The Highly Unlikely But Otherwise Excellent Adventures of Gregory House and Friends
House navigated himself through the still gently smoking ruins that used to be the PPTH parking garage. He wasn't happy. It was well past midnight, and he should have been home over nine hours ago. If it weren't for the stupid aliens mind-linking him with that overzealous Captain, he would have said "screw it" and gone home anyway.
"Where are we going? We have to get to the governor's mansion!" Owen protested. House shushed him, but otherwise didn't make any indication he'd heard him. It was slow going, because House had to be careful picking his way through the wreckage with his leg, but they eventually came across a small clearing where the room had, amazingly, held up.
Right below it was a motorcycle with a sidecar.
"Wonderful!" said House, his face lighting up.
"You've got to be kidding me," groaned Foreman.
"Is that his motorcycle?" said Owen incredulously.
"Of course it is!" House beamed at it.
"He drives a motorcycle?" Owen asked Foreman.
"Apparently, the limp doesn't get in the way," Foreman explained.
"I can't believe it survived," said Owen, surveying the crushed cars all around them. Foreman shrugged.
"Someone up there hates me," he said.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" said House, already gunning the engine. "Get in!" He motioned to the sidecar.
"Oh, hell no!" said Owen. "I am not getting in that thing!"
"Since when do you have a sidecar?" said Foreman suspiciously.
"I bring it along on days I think I might get lucky," said House. "Now get in." Foreman sighed and gave up, climbing in.
"Ooooh, no," protested Owen. "No way am I getting in that thing! I have a deathly fear of motorcycle sidecars!"
House huffed dramatically. "Fine," he said. "Get behind me. But don't hold on too tight! That's the last thing I want."
Owen hesitated, then climbed carefully on. "Right!" said House, a little too gleefully. "Here we go!" He gunned the engine and shot forward through a giant hole in the wall and out the other side. The motorcycle landed, thankfully, on clear grass. House swerved to avoid a large block of concrete, then headed for the road.
"You're going too fast!" Owen wailed.
"Nonsense! Time is of the essence!" House shouted back over the roar of the engine. He ran a red light and took a corner going sixty, then sped up. Foreman was holding on for dear life but it was hard, since he really only had one arm to work with. The other kept flailing about wildly and trying to hug an invisible person in from of him as Owen panicked about the motorcycle.
"Stop flailing!" Foreman shouted to Owen. "You're making my arm go wild!"
"Sorry!" Owen said and tried to calm down. “Make me hold on tighter, then!”
"Heads up!" said House. "Aliens driving a truck at six o'clock!"
"Where?" said Foreman.
"Behind us!" said Owen.
"Shit," said Foreman. Owen pulled out his gun and aimed a shot at the oncoming delivery truck. It went through the windshield, but missed everyone inside. The driver looked human (though he probably wasn't), but the thing in the passenger's seat was definitely not.
Foreman ducked down into the sidecar, missing a blast of answering fire by less than an inch. Owen was having a hard time firing with only one hand to work with. He had very little time to aim before having to steady himself on the back of the motorcycle again.
"House! Stop driving so wildly! I can't aim!" he yelled.
"If I do they'll hit me!" House told him. "If they put marks on my motorcycle, they're going to PAY FOR IT!"
"Owen!" Foreman said. "Switch places with me!"
"Do it or we're all dead! You'll be able to aim from here!"
"Just do it!"
"We're going eighty miles an hour in town! I'll get thrown off at a curve!"
"Arg!" Foreman said in frustration, then grabbed Owen by the back of his jacket and threw him into the sidecar.
"AHHHH!" Owen screamed.
"Shut up and get off me so I can get out of this blasted thing!" Foreman told him. Owen continued panicking. House took a curve at a particularly dangerous angle and both of them almost flew out of the sidecar. "AHHHHH!" they shrieked together. Foreman used the recovering momentum to shove Owen off him and onto the tiny, dirty floor of the sidecar. Then he shakily stood and half-climbed, half-leapt onto the back of the motorcycle.
"Nice!" said House, approving of this daring move.
"Drive!" said Foreman. The truck was gaining on them. Another shot just barely missed. Owen was slowly and loudly recovering in the sidecar. "Stop yelling and get over it!" Foreman yelled at him. Owen stopped screaming but kept up a steady stream of gibbering noises even as he righted himself, turned around, and took aim.
Owen's next shot hit the alien in the passenger seat, but it didn't seem to hurt it at all.
"Shit!" he said. "A handgun isn't good enough for this!"
"It's all we've got, so shoot!" House shouted at him and ran through three more stop signs. A cop in a police car coming up from a side road saw him and the wildly swerving truck behind him, turned on his sirens, and began chasing after them.
"Great," said Foreman. "Just what we needed." Neither House nor Owen heard him over the roaring of the engines and the blaring sirens, but all three of them noticed when the truck swerved partially onto the sidewalk and took out a whole row of mailboxes.
"I don't think aliens make very good drivers!" said House over the din. By this point, shots were ringing out all around them, most just barely missing. One dinged off the sidecar causing Owen to squeak loudly and House to swear creatively.
"YOU'D BETTER BE PLANNING ON FIXING THAT!" he roared back, shaking his fist.
"Just drive, please!" Foreman said, hanging on for dear life. Owen fired another shot, which hit the driver in the chest. The truck swerved dramatically onto a lawn and almost hit a tree but was back on the road a couple seconds later.
"Nothing stops them!" Owen shouted. The cop had started firing his own gun at them, and as they rounded the next corner two more cop cars joined them, both with their sirens screaming.
"Hang on!" was the only warning House gave before turning the motorcycle sharply into a lightly wooded area.
