|Doctor Who Missing Internet Adventure #22 - "Verdant Carnage"
by Mary Hyde
The flies descended with their burdens and landed softly on the floor of
the cavern. They seemed to bow, splaying their upper appendages in
front of them, and backed away slowly into the shadows.
Jane and Wolsey exchanged another glance between them. Jane whispered
to Tegan, "Didn't that cricket say 'Little Mother' as in singular?"
Tegan nodded wordlessly, her eyes transfixed on the two sets of enormous
blue compound eyes staring down at her. She felt as if she were a bug
about to get squashed by someone's foot. The larger of the two queens
unfurled a metre-long black tongue and touched Tegan's stomach
tentatively. She could almost feel the bile surging up her throat.
Where the tongue touched was a warm and wet feeling that lasted for a
moment before the tongue withdrew in a hiss of dissatisfaction. The
queen turned to the other queen and buzzed unintelligibly. It turned
back to the small group. Through a maelstrom of buzzing that filled up
every recess of the cavern it boomed, "Alien Zzzzcum, how dare you
* * *
The expected electric sizzle never came.
Instead, the Doctor was caught up by a green blur that shot from the
glowing foliage and clamped its teeth into his upper arm. "Oh, not
again," he muttered as the gnoorr dragged him into the underbrush.
Behind him, he could hear one of the Ngvoe Mining Corporation's Scout
Team members commenting that being eaten alive was a terrible way to
die. That was just before the growling and screaming and shooting
His rescuer crashed through the thick growth with him, pushing deeper
and deeper into the jungle. At last, the creature paused in small
clearing. It sniffed the air, then apparently deciding it was safe,
dropped the Doctor at the base of a smooth-barked tree and sat back on
its haunches, watching him with unblinking purple eyes.
Stunned that the great tiger hadn't already torn away a chunk of his
flesh, the Doctor, keeping one eye fixed on the gnoorr, sat up and
assessed his injuries. "Well, the punctures are fairly deep," he said
conversationally to the cat. "But the bleeding's stopped. It looks a
great deal worse than it really is."
A wave of patient humour swept over his thoughts and the Doctor stared at
the gnoorr. "Oh dear! Those feelings and memories I experienced
before... You *are* sentient, aren't you?" A feeling of affirmation
followed. "But are you empathic only, or can you send more complex
thoughts, I wonder?"
The cat yawned and stretched, emitting a squeaky mew that reminded the
Doctor of a newborn kitten. Then it plopped down amidst the leaf
litter, staring back. And waiting.
"Ah, well then," the Doctor began cautiously, "I am the Doctor. And
do you have a name?" An image of the tiger's face flashed behind his
eyes. "No. Well, nouns and I are rather old friends, so I think I
shall call you..." He squinted at the creature, looking for a suitable
discerning feature. The giant cat squinted back, and as the light
caught its eyes, they glinted gold.
"Amber-Eyes it is," he decided. The gnoorr growled in short, sharp
bursts like laughter. It apparently thought his actions were hilarious.
"Yes, perhaps naming things is funny. At any rate, I'd much prefer you
were amused, rather than..."
The foliage around them suddenly began to rustle and a pair of bright
green cubs the size of full-grown cocker spaniels burst into the
clearing, snarling and leaping on each other playfully as they rolled
through the leaves. Gradually, soundlessly, more of the gnoorr emerged
until they ringed the clearing, looking on. For a moment, the Doctor
remembered his first meeting with the pack and had to struggle to keep
his fear from showing.
~~Not fear. Not prey.~~
The Doctor looked around at the tigers he could see, unsure from which
the thoughts had come. "I... I'm very glad to hear it."
~~Tasted. Blood. Life. Talk. Not prey.~~
He glanced at his torn jacket, the fawn-coloured fabric soaked with his
blood, and frowned in confusion. "You've tasted my blood, my life, and
now we can communica--"
~~Beloved of Nature.~~ The feel of the thoughts was soft, gentle, like a
tender caress against his mind. ~~WE...~~
And at once, the Doctor could feel the inclusiveness in the word — the
gnoorr pack; the trees and plants of the forest; himself; certain
others. He realized that the sensations weren't coming from just one
member of the pack, but from all of them. And from more. He rose to
his feet, knowing the words that would come next. His arms held out, he
~~WE are Ba-kai.~~
* * *
The queen's tongue whipped out again to flick against Jane. To her
credit, the woman managed to hold completely still, but her fear showed
in her crunched eyelids and tightened lips. She exhaled with relief as
the huge bee finished her inspection.
