The Hub alarm system was in overload. Not only was the claxon sounding loudly, but the lights were flashing red ominously. Owen was trying to call out orders above the noise.
“Shona, take Gabrielle and get the fuck out of here, now,” he said. “That’s your job when the alarms go off. Don’t argue with me. Toshiko, go with her. Tell the girls upstairs to shut up shop and go to their fire drill location. Munroe, do you know what triggered the alarms?”
“It’s in the vault,” he answered. “Darius and Dougal were looking at something from the archive.”
“The thing that started emitting trace levels of unknown energy during the night?”
That was why it was Darius and Dougal examining it. An Undead man and a man who couldn’t die could take the risks nobody else dared to take. It wasn’t entirely fair on either of them, and Shona Stewart did a fair amount of complaining about being left out of such assignments, but that was how it was at Torchwood Glasgow.
“The energy readings are off the scale now,” Munroe confirmed.
“Are they… alive?”
“I’m seeing Dougal’s lifesign, still. We’ve never been able to trace Darius, of course. If he’s with him, they’re both running. But the energy is expanding. They’re going to be caught up in it. They….”
Munroe stopped talking. Dougal’s lifesign was no longer registering.
“He’s dead?” Owen asked.
“I don’t know,” Munroe answered. “I’m getting nothing at all. It’s as if that part of the complex isn’t there any more.”
“What the fuck is going on?” Owen knew it was a pointless question, but it was the only question his mind could encompass right now.
“The energy is stabilising. It’s still encompassing the whole of the fifth floor vault and the corridor beyond, but it’s not getting any bigger. It’s like a balloon that’s blown up as far as it’s meant to blow.”
“Let’s hope nobody has a fucking pin, then,” Owen replied. “Is it safe to go down there and see if our men are alive?”
“I… think so,” Munroe conceded. “But… I’m sorry, I don’t think we’re going to find them alive. There’s no lifesign at all. Even Dougal… with his special circumstances…. As for Darius… who knows what such energy might do to him?”
“Then we need to go and get their fucking bodies,” Owen snapped. “They deserve that much. Fuck….”
He was using that swear word too much. But it was that sort of a day.

Darius and Dougal hadn’t wasted any time. As soon as the needle on the energy monitor swung towards the opposite end of the scale they turned and ran, shutting bulkhead doors as they passed through them.
“I don’t think physical doors will hold it,” Darius pointed out as they reached another lockdown point and the steel shutters came down behind them. He wasn’t out of breath. He didn’t breathe.
“I think you’re right,” Dougal answered. He was out of breath, but he didn’t stop running. He glanced around once and saw the silvery glow come through the bulkhead. It was moving faster than they could possibly run, but they had to try. They still didn’t know any more about the energy the artefact was producing. They didn’t know if it was benign or if it would kill them painfully. They didn’t want to find out.
“It’s slowing,” Darius said. “We might make it.”
“Not slowing enough,” Dougal replied. “Don’t talk, run.”
They were close to the stairwell that led up to Hub Central when the energy overcame them. It looked and felt like being overwhelmed by a huge ball of mercury, but without the substance of liquid metal. They stumbled, dizzy and unable to see clearly. Dougal heard Darius’s voice as if from afar before he blacked out.
He woke in the dark. The only thing he was sure of was that he hadn’t died this time. He had just passed out.
“Darius?” he whispered.
“I’m here,” the Vampire replied. “I feel… like I’ve been in an opium den all night. I haven’t felt this way since I was alive.”
“Where are we?”
“Exactly where we were. But the lights are out. I can see. Vampires can always see in the dark. Let me guide you. The stairs are just here.”
Dougal accepted his arm and his guidance. Even his cold, Undead touch was reassuring.
“Munroe will have all the data upstairs,” Darius said in a cheerful voice as if trying to lighten the darkness for him. “Miss Sato will be interpreting it already. Doctor Harper will insist on giving us both full medical examinations, even though he knows it’s pointless in both our cases. Shona will give me the cold shoulder as if she thinks it’s all my fault. She always does.”
Dougal laughed.
“You and her have the oddest relationship I’ve ever known,” he said.
