Owen was trying hard to concentrate on the job in front of him and not succeeding. Like everyone else he was too worried. It was more than twenty four hours now since the bottom dropped out of all their worlds. Ok, they knew now that Jack wasn’t going to be charged with murder. But the repercussions of what had happened still hung over their heads like the Sword of Damocles. And until Jack reported in from wherever he was it would remain.
He stood up, pretending to stretch himself casually after sitting at a keyboard. He looked around the too quiet hub. Ianto was in the rest area trying to fill the empty time with picking up the accumulated rubbish. Toshiko was turned away from her workstation at the moment, feeding Etsuko from a bottle of expressed breast milk that she kept in a bottle cooler under the desk. She caught his eye momentarily. She was worried. Very worried. Owen stepped nearer and touched the baby on the head, but he couldn’t think of anything he could say.
“The mood pebbles are in overdrive,” she said, nodding towards the sinister pair of rocks she kept on her desk. They were both a deep red colour at the moment, soaking up all the anxiety around the Hub. Toshiko’s attentions to the baby, the love she exuded when she was looking after her, acted as a dampener on the cumulative mood, but at the moment the fine balance was tipped towards nervous apprehension.
He looked around as he heard the great round metal door at the front entrance of the Hub rolling back and his heart jumped as he saw the familiar old fashioned greatcoat silhouetted against the doorframe.
“Ianto!” he yelled. They both raced to where Jack stood, not quite in and not quite out of the Hub. Owen reached him first by a single pace and grabbed hold of him by the shoulders. He looked as if he could have fallen down any moment.
“Captain,” Owen said to him. “Where the hell have you been? What have you done to yourself? You look wrecked.”
“We were worried,” Ianto added. “We called Kathy Swanson and she said you left the scene of crime on foot about ten o’clock this morning. Where did you go?”
“Why didn’t you call in?” Owen asked. “Worried doesn’t come into it. We didn’t know what had happened to you.”
“Walking,” Jack answered. “I was walking. Just walking.”
“Walking?” Owen and Ianto, and Toshiko who put Etsuko in her carrycot before coming to his side, looked at each other. They all knew that Jack’s idea of walking tended to involve the tops of high buildings with long drops in front of him.
“I just needed some time to myself,” he added.
“You’ve been gone most of the day,” Owen pointed out. “Jack, Captain, what happened to you?”
“I’m ok. Really I am,” he insisted. But he didn’t look ok. Somewhere along the line he must have washed his face, but the tell tale signs were there. His skin looked waxen and cold. His eyes were red rimmed. He’d been crying.
They none of them imagined that Jack was an emotionless machine, but to see him looking THAT wrecked was a shock. He was the one they all thought of as invincible, who they expected to be standing if the rest of them fell. They ALL felt a little vulnerable to see him that way.
“I’m ok,” he said again and shrugged off their attentions, gently but insistently as he walked to his office. He took off his coat and put it on the peg and then sat down at his desk. He looked as if it was business as usual. But nothing about the business of the past twenty-four hours was usual. And it told on his face.
“Coffee,” Ianto said. “He needs coffee.”
“Yeah,” Owen answered absently as Ianto rushed off. He stepped closer to the office door. He watched Jack for a long minute before speaking.
“Don’t shut us out, Captain,” he said. “We’re a team. We’re in this together.”
Jack looked at him and his eyes registered that he understood what Owen was saying but the rest of his face remained expressionless and distant. Ianto returned with a steaming mug of very strong coffee. Jack drank half the cup in one swallow without even noticing it was hot and then looked up again. Toshiko had joined them at the door. They ALL looked worried. They cared what happened to him. They weren’t just a team of work colleagues. They were friends.
And he was grateful to them.
“I’m sorry,” he said, managing a half smile that he genuinely meant. “I went off the rails for a bit. I’m back now. So… what’s happening?”
“We’re working on the case,” Toshiko said. “The ritual murders. Kathy Swanson seems pretty adamant this isn’t in our frame of reference, but she’s wrong.”
“Damn right she is,” Jack responded. “So… what have you got?”
“We’ve got Gloria deliberately holding out on us for a start,” Owen answered as Jack stood up from his desk and came to the workstation where Toshiko had been compiling details of eight murders that had occurred in the city over fourteen days. “She buried these reports. She wanted to stop them being flagged by our routine scans of the police records.”
