The Horde of Darkness Part One Written by Ryder Smith
It was a glorious autumnal afternoon in the village. The sun was shining, a rarity in the chillier weather, the birds were singing, and children were playing. It felt calm, peaceful, idyllic. Yes, there was the distant sound of Gita Chandra chatting away about something with the neighbours, but you can’t have everything, Sarah thought to herself, and some things never change.
She was sat in her favourite armchair in the lounge, a book in her hands. Melody had brought it home from school, and Sarah thought she’d give it a try. It was called ‘Summer Falls’, and so far, she’d read about half of it. She was relieved to finally have some time to herself - no aliens, no distractions. In fact, the whole week had been rather quiet, unusually so. But she was glad of it, she’d not had a break from fighting aliens for some time. In fact she couldn’t remember the last time it had happened. It felt like an age to her.
After reading for a little bit longer, she paused; how could it be so quiet? There had to be something happening, it couldn’t be this silent. “Sentinel-” she started to say, before Sentinel cut in.
“I have still not detected any alien activity,” he responded shortly. “You should really stop worrying about it Sarah Jane. As I mentioned last time, I will alert you if anything changes.”
“I guess you’re right,” she replied. “But did you-”
“Run a deep-field scan?” Sentinel cut across, somewhat annoyed, “Yes. Now stop worrying, and read your book.” With that the television screen went blank. Sentinel had had enough of Sarah Jane’s fretting, and retreated back into the internet.
Sarah decided that she’d had enough reading for one day, and inserted her bookmark to avoid losing her page. It was a good book, a very good book in fact. Why Melody wanted to read it, she had no idea. She didn’t think it seemed like her sort of thing. Sarah just sat in her chair, contemplating. Things hadn’t been so uneventful since she had first moved in, before Melody turned up on her doorstep, when she was alone. It had been hard, very hard. She never let on how hard it had been. Sky was gone, Luke was at University, and Clyde and Rani had gone off travelling the world.
Her friends, her family - gone. Everyone she cared about was gone, and she had been left alone. For a while, like she had when she’d moved to Bannerman Road, she’d kept herself to herself. To the other residents of the village, she’d been that new, slightly weird, woman. It took her a while to come to terms with it, but the events of the year before still haunted her.
At that precise moment, the doorbell went. That would be Melody home from school, thought Sarah Jane. The thought of Melody being so far away from her for such a long time worried her, the threat of her looming kidnappers always on her mind, but she eventually relented to Melody’s request after Zoe had pointed out that Kovarian had been shunted off to the other end of the galaxy.
She got up out of her chair, and headed into the hall. “I’m coming, Melody,” she called, as she went. She unlocked the door, and pulled it open. It wasn’t Melody. Sarah Jane was taken aback, she had not expected to see Luke, stood in the doorway.
“Surprise!” he said with a grin on his face.
“What...what are you doing here?” She replied, gobsmacked.
“I wanted to surprise you.”
“Well you’ve certainly done that. It's so good to see you,” she said, pulling him into a hug.
“I’ve got another surprise for you.”
“What is-” she tried to say, before being interrupted by the oh so familiar voice.
“Mistress!” chirped K9.
“Oh, K9!” she said, rather louder than she’d intended, before crouching down and hugging her tin dog. “It's good to see you as well.”
“You sound more pleased to see the dog,” Luke said jokingly.
“It’s just so good to see you both. How long are you here for?” She asked.
“Just the weekend, so let’s make the most of it.”
“Come on in. You too, K9.”
“Hang on, let me just get my stuff out the car.” Luke said, walking towards his bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle. He pulled open the boot, and removed his suitcase before closing it again and heading inside.
Melody was walking home from school with Zoe and Dan. Beth had been sent home earlier that day; Melody wasn’t sure as to why until Zoe and Dan explained Beth’s condition to her. Even still, Melody considered her very lucky. Maths had not been enjoyable - then again, when was it? But it was especially dull as she’d had a supply teacher, one with a particularly boring, monotonous voice. Plus she had been given loads of homework which was equally as annoying.
“Did either of you get any homework?” She asked the other two.
“None,” replied Zoe, clearly pleased with herself. “None at all.”
“Wait, you didn’t get any?” Dan asked, incredulously. “How’s that fair?”
“Well, it's fair for me,” she laughed.
“Yeah well, lucky you.”
“Why, how much did you guys get?”
“Loads,” replied Melody. “It feels like I’m carrying bricks in my bag.”
“Wait until you’re in Year 8. There's even more of it,” said Dan.
