Ianto and Alun were just a little drunk when they emerged from the After Dark Club at something past three o’clock in the morning. They had hardly had to buy any drinks. It was well known among the staff and clientele that they worked for Torchwood and quite a few of both had reason to be grateful for that organisation’s protection of their way of life. They held each other up and stumbled along Castle Street in the wrong direction for the taxi rank.
“I don’t want to get a taxi yet,” Alun said. “Let’s take a walk in the park.” He lunged off the pavement and across the road towards the entrance to the Sophia Gardens. The gate was closed, but Alun climbed it, landing surprisingly agilely on the other side. Ianto followed him.
“You do realise we’re not supposed to be in here,” he said to his lover. “If we’re caught, we’ll be fucked. Can you imagine what Jack would say if he got called up in the middle of the night to bail us out for drunk and disorderly.”
“We don’t have to call Jack,” Alun replied with a giggle. “We could call your mum!”
“Over my dead body,” Ianto responded. He chased Alun into the cover of the trees and pinned him against the old, thick trunk of an oak that still had some dry leaves left on it yet. It wasn’t as cold as it might be for October and the night air merely excited them and made what they were doing seem daring.
“Well, seeing as we’re already drunk, disorderly and trespassing, let’s add lewd behaviour to the charges,” Alun said as he kissed Ianto and reached down to the zip of his trousers. Ianto laughed and did the same. They could be home by now, having sex in the comfort of their own bed, but it was fun to do something a little risqué for once. The mutual groping in the dark was satisfying in a whole different way.
“You lead me astray,” Ianto giggled as they pressed close to the tree and kissed again. “I used to be a chapel-going boy, you know.”
“That was long before I knew you,” Alun answered. “Jack’s the one who led you astray. Then you led me astray.”
“You were gagging for it.”
“Yeah, I was.”
They both laughed again. Then they froze. They had heard something in the darkness, something coming through the undergrowth.
“Could be a dog,” Ianto ventured.
“Could be a policeman, come to arrest us for shagging up against a tree in the dark.”
It was neither. They watched in horror as a huge shape lumbered towards them. They recognised the outline and the pale mottled skin of a Weevil. Unlike the ones they saw around the city streets which habitually wore some kind of overall, or the Torchwood captives that they had standard issue clothing for, this one was naked. Its body was pale and mottled, too. Its limbs were sinewy, the torso one that men paid good money at a gym to achieve. If it wanted to attack it was stronger than either of them even if they weren’t still a little drunk and not entirely sure of their defensive instincts.
Then they heard it speak.
“Hellppp me,” it said in as hoarse voice. “Hellpppp.”
“What the fuck!” Ianto exclaimed.
“Pleeasseee… help me,” it said again. It held out its arms to them in a pleading way.
Alun stepped closer to it.
“No!” Ianto called out in panic. “It’ll rip your throat out.”
“It asked for help.”
“They can’t,” Ianto insisted. “They don’t talk.”
“Hellpppp,” it again said. “Losttttt….. pleasssse… pleassse heelllppp.”
Ianto stared as Alun stepped right up to the creature and touched it on the thickly muscled arm.
“We can help,” he said. “What happened to you? Are you hurt?”
“Frightennneddd….” It managed to say. “Heellpppp meee.”
“We’ve got to take it with us,” Alun said. “Ianto, give me a hand. We’ll get a taxi.”
“We can’t take THAT in a taxi,” Ianto pointed out.
“We can.” Alun took off his coat and wrapped it around the creature. It was too small, but it made the Weevil look something like normal, at least normal for a Friday night in uptown Cardiff. He put a scarf around its face and took hold of one arm. Ianto reluctantly took the other. They looked, in the dark, at least, like three drunk men.
The gate they had climbed over to get into the park had a bolt on the inside. They opened it and stepped out into Castle Street. They kept to the shadows as they made their way towards the taxi rank and were relieved to see a large black cab there. Alun got into the back first, then Ianto pushed the Weevil in after him and squeezed next to it. He told the driver to take them to Mermaid Quay. The driver complained that it was only a short journey, not worth the trouble. Ianto passed him a twenty pound note and told him to keep the change. He turned the ‘For Hire’ sign off and pulled away from the rank.
