2. The Falling Star.
Crankie Manor, 2012.
Running across the lawn, Giles headed straight for where Dawn lay, he slid to a halt next to her and knelt down by the scorched suit of armour. With a trembling hand he reached out to open the cracked and blackened visor.
“Good grief!” he fell back in surprise and sat on the grass, he shook his head in disbelief, the suit was empty.0=0=0=0Tower Hamlets, 1898.
Confused the vampire let go of Dawn and started to pull faces that were both horrific and amusing in equal measure. Stumbling away from her assailant Dawn gasped for breath; she turned her eyes on the vampire and frowned at the bloodsucker’s strange antics. For a moment she wondered if her word power magic was on the fritz, then realising that the word must have come out wrong she smiled as the vampire pulled even more ridiculous expressions.
The vampire for her part knew there was something wrong, she didn’t know exactly what was happening to her but she had a fair idea that it had something to do with her would-be victim. Thinking quickly she made the mistake of continuing her attack, still pulling faces the vampire ran at Dawn; she reached for her target’s neck as she snarled through contorted lips.
Recovered now from her earlier fright Dawn was ready for her attacker, she made a gesture with her hand and the vampire flew through the air to crash into the wall on the opposite side of the alley. Vampires being vampires this one bounced back to her feet and resumed her attack. Again Dawn gestured, this time the creature of the night came to a sudden halt as if she had run full speed into a wall.
Vampire and witch stared at each other at something of an impasse as to what to do next. The vampire knew what she wanted to do; she wanted to rip the throat out of the annoying human that was at present holding her transfixed by some sort of magic. Dawn, on the other hand, realised she couldn’t defeat the vampire by throwing it about the alley. She knew she’d run out of magic long before the vampire gave up or was too damaged to continue her attacks.
On the other hand she could use her word power, but that could be dangerous to herself, words had a power all of their own and mixing them with magic just made her hold on sanity more precarious. Particularly just after the magic that had brought her here in the first place. Dawn frowned, what was she to do? Luckily the problem was taken out of her hands moments later.0=0=0=0
Running down the alley, skirts flying, Amy hit the vampire at full speed; the creature fell and skidded along the cobbles. Not giving the monster time to recover Amy whipped out her stake and plunged it into the bloodsucker’s black heart. Turning Amy saw her watcher being held by the throat as if by an invisible hand.0=0=0=0
The anger had built up in Dawn’s chest until she thought she was going to explode (calm down, a sane part of her mind told her). She wanted to kill and burn and…and (deep breaths, Dawn ordered herself, put the nice man down). Just as she released the tweed clad man something or someone hit her in the back and she and her assailant went rolling across the cobblestones.
“You leave ‘im alone!” ordered Amy as she sat on Dawn’s chest.
“Get offa me!” squealed Dawn as she pulled the girl’s hair.
“Ladies!” Herbert rested against the alley wall one hand to his throat, “Stop this immediately!”
“Why you bitch!” Amy slapped Dawn about the head.
“Look!” demanded Dawn as she fended off the girls blows with her arms, “It was an accident…now GET OFF!”
Amy flew through the air to crash into the wall next to Herbert. Like the vampire before her she jumped to her feet and sprang at Dawn to renew her assault. Dawn climbed to her feet just as the girl started towards her.
“STILL!” Dawn held up her hand and both Amy and Herbert found they couldn’t move.
Breathing deeply Dawn tried to calm herself.
“In with the good air,” Dawn breathed in through her nose, “out with the bad.”
After several deep breaths Dawn felt as if she was in control of herself again. It hadn’t been until the first time this loss of control had happened to her that she’d really believed Willow’s warnings about magic. Since then she’d developed methods of controlling herself and preventing herself from going, as Giles would say; off the deep end. However, sometimes she still lost control and sometimes she made mistakes, like just now. Giles had never approved of Willow teaching her magic in the first place, Dawn was beginning to see why.
“Release,” Dawn said quietly and both Herbert and Amy stumbled a step or two towards her, the girl looked as if she was about to attack again until the man spoke.
“Amy!” he said sharply as he walked towards Dawn, “I’ll deal with this.”
Looking like a small child that’d had her favourite toy taken from her Amy stepped back.
