Owen looked at his own reflection in the window of the Puma helicopter. It was too dark to see anything outside, and he wasn’t especially interested in the view, anyway. He knew from the conversation between the Army pilot and his base that they were over the Firth of Clyde, in other words the estuary of the river that ran through Glasgow not far from Torchwood’s Scottish headquarters.
He briefly wondered whether it was feasible for Torchwood to have their own helicopter for missions like this that took them offshore to one of the many islands dotted around the coast. He thought about what a machine like this might cost just to buy. Then there were maintenance costs, plus retaining a pilot.
No, he concluded reluctantly. It probably wasn’t something he could justify spending an entire year’s budget on. They would just have to rely on the goodwill of U.N.I.T and the military and civilian services in general at times like this.
“We’re coming in to land in three minutes, sir,” the co-pilot told him. “We’re landing on top of the cliff. There’s no safe spot on the beach. You’ll have a bit of a walk.”
“All in a night’s work,” Owen replied, trying to sound as if he clambered down cliffsides in the pitch dark all the time. He looked at the rest of the team. Munroe was surprisingly fit for a man in his forties who looked like he enjoyed his daughter in law’s home cooking a bit too often. Dougal was still combat fit even though he was no longer a serving soldier.
As for Darius, fitness for duty wasn’t a question that applied to him. He claimed to have the physical strength of four men, though that had rarely been tested. He could probably make himself useful on this night mission.
Just as long as they were done before dawn, anyway. He didn’t relish collecting his ashes off the beach when the sun rose.
“At this time of year, with cloud cover, I might get away with second degree burns,” Darius told him. “But we should be done long before dawn, anyway.”
“We’d better be. There’s bugger all on this island except birds and I get grumpy without my breakfast.”
Owen was surprised even the birds liked the lump of volcanic plug sticking out of the sea. He had noted with barely disguised disinterest Munroe’s potted history of the place at the start of the journey. He didn’t care that it was a haven for Catholics escaping the Scottish Reformation in the sixteenth century. It didn’t correspond very much to his definition of the word ‘haven’, in any case. He definitely didn’t care that it was the source of the finest curling stones for most of the nineteenth and twentieth century.
Fortunately that was about it for the history of Ailsa Craig.
He felt the downward motion and then a slight bump as the helicopter touched down on the cliff on the mainland side of the island. With military efficiency the Torchwood team were soon climbing out with all of their portable equipment in large, bulky cases.
The cases were actually a bit TOO bulky for this kind of operation. Owen grunted irritably as he followed Munroe down the steep, narrow path. The case bumped against his ankles painfully. The others had the same problem, but somehow, being a couple of inches shorter than everyone on the team made it worse for him and it rankled. He was the boss of this outfit and he was stumbling like the mail boy pressed into active service on short notice.
“Where the fuck is Darius?” he asked, looking back and noticing only Dougal behind him.
“He took his own route,” Dougal answered. He pointed to the narrow shingle beach below where a dark clad figure was setting up portable lights. They illuminated something like a twenty-foot square patch of ground with the sheer cliff bounding one edge and the tide actually lapping the other, even though he was assured that the ribbon of shingle was above high water mark at this time of year.
“Clever bastard,” Owen remarked. He said it again when Darius appeared in front of him and offered to take his case down. He thrust it at him rather ungraciously. He would apologise later, he told himself. There was no need to be rude to Darius. He was using his abilities to make this operation easier for everyone. He came back a few minutes later and collected the cases Dougal and Munroe were carrying. By the time they reached the bottom of the cliff on foot all their equipment would be set up to examine the alien artefacts traced to the site. Darius deserved their thanks, not swear words and insults.
“I could take you down the same way,” Darius offered. Owen looked around to see him standing on – well, nothing – at the side of the path.
“No thanks,” Owen replied. “I think we’d all prefer to get down on our own two feet. You go on and start the preliminaries. We’ll need photographs of the artefacts in situ, and you could get the portable ultrasound set up ready to see what’s inside.”
“Yes, boss,” Darius said. “Right away.”
“And... look, take no notice of me. Night operations make me grumpy, and since you’re not even on the payroll, you’re an easy target. I’m sorry.”
Darius didn’t say anything. He just gave a toothy grin and vanished from view. He was seen moments later in the patch of bright light, setting up the equipment as instructed.
“At least in Cardiff the whole team was Human!” he told himself. “What a bloody team I have here. The Loch Ness Monster’s nursemaid, a gay soldier and a vampire!”
