I have no idea where this came from. It just hit me last night, so...
[Warning: This story contains no sex, a fair bit of violence, and some
things that thin-skinned people might be insulted by.]
TO DIE FOR / LOOK WHO'S TALKING: BETE NOIRE
It was not a coincidence that Number One was whistling as he
walked past the darkened churchyard. Often, when he was deep
in thought, he would whistle or hum some old song. And, some-
how, he always happened to be deep in thought about something
when he passed a cemetery. Especially at night. There were
always other things to think about, things that were too import-
ant to just let slide 'til later, so he had to think about those things,
and not about graveyards and the things that might be therein.
Not that he was superstitious, or anything.
Of course, there _were_ plenty of things he needed to think about
anyway. Indeed, that was the reason for this excursion in the first
place, to get out and try to figure out just where this whole Adric
situation was heading, and what to do about Lucas and the cat,
and this Curse business. So, he walked, and whistled, and
thought, and did all three with particular vigor as he strode past
Still, despite his efforts, the dark thought slid into his mind that
he should really be on a more familiar basis with graveyards,
considering the number of people he'd sent there. There was a
quick flash of memory of a nearly-forgotten time, when nights
like this one were spent in desperate battle with his kind's oldest
and grimmest foe. Thank Nyssa, those times were past, and the
Jihad was the stuff of old tales to frighten the newbies with when
too many drinks had gone around. There had been other wars,
and would be until all the fandoms of all the world bowed and
declared, 'Nyssa is great!' But, however bloody, those wars were
at least against foes you could understand, foes that were still of
the same sort of life. Not like--
Number One froze suddenly, nostrils twitching. His mind was
playing tricks on him. It had to be, with that smell. That's what
he got for dredging up things best forgotten. Thinking about
them was making him hallucinate, because they were all long
dead these many years.
The smell intensified. Number One dove forward suddenly,
rolling and coming up with Magnum drawn as something hissed
past his head to clatter on the slick pavement. He caught a fleet-
ing impression of a monstrous claw on the end of a ropy tentacle
before the thing was retracted back into the darkness. The smell
was overpowering, now, and he fired blindly in what he hoped
was the right direction. The revolver's report shattered the wet
stillness, and on its heels came a sound like a hammer striking a
side of meat.
A sibilant voice whispered, "Earn $$$ surfing the net." Number
One's blood turned to ice.
Old reflexes kicked in and the Cigarette-Smoking Bastard slid
carefully toward the puddle of light coming from the streetlight
across the way, pistol and eyes casting about for targets as he
moved. He could hear them moving with him, staying just out of
"RADW Moderation straw poll," came a hoarse voice from his
"Super-HOT girls just 4 U," rasped another from his left.
Number One set his back against the front wall of the empty
cafe and glared at the shadows that loomed around the thin
fringe of the streetlight's glow, tensed and waiting.
"There is no escape for you," a low, laughing voice pronounced.
"Tonight, you are the prey." Softly, a robed, shaven-headed
acolyte stepped into the circle of light, the hulking shadows
closing ranks behind him. The smell was cloying, an almost
Number One sneered with a bravado he didn't feel and lined up
the sights of his .357 on the man's skull. He nodded toward the
eight-armed cross symbol emblazoned on the man's robes. "Heh.
I thought all you Crossies were worm-food by now," he spat.
The man's face reddened at the nickname, but his voice altered
not a whit. "A great many of the Order of the Cross-Post have
indeed died at the hands of your kind," he said, emphasizing the
name. "But a few of the faithful have kept the ancient flame
alive, and now we take our vengeance upon those who sought
to destroy us. Tonight, it shall be your blood upon the altar of
our revenge! Spamites! Slay him!"
"Sorry, I've already got plans for the evening!" Number One
dodged aside, letting a blade-tipped arm slip past him and tried
to bring the gun back to bear on the Cross-Poster acolyte, but the
man had already slipped behind the writhing bodies of his
charging Spamite minions.
Number One had a brief moment of nausea as the things became
fully visible. The Spamites were hulking brutes, tall and massive.
Each had a single red eye that glared out with imbecilic intensity
over a gaping, fang-crammed mouth. Their arms were long, ropy,
boneless-looking things tipped with a variety of claws, blades,
hooks, and barbs, all made of bone as hard and sharp as surgical
steel. And that rank, awful odor.
He ducked, letting a claw that looked lie a pruning-hook swish
just over his head, then fired directly into the nearest red eye.
The thing let out an anguished howl of "Increase your internet
sales today!" and fell over, instantly dissolving into a pool of
pinkish-colored corruption. Another Spamite leaped at him,
grunting, "Online Casino!", but he evaded at the last second and
blew its foul, matted head off.
