Out of the Vortex: The Thousand-Year Curse
Torchwood/Doctor Who/Japanese Mythology
I do not own any of the characters or themes of Doctor Who or Torchwood. Sarah Jane Patterson is an OC created by Sarah Harmon and is used with permission. Susie Olivier is an OC created by Anna Morris and is used with permission. Faith Harkness is interpreted by Rachel Brook and is used with permission. Violet Conway is an OC by Mary Kate Daily and is used with permission. Please do not sue my ass, this is purely for fun, not profit.
The Kyoto Mission
Torchwood Warehouse, Cardiff: June 22, 2011
Jack sat in silence, watching Gwen as she wandered below, taking assignments to the rest of the team. It was driving him mad not to just run up and shake her. He remembered everything: Ianto, Faction Paradox, the girls. . . but he was the only one who seemed to have any memory of the alternate timeline. And it was tearing him apart.
Gwen smiled up at him, rolling her eyes. "Jack, are you in charge or am I? Get your ass down here!"
He sighed. "I'll be right there. Hardass."
She turned away, her eyes softening as she thought of Rhys and her infant daughter Anwen, still wandering the stars. She missed them terribly.
She started as Jack put a hand on her shoulder.
He smirked at the shocked look on her face. "So what's so important that you just had to tell all of us at once, Gwen?"
She smacked at his hand. "No need to be rude. I just wanted to let you know that I've been doing some research into dream interpretation."
Sarah wandered over, smiling. "Don't knock it, Jack, dreams can tell you things you'd never think of….things you forgot, or already knew, from your subconscious."
She held out a cup of coffee to him, and laughed slightly. "I think I'm getting better at this…"
Jack took the coffee, but shot her a look."I just think that all that new age psycho-mystical bullshit won't get you very far. It's not like your name is Joseph and you're a hunky Israeli farmboy or anything. And he was quite the kisser. Knew this spot that just . . ."
Gwen coughed angrily.
Jack gulped. "Right. Anyway, what sort of dreams are you having, Gwen?" he asked, trying really hard not to sound sarcastic.
Sarah just shrugged, looking at him with a look of amusement. "Since I figured out I was telepathic, I've been doing all sorts of things." She wandered off to make sure everyone else was doing ok.
Gwen smiled at Sarah and mouthed a "Thank you" to her as she walked away.
She turned to Jack. "You obviously don't want to hear it."
Jack sighed in resignation. "No. I don't believe in the power of dreams. But it's clearly important to you. So I'll try to keep an open mind. What is it?"
Gwen frowned, trying to find the words. "It's like. . . it's like looking into another world. Memories. Things that don't fit. I remember. . . but it's just a dream, right? I know, I'm reading way too much into this."
Jack stared at her in shock and pain.
She remembers. Subconsciously, she remembers everything.
"I'm sorry, Gwen," he murmured. "I'm so, so sorry."
She looked at him, confused. "Jack? What is it?"
He panicked slightly. There was no way he could tell her those things were real. It could destroy her. "I have. . . I just remembered something I was supposed to do. I'll be back in a bit." He slipped out the door, headed towards the harbor.
Sarah went about her business, thinking to herself how this job wasn't too bad. It could be worse, and it was definitely more exciting than the waitress gig. She decided to test out her mind, and tried to send only Gwen a message.
He thinks he's so special, doesn't he?
She turned so Gwen could see, and gave her a conspiratorial wink.
Gwen turned to her and smiled.
But he is.
Sarah laughed, nodded, and then got quiet, as she watched Jack leave.
Gwen walked over to her, her eyes sad. "Sarah? Do you ever feel. . .I donno. Disjointed? Like something's missing only you can't remember?"
Sarah nodded, thinking. "Well, more often than I care to admit, but I kind of always have. I've had weird dreams. Like…I'm on another planet, I'm someone else, but myself at the same time. It's really odd…"
Gwen sighed. "I guess it's nothing to worry about, then. Still, I can't shake the feeling that something I did or said that I can't remember has really upset Jack. He's acting more closed off and enigmatic than normal."
Sarah sighed as well, thinking about everything, wondering. She almost remembered things, but it was like they were locked away. She briefly wondered if the Doctor could help. He seemed good with those things.
"I'm sorry, Gwen, I know the feeling, though. So at least you're not alone in it. I'd just like to know for sure…I mean, sometimes I really feel like I don't belong on Earth. But that's silly, isn't it?" She laughed lightly, trying to diffuse the mood.
Gwen smiled. "About as silly as feeling like Jack and I have a daughter somewhere." She put a hand on Sarah's arm. "But you know, the Doctor's really the only person who could tell us for sure."
