He wanted Ianto to beg.
That's what he, the Master, the delusional psychopath who was destroying the human race, was trying to achieve. He wanted Ianto to beg for freedom, for an end, for something he knew was never coming just in the hope that it would, simply because it would hurt Jack even more.
Ianto wasn't stupid. The Torchwood team were not stupid. Abandoned, yes, lost and confused, yes, but never stupid. The only reason they hadn't ignored the ridiculous 'Abominable Snowman' story entirely was that the request came directly from the soon-to-be Prime Minister, and they felt they should be civil and go and have a look. Jack wouldn't have paid any attention. Jack would've done the right thing and ignored it. Jack would've known what to do. Jack would've...
Owen complained that there was something wrong, that this didn't feel right and why were they not being given any information about this now, why did they have to wait till they were there? But since relinquishing his position of team leader to Gwen, he had no real authority, and the politicians on the other end of the phone had no reason to continue to listen to him. And Gwen, with her optimistic seeing-the-best-in-everyone view, said that this was the government they were talking about, and so this had to be legitimate and they should go.
So they did.
And then after being stranded in the mountains for a week, with all the promised locals and guides and information never showing up, they knew for sure that this was not right. Something was out to get Team Torchwood.
But that didn't mean they weren't going to fight first.
Even with Owen telling anyone who'd listen (and many who wouldn't) that he'd been right all along.
So Tosh did something clever with tech that when she explained Owen and Gwen's eyes glazed over, but Ianto listened. He listened and he watched and he understood, and she knew. They found a remote town where they could stay in relative warmth for a while, and then they got news and information, both official from the crackly TV in the hotel, and unofficial from the rumours and gossip that flew around.
In a town like this, news travelled fast.
And while this meant they could get all the rumours, it meant all the rumours could be spread about them.
It was nearly midnight when someone Tosh had become friendly with, who used to be a general-repairs man before the toclafane had come, but now was a widower caring for what was left of his broken family, managed to contact them. They always had someone on watch, trading shifts to keep a look out. Something was coming for them.
So they ran again, into the mountains, taking whatever they could salvage (Gwen insisted they leave money to pay for the stolen TV and phone, Ianto privately felt that really it was the last of the problems on the hotel owner's mind right now and that they would be better off saving the money for the future, but it wasn't worth the argument that would've ensued, they needed to move quickly). They found a cave and set up again, trying to get some warmth into them and attempting to light a fire (and Ianto had always thought his boy Scout skills would never be used) and trying to help Tosh, but moving out of the way quickly when she snapped at them.
It wasn't for another week, when Ianto snuck into a neighbouring village to buy some food, that they learnt that the hotel owner, and all her family, had been killed for harbouring fugitives.
They managed to get a radio tuned to some sort of pirate station, a couple of brave, desperate people attempting to fight back. How long these people would survive they didn't know, but now out of the villages they had no way of hearing the rumours.
They were running out of time.
And then news came through on the radio about the forthcoming attack on Japan, the rumours that the Master was literally going to set the country on fire. And Tosh turned very white and still, and listened intently until it seemed she couldn't bear to hear any more, and she disappeared into the night. Both Ianto and Gwen started moving to follow her, but Owen got there first.
And Ianto found some sort of perverse hope in the fact that even now, at the end of everything, some things managed to sort themselves out, and sometimes people got it right, even if they needed a push first. Even if that push was the end of the human race at the hands of a devastating psychopath.
And he told this to Gwen, and bizarrely they found it funny, and he put his arm around her and she curled up against his side, and they set themselves up to wait, wait for Tosh and Owen, wait for everything. Wait for anything.
It was no surprise that Tosh wanted to go to Japan. And it was no surprise that Owen was going with her. Ianto and Gwen didn't argue, they were going back to Wales. The 30-second phone call they'd gotten through to Rhys and to Rhiannon and Johnny hadn't managed to reassure them at all. They'd all survived the toclafane's first wave of attack. But, as Rhiannon tearfully sobbed, Mrs Brady across the street, her whole family was caught, all she's got left is a cousin who lives somewhere in Australia, and she hasn't heard from him in months, she thinks he's dead by now.
