Mitchell Part 4 – Patience
By DJ Forrest
Major Hilary Cranthorpe of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce issued orders to close all access routes in and out of the base, and locate the intruders. He rode the jeep towards the hangar containing the Arakian Battle Cruiser just as the large double doors blew open and the cruiser loomed out, it’s thrusters hovering at six feet off the ground, blowing detritus towards the soldiers. Cranthorpe shielded his eyes as the ship edged out a little unsteady at first. Baffled that the hunk of metal with the damaged wing could even take off, he was even more astounded when the damaged wing appeared secured and ready to operate.
“MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T LEAVE THE BASE.” He bellowed to his Sergeant, a young man with three years’ service, who saluted him before issuing further instructions. Soldiers leapt from vehicles and manned their stations, weapons drawn, the Sergeant bellowed orders to those safely inside the ship.
“HALT, DO NOT ATTEMPT TO LEAVE THE BASE OR THE SHIP WILL BE DESTROYED!”
Armoured vehicles moved into place, all weapons targeted at the battle cruiser. Clark Goodson stared at the monitor displaying several enemy sightings, graphed and identified each unit with enough fire power to take down the ship, still not fully protected by its force field.
“We’ve got trouble.” Clark announced, noting the flashing yellow bar across the screen, listing the amount of damage each armoured vehicle could inflict upon the ship.
“Time we weren’t here.” The old major growled. He flicked several levers, buttons and switches, turned two dials to the right hand side of Clark. “Computers online.” He smiled darkly, his finger hovering over the computer switch.
“THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING. THIS SHIP WILL BE DESTROYED IF YOU DO NOT RETURN TO THE HANGAR.”
The Sergeant gripped the megaphone nervously, the ship showed no intentions of backing down. He raised his right hand as a signal, and moistened his dry lips and looked back at Cranthorpe for the final decision.
Major Hilary Cranthorpe gave the nod, Sgt O’Halloran gave the signal by lowering his arm in a brisk movement.
Jack Harkness yelled in pain as the electrical surge ripped through his body, fired through his nerve endings and shocked his entire system as if he were lying on a bed of super charged electric eels. He thrashed and jerked, clenched and grimaced for the full 50 seconds that felt like 50 minutes, as the ship burst into life and a force field wrapped itself around the ship protecting it against the bombardment. Pushing through the barrier of soldiers, the ship tore through the battlement and out towards the horizon in a bolt of light leaving behind a wreckage of tanks and jeeps and injured and shocked men.
Mitchell heard and felt Jack’s pain and sucked in the air, pulling himself away from his mother’s hand, and the images of Arakia. He turned towards the door as the screaming penetrated his mind and he saw for himself, Jack writhing in agony in a floor below them.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO JACK? WHY IS HE STILL ONBOARD?” He strode towards the man with the crablike pincers for legs and slapped a hand on his shoulder to pull him around, but the old man was ready and caught Mitchell around the waist using one of his six legs to grasp hold of the young man and slam him hard against the wall that he’d been cuffed to previously. He felt the metal bumps and catches punch him in the back and groaned. But the man’s grip was still tight against his waist. He moved fast for an old man.
“I need him as much as I need you. How else are we to fly the ship?”
Mitchell didn’t understand. “A man who lives forever has many uses.” He explained, leaning back to the controls and using a free limb, pressed the green button on the control panel that brought up a screen, showing Jack slowly controlling the pain and agony through his body.
“What do you mean lives forever?”
“I would have thought he would have told you that. It seems he really was keeping you in the dark.”
“Jack can’t die. We don’t know how, but you can shoot him in the head, stab him through the heart and he’ll come back to life every single time.” Clark put in, glancing up only occasionally but rarely making eye contact.
Mitchell stared horrified at Jack. “You’re lying.”
“I’d like to show you that I’m not, but until we reach our destination, I’m afraid we need Jack alive. He operates the computerised system aboard this ship, without him, we would still be pressing buttons in the hangar. His body will last till we get to Arakia, after that, he’ll be fodder for the army below us.” The Major explained.
Clark glanced over curious. “I didn’t realise we had an army?”
“All in good time. Now steer us out of the Earth’s airspace.” The old man returned his attention to Mitchell, and released his grip, slightly. “The lies that man has told over the years, it’s a wonder you still trust him.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your father Porlicanthus. It was a terrible shame when he was killed. He was a good man, headstrong, and a great warrior.” The major spoke with compassion which Clark found surprising, having never heard him show compassion for any other living creature in the past. “Did Jack ever tell you how he died?”
“He told me he was killed after turning on the people he worked for. He became a wolf.” Mitchell replied, his eyes never leaving the monitor.
The old man pressed the intercom. “Good to see you’re awake at last. Captain Jack Harkness, tell me, how does it feel to be the most powerful man in the Universe?” He laughed at his own joke. Jack glowered, grimacing now and then as the nerves twitched and tensed, like the highest setting on a TENS machine.
“Oh just peachy! What do you want?” He growled and glared back seeing only the major on the screen directly across from him. He shifted slightly in the cradle he was housed in. For the first time since his incarceration he could actually feel his fingers....and toes.
“When were you going to tell the boy about his father and how he died?” the Major asked, his eyes as cold as steel, his mouth tilted in a twisted sneer.
“Don’t you think you should tell him the real truth, not the one you’ve been feeding him? Tell him Jack, tell him what really happened.”
“It’s not important any more, wherever we’re going I’ll not be coming back, the kid doesn’t need to know.”
“Oh but he does, don’t you?”
