Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, The Doctor (10), OFC, OMCs, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton, Johnson
Disclaimer: Neither Torchwood or Doctor Who are mine
Summary: In the Citadel of the Time Lords, about 250 million light years away from Earth, a number of elements were protected in case they fell into the wrong hands. If an exhibit was deemed to be powerful enough to corrupt in the wrong hands it was usually destroyed, or if that was found to be impossible, it was split into segments and kept apart from itself in case it were stolen.
Spoilers: Children of Earth
A/N: This is a sequel to Doctor Who’s End Game. The Whole thing starts with Doctor Who and the Cathedral of Light.
He felt the machine move against his very thoughts. He felt himself carried along as it accelerated around him. His mind and body were a part of it, not a separate entity as he accelerated with the machinery. He moved fast; no not fast, as fast was just costing, involving no energy. He felt as if he were speeding, flying; he felt as it he was travelling in a void.
‘Well,’ he thought, ‘in a perfect, frictionless universe time travel would involve no use of energy. Newton had said that and he was a genius.’ He mused. Acceleration that was the thing, that was the key to time travel. It was the rush of air; the desperate gulp as the wind snatched the breath out of your mouth. It was in the dizziness in your head as you fought the wind for your breath back.
Then there was that moment. That rhythmic moment when it all faded, the drudgery, the hopeless inevitable ordinariness all faded. Then he was moving faster and faster at one with the speed. He was the speed. He was acceleration. He was a law of physics, an equation. No body, no physical being, just a set of intrinsically meaningless mathematical symbols.
Meaningless because the only sense came from the relationship between the symbols, the shape they made when they were mapped on to the four-dimensional universe. Because he was a Time Lord he knew that he could change the shape of the equation, the relationship between the symbols and in doing so the result of the equation.
Outside, the world rushed by in lives that were lived and controlled by the law of time, but in the machine it was the world that moved, not the machine. While sitting in a carriage with Einstein he had heard him ask the conductor, ‘When does Oxford Station arrive at this train?’ He smiled as he continued on into the abyss, filled with wonderment and fascination. ‘If nothing else,’ he thought, ‘it will be interesting.’
He travelled in continuous pursuit like a spawning fish climbing waters that could dash him to death without the protection of the machine, known as TARDIS, to break the water in front of him. The further he went back in time the more it seemed that he was treading, not amongst the echoes of the world, but time itself.
He sat back, trying to relax, and watched as time passed all around him. As he gazed out of the view monitor the passing of time was mostly represented by a coloured blur, but on occasion he could make out images as his conscious thought patterns picked out single freeze-frames of action. It reminded him of watching a passing train, which looked like a single blur, then moving his head to follow it, caught and focused on a segment, until his head stopped and the picture returned to an out of focus image.
He did not grieve not knowing whether his life would last a day or an hour. He did not wonder who made him, or wish or pray, or hope. He only was and was and was again. That, for him was the joy of it all. Somewhere along the way, as he travelled amongst the clouds of his mind and the fish of his thoughts, he eventually lost sight of the colours in front of him. One minute they were there and the next they just slipped away and were gone. He was vaguely aware of its departure, but nothing in his mind could comprehend what was happening and focusing on the external was lost as he tried to cling onto the internal. Then, just as fast as it had all started, it ended as the machine materialised.
The scared blue wood-like doors, at the entrance, opened easily as he pushed on through. Looking upward, horizontal threads of clouds were growing a fiercer red against the still grey sky. As he looked on, the streaks intensified to scarlet, orange and gold until the whole sky was a breathtaking sound of music and colour. He had always loved sunrise and always felt renewed in spirit, feeling cheated if he ever slept through dawn. The glittering ball of fire rimmed over the horizon and hurt his eyes as he continued to look on. The brilliant streaks of cloud eventually flattened to grey as the bright light lit a shimmering pathway across the surface of the land
He let the doors close behind him, then looking up noticed that it had started to rain heavily. Pulling the collar of his raincoat up to cover the back of his neck, he smiled as the rain water ran down his face, dripping off his nose. He loved weather, especially Earth’s weather, so unpredictable. It made the dawn seem to deepen as the sun shone bright in the sky.
