Title: Through Time And Space: Chapter 17.1 – In The Midnight Hour Part 1
Characters: Ianto, OCs.
Word Count: 2254
Spoilers: CoE, House of the Dead
Summary: Plans for insurrection are finalised and the space station’s corrupt manager is removed from office.
Written For: Challenge #120: Midnight at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Returning to the suite of rooms where his family rested in comfort, Garten found Jessa lying wakeful in the huge bed.
“Where have you been? I was growing worried, I thought…” She shook her head. “I don’t know what I thought.”
“I’m sorry, my love, sleep would not come so I went to talk with Ianto.”
“In the middle of the night?”
“He too was unable to sleep. He is an interesting man, Jessa, and one I now believe we can trust. The things he told me… Well, it is not my place to tell the secrets he confided in me, but be assured, he is honourable and will keep his word to help us. Through this amazing vessel, he has learned that the brigands who attacked our ship were despatched by the manager of this space station. Ianto and his ship intend to take action against him, and I will help him, if he will allow it. I do not entirely understand what he plans but I believe it will make quite an impact on a lot of people.” Garten was filled with grim satisfaction at the prospect of seeing the man who had caused them such grief get his comeuppance.
Jessa smiled as her husband sat down on the edge of the bed. “It is good to see you free of worry and looking to the future with hope. I confess I too should like to be a part of whatever action is taken against this evil man. I would rest easier knowing that what was done to us will not befall anyone else.”
“Then we will discuss matters with Ianto in the morning. For now, I think I shall check on Surilla then get some rest; tomorrow looks set to be very busy. I can scarcely remember what it is like to be able to sleep without keeping one eye open in case of danger; it will make a welcome change.” He kissed his wife briefly. “Sleep; I will be back soon.”
Garten found his daughter fast asleep with a smile on her face, clearly having happy dreams for the first time since they arrived aboard the space station. Henty, lying beside the girl on the bed, opened her eyes and rumbled softly. The Quoat looked relaxed and untroubled, no longer wary and unsettled, as she’d been throughout the long days and nights in the tumbledown shack that had been their refuge of late.
If he’d needed any more convincing that he and his family had nothing to fear on board this strange ship, the animal’s behaviour would have provided it. Quoats were excellent guardians, fiercely protective, intuitive, and alert to the slightest danger. If Garten himself hadn’t been so on edge when Ianto had stepped into their hovel, he might have paid more attention to Henty’s lack of reaction. She had sensed no malice in the man, else she would have screeched a warning before attacking.
Closing the door behind him, Garten returned to the bedchamber he shared with his wife, disrobed and slipped into bed beside her. The bedcovers felt cool and soft, an unexpected luxury after nights spent lying on hard, cold, plasteel floors, and in minutes, he was asleep.
A few doors down, Ianto, having showered and changed into his pyjamas, was still unable to sleep, because now, rather unhelpfully, he was hungry. Typical. Being immortal apparently gave a man a huge appetite; he found he was starting to understand Jack’s eating habits a lot better.
A midnight snack seemed to be in order, and with that in mind, he made his way quietly to the kitchen, bare feet padding softly along the carpeted passageway. The TARDIS had turned her lights down to night mode, a soft, diffuse illumination with no obvious source giving just enough light for human eyes to navigate by. Anywhere else, it might have seemed eerie, but with the TARDIS a comforting presence in the back of his mind the dimness was soothing to his tired eyes.
The kitchen was in darkness as he entered, but as he moved towards the refrigerator the ceiling began to glow gently. It didn’t take Ianto long to fix himself a mug of hot cocoa and a bowl of cereal. He put both on a tray, along with a spoon and a packet of biscuits, then returned to his room to enjoy his very late supper. Seated in a wing-backed armchair, he relaxed and read while he ate, soft music playing quietly in the background. Pausing in his reading, he smiled in satisfaction; Maynaud Pax would soon be getting a very unpleasant surprise.
Morning found everyone gathering in the TARDIS’s garden, the small family as awed by the impossibility of having the outdoors somehow inside a space ship as the Tallans had been some months previously. Once the introductions had been made and breakfast had been eaten, Surilla, Henty and the youngest Tallans, Jatso and Kellik, went off to play and explore while everyone else sat in the shade of a small copse of trees, watching the resident birds and talking. Disappointingly, Garten and his family had never seen or heard of a planet that could be the Tallans’ homeworld. That wasn’t entirely bad news though, as it ruled out a fairly large sector of space, meaning Ianto and the TARDIS could concentrate their search elsewhere.
Inevitably, the conversation at last turned to Maynaud Pax and what was to be done about him. Ianto explained what he’d learned from the TARDIS’s eavesdropping on radio communications.
“Pax has grown very wealthy indeed off the misfortunes and suffering of others. When this system’s ruler died a few years ago and was succeeded by her daughter, Pax took advantage of the fact that the new Empress was still a child and made a deal with her advisors to run things their way and line their own pockets by giving their young monarch false information about everything involved with the space station.
