4 Oct 2013

The Story of the Ancestors: Chapter 3 (Twisted)

The shed was spinning through the time vortex and was glowing a white colour. The image of the shed was shimmering and soon the wood was all gone and it looked simply like a metal tube.

In the console room the Torchwood team were busy hurrying around. It was chaos. Absolute chaos.

‘We need to land!’ shouted Don over the commotion. ‘I told you were shouldn’t have tried this.’

‘We needed to test it,’ said Jayne, uncomfortable from underneath the console. She slid herself out. ‘Instead of telling me what I’ve done wrong, perhaps you could help a bit more.’

Margot kicked the console. ‘The whole things out of control.’

Lilly flicked a switch. ‘We all seemed to have forgotten that all the readings said that this ship had originally crashed. Well, it looks like it was more damaged than we thought.’

‘It’s the time rotor,’ said Nivere, from a bank of computers that Torchwood had set up inside the console room. ‘The crystals inside are failing.’

Jayne rubbed her forehead. ‘Can we land?’

‘We can certainly try,’ she said.

Thornsby, December 3rd, 1594

It was late evening in Thornsby. The air was bitter and most of the people in the little town had gone inside their homes to keep warm.

There was no need to be out.

The streets were dotted with little stone houses, the glow from orange fires shining from their windows. Along the cobbled street, the vicar, Father Henry Ainslie, struggled. He had gout and tonight it was causing him the most excruciating pain.

He made his way past the town hall and into the large market area known as the Bull Ring. He wrapped his garments around him a little tighter. It was then that he noticed something up above.

Against the black night sky and amongst the twinkling pinpricks of starlight, there seemed to be a column of light streaking down from the heavens and towards the church.

Ainslie clutched at his cross and feared for his church. It was making a wheezing and groaning sound and he was sure that the ground was vibrating slightly.

Just before it hit the top of the church, it vanished. Ainslie strode purposefully on. He got the keys out from inside his robes and unlocked the church door. He stepped inside nervously. All was dark, apart from a glow of light coming from down towards the church crypt.

He wasn’t sure of what to do. The light above the church had disappeared, but now here it was, shining from within the church.

That’s when the woman appeared. She was tall, wore some kind of jacket and trousers made of a strange material. She had long, reddish-blonde hair and she stepped out of the light, her hands on her hips as she looked around. And more people came. Ainslie fell to his knees and clutched at his cross. Were they angels sent from the heavens?

Margot shook her head and rubbed her grubby hands on her jeans. She crossed over to Jayne who was busy surveying their surroundings.

‘We need to stay out of there for 48 hours,’ said Margot. ‘That time rotor is glowing white-hot. If we’d have been in the vortex for much longer we’d have melted. Or worse.’

The light was beginning to die a little and their eyes were adjusting.

‘Who’s that?’ asked Margot, nodding towards Father Ainslie kneeling on the floor.

‘Looks like an old-skool vicar,’ said Jayne.

‘Unbelievable!’ growled Don. ‘Do you even know where we are?’

‘Earth,’ said Jayne.

‘Earth? Well that helps!’ grumbled Don.

‘Oh, shut the hell up!’ shouted Ben. ‘At least it is Earth. We could have landed on some planet or in the middle of a sun or something. Idiot!’

‘I beg your pardon?’ said Don, advancing on the blonde-haired medic.

‘That’s enough!’ yelled Jayne, her voice echoing around the church. ‘Jesus Christ! Are we children? Are we just going to squabble? We’re Torchwood and we will behave in a manner which befit’s the name.’

The team stood there staring at Jayne. They dare not say anything more. She always gave them a lot of leeway when it came to rules and regulations. She wasn’t a strict leader and she certainly didn’t impose rules, but they all knew that when she wanted something doing…well, they made sure they did it.

Jayne turned towards Father Ainslie. He was still on the floor. She quietly crossed over to him and crouched down beside him.

‘Please, spare me…’ he mumbled from somewhere beneath his robes.

Jayne smiled and touched him on the soldier. ‘We mean you know harm.’

‘You are demons.’

Jayne shook her head. ‘We’re not. I promise you that.’

‘Then you are angels? Sent from God?’

She shook her head again. ‘No. Look at me.’

Ainslie shook his head.

‘Please,’ she said, ‘look at me.’

Slowly Father Ainslie raised his head to look at her. She smiled back at him. His eyes were full of fear.

‘I’m just an ordinary woman.’

‘But where did you come from? The light in the sky? The light in the crypt?’

Jayne sighed and sat down on the floor, cross-legged. ‘Take a deep breath, Father. This is gonna blow your socks off.’

Daylight had broken over Thornsby. The team had stayed camped in the crypt whilst they waited for the time rotor to completely cool down.

It had taken Father Ainslie a good few hours to believe Jayne’s story. She had told him the truth - that they had come from the future and had to get back there. Jayne had reasoned with the others that it was the best course of action. The truth would have been less strange than any bizarre story they had tried to concoct to get Ainslie to help them. Eventually he had finally given in, accepting that no matter what he really thought, they were clearly not from his world.