“Yes, but it’s also the best relationship I’ve ever had,” Darius pointed out. “It’s not easy for my kind, you know.”
“Tell me about it,” Dougal answered. “I thought being gay was problematic.”
They reached the stairs. There were no lights there, either. That struck them as odd, but they just assumed that the energy must have shorted the whole section out. They climbed slowly, expecting to come out into the brightly lit Hub Central at any time.
They didn’t. They emerged into a Hub that was lit by dim, energy efficient, emergency lights. Just one computer was switched on at Shona’s workstation.
“But what happened?” Darius whispered, for reasons he didn’t quite understand himself. “Why are we on emergency power?”
“I don’t know,” Dougal answered a little louder. The figure at the desk froze. Then she moved quickly. Dougal recognised the click of a safety catch being released and raised his hands to indicate that he was unarmed.
“Shona, it’s me, it’s ok. You don’t have to….”
“How do you know my name?” Shona Stewart moved closer, keeping her service pistol trained on both men at once. As she drew closer they noted that she was wearing battle fatigues and her face was blacked up for camouflage. Military style t-shirts and pants were her usual attire, but this was well over the top.
“Shona, it’s us, Dougal… and Darius. What’s going on? Where is everyone?”
“I don’t know anyone called Dougal. And as for….” She turned the gun directly on Darius. Her expression, already hard, twisted in disgust. “You… filthy bloodsucker. I killed you once already….”
Darius was too shocked to respond. He didn’t even defend himself. It was Dougal who dived in front of him and took the bullet in his head. He slithered to the floor, bleeding from the exit wound in the back of his skull. Shona got ready to fire again, but Darius had been shook out of his stupor. He rounded on her and knocked the gun from her hand before restraining her and forcing her to the ground.
“Please don’t struggle, mylimasis. I have blood in my nostrils and I’m trying to keep my instincts in check. Just… keep still for a minute.”
He was lying on top of her, his face pressed into her hair as he tried not to smell Dougal’s rapidly congealing blood. He could feel his fangs extending and his vision was a red haze. His skin felt tight and dry. He tried to concentrate on the smell of her hair instead. He couldn’t help noticing that it hadn’t been washed recently, and that when it was, she had used the plain soap that was kept in the Torchwood bathrooms.
Thinking about soap took his mind off blood long enough for Dougal’s miracle to happen. He sat up touching the back of his head where his hair was still matted but the hole in his skull had repaired itself.
“What the fuck!” Shona swore. “You can’t be one of them, too. You don’t… look like a blood-sucker.”
“You really don’t know me?” he asked. “We’ve never worked together… never been on field assignments together?”
“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about. And get this Undead bastard off me or I’ll….”
“Just keep calm,” Dougal told her. “We don’t mean you any harm. Darius, the energy wave… it’s pulled us into an alternative reality where I never joined the Torchwood team and you’re….”
“Dead!” Darius touched Shona’s cheek with one of his long, cold fingers. She shuddered and recoiled from his touch. His Undead heart sank. The woman he knew and loved didn’t do that. She swore at him and called him cruel names, but she craved his touch. His cold hands on her body, his bloodless kiss on her lips, were a turn on when they made love. As much as she claimed to hate what he was he fascinated her and she couldn’t get enough physical contact with him.
But this Shona hated him. She was only keeping still because his teeth were so close to her neck.
“Gabrielle!” he murmured sadly.
“I’m sorry,” Dougal told him. “I think my life probably doesn’t have any happy endings, here, either. Let her up. We need to talk. Second Lieutenant Stewart… I outrank you by one pip on my uniform, so just do what I say right now. Sit down over here and tell me what the fuck is going on around here. What happened to the Hub? Where is everyone?”
Darius stood. He reached to help Shona up, but she looked at him disdainfully and refused his aid. She glanced with only slightly less disdain at Dougal and then did as he said.
“That’s better. Now, you’ve heard the short version of what happened to us. We’re not from this world. But we ARE from Torchwood, so let’s act like we’re on the same side. What’s gone wrong with THIS reality?”
“The fucking vampires,” Shona answered. “The ones he claimed were safe. They all turned on us.”
