The location of Torchwood Cardiff in 1996 looked very much like a work in progress. The TARDIS disguised itself as a portacabin beside a huge hoarding that showed an artist’s impression of what it was all going to look like by the millennium. But for now it was very much a building site with temporary fencing and cranes reaching into the air.

“We’ve got work going on below, too,” Captain Harkness said. “The Hub is going to be extended right under all those new buildings.”

He was just making conversation as they passed unnoticed by any of the workmen busily sweeping away the long defunct docks and replacing them with a bright and exciting new leisure area with theatres and restaurants around a European style plaza. Captain Harkness led Kristoph down towards the waterside and onto a wooden quay. A few yards along there was a door set into a wooden frame. It was covered in rusty mesh that deterred breaking and entering. There couldn’t possibly be anything worth stealing behind it.

Inside the disused space Captain Harkness pressed a panel in the wall and a concealed door swung open. That lead to a dimly lit corridor where their footsteps echoed coldly and from there to a lift. Kristoph guessed quite accurately how far down it went.

They emerged into a large subterranean room which was a mix of dungeon, sewer and high-tech office space. Surrounded by rusting metal panels and concrete walls that had seen better days, banks of computers hummed and fast touch-typists worked without breaking their concentration for a moment. The only person who noticed the Captain’s return was a young woman with ‘secretary’ ingrained on her soul who asked for his visitor’s name.

“Christopher de Leon,” Kristoph told her and spelt the surname for her. She typed it into her computer and presently a small printer on her desk spat out a credit card sized visitor’s pass. She put it into a plastic cover with a clip and handed it to him.

“Harkness, where the hell have you been?” a voiced demanded. In fact, he used a much stronger word than ‘hell’, but the TARDIS was a diplomatic vessel these days. Its translation circuits filtered out profanities. Kristoph heard the milder word in his head.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, Alex,” Jack Harkness replied. “But this man can help us. He has prior knowledge of Magnus Ramasu.”

“Does he? Well… my office, now.”

The office was on a raised level, reached by metal steps. It had a glass wall overlooking the main room. The door was glass, too. Captain Harkness closed it behind him. His superior sat behind a large, tidy desk with a name plate identifying him as Alex Hopkins, Director. He didn’t seem to have any personal effects to brighten his workspace up at all.

“What do you know about the man who murdered seven of my people?” he demanded without any preamble.

“What do you know about the man my people have pursued for a thousand years through time and space because he is responsible for the deaths of seven hundred people?” Kristoph countered. “I have the greater claim. I am here to bring this man down and take him back to my own world where he will face a stronger and more thorough hand of justice than is dealt in this time and place.”

Alex Hopkins stared at Kristoph and found himself blinking as he was thoroughly out-stared. He turned to his subordinate instead.

“Harkness, is this a wind up? If it is, it’s in very poor taste, today of all days.”

“No, Alex,” he replied. “It’s for real. This man comes from the same planet as Ramasu. He’s trained to deal with his sort. He can help us. And we need help. This whole planet does. As long as Ramasu is free we’re all in danger.”

“Tell me what you know,” Kristoph repeated.

“Alex, trust me on this,” Jack Harkness said to his boss. “Show him what we have.”

Alex Hopkins looked from one man to the other, weighing up his options. One of them may well have been to throw both of them in the vault and perform vivisection on them at his convenience, but instead he nodded and turned to his desktop computer. He opened a video file.

Somebody had held a camcorder relatively steady to record the interrogation of a prisoner. He was fastened to a metal chair by leather straps while a strange implement was placed on his head. Kristoph recognised it as a primitive version of the mind probe the Celestial Intervention Agency used on suspects. Even the sophisticated version hurt like hell. This one must have been excruciating. It took a relatively short time to get him to identify himself as Magnus Ramasu.

“He was telling the truth,” Jack Harkness confirmed. “See that other gadget. The one with the green light. Best lie detector on the planet. Green for truth, red for lies.”

“From Bataxa IV,” Kristoph said. “Doesn’t work on Piscian life forms. If you’ve got any humanoid blowfish in custody don’t waste your time. And any operative of the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency who couldn’t fool it would be dead before they even reached your custody.”

The interrogation continued. Ramasu appeared to be giving a great deal of information about himself and his deeds. It was all recorded on the camcorder. Harkness himself was conducting the interrogation, operating the lie detector. On screen he looked a little smug, as if he thought he was winning. In real life, standing beside Kristoph, he could barely look at the screen.

“No,” Kristoph said. “It’s wrong. He’s not really under the influence of the probe. He’s just playing along until…”

He took no satisfaction in being right. Ramasu stretched his limbs and broke the bonds that held him to the chair. He yanked the mind probe from his head and threw it down before breaking Jack Harkness’s neck with the flick of his wrist. Two other agents died a few seconds later. Then the camera fell to the ground. They could guess the rest.

“You said he killed five of your men?”

“Four men, and a woman,” Alex corrected him. “Not counting him.”

“Then what happened? Kristoph asked. “Where did he go? How did he get out of this place? It seems to be quite secure.”

“He… used the rift manipulator,” Alex explained. “It’s….”

“I know what a rift manipulator is,” Kristoph said. “Very dangerous. What are you doing keeping one here?”

“We’re doing our best for our race, our planet,” Alex answered him. “What gives you the right to tell us what we can and can’t do? You’re an alien… according to our charter you are the enemy. I ought to have you strapped to that machine to find out what you know about…”

“Just try it,” Kristoph answered, his eyes glittering angrily. He deliberately turned away from the Torchwood director, his body language speaking volumes about where he thought Alex Hopkins came in his estimation. “Jack… tell me how you captured Ramasu in the first place.”

