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Fanfic / Slipping Between Worlds

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A fanfic by A.A. Pessimal in which two worlds collide — ours (the Roundworld) and the slightly bizarre flat earth called the Discworld. Terry Pratchett's creation is used as the mirror to reflect concepts, issues and social unrest in the world we inhabit.

Pessimal, who in a previous life served in the British Army, started the tale by writing slightly embellished Slice of Life fiction, based partly on his own experiences and on the related experiences of others. He viewed this work as partly an attempt to break out of merely pastiching Pratchett and writing something original to himself in his own voice. Another spur was to get some of his own experiences of Northern Ireland down on paper, or at least as a digital file, before they're lost. He also asked the question — what would you see if you were suddenly catapulted into the Discworld and fiction became reality? How would an average British p-erson cope in a strange new place? Which occupational group in British society might assimilate and blend in best, and make the most of the situation? What would you do, what would you see, how would you know you weren't on Earth any more? How would different people rationalise it to themselves? How would this hypothetical person cope with a world where there is more than one sentient species — several of whom hate each other as deeply and abidingly as Irish Catholics and Protestants appear to?


Owing to misadventure and a series of close encounters with the mysterious Mrs Norah Tachyon (from Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell stories), a patrol of British Army soldiers narrowly escapes death on the Roundworld only to be scattered all over the city of Ankh-Morpork. Other concepts from Roundworld piggy-back in with them and pose problems for Lord Vetinari, Sam Vimes, the wizards and the Assassins. There are several sub-plots, both on Earth and on the Discworld.

How the two sides come to an understanding is dealt with in the story. Meanwhile, the story continues at home, as Lieutenant Philip Holtack's sassy sister begins to realise everything is not as it seems and she tries to work out What The Hell Is Going On.

On the Discworld, Holtack is defending himself at a trial, fighting off Thieves, angry seamstresses and irritated Clowns, making friends with a sympathetic Assassin or two, preyed upon by a vampire, and finding out about Trolls and Dwarfs. He is in a strange and dangerous place and needs to find out all he can about it. Fast.


Catch up with this monster story here...

This fan-work has examples of:

