Previous Chapter: Twenty-three
Characters: Rose Tyler/Jack Harkness/the Ninth Doctor,
Rating: PG-13, but this is a tough, sad chapter.
Edited by: my best beloved dr_whuh, aka buckaroobob , without whom I couldn't do this; and with the incredible help of a_phoenixdragon , who I trust with matters of rhythm.
Author's Note: I cannot believe that it took almost a year to complete this chapter. The only thing I will say in my defense is that I was dealing with a multiplicity of characters all coming together - and for an author who deals largely in solitary introspection, that was one daunting task. We have, however, got all the players in place for the final act.
Disclaimer: As much as I wish it were otherwise, no Whoniverse characters are mine. They belong solely to the BBC and their respective creators. I do, however, love them, and thank the BBC for letting me play in its sandbox.
“And this is, is — right now she’s Luisa,” Rose said, determined to explain her companion’s situation as matter-of-factly as the Doctor might have. If she did, people might accept the situation the way people accepted impossibilities after the Doctor announced them.
“Right now.” The older woman, Hilda, looked kind enough as she repeated that.
“Yeah. It sounds weird, (it’s awful, but we’ll get to that) but it isn’t. Or rather, it’s something I can explain. It something we can explain, me and Luisa.” She turned to check on the girl, and was immediately concerned. “Luisa, are you alright?”
“W-Who?” The girl was barely conscious, hardly opening her eyes when she heard her name.
“Luisa,” Rose said firmly, hoping there hadn’t been another switch on the way up the stairs. It was Luisa who’d gotten them there, and she needed to see her ‘Vella before she disappeared. And I can say it now, we both know.
Rose didn’t think that Luisa, or at least that part of Luisa who lived on for the moment in Filomena, was going to be leaving this house. Rose was actually afraid for Filomena as well. The trip from Luisa’s home to this place — even dingier than her own, albeit cleaner and neater — had used up the febrile energy she’d exhibited before the journey. They had had to carry her up the stairs. Once they’d helped her to the sofa she had simply shut down.
“Oh, right. ‘M Luisa. ‘M n-not gone yet. But s-s-soon, Rose. P-please—” Luisa whispered, and Rose understood.
She turned to Hilda again, realized that the three of them were the only ones in the room right now, and was grateful. Jack hadn’t wanted to be separated from her, but had followed the short bald man and the tall, rather commanding one up the hall to somewhere, after the tall one jerked his head to the rear of the house. Rose felt his absence even more now that she’d been able to put her arms around him, but it did give her a chance to talk to the person who’d seemed most approachable in the crew she’d found Jack with.
“The man named Salvha; Jack said he was here, and I need to talk to him,” she said.
“Why? How do you know Salvha,” Hilda asked.
“I don’t. But she does,” Rose explained, gesturing toward Luisa. “Except, he’s not … he won’t recognise her, and I’m going to have to explain why.”
Hilda frowned slightly, and her eyes narrowed. “Why don’t you start by explaining to me.” When Rose hesitated, Hilda continued. “Jack told us when we first met that you’d been taken by the authorities. From what he told us of his … of his dream, his telepathic connection to you—”
“The one that led me here."
Hilda nodded. “From that, it was clear you’d been treated with a silk infusion. This woman—” and she nodded toward the shivering figure on the sofa, “— looks as if she is suffering from some sort of silk reaction as well. Whatever you explain is probably nothing I’d be too surprised by.
“Yeah, I’ve learned more about that stuff than I ever wanted to.” Rose said flatly. “And you’re right. This has to do with silk. A man named Inverno—” She stopped, as Hilda visibly stiffened. “Filomena said he was some top aide to the governor, some sort of mad scientist.”
Rose grimaced. “That’s her, too. A different personality. She’s the … she’s the, the real one.”
Hilda huffed out a short breath and ran both hands through her hair, then cricked her neck. She looked very tired. “Sit down, Sera Tyler—”
“Rose. Just Rose.”
“Rose, then. Please, sit. I need to hear this.”
Hilda shrugged, her mouth a twist. “I have … worked with silk. I’m a researcher.”
