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Myfanwy 2

November 2017

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Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Seven

Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Seven
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy
Warnings: Language, Violence
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E4, "Meat" and the radio play, "Lost Souls"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note:  This is the Dragon-Verse version of the radio play, "Lost Souls".  I decided to use the real-world dating for the activation of the LHC instead of what the radio play inferred, and that put this right in the middle of Series Two.  It actually makes a really good segue into "Adam", which you'll see later. 


SummaryAfter a call from Martha Jones at CERN, Jack sends Ianto, Toshiko, and Patrick in to investigate.  Can they discover the secret of the Collider before it's too late?




10 September 2008

The moment Toshiko opened the doors to the Collider’s control room, she knew it was going to take far more convincing on her part to get Professor Johnson to stop the activation.

For one thing, the professor was firmly in her element, espousing the scientific benefits of the Large Hadron Collider. Toshiko recognised that fervent tone as she described what scientific discoveries they hoped to learn once the Collider was up and running. There was a flush on her cheeks, and the smile that painted her face was all-too pleased and excited as she spoke to the gathered crowd of dignitaries that were hung on her every word despite what their personal feelings toward the actual ceremony were, they were so caught up in her rhetoric.

And that was the second thing…the audience. She knew immediately that requesting the halt of the activation would go over badly, simply because Johnson wouldn’t want to look bad in front of these people, who were witnesses to her triumph. She wouldn’t want to even entertain the notion of failure. Johnson’s one goal was to make the Large Hadron Collider a reality, and there was no way she would be convinced just on Toshiko’s word alone. Johnson didn’t know her; only Toshiko’s work was familiar, and only because of that one monograph that had had Tony Stark in an uproar of righteous indignation and, once that had died down, a single-minded need to hire her. And, if Toshiko was honest with herself, if the terrorists hadn’t kidnapped her mother and forced her to steal that sonic device, chances were she’d have accepted.

Yes, the UNIT holding facility had been horrible, but in the end she’d met Jack and Ianto and she just couldn’t see herself being anywhere else but Torchwood.

And, as Torchwood, she had a job to do; one that Ianto had trusted her to do.

Taking one more look at the dignitaries that were following Professor Johnson’s speech, Toshiko took a deep breath and cleared her throat. “If I may have your attention please!” she called out over Johnson’s words.

That gained her the attention of everyone in the control room.

Professor Johnson was frowning at the interruption. “Doctor Sato-Jones?” she asked, shock layering her voice. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Toshiko took a deep breath, preparing herself for the fight she knew was coming. “There’s something wrong with the Collider, and it needs to be shut down before anyone else gets hurt.”

“We’ve checked and double-checked before today,” Johnson argued. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with my Collider!”

“Tell that to the missing twelve people who became ill after working inside the tunnel,” Toshiko said.

Johnson looked confused. “What twelve people? What the hell are you talking about?”

For someone who’d overseen the entire project from the beginning, Professor Johnson seemed to have completely failed when it came to what was going on behind the scenes…

“I think I can answer that, Professor.” Toshiko turned to watch Martha’s UNIT major step from the crowd. In the overhead lighting she could just make out the name on the badge on his uniform jacket: Webster.

Well, at least she now had a name to put to the face.

“One of my team, Dr Jones, believed that something was happening to people in the complex,” the Major went on. “I’m guessing that she’s told this lady…I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name?”

Toshiko narrowed her eyes at him. “Doctor Toshiko Sato,” she answered, not bothering to hide her anger. This man had treated Martha like an idiot, and she certainly wanted him to know there was no love lost between them.

Something flickered in Webster’s eyes, and for a second Toshiko wondered if he somehow recognised her name; but no, he couldn’t, because only the top brass – Colonel Mace among them – knew of her contract with Torchwood. “Well, I’m guessing that Dr Jones shared her outrageous theories with Dr Sato, and that she was convincing enough that the doctor here believed her.” His eyes met Toshiko’s, and she didn’t appreciate the smug gleam in them. “I can assure you, Dr Sato, that UNIT investigated Dr Jones’ allegations and found no proof to them at all.”

