Disclaimer. Only the storyline and some of the characters are mine.. All the others you know and love, are the imaginative products of other, more intelligent and wealthy people.
This one’s been difficult. Sorry for the delay…
The events in this chapter deal with the catastrophe of July 7th 2005 and I couldn’t let the date pass without adding a piece into the storyline. Terrorist actions claimed the lives of 52 London commuters, injured 700 more, and traumatised the nation.
On a personal note, my own daughter was caught up in the events at Aldwych station. Although not directly involved, she worked nearby at the time, and had left the station moments before the blast occurred, and called us to assure us she was alright, even before the news had broken via the media. Since then she has refused to travel by tube and has moved out of London.
I hope I’ve dealt with it in an appropriate manner.
Chapter Sixty One.
It was still dark outside as Willow’s astral form wandered through the neat, quiet house, checking for security devices. She checked the clock. It was three a.m. She silently glided through the bedroom door and saw the sleeping form of Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, peacefully dreaming of whatever she dreamt about.
Moving back through the wall she faded from the hallway and then corporeally reappeared in a flash. She looked around, and satisfying herself that her materialisation hadn’t disturbed anything, she pulled out the small piece of Lethe’s Bramble. Cupping it in her hands she softly intoned the specifics of the spell.
“Forget”. Came her command. A brief flash of light moved across the flower and it wilted.
A short sound abolishment spell later, she re-entered the bedroom and secreted the bramble behind the bed frame where it wouldn’t be found or disturbed easily. Then she left by the same way she’d entered.
Sam Carter slept on….
Rio de Janeiro.
Three time zones eastwards, it was six a.m. Willow reappeared, causing Kennedy to look up from her book. They were both seated cross-legged on their bed, facing each other.
“Everything okay?” Asked the brunette slayer.
“Uh huh.” Replied Willow. “When she wakes up she won’t remember anything about our names. It’ll kinda stop any awkward questions about her repeating nursery rhymes.”
“So who does know the truth?”
“The President, Buffy‘s dad, and two Air Force Generals. O’Neill and Hammond.”
“What about that other guy, Barrett?”
“He thinks he fell asleep in the courtesy lounge waiting for Mr Summers to return.”
“So, we’re good then?”
“All good. So far.” Willow confirmed.
Kennedy glanced out of the window. “Suns up. Fancy an early morning swim?”
Willow looked at her sheepishly.
“I, er, I’m sorry I didn’t make it home in time for dinner last night.”
Kennedy raised an eyebrow. “Y’ know, a couple of years ago I’d have probably gone postal over it, but what the hell; you were unavoidably detained by an unforeseen negotiation situation… And it might just help Buffy and Dawn get back together with their dad.”
Willow gave her a sideways look. “Huh? Who are you? And what have you done with my girlfriend?” She accused.
Kennedy shrugged. “I did some thinking, and I came to the conclusion that I can’t play the spoiled little brat all my life. I’ll be twenty-one soon, and I guess it’s about time I grew up.”
She paused and Willow leaned in to kiss her. Kennedy pulled back.
“No…Let me finish…I wanted you here for dinner last night because I wanted it to be romantic; so I could give you this….”
She leaned over and opened the bedside drawer and pulled out a small ring box.
“What’s this?” Willow’s comment was partly amused, partly surprised.
“…This was my Grandmother’s.” Kennedy opened the box and offered it to Willow. Inside was a gold ring with small emeralds set around the band.
“It’s, it’s…beautiful….I, I don’t know what to say…”
“Say you’ll wear it. The emeralds will match your eyes.”
“I’ll wear it….Does this mean we’re….we’re engaged?”
“Not unless you want it to. It means, I love you; and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. However long, or short, that may be.”
Willow grimaced and uttered a small whimper of self doubt. “I, I don’t have anything to give you, not like this, anyway.”
Kennedy shook her head and smiled. “Not true. You’re my Goddess. You’ve given me your Willow magic. Taught me that it’s real, beautiful, and a force to be reckoned with. What more could a girl ask for….”
Isle of Wight.
Upon arrival at the lonely coastal path to the beach, the seven liberated inmates had been escorted down to the beach to a waiting boat. The command offered to the three bringing up the rear had been simple. Lose the bus. No masks had been lifted, and no other words had been spoken. Royce, Parker and Davies had simply nodded and obeyed, and no-one had questioned the three of them leaving together. They couldn’t believe their luck.
Still under cover of darkness they’d driven into a narrow lane not far from the other side of the island and simply left it, blocking the road. A short hike across the fields had brought them to a barn. There they’d settled down and waited for daylight.
As the sun came up they could see the top of a church spire and a few rooftops peeking over a nearby hill.
“Where are we?” Asked Davies.
“Isle of Wight?” Offered Parker.
“Very funny, don’t give up the day job.” Retorted Davies.
Royce moved between them. “Oi, you two. That’s enough. We’re out. Free. And I don’t think anyone’s the wiser. Let’s take advantage of it and get clean away, then you can bicker all you want.” He said.
“Sorry Mike. It’s just… You know….” Said Parker.
“Yeah.. I know. Now. What have we got, and what do we need?” Replied Royce.
They took stock of what was in their hurriedly purloined outfits. Weapons they had. A limited amount of ammunition each, a total of eighty pounds in cash between them, and three single tickets for the ferry back to Southampton.
“What about clothes? I‘m guessing that there‘s a holdall somewhere that these three were supposed to collect.” Said Davies.
“The tickets are limited to travel for today only…It is the seventh, isn’t it?” Queried Parker.
