Written by Zoe Lance Adapted from a story by Gareth Roberts and Clayton Hickman
Humanity often revelled in the deeply-rooted psychological fear that their computers would develop sentience and overthrow them, and that the concept of humanity, thought and free will would conflict with their chuntering, mechanical, logical thought processes.
But what would happen if a computer accepted humanity and rebelled against the concept they were built for? Mr Smith was a Xylok, a crystalline based life-form embedded into an advanced computer system in a chimney. In essence, he was a computer system, and computer systems worked in fixed cycles. Chuntering away in an organised and efficient manner until they were run-down and broken.
Mr Smith never felt this way, however. He didn’t feel this way ever since his reboot, and he certainly didn’t feel like he was old and rusty while working with Sarah Jane on a case one dreary day while Clyde, Rani and Sky gossiped about the latest drama at school.
“My scan is complete, Sarah Jane.” Mr Smith informed her. “All seems to be as it is meant to be.”
Sarah Jane nodded with a smile. Mr Smith couldn’t place any additional information to the smile. He was built for facts, not imagination - though he did have his moments. Simple, cold, hard facts. Everything was a routine.
They all left soon enough to turn in for the night, Sarah Jane being the last to leave. She bid him a goodnight, flicked off the light and closed the door as she left. Mr Smith slowly began to retreat into slumber for another night. It was just routine.
Until it wasn’t.
It was a quiet day on Bannerman Road. The crisp, chilly autumn air was biting and the group decided to spend their day in the attic. By the attic door, Sky Smith stood patiently while Rani Chandra stood over her, measuring the younger girl’s height with a metre ruler and a marker. Clyde Langer was splitting his time between watching the girls and sketching in his drawing pad while investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith sat working by the computer, flicking through documents and filed paperwork.
“I don’t believe it,” Rani spluttered incredulously as she pulled the stick from Sky’s side and stood at her full height. “You’ve grown- again- in a week! What’s Sarah Jane feeding you?”
“I like to eat my greens.” Sky giggled proudly, bouncing on the balls of her feet. Sarah Jane smiled softly at that.
“Something I could never do.” Clyde proclaimed as he high-fived Sky.
“Er, yeah, like that’s anything to be proud of!” Rani snorted, giving Clyde a light shove.
“Oi!” Clyde whined, rubbing his shoulder. “Watch it or I’ll bite your knee.”
The three basked in laughter while Sarah Jane typed away on the computer.
“If I may interrupt, Rani,” Mr Smith’s monotone voice rang out, drawing attention. “I find it highly illogical to use such...standard methods for measuring Sky’s height when my scanning equipment is functional and ready to use.”
“Oh. it’s nothing personal, Mr Smith!” Rani assured the supercomputer. “This is just how mum used to do measure my height.”
Sarah Jane chuckled at the brief exchange. “It has sentimental value, Mr Smith.” she added. “She’s fond of the method.”
“I’m afraid I do not understand.” Mr Smith decided. Sky trotted up the steps to where Sarah Jane sat, peering over her shoulder to look at her work.
“What are you working on?” Sky asked curiously.
“Collecting information for a case.” Sarah Jane explained, leaning back and crossing her arms. “A corporate billionaire wrapped up in business he should not be involved in.”
“Have you got any proof?” Rani asked worriedly, approaching them and eyeing the spreadsheet with concern.
“No.” Sarah Jane admitted.
“How do you know he’s guilty then?” Clyde asked curiously, alternating his gaze between Sarah Jane and the computer screen.
“Call it intuition. Liam Drake is exactly type of person to be involved in business he shouldn’t be involved in.”
“Why do you need proof?” Sky asked innocently. Sarah Jane smiled warmly at her. Sky was still so new to the world. She still had so much to learn.
“I can’t just go and accuse him, Sky.” Sarah Jane explained. “It could get me into trouble.”
Sky considered this before nodding slowly, showing she understood. Her eyes drifted towards the image of a different man printed on a sheet of paper. “Who’s he?”
“Noah, the Pride and Joy of Foxgrove village.” Clyde recited, earning strange looks from his friends. “What? I read...sometimes.”
