The Great Act

Chapter 1

[Standard Earth year-4125]

[Location-Passenger Liner "Solar Skimmer"]

[Destination-Earth]

Captain Jack Harkness sat in the mess hall of the Solar Skimmer, prodding at some sort of unidentifiable sludge. He didn't have a problem with the cuisine itself; it was his own fault that he had accidentally ordered the meal plan for Judoon. Plus, it was actually kind of tasty, but there was something off about this specific meal, and he couldn't place it. Well, it's not as it forgoing a meal would kill him; in truth, nothing could kill him. Well, to clarify, nothing could kill him for long. Then again, that was an issue for another day. Not that Jack was relaxed, but he didn't expect anything bad to happen on this particular voyage. He was just returning to Earth to finish up some business with the third incarnation of Torchwood. The organization was no longer needed, and Jack was out visiting one of their branches to help clean up. Torchwood was packing up shop, forever.

"Excuse me," the voice of a young woman brought Jack out of his thoughts. A woman who was probably about the same height as Jack stood awkwardly across the table from him, looking down at Jack as he poked his food, "May I sit here?" she asked.

"Oh, it's my pleasure, go ahead and sit."

"Thank you," the woman smiled, setting her tray down and sitting. She had on a deep blue vest, with a white t-shirt, blue jeans and worn Converse shoes.

Noting her clothes, Jack said, "I couldn't help but noticed your choice of clothing. Going for an oldie look?"

The woman smiled in amusement, "No, my good sir, they just happen to be some of the only clothes I own. Before this conversation progresses any farther, may I ask your name?"

"Ah, where are my manners," Jack apologized, "I'm Captain Jack Harkness." He extended his hand.

"Jack of all trades, Dove Smith," Dove took Jack's hand and shook it, "Nice to meet you Captain."

Jack tasted his food again, and made the final decision to skip that meal. As he pushed his tray away he asked, "So, Dove, what's bringing you to Earth?"

Dove thought for a second, before answering, "I'm not really sure. I just got the feeling that I needed to be there. Besides, it's not as if I have anything tying me down."

"Intuition, huh?" Jack commented, "Who knows, maybe you are here for a reason."

Dove put a bit of her food in her mouth, before scrunching her face in disgust and spitting some in a napkin discreetly, "Dear god," she coughed, "what's wrong with today's food?"

Jack looked around the room, and saw everyone else eating their food without a fuss, "I think it's just the two of us who have a problem with the food."

Dove pushed her tray away, "Well, regardless, I'm not eating that."

Suddenly the entire ship shook, as if it had been hit by something. People cried out and some screamed in fear. Dove and Jack held onto the table and the tremors passed. Over the intercom, the captain announced, "Just a bit of engine trouble, folks, nothing to worry about."

"Engine trouble?" Dove appeared troubled, "But the Sparrow-Classes have the most stable engines of the 42nd century! Engine troubles my ass."

Jack began to walk off, and Dove shot him a look, "Hey, where are you going?"

"Just going to check on my luggage." Was the terse reply.

Dove smiled, "You're going to check things out, aren't you?"

Jack raised an eyebrow in surprise, "You're perceptive, aren't you? Are you going to report me?"

Dove shook her head, "Nope. Count me in on your sleuthing."

Jack grinned, "Great, let's go."

The pair set off towards the maintenance areas unnoticed.

[A few minutes later]

Deep within the maintenance access corridors, Jack and Dove stood in front of a big metal door labeled "Engine Access-Staff Only". Jack was punching numbers into his Vortex Manipulator, attempting to override the door's deadlock.

"Damn," he swore, "I can't disable the deadlock." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a Sonic Blaster, "Guess I'll just have to force the issue."

Dove rolled her eyes and pushed the weapon down, "Calm down, Jack. No need to remove the entire door. I've got this."

Dove reached into her pocked, disturbing a silver chain that reached from a belt loop into the same pocket. She pulled out a large silver cylindrical device. It appeared homemade, but had a certain elegant symmetry. The bottom of the device ended in a two-pronged black point, while the other end had a blue diode surrounded by three claws slightly longer than the diode. The main body had many exposed screws and sported an impressive amount of buttons, dials, and small displays. In size, it reminded Jack of the Master's Laser Screwdriver, but its style reminded Jack of The Doctor's Sonic Screwdriver.

Dove caught Jack staring at the device, "Do you like it?" she asked, "I made it myself. I call it the Sonic Hammer." She pointed the Sonic Hammer at the door's lock, and the claws snapped open. She adjusted a few of the dials and pressed a central black button. A low-pitched whining echoed in the narrow corridors, reminding Jack of The Doctor's Sonic device. After nothing happened, Dove frowned, and turned one of the device's dials all the way up. The whining became higher-pitched, and the door's lock sparked and clicked open.

Dove powered down her device and smiled, "See? No need to remove the whole door. Just smash the lock. I'll repair it after we go through."

Jack grinned at Dove, "Dove Smith, you are brilliant."

Jack and Dove went through the door, and closed it behind them. Dove used her Sonic Hammer on the door again, reinstating the Deadlock Seal, before they both continued on.

The engine room was dark and a bit stifling. The heat from whatever reactor powered the ship smothered Dove and Jack under a blanket of warmth. Otherwise, from what Jack and Dove could see, the room was well maintained.

A few pieces of machinery glowed in the room, but they couldn't make out anything definitely.

"Kind of dark in here." Jack stated.

"Allow me." Dove pointed her Sonic Hammer in the air, and activated it again. It emitted a low-pitched modulated whine, and the lights in the room came on, illuminating a large room with the central reactor dominating the middle. It resembled a tube, filled with red liquid. Machinery surrounded the tube, and wires and metal tubing attached the central reactor to the machines. Computer banks whirred and clicked, as Dove and Jack examined the equipment.

"Standard 42nd Century Red Matter reactor," Jack said, looking over the equipment, "I can't see anything out of the ordinary."

Dove accessed one of the computers, its screen coming to life, displaying numbers at a fantastic rate.

"The computers say there haven't been any problems during the last couple of hours. So whatever that tremor was, it wasn't the reactor." Dove reported, scrolling through the automated logs.

Another tremor shook the ship, this time accompanied with the sound of tearing metal and explosions. They were faint, though.

"What was that?!" Dove yelped, startled.

"I don't know," Jack said, running to the computer, and patching it in to the ship's emergency systems. The camera feeds it presented were grim, "but I think we were just boarded."