"Three shots left, O Pawn of the Brethren!" the acolyte tittered.
"And then, you are ours!" More Spamites loomed in the dark-
Inspiration! "Hey, look!" Number One shouted, pointing. "It's a
The acolyte let out a yell of rage and turned to look, his minions
doing the same. As they did, Number One used the momentary
distraction to fan the hammer of his revolver, using his last three
shots to blast an opening in the ring of Spamites. He was already
dashing through the gap before the last of the three had hit the
"It's a trick! There's no Retromoderator!" The Order of the
Cross-Post wasn't known for turning out geniuses. "After him,
Number One had a decent lead. He could shake them. Lose the
pursuit, then find Lucas and Catbert. Infighting and factional
quarrels would have to be set aside until this old menace was
dealt with. Best to do it before the ADF found out and they
ended up having to fight a two-front war...
There was a sudden, vicious stab of pain from his right leg as he
felt something slash into his calf and then rip itself out. He fell
headlong, managing at the last second to turn it into a shoulder-
roll and come back up on his feet. His calf hurt abominably, but
he pressed on, limping, as he felt a warm stain spread down into
"Earn $$$ surfing the net!" his attacker wailed in triumph.
Number One turned down an alley, the pounding footfalls of his
pursuers close behind. His leg was screaming scarlet agony and
felt ready to give out under him at any moment, but he pushed
on, turning again.
Up ahead, at a small intersection, was a rain barrel. Perfect.
With the Spamites still around the corner, he ran over and
dumped the barrel on himself. The shifting magic of the Curse
took hold, barely palpable through the waves of pain, and the
now-female Number One composed her features and stood
calmly awaiting the Cross-Post horde.
A large Spamite dashed up to her, a barbed, blood-stained claw
dangling from its right tentacle. "Earn $$$ surfing the net?!" it
demanded. "Earn $$$ surfing the net!!?!" it repeated when she
didn't reply, waving its claw threateningly.
The acolyte roughly shouldered it aside. "Woman," he said
curtly, "did you see a short, limping man go past here just now?"
Number One nodded and pointed up the street. "He went that
way," she said helpfully.
Without so much as a blink, the loathesome horde charged off
up the street. Again, the Order of the Cross-Post wasn't known
for turning out geniuses.
Wearily, Number One turned and went the other way, wincing
every time she brought down her right foot. She was leaving a
trail of blood, and even the moronic acolyte couldn't fail to
eventually notice and follow. She had to find someplace to lay
up, and soon. She was beginning to feel faint, and it felt like her
right boot was filling up with blood.
She staggered and sagged against a wall as the edges of her
vision started to blur. With a shake of her head, she plodded a
few more paces, at last falling against a door, unable to go any
further. In the distance, she could hear guttural cries of "RADW
Moderation Straw Poll!" and "Build your own cable descrambler!"
getting closer. With fumbling fingers, she dug a handful of .357
rounds out of her pocket and set about trying to reload the
Magnum. If she couldn't run any more, then she'd at least go
out on her own terms, with five shots for the enemy and one for
herself. Far better a death by her own hand than the torments
the Spamites would inflict.
Her fingers felt numb, and her movements as slow as Christmas.
She fumbled, and the pistol clattered to the pavement. Despair-
ing, she fell back against the door, praying silently for a miracle.
That was when the door opened, and she fell back inside.
"Hewwo," a voice said from right behind her head. "You wook
sowt of wike my fwiend."
Turning over slightly, Number One was startled to see a little
child, not more than two years old, intently staring at her. He
had piercing little black eyes and black hair cut square except for
a narrow ponytail that fell to just below his diaper, a diaper which
appeared to have a coyote's tail fastened to it.
"Your friend?" Number One asked tiredly.
"Mm-hm," the boy nodded. "'Cept she don't know she's my
fwiend. I just watch." The boy toddled around to her wounded
leg, watching with avid interest as a drop of blood dripped
through her jeans and onto the carpet. "You have a booboo,"
he said solemnly. With great deliberateness, he poked at the
cut, sending bright sparks of pain through her body. "Does that
huwt? That wooks wike that huwts a wot." He poked her again.
"AAIGH! Hell yes it hurts!" Number One panted a little as the
pain sent a spurt of adrenaline through her, rousing her slightly.
She crawled over and shut the door, then turned back to look at
the kid, who was still staring at her leg in morbid fascination.
"I think you'we going to bweed to death," the boy said after a
moment. "I've nevew seen anybody do that. Can I watch?"
Number One didn't hear, as she was struggling to sit up against
the nearest wall. Everything was getting fuzzy, and sounds were
tending to fade in and out. "Who are you?" she asked muzzily.
