Old Friends
a novella collection
Cover Blurb
Old Friends

Late 2562. Bernice Summerfield is 22 and en route to the ruin of Earth. She’s young, she’s single, she’s just got an MA in archaeology. There’s a life of adventure in front of her.

And then she meets the half-human, half-lemur Ivo, whose life she’ll completely knock sideways.

Late 2607. Professor Bernice Summerfield is... well, she looks nearly 40, but it’s difficult to tell what with all the time travel. She’s on her way to a funeral, and to meet up with people she’s not seen since her 20s.

Ex-husband / current-beau Jason is keen to go with her. Benny never talks about that period of her life -- what she did to keep out of the war, where she travelled, how she survived or who it was broke her heart. She’s run through all time and space to avoid this reunion. But the best-selling author of Down Among The Dead Men must finally uncover her own past.

  • This is a collection of 3 novellas in Big Finish’s novel range The Adventures of Bernice Summerfield.
  • Released: December 2004

  • ISBN: 1 84435 108 4
Cheating the Reaper by Jonathan Clements

Benny receives an invitation to the funeral of the demi-lemur Ivo FitzIndri, a passing acquaintance who saved her life when she was young. Apparently, he slipped and fell from a cliff on the planet Balgoris, and now she'll never be able to catch up on old times with him. The lost opportunity gets her thinking about the other old friends she lost contact with after skipping decades ahead in the course of her time travels, and, realising that this is bothering her, Jason suggests taking a few days off to attend the funeral before their mission to Ancient Greece. As it happens, Spacefleet requested that Benny visit Balgoris some time ago, but she was unable to do so as she was in the hands of the CroSSScape at the time. Jason now contacts Spacefleet and arranges for himself and Benny to be transported to Balgoris on the Clothes Horse, a warpship troop carrier that crosses the galaxy so quickly that Jason and Benny arrive on Balgoris five hours before leaving the Collection. On the way to Balgoris, Benny meets another old friend -- Captain Dave Vyshinsky, who went through cadet training with her. Dave had been assigned to the Holy Trinity Cluster, which lies just outside the galaxy, and the relative time dilation of the journey means that, like Benny, he's younger than he should be. Benny is surprised to learn that he too knew Ivo, and is puzzled when Dave makes no mention of Ivo's religious order, which meant everything to Ivo when Benny knew him.

A large, bear-like creature named Alan drives Benny and Jason from the spaceport to the Balgoris Imperial Hotel, and on the way, Benny learns that Balgoris used to be a mining planet. The ores have since been worked out, and the colonists are now trying to transform the planet into a tourist destination. Spacefleet is constructing a military base near the city, and once it's finished, the colony will be open to cater to soldiers on leave. Rather belatedly, Benny realises that this is why she's been called out to verify the archaeological find; if it's genuine and needs serious study, construction on the base could be delayed, which means that Benny's decision could potentially make or break the planet's economy. While pondering this, Benny apparently runs into another old friend -- but of course, the young woman isn't Sarah Kiyomoto, but her daughter, Nicky. "Nicky" is a diminutive, and Benny is startled to learn that Sarah named her daughter Bernice. She is starting to suspect that Jason planned these reunions, but he insists that they're just coincidental.

On their way to the crematorium, Benny realises that Balgoris is positioning itself as a retirement and funeral home as well as a holiday resort; it's not just a place to cheat the Reaper, it's where he catches up with you. The carefully generic crematorium offends Benny with its calculated tastefulness, but she admits to herself that she feels guilty that she isn't sadder for Ivo's loss. Nevertheless, though she only knew him briefly a long time ago, she's caught off guard when Ivo's pallbearers turn out to be humans from the military base rather than fellow demi-lemurs and when the service turns out to be Buddhist, rather than the funeral service of the Order of Lost Lemuroidea. Nicky is attending the funeral with a decrepit elderly woman whom Benny realises must be her old friend Sarah Kiyomoto; also in attendance are a party of mourners from Nivis' World, a planet that Benny once visited. The Nivisi life cycle is so fast that these particular Nivisi were probably born on their way to the funeral and will die before they return home.

