Characters: Jack, Ianto, Owen, OCs.
Summary: Torchwood owns land where alien animal species stranded on earth can live out their lives.
Word Count: 1381
Written For: Challenge 63: Reservation at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Jack called it the Alien Reservation, a Torchwood-owned tract of woodland and meadow measuring some fifty hectares. It was situated a few miles outside of Cardiff, discreetly fenced off and protected by alien-enhanced security systems, forcefields, and perception filters, to prevent trespassers from getting in.
One of Torchwood’s secondary bases was out there, underground of course, and Ianto visited it once a month, just as he did with the other two back-up bases, doing maintenance on the various systems, and occasionally re-stocking the supplies kept on hand in case of emergency. The last time they’d been forced out of the main Hub it had been because of a biological hazard, and they’d had to work out of the basement of Torchwood’s warehouse down by the docks for a week until the Hub’s air scrubbers dealt with the contamination.
The Reservation was also where Torchwood housed any alien herbivores that could survive the Welsh weather and were able to eat earth vegetation. There were currently almost twenty species thriving there in peace and safety; the majority were animals, but there were also two clans of sentients, the crews of crashed spaceships, who farmed plots of land within the reservation’s boundaries and took care of the livestock, contacting their human landlords in the event of any serious problems.
Most of the sentient species who became stranded on earth were able to fit in with the general population, wearing contact lenses to hide peculiarities in their eyes, shaving excess body hair, and using various other tricks to make themselves look more or less human. Disguises wouldn’t have worked for the Magravoores and the Quilch though; they were just too weird.
The Magravoores resembled five-foot tall, purple carrots, with arms, legs, and faces, their hair a mass of long, feathery fronds that usually hung down gracefully, but stood straight up if they were alarmed.
The Quilch couldn’t have been more different if they tried. They were short, squat, blobby green people with four stumpy legs, tentacle-like arms, and eyes on stalks. The also had antennae rather than ears, which quivered constantly and ‘heard’ by feeling for vibrations in the air.
Despite their differences, the two groups got along very well, and were reasonably content with their lives. They patrolled the reservation, kept a check on the various herbivores, grew their own food, and lived comfortably in homes they’d built for themselves with the help of alien technology. They seldom had any need to contact Torchwood, since they were perfectly capable of handling most problems, but they reported on any notable events whenever Ianto or Jack visited.
When Ianto arrived at the Hub one morning, it was to find Jack pulling his coat on.
“Ah, Ianto, perfect timing! Don’t bother taking your coat off; I just got a message, there’s a problem out at the reservation. One of the aliens seems unwell. Hurgan and her girls have set up a portable isolation field around it just in case it has something contagious, and I’ve called Owen. We’re picking him up on the way. Can you grab his med-kit? I’ll get the hazmat suits. Better safe than sorry.” Hurgan was the matriarch of the Magravoores, getting on in years but still tough as nails and a force to be reckoned with. She took her responsibilities very seriously, especially when it came to the welfare of the other species living on the reservation.
“On it.” Ianto headed for the autopsy bay to fetch Owen’s medical bag, and ten minutes later, the two men were getting into the SUV. As always, Jack pulled away without even giving Ianto time to put his seatbelt on.
Owen was waiting outside his building when the big black vehicle pulled up in front of him, and he jumped in the back, slamming the door as Jack peeled away from the kerb.
“Right, which alien is it?” he asked as he accepted the travel mug of coffee Ianto handed him.
“The Ragnian Plorb that fell through the Rift a few months ago.”
Owen snorted. “Never sure whether or not you’re makin’ these names up as you go,” he admitted.
“My imagination isn’t that good. The name isn’t entirely accurate, it’s not exactly pronounceable by humans, we don’t have the right speech organs, but that’s as close an approximation as I can get.”
“Huh. Never really considered that most aliens are named in alien languages. Makes sense, I suppose. So what’s up with this Plorb?”
“It’s not interested in food and it hasn’t moved for several hours. It’s just sitting there, hunched up, and quivering occasionally.”
Even though the Plorb was a relative newcomer, they knew enough about it from the Magravoores’ observations to tell this wasn’t normal behaviour. Plorbs spent about eighteen hours a day grazing, only stopping to nap while digesting their food. They also kept moving, searching out leaves, fungi, and roots as well as grasses. They resembled small, tailless, bluish-grey deer, with dappled coats, delicate heads on a neck like a camel’s, huge, mobile ears, and big blue eyes that always looked surprised. Their hind legs were oddly jointed, so they could stand upright and reach tempting morsels overhead.
“That doesn’t sound good. How long did you say it’s been like that?”
“Hurgan said one of her girls found it just before dawn, so that’s three hours or so ago. How long it had already been sitting there is anyone’s guess.”
“I hope whatever it has isn’t contagious. It was perfectly healthy when we took it out there. I made sure of that!”
“I know you did. Maybe it’s simply eaten something that doesn’t agree with it.”
“Yeah, maybe. Let’s hope it’s something that simple.”
The drive out to the reservation took about forty minutes. Ianto punched in the code to open the gates and they closed automatically behind the SUV. Jack parked about a mile in, by the entrance to the underground complex. One of Hurgan’s girls was waiting to guide them to the patient so they suited up and followed her.
The patient’s condition hadn’t changed; it was still hunched up, quivering intermittently and occasionally shifting position, obviously uncomfortable. Owen entered the pen with his med-kit while Jack and Ianto waited outside with Hurgan, several other Magravoores, and a small group of Quilch. Examining the small creature left Owen even more baffled. Temperature, heartbeat, and respiration were all normal. He picked up his scanner and ran it over the Plorb.
“What?” Jack asked.
“That’s not possible!”
“It’s in labour! But it’s the only one we’ve got, and it wasn’t pregnant before. It would have shown up on my original scans!”
“So what? Immaculate conception?” Jack asked, puling off the hazmat suit’s headgear. “Or did it mate with some other species?”
“Delayed implantation, maybe,” Ianto suggested. “It mated back on its own planet, then waited until conditions were favourable for it to have a baby.”
Owen nodded. “Yeah, that would make sense. Some earth species do that.” He continued his examination. “Contractions are too slow though, I’ll give her something to speed things along, and if that doesn’t work, I might have to do a c-section.” He gave the Plorb an injection and within five minutes, things were speeding up considerably. Fifteen minutes later, the first of two miniature Plorbs was born, the second following a few minutes later. Mama Plorb licked her babies clean, then gratefully accepted the food and water Hurgan’s girls fetched.
Jack was all smiles. “Well, that was a far happier outcome than I was expecting! What say we leave the little family in peace? I’m sure Hurgan and her people will keep an eye on them.”
“Works for me,” Owen agreed. “I’m ready for a big breakfast after that.”
Ianto snorted. “Yes, because you worked so hard bringing those two babies into the world!”
“Up yours, Teaboy!” Owen grumbled good-naturedly.
Gathering up his gear, Owen and Jack headed back in the direction of the SUV, but Ianto paused for a few minutes, pulling out a small digital camera and snapping off a few pictures of mama and babies. He was sure the girls would want to see the reservation’s newest inhabitants, the first Plorbs to be born on earth. He hoped they’d have long and happy lives despite being so far from home.