Torchwood One was the biggest branch of the Torchwood Institute, Ianto had learned that the day he’d been recruited to the organisation. One had the largest number of field agents, so it made sense that they brought back the most exciting finds; alien tech, alien weapons, alien creatures…
One was the Institute’s flagship, with its base in the tall glass and chrome splendour of the Torchwood Tower, otherwise known as Canary Wharf. They were the elite, lording it over the smaller branches, issuing orders and expecting them to be obeyed. They were responsible for policy decisions and operations guidelines, it was One that had coined the phrase ‘If it’s alien, it’s ours’; anything its operatives found became property of Torchwood
With the greatest number of personnel it was only to be expected that the biggest advances in science and weaponry were made in the Tower’s gleaming labs. The Ghost Shifts had looked set to bring Hartman and her people even greater success, the biggest win since Torchwood’s inception, unlimited power for the British Empire!
Instead, they had caused the most devastating disaster in the Institute’s entire history, more than 95% of Torchwood One’s personnel either dead, missing, or converted, fates that were shared by countless civilians around the world. It was a global disaster; big teams might get the biggest wins, but when they fall they go down that much harder and there’s no knowing how many innocent people will be taken down with them.
Ianto had been in the middle of the battle, had seen colleagues and friends butchered by metal monsters, had survived by some miracle only to be faced with the overwhelming task of trying to save the woman he loved. Ultimately, that had proved impossible. He’d fled with her to Cardiff, one of the Institute’s smaller branches, using every trick he could come up with to gain entry to their base, hoping to find a way to restore Lisa to her former self. Failure had been inevitable; he’d simply been too deluded to see the truth until it was too late.
Torchwood Three was a much smaller team; the leader there had no dreams of Empire or lust for power. Three was as different from One as day from night, their goal was to protect the vulnerable and the innocent, whether human or alien, and to prevent dangerous technology from falling into the wrong hands. Their successes were on a smaller scale, yet to Ianto they were somehow more significant; one person saved, one tragedy prevented.
The bigger teams of London may have won big, when they won, but they’d lost big too. Big wasn’t necessarily better. Looking around at the small team he was a part of, Ianto smiled. There was a lot to be said for small groups, a greater camaraderie and a greater sense of belonging. When all was said and done, he knew he’d take small victories over big wins any day.