"Okay, Gwen, I need you working on a pattern of attacks. Why these people? What do they have in common, if anything? Toshiko, scan the CCTV feeds for any other incidents, feed the news to Gwen. Owen the news sources."
"And I make coffee, I suppose," Ianto said dryly.
"And contact that journalist friend of yours. Maybe she has some information we can use. I'll try to figure out what that thing is and how it got to Earth." Jack headed back to his office.
"So, who do we have so far?" Gwen asked. "Besides us, I mean."
Toshiko started the program to scan the feeds and read the list while keeping one eye on the computer screen, "Husband and wife, Barbara and Ian Chesterton, both teachers in their sixties in England, Tegan Jovanka in Australia, mid forties, Peri Brown in America in her thirties and another couple in England, Fitz and Trix Kreimer, also in their thirties. No obvious connections between any of them. And the thing could have been targeting any one of us or the whole team, or we could just have got in the way of its real target."
"There has to be something. Keep looking."
Sarah ended the call and turned to face the other people in the room. "That was my contact at Torchwood: Cardiff. Either they're not involved or it's a case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. On the plus side we have another two names; apparently Peri and Jack were also attacked."
Jo frowned at her. "Was it safe giving them the information you did? If they do twig onto the pattern that means more information for their database and that's what we've been trying to prevent."
"Calculated risk," Sarah looked around the room. "We know they aren't seeing the pattern yet; giving them a name or two they don't have increases the chance that Ianto will keep me in the loop, as well as letting us gauge the extent of their information. And if we end up having to work with Torchwood, I'd rather it was the Cardiff branch, even if we're not sure we can trust Jack Harkness."
"While I'm enjoying the obviously twisted plotting, I'd probably appreciate it more if I knew the details. Who is Jack Harkness and why can't we trust him?" Turlough crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair.
Liz smiled at him. "Jack's an unknown quantity. We know he travelled with the Doctor, but he is now working for Torchwood. The Cardiff branch seems to have their own team and their own agenda and we're not sure how closely they work with the main organisation."
"And since their charter says that the Doctor is one of the alien threats that they're supposed to be guarding against-" Jo added.
"-You're not sure which side he'd choose if it came to that," Turlough finished. "Moral ambiguity, I like that in a man." He sighed. "I could have chosen a less eventful time to visit."
"Well, you always used to complain about how dull Earth is." Sarah smirked at him. "Consider this your entertainment. And since you're here, I have every intention of making use of your talents for subterfuge."
"So what do we know and what do they know? Remember I came late to this party." Turlough looked around inquisitively.
"We know there have been eight incidents so far," Jo said.
"And Torchwood know about five of them, including the one against Jack. Though they're assuming it was a general attack against their team. They know about Barbara and Ian, Tegan, Fitz and Trix, and Peri."
"So they don't know about Victoria, Harry or Ben and Polly." Liz looked thoughtful. "All of these took place on Earth in 2007. We don't know about the companions on other worlds or in other times."
"I think we can assume they've limited themselves to this planet and this time," Turlough said. "From what you've told me, none of the attacks have been particularly violent. Opening salvoes, if you will. If they aren't limited in time and space, why confine themselves to the last few weeks? How did this all start?"
"We have a network in place. It used to be more of a social/support thing but after Sarah was targeted by enemies she had made during her time with the Doctor we developed a defense mode. Anything unusual gets reported to one of us, Tegan, Ace, or Dodo," Jo started.
Sarah took over the story then, explaining that after the third report, she had called an emergency meeting of the Triumvirate. She, Jo and Liz had been friends for years, no alarm bells would go off if the three of them met for dinner at her flat.
"We're the ones with targets on our backs," Jo was fond of saying. "No point in being coy about it."
The three of them had worked openly with the Doctor during his years at UNIT and while there might be other companions whose faces were better known to certain of his foes, they were the ones whose names were most likely to appear in the files of UNIT, Torchwood, and other government agencies.
Originally they had started the Triumvirate as a hobby but their focus had changed in recent years, especially after the Doctor had shown up on Sarah's doorstep a few hours after the events of Canary Wharf to tell her what had happened, and to ask her for a favour.
