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


Chapter 8
"Cordelia Lives!"
by Matthew R. Michael


---


       "This feather stirs, she lives. If it be so

       It is a chance which does redeem all sorrows"


       —'King Lear', Act V, Scene iii.


* * *


"You Changed freak!" The Peace's yell alerted his nearby fellows to Benny's presence and half a dozen of them began to head in her direction. Before she had time to react, three pairs of hands had seized her. The first Peace stood trembling, "The evil bitch tried to read my mind."


       "Freak," spat another.


       "Kill it!"


       "No," a third Peace cautioned.


       "Thanks," said Benny. "Nice to know that there's someone around here who isn't falling over themselves to blow up, knife or otherwise seriously maim me."


       "Oh, I wouldn't be so confident, you disgusting mutant. By the time Protector Hull has finished with you, you'll be begging for the slaypit."


       "Ah," Benny muttered. "I think the appropriate word is 'bugger.'"


* * *


Jason and Emile had been trudging through the barren wastes of the wilderness for hours. The sand had insinuated itself into every crack of Emile's body, and, as he walked, it chaffed against him, irritating his skin and making him wish he had stayed with Benny rather than rushing off to be a hero with Jason.

       Jason, used to such discomfiture, stood atop one of the multitudinous dunes, staring into the distance, which appeared to Emile to be as lifeless, uninteresting and generally inhospitable as the area they had already traversed. Emile admired Jason's unkempt, dirty-blonde hair, which fell appealingly around his soap-opera tough face.

       "Nice view?" he ventured, hoping to strike up a conversation, realising too late what he had been staring at when he had uttered the question.

       "I'm just checking our bearings," Jason said vaguely, unaware that his pert posterior was the current object of Emile's attention. "By the position of the sun, I think we're heading in the right direction."

       "Since when were you a Boy Scout?" sniggered Emile. Jason scowled.

       "I'm no stranger to this, you know," he snapped. "Unlike some people, I don't get paid vast sums for telling a dozen students how stupid they are, making them buy my book and then using the profits to get pissed. I have to work for my money."

       "Sorry," Emile said, rather embarrassed by Jason's outburst.

       "Oh, that's all right, Meel," Jason replied, more kindly. "You can't help having all the social grace of an ex-boyfriend at a wedding."

       Emile could think of nothing to say in reply to that, so he merely followed Jason as he set off again, into the sun.


* * *


The Peace had dragged Bernice into Orn Hull's hut. It was larger than its neighbours, and nestled in the centre of Serenity, like the queen wasp in a hive. Inside, she had found Protector Hull bandaging his leg, his already foul mood exacerbated by the pain and embarrassment of recent events. He looked up, and recoiled at the sight of Benny's bloated head, before regaining his composure. He's afraid, Benny realised. Afraid of the Changed.

       "The woman from the stars," he said finally, at once looking at her with interest and disgust.

       "That's right."

       "It was not a question. I see that you are Changed."

       "Well, you know what they say — a Change is as good as a rest."

       "When I speak to you I do not expect flippancy." The Protector gave Benny a vicious slap across her face. Blood poured in scarlet gouts from her nose, and, despite herself, tears welled up in her eyes. "Now, we shall start again. You are the woman from the stars. You can help me find the..." He paused. "The 'Nanite Failsafe Program.'" The words clearly meant nothing to him.

       "I don't know anything about the nanite failsafe. I came here by accident."

       "I see." Hull finished bandaging his leg, pulling the bindings tight, grimacing with the pain. Ponderously he rose and began to inspect his nails, meandering around the large room. He came to a stop before Benny, and smiled. "Don't lie," he screamed. Spittle showered over Benny's face, and she felt his hot breath a moment before his fist thrust into her stomach. She fell writhing onto the floor, coughing. Her nose began to bleed afresh.

       Hull knelt beside her. "You disgust me. You are an abhorrence. A stinking pustule on the face of our planet."

       "Go to hell."

       Hull laughed. "It is not my kind that are destined for hell. On the other hand, I *will* send you there. After you tell me where the nanite failsafe is."