Turning his head to one side, tears ran freely down his face, mingling and getting lost in the rain as he headed off down the road. He was the Doctor and he couldn’t heal himself of the pain of lose he always felt with humans. No other race affected him like they did. No one could burrow their way into his hearts like a human being. With self sacrifice and unconditional love, the human race would fight and die for what they believed in. It always amazed him what others would do, strangers would do for each other.
Ahead he noticed two men barring his path, both looking at him through the sheets of rain that engulfed them. And, he thought, there was none more strange than the two men that stood before him. One was dressed in a smart three piece suit, red tie and black rain coat, while the other, in contrast, wore a blue air force great coat, with captain’s flashes on each shoulder.
‘Fancy a drink?’ the suited man asked the air force captain, who shook his head,
‘Look at the mess we ended up in the last time we all had a drink together.’ Jack, the air force captain, smiled and said, ‘Did I tell you that I’ve joined Alcoholics Unanimous?’
‘You mean Anonymous,’ Ianto, the suit wearing individual added as they waited for the Doctor.
‘No Unanimous,’ Jack corrected. ‘If you don’t want a drink, you ring them up and they talk you into having one.’ The Doctor winced as they joined forces and continued down the rain covered street, each walking abreast of the others.
‘How you feeling?’ Jack asked, matching the Doctor’s purposeful stride.
‘I’m lonely. I’ve seen happiness in companionship and I’ve lost it yet again,’ the Doctor said to no one in particular.
‘There are worse things in life than being lonely,’ Jack added, as if with authority, surprised at the Doctor’s candour.
‘Like what?’ the Doctor asked stopping to look at his friend.
‘I was afraid you’d ask that,’ Jack said as he turned and continued to walk.
‘You know Jack, I think life is a joke of God and there is no justice but I think you must learn to laugh or else you’ll just end up crying yourself to death.’ All three stopped and looked at each other this time, then burst out laughing,
‘So…’ Jack asked, ‘how are you supposed to get through it then?’ Knowing he had just as many problems as the Doctor had.
‘Rassilon once said, it’s the driving force within us that helps us get through the day, and I believe him.’
‘Yes but what if you don’t have that kind of driving force?’ Jack asked as they walked, as the rain finally let up.
‘He also said that it’s not necessary to speculate about the driving force. It leaps out and reveals itself when we least expect it. Under pressure it can’t be hidden. Which, as far as I could gather, meant that when you really come up against it you’d find out then?’ Jack looked mystified as he tried to understand what the Doctor was talking about.
‘That might be too late,’ Ianto said, just managing to follow the thread of conversation.
‘It well could be but by then you’ll not care one way or the other.’ The Doctor smiled, knowing that he was winding them up. ‘He also said that no death, or accident, or act of violence has the power of absolute annihilation because our bodies are just the suits we wear, and we are so much more than that. Figure that one out if you can.’
‘That sounds helpful,’ Jack said still looking unsure of himself. ‘Can I just say one last thing and then can we change the subject? It’s starting to get a little morbid.’
‘Go ahead old boy. Knock yourself out.’ Jack turned to look at the Doctor, wondering if he was being flippant but in the rainy mist, couldn’t detect a smile.
‘I’ve known you a long time and if there’s one thing that I know for certain it’s that you will prevail against all odds. You always have. This stretch of your journey happens to be the hardest, but don’t let it get to you. There are better roads’ ahead, I promise.’
The Doctor stopped and gazing at Jack was just about to say something when a black BMW pulled up at the curb next to them. The UNIT flag that hung from a small aerial mounted on the wing drooped and fluttered in the wind. A tall figure, in a bright red coat, black belt and matching trousers, sporting a false white beard, slid out of the back seat and, donning his red cap with white trim, looked at the three dripping men before him and smiled.
