Echoes

Jenny's chained to the wall, one arm up and hanging and the other pressed tight against her back. She could escape, give a dislocated shoulder or two, but she doesn't seem to be in any *immediate* danger and, anyway, the weird lizard being might decide to let her go if it ever gets finished monologuing at her.

"I will build a throne from the boness of this galaxy," it tells her in a raspy, lisping voice, and Jenny wonders if it actually has a speech impediment or if her translation matrix is just adding that for effect. Or possibly the matrix is defective; she meets a *lot* of people who demand her death in raspy, lisping voices.

Might be worth it to check the warranty, if the factory hadn't been destroyed by a malfunctioning gravity boot and an asteroid. Sure, Jenny had managed to get out most of the workers in time, but in retrospect it should have tipped her off about the quality of their manufacturing process.

"I have calibrated the sspheress perfectly. You cannot sstop me," says the lizard man. "All the Time Lordss thiss universse hass sseen cannot sstop me."

"Fair enough," says Jenny. "Pretty sure I'm not a Time Lord, though."

The lizard man blinks at her with five eyes and fifteen eyelids. "But you musst be. I can ssmell it on you, the sstench of imposssibility." It slithers closer to her and snorts against her skin. "It iss all over you."

"I'll have to change my deodorant," Jenny says. Then she steadies herself against the chain and wraps her legs around her captor. She jams a knee hard into its breathing orifice and, as it begins to slump against her, catches its keys with her heel and kicks them up to her hand.

"Sorry," she says to the unconscious figure, "but I was getting a bit uncomfortable, and you *do* go on."

On her way out, Jenny frees the last surviving hostage before the lizard man's machines can digest his soul. He's oddly reluctant to go with her, but once she points out that she's got a spaceship and every intention of blowing the place up behind her, he grabs her hand. They run together down the corridor, weaving back and forth between automated laser fire - breaking the boy's restraints seems to have set the place on alert.

It'd be foolish to take the lifts, so Jenny finds a ventilation system that runs near her ship and jumps up, springing from one side to the other until she reaches the hangar. She runs a pulley to help her rescuee up while her engines blink into life, then settles him on her ship while the craft next to hers slowly revs up into dangerous overload.

"Watch this," she says to the boy, and slams down on the *go*. The ship shoots from the hangar, inertia edging out of human-comfort levels, and behind them the space station explodes into silent blue-white flame. Charred bulkheads and twisted metal spit after them, but Jenny's already spinning into safety, opening a path into hyperspace.

"How's that?" she says, as they slip into the deeper dimensions. "Pretty cool, right?"

"I guess so," says the boy, staring wide-eyed out the front window. "Um. Thanks for saving me."

"It's what I do." Jenny kicks her feet onto a button-free section of console. "Jenny, by the way."

The boy turns to her. "Dave. Hi. But." He gestures behind them. "One minute I'm getting on train at Oxford, and the next... What did that thing *want* with me?"

"The usual. Destroy the galaxy type of thing." Jenny shrugs. "Where do you want to be dropped off?"

"Oh. I'm from Manchester."

"Huh. Never heard of that planet," says Jenny. "Do you know the coordinates?"

The boy rests a palm against the window. "Right, sorry." He laughs. "I'm not used to this space travel thing. Manchester's a city. On the planet Earth."

Jenny's not sure where Earth is, either, but she invites him to stick with her until she finds out. She could use some company to keep things from getting boring, as long as he doesn't mind that her ship's more cramped than it appears from the outside.