"Invaderzzz!" the queen snapped again. "ZZZcum!"
"Invaders?" Tegan yelped. "But we were brought here against our will!"
The cricket guard stepped forward to silence her, but at a furious
buzzing from the queens, fell back. "You have dezzzecrated the
zzzacrednezzz of the protected zzzection!" Despite their insectoid
features, Tegan could hear an almost human fervour in the queens' voices.
"You are contaminantzzz!" The chamber filled with the click and buzz of
agitated insects' mandibles and wings.
The renewed noise woke some deep instinct and Tegan shivered in fear.
"We didn't mean to intrude," she stammered, backed away and bumping into
the solid figure of Ben Wolsey.
He stepped in front of the two women. A man of the soil, Ben understood
better than most the connection between farmer and insect. Some, like
the bees, were helpful, but to be respected. Others were mere nuisances
that had to be planned for and worked around. "We do beg your pardon,
ma'am," he said, executing a small bow toward the queens.
The furious buzzing in the room died down slightly as the larger queen
extended her long tongue toward the man.
"Of course!" Jane said abruptly. "They must be a collective!"
"How's that?" Tegan turned toward the woman, dragging her gaze from Ben
and the queen's examination of him.
"Little Mother doesn't refer to a particular individual, but to the
collective of sub-queens." Jane grabbed Tegan by the shoulders. "Think
of it! An anthill or beehive has a dominant queen who is the egg-layer.
But if something should happen to her..."
"They always have replacements ready." Tegan nodded as she recalled her
Biology lessons from school.
"Correct!" Jane beamed as though at a favoured student. "And in a Hive
ruled by an intelligent Queen, the sub-queens would need to know
everything that she does, in order to take over smoothly."
"Are you saying these things are telepathic?"
"Oh, it needn't be anything so elaborate as that," Jane stated.
"Insects on Earth use chemical signals, dances, even touch to pass on
information. Why shouldn't these..." Her face suddenly went deathly
pale and she shrieked, jumping backward to land sprawled against the
Tegan spun around. A large yellow spider had descended from the ceiling
of the chamber and held Ben in two of its legs. The man's body had gone
rigid like a board.
"Ben!" Tegan ran forward, hammering against the spider's exoskeleton.
It ignored her attack completely as it twirled Ben around, coating him
with a long strand of sticky thread. "Stop it! You're killing him!"
"Nonzzzenzze!" The smaller of the two sub-queens was addressing her.
"He izz not an egg-layer. Thizz will prezzerve him."
"Then he's not dead?" But even as she asked, Tegan could see Ben's chest
slowly rising and falling under the casing of tangled silk.
The sub-queen turned the blue hemispheres that were her eyes toward the
human male. The spider had apparently finished cocooning the man and
was fixing his still form to the wall. "He'zz zzzimply unconzhiouzz.
"Please." Trembling in Malvux' grasp, Jane could barely stand, her eyes
flicking back and away from the spider and its grisly task. "Please,
let him go," she pleaded.
The two sub-queens buzzed at one another, antennae touching and
stroking. "That izz not permitted," the larger one finally said, "but
becauzze you are egg-bearerzz, you will be allowed to zzztay alert."
Then with a roar of wind, the flies carried their 'little mother' back
to the top of the mountain of green egg cases.
A moment later, at a signal from Captain Sarniac, Malvux pushed the
women from the chamber.
* * *
The guards pushed open the door and forced Turlough and Andrew back
against the far wall. Then the body of Will Chandler was dumped into
Turlough barely spared the fallen figure a glance, but from his position
in the doorway, Friar Mabmi noted with some satisfaction that the Elder,
Andrew, was fussing over the boy.
"What have you done to him?" he demanded, turning Will over gently and
checking for broken bones.
"We seek only to ascertain the truth of this matter."
"How does beating a young man into this condition..." He frowned,
brushing aside the ragged fringe of hair from the boy's forehead. A
large goose egg of a bruise had begun to form. "If it's the truth you
want, a bit of kindness might get you a great deal closer to it than
The Friar's yellow eyes blinked, once, twice. "What sort of kindness?"