Ianto looked at the Weevil’s feet and hands as it sat quietly between them. The feet had long toenails, the hands had the usual thick nails that were as sharp as claws. But they were broken and bleeding as if it had clawed its way through or over something. The feet were cut, too.
It had escaped from somewhere?
That sounded as if somebody was keeping Weevils in captivity, and that never worked out well for the Weevils or the people who thought they could be domesticated.
Somebody had taught a Weevil to speak? Was that possible? Jack had been trying for decades to find out if they had any intelligence and had concluded that they were pure animal, nothing but instincts, and killer instincts at that.
But this one hadn’t tried to kill them. It had asked for help.
Ianto wasn’t sure this was a good idea or not. He was glad it WAS a short journey and that there wasn’t much traffic this late at night apart from other taxis. Jack was on the late shift tonight, having drawn the short straw. Ianto wondered if he ought to warn him what was coming in. But the taxi was already on Stuart Street. They were almost there. He searched his coat pockets for the keys to the Tourist Office. He had been the last out of there on Friday evening. Full moon was two weeks off and Beth had gone early for a weekend away with Ray.
The shops and cafes around Mermaid Quay were all closed and quiet. The only witness to their progress down to the boardwalk was a tramp sleeping in a doorway. They got the Weevil safely inside the Tourist Office and then through the concealed door and into the lift. Before Jack came from his desk to find out what was going on they had decided to take their unusual companion to the interrogation room.
“You want to interrogate a Weevil?” Jack was incredulous. “Usual procedure is to lock them in a cell and throw in a meat bone.”
“This one is different,” Ianto assured him. “You’d better watch from outside. Too many people might startle it, and it’s had time to get used to us.”
Jack stood at the big window that overlooked the interrogation room and watched as Ianto went in with a large plastic mug full of fresh milk from the fridge. He gave it to the Weevil.
“Thhaannnk youuuuu,” it hissed. Jack did a double take. A Weevil had been given a cup of milk, and it said thank you for it. He knew he wasn’t dreaming. He rarely dreamt of Weevils, and if he did, they weren’t being polite.
“Do you have a name?” Alun asked. “What should we call you?”
“Saaam,” the Weevil replied.
“Sam, ok. And… what were you doing in Sophia Gardens?”
The Weevil called Sam looked puzzled. Geography for him obviously didn’t include place names.
“The trees where we found you. What were you doing there?”
“Running from where?”
“Institution?” Ianto guessed. “Is that the word you’re trying to say?”
“Where is this institution?” Ianto asked. But he couldn’t tell them that any more than he could explain why he was in the Gardens. He had no concept of direction.
“Were you captured by the people at this institution? Did they take you there? Is that why you escaped?”
“Noooo,” he answered. “I…. wasssss boornnnn tttherrreeee.”
“What?” Jack was astonished by what he was hearing. Weevils didn’t talk. They didn’t communicate with Humans. They didn’t have cognitive understanding. But this one had said ‘thank you’ when given a drink. It had a name. It answered questions with a limited measure of intelligence. And now it had talked about being born in an institution.
“How old are you?” Ianto asked the Weevil. But it wasn’t able to answer that. Time and its passage was clearly something it could not adequately describe. That wasn’t surprising. The concept of dates, years marked by events, birthdays, Christmas, was an entirely Human idea. Animals were aware of changing seasons, the need to find shelter and warmth in winter, but as far as any science had been able to determine, they were not aware of time in a linear way, past, present, future, last year, this year.
And Weevils, even ones who could talk, were animals. That was a position he had never been able to move from for as long as he knew of their existence. They had first started coming through the Rift and colonising the sewers and dark places of Cardiff in the 1940s. He had watched successive Torchwood doctors, anthropologists, zoologists, conduct experiments to measure Weevil intelligence, and the best they could come up with was that they were somewhere on the level of monkeys. They had a loose kind of tribal instinct, usually gathering together to sleep, but they hunted separately. Although they had occasionally had females with babies in the vaults for observation they knew nothing of their mating rituals. Jack suspected it had less to do with ‘ritual’ and more to do with gang rape of any female in season.
The potential to find out everything they never knew about Weevils from this one was immeasurable. But the first thing Jack wanted to know was why it could talk and what the hell was this ‘institution’ it had mentioned.
He pressed the discreet communicator in his ear and spoke to Ianto.
