The Eggs of Destruction

by Primsong [Reviews - 37]

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  • All Ages
  • None
  • Action/Adventure, General

Author's Notes:
A look behind and a look ahead.

Chapter 14: Empty Nest Syndrome

--

With a rattling of small bits of stone, the rumbling finally subsided. Gravel and sand shifted and steam hissed in the shocked silence that followed.

“Good God. They must have been vaporized.” The Brigadier’s voice was subdued in dismay.

The Doctor turned to the lone remaining Silurian who still stood near the controls and bowed his head in a gesture of sympathy. “I am sorry.”

The bulbous eyes looked back at him and the sharp mouth wavered. “They carried out their duties. They died in honour.” Its rills flared slightly then folded tight back against its neck as it gave a small sorrowful sound that needed no translation.

A more distant rumbling was heard, successive deep sounds of the earth shifting that made the men look about uncertainly, as if afraid it would begin where they were as well. “What is that?” one of the men asked, voicing what they were all thinking.

“It sounds as if those tunnels you told us about are falling in,” the Brigadier guessed.

The Doctor nodded. “Precisely, and it’s just as well. We were fortunate in this case that their tunneling apparently hadn’t had time to be properly reinforced. That collapse has saved us a nasty fire, magnesium is not easily extinguished once it’s aflame.”

“They were designed to collapse in such an event,” the Silurian’s hissing voice put in. “The tunnels were to be hidden after our work was done.”

The Doctor turned to meet the creature’s eyes. “Very wise and completely understandable. Forgive me the intimation that there was any shoddy workmanship involved. Would that your engineers could put as much effort into works of peace.”

“You gave us warning. I have given much thought to this peace you speak of, Doctor, though my commander did not agree. I cannot see how it can be done, but I can see it is as you said, that the Silurians are as much to blame as the humans.”

“Wisdom begins with understanding,” the Doctor said, tipping his head towards it in a gesture of respect. He looked down at the broken controls. “I regret that it had to lead to this first.”

“I also… regret.”

“All right,” the Brigadier was saying behind them, suddenly all business as the smoke and acrid-tasting steam began to clear. “Let’s get this cleaned up. Doctor. Was there anything in that ejection that would be harmful to the populace once it was in the air?”

He answered in a distracted fashion, his attention more on the control panel in front of him. “No; most of the particulate matter should have vented into the bay. Though the silicon tetrachloride would produce hydrochloric acid when it contacts water, so I’m afraid you may have rather a lot of dead seaweed washing up.”

The Brigadier nodded then turned to his men. “Take that one into custody,” he said, indicating the Silurian.

“What?” the Doctor looked up in surprise. “What do you mean? One disarmed Silurian isn’t dangerous,” he protested.

“Doctor,” the Brigadier stated warningly, “That creature may have valuable information for us on what to expect. There may be future incursions planned we don’t even know about yet.”

“You can’t just arrest to interrogate…”

“And it was directly involved in that nonsense with the birds. Do I have to remind you that innocent civilians died because of it?” He turned back to the men where they hesitated. “Bind its hands. Gently, unless it offers resistance.”

“I will not resist. But you will learn nothing from me,” the Silurian said.

“Why does the Earth always produce such irrational races?” The Doctor sighed and rubbed at his forehead with frustration. “The two of you are well suited to one another in stubbornness. Is there no other way?”

Lethbridge-Stewart lifted his chin firmly. “I have to do what I believe to be best for the security of Britain.”

“I suppose you do.” The Doctor looked back towards the yet-steaming rocket tube behind them and his shoulders sagged slightly. Turning back to the Brigadier he spoke more quietly. “Very well,” he said, “Seeing as I apparently shan’t be able to stop you from taking him into your custody I’ll just have to hope you will at least insist he is well treated. As you said, I’m sure he still may be of use for information. We’ll just have to hope it does in fact work out for the best.”

The Brigadier squinted at him, a little suspicious at his sudden capitulation but grateful to not have to argue with him any further in front of the men. “Right. Of course I’ll personally see to it that he is treated with dignity.” He turned to where they were waiting, the reptilian scientist between them. “Go ahead then. Take him in.”

As promised, it hadn’t resist their binding, though whether it was out of honour, shock or simply being too demoralized by what was occurring it was hard to say. The men took it outside to where one of the emptied lorries was pulling up to serve as a temporary retaining cell and secure transport.

The Doctor insisted on their taking the time to make it as comfortable as possible. “He’s not an enemy combatant,” he reminded them sternly. “He’s probably more educated and civilized than you yourselves.” The Silurian said nothing, sitting sadly on the bench inside as the metal doors were finally banged closed and padlocked shut.

In the meantime back inside, the soldiers had set to work with their customary military efficiency. The Doctor, returning, quickly pointed out a few items and portable components to be kept for study, helping to disconnect and sort some of the more delicate pieces. Most of it was simply boxed up for transport, slated to be crushed into scrap to prevent it from landing in the wrong hands.

“I want this place back as it was before those creatures moved in,” the Brigadier directed. “We can’t leave anything alien to attract attention.”

“They aren’t aliens,” the Doctor reminded him a bit testily. “They’re just a much a part of Earth as you yourself.”

“All right. We can’t leave anything non-human then, if you prefer,” the Brigadier snapped back impatiently. “Look, I’ve got quite enough to do at the moment, I would rather you just left me to it.”

“But of course,” the Doctor said formally, his eyes sharp with anger. He turned and swept back out the arched entry. The Brigadier watched him go with some concern, then turned back to answer the questions of one of the men.

