"No. We can handle this on our own before he gets back from London." Gwen's tone of voice was defiant. "It's probably just a bunch of weevils taking refuge in that old church. It's derelict, so there shouldn't be any civilians to worry about."
"I don't know, Owen. More than three, at a guess."
"And less than?"
"Does it bloody matter?"
"Yes, it fucking does matter, Gwen, because five would be manageable and ten suicidal."
"They're not going to hang around and wait for Jack to return. We've been coping well enough in the past few months, we'll cope tonight."
"At least call him and let him know what we're doing, you're not in charge any more Gwen."
"For God's sake, Ianto, he left us all for long enough on our own and didn't give a toss about us then. It's not like we can't do this."
"He's got a point, Gwen." Owen hated that he was agreeing with Ianto, but Gwen's bossiness was really annoying him. "He'll be pissed off if you don't let him know what you're up to."
"Bollocks to that."
"And who co-ordinates? Who stays here?" Ianto waved an arm in the general direction of the workstations.
"Why, were you hoping to sit this one out?" She managed to make this sound more patronising than she intended and actually winced at Ianto's hurt expression.
"No, Gwen. It just goes against best practice."
"When he wasn't here, we all went out and that's what we're doing now."
"For what it's worth I agree with Ianto, this isn't how we should handle this."
"Tosh? I thought you'd understand. He left me in charge, it's my decision. I'll face up to him when he gets back and reads the report. OK?" Gwen glared at Ianto, convinced he was just doing this to prove to Jack that he was more loyal than she was.
"It's your funeral, Cooper. Let's fucking do it then. You can drive." Owen threw her keys to the SUV.
Unlike the last time they'd all set off in the SUV, there was no camaraderie, just an undercurrent of hostility as Gwen sped through the streets of Cardiff towards a particularly run down part of town. Owen refused to speak to her and she bristled at the thought of Ianto and Tosh typing messages to each other on their PDA's behind her back, literally. Damn them, they'd been happy enough to follow her lead when Jack had buggered off, why couldn't they accept her authority now?
Pulling over on the waste ground and getting out of the SUV without delay she instantly regretted not having put on anything warmer, the night air was chilly and it felt as if there was rain in the air. She shivered in her leather jacket as she waited impatiently for the rest of the team to join her and as she glanced at each of them in turn, it hit her like a blow to the gut, that they were Jack's team again, not hers anymore. She had only ever had temporary custody of them. She swallowed hard and dismissed the thought that this was a bad idea, she had committed to this now, there was no going back. With any luck they'd be back in the Hub before Jack noticed they'd gone.
They walked towards the derelict Methodist chapel that was boarded up on the outside. There were noises coming from inside and scuffling sounds. Tosh held out a scanner in the direction of the building and looked confused.
"Gwen, are you certain that we're dealing with weevils?"
"Yes, Tosh – why?"
"There's some other signal coming from in there. A high energy source, but it seems to be dormant for now, like a massive store of potential energy."
"The police patrol officer reported what could only be a pack of weevils heading this way-"
"So, now it's a pack of weevils – fucking brilliant!"
"Right, let's get on with this –" Gwen ignored Owen's sarcasm and the way the other two shot concerned looks in each others direction. "Everyone has weevil spray and is armed, check. We split into two teams, Owen you can come with me, we'll take the front. Ianto, you team up with Tosh and check out the back of the church. Keep comms open."
It didn't take long to break through the flimsy plywood boards and get into the main part of the chapel, but the noise they'd made had been enough to alert whatever was inside as it was now silent as they moved cautiously towards the centre of the building. The beams of their torches criss-crossed the murky interior, lighting up the thick clouds of dust, no doubt disturbed by the departing weevils. It would seem that they had access to a main drain and had all escaped into the sewers before there had been the chance to apprehend a single one of them.
"For fuck's sake, Gwen."
"Shut it, Owen!"
As their eyes grew accustomed to the gloom they could make out, amongst the scattered remnants of broken pews and shards of glass from vandalised windows, a cleared area. Carefully walking around the debris the two teams approached the centre of the chapel, surprised to see an upturned bench on which was placed an object that was definitely alien. It was shaped like a complex polyhedron, made of a crystalline metallic compound; its facets caught the light from their torches and refracted it into iridescent reflections.
"What the hell is that?
"It's beautiful –" Gwen felt drawn to it and moved closer to get a better look at the object that was about the size of large orange.
"Jack told me once that the weevils collect things that fall through the rift, it's almost as if they worship them." Ianto recalled his irreverent suggestion of a Gollum-like weevil muttering about its 'precious', he smiled as his memory included Jack's laughter.
Gwen reached out and, before Ianto could shout at her to stop, the object changed its appearance, becoming much darker, less shiny, and then, very slowly, the panels began to pop out one by one, changing from flat facets to sharp projections.
"Oh fuck, that doesn't look good!" Owen shone his torch directly at the rapidly darkening shape.
Ianto dashed forward, pushing Gwen out of the way and pressed down the top projection, which seemed to stop the reaction that Gwen had initiated.
"What the hell are you doing, Ianto?"
"Gwen, for once in your bloody life, do as you're told – get the fuck out of here – all of you!"
"What's going on, Ianto?" Tosh asked moving slowly towards him.
"Scan it – quickly – does this match the energy signature you picked up outside?"
"Yes – it's increased and now seems to be in a holding pattern. The electromagnetic pulse it gave off just knocked out the comms as well. What is it?"
"Short answer - it's a bomb."
"How do you know that?" demanded Gwen, staring aghast at what had looked like such a beautiful artefact.
"I archive stuff – remember?" Ianto shouted, his patience wearing thin.
"What do we do?" asked Tosh, desperate to work out a way of dealing with the situation.
"You run like hell – it's Terileptil in origin, a war-like race with a taste for the aesthetic. As soon as this trigger is released, the other panels prime and once they are all in position the whole bloody thing detonates."
"How can you be sure about that?" Gwen asked incredulously.
"Remember that gas explosion a couple of years ago down by the docks?" Ianto responded, gritting his teeth.
"That was what one of those things did?"
"Yes. Now, I know you like to give orders, Gwen, so it's about time you gave some!"
"Gwen – you fucking wanted to be in charge – do something!" Owen yelled at Gwen. He'd been shining his torch from the bomb to Ianto's face and had spotted the beads of sweat on the younger man's brow and could tell that whatever they did it would have to be soon.
"Oh fuck … Ianto, what do you suggest?"
"Get. Out. And call Jack. Please."
Gwen looked directly into Ianto's eyes, realising what he was getting at – he didn't think he was going to get out of this alive. It was all her damn fault. Jack would never forgive her.
"Hold on there, Ianto, we'll be back to deal with that thing, there must be something in the SUV … or maybe Jack will know what to do – you stay put…"
"I'll stay with Ianto."
"He needs some light –"
Only then did the others notice that Ianto had thrown his own torch to the ground as he'd rushed to get to the device. If they all left him, he would be alone in the dark with a bomb waiting to go off.
"OK – but we'll be back." Gwen took Owen's arm and they made their way out as quickly as they could through the jumble of broken furniture.
"Tosh – please, just leave a torch on the side there and get out –" Ianto swallowed back his fear and tried to persuade Tosh to leave the chapel.
"I'm not leaving you on your own, so don't waste your breath arguing."