Jack quickly read the salient details of the eight reports. All the victims, male and female, had been eviscerated. Six of them before Huw Ap Thomas, and the last one found this morning when the neighbour in the flat below found water dripping from his bathroom ceiling – and then realised the water was red from the blood mixed in it. That was the one that cleared his name. But he had taken no satisfaction in being vindicated. As he had looked at the bloody carcass of what had been a living, breathing, Human being he had just felt sick. This one had been a woman, Mary Roberts, a shoe shop manager. Single, living on her own, though she slept in a double bed and the routine search of the scene of crime had found that she kept a selection of condoms in the drawer by her bed and obviously enjoyed a regular sex life.
But that didn’t give anyone the right to gut her and leave her body floating in an overflowing bath.
He started to read further down the page but Toshiko looked at him then flicked to the screensaver programme.
“No,” he said. “Put it back.”
“You don’t look like…” she began.
“I don’t need protecting, Tosh. This is me. I’ve seen everything. And I think I know what the report says. It says that the victims were all alive when they were being gutted. They knew what was happening to them, and it took several agonising minutes for them to die.”
He had worked out as much for himself. And it was one of the reasons why it had taken him so long to make his feet turn back towards the Hub. The images just wouldn’t leave his head. Huw, dying, knowing he was dying, maybe saying some of those prayers he set such store by, maybe begging for an end to the agony, maybe believing this was his punishment for his night of ‘fornication’. Mary Roberts, feeling the heat of her own blood mingling with the warm bath water before death came as a relief from the suffering.
“Captain?” Owen touched him on the shoulder and he shook himself back to the present moment.
He was too close to this case. He wasn’t being objective enough. He had to get it together, he told himself.
“I’m ok,” he said. “So… do we have anything that Kathy and her lot don’t have? Do we have ANY idea what this is about?”
“YES,” Toshiko answered emphatically. “WE know what connects all of the victims. I don’t know why she missed it. It was sticking out like a sore thumb. These people ALL belonged to the same church.”
“When we say church,” Owen added. “What we mean is, weird-arse cult.”
Toshiko turned to another screen on her multi-tasking workstation and showed the details of an organisation called The Temple of Redemption.
“The Temple of Redemption opens its doors to the damned and offers them the chance of redemption and forgiveness for their sins,” announced the website. “All are welcome. We will show the way to a better life in this world and the next. Prayers for the souls of repentant sinners said daily from sunrise to sunset.”
“Why do I feel I want to check out this place?” Jack said looking at the address.
“Way ahead of you, boss,” Owen answered. “Alun and Gwen went down there this morning.”
“Poor Alun,” Ianto commented with a wry smile. “Two lots of chapel in one week.”
Good choice, Jack thought. Both looked as if they could TEACH Sunday School. Butter wouldn’t melt etc. They would fit right in with the Redemptionists. And if they were expected to confess any sins they both had a few stacked up.
Then he felt guilty about letting them walk into a place that seemed to be at the centre of mass murder. It should have been him.
“They’ll be ok,” Owen said to him, almost as if he was reading his thoughts. “They’re both way smarter and way tougher than they look.”
“Are we in contact with them?” Jack asked. “Are you monitoring them?”
“No,” Toshiko told him. “Alun said it was best not to. He thought the Redemptionists might be suspicious. He took a pen camera, to get pictures. But we won’t know anything until they get back.”
That made sense, but Jack was uneasy.
“How long have they been gone?”
Ianto looked at his watch. It was three thirty in the afternoon.
“Just over seven hours.”
“That’s a long time to watch a bunch of Holy Joes praying,” Jack noted. “If we don’t hear from them in the next hour…”
He turned and went back to his office. There WERE a stack of things he should have been doing. They ALL had cases they should be working on. There was still the bloody crop circle issue, and a whole series of lights in the sky over Swansea, Weevil attacks and other routine stuff. But his heart wasn’t in it. He turned on his computer and accessed the case notes Toshiko had compiled. He went over them, looking for something, anything, that would give an extra clue to what it was all about. There wasn’t much. Mostly stuff about the last known movements of the victims. Most of them seemed to have been out enjoying themselves. There were a lot of clips from CCTV. Jack’s heart skipped when he found a string of them showing him and Huw in the club – was it really only Sunday night? It felt like longer. He watched for a while, watched the two of them dancing, copping a feel, snogging as they moved to the rhythm of the music.
