If you’re going to write Scream of the Shalka fanfic, Alison Cheney is where it’s at, folks, and here’s why:
Alison is important. Though the SotS canon writes her as a walking, talking plot device for the Doctor Learning To Care Again, Alison is central to all SotS stories because SotS is her story; it’s her story about finding equals in curiosity, partners in adventure, and a life that’s finally as thrilling as she always wanted it to be. Alison must appear in all SotS stories because they’re all her story.
Nobody fucks with Alison. Sure, the canon turns her first into a Shalka loudspeaker and then a victim of a psychic vampire, but enough is enough. It’s not that nothing bad happens to Alison; it’s just that she never gets gratuitously victimized, objectified, or turned into a MacGuffin just to move the plot forward. She’s already traumatized enough from her canonical mind-fucks; she doesn’t need any more. [Special corollary: I don’t care how far the Master gets in trying to mind-fuck her in the animation; he never uses his psychic powers on her unless she knows what she’s getting into and consents.]
Alison doesn’t have to do anything alone. As a corollary to the above statement, Alison has staunch allies watching out for her who will do everything they can to ensure her happiness and safety. In my version, that’s primarily the Master and Brad, secondarily the Doctor. They can err on the side of overprotectiveness, and they’re not always right in what they think she needs help with, but they do well overall. They keep her from harm as best they can. And, when she’s in need of care, they help her and take care of her. She knows that she can count on them, and she’s happy to have them.
Alison is badass, tender, vulnerable, and flawed, all at the same time. In fact, her greatest power is something like irresistible love, acceptance, and sense of wonder. Add to that a pointed, analytical mind and a zero tolerance for bullshit, and you’ve got someone who has no problem calling out Time Dorks on their crap. At the same time, she doesn’t just go around Shouldering The Weight Of The Universe And Taking Care Of Everyone. As someone who has lived with racism and mental invasion, she struggles to embody the image of the Strong Black Woman, even as she realizes that it’s impossible. She doubts her confidence, has trouble recognizing her own power, and has a secret wish for someone to hold her fast while she cries. Fortunately her friends/partners/allies/chosen family love her and support her, whether she’s feeling capable or overwhelmed. And yes, there is always, always, always someone to hold her fast and let her cry.
Alison is a Black British woman. Why yes, the canon completely ignores this, but her race and gender affect almost all aspects of Alison’s backstory, character, personality, even the conflicts and adventures she encounters. Her race and gender do not predetermine all these things, but must be considered as part of all these things. And even though she doesn’t appear to think about or talk about her race and gender in canon, she definitely does in fanfic because, realistically, that’s what people do when they are navigating a society where they are discriminated against and/or a minority.
Alison is awesome. The canon does everything it can to objectify the shit out of her and make her a prop in The Doctor vs. the Master: Married Edition. But there’s enough there for a wonderful character foundation, including, but not limited to, the following: having dropped out of a history degree and become a barmaid, being the only woman of color in a town apparently populated by white dudes, yelling at the Doctor, “How emotionally needy are you?!”, looking the Master in the face and taking none of his blandishments, dressing in a very casual style without makeup or pierced ears, and, unfortunately, getting mind-fucked twice canonically despite proclaiming, “I’m not your zombie!” And this is why I write SotS fanfic: to give her the stories and development she deserves.