The Fading Light- CONCLUSION: Abide With Me

Torchwood Hub, Cardiff: August 15, 2030

Seren Jones and Anwen Cooper were gearing up for what would — should they succeed — be their last mission. They were taking very little with them: a gun each, some cash, and an extra set of clothes.

Jack paced the floor in front of them, his eyes troubled. "Girls," he asked softly, "are you sure you want to do this?"

Seren stared intently at the immortal. "Of course we are, Jack. We were prepared to do this the minute we stepped into your lives."

Annie nodded, smiling sadly at her father. "We would never ask for life at the cost of so many others. And besides, who knows what will happen? Time's a tricky thing, tad."

He tried to smile back, but he couldn't quite bring himself to do it. Instead, he threw his arms around his teenaged daughter and kissed the top of her head. "I am so, so sorry that I was never there for you, Annie. I shouldn't have left. You needed a father."

She shook her head, pulling him tighter into the embrace. "No. I had a father. You might have been gone most of the time. But you were there for me when I really needed you. You brought my Seren home."

Jack sighed. "You and I both know that wasn't enough, sweetheart. You deserved better. You and your mother both did."

"But I got Batman." She laughed softly as he pulled away and looked at her in confusion.

"Thank you, dad," she continued. "For everything. Even when you weren't there, you gave me someone. . . someone to fight for. Someone I can still fight for. I love you, dad. And I'm going to do this for you." She kissed his cheek gently and walked over to Seren.

The other girl smiled warmly at her girlfriend's mother. "Gwen, thank you for taking care of me after my parents died. I know things were never easy, but. . ." She embraced the older woman tightly. As she pulled away, she slipped her whistle and gun into Gwen's hand.

"What's this?" asked Gwen, confused.

Seren smiled sadly. "I won't need that where we're going. Please, take care of Myfanwy for me. I'm afraid she'll be lonely now."

Gwen nodded. "I will. I promise." She struggled to hold back her tears, to stay brave for her girls.

Annie kissed her mother warmly, smiling at her. "Ffarwel, mam," she murmured in Welsh.

"Arhoswch yn ddiogel," replied Gwen, kissing her cheek gently.

Seren and Annie met each other at an open space in the room, near where Jack and Seren arrived from the rift. They held hands tightly, smiling serenely at each other. Then Annie pressed a button on her rift manipulator, and they vanished.

Gwen looked at Jack, tears now flowing freely down her cheeks. He put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close.

"Shhh, now," he whispered. "It'll be ok. In a few minutes, this will all seem like a dream."

Gwen kissed him gently on the lips. As she drew back, she whispered sadly to him.

"That's what I'm afraid of."

An Alleyway: London: 2009, Day 4 of the 456 Incident

The man known as John Hart walked down a narrow side street, oddly underdressed. His normal red coat was gone, replaced with a faded grey t-shirt, torn jeans, and old trainers. It was clear that he did not want to stand out for once. As he walked, he mumbled quietly to himself.

"C'mon Eye Candy. Where are you? Shouldn't be that hard to track you down. And according to my calculations, you should be here by. . ."

He stopped as a short, well-dressed man appeared in the alleyway, carrying shopping bags. Ianto Jones walked quickly. Jack hated it when he was late, especially in those dark days.

Hart whistled. "Well, hello again."

Ianto pivoted, his green eyes narrowed. "And what do you want, then? In case you haven't heard, Jack's too busy to play right now."

Hart chuckled, leering at him. "Oh, Eye Candy. Still so very pretty but so very stupid. I'm not here for Jack."

"Get down, Ianto!" screamed Annie.

He ducked as Jack's daughter fired a sonic taser at Hart. He was hit full in the chest and went down swiftly, convulsing with electricity.

Ianto stared at her in shock. "What. . . who are you?"

She smiled grimly. "A friend. Now run. Jack's starting to worry."

He nodded. "Thank you!"

She smiled sadly at him as he took off down the alleyway, bags in hand.

"Goodbye, Ianto Jones," she whispered. She hefted the unconscious Hart and dragged him towards the abandoned flats.

