There was a time, decades back, when Torchwood had employed hundreds of people in the four regional sections. Then Torchwood Four vanished in a still unsolved mystery. Torchwood Two in Glasgow folded when the Director turned all the staff into semi-sentient alien plants. Torchwood One was destroyed in the Battle of Canary Wharf and those employees who weren’t exterminated by Daleks or deleted or upgraded by cybermen found themselves unemployed overnight. Torchwood Two in Cardiff had its major job crisis on Millennium eve when the Director, Alex Hopkins, shot everyone for reasons even Jack Harkness, the only survivor of the massacre, never fully understood.
Cardiff and Glasgow reformed after those disasters, but there was little doubt that both of the once teeming Hubs were short staffed.
Even so, Owen wasn’t completely certain that Jackson Lloyd was an asset to the organisation. It hadn’t taken him long to work out why Jack Harkness had passed on the opportunity to have a fully qualified FBI man attached to the South Wales office and sent him up to Scotland.
He had only been with them a week and he had managed to rub every member of the team up the wrong way. Even Marcia in the tourist office was fed up of his breezy and ever so patronising ‘hi honey’ whenever he arrived in the morning. Shona Stuart had threatened to cut his balls off if he ever said those two words to her ever again. Toshiko didn’t even dignify him with a response unless he addressed her as Miss Sato. As she said to Owen, it wasn’t that she was a raving feminist, but even Jack Harkness with his Oklahoma farm boy accent and toothpaste smile charm had never called her ‘honey’.
Darius took a dislike to him the first time he asked if he was allergic to garlic.
“I’d bite him,” he said. “But I don’t want him as an Undead. His only endearing feature is his mortality.”
For Dougal it was his attitude towards Sandy. While not officially a member of the team, he was often in the Hub, making himself useful by keeping everyone supplied with coffee and doing the filing that stacked up on everyone’s desk because filing was such a dull job.
“Is he fully vetted?” Lloyd asked in a loud enough voice that Sandy couldn’t have failed to hear. “Seems like security is lax around this office. Civilians with access all areas….”
Dougal just told him to fuck off and mind his own business.
Munroe’s response was politer but with the same gist when Lloyd asked him what a man of his age and level of fitness did in an organisation like Torchwood.
“Put that fucking gun back in the armoury,” Owen snapped at Lloyd when he walked into his office with a shoulder holster over his shirt. “This is Glasgow, not LA. We don’t carry weapons unless it’s necessary. And it’s not fucking necessary in the Hub. Especially around the kids.”
“Kids shouldn’t be in a place like this anyway,” Lloyd responded. “This is supposed to be a top security HQ, not a crèche.”
“Fuck off and put the gun away,” Owen told him. “I’m going out to a routine UFO sighting. Apparently a flying saucer ploughed into the fairway on the sixteenth hole at Sandyhills Golf course early this morning. You might as well join the containment crew. But if you put a foot wrong, I’ll let Darius have you for lunch.”
Sandy McCoy made himself useful by driving the furniture removal van used for collecting evidence that followed on behind Torchwood Glasgow’s official car. Dougal and Shona travelled with him, leaving Jackson Lloyd beside Owen in the passenger seat of the Ford Escape. The two ex-military members of Torchwood Glasgow made a good, reliable working partnership, but they would never admit to being friends. It was a measure of how much they disliked Lloyd that they stuck together against him.
At the crash site they played the sort of games Owen remembered playing with his colleagues on Gwen Cooper when she was the newbie. They indulged all sorts of in-jokes and used acronyms for tools knowing that Lloyd couldn’t possibly know what they were talking about. Owen knew he ought to put a stop to it before they had the sort of slip up that caused so much trouble on Gwen’s first day, but he was as pissed off with the new recruit as they were and he let them have their fun.
“Lloyd,” Shona called out to him. “Dougal needs the MTM out of the toolbox.”
“What’s an MTM?” he asked. “I can’t find anything like that.”
“Metal tape measure, prat,” Dougal told him. “I want to measure how long this thing skidded before it ploughed into the ground.”
“Why?” Lloyd asked as he passed the ordinary tape measure to Dougal. “What does it matter? It’s not like you’re going to do the owner for dangerous driving. It’s an alien space ship.”
