A New Age Dawns
Chapter Nine
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.

She opened her eyes cautiously, not quite sure when she'd squeezed them tightly closed. It was strange to be so surprised to still be alive. No matter how much it may still pain her to do so at the moment, she was still breathing. Owen hadn't shot her. No, all the bullets had hit the alien squarely in the chest with two off shots piercing its abdomen. She'd be amazed at his aim and grouping, but she'd seen him do better. Jack demanded better of his team, injured or not. If Jack was here to see this, Owen would have been out on the target range requalifying for his weapon; as it was, she might demand it, since the damned thing was still alive as well. She could feel it scraping desperately at the edges of her mind, scrambling for a foothold on some dark piece of her consciousness. It wasn't going to make her forget about it, not with her staring right at it, exactly as Owen was doing also, but it was trying to distract her from it, so it could escape as near as she could figure from the feeling of 'run hide flee' it was invoking in her.

She shook her head lightly, careful to keep her eyes open. "It's still alive, Owen." It probably was not necessary to point it out to him, but it still seemed like the thing to do. It also gave her a chance to test if her voice still sounded as horrible as she feared it would. It was good to prove that her assumption was correct: she sounded a bit like the last time she'd been sick, had had next to no voice, and had ended up rasping everything out for days. She wasn't going to convince Andy she was fine and there was no need for a missing person's report if she sounded like this. Nothing to do for it, she supposed. Maybe she could just go into the station and do it in person, as long as she had someone convenient to be an excuse to leave quickly before she ended up having to stay long enough for Rhys to show up. That would take entirely too long - and she wasn't ready to go back to that apartment yet. Not till Jack was back to send her back there.

One of the Weevils growled, and she shivered. Well, maybe she should be glad he just tried to throttle her and not toss her in one of the other occupied cells with one of Torchwood's other favourite guests. She had just been being glad at the time that he hadn't shot her or succeeded in strangling the life out of her that the worse options had occurred to her till now. Going by their previous theory, if it was trying to keep them busy so it could escape and that would indicate that it preferred them both be too busy to chase after it. So obviously it was used to rather dangerous predators... Did that mean this huge thing with the horribly sharp and completely alarming teeth and claws might be a prey animal? It was almost too terrifying a thing to even contemplate.

"Should toss it in Janet's cell and let her finish it off," Owen muttered. He'd dropped all pretences of gender pronouns, she noted. The alien was now just an 'it'. That meant he was disassociating from it, the cop in her murmured, making it easier to kill the thing. Adolescent or not, she couldn't find it in herself to be too upset. Ordinarily, that would upset her or accuse herself of being more alien than the aliens they dealt with every day, but the alien had fallen out of her good graces - or at least ability to forgive - shortly after she first saw it, after she had found out it had killed two people but before it had messed with her head and definitely before it had tried to get Owen to kill her. Now she might be willing to hold the gun steady for him to kill it.

There was enough panic floating around her mind that it was hard to tell how much of it was her own and how much belonged to the alien, but she could at least tell it was just hers. "It's scared," she stated plainly. It would have been harder not to be plain; it felt as detached from the situation as Owen was sounding like he was. "It's damn terrified."

"No shit." Owen's words were a growl, as harsh as any the Weevils produced; in fact, it reminded her more than a little of a Weevil. Give that she was less than happy with the alien herself and wouldn't really mind growling at it herself, though, she wasn't going to say a word. "Maybe I should shoot it a few more times and see if doesn't get really unhappy." She was silent, waiting on him to wind down. It took a little while, but eventually he took a deep breath, released it as a sigh, and asked, "What did you mean then, about it being scared?"

"It's terrified right out of its mind and into mine. It sounds daft, I know..."

Owen fixed her with a dark look. "What's daft is that you keep trying to talk. You sound horrible." She would have taken offence, probably to his scathing tone if nothing else, but the past few months with Torchwood had taught her that he had a tendency to act like a git when he was worried about someone. Okay, more of a git than he usually was, to be fair, since he was trying at the best of times. "It's still transmitting at you?"

She hesitated, eyeing him standing in the open doorway to the lizard alien's cell, her gun still in his hand and still trained on the creature bleeding blood so dark that it might actually be black onto the concrete floor, his own blood leaking slowly out from her grabbing at his shoulder to break free, almost earnest eyes watching her while still keeping some of his attention on the alien. If there was anyone left in the tattered remains of Torchwood Three who could keep a secret, it was Owen. She'd had a brief affair with him, and still she sometimes felt she knew nothing about him. She'd trusted him enough then not to tell her boyfriend about the affair, and he'd followed through on that trust. He'd even mostly followed through on keeping it from the rest of their co-workers; Tosh had only been able to figure it out when she was able to read their minds. (Jack had probably figured it out sooner, but then that was Jack. Something - the same something whispering little things at her, about the alien, about Owen - told her he was older than he seemed; he probably had more experience than any psychologist or profiler on picking up the little things going on around him.) She'd trusted Owen this far; in theory, she should be able to trust him even further.

