Characters: Ianto, Jack, Owen, Tosh, Gwen.
Summary: Jack knows exactly how to catch the latest alien creature to arrive in Cardiff, but for some reason the rest of the team don’t seem to have much faith in him.
Word Count: 1858
Written For: Challenge 184: Rope at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“Rope?” Ianto raised one eyebrow at the coil of thin rope Jack was carrying slung over one shoulder. “That’s the special equipment we had to come all the way back here for?”
The team had gone out an hour or so earlier in response to a Rift alert. They’d known from the readings Tosh had got from her Rift monitor program that they were after a living creature, but as soon as Jack had seen their visitor he’d left the others to keep an eye on it and had Ianto accompany him back to the Hub to fetch a few things. While Ianto had been filling the tranquilliser darts and loading the gun, just in case it was needed, Jack had dashed off to get his special equipment.
“Don’t mock; sometimes rope is the best tool for the job. I’ve come across muffrits before, on several occasions in fact, and I know how to deal with them. You don’t.”
“Fair enough, but what are you planning to do with that rope; build a trap of some sort? I mean, wouldn’t a net be better?”
“No, I’m going to lasso our guest.”
“Lasso?” Ianto let out a disbelieving snort. “Think you’re a cowboy now, do you?”
“Hey! I’ll have you know this isn’t my first rodeo! I may be a teeny bit out of practice, but I know from experience the easiest way of catching a muffrit is by roping it. They’re not that much different from cows or wild horses, just a lot shaggier.”
That was certainly true; the one roaming Hailey Park looked like a shag rug on legs. It was about the size of a pony, somewhere between three and a half and four feet tall at the highest part of the shoulder, but with a little less neck than the average cow, and a head a bit like a tapir with a Mohawk haircut. Ianto had thought at first that it’s legs were ridiculously short before realising they only looked that way because of the long coat hiding more than half their length.
“Well, if nothing else this should be entertaining.” Ianto didn’t even try to keep the amusement out if his voice.
Jack pouted. “Laugh all you want, but you’ll soon see a lasso is the only way to go when catching muffrits.” He hitched his coil of rope further up his shoulder and stalked off towards the garage.
Ianto picked up the tranquilliser gun and darts, following behind his lover, smiling slightly in anticipation. Cowboy Jack… All he needed now was a Stetson.
Jack was huffy all the way back to Hailey Park, sitting in the front passenger seat re-coiling his rope and testing the slipknot forming the noose while Ianto drove. He hated to have his skills doubted, especially by Ianto. He expected it from Owen, but Ianto knew him better than anyone and should have more faith in him!
Ianto kept his eyes on the road making the best speed he could through the midday traffic, not wanting to leave the others out in the bitter cold for any longer than necessary. At least after the previous night’s heavy frost there wouldn’t be too many people taking lunchtime strolls. With luck they wouldn’t need to Retcon anyone.
Leaving the SUV parked as unobtrusively as possible on a nearby street, Ianto followed Jack and his lasso into the park. It was quite a trek back to where the muffrit had last been seen, which got Ianto thinking.
“Assuming we manage to catch it, by whatever means, then what?”
“Then we take it to the reservation. Muffrits are herbivores; it should be happy enough living there.”
“And how do you plan on getting it there? Ride it? Hitch it to the back of the SUV and hope it can keep up? Because there is no way it’ll fit in the boot, or the back seat.”
“So we’ll get a rental from Harwoods for the afternoon. Gwen can give Rhys a call while I’m roping our new pet.”
Ianto chuckled. “Just like that?”
“Would it kill you to at least give me the benefit of the doubt?”
“You’re talking about lassoing an alien!”
“There you go again!”
“Sorry, but this is Cardiff, not the Wild West. The whole idea just seems a bit out there. No offence meant.”
“Roping a muffrit is a whole lot more likely that trying to shoot it with a tranquilliser gun. Even using the longest darts available, getting one through its coat and into the muscle would take a miracle.”
“Granted it won’t be an easy shot, but--”
“Just let me try it my way first, okay?”
“I suppose, but if you spook it I’ll have an even harder job of tranquillising it.”
By now they were approaching the team, who were huddled inside their coats trying not to freeze. The muffrit hadn’t moved more than a couple of hundred yards since Jack and Ianto had left, so they’d been standing out in the open at the mercy of a biting wind for over an hour.
“About time!” Owen groused. “What’ve you two been doing while we’ve been freezing our arses off? Stop for coffee and a shag, did you?”
“Lunchtime traffic,” Ianto said. “You know what the one-way system’s like at the busiest times of the day, and with Christmas only a couple of weeks away it’s even worse than usual.”
