Friday, December 29, 2006

An abortive BC story

Following Spara's challenge, I wrote this. It depressed me, I stopped and maybe Cameron J Mason might finish it. Or maybe not.

Ben Chatham in...


1: Suffer the Children

Zeppelins fly through the sky, passing Torchwood Tower. The Head of Torchwood, Rose Tyler, sits in her desk in her office. Mickey Smith enters in a sharp suit looking over some print outs. The mood is sombre.

Rose: Nothing on the scanner today?

Mickey: (not looking up from papers) No, babe, same answer as yesterday and the day before that and every day since you started broadcasting. (puts down papers) Look, Rose, you gotta accept it. It's over. It ended at Bad Wolf Bay - not our fault, not his fault, but we're on our own now. The Doctor can't help us.

Rose: I know, I know! But there was another you in this universe, another dad, another mum. Why not another Doctor?

Mickey: Maybe his war with the Daleks actually ended here. There wasn't another you here. Maybe he wasn't born here either. Or maybe he's so different he couldn't care less about Earth.

Rose: That signal is set specifically to his TARDIS. He's got to pick it up!

Mickey: You mean, the TARDIS that he stole? The one that, if it exists, might belong to its proper owner, who doesn't go round the universe stirring up trouble? (sighs) Stochastic reports, sweetheart. Twelve times, same thing every time. Adapt or die.

Rose: There's got to be another way.

Mickey: We're still looking, but all the computers say the same. Unless we start by tomorrow, it won't work anyway.

Rose: And there's still not contact with any aliens?

Mickey: Nah. I told you, the Sycorax deal ended different here. A lot more screaming and threats - as far as the rest of the universe is concerned, Earth is marked "HERE BE MONSTERS". No one's coming. At least not soon enough to change things.

A chime. The wall screen lights up, showing Jake.

Jake: Mr Smith. Mrs Smith. Got a wandering idiot in the Fylingdale op. He says he's claiming his constitutional rights and he wants to contact the head of Torchwood.

Mickey: (rolls eyes) And we have to let him?

Jake: Unless President Jones rethinks the constitution.

Rose: (rubs eyes) OK, Jake. Put him through.

A blonde haired man is shoved into view. Mickey checks a palm computer.

Mickey: Benjamin Sebastian Chatham, archaeological student from Oxford. So, student boy, why aren't you smart enough to understand signs saying 'Torchwood - Keep Out'?

Ben: This is my dig. I started it three weeks ago.

Rose: According to the Xenotech Protocol act of 20.8 paragraph three, subsection two, Torchwood has full rights to all areas classified as alien incursions until as and when the situation is declared safe for citizens and Torchwood withdrawn. Don't you watch the news?

Ben: You're the same lot that took away my ear pods, you know how much they cost?

Mickey: You're lucky to still have your life. The ear pods are unsafe. The Presidium can give you all the details you want, student boy. So, if you want to go back to your rooms, we'll let you back in once the xeno tech is examined.

Ben: What? Like THIS xeno-tech?!

He holds up what looks like a sonic screwdriver with a crystal ball on the end.

Ben: I found it first, my privilege. So, if you want it, you can clear off my site.

Rose: We could just take it from you. It's within the law.

Ben: It's within the law to smash it here and now.

Rose: (annoyed) Look, Mr.... Chatham, was it? What do you want? If that's all the xeno-tech, give it to us and we'll be gone before lunch time.

Ben: I want, Mrs Smith, for you lot never to bother me again.

Mickey: (brightly) Oh, easy. Commander Simmonds there will just blow your head off.

Rose: Leave him alone, Mickey. (to Ben) You want some kind of official document? So you can wave it in our faces and make you leave us alone?

Ben: Oh, and some recompense for the time wasted and damage done.

Mickey: Seriously. We can shoot you. Not joking.

Rose: All right! Jake, keep searching for further evidence, and try not to make a mess. Have him brought here to me, and we can do a deal like proper human beings.

Ben: At last! I'm part of the Archaeological Preservers Trust, and we've been campaigning for Torchwood autonomy for the last two year--

Rose: Yeah, thanks for sharing, Mr. Chatham.

She switches off the screen.

Rose: God, as if things weren't bad enough.

Mickey: What are you going to do about him?