Huw really hadn’t looked or acted like somebody who worried about repenting his sins, he reflected. He sighed as he watched them in a slow dance clinch. He remembered they were both turned on by each other, but Huw had been the one who dared reach for Jack’s zip and reach inside. Jack had felt like he was in heaven.
Now he was in hell.
Though he refused to believe that Huw was. For all he had joked with Ianto about damnation, he simply would not accept the narrow view that a basically decent man who didn’t lie, steal or hurt any other living being was damned just because he enjoyed a sex life that was proscribed by the book of Leviticus millennia ago.
Jack wasn’t even sure, if he thought about it, whether there WAS such a thing as heaven and hell anyway. And he was the best qualified to say anything on the subject. He had stopped counting how many times he had died after the first fifty resurrections. He didn’t remember anything about being dead except a black nothingness that he was usually glad to rise back from. He didn’t feel he was being judged while he was in the nothingness, though. He knew it wasn’t anything to do with any Human concept of God that he came back to life every time.
Maybe he went to a different place to everyone else, he considered briefly. Perhaps those who only died once were judged and given that eternal and final pass or fail, but he never got that far.
He hoped not. He hoped, he really DID hope that the black oblivion he had glimpsed so often was it. It WAS a kind of peace. And he hoped that was what Huw found when the end came. Peace and no more pain. He hoped all the victims found that. Peace of the mind and body. That wasn’t such a bad thing to hope for.
Owen’s sudden shout brought him back from his deep thoughts. He was on his feet and running as the pavement lift descended, but Ianto was there first. Alun and Gwen were coming down. They looked physically unharmed, but Alun was having problems with Gwen, particularly stopping her from getting off the paving stone before it reached the bottom.
“I should have used the front door,” he admitted as Ianto and Jack both reached to take her off his hands. “But I thought this was quicker. I had to get her down here before she got arrested for disturbing the peace! It was getting embarrassing crossing the Plas with her offering to pray for everyone’s sins. And especially when she started singing.”
On cue, Gwen started to sing. It was a simple Sunday School hymn about how much Jesus loved her. As she sang she clung to the foot long wooden cross she had in her hands, pressing it against her.
“What the hell?” Toshiko’s astonished gasp summed up all their feelings. “What’s wrong with her?”
“She’s been hypnotised,” Alun answered. “I’ll explain in a minute. Can we please get her somewhere safe? She doesn’t know if she’s coming or going.”
For a moment Jack thought about the cells, but no way was he putting Gwen in one of them, not even the padded one, although she looked and sounded like a prime candidate for it right now.
“Put her in my office,” he said. “She can lie down on the sofa. She might settle down a bit.”
“You should be on that sofa,” Owen pointed out. “You still look bloody knackered.”
“I am,” he admitted. “But I’ll sleep when this is over.”
It was not as hard as he expected to get Gwen to lie down on the sofa. What they couldn’t do was get her to be quiet. When she wasn’t singing or praying she was quoting from the bible. Jack didn’t even know she KNEW the bible in that much detail.
And when she wasn’t doing that, she was crying softly as she repented all of her sins, most of which, he noted, were sexual. Owen and Alun both tried not to notice that their names were mentioned, Owen’s repeatedly.
“I’ve never seen religion affect anyone like that before,” Owen commented as he tried to take her pulse and listen to her heart, concerned about what the emotional stress she was going through might do to her physically. “Weird as fuck!”
“You haven’t been to the Temple of Redemption!” Alun commented. “She’s pretty mild compared to some of them there. Praying, crying, throwing themselves on the floor in penitence. Incidentally, WHY hasn’t Gwen undergone hypnosis conditioning? I thought it was standard for Torchwood employees. It IS for U.N.I.T. personnel. I did it ages ago. That’s why I wasn’t affected.”
“Oh hell,” Jack responded. “That would be my fault. I should have made sure Gwen and Toshiko both went for re-conditioning after the Great Chaulloachla’s funny business.”
He glanced at Gwen as she launched into the Lords’ Prayer for the twentieth time since she had been lying there. Another thing for him to feel guilty about today.
“Alun,” Toshiko called. “I’ve downloaded your pictures.”
