Missing Adventures
edited by Rebecca Levene
Cover Blurb
Missing Adventures

One day she will bring down empires and decide the fate of the universe. One day she will be feared by the creatures of evil and revered wherever people have had just a little bit too much to drink.

But all that is yet to come...

This very special collection celebrates 15 years of Bernice Summerfield. It explores her early life and the events that shaped the archaeologist and space-adventuress we know today.

A circus offers solace for the loss of her father; boarding school will try anything to make her behave; and when the military catch up with runaway Benny, her freedom will cost her dearly...

Missing Adventures features 12 all-new stories, many of them by those who played a formative part in Benny's development, including Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Peter Darvill-Evans and Andy Lane.

There's also a genuine puzzle to be solved – with a prize hidden somewhere in the UK!

  • This is a collection of short stories in Big Finish's novel range The Adventures of Bernice Summerfield.
  • Released: November 2007

  • ISBN: 978 1 84435 278 4
Biology Lesson on Mal Oreille by Xanna Eve Chown

After the death of Benny Summerfield's mother, her father reluctantly ships her off to boarding school on the planet Mal Oreille while he returns to duty. Benny befriends three other new students, Darrell Rivers and her friends Alicia and Gwendolene, but the upper-year students are all too snooty, jolly and terribly well-behaved to mix with the younger girls. In biology class, Benny learns from headmistress Mrs Thynne that the animals of Mal Oreille are all masters of camouflage and disguise, and watches as a snail eats a patch of seaweed and the excretes a perfect copy that will hide the evidence of its foraging from predators. Some time later, Gwendolene sprains her ankle in gym class, and when she returns from the sanatorium, mere hours later, she begins mixing happily with the upper-year students. Alicia's personality also changes after an apparent case of food poisoning puts her in the san. Darrell and Benny conclude that something strange is happening, and Benny fakes a migraine in order to get into the san to investigate. That night, Matron transforms into a giant frog and disables Benny with a lash from her stinging tongue; she's been drinking the girls' blood and replacing it with Mal Oreille seawater, which performs a similar function but makes the girls more docile and obedience. Before Matron can do the same to Benny, she calls Darrell to the san on her personal schoolsat communications unit, and the girls drive the frog creature out of the school and ring the fire alarm. However, Ms Thynne slips Darrell some hazing medicine that fogs her memory of the event, and when Benny refuses the same "treatment," Ms Thynne expels her from the school, claiming that she is a disruptive influence. Benny tries to protest, but realises that Ms Thynne prefers her "well-behaved" students and is covering up the incident so she can get Matron back. Benny miserably waits for her father to return and rescue her, but for some reason the authorities are having difficulty contacting him...

The Evacuation of Bernice Summerfield Considered as a Short Film by Terry Gilliam by Ben Aaronovitch

Benny's mother is dead, her father is missing presumed dead, and she's being shipped to care with a freight tag on her jacket so the holographic guides at the spaceports will know where she's supposed to go. She has managed to fool the authorities who are supposed to be taking care of her, and none of them realise just how long she's gone without eating. While Benny is watching military ordnance and civilian goods being shuttled along a cargo rail behind a thick transparent wall, a hallucinatory carnival of surreal persons arrives in the waiting room, calling themselves the Circus of War. There is the loudly dressed Pandemonium Jack, or Bedlam, an old woman in thick makeup; the ominously thin Spider, who seems to like children too much; the Pythia, a friendly woman dressed like an agent of child services, who is fated to foretell the future yet not to be believed; the Immovables, hippies who moved up to Canada to avoid the draft and just kept moving; Longpork, who cooks sausages that smell like burning flesh; and many others, each one just as strange. They are here to perform for the dead, and Benny sees the people who died on Beta Caprisis riding the cargo rails -- including her mother. Benny nearly brains herself trying to break through the transparent observation wall by running at it headfirst, until she sees that Manray -- a soldier she'd once had a childish crush on, and who was supposedly with her father when he disappeared -- is riding the rail as well. Spider shows genuine compassion and gently kisses her forehead, making it better. The Circus members then pack up and walk through the impermeable wall, slipping through the same cracks in the world as the dead and moving on to their next venue. Bedlam offers Benny the opportunity to run away and join the circus, but Benny decides that she doesn't have a future with the dead, and Bedlam kindly gives her a spaceport-concourse ham sandwich before stepping through the wall herself. Benny eats the sandwich, leaves the waiting room, and makes her own way to the next ship, telling the porter that she's travelling on her own.