For the hours before the ship left Earth, Jack had followed the circuits through every ounce of the ship, there was a void of darkness within the bowels of the battle cruiser that he couldn’t make out, but as the data trickled through his brain filing details into folders and streaming before his eyes, he was aware that whatever was in the cargo hold was likely something heading for Arakia. He could see the destination plans before him. It bothered him that he could see this level of technology streaming through his mind and began questioning his own existence. Was this why he couldn’t account for two years of his life? Had the time agency fixed something inside of him to account for his ability to read data in this way? He was still human, right?
He’d decided too that as soon as the ship was out of the earth’s airspace he would detonate it, taking down everyone on board, he was after all powered into the mainframe of the ship. Without him, the ship was a dead duck. It wouldn’t function long without him. He hadn’t banked on the pain though when the ships thrusters kicked into action, he hadn’t expected the shocks to hurt so much, but he was also grateful to them. As beforehand, he could feel nothing from the waist down. Now he could feel every part of his body – although now that he could feel every sinew, nerve ending, tearing of muscle, tightness of skin, he really wished he couldn’t.
He bugged out while the old man spoke; he had long since grown tired of his chatter, always one sided and always manic. He was no different to the soldier back in the day when this ship had ploughed up farmland in the heart of the English countryside. As his mind scrutinised the blueprint, searching for the torpedo launchers, he saw a face in the monitor that broke his heart.
“So Jack, are you going to tell him the truth?” Jack couldn’t take his eyes from Mitchell as he studied the boys face, implored on him to not go looking for answers.
Mitchell stared at Jack, hoping.
“I see, well in that case, you leave me no alternative.” The major turned towards Mitchell. “Your father was killed because of what he was, not what he became. Your guardian, lover, was the man who put the bullet firmly in his chest. Isn’t that right Jack? The same man who imprisoned your mother in a tomb a mile below ground to keep her from ever seeing her son again. Well we have a news update Jack.” Jack saw another screen open up and saw a woman wave sweetly back to him, from her caged prison. He shot a look back to the major.
“No Jack. I’m the new king of Arakia, with my queen by my side and the boy in his rightful place, as Prince of Arakia, we will rule a new empire on the planet. Under my rule.”
“I repeat – you’re insane. Don’t listen to him Mitch, that’s not why he’s going back.”
Jack saw the glistening of a moist cheek and knew he’d broken the boy’s heart. It wouldn’t matter what way he dressed it up, he’d lost his trust, and he knew it.
The major saw it too and smiled inwardly. Before him was a boy who could be easily manipulated, could be shown the ways of a new world, could if he played his cards right, rule on the right hand side of a man who would take him under his wing. He released the boy from his grip and saw him sag.
“I’m sorry you had to find out that way, but better to find out now, I think. I will need you by my side when we land on Arakia. A brave new world.”
Mitchell was despondent, he felt no enthusiasm in the major’s new plans. He pushed away from the wall and stared at the blank screen where Jack had once looked at him, and sniffed.
“I’m going for a walk.”
Mitchell shot the major a look. The old man smiled. “There’s still a fire in you, just like your father.”
Mitchell’s heart was full of anger and it ached to release. He wanted to find Jack, if they weren’t heading out of Earth’s airspace he’d push open the doors and run till he could no longer run, but it was difficult being confined in a unit, where metal panelling and sliding doors and arched metal corridors fanned out along the levels of a battle cruiser he expected only to find at the hands of George Lucas. Every door was marked by a number, most were locked to him, but there were no keys, no buttons, a retina scanner operated several of the door locks, others slid open at the mere pressure of the floor mat in front of the door. Those he entered were mess quarters for the men who would normally operate a ship of this size. Bunks were along one row, pulled down from the wall and hung on chains, four in a row, six feet across. He pulled open drawers to inspect. In truth nothing was any different to that of Earth contents, cutlery, crockery, although not china or pottery, but a plastic of sorts that came with no stamp beneath it, and a light metal for cups and cutlery. There was a stove that as the hand was hovered over it, began to warm when a pot was placed on the rings. He felt hungry suddenly – it had been hours since he’d eaten. He rummaged in cupboards and opened jars and tins, shook out a few hard biscuits that almost broke a tooth. He took the pots off the stove. There was no food. He left the room and wandered to the next. Several doors along the left corridor down a metal set of steps, to where the engine room would be, he found Jack. He was secured by wires and cables that fed into his body, through large needles that pinned his heart and organs right down his left side. Behind his head as he edged closer while the man seemed to be unconscious or asleep, he saw the large needle inserted into the cerebral cortex.
Jack opened his eyes. For a moment he forgot where he was, till the pain kicked back in, as operations moved up on the bridge, and access to the computers were once again required. He studied Mitchell who was oblivious to him watching. The wiring had shaken the boy, hadn’t really done an awful lot for him either, other than kick start the healing process to his lower limbs.
“Hey.” He spoke, his voice dry and rasping. “I don’t suppose you brought any water with you?” He forced a smile, hoping to re-engage with Mitchell.
“No.” Then to justify it. “There’s no food at all.” Mitchell glanced down at the severe puncture marks in Jack’s body by the pins and gently stroked a hand over the bare flesh. Jack closed his eyes, the touch sending ripples through his body.
“Why did you lie to me?” Mitchell sniffed. “What were you scared that I’d do, leave?”
Jack opened his eyes and looked up at Mitchell. He found the strength to move his arm and reached out for Mitchell’s hand, touching it, feeling the warmth of the young skin. Mitchell pulled away.
“I did what I thought was best.”