‘I may not fully understand what is happening here,’ he had told Jayne, ‘but as God is my witness I will help you people.’

So he had gotten them food and water and made them comfortable in the crypt. He had provided them all with hooded cloaks. The nights were cold, especially as the snow had begun to fall again, and the church could get extremely cold.

Ben lay there, checking his watch. It read 7am. He turned to the sleeping Margot who was lying beside him.

‘Psst,’ he said.

She stirred slightly.

‘Psst,’ he said again.

Her eyes snapped open. ‘What? What is it?’

‘You awake?’

‘No,’ she said sarcastically, ‘I’m sleep talking. What do you want?’

‘Are you excited?’

‘About what?’ she asked, turning to him.

‘About being here?’

She sighed. ‘Not particularly. Maybe I’d feel a bit more excited if I knew we could get home.’

‘Don’t you think Jayne can fix the time machine?’

‘I’m sure she can,’ said Margot, not sounding very convincing, ‘but I don’t think it’s going to be a quick fix. That time rotor looked fried.’

‘I keep thinking about my brother,’ said Ben, looking up at the ceiling. ‘He’s only 13.’

‘Yeah,’ said Margot. ‘They all seem so far away. When I kissed Harry goodbye yesterday morning - or, whenever it was - I never expected to end up here.’

‘We’ll get back to them,’ smiled Ben.

‘I don’t know,’ said Margot distantly. ‘I sure to God hope we do.’

In the corner of the crypt, beside the shed-TARDIS, Brandon Robson - eyes still closed - listened in on the conversation. He was determined that he would get back. He wasn’t going to be trapped here.

It was light now and Father Ainslie had gone with Jayne out into the snow to pick up food. Jayne had marvelled at the new world around her. It looked just like old English town’s had looked in history books. The quaint little houses with thatched roofs, the people in the raggedy, scruffy clothes and the bustling market place. But Jayne couldn’t process all of the information. It was too much for her. She wanted to run off and explore this time, but she knew she had a responsibility to her people. She had to get them back.

The snow was coming down fast and thick and Jayne wrapped the cloak tighter around her. She re-entered the church and made her way down to the crypt.

The crypt was a hive of activity. A number of computer banks had been pulled out from the shed-TARDIS and set up to monitor various readings from the time machine. They had also removed a few other devices essential to the running of the ship in the hope that they may be able to make some sense of what had happened.

Jayne looked around her. They were all there. The collection of scientists they had brought along with them and then the main team: April Nivere, Ben Featherstone, Margot Dunlop, Lilly and Donald Turner, Thomas and Rebecca Farrington and Brandon…no, wait, Brandon wasn’t there. Her brother was nowhere to be seen.

‘Does anyone know where Brandon is?’ asked Jayne.

Nobody took any notice, all of them engrossed in their work.

‘My brother,’ continued Jayne. ‘Does anybody know where my brother is?’

One of the scientists - a young, bearded one - looked up from a computer monitor. ‘I saw him a few minutes ago.’

‘Cheers, Ray,’ said Jayne.

Lilly and Don were sat on the floor with a collection of wires spewing out from underneath a console. Lilly seemed to be engrossed in a photo.

‘Come on, Lill,’ said Don impatiently. ‘We haven’t got time for looking at snaps.’

Lilly smiled. ‘It’s the hills back in Hamilton. I want to build our house there.’

Don glanced at the photograph. It showed rolling, green hills and trees. He laughed. ‘We need to get back home first, love. Anyway, I thought we were moving back to the UK.’

‘Maybe,’ she said distantly.

‘Go get me a sample of the rotor crystals,’ said Don.

Lilly looked at him and smiled. ‘Yes, sir!’

She got up and walked into the darkened shed-TARDIS. The only light was the soft, yellow glow coming from the time rotor. It was more or less safe to deal with it now. But Lilly noticed something. Standing beside the console, his face in shadow, was Brandon.

‘What are you doing in here?’ asked Lilly. ‘It’s still dangerous, you know?’

‘How are we gonna get this thing moving?’ asked Brandon, his hands spread across the console.

‘We’ll find a way. That’s what we’re doing now.’

‘No,’ said Brandon. ‘What we’re doing is setting up camp. Before long that’ll lead to setting up a home.’

‘Don’t be crazy,’ said Lilly, carefully lifting the glass around the time rotor core.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Getting some crystal samples.’

‘You see, that’s my sisters problem. She always wanted to investigate time and space and aliens and stuff. And now look - she’s gotten herself into a full-on adventure. I bet she’s loving this.’

‘Look, Brandon,’ said Lilly, taking out a complicated syringe-like device and piercing the glowing interior crystals, ‘why don’t you go out there and speak to your sister. There’s no use skulking around here.’

‘She won’t listen’ said Brandon flatly. ‘We need to make this thing move.’

‘Well there’s no chance of it yet.’

Brandon growled and thumped the console. ‘It’s not good enough!’

‘What’s up with you?’ said Lilly.

