30 January 5193 (Earth Standard Date)
Rhys paced all night in the room they’d dumped him into, worried about Lisa and what they might be doing to her.
Sometime before dawn, Lisa was pushed into the room. She looked even paler than usual, her silver-green eyes red-rimmed and tired. Rhys immediately pulled her into a hug, wrapping her up in his arms securely, wanting nothing more than to comfort his granddaughter and to wipe away whatever they’d put her through.
There was only one, uncomfortable bunk in the stone room, and Rhys set her down and let her lean on him, all the while silently cursing their kidnappers. He had no idea where they were, only that it seemed like in the middle of nowhere…which was a good hiding place, to be honest. No one would think of looking for them on what seemed to be a small island in the middle of some body of water with lots of fog attached. About the only thing he did know was that they were on Earth, because he could feel it.
He wanted to ask her what happened; what was going on. Sure, he’d guessed that Morgause would most likely use some sort of emotional blackmail to get Lisa to do what she wanted. That would make the most sense, and when that failed they’d probably threaten his life. He wanted to tell her not to give in, that her being in HYDRA’s pocket wasn’t worth his life, but Rhys knew damned well she wouldn’t go for it. That she’d do everything she could to protect him, no matter what that meant doing.
“I know where we are,” were the first words she uttered.
They’d been sitting there quietly for a bit, to be honest Rhys had lost track of time, only to notice that it was still dark outside when she finally spoke. He stiffened slightly out of surprise. “How do you know that, cariad?” he asked, resting his chin on her hair.
“Because I’ve been here before.”
Now, that was startling. “In your previous life?” he guessed. It was an educated one; as far as he knew, Lisa had spent much of her time on Torchwood-related worlds, in her position in Intake, and in Ddraig Llyn. None of which looked like the island they were currently on.
He felt her nod. “Back when I was Morgana, yes.”
She fell silent, and Rhys let her be. She’d talk when she was ready.
“This is Avalon,” she suddenly blurted.
Now, that was a shock, and no mistake, even though Rhys had realised that they were back on Earth from the moment they’d set foot on the island, through his bond with the Earth Dragon.
Of course, Rhys knew all about Avalon. After all, his great-grandson was Arthur, the Once and Future King. He’d been interred on Avalon after his death at the hands of Morgana and Mordred, and his body had been there for thousands of years, uncorrupted by time because of the spells that Merlin had cast on it out of grief and despair and loss.
It had been GenCorp that had discovered Avalon after so many millennia, when magic had begun to completely fail once and for all. They’d come to Avalon and taken Arthur’s body away, and it had been Jack and Ianto and Anwyn and the Doctor, as well as the man who’d known himself as Emrys, that had eventually freed Arthur’s soul in order for it to continue its journey and eventually be reborn into his current life.
As far as he knew, Anwyn still held title to the land around the area, including the lake and Avalon itself. For HYDRA to have set up base there took balls.
Despite himself, Rhys was reluctantly impressed.
“Wait,” he said, “if we’re on Avalon, what about that Lady of the Lake person? Isn’t she supposed to be somewhere around?”
Lisa frowned. “I haven’t seen her, but that doesn’t mean anything. Freya could be anywhere. But I can’t understand why she didn’t try to warn anyone that there were interlopers here. At the very least, she could have contacted the Water Dragon to let Tad know what was going on.” She shook her head. “They shouldn’t be here, and I can only guess it was Morgause’s doing.”
So, they had to count any sort of help from the Lady of the Lake out of the equation. Still, there had to be a way off without using the transmat. At least, they were on Earth, and not some planet Rhys had no idea about.
The thing was, he’d been around the Magic School enough to know that Avalon was a very special place, where magic was concerned. Yes, it had been Arthur’s resting place, but from what Rhys had heard it had been one of the remaining places of power on the planet before Merlin had managed to bring magic back to the universe. This island should be sacred, and yet HYDRA had decided that it was a really good idea to put their base there. It felt vaguely like sacrilege.
They needed to find a way to get some sort of signal out, so their family could find them. Because Rhys seriously doubted anyone would’ve been thinking to look practically under their own noses.
“Morgause grabbed me because she thought I still had all my magic,” Lisa went on. “She said she needed me for something, and then tried to recruit me. I laughed in her face.”
Rhys hugged her closer. “I’m proud of you.”
His granddaughter snorted. “Well, it was funny that she didn’t take into consideration that I might have been reborn without power. After all, she was, so I’m not sure why she thought I’d be any different. She’s not able to do what HYDRA wants her to do, and the one sorcerer she does have access to isn’t nearly strong enough.”