“Find out more about this ‘institution’,” he said. “Where is it? And what went on there.”
“I’ll try. But he can’t answer direct questions like that. His intelligence… it’s much higher than we’ve ever seen before in a Weevil, but it’s still limited. It’s like interviewing a three year old.”
“That’s the most dangerous three year old we’ve ever interviewed,” Jack answered. “And I don’t think we can bribe it with lollipops.”
“He needs some more milk,” Alun cut in. “And something to eat. Porridge. He asked for porridge.”
“Porridge?” Jack was astonished, and also a little perplexed about how they were supposed to make porridge. “I think Beth has a box of Alpen in her back room,” he added.
“That would do,” Alun told him. “Put plenty of extra sugar in it for him.”
Jack could have pointed out that he was the director of Torchwood, the boss, and that he didn’t fetch milk and muesli for subjects in the interrogation room. But there was nobody else available. Ianto and Alun had decided ‘Sam the talking Weevil’ was their investigation and he was surplus to requirements in any capacity except fetching and carrying.
He made coffee as well as sustenance for an apparently vegetarian Weevil. He brought everything in on a tray. The Weevil drew back from him nervously. Alun took the plastic bowl and cup that had been left in the cupboard when Toshiko and Owen took Etsuko with them to their new life at Torchwood Glasgow. He offered them to ‘Sam’ with gentle words of encouragement while Jack quietly stepped out of the interrogation room.
“Jack! What’s happening?” Martha Jones had arrived for the early, early shift. She pulled off her overcoat as she came to stand beside him at the window overlooking the interrogation room. “What the hell…. Is that a….”
“They’re talking to it?”
“It’s talking to them.”
“That’s unbelievable,” Martha pointed out.
“You’re telling me.”
“Can it be they’ve naturally evolved some kind of limited vocabulary?” the Torchwood medic added.
“I suppose anything’s possible,” Jack answered. “But this one said it’s escaped from some place. I’m thinking genetic modification.”
“You mean somebody has been experimenting on Weevils. Somebody… MADE that creature in there?”
“Don’t let those two hear you call it ‘that creature’,” Jack told her. “They’re getting pretty attached to it. They’ll be asking to adopt it next.”
“I ought to run tests,” Martha said. “We ought to know what the limits of its intelligence are… and just what modifications were done… and how. I’d like to do an MRi, EKG, X-rays to see if its anatomy has been altered in any way… and cognitive tests to see just how much it really understands about the world it was born into.”
“If you want the boys to co-operate you’d better start by calling it ‘he’ not ‘it’ and apparently somebody christened it ‘Sam’.”
“Sam?” Martha drew in a breath as if that name meant something to her.
“Jack, you’ve not had nearly enough coffee this morning. You must have been around the Hub when Samantha Prentice was medic.”
“She was here for five years,” Jack answered. “In the mid-1990s. She left before the Millennium, lucky for her. She wasn’t one of the people Alex killed when he went Postal. Pretty girl, blonde with alabaster skin, hazel eyes. A real ice queen, though. Totally dedicated to her work. I had to be dying to get any attention to her. And even then she usually just took my pulse and told me to grab a clean shirt before going back to work.”
Martha thought it said something about Jack that he had remembered the only other female Medical Officer Torchwood ever had in terms of physical attractiveness and the fact that she had apparently been immune to his own sexuality.
“Samantha… female version of Sam. And do you recall anything about her specialist field of study?”
Jack took a minute to get beyond the memory of a pretty woman whom he had never had sex with. Martha waited for the penny to drop.
“She’s the one who wrote the definitive book on Weevil psychology,” he said. Of course she was. Earlier, when he had been watching Ianto and Alun interviewing ‘Sam’ he had been thinking of portions of her work that gathered together all of the notes from successive Torchwood staff over the decades along with results of her own experiments.
She was the one person outside of Torchwood who knew that Weevils were more than just a myth, a scary story for telling after dark, a shadow in the corner of the eye that might be the last thing the foolish and unwary see when they wander into unlit places at night.
“Martha, run every test you can think of… except for the mind probe. I don’t think causing something like that pain would be a smart thing to do. Find out everything you can about Sam the Weevil.”
“Where are you going?”
“To talk to his mum,” Jack answered with just a hint of facetiousness.
