Chapter Thirty Three
The Doctor had done his work well, Buffy thought. But so had she. The trick with the eyestalk worked like a charm, when they could get the aim right — which wasn't often, seeing as hitting a Dalek down its eyestalk needed way more precision than hitting a vampire in its heart. But considering her background in staking vampires, and the other Slayers' backgrounds in fighting Daleks, they were all doing pretty well.
(Besides, Adam had gotten most of them.)
The annoying thing about the Daleks was that, when they were almost beaten, they kept shouting, "EMERGENCY TEMPORAL SHIFT!" and disappearing. Which sucked. Buffy had seen the white Dalek — the Dalek Supreme — do it, too, right before she'd hit him in the eyestalk.
But at least the Daleks were gone from this time zone, anyways.
And as for the Adam army — well, the Daleks had destroyed most of them, too. But as for those left over, the Quantum whatever thing that had been shoved inside the Slayers' guns seemed to be doing pretty good cellular decay stuff. Buffy didn't know what any of that really meant, but she knew that after the Adam-lookalikes got shot by the Slayers' guns, she could beat them up. Slayer style.
Which was awesome.
And these Slayers had hand-to-hand fighting skills that Buffy had never seen before. Ever.
"Freddy taught me that one," said Wendy, after she'd just done a flying flip-kick-double-handed-shoot combination that managed to dislodge one of the creatures' heads. "Except I think the Ice Lords do it with swords, not guns and crossbows."
Their style was a mixture of every Earth fighting style that Buffy had ever seen, combined with a whole bunch of alien stuff that was fairly impressive.
As for the nonhumans — Buffy had been kind of shocked to find Freddy was way more dexterous and adept in hand-to-hand than a big lumbering reptile should be. And there were a number of other nonhumans from other ships in the fleet, who were getting the best of the Adam-look-alike army.
Then the Carflodashians from the fleet came swooping in, and it was pretty obvious that IPSA was going to win.
Buffy, herself, had gone strictly with the crossbow. She didn't know how to use the Slayers' guns, and decided to just stick to what she was good at. Besides, with a whole army of girls who'd never seen a projectile weapon before, they needed help on the crossbow front.
And… funny enough... Buffy still had the original crossbow she'd brought from the 21st century.
Buffy swung around, and there, at the other end of the room, were the Doctor and Ashley. She dodged, darted, and flipped through the room to get to them, her relief at seeing the Doctor still alive and well flooding her entire body.
She made to grab him into a hug, but the Doctor caught her hand, instead, and tugged her after them, as he and Ashley began running forwards once more.
"No time!" said the Doctor. "Now that you're here, we've got to get back to the temporal teleporter and destroy it for good, before Adam works out how to use the technology."
They wound up in front of the door to a large, vaulted metal room that Buffy recognized from earlier. They were about to step inside, when Adam himself came lumbering forwards, looking far more decayed but still going strong.
Adam blocked their path with his enormous frame.
"Well, you're looking a bit shabby," said the Doctor. "Almost as if you'd been buried in the ground for the last 1800 years."
"You use humor to mask your fear," said Adam, although his voice was now far more electronic sounding. "An interesting, yet ultimately flawed philosophy. I have no fear."
"Or need for a haircut," said Buffy, pointing at his decayed head, where his hair had almost completely fallen out. "I like the bald, partially decayed look on you. Very attractive."
Adam thrust his arm forwards to grab for Buffy's neck, but the Doctor threw himself onto Buffy and pushed her out of the way, the two of them tumbling onto the floor.
Ashley pulled up her Dalek-Buster gun.
"Don't!" Buffy warned, but it was too late.
Ashley had already pulled the trigger.
The blast surged into Adam, rippling across his body and renewing him, revitalizing his decaying form, giving him strength. Buffy watched, in horror, as all the decay began to go away, all signs of weakness left him, and he stood up, straight and tall, just as he'd been before.
"Quantum Fluctuator inside the gun barrel," the Doctor muttered. "Now reversed."
Adam met Ashley's eyes. "Thank you for that," he said, and his arm morphed into a machine gun barrel.
The Doctor leapt up in front of Ashley. "No, wait!" he shouted. He put up his hands. "We surrender!"
Adam looked at him in vague amusement. "What makes you think I have any need for you, anymore, Doctor?" he asked. "I no longer require your TARDIS. The Daleks' time technology is already here, already accessible. I could take it and do everything I've ever wanted."
"I know you need me," said the Doctor, "because you haven't killed me, yet."
Adam considered, then collapsed the machine gun back into his arm. "You might be useful."
"Of course I would," the Doctor said. "Because you've realized, by now, that Ashley and I already sabotaged the Daleks' time technology, before we picked up Elizabeth. You need me, because you want me to fix it."
"Amongst other things," Adam admitted.
"Then I fully and completely surrender," said the Doctor, "on the one condition that you let my friends live, as well." He gave Adam a dark and angry stare. "Harm either of them, and you forfeit my help."
Adam took a few seconds to think the matter over, then grinned. "Very well, then." He grabbed Buffy by the arm, and dragged her towards him. His other arm turned back into the machine gun, and Adam pointed it at Buffy's head. "She is your insurance."
Ashley looked about ready to punch someone, but the Doctor held her back, handing Ashley Buffy's dropped crossbow, instead.
Adam turned and opened the door to the temporal teleporter, dragging Buffy inside. Buffy struggled, tried to flip him over her shoulder, but… darn it, that Dalek-Buster that Ashley had used had way too much power, and Adam had, apparently, wound up making himself stronger and more resilient than any member of his army.
"If you don't stop struggling," Adam told her, in an unemotional voice, "I will kill the amber-haired one."
"Elizabeth," the Doctor said, as he and Ashley emerged into the room. His voice soft, gentle, drifting through the air. "Remember."
And she did.If you believe in them, if you give them the chance, they will show you just how amazing they are.
Buffy stopped struggling. And as Adam sealed them inside the temporal teleporter room, Buffy looked out at the Doctor and Ashley, and realized — she had to trust Ashley. An IPSA member. One of the girls who'd turned the Doctor over to Adam, back when Buffy had been a captive on Adam's ship. One of the girls who'd throw his life away in a second if it meant preserving Buffy's own.
But Ashley was still a human being. One that could choose to make the right choice.
So Buffy had to believe in her.
Because Adam was wary of Buffy — she'd be under constant guard the whole time. And as for the Doctor — Adam wasn't about to take any chances. But Ashley was an unknown. Flying below the radar. She was the only one of them who could do anything.
Ashley could take the opportunity to make the wrong choice. She could throw the Doctor at Adam, then activate the teleporter and drag Buffy back at the last second. She could save Buffy and destroy the Doctor in so many ways.
Or… Ashley could make the right choice, and save them all.