"Ok….how do we find him? Well, that's if he even answers his phone…" Sarah grinned at Gwen. "Think a phone call is in order?"
Gwen nodded. "I know just the thing." She ran to Jack's desk and rummaged through the drawers, returning with a small leather book. "Found it. Psychic paper. Let's get him a message, shall we?"
Sarah's eyes lit up. "Brilliant idea!"
Before long, they heard a familiar whirring sound as the TARDIS materialized in front of them. But something seemed different. Something seemed. . . wrong.
"Doctor?" called Gwen.
The man who staggered out of the box looked extremely confused. "Warehouse? That's new."
Kyoto, Japan: May 8, 711
After a significant quest to capture John Hart after the murder of Agent Mirabel, Time Agent Susan Olivier had finally managed to catch up with him in the seedy little backwater town of Kyoto, near the shrine of Inari.
Susie looked at Hart down the barrel of her gun. She couldn't get the image of Mira's crumpled and lifeless body out of her head. She had to concentrate on her breathing in order to keep from simply pulling the trigger and ending this. She needed answers.
"Against my better judgement," she hissed with clenched teeth, "I will let you talk. So start talking. Why Mira?"
Her other hand was visibly at the front of her pants, just waiting for Hart to move so she could use her other weapon.
Dear God let him move wrong so I can shoot this bastard.
He smiled sadly at her. Though a master of trickery, the emotion certainly seems genuine. "I had no choice. I'm sorry. It was my last standing order with the Time Agency. Your boss ordered me to kill Mira years ago. I held off for so long because I couldn't see the sense in it. She was just a child at the time. I don't kill kids, you know?"
"Bullshit!" she screamed, eyes ablaze with anger. "You've never carried out an order that you didn't want to before! No matter how high up the asshole chain they went! So why now? And why her?"
He stared at her in shock, then sighed. "Because there's someone I'm trying to protect. And if it wasn't Mira, it would have been that person. Only two recruits in the history of the agency were fit for the designs of the authority. Mira was one."
Susie blinked, the only outward sign that she was confused by what he was saying. "And the other one? Wait, don't even bother trying to lie over that one. What designs did they have for her that they turned around and had you kill her?"
He held up his vortex manipulator. "Ever wonder what made these things work? I found myself thinking about that a lot. They're technology, yes. And we don't often worry about it beyond that. But what are they, really?"
Susie looked at Hart's vortex manipulator in increasing confusion. Where the hell was this going? More to the point, why was she talking to the psycho bunny at all?
"John. Why haven't I killed you yet?" She shook her head in irritation, then glared at him. "I don't actually care right at this moment how the damn things work! I want to know why Mira is dead, and who ordered it!"
He sighed. "My dear Miss Olivier, there are some things they teach you in training. Remember the first rule? There is no unimportant detail."
He reached for his wrist strap and took it off, handing it to her. "Look closely at it. It's not an arbitrary question. How the bloody things work is quite possibly the most important thing you can remember."
Susan stared suspiciously at the proffered strap before taking it in the hand not holding the gun. She kept her eyes on his face, however.
"They work by assimilating with our DNA and using our life force as a mobile energy source. How's that?"
Hart laughed. "That is what they teach, yeah. But it's a lie. Just like so much the Agency stands for. Your personal life force wouldn't be enough. It needs a more powerful source of energy. A pure, passionate human soul, ripped apart and crying out like the death throes of the universe. Can't you hear it?"
Susan blinked. "Wait…you're not seriously trying to tell me they had you kill Mira so these things would keep working?" She stared at him in growing horror.
"That's exactly what I'm telling you. Now, if you don't mind, I'd rather like to finish my business here and move on."
Torchwood Warehouse, Cardiff: June 22, 2011
Sarah cautiously walked up to the young man. "Who the hell are you? Where's the Dcotor?"
He rolled his eyes. "I don't know where he's at. Or my wife, for that matter. And I should ask you the same thing! All I did was go inside to change my shirt, and the next thing I know I'm here!"
Sarah glanced to Gwen, then back to the man. "Ah, well, we're not important… but I'm Sarah Jane Patterson. Really, though, that's odd. The TARDIS usually takes someone where they're needed." Retreating into deep thought, she studied the man and the TARDIS, thinking it looked different.
Gwen held out a hand to the man. "Gwen Cooper. And you are?"
He smiled politely at the women. "Rory. I'm not exactly sure what my last name is any more. But I guess it doesn't matter. Where am I exactly? Or when, perhaps is the better question."