Jack used the wall projector rather than a computer screen to display the pictures Alun had secretly taken using a tiny camera disguised as a pen in the top pocket of his suit jacket. Not secret agent, but secret alien. Another design confiscated from visitors. These particular ones claimed just to be sightseers, but the sights they were seeing included several military bases and what was left of Torchwood One, so they were sent back into space with their souvenirs confiscated and a stern warning.
“That’s the outside of the Temple,” Alun said, sounding a little like HE was showing his holiday snaps at first. The Temple WAS a former church, something nineteenth century, possibly Methodist, down a back alley not far from the city centre. One of the areas that hadn’t yet been redeveloped into the new and exciting ‘happening’ city of Cardiff.
The interior views bore out that impression. It had a non-conformist feel to it. The walls of the reception room were plastered with posters with those sort of “quick quotes” from the bible that were often seen on the notice boards of churches. These ones all had a common theme. The road to hell - and how to get off it through Redemption.
“That’s Sister Rachel,” Alun continued as the next photograph showed a well-scrubbed young woman wearing a white robe and her hair cut very short, very roughly, almost as if it had been done as a punishment.
“She did it to herself, as a self-discipline, apparently,” Alun explained. “She used to have long, luxurious hair, and was a bit of a goer. Three in the bed was her speciality. Any combination. But then she found Redemption and gave up worldly sins. Now she’s one of the chief acolytes of Brother Nathaniel.”
“Real name?” Jack queried.
“I don’t think so,” Alun replied. “I saw a picture of your Huw… He was Brother Ezekiel.”
“Old Testament names,” Ianto noted.
“Where did they have a picture of Huw?” Jack asked.
“On their memorial board,” Alun told him. He found the relevant picture of a free standing display board on which a number of photographs were pinned, along with names that bore out Ianto’s old testament theory. There were biblical quotes all around the photos and a little shrine with candles burning below it.
“Sick bastards,” Jack murmured.
“I’m inclined to agree. These are Kathy Swanson’s murder victims.” Alun shuddered with horror as he went on with his story, illustrating it with pictures. Sister Rachel had taken them on a tour of the facility, showing her the classrooms where those who sought redemption from various sinful behaviour such as gambling and drinking were shown why they needed to embrace a better lifestyle.
Ok, so far, Alun noted. After all, getting people out of behaviour patterns that would either ruin them financially or kill them was no bad thing. But the largest classroom was given over to the most deadly sin of all.
According to the teachings of Brother Nathaniel, which had a distinct Leviticus ring to it, sex other than for procreation was absolutely taboo. Anything else, even between married people, was sinful excess. All couples who joined the Brethren of Redemption had to sign a pledge to abstain from all sinful sexual activity.
“Bugger that,” Owen said, and he almost certainly spoke for them all.
“Goes without saying that sex outside of marriage is a no-no,” Alun told them. “Gwen and I pretended to be a couple living together. Sister Rachel looked at us as if we were something to be pitied and promised us we would understand our error by the end of our first prayer session led by Brother Nathaniel.”
“And now, I suppose, we’re going to see your ‘session’?
Alun nodded. The pictures showed the main part of the church. It had a simple wooden altar table and a big wall mounted cross. A cross, not a crucifix. Almost certainly one of the fixtures of the original ordinary church. But the pews or seats that used to be there for Sunday service were long gone. The floor was some kind of polished wood and the penitents were kneeling or prostrated upon it.
“They come in every day,” Alun said. “Fifty to a hundred of them, and they pray all day. From sunrise to sunset. Just as it says on the website. I don’t know if it’s the same ones every day or do they take it in turns. And I think there might be some drifting through the day, some coming, some going. But it happens ALL DAY.”
“Whatever rocks their boat,” Owen commented. “Maybe we should tell the DSS. I bet some of them should be actively seeking work!”
In front of the altar were three people. In the middle was a tall, thin man who Alun said was Brother Nathaniel. He wore a black robe with a large silver cross hanging down. Beside him on the left was a man in a brown robe who Alun said was Brother Enoch and on his right a woman dressed similarly to Sister Rachel, again with her hair roughly cut.
“Another one who likes threesomes?” Owen said with a giggle. “Her and Brother Nathaniel and Brother Enoch or anyone who happens to be passing?”
“No, apparently her sin was to have had an abortion having got pregnant by her boss,” Alun told him. “Her Redemption name is Sister Bathsheba. Ianto can explain the biblical irony if you like. Our Gwen is Sister Jezebel, incidentally.”
