Chapter Twenty Three
: Guess who?
And guess what she'll go on to do to Torchwood in about 2 years time?
"Good thing none of us are vegetarians," said Kennedy, as they roasted the puffin they'd caught, earlier that day.
They'd run out of food, nearly a week ago. And had been roughing it ever since.
"Are you sure we're actually heading to Tasiilaq?" Xander asked. "Because, got to tell you. I'm nothing without my GPS."
"According to the compass, the northern star, and the map, we're on the right track," said Dawn. Sighed. "It's taking forever, though, huh?"
"It's okay," said Andrew. "We can be just like—"
Andrew stopped talking, as he noticed the angry glares from the people surrounding him.
"Okay," Andrew muttered, backing off. "No more post-apocalyptic movie references. I get it."
"For a post-apocalyptic world," said Dawn, hugging her knees to her chest, "this one's pretty boring. Since Ria left, there's been, like, no one. Nothing."
"Not complaining," said Faith, slouching in place. The light from the fire flickered across her face. "Got a lot of ground to cover. Freezing weather. Wild animals. No food or shelter." She gave an uneasy shrug. "Can't imagine all that with hordes of Toclafane around, too."
They all looked at one another. Bedraggled, dirty, stuffed into the warmest coats they'd managed to salvage from Qaqortoq, and still shivering with cold.
But they were alive.
"I hope Ria's all right," Kennedy said, softly, as she took the Puffin down from the spit, and began to slice it up, using one of the Boba Fett knives.
"I hope Buffy's all right," Xander added, taking a piece of bird.
"It's not interfering with the Archangel Network!" Seo insisted. She pointed down at the device that she and Luke were furiously attempting to construct, based on a number of cannibalized cell phones and every still-working electronic gadget they could find in the run-down ruins of Leicester. "The Toclafane don't use Archangel to communicate with each other. We're just trying to find the Toclafane's
communications network, and tap into it
. Tell the Toclafane we're serious."
Buffy didn't like it. Really didn't like it.
"It won't muck up my father's plan," Seo reiterated.
"We're designing a device to send the Toclafane into full sensory deprivation," Luke explained, calmly. "It makes perfect sense. If the Toclafane can't see, they'll stop shooting."
Buffy groaned. "You ever see a Dalek shot through the eyestalk," she muttered, "and you'll know that's a lie."
Buffy turned to Seo. "I get why he thinks this is a good idea," she said. Crossed her arms. "Question is… why do you?"
Seo clasped her hands behind her back, trying to look innocent. "I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, come on, you're so totally trying to pull something!" snapped Buffy. She shook out her hair behind her back. "What is it about you and the Toclafane, all of a sudden? I thought you were planning to banish them to another realm, here!"
"Dawn and I will send the Toclafane back to their parents," Seo replied. "But, in the meantime, I can make them better. I have to."
Luke paused, looking up at Seo. Staring at her, as if she were insane. "What?"
"Well, if they misbehave," Seo explained, "we can just zap them with this thing. It'll put them into sensory deprivation for a few minutes. And, after enough zaps, eventually, they'll learn."
Alison shook her head, slumping down against the wall. "I can't believe this," she said. "The Toclafane are monsters, Seo. No souls. You can't
make them better!"
"Look, I get that you don't like killing things," said Willow, coming over to Seo and Luke. "But… seriously. Just this once. We really, really need a weapon that can kill these Toclafane."
Seo stared at Willow, eyes wide and hurt. "But… they're just kids."
"They're not kids!" Alison shouted. Ready to rip out her hair. "They're not even people! They destroyed the world, Seo! They killed everyone!"
"They are sadistic maniacs," Luke agreed. "Who kill both human adults and human children. Even you've been upset about that one."
Seo looked a little sheepish. Her eyes fixed on the ground.
None of them could deny the way Seo had completely exploded, seeing the bodies of dead children on the ground, in Rothamsted Park. Children massacred by the Toclafane.
"Dad never killed me, when I made mistakes," Seo muttered. "And I learned."
Luke scooted back in his chair, his eyes on the electronics spread across the table. "I'm not doing this," he said. Stood up, walked over to Alison and Buffy, stood by them. "The Toclafane killed my mum. I'm not building a weapon that'll just slap them on the wrists and not actually help anything."
"Seo, I don't know how many ways I can tell you this," said Alison, subconsciously taking Luke's hand. "The Toclafane aren't
like you. You
don't want to hurt anyone. The Toclafane
think of hurting people as recreation."
"They're just—" Seo began.
But she was snatched up, a hand put over her mouth, before she could go on. Willow, still weak from blood loss, but soldiering on despite everything, held Seo still, listening. As the stomp of boots echoed from the floor below.
They'd been found.
Buffy grabbed up the backpacks from the ground, tossed them to each of the team members, as Willow secured a rope to the far end of the wall, then shoved the end out the window. Buffy glanced at Willow, worriedly, not sure Willow was healed enough from the last Toclafane attack to go down the rope, but Willow nodded at her, and Buffy relented. Quickly, silently, they all scrambled for the window, shimmying down the rope as fast as they could.