But he'd also shot Jack. She wasn't sure what there was between them - some sort of a weird mentor-pupil thing, though even just thinking that was nearly enough to make her burst into silly giggles, at the Star Wars-like images it put in her mind - but that did imply there were some boundaries he was willing to cross, trust or no trust. To be fair again, though, she'd betrayed Jack as well, so what did that say about how much people could trust her? Probably not too great of things, so who was she to cast aspersions?

"Maybe just a bit." She shook her head slightly. "It's like the damn thing opened up a door in my brain and I don't know how to close it." She paused, rethinking her words. "No, more like I can't turn off whatever it did to me."

"Great," he drawled. "I'm stuck with an empathetic equivalent of a drippy sink." She started to protest that he was over-simplifying this a bit too much, even for him, but he was already continuing to speak. "Only you, Gwen, could manage to get a bit of your brain jiggled loose by an alien. I guess there's just one way to deal with this then."

When Tosh came downstairs at last to announce the completion of her second project, a program to check for Jack in the media and police reports, already running on her laptop and set to email an alert to her mobile phone, at first she thought Owen and Gwen had been abducted as well. For the two of them, this was just too quiet, she had just decided when she finally heard the first trace of them: downstairs in what she tended to think of as Owen's room. She was certain if he had his choice, he'd spend more time in the autopsy room/miniature medical facility than at his desk. She was fairly certain that if he could drag his computer, a decent rolling chair, and a fridge not occupied by various medical supplies, Owen would set up permanent professional shop in here.

It wasn't in the least unusual to see someone sitting on the autopsy table being stitched up from some various injury. She'd been on there about a week ago, letting him work on her hand. Shortly after that, Jack had been there just long enough for Owen to give him a cursory examination to determine that he definitely was dead, at least at that time: death wasn't a permanent thing on Jack apparently, but they hadn't know that then, and so they had just thought they had lost a team member for the second time in a day - though thankfully at a hand other than their own the second go-round.

No, what was unusual was to see Owen sitting on the table, Gwen standing in front of him brandishing a needle. His shirt was on the table next to him, and the bandages that had been covering his shoulder had to be the bloodied ones in the rubbish bin next to the table. They weren't even arguing: Gwen would come near him with the needle, he'd dodge, she would give him a dirty look and reach at him with the needle, and the process would repeat itself again. The second time through she watched them pantomime this out, she couldn't resist a giggle. Two sets of dark eyes turned to stare balefully up at her. Predictably, it was Owen that spoke first, such that it was, snapping out a quick "What?" at her.

She shook her head. It could prove amusing to see their faces if she told them that they were just too cute, but all the nagging that would undoubtedly ensue from a comment like that made it not worth it, at least for right now. "What happened?" she had to ask. "You look awful."

"Why, thank you. Nothing much happened," he answered easily. "Pulled a few stitches. Gwen here thinks they need to be stitched back up, and as you can see, she's all set to do them herself. I still say butterfly sutures would do just as well, especially when she's being stingy with the morphine." Gwen mumbled something under her breath that sounded a lot like sneezing and made Owen glance at her sharply. "What was that?"

"I said that you're chicken shit." If Owen looked like a slice of raw hell, Gwen sounded like it. She didn't think she'd sounded nearly so bad when they'd been having breakfast upstairs. She was pretty sure she'd remember Gwen sounding like that before now. She hadn't heard her sound so bad since she'd caught some sort of bug after the whole thing with Suzie and the glove; Owen had theorised that Suzie's leech trick weakened her immune system briefly, letting a nasty cold bug from being laid out on the dock get to be a problem entirely too quickly. That was similar to how she sounded now, but without the shivering, sneezing, and coughing fits that went with it last time. No, this had to be something different. "I've done one autopsy before, so you know I'm decent with a needle. And you've had enough morphine. Now let me work on that."

He shied away from the other woman again and instead looked up at her where she leaned over the railing near them. "Was there something you needed, Tosh, or did you just want to poke fun at my plight here?"

He was playing it up so melodramatically that she had to grin at him as she spoke. "I got that program set up, the one to monitor the police and media for any word on Jack. It's up and running in fact. When it finds something, it will page my cell phone." She sighed heavily. "I started to run one on the Doctor, and it was setting off alerts left and right. Nothing that included Jack, though, but the most recent one was about a week or so ago, not too long before Abaddon and before Jack was taken. Apparently he was involved in those difficulties being reported at Lazarus Labs."

Owen snorted sardonically, almost managing to sound like he was just amused. "Now there's a surprise: the Doctor showing up somewhere and everything going to shit. And just before before Election Day too."