By this point, they’d reached Sarah Jane’s road. They could see Gita Chandra outside her house watering the plants, all the while clearly nosing over next door’s garden - she was hardly being subtle about it. It was at this point that Zoe noticed something rather unusual.
“Whose car is that?” She asked Melody, curiously.
“Which car?” Melody asked in reply.
“The bright yellow one,” Zoe replied. “It looks ancient.”
“No idea. I’ve never seen it before.”
“I wonder who it belongs to,” said Dan.
“There’s only one way to find out. Come on,” said Zoe, heading off towards Sarah Jane’s house. Gita was still “watering” the plants, but didn’t seem to be paying much attention - she was more interested in looking at the neighbour's poorly maintained garden. The three of them approached Sarah Jane’s house, curious to know exactly owned this, as of yet, mysterious car and why they were parked on her drive.
“Who on earth would have a car like that?” asked Dan, peering in through the windows.
“I like it, it's rather retro,” replied Melody.
“I don’t care what type of car it is, I just want to find out who it belongs to,” said Zoe, annoyed at them for being such slowcoaches. She approached the door, with the others in tow, and proceeded to ring the bell. Several seconds later the door opened, and Sarah Jane appearing inside. “Hello you three,” she said happily, “No Beth today?”
“She’s having an off-day, so she went home earlier,” Dan replied.
“Whose car is that?” Zoe interjected, desperate to know who it belonged to.
“It used to be mine back in the day,” she replied, knowing very well how curious they were. The three of them just stood there, desperate for more information. “Well don’t just stand out here in the porch, come on in.”
Zoe, Dan and Melody went inside. Zoe, however, was still puzzled as to why Sarah Jane’s old car was parked outside, when her usual Mini was right there. All three of them removed their bags and placed them by the door. They immediately went into the lounge and sat down. “Can I get anyone anything?” asked Sarah Jane.
“No thanks, I’m good,” said Zoe. Dan said virtually the same, as did Melody. All three of them just sat there, as if they were waiting for her to say something.
“I’ll put you out of your misery then,” she said smiling. “I’ve got something to show you. Well, someone.”
Zoe immediately sat up, excited to finally learn the truth. She could alway tell when something was going to be interesting and this, this was going to be interesting.
“Who is it?” asked Melody.
“I’ve got a surprise today. Completely out of the blue,” she explained. “I’d like you all to meet Luke.”
At that moment Luke entered the room, along with what looked like a robotic toy. “Hello everyone! It’s nice to meet you properly.”
“So, it’s your car outside then?” Dan asked, as it was the only thing he could think of to say.
“Of course it's his car. It is your car right? What’s it like to drive? Have you ever thought about painting it another colour?” asked Zoe. She was always unsure of what to say which, as an aspiring writer, annoyed her greatly.
“It’s nice to meet you Luke,” said Melody, hoping she sounded confident.
“So you’re my new sister then,” said Luke happily. “It’s great to meet you properly. You’re taller than you look on FaceTime.”
Melody cringed at the thought. “No, I’m not- I can’t- I…” she took a breath, “I’m not your sister. We’re not related, we can’t be.”
“Oh,” Luke frowned.
“I have my own mum and dad too.”
“Yeah, I completely understand.” Luke assured her and Melody nodded. The two stood there awkwardly.
“Right, are you two staying for dinner?” asked Sarah Jane, turning to Zoe and Dan, hoping to alleviate the silence.
“Yes,” answered Zoe, rather more excited about the prospect than she expected. “What are we having?”
“Let's get a pizza in,” said Luke. “You don’t want to see Mum’s cooking.”
“And what's wrong with my cooking?” asked Sarah Jane, jokingly.
“Out of all the alien things I've seen, none of it was half as scary as her cooking."
“Clyde and Rani never complained about my cooking,” she said.
“That's because Clyde was always the one cooking!” Luke said laughing.
The five of them sat round the table enjoying the freshly-delivered pizza. It was fantastic.
“So Luke, what are you doing at University?” asked Zoe.
“Physics. It's so brilliant, I love it. The workload isn’t too bad either, though I have to try not to get too advanced. Last time I did that the Moon almost collided with the earth,” he replied.
“You what?” Dan gawped at him.
“Erm, anyway, what would you like to do when you’re older?”
“I’d love to be a writer one day,” Zoe said. “But English is so dull at the minute. They’re teaching stuff I’m really not interested in.”
“What about you, Dan?” he asked.
“Um, I’m not too sure really. I’ve not given it much thought to be honest.”
“Well there's plenty of time to decide, Dan,” said Sarah Jane, reassuringly.
“Have you thought about it at all, Melody?” asked Luke.