“And I can assure you,” Toshiko echoed, barely keeping a hold of the sarcasm that wanted to escape, “that Torchwood investigated and found all the evidence you’d need to prove that something really is going on around here, Major.” She couldn’t believe that UNIT had been so inept that they’d missed what it had taken her team only hours to discover.

Oh, now that got his attention. “Torchwood?” he demanded. “You’re way out of your jurisdiction, Doctor.”

“You’re more worried about jurisdiction than about twelve missing people?” Toshiko asked incredulously. “I would think you’d be more concerned about my proof than anything else. And besides, Martha wouldn’t have had to call us in if you’d only treated her like an adult with more off-world experience than your entire team combined than like a child who was only demanding attention.” She was becoming more and more angry, and a part of her really wished it was Ianto doing the confronting and not her; he was much better at hiding his temper than she was.

“Excuse me,” Professor Johnson butted in, looking both furious and confused at the same time. “Just what is Torchwood? And just why and what are you supposed to be investigating?”

Webster opened his mouth to answer, but there was no way Toshiko was going to let him get a word in. “Torchwood exists to protect the planet against alien threats,” she answered. “We were contacted by Martha Jones when a friend of hers who worked here became ill and vanished. There had been eleven others previously who’d gotten sick, but while the records say they’d been taken to a hospital in France, they never made it. They’d vanished. When Martha went to her superiors,” and then she glared at Webster, who didn’t seem at all bothered by it, “they dismissed her concerns. So she had no choice but to call us in.”

“I don’t know what you think you’ve found –“ Webster began.

“You mean besides the glowing man in the infirmary?”

That shut the major up.

“Glowing man?” Johnson asked. She didn’t seem to be panicking, which was a good thing, but she also didn’t seem to be believing it either.

Toshiko nodded. “One of the technicians was down in the Collider tunnel, and he was affected by something there. It’s somehow stolen the neutrons from his body and he’s…fading away. We don’t know if it’s something to do with the machinery or if something somehow came through during the injection test you ran last May…but you need to shut things down until we can fully investigate what’s going on. Two of my team are in the tunnels now, trying to see if they can find something –“

“But that’s incredibly dangerous,” Johnson exclaimed. “We’ve already begun the activation process. If they’re in there when we go fully online…”

“Which is another reason why you need to shut things down now,” Toshiko urged. “You’re all scientists here…you’re all searching for answers, which I have about this. And that answer is if you start that thing up all hell’s most likely going to break loose.”

Johnson chewed on her lip, and Toshiko could tell she was uncertain about the whole thing.

“Professor Johnson,” Major Webster said, stepping closer, “I don’t pretend that UNIT and Torchwood get along, but they do know what they’re doing. If Dr Sato says something’s wrong…I think you might want to believe her and shut things down for now.”

Toshiko had no idea what had changed the man’s mind, but she was grateful for the support. Something in her face must have communicated itself to him, because Webster shrugged. “I can’t argue if you do have proof.”

“Just go down to the infirmary and see for yourself…unless the person who’s behind getting rid of the other victims has managed to move him.” That was a danger, that Toshiko’s proof could possibly disappear on them, but it was something she had to risk.

“You think there’s someone on the project disappearing the ones affected?”

“Has to be.” She shrugged. “They couldn’t have walked off on their own.”

Webster made a gesture, and two UNIT soldiers stepped forward. “Go to the infirmary and lock it down,” he ordered. “I don’t want anyone else vanishing on my watch.”

The soldiers saluted, and left the control room. A few seconds later, there was a squawk from a radio, and another soldier passed a handset to Webster who listened to the confirmation that there was, indeed, a glowing man in the infirmary.

Toshiko felt like sagging from relief, but it wasn’t over yet. Professor Johnson still hadn’t made a move to shut the Collider down, and that was worrying her. Still, Toshiko couldn’t blame her; they were talking about her life’s work, and it couldn’t be easy admitting that there was possibly something wrong with the thing she’d put all her blood, sweat, and hope into.