“No!” Darius protested. “No, that’s not possible. It would never happen.”
“It happened. Doctor Harper said it was a virus of some sort. It only affected the unDead. It sent them crazy. We didn’t even know how many there were until they started a murder spree one night.”
“Just here, in Glasgow, or… everywhere?” Dougal asked.
“Everywhere, the last I heard. Even the emergency broadcasts stopped a month ago and it was all over the world. Vampires are everywhere, and they’re ALL deadly. Those people they didn’t drain dry they turned into more vampires. This world belongs to them now. There are only a few pockets of survivors – if that.”
“Torchwood… where’s the rest of the team? Who’s left here?”
“Just me and Doctor Harper,” Shona answered. “Macdonald was killed the first day….”
“Toshiko… and her children…..” Dougal questioned.
Shona glared at Darius venomously.
“He… murdered the baby… and turned the little girl and her mother before I killed him.”
“No!” Darius protested. “I would never… I love those children like my own. I have cared for them many times when Miss Sato was busy. I have sat them on my knee….”
“You drained the baby’s blood, left it like dry paper,” Shona responded angrily. “Then you made vampires out of his mother and sister.”
“HE didn’t,” Dougal reminded her. “Whatever happened here, in this world, didn’t happen in ours. In our world, we trust Darius. He’s part of the team.”
“WE trusted him, and he turned on us. That’s why I staked him through his heart and cut off his fucking head.”
Darius flinched physically and mentally. The pure hatred in her voice as she talked about killing his duplicate in this world was like a knife in his unbeating heart. What she was saying cut deep, too. He loved Toshiko’s children as much as he loved his own daughter. He would never harm them.
How different was this world that he would forget every principle he ever held and committed such a foul deed?
“This isn’t getting us anywhere,” Dougal said. “You have to believe that Darius isn’t your enemy. Nor am I. Yes, he’s a vampire. Yes, I’m indestructible. Those have always been our special talents. Yours is being a soldier in every fibre of your being with instincts the rest of us can only stand back and admire.”
“That might have been true, once” Shona admitted. “But this world has turned to shit. All my instincts are good for is surviving. I can’t help anyone else. There’s hardly anyone left to help. The Human race is dead.”
“It can’t be,” Darius protested. “It’s not possible. Surely….”
“You just shut up,” Shona snapped at him. “Don’t tell me what’s possible or not possible. You’ve not seen what it’s like out there. It is the end. Bloodsuckers rule the planet.”
“I’m sorry,” Darius told her in a gentle voice. “Believe me, I truly am sorry.”
Shona turned from him icily. She didn’t want to hear anything from him. Dougal shook his head sadly. He could understand Shona’s anger. It was beyond the prejudice against ‘blood suckers’ that she had in their own world. Here she was on the losing side of a war with vampires. No wonder Darius was such an unwelcome arrival.
He wondered about his own existence in this alternative world. Obviously he had never come to work at Torchwood. Had he been killed in the desert here and never resurrected by the aliens who gave him his unique gift? Was he alive in some other part of Glasgow, fighting for his own survival, unaware of other pockets of resistance?
Was he a victim of the vampires, drained of his lifeblood along with the nano-genes that allowed him to come back from the dead?
The Hub alarm cut off his thoughts. Shona became alert immediately. He stood with her, ready to fight, if need be. She gave him a hard scowl, but didn’t object to his presence at her side.
“Oh shit!” she exclaimed as Owen Harper crashed through the door from the garage entrance. He was struggling with a snarling, screeching child in his arms and an unconscious woman on his back at the same time. Dougal was slightly faster than Shona in crossing the floor and offering him help. Owen was too busy trying to stop the child gnawing his arm off to object to any assistance.
“Oh shit!” Dougal echoed Shona’s words as he recognised Toshiko’s features in the grey-complexioned vampiress. The snarling child was Etsuko. He had found them and brought them back to the Hub.
“Help me get them into the medical room,” he said, still not commenting on Dougal’s presence. He hadn’t seen Darius, yet. He was sitting in the shadows. Since he didn’t breathe, even that couldn’t give him away.