“Shocker!” Rani drawled, pinching his cheek playfully.
“He’s always talking about resurrecting the old ways.” Sarah Jane mused. “I’ve been trying to get an interview.”
“Why?” Sky asked.
“Intuition,” Sarah Jane smiled warmly. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Foxgrove - new or old.”
“Alert, alert!” Mr Smith cried out, alarms blaring. A warning sign flashed on the screen, disrupting any further conversation that may have stemmed.
Before anybody could react, an object crashed through the stained window. The object was spherical and dirty. Ominous looking spikes covered it- almost like it was a shield. It hovered in the air for several seconds before moving in the blink of an eye and attaching itself to Mr Smith’s keyboard.
“Mr Smith, what is that?” Sarah Jane asked, jumping out of her seat. The three teenagers gaped at the scene, confused.
“Alert! High levels of mutagenic energy detected!” Mr Smith blared as the sphere opened and a stream of multicoloured liquid poured out of the object and into the chassis of the supercomputer. “You must all evacuate immediately.”
“Come on, move!” Sarah Jane demanded. The first to snap out of her stupor, she reached over and grabbed Sky by her arm, dragging her out of the door and into the corridor to the covers of safety, quickly followed by Clyde and Rani. When they were all safe, Sarah Jane slammed the attic door shut.
Mere seconds later, a bright white flash of light erupted from the other side of the door, then there was silence. Cautiously, Sarah Jane pushed the attic door open and took a tentative step forward, closely followed by Clyde, Rani and Sky. Everything appeared intact, so Sarah Jane turned to her young compatriots.
“Is everybody okay?”
Rani and Sky nodded their heads in affirmation, but Clyde was staring at something. Sarah Jane followed his gaze and noticed a strange man standing in front of a charred Mr Smith, smiling delightedly at them.
The man was dressed in a pinstriped grey suit, a handkerchief in his top pocket and an umbrella over his left arm. He was also wearing a bowler hat.
“Hullo!” the man waved.
“Who are you?” Sarah Jane demanded, keeping her distance. The man sighed dramatically, rolling his eyes at her.
“Oh Sarah Jane, really. I should have thought that was perfectly obvious.” the man doffed his bowler hat, smiling broadly and flailing his arms dramatically. “I’m Mr Smith!”
A derisive laugh escaped Rani’s lips. Sarah Jane took no chances and opened her wristwatch scanner, scanning the new arrival.
“Is he armed?” Sky asked worriedly.
“No weapons.” Sarah Jane confirmed.
“Unless you count the brolly.” the suited man agreed.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary about him,” Sarah Jane decided at last when her watch stopped bleeping. “He’s a normal human being.”
“Oh dear, that makes me sound so terribly dull.” He frowned. “Scan again! Scan for excitement!”
“Stay where you are!” Clyde shouted, snatching up an alien looking gun and pointing it at the mysterious man. “I mean it!”
The supercomputer sparked again, vying for everyone’s attention.
“Is Mr Smith okay?” Rani asked worriedly. Sarah Jane diverted her scanning device and scanned the wall unit.
“Fine, Rani, thanks for asking.” the man replied from his corner.
“Shut it!” Clyde hissed.
“No, that’s impossible.” Sarah Jane whispered, flying over to the storage unit where the Xylok crystal was housed. The door was slightly ajar and when Sarah Jane opened it, she found it empty. The Xylok crystal had been destroyed. She stood up, shocked. “Mr Smith is dead!”
“If by ‘dead’, you mean stood right here in a rather natty ensemble then break out the black crepe!” the man quipped. “The sphere is harmless, by the way, since I know that’s what you’re all wondering about. It’s empty. I’ve absorbed all of the mutagenic energy. Oh, and Clyde?”
“What?” Clyde barked.
“Could you find something more threatening than a Trantarian nose clipper to threaten me with?” the man asked, unimpressed.
“You know all our names.” Sky realised.
