Okay, so, here's chapter four. Sorry for the unreasonably long wait.
This chapter is kind of pivotal to the plot, so it took a long time
to sort out in my head. And, also, I'm very lazy. :)
Hope it makes sense.
He was woken just over two hours later by Ianto coming in to work early, as usual. Groaning silently, Jack rolled his feet off the bed and sat up, breathing heavily, his ribs burning. Though he'd managed two hours of sleep (a new record - he should get mauled more often!), he felt, if possible, even worse. His wounds were agony as the painkillers wore off - and damnit, it was another hour before he could safely take more - and he was horribly stiff. Slowly and carefully, he changed the bandages that he had bled through and pulled on trousers and a shirt - dark blue, so that no blood would show if he were to…leak, and with long sleeves, to hide the bite mark and scratches. See. Who said he couldn't be practical? Shoes and socks were more of a problem. Bending hurt. A lot. He managed it eventually, but he thought he might have popped a stitch in his chest.
Ignoring that, he hauled himself to his feet. Glancing in the mirror, he sighed as he looked at his face. The bruising was, if anything, worse. He was not going to be able to hide that. He supposed it didn't really matter. His face looked sore, yes, but they'd all have to admit that none of the wounds were too bad. The nasty one on the back of his head was hidden by his hair, though he thought there might be a slight lump visible. He'd have to be careful not to present the back of his head to anybody for a few days. Other than that, he could just tell them that the weevil he'd captured had got a heavy blow in before he gassed it. It wouldn't be the first time. He could say that he got away when the other weevils came - he certainly had to tell his team that they were working together now. It could become a serious problem, if it was more than just a one-off event. Weevils were dangerous enough alone, but in groups…he shuddered to think of the damage they could do. They needed to get straight onto this. Squaring his shoulders, and wincing as this pulled on his stitches, he exited the room for another day of saving the world. And all he had to do was stay conscious, and keep his team from noticing his injuries and fussing. Piece of cake.
"Wow, what happened to you?" Gwen's exclamation echoed through the hub, and he hid a wince as the sound ratcheted his headache up another notch.
"Had an argument with a door" he replied, smirking as best he could with his face feeling as if it was at least twice it's normal size.
Gwen rolled her eyes, hands on hips. Jack wondered if she knew quite how much she looked like his mother at that moment. He was saved from her stare by a soft gasp from Tosh, who had just entered the hub, her eyes fixing straight on his battered face. He winked at her. "You should see the other guy."
He was answered by a snort from Owen as he came in behind Tosh. The other man walked up to him, stopping just in front of him to study his face. Slightly uncomfortable under the Doctor's scrutiny, Jack raised his good eyebrow. "You don't think it'll damage my good looks, do you Doctor Harper?" he simpered, earning a grin from Gwen and a stifled chuckle from Ianto. Owen, however, just stared at him. "No human did that," he said, at last. "What did?" This sobered the mood immediately, and all gazes turned inquiringly to Jack, who held up his hands as if to ward them off.
"That," he said, seriously, "is what I wanted to talk to you about."
"So, there were how many, again?" Tosh looked up inquiringly, hands poised over her keyboard. Jack nodded at her. "Four. Well, one at first, but the others came up pretty quick. It was almost as if the first one called them or something?" He looked over at Owen as he said this, eyebrow raised in question. Owen was the one who'd studied the weevils most intensively. He nodded at the inquiry. "That's possible. I've theorised that the weevils have some level of psychic ability…certainly enough to alert others in the area to their presence. It's why we never normally find more than one at a time. The signal sent out repels any others from that area, leaving them alone to hunt. They're not very social creatures." He frowned. "I didn't think that they could change the signal to call others to them…that would require a much higher level of psychic ability…" He trailed off, looking frustrated.
Tosh spoke up. "Didn't you say earlier that you thought they could draw in the psychic energy around them? Like background radiation? Isn't it possible that something is giving out enough psychic energy to allow them to change the signal?" Even as she said it, Jack was shaking his head. "No, anything giving off that much into the atmosphere would be huge. Not to mention cause every living thing within a ten mile radius to pass out. I think we would have noticed that."