It wasn’t how he would have liked to spend Saturday morning. He had planned a late breakfast with Garrett and the boys and a walk in the park before lunch, then an afternoon at Techniquest and an evening at the cinema. The boys both wanted to see the new James Bond film. Garrett had been teasing them both about that all week.
If he wrapped this up quickly he might be able to join them at Techniquest. He could still have the normal Saturday he craved so much these days, the sort other people had – those who didn’t know that Weevils haunted the sewers of Cardiff and that aliens visited South Wales on a regular basis with all kinds of intentions from the benign to the downright deadly.
He found Samantha Prentice’s address on the Torchwood pension database. It was near Pontcanna Fields. That was interesting, because a creature with limited intelligence that wanted to avoid streets where people might be could get to Sophia Gardens from there, keeping within the trees, hiding in the undergrowth.
Was it that simple? Could it just be a matter of going up to the front door of their former medic and asking if she was missing a Weevil?
The address turned out to be a large, sprawling Victorian building inside a piece of private land bounded by high walls. There was an electronically controlled gate with an intercom system across the tree-lined driveway. On the gate post beside the intercom was a discreet brass plate.
Could it really be that simple?
Well, it wasn’t going to be that simple getting in. The female receptionist who answered the intercom told him peremptorily that the Institute was closed to visitors today and in any case nobody was received without an appointment.
Jack looked at the intercom for a few seconds after it went silent then backed the SUV up and drove along the unmade road beside the wall. He found a suitable place to park. He was well aware that there were security cameras all along the perimeter of the ‘Institute’ but they didn’t bother him one little bit. A small gadget on the dashboard had been blanking them one by one since he pulled up at the gate. No doubt somebody would be panicking in a room somewhere inside the house, but that was their problem.
He checked that his Webley was safely in the hip holster where he preferred to keep it when he was on any field work and slipped a standard issue Torchwood stun gun in his pocket. Then he got out of the car and climbed on the roof. From there he could reach the top of the fence. As he expected, the wire running across the top of it was electrified. It was a powerful jolt, too. He wondered if Martha would find burn marks on Sam the Weevil’s flesh from when he scaled this wall and made his escape. The poor bugger had been naked, after all. Jack at least had his thick woollen greatcoat and his pants between him and the voltage.
He dropped down the other side and headed towards the house. A guard dog ran towards him, snarling and baring its teeth. Jack didn’t like the whimper it gave out when he stunned it. The poor bloody animal was just doing what it was trained to do. He was less sympathetic towards the dog handler when he stunned him, too. He noted that the man had already reported an intruder in the grounds. He was going to be expected in the house.
He drew his Webley in his left hand and the stun gun in the right as he shouldered open the front door and entered the reception where the woman with the peremptory voice called for security.
“I want to see Samantha Prentice,” he said. “I’m from Torchwood. She knows our motto. Beyond the Government, above the police. I can shoot anyone who gets in my way, but it really would be easier on a lot of people who are just working for a living if they didn’t make me carry out that threat.”
The receptionist looked as if she was about to give up her job right away, but two security guards came running to test his resolve. He zapped them with the stun gun.
“I’ve been on the graveyard shift and I haven’t had any breakfast,” he said. “I’m more than a little pissed off just now. So the next person to try my patience will get a real bullet. Where’s Samantha Prentice?”
“Samantha Prentice is dead,” said a woman in a white lab coat who came through the inner door. “I’m Joanne Edwards, Doctor Joanne Edwards.”
“Captain Jack Harkness,” he countered. If they were going to play prefixes he was damn well going to use his. “What do you mean, dead? How and when?”
“Stop bullying my staff and come to my office,” Doctor Joanne Edwards said. “I can guess why you’re here. It was only a matter of time.”
Those security guards still standing backed off as Doctor Edwards turned and walked away again. Jack followed.
“You’ve probably checked up on us already,” she said. “So you know that the Institute is licenced as a private IVF clinic and maternity hospital.” She waved towards the clinically white door with a sign above it proclaiming it to be ‘Bronwyn Ward’. Other doors leading from the corridor were similarly titled with traditional Welsh girls’ names. There was also a theatre and neo-natal room. The door to Bronwyn Ward opened and a nurse passed through. Jack caught a glimpse of incubators and glass sided cribs with healthily pink babies inside.
Human babies, he noted.