“Of course I do!” the man exclaimed. “Sarah Jane Smith, Sky Smith, Clyde Langer and Rani Chandra! I also know Clyde is a week behind on his essay on Picasso-”
“Hey!” Clyde exclaimed.
“Oh, don’t be so selfish. Shouldn’t you be helping Rani? She’s on her seventeenth driving lesson, she could use all the help she can get!”
“Oi!” Rani gasped, offended.
“Well, if you’re that huffy about it, how about we talk about how Sky has grown three inches in a fortnight, or about how Sarah Jane devoured an entire packet of custard creams last night while she was researching for an article on solar energy?”
Sarah Jane blushed when three pairs of teenage eyes landed on her.
“I was hungry.” she muttered lamely.
“Did you know she once had tea with the Queen and stopped an oil rig spillage at the same time?”
“Excuse me-” Sarah Jane started to protest.
“Hush, dear,” Smithy raised a hand, silencing her.
“What? You met the Queen?” Clyde asked in surprise. “And you never told us?!”
“Well, it’s not exactly something people would speak of freely, is it?” Sarah Jane hissed. She always did that. Keeping her more luxurious endeavours a secret. The last thing she needed was Gita Chandra running around spreading the news across the neighbourhood.
“No, this is a trick.” Clyde decided, dismissing the man’s knowledge.
“No, thisis a trick!” the man declared, producing an ace of hearts card from Clyde’s ear. Clyde recoiled in shock. “How many times do I have to say it? I’m Mr Smith! The mutagen energy transformed me from my default Xylok crystalline form to that of a human being, flesh and blood.”
“This is weird.” Rani decided.
“You’re telling me,” Mr Smith remarked. “We Xylok look down our crystalline lattices at organic life. You know, I always thought being human would be disgusting.”
“Although…” the bowler-clad gent trailed off as he started to jog in place, to the confusion of the four other people present in the room. “I think I quite like it!”
“What do we call you?” Sky asked the man.
“Call me?” Mr Smith inquired as he sniffed a flower in the vase, plucking it up and placing it in his buttonhole. “Hmm...I don’t know. What do you suggest?”
“How about Smithy?”
“Smithy?” the man pondered. “Smithy...Smithy, Smithy, Smithy. Yes, I quite like Smithy. Good job, kid!”
“Do you remember much?” Rani asked curiously.
“No.” Smithy said mournfully. “You humans have such tiny brains. I can’t fit all of my knowledge in here! It’s ghastly!”
“That sphere...” Sarah Jane frowned, staring at it. “I don’t think this was any accident. It’s deliberate. Someone wanted Mr Smith to become human.”
Clyde and Rani set about cleaning up the broken glass shards while Sarah Jane concluded her phone call to UNIT. Sky kept Smithy company in the meantime. A couple of minutes later, Sarah Jane walked back into the attic.
“What did UNIT say?” Rani asked.
“There’s been no activity from any of the other buried Xylok crystals.” Sarah Jane replied.
“Can you sense anything, Mr Smith?” Rani inquired, instinctively turning to the chimney breast.
“Smithy. Over here.” The three turned to see Smithy lounging on the chair, biting into an apple Sky had given him. “Unless you’re expecting an answer from Father Christmas, I wouldn’t bother.” he paused, his eyes wide. “Oh goodness, I can make jokes now! That is much better than facts!”
“Well,” Clyde turned with a smirk, “In any case Rani, you-”
“Might as well be talking to a brick wall!” Smithy exclaimed. “Ha! Beat you to the punchline!”
Clyde scowled as Smithy tossed the apple aside and grabbed a banana Sky passed over.
“Aren’t you going to unpeel that?” Sky asked curiously.
“Why?” Smithy scoffed before biting in the unpeeled banana. “It’s tastier this way.”
“You’re dressed all old fashioned.” Sky pointed out, eyeing his clothes.
“If it’s any consolation, dear, I don’t know why I’m dressed like this.” Smithy confessed. “I don’t remember a lot of things. I have these gaps in memories. Human brains.”
“Yes, you’ve said.” Sarah Jane interrupted, deciding to take action. “Maybe UNIT’s Skywatch satellites will have some information. It could be a good idea to check.”
