A New Age Dawns
Chapter Thirteen
by Apollymi 

Series: Torchwood
Pairing: General
Rating: 15
Word Count: 3430
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.

"Well, it's not half cold."

She fixed Owen with a dark glare. "After all the complaining last time we left Cardiff, I never thought I'd hear you say something like that."

"Well, it's not exactly home, but it's definitely not the bloody Welsh countryside. Less of that horrible smelling grass stuff for starters, and the locals seem less likely to try to kill, skin, disembowel, and eat us, but that's just my first impression. They've yet to disprove it though; that's always good."

Out of the corner of her eyes, she noted Tosh and Ianto were beginning to look a bit green, and Tosh went as far as to set her food back down. That wasn't exactly something she wanted so graphic a reminder of either, and she hadn't had half the experience those two had at the hands of those wretched cannibals either. She hadn't been able to eat meat for a week afterwards, after hearing that horrid man comparing Ianto to veal, after all, and frankly, she had actually thrown up on Rhys for even mentioning meat on the very first day after she'd come home.

"Thank you, Owen." It might be her imagination or Ianto's voice might be shaking just slightly. Amazing: Tosh mentioning a friend getting hepatitis off roadside burgers didn't phase him, but bringing back up the cannibals, now that definitely got a reaction. Not a pleasant one either, but she hadn't really been expecting one. "Now I won't be able to look at anyone without wondering if they mean to eat me."

"Probably get a better meal of you than me, mate. They would probably think I'm a bit too stringy to be a good meal." How odd. She actually couldn't tell from Owen's voice if he was being sarcastic, cruel, or if this was some sort of bloke thing. A glance over at Tosh showed the Asian woman wore an almost identical puzzled expression to the one she felt on her own face.

"You shouldn't belittle yourself, Owen. All the running you field people do, you should be nice and lean." Jesus Christ, it was a bloke thing. It was some sort of weird bloke bonding ritual designed to be incomprehensible to females and disgusting to the population in general. She knew to expect weird things like that from Owen, but Ianto... She'd have never thought in a million years he would join in on something like this. Watch from the sidelines and offer little one line comments, perhaps, since he'd done things like that before on the very rare occasion, but actually get into a pissing contest over who would be a better meal for cannibals with Owen? Perish the thought.

"Still, they'd get a better meal off you. If we get cannibals again, you should cover yourself in ketchup and make yourself an appealing target so the rest of us can get away."

"How about we cover the pair of you in ketchup and let you both be the sacrificial lambs so Gwen and I can get away? We'll promise to remember your sacrifice in the annals of Torchwood for at least, say, ten minutes." Tosh offered with a smile. She felt herself grinning as well, if only because the others were as well. It felt good to be able to joke and laugh with them. After all, it had been the lack of someone to talk about her work problems with that had driven her into Owen's bed, at least partially, so if there was an opportunity for them all to relax and do things like this as a team from here on out, that would be a huge relief for her. For all of them, she suspected, and maybe even Jack as well. They were a fairly small team, after all; there was no reason one person to be excluded, as Ianto had once been and Jack sometimes was.

Still, this was a bit like a holiday. Actually, no, in fact, it was a lot like a holiday, and strange besides that. After all, they had been here for a very long night and part of a day, checking out the area as best they could, given that their equipment tended not to work too well in the cold beyond their hotel rooms, and yet they had still managed not to see any sign of the aliens they had come here after. Either the one in Cardiff was a terrible example of these creatures' stealth, holding true to their adolescent theory, or the creatures had moved on to a new locale with possibly better weather, or they were gone in some other manner... or worse of all, they had never existed. She wasn't really fond of the last theory: it would mean they were here without a purpose. She was giving it one more day of searching before she made her thoughts on the matter abundantly clear.

And the last theory also brought another dark thought chasing on its tail: if someone was sending them off on a merry chase, then who? The information had come from the office of Harold Saxon himself, and something in her prevented her from thinking he would be willing to lie to them for something as dangerous as this. For what purpose would he do something like that anyway? Why get one of the only forces in the United Kingdom with the know-how to fight aliens out of the way, out of the country even, chasing aliens that apparently only existed on or near the Cardiff Rift? No, even Harriet Jones she could believe would betray them like this, but not Harry Saxon. Not a chance. But that could mean someone in Mister Saxon's staff was corrupt...

But speaking of Harry Saxon... "Tosh?" That caught their attention, turning it back to her. "Isn't it about time for the Prime Minister's first speech?" She was interested in seeing it. In light of everything that was happening right now, he should have something to say that might pique their interests. And Mister Saxon was quite bright, after all, being the man behind the Archangel Network: he might even have something to say, in a veiled way that might pertain to what they were doing.

"You actually want to hear a politician give a speech?" Owen sounded derisive, but she would note that he was moving towards the television, trying to see if he could pick up the news in a language they would understand. They had a few nifty U.N.I.T. gadgets with them, one of which was at least portable enough for them to carry with them and get a general translation of what people wearing saying (About like running a foreign language through Babelfish, Owen had cynically declared, and frankly, none of them could disagree), but it didn't work worth a damn on televisions. And even if it did, they only had the one and the screen was tiny, designed more for ease of portability than several people around it trying to all read what it was saying at once.

