Days like these, Ianto couldn’t help but be glad that aliens were so alien. Cardiff was being invaded, yet again, but it was doubtful that any of the city’s residents had actually noticed anything untoward. Torchwood itself wouldn’t have known anything untoward was going on, if not for their various detection systems that helpfully alerted them to any such incursions, on the grounds that if aliens invaded, someone really ought to do something about it before they became a nuisance.
There were times when the invasion force was a serious threat, the Sycorax, Cybermen, and Daleks came immediately to mind, but more often than not, invasion attempts were altogether less organised, and not terribly well informed.
Earth was out of bounds, on orders of the Shadow Proclamation, so there wasn’t an awful lot of information on humanity’s home planet available to other races, and what did exist was not necessarily as accurate as it might be. Also, as with humans, aliens often mistakenly assumed that other races weren’t all that different from themselves.
Jack had drummed it into every member of the team that ascribing human motives and mores to aliens was a very bad idea. All races had their own culture and traditions, their own laws governing what was and was not acceptable behaviour, and their own ways of thinking; what seemed logical to an alien seldom bore any resemblance to human logic, and vice versa.
So here they were, being invaded by a race of aliens bent on taking earth’s precious resources for themselves. They’d already amassed a considerable haul, winning their booty in pitched battle with the local rat, stray cat, and fox populations, taking several of the planet’s ‘indigenous people’, namely three rats and a mangy tomcat, hostage in order to convince their fellows to surrender and hand over their riches. Needless to say, that part of their plan was proving ineffective, the cats and rats not caring in the slightest if some of their kind were being abducted for unknown reasons by creatures resembling slightly larger than usual land crabs.
The city dump wasn’t the most appealing place to spend the early hours of the morning, but Ianto supposed they should all just be thankful it wasn’t raining, or snowing, and that the recent gale force winds had dropped, leaving them with a relatively mild night for the time of year. They’d tracked the rat-sized invaders to their spaceship and Tosh had her translator programme running as the team confronted the enemy. Jack cut an imposing figure, standing there, feet firmly planted in God knows what, demanding to know what the aliens wanted.
For their part, the aliens appeared shocked to learn that the massively tall, bipedal monsters surrounding them were actually the dominant species on earth; they’d automatically assumed humans were at best slaves, or more likely herd animals and beasts of burden, controlled and utilised by the cats and rats, who they seemed to consider the two genders of one species. It was difficult for them to conceive of anything the size of a human as being intelligent. Not only that, but now they were terrified at the thought of having to return to their rulers empty-handed after promising to return bearing riches beyond their imagination. They needn’t have worried on that score, however.
“Seriously?” Owen was used to Jack’s outlandish stories and had learned to take what Torchwood Three’s Captain said with a grain of salt, but there was no evidence that he was teasing them this time. Still, it didn’t hurt to make certain. “You’re not just ‘aving us on?”
“See for yourself, Owen.” Jack gestured towards the invading force’s pile of stolen treasure.
“If that’s what they’re after, perhaps a trade agreement could be reached,” Ianto said calmly. “It’s not like we have any use for it. As long as they stick to raiding city dumps at night they’re welcome to take as much as they like, but what can they offer us in return?”
“Why don’t you ask them?” Jack beamed at his lover. “I’m sure you can handle the negotiations far better than the rest of us.”
“Very well, Sir.” Ianto settled onto a rock at the edge of the dump to discuss terms with the leader of the would-be invaders, and personally, by the time they’d hashed things out, he was quite certain earth had the best end of the deal.
“Right,” he said, approaching the rest of the team who’d retreated to the SUV. “Looks like Commander Schscheeesch and I have come to an agreement that’s acceptable to both parties; she and her people will take what they want from the city dumps of earth, and in return we’ll be paid fifty of these per shipload.” Ianto dropped a creamy pearl almost the size of a marble into Jack’s hand. “Apparently their whole planet is littered with them. Something to do with one of their native food animals, if you can call them that; some sort of shellfish anyway.”
Jack held the pearl up, gleaming softly in the moonlight. “Beautiful quality; should be worth a fair bit.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Ianto’s smile bordered on smugness.
“This job is nuts.” Owen shook his head.
Ianto shrugged. “One man’s, or in this case alien’s, trash is another’s treasure.”
“Pearls in exchange for polystyrene though? What do they even want with that crap?
“On a world that’s ninety-five percent water, what better building material can there be than something light enough to float?”
“I suppose. Well they’re welcome to it.”
“Excellent night’s work, people!” Jack smiled in satisfaction.
“Does make a change not getting shot at,” Owen agreed. “If only all alien invasions were this easy to deal with.”