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Trials

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This story is No. 16 in the series "The Child of Balime". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The Doctor gives Seo a test — she has three chances to prove to him that she can responsibly travel through time. But then… Seo's never really been very good at tests…

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Dr. Who/Torchwood > Buffy-Centered > Pairing: The DoctorShoshiFR131326,7370243,73313 Sep 1325 Sep 13Yes

Chapter Thirteen

Author's Note: And the end.

Yeah, Twirlfeen was the weakest of the three stories. Sorry about that. But at least the Drusilla story was good.

Anyways.

This ending leads us right into the next two stories. One of which deals with what happens in Cardiff while Buffy and Seo are gone, and the other of which deals with Ria's wedding.

Enjoy.



Okay.

Good news: the aliens had basically stopped bombarding the planet below, lost all interest in their half-hearted invasion, and were now completely devoted to a new cause.

Bad news: that cause was trying to kill Buffy.

"Good going, me," Buffy muttered, as she darted through the alien space ship, trying to get back to the hovercar. She skidded across the ground, flipped through the air, even punched out and kicked at the aliens — to avoid being shot.

She actually winced every time she had to hit one of them.

Offered a little, "Sorry," as she raced off, leaving them winded and felled behind her.

Because these aliens weren't acting like hostile aggressors. No, these guys were super on the terrified factor. They couldn't even shoot straight, because their hands kept shaking around their guns.

Seriously, what the hell was going on?

As Buffy finally managed to find her way back to the area where she'd landed (err… smashed down) the hovercar, she noticed one last terrified alien, armed with a gun, its hands shaking so badly that its shots kept going wide and smashing equipment all around Buffy.

Okay.

New strategy.

Buffy lunged forwards, tackling the terrified alien and yanking the gun out of his hands. He shrieked, as Buffy grabbed him up and shoved him into the hovercar.

Hostage?

Or useful source of information?

Buffy slammed the doors to the hovercar shut, and began randomly punching at friendly-looking buttons, hoping one of them would make the car actually go. Sure enough, the car hummed into life, and she managed to burst her way through the window she'd smashed through, earlier.

The alien space ships, completely giving up their invasion, slowly turned their weaponry on her little car. And fired.

Buffy swerved the hovercar through the air, using every evasive driving maneuver she'd learned since first working at Torchwood. And a few she'd learned from what had wound up being one of the most useful driving lessons she'd ever gotten — from the Doctor — back when she'd been a teenager.

Her passenger had plastered himself into the seat, his eyes shut. Whimpering.

A bolt of an energy beam winged the hovercar, and it skittered out of Buffy's control, surging towards the ground. She grabbed up the alien nearby her, kicked open the door, and… when the car got close enough to the ground… leapt out of it, rolling against the pavement.

The car exploded, not far off.

Buffy turned to the alien she'd just rescued. He looked up at her through terrified eyes.

"Okay," Buffy said. "Is anyone going to tell me what's going on?"



Xilgro waved the armed escort away, the moment Seo and Von showed up. Muttering something about never liking guns in his office — messy and dangerous, he said.

Lucky break for Seo, that one.

"Standard procedure, then?" Xilgro asked, officiously, eyeing Seo up and down. "Normal acquisition and new hire?"

Von opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He'd somehow managed to position himself directly in between Seo and Xilgro.

Seo was still trying to think up a plan.

She didn't think the implant would work on her. Machines usually didn't. But she wasn't exactly keen to try it out.

Xilgro waited for Von to step out of the way. When Von didn't, Xilgro just shot him an amused look.

"Still standing up for your family's Guardian Angel?" asked Xilgro. His voice lowered, threateningly. "You know what Halstor will do about that little bit of defiance. To… Sally."

Okay, forget plans.

Time to do what Mom called "acting on instincts." What her father called "making it up as you go along". What Jack called "pulling a miracle out of your ass."

(Although… every single time Jack had said this, he always looked right at Ianto, and winked. Seo never understood why.)

Seo stepped out from behind Von. Trying to hide her terror and worry behind a confident smile.

"I'm ready," Seo said, in a perky voice. She opened her arms wide, invitingly. "So… go on! Acquire me!"

Xilgro advanced on her, device in hand, officiousness about him. "This won't hurt a bit," he told her, as he reached out his arm to point the device squarely in her face.

Seo grabbed up his arm, twisting the device out of his hand as she threw him over her shoulder, and slammed him down on the ground. Then hurled the device to the ground, so that it smashed into a thousand pieces.

