When it doesn't rain...
Intro: Buffy didn't know it at the time but hidden in the folds of her Halloween dress was an old pocket watch. And on that unfortunate Halloween night, things went, differently than Ethan Rayne intended, leading to a drained Hellmouth, a different future and a different slayer as well as a new Time Lady Buffy.
Let the hunt begin, the problem is that juvenile Gallifreyans are far too difficult to find for their own good. As Buffy, Andrew and Rupert are about to discover.
A/N: Sorry for not writing in a while, this one's in honour of today's DW episode. Though not quite to Tennant standard, I'm prepared to give Matt Smith a chance. Though the bow-tie is a bit too...duckling for my liking...
Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Joss Whedon and Doctor Who to the BBC. Neither are mine.
‘I could a tale unfold whose lightest word could harrow thy soul and freeze thy young blood.’---Shakespeare (Hamlet).
“I still don’t get why we can’t have Donna and The Doctor in on this. After all, we spent so much time looking for them.” Andrew whined at a particularly high pitch as the TARDIS rocked its way violently through the Time Vortex.
“Because it’s something I need to do. And you’d have sulked if I’d left you behind, don’t even try to deny it.” Buffy replied, keeping her gaze on the scanner she had running.
More trouble than they were worth, she let out a wry snort at how old she sounded.
She’d gone all Giles-y, next thing you know she’d be having a wicked craving for tea and using words like ‘abhorrent’ and ‘prolific’.
They’d arrived on Messaline to find that Jenny had already gone, stolen a rocket and fled, and didn’t that encourage plenty of ‘like father like daughter’ curses.
Of all the things for the girl to pick up from The Oncoming Storm it was his habit for stealing transportation; though granted this wasn’t quite as dramatic as stealing a TARDIS.
Wasn’t quite as punishable by death and/or banishment either.
They’d picked up her ion trail and Buffy was currently re-calibrating the scanners to that significant frequency, unfortunately Jenny appeared to be like her father in that she couldn’t stay still for one friggin’ minute.
It was like some inter-galactic game of hop-scotch to watch her path as it threaded through space.
The only saving grace was that she DIDN’T have time travel capacity; because then they were just doomed in their search.
“So it’s like some sort of quest?” Andrew suddenly perked up radically.
“Yes Andrew, clearly you’re my squire and Rupert is my faithful steed. Not!” Buffy pulled a face. “We need to do this because…” She paused grasping for the right words before slumping slightly. “Fine, think of it as a questy thing if you want. I got nothing. We just need to find her.”
“The mini-Timelord!” Andrew grinned brightly, punching a fist to the air, as he absorbed some of her energy over the situation.
“Gallifreyan.” Buffy corrected, then let out a triumphant shout. “Gotcha!”
“Got what?” Andrew questioned bewildered.
“Ground Zero.” A brilliant grin flashed across Buffy’s lips.
The TARDIS landed as always, with a crash and the bump as it collided with solid ground was enough to jerk that small blue tiger from his perch and encouraging a disgruntled yowl.
“The last place she landed.” Buffy gave a nod as she closed of the TARDIS engines. “Though why she’d want to land here (in any case) is going right over my head.”
“A lot does height-wise…” Andrew mumbled before realising he’d spoken aloud and flushed a brilliant red and tried single handedly to shrink into the floor as The Slayer glare ™ narrowed on him in full force.
“Watch it tall-blond-and-nerdy or that comic book collection and Rupert will be getting well acquainted. Not to mention we’ll be discussing why exactly three corridors of the TARDIS are now covered in what looks suspiciously like pudding mix; and why the wardrobe is currently missing some of my favourite leather pants. Don‘t think I didn’t notice.” Her gaze flicked wryly across the nervous looking pair, noting that it apparently was possible for a blue tiger to almost bleach white.
“Ah…Pudding?” Andrew stammered nervously, eye notably twitching.
“I don’t want to know, really don’t.” Buffy pressed her fingers to the bridge of her nose, desperately clinging to what remaining delusions she held that her companions were in fact the safer side of sane.
And failing completely.
Pulling on her jacket, and tucking some curls which had loosed themselves from her ponytail, behind her ear; she stepped forwards to the TARDIS door, pressing a hand against it as she steeled herself.
“Come on you two.” She tossed over her shoulder, a lot more confident than she actually was. “Things to do, wayward kids to hunt down, and all that.”
Image could be everything sometimes.
Jenny scowled at her glass of kal’sh, to think she’d found this place intriguing when she’d first arrived. She’d been eager to explore, to discover as her parents before her.
And this world of towering, back to back blocks; dark alleys and warren like streets had tickled her fancy.
Unfortunately this interest had swiftly faded, especially when her rocket had refused to fly and she couldn’t think of a single reason why, and she‘d literally gone through every spring, wire and button in the entire thing in her attempt to discover exactly why the piece of junk didn‘t want to move.
She owed much to her current host and hostess admittedly, they had been exceedingly kind to her, offering her a place to live and spend the night before she awoke to trudge to her part-time employment at a local engineering depot, having found herself to have an almost instinctive knowledge of HOW things such as vehicles and electronics worked.
She wondered if it was a gift from her father, after all, she was not human (as her twin hearts served to constantly remind her) and he had been exceedingly impressive with technology, with the whirring tool he’d brandished in opposition to a weapon.
