Author note: That time of year again! I hope you all will enjoy the slapdash, sleep-deprived, caffiene-spiked month as much as I plan to. The obligatory disclaimer follows thusly: Anything you recognise as coming from the universes of either Doctor Who or Torchwood does not belong to me (but I wish it did). Everything else is mine, and I suffer for it. And on that note...
NaNoWriMo word count: 1,857
No. of Coffees Consumed: 2
That Sweet Business of Revenge
What Happens When Your Ex-Boyfriend's Long Lost Brother Decides He Wants Revenge On Said Ex-Boyfriend And Uses You To Get It (With Big, Shiny Explosions)
Chapter One – Everything Has To Begin Somewhere
"This isn't wise, Captain."
John Hart looked over at his current (and hopefully temporary) partner. "You say that a lot."
"It happens to be true a lot, sir."
"Ooh, a 'sir'. Aren't we feeling snarky today. Something got your neck scarf in a twist?"
Marek said nothing. Just waited.
John sighed and glanced out at the approaching planet. (That is to say their ship was approaching the planet Da'denn, not that the planet was coming to meet them for coffee and biscuits. Although all things are possible in an infinite universe…) "Maybe there's a switch somewhere inside of you, stuck on repeat."
John adjusted a control or two and watched Marek out of the corner of his eye. Hmm. "It's fine. We can be in and out in no time at all."
"Still, sir," John repeated, adding a pause before continuing, "what? Marek—"
"Marek. Stop fretting and go do something useful. Check the combustion exchange links."
"Did it an hour ago."
"Did I ask when you last did it? No. I told you to do it. So go."
Marek refrained from rolling his eyes, but only just. If he'd had a choice in who he was partnered with, he wouldn't have chosen this man. Not the infamous Captain Hart. The man was an assault charge on legs, just waiting to happen. And if you weren't careful, he'd happen to you. There was a trick to it, Marek had learned after browsing through the numerous (and tampered with) records on the infamous Captain. Something about staying so close that when he lashed out, it hit everyone around the pair of you. The calm in the eye of the storm. It was a hard path to follow, but Marek seemed to be managing it so far.
Well, just about. Marek stood, facing down John Hart's imperious eyebrow, nodded and headed off toward the back end of the ship. Maybe he allowed himself a secret, smug smile as John growled at the controls. Just maybe.
"One little trip, he said. It'll be worth it, you'll see." John squinted at a winking star. "LeLouch, if you're out there and this doesn't pay off—"
"Are you talking to yourself?"
John span his chair around to face Marek. "I was until you interrupted. Exchange alright?"
"Fine, sir. Perfect working order. Just as before."
"Well, you can't be too careful…"
"Or too bored?"
"No, it's very possible to be too bored. Very, very possible."
Marek sat back down. His green eyes flicked over the various controls and readouts before them. Then they flicked up to look at John. "You're spreading the load, then?"
John grinned. "Something along those lines."
The corner of Marek's mouth twitched upward for a second or two. The man, this Captain Hart, was infuriatingly likeable at times.
The ship shuddered around them all of a sudden, and Da'denn began to fill their view-screens as John's fingers flew, plotting the ship's descent. Marek followed suit. John glanced at him, taking in the furrowed brows almost hidden by thick, roughly cropped black hair.
Flick, flick. Beep. "You know I have a problem with this, Captain."
More shuddering. John scowled at a flashing something or other, entered commands faster than Marek's eyes could track and then, calm and mild tone an almost startling contrast to his expression, "Nice to hear it voiced, though."
"This isn't right." Pause. "Sir."
"Says who? You've never done a looting run before?"
Marek had. Several times, after leaving Arjuna. LeLouch had taken him along. For amusement, he'd said. Marek had learned a lot from that man, and had lost so much more to him as well. Everything was in the past for Time Agents. Everything.
"I have," he murmured after several moments of muted, ship-wide shudders. "But this is different—"
"How?" John snapped, exasperated.
Marek closed his eyes. "Those creatures. What they did to the people they captured…"
"All the better that we reclaim what they took, then. Put it to a better use than just sitting there, waiting for some heartless opportunist to come along."
Marek opened his eyes back up and levelled a stare at his superior officer. Faint beeping from the range of controls, and then Marek said, "I'm not going to bother dignifying that with a response."
John smirked. Turned his chair back around deal with the faint beeping. Marek did the same with his side. John spoke after a little while of this, voice only just audible over the sound caused by the ship entering Da'denn's atmosphere. "You get your kicks where you can, Lieutenant, and if this haul is as big as your guardian angel thinks it is…"
Guardian angel. Marek nearly scoffed. LeLouch was anything but. "What?" he asked, voice pitched a step below John's. "We'll drink and get high and get whores and try to forget?"
