Chapter 16: Silent Night, Holy Night
Tosh turned off her PDA and placed it back in her bag waiting as the others digested Teal’s revelations. She looked across the room to the window, the brilliance of the moon holding her attention through the thick gauze of net curtain. She shivered as a few soft clouds moped across the light reminding her instantly of the figures that attacked her earlier.
“So, trapped alien entity then,” Gwen said into the reflective silence drawing Tosh away from her thoughts.
“With a death fetish,” Owen added, “I knew a girl like that once.” He picked up the manuscript; Tosh snatched it from his examining grasp.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” She shook her head. “Bad idea.”
Owen crossed a leg over his knee making himself comfortable on Tosh’s bed. “You know what amazes me?”
The team’s interest piqued and they waited in anticipation. “How super suit, over there, remembered this was in the archives.” He gestured to the artefact with a flick of his head.
Ianto straightened his tie moving further into the room from where he stood at fringes. “It’s part of my job Owen.” He glared at the doctor, the depths of his feelings skimming the surface; it had been a trying day.
“I’m not convinced,” Owen retorted, “are you sure you weren’t upgraded at Canary Wharf? We found loads of poor buggers where the Cybermen had just reprogrammed the brain, the tops of their heads’ opened up like a boiled egg, not a pretty sight, some were still alive, poor sods, babbling like idiots, half human, half machine…”
“What happened to them?” Gwen asked, horrified.
Owen raised a knowing eyebrow. “What do you think?” There was a hint of regret in his voice.
“Most couldn’t handle the upgrade, they went mad with all the information flooding parts of the brain we never use. Others,” he paused, swallowing, “others were used for experimental purposes, locked away somewhere deep in bowels of Torchwood One…”
“But…” Gwen began.
“They weren’t human anymore, Gwen,” Owen snapped, “you saw first-hand what a partially converted Cyberman, sorry, woman can do.”
“Owen,” Jack warned.
“What happened to them, the ones Torchwood…? Tosh asked.
“They were put down,” Jack replied, “okay, enough.” His warning glance silenced further discussion.
“We need to find a way to stop this entity and soon.” Jack swiped a tired hand over his face as he looked at his watch, it was almost nine-thirty.
“What about placing the stones back in their original positions?” Gwen looked up from the copious notes she had made.
“It stopped Agroná before.” She placed a well chewed pencil to her lips.
“It may not be that straight forward,” Tosh offered, “there were no energy readings stemming from the stonework, it could be that whatever force was holding her in has declined over time. So, even if we did set the stones in place there’s no guarantee that they’ll work.”
“Okay then, plan B anyone?” Owen looked around the room.
“Agroná’s utilizing the rift energies to open a portal between past and present; we need to break her connection.” The team looked at Jack.
“Which is?” Gwen asked.
“The dead of Addoedsbren.” Jack kept his gaze steady.
“They’ve been nourishing the yew for generations but they’re not enough to sustain Agroná’s appetite, she hungers for the emotional, she thrives on that moment just before death.”
“The rip of the soul from the body.” Ianto leant against the open door of the en-suite; the room took his words with a slight echo.
Jack’s eyes looked through him, his focus drifting for just a moment. He coughed. “And that’s something she can’t get here, not in the vast quantities she needs. So she used the rift and followed Addoedsbren’s blood trail through time until she found enough suffering to feed that addiction.”
“A virtual smorgasbord of trauma,” Owen added stretching from the bed in one fluid movement.
“And her power’s stronger in the past.” Jack picked up the journal.
“We know that because she can manifest herself into the forms both Tosh and Ianto witnessed in the manuscript.”
“The old and young woman and the crow.” Gwen deduced.
Jack nodded. “But here she’s still imprisoned, she hasn’t got enough power to escape from the bind of the yew.”
“Yet,” Ianto stated.
“Yet,” Jack confirmed.
“But why can’t she just channel the rift energies to escape?” Gwen asked.
“My guess would be that they’re unpredictable and hard to control. She can just about use it to anchor herself between the two points in time.” Tosh opened up her spectacle case and gently unfolded her glasses.
“At some point the surge of energy she’s using will disperse. The bubble’s been slowly expanding since around the nineteen-fifties…”
“When William’s son was killed,” Gwen reflected, sombrely, “so she’s using the soldiers’ vengeance to give her what she requires until she’s powerful enough to free herself.”
“And her grip between the two time frames is growing with the rift,” Jack declared.
“Surely it would take a lot more deaths than team zombie have a grudge against.” Owen grabbed a bottle of water from the mini-fridge.
“Who’s to say she’ll stop there,” Ianto said, snatching the bottle from the doctor’s grasp with a smile.
Owen sighed and opened the fridge again.
“The more powerful she gets, the greater her reach.” Ianto unscrewed the top and took a sip.
“And the greater her reach, the more powerful she gets,” Owen concluded pushing the cold bottle to the bruising on his neck.
“So how do we do it, how do we break Agroná’s hold on the village?” Gwen looked around the room.
Tosh cleared her throat. “We brought back some Aspen shavings and some stakes from The Occult storeroom…”
“Great, now we’re fighting zombies with confetti and sticks,” Owen remarked, “didn’t think to bring back anything useful then, say, like a rocket launcher?”