Shona and Dougal helped him manhandle his former wife and child into the room where he carried out alien autopsies and Human medical procedures depending on which was needed. He had obviously prepared for this. There was a table fitted with restraints and a glass fronted ‘cage’ that he put the child into. She continued to snarl and scratch at the glass, mad eyes glowing red, fangs extended ready to feed on the next Human to come near her.
Owen fastened Toshiko to the table. Dougal looked at his face. His expression was hard set and impossible to read, but there must have been turmoil inside his mind. Here was the woman he loved, the child he adored, both turned against him in the worst possible circumstances.
“What do you intend to do with her?” Dougal asked. Owen Harper looked at him and finally realised that he was a stranger. Dougal quickly explained his circumstances. Shona Stuart backed him up, as far as she was able.
“This is true?” Owen asked her.
“He says it is. And it’s the only explanation that makes any kind of sense. I’ve read about something like this in the U.N.I.T. confidential files. My uncle wrote up the notes about it. This sort of thing IS possible.”
“People just turning up in a flash from other universes?”
“There WAS an energy spike in the archive area,” Shona added. “I was monitoring it. The levels were returning to normal, and then they turned up.”
Shona sighed and explained about Darius. Owen gave an angry exclamation. Shona and Dougal both restrained him from running out of the medical room with a razor sharp scalpel in his hand.
“He murdered my son!” Owen cried out, tears pricking his eyes. “He made my daughter into a monster.”
“HE didn’t,” Dougal insisted. “None of this happened where we come from. Please, Owen, believe me. He isn’t your enemy. He didn’t do that to you. Please….”
“I don’t even know you,” Owen snapped. “Why should I believe you?”
“In our world you do know me. You trust me. Please try to trust me now. We have to work together, all of us.”
Owen sighed and stopped struggling. Dougal relaxed his hold on him. Shona stood in the doorway just in case, but the fight had gone out of Owen. He turned back to the table and looked at Toshiko.
“What was your plan?” Dougal asked. “Did you intend to do something to her?”
“I wanted to find a cure,” he replied.
“For vampirism? Is that possible?”
“I don’t know. I’m going to try. I have to. I can’t just give up on them. They’re all I have.”
“I’ll see that you have power in here,” Shona said. “The solar panels should have produced enough for a few hours.”
Owen thanked her quietly and began the usual preparations for exploratory surgery. Dougal watched for a moment then grabbed a surgical gown and gloves and scrubbed up to assist him.
“Darius usually does this,” he said. “But in the circumstances….”
Owen hesitated momentarily and then accepted his help. This was a difficult procedure. He needed assistance.
“I’ve done experiments on the ‘turned’ already,” he said. “They’re different to the original vampires. There’s something in their brains… an enzyme… I tried to extract it… but the subjects died without it.”
“The SUBJECTS?” Dougal was startled by Owen’s calm use of such an impersonal reference to Human beings on his operating table.
“I did them a favour,” he growled. “Death is better than… this. But I know now. I can’t just extract the enzyme. I have to change its properties within the brain. If I do that, I think I can bring her back.”
“You can make her Human again?”
“I think so.”
“If you’re wrong….”
“Then she’s dead… she’s at peace. It’s over for her… and for me. But I have to try. If I don’t, I might as well just cut off her head and then put a bullet in my own.”
He carefully cut away a section of her hair, shaving an inch of it right down to the scalp. Then he picked up a scalpel and cut into the flesh, peeling it back to expose the skull. A precision power tool cut into the skull next, revealing a section of the brain. Dougal stood by with sterilised swabs and watched as Owen stuck a terrifyingly large syringe into the brain tissue and extracted a greenish liquid. He passed it to Dougal and told him to put it into a sealed phial while he replaced the segment of skull and the flesh over it using an alien reverse-scalpel that drained a lot of the precious solar power but closed the opening without a scar.
“This is the enzyme?” Dougal asked as he did as instructed.
“It’s Cerebrospinal fluid. The enzyme is within it. I need to....”
“What you want to do won’t work,” Darius voice interrupted him. “You’ll just kill her. You need me to save her.”
Dougal and Owen both turned to see him standing at the doorway. Shona Stuart was close by with her gun pointed at him. He stood his ground.