But he didn’t mean that, either. He knew they all had their talents and areas of expertise and they had all proved themselves invaluable time and again.
Darius was always particularly industrious. By the time the rest of the team reached the bottom of the cliff he had set up the cameras and the ultrasound. He was busy, now, using a sophisticated hand held gadget that could pick up at least twenty-five different forms of harmful radiation and another dozen benign ones.
The subject of the radiation test was approximately six feet long and four wide and shaped like a partially sucked Fisherman’s Friend lozenge. It was much the same colour and texture, too, something like sandstone that had been scoured by dust laden winds. It was partially upright, the base buried in the shingle but leaning over so far it could easily fall over any moment.
“It has definitely come through the solar system recently,” he confirmed. “There are traces of UV and gamma radiation from unshielded exposure to the sun. It has none of the contaminants it would have if it had been pulled from the sea bed during the recent storms. Besides, there are no algae or molluscs attached to the outer shell that would suggest prolonged submersion.”
“That rules out anything to do with the Sea Devils,” Munroe confirmed. Dougal, who was using an electronic calliper to get accurate measurements of the alien artefact and Darius who was transferring the radiation test results to a laptop both looked at him oddly, but Owen knew what he meant. U.N.I.T had shared with Torchwood all their files on both the sea and land based reptilian species that had been in hibernation in subterranean colonies since before the dinosaurs died out on this planet. The occasional reawakening of pockets of them had been trouble for the Human race, but this didn’t look like it had anything to do with them.
Which didn’t rule out trouble for the Human race, of course, only that it wasn’t home grown trouble.
Darius hadn’t started taking photographs of the artefact for one simple reason. He had trouble with cameras. He didn’t show up on them, and something about the way his Undead eyes processed light meant that he had trouble focussing a camera accurately. Munroe took over that job, taking high quality digital and 35 millimetre pictures from every possible angle, even getting his feet wet in the shallows to get a wide shot of the artefact in context.
Owen operated the ultrasound machine. It was a new piece of equipment adapted by Toshiko from alien tech and ordinary patented Human micro-electronics. As bulky as it was to carry, it was more mobile than any commercially available ultrasound and ran on batteries salvaged from a crashed Zyton scout ship that Tosh reckoned would work for ten years without needing a recharge. The arc lamps around him were running on the same, and he was pretty sure she was right.
“Uh...oh,” he said as he looked at the results of the scan.
“That doesn’t sound promising,” Dougal responded. “What’s up, boss?”
This is some kind of travel capsule, for some kind of humanoid, travelling in suspended animation, I guess. The bulk of the thing is this rocklike substance. The ultrasound picked up various trace minerals and dissolved metals in it. but in the middle is a space shaped like a body with all the usual number of heads, limbs and what have you. It’s like.... Did any of you ever see the Pompeii exhibition at the British museum. They made models by pouring plaster into the gaps in the solidified lava... and got the forms of people, animals, covered in the ash and lava when the volcano went up. This is the same sort of thing... there’s a humanoid shaped gap inside.”
“But no humanoid?” Munroe asked.
“No humanoid. It’s a void. Nothing there at all.”
“Which means....” Darius began. The vocal equivalent of the ellipsis at the end hung in the air waiting for somebody to fill in the rest of the sentence.
“Either he died on the journey and the body dissolved somehow, or he already got out of the capsule before we got there. I’m buggered if I know how, since there’s no sign of a join in the material.”
“But there could be an alien on the loose on this island?” Munroe concluded.
Owen swore rudely enough for Dougal, who was used to barrack room language, to blush. Darius murmured something equally rude, but in Lithuanian. Munroe began breaking out the portable energy detectors that would help them locate anything not of Earth origin.
“It shouldn’t take long,” Munroe assured them. “The whole island is barely a square kilometre. We can cover it in a few hours.”
“Fine,” Owen decided. “Let’s get on with it. We’ll split up and cover the ground faster. Don’t anyone step on any rare bird’s eggs. Keep your communicators on.”
Munroe started to point out that it was the wrong time of year for egg laying, but nobody was listening. They just wanted to check the island for the missing alien and then get back to the helicopter and find somewhere that sells bacon sandwiches and hot coffee all night.
Darius wasn’t thinking about bacon sandwiches or coffee. He wanted this mission over and done with because he knew how little cover there was on Ailsa Craig. It was a bare lump of rock sticking out of the sea. It had no cave systems or old mine workings at all. The granite curling stones were quarried in the open. Even the buildings associated with the former industry were gone.
