Words Fly Up
House parked his motorcycle just inside the house and took a moment to mourn for his sidecar, which was still outside and would never be functional again, even if he could retrieve it. Then he turned and took in the large foyer, wondering where to go next.
He heard dual screams getting closer and closer but ignored them in favor of trying to memorize the lay of the room for later use. Owen and Foreman shot past him, their screams echoing with the Doppler effect as they turned a corner. A second later a pack of loudly barking dogs streaked past him in hot pursuit.
"Huh," House remarked to himself. "Well, as long as they're keeping themselves entertained."
He decided to ignore the obvious difficulty the stairs would present and explore the ground level. He could hear the aliens disembarking from their silly spaceships and concluded that he'd better pick a destination quickly. There was a nice-looking door to his right and upon opening it he found himself in another hallway.
"Goodie." He frowned. He could still hear screaming and barking in the distance, but it sounded like they were getting closer again. He took a couple steps forward and sure enough, both Owen and Foreman burst from one of the doors in front of them, trying to elbow each other out of the way.
They quickly went through the opposite door and the dogs soon followed, although this time one of them noticed House and split off from the pack. House deftly and precisely hit it over the head with his cane as it charged. It fell to the floor and drooled.
"Yuck." House grimaced when some of the drool got on his shoe. He took the door Owen and Foreman had come from.
He was in a dining room of some sort. "Where the hell is that slimy colonel?" House muttered. "And where the hell is Harkness? I thought he was catching up!" He was still getting mental feedback from Jack but it was really just a lot of panic and some bizarre snippets regarding an earthquake. House didn't know what that was supposed to mean because he certainly hadn't felt any earthquake. His grumbling was interrupted when a man entered through an open door on the opposite wall.
House instantly noted that something was off about the man and ducked under the table before he could be seen. This man was walking a little jerkily, as though he wasn't quite used to his body yet. Alien, thought House.
As soon as the disguised alien got close enough, House flipped his cane out and deftly tripped it. Then he brought the cane down heavily on top of the correct spot on the alien's head. It passed out.
In the back of his mind the panic over earthquakes calmed down. House wondered if everyone had found a secret stash of LSD and when they were planning on sharing with him. A quick search of the alien's pockets turned up a pistol and, oddly, a condom. House took both, because you never knew.
The door at the other end of the room led to another long hallway. House had barely taken one step when Owen and Foreman darted out of one door and into the one on the opposite side, closely followed by about three dogs. House wondered who the architect of this place was and whether or not it was worth hunting him down and shooting him in the street.
After some internal debate, he finally decided he should probably help his minions so they could get a move-on finding Smythe. He waited. Two minutes later, Owen and Foreman burst through a door to his right and this time House was ready. He dodged out, smacking his cane around wildly. All three dogs went down before they knew what hit them.
"HAH! Who says you can't be an action hero with a bum leg?" House crowed. He was really getting the hang of this. He heavily suspected that he may have always been destined to battle evil or something. After all, he'd been battling bureaucracy for decades, and that was the same thing.
Owen and Foreman skidded to a stop and stared at him. "Woah," said Owen.
"You two are useless. Come on, we need to find that asshat colonel," House snapped.
The first word out of Gwen’s mouth was: “Rhys.” Jack rushed to her side.
“Gwen, it’s Jack. How are you feeling?”
Probably like crap, House said in his head. Jack tried not to glare because that would alarm Gwen, but in his mind, he saw House wandering through Drumthwacket. Don’t you have better things to do than use my head like Youtube? Jack responded.
She’s my patient, if you remember. But Jack thought he felt House’s presence withdraw, even if he hadn’t realized it was there to begin with.
“I... oh my God!” Gwen flinched. “What’s he doing here?” She pointed at Bilis who huffed and straightened his cravat.
“Uh.” Jack leaned closer and whispered in her ear: “He’s been helping us. It seems he has a crush on you.”
“Is that so?” Gwen said, sounding a bit too interested for Jack’s comfort. She began fussing with her hair to make it look more presentable. Then she stopped as she noticed her surroundings. “What the hell happened here?”
