Personal note: I tried to write crack, I really did. Rated teen for swearing and discussion. This takes place towards the end of season one.
Tosh was playing scrabble on the hub mainframe when it happened. The screen froze, flickered several times and went blue. Then hypertext transfer protocol started to scroll across the screen so fast it almost blurred together. She grabbed her phone and saw the same thing on its screen, the base coding of the internet flashing across it, then it was gone, and she was left staring at the familiar cat screensaver.
“ . . . the fuck just happened?!” Owen bellowed, answering the question as to whether or not it was just the hub mainframe and her phone. “Did the fucking internet just crash and reboot itself?”
“I don’t know, let me check . . .” Tosh started typing furiously checking the programs she had set up on the mainframe.
“It was downloaded,” Jack yelled from his office.
“What? Can you come down and explain that! I didn’t hear you,” Owen yelled back. “It sounded like you just said someone downloaded the internet.”
“Somebody did.” Jack came down and over to them, and looked at the screen where Tosh was running some tests. “Somewhere, something somehow downloaded the entire internet.”
Gwen and Ianto came running over. “Jack, something just —“ Gwen started.
“Downloaded the internet, scanned it, and are probably right now going over it one blog and website at a time.” Jack said.
“Do you have any idea who might have done that?” asked Ianto.
“It’s aliens,” Owen told him.
“How do you know that?”
“Because we’re bloody Torchwood, and it’s always going to be bloody aliens,” Owen explained with his usual side order of sarcasm.
“It is aliens,” Jack confirmed. “There, look.” He pointed at something on the screen. “The source of the download is above Earth, stationed in orbit over Wisconsin. That line there is a fragment of translation software between HTML and . . .”
“And what? The intergalactic net neutrality censors?” Owen said, not impressed at how Jack seemed to be drawing this out for dramatic effect.
“They’re called Myk Goophiens, and they’re star fish aliens,” Jack explained.
Ianto raised his eyebrows at that, quite eloquently. “Starfish aliens?”
“Basically, they hover over a planet they want to absorb, check it out, then come within the atmosphere and shoot their guts out over it, move across it slowly and absorb everything living until there is nothing left but an empty shell. Downloading the internet was their way of getting enough information to know where to start first. I’d say we have,” he checked his watch. “About 90 minutes before they descend.”
“So those Star Fish Mac Gooffins, or however the fuck you pronounce it, are up there right now sorting through the internet to determine if we’re a palatable bit of intergalactic coral reef to slurp up?” Owen said, just to clarify what was going on. “And first they had to download the entire internet? All of it? Every last bit and binary of code?”
Gwen rolled her eyes at him. “Yes, Owen, that’s what ‘they downloaded all of it’ means. Every last celeb image, blog, website, live journal, facebook page and cat video, they have all of it. And we have an hour and a half before they decide where to start slurping.”
“So what are they going to do with all the porn?”
That broke the tension up. Jack laughed, Gwen put her hand over her face, and Tosh just snorted. Ianto merely gave Owen a side look. “Thank you for that image, Owen, I cherish the thought of alien star fish reviewing human pornography. Perhaps they’ll enjoy the hentai.”
Now it was Owen’s turn to make a face. “I really did not need to know you knew about that.”
“You’re right though,” Tosh said, more thoughtfully than usually warranted in a conversation about aliens and animated tentacle porn. “What are they going to do with the porn they just downloaded? If they are really based off of starfish, we’re so alien to them that they probably don’t know what to do about it and will just ignore it. Maybe we could use that to our advantage. Jack? What do you think?”
“It’s worth a try. If we could send them something to break down their communications or ships operations that might make them leave — or at least stall for time before they start to digest us.” Jack replied.
“Yeah, brilliant as that idea is, we’ve only got 80 minutes left to pull it off. Got a plan B if the coding gets buggy?” Owen said, feeling the need to point out the flaws in that plan. “Besides, isn’t anybody else going to notice a giant alien cnidarian floating over . . . where was it you said?”
“Wisconsin,” Gwen reminded him. “It’s in orbit over Wisconsin.”
“Where the fuck is that? Somewhere over by Dublin?” Owen wanted to know.