"What! Are you doing!" shouted Owen, who had thrown himself to the bottom of the sidecar but was still clinging to it desperately to avoid being thrown out.
"Shortcut!" House shouted back. The truck burst explosively through the line of trees a second later.
"A shortcut through a forest?" shouted Foreman.
"I've always wanted to do this!" said House.
"You're insane!" cried Owen. House skillfully maneuvered the motorcycle around the larger trees, but the truck didn't bother. The police cars had apparently decided not to take the same route, but the faint continued sounds of the sirens told everyone they had gone to head them off at the end.
Thirty terrifying seconds later, House burst through the trees and back onto the road.
"Ah hah!" he proclaimed proudly. Owen gibbered. "We're almost to the highway!" The cop cars shot out from another road about forty yards behind him, and a second later the truck burst from the forest, right in front of them. They heard a crunching sound that indicated at least one of the cars hadn't been able to stop in time. House sped forward.
The truck was having difficulties turning back around the right way and House took full advantage of this. A cop had gotten out of his car and was shouting at the man driving. He apparently hadn't noticed the alien in the next seat.
"Shoot at them!" House said to Owen.
"No point! It'll just waste bullets!" Owen said. House turned a corner the next second anyway, and sped down another road. Less than a minute later they merged onto a highway, and not too far behind them the truck, which had gotten itself moving again, followed them.
One of its tires was shot out, and it was causing it to swerve even more wildly than before, sparks flying everywhere. Cars on either side moved to get out of its way and House sped up again and maneuvered himself between two semis.
"Shoot the tires!" Foreman shouted at Owen. Owen aimed a shot at one of the front tires and hit. The truck careened to the side and barely managed to avoid the ditch. It slowed down considerably.
Owen was shrieking non-stop once again at the two massive eighteen-wheelers on either side of them. House stepped on the gas and shot out in front of them at eighty miles an hour.
The truck was getting further and further behind them and either the aliens had run out of bullets or they'd decided House was out of range.
"They're persistent," Foreman commented, when the truck still didn't pull off the highway.
It was another ten heart-stoppingly horrifying minutes before House took an exit, cutting off a minivan as he did so. The minivan honked angrily, but House completely ignored it and also Owen, who was shouting obscenities at him.
When it was clear the truck wasn't going to catch up with them, House slowed minimally, but still took the opportunity to skid onto the lawn, leaving deep tire tracks, when they reached the mansion.
Owen leapt out instantly and took a couple wobbly steps before falling on his face, still cursing madly.
"That was fun!" said House brightly.
"It is dark out!" said Owen. "You need to drive carefully when it's dark out!"
"I think the pursuing aliens might have been the priority," said Foreman. "Still, I think the forest was overkill."
"Oh, shut up," said House. "I got us here, didn't I?"
A warbling squeal gave Ianto about a second’s warning to throw himself away from the malfunctioning droid before it exploded. Debris shattered in every direction, and he heard a clang like a gong, accompanied by a shrill scream, as the door of the cell tore from its hinges and embedded itself into a wall.
When the smoke cleared, he lowered the arm shielding his head and glanced over to find a gaping a hole in the floor where the doorway had been. Twisted metal shards lay everywhere while a few broken beams poked through the hole, red lights dancing on them from the flames below, making the whole scene resemble a huge cook pot that had just boiled over.
Toshiko was kneeling in the cell, hands still hovering in front of her face, as she parted a few fingers to glare at him from the other side of the wreckage. “I thought you said you were going to cut through the door,” she said. “I did not expect the door to try to cut through me.”
“Sorry. A fuse in the droid must have shorted and caused the power to overload.” He hesitated. “Can you climb over?”
Tosh did not bother looking at the hole. Instead, she squinted and peered at something behind him. “Was that the escape route?” she asked.
Ianto turned around and instead of seeing the glowing compartment of a lift waiting to whisk them back above ground, was confronted with a dark, brick-lined shaft. “Where’d the lift go?” he said, aware his voice had gone up a pitch or so.
A loud crash answered his question, sounding like it’d traveled a long distance. Tosh lifted an eyebrow, imitating him perfectly. “I think,” she said, “the appropriate question now is: ‘Can we climb down?’”
Ianto shuffled to the edge and looked down. Though the way looked hazardous, the jagged metal almost formed a ladder, and the floor below appeared stable. “We should go back for Monty, then.”
“Monty?” Tosh’s eyes went wide. “He’s here? In the cells?”
Ianto nodded. “He’s delirious from his injuries, and they’ve been gassing him with hallucinogens. I guess it’s a good thing they don’t know you got out of Hell.”--Tosh grimaced at the recollection--“ I was going to go back for him once we got medication, but since the lift is gone, it’ll be better if we carry him along.”
Tosh put a hand to her mouth, as though she were about to cry, but she just nodded. “All right, let’s hurry.”
“There’s a ladder not far from here leading...” Ianto stopped. His hand went to his belt for a gun he did not have.
Tosh balanced herself against the edge of the wall and peered over. “What’s wrong? I...” she gasped. Her voice went flat. “He doesn’t look very delirious to me.”
Emerging into the light of the flames, Monty strode toward them like a cat stalking prey. His face was expressionless but the gun he pointed at Ianto expressed plenty. He paused a meter away and gave him a quavering smile. “I’ve never shot anyone before,” Monty said. The safety went off with a click.
Tosh screamed, a primal thing filled with rage and pain that sent Ianto reeling back to memories of another alien invasion, of the attack in London and the months of pain and betrayal that followed. If it hadn’t been for that, he wouldn’t have paid so much attention to Monty, but he remembered those moments, the need to believe all his love had not been for naught, and so when Tosh threw herself over the pit, soaring a superhuman distance to close the gap between herself and the man who had destroyed her heart, he saw Monty’s entire body quiver for just a moment, as though he were fighting off a freezing wind, before he whirled around, took aim at the new threat and fired.
