Do You, Mr. Jones?
Cuddy had found Chase a wheelchair. There was really nothing else for it; he moved too slowly on crutches and he'd taken his brand-new, Cameron-induced injuries as an excuse to complain non-stop. Gwen had somewhat miraculously escaped the brawl undisturbed, and was sleeping soundly in her gurney. Bilis had insisted on being the one to wheel Gwen around and Cuddy had ordered Cameron to wheel Chase in what she considered to be punishment. Tracy had Gwen's IV, which meant that Wilson was stuck helping Cuddy haul Governor Streed and his considerable mass down the hallway.
"We've got to get to my office," Cuddy said between huffing breaths as she attempted to navigate carrying someone nearly three times her own weight. Wilson wasn't much better off.
"Why?" said Chase. "I thought we were going to the exam room."
"Right," said Cuddy. "Wait, hold on--" She quite suddenly dropped the half of Streed she was carrying. His head made a sick cracking sound on the floor. Wilson rolled his eyes and dropped the governor's legs.
"What?" he asked.
"Well," said Cuddy, "I was going to use the PA and force this lump--" she kicked Streed lightly "to order the National Guard out of here. I mean, honestly, do they think we haven't got any patients that need attending? As if it weren't bad enough that the staff is all scared half to death--"
"But?" Cameron prompted, cutting her off before she could launch into full-on rant mode.
"But, if you looked around your corner there, you'd see that -- no, no, don't do it, you idiot! -- you'd see that we're surrounded with almost no hope of actually getting there."
"So... we're going back to the exam room afterall, then?" asked Cameron.
"Uh, no." Cuddy looked sheepish. "That way is blocked too."
"Actually, it's in exactly the opposite direction. Even if it weren't blocked, we'd have to have extraordinary luck to make it that far," Bilis added helpfully. Cuddy glared at him.
"Right," she groused.
"So what are we going to do?" Chase asked, looking panicked. Cameron rolled her eyes at him.
"Don't be a big damn baby," she told him.
"Help me wake this big oaf," Cuddy said, then added, "Quietly!"
Wilson reached down and slapped Streed round the face a couple times, then quickly clamped a hand over his mouth when the big man awoke suddenly.
"Mmph!" said Streed.
"Hush," said Wilson.
"Good," said Cuddy. "Here's what's going to happen." She looked quite menacing. "You are going to go over to those guards and announce that the search is off and that they are to spread the word and evacuate immediately. You will also tell them to arrange for an emergency generator to be brought in and for repairs on the hospital to begin. This is very important. I will not have any more people die today because of this ridiculousness. Then you are going to come back over here for further instructions. There will be no tricks, no escape attempts, nothing clever. You will do exactly that and nothing more. I have had an extremely stressful day and I am not in a good mood. If you defy me, I will only become more cross and that is something you would not like. Am I understood?"
Streed stared at her in abject terror.
"I said, am I understood?" Cuddy said, with a surprising amount of force. Streed nodded and gibbered behind Wilson's hand. Wilson, a bit disgusted, removed it.
"Ugh," he said, observing the fresh blood and spittle on his palm. "Can someone please hand me a towel? This is disgusting." Bilis pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it out. Wilson eyed it suspiciously, but didn't get the impression Bilis much cared for anything beyond Gwen and if, in fact, it was used, he didn't suppose a little snot could make his hand any more gross. He wiped it off and thought twice about handing the handkerchief back covered in stains, then pocketed it.
"Right," said Cuddy, who had been hauling Streed to his feet with the help of Cameron. "Try to enunciate. It wouldn't do us any good if they couldn't understand you just because you are missing a couple teeth." She watched him totter wobblingly towards the guards for a couple seconds, then turned back to the rest of the group, all business.
"Well then," she said, brushing her hands off on her blouse. "We might need these. Everyone take one." She stalked over to Gwen's gurney and pulled up part of the blanket. Bilis made a hissing noise at her, but she only pulled it up far enough to reveal that she had hidden several lengths of varyingly sized pipe under it. She started handing them out.
"What's this for?" asked Chase, taking one from her.
"It's always a good idea to have a back-up plan in case Plan A fails," Cuddy explained.
"No thank you," Bilis said, gently waving away the offered pipe. Cuddy raised an eyebrow at him but did not object.
"Did you have army training or something?" asked Wilson suspiciously.
"Where did you get all these?" said Cameron.
"He's coming back," said Chase, who had a fair view around the corner from his location. Cuddy shushed everyone and positioned herself. When Streed came around the corner, she grabbed him by the shirt and pointed the pipe at him menacingly.
