The first part of the story may seem a little domestic. That is deliberately so. I have been thinking very seriously about what should happen to Etsuko now that she is getting old enough to walk around. She is usually described as sitting in her playpen, and it occurred to me that she was starting to get like the children who lived in the cupboards and drawers in the comedy series The Brittas Empire. If you’ve seen that, you know what I mean. If not, don’t worry. But the point is, it’s time for Etsuko to move on into daycare outside the Hub. This actually serves as a useful ploy to get Toshiko out of the Hub while the action starts.
The minor rift opening in the Bay, incidentally, will pay off in a few weeks time. But as yet I haven’t written that one.
Major rift openings, spitting out people, happened in the Torchwood TV episode, End of Days, so it’s not completely unlikely. And the rift monitor, while a fine thing, is bound to get it wrong sometimes.
Originally, I intended the character that Beth meets in Bute Street to be either Miss Emily Holroyd or her assistant, Miss Alice Guppy, as seen in the 2007 episodes of Torchwood as the late Victorian Torchwood management. But I had decided that a) she would be a former lover of Jack Harkness and b) she wouldn’t necessarily get back to her own time. So I had to open up my list of Welsh names and create Olwen Norris, a lady who wears Victorian dress with a Sam Browne belt and a Mauser.
Emryn Thomas, meanwhile, would be a future lover of Jack Harkness, filling the role Ianto did before I introduced Garrett as a more complete love affair for him. Both of these characters really need fleshing out a bit more, and the possibility of them turning up again in future stories is left open in the end.
A group of young men from Eagle Squadron, the American Volunteers in the RAF in the early part of World War II, got a bit of a raw deal here, too. Some time I really would like to do justice to that brave group of men who Captain Jack Harkness is loosely connected to. But this isn’t the time. They became the victims of the plot within a plot in this story.
Diane Holmes, was the first character I decided upon for this story. I was watching Out of Time, the episode in which she features, and thought about the way I had developed the relationship between Owen and Toshiko, and envisaged the upset it would cause if she returned. I had vague ideas of Owen actually having sex wither her, and I was in two minds about whether Diane would die this time.
The time bomb virus that they are all infected with, is slightly inspired by a Stargate SG1 episode, Singularity, in which a young girl with a biological bomb inside her is brought into the Stargate Command. It is one of the better episodes of that series with a lot of emotive issues raised.
This story goes in different directions, and at one point becomes a bit like a shorter version of the Dustin Hoffman film, Outbreak, with Martha and Owen trying to save everyone from dying while searching for the cure to the virus. In the first draft, Martha simply finds a cure by trial and error. In the final, extended version, it is Diane, who has travelled through the rift for a long time, and picked up natural immunities, who develops antibodies in her blood that can be replicated to save everyone else. Torchwood, of course, can do that quickly enough to save everyone except five of the six airmen – see what I mean about them just being helpless victims, here.
I did have a bit of an idea that Emryn would turn out to be the traitor who infected them all, but in the end, I decided that it was better just to leave that open. We don’t find out who did it, or why. Perhaps a later story will reveal all. Or perhaps not. I haven’t yet decided.
Oh well, they’re all saved apart from the airmen, and Owen makes the right decision in the end. He loves Toshiko and he isn’t upset about Diane going off again.
Now this is the bit with some really interesting possibilities. Diane Holmes, lady pilot from the 1950s, Zac Walsh from Eagle Squadron, Olwen Norris from the Victorian Torchwood and Emryn Thomas from the late twenty-first century Torchwood, are all going to go off into the rift together to see what fate has in store for them. Essentially they are a roving Torchwood team with their individual talents to combine and fight alien threats wherever the rift spits them out. I’ve practically invented a spin off series! At the very least, a couple of stories in which the four of them turn up again have to be in my future plans!