Davies thought for a moment. “Yeah, I heard a couple of the warders talking about holidays yesterday.”
“Right then. We’ve got money, we get clothes, and get the hell out of here. We split up, take different ferries if necessary, and meet up later.” Said Royce.
“Where?” Asked Parker.
“Croydon.” Said Royce, after a moments consideration.
“What…Matt’s old place?” Questioned Davies.
“Yeah. Why not. It wasn’t listed in any of the things they took from us. I figure it’s the last place they’ll look. Usual precautions though. No chances.” Replied Royce.
“Is there an alternate?” Parker asked.
Royce gave him an incredulous look. “Yeah. Walk back to Cotterdam and give yourself up…” Parker didn’t answer, so Royce continued. “…I thought not. Look. There’s money, papers and equipment in Croydon that we need. After that we head north.”
“What about that redhead?” Said Parker.
“Forget about her, Carter and that Summers woman. They’ll obviously think we’re dead. They’re not coming after us, neither are the boys in blue. If we don’t stick around too long, we’re home and dry.”
“Davies stood up. “Come on then. What are we waiting for….”
London. Piccadilly Line Underground.
After a fairly uneventful night David Peterson and Mary Ann Blake were heading back towards her apartment at the American Embassy for some welcome sleep. As the sun had come up they’d been in north London, out near Edmonton along with two teams of slayers who’d cornered a group of vamps that had gained access to a workshop cellar to spend the day in.
A difficult access and the proximity of inhabited buildings had prohibited the use of an extreme method of disposal, such as an incendiary, so the heavy door had needed battering down before access could be gained and the nesters dealt with.
Returning into London, they had one stop to make before they could take their rest. The British Museum. Aubrey Averley, one of Giles’ contacts, had called them the previous afternoon to tell them that an ancient tome had come into his possession, and he was offering it to the WSC for use in their research.
It was now rush hour and commuters were hurrying to get to their places of work. Tube trains were crowded, more so because of the heavy rain that had set in as the day had started.
At eight twenty three, four men had gotten off the train from Luton at Kings Cross. They hugged each other and, as Cctv footage would show later, had seemed happy as they went their separate ways. No-one suspected that they each carried a deadly package of explosives in their backpacks, intentionally embarking on a murderous mission.
One headed eastbound on the Circle Line; one westbound; one initially tried for the Northern Line, then after some deliberation, altered course and took a bus…
…The last one headed for the southbound Piccadilly Line.
David checked his watch. “We‘ll be back at your place by about half nine. Aubrey should be arriving at the museum just about the same time as we will.” He said.
“Good. I really don’t need to hang around too much, I need to empty this and shower.” Replied Mary Ann, patting her side where the colostomy bag was positioned.
It was 08:50.…
The crowded train was just gathering speed as it left Kings Cross station when it jerked violently. There was a deafening roar from the carriage ahead of them, smoke and dust billowed back from the two forward carriages, the lights went out, flashed on and off several times, then everything was plunged into darkness. It lurched, jumped off the rails and hit the walls of the narrow tunnel, showers of sparks creating a stroboscopic effect on the whole scene . Windows shattered, people screamed and were tossed around like rag dolls.
David was standing in the aisle holding onto a handrail when it happened. The sudden deceleration and jolting caused him to lose his grip along with all of the other passengers, and he was flung forward into the pile of screaming people.
Mary Ann was sitting sideways on a bench seat. She shot along the seat, squashing into the woman ahead of her and in turn being slammed by the person seated next to her.
There was a screeching noise from ahead of them, more choking smoke and dust entered the carriage through gaping holes in the roof and sides where the windows used to be.
The whole forward motion stopped as abruptly as it had started, throwing people backwards again. There was a lull in the noise as people caught their breath, then the coughing began, then more screaming, cries for help and moans from the injured.
David coughed at the dust and smoke as he inhaled, then winced, his head and ribs hurt. He tried to move and found he couldn’t, a great weight was pressing down on him.
“Mary Ann! Are you alright!” He shouted, then wished he hadn’t. His head thumped again.
Part of the weight on him shifted, and he realised he was pinned down by people, not debris, someone had lifted themselves off the pile or had been lifted off. He put out his hands out and felt around for some leverage to push himself up. Whoever was on top of him wasn’t moving. There was nothing under his hands only empty space. In the pitch black it was hard to tell which way up he was. He put his hand behind him to check if the person pinning him down was as pinned as him or merely unconscious.
He felt long hair. Tracing it backwards he felt a soft cheek; then something soft…warm…sticky….
He withdrew his hand more quickly than he’d placed it there. He wormed his hand inside his jacket pocket and felt for his phone. It appeared to be still intact. He fumbled at the keys and the screen lit up. In the darkness this dim light suddenly became a beacon to those around and shouts for him to call for help and for assistance almost deafened him.
He turned his head slightly and tried to gauge his surroundings. Beneath him part of the floor was missing and on top of him was a heavily built woman, her blood soaked face and sightless eyes told him that she was dead. As he lifted the phone he could see why; part of her skull was missing. He automatically wretched at the sight but nothing came up, and as he swallowed he coughed, more dust entering his throat.
There was a sound from above him and the woman was rolled off him. A pair of hands grabbed at him and pulled him up from behind.
“You okay mate?” Came a mans voice.
David nodded. “I think so, give me a second. Where’s Mary Ann?”
He ran the dim light of his phone quickly over his body, checking for visible injuries. His clothes were dirty, torn, and he’d lost a shoe somewhere, apart from his head aching and pain from his ribs, he felt okay.
