The Eggs of Destruction

by Primsong [Reviews - 37]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, General

Author's Notes:
Nothing like starting off the day with some time by the sea.

Chapter 11: Deviled Eggs
--

There was light coming through the window.

The Brigadier squinted over at it and vaguely tried to figure out how late in the morning it would have to be at this time of year to be light. The cottage’s sagging bunk-bed mattress squeaked in protest as he tried to lever himself up and out, then stretched in an equally difficult effort to re-form his back into a back shape instead of a lumpy mattress shape.

A glance at the upper bunk confirmed what he’d figured when the Doctor had so graciously accepted Sylvia’s invitation that they sleep there the previous night instead of finding a decent hostelry in Totland; it was obvious he himself had never intended to try laying on the thing. He also hoped his companion hadn’t taken apart anything vital in the kitchen during the night; a cup of hot tea was an absolute necessity.

Making himself as presentable as he could, he opened the door to discover his own clothing folded just outside it, cold from the clothesline but dry enough to wear. While dressing, he paused to listen. It was quiet, he thought. Going out, he found the little cottage deserted; a hand to the teapot found it barely warm. There was no sign of either the Doctor or the girl.

Swigging a mug of lukewarm, bitterly over-steeped tea, he shrugged into his coat and seeing his sedan was still safely where he’d left it, headed for the collection of small buildings nearby. A cold wind was scudding clouds high overhead though it was relatively calm below and the air was scented of heather and salt. The sky was clearer than it had been since their arrival on the Island and, he noted, also clear of dive-bombing birds - at least for the moment.

Keeping half an eye on the sky, he strode towards the entrance to the beach-path, remembering the Doctor’s earlier fascination with the various sands and rocks. Unless he was skulking about the buildings for some reason he couldn’t fathom, it seemed the logical place he would have gone.

As he came around the bend and paused to appreciate the view of the mildly choppy ocean below he did a double-take in surprise. There was the shape of a person bobbing in the grey-blue waters below. Alarm briefly washed over him thinking it yet another unfortunate victim sent over the cliffs by the birds before he realized the figure was quite alive and swimming with strong, even strokes. Walking more quickly down the path he recognized their young hostess, Sylvia, swimming in the ocean.

“What is that woman thinking?” he muttered to himself. “It must be positively freezing. ” He pulled his own coat more snugly around himself in sympathy and slowed his pace as it was obvious she was in no distress.

A dark shape arose from the waters behind her.

“Miss Fleming! Watch out!” There was no way she would be able to hear him. He started down the pathway again, his chest tightening this time with legitimate dread that he was about to witness a drowning or worse, realizing even as he did so that it was in vain; he was too far away to do anything even if he’d been armed. Waving his arms as he went, he tried to give some sort of visual alarm but she wasn’t looking towards him, and as yet didn’t seem to be aware of the bulge of reptilian head that was rapidly growing closer to her, cleaving easily through the small waves.

There was movement off to the side and the Doctor, cloak flying, abruptly catapulted into view. He moved quickly to the water’s edge, gesturing. The Brigadier had no idea what was being said or signaled, but whatever it was, it was effective. The creature in the water suddenly stopped then, after a moment, sank back beneath the waves. The young woman was leaving the water as rapidly as she could, though he was pleased to see wasn’t panicked about it. Already she was making her way close to the shore, wading in from the waves as she picked a path over the smooth rocks peppered among the coloured sands.

The Brigadier stopped to catch his breath at the top of the series of wooden stairs, vastly relieved. It was plain she wasn’t in any danger, not with the Doctor right there and in some sort of shared understanding with that reptile. He watched as the Doctor spoke to the girl briefly and turned her towards the steps, his own attention turning back to the ocean where only the slightest swirl in the nearby water betrayed the presence of their Silurian visitor.

Still looking slightly shaken but pink-cheeked with both cold and exercise, Sylvia mounted the wooden steps at an even pace, pulling a long tee-shirt over the top and shorts she was wearing as she came. She didn’t seem surprised to find the Brigadier meeting her partway and even looked grateful for his company.

“He said it was coming to meet him and I just happened to be there then,” she said as if continuing a conversation that had been left off. “And he apologized, said something about them maybe having an underwater tunnel he hadn’t been aware of.”