“You think?” Owen asked coolly.
“Well, yes,” Lloyd replied, irritated by the way he was being mocked even by the boss, now. “I mean… look at the fucking thing. It’s a goddamned classic UFO.”
The object that was currently spoiling the morning’s play for the members of the exclusive golf club was best described as a ‘flying saucer’. According to the more sophisticated electronic measuring device Owen had been using it was four metres in diameter including the flattened ‘wing’ all around it – giving the object a total circumference of twelve point five metres. The egg shaped cockpit in the middle was two and a half metres from end to end and was one and a half metres deep – big enough for a single occupant that wasn’t especially tall or for monitoring equipment if it was just a pre-programmed drone. The Torchwood team had plenty of past experience of both. The top side of the saucer was a dull grey metallic colour while the underside was scorched and buckled from the engine exploding on impact.
“Too classic,” Shona Stuart said. “It’s a fake.”
“Skid length is too short,” Dougal added. “If it came from beyond the atmosphere it would have been going faster. It would have cut a much longer furrow into their oh-so-pristine grass.”
“Pity,” Owen added. “The fuss the bastards made about us not adhering to their dress code, I was looking forward to telling them the whole area is radioactive and sending a hazmat team in to dig up their precious turf.”
He laughed and kicked the underside of the saucer wing. There was a hiss and engine oil spilled out into a black puddle.
“Well, that confirms it. Aliens don’t use Castrol GTX.”
Dougal shrugged and reached into his pocket. He passed Shona a five pound note. She pocketed it with a smug smile.
“Bet you the next one is real,” she said.
“Usual stake?” Dougal asked. Shona grinned.
“It’s a fake?” Lloyd stared at the ‘space ship.’ “But why?”
“When we catch the stupid buggers who’ve been building these things and flying them around Glasgow I’ll ask them,” Owen answered. “The hours we’ve wasted on this scam lately. Ok, everyone grab a piece of wing and lift it. Don’t feel at all bad about the oil leaking on the grass. With any luck it’ll all be drained out of it by the time we get it back to the road and load it into the back of our nice clean van.”
If looks could kill, they’d all have died horribly from the glares of properly dressed golfers as they manhandled the saucer by the most direct route across the course to Sandyhills road.
“You can ride shotgun this time, Jackson,” Dougal said. “Keep an eye on the ‘cargo’.”
“Why?” he demanded. “If it’s just a heap of junk.”
“It’s evidence,” Owen told him. “Do as you’re bloody well told.”
Jackson Lloyd slid into the passenger seat of the van and slammed the door rather more loudly than necessary. Sandy got into the driver’s seat and waited for the small convoy to set off.
“Not much fun for your boyfriend,” Shona said. “Having Jackson Pollock’s company all the way back to the Hub.”
“I’ll make it up to him, later,” Dougal replied with a suggestive grin.
Owen let them indulge that sort of banter in the car. Occasionally he had a twinge of guilt about the way they were all teasing the new recruit. But only a twinge, and he got over it. When they reached the Hub and transferred the fake space ship to a shed in the car park he cheerfully handed Lloyd what he called a ‘PS’.
“Pozi screwdriver,” he added. “Get the panel off the bloody thing and see if you can find some evidence of where it came from. You can’t just buy kits for something like that in Maplins. There have to be serial numbers on the moving parts that we can trace. So get cracking.”
“This isn’t the sort of thing I expected to be doing when I came here,” Lloyd pointed out, holding the screwdriver limply in his hand.
“Would you prefer to assist me in the mortuary, up to your elbows in the stomach contents of a bone fide alien autopsy?” Owen responded. “Just get on with it.”
Actually, he didn’t have an alien autopsy to do today. He was looking forward to an hour catching up on the mound of paperwork that made extra-terrestrial entrails seem a more palatable alternative. He had hardly started on it, though, when an alarm sounded in the Hub accompanied by a red flashing light.
He knew what it meant, even though it had never gone off in the Glasgow Hub before. A radiation leak somewhere on the premises. He ran from his office to find everyone doing what they were trained to do in these circumstances, starting with breaking out the hazmat suits and pulling them on. Toshiko and Shona were busy putting Genkei and Gabrielle into specially designed hoods. Genkei took it calmly. He had practised before, but Gabrielle was crying unhappily. Darius took her from Shona and she calmed for him.