‘It’s all my fault.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘It was me. I was the one who screwed up the machine. Torchwood HQ knew what you were doing and they didn’t want you messing with dangerous tech. I was supposed to remove the fluid link, but I didn’t get it free until after take off. I thought we’d just be able to go back, not crash land in this primitive world.’

‘But President Harkness would never…’

‘It wasn’t Harkness,” said Brandon. “Inside Special Ops.’

‘I need to get Jayne,’ said Lilly, nervously.

‘No,’ said Brandon. ‘I need to get this thing working and get you all back.’

Brandon flicked a few switches on the console. The room began to hum with power.

‘Brandon, no!’ said Lilly. ‘The cores exposed. The power will-’

Lilly stopped mid-sentence as the time rotor began to glow again. There was a hum and build up power. The whole room was starting to vibrate.

‘Switch it off,’ said Lilly. ‘Switch it off, you idiot.’

‘How?’ said Brandon, furiously flicking at switches.

‘It’s going into overload,’ said Lilly. ‘We need to get out of here.’

‘We need to shut it down!’ said Brandon, feeling helpless.

‘The whole rotor is going to blow up. God knows what it’ll do.’

‘Jayne!’ shouted Lilly towards the door. ‘Jayne! We need help!’

‘No,’ said Brandon. ‘No!’

‘Brandon,’ said Lilly, ‘just leave it. We need to-’

There was a flash of white, blinding light from the central column. The entire room was flooded with the light and it engulfed Brandon and Lilly. Everything was silent. Deathly silent.

Outside the air was still as Jayne stood in the doorway of the shed-TARDIS. Time seemed to have frozen momentarily.

And then the delayed explosion came. Waves of white and orange light flew from the doorway, hitting everyone in the crypt. The waves of orange, white and golden light continued to flow and coerce from within the cylinder, whipping and lashing at the April, Margot, Thomas…and anyone else in the room.

The group fell to their knees, writhing around on the floor as their eyes burned with the energy of the time winds.

Jayne could feel all of time and space passing through her. She saw faces of people she’d never even met. Men with ornate, high-collars, machine-like creatures, a man with long, grey hair…and she saw her own life flash through her eyes. Her Granddad and her childhood at the house.

Her entire body was glowing orange, but she had to do something. She managed to turn back. Her entire team were unconscious, all of them engulfed by the time winds. She forced herself forward into the blinding white interior of the time machine. It was like trying to walk into a hurricane. But once she had forced herself inside her eyes adjusted.

The console was broken and shattered. The time winds were flowing from the broken time rotor. The walls had gone and it felt like the room was expanding. And standing beside the console were Brandon and Lilly, the hoods on their cloaks limply hanging over their heads.

‘Brandon!’ shouted Jayne into the maelstrom. ‘Brandon! Come on!’

Both Brandon and Lilly turned to face Jayne. She could see their faces underneath the hoods. Their faces were deformed. Their eyes were white and glowing and their skin had been stretched back over their faces.

Brandon reached out a hand towards Jayne. They had been too close to the explosion.

She fell to her knees. Tears streaming down her face.

‘Jayne!’ came a voice.

It was Margot. She had staggered into the room and grabbed her from under her arms, trying to pull her back outside.

‘No!’ screamed Jayne.

‘We have to leave them,’ said Margot, her voice distorted and slow. ‘We need to close these doors.’

‘NO!’ screamed Jayne again as Margot managed to drag her out of the shed-TARDIS.

Margot grabbed the key from around Jayne’s neck, took a hold of the doors and pulled them shut, just in time to see the interior dimensions shift and form into…something else.

She slammed the doors shut and locked the doors with the key.

And then all was silent.

A good ten minutes passed. Ben had gone around the crypt and checked the rest of the team. Most of them were relatively unscathed, but everybody was registering temporal particles within them.

Jayne had simply sat there on the floor, staring at the time machine in front of her. Every now and again the cylinder would shudder and they would hear a cry from somewhere deep inside of it. And then it would stop.

‘Jayne,’ said Margot, ‘I’m so sorry.’

‘It’s not your fault,’ said Jayne blankly. ‘Obviously something went wrong.’

Don staggered over to Jayne and Margot, his hands shaking. ‘What happened to Lilly?’

‘She’s trapped. She’s trapped in there,’ said Jayne. ‘Her and Brandon.’

‘What happened?’ he said, trying to hold back the tears. ‘She only went to get a sample of crystals.’

‘It must have been an accident,’ said Margot soothingly. ‘Just sit down with the others. We’re gonna see what we can do for them.’

Thomas guided Don away.

Jayne continued to sit there. She sat there for a long, long time.

And deep within the box the dimensions had changed. There was snow and cold and darkness. Somewhere in the midst of all this was the shattered remains of the console, and the deformed and cloaked Lilly sat on a rock, crying and touching a photograph of fields and hills. And all around her the dimensions changed until all that was there were snow-covered fields and hills.

‘Poor Lilly,’ she weeped, not really grasping what she was saying. ‘Poor little Lilly.’

Next: Jayne and Margot take a trip to "another world". Coming Tuesday 8th October.

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