She hadn't been sure why he'd shown up. Admittedly the events of the day had been unusual, but they were unusual in the usual way, just your typical alien invasion. But first he had told her about Rose and then after some nonsense and dithering, he had broached another topic.
"I'm worried about Torchwood," the Doctor said as he paced about her living room. "They knew too much about me. There were files on you and Jo and Harry, and other companions who started out on Earth or who ended up here. I've spent too much time here, the last fifty years or so. If Yvonne was in charge, there will be a new director soon, and they may think I'm more of a threat now."
He paused to let her absorb this, then continued, "Back to my previous companions. There's nothing linking them. I need someone here who will notice if Torchwood starts targeting them. Someone who will realize that a seemingly random pattern isn't random at all. I'll give you a list before I leave of all my companions, who's in the most danger and why. You've got the biggest target on your back." He turned to face her with obvious concern on his face.
"I know," Sarah had replied with a combination of worry and reassurance in her voice. "We've got some of the information, Liz, Jo and I. It started as simple curiosity, but realised the danger recently. We all made enemies when we were with you. And as for Torchwood, we have to assume they know I saw you at Deffrey Vale." She shifted in her chair. "We've been aware of them for a while - strictly as an organisation that deals with alien tech. We weren't aware of their other purpose. I can give you copies of my files on them."
The Doctor stared at her thoughtfully, then grinned. "Two steps ahead of me, I see. So you're already keeping tabs on my former companions?" He finally stopped his pacing and sprawled on the sofa watching her.
"The ones we know about. There's always a chance we missed somebody. You'd better give me a complete list, just in case. And...all your companions, I think. Not just the ones who might be alive on Earth in this time period. Details. How you met them, where they came from, where they ended up. Relationships. With you, with each other. Who overlapped whom. Which version of you they travelled with. All your faces." She stopped to take a breath.
"You've given this some thought. For which I should be thankful." He caught her hand in his. "But isn't that a bit much? Torchwood couldn't...."
She broke in impatiently, "You have enemies other than Torchwood. During that business on Gallifrey, I was pulled from a time after I stopped travelling with you, but Tegan and Turlough were still with you. Assume that if they can mess with your companions they can do so at any time in any place."
He wasn't going to like the next part, but travelling with him had taught her that things tended to go wrong in the worst possible way. "And if I were your enemy, I'd go for the surprise manoeuvre, pick them out of the time stream before they met you. Make you tiptoe around the possibility of a paradox. And I'd specifically pick companions who had died during their time with you for the added shock value. Don't assume anybody's inaccessible. There's always a way."
He stared at her, horrified. "I'm very glad you're not my enemy. That sounds like my worst nightmare. Better too much than too little. I can give you a piece of tech that no one in this time and place could use or would recognize. Usable on any computer with a USB port. That is the current standard, right?" She nodded.
Sarah opened her laptop and turned it on, and he passed her the drive.
He watched her read the first file, eyes suddenly opening wide. "Ian Chesterton and Barbara, Barbara Chesterton, now." She looked up and smiled at him, suddenly. "Barbara Chesterton now. They have grandkids."
"They were Susan's teachers." He'd lost Susan too, she remembered.
She reached up and hugged him tightly. The lists contained fewer names than she'd expected. More pain than she'd ever suspected. She hadn't been surprised to find Jack Harkness' name among them. She removed the drive and shut down the computer, lost in thought. There were gaps in the information, some of which she could fill with what she knew, some she would have to research.
For a moment they were lost in their own thoughts before Sarah finally spoke. "You never kept track after they left you. Checked up on them?"
He shook his head. Most moved on with their lives. She knew he'd always wanted to believe they were happy.
Ianto reported his conversation with Sarah back to the group. "She was able to give me another data point. Ben and Polly Jackson, London. He's a retired Naval officer."
"No connections yet," Gwen said. "We're still looking, though."
"This is ridiculous. Different ages, different occupations, and while the attacks haven't been confined to the UK, they seem to be centred here." Owen paced across the room. "But given the timing...the ones in other countries happened both before and after the ones here, and given the distances they couldn't have been made by one person. It has to be a group."