Not fast enough.
The troops smashed their way through the door, before Seo or Willow had even begun to climb down. Seo and Willow raised up their hands, as the UFC forces pointed guns at them.
Behind the UFC troops, a group of Toclafane emerged, giggling.
"Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg," said one UFC guy. "Class alpha dissidents." He grinned. "Hello promotion."
Seo looked down at herself, only just having time to register who they'd mistaken her for, before Willow yanked Seo off her feet and threw her out the window. Seo tumbled through the air, desperately trying to find something to grab onto.
And fell right into the arms of her mom, who toppled to the ground under the force of the impact.
The rope was cut, and dropped to the ground.
"Will…?" Buffy whispered.
But that was when a massive glow of red energy swelled through the building, shaking it apart, making it crumble and topple and then explode with a force so violent, it slammed Buffy, Luke, Seo, and Alison against the sidewalk.
They just had time to see Willow, floating in midair, a magical red halo encompassing her.
Before a Toclafane swooped by, and shot her down.
And she exploded into nothing.
"Willow!" Buffy screamed. She jumped to her feet, racing for the rubble, screaming for her fallen friend, not even noticing as the Toclafane advanced on her. Giving evil little laughs.
Just then, a UFC van pulled up out of nowhere, a woman in a black Kevlar vest with long black hair jumping out, gun in hand.
"UFCA Johnson," said the woman to the Toclafane. "Master wants these four alive." She gestured at the ground troops surrounding her. "Take 'em."
Luke and Alison tried to run, but didn't get very far, before they were confronted by a series of armed guards, with loaded rifles. They put up their hands, backing away.
Seo went very still. Her eyes fixed on everyone surrounding her. Then resting on the woman in the Kevlar vest. The woman pointing a gun right at her.
"You," Seo breathed.
Agent Johnson's eyes flicked back and forth between the figure of Buffy, trying desperately to shake off the UFC troops that had swarmed across her, barely able to comprehend what was going on, now that Willow was gone. And Seo.
"Get the woman," Agent Johnson said to her troopers. "Girl stays with me." Advanced on Seo, her gun pointed straight at her. "One word from you, and…"
Seo could guess.
Recognized the woman, from before the Toclafane had descended. The government assassin woman who'd shot her de-brainwashing machine.
Seo didn't say anything. Didn't resist, as she was manhandled into the back of the van.
UFC forces might have captured her and her friends. But she'd get the upper hand, eventually. Seo knew she would. She just had to wait until the time was right.
UFCA Lindo eased the van down the road, a smile on his face. Four terrorists brought in, and that meant he and everyone else in Agent Johnson's team was up for a commendation from the Master. Moment they got to the East Midlands Airport, and could get these four on a jet to the Valiant, Lindo knew he had it made.
Until the sound of a gun cocking beside his head caught him off guard.
"Turn right," Johnson commanded.
"But… the airport is…" Lindo stuttered.
"I know," said Johnson. "Turn right. Or I shoot."
Lindo's eyes flicked over to Johnson. She'd do it. He knew she'd do it. The ends justified the means, in her book, and she wasn't afraid to kill for what she believed in.
Lindo turned right.
"Now pull over, and stop," Johnson continued.
Lindo did as he was told. "You're… part of the resistance," he said, putting the car into park. "A double-agent. Working for Hiskaloph."
Johnson pulled the trigger. And Lindo, shot in the head, fell over. Dead.
That answered that question.
She went to the back of the van, opened it up. Sure enough, the three UFCAs who weren't in the know were already dead. The rest of the group were all solidly on Johnson's side.
Johnson had made sure of that.
The prisoners, tied up and restrained, were looking a little dazed.
"Never thought I'd find myself working with terrorists," Johnson sighed, tucking her gun away. Then again, she never thought she'd be a terrorist, herself. Until the Master took over. She nodded at her troops. "Get 'em out and untied. We've got a place for them to stay, for the night."
The troops saluted her.
"Except this one," said Johnson, grabbing up the short girl with the blond hair and brown eyes. The person she'd assumed was Buffy Summers. Until… just now. When she'd tracked down the dissidents. And discovered… there were two Buffys. "I want to know who she is. And why the Master doesn't know about her."
"Willow Rosenberg," said Johnson, slapping a dossier onto the metal table of the hidden bomb shelter she'd found, for them to hide in. "Deceased. Slayer Institution. Number three dissident in the world, after Martha Jones and Ria Hiskaloph."
Buffy felt the burn of Willow's death surge through her. The raging sorrow, inside. But struggled to keep it from her face.
