Spoilers: "End of Days", plus minor spoilers for Doctor Who "The Last of the Time Lords" and Sarah Jane Adventures "Invasion of the Bane".
Rating: PG, if that.
Word Count: 1,152
Notes: Thanks to darthfox for everything from pimping Sarah Jane Adventures to telling me whose POV the story was from, and to fairestcat for further checking-over.
Summary: Zombies armed with bottles of orange pop attack Cardiff, and Our Heroes spring into action!
Attack of the Orange Pop Zombies
They'd been back from Tibet long enough for showers and square meals and everyone's ears to finally readjust to normal air pressure--but not long enough to actually relax--when Gwen sat bolt upright, tugged a monitor screen around, and said, "Oh, hell."
Tosh looked to Owen even as she was jumping up to go stand behind Gwen and see what she was looking at. Owen made an abortive gesture--one hand to a weapon that wasn't at his belt, the other to his face to check a mask he wasn't wearing--and shot Tosh a wry smile when he realized she'd seen. He met her behind Gwen, who was staring at CCTV footage of...
"Zombies," Ianto said, and there was a hint of disappointment in his voice, along with the confusion.
Tosh elbowed Owen before he could even start; Ianto was just the least little bit more obvious than the rest of them about still hoping every odd thing that popped up was Jack returning. They didn't need the boys getting into another fistfight over that right now. Not when they had a sudden zombie crisis to deal with.
"They have something in their hands," Gwen said, leaning closer to the screen. Tosh rolled her eyes and reached past Gwen to actually zoom the image.
"Bottles of ... orange pop?" Tosh said, squinting and trying to zoom and pan at the same time. Their movement was just a little too erratic to zero in on easily. "Their mouths are moving, but--"
Gwen ducked and slipped out of the desk chair and out of her way. Tosh sat down to fiddle with the video feeds, looking for anything near an audio pickup.
"We're going to need a sample of whatever that is," Gwen said. "Don't try to capture or confront them yet, just--"
"On it," Ianto said, and Tosh glanced up at the sound of rapidly retreating footsteps.
"Owen," Gwen said, "You're going to have to analyze that stuff--"
"And put Ianto back together after he gets himself mauled half to death by one of those things," Owen huffed.
"They're people," Gwen snapped, and Tosh looked up again to see Owen give her a dismissive, yes, yes, of course wave on his way back to the medical bay.
Gwen's hand landed on Tosh's shoulder. "Can you see how widespread this is? Just Cardiff, or--"
"That's Bubbleshock," Tosh realized, having finally got a good clear color image along with a droned, "Drink it."
"Bubbleshock?" Owen could, apparently, still pick up on a source of outrage at twenty meters. "That piss-tasting organic stuff is turning people into zombies? Of bloody course it is. Why do people think organic means healthy? Especially when it's got some magical ingredient you've never heard of? Bale, or Bunk, or whatever it's called. Deadly nightshade is organic as long as it's raised without chemical fertilizers or pesticides--"
"I'd really like to meet the person who raises deadly nightshade with chemical fertilizers and pesticides," Tosh murmured, because it had occurred to her after the last time Owen went off on this particular tangent as one of the few remarks that might deflect him from it.
Sure enough, he stopped dead a moment, and then said, "Presumably not over dinner and drinks, Tosh."
The tone of Owen's voice suggested that he could see that, all too easily, as Tosh's last great dating disaster. She ducked her head, willing herself not to react, and focused on finding a way to search for ongoing zombie activity worldwide.
"Bubbleshock, all right," Gwen repeated. Tosh could hear her dialing her phone--dialing the police, Tosh would bet; she could just about recognize Andy's number by the click of the keys. "This is Gwen Cooper--"
Tosh pulled up the corporate website for Bubbleshock, as it turned out that the Torchwood computer systems had a search for zombies subroutine that hit all the key characteristics. London was worst affected, with millions of zombies in the streets, and of course Bubbleshock was headquartered in London...
The lift activated and Tosh stood, craning her neck, as Gwen walked over.
"That was easy!" Ianto called down, waving an orange bottle. "All they want is for you to drink some of it, they're trying to give it away."
Tosh's fingers went still on the keys, and in her peripheral vision she saw Owen jog out to join Gwen as they all stared, speechless, at Ianto.
He frowned at them, then heaved an enormous sigh. "I didn't."
For a few seconds there was no sound but the lift's hydraulics lowering Ianto closer to them, and then Gwen said, "Are you sure you didn't?"
Ianto snapped, "Yes," and tossed the bottle down even as Owen, reaching to catch it, said, "Look, and he's remembered to tie his own shoes, too."
Gwen shot Owen a positively filthy glare, but said only, "The Hub is below sea level, Owen, so we're all fully oxygenated, thank you."
Tosh bit her lip. It really hadn't been funny at all, the way Gwen had protested that she was not in the mood as Owen tried desperately to get her out of her parka enough for a shot of steroids to counteract the altitude sickness. In retrospect, however, it got funnier every time.
Owen rolled his eyes and headed to the lab with the bottle of pop. Ianto, impatient with the lift, dropped to dangle from the edge and jumped the rest of the way down, pausing to brush himself off before turning toward Tosh to say, "D'you need a hand with anything?"
Gwen went back to trying to find any non-zombie police officers to help with crisis response as Ianto joined Tosh at the terminal. "See here, it's worldwide, with major activity in all the Bubbleshock test markets, so clearly--"
"Yes, obvious correlation," Ianto murmured, reaching for a keyboard, and then stopped short.
On the CCTV monitor, all the zombies stopped walking at once, looking around. A few dropped the bottles of pop; the rest, predictably, uncapped their bottles and took a sip.
"What--" Gwen said sharply, and Tosh called out, "Owen, come and see--"
They all gathered around the monitor and watched in silence as the former zombies shook themselves off and went about their business again.
"They just... stopped," Gwen said after a moment.
Ianto reached past Tosh and tapped a few keys, but the search routine was finding no results in the last two minutes for zombie activity. "Worldwide. They're all fine."
"Right," Gwen said after a moment, as they all stood and watched the zombie crisis evaporate. "Who's for never speaking of this again?"
"Seconded," Ianto said immediately.
Owen took a sip from the bottle of Bubbleshock and muttered, "Still tastes like piss," as he wandered off.
"Right," Tosh said, tugging her keyboard into place and entering the deletion commands. "Cleaning up the logs now."