Zoe was running. She didn’t know where she was, what she was running from, or even why she running. All she knew was that she was, and that Dan and Beth were right behind her. The deepest feeling of dread filled their stomachs, they were scared, so scared, but why? What of? Of who? So many questions, too little time.
Beth glanced behind her shoulder, and the feeling of dread amplified. She turned back around, and it lessened slightly. The trio ran as fast they could, desperately searching for an escape route, a safe haven, anything.
“Who is that woman?” Sarah Jane asked Sentinel, who was still occupying her phone screen. Melody cowered on the sofa, her hands wrapped around her legs as she curled into the foetal position. Whoever the sinister woman was, she was the key to all this.
“Oh, don’t bother with your primitive scans, you’re never going to find out who I am,” the woman sneered. “I’ll keep this simple, old woman. The child. Hand her over to us and you will never feel our blight.”
“No,” Sarah Jane uttered defiantly without a moment’s hesitation. She may have acted rashly, but this was an abusive woman demanding custody of a girl unwilling to return. There was no chance she would let that woman anywhere near her.
“I can assure that you that you are putting yourself at great risk,” the woman vowed harshly.
“I can assure you that I can most certainly handle it,” Sarah Jane retorted coolly. “Look, I don’t care who you are, you are not getting the child and that’s final!”
“Sarah Jane Smith, you really don’t know what you’re dealing with,” the woman growled. “But you will learn the consequences of your actions, mark my words.”
Sarah Jane bit her lip as the transmission blinked out on her television screen. She may have just poked the hornet’s nest and put herself in unnecessary danger, but when she laid her eyes on the little girl, Sarah Jane knew it was worth it.
“Who’s she calling primitive?!” Sentinel piped up. Sarah Jane rolled her eyes. Melody was shuddering violently on the sofa, unshed tears threatening to spill from her eyes.
“It’s alright,” Sarah Jane soothed gently. “She’s gone now.”
“Don’t make me go back,” Melody begged. “Please don’t make me go back.”
“I won’t, I promise,” Sarah Jane assured the girl, gripping her shoulders gently. “I’m going to help you Melody, but I need you to be brave. Can you do that?” Melody nodded slowly and Sarah Jane grinned charmingly. “Good.”
“Sarah Jane,” Sentinel cried out in alarm. “I am detecting traces of residual energy.”
“Possibly, there is nothing similar registered in my data banks.”
Sarah Jane’s posture straightened, and her face developed a cool exterior, for she had been through this song and dance for most of her life, and after so many losses throughout her life, she wasn’t about to let an innocent girl return to a clearly abusive fate without a fight. She twirled around to face the TV screen.
There was work to do.
The ground coalesced and pushed upwards like two destructive plates crashing together to form a fold mountain. Three people, two girls and a boy, clambered out, covered in dirt. One of the girls had her phone in her hands and they were all panting heavily, as if they had run a thousand miles. These children were the teenagers Zoe, Beth and Dan.
“Anyone else remember what just happened?” Zoe asked as she peered into the rapidly closing hole.
“I know we were running,” Dan muttered, dusting himself off.
“Yeah, but running from what?” Zoe snapped, “Cause I don’t just run randomly for fun.”
“Well, yeah you do. You do a lot of things for fun,” Dan pointed out. “Like write silly stories.”
“Silly stories?” Zoe repeated incredulously, glaring at him. “My stories are great!”
“I could do better,” Dan retorted.
“Meanwhile,” Beth interrupted the pair’s bickering. “Has anyone else noticed it’s getting dark now? We’ve missed the rest of the school day.”
“Oh no, that’s horrible!” Dan cried out sarcastically.
“Well, seeing as we have nothing else to do, want to come over to my house?” she asked her two friends. They nodded and the trio set off together.
“Idon’t have enough to go by to give you the answer you need, Sarah Jane,” Sentinel replied regretfully. Sarah Jane sighed in frustration. “Don’t you sass me!”
“What’s that?” Melody’s voice caught her attention and Sarah Jane turned to see her looking out the window curiously. Sarah Jane joined her and noticed the blue van.