‘Brigadier!’ the Doctor exclaimed, extending his right hand. Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart took the Doctor’s outstretched hand in both of his and shook it warmly.
‘Good to see you Doctor.’
‘For a minute there I thought it was Father Christmas,’ Ianto whispered to Jack, trying to keep a straight face.
‘Shaking hands with Father Time,’ Jack added with a smirk.
Looking at the Doctor’s two companions the Brigadier nodded. ‘Jack, Ianto, how are you… err… how is everything…?’ Jack smiled at the Brigadier’s nervousness when talking about Ianto and his relationship.
‘Brigadier… great to see you; give me a hug… come on… you know you want to.’ Jack extended his arms as Ianto whispered in his ear.
‘Whatever you do don’t say that you want to see the contents of his sack.’ Jack looked at Ianto with mock shock, as if it was the last thing on his mind. Despite this the Brigadier ignored them choosing to address the Doctor instead.
‘Regimental Sergeant Major Benton will be joining us shortly. Has a few things to sort out first. The Sunderland branch of UNIT is being audited by a big wig in Whitehall… some hero of the cold war… wants to check we’re using the budget in the right way.’ The Doctor nodded as the three became four.
‘I take it Benton’s acting as one of your helpers,’ Jack added as Ianto elbowed him in the ribs. Jack chose to ignore it and continued with his extrovert mood. ‘You know I’ve never had this much fun since the roaring thirties,’ Jack said with a smile.
‘Don’t you mean the roaring twenties,’ the Brigadier added, then seeing the trap too late immediately wished he hadn’t.
‘When I was around, believe me, the thirties roared,’ the last word was emphasised in a deep growl. Ianto shook his head as if embarrassed.
‘Anyway… it makes a change seeing you dressed this time. Finally found a reason to keep your clothes on?’ The Brigadier added without a change in his facial expression.
‘It wasn’t that long ago I saw you naked in a Sontaran cell.’ The Brigadier hid his reddening cheeks behind the false beard as he remembered the incident. Five old UNIT operatives had been kidnapped by the Sontarans to fight their war against the Rutan Host and had been cloned into younger versions of themselves. Only the Brigadier and Benton still survived but only as long as they kept their wrist bracelets charged. They inhibited cell death and kept them looking young and fit, despite the fact that the Brigadier was an eighty year old man.
The group continued walking; the Brigadier’s red costume was the only dry one amongst them. Turning a corner the group passed through the metal gates of an old grave yard that had seen generations pass through before them. They headed up the pathway towards a particular grave, looking as if they had taken a wrong turn whilst looking for a fancy dress party.
The funeral service was as bleak as any funeral could be. The mourners consisted of a mixture of those that were getting something from the deceased’s passing and those that weren’t. The smiles and the looks of utter desperation and loss depicted the group they were aligned with.
The sun shone brightly now at the graveside, as the rain held off long enough for the coffin to be lowered. Family and friends threw roses and carnations into the gaping hole in the earth, again showing respect for the deceased’s love of a particular flower or just a need to throw the most expensive one.
The green imitation grass kept the recently exhumed earth from dirtying anyone’s shoes, as the last loved one shed a tear and finally left. The sleek black limousines pulled away along the narrow footpath and left as quietly as they had come. As the gravediggers looked on, only the group of four strangers, walked forward, heads bowed in respect, left solemnly standing over the grave.
Looking out of place in the Santa costume, the Brigadier looked at the grave digger and nodded.
‘Right… get it up.’ As the coffin was pulled again to the surface they were joined by two others who gazed at the coffin with expectation.
‘Who’s the funeral for then?’ the female asked, her right leg encased in a plaster cast and a walking stick clasped in her right hand. Louise Ruth looked at Sergeant Benton, who was supporting her uninjured side as she stood by the grave.
‘Not sure… but the Doc’ thinks it has something to do with the Rani.’
Louise Ruth closed her eyes and remembered that night in the Angel public house when the Rani had used wolf-men to try and kill her. She shivered as she recalled the pain and injuries she’d suffered when finally killing the Rani’s genetically modified monsters, more out of luck than good management.