"Wait! I did it! They're going!" Streed was barely understandable with his missing front teeth. Cuddy took a minute to decipher what he'd said.
"And the generator?" she asked finally.
"Yes! It's on its way!" he said frantically.
"Good," Cuddy said, sounding satisfied. "Come with us. Don't make a sound. I mean it." She waved the pipe around a bit, just in case he didn't get the point. He nodded fearfully.
Cuddy led the way towards where the guards had been and sure enough, they were gone. Everyone else followed her unthinkingly, and Wilson wondered when they'd decided she would be their leader. There hadn't really been much choice in the matter, he supposed.
They all shuffled into a random exam room and Cuddy dragged Streed over to the other side with her.
"Now what?" asked Cameron, looking around.
"I thought--" Bilis began, but he was cut off by Streed, who took advantage their lack of attention and tried to bolt for the door.
He didn't get very far. Cuddy had not lied when she said she wasn't in the mood for tomfoolery, and with a terrifyingly guttural scream she launched herself at the governor, tackled him to the floor, and then grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head up. "HOW DARE YOU?" she shrieked in his face. Blood was running down his nose and it looked almost certainly broken. Everyone else took several steps back. Without bothering to wait for an answer she knew wasn't coming, Cuddy dragged herself up, grabbed the back of Streed's shirt, and hauled him up with her. Then, in an extremely impressive display, she manhandled him to the other side of the exam room, taking no care not to knock him against various furniture, and with some effort dumped him out right out of the window.
"Oops," said Cuddy in a disturbingly cheerful voice. They all heard a thud two stories down. "Silly me, I'm so clumsy." She turned back around and wiped her hands off on her blouse, then smiled at them.
They all backed away another step or two.
"Wow," said Chase after a long minute, sounding breathy. "How did you do that?"
Cuddy's eyes narrowed. "Anyway, I actually came in here to collect some things. Then we'll go find Jack."
"I mean, he was twice the size of you at least!" Chase persisted.
"Help me out here. Grab anything you think might be useful, especially sedatives in case we need them for Gwen." Cuddy continued to ignore him.
"The window wasn't even open! You pushed him right through it!" Chase said wonderingly. Cuddy twitched. "How many bad guys have you taken down already? I think I've lost count!"
"Um, I think you'd better let it go," Wilson said, in an attempt to head off impending disaster.
"Are you, like, Rambo in disguise or something?" Chase continued, completely failing to get the hint.
"Let's go," Cuddy snapped, dropping a small pile of various gauze, needles, rubber gloves, and hand towels on the end of Gwen's gurney.
"No, no," said Chase as he was quickly wheeled out of the room by Cameron. "You must be Jackie Chan! Or, no, wait, Bruce Lee! In disguise!"
Cuddy continued to ignore him, and stalked ahead instead. "Shut up!" Cameron hissed at him.
"Maybe she's Indiana Jones?" Chase mused. "Or Catwoman, hmmm, I bet House would like to see her in Halle Berry's Catwoman suit."
"ARRGGGGG!" Cuddy spun on one foot and stomped back towards Chase, who finally caught on and started cowering.
"No, no, I'm sorry! It was a joke! I don't really think you're Catwoman! AHHHHHHH!"
"Great," said Wilson. "We are making such progress. It's no wonder Jack ditched us." Bilis nodded absently.
Jack’s wristband kept up an insistent beeping as the batteries-low indicator flashed on the display. Ianto burst into the next room and slammed the double-doors shut, turning the lock and wedging a chair under the knobs.
“All right. Let’s get a scan for alien tech,” he muttered. Judging from what he’d seen, there would be far too many hits to get a meaningful result, but that wasn’t what he was after. Two seconds later, the wristband completed the operation, flashed the results on the screen and ran out of power. The image faded slowly, just long enough for him to get a glimpse of tunnels criss-crossing beneath the foundation of the mansion, each lined with what were probably gas lines.
Three bodies thudded against the doors, and the chair creaked under the stress. Through the frosted glass, Ianto saw more shadows appear even as the first set went down.
“It’s locked!” someone yelled.
Ianto threw himself to the ground, but the expected gunshots never came. A screech of feedback tore through the house, and he glanced at the wristband, half-expecting to see it functioning again. The thing remained resolutely dead, however, which was not a good sign. He looked up and saw yellow gas drifting from the ventilation like a waterfall of dry ice. Faint echoes of a piano played in his ears, growing louder as a drum started up in the background. The feedback died away, replaced by light breathing.
