It’s not the first time they’ve had to do this; attempted invasion by hostile aliens is a semi-regular occurrence and one of the primary reasons for Torchwood’s existence. Most of their day-to-day work may involve rounding up rogue Weevils and dealing with the flotsam and jetsam that falls through the Rift, but they’re always prepared for the greater threat. They have to be, because unlike in the movies, alien invaders don’t generally give much advance notice. They prefer having the element of surprise on their side, which makes sense; they don’t want to make things any harder for themselves than they absolutely have to, although it’s not particularly convenient for the brave defenders of earth. Then again, why should invaders make things easy for them? From the aliens’ point of view it would be counterproductive.
London gets the brunt of the big attacks, although exactly why that should be is anybody’s guess. You’d think Washington, New York, or Moscow would be more logical targets. Maybe it’s because a small island makes for a good base from which to attack the rest of the world, but that’s just speculation on Ianto’s part. The Doctor usually shows up when London is in the firing line, and if not, UNIT is happy to take charge, but when Cardiff is the aliens’ main objective, the Torchwood team usually find themselves handling the situation on their own. It’s a good thing they’re up to the task.
This time though, it looks like they might be tested to their limits.
As invasions go, it’s a relatively small force of aliens, maybe twenty at the most. They come through the Rift, but unlike most of the beings that arrive in Cardiff by that route, it’s by design rather than by accident. They must have devices something like Jack’s vortex manipulator, possibly the shiny silver boxes attached to their belts. This group are probably only the advance force, sent to prepare the way for the rest of the army, and that’s bad news, because Torchwood is already outnumbered nearly three to one.
Then again, they have the advantage of being familiar with the territory. Jack says he hopes that will be enough, but just in case it’s not, he puts an SOS through to UNIT. It’s still going to be at least an hour or two before reinforcements arrive, however, and if the advance force manages to get a toe-hold long enough to open a more permanent portal between their planet and earth, humanity could really be in serious trouble. That needs to be prevented at all costs.
Worse news is that they know next to nothing about this species except that they’re big, strong, well armed, and definitely hostile. Luckily for Torchwood, the portal they came through dumped them on the far side of Queen Alexandra Dock, which isn’t all that far from the Hub and has the benefit of being fairly open with limited hiding places. If the invaders get to the transit sheds or the warehouses then dealing with them might be a bit trickier, but again, the team’s familiarity with the area should serve them well.
It ends up being a running battle, by necessity. Staying in one place for any length of time is just an invitation to be shot at. Everyone, including the enemy, is using every scrap of cover they can find, ducking and dodging among shipping crates and containers, and the machinery for loading them onto ships.
The team have another advantage, being smaller, more manoeuvrable, and more easily able to hide than the invaders, who are over seven and a half feet tall and built like bears, complete with shaggy fur all over their upper torsos, which are otherwise mostly bare. They have barrel chests ribbed with impressive muscles, and long, powerful arms. Getting hugged by one would mean certain death.
Their heads are bull-like, with short horns, but they have the teeth of carnivores, sharp fangs jutting from their upper jaws, clearly visible whenever they roar their threats. Muscular legs clad in leather breeches end in hairy calves and three-toed feet, with thick claws to match those on their hands, which are easily four times the size of human hands.
Their weapons are of a fairly standard projectile type, firing something similar to a smaller version of old-fashioned musket balls, either singly or in rapid succession. They wear bandoliers of spare cartridges criss-crossed over their chests, and have short but brutal-looking maces hanging at their hips.
The team have their Torchwood Specials, with plenty of spare ammunition, and Jack has his Webley. They also have grenades, both the explosive kind, which they’re keeping in reserve for now to avoid damaging the docks unnecessarily, and smokers, which they’ll deploy if they can lure some of the enemy into a more enclosed space. They have gasmasks, but their opponents don’t. Jack would have brought the Big Gun, but it’s not exactly portable so instead he’s issued everyone with alien laser pistols, just in case bullets prove ineffective.
The lasers have already come in handy; Tosh got into a good position and used hers to basically fry the device the invaders brought through the portal with them. She’d said it was likely to be a kind of portal generator, probably what would have been used, working with an identical one back on the aliens’ home world, to create a stable wormhole between the two planets which the rest of their army would have come through. It’s in two rather large and partly melted pieces now, which will hopefully prevent an influx of additional troops, at least for the time being. The aliens appear rather annoyed about that.
Lurking behind some crates, Ianto waits while Jack taunts the invaders, causing two of them to lumber after him. The team have already noticed the aliens don’t move all that fast because of their bulk; it takes them a good thirty metres to get up to their top speed, which is still less than half what a reasonably fit human can manage, giving the defenders yet another advantage. As the pair rumble past, firing at Jack, Ianto checks it’s safe before nipping out from cover and using his laser pistol to cut the legs out from under the opposition. Literally.