The lack of a clear station to see what they wanted to apparently frustrated Owen, given the hearty slap he gave the television and give it a few choice words regarding what he thought of it. "I'm getting a clear streaming feed here!" Tosh announced though, saving the day via laptop again. Ianto quickly rearranged the chairs and they dropped down in front of the desk as she finished setting up the visuals, muttering to herself as she completed the commands necessary to keep it running off a satellite link she had set up on the flight over.

Poor Toshiko, on that flight. She had never realised the other woman was a bit afraid of flying, but once they were in the air and somewhere over France, she'd figured it out quickly. She had never seen anyone cling to a seat with such a white-knuckled grip since the last time a designated driver got pissed along with everyone else and conveniently forgot to mention that little fact till the car was in motion. They had come up with things to talk about, discussing their ideas on the aliens that they simply could not find and what to expect, but she suspected Tosh had still spent a lot of that flight thinking of everything except that they were thousands of miles above the ground. Who knew what she had come up with in that time?

When the announcer's voice filled the small room that she and Tosh were sharing, she almost had to smile. It was good to have a touch of home, especially here on what was almost a working holiday. "Mister Saxon has returned from the palace and is greeting the crowds inside Saxon Headquarters."

"Bit like being at home, isn't it?" she commented in the lull as the new Prime Minister smiled to the assembled people.

"Nah, screen's too small." She quickly balled up a piece of paper from the complimentary writing pad and tossed it past Ianto to hit him on the head.

"I'd be watching it at the Hub on the bigger screens in the conference room myself." She almost gaped to hear that come from Ianto.

"And the phones would be working, and there would be pizza on the way," Owen finished. "And decent beer."

"Nutters, the both of you," she muttered under her breath.

"Children... Do I need to separate all three of you?" She couldn't resist grinning at Tosh for the dry yet long-suffering comment. It had been just too perfect. And just a bit better than watching Saxon kiss his wife on the screen; Lucy Saxon had always looked just a bit too pretty and doll-like for her tastes.

Mister Saxon stepped down a few more steps from the rest of his entourage and spoke, the very tone of his voice one of confidence, the air of someone who believed in what he was saying. It was also one of a friend confiding in another, and she figured that was what she had liked so much about it from the beginning. No matter what he was saying or who he was saying it to, it always sounded like he was talking to her in particular and no-one else. "This country has been sick. This country needs healing." She found herself nodding in agreement, and if she wasn't mistaken, she wasn't the only one in the room doing so. "This country needs medicine. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that what this country really needs right now is a doctor."

He was smiling at the screen, but she couldn't make herself pay attention to it. She was just in too much shock, and again, she wasn't the only one. Of course, though, Owen was the first to recover his ability to speak. "He just called him out. Mister Saxon just called the Doctor out."

She found her own voice next, also perhaps no surprise. "He just called the Doctor out on television. All over the world... He just called the Doctor out for the world to see."

"You saw that, right?" Owen continued as if she hadn't even spoken. He turned to stare briefly at each of them as he spoke. "He just did what I think he did, didn't he?" If she didn't know, she would think he was a kid at Christmas, with how brightly his eyes were shining, like Father Christmas had just brought him the toy he had always wanted. If he wasn't a full-grown man who happened to also be her ex, it might have actually been cute.

"Do you have a crush on him now or something?" Tosh piped up, switching off the feed when it was clear there was to be nothing more at the moment. Her voice was just a bit softer and shakier than Gwen had heard it in a while. And why not? After all, their brand new Prime Minister had just issued a challenge to the alien described in such detail in their original charter and hundreds of documents since. Easily hundreds, maybe more. The charter and all subsequent documents about the Doctor and Rose Tyler penned by Queen Victoria and her few surviving entourage - or rather photocopies of those original missives - had been among the materials she had taken with her to her hotel room not that long ago: hard to believe it had only been the night before last. It was even harder to believe Jack had been gone only three days. What was hardest of all to fathom, though, was that they were still alive; she would have never thought they would have made it this long running alone. As many times as Jack had bailed their arses out of sticky situations before, after all...

"Well, maybe I do now." She nearly got whiplash whipping her head back around to stare wide-eyed at Owen. "I mean, that takes... I mean... I mean, the man just basically told the Doctor 'here I am, come and get me' - all over the tele! I don't think anyone has ever had that much nerve in the history of the fucking planet. I hope someone back home recorded that: I'm going to have to watch that again."

She laughed as he reached for his phone and started putting in numbers and shook her head in a bit of disbelief. "You are just so sweet, Owen."

"Like a schoolboy with his first crush." She resisted the urge to pat Tosh on the back for that one. As far as she was concerned, it was a bit masterful. He flipped them off, hanging up his phone without saying a word, and she felt her face fall even as she saw the same thing happening to both Tosh and Ianto. Toshiko was the one to ask the question on the rest of their minds, though. "The phones are still down?"