Cuddy muttered something under her breath that sounded like a lot of curse words. Many seemed to be German. Jack approved; if you were going to insult something, you might as well do it right.
“It’s a long story,” Cameron said. “Jack, we should get her back into the hospital.”
“No.” Gwen grabbed Jack’s arm as he started pushing her gurney. “Please, just a little longer. I want to look at the stars.”
Cameron began to protest, but Cuddy pulled her aside. “Perhaps you could find Chase another wheelchair and then look for transportation to Drumthwacket.”
“That’s a good idea.” Tracy pushed Cameron away before she could object. She threw Chase over her shoulder and carried him off.
Jack kneeled down beside Gwen and took her hand as she lay still, staring up without a word. Watching her, he felt a sudden chill as his mind took in her pale skin and cold fingers, and he wondered whether he was at a wake and only dreaming the corpse was still alive. His eyes kept going to her abdomen, searching for the rise and fall of cloth that seemed to be the sole sign of life, and he had to force his gaze back to her face.
Bilis tried to move closer but Cuddy stamped on his foot. “No,” Gwen said, moving nothing but her lips. “Let him come here. I need to speak to him.”
“What could you have to say to Bilis?” Jack demanded, but he stepped aside when Bilis approached. The elderly man leaned over, and Gwen whispered into his ear.
“What? No, my dear, simply no.”
“Use those exact words.”
“But you are fine.”
Gwen choked back a laugh. “Do I look fine to you?”
Bilis stiffened. “Very well.” He vanished.
“Where has he gone?” Jack had to stop himself from reaching for his gun. “What did you ask him to do?”
“I want to make amends with Rhys, Jack.” She held his hand as though she were drowning and it was the only thing keeping her afloat. “I love him. Not like I love you, but I love him.”
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing,” Bilis said, popping back into existence.
Gwen and Jack both glared at him. “Bilis!”
The man shrugged. “I can travel through time. It’s not like there’s any rush for me. Besides, Rhys is currently occupied with the pterodactyl.”
“What?” Gwen tried to sit up, grabbed her abdomen and fell backward. “It hurts,” she gasped. “It hurts.” Cuddy ran up to her, a bit too late to restrain her, but she felt Gwen’s forehead and shook her head.
“She’s freezing. We need to move her inside, and I’ll get another IV.” They started wheeling Gwen away, and she gave the sky one last furtive glance before shutting her eyes, her brows furrowed in pain. Cuddy ran ahead of them, intent on returning before they got her through the lobby.
“How do you love the Captain?” Bilis persisted, sounding irritated and curious at the same time.
“Now is not the time!” Jack snapped. “She’s ill and not thinking clearly.” He turned to Gwen. “Of course, if you want to answer...”
“Do you love me, Gwen?”
“Give her a chance to speak!”
“In any way at all. Love-hate, love like a brother, love like a tingly feeling in your--”
“That is not a normal combination by the standards of any time period!”
“Jack...” Gwen murmured. The two men returned their attention to her. “What does it feel like?”
“I personally think it’s the tingly feeling,” Bilis said.
Jack hit him. “She’s not talking to you. What does what feel like?” Bilis stomped on Jack’s foot before teleporting away again.
“Dying,” Gwen whispered. “What do you see when you die?”
“You’re not dying, Gwen.”
“It’s not the same as Suzie, is it? Or John Tucker or any of the rest? I mean, the darkness, it could be because of the glove. Maybe they just don’t remember.”
“Tell me, Jack. Say something, anything!”
“I don’t remember. It’s like... going to sleep and waking up again. There’s isn’t darkness or something lurking in the shadows. There’s just literally nothing in my memories.”
Cuddy returned. “I’ve got the IV fluids here, Gwen. You’re going to be all right.”
“No, she’s not,” Jack said suddenly. Cuddy fixed him with an intense stare, and he froze, but not because of her. What are you doing? he thought to House. “Stop that, Cuddy. You think you have an eagle’s stare but you just look like a lost kitten.”
Cuddy’s jaw dropped. “House? Why are you imitating House?”
“I’m not!” Jack protested. “It... the alien device hit us while we fought Smythe for it in the morgue. Our minds are kind of linked.”