“I had a right to know. You told me about Mom, to a point, but not about Dad, and you never stopped talking about how good a man he was. But not why you killed him.”
“He changed. He couldn’t control the power of the moon. He was angry, confused, always searching for the truth of his ancestry, but when the moon took him, he was uncontrollable, and I didn’t want you to know about that yet?”
“Because....” Jack sighed, watching the boy grow further and further from his grasp. “When you reach your 25th birthday, when the...”
“That’s in a few months.”
“Yeah.” Jack swallowed painfully. “When the planets align, you’ll transform from this beautiful human child before me into....” His voice pinched and his eyes glistened, he didn’t want to admit that what would happen, could change the boy forever.
Mitchell swallowed and picked up on Jack’s thoughts. “A werewolf!” Jack nodded.
“I’m sorry. I wanted you to have a normal enough life before that happened.”
“Normal! Stuck in a safe house, monitored 24/7, not allowed to leave the office for fear I’d eat someone?”
“No, that was because of these people, because of Skelagh, because of what you’d committed back in London. I couldn’t risk losing you, Mitch, I’m sorry I kept it from you, but I was trying to protect you.”
Mitchell snorted. “Well you’ve done a damn fine job of that. Look at where we are, Jack, on a ship bound for Arakia. Going home. Except, home is London, in a squalid bedsit with a wolf as a companion and Lexie. Not here, not with you, not with anyone I can trust. This is your fault.” He growled, stepping back towards Jack on the ‘bed.’ He snarled at him. “You, if you’d told me the truth, we wouldn’t be here. I don’t want to go back to Arakia. He doesn’t think I know but I know....I know what my destiny is if I go back.” He tore away from Jack into the shadows of the room, his stomach knotting up, tears falling, he sat and curled himself into the tightest ball and buried his head in his hands and cried quietly, unable to deal with much more.
Jack struggled in his bonds and felt the pins tear at his skin and the intensifying pain in his skull as he shifted his position. He could hear Mitchell and he wanted to wrap his arms around him and tell him it was all going to be okay but it wasn’t, and it never would again. Jack would die on the ship and all those within it would eventually die when they reached Arakia. If Jack was going to stop this, he had to act NOW!
Marley stared at the RAT that sat a few feet from her at the workstation. Gwen lay, drifting in and out of a restless sleep in Jack’s office. All avenue’s had been exhausted. The call to UNIT had to all intents and purposes sealed the fate of Mitchell and had in some way sealed the fate of all those onboard the space ship. A Hilary Cranthorpe had extremely pissed Gwen off during a confrontation at the Headquarters of UNIT four hours ago. Words had been thrown across at each person, the threat of Torchwood had gone down as if it were a trump card never used any more, an out of date warrant card. The Major had laughed in her face and ordered for her and Marley to be physically escorted from the base.
“There used to be a time when Torchwood was a name that people knew and respected. They called us when they needed help, when they had monsters in their basement, when there was nobody else who could deal...” Gwen had said, as they sat outside a service station on the return from England back to Wales. Marley felt for Gwen, a loyal employee of the Institute. Perhaps it was easier for Marley, who was undetectable she felt, unlike Gwen, with her record, and past with Torchwood, would she ever find work outside of the name. Would she want to? Would Torchwood be a name that was only mentioned around camp fires in years to come, or in myths and legends.
“Are you going to finish that?” Gwen asked, nodding to the half bag of fries beside Marley’s abandoned burger.
“No, take it.” Marley shifted her position in the driver’s seat and faced Gwen. “What are we going to do now?” She asked, toying with the straw in her large container of cola.
“We go back to Cardiff, back to base and we find a way of bringing them back safely.”
“But we don’t know where they are, or who has them.”
“No, but I know a woman on the UNIT payroll who might just be able to find out. Come on, finish up, we’ve got some work to do.”
That had been four hours ago. Marley got up and inspected the casing of the RAT. Earlier she’d inspected the details within the metal bot. She glanced over at Mitchell’s computer and switched it on. She’d already worked out his password and smiled. Searching through his folders she located the one in question and brought it up. It wasn’t under Games as she had expected it to be. She right clicked and followed the drop down menu with the cursor to the properties of the game, noted a few down on a scrap of paper, and routinely read through all the links connected to the game. It wasn’t a standard computer game. Someone had brought this in. Marley remembered that Mitchell had said it came from Clark’s computer. Opening up his files, using the back door on Mitchell’s computer, she unlocked the file that the game had originally belonged to. There was a worm, a link, and it led to...
Gwen opened her eyes as Marley stood in the doorway to Jack’s office.
“I think you need to see this.”
“The boy has been gone a long time, go see if he’s alright.” Skelagh instructed Clark.
“But won’t you need me here?”
“I flew this vessel here for more than fifty years, I’m pretty certain I can handle it on my own now.” He took his position, albeit difficult with six pincer legs. Clark glanced towards the secured prisoner in the cage and frowned. She saw him, and smiled but there was darkness behind her eyes, and he felt it deep within him. He left the room, quickly!
It was a new experience for Clark. He’d been on military vessels in his time but this was different, it smelt...different! There were no chattering men in the corridors, no usual sounds of engines and radios, no squad lounging on beds or having a coffee and chat during a break. There was nobody but those on the bridge and Jack near the engine room and what did the major say – an army below deck! He’d never heard of an army being boarded. With time on his hands, he idly searched for Mitchell, and looked into the rooms along the left corridor. He discovered the same as Mitchell, the retina scanner for the doors that were closed to him. So what was the ship hiding?
