Part 2: Sarah Jane Smith
Jack paused for a second, then spoke slowly.
"The file on the artifact indicates that it seems to be one half of something."
Gwen nodded at the screen.
"Well, I think we've found the other."
"They must be masking the signal from the stolen one."
Jack accessed the GPS network, cross-referencing the coordinates of the signal detected with the national property database. After about a minute, they had a match.
"It's a private house. Owner's one Sarah Jane Smith."
"Where have I heard that name before?"
"Whoever she is, she's in trouble. If those men go after her..."
Jack knew Gwen was right. They were trained professionals, used to dealing with alien threats. And they had had an advanced warning. But a private citizen with no warning whatsoever was a different story. Sarah Jane Smith was about to find herself in a whole world of trouble.
But he knew he'd heard that name somewhere before. Before he could pursue that train of thought any further, Owen joined him and Gwen.
"How are they?" Gwen asked.
"They're awake. They'll be a bit woozy for the next few hours, but they should make a full recovery."
Owen nodded to the screen.
"What've we got here?"
"The intruders stole an artifact, one half of a sphere. The other half's in London, in the house belonging to a Sarah Jane Smith," Jack explained. Owen frowned.
"I know that name. Heard it somewhere recently."
So it wasn't just himself, Jack noted.
"Was it written down?" Gwen asked, hoping to jog Owen's memory. He nodded.
"Yes, on a book or something..."
Owen snapped his fingers.
"Got it! Be back in a sec."
Owen headed over to the lift leading up to reception. Jack turned to the computer and called up the file on Sarah Jane Smith. He raised an eyebrow in surprise as the contents loaded.
"Wow! Her file's bigger than all of ours combined. She's been a busy woman."
Jack started looking through the contents, from the most recent events.
"Spotted at Deffry Vale high school around the same time as those UFO sightings. She's an investigative journalist. Several reports and awards...hel-lo!"
"What is it?"
"She's connected to UNIT."
Jack could have kicked himself. Gwen had been with Torchwood for three days now, and he still hadn't fully briefed her.
"The United Nations Intelligence Taskforce. Founded in the 1960s by Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart to combat 'new and unusual threats to mankind'."
"But that means they're doing the same thing as us?"
"Not exactly. When it comes to extraterrestrial affairs, they're the military and we're the CIA."
Gwen leaned back in her chair.
"And we're above the UN."
He turned back to the computer and continued to flick through Sarah Jane Smith's file. As he did, a sudden hope struck him. Sarah Jane Smith was connected to UNIT, as was the Doctor. Maybe she would be able to...no, it was too much to hope for. Jack needed the Doctor, that was why he was in Cardiff. But he also knew enough about life to know that opportunities like that didn't get handed to you on a silver platter.
Gwen's gentle query cut through Jack's contemplation.
"Are you alright?"
Jack nodded reassuringly.
"I'm fine. Just lost in thought."
Gwen could understand. Owen joined them at that point, and there was an air of triumph about him.
"Knew I'd seen it somewhere. It's that book Ianto's reading."
He placed a book down on the table, and Jack saw that it was a novel. A sci-fi novel to be precise, and the name 'Sarah Jane Smith' was written down the spine.
"So she's an author, too," Jack commented as he picked up the book. He quickly read the first two pages. He then slowly closed the novel and placed it on the desk. It seemed like an imaginative piece of writing, but to those who knew the truth it was obvious. Sarah Jane Smith knew the Doctor. And with that, Jack knew what he had to do.
"We've got to warn her."
He caught a look of approval from Gwen. Jack turned back to the computer and called up the phone directory website, searching for Sarah Jane Smith in London. He then reached for the phone and dialed.
August 15, 2007
1523 hours local time
Sarah Jane Smith raced down the stairs, to get to the phone before the answering machine kicked in. She was expecting a call from the vice-president of the local TV station, in relation to the murder of one of the station's best newsreaders. She had been in the shower when the phone started ringing, and so she'd quickly wrapped a towel around herself and bolted for the phone. The answering machine picked up just as she reached the third step from the bottom.