“It was…routine,” Jack Harkness replied. “We had a tip about an alien who was planning to use gravity disrupting bombs to rob banks. We broke into his house…”

“Two of your people died in this ‘routine’ operation.”

“Yes. He was waiting for us. Shot them down… shot all three of us. But I... I shot him before I lost consciousness. I thought I had that satisfaction at least – the one who killed my friends was dead. But when I woke up… he was… changing. He took on a whole new body. And he was alive. That’s when I knew what he was. I knew he was a Time Lord. I cuffed him before his body was finished changing. I brought him in…”

Jack stopped speaking. He looked at his boss, then at Kristoph. It was almost possible to see his face change as it all fell into place.

“We were used. Weren’t we? It wasn’t about banks. It wasn’t money. He wanted to get into Torchwood – because we have the rift manipulator. He wanted that.”

“And seven of your people paid the price.”

Alex Hopkins looked disconcerted. The responsibility for that costly mistake lay with him as the director, and he knew it.

“The blame for all the death and mayhem lies with Ramasu, and no-one else,” Kristoph told him kindly. “Show me this rift manipulator. It will tell us where he went.”

There was no more talk of charters. There was no question of Kristoph giving Torchwood information. Now they were facilitating his investigation.

The rift manipulator was something that the humans of Torchwood seemed to be proud of. Kristoph viewed it with the critical eye of an expert in such things. He wasn’t, if truth be told. He knew as much about temporal mechanics as any Time Lord who regularly used a TARDIS did. It was a whole specialist field that occupied the minds of the least sociable and usually unmarried Time Lords of Gallifrey – second sons who had dedicated themselves to applied sciences and forgotten about everything else.

But he almost certainly knew more about it than the people who had built it in a hidden room underneath downtown Cardiff.

“At least part of this is Time Lord technology,” he said. “I would say ‘stolen’ Time Lord technology, but there’s no point. You’ll only quote your charter at me again. Besides, it’s a mongrel. Bits from just about every temporal engine I’ve ever heard of. And it’s capable of opening the time and space rift that runs through this city?”

“Not usually,” Jack Harkness told him. “It’s not complete. We have always been missing crucial parts. He… didn’t seem to need them. He made it work anyway. He’s gone.”

“Gone where?” Kristoph asked. It was a rhetorical question. He looked at the rift manipulator. Mongrel was the right word. It was a mechanical Frankenstein monster to use a Human analogy. Then he took out his sonic screwdriver and touched it against one of the central sections. There was an arc of actinic blue light. Kristoph held the sonic there for several seconds before turning to the nearest computer workstation. The operator slid his chair aside deferentially as Kristoph pressed the sonic screwdriver against the hard drive unit. Immediately, the screen filled with data. The operator stared at it and then began to write something down on a pad in front of him. Jack Harkness quietly took the sheet from him.

“We’ve got a co-ordinate,” he said. “A space and time co-ordinate. We know where he went.”

“But…” The computer operator pulled himself back up to his workstation and tapped keys quickly. A map resolved itself on screen. “But the co-ordinate is meaningless. Look… it’s only a few hundred yards from where we are. It’s in the middle of a building site.”

Kristoph sighed. Jack Harkness gave out an impatient sound that was almost a growl.

“You’re not thinking fourth dimensionally,” Kristoph said. “Yes, it’s a building site now, but what is it going to be in the future, when it’s finished?”

The computer operator shrugged.

“It’s going to be the Welsh National Assembly,” Jack told them all. “In a few years’ time.”

“We haven’t even had the referendum, yet,” Alex pointed out. “We don’t have a Welsh National Assembly. How can you know what…”

“He’s right,” Kristoph interjected. “In less than a decade you will be working in the shadow of devolved government.”

“But that still makes no sense,” Alex sighed. “You said Ramasu was after planetary dominance. We’re talking about a Welsh National Parliament. He must have seriously misread the history of planet Earth. Taking over Wales… the smallest and least significant part of the United Kingdom… which doesn’t even make much impression on the European Union, let alone the world…”

“Not yet,” Jack said. “But in the future… I know what he’s going to do. We’ve got to stop him.”

“We?” Alex queried. “We can’t do a thing. He’s gone.”

“Not you,” Kristoph told him. “Me. Thank you for your co-operation. But this is where Torchwood get on with looking after Earth in the 20th century. Ramasu is down to me from here.”

He turned and headed for the exit. A huge metal door stood in his way, but he aimed the sonic screwdriver at it and it rolled back with a satisfying sound of metal grinding over stone. The lift caused him even less trouble. When he stepped out of it, though, he was surprised to see Captain Harkness waiting for him.

“Take me with you,” he said. “You need me.”

“I don’t need anyone,” Kristoph replied. “I’ve brought down harder men than Ramasu with my bare hands. I needed this information. That’s all.”

“Ok, I need you. The people he killed… they were friends of mine. I want to see… It’s not that I doubt you’ll do it. But if I’m not going to see you again after this. I want to know that it’s over. Take me with you. Let me help. Let me see that #@*&$ brought down.”

“Where did you learn Nabusa IX swear words?” Kristoph asked with a smile in his eyes if not on his lips. “All right. Come on. You’re temporarily seconded to the Gallifreyan Celestial Intervention Agency. And you’re under my command.”

“Yes, sir,” Jack Harkness replied. Kristoph nodded and carried on walking out of the Torchwood Hub and back up to the place where he left his TARDIS. Jack matched his stride. He glanced at the place where a CCTV camera was fixed, monitored down in the Hub. Usually somebody would be watching the images and would be surprised when the TARDIS dematerialised.

But she had been one of Ramasu’s victims.