16. World Without Authors
Sergio Turbo opens his eyes to find himself at the controls of a futuristic jet fighter. There is a forest below him, coming up fast. He has no fuel.
Strictly speaking, what follows is too gentle to be called a 'crash'.
Sergio struggles out of the near-wreck and stumbles off into the woods. Injured, he manages to find a half-ruined cabin for shelter, but when he pushes inside he finds someone already there: Sakura and Madoka, the canon characters who were taken in by the PPC after SpecOps. Neither of them know what's going on.
The following day, Corolla finds them, in company with Sergio's old Strike Dove team. But the team is different - it includes people who should be dead - including Sergio's sort-of ex, Ami - and others who never existed in the first place. Sergio says they need to let the PPC know that the multiversal crisis has gotten worse, and Corolla's expression turns grave.
"Sergio… the PPC is gone. World One is gone. There's no multiverse left."
Corolla explains that as far as she can tell, this is now the only world: a hybrid of all the canon worlds that existed before it, with only pieces of each having made it through. She was lucky enough to come out close enough to Strike Dove to pick up their signals and meet up with them at an old air base they'd commandeered. She's been trying to bring the abandoned planes back on line, but she's already detected armies on the move.
Sergio's face turns pale. "Corolla… what about Nikki? What's happened to Nikki?"
We cut away to Nikki, who is a prisoner of the Belkan Federation. Her captors are taking advantage of the hybrid world they find themselves in: they have superior air power to anyone else they can detect, and intend to use it to conquer as much of the world as they can. Nikki was arrested as a spy almost as soon as she appeared, and her protestations of innocence were ignored. The Belkans did, however, note down that she had some pilot training, and have conscripted her into Spare Squadron - their penal unit.
Corolla manages to get all of four planes at the Strike Dove base online, but it's enough that the Belkans notice their presence. They send up two squadrons to deal with the "minor irritant" on Sand Island: the elite Grabacr squadron, and the prisoners of Spare. Sergio is forced to take his tiny "Skystreaker Squadron" up to defend his team.
As Sergio is about to take on the Belkan planes, Corolla radios to tell him that Nikki is one of them. Unwilling to risk shooting down Nikki, Strike Dove's commander orders Skystreaker Squadron to land.
Sergio refuses, and single-handedly brings down the entire Grabacr squadron. His plane is heavily damaged, but he keeps it in the air just long enough to force Spare squadron's commander to surrender his charges to Strike Dove.
Sergio manages to land and is reunited with Nikki. As they get up to date, Corolla comes in with news. Firstly, Sergio's plane is a write-off. Secondly, she's recovered the plane he entered the new world in and repaired it - and, by the way, it wasn't so much a plane as a transforming mecha in plane mode. Thirdly, and most importantly: she's been working on a way to restore the multiverse.
Corolla has managed to detect the same energy that surrounded the Key to Canon, buried in the heart of a massive Belkan airship. She's built a device that could use this energy to return the multiverse to its previous existence - "or something like it," she says. "I don't know precisely what we'll get, but it can't be worse than this." If Strike Dove can get hold of whatever's generating that energy, they can plug it in and make things right.
"Oh, and one more thing," she says with a bright smile. "It's coming this way right now."
Skystreaker Squadron, bolstered by the refugees from Spare, launch again to face an overwhelming Belkan attack. The three PPC agents fly hard for the Belkan mothership, but when an enemy pilot gets Sergio in his sights, Nikki takes the hit for him and is shot down. Sergio is distraught, and tries to turn back to rescue or avenge her - but Corolla talks him down. "We have to get in there! We have to stay on mission! Once we've fixed reality, we'll find her again!"
Sergio and Corolla fly the mecha directly into the heart of the vast mothership. They find that the whole ship is powered by a crystalline splinter of the Key to Canon. They wrench it out, and the airship begins to fall from the sky. Before it can hit, they push the splinter into Corolla's device, and there is a massive flash of blue light.
Post-credits: Acacia is walking along the collonaded front of a shopping mall. She pauses, reaches out and touches one of the pillars, and frowns slightly.
17. Gallifrey Imminent
We open on Morgan's speech to the High Council of Gallifrey: "The Multiverse is under our control." When she was elected Lady President, she told the Time Lords about the PPC and its technology, and now they have completed their conquest of it. "All of reality is protected under the watchful gaze of the Eye of Harmony; no-one will ever have to fear again."
Out in the Word Worlds, the situation at first seems as she's describing: the canons reshaped into benevolent paradises. We see the Aviator, living a blissful domestic life with the Detective and Ellie - right up until the moment the Reader stumbles in, bleeding from a staser wound. "The Fisherman's dead," she gasps. "Help me."