"Or someone with access to alien tech," Jack added thoughtfully. "There has to be some connection between the victims. Ianto, how much did you tell that reporter about what you knew?"
"Everything, sir. She needed to know what we're looking for."
"I'm suddenly very curious about your reporter friend. Does she have a name?"
"Sarah. Why? You don't think she has anything to do with the attacks?" Ianto said defensively.
"No, I don't. We got the knowledge of one other attack out of her, you've given her four."
"Two, actually. She knew about Ms. Jovanka and the Kreimers."
"You've known her since your days in Torchwood One. You're certain she's not after a story?"
"She believes in what we're doing, sir. I keep her in the loop and she keeps her mouth shut."
"And she doesn't have any other motive?"
"Why should she? She worked with UNIT back in the seventies and did the same for them."
Jack stared at him. "What? Gwen see if you can dig into the database and find a reporter named Sarah who had a UNIT security clearance back in the seventies."
"Just a sec. Got her. Sarah Jane Smith." Gwen displayed a picture of a young woman and an elderly gentleman in a velvet jacket.
Jack cursed under his breath.
Ianto's eyes widened. "Isn't that...?"
"The Doctor," Jack said. "I want her phone number. I think Ms. Smith and I need to have a little chat." He started to say something else, stopped and then finally said, "Cross-reference the names we have with the Doctor. I suddenly have a bad feeling about this. And get me a full file on Ms. Sarah Jane Smith." He took the number which Ianto had written out for him, stalked into his office and closed the door.
Choosing a phone line he knew wouldn't be logged into the database, he punched in the number. Even if the rest of the team knew he was making the call, he wasn't sure he'd want them to know the content.
"Hello," a man's voice answered.
"Could I please speak to Sarah Jane Smith?" It was after one in the morning. According to the information, Gwen had pulled up, Ms. Smith wasn't married, so good for her.
"May I say who's calling?"
Jack hesitated, but given that the woman had managed to plant an informant in his small team, he decided it wasn't worth the effort. "Jack Harkness. I imagine she'll recognise the name."
A moment later Sarah picked up the phone. "Well, this is a surprise. What can I do for you, Mr. Harkness?"
"You can explain how you managed to plant a mole in my team."
"I'd hardly call Ianto a mole, he was more of an informant. It isn't as though he's one of us, you know. And I didn't sic him on your team deliberately. It's small enough that I figured I'd never get anyone in there. Having him transfer to Cardiff after the Canary Wharf disaster was a stroke of luck on my part."
Jack couldn't help focusing on one particular phrase. "One of us?"
"Oh, don't be coy, Jack, I know you travelled with the Doctor. I've even got some lovely CCTV footage to prove it. And that isn't the only thing I know about you. I've been keeping an eye on you for longer than anyone on your current team, and I've picked up on a few things along the way. The question is whether I can trust you." He could hear the amusement in the woman's voice.
Silence at the other end of the line.
Finally, Jack spoke, "We've started cross-referencing the names of the attack victims with the Doctor, but I bet you know the answer to that one." He hesitated. "Look, I'll admit to wanting to punch him the next time I see him, but that had nothing to do with my joining Torchwood."
"Defending the Earth, any way you can. And as for wanting to hit him, join the club. I'm willing to share information, but only if it doesn't end up in Torchwood's database."
"Deal. Where, when and how?"
"Just a second. What is it, Turlough?"
Jack could hear her talking to someone in the background.
After a moment, she resumed their conversation, "I've just got word that there's been another attack. Ace McShane. She managed to knock out one of her attackers, so we may have a lead. How soon can you and your team get to London?" She gave him the address. "You probably have better resources for containing it than we do. We'll meet you there and follow you back to Cardiff."
"It. Not human, then."
"No. Ace took a picture with her mobile - I'll add your name to the list of people to forward it to. With any luck one of us will be able to identify it."
Jack gave her the number to forward it to. "When you say we...I presume you're not planning on coming down here en masse."