He tossed it a bit roughly on the desk, so that it skittered a bit, bumping against the side of the laptop. "So much for Archangel being worldwide. Still doesn't work in bumfuck Nepal or the damn Welsh countryside. Can't call out and no calls are coming in. Just the damn 'your network is being upgraded, please continued to be patient' message. I'd like to find whoever recorded that damn message and shoot them. No, tie them up and make them listen to it for hours."

Impressive. She wasn't overly fond of that message herself, but then she hadn't kept trying to get through like Owen had. She had to wonder if there was someone back there Owen was worried about or if he was just be stubborn. If it were anyone else, she would definitely choose the former, without hesitation. It was Owen, though, and she knew Owen so well. It could very well be either option, but if she had to place bets one of the two, she'd go with the second. Not that she was ruling out the other, but the latter just seemed so much more likely with him. Though Owen did seem to have a women in every bar, for a time herself included, he just didn't get attached enough to warrant this much annoyance. It had to be stubbornness.

"Look," Ianto stepped in, his voice soothing, "we're all a little stressed. It's been a trying week, and none of us have gotten any sleep at least twenty-six hours. After all, we got off the plane, checked in and dropped our belongings off, and went straight to searching for these aliens. A bit of sleep wouldn't be a bad thing right now, for us all. Maybe if we look at this in a few hours with a fresher eye, we'll find something we missed. Some vital clue, perhaps."

Tosh nodded, obviously leaping on the suggestion. "That sounds like a good idea, Ianto. We could do with some sleep. I'm going to leave the laptop running in case anything else important comes through."

She hopped into the conversation, grinning as broadly as she could stand to. She hadn't even felt the exhaustion till Ianto brought it up. She'd barely slept at the hotel as it was - maybe an hour to two, three tops, between finishing up her analysis (a copy of which had in theory been sent back to London with Mister Saxon's assistant) and getting up to run photocopies of said analysis - and suddenly the exhaustion was overwhelming. All she wanted to do was sleep. "Now, scoot, boys. This is the girls' room."

She didn't even wait for them to leave, instead dropping down still fully clothed on the small bed on the right side of the room. She faintly heard the scraping of chairs over thin carpeting, but that was about the extent of it before the darkness swam up to swallow her.

"She's asleep already?" Ianto sounded a bit surprised. Personally Tosh wasn't in the least. From what she was gathering from Owen's face, he wasn't either. This had apparently been the needed impetus for his temper to wane a bit. They had all had a stressful few days. No, more than a stressful set of days: a stressful few weeks, maybe even months. It had been a bit non-stop, after all.

Still she shrugged out her thoughts on the matter. "We have all been driving on empty for a bit now. Collapsing sooner or later was inevitable."

Owen yawned broadly, stretching as much as his injury would allow. "I have to say I think she has a marvellous idea. I think I'm going to do the same." And he was out the door, heading to the adjoining room he and Ianto had been assigned before anyone else could put in another word to him.

Ianto winced slightly. She had to say she felt a bit embarrassed as well, the two of them the only ones still conscious and/or in the room. Those two had both been pushing themselves too hard, and while she had noted it, she had done nothing about the situation. She had let them keep pushing themselves till, like now, they dropped. Well, that settled it: she would make a terrible leader if Jack didn't come back soon. And for now all she could hope was that nothing happened in the next few hours.

"We'll be next door, I suppose then," he said softly, obviously trying not to wake Gwen up, unlike Owen. Of course, Owen would know how deep a sleeper Gwen may or may not be. The other possibility was that he was also tired and just didn't give a damn. "The room to the right of this one. Just knock on the wall if anything comes up."

"Of course. Sleep well, Ianto." She smiled a bit tiredly at him as he left the room, closing the door with a quiet click.

She was nearly as exhausted as he had seemed to be. The day before had been nerve-racking, from the heightened fear - no, of absolute terror - that the alien had induced in her which had left her afraid of her own team-mates while it had her in its grasp, to finding out there was an alien in their basement that had made her forget all about her apparently seeing it, to the woman from Harold Saxon's office showing with this assignment, to the plane trip, to searching an unfamiliar area for pitch black coloured aliens. She did wish they had had the time to properly examine the alien before they had been sent off here; abilities like it seemed to possess could be a great asset to Torchwood if utilised properly. A bit like the invisible lift, but perhaps something that did not just randomly appear out of nowhere during the immediate aftermath of the earthquake a few years ago.

She couldn't tell if it was the exhaustion catching up with them all, but they all seemed a bit off lately. Maybe it was a combination of the stress they were all under suddenly multiplying, or the disappearance - no, apparent kidnapping, to be honest - of their leader at a time when they definitely needed him most, or the odd circumstances and place they now found themselves in, but they all were off their game, just a tiny bit, as of late. It was distressing, to say the least.

As it stood, she just hoped they survived to make it home and find Jack. Surely that wasn't too much to ask.

...Was it?

[ Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | Epilogue ]