She started in surprise. "You think the Doctor's out to sabotage Harold Saxon's campaign?" She just couldn't imagine an alien like the Doctor deliberately messing up an election, but stranger things had happened, after all. One couldn't take anything to do with aliens for granted, as she'd learned the hard way. And if the Doctor was getting involved with the elections of public officials, this could go very bad very quickly.

"I heard a nasty rumour through U.N.I.T. that the Doctor was involved in Harriet Jones' health scare. Wouldn't put it past him," he confided with a completely reverent smile. "So much for Britain's Golden Age, or whatever bullshit the media was calling it." Another small, dark laugh escaped him. "Besides, didn't you hear?" He nodded at a radio sitting on the other side of the room, shut off now but not in the place it usually was; obviously they'd been listening to it earlier. "The results are finally in. Saxon is Prime Minister now, or he will be soon. Supposed to meet with the Queen in two days, they said."

"Well, that's a relief." It was a good thing, she thought. She'd liked Harriet Jones well enough, but she did like Harold Saxon. In fact, she'd go as far as to say she believed in him, not something to say lightly of a politician in her opinion. "Gwen said something on the phone about an alien down here." She hadn't sounded as bad on the phone as she did now. Unless Gwen had be screaming in the time between when they spoke and now - no, the entire time since they'd talked - she shouldn't sound so bad now. It just didn't make any sense.

"It's dealt with." Owen wasn't exactly meeting her eyes, but that might have something to do with Gwen advancing again with the needle. She would have all her attention on the person with an instrument that could cause her pain as well, not the person trying to talk to her; it just wouldn't be as big a deal. Normally she'd offer to stitch Owen back up herself, but she didn't want to make the stitches any worse than the ones he had managed to do to himself. With her hand still bandaged as it was, it was a real possibility. "It's in a locker till we can deal with it. I want a closer look at its brain."

He was evading actually answering the question as fully as she'd like, but sometimes one had to take what one could get with Owen. That was something that all of Torchwood Three had come to accept. If one couldn't accept that of him, then there would have be either a killing or a retconning occurring soon. He was a bit of a genius, after all, and he knew it. And oh, how Yvonne had hated him for that. He was too good for her to sack, but she had transferred him to Cardiff. At the time it had been little more than a remote monitoring station with delusions of grandeur of competing with the exponentially bigger Torchwood One in London and so it had been quite the impressive punishment, even if it had been billed to him as a promotion with relocation attached, but with the Battle of Canary Wharf, that had all changed. Suddenly there were only a half dozen or so members of Torchwood still active, instead of the nearly one thousand, counting the missing Torchwood Four, and Jack had stepped up to the task of rebuilding the network, slowly working them back to the efficiency that had once existed. It wasn't a task she envied him nor one she'd wish on her worst enemy; to say there was resistance to change was probably the understatement of the decade.

"Its brain? Did you turn into a zombie or something when I wasn't looking?" she tried to joke. It probably wasn't one of her best attempts, and usually even they fell flat in this crowd.

Gwen cracked a smile, though, and Owen snorted something like amusement. "It kept making us forget about it, and we figure it was behind the aggression-fear experiences we had before," he explained. "Also it was extremely hard to kill: three shots to the chest and two to the abdomen didn't kill it. It just laid on the floor, bleeding, trying to mess with our heads. Had to shoot it in the head to kill it. Gwen figures that wherever it was from, it was a prey animal."

"Telepathic and a prey animal? Seems an unlikely combination." She refused to think about her previous experience with a telepathic alien; Mary was a subject she didn't like breached and enjoyed bringing it up herself even less. In fact, she would really rather prefer it was never brought up again. Being privy to the thoughts of the greater Cardiff area was not a experience she wanted repeated, no more than being so in love with someone and having that love turned against her. "I suppose if the predators are impressive, then prey might evolve telepathy."

"Why it had it isn't important. I want to find out what we should be expecting if we run into anything else with telepathy." So should she just be glad he hadn't gotten it in his head to dissect her while she had that damned pendant? No, she had to believe Owen wouldn't do something like to her. "Besides no matter how big and scary it looked, it was plenty dangerous enough with just its mind."

What an odd way for him to phrase it. "How do you mean?"

"It tried to kill both of us. That's how I popped my stitches."

It made sense. It made perfect sense, and he put it so succinctly. It made absolute sense, and he was lying. How she knew, she wasn't sure, but he was definitely not telling the truth. Which part of it wasn't true, she couldn't be certain, but he wasn't being completely honest at the least. She wasn't naive enough to think this was the first time she'd been lied to by her team-mates - the incident with the pendant had taught her that much at least - but she wasn't going to press the issue this time. Well, at least not much. "What about Gwen?" The other woman looked up, a g uilty expression abruptly clear on her face. "Her voice?" She glanced a little closer. "And the bruises starting to show up on her throat?"

