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Disclaimer: The characters Miss Parker, Sydney, Jarod, Broots etc. and the fictional Centre, are all property of MTM and NBC Productions and used without permission. I'm not making any money out of this and no infringement is intended.

Pretender Payback
PART 17: "Lumenii, Velocitas, Factum"
by D.W. Chong

Jarod, Miss Parker, Mr. Lyle, Sydney, Broots, Mr. Raines, Daddy Parker, Zheet, Young Jarod, and Sam the Sweeper crowded around the dimensional rift that had left a gaping hole in the library wall.

"Didn't they just do that?" Jarod asked no one in particular, as the director called for take two.

A very substantial figure materialized out of the shadows beside him, forcing him out of his prime viewing spot. Adjusting her newly formed glasses, the former spectre peered through the hole in space-time with the Pretender characters as the director yelled:

"Cut! Print it! Next set up!"

"Hmm.... Looks like the actors are retiring to their trailers to rest and possibly study their lines while the crew sets up the next scene."

"Eerie, isn't it?" Miss Parker commented. "I mean --they look just like us and all."

"But they *aren't* us!" Young Jarod piped.

"Well...," drawled the amply proportioned visitor, tugging the hem of her 'I decide who lives or dies --I'm the writer' T-shirt before continuing, "yes, they are,' and 'no, they aren't.'"

"Oh, please, can you get any more vague?" Jarod asked dryly.

"I'm serious," the writer said. "Afterall, these *are* the people who are responsible for creating your official reality. Writers, directors, actors, put them all together they spell: templates."

"So, why aren't we down there living that reality as it happens?" Mr. Lyle asked.

"Yeah?" Jarod concurred. "If *they* are the templates for *us*, why hasn't what they're doing become our reality, yet?"

"Two reasons, actually," the writer said, "One: they shoot these things out of sequence; Two: it's episodic TV and the episodes haven't been aired, yet. If a TV show is pulled from the broadcasting schedule, do the unaired episodes actually exist?" she asked philosophically, paraphrasing the old saw about the tree in the forest.

Jarod, his doppleganger long since having vacated the set, grew bored watching the crewmen rearrange the flats and reposition the lights and mikes, and backed away from the interdimensional hole to glare at the speaker. His eyes immediately widened with recognition and he screamed, jabbing an accusing finger at her. "Iiee! You're the one who made me pregnant!"

This outburst was sufficient to snatch everyone's attention from the other reality and the characters bunched loosely about the writer.

Miss Parker sputtered with glee. "Pregnant!? How come *I* missed that? I *always* miss the good stuff!"

"You were unconscious in that story," Sam the Sweeper obligingly explained.

"Oh, Hell! Not *another* damn coma!" Miss Parker groused.

"Hey, *I'm* not the one who had you shot --*they* are," the writer retorted as she pointed her finger at the people beyond the dimensional rift.

"True," Sydney agreed blandly. "You're just the one who exploited the situation to create the most fantastic conclusion you could conceive for the sake of an 'O Henry' punch line."

"Oh, and, like, I suppose I'm the *only* fan writer who put her in a coma and made her pregnant?" the writer asked rhetorically, folding her arms with patient condescension.

"What!? *I'm* pregnant --*again*?" Miss Parker roared. "I thought you said she made *you* pregnant?" she yelled at Jarod.

She *did* --with *your* child!" Jarod yelled back. "In order to save *your* *life*, if you must know," he concluded irritably.

"Really? That's so sweet," Miss Parker cooed, all forgiven.
"*I* thought so," the writer said, "but apparently Nicolette thought I was kidding --she labeled it a spoof. It's not, you know. I was absolutely serious. The male capacity to carry a child to term is a well documented scientific possibility."

"Well, *I'm* certainly all in favor of it!" Miss Parker enthused.

"Me, too," the painfully well-rounded Brigitte chimed in.

"I'd just like to see *them* running to the bathroom every five minutes, their ankles swollen...unable to see their feet." She burst into tears. "Why? Why me?"

"Ahem!" said a voice from out of the darkness, attached to a non-materialized body somewhere out in the other dimension. "*Some*
of us think enough of the story to want you to expand it to its proper epic-like proportions."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," the writer intoned, having heard this opinion before. "I've got bigger fish to fry. I don't just play around with trade-marked characters, you know. I've got my *own* universe to rule with God-like benevolence."

"Well, I certainly hope you play nicer with *those* characters than you do with us," Daddy Parker said sternly.

The writer pulled out a magic summary screen from the pockets of her voluminous purple housecoat, pulled it open and held it out for
the Pretender characters to read.

"Oh, my God!" Lyle exclaimed, horrified. "You're worse than me on my vilest day! Worse than Pretnding1 and Witch1 put together!"

The writer chuckled, rolled up the summary screen and redeposited it in her pocket. "Yeah, well, I *am* from the 'Bleed Illya' school of writing, afterall. Just be glad I'm not doing any of this to *you*."

"But you made me pregnant!" Jarod whined again. "It was devastating! I take such good care of myself! I exercise religiously, don't eat red meat --and *you* gave me stretchmarks and a forty-two inch waist! Oh! The humiliation!"

"Oh, right, and like, you'd rather I had you refuse to help?

*That* would look good on your resume, Hero. And, anyway, it's not like anything we fan writers do is half as bad as what *they* do,"
she said, pointing at the people reassembled and working on the Hollywood sound stage below them.

The characters paused to watch the action, snared by the tableau laid out before them.

"Ooh, goody!" Raines chortled. "I get to experiment on Jarod! I can't wait for the season opener!"

"Yes, we're all on pins and needles --so to speak," the writer admitted.

"Ooh, that looks painful," Lyle commented, barely containing a smirk. "Gee, I hope *I* get to play with him."

"Don't get too comfortable," Jarod snarled, "The writers like me --they'll help me escape again." He winced at a particularly vicious piece of business and crossed his fingers.

"Yeah, but until then, you're all *mine*," Raines said gleefully. "I get to torture Jarod, I get to torture Jarod," he sang as he cha-cha-ed around the room, using his oxygen tank as a dance partner.

"I want my laptop," Jarod moaned like a junkie with a four day jones. "I want revenge!"

The writer shook her head. "Sorry. The only way you can negate what *they're* doing is by having the fans be so disgusted they decide to ignore it as official canon..., and I'm afraid the odds of that happening in *this* instance are 'non-existent' and 'no way in Hell.' In fact, you can't really affect us writers at all."

"But we *have* had...*some* success in that area," Miss Parker said.

"Not really. You see," the writer explained, "you're only really affecting the *characters* that represent the writers on this dimensional plane. Hell! Do you think I'd live the way I do if all I had to do to alter my reality was enter into an agreement with one of you guys to write ourselves a mutually beneficial future? There wouldn't be a *one* of us who wouldn't jump at the chance to better our circumstances with that kind of ease. But it just doesn't work that way. Worse, it would produce the most boring body of fan fic known to man. If *that* happened, people would stop reading us all together --and *then* where would you be?

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