Johnson looked over at Buffy and Alison. "Buffy Summers," she said, "and Alison Korjensky. Torchwood Three." She smacked two more dossiers on the table. "Both on the Master's most wanted list." She glanced at Luke. Pulling out another dossier. "Luke Smith. Son of Sarah Jane Smith. UNIT. Also on the Master's most wanted list." Then she turned to Seo. "And as for you…" She held out her hands to show she had no dossiers left. "Nothing."
Seo didn't answer.
"How do you know I signed up with Torchwood?" Alison demanded. "I haven't even started working for them, yet."
Johnson gave a grim laugh. "We've been spying on Torchwood for ages, now," she said. "Particularly Captain Jack. They say… he can't be killed."
No one said anything to this.
"We've been investigating you since you signed up as an intern," said Johnson. "We know the Captain's immortality has something to do with the Torchwood Hub. We thought… once you gained enough access to the Hub… we could make you an offer. You give us the information we want, you get a little extra money on the side."
Alison's jaw dropped.
Johnson shrugged at her. "Didn't take us long to work out you'd never do it."
"Why'd you rescue us?" Buffy demanded. She crossed her arms. "What do you want?"
"Look — I believed in what I was doing," Johnson told them. She nodded at Seo. "Believed it even when I tried to kill you. Protect the state, at all costs. Eliminate terrorists. Ends justify the means." She sighed. "Then the Master took over, and destroyed the world. And all my beliefs were thrown out the window."
Luke glanced between Seo and Johnson. "You… tried to kill her?"
"I thought she was Buffy," Johnson retorted. Gave a bitter laugh. "Easy mistake to make, when the two look so similar." Her eyes rested on Seo. "What are you? Her sister?"
"Daughter," Seo said, very quietly.
Johnson looked between the two, skeptically. Clearly not believing it.
"Why aren't there any photos or CCTV footage of you two together?" Johnson asked.
Seo and Buffy exchanged a look. But kept quiet. Didn't know how much they could trust Johnson. Didn't know how much they could trust anyone.
"What's happened to the rest of Torchwood?" Alison asked.
"Toshiko Sato's dead," said Johnson, leaning back in her chair. "Owen Harper got picked up two days ago, shipped to the Valiant. Gwen Cooper and Ianto Jones? No idea." She glanced down at her briefcase. "Got dossiers on them, too."
No one said anything.
"Me? I never wanted to be in the UFC," said Johnson. "Wanted to take the Master down, moment I found out the truth about him. Wound up running into Hiskaloph, in America. And now… here I am." She spread her arms. "Undercover part of the resistance."
"Wait, Ria Hiskaloph?" asked Buffy.
"That's the one," Johnson agreed. "Hiskaloph thinks very highly of you. You and Martha Jones." She leaned forward. "Look, I've gotta ask. What Hiskaloph says. That Martha Jones knows how to take down the Master. Is it true?"
"Yes," said Seo, softly.
Johnson nodded, slowly. Taking this all in. "Good." A smile on her face. "If I don't march up to the Valiant and take him out, first."
"You've been on the Valiant?" Buffy asked. She could feel herself shaking, her breath coming a little too fast. "Have you seen…? I mean, is…?"
Johnson studied Buffy, carefully. Then, in a lower voice, said, "Yes. The Doctor's still alive."
Buffy said nothing.
"It's what Hiskaloph wanted to know, too," said Johnson. She crossed her arms. "He means a lot to you, this… Doctor?"
Buffy just nodded.
Johnson thought it over. Then turned to Seo.
"Don't let anyone see you with your mum," she warned. "Longer the Master thinks there's only one of you, the more likely it is that your plan… whatever it may be… will work."
When they arrived at the city of Tasiilaq, Dawn and the others were welcomed with open arms.
"You're… with Hiskaloph, yes?" one townsperson asked.
Dawn, Faith, Xander, Andrew, and Kennedy nodded.
"Saviors!" cried another townsperson, rushing them into hiding. "Of our town. Of the world!"
Turned out, the small city of Tasiilaq had heard of Ria's resistance movement, and the victory of the Qaqortoq residents against the Master's army. They hadn't been invaded by the Master's troops, yet, but were clearly worried about it. Begged Dawn and the others to help them fend off the coming attack.
"Of course," said Kennedy. "We're Slayers. That's what we do."
Dawn began constructing a strategy. She didn't quite have the same level of strategic brilliance as Ria, she'd admit, but she wasn't half bad, herself. And with the whole city on their side, Dawn was sure that they could win this.
"But maybe they really can
help us," said Nivi, one of the residents of Tasiilaq, clutching her baby son to her. "They won against the Master in Qaqortoq."
"We can't take that risk," Inuk, another resident, replied. "We made this deal before those five ever showed up. This is the best thing to do."
That was true. But since those five had shown up, a growing number of Tasiilaq residents were beginning to think this was a bad idea.
"I don't like it," said Nivi. "They're so… young."
"It doesn't matter," said the mayor of Tasiilaq, Aputsiaq, as he entered the hovel, his face bent in seriousness. "I've already informed the UFC. The fugitives are being apprehended as we speak. Our city will be saved."