|03 Terror On Delta Vega
Author: Margaret Price PM
The Fourth Doctor arrives on the lush planet Delta Vega upon which is a newly established agricultural settlement, an already established research facility, and a secret worth killing for. This story takes place after the TV story "The Invasion of Time."Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Adventure - 4th Doctor - Chapters: 17 - Words: 33,282 - Reviews: 3 - Favs: 1 - Published: 06-14-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2437618
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
TERROR ON DELTA VEGA © 1990 Margaret Price
Author's Note: This is the third story in an arc with companion Jason Krystovan who was introduced in the story "The Alliance of Death." Story 2 is "Whom the Gods Destroy."
Knowledge of either story is not necessary, as Jason's background is explained when he makes his first appearance. Also, when I wrote this, I had set a goal for myself to do at least one story in which there were no deaths. Unfortunately, I failed miserably in this. In fact it was another 10 years before I finally accomplished this goal. And I'm not telling which story that ended up being.
TERROR: n : a state of intense fear.
TERRORISM: n: the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion.
A heavy mist hung in the air, the dew clinging to the grass and flowers as the sun rose, eventually breaking through the morning fog. Yet Henderson was oblivious to the beauty of the day as he crashed noisily through the forest. He stopped briefly to catch his breath, holding his aching sides and scarcely able to stand from exhaustion. His brown and beige clothing were torn and grimy, his white lab coat no longer white. Looking around in desperation for some kind of cover, he found a hole in a rock fall and wedged himself in, pulling down a large branch to conceal the opening.
Five minutes later, a hunter in camouflage fatigues came stealthfully along the route Henderson had just taken. The dark-haired Ellis was a powerfully built man whose keen, well-trained eyes followed the trail of his prey as if it were marked in flashing neon lights. He saw the rocks where the man had taken refuge and smiled inwardly, pretending not to notice. He would toy with his prey just a little while longer…then he would strike.
Henderson held his breath and waited.
After an hour he breathed a sigh of relief, believing he had finally managed to elude his relentless pursuer. He slowly came out of hiding and went quietly around the rock fall, walking straight into the patiently waiting hunter.
Henderson blanched visibly, staring wide-eyed at the laser pistol that was aimed straight at him. Shaking his head, he held up his hands in surrender and backed away. "No, please," he begged. "I can pay you, Ellis. I swear I can!"
The hunter remained unnervingly silent.
"For pity's sake, Ellis!" Henderson screamed as he saw the man's finger tighten on the trigger. He was enveloped in a red glow and crumpled to the ground in a heap.
Ellis holstered his weapon and removed a coil of thin cord from his belt, securely binding the stunned man. Then he gave a satisfied grunt, pulling the radio unit from his belt. "Hunt Leader to Hunt Team. Quarry obtained. Over."
There was a crackle of static, and a reply. "Acknowledged. Baker here, sir. I'm at the drop off point in sector six-three. I've found something here that may interest you. Over."
Ellis raised an eyebrow and unfolded his map. "I'm not far from you. I'm in sector six-six, by the rock fall. Are you anywhere near the transports?"
"We can bring them if you like?"
"Do that. Converge and assist, this location. I'll be waiting. Over and out." Putting away the map and radio, Ellis sat down on the rocks to wait.
Within fifteen minutes three others arrived, each driving a small all terrain vehicle. Henderson had regained consciousness by this time and had resumed pleading with Ellis, who was ignoring him completely.
Henderson squirmed in his bonds as he was loaded onto the back of one of the little transports, but the tight coils refused to give. He was then lashed down, looking very much like the hunting trophy he was. "Ellis," he whimpered pitifully, "please, don't kill me."
The Hunt Leader looked down at him a moment before jamming a gag into his mouth, tying it into place. "You talk too much," he observed blandly. His panic-stricken prisoner thrashed all the more, his muffled cries of terror causing the hunter to chuckle. Climbing onto the back of another transport, Ellis waved a hand and the strange caravan was on its way to the drop off point, which turned out to be, quite literally, a drop.
Baker took the Hunt Leader to the edge of the cliff and pointed down to a cave. "It's over there," he whispered. "I spotted it just after dawn going into that cave. It's a real beauty."
Ellis looked in the direction indicated, seeing movement near the cave entrance. Taking the binoculars offered by Baker, he scanned the area just as a large beast emerged into the sunlight. It was nearly nine feet in height when it rose up onto its hind legs; its enormous bulk covered with heavy brown fur, each huge paw having three inch long, razor sharp claws.