It was a good thing Cuddy had brought several bags of IV fluid because the one in her hand popped in her grip. The entire hospital ground to a halt as she screamed like a banshee whose fingers had been caught in a door. Or a banshee whose favorite pet is about to die, House said. Aw, now isn’t that a sad image? I’m going to wait to tell Cuddy that one on my own. No use making her cry if I can’t be there to comfort her.
Jack focused extremely hard and added into House’s memory the experience of being whacked really hard over the head with his cane.
“Ok, fine, I’ll accept that,” Cuddy said, wringing out what parts of her blouse she could dry without taking the thing off. “Now stop fighting him and let House give his diagnosis!”
“It’s not a diagnosis,” Jack said. “But...” He walked over and began lifting Gwen’s hospital smock. His hand froze. “Hey, what are you doing!” he snapped. His other hand reached up and slapped him twice. Cuddy took advantage of the distraction to finish the job, and they both gasped as they saw garish purple streaks extending all across Gwen’s stomach.
“Internal bleeding,” Cuddy said. She raised her voice. “Nurses, help! We need to operate immediately!”
Jack stared as Cuddy dashed off with Gwen, a sudden entourage of hospital staff surrounding them. Is that a new symptom? Jack asked.
No. It’s a symptom of that idiot Bilis teleporting her around while aliens knock down the hospital. She just came out of surgery.
Then now what? You still don’t know what’s wrong with her!
Give me time! House snapped. But underneath the anger, Jack could sense frustration. House did not feel despair, but Jack did. House mentally sighed. This is why we don’t let those close to the patient in on our decision-making.
I know, Jack replied, trying to feel humble. It didn’t work, but he sensed approval from House. He didn’t want House’s approval, but if it helped the man think, he would beg on his knees.
I think that would help, House said, grinning.
Jack kicked the reception desk.
While Jack was relieving his frustrations on the reception desk, Cuddy was getting down to business. She'd returned to the original scene after ensuring that someone with a reasonable amount of intelligence would take care of Gwen. She'd ordered Tracy to stay with her, and Bilis had stayed of his own accord.
"HEY!" Cuddy shouted, getting everyone's attention. "We have to get out of here, right?" The three sent off to find a vehicle had returned empty-handed, save for a new wheelchair, but that didn’t get them any closer to Drumthwacket.
"Uh," said Jack, looking up. "You don't have to come. You didn't get hit by the alien device."
"Yeah, as if I'm not going to come after all this," Cuddy scoffed.
"Fine. But we need a way of getting there."
"Well... my car wasn't in the garage, but there's no way all of us would fit in it with Chase's wheelchair too," Cuddy said.
"We wouldn't fit in mine either," said Wilson.
"Mine was in the garage," said Cameron sadly.
"Mine too. Oh no! My insurance company had better cover alien invasions!" moaned Chase.
"I think that's the least of your worries, actually," said Wilson.
"Shut up!" muttered Jack. Cuddy glared at him. "No, no, not you guys. Never mind. There's nothing for it; we'll just have to steal a car."
"What!" Cuddy said. "No one's stealing cars at my hospital!"
Jack's cell phone rang loudly. "Hold on," he said, and picked it up. "Ianto! You made it back to Princeton, didn't you?"
"With difficulty, yes, sir," said the voice on the other end. Cuddy listened intently.
"And you're okay?"
"More or less, but we have bigger problems right now. I'm with Tosh at the governor's mansion and we've found something you'd be very interested in."
"Er, it's a stasis transmat, and you'd never guess where it leads."
"I don't plan on guessing," said Jack impatiently.
"It leads to DC. Underneath the Botanical Gardens."
"Underneath? No kidding."
"That's not all. It's worse than we originally thought--much worse. It's some sort of industrial waste plant, and I'd bet my life it's powering a factory for making equipment that will utilize BRAIN technology."
Jack swore. "I always wondered why the ponds looked like that. Well, we're leaving now. Owen's already there, along with Dr. House and Dr. Foreman. We'll be there as fast as we can."
"Dr. House is here? Why?" asked Ianto.