The Tunnels To Heaven by Andy Bodle

13-year-old Benny Summerfield and her fellow cadets take a field trip to an unremarkable planet, the only one that their school's insurance can afford. Benny is engaged in a feud with her fellow cadet Charisma Chen, and she steals Chen's NuU facial organiser and slips away from the tour to reprogram it. She seeks shelter in a cave without any of the strange stalagmite-like structures that are found in the other caves' lava pools, but Chen catches her there and they begin to fight. They are captured by their Education Management Systems Compliance Officer, a Martian who returns them to the shuttle. Benny takes the blame for the incident and is ordered to help conduct maintenance work on the cadets' dropship while Chen is allowed to return to the tour; however, she's done so for the opportunity to sabotage Chen's seat, which will break when the dropship lands and knock Chen against the ceiling, giving her a headache.

Elsewhere, the brutal theocracy that rules Rotifera faces a test of faith when its people are decimated by plague. When purges of suspected heretics and the sacrifices of thousands of children fail to halt the spread of the plague, Archpresbytrix Rogb takes the risk of inviting the suspected agnostic Eludicator Cimyk to study the Sword of Yond -- a gigantic artefact that fell from the sky billions of cycles ago, wiping out the Rotiferans' enemies and ensuring their victory in the religious wars. Cimyk studies the artefact, and comes to believe that it was manufactured and that the huge scratches on its side are a form of writing in an unfamiliar language. However, she and Rogb are both executed for heresy by Archpresbytrix Gyr, and all evidence of Cimyk's discoveries are destroyed. The bacteria-like Rotiferans will never be allowed to suspect that they once travelled beyond the frontiers of their world in constructs known as the Tunnels of Heaven; and they will never even be able to suspect that the object that wiped out their enemies and secured the Rotiferan theocracy is the scent-stick from Chen's NuU organiser, which fell to the floor of the cave while she and Benny were fighting.

Benny and Louise by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright

Young Benny Summerfield makes a new friend, Louise Bennet, when they discover that their boyfriends have secretly been seeing each other. The two women impulsively set off on a drunken tour of the galaxy, but their credit runs out on the planet Slarvia, and Benny reluctantly decides that the time has come to sober up and get back to real life. Louise seems a bit too eager to leave Slarvia, however, and when their planet-hopper is pursued and surrounded by the entire Slarvian battle fleet, Benny discovers that Louise impulsively stole the legendary Pearl of Wisdom from the Imperial Museum. Benny and Louise manage to evade the battle fleet for some time, until their heat shields fail, trapping them next to the star 277181-X. However, Benny realises that they've pushed the planet-hopper well past its limits, that the Slarvians have apparently failed to hit them with every single shot they've fired, that they're still alive in close proximity to the star even with no heat shields, and that the Pearl of Wisdom is glowing. Benny flies the planet-hopper straight into the star and out the other side, giving the surprised Slarvians the slip; apparently the legends about the Pearl are true, and it really can absorb and transform all sources of energy in its vicinity for the benefit of whoever holds it. Once they're safely away, Benny and Louise mail the Pearl back to Slarvia via Mutters Spiral Express, with a note of apology.

Continuity: The Slarvians originated in the Big Finish continuation of the series The Tomorrow People, and appeared in the Doctor Who universe in the short story Childhood Living.