Rose: Get some very specific retcon brewed, Mickey. I want him to not remember anything about this dig and also be extremely mellow when it comes to outside interference.

Mickey makes a note.

Mickey: We are using that stuff too much nowadays.

Rose: Needs must when the devil drives, Mickey.

Mickey heads for the exit.

Mickey: The Doctor, he'd be real glad to see how you haven't changed.

Rose: I do what I have to do, Mickey. For us. For the human race.

She rises from her desk. She's eight months pregnant.

Rose: For our children.

2: Better the Devil...

Under guard, Ben Chatham is taken by a Torchwood van into an underground basement. After four security checks - passcard, voice recognition, retinal scan, they enter a lift and emerge on the top floor of Torchwood Tower. Ben is marched through to the glass office where Rose is placing three cups of tea on the desk. Mickey is looking out the window.

Rose: Ah, Mr. Chatham. Do sit down. You have milk or sugar in your tea?

Ben: (suspicious) I'll just have it plain.

Rose shrugs and puts aside the milk and sugar. She sits behind her desk.

Rose: You know how old I am, Mr. Chatham?

Ben: No.

Rose: Twenty-one. And you know what I've learned after all those years? You don't get something for nothing. There's always a price. And at the end of the day, the only choice we have is whether we are going to pay that price. You still with me?

Ben: Of course. I'm not an idiot.

Mickey: Course not. You gotta a first from Cambridge. Then again, standards are going downhill.
Ben glares at him.

Ben: Do you mind? I'm speaking to the organ grinder. Not the monkey.

Mickey: (smiles) If I'm the monkey, YOU are the hat we get the spare change in.

Ben: Look, I want to get on with my studies without you lot pestering me. Promise me that, and you can have this gadget.

He holds it up. Rose moves to take it, but Ben pulls it out of reach.

Ben: Deal?

Rose: (sighs) Any idea what it is?

Mickey runs his palm pilot near the device.

Mickey: Some kind of field generator. Still working, but that's all I can make out.

Rose: Any obvious use?

Mickey shakes his head.

Rose: Pity. All right, Mr. Chatham. Those are your terms. These are mine. You'll get your carte blanch - but first I want you to answer a question.

Ben: Go on?

Rose: When was the last time you saw a pregnant woman?

Ben: Just now. You. Obviously.

Rose: And before that?

Ben is quiet.

Rose: This year? Last year, maybe? When was the last time you saw a newborn baby?

Ben: (shrugs) I don't know. A couple of months ago.

Rose: And not one since. You heard about Barren Earth?

Ben: Oh, it's just another doomsday fear. Like global warming. That sorted itself out.

Rose: (bitterly) Cause it wasn't global warming, it was a dimensional breach. The facts, Mr. Chatham, is that there hasn't been a baby born in Britain for eight months. A year in New Germany. Three years for South Africa. Mankind is becoming sterile.

Ben: Nonsense.

Mickey: Is it? You read the papers. President Jones is authorizing a cut back of day care centres and nursery schools. Why? Cause they're not needed. The whole world is turning into Children of Man, 3-D.

Ben: What?

Rose: Never mind.

Ben: Look, you two seem rather... expectant. Are you infertile too?

Rose: No.

Mickey: But we're special. Not from this universe. But, oddly enough, having one breeding couple isn't going to save humanity, now, is it?

Rose: Hope not, this is painful enough the first time.

Ben: So... what?

Rose: We've checked it out. If things don't change, humanity has about another twenty five years and that's it. Extinction. Doesn't matter if we colonize Mars or cure all diseases, we're all gonna die and no one is going to replace us.

Ben: ...what's this got to do with me?

Mickey: (laughs) You're not part of humanity then?

Ben: I mean, why tell me this? What can I do? Stop being gay?

Rose: I'm not saying that. I'm just saying, you're a fit bloke. Your file says you've got not just boyfriends, but girlfriends.

Ben: So what? Breed for Britain, is that it?

Mickey: You couldn't anyway. I checked it out. You're as sterile as a petri dish. Dunno if you ever wanted kids, student boy, but you ain't ever having them, Barren Earth or not.

Ben blinks, falling quiet. He sips from his cup of tea.

Rose: But I can fix that.

Mickey: (quickly) Not the way you think.

Ben: Oh? How then?

