A New Age Dawns
Chapter Ten
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.

"Harold Saxon? He's sending someone out here?" Toshiko felt a bit like a parrot, repeating the words back at Ianto, but really, the shock had gotten to her. There was just so much that had happened in the last week that visit from the new Prime Minister was just about enough to leave her utterly speechless or at least reeling a bit. To say the least, she wasn't at her most with it mental state. "The Prime Minister is sending someone to Torchwood?"

"More to the point," Owen groused, "he's not even officially Prime Minister yet. How the hell does he know about Torchwood? Whatever happened to the whole 'secret organisation' thing?"

"I believe that went out the window the first time Eugene IMed you," Ianto countered rather neatly. Mentally, she award Ianto a point for the small jab. She'd long since lost count of the actual score numbers between the two now, but she was fairly certain that Owen was still well in the lead. Of course Owen did have a more acetic wit more easily given to these small 'points', but every so often, Ianto would get zings like that one in.

Owen shot him a dark look that frankly would have been a lot more impressive if there wasn't still a hazy blur in his eyes from the morphine he'd had to take to let Gwen stitch him up. And she'd still like to know what exactly had happened with that alien to leave the two of them in the shape they were in, Gwen half-strangled and Owen with busted stitches that she was willing to believe were more than half-healed. What had that alien done, with them insisting that the mental abilities were worst than its physical attributes? "I think we'd all agreed that Eugene was a subject we were all dropping. You can't agree to something and back out on it when it's convenient."

"Why not? You do." She winced at Ianto's choice of a rejoinder and mentally awarded him five more points. He'd only get to keep them if Owen didn't try to kill him, of course, but it was a fairly snappy comeback, if it didn't get him dead.

She waited a tense few seconds, the air in the Hub thick enough to be sliced with a knife, and she was right in between the two groups. Ianto was all but leaning against the inner barred door (or he would be if it didn't require relaxing and she wasn't sure if he knew how, which raised all new questions she'd never ask about his and Jack's relationship), and on the other side of the Hub, over at Owen's desk, Gwen and Owen stood almost like a united front of the walking wounded. If they were a united front, it might be the first time without a real threat around them: the end of the world, aliens, cannibals... Of course, her desk was between them, so it was up to her to play mediator.

"Okay, everyone," she finally stepped in. "If someone from the new Prime Minister will be showing up soon, this place needs to be presentable."

"Mum..." She glared at Owen for that, not that it made a lot of difference, but she rather expected that when it came to him. "I don't think they're coming down here with a white glove to inspect us. This isn't school."

How exactly did Jack manage to not shoot him all these years? She'd be damn glad when he was back. How exactly had she ended up with the mediating part of his job? Maybe she needed to take a page from the guys' book and shoot whoever ends up disagreeing with her. It might save some time and perhaps inspire more of them to be more agreeable more of the time. It was worth considering. Hopefully Jack would be back before she had to think about it too long, before she had to give in to the urge to kill one of them.

"No, it's not school, but we are still professionals. We should present ourselves as such." Because we don't behave like pros, she finished to herself but didn't say aloud. That would be starting another fight, and that was something she didn't want to get involved in, much less begin. "It's either we tidy up down here or we only meet them in the tourist shop." She stopped briefly to assess their faces then continued quickly before they had a chance to argue the validity of the second option. "If we only meet in the tourist shop, then we'd best hope they don't need us to show them anything down here because it still looks like a bomb went off."

Owen at least seemed to seriously consider this, sinking down to sit in his chair, while meanwhile Gwen managed to clear out enough a spot on his desk to hover and Ianto moved to stand just over Tosh's shoulder. "If they know we exist already, when they shouldn't, they should know about Abaddon and the Rift opening. They may even know about Jack already."

She shook her head. "That's a stretch. We haven't even reported it to Torchwood Two, and we should have done it two days ago. If anyone was going . No-one should know about Jack that's not in this room right now."

"And the Doctor," he reminded her almost softly. Almost, of course.

Finally she wasn't able to hold back a short laugh. "Owen, ten minutes ago, you were theorising that the Doctor might be trying to sabotage Harold Saxon's campaign. Now they're bosom buddies trading kidnapping secrets. Make up your mind: are they friends or enemies?"