Tracy studied her cards. She had a seven of spades and a queen of clubs, which was quite good in her mind, even if the table was showing her a four and nine of hearts, along with a jack of diamonds. “We’re all winners as long as we think positive,” she said to Bilis, who was twitching as he glared at his cards. When they’d started the game, Tracy had threatened that if she so much as suspected he was bending time and space to cheat, she would beat him senseless with the jar of cotton swabs.
“I meet your tongue depressor and raise you a box of sample allergy pills,” she announced, pushing forward the specified items. She grinned. Bilis would have to go all in to match her wager, as he only had two cotton swabs and a band-aid left.
Bilis’ eyelids fluttered as he stared at the cards. He lay them down on the table and removed from his pocket an antique stopwatch hanging on a gold chain. It swung as though trying to hypnotize her. “May I interest you in allowing me to substitute my wager with this authentic 1700 Swiss--”
Tracy slapped the table. “No items of monetary value allowed! Gambling is bad and, in New Jersey, attracts mobsters within thirty-one point four seven seconds.”
“I think you’re bluffing.”
“Then go all in.”
Bilis shook his head. “I fold.” He revealed his hand, a two of diamonds and five of clubs. They discovered that, had the game continued, Tracy would’ve gotten a straight. Bilis glowered. “Your luck is unbelievable.”
“Actually, it’s karma. A fortune-teller told me that in my last life, I was a butterfly in Russia where human error nearly caused them to launch two hundred nuclear warheads at the United States, but I flew into the mainframe and caused the computer to catch on fire, saving hundreds of millions of lives in the process. Oh look, it appears a portion of the wall has teleported away.”
Bilis turned around in time to see a flash of light, followed by the wall--and accompanying pieces of furniture nailed to it--deciding that the room should get a better look at the natural landscape outside. A helicopter piloted by aliens foiled the wall’s plan by blocking the view.
“How unpleasant,” Bilis commented. “Tracy, be a dear, please, and hand me the sample of nasal spray.” Tracy obliged. Bilis walked up to the edge of the room, ignoring the blades spinning centimeters from his head. “Hello, mind if I join you?” he asked. He blinked into the space between the two occupants of the cockpit and sprayed the contents of the bottle into the pilot’s eyeballs.
The alien let out a pitched scream and the helicopter jerked a bit too close to the room. The blades caught the ceiling tiles and shattered, but by the time the helicopter started exploding, Bilis had teleported back next to Gwen and Tracy and pushed them out of the room.
They dashed down the hall, followed by tongues of flame as the roar of the explosion rushed down the hall, rattling windows and shaking doors, though Tracy found the atmosphere of their daring escape ruined somewhat by the fact that Gwen had started snoring.
“I thought the fabulous Rambo doctor had taken care of the menace,” Bilis said.
“She only got rid of the National Guard. I assume the aliens answer to a higher authority than Governor Streed.”
“I don’t believe anyone answers to Governor Streed any longer.”
“That’s beside the point! The question is what they want with us!”
“I believe Ms. Cooper is the only one of us on the wanted list.”
Tracy was about to comment that it was a good thing they were now deep in the hospital when the ceiling collapsed on them. She screamed as a cart fell toward them, but it stopped just inches above her head, hovering as though time had stopped, before soaring back upward again.
“What the--” Tracy began, but then she realized her feet were no longer touching the ground. “Oh.”
The three of them soared upward past the third floor, through the gaping hole in the ceiling and up into the sky. Thankfully, Gwen’s gurney and IV accompanied the patient in flight. Less thankfully, pieces of plaster and empty syringes floated about them as though caught in a tornado. A squawking chicken slammed into Bilis’ back before being sucked up ahead of them.
A flying saucer loomed overhead, only the aliens appeared to have taken the etymological suggestion of the phrase far too seriously, for it was literally a floating saucer with what appeared, from their rapidly approaching perspective beneath it, to be a teacup placed on top. Tracy decided she did not want to spend the rest of the night as a sugar cube, so she grabbed hold of Gwen’s gurney and swiveled to face Bilis. Judging by the fact that everything was rising in a cone with the tip originating from the center of the saucer, now was a good time to apply Newton’s Third Law and push each other out of the levitation beam. She told this to Bilis, who did not seem to think this was a good idea, on account of the fact that they were a hundred feet above the hospital and rising.
“Do you have a better idea?” she yelled over the roar of rushing air.
“Yes,” Bilis replied. He grabbed both of them and the surroundings turned into a beach next to a sapphire blue ocean. Palm trees swayed in the warm breeze, and a falling coconut knocked Bilis unconscious.
“Great,” Tracy said. “How are we going to get back?”
Gwen replied by drooling on her hand. Tracy did not find this disturbing, as she was a nurse and saw this sort of thing on a regular basis, but she did wipe the saliva off on Bilis’ coat. His fingers twitched like a closing bear trap, and Tracy screamed. The man showed no other signs of consciousness, but she realized her hand was being pulled slowly but inexorably, like a pink and well-manicured glacier, toward Bilis’ face. It was like a vampire movie gone horribly wrong.
“Is that the smell of Ms. Gwen Cooper?” Bilis said, inhaling with the force of a vacuum cleaner and about as much noise. “It is like the scent of ambrosia sent down from heaven.” He raised his head and looked over. “I must have teleported us into the future whereupon they have recognized her as the beguiling nymph that she is and turned her essence into perfume so that every woman can possess a drop of pure, raw, animal sexuality.”