"Hello, you've reached Sarah Jane Smith. I am unable to come to the phone at the moment, but if you leave your name and number I will call you back as soon as possible."
The beep sounded just as Sarah reached the bottom of the stairs. Much to her surprise, the voice that spoke was American.
"Ms Smith, this is Captain Jack Harkness of the Torchwood Institute. We're aware of your UNIT connections, and we've detected an artifact of extraterrestrial origin emitting a six-phase signal across the electromagnetic and other spectrums at your house. A similar artifact was stolen from our base less than half an hour ago, and I felt you should be warned. Consider this a heads-up."
There was a click and the machine beeped, indicating the end of the call. Sarah just stood there, stunned.
"Definitely not the call I was expecting. K-9!"
K-9 Mark 4 emerged from the living room and joined Sarah at the bottom of the staircase.
"K-9, there's a message on the answering machine. It's from a Jack Harkness. Are you able to trace the call?"
Without being asked, K-9 trundled over and plugged himself into a spare socket on the phone line. Sarah turned and headed back up the stairs, to get dressed.
Five minutes later and now fully clothed, Sarah rejoined K-9 at the bottom of the stairs.
"Location confirmed, mistress. Call was made from Cardiff."
"Correct. Records indicate that the artifact referred to in message was acquired by you in Australia during May 1994."
Sarah closed her eyes and thought back into decades of memories. After a few seconds, she had it. A sort of hemisphere, glowing a bright yellow colour. It was obviously half of something, and the other half had just been stolen. Or so the mysterious Captain Harkness had claimed. A plan of action was forming in Sarah's mind, but there was something she needed to know.
"K-9, could you please establish a secure line to Colonel John Benton at UNIT?"
Sarah picked up the handset as K-9 established the connection. Benton answered after three rings.
"Colonel Benton, UNIT."
"John, it's Sarah Jane Smith."
There was a note of genuine delight in Benton's voice. He always enjoyed speaking to Sarah.
"Hello, Sarah. How are you?"
"Fine, thank you. How are things at UNIT?"
"Busy, as usual. I'm guessing this isn't a social call?"
Sarah had Benton's home number, and she usually called him after business hours if it was a social thing.
"It isn't. I've received a warning, of sorts. What do you know of an outfit called 'the Torchwood Institute'."
There was an intake of breath on the other end of the phone line.
"A fair bit, Sarah. Too much to talk about on the phone. I can have a courier bring a copy of the file to your house."
Although Sarah didn't have a security clearance, he knew she could be discreet. Since arriving back on Earth, she'd been involved in several adventures with UNIT and not one of them had been leaked.
"That won't be needed, John. I'll pick it up on my way to the airport. You're still under the Tower?"
"Yes. I didn't know you were leaving town?"
"I'll be on the next flight to Cardiff."
August 15, 2007
1734 hours local time
A couple of hours after he'd placed the phone call, Jack was still trying to justify it to Owen.
"I still can't see why you couldn't have pretended to be UNIT," Owen said for what must have been the fourth or fifth time. Jack sighed in exasperation.
"She has UNIT connections."
"Yeah, from the 1970s."
"She'd have called her old contacts and discovered the deception in minutes. The warning would be useless and she could end up dead."
"We don't know if she's acted on it," Gwen pointed out.
"We can find out," Jack replied, "Tosh?"
Tosh nodded and entered a command into the computer, searching for traces of Sarah Jane Smith's movements within the last couple of hours. The computer bleeped and brought up a result.
"We have something."
Gwen, Jack and Owen turned to look at Tosh as she opened up the single record the search had recovered.
"She boarded a British Airways flight from London to Cardiff."
Tosh turned away from the computer screen and met the gaze of her teammates.
"It landed five minutes ago."
All eyes turned to Jack.
"Don't look at me. I routed the call through five satellites and an exchange in Denmark. And I didn't mention where we were."