“Underwater tunnel?” The Brigadier frowned slightly at this. “And a pre-arranged meeting. About what, I wonder?” He also wondered more quietly to himself what else the Doctor had been up to during the night if he was meeting Silurians at the break of dawn. It might have been better to have him stay in the cottage and take apart the kitchen after all.

Sylvia glanced back down to where they could still see the reptilian creature on the water’s edge, the Doctor apparently conversing with it. “Is he…do you think he can be trusted?” she asked.

“The Silurian?”

“The Doctor.”

“What? The Doctor? Absolutely,” the Brigadier quickly assured her. “I admit he may be a bit obscure and difficult at times, but there aren’t many men I’d rather have beside me in tight spot.”

“And is this a tight spot?”

He glanced down at her as they walked back up the path. “Is there something in particular that’s concerning you?”

“I mean, well, are they going to hurt anyone?” She slicked saltwater out of her short hair and pushed a strand back from her face. “Shouldn’t we be letting the authorities know?”

“The ones that really need to know have already been notified.” He kicked a bit of wayward gravel into the heather and when after a few more paces she hadn’t pursued it any further, looked over at her again. “Aren’t you cold?”

“Yes, but I’m used to it,” she smiled. “I swim every morning if I can, I always have. Starts the day off like nothing else. Makes me feel alive!”

He had to return her smile. “I see. Well, if it can produce such energetic enthusiasm in the early hours perhaps I should institute morning sea-swimming for my men.”

“Ooh, just don’t blame me if they don’t like it,” she declared with mock concern and laughed.

As they neared the top, the Brigadier glanced back down towards the beach where he could just make out the distant pair still standing by the surf’s edge. “I expect he may be a while,” he noted.

“And he’s all right, alone with that? You aren’t worried about him?”

“If anyone can carry on negotiations with something non-human, it would be him.” A gull cried out above them, answered by others of its kind. He glanced up at the wheeling sea birds above the cliffs. “I expect there’s no reason for us to wait out here.”

She followed his gaze and nodded in agreement. “How about a hot breakfast while we wait, then? I’ve porridge, anyway, and I think there’s still some raisins to go with it.”

“That would be more than adequate,” he replied gratefully. “Lead the way, Miss Fleming.”


--

From his watchful position further down the beach, the Doctor had seen it arise behind Sylvia with considerable alarm himself, not because he feared for her safety at the hands of the reptilian creature behind her, but rather because he feared she would turn hysterical and either strike out at it or lose her coordination and be swept away and drowned.

When there was need, he could cover ground at a very fast clip indeed, but even so it seemed forever before he was in any kind of hailing distance. He was vastly relieved to see the girl kept her head, and was reminded of his own assistant in the way she came to the shore with that look of youthful determination that she would not allow herself to appear afraid although she was.

Pleased to catch a glimpse of the unmistakable figure of the Brigadier up above, he offered a few brief comforting, apologetic words then released Sylvia in that direction. Knowing she would be in safe hands he then gave her no more thought, turning his attention instead to the approaching visitor amid the waves.

The Silurian arose from the sea with grace, clear waters running from its auditory rills, which were folded neatly back against the cool breeze. It was tall even for its kind and he had to tilt his head back to meet its eyes as it waded closer.

A vibrating, uncomfortable trilling sound greeted him. “We should not have met in the open daylight; we have been seen. It is very unusual.”

He offered a greeting gesture. “Well, sounds like we’re both a bit out on a limb then aren’t we? When I found you last night, you said you’d been sent out to capture another seagull. Did you?”

‘The avians are very strong,” it hedged.

“Not being too cooperative then? Can’t say that I blame them. You must admit this business of tampering with the birds hasn’t been too effective for the amount of time you’ve put into it.”

“They are only a beginning. An experiment.” It bobbed its head emphatically and the Doctor squinted as he was consequently sprinkled with salt water.

“Yes. But it may be an experiment based on a false hypothesis. What result would it give then?”

“What do you mean?”

He pointed out to where the waves were beating against the distant Needles. “If those waves were sentient and discovered they would be dashed apart by that lighthouse, do you think they should still go forward?”

The Silurian’s eyes turned briefly in that direction. “Once more you speak of defeat.”

“I have to; I want to save lives, yours as well as the humans. If the invasion your leaders have been planning has already been defeated, why dash yourself on the rocks?”

“You believe they are defeated.”