  • Activist Fundamentalist Antics: the Campaign for Equal Heights and the AMUFORA.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Johanna's attitude to the Alien Queen.
  • Amoral Afrikaner: Subverted by Hans Ruijterman, who is a Rhodesian who later moved to South Africa, but left when the rumblings against apartheid began. While he is nostalgic for the Rhodesia of his youth, and resents being targeted by black politicians with a chip on their shoulders against whitey, he has nothing but respect for the black soldiers he served and serves with, frequently questions why black soldiers in South Africa stayed loyal ("We gave them nothing to be loyal to") and was harshly reprimanded for his "dangerously liberal" attitude to apartheid laws—as in, "he and his comrades got pissed they couldn't drink together with the black troopers they fought together with, went to the black part of town to do just that, and helped the blacks start a race riot when the cops came knocking", after which it was "strongly suggested" to him to leave the country.
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  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Philip Holtack
  • Author Avatar: Word of God says this is Philip Holtack.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: "Head-Butt" Powell.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Philip and Denise, who despite having completely opposite opinions and outlooks, remain very close and tend to fall back on a joint position where needed.
  • But Not Too Bi: Jocasta Wiggs used to think she was 100% gay. After interacting fairly intensively with Philip Holtack, she is troubled by feelings towards him. Is her gay status due merely to her having Experimented in College?
  • Chekhov's Gonne: the weaponry the British soldiers carry over to the Discworld with them. Vetinari is not best pleased about the arrival of more gonnes on his world. Not after last time.
  • Clothesline Stealing: Two uniformed British soldiers who abruptly find themselves in the alien setting of Ankh-Morpork, pursued by the City Watch and Guild of Assassins, reason this is the best way to blend into their surroundings and remain undetected.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: AMUFORA is one of the Too Dumb to Live variety, insisting that the Kite was an alien spacecraft despite the very public construction and deployment of the ship from Ankh-Morpork in the first place, and that it departed to its own world, as opposed to the reality that it was torn apart as scavenge by the thieving bastards who are native Ankh-Morporkians.
  • Cool Big Sis: Denise Holtack.
  • Cross Cultural Kerfuffle: Repeatedly, in the interactions between the British and the Discworlders.
    • Seven Platoon are quite baffled upon hearing the Discworlders asking about their guns speaking to them. They're just tools, why in the world would they speak?
  • Cultured Warrior: how Holtack wings it with the Assassins, who like to see refinement in their trained killers.
  • Do-Anything Soldier: the Welsh, especially Holtack.
  • Ensign Newbie: Philip Holtack is just experienced enough not to be this. The Battalion Butt-Monkey is Second Lieutenant Rebecca Trett, Captain Band's deputy. She is brand new, completely inexperienced, and Ground Zero for every put-on and practical joke going.
  • Expy: The Llamedosian 23/35th Regiment of Foot is basically a Discworld expy of Holtack's own unit, the Royal Welch Fusiliers. For starters, one should recall that before the Childers Reforms did away with most regimental numberings, the Royal Welch Fusiliers were the 23rd Regiment of Foot.
  • Father to His Men: Certainly the Colonel. Lieutenant Philip Holtack aspires to this but most of the time considers it an achievement to be Big Brother to his men. Many of whom are older than he is.
  • Fiery Redhead: Johanna Smith-Rhodes.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Even more than in canon: Ankh-Morpork seems to be England, Howondaland is the disc counterpart of South-Africa, Llamedos is Wales...
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: seven very confused Roundworlders who end up on the Discworld. Plus the even more confused, and confusing, Norah Tachyon, who is probably the best placed of them all.
  • Flying Saucer: AMUFORA believe this is how Holtack and the other Visitors arrived in Ankh-Morpork. It was more like Shopping Trolley And Mysterious Old Bag Lady — but AMUFORA refuse to believe this, calling it yet another government cover-up.
  • Funetik Aksent: All over the place, as is normal for Discworld. As a consequence, two of the soldiers mistake golems (giant animate statues of clay) as being Gollums, leading to a rather rude awakening at the Species Awareness Raising in chapter 49. The author notes that this is a reference to an incident where he made a similar mistake whilst playing a game of Dungeons & Dragons, resulting in his character being mashed by an iron golem after he took it on singlehandedly.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": Denise Holtack starts uncontrollably and hysterically laughing at her brother's funeral. It's either that or howl with uncontrollable tears — she does this too, but later.
  • Girly Bruiser: Just about any young female character who appears. Pratchett does not write weak and wimpy women. Special kudos to Johanna Smith-Rhodes, Jocasta Wiggs, and Sian Nash.
  • The Greys:
  • Heel–Face Turn: what Holtack hopes to be able to persuade IRA gunman Mac Elroy to do, as it looks as if his co-operation will be needed to return all the Visitors to Earth. But will he listen? And he has to be found first...
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Alice Band. Both of her.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Jocasta Wiggs, after she first reveals herself to Holtack.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: Denise Holtack is troubled that her brother appears to have simply not noticed, despite the fact she's dropped quite a few hints as to why she doesn't have a boyfriend. Indeed, Philip invites her to a Mess Ladies Night with the obvious intention of setting her up. she does in fact cop off. Only not with a male officer. Also, Discworld Alice Band finally comes out to Ponder Stibbons, who was also blissfully oblivious.
  • Impressive Pyrotechnics: Johanna Smith-Rhodes dealing with the Shopping Mall Parasite in its new mutated form. note  Given the Million-to-One Chance in action, this exactly coincides with an even more impressive explosion on the Roundworld. Via a nearby mysterious bag lady, the two bangs open a window allowing eight Roundworlders to escape death and wake up in a new place.
    • A rogue broomstick also impacts into the wasteland used by the University to dump centuries of magical waste. The resultant mushroom cloud only fuels fears of alien invasion and the deployment of advanced extraterrestrial weaponry.
  • Insistent Terminology: Holtack's regiment keeps a goat. No, he is not a mascot. He has his own paybook and is considered a full member of the regiment. Doesn't make him any less of an ornery goat, though—military veterinarians enter his enclosure alone at their own risk.
  • Iron Lady: Joan Sanderson-Reeves. The Roundworld Alice Band, up to a point.
  • Land Of My Fathers And Their Sheep: the Welsh/Llamedosians. Although the National Stereotypes used for the Welsh are the ones they'd cheerfully admit to themselves, and the worst/ least supportable ethnic stereotypes are averted.
  • La Résistance: The IRA.
  • Little Green Men:
  • Lord Error-Prone: Rust. Selachii. Venturi. Omnius.
  • The Men in Black: Vetinari's Dark Clerks, Assassins in government service, sent out to assess rumours of an alien visitation and to monitor public unrest at this news.
  • Mistaken for Afterlife: All seven men transferred to the Discworld after the bomb explosion briefly consider this might be the case.