“Sod that,” Jack said, stepping towards the screen. “Do you have a close up of Brother Enoch?”
Alun had. Jack stepped closer still. He reached out his hand and the face was reflected off it.
“That’s no bloody Brother Enoch,” he spat angrily. “That’s Detective Inspector fucking Endaf my-middle-name-is-Homophobic-and-my-hobby-is-queer-bashing fucking Jenkins.”
“Detective Inspector?” The most salient words in Jack’s invective echoed as each of the team repeated it.
“He’s on Kathy’s team?” Toshiko asked. “Wow. No WONDER there was no connection with the Redemptionists. HE buried the evidence. Even Kathy didn’t see it.”
“The bastard knew I was innocent from the start,” Jack said. “He gave me all that shit just because he hates gays.”
“He does that,” Alun confirmed. “When Nathaniel wasn’t preaching he took over and he was even more vehement than the boss man about sodomy and onanism and associated unnatural acts of the flesh.”
“What was Nathaniel doing when he wasn’t preaching?” Jack asked. “Disembowelling people who happen to enjoy unnatural acts of the flesh?”
“Not today, anyway,” Alun answered him. “He was busy initiating the new penitents. There was a queue. Gwen and I had to wait our turn. We went into his inner sanctum one by one.”
“You let Gwen go into a room alone with that weirdo?” Jack’s eyes glittered angrily for a moment, then he realised Alun had no choice, and Gwen, when all was said and done, was a more senior Torchwood agent than he was. The fact that she was a woman shouldn’t cloud his judgement. Torchwood was a modern, equal opportunities employer, but Torchwood personnel could still be old-fashioned in their thinking and he was no exception.
“Never mind,” he continued. “So what happened in the ‘Inner Sanctum?”
“Well, Gwen came out with that cross and a funny look in her eyes and went to pray for forgiveness of her sins etc. She was at it for three hours before I could persuade her to come away. And as you can see, she’s still doing it.”
Gwen’s prayers and hymns had been a background noise all along. They had all mentally shut it out. Ianto looked around at her and checked his watch, then he went out of the office and typed something at Owen’s workstation. Then he went to the rest area and came back with a cup of coffee. He looked at his watch again as he stood over Gwen. The others looked on curiously as he counted down to zero, and right on cue Gwen stopped singing all Things Bright and Beautiful and sat up, puzzled. She dropped the cross and took the cup of coffee instead.
“What the bloody hell happened?” she asked. “My jaw aches like I’ve been talking for hours and… Is THAT the time?”
“Ianto, how did you know?” Owen asked.
“Jack’s friend started acting weird at sunrise,” he answered. “And the Redemptionists pray from sunrise to sunset. Sunset was thirty seconds ago when Gwen woke up from the trance or whatever it was.”
“You mean that anyone who has fallen under Nathaniel’s hypnotic power…” Toshiko spoke slowly as she reasoned it out. “They’re held by it during the daylight hours. But as soon as the sun sets, whatever time that is, they’re free of his influence.”
“That explains why Huw changed so dramatically when the sun rose,” Jack said.
“It makes absolutely no sense,” Owen protested. “There is no logic, no scientific basis for it. Sunrise and sunset have no special properties. It’s ridiculous.”
“Yes,” Jack agreed. “It IS ridiculous. But how else do you explain what happened to Gwen?”
They all turned and looked at Gwen, who hugged the empty coffee cup as closely as she had held the cross when in her trance.
“What do you remember?” Ianto asked her gently.
“I remember it was mid-morning and I went into the ‘inner sanctum’ to see that Nathaniel bloke. I sat down opposite him and…” Her eyes grew big as she remembered. “He was so weird. His EYES….”
“Yeah,” Alun said. “I was just getting to that. It was the same with me. Only remember I said I’ve had hypnosis conditioning. So when he turned the glowing eye thing on me, nothing happened. I made it seem like it was. I answered his questions, responded as if I was in his thrall, but I never was, not even for a moment.”
Everyone looked at the slightly out of focus picture of Brother Nathaniel in his inner sanctum. There was definitely something funny about his eyes.
Something not Human.
Because, yes, humans did have green eyes sometimes.
But not with beams of green light coming out of them.
“None of the pictures after that came out,” Toshiko confirmed. “I’m not sure if he suspected or it’s just a side effect of whatever that is.”