“I’m okay, I think. Sore ribs, probably cracked or something. Thanks.” He said to his rescuer.
He shone the light in the man’s direction. He saw a baby faced twenty something man leaning over him. “Are you alright?” David asked him.
“Couple of bruises. I think I landed on top of everybody. Who’s Mary Ann?”
“My…my friend. We were together at the far end of the carriage.” He said realising that he was now at the crumpled front end of the carriage
“Does that phone work? Call for help if it does.”
David looked at the phone. “I think so, I’ll try.” He knew it would, he just didn’t want to sound too positive in front of a total stranger.
“Yeah. You try that, I’ll look for your friend.”
David pushed three nines on the pad, informed the emergency operator of their predicament, and gave an approximate location. Then he hit the speed dial for the WSC. He needed to alert everyone, but not say something too obvious. Jenny answered at the second ring.
“WSC, Jenny speaking.”
“Jenny, it’s David Peterson. There’s been an accident….”
Mary Ann stirred as she heard her name being called. It was pitch black and people were moaning and crying around her. She was still in her seat, albeit squashed up against the end. She registered pain, felt like she’d gone ten rounds with a S’Volte, she hurt all over. Especially her head.
“C’mon girl you aint dead, not yet.” She muttered to herself.
“Mary Ann, are you there, are you alright?” Came the voice again.. She didn’t recognise the man’s voice.
“Yeah. Who’s that?” She said into the darkness. She sat up and noticed a dim light at the far end of the carriage. A shadow passed in front of it and loomed towards her.
She balled her fists instinctively, ready for any threat.
“Who is it?” She called out again, more forcefully.
The voice got closer. “It’s okay luv. I’m Stuart, Stuart Maitland, I’m a junior doctor. Your friend’s up the other end, trying to call for help.”
“Yeah, I think so. Better than some of the others anyway. You okay?”
She felt herself. There was a wet patch on her side, and she realised what the noxious smell was. “Shit. It’s busted.” She announced.
“My bag…Colostomy bag.”
“Oh. Right. You’re okay otherwise?”
“Yep. Think so.”
“The Lone Star State.” He said. “Long way from home.”
“You bet!. I work here.” She replied. She still couldn’t see his face but he sounded okay.
“Stay still. I’m going to check on the others. I think a lot of them are still unconscious.”
He moved away from her and the light from David’s phone came back into view.
“Davy! I’m okay. I’m back here!” She called out.
“Thank the gods…” Came the response.
There were stirrings from the carriage behind, cries for help and the sounds of people coughing, moaning, and moving about. After letting Jenny know that they were both alright, he found the torch function on his phone and shone it around the carriage. There was a bag lying open on the floor, a small mag-light poking out of it. David plucked up the torch and switched it on, cancelling the light on his phone to conserve the battery.
The scattered people were unusually calm considering the catastrophe that had just occurred. David put it down to the initial shock of the event. He made his way gingerly through to where Mary Ann was and sat next to her. She hugged him and he winced as the pain from his ribs caught him again.
“Oooh, sorry.” She said, comfortingly.
“It’s alright. I think I’ve cracked a couple of ribs. Remind me never to complain at one of Vi’s training sessions ever again.” He answered with a weak smile.
“What time is it?”
David pushed a button on his phone and the screen lit up. “Five past nine.”
“Gonna be late for Aubrey.” She said absently.
“So it would seem…” Replied David.
Red Osprey Ferry. TheSolent.
The wind blasted the side of the ferry and washed spray onto the deck from the white topped waves. All the passengers were inside, partly taking shelter from the gusty weather, and partly because they wanted to hear the latest news on the bombings in London.
Even the crew were distracted enough that no-one noticed the three men whose photos had been the subject of media attention in recent weeks mingling with the passengers. They couldn’t have had a better diversion if they’d organised it themselves.
The nine mile crossing took just fifty five minutes; and once on the mainland, with practised ease, they took individual routes towards Croydon.
After Jenny’s call to them, their shopping day had been cancelled. Dan’s Blackbird had carved through the traffic from Perivale in record time to reach the nearest access point to where David and Mary Ann might be trapped. Dan also received a call from Ed Clewley asking him to report in as soon as possible.
When Dan explained the situation regarding David Peterson, and their intention to see if they could help, Clewley did consider that there might be another agenda, rather than a terrorist connection. It was dismissed when the reports started coming in that two other bombs had exploded at Aldwych Station and Edgware Road.
When told of Buffy’s intention to tag along, Ed was about to remind Dan that technically, he was still a serving officer, and in this instance Buffy’s presence would not be welcomed by the emergency services, Buffy remarked that even if it was a terrorist attack, the targeted locations would still offer any vamps in the underground with an all they could eat buffet.
That settled it. Clewley relented.
Alighting from the bike, Dan lifted the seat and pulled out two police baseball caps from the compartment beneath. Handing one to Buffy he messaged her to keep quiet because of her accent.
“Luvvaduck! They’ll ‘ave me bang to rights they will!” She announced in her best cockney accent. Then she winced as she recalled where she’d heard the accent and the saying before. Molly. Another one who’d not survived Sunnydale.
Fire crews, ambulances, and police were milling around, waiting for initial search teams to report back on the extent of the damage. Dust and soot covered peopled were emerging from the exits and pouring out over the pavements, only to be greeted by the emergency services questioning them as to their injuries, names, etcetera.