“Oh, must you?” Smithy groaned. “They said ‘no alien activity’, ergo day off, ergo - let’s go out! The shops! You all love going down to the shops, let’s all go down to the shops.”
“No, absolutely not!” Sarah Jane snapped. “I won’t allow it!”
“Sarah Jane,” Smithy said seriously. “You are guilty of false imprisonment of a fascinating new life form. Or perhaps she just wants me all to herself, eh kids?”
Clyde and Rani inwardly cringed and Sky cocked her head to the side, confused.
“You can’t just go bounding out there!” Sarah Jane retaliated. “We don’t know if anyone’s after you! There has to be a reason they made you human!”
“Well, if you’re so bothered, I offer a brilliant cover story!”
“I am the long lost cousin of Sarah Jane Smith- that’s you- who has come to stay. I could take the spare room while good old Luke is away! It’s brilliant, flawless. Let’s use it!” Smithy beamed. His beam morphed into a frown once he noticed Sarah Jane’s incredulous expression. “Oh, come on! While you study your dreary reports, me and the gang will go shopping!”
Without waiting for a response, Smithy bounded out of the room excitedly, his steps precisely timed and rhythmic, like a well choreographed dance. A moment of silence filled the air. The group stood, unsure of how to respond, when a shrill voice cried out,
“Good lord, what terrible wallpaper!”
Sarah Jane rolled her eyes.
“Keep an eye on him.” she told her three young friends. They nodded and gave chase to the man that was once their supercomputer. When they were out of sight, Sarah Jane turned to her computer and booted it up.
For all their faults, Sarah Jane didn’t believe for a second that UNIT didn’t maintain their Skywatch satellites to the best of their abilities.
“So, what do you want to see first?” Sky asked.
“Oh no,” Rani groaned. Gita Chandra trotted up the drive happily, eyeing the group of four with interest and unbridled curiosity.
“Hello! You off somewhere?” Gita asked Rani, her curious eyes never leaving Smithy’s attire.
“We’re just going into town, mum.” Rani informed her. “Oh, this is Smithy, Sarah Jane’s long lost cousin come to stay. Smithy, this is my mum.”
“Your mother?” Smithy scoffed, leaning closer to Gita with a charming smile. “Are you sure you’re not her sister?”
“Ooh!” Gita giggled. “I like your flower!”
“Thank you very much.”
“Tell you what, I can get you carnations for half price,” Gita offered, “I run a flower shop, wouldn’t you know!”
“Yeah, we really need to get going.” Rani interrupted, grabbing Smithy by his sleeve and pulling him down the drive, closely followed by Clyde and Sky.
The Shadow Architect sashayed down the spacious hallway with pride, her boots clacking on the ground as she walked towards her destination, her piercing red eyes scanning each and every corner of the corridor for any faults or cracks.
A door slid open and she walked into a room. A Judoon stood waiting for her while one of her sisters worked at a nearby computer. The air was tense. They had a job to do. The resurgence of the Time Agency was not helping matters. Time Agents were running amok searching for their target and hindering their operations. They had always been a facetious lot.
“Have we found our target?” the Shadow Architect asked, her voice crackling like thunder.
“No, ma’am.” the other woman in the room whispered, ashamed. “We have managed to isolate the signal back to Sol 3.”
“The backwater planet.” the Shadow Architect scoffed. Why anyone would ever bother with that snivelly little planet, let alone the last Time Lord in existence, was beyond her. She scowled, turning to a new figure that had appeared behind her.
“I was hoping that I was being quiet.” the man sighed in an augmented voice. The Shadow Architect sneered at him.
“Your attempts at aloofness are pathetic, Kai.”
“You have a new mission.” the Shadow Architect adopted a tone of authority, one that brooked no argument. “You will infiltrate Sol 3 without any assistance from the Judoon or Atraxi and locate Ozmo. You will then bring him here to be detained. Should you fail, I will personally see to it that your prison sentence is extended rather than shortened. Do you understand that?”