After the funeral, Benny and Jason return to the hotel to freshen up and attend the reception. Spacefleet is providing security at the reception, and Jason spends some time trying to annoy a Spacefleet Admiral who obviously doesn't want to talk to him. Benny speaks with Sarah, who drifts in and out of lucidity but becomes bitter when she realises that she's talking to Benny Summerfield; nobody believes the elderly woman's tales of youthful adventure and derring-do, except for Ivo, who knew exactly what it was like to have Benny waltz into one's life and back out again. Shaken, Benny decides to fetch Nicky to deal with Sarah, only to find that the young woman has been flirting with Jason and has now convinced him to take her onto the dance floor. Nicky is clearly interested in leaving the reception briefly with Jason, and Jason's metaphorical shoulder-angel and shoulder-devil debate whether he should accept her invitation, but lose track of which of them is supposed to be arguing which point. Jason has just decided to turn down her implied proposition when Benny cuts in and sends Nicky back to her mother. She and Jason begin to argue, and it quickly becomes a full-fledged row that attracts the attention of the security detail and disturbs the other mourners. As Jason prepares to storm off, the Admiral crosses over to them and asks whether there's a problem. Benny sees the Admiral's nametag and realises who he is -- and, already frustrated, upset and angry, she punches the Admiral square in the face...

The Ship of Painted Shadows by Marc Platt

Following her adventures on Jaiwan, 22-year-old Benny Summerfield is returning to Earth to explore her roots. While chatting with the rich Mrs Montcalme and her young identical-twin husbands, Gerry and Garry Garner, Benny learns that a number of holiday tours have been diverted due to the war, and takes advantage of a disappointed tourist's cancelled reservation to net herself a berth aboard the Prince of Mercury liner. The only cabin remaining is a shared accommodation with a waiter named Ivo FitzIndri. After unpacking, Benny visits the Crow's Nest restaurant, but the arrogant maitre d' informs her that her berth status does not permit her to dine at this upscale establishment. The irritated Benny gets lost on her way back to her cabin and ends up in the Deluxe Apartments corridor, where her curiosity gets the better of her and she enters an open cabin to find a number of ornate Japanese puppets dressed in the costumes of bunraku drama. She is unexpectedly attacked by a samurai and knocked senseless, and experiences a vision of a bridge leading to an endless series of white rooms. An imperious and over-dramatic woman named Iwafuji confronts the dazed Benny and accuses her of trespass and thievery, and Benny stumbles out of the cabin to find that her arm is bleeding where the samurai slashed at her. As her head clears, she realises that Iwafuji exactly resembled one of the puppets. Shaken, Benny returns to her cabin, where she meets Ivo and they begin chatting. Ivo is a demi-lemur whose people originated from Malagascar and Portugal; humans slashed and burned their forests to make arable land, and the sentient lemurs formed the Order of Lost Lemuroidea and scattered throughout the galaxy to look for a new home. Ivo tends to Benny's injured arm, and she is touched by his kindness and the hint of melancholy about his quest.

The next morning, Benny tries to buy breakfast only to find that she is no longer registered as a paying passenger. The ship's head of security, Jeffrey O'Coral, warns her that under war regulations she must be regarded as a threat to the safety of the crew and passengers; fortunately, Ivo hears of her predicament, contacts O'Coral and confirms that she is in fact staying in his cabin. Unwilling to lose face, O'Coral tells Benny that until her status can be confirmed, she'll be permitted only one meal a day and will not be allowed to access the ship's cafés or entertainment areas. Furious, Benny storms off to sulk, but stumbles across a weird display of Japanese shadow puppetry in one of the corridors. The passengers are confused by the display, apart from three women who appear terrified by it, and Gerry Garner, who is taking notes.

