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.Betrayals, prejudice, slavery, murder – and let’s not forget the rampant nepotism.You’re not going to just walk away from that.’Tor Grymna regarded Fitz coolly for several seconds.‘And what, then, do you suggest we do?’Fitz opened his mouth to reply, but found there were no more words.The eyes of all three Eskoni leaders were on him, and he knew that Florence would be looking up to him as well.‘It seems’, said Anavolus after an interminable pause, ‘that no one has the answer.Who can save us now?’‘Good evening!’ announced the Doctor, barging through the doors.Brevus limped along behind him, utterly breathless.‘Fitz!’ the Doctor cried, grabbing his friend by the hand and shaking it vigorously.‘How marvellous to see you again!’‘Doctor!’ There was no disguising the elation in Fitz’s voice, or the ear-to‐ear grin on his face.This was replaced by a look of sudden concern as he took in the Time Lord’s dishevelled state.‘What in the name of muck happened to you?’‘Never mind about that now,’ he said with the infuriating insouciance that Fitz adored.‘What’s been going on here? I’m only away for a day and someone tries to commit genocide.I suppose that was you, was it?’ This last was aimed squarely at Tor Grymna.‘I thought conditions for the slimers were bad before, but what I saw on the way in here tonight is unforgivable.’Strangely, Tor Grymna remained silent.‘What a pathetic thing to do,’ said the Doctor scornfully.‘As if wiping the slimers out was going to help anyone.The mutations would continue.You’d have to murder each of them, one by one as they happened, in cold blood, just to maintain the status quo.Nothing would change.No one would know the reason for it, or how to stop it.But you’d clear that unsightly mess from Baktan’s doorstep, wouldn’t you? Sweep it all under the carpet.You’re a fool.’The chamber was thick with silence.All that could be heard was the soft brush of the Doctor’s shoes on the stone floor as he stalked slowly around its circumference.Suddenly everyone in the room was waiting on the Doctor’s every word.If you’re worried about Revan, by the way,’ continued the Doctor, ‘then don’t.He’s dead.He and a group of his fellows mounted a suicidal attack on the ice mine.I’m afraid they succeeded in destroying the pipelines that provide Baktan with its water.You’ve got what’s left in your tanks and that’s it.No more tea.’The Doctor stepped into the centre of the chamber, noble and dignified, despite his torn and grubby jacket and trousers, his wild tangle of hair and bloodstained face.‘But if you think that’s your biggest problem, you’re wrong.’* * *Compassion ploughed through the squirming mass, oblivious to the individual horror of what surrounded her, but blinded by the dark and the sheer number of the things as they emerged from their eggs.They burst through the brittle shells and lunged sightlessly at her and each other, snapping and sucking in a way that deterred further examination.They couldn’t hurt her, but some vestigial sense of revulsion left from her time as a human being forced her to hurry.She climbed over them and through them, all the time heading up, towards the slight increase in warmth that she could now detect through the rigid cold of the rock.She was near the surface.She had to be.Just a little further.* * *‘So let me get this straight,’ said Fitz.‘There’s a giant man-eating worm living in the caves beneath that ice mine?’‘Worm is something of a misnomer, actually,’ replied the Doctor.His account of the expedition had met with a stunned silence; he didn’t know what had shocked the Forum most – the existence of the Spulver worm, Mekulo’s betrayal or Revan’s suicide attack on the mine.Fitz, of course, went for the obvious.‘It is more properly a member of the phylum Mollusca,’ the Doctor went on, ‘which, on your planet, includes slugs, snails, clams and squids.The Spulver, um, thing, is actually a fascinating amalgam of univalve gastropod and cephalopod…’Anavolus coughed by way of a surprisingly polite interruption.‘But whatever it is, it is responsible for the slimers?’‘I still do not understand the connection,’ grumbled Tor Grymna, who had been uncharacteristically quiet during the Doctor’s little speech.‘The Spulver worm is terribly injured,’ explained the Doctor eagerly ‘It’s carrying an enormous wound, which has formed an abscess.The pus from that abscess – the spent blood serum, dead leukocytes and bacteria – is leaking out and contaminating the ice fields that your mine has been converting into water [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]