"It's a monster!" Ellis gasped approvingly. "I don't think I've ever seen a gaav that size before." He exchanged a knowing look with his colleague before turning back to the others, waving them forward.
The hunters took hold of their struggling prisoner and dragged him over to where the Hunt Leader and Baker were sitting. Henderson fought in vain as he was dragged to the edge of the cliff, being slightly surprised when he was abruptly dropped in a heap next to Ellis.
"We're not going to throw you off the cliff, Mr. Henderson," Ellis purred reassuringly. His men brought over a large bundle of heavy rope, which they proceeded to loop under the arms of the terrified man, a large knot being tied in the center of his chest. "We're going to lower you down very gently," the hunter intoned, handing his men the other end of the rope. They anchored it around a nearby tree and waited.
The baffled Henderson stared in absolute terror, flinching away when Ellis reached over to him. To his further surprise, the hunter removed the gag and then rose to his feet.
"Oh, I get it," the prisoner said with a nervous laugh. "Wh…what dddid they tell you? Sssscare Henderson…ssso he'll behave himself? Well, it wwworked, are you sssatisfied? I'm… nnnot just sacred, I'm terrified! Does ttthat make you happy?"
Ellis looked down at him with an icy smile fixed on his stone-like face, his cold, dark eyes unwavering in their gaze. He and the others remained silent, unnerving their helpless prisoner all the more.
"Are…are you…letting me go?" the captive asked meekly.
"In a manner of speaking," the Hunt Leader replied coolly, glancing over the edge. "If you can escape after we've lowered you down, then you're free."
Overwhelmed, Henderson started to tremble uncontrollably. "Nn…no tricks? Yo…you won't…come after me?"
"No tricks." Turning to the others still poised with the rope, Ellis said, "If our friend Mr. Henderson escapes from down there, he's free. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," the hunters replied in unison.
The Hunt Leader then slid the securely bound man over the edge of the cliff and the rope groaned as it took his full weight. Not wanting to see how far he had to descend, Henderson continued to look up, watching as Ellis signaled to the others. He closed his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief. He could escape, eventually. Scrape the ropes against a sharp rock…
There was a roar in the distance and Henderson's head snapped around, looking in its direction and seeing the enormous gaav standing outside its den. Then he made a fatal mistake. He panicked. Screaming up at Ellis in betrayal, he thrashed in his bonds as he was lowered closer and closer to the ground. "Ellis, damn you! You lied to me!" he yelled at the top of his voice.
"I said, if you escaped from down there, you were free," the hunter called back tauntingly. "You'd deserve to be. Now all you have to do is escape."
Henderson howled again in terror and rage. "You bastard, Ellis! It'll be you next time!"
"I doubt it," Ellis called back. "I'm not greedy like some people." Signaling to the others to stop, he cut the rope, allowing his captive to drop the short distance to the ground. His voice hardened as he added, "And I know when to keep my mouth shut. Some things are best left undiscovered."
All this commotion quite naturally aroused the curiosity of the gaav. It roared angrily and came over to investigate, sniffing the air suspiciously and growling fiercely as it approached the cowering man who lay helpless on the ground.
Henderson tried desperately to squirm away, struggling wildly against the tight coils that bound him, his eyes growing wider as the beast grew nearer. In a last desperate, futile attempt, he pleaded with the hunters to save him as the creature closed in, finally screaming in terror as it raised one of its huge paws.
The hunters calmly watched from above as the gaav descended. Like Ellis, the beast enjoyed toying with its prey, the attack lasting several minutes. The unfortunate man's screams were abruptly silenced as the creature tired of its sport and killed him. Finally it rose up on its hind legs, shaking the lifeless form in triumph before dragging it back to its lair.
As soon as the creature was in the open, Ellis snapped a rifle to his shoulder and killed it with a single shot through the heart. "Poor Mr. Henderson," he sighed in feigned regret, "I warned him the forests of Delta Vega could be very dangerous. Now, I fear we're too late."
"Some people never listen," Baker replied mildly, adding, "The gaav will make a very nice trophy, though."
"That it will," Ellis laughed evilly as he led the way to the base of the cliff, reflecting on how enjoyable the hunt had been. Humans were always such a challenge. So unpredictable. Definitely his favorite prey.
Unbeknownst to the hunters, there had been a silent witness to Henderson's "accidental" death. Through the leaves of a nearby nut tree, two dark green eyes had watched the entire incident in revulsion and horror. As soon as the four men were gone, the watcher withdrew.