“Your dad was a Torchwood operative, I’ll never forget the first time he and I worked together. He had a temper, and boy could he punch hard!” Jack laughed, glancing occasionally towards the darkened areas of the room, where the boy quietly cried. “You’re a lot like him, you know. Hot headed, that same anger but there’s a difference with you.” He smiled as he heard the crying stop, and continued talking as he worked the needles from his body. “Your passion, like his, for others, your willingness to learn, your Dad was so consumed by the dark forces that often it was hard to break him from them. He never had the opportunities that you have, he was never allowed to grow up as human and live amongst them like you did. You’re a lot more compassionate to your fellow man. You care for people.” He saw Mitchell’s face silhouetted by the lights in the room. “He would have been so proud of you.”
“Pity he’s not here then to see me.”
“Your father made me promise that I never told you the truth of who you were or what you would become, until you’d learnt more about the human race. He knew you’d eventually change like he did, and he wanted, he HOPED you would have a better transition than he did. Mitchell, I was doing as your father asked.”
“By killing him?”
Jack thought a moment and sighed. “Yes. He knew he couldn’t change back, often when the moon took you, you become its slave and it owns you forever. His father, your grandfather, Caleb, wanted him to return to the tribe, to help over throw the human race but he chose to stand beside us in battle, but during the Super Moon cycle, it’s power was too strong and he couldn’t maintain that honour and loyalty towards us. He attacked and killed many people that night. I was instructed to kill him. I didn’t want to, but Mitchell you have to believe me, I had no choice.”
Mitchell stepped into the light. “How old was I then?”
“You were two maybe three years old.” Jack grimaced as he eased out the first needle.
“Did you stay with him till he died?”
“Yes. A few months before, when he knew the changes were becoming stronger, the need to remain in wolf form, he made me promise that if and when he changed, when the darkness consumed him, that I take you to safety and I look after you, to bring you up as my own. He also....he also made me promise that I was to be the one who pulled the final trigger, ended his life.” Tears fell as Jack spoke. “It broke my heart Mitchell. I loved him, like a brother, like a friend. We were so close, and yes, that close, but he was different to any lover I’d ever had, and believe me, I’ve had more than a few.” He smiled.
“I had no choice in my decisions to end his life and move you to the children’s home. A Torchwood operative with the history that I have, is always on the move, it’s often dangerous and I couldn’t risk you being put in any danger. Old man Greer gave you my name as a joke. But it allowed Wolf and Lexie to locate and look after you later on, when you ran away. But Mitchell, I am so sorry I couldn’t tell you about your life, but I swore an oath to protect and look after you and I’ve done that. And when we get out of here......I’ll make it right.” He groaned as another pin was released and for a moment he took a break. Blood leaked from the wound temporarily before sealing itself, healing from within.
Mitchell watched as Jack worked again on another pin to release himself. While upstairs, the locks that secured the Shalai in her confinement, and the door to the void space unlocked.
Clark stared out into the vastness of space from the porthole windows along the right hand corridor, tucked in an alcove where strategic viewpoints could be gathered on computers nearby. Before this excursion into the stars, the battle cruiser had been one of five ships in a battle for supremacy in the galaxy, sadly only this cruiser had survived, despite its crash landing on Earth. Clark couldn’t imagine a life in space – no atmosphere. It terrified him.
He heard a noise to his left and turned his head to see one of the secured doors slide open slowly. He stared in horror as he saw a black bony hand with long fingers and long clawed nails grip the door. His mouth dropped open when he saw the six foot high creature, that only a few months ago had been biting his ankles.
“Oh fuck!” Clark stared at a very large black alien with two legs, that had once been labelled a dick on legs by Mitchell. It had evolved considerably since he’d last seen it and he wondered if Ridley Scott knew that his creatures were in some way real. He realised something else too as he stood there, staring, mouth open, heart in his throat. There were several of them now in the corridor, all black with tails, not quite the tadpole or the second stage up, but still with a rudder of a tail that when swiped could inflict a lot of pain, like a severe slap. They were all looking at him. He couldn’t tell if they were looking to engage conversation, he wondered if they even knew how to form words. Last time he’d met them, all they emitted were shrill screams and hissing, although the hissing could have been down to the spray they were doused in.
Clark edged backwards, catching his elbow on the edge of the alcove and knocking the computer. It rattled on its stand. The creatures stepped forward on bony black feet, rather like the initial webbed feet of a newly formed frog, only without the webbed look. Clark also realised that as much as observing as much as he could, to relate to anyone later on was important, so was life. And without any further considerations for their health and well being, he ran back along the corridor putting a distance between himself and the creatures, who moved slowly, but together, in a slow black swarm.
Clark made one mental note to himself – he was going to get off this ship before it killed him.
“And you’re sure?” Gwen asked viewing for herself the game that had been on Mitchell’s computer with the flashing hearts.
“Positive. It came from Clark’s computer and it’s linked with a military bunker that is on UNIT property.”
“So they had Jack all along?”
“Possibly but they might not have known it.”
“Well there’s one way to find out.” She gave Marley the keys to her car, as she pulled out her phone and called Rhys. “Hi Rhys, look I’m sorry, yes I know I promised.” She winced. “We’ve got a lead on finding Jack. I’ll call you when I’m coming home. Yes love you too.” She smiled and blew a kiss down the phone. Pocketing the phone she locked up and met Marley at the car.
Mitchell watched Jack ease the pins from his body and felt sick. He could feel his pain and unable to bear it any longer strode towards him, stepping over broken machinery that he’d not noticed before, and assisted Jack in the removal of those pins in his heart. Jack watched him, as he worked.