Sarah looked at him with genuine curiosity. "It's 2011, and you're in Cardiff…What I'd like to know is, where were you?"
He moaned. "Cardiff. Well, great."
"Hey!" cried Gwen, slightly insulted.
"Sorry," Rory replied. "It's just. . . everyone else is in ancient Japan. Cardiff's well. . . not ancient Japan."
Sarah let out a breath. "Ancient Japan, really? What were you…well, the Doctor, what was he doing there?" She paused for a moment. "And you don't know how to fly the TARDIS, do you?"
Rory paled. "I. . . well. . . there are a lot of levers." He smiled apologetically. "We were sightseeing. Taking an actual vacation for once. And then this happened."
Gwen smiled at him warmly. "It's ok, Rory. We'll find a way to get you back to them."
"Thank you. But do any of you know how to —"
Suddenly, Jack burst in. "Doctor? What are you doing here?"
Rory glared slightly at the newcomer. "Um, hi. I'm Rory."
He stared back at the young Englishman. "Where's the Doctor?"
Jack frowned slightly. "Then why's the TARDIS. . . sorry. Who are you?"
Laughing, Sarah turned to Jack. "Jack, this is Rory, I'm guessing he's one of the Doctors companions du jour. Apparently, the TARDIS brought him here on her own…Rory, this is Jack."
Jack looked him up and down. "Hmm. Not bad. A bit geeky. Nice ass, though."
"Pardon?" gasped Rory, coloring slightly.
Gwen rolled her eyes. "Don't mind him. That's his way of saying hello."
Jack held out a hand to him, flashing him his signature smirk. "Captain Jack Harkness. Very pleased to meet you, Rory."
Rory took the hand gingerly. "Uh . . . hi?" He turned to Gwen. "Should I tell him I'm married?"
She smiled slightly. "I doubt it will change anything."
Sarah nodded. "Yeah, pretty standard greeting from him… Except for me, I oddly don't recall that…" She smirked, teasing obviously.
Jack smiled apologetically. "Well, I would have, but I thought you were Gwen's."
Gwen glared at him. He ignored her, but smirked slightly.
"The good news," he continued, "is that I know how to fly the old girl. I can get us to the Doctor. No problem."
Sarah snorted. "You know how to fly the TARDIS, Jack?"
He nodded. "I did a lot of her circuitry when the Doctor added the extrapolator unit. So I know a bit about how she works. Let's go."
Everyone loaded into the TARDIS. After he closed the door, Jack looked around. Everything, including the control panel, looked completely different.
"Well, fuck," he muttered.
Sarah walked up to the control panel, studying the levers, then turned, looking at everyone. "I think I can do it… I know how."
Jack stared at her in confusion. "How? I mean. . . well, ok. She's all yours."
She walked up and put her hands on the console for a moment. Nodding to herself, she started quickly flipping switches, moving levers and the like.
"Hang on, guys, we're headed for ancient Japan!"
Inari Shrine Grounds, Kyoto: May 8, 711
Hart's words seemed to be coming from a distance. Susie's ears were filled with the rushing of blood, and she began to shake in reaction. Her finger tightened automatically on the trigger of her gun, and she kept pulling the trigger long after the gun clicked empty. A noise finally began to penetrate her fogged senses, and eventually she realized that it was the sound of screaming. And it was coming from her own mouth.
Hart caught Susie as she dropped to her knees, cradling her gently. "I know. I know. Come on, Susie. Pull it together. You have to."
After what felt like hours, but was really only a few minutes, Susie finally pulled herself together, remembering where she was. And with whom.
"Well this is one for the books." She attempted a shaky chuckle. "Never thought I'd be going all girly on the bloke I'm supposed to be killing."
She turned on her signature smirk, though it was a little lopsided, and it didn't hide the deadness in her eyes. She began to struggle against Hart. "Tell me who gave the orders, and I'll think about letting you live a little longer."
"That would be me," murmured a playful feminine voice. A middle-aged woman with golden brown, wavy hair smiled down at them, her eyes flashing dangerously. "Well done, Hart. Hello again, Susie."
Susie stared at her. "What do you mean, again? Who the fuck are you? Wait, you gave the order to kill Mira?" In one swift movement she was on her feet, her gun pointed at the woman in front of her.
The woman held up her hands in surrender. "Slow down, Susie. I'm not going to hurt you. And it's not what you think, I promise."
Hart snarled at the woman like a beast. "Like hell. You promised that if I. . . back off, River!"
"That's Commandant, to you," she shot back.
"Not anymore it's not."