“Before you ask, nobody is using any Torchwood proprietary technology in the treatments. I developed the procedure myself. Doctor Prentice was working on a related project but her work had nothing to do with Torchwood, either.”
“Aside from the fact that the world is already over-populated and we don’t need to deliberately make babies in a test tube, I have no objection to IVF programmes,” Jack answered. “But you know that’s not why I’m here. It’s about ‘Sam’.”
There was no disguising the expression on Doctor Edwards’ face when she looked at him.
“Yes. He’s at Torchwood. He’s safe, at least so far.”
“And you came here looking for answers to your questions about him.”
“Yes. And when I have the answers, I’ll decide what to do about him. So don’t even think about trying to lie to me.”
“I… wasn’t,” she answered. She opened the door to a large, airy office. Grey sunlight was streaming through a window that overlooked the River Taff a quarter of a mile upriver from the Pontcanna Weir. She went to her desk and pressed keys on the computer. A wall mounted screen much like the ones they used at Torchwood burst into life. Jack watched a series of videos of Doctor Samantha Prentice conducting experiments in a laboratory that didn’t overlook anything. He guessed it was in the basement. Doctor Prentice’s own voice accompanied the video images as she explained that the animals they called Weevils and Human beings had no DNA in common at all. They were entirely different species, almost certainly evolving on different planets. But nevertheless she believed it was possible, using in vitro fertilisation, to fuse the DNA and produce a hybrid that would combine the intellectual capabilities of a Human with the physical attributes of a Weevil.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” Jack said. “But why would anyone want to?”
As if that question had been anticipated, Doctor Samantha Prentice’s commentary continued.
“Humans are weak. Our bodies are fragile. We die so easily of all sorts of diseases. But Weevils are immune to almost every Human disease.”
“They would have to be, considering where they live,” Jack remarked. “But my question still stands.”
“Strong children, who don’t need multiple vaccinations against measles, polio, tuberculosis, who will never die from debilitating conditions like leukaemia, cancer….”
Jack was about to comment about that when his mobile phone buzzed in his pocket. He pressed the hands free button and listened to Gwen Cooper’s sing-song Welsh accent wishing him a good morning directly in his ear.
“Good morning, Gwen. You’re sound very cheerful for somebody who just started a Saturday morning shift at work.”
“Well, Rhys is driving to Ostend, standing in for a driver who’s called in sick. At least I have Martha and the boys for company at The Hub. I’ve got some information for you about Samantha Prentice. Martha thinks it might explain a lot about her.”
“I’m listening,” he said.
“Shortly after she left Torchwood, she and her partner had a baby by IVF. When I say partner, I mean… the other lady in the couple had the baby. He was an ordinary healthy boy up until the age of three when he contracted measles and died of complications. Her partner, the mother of the child, committed suicide a week after the funeral.”
“Ok, thanks for that, Gwen,” he said, keeping his voice as neutral as possible. “I’ll see you back at the Hub when I’m done here.” As he closed the call he carefully avoided eye contact with Doctor Edwards. A number of thoughts were running through his head. He gave a few moments consideration to the revelation that the former Torchwood medic was a lesbian. No wonder she was always immune to the Harkness come on! But the more tragic aspect of her personal history was the immediately relevant one. He thought of Gray and how losing him on that beach had eaten him up inside until there was a deep hollow in his soul. Then he thought of Ashley, who shared his own unique survival ability and understood why Samantha Prentice might have wanted a child who was indestructible, too.
But what a way of going about it!
He remembered what he had said before he left the Hub this morning.
“I’m going to talk to his mum!”
It had been a joke at the time. But now the joke had come home to roost.
He looked again at the video, which was now showing the results of the IVF experiments. They needed a strong stomach to watch for long. Jack turned and looked at Doctor Edwards. There was no need to ask the question. It was in his eyes.
“Yes, Sam was the first… and only… successful experiment. Yes, she named him after herself. After all, he was her son.”
“Please tell me it was one of those IVF procedures. She didn’t get romantic with a Weevil daddy.” That was ‘typical’ Jack Harkness sarcasm, but it actually took him a great deal of effort to get the right note of cool disinterest into it.
“We’re scientists,” Doctor Edwards replied, scandalised. “Of course the procedure was done under correct laboratory conditions.”
The dead Doctor Prentice was still talking from beyond the grave on the presentation video.
