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The Clash of Worlds: The Fellowship of Necessity
Submitter: Date: 2011/10/30 Views: 304
Chapter 10

Rick smirked and stepped out of the shadows with his gun raised. "You need to exercise more caution."

A click behind him made him raise his hands and lift his finger pointedly from the trigger. Martin glared over his shoulder and nodded sharply, and the sensation of having a weapon very close to the back of his head disappeared. "We're not in the mood for your training session, Captain."

"You'll do anyway," he reassured them, hiding his smile and picking his bag up again. "You must be exhausted."

"Dead on my feet," Orlando told him, holstering his gun and sounding it. "Please tell me there's hot drinks and sleep?"

"Sorry," he grimaced sympathetically at Orlando's groan. "Hot drinks we can do, but we need to push through the tunnel as fast as we can."

"You know, I was assuming we'd have a train or... something..." Orlando trailed off and set his shoulders. "Oh quack."

Martin huffed and sighed at the lightening sky. "Let's get on with it, then, before the scientist falls asleep on his feet."

Rick cut Orlando's response off and led the way through the back streets, past darkened houses and empty bus stops, a town still sleeping and hiding from the monsters that now haunted the day more than the night. He got them into the tunnel security area and nodded conspiratorially to the few security guards sitting in the booth, then across the narrow expanse of open ground into the mouth of the secondary tunnel. Their footsteps echoed on bare, stained concrete and the dim light of dawn was replaced by sterile eco-friendly bulb light. Orlando sniffed and grimaced. "It smells of dead stuff."

"No, dead stuff smells a lot worse," Martin corrected him. "This just smells of neglect."

He sighed and followed. "I work with computers, this smells of dead computers."

"I'll put them in my prayers when I go to bed," he curled his lip. "Now shut up and walk."

It was only another fifteen minutes before they found Tosh and Owen sitting at the entrance to a storage room, guns resting in their laps, back to back and watching both ways down the corridor. Owen's hand twitched towards his gun, and Tosh was holding hers firmly when she turned to face them, but they relaxed when they got close enough to be recognised in the dim light. Tosh got up and approached them, lowering her voice to say, "We're getting some rest and taking shifts on guard, you can sleep through to morning. There's cocoa in the flask. Jack and the Doctor are..." she trailed off and bit her lip. "They don't sleep much."

They nodded at her and stepped carefully over their comrades in the room to find the empty corner where someone had laid out bedding for them. Sure enough, the Doctor and Jack were sitting in the back corner, heads close together, and they spared Martin, Orlando and Rick barely a glance. Ianto was fast asleep next to Jack, with his head on Jack's thigh, Jack's coat draped over him and one of Jack's hands on his shoulder, and it was hard not to feel lonely when faced with that image. Martin curled up into the smallest space he could possibly take up and shut his eyes against it.

When he woke the next morning, going from asleep to awake in the time it took to open his eyes, it was to the smell of cooking bacon and sporadic conversation; Tosh, Ianto and Orlando had their heads down over a laptop between them and a sandwich each, Rick and Anton were in the doorway, Jack was cooking and Owen and the Doctor were leaning against the wall, watching over everyone. He sat up and stretched carefully, making sure not to force his still tired muscles, then stood and joined Jack by the little stove that had appeared from somewhere. "You should have woken me," he commented by way of greeting.

Jack shrugged and dropped another two rashers of bacon into the pan, then shrugged again. "No point. We're not ready to go yet, you need as much sleep as you can get, logic dictates that we let you sleep. Did you want bacon?"

"Yeah, thanks," he looked around the room and leaned against the wall. "So, you and Ianto?"

"What about us?"

"I don't know, I'm not very good at getting past the opening gambit," he shrugged. "Tosh and Owen?"

"No, unfortunately. You and Orlando?"

Martin spluttered and shook his head fiercely. "Just no, really no. Looks like you two are the only ones paired off."

"It does, doesn't it?" he smiled over at Ianto, who wasn't looking their way anyway. "Today, at least."

Jack fished two rashers of bacon out of the pan and onto a slice of bread, then waved the fork around. "Ketchup, brown sauce, whatever."

"Thanks," he made his sandwich up and stayed where he was, leaning against the wall next to Jack. "We should go to Brussels."

Jack turned the last two rashers and shook his head. "Too much of a target, too much of a risk."

"Jack, it's a two week hike to Geneva we'll never make that. It's three days to Brussels, and from there we can organise transport to get us the rest of the way better than we can from Calais," he mopped up a trail of sauce and watched Jack avoid his gaze. "What are you thinking?"

"I don't want to go to Brussels unless we can help it. You're right, it could be a good bounding point that they wouldn't expect, but it's also such a target for them... If no other way of getting there on time presents itself, then we'll go via Brussels, but only if there's truly no alternative."

He sighed and nodded, then waved the sandwich. "At least they'd feed us lots in Brussels."

"And I wouldn't have to cook," Jack grinned and flipped the bacon onto the last slice of bread. "You see what I mean, though?"

"Yeah, I do," he frowned. "I'm hoping that they'll have news of the cabinet there."

"Still missing?"

He snorted. "No idea."

