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Doctor Who and the Star of Arcadia – The Ethereal Gwyneth 14/16

Title: Doctor Who and the Star of Arcadia – The Ethereal Gwyneth 14/16
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, The Doctor (10), OFC, OMCs, Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Benton, Johnson
Pairings: Jack/Ianto
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
Rating: PG-13
A/N: This is a sequel to Doctor Who’s End Game. The Whole thing starts with Doctor Who and the Cathedral of Light.

Prologue here

Jack waited for the sound of the horse they called Samson, out on the snow covered cobbles, then opening the front door watched as they drove away in their search for the recently departed Mrs Redpath.

The ground was covered in white with braziers burning on every street corner. Men with hands extended for warmth looked dishevelled and poor in their Victorian garb. Horse and carriages thundered periodically by and old ladies beckoned them forward in the hope of selling their wears on this cold uninviting Christmas Eve. Men sporting top hats wandered the streets clutching at thick woollen overcoats for warmth while ignoring others in shirt sleeves who begged for money.

‘It looks like a Christmas card.’ Ianto said as he looked over Jack’s shoulder with a smile.

‘Did you see the girl called Gwyneth?’ Jack asked as he turned towards his friend.

‘Yes… she’s the spitting image of Gwen. You don’t think it is her…? I mean sent by another Torchwood perhaps.’ Jack shook his head.

‘Gwen’s too busy raising their new baby to worry about time travel or extra terrestrials. Besides, there’s no way Rhys would let her. No, she’s something else… a relative perhaps. This is Cardiff.’ Ianto nodded, but knew that there was more to this than the girl being a relative. The likeness was too great.

‘I wonder if she’s as overbearing and controlling as Gwen… I mean you travel in time hopefully to get away from it all and you bump right into…’ Jack’s smile cut Ianto off as they both thought about the team of five they’d once been.

‘You two are a match made somewhere really scary if you think this is fun. We’ve got murdered people in the parlour and the dead walking around as if they’ve left the oven on,’ Louise Ruth said, walking in between them.

Jack closed the door and turned to look at his two companions. ‘Louise Ruth’s right, we need to step up our game. The Rani’s here and she’s tampering with the rift.’

Walking back to the parlour they all heard a whispering noise, which filled the air. As they entered the room the door slammed shut behind them and, as if on cue, blue smoke emanated from the gas light next to where Jack was standing. All went quiet in the room as they watched the probing tendrils pass round Jack’s head then move off towards the body of the young Redpath.

Ianto noticed the corpse for the first time and moved away from it as the blue light descended on the body entering through his mouth, nose and ears. Backing up against the wall, Ianto removed his stun gun and held it out in front of him. Louise Ruth, all joking aside, stood next to him as Jack removed his Webley.

‘The door, Ianto, get the door,’ Jack said as he stood between his two friends and the body of Redpath.

Trying the handle, Ianto found that it was locked. Despite this he continued to tug violently as the now reanimated corpse sat up in its coffin and looked across at him as if accusing him of his previous indiscretion with his grandmother.

‘Jack… he’s looking at me Jack… tell him I didn’t mean to touch his grandma.’ Ianto pulled at the door handle as if his life depended on it, which it probably did.

Groped his grandma. Tell him Ianto didn’t mean to grope his grandma,’ Louise Ruth said with a grin emphasising the word grope. Redpath stepped out of the coffin and headed towards Ianto, both arms outstretched.

‘I think he heard you,’ Jack said as he fired three rounds into his chest which staggered Redpath backward, but that was all. With renewed vigour the corpse walked passed Jack and reached out for Ianto.

Pushing Ianto to one side, Louise Ruth turned to face the door and, lifting her good leg, slammed her foot against the wood just below the lock. The door shot open without splintering it and slammed against the wall opposite. Looking at Jack, Louise Ruth smiled. ‘Are you joining us flyboy?’

Pushing Redpath out of the way Jack followed Ianto and Louise Ruth out into the hallway as Louise Ruth slammed the door closed after her. The lock forced its way back into the wood and held fast, blocking Redpath's advance. Jack replaced the Webley and looked at Ianto who was still shaken.

‘Ianto, you check the rooms up here for any sign of the Rani or her necklace. Louise Ruth you stick with Ianto and I’ll check the basement.’ Ianto nodded as they headed off towards an open door at the end of the hall. Jack took the stairs two at a time, knowing that time was pressing. The Doctor had told them that the house blew up that night and he didn’t want to be in it when it did.