“Sam was the last of eight successful embryos I created using Human donor eggs and Weevil sperm. The first seven were implanted in female Weevils. Three of them aborted spontaneously before they were full term. Two were stillborn. One was born live but died soon after. The other… the mother killed it…. She threw it against the cell wall and crushed its skull. That was my mistake. I should have removed the infant straight after birth. The others… My conclusion was that the gestation time was insufficient. They are ready to give birth after only five months. That is typical of predatory animals for whom pregnancy is a dangerously vulnerable time. But the hybrid foetus needed a full nine months gestation. That was why I had the eighth embryo implanted in my own womb.”
Jack swore in a language rarely heard on planet Earth. “You’re serious, aren’t you? She actually gave birth to a Human/Weevil hybrid.”
“Hybrid is the technical word,” Doctor Edwards said. “She always called him a chimera. That and… her miracle. Her perfect child.”
“Whatever,” Jack responded. He watched the images on the screen of the newborn Weevil/Human hybrid before it skipped to pictures of an older baby, its first steps, detailed recordings of its first words, then the older child’s gradually expanding vocabulary. “But he’s a grown adult now and his vocabulary and understanding is that of a three year old Human. I mean, that’s outstanding for a Weevil, but for a Human, he’s seriously retarded. And that makes him dangerous.”
“You weren’t paying attention to the video,” Doctor Edwards replied. “And you certainly haven’t read any of my late colleagues notes about Weevil growth patterns. He IS three years old. Remember, his Weevil DNA… a predatory animal. Childhood is a dangerous, vulnerable time. They grow quickly.”
That made sense. After all, Samantha had left Torchwood in 1998. Fourteen years wasn’t long enough for her to have conducted the research he had seen on the video and raised ‘Sam’ to adulthood unless he was a lot younger than he appeared to be.
“Her intention was to continue to educate him, while preparing him for a series of operations to alter his larynx, enabling him to speak more clearly, and plastic surgery to make his features more…. Human.”
“Poor bastard,” Jack commented. “That’s a miserable prospect for him. No wonder he ran away from you.”
“He didn’t run away from us,” Doctor Edwards responded. “He ran away from what he is. He had never seen other Weevils before. Doctor Prentice cared for him within a separate part of the facility. But some fool left a security door unlocked. He wandered into the vault where the test subjects are kept. They reacted to him badly. I saw the CCTV footage. They all went mad when they saw him, rattling their cages, snarling, baring their teeth. One of them broke free. It cornered him. Sam would have been killed if Doctor Prentice hadn’t intervened. She went into the vault to head off the creature that was attacking her child. She had a sedative for it, but it gouged her in the neck before the medicine took effect. By the time any of us could get in there, it was too late.”
This was the live commentary that accompanied a gruesome scene recorded by the CCTV cameras in the vault. Jack viewed the death of Samantha Prentice with outward calm and resignation, but inside all he could think of was the terrible waste of Human life.
“Sam was scared, of course. The only person who had ever shown him affection, the only person he really knew, had been killed by his own kind. He ran out of the house, into the grounds. Samantha had taken him for walks outside at night, even into Pontcanna Gardens sometimes, to get him used to the world beyond the institute, but never on his own. The guard dogs chased him. He climbed the wall to get away from them, and from the only home he knew….”
“And my men found him wandering on his own, a danger to himself and to the public.”
“To himself, yes,” Doctor Edwards replied. “But never to the public. He’s not like the others. He’s not a killer. He never would.”
“He’s a Weevil,” Jack pointed out. “They’re all killers.”
“Not him. He was raised as a Human. He would never hurt anyone. He doesn’t even eat meat.”
“He’s a dangerous animal, and the only person who ever had any control over him is dead. It’s just as well he’s at Torchwood. We can deal with him.”
“Deal with him?” Doctor Edwards queried.
“Deal with him,” Jack repeated. “The same way you’re going to deal with the animals you have in your vault. Animals you captured and kept without any licence to do so. You euthanize the lot, today, and put an end to Doctor Prentice’s experiments, or I will. Do you understand me?”
“Loud and clear,” Doctor Edwards replied though reluctantly.
“My people will be returning to inspect the premises thoroughly. If they find nothing except ordinary Human IVF treatment going on then you’ll be allowed to continue doing business. But any hint of anything else….”
