Clara recoiled in surprise as Vastra suddenly wrapped herself around her, holding her close with far too much force for her ribcage to seemingly withstand, and making a sound that could only be described as a low croon. It was something of a surprise for her, given the Silurian's normal level of expressiveness, even though she had been trying to seduce her temporary maid for four days, prior to Clara's abduction.
Then she felt the Silurian's hands rise slightly away from the rib-breaking hold they had been maintaining, and jerked her head away, not nearly quick enough to evade what appeared to be a padded leather collar, produced from a sleeve, and suddenly buckled around her neck, fitted with a padlock.
"Take it off." She growled, her voice slightly rougher than usual from her extended imprisonment. "I am not a dog, cat, horse or any other sort of mammal you are likely to compare me to. I am a human, and humans do not have to wear collars unless they want to."
Vastra looked at her, clearly marshalling her thoughts carefully. Then she reluctantly removed the collar, dropping it into Clara's hands, just before throwing the human girl behind her.
"... Unless they want to." Vastra heard, looking
up at the building that her temporary ape had been extracted from, trying to
discern the slight movement that had drawn her peripheral vision up to one of
the first floor windows.
Almost invisible against the side of the building, she saw a slender metal tube, with a small protrusion at one end, slowing tracking around, before she suddenly realised it was aiming between Clara's shoulder blades.
She reacted without any thought. Without hesitation, she removed the collar, before suddenly throwing the girl into the carriage, and offering her own body for the shot, just as the still unseen marksman pulled his trigger.
The black powder charge ignited, sending a hollow-pointed slug of lead hurtling out of the barrel of his rifle, perhaps from a range of thirty feet. The round actually accelerated slightly as it travelled, punching into the Silurian's chest with perhaps the equivalent force of a well-thrown brick.
The slug actually penetrated the first layer of body armour, punching through five layers of ballistic fabric, before a collision with a steel strike plate made by a Japanese master swordsmith at her specific request.
The almost perfectly forged steel gave slightly, before the momentum of the slug was used to deform it into a thinner layer perhaps two centimetres deep, flattened from just under a third of an inch to perhaps the diameter of a penny.
Clara suddenly heard an almost biblically loud crack, as if
a tall building had suddenly shifted a few degrees. Then Vastra landed on top
of her, producing a strange set of syllables that had, strangely, the rhythm of
swear words, before slipping briefly out of consciousness, her head flopping
backwards over Clara's shoulder.
Sergeant Craig spun when he heard the gunshot.
Sourcing it was easy enough. A rifle barrel, smoke still tricking from it, was hanging out of a window, inside a haze of powder smoke.
Without conscious thought, his rifle was resting against his shoulder, pointing upwards, the cross hairs in the built in scope lining up with the window behind which the firer was presumably standing.
His thumb caressed a switch on the side of the weapon, setting the G-36k carbine to fire a three round burst.
Then he squeezed the trigger firmly, and very smoothly.
Three narrow projectiles shot out of the barrel, spinning rapidly. The glass of the window proved no match for them, before they punched into the gunman, still lowering the rifle after taking his first shot.
The first bullet tracked straight through the man's chest, narrowly missing an artery, before exiting on the far side, embedding itself in a roof beam with a thump. The following round struck perhaps an inch to the left, tearing into the aorta with a certain degree of efficiency, leaving two holes for high pressure blood to exit into the chest cavity and flow out of the body from, before embedding itself in the remains of a freshly shattered rib. The final round widened the tear, slicing open the artery, leaving the blood pressure inside the human's body dropping radically. He collapsed to the floor, bleeding to death even before the commandos of team two had burst into the room.
Vastra opened her eyes, slightly surprised to be in a
position to do so. Her chest felt like it had been struck with a baseball bat,
or perhaps a horse's hoof.
She was also surprised to find she was on top of Clara and quickly levered herself off of the human.
Nervously, even these thought it unlikely that she was injured, she felt at her chest, quickly extracting a lump of lead, perhaps the diameter of a penny piece. It was still warm to the touch.
"I shall have to be more careful." She said, wincing as she found some more parts of her body that were bruised. The high (by period standards) velocity bullet had directly struck one of the purpose designed strike plates in her body armour, designed to take exactly that sort of impact full on. If it had ended up striking just fabric, it was likely to have ended up embedded somewhere in her chest cavity. What it would have done to an entirely unarmoured Clara barely seemed imaginable.
Shaken, she clambered into the carriage, noticing that Clara was already inside, and the small human was in her seat, to the Silurian's left, if she took her customary position. Vastra settled into the coupe, driven by a third of Lestrade's detectives, before the convoy of carriages flattered down the old cobbles, quickly seeking out the more modern streets beyond, their drivers setting their sights on reaching St. Paul's cathedral within a quarter of an hour.
