: Applying LeverageAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupRating
: The words are mine; the worlds are not.Summary
: B:tVS/Terra Nova. "Speaking of secrets," Buffy said, frowning at Mira. "What brought you to Terra Nova, anyway?"
: Post-series for Buffy, no comics; Terra Nova circa 1.10 "Now You See Me"Notes
: Finally picking this back up again, for the August ficathon. More fallout from "Paging Eryshion"....
Buffy let Nate lead as they hop-scotched across the rocks edging the rushing stream. She could probably have gone twice the speed he was managing without falling into the water, if she didn't let her attention wander; but they were there looking for signs of Lucas, not trying to cover as much ground as possible.
"You sure it was a good idea to leave Jim in charge of the colony while we're gone?" she asked, then leapt to the top of a boulder next to the trail for a better look around, scanning slate-colored stone and thickly grown vegetation for any sign that another human had been there before them.
"Why?" Nate glanced up and back at her, brow furrowed at the question. "You don't think he's the right man for the job?"
Buffy made a see-sawing motion with her hand. "I think he can do
it, I just think there's a lot going on right now with Skye under house arrest, her mom turning up alive with a possible cure for sincyllic fever, and two other women not on the colony rolls showing up out of nowhere. Whatever you told Boylan to shut him up, he's sure not stopping anyone else
from gossiping in his bar. Everyone knows the Sherriff's involved somehow, and not everyone trusts him the way you do."
"Well, I'm not exactly disinterested in this situation myself," Nate shrugged, then turned his attention back to the stream. They were nearing the head of a small waterfall, and he'd unshipped his backpack, rooting around in it for the coil of rope he'd brought along. "And short of trying to explain magic to the whole colony, there's not much I can do about the gossip. Regardless, he's the only person with any authority I can be one hundred percent sure will keep the Sixers out while Wash and I are both OTG. We may have blinded Mira's main eyes in camp, but Boylan can't have been the only one working deals with her people on the side."
"Oh, I agree," Buffy shrugged. "I just wonder what the hell else he and Willow are going to get up to while we're gone," she added, grinning mischievously at him. "They both have a way of... improvising in unexpected situations, you may have noticed."
Her nephew gave her an amused, rueful look, then finished securing his rope and picked his way around to start rappelling down the steep rocks beside the waterfall. "Oh, I'm sure it'll be fine," he said. "How much damage could they do in twenty four hours, really?"
Buffy snorted. "I'll be sure and tell them who they have to thank for jinxing them when we get back," she said, then eyed the slanted cliff and took a running leap, taking the height in a few carefully placed bounds. She landed in a crouch at the bottom before Nate was even halfway down, smiling to herself at the exertion. Her Slayer side hadn't got much of a workout in Terra Nova, just that one incident when the dino herd had charged the colony and that raid on the Sixers, and it felt good to stretch her abilities.
Nate made a noise of disgust as he came down after her-- but Buffy didn't stick around to hear whatever smart remark he'd undoubtedly have added. Her gaze had caught on another cliff-like protrusion a dozen yards away, covered with white etchings clearly visible against the dark rock. The symbols could have meant anything from summoning spells to wormhole equations for all she knew, but they had definitely been put there by human agency. "This what you're looking for?" she said, pointing them out.
Her nephew glanced over as he reached the bottom, then started unhooking himself from the rope. He narrowed his eyes at the mathematical angles and curves, then started searching around under their feet as well-- and finally paused as his eyes lit on a charred pile of sticks nearby. "Yeah. He was here."
Buffy skipped over to the impromptu firepit, crouching to place a hand over the blackened stubs of wood. "Cold," she said, shaking her head. "It's been a while since he was here."
Nate sighed as he crossed the rocks to join her, staring down at the symbols scrawled under and around the ashes. Then he slung his bag off his shoulder again, retrieving a black light to aim at the markings. "Looks like he's gotten closer to a solution, too. Damn; I was hoping the fact that Mira never got her hands on that box had slowed him down."
Buffy opened her mouth to reply-- then whirled abruptly on the spot as she felt a subconscious itch
approaching behind her. There were only a handful of people sharing the planet with her at the moment who had also been touched by the supernatural, and half of those were currently with the enemy; and unluckily, were also two of the only people who might expect the colony leader to come to that spot without any backup. Good thing she'd insisted on coming along.
She whipped a knife off her belt, holding it up in position to throw-- and came face to face with Mira, who seemed as startled to see Buffy as Nate was at her quick movement. The terrorist leader had a sonic rifle in her hands, but wasn't quite able to arm it by the time Buffy released the knife in a quick, hard throw, hurling it so it hit Mira's left wrist pommel first. Before she could recover from that, Nate was on his feet again, pulling his pistol to back Buffy up, and Mira swore.
"Not quite what you had in mind, was it?" Buffy snarked. "I'm starting to really enjoy foiling your plans. Put the gun down."