"What… what…?" Xilgro spluttered.

But she didn't have time to offer explanations. She launched herself at the nearest computer terminal, cut off all the cameras. Then grabbed Von by the hand, and yanked him along with her, out the back door, and away from HR.

Only a matter of time before someone noticed, they were hunted down by more guards with guns.

But that was fine.

Because Seo was thinking fast.

"Man in a blue box," she muttered, recalling what Halstor had said. Then smiled, a little. "And he'd know that point in time was fixed."

"What?" said Von.

Seo glanced over her shoulder, at Von. "Any place you can think of that Halstor guards more than everywhere else? Somewhere no one's allowed except a few engineers?"

"Sector 7G," said Von.

Seo did a double-take. "7G? You mean where Homer Simpson works?"

Von clearly had no idea what she was talking about.

Seo sighed. "I've hung out around Alison way too much," she admitted. Then winked back at Von. "Come on! I've just thought up a plan."



Halstor hadn't been worried. For the first time in a long while, everything was truly under his control.

"Even the last Sompters' heir is within my grasp," Halstor muttered, staring at the now-empty holo-screen. "Or dead." He put his hands up behind his head. "All the loose ends are being wrapped up."

Better still, Trandon had come back in, a short time ago, with results from Halstor's enquiry about the 'man in the blue box'.

A former UNIT advisor, from centuries ago. A time traveler, who liked to wander around the universe and poke his nose into places it didn't belong.

"And he has the audacity to cross me," Halstor said. Shook his head. "Well, 'Doctor' whatever your name is… you don't cross Eron Halstor VII! Oh, no! Farox Sompters did it, that Seo did it, and just look at what's happened to the both of…!"

The doors to his office burst open.

And in marched a highly self-confident-looking Seo. Alone. Her blond hair bouncing with every step, as she approached him.

"Hello, again!" she said, with a grin, waving at him. "Miss me?"

Halstor blinked. She wasn't chipped. Wasn't acquired. He could tell. How could she…? He stopped, composed himself. Pressing the secret security button beneath his desk. "You… escaped."

"Bit easy as escapes went!" Seo replied, beaming. "Knocked out everyone guarding me, and ran away. Brilliant strategy." She marched over to his desk. Bent down, to stare right into his eyes. "Now. Think it's your turn to do what I say." She leaned down, lower. Her voice turning into a dark growl. "Stop your business. Stop acquiring people. And get rid of every single control switch in your basement. Or else."

"Or else what?" Halstor challenged. "You're unarmed."

A group of armed soldiers, at that very moment, swarmed through the open door, all aiming loaded guns at Seo.

Seo stepped back. Wide brown eyes fixed on the guns, her breath growing a little more uneasy. But she held her ground.

"There's a bomb," Seo informed Halstor. "On a timer, in your basement. Right in the center of that room where you store the equipment you're using to control those implants and murder people. A bomb big enough to destroy the entire city of Twirlfeen." Her stare was unfathomably dark. Her voice unfathomably menacing. "So get rid of those relays. Or Twirlfeen gets destroyed."

Halstor's anger rose in his throat. "What?!"

"I'm the only one who can deactivate that bomb," said Seo. "And I won't. Unless you do what I say." She raised her eyebrows at him. "Choose fast, Mr. Halstor. Because every second you delay, this mansion and the entire city surrounding it might go up in smoke. Along with your equipment."

Halstor stared at her. Then shook his head. "A bluff," he decided. "You'd never do it. You'd never kill yourself. Or that Korjensky family of yours. Or the one you call 'Mom'." He laughed. "And you'd certainly never kill an entire city of innocents."

"I will if I have to!" Seo shouted.

The room fell silent.

"Twirlfeen was supposed to be destroyed by a crashing spaceship, yesterday," said Seo. "That's what history said. That's what time dictated should happen. But I changed it, and that… was wrong." Her eyes narrowed. "This isn't murder, Mr. Halstor. This bomb is just me fixing my mistakes."

Halstor paused, a moment. Calling up the surveillance footage, and seeing the bomb sitting there, in the middle of the room. Halstor got up from his desk, nodding. "All right, then."

The girl seemed relieved. Clearly believing she'd gotten away with it.

He activated his wrist-communicator. "Valerie?" he called. "Dispatch a bomb squad into Sector 7G. And ready my secondary space ship."

He heard the affirmation.

"Your bomb squad can try all they like," said Seo. "Even your best scientists will never be able to disarm my bomb in time."

