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Doctor Who Benny Internet Adventure #01 - "The Slay"


Chapter 3
"In Which Tradition Is Observed"
by Mister Andersen


---


Dear Diary,


       When you travel as much and as far and as strangely as I have travelled, you get used to having your subjective sensativities and recollections differing somewhat from the general consensus of normality, which is in and of its self a highly subject phenomena. I could go on about old Albert E's relativistic time dialation as a very mundane example of what I mean, which would appropriate considering that I've lost track of when, exactly, my birthday is. Travel, as some wit in just about every culture gifted with such wits remarked, broadens the mind and seriously cruks with it along the way.


       Intimations of mortality aside, being blasted out of hyperspace by one of my students in retaliation for something my ex-husband did, crashing into a planet that is inevitably far from the space lanes and then being eaten free of the dramatically tangled wreckage by a metre tall matter-eating insectboy has long ceased to be an extraordinary event. With my second, less homicidal but far less stylishly dressed student — I mean, Dalek pyjamas? — our charmingly outre rescuers fled with us for their lives from far less charming people with a slight problem vis a vis racial diversity. We are currently in their town, called Changetown, in something that looks far more like a guest room than the prisions such an adventurous young lady as myself has found herself wrongly and inexplicably flung, dumped, droped, hurled, teleported and otherwise incarcerated within.


       Still, given that we will probably die sometime within the next forty eight hours, I thought I might as well leave something for another brilliant, sexy, witty and all around snazzy archaeologist such as myself to read in a thousand years time. Assuming none of out hosts are bookworms in the truest sense of the word, which given the nature of our hosts, is a distinct possibility.


* * *


Ariadne Tavash, Guardian of Changetown, opens the guest room door after a polite interval of three seconds and a muffled call of 'Come in'. She enters in time to see the woman calling herself Benny closing a book and fastening its clasp. The boy Emile is asleep on the bed that Benny's chair is next to. She pauses for a moment, savouring again the very alien sensation of an unChanged regarding her as a person rather than an abomination in the face of God.


       "Has your friend Cordelia returned?" Benny asks, speaking as casually as one might suggesting a picnic in the lower caverns, wearing without complaint the simply woven overdress Ariadne had so hastily relinquished to cover the stranger's nakedness. It is such an incredibly potent thing, this unquestioning acceptance, that for a moment she is struck silent before responding.


       "No," Ariadne buzzes, washing an antenna nervously. "She should have been back two hours ago. I fear her son may have prevailed."


       "Her son?" Hundreds of Benny look concerned, rise to their feet, within the facets of her eyes. "Perhaps you should explain exactly what Emile and I have arrived in the middle of here?" There is something in her voice, something bespeaking someone used to... troubles... and the dealing with them.


       "I explained on the way here that we are known as the Changed," she begins, "hence the name of where we are now, and how the unChanged such as yourself seek only our destruction. When we Change, we become wild and savage. seeking only to kill and infect others." She holds up a hand to still the uncertainty she perceives within her guest. "Cordelia changed all that. Her Change gave her the ability to silence our inner beasts, so we could live as normally as possible. Tonight she went to bring one of the newly Changed back to us before he could be consigned to the firepit of the Slay, though only I was told of this. Her son Orn hates us more than any of the unChanged, and he would have no compunctions about murdering his own mother for failing the Slay."


       "Whoa, back up," the dark haired woman says. "On the way here you said tomorrow was Slay Night, and all this sacrifice talk tells me it isn't anything to do with a fat bloke in a red suit."


       Perhaps wisely, Ariadne chooses to ignore the strangeness of Benny's words and instead answers the question beneath them. "When the Change first appeared many generations ago, the ancients created the Slay as a means of determining who was touched and who was not. You place your arm in the Slay," and here Ariadne mimes her words, "and if there is a blue light you are purified before God in the firepit." She shudders involuntarily, remembering the hideous screams. "If Cordelia dies without finding someone Changed as she is to become our Protector, there is only barbarism and violent death awaiting us."


       "And you're the only one besides her that knows this." It is a statement rather than a question, one to which the Guardian admits the truth.


       "Cruk."


* * *


Protector Orn Hull looks at what his Peace have brought him, and it is a look that bespeaks terrible, terrible things for those receiving it. And because he is a just man, a man who knows God and fears Him as all the righteous and pure fear Him for the terrible power it takes to forge Order from the seething morass of Chaos that exists wherever one might look beyond His realm, Orn saves his look for the monstrosities that truly deserve it.