“Not with the government, I assure you,” Hilda said. “If that would bother you.”
Rose nodded slightly, her own mouth pursed. “It definitely would, yeah. But if you know something about silk—” She hesitated and looked at Filomena’s shivering form. “Maybe between you and the Doctor, we can save one of them. Alright, I’ll tell you what Filomena told me.” She looked around, and then decided to sit on the floor, next to where the other girl lay. As she spoke, she felt each one of her companions’ labored breaths on the back of her neck. “This girl, the one whose body you’re lookin’ at, her name is Filomena Mireilles.”
Rose was getting herself comfortable on the floor and didn’t see how Hilda started at the name. “She’s a … she was a soldier in this world’s army. But she hated the silk trade, so she got involved with rebels. She didn’t tell me much about them, or what they’re doin’, but she said she’d been on a mission to get into where the silk is produced.”
“Go on.” Hilda had regained her composure, but was extremely pale.
“Well, she was caught. Or rather, she, erhm, she got in a fight with another soldier in the research department where she’d been transferred, and she, she killed the soldier. And Inverno decided that he was going to —” Rose swallowed. “He decided to use her. In his research.”
“What did he do? Did she know?” Hilda’s curiosity reminded Rose of the Doctor’s, but her voice also held an edge that Rose recognized as fear held in check. She shook her head slightly.
“He had another girl. Another woman, I mean, in the lab. Filomena thought she was dead. Her face was covered with the blue silk cloth. Filomena was injected with it, like I was, but probably more. An’ he made some sort of transplant. Like a, a … a personality transplant. He’d scanned that other girl’s brain — did it with the silk, I’m guessin’ — and somehow ….”
Rose stopped and looked around the room, trying to anchor herself and her thoughts, trying to put a logical sequence to what must have happened. “When I found her, she was in a cage. There were others there, maybe all of them people that he’d experimented on. They were the rejects. So he must have thought something went wrong with the experiment. He’d tried — Filomena said he told her he was going to make her a whole new person — to transplant the one person’s personality, or whatever you’d call it, into Filomena. But she must’ve fought back or something. Anyway, she ended up in that room, in the cage.
“But when I found her, it was the other girl who I talked to. So the experiment must’ve worked. He just didn’t know it. Or he knew that it worked, but not the way he wanted it to, and … that doesn’t matter,” she said. “What matters is that it’s killin’ them both, both personalities in one body. It’s burnin’ out her brain.”
“Sangre,” Hilda breathed. “That man. We’d heard of his … his interests, but this? Filhote d’um bruzsha.” She looked disgusted. “You’re right. If she was subjected to as much silk as I think she was, infusions, tactile, the works, then … Sera Lumina, the fact that she’s — they — are able to function at all is amazing.”
Her lips thinned for a moment as she looked at Filomena, then back at Rose. She opened her mouth, closed it, then did something that couldn’t decide whether it was a smile or a frown. “But you’ve presented us with something so amazing … Do you believe in luck, Sera Tyler — Rose?”
Good, bad, worse, oh yes, Rose thought. “ I do. Why?”
“You said she knew Salvha, but Salvha wouldn’t know her. I assume that’s because this personality that calls itself Luisa is a print, from his wife.” Hilda said it softly, very calm. Rose could hear something of the teacher in the way she spoke. “Am I correct?”
“Yeah.” Rose didn’t like saying it, because it felt wrong, and she didn’t like Hilda for calling Luisa an it. “You call it a print. It’s not a print. She was there. Luisa was real. Just as real as you and me. She wasn’t like a robot or anything, she had memories, and she made decisions, and she was — she was real.”
“I mean no disrespect to the girl,” Hilda said, still soft and very sad. “ I knew her. I knew the original Luisa.”
“Oh.” It felt somehow grotesque to talk to someone who remembered the tall brown-haired girl who was gone.
“I knew her slightly,” Hilda continued. “This is going to break their hearts … Salvha and her father.”
“Yes, he’s here, too.”
Rose made a sound halfway between a sob and a snarl.
