Chapter 14 The voice of the nightingale
”Reports are coming in from all over Cardiff.” Gwen announced a few hours later. They had relocated to the Hub, leaving Ianto with Orion at Rhiannon’s house. Jack had tried to make Ianto go too, but he had been adamant about staying. Nothing Jack said could make him leave their son now. Secretly Jack felt a great respect for that, as well as a lingering jealousy, that was well hidden, but there none the less. He wished he too had the privilege to stay, but he was the Captain. He was the leader. He had no choice. With an effort he pulled his thoughts together and focused on the situation at hand.
“Children are poring into the hospitals and clinics. All of them with the same symptoms.” Gwen proceeded. She switched over to a live news feed on the computer. The news anchorman looked stern and serious. The caption running along the bottom of the screen said Epidemic of mysterious disease in Cardiff. The image in a corner of the screen showed people in blue environment suits were milling around on a parking lot in front of a hospital. ‘They look like spacesuits’ Gwen thought to her self as she watched them push unconscious children around on gurneys and anxious parents rushing along side. The image changed to show a ruffled looking reporter with a microphone in one hand and holding the other up to her earpiece. When informed that she was on the air, she went into action immediately. With a great flourish she swept her arm to encompass the vista behind her and dramatically proclaimed:
“What you see behind me is nothing short of at disaster. The future of Cardiff hangs in the balance as our children fight for their lives at this very moment. With me is Doctor Martha Jones,” she indicated the beautiful young woman now appearing in the frame with her. “Dr. Jones, what can you tell us about this awful tragedy?”
Jack beamed radiantly. If she was on the case, then they stood a chance; he was sure of it. He dug into his pocket in search of his phone.
“Tragedy? Please. We are not at that point yet,” she held up her hand to forestall the flood of questions that were sure to follow. “No one has died yet; and we are working very hard to keep it that way. I assure you, there is no need to get carried away. The finest doctors in the country, and indeed the world are on the case. All of them are trying to find a cure for this.” Dr. Jones smiled soothingly; applying the utmost calm bedside manner in an effort to do some damage control. The last thing any of them needed was a mass panic.
“Is there any news on the cause of this illness?” the reporter smiled coldly. She resented being forced to do this kind of work at her point in her carrier. She should have been sitting in the nice warm studio presenting the news, instead of treading around disease infested cities and probably catching who-knew-what.
“None at this time, I’m afraid. We have a lot of people investigating this. It will only be a matter of time before we find our answers.” She smiled winningly.
“But surely you must be able to tell us something? Why are only the children getting sick? Why…” again Dr. Jones held up her hand for silence. The reporter reluctantly bowed down.
“As I said before, we are doing all we can to find the answers to those questions. Now you must excuse me; I need to get back to work.”
Dr. Martha Jones noticed that her phone began to ring almost the very second the camera lights went off. She dug it out of her pocket as the reporter thanked her. When she saw the caller id, she smiled. ‘Should have known.’
“Doctor Martha Jones. Voice of the nightingale.” The boisterous voice announced to her when she answered. She lit up in a smile.
“Captain Jack Harkness, I’ve been expecting your call.”
An hour later she found her self sitting in the meeting room of Torchwood Cardiff, deep under Roald Dahl Plass. She suddenly wished that she could actually some day get to visit the Hub without some dire crisis in the making. But this was not that day.
“So, if UNIT is involved, it must mean you suspect foul play.” Jack proclaimed and looked at her expectantly. “Care to share?” She smiled at him.
“That is why I volunteered to come.” Jack beamed at her. “UNIT wants to offer full cooperation to Torchwood Cardiff and I will serve as liaison.” Jack nodded his agreement. So she continued.
“UNIT is setting up a base of operations at Llandaff Fields; it is close to Rookwood Hospital.” Jack nodded. He of course knew the place quite well. “UNIT troops, the Army and the Home Guard will be placed to help with crowd control and to help any way they can. The Army is flying in some MASH units to assist as well.” Owen paled. This thing was massive.
