30 April 2009
The entire Hub was silent as the section of monitor that had once held the image of Harriet Jones went to snow.
Ianto stopped singing.
“We have complete control of the sub-wave network,” Toshiko broke the silence, sounding tired.
Jack wondered if it had all been worth it, in the end.
As soon as that thought had crossed his mind, the area where Harriet had been just moments before flickered, and a face that Jack had thought he’d never see again faded into being.
It was the Doctor.
He wasn’t alone. A red-headed woman was with him, and they were peering into the screen as if they were going to physically come through it. From the background Jack could tell the TARDIS hadn’t changed since the last time he’d been on board, and he wasn’t sure if that was good, or bad.
Jack knew that the Doctor’s current Companion was a woman named Donna Noble; Martha had shared that information just after that mess with ATMOS and before she’d been so quickly transferred to New York. He’d done a bit of a check on her, just out of curiosity, and knew that she’d been a temp at H.C. Clements – one of Torchwood London’s many fronts – and had met the Doctor because of the incident with the Racnoss. UNIT was still cleaning up that particular mess, and Jack was content to let them at it…as long as any alien tech they recovered ended up back with Torchwood.
Jack didn’t speak. He really didn’t know what to say. They’d parted under such strained circumstances after the time paradox had been broken, after Ianto had killed the Master after declaring a Vow of Vengeance against the mad Time Lord for his treatment of Jack…and of the entire planet. It hadn’t helped that the Great Dragons and their Friends had spoken for the Earth, and had backed Ianto’s action. The Doctor had felt betrayed, Jack could see it, but he couldn’t bring himself to condemn his mate for anything he’d done.
Martha and Sarah Jane, however, began talking over each other in their haste to fill the Doctor in.
“Where the hell have you been – “
“It’s the Daleks, they’re taking people out of their homes – “
“They’re taking them up to their spaceship – “
The Doctor was grinning like a maniac. “Look at you all! Such clever people…”
Jack felt slightly condescended to. Which was strange considering the Doctor had used that exact tone of voice many times in the past, in his old regeneration, and he could tell the Time Lord was impressed.
“Sarah Jane! And Martha Jones!” His eyes flickered toward Jack, and they hardened slightly. “And Torchwood!”
“And who’s…” Donna pointed at the screen, right at Jack. “He?”
He didn’t even get to answer before the Doctor was answering. “That’s Jack. And just…don’t.”
Now Jack was feeling insulted.
Donna, though, didn’t seem to recognise what the Doctor had just implied. She was smiling. “It’s like an outer space Facebook!”
Jack couldn’t help but hear Toshiko’s offended snort. He’d been a witness to her rants about Facebook and internet security and how it would be so very easy to take down the entire platform with a single line of code.
“I notice she didn’t ask about the rest of us,” Ianto whispered in Jack’s ear, his laugher a puff of hot breath on his neck.
Jack didn’t know if the Doctor or Donna heard him, because the monitor fritzed out, and each of the four sections was gone.
Toshiko cursed under her breath. “Someone’s hijacking the network,” she snarled. Her fingers pounded her keyboard possibly harder than they needed to as she attempted to get the others back.
“Can you block it?” Jack asked.
“Not sure,” his technician replied, frustrated. “No one should be able to hack it, if what Harriet Jones had claimed is true, and I don’t know enough about it yet to confirm that.”
The picture on the screen began to reinitialise, but instead of the split screen before, a single figure took up the entire monitor.
The being was wizened, with age or damage Jack wasn’t sure, but was most likely both. The creature’s eyes were gone, melded over with wrinkled and sunken flesh. A single blue light rested against its forehead, glowing balefully from the image, and a strange sort of head piece arched over the back of the bald head.
Jack shivered. While he’d never seen this alien before, he knew who it was even before the Doctor’s voice identified it.
The creator of the Daleks.
“Your voice is different,” Davros said, his own a strange combination of organic and mechanical, “and yet, your arrogance is unchanged.”
“But you’re dead,” he heard Ms Smith gasp. It seemed as if they still had audio with the other people on the network.
Jack had read the file; the one written by Commodore Harry Sullivan about his travels with the Doctor and Ms Smith. One of those trips had been to Skaro, at the very beginning of the Daleks, and how they’d met Davros. The report had claimed that Davros had been killed by his own creations, but Jack knew differently. There were terrible tales out there of Davros and his creations, and Jack had researched every single one of them. If a person knew their enemy, it was the first step in overcoming your fear of them.
That hadn’t actually worked. Jack was still quite terrified of the Daleks, but he suspected that he would carry that fear for the rest of his unnaturally long life. His first death had been at the blasters of the Daleks, and that trauma wouldn’t go away.