She was going to try convincing Johnson once more when her comm squawked. The unexpected noise made her jump. “Yes?” she answered it, bringing the device up to her mouth.

“Toshiko,” Ianto’s voice sounded tinny from the small speaker. “I tried reaching Martha aboveground, and I think she’s found where the other victims might be but the signal was too broken up to confirm. I don’t think we took into consideration that one of us would be on the surface at some point.”

The technician cursed herself. She hadn’t counted on them being separated all that far, and the small comms units didn’t have that great a range, especially with all that concrete, steel, and earth above them.

In fact, Toshiko had been able to feel the ground around them from the moment they’d set foot in the complex. It was comforting in a way; warmth and safety and peace all rolled up into one thing that lay above them all like a living blanket. Being the Friend of Earth gave her certain senses of the planet around her, and she wondered if Ianto had been feeling the same way. It hadn’t occurred to her that what she’d experience as natural would have cut her off from Martha, who could be walking into danger and there wasn’t anything they could do about it.

“Patrick and I haven’t found anything yet,” Ianto went on. “But there’s something…I can’t put my finger on it. You remember what I said about the last victim?”

She did, and she understood just why Ianto wasn’t saying it over the comm. After all, he had to know she wasn’t alone and he wouldn’t want to give too much of his nature away. “I do,” thinking back about his comment regarding how Foiret had smelled.

“It’s here as well.” There was a pause. “I’ll call you back if we find anything.”

“That was the Ambassador,” Johnson accused.

“He’s actually our Second in Command,” Toshiko admitted, concerned at what Ianto had said. “Patrick and I are on his team.”

“Jones is here then?” Webster asked. “Harkness must have taken Dr Jones seriously if he sent his SIC along.”

“Ianto and Martha are friends,” Toshiko rebutted. “They went through that Year together.”

She had the pleasure of seeing Webster go slightly pale. So, he was high enough up the command chain to have access to the reports of the Master and the Toclafane…and yet he must not have paid too much attention since he hadn’t equated Martha Jones with the Nightingale of those reports.

Of course, that meant that Webster did, in fact, have enough clearance to know just who Toshiko was, which was worrying in a way. Not that UNIT could do anything to her, not while she was with Torchwood and was obeying the letter of her contract, but it was still worrisome.

“Look,” she said, “we need to get things shut down until we can figure out what’s going on. I’m certain everyone in this room wouldn’t want something dangerous happening when we could have avoided it.”

There were some rumblings from the crowd gathered in the control room, and Toshiko couldn’t tell if it was positive or negative. Her gaze went out over the scientists that had come together to watch the ground-breaking activation of the Collider, and she could see that most of them were confused by what was going on. She couldn’t blame them; Toshiko figured that about ninety-nine percent of them had no idea what Torchwood was, let alone what they did, and most of the conversation had to have been going over their collective heads.

Her eyes met those of Patrick’s friend, Clint Barton. He raised an eyebrow at her, as if trying to ask her something that Toshiko didn’t understand. His gaze was intense, and she found herself staring him down until she had to finally turn away but not before she watched him pull another man in a dark suit toward him and whisper something in his ear.

She made a mental note to ask Patrick about him. Toshiko knew that her friend trusted Agent Barton, but she didn’t know him and had no idea what he was trying to figure out about her. Well, she wished him luck, and then turned all her attention back to Professor Johnson and Major Webster. She didn’t have time to waste on it.

Toshiko knew she had the major convinced that something was wrong; now it was all up to Johnson, who genuinely seemed shocked that strange happenings were going on behind her back.

But then, she understood completely why the scientist might not have been noticed a thing. Toshiko herself could sometimes become so lost in the science that the world could have exploded and she not realise it.

The sound of the Collider itself was gaining in volume, and just when Toshiko was beginning to despair of Johnson cooperating at all the professor looked at her technicians and said, “Prepare for total lockdown of all systems. Take down all consoles and step away, and hopefully we can do a hard shutdown without too much damage.” She glanced at Toshiko as her people went to work. “Everything’s been pre-programmed,” she explained. “We can try to lock down the Collider but there’s no guarantee that’s going to completely turn everything off.”