Ivo invites Benny to dine with the liner's wait staff, who warm to her when she tells them about herself. They are intrigued by her claim that the haughty Japanese woman in Deluxe Apt. 3 must have somehow erased her identity from the ship's servers, but the conversation then digresses to the odd Mrs Montcalme, who is quite hefty in appearance yet has never been seen eating in public. When Benny tries to turn the conversation back to her own problems, the shadow of a samurai warrior appears on a nearby draw sheet and slashes it in two, and then vanishes when a disembodied voice barks out a command in Japanese. Shaken, the waiter 3adne allows Ivo to check his ship's manifest, and Ivo finds that Deluxe Apt. 3 has been booked in the name of Mr Hanekawa Goro for a single passenger; presumably, Iwafuji is escorting Goro's shipment of antique puppets.

The New Gondwana Ladies' Choir is performing in the St Attenborough Conference Hall; Benny is unable to attend, but she does overhear the performance as she passes, including the oddly disturbing Chorale Télépathique. She is still permitted to enter the public library, where she googles herself and confirms that the records of her existence have only been deleted aboard this ship. An elderly woman named Ohatsu shows up while she's trying to google Hanekawa Goro, and offers Benny tea and a veiled, cryptic warning not to dig too deep. Benny returns to her cabin, and enters to find shadowplay occurring on the walls; however, the shadows vanish when a voice barks out her name. Exhausted, Benny falls asleep and dreams of a bridge between worlds; the doors on either side are made of paper, but Iwafuji has sealed them against her. Benny wakes, freshly irritated, and heads off to investigate Iwafuji further. However, she is distracted by the sound of raised voices in Deluxe Apt. 2, and investigates to find that the Garners have apparently killed their wife. Once they realise that Benny thinks she's stumbled across a murder scene, however, the twins admit that "Mrs Montcalme" is in fact a genetically engineered Character that they have created as an art installation. Their contract with the liner was supposed to be exclusive, and they are peeved by the shadowplay, which is upstaging them. Benny promises to keep their secret, and in return, they tell her that they've met the occupant of Deluxe Apt. 3 -- a man named Dankizo, who is shipping rare silkworm larvae to Earth.

Benny leaves the apartment but glimpses somebody breaking into Apt. 3 -- one of the three women who earlier appeared terrified by the shadowplay in the lobby. Benny confronts the woman, Tilani van Dijk, but Iwafuji catches them both and accuses them of thievery and trespass. Iwafuji retreats as shadows flit across the cabin door, which slams shut by itself -- and a snarling Kabuki demon attacks Benny and Tilani. Benny helps to fight the demon, saving Tilani's life, and manages to press the room service button before the demon knocks her out. Tilani manages to tip the silkworm crate over the demon, knocking it out as well, and when Ivo arrives in response to the room-service call, Tilani flees. Benny awakens to find that Ivo has taken her back to their cabin, with Ohatsu's help; however, he tells her that there was no sign of the demon when he arrived at the cabin. Ivo leaves to start his shift at the restaurant, and Ohatsu explains to Benny that Iwafuji is either served by or bound to serve shadow demons from another dimension. Ohatsu claims that Iwafuji is a spiteful and jealous woman who once framed and punished the virtuous lady-in-waiting Onoe for theft, driving the shamed Onoe to take her own life. However, when Benny takes a closer look at Ohatsu, she realises that the "old lady" is in fact a man wearing makeup; "she" is in fact Hanekawa Goro, a male acting a female role in the kabuki tradition of onnagata.

Benny is then summoned to O'Coral's office, where the security chief tells her that the ship's course has been diverted again due to changing fortunes in the war; this means they'll need fresh supplies delivered, and O'Coral intends to put Benny off the liner when the supply ship arrives. However, Tilani arrives and offers an alternative: free passage if Benny joins the New Gondwana Ladies' Choir. Benny has little choice but to agree, and Tilani takes her to one of the liner's exclusive beaches to meet the choir's director, Elsa Gibichung. Elsa explains that she's repaying Benny for saving Tilani's life, and assures the worried Benny that she's not the only lady in the choir who can't sing; they are in fact united against Elsa's husband, Michio Dankizo. Benny protests that she's just stumbled into this affair by accident, but then notices Iwafuji staring at her from the observation deck -- and paper windows slide open in the air, letting through shadow samurai who pepper the beach with lethal shadow arrows. The shadows disappear back through their windows, leaving several innocent bystanders dead or wounded, and the furious Elsa vows to bring this to an end.

