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Things ambulated. Other things floated, scurried, swam, undulated and fleened. Polite and inoffensive sounds in several thousand languages flowed over the mass of beings; a murmur of far-from-polite murderousness rippled under the flow. Signs flashed, and a few stragglers from a protest of some sort held placards reading "Snaff Bo All Humans! Kremulate the Winslow!" A clean up crew was dragging away what looked like ninjas from several species.

In an alcove where there wasn't anything, there was suddenly a big blue box.

This was by far the least surprising thing to happen that day.


"Ah, yes. Here we are!" The Doctor gestured grandly, taking in the entire place as he stepped out of the TARDIS. "Rose, welcome to the Gallimaufry."

"So this is where you're from then?"

"What? No, no. Not Gallifrey. Gallimaufry. With no 'e' and a 'mau'. The Gallimaufry's sort of an intergalactic United Nations in this sector, only not quite. Doesn't take itself as seriously. More backstabbing, but better parties."

"Sounds awfully similar, though." Rose smirked.

The Doctor frowned slightly. "So do geese and bicycle horns. Come on."

The concourse they'd landed on was like Regent Street in London, at Christmas time, but after several small bombs had gone off. Some debris and scorch marks were being tended to here and there; all manner of shops and masses of people were bustling around. Only here, most of them didn't look even vaguely human. And the ones that did...

"There's a centaur back there!" Rose gasped.

The Doctor nodded. "Silverrunner. Jenners, genetically designed for their planet, which is almost entirely plains. A semi-equine form of colonist was more practical than terraforming."

"So the centaur, Silverrunner, he's human?" Rose craned her neck but the horse-man had disappeared into the throng.

"Mostly. There's quite a bit of genetic manipulation going on in this place and time. Still, a lot more non-human species than humans. Humanity is the new kid at the intergalactic party in this sector. Best known for popsicles." The Doctor ruffled his hair. "Funny, that. I would have thought the edible ball bearings would have made more of an impression."

"I'm sorry, the what?"

The Doctor shook his head. "Never mind, got distracted, tell you later. It's an odd little era. Kind of a hiccup in the continuum, really. The whole of the 30's are."

"1930's? Really?" said Rose, pointedly looking around at all the aliens.

"Millennial 30's. 31st through 39th millennium. Part of humanity thought the Earth had been wiped clear of life, huge misunderstanding, really." The Doctor turned to face Rose, walking backward through the crowd. "They sequestered themselves under Antarctica, managed to come back out during a quiet time on Earth, assumed everyone was dead and headed out to found colonies. Totally different section of space. All a bit... odd. Especially in this corner of the galaxy. I usually avoid it."

"So what exactly is this place, then?"

"The Gallimaufry is 'A cultural exchange, a boiling pot of cross-pollination of ideas and science and art and everything. A place for thousands of sentient species to make peaceful progress towards ultimate understanding,'" said the Doctor with an air of quoting, turning again to face forward.

"Oh? And how's that working for them?"

"I don't know... As I said, I don't get out to this part of the galaxy much. Actually only the once." The Doctor squinted around at the clean-up crews and damaged areas. "Looks like it's going about as well as could be expected. Let's see what..." The Doctor stopped, looking down the concourse.

"'What' what?"

"No!" the Doctor said incredulously, hopping on his toes to see over the crowd.

"'No' what?"

"I don't believe it!"

"What!?" Rose frowned in frustration and peered down the concourse, trying to determine who or what in the throng had the Doctor's attention.

"Come on, Rose! There's someone you have to meet!" The Doctor took off running into the crowd with a grin.

Rose sighed and ran after him.


Buck Godot was not having a good day. Or a good week; the poiled slurg incident, of which his uncle Frakkus was still having a much worse time, was probably the least stressful.

Crazy ninja paparazzi. Three-quarters of the galaxy religiously involved with a stuffed lizard. A hidden society of living energy weapons on a sentient transdimensional space station.

The worst part, (now that the shooting had stopped and no one's embassy was in danger of getting spaced) was that Buck was trapped. Trapped in a place full of insane people and 'bots while his taxes back home were accruing penalties. By the time he got out of here, the Taxation Department of New Hong Kong were going to make him terraform a planet as community service to pay the penalties on the more than a month and a half he was going to be late when he got back.