“It’s not in the Hub itself,” Munroe confirmed, pulling off the stifling hood and the gloves that made operating the computers difficult. “It’s the garage.”
“Jackson irradiated himself?” Dougal queried. “How the fucking hell did he manage that?”
“Is the video link still working?” Owen asked. “See if the stupid bastard is still alive.”
“He’s alive,” Shona confirmed. Now the initial shock was over they were all trying to find out what happened. Shona switched her monitor’s view of the garage to the main screen on the wall. Everyone turned to look at Jackson Lloyd standing there, looking up at the camera. His eyes were wide open and staring and his hair was standing on end. For a moment they all wondered if he was alive or not. The lifesign detector said he was, and he was standing up, which was usually a good sign, but he didn’t seem to be moving.
“Lloyd, you bloody idiot, report,” Owen ordered him by earphone communicator. “Are you all right? What did you do?”
“His communicator may be down,” Munroe pointed out. But Owen thought it was live. He could hear a static crackle when he tried the frequency Lloyd’s earpiece was on. He just wasn’t responding.
“This is weird,” Toshiko reported. “There was a huge surge of radiation at first. That’s what set off the alarm. But now it’s dropped right down to normal background levels.”
“You mean it’s safe?” Dougal asked.
“The monitor says so,” Toshiko repeated.
“I’m taking no chances,” Owen said. “Dougal, put your hood back on and come with me. Tosh, try to find out what SORT of radiation it was and where it might have gone.”
By the time they reached the car park, Toshiko had reported that it was Cherenkov radiation, but she couldn’t say where it had gone.
“What the hell is that when it’s at home?” Owen asked, knowing that in the field of applied physics Toshiko knew far more than he did and he was probably asking for trouble. “Feel free to dumb down your reply for those of us who are only qualified as medical doctors.”
“Cherenkov radiation is electromagnetic radiation emitted when a charged particle such as an electron passes through a dielectric medium at a speed greater than the phase velocity of light in that medium. The charged particles polarize the molecules of that medium, which then turn back rapidly to their ground state, emitting radiation in the process.”
“You’re reading that off the computer, aren’t you?” Owen asked. “I know you’re an unrecognised genius in all kinds of fields, but I don’t believe you knew that. And by the way, you might want to revise your understanding of the phrase ‘dumbing down’.”
“It’s what causes nuclear reactors to glow blue,” Toshiko added. “But according to the sensors there’s none inside the garage now. You SHOULD be safe to open it.”
Owen was in the habit of believing Toshiko when she said things like that. But even so, he and Dougal approached the garage door warily, keeping a close eye on the radiation gauges on their Hazmat suit.
There was still no radiation as the electronic door opened.
What they did find was Jackson Lloyd’s body stretched on the floor.
“Oh fuck,” Owen swore. It wasn’t entirely surprising that he was dead. He had been in the vicinity of a radioactive charge, after all. What was surprising was that he wasn’t burnt in any way. There was no sign of blistering or skin damage in any form. And nor was there any actual residual radiation on his body.
But he was stone dead. Owen tried to revive him for a full ten minutes more than anyone could be expected to try before he reluctantly noted the time over the communicator and officially declared Jackson Lloyd dead.
Shona and Munroe came with a body bag and a trolley to bring him down to the mortuary. When that was done, Owen sent them back to shift the space ship to a secure bunker on the fifteenth floor.
With Darius assisting, Owen began the necessary duty of performing an autopsy on a colleague. Neither of them were sure if the fact that they disliked this colleague made it harder or easier to perform such a task.
“We all hated him,” Toshiko said, speaking on the in-ear communicator from her desk. “And now he’s dead. And it seems such a stupid way to go, that almost adds insult to injury.”
“You mean it would have been better if he’d died in some USEFUL way, like… I don’t know, taking a bullet for me?” Owen asked as he and Darius stripped Jackson Lloyd’s body and put his clothes in a radioactive waste receptacle. They were both wearing hazmat suits and hoods, still. The possibility of that kind of danger remained even though the sensors indicated no danger. Indeed, the mortuary probably had a higher level of background radiation before the body was brought in than it was currently registering.