The crew declare a state of emergency, but Benny manages to get back to the library to google Michio Dankizo. This turns out to be a famous stage name in Kabuki theatre; the current Michio Dankizo is the 28th to go by that name, and he's best known for the role of Iwafuji in the tragedy Kagamiyama Kokyono Nishiki-e -- the tale of Onoe's shaming and suicide, in which one of the characters is an old lady named Ohatsu. It appears that two rival actors, Dankizo and Goro, have been consumed by their characters and are playing out the tragedy in reality for the amusement of the shadow creatures. Ohatsu/Goro contacts Benny and hands her a gold figurine, telling her to keep it safe, but s/he is then chased away from the library and captured by the shadow samurai. Exhausted and confused, Benny retreats to her cabin, where she finds that Ivo has called in favours from the ship's chef to present a grand meal for his new friend. Benny is touched, but the growing intimacy between them is broken when Ivo admits that he has foresworn all physical knowledge for the sake of his calling. He has also vowed to do no harm to others and to commit himself wholly to those with whom he feels a bond -- but Benny, tired, doesn't quite pick up on all the implications of these vows, and she falls asleep to the smell of Ivo's musk as he strokes her hair.

The next day, the choir meets in the Assembly Hall, even though the shadow warriors are stalking the ship's corridors and most of the passengers are hiding in their cabins. On her way to the Hall, Benny encounters two samurai and addresses them, telling them that Iwafuji must make reparation for the blood on her dishonourable hands. Mrs Montcalme and the Garners attend the performance, as do Ivo and the wait staff, and Benny notes that the staging resembles kabuki theatre; the ladies must cross a bridge between worlds, a hanamichi, to enter or exit the stage. As the choir begins to perform the Chorale Télépathique, shadow windows open in the hall and Iwafuji emerges, an archetypal character that embodies all the petty scorn and hatred in the Universe. As Elsa begs her husband to return to her, Benny learns that all of the other ladies in the chorus are married to Dankizo as well; he is a polygamist and his wives have united to free him from the character that has consumed him. But the actor has given himself over completely to his character, and the shadows close in on Elsa and strike her down with a shadow blade, killing her. A rescue ship arrives to evacuate the passengers from the stricken liner, but the shadow samurai have damaged the ship's engines and the artificial gravity cuts out before Benny and the others can flee to safety.

The shadows drag Iwafuji back into their world, but Benny grabs one of the retreating samurai and is dragged across the hanamichi into the spirit world, a Kabuki set of painted props on paper walls. The real Dankizo is sipping tea in a painted garden, and he explains to Benny that the spirits have set up this place for his retirement. He appears unaware of the deaths that have occurred on the liner; as a Kabuki actor, he must inhabit his roles without interpreting or varying his performance, and Benny realises that this means the characters control him rather than the other way around. She tries to inform him that his performance has resulted in the deaths of innocent people, but when she tries to give him the statue that "Ohatsu" gave to her for safekeeping, she discovers that it has been replaced by a worthless old sandal. Dankizo is then replaced by Iwafuji, who accuses Benny of theft -- and Benny realises that she's been unwittingly cast in the role of Onoe for the amusement of the shadow creatures. Benny flees from the vengeful Iwafuji to find Ohatsu waiting on a stage set that represents the slopes of Mount Fuji. Benny realises that Ohatsu deliberately gave her the statue knowing that it would be stolen; like Dankizo, Goro is trapped in a role that will never change. Or so Benny thinks until the shadows swarm over Ohatsu and transform her into Iwafuji. Benny had forgotten that Michio Dankizo is a stage name; Hanekawa Goro is Michio Dankizo XXVIII, and he's playing both roles. There is no rivalry here, only shadowplay.