“I’ll make it up to you.”
“Just get us out of here.”
“I can do that.” Jack gasped as the needle slid through his heart and he collapsed. Mitchell stared at the body of Jack on the ‘bed’ as he held the needle in his hand. Alarms registered around them and the computer systems shut down. The door flung open and Clark panted in the entrance.
“We have to...get out of here...NOW!”
“I think I just killed Jack.”
“Never mind him, we’ll be killed if we don’t get out.”
“What are you talking about?” Mitchell narrowed his eyes and stood back up, staring towards the door as dark shadows blocked out the remaining light behind Clark.
Clark turned and stared at the creatures and quickly stepped into the room slamming the door shut, but it wasn’t enough, the force of the alien creatures against Clark’s human strength. “Give me a hand, for Christ’s sake give me a hand here.” Clark begged.
Mitchell ran dropping the needle and pressed his full weight against the door.
“What the hell are they?”
“You remember those things that bit us?” Mitchell nodded. “Well that’s them, grown up. Skelagh said there was an army below decks.” He pushed again feeling the door bearing weight against him. “That’s it, that’s what was below decks. I don’t know how many there are, I don’t want to know how many, but I can’t out run them.”
“So you thought it would be fun to bring them down here? There’s no way out of this room.” He looked back at Jack, at the needles lying beside the punctured body. “Keep the pressure on the door.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Something I should have done from the start. Taking control.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I’m the Prince of Arakia.”
“I still don’t understand.” Clark stared back at Mitchell who began to slowly insert the needle back into Jack’s heart. With a start and a gasp Jack jolted back into life. Mitchell fell back landing on his rump. Clark grinned momentarily before pushing back on the door.
Jack stared at the needle in his heart and stared in shock at Mitchell. He made to pull it back out as Mitchell hurriedly placed his hand over it. “No, we’ve got trouble, and I need you to locate every inch of this ship. Those creatures you destroyed in that house, months ago, well their big brothers and sisters are on the ship.”
“The void area below deck?” Jack’s face paled.
“I know the fate that awaits me in Arakia, I don’t want to go there, I want to go home Jack, back to Earth, back where I belong. Now I need you to take control of the computers, and lock that door, every door till we can work out how to get out of this ship safely.”
Jack listened and saw before him a man not a boy and smiled. He nodded. “Yes sir.”
“Least he didn’t address you as your majesty; I’d have thrown up then.” Clark called from the door.
Mitchell ran back to the door to help put pressure against the creatures pushing to get in. Jack closed his eyes and allowed the pain to take him once more, and focused on the ship’s layout. He saw the void area below deck. “You’re going to have to get them back into the hold. Can you do that?”
“Not without them getting in.”
Jack waved his left arm and pointed to a hatch in the ceiling. His eyes still closed. “Up there, there should be a ladder and a hatch with a wheel lock. That should take you to the next level, between the walls, it’s the maintenance shafts.”
“You have those on a ship?”
“How else do you hide the wiring, hurry.”
Jack located the source to the locking mechanisms on all the doors, excluding hatches in ceilings, and secured all the doors. Clark sagged against the door, his back wet from sweat. He puffed out his cheeks.
“Thanks Jack.” He heard disgruntled moans from the creatures in the hallway and wandered back into the light of the room. “What now?”
“You’re going to help me get this needle out of my skull. I know enough now of the schematic of this ship. I need my VM back from Skelagh. There are ships below deck, at the far end of the ship, you probably saw them when you came aboard.” Clark nodded. “Locate one that’s on a pulley, it’s the catapult system, you’ll need that to jettison out of the ship.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Don’t you worry about me.” He opened his eyes spying Mitchell pulling his legs through the hole in the ceiling. “Promise me Clark.”
“If for some reason I don’t make it out of here with you and Mitch, look after him, tell him I’m sorry.”
“You’ll make it Jack. We need you to fly the ship back to Earth.”
Jack laughed till the light was switched off in his brain.
Corporal Davies Harper shone his torch around the abandoned military bunker up the long dark and very pot holed road in a disused part of UNIT’s base. Gwen stared at the contraption in one of the rooms, the Rack. She could only imagine the screams on the phone had been Jack screaming as his body was ripped apart. At the back of the room was an opened door, inside of that sat a computer, with cables and wires feeding from the torture unit. It wasn’t too difficult to imagine just what the penalty was for losing a life. Gwen felt sick.
Marley lifted a great coat from a chair in another room, instantly aware that it belonged to Jack. She carried it through to Gwen, who glared darkly at the Corporal.
“I want to see Major Cranthorpe NOW.”
“That’s preposterous.” Laughed Cranthorpe in his office some time later. “The thought of someone operating out of the bunker without an official from my office knowing ANYTHING about it, it’s unheard of.”
“Not necessarily. Perhaps someone within your department knew about this right from the start. Sergeant Clark Goodson has been working with UNIT and a Major who he’s called his Uncle for the past number of years.”
“He worked in Intelligence.” Gwen sensed vagueness from Cranthorpe, a part of her rage slipped. “Clark Goodson is a Torchwood operative. He worked with Intelligence before he took a role within Torchwood. He has highly decorated credentials.” She said, now doubting any of that were true.
“The only Goodson that we have working in our unit here, was a Corporal Clark Goodson, but he was discharged after dishonourable conduct.”
“Dishonourable conduct, what did he do?”
“That I’m afraid is classified.” Cranthorpe replied, his hands crossed behind his back.