All she’d told these people of herself, however was that she’d been separated from her family (nomads? Yes of course, we always travelled miss) due to unfortunate circumstance, and found herself unable to find them.
That she was in fact saving up money in order to find them as they surely believed her dead and would be unable to find her.
That much was true, for she’d awakened upon Messaline to the realisation that not only was she now alive, when she was certain she’d died; but those two warm presences in her mind that she’d only near the end identified with ’Mother’ and ‘Father’, were gone.
Not even an echo remaining, but the pretty bracelet that her Mother had worn had been around her wrist- possibly some form of funeral rite of the ‘Timelords’ of whom she’d been unable to find any reference on any of the planets she’d visited (including this one) bar a few legends of a race which were like the Gods of old, apparently.
Though her own parents had been exceedingly scornful of the idea of Gods so it was unlikely that this was the case.
Jenny nibbled her lower lip in child-like frustration.
She’d tried to adapt; really she did try. And she was doing the best that her energetic spirit (so eager to run and explore and traverse the heavens) would allow. She could have screamed; shouted; or even hammered her fists against the walls, but she didn’t.
Though she barely restrained herself at times.
It was all just so…dull.
Adric and Imonda were kind to her, and she’d admittedly grown fond of them after the past month in their company. The pair had no children of their own, and they seemed eager to adopt her into their fold, Imonda all but pandering to what she believed were Jenny’s every need. Tried to make their quaint, four bedroom inhabitancy in a moderately nice part of the lower-city, as homey as possible.
It couldn’t be home.
She knew home; had experienced it for one bright, shining moment and wanted nothing more than to have it back in her clutches.
Home was the scent of machine oil, stardust and bananas with an undertone of ‘male’ in combination with the entirely more female scent of vanilla mixed with the coppery tang of battle.
Home was her Father’s safe arms around her.
Home was her Mother’s delicate and yet amazingly strong hand carefully holding hers.
Home was brown eyes that seemed to be ancient filled with the stars themselves, her Father’s eyes.
Home was her Mother’s voice, soft and tender, loving; as a hand stroked her brow.
Home was her Father’s and Mother’s love spinning a song around her that she swore she could hear in her mind.
That song was gone now, and with it her home…
No matter how much her new hosts would prefer she settle down with ‘that nice young man down the street, who would be a lovely match’, as Imonda frequently pointed out. Though said boy was quite possibly the most irritating on this entire planet; following her everywhere with a glazed expression; never having anything sensible to say. No interest in adventure and seemed to think a woman’s place was to serve her husband.
Jenny allowed her lips to twitch into a smile, as she imagined him trying to boss her Mother around; he’d be out on his rear in seconds. And her Father would be laughing at the hilarity of it all, Jenny was sure.
At least until Mother shot him a glare and then he’d be perfectly behaved, even as Jenny and Donna looked on.
Giving a quite sigh of discontent Jenny shifted her attention from her daydreams of her family which had become increasingly detailed over the past few months; to her drink, a steaming liquid that was similar to the drink known as ‘Coffee’ in the basic soldier download she’d obtained in Messaline. However unlike said rationed drink, it was filled with spices and the like to give an interesting tang to the otherwise adrenaline inducing substance.
Imonda, her hostess, made a good pot full each morning which Jenny would gratefully drink a cup of before heading off for a monotonous morning of work at the garage, whilst always on the look out for items that could help her in the repair of her ship, which was currently hidden in the nearby wasteland, that the Lowercity was famed for, other than being beneath the privileged world on the upper levels of the city, on the top of the large spiralling peak that made up the mountain capital of Koppar.
After work her host, Adric, would often offer her a lift home in his buggy; an odd vehicle that ran off an obscure, yet cheap form of energy and was popular amongst the Under-dwellers and Upper-dwellers alike. It was apparently known as ‘mako’ and it made her teeth itch.
Though she’d often choose to decline for a walk; exploring what she could of this place in order to get rid of what she’d found Imonda called ’wonder-lust’.
Imonda was a small, round woman who liked to fuss over anyone and everyone if allowed, she had a warmth about her that many found impossible to deny; and visitor to the house often found themselves willingly spending a good deal longer than intended. While Adric had a welcoming face with a shock of silvered hair and what Jenny felt was a fantastic moustache. His eyes were a shallow blue but there were laughter lines around them.
The day was hot as she stepped out onto the high-walled streets, plastered with various fliers and posters; the streets covered in a slight amount of filth (apparently what many were jealous of the upper level-dwellers, were so due to the fact that their streets were said to be spotless, and cleaned regularly. This and the fact that they had the full shine of the sun, not simply the heat, as the peak’s angle blocked the main rays for those further below for most of the day.
She, herself, wasn’t as fussy. After all, following the underground, cloying and death-filled darkness of the permanently lamp-lit Messaline, this was practically an open-air plain.
Resigning herself to another day of monotony she stepped along the road, brown eyed gaze never noticing the oddly quiet streets for such a time of day.
“So, what planet is this?” Andrew queried as he gazed in awe around the glittering streets of what Buffy might just be able to describe as the cleanest mall this side of the milky way.