Toshiko understood what Johnson was saying. There were certain safeguards built into any sort of machinery, and if the shutdown couldn’t be completely accomplished then things could get ugly. Of course the Collider had been nearly powered up; the Powers that Be would have wanted as flashy a show as possible, and there wasn’t anything flashier than the proverbial Big Green Button. Toshiko knew just how much any tech couldn’t just be turned on like that, and Johnson would have had things set up for the final activation.

She was tempted to contact Ianto on the comm, and have him and Patrick leave the tunnel, but she knew they still didn’t have any sort of idea what was going on down within the Collider. But, if some sort of portal had been opened during the injection test in May…

There could be a way to make sure.

“You have an anti-proton facility here, right?” she asked, her mind turning over the sudden theory in her head and not seeing much of a problem with it.

“We do,” Johnson confirmed. “We won the Nobel Prize for it back in the Eighties.”

Toshiko nodded; yes, she recalled reading about it. “We have no idea if this is an equipment issue or if there was a small rift opened last May that let something through. I don’t think we can take a chance here, and to be honest if this is alien then we should be considering a way to close that rift if it does exist.” She couldn’t think of any sort of equipment issue causing what she’d seen with Leon Foiret, and had been leaning toward an alien influence, so coming up with a plan to close something that might have opened up only made sense. “That facility is still active isn’t it?”

Johnson nodded. “We use it for making atoms of anti-matter…” She frowned, and Toshiko could see her making the calculations in her head.

And then, she smiled. “That’s rather brilliant. Can I hire you?”

Toshiko couldn’t help the smirk that turned her lips upward.

“What the hell are you two talking about?” Major Webster demanded.

“If I can flip one of the magnets to create protons instead of anti-protons,” Johnson explained even as she worked at her console, “the beams will cancel each other out.”

“And if there is a rift open within the Collider,” Toshiko finished, “it won’t be able to open again and whatever came through will be trapped here, where we can deal with it.”

“That’s assuming there’s an alien presence within the Collider,” Webster pointed out.

“There’s nothing within the machinery that would cause a person to lose their neutrons,” Johnson pointed out. “Everything’s been tested and retested under high-pressure conditions.”

“We have to assume then that there’s something alien within the tunnel,” Toshiko agreed. “And I think we also need to assume that there’s someone on this base who knows about it, and is actively trying to keep people from finding out.”

As if on cue, the doors flew open, and Toshiko’s eyes widened as she watched Dr Oliver Harrington enter, holding a gun on Martha, who was damp and looked furious.   “Stand away from the controls,” the UNIT doctor ordered, poking Martha in the back with the weapon. “I won’t hesitate to use this.”

“Doctor Harrington,” Webster barked, ‘what the hell are you doing?”

“You can’t shut the Collider down,” Harrington snapped. “I won’t let you do it.” He grabbed Martha by the arm, bringing the gun up to rest against her head. Martha looked disgusted by the whole thing.

Toshiko felt her anger flow through her. Martha was her friend, and she was furious that someone dared to use her as a bargaining chip. “Shooting Martha won’t help you,” she snarled. She could feel the Earth around her reacting to her temper, but there really wasn’t anything she could with that power, not at this time.

“It won’t matter,” Harrington answered. His eyes lit up with an almost holy-seeming fervour. “She’ll just come back. Don’t you understand?”

“Understand what, doctor?” Webster asked. He was holding his hand away from his gun, but Toshiko could tell he was ready to act immediately when the proper time came.

Toshiko felt a sudden shiver spill down her spine. Of course Harrington was behind the disappearances. With his clearances he would have had no trouble at all arranging to have the victims moved and hidden somewhere. He’d also be in the position to completely discredit Martha to her superiors, in an attempt to hide what he was doing.

She could see that Webster was thinking the same thing, and Toshiko was glad of it even if she hated the idea of Martha playing hostage to Harrington’s demands.

“My wife,” Harrington answered Webster, his voice going soft. “She came back to me, after the injector test in May. I heard her, down in the tunnel, and she told me that we’d opened a doorway to Heaven.”

