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Myfanwy 2

October 2019



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Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Three

Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Three
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy, Rhys/Gwen (past)
Warnings: Language
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E4, "Meat"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note:  This is the Dragon-Verse version of "Meat".  As usual, dating and research thanks to the TARDIS wiki and Ianto's Desktop.

SummaryWhen one of Rhys Williams' employees is killed in a road accident and Torchwood investigates, he is determined to get to the bottom of what happened...and to find out what just was wrong with the meat that had been in the back of his friend's lorry.

1 September 2008

Rhys sat in the driver’s seat of his personal vehicle, the map he’d printed out resting on the steering wheel as he sighed out his frustration. His careful calculations had put Leighton’s possible mystery meat suppliers somewhere in Merthyr, if his guess was right and that his friend had been going to the actual source and not just waiting at the service station for a pick-up. There was a 50/50 chance on it, one that Rhys had been willing to take in order to get to the bottom of things.

Although if his friend had been going directly to wherever the hell he was getting his loads, Rhys couldn’t get it out of his head that he’d known exactly what was going on.

He wasn’t sure how to think about that.

If the mapping program had been correct, there were three places within the radius of where Leighton could have gone. It was possible that he’d gotten his sums wrong, but Rhys didn’t think so. Being exacting in his maths was one of the reasons he’d been promoted, and it was something that Rhys was proud of. He wanted to be fair, but with petrol prices going up keeping track of his guys and where they were going was necessary, and they – on the whole – understood that.

The reason he was using his personal automobile was so he wouldn’t have to write up paperwork on this little jaunt, because he wanted to keep this out of the books. He didn’t want to have to explain and besides, he worked with a bunch of nosy parkers, and Ruth was the worst. There was no way in hell he was going to tell anyone what he was up to; it would make it sound like he didn’t trust one of his own.

Okay, truth to tell Rhys didn’t think he could trust what he knew about Leighton anymore, but he had to figure out the truth. And he just had this sinking feeling that he’d never hear it from Torchwood.

He consulted the map. One of the places that had come up in his search he’d known about; they’d been customers before new management had come in and had decided that they’d wanted their own lorries to cart their knock-off trainers to their retailers. The other two he wasn’t sure about, and neither had come up with a company name in Harwood’s mapping database. Rhys knew he’d have to check both of them out, and hope that he’d get some sort of answers.

There was a very small voice in his head telling him he should head back to the office and let Torchwood handle it, but Rhys was just far too stubborn to give this up and go home with his tail tucked between his legs.

He dropped the map down onto the passenger seat, putting his car into drive and pulling out into traffic from the lay-by he’d parked in in order to check his route.

He’d only driven a few feet when a very familiar black SUV passed him as if he was standing still.

Rhys cursed under his breath, barely resisting the urge to slam his fist into the steering wheel. Instead, he practically stomped on the accelerator, in order to catch up with the speeding SUV. He gave a silent prayer that there weren’t any coppers out as he slowly caught up, just in time to see it pull off onto a side road.

If he was recalling the map correctly – and he was, Rhys knew – then this road led to one of the other warehouses he’d found online. He turned down it, slowing quite a lot, not wanting for Torchwood to notice him. About the only thing Rhys knew about following anyone came from the telly, and he certainly didn’t want to get caught. The last thing he needed was to wake up and not remember where he’d been.

Not that he’d know anything was wrong, of course, which made it all so much worse.

There was a turn-off to the right; Rhys could just make out the SUV ahead, driving at a break-neck speed that had Rhys wondering if they’d even make it to the warehouse without crashing. He turned the wheel onto the side road, hoping it would head in the direction he needed to go.

It did curve around, and Rhys could make out the roof of the warehouse through the trees, the metal roof glimmering in the weak sunlight that had driven the rain from earlier away.   As it got closer, he began to have more second thoughts. What would happen if Torchwood found him there? Would they think he was in on it? Just what was Rhys thinking about walking into?

Sure, he needed answers. He needed to know just what Leighton had been up to. He needed to know if his friend had been up to something bad. Answers to those questions were what had had him calculating distances and mileages and all that shit just to get where he was now, on the edge of discovering just what the hell was going on.