“Welcome to Koppar, capital of the planet Gaia.” Buffy gave a thoughtful sigh as her gaze panned around the pristinely decorated streets of the capital city.
Which the billboards (if such monstrosities could be described as such) advertised as the most beautiful place in the Dardanelle Cluster.
Lies, but still, had to hand it to their PR campaigners, they could really work a slogan no matter how cheesy.
In fact, it looked as though the cheesier the better, was the particular order of the day.
“Is it always this…” Andrew trailed off as though searching for the word.
“Shiny? Clean-to-absurd-levels? Anally retentive?” Buffy suggested wryly, even the trash cans had an unnatural level of sparkle to them.
“I was gonna say empty, but that works.” Andrew laughed, linking arms with her as Rupert wondered ahead, claws clicking on the metallic ground, shined to perfection, that the tiger occasionally appeared to sneer at in disgust.
“Mmn, not actually sure. Can I get back to you on that?” Buffy sniffed, hurrying over to a nearby data console (heaven forbid the necessary info not be as accessible as humanly possible) studying it thoughtfully.
“Watch and learn.” She shot him a wink, reaching into her pocket to pull out what looked to be your average, ordinary, everyday black clicky-pen.
Though granted it was sleek.
Appearances should never be believed; take a look at her.
With a wicked grin she pressed a concealed button, and the end of the pen lit up blue, making a whirring noise as various boxes of data appeared on the screen. One replacing the other faster than any human could read.
Good thing she wasn’t human then.
“That’s like…” Andrew gawped visibly.
“Sonic pen.” Buffy grinned broadly, twirling the technologically advanced stationary between her fingers with casual ease. “Found it in The Doctor’s TARDIS.”
“Found?” Andrew queried dubiously, trying and failing to do the eyebrow-raise that both she and The Doctor had both perfected in their own ways. Andrew merely looked like he was trying to make his face go lopsided.
Though apparently Rupert was gifted in giving highly sceptical looks, as he was currently demonstrating.
“It was lying around…” Buffy replied defensively. “I was gonna put it back, I just got…distracted!”
“Su-re. And Riker is secretly an agent in the employ of The Borg.” Andrew snorted.
“The who whating how with huh?” Buffy blinked in bewilderment at Andrew’s latest descent into Nerdism.
“Never mind.” Andrew slumped.
Rolling her eyes Buffy focused on the screen. “Ooh, lookie! According to this today is the annual Salan Festival. Apparently its used to worship the great and bountiful Goddess of the Sun; named Salan- unsurprisingly. Anywho, looks like they have a week without work and spend the majority of it at prayer. Then on the final day there’s some sort of ceremony which ‘keeps the planet burning with ‘Salan’s gift’. Whatever that means.”
“What kind of festival? Ooh, is there food involved?” Andrew bounced on his heels.
“A) Not a clue, B) Ditto and C) Stop that, you look like a squirrel on speed and it’s almost THE most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.” Buffy snorted dryly.
“What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve seen?” Andrew ignored the earlier part of her speech and instead chose to focus on the latter.
“The snoopy dance.” Buffy replied distantly as she read, not keeping control of her tongue, her eyes popping wide as she realised what she’d said.
“Why the…?” Andrew began a question she was never in a gazillion years going to be able to answer and she winced internally.
“Come on then, with luck Jenny’ll be track-able.” Buffy re-adjusted the info-device with a sigh as she returned to the middle of the street.
She knew that Jenny was in the city.
She also knew that there was a population of over 2 million in said city.
This was going to be interesting; after all, tracking down the mind of an untrained Gallifreyan while complex on its own- really wasn’t helped by the bizarre psychic vibrations that seemed to hum through the planet, almost as though it was…alive?
And wasn’t that a thought. It wasn’t impossible, nothing was impossible, but it was more than a little unlikely.
Or at least very rare to say the least.
It was then that the scream rent the otherwise silent, bright, sunny (quiet) day.
She and Andrew exchanged glances.
Before she was hurtling in the direction of the scream, Andrew and Rupert hot on her heels.
Though there was a quiet mutter from the human that made her giggle under her breath:
“Some things never change.”
‘Closed for holiday!’
Jenny gave an irritable huff, remembering the sign plastered onto the closed entrance to her place of work, even as she kicked her way across the street.
Someone could have told her.
Or maybe they’d thought she’d known?
She gave a quiet sigh of frustrated resignation as she strolled through the empty streets of the Lower-district.
Apparently everyone else had known.
Everything was as silent as the grave (though that was an odd saying wasn’t it) as she walked, not knowing really where she was going.
She was bored, she mused as she headed to her usual thinking spot, following the curve of the back roads. Finally she reached an area even more dilapidated than the rest of the city; on the outskirts, out of the shadow of the mountain high above, to an extent.
Her black combat boots crunched uncaringly over the muck, more scuffed than any other shoes she’d ever seen and her soldier-imbedded protocols all but screamed in horror.
The rest of her loved it.
She wasn’t a soldier, she was a traveller.
Occasionally a warrior.
But not a soldier, never again.
After all there was Rule One to think about.
Pushing herself between two loose pieces of mesh fencing she came to the so-called ‘wasteland’, a dilapidated area scattered with rubbish of all shapes and sizes. She pushed aside a bent metal door resting at a slant, ignoring the damp, mouldering smell as she revealed the hidden door to her ship.
