VIVA TORCHWOOD - Chapter 7
Written by Doreen Freitag
Translated by Birte Schieder
‘Planet Earth’ was breathtaking. It looked like a giant ring-shaped space ship and it was standing on several crooked stilts. The ball-like Death Star protruded from it. The entrance of the hotel looked like the lowered loading platform to E.T.'s space ship and an X-Wing starfighter hovered above it. One restaurant was called ‘Nostromo’, which made Catherine shiver. She really didn't want to know what was on their menu.
Jack drove the car to the backside of the hotel and parked the van next to one of the delivery entrances that was situated between two of the stilts.
Catherine was already in her place and had opened the hologram map of the glove. ‘Can you see Gwen?’ Rex asked her over his shoulder.
‘As far as I can tell she should be in the very top of the Death Star,’ Catherine said with a disheartened undertone.
‘Great, so we'll meet the emperor himself up there,’ Rex grumbled.
‘Okay, let's go,’ Jack said and jumped out of the car. ‘We'll enter the space ship via hangar E. It would be very helpful if you could later guide us our way out of the ship through there, Cathy.’
Catherine nodded and Jack opened the door next to her again and leaned inside. ‘Sweetheart, I'm counting on you. I know you can do that. You do want me back, right?’
‘Yes, Luke,’ Catherine replied, smiling, ‘please come back to me.’
‘That's weird,’ the Captain said. ‘I always thought I'd be more like Han Solo.’
‘Well I don't care,’ Catherine replied quietly. ‘I just want Jack Harkness back.’
Jack smiled at her. ‘And you'll have him back. You should know that you don't get rid of me that fast.’
He placed two fingers under her chin and pulled her head to him for a last kiss.
‘World War Two, stop making out and get here!’ Rex Matheson shouted from the outside.
The Captain winked at Catherine one last time and then closed the door from the outside. Catherine turned towards the monitor. Now she could see entrance E approaching from Jack's point of view. That made her smile. A few seconds later she would have seen herself kissing the man wearing the contact lenses.
The men had reached the building. Gate E consisted of a loading platform for cars and trucks and an entrance. This had to be where the hotel coordinated the laundry – there were dozens of wagons with fresh household linen in the huge room behind the door and the bed linen had the ‘Planet Earth’ logo printed on them.
A young lady sat behind a counter and thumbed through her magazine with a bored expression on her face. Rex and Jack approached her. The CIA agent showed her a police badge and said: ‘Good evening. We’re investigating the laundry theft from the day before yesterday. Could you tell us where we can find the administration?’
The woman didn’t look like she was really thinking about the matter. Her eyes showed a lack of interest when she had heard the word ‘administration’. Her hand vaguely showed Rex and Jack the way to a hallway behind the room and she muttered: ‘The elevator’s back there. Second floor.’
‘Thanks a lot, Miss Johnston,’ Jack said after glancing at her name badge. She looked up, surprised, and when she met the Captain’s eyes, she suddenly seemed interested again. Apparently Jack grinned at her because she smiled back at him coyly.
When Jack followed Rex into the hallway, Catherine sent him a message through the contact lenses: ‘Careful. I see everything.’ She also could have told him via the headset, but she thought it was better to tell him via the lenses. The Captain’s answer was an amusedly smile.
Rex looked around and for a second he seemed puzzled, then he just shook his head in an annoyed manner. ‘Creep in somewhere with you without attracting attention – that’s nearly impossible.’
Catherine was looking at the map where she could see many red dots. Unfortunately, the image didn’t show the area around Jack and Rex. Therefore, she could only roughly tell where the Weevils were. Rex had taken the second coded chip so she could see where the two men had to be.
‘I think you’re approaching two of our friends,’ Catherine said, but wasn’t really sure. The next second she could already see how Jack and Rex had run around the corner and suddenly were face to face with two Weevils. When they saw the intruders, they screamed and attacked Jack and Rex immediately. Rex shot into one of the Weevil’s legs; the other one attacked Jack before he had even had the chance to pull his weapon.
‘Oh God, I’ve missed this!’ the Captain shouted while he wrestled the Weevil. Suddenly he pulled a small spray out of his pocket and sprayed right into the monster’s face. The creature screamed and fell onto his knees. Jack grabbed its arms, wrapped a metal band around its wrists and pulled the ends together so they could form an inseparable ring. He then did the same with the Weevil’s feet.
‘Ready for transportation, sir,’ he reported to Rex Matheson and saluted.
Rex stared at him. ‘Well sometimes you do surprise me, Jack.’
‘Be prepared. Most of the time I’ve got an ace up my sleeve,’ the Captain replied and started to move the Weevil to one of the laundry wagons. The CIA agent helped him to handcuff the other Weevil and then throw both of them into the wagon. They then moved the wagon to a linen room and locked it from the outside.
‘Cathy, you need to think of something. Next time, we need to know that we’ll meet Weevils before they’re face to face with us!’ Jack said, breathing heavily and leaning at the wall next to the door.
‘They’ve recognised us,’ Rex said when they waited for the elevator to arrive. ‘Apparently Hank and Spikey have given them personal descriptions of each of us.”