Shadow replicas of Benny's parents appear before her, registering their disapproval of her wasted life, and advise her to end it with honour. The shadows manipulate Benny like a puppet, putting a sword in her hands so she will run herself through as Onoe did. At the last moment, however, the surviving ladies of the Choir manage to sing the hanamichi back open, and Mrs Montcalme and Ivo pass through to rescue Benny. Dankizo transforms into the character of the demon once again, and he overpowers Mrs Montcalme and attacks Benny -- but Ivo picks up the sword that Benny had dropped and cuts off the actor's hand. The mortally injured Dankizo, unable to retreat into another character, finally acknowledges that things have gone too far and that others have paid the price for his retirement; he thus rejects the shadows and their contract, and completes the transaction by retreating into his paper house and running himself through with the sword. Benny, Ivo, the Garners and the surviving members of the Choir retreat back across the hanamichi and board the evacuation shuttles, and as they escape, they see the Prince of Mercury vanish into the spatial rift opened up by the shadows' hanamichi. As they recover from their traumatic experiences, Ivo tells Benny that it would mean a great deal to him if she were to visit his temple and tell her story; since he saved her life, she agrees to do this small favour for him.

The Soul’s Prism by Pete Kempshall

The scuffle on the dance floor ends with Benny and Jason being arrested and locked in the hotel's penthouse suite. As Jason recovers from his well-meant attempt to defend Benny from several trained soldiers, he realises that their luggage has already been moved to the suite, which suggests that they were meant to end up here in any case. Benny is still too upset to explain to Jason that the Admiral is Simon Kyle, her first love and the man who broke her heart by betraying her when she went AWOL from the military academy. Admiral Kyle arrives and reveals that Ivo's death was not an accident, but murder, and that he needs Benny to help him investigate. Benny has little choice but to agree, and she and Jason are thus flown out to the half-completed Jarghk Base, along with a demi-lemur named Vala who brushes off Benny's attempts to be friendly.

Benny is freshly upset when Jason immediately begins flirting with the beautiful Captain Caroline Dadd, who lost certain illusions about the military when they used her as a scapegoat for a failed mission and no longer operates entirely by the book. Once the newcomers have settled in to their quarters, Kyle marches them out to the murder site, a local beauty spot where Ivo often went to meditate. Dadd claims that she drove him out to the site and left him alone, but then heard him cry out and ran back to find that he'd gone over the edge. Kyle's men have set up holographic scanners and generators, which they use to recreate the murder using forensic evidence from the site; the recreation indicates that Ivo allowed his killer to approach, that they spoke briefly, and that Ivo then attacked the figure, who broke Ivo's back and flung him over the cliff with inhuman strength. The investigators then return to base, where Benny meets the archaeologist who first unearthed the site -- an enthusiastic fan named Raycl Rugrien, who enthuses about Benny's recent work on Martian archaeology yet dismisses the contributions made by her collaborator, Ovmakh.

Benny works with Vala to examine the evidence, but admits that she doesn't know enough about Ivo to understand why anyone would want to kill him. She is shocked when Vala reveals that Ivo had spent the last fifty years of his life looking for Benny. As an initiate of the Order of Lost Lemuroidea, he had foresworn violence except against those under his protection, and although he considered Benny worthy of such protection, he had not actually made the Oath of Bonding when he attacked Dankizo to save Benny. The Oath has been abused in the past by those who effectively used it to enslave the initiates, which is why Ivo did not tell Benny the real reason that he wanted her to visit the temple and tell her story. Thus, when Benny met a spacer who claimed to know where her father could be found, she left Ivo an apologetic note and ran off to investigate, completely unaware that her departure would mean his excommunication from the Order. Ivo was forced to take a number of menial service jobs to pay his passage while trying to follow her, and thus remained one step behind her until she disappeared on the planet Heaven. Recently, he'd heard rumours that she had resurfaced on the Braxiatel Collection, and those rumours were confirmed when she appeared on a video broadcast from the Drome. This is why Benny knew so many of the people at Ivo's funeral; he'd met them while following in her footsteps. Vala also reveals that Ivo's entire bloodline bears the shame of his excommunication; Vala is his great-niece, and she will be unable to marry the man she loves until Ivo's sin is excused.