“Boys and their toys,” Gwen said with a smile directed at Tosh.
She sighed. “The Ebadh symbol was on the manuscript and the shavings repelled whatever intent was in the translation.” She tapped the artefact.
“Thank you, Hermione Granger,” Owen applauded.
“I see those book tokens, Tosh gave you for your birthday, have been put to good use,” Ianto cut in dryly.
Owen gave a snort and opened the water.
“Okay guys, let’s get started, I have a feeling it’s gonna be a long night.” Jack looked round the room until he was the focus of everyone’s attention.
“Tosh, I want you to carry on with researching the symbols and any folklore connected to Agroná, Maponus and Nodons. Gwen, try and locate the families of George Lewis and John Howells. If there are any remaining in the village I’d like to move them out of harm’s way and stop the entity from feeding on their deaths. Get the local plod to help you with that.” Gwen rolled her eyes.
“Owen, see if you can determine the stones original positions around the graveyard
“But I thought…” He began, swallowing a gulp of water.
Jack held up his hand. “It can’t hurt.” He looked across the room at Ianto, “Ianto, a word.” His tone was stern making the other three team members exchange glances.
Jack opened the door and gestured him into the corridor, Ianto casually twisted the top back onto his water before complying. Jack watched him exit and turned back to the others. Gwen and Owen’s gaze fell quickly, only Tosh held her own; Jack gave her a gentle smile before shutting the door behind him.
Ianto stood in the middle of Jack’s room as the captain entered looking somewhat out of place in the unpacked chaos.
Jack leant against the closed door and crossed his arms. “Sit down”.
The young man hesitated looking from the chair to the double bed. “I prefer…”
“Sit.” Ianto swiftly chose the bed throwing the water bottle to one side; Jack repressed an ironic smile.
Ianto cleared his throat. “Teal was the only one who could read the manuscript in time,” he added, his eyes never breaking contact. “It was an opportunity to get in close; he would have been gone in the morning.”
Jack said nothing letting the silence work for him, he looked away in reflection.
“We would’ve found him,” his reply was curt as he studied the watercolour hung on the wall.
Ianto shook his head clinging to his belief. “No, not this time.” He inadvertently raked a hand through his hair, stopping at the knotted scar.
“He’s a ghost, Jack, he stayed visible just long enough for us to recognize his threat…”
Jack let a smile play at his lips. “Always the showman.” It’s was something they had in common.
“Yes.” Ianto waited, Jack wasn’t sure if the young man had read his mind.
He sighed and turned his attention to his shoes. “You put Tosh in danger.” He glanced up; Ianto met his gaze.
“Yes.” He swallowed. “I had no choice.”
Jack watched the flick of emotion play across his features. “You should have run it by me.”
“Would you’ve said yes?” It was an obvious question.
He watched Jack draw breath. “I don’t know,” the captain said honestly sticking his hands in his pockets, “I think it was a gamble.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow, Jack smiled; how many times had they thrown the dice before?
“It paid off.” Ianto’s voice held a trace of doubt; he clasped his hand together and leant forward.
The bed sank as Jack sat next to him. “You think the drug was enough?”
“He’s blind and human, the two things he fears most.”
“And very pissed,” Jack added, slapping both hands onto his lap with a sigh.
“He’s dangerous, Ianto and resilient.”
“You think I don’t know that, Jack.” He glanced up.
“And what if he wants revenge?” The room seemed to shrink around them.
Ianto turned back to his hands. “Then he will come to me not Torchwood,” he predicted.
Jack watched him a moment. “You’ll have to kill him.” The words whispered the question, can you?
Ianto screwed his eye closed, inhaled and turned to Jack. “I know and then it will be a personal matter, not one that will interest the Underground.”
Jack’s gaze turned back to the watercolour. “You called him out, didn’t you?”
“Yes.” It was a quiet acknowledgement.
Jack shook his head and smiled. “I probably would have killed him, you know, planting a bomb in my city.”
Ianto quirked an eyebrow. “Then it was a good thing the decision was taken out of your hands or we might have our own war to worry about.”
Jack smiled. “Remind me never to play chess with you, Ianto Jones.” His tone was light but his eyes remained serious.
“How about poker?”
Jack smirked. “As long as we play by the Jack Harkness rules.”
Ianto tilted his head. “Which are?”
Jack’s grin stretched with a mischievous eyebrow as the gap between them disappearing.
Gwen burst into the room; Ianto jumped from the bed, much to Jack’s amusement.
She looked between the two men, pausing awkwardly as her cheeks flushed. She glanced back at the open door, wondering, now, if she should have knocked. She took a large breath of air and smiled to hide her discomfort. “Our sensors at the graveyard have picked up movement and the rift detector has spiked.”
“Looks like our guys are on the move,” Jack said, standing up and reaching for the coat Ianto held, already anticipating his need, he smiled at the younger man.
“Images?” he asked, sliding his arms into the garment.
Gwen shook her head. “Quiet as…”
“The grave,” Ianto finished, straightening his already perfect tie
Copyright RMC Dec 2017