“And what is that?” He was very curious to know exactly what HYDRA was up to, although he could guess that some of it had to do with that tech that Phillip and his crew on Stark’s World had managed to locate.
“They need a powerful sorcerer,” she answered. “There was that weapon they were creating on Stark’s World, I do know that much, but Morgause played it all close to her chest, so to speak. She doesn’t trust me, and I certainly don’t trust her.”
“Good on you, cariad,” he congratulated. He was even prouder of her for not seeing through any sort of coercion or sweet talk that Morgause would have laid on her.
“And then she keeps calling me Morgana. I swear, she keeps that up and I’m going to punch her in the face. She just doesn’t seem to understand that that’s not me anymore.” Lisa sighed. “Is it so wrong that I just want to forget about my past self?”
“No, it’s not, and if she cared about you, she’d understand.”
Lisa had done everything in her power to leave her previous life behind. There had only been once where it had been useful, and that had been with that mess at the Library…which Rhys was now glad to know all about. Yes, he understood all about secrecy and how he wasn’t Torchwood anymore, but when it was family he wanted to be clued in, thank you very much.
He certainly got why Lisa wanted to forget. After all, Morgana had been mad and evil and not what you wanted to brag to friends about. She’d been afraid of those returning memories, as well, and had hidden herself for a long time before Samara had gotten to the bottom of things.
Goddess, he loved that woman. He’s always be glad that he’d gotten up the guts to ask her to marry him.
Samara had to be frantic with worry over him and Lisa. Well, not only her. But he had faith that they’d be searching for them, it was just that Rhys was pretty damned certain they’d never think to look for them at Avalon.
Yep, they definitely needed to get some sort of signal out, and he said as much to his granddaughter.
“Morgause sort-of showed me around,” she said. “She seems proud of this place and wanted to impress me, I think. Not that it did…this is more of a camp than a true base, and really…from what I saw HYDRA’s not as big as we were all thinking.”
“This could just be one of their bases, though. Who knows how far they’ve spread?”
She conceded the point. “Morgause did show me the lab. They’re not as advanced as I would have thought, but they’re trying to meld magic and technology in ways that I don’t think are all that compatible. I mean, I don’t know that much about it, mainly because we didn’t have all this sort of thing back when I did have magic, but I have listened to Merlin and he seems to know a lot about it.”
Rhys knew that Merlin had worked on the translation slash comms that most Torchwood operatives – and time-lost people like him – were issued, but from what he understood they were more a combination of magic and Time Lord tech, based on what the actual TARDIS did. They were dead useful, he had to admit, because not only did they translate speech, but written words as well.
Not that Rhys needed one any longer, but he did know just how important they were to anyone who didn’t speak the main language of the Human Empire, what was called Galactic Standard. He’d been shocked when he’d found out that English – and his own Welsh – had become obsolete. Well, not so much obsolete but changed beyond recognition. Ianto had explained some theory about language changes and shit, but Rhys hadn’t really paid all that much attention mainly because it wasn’t all that important to know. It had happened, and that was that. Any other time Rhys would have thought he was too old to learn a new language but Samara had been an excellent teacher.
Dating disguised as language lessons had been fun. Especially when his ‘teacher’ had such a talented tongue…in more ways than one.
“Did you see anything else?” he enquired. The more information they had, the better their chances.
“Morgause bragged a lot. She also fed me the HYDRA propaganda, about making the Empire a better place and needing to take control. I admit, I had to laugh at that, because even if they got past the Shieldsmen to reach the Imperial family, there was still Torchwood, and you know damned well Phillip wouldn’t let that stand. Neither would Dad and Tad. And that’s not even counting the Vow of Vengeance we’ve all taken. I told Morgause she was going to be shit out of luck. That’s when she had me escorted back here. She’s probably thinking I’m going to eventually come round to their way of thinking because of who I was.”
“Probably. But they don’t know you very well then, do they?”
Lisa chuckled. “Nope. Not at all.”
After that, they sat silent for a bit, until both of them dozed off. It had been a long and terrifying night, and Rhys was exhausted; he wasn’t a young man anymore, able to work long shifts and keep up with the stress. Sure, he still had a bit of time in him, but he was still over a hundred years old.
They were both roused by the sound of the door’s lock disengaging, and the door opening. They sat there as Morgause entered the room, and the woman frowned at seeing them curled up together. Rhys wanted to come right out and tell her to go fuck herself, but that wasn’t the way to go. There was still a chance that they might be separated, and he was determined to stay with his granddaughter. He didn’t want to give them any sort of excuse to part them.
