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Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #22 - "Verdant Carnage"


Chapter 6
"Doctor"
by Greg McCambley


---


In the empty TARDIS, the corridors were quiet, except for the low hum of the engines in the background. The hallways stretched in all directions, going everywhere at once. If anyone were inside the TARDIS, they would certainly have gotten lost. Lucky, then, that no one was around.


       But there was some *thing* there. It floated in the air, untouchable and barely visible. Gradually, however, it began to coalesce itself. It was energy, and it was gaining strength. It sensed what was waiting outside the confines of the TARDIS, and it knew it had returned to a place it knew.


       It was home.


       It sensed the creatures scuttling outside on the hive ship, going about their regular duties. It dared not approach them, as it did not wish to reveal itself too soon. But it had to leave; it had to find somewhere to go. But where?


       It then sensed a mind that seemed familiar. The mind was nearby, which was good. Its normal functions were also impaired, which was even better. The energy redoubled its efforts, and its form grew sharper and more distinct.


       Finally, it was whole again. Its energy, which had been spread throughout the TARDIS, was now focussed again. The Malus was free. Free to exact revenge. The Malus sought out the mind it had sensed, and found it.


       Slowly, the Malus disappeared, and the TARDIS was empty once again.


* * *


Jane slid into the shadow of Ben's cocoon. Watching the doorway, she pulled the pocketknife from her pocket and eased the largest blade out.


       "Benjamin Nathaniel Wolsey," she whispered to the encased man as she sawed at the strong strands binding him. "You big, thick-headed fool. You had better still be alive in there, after all the trouble you've put me through."


       The figure inside the webbing shifted ever so slightly, and Jane nearly cried out her relief. With renewed determination, she continued her attack on the cocoon. The strands slowly began to snap one by one. She watched as Ben continued to struggle underneath his shroud.


       thwunk


       thwunk


       thwunk


       More strands fell apart. Ben had by now successfully got his hand out from underneath the webbing, and he was attacking the other strands. Jane wondered if she should let up somewhat, as she didn't want to risk cutting him. She saw the webbing, which had been so tough to cut, was coming apart in his hands. She stopped cutting and stepped back, her mouth dropping open in surprise. Ben must be as strong as an ox, she thought. By now, he had freed his torso, and he was looking to free his other hand. Jane got down on her knees and, reaching out, began to free his legs.


       Ben finally managed to pull himself free. Jane smiled warmly at him. "Ben! Thank Goodness you're out of there! How on earth did you manage to free yourself? That stuff was almost like steel!" It was then she noticed the statement on Ben's face. She'd assumed the toxins had worn off. But they hadn't. His face still held its slackened, glassy-eyed look. Her smile faded, replaced by concern. "Ben?" she asked. As he stepped slowly forward, she stepped back.


       "Where is Little Mother?" he asked, his voice flat and lifeless.


       "What?" Jane asked, taken aback.


       "Little Mother," he intoned again. "Take me to her." Ben reached out and grabbed Jane's arm, squeezing tightly.


       Jane gasped in pain. His grip was like a vise. "Ben, let go! You're hurting me!"


       "Take me to her," he said again. He pushed Jane ahead. She looked at him, a look of shocked surprise on her face. Whoever she'd freed from the webs, it wasn't Ben. Or, at least, it didn't act like him. She contemplated trying to escape, but decided no. There were no other cocoons here, so this had to be Ben, and she refused to abandon him. Something was obviously affecting him, and she was going to try her damnedest to help him. But, she told herself, he's not in any condition to face the Little Mother.


       "It's this way," she whispered, pointing out the entrance she'd come in. Ben stared at her, and she hoped her nervousness didn't show.


       "Take me to her," he said. So she moved out into the hallway, with Ben following close behind.


* * *


"We are in great danger?" Friar Mabmi asked. "From what?"


       The Doctor sighed. "Do you really need an explanation right now? We're rather pressed for time."


       Mabmi looked at his guards, who were in turn watching the gnoorr. They were in the Friar's hut, a fire slowly burning itself out in front of them. Turlough was sitting in the corner, watching everybody else.


       The Friar turned back to the Doctor. "We must know what is happening."


