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

Chapter 10
"Might As Well Be Gone"
by Ben Payne


       Extract from the diary of Bernice Summerfield.

       Well. I suppose I should have expected it. Things were starting to go well, there was a vague possibility that I was going to be able to wrap things up neatly and succinctly, fix the Slay and cure the Changed, and so I suppose it’s only natural that I should wind up back in this cell. Oner the years I’ve detected this pattern in my life. I thought things might change when I left the Doctor, but it would seem I’m just as much a trouble-magnet as him.

       So, at this moment there are two possibilities. One; Orn will decide I’m really too much trouble and know too much blah blah blah, and throw me into a pit of burning coals. Or, two; he’ll realise that he needs me to save his own pathetic skin, attempt to help me, and we’ll *both* be thrown onto burning hot coals by those enviro-suit guys. Oh, or they could just shoot us.

       There is, of course, another possibility, dear diary. Perhaps they’ll keep me alive a little longer and I’ll be able to die at the hands of an archaeological relic unearthed by my ex-husband. Now *that* would be dramatic closure.

       At moments like this, I still can’t help expecting to hear a familiar wheezing-groaning noise, and to discover that I’m part of some carefully contrived masterplan to defeat some old enemy I’ve never heard of. Then I remember I’m alone now. That I’ve managed to send everyone I care about away, one way or another. And that if I die here, with no-one to care, no-one to even pass this crukking diary on to my publishers, then it’ll be pretty much my own stupid fault.

       Extract ends.

* * *

       Emile trudged on resolutely behind Jason. The sun descending on the horizon shone into his eyes and showed Jason up in silhouette, reminding Emile of the cover of a cheap romance novel. He quickly put the comparison out of his head, reminding himself that Jason was an immoral mercenary (not to mention the ex-husband of his lecturer).

       "So doesn’t it bother you?" Emile couldn’t keep quiet any longer.

       "What’s that?" Jason didn’t seem interested, at least not interested enough to turn around or slow down at all.

       "That you might be responsible for killing Benny..." Emile hadn’t meant it to come out so nasty.

       Jason rounded on him, and there was venom in his voice as he spat "Listen, you precosciouss little Indiana Jones wannabe, I don’t know what Benny’s been telling you about me, but even if what she’s told you *is* true, she doesn’t have the right to carry on like she knows me inside out. Not any more". Emile lowered his gaze and shuffled uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "Now, sure, maybe this nanite whatsit won’t be able to cure anyone, maybe they will have to destroy the Changed, but surely it’s worth the lives of a few creatures that probably wouldn’t have lived that much longer anyway, in order to save an entire planet?"

       Emile was silent. He stared at Jason, amazed at the way his perception of the man changed as he spoke. Gone was the dashing rogue from the tacky holo-vids; now Emile could see the lines that creased the corners of his eyes, the furrows of uncertainty that spread across his brow, the memories that aged him years.

       Even more astonishingly, Emile realised that this impression, if anything, strengthened the attraction he already felt for the man. Suddenly self-consciouss, Emile turned away.

       Jason, misinterpreting the gesture, sighed in exasperation. "Except now, you’re right", he said. "The ends may sometimes justify the means, but they don’t justify Benny". Emile was surprised at the tenderness in his voice. "Not to me. Unfortunately, the matter’s out of our hands. And unless we get hold of this failsafe soon, we’ll be in no position to barter. Now, come on"- Jason set off once more- "let’s check out this Changetown".

* * *

       There was an uproar coming from the edge of town. Orn strode purposefully in its direction, shaking his head in agitation... If one more thing interupted the spider-creature’s disection...

       "What’s going on here?" he bellowed at nobody in particular.

       "Well, well, well", a familiar voice answered. "If it isn’t my old friend Orn".

       Orn turned in terror to see Kem, along with his son and another Changed, levelling a weapon at his head. No... not just a weapon. It was the nanite failsafe.

* * *

       Bernice heard the commotion from the cell. "I feel distinctly left out of the plot stuck in here" she muttered out loud.

       "Ahem", Ariadne cleared her throat. "Perhaps we might make use of this disruption to escape. Do you think you could use your psychic powers on the guard?"

       "I could try... But it won’t do us much good. That ruckus out there is directly between us and the desert... What are we going to do, fly..." Benny trailed off.

       Ariadne fluttered her wings modestly. "I think I’m up to it..." she paused. "You’re not heavy-boned are you?"

* * *

       One of the figures in the Environment suits stepped up confidently (why were they still wearing those ridiculous things, Orn wondered).

       "I’m afraid you’ve been misled" he smirked. Kem looked a little worried. "You see, the nanite failsafe is only harmful to the Changed. It will be quite ineffectual on Orn here. So go ahead, fire away".

       Orn swallowed. Oh dear.

* * *

       Jason stared at the smouldering remains of Changetown. "Bugger", he muttered.

       Emile couldn’t believe his eyes. "We’re too late", he lamented. "Oh, Benny".

       Jason was either thinking positively, or in denial, depending on which way you looked at it. "Look," he said, "Even if this city was destroyed by the nanite failsafe, Benny wasn’t here, she was in Serenity. They might not have reached there yet, so there’s still a chance we can stop them".

       Emile nodded miserably, fearing the worst.

       The two travellers turned in the direction of Serenity. They had only taken a few steps when they heard a low growl behind them.

       "Um..." Jason glanced at Emile, "are you much of a runner?"

* * *

       Benny and Ariadne stood at the edge of the Filter Forest. "Just give me a second", said Ariadne. "Let me get my bearings".

       Benny stood uncomfortably, peering into the dark. Suddenly, in her peripheral vision, a shadow darted. She clutched at Ariadne. "Something’s out there", she whispered.

       "Quickly", Ariadne handed her a branch, which she lit from her matches. "The light should frighten it momentarily.

       As the branch blazed alight, it lit up the figure of a young Changed, half human, half snake.

       Ariadne stepped forward, relief washing over her features. "Farren!" she exclaimed.

       The snake-creature snarled and leapt at her face.

* * *

       Emile stood panting, trying desperately to regather his breath. They had outrun the creature for the moment. They could still hear distant howls, but none close by.

       "Now, if we head East from here..." Jason began, then suddenly stood up, stock still and listening. "Damn!" he cursed.

       "What is it?"

       "I obviously hadn’t given these creatures enough credit. I thought we’d outrun it..."

       "But we did".

       Jason yelled in frustration. "It let us get away! Listen".

       Emile listened, and gradually became aware that the howls were coming not just from behind them, but from all around.

       Jason nodded, seeing the boy understood. "They’re herding us"

To be continued...

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