“Morgana – “ she began.
Good, she wasn’t going to put up with that sort of nonsense.
“Your name is Morgana.”
Lisa stood up to face their kidnapper. “No, my name is Lisa. Lisa Harkness-Jones. The daughter of Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones. And Rhys Williams is my grandfather. I won’t be what you want, Morgause, and you’d best get used to the disappointment.”
Her back was straight and proud. There were certain mannerisms that their family had come to recognise as Lisa channelling her inner Morgana, but this wasn’t any of them. This was pure Lisa, and she was strong and sure of herself, and Rhys loved her so much.
Rhys stood up with her, to support her. She glanced at him, and smiled, then turned back to Morgause.
Who was shaking her head in denial. “You’re my sister, Morgana. You’ll always be my sister, and I want you by my side.”
“That isn’t going to happen. I’m happy with who I am, and you cannot change that. I won’t help you or HYDRA, Morgause. Get that through your head right now.”
Rhys leaned over and kissed her on the temple. “I am so very proud of you, cariad.”
She blushed under the praise. “Thank you, Grandtad.”
Morgause had stepped forward, her face thunderous. “You keep away from her,” she snarled.
“Oh, go screw yourself,” Rhys snapped, letting his temper get the better of him in that moment. “Lisa’s mine, and you can’t have her.”
“And you’re mine, Grandtad.” She took his hand. “Let us go Morgause. You’re not going to get what you want from me. I already told you, I have no magic in this life, and I won’t go along with your schemes.”
“And what if I can give you your magic back?” Morgause challenged. “What would you say to that?”
Lisa stiffened at that. Rhys knew it was possible; he’d heard the story of how Merlin’s previous incarnation before this one, Emrys Gryffudd, hadn’t had any magic, and yet the Doctor had managed to tap into the man’s previous memories in order to call Ianto and Anwyn under the geas of the Dragonlord, in order to prove to Emrys that he was more than just a science drone. But then, those memories had been very close to the surface at the time, and Merlin had eventually been reborn with full use of his magic. How Morgause could do what the Doctor had managed to was a question Rhys wasn’t sure he wanted answered.
“That’s not possible,” Lisa denied. “You don’t have the power to do that. Even you told me that much.”
“But I have this.”
From a pocket in her jacket, Morgause withdrew a clear crystal. It was the size of her fist, and it glittered under the indirect lighting of their cell…because that was what it was, a prison they’d need to escape from. It was flawless from what Rhys could tell, and even though he, himself, had no magic he could feel the power of it fluttering against his exposed skin.
If he thought Lisa was stiff before, there was nothing to compare with the stillness she exuded at the sight of that stone. “Where did you get that?” she hissed, sounding very much like a dragon in that moment.
“I thought you might recognise this,” Morgana purred, holding the stone between her fingers, letting its rough edges catch the light. “I got it from the Crystal Cave, of course. Dear Lucy was the one who enchanted it, however.” Her expression turned hard. “We know what Merlin did to her, and for that he’ll pay. But now, we need a new, powerful ally, and we want you to be that.”
“You’re not listening to me,” Lisa snapped. “I do not intend on helping you. Even if you give me my magic back against my will, I will not help you, not after what you’ve done to my family. Your assassin killed my sister. They tried to kill another of my sisters. Nothing you can say or do will get me to join your side.”
“I just don’t think you have proper motivation.” The smirk was knowing.
Before Rhys could react, Morgause was thrusting the crystal toward Lisa.
A blinding white light arced from the stone. It struck Lisa in the chest, blasting the air from her lungs and the force of it would have tossed her backward if not for Rhys’ grasp on her hand. He was able to reel her in against him, holding her up as the light engulfed her.
Then it engulfed him as well.
Every single nerve ending was sparking in agony. It danced along his body like St Elmo’s Fire, licking through him like an unstoppable tide. He could feel the power of the Earth Dragon rising within him, fighting off the foreign magic; under his feet, the ground heaved, throwing him and Lisa back onto the bed, which creaked under the impact of both of their weights.
Rhys hadn’t had a lot of use for the magic he’d gained from the Earth Dragon, not since he’d relocated to new Avalon to help Merlin with running the Magic School. It had lain dormant just under his skin, and in fact, he’d really forgotten about it. Being in a place of such history and power, and then being consumed by whatever the hell Morgause had done, was too much.
Being back on Earth meant he could access it once again.
And the ground shook at his call.