The two leather clad motorcyclists wearing police caps slipped through without too much problem, not even needing to utilise Buffy’s disappearing trick.
As they entered the station there was the all too familiar sound of an explosion somewhere behind them, people screamed and took to their heels in panic….
The time was 09:47.…
David and Mary Ann had sat for a few moments, collecting their thoughts and considering how lucky they’d been.
“We should be trying to get out of here.” Said David.
“Yeah, but which way is out.” Replied Mary Ann.
David shone the torch first towards the front of the carriage, then to the rear. Both were crumpled by the impact, making it near impossible to go either way. They stood and tried moving some of the debris so as to gain better access but it was all twisted and jammed together.
“There’s never a slayer around when you need one.” Commented David, quietly.
Stuart Maitland called out to them from a woman he was attending to, pulling their attention back to the middle of the carriage.
“Can you find me something to make a splint from, this lady’s got a broken leg.”
They looked around, Mary Ann picked up a couple of pieces of handrail that had come adrift and passed them to the medic, then tore some strips of cloth so that they could be secured.
“You’re good. You do this often?” She asked.
“Been in A and E for the last six months. I was beginning to think I’d seen it all, stabbings, gunshot wounds….”
“You’ve never seen it all.” Mary Ann replied, pointedly.
“Now you tell me.” Stuart grinned, his teeth gleaming white in the light of the torch against his dirty face. “You seem to know what you’re doing as well. Where did you train?”
“I was in the military before I was discharged, I got wounded.”
“This sort of thing is more in your line of work then. War zone field operations.” He said.
“Kinda. Been a while though.” She replied.
More people in the carriage were getting over their initial shock and starting to look at how they might get out, some were crying openly; even the men.
In one corner a discussion was being held as to which way to go and the decision was taken that the best way was to go toward the rear as it was less damaged than the front end.
David assisted several of the other men in clearing a path to the next carriage,it was easier with several of them working together, and his ribs didn’t feel as bad as he‘d first suspected. Mary Ann continued to help Stuart with the injured, it transpired that there were actually only two fatalities in the carriage, the woman that had had her head smashed open and a man who had been crushed underneath everyone else…
Filtering past firemen in breathing apparatus, Paramedics, and London Underground rescue teams Buffy and Dan made their way into the Piccadilly Line tunnel from St. Pancras Station. As they’d entered the station they were handed hard hats and hi-vis jackets to wear. Apart from the emerging people covered in dust, some with injuries being assisted by others, the tunnel seemed ordinary. Lights were being set up powered by portable generators as the power in the tunnels had been turned off so that no-one got electrocuted by the live rail.
The exiting people thinned out some way into the tunnel and, there were more men and paramedics waiting for the next group to emerge.
After some five hundred yards they neared the rear of the end carriage and came across a group of similarly dressed rescue workers who were discussing the assessment of the damage and the best way to proceed. Three others were moving through the train. Buffy and Dan separated slightly as they approached, because the feeling washed over them both simultaneously. There was at least one vampire somewhere close by.
Hank’s apartment. Washington DC.
Unless he’d had to pull an all nighter, Hank had always been an early riser. This morning was no different, except that it was even earlier than usual, the thoughts buzzing around his head wouldn’t leave him alone. He sat at his desk with pen poised, trying to put them onto paper. It was more difficult than he’d imagined, as several screwed up pieces of paper scattered about his desk bore witness to.
A brief conversation with President Hayes and General Hammond had given him the go ahead to divulge a certain amount of information, nothing technical, and nothing specific about the planets he’d visited during his time off-world. All that would come later…
His conversation with Willow had confirmed that they knew a certain amount about the Stargate already, although he still wasn’t sure how. Willow was playing that very close to her chest.
He rubbed his eyes, rose, poured himself another cup of coffee, and stood looking out of the window at the early morning joggers in the park.
He mused on where he should begin…
“At the beginning, where else.” He muttered.
As he returned to the desk, swept the scrap into the basket, and picked up his pen, another thought crossed his mind. “And keep it simple…stupid.”
Dear Buffy and Dawn, He wrote.
I’m guessing that you probably hate me right about now, after all I haven’t been much of a father to you both in the last ten years, and for that, you’d be justified.
To coin a phrase, hindsight is twenty-twenty, so I suppose I’d better try to explain how I came to be in this situation in the first place.
I was recruited in college, one of my professors was an assessment agent for the department. His job was to throw aptitude tests at unsuspecting students to see who was capable. Something in my answers must have given them the impression that I’d be good at this.
Your mom didn’t know anything about what I did. I tried to get permission to tell her, especially after the sanatorium incident Buffy, but they deemed her too much of a security risk, something about some of the friends she had; in fact, that coupled with your revelations, was the nail in the coffin as far as my boss was concerned. I wish I’d listened to you then.
He ordered me to get a divorce and to cut contact to a bare minimum. He was concerned that your ranting would draw attention to the new project I’d been seconded to. I had to make up the affair with another woman, lie convincingly to you all, cause arguments, and generally give everyone the impression that I didn’t care. All so that I could ensure no-one would come after you to get to me.
I’m sorry I wasn’t ‘here’ when your mom died, I was away on a ‘trip’ and a colleague was covering for me, I didn’t find out until I returned. By that time it was too late. I wasn’t at all pleased that he ignored your calls, you must have been so upset. I mean this from the bottom of my heart, I miss her too, I still loved her, even though we weren’t together.