"That would be stupid, given Torchwood's charter. Ace, Turlough and myself. Turlough's...not from around here...so if he's attacked it means someone knows he's here. But we've also been thinking about setting a trap, somehow. Gathering multiple companions in one place and seeing what happens." Sarah sounded wary.
"You can arrange that? I take it you're in charge of this little - is it little? - group."
"About ten to fifteen people. That's on Earth mind you. Not all of his companions ended up here, but most have been from Earth, from the 20th or 21st centuries. And as for leadership, we aren't that sort of organisation, more like an old boys' network."
"Could you arrange to have ten of them in Roald Dahl Plass the day after tomorrow?" Jack considered, then added, "Preferably people who can hold their own in a fight."
"It shouldn't be a problem. I'm trusting you here. Trusting that you aren't the one targeting the others and that this information won't be passed on to people who might use it against us or him." Sarah's voice had a slight edge.
This woman had steel in her. Jack found himself looking forward to meeting her. "Trust me. We'll figure this out together."
They worked out a plan. Sarah and Turlough would pick up Ace before heading up to Cardiff the next day. The others, hand selected by Sarah, would find their way up on their own. After some discussion, they decided that besides the three of them and Jack, they would recruit half a dozen others who would act as bait.
After she hung up, Sarah broached the subject to the others. "I'd like to think that anyone who has travelled with the Doctor can hold their own in a fight, but the reality is we don't know what we're up against. Jo, I want you to be one of them; you've kept up your martial arts, but you don't look threatening."
Jo nodded. "Who else? I'd go with Ben and Fitz and their wives."
"And Harry. Any other women? Ace, Jo and I can't be the only trained fighters." She considered the possibilities. Romana and Leela had been on Gallifrey during the war, Barbara had a broken arm as a result of the attack, and Anji had just had a baby. Tegan and Peri were oceans away. Mel, Benny, and Rose were even further. None of the other women were fighters.
Liz shook her head, "I haven't kept in shape the way you two have. Evelyn would be a better choice."
"Unless someone shows up for an unexpected visit, I think we'll have to go with her."
They split up the calls. All of the other former companions were glad to be doing something as opposed to just sitting around. As it turned out, when Sarah called Evelyn, she discovered that Benny was visiting, which simplified things. She would have had to talk Evelyn into it, but Benny agreed almost immediately. Before long everything was ready to go. All they could do now was wait.
"Well?" Gwen asked as Jack emerged from his office. "We've managed to connect several of the other targets to the Doctor. I think we've found the pattern. So what did she say? Is she willing to cooperate with us?"
"Pretty much that. Apparently they've got a loose network and she'd been tracking the attacks. She's going to cooperate in exchange for backup and support. She'll be here tomorrow with two of her people and we've got a tentative plan for a trap. Which brings up an interesting question. Given the nature of our charter is there anyone who can't in good conscience participate?"
Before any of the others could speak, Ianto said, "I saw him in action at Canary Wharf. Cleaning up our mess. I think we owe him this."
"I'm with Ianto." Next to Ianto, Tosh had been a member of Torchwood the longest. She had helped with the clean up at Canary Wharf.
Nods from Owen and Gwen.
"Good. The trap's going to be set in the Plass. Tosh, you and Ianto will be monitoring on the CCTV feeds. Gwen, Owen and I will be on the Plass providing backup. She's promised me people who aren't totally helpless so we should be alright." His mobile beeped and he glanced at it. "Okay, here's a picture of the attacker."
"Nasty wounds. What happened to him?" Owen said as they pulled up the image on one of the monitors.
Jack studied the image. "Apparently the woman he attacked is rather fond of explosives."
"Ogrons. Mercenaries." Tosh grimaced. "That brings us no closer to finding out who's behind it."
"We'll have to capture one alive. At least now we know what we might be facing Monday night."
The meeting took place as planned. After some consideration, Jack had led the three former companions inside Torchwood, figuring that if they were going to trust each other it had to start somewhere. The entire team had read Sarah's file while they were waiting, and had come to the same conclusion: that she would make a very formidable foe.
Tosh had tried seeking out information on the other two, but given that all they had to go on were the names "Ace" and "Turlough", despite trying several different spellings of the latter, she wasn't able to find anything, even when she cross-referenced them with the Doctor. She had more luck with some of the victims, and those files were passed around the room.