“Yes,” Toshiko answered him. “If THAT had happened, I think I’d have been able to mourn him. As it is, I just feel… numb, and a little sick. A man died on the premises… in the middle of a routine examination of what was supposed to be a heap of junk.”
“Heaps of junk aren’t radioactive,” Owen pointed out. Darius measured the external body temperature and noted that it was two degrees higher than a healthy living Human would be. That was the first abnormal thing about the body. “When we’re done here, we need to take a closer look at that ‘fake’ space ship. It’s just possible it really is extra-terrestrial after all.”
“Aliens faking aliens?” Toshiko said. Her voice trailed away, then came back. “I just had a weird déjà vu moment, then,” she told Owen. “I said that once before…. My first week at Torchwood, when I went to London and pretended to be a medic to cover for you. The space ship that crashed into Big Ben, a couple of days before Downing Street was blown up.”
“I read the file,” Owen told her. “That fake space ship was way more convincing than our one.”
“But why….” Toshiko began. Owen stopped her. The question was a valid one, but he had more urgent matters to attend to.
“Sorry, love,” he told her. “But Jackson Lloyd’s temperature is rising. Darius pulled the rectal thermometer out and five inches deep he’s registering a hundred and five Fahrenheit. I’m just confirming that with a liver temperature…. And it’s giving me a hundred and thirty. He’s heating up from the core.”
“Boss….” Darius stepped back from the table, pointing to the body nervously. It was starting to glow with an electric blue light. Owen stepped back, too, which meant they were both on the right side of the glass shutter that slammed down when the sensors detected rising levels of radiation in the mortuary. Toshiko had seen it on her monitor, too, and her voice in his ear was worried.
“I’m all right,” he assured her before switching his earpiece to another frequency. “Shona, I would never make the mistake of thinking of you as a baby-sitter, but I really don’t like this situation. I need you to take your baby girl and my son out of the Hub and keep them away until I say so. Take them to the Green. Genkei likes the slides in the play village.”
“Please, mylimoji,” Darius added. “Keep our precious maylis safe.”
“You know I can’t say no when you talk Lithuanian,” Shona replied, her casual words masking a nervousness they all felt. The Hub was exposed. None of them were safe, and for all her protests to the contrary, she had enough maternal instincts to want to protect Gabrielle.
As soon as Genkei was on his way out of the Hub with Shona and her baby, Toshiko ran to the medical centre. She was relieved to find Owen safe on the uncontaminated side of the screen, but as she grasped his hand she stared in wonder at the sight that was causing him and Darius so much concern.
“Wow!” she managed to say about the actinic blue glow that was spreading out from Jackson Lloyd’s body. “He’s the source of Cherenkov radiation. I think it’s actually being generated within him.”
“That wouldn’t normally be possible, I’m thinking,” Owen replied. “He’s not a diuretic medium or whatever it was you said earlier.”
“Dielectric,” Toshiko corrected him. “And no, a Human body is nothing of the sort. We’re talking about the uranium rods inside a reactor core or….” Toshiko shrugged apologetically. “Sci fi geeks would claim that’s the blue glow that you see in the nacelles of the Star Ship Enterprise. A dielectric medium bombarded with charged electrons gives back the radiation – generated energy… to be turned into electricity in a nuclear power station. But a body… flesh and blood… soaks up radiation. It doesn’t radiate it back again. That’s why people die from radiation sickness. Their bodies become saturated with the stuff and they have no way to get rid of it.”
“Jackson Lloyd didn’t have radiation sickness when we found him,” Owen pointed out. “And there was no indication that he was saturated with anything.”
“There’s no way in known physics for him to have absorbed the levels of radioactive energy we were reading in the garage,” Toshiko added. “Let alone shielded that much energy from all of our sensors… let alone start emitting it again. He is NOT a dielectric medium.”
“Then this is some kind of UNknown physics,” Darius pointed out. He was still holding the rectal thermometer in his hand. He pointed it at the monitor beside him that was registering figures that he didn’t fully understand. They had to do with levels of emitted radiation within the enclosed section of the mortuary. They were Toshiko’s field, not his. But he understood that they were rising exponentially.