As they clattered through the streets, Vastra just allowed Clara to sit next to her in complete silence, processing the surprising amount of affection that she felt for the small human. It was similar, she realised, to how she had begun to value Jenny, in the early days of their relationship, before the young ape had reached the stage where she was interested in other bipeds, and, Vastra had assumed, specifically those who happened to be of the opposite gender to her.
That, and the warmth the human species as a whole was lucky to produce, had been the initial cement in her relationship with the young ape. She'd served as what she thought of as a Ki'chi'la; the closest word in any of the human languages being the Japanese word Sensei. The level of mentoring, in everything from dealing with others, to martial skills, and other pursuits, were very similar.
The progression of the Silurian's relationship with her maid had been curious. She'd spent several months, once they were no longer living in a garret, putting her ape in situations where she was meeting other apes of her own age. She'd expected the human to pair quickly, only for her to show no interest in the males, and only a minimal amount of interest in the females.
In the end, she'd found herself taking the then sixteen year old ape to bed, after a particularly loud and acrimonious discussion of the Silurian's dietary habits with regards to red meat and sourcing it.
With Clara, she felt a surprising amount of comfort when the human girl was around. It wasn't the same type as Jenny, perhaps except for the early days, when Jenny had been unable to effectively engage in self-defence. Inside, she had admitted to herself while Clara was a houseguest with the Doctor, just after his regeneration, that she somewhat regretfully found herself desiring her. She'd confessed that to Jenny. The little dragon had responded to the revelation with disgruntled acceptance, and had not attacked Vastra with a frying pan.
Jenny snuggled deeper into the covers on her bed, finally
running out of mischief. The odds, as she saw them, of her lizard staying out
of trouble for more than a few days without supervision from an expert with a
level 4 NVQ in Vastra Management were something approaching zero. The Silurian
would have found a new form of trouble.
Fortunately for her continued amusement, and her not making an escape attempt from her bed, she'd been provided with a complimentary games console, loaded with fun. As her avatar clambered over the rooftops in twelfth century Jerusalem, she was tracking her natural prey carefully: a criminal. Soon to be decreased. She sprang. Her target died.
She took a careful sip of her tea, once that part of the mission was completed. It was almost like when she took Vastra hunting in Southwark. The prey fell into the same category.
Her malnutrition was beginning to recede. A daily session of upper body cycling kept her in the right sort of shape to be able to continue once she was discharged without needing training to regain her physical capabilities. She was just slightly bored. No locks, not a safe in sight. Just bored. No Silurian to supervise, no Strax to keep out of trouble. Just an endless supply of medics, computer games, and the occasional newspaper.
She was very, very, mind-numbingly bored. And the cast on her ankle was secured to the bed. Her lock-picks were back in a chest somewhere in the property store at Newgate prison, in her own time.
Once they were inside the row, Vastra took charge. Leaving
the commando team in the kitchens, cooking an old fashioned fry-up, complete
with onions, mushrooms and eggs, along with the large amount of red meat, she
carried Clara upstairs, before reluctantly, of course, peeling the exhausted
human out of her clothing, and decanting her into the bath, adding a large
amount of smelly stuff that did a wonderful job of removing issues like sewer
muck, and all of the other surfactants that it is possible to acquire while
stalking a serial killer from the rooftops.
Then she placed a flotation ring around the small human's neck, and sat back, letting her simply soak in the warm water, without the risk of drowning if she fell asleep. She wasn't surprised to watch her nodding off after a few moments.
Then she sat back, extracting her small cigarette case from inside her dress, before lighting the inhaling herbs she used in place of tobacco. Jenny had been shown what happened to those who consumed the tobacco based version, but Vastra's were completely free of any trace radioactive elements, although Jenny was banned from swiping them, as they caused extreme levels of itching if she inhaled the smoke herself. Vastra had not been able to find her an alternative without worse side effects, so Jenny was always annoyed when the Silurian lit up.
Jolt was in the kitchen, processing his very large fry-up,
when he spotted Allana stepping into the room. He suspected that she'd been up
to something when she hadn't been waiting at the door more than briefly.
She had found a fairly flattering dress, in a pale blue fabric that served the purpose of covering everything important while showing just enough to generate interest in what was underneath, if hormones were allowed an input.
Sure enough, she glided over to his bench, and took a seat, shortly before her tongue made a rapid transit, causing a sausage to disappear from his plate.
Allana had carefully selected the dress from Vastra's collection that she thought was most flattering. The elder Silurian only wore black 'widow's weeds' in public, as part of her official persona, not that she wouldn't be very open about her lifestyle choice. It seemed, however, that Jenny had been trying to get her a selection of walking out dresses with the idea that she might start "Doin' the bleedin' shoppin' for 'erself." She remembered, from one of the letters they had exchanged. A number of dresses had been procured.