“Excuse me?” Johnson exclaimed.

“No,” Toshiko denied, understanding immediately what was going on, “Doctor Harrington, it’s not Heaven. A portal to another dimension was obviously opened during that test, and a being came through. But it can’t be your wife –“

“You don’t know that!” Harrington practically screamed. “She spoke to me…she knew things that only Marie knew! And she told me, she told me that if I helped her, she’d bring everyone back to life! And it’s happening!”

“It’s not, Oliver,” Martha put in.

“Yes it is! Didn’t you see those people? They’re becoming Angels! That’s why I had to hide them; they’re too weak right now and I had to protect them. When the doorway is opened, then all the souls will be drawn out of Heaven and everyone will come back to life!”

“No!” Toshiko said, taking a step toward Harrington and Martha. Out of the corner of her eye, she would just see Webster doing the same thing. They needed to stop Harrington before things got too far out of control. “Those people…their neutrons are being stolen, not their souls. The dead don’t come back, Oliver. It’s impossible.”

“And that’s it?” Harrington was close to snapping; Toshiko could see it in his eyes and in his stance behind Martha. “You think there’s nothing after death?” He drew himself up. “You don’t have faith.”

Toshiko tuned out the argument going between Harrington and Martha, taking another step closer to the pair as they haggled about life and death. She spared a glance over at Professor Johnson, who was standing away from the control console, disbelief written across her face as she listened to the debate going on. She couldn’t help but feel sorry for Harrington; Toshiko knew what it was like to be controlled by an alien being, to have their emotions played upon and twisted for another’s ends.

There were enough soldiers and armed bodyguards in the room; why hadn’t someone done anything to stop Harrington? Toshiko glanced around the room one more time…and noticed that Barton and the man he’d been speaking with were gone.

Just in time for the door behind Harrington to slam open.

The doctor was startled by the noise, swinging himself around and pulling Martha with him. The man that practically threw himself at Harrington ended up taking both doctors down, but Martha got clear and rolled away as the agent twisted Harrington face-first into the cold tile of the floor and not being very careful with the affected man at all. He kicked the now loose gun away.

The agent – slightly stocky, bald, and wearing glasses – held onto the struggling Harrington with one hand while the other dug around under his ubiquitous black suit and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. As he snapped them in place, he said, “Don’t you think you should be shutting that thing down?” He sounded mild, as if he was simply commenting on the weather.

“NO!” Harrington screamed. “You can’t!” He tried to buck the agent off, but his captor only looked bored.

Johnson made her way back to the control console, but not before Toshiko’s comm made its presence known once more.

She didn’t even get a chance to answer before Ianto’s voice was echoing from the tiny speaker. “Something’s down here,” her friend gasped. “It’s after Patrick. I’m heading to him, but you need to get the Collider –“

The comm cut off.


Chapter Eight


Comments

Wait, I'm supposed to be able to sleep now?! That'll teach me to read your stories before bedtime ... LOL

I've actually only listened to the play once and that was just after it was aired, so I don't remember all the details, which makes this even better :-)

Great update!
aaaaaargh! A cliff hanger!
Noooooo!

Great update! :)


Ooooh very exciting! I love that within certain communities Martha, Ianto and everyone involved with the Year are somewhat mythic figures. :) I suppose Ianto is used to being mythic. :)
Oh no - not a cliff hanger! Great update
Ugggghhhh!!!! **shakes fist** "Moooffaaaattt!!!!!!"

Edited at 2014-11-09 05:10 am (UTC)
Eeep, evil cliffie!

Did SHIELD just save the day there? Awesome! :D
NNNGGHHHHH, noes!!! Don't stop here.....
Tell me that was Phil Coulson who saved Martha? I really like him. Will some of these stories interact with the Avengers? Will they find out about Ianto? I'd love to see Tony's reaction to a real live dragon.
Tosh would like Ianto in its place because it is weighted. But she has the knowledge and is all the more convincing that she knows whereof she speaks.
She is masterful.