Abandoned Flats, London: Same Day

Mira Jamerson, time agent, smiled warmly at her companions. The time for retribution was nearly at hand. All they had to do now is find Hart, and he had agreed to go stand trial for the murders of their operatives.

Her smile cooled as the task proved harder than anticipated. "He said he'd meet us at this old abandoned set of flats. But I don't see him anywhere."

Suddenly, her vortex manipulator beeped. She pressed the play button, and a hologram of Hart appeared.

"I'm so sorry, luv, but I'm afraid capturing me isn't going to be so easy. See, here I was, going to turn myself in, and wouldn't you know I had to blunder into another crisis? Now, I can't just let you all take me. So here's the deal. You let me go, and I don't destroy the future. Seems pretty reasonable to me. See you around!"

He vanished and the transmission ended.

Mira glared angrily at the place his projection had been. "Forget the trial. When I catch that bastard, I'm gonna vivisect him."

Susan looked thoughtfully at Mira.

"Well, wasn't that fun girls? Our serial nut bunny has decided he wants to play hero. Take a note Superior Officer," she stressed sardonically, "when the nut bunnies promise you something, never, EVER believe them okay? Makes things so much easier when you remember that point."

Mira sighed. "You're right, of course. I can't believe I was so stupid that I. . ."

She paused, listening, her ear cocked towards the building.

"Anyone else hear. . . scraping?"

Susie didn't change stance but suddenly there was a watchfulness about her as she scanned the area.

"Stationary or mobile?"

"I'm not sure, but I think it's coming from this building."

Mira motioned for the others to follow her stealthily. As they entered the building, she recognized a familiar smell: fear, and a sort of citrusy residue.

"Something strange is going on here," she whispered.

Susie wrinkled her nose at the unfamiliar smell. She knew the smell of fear, but what was the other one? Some sort of sweet, lemony smell? She didn't know but it was oddly familiar, as if she should recognize it. And even more peculiar, it seemed somehow…comforting.

She coughed. "Okay, I don't know about you, but I'm thinking trap…yep…definitely trap. Which totally explains why we're still heading in this direction. Completely natural under the circumstances."

Mira looked over her shoulder, nodding. "I agree it's a trap. Maybe you should go check the rest of the building."

Susan nodded and headed down the hall.

Mira opened a door to find John Hart, naked and cursing, tied to a bed.

He hissed at her. "Clever. Very clever, sending some new faces with high-powered machinery after me."

Mira stared at him in shock. "What the hell are you talking about? I never sent anyone."

"Then who . . .?" he trailed off with a sigh. "Oh, it doesn't matter. Untie me, will you?"

Mira beamed at him. "Don't think I will, thanks."

"Stupid bitch!" he growled. "If you weren't such a whore, I would have killed you by now."

She ran towards him, ready to slap him across the face. He reached up a hand and plunged a small blade under her left breast. As he pulled back, shredded rope fell from his wrist.

"Your boss says hello, Heather," he muttered. He smiled sadly as he watched her blood bubble over his hand. "One last mission before I left for good. And it had to be this one. I'm sorry, little Mira. Say hello to Lucian for me. He was a good man. I'm sorry about him too."

Seren and Annie watched in horror from the hallway as Mira crumpled to the ground, a pool of blood spreading around her and staining the hardwood floor. Hart noticed them and nodded, pressing a button on his vortex manipulator and vanishing from sight.

"So that's it, then," whimpered Seren. "Both of them. Dead. And they never even met each other."

Annie pulled her close as she wept.

"It. . . It's just so. . . they were made for each other, and now they'll never know," Seren sobbed, clinging to the woman she loved.

Annie thought of her own parents. Everything would change now. But. . . "I know what you mean," she murmured.

They kissed passionately, their tears mingling and soaking their shirts. As they kissed, they began to fade, until soon all that was left was a sigh and Mira's corpse.

Well, that's the end of the Torchwood Arc of Out of the Vortex! Next section is the beginning of the Time Agency Arc, which gets pretty confusing. Join us on the next update with The Thousand-Year Curse, starting tomorrow.