If they were here when the sun came up he would be in trouble. He had been caught out that way once when he was still a relatively new vampire. He had been partying with his hedonistic friends, drinking too much, and the dawn found him on an open moor. He had burnt painfully before he found an abandoned hut and hidden himself inside until dark. After struggling home he had lain in agony for three weeks, forgotten by his drinking partners and feeling wretched and alone.
His Torchwood colleagues wouldn’t forget him, of course. But he could imagine how long the relatively short helicopter ride would be if he was suffering that badly.
Stop worrying, he told himself. Owen isn’t in any mood to keep up the search all night. He wants to get off the island as much as anyone did.
He stood on the landward cliff and looked out across the dark sea to the mainland where a glow of electric lights on the coast road made a false dawn. He wondered if there was any point to this exercise. It was getting on for three hours since they tracked the incoming alien capsule and noted where it had landed. If the humanoid came from a planet with abundant water, it was possible it could swim. It might be on the mainland already.
He felt a vibration in the hand held energy sensor before it gave an audible signal. He looked at the LED readout of meison energy off the known scale and reached |for his communicator.
“Boss,” he said when Owen answered him. “I think…”
Owen woke up with some sort of sea bird crapping three inches away from his face. If Munroe identified the bloody thing as a Great Cormorant or some such thing it would go hard with him.
After those thoughts had filtered through his woozy head, several others crowded in. First he remembered being hit by a meison energy wave that felt like a brick wall. Then he realised how stiff and cold he was, meaning he had been lying on the bloody bare granite rock for hours.
Then he realised it was daylight.
“Shit!” he went from lying down to upright in one movement. His muscles screamed in agony, but he ignored his own discomfort. There was only one thought overriding them all, now.
“Where is he?” Dougal had obviously only just regained consciousness, too, but he was immediately alert, military discipline overriding the thick head and general confusion.
They both turned around, scanning their immediate area. They saw Munroe hurrying to join them and the co-pilot clambering out of the still waiting helicopter, having obviously suffered the same blackout. But there was no sign of Darius.
The co-pilot stepped towards the cliff edge. Owen started to run towards him, thinking he was still delirious and about to fall over, but the man turned and waved to him, calling something he didn’t understand until he got close enough to hear the words clearly.
“Your man is on the beach. He looks…”
Owen looked down at the shingle beach where the alien capsule was standing at a drunken tilt. Darius was standing next to it, apparently oblivious to the danger of exposure to the daylight.
The sun was diffused by low lying grey-white cloud, but even from the top of the cliff Owen could see Darius’s skin burning. He turned to the co-pilot and demanded an emergency blanket, then he started to run down the cliff path. He stopped running when he remembered how perilously narrow and steep it was and took it more carefully. He would be no use to Darius or anyone with a broken neck. He heard footsteps behind him and turned once to see Dougal coming after him with the blanket then he carried on down to the flat stretch of shingle.
He approached Darius cautiously. There was something distinctly odd about his behaviour. He was standing there looking out over the stretch of water between the island and the mainland - staring out would be a more appropriate description of his expression. Even in the few seconds it took Owen to come within touching distance of him the usually pale flesh on his face had begun to burn. Painful blisters formed and the skin reddened and then blackened in ugly patches. His hands, held loosely by his side were burning, too.
“Darius… what the hell are you thinking of?” Owen demanded. He touched him on the shoulder and he screamed in shock. The burning was beneath his clothing, too.
“Give me that,” Owen said to Dougal, grabbing the foil emergency blanket and opening it out. He wrapped it around Darius’s head and shoulders. It wasn't long enough to shield his whole body, but at least he could protect his face.
Darius stumbled and fell against him in a dead faint. Owen held onto him desperately and was relieved to hear the helicopter rise up from the cliff top and hover over the beach. A cradle was being lowered. Owen carefully strapped Darius into it, keeping his head covered. He stood on the edge of the cradle and held on tight ready to be winched aboard with him. Dougal stood back carefully. Up on the clifftop Munroe watched anxiously.
“We still have an alien on the loose and we don’t know what the hell happened to us all last night,” Owen called out above the din. “Scan the fucking island again before the helicopter comes back for the two of you. Make sure we’re leaving nothing here but bird crap.”
“Will do, boss,” Dougal answered. “Just take care of him. He might be just a vampire to most people. But he’s…”
“He’s our vampire,” Owen responded as the cradle rose steadily and he clung on tightly, hating every moment it took until the winchman and co-pilot reached to swing them safely aboard.