“How many are sick?” he asked. Martha looked at him a moment before replying.
“The exact number is still unclear, but it’s in the hundreds, if not in the thousands. We don’t really know yet. A lot of the patients are at home with their parents and have not yet been brought in. But it is vital that they will be. And soon.” Owen nodded in comprehension, but both Gwen and Toshiko looked confused. Martha noticed.
“They will need proper care. They are unconscious, so they can’t eat or drink for themselves. They will need IV-fluids and tube-feeding. They will also need diapers, since they can’t go to loo and there will also be hygiene issues to tend to as well.” The two women both understood now, how grave the situation had become. They would need a lot of people to look after all those children. There were 341.000 people in Cardiff; many of them would be young children.
Jack was pale and withdrawn; his thoughts were with Orion and the other kids. His little boy, his special little wonder. Oddly the image of Orion sleeping on Ianto’s chest the very first night came to him. It had been the night of the infamous weevil hunt. The one he had brought Orion on. He shook his head. How could he have been so careless? He had put his son at risk then. Nothing had come of it though, but now... Had he caused his son’s illness? Him and Torchwood? Had it been some alien whose bacteria and viruses he had brought back home with him? He shook himself violently to dispel the awful thoughts.
“You haven’t answered my question.” He said gruffly. Martha looked at him curiously. “Is it foul play?” Gwen looked shocked that she hadn’t considered an attack herself.
“Terrorists?” she whispered. Jack gave her an annoyed glance.
“It’s possible.” Martha conceded. “But you of all people must know that it’s too soon…” she didn’t get any further, as Jack jumped from his seat looking furious. He slammed his fist into the table; making Owen and the others jump. Martha remained as she was. She had dealt with an angry Timelord without flinching. Two actually, when counting the Master. She could certainly deal with one Captain Jack Harkness. She met his glare straight on.
“My son is lying in a sickbed, as we speak. His two cousins lying next to him. His nephew is also sick. So don’t give me that codswallop. Tell me!” There were looks of shock all around the table. Both because of Jack’s strong reaction, but also because of the revelation Jack had unwittingly made. ‘nephew?’ Gwen mouthed to Owen and Toshiko, who were equally in the dark.
“Your… your son!” Martha’s voice quivered. “I had no idea. I… I didn’t know you have a son.” She was rather shaken by this. How come he hadn’t told her? She had thought they were close enough friends for him to tell her about something as big as that. Besides if he had a vested interest in this case, then he could potentially become a liability to the mission. If it turned out that there was foul play involved, as he put it, then he might go off and seek retribution. Not that she blamed him, but still. The situation would require careful supervision and handling.
Jack glared at her relentlessly. She knew something. That he was absolutely sure of. Why else would she and UNIT be here? She sighed heavily and looked at him.
“Look, I can tell you that UNIT suspects interference. Weather that is foreign, domestic or alien remains to be discovered. I can also tell you that we are dealing with a virus. The likes of which has not been seen on this world before. It targets children, but not all children.” The last made all of them sit up and at full attention. “It only targets children that have not entered puberty.”
“What!” Gwen shouted. Owen looked thoughtful.
“The hormones of adolescents and adults must influence the virus somehow.” Martha nodded excitedly.
“Yes, we think that…” she and Owen buried themselves in a lengthy discussion full of technical medical jargon. Jack participated every now and again, but he was soon out of his depth. He sent Gwen out after some food and told Toshiko to get cracking on the computers. With a glance at the two doctors he left the meeting room and went up to his office. Before he could enter though, he heard the lonely cry of Myfanwy. She was sitting on the floor of the Hub by the kitchen and looking quite forlorn. The sight broke his heart.
“We’ll bring him back to you safe and sound, girl. I promise.” He whispered. As he entered the office and shut the door behind him, Myfanwy raised her head and looked at where he had been.