Title: Madrigal dei Traditori (1/10)
Characters/Pairings: Jack/Ianto/Lisa (implied past Jack/everyone), Tony Tyler, Mickey/Tosh, Gwen/Rhys, OCs (full New Whoniverse cast cameos)
Warnings: violence, non-explicit sex, dodgy understanding of UNIT hierarchy, angst, fluff, OC overload, chapteritis, alcohol
Words: 50,000 (4,000 this section)
Beta/Britpick: golden_d and temporal_witch audienced this initially, while fide_et_spe and 51stcenturyfox kicked it into shape. Thanks go out to all, and any mistakes still here are mine mine mine. :D
Spoilers: up through CoE, one small spoiler for EoT Pt 2.
Summary: Putting one's thumb on the scale of history is generally considered a bad idea.
A/N: Part of the Rabbit Hole AU. For those who came in late, Jack is the only one who remembers events exactly as they occurred in canon. Since finding himself in this altered universe, he has formed a stable relationship with Ianto and Lisa; together, they chase aliens and raise kids.
A/N 2: I'm going to post 2-3 chapters per day over four days. This is to save your eyeballs and my sanity.
Chapter 1: Everything Begins Somewhere, And Most Things Have Multiple Beginnings.
For Jack, everything started with a class at the Academy that he nearly failed because of a girl with skin like honey and eyes like emeralds. By the end of the class, he was seeing a boy with skin like toast and eyes like clouds, and he had to memorise three hundred dates and their significance in less than two days. When any one of those dates became significant to Jack in ways he could not have imagined back then -- writing them out in liquid chocolate on the broad expanse of his boyfriend's back and committing each to memory with his fingers and tongue -- he always paused and went faraway for a moment, caught in a flash of salt and sweet and innocence long lost.
For Ianto and Lisa, it all started with a late night, Jack nestled between them like a swaddled child. "Let's play a game," he said in his lazy drawl.
"I need a few minutes to recover," said Ianto, as Lisa said, "Still a bit sore from the last one."
Jack's laugh was warm but quiet enough not to wake the children down the hallway. Isabelle was starting grammar school tomorrow, and it was a night to celebrate and also, a little, to mourn. "Different kind of game. Something we used to play back at the Agency. It's a mental exercise. Would you step in front of the bullet for Archduke Ferdinand?"
He was greeted with silence. He hadn't expected Lisa to be the first to say, "Yes."
For Kyle, everything began with the night Uncle Jack made Mum cry. His parents rarely argued, other than the usual spats about who was supposed to wipe their feet before coming inside, and who left the milk out. What they had was unusual and fragile, and at nine, Kyle already knew how to keep secrets and deflect questions. While some of his schoolmates had two dads, none of them had both living with their mum, and anyway, Torchwood made secrets of everything. His parents didn't fight because they couldn't afford to fight, not without losing all they'd fought so hard to build.
But Kyle woke up one night with an urge to pee and a thirsty mouth afterwards, so he caught the tones if not the actual words as he lurked, frightened, upstairs. Mum cried, and Uncle Jack was, not hard, but … Implacable. That was a word on his spelling test last week, and he rolled it around in his head like an ice cube. Dad's voice was calmer, the steady breeze between them, and Mum eventually stilled.
Kyle never forgot this.
For Tony, everything started with a photograph, but if anyone asked, he said it began with a call from Cardiff. The area had always been unstable, and John said in the other world, the Doctor's world, there had been an actual Rift in space-time rather than the mere echo of one that threatened to break through here from time to time. In the other world, the Torchwood team assigned to the spot had more to do than just perform backup tasks and basic grunt work. When John was in trouble for something, Rose liked to wax reminiscent about the two men they once knew who worked there. In this universe, the Cardiff location was often left unmonitored, and had been abandoned for years.
The new activity they'd spotted was unusual enough to warrant a London investigation. With adventurous stories in his head about Uncle Mickey, whom he barely remembered, and Jack, whom he'd never met, Tony volunteered to take a team and check. They started with the old Three base, but nothing registered until they spread out to the surrounding streets.
