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Myfanwy 2

December 2017

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Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Eight

Ghosts of the Collider - Chapter Eight
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

“This is no job for the Ambassador of Wales,” Ianto said primly, his hands on his hips as he surveyed the Collider tunnel.

The only light entering the tunnel was from the open hatch, illuminating the smooth concrete arching overhead, tall enough that Ianto could walk upright and wide so that he and Patrick could be side by side and not get in each other’s way. It wasn’t large enough for him to transform in case of danger, and that bothered him more than he cared to admit. He would not be able to call upon his greatest weapon, his flame; nor could he rely on his strength and his scales for protection, of himself and his teammate.

It couldn’t be helped.

The air was cold and still, nothing circulating it and it tasted stale on Ianto’s tongue. There was nothing living in this man-made cave; nothing to break the unnatural atmosphere that felt flat against his exposed skin.

And yet, a tingle sparked across the dragon’s senses, setting his nerves to jumping just under his skin. Ianto had entered the Collider tunnel thinking that he’d be able to feel any sort of Rift that might have been opened; so far, he’d never been wrong where space/time rifts were concerned. But this…this was different, and not in a good way. The wrongness of it crawled down his spine to settle unpleasantly in his stomach, and Ianto almost immediately felt the need to shower.

The smell, as well…it was markedly stronger down in the tunnel than it had been on Leon Foiret’s body; cloying and faintly sickening, like days’ old vomit mixed with what reminded Ianto of oversweet perfume. He began breathing through his mouth in an attempt to dispel the odour from his sensitive nostrils.

“You okay?” Patrick asked softly, as if he, himself, was also affected by the stillness of the tunnel.

Ianto chose not to answer. “Let’s get started. You head that way,” he pointed to the right, “and I’ll take the other direction. If you find anything, call me immediately. Don’t try to engage whatever it is by yourself.”

“Sure thing, boss,” the American agreed. “Let’s just hope it doesn’t want to engage us.”

That went without saying.

“We taking the bikes?” Patrick asked.

The bicycles were parked just outside the hatch. They’d been mentioned in the information packet that they’d received as a way for the technicians to get through the miles’ long tunnel faster. They were equipped with lights to cut through the darkness, as well as packs attached to the handlebars and rear baggage racks for the various tools the techs needed in order to work on the Collider.

“We ride,” Ianto answered, “and we’ll meet up at the other end.”

“Nice bit of exercise.”

The dragon turned to look at Patrick. “Be careful, yeah?”

“You bet.”

**********

Ianto had forewent the bicycle’s light, instead changing his eyes into their dragon aspect and relying on his better than human eyesight. The interior of the tunnel showed to his eyes as shades of grey, and perfectly clear to his vision. He could make out nothing; only perfectly rounded walls and ceiling that passed by him as he pedalled along.

The air around him grew chillier and far thicker, until it got to the point that it was becoming hard to breathe it. Ianto wondered if Patrick was having the same problem, and had just decided to check up on his teammate when his comm squawked, making him jump and nearly crash his bike. “Yes?” he answered, getting the bicycle back under control

“My bike has a bell.” The sound of ringing came through the comm quite clearly.

“I’m happy for you,” Ianto answered dryly. “Do you see anything?”

“No, nothing. It’s getting colder though.”

Ianto had to agree with that. “And that smell…it’s stronger.”

“Maybe it’s me being melodramatic,” Patrick said, “but this damned tunnel is creepy in ways a tunnel shouldn’t be.”

Ianto had to agree with that, as well. “I’m going to call Martha and see if she’s found anything.” He used touch to switch the comm over to the one Martha had. “Martha,” he said.

He was greeted by static.

The dragon frowned. He stopped his bike in order to play with the comm’s settings. “Martha, can you hear me?”

The static faded just a little, enough for Ianto to hear, “…can hear…barely…”

This is something they hadn’t considered…that they’d be separated like this, part of the team still in the complex and a part on the surface. For the same reason their mobiles wouldn’t work, the comms that Toshiko had programmed especially for use in CERN would not function with all the ground and manmade materials between them.