Gwen snickered, not even bothering to try to hide it. "Neither and both," she commented cryptically under her breath with her head ducked, just barely loud enough for Tosh to hear. Owen shot her a concerned glance, a look weighted in promises that they were going to speak more when they were alone. It was almost tempting to try to eavesdrop on them whenever that conversation finally came around to happening, but that would be too much of an invasion. After the pendant and reading all their thoughts, she wanted to know as few deep, dark secrets of theirs as possible. If there was some reason why Gwen was talking like a loon and Owen was looking at her like he knew the reason but was hoping something like this wouldn't happen, then frankly she had no wish to know. The other woman glanced up, apparently telling Owen 'Later' without saying a word, just as she distinctly got the impression of 'Everything is okay' from the expression on her face when she met Tosh's eyes. "I think we can just meet with them in the shop upstairs. They'll understand the mess if they have to come downstairs. And I'd really like to lie down for a bit if that's okay by everyone, just till they get here. Are they flying over or driving?"

"Driving," Ianto answered. "They were already on their way when they called, but you still have an hour or so if you want to lie down."

"Good," Gwen agreed and nodded, already getting up and wandering over to the couch against one of the walls. She didn't have to look hard to see the worry on Owen's face as he watched her all but collapse down on the couch, eyes immediately going closed, like a switch had been flipped to off in her. She had never seen anyone fall asleep so quickly. Clearly that was why Owen was concerned; as a doctor, co-worker, ex-lover, and friend, it had to be worrisome.

"I am going to tidy up the upstairs office and put the 'Closed' sign up," Ianto stated, moving to head back upstairs. "If you need me, please use the mobile in case I step away from the main phone."

"Yeah, right, us needing you. That's a bloody great laugh." She didn't think Ianto heard Owen's muttered words. If he did, he gave no indication of it as he left the main level to go back upstairs. Slowly she turned back to the program sitting open on her desk still, eyeing her code manually a line at the time trying to locate any errors before she started on the next section. "How are you holding up yourself then, Tosh?"

"What?" she yelped, before promptly wishing she could take it back. She couldn't help still being a little shy around him sometimes. It was almost engrained into her DNA now. At least she always recovered quickly. "Oh, fine. I'm fine. A bit tired as well, but nothing as bad as poor Gwen there. These programs are taking up just so much of my time lately."

"You did say you'd finished the one, right?" Well, colour her shocked. He'd been paying attention to what she was saying after all. "The one to track the police and the media for anything on Jack?"

She nodded. "The Doctor as well, but yes."

"No chance you could also tap into U.N.I.T. frequencies, is there? They're rebuilt enough to keep tabs on aliens as well, aren't they?" And that as good as told that he still hadn't called Bambera. If he had spoken to the woman at all, he'd know that U.N.I.T. was rebuilding itself quite nicely - and much more quickly than Torchwood was. Supposedly they'd even built themselves some sort of airbase currently hovering over Northern Europe. Yeah, they were definitely getting back on their feet quite nicely.

"I can try, but Bambera won't like it. She might share the information freely if we asked properly. I don't fancy pissing off U.N.I.T." She glanced down at her keyboard like it could convince her whether to ask her questions or not. "Do you really think that the Doctor is going after Torchwood?" One of them slipped out without her meaning for it to, and she winced sharply, feeling the need to clarify further before he took offence. "I mean, Harriet Jones seemed convinced that he was a good guy, with the way she addressed him on the tele and the references to a Code Nine being the Doctor."

"That was before Canary Wharf though," he stepped in. "And if Gwen's right about the whole 'different bodies but same bloke' thing, as well as her time travel theory, then... then maybe he just found out about us. Plus remember: strong rumour has it that he turned on Harriet Jones because of us, because Torchwood One followed her order to fire on the Sycorax."

"That just doesn't sound like the Doctor I met though," she argued, carefully keeping her voice low as to not disturb Gwen. "I can't imagine that Doctor being involved in something like the massacre at Canary Wharf."

"Different face. Maybe he acts differently with every new face. Who the hell knows? He's an alien, Tosh. Don't try to apply human logic to them." He paused, looking at her a bit more closely. "If you don't think he's after us, even with him taking the remaining real leader of Torchwood, then why are you working so hard on tracking him down?"