He remembered more than felt a crackle like electricity.
"Get back!" There was a searing light before everything went dark.
The Colonel's hand reaches out and touches a key. He's too young to remember proper reel-to-reel tape recording, but he thinks something like this would best be captured by that sound, the slithering of magnetic tape as it preserves the damning words for posterity. Digital recordings, no matter how crystal-clear, how easy to copy or how required by regulations, simply are not the same for noting down for posterity the entire saga of this massive fuckup.
But where to begin? The General watches him silently.
"We first identified the boy in his early teens," the Colonel says at last. "We had records prior to that point, of course. UNIT and Torchwood were on better terms then. For the record, I should state that while our goals overlapped, not even during the golden era under Director Hartman did we always see eye to eye." The Colonel was a newly-minted lieutenant when Canary Wharf fell, but he knows the history and has seen the reports.
"The issues began when Captain Harkness took over the entire Institute. 'The Monster of Cardiff,' they called him," he says with a chuckle, and regrets it immediately. This is not precisely a formal report, but nicknames have no place in it. "We investigated his people as they became known to us. Dr. Sato, of course. The late Dr. Harper. PC Cooper. Mr. Smith. Mrs. Habiba-Martin. Agent Johnson. UNIT operative Dr. Martha Jones-Milligan worked closely with Torchwood and seemed to have a close relationship with Harkness. UNIT encouraged her to keep an eye on them for us, but later intelligence suggested that it was the other way around." He frowns, and the General frowns with him.
"PC Davidson and the Joneses joined at the same time, and as we became aware of them, we performed background checks. Mrs. Jones, nee Hallett, had previously worked for Torchwood. In 2005 she was transferred to an affiliated satellite office located in Paris, along with Mr. Jones. They married, and had three children before returning to Mr. Jones' home in Cardiff in early 2010."
The General said, "All three children were born in Paris?"
"Yes. But they maintained British citizenship, and the boy was a year old when the family returned to Cardiff. Mrs. Jones found employment at a software company, but a month later, she and Mr. Jones were back at Torchwood. It's unclear exactly when their liaison with Harkness began. In September of that year, the three of them purchased a house together, and despite the Captain's extensive reputation, no reports have come in from that point onwards of any other liaisons for him. Thus, our interest in the children."
"Captain Harkness had children of his own, did he not?"
"We assume so, although only one has been positively identified. Her wife retired from Torchwood five years ago due to injury, and we believed that avenue was closed."
The General watches him. When he doesn't continue, the General prompts, "The Jones children."
"Yes. The boy was identified as a possible acquisition. We looked at the girls, but both exhibited strong loyalty profiles with regards to Harkness. The boy, however … " The records were promising. Suspended on three occasions for fighting. School records said the fights were precipitated by other boys teasing him after public displays of affection between his father and Harkness. One call to the police from the neighbours for a domestic disturbance, though no charges were filed. Nothing in his medical records to indicate abuse, but one couldn't have everything. "We found early indications of friction at home, and felt this could be used to our advantage."
Lt. Henderson spotted the lad exactly where he expected to find him. The coffee shop was several blocks from his home, several blocks from school, and seems to provide a sanctuary away from the pressures of both. At nearly seventeen, he was gawky, not growing as gracefully into his features as his sisters, and Henderson felt a swift sympathy, remembering his own days of spots and stuttering.
"Hello, Kyle," he said, slipping into the chair across the table from him.
"What's today's book?" Kyle flipped the cover over. Henderson didn't recognise it. "Any good?"
"Not so far. It's for school." Kyle took a drink from the cardboard cup in front of him, trying to look like one of the cool older kids here from uni, and missing. He had the permanent scowl and air of cynicism down, but lacked any gravitas behind them.
"Have you thought about our offer?"
Kyle's eyes flickered. "Seems a bit weird, yeah? UNIT doesn't recruit people this way."
"We make special allowances sometimes. We think you'd make a fine addition to the team."
