Title: Reset (4/4)
Characters: Canonical Torchwood Three members… sort of.
Rating: Some chapters definitely not safe for work.
Disclaimer: Oh, please. If I owned them, would I let some of those idiots write the scripts? And if I were making any money off them, would I be where they could find me?
Summary: Martha Jones comes to Torchwood and their world will never be the same.
Author's Note: Yes, I have altered the story of Miach just a tad here and there, you purists. But this is an Alternate Universe, yes?
Part One is here; Part two is here; Part Three is here
“Indeed we have, Miss Jones. Now, there's a matter of payment.”
"I have the money. Torchwood provides many opportunities. But you can have a choice. Money.... or the master codes to Torchwood's medical archives.”
Jack crowed in delight. “You go, Nightingale!”
“She is good,” Andy said. “She sounds like a stone cold thief.”
“Martha can sound pretty much like anything she wants,” Jack drank the last of his coffee. “Saved my life more than once with that trick.”
“Sounds like she's going upstairs.” Gwen said. “I wonder...”
A triumphant whoop stopped her. They all turned to see Owen run in, holding a vial over his head. He skidded to a stop in the middle of the room and did a little dance that had them chuckling. “The winner and still champion!”
“You figured out what Reset is?” Andy asked.
“Reset? Is that what it's called?” He offered it to Andy. “Took a while because it's so complex. Amazingly enough it's mostly herbs. I've identified over three hundred so far... Hey!”
He stepped out of the way as Ianto and Jack moved to grab Andy before he hit the floor. Handing the vial to Gwen, he dropped to his knees next to the three men.
“Let me work,” he snapped. “Tosh, get me my bag.”
Gwen held the vial to her nose and sank back into her chair. “Jack, smell this.”
He took the vial and brought it up to his nose. “That is not possible. Tosh,” he said to his technologist, “do me a favor and find out if doctor C opley has been in Ireland in the last three or four years.”
“I don't have to look,” she said from her place in the floor next to Owen. “He used to go several times a year to visit his brother, who was an archaeologist specializing in Fomorian culture.” She paused. “The brother died two years ago, an accident at a dig site. He hasn't been back since.”
Owen sat back on his heels as Tosh helped Andy to sit up. “You want to tell me what happened?”
“Reset... whatever that was you were carrying... so strong it was like being hit squarely in the chest by a train.” He sniffed like a bloodhound. “I can smell it from here. What is in that thing?”
“If Gwen is right, and I think she is,” Jack said thoughtfully, “Doctor Copley has gotten his hands on Miach's cure.”
“On what?” Owen asked.
“There's an old legend about the Tuatha. Usually the Tuatha are amused by human versions of their history, and they are more than willing to talk about them. But ask them about Miach and you'll be lucky to get away with your skin. Gwen? You want to give them your version?”
She took a deep breath. “One of the Dagda's sons, Dian Cecht, was a great physician. Of his four sons and one daughter, the fourth son, Miach, wanted to follow in his father's footsteps, so Dian Cecht took his son on as an apprentice. They boy was a hard worker and very intelligent, and he grew strong in his skill, until he was a greater physician than his father ever was.” Her voice had taken on the hypnotic quality of a teacher or priestess. “Dian Cecht grew jealous of his son's abilities. It all came to disaster when Nuadu, King of the Tuatha, lost an arm in battle. Dian Cecht made him a silver arm that almost as good as his own. Nuadu was grateful, and he never told Dian Cecht that it hurt him to move it. But Miach knew, and he made another arm for Nuadu, a flesh-and-blood one that fit as if it were his own. When Dian Cecht found out, he beat his son to death.”
“God preserve us,” Andy prayed into the silence.
“After he had killed his son, Dian Cecht howled out his grief to the winds. His daughter Airmed came, and saw the body of her brother on the ground at her father's feet. She took the body, washed it and prepared it for burial, and summoned the Tuatha for the funeral. Seven days after the burial, Airmed went to visit Miach's grave. To her amazement, she found hundreds of flowers and herbs growing on it and around it. She heard her brother's voice in the wind around her: Collect these and dry them and mix them with elixir and they will cure all the world's ills. He instructed her on the proper method of collecting each. As Airmed worked, Dian Cecht came up to her and asked her what she was doing, and she told him. Enraged that his son would presume to be a better physician even from beyond the grave, Dian Cecht smote his daughter and scattered the flowers and herbs to the four corners of the world. And so disease stalks mankind to this day.”
