The Doctor looked out of the mirrored window at the assembled news teams, collected on the street outside like flies on a rotting corpse, and shook his head.
‘What do they hope to achieve?’ He mused aloud, ‘How many scenes of a redbrick frontage will their viewers stomach before rising up against the state-sponsored propaganda machine in rebellion?’
He was a veteran, he had served in the military for several years, and had been recruited into the Royal Household many years ago. It was an honour to serve and his senior position filled him with pride. He had overseen the past half dozen Royal births and was something of an ‘old hand’ at the delicate procedure.
The private suite was entirely populated by the vetted and the security cleared, even if they weren't exactly ‘his kind of people’ they could be trusted. Nothing that they heard or saw would go any further than these four walls – Especially after what happened last time, a tragic incident, but a lesson in security. Every outsider was checked and double checked. Every protocol for every eventuality was drummed into them, consequences were explained, and ominous threats were made towards their extended family.
There was a quiet knock from behind him and a young nurse sheepishly poked her head around the door.
‘It’s time Sir. She’s ready.’
He turned and nodded curtly, took one last look down at growing, baying, throng and moved sinuously into the orange light of the stiflingly hot delivery room. She lay there on the bed, her gown gathered lazily around her waist.
‘Are you ready My Lady?’ He regarded her distended stomach, ‘He looks like he’s going to be a big boy, do you require any pain relief?’
She looked up at him with her huge eyes, her mouth gaped slightly and her tongue darted out, wetting her upper lip.
‘Yes…’ She panted, ‘and water.’
He turned to the nurse and barked, ‘Fifty CCs of medetomidine hydrochloride, administered here, to the base of the throat, then fetch the scoop.’
Passing the gravid Duchess a bulb of water, which she immediately squeezed into her mouth and swallowed hungrily, he ran his hand across her expansive, dry forehead and into her ear, checking that her pulse was steady. He looked at each member of the team one by one and nodded.
‘Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to bring the newest member of the Royal brood into this cold, harsh world. If all goes well, pray to Dazbog, and thank him for the blistering basking sun that he has given us this day… If all does not, pray for yourselves.’
He held his breath and delicately inserted the birthing scoop between the scales of her cloacal opening, applying just enough gentle pressure with the serrated edge to rupture the skin of the amniotic sac. Once the wash of hot fluid had drained from the table and onto the floor, he reached into the cavity and lifted out the baby. His scales glistened like stars in the glow of the heat-lamps and his pronounced brow ridge pulsed with life.
‘He is beautiful my lady, eight toes, six fingers, two opposable digits and...’ He turned the baby around, ‘...a perfect tail. What will you call him?’
The Duchess thought for a while and then answered, ‘I will name him after his Uncle, he will be called “Zod” amongst the true people.’
The doctor raised the new-born above his head, his pronounced snout almost touching the infra-red bulbs on the ceiling.
‘Mighty Dazbog! Lord who watched over us on our long flight to this world. I call upon you to look now to your newest worshiper Zod, third in line to the throne of our soon to be Empire, conqueror of lands, despoiler of forests, maker of deserts and the heater of this dirt-world.’ He looked down at the mother, panting on the bed, ‘What would you have the apes call Him?’
‘I don’t know, his Father can decide that, it is of no great importance.’ She yawned sleepily as both sets of eyelids closed over her scarlet eyes, 'Perhaps Arthur?'
Overhead, the bright sun had been replaced by a roiling cloud, and in the distance, there was a faint peal of thunder.