Charged by John Binns

On the planet Slow's World, an archaeological dig has been placed on indefinite hold while the site's new corporate owners go through legal manoeuvres necessary to start developing the land. Benny visits the planet, hoping to undertake some unofficial excavating of her own, and makes a new drinking buddy when an absent-minded old man accidentally picks up her beer instead of his own. Graham doesn't like to talk about himself, but Benny does pick up that he once travelled with a woman named Helen, possibly his wife. Nevertheless, she is shocked when the quiet but friendly old man is arrested and charged with treason. Graham says nothing to defend himself, and the prosecution announces that the evidence against him can't be revealed in open court. Benny bluffs her way into a position as Graham's new counsel, and delivers a naive and inexperience defence, blustering that all of the charges against Graham are based on hearsay and misunderstandings. Frustrated, she impulsively grabs the evidence folder from the military policeman standing next to the prosecuting attorney, and discovers that the "classified" evidence consists of transmissions to and from Graham's ship. Benny finally realises that "Helen" is the computer aboard Graham's ship, which is now too damaged to travel; stranded and lonely, Helen was communicating with another artificial intelligence, which Benny realises must be an alien computer unearthed at the dig site. This is the real reason the dig has been postponed, and Graham, who didn't want to get his "old friend" into trouble, was being railroaded by the corporation in order to keep the computer's existence a secret. The chairman of the tribunal agrees to acquit Graham on condition that everyone present sign a non-disclosure agreement, and when Benny makes her displeasure known, she spends a day in jail on contempt charges before being released.

Prime Five by Jason Arnopp

23-year-old Benny Summerfield is summoned to the planet Tharn by military officers who threaten to prosecute her for desertion unless she co-operates with Dr Harmon Rancell's experiments. Rancell claims to be studying the personality traits of deserters, and he and his assistant Morton scan Benny's brain and release her to nearby city of Iglesia to wait while they analyse the results. While drinking the week away, Benny is targeted by a hit woman named No No Darma; some time ago, she beat billionaire Ritchard D'Zar to the legendary Rosaria Stone, and the vengeful D'Zar put out a contract on her life. Benny tries to avoid Darma by bar-hopping, and the next few days pass in a blur until she awakens to find that Darma has found her -- and left her a note telling her that the contract has been called off. Benny is then arrested by soldiers led by General Hutchinson, but as he marches her back to his flyer, something huge looms out of the shadows and starts killing her escort. The sole survivor gets Benny back to the military research base, but the killer follows her there, and as it begins to slaughter the soldiers at the base, Benny sees that it's a monster with the face of her father. Rancell is killed in the fighting, and Morton admits that he's the real scientist; Rancell was just an actor hired to draw the enemy's attention. Morton has used Prime Five energy to give form to Benny's personal demons; the intention was to bring Benny face-to-face with a monstrous representation of the father who abandoned her, but it's proven more powerful than anticipated. Since the monster was created from Benny's psyche, it's both a protective father figure and a monstrous soldier that slaughters everything in its path. The father thing kills Morton, and reveals that it's also killed Darma, even though she'd called off the hunt after the thing killed D'Zar. Benny tries to get the father thing to stop acting on her subconscious impulses and fears, and it agrees to stop killing and to take her to safety -- but before it can go, the Prime Five energy finally dissipates, and Benny watches helplessly as her father disintegrates into nothing, abandoning her once again.

