Frowning Dawn heaved Herbert to his feet, she’d watched Amy run off into the night and engage one of the Martians in hand to hand combat. Amy, of course, had been triumphant; now there were six or seven Martians moving to surround her. Dawn sighed, you could always rely on a slayer for plenty of blood and mayhem. Anyway, that wasn’t the point right now. By her actions Amy had caused a distraction, while the Martians were chasing after her they weren’t chasing after Herbert and herself.
“Up you get,” Dawn soon had her arm around Herbert’s waist and his arm across her shoulder.
“What about Amy?” Herbert gasped as the hobbled towards the rim of the crater.
“What about her?” Dawn looked about in the weird green light cast by the Martian machines, “Leave her alone she’s having fun, we’ve got our own problems.”
Indeed they did, Standing, or in Herbert’s case, hanging on to Dawn at the foot of the wall around the crater they looked up. The bank of earth and rubble, now covered in thick red weed, was a good twenty maybe even thirty feet high.
“Crap!” cursed Dawn as she started to push Herbert up the slope in front of her.
“Steady on old thing,” Herbert actually laughed as he tried to pull himself up the bank.
“What’s so funny?” demanded Dawn panting loudly behind him.
“I was just thinking,” Herbert paused for a moment to catch his breath, “I wonder what my friends on the Council would say if they could see me now.”
Opening her mouth to speak, Dawn found she couldn’t, she was too busy laughing with Herbert as they clambered towards the top of the bank and freedom.0=0=0=0
Turning to run Amy headed towards the compound where the few surviving human prisoners lay. She couldn’t fight all the Martians, not all at once, but she couldn’t leave those poor people there without at least trying to set them free. Reaching the fence she glanced over her shoulder, the Martians where a good twenty yards behind. Plenty of time to free the prisoners and make her escape, or it would be if she could find a gate. After running completely around the compound Amy realised there wasn’t a gate. She remembered that the Martians had always reached over the fence or dumped prisoners from above, they didn’t need a gate.
Out of the green tinged darkness a tentacle reached for her, almost without looking she slashed at it with her knife. The tip of the tentacle cartwheeled through the air as the others were snatched out of reach by the Martian. Tears of frustration welled up in Amy’s eyes as the prisoners begged her to free them. There was nothing she could do; there was no gate she could break open, if she tried to climb the fence or break it down she’d only be shocked like the people who had tried to climb out the previous day.
Frustrated and angry she turned on the injured Martian and made a bloody ruin of it in seconds before sprinting off towards the bank of the crater. The stalks of the red weed broke easily under her feet as she reached the top of the bank. She looked back once more and watched through tear blurred eyes as the prisoners cursed her and the Martians made their sluggish way towards her. Not seeing any other course of action open to her she plunged into the pitch black of the world outside the pit.0=0=0=0
Pushing Herbert up the last few feet to the rim of the crater, Dawn collapsed on the carpet of red weed and gasped for air.
“Come on, Herbert,” she grabbed him by the arm and tried to drag him to his feet.
“For god’s sake, Dawn,” he pleaded, “leave me…save yourself!”
“No way!” panted Dawn, “We don’t leave anyone behind,” she succeeded in pulling Herbert to his feet, “today is not
a good day to die!”
Just as they were readying themselves to plunge into the darkness the foot of a fighting machine exploded into view in front of them.
“F’CHRIST’S SAKE!” Dawn looked up at the machine that had emerged out of the black night like some colossal, deadly camera tripod, “Give me a break will you!?”
Dawn fell on her butt and stared up at the thing, this was just so unfair! Okay, she thought, so she could only sacrifice a few cockroaches, that was no excuse for the gods to play around with their lives like this. Dawn looked around at the sound of a ‘Bong!’, she saw Herbert hit the machine’s leg with a length of wood. Unfortunately the only effect that it had was to make him sink to the ground in a filthy tweed clad heap.
“Okay, if you want to play it like this,” Dawn saw the Martian reach for them with a long metal tentacle, “how about this!?”
Dawn gestured with her hand and the air around the machine was suddenly full of fireworks that flashed and banged sending multi coloured sparks in all directions. The machine stumbled back like a man taken by surprise. One of its legs smashed into the ruin of a building making it sway precariously above the two fugitives.