“Are we safe, here?” Owen asked.
“Not if those levels keep on rising,” Toshiko replied. “Look at the temperature inside there. He’s turning into a nuclear reactor.”
The blue glow filled the space behind the screen now. It wasn’t, Owen noted, actually glass, as such. It was essentially transparent steel alloy, using a formula the directors of metal sheet rolling factories of South Wales would have killed to have. It would have transformed the steel industry and made the owners of the patent multi-millionaires. Owen felt confident of the screen itself. But he wasn’t so sure about the walls or floor. The phrases ‘meltdown’ and ‘China Syndrome’ both came to mind.
Then he blinked. The process was reversing. The blue glow was being absorbed back into Lloyd’s body. The figures on the monitor screen were going down rapidly. In a few minutes the radiation levels were normal again.
“Can we open the shield?” Darius asked.
“I don’t think we should,” Toshiko warned. “The radiation didn’t dissipate. It went back inside him again.”
“Why?” Owen wondered. “What the hell is going on in there?”
There was no answer to that question forthcoming. He was starting to wonder if he should open the shield and carry on with the autopsy. It seemed as if that was the only way they were every going to find out what was happening to Lloyd’s body.
“If you go back in there and the radiation levels rise again you’ll be trapped,” Toshiko told him. “You can’t risk it.”
“I think I might have to. We can’t leave him in there indefinitely. And we have to know what this is… and where it came from.”
Part of an answer to that question came in a video link with Dougal and Munroe in the bunker where they put the space ship.
“You were right, boss,” Munroe said to him. “The ‘fake’ space ship has some real alien technology inside. We’re not talking warp shunt engines or anything of that nature. The thing couldn’t even get up enough speed to break out of our atmosphere. But it’s got an inner skin made of a light-weight polymer that didn’t originate on this planet - a plastic that acts as a radiation shield. The nuclear industry would go into meltdown over something like that. Apologies for the bad pun!”
“Apology accepted. So there was radioactive energy inside the ship. Why?”
Munroe had no answer to that. He angled the camera so that Owen could see that inner skin inside the cheap metal outer hull.
“It looks like a big egg shell,” Toshiko commented.
“Yes, it does,” Owen agreed. “But that doesn’t really help matters. I don’t think anything hatched out of there. But what you said earlier… about aliens faking aliens… I think… that’s exactly what we have here.”
“Again, the question remains,” Toshiko replied. “Why?”
Then she forgot that question. She forgot about the space ship. She wasn’t the only one. It was difficult to focus on any other issue when the corpse of Jackson Lloyd sat up on the mortuary table and then stood on his own two feet. He walked towards the screen and put his hands against it. He was naked, of course. But that didn’t bother any of them has much as the fact that he was standing in front of them at all when he had been declared legally dead over an hour ago.
Set me free,” he said. The screen worked as effective sound-proofing as well as keeping bio-hazards contained, but it was easy to read his lip movements. “Please, set me free.”
It was Darius, curiously, who was the first to reach for the release switch to raise the screen.
“No!” Toshiko warned him. “No, don’t. We don’t know if that IS Jackson Lloyd speaking to us. He should be dead. ‘I think… I think it’s the alien… it’s inside him… talking through him.”
“I think you could be right,” Owen agreed. “Darius, don’t touch that switch. Not until we’re sure.”
“Set me free!” Jackson Lloyd demanded, his expression changing from pleading and a little pathetic to angry and hostile.
“No,” Owen replied directly to him.
“Owen,” Toshiko said. “Have you seen these readings?”
“What readings?” He was reluctant to look away from Jackson Lloyd. He had the oddest feeling that something bad would happen if he did. But he turned his head and glanced at the computer screen. Toshiko had switched the room sensors to monitor lifesigns. It was showing the heart-rate and respiration of an ordinary Human being - Jackson Lloyd – and something else as well. It was like an echo of his heartbeat and his breathing, a fraction of a second out of synch.
“The energy… IS the alien,” Toshiko guessed. “It’s inside Jackson Lloyd… hibernating or something. It keeps trying to leave him, but for some reason it can’t.”
