The Beginning

When Tina closed her eyes that night, her mind had been awhirl with thoughts. Silly thoughts, because Tina was often silly: that dress that the Lady of Jesslaw had worn to the ball the other night, how lovely it was and how Tina wished she could afford such a thing; Sir Winston of Disart, how handsome he'd looked. Stray equations floated across her mind's eye, thoughts about her aerodyne, still in the making.

Tina had been a cadet for five years now, and they were starting to build their own aerodynes. She'd already thought of a name: hers would be called the Lady, because when Tina had been small she'd wanted to be a lady, only to be tossed out because she was a commoner. She'd joined the air force, to show them all what she could do.

So now she thought about the schematics of her dyne – a fighterdyne, like Captain Jack's. She wanted it to be agile, the way the Gwen Cooper wasn't, and she thought that maybe dropping things from the sky would be advantageous…

Her thoughts drained slowly into dreams, of wood-and-bronze flying machines with special flaps on the tail and equations of how it would work. She dreamed of the wind in her hair and her father's pride.

And then it went dark.

"Tina Miller," drawled a voice with the oddest accent.

She was standing in her memory of the port in Portsmouth Harbor, except the busy dock was dark and deserted. It extended far out into the sea in a collapsing walkway of wood, and the city at her back seemed like nothing more than a black, stone monolith. The lighting was odd, too, pooling in a strange circle around Tina.

"You sound almost similar to Captain Jones," she told the unknown voice idly, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her breeches.

"Do not," huffed the strange man, walking into the pool of light around Tina on the dock.

He was rather handsome, Tina thought critically, looking him up and down like Jack eying the new crop of court ladies each spring ball—in an odd sort of way. He had a wide mouth, dark hair and pale, pale skin. His coat was black leather, and he looked at her with sharp intelligence in his dark eyes. He was not at all familiar.

That this was a dream was obvious. Who the man actually was seemed a bit of a mystery. Tina was nothing if not practical. "Who are you?"

"Name's Owen Harper, love," replied the man. "I worked with Gwen Cooper and Tosh Sato, once upon a time." He quirked a wry smile. "I know you've heard of me."

If Tina had been Liam or Dan, she would have played that she was dim and had no clue who Owen was, just to watch him squirm. That was how it always was in the stories, but Tina just couldn't stop herself from gasping. She knew exactly who Owen Harper was, of course. Like the rest of the cadets, Jack and Ianto had raised her on stories of Torchwood. "No way," she breathed.

"Yep," said Owen Harper, looking a little smug.

"But—but—that's, that's so—Mithros, Mynoss and Shakith!" she squealed.

"Nah, this is Dark God and Dream God, actually," Owen drawled. "They've both favored me, see."

Tina decided not to ask. "It's an honor, sir," she said, curtsying politely. Owen Harper eyed her sharply.

"I see Ianto's trained you well," he sneered.

Tina knew all about Owen Harper and his nasty exterior. Supposedly, he was a sensitive soul, according to Jack, although Ianto swore up and down that he was a bastard through and through. "Yes he has, sir," she smiled at him with her best, Jack-inspired, toothy smile. "They both have."

To her surprise, Owen Harper snorted. "Oh, bloody hell," he said, but he sounded amused. "I can see that, yes. But I get the feeling that Jack would have my testicles if I try anything on you, huh?"

Tina fluttered her eyelashes. "Well, why would he know?"

"Point," Owen smirked. "But Tosh would, and that wouldn't end well. Listen, love, this isn't a social call."

Tina tilted her head. "You wanted to speak to me?"

"One of you. You just happen to be receptive." He leered a little. Tina smiled at his sweetly. This was sort of fun.

"Oh?" she flirted.

"Oh," Owen agreed. "I'm no fortune teller, but the dead can sort of sense… currents. Sort of thing. I can't tell Jack and Ianto, not personally. His Highness Gainel can't interfere with nobles or people of the court, anyway. It's punishment, you see." His dark eyes were level with Tina's, and suddenly all measure of flirting was gone. "But you're common blood, and just a cadet; I can talk to you. The tide's turning," he added ominously. "There's something… bad coming. Bad for Jack and Ianto. The Hub may be rubble and I may be dead and gone but we're still Torchwood."

"What sort of bad?" Tina asked, all business. "Can we help?"

"I'm asking you to help," Owen replied. He scowled. "Gainel wanted me to spout some rubbish about kings and sunsets in verse, but I'll be arsed if I can remember the whole thing. What you need to know, okay, is that things are going to go to shit when the next king takes the throne. And then you have to run. You need to tell Jack and Ianto to run, as far as they can. Hide up in the mountains; I don't care, but the tide is turning, and Court won't be safe anymore. "

Tina frowned. "What do you mean by not safe? Jack has been gathering allies here."

"I know. I know." Owen paced anxiously. "It won't matter. It's gonna get ugly anyway, and then you can't stay. You need to tell them to run. Ianto's life might depend on it." He paused to look her dead in the eye. "Okay?"

Tina nodded. "I'll remember," she said. "Is there anything else you can tell me?"

Owen scowled. "Only if you want to hear about men twice lost and the sun falling over a fucking ocean," he sneered. "Prophesies, you know. They're vague."

Tina smiled faintly. "I think that's the point. Thank you, um, Doctor Harper."

"Yeah, you're welcome," Owen huffed with a small nod that looked almost pleased. "Tell Harkness and the tea boy I say hi," he added, almost as an afterthought.

Tina giggled a little at such a description of Captain Jones, who to her mind, at least, towered like royalty. "Yes, sir."

Owen Harper regarded Tina for a long moment, head canted to one side. "Right, then," he said after an awkward silence. "That's that. Time you woke up, I think."

The world faded to black and Tina felt her bed come into focus around her.

"Tina!" Liam was hissing. "Tina!"

"What?" Tina muttered irritably, blinking sleep out of her eyes. She rolled over.

Liam was standing on the first step to the ladder to her bunk bed with his hands on the top rung, peering at her with his dark eyes. There was, predictably, flour in his fluffy hair.

"Everything's in place," he whispered. "In an hour, the pages are going to wake up. You want to go watch the devastation?"

Tina rubbed her eyes and looked at him, bemused. Right, her sleepy mind provided. Liam was running yet another prank. Tina had even been involved. It had to do with the pages' uniforms, all sent to the wash after the ball the other night. Liam had covered them in flour.

She smiled a little at her friend, and her dream faded from her mind. Here and now, there was a prank to be pulled. "Yeah, alright," she whispered back. "Let me get dressed?"

"Uh-huh," grinned the class clown, and he hopped off her ladder. "Quick, though, or we'll miss it!"

As Tina tip-toed around the girls' barracks, trying not to wake Olive, Silvia and Kathy, she thought that she'd dreamed something last night. Something important. She paused at the door, holding her shoes.

Something about Torchwood?

"Tina!" Liam hissed from the other side of the door.

Whatever, she thought, and slipped her shoes on so she could run after him. It couldn't've been that important.

But somewhere deep in her subconscious, a little seed of doubt planted itself.

Something was coming.