"You want to show up Jack, you mean." Not Uncle Jack like his sisters called the man, Henderson noted. "I'm not spilling Torchwood secrets for you. I don't know any."
"We wouldn't expect you to. Torchwood is strictly British government. UNIT is worldwide." Henderson spread a smile over his features. He'd been told how to rope this one in, and he always got his target. "As for showing up Captain Harkness, between you and me, do you really have a problem with that?"
Kyle took another sip of his drink thoughtfully. "My Mum isn't going to like it." Worry crossed his features. The file said the boy had a close relationship with his mother.
"I promise you, Kyle, we would never ask you to do anything that would betray your mother's faith in you. UNIT protects the Earth. That's who we are and what we do. Torchwood wouldn't let you do that." There was a policy, laughable when established, that stated the children of Torchwood employees could not join the Institute. As if that era had led to any children. "Are you up to the challenge?"
Kyle closed his eyes, then nodded. Henderson wondered if Lisa Jones told her children the story of Judas, if her son was contemplating the weight of thirty pieces of silver in his hands.
A week later, he boarded a train to London. Surveillance said the shouting match at his home could be heard halfway down the block. Henderson received a commendation from his superior officer for the acquisition.
"Did he provide intelligence on Torchwood?"
"Not at first. We didn't ask. If he was going to be a good source, we couldn't let him shy away. He worked through the first Christmas holiday, and took leave for the second. After he returned, I had him in my office for tea and asked him if there was anything he'd feel comfortable relating." The Colonel was a Lieutenant-Colonel then, and Private Jones was nervous but ready. "He said he'd learned some details about the Sycorax crash outside Bristol. There wasn't much, and I needed to reassure him that in no way would I use the information against his parents."
The Colonel takes a drink of water. "After that, he gave us information from time to time. Small things, not of much value, but relevant. An intercepted translation, identifying a particular piece of technology. He told us that home was neutral ground and no-one discussed work the few times he visited. However, Harkness and the Joneses worked from home at times, and the Private would run across things left unattended."
"You used him as a spy."
"We never asked him to go looking for information, but after the first time, he became very eager to please." His psychological profile had told them he would be, and while the Colonel occasionally had his doubts about the profession, the boy had performed exactly according to prediction. Hindsight hurt.
"And in the other direction?"
"Not once did a single piece of classified information to which he had access wind up in Torchwood's files. We tested him several times. And of course, his later exploits convinced me of his complete loyalty."
"The incidents with his sisters."
"Yes." One sister joined UNIT after him. The other became its loudest foe.
The Colonel indicated the seat across from him. Corporal Kyle Jones sat down, clasping his own hands in front of him, white-knuckled in their grip.
"Corporal," said the Colonel genially. Jones had been dating General Ncube's daughter for several months, and as such had gained the attention of many officers in the higher levels of UNIT. Every report that crossed his desk said the same thing: Jones was bright, competent, attentive to detail, polite to a fault, and always ready to take on extra work. If the reports noted his standoffishness and his apparent lack of a sense of humour, no-one ever accused him of not looking out for the other men and women with whom he served, and the General himself said just last week that the lad was a bit shy. Nominations for officer training were coming due, and the Colonel had already written a recommendation for Jones, and was certain he'd be accepted. Of course he was willing to take a short audience with him when the boy said it was important.
"Sir." Jones frowned, and his face took on an unpleasant tic. "I … Sir, I have reason to believe Torchwood has a spy inside UNIT."
The Colonel raised his eyebrows. "Espionage is a major charge, Corporal."
"Sir." He took a breath. "It's Isabelle. I was visiting her quarters yesterday, and I found documents she should not have had clearance for. I believe she's … " He stopped. "Sir, please. She may not realise she's being used. Jack, he gets into your head. He probably gave her a line about the greater good and that kind of claptrap."
The Colonel hid his delight. He'd long suspected Harkness of trying to weasel his way in via the girl, but to have confirmation? From the boy?
