Characters: Jack, Tosh, Ianto, Owen, Gwen, OCs.
Summary: Something new and unusual has come through the Rift, and even Jack has no idea what they are.
Word Count: 1436
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, Weird hairy things,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
When the Rift alert started blaring, the Torchwood team abandoned the tedious tasks they were involved with and clustered around Tosh’s workstation, eager for a respite of any kind from the mind numbing boredom of a slow week.
“What have we got, Tosh?” Jack asked, getting right into her personal space in order to look past her left ear at her computer screens. Not that what he saw there made much sense to him, but if whatever this was meant a break from catching up on paperwork, he was all for it.
“Readings suggest something living, or… probably several somethings.”
“Several living somethings? That’s the best you can come up with?” Owen taunted, jiggling about impatiently, as ready as Jack to take a break from trying to decipher his notes and turn them into detailed reports on recent events. “All those fancy gadgets…”
“Shut up, Owen.” Ianto frowned at the medic. “Give her a chance.”
Tosh ignored the jibes and squabbling, she was used to it. Instead she concentrated on pulling what information she could from the data scrolling across one screen as her fingers danced across her keyboard, pulling up CCTV at the location of the Rift spike on another of her screens.
“Carbon-based life forms, not really too surprising.” Over seventy-five percent of aliens so far encountered by Torchwood and UNIT had been carbon based. “My readings indicate they’re about the size of a large dog, but figures for air displacement on arrival indicate a body mass of about half what I’d expect given their approximate size.” Turning aside from the scrolling data, she set to work cleaning up the CCTV footage on her other screen. It was blurry and indistinct at first, but soon sharpened to reveal…
“Nope, no idea what those are,” Jack said, leaning even further over Tosh’s shoulder as he stared at the paused image. “They look like… weird hairy things.”
“Well that’s enlightening. Not.” Owen scowled, arms folded across his chest.
“Whatever they are, we can’t just leave them wandering about out there,” Ianto pointed out. “Best to round them up before someone sees them, or they wander off and get into trouble.”
“Ianto’s right; we don’t know yet whether they’re animals or sentient beings, or if they might be dangerous. Grab your gear, kids; let’s go.”
Everyone scattered, grabbing weapons, field kits, and coats. Ianto made for the SUV to throw anything they might need into the boot. Larger pieces of equipment were kept in a storage area off the garage and he thought the nets might come in handy on this occasion.
When they arrived at the Atlantic Trading Estate out at Barry and found a place to park, they made their way straight towards the timber yard. Tosh had tracked the creatures via CCTV, until they went out of range of the cameras, but it wasn’t difficult to follow the trail thanks to the residual traces of Rift energy they left behind.
“Looks like they’re heading towards the tennis courts,” Ianto said, turning his coat collar up against the weather. “Good thing it’s raining; nobody’s likely to be playing in this.” He strode along beside Jack, a rolled up net tucked under one arm. Gwen was carrying a second net. If they were dealing with some kind of animal, the nets should work well enough. If the beings were sentient, however… Everything would depend on whether they were friendly or hostile.
They caught up with the creatures on the grass alongside the tennis courts. The images Tosh had captured on the CCTV had shown the team roughly what they looked like, but the cameras had been looking downwards from a good fifteen feet up, and the footage was in black and white. In reality, the visitors were anything but.
“I was right,” said Jack, gazing at the small herd of creatures. “They’re weird hairy things.”
Even Ianto couldn’t have come up with a more apt description. They looked like upended mops balanced on four handles instead of one, the ‘handles’ being the creatures’ legs, spindly and covered with fuzzy light brown fur. There seemed to be at least three joints in each leg, which ended in feet like tennis balls cut in half, the flat side resting on the ground. The mop-like bodies, roughly oval in shape and about twice the size of a rugby ball, were completely covered in multicoloured, thick shaggy fur, which hung down on all sides. Small tufted ears poked out of their thick coats, and something like a hairy elephant’s trunk dangled at what they assumed was the front of each creature. There were five of them, milling about aimlessly in the rain. Their fur seemed fairly waterproof, but every so often, one would stop and give itself a good shake, spraying rainwater in every direction.
“They don’t look dangerous,” Gwen said.
“Looks can be deceiving.” Jack started towards them, gun at the ready, just in case they turned out to be hostile. “Spread out and try to herd them up against the fence.”
The creatures offered no resistance to being herded, just ambled along until there was nowhere else to go, then stopped. One looked at Jack and honked, waving its trunk. Jack tried speaking Galactic Standard at it, but it just honked again and started grooming his hair, so he returned the favour. It seemed to like that, honking softly.
“So, non-sentient and friendly?” Ianto hazarded.
“Looks that way; and I think they’re herbivores.” One was tugging up tufts on grass with its trunk and eating them.
“That would seem probable,” Ianto agreed. “Okay, five of us, five of them… do you think we can persuade them to come quietly?”
“Might as well at least try. It’ll be a lot quicker if we can do this without having to resort to the nets.” Jack turned his attention to the hairy thing that was still trying to groom him. “You want to come with me?” He took a step back and it took a step forwards. That was promising. “Okay, people, choose your hairy thing and let’s get them back to the SUV!”
“Are they all going to fit in the boot?” Gwen asked, looking at the creatures dubiously.
Owen studied them thoughtfully. “There’s not all that much to them, they’re mostly hairy lumps on stilts, and the legs should fold up. I can’t see it’ll be a problem.”
“Might have to put some of the gear in with us though,” Ianto said. “Wouldn’t want them getting hurt in transit.”
“There’s nowhere suitable for them in the Hub; probably best if we take them straight out to the reservation,” Jack decided. “Owen can check them out once we get there and we’ll put them in the quarantine barn for a month, just to make sure they’re not carrying any diseases. The Magravoores and the Quilch will look after them.”
That agreed they started trying to persuade the hairy things to go back the way they’d come, away from the grassy area. They were reluctant at first, but then Jack’s, which was still busy trying to groom him all over, sniffed out the pack of polo mints in his pocket. After that, they were happy to follow to the team anywhere in the hope of being given another mint.
Getting them into the boot of the SUV was a bit more difficult, but they managed to fit four in there. The fifth had to sit on Jack’s lap in the front passenger seat. It didn’t mind though, it appeared to have grown quite attached to him.
“Looks like you’ve made another conquest,” Ianto chuckled as the creature honked in Jack’s ear.
“It only loves me for my polo mints.”
It was a good thing the SUV’s windows were tinted so the team could see out but nobody could see in. Driving through Cardiff with five weird hairy things peering out the windows would have been a bit conspicuous otherwise.
“We can’t keep calling them hairy things,” Tosh said as they headed out the other side of the city on their way to the reservation, where the larger herbivorous alien animals lived out their lives in peace and safety.
“Wooliphants,” Ianto said firmly.
Jack laughed. “I like it! A herd of Wooliphants! Who knows, maybe they’ll even breed.”
“I wonder if they can be sheared like sheep,” Gwen said. “We could all have multicoloured Wooliphant jumpers for winter.”
“I’ll pass,” said Owen.
“That’s something we can figure out later,” Jack said. “For now, let’s just get these guys settled into their new home.”
That at least was something everyone could agree on.