"I always thought it wasn't as much fun, after they gave in," Ed complained. He glanced over at the prisoner, jabbering away in that terrified tone of voice. "I mean, look at him. He's just telling us stuff, now. That's not challenging."
"At least he hasn't killed us," said Leandra. "Yet." She hugged her arms, and shuddered, her eyes flicking back to the broken Time Lord. "I don't care what Razor says. He's still dangerous."
"Razor could kill you," Ed reminded her. "We're not completely invulnerable. The Time Lord proved that. If you challenge him, you could die."
Leandra grumbled, but clearly took Ed's point. "If I were still invulnerable," she said, "I'd tell him to his face. That this is a trick. That he's being an idiot. I mean, look!" She pointed over at the Doctor, still chained to the floor, but less securely. "We don't even have a hostage, anymore! And you know that's the only real threat the prisoner ever responds to."
"The prisoner doesn't need threats, anymore," Ed reminded her. "His spirit's broken. He'll do anything we say, tell us anything we want to know." He smiled. "We've won."
Leandra scowled. "The last time we said that," she muttered, "he killed Joe."
Ed didn't answer.
"I say we're invulnerable enough," said Leandra. "We should kill the Time Lord, and get out of here."
"You're afraid of him."
"No," Leandra retorted. She glanced back at the Doctor, again, nervously, then tried to hide the action. "Like you said. He's broken. It's no fun to torture them after they're broken."
"I beg to disagree," said Razor, as he approached. Still wearing that same proud smile that had graced his face ever since he'd broken his prisoner. "He's much more fun to play with, this way." His eyes rested on Leandra. "You've done enough playing on your own."
Leandra got up, her eyes on the Doctor, then turned and left.
Razor regarded her, amused, then turned to Ed. "The moment the TARDIS is destroyed, I want a full attack on the Slayer Institution," he said. "Wipe it out completely. Then we move on to Torchwood Cardiff." His eyes narrowed. "Jack Harkness knows the Time Lord. He could be dangerous."
"So does the Slayer," said Ed. He hesitated, recalling there was more than one of them, now. "The… Summers… Slayer."
Razor laughed. "But our spy reports that she's terrified!" he said. "Her Institution is a joke, her army is weak, and she's running on empty. Summers is not a threat."
Ed opened his mouth to negate this, but decided against it. Better not to antagonize Razor. Not now that they all knew Razor could kill them. "And this… Harkness…?"
"A threat," Razor confirmed, "but I've heard he dies easy." He glanced back at the broken Doctor, giving a little chuckle. "So much better, getting information this way." Then turned back to Ed. "I've told Oliver to deal with Harkness. He won't be a problem for very much longer."
Ed nodded. "And me?"
"The Farms," said Razor. He handed Ed a piece of paper. "These are the solutions to the technical problems you've been having with the security systems. Make sure the Farms are fixed, properly secured, and hidden before our attack."
Ed took the paper from Razor. Glanced it over. The modifications were… confusing. Complicated. Like nothing Ed had ever seen before, or could really understand. But Ed pretended he understood them, completely. After all. If he was considered stupid, and Razor decided he didn't need him anymore… then it was goodbye Ed.
Amazing, how mortality changed everything.
"And singularity?" Ed asked.
"Coming," said Razor. "In good time."
Ed folded the papers that Razor had given him, and tucked them into his jacket pocket. Razor gave a proud grin. He clapped his hands, then turned to the others in the room.
"This is it, people!" Razor shouted. "Nearly time to destroy the world!"
Joanna was thinking. Head down, her mind engaged, her eyes unaware of her surroundings.
Until she ran right into the person in front of her.
"Sorry," Joanna muttered. Then stopped, as she looked at the woman she'd run into.
An old woman. But strong. With a proud stance, and eyes that shone with determination and strength. She glanced at Joanna, a kind smile on her lips.
"You'll need this," she said, dropping a small stone into Joanna's hand. "Keep it with you. A gift from a friend."
Joanna looked at the stone. A completely small, ordinary looking stone — like the woman had just picked it up from the sidewalk or something. Then looked back at the woman. And dropped the stone into her pocket, without really knowing why.
"Good," the woman said. "But you must promise that you'll tell no one I was here. Tell no one I ever intervened."
Joanna blinked. Then blinked again. Then gave a small laugh.
"You're a nut," she told the woman. And walked off.
The woman's form became vague and shapeless, losing its corporeality, her eyes following Joanna as the human left. "Hope you understand what you wished for, Buffy Summers," said the non-corporeal entity, sadly, as it vanished into midair.
Oliver waited. And observed.
Harkness was dangerous. That's what he'd been told. Get rid of Harkness — himself. Personally. No use in relying on their spy to carry out an order as important as this.
Thing was, at the moment, Harkness appeared to be speaking with someone. A young girl, with straight brown hair, and piercing blue eyes. Her face looked brave, her eyes determined, yet there was a softness and caring in her every movement that seemed to shine through.
Too bad they weren't taking hostages, anymore. She'd make a good hostage. Just the kind of girl the prisoner liked.
Just the kind that made him really devastated, when they killed her.
Still. Now that they weren't taking hostages, the girl served no purpose. Except that she was in the way of their target. And that was easily taken care of.