"I can order a search of her quarters immediately. If what you say is true, you should know she will be brought up on charges. She could go to prison. I'm going to have to ask you to not speak to her again until we've finished the investigation."
His face broke. "She's my sister, Sir. I'm supposed to be watching out for her."
"She seems to have been watching you, instead."
"The case went to trial, which should have been closed but of course Harkness bluffed and badgered his way into the proceedings. Isabelle Jones only spent a few days in a UNIT cell and her family connexions managed to get her free from the rest. Her brother testified against her."
"Did that end his contact with his family?"
"Very nearly. Afterwards, he received two letters from his mother."
"Did you intercept them?"
"Of course. He remained under surveillance for over a year, in case he had been working with her. Nothing in the letters was of interest. Family and friend gossip, an expected entreaty for him to apologise. The letters stopped after the incident with his other sister."
Callie Jones went in a different direction from her parents and siblings. At the age of twenty-one, she established what would become the largest alien rights group in Great Britain, which put her at odds with Torchwood at least as often as with UNIT. Within the last six years, the Good Neighbours have shown up on location at sites of alien crashes and interdimensional crossings almost as soon as UNIT has arrived to contain the scenes. Demanding fair treatment and equal rights under the law for "our galactic neighbours," the group leads peaceful demonstrations outside of the official cordons. Were it anyone but Harkness' own stepdaughter in charge, the Colonel suspects the lot of them would be pumped to the gills with amnesia pills and left in Guernsey. But they haven't been, and it's probably because Torchwood finds them amusing more than annoying. They certainly don't fight as hard with Torchwood as they do with UNIT.
He wasn't present for the altercation, but the reports were plain. The group had been growing more aggressive against UNIT forces, not edging into violence but certainly toeing that line. At a downed freighter crash site, as UNIT and Torchwood were arguing over jurisdiction and the disposition of the survivors, Callie Jones crossed the perimeter. After giving her three verbal warnings, her brother shot her.
"By the time of the first contact mission, we were certain," he looks at the General and amends, "I was certain."
The Colonel ignored the worry in the back of his mind. The K'kltic had communicated thus far exclusively in mathematical language, but wanted a proper face to face meeting, promising brotherhood and advancement into a place in the wider galaxy. With their help, Earth could become an acknowledged world rather than a tiny protectorate under the Shadow Proclamation. The Colonel was of the opinion that such a step would require firm leadership on Earth, and he intended to provide it. The only members of UNIT who knew about the real mission (instead of the mission they pretended at) were those who needed to know, and by the time the rest found out, he would already be in position.
There were weak points to the plan. The K'kltic had sent a long dictionary of sorts for their language. While they had monitored Terran transmissions for decades, they requested that meeting and negotiations be conducted in their own tongue. All the soldiers and technicians picked for the mission had been given a crash course in the K'kltic language, as had the two UNIT diplomats chosen to go. No surprises as to which soldier showed the highest aptitude for the language, but then, Lt. Jones had told the Colonel that he'd been taught multiple languages, human and otherwise, from early childhood. The Colonel had taken suggestions from the few people he could trust, and every one told him the same thing: the best man for the mission was Professor Smith at Cambridge. The Colonel didn't dare trust him, though, not with his history, and so the good professor was not included in the mission, in the briefing, or anything else.
Still, the early reports from the mission had gone well. The team had safely lifted off and arrived at the neutral ground of the space station on schedule and without incident. The cover story of a routine refit and repair was firmly in place, which meant the world hadn't even watched the launch, much less cared.
This morning, reports had started coming in: symptoms of food poisoning among several team members, including the diplomats. Of course, the symptoms were also common among personnel newly exposed to the false gravity generator they'd developed from Ranthak technology. Seven members of the twelve-person team were still well, and one of the diplomats was only mildly ill, and if it was gravity sickness, they'd recover given another six hours or so.
The video link shook with static and interference. "Report."