She’d not wanted anyone taking it.
Entering the entrance code, she slipped into the construct, giving a relieved groan as she slumped back into the pilot’s seat, smiling at the sight of her Mother’s necklace hanging around one of the upper levers that were rarely used.
It had served her well as she’d visited the past few planets; which had involved a lot of running and adventure.
It appeared to have run out though; maybe she’d overused it?
Whatever it was, it looked like she was stuck her for the time being.
How unbelievably boring was that?
“Well…that’s not something you see everyday…” Buffy found herself mumbling aloud as they burst into the house to find some kind of…creature (all scales, saliva and teeth) chewing on what was left of one of the dwelling’s inhabitants.
“Unless you‘re us, because this happens to us with disturbing regularity…” Andrew squeaked, as Rupert hissed angrily, puffing up his fur to seem twice his present size and vaguely resembling some sort of blue powder-puff in Buffy’s personal opinion. Not that she’d ever voice this aloud, Rupert was mighty sensitive for such a top predator.
“What people getting eaten?” Buffy blinked questioningly, trying to remember the last bad-guy who’d tried to eat people.
The Gelth didn’t count, they were just all posses-y and stuff.
“I kind of meant the whole life in peril situation.” Andrew replied, turning dry.
“Ah…” Buffy nodded her agreement, even as the dog/lizard/thing let out a growl as if to say ‘hello, still here, higher predator about to eat you?’
Not that she was going to let THAT happen.
Buffy reached into her pocket, unsheathing her blade, as there was a scream from the corner, attracting their attention to the woman and child huddled in the corner.
The young boy wrapped in what Buffy assumed was his mother’s arms.
The beast gave a snarl and before Buffy could react had thrown itself out of the window in a flurry of shattered glass, leaving her momentarily distracted in NOT being blinded by the sharp pointy pieces of flying fatality.
Giving a quiet mutter of discontentment, Buffy turned her attention to the sobbing young mother and the child which stared with such wide, blank eyes.
Crouching beside the shuddering form, she tilted the other woman’s head away from where it was fixed on the bloody mess upon the floor, ensuring that those eyes were focused on her.
“It’s okay, you’re safe now.” Buffy reassured, using a minuscule amount of psychic ability to underlie her words.
“Milo…” The woman choked, her gaze twitching from Buffy to the body on the floor and Buffy felt herself wince inwardly.
“I’m sorry.” She murmured. “I’m so sorry…Andrew, can you take Miss…” Buffy trailed off, glancing at the frail woman, who now clung to her arm as tightly as she clung to her son.
“Alia.” Sniffed the woman, as if in a daze. “Alia and Thrace.” She hugged the boy to her tighter, making him wiggle in discontent.
“Take Alia and help her make some drinks.” Her gaze focused on her companion, who nodded seriously, understanding the severity of the situation.
Even as Buffy flicked the sonic into one hand and began to scan the remains looking for clues, but weirdly enough she could only find one thing out of place, and that was the odd energy which she’d earlier associated with the planet.
Some how ‘Milo’s’ corpse was saturated with the stuff.
The questioned was, however, what was the stuff and how exactly had he absorbed such a great amount. By all rights the man should have been glowing with it, the level of bizarre radiation his remains were giving off was fluctuating even now? And was substantial in amount.
Her gaze fell on the mantelpiece, and she flinched inwardly at the holo-picture of a healthy and handsome (in a rather traditionally bland way) young man with his arms around Alia, proudly hoisting the boy (Thrace- she reminded herself) on his shoulders as they all beamed at the photo.
A Kodak moment.
One happy family.
She clenched her fist, squeezing her eyes shut. Promising there and then to find out what had happened to take away that little boy’s family. Had stolen his future away from him. Because she knew all too well, that what he’d seen would haunt him for the rest of his days. Oh, he’d pretend, would smile like he meant it to the world. But underneath it all there would be that undertone of…
She broke off with a start, as her gaze locked onto the odd shrine-like structure in the corner. Or, to be more precise, the object on said shrine.
She stepped forward hesitantly, eying the thing as she whirred the sonic-pen that swiftly confirmed her thoughts on the creepifying object which was already giving her goosebumps.
It looked like some form of precious Earth-mineral. Emerald maybe, all deep green and crystalline. What made it different was it’s almost acidic glow and the psy-radiation (which matched Milo’s in much smaller proportions) it exuded with menace that almost made her step back.
She reached out a hand, covering it carefully with her sleeve, as she lifted up the…thing. Pocketing it, before she headed into the kitchen area to which the other’s had escaped avoiding looking at the picture once more.
Because somehow, it was harder to look at than even the remains of Milo, the family man and father.
She entered what was probably on a normal occasion a very open and sunny kitchen, complete with flowers in a jar on the table. By which sat the young woman, rocking her son even as she sipped at a cup of…Whatever Andrew had made her.
Even as the child stared at Rupert, intrigued, as the tiger regally observed the room from his perch atop the table.
“She’s not said anything…” Andrew muttered as he shifted to stand beside her.
“No, didn’t think she would.” Buffy replied, softly, before stepping forward; drawing up a chair to sit beside the other woman.
“Alia…” Buffy queried gently, reaching out a hand to touch the other woman’s arm lightly, when she didn’t focus. Startling the woman from her reverie.