“Oh, just some new neighbours moving in.” She explained to Melody.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Melody chirped in awe. Sarah Jane observed her awestruck expression and pondered on what else that woman had kept from the small girl as she grew up, apart from the identity of her own parents.
She sighed, and turned back to Sentinel.
“Keep scanning.” She ordered, picking up her keys and jacket.
“I’m not a miracle worker,” Sentinel grumbled.
“Are you going somewhere?” Melody asked curiously as Sarah Jane pulled her jacket on and fixed her hair.
“No, we are going to take a walk around the village,” Sarah Jane beamed, throwing her keys into the air and catching them. “Come on!”
Melody looked at her surroundings in awe as they walked away from Fifty-Three Diamond Way, her new home, and towards the larger road, Fox Plaza. Sarah Jane studied her expressions, trying to gauge just what that woman had done to this little girl.
“I’ve never been outside in the morning before,” Melody gasped, bringing Sarah Jane crashing back to reality. “It’s beautiful!”
“Well, yes, it is,” Sarah Jane nodded, having forgotten the intricacies of the world over time, which was ironic considering she was tasked with protecting it. She noted the way the birds flew from the ground, the way the slight breeze rustled the trees and the joyous laughs and squeals of children as they ran and played together.
The voice made Sarah Jane jump. She looked around for a second before pulling out her phone, the swirling kaleidoscope of colours indicated Sentinel was currently occupying her device.
“What is it, Sentinel?” she asked, expecting something serious and cataclysmic to occur. She looked at Melody worriedly.
“Well, one, you really need a new car,” He responded dryly, causing Sarah Jane to scowl at his wit. “And I’ve detected massive amounts of activity near your area.”
“Is that Siri again?” Melody asked, trotting back to Sarah Jane. The woman was surveying her surroundings with eagle eyes, trying to comb out any discrepancies, but coming up empty. A frown marred her face.
“Sentinel, I don’t see anything,” she looked down at the curious girl. “Do you see anything unnatural, Melody?”
Melody looked up at her quizzically before spinning on the spot. Silence filled the empty space for several seconds before the little girl looked up at her and shrugged. Sarah Jane pursed her lips and looked around in thought. She noticed three teenagers running down the path eagerly.
“It’s them!” Sentinel exclaimed suddenly, startling both Sarah Jane and Melody. “They’ve got the energy around them!”
“Aliens?” Sarah Jane guessed.
“No, human!” Sentinel replied. Sarah Jane’s eyes widened and her mind whizzed at the new possibility. The three may have just encountered aliens, that must have been the cause for the energy. She stepped in front of them, blocking their path.
“Hello!” Sarah Jane smiled. She meant to sound polite, but from the looks the girl was giving her, it was clear she had sounded rude instead. She cleared her throat awkwardly.
“Can we help you?” the girl asked her. She was clearly ready to get home from school. For the first time, Sarah Jane noticed the dirt on their school uniforms and faces. Without thinking, she flicked her watch open and scanned the pair. “What’s that?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Sarah Jane replied, eyes glued to her watch screen. The results confirmed her suspicions.
“What exactly do you remember?” Sarah Jane asked, pouring tea into a cup. The three teenagers she had bumped into had been suspicious of her, but she had eventually managed to convince them to return to her house. It probably wasn’t the best of ideas, but with seemingly invisible assailants around her, she had to be on guard.
They didn’t want to eat or drink anything, or rather, the boy reached out to take a biscuit but the eldest looking girl slapped his hand away. She was suspicious, it was clear in her facial expressions. Suspicion was good, it showed that she was willing to accept the possibility that she was not who Sarah Jane claimed she was. The other girl was cynical too, they all were, but the eldest had a piercing look in her eye that was strangely familiar. She just couldn’t place it.
“I don’t remember,” Beth admitted. She was suspicious, of course she was, but this woman who claimed she was a journalist had a pretty elaborate setting to be anyone else. Plus, she had a kid with her, which was why she ignored Dan’s speculations that she could be a serial killer. What harm could one middle aged lady do anyway? “It was all a blur.”