“Well you’d better de-classify it then because Clark Goodson, Sgt or Corporal, has taken and tortured Captain Jack Harkness, and taken another of our team at gunpoint, to meet with this Major, he was working with, a man he called his Uncle.”
A glimmer of light reflected in Cranthorpe’s eyes and Gwen smiled.
“You know who I’m on about?”
Cranthorpe took a seat at his desk and pulled out a drawer to his right. He lifted out a manila folder and opened the front cover. Inside was a dossier on a man they had been monitoring secretly. Cranthorpe sucked in his lower lip. He pushed the document towards Gwen.
“He arrived here after the space ship first landed on Earth, ripping up half the English countryside. He said he was part of an Intergalactic attachment, his papers would be through in a few days. On the second page of that document is some of the paperwork he submitted.” He pointed to the yellowing parchment in a fold of paper. Gwen opened it. It was proof of some kind but it could have said he was Intergalactic Pig Farmer up visiting a Convention for other Pig Farmers, what it didn’t show was anything with a military insignia. “What is that?” She pointed to the shield in the right hand corner of the parchment.
“No idea, but back then someone pushed it through. I wasn’t attached to this UNIT back then but I had heard of this man, and my predecessor had his suspicions. He retired, so I took up the post. Goodson had a sister if I remember rightly, she was attached to this Major. That might account for why he was suddenly assigned to being the Major’s aide.” Cranthorpe pushed a lock of hair from his face, he was hiding a bald patch and as he lowered his head to review the contents in the third drawer in his desk, Marley noticed it. It wasn’t glaringly obvious, but it was there, a self conscious cover.
He lifted out another folder, one marked Classified. On the front inside cover was a small headshot of a military woman with mousy brown hair, eyes not too dissimilar to Goodson and quite an astute woman.
“This was Rachel. Goodson’s sister. She was killed in action, that’s the official story.”
“And the unofficial.”
“She was caught trading information with the other side. She was sentenced and tried for treason.”
“When was this?”
Cranthorpe thumbed through the details. “Eighteen years ago.”
“And Goodson became a soldier because of his sister?”
“I don’t know. He knew she’d been killed in action. “
“So why would he be so keen to work with this Major?”
“Perhaps he’d discovered the truth and threatened to expose him.” Marley thought aloud. Gwen stared at her.
“But why us?”
Marley continued reading the document. “It seems it was Jack’s fault. He discovered she was leaking information to another source.”
“So Clark was going after Jack.”
“Everyone goes after Jack. There has to be more than that.”
Gwen walked to the window of Cranthorpe’s office and stared out at the military field where soldiers went about their every day roles.
“At this moment Jack Harkness is missing, along with Mitchell Harkness his...son.” She added. “Clark is involved in their abduction and torture and you have known about it for some time.”
“As I’ve stated before Miss Cooper, this is army business, not Torchwood.”
“But a bloody big space craft in a hangar that is now no longer in your control is heading out of our galaxy with our Captain and Mitchell AND you couldn’t stop it?”
“When that space craft was put in the hangar there was little chance it would fly again, its wing was hanging off.”
“But clearly it flew, as our PDA clearly shows, look” She snatched it from Marley’s bag and thrust it at the Major, pointing clearly the flashing red dot as it veered steadily off the air space of Earth and the solar system.
Cranthorpe shifted uneasily in his seat.
“What’s wrong?” Marley asked staring at him intently.
“There’s a weapon onboard the ship.”
“What kind of weapon?” Gwen asked.
“A weapon that could wipe out a large proportion of the human race.”
“And you left it onboard that ship?”
“When it came down and its load contained in our cells, the ship’s failsafe system locked the ship down and we couldn’t access it at all.”
“Well somebody did.”
“Clearly.” Cranthorpe retorted. “Look, I don’t feel happy about this any more than you do, but until it enters Earth’s airspace again, I can’t do anything. We will of course monitor its movements, if you can share that tracking blip. Incidentally what is that?”
“It’s a small tracking device injected into Mitchell. We had been following him but when he took off at a rate of knots there was no way we could compete.” Marley added.
“If I know Jack, and if he’s onboard...”
“He probably is.” Added Cranthorpe.
“Then, he’ll be taking steps to get Mitchell off that ship and back home.”
Mitchell pushed open the vent grille and peered up and down the corridor. It was quiet and devoid of creatures. The grille hit the ground with a clatter. He winced. Well if that didn’t indicate where he was, nothing did.
Skelagh growled. The bridge computers had completely crashed. He had no access to any thing, including the monitors to every level of the ship.
“Harkness. It has to be him.” Setting the autopilot, he scuttled from the bridge, unaware that the prisoner’s cage door was open.
Jack felt weakened from the intrusion of the needles into his brain and his body. He also felt slightly naked as he climbed the ladder a little while after Mitchell. Wearing only his boxers and socks he had to find something else to wear. Mitchell’s scent still lingered in the passageway between the walls. It spurred Jack on and he ignored the grating and rubbing feel of the cables and rivets that he climbed over before he exited the passageway.
“Which way to the mess hall, I feel a little exposed?”
Clark looked at Jack. “You’re the one with the schematic in your head, you tell me.”
Jack shook his head and sighed. “Right then.” He indicated left then right with his finger. “Eeny meany...”
“Oh you are kidding me?” Clark sighed.
“This way.” Jack grinned and veered to the left and searched along each and every doorway.
“Of course you do realise now that you’ve locked every door, we won’t be able to get in any.”
“Good thinking Batman. Which is why we’re going to use the nearest vent back through the passage way, such as this one here.”
