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Chapter 11 - Can’t Trace Time by A.J. Hall

Petrova Comienski stamped her foot. “This is ridiculous.”

“No.” The herm looked up from its preparations. “This is an ordinary professional risk. In my profession, anyway. I’m a soldier of fortune, after all. Death is my business. I can’t remember how many people I’ve killed. Does that give you a problem?”

“Give the kid a break.” Owen slid onto the bench beside Bel. “She can’t be that long out of medical school.” He put his head on one side. “Me, now, I was in the NHS eight years. Trained at the Royal London - stint at Guy’s - bit at the Mayday out near Purley - God, that was grim. Even Torchwood One wouldn’t have tackled their Petri dishes. It’s life, Jim, but not as they know it North of the river. And given that background - hell, hand on heart, I can’t say how many I’ve killed. God’s honest truth. And does that give you a problem?”

Bel laughed. “So. You’re the big man here. In that case - steal me a heavy stunner, would you? Something with attitude. I’ve gotten tired of being out-gunned and out-manoeuvred. And get me a hypospray of fast-penta as well as one of retcon, please. And the antagonist and allergy patches, too, for the fast-penta.”

“Fast-penta?” Petrova sounded as if she was hyper-ventilating. “Every time I go to Vorsoisson even for basic analgesics I expect him to demand that I go down on my bended knees before he gives them to me. How the hell do you expect me to clear truth serums with him?”

Owen lifted his hand from the plate of the portable comconsole he’d been balancing on his lap. “Already done, sweetheart. They’ll send them round within the hour. Shockingly careless with their passwords, admin staff, I’ve found.”

He got to his feet and turned. “Happy about the door?”

Bel rose and laid its palm against the code-pad in the wall. The door to the secure patient quarters - the human race, Owen reflected, had not lost its ability to coin euphemisms in the last few millennia - hissed obediently open in response.

“I’ll stand it.”

Owen nodded. “I’ll be monitoring the security vids. But - any problems, hit the screamer on your com-link.” He raised his wrist. “I’m wearing the other half. No response in two seconds - well, the main hospital alarm system’s two paces to the left of that door. Hit it and if no-one comes after that - “

“Kill them all. God will know her own.” There was a frightening berserker calm about Dr Comienski once she had made her mind up to the battle. Briefly the old saying about necromancy sprang to Owen’s mind.

Let the demons you raise be no more than half the strength of the demons you know you can banish.

The herm’s face was a study in calm.

“So,” it said, “now we go to war.”