Fuck it. He had to see it through, even if it meant he’d get on the bad side of Torchwood. He had no real clue what he would find up there in that warehouse, but he had to know the truth.

His tires slid slightly on the wet pavement as he pulled his car to a halt. Rhys got out, looking around. The place was rundown and looked abandoned, and maybe he’d seen too many movies but it looked very much like where an illicit gang would hang out.

The cheep of the car alarm being set echoed over the empty space, and Rhys barely stifled the twitch that came from the fact that he might have just announced his presence to anyone in the area. His boots squeaked a bit against the ground as he spun in place, making note of the door into the warehouse and the utter desolation around him.

Rhys wondered where Torchwood had hidden. Were they getting ready to storm the place? Or were they like him, wanting to get more information before going in? He glanced around, almost hoping to catch a glimpse of the eponymous black SUV. It was nowhere to be found, but then Rhys figured they were a lot more circumspect than he was being.

That thought made the whole thing he was doing really hit home. Rhys wasn’t some sort of spy, or alien catcher, or whatever; he was a normal guy, who worked a job and who kept a flat and had just lost his girlfriend because of a shadowy organisation that had come along and thought she’d be a good soldier in their fight against the evils of the universe.

That, of course, just meant that they really hadn’t known Gwen all that well. She was no one’s soldier, thank you very much.

Rhys suddenly realised that being in this place, at this very moment, was most likely a really stupid idea.

He turned back to his car, determining that the best thing he could do was leave it to Torchwood. Yes, he’d wanted to know what Leighton was into, but the reality of the situation had finally set in for him. Rhys Williams had always been a stubborn bastard, and that stubbornness had gotten him this far, but even he knew when it was time to leave before he could get into more trouble than what he was already in.

He didn’t get that chance.

The sound of an engine had Rhys turning to see a sports car pull in, blocking his own exit from the premises. Rhys cursed himself for being an idiot as two men got out, and they were giving him the onceover that had him backing up a step.

Both men looked out of place in such a nice car. One had dark hair, one greasy lock falling across his forehead. The other appeared a bit cleaner than his companion, but not by much; estate toughs, was Rhys’ first thought, used to living from hand to mouth and thinking with their fists.

There really was only one thing he could do in this situation, and he only hoped all those poker nights had taught him something because his brain was gibbering at him to get the hell out.

He began walking toward the two, taking a deep breath and telling his mind to shut the fuck up. Rhys needed to be able to think, to bluff his way out of this, because if the bulge under the one guy’s shirt was any indication there would be bullets involved if he screwed this up.

“Don’t even bother running, mate,” the black-haired guy said, pulling a radio out from somewhere. “Greg,” he said into it, “we got a bit of a problem.”

Yeah, Rhys didn’t even have to guess what the problem was.

The guy motioned Rhys toward the door. “After you.”

Rhys didn’t even bother arguing. As he made his way toward the door, he heard whoever was on the other end of the radio say something, but there was too much feedback for him to catch the words. Apparently, the tough had, and he stepped in front of Rhys and pulled the door open, practically pushing Rhys inside.

“Look, lads,” Rhys said, avoiding the inevitable stumble into the warehouse, “I don’t mean any harm. Honestly.” He kept his hands away from his body, like he’d seen in all those police dramas on TV.

There was another man waiting inside, and Rhys followed him as they headed deeper into the warehouse. The place was rundown, and there was a musty smell coming from somewhere down the hallway. There were dirty spots along the concrete walls, and several of the overhead fluorescent strips were either out or flickering, and Rhys realised these guys were simply squatting there, doing whatever the hell it was and no one knowing they were even on premises.

No one said anything as Rhys was escorted down the hallway. It was a short walk, and then the hallway opened out into a room, the entry covered with a piece of plastic that only intensified the scent of must.

The room was long and narrow and held the tools of the butchering trade: hooks, saws, cleavers, long tables that had once been clean but were now blood-stained. Rhys barely held back the urge to gag as he could make out huge chunks of red meat on the tables, men working around them, cutting them down into smaller hunks that were tossed into individual trays.

And then there was the sound.