A note from the Prime Mover weighed in Buck's pocket; maybe helping save all of humanity would count as an installment payment. He doubted it. Buck really needed a drink, preferably several.

"Buck! Buck Godot!" shouted a cheerful and mildly lunatic voice moments before Buck was impacted by something that felt like a Klegdexial, but with bones. And friendly.

"Hey! Get off me!" His attacker released him and Buck turned to see... a tall, thin, and completely unfamiliar human man. "Who in hell are you?

"What? Sorry, sorry. I've changed. Hi, I believe we've met?" The man took a step back and held out a hand. "Unless we haven't. That happens sometimes. I'm the Doctor."

"The Doctor of wha-?" Buck stopped with his hand stalled halfway to a handshake and his mouth stalled open. "Oh. Not... him?"

The thin man nodded rapidly. "Yes! Him!"

"You were there during that thing with the-"

"Oh yes!" the thin man enthused.

"But you were-"

"Different, yes. It happens. But I am him and he is me and we are us together!" The man frowned suddenly. "You aren't still with that place, I trust?"

"X-tel? No, no, I left right after you did. With more explosions."

"Good!" the Doctor grinned.

"They've had a few problems with the Law Machines since then."

"Ah, yes. Their predecessors gave me a death sentence once." The doctor grimaced. "Megara, from Diplos. Pedantically efficient. They'll legislate it into oblivion."

"They have, last I heard."

"Even better!" The thin man grabbed Buck's still-stalled-in-mid-air hand and shook it with great vigor. "It's so good to see you again!"

Buck let his hand be shaken with a glassy stare. No, no. Oh, no. Not this guy. I don't need his insanity along with everything else.

Unless he's somehow involved with the 'everything else'...


The need for a drink shifted up the scale to 'dire necessity, and by the gallon'.

"Doctor!" a female voice called across the concourse.

The Doctor released Buck's hand and turned to jump up and down, waving. "Rose! Over here! There's someone I'd like you to meet!"

And of course he brought a friend. Buck sighed.

A blonde girl in a pink top and short blue skirt elbowed her way through the crowd. "Who is- Oh!" she stopped short, blinking wide eyes at Buck's girth and smiling in a way that let him know she was a human who'd never met a Hoffmanite before. "Um. Hi."


"Rose Tyler, I'd like you to meet Buck Godot." The Doctor reached up and clapped Buck on the expansive shoulder.

Buck smiled mildly and held a hand out to the small blonde woman, who smiled back as though she was afraid she'd be eaten, but at the same time had several jokes she didn't dare tell.

"Pleased to meet you," Rose said finally, allowing her hand to be engulfed.

"Charmed." Buck released her hand and turned back to the Doctor. "What brings you to the Gallimaufry?"

"Ooo, not much, just popping in, see the sights, and so on. You know."

"Yes. I do. Try not to blow anything up." Buck looked significantly at Rose.

"What?" said the Doctor, looking at his companion. "Oh, you're thinking of Ace. Rose isn't quite so violent."

Rose crossed her arms. "I could be violent if I needed to be."

The Doctor canted an eyebrow at her.

"Still flying around in the old blue box?" Buck asked, trying to steer the conversation away from violence and explosions.

"Ah, yes, it's just over..." The Doctor looked back down the concourse. "It was there."

"Maybe it's hidden behind the crowds?" said Buck, looking along the crowded hall.

"Nonono. It was right there, in that alcove."

Rose stood on her tip toes and pointed. "Yeah, next to the potted plant-"

"-Endivian," the Doctor corrected, craning his neck.

Rose blinked. "Endivian. Where he's- it's- standing. Right there."

Buck frowned. "You're sure?"

The Doctor took off running, back down the concourse, calling over his shoulder. "Yes I'm sure! The TARDIS is gone!"

Rose and Buck caught up to the Doctor at the empty alcove. He was running a hand through his hair, making it wild and spiky. "Who's nicked my motor?"

"Was it a teleport, Doctor?"

"Teleportation is repressed on the Gallimaufry," Buck murmured.

"But we got in," Rose pointed out.

"Yeah, well, rules seem to ignore him," said Buck, nodding towards the Doctor. He got through X-Tel's teleport shields without a blip, why not the Gallimaufry's?

"That's 'coz he's special." Rose grinned.

The Doctor glanced at Rose. "If I'm special, someone else is special too."

