Martin found Orlando on the wall top, watching the army and the fires coming closer. He had his chin resting in one hand, and raised the other in absent greeting. "Hey," Martin said softly, not wanting to break the tentative quiet. "Are you ready?"

"For the end of the world?" Orlando asked absently. "Or to die?"

"To die," he answered.

Orlando sighed. "No."

"No, me neither." Martin touched his shoulder. "There's something that could make me readier, though..."

"Shut up and kiss me," Orlando sighed.

Martin leaned in and pressed his lips to Orlando's. The other man turned towards him and gripped his shoulder, then slid his hand to his neck and held it in place. His lips parted at the first stroke of Martin's tongue, and one of them gasped, Martin thought it was him. The second one was Orlando, though. He pulled back and stroked his fingers down Orlando's cheek, feeling rough bristles that they'd not had a chance to deal with yet. It was new and different, and all he could imagine. "Now I'm ready."

Orlando smiled and turned his face into Martin's hand. "I'll be offended if you do, though."

"Noted. Now," he dropped his hand to his gun. "Let's find a suitable spot."


The front wall was defended by gun emplacements every quarter of the way along. Guards crouched below the wall checking and rechecking their guns, ready to repel grapels if they had to. None of the soldiers defending the fort had ever been part of a pitched swordfight, and they awaited it with a mix of trepidation and excitement. The machine guns should have been enough to ensure that they wouldn't have to fight, but the weight of numbers they could hear and almost feel coming meant that nothing was certain.

Rick dropped next to them with an extra crate of ammunition and looked between them. "Oh, you finally got it together. Did you find a quiet corner?"

Martin flicked him the finger and pulled out a box of cartridges. "You owe Jack £10, I think."

"No, Jack owes him," Orlando corrected. "He owes Ianto, though."

"Oh, of course Ianto would be right," Martin scoffed. He pulled out another box and checked it. "You're on the .5s, aren't you?"

"Yeah, I am. Pass it here." Orlando held his hand out for it and opened his bag to pack the box in. "Ready, Rick?"

"Not at all." He closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the rock. "But ready as I'll ever be."


The army filled the gorge in front of them, and Rick wished for a massive explosive charge to bring the walls down on them. Unfortunately, the gorge was an area of outstanding natural beauty, and Kiron has told him that he wasn't allowed to blow it up under any circumstances. He'd sulked for a while, to take his mind off the oncoming battle.

But now it was here, and the army bellowed and crashed their swords on their shields, using the spectacular acoustics to their advantage. The UNIT troops looked back unimpressed, but the local people, waiting on the walls of the keep, stirred uncomfortably and muttered amongst themselves. Rick leaned forwards on the wall, hating the wait. "I want to shoot something."

It started soon enough, and he missed the wait.

When he looked back on it, he'd could only remember flashes, moments of horror in the nightmare that was that night. The stray shot from a nervous local soldier that started it, the glancing blow that caught Martin and Orlando kicking the attacker off the top of the wall, the bomb that even Orlando's sharp shooting couldn't stop them planting that blew a crack in the wall, the battering ram that broke the door, clearing the bridge with Martin and being rescued, Brian standing in the gap blown in the wall and holding them back, then falling before their onslaught. They'd fallen back to the keep when he finally got the chance to contemplate what had happened, whilst the invading army hammered on the doors and hurled missiles at the walls.

Orlando squeezed his shoulder and offered him a bottle of water. "Still with us?" he asked.

"Still with you," he confirmed, accepting the water. "How's Martin?"

"Grumpy." Orlando smiled and gestured over his shoulder. "A few of us are going topside to get a look. You coming?"

"Yeah, definitely. Not going up there without you, though. You're bloody good."

He gave a lopsided grin and offered his hand to pull Rick to his feet. A group of them, including Kiron's bodyguard, hurried up the stairs and opened the door onto the roof, creeping to the edge as low as they could. Arrows, actual arrows, rattled off the roof around them, and someone laughed nervously.

Rick ignored them and crawled to a low section of the wall where he could see out over the gorge. The sun was rising, revealing the tightly packed army who were still swarming in and, just on the horizon, a glint of chrome. He grinned wolfishly and pulled back. "Get the bikes. We're riding out."

The doors were opened for them and, as the Okrani pushed into the room they pushed out, driving through them with machine guns and swords. Out onto the bridge and down into the gorge, they drove through them, pushing them ahead of themselves, towards the Doctor and Adrastos. Into the middle of the mêlée danced specks of light and shadow, which caused more fear than the visible attack. Rocks flew and lightning crashed, and it was over surprisingly fast.

Rick met the Doctor in the middle and threw himself off his bike to hug him in greeting. "You have the most perfect timing... your reputation does not do you justice."

"Well," the Doctor smiled. "I had help. Now..." he looked around himself and then up, to a glimmer of light on the edge of the gorge that winked out as soon as he saw it. "Now it begins."