“How’s it going?” he replied, hoping she would be able to get some of his message.

“…raining...” he heard her say.

“It’s cold and raining…we could have stayed in Cardiff,” the dragon joked, unable to help himself.

There was a pause, and then, “…didn’t…”

Ianto figured as much.

And then, “”…found it…”

‘Be careful,” he cautioned, worried for his friend. With the comms not working properly, Martha was basically cut off from the rest of the team. Anything could happen, and Ianto cursed himself silently even though there hadn’t really been any other decision he could have made but to send Martha out on her own. Toshiko had been needed to try to talk Professor Johnson into shutting things down, while both he and Patrick were the only choices to search the tunnel; two were needed for the distances involved.

But then, Martha could take care of herself. She’d proved that, and more. Ianto had to trust her to be able to handle whatever happened, although he still couldn’t help but be worried for his friend.

There was nothing for it. He and Patrick were in the tunnels, while Toshiko was in the control room. There would be no way for any of them to get to Martha if something occurred out on the surface. Hopefully nothing would, and she would be able to locate the other people affected by whatever was down in this tunnel.

Ianto sighed. He raised the comm once more, making the change to Toshiko’s matching one. The least he could do was check in with her.

From the sound of her voice, something had startled her…quite possibly the sound of the comm activating; it was quite irritating. “Yes?”

Ianto couldn’t help but grin. It felt like payback for his near-accident on the bike when Patrick had contacted him. “Toshiko, 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.”

He very carefully used ‘we’, since it would only make Toshiko feel guiltier than she would already when she realised what was a basic flaw in the comms she’d set up. It wasn’t anyone’s fault; it was just something they hadn’t thought of when coming up with the idea of the comms.

Toshiko was silent, so Ianto continued, “Patrick and I haven’t found anything yet. But there’s something…I can’t put my finger on it.” He pursed his lips, knowing that she wouldn’t be alone and if he said much more he’d be in real danger of giving himself away. “You remember what I said about the last victim?” It was the largest hint he dared give, knowing that his friend would understand it.

There was another pause, and then Toshiko answered, “I do.”

The dragon grinned. His Toshiko was far too clever. “It’s here as well,” he told her. “I’ll call you back if we find anything.”

He flipped his comm back to Patrick’s frequency. “How are you doing?”

“Freezing my ass off,” came the snarky reply. “You get Martha?”

“Barely. Her being up on the surface means our comms don’t work.”

“Damnit. Yeah, we should have thought of that. Tosh’s gonna be mad at herself, isn’t she?”

“Of course she is.”

“Then we’ll just have to take her out and get her drunk when we get home.”

Ianto laughed. “I’m quite certain Kathy would have something to say about that.”

Patrick’s own laughter sounded slightly distorted from the comm’s tiny speaker.

He got back on his bike, pushing off and heading back down the tunnel, putting himself back on task. It wasn’t long before his nose was tickling, and he rubbed it to keep from sneezing. He knew there couldn’t be any dust down there, since anything in the tunnel that wasn’t part of the experiment they’d built it for would taint their results, so Ianto figured out that the strange smell was beginning to somehow affect him. Breathing through his mouth didn’t seem to help, either.

The air seemed to become heavier, making his forward progress harder as if he were trying to push through treacle. Ianto stopped, climbed off the bike and left it there, moving along by foot. It didn’t make it any easier, but at the same time he felt just a bit more in control of his movements. He could sense the Earth around him, and he tried to take comfort in that, but for some reason the very atmosphere of the tunnel stole that away from him.

It was really difficult to fight the sudden urge to leave; to run out of the tunnel and leave things alone. However, he couldn’t do that, not with the possible fates of thirteen innocents in the balance. And, whatever it was that caused those poor people to lose their bodily cohesion would most likely not stop what it was doing. If the Collider started up, and it got worse…no, the dragon didn’t dare run away from this. This was part of his duty, and he would not shirk it.

His comm sounded, and Ianto answered, ignoring the fact that his hand seemed to be shaking.