“It will be very difficult,” the older woman repeated heavily, nodding her understanding. Then, to Rose’s surprise, Hilda’s dark expression lightened slightly. “But I asked whether you believed in luck. I did that because I recognize the name of the woman, the other woman. The base personality. You said her name is Filomena Mireilles?”
“Yeah.” Rose felt abruptly wary. “Why d’you know her? How?”
“She was a rebel, you said. And she was working to get information about the silk laboratories to other rebels.” Hilda stopped and looked Rose over.
Rose wasn’t sure what she was being inspected for and she had no more patience for mysteries. “What?” It came out far more sharply than she’d meant it to.
“She was working with us. She didn’t know our names, but we were the people she went to Inverno’s laboratory for.”
For a moment, Rose thought the other woman was speaking gibberish. It took her two or three seconds to process. When it finally sank in, all she could do was shake her head.
“You have got to be kidding me.”
“Things like that don’t happen. I mean, that’s the kind of —” She stopped. She’d already dealt with circumstance and coincidence that shouldn’t happen, didn’t happen, and it had happened on this planet more than once.
Almost constantly, she thought, and felt something hum at the back of her skull. For the briefest of moments, almost no time at all, she tried to reach toward whatever was humming and (no, not yet, little one) then turned aside from seeking. There was time enough (always time) for that later. Right now, if circumstance and coincidence was part of the picture, she had simply to decide whether or not she could profit from it.
“Never mind. I believe you. I’ve believed impossible things before,” Rose said. She looked thoughtfully at Filomena, then back at Hilda. “But what does it mean for you, or for her? Do you think she can still help you?” She didn’t blink at her own coolly analytic thought, as nasty as it sounded spoken aloud.
Hilda matched her tone. “ I don’t know. I don’t know whether we can trust what she gives us, because we don’t know what Inverno learned from her, or what he might have done to her.
“But I think we have to make a leap of faith here.”
“In what way?”
Rose's head snapped up and Hilda jumped at Nico’s question. Neither of them had noticed movement from down the hall, which left them briefly speechless as he, Jack and Jao returned to the front room. Jack was carrying a tray with cups of steaming bidasfeina, and some crumbly biscuits; the other two looked grim.
Hilda recovered quickly and with a quick look at Rose, answered. “Jao, the girl on the couch is Mireilles. She’s been worked over by Inverno. He used silk on her, and he —” She stumbled. “— It looks as if those reports from Peixhoto were on the money. He did it; managed it. He printed her with someone else’s personality.”
Jao’s jaw dropped, and he edged past Nico and Jack to get a closer look at the girl on the couch. “Wha— sangr’o senh’ra. She looks dead.”
“She’s not. Not yet,” Rose said, looking up at Jack and aware that she sounded as if she was pleading for Filomena’s life. “But having two personalities in her brain is burning it up. We need the Doctor." As if this girl was the only reason we need him, she thought.
“Who? Who else is she?” Nico’s question was aimed directly at her.
Just step into it, Tyler. “She’s Luisa. Luisa Adao.”
For the first time in her brief encounter with Nico Machado, she saw him lose his composure. “No.” He took a step toward the couch, where Jao had grunted in outrage and was now crouched next to Rose, looking at the woman behind her. Then he thought better of it and stepped back. “Ser Capitao?”
“Don’t look at me. This is all new, and extremely unsettling,” Jack said. He put down the tray on the low table. “One more reason to get to the Doctor; things like this are definitely in his bailiwick. Rose — what’s up?”
“Like I said. She’s Luisa,” Rose said, getting to her feet. Time was slipping past her, she had to keep her promise to Luisa, and she was tired of explaining things over and over. “But she’s dying. She’s fading. An’ she needs to talk to her, her husband before she goes. He has to believe it’s her. Her father, too. She has to see her father. An’ then we have to save Filomena.” She stopped, aware of them staring at her, and she wanted to deflect their gazes. She tried to change the subject. “Hilda can fill you in. Is that coffee—?”