“This one’s for you, Ianto Jones,” a voice said into the microphone, and it sounded like Howell but also somebody else. Ianto wondered whether the alien had gone insane. “Thanks for being a complete pain in my khajzntp.”
He staggered into the next room, but the walls were turning into the contents of a lava lamp, complete with red and yellow glows. Stage lights, Ianto thought, they look like stage lights.
“You walk into the room...” Howell began singing, somewhat hauntingly. “With your pencil in your hand.”
Ianto kept moving even though the floor rocked beneath his feet like the deck of a ship, but darkness didn’t close in and he maintained consciousness. Howell was toying with him! He was surprised the alien dared to after being defeated earlier, but he must feel safer now that he was in control of and removed from the situation.
You see somebody naked and you... The words seemed to throb in his mind, a growing headache and a screaming cacophony.
…say, “Who is that man?”
A surging wave swept him off his feet, and he fell face-forward to the floor, which rose and fell over his hands, rippling like water as it passed. Footsteps approached from behind him. They were soft thuds that indicated bare feet on carpet. Ianto let the swells push him onto his back and he looked up to see Jack. A completely naked Jack.
“Wow,” he said, before coming to his senses. He shook his head, slapping himself a few times, but the hallucination refused to fade. Jack stepped closer, and the waves calmed in a circle around him, as though even they were too awed to do anything.
You try so haaaaaaard.
Ianto groaned and closed his eyes, but Jack bent over him and he could feel his presence even before they were physically touching. “What’s wrong?” he whispered. “You’re normally quite happy to see me.” And then they were touching. There was definitely touching going on.
But you don’t understand...
…you don’t understand,... Jack gasped the words into his ear, cradling Ianto’s head against his shoulderblade, and every time he spoke, Ianto could feel bits and pieces of his memory flutter away, evaporating, and then, even that realization was gone as he no longer remembered what he’d forgotten. But there was a deeper whisper, like the shaking of a rattlesnake’s tail, and he concentrated on it, knowing he must ignore what Jack was doing to him, must remember, must remember to remember...
Forget BRAIN, forget what we came here to do, Howell whispered. You don’t understand any of it, not anymore...
As though compensating for the sudden slip, the song blared louder and Dylan roared. You don’t understand just what you’ll say when you get home.
Home. The word cracked through haze like thunder and lightning as it brought the realization that Jack was not here. Ianto was not home. It was a small aid, but enough, and Ianto used the last of his strength to push the naked illusion off him. The captain stumbled to his feet, and Ianto pushed himself away, expecting him to advance once more. Instead, Jack grinned. “Good job, Ianto,” he said. “I knew you had it in you.”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“Oh get your mind out of the gutter.” But Jack looked pleased anyway. “Though that’s not a bad idea, is it? Come on, you can manipulate the hallucination, right? Well, I’m telling you now, your subconscious knows what to do. Get up!”
“I can’t!” Ianto tried to gain his balance once more, but the waves grew stronger, Jack’s presence no longer impeding them at all. He reached out for a wall to push against, but that too had the consistency of jello.
Because something is happening here
“You can! Think!”
“It’s kind of hard when you’re naked and we’re bouncing up and down on the floor!”
Jack rolled his eyes. “Fine. I guess it isn’t cheating if I say it, because everything I say, you’re thinking. Sort of. So let’s make it obvious. I need to be inside of you.”
“There’s a time and a place!”
Jack closed the gap between them in two steps. The ground might be undulating but he had no trouble navigating it. When Ianto’s gaze strayed, he grabbed his head and brought his eyes up to meet his gaze.
But you don’t know what it is
“There is only one way to counter the illusions,” Jack spoke softly.
“The energy from the time vortex!” he exclaimed. “But... you’re not really here.” His gaze dropped to his arm. “Is the residual energy enough?”
Jack shrugged. “Why don’t you find out?”
Ianto nodded. He tore the wristband off and bit down on the end of it. The taste of leather and iron, along with a heavy dose of 51st century pheromones, hit him like a drug taking effect, and the room wobbled. For a moment, the surroundings turned back to normal, but then they split, and he could see both what the house looked like and what the gas was trying to make him see. The semi-transparent Jack looked noncommittal. “It’s enough, isn’t it?”
“Wha eef--” Ianto shook his head. If Jack was part of his own mind, he could ask the question more easily with thoughts. What if I take it out of my mouth?
“Then you lose the protection, don’t you?”
In many ways, the new view was even more disorienting, but he heard screaming from where the guards had been caught up in their own hallucinations. He shuddered, wondering what they were seeing, and started running.
Owen woke up. He reached his left arm out to swat at the shouting blur above his face, which he was pretty certain was House.