When he reached the bottom of the steps he realised that Sneed had converted the basement into a morgue. Looking around the room he noticed a number of white sheeted bodies toe tagged for identification, which adorned the tables, surrounded by surgical instruments that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a joiner’s shed. The room was eerily lit by gas light which turned down, still flickered, sending ghostly shadows dancing around the walls.

‘Better keep Ianto out of this place,’ Jack said as he walked between the tables. He knew what he had to do but doing it still made him feel uneasy. Pulling the first sheet back he came face to face with an old man dressed in a white night gown. He had a long unkempt grey beard and matching hair. Looking round the room he held his Webley by the barrel and was ready to slam in into the corpse’s head if it twitched in the slightest.

***


Despite her earlier meeting with the corpse of Redpath, Louise Ruth was in a jubilant mood. The last part of the Arcadian star was in their grasp and that would mean an end to the Rani’s influence on her life. On the negative side, she mused, the place was full of prospective zombies that wanted to kill her and make her one of them. But, she thought, as she gazed at Ianto’s behind as he bent over to look at a lower book case she’d said she couldn’t reach, things could be a lot worse.

After half an hour’s rummaging, both of them had come to the conclusion that the necklace wasn’t in the upstairs part of the building. Outside they heard the approach of a horse drawn carriage and knew that Sneed and Gwyneth had returned. Both Ianto and Louise Ruth looked at each other with shock as realisation came to them at the same time.

‘Redpath,’ they said in unison and turned to run back to the parlour. As cautiously as time would allow, Ianto shouldered the door open and gazed inside. Redpath was lying face down in front of the door where the blue gas had left him.

‘Right, you grab his legs and I’ll take his head and shoulders.’ Louise Ruth was about to protest when she realised that there was no other way to hide the fact that someone had been there. Gingerly she took Redpath by the ankles and, waiting for Ianto to take hold of the top half, lifted. Struggling they both dragged and carried his body towards the open coffin situated in the far corner of the room.

‘What do we do if he starts to move?’ Louise Ruth asked as she cautiously gave Redpath the once over.

Ianto smiled, ‘Drop the bastard and run like hell.’

Out of breath they managed to manhandle the body to the coffin, neither strong enough to lift him in by themselves. ‘Right, in the box,’ Ianto said as Louise Ruth burst out laughing. ‘What’s the matter?’ He asked as they both dropped Redpath into the wooden coffin.

Fawlty Towers reference.’ Ianto smiled as he adjusted Redpath’s clothing to hide the bullet wounds.

‘You mean “The Kipper and the Corpse”…? I loved that episode… when they put the dead man in the wardrobe with the old lady…’

‘That bit where he says to Manuel, “right, in the box,” and Manuel jumps in and tells Basil he likes it in there,’ Louise Ruth added as Ianto stifled a grin. Before he could say anymore the front door opened. Moving out into the hallway they ducked behind a set of floor to ceiling drapes just in time as two figures entered carrying a body between them like something from a French farce.

‘I think this shit is catching,’ Louise Ruth whispered to Ianto.

‘The poor girl’s still alive sir,’ Gwyneth said as they passed the drapes and headed into the parlour. She moved further into the room carrying the unconscious girl’s legs just as Louise Ruth had.

‘What we going to do with her?’ Gwyneth asked as her employer swung the body round. Slowly they lowered her onto a silk covered table. Looking across at the body of Redpath this new acquisition was no longer the only body in the room. Ianto had never met Rose Tyler but he’d seen enough pictures of her to be able to recognise her immediately.

‘We’ve got problems… that’s Rose… once a companion of the Doctor’s, which means…’

Louise Ruth finished his sentence for him. ‘The Doctor can’t be far behind.’ Peaking out from behind the drapes Ianto couldn’t believe the likeness between Gwyneth and Gwen.

‘I don’t know.’ Sneed emphasised the word I, stringing it out longer than usual. ‘I didn’t plan any of this did I? Is it my fault that the dead won’t stay dead?’

Letting go of the body Gwyneth backed away from Sneed as she looked down at his handy work. ‘Then whose fault is it sir?’ Gwyneth asked not sure what she should do. ‘Why is this happening to us?’