       "I know your type," Benny hissed, the agony breathing determination into her defiance. "I've traveled the universe, visited a thousand planets, seen things you couldn't even dream of. And everywhere I've found people like you. Little men who compensate for their inadequacies by making other people suffer. I bet it makes you feel strong, doesn't it. Killing those defenseless Changed. Because you're afraid." She shouted the last word at him. He stood, slowly, and looked down on her with distaste.

       "Your kind deserve nothing but what we give. When I watch as the cleansing flames boil your flesh from your bones, and your eyes melt in their mutated sockets, I know that I am serving my people in the best way I can. I shall never rest until every last one of you is dead."

       Benny struggled to her feet. "You're mad. I don't know anything about the nanite failsafe, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you."

       "Peace!" At their Protector's cry, two Peace hurried into the room, standing smartly to attention.

       "Take this creature out of my sight. She is worthless, she can die with the others."

       "Goodbye Orn," said Benny, managing a little wave as she was dragged away. "Oh, by the way, after the shambles that was slaynight, those clothes of yours are looking a little grubby. Maybe it's time you got changed."

       "You aberrant carcass," he yelled after her. "Take her away. I look forward to the moment when I feed your offal to the dogs!"

       He turned away. "And when I have the nanite failsafe, I will destroy all your verminous siblings and pile up their rotting cadavers in the streets as a monument to my greatness."


* * *


       "Over here," Jason yelled from behind yet another dune. Emile dragged himself up it, expecting to be greeted by yet more infernal wasteland. Instead, he was surprised to see a battered and somewhat archaic shuttle half-buried under the shifting sands. Jason was already halfway down the lee of the dune, leaping over the ridges of sand like an excited schoolboy in his eagerness to reach their goal. Emile followed, more carefully, stumbling on the undulating surface of the desert. Finally, he reached the ship, falling breathlessly to the ground at Jason's feet.

       Jason ignored him, and continued his tap-tapping of the ship's hull, searching for a way in.

       "Found anything?" Emile gasped as he removed his shoes, emptying the sand from them.

       Jason looked at him as though he were an imbecile. "I'm trying to get inside," he explained through gritted teeth.

       "Well why don't you use the entry hatch on the top," Emile replied, puzzled.

       Jason clambered up a pile of hardened sand which had collected in the shadow of the craft, and uttered a loud expletive. After a moment, Emile staggered to his feet, and inelegantly followed. Jason reached down, and helped Emile up onto the roof. He gave the teenager a bear-hug, and said, "Well done, clever clogs."

       Emile blushed an intense maroon. "S'all right," he muttered.

       Jason released him, and Emile teetered uncertainly before regaining his balance. He saw that Jason had already dropped inside the ship. He peeped into the dark interior. "Jason, you OK?"

       His reply was silence.


* * *


       Benny teetered uncertainly before regaining her balance. The Peace had thrust her into a darkened hut on the outskirts of the village, which she recognised as the place where they had imprisoned Ariadne. On their journey there, she had tried to use her new-found mental powers on the Peace, but they were unaffected, and she could only assume that they were, so far, intermittent, and variable in effect.

       "Benny," the voice came from the darkness. "Is that you?"

       "Rech'y'van, are you all right?"

       "I'm alive."

       "And Ariadne?"

       "I'll live," said the Changed weakly, struggling to Benny's side. "What happened."

       Benny briefly explained her rescue attempt, and her interrogation by Hull. "He wants the nanite failsafe badly, and I don't think he trusts my bastard ex-husband to hand it over. Sensible psycho."

       "Jason said that the nanite failsafe would kill all the Changed," Ariadne mused. "If this is true, then we are all in terrible danger. I must return to Changetown. Perhaps I can organise the Changed and we can attack before it is too late, although I doubt I can control them now that Cordelia is gone."

       "Ah, now that's the other thing," said Benny. "You're never going to believe this, but..."


* * *


       "Jason?" Emile whispered as he crept through the gloomy interior of the craft.

       "Boo!" shouted Jason, leaping out in front of Emile, laughing as the teenager leapt backwards and screamed in terror.

       "You utter bastard, Jason Kane," Emile yelled. "You scared me half to death."