Sarah Jane nodded slightly, noting how the girl appeared to be telling her the truth. Silence filled the air as Sarah Jane thought about her next question. They had been sitting in her living room for quite a while. The three teenagers refused to cooperate at the beginning and when they finally did, they limited their answers to as many words as necessary to be coherent.
“Look, we’ve been sitting in your living room for the past hour,” The eldest girl snapped. Sarah Jane turned to meet her piercing gaze. “We don’t remember anything. We just know that we ran. Can we go now?”
“Zoe…” Dan said warningly. Zoe shot him a glare before facing the woman again, keeping her face as steely and impassive as she could muster.
“What’s your name?” Sarah Jane asked the girl. Zoe bit her the inside of her cheek.
“Zoe. Zoe Smith.”
Sarah Jane’s lips twitched upwards momentarily before they dropped again.
“Well, Zoe, I don’t think you quite understand what happened to you down there,” Sarah Jane replied bitterly. She didn’t mean to, but, honestly, it’d been a long day and Sarah Jane had another lost girl to look after. Her life never stopped. It was an endless cycle of adrenaline and running and peace and newspaper articles.
“Bit harsh,” Sentinel proclaimed, appearing on the television screen. The three new teenager jumped at the voice, gaping at the television screen. “Aren’t you supposed to tell kids they could be anything they want to be? Tell her she’ll make a fine detective or something!”
“Author, actually,” Zoe squawked before she realised what she was doing. “I want to be an author when I grow up. I look at people like a book, a plot. It’s just what I do.”
“You’re talking to a TV,” Dan hissed. Zoe’s cheeks coloured slightly in embarrassment.
“I didn’t call you,” Sarah Jane pointed out, rising from her chair and glaring at the television accusingly.
“I decide when I come out, thank you,” Sentinel grumbled. “I just thought I’d say hello to the children.”
“We’re not children,” Zoe, Beth and Dan said automatically.
“Whatever,” Sentinel scoffed, from Zoe’s phone, which he transferred to. Zoe jumped and thrust her phone across the room. “Now that’s not very nice.” Sentinel responded after transferring to the open laptop on the table facing the three teenagers.
“What are you?” Zoe asked in awe.
“It’s Siri!” Melody replied happily, trotting away from the door and joining them. The teenagers looked at her in confusion They shared a similar look of confusion before Dan decided to bite the bullet.
“Oops,” Sarah Jane frowned, remembering Siri wasn’t due for release until next month. “Too early.”
“So, what are you?” Beth asked curiously, leaning towards the monitor.
“I am Sentinel,” Sentinel introduced himself despite Sarah Jane’s protests. “Who are you three?”
“You’re just a machine!” Dan protested, even as he looked at the machine in awe.
“Well, some could argue Bill Gates is a machine,” Sentinel replied dryly. “But that’s never stopped him from anything. I don’t appreciate prejudice, thank you very much.”
Dan leaned back, chastised. Zoe moved to occupy his previous space in front of the laptop screen, grinning in excitement.
“What race are you?” She asked excitedly, barely able to contain her giddiness. “Martian?”
“I can assure that I am not from Mars, they are far more brutish,” Sentinel scoffed and, if he weren’t actually a swirling kaleidoscope of colours, one could assume that he would have rolled his eyes at Zoe’s audacity. “I’m not an alien. I’m a stream of artificial intelligence with a wealthy reservoir of information compiled and stored in my data banks. A gift, if you call it. You may refer to me as Sentinel.”
“And that is all you’re getting out of him,” Sarah Jane snapped, moving to close the laptop lid. The kids slunk back in their seats, glaring at the woman.
“Now that’s not nice,” Sentinel chuckled as he transferred to Sarah Jane’s phone. Sarah Jane sighed in exasperation as the children snickered at her misfortune.
“He’s funny,” Melody giggled, grinning from ear to ear.
“Yes, well, I have all I need, you three can go home now,” Sarah Jane said.