I’ll mention no names, but it has to be some sort of karma, I learned recently that the man in question is also dead, caught doing something he shouldn’t in Africa I believe; and my former boss is currently under house arrest after causing an international incident. I believe that some friends of yours may have had something to do with effecting that. Thank you. You’ve made friends here already, and they’ve never met you.
There have been times when I wish things could have been different, situations that I though I wasn’t going to be able to get out of, and things I’ve missed, like birthdays, prom events, graduations, Christmas, and generally seeing the two of you grow into the beautiful young women you undoubtedly now are.
I have tried to call you both whenever I’ve been able to, but I always seemed to get the answering machine, and since Sunnydale disappeared off the map, I havent had a number for you. I’ve enclosed a card with my number on. If you want to call me, you can. Anytime, day or night. I’m not going anywhere in the next few months.
Some of the things I’ve been doing I can’t write about, but if we could meet, I am allowed to tell you. A lot of it is technical, and some of it is about far away places, if you know what I mean.
I’m truly sorry if I’ve caused you any hurt, it was never my intention to be so far away for so long, but orders are orders, and you don’t just quit a job like mine, it’s a duty.
But then I daresay you know all about duty.
I love you both…And I miss you.
Please, call me.
Tagging. The depiction of a symbol or signature of a street artist. To some, it’s an art form, to the owners of property and the authorities, it’s criminal damage. It just depends on your point of view.
Typical teenagers, that’s what they’d been. But ones with artistic talent, or at least that’s what all their school reports had said.
Muzz, Clakka, and Spida. Those were their ‘tag’ names, and they exercised their right to plant as many of their artistic nameplates over London’s railway carriages, bridges, buildings and tunnel walls as they could. Some of the places where the authorities found their logo’s baffled them as to how they managed to get into such awkward and dangerous places.
Cctv cameras had shown one train to be clean when it left the station. By the time it reached its first stop Clakka’s tag was clearly emblazoned on the side.
Muzz’s tag was appearing in more and more places every day, even on buses, and no-one seemed to see him do it…
Spida’s tag was distinctive, and selective. It only appeared on ceilings and underneath the apex of bridges, and other high up impossible places of access. This made for difficult removal by cleaning teams.
Then, three months ago the rules had changed…
After checking the internet to see which lines were being closed overnight for maintenance, the trio had devised a plan to tag the new station at Westminster. Skirting the work crews they’d made their way down an access tunnel…
…Into the waiting clutches of their sires.
Even though they were now vampires they still ‘tagged’, but it was more to keep the authorities guessing and mark their territory.
Now, this moment, was the time to feed, swell the number of undead for the Senior Partners; and there were a trainload of helpless victims, all alone in the dark….
Nadine Shorthouse alighted from the rear of the taxi and stared up at the imposing façade of the school. The driver took her bags from the boot and stood at her side.
“Impressive place. This is a school? Looks more like a stately home.” He said.
“It used to be.” Replied Nadine, absently.
“Blimey, what happened? Did they just decide to convert it?”
“No, the previous owner died.”
“Oh. I see. The family couldn’t afford to keep it then.”
“No. He had no family.“ She collected her thoughts. “Sorry, how much do I owe you?”
The driver blinked, he was just getting into the conversation. “Er, ten fifty luv.”
She pulled her purse from her bag and fished out fifteen pounds.
“Keep the change.”
“Thanks.” He turned and opened the drivers door. “Good luck.” He added.
She smiled at him and nodded. “Thank you, I‘m going to need it.”
As the taxi drove away two women came out of the door and started down the steps towards her. One she didn’t recognise, and one she did.
“Well, well. Audrey Hartnell. There’s a blast from the past. How are you?”
“I’m fine, Nadine; you’re looking nervous.”
“Wouldn’t you be, under the circumstances.”
“Yes, I suppose I would.
They reached where Nadine stood. Audrey introduced her companion.
“Nadine, this is Julia Wilcox. Receptionist and oracle of all that happens here at Westbury. If you want to know who or what’s happening where, Julia’s your girl.”
The two shook hands, and picked up Nadine’s bags between them.
“Come on in Rupert’s in a meeting at the moment, there’s been an incident in London, couple of our people got caught in it. We’ll get you settled and give you a tour….”
Buffy hung back slightly, so that the vampire wouldn’t sense her approach. Dan skirted the group of officials studying the plans, telepathically messaging to Buffy that they were all human. Then he headed towards the train. The feeling got stronger as he neared, and he passed the information along to Buffy who glanced around to check that no-one was watching, then willed herself invisible.
Dan’s phone rang. He paused in his approach and answered it.
“Daniel, it’s David Peterson. How far away are you. We can’t make any more progress at the moment.”
“Dan didn’t want to let anyone around know that he was talking to someone inside the wreck, so he gave a slightly cryptic answer.
“Dave. Hi… I’m a little busy at the moment, we have a situation here. How’s Mary Ann?…
“She’s fine. There are some people in here that need urgent medical attention though, how long do you think it will be before we‘re rescued?”
“Hard to say. You need to be aware that you might get some undesirable company before we get there. Know what I mean?”
“Undesirable? Oh, right…I’ll keep an eye open, thanks.. I’ll let you get on then.”
Dan snapped his phone shut and moved forward once more, then stopped…
“Hey! Don’t go in there yet, part of the wall has collapsed and it might bring the roof down!” Shouted one of the engineers.
“Tell that to you own lot then, there‘s people in there that that need rescuing, not debate.” Dan replied pointing at the trio disappearing into the forward carriages.
“Get them back.” Came the reply.
Dan didn’t wait around to banter any longer, he climbed up into the end carriage and ran along the asile after the others.