“Come on,” Owen scoffed. “That's just another why men get sick story. Most cultures have one.”
Gwen looked at him and he shivered at the depth behind her pupils. “We don't know much about Miach's cure, but we do know it had three hundred and sixty five flowers and herbs, one for each day of the year. There's another legend that says Airmed, who became a great physician in her own right, wrote the formula on the walls of the mound raised over her brother's grave.”
“Jack!” Ianto, who had been monitoring the transmitter, interrupted Owen's argument, “you need to hear this!”
“She's who she says she is.” The woman sounded tired. “But there's something about her illness I can't understand.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean what I said. She is ill, that is true, but it is not a normal illness. Whatever caused it,” she paused, then went on, sounding surprised, “is not natural. Her blood has been changed into something much different.”
“Interesting.” Doctor Copley hummed tonelessly for a while. “It might be useful to study her. Tomorrow, we'll prep her for surgery normally, but she just won't wake up. Allen says she told everyone in Glasgow she was going to visit her mother in London. Harkness doesn't know she's here.”
Jack closed his eyes. When he opened them they were colder than the deepest pit of hell. “Tosh, I need you to override the security in that place.”
She put a hand on his arm. “I have an idea. But I'll have to go with you.”
“Come on, then. Gwen, Andy, I want those warrants now. I don't care how you do it.”
They leaped towards their desks. The others fell into place behind Jack. None of them remembered ever seeing him so angry and even though they trusted him to hell and back none wanted those eyes turned on them. As they got into the SUV they fastened both the lap and the shoulder belts. Tosh popped open her laptop and started working; Owen and Ianto fixed their eyes on the road and prayed.
Forty-five insane minutes later, Tosh barked “Stop!”
Jack stomped on the brakes, making the car skid briefly. Tosh jumped out and ran into a large stand of old growth oak and ash. The three men followed her, stumbling where she moved easily. When they caught up with her, she was standing in the middle of a tiny glade where wild violets grew in profusion. They stopped in the shadow of the trees, somehow knowing they could not follow.
Tosh sank gracefully to the ground and waited. A few minutes later, they saw small reddish bodies streak out of the forest until the glade was teeming with them. They flowed into her lap and ran up her arms. She stroked and petted, still waiting. And then the women came, tall and willowy, with long red hair tumbling down to their heels. Their faces were sharply triangular, dominated by large eyes that glowed gold. They sank to the ground in a circle around Tosh, and they spoke without words for long minutes. Then Tosh stood up and walked towards the place where they stood, lost in the enchantment. One of the women called something out and Tosh laughed and shook her head.
“What did she say?” Owen asked.
“She said I was greedy for not sharing.” At his befuddled look, she laughed. “My harem.” She turned to Jack. “In about fifteen minutes the Farm perimeter is going to be overrun by foxes. We'll have a short window of opportunity to get in.”
They ran back to the SUV and drove on. The road skirted the side of the mountain and they could see the farmhouses in the valley below. Soon the Farm's buildings came into view, partially hidden by the high stone fence. The place was more of a manor house than a farm, but none of them were interested in architecture at the moment. Jack stopped under an overhang created by some trees growing down from a rock shelf.
“Soon now,” Tosh whispered.
She was right. A few minutes later the place erupted in chaos. The fox army crashed into the iron gates, shrieking eerily at the top of their voices. Sensors went off. The men inside the gatehouse ran out to find their ankles and calves under assault by sharp teeth. To their screams and the foxes' shrieks were added the howls of the guard dogs as they fought their leashes in order to chase the enemy. One of the guards got tangled against the gate as the two dogs he was holding tried to push their bodies through the narrow space between the two gates. Their necks trapped, their howls became panicked whines. A second guard screamed at someone inside the gatehouse, gesturing towards the choking dogs. The gates began to swing open.