After knocking the Rani out with a single blow to her jaw she had dragged her own bleeding body the length of the women’s toilet just as Jack and Ianto opened the door. After firing six bullets into the Rani, Jack had pulled her free as the Doctor froze her control consol with a burst of sonic energy sending the Rani spinning off into a time loop that should keep her busy for the next millennium.
Following the near fatal injuries she’d sustained, Louise Ruth had spent the next two months in hospital recovering; the first two weeks of which were in intensive care. Apart from a few lacerations caused by the she-wolf’s claws her right kneecap had been dislocated, hence the plaster, and she’d lost a considerable amount of blood.
As the two grave diggers lowered the coffin onto the sodden earth the Doctor knelt beside it and played the sonic screwdriver over the lid.
Seeing the Brigadier for the first time, Louise Ruth exclaimed, ‘Bloody hell… it’s Santa.’ Realising he was still wearing the beard, the Brigadier removed it and placed it in one of the giant, fur rimmed pockets.
‘When’s the plaster coming off?’ Ianto whispered to Louise Ruth, his gaze fixed on the coffin before him.
‘Tomorrow if I’m lucky; which means no more antibiotics; no more painkillers and hello the Angel?’ Ianto looked at her sideways.
‘You’d still go back there… I mean… after what happened?’ Louise Ruth faked a serious look and nodded.
‘The Rani’s death squads are one thing, but a good pint is a good pint.’ She thought for a moment then added, ‘having said that I won’t be using the ladies anyway. The Rani’s TARDIS caused some kind of mini perception filter, which means no one knows where it is anymore. The owner changed the men’s to the women’s and built another stall outside next to the beer garden with the compensation he got from UNIT.’
Ianto nodded, stunned at the way people took things in their stride. Aliens could land and take over the government and the populace wouldn’t mind as long as Big Brother still showed every year and no one interrupted their purchase of lottery tickets.
The Doctor shook his head and turned off the sonic screwdriver unable to open the casket. ‘Hey Doctor… who’s the stiff in the box?’ The Doctor stood and gazed at Louise Ruth with a look of mock annoyance.
‘Who’s the stiff in the box… what kind of talk is that? Where’s the respect… the reverence… the appreciation for a life that was once lived to the full.’
Turning, the Doctor ran towards the coffin and kicked it as hard as he could. All present heard a loud crack as the lid to the coffin was finally released. Slowly the Doctor moved backward, limping slightly on his right leg.
Jack bent forward and slowly, slid the lid over the top of the casket. Gazing down into the depths of the coffin they all gasped in surprise. The body, or what remained of it, was disintegrating before their eyes. Smoke bellowed up from the coffin’s silk-lined depths and just as quickly dissipated in the slight December breeze.
As the smoke eventually cleared from inside the coffin all that was left was a black horn-shaped stone, which lay on the silk pillow like a royal offering. The Doctor advanced on the coffin and cautiously knelt before it and reaching inside picked up the stone. Playing the sonic screwdriver across the black horn, the Doctor’s smile left his face as recognition hit him like a runaway truck.
‘No, no, no… this can’t be right. No.’ Standing he turned to the rest of the group and showed them the stone.
‘What is it Doctor?’ the Brigadier asked, continuing to look out of place in his red suit.
‘It’s what is known as Vainglorious Jet, the remnants of a world that no longer exists.’ As the Doctor turned the horn-shaped stone over in his hands his eyes redden and filled with tears. A long forgotten memory of a dead planet still held power over him.
The vapour that had filled the coffin still wafted through the air looking, searching for a host to alight on, to take over and control. The group surrounding the gravesite, like all the rest before them, had made the fatal assumption that vapour couldn’t be sentient.
Finding the mouth and nostrils of two men it let itself be inhaled deep into the lungs of its next victims. It wasn’t long before it passed through the alveoli in the lungs directly into the blood stream heading straight for the heart.