Andrew looked up suspiciously. "Well, bandages and warm water, for a
Mabmi allowed it and the supplies were brought. "Kindness," he stated,
watching as the Elder cared for the injured young man. "That will
enable you to tell us where the blue 'magic' box is located."
"What!" The old man paused, and then resolutely continued binding the
boy's arm. "You did this just to..." He shook his head. "I would
gladly tell you where that blasted box was, if I knew! But we got lost
in the forest..."
"And now you have forgotten," Mabmi finished, nodding solemnly.
"It's all just so frustrating, isn't it?" Turlough was leaned against
the wall, arms crossed over his chest and his face twisted into a sneer.
Mabmi sighed sadly and glanced at the guards. "Yes, it is," he said as
Turlough was grabbed and hauled away, clawing and yelling, for
The door shut with a soft click and silence returned to the room. "I
did warn the young man about that poor attitude of his," Andrew
commented to the unconscious Will.
* * *
Malvux marched them down the passageway, stopping before an opening not
much bigger than a rabbit hole set midway up the wall. "Go inside," he
insisted, gesturing with his gun.
"We can't possibly fit..." Tegan began to protest. She jumped as Jane
grabbed her arm and hauled her toward the hole.
"You get over there, Tegan," the woman insisted, "and you crawl through
that hole!" She glanced at Malvux nervously. "Now!"
A surge of panic rose as Tegan looked into Jane's fear-filled eyes.
Without another word, she dropped to her knees and forced her shoulders,
and then with more difficulty, her hips through the hole. She slithered
into a small spherical cell, managing to bang her head on the waxy
ceiling as she stood up. A moment later, she heard Jane struggling in
Malvux looked in through the hole. "We will bring you nutrients and
water at the appropriate time."
But as he backed away, Tegan called out, "So what happens to us now?
You just lock us up?"
The guard's face reappeared. "The Great Mother has not decided your
fate yet. You will remain here, where you cannot contaminate others."
"Sir, if I may ask," Jane said, having regained a measure of her
composure, "this protected area of yours...what is it? Why is it so
Malvux buzzed, seemingly confused by her question. "There is the
Forest, the Place of Pollination. It is protected, by the Barren Places
and the Star Lands."
"So the Forest is being protected from harm," Jane reasoned. "A
Preserve of some sort."
The insect's voice rasped, almost like a sigh, and he explained further
in short, clipped syllables as though she were a simpleton. "The Forest
will be destroyed, the creatures scattered, until the subsequent Time of
Pollination. Thus has it always been; thus will it always be. This is
the way of the Hive." He abruptly withdrew his head from the opening.
A moment later, a bee-like creature appeared, and began to cement the
hole over with wax.
* * *
The Doctor strode through the cool shadows of the deep forest with the
gnoorr pack, the twin cubs nipping at his feet and legs. He'd always
been fond of cats, but this might be taking things a bit too far, he
mused, rubbing ruefully at his damaged shoulder.
He had spent most of the journey thinking of names for them, even though
the gnoorr found this to be incredibly funny, their feline laughter
filling the air with rumbles and purrs and growling chortles. He had
tried to force himself to simply envision their faces to designate which
one he was taking about, but his mind insisted on labelling them, if only
for ease of identification, and he had finally given in.
He looked around at the gnoorr closest to him. There were the cubs, Dee
and Dum, now resuming their game of tackle in the long brush; Old
Chipped-tooth, with his broken upper canine; Lithe little Swirly-stripe,
her black and green patterns running in graceful loops and whirls down
her flank; Green-feet, newly adult, but still bounding along on his dark
jade-coloured paws like a cub; and Amber-Eyes, whose purple eyes flashed
golden and with whom he was currently walking.
Abruptly, the forest changed. The brush grew sparse, and then not at
all. Stark tree trunks rose out of soil covered in thick layers of dead
leaves. The pack and the Time Lord crunched through the devastation.
"What has happened here?" the Doctor whispered.
He frowned and shook his head at Amber-Eyes, not understanding.
A sensation like a sigh flowed over him. ~~Black pelt. Yellow-eyes.
Kill forest. Grow wrong plants.~~ Then as if in answer to everything.