The selection of scents was typically Vastra. Most of the jars were labelled, marked as "two days, no bath. Adolescent Ape," or "night-soil worker, after shift." There were a number of actual perfumes, in considerably more ornate containers. She carefully sprayed on a few squirts of Lilly of the Valley, having checked the bottom of the bottle to ensure that it was safe for both Silurian and human use. The smell was surprisingly pleasant, for a scent form such a different time period, and she hoped, would be appreciated.
The kitchen was filled with aroma when she arrived, recognising a classic meal: the high-calorie and fat fried selection. The Silurian military had had a very similar selection dish. The consumption of it before or after high-stress missions was accepted.
Carefully, she took a seat next to her chosen male, before beginning the standard courtship ritual she was familiar with.
She identified a particular morsel, before stealing it, using her tongue.
Jolt looked at the slowly chewing female, before deciding to take a little action of his own. The small booklet he'd been given on silurians was no Haynes manual, but it detailed the basics of behaviour. The correct response, if he wanted to encourage her, was to ignore the theft, and if she committed a second, then to take action.
Sure enough, her tongue snaked out again, this time nabbing a hash brown.
He simply acted.
Without standing up, he bundled her off of the bench, using his training and slightly superior weight to press her into one of the brightly coloured rugs Vastra seemed to favour, before wrestling with her, trying to gain actual dominance. Normally, he would have done nothing of the sort, but Silurian courtship rituals were very primitive, in some ways.
Eventually, she was pinned, with her hands looped through a pair of disposable restraints, which were cinched snugly enough she couldn't extract herself from them, before he simply slung her over a shoulder, and hauled her upstairs to demonstrate that she had made a wise selection.
Clara woke up as the water cooled slightly.
The first thing that she noticed was that she felt clean, comfortable and relaxed.
The second was, of course, Vastra, tucking into one of the little sweetmeats she carried around with her with surprising delicacy.
"Hey." She suddenly said. "Would you mind turning your back, and not looking in the mirror?"
"What's in it for me?" Vastra asked, her tone taking on the mock seriousness that she was slowly learning to interpret as teasing.
"Breakfast." Clara replied, grinning slightly.
The Silurian simply placed a towel over her head, before passing Clara a bathrobe, which proved to have three features: automatic wicking, keeping the fabric dry and moving the moisture away from her body. There was also a warming system rigged, warming the robe until it felt like it had just come out of the airing cupboard and was toasty warm. It also featured a small device that kept the robe closed at the top, as well as around the middle.
Marching through to the bedroom she was somehow willing to share with the Silurian, Clara reached under her pillow, immediately finding the filmy chemise the Silurian had left underneath it.
"Vastra!" She yelled. "Get in here."
The Silurian scuttled through the door, having the grace to least pretend to be embarrassed by the discovery.
"What part of 'I am not into that sort of thing' was causing you confusion?" She barked, waving the chemise as if it were a particularly poor essay on Shakespeare.
"I thought it might be more comfortable than your current dress." Vastra lied, meeting Clara's eyes the whole way through the statement.
Then Clara's hands found another item under her pillow. Glaring, she pulled out the same leather collar Vastra had placed around her neck. On it, she noticed, was a small plaque. She brandished it at Vastra.
"Clara Oswald, Paternoster Row, London 5783." The Silurian read. "Is any of the information wrong?" She asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
"I am not a pet." She hissed. "Putting my name and your phone number on a collar, and securing it around my neck, is demeaning as hell."
"I was worried about you." Vastra almost keened. "I had it ordered to make sure you'd have something with your name on it. The nameplate is sterling silver, as is everything except the buckle. Even the leather costs 5/- a foot."
Clara looked at Vastra, seemingly surprised. "What exactly would happen if you tried to put a collar on Jenny?" She asked.
"She has about eight." Vastra replied. "There's one which is for attachments, and another with studs. She also has a copper one we brought last year, with a little plaque on it."
"It's not that I don't think that it was a really nice gift." Clara said, finding the sentiment genuine. "It isn't just girls I'm not into. It's also bondage that I'm not keen on. I got given that 50 Shades book in the secret Santa thing. Eugh."
Grinning slightly, she extracted her preferred nightdress, before turning her back and clambering into it quickly, checking the Silurian's line of sight did not include her, even via a mirror. It wasn't so much that the Silurian's face was one she considered untrustworthy, she just knew what she could trust her to be doing. Like peeking.
Vastra had also changed, clambering into the nightdress Clara had brought for her just a few short days earlier. Reluctantly, she'd admitted to herself that it was warmer, more comfortable and better fitting than her previous dress. All it needed was a few days with Jenny, and it would smell as good.
Then the Silurian curled up against Clara, capturing her slightly within her body, drinking in as much warmth as possible. She even started snoring after a few moments of falling asleep, although the human was out for the count when her head touched the pillow.