The fun thing about Rift alerts was that even when you knew for a fact that something alive had come through you still rarely knew exactly what it was. Weevils had a distinctive signature that was easy for Tosh to interpret, and the same was true for Hoix, mostly because they were the two most common arrivals, bur everything else… It was a big universe crammed with life forms, both sentient and not; Torchwood had so far only encountered a very small percentage of what was out there. Every new arrival added to their knowledge but it was still just a drop in an unimaginably vast ocean.
Jack and Ianto had been in the middle of a date when the alert had come through on Jack’s wrist strap. On the plus side they’d at least finished eating this time and hadn’t been forced to abandon their meals, which made a change. In fact they’d been heading back to their car since it was bitterly cold out, definitely not the kind of weather for romantic moonlit strolls. Frost was already forming on the ground, and coating parked vehicles with a silvery sheen, very pretty to look at, as long as you were well wrapped up.
They had been when they’d gone to investigate the alert. They’d found the new arrival easily enough, chasing it across a patch of wasteland near the train station; a large lizard that might have passed for one of the smaller dinosaur species except for having six legs. It was maybe two and a half metres in length, short-legged, and sea green in colour with a scarlet crest running from the top of its head right the way to the tip of its tail. Oh, and it spat a stream of very powerful acid when it felt threatened. It would have been nice if they’d known that in advance.
As it was, the jet of corrosive liquid had sprayed across both of them at about chest height, and immediately began to eat through their clothes. There’d only been one thing to do: strip, as fast as possible.
That had not been fun, trying to unfasten acid-soaked buttons that were melting, but not fast enough to make for easy clothing removal. They needed to get everything off before the acid reached their skin, but it was impossible to do that without getting the stuff all over their hands. Naturally that wasn’t too much of a problem for Jack with his accelerated healing, but Ianto’s hands were blistering badly before he could even get his shirt off.
Jack, being a master at high-speed stripping, was naked in under two minutes, and immediately helped Ianto finish disrobing. Now here they stood, stark naked and shivering uncontrollably, watching their scattered clothes dissolve until only the zippers and belt buckles remained.
“Now what?” Ianto asked through chattering teeth.
Jack watched as a police car approached. Just when he’d thought their date couldn’t get any worse.
“Now we get arrested,” he said gloomily.