"I want to ask him what's going on. I want to hear his explanation in his words. I want to know why he let nearly four hundred people - that we could confirm! - die in London, and others get yanked through Torchwood One's artificial rift in pieces." The words just kept tumbling out of her, and she took a deep breath to calm herself before speaking again. "It's never wise to make judgements on anyone - human or alien - without knowing all the facts. And besides, remember: didn't Jack say that there was more to the Doctor than is in all our files?"

The woman sent out by Harold Saxon was blonde and a bit on the willowy side. Owen was certain to like her on sight, Gwen figured a bit sleepily. At the moment she hated her. It felt like she'd just laid down when Tosh shook her awake to say the representative was here. Right now all she could say was the woman was dressed all in black, one of those smart but severe business suits that always managed to make her feel like under-dressed when she saw someone filling it out properly, no matter what Gwen herself may be wearing, and she looked like she'd never smiled a day in her life. The cop in her wanted to say she looked like she was the kind of person who had been too busy taking apart kittens and pulling the wings off insects to bother being a bully as a child.

She'd politely refused both tea and coffee, and she had yet to formally introduce herself. A quiet, more paranoid part of Gwen wondered if she was a robot, made up to look human. It sounded a bit science fiction, but then what was life at Torchwood if not a bit science fiction? She kept expecting someone in a red shirt to beam down or whatever, like on those old American sci-fi shows a friend of hers back in school had loved.

"I know," the woman began, "that Torchwood is stretched thin at the moment, but Mister Saxon requires your assistance on a matter of some importance. I'm certain you must have questions. I will do my best to answer them." She appeared to fidget slightly in the chair Ianto had produced from God knew where, but quickly she returned to the same straight-backed position she'd occupied since she took her seat. It looked like there was a rod shoved down her back.

"How do you know about Torchwood?" Owen fired off immediately, almost as soon as she'd finished speaking. And so much for her theory about Owen fancying her on sight, for him with a woman, that was bordering on flat out rudeness.

Evidentially it didn't startle her too badly. She barely more than twitched at the venom and calmly answered, "As you know, Mister Saxon was Minister of Defence before running for Prime Minister. While I am certain we are not supposed to know about Torchwood, rumour does travel. Unfortunately, the first we heard of you was... the Battle of Canary Wharf, the metal monsters filling the skies and in every home - and so many of your people dying." Oh, she was good. This strange woman had all the right words and all the right facial expressions, but her eyes were blank. Pretending empathy only really worked if your eyes could act as well as your face did. "We utilised some of Torchwood's technology salvaged by Harriet Jones to shoot the Racnoss out of the sky later that year."

Impressive little laundry list, she noted to herself, taking a sip from her own cup of coffee. She'd done her homework on them, at the very least.

"What are you after us to do?" The next question came from Tosh, and if she didn't have a mouthful of hot liquid, she might have nodded her approval and agreement. "We're not exactly a service for hire." She cracked a nervous smile, which usually meant she was about to try to be a little funny. "And I'm sorry, but I'd be rubbish at babysitting the Prime Minister."

She had to smile at the comment, giving Tosh that expression as a silent form of solidarity, especially when the blonde didn't even so much as twitch her lips. Yeah, she was definitely not liking her. "Thankfully, then, we don't need Torchwood to guard the Prime Minister. There is an alien menace threatening this planet. It may not have plans of world domination, but it clearly homicidal. We've captured images of three of them so far, and we have reports of at least twenty dead to date. We cannot deal with this threat, as we can't cross international borders. Torchwood is beyond the United Nations, though, and is more ideal to the situation than U.N.I.T. There's no need to alarm the planet to the existence of aliens yet, is there, and that's what U.N.I.T. would do, calling in entire brigades and attracting too much attention."

She was vaguely reminded of something Jack had said to her, one of her first days on the job. No, it had been before her first day. 'The twenty-first century is when it all changes, and you've got to be ready.' She'd gotten the feeling that Jack was working from some sort of mental countdown, so she had never asked when in the twenty-first century they needed to be ready. This might be too soon, though: the countdown couldn't have expired a lready. And she didn't think Jack's disappearance was enough to move the deadline forward. If it was, she might have to hit the Doctor herself: for someone that Harriet Jones billed in those reports she read last night as humanity's defender and he changed something like that, so it changed with Torchwood too crippled without their leader to fix it or at least ease it in, then he wasn't living up to his billing.