“She drooled on me.”
“Ah,” Bilis said, pressing her hand against his cheek. “I live for the day that I can sample that nectar from its source.”
Now Tracy was disturbed. She resolved the demands of this unpleasant emotion by slapping him. He jerked to the side, struck his temple against a seashell and lost consciousness again.
Several minutes later, a passing tourist was treated to the sight of a tall, blonde American in a lab coat shoving an elderly man’s face into the armpit of an unconscious young woman who was wearing nothing but a hospital smock, all while screaming, “Smell her, goddammit! Smell her and wake up!”
They were in Cancun, which meant the tourist continued on his way and forgot the entire incident by breakfast.
There were plenty of fallen chairs to go around and Cuddy grabbed another one as soon as House, Owen, and Foreman were out the door.
"Stop being a wimp," she snapped to Wilson, who was trying to hide behind her.
"I'm a doctor!" he said indignantly. "Not a soldier!"
"You battle cancer, don't you?"
"It's totally not the same!"
One of the aliens said something that sounded extremely foreign into a futuristic-looking walkie-talkie.
"What did he say?" Cameron asked Jack.
"How should I know? I don't speak ugly-ese!"
"I told my colleagues outside," the largest alien spoke up somewhat indistinctly, "to go after your friends." He grinned toothily--or at least, it looked like a grin to them.
"Well thanks for letting us know that," said Jack sarcastically and then shot the alien in what he thought was probably the head.
His shot took out four of the alien's massive teeth and buried itself in the back of its mouth, but the creature just grinned awfully at them and seemed not even a little harmed.
"Oh," said Wilson.
"Guess we're going to have to get creative," said Jack. "No one's got any serious explosives on them, do they?" No one answered him. Two of the aliens started closing in with a speed and grace that belied their considerable bulk. The smallest of the three, also the one that was the lightest shade of red, stayed behind and started tinkering with something ominous-looking.
Jack, Wilson, Cuddy, and Cameron all backed up as the other two approached. "Get ready!" Jack shouted just before he fired the rest of the round into the largest alien. All four shots hit point blank but the monster barely slowed. Cuddy chucked a chair at it and that gave it a bit more trouble; it tried to bat the chair away with a tentacle, but instead the chair sort of stuck to it.
"Good idea," said Jack sarcastically. "Give it a battering ram!"
"Got a better one, Captain Trigger?" Cuddy retorted. Cameron whacked at flying tentacles with her keyboard until one stuck to it like velcro and almost took her arm with it.
"Are they magnetic or something?" she asked, casting about for a new weapon and frantically ducking tentacles.
“Keyboards aren’t made of metal!”
Jack tapped Cuddy on the shoulder. “I don’t know who’s in charge of inventory here, but they look metallic to me.”
Wilson was pelting the aliens with small objects from behind the counter. The aliens were accumulating a collection of spoons, needles, scalpels, watches, pens, and other items upon their skin, while things like pencils and wads of paper fell to the floor.
"They weren't magnetic before!" Jack said, confused. "I'd have noticed. That isn't helping, Dr. Wilson!"
"Well, what do you want me to do? If bullets couldn't stop it, I sure can't!"
"Anything but that! They just look like really bad collages now!"
Indeed, the two aliens, who seemed to prefer staying at a distance and letting their long-reaching tentacles do the fighting, were slowly getting covered in random crap and were looking sillier and sillier.
"Maybe they're only magnetic under certain circumstances," Cuddy suggested in between swipes with a new chair.
"Maybe it has something to do with what that one's doing," said Cameron, pointing at the third alien, who looked like it was constructing something dubious.
"Oh no!" said Jack.
"What is it?"
A tentacle nearly took off Cameron's head, and another bruised Wilson's arm when he tried to hit it away.
"It's an earthquake machine!"
"Oh, come off it," said Cuddy.
"This is getting nowhere," said Wilson, staring at the two creatures, who were making weird growling noises that probably constituted some strange alien battle cry.
"Run!" said Cameron, who suddenly ducked behind Cuddy and ran towards the elevator. The others followed, some with difficulty, but this hallway wasn't for storage rooms and so it was thin, and the aliens were not, and though they tried they couldn't follow.
"Where are you going?" asked Cuddy.
"Regrouping!" said Cameron. "We need to find better weapons!"
Behind them the aliens gave up trying to reach them and went in another direction.
"That worries me. I wonder where they're going," said Wilson.
"No, really," said Jack, sounding wounded. "It is an earthquake machine."
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
"It causes small, localized earthquakes by tapping into the rock below the surface dirt and vibrating it at a high frequency! They're not real earthquakes in the sense that they don't have anything to do with tectonic plates, but they act in the same way!"
"Fine. Supposing I believe you, just how dangerous is it?"
"Well, I didn't get a good look at it, but I'd say it'll probably do a circle with a diameter of just under a mile and with the hospital at the focal point, well, equate it to a five or six on the Richter Scale."
"So bad enough to knock down a building?"
"Yeah, especially since they don't take that long to charge between quakes."
Cameron ducked into a room and came out with two brooms and a mop. She tossed the mop to Wilson and a broom to Cuddy. "Better than nothing." She shrugged.
"What about me?" said Jack.
"Oh, right. Here." She tossed him a dustpan.
"And what, exactly, am I supposed to do with this?" said Jack dryly, eyeing the plastic dustpan.
"Make it up as you go! We have to destroy that stupid machine before it brings down the whole hospital!" said Cuddy. "There are still lots of civilians in here!"
"Why wasn't everyone evacuated?" Jack asked her reproachfully as she took off down another hallway.