The Aviator and his family are pulled into Discontinuity Council: the Agent's resistance to Morgan's rule. The rest of the Continuity Council are there, including the Notary, who absolutely nobody trusts. They have a plan: they're going to reactivate one of the old Sue Factories and create an army. The Aviator's not overly keen on this, but as the Disentangler points out, they know how to deal with Suvians; they'll be able to clean things up.
The plan seems to be going well - up until the moment Morgan shows up. She has a splinter of the Key to Canon, and uses it to level the Factory to the ground around them. Everyone turns on the Notary for betraying them - but then the Librarian steps forward.
"I just want somewhere quiet to read," he says. "Lady President Morgan can offer that; you can't."
Most of the council are killed or captured. Only the Aviator, Agent, and Notary escape. The Agent and Aviator are in total despair - their partners, and the Aviator's daughter, are now prisoners - but the Notary, to their utter surprise, seems almost hopeful. "What?" she says when they challenge her. "There's no point me being a grump if you've both gotten there first."
The Notary has a plan: they need to get hold of the splinter of the Key to Canon and shove it into the Matrix on Gallifrey. That will give the splinter enough energy to rewrite reality: there's no way of knowing what will rise in its place, but as the Aviator says, "it can't be worse than what we've got." To do it, they need to assemble a team of the most chaotic, unpredictable, and just plain stubborn canon characters, to help them infiltrate the Citadel of the Time Lords.
They make it in, assisted by the likes of the Doctor (Doctor Who), Mal Reynolds (Firefly), Carmela Rodriguez (Young Wizards), and Granny Weatherwax (Discworld). They steal the splinter of the Key, and head down to the Matrix chamber... to find Morgan already there, and her Castellans lining the walls.
"Did you really think this was going to work?" she asks them. "Did you really think this was some kind of story, with you as the heroes, and me - the woman who has liberated the multiverse from fear and grief - somehow the villain?"
Morgan proceeds to verbally tear the team apart, alternately cajoling, deriding, and threatening each member (though she's unable to come up with anything to say to Granny Weatherwax). She reminds the Aviator of the wonderful life she had with her family, but as she does so it becomes clear that she doesn't know what their plan actually is - and doesn't know they have the splinter of the Key.
Morgan concludes by telling the Notary that she's the ultimate pragmatist: she should have known this was a doomed effort from the start. "Oh, I did," the Notary confirms. "I knew I was never getting out of this alive." And she pulls out a staser and starts shooting.
With Morgan and her Castellans in utter disarray over the Notary of all people effectively committing suicide, the Aviator and Agent sieze they chance. They charge for the podium, and Morgan has just enough time for an angry cry of realisation before they stab the splinter of the Key to Canon down into the Matrix and there is a massive flash of blue light.
Post-credits: Jay is writing hesitantly on a sheet of notepaper. Anyone able to read her crabbed handwriting might be able to make out familiar words: "It's happened again. Someone's mucking with the plot continuum."
She stops, stares at the page for a moment, then sighs and crumples it up.
18. Catastrophe Theory
We open on a battle: General Gaspard and his small force are being beaten back down a corridor in HQ by an army of Suvians. As they are driven past the smashed Fountain of Bleepka, Gaspard pulls out his communicator. "Jacques! Now!"
The corridor behind them explodes, trapping the fastest Suvians with the retreating PPCers. Gaspard turns on them, and his team cut them down, then flee as the rubble of the blockade starts to fall.
They make their way back to the remaining agents' base: the HQ Pool, which until the civil war was considered to be likely mythical. Jacques Bonnefoy meets Gaspard there, carrying the last remaining Flower: the Potted Fern Official.
The war is not going well: in fact the PPC has all but lost. What's left of DoSAT have come up with a plan: they've used the quasi-unreal environment of the Pool to build a time machine.
"We're going to go back and stop the war?" Gaspard asks, but Jacques shakes his head. "Time travel doesn't work like that: we can't change the past. But with the right trips - we can change the world."
DoSAT's theory is that when the Key to Canon was shattered, its essence permeated the fabric of HQ. By taking specifically-calibrated trips into the past, Gaspard and Jacques can create a temporal wake which should reform the Key and let them fix the world. The only problem is, for each trip they make, the pseudo-invisibility of the Pool will be weakened.
Nonetheless they go ahead with the plan. The pair take trips to significant events in their past, sometimes separately, sometimes together. Gaspard has to witness the fall of the Department of Intelligence; Jacques watches Jenni Robinson's failed attempt to re-weave reality. They both learn more about how the civil war came about, and the various betrayals that happened along the way.