Empress Yvraine has never been offworld; she’s protected by a cadre of very loyal soldiers, the elite of the planet’s military, who take orders only from the Empress and are reputed to be incorruptible. They’re also in ultimate charge of the rest of the planet’s defence force. Yvraine’s advisors, and I use that term very loosely, have no influence over the military; they’re politicians, landowners and academics. Once their treachery is revealed, they shouldn’t be particularly difficult to arrest and lock up. Pax and his cronies up here are a different matter. There’s no military presence on the station, only the station’s security personnel who are all in Pax’s employ and do as they’re ordered. Anyone who tries to stand up to him disappears pretty quickly. That means soldiers will have to be despatched from the planet below to take charge up here, and if they try, Pax won’t hesitate to open fire on any ships leaving the planet’s surface. That will have to be prevented, we need to avoid a space battle at all costs; there are a lot of civilian ships docked at the station and others coming in and out of the system all the time. I won’t put innocent lives at risk if it can be avoided.”
“The space station’s defences are automated. Under ordinary circumstances, they would not be able to fire upon the ships of the Fleet, but there exists a manual override that can be used in emergencies; it is this system that must be disabled. There are two points of access to the manual controls; the main station security headquarters, and an auxiliary control room situated in Pax’s suite, which only Pax himself has access to,” the TARDIS informed them. “Station security have grown fat and lazy since no one dares to defy Pax for fear of lethal retaliation. They will not expect to be attacked, especially not in their own headquarters. However, there are fifty security officers on the payroll and they all have their quarters within the security complex. A small army would be needed in order to take control.”
“Well, it just so happens that I know a few people who are very proficient with weapons and I believe they’d be more than happy to help upset the status quo, since Pax is demanding they give him ever-higher percentages of their profits. This station is in a good central location; the black marketeers want to keep trading here but they’re not happy with what they’re being compelled to pay for the privilege. Pax has become too greedy. If there’s a realistic hope of taking him and his cronies down, they’ll jump at the chance. The only reason they haven’t tried is because they have no way to get inside Pax’s stronghold, and if they can’t take him down, everything else is futile. Pax’s suite is like a bunker; try to get through the doors without the proper authorization codes, which are known only to Pax, and you get fried. There’s no way through the walls either, short of blowing the entire station apart, and even then there’s no guarantee. Which is where the TARDIS comes in.”
“I can simply materialise inside Pax’s defences, within the auxiliary control room. Garten, if I show you what you will need to do, will you and Jessa be able to manually operate the defence grid and use it to disable Pax’s pirate fleet while Ianto apprehends Pax himself? The weapons systems appear to be similar to those aboard your family’s ship. I took the liberty of researching, based on the design and schematics of your escape pod.”
“We will be glad to do whatever we can to help,” Jessa assured the TARDIS.
“Three are better than two,” Izelle added. “I may not be as young as I used to be, but I still know how to operate standard weaponry. If the brigands who attacked our ship hadn’t disabled our weapons the moment they came out of the void, we would have given them a fight they would not soon have forgotten. Peaceful traders we may be, but we are all taught at an early age how to fight to keep what is ours.”
Ianto nodded. “Excellent, looks like we have a plan! We’ll want as many as possible taken alive, so target engines and weapons systems; wherever possible, aim to cripple them without making them explode. We don’t have the authority to execute them; they should be tried and punished for their crimes under planetary law, otherwise we’re no better than they are.
For Garten, Jessa and Izelle, the rest of the morning was taken up with instruction on how to initiate manual override of the station’s weapons systems and operate them. However, for their plan to work, the primary weapons control and defence systems in the security headquarters would first have to be taken offline and the security personnel contained to prevent them from interfering. To that end, after lunch Ianto transformed himself into Des Llewellyn, freelance smuggler and personal security specialist, and headed to the black market’s current location to enlist the assistance of some of his shadier acquaintances.
Informing them that a friend of his was preparing a strike against Pax that would end his stranglehold on trade in the sector once and for all, he had no trouble at all in recruiting more than thirty very willing participants for the attack on security HQ. To an outsider, it wouldn’t have looked like anything was going on beyond business as usual. There were no large gatherings; the news was spread by word of mouth, and the plan discussed between traders and their clients as they made deals, or between people apparently just passing the time of day. There were no detectable changes in anyone’s behaviour, these people made their living by keeping their activities on the down low, but Ianto had no doubt that when the time came, they’d all know exactly where to be and what to do down to the last detail. Every one of them was a professional and a specialist in his or her own field. Strange to say, considering they were criminals, but Ianto trusted them.
“What about you, Des?” asked an alien who went by the name of Burl Three-toes. Ianto had worked for him on a couple of occasions and considered him more or less a friend. He traded in stolen goods, generally working as a middleman these days, employing younger people to do the actual stealing, though he still kept his hand in occasionally.
“My job is to take out Pax himself,” Ianto replied with a smirk. “He’ll never see it coming.”
“Wish I could be there ta see it,” Burl grinned, displaying an impressive set of razor-sharp teeth. “Don’t be too gentle with ‘im, will ya? I’m sure he don’t need all his parts to stand trial.”
“Depends on whether or not he puts up a fight. I don’t plan on exerting myself more than I have to.” Ianto feigned boredom. “He’s just not worth the effort.”
Chuckling, Burl gave Ianto’s shoulder a shove that would’ve probably knocked him over if he hadn’t been expecting it. “You’re a one, you are! Just give ‘im one fer me if he resists. And stop by before ya leave, I picked up a little somethin’ I think ya might like.”
“No promises, but I’ll try.”
“That’s all a fella can ask.”
They went their separate ways without a word of farewell, drifting off to catch up with others and spread the word further.