* * *
"I'm very sorry, Tegan." Jane hunched down against the rounded wall and
pulled her cardigan about her. "I shouldn't have snapped at you like
Tegan shrugged, accepting the apology. "You were obvious afraid."
"I was terrified," Jane corrected. "After all these years of teaching,
you'd think I'd be used to all the little creepy-crawlies the children
hide in my desk."
"Spiders," Tegan realized. "You're scared of the spiders."
"I read somewhere that knowledge conquers fear," the schoolteacher
lamented, "but in the case of spiders, it hasn't done anything to help
me." She shivered. "I still can't stand them."
"The rigidity of his muscles, increased perspiration, lowered
respiration," Jane shook her head sadly. "He's been injected with a
powerful neurotoxin of some sort."
"We've got huge awful spiders in Australia," Tegan told her. "Live
under big rocks or alongside a house's foundation. Dangerous blighters.
A male can kill a grown man with one bite."
"Funnel web spiders," Jane replied. "Yes, I've read about them." She
lowered her head into her hands. "Oh, Ben," she murmured.
"The 'little mother' said that he was only being preserved."
Jane's eyes grew very bright as she looked up. "And why do spiders
preserve their prey?"
Tegan began to feel sick. "To eat them later?"
Jane nodded soberly. "Spiders predigest their prey so they can drink
the tissues." She began to unbutton one of her vest pockets. "But
there's still a chance, if we can get Ben away from here. His body will
be trying to neutralize the poison. Now if only his nervous system
hasn't started to shut down, or necrosis set in." She pulled something
red and chunky from the pocket and tossed it toward Tegan. "Here." The
younger woman caught it easily. "I confiscated this from one of my
students. Let's see if we can't get that door open."
Prying open one of the blades on the pocket-knife, Tegan attacked one
side of the waxy lump blocking the opening while Jane set to work on the
other with a set of keys.
* * *
"Amber-Eyes", the Doctor addressed his question to the tiger, "who are
the Others? The Ba-kai who aren't here with us?"
He saw a vision of a tall, brown antlike creature; then a dark humanoid
female with an owl's round eyes; a stately insect similar to a bee;
another of the black-skinned, yellow-eyed people, old and wrinkled; in
quick progression, more images flashed before his eyes.
"Ah, I think I see," the Doctor said. "These Ba-kai are all among the
Community and the Hive?" An affirmative sensation verified his guess.
~~The Time of Pollination.~~
Like old 16mm film footage, a shaky, streaked motion picture replayed in
his head of a queen bee's mating flight. The bodies of the rejected
drones fell from the sky, bursting into flame as they hit the forest
canopy. The fire caught, and spread, sending great clouds of smoke up
to engulf the intertwined bodies of the queen and her new mate. Her
wings buzzed in triumph.
Flaming foliage dropped into the shimmering underbrush, giving the fire
yet more fuel to consume. The little creatures of the soil burrowed
deeper and deeper, away from the intense heat. Panicked flyren and
gnoorr tried to flee the greedy conflagration. Those who managed to do
so escaped from the jungle into the cold, dark star lands or the dryness
of the barren places.
There was the feeling of much time passing, and a new forest arose from
the ashes of the old. A very few of the flyren and gnoorr returned from
their exile, lured by the promise of ample food and shelter for their
Again and again, the cycle repeated itself -
The Sweezon came. The plants burned. The animals fled. And the Forest
Then the trees grew again. And the most cunning and skilled and
intelligent of the forest's creatures came back.
~~Even though adversity should destroy us, we are made strong. Stronger
The Doctor felt the truth in this thought. He could sense it in the
intelligence and will of the Ba-kai. He also knew that this time, when
the Sweezon came to mate, the Forest did not intend to die.
* * *
Turlough was howling, hands clutched to his head. "No!" he screamed.
"Not that! Not again! Please!"
He gasped, his body jerking against the warriors' firm grip as though he
had been shot. "Nooo..." The cry trailed off to a rough whimper.
"Stop!" he pleaded. "You don't need to do this! I'll tell you
A voice came from above him. "Where is this magic box the boy spoke
Instead, Turlough jumped again, and then again. "No, no, no!" He
wrapped his arms around himself, crumpling with shock and loss. But
after only a short time, his narrow face hardened, all angles and
hollows, and he sat up. "That was very foolish," he announced to the
"Tell us where to find the box!" the voice insisted.