It was a low moaning, and it sent a shiver up Rhys’ spine. There was an echoing, unearthly quality to it, as well as a throb of pain that had his heart pounding in his chest. Whatever that was, Rhys had no doubt it was the source of the meat, and that it was still alive.

He really, really wanted to be sick.

A short, nerdy looking bloke came into the room, his expression upset. “You should have waited for the ketamine injection before doing that!” he exclaimed.

Rhys wondered just what ketamine was; he swore he’d heard it somewhere, but just not in what context.

One of the workers shrugged and continued what he was doing. “What about the hoses?”

The guy rolled his eyes. “That’s only lidocaine. It’s not strong enough.”

Rhys had heard of lidocaine, as well. He thought it might have been on some sort of doctor show, but couldn’t be certain.

That moan was beginning to get to him. Whatever they were using those drugs on, it wasn’t doing a damned bit of good to be causing it to make that sort of noise.

He couldn’t do anything, though. He was stuck there, until he could get himself out…if he could. Or he’d just have to wait until Torchwood got him out, and despite knowing he was in over his head Rhys was still proud enough to not want to be rescued.

The dark-haired man scoffed, “Well, if you care so much, go and work for the RSPCA. Or don’t they pay enough?”

The third man – it must be that Greg person that had been on the radio – pointed toward Rhys, pulling his attention away from the confrontation. “Oi, you! Through here!”

Rhys didn’t have any other choice but to obey, but he couldn’t help but take another look around.

“Shift!” the man shouted.

Rhys jumped, startled. He turned and went through the door, which led into an office. It looked like any other business office he’d seen, with desks and shelves, and a safe that was against one wall. He was pushed down into one of the chairs, and two of the men came round to face him. Rhys felt an itch at the back of his neck and figured there had to be someone behind him as well, most likely to keep him from making a run for it.

Not that he’d get very far.

“Who sent you?” the taller of the two demanded.

Rhys stared between the two men, his brain scrambling for an answer that would be accepted.

“Come on,” the dark haired guy said, “don’t waste our time.”

“No one sent me,” Rhys exclaimed, saying the first thing that came to him. There really was only one way he could have found out about this place, and he quickly came up with a response. “I, um…I came on my own. Wanted to meet the boss.”

“You’re looking at him,” the dark one said.

“Ignore my little brother,” the other snorted.

The company that had hired out the lorry had been called Harris and Harris, and Rhys put that together almost instantly. “I, uh…” He scrambled into his jacket pocket, bringing out one of his business cards. “I’m with Harwood’s. Harwood’s Haulage.” The one Harris took the card, staring at it as if it was about to bite him or something. “Uh, Leighton…Leighton, your driver…he, um, sort of told me what was going on.” He really wished he could sound more suave and blasé, but Rhys would never have been called an actor even at the biggest stretch of the imagination.

“That mouthy git,” the shorter Harris growled, “he was paid to keep his mouth shut.”

The taller one shushed him.

This did confirm that Leighton had known what was going on. Rhys had his answer; that his friend had been taking payments to haul alien meat to the abattoir to be distributed to the people of the area. It made him want to vomit and cry at the same time. What had led Leighton to do something illegal like that?

Because it had to be illegal. There were forms and stamps and inspections that had to be done before any meat went to the abattoir, and Rhys seriously doubted any of what they were sending out from here had any of that sort of thing.

“Yeah, well,” Rhys said, keeping his voice down even if he wanted to scream it out, “he’s dead.”

The Harris brothers – and they had to be brothers, just by their looks alone – glanced at each other.

“Lorry crashed,” Rhys elaborated.

That got him two expressions of anger and panic. “Were the goods inside?” the younger demanded.

“What happened to the meat?” the taller asked harshly. “Did anyone see it?”

Of course they wouldn’t have cared that a man had died. Bastards like this only saw the bottom line and what they could get away with. Rhys had to keep himself seated, or else he would have been up, fists flying. Rhys didn’t give a damn about their meat…Leighton was dead, and he wasn’t coming back from that.

Still, he had to keep up the pretence. “No…no, I um…gathered it all up and took it to be incinerated.” He cleared his throat. “I was…was kinda hoping to take up where he left off, boys?” He knew he sounded tentative, but then Rhys had the perfect right to be freaked out at the situation. Well, if he wasn’t so pissed off, of course.