“What?!” Dan protested, “Just like that?”
“This isn’t your fight!” Sarah Jane snapped, “My life is dangerous. I don’t need kids getting in my way, not after last time.”
“What’s that mean?” Beth asked. Sarah Jane glared at her.
“Nothing,” Sarah Jane sighed. She didn’t need to get sentimental, not again. It had already cost her a daughter. “Go, now. And don’t tell the police about this. They’ll only get in my way. Now go.”
Zoe met her gaze unflinchingly but, after a momentary lapse of silence, she conceded and pulled her two friends out the room. Sarah Jane listened to the sound of the door slamming and turned down to the cowering Melody.
“Are we going to the field they told us about?” She asked quietly. Sarah Jane nodded in confirmation.
“We have to if we want to find out what that woman wants, and I can’t leave you by yourself,” Sarah Jane explained.
“I don’t want to go back,” Melody whispered sadly. Sarah Jane’s lips curled up into a gentle smile and she bent down so she was eye level with the girl. She placed both hands on her shoulders. Once upon a time, she would have flailed awkwardly in attempting to soothe a little girl, but she had five years of practise since then.
“Melody, listen to me,” Sarah Jane said gently, coaxing Melody to look up at her with wide, watery brown eyes. “I made you a promise, didn’t I?” Melody nodded slowly and Sarah Jane gave her a warm grin. “I intend to keep that promise. Trust me, okay?”
A small smile crept up to Melody’s lips and she nodded slowly.
“Right,” Sarah Jane nodded and stood up, extending her hand for Melody to take. The girl took her hand with a smile. “Come along, we have a meeting to attend.”
“We can’t just let her go there by herself!” Beth protested as the trio walked up the hill just beyond Sarah Jane’s house and opposite the path to the nature reserve. “Who knows what will happen to her!”
“Yeah, and she has a girl with her!” Dan chimed in as Zoe continued her one woman assault up the hill. “She didn’t even look that much older than us! How could you of all people let that go, Zoe? Zoe!”
Zoe ignored them, pushing some branches out of her way and stopping for them to catch up. Dan caught up first, opening his mouth to continue when he realised where they were. He grinned at her as Beth joined them, also noticing their surroundings.
“No way,” Beth breathed in shock. “How…?”
“Shortcut to the school,” Zoe beamed. “I know my way around the village.”
“But we never take it,” Dan pointed out as he walked through the hedges and hopped into the school playground.
“Obviously, do you want to be early to school all the time?” Zoe scoffed as she and Beth jumped down and joined their male friend. After a quick dusting down, she navigated through the bombardment of litter encompassing the playground, eagerly awaiting to get to her destination.
The spot the teenagers had found wasn’t that far from her house, so Sarah Jane and Melody were able to cover the distance easily. They reached the field quickly to find a pair of armed men. Her grip on Melody’s hand tightened.
“Miss Smith,” a guard drawled, pulling his arms away from the guards with ease. “You are right on time.” . “Oh, I never like to keep company waiting,” Sarah Jane replied snidely, pulling Melody behind her as the guards raised their guns.
“Down the ladder, old woman,” One of the guards ordered gruffly, gesturing towards the metal ladder leading underground. Sarah Jane spared him a curt disapproving glance as Melody clambered down first. She soon followed and found herself in a less than hospitable environment. The area was air-tight and there was dim lighting, something Sarah Jane noted.
“Into the looking glass,” She muttered. Melody shot her a curious look.
“What does that mean?” The girl asked. Sarah Jane was about to respond when a guard climbed down and pointed the barrel of the gun at her shoulder, threatening her to move. Sarah Jane pursed her lips and obeyed, gesturing for Melody to follow her. The girl trotted uncertainly beside her.
The corridor was long.and the air supply seemed to decrease as they continued their trek. Melody stumbled slightly beside her but managed to continue walking. They eventually walked into an open cave of sorts. Sarah Jane quickly scanned her surroundings. The walls were metal, there was a console of sorts in the middle and tubes littered the sides.