“Not can’t,” Owen realised. “Won’t. I think I know what this was all about, now. The charade with the space ship…. It was to get us to bring the wreck into Torchwood. It wanted the run of the Hub. But we’ve trapped it. There’s no point in leaving Jackson’s body unless it can get beyond the mortuary.”
“What does it want in the Hub?” Toshiko asked.
“What wouldn’t it want?” Darius answered her. “This is the Torchwood Hub. We have all the alien technology on the planet.”
“Well, not exactly all,” Owen pointed out. “Cardiff has the really big archive. And then there’s Area 51 in the USA. But our collection is impressive, it has to be said.”
“Set me free!” Again the alien used Jackson’s body to make its demand, pounding on the shield to emphasise its anger.
“What part of ‘no’ don’t you understand?” Owen replied.
Jackson Lloyd’s face contorted with anger, and then with pain. Owen stepped back instinctively as he saw the blue glow envelope his body again. Toshiko noted the raised temperature both in the room beyond the shield and within Lloyd’s body.
“He’s hurting,” Darius said. “Look at him. This is really hurting him.”
“I think it is,” Toshiko commented. “The monitor is picking up raised levels of Beta-endorphin… the hormone released during pain or stress.”
“I wasn’t thinking about hormones,” Darius pointed out. “I was looking at his face. Even if he was an idiot… I wouldn’t wish that on him.”
“Is it him hurting, or the alien?” Toshiko asked. “Is he still alive?”
“Yes,” Darius insisted. “He has a heartbeat. He’s breathing. He’s more alive than I am. I do neither. But I can hurt… and he’s hurting.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Owen contradicted. “He was dead long enough for all brain function to cease. Even if something is re-animating his heart and lungs, that’s not life… it’s just bio-mechanics.”
“What are we doing?” Darius asked. “Standing here debating whether he’s alive or dead. We’ll be running a sweepstake on it next, like Dougal and Shona do with the UFO sightings. He’s hurting. Jackson Lloyd… who WAS a Human being once, is hurting because some alien thing got into him and it’s using him. And we have to do something to stop that.”
“The levels are dropping again,” Toshiko reported while Owen considered his answer to that impassioned input into the discussion. “The glow… it’s receding again.”
“Oh shit!” Owen swore. “Oh fucking shit. We’ve all got it wrong.” He stepped close to the shield again as Jackson Lloyd pressed against it on the other side. “I’m sorry. I understand now. Tell me what to do to end this.”
He wasn’t sure at first if Lloyd understood. Then he saw his mouth twist into two short words.
“You know that’s asking a lot of me,” he replied. “I’m a doctor.”
Lloyd didn’t answer. He couldn’t. The alien was controlling him again, pounding on the shield and demanding to be set free.
“Stay there, both of you,” he said. “Don’t leave him alone. That’s the very least we can do for him, right now.”
“Where are you going?” Toshiko asked, but Owen didn’t answer. He was already running from the medical room, along the corridor to the Hub Central and to the code-locked room that was the armoury. In his haste he got the code wrong the first time, setting off a really annoying alarm. He used his own override to stop it and then punched up the correct code. He pushed open the door and stepped inside a room he only rarely entered. He was in charge of Torchwood Glasgow, but he was, first and foremost, a doctor. His primary concern was the preservation of life. The secondary one was establishing cause of death when life couldn’t be preserved. Either way, he had little reason to be in a room containing equipment manufactured with the primary function of ending life.
But he knew exactly how each and every one of the weapons worked, and he knew which one he needed this time. It was in a locked case because it wasn’t meant to be used except in very extreme circumstances.
“Boss?” He looked up from his preparations to see Dougal step into the armoury. “Was it you that set off the alarm?”
“Yes,” he replied. “I transposed the last two digits in the code. Sorry about the noise.”
“Not a problem.” Dougal saw the weapon Owen had chosen and frowned. “THAT’s a real big problem.”
Then he stared. Owen Harper was, he always thought, a hard bastard. He had to be to do the job he did.
He didn’t expect to see tears in his eyes.
“Primum non nocere,” Owen said.
“First do no harm… the abiding principle of medicine. It’s the reason why abortion is such a big ethical deal, why most doctors baulk at the idea of euthanasia…. It’s a good principle. I’ve tried to live by it all my working life. But….”