"Same thing. It tried to kill us." Another stretch on the truth, she was fairly sure, but again, she wasn't sure where he was doing it. There were enough secrets and mysteries around here right now without adding in her two co-workers acting abruptly different and lying to her to her face. "My stitches got ripped, and Gwen was nearly strangled."

"My God," she gasped. "Are you both all right?"

Owen opened his mouth to say something, but Gwen managed to smoothly cut in, her voice still rough but just loud enough to be heard. It was actually a bit painful to listen to, though hopefully that would fade soon. "I'm fine. Owen will be if he lets me stitch him up."

"It'll take a lot more morphine than this to get me to go under your needle," he fired right back. "I saw your stitch work on corpses, and they don't exactly move. I don't want to see how you do when it's on a live subject that might twitch."

"I can fix it so you don't move. I think I saw something in the medical cabinet that might knock you out. Or if you'd prefer, I always have a baseball bat in my car." There was a tight grin on the other woman's face.

"Well if we're talking about immobilising me, how about we just go with some light bondage? I'll be you still have some restraints in your desk left over from your copper days right. We can just tie me down to the table and bypass the stitches, yeah?"

"Hmm... How about no? Quit bitching, Owen. You're worse than a little kid." He glared at her, and she fixed him with a stern glare. "Seriously, you've probably bitched off that entire dose of morphine, so you'd rather sit there hurting than let me help. You're like a little kid who doesn't want to take his medicine. Just re-dose yourself and let me get this done. I'm tired and my throat is killing me. Arguing with you isn't exactly helping."

Tosh had to hold back a smile and a laugh as he slowly capitulated and obeyed. Well, if she wasn't the one having to stitch him up, she wasn't sticking around to watch the impromptu surgery. She still had work to do on her primary program, to trace the Doctor's machine, the TARDIS, and maybe she should also loan her secondary, completed program on the Hub's computer, just in case her laptop ran into some kind of problems and wasn't able to run the program. It was important that they find Jack; Torchwood needed its leader; but she also wanted to know just what the Doctor wanted with Torchwood. After meeting one version of him that one time, she wanted - no, needed - to know what would make him go a fter Torchwood. They were actually helping him with his job, if what Harriet Jones always said was true and he was supposedly defending the Earth, so why go gunning after them? Because they were supposed to also be his guard dogs?

It just wasn't easy setting up a program to track something when you had no idea what it was or how it worked. And saying she had no ideas on the TARDIS was such an understatement that it was almost laughable, but she had to know, so she had to figure out a way to track it. She wasn't placing all her bets on the media program working. The Doctor had been clever thus far in his life, for the most part avoiding the media, so she doubted anything would turn up. Though she still had to wonder if she should extend the media program to include newspaper archives. It couldn't hurt and would only take a few minutes to set up. Perhaps she would make it once she'd worked something out on the primary program. Tracking the TARDIS and finding Jack - and asking the Doctor her question - were the top priorities right now.

She'd sat down and had just long enough to get the secondary program loaded onto her workstation when the main doors opened again, and Ianto stepped into the main area. The faint stamp of surprise on his face would be exaggerated shock on anyone else, but he did seem a bit gobsmacked. "What is it?" she had to ask.

Out of the corner of one eye, she noted Gwen and Owen stepping back up to the main level of the work stations. He had yet to pull on a new shirt, but the bandages did a good job of covering much of his chest. While Ianto was obviously gathering his words, Owen grabbed a button-down shirt hanging from his workstation chair, shrugging carefully into it with Gwen's help, and carefully buttoning it. "Yeah, so what's the problem, Tea Boy?" He was back to his usual smarmy self, she noted with something like pleasure.

"We just got a call from the office of Harold Saxon. Apparently there's something they need Torchwood's help with. They're sending someone out to speak to us."

21 July 2007

Okay, I'll admit that this is slowly but surely killing me. I'm running so far behind and I keep getting dragged away from the computer. I guess I shouldn't blame Katsuko too much, since I'm getting a good beta off her, but I have major catching up to do. We're in the home stretch now, though. Not much longer to go yet.

Some questions answered in this chapter: when exactly this place (two days prior to "The Sound of Drums"), which in turn hopefully answers when Jack will be back.

In an effort to catch up, I'm going to try to get another chapter out tomorrow (No promises though!), chores and betas permitting.

As always, thank you for the one review I got on the last chapter and for the hits as well. I'm not too far from another ice cream treat, which is nice. You guys are being so nice to me, letting me get all these treats, that I'm going to have trouble getting into my costume for DragonCon. When I made this bet, no-one thought the story was going to take off as it had.


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