  • Monster Fun Facts: Sally von Humpeding patiently explains to Philip why vampires in relationships with human men are worried by neither contraception nor STD's. Apparently human sperm can't cut it and nor can human diseases. They're too weak and wimpy for vampire systems.
    • Apparently there is also a Monster Manual designed for the information of new members of the city Watch that explains all about non-human sentient species. Philip holtack gets a courtesy copy.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: HEX reveals that Denise Holtack, in one possible timeline, may have a son who she will call Philip in memory of her apparently dead brother.
  • New Meat: "Boy" Hughes, the youngest and newest member of Seven Platoon.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • On the few occasions where they handle them, Discworld characters report hearing the Platoon's rifles talking to them. This is the phenomena that made the gonne so dangerous in Men at Arms.
    • AMUFORA references Leonardo da Quirm's Kite from The Last Hero.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed in the making of this fiction. Prince Charles and Princess Diana are referenced, mainly in the context of Philip Holtack being enormously relieved that in saluting Royalty with a ceremonial sword with which he had received minimal training, he did not inadvertently insert it into the royal nostril. Or indeed his own.
  • Not Enough to Bury: this is what Denise Holtack is initially told concerning her brother's apparent death. the Army explains the apparent absence of bodies by pointing to the bomb explosion being so incredibly large that six men were completely vaporised. She considers it to be the sort of huge black joke her brother would have been first to laugh at — that a coffin will be filled with sandbags containing dust and rubble from a Northern Irish street, that just might contain a few atoms of her poor dead brother.
    • Later on a psychic with a finger on the pulse tells her that they Never Found the Body. This is her first sign that things are not what they seem.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: The IRA's motivation.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Philip Holtack.
  • Oh, Crap!: the moment where Holtack finally realises that there are such things as vampires.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Roundworld Alice Band has to sort and account for the personal effects of Phillip Holtack after he is presumed dead.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Philip Holtack performs a variant of this when seriously provoked. It knocks his rifle barrel out of true and has potentially fatal consequences.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Some of the main characters show bigoted opinions of the Irish, though since they are British soldiers straight out of The Troubles, this is sort of Justified.
    • In a weird In-Universe moment, several of the seven have to attend a "corrective meeting" after expressing what Discworlders think of as prejudiced, racist comments about the Undead, dwarves, trolls and golems.
  • Porn Stash: Roundworld Alice Band stresses the importance of discarding anything of this nature which belongs to a deceased soldier rather than returning them to relatives.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Guilty. Although Mrs Tachyon is more Chaotic Neutral than evil.
  • Sandbag Funeral: The burial services on Roundworld. The accompanying author's note suggests he has been involved in arranging at least one of these in real life as part of his employment with a funeral director.
  • Sergeant Rock: Principally Dafydd Williams, but also Detritus, Craig-Y-Don, Angua, A.E. Pessimal, Willikins, Fred Colon, and other three-striped archetypes.
  • Shared Family Quirks: the Holtack siblings. Both are independently minded, recognise and laugh at the absurd, and tend not to take things at face value.
  • Shoutout: to Alien.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: as the initial rush of events begins to slow and there is time to reflect, Philip Holtack worries that PTSD is beginning.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Holtack on first meeting things of myth and legend in the flesh (or silicone) — and definitely after encountering Sally.
  • Snipe Hunt: The elusive Mrs Tachyon is the snipe, vainly hunted by both soldiers in Northern Ireland and the Watch in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Sniper Duel: one of these happens immediately before the bomb blast that changes everything.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Ms. Estrella Partleigh and Countess Von Vinkling are both treated as this; as a consequence, Seven Patrol thoroughly enjoys taking the piss out of them throughout the Species Awareness raising meeting. In contrast, Ms. Dearheart and her no-nonsense, straightforward attitude about golems earns nothing but respect from her audience.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Johanna Smith-Rhodes is this, at least with the Great Apes. It comes of knowing the Librarian.
  • Stroke Country: the initial setting in London/Derry.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: Olga Romanoff (witch and Air Policewoman), Joan Sanderson-Reeves (Assassin) and finally Susan Sto Helit (acting DEATH) when they confront the Alien Queen.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: the moment when, due to applied mirror magic via HEX and an omniscope, the two Alice Bands become aware of each other and both have a moment of existential angst.
  • Transparent Closet: Denise Holtack. Also, to varying degrees of opacity, both Alice Bands and Jocasta Wiggs.
  • Training from Hell: aspects of Holtack's officer training, such as resisting interrogation and withstanding low-level torture.
  • Trapped in Another World: the basic premis of the story.
  • Ultimate Job Security: normally a Tom with a disciplinary record as bad as Fusilier "Head-Butt" Powell would be out on his ear at the first available Dishonourable Discharge. But since he is a mainstay of the batallion rugby side, the Colonel, Captain Endion-Williams, and Lieutenant Holtack, all collude to keep him in the unit. Despite eleven years' service, Powell has not advanced beyond private soldier's rank.
  • Vampires Are Sex Gods: and at least minor goddesses. An unprepared Holtack, who starts off by not even believing vampires exist, is powerless to resist Sally von Humpeding.
  • the Wild Card. Ruijterman's special loyalties and sympathies. And the Provisional IRA gunman Mac Elroy, who slips between worlds with a gonne and ammo which is outside Holtack's control, and a burning desire to kill Brits. He's already had Holtack in his sights once.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The IRA.
  • With Due Respect; Holtack's attiude to Lords Rust and Selachii when he realises they're not so much soldiers as self-promoted idiots. Various sergeants' opinion of his marksmanship. Holtack's attitude to the Royal Ulster Constabulary senior officer investigating accusations of assault.
  • World Building: Part of an ongoing attempt to expand Pratchett's disordered and often internally contradictory Discworld by adding countries hinted at or barely there in the canon, giving them backstories that fit, and smoothing out contentious bits of the discworld timeline. note .
  • You Have to Have Jews: Corporal Greenberg and Fusiler Cohen, whose Jewish Mother gives Holtack an administrative issue to deal with. Also CSM Weissmann, the Army Rabbi who helps resolve things to Mrs Cohen's satisfaction.
    • Also Holtack and Powell's suspicions about the Cenotine religion (the one with the secret of making the very Yiddish Golems, and which patronises kosher butchers).
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: In Stroke Country, this depends what side of the River Foyle you're standing on.

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