"It's a long story. Later. Be careful!" Jack hung up and turned around.
"No stealing cars at my hospital!" Cuddy repeated.
"I'll give it back. Come on!" Jack ran out the doors, leaving the rest no choice but to follow him, with Cameron pushing Chase. Jack rushed to the parking lot. A fair amount of the cars there had been crushed by falling debris from the parking garage, but most of them were intact.
"What about your car?" cried Cuddy. "You do have a car, don't you?"
"Yeah, and it's a minivan!" said Cameron. "I should know, I was stuck in its trunk!"
"Yeah, and it probably got crushed when the parking garage blew up," said Jack.
"What about that one?" said Chase, pointing to a bright red minivan.
"I don't think I've ever seen a minivan that color before. It's usually reserved for sports cars and men going through a midlife crisis, I thought," said Wilson.
"Who cares? Get in!" said Jack. Cuddy gave up protesting before she'd even started and unlatched one of the middle chairs while Jack busted open the paneling below the steering wheel. She dumped the chair on the ground, heaved Chase's wheelchair in its place with the help of Wilson, and, that finished, claimed shotgun.
"Hurry up!" she shouted at Jack while Cameron claimed the other middle seat and Wilson shuffled into the back.
"These things take time!" Jack responded about a second before the minivan roared to life. "Hah!" He jammed it into drive and skidded out of the parking space. Chase, whose wheelchair was not latched down in any way, slid backwards into Wilson, who was sitting behind him.
"AHHHH!" they both screamed in unison and, when Jack braked sharply in surprise, causing Chase to slide forward and slam into the back of Cuddy's seat, Wilson quickly undid his seat belt and slid to the seat behind Cameron instead. Cameron decided she'd better buckle hers.
"Don't scare me like that! I'm driving!" Jack yelled at them from the front seat.
"I'm sliding all over the place!" Chase yelled back.
"Deal with it!" Cuddy told him.
"He almost crushed me," Wilson whined.
"Play nice or don't play at all," said Jack as he started the car up again. Chase's wheelchair slid backwards again. He braced his feet against Cuddy's chair to stop it sliding as Jack left the parking lot and careened around a corner at top speed.
"Stop kicking my seat!" Cuddy shrieked.
"Well sorry!" said Chase, but he didn't stop. Jack turned another corner so fast that the minivan was briefly moving on two wheels, and Chase's wheelchair tipped over onto Cameron's seat.
"Move!" said Cameron, shoving it so it straightened up again.
"I can't help it!" Chase cried.
"No shoving!" Cuddy screamed.
"Stop all this racket or I will turn this car around, don't test me, I swear to God I will!" Jack bellowed.
"Are we there yet?" Wilson moaned from the back.
The teleport dropped Monty out into thin air about three feet above the floor, and he fell face-first, getting a mouth full of carpet. He spat, wondering how many shoes had tread there, and tried to get up. He failed. Screaming in pain, he managed to roll over and start gasping for air, his arm throbbing as though it had been roasted. The room swam before his eyes, but he managed to get a good enough look to see he was in the governor’s bedroom.
Rebeca appeared above him, her trademark smile that looked like a sneer but not incriminating enough to be one plastered across her face. “I thought you had his mind under control. He doesn’t look very docile to me.”
“He managed to undo the conditioning.” Monty twisted his head further and saw--upside-down--the attorney saunter out of the bathroom and sit onto the bed.
“Impressive,” Rebeca purred.
“They got away,” Monty said, fighting the fatigue that assaulted his mind. Between it and the pain, he was surprised he could get a word out. “You failed.”
“Streed is dead,” Howell told Rebeca, who was peering out the window. “He got thrown out one of those.”
“Well, I’ll have to remember to thank whoever did it.” She stroked the pane as though every window in the world had been responsible.
“I put him in harm’s way.”
“I know. Thank you.”
Howell slipped off the bed behind Rebeca. “Is that all the thanks I get?”
“Yes. Because that’s all you did.” Rebeca slapped his hand away from her shoulder. “Now that he’s disposed of, we can move on--”
“I’m not done yet.” Howell stepped behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist. His hands began creeping upward. “In the language of your species, I am a man of power. You should be more grateful that I shower you with my attention and favor.”