At least, he thought he did. He frowned, suddenly unsure of himself, and tried again. Once more, House and his loud mouth failed to be slapped away.
"Hey!" said Foreman somewhere to his left, but Owen ignored him. He tried his right arm, and this time he succeeded in swatting the side of House's head which caused an irritating grin but at least stopped the annoying chatter. Then House's face was gone and Owen sat up blearily and looked around.
He was on the floor of the morgue. Jack was helping Foreman up next to him, and House had moved on to making fun of both of them. He moved to stand up himself, but before he could, his left arm moved of its own accord, reaching outwards.
"What--" he yelped, surprised, and tried waving it around. Next to him, Foreman slapped himself a couple times and looked very affronted. His own arm waved about frantically for a bit, not at all in the directions he was trying to wave it.
"Alright," said Foreman, standing up. "What is going on here?"
House was laughing uproariously and even Jack looked amused despite his best efforts.
"Foreman dropped the alien device on Owen's head, and it looks like it did a partial discharge," Jack explained.
"WHAT?" yelled Owen.
"We can't know for sure what happened," said Jack. "Obviously, not without your input. But it looks to me like Owen is controlling Foreman's left arm, and Foreman is controlling Owen's left arm."
"Yeah," said Owen slowly. "Yeah, that makes... sense."
"Sense? In what possible way does that make sense?" Foreman said.
"What's up with him?" asked Owen, ignoring Foreman and focusing on House, who was still laughing. Jack glanced at House speculatively.
"Misery loves company?" he suggested after a minute, then shrugged and turned. "Anyway, we've really got to get out of this stupid morgue. It's causing more troubles than it's worth."
Fore man was still getting over the idea of being linked to Owen. "I hate you," he said.
Owen shrugged at him. At least, half of him did. Then half of Foreman shrugged back at him. "You dropped it, mate."
Jack prodded House in the right direction. House abruptly stopped laughing.
"We have to get that damn thing back now," he demanded. "As amusing as this whole thing with the two minions is, I am not enjoying being, ugh, linked with you."
"What?" asked Owen.
"I can't do that. I need to find Tosh; believe it or not, she's better at this stuff than I am," said Jack.
"Oh, I believe it," muttered House under his breath.
"No seriously, what? You guys are linked too?" Owen persisted.
"Shut up," snapped House.
Foreman sighed. "Trust me, it's not worth it," he told Owen. Owen relented. The four of them exited the morgue with relish and surveyed the heavily damaged hospital first floor. A couple of busy nurses stared at them but said nothing.
"I bet Cuddy's throwing an absolute fit," House observed.
"We should really find them," said Jack, looking guilty.
"I'd really rather not."
"I told them we'd all work together as a team, and then I sort of ran off."
"I don't blame you."
"It wasn't on purpose. I didn't even notice they weren't right behind me!"
"That's a lie, and I know it. You ditched them! I could hear Chase yelling!"
"Will you two stop bickering?" Foreman cut in while Jack glared at House, who looked unperturbed.
"Where's Gwen?" said Owen, sounding worried.
"Um, as far as I know, she's with everyone else," Jack said. "That's where she was when I got separated from them, anyway. Oh." He adopted a chagrined look. "Don't freak out, Owen, but Bilis is with them."
"Bilis? What is that bastard doing there? Oh, I will kill him!" Owen made to stomp off across the hospital lobby, but Jack clapped a hand down on his shoulder to stop him.
"I said, don't freak out," he reiterated. "He's not doing any harm, as far as I can see. I think he really likes Gwen."
"Ew." Owen looked a little sick.
"Anyway," said Foreman, "let's go find them before we get attacked by more aliens."
House led the way down a random corridor.
"Um, I really don't think this is the right way," Jack said. House ignored him in favor of gleefully opening every door in what he probably thought was a dramatic fashion. "House, this isn't where we were before. I don't think they're this way!" Jack tried again. House continued to ignore him. "Fine." Jack sighed and gave up.
They passed an overturned cart that had once held all the food trays now spilled all over the floor. Owen stopped to collect all the stray pudding cups he could fit in his pockets, then, with a dirty look at his left arm, used his teeth to open one with relish.
"What?" he said defensively to Jack, who had raised an eyebrow at him. "I was stuck in a car boot for a day, and then almost immediately afterwards I got stuck in the morgue! I haven't exactly had anything to eat lately, have I? I'm starving!" Jack shrugged at him and turned around to catch up with House. Foreman also shrugged, and picked up a pudding cup for himself.