Horrified, Benny promises to bring Ivo's killer to justice and prove to the Order that Ivo deserved to take the Oath of Binding with her. Vala then points out something that had escaped Benny's attention: Ivo had vowed not to commit violence except in Benny's defence, but the holographic recreation shows him attacking his killer -- which must mean that the killer was after Benny all along, and presumably still is. Benny reports this information to Kyle, who orders Dadd and Jason to return to the clearing to gather further forensic evidence, this time with an eye towards finding out how the killer managed to escape in the few seconds before Dadd reached the clearing. Since it's possible that the controversial archaeological dig may have some bearing on the killer's motives, Benny decides to check it out the next day. In the meantime, Kyle orders Dadd to place guards on Benny's room, without her knowledge.

The next day, Benny accompanies Kyle and Rugrien to the dig, which turns out to be a tomb containing thousands of books, scrolls and folios; this discovery could potentially delay the construction of the military base, with serious repercussions for Balgoris' economy. Benny notes that a nearby sarcophagus lid has been moved and replaced, and assumes that Rugrien couldn't resist having a peek; nevertheless, Rugrien continues to insist that Benny is the best archaeologist for the job. As night falls, Benny returns to the base, where Jason and Dadd have finished their work and asked young Private Wearring to inform Admiral Kyle. Benny storms off in irritation upon seeing Jason and Dadd flirting with each other, and some time later, the guards Xanthea Boardman and Adam Houghton let her back into the tomb to pick up something she forgot earlier. Meanwhile, Vala has been working with the communications officers to trace Ivo's movements before he arrived on Balgoris, and once this is complete, Lt Steven Nash returns to his routine signals review. To his surprise, he finds that someone has piggybacked an illegal signal onto the base's regular communications -- a signal aimed towards the planetoid KS-159.

Vala enters Ivo's quarters and searches his possessions for some clue as to his murder, and finds evidence that Ivo and Kyle have been the best of friends for over a decade. She finds Benny returning from her walk and informs her of this discovery, and Benny, feeling betrayed, storms off to bed. Kyle learns what's happened and follows Benny to her room, where he shows her his old PDA -- the one that she believed he'd turned over to the Academy officers in 2556, in exchange for a reduced sentence. He now reveals that the officers wanted to break Benny's spirit so that she would believe she had nowhere else to turn but Spacefleet; they thus threatened to kill her unless Simon gave them the leverage they needed, and he thus told them about the existence of his diary and its contents. However, he never actually turned it over to them. He never saw Benny again, but when Ivo eventually tracked him down, Simon told him everything and they became the best of friends. The dig is genuine, but Simon and Ivo arranged to invite Benny here specifically for their own sakes. Unfortunately, their plan was hijacked by a murderer and now Ivo is dead because of it.

Benny realises that Simon is telling the truth, and is shaken to realise that the pain she's blamed on Simon all these years was caused by her own inability to trust him. As Simon leaves, Jason shows up to make amends, hears Benny crying, leaps to the wrong conclusion and attacks Kyle, warning him not to hurt Benny again. Kyle easily overpowers Jason and makes it very clear that he considers Jason to be an unfaithful criminal and pornographer who is unworthy of Benny's love -- and that he'll do his utmost to ensure that Benny knows it. Captain Dadd arrives to find Jason writhing in agony on the ground, and, amused, escorts him back out to the clearing to set up the forensics units and collect more evidence. While doing so, Jason realises that the large boulder Dadd had reported seeing is no longer in the clearing, and that there's no evidence that it was ever here. Jason thus realises that the killer is a shape-shifter, which took the form of someone Ivo trusted and then hid itself in plain sight when Dadd returned to the clearing. Jason explains his theory to Dadd, who seems so impressed that she pulls him into a deep, impulsive kiss -- but her tongue then wraps itself around Jason's and rips it out of his mouth. The shape-shifter in Dadd's form then guts Jason with a combat knife and returns to the base, leaving the desperately injured Jason to crawl through the woods, vainly seeking help.