       "Very well," the Doctor said. "This whole forest is about to be destroyed. As for why, well, I'm not really sure," he admitted, a sheepish tone in his voice.


       ~~The Time of Pollination~~


       The Doctor recognized the voice from before. Well, well, the Doctor said to himself, noting the look on Mabmi's face. Looks like he heard it too.


       "The Time of Pollination?" Mabmi asked. The Doctor nodded. "What exactly is that?"


       The Doctor pushed his hands into his pockets, ready to say yet again that he wasn't quite sure, when another voice spoke up.


       "It izz my Queen'zz time of renewal."


       Everyone turned to the newcomer standing in the doorway, and were surprised to see that it was a rather tall, ant-like creature. Standing next to it was a female forest dweller. Behind the both of them was...


       "Tegan!" the Doctor cried, a smile spreading across his face.


       "Doctor!" Tegan said, "am I glad to see you!" She stepped past the others, and rushed over to him. "Jane and Ben are trapped on a spaceship! The TARDIS too!" She looked back at the ant-like creature. "I would still be there too, if he hadn't got me out of there."


       "You have my thanks, then," the Doctor said. "Your people are the one's looking to destroy the forest, I take it?"


       It bowed slightly. "That izz partially correct. It is our Queen who izz responsible. But we have no zzay."


       "Why not?" the Doctor asked.


       "The time of Pollination izz her time of renewal. Without it, our Queen will die."


       "But your race won't?" the Doctor asked. It lowered its head in response. .


       Friar Mabmi then addressed the woman in the doorway. "Ashnai, what do you know of this?"


       "I know that the Time of Pollination must not succeed this time," she said. "Xzai and I are going to help stop it," she continued, taking the insect man's hand. "The Ba-kai will live."


       Mabmi's skin turned a paler shade of yellow. "Ba-kai?" he asked. Ashnai nodded. "That is but a legend, child," Mabmi said. "No, it isn't!" she retorted.


       The Doctor raised his eyebrows; a sure sign his curiosity had been piqued. "You know this Ba-kai, then Friar?" he asked Mabmi. "Interesting."


       "All inhabitants of this planet are aware of the Ba-kai legend."


       "Even those here for a short time?" the Doctor asked. "That's certainly an interesting way for a legend to propagate itself." Everyone looked at him as if he were mad. "Well, don't you see?" he asked. Despite his earlier efforts to hold off explaining, he couldn't help himself; the Doctor always enjoyed an audience. "Legends are usually passed down through generations by various means. Oral tradition, written text, and the like. Yet here," he said, spreading his arms wide, "everyone know it, regardless of whether they've been here for hours, or centuries." He looked down at Tegan. "Now how is that possible?" he asked her.


       It was Turlough who answered. "Because the planet is the legend, perhaps?" he asked from the corner.


       The Doctor smiled at him. "Close enough. This planet is alive, and all of us are small parts of a greater whole."


       "Even us, Doctor?" Tegan asked. "Even us," he confirmed.


       "How is that possible?" she asked. "We're not from here, and we got here by accident."


       "Ah, but was it?" the Doctor asked. "That's the question of the moment. To get the answers, I need to get back to the TARDIS." He looked at Tegan. "You said it was on the hiveship?" She nodded. "Right then," he said. He turned to Xzai. "You could get me on board your ship quickly?" the Doctor asked.


       "Of courzze."


       "Excellent! I'll go first with you, then you can come back for Tegan, Turlough, and the others," the Doctor said, already out the door.


       Friar Mabmi, who had been momentarily rendered speechless by the speed of the Doctor's actions, regained his composure. "Where are you going?" he addressed the Doctor.


       "He told you, to the hiveship," Turlough said, rolling his eyes.


       "To escape, no doubt," Mabmi said. "He must be recaptured. And you," he indicated Tegan and Turlough, "shall remain here."


       "We can't," Tegan said. "We have to get there to help him!"


       "You will not be going anywhere," Mabmi said. "Guards, go and bring them back!"


       Before the guards could move to respond, flashes of green and black flew past, and everyone was suddenly aware of deep growls coming from all around them. Several gnoorr entered the hut, quickly encircling Mabmi and his guards. The guards dropped their weapons in fear. Tegan and Turlough looked at one another.