Buffy was already ahead of him, as she caught up to the last workmanlike person she made herself visible again. He turned, suddenly sensing her presence.
“Slayer!” He bellowed. He swung a fist in her direction, his face becoming feral at the same time.
“Slayee.” She chirrped, and ducked the blow. As he overswung and overbalanced , Mr Pointy was plunged into his back.
The other two turned and gaped as their accomplice exploded into dust, then took off up the asile as fast as they could.
They reached the end before Buffy could get near enough, and slammed and locked the adjoining door. They paused for a moment grinning at the approaching slayer, then realising that she wasn’t about to stop, they took off again.
Buffy’s gloved fist shattered the glass window with a single blow and she fumbled for the lock. Unable to unlock it immediately, she wrenched and kicked at the door in a frustrated attempt to open it.
Dan caught up and she felt his calming presence. She took a breath and tried the lock again. It opened, and they both ran to the next locked door and the rapidly disappearing pair of vamps in the carriage ahead.
There was a rumble, the carriage shook, dust and rubble fell through the roof of the carriage between them and the vamps, as part of the tunnel collapsed….
Even though there was only a dim light from the few torches they‘d found, all heads in the carriage turned towards the rear when they heard the rumble of falling debris.
“Are they coming to get us out?” Asked one woman.
“Sounded more like an earthquake.” Replied one of the men. “I was in San Francisco a few years ago when they had a tremor, and it sounded just like that.”
The woman whimpered at the thought of being buried alive.
“Idiot.” Muttered David. “Scare the living daylights out of them why don’t you.”
The man heard him. “I was just saying…”
“…Yeah, we know.” Added Mary Ann, backing David up. She knelt beside the woman. “It’s gonna be okay ma‘am. Davy managed to get a call out. Help is coming. Hold in there.”
There was a screeching of metal from the carriage behind them which halted the murmurings that had started, then peoplestartedcalling out.
“Hey, in here.” Shouted one of the men.
“Help, please.” Called out another.
Several people pushed towards the rear, trying to get to their rescuers, Stuart pushed through and pushed them back.
“Calm down everyone, give them a chance to get through.” He shouted.
They grumbled but did as he said, probably because he’d helped most of them out of the wreckage, and tended their injuries.
David took the opportunity and shone the torch through the small hole that had appeared in the wreckage, he flicked it away as it illuminated the yellow feral eyes of the vampire attempting to gain access.
“Get away!” He shouted. “They’re not here to help us!”
As the dust settled slightly, Dan shone a torch at the pile of rubble that had fallen, assessing how much had come down. There was a small gap near the roofline on one side, and Buffy clambered up to see if the it led anywhere. She reached into the hole and pulled at a piece of masonry that was jutting out, more rubble fell down causing them to jump back.
“It’s not very stable. We‘ll need something to brace it with.” Said Dan, coughing at the dust.
Buffy was already lifting pieces of the carriage panelling to use, Dan assisted her by pulling out broken grab rails and a seat that had come adrift to prop them up with.
Again she climbed up towards the hole. This time the roof held as she pulled out the piece of concrete. she passed it down to Dan who grunted under its weight and dropped it onto the floor.
“There’s a gap. Not much of a gap, but I think I can squeeze through.” She called out.
“What about me?” He asked.
“Doubt it.” She dropped back down to his level. “I gotta go. Those two will eat everyone in sight unless I stop them.”
“I know. Be careful. Please.”
She smiled at him, and kissed him briefly. “Back soon.”
Again she climbed up and disappeared into the hole. Dan heard her scraping earth out of the way as she made her way along the narrow gap.
Driven by the taint of blood in the air, Muzz pulled back the twisted metal, opening up the access to the carriage where David and Mary Ann were. Spida pulled at the other side. From the other side two of the men moved forward to clear away debris that fell down as the gap opened up. David and Mary Ann repeated their plea to stay back but were ignored. Even Stuart was doubting their reasons for saying this now, surely they were being rescued.
One of the men clambered over the gap created when the carriages had separated slightly and put out a hand to Muzz. He was grabbed and yanked across the space forcibly,much to his, surprise.
Spida joined his fellow vampire. They gripped the now screaming man firmly, sinking their fangs into either side of his neck, draining his life before the aghast onlookers.
His silenced, limp body fell in a heap as they finished feeding. Spida wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and ran his tongue across his teeth. A woman in the shocked group opposite suddenly screamed and they all cowered back into the carriage, David, Mary Ann and Stuart suddenly found themselves at the front of the crowd. Not the best place to be, under the circumstances.
Muzz leapt across the gap and into the carriage and approached the three nearest to him. Spida held back in case anyone got past and tried to make a bolt for it.
So, givin’up? I promise I’ll make it quick then. Who’s first?”
Stuart took an involuntary step backwards, leaving David and Mary Ann standing there facing whatever it was.
He tugged at their sleeves, attempting to pull them along with him, but they stood their ground. This puzzled Stuart.
“Look. There are injured people here. We just want to get out of here!” He shouted.
Muzz grinned, his fangs protruding from his mouth and glinting in the torchlight.
“Good. I promise we’ll make ‘em all well again. Better than they’ve ever been.”
“You’re full of promises. S’funny. Only vamps I ever met were dumb, stupid liars. ” Said Mary Ann.
“Oooh, somebody knows us. “How? You’re not the Slayer. We left her behind the roof fall, unless she got buried under it o’course.”
The two watchers weren‘t going to be fazed by this announcement. They needed to keep the vamps busy for a little while longer.