Slipping his fingers into the mesh, Jack took a firm hold and tore the cover from the wall. Climbing back inside he felt his way along the uneven flooring with broken metal shards and uneven rivets until he came out at the back of the mess hall. It was dark inside. Locating the light switch he turned it on. Smiling, he located several cupboards with clothing and slipped on a pair of uniformed trousers, tshirt and shirt and fastened them up. He frowned at the boots but and it was a tight squeeze, he located a tough pair of steel toe cap boots and marvelled at his clothing.
“Not bad, now let’s get out of here.”
Jack heard a yell from outside in the corridors, the voice sounded like Mitchell. Climbing back into the narrow passageway, they crawled on their hands and knees listening out for the thundering footsteps, veering off as the footsteps did till they reached a lower level. Jack hit it hard. He cursed the lack of light and rubbed his knees.
He wished he still had on his VM, several obstacles would have been dealt with already if he had that piece of valuable equipment. He needed to locate that before he left.
“I need you to locate the fighter planes while I go and find Skeldagh.”
“What about Mitchell?”
“With luck he’ll be heading in the same direction. We need those creatures off the ship. If they’re hungry, they’ll follow the food source.”
“They are Jack.”
Clark had for a while now known that they’d had company through the narrow passageway. The presence of a dark figure moving up the tunnel with them, the smell of the amphibious creature was heavy on the air.
“Thought that was your aftershave.”
“Come on.” Jack upped his pace and kicked out at the nearest mesh panel that he came to, disregarding any threat that might have been waiting on them. He climbed out pulling Clark out seconds later. “You go that way, it’ll take you to the docking station. Locate a ship and prepare it for take-off. I’ll go this way. I need my VM, and I know Skeldagh will be keen to keep a hold of it.”
Shalai wandered along the corridors, they were quieter than she’d once remembered. Picturing a time when she was in control of the vessel, where she was the most important member onboard, she saw the crew nod or salute her as they passed her by, or call for her assistance as another battle cruiser looked set to open fire on them. She took her role of princess seriously for the sake of her parents, but when a young man had intrigued her with tales of piracy and protecting the skies above her planet from cut throats and villains, she fancied a life with more excitement than that of sitting and waiting on anything exciting happening in the court of Arakia. She knew her destiny lay further than the throne. Although being royalty gave her a little bit more authority aboard the ship. Skelagh wasn’t even part of the upper deck but he had yearnings for it, and often he would give her little tidbits of information about passing cruisers, or names of those who were looking to cause trouble for the princess. He was her go-between. But now, he was on a mission and she knew more than he did, that the only reason he was returning to Arakia was to claim his reward.
She saw her son running towards her, sweat beads glistening on his brow. She stared at him as he grew nearer.
“We’ve gotta go, Mom, there’s some big legged scary fuckers coming.”
“Slow down.” She laughed. “Tell me again.”
He liked her laugh, and despite his heart beating hard against his chest, he took a few moments explaining himself, and the creatures he was running from. “They were below deck, they’re the army that is returning to the planet. Whatever Skelagh is planning...”
“Oh I know what he’s planning, That’s why with your help and Jack’s we need to turn this ship around and get as far away from Arakia as possible.”
Mitchell frowned. “You know what he’s going to do?”
“You’re the same as me, you’re telepathic skills are as strong as mine. Now where’s Jack?”
“He was going to find Skelagh!”
“Oh is he now, then I’d best not disappoint.” Skelagh replied over hearing them as he rounded the corridor.
“MOM WATCH OUT?”
Skelagh caught hold of Shalai by her long brown hair and yanked her backwards. She cried out as he tugged her hair.
“You leave her alone!” Mitchell demanded, a rage burning inside of him.
“Oh pipe down you pip squeak, what are you going to do...BITE ME?” Skelagh edged backwards pulling Shalai with him. “We’re going to welcome Harkness with both arms, then we’re all going to Arakia.”
Mitchell launched himself at Skelagh, who sidestepped and threw Shalai away from him. Mitchell landed with a crunch but quickly regained his composure, but sadly not quick enough to prevent the bombardment from Skelagh. Two fists and a kicking, he could handle, but when six legs were solid bone like that of a crab, he was no match for the stronger, older man. Battered, bruised and bleeding he crumpled to the ground. Shalai knew then that Skelagh would finish him. Quickly getting to her feet she pulled the blaster from Skelagh’s holster and pressed it against his skull.
“One wrong move and I will make a new eye hole for you.”
“You haven’t the nerve.”
“You want Harkness, then killing the boy isn’t going to help.”
Skelagh blew out his cheeks as he stared at the unconscious figure on the ground. She was right. “There is still no change in my course, your majesty.”
“Don’t ‘you majesty’ me, I know exactly what your game is. We’re going to turn this ship around. We won’t be going to Arakia today or ever and I most certainly won’t be going with you. Now move.” She kept the weapon trained on him, and Skelagh had no alternative but to do as he was told. But all the while he continued to scheme and all the while she continued to eavesdrop on his thoughts. “That won’t work.”
“Overthrowing me. Do you really think that a go between has any real powers over me?” She laughed as she nudged the man in the head, back towards the upper deck.
With the schematic layout in his head, Jack located the Bridge faster than Skelagh. He located his VM on the controls, just snugly sitting between two levers. He smiled and wrapped it around his wrist. The controls, most of them still operated without the high powered computer system. It was easy to shift the controls to manual and operate on minimum. A small flashing light above the console told him that the CCTV within the ship was working and he had a clear view of all the corridors and main access routes. He saw Skelagh beat the boy and had felt an urge to go and help, but his prime objective was to alter the course and reset it for a new destination. But time was against him. Over riding the autopilot was easy, but overriding the homing device that once set would take them back to Arakia, even with Jack’s knowledge of aircraft, overriding that took longer than he had. But valiant as ever, he’d have a damn good stab at it.
