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Burnt Fingers and Reprisals, PG, 1397 words

Title: Burnt Fingers and Reprisals
Characters/Pairings: Narvin, Vansell, Louis, Rigan
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1397
Summary: The CIA have fingers in every pie. Occasionally they get burnt. Narvin and his career, in the midst of a clean-up.
Notes: Written for alexwearspants for the morepolitics ficathon, from the prompt "Some kind of crossover with Unregenerate! the BFA". A summary is below the cut, to provide some context to anyone who hasn't heard it and doesn't mind being spoiled. Many thanks to janeturenne for the beta, the help and the audio summary.

In 'Unregenerate!', the CIA are running an experiment to implant TARDIS sentiences into the bodies of sentient beings of many races, thereby creating dedicated agents who can prevent, delay or influence the development of temporal technology on their homeworlds. The host bodies who have their minds overwritten as part of this experiment are theoretically volunteers, but the consciences of many of the Gallifreyans involved in the experiments - including the chief scientist, Klyst, and Louis, the Time Lord who recruits alien volunteers - are troubled by the ethics involved. Of course, the Doctor shows up in the middle of things, nudges everyone in the direction of the Good and Righteous Path (except Rigan, the token CIA spook of the Time Lord lot), and frees the test subjects, taking them home to their own times. The few successful subjects of the experiments, who have now become an entirely new hybrid species, abscond with the entire research center and vanish into the wilds of the cosmos.


Narvin was trying very hard not to think words like ‘disaster’ or ‘debacle’. Such words posed a great threat to his career. Unfortunately, he doubted anyone else, particularly Chief Coordinator Vansell, would make the effort.

Careers and those with the power to advance them had a very low tolerance for these situations, no matter how neatly they were covered up. A very low tolerance for anything that necessitated being covered up.

He went through the initial reports again, trying to make sense of it. The speed of the escalation...

At nine bells Gallifreyan time, Commander Rigan, co-ordinator of the project, had called for a clean-up team, citing an incursion of humans from twenty-first century Earth and a specimen breakout. The situation was ‘containable’.

But by the time the clean-up team arrived, there was no Institute, just an empty asteroid, a barren lump of rock.

He took small consolation in the fact that there were survivors to question this time. Using the defence that this wasn’t quite as bad as the demise of the Helgrim Institute was unlikely to impress Vansell.



Rigan opened her eyes slowly. For a moment, she didn’t recognise the concerned face above her, then she remembered. Louis had regenerated. She’d shot him, in all the confusion – damn that renegade and those interfering humans! Where the Doctor went, trouble would follow. His record had said it all. Inciting revolt, genocide, theft, kidnapping... She’d known it was a mistake keeping him around.

Everything had fallen to pieces since he arrived. Explosive decompression, escaped subjects... She’d been trying to call for reinforcements. What had happened?

She sat up abruptly, narrowly avoiding a collision as Louis hastily withdrew, moving to sit at the end of the bench by her feet.

“You shot me!”

“Fair’s fair, Rigan. You shot me first. And you haven’t lost a life over it.”

“Where are we?” she asked, although she’d got quite enough of a look around their cramped accommodations to know exactly where they were. She’d never seen them from this side, though. Never known quite how uncomfortable these were to sleep on.

“A holding cell,” Louis answered anyway. “Commander Narvin’s just been questioning me. He’ll want to see you next; that’s why I woke you. I don’t think he’s quite decided whether the paperwork to have us dispersed is worth it, so be nice.”

“What happened?” Rigan demanded. This was hardly the time to be indulging Louis’s jokes...if they were jokes. “Did the clean-up team secure the situation?”

Louis shook his head. “Hardly. Everyone was long gone by the time they got there.”


“The entire Institute, and almost everyone in it. One of the sentiences, one engine, and off they went. Just you, me, your guards and a few of the medical staff stayed behind. There’s a new race out there, Rigan. TARDIS sentiences in humanoid bodies. A couple of them are even sane.”

“I could have stopped this.”

“No, Rigan. You couldn’t have. That’s why I shot you.”

“You were doing me a favour?”

“Yes. The same thing would have happened either way, and I didn’t want you to get hurt, being in the way. You would never have stood by and watched, accepted it.” He paused. “And that end wouldn’t justify your means.”

Rigan was silent for a few moments, absorbing this, before she huffed dismissively. “Klyst made a lot of bad decisions, but I didn’t expect her to throw it all away and turn renegade.”

“Klyst’s dead, Rigan. She took on a sentience. She wanted all the project data to be irretrievably lost. She, whatever she is now, is one of the sane ones.”