"We're in Wales." Owen muttered under his breath. "There's nothing but sheep for …" he trailed off at the glares he was getting from Gwen and Ianto. "Okay okay! That's out then". Still glaring at him, Gwen joined the conversation. "But even if they could change the signal, why would they? I mean, Owen just said that they weren't exactly buddy-buddy with each other?"
Jack looked up from where he'd been discreetly trying to shift into a position that put less pressure on his ribs. "True," he said. "And they weren't just in the same place. They were working together" At their questioning looks, he elaborated. "They didn't just all charge at once. They tried to back me into a corner." Pausing, he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes, partly in thought, and partly in an attempt to ease his ever increasing headache. The painkillers were starting to wear off and his injuries were once again making themselves known in full force. A hand on his shoulder brought him back to the present, and he looked up to find Ianto standing over him, looking slightly concerned. The others were absorbed in theories about the weevil's new co-operative tendencies, but he noticed Owen giving him a searching look as well. Damn! Giving both men what he hoped was a reassuringly healthy smile, he sat up straight again, almost gasping at the effort. "I don't think they were trying to kill me," he interrupted them.
They stared at him for a moment, and then Owen smirked and said "Well, what were they doing then? I don't think they were asking you to tea!" He gestured at Jack's swollen face. Jack was about to retort when Ianto piped up from behind him. "What if they were?" Now it was his turn to be stared at. He blushed. "I mean, what if they were trying to sort of…save you for later?" Owen snorted at his phrasing, but Tosh was now back at her computer, hands flying over the keys. "That's it! I knew I'd seen it somewhere…" She cleared her throat, and announced. "There's been a noticeable increase in disappearances in the past few weeks. The police think it's just co-incidence…these things do fluctuate…but what if Jack's not the first to have been attacked? What if the weevils are abducting people instead of killing them for some reason?" They all stared at her, then Gwen voiced what they were all thinking. "But why would they do that?"
Suddenly, Owen surged to his feet. "Bees!" he exclaimed. Before anyone could question him, he continued. "They're like bees. I knew I'd heard of this sort of behaviour before. Bees are notoriously team workers, as long as they have a Queen! If the Queen is killed and they don't have another lined up, the hive goes haywire, completely unordered. The weevils must have been working alone for so long because they didn't have a Queen. But now…"
"One's come through the rift," finished Jack. "And that's what's allowing them to change the signal?" Owen nodded. "She must give out some sort of hormone or signal of her own that identifies her as Queen and means that she can control her workers, to a certain extent. They're probably taking people alive to feed her. Eeewww!" They all shuddered slightly at the thought.
Then Owen looked at Jack. "Jack, this could be serious. If the weevils are like other species with Queen's, she's the only one that can breed…but she'll do it in huge numbers. We could be looking at several hundred new weevils in one go…and I've no idea how long a baby weevil takes to mature, or how often the Queen can mate." There was silence, then Gwen said "We can't afford to have a possible influx of a hundred new weevils a month…or even every six months. They're already coming through the rift faster and faster."
"And what if another one comes through?" Ianto piped up. "Another Queen, I mean? Or even more than one?" This new possibility made them all quiet, imagining the carnage.
"We can't let that happen," Tosh murmured. Jack sighed. His head pounded, his vision was swaying slightly, and his ribs were killing him. He felt weak and shaky, too, and suspected that infection was setting in to at least one of the scratches on his back. But they needed to act now. Even a hundred new weevils created could be dangerous…and they had no way of knowing when they would be born, or even if some already had been. He looked up, pushing the pain to some dark corner of his mind.
Well, that's it. Sorry for any mistakes. Let me know if something
needs explaining. Oh, and, sorry if I'm wrong about the whole
bees/queens relationship...I really have no idea.
Thanks for all the reviews for the last chapter. I do try and reply to them all, but my e-mail has been sending a lot of normal mail to my spam folder lately, and deleting it, so if I HAVE missed anybody, please let me know.
Next chapter will be up at some point. I know better now than to
suggest a time scale!