“Welcome to my new Empire, Doctor.” Davros was practically purring, and even without eyes Jack could see just how pleased he was.
“A new Dalek Empire,” Ianto whispered, horrified. Jack reached between them and took his mate’s hand, understanding just how the dragon felt. The Daleks at Canary Wharf had been bad enough, but for them to have regained so much power…this was the sort of empire that had fought the Time Lords and very nearly beat them.
“It’s only fitting that you should be a witness to the resurrection and triumph of my creations,” Davros went on.
The Doctor was silent. It was even more disturbing than Davros’ quiet madness.
Jack could hear Donna speaking, talking the Doctor down from the shock he must have been feeling. Despite his lingering anger at the Time Lord Jack did feel sorry for him, to be facing an enemy he’d long thought dealt with, in the rubble of his own home.
“But, you’re dead.” The Doctor’s voice was totally wrecked.
Jack almost felt bad for listening in. This was something that was extremely personal, and they shouldn’t be witnessing it, even if it was only from Davros’ side.
But they needed to know what Davros had planned, and what the Daleks were doing. He could apologise later if it was needed.
“In the first year of the Time War,” the Doctor continued, “at the gates of Elysium. I saw your command ship fly into the jaws of the Nightmare Childe. I tried to save you…”
Jack felt Ianto grip his hand harder. He didn’t need to see his mate to know that the dragon was bothered by that. Jack couldn’t blame him; Davros had wrought chaos and death throughout time and space, and the Doctor had wanted to rescue him from whatever this Nightmare Childe was.
And yet, the immortal could understand, in a way. The words, Everyone lives, floated through his memory, and the sight of the Doctor’s former regeneration, Jack’s Doctor, practically dancing with the knowledge that he’d been able to save everyone who’d been affected by the nanogenes during World War Two. To the Doctor, all life was precious, even that of an enemy who’d tried to destroy the universe.
But that was the difference between the Doctor and Jack, and Ianto as well. There couldn’t just be blanket forgiveness, especially when that forgiveness was something the Doctor didn’t have the right to give, to include the victims of those he would absolve of culpability. The Doctor sometimes couldn’t see that.
It had been never more evident in his behaviour with the Master, after that Year.
It hadn’t been within the Time Lord’s power to forgive the Master for what he’d done to anyone else except himself. Certainly, Jack could let the Doctor forgive the Master for what he’d done to the Time Lord, but he simply couldn’t do that for the entire planet. And, when the Great Dragons and their Friends had pointed that out, the Doctor had acted as if they didn’t matter.
The one main extenuating circumstance had been that the Doctor hadn’t been alone any longer, that there was now another Time Lord to share his loneliness with. The problem with that being the Master would never have seen it that way. He would have eventually escaped, and then the entirety of creation would have been in danger once more. And, it would have been very probable that the Doctor himself would have been a victim of the Master’s insanity as well.
Jack didn’t know if the Doctor’s attempted rescue of Davros would have led to the creator of the Daleks to justice for the horror he’d unleashed onto the universe from that bunker of Skaro, but that was a bit too late now.
He glanced around at his team, as the Doctor and Davros continued to talk. Each of them had various looks of confusion on their faces, and he couldn’t blame them. Some of what was going on over the sub-wave was above his own knowledge, despite Jack’s on research into the Doctor’s doings. He hadn’t been present during the Time War, as those two had, and had no reference for their conversation.
However, he didn’t miss it when Davros claimed to have grown his new Daleks out of the cells of his own body. Nor did he miss his team’s reaction to seeing Davros’ body picked apart, his organs showing, bragging about how pure the Dalek race was now.
It made Jack a bit ill, to be honest. Davros was truly mad, cannibalising his own flesh to create the most hated race throughout space and time. In a way, it made him think of the Brecon Beacons, and the horror that had hidden within a sleepy Welsh village.
“They are the new Daleks,” Davros gloated. “True Daleks. They are my children, Doctor. And what do you have?”
“After all this time,” the Doctor managed to say, still sounding utterly shocked, “after everything we’ve seen…everything we’ve lost…” He paused, and Jack wished he could see the Time Lord’s face, but all that was on the screen was the hideously scarred face of a madman. “I have only one thing to say to you…” And then his voice changed, just before the sub-wave cut out entirely, full of almost manic glee, “Bye!”
It was startling, but Jack couldn’t allow himself to stand there. He knew the Doctor well enough, that there was only one place he’d be going to.
“We need to find the Doctor,” he snapped. He leaned over Toshiko, close enough to feel her slight trembling. He didn’t want to ask her for anything else, but he had to. “Can you find him?”
She grinned, and it was an ugly thing, a rictus full of teeth and pain. “Just watch me.”