A New Age Dawns
Chapter Eight
by Apollymi 

Series: Torchwood
Pairing: General
Rating: 15
Word Count: 3592
Note: The title comes from the Epica album Consign to Oblivion. Yes, I still suck at titles. This is the first of my fan novels for Torchwood. It is set to bridge the gap between Series 1 and Series 2. Whether or not it will be Series 2 compliant is left to be seen, but it does take into account information released in "The Sound of Drums" of Doctor Who.
Summary: Set immediately following End of Days but prior to the beginning of Series Two, Torchwood Three's leader is gone. What will happen in the meantime?
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and Torchwood belong to the BBC. I'm just borrowing.

All he could really say for the lizard thing was, well, it was ugly. The first thing that came to mind was a very rough comparison to an iguana of some kind, if an iguana ever got up to about two and a half metres tall, grew gigantically long claws, and some rather nasty teeth, not to mention learned to walk in a vaguely bipedal fashion. Any picture he'd ever seen of a iguana showed them to be green or grey in colour for the most part, not the shiny black and brilliant red of the thing in front of him. Teeth and claws like that, and all he could think was predator.

And then the smell hit him. It was almost physical how strong it was, almost overpowering. It was like a million or so odours wrapped all into one, and his head was hurting already trying to pick out individual ones: rotting bananas, old milk, burned vegetation, fresh tar, dog shit on hot concrete, some of those bums that hung around the Millennium Centre on cold nights... And it clicked. The smell somehow made the pieces come back together in his brain. "Hello again, Charlie."

"'Charlie'?" Gwen repeated, alternating between looking at him like he was mad and staring a bit closer at the creature in the cage. "What is this thing doing down here? How did it-" His patience in waiting paid off as realisation dawned on her face. "We captured it on the streets upstairs yesterday. How in the world did I forget about it being here?"

Personally he seconded that question completely. Their smelly friend here was a bit too big, a bit too mean, and a bit too smelly to have just utterly forgotten about the way they both had. "Wasn't just you," he admitted. "I forgot the bastard was down here as well. What do you want to bet Tosh and Ianto forgot about him as well?"

"I'm not taking that bet," she answered, instead setting down the bucket of the Weevil's food (Frankly he was a bit surprised that she'd managed to hold on to it as long as she had. He'd have probably dropped it when he spotted Charlie himself.) and pulling out her work mobile. "I'm going to check, though."

Evidentially Toshiko picked up on the first ring because Gwen almost immediately began speaking. He let her voice fade into the background as he moved forward closer to the glass to examine the creature as closely as he dared. There was definitely no way he was going on the other side of the glass; he'd learned his lesson there with Janet's assistance in a cage that had been much less secure than he was now hoping these were. Gwen's attention was split between the mobile and the Weevils, leaning against the wall next to Janet's cell. She seemed to be dead certain that the glass would hold. Just because it had so far didn't guarantee that it would continue to do so. If it didn't, if Charlie managed to get out, getting them both out of here alive and hopefully in one piece would be an adventure he wasn't sure he wanted to have, at least not without back-up. And it wouldn't be the Tea Boy or Toshiko he wanted for back-up either.

No, he'd want someone with him who wouldn't debate a point to hell and back before pulling the trigger (not that he'd been particularly upset that Ianto hadn't just shot him the minute he'd first mentioned opening the Rift to get Jack and Toshiko back). Jack had, in an odd way, tried to talk them down from opening the Rift the second time, but he'd seen it in the man's eyes: if Gwen hadn't punched him when she did, he wouldn't have hesitated to shoot them. He probably wouldn't have been aiming for the shoulder either, as Ianto still claimed to have done. He also wouldn't particularly mind having Gwen as his back-up; that punch, as well as the predator-prey experience they'd had earlier, seemed to indicate similar things about her. She'd probably feel guilty as hell about it later, but when it came to keeping the team safe, of the three he had left to choose from till Jack got back, she'd be his first pick.

"Owen?" her voice interrupted his dark thoughts, a curious tone in her voice. Glancing over, she had her hand over the mouthpiece of the phone and was eyeing him closely. He raised his eyebrows in silent communication to continue. "What was I supposed to be telling Tosh about?"