Turning she headed out of the room closely followed by a weary Sneed. As they left, Ianto noticed that the gas light began to flicker and expand as if the gas had been momentarily turned up. Then the door was closed behind Sneed as they headed into the dinning room, the place they’d searched earlier.

Realising that the Doctor would arrive at any minute to rescue Rose, both Ianto and Louise Ruth decided that getting Jack and leaving the house altogether was their best bet. As they passed the front door Ianto gave a start of surprise as the knocker was hammered twice. Running up the corridor they were just about to head off down to the basement when they heard Sneed and Gwyneth leave the dinning room. Ducking back behind the drapes Ianto dragged Louise Ruth with him and, taking a deep breath, held still.

‘I did the bishop a favour once.’ Sneed said as they walked passed then and headed down the corridor closely following Gwyneth, who was now dressed in apron and cloth cap. ‘Made his nephew look like a cherub even though he’d been a fortnight in the wear.’ A thought crossed his mind as he placed a single hand on Gwyneth’s shoulder and looked at her to emphasise the point. ‘Hey perhaps he’ll do us an exorcism on the cheap.’

Both were stopped in their tracks as they too heard the knocking sound coming from the front door. Placing a reassuring hand on Gwyneth’s shoulder, Sneed gazed wearily at the door with a worried look on his face. ‘Say I’m not in… tell them we’re closed… just get rid of them,’ he added as he turned and headed back down the corridor away from the front door and past Ianto and Louise Ruth’s hiding place.

As Gwyneth opened the front door she was confronted by two figures that were as different from each other as chalk and cheese. The first wore a top hat and sported a long, well kept beard and black cloak. He was instantly recognisable to Gwyneth as Charles Dickens. His poster was on every wall around the town. In contrast, Louise Ruth noticed, that the second man wore a black leather jacket and black tee shirt, which was as out of place in that time period as a car would have been.

‘I’m sorry sir we’re closed.’ Not in the mood to be put off the bearded man looked indignant.

‘Nonsense… since when did an undertaker keep office hours? The dead don’t die on schedule. I demand to see your master.’ With a smile Gwyneth tried to reassure the gentleman.

‘He’s not in sir.’ Without further prevarication she tried to slam the door shut. Standing his ground the Dickens thrust out his right hand to stop the door from closing.

‘Don’t lie to me child. Summon him at once.’

Trying to be as polite as she could she replied, ‘I’m awfully sorry Mr Dickens but the Master’s indisposed.’

Louise Ruth gave a sharp intake of breath as she realised who the bearded figure was. ‘It’s Charles Dickens,’ she said whispering in Ianto’s ear. Ianto nodded surprised that Dickens would have ventured all the way to Cardiff in the 1860s, especially on December the twenty fourth.

‘The other’s the Doctor… taller than I expected,’ Ianto added.

As Gwyneth finished the gas light behind her flared as if a surge of gas had just been pumped down the line.

‘Having trouble with your gas?’ The Doctor asked, with a strange look on his face. The hissing noise burst out into the hallway exciting Dickens’s curiosity.

‘What in Shakespeare is going on?’ he said, upset that a man of his standing had been left out on the stoop.

‘You’re not allowed inside sir,’ Gwyneth said as the Doctor pushed passed her.

‘There’s something inside the walls.’ Listening he could hear whispering noises as if from a room beyond. ‘The gas pipes… something’s living inside the gas.’

Hearing the scream of a woman he turned to Dickens, ‘That’s her,’ he said as he ran towards the parlour, closely followed by Dickens. Gwyneth rolled her eyes and wondered how her master was going to explain this one away.

‘Let me out,’ Rose’s voice screamed as the Doctor ran down the corridor to her rescue, neatly sidestepping the advancing Sneed.

‘How dare you sir… this is my house.’ Ignoring the man Dickens also pushed passed him in search of the screaming woman. As Gwyneth followed Sneed pointed at her accusingly. ‘I told you.’

Louise Ruth nudged Ianto in the ribs and smiling whispered, ‘Charles John Huffam Dickens just ran past me. You don’t see that sort of thing everyday do you? The Boz ran passed me.’

Ianto ignored her as Rose’s pleas became more frantic as she banged on the parlour door. Without ceremony the Doctor kicked in the door, noticing immediately that both corpses were standing behind Rose as one wrapped his arm around her face shutting off her screams. Removing Redpath’s cold arm from around her neck, he pulled Rose towards him.