Lt Nash decodes the piggybacked transmission and reports to Kyle that Benny apparently contacted a colleague on the Braxiatel Collection, claiming to have disposed of Rugrien and thus cleared the way to sell the Balgoran artefacts to the highest bidder. Kyle finds supporting evidence in Benny's quarters, and although he knows she's being framed, he must place her under arrest until he can clear her name. Kyle orders Dadd to test the message for signs of forgery and to find Jason, whom the real Dadd hasn't seen all day. Vala then bursts in, claiming to have encountered a man named Private Wearring who smelled of Ivo's musk; presumably, Ivo marked his attacker with his scent glands when he realised that he was doomed.

"Wearring" has just arrived in Benny's quarters, bearing breakfast -- and a blaster with which she will be shot while "trying to escape." He intends to frame her for murdering Rugrien, trying to steal the Balgoran artefacts, and striking an illicit deal with the government to cover up the theft; Ivo was an innocent victim of the plot, as the shape-shifter simply killed him in order to get close to Benny but hadn't counted on Dadd discovering the murder so quickly. Before the shape-shifter can kill Benny, Kyle arrives with officers Boardman and Houghton, but the shape-shifter kills them both and a fierce battle breaks out. Benny identifies the killer as a Mim, and as it's clear that the soldiers' weapons have no effect on it, she begs Kyle to stage a tactical withdrawal and try to find the missing Jason. Kyle reluctantly does so when Benny promises that she has a plan to deal with the Mim, but once he's gone, Benny admits to Dadd that she was bluffing.

Benny and Dadd try to lure the Mim away from the base, but it kills Dadd and attacks Benny. Fortunately, since Ivo's bloodline was excommunicated, Vala was unable to join the Order and has not taken the oath of non-violence; she thus has no compunction against stuffing a grenade into the Mim's open maw. As the shattered bits of the Mim reform, Benny and Vala flee into the tomb, where they find the body of the real Professor Rugrien stuffed into the sarcophagus that Benny had noticed earlier; the real Rugrien has been dead all along, which is why she appeared unaware that her hero's work on Martian archaeology had been co-written. The Mim chases Benny and Vala into the tomb, but they manage to circle around it; Kyle and his men then return, having found Jason and sent him for treatment, and Benny grabs one of their guns and shoots out the tomb's oil lamps. Burning oil showers down over the Mim and over the books, scrolls and folios in the tomb. The Mim proves vulnerable to fire, as Benny had hoped, and she and the soldiers retreat and seal the tomb, leaving the Mim to die in the inferno.

Since the tomb's priceless contents have been destroyed, Benny advises Simon to pave over its remains, complete the military base and let the Balgorans have their tourist trap. She also visits the local temple of the Order of Lost Lemuroidea and fulfils her obligation to Ivo's memory. The Order absolves Ivo and his bloodline, enabling Vala to marry her lover. Before she leaves, Benny bids goodbye to Nicky and Sarah Kiyomoto, and promises to stay in touch with Simon from now on. She may need his help; Jason was recently in Mim space working on a way to slow down the Draconian expansion that had threatened KS-159, and the fact that a Mim was trying to use Benny to disgrace the Collection implies that there are dangerous times ahead for Benny's home. Simon promises to give Benny all the help she needs, but as he leaves her to pack, the recovering Jason confronts him privately outside. Before the Mim attacked him, Jason had activated the forensics generators, which recorded everything that subsequently happened in the clearing... including the fact that Simon found Jason dying in the grass and left him where he lay. It was sheer luck that another of Kyle's men stumbled across Jason in time to save his life -- and Jason now sends the broken Admiral on his way, warning him that if he ever comes near Benny again, then Jason will show her this recording.

Source: Cameron Dixon

Continuity Notes:
  • The contemporary Benny knows that blue is the traditional colour of mourning on Necros, as seen in the Doctor Who adventure Revelation of the Daleks. Jason is having difficulty being friendly with cyborgs due to his recent experiences in The Crystal of Cantus. He also refers to their forthcoming mission to Ancient Greece, which leads into the next audio adventure, The Oracle of Delphi.
[Back to Main Page]