That quick? Just taking one's eyes off Charlie for about two minutes was all it took to forget about it again? He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at the holding cage where the lizard-like alien was imprisoned. "You were going to ask if she remembered him." He was betting the other two didn't though, not if she could forget that quickly. As soon as her eyes landed on the iguana creature, he could see the remembrance bleed back into them. "Keep your eye on him. I'm going to feed the Weevils." She gave him a thumbs up and moved away closer to Charlie's cell so that he could get to the Weevils' cell.

Gwen's voice was a low hum at the edge of his attention as he went about what was normally Ianto's job. Janet didn't seem too fond of the company, but there wasn't really anything to do be done for it. If the other Weevil they'd put in the cell with her had been given a name from Jack yet, he wasn't aware of it, but she didn't appear to be any happier, hissing lowly at him. He growled-hissed back at her, and thankfully she backed off.

What the hell was Gwen babbling about over there? It wasn't like Tosh wasn't right upstairs, just a few levels above them. What was so important that it couldn't wait? he mentally grumbled to himself, especially since she was supposed to be helping him feed the Weevils. As the Tea Boy would probably point out, they didn't exactly feed themselves down here. Closing the door to Janet's and her cell-mate's cage, he turned to give her a piece of his mind on the matter - and there behind her was the biggest, ugliest, meanest-looking damn iguana he'd ever seen. A moment later, as she thumbed the off button, the smell hit his nostrils, and everything came rushing back with the olfactory offence. "Damn, that's potent," he couldn't help commenting.

"The smell or the way he can make you forget he's even there?" She eyed the creature a little more closely. "Either way, it's... wow. Do you suppose it's behind what hap-"

Charlie launched himself at the wall, the glass the only thing stopping from taking a huge chunk out of Gwen's head with one of those claws. Hell, its hand (for lack of knowing the proper term) was about the same size as her head; he wasn't even going to really consider what kind of damage it could have done if the wall hadn't been there or hadn't held. Gwen had immediately scrambled back, nearly tripping over him in the process. And it looked like his earlier thought had been right: her gun was in her hand, levelled almost steadily at the alien, keeping trained on it as it thrashed about the wall, evidentially trying to find a weak point in the glass.

"I think he likes you," Owen finally cracked, once they both had calmed down at least a little.

Gwen shifted her grip on the gun (He really should probably make her check it back into Weapons Storage, but that wasn't an argument he relished the idea of having, so he might save that one for Jack when he got back - because he was coming back and that was how it was going to be and no-one, not even Harold Saxon himself, was going to convince him otherwise), not actually lowering it but adjusting it to be a more comfortable and long-term hold. "Well, he's fully welcome to stop any moment now. He looks like he should be too big to move that fast."

He took a deep breath to steady himself - and reassure himself to the fact that Gwen could probably shoot it before it did fatal damage to him - and he stepped forward to examine the thing more closely. There was no getting by the ugliness. Looking at it proportionately, though, using other bipedal species as a basis, he was able to draw one extremely tentative conclusion. "It may not be full grown yet," he offered. "It looks like... well, like it's going through a teenage gangly phase."

"It's going to get bigger?" Gwen looked a bit ill at the prospect. He couldn't say where he blamed her. The ceiling of the cell was going to be an issue if the thing got any bigger, really, and the others on levels below them were no better. "Tell me you're joking."

He shrugged one shoulder again. "No idea. I'm guessing based on Earth standards, but I'm betting he's not a local boy, not in any timezone."

"He probably fell through the Rift, yeah?" She was clearly thinking aloud, so he didn't bother answer. "And if that's the case, then it's extending itself beyond just moving people through time: now it's starting to reach through space. We might start getting aliens from all over. If he's an example of what's to come..."

