Chasing the latest Riftugee had proved to be a bit like something out of a cartoon. The creature was both faster and more manoeuvrable than a human, possibly due to the extra legs and its ability to run equally fast whether forwards, backwards, or sideways.
Owen, unable to stop when his quarry abruptly changed direction, had hit a fence and gone headfirst over it. Tosh and Gwen had run right into each other and gone down in a tangle of arms, legs, and net, from which they were still trying to extricate themselves.
Jack had hit a wall. Literally. With his head. Unsurprisingly, the wall had remained standing, which was more than could be said for Jack. It looked like their captain would be out of action for a while, since he was currently out cold.
Ianto wasn’t unscathed either, having been wrong-footed, resulting in an unscheduled swim in the Taff.
“Jack’s not the only one who’s hit a wall. We’re never going to catch the bloody thing,” Owen grumbled, walking over, rubbing his wrist, which he’d sprained doing that header over the fence. “Look at it! It’s laughing at us!”
Ianto eyed the creature, which had crept back and was looking at them with eyes on stalks. It was a bit like a furry crab, with two legs on each of its four sides and four eyes, one facing in each direction. It blinked its forward eye at Ianto.
“I hope you’re enjoying yourself!” Ianto shouted at it. It bounced gently on its legs, skittered away a few steps then came back. “You know, it’s almost like it wants to play,” he mused thoughtfully.
“Yeah? Well I’m sick and tired of playing. Can’t we just shoot it and go home?”
“Owen!” Ianto was shocked. “It’s not dangerous, just a long way from home. This isn’t Torchwood One, we don’t kill harmless creatures just because they’re a bit annoying.”
“So what d’you suggest, oh wise one?” Owen asked, pulling a face.
“If it wants to play, we’ll play!”
“Hang on a minute.” Dripping his way over to a nearby garden, Ianto picked up an abandoned ball and returned, bouncing it as he walked, then tossing it a few times against the wall Jack had run into for good measure. The creature watched intently, bouncing on its eight little feet. Bounce, rebound, catch. Bounce, rebound, catch. Over and over Ianto tossed the ball. The creature crept closer.
Just as Ianto tossed the ball at the wall again, Jack stirred and sat up groggily. Distracted, Ianto threw harder than he’d intended and as it hit the brickwork with a loud thwack, the ball ricocheted over his head, forcing him to duck, and went bouncing away down the street, the alien scampering along after it.
Owen snorted. “So much for your good idea, Teaboy!” he teased. “That’s the last we’ll see of either the alien or your ball.”
“Shut it, Harper. Jack? You okay?”
Jack felt his head gingerly. “Think so. My head’s still attached anyway. What happened to our friend? Did ya catch it?”
“Not yet. Still working on it.”
A skittering sound came from behind him and turning, Ianto found the alien staring up at him. It dropped the ball at his feet and looked at him hopefully.
“Want to play, little fella?” It bounced and waved its eyestalks. “Okay, here you go.” Ianto lobbed the ball and watched as the alien gave chase. Moments later, it was back, once again dropping the ball at Ianto’s feet. “You were saying, Owen?”
“Terrific. Now we’re stuck with a stray intergalactic puppy. Just what we need.”
“It is kind of cute,” Tosh said, finally disentangling herself and joining them as Gwen gathered up the net. “Can we keep it?”
Jack shook his head. “Somewhere out there it has an owner who probably misses it. We should get it back to them if we can.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
Ianto kept throwing the ball for the ‘puppy’ until it was tired of playing and flopped at his feet. “Looks like we can go home now,” he told the rest of the team as he picked it up and started back to where they’d left the SUV a couple of hours earlier.
“Job well done, kids!” Jack said cheerfully. “I wish every creature the Rift dropped on us was that easy to deal with.”
“You call that easy?” Owen shook his head. “When we get back to the Hub, I’d better take a look at you. I think you might’ve given yourself brain damage when you head-butted that wall.” He stalked off after Ianto and the girls, leaving Jack standing in the middle of the street, looking bewildered. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and followed. Twenty-first century humans clearly had no sense of fun.