       Jason just laughed as Emile glowered at him. Together they continued down the corridor. After a short and wasted time sulking, Emile said, "So what are we looking for then?"

       "The nanite failsafe. It's a sphere about so big," Jason gestured with his hands.

       "What's that then?"

       "Well, the Change is caused by nanites entering the system from infected food, saliva or whatever."

       "Got you."

       "The nanite failsafe counteracts the Change by releasing hostile nanites into the system of the infected person. Basically, it attacks and neutralises the nanites that cause the Change."

       "So they're cured?"

       "Well," Jason looked embarrassed. "Not exactly."

       Emile stopped, and stared at Jason. "It kills them, doesn't it."

       Jason gave a nervous cough.

       "How could you?" Emile shouted. "How can you condemn all those people to death? And not just them. Benny's changed now, too."

       "That does rather complicate matters."

       "So what are you going to do?"

       Jason started off down the corridor again, without replying. Emile followed.

       After a few minutes, they reached what appeared to be the main area of the ship. With sudden resolve, Jason began to search the room, looking into lockers and under consoles for the artefact. Emile just watched from the doorway.

       Suddenly Jason stopped dead. "No, it can't be," he muttered.

       "What is it?"

       Jason turned to Emile, his face grim. "It's gone," he whispered, pointing to a hemispherical hollow in the wall of the ship. "Someone got here before us. Damn!" The last word was shouted impotently at the ship.

       "What are we going to do?" Emile asked, scared.

       "We have to find them and stop them. In the wrong hands the failsafe could be fatal."

       "Stop who?"

       Jason seized Emile's shoulders. "The people who have stolen the nanite failsafe," he carefully enunciated, making Emile feel even more stupid.

       "And who are they?" Emile said, trying to salvage his pride.

       Jason straightened and scratched the stubble on his chin. "That's a very good question," he conceded.


* * *


       Outside in the wilderness, Kem, Del and Ponretto continued on their long journey back to Serenity.

       "Are you sure it'll work," asked Del, worriedly inspecting the spherical device.

       "It killed Vella, didn't it?" replied Ponretto. "I'm sure it will work with equal effectiveness on Orn Hull."

       "I look forward to using it," said Kem. He now appeared as he had before the Change had started, there was no trace of mutation. "And after Hull is dead, a new era of harmony between Changed and unChanged can begin..."


* * *


       "So we're agreed then," said Benny. "We return to Changetown and muster the Changed there, then we lead an attack on Serenity."

       "Hopefully Hull will listen to sense," agreed Ariadne. "But either way, we must prevent the nanite failsafe from falling into his hands. If that happens, we're dead anyway."

       "I only hope my powers are strong enough to impose some order on the Changed."

       "How are you feeling now?" asked Rech'y'van.

       "Stronger than before. I think I'm starting to gain some control over them."

       "Are they strong enough to overpower the guards?" said Ariadne.

       "Well, there's only one way to find out." Benny sighed, "And to think that I could have been a dull old colonial marine in the Dalek Wars. But no, I opted for a death-defying career in digging up old ruins and bits of pottery. What a mad fool I am."

       As she rose in readiness, trying to focus her powers on the Peace outside, Benny's concentration was broken by the soft voice of Orn Hull.

       "That one. Take it to the Slaypit." Two Peace grabbed Rech'y'van and dragged him out of the hut. "Oh, and bring them, too," he added. More Peace nervously seized Benny and Ariadne.

       "What are you doing?" Benny demanded.

       "The unholy freak defied the Slay," hissed Hull, "I intend to find out how and why. My personal physician is ready to dissect the creature to learn its secrets."

       "No!" yelled Benny. "He's one of my students, in my care. You can't do it, the Vice-chancellor will never forgive me."

       Hull turned, and smiled evilly. "Perhaps there is a way you can save it." He leant towards Benny. "Tell me where the nanite failsafe is."

       "I've told you, I don't know. Why won't you believe me?"

       "Then after the Doctor is finished with that thing, he will start on you." He turned to the Peace Leader. "This is my judgment - death by vivisection." As he left the cell, he looked back to Benny and Ariadne, "Perhaps you will be more forthcoming with your dying screams..."


---
To be continued...



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