"Then we're fucked," he finished succinctly. That copper habit of hers of reasoning everything out was so damn annoying, especially when she thought she had to do it aloud. Why couldn't she just think to herself like normal people did? No-one needed to hear her every thought and possible deduction on the matter. He certainly didn't want to hear it all. "Completely and utterly fucked. Torchwood has already proven we don't stand a chance against things that can get in our heads, and if Charlie-boy here can do just that and make us forget he's there - and God knows what else he can do to us - then we are so far beyond fucked."

Owen was losing his mind. That was the only inescapable truth she could get out of this surreal moment. Owen was losing his mind, and they had an adolescent alien locked up in their cells that could make them forget about it within five minutes of them taking their eyes off him. Jack was still missing, they were no closer to finding him, there was a missing persons report out on her, there was something - maybe even the alien here - messing with their heads, and now to make it all that much better, Owen was going batty. Wonderful, just absolutely wonderful. The stupid fucking little wanker had to pick right now to lose his damn mind. What the hell had been possessing her to make her sleep with him before? Some new and different kind of sex-starved alien, not quite like what had possessed Carys but not not too dissimilar either? Or maybe temporary insanity? There was no way she'd slept with him repeatedly of her own free will and in a clear state of mind. The mere thought was just disgusting to her. He would be better off taken out of the gene pool before he had a chance to spread his unfortunate genetic material on to the unsuspecting next generation.

Her hands were lifting, her finger slipping around the trigger to do just that (Just one shot, bang, and there would be no next generation of Owen Harpers, and wouldn't that just be a relief for the entire planet?), when she caught herself in her thoughts. It was starting again. The damned fear and aggression cycle was starting again. She made herself thumb the safety back on the handgun and jam it down in its holster before the temptation to use it became too strong. No matter how nice the thought of shooting Owen might be, she was going to have to make herself resist for two reasons: one, it really wasn't her thoughts buzzing around up there making her want to murder him, and two, shooting him was more Ianto's thing and she'd hate to deprive him of this little bit of fun.

She wanted, with what bits of her conscious mind that were still functioning, to close her eyes and try to breathe her way through this, but she couldn't. No way was she taking her eyes off Owen or the alien for however long that might take. It probably wouldn't be a quick thing to accomplish. She was still reeling a bit from the last time (No psychic training, Tosh had said; that was why this was hitting her harder and longer than the rest of them. As soon as Jack was back and settled back into the swing of things, they were going to have to sort that out for her), but the rest of them had seemed over the mental assault. Yet if that was what it was and it was repeating itself so soon, it seemed to be hitting Owen harder than it was her. Why would that be? Because her mind was still muddled from before? That would be just brilliant. Saved from a mind fuck by having been mind fucked.

The aggression was screaming through her brain, pounding in her veins in quick time, loud like drums warning of approaching danger. Warning her of Owen? Or trying to warn Owen of her? She couldn't be certain. "Owen?" she questioned uncertainly.

"That's all there is to it. We're fucked." He shook his head hard, obviously trying to clear his thoughts. She couldn't tell how much success he was having. "Can't be the Doctor though."

Well, that was a very different tune from the last few days. Every other time, he'd been perfectly willing to blame the Doctor: for taking Jack (that one they were fairly certain on, at the very least), mind fucking them, destroying Canary Wharf, the toast landing butter-side down, and everything else that had gone wrong for Torchwood. Hell, he might have even been blaming the man for the loss of Torchwood Four - and even Jack had no idea what had happened to them. "Could it be him?" She nodded over his shoulder at the alien in the cell behind him.

"Who?" Damn, that was the most efficient ability she'd ever seen. How did that thing keep making a thing like this happen? To her, she could understand it happening, with what Toshiko had mentioned about psychic training (Why in the world would Jack have not bothered training her in that? Okay, granted, he had waited till after she'd had to use a gun to train her on how to use one; if that meant Jack's approach to training was 'let them see how bad it is without the training first then train', she might be forced to hit him - just on principle's sake), but it was happily tripping through Owen's mind like there was nothing to it and he had had the training. And frankly that disturbed her with what it could mean: there were things out there beyond their training, well beyond the scope of their experience. No, frankly it went well beyond disturbing her, right into frightening her. "How long has that thing been-" He shook his head again, recognition entering his eyes again. "Damn, he's good at that. Yeah, I'd say it's Charlie doing it. It makes sense."