"I might have, once, but now you've got nothing more to bargain with!"
Turlough glanced over his shoulder at something only he could see. "Oh
yes, it always comes down to this, doesn't it? Well, my desire for
self-preservation isn't what it once was." A haughty, mocking smirk
touched his lips. "You've lost your chance, so just get it over with."
Friar Mabmi looked on, frowning. This one was facing the vision of his
death with arrogance and strength, not the absolute terror that most
felt. Was he not human then?
"This isn't working." He signalled to his warriors, and they hauled the
young man to his feet. "We'll have to try something more..."
"Hullo there!" The Friar and his men looked up in stunned amazement to
see a fair-haired, blood-smeared, dishevelled man running toward them,
arm waving above his head as one of the giant gnoorr loped along at his
"I'm the Doctor!" the man panted, sliding to a halt as he neared them.
The befuddled guards continued to stare in horror at the gnoorr as it
settled at his feet, cleaning its claws. They were certain that it was
far too late to reach for their weapons.
"Ah, I see you've met Turlough. Good, good." The Doctor stepped
forward, wrapping a friendly, and protective, arm around his companion
as he peered at the tar-coloured men. "Now there's no time to lose," he
stated affably. "So which one of you is in charge?"
* * *
The two women had managed to whittle a tiny hole all the way through the
wax and were desperately slicing off bigger chunks with the pocket-knife.
Tegan paused, holding up a hand as she listened. "I hear something
Jane took one of the larger pieces of wax and stomped on it, flattening
it into a thin, wide disk. Quickly, she pressed the disk against the
Footsteps clattered by, not pausing as they passed. When the noise had
faded away, the women looked at each other with sheepish smiles and let
out a collective breath.
"We have to hurry," Jane whispered. She ripped aside the disk and
continued carving, handing the pieces to Tegan. After only a few more
minutes of feverish work, she folded up the wax-coated blade and tried
It was more than a tight fit, and Jane had to angle her hips back and
forth in order to get through the narrow space. She was thankful that
she had maintain her trim figure, although she was also certain that she
had left several layers of skin behind as she slid past.
Tegan followed and once her torso was clear, Jane grabbed her under the
arms and dragged her free. "Come on," she whispered. "Ben is back this
They had managed to evade the security patrols and work details, hiding
in empty cells, crawling once inside a thick trail of slug slime, and
even camouflaging themselves in a pile of discarded carapaces. They had
clambered into yet another empty cell, when Tegan suddenly gasped and
In front of them stood the TARDIS, almost filling the hollow space
completely with its bulk. As the skittering footfalls of worker ants
marched past, the women hid behind the boxy shape.
Silence descended once again, and the women slid away from the relative
safety of the timeship. Slipping quietly through the passageway, they
eventually reached a cell just down the passageway from the sub-queens'
"Now how do we get in?" Jane wondered aloud as she peered around the
opening to watch the parade of workers and soldiers passing in and out
of the chamber.
Tegan studied the flow of traffic. "Give me a few minutes, then go. If
you can get Ben free, meet me at the TARDIS."
"Can you get in?"
"Uh, no," Tegan admitted. "The Doctor hasn't given me a key yet." Then
with a note of desperate hope. "But maybe they won't think to look for
Jane gave her a sceptical look, and then shrugged. "Well, since I can't
think of anything better, I agree." She glanced back out into the
corridor. "Whenever you're ready."
With a quick, obviously terrified smile, Tegan slipped from the room and
scampered back in the direction from which they'd come.
A minute or so later, Jane heard a distant shout. "Just what do you
think you're doing?" Rapid footsteps rushed past from the queens'
chamber. "Let go of me! And don't you dare get any of that slime on
me!" Tegan's voice trailed away, still protesting. "You said we'd get
some food and water. I was just checking when you were..."
There was a moment of silence and Jane dashed toward the chamber.
Amazingly, only a few workers were in the huge space, skittering to and
fro over the egg casings.
Jane slid into the shadow of Ben's cocoon. Watching the doorway, she
pulled the pocket-knife 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 in relief. With renewed determination, she
continued her attack on the cocoon.
To be continued...
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