“I’ve got clearance to go direct to Southern General hospital,” the pilot told Owen as the helicopter rose higher and accelerated towards the mainland. “Twenty minutes maximum till we’re on the ground.”
It was good enough, Owen realised. Southern General was probably the nearest helipad to the Torchwood Hub. But after checking his patient and noting that he was still unconscious, he made arrangements for a vehicle to be there when they landed - one with the windows blacked out. The winchman was puzzled to hear the arrangements. He clearly wondered why the largest emergency hospital in this part of Scotland wasn’t good enough for this emergency.
“There are too many windows,” Owen answered cryptically. “We all had a strange experience down on the island, including you guys. I need to get this man back to our own medical facilities for tests that aren’t available under the NHS.”
That satisfied him. It was probably just as well these were U.N.I.T. men rather than regular army air corps. They were trained to expect the unexpected. All the same, he decided not to mention that Darius was a vampire.
He started to come around halfway into the twenty minutes. He screamed viscerally, obviously in severe pain. Owen felt helpless to relieve him. There were painkillers and sedatives in the medical kit aboard the helicopter but they assumed the patient had a blood supply that circulated around his body. He felt Darius grip his hand, and that seemed to help him a little, as if he was drawing strength from his nearness. Darius gritted his teeth and tried to control himself and then managed to speak a few words.
“I’m sorry… I let… you down,” he stammered.
“No you didn’t,” Owen assured him. “I let you down by not getting you home before dawn. Keep calm. You’re going to be all right. I can’t promise it will be easy. You’ve hurt yourself pretty bad. You’re going to be on sick leave for a few weeks, at least. And we can’t even give you grapes to cheer you up.”
Darius gave the closest thing he could manage to a laugh. It came out more like a growl in the back of his throat, but Owen knew it wasn’t meant to be threatening.
Then he said something else. It wasn’t in English, and Owen was pretty certain it wasn’t Lithuanian, either. His facial expression changed, too, just momentarily, and his grip on Owen’s hand slackened. Then Darius gave a choked gasp and called out in what Owen definitely recognised as Lithuanian, then repeated himself in English.
“I’m going to help you,” Owen promised him. “Just hang on in there, Darius. Try to stay with me.”
He turned to the co-pilot urgently.
“I need another helicopter to pick up my people on the island straight away,” he said. “It’s important. Vitally important. National security important.”
The co-pilot relayed the message to U.N.I.T. headquarters in Glasgow. There were some protests about the cost of making TWO helicopters available to Torchwood in one day, but they agreed. Owen calmly contacted Dougal and told him to get all the equipment packed and the alien capsule ready to be transported back to the mainland.
“What about locating the alien?” he asked.
“The alien isn’t on the island any more,” Owen replied without further explanation He closed the communication and turned back to Darius. He was losing himself again. Owen watched carefully until Darius struggled back to the surface again.
“We’re nearly there,” he assured him. “You’re going to be all right.”
Even before he left hospital practice and spent more time with the dead, Owen had never really considered his bedside manner to be especially convincing, and his ability to lie reassuringly to vulnerable patients was even worse. Darius was neither convinced nor reassured. He was, if anything, frightened. In one of his more lucid moments he made two requests of Owen. The first he fully agreed with. The second he could not countenance in any circumstances.
“I’m a doctor,” he told him. “I don’t do that. Especially not to a friend.”
Darius managed to say something else. Owen clasped his hand again and didn’t let go.
“Yes, you walking Undead freak,” he replied. “I do consider you my friend. If you don’t think so then your brain must be deader than the rest of you.”
Darius seemed to find that answer satisfactory. It sustained him as the helicopter landed on the emergency helipad at the Southern General hospital. An army ambulance driven by a young woman with a U.N.I.T. badge on her uniform was waiting. Owen told her where they had to go. She pointed out that it was rush hour in the city centre, and he reminded her that she was driving an ambulance. Then he called Toshiko and told her to make some preparations for their arrival.
“Anything else?” Toshiko asked.
“Yes,” he answered. “Now would be a really good time to test your new desktop traffic management programme. I don’t want any red lights in our way.”
“That programme is not going to make us popular in this city,” Toshiko pointed out.
“Fuck popular,” Owen replied.
The programme worked perfectly. They reached the garage entrance to the Hub in only eight minutes. They were eight tough minutes for Darius, but he was still lucid when Toshiko met them with a trolley to transfer the stretcher onto.