"I'd suggest checking with station security," Buck volunteered, "but they're a little scrambled right now."

"Who's head of security?"

Absolutely not me. "Ah. Bit of a transition period. Previous one was... retired. Forcibly."

"I see." The Doctor glanced sideways at Buck. "You have been busy."

Buck scuffed a foot against the concourse floor and shrugged. "Lot of things happened."

"Need any help?"

"NO!" Buck blinked and lowered his hands, which seemed to have taken up a defensive position involuntarily. "Uh. I mean no. Like I said, it's all dealt with. No need for you to get involved. At all."

"Ah. Well." The Doctor turned back to the alcove. "Anyway. Security."

"Let me see if I can talk to 12-Zinc. It should be sort of in charge after, er... while...." Buck blew out a breath past his mustache. "It should be in charge."

The Doctor shoved a hand in his pocket and rummaged around. "Great! And while security is tripping over its own appendages, we'll find out what's really going-"

Buck's ears popped as air rushed into where the Doctor used to be.

Rose looked up at Buck then back at the empty space. "Doctor?"


Between one eye blink and the next, the Doctor found himself on the TARDIS.

"Hello! That's rather convenient." He spun around and ran up the gantry to the console. "Now, where are we and how do we get back?"

Several things on the console boinged and flashed.

"We're where?" The Doctor pushed the door control in and the TARDIS doors swung open behind him.

Outside the doors a cluster of organic-looking ropy things spiraled through a vast space filled with colour and light.

"Well," said the Doctor, drifting closer to the TARDIS doors. "Isn't that interesting."

Part of the cluster of ropy-something rumbled.



Buck waved a hand through the empty space where the Doctor had been, nearly smacking a passing Kavousian in the snout. Rose had examined the alcove thoroughly and was looking like blowing things up might be a good idea after all. "Right. Do people disappear a lot around here?"

Thinking of the past week, Buck rubbed his mustache. "Not without political reasons, usually."

"And unusually?"

"There was a recent disappearance was from the Hall of Icons... but in that case..."

Oh no, not again.

Buck bellowed "Hot soup, coming though!" and took off running.

"Oi! Wait up!" Rose shouted behind him.

Despite his size the crowds didn't impede Buck. Most sentients on the station knew to stay out of his way. Buck ran past a Juirblen, sending it spinning in the air currents. If I'm right... I hope that ship of his is indigestible. He thundered to a halt outside the Maintenance section and pounded on the door.

"I'd hate to get caught between you and a plate of chips," Rose muttered under her breath as she trailed in Buck's wake.

"I'm a Hoffmanite," Buck rumbled, pounding on the door again, "and I'm not deaf."


Buck shrugged. "New Hoffmann is a high gravity world. We're all big."

"Really sorry."

"Not that that should matter."

"Really, really sorry."

Buck shrugged again and pounded on the giant door some more. "Nogf! Nogf, you blue bastard! Open up! I'll break it down if you don't!"

The door hissed open a handspan. "What the floon do you want?"

"We need to borrow the Mega-Suiter and the shift-space portal."

Mismatched eyes peered past Buck at Rose. "Hot date?"

Buck rolled his eyes and shoved the door open.


{wiLL NOt eaT YoU,} the ropes rumbled.

The Doctor raised an eyebrow. "That's always a good start. Who are you?"


"That's the station. Who are you?"

{I aM galLImAUfry. thE staTIon iS AnCHor hoOK. PArt Of mE.}

"You took my TARDIS," the Doctor barked, scowling. "Why?"

{She iS inTERestIng... YOU arE interEstiNG.}

"You can't go around eating people because they're interesting!" The Doctor shouted. "Or their ships!"

{WilL nOt eaT yoU,} the voice repeated, {wouLD neVEr eAt yoU. i Am aLone. I waNt A frIEnd.}

"You don't make friends by stealing them."

Two ropes nearby twisted slightly, bringing them closer together. {SHe iS my FriEnd. ShE is lIkE mE. LiTTle siStEr.}

The Doctor looked back inside the TARDIS then back out the doors. "You're both... similar. Dimensionally transcendental. Except your 'bigger' is on the outside, in shift-space. But you're both living, grown."