Before she could grab a cup of the bidasfeina, the girl on the sofa started to seize again. “Quick, someone get those cups away from the sofa,” Rose said, not looking to see who obeyed her. She grabbed at another sofa cushion and slipped it behind Luisa’s head.
As she did, she heard Hilda murmuring to Nico and the older man, Jao. She desperately hoped that that the three of them would deal with breaking the news to Luisa’s relatives.
Jack knelt beside her, holding Luisa’s hands loosely to keep them from inadvertently hitting something, although the seizure was hardly that strong. “How long has she been like this?”
“Pretty much since I found her in the jail,” Rose said, ruthlessly compressing the untidy reality. “Hilda says her husband’s here. And her father. The Doctor and I met her father. An’ I think we — Luisa an’ me — we met her husband. He … he helped us escape, but he didn’t realize it, and he didn’t recognize her.”
Jack stared at her, even as he kept hold of Luisa’s hands. “What?”
“Yeah, I know,” she said, grimacing. “Coincidences everywhere. I think you an’ I, an’ the Doctor, are going to have a long talk about coincidence and the TARDIS.” She stopped and shook her head slightly. “But that’s for later. Now, we’ve got to help her.”
As she spoke, Luisa subsided again, but her breaths were now even more slow and shallow.
From behind her, she heard Hilda. “I’m not sure how we’re going to handle Salvha and Pau. You’ve given me enough to explain to them, but—”
“— it’s going to be bad,” Jack finished for her.
“Oh, indeed,” Nico said. “Sera Tyler, do you want—” He interrupted himself. “Of course you don’t; my apologies.”
“Needs must,” Rose said tightly.
“Indeed. Still, we know them. We can at least help ease them into this.” A look came over his face, one Rose recognized from having seen it on Jack’s and the Doctor’s face. She had no idea that it had become a common one on her own. “The real Luisa is gone—”
“This is the real Luisa,” Rose cut him off, stubborn. This girl should be respected.
“The original Luisa,” Hilda said, with a quick look at Machado. “The original girl, her body has died.”
Machado nodded sharply. “My apologies again, the original has died and this Luisa … is dying as well. Where does that leave the other girl?”
Everyone looked at her, and it was, finally, too much.
“I don’t know! I’m not an expert! I’m just a … a bloody useless shopgirl! What the hell do you expect me to do?”
The others stared. Jack dropped Luisa’s hands and reached for Rose’s, but she slapped him away, breathing hard and seeing red.
Rose was aware, in a distant way, that her explosion of fury was perfectly out of place. She understood that the most logical thing to do was to calm down, and plan with these people, figure out the best way to keep Filomena alive, and to use her information to help get everyone what they wanted. She knew that she’d already shed her allotted number of tears when the TARDIS disappeared; that she’d had her one (two? three?) allowable breakdowns, that there was no time for another, that it was simply wasting all the time she’d fretted about only moments earlier.
She also knew she could no more stop herself than she could defeat gravity. “Why are you standing here gawping at me?” she barked. “She wants to see the man she loves before she dies. And her … her father. Go on, go and do what you said. Get them. Now, before she’s gone!”
The stocky man, Jao, got up from the floor and walked past everyone in the room. “I’ll do it.”
In the end, it was the father took the most convincing.
“No. No.” He refused to get close to the couch, and glared tearfully at Nico. “ I know what you all think of me, but I didn’t think you would stoop to such cruelty—”
“I’m not lying,” Rose said, putting a hand on his arm, and wishing very hard that Luisa would regain consciousness. “I don’t know you, or these people, so I have no reason to tell you anything but the truth. And you, you wrote that pamphlet. You know what silk can do.”
The older man’s lips quivered and the tears overflowed, running down his face. “No,” he repeated. “No.”
The little man, Salvha, spoke. “This is her, Pau.” He hadn’t taken his eyes off the girl on the sofa since Jao brought him in from the back hall. He’d spared one astonished goggle at Rose before he registered Luisa.
“No.” It was a whisper now.
“Yes. It’s her. I know. She was on the juggernaut. She knew me.” His voice cracked slightly. Jack, who was standing with Nico and Hilda, raised his eyebrow in Rose’s direction. She nodded. Salvha continued. “I didn’t … I didn’t see her. But … the information I had on the shipment was right, after all. Sera lumina ….”
