Title: Through Time And Space: Chapter 16 – Courses Of Action
Characters: Ianto, OCs.
Word Count: 3173
Spoilers: CoE, House of the Dead
Summary: Ianto is determined to set certain injustices to rights, but how best to achieve his goal?
Written For: Challenge #119: Punch at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Leaving the family to settle into their quarters, Ianto made his way back to the console room; he wasn’t in the best of moods, mulling over what Garten had told him of the events leading up to their encounter in the back street market.
“Isn’t there some kind of law out here to protect those in need? Garten and his family lost practically everything to the brigands who attacked their ship. Hell, they lost half their family! And instead of getting help from the station’s authorities, they were exploited, their assets systematically stripped until they were penniless and starving! What kind of people would do that?”
“The majority of planetary systems are self-governed. In this sector, the planet below is the seat of power, however the ruler is ignorant of what goes on aboard the space station, her advisors take a cut of all bribes in return for giving her false information. Provided that trade with other nearby worlds continues without disruption, the status quo is maintained and the corrupt persons who are in positions of power profit while keeping the lower classes firmly under their thumb.
It appears that the brigands who attacked Garten’s ship were despatched from here. They are in the employ of the station’s manager, sent to ensure that no outsiders profit from trading locally. The manager would not find it easy to extort bribes from an independent trader with no local ties, which is no doubt the reason everyone who works here must be a native and belong to the union.”
“How do you know all that?”
“I am monitoring radio frequencies, it is a very effective way of gaining information.”
“Huh. Do you happen to know who the station manager is and where to find him?”
“His name is Maynaud Pax, he lives in a heavily fortified section of the station, no doubt owing to all the death threats he receives. He has little contact with anyone other than his three assistants, who collect protection money for him, along with anything else he feels the inhabitants and local traders owe him. As you can imagine, he is not well-liked.”
“There’s a surprise. Well, now he’s gained another enemy, and this one isn’t going to just sit around and let him get away with what he’s doing. Can you get us inside his quarters?”
“For what reason?”
“I want to punch the bastard in the face!”
“Violence seldom solves anything, Ianto.”
“Maybe not, but it would make me feel a hell of a lot better!” Ianto sighed and shoved his hands through his hair. “I’m not leaving this place until Pax gets what’s coming to him! What would the Doctor do in this sort of situation?”
“I do not have that information, Ianto. I am sorry.”
“Not your fault. Okay, I need to think this through. While I’m at it I may as well work off some of my frustrations in the gym.”
“Perhaps I should reinforce the punching bag supports.”
“Good idea, I intend to do to it what I can’t do to the person I really want to hurt,” and with that, Ianto headed out of the console room. That punching bag wasn’t going to know what hit it!
Down in the newly created guest suite, Garten paced around the lounge, restless despite his weariness. He thought for a while before finally coming to a decision.
“I would speak with Mister Jones, if I may.”
“Ianto is currently occupied, I will guide you to him.”
“I do not wish to disturb him if he’s busy.”
“’Busy’ and ‘occupied’ are not the same thing; he will not mind. Indeed, a distraction might prove beneficial. If you would step into the corridor and follow the lights, I believe he will welcome your company.”
“Very well. Thank you.”
Doing as he was instructed, Garten soon found himself entering a large, airy room, bigger than the cargo hold of his family’s ship. It was brightly lit, with strange machines and pieces of equipment scattered about, and ropes hanging from the ceiling. The man he sought was indeed there, hands wrapped in what appeared to be bandages, and hitting a heavy looking sack that hung from a chain. It was a very strange sight and Garten was understandably puzzled. He stood silently watching for several minutes before the ship spoke.
“Ianto, you have company.”
Mister Jones immediately ceased his assault on the hapless sack, stilled its swinging and turned to face his visitor.
“Garten, is everything alright?”
“Yes, thank you. May I ask; why were you hitting that sack?”
“Because I’m angry and I can’t hit the person I want to hit.”
“Oh. I apologise if I or my family have angered you.” Garten’s forehead creased with worry.
“What? Oh, no, it’s not you. I’m angry with the person who’s responsible for your situation.”
That just puzzled Garten even more. “My brother?”
Ianto shook his head. “Your brother may have been stubborn and misguided, but he was just trying to extend your trade routes. No, the one who left you stranded and penniless is the person who runs this space station like it’s his own little kingdom, and he’s doing it without the knowledge of this world’s ruler. Worse, he’s getting away with it by paying off anyone who might otherwise object. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to put an end to his reign of tyranny. I think better when I’m doing something else.”
“Such as hitting a sack?”
“Hey, don’t knock what you haven’t tried! It works wonders for relieving anger and frustration. You should have a go sometime, maybe when you’re rested. How are your family?”
“They are sleeping.”