“I’ve not really,” she replied. “Maybe something to do with history, or perhaps an author.”
After a while of eating and talking, the pizza was gone and everyone was stuffed. Dan always did this whenever he had pizza, it always tasted so amazing that he couldn’t possibly leave anything left.
“This was nice,” said Sarah Jane happily. “It's a shame Beth wasn’t here though. Hopefully she’ll be better by tomorrow.”
“Oh, I should probably be getting home now,” said Zoe. “Thanks for the pizza. And it was great to finally meet you Luke.”
“I should be going too,” said Dan. “It was nice meeting you Luke.”
“Would you like a lift home?” asked Sarah Jane.
“Nah, we’ll be okay, won’t we Dan?”
“Yeah, thanks for offering though.”
“That’s quite alright,” said Sarah Jane. Dan and Zoe went into the hallway to collect their stuff. Sarah Jane, Luke and Melody followed them. The two of them noticed the same robot dog from earlier, he seemed to be charging.
“What's this?” asked Zoe, pointing at the dog.
“Oh, that's K9. He’s one of my oldest friends.”
“But he’s a toy, isn’t he?” asked Dan.s
“He’s much more than a toy,” Sarah Jane laughed at the thought. “He’s a multi-functioning droid, and I don’t know where I’d be without him. The Doctor gave him to me a long time ago.”
“I’ve had him at University,” said Luke. “He’s rather good at chess.”
“You can meet him properly tomorrow. But, right now, you’d best be off. We don’t want your parents to worry,” said Sarah Jane, opening the door. It had started to go dark outside, and the temperature was dropping off.
“See you tomorrow, Mels,” said Zoe. “Thanks for having us Sarah Jane.”
“Mels?” Melody repeated, phrasing it as if it was a question. She had never been called Mels before. She quite liked it. Zoe merely nodded and stepped out into the porch.
“Bye Melody. It was nice to meet you Luke,” Dan said, walking out onto the drive.
“Bye,” said Melody. “See you tomorrow.”
“Night,” said Luke.
“Goodnight you two,” said Sarah Jane, watching them walk down the drive before closing the door.
Zoe and Dan walked down the road, discussing and laughing about their day.
“...and that dog was so cool!” Dan cheered. “I want one!”
“Of course you would.” Zoe scoffed, crossing her arms and smirking. “Would you be able to look after one, though?”
“Not in a million years.” Zoe decided firmly. Dan pouted, crossing his arms as a grin lit up Zoe’s face.
“Her son’s cool though, don’t you think?”
“No, genius, Miss Janine.” Zoe rolled her eyes. “Keep up with the programme, would you?”
“You can talk.” Dan quickly took back his words when Zoe shot him one of her ‘I’m gonna kill you’ looks. “Yeah, he was pretty cool. Wanna bring Beth over tomorrow?”
The two reached a crossroads. Dan stared at the path, seemingly reluctant to go home. Zoe noticed this and paused.
“Is he still?” she asked softly.
“When is he not?” Dan sighed. “What am I supposed to do when I’m being bullied by my older brother? Tell my parents?”
“I don’t know.” Zoe shrugged forlornly. “It’s never happened to me.”
“Well, you’re lucky. You and Beth both have a twin.”
“It’s not that great, Dan.” Zoe reminded him. “You’ve seen that.”
“Yeah,” Dan sighed, turning his back to her and walking down the path. “Night, Zoe.”
“Night.” Zoe waved at him. Dan paused, turning back to her.
“Don’t frazzle your brain thinking up more stories. The only thing worse than a normal Zoe is a frazzled Zoe.”
“Go play a game, Dan.” Zoe laughed, trotting down the path that would lead her back to her chaotic home.
It was late at night when it happened.
Sergeant Slipper was sat, outside the Police station, in his Police Car, half asleep - he always hated night shifts. He would much rather be sleeping right now. Just as he was about to nod off, the radio started up. “Sergeant Slipper come in. We have reports of a disturbance up at the old miners houses. Take a look will you, over,” came the voice of Inspector O’Reily.
“Yes, Sir. I’m on my way now, over,” replied Slipper, slightly perturbed about having to actually do something. He reached for his coffee cup, only to realise, disappointed, that it was completely empty. There weren’t many luxuries in his line of work, aside from the occasional jam doughnut and a nice cup of coffee. To be without either was absolute hell. Reluctantly he started the car and headed off to investigate the disturbance.
It was rather quiet in the village at this time of night, but Slipper rather enjoyed the absence of any miscreants or, indeed, people. People were a liability in his mind - and only got in the way of him having a peaceful day. By now he could see the Miners cottages ahead of him. They were situated outside the village itself, and were rather rundown since they had been declared unsafe for usage.
