Interlude Seven: Lost

There was no more pain when Jack awoke; just the faintest residual ache. As his awareness grew, he became conscious of the fact that his stomach was considerably flatter than he remembered it being. Then, the memories came back with force, and tears flooded his eyes.


He heard Brenna’s kind voice, and wept harder in bitter anticipation of what she was going to say.

“She’s gone. Eleya’s gone… He killed her!”

Two cool, dry hands clasped the sides of his head and gently guided him to look off to the side. Jack’s breath caught, and his grief was almost instantly forgotten. By his bedside sat a simple crib, and in that crib lay a tiny, sleeping baby.f

“You see?” Brenna reassured him. “She’s just fine.”

She lifted the baby carefully out of the crib, and laid her in Jack’s waiting arms. The infant stirred as he took her, and her eyes opened to reveal almost luminescent green eyes. Jack’s heart skipped a beat, and he was on the verge of panicking when he realised something. She may have inherited Darien’s unusual eye colour, but otherwise her eyes were the same as his own. Looking over her tiny body, he quickly realised that the only features that she’d inherited from Darien were her eye colour and hair colour. Through the shock of black hair that adorned her head, he could already make out streaks of silvery white.

Tears stung Jack’s eyes. She was beautiful, and now more than ever he could not conceive of giving her up to another’s care.

“Well, she certainly knows who her daddy is,” Brenna said wryly. Jack looked over at her in confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

“That little one has screamed every time she’s been held, right from the moment she came into the world. This is the first time she’s been quiet. So I say again, she knows who her daddy is.”

Trembling with emotion, Jack pressed a kiss to his daughter’s forehead/

“Eleya,” he whispered. Her eyes blinked slowly, and her tiny fingers curled around his larger on. “My Eleya.”

Eleya grew quickly. The next twelve months saw Jack settle easily and well into the role of father. It was by no means easy, but not once did Jack regret his decision to keep her. He loved his baby girl more than anything, and refused to be separated from her. Eleya seemed to be of like mind, and tended to scream blue murder if anyone tried to keep her away from Jack for more than a few minutes at a time. By the time she turned one, and was just starting to toddle around on two rather wobbly legs, she’d only just come to accept Jal, Kyrii and, by default, Maera as surrogate carers when Jack was out doing various jobs for the Elder Council.

She had only just turned one when the Time Agency hierarchy shattered Jack’s newfound peace by submitting a formal request for planetary access through the Shadow Proclamation.

Despite well-founded concerns, the Elder Council had no real legitimate reason to refuse the delegation entry, and so, one year and nine months after his arrival on Mendyr, Jack found himself facing his superiors once more. This time, though, he was not standing alongside an errant partner, but with the full support of the Mendyrian Elder Council behind him.

He would have been lying if he’d said he didn’t enjoy the discomfort on the faces of his commanding officers as they were escorted into the Elder Temple. He’d once experienced a similar discomfort the first time he had entered the temple, but he felt at home there, now, and had no qualms about occupying a chair to the side of the temple. He said nothing, though, and instead focused on the little girl in his arms as Anna rose to face their unwanted guests.

“We bring greetings on behalf of the Time Agency,” Commander Raglan Dorn announced with all the pomposity that Jack remembered him possessing. “We also bring gifts for the Honourable Elders…”

“Your greeting is hollow,” Anna interrupted coldly, “and you may keep your so-called gifts. We have no need of them. State your business, and then you may leave.”

Dorn looked seriously affronted, Jack was delighted to see.

“Madam, this is not protocol…”

She cut him off again with an ease that made him squirm.

“I should hope not. If protocol had been followed to the letter, you would not be here at all. Now, get to the point, Commander, before I lose my patience.”

Jack could have sworn that Dorn paled a little, but it was just too hard to tell in that light. At any rate, the demand galvanised the man to respond.

“Simply put, Madam, we are here to collect our agent. We appreciate the care you’ve provided him, but we feel it is time he returned home and resumed his duties.”

Anna stared at Dorn for so long that he actually cringed and looked away, much to Jack’s astonishment. Anna spoke again in a nonchalant tone.

“Which agent would this be, Commander? Would you kindly point him out?”

Dorn had quickly gone from a light pallor to growing increasingly red-faced. He pointed at Jack in visible aggravation, his thick finger stabbing brutally through the air.

“He’s sitting right there, Madam!”

Anna never flinched.

“I don’t see a Time Agent.” She looked around at the rest of the Council, breaking her visual hold on Dorn for the first time. “Do any of you?”