The healthier diplomat, Leeson, said, "The K'kltic are on the long-range scanner now. They've sent word that they intend to dock in an hour." She didn't ask why there wasn't further interest in the mission from the governments of the world and their alien-hunting organisations. This meeting was happening during a known outage, complete with solar flare and solar wind activity. Their communications were enhanced by use of a particular frequency and transmission source which the Colonel didn't understand but the techs swore was stable.
It had to be stable. The Colonel intended to be a one-man audience for the greatest to-date human encounter with alien life.
"Sir," said Leeson, "Two more members of the team have just reported symptoms."
The Colonel's stomach clenched. Some alien species which had come to Earth in the past had brought viruses, some transmitted through space itself. He'd read the records on the encounters with the 456.
"Continue monitoring the situation. If more team members become ill, we'll abort the mission." He didn't add that they would quarantine the team, and mostly likely leave them on the space station to die. That had been part of the initial briefing as a possible outcome.
As the K'kltic ship neared, he collected status reports. No further illness was noted, though he suspected this might be partially due to fears on the team's part that it would sign their own death warrants to complain now. As the final report came through before the ship docked, the Colonel saw Leeson's face go pale, and she vomited off-screen.
"We have to abort the mission," the Colonel said.
"No, sir," said Leeson, wiping her mouth with her hand. "They've just attached."
"If this is an infection, we risk an interstellar incident. We can reschedule."
"I don't believe we can, sir," she said. "I think they're here."
Three healthy soldiers left. Two guarded the door, one stood beside Leeson, holding her upright. Jones.
He said, "Colonel, the outer airlock has been engaged. We are no longer in a position to stop the meeting."
"Bring the K'kltic ambassador to the camera. I will conduct the initial meeting via video." Which was against the wishes of the K'kltic, and he read that in Jones' face. And the Colonel knew barely enough to say hello. The diplomats had been chosen carefully, and he wasn't one.
"Sir, I know the language. I know the mission. I can greet them."
A cry: one of the other soldiers clutched his stomach and fell. His partner remained where he stood, but had gone grey. Any second now, Jones would be taken with whatever the illness was, food-related or viral, and this mission would be finished before it started.
"Do it. But bring them where I can see them. You can translate if necessary."
The interior airlock door spun open and the K'kltic appeared: vaguely insectoid, robes rather than armour, green and blue and gold on their exoskeletons where they could be seen.
Lt. Jones chittered at them, bobbing his head as he spoke. "This lowly one greets you," he repeated in English. He chittered again. "On behalf of the people of this world." More chittering. "We welcome you in peace."
The Colonel smiled. Good boy. The aliens seemed pleased, and chittered something back to him, which he replied to without translating. And now he would explain to them their terms, that they would be working closely with UNIT, that the people of Earth were not ready for a widespread introduction to alien life but that an exchange of information and technology could still be arranged, with a gradual, delayed entrance for the K'kltic as their relationship with UNIT blossomed. If he needed help remembering it, the Colonel would be happy to prompt him.
There was a hurried knock on the Colonel's door. He ignored it.
The boy chittered again, and the Colonel found it was harder to follow. His head bobbed, and he gestured, and the Colonel made out the words "share" and "friendship" and "planet," and then three words in English, not all together but close enough. "Lieutenant Jones!"
Jones clicked something in his hand, and the feedback from the microphone on the other side immediately stopped echoing his voice. "Lieutenant!"
Jones tilted his head and said, "In the interest of full openness, we are broadcasting this meeting to the peoples of the Earth that they may all share in this momentous occasion. We hold our hands out, not to take from you, but to share the galaxy with our neighbours in friendship. You will conduct negotiations with Professor Luke Smith, the greatest mind in our generation, who will speak with you in full knowledge of the whole world. I am feeding you the transmission data now."
The aliens chittered as the knocking increased on the door. "What is it?" the Colonel shouted.
"Sir!" came a voice through the door. His secretary. "The mission is being broadcast on BBC1."
On his screen, Jones chittered again. Then in English, he said, "You were misled. I am here on behalf of the Torchwood Institute of Earth."