Team Torchwood had spent most of the morning in the countryside beyond Cardiff city limits, locating and retrieving something that had fallen through the Rift. As was so often the case, they had no idea what it was, just that it was some sort of alien technology, so it was sitting on Tosh’s desk beside her computers, waiting to be studied as soon as the tech genius could find the time. There didn’t seem to be any rush as none of her preliminary scans had indicated any potential dangers. As alien tech went, it seemed quite innocuous. Of course, this was Torchwood, where appearances could often be deceptive.
Around about one in the afternoon, Ianto made his way up the hidden staircase to the tourist office, to wait for the team’s lunch order to arrive. It was delivered by one of the regular delivery girls, who grinned flirtatiously at Ianto as he paid before asking the million-dollar question.
“’Ere, Ianto, I just came down off the Plas; where d’you think all those sheep up there come from?”
“Sheep?” This was the first Ianto had heard about any sheep.
“Yeah, they’re all over the place up there, just wanderin’ around and eatin’ the council’s floral displays. I was a bit nervous ‘avin’ to walk past them. They’re a lot bigger than they look when you see them in the fields.”
“Sheep on the Plas; this I have to see.” Leaving the team’s lunch on the counter, Ianto followed the delivery girl back to the Plas, and sure enough there was indeed a flock of sheep wandering around up there, bleating and looking confused. “Must be some sort of publicity stunt,” he told her. “Or maybe they’re part of some advertising campaign.”
She laughed. “Probably. Cardiff’s always been a bit weird if you ask me. Well, I’d best be getting’ on or there’ll be complaints from people about not gettin’ their orders.” With a wave she headed off to her van and Ianto was just about to turn back towards Mermaid Quay when there was a popping sound nearby and another bemused sheep appeared.
Ianto winced in realisation. Oh dear; that could only mean one thing.
With a heavy sigh, he hustled back to the tourist office, snatched up the team’s lunch, and took the lift down.
“What kept you?” Jack asked as Ianto entered through the cog door.
“We have a problem. Sheep keep popping up on the Plas. Literally. I was just up there having a look and POP, there was another one.”
All eyes turned towards the piece of tech on Tosh’s desk. Suddenly it didn’t seem quite so innocuous. “So, teleportation device?” Jack asked dubiously.
“But wouldn’t the sheep be popping up in here if it was?” Gwen asked.
“Not necessarily,” said Tosh. “Maybe it can’t transport living creatures through solid matter so it’s just getting them as close as it can.”
Ianto looked thoughtful. “But if it is a teleportation device, then where are the sheep coming from, and how? I hate to say this, but maybe there’s another part to what we found and it’s still out there somewhere.”
Tosh nodded. “You could be on to something. Perhaps there’s a transmitter and a receiver, and we’ve got the receiver part while the transmitter part is still out in the field.”
“Makes sense,” Jack agreed. “Okay, kids; looks like lunch will have to wait until we’ve dealt with this. Gear up; it’s time for another field trip. We’d best take the receiver with us.” He reached for the tech on Tosh’s desk.
“No.” Ianto stopped him from picking it up. “Go get the other half and bring it back here; then you can take this one back to the field so we can send the sheep back where they belong.”
“But that means making two more trips when we can do it in one,” Jack objected.
“You’re forgetting something; you’d still have to bring the other half back and then collect this one from the field after the sheep have been transported,” Ianto pointed out, “but if you take this one with you now, while the other half is still in the field, you could wind up sharing the SUV with a bunch of bewildered and frightened sheep.”
Jack turned a bit pale; sheep were all very well in their place, but crammed into a moving SUV along with several people… He shuddered dramatically; that would be very bad. “Oh. Good point. I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Obviously,” Ianto smirked.
“Okay, so we’ll do what Ianto says; collect the other half, bring it back here, figure out how it works, then take this one back to the field. Ianto, you stay here and keep an eye on the sheep; try and count how many are out there and let us know whenever another one arrives.”
“Why do I have to be on sheep watch?”
“You’re Welsh, aren’t you?” Owen said.
“What’s that got to do with anything? I’m not a farmer, or a shepherd for that matter.”
“It has to be you because Gwen and Owen don’t know how to hack the city’s CCTV cameras. I need Tosh with me so she can study the transmitter device and figure out how to turn it off so we don’t accidentally transport ourselves back to the Plas without the SUV,” Jack explained.
“Right, of course.” Without another word, Ianto took Tosh’s place at her computers, called up the CCTV cameras on the Plas, and started counting sheep. “Ah, there’s another one!”
“How many does that make?”
“Hang on a sec…” Ianto did a quick head count. “I make it twenty-seven so far. No, make that twenty-eight, almost missed the one lurking behind the flowerbed.”
“Do sheep lurk?” Jack wondered as he led the rest of the team out to the SUV.
Back in the field they’d left several hours earlier, they tracked the other half of the device by watching the sheep until one popped out of existence and then making their way across to where it had been just before it vanished. The transmitter looked a lot like the thing they’d found that morning, and Tosh scanned it from a distance before approaching cautiously, keeping clear of the transportation beam it was generating. By the time she’d figured out how to turn it off, two more sheep had wandered into the beam and vanished. Ianto’s voice over the team’s earpieces reported each one’s arrival on the Plas.
With the device deactivated, the team headed back to Cardiff for stage two of Operation Sheep. This time, Gwen and Owen remained behind with Ianto and the transmitter while Tosh and Jack took the receiver back to the field, contacting their colleagues once they’d arrived and set the device in place.
The rest of the job was relatively simple. Ianto took the transmitter out on the Plas, pointing it carefully at each sheep in turn, and watching as they popped out of existence to reappear in their field. He had to be careful not to catch any other living beings in the beam; a few less pigeons on the Plas would be no great loss, although they’d probably find their way back, but accidentally teleporting the odd passer by into the country would only complicate matters.
Gwen and Owen helped him, a bit reluctantly, by herding the sheep in Ianto’s general direction until finally all that was left on the Plas were scattered sheep droppings and a few chewed flowerbeds.
“That’s all of them?” Jack asked over his Bluetooth.
“Unless any of them wandered off for a spot of sightseeing,” Ianto conformed. “I expect you’ll be wanting coffee when you get back.”
“You expect right. We’ll be back in a bit.”
Heading for the kitchen to get everything ready for coffee, Ianto noticed the team’s lunch still sitting where he’d left it on the coffee table and gave a resigned sigh. Typical Torchwood. Looked like they’d be eating cold pizza again.