“Yes, mum.” Kai rolled his eyes. He moved to stop the Shadow Architect when she prepared to move away. Her hand darted away just before they made contact and she glared at him for attempting such a crude attempt at physical contact. She was such a drag. “What I don’t understand is why I can’t have the good old squaddies to help me? It wouldn’t make things easier, mind you, but it’d be hilarious to watch those idiots knock down everything in sight.”
“Keep talking Kai and I’ll lock you up in the chambers for another millennia.” the Architect hissed. “The Judoon are needed for another case and the Atraxi have shown….hesitance to return to Sol 3.”
“Losers.” Kai snorted. He sighed derisively, waving his hand in the air.
“You can hide behind your bravado, boy, but I know what you did. There’s no reason Miss Jackson and her cohorts shouldn’t either.”
Something shifted in Kai’s demeanour. His eyes darkened and the atmosphere became stifling, making the workers present in the room anxious to escape. A predatory growl escaped his lips...and a knife suddenly appeared in his hand.
“You wouldn’t dare.”
“Wouldn’t I?” the Shadow Architect sneered. “Never forget who is in charge here, boy.”
Kai receded. He used the knife to slice lettering into his arm. He didn’t stop until EARTH was tattooed into the flesh. A reminder of his mission. He really didn’t want to face the consequences of the brand if he failed. “I accept your mission, Shadow Architect. When do I leave?”
“You’ve been in there for ages!” Clyde complained as he stood outside of the clothing store's dressing room cubicle. “Hurry up!”
“Patience never was your virtue, was it?” Smithy quipped. “I’ll be out in a minute!”
With tremendous flair, Smithy shoved the curtain aside and posed majestically.
“You’re wearing the same thing!” Clyde spluttered incredulously.
“I know!” Smithy exclaimed, delighted. “This is a marvellous little shop, let’s come again sometime! Are you paying?”
“Why do you have to make everything ten times harder?!”
Sarah Jane flicked through some of the data she collected while the printer continued to spew new information and data.
Rani set her baguette in the bagging area of a self-checkout machine and fished around her pocket for spare change. Sky and Clyde were in the bookshop next door and Smithy was watching her with bizarre intensity.
“Unexpected item in bagging area!” the machine’s squawked in a shrill tone. Rani froze, her eyes drifting and lingering on the brolley placed opposite her tuna baguette.
“Talking machines, don’t ya just hate ‘em?” Smithy asked innocently when Rani fixed him with a glare. She opened her mouth to retort when the man galloped off further down the shop. Rani watched him go in confusion.
“What’s up?” Clyde asked. He and Sky had left the shop with a Cinderella book for the younger girl to read. They had bought ice cream cones before deciding to see what was taking Rani and Smithy so long to leave the shop.
“Smithy just took off!” Rani exclaimed, pointing at the former supercomputer’s retreating form. Clyde and Sky followed her gaze.
“We should probably follow him,” Clyde said.
“Yeah, we probably should.” Rani agreed. Sky nodded her head in agreement. With that unanimous decision, the three teenagers traversed across the store to Smithy’s stooped form. He was helping somebody pick up their groceries.
“Thank you,” a familiar voice gushed, flustered. “It all happened so fast.”
“Mum?” Clyde froze, astonished.
Carla Langer looked up at her son. She had been on her weekly grocery run when she decided she was craving Mojito. In her excitement, she had forgotten to look where she was going and accidentally bumped into a man, her groceries toppling to the floor. The man had left her to pick up her groceries alone, and Carla wasn’t expecting an immaculately dressed man to swoop in and help her, despite her protests.
“Oh,” Carla smiled. “Hello, love. This your friend?”
“Quite! We’re great chums, Clyde and me,” Smithy smirked. “I’m staying with my cousin, Sarah Jane for a while.”
“Oh, you’re related to Sarah Jane? I had no idea!”
“Well, she’s not exactly forthcoming about familial relations,” Smithy amended.
“Yeah, and we need to get going, now.” Clyde hissed, interrupting the moment. The two were smiling at each other weirdly and it was making him uncomfortable.