Salvha walked across the small room. “I —” He nodded jerkily to Rose, in what felt to her like some sort of quasi-military acknowledgement. “ —I should apologize to her. Tell her I’m sorry.”
“What’re you sorry about, ‘Vella?” It was barely more than the ghost of a whisper, but Luisa was awake.
“I … I’m sorry about everything,” he said, dropping to his knees next to her. “I’m sorry I didn’t recognize you.”
“D-don’t blame you. I d-didn’t look like m-m-m’self.” To Rose’s astonishment, the girl managed a wheezy laugh. To her greater astonishment, Salvha laughed too, although his ended in a sob.
The girl raised one trembling hand to his lips. “Shhh, love. L-listen t’me now.” He nodded. “You know I’m going, right? That I’m gone?”
Salvha grasped the little fingers that lay against his mouth with both his hands, but didn’t move them. He simply nodded again.
“I’m lucky. I g-get the chance t-t’tell you that I love you, so very m-m-much, and that I’m s-s-sorry, for doubting you and … and everything else—” She coughed, then, a painful wrack that left blood trickling from the corner of her mouth. Rose wordlessly reached across Salvha to wipe the blood away with the already spattered cloth she’d been using for that duty.
“Th-th-the man. ‘Nverno …” Now her voice was stronger. “Filo...m-mena. The other one who’s here with m-me. This is her body. Sh-sh-she knows how to get to him. Listen to her.” She stopped speaking and began to pant shallowly.
“Luisa? Love?” Salvha whispered against her fingers, leaning toward the girl. Rose leaned in further herself, holding her breath. Please, Luisa, not yet, you’ve still some things to say.
“He killed me. P-pr-prom..m..promise me you’ll k-kill him.”
Behind her, Rose heard Hilda take a sharp breath and Pau whimper.
“I’ll kill him,” Salvha said, very gently. Rose knew the hatchet-faced little man, his cheeks wet with tears, would keep his word.
“Papa … Pouco Papa ….”
Rose felt Sampaio move, coming from behind her. So he’s finally accepted it. She shifted, to give him room beside Salvha.
“Luisa?” Pau’s voice had lost its querulous tone. “You — I’m so sorry, so sorry—”
It was no more than a murmur now, Luisa’s voice, but Rose could make it out, even if she couldn’t understand what was being said.
“Nã’chore, Papa. Ag’restou livre. ‘stou com Mama querida.”
“Oh God, don’t leave me … Senh’ra de luz … don’t… no, never mind. I love you, Luisa, minha linda, minha menina…”
“I kn-know, Papa. Love you, too.”
She fell silent. Her fingers, which Salvha had been holding loosely, disengaged, fell. And Rose knew.
It was very quiet in the room as the two men wept.
If Rose had thought it would be hard to see Luisa die, it was harder still to remind those around her that there was still another woman in that body, someone they had to save (if we can, dear lord.) She felt like she was treading on other peoples’ hearts when she spoke. “Filomena?”
The girl on the sofa didn’t reply, and Rose’s breath caught in her throat. Then the fingers that had so lately fallen fluttered, and Rose started to breathe again. “Thank god ....
“I’m sorry, really sorry, but I need to get in there,” she said to Salvha and Pau, as gently as she could. “I need to check on — on Filomena. She’s … she’s still there. But she’s in bad shape.”
Salvha glared at her. Pau paid no attention, so Rose repeated herself, more firmly. “Please. Give me room.” She touched their shoulders, then deliberately moved between them. That physical interference seemed to jolt them out of their fugue state, and they struggled to their feet. Salvha moved toward Jao and the others, scrubbing at his face as he did so. Pau lingered for a moment, reached out and almost touched the still figure on the couch, then shook himself and turned on his heel. When he walked past Nico, he straightened his shoulders.
“I can help you,” was all he said to Machado, but the younger man inclined his head in condolence, absolution, and acceptance of fealty.