“Not at all,” Leesa answered passively. “I see a citizen of Mendyr with his child.”

Jack’s stomach twisted nastily at the expression on Dorn’s face when Leesa spoke. Of course, he’d known that there would be no hiding the truth of Eleya’s parentage. Despite her hair and eye colour, she still bore a strong resemblance to him. However, he really did not like the sudden look of hunger on the man’s face.

“His child?” Jaydn Taark echoed in disbelief. “That child is at least one year old. He’s only been gone for eleven months!”

Jack looked over to Anna in confusion, and she answered with a reassuring smile.

“Mendyr is a closed world for more reasons than just our love of privacy. Time flows differently here than it does on other worlds. For you, here and now, it has nearly been two years since Darien brought you here. Beyond Mendyr, however, the passage of time only amounts to eleven months.”

Jack nodded in wordless acceptance. He wasn’t going to argue the point. All that mattered to him right then was getting Dorn and his lackeys off Mendyr so that he could move on in his new life with his daughter.

“How did the child come to be?” Taark demanded to know. A ripple of laughter washed through the Elders.

“If you don’t know the answer to that question, Lieutenant Taark,” Krandl said with a sharp laugh, “then it would appear your parents were woefully neglectful with your education.”

She flushed a bright red, but quickly shook off her embarrassment.

“You know I didn’t mean that. Is the child the product of a sexual assault on our agent? Did your man Darien rape him?”

Jack felt himself go cold, but Anna spoke up before he had a chance to.

“Understand this here and now, all of you,” she said in a tone that had every Time Agent in the room flinching. “Darien was never our man. Secondly, the man here in whom you have so much interest is no longer a Time Agent. He has renounced that life in favour of remaining on Mendyr, and you have no claim on him. You surrendered any rights or control when you abandoned him to death.”

Jack stole a surreptitious glance at his former superiors. Not one of them attempted to dispute the claim of abandonment. Dorn, in fact, tried to defend it.

“He and his idiot partner not only put the investigation at risk, but the lives of every Time Agent involved. We owed him nothing.”

Anna’s face darkened with fury.

“And with those words, you just lost the right to petition this Council. Jack has been accepted by us, and he and his child have our protection. Now, take your people and return to your ship. You have until nightfall to refuel and leave.”

Dorn was visibly fuming at the abrupt dismissal.

“The Shadow Proclamation…”

“Gave you the right to come unhindered to Mendyr,” Anna snapped. “It did not give you the right to lay claim to anyone here. Now leave. We will not tolerate your presence here any longer.”

Dorn turned his angry glare on Jack.

“This isn’t over. We aren’t leaving without our rightful property.”

He didn’t wait for a response, storming out with his underlings in tow. Only when they were gone did Jack finally allow himself to react.

“I should have left Eleya with Jal and Kyrii. Jaydn was right, I am an idiot. Now they know about her, and they’ll want her for a weapon!”

“It would not have mattered if you had left her with Jal and Kyrii,” one of the Elders said quietly. “Commander Dorn already knew about Eleya’s existence. Seeing her only confirmed what he already knew.”

Jack paled considerably, but before he had the chance to really think on that, Anna spoke in a gentle tone that masked a layer of steel.

“Be calm, Jack. They will be gone by tonight, and then you’ll have nothing else to fear.”

Jack cuddled Eleya to him, unable to keep from worrying. He hoped she was right, but a deeper instinct told him that his troubles were far from over.


Jack watched from a distance as the Time Agency shuttle lifted into the air. Eleya snuggled against his chest, providing comfort just by her presence. He was relieved to see the ship take off, but he wouldn’t be completely satisfied until it was gone from Mendyr’s atmosphere.

He heard his name being called, and turned to see Maera approaching, along with her husband and their infant son. Jack smiled, but had no chance to reply. He was momentarily thrown off balance by two flashes of light, and a ripple of vortex energy around him. Lieutenant Taark appeared on one side of him, and a nameless Agency goon on the other. Without uttering a word, they grabbed hold of both him and Eleya, and activated their vortex manipulators.

Jack’s last glimpse of Mendyr was of the horrified look on Maera’s face as he and his child were snatched away from the sanctity and security of their home.

Guns. They were the first thing that Jack saw when they materialised on board the shuttle. Lots of guns, and all of them aimed at him and his child.

“Stand fast, Agent,” Dorn ordered him with a smug grin. “Captain, get us out of here before they try to stop us!”

