Chapter Twenty Four

The Doctor and his three companions stepped outside the TARDIS and looked around.

"Herpetoria," the Doctor said to his companions while he closed the door. "A reptilian planet. Snake people, to be precise."

"And we're here because…" Martha said.

"Because…we've never been to a snake planet before?" the Doctor said. "Because this is something to do?"

"Because we might get bit by a flippin' great cobra?" Donna said.

"Nonsense, these people are civilized," the Doctor said. "They won't bite you if you don't bite them. Come on."

"Remind me to keep my teeth to myself then," Martha muttered to Donna while they followed the Doctor.

The TARDIS landed at the outskirts of a town. The buildings where short and domed and made of dried mud with circular window as well as a circular door. The roads were made of cobblestones. Several people were walking in between the buildings. All of them were humanoid snakes of different species. They had human-like bodies with snake heads and scales for skin. The snakes were all flicking their tongues in and out while they walked, sniffing the air. Most of the people were wearing colored robes and leather sandals, although the children were naked. While they were walking by one of the buildings, a cobra man stepped out in front of them and nearly collided with them. His hood raised and he hissed at them angrily. The Doctor apologized and for a moment the women thought he was going to attack them. But he lowered his hood and with a last sullen look at them headed away.

"There, you nearly got bitten by a flippin' great cobra," Rose said to Donna.

"Don't remind me," Donna said.

While they explored the town, several of the residents stopped and stared at them, sniffing their scent with their tongues. A black snake stepped forward. He was wearing a purple robe with gold trim.

"Who might you be?" he said to them.

"I'm the Doctor. These are my friends, Rose, Donna and Martha."

"I am Banessss," the snake hissed. "It isss not often that we have visssitorssss here."

"We're travelers," the Doctor said. "We love to explore and see new worlds."

"Ah, then you are mossst welcome here," Banes said. "Perhaps you would like to dine with me? I was jusssst going home for lunch."

"We would be honored," the Doctor said.

"Just as long as we don't have to eat dead rats or mice or things like that," Donna muttered to Rose and Martha while they followed Banes to his house.


"Wow, this is brilliant," the Doctor said when they stepped inside Banes's house.

The house had three rooms, all of them with domed ceilings. The furniture was made of wood and in the corner was a fire pit with a wood spit over it. The spit had something that looked like a rabbit roasting on it. Banes checked it and turned the spit while adding wood to the fire. When the flame flared up, he went into the other room. He returned a few minutes later carrying a wooden tray with four wooden bowls on it containing a milky liquid. He sat it down on a wooden table near the fire pit and gestured for them to come and sit on wooden stools around it. The Doctor and his companions sat down on the stools and Banes told them to take a cup of milk and drink some while he finished lunch. Donna took a bowl and made a face while she stared at the watery liquid inside it.

"Is it safe?" she said in a hushed voice to the Doctor.

The Doctor stuck a finger in the bowl and licked the milk off his finger.

"Mmm, it's delicious. Spiced with cinnamon, at least that's what it tastes like."

He chugged the contents of the bowl while his companions watched. A few drops of milk dribbled down his chin and he wiped them away while he sat his bowl down. He gave a satisfied little burp and looked at his companions. The three women stared at him for a moment, expecting him to keel over dead from poisoning but the Doctor urged them to drink and Rose finally picked up her bowl and took a tiny taste. Rose licked her lips and drank more.

"It must be good if Rose is willing to drink it," Martha said to Donna.

"Or she's just pleasing her boyfriend," Donna said, gesturing to the Doctor.

"Or she really does like the taste of it," the Doctor said. "Drink up."

Rose sat the bowl down and smacked her lips.

"It's good. It really does have a cinnamon taste to it," she said. "Try it and see."

Donna and Martha picked up their bowls and were about to take a sip when the Doctor suddenly stuck his hand out.

"No, wait, stop!" he said.

Donna and Martha gave him confused looks, watching while the Doctor got to his feet. He swayed and stepped back to keep from falling and Donna sat her bowl down when she noticed he looked a bit groggy.

"Doctor?" Martha said, setting her bowl down.

"Don't drink…" the Doctor muttered while he gripped the table.

"What'd you do to him?" Martha demanded as she rose to help him.

Banes didn't answer and Donna saw a smirk on his face while the Doctor sank to his knees.

"Get…Rose…out of here," the Doctor said, blinking his eyes when they blurred.

Rose gulped hard and stared at the empty bowl in front of her, frightened that she really did drink poison. She got up from the table and instantly became dizzy. Donna jumped up and Rose gripped her shoulder.

"I feel dizzy," Rose said, putting a hand to her temple.

"What'd you do to them?" Donna demanded while the Doctor slowly sank back onto the floor.

"I put a sleeping draught in their bowls. Unfortunately, you didn't drink it along with them. Which means I have to render you unconscious in other ways."

"Martha…Donna…run!" the Doctor said in a weak voice as his world started growing dark.

"Run, Donna," Rose said as she started to sink to the floor. "You and Martha, run."

Donna and Martha glanced at each other, unsure what to do for a moment until Banes started coming towards them. Banes hissed when Donna and Martha decided it was better not to get caught and come back for their friends and they ran out the door. By now the Doctor was unconscious and Rose was lying on the floor, rapidly following him into the darkness. Banes walked over to her and stood over her, silently gloating.

"What…do…you…want…with…us?" Rose forced out of her cottony mouth as her world started growing dark.

"You and your friend are going to be part of my experiment," she heard him say before losing consciousness.

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