{ShE is liKe mE. aS arE yoU. YoU aRe liTTle SisTeR's HeaRT. shE doEs NoT LIve wiTHout yoU. YoU aRe boTH moRe thaN youR suRfacEs shoW.}

"You'll find that most beings are more than just their surface, once you get to know them. Starting with not nicking their ships."

{nO oNE coMeS UnlEss I bRinG thEM, oR thEy aRe foOd.}

The Doctor looked out the doors at the endless organic ropes and wiggly bits stretching countless miles through shift space. Alone.

"You know," he said, leaning on the railing beside the door, "I've been on a great many space stations, but I've actually talked to very few of them. Tell me about yourself."


Rose followed Buck and the three-legged blue man to a room with a big 'X' on the floor.

"Stand here," said a floating robot technician that looked a little like a mechanized jellyfish, measuring Rose.

"What is this?" Rose asked, not moving immediately to the indicated position.

"We need to go into shift space, where the Doctor and his ship are, I believe." Buck said. "The Mega-Suits will keep us from dying."

"Oh," said Rose. "All right then."

The little flying robot positioned Rose on the giant 'X', moving her by the elbows. "Just stand absolutely still. Just like that."

"Like this?" Rose kept her hands away from her sides and feet shoulder-width apart.

"Yes, perfect." The technician pressed a button.

Large things swung out from either side of the room and clapped together around rose with a loud Ka-SLAM.

Rose squeaked.

"All done."

The two arms of the machine retreated, leaving Rose encased in a large spherical space suit with arms and legs.

"Mega-Suit. Self-propelled and protected by a Snaar force field."

"Let me know if it's pinchy at all," said the technician, floating back to hover in front of Rose's helmet, "we can do it again."

"No, no thanks once is plenty."


When they entered shift space, Buck expected Rose to at least go 'ooo' or panic or something, and had braced to deal with a newbie in a Mega-Suit flailing in his face. Rose's eyes widened, but after a brief pause she drew a breath and said, "So, you take half I'll take the other and we'll meet up in the middle? Or have these suits got some sort of sensors?"

"Don't need them." Buck looked towards a section that glowed more than the rest. "I know where to start looking."

After a brief instruction for Rose in operating her suit's jets they flew a few hundred kilometers. Rose spotted the blue point silhouetted by the glowing ropes.

"There! It's there!" Rose made panicky swimming motions as she tried to use the unfamiliar controls to make her suit go faster. "Oh my god the door's open!"

Buck's notable stomach fell. Nothing could survive exposed in shift space.

He jetted past Rose and around to get a clear view through the open TARDIS doors. The Doctor was leaning on the railing, arms gesturing animatedly as he talked to the massive entity outside.

"Hunh," said Buck, drifting slowly to a stop.

"Doctor!" called Rose, coming around behind Buck, face lighting up as she saw the Doctor was fine.

"Rose!" The Doctor grinned, grabbed the railing and swung under to stand at the door frame. "What on earth are you wearing?"

"Erm. It's called a Mega-Suit." She waggled one of the arms in a dismissive manner and jetted erratically over to hover beside the TARDIS.

"You're okay?" asked Buck, coasting toward the blue box, a little boggled.

"Oh, fine, fine. I was just talking to Gallimaufry here."

{helLo AgaIN.}

"Hi." Buck said absently and frowned back at the Doctor. "But... you're okay? With the door open? And how are we hearing you?"

"TARDIS," said the Doctor as though it explained everything and on reflection, Buck thought it probably did.

"Where are we?" asked Rose.

"Shift space, kind of next door to the Void and across the street from the Time Vortex..." The Doctor waggled his hand vaguely. "Sort of."

Buck half-turned and addressed the coruscating shapes surrounding the Doctor's ship. "You only swallow things from the garbage pods or if they are an active energy weapon or a source of strife. How is the TARDIS a source of strife?"

{... it wAsN't.} A swirl of colour chased itself down the nearest of the ropes.

"Why did you try to swallow it then?"

The Doctor waved a hand. "It's all right, we've been over that. Lonely, wants to talk. Buck, did you know that this station was an Nth dimensional sentience?"

"It came up recently." Buck turned towards a central-ish clump of ropy bits again. "Didn't the Prime Mover talk to you yet?"

{nO. i aM forGoTTeN. wOe.}

Damned emo interdimensional beings.