He was Torchwood. He was the final arbitrator of such matters.
When he was sure he had Doctor Edwards’ agreement that the experiments would end he left the house. He walked down the drive and through a gate that was opened to him. He found the SUV and drove back to the Hub with one idea in mind, putting the poor bloody hybrid child of the late Doctor Prentice out of its misery.
When he told his colleagues what he proposed, he was met with overwhelming opposition.
“Jack, you can’t,” Ianto told him across the boardroom table where they had all gathered. “Sam really isn’t dangerous.”
“We need to stop calling it Sam, for a start,” Jack told him. “You and Alun are way too emotional about this creature. It should never have lived. It’s the product of a mad scientist with a Frankenstein complex. It doesn’t belong on this planet, in this Human society of ours.”
“We saw the files you sent over,” Alun said. “Doctor Prentice’s plans for educating him. Martha said it could work.”
Jack looked at Martha.
“Yes,” she said. “It could. The operations on the larynx are actually quite easy. The plastic surgery… well, done by conventional means it would be a long drawn out, painful process. But we actually have alien tech here in the Hub… the laser scalpel that leaves no scarring and cuts down surgery time by hours… I could do it right here. As for his education… I tested his cognitive skills. Yes, he’s at the level of a three year old, which is about right since he IS three. By the time he’s twenty he could be a PhD.”
“Martha, you’re sounding like Doctor Prentice. I think you’ve got the Frankenstein complex now. What she did was insane. He should never have been born.”
“But he was,” Gwen pointed out. “And you can’t just kill him for being born.”
“Gwen, don’t turn those eyes on me,” Jack said. “He’s not a lost puppy. He’s a… a monster, for Christ sake.”
“There’s your monster, Jack,” Gwen replied, flicking a switch and turning on the wall projector. Images of Sam, still in the interrogation room, were being fed to it. He was asleep, curled up in a foetal position on a blanket on the floor. “He cried himself to sleep after the boys managed to get him to tell them what happened to Doctor Prentice… to his MOTHER. She died to protect him like any woman would. And now you want to….”
“He’s not bloody Harry Potter,” Jack snapped.
“If you want to kill him, you do it yourself, Jack,” Martha said. “But you’re on your own. None of us will help you.”
“Fine. Torchwood isn’t a fucking democracy. I’m supposed to be the one in charge.”
He stood up from the table and went down the stairs. The others watched him carry on down into the medical room. He emerged a few minutes later with a large syringe. Gwen turned her face away from the screen where he appeared moments later. She didn’t want to look as he approached the sleeping chimera. Neither did the others, but somehow none of them could turn their eyes away from the projection.
Then Alun gave a soft sigh as he watched Jack touch Sam on the shoulder. Gwen turned to see him kneel beside the creature and stroke his back gently. He had left the syringe on the table.
Ianto and Alun both ran from the boardroom. They were in the interrogation room in moments.
“Do you realise what you’ve all taken on?” Jack demanded. “You’re all Doctor Frankenstein, now. You’re responsible for him… for making sure he never leaves the Hub unaccompanied, for keeping him away from the vault. You know full well what will happen if the wild ones see him. As for the surgery… it will have to be bloody good if you think he can ever show his face in daylight.”
“Jack….” Alun asked, looking at the syringe. “Did you… was that all a bluff to see what we would do?”
“I kind of expected you to fight me,” he said.
“You’re a bastard, Jack,” Ianto told him. “A cold, calculating, total bastard.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“But I love you.”
“He can sleep in the room under my office at night,” Jack said. “During the day, you can use whatever facilities you need to teach him social skills. You can all work out a rota for watching him twenty-four-seven. He can’t be left here on his own, ever. And don’t include me in that. I’ve got a family I want to go home to at night.” He glanced at the clock. “In fact, I’m going to meet them right now. Sort this all out by yourself.”
With that he turned and left the room, looking up at the camera and nodding to Martha and Gwen in the boardroom. Before he reached the pavement lift they had run from there to meet Alun and Ianto bringing Sam to his new ‘home’ within the Hub. As he walked across the Plas and down to Mermaid Quay he smiled to himself. They had all taken on one dangerous experiment. But if Samantha Prentice’s orphan didn’t belong at Torchwood, he wasn’t sure who did.