Three days after ‘The Day’ when Torchwood Glasgow was getting back to business along with the rest of the city, Owen had as good an answer to his question as he was likely to get. And it came from a very unlikely source.
“Boss,” Dougal said to him as he was quietly finishing an analysis of alien DNA traces found in Dumfries before everything stopped for ‘The Day’. “There’s somebody upstairs in the tourist office. He says he wants to talk to Torchwood. Marcia is stalling him, but he’s quite insistent. Should I go and do a strong arm on him or...”
“We’d better find out what he has to say,” Owen replied. “If only to find out how he knows where we are.”
He took the turbo lift with Dougal and viewed the ‘customer’ through a spyhole in the concealed door, first. Owen recognised him straight away and told Dougal to be alert.
“Doctor Harper!” Captain John Harte, some time Time Agent smiled brightly at him. “Long time no see.”
“Not long enough for me,” Owen replied. “Stand still and keep your hands where I can see them. Move forward, slowly. The sooner you’re out of sight of innocent people, the better.” He stepped into the corridor and the concealed door closed. “Dougal, pat him down. Expect at least half a dozen weapons. Keep your hands up out of the way. Any funny business and I’ll use you for vivisection experiments in my lab.”
“No funny business,” Harte promised. “I’ve got some information about your recent ‘Visitors’. I told Jack you’d be suspicious. But I’m on the level, honest.”
“You can’t even spell honest,” Owen told him as the collection of edged blades and projectile weapons piled up. “Right, that will do. Move it. And keep your hands up.”
Toshiko looked at their visitor with distaste and stood between him and Genkei’s play pen. Darius followed Dougal and Owen into the interrogation room and put on his darkest expression as he guarded the door.
“Ok,” Owen said, glancing at the lie detector built into his side of the table. “What do you have to say?”
“The space ship,” he said. “It was an unmanned Carsathian scout ship. Fully automated, nothing but robots and computers aboard. It came to scope out planet Earth with a view to using it as a base for the Carsathian war with the Sontarans.”
“Sontarans?” Owen was familiar with that alien species, if only from reports shared with U.N.I.T. “The bunch that caused the ATMOS thing?”
“No idea,” Harte answered him. “All I do know is that we... the time agency... were tracking the ship as it left Earth’s orbit and headed back out of the solar system. It was about to jump into transwarp drive when a Sontaran battle cruiser intercepted it and blew it to atoms. Lucky escape for Earth. All the data they compiled about what a pathetically unprepared planet you are in the Twenty-first century was lost.”
“And these Sontarans?”
“Apparently they have orders from their High Command to stay away from this planet. Too much trouble in the past. Not worth getting involved. So... there you are. Alien invasion averted. You can go back to being pathetically unprepared with a clear conscience.”
“We’re not unprepared,” Owen replied. “We could have taken that ship out if we thought it was hostile.”
“Whatever. Anyway, aren’t you going to offer me coffee, talk over old times, try to slip me some Retcon?”
“You’re going to leave by the back door and if you haven’t used that vortex thing of yours to leave this planet in five minutes you’ll be sorry.”
“I haven’t been sorry for anything for a very long time,” Harte told him. “Well, if that’s all... I’ll be on my way.”
Dougal escorted him to the secure car park behind the tourist office and watched him operate his vortex manipulator. He vanished in a flash of light. He had nothing else to say. Owen turned from watching him on the CCTV monitor and called Jack Harkness.
“Yeah, I know, he’s an arrogant asshole,” Jack agreed. “But I figured you might as well know what he knew first hand.”
“I feel like fumigating the Hub after his presence here,” Owen said. “But... you believe him, about these Carsathians?”
“It fits. I’ve never heard of them before. And I always thought the Sontarans had enough on their plate with their war against the Rutans. But I guess they’ll fight anyone other than the Human race. We’ve put a rocket up their cloned asses too many times.”
“It means the ship was hostile after all,” Owen pointed out. “We would have been right if we’d fired on it.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Jack said. “If we didn’t know for certain, I don’t think we were justified. I think we did right. But next time one of them turns up in our air space... this time we know. And we’re ready.”
“Yes,” Owen agreed. Though it didn’t give him any satisfaction to know that.