Jack held Eleya as tightly as he dared as the shuttle vibrated unpleasantly beneath his feet. He had no intention of relinquishing his hold on his daughter. If they wanted her, they would have to kill him first. Eleya whimpered in his arms, and he murmured softly to her soothing words that he did not believe. Finally, Dorn turned back to his captives with a triumphant and self-satisfied smirk.

“Taark, take our guests and lock them up. It’s a three day journey back to Headquarters. Should be enough time for our agent to cool his heels and remember where his loyalties lie.”

Taark hesitated.

“Even the baby, sir?”

Dorn raised an eyebrow.

“Unless you want to try looking after the brat?”

Taark grimaced. The point was well made. Everyone knew she had no particular affinity for children.

“Move,” she muttered, prodding Jack lightly with her blaster and ushering him out of the control room.

“You surprise me,” Taark said as she secured the cell into which she’d herded Jack and Eleya. “I thought you would have put up some sort of a fight.”

Jack glared at her through the clear door of the cell.

“And risk the life of my daughter? I don’t think so.”

Taark chewed lightly on her lip.

“She wouldn’t have been harmed. Dorn wants her too badly. You know that, don’t you? That he wants her for the Agency? He thinks she’ll be powerful… being half Mendyrian.”

Jack ignored her, and sat down on the hard bench in the holding cell in order to nurse Eleya more comfortably in his lap. Taark tried again.

“Look, you need to cooperate here. You owe the Agency…”

Jack’s head snapped up, and he glared at her with such venom in his eyes that she recoiled a couple of steps.

“I don’t owe the Agency anything! Not a fucking thing! Yeah, I know I screwed up, but you look me in the eye right now, and tell me how much of an effort was made to find me! Well?”

“None,” Taark admitted softly, and Jack snorted in disgust.

“I thought as much.”

“Damn it, we thought he’d killed you!”

“And you probably figured it wasn’t any great loss. I get it, I was expendable to the Agency. Fine. But do not stand there now, and dictate who I should be loyal to.”

Taark conceded with a reluctant nod. She paused in her next words, watching with wonder as he cradled the infant and hummed to her softly whilst pressing random tender kisses into her hair. The little girl curled in against him, her tiny hands clutching his shirt. It was an astonishing sight given Jack’s playboy reputation throughout the Agency.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured as she forced her mind to get back on track. “Tell me one thing, though…”

Jack glared up at her balefully.

“You were right. Okay? He turned me into his slave, and he raped me every damn day.”

Taark started in surprise.

“How did you know what I was thinking?”

Jack smiled bitterly.

“Side effects,” he answered simply. Taark felt her stomach roll. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know what he meant. Instead, she settled for shifting the subject.

“How did you escape?”

“Through luck, nothing more. That, and I was lucky enough to meet up with someone who wasn’t like Darien. I was already nearly a month pregnant with Eleya when I escaped. The Mendyrian people could have easily just executed me for being on their planet, but they didn’t. They nursed me back to health, took care of me and welcomed me into their homes. They wouldn’t let me give up my daughter, even though she might have been better off in the long run with a Mendyrian family. They accepted me and gave me a home, and you’ve just taken us away from that. So excuse me if I don’t thank you for it. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d appreciate some milk for my little girl.”

Taark nodded. She was suddenly very eager to get out of that room.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Dorn himself finally came to see Jack near three days later, a couple of hours before the shuttle was scheduled to dock at Time Agency Headquarters. If Jack hadn’t already suspected him of having a personal agenda, he certainly did when the commander came in exuding concern. He said nothing, though, and instead waited for him to talk.

“How are you doing there, Jack?” Dorn asked. The false sympathy in his voice had Jack wanting to punch that disingenuous smile right off his ugly face.

“I’m locked up with my daughter. How do you think I’m doing?”

“I know. I’m sorry about this, but orders are orders. I thought, though, that you should at least know what’s going to happen when we dock. There’ll be a guard of Agency Police waiting, and you’re going to be arrested for abandoning your post, as well as treason against the Agency.”

“For what happened on Gleb?” Jack asked tonelessly.

“I’m afraid so. There’ll be a trial, of course, but it’s a fairly open and shut case, and you probably are well aware of the penalty.”

“Mind wipe,” Jack whispered, unconsciously tightening his grip on Eleya.

“Or execution,” Dorn offered helpfully. Jack glowered at him.

“I suppose you’re going to offer me some sort of deal? You’ll get me out of it if I give Eleya up to the Agency?”

