There was a vicious monster loose in Cardiff. Actually, it was nothing of the sort, but humans tended to fear what they didn’t understand.
Because of the Rift, there was rarely a shortage of strange things for the locals to worry about, and thanks to popular science fiction movies, anything that looked sufficiently alien was automatically assumed to be some dreadful beast, dead set on invading the planet, performing disgusting scientific experiments on defenceless humans, eating children, or doing something equally dastardly.
As it happened, there were also genuine vicious monsters existing in the Welsh capital, but they were known as Weevils. For the most part they kept to the sewers where the majority of Cardiff’s citizens preferred not to venture, for reasons that had nothing to do with what lived down there among the rats.
If the truth were only known, the vicious monster currently causing a commotion among the good and not so good people of Cardiff wasn’t really a monster at all; he was as human as they were, more or less, he’d merely suffered an unfortunate accident thanks to an over-sensitive piece of alien tech that had fallen through the Rift. It wasn’t the first time an accident of that kind had occurred, but unfortunately, on this occasion nobody else had been present to witness the transformation, so everyone had got the wrong end of the stick.
Not that anyone could really be blamed for getting a bit panicky. As alien monsters went this one certainly looked impressively vicious, with his big, lumbering, muscular body, four powerful legs, a long, flexible tail tipped with wicked barbs, and a wide mouth with more teeth than the average shark. The long, curving horns on its head, the razor-sharp talons that graced its feet, and the deep-set beady red eyes didn’t help either, while the tough, leathery hide covered with sparse, bristly black fur was the proverbial icing on the demonic cake.
Fortunately, as reports started pouring in over the police station’s phonelines, Detective Inspector Kathy Swanson knew exactly what to do: pass the buck. She took out her personal phone and proceeded to call the experts.
The phone was answered on the third ring and a familiar voice spoke.
For a moment Kathy floundered; it wasn’t the voice she’d been expecting, the accent all Welsh vowels instead of an American drawl. “Ianto? Sorry, I thought Harkness would answer; you took me by surprise.”
“Ah, well he’s out at present I’m afraid, so you’ll have to make do with me. I’m on phone duty, sort of. Not that it rings all that often, but when it does it’s usually important. So, what can Torchwood do for you today?”
Straight down to business, that was one of the things Kathy liked best about Ianto Jones. That and his coffee. It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes as well.
“We’ve been getting reports of a vicious monster stalking the streets, last seen near the Millennium Stadium, heading towards Atlantic Wharf.”
“Weevil do you think?” By now Kathy had seen several Weevils so it was worth asking.
“Not from the descriptions I’ve been hearing, and not one of those Bozog things either, thankfully, although for all anyone knows it might be just as dangerous. Quadruped, horns, teeth, long, spiny tail; about the size of a large bull, maybe bigger. If it wasn’t for the tail I might think it was nothing more than some farmer’s escaped bull, but this is Cardiff, so…” Kathy trailed off, shrugging even though Ianto couldn’t see her.
“Say no more, we’ll check it out. Heading for Atlantic Wharf, you say?”
“Hold on, let me just check…” Kathy scanned the latest incident reports on her computer screen. “Okay, according to the most recent sighting it’s just turning off Saunders Road onto St. Mary Street near the railway lines. That’s not good; there’s a primary school not far from there. If it gets near the kids…”
“Call the school and tell them to keep everyone inside, just in case. We’re on our way.” Ianto hung up before Kathy could answer and headed out into to main Hub, dialling Jack’s mobile as he went. There was no answer. “Guys! That was Detective Swanson; there’s a monster on the loose and it’s not a Weevil. Gear up, check your weapons, and let’s go!”
“Oi, who put you in charge?” Owen griped.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “We don’t have time to argue about this, Owen. Lives could be in danger! Now are you coming or not?”
“Shouldn’t we wait for Jack?” Gwen asked.
“I already called him, but he didn’t pick up. I left a message on his phone; I’m sure he’ll join us as soon as he’s finished whatever he’s doing.”
“Or WHOever he’s doing,” Owen smirked, but he checked his gun and pocketed a couple of spare clips, then grabbed his medical bag in case anyone got hurt, tossing in some extra Retcon for good measure.
Gwen pulled her jacket on and followed Owen out to the garage, while Tosh collected her scanner and PDA, hurrying to the SUV, sliding into the backseat, and booting up the onboard computer as Ianto started the engine.
“Where are we headed?” she asked, tapping away at the keyboard, logging in to the CCTV network.
“St. Mary Street, near the railway lines.” The SUV’s engine roared as Ianto put his foot on the accelerator; moments later they were out of the underground car park and on their way, blue lights flashing. Ianto wasn’t a reckless driver, under normal circumstances he preferred to obey the speed limit, but he was perfectly capable of driving fast in an emergency, and the current situation seemed to merit a certain amount of haste.
When they arrived on scene a few minutes later the monster, big and powerful though it was, hadn’t got very far; its lumbering gait was slow, even ponderous, and it didn’t seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. Ianto parked near the Greek church and the team went the rest of the way on foot, intercepting their target at the roundabout at the end of St. Mary Street. Jack still wasn’t answering his phone.
“Typical,” Owen grumbled. “Just when we could use him, he’s conveniently unavailable.”
“Then we’ll just have to handle things ourselves, won’t we?” Ianto said calmly, drawing his weapon and jacking a bullet into the chamber.
“Bloody Hell!” Gwen exclaimed at her first sight of the creature. “That’s a monster alright! Look at those teeth! And the tail!”