Howell nuzzled her neck. “I confess your species fascinates me. I have explored many aspects of your culture, but thus far, the pleasures of the flesh remain... unexperienced.”
“They shall remain that way, at least as far as I am concerned.” Rebeca’s voice had turned cold as ice. Monty heard her slide the safety off a handgun, though from his perspective she remained motionless. Howell had stiffened, though, and by his pose, Monty assumed she had the muzzle pressed against his chest.
“A gun?” Howell chuckled and overtones of his alien voice crept in, distorting the sound.
“Each bullet tip is a capsule of compressed dichlorine designed to dissolve in conditions matching your internal biology.” Rebeca pushed him back with a single finger, as though any additional contact would cause her disgust to exceed acceptable bounds. “My husband may have been worthless but he wasn’t entirely a fool.”
“This is an intriguing development,” Howell said. His tongue flicked in and out twice, moistening his lips.
“We’ve been studying you as long as you’ve been studying us. I am not helpless, and, unlike our poor, innocent Monty, quite competent in going toe-to-toe with you from the get-go.”
"You are a greater fool than your husband ever was. Shoot me and you are dead, but let me go free and I will see you dead. You can’t hold me hostage forever.”
“I don’t intend to, but you still need me. Now that the Governor is dead, his assets transfer to me, including all the documents he’s been hiding away in his little accounts. The lieutenant-governor doesn’t know about you, and your puppets in DC will wonder about Howell meeting such an untimely demise in the heart of your operation. I can assuage their fears, and besides, we have a common enemy. So long as any member of Torchwood lives, they will hunt both of us until we are dead. So I suggest your first order of business be with the two Monty failed to kill, rather than with me. Does that make sense?”
The two stared at each other as minutes ticked by. “You will take care of the three who have breached this house,” Howell said, stalking out of the room.
Rebeca touched her neck where Howell’s lips had been, but instead of showing disgust, she just deepened her smile. She returned her attention to Monty. “You poor thing, bleeding all over the carpet--no, don’t worry, I’m going to have it replaced anyway, what with Howell sliming his way in and out of the place.” She kneeled beside him and caressed his face. Through the fever, her fingers felt like ice cubes running down his cheeks.
The sudden change in her attitude toward him came as no surprise. Monty had witnessed years of fights and torrid reconciliations, moments of shocking insight negating others of petulance. She changed moods and personalities as most people changed clothes, but she had the ability to make others believe her and forget the Rebecas of the past. He suspected the trick might even extend to herself.
It did not extend to Monty because the moments before were all that mattered to him right now, but she didn’t need to know that. “What are you going to do to me?” he asked.
“You were a loyal aid to Governor, and you will be one to me. You are not stupid, Monty; you’ve been in politics long enough to know what’s good for you. This is the future, and you can rise with me.” She leaned forward, and this was the moment he’d been waiting for. “I will nurse you back to health if you let me.”
Her lips touched his, and he responded as best he could. Moaning with what he hoped sounded like passion, he put one hand against the side of her chest and let the other one drift toward her thighs. “Oh yes,” she gasped, tracing her tongue against his skin up to his earlobe. “This is good, isn’t it?”
Monty touched something cold and smooth, traced the outlines to be sure and replied, “Yes. This is perfect.”
With one smooth motion, he seized the scissors from her pocket and brought it down against her back with all his strength, knowing he did not have the speed to reach her neck. To his surprise, the blades slid between two bones of her ribcage and went through, slicing through flesh as though it were paper. He heard Rebeca draw in a sharp breath as it cut into her heart, and it sounded no different from when she was in the throes of passion.
He looked up and saw her staring at him. “Why?” she asked, sounding like a frightened child. Her hair brushed against him like strands of silk, the effect ruined by the beads of sweat that had begun matting them together. As her strength faded, her weight pressed stronger against him. Her skin felt like a newborn child’s, flushed with the influx of new emotions and experiences. For a moment, he almost felt sorry for her.