Tentacles flailed wildly as the Martian in the machine tried to regain its balance, it crashed into a more substantial house and one of it’s legs became caught. Staggering drunkenly the Martian finally lost its battle to control the machine. The fighting machine, slowly at first but with rapidly increasing speed, toppled over and fell to the ground like a felled redwood.
“It’s never done that before,” Dawn looked at her fingers as if they didn’t belong to her; who’d have thought that a simple ‘firework’ spell could be so effective.
Hauling Herbert once more to his feet, the two made off into the darkness weaving between the ruins like two drunken sailors.0=0=0=0
Morning found Dawn and Herbert somewhere near the river, they’d wandered through the deserted weed choked streets all night trying to find Amy. There was no sign of the girl and Dawn was just starting to accept that she’d not made it out of the pit. At least she’d had a chance to go down fighting like any slayer should and not die in that stinking hole or burnt to a cinder by the heat gun.
The red weed was everywhere; it grew in the streets and over the houses. It grew particularly thickly wherever there was open water. It was, however, easy to push through. The stems broke easily being hollow and filled with a syrupy fluid that soaked their lower bodies but otherwise appeared to cause no harm.
“Where shall we go?” Dawn asked as they took a breather on a street corner.
“To tell you the truth, dear lady,” Herbert looked around in the early morning sunshine and shook his head, “I’m just a little bit turned around. All this weed stuff makes everywhere look the same…I think the river might be that way,” he pointed down a road to their right, “If we can find the Thames I’ll be able to get my bearings, hm?”
Leading the way Dawn pushed on through the weed, Herbert followed slowly behind, although he was still weak and needed help he wasn’t so helpless as he had been and could now walk more or less unaided. Coming out onto a wide road near a bridge Dawn saw the Thames, at least she guessed it was the Thames. The river was clogged with mountains of red weed. It festooned the masts of ships tied to the embankment. It climbed up and over the embankment walls to join the weed growing over the houses everywhere was just a great mass of red.
Dawn stopped and gazed across the scene her mouth hanging open. She wondered for a moment whether this was some Martian attempt to make the Earth more Mars like. Or perhaps the weed was just some parasite that had hitched a ride to Earth with the Martians.
” the noise came from off to her right, Dawn turned in a panic to see the fighting machine standing only fifty yards away.
“OH! SHIT!” screamed Dawn staggering back, she’d come all this way, now she was going to be fried.
The Martian wailed as if taunting her with its power, this time there would be no escape. If they ran, which was a joke in their present condition, the Martian could just lay waste to the area with its heat gun.
Dawn covered her ears and screamed to rival the noise made by the Martian, she was getting sick of this. All she wanted to do was go home and these alien things were stopping her from seeing her friends and family; never mind the destruction they where causing in the here and now.
“OKAY!” Dawn screamed up at the towering monster, she could see the Martian within staring down at her with dispassionate eyes, “YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME, EH!?”
She strode towards the machine drawing every shred of magic she still possessed around her; in the background she could vaguely hear Herbert calling on her to run and not be so foolish.
“RIGHT YOU FREAKING BASTARD!” Dawn drew herself up and stood hands on hips facing the invader, “I’LL TEACH YOU TO MESS WITH DAWN SUMMERS,” slowly she raised her hand and pointed at the Martian within the machine.
“You can’t say I didn’t warn you,” Dawn suddenly realised how stupid she was being standing there in full view of the Martian just waiting for it to snuff out her life, she cleared her throat and squared her shoulders.
” the Martian’s call cut off in mid cry.
“I-I’m gonna give you a damn good thrashing!” Dawn was just about to let fly with her magic when she stopped and looked closely at the Martian.
It had stopped moving, in fact it was slumped across its controls with its eyes staring lifelessly down at her.
“Yeah,” gulped Dawn as she realised that maybe she wasn’t going to die just yet, “couldn’t face me, huh?”
She heard footsteps behind her.
“I don’t know what you said, old thing,” it was Herbert’s voice coming from next to her ear, “but I think you might have frightened it to death!”++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++