Coming out into the muted afternoon light the Doctor quickly crossed to the lorry where it stood, a guard on either side. “The Brigadier wants to see you,” he called to them in a businesslike manner. “Probably something to do with proper transport of a dangerous alien like this back across on the Ferry this evening.” He waved a hand. “Go on, I can watch it until you come back.”

“But…” the men hesitated. One of them held out his rifle for the Doctor to take.

The Doctor shook his head at them. “I don’t need that. The prisoner is hardly going to be able to escape a locked metal lorry, is he? Now hurry up! I have other things I need to do as well and the Brigadier is hardly in a mood to be kept waiting.”

“Right. Thank you, Doctor.”

He nodded and took up a good imitation of their own serious guarding stance outside the truck, watching as they hurried through the stone arch. As soon as they were out of sight, he casually walked around to the front of the lorry and climbed into the cab.

--

The soldiers stood at attention as their officer strode firmly past, trying to not to call any attention to themselves. Lethbridge-Stewart was furious. He had seen all the signs that the Doctor was up to something and he kicked himself for neglecting to warn his men against any shenanigans. He thought he might try some kind of secret negotiation with the Silurian, but he hadn’t thought he would have the gall to just completely abscond with it.

“Sergeant!” he yelled as he came up the steps. Benton’s head popped round the side of the doorway, a radio to his ear.

“Sir. It’s the Doctor.”

“Is it? Well tell him he needn’t… Give it to me,” he said, biting off his words and snatching it out of the other man’s hand. “Doctor!” he said sternly into the radio. “Where the blazes are you?”

Without listening to the reply he shot words at Benton over his shoulder. “I want you to commence a search for that lorry…”

“We don’t need to, sir,” Benton replied.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s right here, sir.”

The Brigadier turned to find the lorry was parked once more beside the jeeps, the Doctor just coming around from the front. He looked at the radio in his hand. “Who the devil is this then?”

“Lieutenant Smithers over at Blackgang, sir.”

He handed it back without comment and stalked towards his wayward Scientific advisor.

“Glad to see you at least had the decency to bring the lorry back,” he said as he came up to him. He didn’t even check the back compartment; he knew it would be empty.

“You’re one to speak of decency,” the Doctor said, though he hadn’t much heat in the words. “Come now, Brigadier. You know what those blaggards in Whitehall’s ministries would do if they caught wind of a Silurian at their mercy. Anything is better than leaving them to that torture they label science.”

“You give me little enough credit,” the Brigadier said, offended. “I wasn’t going to release anything about it to Whitehall.”

“These things have a way of getting about,” the Doctor replied, unconvinced. “Besides, you can always tell them how you’ve made a valiant effort to recapture it after it unaccountably escaped, can’t you?”

“I am, am I?”

“Of course. You have all that funding going into that ship, you know. It’s designed specifically to explore the ocean floor for evidence of Silurian civilization. You’ll justify the expenditure and your men can have a nice sea voyage to put the bloom in their cheeks.”

“That ship won’t be ready for several weeks, and you know it.”

The Doctor ruffled a hand over his hair disingenuously. “Come to think of it, that’s right. I suppose we’ll just have to regretfully allow this particular one an unforeseen and generous head start. Perhaps next time they’ll grant you your funding requests without so many delays.”

“You aren’t fooling anyone, trying to make me think this is to my advantage. And there’s more of these things out there,” he said, “Aren’t there?”

“Yes,” he admitted. “There’s bound to be other small colonies in hibernation.”

“So you still need to answer for why you deliberately released someone who might have been able to tell us where they were, how many.”

The Doctor looked down and plucked at one of his cuffs, carefully smoothing it. “And what would you have done then, killed them while they slept? Really, Brigadier. I expected better of you.”

Alistair frowned at the accusation and shifted his weight uncomfortably. “Of course not. But we should know more about them if they’re going to keep popping up like this. What if it shows its gratitude to you by going off to stir up another nest of those things?”

The Doctor looked back up with an unexpected half a smile. “I suppose that’s a possibility, a chance we’ll have to take. Perhaps. Or perhaps he’ll locate more of his people and bring with him his own hard-earned lesson of peace being the better course of action. We have to allow that chance. As I told you, he was a scientist, Brigadier, not an enemy.”

Lethbridge-Stewart looked out to where the sun was finally dipping beneath the clouds, shining along the waters and brightening the famous cliffs. Sated seagulls circled innocently in the light, bobbed harmlessly among the waves. The island was safe, Britain was safe - at least for the moment. He glanced back over at his friend. “I wish I could share your optimism,” he admitted after a moment. “And I suppose there’s some satisfaction that we didn’t start the mess; we were only fighting in defense.”

The Doctor nodded. “You’ll manage. Someday the two races may yet find a way forward.”

Uncomfortable with the concept that he somehow might be a part of such a heavy responsibility, the Brigadier turned his gaze back to the waters. No, he couldn’t find it in himself to share any real hope for a non-violent agreement, but it was satisfying to be able to point out that his own people were not always the aggressors. In spite of misgivings on the current situation, he could honestly say the human race was not without heart, they weren’t without some sense of justice and moral right and wrong.

And blast it all, part of him wanted the Doctor to know that, wanted to prove it to him, like a child wanting approval from a parent. He couldn’t decide if he should resent that or not. He squinted as the sun lowered; the light reflected into their eyes. All the future lay before them to work it out, even as somewhere beneath those waves their past slept.

“I just hope you’re right, Doctor. I hope you’re right.”

--


FIN