“What do I need you for?” Owen replied coldly.
“I heard you talking about the enzyme. I think I know what it is. It’s what changes them from Human to vampire….”
“I fucking well know that,” Owen replied.
“Yes… but… she’s not completely turned. How long is it since… since… she was….”
“Since YOU took her from me….” Owen’s eyes very nearly glowed with rage and grief as he looked at Darius in full light for the first time. “It’s been three months.”
“In normal circumstances, the process is completed by the first sunrise. There’s no going back. That’s how it was for me. But what happened here isn’t normal. This is….”
“You know something about this?” Owen demanded. “Tell me.”
“You said you thought the vampires were affected by a virus. It can happen. In the Undead community there are rumours about it happening in the Faroe Islands in the fourteenth century….”
“I don’t give a fuck about the fucking Faroe Islands,” Owen responded. “What do you know?”
“I don’t KNOW anything,” Darius answered. “I’m just guessing that the virus gave the vampires a blood lust… they went out of control, a feeding frenzy. They murdered some humans and they tried to turn others. But the virus prevented them from fully turning. They have all the characteristics of the Undead, including the madness that comes with the first hunger. But look at Toshiko. She still has a heartbeat. You’ve noticed that, surely? Her own blood still circulates. The child, too.”
“I’ve noticed that, obviously. But getting back to the point, what do I need you for?”
“Take fluid from my brain. I’m a fully turned Undead, and I don’t have the virus. Use my brain fluid to neutralise the enzyme.”
“Wouldn’t that just complete the process and turn her into a full vampire?” Dougal asked.
“If I just put his brain fluid into her, yes,” Owen answered. “But he’s talking about reverse engineering.”
“Can it be done?”
“I think it can,” Owen said with a note of optimism in his voice. “Yes, I think so. It might be the only chance she has. All right, come over here, lie down on the table.”
“Owen, don’t kill him,” Dougal said. “He’s offering to help, not sacrifice himself.”
“I’ll try to resist the urge,” Owen replied. “But only because I might need a second sample from him. That’s as much affection I have for any fucking vampire.”
Dougal watched him repeat the process he had performed on Toshiko’s skull on Darius. He was wide awake through it all. It must have hurt. Even a vampire could feel pain. But Darius didn’t flinch. He kept his eyes focussed on the ceiling as his brain was exposed and Owen inserted a second syringe into it.
“It’s a darker colour,” Dougal observed. “That’s normal is it?”
“Fucked if I know,” Owen replied passing him the syringe to deal with and reaching for the reverse scalpel. As a matter of professional pride he closed the opening in Darius’s head with the same care and attention as he did when operating on Toshiko. His hand didn’t waver even when the Hub alarm sounded loudly and Shona Stuart yelled out a warning.
“They’re trying to get in through the tourist office,” she called out, grabbing a gun and filling her pockets with spare magazines as well as taking up an improvised sword - a long bayonet blade with tape around the end to protect her hand. Dougal grabbed the same weapons and followed her up the stairwell to the secure door at the ground level.
It wasn’t secure now. The heavy metal door with state of the art electronic bolts was hanging off its tempered steel hinges. The Undead were breaking through, snarling with blood lust as they scented warm Human bodies.
“Are these original vampires or the ones they turned?” Dougal asked.
“We don’t have time to ask them,” Shona replied. “We’ve got to kill them all or we’re finished.”
She didn’t hesitate, and she didn’t miss. She hit them between the eyes with her bullets and swiped their heads from their shoulders with the bayonet. Dougal matched her in both skills. His arm ached after a while. The force needed to decapitate a vampire told in all his muscles, but he had to keep going. He reloaded his gun swiftly and fired again and again.
“We’re beating them,” he said at last. “There aren’t so many of them.”
“They come every night,” Shona told him. “Sometimes there are more, sometimes less. They know we’re down here. They keep trying. So far we’ve managed… but sooner or later we’re going to run out of bullets.”
Dougal pushed the broken door back against the last few vampires, shouldering it against their might. Shona fired at them through the last gap. Their bodies fell and then crumbled on the floor.
