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|Part of:||Short Trips: The Solar System|
|Reprinted in:||Short Trips: Re:Collections|
|Short Trips short stories|
Soon, about twenty nicely-dressed people approach. Charley is a bit nervous, but the people pass them by, ignoring them. A woman approaches, trying to put on her earring, and she stops to chat. The Doctor, through skillful conversation, learns from the woman, who calls herself Scarlet, that their host is the famous artist Mr Aristede, who has invited several people to his last exhibition. Charley and the Doctor accompany Scarlet to the reception, where the Doctor tries to make conversation but is snubbed by everyone present.
Mr Aristede makes his appearance and unveils a huge viewscreen. Charley and the Doctor realise they are on a spaceship that is approaching Venus.
When Mr Aristede mingles with his guests, the Doctor tries to get close to ask a few questions. However, he suddenly realises that the spaceship is alive and can't help commenting on it. Mr Aristede finds the Doctor amusing and invites him to sit beside him at dinner.
During dinner, the guests watch Mr Aristede's exhibition: he has placed several bombs across the gaseous surface of Venus which cause beautiful gas storms that will last for a thousand years. The Doctor now understands that Mr Aristede intends to crash the ship into Venus and tries to warn the guests. Their awareness of this and their lack of concern convinces the Doctor that they are all here to die. He explains to Charley that they are dying from a genetic plague. They hope to see the surface of Venus before they die. Charley is appalled and tries to talk them out of it, but the Doctor quietly leads her away.
Later they discuss human curiosity and the desire to explore. Charley remembers her own adventures.
- Mr Aristede serves champagne at the reception.
- Scarlet was running late because her watch stopped.
- Mr Aristede's walking stick is made from ivory.
- This story was reprinted in Short Trips: Re:Collections.