5 February 5114
Anwyn Pendragon – nee Harkness-Jones – was exhausted down to her very bones, which ached from the beating she’d taken earlier that day.
Transmatting from Earth’s orbital space dock wasn’t the smooth trip it usually was, but Anwyn figured that had more to do with her physical condition than anything else. She sighed as the familiar walls of the transmat terminal in her family home shimmered into view around her, and she shrugged the sling she wore to support her damaged shoulder into a more comfortable position as she stepped from the cubicle and into the hallway.
It wasn’t empty. Her son, Arthur, was waiting for her, and he wrapped her up into a careful hug as she emerged. Anwyn finally let herself relax, even as upset as she was the very presence of her little boy – not really a boy, but a man expecting his first child – calmed her quite a lot.
“Thank Goddess you’re okay,” Arthur murmured into her hair. “I was so worried when news of what happened on the Imperial Throneworld was reported to us…”
“I’m alright,” she said, pulling back slightly. “It could have been so much worse…”
Arthur’s blue eyes examined her, and Anwyn knew he was categorising her myriad injuries. It took a lot to take one of them down, and those bastards had tried their damnedest to do just that. “Any news of Uncle Phillip?” he asked, carefully cupping the bruise on her cheek.
Anwyn barely held in the hiss as his fingers, as gentle as they were, touched her skin. “Nothing,” she admitted. “One of the attackers was left behind, and Steve is questioning him. Hopefully we’ll get something out of him that will give us some sort of clue.”
Arthur nodded. Anwyn knew that while her son wasn’t as familiar with Uncle Phillip’s comrades in the Shieldsmen as she was, he was well aware of just how far they would go to retrieve one of their own…especially Phillip Pendragon. “Did you let them know that Torchwood is at their disposal?”
She nodded. “Steve said he’d call if he needed anything.”
“Good. But right now, we have something else to worry about.”
Anwyn frowned as Arthur ushered her into the enormous lounge of the family home. “What’s going on?”
“We don’t know,” her Tad, Ianto Jones, said, startling her. She should have known he’d be there; after all, this was his house and had been for millennia. “Anwyn, you look worse than I thought you would.”
Her Tad’s arms were around her, and Anwyn felt the rest of her tension vanish in his familiar embrace. “I’m sorry, Tad,” she whispered, not caring that he was holding her just wrong so that her injured shoulder began throbbing worse than it had been. “I couldn’t stop them…”
“You tried,” he said, pulling back just enough to kiss her forehead. “There wasn’t a thing you could do.”
Anwyn really wanted to believe that. The attack had been such a shock…there’d been no warning at all, and the Imperial Palace should have been shielded against all sorts of teleportation, which meant that it had to have been an inside job. She’d fought as hard as she could, but they’d been too well armed and had obviously been expecting her being there.
She might have even been the distraction they’d needed in order to get to her uncle, and Anwyn didn’t care for that thought at all.
“Come on,” her Tad took her by the hand and finished leading her into the family lounge. Her Dad, Jack Harkness, was sitting in one of the large, overstuffed chairs, his face pale and drawn and he was looking so small that Anwyn couldn’t keep the tiny whimper of fear from escaping her lips. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d seen her Dad like that, and she pulled away from her Tad and launched herself forward, ignoring her bruises in order to kneel in front of him. Her good hand was trembling as she reached out and took his; his skin, usually so warm, was chilled under her fingers.
“What’s wrong?” she exclaimed as her Dad lowered her eyes to look at her, dark circles making them look as if they were as bruised as Anwyn was.
“Hello, sweetheart,” Jack murmured, his voice a pale echo of his normal, boisterous tone. “There’s something…I can feel it, but I don’t know what it is.”
“You know your Dad’s immortality is because of his connection to the Time Vortex,” Ianto said, sitting on the arm of the chair and wrapping an arm around his mate’s shoulders.
Anwyn nodded. She knew the whole story of how her Dad had become immortal: how Rose Tyler, his friend, had channelled the Vortex and had wished him to be alive, only she hadn’t been able to control it and it made Jack unable to stay dead. It was also the partial reason she and her siblings and the rest of her blood family were also so long-lived.
“We believe someone’s trying to manipulate the timelines,” Arthur went on. “It’s also affecting Merlin, but worse than it is with Grandfather.”
She looked up at her son, now seeing what she thought was concern was actual real fear; fear for his own mate, as well as for Jack. “How is it affecting Merlin?”
“He’s retreated into himself,” her son answered. “I can’t get through to him at all. And his magic has somehow cocooned him, like it’s protecting him in some way. I managed to get him to bed but that’s all I could do.” He looked as if he wanted to wring his hands, but pride was keeping him from losing that much control, even in front of his family.
“When did this start?” Anwyn asked, although a terrible realisation was dawning on her. It was too much of a coincidence…
“About the same time Phillip was taken,” Ianto said softly.
“How does this make sense?” she asked. “I know he was taken for some reason we don’t know yet, but how would his kidnapping affect time?”
Jack glanced up at her Tad; Ianto leaned over, resting his forehead against Jack’s own. “Whatever is going on is affecting our own memories,” Ianto admitted. “We…can’t remember if it had something to do with the past or if it’s something completely different.”
“I can answer that,” a new voice said from the door.
Anwyn stood, gaping as her younger brother, Franklin, entered the room. She hadn’t seen him since the dragon children had been released from their shells, twelve years ago.
But then, that was just like Franklin. It was as if he’d been born with itchy feet, feeling as if he needed to travel the entire Twelve Galaxies and unable to settle down in one place. At 1642 years old, Franklin was the oldest of the children not to have gained his dragon form; having been born from their Dad, he wouldn’t obtain that until he’d found his mate. It hadn’t stopped him from taking lovers, or from getting himself pregnant, but Anwyn adored her niece and nephew, the twins Nicole and Nathan, and she knew as well as anyone that the best birth control in the universe sometimes just didn’t work.
Franklin wasn’t overly tall, or conventionally handsome like their fathers. His nose looked as if it had been broken a couple of times and not healed properly; Anwyn actually remembered one time it had happened, during a bar fight on Space Station Zed, where she’d had to drag his sorry arse back to her ship to patch him up after he’d gotten into an argument with a drunken Corliani. His dark blond hair was the lightest in the family, and his eyes were some sort of bizarre combination of both their parents with a small splash of green in them, giving them an almost kaleidoscopic aspect.
Her brother looked slightly freaked out, and more than a little scared. Anwyn wanted to go over and hug him, but at the same time if he knew what was going on… “What is it?” she wanted to know.
Franklin came farther into the room, where Ianto was there to greet him with a hug. Franklin clutched at him almost frantically, and when Ianto pulled away Anwyn could see the confusion in their Tad’s eyes. “What is it, son?”
“And how do you even know something’s wrong?” Arthur demanded.
“I’ve known something was gonna happen for a long time,” Franklin admitted, scuffing his boot toe against the carpet as if he was a small boy having been caught in committing some sort of naughty act. “But I couldn’t say anything because the past and future couldn’t be changed.” He suddenly pulled himself up to his full height, his spine straight. “Phillip’s been taken back to the past. The year 2014 to be precise.”
“But how do you know?” Anwyn pressed, wanting this to make sense when it really didn’t.
“Because I was there.”