“Ianto?” Patrick’s voice echoed through the empty tunnel. Ianto frowned; he’d never heard the American sound so tentative. “I think…there’s…I can hear her…”

Without even realising he did it, the dragon reversed direction and began running back down the tunnel.   “Patrick, what’s wrong?” he asked sharply, the sudden fear making his heart pound in his chest.

“It’s my grandmother,” his teammate answered. “But I’ve never met her…she’s speaking to me, telling me she’s dead…”

Of course, Ianto knew about Patrick’s mysterious grandmother. She’d disappeared before Patrick’s father had been born, only coming back into the elder Delaware’s life three years later, bringing the man’s son to be raised by Canton and his lover, Patrick Andrews. She’d vanished once more, and only the vaguest of rumours surrounded her. Ianto didn’t even know her name.

“That’s not your grandmother,” Ianto insisted, running faster. Whatever this was, it was playing on Patrick’s emotions concerning his long-gone grandmother, and Ianto had to get him out of the tunnel fast. “You have to fight it.”

Nothing came from the comm, and hurriedly Ianto switched to Toshiko’s channel, not wanting to risk missing anything Patrick would say, but at the same time needing to warn her. He had no idea how she was getting on with having the Collider shut down, in fact she could have already succeeded, but the danger was still there.

“Something’s down here,” he said before even getting a confirmation that she was listening, beginning to breathe a bit heavily from his mad dash toward Patrick’s location. “It’s after Patrick. I’m heading to him, but you need to get the Collider –“

“Iohannes…”

The voice made Ianto stop in his tracks so fast his shoes skidded on the smooth concrete of the tunnel, his hand loosening enough that it lost the grip on the comm and it clattered to the ground. He swore his heart stopped for a moment; no one had called him by that name in a very long time.

“Who are you?” he demanded, forcing his feet to move once more. He needed to get to Patrick, to help his teammate…

“Ieuan…” The voice – or maybe it was a second one? – called out again, and it was all the dragon could do not to stop once more. It was another name from the far past, one he hadn’t gone by for…

“We will always be with you,” the female voice murmured, so close to his ear that Ianto could have sworn he’d felt his hair move with the unseen breath. “Come to us, beloved. You belong with us.”

Never had Ianto been this afraid; not even when…oh Gods and Goddesses, this couldn’t be happening!

“I’m not listening to you!” he cried out. “You’re dead! You’ve been dead for centuries!”

The voices – there were three of them, each different, and he knew them like he knew his own heart – surrounded him, whispering to him in confidential tones that spoke of familiarity and of the coldness of death. “Come to us, Ianto…we’re ever so lonely…ever so hungry…”

He couldn’t listen. He didn’t dare. These voices claimed to be his family, but the dead didn’t come back like that. The still air was heavy with dread, and Ianto’s footsteps faltered as he tried to ignore them.

This was what they’d been searching for. Ianto felt it in his bones that these voices were behind what had happened to the poor victims that had disappeared. They hounded him, trying to convince him that they were special, that they were the three people in the world that he would always want back…

“My son,” it sounded so much like his mother Ianto wanted to weep. “We love you; you belong with us…”

“No!” he shouted. “You aren’t my family! They’re dead and gone!”

The dragon increased his speed. This was what had to be happening to Patrick as well, and he needed to get to his friend before something worse happened. Ianto tried to force the voices away, but they simply whispered louder, trying to drown out his own assurance that his family weren’t speaking to him at all, that it was some sort of hideous creature using his heart against him.

“We are here…”

“Come to us…”

“Listen to our voices…”

“I’m not listening!” Ianto shouted vehemently.

He did listen, however, when a sharp cry reverberated down the tunnel. Putting on a final burst of speed, Ianto sprinted down and into the dark, the voices following him inexorably, trying to ignore them and concentrate on Patrick instead.

By the time he reached his teammate, Ianto’s heart was thumping and his lungs were wheezing as he slammed down next to the collapsed Patrick, who was kneeling on the concrete, his hands over his ears, shaking his head and muttering, “No,” over and over, as if the word could keep the voices out.