“Stand out of the way,” Darius called out. He ran up the stairs carrying a portable laser welding kit. He used it to seal the door. They wouldn’t come that way again.
“Thanks, pal,” Dougal told him. Shona just looked at him coldly. She still wasn’t ready to accept a vampire as an ally, let alone a lover.
“I need coffee,” she said. “I suppose you could use some, too.”
She said that to Dougal, of course. Vampires didn’t drink coffee, but even if they did, she probably wouldn’t offer him any.
If they were trapped here, then both of them had lost a lot. Sandy was almost certainly dead in this terrible reality. That grieved him deeply, but he had come to terms with being parted from him before. How much worse was it for Darius, looking at Shona all the time and knowing she would never be his lover here? It was yet another cruel blow to his unDead soul.
The coffee was instant, from a box of sachets in the emergency food store. The sugar and powdered milk was rationed. There was a faint taste of the recycled water that it couldn’t disguise. But it was hot, and sitting there with Shona, drinking the coffee was the closest thing to a social moment with her since they had arrived.
“You didn’t have anyone out there to worry about?” he asked. “Your uncle… in our world he passed away last year. Is that the same here?”
“Yes,” she answered. “I’m on my own. Nobody to grieve about. Nobody to miss. Nobody to miss me if I get tagged the next time they attack.” She paused and looked at Dougal. “What about you? Do you have somebody?”
“Yes.” He didn’t give any details. She didn’t ask for any. He was glad. In his own reality she had come to respect him as a good soldier and didn’t bother about him being gay as much as she used to. But he didn’t want to go through all of that again.
“We’re not….” She struggled to find a way of putting the question. “You said we worked together. Did we… I mean… I never would when I was with U.N.I.T. Relationships with colleagues just fuck things up. But here….”
“No, we’re not an item,” Dougal assured her.
“What about….” She glanced towards the medical room. Darius had taken coffee to Owen. He was talking to him. “Before… when we trusted him… once or twice… well… maybe a few times… it was just sex… not any kind of relationship… but I still….”
Dougal guessed the rest. She probably DID have feelings for Darius, just like the Shona in his world did. She hid them behind a tough exterior. Even so, she must have been cut to the quick by his betrayal. Killing him must have been painful.
But he decided he didn’t want her to tell him how much. He didn’t want her to show her emotional wounds to him.
“Shit happens in war,” he said. “It’s tough. But we get used to it.”
She didn’t say anything else. She had closed up again. He felt guilty. Maybe he should have let her bare her soul to him after all. It might have helped her.
She withdrew from her own personal situation, but she talked, with prompting, about the struggle against the vampires, the rapid collapse of government, of any military response to the emergency, the disintegration of any communications between towns and cities. She admitted she didn’t know if things were better in the rural areas. The possibility that the vampires were less successful there had been discussed, but there was no way of knowing. As far as she knew, she and Owen were the last humans left in Glasgow. She could only hope there were other cities where people had fared better.
“We lost contact with Cardiff, but we don’t know if they were attacked or if they simply lost their communications,” she said. “Jack Harkness had a plan of some sort, but that was weeks ago. We just don’t know.”
“I’m sorry this happened,” Dougal said. He couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“I’m sorry you’re stuck here with us,” Shona answered. “This isn’t your world, but you’re trapped in the nightmare with us.”
Dougal knew that well enough. He had been trying not to think about it. At the back of his mind was a hope that he and Darius could return to their own reality. But if they didn’t, what would they do? This wasn’t a world that Darius would be welcome in even if the Human race did manage to survive. And what of him? What if they did succumb? He might be the last Human being left alive simply because he couldn’t die, fighting alone against a world of monsters who used to be Human.
It was a dismal prospect that occupied his mind for the long hours of the night. It was night. The clock on the wall said so. There was no other way of knowing in the Hub even at the best of times. It was night, and the vampires and their victims were roaming the streets up above. They were here below ground doing their best.
It would have been dawn above when Darius brought a message from Owen. He wanted them all to come to the medical room.
They got there just as Owen prepared to open up Toshiko’s skull again and insert a clear liquid into it – the Cerebrospinal fluid with the vampire enzyme neutralised – or so he hoped, at least.
