Edith Lyons stood triumphant in the smouldering ruins of the detainment camp, her knees buckling, her physical strength failing, her body, ravaged by radiation from nuclear fallout years ago, was giving out on her, but her spirit was soaring. She had let all these caged birds fly across the fields and towards safety.
She had helped to change the world.
She spotted her lover Fran nearby, helping to load the last of the refugees into the backs of vans, soon her mission would be over and they could settle for a while. The war was far from won, but the night had been.
The air suddenly became thinner and thinner, Edith took her inhaler and took in a deep intake, but this time it was proving to have minimal effect. She believed this could be the end, but she would not be denied a final question from her lips directed towards a species, a society and possibly even the universe.
“I wonder…I wonder…what happens next?” she asked.
Then there was blackness.
She would recover, because she wanted to see, there was always so much to see. The urge to have her question answered was so great it would drive her to defy death’s call. She followed the news diligently, news of a world waking up to the horrors of Vivian Rook and her four star party, she would eventually entertain herself with the corners of the dark web, the resistance network, who chatted about tales of those culpable in the transfer of refugees to the detainment camps and the inhumane treatment they received there, being stolen away into the night towards a haven, or to be condemned to a fresh hell.
She planned a reckoning for all those that had wronged others so callously. She only needed the spark of inspiration to light her path.
She would be there for her brother Stephen, and hear his anguish, his pain. It was more about him than her, he was mourning his own catastrophic failures and how afraid he was she would pass on without seeing him redeemed, but she understood why he felt this way, and was well prepared
When the opportunity arose to use cutting edge technology to upload her memories into a data cloud, she saw the chance to make good on many promises to herself, to her family, to the world.
She would live on to see how the human race advances.
She would exact revenge on Vivian Rooke.
She would stay in touch with her family.
She would become a beacon, a lighthouse, guiding ships, souls, into port and navigating then through the dark.
The day comes, and she is plugged into the machine. Her niece Bethany is there for most of the experience, calling in from home, she has prepared the family for a new, yet familiar, arrival.
Tied to the machine, tanks of water molecules behind her, years, and years roll by in her head, flashes of what had been her family’s life up to that point, all stored in her head, plucked and deposited onto molecules of water, used to chronicle the life path of a family that lived like fire and burned as brightly.
The Doctors, Moss and Riku, hear of how confident she will be of living as a brand new form of life within the complex network, how she believed Vivian Rook had been stolen away by whoever funded her, and her plans for retribution on her.
They believed it was all imagination, and urged her to calm down. Edith was confident what she had ‘imagined’ was merely the future offering her a tantalising promise of tomorrow. This would happen, she’d make it happen.
Bethany eventually departs as they enter the final stage. Edith relaxed herself, laying down on the bed and allowing death to creep in, but not before one final affirmation.
“You’re wrong, you know. You’re absolutely wrong. Everything you’ve stored. All the downloads. Those bits of me that you’ve copied on to water, you’ve got no idea what they really are. I’m not a piece of code. I’m not information. All these memories, they’re not just facts; they’re so much more than that. They’re my family. And my lover. They’re my mum, and my brother who died years ago. They’re love. That’s what I’m becoming now. Love. I am love”
She could feel her life signs slipping away, she prepared for the end.
The doctors were swiftly interrupted by several men, some of them armed, and two individuals, a man in a long grey overcoat and a blonde woman in a dark blue coat and skirt.
“Slight change of plan Doctor Moss” said the man.
“Excuse me, but who exactly are you?” said Moss.
“Yvonne Hartman, and this is Captain Jack Harkness, we’re known to Edith, well, one of us is”
Yvonne looked toward one of the men, who removed his helmet to reveal the features of a man Edith had met when conspiring with the rest of her family on how to free Viktor Gariah, the lover of her deceased brother Daniel, who had been detained at one of Rook’s camps.
The man, Ahmed, walked over to Edith and checked for a pulse.
“It’s too late, she’s gone” said Riku.
“Notify the family” said Moss.
“Yes, open a link to them, I can take it from there” said Jack.
“She saved my sister, she saved everyone, we have to save her, you promised us she would help light the way for others” said Ahmed.
“And we’ll fulfil that promise, right now she has to put certain fears to rest” Jack replied, working on a device attached to his wrist.
“Have you tapped into the network?” asked Yvonne.
“I work like a charm every time, probably because I’m such a charmer”
“I’d say you’re just a lucky charm” said Yvonne.
“Oh really, is that why the government is always after me?” Jack joked.
“I’m sorry, but are you actually trying to hack into our cloud database?” asked Moss.
“Not hacking, extracting”
“Edith’s data to be precise, and giving her memory core a bit of a boost to create centralised sentient awareness. We got in touch with her family just before we arrived here, they’re prepared. Got them to use an old Signor device from back in the day, it’s a bit primitive, I’d have preferred the walls to house her voice like with current technology provides, create a genuine haunted house given the state that building is in”
“Amusement’s for lesser centuries Captain” said Yvonne.
“Oh right, just ’cause this is where everything changes, some things like genuine fun doesn’t get to stay encased in amber” Jack sarcastically replied.
“You can’t just put Edith’s mind into a Signor and expect to be so formal with her family, if there’s a chance this works, she could react badly to being out of mind, out of place” Moss protested.
“But she wouldn’t be. Don’t you see? Couldn’t you tell she was trying to persuade you otherwise? We were watching everything, when she said she would enter the machine and become a spite and a spirit that would fly across the oceans to hunt down her prey, she was committed to the idea she would not be prone to human conditions, human failings, the reactions, the fears, the anxieties, she has fearlessly lit her path and it is furious, it is also fair, she will not be like Prometheus and the sun, hers is a life like fire and she will burn those who have crossed the Earth will ill intent. We’ll help her every step of the way”
“How so?” said Moss.
Jack approached the water tanks; he put his right hand against the tip of one of them, gently pressing his head against the glass.
“Edith, we know who was behind Rooke, in your normal and constrained world, they would be beyond your comprehension, but now? Now you’re above even them, you are what they are trying to deny the rest of humanity. You are evolved, you are different, transhuman, life without limitation, you are more vital to your cause, to the diverse trail that we must lead the world through. We can help you, we can take your gift, we can give you a voice and turn up the volume so all those who refuse to listen can hear you. Go to your family, let them know it’s you, tell them the truth about what’s going on, why you need to do what you have to, then drift away, find Vivian Rook. You helped light the path of revolution Edith; don’t ever diminish the role you had in that. Cross the boarders like your brother did”
There was silence for what appeared to be ages, the water levels in the tank rose, the temperature in the room began to get warmer and then colder
“If you’re there, if I’ve succeeded, greet us like only Edith Lyons can”
At the Lyons home, the family gathered.
Bethany got the call.
“She’s gone” she said.
The grandmother, Muriel, took her turn to speak, addressing the device pearched in the middle of the table
“Good afternoon Signor”
Not even a second passes before the response is made
“Good afternoon” it replied in a partially feminine, and familiar, voice.
“Welcome to Torchwood Ms. Lyons”