“It’s you…” The woman murmured.
“That’s right Alia. My name is The Slayer. I’m here to help…okay?” Buffy reassured the clearly traumatised woman. “I…if it’s not too painful…Can you tell me what happened?”
“I….We…It was mealtime…” Alia began to speak, her voice distant, as though she hadn’t even been there.
“We did our prayer to Salan’s representative and then…” Her breath came in short sharp gasps as she squeezed her son so tightly that Buffy hurried to intervine, explaining to the woman that she could take it in her on time. But Alia shook her head and soldiered on. As if aware that should she not say it now then she never would. “I…I’d heard rumours you know? Of it happening to those who displeased the Goddess… But Milo never…”
“Heard of what happening Alia? This is important, what did you hear?” Buffy leant forward, eager for information.
“T-that she would punish those who w-were unfaithful by taking their forms from them.” Alia sniffed though the tears welling in her eyes.
“Their forms?” Andrew spoke up, as he moved to refill Alia’s empty cup.
“A-and then Milo started screaming. Oh Goddess he screamed and he was tearing at his skin saying it was burning…And I couldn’t do anything t-to help him and then he wasn’t himself anymore…My Milo was gone…” Alia’s voice was hearts-wrenching by this point, but Buffy couldn’t get past her words.
“You mean the creature in the living room was…your husband?” Buffy queried hesitantly.
Alia could only nod, violet eyes filled with terror and heart-ache.
“Oh god…” Andrew’s voice behind her was horror-stricken, but she kept her focus on the woman in front of her.
“Alia…The representative you were speaking of, it’s the crystal in the other room, isn’t it?” Buffy persisted. Not mentioning that she’d pocketed the substance.
“Of c-course…Where do you hail from, not knowing of the mako?” Alia was all but shocked out of her grief.
“Oh you know, here and there.” Buffy responded vaguely. “Mako?”
“Mako is what we use for power…It is the g-gift of Salan to our people. The Trask Corporation mine it, with aid from the high temples who find those holy items amongst the power cells. Each family is permitted on representative which must be prayed to worship the Goddess.” Alia replied, her voice growing in strength as she spoke of something she knew.
“Thank you Alia.” Buffy smiled. “You’ve been a great help. Is there anyone you can go and stay with?”
“M…my mother…I can stay with her…She lives close by.” Alia nodded hesitantly.
“Well, we’ll call her over then, wont we?” Buffy comforted the other woman.
“Y…yes…” Alia nodded, her tears re-emerging.
“Alia, I promise you…” Buffy held the other woman’s hand reassuringly. “I will do everything in my power to make sure those that did this are caught.”
“T-thank you…” Alia gave her a ghost of a smile, showing how pretty she must have been before grief had struck her so violently.
Buffy smiled in response, and clenched her fists tightly in order to prevent herself from giving into the urge to break…something.
They’d stayed at that house of horrors long enough for a matronly woman to bustle in and begin to care for her daughter and grandson; shooting them a look half of gratitude (for saving her family) and half suspicion at the fact that they blatantly weren’t from around there.
The three walked (well Buffy and Andrew walked) down the pristine streets, and yet now they seemed so much darker. As though their veneer was a mere disguise for what lay beneath.
What was it The Master had said in her dream?
Not everything is as beautiful as it seems on the outside.
Certainly seemed to be the case in this bizarre planet that seemed to combine technology with outdated paganistic worship that leant more to the Romanist end of the scale.
“S…so that thing burst out of him?” Andrew questioned hesitantly, anticipating her black mood that had caused the large dent in the first wall they’d found that was far enough away so that Alia and family wouldn’t catch the noise. “Like in ‘Alien’?”
“I…I have no words. Way to take a complex and painful metamorphic transformation and devolve it into a gory sci-fi film.” Buffy tutted softly, but some of her usual façade was restored in an instant.
Influence from The Doctor maybe?
“I‘m just saying…” Andrew began but was swiftly cut off.
“I know what you meant, Andrew. Sorry, it’s just…you know.” Buffy massaged her temples.
“Sure.” Andrew nodded, attempting to present an image of nonchalance and ALMOST succeeding. “What are we going to do now?”
“Well, for a starters I thought we’d pay a visit to this 'Corporation' and find out a little more about THIS.” She tossed the ‘mako’ into the air, casually.
“Is that?!” Andrew’s eyes popped wide.
“Believe me, with all the nasties this thing’s pumping out, they do not want it in their living room.” Buffy shook her head with a frown. “Luckily however, said ickies, are allowing me to track their origin. As in big mamma.”
“And if we find that…” Andrew trailed off, eyes popping wide. “We find out who’s responsible!”
“Gold star Andy.” Buffy nodded her approval. “I knew there was a reason I kept you around.”
Rupert let out a low huff as Andrew stuck out his tongue triumphantly at the carnivore.
Buffy just sighed inwardly, the nerd of hers would never learn. He should know by now that taunting Rupert merely led to vengeance painful to all involved (read: Andrew).
“B…But, what about the mini-Slayer?” Andrew questioned.
Buffy gave wince.
“We can still find her, I mean…she’s still on planet. But that family…” Her voice faded, even as she glanced meaningfully at her companion, who nodded understanding.