"There's something being set up. No one's forgetting you, it's just that the Prime Mover..." ... has executed the security chief, is building a rush planet for a species of living energy weapons that isn't supposed to exist, is curing humanity of a lethal case of creeping lethargy... "...there's a lot of bureaucracy going on right now."



{BuREauCRacy is A hinDerAnce?}

"Yeah. Does more harm than good, really."

{bureAUcrACY is A soUrcE of STRiFe?}

"Yeah, mostly. I MEAN NO!" Buck had a sudden vision of the entirety of the bureaucracy-oriented Gallimaufry station being shifted into this place, without mega-suits or transdimensional vehicles to protect them. "No. It. Um. It's..." He looked over at the Doctor.

"A necessary evi- hm." The Doctor stopped himself with a finger across his lips and a small smirk. "Necessary. Sort of. Let's leave it at that. Listen, it's been great, but we all need to go back."

The endless organic ropes sighed. {sO LoNeLy}

"The Prime Mover will be in to talk to you before you know it," Buck said/ "Now could you please return us? Somewhere not crowded. With atmosphere."

"Earth atmosphere," added Rose.

Buck nodded. "Yes. That would help."


Buck, Rose and the TARDIS appeared in Buck's recently-packed-up room at the Human Embassy.

At least it's not the Kleg ambassador's bathing room again.

"Hey! How do I get out of this thing?" said Rose, flapping the Mega-Suit arms.

Buck tapped at the bottom of Rose's helmet. "Green button there, hit it three times with your chin, then tilt your head and hit the blue switch on the left."

The Doctor stepped out the open TARDIS doors. "No harm done. It wanted a chat, that's all."

"Sorry about that," said Buck, releasing the helmet on his own Mega-suit. "It was choking on the Winslow recently. I figured it wouldn't be trying to gobble up any more strange things so soon."

"Really, it's just lonely. Any sentience accustomed to a close, reliable social contact like Gallimaufry had with the previous Prime Mover abhors a social vacuum and I'm sorry but did you say it was choking on the Winslow?" The Doctor said with sudden intensity.


The Doctor lowered his chin. "The Winslow."

"The one and only."

"Ah." The Doctor frowned.

"It's not part of your religion is it?"

"No, no. Noooooo." The Doctor waved his hand and shook his head. "Just out of curiosity, is it still around?"

"The new caretakers have it now, and they're-"


The Doctor tensed. Buck boggled and stared at a ventilation grate on the wall.

"A stuffed animal?" Rose stepped out of her Mega-Suit and scooped the two-and-a-half-foot-long stuffed lizard out of the ventilation shaft. "It's adorable! Who's a funny fuzzy lizard then?" and scritched the side of its head.

"Hi!" it said.

"Ooo! And it talks!" Rose smished the fuzzy thing to her chest.

Without changing its expression in the slightest, the Winslow managed to look smug.

"Yes. That. It's the Winslow," The Doctor said. "It's something people kill each other over every so often."

"'s just a stuffed animal, Doctor. Isn't it?" Rose held up the Winslow which flopped playfully.

The Doctor observed the green thing in Rose's arms, his own arms crossed.

"I mean it's clever, with the talking and things but it's just," Rose shrugged, "a stuffie."

"Yeaaaah. It's definitely clever." The Doctor eyed the Winslow warily. Without moving any of its features, the squashy green lizard looked vaguely abashed.

The Doctor turned back to Buck. "New caretaker?"

Buck tried very hard not to stare in the direction of the glowing red eyes peering silently from the ventilation shaft. "Yep. It shouldn't surface again for a very long time."

"Good. Very good." The Doctor clapped his hands together. "Well, can't dally, glad to see things are well in hand. Rose?"

"Right." Rose handed the Winslow back to Buck. "Sorry, he's adorable."

"Sure." Buck gingerly took the Winslow from Rose without looking it in the eye. "Well, it was...." No explosions, hardly any panic... "Good. Good to see you again, Doctor."

"Likewise," the Doctor said, grinning. "Come on, Rose."

Buck waved goodbye as the TARDIS wheezed and disappeared. He knew he could have asked the Doctor for a quick lift back to five weeks ago on New Hong Kong and eliminated his tax problems entirely, but as he handed the Winslow back to its new guardians, Buck reflected that there were some adventures he didn't want to risk having.

- - -
(that's it.)