Rose: Xeno-tech. One injection, you're fertile again. It's been adapted into a kind of benevolent STD. Any one of your parters will become fertile too. We just need someone...

Ben: As a test subject?

Rose: No. Just to be the first.

Ben: If you've got this magic potion, why not use it?

Rose: Because... it will make our children different. Strong, yeah, healthy, yeah. But not like us. I mean, they'll be human, no two heads. But genetically, they'll be, well, pure. None of your kids will have your DNA. If we do this... ethnic diversity ends.

Ben: Ethnic cleansing?

Mickey: Fraid so. In a hundred years time, there'll just be one type of humans. Not black, not white, not Chinese, not Asian... It's not some kind of evil master plan, you get that, right? We've spent over a year trying to change it. But it won't. And unless we get this into the population starting now, it won't make a difference.

Rose: So.... Ben. Are you willing to be the first? The man that saves mankind as a species?

Ben is uncertain.

3: Two Paths You Can Go Down

Mickey picks up a gun-like hypodermic needle device.

Mickey: Injects by hypo spray. Painless.

Ben: I haven't said yes! Look, why haven't you taken it?

Mickey: I don't need it, student boy. I'm not firing blanks, and my wife is living proof.

Ben: Does the President know what's going on?

Rose: (nods) Not all the details, but she's authorized us to use this stuff. As long as no one is killed, and birth rates rise and secrecy is maintained, she's happy. We're not just gonna make life, we're gonna save it. Twenty-three teenage girls committed suicide in last month alone, when they twigged they could never have kids. This will stop that.

Ben: There's got to be some other way.

Mickey: There is. Cybermen.

Ben: You're not suggesting...

Rose: No. We're not. But we've checked. Humanity's ground to a halt. Either we prevent death and become Cybermen, or we start over, with this (indicates hypo). The stuff only effects the next generation. You'll still be fine. So will any of your lovers.

Ben: You can't! You haven't seen the future, have you? How do you know we'll become extinct?

Rose: Believe it or not, Ben, me and Mickey have seen the future. But, no, we don't know if mankind will survive this century. All we know is that there is a 97.6 per cent chance it won't unless we release the virus here and now. Are you going to be the first?

Ben: I... (shakes his head) My head. Fuzzy.

Rose: Oh, that'll be the retcon. You'll wake up tomorrow, feeling nice and good and with a newfound respect for us. Oh, and you'll probably want to celebrate with one of your girl friends. Congratulations, in advance. Even if she doesn't want to keep it, she'll be fertile from now on.

Ben: Hey... hey, I... I didn't say...

Rose: Say what?

Ben: ...yes...

Rose: Oh, hear that Mickey? He agrees. Jab him one.

Ben's head falls back, eyes unfocussed. Mickey doesn't move.

Mickey: He didn't say yes, Rose.

Rose: Don't upset a pregnant woman, Mickey. Don't upset your boss. And never upset your boss when she's pregnant AND your wife. It's not gonna hurt him. Look, you know as well as I do. We've gotta survive.

Mickey nods and is about to inject Ben in the neck when he suddenly convulses.

Ben: No! No! Leave me alone!

Ben reaches forward and grabs the gadget. The crystal sphere flashes with lightening, that spreads out to totally engulf Ben. Rose and Mickey back away. Ben is now frozen, transparent, with energy coursing through him.

Mickey: What the hell is happening?

Rose: He's frozen... frozen in time.

Mickey: So, then, boss. What do we do now?

Rose glares at him.

The freezing energy releases Ben and he stumbles. Everything is spinning around him, looming closer and then drawing away. Ben takes a step, still clutching the gadget, then falls over and is violently sick. He rolls over, eyes opening. He's lying in the office – but it now deserted. Getting unsteadily to his feet, he looks around, still dazed. There is no one on the floor.

Ben: Huh... M... Mrs... Smith? Hello? What happened?

He moves through the chambers beyond.

Ben: What the hell happened? Where am I? (checks watch) That's stopped too. Hello?

Ben moves down to the lift, but loses his balance and falls over. He loses consciousness once more.

Mickey and Rose stand to one side as technicians are circling the frozen Ben. One technician, Griffin, approaches.

Griffin: Well, there's not much to be examined, but the energy aura seems to be decaying at an exponential rate. In a few hours it should clear completely and release him.