House slammed open another door and dramatically swept in to check it, but this time several piercing yelps stopped him in his path.
"Ahh!" he shouted back, startled by the sudden, unexpected noise.
"House!" someone said.
"What!" he shouted back. Then he added, "Oh. I found them." Jack walked in behind him.
"What are you guys doing in here?" he asked. Wilson, Cameron, and Cuddy all looked uncomfortable.
"Well," said Bilis, who had pulled a stool up next to Gwen's gurney. Tracy was standing menacingly behind him, ready to protect the unconscious Gwen from untoward advances. "Chase here was provoking Doctor Cuddy, and so Doctor Cuddy became, shall we say, a little upset. We came in here to treat the bruises."
"We were on our way to find you guys, though," added Wilson. Owen and Foreman walked in.
"Owen!" said Cameron, brightening. "I'm glad you're okay!"
"Oh, yeah, no greeting for me, thanks Cameron," grumbled Foreman.
"Hi Foreman," said Cameron obligingly.
"You beat up Chase?" House asked Cuddy brightly. She snarled at him. "Ooo, very sexy, the feral look! I like it! Oh, hi Wilson."
"Good to see you, House," said Wilson, while everyone else stared incredulously at him. "I was worried."
"Anyway!" said Jack. "I'm worried about Gwen. We need to do something about these ridiculous aliens traipsing about and get this hospital back in order so we can get to work on helping her."
"Actually, I've already taken care of the second bit. The National Guard is having an emergency generator shipped in, and repairs are to begin immediately," Cuddy informed them. Jack looked impressed.
"Great! So the only issue is the aliens. We need to find their leader and take care of him."
"Or her," said Tracy reproachfully.
"Er, yeah, or her," Jack said. "Dr. House, why don't you and your team stay here and monitor Gwen while Owen and I go take care of that? I believe Tosh and Ianto are already working on it."
"Fat chance," House scoffed. "I'm coming with you. I want to see some more of this!"
"Me too," said Cameron.
"You're not going without me," said Chase.
"Oh no you don't, House, you're not getting away again!" said Cuddy.
"Wilson is coming too," said House.
"I want to come!" said Tracy.
"I'll stay here with Miss Cooper," said Bilis. Tracy smacked him on the back of the head.
"Oh, no," said Jack. "You are not all coming with me! No freaking way. I need people here to stay with Gwen and make sure she's okay! And I am not leaving her alone with him!"
House looked around. "Tracy will stay. I don't want her to come anyway; she's not part of the gang."
"What--!" said Tracy.
"Bad girl. Stay. No cookie," said House.
"We'll be back soon. I hope," consoled Wilson.
"Just her?" said Jack, aghast. "You think she's enough?"
"She's like a one-man army!" Chase put in. Tracy growled at him. "Er, one-woman army?" he amended. She stopped growling, but only looked slightly mollified.
"You don't want Gwen to DIE and all be your fault, do you?" said House.
"Whatever." Jack gave up. "Let's just get out of here before it's too late, alright?"
"Where, exactly, are we going?" asked Cuddy.
"Er," said Owen.
"Right," said Jack, and pulled out a small tracking device. "I stuck a tracer on Smythe," he explained to everyone who hadn't been there.
"Who's Smythe?" asked Cameron.
"A bad guy," said House. "He stole the thingie!"
"Some army bigwig. A colonel, I think it was," Jack said.
"Thingie, right," said Cameron dryly.
"He means the alien device, the thing House was carrying around that's caused no end of trouble," Jack clarified. "We're trying to figure out how to use it so we can reverse the effects and get Chase and Cameron back in your own bodies. Also...."
Owen raised Foreman's arm. "Yeah," he said. "We've been partially linked also. We're controlling each others' arm."
"Weird," said Wilson. Foreman nodded solemnly. House noticed that Jack didn't bother to mention their own ridiculous link and approved.
"Anyway, judging from the direction Smythe is heading and the fact that Ianto and Tosh are already there, I'd say he's heading towards Drumthwacket," said Jack.
"Drumthwacket?" said Owen, laughing. He unconsciously tried to move his arm and ended up making Foreman smack himself in the forehead. Foreman glared at him but declined to retaliate.
"The governor's mansion," said Jack.
"Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go."
Ianto was in trouble. There was a wall in front of him with a door in it. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that both the wall and the door were transparent, which meant either there was a door there and Howell was masking it by showing him a wall, or there was a wall there and Howell was tricking him into thinking it was a door. The residual energy on the wristband was enough to prevent the hallucinations him from overwhelming him, but Howell had caught on by the time he made it into the basement and shifted his strategy. Now the walls were no longer melting and the floor wasn’t trying to buck him off. They were merely pretending to be things that they weren’t.