So they split up, and he never did hear about Tosh and Owen until he got on this ship, until the Master got hold of him. And Ianto felt one splinter more of hope disappear inside him, although he almost convinced himself that deep-down he already knew. He and Gwen had found Rhys and Rhiannon, and they'd tried so hard to protect them. The toclafane had come one night, and they'd not had enough notice, they'd had to run, and run fast, and he'd run without looking back, because he could still hear Rhiannon's scream, an unearthly, primeval scream of pure agony, still hear it echoing in his ears, "MICA! NO, NO!"...
And he'd met up with Gwen and Rhys again, and none of them mentioned the event, and Ianto wondered if they too had dreams of his niece, if they too saw her broken body round every corner, or if it was something only he could never get away from.
They tried to return to the base, but nothing opened the doors now, and eventually they split again, and Ianto went underground, trying to avoid talking to as many as possible, simply so he didn't have to feel any more guilt for any more lives lost because of him.
And they still found him.
He'd been trying to help people, spreading out what was left of the Torchwood's money amongst as many as possible, just in case someone could do something useful or valuable with it, because Ianto couldn't.
And they got news of this from somewhere, not really surprising, no matter how much money he gave away the Master could always bribe with more, so someone told on him, and he was being hunted again, and he ran, but this time he was so tired, and he couldn't constantly stay awake, and they found him while he was sleeping, but waited till the next morning, just because, the Master told him, he wanted to see the terror on Ianto's face, and he wanted Ianto to try and run.
And Ianto had tried to run, and then when caught he tried to fight back, and it got to the point his guards knocked him unconscious, but he didn't care because then blissful silence fell on him, and the ghosts of all the people whose deaths he'd caused stopped following him.
He was held in a cell for a while, he presumed on the Valiant, but had no real way of knowing. The Master visited a lot, but he never touched Ianto. The guards were always there, a sharp stab with a stick for sarcasm, a punch for threats, for any sign he wasn't paying attention they'd empty a bucket of water over his head. It was the Master who controlled them though, when he wasn't there, while not being kind, they didn't beat him. He doubted the Master would've cared if they did.
At least the water meant he remained clean.
And after some time of this, probably not really that long, for he didn't seem to have received many meals, but then that could just be a more long term torture plan, the Master entered again. And Ianto discovered there was more in his stomach than he thought, because when the Master pulled up a picture of Jack on the screen, hanging limp from his bonds with blood pooling on the floor around him, he threw up the entire contents on the floor.
And something suddenly clicked in his brain, what he was here for, why he was alive.
He'd never been more afraid of the Master than when he worked that out.
So when they next knocked him into unconsciousness he offered up a quick prayer, even though he'd given up on religion ages ago, because the prayer wasn't for him.
It was for Jack.
So when he woke up, sprawled on the floor of Jack's cell, he wasn't surprised. And he looked up at Jack, and willed his body to find some way of talking, some way of letting Jack know that Ianto forgave him, that if the positions were reversed, whether Jack would come back to life or not, Ianto would have done the same thing.
But as he began to drag speech up from his body, the door opened, and he caught sight of the Master and cringed away in fear, fear of the future and what was to come, what was going to happen to him just so Jack would be hurt even more. Jack...
And when he was dragged out of the room he looked back at Jack, trying to express with his eyes what he hadn't managed to say, that he forgave him, that he understood, that he never blamed him in the first place, because he would've done the same, he couldn't shoot Jack, not now, not ever, and how on earth could he expect Jack to ever do something like that to him, even as an act of mercy.
And then, for the first time, it was the Master that struck Ianto, that tortured him, and he couldn't hold back the screams.
But he wouldn't beg.
That would be like admitting the Master had won, admitting he'd been broken, and the Master would use that to torture Jack even more.
So no, he wouldn't beg. No matter what.