"Penguin from Hell."
"What was that?" Tegan asked as the three marched along ahead
of the icy-eyed nun, each all-too-aware of the gun pointed at
"Penguin from Hell," the Doctor repeated. "Unless I'm very much
mistaken, that is what Sister Roxanne is. That is, a Sister of the
Order of Saint Wanda-Sue, more commonly known in the Galaxy
as the Penguins from Hell." Without breaking stride, he called
back over his shoulder, "Isn't that so, Sister?"
"We dislike the nickname, but you are correct, sinner." Sister
Roxanne's voice betrayed no feeling one way or the other, just
that same cordial lethality. "And do keep your hands raised
as you enter the cell."
The Doctor, Nyssa, and Tegan did as they were ordered, not
lowering their hands until the door had slid shut behind them
and they heard the snap of the lock engaging.
"We have many concerns at the moment, sinners," the nun said
through a narrow slot in the door, "but we shall get to you soon
enough. I suggest you spend this time in contemplation of what
confession you will wish to make." With that, she turned and
strode briskly away.
"Rabbits," Tegan muttered. "I heard Catholic school was tough,
Nyssa sat down on one of the cell's two bunks. "So, Doctor.
What was that you were saying about Pigeons from Hell?"
"It's a short story by Robert E. Howard," the Doctor replied. "It's
actually a lot better than the title implies. But, I was talking about
_Penguins_ from Hell. The Order of Saint Wanda-Sue. The
Catholic Church's equivalent of US Navy SEALs. Their story is
really quite interesting..." Getting comfortable, he began to tell
them the old tale.
Wanda-Sue Heitzenraeder had been a Sergeant in the Imperial
Space Marines Special Forces back in the 26th Century and one
of the most-decorated soldiers of her era. She had once earned a
medal for taking over a Sontaran destroyer by boarding it and
head-butting its crew into submission one-by-one. It had thus
come as a surprise to many people when, after twenty years of
military service, she had retired and joined a convent off in the
Galactic boondocks on the planet Athmir. For the next three
years, Sister Wanda-Sue devoted herself to doing missionary
work, spreading the Gospel and providing care and assistance to
the peaceful little natives.
That changed when Athmir was invaded by the neighboring
human colony world of Caranthia. The Athmirians lacked all
means of self-defense, and suffered horribly at the hands of the
conquerors. At length, a troop of Caranthian soldiers came to
the village where Sister Wanda-Sue worked, with orders to burn
the place to the ground. Wanda-Sue pleaded with them to spare
the people, begged them on her knees, and appealed to their
senses of honor and compassion.
When they wouldn't listen, Wanda-Sue Heitzenraeder killed the
entire platoon with an ice pick.
This was the beginning of what the Caranthians came to call
The Penguin War. Sister Wanda-Sue assembled a band of her
fellow nuns and trained them in the ways of combat, so that they
could defend the helpless Athmirians. At first, they concentrated
on repelling assaults on their villages, but later went on the off-
ensive against the Caranthian strongholds, at last compelling the
mass surrender at Dan Ban Fooey that effectively ended the war
six years later.
At this point, the Church found itself in possession of a body of
ruthless, battle-hardened guerrilla nuns who no longer had a war
to fight and were no longer suited to the normal routine of con-
vent life. Pope Waldo III, after much thought, hit on the idea of
using them as missionaries in environments that were too danger-
ous for ordinary people to survive. Soon, mission stations were
going up in forsaken hellholes from Skaro to the South Bronx
and the Church's coffers began overflowing with contributions
from non-believers who nonetheless took to heart the Order's
motto: 'Charity is good. Charity is universal. Giving to charity
means that we won't hit you in the head with an axe handle.'
Sister Wanda-Sue was cannonized after her death. Per her
expressed wishes, she was cremated and her ashes loaded into
an artillery shell that was then fired from a cannon into a besieged
Much, much later, she was Canonized and made a Saint.
The Doctor finished his tale, drowned out slightly by the increas-
ing hum of the ship's engines and the increasing buzz of his
companions' snoring. "Well, _I_ thought it was interesting," he
The door hissed open just then, revealing two armed crewmembers,
a fair-haired young man and a female Draconian, neither of whom
wore anything resembling a nun's habit. Stranger and stranger...
The young man's eyes widened as he noticed Nyssa and Tegan
waking up and stretching. "Whoa, babes," he muttered. "I hope
at least one of them's straight. It really sucks that the only chicks
aboard are a dyke, a nun, and a lizard."
"Grease your head and jump up my ass, Monkey-boy," the Drac-
onian replied easily. To the Doctor, she said, "The Captain will
see you three on the bridge now. If you feel the need to try and
jump us and make a break for it on the way, please make sure
you shoot Johnson when you do." She indicated her companion
with a jerk of her thumb.
"We wouldn't do anything like that," the Doctor hastily assured
her. "We're just innocent passerby."
The reptile-woman seemed disappointed to hear this. "Fine. Be
like that. Let's just go, then, okay?"