“Ah, so you’ve met Buffy. How many of you were there originally?” Said David.
“She got Clakka. Now it’s time for payback.”
He lunged at Mary Ann, who whipped a length of steel tube from behind her back at the last second and plunged it into Muzz’s chest as he closed in. He fell to the floor screaming in agony. Spida leapt forward to attack and David countered with a piece of concrete, smashing it onto the vampire’s forehead.
Spida staggered back and fell down the gap, as he came up he was still a little dazed and David followed up with a kick to the side of his head, causing him to fall back again.
Muzz struggled to his feet. Wrenching the piece of steel from his chest he glared at Mary Ann.
“It was meant to.” Retorted Mary Ann.
“Didn’t they never teach you nothin’?” Questioned the pained Muzz.
“That’s bad grammar. Like I said. Dumb, stupid vamps.” Replied Mary Ann.
“Steel can’t kill us. You need a stake. Made of wood.” Informed Muzz, ignoring, or more probably not understanding her insult.
“You mean like this one?” Came a voice from behind.
Dan surveyed the heap of rubble more carefully now he had less urgency to find a way through. Shining his torch around the edges, he found a gaping hole in the side of the carriage furthest from the point of impact.
It took him a minute to pull some of the tunnel wiring cables out of the way, and he dropped down onto the track. The gap was quite narrow and low. He started to make his way along stopping every now and then to clear more debris so that they would be able to get people through more easily.
An alcove appeared on his right, and he shone the torch into it. It looked like it was originally intended for use as a workmans refuge, left over from a time when health and safety were the last considerations of the management.
He was about to carry on when the beam of the torch glinted on something in the wall. He stepped into the alcove and ran his hand over the place where the reflected light was coming from.
The rear wall was encrusted in almost a century’s worth of soot and dirt. It didn’t brush off as his hand passed over it, it fell off in lumps, hitting the floor and throwing up clouds of more dust.
Dan coughed and sneezed. It settled slightly and the torch revealed what the muck and grime had been covering. A handle; attached to a door.
“Could be another way out.” He muttered.
He tried the handle.the door didn’t budge. That was the point he heard a scream from further up the tunnel. He wasted no more time, he took a cautionary glance with the torch on then turned it off and headed out into the tunnel once more. His eyes grew accustomed to the dark quickly, and he made his way along the side of the derailed carriages until he came to another hole.
He could see people in the carriage trying to get as far away from the open end as possible, some helping others and looking for other exits.
Then there was the fmiliar sounds of a fight starting. A nearby window shattered, showering him with tiny safety glass shards. As he moved up to the hole, he saw one of the vamps who’d escaped them earlier leap up from the ground level into the carriage.
Dan made a grab for the legs and pulled hard.
“Slayer. How did you get past that roof fall?” Questioned Muzz.
“Let’s just say, size matters, and cut to the chase. You’re not eating anyone else here today. Why don’t you guys just learn to stick to the cemeteries. It would be so much easier.” Replied Buffy.
“Over my dead body!”
“Like Mary Ann said, Dumb and stupid. You’re already dead.”
Muzz thought about it for a second, then leapt at her. Buffy was ready, she caught both his hands and flung him into the side of the carriage, breaking the only remaining intact window, scattering the glass into the tunnel beyond.
He rebounded off the wall and onto her waiting fist. Two sharp jabs and a back handed blow sent him reeling. He rolled and came up into a fighting stance.
As she faced Muzz, Spida took his chance and leapt up out of the hole, intending to attack her from behind. Suddenly he felt a strong grip on his ankles, heard a warning shout to the slayer from one of the onlookers who’d attacked them, and he was yanked back into the hole.
“Buffy; look out! There’s….” Shouted David. Then he paused as the vampire disappeared again. “…Never mind.” He added.
Buffy glanced quickly at David, saw the vamp disappear back into the hole and turned her attention back to Muzz, who pressed the advantage of the distraction.
He hit her hard with a roundhouse that she only partially blocked. It knocked her over and she rolled to a stop just short of the hole in the floor. Muzz dived on her, but she rolled away as he came down and in turn, pounced on him as he hit the floor.
There was jagged edge to the hole and unfortunately for Muzz, his head lolled into one of the crevices just as Buffy jumped on his back. She forced his head into the gap hard with all the slayer strength she could muster.
As the head severed, the body dusted and Buffy found herself on her knees. She looked up to see Mary Ann grinning, David with a slightly pained smile on his face…And someone she didn’t know looking quite aghast at what had just happened.
From beneath them there was a brief burst of flame as the vamp below combusted.
She smiled as Dan’s head appeared above the gap and she leaned down to kiss him.
“Hi there. Everything okay?” He said.
“Uh huh. All hunky and dory.”
David spoke up. “Did my eyes deceive me, or did that other vampire combust?”
“No they didn’t, and yes it did.” Replied Dan, climbing up into the carriage.
“A what?” Said Stuart.
Dan asserted his authority. “Stand back sir. I’m a police officer. Stay with the others please and we’ll get you all out of here as soon a possible.”
“You don’t look like a policeman, you look like a biker…” He stopped short as Dan flashed his warrant card. “Oh. Right.”
Dan quickly told Buffy and the others of the escape route he’d found and the door in the alcove. Then after questioning Stuart, he found that all of the twenty odd people in the carriage were capable of walking, except for the woman with the broken leg, and the three dead.