Knowing how much this had to be costing her.
“And who knows, with what your people are like, she could already be helping discover the causes of this. We could run into her on the way.” Andrew suddenly pointed out, and Buffy felt her spirits lift slightly.
“Yeah, maybe we will…” Buffy gave a weak grin. “So less slacking the better.”
With that she powered on ahead, leaving Andrew and Rupert behind, glancing at one another.
“I put my foot in it again, didn’t I?” Andrew frowned.
Rupert gave an agreeing yowl, before bounding towards the Slayer, with Andrew hurrying after.
Even as the sun began to set.
Jenny stared out of the bedroom window at the moonlit street towering walls and the like. She could almost pretend that the shadows moved with intent and direction if she squinted slightly to the left.
She couldn’t sleep.
Not that this was unusual, she apparently required very little of it; and yet she knew deep down that this inability to sleep had nothing to do with biology.
Something, whatever it was, was coming.
And she could hardly wait.
She started in surprise as her door opened to reveal Imonda frowning worriedly.
“Was I keeping you awake?” Jenny queried apologetically.
“Oh no dear, it’s just…you take such little sleep. It can’t be healthy.” Imonda replied worriedly and Jenny gave a fond but tired smile at an argument that she never seemed to be able to fully win.
“I’ll be fine ’monda. Really I will.” Jenny smiled reassuringly at the woman from her perch on the window ledge.
“I do hope you aren’t sickening child, your eyes seem overbright.” Imonda glanced at her suspicious of sickness.
“I’m not.” Jenny smiled brightly, “it’s just…I don’t really know what it is actually.” Jenny smiled widely.
“And that’s good?” Imonda questioned slowly, with a raised eyebrow.
“Good? It’s fantastic.” Jenny bubbled happily. “I know it is.”
It was then that a cry for help rent the air, and before Imonda could say anything Jenny was sliding down the banisters, out the door and into the night.
As though there were wings attached to her feet.
Imonda gave a worried grumble, it wasn’t safe for young girls at this time of night. Though the majority of the things that child did weren’t safe.
She really did wish that the girl would settle down, but she supposed it was the traveller in the girl that kept her rushing here there and everywhere.
Poor dear, separated from her family so cruelly.
Imonda’s gaze fell on the wall to which young Jenny had taped two sketches that both herself and Adric agreed were almost good enough to have been done by a proper artist. Though the girl had shrugged it off as being far too easy to be interesting.
One was of a man with laughter in his smile, a mope of unruly hair and yet eyes that seemed so very old and conveyed so much emotion an air of wanderlust about him that was palpable. Her father, Jenny had said. A Doctor too, though Imonda doubted he was certified. More likely he was one of those nomads gifted with healing like in the old stories.
The other was of a woman with fire in her eyes and a mischievous smile. A pixie face and a pert nose that somehow looked pretty. A woman that seemed to, in Imonda’s view, embody adventure. Jenny’s mother had an air of combat about her, that even the pencil drawing couldn’t suppress.
The pair in the pictures fit together like pieces of a puzzle, so well it was almost romantic; and Imonda couldn’t help but pity the small family for its cruel separation.
No parent deserved to lose a child, to think them dead.
Though silently, she had to wonder if they’d had quite as much trouble with their wayward daughter as Imonda.
And their silent and unmoving, twin smiles seemed to answer for them.
They were just as wayward as their own offspring.
“Well…It’s shiny.” Buffy commented wryly as she and Andrew stared up at the towering factory of the Trask Corp.
“And also evil.” Andrew quipped, and Buffy was almost impressed, clearly he was picking up SOMETHING from his time with her.
And if that was the ability to pun with style, well there were worse skills to have picked up.
“Ain’t that always the way.” Buffy chuckled, before heading towards the entrance, a bounce in her step. “Come on, quicker we find out which moron is behind this; the quicker we can find Jenny.”
“Gotta admire a woman on a mission.” Andrew muttered, as they entered the building.
The pair never noticed the cameras which had suddenly focused on their persons, or knew of the red alert that rang in another part of the building as a non-staff member entered the building.
They did however notice when, three steps into the rather empty lobby, they were suddenly surrounded by men with blasters.
“Why is it always guns?” Andrew gave a quiet groan.
“They aren’t guns, technically.” Buffy began. “They’re actually crystal-powered blasters that let out a pulse of…” She was cut off abruptly as one of the guns were shoved in her face, making her grimace in distaste.
“The prisoners will be silent. Mr Trask wants to speak with you.” Grunted lackey number three who looked as though he wouldn’t even be able to count higher than his fingers (let along his toes). Not to mention the odd glazed look in his eyes just screamed mental control of some type.
“Well that’s kinda handy. Cos I want to speak with him.” Buffy drawled with a haughty toss of her hair.
And with that they were ‘encouraged’ towards a nearby elevator and were eventually ushered along a corridor on the fortieth floor.
“Why do we always end up getting captured?” Andrew muttered, Rupert having disappeared at some point between their entrance to the building and their capture.
That was one sneaky little feline.
“Can we maybe lighten the mood a little, seriously, a few lights could do this place a world of good.” Buffy drawled to one of her captors who was resolutely ignoring her.
“We’re talking about lighting at a time like this?” Andrew visibly gaped at her. “A little overconfident methinks?”