Passing through the powerful pump the vapour headed out of the heart through the Aorta directly to the brain. Once there, it began taking over the host, controlling it bending it to its will. The vapour knew that it had only one shot at this and once the host died it to would die. That was why it had split into two taking two men instead of putting all its eggs into one host so to speak.
Slowly but surely the life force that had inhabited the brain previously, was snuffed out, destroyed and sent back to its maker without a wave goodbye. The vapour felt the strength of the body it had filled and the cool breeze on its face was refreshing. It was a pity it had to kill; it would have enjoyed exploring the parameters of the body first before beginning to take over more lives.
Looking at the group before him the Doctor couldn’t understand why Benton and Ianto were staring at him. The Brigadier was busy trying to make a phone call on his mobile phone and Louise Ruth was scratching her leg where the plaster cast rubbed against her.
Taking an involuntary step backward the Doctor noticed Jack, from the corner of his eye, raise his Webley towards him. Benton removed a pistol from inside his jacket and even Ianto pulled out a gun.
Not sure what was happening, the Doctor decided that throwing himself into the grave was probably not a good move. Rolling to one side, just in time, both Jack and Benton fired, emptying their pistols. The sound of Jack’s six shots ended first but Benton’s Glock 17 unleashed a barraged of nineteen 9mm Parabellum rounds, with its extended magazine, which powered past the Doctor’s head in a streak of heat that almost singed his hair.
Realising for the first time that they weren’t firing at him, the Doctor turned just as both grave diggers dropped their raised shovels and fell face down next to the grave they had previously dug. Ejecting the clip Benton fed in a second clip and covering the bodies, waited to see if the grave diggers moved.
‘Did you have to kill them?’ the Doctor asked almost incensed, emphasising the word ‘have’ in a long, drawn out voice.
Walking towards the bodies, Louise Ruth said, ‘Careful Doctor, I think one of them is still moving.’ Looking down at the two bodies ripped open by Jack and Benton’s pistols, the Doctor shook his head.
‘Somehow I don’t think they’ll be moving ever again.’ Turning towards Benton the Brigadier threw him the mobile.
‘Sergeant Benton… holster that firearm, get headquarters on that phone thing will you and have this area cordoned off. I want a perimeter around this building and everyone detained that’s still inside.’ Benton nodded and turning smiled as he used the mobile phone. At eighty years of age the Brigadier found new technology a little mystifying to say the least.
The Doctor stood and shook his head, a look of sadness still showing in his eyes. ‘The two grave diggers had been inhabited by a race known as the Mesorite. They’re from a planet which was located in the constellation of Kasterborous.’
‘What kind of beings are they Doctor?’ Jack asked as he gazed down at his and Benton’s handy work.
‘They were a race of people that evolved into one entity, for survival, when their planet was destroyed. As far as I was aware, the Mesorite were annihilated by the Daleks in the Time War. They must have been the last of their species.’ Jack’s face looked sombre as he continued to question the Doctor.
‘What were they doing in a coffin, in a graveyard, in Seaham Harbour, of all places?’
The Doctor shrugged. ‘They can only inhabit living tissue. When the host’s body they select dies, they die with it. They were probably there to protect the Vainglorious Jet from being taken.’ The Doctor thought for a while then added, ‘Or perhaps their remit, so to speak, was to inhabit any living creature that tried to get the horn and use the bodies to kill anyone else in the vicinity.’
‘I have two questions… first, what is the significance of the jet horn that it needs to be protected by two homicidal maniacs, and second, how did we know to come here in the first place to get it?’ The Doctor smiled and nodded towards the Brigadier.
‘I’ll answer the first and perhaps the Brigadier can fill us in on the second as he was the one that invited us here.’ Jack nodded and replaced his empty Webley into its holster as he did so.
‘The jet horn is a rock normally found on the planet Gallifrey, which is also in the constellation of Kasterborous, at galactic coordinates ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two from galactic zero centre, before it was destroyed. In the Citadel of the Time Lords, about 250 million light years away from Earth, a number of elements were protected in case they fell into the wrong hands. If an exhibit was deemed to be powerful enough to corrupt in the wrong hands it was usually destroyed, or if that was found to be impossible, it was split into segments and kept apart from itself in case it were stolen.’