There was a critical note in Owen's reply.
"Well, she's found us."
Jack was impressed, despite himself. He hadn't met Sarah Jane Smith, but already he was beginning to like her.
They had to keep an eye out for her. And hopefully they'd be able to reach her before the aliens did.
"Tosh, keep an eye on the hotels."
Jack strode over to the intercom.
"Ianto, any sign of the visitors?"
Ianto was in the board room above the main command centre of the hub, keeping an eye on the CCTV feed from the cameras around Roald Dahl Plass and the Millennium Centre. The reception room was a mess, and the desk needed to be replaced.
"No sign, sir."
Jack nodded. He'd expected as much. The intruders had gotten what they'd come for. All the same, they needed to get to the bottom of this.
"Owen, did you manage to find out any more about that artifact?"
Owen shook his head.
"Not based on what we've recorded. Seems to be an energy storage of some sort."
"What sort of energy?" Tosh asked. Owen shrugged.
"I dunno. But it's not anything harnessed by man."
"Could it be something known to man but not harnessed, then?" Gwen asked. Jack nodded.
"That's always a possibility."
A bleep brought the four operatives' attention back to the computer.
"She's checked into a hotel, the Amadeus."
So she had some style then, Jack thought. The Amadeus was a five-star hotel, one of the best in the city.
"Room number?" Jack asked as he reached for the phone.
A few blocks away, Sarah had barely put her suitcase down before the phone began to ring. Assuming it was room service, she answered it.
"Sarah Jane Smith?"
She recognised the voice.
"Yes. Captain Jack Harkness?"
"I got your message. I appreciate the warning."
"Glad to hear it. Now this may sound a little bit forward, but I think we need to meet."
Sarah considered it for a second. She'd read the UNIT file on Torchwood on the flight from London, and had been slightly shocked to find they'd listed the Doctor as an enemy. But on the other hand, the Doctor wasn't around to help her this time. And finding Torchwood was one of the reasons she'd come to Cardiff. She knew they'd have to work together, sooner or later, in order to get to the bottom of this.
"Agreed. Did you have a location in mind?" she asked.
"Roald Dahl Plass, just outside the Millennium Centre. There's a pillar with water cascading down it just in the middle of the square. I'll meet you as soon as you can get there."
"See you then."
Sarah hung up. She then picked up the bag she'd carried onto the plane with her and left the room.
Seven minutes later, Sarah reached the fountain Jack had described. She looked around in the early evening light. There weren't that many people around, most people were inside having dinner. There was noone near the fountain. She turned around slowly, scanning the area for any signs of danger.
"I can guess what brings you to Cardiff, Ms Smith."
The voice from behind startled her. She turned around and was surprised to see a young man standing behind her. He was wearing an outfit that wouldn't have looked out of place during the Second World War, despite the fact that he only appeared to be in his mid-thirties. She'd recognised his voice, having heard it twice before.
"You must be Captain Harkness."
He shot her a warm grin.
"You can call me Sarah."
Jack nodded in the direction Sarah had been looking.
"This way. The front door's a short walk away."
They walked side-by-side, Jack leading Sarah towards the entrance to the main reception office.
"How did you find us?" Jack asked.
"I traced the call."
Sarah paused for a moment, then reached into her bag and pulled out her artifact.
"You said you'd lost yours. I thought it might be easier to get to the bottom of this if we worked together."
"How could I refuse?"
The grin dropped from his face a second later.
"How much do you know about Torchwood?"
"Everything UNIT knows."
Jack nodded. He'd guessed as much. Meanwhile, Sarah noticed a figure step out in front of them. A man with no hair, wearing a black suit and with glowing yellow eyes.
"Jack, did the intruders look anything like that?"
Jack looked over and swore.
Jack turned, to see another of the aliens behind them. As he and Sarah looked around, another six of the aliens stepped out of the early evening shadows and formed a circle around them. They were trapped.