Lasky's Nebula, 3847
"I don't like it," said Ashley. "I'm just putting that in now, before we go through with this. I really, really hate this plan."
"Ash," said Jordan, securing ropes around the unconscious Doctor, "he's a criminal."
"I know, I know," said Ashley. "But... we're IPSA! We're not supposed to hand anyone over to Frankenstein-looking monster-people. Not even criminals."
"It's for Bunfy Sompters," Jordan said, tying off the last rope and putting the Doctor back down onto the ground.
"Who vouched for him," Ashley pointed out. "You saw that transmission. Bunfy Sompters really does seem to be his friend."
"He tried to kill Commander Fredslyr," Marya replied. "Commander Fredslyr might have to be shipped back to Korjensky, if he doesn't recover soon, leaving us one commander down. The Doctor has crippled IPSA, and given Adam the means to destroy us completely. The evidence does not lie."
"The Daleks didn't shoot at him until way late," Jordan reminded Ashley. "And they missed."
"Plus, he didn't want any scans done to discover whether or not he was a Dalek Replicant," Trista added.
"He's got an alien physiology," Ashley argued. "Physiology our scans and exams wouldn't be able to deal with. We'd have thought he was a replicant no matter what."
"That's true," said Vivian, brushing her purple hair behind her ears. "I did a replicant scan on him, after I knocked him out, just to be sure. It came up inconclusive."
"That doesn't change the fact that we know nothing about this 'Doctor', Ashley," Trista interjected. "You saw what he let happen to Bunfy Sompters."
"He... seemed really upset about that," Laura put in.
"The thing is," said Vivian, "I'd just intercepted—"
"Bunfy Sompters vouched for him," Ashley cut in. "That should be enough for us."
"In a garbled transmission," Marya pointed out, "from a planet that, according to the Doctor's own story, shouldn't be able to send transmissions. There's clearly a large number of inconsistencies and mysteries relating to this 'Doctor', but the one thing that we can all agree on is that Bunfy Sompters has to be saved."
"And we've also—" Vivian tried, but once again, she was cut off.
"I agree with Ashley," Wendy put in. "This just feels wrong. I mean, if he really is Bunfy Sompters' friend, she's going to be really mad at us if we do this."
"And the Slayer Constitution says we should treat doctors with respect," said Laura.
"Legally, his life is forfeit, and it is up to the highest ranking officer onboard this ship to decide his fate," Marya said. "I have decided. In terms of Bunfy Sompters, there can be no debate or discussion! We have to make sure she is retrieved and that no further harm comes to her."
"I'm just saying—" Ashley began.
"Look at what has happened to Bunfy Sompters so far!" Marya insisted. "This incredible woman who's done more good for the universe than any of us can even hope to do! She is being tortured, disrespected, treated as if she were simply some... bargaining chip! For an alien! I will not see that happen!" She took a deep breath. "And if I have to go in there, personally, to rescue her from her torment, I will."
The others around her seemed, mostly, chastised by this particular comment. But not Ashley.
"I'm not saying that she doesn't deserve to be saved or treated with honor and respect," Ashley said. "I'm just saying that tying up someone who's clearly her friend and throwing him to an army full of monsters isn't the best idea."
"We are saving Bunfy Sompters, no matter what the cost," said Marya. "I'd give my own life for her. You'd give your own life for her. Every member of Korjensky and IPSA combined would give their lives for her."
"We're not giving our
lives, though," Ashley pointed out. "We're giving his
"And who is he?" asked Marya. "What has he done to warrant special treatment? We know nothing of him or his allegiances, nothing that could counteract the incriminating evidence we've just discovered. But we all know Bunfy Sompters. Compared to a legend like her, even the most amazing galactic heroes of our time are just... nothing."
"Whatever he's done," said Ashley, "is second to what he has. Time travel technology. If we give the Doctor to Adam, we're presenting the possibility of trans-temporal conquest to something that looks like it came straight out of a horror film."
"Actually, the thing is—" Vivian started.
"And is that any better than leaving it in his
hands?" Trista cut in, pointing at the Doctor. "The guy who brought Bunfy Sompters into the future and risked some massive universe-destroying paradox? The one who let Bunfy Sompters get tortured? Who left Earth when they needed help, so he could come out here to Lasky's Nebula — no one knows how! At which point he spent — who knows how long? — onboard a Dalek space ship, and somehow wound up — not interrogated, not tortured, not exterminated, not anything! Just completely fine! I mean, who walks off a Dalek space ship completely fine?"
"I've gotten a—" Vivian tried, but was, once again, cut off.
"He sets off our sineyic detection readers, doesn't he?" said another Slayer — Gyndra. "That's got to mean something. Maybe he isn't a Dalek agent at all. Maybe he really does
have a connection to the Slayers."
"He isn't human," said Trista. "And he's a guy. The Slayers are always human, and they're always women."