The Torchwood Team was accustomed to wide-eyed curiosity when strangers were brought into the hub, but these three acted like it was all commonplace.
"Not bad." Sarah ignored the way the Torchwood team bristled at her casualness. "If someone can show Ace what weaponry you have available, we can sit down and brainstorm. I'm presuming you have access to the CCTV feeds."
"Of course. Ianto, why don't you show Ace the weapons, the rest of us can start planning?" Jack had made it clear to the rest of the team that he didn't want to antagonise Ms. Smith. They were both after the same goal, and they needed to cooperate to achieve it. "I don't know that this has to get complicated. A straight forward trap would be best."
He pulled up a map of the Plass. "I've marked the places that are probably best for your people to stand. All places chosen for easy access and exit, and proximity to the CCTV cameras. I thought with Ianto and Tosh and one of your people monitoring the feeds, the rest of us could be stationed at these points, where we're each in line of sight to at least two of your people. The Ogrons don't seem to care about whether there are witnesses."
"This should work," Turlough said, looking at Sarah for confirmation.
She nodded. "Turlough, do you want to take the surveillance post? Ace and I can handle guard dog duty."
"Sounds good to me."
Sarah turned to Jack, "I presume you have some means of communication within your team."
He nodded and gave her two preprogrammed mobile phones. "One for you, one for Ace."
"Did I hear my name being mentioned?"
They both almost jumped at the sound of Ace's voice, and Sarah passed her the mobile. "How's the weapons situation?"
"Good. Between this and the stash of Nitro-9 in the car, we should be all set."
"Remember that we need at least one of them alive for questioning," Jack said dryly.
Ace grinned at him. "So, we're ready."
"Just about. I'll let the others know where they're supposed to be, and we should be ready." Sarah moved off to make her phone calls.
Jack arched an eyebrow at Turlough. "She's very sharp."
The other man just smirked at him.
After a few minutes, Sarah returned to the group to report that the first 'victims' would be arriving at around 7 pm.
The group ordered some pizza and settled down to wait.
For Sarah the highlight of the next hour and a half would be watching Turlough and Ianto: supercilious glances, arched eyebrows, sarcastic comments and synchronized straightening of their ties. It was scary actually. The Doctor might have donned a suit in his most recent incarnation, but he'd never wear it with the cool sophistication of those two.
After the first half hour, she was certain they were doing it deliberately, just to make Owen twitch. Jack caught her eye and gave her a secret smile, and she knew he'd noticed too. Tosh seemed bemused by their antics, and Sarah suspected Ace and Gwen were oblivious to the byplay, as they seemed engrossed in whatever they were discussing.
She nearly suggested that Owen trade places with Tosh so that he'd be stuck with the other two men doing surveillence, just to see him flinch, but decided against it. She wasn't quite that cruel, and she'd never do that to Ianto or Turlough. She might have done it to Owen, though.
Instead she watched as Ianto fed Myfanwy the remains of the pizza, and showed Ace where to scratch the pteradon behind the ears. At 6:50 she received a call from Ben letting her know that the first 'victims' were in place, and the team sprang into action.
For a short time it looked as if the plan had worked. With guidance from Tosh and the others, Ace took one of the Ogrons out with a stun grenade, and the Torchwood team and Sarah ran in to collect and interrogate it.
And then Ianto noticed that a whole squadron of Ogrons had surrounded the square. Instead of attacking, they seemed content to herd the Torchwood team along with the former companions over to the fountain. And then they waited.
Whenever someone tried to escape or fight, the Ogrons would carefully and without violence, stop whomever made the attempt and return them to the group. They also seemed immune to all attempts at distraction.
The team watching from the Hub made several suggestions, none of which worked.
The rest of the square was abandoned now. The size and shape of the Ogrons had scared everyone else off, despite the fact that they only seemed to be interested in their captives.
And so they waited. Not for long, as it turned out. Suddenly a figure dressed all in black appeared in the square, looking like an escapee from a melodrama.
