|Doctor Who Companion Internet Adventure #05 - "Point of Destruction"
"There Isn't One"
by John Seavey
The H'Rongi in the cathedral were fully united in the group mind now. An observer would hear only a single breath, see a thousand eyes blinking in unison, feel the bass rumble of five hundred hearts beating in perfect unison. Behind it all was a single voice, the only one in a group mind to have a will of its own.
Josiah Eagleton wasn't going to let them get rid of his town. His people. His legacy. He exhorted the creature to greater efforts, his mind directing the group will far more strongly than any Planner or Co-Ordinator possibly could. //BURN THEM!// he shouted, though his words carried nowhere. //BURN THEM!//
The people at the rear of the church died of smoke inhalation without even realizing that their bodies were failing.
* * *
Liz Shaw gasped for breath, uncomfortably aware of the smoke that was passing into her lungs instead of healthy oxygen... and even more uncomfortably aware that the distraction of dying might give the other H'Rongi the edge they needed to take final control of the dragon.
Final control. The words triggered something in her mind. Perhaps it was a race memory, like she'd had in previous encounters with Silurians. Perhaps it was just stress and adrenalin. Perhaps she was just a complete and utter genius. But the legend they'd been discussing...
//I've got a plan//, she thought at the others. //We've been doing this all wrong! It's not a tug-of-war, and this isn't a rope! It's a biomechanical entity! It's a war machine!//
//We KNOW that,// Keller sent angrily. //It's shooting foot-high balls of fire at us — we think we've figured out that it's a war machine!//
//Like a tank, or a jet fighter, Mister Keller,// Liz sent back. //Think about it! Do you leave tanks lying around where just anyone can drive them?//
* * *
The smoke was thicker, now. The breathing was congested, and already the weaker members of the group had succumbed, collapsing to the ground. On one of the many levels of the group mind, the H'Rongi were well aware now that they were all in danger of imminent death.
But they could not break past Josiah. It was a sudden, terrifying realization for them all... they had surrendered their individuality, their will, only to find that there were reasons for them to have had it after all. And Josiah stood there, uncaring about the welfare of what was, after all, just another host among many, unwilling to use even the minimal energy it would take to leave the church for fear of losing the struggle...
And then the other minds vanished. They slipped from the struggle, and he could feel it! He could feel the beast's mind, like it was in the palm of his hand, and he could hear its very thoughts...
ACCESS CODE? they asked.
* * *
The dragon snarled. Long-buried protocols and systems flared to life as the presence — the foreign presence, it now realized — attempted feebly to prod at its security programs. Below it, the mammals were immediately downgraded to insignificance as it became certain of one thing — the mammals in the distance were enemies of the Silurian people, and furthermore, they were attempting to subvert it.
It felt the air stream beneath its wings as it went forth to visit destruction on the fools who would attempt war on its true masters.
* * *
Liz Shaw looked up as the dragon flew away, and breathed a sigh of relief as she felt the telepathic link finally break up. She looked over to Keller to see him spitting out a small worm into a sample jar.
"What are you planning to do with Murclan?" she asked wearily.
"I'm going to bring him back to base — we inderdicted a shipment of Ogrons that the Emir of Kuwait was planning to use as private bodyguards. I'm pretty sure that those will work as hosts...at least, they'll work better than humans have." He smiled at her. "Pretty good plan, there."
Liz found herself brushing aside a loose strand of hair, and stopped self-consciously. "Thank you," she said. "I thought there'd be some security against telepathic intrusion; it was just a matter of activating it, and then getting out of the thing's mind before it noticed us."
"We did good," he said. "And now we'd better follow it."
"Follow it?" asked Victor, propping up Madge. Neither of them felt much like 'Firedemon' and 'Rogue' anymore. They felt more like two battered and singed, twenty-somethings who'd found a little bit too much of the truth that was out there to feel very comfortable following any more of it. "Why?"