A slow grin spread across Dorn’s face, and the sight of it sent chills down Jack’s spine. He knew then that there would be no attempts at making a deal. Dorn’s next words confirmed his suspicions.

“I’m not offering you a damned thing, you arrogant little shit. I’m telling you, that’s what’s going to happen and we will be taking the brat. She’s half Mendyrian, and I’m tipping she’s going to be powerful.”

Jack struggled to suppress his rage, knowing full well that Eleya would easily sense it and react. As much as he hated Dorn, neither did he want to see a bloodbath ensue.

“You aren’t taking my child away from me,” he whispered. Dorn laughed harshly.

“You don’t have a choice here. This time tomorrow, you’ll either be dead or you’ll have forgotten that you even have a daughter. With any luck, it’ll be the former. Nothing like making up a good, heroic death story to help groom the offspring.”

Jack stared up at Dorn with an expression that would have given any sane man pause.

“You. Aren’t. Taking. My. Baby.”

Dorn smirked.

“So you think. You have a couple of hours left with her. I suggest you make the most of them.”

Less than an hour until docking, and Jack was starting to consider the possibility that he would have to unleash his child’s power, no matter how deadly it proved to be. He wept silently at the thought, but he was unable to see another way out. Oh, he had no doubt that Dorn was being honest about the Police Guard waiting to arrest him. He also didn’t doubt that most of them would take great pleasure in doing so. He’d pissed off the Agency Police too many times for them not to. In fact, he wouldn’t have been surprised to find they’d had to draw straws to see who would get to go.

There would be no out there. It seemed more and more that their only escape lay in fighting, but he knew in his heart that fighting meant death. Given the choice, he didn’t know what he would have preferred – to die with his precious child, or to have her existence wiped from his memory and her to be raised as a killing machine for a soulless and heartless bureaucracy. He wanted her to live, but not at the behest of evil men who didn’t value life.


She had just recently begun speaking understandable words in the last month, and ‘Dada’ was one of the first things she’d learnt to say. He cradled her to him, and whispered reassurances that he didn’t believe.

“Well, look at you.”

Jack’s head came up, and his eyes widened at the sight before him.

“John? You’re alive!”

John Hart smirked, unable to help himself.

“’Course I am. A couple of weeks in stasis, and I was good as new.” The smirk faded, and he laid one hand on the Perspex-like barrier between them. “I searched for you, I swear it. I went mad trying to find you. I thought I’d lost you for good this time, and then the bosses got that first transmission… How the hell did you manage to con the Mendyrians into letting you stay?”

“I didn’t,” Jack answered seriously. “They’re a fair-minded people, and they’re good. Darien was an exception.”

“Pretty bloody big exception. So, this little one really is yours, then?”

“Yeah, she is,” Jack confirmed. “She’s my little girl, and I love her.”

John peered down at the child, who was watching him shyly, and he couldn’t help but smile.

“Hello, sweetheart. I’m your Uncle John.”

A tiny frown creased her face.


His grin widened.

“That’s right. I’m the one who’s about to get both of your sorry butts off this floating hunk of junk.”

With that, he hit the button that released the cell door.

“What are you doing?” Jack asked in shock.

“I told you, I’m getting you out of here. Now, will you get up off that gorgeous arse and move it?”

“How are you even here?” Jack wondered as John led them along the winding corridor.

“I was meant to be a last resort tactic,” John explained. “Except, they didn’t tell me that until after Dorn and his lackeys came back from their meeting with the Elder Council. Dorn fronted me, and told me that I had to go and con you into leaving with us. The kid, too. I told him to forget it. I love you, Jack, and I didn’t want to lose you, but I figured if you’d chosen to stay, then it wasn’t our place to deny you. Especially after what you must have gone through with that son of a bitch. I told Dorn to drop dead. Sort of. Even when he threatened me with a charge of treason right alongside you, I wouldn’t do it. That was when Taark suggested grabbing you via teleportation as we were leaving the atmosphere. So, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop it from happening.”

Jack didn’t say it was all right. It wasn’t, and they both knew it. At the same time, though, he was grateful to his friend and lover for the effort he was making now. His gratitude waned, somewhat, though when John led them to the shuttle’s escape pods.

“You’ve gotta be kidding,” Jack said flatly. John very clearly wasn’t.

“This is your only way out. If you wait until we land, you’ll have lost your chance. This pod is already programmed with a flight path. All you have to do is get in and hit go. We’re still in the middle of atmospheric re-entry. You go right now, and they won’t know you’re gone until it’s too late.”