“Right, yes!” Carla gasped, realising the time. “I’d best be off. Got to make lunch. Anyway, it was nice to meet you, Smithy!”
“It was nice to meet you too,” Smithy smiled charmingly. He pulled out the carnation from his top pocket and offered it to her, a charming smile etched on her face. “For you.”
“Oh, thank you.” Carla blushed, accepting the offered flower, to Clyde’s astonishment.
“My mum fancies a screensaver!” he gasped. Rani, on the other hand, was too busy eyeing a particular advert pinned to the store’s billboard to listen to Clyde’s infused rant.
Sarah Jane flicked through the notebook idly, searching for any clues that could point her in the right direction on this case. On the coffee table beside her was a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Without looking away from the printed notes, she reached for the carton, her fingers wrapping around the soft dough, reaching to devour it when-
“Naughty, naughty!” Smithy tutted, startling Sarah Jane into a jump. He stood in the doorway of the attic, his arms crossed and his face marred by a disapproving frown. “You really should watch what you eat, Sarah Jane.”
“If I want a medical check, Mr Smith, I will ask for one.” Sarah Jane retorted.
“Smithy,” the man corrected, “Do keep up. Mr Smith is so drab and formal.”
“Yeah, well, how was your day?” Sarah Jane asked, hoping to switch tracks in the conversation. Smithy perked up instantly.
“It was quite astonishing!” he remarked. “We went all sorts of places. I never realised human life is so exhilarating! All those sights, tastes and smells, it’s marvellous. I met Gita and Carla too.”
“Oh, I bet that was an experience.” Sarah Jane chuckled, leafing through her book. Smithy suddenly went very quiet, watching her intently. Sarah Jane didn’t pay any attention. She felt the couch dip with added weight, but didn’t think much of it, continuing her research for any clue on the phenomenon.
“Yes?” she looked up to see Smithy gazing at her fondly.
“You are a remarkable person, Sarah Jane,” Smithy told her. “Your dedication- all the lives you’ve saved, I can truly appreciate that now. It’s astonishing.”
Sarah Jane was taken aback by the praise. She hadn’t expected it from Smithy, of all people. It felt...nice.
“Sky, you’re a newbie to Earth, aren’t you?” Smithy asked as he clambered into his borrowed bed. “Do you know how to sleep?”
“Sleep?” Sky repeated.
“I don’t think I know how to,” the man confessed. “When Luke first came here, he didn’t know how to either. Even with the minds of tens of thousands of people, he couldn’t dream or sleep. The Bane built him to last, so he eventually found a way to just...switch himself off. Am I like Luke? What if I can’t ever sleep? What if I can’t dream?”
Sky frowned, unsure how to respond as she tucked him in. She attempted to articulate her thoughts and reply but Smithy fell asleep as soon as his head rested on the pillow. She smiled and quietly left the room.
Smithy awoke feeling rather ill. It was strange, he hadn’t devoured any more of Sarah Jane’s doughnuts. A strange noise prompted him to look down at his hand. He was startled to find it flickering and crackling with red Xylok energy. The house was relatively quiet, it must have been very late. The only things his ears registered was his breathing and Sky’s conversation with someone he couldn’t hear or identify in the next room over.
The television set in the room crackled to life, the blue haze illuminating the dark room. A line of black, bold text appeared in the middle of the screen, the letters appearing one after the other, almost as if someone was typing.
Mr Smith, I need you.
A set of instructions and a threat accompanied the message and Smithy knew what he had to do.
The Challis Museum was deathly quiet, the only figure active was one security guard. With his hat pulled over his eyes, Smithy kept to the shadows to avoid detection. He slipped past the guard effortlessly and silently skulked to the exhibit area. He singled out the case containing the matter relay and approached it.
Smithy’s blurred fingers brushed over the case, and the matter relay glowed green. He moved his hand back, the relay resting in the palm of his hands. Triumphant, Smithy slipped out of the museum again.
It only took a short while to reach the warehouse- time was relative to Smithy. The warehouse was old, derelict, decrepit. There was a leakage somewhere he couldn’t locate and a small gap in the room.
