“Okay, kids, brainstorming session! Gather round!”
“Brainstorming session? What’s that about?” Owen didn’t move from the rock he was sitting on.
“It’s when we all gather together and hash out potential courses of action,” Ianto explained patiently.
“I know that; I’m not an idiot! I just don’t know why Jack thinks we should stop for a brainstorming session right in the middle of trying to catch an alien. Shouldn’t we get after it before it gets away?”
“You mean before it gets away AGAIN, don’t you, Owen?” Tosh asked sweetly.
“Hey, it’s not my fault it escaped; that one’s on Gwen! I would’ve had it if she’d kept up!”
“Hey, don’t blame me!” Gwen snapped. “You’ve got no idea how hard it is to run across rough ground in these boots!”
“If you can’t run in them, you shouldn’t be wearing them for work,” Jack told her. “But that’s beside the point right now; we’ve got an alien to catch and it’s laughing at us!”
“You said it’s an animal, not a sentient species,” Ianto reminded his lover. “I hardly think it’s giggling behind its… paws at our repeated failure to round up all one of it.”
“Perhaps not, but I wouldn’t blame it if it was. This isn’t one of our finer moments. We’re supposed to be a team, working smoothly and efficiently together, but right now we don’t seem to be doing too well at that. It’s running circles around us. We need some new ideas; the ones we’ve got aren’t working.”
“You noticed that did you?” Having caught his breath, Owen finally stood up and dusted himself down. He’d winded himself when he’d fallen flat on his face during the team’s last attempt to catch the wily little critter that had arrived through the Rift a couple of hours earlier.
Ignoring Owen, Jack paced back and forth in front of his tired and dishevelled team, hands clasped behind him. “Are you all thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That would depend a lot on what it is you think we might be thinking,” Ianto quipped.
Jack frowned at his lover, not appreciating the attempt at levity. “Chasing it obviously isn’t working. It’s faster and more manoeuvrable than we are.”
“Hardly surprising. It’s got considerably more legs than the average human. Six pairs, to be precise.”
Tosh turned to look at Ianto. “Six? I thought there were five.”
Ianto shook his head. “Definitely six. Not easy to count them with the speed it goes, I’ll admit, but there are two pairs to each of the three body segments, then there’s the head on the front with the fronds, whatever they are.”
“Sense organs probably,” Owen said. “Maybe a form of antennae in place of ears, to detect movement by picking up sound vibrations.”
“We can speculate on that later, once we’ve caught it. There’s only a couple hours of daylight left,” Jack reminded his team.
“Right. So if chasing it’s out, what does that leave us with?” Ianto perched on the rock Owen had recently vacated, removing one shoe and shaking a small stone out if it.
Gwen raised her hand. “We could set a trap! We’ve got some of those humane ones back at the Hub. All we’d have to do is bring one out here, put some bait in it, wait for the alien to go in, and we’d have it!”
“Oh yeah?” Owen sneered. “And exactly what would you suggest we bait it with? This is a species none of us knows anything about. We’ve got no idea what it eats, or what would attract it.”
“At least I’m trying to come up with ideas!” Gwen glared at Torchwood’s medic. “That’s more than you’re doing!”
“Shut up, both of you!” Jack yelled. “Fighting won’t get us anywhere.”
“Trapping it might still be a possibility,” Ianto mused. “Not with any kind of bait, but we already know our little friend runs away when we approach it, so if we could drive it into some kind of trap…”
“No good,” said Owen. “Look at where we are; there’s nowhere we could conceal a trap.”
“But there’s a pedestrian underpass a quarter of a mile that way.” Ianto pointed. “We could block the far end with a net, drive the alien towards it, then block this end once it’s inside. It should prove easier to capture in a more confined space.”
“Now that idea could work!” Jack flashed a smile Ianto’s way. “Only thing is, do we have any nets big enough?”
“We have some back at the Hub that should do the job. We wouldn’t have the block the underpass floor to ceiling, just to a height of a few feet. Judging from how short its legs are, and the shape of its paws, I doubt it can climb, and even if it can, the tile walls won’t give it anything to grip onto.”
“Okay, good. You take the SUV and fetch the nets while the rest of us track the fugitive.”
“No,” said Tosh suddenly.
“What?” Jack turned to the team’s tech expert, who’d kept quiet throughout the discussion, head bent over one of her devices.
“I mean yes, that might work, but I want to try something else first. If this works, it’ll be much quicker and easier than setting a trap.”
“What’s your idea?”
“Well, first we need to locate the alien. Ideally, I’ll need to get within fifty metres of it.”
“It’s approximately three hundred metres that way.” Ianto pointed to his right and held up his scanner. “I’ve been tracking it.” Torchwood’s scanners were calibrated to lock on to concentrations of Rift energy. Anything that fell through the Rift was always drenched in it, and therefore relatively easy to track until it dissipated.
“Perfect. Wait here.” PDA in hand, Tosh set off in the direction Ianto had indicated, stopping some distance from them. “You might want to turn off your earpieces and cover your ears,” she murmured over comms.
Even with those precautions, the high-pitched sound that followed set their teeth on edge. It stopped as abruptly as it started, and when they joined Tosh, she was kneeling beside the unconscious alien.
“I overloaded its sound receptors,” she explained as Owen knelt to examine the creature. “I just had to find the right frequency.”
Jack grinned. “Well done! Always said you’re a genius.”