Mickey: Any idea what's happening to him?

Griffin: Like you said, Mr. Smith. He's frozen in time. Or rather, time is frozen around him. This man seems to have been projected into some other time and place, but not completely. Like a bit of elastic he'll snap back to the here and now when the energy field breaks down.

Rose: So, he should be all right?

Griffin: Should be. I'm sorry, but I can't be any more accurate than that.

Griffin moves off. Mickey sighs.

Mickey: There goes the lab rat. So, you want to try preparing to be put in the water supply? Cause, that could mean a population explosion...

Rose: No. We'll have to go public.

Mickey: Public? Rose, sugar, what are you thinking?

Rose: The Doctor once said that 'Your children are the door to the future and you may not enter.'

Mickey: He also said 'Many a mick micks a muckle'.

Rose: We'll get Harriet Jones to help, explain things.

Mickey: No one is going to take it, Rose. At least, not until it's too late.

Rose: Then we'll prove it's safe.

Mickey: And how do we do that?

Rose: Me. I'll take it.

Mickey stares at her in horror.

Mickey: You can't.

Rose: I can.

Mickey: You don't need it.

Rose: That's how I prove it's safe!

Mickey: But... (he indicates her stomach) what about the baby, huh?

Rose: It'll be all right. In the end. It's due in a week anyway. Mickey, we've got to do it. Make a stand. If I take it and come out all right, then they'll have to listen to us.

Mickey: But if you do... it won't be ours.

Rose: You were the one who said to try it!

Mickey: But not on us. We don't need it! You, me, your mum, we don't need it, the rest do!

Rose: And they won't take it. Unless I take it as well.

Mickey: No way, Rose Tyler. I won't let you!

Rose: You can't stop me.

She strides out.

4: The Shape of Things to Come

Ben awakes outside Rose’s office. He gets up, looking around. He spots the gadget on the floor next to him and pick it up. He crosses to the lift and moves to press the control. It is a different display to the one a while ago. He looks back. The Torchwood logo is missing, as is the equipment.

Ben: Weird.

He fumbles in his pocket and pulls out a mobile. He dials a number. Nothing.

Ben: Plenty of battery. Signal strength... nil?

He heads back into the office and looks out. The city is different – a forest of sky scrapers.

Ben: The zeppelins... where are the zeppelins...?

Shaking his head, he runs back to the lift and starts punching the control. Finally the lift opens and he runs into it. The lift doors close. A moment later, a familiar wheezing, groaning sound is heard. But nothing appears. Silence falls.

Elsewhere, a screen lights up with a diagram. A light flashes. Two figures in simple uniform watch on. They both have white kinky hair, tanned skin and slanted eyes. They are the same height, and have the same mellow Irish accents.

Geldon: Someone is in the Memorial Shrine.

Styan: That’s not possible. There has been no approach there all day. The Memorial Custodians would have spotted them before now.

Geldon: Nevertheless, it is fact. Alert them.

An older woman approaches.

Deeka: When is the next census?

Styan: One hour seven seconds.

Deeka: Acceptable. Once the census is over, prepare the Termination Complex.

On the ground floor of the tower, two such people in identical uniform and plumed helmets stand guard on the entrance. They both carry coiled staffs with flags carrying the double helix logo.

PA: Intruder in Memorial Shrine. Apprehend.

The custodians nod and enter the foyer. They cross to the lift. In the corner behind the door hides Ben. He turns and sprints out of the building. The guards whirl to face him.

Custodian 1: Sacrilege! After him!

The nearest custodian runs, jumps, rolls and straightens up – having got out of the building and right beside Ben. The two look at each other. The custodian is horrified and backs away. Ben turns and sprints down the street, turning around a corner and out of sight. The other custodian arrives.

Custodian 1: What happened? Why didn’t you stop him?

Custodian 2: He was... a... hideous! The worst CHAV I’ve ever seen?

Custodian 1: (aghast) A CHAV got into the Memorial Shrine? We must not speak of this. Understand?

The other custodian stares after Ben.

Custodian 2: So... monstrous...

Custodian 1: Do you understand?!

Custodian 2: Yes! Yes, I understand.

Custodian 1: You better. If that gets out, we will be declared imperfect. Understand?

The custodian swallows and nods. The other one speaks to his wrist.