Jack moved to Rose’s side. “Sweetheart, we have a cot in the back. It’ll be more comfortable for …” He looked to her for the correct name.
“Filomena. Just Filomena, now. An’ I didn’t get to say goodbye.”
He put an arm around her, and she cried. “You gave her a chance to say goodbye, Rose. Hold on to that.”
“Yeah, I’ll hold onto that,” she agreed, wiping her nose on her sleeve. “Huh. I didn’t think I had any more tears left.”
“There are always more tears, darlin’.”
It didn’t take Jack and Jao too long to get Filomena to the back bedroom cot. She woke up long enough to ask for Rose.
“I don’t f-f-feel her anymore,” she said.
“Luisa’s gone,” Rose confirmed as she once more knelt by the other woman’s side. “She got what she needed to do done.”
“Co’t’dinha … But … I’m still here.”
Her tone of relieved disbelief didn’t surprise Rose at all. The little soldier had been convinced she would die as soon as Luisa did. You might still, but we take our miracles as they come Rose thought. “Yeah you are. You’re stronger than you thought you’d be, aren’t you? An’ Luisa … Luisa wants you to keep fightin’. She wants someone to puni— to kill the man who did this to her. To you, to both of you.”
Filomena breathed a deeper, fuller breath than she had for some time. “Sounds g-go-good t’me. Let me sleep awhile, Rose, eh? I’ll b-b-be better after I sleep.”
“You do that,” Rose said. “Just a little while, though. There’s a lot to do.”
“Yeah. I’ll t-t-talk to Maior Neves about th-the codes when I wake up.” She closed her eyes.
Rose stood up and Jack, who had been waiting in the doorway, held out his arms. His embrace steadied Rose and, when she looked into his tired eyes, she realized he was steadied by her presence. “She knows the way to where … where I think the Doctor is.”
“The lab,” Jack said. Their eyes locked in fearful understanding.
When the knock on the door came, Pau refused to go into the back, although Salvha tried to chivvy him rearward. “I’m not hiding any more,” he said stubbornly.
Nico opened his mouth, then shut it and smiled crookedly before shrugging. “It’s a knock on a door. If it had been someone trying to kill us, I imagine they wouldn’t stand on ceremony that way. Still, it pays to be careful. Jao?”
Jao unholstered his gun on one side of the door, and Salvha silently moved to the other side, his knife unsheathed; Hilda opened it.
For some time afterward, Rose remembered that she came close to laughing out loud as the door opened and everyone — Machado, Hilda, Jao, Salvha and Sampaio — gaped like landed carp at the crisply-uniformed woman who stepped across the threshold.
She in turn, looked around the room with only slightly less amazement.
“All of you? That’s not what I expected. Hello, Nico, Hilda. It’s been a very long time.”
Hilda was the first person to regain her composure.“Hello, Isobel … yes it has. Are you here to—”
“— No. If I had a brain in my head, I would be, but no. I’m here to ask for your help, and to offer some of my own to you. I imagine that you and your … visitors—” She stopped and leveled a cool gaze at Rose and Jack. “ — would like unimpeded access to General Command, and possibly to FCD. I may be of service.”
That elicited another stunned silence, one that Jack made himself break. “This is obviously something short of a happy reunion, Miss...”
“Sous-Tenante Isobel Fahrar,” the woman responded.
This time Rose was the one who startled unnoticed. This was Filomena’s commanding officer, she realized, unnerved. One more coincidence? What are you doing? Whoever she asked silently chose not to answer. Perhaps not all coincidences had a blue-tinged origin, then. Still … was she here about Filomena? Was she here to take them all in? How the hell is she here?
“Pleased to meet you, Sous-Tenante Isobel Fahrar. Captain Jack Harkness.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed, but he kept his smile steady. “How’d you happen to find us?”
“Laowhra,” Pau Sampaio spoke up from his spot near the narrow hallway. “She told you. That’s why she was down in the street.”
Fahrar nodded. “If she’s smart, she’s on her way to get her man now. I arranged it.”