“Well Madam,” Herbert stood a couple of feet away from Dawn studying her intently, “you’re obviously some sort of magic user…now explain yourself!”
“Explain myself?” Dawn wondered what this guy would look like with elephant balls, before remembering she couldn’t do that sort of magic. “I’ll…I’ll explain myself…I-I,” Dawn paused for a moment to collect her thoughts, “Okay, first you can tell me where and more importantly when I am.”
Pushing a strand of hair out of her eyes Dawn did her best to sound and look dignified.
“Where?” Herbert looked at her as if she was mad, “Why, you’re in London of course and as for ‘when’,” Herbert snorted down his nose, “what a ridiculous question.”
“Look buster!” Dawn could feel the anger rise in her chest again but she fought it down, “Up until a few minutes ago I was in Cornwall and it was the year 2012. Now this is obviously not Cornwall, so tell me the date!”
“Oh, I say,” Herbert looked at the woman in front of him closely, she really did mean it, she didn’t know what the date was, “I’m sorry to say, dear lady,” he said rather apologetically, “but you’re most terribly lost. You see its 1898…did a spell go wrong or something?” he asked not unkindly.
“Yeah,” Dawn sighed and deflated a little, “something like that. You see I’m prone to opening portals in space and time…”
“Really?” Herbert looked at her as if she was some new curio he’d found.
“Yeah, like, really,” frowning Dawn wondered how she was going to get home, “sorry about earlier but you caught me by surprise…I’m Dawn Summers,” Dawn held out her hand.
“Herbert Wells, watcher” Herbert took Dawn’s hand and shook it, “and this is Amy the Vampire Slayer.”
“Yeah I guessed,” Dawn gave the man a half smile, “the tweed sorta gives it away.”
“So, I don’t get to slay ‘er then?” Amy gave Dawn a look full of venom, no one laid hands on her watcher and got away with it.
“No,” smiled Herbert as he turned to look at Amy, “I think it best not to, Amy dear.” Herbert turned back to Dawn, “I’m assuming you’re not actually evil?”
“So not evil,” Dawn bent to retrieve her bags, “tired, angry and a long way from home, but not evil,” she tried to smile reassuringly, she wasn’t sure it worked.
“Well,” Herbert glanced at Amy who was still giving Dawn daggers looks, “if you don’t think it too forward of me…and if you’ve nowhere else to go…I was wondering if… If you’d accept an offer to lodge at my house…until you find your feet of course…I’ve plenty of room.”
“Thanks,” Dawn smiled again this time with more success, “that’s very good of you.”
“Right-ho then,” Herbert rubbed his hands together, “Lets be off, Amy,” he turned to look at his slayer, “help Miss Summers with her bags would you?”
With an ill grace, Amy picked up Dawn’s carpet bag, “Slut,” she muttered under her breath as she tagged along behind Herbert and Dawn.0=0=0=0
Out over the Atlantic something large and metallic burnt its way through the atmosphere. It left a bright, slightly green fiery trail behind it as it fell and lost speed at a rate that would be unusual for a naturally occurring object. As it flashed over southwest England it was observed and noted by several amateur astronomers the most noted of which was a Professor Albin who reported that it left a green streak behind it that glowed for several minutes after its passing. Denning, one of the greatest authorities on meteorites later stated that the height of its first appearance was about ninety or one hundred miles. It seemed to him that it fell to earth about one hundred miles east of him somewhere in the region of Horsell Common near Woking in Surrey.0=0=0=0Victoria, London, 1898.
The house that Herbert Wells lived in did indeed have plenty of spare rooms for visitors. It was a comfortable three story Georgian house in one of the better parts of Victoria. Arriving at the house they were met by Mrs Baker, the live-in cook and housekeeper, she gave Dawn a very disapproving look as she showed her to one of the spare rooms. Dawn later found out there was a maid, Kitty, who lived at her parents house half a mile away. A woman, Mrs Green, who came in to clean in the mornings and an odd job man who also lived close by.
Amy, of course had her own room up at the top of the house while Mr Wells’ room was on the second floor, a seemly distance away from Amy’s. Dawn caught glimpses of what was obviously a small gym, a study lined with books next to what could only be a laboratory. Dawn smiled when she caught sight of the lab; it looked just like the sort of lab owned by mad scientists in old black and white horror movies.