“”It’s in America,” Jack explained. “Kind of . . . in the middle of America. They grow corn there, and make cheese. A lot of cheese.” He grinned in memory of something. “And some really good beer, for Americans. In fact there was this one little lady with her home brewing set up —“
“Ok, nobody in beer and cheese land is going to notice an alien unless it starts milking cows. Tosh, what’ve you got?” Owen had noticed that Toshiko was typing away at top speed.
“I think I can do something with this. Look, Jack, what do you think of this?” She pointed to a line of code on the screen.
“Tosh, I think you’re beautiful. I mean I think that’s beautiful. I think it might just work.” Jack said and grinned proudly at his computer systems genius.
“Good. Ianto, can you give me a hand with this?” Toshiko smiled a little at the praise but kept typing.
“Of course. I see what you’re doing and I think this would make it more effective.” Ianto slid into a chair next to her and started typing almost as fast as she was. “Jack, do you know anything about their operating systems?”
“A little bit. You might want to do something different right there . . .” he leaned over behind them to help as Tosh and Ianto worked frantically to write something that would crash the system of an alien starfish spaceship.
“Right then,” Gwen said as she watched Tosh and Owen type code as fast as they could, with Jack watching and giving an occasional suggestion. “We’ve got alien starfish Myc Gooffins in orbit above us and we’re going to send them a virus by using pornography?”
Ianto just shrugged and continued typing. “We might as well play to our strengths . . . as a species,” he clarified when Jack looked at him with astonishment, his eyes glazed over slightly. “It’s not like we have any shortage of porn on this planet.”
Owen gave a very high pitched snicker. He did not giggle at the thought of Jack making bug eyes over the concept of Ianto as a porn star, oh, no, he just snickered at a very high pitched frequency.
There wasn’t much to do for Owen and Gwen to do as Ianto, Tosh and Jack frantically tried to write a virus strong enough to disable the alien threat. Gwen started checking the local and international news outlets. There was some online chatter about a sudden glitch, but so far nobody was panicking over aliens in Wisconsin. Owen wasn’t feeling all that comfortable using the internet at that moment and when over to check on his plants. After all, for all he knew it was his porn stash they were using for their virus. Personally he found the waiting to be more nerve racking than the usual running and chasing.
“Ha! Got it!” Ianto finally shouted. Toshiko just leaned back in her chair with a smug grin of triumph and shook out her wrists.
“You did good, boys and girls,” Jack said and clapped them both on the shoulder. "Shall we send them our regards?”
“You’d better hurry up, people are starting to notice there’s something up there. I think America is going to blow her nut soon if we don’t do something,” Gwen told them.
“Alright then, here you go - with love, from Torchwood!” Jack hit send, and the virus started working its way through the files of pornography the aliens had ignored and into the navigation and operational system of the Myk Goophiens. They all watched anxiously until finally the alien ship started to move away from their planet and started cheering.
“Now that’s what I call a good day’s work!” Owen said, grinning like a maniac.
“That’s because you didn’t do any of it,” Ianto replied, also grinning.
“Exactly. It was my idea, though, defeat the aliens with porn, play to our strengths and all that. And holy fuck, it actually worked. It actually fucking worked! We didn’t even have to hide any bodies this time.”
“Yes, it worked, and if you start singing ‘the internet is for porn’ I will smack you,” Gwen told him playfully.
“No, Owen, no bodies, not this time - it worked. Just this once it worked and everybody lives!” Jack said.
Ianto glanced at him. It was so rare for Jack to have such a look of unrestrained euphoria in on his face, but it was a beautiful thing to see.
After that they drifted back to what they had been doing earlier. Jack went back to his office to reassure the right people that the internet was back to normal and Earth was safe for the moment. Ianto made coffee; he thought Jack could use a cup. Owen and Gwen went back to their projects but Tosh stayed where she was, setting up some monitoring programs to make sure the aliens hadn’t left them any Easter eggs of their own in the internet. Then she tucked a stray wisp of hair behind her ear, sipped her tea, and went back to her scrabble game: just another day’s work at Torchwood.