The corner of John's mouth quirked up in something that, for the sake of authorial integrity, could not be described as a smile. "Something along those lines."
Da'denn was a wreck. Long abandoned by any species who could spit. Or breathe, for that matter. The last inhabitants had settled down, wiped out most of the intelligent life forms who'd lived there and used the rest for entertainment, food and fuel. Generally in that order. All viable minerals had been mined; as many resources drained as was possible. Anything the inhabitants could take and use, they had. Anything they couldn't, they'd destroyed.
John hoped to any deity and-slash-or goddess that would still give him the time of day (there weren't as many left as you'd think) that LeLouch wasn't pulling his leg with this tip-off. His breath fogged up the plexi-glass screen of his helmet. He hated these suits, plenty of restriction and not a lot of style, but it was safe to say he hated what the atmosphere might do to his skin even more. So suits it was.
"Straight on for half a mile," Marek was saying, gloved fingers tapping away at a screen of schematics and terrain maps, "then the main compound should be in plain sight."
"Woo hoo," announced John. Marek eyed the back of his helmet. John grinned, then glanced back at the taller man. "You brought everything?"
"Just about, sir. If you want the kitchen sink as well you might have to carry a few things, but I think it's doable."
This earned a snort from John, and in turn a twitch of a smile from Marek. They plodded on.
The air, when John and Marek finally got through the rusted, corroded pile of mouse-holed metal that might once have been secure gates, seemed to haze. Rank and diseased and fuck, weren't the pair of them grateful for the clean supply of oxygen strapped to various parts of their body? Marek set his satchel of looting related goodies down to one side and helped John lift a girder directly in their way.
Joint, crackling grunts through the intercom they had rigged between the two suits. A series of clanks as the girder tumbled away.
Two corridors later, the two Time Agents quite literally ran into a problem.
"You said, Lieutenant, that the generators had powered down." John's fist rammed into the seemingly empty air again, only to collide with an invisible obstacle. Faint ripples spread out from the impact, glittering across the surface of the force field where it caught the light from John and Marek's visor illuminators.
It was never a good sign, when John called him by his assigned rank; the one Marek always asked to be called by. But that was Captain John Hart all over. He never did as you asked, he did as he pleased.
"No, Captain," Marek said, attempting to give as good as he got, "I said the sensors indicated that they had."
Another growl. Two in one day. Marek was getting good. He rummaged in his satchel for something useful to the situation while John started to press buttons on the leather strap buckled around his wrist. Several beeps later, something in the wall fizzled and sparked, and John stuck his gloved hand through the air where the force field had been. Crowed a little in triumph before stopping and blinking at Marek's expression.
"What?" he said.
"How did you even..."
John wriggled his right wrist, the one around which his vortex manipulator was usually worn (and today was). "More than you think they are."
Marek's eyebrows twitched. "But they aren't equipped with the sort of technology that—"
"So you equip them," John said, shrugging a fluid shrug – which took talent in those space suits. "Now are we looting this shit-hole or what?"
Marek swung his satchel back onto a shoulder with a universe-weary sigh. "Shit-hole, sir. Always the shit-hole option."
"The stronghold should be up ahead on the left." The intercom seemed to be crackling more and more the further they moved into the building complex. Even ruined such as it was, a lot of the systems still seemed to be active, and shielded from John and Marek's sensors, too, which only served to make everything that little bit more complex.
"Should be, Marek?" The quirk of the captain's brow was evident even though Marek couldn't see it. "I don't like 'should be', not when we've got a limited supply of oxygen and have been going round in circles for the past Deity knows how long."
"Would you prefer 'indicated', then, sir?" Marek lightly inquired. "Either will suffice."
John snorted, a distorted and mildly disturbing sound that filtered through Marek's earpiece and into his ear. Both protested, and Marek winced.
Pad, pad, pad down the corridor. Pause.
"Your other left, sir."
A faint, muted beeping came to John's attention more slowly than he would have liked. "Tell me that's not some sort of self-destruct?"
Marek straightened, since he'd been crouched over a sealed crate, and followed John's helmet-visored gaze to a panel in the wall. "Some sort of map, maybe..." He hurried on over to it. Marek liked to think of himself as a someone who liked to be sure some random flashing control panel wasn't some sort of self-destruct system as much as the next man. And the next man happened to by his partner and superior officer, Captain "oops, sorry, was that your spine" John Hart. So yes. Marek wanted to be sure.
"It's a map."
"Oh good. Is it a map of which parts of the compound are going to blow up in our collective faces?"
"Not as such, no."
"Oh good. I can feel comforted, then?"
Marek wet his lips. Glanced down at one of his scanners before looking back over his shoulder. "Not as such, sir, no."
John... did likewise, actually. And in the iciest of top-of-the-freezer icy tones, he said, "Oh?"
"Pockets of life support still running. And I'm getting a life sign."