"Now at last I will have the Doctor in my power."
There was scattered tittering and rolling of eyes. Several of the former companions were quick to identify the Master to their neighbours.
The figure continued, "He will come back to rescue all of you and his precious Earth."
Ace muttered, "Get a life," which caused those around her to snigger. There were more catcalls.
Sarah smirked at the thought that if he were going to act like a panto villain, he should expect to be treated like one.
Jack glanced at his wrist computer, then murmured to Sarah, who was standing next to him, "It's a robot and not completely phased into this plane of existence. Why is there never a sonic screwdriver around when you need one?"
"Will a sonic lipstick do?" She pulled it out of her pocket.
Jack stared at it as if it was about to bite him, opened and closed his mouth a few times, before asking, "Okay, I've come around to the concept of a sonic screwdriver but who looks at a lipstick and thinks this could be a little more sonic?"
Sarah replied, "the Doctor," in the tone of someone who completely and utterly agreed with him. "I think it's supposed to be girly. It works just like the original, though, or I should say the most recent model."
"I presume you want me to disrupt his phase modulation. You'll need to calculate the frequency for me."
"Doing that right now." Jack pushed some buttons on his wrist computer before coming up with the answer. "796.35 chronohertz."
"Got it." She directed the sonic lipstick towards the still ranting figure.
With a fizz and a pop, it started to disappear, became clearer for a moment and exploded in a huge burst of sparks showering shattered metal and wire everywhere.
"Idiot," Sarah pronounced. "It shouldn't have tried to override the disruption."
The Ogrons, now that their employer had been reduced to a pile of spare parts, quickly left the scene. They had demanded (and got) payment up front, and had no reason to linger.
Sarah let the Torchwood crew handle the robot clean-up while she held quick conversations with some of the other former companions.
From Jo she established that the Master was the incarnation that had tormented her and the Doctor in the seventies, which made her suspect that this was a plan set into motion ages ago, which just now came to fruition. She hoped that was the case. Of all the other Time Lords, the Master was one she would rather had not survived the war.
Ace decided to go back to London with Benny on the grounds that they wanted to catch up, and Sarah went back to the Hub to collect Turlough. They ended up sticking around chatting for a while and helping to label the pieces of the Master's robot before locking them in the vault.
After the debris had been sorted through, Jack invited Sarah and Turlough to come along to the pub for a drink. Half an hour later, Jack, Owen and Sarah were trying to drink each other under the table, the rest of the group having too much sense to participate. Turlough and Ianto had reverted to their earlier tricks, and between that and being unable to hold his drink quite as well as Sarah or Jack, Owen was not in a good mood. Finally, Gwen took pity on him and offered to drive him home. She fooled no one. After they'd gone the others started telling outrageous stories of some of the strange things they had seen and done and the mood became quite festive.
Sarah glanced up at the doorway, then nudged Jack in the ribs before waving at the man at the door. When he reached the table, she couldn't help commenting dryly, "You really need to work on your timing, Doctor. We had the whole mess mopped up an hour ago."
His face fell. "And I came all this way."
"You could always stay and have a drink," Jack said, unable to keep the amusement from his voice. "Join the suit brigade over there." He gestured to Owen's vacated chair, then introduced the Doctor to Tosh (who he'd already met) and Ianto.
The Doctor sat down, arching an eyebrow at Turlough and causing the rest of the group to burst out laughing. "I thought you hated Earth."
"I blame Sarah."
"Of course, it's all my fault. Drink, Doctor?" Without waiting for a response, she passed him the scotch Owen had ordered just before he left.
"Why not? I'm celebrating letting someone else save the world for once. So what happened?"
They took turns telling him what had happened, sometimes talking over each other as they explained the absurdity of the situation. The Doctor confirmed that the Master had died in the Time War and made a mental note to see if he had left any other traps behind.
From there the evening degenerated into talk of cricket, tailors and the best way to torture Owen, and ended with six of them wandering through Roald Dahl Plass to the Hub, so that the Doctor could meet Myfanwy, arm in arm drunkenly singing pub songs in the well-known key of off.
All in all, thought Jack, it had been a really good day.