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Harm's Way (short story)

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RealWorld
Harm's Way
TW Fiction Harms Way
Main character(s): Jack, Gwen, Owen, Toshiko, Ianto
Main setting: Cardiff, 2008
Key crew
Writer: Trevor Baxendale
Illustrator: Mike Dowling
Release details
Printed in: Torchwood Magazine 8 - 10
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Harm's Way was a short story published in Torchwood Magazine issues 8 - 10. It was written by Trevor Baxendale.

Summary Edit

Part One Issue 8 (6 pages)

Landing in the back garden of a house in Pontcanna, the Torchwood team of Jack, Tosh, and Ianto retrieve an "artefact". It is two metres long by one metre wide, and resembles a loaf of bread with a thick crust but translucent like amber, with a strong organic smell. The artefact is moved back to the Hub, and taken to the autopsy lab. Gwen has been given a morning off, which she has decided to spend having coffee with Rhys at a café. Rhys voices his concerns and worries, about her career choice (mainly the daily threat she faces to her life) and Jack phoning her, calling her back to work and cutting their meeting short doesn't help matters.

Back at the Hub, Gwen suggests the artefact is a chrysalis with something organic and alive inside. This would explain the dead readings from the scan. Under UV light there appears to be some form of script writing on the shell, but before it can be translated, Gwen is proven right. The chrysalis splits open and a huge, multi-limbed creature breaks out. With lightning speed the creature knocks out Jack and leaves Owen hiding his bloodied face and moaning in a way that reminds Gwen of a child run over by a bin lorry. Ianto races to the armoury. Gwen leaves Toshiko to tend the wounded Owen and pursues the creature in the Hub. Ianto is brushed aside by the creature following a hail of bullets which seem to have had little effect. As the creature moves in on Gwen, her phone rings — the last thing she'll probably ever hear, Rhys calling...

Part Two Issue 9 (6 pages)

Gwen lies unconscious in a hospital bed in a separate room at the hospital, linked to various machines when Rhys arrives. Jack joins him at the bedside. His "She's gonna be alright" comments do little to pacify a very angry Rhys, who demands to know what happened.

Guided by Toshiko back at the Hub to another Rift disturbance, Owen and Ianto have discovered another chrysalis in the middle of a building site. Around the open shell are the torn-apart remains of workers' bodies.

Jack tells Rhys about the chrysalis that opened up and proved to be hostile. The creature is trapped inside a highly localised time-field created by Tosh using the Rift manipulator. It is alive but moving very slowly. The effect will not last for long. The only weakness that has been identified in the creature's armour is a soft, unprotected area of the palate that is exposed for a brief moment before it strikes. Jack is more concerned about the other creature on the loose in Cardiff. Leaving Rhys "grateful" that Gwen is alive (albeit with a hairline fracture to her skull and some cracked ribs), Jack joins Owen and Ianto. The second creature has been found in Grangetown — heading towards the city, some nine foot tall and growing, according to police reports. As the creature causes devastation, turning over buses, and ripping cars in half, Toshiko hears the chaos as Jack tries to take control of the system. When the communications go down all she can get is the BBC News report suddenly brought to an end by the sound of a huge explosion and an image of a huge orange fireball ...

Part Three Issue 10 (7 pages)

In the hospital room, Gwen makes a recovery. Her first concern is Jack and the others. Ignoring Rhys' pleas to rest, she discharge herself. Rhys takes her back to the Hub via the paving stone lift.

Jack is trying to motivate a badly injured Owen into getting up out of the gutter. They were separated from Ianto in the fracas and Owen took another knock. Ianto arrives and helps Jack get Owen in the back of the SUV where Owen is treated with a broad spectrum range of antibiotics from the glove compartment for his infected wounds. Leaving Owen with Ianto, Jack goes after the second creature.

Inside the Hub, Toshiko tells the others what she has learnt from the glyphs on the casing. The two creatures are rivals. She believes that they have both come through the Rift, not as flotsam and jetsam but for a purpose. Toshiko believes they are contestants, sent through the Rift to settle their differences. Jack listens to Toshiko as the military arrives (possibly UNIT). These aliens need each other. Gwen suggests letting them get on with it. Jack takes a little convincing to release the creature in the hub, but with the sound of the second creature's challenge ringing in his ears and the containment field in the hub about to break any moment, Jack gives the command.

Released, the first creature makes its way up the gantry to the open space near the pavement stone lift in pursuit of its opponent. Gwen, Rhys and Toshiko play catch up. At the Millennium Stadium, the second creature responds, crying out to the other. Soon the two creatures are locked in ferocious battle. The first creature, although smaller, is more vicious than the other creature. Black blood is spilled over the stadium as the two fight it out. The second creature is distracted by the arrival of Gwen and Rhys on the other side of the stadium. Seizing the advantage, the first creature strikes and makes the kill. Torchwood watch as the dead creature glows — a blood-red light spreading across its body before it fades away. The first creature is drawn to Gwen and as it moves in for the kill for the second time, a single shot rings out. Jacks fires his Webley revolver into the creature's mouth, hitting the soft palate and through to the creature's unprotected brain. Like the other creature, it glows red and fades from existence — just as if they never existed. As the casualties and damaged are assessed, Rhys observes that "sometimes there are just too many people in harm's way". Jack reminds him that "we look after our own at Torchwood, as well as everyone else."

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