“I’ll take it from here,” Owen told her. “Do as I said. You and Shona keep well out of the way.”
“That’s asking a lot of her,” Toshiko pointed out. “Her hard woman act is showing some cracks right now. He means a lot more to her than she ever lets on.”
Darius meant a lot to all of them. He was a friend and colleague. That was the second reason, after his Hippocratic Oath, why he had refused his request for a quick end. The request to keep Shona out of the way was another matter. All things being equal, having the woman he loved near him would have been a comfort. But he fully agreed with Darius on that matter. Shona had to be kept away from him.
Given the nature of his injuries, he should have gone to the medical room. But there were other overriding concerns, and Owen brought him to the interrogation room, instead. Darius didn’t object to being fastened to a strong chair that was, itself, bolted to the floor. He didn’t protest about the mind probe placed on his head. The restraints and the sinister headpiece hurt where they touched his burnt flesh and he cried out in pain, but he let Owen do all of that because he knew it was necessary.
“Darius, relax now,” he said. “Let the alien lifeforce endure the pain instead. It’s what it deserves for doing this to you. Don’t worry. You’ll be able to get back. You’re stronger than it thinks. Just rest a little, my friend.”
He was aware of the change. There was something different about Darius’s expression even without the readings from the mind probe.
“So, who are you?” Owen demanded. He glanced at the lie detector and the near universal translator that he was relying on to get to the bottom of this unhappy situation.
“My name is unpronounceable in your pathetic language,” The words that came from Darius’s lips were alien, but the words appeared in English on the translator.
“Yeah, I hear that from some extra-terrestrial slime every other day. I’ll call you Tim for now. I knew a Tim at school. He was a fucking bully who was always crowding into my personal space to intimidate me. Just like you crowded into our Darius. I hope you’re really suffering, by the way. You did that to him.”
“These superficial wounds are nothing,” ‘Tim’ answered scathingly. “Nothing to the agony of being encased in molten rock while I was still living and breathing in my corporeal form.”
The Pompeii analogy stirred in Owen’s mind. But there was something in the arrogant tone of the alien body snatcher that suggested he wasn’t a victim of a terrible accident.
“Is that how they execute people on your world?” he asked. “Nasty, but I’m betting you deserved it.”
“It is how they destroy the corporeal form, trapping the consciousness within the rock. Then it is cast out into space to die. But I was strong. I didn’t die. I held on for countless eons until I felt the pull of a gravity field, my prison falling into the atmosphere of a planet.
Owen wondered idly why it was that aliens always fell into Earth’s gravity field. They had to pass much stronger fields from planets like Saturn and Jupiter to get to Earth, the only viable, inhabited planet in the solar system.
But he let that pass.
“You got out of your prison?”
“The rock had become porous over the course of time. When I knew I was in the presence of sentient beings I forced myself out. It took time, but I was able to free myself. Then I needed a body to inhabit. The meison energy rendered all the potential hosts unconscious. This one… seemed stronger. Most of you are ephemeral, pathetic, short lived flesh.”
“Well, that’s true,” Owen admitted. “But you made a big mistake choosing Darius. He’s stronger than you think. You scared him, and you hurt him very badly. But he has everything to live for, and he’s fighting you. I can see it here, on the mind probe. There’s more of him than you. and whatever about enduring agony, Darius has endured more and for longer. It IS hurting you. All he really has to do is let his consciousness sleep and gain strength while you grow weaker by the minute. You should know, by the way, that there is absolutely no treatment I can give a vampire to make the burns caused by exposure to daylight any less painful. Even if there was, so long as you’re occupying his body, suppressing his consciousness, I would withhold the treatment. This agony will go on for weeks without let up.”
The alien screamed in rage and Darius’s body struggled against the restraints. The door to the interrogation room burst open and Dougal Drummond rushed in, but Owen waved him back. He remained calm, sitting at his seat, watching the mind probe data.
“You’re weakening by the minute,” Owen said again. “He’s much stronger than you.”
“You lie…” the alien responded.
“No,” Owen answered. “If I was lying that green light would be flashing red. That’s how I know you told me the truth and how you know I’m not playing games with you. I’m going to get Darius back one way or another.”
He looked at the mind probe again. Darius wasn’t resting. He was fighting. His mind was struggling against the entity that occupied his body. And he was winning moment by moment.
“If this thing had taken over any one of us…” Dougal ventured as he watched Darius’s body writhing in agony and his voice crying out in an alien tongue. “We’d be gone… our minds destroyed.”