Her eyes fixed on the screen in front of her as it flickered to life and the woman’s face came to life, staring coldly at her. . “Miss Smith,” The woman enunciated. “I see you retain a minimum amount of sense after all.”
“Well, I never judge a book by its cover,” Sarah Jane replied effortlessly before tilting her head to the side slightly, studying and analysing the woman. “Who are you?”
“Need to know basis,” the woman snarled. Sarah Jane raised a humourless eyebrow.
Zoe, Beth and Dan made their way to where Sarah Jane had found them. Peering over a bush, they found no one else was around.
“So, no guards,” Dan said.
“Yeah, thanks for stating the obvious,” Zoe said sarcastically. She looked around. “Where are they?”
“Yeah, before that, small point,” Beth chimed. “Last thing I remember, we didn’t find ourselves in a weird underground cavern.”
“And does anyone else feel like they’ve forgotten something?” Dan added,
“Really? A little girl could need our help, could you two focus?!” Zoe snapped. The pair nodded, lapsing into silence. They peered over the shrub again, waiting for the opportunity to help.
“Why do you want the child?” Sarah Jane asked after a period of silence. The guards had since moved from the door and were examining the strange tubes.
“She is a weapon,” Kovarian stated. That caught Sarah Jane’s attention. She looked down at the cowering Melody and then back at the screen.
“A weapon?” she repeated incredulously, anger laced in her tone, Two girls who were born as weapons in the span of two years had found their way to her. “Whatever for?”
“She is special. She serves the role of a catalyst to prevent something that is far beyond your ability of comprehension,” Kovarian droned, her face stony and impassive. “The child, Miss Smith. Give her to us.”
Sarah Jane had enough. She bristled in rage at how this woman could so calmly manipulate a child into serving her for purposes that she would otherwise have no role in. Her thoughts drifted to Mrs Wormwood and Miss Myers and her rage intensified.
“Look, I don’t care who you are or what your intentions are. You are not getting a child and she is not a weapon,” Sarah Jane hissed defiantly.
“Is that so?” Kovarian pursed her lips, the hint of fury evident in her darkened, predatory eyes. Sarah Jane scoffed, producing her sonic lipstick.
“This meeting is over,” And with that, she unleashed the sonic device and watched as the lights and television screen burst and exploded around her. Melody shrivelled and clung to her side in fear and the two guards leapt in shock.
“Come on!” Sarah Jane didn’t waste any time as smoke filled the room and the tubes started to open. She had no idea what was in them and she didn’t intend to find out. Grabbing Melody’s hand, Sarah Jane pulled her with her as she turned and ran through the open entrance.
Bullets rained around the cave but Sarah Jane didn’t look back. Adrenaline pumped in her veins and spots started to blind her vision from the lack of air but she continued running.
One step, two steps, one step, two steps. The same pattern in rapid succession.
Sarah Jane briefly thought about how running was just a routine before the bullets snapped her out of her stupor and she was running faster.
The sound of something shattering caught Zoe’s attention. Sharing a worried look with her two friends, they jumped out from behind the bush and ran towards the hole, peering into the hole. The sound of footsteps echoed across the walls, reaching their ears.
“There they are!” Beth gasped, pointing at Sarah Jane and Melody. Dan lay flat on his belly, holding out his hand when the pair reached the exit. The hole was too big for Melody to scale.
“Grab my hand!” Dan exclaimed. Zoe got the message and mimicked him. Melody grabbed their hands without question.
Sarah Jane made sure Melody had a firm grip on Zoe and Dan’s hands before she grabbed onto the hand Beth offered her. She climbed up the slippery rock surface, hurriedly coaxing Melody as the sound of thundering footsteps reverberated off the walls.
Having come prepared, Sarah Jane retracted one of her hands and fished out a spherical ball from her pocket and threw it to the ground, producing her sonic lipstick and pointing at it. She unleashed the device and watched as the guards fell to the ground in a heap. The strain of Beth having to support Sarah Jane’s full weight was a struggle for the young girl, and she required the help of Zoe, who assisted in pulling Sarah Jane out of the hole as soon as Melody was safe. Together, they pulled Sarah Jane out of the hole as it closed.