“But I’m guessing you couldn’t because you’re still worried.”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“You and I, we’re not so different, Garten. I can never sleep when something’s bothering me either, no matter how tired I am. You take your responsibilities seriously; well so do I. Not everyone appreciates that. So, what is it that’s troubling you?”
“I confess, I don’t understand why you’re helping us.”
Ianto led the way to a nearby bench, sitting down and gesturing to the seat beside him. He waited until Garten was seated before speaking.
“I could simply say it’s because you’re human and so am I. There are few enough humans out here already, so why not stick together and help each other when we can? The information you can provide could be very valuable to me.”
“But when you followed me, you had no way of knowing that I may have useful information.”
“No, I didn’t.” Ianto smiled slightly; Garten was very perceptive, it was only fair that he knew the truth, or some of it at least. Maybe it would set his mind at rest. “Garten, I’m not just human, I’m from earth. I lived in a city called Cardiff, in Wales, a small corner of the United Kingdom. What most people didn’t know was that Cardiff was right on top of a Rift through time and space.”
“I have heard of these Rifts. They exist in various places throughout the universe. There are areas of space it is best to avoid because such Rifts are unpredictable; spaceships can get sucked in, never to be seen again.”
“Exactly; they’re a natural hazard. But Rifts go both ways. What goes in has to come out somewhere, often light years from where it entered, and not always intact. Objects and sometimes living beings came through Cardiff’s Rift at random. I worked for an organisation that collected whatever came through in order to protect the city, and the world, from the danger they posed.”
“You protected the people of earth from aliens?”
“Sometimes. Other times we protected the aliens from the people of earth. There were times when incursions were deliberate, other races trying to circumvent the Shadow Proclamation’s rules and regulations, intent on invasion or abduction. That’s probably what happened to your ancestors. Most of the time, what we got was technology, from the future and from other words, things that could change the course of history if they fell into the wrong hands; it was our job to prevent that. But intelligent beings, and sometimes animals, fell through too, and whenever possible, we tried to return them to where they belonged. If that wasn’t possible, we gave them whatever assistance we could to settle on earth. The point is, that’s been my purpose in life for a long time. The explosion I was caught up in closed the Rift, but it also created a space/time barrier that neither this ship nor I can pass. I can return to my home, but not to within five hundred years of my time. I can never see my family or friends again. I’m completely cut off from my sister, her children, everyone who ever meant anything to me.”
“I am sorry, I know how that feels.”
“Yes, I know you do. But even though I can’t go home myself, I can still help others, like you and your family, to return to their homes and loved ones. It may not sound like much of a compensation for what I‘ve lost, but it’s a way to stay true to everything I believed in and to continue the work I did back on earth. Helping others in need gives me a purpose, something useful to do, and it makes me feel less alone. That’s why I’m helping you; to hold on to what I can of my old life while I try to find my feet in my new one. I’d never left earth before; in the 21st century, space travel is in its infancy, humans have only made it as far as the moon and little progress has been made since. I’m better off in some ways than your ancestors were; I encountered a lot of alien races through my job. Some were friendly, some not so much, but at least I was prepared to some extent to deal with being out here. The rate I’m going, by the time I catch up to Jack, I’ll be an old hand at the spacefaring way of life.”
“Jack. That is the friend you’re seeking?”
“Yes. He’s out here somewhere and I need to find him, because he thinks I died and if I know anything about him, he’s blaming himself. Aliens came to earth, demanding ten percent or the world’s children. The government decided to give in to their demands and tried to kill us to prevent us from interfering. Because of that, we didn’t have the time we needed to come up with another way of eliminating the threat and Jack was forced to do the unthinkable, sacrifice one child to save millions. The only child available was his own grandson; I can’t imagine what it must have cost him to make that decision, but he was sworn to protect the people of earth, and that included the children. There was no other way. He’s a good man, but doing his job cost him everything. He lost his grandson and his lover in the space of a day, and his daughter will never forgive him. But none of it was his fault; the people in power went behind the queen’s back and…” All the air went out of Ianto as an idea hit him. The answer was so obvious he could have kicked himself. “That’s it! TARDIS, you’re intercepting radio transmissions from the space station and the planet below, right?”
“That is correct, Ianto.”
“Well, why don’t we just do what we did for Lizzie? Collect the information on all the dirty dealings and transmit it to the ruler of the planet, tell her everything her advisors have been concealing from her so she can clean house. They wouldn’t be hiding what they’re up to if they thought she would approve. The right information in the right hands can make all the difference.”
“I believe that might work. I shall begin immediately. I should have all the required information within twenty-four earth hours.”
“Excellent!” Ianto stretched luxuriously, easing the kinks out of his muscles. “Well then, now we’ve decided on a course of action, I think I’ll get some sleep.” He turned to Garten. “You should try to sleep too. Once the TARDIS and I have done what we can to sort out the situation here, we’ll see about getting you and your family back to the world you call home.”
“Thank you, Mister Jones.”