Whilst Buffy,Mary Ann and David helped them out of the carriage onto the track, Dan squatted down beside the woman. She was in pain and not very coherent, but she didn’t want to be left behind.
“Please, don’t leave me.” She begged.
“Don’t worry, we won’t.” Said Stuart, although he was wondering just how they were going to twist her through the narrow exit and along the tunnel without causing her any more distress.
He turned to Dan. “Look officer, she’s not going to be moved easily, I’ll stay here with her,until you can get some better help.”
Dan shook his head and pulled Stuart to one side. “Not an option. There might be other undesirables in the tunnels, so no-one gets left behind.”
“Undesirables? You mean vampires, don’t you.”
“Look, don’t go shouting it about. You’re a doctor, right.” Rebuked Dan.
“Then think of this as a doctor, patient confidentiality.” Added Dan.
“You’re not my patient.”
“No, but if you do, someone else may lose her patience with you. Understand.”
Stuart thought about it for a second or two. “Okay. But it would be nice to have some insight, you seemed to know who they were and what they were before anyone else did.”
“It’s what we’re here for.” There was a finality to the comment, and Stuart took the hint.
Dan said nothing else for a moment, he squatted back down beside the woman and placed his hands over her broken leg. As he did, he spoke softly to her.
“Relax. I’m going to help you. Just close your eyes, it won’t hurt, I’m going to give you something for the pain, okay.”
She nodded and bit her lip, tensing slightly. “It is going to hurt isn’t it?” She questioned.
“I promise , it won’t, now close your eyes.” He repeated, gently.
She did so, and the area under his hands began to glow. There was a sharp intake of breath from Stuart as he watched the bone and skin heal itself. The woman gasped euphorically from the feeling.
The glow faded, Dan stood up and held out a hand. “All done. You can get up now.” He said.
She had a dreamy smile on her face as she opened her eyes.
“That was brilliant. What did you give me. Marry me and I’ll have your babies.” She gushed.
Dan laughed. “Sorry love, I’m already spoken for.”
Stuart couldn’t contain his amazement.
“That’s a neat trick. You trying to put me out of business?”
Dan gave him a sideways look. “Later. Okay?”
Stuart nodded. “If you say so.”
They helped the woman into the hole in the floor, and followed the others along the escape route.
David was examining the door in the alcove as they approached.
Ushering the woman and Stuart onwards, Dan stopped by the watcher to see if there was anything he could do.
“Not unless you have a key.” said David, pointing to the large keyhole he’d uncovered.
“Did Buffy try?”
“She wasgoing to but I stopped her when I saw this.”
He pointed up to an inscription on the lintel.
Dan looked at the symbols. “Nothing I recognise. Do you?”
“It’s Celtic. They weren‘t big on writing things down, but when they did it was important. I’d need a book to help me translate it properly.” He uttered the sounds in the tongue that they writers would have used.
Dan blinked and repeated the phrase, then he translated. “Enter at thine own risk. Here rests the magic of the ones who came before.”
They looked at one another.
“We need to hide this…” Started Dan.
“…And come back later. With help.” Finished David.
“How? All this stuff is wreckage, it will be cleared away.” Dan said, looking for something to block the entrance with. David held up a hand.
“Give me a moment, I need to concentrate.” He said.
Dan watched as David placed his mobile phone in the alcove, took a breath and muttered a few words of incantation.
“…Obscura!” He commanded. The alcove shimmered and disappeared, blending into the rest of the wall.
“Nice one. Added wizard to your c.v. lately?” Joked Dan.
“Not exactly. I spent a couple of months with the coven last year. This was one of the spells I learned. I’m not that proficient.” Replied David.
“Looks good enough to me. Why did you put your phone in there though?”
“That’s the bit I’m not so good at. Retrieving what I‘ve hidden. My phone is a focal point, so that a more proficient witch can find the location again.”
“Sound. Come on, lets catch up with the others.” Said Dan.
It didn’t take them long to catch up with the rest, and as they all emerged from the end carriage they encountered the group of engineers Dan had spoken to earlier.
Not wanting to get involved further, Dan quickly informed them that there were three bodies still in the carriage they’d rescued this group from, but no other signs of life from any carriage forward of that point.
Minutes later they emerged into St Pancras’ tube station and waiting ambulance personnel. The WSC quartet left the group and made their way towards the exit. As they climbed the motionless escalator, Stuart’s voice called out to them, and he caught up with them as they reached the next level.
“Look. Mostly, I don’t know how, or why, but people are not remembering too much about those, er, undesirables you took on; and that lady isn’t remembering just how her leg was healed, just that it was, by a ‘glowing angel‘. Her words, not mine. I just wanted to say, thanks. Without your intervention we‘d all be dead now, and if there‘s anything I can do to help, anytime; I‘d like to.”
Buffy gave him a sideways glance. “Help? You want to help?”
“Yes. I’m a doctor. You may need one at some time or other.”
“Got a number. Address?” She queried.
Stuart fished a card from his pocket, making it grubby as he handed it to her. It had his name, address and a phone number on it.
“Buffy nodded and took the card. “Okay. Here’s how it works. We don’t know you. I have you checked out. If you’re who and what you say you are, and don’t have any skeletons hiding in your closet, you’ll get a call. If you’re not….”
“I won’t?” Finished Stuart.
The arms folded across her chest, and her voice hardened. “Don’t interrupt. If you’re not, you may have difficulty remembering your own name, let alone what you’ve seen today. Understood?”
They all turned and walked away, leaving Stuart standing there, a little bemused, watching them go.
End of Chapter Sixty One.