"If he's doing this thing where we keep forgetting about him, mightn't he also be doing the other thing? Where we all wanted to kill each other?" The way his eyes were glazing over, not a lot, just enough to be noticed, something - likely this alien - was definitely still trying to work that trick on him. Weirdly, she could feel it scraping around the outer edges of her brain, the aggression beating a four-note beat in her head while her pulse was doing overtime, but her mind wasn't going under, not like it had before. She was willing to stick to her conclusion that it couldn't get back in because it had messed her mind up too much before and it hadn't yet completely recovered, too brain fucked to be brain fucked again, in other words. (Oh, she just bet that Jack would love hearing her say that. He'd probably be endlessly amused by the quaintness of it.)

He nodded slightly, more a loose-necked bobble than an actual conscious movement, though he was evidentially agreeing with her. "It would follow. So Charlie here has some sort of telepathic - no, telepathic and empathic ability. He can make us forget all about him, as well as stimulate fear and aggression in others." He rocked back on his heels to try to get a full view of the creature. "That might be a defence mechanism."

"How?" she had to ask. "It sounds like that'd be a good way to get himself killed. How does that work in his defence?" She really did have to ask. It was less how curious she was on the matter, though she could admit to being plenty, and more that Owen seemed more in control of himself when he was in 'Doctor Harper mode', as she and Tosh had gigglingly referred to it once. If she could keep him in that frame of mind for a little while, maybe they could figure out just what was going on and what they should expect from here on out from their new guest. No, he was too dangerous to be called a guest; adolescent or not, if the theory was correct, it was just too risky to think of him as anything other than a prisoner.

He raked a hand through already dishevelled hair, the gesture obviously both impatient and thoughtful at once. Oh, it was definitely at least trying to work on him, if it wasn't already in the back of his mind, needling away at him about little things that ordinarily would not be cause for violence, but in this case, it was apparently just as easily done to make them want to try to kill someone for saying the wrong thing as if they'd actually done something worthy of death. He repeated the gesture again, looking all too ready to start pacing except for the fact that he'd let the alien out off his sight and promptly forget about it again, before speaking at last, sounding a bit out of breath. "I'm really just guessing here, Gwen. Maybe it uses that thing - that whammy, for lack of a better term - to make predators turn on each other so it can get away. I don't know. The point is, it looks like he's using it to try to get away from us."

"But he can't get through the glass so he's just spinning his wheels, with the bonus side-effect of driving us crazy," she concluded. "That's my favourite part, after all." She took a step closer and leaned forward, running a finger along the glass. "Do you think it will keep holding?"

She barely had time to see motion out of the corner of her eye before she found herself pressed up against the wall of the next cell, the hiss of a Weevil at her back and hot, human breath on her face, and a heavy arm bracing across her chest. Damn it, she shouldn't have taken her attention even partially off Owen. She should have remembered that the alien wasn't the only threat in the room; the human was just as capable of wreaking havoc as it was, maybe more so since he wasn't stuck on the far side of a thick, nigh unbreakable glass wall. She could just seem her tombstone now, if Jack let her have one after this: 'Here lies Gwen Cooper, Died from being stupid'. Jack also could get Ianto and Toshiko shirts to wear to the funeral (if she got to have one) that said 'I worked with the stupid bint they're putting in the ground' or something. It would be just wonderful.

The arm slid up to lie across her throat with heavy pressure, and she could feel her breathing starting to get just a bit hard; he wasn't pressing down hard, but he didn't have to as long as he kept the pressure up. She didn't even have to think about trying to pull him away; her own hand was already up and trying to yank him away, to ease the pressing so she could get a full breath in her lungs, anything. She just needed air, and none seemed to be forthcoming. This wasn't far the way she wanted to go out: choked to death by her own team-mate. When the alien let up and Owen was back in his right mind, this was going to be sheer hell for him. He took everything so personally, and choking was a very personal way to kill someone, not like shooting them...