Mira was still wearing a bandage around her right upper arm from the bullet she'd caught in Buffy's night-time raid to retrieve Deborah Tate, and her hand tightened visibly on the stock of the rifle for a moment. Then she took a deep breath and took her bruised hand off the gun, crouching slowly to lay it on the rocks.
Nate scrambled over to retrieve the weapon, then holstered his own handgun, yanked a long serrated knife off Mira's belt, and took a few long steps back. "What are you doing here, Mira?" he asked, warily.
"Same thing you are, apparently," she said, glaring between the pair of them sourly as Buffy stooped to retrieve her own knife.
"What, you can't just ask Lucas directly what he's up to?" Taylor replied.
She snorted, unamused. "You think he actually tells me all the details of his work? It's been a couple of weeks since the last time he stopped by the camp. This job was only supposed to take six months, and it's been more than three years
"And it's going to be even longer, since he never got the computer you were supposed to bring through for him, isn't it?" Buffy chirped, giving her a false smile. "Oh! Yeah; didn't we tell you we figured out what's in the box? We've got a computer genius of our own who finally cracked it. You might have seen her the other day; red haired girl, has a real gift for area of effect electronic suppression."
Mira's face darkened at that. "So that's why our guns didn't work when you stormed the camp. Was she the reason half my people wouldn't wake up until you were long gone, too? Some kind of new, aerosolized suppressant drug?"
"A girl's got to keep some
of her secrets," Buffy replied. Then she used her knife to cut off a length of Nate's rope, and approached the woman, gesturing for her to turn around.
Mira tensed, but obeyed, fuming as Buffy secured her wrists; she was probably used to being able to beat most people in hand to hand combat, but she and Buffy had already gone a round, and while she'd got a lick in during their brief struggle earlier Buffy had put up quite a fight. If Mira was going to try to bolt now, she'd probably wait until Nate was the one guarding her, not the Slayer.
That thought reminded Buffy of something Willow had told her, and she frowned. "Speaking of secrets," she continued. "What brought you to Terra Nova, anyway? We figured your employers must have gamed the lottery somehow to put their people in. But why you? I know-- I know
-- you have a better developed sense of right and wrong than to think you're actually on the side of the angels, here."
"You do, do you?" Mira glared over her shoulder at her. "And who's to say you're
on the side of the angels? The last time I tried to stand up for what I believed in, your precious government threw me in prison
for my efforts. And then my daughter got sick, and I had no money to treat her. What was I supposed to do, turn down the offer that might mean I could save her, and strike back at the dome-bred assholes lording it over all the rest of us at the same time? You can take your 'sense of right and wrong' and shove
Buffy flinched back a little at the woman's vehemence, some of her anger seeping out of her at the story. Sure, Mira could just be fishing for sympathy with that blunt speech-- but it was disturbingly plausible. And goddess knew Buffy was there for much the same reason. The only difference was, she'd been able to make a clean break from her would-be masters, and her flesh and blood had already arrived in Terra Nova ahead of her.
She cleared her throat, then shot a warning look at Nate, hoping he would go with what she was about to suggest. Nate frowned back, but nodded; he probably had some idea where she intended to take the conversation. Not the partially activated potential Slayer thing-- she hadn't shared that with him yet-- but the family angle. After what had happened with Willow and then Kara, he should see the potential to blow the whole war open here as well as she did.
"You're not the only one who had to leave family behind," Buffy continued, softening her tone. "You ought to know, since you were so willing to use Josh's girlfriend against him."
"You think another sob story will change anything for me?" Mira replied, scornfully. "I'm not going to switch sides and worship at Taylor's altar while her life
depends on this. Even if it takes Lucas another
three years to finish the calculations longhand."
"And what if her life didn't
depend on it?" Buffy said, bluntly. "What if I told you we have something new in camp, a trick our new computer guru figured out, that lets us bring people from the future without activating the portal directly?"
Mira's eyes flashed, and her posture stiffened. "That's not possible," she spat.
"Oh, but it is," Nate added, nonchalantly. "I nearly had a heart attack when my niece here demonstrated proof of concept; I thought for a minute she and her friend might be in league with you
, that you were trying to suborn my Sherriff and his family. But they proved to me that wasn't the case. They can
bring people through, one at a time. Anyone."
"I don't believe you," Mira insisted, glaring at both of them.
Buffy shrugged. "You will, when we get you back to camp. You know what Kara looks like, right? You've talked with her, because of Josh? And you know you
didn't summon her."
Disbelief and hope flickered across Mira's face, and she swallowed hard. "If you're mocking me...."
Nate exchanged a long look with Buffy, promising a detailed conversation later-- if they could convert Mira, it would change everything
"We're not," he said, gently. Then he gestured with the muzzle of the rifle. "C'mon. You'll see."