"Not a problem, if I'm not in Twirlfeen," said Halstor.

"Your equipment would be destroyed," Seo pointed out. "You could flee, but all your power over people would be gone."

Halstor grinned. Analyzing the life-sign scanners projected onto the far wall of his office. Seeing the group that must be the bomb-squad running into Sector 7G, automatically triggering the defense mechanism he'd installed into the workings of that particular room.

The moment anyone but his personal engineers entered Sector 7G, an unbreakable casing enclosed the machinery. Just to make sure no one tampered where they shouldn't.

He brought up the footage for Seo to see. The encasement sliding around the machinery.

"That shielding will stand up to any bomb, of any size," Halstor said. "And, long as that team's in the room, it'll stay in place." Halstor slid his thumb along the side of his desk, and a series of controls emerged from the desk's inner workings. "So. Just to make sure that team stays there…" Halstor slammed his fist down on the button, and the entire building shuddered around them.

Seo stared at Halstor. "What…?"

"Sector 7G has been entirely sealed off," said Halstor.

He silenced the radio alerts from the freaked out bomb squad dispersal team, who'd just realized that they'd become his sacrificial lambs. He was ruthless and determined, yes, but that didn't mean he enjoyed listening to people die.

"Your gambit has failed," said Halstor. "You've condemned a city, condemned the one person you swore to protect, and all you've accomplished by it was killing the innocents. I'll survive. My power will survive." His eyes sparkled with a hint of greed. "And you'll survive, of course. I said I wanted your secrets. And I'm planning to get them. In payment for what you stole from me."

Whatever connection she had to that man in the blue box, Halstor wasn't letting that slip through his fingers.

The perfect payment plan.

That was when he noticed that the soldiers were all looking a little distracted. Staring at the footage of Sector 7G.

Halstor turned.

The bomb hadn't exploded. No. It must have been a gas bomb, because there was now a visible gas released into the air. Swarming, more and more, over time. A gas so thick, it clouded up all the cameras, encompassed the bomb squad in an instant.

Halstor smacked down the full lock-down controls for Sector 7G. No air vents. No way for anything in that room to seep into the outside world.

"That's just phase one," Seo told him. "Phase two is the part with the bang."

"Then I suppose we'd better get going," snarled Halstor. Gestured at the guards to accompany him, lead Seo forwards. And activated his wrist-communicator. "Valerie. Everything all set for take-off?"

A second of silence.

Then a rather breathless voice came in from the other end. "Mr. Halstor, sir? Your secondary space ship. It appears to be… well… missing."

"Missing?!" Halstor shouted.

Seo gave a small, smug grin. "You didn't think I'd let Von and Sally Korjensky stick around here to go up in flames with all the others, did you?" Her voice lowered, and she added, "Sally. The pregnant woman you've been threatening."

Halstor spun on her. Feeling his utter and complete hatred well up inside of him. "If I'm going to die," he hissed, "and you're going to die… then I'll make sure your friends die, too."

He accessed the mobile controls he had, which could isolate and activate any implant he wanted. "Von and Sally Korjensky," he said, selecting them. Then paused. Smiled. "No. On second thought… why don't we eliminate all the Korjenskys?" He selected more and more from his list. "Your favorite family. Wiped out. Ended. Just like I ended the Sompters line."

And if that man in the blue box ever came back… that'd be his nice little welcome present. No more Sompters. Ever again.

(Not even the lost Sompters heir. Not even that last Sompters, whom this 'Seo' was reported to have rescued and stolen from under Halstor's grasp. No, even that Sompters would be dead, once the Teptors were done with her.)

Halstor turned back to Seo, a sneer on his face.

A sneer that fell away, as he realized… she was beaming.

"You're a bit thick, aren't you?" Seo asked him.

Halstor's eyes blazed. "I've just wiped out your favorite family," he snapped. "Sentenced this planet to complete destruction. Ensured the death of the heir you stole from—"

"I noticed you turned off the sound to Sector 7G," Seo said. Quirked an eyebrow at him. "Want to have a listen-in at what that bomb squad are actually saying?"

Halstor visibly hesitated, now. "But… but they're dead," he said. "The gas—"

"Came from inside the sealed-off machinery," said Seo. "The supposed 'bomb' you saw, outside the machinery section, was a dud." Her eyes twinkled, as she bounced on her toes. "I can't believe you didn't notice that."

"What?" shouted Halstor.