Once the adrenaline had left her veins, Sarah Jane noticed the three teenagers and Melody all staring at her. She sighed in defeat.
“I suppose I have some explaining to do.”
“So...this is what you do?” Dan asked, breaking the silence. The group had returned to Sarah Jane’s living room, munching on the pizza that had been ordered and listened to a recount of Sarah Jane’s story. Melody was upstairs trying out some clothes that Beth and Zoe had collected for her to borrow. “This is your life?”
“Fighting aliens?” Beth added.
“And helping those who need help, because you were taught by the Doctor,” Zoe surmised in conclusion. The three sat in thought, digesting the new information and Sarah Jane sat patiently, watching them, studying them.
She knew that she was right not doubting telling these three the truth. They had disobeyed her orders and came to help her and Melody. She was glad they did. She didn’t know what would have happened if they hadn’t been there.
“Why are you telling us this?” Zoe asked and Sarah Jane sighed. It was true that they did help her today, and she had told them the truth but that didn’t mean she wanted them to be embroiled in her life the way others had been.
“Because my life is dangerous, and I want you to stay out of it from now on,” She explained, They opened their mouths to protest but Sarah Jane shot them down with a stony stare. “I mean it. I do not rebuke the fact that you helped me today. It’s the reason I’m telling you this but that is enough. I’m not putting your lives at risk any more than I have done already.”
Melody chose that moment to burst into the living room. Her long hair didn’t look as ratty anymore and she looked absolutely resplendent in the jeans and T-shirt that Zoe had leant her. Melody herself was overwhelmed, grinning from ear to ear. She had never worn anything so nice before. They were extremely comfortable and she was grateful.
“Oh, you look wonderful!” Sarah Jane beamed, coaxing a shy smile from the girl. The three teens also shot her words of encouragement and Melody’s smile morphed into a giggle. There was a steady rap at the front door.
“I’ll get it!” Melody cried out, darting out of the room before Sarah Jane could protest. Despite being locked away and isolated for her whole life, Melody was eager to learn about everything she had missed. Sarah Jane chuckled, turning to look at the three teenagers eating the pizza before following Melody out the door.
“So, what do we do?” Beth asked, glancing at Dan. They both turned to the surprised Zoe.
“Why do I have to answer all the difficult questions?” Zoe grumbled, biting into her pizza with a huff. Dan and Beth rolled their eyes at her antics.
“I have an idea that could help your decision,” Sentinel’s eerily human-robotic voice filled the air and Zoe looked down to see he had decided to occupy her phone. She narrowed her eyes at him.
“Do you do that a lot?” She demanded.
“Of course I do, who wouldn’t?” Sentinel asked as if it was obvious, “Anyway, make your way upstairs.”
“I have a feeling that what you see will help with your decision,” With that, the strange glow disappeared from Zoe’s phone.
She shared a look with her two friends, making a silent unanimous decision. They pushed themselves off the couch and snuck out of the living room, noticing Sarah Jane embroiled in a conversation with some woman. Carefully, they tiptoed up the stairs to avoid detection and found themselves on the second storey. There were four doors and Zoe and Dan poked their head through each of them while Beth pulled on the string and a set of steps leading to an attic revealed themselves.
“Let’s try here,” Beth called out as she walked up the steps, almost stumbling in shock at what she saw. Dan and Zoe quickly joined her before they suddenly grinded to a halt and gaped at their surroundings.
Gita Chandra admired her handiwork. A lot of time and effort had gone into it and she was proud. She stepped back and beamed as Haresh Chandra entered the living room and nearly tripped over himself in shock.
“Gita, what on Earth are you doing?!” He exclaimed as he noticed all the furniture had been completely rearranged. “I spent hours fixing that!”
“Calm down Haresh!” Gita barely spared him a glance, exhaling a deep breath and clapping her hands together. “Oh, it looks perfect! Like a gentle breeze had passed through the living room!”