“Don’t jump to conclusions,” Ianto said. “It’s an alien, not a funny looking human; it’s no use judging it on the way it looks. It might be considered very handsome where it comes from. Anyway, there’ve been no reports of it attacking anyone so far. Might just be a lost traveller.”
“It doesn’t have anything resembling hands, so it’s probably not a sentient being,” Tosh pointed out.
“Not all intelligent species have hands, or similar appendages,” Ianto reminded her.
“No, but most do.”
“That still doesn’t mean it’s hostile. Could be someone’s lost pet.”
“Don’t think I’d want to meet anyone who’d keep that as a pet,” Owen muttered.
The monster had stopped in the middle of the roundabout and was peering one way and then the other, as if it was trying to make up its mind which way to go.
“I don’t think it has very good eyesight,” Ianto murmured.
“Maybe that’s why it hasn’t attacked anyone yet,” said Owen. “Hasn’t spotted them.”
Ianto turned to Tosh. “Anything like it in the databases?”
Tosh flipped through a few entries on her PDA, photographs and sketches of the aliens that most closely resembled this creature, then shook her head. “No matches, sorry.”
“Jack might know what it is.” Pulling out his phone, Ianto dialled Jack’s number again then froze as Jack’s ringtone blared out ahead of them, a Glenn Miller classic, In The Mood. The sound, slightly muffled, seemed to be coming from the monster.
Gwen’s eyes went wide with horror. “Oh my God! It’s eaten Jack!”
“Great, now I suppose I’ll have to cut ‘im out from inside that thing.” Owen didn’t look enthusiastic about the prospect.
Ianto just sighed and holstered his gun. “Jack?” he bellowed across the road.
The monster’s head turned, ears perking up and swivelling in Ianto’s direction. It made a sound like a sad foghorn and lumbered out into the road. Thankfully, Kathy must have had her people set up roadblocks around the area because there was no traffic. It was hard to say what would have come off worst in a collision between a car and the monster formerly known as Jack Harkness. Ianto met him halfway and covered his ears to block out the worst of the foghorn bellow.
“Not so loud, if you don’t mind! I don’t want to wind up deaf!”
Jack gave a small hiccupping honk.
“Thank you. I gather this wasn’t intentional.”
The creature sagged. “Honk.”
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’. Any idea how you came to look like…” Ianto gestured at the bulky body. “This?”
Jack slowly and clumsily turned around, almost knocking Ianto off his feet with his tail. Embedded in his… rump was something spiky that looked decidedly alien.
Ianto winced. “Ouch! That doesn’t look comfy.”
“Honk,” Jack agreed mournfully.
“What did you do, sit on it?” Owen asked, joining Ianto to study the alien device.
“Knowing Jack, he probably wasn’t watching where he was going, tripped over his own feet and fell on it.”
That drew an indignant honk from Jack, who swung his head to glare blearily in Ianto’s general direction.
“Well it wouldn’t be the first time, would it? That’s how you switched bodies with a cow that time.” Ianto turned to Owen. “You don’t have anything in your bag of tricks to prise that out with, do you?”
“Got some forceps; they might work.” Owen dug through his bag and came up with the forceps, and a metal probe. Using both together he gradually coaxed the device out from where it was lodged.
The effect was quite dramatic; Jack’s whole bulky body shimmered, shrank to less than a quarter of its previous size, and with a loud “Oof,” Jack collapsed face down on the tarmac.
“Ow!” he mumbled.
Kneeling beside him, Ianto moved Jack’s coattails aside and checked his lover for damage; there was a rip in the seat of his pants and a nasty jagged wound where the device had been, but it was already healing.
“Better stay put for a few minutes,” Ianto advised. “Just while that heals.”
“I intend to. Oh, that was not a pleasant experience!”
“Which part, having an alien device jammed in your arse or being turned into a monster?”
“Take your pick! It was all a very literal pain in the ass. Whatever I turned into, I had really bad eyesight; everything was all blurry. I was trying to get back to the Hub, but I could hardly see where I was going, and every step hurt like crazy!”
Ianto winced, “I can only imagine. Well, at least you’re back to normal now. Come on,” he added, after checking Jack’s wound was mostly healed. “Up you get.” He helped Jack to his feet and dusted his coat off. “Could’ve been worse; we might’ve shot you by mistake.”
“It’s a good thing Ianto kept trying to phone you,” Tosh added. “Otherwise we might not have realised that creature was you.”
“Yeah, well just keep that… thing away from me.” Jack gestured at the spiky device Owen still had gripped in his forceps.
“That goes for all of us; it’s goin’ in a containment box as soon as we get back to the car,” Owen said, holding the piece of alien tech out at arm’s length and watching it warily. “I don’t fancy turning into a… whatever that was.”
“Right then, back to the Hub, shall we?” Ianto said brightly. He pulled out his phone. “Got to call Kathy, tell her she can let the traffic through again now the vicious monster’s gone.”
“Vicious? I wasn’t vicious!” Jack protested, pouting. “I thought I was perfectly well-behaved. I even looked both ways when crossing roads so I wouldn’t cause an accident.”
“You didn’t see yourself, Jack. Lots of alarmed people called the police; you looked so ferocious you got them all worried.”
“But I wouldn’t have hurt anyone!”
“I’m sure all vicious monsters say that.” Ianto started back across the road, phone to his ear, leaving Jack to trail disconsolately along behind him, muttering about how people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
“Kathy?” Ianto said into his phone. “Problem solved. Yes, we dealt with it; Jack just had a little… mishap, but he’s himself again now.”
“Oh Gods,” Jack groaned to himself. “I’m doomed! Detective Swanson’s never gonna let me forget this!”
Ianto smirked. “She’s not the only one.”