‘Here,’ Jack said and handed him a spray and a handful of metal bands. ‘I found them in my suitcase.’
The elevator arrived and the two men entered it.
Meanwhile, Catherine had connected her laptop with the part of the hotel’s computer system that was accessible for her and opened up a floor plan on the second monitor.
‘And now?’ Rex asked.
‘Go to the first floor,’ Catherine said. ‘There you should find a passage about 50 metres left of you.’
While the men entered the elevator, Catherine studied the hologram map. If there only was a way to coordinate the positioning data with the floor plan!
She carefully examined the glove. There was a small dent at the barrel band. Could that be a link? Someone must have programmed that thing somewhere. Of course the connection could also be wireless, but Catherine hoped that the alien designers and programmers stuck to the basics.
‘Okay,’ she said quietly, ‘there’s an access point so I should be able to get into the system somehow.’
‘What did you say?’ Jack asked, observing the door in front of him.
‘Nothing, I’m thinking,’ Catherine replied, distracted by her computer.
‘Think faster, gal, we’ve reached the first floor,’ Rex said impatiently.
The door opened. The floor in front of them was empty and so the men headed left, like Catherine had told them.
Catherine knew that what she was about to do now was complete nonsense, but she had always been of the opinion that you should at least try everything.
She pulled her purse that was lying on the backseat over to her and foraged in it. After five endless seconds she finally found what she was looking for. She pulled out a cable that was about fifty centimetres long and that had several adapter plugs at each end. That cable was nearly twenty years old and Catherine had got it from her former instructor. It had become some kind of lucky charm for her over the years and helped her in many different situations. For that reason it was always somewhere in her bag. You never know when you need to connect two things.
And Catherine was really glad about that fact now. She had to link alien technology with a terrestrial system.
One glance at the monitor told her that Jack and Rex had just reached the passage. The hologram showed red dots close to them.
‘Be careful! It’s flashing everywhere around you.’
‘Tell us something we don’t know, Cathy!’ The Captain replied and Catherine could now also hear impatience in his voice.
She plugged a fitting adapter into the laptop. Then she observed the glove again. She only had one try because only one adapter on her cable was small and narrow enough to fit.
‘Open sesame,” she muttered and plugged the cable into the glove’s port. Catherine felt like the glove literally absorbed the plug. She couldn’t tell exactly but it looked like the port changed to fit to the adapter. For one moment, nothing happened. Then the hologram flickered and her computer started to sweep. Followed by a collapse of the hologram map.
‘Damn it!’ she shouted.
‘What? What’s going on?’ Jack hissed. ‘I can’t see the cursor in the contact lenses any more. It’s as if you were offline.’
‘I don’t know Jack. I’ve connected the glove to the computer and…’
‘You did what?’ Rex shouted. ‘Have you gone mad?’
Catherine was about to wish she were somewhere else, far away from the two men, when the hologram map came back online.
It looked different than before. She could see the entire floor plan with all of the red dots through Jack’s eyes.
‘Honey, I don’t know how you did that, but you’re a genius.’ Jack Harkness was stunned.
‘Can you see that, too?’ Catherine said and almost didn’t believe him.
‘What? What can you see, Jack?’ Rex wanted to know impatiently.
‘The glove extracted all of the data from our computer and combined it to one image,’ Catherine answered on behalf of the Captain.
‘Now I can see exactly where we’ll meet Weevils and where we won’t,’ Jack explained. ‘You’re a blue dot next to me and Gwen is on the top floor of the casino.’
‘Great,’ Rex said. ‘Well, then don’t forget to tell me as well.’
‘Cathy, remember to tell Rex all of the necessary information in case I’m distracted,’ Jack said. ‘And by the way: excellent job! I knew you were the right one for this job.’
Catherine took a deep breath to control herself. Every compliment her boss made her felt like an invisible kiss to her.
Jack and Rex now moved forward much faster. The Captain could lead the way himself and avoided the areas where he could see Weevils.
They had reached the Death Star and could hear busy pings, buzzing and muttering.
‘Looks like we need to go through there,’ Jack realised. ‘The staircase on the outside is filled with Weevils. Only inside of the casino there are stairs that lead up. But we need to be prepared to find human guards up there.’
‘Okay, let the games begin,’ Rex said, opening up the door leading to the casino and stopped, overwhelmed of what he saw in front of him.
You could almost see the entire globe from the inside. Several levels with different kinds of games and gambling machines were built around a centre pillar made out of glass, containing an elevator and a staircase. The architect had used glass everywhere possible to keep the transparent character. There were areas with blinking slot machines and others with table-top games. Around the centre pillar they had built a huge roulette wheel with many tables around it.
All of the casino’s interior was adapted to a star ship’s command bridge. Also, everywhere was something that blinked and there were light effects and holograms to complete the impression. Small R2-D2 robots drove around and sold chips to the numerous visitors. The employees working at the tables were in costumes so you really had the impression of being on an intergalactic space station.
‘Wow,’ the Captain said, ‘that’s a wonderland of memories. John Hart surely would love this. Well, I suppose he already knows about this.’
An R2-D2 approached them. ‘Would you like to change coins?’ he asked.