“Toshiko,” he told her, feeling her every heartbeat as another rush of warm liquid against his hand. He drew strength from the name. He had removed one of her enemies, but Tosh was still in danger. “You sent him after her. Pray she survives, or I’ll hound you through hell itself.”
Her last breath was a gurgle as her lungs filled with blood, and then she was a dead weight pinning him to the ground. Screaming with the effort, he threw her off, wondering if the effort would kill him. But he could not die so long as Tosh lived, and the conviction got him out the door. The scissors were disgusting, but he kept them until he could find a better weapon. The stairs were not far away, and he thought he could retrace his way to the basement. This was his territory, and he’d be damned if Howell got the best of him here.
House had taken care of the dogs, but there was still the minor matter of at least hundreds, likely thousands, of aliens swarming the mansion. House had the handgun he'd lifted from the unconscious alien and Owen had a couple shots left, but against that many they were essentially defenseless. They could hear them stampeding into Drumthwacket now.
"Seeing as I will obviously not be outrunning them, I suggest we make like the Spartans," said House. Then he found a door to a bathroom and went inside.
"What?" said Owen and Foreman together.
"This will do nicely," said House. "What are you waiting for? Come on!" Owen and Foreman shrugged and followed House into the bathroom. House closed the door behind them.
"This has connotations I don't even want to think about," said Foreman. "Mind enlightening us on what we're doing in here?"
"Don't be stupid. There are thousands of them, right? Well, they probably have explosives and military-grade machine guns and these walls won't stand a chance, but our best option is to get into an enclosed space where they can't take us on all at once right? Spartans. Didn't you see 300?"
"Fine," groused Foreman.
The door flew open again and they stared into the face of an alien disguised as a human. It opened its mouth to yell but didn't have time to get anything out, because Owen shot it before it could.
"Moron!" hissed House. "You should have let me take care of it! They'll all have heard that!" Owen ignored him and pulled the large rifle out of the unconscious alien’s hands. He examined it, then handed his handgun to Foreman.
"Here," he said. "You can have this."
"I'd rather have that," Foreman said, pointing at the rifle.
"Too bad," said Owen. "This is an M-16. They're generally standard issue in the army, but this one's especially nice, looks like it's been upgraded. I'm keeping it."
"Then you're standing in front," said House, moving back. He almost tripped over the edge of the bathtub, but he managed not to fall in by grabbing the towel rack. Foreman laughed at him.
Just as House had predicted, several more aliens came their way. Foreman pulled the door shut and wedged it using a scrubbing brush, but seconds later an axe smashed through one of the walls. Foreman, who was nearest to it, yelped and hopped back. The axe came through again.
"These are ridiculously flimsy walls," House remarked. Two more axes smashed through with the first one and the wall crumbled, leaving all three of them exposed. There were at least fifteen aliens in the room, and three of them weren't even disguised.
"Ugh," said Foreman. "They look like what ate me!"
"What?" said House, momentarily distracted.
"You know, remember I said a clinic patient ate me and that's how I ended up locked in the trunk? I just realized, they looked like those! And the ones back at the hospital!"
"A clinic patient looked like that and you didn't notice something was up?" asked House. "I suppose I can't be too surprised... a lot of them lot are not much better."
"He was disguised until a certain point!" Foreman yelped.
The aliens apparently decided enough was enough and attacked. The three of them yelled and, after fumbling with the scrubbing brush for a second, managed to open the door and rush into the hallway. It turned out to be a bad idea, because there were even more aliens there, and more were spilling out of other rooms by the second.
They charged. House swung his cane wildly and Owen and Foreman shot in every direction, but there was no end to them. Foreman ran out of shots quickly and, after chucking the empty gun at an alien's head, hid behind Owen.
It seemed quite hopeless, but a mere minute after their desperate battle had started, a tall, thin man rushed down the stairs behind them, shouting, "Get to the plant, you idiots! We need every possible guard there now!" Then he ducked through another door, all without ever noticing House, Owen, and Foreman.
The other aliens paused, several looking torn, but some shuffling in the back turned into a mass exodus as every single alien turned and went back outside to their flying saucers.
"That was lucky," said House.
"That was the attorney-general!" said Foreman. "I'm sure of it!"