Susan laughed in derision, her eyes narrowing. "You're not going to hurt me? That's rich! Little late to be promising such things don't you think? And what is it exactly that I've got wrong, hmmm? You ordered Mira's death. Which part of that have I got wrong?"
River smiled almost sadly. "Do you think I would order the death of an innocent person unless there was a reason? Do I look like that sort of woman to you?"
Hart started to speak.
"Shut it, John," hissed River. "The grown-ups are talking."
Susie just stared at the older woman for a moment. Then her eyes began to lose some of their deadness, being replaced instead by anger. "Lady, you I wouldn't play poker against, ever. But you're right. You are not the type of woman who does things just for the hell of it are you? Doesn't mean I'm willing to trust you however, but explain it to me. What the hell's going on?"
She smiled slightly. "Spoilers, my dear. But I will tell you this much: you need to re-evaluate who your friends are. And who your enemies are."
She kissed the younger woman on the cheek. "It's been a pleasure. I've got to go."
"Dammit River, don't do this to me!" she screamed. "River!"
Susie threw the empty gun after her in disgust, then turned on Hart. "And do you have anything to add to the melting pot of utter insanity that I seem to, yet again, have been thrown into?"
"Just this." He kissed her full on the lips.
A Meadow, Kyoto: Same Day
As Team Torchwood piled out of the TARDIS, a strange man ran towards them, grinning and waving wildly.
"You brought the TARDIS back!" cried the Doctor. "Good job!" He suddenly tripped, pitching face first into the muddy ground. Rory face-palmed.
Sarah smiled in amusement. "Still the spazz, aren't you, Doctor?"
Faith smiled broadly. "Doctor!"
He looked up at her with a childish grin of delight. "Faith!" He pulled her into a very muddy hug, beaming at everyone else.
"Jack! Good to see you again! And you brought the rest of the team. Rory Pond, how did you find them?"
"Accidentally? The TARDIS just. . . wait. Where's Amy?"
"Amy?" asked Faith.
Rory nodded. "Yes, Amy. My wife. Where is she?"
The Doctor frowned slightly. "See, that's the thing. . . I'm not entirely sure."
"Should we help you find her?" asked Faith
The Doctor started to reply but Rory cut him off.
"Of course you will! Come on. My wife's out there somewhere." He shook his head at the Doctor. "Ritalin. Get some."
Faith raised an eyebrow at this. "I have missed a lot, apparently."
Sarah walked up to the Doctor, handing him a towel she'd grabbed. "You look like you could use this…I had something I wanted to talk to you about, actually, I have the last few times I've seen you."
"Thank you, Sarah. Alright then. Last time I saw Amy, she was. . ." He trailed off, staring into the distance.
"What?" asked Rory, paling. "What is it?"
The Doctor pointed further down the clearing. "Was that creek there before?"
Inari Shrine Grounds, Kyoto: May 8, 711
For a moment, Susie leaned into the kiss, then, almost without volition, her knee connected with his groin. Hard. "Sorry. Dance card's full. Maybe next millennium."
Hart's mouth opened in a silent scream as he crumpled to the ground. He stared up at her in shock and anger and unbelievable pain.
Susie crossed her arms and glared right back at Hart. "Apparently you haven't figured it out yet. I love Mira. Loved her. And you killed her. Does that make things any clearer to you?"
"I know. I am so, so sorry. I had no choice. It was her or. . . I couldn't. I couldn't do it." He stared at her, eyes flooded with tears that are only half from her kick.
"Her or …what John? Her or what?"
"You, ok?" he cried. "It was you! All this time, you're the one I've been trying to protect. Are you happy now?"
He curled into a ball, waiting for her to begin kicking him again.
Susie's legs gave out on her and she landed on her knees once more.
This is so not happening.
She savagely forced down the hysterical laughter trying to emerge from her throat. Her thoughts seemed to have frozen. "You've been trying to protect me? You have been trying to protect me?"
She wrapped her arms around her waist and leaned forward till her forehead is resting on the floor in front of her. "God, I really must have pissed you off at some stage mustn't I? Why else would you be doing this to me?"
He sighed, uncurling and sitting up, resting his back against the shrine. "What would you have me do, luv? After everything that happened. I made a mistake, years back. I know you think I'm vile and disgusting and evil. And maybe I am. Maybe that's the choice I made. But I never, ever, ever meant for this to happen. It was supposed to be you and me and Jack, forever against the world. But I understand. And I am truly sorry."
He reached in his coat and pulled out a knife, pressing it against his throat. "Guess the least I can do is save you the trouble."
Susie rolled her eyes. "Oh for God's sake put the damned knife down will you? You might hurt somebody with it. Fucking drama queen."