“I won’t know until I try,” he said. “Either she gets well, or this kills her. I can accept that. I’ve been prepared for it for long enough. Or it doesn’t work at all… in which case….”
He glared at Darius.
“If this was for nothing, I’ll kill you. I only kept you alive for her.”
“I understand,” Darius told him calmly.
Owen completed the operation and stood back from the table, looking at Toshiko’s face critically, searching for some sign that the antidote was working.
“It might not take effect straight away,” Dougal told him. “You might need to wait a bit.”
“No,” he answered. “I think it IS working. Look… the teeth….”
He pulled back her lips. The fangs were retracting, becoming ordinary teeth again. Her gums were less red, her lips less pale. There really was a difference. Even her skin was starting to look normal.
Then she breathed hard, a deep sighing breath. Her eyelids flickered as if she was going to open her eyes, but then she sank into a deep sleep.
“Ordinary Human sleep,” Owen said, brushing her cheek gently. “That’s what she needs most.”
“It worked?” Darius was almost as anxious as Owen, and not just because he had threatened to kill him. Even though he wasn’t the one who attacked Toshiko he had been feeling something like guilt about it, and this almost eased his conscience.
“Get the child,” Owen added. “Quickly, before she wakes. She can’t see her daughter like that.”
Etsuko was asleep now, curled up in the cage like an animal. But her fangs were still extended and her face grey. She was more vampire than Human.
Owen opened the cage and lifted her out gently. He laid her down on a second table and began to fix the restraints in place. He paused and sighed deeply, looking at her face, then he continued to fasten her down to the table.
“I’ll help,” Darius said. Owen looked around and saw that he was wearing green scrubs, ready to assist in the operation.
“You’ve done enough damage,” he responded. “Stay away.”
“It wasn’t me. Can’t you understand that, any of you?”
Owen grunted. He didn’t have time to argue. He needed to give Etsuko the same treatment he gave her mother before either woke. He began to shave the patch of her head in preparation for opening. Darius stood by with the equipment he needed. Dougal and Shona waited by the door, watching hopefully.
As soon as he made the first incision, Etsuko screeched like an animal. Her eyes opened wide and she struggled against the restraints.
“That’s no good,” Darius said. “Dougal, you come and hold stuff. Never mind about scrubbing up. Just do it. I need to look after her.”
Owen began to protest, but Darius ignored him. He put his hand on Etsuko’s forehead and spoke to her in a low, calm voice. His words were in Lithuanian, but they nevertheless had a quietening effect. She lay still, looking up at him with eyes that were still red with the madness, but almost tender in their expression.
“Vampire to vampire talk!” Owen said bitterly. “She looks on you… the one who turned her… as her father, now.”
“Only until you finish the job, then she’ll be yours again. Do it, Owen. Quickly.”
He didn’t need to be told twice. He picked up the prepared syringe from the sterilised tray that Dougal held. He inserted it into Etsuko’s mind. Her eyes widened as he pressed the syringe down and the fluid flooded her brain. Darius kept his hand on her forehead while Owen completed the closure of the wound.
“She’s drawing away from me,” he said. “The connection between us… as Undead… I am losing it. She is becoming….”
“Human!” Owen breathed. “It’s working. She’s going to be all right.”
“If it works for them, could it work for others?” Dougal asked. “Can you save more humans from this?”
He was thinking of the carnage at the door when he and Shona had killed so many. It was necessary. He had no qualms about that. The two of them fought and killed to preserve the lives of everyone here in the Hub. But if there was another way, perhaps the slaughter wouldn’t have to go on. Perhaps there was hope.
Owen didn’t answer at first. He was hugging Etsuko in his arms. She was half asleep, talking in Japanese, taught to her by her mother alongside English. Owen was answering her haltingly in the few words he had learnt from her. There were tears of relief in his eyes.
“I can synthesise it,” he said. “I can make a serum. I might even be able to do it as an ordinary vaccination eventually… cut out this process. Yes, it might be possible. We can start to reclaim the Human race.”
“Good,” Darius said. “I… am glad. I am truly thankful.”