“It’s alien,” Jack said. “Nothing Human does that. And he sure isn’t a messenger of God.” He looked at Alun. “Are you sure he didn’t know you were unaffected by him?”
“I don’t know. I think I fooled him. But he doesn’t seem like the sort of man who’s easily fooled. I think it quite likely I was marked down as the next ‘sacrifice’.
“Sacrifice?” It was Ianto who echoed the word and put his hand on his lover’s shoulder protectively. Jack winced at the word, too, but his mind was working a step ahead.
“Did you give them your address? Do they know where to find you?”
“Yes,” he said. “I told them Gwen and me live together. I figured maybe…”
“Stakeout!” Owen said with a grin. “Yeah.”
“Good idea,” Jack agreed. “But we’re not offering up either of you two as lambs to the slaughter. Gwen, you’re supposed to be working late shift tonight, aren’t you? What about Rhys? Is he defrosting a frozen meal for one while you’re working?”
“No,” Gwen answered. “He’s arranged to spend the night with his rugby mates. Told him I’d cook him a special supper tomorrow night when I get in.”
“Ok, that’s fine. You and Toshiko are on remote surveillance here. And yes, you can call me a male chauvinist pig. But I don’t think this is work for either of you. I want you both safe here behind our security doors. Meanwhile, Ianto, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“Inventory number 49855?” he said with a nod and a grin.
It was nearly midnight. The flat was dark and quiet. In the bed, illuminated weakly by the city lights through the window, two figures could be seen, side by side. Neither stirred even when the lock on the front door of the flat was broken by a police issue lock buster. The three intruders were unchallenged as they crept into the bedroom. Two stood back, chanting something with a pseudo-religious tone to it while the middle one raised what looked like a curved blade and brought it slashing down into the neck of the first victim.
There was no suddenly cut off cry. There was no warm splash of blood. There WAS a rubbery, whoopee cushion sound of air escaping from a puncture hole.
And then there was another sound – of a light switch being flicked on. The bedroom was illuminated. The three turned at once. The two Humans tried to run for it and were restrained as Owen and Alun took hold of Sister Bathsheba and Ianto and Kathy Swanson grabbed Brother Enoch and pushed him to the floor none too gently. Then there was the sound of running feet as the rest of the CID unit moved into the flat.
Jack squared up to what had to be Brother Nathaniel in his true form. The creature inside the robe was more or less Nathaniel’s stringy height and body shape, but it was far from Human. The grey-brown-green mottled flesh on the leathery head was a giveaway. So were the needle-like teeth and the snakelike green eyes and beaked nose.
Jack ducked as a hand with two claw like fingers and a thumb that ended in a six inch long knifelike talon made a swipe at him. He came up fighting, a long kitchen knife in each of his own hands.
“Back off,” Jack said to the others as he fought the creature move for move, slash for slash, taking some cuts himself and inflicting them, too. “This murdering bastard is mine. He’s going to feel the pain he inflicted on Huw, and the others he slaughtered.”
“He is the servant of God, sent to cleanse the Earth of the unrighteous,” cried Brother Enoch, aka DI Endaf Jenkins.
“You’re not serious!” Owen looked at him as DCI Swanson held him by one handcuffed arm. “Is THAT what you sickos really think? Because you all need a wake up call if you imagine any God worshipped on this planet sent THAT as a servant. And where do you get off calling anyone unrighteous, you sanctimonious twat.”
“It doesn’t come from God!” Jack grunted as his fight continued. “It’s an alien.” He ducked again and avoided having his head sliced clean off before coming back with a move that caught the creature off guard. Jack slammed it to the floor and there was a sickening slicing sound as he pushed his knife through the creature’s wrist and pinned it to the floor. He stabbed at the other hand and impaled it through the palm. The creature screamed and struggled but Jack pushed the knives in deeper.
“So where DO you come from?” he demanded of the creature as he held his hands around its neck.
“Cena-Gexo Chi,” it rasped. “I am a Dégé. A demi-God worshipped by the people of that world. My purpose was to cleanse them of the unrighteous. Those who committed acts of licentiousness were given to me for my satisfaction. I cut the still warm innards from the body and consumed them as the life was extinguished.”
“You mean you really DO eat the livers of your victims. You really ARE a sick bastard.”