‘And this little item was one that was split up so it wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands?’ Jack asked staring down at the black horn as he reached out to touch it. The Doctor nodded.
‘It was once the Arcadian Star. Put all five pieces of it back together, placing it around your neck and the very fabric of time and space must bend to your will. One thought and an entire solar system would disappear from time, never to have existed.’
‘Wow,’ Jack said as he retrieved his hand as if it had touched something hot. The others gathered around to stare at the jet horn in wonderment.
‘The Master spent hundreds of years and two regenerations trying to get his hands on it but failed because of the containment field it was housed in, built into the very dome of the Time Lords. Now… the dome no longer exists and the field was destroyed with the planet. The Rani must have spent the last forty years collecting the points and has hid them somewhere… waiting until the time came when she would needed them.’ Louise Ruth looked mystified.
‘Why weren’t they destroyed along with the plant?’
‘Indestructible I’m afraid, hence the containment filed.’
‘So… all we have to do is search for them and stop them from falling into the wrong hands… wouldn’t they be better off left where they are… I mean if they’re split up then they can’t work?’ The Doctor again shook his head.
‘Sorry, not as easy as that.’
‘I didn’t think it would be somehow.’
‘Each segment has a specific power of its own, but only for the person that holds it. Some can give invisibility whereas another can extend life and each has the ability to transport the owner forward or backward in time.’
‘Please don’t tell me that the segments are in different times?’ Jack asked, realising that a once doable plan had now wandered into the realms of impossibility. The Doctor nodded as he gazed down at the jet horn.
‘Why didn’t she just keep the points together; why split them up?’ Jack asked as he tried to follow the Rani’s thoughts and motivations.
‘Complete, the star has so much power, it would give off a signature that I’d know about and perhaps come looking for. She wanted me out of the way long before she brought the parts together. She’d learned from the Master’s previous failures never to underestimate me; after all… I am brilliant you know.’
Louise Ruth shook her head as she turned towards the Brigadier, who still looked comical to her in the red suit despite the gravity of the situation. She could see in his eyes that he was a little put out that no one had asked him why he was wearing suit and no one would, she knew. A running joke, she realised was not to be messed with.
‘Well Brigadier… why are we here?’ Pulling out a notebook, the Brigadier studied it for a moment.
‘With the help of the Doctor’s TARDIS we’ve managed to track down a number of locations in history where the Rani’s TARDIS travelled to over the past forty years and thankfully there are only seven of them, and surprise, surprise, they’re all on Earth.’ The Brigadier removed a sheet of paper from the note pad and looked at it. ‘Right… I’ve made a list of all the locations, this being one of them.’
‘Did you check it twice?’ Jack asked as they all burst out laughing. ‘Sorry Brigadier… I couldn’t help that one.’ Jack could see that the Brigadier could contain himself any longer.
‘Look, I visit a local hospital every year dressed as Father Christmas. I’ve been doing it since I first retired, long before the Sontaran nonsense. I give out presents to the orphans of UNIT operatives that have died in the field… and there are a lot of them.’ Jack held up his hands in apology.
‘At first we only wanted the locations to try and find out what she was up to but, now we’ve found part of the star, it’s fairly obvious what she had in mind,’ the Doctor said.
‘So, basically, we need to find the rest of the star’s points so no one else can get hold of them,’ Jack added as a few droplets of rain struck the shoulders of his air force great coat.
Not able to help himself, Ianto turned to Louise Ruth and said with a mischievous smile said, ‘Looks like rain… dear.’
‘Right… that’s it; back at UNIT headquarters in Sunderland by tomorrow afternoon to formulate a plan if the Whitehall big wig hasn’t shut us down by then.’ Turning the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton headed back towards the UNIT BMW.
The Gathering of Intel 2/16