       He saves his look of genocidal loathing for the Changed.


       "It seems my mother and the latest poor soul she has corrupted shall not be purified alone this Slaynight," he remarks, looking up at his Peace with a beautific smile. "You have done me, you have done our God, proud this eve."


       The abomination sprawling so inelegantly — but then, elegant is a word hardly fitting such a thing — looks up at him with an expression that on a person would have been pain. Half of its antenae are gone, clotted pink blood in their wake, more of the same vile ichor issuing forth from other wounds. Strangfe chittering sounds issue forth from between its mandibles, all eight of its bound limbs thrashing in a noticably uncoordinated manner beneath the protective shroud that has been placed over it.


       "We would have used the ancient devices," the captain of the Peace says, "but the bastard killed Kehni and we wanted to see it suffer before God rather than grant it an easy death in the wastes of the desert."


       Orn holds up his hand. "You did right. Obviously the Chaos Lords are so threatened by our dilligence in rooting out the spawn they place amongst us that they are sending new and more vile legions of the damned against us. The ball of fire was obviously a divine intercession, smiting this beast that is doubtlessly one of importance amongst the unGodly in return for their corruption of our beloved Guardian. Take it away."


       His loyal Peace singularly fail to notice the crafty, gleeful smile on his broad, darkly handsome features.


* * *


Del Allane stands, trembling, at the edge of the Filter Forest. Trembling because of what he has seen, what he is doing, but mostly because he isn't properly dressed for just how cold a desert can get during the night. He still clasps the Peace spear in his hand, though he has no very great idea as to how to use it.


       He looks back into the darkness of the Forest, asking himself again why he has done this insane thing. Protector Hull might as well have slain his father where he slept, and it would have been better if he had for the firepit would claim his second parent in a most painful and undignifed way. Better to be butchered than to be consigned to the Change and the flames that follow it.


       It takes him half an hour to follow the trail left by the Peace that leads to the twisted hulk of metal from which they'd pulled the spider-thing. He doesn't know why, but something deep inside tells him that the celestial fireball that had come when his father and Cordelia Hull had been lead from the Slay is his best, his only, hope of rescue. The old stories his father once read to him as a child told of strange and wonderous things coming from the realm beyond the world of Gash, from outside the crystal sphere.


       Resting the spear next to him, Del pulls out his tinderbox and the small torch tucked into his belt he'd grabbed on the way out of Serenity. It takes a short while, but the flame finally catches. Picking up the spear, he ventures into the twisted ruins. The smell of it all is so strange yet disturbingly familiar, the stench of burnt things reminding him that in sixteen hours unless he can do something his father will be burnt to death.


       After half an hour of exploring every crevice and open space he can possibly illuminate, Del feels ready to give up. No one will believe that Protector Hull is responsible for his father's Change, especially when the only person in any way a witness to Hull's treachery is the Protector's own Changed mother, due to die with his father.


       It's then that he finds what he has been looking for with out knowing exactly what it was that he sought, lying beneath what may once have been a chair designed for an anatonomy almost identical to his own. It is recognisably a weapon, one study of his father's sacred texts tells him is named 'gun'. The ancients had these things, these 'guns' that slew at great distances, but as with the Slay have left only the artifact and not the secrets of its magick; in this case the artifact is only images of the ancients carrying these devices of death.


       The gun feels heavy and cold when he picks it up, the not-metal it is crafted from accepting the shape of his hand with disturbing ease as his hand likewise accepts the shape of the gun's handle. The narrow end points away, towards that which is to be slain, the top finger fits through the loop, pulls back–


       Del stiffles an involuntary shriek as the gun spews its magick with a flash as bright as the day and a sound as terrible as the first scream of someone thrown into the firepit, an acrid smell assailing his nostrils and souring his tongue. Carefully laying the gun back where he found it, he cautiously approaches the wall — he assumes it is a wall — that the thunderbolt struck, tentatively pulling them back from the still hot scorched blackness of the metal.


       He steps back again and picks up the gun, careful to carry it in such a way that he does not once more accidentily summon the death magick within it.


       "This Slaynight, it will be Orn Hull that will die," he swears softly.


---
To be continued...



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