And by itself, this new predicament would not be an issue either, because he could just reach for the handle and see if it existed. The main problem was the fact that the door-that-might-not-be-a-door was one of a row of thirty stretching along a concrete-lined hallway.
“Damn,” Ianto said. A thought occurred to him. “Open sesame!”
Willing the doors to open, twenty-nine obeyed and one did not. Grinning, he ran over and pulled it open.
There was a giant pit flickering in the ground beyond. He tapped the surface with the front of his left foot and felt solid ground, but at the same time, a ripple of purple light expanded from the point of contact. Force field, he realized. Tricky.
He sucked in a deep breath through gritted teeth and realized that was a mistake as the scent of Jack’s wristband sent him into a coughing spasm. It began slipping out of his mouth, and he grabbed it to hold it in place. The ground faded further before regaining a stalemate with the pit. So the pit must be the hallucination!
Ianto closed his eyes and stepped out. When he opened them again, the pit was gone. He started running, only to be confronted by a second pit. He peered into the dim hall and saw a repeating pattern of three meters of ground followed by three meters of hallucinations for as far as he could see. It would take days to navigate, and he had felt an intense pressure upon his head the moment the wristband had slipped from his mouth. Given half a chance, Howell would use every opening he got to send Ianto deeper and deeper into the hallucination. He couldn’t risk testing every pit.
So he walked forward, certain that no one was ridiculous enough to dig a pit in the middle of a hallway. He was halfway across the surface when the force field gave out, and he plummeted into the darkness.
Rhys awoke with a throbbing headache and the obscure feeling he was being violated. Odd, he thought, then opened his eyes.
"AHHHHHH!" His scream echoed around the cavernous room as he scrambled frantically backwards. The massive winged creature stared at him with--beyond all reason--a distinctly affronted look.
Rhys stared back at it. "What were you doing to me?" he shouted at it. It cocked its head to one side and stared. Not for long, though, as soon it apparently decided everything was fine and it advanced on Rhys with what could only be called lust in its eyes. Rhys let out an unmanly shriek, stumbled to his feet, and ran.
For the first time he noticed where he was, or rather, where he wasn't, which was Cardiff. At least, as far as he knew. The massive room was unlike anything he'd ever seen in Cardiff, at any rate. He could just see a hole in the ceiling though masses of wires and metal blocks, the purpose of which he could only guess at. The brief glimpse of stars told him that what he was seeing was probably sky, which meant he was probably underground, and that it was night.
Last he remembered it had been day. What happened? he thought frantically.
He tripped dramatically over a badly angled bit of flooring and went sprawling.
"AHHHH!" he screamed again as the amorous pterodactyl descended upon him in an unfortunate manner and began, once again, violating his leg.
You raise up your head
Ianto groaned once he was sure he’d stopped bouncing up and down as on a trampoline. The ground was spongy underneath him, and he guessed it was some sort of elastic foam designed to cushion the fall.
And you say, “Is this where it is?”
Why was Howell still singing? The song came from a distance, like a garbled radio transmission. Jack’s wristband remained between his teeth, though his jaw was sore from the effort of holding onto it during the fall. He gnashed on it a bit as he waited for the adrenaline to stop rushing through his system. Doubtless, its protection was what was keeping Howell’s voice--quite good for an alien--at bay.
And somebody points to you and says
“Nobody’s pointing anything at me,” Ianto mumbled. Above him, a faint glow outlined the rectangular opening he’d fallen through. From its size, he judged he’d fallen some twenty feet.
“What’s mine?” Ianto fumbled around a bit, wondering if he’d dropped something important.
And somebody else says, “Where what is?”
“Okay, now you’re just speaking gibberish.” He looked around, but the pit was pitch black. “I don’t even see any vents or electronic equipment. What’s generating the hallucinations?”
Howell ignored him. “And you say:”
Ianto glared into the darkness.
And you say...
Ianto tapped his foot. He heard a crackly sigh.
“And you say...” Howell’s voice turned high-pitched and squeaky. “‘Oh my God am I here all alone?”
“I do not sound like that.”
Because something is happening here.
There was a rustling sound.
But you don’t know what it is.
Ianto stepped back into the rectangle of light coming down through the hole, keeping himself as far from the edges of darkness as possible.
The rustling resolved itself into light metallic clanking, like little feet tapping against the ground. Scurrying...
The sound of servos turning gave Ianto about half a second to react before five-foot long spider droid soared through the light at his face. He had brief flashbacks to Alien before he screamed and punched it.
