doc raised his hand to the sky.

The others grinned in anticipation.

'And... ACTION!!'


In This Time Round...

'Boss-man need to see this.'

Adric groaned. 'What is it _now_, Francois?'

'Boss-man _really_ need to see this. Switch on TV. Channel 212.'

Adric frowned. Was it just him, or did Francois sound... worried?

What the hell could worry Francois?


On the Satellite of Love, where certain legendary psychos are held captive...

'Oh. My. God.'

'Oh. My. God.'

'Oh. My. God.'

'By the _Keeper!_'

'Kill. The. Writer. Kill. The. Writer.'



Adric *boggled*.

'Oh, _cruk_.'

'Psycho people getting this too,' Francois said.

'They're WHAT?!!?!?!!'


On Fantasy Island, where certain _adult_ versions of characters are on holiday...

Oh god, oh god, oh god...

Well, I think they look cute.

She _would_ say that, the happy freak...

Y'know, this gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "pirate TV"...

I just _knew_ someone was going to make that gag...

Hey, if I hadn't, we'd be here all night...


In the Badlands...


Ember Ashe woke up, trembling.

'What was _that?_.... _Babies_... Babies crawling everywhere...'

Ember stopped.

'Wait... why was _that_ a nightmare? That's not my usual nightmare...'

She tried to get back to sleep. And to more familiar demons.



'Hmm. Psychic backwash. Shouldn't be a problem...'


In Townsville...


'We're superheroines, Bubbles...'

'I _still_ wanna TV show of my own...'

'Are _you_ going to tell her?'

'I did it _last_ time. It's _your_ turn...'



In a subdomain of Subreality...

Lydia _boggled_. 'And I thought the _Bradleyard_ was bad...'

The captive Nyssaias winced. 'You're telling me... Is it any _wonder_ his Muse is on work experience?'

'...Someone _else_ out there has one of you?'


'So why the _hell_ did we kidnap _you?!_'

' 'Cause the Bradleyard is the most evil version of _BKWillis_ around. He wants revenge on _my_ author, not _this_ guy...'

Lydia suddenly had a very, very bad thought. 'Does _this_ author have a really evil version around?'


Lydia sighed in relief.

'His _Muse_ does, though...'



Meanwhile, up above the source of all this...

Compassion looked around furtively, then prepared to crawl out of Washu's lab and onto the ship.

However, at that moment...

...Izzy decided to poke her head around Washu's door. 'Compassion? What ya doing?'



Izzy and Compassion looked at the two beakers Compassion had dropped.

One was marked 'Bio-data', the other 'Element X'.

And _both_ had spilled onto the deck floor.

Izzy and Compassion looked at each other.

Then down at the floor.

'Oh, *pants*.'

The deck floor started to bubble.


Whistling innocently, Compassion and Izzy toddled away from the accident.

Then, when they were sure no-one was looking, they scooted across the floor, breaking several speed limits in the process.

Behind them, the deck floor continued to bubble...

...then stopped.

And, as any good mad scientist (like Washu) would tell you, it's not when the mixture is _bubbling_ that you have to be worried.

It's when the bubbling *stops*...


'And there's more from PTTV, Pirate Toddler TV, available on Channel 212, all across the omniverse, all day, _every_ day, right after this...'




Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat