Chapter Fourteen: Rescue
Summary: In the wake of his untimely death, Ianto Jones accepts a deal that will change his life forever.
Warnings: Spoilers for The Series That Never Was (AKA, Children of Earth); brief descriptions of torture
X-over: Torchwood/Doctor Who/Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter books.
A/N: Next chapter – Jack and Artemis.
Go Here For Chapter Thirteen
"How is it," Artemis asked lazily, "that your blood doesn't taste any different to other humans? I mean, you're immortal, so there should be something... anything! But you're just pathetically, annoyingly normal. I don't get it!"
Jack said nothing. He didn't even attempt to speak. Firstly, he'd learnt early on that it was pointless to try and answer when she either didn't believe him or simply didn't want to know. Secondly, it was kind of hard to answer with his lips sewn shut.
That, in itself, didn't bother him as much as he supposed it should have. After all, the Master had done it to him at least half a dozen times – twice to starve him and four times purely to shut him up. No, what bothered him was the thread that Artemis had used.
Far from being ordinary thread, what she'd used had apparently been woven by Athena herself, made from the fire of the gods. Jack believed it, too. It burned like the Sun. He was in agony, with no apparent sign of relief.
He hung before Artemis, naked and suspended cruelly by his wrists. His toes just touched the floor, ensuring that any relief on his strained arms and wrists was impossible to achieve. His entire body was alight with pain, for Artemis had used the same thread that she'd used to sew his lips shut, wrapping it around his body from head to toe in a criss-cross pattern. That was after she had flayed him innumerable times.
Jack was beyond having the wherewithal to backchat her. Now, it was all he could do to keep his thoughts focused and centred – specifically, away from Ianto.
"See, I can't even make you a Dark Hunter," Artemis mused. "I would, you know, just to piss off Ash. And you are pretty enough. But I can't reach your soul. It's there, but I can't access it. Whatever was done to you, sweetie, it was the whole package. Lock, stock and two smoking cannons. The whole burrito. You get my meaning?"
If Jack had had the strength and presence of mind to roll his eyes, he would have. Her crappy, wrongly-phrased puns were almost as much of a torture as the fire thread was. He wasn't fully aware of Artemis approaching until she was running her fingernails over his body, forcing a strangled scream of pain from his mutilated lips. She looked him over with the same clinical interest that Emily Holroyd had displayed when dissecting a new alien. Artemis was insane, he realised. It was a functional insanity, like the Master, but she was undisputedly insane nonetheless.
He wanted to weep, knowing that this vindictive, psychopathic bitch held Ianto's soul captive.
"You aren't as pretty as Ash, or even Nick," Artemis mused, sounding for the world like she was having a simple conversation over coffee and cake. "You are very easy on the eyes, though. And of course, I can't just let you go. I can't risk my brother's son getting hold of you. I'm sure you understand. So, I'm just going to keep you here, where I can play with you whenever I feel like it."
She smiled brightly at him; a look that sent shudders through Jack. That look definitely reminded him of the Master. Worse, though, was the sickening realisation that if he remained captive to this crazy bitch, he might never see Ianto again. The reality of that fear hit him like a sledgehammer, and a single tear escaped his eye.
The fear he felt for himself was secondary, although not entirely missing. He was desperately scared, and he wasn't ashamed to admit it. What terrified him above and beyond all else was not knowing what danger Ianto might place himself in, trying to find him and rescue him. More than anything, Jack wanted Ianto to be safe.
Pain flared across his back and he screamed in agony, a reaction that only caused him yet more pain as he tried involuntarily to open his mouth. She was whipping him again, and would continue to do so until the flesh of his back was thoroughly shredded. Then she would gorge on his blood, which would send her into a mindless frenzy which would most likely end in torture, rape and death – not necessarily in that order.
His strangled screams were just starting to subside into gurgling moans when his strained and tired eyes caught an unexpected flash of light and he blinked dazedly. He was starting to hallucinate because for a moment there, he could have sworn he could see Ianto. Except, he knew that Ianto couldn't possibly be there, because Artemis – canny bitch that she was – had somehow managed to replicate Toshiko's final technological triumph, the time lock. How she'd done it, he didn't know, but she had frozen time within a private chamber hidden deep beneath her palace on Mount Olympus. Time continued to move on around them, but they were locked away inside a time bubble that kept them isolated and beyond the reach of anyone who might have been willing to rescue him.
Jack shut his eyes in grief, willing the apparition away. It hurt far too much to be imagining his young lover now. More likely, Ash had probably decided that he'd cut and run, and there really was no evidence to suggest otherwise. He risked opening his eyes again, and found that the image of Ianto had been replaced with that of an enormous, blue-skinned man with horns... horns?
Jack's eyes snapped wide open as he recognised Ash in what had to be his true god form. Then, he recognised Simi at his shoulder, looking frighteningly ravenous. Behind them, he recognised Dev and Vane, and then his bloodshot eyes widened even more to take in the sight of someone that he had quietly hoped he would never see again.
And beside him, the Doctor?
I've lost my mind, Jack thought miserably. I am officially insane.
He let his eyes slide shut once more, resigned to being lost inside the caverns of his own mind. Therefore, it was a major shock to the system when a very real voice bellowed thunderously, damn near deafening him.
Caught up in the frenzy of what she was doing, Artemis never noticed the odd blue box appear almost directly in front of Jack. She never noticed the beings that emerged from within that odd blue box. She did, however, notice when Apostolos roared her name in rage.
Dropping her whip, the goddess of the hunt leapt back in fright – a fright that was compounded when she saw Savitar.
"How did you find us?" she demanded, her fear serving to accentuate her rapidly growing hysteria. The Doctor stepped forward, and his entire presence radiated fury at the state that Jack was in. At that moment, he was every bit the Oncoming Storm.
"I am the Doctor. I'm the Last of the Time Lords from the planet Gallifrey. I ended the Time War and I've faced legions of Daleks and Cybermen. I even fought the devil. I've trapped my enemies in time itself for far less than what you've done; not only to Jack but to so many others over the course of your existence. Right now, at this moment, I struggle to find one single reason why I shouldn't end you."
"You can't talk to me like that!" Artemis protested. "I'm a god!"
"You are merely a being who is incapable of dying a natural death," the Doctor snapped. "Believe me, you are not eternal. A time will come when you won't even exist as a footnote in the annals of human history. Jack, on the other hand, will become a legend throughout the universe and I can't allow you to interfere with him any longer.
Artemis sneered at him, though it was obvious she was far less confident that she tried to appear. "Oh, sweetie, have you ever got the wrong end of the tree."
"Stick," Ash, Dev, Vane and Ianto all muttered.
Artemis glared at them and gave an imperious flick of her hair.
"Whatever. What you ought to realise is that I am not giving him up. You might think you're going to take him, but all I need to do is summon my father and not only will he put an end to pretty boy there, he'll also end each and every one of you."
"Artemis, you stupid, arrogant bitch," Savitar said in a bored voice. "Go ahead, call your daddy. Let's finally see just how powerful he is next to Apostolos. And even if he won, you know what would happen then."
Artemis paled. Yes, she knew all too well that Acheron's death would release Apollymi from her prison in Kalosis, resulting in not only the end of the human world, but of the entire Greek pantheon into the bargain. She glared at Savitar, but her anger had lost much of its heat.
"What do you, of all people, care about one insignificant human?"
"You heard the skinny alien," Savitar said bluntly, ignoring the indignant squawk from the Doctor. "Jack may be a lot of things, but insignificant is not one of them. Now, cut him down, or I'll personally give the okay for Simi to eat you."
"The Simi's got her barbeque sauce just in case," Simi spoke up with a wicked grin. "Lots and lots of barbeque sauce for the heifer goddess."
Artemis turned to Ash, making one last ditch effort to keep her dignity.
"You'll pay for this. One way or another, I will get payment from you." Her gaze shifted to Ianto. "And as for you, you traitorous little bastard..."
"Oh, we'll get to what you'll do for him shortly," Savitar interrupted. "Right now, you're going to release Jack. Now, Artemis!"
"Fine," she snarled and, with a flick of her wrist, Jack, fell abruptly to the floor with a painful thud. His groan of pain quickly escalated into a muffled scream as the fire thread that bound him came away, like string being pulled off a leg of lamb. It was slow and utterly torturous. Artemis' glee at causing that extra bit of suffering was short-lived, though, when Ianto uttered a cry of rage at her unnecessary cruelty, and launched himself at Artemis.
She fended him off easily, flipping the young Dark Hunter to the floor and quickly pinning him beneath her with a very sharp blade to his throat.
"Oh, sweetie, that was a very big mistake you just made."
"Enough!" Ash exploded, his patience rapidly wearing out. "Simi, neutralise Artemis."
Artemis barely had time to widen her eyes before Simi tackled her, teeth bared and eyes alight with demonic power.
"The Simi doesn't like it when her Yan and Jacky gets hurt," she hissed. "They's quality peoples, and the Simi looks after her quality peoples."
"Ash, get her off me!" Artemis screamed. Ash came to stand over her, still in god form and his eyes blazing with barely-controlled rage.
"Why should I?"
She stared up at him, wide-eyed as it began to sink in that this time, he might just choose not to save her. Savitar joined them, along with Vane and Dev in animal form, while Ianto and the Doctor helped Jack.
"None of us feel much like helping you after this," Savitar mused. "You've done some pretty spiteful things before, but this is definitely up there with the worst of them." He looked back over his shoulder as Ianto lifted Jack carefully up off the floor. "Take care of him. We'll be along shortly."
The Doctor hesitated, frowning at Savitar in suspicion. Savitar pointed at the TARDIS, and his tone brooked no argument. "Go. Get your scrawny alien ass inside your ship. Leave this to the grown-ups to deal with now."
The Doctor went, huffing indignantly.
"Grown-ups. That's rich..."
He went without further argument, though, disappearing into the TARDIS behind Ianto, and leaving Savitar and the others to deal with Artemis.
"Why?" Ash demanded, glaring down at Artemis. "Why take him? Why torture him like that? And don't say it was to stop Stryker from using him, because you know damn well that his immortality is unique. It can't be transferred to anyone else."
"What can I say?" Artemis said with a shrug – a gesture that was not so easy to perform with Simi sitting on her. "I wanted a pet. He was perfect, because I could do whatever I liked with him, and he just reset every time."
"You really are a heartless bitch," Savitar said bluntly.
"Trees and rocks," Artemis snapped. "Now, get this demon off me, or I'll send the cute kid's soul straight to Tartarus."
The threat broke what little control Dev and Vane still had, and both bear and wolf lunged forward with a roar and a snarl. Artemis screamed again, but all her struggles could not free her from Simi's hold. Savitar smiled coldly.
"No, you won't. You'll release Ianto's soul to me or like I said before, I will personally give the go-ahead for Simi to chow down on your vacuous head."
"You wouldn't dare," Artemis whispered, but even as she protested she saw a different truth in Savitar's cold and calculating stare.
"No? Go ahead, then. Call my bluff, Artemis. Let's see what happens." She said nothing, and Savitar nodded in satisfaction. "That is the first smart thing you've done so far. Now, I'm sure you'll remember the little gift that Apollymi gave to Tori, and that your idiotic attempt to kill her resulted in Ash's need for your blood to keep him same to be cancelled out. So tell me, Artemis, how will killing you be a bad thing? Because I'm sure we can find someone to take your place."
By then, Artemis' face was the colour of snow, and all the fight had completely gone out of her as she found herself confronted by a very real and palpable threat.
"Let me go," she begged, and they could all see the humiliation in her face at being reduced to such a pathetic wreck. "You can have the kid's soul, and I'll even leave the freak alone..."
Simi hissed in Artemis' face, causing the goddess to scream in fright.
"Not a freak," Simi snarled, rage releasing her full demonic nature for all present to see. "The Simi's Jacky is special. The heifer goddess is wrong. Say sorry, heifer goddess, or the Simi is gonna chow down on you."
"Sorry," Artemis gasped. "I'm sorry."
Simi smirked and then looked up to Savitar and Ash hopefully.
"Akri? Can the Simi have one little taste? Pretty please?"
For a moment, it seemed that Ash was actually considering letting her do it. Then, he drew in a long, calming breath and shook his head.
"No, Simi. Not today. We have what we came for. We saved Jack. It's time to leave."
"Poop," Simi pouted, but obediently released Artemis from her grasp. "The Simi gots her hopes all up, and there's Akri-Papa saying that word again that the Simi don't like."
Ash smiled fondly as she retreated to his side but maintained her demonic form.
"The soul, Artemis," Savitar said sternly. The threat in his tone could be heard by all present, and Artemis dared not argue. She held an innocuous looking bottle out and Savitar took it in a single, swift grab. The bottle disappeared from sight as quickly as it had appeared, and Savitar allowed himself a small smirk.
"Now, say goodbye, Artemis."
Artemis' eyes widened just a split second before she vanished from sight. Startled silence reigned, and then Ash spoke quizzically as he transformed back into his preferred human state.
"Do I want to know what you did with her, or should I just not ask?"
"I thought I'd cut her some slack," Savitar said, sounding entirely too smug for Ash's liking. "I sent her to where she can get complete rest."
"Oh, goddesses, you didn't send her to Venus, did you?" Vane asked with a groan. "She'll be totally pissed..."
"Relax, wolf," Savitar snapped. "I didn't send her to Venus. I sent her to the Eleysian Fields."
Again, and probably not for the last time, stunned silence reigned.
"What did Akri-Savitar do that for?" Simi asked with a pout. "Them's nice places. The heifer cow don't belong in nice places."
Ash, however, understood, and a low chuckle rumbled deep in his chest.
"The Eleysian Fields wipe your memory clean. Artemis won't have a clue who she is, and she'll be so content that she won't care."
"Obviously, it's not going to be permanent," Savitar conceded, sounding mildly regretful. "Sooner or later, one of the other gods will work out where she is and pull her out of there. But until that happens, you'll get some peace and she'll be safe from whatever pain in the ass bullshit she usually gets up to. Now, let's go wrap this up. I have a wave to catch."
"We never did find out how she managed to shift time," Ash pointed out as they entered the TARDIS.
"She didn't," Savitar said. "It was like a sort of time bubble, and I think we'll find that she paid a secret visit to her grandfather in order to do it."
"Kronos?" Ash murmured, quietly horrified.
"Exactly. Which is how I knew she was bluffing about calling Zeus. If he knew she'd been dealing with the king of the Titans, he'd end her himself. She was messing with something that she had no hope of controlling. Stupid, ignorant little girl."
"What is it about Jack that he's worth so much trouble?" Dev wondered incredulously. Savitar looked simultaneously pained and resigned.
"He's destined for a future that none of us will probably be around to witness." He paused, and then smiled wryly. "Well, maybe one of us will be."
A slight frown crossed Ash's face. "What do you mean? If we give Ianto back his soul, he'll regain his mortality and he won't live for a fraction of Jack's lifespan."
Savitar, however, only smirked and said nothing.
to be continued...
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