"You were there! How were we supposed to evacuate people when the National Guard had the place under quarantine?" Cuddy snapped at him.
"Where are we going?" said Cameron.
"If you go this way, it loops around back to the lobby," answered Wilson as they took a right. "How long will it take them to set that machine up?" he added. They were all forced to leap over several piles of broken glass where some of the numerous windows had shattered, but it didn't take them long to get back to the lobby, which was even more chaotically messy than before. The two aliens not working on the machine had lost interest in the escaped group and were systematically breaking all the glass that wasn't already broken.
"Why are they doing that? Get them away from my hospital!" Cuddy cried. Then she charged at the nearest one and whacked it repeatedly with her broom. The thing didn't pay her any attention except to sweep her several feet away with a stray tentacle, as though she were nothing more than a fly.
Wilson dodged one tentacle and shielded himself from one with his mop, but the third one caught him right in the stomach and knocked him over.
"Stop!" Jack hadn't bothered with the two knocking down walls and had instead rushed at the one with the machine. He didn't get very far; there was some sort of invisible force field surrounding the device and the mechanic alien. The force of it, however, knocked the dustpan from his hands and sent it flying across the floor where is struck the bottom of the machine. "Must be hardwired so only living creatures can't get through," Jack said, poking at the force field.
A spark flew from the machine. The alien didn't notice, but Jack did, and he ran straight back over to the others. "The casing's cracked," he whispered to Wilson, who was still picking himself up off the floor. "Go find water! That thing may be extremely advanced, but it still runs on your average electricity!"
Wilson nodded and fled back the way they'd come.
It didn't matter. A second later, the mechanic alien flicked a switch and, slowly at first, the whole building started to shake.
As was customary after crashes, a wheel fell off the wheelchair and rolled past Chase’s head. It navigated its way into a stairwell and bounced all the way down, smashing some glass at the bottom. Surprisingly, there was no yowling cat.
Chase sat up, rubbing his head and feeling like he’d been run over by a stampede of gazelles--specifically gazelles, because they could not only trample but jump up and down a lot too. Bright lights and screams came from the far end of the hallway, and Chase decided he should be thankful Cuddy had pushed him away like a murderer shoving a car with the body in it into a lake.
He was looking for an alternative form of transportation when an elderly lady drove past in a mechanized wheelchair. He caught her eye, and she drove up to him, parking on his foot. He winced but it was not his injured foot, though if she remained on it much longer, it might join the ranks of body parts that hated him right now.
“Are you my daughter?” the woman asked.
“What?” Chase said. Then he remembered he was still in Cameron’s body. He wondered when he’d stopped noticing. “No, I’m afraid not. I work here.”
“I’m sorry, you’re going to have to speak louder!”
Chase bent over so that he was level with her and yelled, “I am not your daughter!”
She stared at him, and he wondered if she still hadn’t heard, but then she grabbed him by the ear. “Stop with that stupid, fake Australian accent, Ingrid. You’re not fooling anyone. Trying to disown your mother, how disgraceful! You come with me right this instant!”
She drove off with Chase in tow, her grip on his ear lobe strong as a vise.
“Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!” he screamed, hopping as fast as he could to keep up, but she didn’t pay him any attention.
They rounded the corner and Chase was confronted with the sight of forty senior citizens in wheel chairs all lined up in five neat lines. They were each brandishing a cane like a battle axe.
“I have found Ingrid!” the woman exclaimed, releasing Chase. He turned and tried to run, but she hooked his leg with her cane and sent him sprawling. “Ingrid shall lead us into battle against the terrors that have consumed this forsaken hospital.”
“Why me?” Chase whimpered.
“Because you are young and virile! My Ingrid is like a valkyrie warrior woman.”
“Technically, valkyries collect the dead from battlefields.”
His supposed mother ignored him. Turning back to her rapt--or maybe sleeping, it was hard to tell the difference--audience, she let out an ululating battle cry, choked in the middle, paused to catch her breath, had to use her asthma medication, remembered it was time for her calcium supplement, took her calcium supplement, had to clean her false teeth after taking the calcium supplement, felt cold and made Chase fetch her a blanket, forgot she’d taken her calcium supplement, felt an overriding urge to go to the bathroom and did that instead.
Chase attempted to use her absence to sneak off, but the others raised such an uproar that Ingrid charged out, beat him over the head with her cane and left again. He was beginning to despair when the entire hospital started shaking. The floor tilted, sending the entire battalion sliding down the hall. Chase took the opportunity to stagger away as fast as he could.
An armada of flying saucers were descending upon Drumthwacket, numbering in the hundreds. They were all pink. House counted five that had kitten designs on them and seven that had frolicking puppies chasing butterflies. He thought there was one with a group of kittens beating up a puppy, but it disappeared before he could verify the sighting.
They were all design coordinated with the teacups they were carrying.
“The British are coming!” House exclaimed.
“I happen to drink coffee,” Owen snapped.
“I thought you were Welsh.”
“Wales is part of Great Britain!”
“Cut the geography lesson!” Foreman yelled. “We have bigger problems.”
“Is it me,” said Owen, “or have those cups started steaming?”
“Shit,” House and Foreman said at the same time. They glared at each other, but House shook his head and said, “There’s no time for this. Get back on the bike.” For once, there were no complaints as the two piled in, shoving and kicking for space. House climbed onto the motorcycle and gunned the engine.
“Are those attack dogs?” Foreman said, pointing at brown shapes darting around the corners of the mansion.
Owen groaned. “This just gets better and better.”