Shooting them... That might actually work. Maybe not shooting him - she didn't think she could get her gun out with him pressed so tightly against her, but there was still something else she could do. It might work just as well as shooting him herself (even if that was really more Ianto's shtick than hers) or it might not work all, but she was putting bets on the former with how careful he'd been being since the tumble he'd taken this morning. Getting a punch in was a lost cause; the quarters were just way too tight; but oh yes, there was still something she could do to make him hurt enough to let go.

Already gasping for breath (He was stronger than he looked, but at least the aggression messed with his head enough that he didn't seem to be able to use anything he'd undoubtedly learned at medical school or working through Torchwood on her) and feeling the edges of her vision starting to blur and go fuzzy, she reached up and wrapped her hand around his right shoulder. With all the strength she had left in her, she squeezed, a final gambit towards getting free while she was still alive.

It was strange: she was so hyper-aware of everything around her, especially everything that had anything to do with Owen, that she could feel the bandages sliding beneath her hand, thick and heavy fluid that could only be blood leaking through to wet her hand, and finally the yelp of pain immediately preceding her being dropped to the cold, damp concrete floor, coughing and choking but finally breathing again. Even though the noise she was making relearning to breathe, she could even hear him scrambling back away from her; she didn't have to see his face to know he looked horrified. It was the closest they'd come in a while, a week, since they killed Jack, since Ianto had shot Owen, to any real violence being done to a member of the Torchwood team, and for it to nearly be done by another member of said team yet again...

He'd almost killed Gwen.

He'd almost killed Gwen, and he hadn't even been in his right mind when he was doing it. Now if there was a point when he should complain about the unfairness of anything, this should be it: he'd almost killed his ex-lover and he'd barely been aware he was doing. He hadn't been aware of much at all, to be honest, not until the pain set in. It was good thinking, going for where he was already hurt rather than try to inflict a new injury to get free. He was going to have to patch it back up again, maybe do a quick shot of painkiller, but not till he checked on Gwen.

A half-step forward put the cell in his line of sight. Somehow it wasn't a surprise to see Charlie still there this time. If he could ascribe human emotions to aliens, he'd say this one looked hopeful, like it had shown them what it could do so couldn't they let him out now, in a weird way. Gwen was carefully climbing to her feet as well, looking at the alien also, though he did note that she was also keeping an eye on him as well. Not making the same mistake twice, in that case, he thought to himself, almost pleased.

"I take it back," she rasped out. "That's one hell of a defence mechanism." She was rubbing her throat lightly; there were probably going to be bruises soon. That would be interesting to explain to Toshiko and Ianto, not to mention her boyfriend. "So what are we going to do about him?"

Silently he moved his hand beneath the back of her shirt where her gun rested in its holster, pulling it out before she had a chance to object. Gwen fell a few wary steps back towards the door leading to the rest of the Hub.

A moment later, the sound of several shots cut through the still air of the Hub.

18 July 2007

Whoops, sorry about the delay. I got a little caught up with this chapter; I guess that's apparent reading it.

You know: it was mentioned to me that I should tell my readers that a bit of this story came from me reading the three official Torchwood novels - and deciding I could do better than Border Princes. My beta, Katsuko1978, didn't exactly try to stop me and in fact encouraged me. I held out from the end of Series One till Doctor Who's "The Sound of Drums" and "Last of the Time Lords"... and then there was fic. And it lined up so perfectly with JulNoWriMo that I couldn't resist.

Speaking of Katsuko, she's been entertaining me away from writing. She finally got around to buying The Sims 2 Deluxe -- and one of the first things she did was build a Harry Saxon Sim. Harry's been keeping us entertained - and making sure we accomplish nothing productive.

I still have a slight deficit to make up, word count-wise, and only about a week left to do it in; I will be out of town from next Wednesday evening till possibly Sunday morning/early afternoon. It's a rush trying to get this finished up so I can go see Mum, but I will admit to being glad to get out of the 35C/90F weather for a bit.

Anyway, ice cream tomorrow, thanks to you lovely people! Thank you in advance for hits and even more for reviews! Later, darlings!


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