"Because once it gets done with the H'Rongi, it'll be angry and out of control, and I think we'll need to come up with a new plan. And I'm not doing that on my own."
* * *
By now, only a handful of survivors remained from the H'Rongi group mind. Alison lay on the floor, her eyes now sightless. Ramon Burns would never write a novel. Even Keith had long ago ceased breathing; only the willpower of Josiah Eagleton, undiminished by 150 years of history, kept the body standing in the midst of the smoke and flames. He would not submit. Not surrender. The beast was coming towards this spot, was it? It had turned on its rightful masters?
Then he'd show it what they did to slaves who disobeyed...
* * *
Liz and the others ran through the burning forest. Ahead, they could see the dragon as it rained fire down on the town of Eagleton, turning the hotel into cinders in an instant. A blast of flame hit the remaining fireworks for the town's celebrations, and the resulting pyrotechnics lent the whole thing an oddly festive air. They got into view of the flaming church just as the dragon got above it... they saw it draw back breath...
And then it collapsed with a thunderous smash onto the church itself. Flaming timbers flew into the air, stained glass spattered out in half-molten gobbets, and the dragon lay, unmoving.
Liz looked at Keller, who looked back at her. "You're the scientist," he said. "You tell me."
"Give me a very large scalpel, and I'll do an autopsy," she responded. "Until then, I prefer to chalk it up to happy accident."
Then something emerged from the rubble. Half its face was gone. The res was blackened and it smouldered in the night air. One arm was attached by nothing more than a ragged strip of flesh. But all of them felt the mind behind the ravaged body; they recognized their enemy from the mental battle earlier.
"Josiah Eagleton," Keller said, "you are under arrest for violations of U.S. Penal Code 1703, Section 4, to wit the Release of Wild Animals in a Domestic Locale With Intent To Cause Breach of the Peace; further, you have violated--" he slumped to the ground, unconscious. "B'rr'ng m'n," slurred Josiah. "M'd h'm g' t' sl'p... f'r b't..." He looked at Liz. "Y'r... f'lt... sh'ld... h've... d'ne... wh't y' w'r t'ld..."
Liz narrowed her eyes at him, trying to understand his speech... finally, she figured it out, and a night's worth of tension expelled itself in a single burst of righteous anger.
"My fault?" she yelled. "My sodding fault? Look around you! You tampered with ancient weapons of war best left alone because of some deranged and idiotic belief that they'd help you in some ill-defined plan to rebuild some ship of an alien race that you were using to prolong your own lifespan, which from the sound of it should never have been extended one extra minute, and you claim the whole thing is my fault? What were you thinking? What could possibly have been the point of all this destruction?"
"my... t'wn... pr't'ct... my... t'wn..."
She looked around. "And bless me, what a wonderful job you've done! You turned the whole place into a smoking heap of rubble! You killed hundreds! That's what all this achieved. That's the point of destruction." She glared at him as he finally collapsed, his psychic energy spent. "There isn't one."
* * *
Six days later, and Liz Shaw was back at Cambridge. Where I belong, she added mentally. Keller had been very nice about not wiping her memory; apparently, she'd signed the Official Secrets Act, and wiping her memories would cause a lot of diplomatic trouble. It'd make UNIT seem untrustworthy.
Shame Victor and Madge weren't as lucky. Still, they'd probably find something to keep their hopes of 'alien intervention' alive. People like that usually did.
The town of Eagleton, though, was beyond hope. What few survivors they did find were blanked-out zombies, their minds subsumed into a group consciousness that no longer existed. Murclan was working with them, in hopes of someday recovering their personalities, but... things didn't look good, he admitted.
Liz sighed as she opened her lecture notes. At least a few H'Rongi survived, in Murclan's ship. They might be able to use the help of the MIB to repair their damage. Their race might still survive. Perhaps some good might come out of it after all. Someday.
Somehow, it didn't seem comforting.
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