Each time they return to the present, the news gets worse. Eventually, they come back to find the time machine almost unmanned: the Suvians have found them, and every agent is needed to hold them off.
Jacques and Gaspard look at each other, and then out at the Key to Canon forming in the time machine's energy matrix. "We've only got a splinter back," Jacques says. "We don't know what it will do - what reality it might create."
"It can't be worse than this one," Gaspard says. As the Suvians breach the Pool, the two agents reach into the energy field, grasp the splinter of the Key, and thrust it downwards into the centre of the temporal field.
There is a bright flash of blue light.
Post-credits: Acacia is standing in a kitchen, chopping vegetables. She begins to play with the knife, tossing it from hand to hand, then up and over, juggling it like, well, an expert assassin.
Realising what she's doing, she stops, stares at the blade - and then resumes chopping the veg.
19. House of Rhodes
Dafydd Illian is sitting in a house in New Caledonia, in a room which falls somewhere between library and trophy collection. He is fidgeting with a blue crystal, which we recognise as a splinter of the Key to Canon. Eventually, he leans back in his chair and peers out of the door. "Connie?" he calls. "What say we go and save the world?"
Constance wanders in, wearing an apron and covered in flour and dough. "Sounds good to me," she says. "What's the plan?"
"We'll work on that," Dafydd promises. "Come on, we'll start down in town."
As the couple wander through the PPC city, it becomes clear that things have changed. The different departments of the PPC have all gone their separate ways, spreading out across the multiverse: the paladins of the former Action departments, the rangers who used to be Intelligence, the great flying city haunted by the digital ghosts of DoSAT. The New Caledonia city acts as neutral territory - and in the centre is the monument to what was. The clock tower has been transformed into a memorial to the lost PPC HQ.
There is a rumour, though, that part of HQ still survives. Rumours call it the House of Rhodes, and say that when the Rhododendron sundered HQ to defeat the rogue departments, he survived along with the portal generators. "If they had power," Dafydd says, tossing the splinter of the Key to Canon from hand to hand, "we could bring it all back…"
Dafydd and Constance embark on a multiversal odyssey, trying to find a door back into what used to be HQ. Along the way, they encounter their own surviving children: Jasmine, a Demas Paladin (that is, Assassin); Tanfin, a Ranger living in Middle-earth; Belladonna, who has settled down to live her own life free of the PPC; and Oleander, a Pyron Paladin (that is, a Pyro). They discuss the death of their other daughter, Daphne, at the hands of the renegade Department of Author Correction; and they try to get their children to support their plan.
Belladonna doesn't care. Oleander is cautiously in favour. Tanfin is strongly opposed. And Jasmine leads the Demas school of Paladins in a concerted effort to stop them.
Ultimately, Dafydd and Constance find the door they need very close to home: the old entrance to HQ, a mile east of the New Caledonia city. They step through into the familiar, if battered, grey hallways.
The journey through the House of Rhodes is eerily silent: the Paladins don't follow them in, and nobody else treads the dusty corridors. Only when they reach the generator room at the heart of the House do they find any sign of life: a vast rhododendron forest, and living in its heart, Jenni Robinson.
Jenni explains that she was with the Rhododendron when he broke HQ. The energy feedback smashed his mind, turning him into nothing but an ordinary rhododendron bush; and she has been tending him ever since in the hopes that he will someday recover. "It's what I do," she says quietly. "I heal people."
Jenni initially doubts Dafydd's plan, which turns out to be little more than "stab the generators with the splinter until something happens", but ultimately she comes round. "After all," she says, reaching out to touch a branch of her forest, "whatever it does, it can't be worse than this."
The three agents take hold of the splinter, and together they stab it down into the largest portal generator. There is a bright flash of blue light.
Post-credits: Jay looks up as a blue light flashes outside the coffee shop window. It's a police car, racing past to some disturbance. She shrugs and goes back to her coffee.
20. Protectors of the Plot Continuum 4: Rambling Band
Up until now, the natural reading of the Phase 4 movies has been that they happened in sequence: that each use of the splinter of the Key created the timeline of the next movie. That idea is broken as PPC 4 opens with a flash of blue light, and all nine of the Key users appear in a blue bubble, floating in the void: Sergio and Corolla, the Aviator and Agent, Gaspard and Jacques, and Dafydd, Constance, and Jenni.
There is one other person present: Makes-Things, sitting against the far side of the bubble reading from a data slate. He looks up, unimpressed. "You took your time."
"Makes-Things!" gasps Gaspard. "But -- you died when the Legendary attacked!"
Makes-Things sighs in exasperation. "Why does everyone always assume I'm dead?!"