Owen wasn’t listening to him. His only thoughts now were for his wife and child. Darius drew away from him.
“Darius, come on, quickly,” Dougal called to him suddenly. He turned and saw Shona urging them to follow her.
“The energy spike that occurred before you arrived… it’s registering again. I think it might be possible….”
“We could get home?” If he breathed, Darius would have caught his breath.
“Or end up in another world where things are even worse than here,” Dougal suggested. “But I think we have to try.”
“Shona….” Darius began. The look on his face was pleading. She avoided eye contact with him.
“Go,” she said to them both. “Don’t wait around. You might miss your chance.”
They ran together, back down to the archive level where they had come through the energy wave and found themselves here. It was dark. Darius caught hold of Dougal’s hand and led him as he had before.
“I can see something glowing,” he said. “Up ahead. It looks like… the thing that….”
“We could come out on a cinder planet that’s been destroyed by nuclear war or….”
“I’ll take the risk.”
“Me too.”
They ran towards the silvery glow. It overwhelmed them again with a sensation like liquid mercury. Their senses reeled.
Then Dougal heard a voice near his ear. It was Owen Harper, holding him upright. That struck him as strange. Owen was a short, skinny man. How could he be holding him up?
“Stand still for a minute. You’re going to be all right. Munroe, is he ok?”
“He’s fainted,” Munroe MacDonald’s voice answered. “I didn’t know vampires could faint!”
“There are a lot of things we don’t know about vampires,” Dougal said, opening his eyes at last and blinking in the bright corridor lights. “Some of it you’re not going to like.”
Darius came around quickly once they were back in the Hub. He looked up and saw Shona actually looking anxious about him.
“Gabrielle,” he said.
“She’s asleep,” Shona replied. “It’s five o’clock in the morning. What do you expect?”
“Your children,” Darius said to Owen. “And Toshiko. Where are they?”
“They’re asleep, at home,” Owen answered. “Where else would they be?”
Darius shook his head. He looked at Dougal. His expression spoke volumes. He was asking if they had to explain everything.
“Yes, we do,” Dougal answered. “We have to tell them everything. And we have to do it now.”
It was painful for Darius. Telling Owen what his alternative universe self had done hurt them both. Telling Shona about the alternative universe version of her was equally painful. The fact that he had done his best to make it right didn’t entirely vindicate him.
“Don’t,” Dougal begged them. “Don’t look at him like that. This is still OUR Darius, the man we all know and trust. He’s the father of your child, Shona. He’s the man you love, despite everything. Owen, you trust him with your children. Don’t treat him differently because of what happened in that world. HE didn’t do it.”
“I’m trying not to,” Owen said. “But… this virus that affected his kind in that reality… what if it happened here?”
“Talk to me, not about me,” Darius demanded. “I can’t give you any guarantees. Except, you have my brain, my Cerebrospinal fluid. Use it to prepare an antidote in advance… so that we’re ready… if it should happen here. Tell Cardiff, tell U.N.I.T., the CIA, all the other organisations that know secrets like ours. Make sure they all have stocks of the antidote. If it happens, the world will be prepared. And if it doesn’t, if it never happens here, then let me carry on being the same person I was before. Don’t look at me like that… don’t be suspicious… don’t keep the children away from me. Don’t make me have to prove myself to you all over again.”
“You don’t have to prove anything,” Owen told him. “I’m sorry if I made you think otherwise. Everything is cool. You’re still part of the team. Shona, take him to bed and shag him stupid until your kid wakes up demanding breakfast. We’ll talk about the antidote thing later.”
Shona was slightly surprised by that instruction but didn’t seem to have a problem with obeying it. Owen watched them go and sighed deeply. He looked at Dougal.
“She killed him… in the other reality?”
“I don’t know why I didn’t get to him first. If I thought he was capable of… what he did… I’d cut off his head in a heartbeat. But until proved otherwise, he’s still OUR Darius and he isn’t capable of any such thing. If I forget that for one moment, kick me up the arse for it.”
“Is that an order, boss?” Dougal asked.
“Yes, it is,” Owen answered. “Meanwhile, you piss off home, too, and shag your bloke until he passes out. And that’s an order, too.”


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