“It actually has come to this?” Dougal asked. “There’s no alternative?”
“None,” Owen replied.
“Then let me. I’m a soldier. I can… I have… many times.”
“No.” Owen shook his head. “Thanks for the offer. But this time, it has to be me. I owe him that much.”
Owen picked up the alien weapon and walked out of the armoury. Dougal followed him out and then reset the code lock. He watched Owen walk across the Hub with a deliberate step, not running, not dragging his heels, walking back to the medical centre where he had a terrible duty to perform.
“It happened again, twice,” Toshiko reported when he came back into the mortuary. “The glow enveloped him, and then it was absorbed back into his body.”
“Yes,” Owen said. “Lloyd’s fighting it. But he can’t do that forever. Sooner or later he’ll weaken, and then the alien will be free. That’s why I have to do this. You and Darius go back to the Hub and wait. You don’t have to be here.”
“Let me do it, Boss,” Darius said. “I’m already unDead. It can’t harm me.”
“No,” Owen told him for the same reasons he refused Dougal’s offer. “It has to be me. Go on, Tosh. Get out of here.”
“This is some kind of ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’ thing?” she asked.
“No, it’s some kind of ‘a doctor’s gotta do what a doctor’s gotta do’ thing,” he answered her. “Do you want to do the heroine thing and give me a kiss before I face certain doom?”
“No. If you get yourself killed what difference does it make if I snog you first?”
“It makes a difference to me,” he said. He reached his arm around her waist and pulled her close. He kissed her and then stepped back. “Go on, now.”
Darius took her arm and led her away. As soon as she was clear Owen engaged the secondary shield that blocked off the door. If this went wrong, then the rest of the Hub was still safe.
Then he raised the shield that separated him from Jackson Lloyd. The sensors weren’t registering any radiation at present so the manual override engaged.
“I have to hear it from you, properly,” he said as he approached the pathetic figure hunched up on the floor. “Jackson Lloyd, tell me what you told me before through the shield.”
“End it,” he said. “Kill me… and the entity within me.”
“And it’s you speaking, not the entity?”
“Yessss….” He drawled. A moment later, Owen knew it wasn’t Jackson Lloyd any more. He had hung onto his own mind for a few minutes, but now the entity took him over again. It screamed with rage and leapt towards him.
Owen fired the oddly shaped gun adapted from the energy weapon of a Dalek that had been found in the wreckage at Canary Wharf. It was a terrible weapon that ought to have been banned under some international treaty or other if anyone outside of Torchwood knew it existed. Using it against Jackson Lloyd felt like a betrayal of the Human race, let alone his Hippocratic Oath, but Owen knew it was the only thing left to do. He fired and kept on firing, enveloping the Human flesh and alien entity within the flesh in the burning ray.
When he was done, all that remained of Jackson Lloyd was a horribly incinerated skeleton. Even that was beginning to crumble. The entity that had hidden itself within his flesh was destroyed.
Two days later, Jack Harkness travelled up to Scotland. He felt it was his duty to join the Torchwood team at the secure hangar in a remote part of Glasgow airport where a coffin draped in a stars and stripes flag was loaded onto a transporter plane with as much dignity as they could muster.
“Closed coffin, of course,” noted Jack afterwards when they went back to the Hub for a rather muted wake.
“Had to be,” Owen confirmed. “He has a mother in Atlanta, apparently. She really doesn’t want to see the body.”
“He was a bloody stupid git,” Toshiko said. “But in the end… he was a hero. He fought the entity. Every time it escaped from his body he pulled it back in.”
“But he couldn’t do it indefinitely,” Owen confirmed. “If he lost the tentative grip on life that he had, the entity would have been free, and we wouldn’t have been able to contain it. The only way was to kill him in such a way that the entity died with him.”
“Poor bastard,” Shona said. “He didn’t deserve that.”
He didn’t deserve that. All of the team who had called him names behind his back, sworn about him, gossiped and joked and played pranks on him agreed about that much and some of them wished they could take back some of the things they had said. They felt bad about it all and perhaps they thought they deserved to feel that way.
“Jackson Lloyd,” Dougal said at last. “Remember his name, and what he did.”
“Jackson Lloyd,” everyone echoed in a quiet sort of toast to his memory.