Home by Peter Darvill-Evans

This story is taken from a transcript of the program First Step, the results of a dig funded by the Galaxy RealTime Holovid Corporation to study the remains of the first human moonbase. Earth's Moon is currently a prison for irredeemable criminals, and few people are interested in its history or even its existence -- which is why the corporation has decided to spice things up a bit for the live broadcast. Host Angel Delightly projects a holographic image of herself through the energy dome to interview the team leader, Professor Rakmussen, only to find that most of the team has apparently forgotten about the interview and packed up to go, leaving only Benny Summerfield to guide Angel around the site. Angel appears suitably impressed by the primitive geodesic dome in which three men lived for several months, which is now dwarfed by the energy projectors and other structures that were set up to support the dig and are soon to be removed. The show is all talk until hardened criminals arrive from the prison, at which point Benny learns that the Corporation neglected to mention that the prison was recently made a self-governing colony and the prisoners are now free to roam the surface of the Moon. Also, the dig's security system has developed a critical fault at the worst possible time for Benny, albeit the best possible time for RealTime's ratings. Terrorist Carlos Patagoan announces that the Lunar Colony will now confiscate the dig's equipment, and to ensure that nobody comes rushing to the rescue and interrupts their work, they intend to kill Benny on live television. Benny manages to evade Carlos and shelter in the original dome, where she finds a gun and fires a shot at Carlos. This was former astronaut Houston Mackenzie's gun, with a single bullet to grant himself a quick death in case of catastrophic mission failure; however, the prisoners don't call Benny's bluff. Instead, they strip the dig of everything they can carry and depart, believing that Benny will either freeze, asphyxiate, or die of radiation poisoning once they lower the energy field. In fact, she's donned Mackenzie's spacesuit, which will keep her alive until rescue arrives. The transcript, which is later entered into evidence in the court case against RealTime, ends with Benny looking up at the Earth and realising that Mackenzie could always look up and see his home waiting for him... which Benny has been unable to do for a long time.

The Slight Façade by Magnus Anderson

Under the name of Sarah Bishop, Benny steals a book from the University of Belgravia and attends a lecture on its provenance by the Regal Professor Salim Barr. She is tracked down by the elderly Professor Ravel Calabrio, who appears more disappointed than angry and forgives her when she explains that she was driven by intellectual curiosity. The book contains a short story, The Slight Façade, with clues directing its readers to a buried treasure somewhere in the British Isles; however, the arrogant Barr regards treasure hunts as a trivialisation of true archaeology, and has nearly succeeded in destroying all extant copies of the book. The gun-wielding Barr pursues Benny and Calabrio, trying to retrieve their copy of the book, and Benny and Calabrio conclude that they have no choice but to solve the puzzle and retrieve the "treasure" before Barr has it destroyed. The puzzle, which would have proven a challenge in the 21st century, is much easier to solve using 25th-century technology, and Benny and Calabrio quickly locate the treasure -- only to be followed by Barr, who holds them at gunpoint. Calabrio admits that Barr is pursuing a personal vendetta against him; he won the heart of Barr's girlfriend long ago, and Barr has never forgiven him. Benny overpowers Barr, and opens the treasure chest to find that it's empty; someone already solved the puzzle and found the prize, which means that, wherever it is now, it's become a genuine relic rather than an artificially buried treasure.

Bernice Summerfield and the Library of Books by Andrew Cartmel

Benny accompanies an expedition to an underground library on Monte Cassino, 100 miles south of Rome. Their explosives expert, Eutemio, blows open the entrance to the well, and the expedition members don semi-organic translation gear that will enable them to read the books they discover. The software translates the inscription above the library entrance as an announcement that every volume in the library is guaranteed to have an impact, and by a curious coincidence, the stone book engraved above the entrance breaks free at that very moment and nearly crushes Eutemio as it falls. Inside the entry hall, the archaeologists find a mummified body sitting with a book in its hands, and decide not to touch the book until they determine what killed its reader. However, the entire library turns out to contain human bodies in poses that suggest that they died violently. Benny finds an old book so erotic that she, Eutemio, and the nubile Peril Bellamy instantly engage in a threesome upon reading it. Lorris Hunsdon, a member of the CC2C sect -- Christians Committed To Celibacy -- also sees the book and immediately propositions Peril, and when she rejects him, he snaps and goes after them all with a gun. He shoots Eutemio, and himself is killed when Benny struggles with him for the gun. Benny and Peril then hear more gunfire, and find that Dr Shenstone has shot and killed the expedition's sponsors and then herself. As she dies, Dr Shenstone reveals that she read the book from the entry hall, and was driven to breaking point by a short story about an academic who was held back by her sponsors and never achieved greatness. The book is the ultimate extension of the ultimate library, which has evolved to a state of literary perfection; every single volume has such an impact that their readers are driven to the most violent extremes of emotion by reading them. Peril and Benny resist the temptation to see what the book at the entry hall would have to say about them, and instead retreat and seal up the library again.