“Yes,” Owen answered him. “Which in your case would have been very bad news since I can’t even shoot you. It found Darius, and that was his first mistake… and his last.”
The entity screamed again, a long, visceral scream. Darius’s body strained to escape its bonds one more time then went limp. Dougal took a step closer then drew back uncertainly as he opened his eyes again and screamed again.
“He’s gone,” Darius gasped.
“Has he? Or is the alien pretending to be Darius?” Dougal asked warily.
Owen didn’t have to look at either the lie detector or the mine probe that now showed only one consciousness in Darius’s head. He knew by the expression on his face and the cadence of his voice.
“It’s gone. This is our Darius. Come on. Let’s get him out of here and into the medical room.”
They released the restraints and Owen lifted Darius from the chair. Dougal opened the door and cleared the way to the medical room. Lying on a bed was easier on him than being restrained, but he was still in a lot of distress and there was still nothing Owen could do to relieve his suffering.
“Shona,” he said, contacting the lieutenant by communicator. “You can be with him now.”
It took less than a minute for her to reach the medical room from the archive where Toshiko had made her wait. Dougal stopped her at the door.
“You need to be prepared,” he told her. “He’s badly burnt…”
“You stupid bastard,” she replied. “Do you think I was in the Army typing pool like some dumb girl? I’ve seen wounds from battle… the worst sort. Just like you have.”
Dougal conceded that much and stepped aside. Even so, she gasped emotionally when she saw the extent of Darius’s burns. Owen had cut his clothes off him and put a soft paper surgical gown around him, but it was obvious that his whole body was burnt, not just the parts exposed to the sun.
“Oh, what the fuck have you done, you stupid blood-sucker,” she said, reaching out to touch his face as gently as possible. “You’re a mess.”
“I… didn’t think you… care about how I look,” he managed to reply.
“I don’t. But think of the baby. What’s she going to think when she sees her dad?”
“I’ll be ok by then,” he promised her. “Only need a couple of months until I’m good looking again.”
“Seriously,” Dougal said quietly to Owen as they watched Shona letting her guard down and showing her real concern for Darius. “He’ll be good as new in a few months?”
“He says so. But it’s going to hurt like fuck for weeks. There’s nothing medically I can do for him. We just have to let nature take its course. If nature has anything to do with a Vampire.”
“Poor bastard,” Dougal murmured sypathetically. He’d known his share of pain. His mind went back to the fatal injuries he had suffered in the desert, lying there, alone and incapable of helping himself. Without the alien encounter he would have been dead in a few more minutes and it would have been over. As it was, he remembered with absolute clarity what dying was like. He knew many times over. The one consolation he had was that his pain was relatively brief. If he was facing weeks of constant and acute agony he wasn’t sure what he would do.
“What if…” He tried not to sound too excited as he outlined to Owen the idea that had jumped into his mind. “Could it work?”
“It can’t hurt to try,” Owen answered. “Go ahead.”
Dougal moved towards the bed. Shona drew back and let him lean over, pulling up the sleeve of his shirt. He pressed his wrist close to Darius’s mouth.
“Easiest way to give you a blood transfusion,” he said. “Give you some extra strength to get through this.”
Darius hesitated for a moment, then he extended his fangs and bit into Dougal’s flesh. He drank for several minutes before leaning his head back. Shona took a tissue and wiped a drop of blood from the corner of his mouth. When she leaned back she gave an exclamation. Owen drew nearer and noted that the burns on Darius’s face looked less severe.
“Wow, that works fast,” he said. “Hang in there. We might have you back to classically handsome vampire lover faster than expected.”
“I can feel it,” he said. “Thank you.”
Shona turned and looked at Dougal.
“You gave him your blood… with those nanogenes in it. They’re repairing him?”
“He won’t be immortal,” Dougal told her. “When they’ve done their work they’ll become inactive. But…”
“I’m… grateful,” she managed. “Thank you.”
“Yeah, well, Torchwood is understaffed already. And you ready to go on maternity leave, soon. Can’t have one of the team lying around pulling the sick for months. I just did what was best for Torchwood.”
He turned away. Owen nodded silently to him, acknowledging his generous action towards his colleague.
“If the alien is dead he won’t be needing his travel capsule,” Dougal said before he left the medical room. “I’ll do the paperwork then take it down to the artefact store.”
He left the room. Owen took another look at his patient and then made his own excuses to leave him and Shona in peace.