"Plant?" Owen said.
"I bet if we follow him, we find Smythe," said House. "Come on!" Foreman grabbed various weapons from the aliens they'd taken down, and Owen followed suit, before going after him. Maneuvering was awkward when they could each only really control one arm and they had to concentrate to avoid overbalancing the other.
The door the man had disappeared behind led to an old-fashioned spiral staircase.
"Great," said House. "This is going to be a bitch." Foreman and Owen went down first and House limped slowly and painfully after them. All the action was not good for his leg. It was a long way down and ended in a cavernous room filled with piping.
There was a flash of light in the corner as the attorney-general vanished.
"What was that!" Foreman said.
"That was a transmat," said a voice behind him. He yelped and turned around.
"Ianto! Tosh!" said Owen, sounding relieved. Foreman relaxed. House finally made it to the bottom of the stairs, glanced around, and whistled. Then he looked straight at Ianto and Tosh.
"Where the hell have you two been? We could have used some help!"
"We were, ah, indisposed," said Ianto while Tosh looked sheepish. “See, this isn’t actually the transmat we used earlier. There’s a total of five in the basement, and working out the network connections in the house has been difficult.”
"It doesn't matter," said Foreman. "We need to figure out where he went!"
"We know where he went," said Tosh.
"What are we waiting for then?" said House.
"Jack's on his way."
"He's taking too long, and I haven't heard anything from him in ten minutes. Let's go!"
"Heard anything from him?" Ianto asked, arching an eyebrow.
"Long story," said Foreman.
"He'll be here any second, I'm sure," said Tosh. House grunted impatiently.
There was a loud crash from above, followed by a screeching noise. Then there was silence.
"Umm..." said Owen. The high ceiling made an ominous creaking noise.
"Move!" roared Ianto. They all threw themselves out of the way as a slightly beat-up, fire engine red minivan fell through the ceiling and landed right where they'd been standing.
"Oh my God," panted Tosh. A second later the minivan's driver side window rolled down. Jack Harkness grinned out at them.
"Miss me?" he said cheekily. Cuddy was screaming curses at him from the seat over and the faint sounds of whimpering came from the back seat.
"What--" said Tosh.
"Get in!" Jack interrupted. "We're taking this thing to alien headquarters!"
"Want a weapon?" Owen asked him, handing over two M-16s and a large axe. Jack took a rifle, gave the axe to Cuddy, and handed the last rifle to someone in the back.
"Great," he said. "Let's get going before something really bad happens!"
One of the back doors slid open and Cameron motioned them inside. House, Owen, Foreman, Ianto, and Tosh all climbed inside and crowded between the seats when there weren't enough. House gleefully kicked Cameron out of her seat and commandeered it on the basis that he was a feeble cripple. Cameron glared but said nothing.
Foreman handed around his stash of extra weapons, which included two grenades.
"With all these rifles we look like retarded gangsters," said Chase doubtfully. "Except we're in a minivan, which is hardly a gangster car. We're like the Minivan Gangsters."
Everyone ignored him. As soon as the door was shut, Jack grinned and revved the engine. The minivan roared the remaining distance and screeched to a halt onto the transmat pad.
“Hit the switch, Tosh!” Jack said. Tosh punched a command onto the wristband, and the machinery whirred to life. Lights blinked, consoles beeped. Everyone braced themselves, as though expecting the car to plunge off a precipice the next moment. Instead, the sounds died away as dramatically as they arrived, and nothing happened.
“Why didn’t it work?” Wilson asked.
“Uh, that monitor there.” Ianto pointed.
One of the displays had entered a bluescreen: “Load too large.”
Everyone rolled down the nearest window and stuck their head out to see the front and rear bumpers of the minivan protruding beyond the edge of the circle. Jack groaned.
“So much for a dramatic exit,” Chase said happily.
To Chapter 13: Divine Tragedy
Back to Interlude: Modus Operandi
Summary: Gwen, believing she is dying, wants to make final amends with her various love interests but only succeeds in stirring the pot. Everyone else battles onward toward the Drumthwacket transmats leading to the alien factory under the DC botanical gardens.