“How long have you known me, Andrew?” Buffy shot back, with a pointed look.
Even as they were ushered (read: pushed) into a luxurious office suite, the pair continued in their friendly bickering. And she glanced curiously around the wide and stylishly decorated room with a theme from black and leather and a particularly large hunk of the ‘mako’ set in a place of prominence, even as her gaze fell to the wide window.
Staring out onto the ‘upper’ levels of the capital.
Sparkling under a starlit sky all white marble and sleek metal more silver than grey. Yet, despite the moonlit touch makes it resemble a glowing jewel, all Buffy can see is a façade of brilliance that covers a rot she has yet to determine.
But she knows it to be there all too well.
Her attention was drawn back to the room by the sound of an utterly condescending throat clearing that only succeeds in making the throat-clearer sound like he has some obscure throat problem, rather than make him superior.
Buffy’s gaze flicks across the desk at the head of the room, behind which sits a man with close cropped, curly white hair. His face a net of fine, sharp wrinkles and hard lines
“If you‘re looking for a lozenge I‘m fresh out. I have got a packet of chips but I doubt they’d help whatever you’ve got stuck in there.” Buffy smirked condescendingly.
“Honey and lemon works, my mum does honey and lemon when I have a cold and…” Andrew began on one of his characteristic rambles and Buffy was inwardly in hysterics as the vein at their ‘hosts’ temple began to throb, vigorously.
They were shot a cool look before the man lifted a machine that she’d bet her bottom-dollar (what did that mean anyway?) that it was some sort of scanner.
“Two hearts.” The man, who Buffy was about 89.999 percent certain was in charge of the whole deal, announced without any inflections in tone. His cold, dead looking eyes fixed on her.
“No, really? I’d have never noticed without you letting me know. Thanks for telling me. Really, it explains the problems I‘ve been having with my pulse.” Her tone was wry as she placed a hand on one hip, her typical ‘pre-ass-kicking-punning-pose’, as Xander had once named it…
There was a reason she and Willow had stopped him naming things.
It never ended well.
“Aliens, then.” The man snorted condescendingly.
“Who are you?” Andrew tilted his head around the office thoughtfully. “And who does your interior décor? I mean really, sharp lines and chrome went out eras ago.”
Buffy smirked wickedly. “Like Mister D-I-Y here said, what’s the what?”
“And why exactly would I answer that little girl? You are, after all, trespassing on private property, and I could easily place a call to the authorities demanding your arrest.” The dead eyes glinted with malice in the office’s low lighting.
“And yet, you haven’t. Which leads me to the assumption that you know why we’re here, which means you were spying on us, and also means that whatever’s happening…you don’t want people to know about. So I’m really thinking that the boys-in-blue wont be making an appearance.” Buffy quirked a triumphant eyebrow as their ‘host’ barely repressed a snarl, the first alteration to his cold-as-ice projected persona.
“I am President Donovan Trask, head of Trask Corporation. And you two idiots are interfering in things you could not possibly comprehend.” Donovan’s response as he returned to his default setting, namely- arrogant distain.
“Weeell, that was ominous. Don't you think it was ominous, Andy?” Buffy snorted, as her pet-nerd nodded eagerly, and she spoke once more, before he got it into his head begin the dreaded…ramble. Sure it’d have Trask talking in seconds, but it would also (more likely than not) liquidate her very big brain and make it dribble out her ears. “Anywho…mako, what are you doing with it?”
“Mako is life, we remove it from the planet’s core and use it for power. It’s a simple and reliant form of energy.” Donovan gave a smile, that was scarier than the blank look and had clearly been rehearsed repeatedly for PR purposes.
It was a wonder they had any clients with a smile like that.
Majorly wiggy, hell the guy just screamed: megalomaniac with aspirations of domination and destruction, run now!
“That’s what they all say.” Buffy drawled sardonically. “But those mako in the houses, they were different, or at least this one was.” She tossed the glowing crystal from hand to hand lazily, watching as Donovan’s eyes remained fixed on it.
“Judging by the fact that some poor guy’s insides became his outsides.” Andrew piped up with a shiver.
“That, I’m afraid is rather classified.” Donovan replied blandly. “And that, is company property.”
“Yeah, but I’m not really one for playing by the rules, so I think little old me will be hanging on to it, especially as my unique biology means that the extra oomph of radiation you’ve got this thing pumping out wont actually affect me and all.” Buffy gave him a vapid smile, as the pale face began to purple.
What didja know, a living- mood ring, wasn’t exactly something you saw everyday.
“Yeah, I noticed the little addition which appears designed to react with a compound of some for and create instant ooglie-booglies. But it raises the question firstly, what exactly are you trying to pull her and b) how the hell did you get that compound into only certain people?” Buffy flipped the sonic pen into the air casually.
“Those induced with the g-compound were willingly introduced to the super-soldier project.” Donovan waved a hand airily. “They signed a waiver should side-effects occur.”
“Side-effects? He turned into a giant dog-monster wearing a skin-suit!” Andrew yelped.
“Not to mention I doubt they knew that would be a possible side-effect.” Buffy snorted. “But super-soldier project, I’d have assumed on a planet as ‘advanced’ as this one, there would at least be some form of restrictions on experimentation.”
