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We Believe What's On TV is the tenth story in the Lady Aesculapius Series One Boxset. It serves as a sequel to the earlier Registered Clawmarks and was written by Rachel Johnson.

Cast

Synopsis

Lady Aesculapius and Jason land on an unknown world after the Factory of Crystal is pulled of course by an outside force. Lady Aesculapius immediately declares the world to smell of capitalism. She and Jason are ordered to move by a film crew working nearby, and they head to a nearby building. Aesculapius tricks her way past the security guard, and she and Jason are giving ID cards that identify them as main characters.

The building turns out to be bigger on the inside than the outside. It's a TV recording studio with seemingly no finite end. Jason swears in astonishment and is reprimanded by an automated voice, proclaiming swearing is against the rules of Station B9.

Aesculapius and Jason find their dressing room but are soon distracted by the sound of crying. They find a young woman named Ezra hiding in a custodial closet. Ezra apologizes, stating that extras speaking to main characters is against the rules. Aesculapius comforts her while questioning her about the station. Era states that it's owned by a man named J.P. Barnum, who kidnaps people from other realities and forces them to perform on his station, which is it's own dimension; a thought-bubble merged with reality.

Lady Aesculapius quickly figures out that Station B9 and the Dyson Sphere are one and the same. This upsets Jason, as it brings back memories of his time in the Sphere. Lady Aesculapius offers to send him back to the Factory, but he refuses.

A trio of guards then enter the closet, stating that Barnum wants to see Lady Aesculapius. She attempts to use her Factory to escape, but finds that it's been stolen. Jason, Ezra, and Aesculapius run away instead, pursued by the guards. Aesculapius takes them through a previously bricked-up door, stating that the "rule of funny" allowed her to bend reality. They emerge in an underground tunnel with the walls closing around them.

Jason falls into a hole while fleeing and emerges on the outside of the building, falling upwards. He is accosted by a man with an umbrella, who chastises him for flying without a permit and smacks him away. Jason lands on the roof of the studio by a penthouse. There is a woman with a sword attempting to break the door down, and he surmises that it's Gabriele, Ezra's previously mentioned girlfriend.

Jason and Gabriele join forces and enter the penthouse, looking for Barnum. They come across another bricked-up door. Jason, attempting to copy Lady Aesculapius's earlier move, runs at it and proceeds to knock himself unconscious. He wakes up in an abandoned circus tent, tied up next to Aesculapius, who easily escapes her bonds and offers him a peanut.

Barnum then enters without the expected fanfare, much to Aesculapius's chagrin. She then demands to know where Ezra and Gabriele have been taken. Barnum assures her that they're fine- for now. They're at Human Resources, where the department name is taken literally. This outrages sickens Jason and outrages Aesculapius. She confronts Barnum, who appears unfazed. Barnum then produces the stolen Factory of Crystal, stating that he was the one who pulled it off course. He desired the Factory in order to access its time-and-space traveling abilities.

He proceeds to tell them that he bought the bubble dimension from Dyson and obtained technology from some Kezarian smugglers, using it to set up a television studio and remove people from various other dimensions. Aesculapius tries to explain that his actions are weakening the fabric of reality, and that, combined with the Kezarian's deletion of entire universes, could destroy everything.

Barnum states that he does not care, and threatens Aesculapius. She produces the script and changes something on it, causing the Factory, which had been shut down, to start working again. Blanche then emerges from the Factory and knocks Barnum unconscious before berating Aesculapius for leaving the Factory before she could finish security checks, effectively locking her inside when Barnum stole it.

As Aesculapius apologizes, the bubble dimension begins to collapse on itself. Her, Jason, and Blanche begin to travel to Human Resources, rescuing everyone they see by sending them inside the Factory, starting with Barnum. They reunite with Ezra and Gabriele along the way. Aesculapius begins searching for a failsafe that will stop the collapse.

A talking mouse named Captain Whiskers then informs them he's seen the failsafe they're looking for, and he'll take them to it in return for Aesculapius rescuing them from the bubble dimension. She agrees, and the mouse leads them to a small hole in the wall. The failsafe button is on the other side. Aesculapius transforms Gabriele's sword into a key, letting them pass through. The button is located in the middle of a chasm, accessible only by a narrow catwalk.

The motion of the collapsing universe causes Jason to fall off the catwalk. Lady Aesculapius catches him and pulls him to safety. She then presses the button, halting the destruction. Aesculapius and Jason take a brief moment to celebrate before continuing to rescue everyone of the station.

Later, on the Factory, Aesculapius ponders what to do with everyone. She declares that she's going to drop them off at the Firmament. She also declares that she's going to bring Barnum to jail on Mars. Aesculapius then summons Ezra and Gabriele, telling them that she's going to bring them home.

The novelette concludes with Lady Aesculapius, Jason, and Blanche looking at the Factory's control screens, where a video containing the casting credits for the story is playing. Lady Aesculapius proclaims her disgust with "reruns" and switches the screen off.

References

  • Jason makes a reference to both Scooby Doo and Alice in Wonderland.
  • While running away from the guards, Lady Aesculapius remarks that "all these corridors look the same," which is a reference to Doctor Who. Lady Aesculapius is an expy of the titular character.
  • Aesculapius takes a carrot from a rabbit with the catchphrase "what's up", a la Bugs Bunny.
  • The shows Ezra acted in riff on the CW network.
  • The man flying with an umbrella is similar to Mary Poppins.
  • Aesculapius shouts that the group isn't supposed to split up, a nod to horror films.
  • Aesculapius attempts to like Station B9 to Disney.
  • J.P. Barnum is influenced by P.T. Barnum.
  • Barnum's guards are clearly meant to resemble FBI agents.
  • Aesculapius jokes that Blanche's appearance was a Blanche ex machina.

Story Notes

  • The novelette clearly plays with common tropes found in television.
  • Aesculapius and Barnum are able to break the fourth wall, thus bending reality in ways that progress the story.
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