“Hang on!” House yelled, and they streaked across the lawn, leaving a trail of upturned grass in their wake. The teacups swerved to cut them off, forcing House to veer into a ninety degree turn as the first one to intersect their path upturned, pouring down a cascade of boiling tea. The murky liquid splashed in all directions, but the dogs just leapt through the spray, their fur protecting them from the heat and occasional errant droplet.
Several teacups increased speed, soaring overhead before spilling over. Columns of tea slammed down from the sky, forcing House to swerve and dodge. House tried to imagine they were just trees in a forest, but trees didn’t tend to curve in your direction and try to scald you.
“Are these more hallucinations or will bullets be able to harm them?” House asked Owen.
“I can try, but they’re too high up right now!”
As if on cue, the teacups that had emptied their contents descended from the sky. The saucers started spinning, and a foot-long blades extended all along their perimeters.
“We’re going to get killed by a Disney ride!” Foreman moaned as the teacups fell into a revolving formation around the motorcycle and sidecar. One dropped back, giving House a moment of relief before he saw the saucer allow one of the dogs to leap onto it. The ship swooped back, and the dog soared through the air onto Foreman.
The canine’s added weight caused the sidecar to sink deeper into the grass, slowing them down long enough for the saucer behind to draw terrifyingly close. Owen screamed and opened fire, using clip after clip of ammo, but the bullets bounced off.
“Forget the teacup! Shoot the dog!” Foreman screamed, pushing back the hound as its claws scrabbled against the back of the sidecar and its teeth drew closer and closer to his face. “And help me push, damn you! I can’t hold it back with one arm!” Owen swung his aim at the dog, but the car was too cramped and Foreman found himself staring into the barrel. “Not me! The dog! Not me!”
The hound snapped at Owen. In his haste to jerk his arm away, he lost his grip on the gun and it landed in the grass.
House pressed harder on the acceleration, and a spray of dirt covered the teacup behind them. The sudden increase in speed sent the dog flying, and it soared over the teacup to land in front of the pursuing pack, causing the other hounds to trip and fall into a heap.
The dirtied saucer wobbled, emitting panicky squeaking sounds. House cheered: “I think the dirt covered its vision!” The saucer dipped too much, and the front caught the ground. Soil burst in every direction as the ship flipped. The teacup fell off, bouncing across the grass and slamming into another saucer, causing it to explode. Fighting against instinct, House turned in the direction of the ball of flame, knowing that he’d be sliced to pieces if he went any other direction.
The tumbling saucer fired off its engines in an attempt to remain in pursuit. That unexpected action, combined with the turn, gave it enough speed to catch up with them just as it flipped onto its side, becoming a spinning saw blade that cut straight between him and the screaming duo. It severed the sidecar’s connection, causing it to careen off on its own.
The confusion allowed them to slip between the blades and continue in a path that led straight to the front entrance of the mansion. Lucky bastards, thought House as he watched the attack dogs regroup and chase after them instead.
The teacups started closing their circle, and House could hear the blades whirring. Shit, he thought, and realizing he had no option, he swerved once more, leaning so hard the bike fell on its side. His momentum carried him through the dirt straight under one of the incoming saucers. Small strands of his own hair drifted past like snow as one of the blades came a little too close for comfort.
As soon as he was past, he kicked with his good leg, glad he’d taken the effort to exercise it in the past few weeks, and righted the bike. The saucers reversed course and darted for him even as he raced for the mansion. He saw Foreman and Owen each trying to steer the sidecar by leaning to the side, except they were leaning in opposite directions. The car smashed into the stairs of the front porch and made it up two steps before flipping over and crashing through the front door. Owen and Foreman went in next, followed by the dogs.
The saucers zoomed forward, attempting to regroup. A teacup above deposited its contents and melted the one closest to House, but then his luck ran out. Instead of attempting to close a circle on him, they began darting, one after another, each making a separate attempt to slice off parts of his body. House weaved and two crashed into each other. He immediately smashed the brakes, causing a third to overshoot and slam into one of the teacups awaiting its turn to attack. They exploded, and the gout of flame caught one of the recently emptied saucers descending to replace its destroyed peers.
House knew the aliens would get their act together soon, but just as each pass was growing too close for comfort, the saucers lifted off as one and retreated. The sounds of splashing died away, replaced by the hissing and bubbling of tea boiling grass. The smell was disgusting.
House slowed down and realized he had reached the mansion. They must not want to damage it. Looking up, he put his thumbs in his ears and blew a raspberry at the circling teacups, waggling his remaining fingers. One of the saucers descended again, and he directed his scorn at it until he realized it was flipping on its side behind one of the downed ships.
“Uh oh.” He threw himself to the side and the saucer began spinning like mad, fanning the flames until a funnel shot straight at House. It missed him by inches, and he expected the saucer to perfect its aim at any time, but the inferno died away without moving. Getting up, he realized it had been a parting shot; they wouldn’t risk setting the house on fire.
He smelled burning plastic and looked down to see the sticker on his cane smoldering. “Yes!” he exclaimed. He was rid of that damned “World’s Greatest Grandma” logo. Then he looked closer and saw that it now read “World’s Grandma” instead. “That,” he growled, “does not help.”
Tosh slammed into Monty at the same time Ianto grabbed his wrist, twisting it and forcing the gun from his hand. Monty made no sound except a soft “oomph” as he hit the ground. He swung at Tosh and threw her off him, sending her three meters down the hall. Then he turned to Ianto and used his free hand to start choking him. His strength was astonishing, and Ianto knew he had seconds before his windpipe collapsed.
“Monty, stop it!” Tosh screamed. She brought a piece of sheet metal down on his head, and he whirled around, grabbing her instead. He threw her against a wall and pressed down on her throat. Ianto ran over and tried to pull him off, but it was like attempting to move a stone statue. “No,” Tosh gasped, tears streaming down her face. “This isn’t you. I believe you, Monty.”