“And then what?” Jack asked in distress. “It isn’t as though we can just hitch a ride back to Mendyr!”

“I know,” John conceded, “and I’m truly sorry about that, but there’s nothing I can do about it. This pod is programmed to land a hundred miles outside the citadel. There’ll be someone waiting there to destroy the pod, and get you both to safety.”

“Who?” Jack wondered, unable to work out who John might have trusted with such a task.

“You know him. He’s probably the only friend I have that you don’t think is on the take.”

It didn’t take Jack long to know who he was talking about.

“Joss Alderley? You brought Joss into this?”

“Couldn’t have kept him out.” He leaned in to kiss Jack lingeringly before shoving him towards the pod. “Now, will you and the midget get into the damn pod? There isn’t any time for a Plan B!”

In the end, there wasn’t any time for Jack to reciprocate and say thankyou. John herded them both into the pod and closed the hatch on them with a wink and slam. Then, they were away, travelling an extremely bumpy flight path that took them perilously close to the shuttle’s jet-wash and afterburners. They left the shuttle’s flight path behind and flew in a wide arc over the sprawling citadel below. Jack watched with his heart in his throat as the ground rushed up to meet them terrifyingly fast. He felt sure they would crash, but then the pod slowed at the last moment and dropped to the ground with a surprisingly gentle thud.

The pod door was quickly yanked open and, despite John’s reassurances, Jack fully expected to come face-to-face with a slew of Time Agency guns. It took him a moment to realise it was a hand being extended towards him, and not the barrel of a weapon. He looked up at the face that met them, and recognised it.


Joss Alderley smiled grimly as he helped them climb out of the pod.

“I won’t say welcome home,” he said.

“I appreciate that,” Jack murmured.

“Do you mind me asking, what name are you using? I know you Time Agents change your names as frequently as you change lovers.”

“It’s Jack. Just Jack. And this is Eleya.”

Joss smiled warmly at the little girl as Jack lifted her up into his arms.

“Hello, sweetheart. Okay, let me set this thing to self-vaporise, and then we’ll get out of here.”

Minutes later, they were on their way, with Jack and Eleya huddling together in the back of an outdated transporter that Joss hand handled with innate skill.

“There are a couple of bags on the floor by your feet,” Joss told Jack. “Just a few basic items of clothing for you both, plus fake ID tags… The standard stuff.”

Jack opened one bag, and Eleya squealed in delight at the sight of the teddy bear that he pulled free.

“Oh, and a little something for your daughter,” Joss added, almost as an afterthought.

“Thankyou,” Jack murmured gratefully. “She… All of her toys were left behind. We don’t have anything except the clothes on our backs.”

“Well, don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.”

Jack looked up at him in confusion.

“Who, exactly? I mean, the Agency only grabbed us three days ago. How was all of this organised so fast?”

“It wasn’t. Organised quickly, I mean. The Agency found out about that little girl a few months ago, Jack. They were planning that snatch and grab for a while, as a contingency plan if you didn’t come back willingly. We couldn’t stop them from getting to you, especially after they got a formal order from the Shadow Proclamation. We could, however, throw a spanner in the works by getting you both away from them. So that’s what we planned on doing. It was a stroke of luck that John was taken as collateral to use against you. Saved us having to smuggle someone on board.”

“You keep saying ‘we’. Who are you talking about?”

Joss grinned.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell. All I’ll say is that you won yourself a lot of friends when you walked away from the Time Agency. They’ll do just about anything now to keep you and your little girl safe.”

“And what about you?” Jack wondered. “Where do you stand in all of this?”

“Jack, consider me your own personal bodyguard. The end plan is to get you off this world and, if not back to Mendyr, then at least somewhere that you’ll be safe from the Time Agency.”

Jack couldn’t help feel bitter.

“I don’t think there is such a place.”

Joss smiled in sympathy.

“We’re working on it. I promise.”

The safe house was nothing fancy and, in a bitter irony, reminded Jack very much of Jal and Kyrii’s simple home back on Mendyr. Nor did it seem that he was the only one to see a resemblance. Upon entering the abode, Eleya began to call excitedly for Grammy and Grappa. It just about broke Jack’s heart to have to tell her that Grammy and Grappa were far, far away.

This, it seemed, was to be their fate. So be it, Jack decided. He would continue to do the best he could for his daughter, and try to keep her safe and happy. So he did for the next several months, until the fateful morning that he bought a tainted cup of coffee from his usual vendor…

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