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Torchwood Three; Cardiff, Wales

Monday, November 15, 2021

Jack Harkness sat in Ianto’s office holding Michael on one knee and Trefor on the other. Michael wanted to snuggle. Trefor insisted on playing chess. Dealing with the pterodactyls sounded better. Ianto and Owen were checking on one of the younger dinosaurs. A medscan indicated a problem. Atmore energy could cause asexual reproduction in reptiles. The original pterodactyl essentially cloned herself. After the island explosion, they hoped it hadn’t happened again. Parthenogensis caused genetic complications with species that had the option naturally.

The computer clicked. “Incoming call from London.”

“Accept.”

It clicked again.

“Rex?” Jack asked.

“I’m on a conference call with the prime minister. Activate video.”

Jack smiled at the absurdity. “I can’t. I’m with the boys in Ianto’s office.”

“Children?” PM Hazel Bransom asked.

“Yes. No one else is available right now.”

Bransom was not amused. “It’s important that we talk.”

“Unless it’s an emergency, Rex can handle it.”

Trefor looked at Jack to move a chess piece. He whispered his move and Trefor reached for the piece.

“Captain Harkness, there are a lot of remaining questions about the alien ship,” she persisted.

“We don’t have answers. Ms. Sato is working with Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, without information from the military groups involved in the island explosion, we have no chance of understanding what happened.” Or preventing it from happening again.

“I was assured Great Britain was not involved.”

Jack closed his eyes a moment. They had that conversation. He and Rex presented evidence of Great Britain’s involvement including the two men Ianto captured after they breached the hub through the sea wall from the Bristol Channel. “That is inaccurate. The reason I’m babysitting instead of Rhiannon Davies is because of the military attack on her daycare. Anwen is out of school until we can resolve safety concerns.”

“Rogue agents does not mean our military was involved.”

“Ma’am,” Jack said carefully, “Great Britain, Ireland, the United States and Canada, at least, were involved. The warehouses are proof. The photographs are proof. The captured military men are proof.” The fact that the Americans found the Guyana facility was proof. Jack didn’t want to discuss it after his most recent experience.

“I disagree.”

Jack whispered another chess move to Trefor. “That’s your choice. Without the governments taking responsibility, and providing details, there is nothing we can do to prevent a repeat situation.” Pause. “Now that the aliens know we’re here and we attempted to steal their technology, it’s possible they will seek us out. We are unprepared to defend against them.”

“Why? You destroyed the ship on Amsterdam island.” Bransom sounded skeptical.

“A unique situation that can’t be repeated,” Jack said. “Part of the technology necessary to access the ship was destroyed.” It was partly true. They didn’t know enough about the network of pocket dimensions to guess if they could repeat it. Azrael refused to explain how he participated.

“I need a full report. For a second opinion.”

Jack wondered if she intended to give the military details on how to prevent Torchwood from destroying ancient technology. “Even if we had details to provide, we wouldn’t. It could be used against Torchwood. Earth was lucky this time. If the military tries it again, and they will if they believe they can defend the stolen technology against us, we might not be able to fix it a second time.” He didn’t want Ianto at risk again.

“That’s not your decision to make.”

Trefor injected, “Uncle Jack keeps us safe.”

Jack set a finger lightly to Trefor’s lips. “Your scientists have neither the knowledge nor experience to evaluate alien technology. Torchwood does. It’s been defending the planet since Queen Victoria established it.” There were times Jack wished he could point out he had been part of the effort that long.

“You need help.”

“Not from a government. Any government. We need more funds. More people. And information from the military groups responsible.”

“That is unacceptable.”

Jack nodded. “Do you know what happened to this facility when the alien known as the 456 was making demands? That was the British government trying to prevent Torchwood from resolving the situation. When Miracle Day started, Torchwood was down to one active agent and one in hiding. We still dealt with it. Because of interference from multiple governments, and special interests, it was harder to resolve. There were consequences.” Jack didn’t know of a better way to say people died in front of Trefor. “As shown repeatedly, the solution is not any government asserting control over Torchwood. It’s the opposite.”

The image of Stephen’s death surfaced. It would haunt Jack for as long as he lived. He didn’t know how he could have resolved it without sacrificing his grandson. But if he’d been thinking clearly, and had more time, he would have found a way.

Bransom was not amused. “What’s the difference between my scientists and Torchwood hiring scientists?”

“Torchwood wants scientists motivated to save the planet. Great Britain chooses scientists loyal to the country.”

“It’s not a conspiracy,” she emphasized. “We have the same goal.”