Oliver signaled to the others nearby. It was time for an ambush.
And those two were going to die.
"All I'm saying," Dawn explained to Jack, "is that, when the Doctor eventually comes to pick up Rose and take her across the universe, he'd better be prepared for a serious fistfight with my sister. Because Buffy's not letting Rose go all un-normal and space-travelly without a fight."
Jack gave a soft laugh. "Your sister against the Doctor," he said. "That I'd like to see."
Then he froze. His eyes fixed just beyond Dawn's shoulder. And tugged her behind him.
Dawn spun around, to find a group of vampires — full scale, pointy-toothed, yellow-eyed vampires — had emerged just behind where she'd been standing. Then looked around, and discovered that Jack's noble gesture had been pointless.
Both she and Jack had been surrounded. And neither had noticed a thing.
Jack pulled out his gun. "Any of you lays a finger on her," he warned.
The leader of the vampire group stepped forwards, amused. "That can't kill us," he said. "It's useless against the undead."
Jack regarded the gun. "Yeah," he said, with a shrug. "But I bet it'll still hurt." And fired.
The leader of the vampire group cringed as the bullets lodged inside his flesh. But… as he said… he didn't die. Just shouted a command at the others, who advanced towards Dawn and Jack.
Dawn screamed, as she watched the vampires grab hold of Jack and literally rip him apart. Limbs flying off, head torn from his body, chest cavity torn to shreds.
Oh, God. Dawn knew he was immortal, but… no one was that
She tried to run, but was grabbed from behind, dangled from the hoodie of her jacket in front of a waiting vampire. Who smiled at her.
"The icing on the cake," he said, and brought her closer, so he could bite.
Then started back, with a scream.
Dawn felt herself dropped to the ground, trying to regain her breath. She… she was alive. Untouched. She could get away! She stumbled to her feet, and tried to escape.
Another hand, grabbing for her, but this one sizzled the moment it touched her chest. The resulting scream matched the first one, as Dawn scrambled away.
"She… she burns!" one of the vampires shouted. "She burns!"
"Then kill her, already!" The vampire leader shouted back. "What are you waiting for?"
Dawn heard the cocking of a gun — oh, God, Jack's gun, probably — and hit the ground, rolling to try to avoid the shots. That's what people did in movies, right? They went down onto the ground and stuff? Except… that the vampires still had her surrounded, and were reaching for her, trying to grab her by her clothing, and there was no way Dawn could escape.
This was it.
She was going to die. She, Dawn Summers, was going to die, right here and now, and there was nothing she could do to stop it. And then Buffy was going to go completely nuts and wind up killing herself, and then the Doctor would probably keep getting tortured by vampires forever, and…
A pair of hands jerked Dawn out of the way, as a new, machine-gun-sounding barrage of gunfire opened on the vampires, from the other end of the street.
"Key," came a woman's voice, in Dawn's ear.
Dawn's brain staggered, trying to digest what the hell was going on. "I… I'm not…"
"Your TARDIS key!" the woman demanded. "Come on! Those vamps aren't going to hang around forever."
"TARDIS…" Dawn reached down. And realized that she was still wearing that TARDIS key the Doctor had given her, so long ago. The one she wore so often, she barely remembered it was there, anymore.
But she took it out, now. And saw that it was glowing.
The woman snatched it out of her hands, and shoved it into a little contraption. "Look away," the woman warned. "This might hurt your eyes."
And pressed a button.
A searing light shot out of the contraption, and the vampires shrieked as they turned and ran away, fleeing as if their lives depended on it. When the light faded, all that remained in the alley was Jack's gun, and his… dismembered remains.
Dawn thought she was going to be sick.
"She okay?" came a man's voice, at the other end of the alley. A voice… Dawn recognized.
"Looks it," the woman replied. "I'll check." Gentle hands turned her around, concerned eyes looking her over. And Dawn suddenly realized that… she knew who the woman was.
And the man.
"But you're…" Dawn glanced over her shoulder, at the blond man advancing towards them. "And he's…"
"Hey there, kid," said Riley, patting Dawn on the head. "Glad to see you made it."
"Sorry we're late, but we first found out what was going on when we were in the middle of the Amazon," the woman that Dawn now recognized as Riley's wife — Samantha Finn — explained. "You've got no idea how hard it was to get here."
Dawn tried to form words, but all that came out was a kind of worried gasping.
Sam glanced over at her husband. "I'll take care of her," she assured him. "You go to the Slayer Institution. Let Buffy know we've arrived."
Riley gave Sam a nod, then slung the gun over his shoulder and ran off.
Sam took the TARDIS key out of the contraption, and handed it back to Dawn. "Thanks for this," she said. "Sarah Jane gave me that tip. Only works when the TARDIS is on Earth. It's a shame the light doesn't kill them, but it usually scares them off at least once. Until they wise up to it."
And then it registered, in Dawn's mind, that Sam had known about the TARDIS key. And known that it would frighten off the vampires.
"But… but you…" Dawn shook her head, trying to clear her brain. "The key. How did you know…?"
Sam grinned. "Let's just say," she replied, "that you and I have a friend in common."