Looks like cleanup is going to be a long and unpleasant job. The lasers cauterise wounds, but he still has to deliver the coup de grace of a bullet through each of the downed aliens’ heads. The lasers have a limited charge and his is already down to two thirds; he can’t afford to waste what’s left. Then again, he has two of the aliens’ guns now, and cheerfully turns one of them on a third attacker. They’re nice weapons, and take off the top of a bullish head very efficiently. Ianto shrugs; he’s a bit off target, he’d been aiming at the creature’s chest, but the end result’s more or less the same. He can work on his aim some other time. He tosses one of the captured guns to Jack, who flashes him an exuberant smile. The adrenaline rush is getting to the whole team,
Owen has a different way of bringing the monsters down to his level. He found a handy length of two by two fence post near the timber depot, which is serving double duty; he just used it to trip one of the aliens who was after Tosh, before clobbering it over the head and finishing it off with its own gun. That’s four out of the picture.
Gwen gets two coming at her from opposite directions, aiming their weapons, and somehow manages to dive to the side at the last second so they shoot each other. They’re not quite dead at that point, but she and Tosh soon take care of that, and then they each have a new gun; they high five each other before taking off in opposite directions, seeking their next targets.
Six down, and by Ianto’s count, another fourteen to go. No, make that twelve. Mickey and Andy are double-teaming the invaders who, it turns out, don’t swim too well. They’ve taken out two and a third is floundering in Queen Alexandra Dock. Ianto makes a mental note to fish it out later if it doesn’t manage to get out under its own steam; for the moment it’s not a threat. He smiles as he sees Jack laser the head clean off his next opponent. That’s more effective than chopping their legs off and probably uses up less of the pistol’s charge. Maybe he should try that next time. Lasers do save on mess. Owen is going to have a field day with the autopsies.
Twenty minutes later, they’re down to just four invaders, plus the one still trying to get out of the water. Three of them make the fatal mistake of trying to protect themselves by ducking between some crates and the side of a warehouse, driven there by Jack and the girls. Ianto almost laughs aloud. They should have looked up; it’s like shooting fish in a barrel and from their prone position on the roof above, he, Andy, and Mickey use their lasers to finish them off, drilling neat holes through the tops of their skulls, while Owen stalks the final one with his fence post. Soon, only the one in the water is left alive. Or, well, maybe not so alive now. It’s floating face down on the surface, mostly because one of its bandoliers has snagged on something beneath the water. It weighs a ton and it takes the whole team pulling on ropes to get it ashore, where Tosh of all people delivers the shot to the head.
“Mercy killing,” she explains with a shrug. “If it wasn’t quite dead then it was probably suffering. They may have tried to invade earth, but that’s no reason to be unnecessarily callous.” She’s right of course.
Jack lets Owen choose a couple of the bodies for autopsy; he picks the drowned one, and one with an intact head, saying that’ll give him the beat overall view of their anatomy. The rest, along with their destroyed wormhole stabilizer, they pile up on the aliens’ arrival site. Tosh studies the devices on their belts, confirming they’re this species’ version of one-person vortex-hoppers, and sets them all to return to their previous coordinates. With any luck they’ll serve as a warning against future invasion attempts. The team stands well back and watches as a golden glow surrounds the pile and then vanishes, taking the would-be invaders with it. Turns out they didn’t need UNIT assistance after all, so Jack puts a call through to let them know the situation has been dealt with.
The general in command isn’t happy, but he’s somewhat mollified when Jack tells them he salvaged one of the aliens’ guns for UNIT’s boffins to study. What Jack doesn’t tell him is that Torchwood are adding the other nineteen guns, the ones that didn’t end up in the water, to their own armoury, along with all the spare cartridges. They won the fight, so the way Jack sees it they’re the ones who deserve the spoils of war. UNIT can have the waterlogged one; it should keep them busy for a while.
Owen’s dead aliens get shoved in the back of Mickey’s van; they’re heavy enough that it has to be a team effort. Ianto fetches the SUV and loads their other trophies into the boot to take back to the Hub. He’ll return in a bit with his cleaning supplies, and hopefully Mickey or Andy to assist him. Probably Andy; being the team’s expert on such things Ianto has no doubt that Mickey will be more interested in studying their newly acquired weapons. All things considered, it’s been a good day’s work, and it isn’t even six in the morning yet. A nap will be in order later, once the necessary post-invasion attempt work has been completed, if he can find the time. Stretching the kinks out of his back, he slams the SUV’s boot closed and gets behind the wheel. The sooner they all get started with the various tasks in front of them the sooner they’ll be done, so best to get on with it. There’s seldom any rest for Torchwood!