"I know Torchwood is running short-staffed still, with the disappearance of Torchwood Four and the overwhelming loss of life at Canary Wharf." Apparently the woman was too damned cruel or out of it to realise the effect her words were having on them. She hadn't been at Torchwood long enough to have even been to Torchwood One before its collapse, but apparently the other two of them had and they knew Ianto had lost his girlfriend to the Cybermen's conversion process. The woman probably also didn't know they'd all recently had wounds, old and new, dragged across the coals recently. Otherwise she wouldn't be talking so matter of factly about the death of four hundred people, some of who had been near and dear to some members of this team. If Ianto was a little closer, she'd lean over and try putting a comforting hand on his arm; as it was though, she had to settle for a sympathetic glance across the counter. "And I know you must still be reeling from the events of the last few months - the last week in particular - and be feeling a little lost without Captain Harkness."

"How do you know about Jack?" Owen was out of his seat, looking particularly murderous. She couldn't blame him. Just how close was the Ministry of Defence keeping an eye on them? For them to know about Jack, when they hadn't blabbed about it to anyone off the team, even taking care when discussing it mobilely to be in a fairly secluded place.

She barely blinked, and Gwen mentally adjusted her original idea from slightly sociopathic and out of it to just sociopathic. "After what happened to Harriet Jones when she went against the Doctor, we've made it a policy to keep up to date on his doings. I understand that, after Canary Wharf, Torchwood might want and would deserve first shot at him, but we are also interested in finding out what kind of alien he is, where he came from, and how he got here, as why as he is so eager to keep changing Earth's history."

"Do you think we have any way to catch him?" Ianto was leaning forward, apparently momentarily forget his utter perfect composure. "Torchwood One only got him by accident."

That finally got something that resembled in a smile in the way her teeth bared and little else. "Mister Saxon has a few ideas on the matter. Please, at least for now, leave the Doctor to us. We'll work out how to deal with him, if we accidentally happen to succeed in capturing him before your return. I know you're more than capable of eventually capturing him, but Mister Saxon has requested that as patriotic citizens of Great Britain and inhabitants of this planet, that you help us with this other alien menace."

Simultaneously, Owen and Toshiko asked "What is it?" and & quot;Where is it?", respectively.

Leaning down, the woman opened her brief case and produced a set of photos, handing them over to Owen. Gwen was actually able to watch him go pale before he bypassed Tosh to hand the images over to her. And in turn, she was able to feel the blood drain from her own face as well. The images captured on the pages before her could only be of the same breed as the alien that had just dealt with downstairs. The body structure and features were almost identical, but this one was different in two major ways: it lacked the red colouration points theirs had had, and it was at least a metre taller. Maybe Owen's theory about it being an adolescent were correct, in which case these were the adults.

If their alien had been an child of that species and these were adults, that might explain the increased body count. Just how far international were they talking, she had to wonder, though. "Where are they?" she croaked out a repeat of Tosh's question.

"Nepal," the blonde answered. "In the Himalayas. Not too far from Kathmandu, to be exact. You see why we cannot allow U.N.I.T. to become involved; it's just too close to political hotbeds and who knows what the Americans might make of that?" She glanced at each of them, her face conveying utter hope while her eyes remained distressingly dark and empty. "Will you take the assignment?"

They glanced among themselves, silently communicating as months of working closely together had taught them. Finally Owen spoke up for all of them. "We'll help you out with this, but..." She raised an eyebrow, apparently at the idea of a stipulation. "It looks like the Doctor took Jack, Captain Jack Harkness, the leader of Torchwood. Kidnapped him right out from under us might be a better way to put it. If Jack is still with the Doctor, he might be being held against his will. If you manage to get the Doctor before we're back, could you send Jack our way?"

She smiled, and it chilled Gwen's bones. "Don't worry. We'll handle it all for you."

23 July 2007

And an appearance by The Sinister Woman. (Hey! I'm just going by what the end credits call her!)

Hits are up to 1988 at the last time I checked, and I got a lovely fun review on the previous chapter. And hey, for that matter, one of my bosses (sort of) is also reading this. I think it's all utterly cool. Thanks for all the hits - and the ice cream in advance! Back to the grindstone after some sleep. I might have to take 01 August off as a 'catch up on sleep' day.

Also, tomorrow I will go back through and fix all the places where FFnet went screwy on my formatting.

Thanks again for the read!


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