An idea came to mind. “Gael Towler and Chet Cheney need formal, written permission to provide any and all knowledge of Great Britain’s use of alien technology to Torchwood. Specifically the Royal Army,” Jack said. “If there are rogues, rather than official actions, they would know.”

“Towler is a criminal in hiding and Cheney is missing.”

Jack nodded. “You just happened to know that? Towler has been out of the military for years. Unless you were read in on the attempt to fake Towler’s death using alien technology to replicate her bones, or the fact the military is after her.” Pause. “We have multiple open investigations tied to Royal Army black ops in Cardiff. It’s why we have no doubt it wasn’t rogues that attacked Torchwood.”

“Those are outrageous accusations.”

“Then authorize Towler to share information. If it’s inaccurate, we will know quickly.”

The call ended at a stalemate. Jack wondered if they needed to warn Towler. She abducted Cheney at some point claiming his life was in danger. The request for their information could make it worse.

“She lied,” Trefor said motioning toward the chess board. “Your move.”

Jack told Trefor what piece to move. “You could tell over the phone?”

The boy nodded. “She’s scared. Saying Towler,” he careful pronounced the unfamiliar name, “Made her more scared.”

“You’re sure?”

“Yep.” Pause. “Saying Guyana,” Trefor mispronounced the country name, “And Miracle Day upset you. Bad memories of when you were scared.”

Jack hadn’t realized how easily Trefor read. At four-year-olds, he didn’t necessarily understand.

Trefor motioned at the board again. Jack told said his move.

“You have check.”

Jack looked at the board. He was barely paying attention. It didn’t take much to see he could easily win. He named the final move.”

“Checkmate.”

“Better luck next time.” Jack tickled Trefor as he thought about the game. His son intentionally maneuvered the game so he won.

 

Torchwood London; London, England

Rex Matheson stood, looking out the windows at the expansive lawn and empty stables. The conflict between prime minister and Cardiff was an indication of a much bigger problem. He needed to somehow convince world leaders that Torchwood needed autonomy. If he learned anything from the US, countries often believed they knew what was best not only for themselves but everyone else. Convincing power players that global safety was more important than individual country’s priorities was probably not possible. Maybe an Internet PR campaign promoting Jack as some type of superhero would work. Fan sites and videos already offered the foundation.

A knock sounded at the door.

“Enter,” Rex said.

CeCe, the new HR director, entered carrying a tablet. “Am I interrupting?”

“No.” Rex turned and headed back to his desk.

“Whitehall requested employee records. Education and professional credentials for anyone in the science division.” CeCe sat across from him. “We don’t have one.”

Not yet, Rex thought. For a perverse moment, he thought about sending a list of historical scientists from Russia, Germany and Japan. He doubted they would recognize the names. “We don’t distribute personnel information. That endangers lives.” The government wanted to interrogate, abduct or execute the competition. This week it was the British. Next week the US or Russia. There was a long list of possibilities. After the situation with Eryn, they even had to worry about Canada.

“Is that why I don’t have access to employee files?”

“Other offices handle their own hiring and records.” Rex hadn’t thought about it. But having access to that information endangered the HR department.

“I was contacted on my personal cell phone. Not at the office.” From CeCe’s posture, there was something she hadn’t said yet.

“What?”

“The woman who called wasn’t willing to accept no.” She sighed. “I received an email a few minutes later with details from my juvenile incarceration. Including my intake psyche eval.”

Shit. “Is your background common knowledge?”

“No. I don’t talk about it. Lacene isn’t my only friend from our days in care. People know.” CeCe set the tablet on the counter. “It’s hard to find friends who understand. People say they’re understanding. But unless they’ve been there and made that decision.” She shook her head. “It’s probable whoever sent the email didn’t realize you knew.” She looked at Rex. “Did you tell anyone who referred me?”

“Langford. Jack.”

“Langford knows. He made a couple of subtle comments that a person is more than where they came from.”

“He didn’t do this.” His parents Derrin and Janne Talbot were in cryo-stasis in Cardiff for Torchwood black ops and as Jack described it “global treason.”

CeCe nodded. “I know. Langford had bad parents.” She explained, “I know the look. His parents did something he can’t forgive them for. Something people wouldn’t forgive him for if they knew.”

“I need to arrange for someone to trace that email. Would you be willing to help set-up the people trying to blackmail you?”

“Yeah. They did it to me. They will or have done it to someone else.”

Rex wondered if that explained some of the problems they were having. The government kept trying to hack the computer system to cover up a mole. He did not want to dig through employees juvenile records. And wasn’t sure how to do it without tipping off Whitehall.