Another Wednesday in Cardiff, and it was raining. Typical. Ianto pulled up in the supermarket car park and reached for the umbrella he kept handy under the passenger seat. Being a native, he knew only too well what to expect of the Welsh weather, and while it didn’t rain every day, it had a bad habit of doing so whenever he had errands to run. Today he needed to pick up the dry cleaning, collect a pair of Jack’s boots from the old-fashioned cobbler’s tucked down a side street, where they regularly went to be re-heeled, get a fresh supply of premium coffee beans, and do some other shopping. They were getting low on a few things at the Hub.
Sitting in the car, hoping the rain would ease off a bit if he waited a few more minutes, he ran through the shopping list in his head; lube, loo rolls, wet wipes, washing-up liquid, milk, bread, butter, eggs, bacon, cheese, yoghurts, fruit, biscuits, chocolate, green tea for Tosh…
He blinked at the car windscreen and the grass green droplet that was slithering slowly down it, leaving a meandering green streak behind. What the heck was that? A pink drop hit the car bonnet, followed by several in different shades of blue and purple. Staring out across the car park, he saw orange, yellow, red, white, magenta, vermilion, turquoise, emerald, copper, silver, and even beige raindrops, pattering down, making colourful puddles on the black tarmac, and turning the cars into abstract paintings. It was really rather pretty, or would have been if it wasn’t so bizarrely unnatural. Looked like his errands might have to wait.
Digging in his pocket, Ianto pulled out his phone and called Jack.
“Ianto, what’s up? Please tell me you’re not calling to say my coat isn’t ready.” Jack really hated being without his coat, but it did need a good thorough clean from time to time.
“I’m not, I haven’t even got to the dry cleaner’s yet. Have you ever heard of multicoloured rain?”
“Is that a trick question?” Jack asked suspiciously.
“No; I wish it was. I’m in the car park outside Asda, and the rain is… all the colours of the rainbow, and then some.”
“You’re telling me. It’s starting to freak people out, to say nothing of what it’s doing to the buildings, cars, trees… Everything looks like a paint factory exploded on it. I just saw a soggy turquoise and yellow pigeon with pink polka dots walk past.”
“Stay put, we’re on our way. ETA, five minutes,” Jack told him.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Ten minutes, Jack, there’s no reason to try and break the land speed record, especially with coloured rain being harder to see through than the regular kind. It leaves smears on the windscreen. I’d rather you all get here in one piece and preferably without playing skittles with the pedestrians. Our job is to protect people, not run them over.”
“Fine, I’ll keep within the speed limit,” Jack grumbled, knowing that Ianto would be able to tell if he didn’t.
“Okay, see you in a bit then.” Ianto hung up, sat back in his seat, and resumed watching the coloured rain as it made kaleidoscopic patterns on the car windows. Amazingly, although the different coloured drops swirled together on surfaces, they didn’t mix, retaining their colours rather than blending into a murky brown.
Jack pulled into the car park some twelve minutes later. Ianto had been right about the visibility problems and he’d been forced to drive much slower than usual. Finding Ianto’s car proved difficult too, because all the parked cars were splattered with so many different colours and shades that they blended into each other. It wasn’t until one flashed its headlights that Jack was able to home in, pulling the multicoloured SUV up beside Ianto’s almost unrecognisable Audi and rolling down his window as Ianto did the same.
“Owen’s back at the Hub, analysing samples,” Jack said by way of greeting. “As far as he’s able to tell, it’s ordinary rain, the drops are just refracting light in strange ways that shouldn’t even be possible. We need to find out what’s causing it before it gets any worse.”
“Right, I’d better leave my car here and go with you,” Ianto said. “Shove up a bit.” Jack obligingly pulled the SUV forward so Ianto could slip out of his car and into the back of the SUV with minimum exposure to the peculiar rain, but he was still left with bright spots of colour on his suit. He hoped they wouldn’t stain.
Tosh was already in the back seat, working busily at the onboard computers. “I’ve located the epicentre of the phenomenon,” she said as Ianto joined her, putting his umbrella on the seat beside him, knowing he might need it in a bit. “It’s the Jubilee Recreation Ground.”
“Then I’d imagine that’s where we need to be. Good work, Tosh.” Jack put the SUV in gear and headed back out onto Leckwith Road, turning right.
Jubilee Rec was a triangular expanse of grass, bordered by trees. Parking as close to one of the entrances as they could manage, the team climbed out of the SUV, put up umbrellas, and made their way through the gates, looking for the source of the bizarre phenomenon. It didn’t take them very long at all to locate the cause of the multicoloured rain; as they passed through the trees and out into the open, they immediately spotted the band of colourful aliens who were frolicking happily on the equally multicoloured grass. To be honest, it would’ve been difficult to miss them; they weren’t exactly inconspicuous, and the only reason no one else had spotted them yet was because the surrounding trees blocked them from view and the heavy rain meant nobody was using the park at present.
“Polychromites,” Jack sighed. “I should have guessed.”
The aliens were about seven feet tall, slender and delicate, barefoot, and dressed in gauzy, calf-length gowns that drifted around them like gossamer despite the rain. They looked like nothing so much as mythical nymphs, naiads or dryads perhaps, except they came in a wide range of rainbow colours, their skin and hair contrasting artfully. Their beauty and elegance as they danced in the rain were mesmerising. Jack had seen their kind before, and although he was as captivated by the sight as the rest of the team were, he wasted no time in leaving the shelter of Ianto’s big umbrella and marching up to them, getting streaked with colour in the process. Hands on hips, he stared up at the Polychromites’ leader and demanded they stop what they were doing.
“But why? This place is so dull and grey,” she complained. “We’re just trying to make it look pretty.”
“The people who live here don’t want it to look like this,” Jack said firmly. “They liked it just the way it was before, with everything the colour it’s supposed to be.”
It took him over an hour, but Jack eventually managed to persuade the Polychromites to return the rain to normal, before sending them on their way.
“It’s sort of a shame,” said Gwen as the world around them resumed its normal coloration. “It really was pretty.”
“It was also dangerous,” Jack replied. “People need to be able to see where they’re going.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Gwen agreed with a sigh.
“Besides,” Ianto added, “Can you imagine chasing multicoloured Weevils?”
Even Jack shuddered at that thought!