‘I think this is my dance,’ he said as he dragged her clear. Dickens came up behind them and was aghast at what he saw. Despite the situation he found himself, disbelief and logic ruled his thoughts.

‘It’s a prank. It must be. We’re under some mesmeric influence.’

The Doctor shook his head not sure why Dickens refused to believe his own eyes. ‘No we’re not, the dead are walking.’ Turning to Rose the Doctor smiled, ‘Hi.’ With a look of relief on her face she smiled back.

‘Hi, who’s your friend?’

‘Charles Dickens,’ was his only replay.

‘OK,’ she said, willing to believe anything at this point. Turning the Doctor looked at Redpath sporting his usual smile.

‘My name’s the Doctor… who are you and what do you want?’

The corpse that had once been Redpath spoke. ‘Feeling… open the rift we’re dying.’

The corpse of the old lady spoke before the Doctor could replay. ‘Captain… this form cannot sustain. Help us.’ With that both recently deceased turned as it to look upward and screamed as their life force left their recently acquired bodies, in a blue light and returned to the gas lights causing the now less than animated dead to fall unceremoniously to the floor.

As Sneed and Gwyneth placed the bodies back in their coffins, the Doctor led a shaken Rose into the dining room where Gwyneth promised to make a pot of tea. Watching every move, Dickens finally followed Sneed into the dinning room still not convinced that the dead had walked.

Louise Ruth and Ianto were just about to walk out from behind the drapes when they heard footsteps coming up from the basement. They were just about to turn and run when Ianto remembered Jack. Smiling he greeted them both in hushed tones. Nodding he motioned them down to the basement where he promised they wouldn’t be disappointed. Entering the morgue Ianto felt a shiver run down his spine when he noticed the numbers of dead lying on slabs covered by white cotton sheets.

‘This way,’ Jack said, motioning them to follow. Passing under a wide archway they headed into an anti room which housed a marble table and sink. What surprised Louise Ruth and Ianto was what was on the marble table. They’d half expected a corpse of partially disembowelled body to be laying there ready to be embalmed, but instead they discovered a complex machine, the like of which Louise Ruth had never seen before.

‘What is it?’ she asked in a whispered tone that wasn’t necessary but matched the surroundings.

Ianto cut in recognising it immediately. ‘It’s a rift manipulator. The Rani’s been here and she’s using it to draw power to fix her TARDIS.’ Jack nodded as he examined the works. Flipping open the leather cover of the vortex manipulator, he checked the readings and shook his head.

‘It’s more than that… it’s creating the rift. Where once there wasn’t a rift… there now is, and it’s opening it fast. We’ve got to stop this before it changes history altogether.’ Pulling a series of wires from the back of the machine, Jack fitted them into the side of his wrist manipulator. Removing it from his wrist he passed it to Ianto. ‘Keep an eye on those numbers and unplug it when the reading light turns red.’

Ianto took the manipulator and gazed down at the reading light. Nodding he looked up at Jack. ‘Will that stop the rift being opened?’

Jack shook his head as the green light turned yellow. ‘What it will do is create a time field that should send the next person to touch it forward into the future, without the use of her TARDIS.’

Louise Ruth nodded then smiled. ‘Without her TARDIS she’d be stranded and unable to get her hands on the star.’

Jack nodded then turning headed for the stairs. ‘Stay here with Ianto. I’ll give the upstairs the once over and see if I can find any trace of her or her necklace… or at least a clue to where she’s gone.’ Ianto was just about to say that his search would be fruitless when Jack turned and ran up the stairs. The yellow light turned blue as whisperings and moaning filled the room they were in, causing Ianto to gaze around with a worried look on his face.

‘Is it me… or am I worried for nothing… I mean he’s just left us in a morgue, in the dark, with a number of dead bodies that could spring to life at any moment and kill us.’ Turning, he realised that Louise Ruth was ignoring him and making shadow puppets on the wall. Forgetting his previous apprehension he smiled, ‘Is that supposed to be a rabbit? It looks more like my brother-in-law. Stop that… that’s just rude,’ he added giggling.