“A tornado, more like.” Haresh muttered under his breath., already plotting to move everything back. “What would Rani say if she was here.”
“Oh, she’s off travelling the world!” Gita waved her hand dismissively. “Besides, this, my darling, is a fresh start!”
“It certainly is that.”
“Exactly!” Gita cheered as she picked up some flowers. “Now, I’m popping over to the new neighbours to give these as a peace offering. It could be my first business in Foxgrove.”
“Gita, we just moved here!” Haresh tried but Gita was already out the door, squealing to herself in excitement. After a quick check of the roads, Gita trotted over to the opposite house on Manor Road, rapping on the door assuredly. She patiently waited for a second before knocking again. Gita repeated the same motion until a little girl opened the door and stared at her curiously.
“Hello, my darling!” Gita beamed, fiddling with the flowers.
Melody tilted her head, examining the exuberant woman with curious eyes.
“Who are you?”
“I’m your new neighbour, Gita Chandra!” Gita introduced herself with a cheerful grin, shoving the flowers in the girl’s hands before thinking better of it and grabbed them again. “Is your mother home?”
“I don’t have a mother.” The girl said so calmly that it was kind of unnerving but Gita could see the pain warring behind her darkened eyes.
“Is your carer home?” Gita asked, quickly changing tactics. A woman soon appeared by the girl’s side and an astonished Gita regarded her for a second. “Hi, Sarah!”
Sarah Jane herself was very surprised. Out of all the people she expected to see at her door, it wasn’t her old neighbour from when she lived on Bannerman Road.
“Gita!” Sarah Jane gasped, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, you see, my darling, after you blew up Bannerman Road,” Sarah Jane winced at the woman’s cheery tone. “We moved around a lot. Haresh wanted to move to Plymouth- Plymouth- Sarah! I told him exactly that and set him straight and I thought this was a nice area and it would be peaceful now with Rani away and-”
After that, Gita’s speech just devolved into an incoherent mess of streamlined gibberish that Sarah Jane struggled to keep up with, opting to nod and smile at appropriate intervals. Eventually, Gita was summoned back to her new house and Sarah Jane shut the door, shaking her head to clear it.
“She was weird,” Melody stated casually, looking up at Sarah Jane.
“Well, that’s Gita Chandra for you,” Sarah Jane chuckled. She poked her head into the living room and frowned when she could not locate the three teenagers. Sarah Jane turned around just in time to see Melody skip up the steps. “Melody! Wait for me!”
Sarah Jane hopped up the stairs in pursuit of the little girl and found her standing at the foot, staring at the steps that led up to the attic. The steps weren’t supposed to be visible.
The kids were up there.
“No!” Sarah Jane exclaimed, running through the hallway and bounding up the steps, glaring at the teenagers who were currently touching all her alien equipment accusingly. “Hands off! Who said you could be in here?”
“This place is amazing,” Beth beamed happily. Dan nodded his head in agreement and Sarah Jane’s stiff posture deflated and she let out a tired sigh.
“Just don’t damage anything,” She warned as she took a seat on the bed beside the wall. She spotted Sentinel having taken up housing on the new computer. “I’ve lost enough equipment as it is.”
“What are all of these?” Zoe asked, eyeing the objects in wonder. She pointed at an object with glee. “Is that from Neptune?”
“The city?” Dan asked. Zoe rolled her eyes.
“No, the planet!” She hissed.
“Neptune’s not even a city!” Beth pointed out.
“Yeah it is, the fallen one,” Dan retorted.
“That’s Atlantis!” Beth’s hands flew into the air in exasperation. “What kind of place would have a city called Neptune? America?”
“No, it’s from Venezuela,” Sarah Jane sighed fondly. Clyde had asked her the same question, more or less.”I’ve told you. My life is dangerous. I won’t let you be a part of it.”
“But you don’t really have a choice,” Dan pointed out.
“You’ve told us about this Doctor,” Beth pointed out. “If he left you as his legacy, maybe we can be yours.”
Melody frowned at the comment but dismissed it quickly.