His fist hurt a lot, and so did the rest of him when the droid’s momentum sent them both sliding along the floor. Remembering his last encounter with the model in the hospital, he expected it to draw its blades on him immediately, but instead, it just sat on him. A panel about three centimeters in diameter opened up on the main body of the droid, revealing a thin grating.
“You hand in your ticket...” Howell sang through the speakers.
Ianto groaned. “Shut up and go away!” he yelled, hoping the thing worked as a microphone too. The droid lowered itself further onto him, leaving him too busy gasping for breath to curse it. A second panel opened, revealing a color TV set.
To go watch the geek.
The screen flicked on, and he saw Tosh huddled in a square meter prison cell. “Tosh!” he gasped, not expecting any response, but she looked at the camera and her eyebrows shot up.
Who suddenly walks up to you
Tosh punched the camera.
When she hears you speak.
The camera floated up out of her reach. There was no sound, but she appeared to unleash a string of invectives at whatever was recording her. Go Tosh, Ianto thought. It was unlike her, though, to lose control so thoroughly.
And says, ‘How does it feel to be such a freak?”
The droid lifted itself up a few centimeters to give Ianto breathing room as Howell sang, “And you say, 'Impossible.'”
“Screw you,” Ianto said. He reached up and felt the edges of a yet-unopened panel on the robot and dug his fingers into them. He pulled and sparks flew as he revealed the power pack. Closing his eyes, he head-butted the droid, slamming Jack’s wristband against the charger.
Even through his eyelids, the arcing electricity turned the world white, but seconds later, the droid fell backward and bounced out of the rectangle of light, clanging as it went. Ianto extracted the wristband just far enough to see that it was charged again. Good old 51st century technology.
He keyed in a search for nearby organic life forms and located one. Dragging the broken droid along for light--its broken components sparked nicely--he saw that one end of the corridor was a dead end while the other led into an elliptical hall with numerous dead ends branching off like spokes of a wheel. He supposed it was a trap of sorts, meant to hold prisoners the aliens wanted alive, because as far as he could tell, there was no way back up.
The moment he entered the central roundabout, the singing started up again. He tensed, expecting another droid, but saw none for the entire slow curve of the passageway.
You’ve been with the professors, and they’ve all liked your looks.
There were doors along the interior of the ellipse. Cells. He examined the nearest one, but it was solid metal. Tapping it, he guessed it was about a hands’ length in thickness, but sound should be able to carry fine. He pounded on the door. “Tosh?” he yelled. There was no response.
With great lawyers and scholars you have discussed lepers and crooks.
Door by door he went, the wristband only able to tell him there was someone inside, but without knowing the shape of the cells, it was impossible to be certain which entrance was correct.
You think the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books.
“Toshiko!” he yelled. An extra large fountain of sparks burst from the droid in response.
You’re very well read. It’s well known.
Ianto was certain he’d made a full circuit, but he didn’t give up. Biting down harder on the wristband didn’t make the singing stop, so he blocked it from his mind. It was becoming eerie, with Howell’s voice creating echoes as though he were lurking just behind Ianto.
He realized that dragging the droid around might be making too much racket, he took care to pause before each door. About eight doors afterwards, he heard a faint scratching in response to his pounding. “Tosh?” he said, pressing himself against the door to let his voice carry.
“Help!” The response sounded almost like a whisper, as though it was taking the person all his energy to speak. The voice was pitched enough to identify the speaker as male.
“Monty?” Ianto said. No response. “Tap once for ‘yes.’” The door clanged. “All right, stand back and I’ll get you out!”
During his long walk, he’d noticed this droid possessed a handy-looking device that resembled a laser torch. A sonic blast from the wristband weakened the metal enough for him to wrench the torch off. He flicked it on and sliced around the edges of the door, preferring to aim for the hinges rather than cut through so much steel.
The door shook and groaned as the torch made its way around, leaving a trail of molten metal that looked like red and gold streamers. As he cut through the last hinge, it shook and collapsed inward.
Well, you walk into the room like a camel and then you frown.
Monty lay on his side, and even by the droid’s intermittent glow Ianto could see something was wrong. He rushed in and reached for Monty’s arm, which he was cradling above him, recoiling when he felt blood.
“Attack dogs,” Monty said, his voice hoarse as a man who’d just wandered out of a desert.
You put your eyes in your pocket and your nose on the ground.
Ianto put a hand on Monty’s forehead. “You’re feverish. Can you stand up?” But even as he talked, he saw Monty’s out unfocus. He cursed as the smell of gas touched his nostrils. Holding his breath, he took the wristband out of his mouth and said, “Bite on this.”