Jack released the brake and the SUV jumped forward. They held on for dear life as it gained speed on the downhill curve. The sound of the engine attracted the attention of one of the men; perhaps better trained or more experienced, he immediately let go of the leashes he was holding and brought his Kalashnikov up in a wide arc, but before he could shoot he was toppled and buried under an avalanche of foxes as the little ones reversed course and streamed back into the forest. The SUV charged through the half-opened gate, metal crumbling under the impact. Jack kept it moving in a straight line, mowing down exquisite flowerbeds until it came to a stop in front of the house's front door.
Even before the SUV had fully stopped, Ianto was on the move. Keeping low, he melted into the shadows. Owen counted slowly to five and then eased himself out of his seat and onto the ground. Behind him he could hear Jack and Tosh's guns as they picked off the few guards brave enough to try to charge up the open lawn. He crawled up the three shallow steps until he reached the security plate. Tosh had been right; it was state of the art; there was no way he could do anything about it. He reversed his grip and smashed the butt of his gun against it. There was a sound of frying wires and he heard the snick of a lock being drawn back. He threw himself through the door, rolling, and came up gun at the ready.
The place seemed empty. He made a quick circuit of the rooms and found nobody, not even a char lady. By the time he came back to the entry hall, Tosh and Jack were inside. He shook his head.
“We need to look upstairs,” Tosh said. “That's where they took...”
“Jack?” Ianto's voice sounded strained. “You need to get here.”
Jack ran and they followed, no longer surprised that Jack always knew where Ianto was, and viceversa. They went out into a three-sided courtyard. Two long rows of hospital rooms opening into colonnades faced each other across a a formal garden with a fountain in the center. At the far end a separate building closed the square. Owen thought he heard music coming from it, bagpipes and harps, maybe, but when he tried to listen the sound blended into the wind and was gone.
Ianto was standing in the shadows at the end of the colonnade. “I saw a woman in a nurse's uniform take Martha in there. Jack, there's something...” he struggled to find the words, “really wrong inside that building. Can you...”
“Yes, I can feel it,” Jack put one arm around Ianto's shoulders and pulled him close. Owen did the same to Tosh, and his free hand gripped Jack's. The energy swirled around them for a moment, then Jack stepped back. “Let's go.”
Jack didn't bother with subtlety. One hard kick sent the foor flying off the hinges. Owen moved in, making sure Tosh was behind him. The only light in the place came from the reading lamp on the worktable positioned near the fireplace at the far end. Owen could see Martha standing by the fireplace holding a gun while the other woman sprawled gracelessly in the only chair.
“Didn't need a rescue, did you, Nightingale?”
“Do I ever?” Martha held her pose for a moment then gave a little cry and ran into Jack's arms. “Oh, God, oh God, Jack.”
“What's wrong, Martha?”
The lights came on before she could answer. Owen blinked rapidly to adjust his sight, and then started to turn in a circle, automatically cataloging the equipment as he went., but Tosh's little bleat of distress made him whip around and look in her direction. For the first time in his life Owen thanked whatever gods had blessed or cursed him with the inability to vomit. Tosh was standing next to a tall, narrow tank filled with fluids that swirled and shimmered in rythmic patterns. Tubes ran in and out at different levels. Suspended in the tank was a man... no, Owen realized after a closer look, a Tuatha. As Owen moved close enough to lay his hand on the glass, its eyes opened.
It was alive.
“Get away from there.” Copley stood at the door, gun in hand. “Everyone back.” At Jack's nod, everyone retreated. “Good, that's good. You didn't think I was going to let you take it. It is mine. Mine! I killed my brother for it. Do you think I would let it go?”
“I don't think you have a choice, Copley,” Jack said. “The closest you'll come to a lab from now on will be with a broom and mop.”
Copley howled in rage. He whirled, shooting wildly in the direction of the tank. The glass shattered and hoses flew in every direction. Owen watched as the Tuatha began to topple out. He reacted instinctively, running back towards the tank, ignoring Jack's shout, opening his arms to catch the body as it fell. The impact knocked him down, and he put his arms around it to keep it from rolling.
Owen's mouth opened in a soundless scream as the felt the touch of the Tuatha's mind on his. It was both violation and recognition, a glimpse into the abyss and a homecoming. Then he felt his body's cells begin to dissolve and re-form, burning, burning, and he closed his eyes, surrendering to the agony.