“Come to us…”

“Bugger off!” Ianto snarled, putting both hands on Patrick’s shoulders and shaking his friend roughly. “Patrick! Don’t listen! They aren’t real!”

“We are real…”

“Grandma…?”

“No, it’s Ianto. Come on, we need to get out of here.” He looped his arm around Patrick’s waist and hoisted him bodily onto his feet. The American leaned heavily on him, hands still over his ears, moaning as if his soul was being sucked from his body.

Which could have been the case, really.

“There’s so much death in his short life…”

Ianto wanted to ask what that meant, but he was too busy half-carrying, half-dragging Patrick back up the Collider tunnel toward the hatch leading to the outside. Patrick was shivering as if he was freezing with a bone-deep cold, and if Ianto wasn’t mistaken…there was a faint glow about him, which scared him more than any disembodied voice ever could.

“I want to be with them,” he heard Patrick say, his struggles to get out of Ianto’s embrace far too weak to accomplish anything.

“Not bloody likely,” Ianto growled, tightening his grasp.

Their progress was painfully slow. Ianto wanted to contact Toshiko and find out about the process in getting the Collider shut down, but he needed both arms to support Patrick as they shambled along the tunnel.

“Is Patrick an angel yet?”

“We’re coming for you next, Iohannes…Ieuan…Ianto…”

“Not listening!” Ianto’s shout had a desperate edge to it. Patrick was getting weaker and weaker, and it was taking all of his remaining strength – and Ianto was quite strong, even in his human form – to drag Patrick along. The atmosphere kept pressing down on him, making the journey much harder than it would have been.

“We are the dead, and the dead come for all…”

“You’re not the dead,” Ianto denied. “You’re something alien, come through some sort of rift that opened up down in these tunnels! We’re not about to let you get to us!”

There was a shuffling in the direction that Ianto was pulling Patrick, and he looked up from his task of putting one foot in front of the other to see someone entering the tunnel before them, a torch in one hand that nearly dazzled Ianto’s dragon-enhanced night vision, and what looked like…was that a miniature crossbow?

It took the dragon a moment to recognise Patrick’s acquaintance, the SHIELD agent Clint Barton.

“What the hell?” Barton managed to say before his eyes widened in shock as he noticed Ianto and Patrick stumbling toward him. Ianto knew what they must look like: Patrick glowing in the darkness, and Ianto himself barely supporting him in their trip toward the outside world.

It took him a few seconds to recall that his eyes were in their dragon aspect, and that Barton could see them.

It didn’t matter right now; Patrick was more important than Ianto’s secret at the moment. “We have to get out of here,” he snapped wearily.

That broke Barton from his surprised paralysis, and his eyes darted around as he moved to Patrick’s other side. “What the hell is going on?”

“Hello, Clint…”

Ianto heard Barton gasp, but the agent didn’t say anything as he helped carry Patrick toward the outside.

“They say they’re the dead,” Ianto answered. “Don’t listen to them.”

“Not planning on it,” the other man gritted.

“Leave Patrick…he’s already a part of us…”

“Sorry,” Barton said, “but I’m more afraid of what Patrick’s uncle will do to me if I did that than what some weird-ass voices have in store.”

Ianto choked out a laugh at that. “Not far now,” he encouraged, tightening his arm around Patrick’s waist.

“Can’t believe I’m gonna die in a fucking freezing tunnel in Switzerland,” Patrick gasped.

“What did you imagine?” Ianto asked, wanting his friend’s attention on him and not the voices clamouring for their attention. “Tahiti?”

“I don’t feel so good…”

“Listen to me,” Ianto said urgently. “We are going to make it out of here, because if you die I have to fill out the paperwork and it’s a bitch. Plus I’m with Mr Barton…I don’t relish telling your family that we went and got you killed.” He could now see the open hatch, not that far down the tunnel. “Tell you what…you come along with us and I’ll make you the good coffee for a week.”

“Bribery…it’ll get you everywhere, Boss.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Ianto? Patrick?” Martha’s voice echoed through the tunnel, and Ianto could see her half-inside the tunnel, waiting for them at the hatch.