Monty didn’t respond, so Ianto forced it into his mouth. “What? Ugh. Tastes nasty, don’t need medicine,” Monty muttered.
“Medicine’s exactly what you need,” Ianto said. Monty looked in no condition to be wandering the mansion with him. Sighing, he took the wristband back and watched Monty fall into a stupor again.
A second scan for alien tech revealed a second elliptical corridor beneath the one he’d been in, only this one appeared to have an exit on the south end. There was also another human life form detected.
There ought to be a law against you comin’ around.
“I’ll be right back, all right, Monty?”
Monty groaned. “Governor isn’t...” he said, his voice trailing off into unintelligible murmurs. Ianto waved a hand in front of his face, but Monty continued to stare into nothing. “‘In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel...’” he said, sounding like he was singing.
Ianto groaned. “Not you too.”
“‘...To show that all’s equal...and that the courts are on the level...’”
You should be made to be carrying, at all times, a telephone.
“Listen, I just have to get Tosh and some medicine for you. Then we’ll all get out of here. Just wait, ok? Just wait here.”
Monty’s eyes went wide and he grabbed Ianto’s arm. Ianto nearly fell backward in surprise. “Tosh. She thinks... I betrayed her. Save her.” His fingers lost their strength, and he rolled onto his back. “‘Now is the time for your tears,’” he sang to the ceiling.
Ianto chewed harder on the wristband, debating whether he should try to bring Monty along on his back. But no, the man was too weak as it was. Ianto left the room and turned left, where the scan told him a ladder was hidden, descending to the lower level. Howell’s song followed him through the darkness.
Because something is happening here.
In the silence left by Ianto’s absence, Monty stopped singing. Trapped halfway between delirium and hallucination, his senses nevertheless alerted him that something was wrong. Like an animal aware that a storm was on the horizon, he stared upward and waited.
But you don’t know what it is.
Too late, he realized the silence wasn’t complete. A slithering sound became apparent over the soft hiss of ventilation. Monty turned his head, seeing and not quite seeing as a silhouette stepped in from the right side of the door and filled the entryway.
“Do you, Mister Jones?”
Howell stepped into the room, half human and half beast. Monty let out a moan as the gas stopped flowing and he recognized the figure. “No, no,” he said. Howell grinned, his flashlight revealing the rows and rows of glowing teeth. His figure flickered, then solidified into human form. In his hand was a gleaming rod not unlike the one he and Tosh had discovered. He stepped closer, and Monty began struggling, but his head spun, and he lost his sense of direction every time he tried to think. Fever, he remembered Ianto saying. “Fever...”
“‘There must be some way out of here,’” Howell whispered, a sneer on his face, “said the joker to the thief.”
“No, go away, stay away.” Monty tried to push him back, but he might as well be pushing a building.
The device was cold as it pressed into his scalp. Howell’s lips brushed against Monty’s right ear.
There’s too much confusion. I can’t get no relief.
They had made it all the way to the lobby when the aliens attacked.
"I though you got them out of the hospital!" Jack screamed at Cuddy.
"I got the National Guard out! I didn't know there were more of them!" Cuddy screamed back as she shoved Chase's wheelchair hard, sending him careening down an opposite hallway and to relative safety. At the end, he tipped over, shouting all the while.
There were three of the aliens, and that was plenty. They hadn't bothered with their illusions and appeared exactly as they really were, giant and red and pulsating, with too many tentacles and a gaping maw. They whirled towards the group with a speed and precision that belied their appearance.
Cuddy picked up a chair. Cameron scrambled around for a weapon and came up with a keyboard, Jack pulled out one of the handguns he'd purloined earlier from an unconscious soldier and threw the other one to Owen. Wilson put his coat over his head and hid behind Cuddy.
"House!" Jack roared. "Take Owen with you and go! We'll catch up!"
House glanced around and decided that he probably didn't want to stay. "Uhh... Foreman! You come too!"
"Why me!" Foreman said, but didn't argue.
"Well, you're black, so you've probably been in tons of gang fights, right?"
"No!" Foreman shouted as the three of them used an opening Cuddy made for them by tossing her chair and escaped out the front doors.
"Right," Jack said grimly, once they'd gone. "Let's do this."
To Chapter 11: The Highly Unlikely But Otherwise Excellent Adventures of Gregory House and Friends
Back to Chapter 9: Part 2
Summary: Cuddy goes Rambo and Jack gets naked... that’s really all you need to know, isn’t it?