"Machines don't pick me up," said Seo. "So… even though, normally, moment anyone walks into that room, that equipment gets sealed off… when I walked in, it didn't." She shrugged. "I saw your little safeguards and security software. I could have bypassed them all, yes. But… this way was far simpler."

"You released toxic gas into a place that contained only a machine?" Halstor laughed. "Why would you—?"

"It's not gas," said Seo.

Every single one of the soldiers, now, was lowering their guns. Eyes still fixed to the projection of Sector 7G, as the dense cloud disappeared, and they could see the beads of sweat pouring down the bomb squad's faces.

"It's steam," said Seo. "Hot air." She stepped forward. "And you sealed off all the air vents."

Halstor suddenly began to get uneasy.

A machine that needed vents in order to ensure it didn't overheat… and he'd just…

No!

He lunged for the controls on his desk, monitoring his equipment. Sure enough, it had overheated. Gone into standby. A while ago. Possibly before he'd ever sent that transmission to kill all the Korjenskys.

"See, this… man with the blue box you're obsessed with," Seo continued, "I know him. I know the one thing he'd never do is allow there to be some chance of that machine surviving after the space ship impact. Blast shielding or no. So I figured… he'd have made sure that the moment it detected enough heat and pressure, the whole system would shut down, completely. Permanently."

The machinery, on the screen, suddenly seared with an intense white light, and then seemed to melt to the ground. For no explicable reason.

"Pressure and heat," said Seo. "That I just provided. Courtesy of my steam-bomb."

The soldiers all turned their guns on Halstor.

This time… it was Halstor who held up his hands in surrender. Backing away, carefully, his eyes fixed on the soldiers surrounding him.

"You've threatened all of their families," said Seo. Her eyes hard. "All of their friends." She leaned in, and whispered, "I think they're going to be a bit upset about that — don't you?"

"You… can't prove anything!" Halstor spat at them. He'd been careful about that one. "There's no evidence I was behind any of those deaths. The implants injections were done for your benefit! They were scientifically proven to prolong life. Cure infinite diseases! You've all seen the reports."

"Would have prolonged life," said one of them, angrily, "if you hadn't used them to murder our families."

"The best lawyers in the galaxy might think otherwise," Halstor insisted. "I've still got enough money to get off any charge!" He laughed. "Face it. You can't get away with anything."

"They can't," said a woman's voice, as the doors to Halstor's office burst open, yet again. "But I can."

A crowd of very strong, very flexible young women all rushed into the office. Surrounding and tackling Halstor to the ground, snapping handcuffs around his wrists and then twisting him around to face their leader.

A tall woman, who looked strikingly like Von, except with dark hair.

President of the Slayer Institute.

"Your Teptor friends, as it turned out, never did trust you," said the President. "Your rooms were being bugged. Your implant transmissions being monitored. When they came to get us, we gained all the evidence we needed against you."

"What?" Halstor cried. "Went and got you?! Those sniveling little cowards?! They're terrified of the Slayers! Why would they think they'd be safe going and getting…?!"

The Slayers all parted. To reveal Buffy Summers leaning against the back wall. Arms crossed. Looking completely nonchalant.

"Easy," said Buffy, with a shrug. "I guaranteed them immunity."

"You," said Halstor.

"Me," Buffy agreed. "The founder of the Slayer Institution, over a thousand years ago. Buff…" She stopped. Grimaced. "Bunfy Sompters."

Seo fought to stifle a hysterical laugh, and Buffy shot her a pointed glare.

"You're coming back to the Korjensky Star System with us, Mr. Halstor," said the President. "Where you'll stand trial for your crimes against humanity, humanity's allies, and the Slayer Institution, in particular. And our tribunals won't find you innocent."

Halstor struggled, as the Slayers lead him out the door. "This isn't over!" he shouted back at Seo. "I swear, I'll make sure this is the last time you ever dare to cross Eron Halstor VII, Seo!"

The President of the Slayer Institution sighed.

"Don't worry about him," she told Seo. "He's clearly never seen the fury of a group of Slayers who've just uncovered the self-confessed ender of the Sompters family line." She shook her head, following the others out the door. "Not pretty."



There was a celebration, on Twirlfeen. Honoring Seo, the hero who'd rid them of Halstor's oppression.

Buffy didn't feel so much like celebrating. Like it or not, she'd just seen the end of her family. The point in history when the Sompters family died out.

So she slipped off. To take a breather. Clear her head. She wandered, by herself, through the city of Twirlfeen.

About ten minutes in, Buffy noticed the friendly-looking blue police box that had just randomly appeared, nestled away in a corner of a side street.