Guard 1: Memorial Shrine to Central City Control. Intruder on the loose. Pursue and capture?

PA: Description?

The custodians exchange looks.

Custodian 1: Not available.

PA: ... Very well. Maintain guard.

The custodians sigh in relief and assume their former positions.

Back in Torchwood Tower, Rose is with Griffin. They are in an operating theatre with several large vats of bubbling clear fluid in the side of the room. An angled bed is in the centre of the room.

Griffin: Director, are you sure? So close to the birth, it will be risky.

Rose: You can do it. The virus is designed to cover all gene types.

Griffin: I would recommend we... infect you after the birth. Your next child can...

Rose: That will take time. We need to start circulation at once, and I, or rather, my kid, will be the poster child. To prove we won’t be creating monsters. Unless you can finally fix the virus? Can you?

Griffin is silent.

Rose: Thought not. What do I have to do?

Griffin: It will take a while to get the equipment ready. In the meantime, you best relax, take a shower, get ready for surgery.

Rose: (nods) Thanks, Griff. I really do trust you, you know.

Griffin nods and starts to walk off.

Rose: If this works, I might name him after you.

Griffin smiles and walks off. Rose takes a deep breath and picks up a phone.

Rose: Commander Tollinger? Director Smith. Yeah. I want all access logs to be altered for the next forty-eight hours so one user is rendered inactive for that time. Yes. My husband. You heard. Do it.

She puts down the phone. She is about to leave when Mickey enters.

Mickey: We have got to talk.

Rose: Sorry, Mickey. Need to use the loo.

Mickey: It can wait.

Rose: Trust me, it can’t.

Mickey: I’m not letting this happen. You could die. You both could.

Rose: And think of everyone we’ll save.

Mickey: Sorry, ‘everyone’ is a big number. I’ll settle for you two. And I’m not letting you do this.

Rose: Mickey, fact one: my body. Fact two: my choice.

She starts to move. Mickey grabs her wrist.

Mickey: Fact three: you have been known to do some extremely stupid things, especially when a police box is involved. Yeah, well, Doctor’s gone now, but if he was here, he’d say the same thing.

Rose: And I’d react just the same.

She gives him a patented Tyler slap, flinging him across the room and letting go of her.

Rose: I’ll see you afterwards. And then you’ll realize I was right all along.

She leaves. Mickey rubs his face, painfully. He crosses to a phone.

Mickey: Hello? Jake. We have a problem. Get back here now.

Elsewhere, Ben Chatham pauses as he sees the main street. There are no advertisements or motor vehicles. Peaceful music plays. More of the dark-skinned, white-haired people are wandering around, all with similar hair cuts and clothes, but the age ranges from babes in arms to pensioners. Ben shakes his head in disbelief.

Ben: What’s going on here?

PA: Attention all humans. There will now be a census. Cooperation is compulsory.

The people calmly arrange into queues. Black-clad guards with long, bazookoid-type weapons are marching up and down the queues. Ben turns back the way he came. Three guards with a leader in a visored helmet stand behind him.

Leader: Stay where you are.

Guard: Holy Mother, look at it...

Leader: Silence. We will continue our task. Identify yourself.

Ben: Oh, Ben. Benjamin Sebastian Chatham.

Guard: He is imperfect.

Ben: Imperfect? Me?!

Leader: Scan. Degree of imperfection?

The guard raises a handheld many-pronged device and aims it at Ben. It buzzes.

Guard: (shocked) 94.556 per cent! A real monster...

Leader: How old are you?

Ben: Mind your own business?

Guard: Minimum twenty-five years.

Leader: How did he manage to remain unprotected for so long?

Ben: No idea. What’s going on here?

Guard: He must have been protected during development.

Leader: It is irrelevant. Take him away for genetic dismantling.

The guards grab Ben’s shoulders and haul his protesting form away.

5: The Price of Perfection

Ben is carted into a monorail with tinted windows.

Ben: Let go of me, you stupid, grey-faced...

Leader: Resistance is useless.

Ben: Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Guard: Silence, CHAV.

Ben: What did you just call me?

Guard: (raises weapon) Silence!

The leader and the guards follow. The monorail heads off.

Outside Torchwood Tower, the custodians stand guard.

PA: An extremely mutated imperfect has been located. It is possible it was the intruder in the Memorial Shrine. Are there any other humans in the area?