“I told you I don’t just believe it, I know it. I witnessed it myself. Indeed, I believe in some ways they were defeated from the moment they chose to place their trust in the Master and his schemes.”

The reptilian scientist quivered a moment, then grew thoughtful. “We know of this man, this Master. He was brought as an advisor with one of our leaders when he came here.”

“He never mentioned me?”

“No.”

The Doctor brushed his windblown hair away from his face and considered this. “Unusual. It must have never occurred to him that we would meet.”

“You know him.” It was not a question.

“Oh, a professional association, you could say,” the Doctor replied vaguely waggling his fingers.

“Is he not also a scientist?”

“Hm.”

“He supported us in our cause, in the return of the Silurians.”

“The cause of genocide against the human race, you mean? He would. Suffice it to say we don’t agree on that being the wisest course in this matter. If you really want to live peaceably and demonstrate you are an intelligent and truly evolved race that was superior to the humans, you wouldn’t be looking to violence for your answer.”

The Silurian made an impatient gesture.” These apes, they are inferior to the Silurians.”

“Technologically, perhaps,” he conceded. “For now.” He stepped back to prevent a wave from sloshing up over his shoes.

The Silurian had obviously been looking for something more definitive in the way of a reaction. “They show no understanding of higher intelligences than themselves,” it continued, though whether it was trying to convince him or itself was hard to say. “Those we have met treat us as animals or seek to kill us as monsters.”

“And wiping them out by violence and plague is the answer to that?” The Doctor shook his head. “Do you realize you’re treating them as if they were a disease to be eradicated all the while complaining that they treat you the same way? If you would only talk to one another as equally sentient beings there wouldn’t be any need for all that. Both races have strengths that could be used to help one another in partnership if you would only be willing.”

“You speak with wisdom.”

“If you truly believe that, then will you speak with your commander, stop the needless wasting of lives on both sides by reining in your forces here?”

“Forces?” The Silurian hesitated, looking out at the sea. “The commander told you there were many of us, that we would win this battle by our force of numbers. He did not speak truthfully, but out of fear.”

The Doctor nodded. “There’s only the three of you, isn’t there? I thought as much. Why so few?”

“We were sent to this outpost only to observe, at first. Then the battery, as you name it, was abandoned. The end of that same year the man you call the Master came, advising we use it for our weapons.”

“I can see why. Perfectly logical. It has everything you need already in place, right down to the refined silica, high pressure, high temperature processing…”

The reptilian head bobbed in affirmation, apparently impressed. “You are familiar with our technology.”

The Doctor smiled modestly. “I merely know what to look for. Go on. What happened to the others?”

It hesitated again, extending and folding its rills in indecision. “They were called to the North to join in the initial attack. We are all that was left behind,” it confessed.

“Stocking the weaponry as a backup. And spreading the infected birds as a side project.”

“Yes, the birds.”

“And that hasn’t worked out for you quite as expected, has it? Magnesium is the key, of course,” the Doctor noted. “But I assume you’ve already discovered this.”

“The Master spoke of it, but I formulated the rest. The feed lowers their natural magnesium.” The scientist sounded proud of this discovery.

“You do realize that could stop their hearts?”

“Yes, if lowered too quickly. My commander has not been understanding on that limitation but the process it has been successful. The shells are permeable and the avians are more opened to its influence.”

“And more aggressive and unstable,” he pointed out.

Rebuffed, it shook its head slightly, irritated. “Why did you ask to speak with me?”

“I had hoped to reason with you. You do realize I find it my moral duty to stop you from spreading this any further, as well as to see an end to your weapons manufacture. You could help me in this, work with me and save us both a lot of trouble.”

It pulled back stiffly. “My duty must be to my commander, whether he listens to your advising or not. My services must be for my people.”

“Then I greatly regret that we are opposed. I would rather we could learn from one another without these petty power plays interfering.”

“Agreed,” it looked out towards where the waves dashed into foam against the rocky outcroppings. “Farewell for now, Doctor. You give me hope that this human race could be lived and shared with after all, if it produces such men as you.” It turned and without further words rapidly made its way back into the deeper water, sinking from sight.

“I can’t decide if that’s an honour or not,” the Doctor muttered to himself then sighed and turned away.

--

A/N: The character of Sylvia is based on an actual friend who lives on the Isle of Wight, and yes, she really does go swimming in the ocean every morning — crazy lady…