“How do we know you won’t report us?”

Rhys finally gave into the urge to roll his eyes. “I’m here, aren’t I?”

Which, in his mind, was becoming a more and more idiotic position to be in. Rhys had to agree with that inner voice cause it made sense.

The younger man scoffed, while the elder simply stood up from where he’d been leaning against one of the wall shelves. “So what exactly did he tell you?” he asked, shoving his hands into his pockets.

Bloody hell. He couldn’t just come out with the whole alien meat thing, could he? Rhys scrambled a bit, finally saying, “Uh, everything? You know…that you’re cleaning up old meat?”

That got him two nearly identical smirks. “Oh, it’s a lot bigger than that.”

Yeah, Rhys was afraid of that…not that he hadn’t been expecting that sort of answer but he couldn’t just bust out with the truth of what he knew.

The two men escorted him from the office, past the bloodied butcher who had been guarding the door with a nasty-looking cleaver. They hadn’t gone far when Rhys noticed the smell.

It was horrible, like a combination of death and corruption and raw meat. Rhys put his hand up in front of his nose to try to block it out, but it didn’t work. At the same time, that sound became louder, sending shudders throughout his body at the terrible hopelessness in it. Rhys’ shoes squished as he walked, and he was afraid to look down to see what he was trodding in out of a sense of self-preservation. He didn’t want to know if it was blood or not, although his imagination was supplying its own guesses.

“What’s that smell?” he asked weakly, swallowing hard. “And that noise?”

“You get used to it,” one of the Harris brothers answered. Rhys didn’t pay attention to which one it was.

Again, the corridor they were in opened up into a larger room, this one huge. At one time it must have been a storage area, but now it was filled with something that Rhys fairly couldn’t comprehend.

It was enormous, taking up most of the room. Its skin was dark and wrinkled, with a lighter coloured patch close to one end. The pitiful cries were coming from it, loud and low and reminding him of whale song he’d once heard on some nature special, only filled with pain and terror and sadness and Rhys couldn’t help but want to weep at the sight of it, even knowing that he couldn’t show any sort of weakness in front of his would-be ‘business’ partners.

He stepped closer, and that lighter patch of skin split open to reveal a purple-grey eye, staring at him as if pleading to be put out of its terrible misery. Rhys could see himself reflected within, and it distorted his face until it was something he couldn’t recognise any longer.

It was alive, and alien, and it was suffering at the hands of humans.

And, in that moment, Rhys Williams had an epiphany.

He wasn’t there because he was afraid Torchwood would sweep everything under the carpet, and that he’d never know what had happened to his friend.

He wasn’t there to find out just what Leighton had been up to, or if he’d been some sort of innocent victim in all this.

No, he wasn’t there because of either of those two reasons, no matter what he’d told himself ever since he’d seen the road accident that had taken Leighton’s life.

Rhys was there because of Gwen Cooper.

Chapter Four


Interesting look at Rhys' POV.
Loved the update! It's interesting to have Rhys' POV on things.
Rhys has accidentally walked right into the middle of things and now he'd better hope he can bluff his way out. I wonder how upset Torchwood is going to be with him.
Wow, Brilliant chapter which gives us a look into Rhys's POV.
Very interested to see where you are going with that last line in your update.
Wow. Rhys is awesome, isn't he? He's magnificent. Such an ordinary bloke, and so very extraordinary.
I quite like getting a look inside Rhys' mind. He is an interesting character, more complex than cannon. I like getting to know him both within and without the context of Gwen Cooper.
Great chapter! Loved how you did Rhys' POV here!
So..where are you going with that last line..
Loved the update, but Gwen..an inspiring force?
A great chapter...and I still wonder, no matter who is writing Rhys, how Gwen managed to find such a gem, cheat on him and still keep him. Losing my nails again :D
*bites nails* Oh Rhys, what HAVE you got yourself into?!

Edited at 2014-03-28 11:03 am (UTC)
good recovery of the episode. be in his thoughts is great.
I understand the reasons for Rhys.
I feel we will still be entitled to the scene roosters?