“Stay out, Martha,” Ianto managed to shout. “It’s too dangerous…”

“Oh, it is? I never would have guessed…”

Barton laughed. “Oh, I like her.”

“You can have her if you want,” Ianto huffed. “I’m sure I don’t need her sass.”

As they got closer, the air became lighter and the voices were fading out. It became easier to carry Patrick, and he and Barton managed to heave him through the open hatch in what seemed like no time. Martha helped as they maneuvered him to the ground, where she began to examine him as she called Toshiko to let her know they were out of the Collider. She then reported the situation as it was.

“Tosh and Professor Johnson couldn’t get the Collider shut down completely, but they worked out a way to close whatever it was down in the tunnel. We just needed to get you both out…or should I say all three of you?” She gave Barton the stink eye, and the SHIELD agent simply winked at her.

Ianto got to his feet and closed the hatch, using the large wheel in the centre of the door to seal it. “It was some sort of alien presence,” he said, leaning against the cool metal.

“Yeah. We figured as much,” Martha agreed. She pulled the strap of the laptop case she was carrying over her head and brought out the Bekaran scanner, running it over Patrick’s glowing body.

“Is he gonna be okay?” Barton asked worriedly.

A deep rumble sounded from just behind the door. “And that would be Professor Johnson’s and Tosh’s plan,” she explained. “Something about protons and anti-protons…they’ll have to explain, I’m just the medical doctor around here.”

That was, of course, putting Martha’s intelligence simply. There was a lot that she did understand that was outside of her purview, but Ianto could guess that quantum physics was just one of those things that she didn’t get.

Neither did he, so she wasn’t alone in that.

However, the effects of what they had done were nearly instantaneous, as the glow suffusing Patrick began to fade away. Martha kept scanning him. “He’s regaining the neutrons he’d lost,” she said, grinning. “He’s going to be just fine.”

Ianto’s shoulders slumped in relief. “Thank the Great Dragons,” he murmured.

Patrick’s eyes fluttered open. “Please tell me that just didn’t happen,” he moaned. He struggled to sit up, but failed spectacularly. “My head is killing me…”

“You should learn self-defence,” Martha said in sarcastic relief.

Footsteps rang down the corridor and Ianto looked up, seeing Toshiko running toward them. “Are you all okay?” she asked, her eyes darting toward Patrick, and then at Agent Barton who was sitting there with them on the floor, carefully folding up what had been, indeed, a handheld crossbow.

Ianto wondered vaguely where he’d gotten it, and then realised it just didn’t matter.

They were all fine; they’d made it through.

But Barton was giving him a knowing look, and Ianto would have to do something about the agent before they could call the mission a complete success.


Chapter Nine




Comments

Oh, I hope they don't retcon Clint! I love the idea of this Team Torchwood and SHIELD working together on other cases!

Great update, looking forward to the wrap-up! :D
Woo-hoo!!! :):):)
Clint is awesome!! Just fill him in on the details and he'll keep his mouth shut. It would be good for Patrick to have a friend outside Torchwood.
Loved the update! Can't wait to see what happens next!
Good to see that Torchwood and SHIELD can work together and that Phil Coulson is very infamous. This was a explanation of what was going on in the Collider after the last two chapters. I can't wait to see the aftermath. Especially if Coulson does turn out to be the one with Barton. And there is the knowing look that Barton gave Ianto; that has many possibilities and foreshadowing.
Poor Ianto, those are voices that he hasn't heard in so long. It is a particularly cruel thing to happen to them really. I think by this stage he would be craving some Jack-time... Looking forward to the reunion. :)
Loved the update; had me holding my breath the whole time - and yay Clint! Can't wait to see his reaction to Ianto. More, please! :-D
1-I want Barton' crossbow!
2-Martha!!! Such snark!! LMAO! So much GREAT snark here! I got coffee on my screen with the Tahiti and Patrick's uncle references
3-Great chapter :D :D :D

Edited at 2014-11-24 05:21 pm (UTC)