lady_songsmith: owl (Default)
"Lost, miss?" Gwen inquired of the woman who paced down the alley that was already night-dark, although broader streets were still enjoying the lingering rays of sunset. There was something a bit posh about her, despite the rough trousers and the baggy jumper. A way of standing, or something in her eyes? She certainly didn't belong in a Liverpool alleyway, twenty yards from the piers. "I can call you a cab--"

"No, thank you," she replied with absent courtesy, even as her eyes raked Gwen from to toe. "But you might want to head home yourself. This is no place for a respectable girl."

As Gwen was wearing the least respectable clothing she'd been able to find (and still move in) and a later of dirt besides, this made her raise her brows at the stranger. "Flattered you'd think me 'spectable, mum."

"No need to lay it on with a trowel," she answered briskly. "You're certainly no local, with that accent."

"Who are you?" Gwen demanded. She'd worked hard to eradicate the country accent of her youth. No one could tell, anymore, how new from the farm she was. Except this woman, who was going to learn more about the dangers of dark alleys than she'd ever dreamed if she insisted on hanging about.

"A professional. You can go home; I'll handle it. And do tell your boss that if the police are so short staffed as to be sending secretaries on surveillance, they're better off not trying."

"Police!" Gwen exclaimed. "Is that what you think?"

"Who else would be watching the warehouse connected with a strange disappearance, wearing a newspaper caricature of a beggar's rags?"

Gwen was getting tired of the casual insults, and now the woman wasn't even looking at her, studying the warehouse instead. The warehouse Branson had last been seen entering, before he dropped out of sight entirely. And the warehouse where "strange creatures" had been seen, and Jack's numerous, anonymous "friends" swore something ‘decidedly foreign,’ so to speak, was living. But as far as she knew, no one else should know that. The police certainly hadn't been involved; she was only here because she'd known Branson once, and Jack owed some favors to the people interested in Tom's disappearance. And now she was stuck with a civilian who thought she could nose around with impunity…

"That’s odd," the stranger said, and Gwen turned to look at the warehouse just in time to see a golden sphere lobbed from a window. "Down!" She ordered, shoving the civilian toward the damp wall.

To her credit, the woman didn't argue, crouching with her in the lee of the wall, pulling in easily-injured limbs and head. The globe exploded, not with a roar of heat and flame, but with a burst of sickly blue light. Gwen, between it and the civilian, felt the urge to lie down, the heaviness in her muscles like the end of a long day's heavy cleaning. She shook herself, firmly reminding her body that it was perfectly well rested. Her head cleared a little.

The light faded. She glanced at the woman, who she was beginning to think wasn’t a civilian after all, expecting to find her asleep, and was reluctantly impressed to see her relatively alert. "That was-- wasn't-, oh, pardon me," she said, overtaken by a yawn. "That wasn't any common bomb."

Definitely not civilian. "You’re familiar with common bombs?"

"They do have an alarming propensity for exploding in my vicinity." She straightened, giving Gwen a hand up. "And if you're this calm, you're certainly not police. Should I apologize?"

Gwen smiled in spite of herself. "Gwen Dawson, Torchwood," she introduced herself. "You’d be one of the Accountant's, then?"

"Mary Russell, ah - consultant, I suppose. Yes, he asked me to look into a disappearance, as I was in the neighborhood, so to speak. But he didn't say anything about new weapons research. I rather thought we'd have a rest from that after the war."

"It’s not precisely new," Gwen said ruefully, "just... very, very foreign. How are you at believing the impossible?"

"The impossible or the merely improbable?" Russell responded dryly. "I assure you I’ve had practice with the latter."
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July 2016

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