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Doctor Who Whoniverse Internet Adventure #01 - "The Cold Darkness"


Chapter 8
"Entropy-Based Warfare"
by Writer X


---


"Captain! I'm getting activity here! There are five, ten twenty ships here! More, sir, it's an entire fleet. It's the Daleks!"


       "Hell! Very well. Pilot, be ready to return Valiant to main fleet. Comms, send message to the fleets and Krios. Send 'em the warning code words."


       Comms flicked his long-range communications switch on. "Calling Krios. Calling Fleets. Hear this. Cold Storm coming. Repeat: Cold Storm coming..."


* * *


On Krios, nobody had time to hear the message.


       On Krios, all hell had just broken loose.


       Aryl was already dead, the purple mist blasting through the back of his head and towards the Prince like a living thing. It streamed towards him, but at the last second, Jer'an Ste executed a nimble sweep kick that knocked the Prince onto his back, and barely out of harm's way.


       Lan was already on the comlink, trying to get support troops into the War Room, but all he got for his troubles was static. The mist was chasing the Prince, who rolled desperately out of the way as the floor where he'd been just a moment ago pitted and stained under the superheated acids. Several nobles had already fallen to the plasma bomb, and their corpses bore an expression of horrified agony. Idly, Lan thought that he may never have seen anything so impressively atrocious on a human face.


       There had been no warning of the attack. One moment, they were listening to the reports of the apparently successful assault on the Dalek factory on the moon, and then the thing had boiled out of the vents, tearing through any Draconian noble or Human military commander too slow to dodge it. Jer'an had been here, but Ronin was checking out the other end of the station.


       And now it was too late...


* * *


Ronin was checking out the other end of the station. Actually, she was doing more than simply checking it, but she hadn't told Jer'an that. He'd have insisted on accompanying her, and she knew the Prince was a valid target for this battle--and furthermore, she hunted better alone.


       She flipped sideways, barely avoiding another Dalek blast, and privately admitted that sometimes, backup helped.


       As soon as she'd heard the report from Corporal O'Mahoney, she'd known the Dalek plan. She'd spent years studying them, and although it was impossible to actually know how they thought without being one, she could at least predict the obvious when it was about to occur. Unfortunately, she'd arrived too late to jam the transmat pods, and Dalek soldiers were beginning to pour out at an alarming rate. As she rolled and dived through the growing swarm, the words of one of her old command instructors echoed through her head.


       'The overlap between lethality and disruption', he'd said, 'comes from the advantage gained when command and control units are destroyed, or supply lines are disrupted. By a very specific projection of lethality, a target that affects the enemy's ability to respond can be destroyed. Kill a messenger relaying orders to a unit and that unit never moves. Kill a commander and that unit has no brain. While these units are by no means taken out of the battle, they are less than effective in helping to prosecute it.'


       The Daleks were planning to destroy the command units, disrupt the supply lines, and take Krios for themselves. And Ronin knew that she was the only thing that stood in the way of that.


* * *


Faraday and Marat stood back to back, blasting away with chain guns and micro-SSM launchers at wave after wave of Dalek forces. The lines of communication had broken down. The rivalries between their races were gone. It had all come down to the ultimate unifier: these men had run into a Dalek ambush. They both had been reduced to one simple fact. Neither of them wanted to die.


       And the Daleks came onwards...


* * *


Noble upon noble scrambled for cover as the eldest Prince dove away from the plasma bomb. Barons hid under the tables as it tagged him on the arm, dissolving a few fingers and lighting his clothing on fire. Jer'an Ste watched, helpless, as it pursued the Prince, nipping at his heels and finally driving him to his knees. As he fell, it seemed to hesitate.


       "Well," rasped the Prince, "what... are you waiting... for? FINISH IT!"


       "As you command, My Lord," one of the Draconian nobles said as he stood up. He spun around, and with an almost casual ease, he decapitated Baron Van.


       The plasma cloud hung in the air, inert.


       All eyes turned to the Draconian noble. "Well," the Prince said, "it would appear that the Imperial Internal Security Force proves its worth yet again. Van was the traitor, then?"


       "He had to be, milord. 'Doctor' had come to the station to supervise your death personally. Of the arrivals to this station within the past several days, there were only three capable of carrying out such a plan, and one of them was killed in the plasma cloud's initial assault."


       "Then how did you know Van was the other one?"


       "I did not, milord. Duchess Tialla is extraordinarily lucky."


* * *


The Dalek forces poured into Space Station Krios, and they died. They died, knowing themselves to be the superior race, even as the twin vibroblades slashed through their armour and stabbed them in their cockpits. Each one gave its life in service to the glory of the Daleks, hurling deadly disruptor fire at the woman, even as she killed them. Each Dalek that came through the transmat faced an opponent less alert, less strong, less capable than the one before it. And still they came, and still they died. Ronin was the last, the only line of defence between them and the innocent. And she would die before she surrendered that trust.


* * *


The jamming signal had stopped after that, and station forces arrived to find the carnage that awaited them.