And a very familiar pinstripe-suited figure, leaning against its side.

"Well," said the Doctor, leaning against his ship. "City of Twirlfeen. Still here. Fancy that."

Oh.

Damn.

"Twirlfeen aside, Halstor's gone," said Buffy. "And so's his machinery. Everyone's free and stuff turned out all right."

The Doctor didn't answer.

Buffy sighed, slouching in place. "Okay, I know," she said. "During these test things, Seo made some mistakes."

The Doctor quirked an eyebrow. "That what you're calling the bloodbath in London, 1860?"

"But she's learning," Buffy cut in, quickly. "I mean, nobody's perfect, right?"

The Doctor didn't answer.

"When I first became the Slayer," Buffy continued, "I was all with the screw-ups. I missed the heart, let vampires get away, forgot to check in with my Slayer senses when I was racing to defend people. I screwed up so much that — this one time, on patrol, I ran into a well-meaning, totally altruistic Time Lord who wanted to save the world — and wound up almost killing him."

The Doctor gave a small grin at this one. Looked down at the ground.

"And… and… you didn't just give up on me, then, right?" Buffy said. "Even after I shot you, handed you over to the Watchers' Council, and accidentally let Omega into our universe — you didn't just be all, 'Okay, Buffy, you're not allowed to be the Slayer, anymore.' No! You gave me another chance. And I learned."

"Suppose I did," said the Doctor. He stuffed his hands into his pockets. "But… well. Failing to correctly identify vampires is a bit different from accidentally using your time machine to nearly shred apart the universe." He nodded at Buffy. "I gave Seo three chances. And she failed two of them."

"She only failed one and a half!" Buffy insisted.

The Doctor didn't answer.

"The Drusilla thing — okay, I'll give you that, she failed that one big time," Buffy admitted. "Total refusal to cave, even when she knew she shouldn't be changing the future. But… even then… she did it for the right reasons. She didn't want an innocent person to be tortured to death."

The Doctor remained silent. But some of the hardness was already falling away from him.

"And then, in Colonial America, she learned from the Drusilla thing, and didn't kill the Master," Buffy said. "Point to Seo."

"Point to Seo," the Doctor agreed. He gestured at the city around them. "And Twirlfeen? What does that say about her learning her lesson?"

Basically… it said that Seo needed to do her Summer Reading.

"That Seo fixes her mistakes," Buffy replied. "She messed up. She admitted that. And, yeah, she was tempted to just run away and pretend it hadn't happened. But she didn't. She stayed behind, did the nitty-gritty stuff, and solved the problem. All by herself." Buffy gave the Doctor a soft smile. "And… I dare you to show up somewhere that you know a whole city would be destroyed and not try to save at least one person."

The Doctor tried to remain stern. But Buffy could tell. He was hesitating.

"Seo makes mistakes," said Buffy, "but it's all in the name of helping people." She crossed her arms. "Can you really fault her for that?"

The Doctor said nothing for a long moment.

Then sighed, stood up straight.

"All right," the Doctor said. Threw his hands into the air. "All right! You win. She passes the tests." He advanced on Buffy, waggling a finger at her. "But she travels with supervision, for a while. You got that? She only just squeaked by."

Buffy looked away, trying to stifle a laugh.

"So, you're saying," Buffy said, "that Seo, like someone else I could name, also passed her Time Lord test with 51%?"

The Doctor blinked. "What? No, it wasn't…! That test on Gallifrey was totally different from…!" He waved his hands, clearly flustered. "Oh, stop that!"

Buffy beamed.

The Doctor ran a hand through his hair. Then his eyes lit up, and he grinned, pulling an envelope out from his trench coat. "Nearly forgot!" He handed it to Buffy. "Wedding invitation. Ria Hiskaloph. Lovely lady. Good to see she's doing well." He winked at Buffy. "Thought I might as well drop the invitation off, here, so you two could come the short route."

Buffy took the invitation from the Doctor. Staring at it. Then back up at him.

"Okay, what's really going on?" Buffy asked. Waving the invitation in the air. "You never do stuff like this."

The Doctor just gave a little shrug. "Might want to avoid going home for a bit. Or, at least, anywhere near Cardiff." Then he turned around, headed back into his ship. But stopped in the doorway, and spun around.

"Oh, and by the way," the Doctor told Buffy. "Halstor was right. One member of your family survived."

Then he closed the door.

And dematerialized.

The End

You have reached the end of "Trials". This story is complete.

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