Sarah Jane sighed. This was how Maria had pushed into her life, all those years ago. Did she want to relive it? Did she want a new group of children in her way? She was lonely but she didn’t care to admit it to them. What she was about to say was absolutely selfish, it was mostly for her desires only, not the trio’s, but she did it anyway.
“If you’re absolutely certain.”
“We are,” Zoe nodded vehemently. Sarah Jane nodded solemnly, pushing herself off the seat and facing the three curious teenagers. A wave of curiosity was bubbling behind their eyes.
“Well then, I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow,” Sarah Jane said confidently. The three grinned and walked up the steps, saying their goodbyes to Melody before hopping down the steps. Sarah Jane laughed to herself slightly before turning back to the meek Melody. She smiled warmly and bent down to be eye level with the girl.
“What’s going to happen to me?” Melody asked in a small voice.
“Well, you’re going to need a place to stay, aren’t you?” Sarah Jane smiled. “Would you like to stay with me? Sentinel can easily set up the documents.”
“Can I?” Melody perked up a little bit, looking far less like the skittish girl she had met a day ago.
“Of course,” Sarah Jane nodded with a grin. Melody smiled and nodded happily. Sarah Jane nodded in return and stood to her full height.
“Come on,” she gestured, holding out her hand for the girl to take. “You must be starving and there’s still pizza downstairs!”
Melody smiled and took Sarah Jane’s hand. The woman led her down the steps, asking her what she thought of a haircut.
Melody asked her what a haircut was.
“I’m home!” Beth cried out. She didn’t receive a reply. Of course she didn’t. Sighing, she walked into the living room and found Mr Nibbles on the sofa. She smiled softly. Laurel must have brought him home for her before she went shopping. Beth plopped herself down on the sofa and stroked her pet's soft silver fur. “Hello, Mr Nibbles, would you like to hear about my day today?”
Zoe walked up the path that led to her mother’s grave, a fresh track of tears spilling down her face. She smiled sadly as she sat down at the base, paying her respects.
“Hi mum, I hope you and Ariel are doing okay. Me and Finn and Dad are okay, and Uncle Eric and Bloom visit every day, they moved next door. Cousin Bloom’s gotten so big since you last saw her, and yes, I know nobody adds 'Uncle' or 'Cousin' when talking about family,” she chuckled, and then took a deep breath. “I met someone today. Her name’s Sarah Jane Smith and she’s amazing…”
“Okay, bye mum, love you,” Dan smiled, exiting the phone call. It was strange having activist parents, they were hardly around most of the time but he always knew they would be there for him.
“Look at you, nerd boy,” Chris sneered as he padded into the kitchen. He pulled a cupboard open and fished out a packet of crisp. “I saw the way you were eyeing that guy at break today. You’re disgusting.”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about!” Dan complained.
“Nah, course you don’t,” Chris chuckled, pinching Dan as he walked past. “You can't have one or the other. You and your friends are so lame."
Melody padded up to Sarah Jane in the dead of night that day. She gently nudged her until she was awake.
"Sarah Jane?" she whispered. Sarah Jane rustled, turning towards her with sleepy eyes.
"Yes, Melody?" she asked softly.
"I can't sleep," Melody admitted sheepishly. She looked at the woman hopefully. "Can you tell me a story?"
Sarah Jane smiled tiredly, moving further along the bed and patting the vacated space she made. Melody gingerly clambered into the bed, looking at the older woman expectantly. Sarah Jane smiled and began reciting a story she knew by heart.
"Thirteen Bannerman Road is where Sarah Jane Smith lives..."
“They reacted positively,” a scientist confirmed. Madame Kovarian didn’t know what his name was, nor did she care. All she wanted to know was the result of her experiment, and she had received it. A satisfied smile graced her lips.
“You have done well,” Kovarian complimented.
“Ma’am, if I may ask, what of the girl?”
“Oh, don’t you worry your pretty little head,” Kovarian grinned sadistically. “Miss Smith will get what’s coming to her, Melody Pond will soon be in our grasp. Silence will fall.”