“But there was a rebellion against the law. The licentious prevailed. I was cast out. I found this world. The rift drew me. A source of power that allowed me to take on a humanlike form. A power wasted on a credulous people like humanity. And I found in humanity so much licentiousness and lust. I gathered the sinners to me. I used the symbolism of the Earth religion to convince them to obey me. I worked my power upon them. I gave them the opportunity to save themselves. They could repent and live. By daylight my powers prevented them from committing their lewd acts but at night my powers are weak. But there in the night I knew which were the true penitents and which were mine to devour. The backsliders were hunted down by my followers and their innards were mine! I feasted upon the worthless sinners of this world.”
“Huw wasn’t worthless,” Jack responded. “None of them were worthless. You and your FAKE religion, your fake promises of a BETTER life made them feel worthless, but they weren’t. They were all of them people whose lives mattered.”
Jack’s hands squeezed tight around the neck of the creature that was Brother Nathaniel. He meant to snap it in two. He was angry enough to do so. He was so angry he didn’t see Nathaniel’s hand pull against the knife that held it and break free, ripping the soft flesh of the palm badly but free to slash at Jack’s neck. He jerked his head back quickly and though he saved his neck he suffered a deep gouge across his shoulder. He scrambled out of the way as the other arm was wrenched free, leaving a lot of alien flesh and blood, but the deadly talon that had killed eight people before was still intact as it came at Jack again.
Three shots rang out. They came from Ianto, Owen and Alun, who each drew their guns at the same moment. They struck the creature formerly known as Brother Nathaniel in the head. The creature slumped to the ground.
Jack looked around as the two acolytes let out blood-chilling cries. Sister Bathsheba looked as if she was coming to her senses. She wailed loudly as she recalled the murders she had assisted in. DI Jenkins, though, still looked murderous himself. He was handcuffed and restrained, but he cried out his imprecations against the sinners who defiled the flesh of the holy Prophet.
Jack took a step towards him.
“No!” His three colleagues all called out as they saw the barely contained anger in his eyes. Ianto stepped between him and the prisoner. “No, Jack. It isn’t worth it. HE isn’t worth it.”
“No, he isn’t,” Jack admitted. He met Ianto’s eyes with a much softer expression in his own. “I wouldn’t soil my hands touching him. DCI Swanson, you’ve got two accessories to murder there. Make sure they get what’s coming to them. Make sure they pay for what they allowed to happen to eight innocent people.”
“Take them away,” DCI Swanson said to her uniformed colleagues. “And get some officers down to the ‘Temple’ to shut it down.”
“WE’LL deal with the Temple,” Jack answered her. “It’s been the lair of an alien shapeshifter for months. It’s definitely OUR territory.”
“I suppose YOU will deal with THAT, too?” She pointed to the body of the creature.
“We will,” Jack answered her. She nodded. That covered everything.
“Jack,” she said. “I am sorry. I really am. I should have kept a closer eye on Jenkins. If I had, if we’d made the connection sooner, your friend might still be alive. For that I am VERY sorry. And for… I let him lay into you in the interview room…. I let him overstep the mark because I really… for a while… I really did think it was you. And I felt so betrayed…”
“Betrayed!” Jack answered bitterly. “You want to talk about betrayal. How do you think I felt…” He stopped. He looked at her again. He knew that she WAS genuinely trying to rebuild the bridges between them. He tried to meet her halfway, but it was difficult.
“Let it go, Boss,” Owen told him. “It’s over now. Let it be over for you, as well.”
Jack looked at him and sighed. Then he turned around and shook hands with the DCI and thanked her for her co-operation in the stakeout.
“There are still a lot of questions about all this,” Swanson told him. “And I will be looking for most of the answers from you, Jack Harkness. But….” She looked at the slashed and deflated things lying on the bed and then to the four Torchwood men. “Off the record, which one of you owns the his and hers anatomically correct blow up dolls?”
All four looked her in the eye steadily. Their faces were inscrutable. Ianto broke the silence.
“Inventory no. 49855,” he said. “Delicious Della and Big Bob. We confiscated them from a Fallicarian who had outstayed his welcome on Earth.”
As the words “What’s a Fallicarian” formed on Kathy Swanson’s lips Jack explained that it was a non-humanoid creature with a huge head and twelve tentacles.
“And believe me, you don’t want to know what it did with Della and Bob’s anatomically correct parts,” he added.
Kathy Swanson looked at him and wondered if he was telling the truth and decided she REALLY didn’t want to know.