       "Friends of the Doctor?" Tegan asked.


       Turlough shrugged. "Probably. We weren't properly introduced. Come on. We've got to go get your grandfather and Will."


       Tegan's face became clouded with concern. "How are they?"


       Turlough headed towards the cells, not answering. His face was clouded as well, but not with concern.


* * *


Jane was beginning to think that her attempt to lead Ben away from the Queen had been a bad idea. Although they had been lucky and had avoided most of the insect creatures, their luck couldn't hold. She had no idea where she was taking him, and for all she knew, they were moving further into the ship. Oh well, Jane thought to herself, at least Ben hasn't questioned where they were going.


       "Where is Little Mother?" Ben asked again.


       "I'm not sure," Jane said. "She's on a higher level than we are. I'm just trying to find a way up. Around this corner, I think," she said, closing her mouth as soon as she saw what was standing in front of them. Jane wasn't entirely sure, but she thought it was the creature that had escorted them before. It stared at them for a second, then pulled its gun out, preparing to fire.


       "How did you ezzcape?" Malvux asked. She squeezed the trigger.


       All of a sudden, Jane saw Ben move past her, ready to confront the insect. She watched as he motioned with his hands, and the insect lowered her gun. Jane couldn't believe it. Ben was making the insect creature back down.


* * *


Malvux tried to pull the trigger, but couldn't. Against her wishes, she found herself slowly lowering the gun away from the mammals. She couldn't understand why, until she began to hear the voice.


       "I require you," the voice said. "You cannot resist."


       Malvux wanted to fight the voice, but something inside her told her she couldn't. She mustn't. For the identity of the speaker suddenly became familiar to her. She had heard it long ago, back when she had been one of the thousands of hatchlings in the Little Mother's sacs.


       It was the voice of her father.


* * *


The Doctor looked to be enjoying the trip to the hiveship. He was peering at the instruments intently, his glasses perched delicately on the top of his nose. He had tried to push a few buttons, but Xzai had given him such a reproachful look that the Doctor had pulled his hands back quickly, and given a rueful smile. Ashnai had merely sat back, not saying anything.


       "Intriguing technology," the Doctor said, putting away his glasses. "Organic?"


       "Yezz," Xzai said, not taking his eyes off the hiveship. "It izz part of the hive."


       "I see," the Doctor said. He looked at Ashnai. "Tell me, Ashnai, why do you believe in Ba-kai? Mabmi didn't strike me as one who would encourage such thinking."


       "He wouldn't," she said, smiling. She sat quietly for a moment. "I believe in Ba-kai because it seems right." She shook her head. "No. Ba-kai doesn't seem right, it *is* right. There is no other way to live on this planet." She turned to face the Doctor. "Do you understand?"


       "Yes, he said. "The planet allows you to live here, as long as you follow its rules." He looked over at Xzai. "What about you? Why do you believe?"


       Xzai said nothing at first, collecting his thoughts. "It izz difficult to explain," Xzai said, "to one not of the hive."


       "Try me. I have a very open mind."


       Again Xzai said nothing for a moment. "For mozzt of uzz, our livezz have been bazzed zzolely on zzerving the Queen," he said. "Rezently, there hazz been a few of uzz who believe that zzerving her wazz not all there wazz to life."


       The Doctor nodded in comprehension. "You think there is more to life than just polishing the silverware. Quite understandable."


       Xzai buzzed in irritation. "I do not underzztand you," he said. "What izz zzilverware?"


       "Never mind," the Doctor said. "Bad analogy. Go on. You thought there was more to life than the Queen."


       Xzai nodded. "Yezz. And we felt the Queen knew thizz, and kept the other life from uzz."


       The Doctor's eyebrows went up again. "She was preventing you?"


       "Perhapzz," Xzai said. "Azz I zzaid, difficult to underzztand."


       "Oh, not really," the Doctor said. "Anyone willing to destroy life for the sake of longer life is capable of anything. I'm looking forward to having a little chat with her."


       "You might not wizzh for that," Xzai said. "The Queen doezz not deal well with creaturezz not of our razze."


       "Unfortunately, I've had a lot of experience with thinkers like that," the Doctor said, settling back as Xzai angled the vehicle towards the hiveship.