He was thankful for that at least. He closed his eyes as the TARDIS-Klyst’s first horrified, agonized screams echoed in his head, almost drowning out the sound of the door opening and Rigan leaving. At least Klyst’s death had meant freedom for that sentience, not violent insanity.


Narvin’s report was as dry as he could make it. Each stilted sentence did its best to discourage the reader from placing too much importance upon the loss of the Institute with all its records and most of its staff, one of whom just happened to be an extraordinarily brilliant scientist. Every overly formal phrase attempted to suppress the idea that a new race of time sensitives being loose in the universe– time sensitives who, it turned out, weren’t loyal to Gallifrey but were good at avoiding detection – was anything more than slightly worrying. The fact that, out of seventy-eight subjects removed the day before their death, twenty-nine individuals across the time-space continuum had reappeared the day after they should have died was a mere footnote. And no-one needed reminding that the failure of the experiment meant they were still facing their initial problem, that one day the vortex would be crammed to bursting with rash, irresponsible, reckless time-travelling species, whom they had no way to control.

It wouldn’t fool Vansell for a nano-span, but it might just get past the President.



“Narvin.” Vansell looked up from his desk and waved Narvin to a chair. “Have there been any further developments?”

“Commander Rigan assures me that the situation was only allowed to develop as it did due to the direct intercession of Professor Klyst. She had, at one point, the Doctor, the humans and the Feledrin cornered, before Klyst helped them to escape and began to work against her. I’m sure you remember, Coordinator, that I was opposed to Klyst’s appointment to begin with. She is – was,” Narvin corrected himself, “a brilliant scientist, but hardly suited to –”

“Yes, Commander, I remember.”

Klyst had always seemed dangerously liberal to Narvin. One step from renegade. But when the President (in absentia) herself had been renegade, and still counted renegades close personal friends, this argument apparently counted for little. Speaking of which –

“And, of course, the arrival of the Doctor could not have been foreseen.”

Vansell’s face set almost imperceptibly. “Of course not. Has there been any success in tracing the Institute?”

“Not as yet, Coordinator.”

“Top priority, Narvin. I want them, and the Doctor, found.”


In theory, it should have been the work of microspans to locate the Institute, bound to one time, and the only Type 40 TT capsule still in operation. However, Narvin still had nothing more to report when Vansell, evidently returned from his meeting with President Romana, summoned him.

“Tell me, Narvin, what course of action would you recommend?”

Narvin didn’t hesitate. “The twenty-nine errors must be corrected. We should continue to search for the Institute and the Doctor. Charges should be made against him, and all those who abandoned Gallifrey, and entered to their records. I believe, however, that Rigan, Louis, and the staff who chose to return to Gallifrey acted in the best interests of Gallifrey and the CIA. They reacted appropriately to events instigated by their superior which were outside of their control, outside of all our control.”

Vansell smiled. “Well done, Narvin. An excellent answer. Unfortunately –” his demeanour changed, his smile falling “– it’s irrelevant. The Madame President was rather less than happy to hear about these experiments, approved during her absence as they were. She has decreed that there are to be no reprisals from this matter.”

Narvin gaped. “She would allow rogue time sensitives, equipped with Gallifreyan technology and accompanied by Gallifreyan scientists, to roam the galaxy freely?”

“Every effort is still to be made to find them, but only in the interests of offering help and rehabilitation.”

“And the subjects? Those returned to a point after they should have died?”

“They are nothing. Their continued lives will cause no damage to the Web of Time. No action is to be taken against them.”

“The –”

“No reprisals, Narvin. None. Not for anyone involved in any way.”

“I see,” Narvin said, and his vision of his future coalesced. There would be no supervisory assignment to a primitive backwater. He would stay on Gallifrey and continue to serve his planet and his President the best way he knew how, even – especially – if the latter seemed intent on endangering the former.

“Goodbye, Narvin. I know you’ve a lot to be getting on with.”

Vansell looked to his terminal and Narvin went to leave.

“And Narvin?”

Narvin turned back. “Yes, sir?”

“President Romana also requested that she not be given a report that insulted her intelligence again.”


