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Once upon a time in China

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Jack really liked this kind of con, no mess to clean up, everything was going to blow up anyway. Wars, rebellions, civil wars, they were perfect for his purposes. So here he was, in a godforsaken town in China, year 1900, right in the middle of the Boxer rebellion. He had just sold a bunch of Chelonian cybernetic devices to someone, something, not sure - his business partner had seemed human, but something was odd about him, it, whatever. Jack hadn’t asked too many questions though, he’d gotten the money and that’s what he was here for. All evidence had been destroyed in a fire and they’d gone their separate ways. Nice and simple, just the way he liked it. Why should he complicate things by questioning what the buyer was going to do with the merchandise? Nothing legal, most likely, but who cared? Selling those things wasn’t exactly legal either.

Now, should he go back to his time? Or try to find some entertainment while he was here? People were running around in panic, buildings were on fire, fights on every corner. Yes, sounded like his kind of place, a good fight might be just what he needed. He walked down an alley, pondered where to go next. From his right came shouting, cries, sounds of fighting, so he turned that way at the end of the alley - and literally ran into a beautiful, dark haired woman.

She didn’t look Asian, so he decided to try English: “I’m terribly sorry, did I hurt you?” He gave her an apologetic smile. “I obviously haven’t been paying attention, how else could I have not noticed such a beauty as yourself?” Why not do a bit of flirting when a gorgeous woman literally ended up in his arms. Might lead to even more fun than a fight.

“You couldn’t hurt me if you tried, isn’t that right, Spike?” There was something strange about the way she talked, but Jack couldn’t quite tell what it was. He followed her gaze when she turned her head to look at her companion. He gasped.

The young man at her side, the one he hadn’t even noticed before, looked almost like his partner John. The same blue eyes, the same cheekbones, they could have been brothers. Yet at the same time this man looked so different, his hair was longer, his skin was so pale. No, it was most certainly not John, but the resemblance was striking. A voice broke through his thoughts - again, almost the same as John’s, but not quite.

“I wouldn’t allow him to harm you, princess.” Spike tilted his head and looked at Jack with a somehow disconcerting grin. “But perhaps we could have some fun with him, I’m bored.” He looked predatory, dangerous, but Jack liked a bit of danger.

She clapped her hands like an excited child. “Yes, let’s play with him, I’d like that.”

“Whatever you want, Dru.” Spike smiled sweetly at his companion and stroked a finger along her jaw. Then both turned their attention back to Jack and gave him an unsettling smile.

A shiver ran down Jack’s spine, he wasn’t so sure any more that this was a good idea. Something about the two of them was just wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He should probably leave, look for some fun in another place.

“I’d better go...” he tried to turn away, but a strong - way too strong - arm was put around his shoulders, held him immobile. How could this petite woman have that much strength? He struggled against her hold, then she spoke to him and he couldn’t help but stop fighting and look into her eyes.

“We’ll have a party, and you are our guest. It would be terribly impolite to let you go on your own, it’s so dangerous out here. Come with us.” Her voice was sweet, but Jack still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was totally and utterly wrong here. And yet he realized that he was following her, led by her hand, directed by Spike’s arm on his back. A tiny voice in his head told him to get away, right now, before it was too late, but his body seemed to work on auto pilot.

Part of him knew that she was controlling his mind in some way, he had been trained about it at the Time Agency, should be able to fight it off. Unfortunately it never had been something he was good at, so he soon gave up his feeble struggles to break her hold on his mind. It would be better to wait until she let her guard down, then he might have a chance to get away from them.

She kept encouraging him every time he was hesitating, her words and the slight sing-song in her voice never failed to lull him back in. Jack had lost track of time, didn’t know where they were, but after a while they stopped in front of a house. Dru’s attention slipped away from him a bit, he heard her say something about the stars dancing and singing for her. With a huge effort he pushed the rest of her influence out of his mind, grabbed his gun and shot both of them before they could react.

They weren’t dead, even if they should be, they had both giant, gaping holes in their chests. Jack didn’t wait to see what they’d do next, he just ran away, around some corners, tried to get away from them for long enough to activate his wrist strap and get out of there. Part of him wondered what they were - not human for sure, a human would’ve been dead after being shot in the chest like that. The only thing he knew for sure was that they were dangerous, that he was lucky to have gotten away.

Finally he had entered the coordinates into his vortex manipulator and could activate it, leave this place, go home. It was just in time, he could see the two creatures speeding around the corner, towards him. They were so fast, way faster than any human could be. But he was faster, the Time Vortex opened for him and he was gone before they could reach him.

That had been close, way too close for his liking. Still, he’d made it back in one piece. He shrugged the experience off and didn’t think about it for ages. It was long after he’d met the Doctor and had been made immortal when he should be reminded of this strange encounter.

One night in 1986 he saw this beautiful, dark haired woman in London and the memories came back of her leading him away, how helpless he had felt. He followed her, tried not to get noticed. Yes, there he was too, the man - was he really a man? - who looked so much like John and yet didn’t. A shiver ran down Jack’s spine and he quickly retreated without being noticed by them.

They hadn’t changed at all, that wasn’t possible. Were they immortal like him? He swore to himself to find out who and what they were, if there were more of their kind. He’d travelled to so many times and places, but he had never seen anything like them. They were different, very different from humans and any other race he had met. He had a strange feeling that whatever they were, they were dangerous, a threat probably even to him. And if he had learned one thing in his long life, then it was to trust his intuition. He might not know what they were, but he could try to find out and Torchwood might have just the right equipment to deal with them. He just had to finish his work here, then he would go back to Cardiff and start to investigate.