* * *


Jane couldn't understand what the hell was going on. One minute Ben had been confronting an insect creature almost double his size, and the next he had collapsed on the floor in front of her. Then, on top of all that, she had been forced to pick Ben up and support him, prodded by the insect creature. The creature, however, was not quite the same as it had been. It seemed different, but quite how Jane couldn't understand. It was still ferocious looking, and it was covering them again with its gun. It was marching them back the way they'd come, and Jane knew exactly where they were going.


       "Can't we rest for a minute?" Jane asked. "I need a break from carrying my friend."


       "If you cannot zzuport him, then I zzhall kill him and be done with it," Malvux said. She poked Ben twice for emphasis.


       "No!," Jane yelled. "I'll manage."


       "Zzee that you do," Malvux said. "Ah! At lazzt I am here!"


       They arrived in the Queen's chamber, and Jane blew a sigh of relief. She gently eased Ben up against the wall, and sat down beside him. She stared at the creature. "Well, you got what you wanted," she said. "You're here."


       Malvux turned to face Jane, and Jane suppressed a shiver at the compound eyes examining her. "Getting here wazz only part of what I want," it said. Malvux turned to stare up into the darkness. "Little Mother," it buzzed loudly. "Come to me! I have a gift for you!"


       Jane stared up too, looking for any sign of movement. Nothing.


       The insect seethed with rage. It fired its gun into the darkness. "Little Mother, zzhow yourzzelf! I command you to!"


       Jane heard a low buzzing, and as it got louder, she saw two of the fly creatures coming down. The Queen, however, still did not appear.


       "Little Mother!" Malvux hissed, "do not zzend your zzervants when I command you to appear!" Malvux fired twice, and both fly creatures fell dead to the chamber floor. Jane wished she were somewhere else at that point.


       At last, Jane heard the sound of the Queen coming down out of her nest. As before, the smaller version of it followed. They carefully made their way down the chamber wall until they stood before Malvux. The Queen hissed and buzzed, and Jane sensed the anger it was feeling.


       "What izz the meaning of thizz?" the Queen asked. "Why have you dizzturbed the Time of Preparation?" It flicked its tongue over the fly corpses. "Why kill my dronezz?" The tongue then reached out to Malvux. "And why do you deem yourzzelf worthy to zzummon me? I am your Queen. You do azz I command, not the other way around!" The Queen's tongue began to move across Malvux's body, but it quickly recoiled. "You do not tazzte like my zzervant. Who are you?"


       "You do not recognizze me, then? Or zzhould I zzay, uzz?" Malvux said. "It hazz not been zzo long ago when we were together, Little Mother." Malvux stepped forward. "If it were not for me, you would be long dead."


       The Queen buzzed with irritation. "What do you mean?"


       There then came a low beeping, which gradually grew louder. Jane's heart leapt into her throat as she recognized the sound. She'd heard it in the TARDIS when the Malus appeared. She slowly raised her head, and there on the wall was the creature from the TARDIS. The Queen's eyes moved to the same image, and she recoiled in surprise.


       "Ah, at lazzt you recognizze uzz," Malvux said. The image slowly faded. "We are back, Little Mother! Back from the void to which you zzent us."


       "It izz not pozzible," the Queen said.


       "Yezz it izz," Malvux hissed. "Your time of renewal, Little Mother, wazz made pozzible by your zzacrificing uzz!" Malvux spat at the Queen. "We were your Betrothed, and you murdered uzz!"


       Malvux stepped forward again, and the Queen scuttled back. The second Queen remained oddly silent. "You dezztroyed your fellowzz! You dezztroyed thizz planet time and again! And for what?" Malvux buzzed angrily. "For what!?"


       "It wazz necezzary!" the Queen said.


       "It wazz murder!" Malvux screamed again. "You murdered, enzzlaved, and dezztroyed a planet, all zzo you could leave thizz planet and live forever!"


       "It had to be done!" the Queen said. "I had to zzurvive!"


       "Your zzurvival had a cozzt," Malvux said, and she raised her gun to cover the Queen, "and on behalf of Ba-kai, I am here to enzzure you pay the prizze!"


       It was then the second Queen began to scream in agony, and slowly began to change its form....


---
To be concluded...



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