Ianto hoped she was right. At the last minute, Monty’s aim had gone awry, turning what was certain death from a shot to the heart into a graze along Tosh’s shoulder. That, and the superhuman strength he was displaying now, was more than proof enough that Monty was not himself. The question was whether he could regain control in time.
Monty pulled away, and Tosh dropped to the ground from where she’d been pinned. “Monty?” she asked, staring into his eyes. He blinked, face seeming to regain expression, but then he began to glow.
“Tosh,” he gasped. “I’m sorry.” He fell apart before their eyes, transforming into tiny pinpoints of light which rushed away up the lift shaft. Tosh ran after them, but Ianto grabbed her arm.
“He teleported,” he said. “The aliens teleported him out. But he’s still alive.”
“We have to find him!” She stamped her foot in frustration. “I didn’t trust him, Ianto. I should’ve, but I didn’t.”
Ianto pulled her close and patted her back. “It’s all right. It’ll work out.”
Tosh nodded, stepping back. She stood straighter and brushed her hair from her face. Even with tear stains still fresh on her cheeks, she was the picture of determination, and she strode to the hole in the ground and began climbing down. Ianto picked up Monty’s gun and scurried after her.
The next floor down was a twisting maze lined with wires and pipes that Ianto would have assumed were service tunnels for the mansion if they weren’t so huge and so far below ground. The ceiling loomed overhead, twice as far up as the height of any human, and the width was enough to accommodate two trucks. He assumed it was meant for the aliens, which were bulkier than most people, and the size of the passage meant it held special importance.
“I see a light up ahead,” Tosh whispered.
Ianto consulted the wristband. “Heavy concentration of alien tech but no signs of life.”
“I didn’t see anything when they caught me either. Can you be sure it’s not a hallucination?”
Ianto put the wristband in his mouth and looked around. “No, it’s all real,” he said, taking it out again and wiping it clean on his pant leg. It annoyed him to use his suit in such a way, but Jack’s clothing held higher priority.
Tosh gave him an odd look, so he felt compelled to explain why he was using a piece of 51st century technology as a pacifier. When he finished, Tosh had a gleam in her eye that he saw whenever she had a new piece of tech to play with, but she didn’t say anything else.
The source of the lighting was a dead end room, but blinking consoles lined the walls and dishes that looked like satellites hung from the domed ceiling. Wires and electrical cables flowed out of the computers to lead into a single circular pad about two meters in radius at the center of the room. Tosh cleared her throat and held a hand out. Ianto handed the wristband over.
“All right, these appear to be the standard controls, but over here we have long-range neutrino controls and a quantum interferometer,” she muttered. “So if I press this and this and enter these equations... aha!”
“It’s a stasis transmat. We’ve seen the aliens use ordinary teleports, but this is required if you’re breaking apart and reconstituting hazardous or unstable materials. It freezes time on items in transit, bypassing common side effects of teleportation that could trigger a reaction.”
“Does it transport life forms as well?”
“Yes.” Tosh went over to one of the panels and interfaced the console with the wristband. “The log shows that two aliens accompany each shipment of whatever they use this for. The environment on the other side is safe for humans.”
“Can we use it to teleport back into the mansion?”
Tosh sighed. “No. It appears to be a fixed-end transmit. It would take me days to recalibrate it for generic egress, and even then, I might just break it.”
“Where does it lead?”
“It won’t say.” She hesitated. “I guess we’ll have to step through and find out.”
Ianto checked the chamber of Monty’s gun. Two bullets left. Well, it was better than nothing. “I’ll go through first,” he said.
Tosh shook her head. “Access requires identity verification. I can use the wristband to hack the system, but that means anywhere we go, we have to go together.”
“All right. Together then.”
Tosh’s fingers flew across the keyboard. “Got it. Five seconds until activation.” She disconnected the wristband, and they dashed onto the pad. “Three, two, one...”
The room blinked out of existence, then came back, looking exactly the same. Then Tosh pointed at the entrance and saw a door there where the corridor had been. She positioned herself by the knob, gave him a count down on her fingers, then threw it open. He charged through, gun drawn, and was struck by a blast of heat, as though he’d run into a furnace.
“Dear god,” he said. Tosh came through the door and gasped. They stood at the start of a long catwalk that twisted and turned through a facility that stretched on and on, farther than the eye could see. Vats of molten metal glowed beneath them while troughs carried olive green sludge through various pieces of machinery, each powered my thousands of parts spinning and swinging and slamming together. Further down, rows of conveyer belts carried gleaming silver objects along what appeared to be assembly lines, and spider droids darted along the floor and up columns, overseeing the entire operation.
“It’s like an industrial waste plant,” he whispered.
“And much more,” Tosh added. “They’re manufacturing something using the trash of human society.”
“BRAIN,” Ianto said. “Yvonne once had some scientists draw up theoretical schematics for a device that might utilize BRAIN. Some of them looked a lot like what’s coming off that assembly line there, and it tallies with everything we know so far. We need to call Jack at once. Do you still have your phone?”
Tosh nodded. “I still have everything with me. I think they were confident I wouldn’t wake up.” She paused. “Wait, the alien device is missing!”
Ianto shrugged. “I’m not sure it matters at this point. I’d guess they have lots more. Let’s report back. Where do you think we are?”
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.”
“Just tell me?”
Tosh handed the wristband over. On the screen was a map, and right in the middle was a flashing red dot labeled: “Washington DC Botanical Gardens.”
The quaking caused Jack to overbalance and fall on his rear.