The push through the tunnel took very little time at all, and soon Tosh told them that they were nearing the end. The lights here were less effective than they had been, and the tunnel even less well-kept. The empty rooms glared at them, and they hurried on towards the exit some creature had taken this part of the tunnel for its own, and it wouldn't take kindly to having them on its territory. Jack stuck even more closely to Ianto, with a hand on his back as long as Ianto would tolerate it. The disquiet pressed down on everyone, forcing them to be near silent and overcautious.

Finally, they found it. Long black tendrils draped across the floor of the tunnel and stretched up the walls like vines, pulsing wetly and flexing. The Doctor tapped Tosh on the shoulder and held out his hand. "Scanner."

She passed it over and looked over his shoulder. "What is it?"

"I don't know..." he studied the scanner and turned it around a few times. "It's sort of animal... vegetable... mineral... all of the above..."

"Doctor?" Jack asked quietly.

"Careful, very careful," he warned, giving the scanner back to Tosh. "Don't step on it."

"Well duh," Rick gritted out, taking the first tentative step forwards. They held their breaths until he was on the other side and could look around the corner, then he waved them towards him. "Okay."

Cautiously, ever so cautiously, they stepped over the vines, sometimes holding onto each other for balance. Rick reached out and caught Tosh as she reached him, offering her a steadying hand to step over the last of the vines. Finally they all got across and stood in the tunnel entrance, blinking in the light of the sun rising directly in front of them. "Where now?" Tosh asked quietly, hugging her computer bag in front of her.

"On to Geneva," the Doctor answered quietly, and who knew what he was really thinking. He nodded to himself. "We need to find transport; it's too far to walk."

"There's always bicycles," Ianto suggested dryly.

Martin shook his head. "We should go to Brussels first. We can get information and fresh supplies there, and more transport options will be available to us. It's off route, less obvious than Nice and still a good stopping off point."

"It's too risky and too far off route," Jack protested. "We need to press on as much as we can and get help where we can."

"But we might not be able to get help. Brussels is four pushed marches away and we'll definitely get transport there," he leaned on the wall and folded his arms. "Geneva is two weeks away, and there's no guarantee that we won't have to walk all of that."

"I'd rather risk that than..."

"Yes, but some of us would die before we got there, Jack," Owen grunted. "We're not walking all the way there definitely not if we're going to be doing a lot of walking beyond."

Jack glared at him, then he tripped forwards and yelled as one of the long, creeping tendrils that had secured itself around his legs wrenched him backwards. Ianto grabbed for his arm and held on for as long as he could, but the pulsing mass that had filled the tunnel behind them drew Jack towards it fiercely and they lost their grip on each other. "Jack!"

Rick grabbed him and pulled him back so that he could get into the tunnel, Anton close behind him, both with knives drawn. "Go for the main tentacles. Ianto, get Jack."

He didn't really need telling already he had a knife from somewhere and was forcing his way through the attacking tendrils, reaching out for Jack's outstretched hand. "Don't let go," he snarled, as he caught Jack's fingers with his own and used the slight grip to grab his whole hand. "Don't you ever let go."

Jack grabbed onto Ianto's arm with his other hand as well, and Ianto had to hold on tight to a fusebox to stop himself being dragged away with him. Rick ducked under and found the main tentacle holding Jack up, driving his knife deep into it, so that the creature's screams joined Jack's yells. Orlando took aim and found the narrower tentacle that was wrapped around Jack's leg and it dropped him, the tendril lashing out and catching him hard across the back as he dropped into Ianto's arms. Ianto dragged him away, out of reach, and Anton and Rick followed them, slashing at the tentacles whenever they came close. "Everyone out, out!" Rick yelled.

Next to them, Tosh slammed a tiny bomb onto the tunnel wall, and Owen helped Ianto to drag Jack out. Once they were out in the open and the creature was writhing in the entrance of the tunnel she detonated the bomb, and the screaming was obliterated by a rumbling crunch. Jack wrenched his arm away from Owen and clung onto Ianto, dragging them both to the ground, where Ianto held him tightly and ran the fingers of one hand gingerly down his spine, feeling for injuries. A raised welt, as wide as two of his fingers, ran diagonally from the bottom of Jack's ribcage on one side to the jut of his hip on the other. Hissing, Jack pressed his face against Ianto's shoulder when he pressed down, then chuckled and pulled back before Ianto could lift his T shirt to examine it. "I'll live," he pointed out with a wince, letting Owen help him up. "It's not so bad."

Owen met Ianto's eyes over Jack's shoulder when Jack bent to help him up and shrugged. "It's not broken the fabric, so it's probably not infected or anything. I'm sure you can take a little soreness."

Jack rolled his eyes and released Ianto. The others were putting their weapons away slowly and turning to face them again, their wariness heightened. "No going back now," he pointed out quietly. "We need to get out of here fast."

"If we push, can you keep up, Jack?" Rick asked.

"Yeah, I'll keep up," he reached for his bag and glared when Ianto grabbed it before him. "Ianto..."

"You can have it back when you can actually carry it," Owen interjected. "Now let's move."

"Where?"

Jack met Martin's eye and nodded. "To Brussels. As fast as we can."

Martin nodded. "With any luck, there'll be politicians there waiting to aid our passage through Europe."

"Then let's get going," the Doctor dragged his gaze away from the blocked tunnel entrance and glanced briefly in Jack's direction. "Follow me."

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