Siege Mentality was the second story in the Bernice Summerfield anthology Something Changed. It was written by James Swallow.

Summary Edit

Benny is shocked by the devastation caused by the history machine. Damage has expanded far beyond the Collection, destroying some of the orbiting ships. Benny and Jason help to repair a broken water pipe.

Benny finds her pupil, Parasiel, and they discuss food rations. He informs her that Café Vosta is donating some food. Bev Tarrant angrily approaches Benny and drags her to Adrian's bed in the makeshift infirmary. His face is wrapped in nano-bandages, and it is likely that he will die. Bev blames Benny for not properly overseeing Doggles' experiment.

Benny tries to convince Doggles to assist in the relief efforts, but he is too absorbed with worrying about how he will be blamed for the incident.

Benny walks in on Hass and Braxiatel discussing the Martian negotiations. Hass is trying to warn Brax that his brother, Sset, will take offence to Braxiatel's failure to communicate. After Hass leaves, Benny tries to inform Brax of the chaos outside, but Brax seems uninterested. Benny gets upset at Brax's nonchalance towards the whole incident. Hass suspects that the history machine is the cause of Brax's odd behaviour.

Transport ships begin to land, delivering supplies. Doggles runs to the ships, trying to bribe the crew to let him on, however, as he approaches, the ship opens up and drops hundreds of snake like creatures. The creatures begin to make their way across the Collection, seemingly looking for something.

Benny tells Brax about the panic on the Collection, but she finds him working in a laboratory on some kind of bomb. He remarks that what is going on outside is of no importance.

Jason, Parasiel, and Doggles are almost killed by the snake creatures, but Hass uses his hoe to cut the creatures in half. Hass informs them that these creatures are clades, a type of autonomous battlefield weapon. Hass suspects that they were sent by his brother to recover the lost artefacts.

Benny and Jason decide it would be best if everyone went to the Mansionhouse, as it is presumably the safest place on the planetoid. First, however, Benny and Bev have to pick up the children from the school. On the way there, they continue to quarrel. Meanwhile, Brax reluctantly lets people into his Mansionhouse. The interior of the Mansionhouse changed and expanded to fit everyone in.

Doggles took some of the Martian artefacts and decided to give them to the clades as a way to save the collection and redeem himself. By opening the doors to the outside, however, he allowed the clades to begin pouring in the only safe haven on the planetoid, and he is consumed by the clades in the process.

Brax decides it's time to detonate the bomb he was working on, a reality bomb. Benny refuses, and knocks Brax out before destroying the bomb. Hass gives the artefacts to the clades, as this is the only way to keep people alive. The clades finally retreat. Hass gets contacted by his brother and Hass expresses his disapproval over Sset's actions.

Because Jason's leg was wounded in the chaos, Hass takes Peter to his mother, and as they sit outside by the ornamental fountain, they worry about the fact that the aid ships were destroyed and food is running low.

Characters Edit

References Edit

  • Joseph gets retrofitted for medical duties.
  • Jason mentions a gravity leak on the planetoid, referring to the fact that KS-159 has an artificial gravity field.
  • Peter has a Vooti classmate.
  • The socially inept student Jess Carter commits suicide in this alternate timeline.
  • Braxiatel's TARDIS can rearrange its interior, and seeing it happen makes Benny reminisce about her time travelling with the Seventh Doctor.
  • One of the Martian artefacts was a carved piece of Phobos obsidian.

Notes Edit

  • Like most of the other stories in this anthology, this story takes place in an altered timeline created by Doggles' history machine; these timelines are (mostly) erased when Braxiatel returns things to normal.

Continuity Edit

  • While talking to Hass, Braxiatel stares closely at his reflection in a mirror. This may be related to the artefact in AUDIO: The Mirror Effect or to the mirror in AUDIO: The Crystal of Cantus, which Braxiatel uses to communicate with his future self.
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