"So far!" Gyndra snapped. "Maybe with the number of dead on Earth, and the mortality count out here, there aren't enough human women anymore, and the group-consciousness that is Sineya had to compensate some other way."
"I agree with Trista," said Jordan. "The Doctor's led Bunfy Sompters into the future, where her death could mean not just the complete destruction of IPSA but also the collapse of the universe. He basically confessed to us that her being tortured was part of his plan. He's an enemy, and we should treat him as such."
"Yeah? Well, you can count me out of Bunfy's rescue party," said Ashley. "There is no way that I'm meeting the legendary Bunfy Sompters and saying, 'Hey, guess what? I'm a huge fan, and I just condemned your friend to death.'"
"It's not her friend!" Vivian shouted at them.
All eyes landed on Vivian, and a hush went through the ship.
"I've been doing research, and... the Doctor is
a legendary time-space traveler," Vivian said. "A completely trustworthy individual, and a defender of humanity throughout the ages."
Marya gave Vivian a stern look. "I've never heard of him."
"But regardless of all that," Vivian continued, "this isn't
They all looked down at the restrained so-called Doctor on the floor, then back at Vivian.
"Right before he came in here, I got a message from Earth," Vivian explained to them. "It was very garbled and patchy, but, from what I understood, there was a huge battle, and they're still sifting through the debris and bodies. But they did find the body of one man. A hero who gave his life to try to stop Adam. A man with two hearts, 26 ribs, and a 'bow tie', who matches his exact physical description." She pointed at the unconscious bow tie wearing man. "A man they called 'the Doctor'."
"The Doctor's... dead?" asked Laura.
"The Doctor never left Earth," Vivian confirmed. "The Doctor may be Bunfy Sompter's friend, and he may be a completely trustworthy and noble person, but... whoever we've got here, it's not
Everyone was silent for a moment, letting this sink in.
"He... he didn't sound like a replicant," Wendy put in. "Ashley's right. The one thing replicants don't do is lecture about moral integrity."
"Well, yeah, but he wasn't just lecturing about moral integrity," said Jordan. "He was... purposely trying to freak us out. One word from him, and all military order and procedure went out the window, remember? He made us feel guilty enough to abandon Lasky's Nebula and want to fly off to help Earth."
"Thus handing victory over to the Daleks," Laura whispered.
"Wait, but… if he's not a Dalek Replicant," said Gyndra, "and he's not the Doctor... then who is he?"
Officer Marya gave a long sigh. "I've heard about this sort of thing," she confessed. "In the ancient annals of the Slayer, there was mention of some great evil that could take on the form of dead people. Its goal was to obliterate the Slayer line, completely."
"So he's worse than a Dalek Replicant?" Wendy said. "Geeze."
"I should have seen it sooner," Marya said. "This is precisely how this ancient evil was said to infiltrate the Slayer ranks. By walking amongst us, undetected, then stirring us into an emotional frenzy."
Ashley bent down by the Doctor, and felt for a pulse at his bound wrists. "Are you sure this really isn't the Doctor?" she asked. "This guy does have two hearts. I can feel the double pulse."
"Every time the Doctor shows up," said Vivian, "he always has a blue box nearby. It's got a distinctive energy signature, one that we can trace. I've done a search for that energy signature. It's not here. The evidence is conclusive. The Doctor never made it to Lasky's Nebula."
"What about Bunfy Sompters?" Trista asked. "Is Adam telling the truth when he says he has her?"
"I think he is," Vivian admitted. "We got her thumbprint and a visual identification. Every reading we take from her matches what we already know about Bunfy Sompters."
"She seemed... sure that this was the real Doctor," Laura said.
"It's obvious what must have happened," said Marya. "The actual Doctor saw the situation in this century, decided to get help, and took the legendary Bunfy Sompters here to save the Earth. They got separated. The Doctor was killed, Bunfy was captured, and the ancient mystical evil from the Slayer annals took advantage. Appeared in Lasky's Nebula in the form of this 'Doctor', to try to destroy IPSA completely."
The Slayers nearby all looked at one another, worry on all their faces.
"Right," said Marya. "This makes our job easy. If this isn't the Doctor, and he has no time travel technology, then there can be no objections to handing the imposter over to Adam."
"I object," said Ashley, standing up straight and crossing her arms. "We're still handing over a living creature to a freaky Frankenstein-looking monster thing. And I don't think it's morally right to hand anyone
over to a freaky Frankenstein-looking monster thing. Period."
Marya glared at her. "That's an order, Cralmodath."
"Article 17 of the Slayer Constitution," said Ashley. "'If any Slayer is faced with an order she feels is morally wrong, she cannot stop the action, but she has the right to refuse to carry it out herself.' I'm taking that right, and I'm refusing." She narrowed her eyes at Marya. "And if Freddy was in charge, he'd agree with me."
Marya gave Ashley a stern look, but not even she could argue with the Slayer Constitution. She looked across at the other Slayers. "Any other volunteers?"