The doors to the bridge weren’t locked, only the lower end of the ship, where the creatures, where the mess halls and cabins and his incarceration had been secured.
“Well well well, looks like we didn’t have to go too far to locate the Captain.” Skelagh’s oily voice spoke behind Jack.
“I saw you coming.” Jack lied. He’d taken his eyes off the security cameras while he’d concentrated on the coding for the relocation. The ship’s co-ordinates had only altered by a fraction. They might make it to Arakia but it would be somewhere remote, like the desert, and nobody survived that. Jack stood up and faced the Major and Shalai, who was brandishing a blaster at the old man.
“What have you been doing at the controls?” Skelagh growled.
“Just resetting the co-ordinations. I know your plans.” He growled at Skelagh.
“So do I.” Shalai said, stepping away from the swing of an arm.
“How can you know what I am going to do?”
“Honey, you talk in your sleep!” Jack teased. Skelagh frowned.
“This is why you’ve never been more than a lackey in the grand scheme of things.”
“I’m not following you.” Skelagh narrowed his eyes.
Jack glanced at the security cameras and smiled as he saw Clark locate Mitchell and haul him to his feet. The swarm of blackness was heading towards them but Clark knew his way back to the launch pad, and lifting the injured and unconscious boy over his shoulder, quickly made his way to the fighter planes housed at the back of the ship, through a set of corridors that the black army of creatures couldn’t follow.
“One thing you should never do when you’re planning to return to a glory party, is let the other side know what you’re doing.”
Skelagh was still vague. Shalai sighed.
“Oh for goodness sake. I’m a telepath. I can read your mind. I’ve known exactly your plan from the off. Whatever plans you had Skelagh, I knew, I have always known. Your victory of taking us back to Arakia was to be tried as a war criminal. And you were going to be the victor. Only you fail to realise that you were there, in the thick of it. You are as much to blame as I was, for the downfall of the Koradian army, and the palaces of Racnacor. You, Skelagh!”
“That was you?” Jack was astounded. He’d heard of the stories of the Racnacor but he never expected to ever meet two of those responsible. “You made orphans that day. You should be ashamed, they didn’t have the fire power to defend themselves against you. They were a peaceful race.”
“Now they’re a dead race. We were fed information about a splinter group, who were launching an attack on our own race, and we attacked in the dead of night. On information from this man.” She fired the blaster. It hit Skelagh in one of his legs. A piercing large hole through the bone. He faltered only slightly. “That was a warm up shot, the next will be higher.”
“Ladies, as much as I’d like to stick around for seconds, I have a boy that needs me. Now you have a new course. I have to go.”
“Then go Captain. Look after our son. He needs his father.”
Jack faltered for a second. The news hit him hard and he felt sick, and a cold sweat rushed over his body.
“Go, my love.” She spoke softly but with urgency in her voice. Jack ran from the bridge. He took the same route as Clark down to the launch site while Shalai’s words haunted him. It couldn’t be true. He was certain it was Porlicanthus.
Clark stared at the plane instruments and couldn’t fathom any of them. Mitchell was secured in the third seat of the fighter plane. It was very aerodynamic, very stealth like but very alien. He stared at the moorings in front of the plane that reminded him of the penny toys he used to get at Christmas time. A plastic plane secured by a hook below it on a piece of elastic band set onto a flat piece of wood, that when released would catapult the plane far away into the garden. Out beyond the battle cruiser on the other side of the forcefield was the vastness of space. He could still see Earth, just, and he really hoped he would see it again, in his life time. He remembered being told as a kid that life was slower in space. He wondered then, how many days had passed for them to reach this point.
Mitchell groaned but he was far from conscious or helpful to Clark. Clark got up from his seat to check on him. He was in need of hospital care. He clamped a cloth to his head from a drawer that had popped out during his search of the plane.
“Hurry up Jack.”
Jack entered the launch pad, and cautiously ran from one plane to the next. He saw the hatch open at the back of the furthest and ran over. He was glad to see a couple of friendly faces, having put aside his hatred for the young Welshman for the time being.
“How is he?” Jack asked, entering the ship and feeling for a pulse against Mitchell’s neck.
“He needs a hospital.” Clark replied. “Jack I don’t know how to fly this plane, ship, whatever you call it.”
“Call it what you want. Look it’s easy when you get the hang of it. All planes come with a manual, you should locate that just under the control unit.”
“Can’t you fly it?”
“In a minute, I need to set the moorings ready for take off. It doesn’t just happen by itself.”
Jack’s heart went out to Mitchell but he couldn’t let it take control of him. He had to get them all to safety. Shalai could handle Skelagh and all things seemed in her favour back in the Bridge. He ran from the plane, to the moorings and set it ready for take off, and returned to the ship just as a searing pain shot his back to his chest.
Skelagh fired the blaster and killed Jack Harkness! Clark watched in horror as the man who could fly the ship died in front of him. He glanced back at Mitchell and ran towards the edge of the ship, but Jack was too far away for Clark to safely drag him to the ship, and Skelagh was too close to the release lever for the moorings.
Skelagh watched as the fighter plane catapulted into the blackness of space till it was a mere speck. He stared down at the dead Captain. “Now who’s in charge!”