Rex leaned down to him. ‘No thanks. Is your friend C3PO here as well?’
When the robot didn’t answer but turn away from Rex as soon as he heard the word ‘no’, the CIA stood up again. The Captain must have given him a strange look because he said: ‘What? I’ve even been in a Star Wars fan club!’
Jack hesitated for a moment, then he laughed and patted on Rex’s shoulder.
‘I understand that. We’ve all been through that. I’ve always been into Luke Skywalker. And you?’
Rex rolled his eyes and turned away from Jack, then stepped further into the hall. Jack was right on his heels.
Catherine saw how Jack scanned the room with every step he made. She knew that from now on she could be sure he saw every single move in the room – even if he didn’t show interest in anything that was going on around him.
The men reached the roulette tables. A young man in a Star Trek costume was the croupier and with his ochre shirt that had the symbol of the Starfleet printed on it he looked just like a young James Kirk.
In Catherine’s eyes, Jack glanced at the hotel employee for a bit too long. She narrowed her eyes to slits when the young man looked up and showed an interestedly smile.
Catherine was about to cough slightly when Captain Jack Harkness walked past Captain James T. Kirk, grabbing his shoulder and whispering: ‘Sorry, but I’m happily spoken for.’
For a short moment, Catherine couldn’t think properly anymore. What Jack had just said, had attracted her full attention. Until that moment, it hadn’t been clear to her whether Jack had just heavily flirted with her or not but this statement showed the opposite. Did she really win the Captain’s heart?
‘I know you’re smiling,’ she could hear the Captain say. And then she really laughed.
‘I think Han Solo is right for you,’ she messaged him. ‘Now go and finally rescue Princess Leia!’
Rex and Jack had reached the circular stairs around the elevator and started climbing them. There was a door to the different areas on each floor. When they had reached the last of the public floors, they saw that the rest of the stairs had been cordoned off and there was a sign that read ‘private’. From here on, the walls also weren’t made of glass any more so the staircase wasn’t visible from the outside.
‘Well, we’re here for private business,’ Rex said dryly and climbed over the barrier.
One floor later they ran into two guards who looked at them with a cloudy expression on their faces.
‘This area is not open to visitors of the casino,’ one of them said, looking slightly more friendly than the other one.
Rex showed them the coding chip. ‘We’re from Parker Dam. We need to talk to the boss. About where to send the Vidal Junction consignments from now on.’
The chip seemed to be enough of verification. The two guards stepped aside and let Jack and Rex past. This time, Jack didn’t glance at them closer – Catherine knew that he didn’t want to push his luck.
Rex and Jack reached the top of the staircase. They could see a small hallway through a glass door from there.
‘Looks like this time I had an ace up my sleeve,’ Rex said amusedly. ‘But it seems like they don’t tell everyone everything. The Weevils have recognised us – the guards there didn’t have a clue. They must have thought that no one can pass the monsters anyway. At least this shows us that the families aren’t yet as organised as they have been. What do we do now? Shoot our way through there?’
‘I don’t think there’s too many of them up here,’ Jack replied. ‘I can only see one bigger room on the floor plan that this hallway leads to. And three smaller rooms. Gwen’s signal is coming from the one on the right, after a corner. Let’s try to get through there. If we encounter problems there, we can still try and shoot our way through there, like you said.’
‘Is there also a plan C?’
‘Yes, but I won’t tell you yet.’
Rex squinted his eyes in a sceptical manner, but didn’t say anything else. He pulled his weapon and opened the door to the hallway.
Jack had also pulled his weapon and the two men entered the emperor’s command centre. In contrast to the area downstairs, the interior looked very exclusive and chic. Every sound was absorbed by wood panelling on the walls and a thick carpet.
They could see no one and hear nothing. Catherine observed how Jack scanned every corner of the hallway and she knew that he was searching for surveillance cameras. But there were none and that was a mystery to her, as well as to him.
The two men carefully turned right and soon reached the corner with the room containing Gwen’s signal. They got in position to storm the room and on Jack’s signal they jumped around the corner simultaneously.
Two systematic shots into their legs from the guards who had already waited for them later, they fell to the floor. Catherine screamed in shock when she saw the floor approaching through Jack’s eyes as he fell down. Next to him she could also see Rex falling to the floor.
‘Ah, damn it,’ the CIA agent yelled in pain and grabbed his bleeding lower leg. ‘They’re more organised than we thought.’
Jack must have been in pain as well, but he already scanned the hallway again. There were two guards standing in front of them, still pointing their guns at Rex and him. Steps were approaching from behind them. A man wearing a dark tuxedo and a woman looking like an Amazon stopped next to them and pushed the guards away.
‘Get up!’ the woman shouted and now pointed a gun at them herself. To Catherine’s surprise, Jack and Rex indeed got to their feet. If she had such a wound on her leg, she wouldn’t have been able to stand up.
The man wearing the tux approached them and held out one hand. ‘The chip,’ he said brusquely. Rex pulled the coding card out of his pocket, sighing, and handed it over, a cloudy expression on his face.
‘Now come along,’ the Amazon said and guided the group into the big main room of this floor. The two armed guards followed her.