“It’s Ianto, Garten. Come on, I’ll walk with you back to your suite. My rooms are down the same corridor. Tomorrow, I think we should all spend some time in the gardens; the fresh air will do Surilla good, and I’m sure Henty will appreciate having room to run and play. I want to introduce you all to my other guests anyway…”
Walking side by side, they left the gym, chatting companionably.
Five days hadn’t been much time for Jack to get himself in shape. He’d done the best he could with the time available, spending every waking moment either working out or eating and the rest of the time sleeping, but none of it had much visible effect. Press-ups, chin-ups, jogging on the spot, skipping with a borrowed length of rope, and shadow-boxing, since he didn’t have access to a punching bag or other gym equipment, at least worked the last traces of alcohol out of his system. Thanks to his rapid healing he didn’t suffer any after-effects, but even so, he was still looking thin and pale when he left the Fiori Winnik, clutching the papers Lukek had given him, a heavy bag carrying all his belongings slung over one shoulder.
Paramian was the largest port in that sector of space, which made it ideal for his purposes; ships from all over the sector as well as from further afield passed through regularly, and someone was always hiring. Not that Jack needed the money; if he’d wanted to he could have bought his own ship, but that kind of extravagance felt wrong to him. He didn’t feel he deserved the kind of freedom his own spacecraft would provide.
Still, he couldn’t carry that kind of wealth around with him; that would just be asking for trouble. Plus, he had some very precious personal items in his bag which he didn’t want to subject to the non-existent security that was common in the crew quarters of most ships. Aside from the bustling port facilities, Paramian was also home to several very esteemed financial institutions with secure facilities for storing valuables, so Jack made straight for the most highly regarded of them all. Storing his valuables there might be more expensive than one of the smaller banks, but they were irreplaceable; Jack had no intention of entrusting them to anyone but the best in the business, and anyway, it wasn’t as if he couldn’t afford it.
Once he had accounts set up to pay the price of storage in his absence, Jack was led to a small personal vault, where his fingerprints, retina scans, voiceprint, and full genetic code were logged, along with his chosen passwords. Only he would ever be able to gain access. Alone inside the rented vault, Jack unpacked his bag and placed his valuables inside the secure safety deposit box set in the wall.
Most of his remaining money and the gold and precious gems he’d bought back on earth when liquidating his assets went in first, followed by his favourite suit of Ianto’s, several ties, the stopwatch, and cufflinks that Ianto had bought for him and which had been at Ianto’s flat when the Hub blew up. Other personal items he’d kept at Ianto’s followed, including the box of photographs that had once been in his desk drawer at the Hub. There were more pictures in it now than there used to be; pictures of his team, photos of himself with Ianto, some of Alice and Steven, all the people who had meant so much to him. He had Ianto’s photo albums too, along with his laptop and diaries. Jack knew he probably should have left them for Rhiannon, but as Ianto’s only living family, she would have everything else and Jack just needed something of the man he’d loved so deeply, even though he’d never told Ianto how he felt until it was too late. At least he’d got a chance to remedy that right at the end; it was more than Jack felt he’d deserved, but what mattered was that Ianto had died knowing he was more than just a blip in time and that his feelings for Jack were returned. It hadn’t made losing Ianto any easier, but that was okay because it had allowed for a kind of closure for both of them, a last chance to say everything they needed to, and a proper farewell.
Jack pulled himself out of his reverie and wiped away his tears. Ianto was gone, but he would be remembered for eternity; Jack owed him that. Once a year, he would return to this vault and remember his Welshman; after all, he had a promise to keep.
Leaving his vortex manipulator in the wall safe was an almost unbearable wrench. Jack had downloaded as much CCTV footage from Torchwood’s server as he could and over the months he’d been travelling aboard the Winnik, he’d watched countless hours of it, as well as listening to recorded snippets of conversation taken from the bluetooth backup files that were automatically saved on the server. That had been Tosh’s idea, just in case they needed to check messages at a later date while compiling incident reports. Hearing Ianto’s voice brought back so many memories; listening to the audio clips had been both agonising and comforting.
The final item Jack placed in the safe, covering everything else, was the coat. Not the original, but the replacement Ianto had found for him in a military surplus store in London, just a day before he died. Ianto had loved the coat almost as much as he’d loved Jack; he’d been as devastated at its loss in the explosion that destroyed the Hub as Jack had been. The one night they’d had together before confronting the 456 had been spent together beneath this replacement, which Ianto had dubbed Son of Coat, the sequel. Remembering that brought a smile to Jack’s lips and more tears to his eyes. Giving the coat one final pat, he carefully closed the safe and punched in his personal code to activate the stasis field that would keep his valuables in pristine condition for as long as they remained there. Then, hefting his now much lighter bag over his shoulder, Jack left the bank to return to the spaceport and the recruitment offices, where he hoped he’d find employment on one of the many freighters currently in dock. He’d allowed himself time to mourn his losses; now this was where his redemption would begin.