Jack continued when no one spoke up. “You say you want to help us, and you obviously aren’t here because you want to swap old war stories —” He stopped, eyed Hilda and Nico, then resumed. “Although I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d been in some of the same firefights.”
“Not on the same side,” the woman said. She might have smiled. “But you are right. We … knew each other.”
“Ah.” Jack waited.
“There was a time when we walked in some of the same circles. But we had differences of opinion. I was … ignorant of a lot of things. Deliberately so, I imagine.” she continued.
Nico had said nothing since Fahrar walked in the door. “Why should I not shoot you now, Isobel?”
“You’ll have to get in line.”
“Really.” Nico looked thoughtful. “Then I shall put it off. And in answer to your comment, of course I want unimpeded access to General Command. But I doubt the trustworthiness of a member of General Command to get me there without putting me in irons.”
“We don’t have much time, so I’ll not bore you with all the details, but I can tell you with absolute veracity that my days as a member of General Command are in the past.” She sounded wry. “Or will be sometime within the next half-hour. Until then, however, I can get you and whoever else might be part of your … group … past the first two perimeter checks.
“After that, you’re on your own, but I know your abilities, all of you. After all, I was never able to bring you in.” She actually smiled at them. “If anyone can take down Inverno, you can. And if you bring him down, if you dent the silk trade … maybe this world can start to right itself.”
“Sera Lumina, woman, what’s got into you?” Nico breathed.
Fahrar’s smile turned blackly bitter. “ I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. There was someone— never mind. My epiphany is not the point; getting Inverno is.
“He’s at General Command right now; he’s got a lab there and he’s got your alien friend on one of his surgical tables,” Fahrar said, abruptly turning her attention to Jack and Rose. “If you want to rescue him, you will probably have to take out Inverno and his people, so I imagine you’ll be willing to cast your lot with Nico and Hilda. Luckily, as far as I can tell, he keeps his protection detail small. Unluckily, I never had the clearances to go to his so-called ‘medical research’ facilities. You’ll have to use brute force to get in.”
Now was the moment, Rose knew. “Tenante?”
“You had an aide, named Filomena Mireilles.”
Fahrar looked uncertain for the first time. “How do you know that?”
“She’s here. She’s — Inverno used silk on her. She’s dyin’, or she will die unless we can get the Doctor— the one you called alien, the one who was taken to that prison with me — unless we get him out. He might be able to save her.”
Now Fahrar was plainly shaken. “Where is she? Why — ?”
Jao spoke up, his face like granite. “Because she’s one of ours, Fahrar.”
Rose couldn’t map the emotions that crossed the officer’s face, but she could imagine. She hurriedly continued speaking. “An’ she knows the codes to get into the labs.”
“She knows the codes,” Fahrar repeated blankly. “Well, that explains why they didn’t second her along with me.”
“Indeed,” Jao said, still grim; it was clear he didn’t trust the woman in front of him. Then again, Rose thought, she didn’t think anyone in the room trusted her. That didn’t matter, clearly. They were willing to accept her offer.
“Let me see her,” Fahrar said, and it sounded like a plea.
Rose showed her to the room with the rickety cot. She’d half expected Fahrar to drop to her knees to be close to Filomena, but she simply stood and watched as her sleeping aide breathed stertorously. “Your friend can save her?”
“Dunno for sure,” Rose said. “But I know for sure he’s the only one on this planet who stands a chance of doin’ it.”
"She knows the codes to the silk labs,” Fahrar said yet again.
“Yeah. She says so, and I believe her.”
“She was always good with numbers.”
“She still is.” Rose glared. “She still is. She’s alive.”
That’s when Fahrar’s composure truly broke, although she managed to keep the anguish to a low gasp. “Not gone now, you bastard,” she murmured, almost to herself, before straightening her back and setting her shoulders. “Then we need to wake her. It’s time to get to work.”
For those who wonder about the First Empire Neo-Portuguese in this chapter, Luisa told her father, “Little papa, don't cry. I'm free now. I'm with dearest Mama.” And he, in turn, called her “My lovely, my little girl.” When Filomena learned that Luisa had disappeared, she called her a poor little thing.This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/354621.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.