30 April 2009
Eventually the shuddering ceased. Jack let go of his strut reluctantly, not trusting that it would start up again. He made his way toward the console, helping Donna up along the way. She gave him a grateful smile as they joined the others, Clint having retrieved his bow, the weapon looped about the quiver on his back.
“Where are they taking us?” Rose demanded. She rubbed her shoulder absently.
“The Daleks have a space station at the centre of the planets,” Jack explained. “I can guess that’s where we’re going.”
“And how did you get here, Rose?” the Doctor asked. “The walls between the dimensions were sealed for a reason.”
She settled against the console comfortably. “Well,” she explained, “we’ve been working on this Dimension Cannon. And it didn’t work, no matter what we tried. But then it just…turned on.”
“Why would you be building something like that?” Jack asked, even though he could guess the answer.
Rose turned shy. She ducked her head, but she looked up at the Doctor through her eyelashes. “So I could come back.”
The smile the Doctor gave her was incandescent.
A very tiny part of Jack wished that he’d look at him like that, which would never happen now, not with everything between them.
“But when it started working,” she went on, “we noticed that the very dimensional walls were collapsing, not just here but in all dimensions. Even the Void was dead. I wondered if it was linked to the stars going out.”
That didn’t sound ominous at all.
“We know that time is faster in that other dimension, so we figured whatever it was, it hadn’t happened here yet. And I knew I’d need to find you, Doctor, to work things out.” She shrugged. “Of course I didn’t count on appearing in the middle of an invasion.”
“What do you mean,” Clint asked, “about the stars going out?”
“Every night, more and more stars were vanishing, and no one could work it out. It just made sense that it had something to do with the dimensions crashing.”
Jack nodded. She was right, it did make sense. Something was destroying the universe, and he was positive it had to do with whatever the Daleks wanted these twenty-seven planets for.
He could tell the Doctor was thinking the same thing.
“There’s something else.” Rose looked nervous, and Jack reached out and touched her elbow, wanting to ground her. They needed all the information they could get if they were going to stop whatever the Daleks had up their shells. She flashed him a quick, grateful grin – which the Doctor didn’t seem to appreciate – and then went on. “The Dimension Cannon zeroed in on two people in this dimension that were important to what was going on. We’re still not sure how it was doing it, but it was.”
“Who are these people then?” the Doctor asked.
Rose took a deep breath. “It’s Donna Noble and Clint Barton.”
Clint frowned. Jack could see him trying to shuffle that into the mental picture he had of events, and not coming up with a damned thing.
“But why me?” Donna exclaimed. “I’m just a temp from Chiswick. I’m not important at all.”
“I feel the same way,” the archer replied. “I’m only around because I volunteered to cover while Jack’s team is down two people. Hell, like I said, I tagged along with Jack because he needed someone to watch his back and Ianto couldn’t do it.”
“I don’t know why,” Rose said, “only that you’re needed here.” Then she smirked. “Ianto? Is that the boyfriend then, Jack?”
Ianto was so much more than that, but he did appreciate Clint not using the term ‘mate’, since it would most likely fuel the fire of Rose’s curiosity even more than thinking Ianto was simply a boyfriend.
Before he could answer, the Doctor butted in. “So, whatever’s going to happen, Donna is smack dab in the middle of it?”
Jack didn’t like the way he snubbed Clint, but the SHIELD agent simply shrugged, as if it wasn’t a big deal. And maybe it wasn’t, at least to his friend. Clint knew his worth, to both SHIELD and to Torchwood. He didn’t need to have his ego boosted.
Rose frowned at the Doctor’s interruption. Jack could tell she was puzzled, not only by their coldness toward each other, but Jack’s very presence there on Earth, at this time. He wondered just what the Doctor had told her when she’d enquired where Jack was, because it was obvious Rose hadn’t expected him to show up, just from her question earlier about how he’d come to Earth.
He was saved from any sort of explanation by a chime coming from the console. Blessing the interruption, Jack watched as the Doctor darted around the controls, wondering where the power had come from to even make that sound, let alone give any sort of information.
“We’re coming up on the space station,” the Time Lord reported. “Hold onto something, we might have a bumpy landing.”
Jack clutched at the console, bracing for impact. The others did the same, and Clint shot him a look that had Jack wondering if the SHIELD agent wasn’t some sort of mind reader, since it was full of sympathy. Maybe he’d realised this situation was far more fraught than he’d thought.
Jack was wishing he’d stayed in the Hub with Ianto.
Yet he couldn’t. It didn’t matter that he and the Doctor didn’t get along anymore, although it made Jack sad to know that so many years and disagreements had come between them. They’d been friends once, but that was now in the past. A part of Jack realised that, even though their relationship was so strained that he’d always come to help, whenever the Doctor needed him.
The thing was, Ianto understood that; had perhaps known that even before Jack had. But then the dragon did know Jack sometimes better than Jack did himself.
There was a crash, and the TARDIS slammed into something. Jack almost lost his grip on the console, but managed to hold on as the time machine came to an abrupt halt.
Jack barely had time to straighten his coat before the strident voice of a Dalek was heard through the TARDIS doors.