***


Oblivious to what was going on in the morgue all sat in the living room drinking tea from Sneed’s best china, normally reserved only for those customers that paid extra, or exerted some influence in the town. Jack wondered about the house, with it seemed impunity, searching everywhere for anything that would lead him to the necklace.

He remained undisturbed by the rest of the house guests, either alive or dead, until the door to the dinning room burst open and Dickens walked out. He walked passed Jack, just managing to duck behind a drape in time. Stopping, Dickens looked up at one of the gas lights and listened to the constant whispering sound, like children making plans in the night. Shaking his head he turned away.

‘Impossible,’ was all he said as he walked back into the parlour where the dead body of Redpath lay. Removing the lid one more time he gazed down at the corpse. Coming to the conclusion that the man was faking it he began checking the body for signs of life.

With a start Jack threw himself backward as the Doctor walked passed, recognisable as the first regeneration that he’d come to know and love. He looked the same as the day he last saw him on the space station after battling the Daleks. He wanted so badly to reach out and touch him, he could feel his fingers twitching in anticipation. This was the Doctor he had fantasised about, coming and taking him away, for all those years. The Doctor now was great… but he wasn’t this Doctor, not Jack’s Doctor.

Stopping, the Doctor looked on as Dickens moved the corpse around in its coffin. ‘Checking for strings?’ The Doctor asked as he observed Dickens frantic efforts to prove himself right.

‘Wires… perhaps,’ he asked, out of breath from his efforts. ‘There must be some mechanism behind this fraud.’ Entering the room the Doctor looked at his friend and smiled. Jack couldn’t believe it and was stung by the trick fate had played on him. His Doctor… his original Doctor standing not ten yards in front of him and he couldn’t say a word.

‘Oh come on Charles… oh all right… I shouldn’t have told you to shut up… I’m sorry.’ The Doctor placed a caring hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘But you’ve got one of the best minds in the world… you saw those gas creatures.’

Spluttering Charles tried to reply, his mind in a whirl of thoughts and ideas. ‘I cannot accept that,’ Dickens finally said, resolutely.

The Doctor advanced on him hoping to convince him that it was no trick he had witnessed. ‘And… what does the human body do when it decomposes… it breaks down and produces gas. Perfect home for these gas things… they can slip inside and use it as a vehicle. Just like your driver and his coach.’

Forcing his eyes closed Dickens shook his head. ‘Stop it. Can it be that I have the world entirely wrong?’ Dickens looked hurt as he contemplated his own folly.

‘Not wrong… there’s just more to learn,’ the Doctor said still trying to convince him, but Dickens was having none of it.

‘I’ve always railed against the fantasist. Oh I loved an illusion as much as the next man… revelled in them… that’s exactly what they were, illusions.’ He emphasised the point by extending both hands then clasping them tight into fists. ‘The real world something else… I dedicated myself to add injustices, the great social causes… I hoped I was a force for good. Now you tell me that the real world is a realm of spectres and jack-a-lanterns. In which case, have I wasted my brief span here Doctor? Has it all been for nothing?’ The Doctor could clearly see the hurt and disappointment in his eyes.

Moving away from the door Jack took the opportunity to head back down into the basement to let his companions know that they were right. There was nothing that even resembled the Arcadian necklaces to be found. He’d even reluctantly checked the old lady’s corpse but came up empty handed. Placing a hand on Ianto’s shoulder he was greeted by a shout that almost had him fearful.

Turning, Ianto looked at Jack with mock anger on his face. ‘Don’t do that you frightened the life out of me.’

Louise Ruth was laughing as Jack entered the room and hugged his friend. ‘And don’t you laugh… you’re just as scared as me,’ Ianto said pointing accusingly at Louise Ruth. She grabbed his outstretched finger and went to bite it as he pulled it free. He was just about to rebuke her again when the room began vibrating and an all too familiar noise filled the air.

All turned to their right as a second marble table appeared in the far corner of the room. It took them seconds to realise what it was and turning, all three ran from the room back into the morgue. Hiding behind a table each, Ianto watched Jack as he pocketed his vortex manipulator which he’d pulled free from the rift manipulator just in time. Louise Ruth gasped in shock as her nemesis the Rani stepped out from behind the newly arrived marble bench and walked towards the second, real marble table.



The Rani in the Basement 15/16


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Tags: doctor who, doctor who and the star of arcadia, fic, old who, ten, torchwood
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