Posted by: aralias (aralias)
Posted at: 28th February 2011 21:35 (UTC)
romana II

must admit, i have only the foggiest memory of unregenerate, so thank you very much for providing a summary.

really like this, and the way you've chosen to intergrate it - by looking at it from the outsdie. what was (i assume, for clearly i don't remember it) a massive event in canon is a very second hand matter of annoying paperwork/job-worry for narvin. i particularly like that middle paragraph about understatements - but also this Using the defence that this wasn’t quite as bad as the demise of the Helgrim Institute was unlikely to impress Vansell. i also really like that romana isn't even in the fic, but still manages to be awesome :)

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 7th March 2011 22:45 (UTC)

janeturenne wrote the audio summary for me. Mine were turning out to be unwieldy, half-a-page-long things which still couldn't find a way to shoehorn all necessary details in, so I'm very grateful to her for that.

Thank you! I'm not sure it was 'a massive event', just what happened in the last five minutes as part of the tie-up. Although my mouth did rather fall open at that part. 'I can't believe they did that!...Poor Narvin.'

Romana's awesomeness is such that it just leaks through whenever she's mentioned.

Posted by: alex_e_smith (alexwearspants)
Posted at: 28th February 2011 22:01 (UTC)
happy jack

FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF. Ffffffffffffffffffff. This. You. Just. First-born child. Offering you. This. Yes. Thank youuuuu. God just. Thank you. A lot. I. Yes.

*clears throat* Right, coherency, I have it. I TOTALLY HAVE IT.

I just. You went and found out audio stuff for the purposes of fic writing which couldn't have been easy but you still got character voices and their (frankly sweet) little relationship thingy and I wanted to see more of these two and they're going to be all right! Narvin, Narvin and Vansell and Narvin and Vansell interacting and Narvin getting to be all sneaky and worried and have a career and little bits of plot-filling like things happening in absentia in regards to Romana and you managing to convey her voice perfectly even though she wasn't here and. Yes. Guh. That last line was lovely and a nice bit of forshadowing - I also love how Romana essentially saves Narvin's hide here but you could easily get the sense that it was merest oversight on her part (though she is no doubt used to being explicit when she has to and Vansell probably wanted to punish someone so she was probably very direct that he/CIA subordinates were to have no reprisals carried out on them but EVEN SO. It's not anything more than doing her job.) Um that trailed off but I meant I also love though how that doesn't endear her to Narvin particularly, he's still very much himself with his loyalties and his priorities and he can already see Romana is going to cause problems.

And Vansell getting all pissed at the mention of the Doctor and everyone's voices and frankly this one I thought had the least chance of getting done and I wanted so very much and fill-in-the-gaps fic is the best and. Thank you. YOU ARE SUPER AWESOME BRU.

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 7th March 2011 23:01 (UTC)

:D :D

I'm so delighted you liked it! I'm so glad the voices worked - I was listening to Unregenerate!, Neverland and various Gallifreys over and over and over, but I still wasn't sure about them, so it's great to hear you liked them!

Rigan and Louis little relationship thingy is sweet. I liked that. And I am now convinced that Narvin and Vansell should be together in More Things. It's a shame they broke the Matrix in the Gallifrey audios.

Thank you for giving me the prompt to write this fic! I enjoyed the research and the writing and figuring out things along the way (like the in absentia bit) and I am delighted you like the end result!

Posted by: neveralarch (neveralarch)
Posted at: 2nd March 2011 02:57 (UTC)

Oh, this is so cool. I love Unregenerate, and this is a great coda. All the politicking in the background really fleshes it out.

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 7th March 2011 23:12 (UTC)
Most interesting people

Thank you! I wasn't at all sure about my ability to write convincing politicking, so I'm very glad to hear it worked for you; apparently all those Gallifrey/CIA audios rubbed off on me after all!

Posted by: The Island of the Fay (atraphoenix)
Posted at: 10th March 2011 22:29 (UTC)
[dw] conga on rassilon's grave

I haven't actually listened to Unregenerate - although I clearly need to! - but I still managed to enjoy this. Narvin was brilliant and the politics were delightfully Gallifreyan and the final line was the icing on the cake.

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 12th March 2011 18:46 (UTC)
Sofa of reasonable comfort

Thank you! I was unsure about the characterisation and the politicking, so thank you for commenting! And yes, do listen!

Posted by: eloralouistra (eloralouistra)
Posted at: 21st May 2011 19:11 (UTC)

I've now listened to Unregenerate! and loved it, which makes this fic even more enjoyable. Louis and Rigan were brilliant and it’s great to have more of them here. (And in a fic with Vansell and Narvin, who I will love forever.)

Posted by: remember my prophetic chickens (agapi42)
Posted at: 25th May 2011 12:42 (UTC)

I'm glad you enjoyed Unregenerate! Thank you for commenting again!

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