Continuity: a similar character named Peril Bellamy appeared in the Doctor Who audio Winter for the Adept. Since that story was set in 1963, either Winter's Peril is unnaturally long-lived, she travelled through Time at some point, or this character is her descendant. Or it's a coincidence.

Postcards From the Edge of Reason by Andy Owens

Benny takes a job with Met News to report on a forthcoming election on the planet Beacon. Beacon is a strategically vital planet near the front lines, and although the Earth military has captured it from the enemy, the enemy is fighting hard to take it back. The civilian workers on the planet hadn't realised just how dangerous it was when they arrived, and the mood is turning ugly. Military authorities are backing Commander Lionel Goulden's campaign, but Benny is appalled to learn that he is conducting research with the intent of brainwashing political prisoners to pilot stealth kamikaze drones into enemy territory. The civilian population supports former gymnast and yoga teacher Nathaniel Spalding, and Benny's taxi driver, Holly, uses her contacts to get Benny an interview with Bionic Lawrence, front man of the Sanhedrin, a band that will be performing at Spalding's next rally. The blissed-out Lawrence casually informs Benny that Spalding supplied him with drugs when he was Lawrence's physiotherapist, and at the rally, Spalding tells the crowd that he intends to surrender Beacon to the enemy and leave behind all the soldiers and military hardware as a gesture of goodwill while the civilian population evacuates. When the time comes for Benny to leave Beacon, a driver named Razzle takes her to the spaceport, telling her that Holly was killed in an enemy strike on a civilian protest rally. Benny has already made her decision, and when she hears that Spalding's campaign has been derailed by the public revelation of his drug-dealing past, she wonders whether her father would be proud of her.

Blood On The Tracks by Andy Lane

On a world with no name, a stranded human pilot has made a new home with a primitive tribe of humans descended from a lost colony. He does not know what caused his ship to crash or what caused the colony to lose its technology, but he suspects that it's down to the Vethkin, unfathomable beings that appear and disappear at random from the planet's sky, occasionally passing through a stone circle outside the village. One day, two Vethkin objects materialise in the Circle simultaneously and destroy each other. The villagers have been suffering from famine, and when they see a dog eating the organic material from inside one of the objects, they collect it all and take it back to the village for a feast. Fearing that this is a mistake, the pilot remains by the Circle to see what will happen next, and thus survives when the Vethkin materialise above the village and slaughter every single human out in the open. Including the pilot, there are only four survivors, but the pilot knows that they're doomed to a slow death from starvation -- and believes that the Vethkin simply swatted the village's inhabitants like flies without truly registering what it was they were doing.

In another era, Benny traces the manuscript written by the pilot from Earth to Alpha Centauri, to Ghazar, to Jullat, to a spaceship called the Arboline Queen, and to the planet Rebeeka. Each time she catches up with a historian who was studying the manuscript, they've deemed it of little value and have passed it on to someone else due to lack of interest. When she reaches Rebeeka, the inhabitants are fighting a civil war, and the historian she's looking for is squatting in an abandoned apartment, burning his belongings for warmth. He tells her that he burned the manuscript three days ago, and Benny joins him by the fire, quietly telling him that it may have been her only hope of ever tracking down her missing father.

Thirty Love by Eddie Robson

Benny is determined not to celebrate her 30th birthday, which is why her students and her Traveller friends kidnap her from her dig on the planet Heaven on the day in question. Roisa escorts Benny across the fields, blindfolded, until they reach their surprise destination -- a tennis court that the Travellers have mowed into the fields. It's exactly what Benny didn't realise she wanted, and even though nobody else knows how to play, they quickly get the hang of it. Watching her friends play tennis, Benny recalls learning to play while at the Academy, and wonders where she'll be in ten years' time -- possibly settled down, maybe with children. It's one of the best days of her life, and it's the last time she'll ever be sure what her birthday is.

Source: Cameron Dixon
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