Standing beside a door further down the corridor was Ozmo, a humanoid with monkey-like features. His face was covered by a mask. A monkey mask with round eye holes, revealing his scarlet irises, a norm of his race, the Ozmoids. A jewel necklace was wrapped around his neck and he wore a mustard brown coat. The corners of his lips curled into a smile when he spotted the artefact in his hands.
“Finally! Cheers!” the alien chittered excitedly. “At last I can leave this depressing planet. Cold enough to freeze your monoids off, it is, and the people are as thick as two Graske!”
“Erm, do you have it?” Smithy asked tentatively. “You said you did.”
“Sure,” Ozmo replied, tossing over a small red device. “I’d have thought you’d hate being a human. I know I would.”
“I quite like it,” Smithy mumbled absentmindedly as he placed the nozzle attached to the back of the small red device to the back of his hand. The flesh stabilized and the illness Smithy previous felt quickly subsided. He sighed contentedly, “Is that all?”
“Yes, it was,” Ozmo nodded. “Well, I’m off. Enjoy being a human!”
It was morning by the time Smithy returned to Bannerman Road. He opened and closed the door quietly. He turned around and froze. Across the hallway was Sky, wearing her dressing gown and holding a bowl of cereal, staring back at him with curiosity.
“Oh, there you are!” Sarah Jane exclaimed as she hopped down the stairs, already dressed for the day. “Where have you been?”
“I was...taking a nice stroll!” Smithy decided. “I heard about the roseate dawn, wanted to see how roseate it actually was, and let me tell you, it’s pretty darn roseate out there.”
“You know, you’re a lot like Sky,” Sarah Jane noted, eyeing Smithy’s bedraggled tie in disdain and reaching over to fix it. “You both like to experience new things.”
“Why, yes, I suppose we are,” Smithy grinned, pointing at Sky seriously. “Carpe diem, look it up!”
Sky watched him for a second before she walked into the living room, a spoonful of cereal already in her mouth.
“Any plans for diem?” Sarah Jane asked, admiring her handiwork and stepping back with a smile. Smithy pondered for a moment.
“Oh, nothing exciting.” Smith decided. “Although…”
“Could I have the address to Clyde’s house?”
“Emergency! It’s escalated!” Clyde hollered as he burst into the attic in a panic. Sky looked up from her Cinderella book. “My mum’s dating a screensaver!”
It had started out as a normal day for Clyde. He woke up, sketched a bit, brushed his teeth, ate his breakfast and helped his mum take out the bins. It was while they were taking out the bins that Smithy appeared, offering to help Carla clear out and work on their shed. Carla had agreed brightly, and the pair had shooed a repulsed Clyde away.
Sky tilted her head to the side. “You mean Smithy?”
“I think it’s sweet,” Sky giggled.
“I think it’s disgusting,” Clyde retorted as he sat down on the couch beside her. “Enjoying the book?”
“Yes.” Sky smiled. “It’s nice. Your mum is like Cinderella and Smithy is her handsome prince!”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” Clyde chuckled nervously. Rani wandered into the attic, a newspaper in tow.
“To think that all this is still happening and we can’t do anything about it,” the girl sighed, showing her two friends the headline - 'Robbery at the Challis Museum'.
“Mr Smith would have been able to detect that.” Sky noted.
“If he’s not too busy fixing sheds,” Clyde murmured under his breath.
“It must be hard, protecting the Earth all the time.” Rani pointed out. “Not like we do, he does it twenty-four-seven. Imagine what that’s like?”
“Maybe we could do his job for him!” Sky offered. Clyde and Rani chuckled skeptically at her enthusiasm.
“I don’t think we can, Sky.” Rani replied. “We’re not supercomputers.”
Sky frowned. “There could be. We just have to find a way to do his job.”
“Clyde!” Smithy burst into the attic looking pleased with himself. “Your mother was delighted with my work on the shed!”
“Why did you show up at our place today, anyway?” Clyde asked, suspicion leaking into his voice. “What are you up to?”