Custodian 2: None. We are alone.

On the top floor, there is the sound of the TARDIS taking off, but no sign of the source.
Elsewhere, Jake and Mickey are in a guard room, talking.

Jake: She’s the Director. The only person who can directly overrule her on internal affairs is her dad.

Mickey: Yeah, and he’s still in Paris with Jackie and Angel. I can’t get through to them.

Jake: Price of giving up ear pods.

Mickey: Jake, if you say that one more time...

Jake: Look, I trust Rose. She wouldn’t put the baby at risk, no matter what.

Mickey: She’s cracked in the head, Jake. I dunno, her hormones or something. You know, it’s a year and a day since we went to Norway. She says, ‘Oh, Mickey, I’m over it, get me some pickles and ice cream’ but she’s lying. I always know when she’s lying.

Jake: What? When was the last time she lied?

Mickey: The last time she said she was happy here and didn’t miss the Doctor.

Jake: Oh. Look, if I go against her without proof she’s nuts, the People’s Republic will...

Mickey: Say I forced you. Jake. Please. For me.

Jake: All right. Where is she?

Mickey: In the apartment, doing birth exercises or something.

Jake: Well, log in, so I can scan her.

Mickey taps out at a terminal. TORCHWOOD: ACCESS DENIED appears.

Mickey: What?

Jake: You musta typed in wrong.

Mickey: I’m not an idiot! (types) They’ve frozen me out.

Jake: (bleakly) Only the Director has that authority.

Mickey: Oh, I am so gonna get her for this. Right, old fashioned plan.

Jake: What’s that?

Mickey: Get me some flowers and chocolates.

Elsewhere, Ben is held in front of a scanning machine.

Leader: CHAV, approximately twenty five plus years of age, imperfection at 94.556 per cent.

PA: You are registered termination code 9369. When this code is called you will move through the archway and genetic dismantling will take place. You will feel nothing... ever again.

Ben: Somehow, that isn’t comforting.

The troopers march him down a corridor to a black-lined door. It opens. Beyond is a chamber with five or six people, and a small group of toddlers in the corner. Ben is shoved in and the door is closed before he can regain his balance. Ben hurries over to the nearest prisoner, a woman named Krella.

Ben: Sorry, this might sound stupid, but is there a way out of here?

Krella: Holy Mother, what are you?

Ben: Impatient is what I am! Is there a way out of here?

Krella: Not alive, no. Your DNA is in the system now. Try and get out that door, you’ll be atomized.

Ben: Same for you too, I bet.

Krella: Yup. At the right time, the systems are keyed so it’s painless. That’s when we go through.

Ben: They’re going to kill us without a trial?

Krella: What sort of trial should there be. We’re imperfect. You only have to look at yourself to know that you’re guilty. Guilty twice more than everyone else in this room put together.

Ben: Guilty? Imperfect? What crap! I haven’t done anything wrong?

Krella: Why would you have done anything wrong. You exist.

Ben: So, what’s your crime?

Krella: Crime?

Ben: Why are you here?

Krella: Same reason as you, freak. We’re CHAVs.

Ben: What?

Krella: Chromosomal Aberration Variants. Mutants. Imperfect. Where have you been? How did you survive this long without being caught by the Census Guards?

Ben: The rest here... they’re just kids!

Krella: The newborn infants are in another section.

Ben: They’re going to kill babies?!

Krella: They’re lucky. They won’t know anything... except peace. Still, can’t win them all.

Ben: They’re going to kill babies!!

Krella: Well, they’re CHAVs, like us. Detected sooner rather than later.

Ben: And you’re happy to let that happen?

Krella: What can I do? Even if we stopped it happening, what good would it do? They’d be inferior, prone to diseases and complexes, their children inferior. It’s a law of diminishing returns. You know very little about the way society works, but then to look like that you’d have had to grow up in the dark.

Ben: Thanks a lot. How long did it take for them to get you?

Krella: Oh, it’s a minor thing. Gene failure, thrown up during development from child to adult. Chances are, my children could be blind. And, well, what good can a blind human do for society? Nothing.

Ben: Surely, I mean, with this technology, you can’t fix blindness?

Krella: Prevention is better than cure, isn’t that right?