Only then did Susie raise herself until she could actually see Hart. "You tried this shit on me too many times over the years you bastard, and I always fell for it. I always hoped that this time, maybe this time you actually meant it. but you never did! And I'm tired of pretending to myself that you'll change."
She sighed in weariness. "I can't let you do this to me again, John. I will not let you fuck with my emotions, and then leave me out to dry! And if you don't believe I'm serious, then I'll just have to prove it to you!"
She lunged forward with a knife in her hand, aiming for his groin.
His eyes went wide. "Sweet mother of God, woman!" He grabbed her and flipped her onto the ground. "Why can't you ever take me seriously? You're tired of me teasing, is that it? I thought you liked it."
Susie glared up at him from where she lay. Sometimes being the 'weaker' sex really sucked. "If it was just teasing I'd be o-fucking-kay with it! But telling me you love me? Telling me you want me to have you're damn kids some day? That's not the kind of thing you tell a woman, then walk off and fuck her almost brother! Now get the fuck off me, you asshole!"
He shook his head, blue eyes ablaze. "No. I'm not going to let you get away with this self-righteous bullshit any more. I'm sorry that I hurt you. And I'm sorry that you think what happened with me and Jack was. . . had anything to do with how I feel about you. You're not the only one who gets to be conflicted, cupcake."
He pulled her hand with the knife in it back towards her intended target, hissing as the blade touched the seam of his pants. "Go ahead and stab me then. I know you want to. Make me your docile little ox. Because even then, I will never stop coming for you. I will always find you. And I will always forgive you for hating me."
Susie pressed the knife harder against Hart's groin, her eyes not leaving his. Then she closed her eyes in defeat, and relaxed her hold, letting the knife slip from her fingers. Her face remained expressionless, but a single tear emerged from her eye, to travel slowly down her cheek. "You are so full of shit."
He smiled slightly. "But you love me anyway." He reached down and wiped the tear from her cheek tenderly. "Don't you? Admit it."
She swallowed hard against the emotions clogging her throat. Then she shook her head sharply and opened her eyes to give John her gaze: empty, expressionless. She smirks slightly.
"No comment. Least said, soonest mended and all that." She raised her free hand to cover his face, pushing him away from her. "Get off me already, you weigh a ton!"
He complied. "Fine. But only because I have a feeling that we aren't alone any more."
As he spoke, an impossibly large white fox with fiery eyes pounced on him and carried him off in its teeth.
A Meadow, Kyoto: Same Day
Faith spun around to look where the Doctor was pointing.
There is a creek there. But…why does it look so strange…?
The Doctor smiled. "Well, just one thing to do. Let's go look at it!"
Everyone followed him down to the bank. The water seemed. . . unusual.
Jack frowned. "This is a creek, right?" He poked at the water with his boot. "Then why isn't it moving?"
Faith shrugged. She cautiously approached the water and reached out a hand to touch it. A scaly, damp hand reached out of the water and pulled the girl into it. She vanished from view.
Jack's eyes widened. "Faith! No!"
Sarah stared in shock. "Oh no! What the hell?" She paused at the water's edge, but not too close, peering in. "What was that thing…wait, ancient Japan…Could it be?"
Jack rounded on her. "What? What is it? And how do I kill it?"
"Well, if my guess is correct… It's a Kappa, and there's really not anyway to kill them, unless we can coax them out of the water. The legends say if you can make him spill all the water in the indent in his head, it'll weaken it…"
She looked away from him, back to the water. "I'm also pretty sure this is a nest."
"Oh, God," murmured Rory. He put a hand to his mouth. "So many possibilities. None of them good."
Jack smirked at the man. "Cool it, tiger. I'm sure the Doctor has a solution."
He looked over at the said Gallifreian, who was licking at the water, a strange look on his face.
"Well, maybe not," Jack continued. "But we can get her back. I'm sure of it."
Gwen stared at him in concern. "But how? Surely, you aren't going to..."
He cannonballed into the creek, vanishing from view.
Sarah rolled her eyes at Jack's stunt, then turned to the Doctor. "Doctor, still have the licking thing, hmm?"
He looked up at her, startled. "Sorry, what? Oh. Yeah. It's definitely water, but it tastes. . . artificial. We're not dealing with a natural source here. Which can only mean. . . an unnatural one."
Sarah smirked. "Thank you, Captain Obvious…The real question is... well, there's more than one: Where is it coming from, and who or what is behind it?" She looked back at the water, curious. She stepped closer, and reached out to touch it, looking closely at the water. At the last second, she jerked her hand back.
"Definitely kappa!" She scrambled back to a safe distance.