“Why, nothing at all!” Smithy replied coolly. “I’m simply trying to cheer your charming mother up! You said you wanted somebody to.”
“Oi, that was meant to be a secret!” Clyde hissed, annoyed. Sometimes, when it was a quiet day and everybody had their own things to do, Clyde would sit by Mr Smith and tell him things that were never supposed to be shared with others, like how his mum deserved better in life than what his dad had given her. “Who says you could blurt stuff like that out?”
“Mate!” Ozmo’s voice chittered. Smithy jumped, startled. “Can I call you ‘mate’ now?”
“What is it?” Rani asked worriedly.
“They can’t see me, if you make my presence known, I’ll kill them,” Ozmo explained at the same time as Rani. Smithy’s eyes alternated between Rani and Ozmo. “I need your help.”
“What?” Smithy squeaked.
“Are you okay?” Rani asked.
“I need you to get me a diamond! I’ve got the coordinates right here.” Ozmo replied at the same time.
“No.” Smithy answered them both.
“Oh, Clyde, look what you’ve done!” Rani snapped, glaring at the spluttering Clyde.
“Oh, we can’t have that.” Ozmo said darkly, standing behind the curious Sky. “I mean, I could kill them with no qualms. None whatsoever, but that’s not all.”
Smithy’s hand started to crackle. Alarmed, he shoved his hand into his trouser pocket.
“I should probably mention that the stabilizer shot I gave you was from a bad batch. You’ll be a Xylok by midnight if you don’t do as I say.”
The Ozmoid hologram disappeared and Smithy felt ill. He had to stop this. They didn’t deserve to die because of him.
“Right then,” Rani stepped back from her argument with Clyde, pulling him off the sofa and bringing him in front of Smithy. “Shake hands and let it be water under the bridge, you two. Come on!”
Clyde grudgingly held out his hand, waiting impatiently for Smithy to shake it. Smithy didn’t comply. He quickly patted Clyde on the head and bounced out the door, leaving three confused teenagers in his wake.
“Oh, by the way, Rani,” Smithy poked his head through. “Could you hand me my brolly?”
“Er, sure,” Rani nodded, picking up the brolly and walking over to pass it to him. Smithy thanked her and leaned in close to whisper something. Three short words that caught her off guard. Smithy retreated as soon as the last word left his lips, off to who knows where.
Clyde loves you.
Smithy strolled through the vaults of the Maximum Security Area casually, whistling a tuneless note as he opened the seventeenth vault door, his fingers a blur. The metal door slid open and Smithy stepped into the room. His eyes scanned the area and landed on a drawer. Successfully figuring out the passcode, he opened the drawer and admired the shiny crystal hidden inside.
“You were right, I am remarkable.”
Smithy jumped at the sound of Sarah Jane’s voice, spinning around to see her step into the same room, sonic lipstick in hand.
“Sarah Jane!” Smithy gasped. “How did you…”
“Find you?” Sarah Jane smiled thinly. “The tracking device in your tie could be an indication.”
Smithy sighed. He had been caught.
“What’s the hold up?” Ozmo demanded as his hologram flickered to life. “I need that diamond. Hurry up!”
“Sarah Jane, I can explain…” Smithy said, edging closer towards her. “Look at my hand, I need to do this.” Smithy held up his hand and Sarah Jane stared at it in confusion. With her guard down, Smithy snatched the sonic lipstick from her. The energy crackled around her wrist and Sarah Jane winced in pain.
“I’m very sorry,” Smithy sighed, pulling her further into the vault. He looked over at the diamond and a sense of hope filled him. “It’ll all be over very soon, I promise.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“It’s complicated.” Smithy managed, leaving her alone in the vault. “I’m sorry again.”
“No, wait!” Sarah Jane exclaimed as the vault door closed. The energy around her wrist dissipated and she ran towards the vault door. She hammered at the door, trying to break free. “Mr Smith? Mr Smith, I can help you! Mr Smith?”
“I wouldn’t knock too hard, Sarah Jane Smith,” Ozmo cackled. “Who knows, you might be better off in here - with what I’ve got in store for this miserable planet!”