This turned out to be a good thing, because less than a second later an entire computer flew right over his head and fixed itself not so gently to the bulbous alien behind him. It roared. Jack's gun flew out of his pocket and copied the computer, and so did every other metal object within fifteen feet.
Cuddy shrieked in surprise when her wristwatch did the same and effectively stuck her to one of the aliens. She struggled to undo it amidst the chaos. The wall the aliens had been hacking at abruptly collapsed and neatly buried the alien behind Jack. Cuddy's was trying to rid itself of all the objects stuck to it; it was obvious that the aliens hadn't bargained for this themselves.
At the other end of the room the mechanic alien was having similar problems. It was holding down a small lever which was causing the earthquake to continue but it was having a hard time keeping it pulled because of all the junk flying at it and the general shakiness of the area.
It was only a couple more seconds before its tentacle slipped and the lever righted itself, and the room abruptly stopped shaking.
Jack carefully got to his feet. Behind him, the aliens' sudden magnetism dropped from extremely high to merely abnormally high, and most of the larger junk started falling off.
Cuddy finally managed to detach herself and threw herself backwards just in time to avoid getting hit by the flying pieces of debris caused when the buried alien exploded upwards, freeing itself.
"Cameron!" Jack called. "Where are you?"
"Here!" Cameron had hidden under a desk that had ended up toppling over onto her, but it wasn't too heavy and she was uninjured.
"I got it!" said Wilson, panting as he ran back down the corridor with a bucket only half-filled with water. "There was an earthquake! I only barely managed to avoid spilling all of it!"
"No good! We need more," said Jack. "Go get another bucket, get as much as you can! Cameron, go with him. Dr. Cuddy and I will hold them off." Jack dumped the water on the floor near the aliens.
"What are you planning?" Cuddy asked him.
"No time to explain," Jack said. "I just hope they don't have any of the properties of rubber...."
The mechanic alien had recovered and, at that moment, pulled the lever again.
"Make him stop!" Cuddy shouted. "He's ruining my hospital!"
"I'm a little disturbed that I have to tell you this, but I think your hospital is already pretty ruined," said Jack. He fell down again. "Oh no! My pants are all wet!"
Cuddy grabbed a large glass paperweight and started crawling across the floor, trying to avoid the once-again flying metal objects while doing so. When she got close enough, she chucked the paper weight at the alien's tentacle and hit soundly. The alien made a screeching noise and let go of the lever. Everything stopped shaking again, but another wall looked near collapse and the floor was covered in broken glass.
Cuddy started chucking pens and large pieces of glass and whatever she could reach at the alien with the machine, hoping to hold it off. Jack stood again, ran over to her, and dragged her up.
"Come on! You have to get out of here!"
"Just trust me! There!" He guided her down the storage hallway, then sprinted back into the lobby just as Wilson and Cameron were arriving again, carrying three buckets of water.
"Great! Give those to me and follow Dr. Cuddy!" He wasted no time in waiting to make sure they'd obey, but splashed the water onto the floor.
"What--!" Wilson started, but Cameron grabbed him.
"Move!" she roared and dragged him out of the lobby. Jack threw the second bucket down, then took a deep breath and hurled the last one through the force field where it poured its contents all over the earthquake machine.
There was a loud PZZZZZAAAAPPPPPP noise, then quiet. Cameron took a stop towards the lobby, but Cuddy stopped her.
"You don't want to do that," she said.
"What about Jack?"
Four minutes later Jack stumbled down the hallway, looking a little bit singed.
"Electricity has got to be one of my least favorite ways to go," he said, grinning at them.
"What?" said Cameron.
"Well," began Cuddy.
"No time!" interrupted Jack. "We've got to catch up with House!"
Tracy collapsed onto the beach, exhausted from her efforts. Bilis remained face-down in the sand next to Gwen, and he was making odd moaning sounds which made Tracy think it was best to drag him away from her patient. Once she had completed this, she sat down again and kicked sand at Bilis.
“You know Gwen’s condition is still critical, right?” she said, wishing she had a stress ball with her right now. “We need to get her back to the hospital as soon as possible.”
Bilis popped up like a Jack-in-a-Box. “Ms. Cooper is in danger! We must be away!”
Tracy had enough time to roll her eyes before he grabbed her, the gurney and Gwen and teleported.
They found themselves on the Eiffel Tower. “Oh,” Bilis said, glancing at Gwen in her hospital gown. “I’m afraid I forgot the situation. You see, I was dreaming we were here in Paris. Together. Naked.”
“Get us back to Princeton!” Tracy shrieked.
They materialized in front of the hospital just in time for a man in a greatcoat to crash into Gwen’s gurney and tumble over it, falling in a heap at Tracy’s feet. Captain Jack Harkness groaned.
“What the hell are you doing out here?” Cuddy asked as she caught up, followed by Wilson and Cameron.
One story up, Chase appeared in the only clinic room that had a floor-to-ceiling view of the landscape. “Where’d the wall go?” he screamed, his voice echoing against the ruins of the parking garage.
Bilis teleported up. “Don’t be silly, my dear. Why would a wall go anywhere?” They vanished and reappeared beside the group.
“You were supposed to keep Gwen safe,” Jack said, dusting himself off.
“Aliens came for her. Given the situation, she’s in as good a condition as anyone can hope.”
“Uh,” said Cameron. “She’s also awake.”
To Interlude: Modus Operandi
Back to Chapter 10: Do You, Mr. Jones?
Summary: Cuddy and Jack fight off an earthquake while killer teacups attack House and try to kidnap Gwen. Chase is abducted by an old woman. Ianto and Tosh continue to live in soap opera land.