“Don’t be foolish my dear, these days, all it takes for your dreams to come true is money and power. No one would dare stand against this corporation, we own 100 percent of the planet’s energy resources.” Donovan responded smugly, clearly missing the sarcasm in her tone.
“Besides, I can pretty much guarantee that I’m going to stop you from…ooh, let me guess. Activating the transformation, which was blatantly the intended outcome, don’t try and use the side-effects excuse, it’s terrible. So I’m figuring you’ve got some way of activating and controlling these ‘soldiers’ and are planning…world domination? Am I ringing any bells here?” She flashed a cheeky grin, but her eyes were cool, utterly serious and promising pain.
“Impressive deduction my dear.” Donovan steepled his fingers as he leant on his desk, staring at her with those empty, emotionless eyes. “You see, this company has held the mako monopoly on this world for the past 50 years, ever since its discovery. Unfortunately both the government and the High Temple have decided our… influence is too great, and have thus been limiting our power.”
“I wonder why?” Buffy muttered cynically, eying the blatantly brainwashed guards that still guarded the door.
“Obviously they’ve given excuses, negative effect on the environment, the sources are being overused, utter nonsense of course but there you are.” Donovan waved a hand uncaringly. “So naturally something had to be done. Our discovery of a new form of mako containing a bizarre form of radiation was simply somewhat of a gift. The results of the project within the staff of the company has been beyond our scientists’ wildest dreams. Using said transformative process, the company will have obtained an army large enough to crush those that would attempt to prevent our control of this planet and…”
“Is there gonna be an intermission in this? Cos the whole ‘I will rule the world bwah ha ha’ speech is getting a little old. Think carbon dated, vamp nail polish, the Roman Empire.” Buffy interrupted idly, giving a slight yawn.
“Very well, miss. You do have a point regarding the matter. I tend to get rather carried away on the subject. Unfortunately you’ve drawn attention to the situation, if you’d just left that family to perish we could simply have labelled it an unsolved murder. As it is, we’re going to have to go straight to the final phase and implement the global transformation.” Donovan sighed in false disgruntlement that made her frown at the complete disregard of other life forms.
“What exactly makes you think you’ll get away with…oh Rassilon, how cliché was that?” Buffy felt a horrified expression cross her face. “I’ve been hanging around with The Doctor too much, he’s tainted my punning skills with his melodramatic one-liners. Andrew, you’d tell me if I was becoming a stereotypical ‘hero’ wouldn’t you?” She turned wide-eyed to her now on the spot companion.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, humanity at it’s finest.” Buffy threw out an arm as through presenting and act.
“You really are rather amusing, you know.” Donovan pulled a face that was neither amused nor all that impressive. “Nevertheless, I’m a busy man, so if you’ll excuse me. I have a dinner to attend and a plan for planet-wide domination to watch come into fruition.” His lips were a thin line in a pale face. “However, I’m sure you’ll be re-introduced to the soldier project after we initiate the final phase. Hopefully, whatever we’ll be able to extract from your dead bodies, or what’s left of them, will be quite useful for future experimentation. After all, a bino-cardiovascular system could prove an interesting addition to the program.”
“Just what I always wanted, to be a science project for a make-your-own Timelord kit.” Buffy snorted.
“I’m sure you’ll have fun.” Donovan walked past them with a casual air, utterly confident they couldn’t stop him.
Megalomaniacs, their greatest strength was also their greatest weakness…ego.
The guns trained on them discouraged them from following as the doors were closed behind Donovan and his little swarm of zombi-fied minions; the sound of a locking mechanism echoing threateningly.
“That wasn’t good…was it?” Andrew ventured with a frown even as Buffy studied the door with a frown of discontent.
“Bastard’s deadlocked the room, means not even the sonic can get us out. Brilliant, spectacular, fan-frigging-tastic…” Buffy growled as she thumped a fist against the door. “We’re stuck in here, while the wannabe Frankenstein out there is about to unleash his creations on this planet.”
“Couldn't we just shut it off, you know, cut the wires? Short the door lock out?” He waved uncertainly to beeping and whirring machines across the walls.
“That could work. Even better, we could just kick the plug right out of the socket!” Buffy snorted sarcastically clicking her fingers.
“Sorry, I just figured…” Andrew began in a particularly high pitched tone that suggested she wouldn’t be getting any baked goods any time in the future.
“Waiiit….” Buffy’s eyes suddenly popping wide falling from the machines lining the walls to the window which covered an entire side of the room; wicked grin crossing her face. “Andrew, you’re a genius!”
“I am?” Andrew blinked, then smiled eagerly. “I mean, I am! I’m amazing in my knowledge of…”
“Don’t push it.” Buffy cut him off bluntly, already getting to work on her most recent escape plan.
She was getting rather good at those...
She was going to ignore that...for now...
Jenny’s feet pounded across the pavement.
She was running, running, running…
She’d missed the running.
Running towards the screams that needed to be stopped.
Damsels to save (not necessarily girls), ferocious monsters to stop and a planet to save; her face stretching into an eager smile as her feet crossed the pavement which began to shift from mucky cobbles to shined white that felt slippy underfoot.
She never noticed the glowing eyes that followed her movements in the darkness…
TO BE CONTINUED…