       Lieutenant Jou, the second in command, was in the forefront of the station guards. "What happened here, sir?" she asked Lan.


       "That," Lan responded, "attacked the Draconian nobles. It's also what killed the Emperor, and the owner of this station. It was under the control of a Dalek agent... but he's dead now."


       "I see, sir. And the local agent? Scalpel?"


       "Still at large," Lan responded wearily. "We haven't been able to get a single clue to--"


       The IISF agent was already in motion, but the plasma cloud was faster. It engulfed him, dissolving flesh and bone within seconds, leaving only a purple stain on the floor to mark his passing. Jer'an Ste started to move, but froze as the cloud began to move towards him.


       "Of course," Lan said in a tone of low menace. "You weren't briefed on that... I should have caught it as soon as you said it--"


       Jou slapped him hard across the face. "But you didn't, Human. You remain incompetent, sluggish, and unwilling to face the realities of this war. We are better off without you." The cloud shot tendrils through the security staff behind her. "Face it, Lan Hendricksen... the Draconians are more than capable of defeating the Daleks without your help."


* * *


Her katana was stuck into a Dalek, its monomolecular force-field destroyed when a stray shot hit the hilt. Her wakasashi had been shattered when she was forced to use it to block a Dalek beam that her suit would no longer stop.


       But Ronin was not beaten yet.


       A concealed wrist launcher shot a magnetic clamp onto the hull of a Dalek casing. Careful acrobatic tumbling got her through the Dalek lines, finally close to the transmat, where she'd been fighting to reach for far too long, now. Cable spooled down the rows of Daleks, entangling them against each other, marking a trail where she'd been like a cat's cradle that enmeshed the Dalek forces.


       "THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THE DALEK FORCES! YOU WILL BE EXTERMINATED!!!!!!"


       "Do not believe your own propaganda," she said as she detached the line from the wrist launcher and hooked it around the transmat console. It was too tough for her blades to cut through, specially reinforced — the dagger she kept in her left sleeve for emergencies would do her no good here. Still, she was not beaten. She leapt onto the head of a Dalek, and ran across them, dodging blast after blast until she was near the door once more.


       That was when the Dalek blast hit her in the leg, ripping through armour that had been stressed far past tolerances already. She collapsed into the open doorway, grimacing in pain, and the nearest Dalek swivelled its blaster towards her. The cord had entangled it, but the human could barely crawl, and this would be an easy shot. It cried out its hatred of this... thing, this non-Dalek, and prepared for its glorious victory. "EX-TER-MIN-ATE!" it shrieked, at full pitch.


       Ronin rolled over, a smile on her face. She held a small device in her palm. "Do you know," she asked, "what Primacord is?"


* * *


On the other side of the moon, the Dalek forces stopped in confusion. Their carefully planted transmat link had been destroyed by a force on the station. Their primary assassin had been eliminated, and although the secondary element remained active, the plan had been seriously disrupted. One more incident would require returning to the fallback plan.


       That was when Faraday and Marat, the last of the attackers, simultaneously detonated their nuclear warheads.


* * *


Jane was in the ops station, watching the progress of the battle. Nobody had seemed to question her presence; perhaps the fact that she'd been working with Lan for so long had made her an honorary crewmember, or something.


       It was hard to tell exactly how the war was going from here. The holotank was full of little blips of all different colors, seemingly flashing in and out at random as various station personnel updated the screens and gave whispered orders. She wanted to ask if the good guys were winning, but she didn't want to interrupt anyone important.


       Then she saw that friend of Lan's — the Dalek Killer — crawl into the room. She was covered in bruises, her armour looked like it was about to fall off altogether, and blaster burns marked her skin like a strange tattoo. "Jesus," Jane whispered, "what happened to you?"


       "Dalek incursion," Ronin said in a surprisingly strong voice. "They tried to get in here."


       "Should we be evacuating?" Jane asked.


       "No," Ronin said, smiling slightly. "They... had to split."


       "Then we should get you to the medbays."


       Ronin simply shook her head. "No. I look far worse than I am. The suit is self-repairing, given time... and once it has repaired itself, it will do a far better job of restoring me than any medbay. I came here to see if my efforts were not in vain."


       "Well," Jane said, "I'm not sure, but I think we're doing OK. If I read this right, these blue blips here are Dalek forces, and there's definitely a lot fewer of them than before. That big thing over there, by the way, is the moon — that confused me at first, I asked why they didn't shoot it, but... but ... Why is the moon turning blue?" When nobody answered her, she asked again, in a tone of rising panic. "Why is the moon turning blue?"


       One of the station personnel answered, although not talking to her. "Fleet, we have multiple contacts, I repeat, multiple contacts in sector 1! The moon's been riddled with them all along: it must have been a back-up plan! Another--" he broke off, then started again. "Another two fleets are arising from the moon's surface! I repeat, two more fleets, this is not a sensor error!"


       Ronin nodded to herself. "The Dalek fallback plan: overwhelming numerical superiority. "All this... has been in vain."


      


---
To be concluded...



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