Sitting in the ‘Drawing Room’ Dawn sipped at a cup of tea (she had developed a taste for it after working with Giles for so long) as Herbert questioned her closely but at the same time politely. His main concern seemed to be that she was who she claimed to be and not some evil sorceress bent on bringing down the British Empire.
“Well you are in a bit of a pickle,” Herbert put down his tea cup, “if what you say is true it could be jolly difficult to get you back to your own time and place.” He stopped to consider something before continuing, “I wonder if it might be better for you to revisit, as it were, your point of departure in the here and now.”
“You could be right, I think that the fabric of time and space might be thinner there,” Dawn having found she could open portals relatively easily had studied the subject somewhat.
“I’d not thought of it in those terms,” Herbert nodded his head, “but yes, something like that. After all I’m not an expert, maybe if I asked at the Watchers Council someone there might…”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Dawn interrupted.
“Sorry?” Herbert raised an eyebrow quizzically.
“I’d rather you didn’t like, mention me being here,” she explained, “I had issues with the Council in by own time. What is it that you do Mr Wells,” she asked changing the subject, “apart from being Amy’s watcher that is?”
“Oh,” Herbert gave a modest smile, “I write a column for several newspapers and I’ve written a couple of novels…maybe you’ve heard of them? ‘The Island of Doctor Moreau’?” he received a blank look from Dawn, “’The Time Machine’?” he asked hopefully.
Herbert looked disappointed at Dawn’s continual blank stare.
“Oh,” he said sadly into the silence, “obviously my works didn’t stand the test of time.”
“It’s probably me,” Dawn smiled sympathetically, “my education didn’t have much time to spare for reading science fiction…I can tell you all there is to know about Sumerian myths and legends though.”
Poor guy, thought Dawn, it must be terrible to find out that the work he’d poured his heart and soul into lay forgotten on some dusty library shelf unread and neglected. Try as she might she couldn’t remember an author called Herbert Wells, now Jules Verne she could remember…Herbert Wells nor so much, not at all in fact. She glanced at the clock on the mantel piece and smiled as she wondered what Giles and everyone was doing just now; panicking probably.
“Its late,” Dawn put down her cup and saucer and stood up, Herbert sprang to his feet as soon as she’d risen, “I think I’ll get some sleep…it’s been along day.”
“Yes! Of course,” agreed Herbert rather breathlessly, “you must be exhausted what with all the time travel and what-not.”
“Good night, Herbert,” Dawn headed out of the door and towards her room.0=0=0=0
Sitting in front of the mirror of the dressing table in her room; Dawn brushed her hair, it was lucky she’d kept it long as it fitted in well with the styles of the period better than if she’d had it cut. She looked at her reflection, it was odd, she thought, how her clothes had changed and how she’d seemed to arrive complete with luggage. From what Willow had told her of her own and Kennedy’s adventures in different realities the clothes and luggage thing wasn’t quite as odd as it first seemed. Dawn stopped brushing and looked closely at herself.
Perhaps it was nature’s way of dealing with people slipping between realities and different times. She didn’t know; when she got home again she’d talk to Willow about it, do some research…if she got home. That made her think; her little adventure certainly felt like an accident what with that damn box exploding and all. But was it truly an accident?
Sighing Dawn stood up and looked around the room, her things lay on a trunk at the foot of her bed, she’d fold them all away tomorrow, and have a good look through her possessions to see what she actually had with her. Switching out the gas (no electric light in this house) Dawn stumbled her way across the room until she bumped into the bed.
Climbing between the covers she found herself thinking of Herbert Wells; he was quite handsome in a tweedy, watcher sort of way; she wondered if he was married. She’d not seen any sign of a Mrs Wells…maybe if she was here for awhile. Dawn yawned hugely as she got herself comfortable on the pillows, perhaps she could have a little romantic interlude with him? After all she’d not been involved with anyone in ages.0=0=0=0
As Dawn drifted off to sleep and dreamed of ‘romantic interludes’ with late Victorian science fiction authors; out on Horsell Common smoke rose from a deep hole in the sandy soil. The only sound that could be heard over the barks of foxes as they went about their nightly hunts was the quiet ticking of slowly cooling metal.