"And where am I?"
"I'm Coyote," the toddler replied matter-of-factly. "That's my
name, not Adwic, 'kay? And you'we in the Cweche."
"The wha--?" she asked. She blinked her eyes to try and bring
everything back into focus, but everything was getting dark and
fading at the edges.
The little boy giggled at her expression. "You'we funny!" He
appeared to think for a moment. "You pwobabwy wouldn't be as
funny if you bwed to death, so maybe I should go get Hawwy."
He shrugged. "I can awways watch you bweed some othew time."
As he turned to toddle away, the darkness finally closed in.
"Urgghh..." Number One blinked and tried to sit up, but didn't
quite have the strrength yet.
"Nope, nope. _Wake_ up, but don't _get_ up."
She looked around from her supine position, finally noticing the
group of youngsters standing at her side. None of them looked
to be over three years old, and they all looked vaguely familiar,
in some strange way, especially the little girl with curly brown
hair who was packing up a box labelled 'My First Chemistry Set'.
"Yay!" exclaimed a little girl with frizzy red hair. "The operation
was a success! I wanna be the nurse next time!"
"Of course it was a success," rasped an extremely ugly baby in a
roller-chair. "The bestestest scientific mind of the Kaled race
was involved, so how could it fail?"
"Hey, it's not like you did it all by yourself, Davros." This from a
serious-looking little girl with a lab coat on over her nappy.
Number One just shook her head in puzzlement. She noticed
something odd about her right leg, and looked down to see that
the pantsleg had been cut away and the wound on her calf rather
neatly bandaged with what looked like Pokemon Adhesive
Bandages. She started to reach out to touch it, and found her
arm restrained by the presence of an IV tube.
"Oh," said the little boy who'd told her not to get up. "We can
take that out, now." A chubby little hand deftly removed the
needle and clapped a Pikachu Bandage on the spot.
"Huh-- wha-- what happened? Who did this?"
The little group of toddlers was all smiles, even the Davros-baby.
"We did," the little boy announced. "After Coyote came and got
us, we decided it'd be fun to play Doctors and Nurses and see if
we could fix you." The boy's cheeks reddened with pride. "Liz
and me got your leg stitched up, but you'd lost a lot of blood, so--"
"So I, the great and super-duper smart Davros, built a transfusion
device," the roller-chair baby declared. He gestured grandly at a
complicated-looking Erector Set construction that had what
seemed to be several empty juice containers in it.
Liz shook her finger at him. "Maybe you did, but if Nyssa hadn't
synthesized that artificial blood in her chemistry set, a fat lot of
good that would have done."
"You... kids... did all this?"
"Was that not what the brilliant Davros and his assistants just
told you?" Baby Davros snapped.
"Who's an assistant?" demanded Baby Nyssa as she walloped
him with her Nerf Mallet.
Number One rubbed at her forehead. "This is all just _too_
weird. Somebody is going to need to tell me just who you all are
and what this place is..." A sudden memory clicked in her mind.
"But not right now," she said hurriedly, and started to try to get
up again. "I was being followed, and I need to--"
"They alweady came by," Baby Coyote interrupted, wandering
over to stare with some disappointment at her bandaged leg.
"--I need... eh... what?"
"They alweady came by," the weird toddler repeated. "But they
wewen't vewy nice. We had to get the toybox."
"The... huh?" Number One felt herself slowly but surely getting
hopelessly lost in this conversation.
Baby Liz stepped in to help. "While we were playing... er... fixing
you, some nasty people came by, so we got out the toybox. The
toybox... does things... to nasty people sometimes."
Number One shivered. "What... kind of 'things'?"
The toddlers shuffled in place nervously. "Well," Baby Liz
began, "it, uh... Hey! Ace, come here a minute! Show the nice
lady your new action figure."
Number One started to protest that she didn't have time to look
at toys, but something about the shape of the action figure in
Baby Ace's grasp seemed awfully familiar. She took a closer
look as the child held it out to her.
A single red eye over a fang-filled mouth. Long, boneless arms
tipped with barbed claws, one of which had a tiny spot of red at
"See?" said Baby Ace eagerly. "When you press the button on
his back, he talks. Like this..."
"Earn $$$ surfing the net," the thing said in a tinny, monotonous
As Number One looked at the toy, and at the happy little children,
she couldn't decide whether to laugh or scream...
A very small girl in a diaper and 'Star Blazers' t-shirt crawled
over, plucked the action figure from Ace's hand, and immediately
stuck it in her mouth and started sucking on it. A moment later
she spat it back out with a look of disgust. "Icky," she declared.
"Tastes like spam."