In a luxury apartment, Rose emerges from an en suite bathroom in a silk dressing gown, drying her hair. She crosses to a framed photo of an ultrasound. She strokes it with her fingers and strokes her stomach.

Rose: It’ll be all right in the end. I’ve got so much to show you. It’ll be fantastic.

There is a knock at the door. Rose hastily ties her dressing gown up.

Rose: Just a minute!

Another knock.

Rose: Come in.

The door opens. Mickey enters, arms behind his back.

Mickey: There’s ma woman! Kit off!

Rose: (grins) You used to say that to me every day.

Mickey: You used to be up for it every day.

Rose: Aw, come on, things have gotten a bit big for that...

Mickey chuckles and reveals from behind his back a bunch of roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. Rose is delighted.

Rose: Wow! What you done wrong?

Mickey: Disagreed with the most beautiful woman in at least two universes?

Rose pulls him into an embrace.

Rose: I knew you’d see sense.

Mickey: Hey, come on, I’m slow. Now, you wanna sit down and indulge yourself. I mean, next weekend, it’ll just be all nappies and screaming, won’t it? Let’s take a last chance to cool off.

Rose: I’ve got to go for the operation. I’m all clean and everything.

Mickey: (kisses her) You’re the Director of Torchwood. You can do whatever you like.

Rose: I like. (kisses him) I like a lot.

Mickey leads her over to the couch, and opens the chocolate box.

Mickey: You can have first pick.

Rose: Oh, no, you.

Mickey: Go on.

Rose: Nah, honestly, I’m fat enough.

Mickey: (slightly irritated) Sure.

Mickey takes a chocolate and munches it.

Mickey: You sure you don’t want one?

Rose: Not really. I dunno if it’s good for the baby... eating chocolate covered in retcon.

Mickey’s face falls.

Rose: Nice trick, Mickey. But I taught you most of them. It means a lot, though, that you’d eat one too. You hoping we’d both fall asleep together and wake up happy and safe. Nice.

Mickey starts to look groggy.

Mickey: You cunning bitch.

Rose: It’s why you love me. And once this is all over, and you hold your child, you’ll know it was all for the best. I know what I’m doing.

Mickey: Please Rose... don’t. For me.

Rose: Sorry, Mickey. But this time, everyone is gonna live.

Mickey topples and collapses. Rose rises with difficulty.

Rose: Aw, my back... Scuse me, Mickey. Got a baby to recreate.

She heads for the door as Mickey goes limp. As she leaves, his eyes open and he spits out the undamaged chocolate. He sits up, fully awake.

Mickey: This is gonna be harder than I thought.

Back in the cell, Ben is pacing.

Ben: OK. I can just about understand this place is based on purity and perfection, I get that. But how can any of you be happy to be killed because of some problem with your genes that can’t hurt anyone? How can you willingly come here to die?

Krella: We are imperfect. Why would we want to live in the world of perfection?

Ben: When did all this start?

Krella: Oh, the start of the last century, when the New Race started, of course.

Ben: New Race?

Krella: New Race... (blinks) you don’t know about the New Race? The species without creed or colour, that out evolved the other humans on Earth? The gift to humanity from the Perfect Female? No...? Are you intellectually subnormal?

Ben: What are you on about? I’ve got a first from Cambridge!

Krella: What is Cambridge? In fact, what’s a first?

Ben: A degree in archaeology. (slowly) I’m clever.

Krella: You’re clever, are you? But you know nothing of history? You don’t know about Roselyn Smith?

Ben turns.

Ben: What about her?

Krella: She’s only the mother of the perfect race! We’d all be imperfect savages without her giving birth to perfection, two century ago now. After all, without her and without us, her children, life would have died on Earth years ago, wouldn’t it. You are dumb, aren’t you?

Ben: Rose Smith... that gunk she was going to use... she’s the cause of all of this!

Krella: Hallelujah. You would have loved being in religious assembly.

PA: Imperfect termination 9369. The time is now. Imperfect termination 9369. The time is now.

Krella: Pity you weren’t. Around now, it’s traditional to start praying.

Ben looks at the hatch in horror as it starts to rise.

Ben: It’s me. They want me.

Krella: I’m afraid so.

PA: Imperfect termination 9369. The time is now. Imperfect termination 9369. The time is now....

To be continued... in 6: Escape to Danger

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