“That’s your excuse. So what now? Thought you were going back for some kind of special equipment.”
“We’ve got it.” Jack held up his rope. “Gwen, call Rhys. Tell him we want a lorry out here right away, with him driving.”
“Fine.” Gwen got her phone out. “What’re you goin’ to do?”
Jack shook out and re-coiled his lasso again, getting the noose ready and making sure there were no kinks in the rope. “I’m going to rope a muffrit.” He started towards the alien, needing to be in range before he threw the lasso.
“You what?” Gwen paused with her phone halfway to her ear.
“You’ve gotta be kidding!” Owen’s laughter made the muffrit look up in their direction, twitching its drooping lips as though it agreed with his opinion.
“I’ve got the tranquilliser gun in case we need it,” Ianto assured his friends.
“Glad someone around here’s got some sense.” Owen tucked his hands deeper into his armpits. “All I want is to catch that mobile hearthrug and get back in the warm before I get frostbite.”
Ianto was watching Jack, noticing he wasn’t walking directly towards the muffrit, but rather circling around behind it, swinging the noose of the lasso idly at his side. The alien soon lost interest in him, dropping its head down to graze again.
Judging that he was just about close enough, Jack began to whirl his lasso around his head. The movement caught the muffrit’s attention and it looked up again, turning its head towards him as Jack cast the noose, the rest of the rope feeding out smoothly behind it. Before the creature knew what was happening, the noose had dropped neatly over its head and then Jack was drawing in the slack.
As it felt the rope begin to tighten around its neck, the muffrit jerked back and broke into a lumbering run. Jack started running as well, trying not to get pulled right off his feet.
“A little help here!” he yelled back at his team.
The muffrit outweighed Jack by a considerable margin; just because he had it roped didn’t mean he had control over it yet.
Tossing the tranquilliser gun to Tosh, Ianto took off after Jack and his almost captive, adding his weight to the end of the rope.
“Owen, don’t just stand there watching! Do something!” Tosh shouted.
“I am, I’m watching!”
“If it gets away we could be out here for hours trying to catch it again!” Gwen snapped, running after Ianto to help. The muffrit didn’t appear to be slowing down yet.
“Good point. Suppose anything’s better than standing here freezing.” Owen broke into a run too.
The combined weight of the four of them was just enough to hamper the muffrit, and Jack went hand-over hand along the rope as the creature slowed until he could reach it and inject a dose of mild sedative into a less heavily furred bit of neck close to its head. A couple of minutes later, despite the adrenaline that had to be coursing through the alien’s veins, it lost interest in trying to run away and slowed to a walk, then stopped, looking mildly confused, lower lip jutting so it appeared to be pouting at them for spoiling its fun.
Jack just smiled smugly as he fashioned a rough halter out of the other end of his rope to make leading the muffrit a bit easier, and with two of the team walking on each side if it, hanging on to handfuls of its thick coat, they led the shaggy creature back the way they’d come.
“Rhys said he’ll meet us at the pavilion,” Gwen told Jack as soon as she’d got her breath back.
“Good. Which way’s that?”
Ianto pointed. “That way.”
The small group changed direction as Tosh caught up with them.
“So?” said Jack, looking across at his lover.
“So what?” Ianto raised an enquiring eyebrow.
“You didn’t believe I could do it; I’m waiting for an apology.”
“Ah, right. I’m sorry I doubted your prowess with a lariat. That was really quite impressive.”
“Thank you, I didn’t think it went too badly considering I’m a bit rusty. Of course it might have been easier from horseback; having to run after a bolting animal isn’t ideal, but thankfully muffrits aren’t especially speedy. The heavy fur weighs them down.”
“So where’d you learn the Wild West skills then?” Owen asked.
“The Wild West; where else? I spent several decades in America towards the end of the nineteenth century before travelling to Britain. I’d been there before on Time Agency business, so I knew the lie of the land. It was easy enough to get ranch work since I already knew how to ride and shoot. I might’ve stayed longer, only I got trampled in a stampede. The boys took my boots and gun, buried me, and rode on with the herd; they would’ve been miles away by the time I revived and dug my way out of my grave. Took me three weeks to walk back to the nearest town, barefoot. Told the sheriff there I got ambushed by bandits and left for dead. Took up saloon work after that.” He grinned. “The stories I could tell!”
Owen groaned. “Not sure I want to know.”
Jack shrugged. “Your loss. Come on; with luck Rhys will be along soon with the lorry. Ianto and I can take our pal here out to the reservation while the rest of you take the SUV back to the Hub. You can keep an eye on things until we get back.”
“Works for me,” Owen agreed. “Maybe next time there’s an alien to catch, we’ll just stay home and leave it to the expert.”