“Doctor! You will step out of the TARDIS or die.”
The Doctor took a deep breath. “We might as well do as it says, or else it will just come in and get us.”
“You once told me nothing could get through those doors!” Rose exclaimed, alarmed.
“But you have extrapolator shielding!” Jack added. He knew for a fact that nothing could get through the TARDIS’s shields; he’d been the one to install the extrapolator, after that mess with Margaret Blaine.
But then, even as he was thinking that, he realised that the TARDIS was without power. The shields would have gone down.
He checked his wrist strap, thinking they could escape using that. However, it was as dead as they would be as soon as they stepped foot outside those doors.
“The last time we fought the Daleks,” the Doctor said intensely, “they were scavengers and hybrids and mad. But this is a fully-fledged Dalek Empire, at the height of its power. Experts would have been finding TARDISes all the time. With those, they figure them out. That wooden door,” he hooked his thumb toward the TARDIS entrance, “is just wood.”
“What about this Dimension Cannon thing?” Jack asked Rose. “Can it lock onto us?”
Rose dug around in her jacket pocket, pulling out what resembled a mobile phone. She flicked it open…and then sighed and snapped it closed, tucking it away. “I have to be able to contact project control, but whatever the Daleks used to cut the TARDIS’s power must have affected my phone.”
“Yeah,” Jack said, “it’s done that to my wrist strap as well.” He really should have guessed that it would have been a one-way trip, really; him getting it working this once has been more of a fluke, after it had burnt out when they’d transported the space whale from the warehouse it had been imprisoned in to the dock under the Hub.
“Surrender Doctor!” the Dalek outside the TARDIS shouted once more.
“Okay,” the Time Lord said, straightening his shoulders. “All together, shall we?”
“Do the Daleks have any way of knowing how many of us are in here?” Clint asked. “We could leave someone behind, have them sneak out and explore after the Daleks have the others?”
Jack liked that plan, and was about to say so, when the Doctor shook his head emphatically. “The Daleks will most likely send a patrol in here after we’re in custody. Besides, I’m not leaving anyone behind in here.”
Clint frowned, and Jack could see he was considering the Doctor’s words. He could also tell that the archer wasn’t sure he believed what he’d just been told, or if it was just a case of the Doctor not wanting Torchwood staying inside alone.
Personally, Jack figured it was the latter.
“Oh, and you’d best leave your weapons behind,” the Doctor also said. “The moment the Daleks see those they’ll most likely exterminate you.”
Jack glanced over at where he’d dropped his big gun when they’d carried the Doctor into the TARDIS; it was sitting beside the one Rose had brought with her. The Doctor had a point, but at the same time he was going to keep his Webley on him, and just make certain his coat was closed. The Daleks might disregard it as not being effective against them.
The same went for Clint’s bow. The only reasons it had worked against the Dalek in the street was because he’d outfitted several of his arrows with the explosives that Patrick had managed to smuggle into the Hub and the archer’s phenomenal aim. Otherwise it would have been useless.
“Blimey,” the Doctor sighed. “Let’s go and get this over with, shall we?”
With that, he spun on his heel and walked toward the door. Rose glanced at Jack, and then followed. Jack met Clint’s gaze, and he would practically read the archer wanting to deny the Doctor’s edict that they all leave the suspect safety of the TARDIS. Jack didn’t blame him, but he gave a faint nod and Clint returned it, pulling first his bow away from his quiver, then the quiver over his shoulder, and he carefully set them down near the gun Jack had abandoned. He didn’t look happy about it.
Jack wasn’t, either.
The problem was, that despite everything Jack did trust the Doctor. He’d saved the planet so many times that the immortal had faith that he’d be able to do so again. It was the reason he’d gone off from the Hub to find the Time Lord; to help him with whatever plan that he would pull out of the hat.
Taking a deep breath, Jack left the relative safety of the TARDIS and stepped out into the Dalek’s space station.
The space beyond the TARDIS doors was enormous. Jack looked around, stunned by the sheer number of Daleks he could see. The Doctor had been correct: this was a Dalek Empire, one that could very well take over the universe if it wanted to.
He could remember when the former Doctor – the one he’d known – had been blindsided by the mad Dalek Emperor and the force that it had commanded. He’d been so certain that he’d gotten rid of every last one of them when he’d destroyed Gallifrey during the Time War, that it had taken him several minutes to regroup before he could even begin to deal with the situation.
Now, it was different.
Now, the Doctor confronted the Daleks that were waiting for them. There were millions, some on the floor of the ship they were in; others hovering in the air, all of them chanting in unison, a terrible, grating sound that had Jack shivering as he stood there.
“Daleks reign supreme! Daleks reign supreme!”
In that single moment, Jack doubted they’d be able to do much of anything to stop whatever it was the Daleks were going to do. There were just too many of them, and unless there was a stroke of pure luck there were trapped. He mentally said goodbye to Ianto, who’d only been his true mate for such a short time.
And then, the unmistakable sound of the TARDIS door slamming shut had Jack spinning around so fast he was almost dizzy.
The TARDIS was closed.
With Donna and Clint still inside.