Makes-Things explains that when the Legendary arrived to steal the Key to Canon, he hid himself in a null-space bubble. When the Key was destroyed, it splintered all of reality: the bubble was the only thing unaffected. Makes-Things has been waiting patiently for someone to come and find him, and now four teams come along at once.
The Aviator points out that they all have pieces of the Key with them: surely now they can combine them to rebuild reality as it should be? No, says Makes-Things, the splinters can't do that, but they can take them to where they need to be.
"When the Key was broken," he says, "there were two people touching it: Jay Thorntree and Acacia Byrd. They are the Key now. You have to bring them together."
Makes-Things' final advice is that the splinters will be drawn to the power of the Key. By combining the ones they have, they can find the world where Jay and Acacia ended up. "Be careful," he warns, "I don't know what you'll find there." The team press the splinters together, there is a flash of blue light...
... and they wind up in a perfectly ordinary, World One neighbourhood.
What they discover is that this is a universe with no contact with the multiverse. There are people they know here, but they're just... people, living ordinary lives. The only people with unusual powers - or any memory of the PPC - are the team who have just entered.
They split into teams: two using splinters of the Key to track Jay and Acacia, two setting up a home base. Each team faces its own challenges: Sergio and Dafydd (hunting Acacia) discover that Nikki Cherryflower is working as a waitress at the restaurant Acacia now works in; Gaspard and the Agent (hunting Jay) find that Jay is far too involved in her writing to even consider going to meet someone she doesn't know; Constance, Jacques, and Jenni (planning how to "bring them together") have an arc around Jacques and Jenni being from different realities, and each having lost the other in their own timeline; and Corolla and the Aviator (tech support) have to deal with a) the laws of physics not working how they ought to, and b) the Aviator discovering that the Detective is living in this reality with Ellie as his daughter, and a brightly-coloured dog he calls Zeb.
Through a lot of effort, the team manage to get Jay and Acacia to the same place and introduce them. They shake hands, and… nothing happens.
"I was afraid of this," Jenni says. "What else do you think 'bring them together' could mean?"
The team switch to straight-up matchmaking. They fail miserably and hilariously - but along the way, Jay and Acacia are so baffled by their antics that they end up laughing together about the whole thing, and bonding over it. They come together, not physically or as lovers, but as friends.
When the team have just about given up, Jay puts down her coffee mug and touches her notepad. "So you can say no," she says to Acacia, "but I was wondering… do you want to see some of my stories?"
"Sure," says Acacia, "I'd like that." And for the last time, there is a burst of blue light…
... and Jay leans back from her console, indicating a flashing red light.
"It's happened again. Someone's mucking with the plot continuum."
Acacia sighs. "Exactly what is so wrong with the canon that everyone wants to break it? Which world?"
"Lord of the Rings," Jay says, wincing. "The massacre of Tolkien continues. We have... a Mary Sue."
Mid-credits: Jay leans on a railing in Rivendell, snapping photos of passing elves. In the foreground, Acacia is gathering up burrs and pushing them into a pair of ridiculously glittery shoes. "Can't shoot you yet," she whispers, "but no-one said I can't make life difficult."
Post-credits: DoSAT. A young-looking Makes-Things is repairing a CAD when there is a fizzling sound. He looks up in alarm as a sphere of blue-black forms in the air and rapidly contracts; by the time it collapses to a point, he is hiding under a workbench.
The blue-black point vanishes, and the older Makes-Things from the beginning of the movie drops to the floor. He dusts himself off, looks around, and then peers under the bench.
"Oh dear," he murmurs, "was I really that bad?" Then he straightens up and picks up a Remote Activator. "Don't mind me," he says to his cowering younger self, "just passing through." And he opens a portal and vanishes.
Although Sergio Turbo is no longer a member of the Board, he's been really enthusiastic about the PPCCUU. He's helped me get the plots of SpecOps, World Without Authors, and PPC 4 sorted out, and he's also created a comic of part of the setting!
PPC 4: Rambling Band - The Comic
I love the fact that this comic makes no sense whatsoever outside the very specific context of a 20-movie series that doesn't actually exist. It's beautiful. ^_^
And that's it for the PPCCUU, at least from my pen! There's plenty of room for a continuation - there's loads of stories in the PPC that would work as movies, and loads of agents who deserve the spotlight - but after 20 movies I think my tenure as creative director is over. ^_~ (I have no idea what happens to Prime Makes-Things; I'm sure he'll find something to do.)
You can find the full final listing of the movies, with references and disclaimers tacked on the end, here. I hope you've had fun; it's been a wild ride from my side.