“I don’t know what you’re worried about. It’s just a cloud. What does it matter if we get a bit wet?” Ianto was used to clouds; being Welsh, he’d seen a lot of them in his lifetime, so the one he could see in the distance, hovering low on the horizon, didn’t bother him, although the same couldn’t be said for Jack.
“You still have a lot to learn,” Jack told him in an ominous tone. “You’re not on Earth anymore, and out here, clouds don’t always mean rain.”
“They don’t on Earth either,” Ianto pointed out. “Some are full of snow, or hail, and even rain clouds don’t guarantee rain.”
“And sometimes, clouds don’t have anything to do with water. We need to find shelter; that’s a sandstorm and it’s moving in fast.” If there was one thing Jack knew intimately it was how devastating sandstorms could be. Boeshane, his homeworld, was a desert planet, so while Ianto might be the expert on rain, Jack knew sand in all its moods.
Ianto glanced towards the horizon. Jack was right; even in those few moments the cloud seemed to have doubled in size, reaching up into the sky like a gigantic wave. A hot, dry wind tugged at their clothes, picking up the sand around them in little eddies, forerunners of what was to come.
“Okay, I see that. So, shelter you say?”
“This way.” Instead of moving away from the approaching sandstorm, Jack cut across its path, heading towards a massive outcropping of rocks about a half-mile away, that being the only shelter within sight. The village they’d been staying at while trading for fresh food was several miles away, nestled in a valley among the foothills of a mountain range at the edge of the desert. They’d set out that morning in search of one of their host’s pakka, herd animals similar to goats, which had wandered off on its own.
By the time they reached the rocks they were struggling against the wind, clinging to each other to stay on their feet, but once in the lee of the outcropping the wind dropped considerably. They scrambled over and among boulders until they found a narrow crevice leading into a natural cave. It opened up inside and Ianto was surprised to see it was furnished with sleeping pallets, lanterns, stores of dried food in sealed containers, and several shovels.
“Storm shelter,” Jack explained. “I figured there’d be one among the rocks; it’s common sense. We should be fine here until the storm blows out. There’s even fresh running water.” He pointed towards a small spring at the back of the cave, not much more than a trickle of water running into a shallow stone basin, then flowing away through a crack in the wall. “Quite cosy, isn’t it?” He had to speak up to be heard over the howling winds.
Ianto agreed. Holed up in a cave during a sandstorm; procuring provisions was turning into quite an adventure!