He parked up outside, and had a little look whilst remaining in the car. He didn’t want to get out unless absolutely necessary. Damn, he thought, I’m going to have to. With that, he got out of his car, and proceeded to go around the back of the houses. There was an alleyway at the back linking all the gardens, backing onto what was once a railway line. It looked empty to Slipper, and there didn’t look to be any disturbance. “Sodding kids,” he thought aloud, rather loudly.
At that precise moment, three robed figures, shrouded in darkness, appeared at the other end of the alley. “Hello,” said Sergeant Slipper. “Are you responsible for this false alarm then? You know I could arrest you for wasting police time.”
“No,” said one, in a rasping slightly metallic voice, before approaching slightly. “You will lead us to our prize.”
“Your prize? What are you on about?” asked Slipper, trying desperately to avoid sounding scared. The figures, whoever they were, just stood there silently. “Is this supposed to frighten me? Well, it's not going to work mate.”
“You will lead us to our prize,” the same one repeated.
“I will do no such thing,” he said defiantly - still trying to hide his fear.
“Then you will die,” the figure responded.
All three of them raised what looked like metal staffs, and began to march forward to the terrified Slipper. Almost in sync, they fired what appeared to be lasers from said staffs - with Slipper only just managing to get out of the way. He didn’t want to wait for them to come round the corner before running. Never in his life had he ran that quickly, nor wanted to - but he’d never been this scared before. He spared no time to get into his car, those things would be right behind him - he just ran.
“Good morning Sarah Jane,” said Sentinel, happier now that Sarah Jane wasn’t worrying.
She had not long gotten up, although it was quite early, and had naturally made herself a cup of tea before sitting down in the living room. “Good morning Sentinel,” she replied. “Another quiet night?”
“Yes, there haven’t been any disturbances. Although Sergeant Slipper seems to have gotten himself on probation.”
“Oh dear,” said Sarah Jane sarcastically. “I imagine he won’t be having as many doughnuts then.”
“Indeed. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”
“Thanks Sentinel,” replied Sarah Jane cheerfully. It had been a while since she’d felt truly at peace. Luke and K9 were home, and Kovarian seemed to have disappeared completely. She sighed happily at this thought. At that precise moment, K9 trundled into the room, obviously having fully recharged.
“Hello Mistress,” he said.
“Hello K9. Nice to see you fully charged again.”
“Now, how are you finding Oxford?”
“I have insufficient data. Master Luke told me to act in stealth mode.”
“Oh, you’ve not changed K9.”
“It is against my basic programming to change, Mistress. I am operating as normal.”
“Is that you K9?” came Sentinel’s voice.
“Now, now, you too. Don’t start,” said Sarah Jane, worried she was going to have another grudge match.
“Start what, Sarah Jane?” asked Sentinel.
“Well, I just don’t wan-” she started, pausing for a second. “Wait, why did you greet him?”
“We have been talking over the internet, and I have been transferring myself down to Oxford to talk with him directly.”
“Sentinel has been requesting access to some of my data.”
“So, you’re friends? When did this happen?” asked Sarah Jane, surprised at this.
“Not long after I first came here Sarah Jane. K9 was telling me all about Mr Smith, and the best way to avoid you worrying too much. Oh, and we’ve also been playing chess. The game has been going on for months now.”
“Well, it's good to know you get along,” she said, trying not to let herself think about everything that had happened back in Ealing.
Sentinel and K9 continued their conversation, somehow ending up arguing about their chess game. With both of them claiming that the other was cheating, as they had been locked in a stalemate for weeks. Sentinel eventually decided to withdraw back into the internet.
K9 trundled back out of the room, saying something about surveying the house for weaknesses. Sarah Jane had picked up her book again, continuing where she’d left off the day before. No sooner had she started reading, when Luke entered the room.
“Morning Mum,” he said sheepishly. “You been up long?”
“No, not long really, only about an hour.” she replied. “It’s so nice to have you back home again, I have missed you.”
“We’ve talked on the phone almost every day.”
“I know, but it's not the same. It's silly, really.”
“Well it’s nice to see you too. I’m glad I could surprise you,” he said, reaching for a hug.
“Oh, I meant to ask, how's Sanjay?” she asked.
“He’s good,” he replied. “Actually, I’d best call him.”
“Ah, okay. Well, give him my best, won’t you?”
“Of course,” he replied, as he walked out the room.
Almost a second later, in which time Sarah Jane had only managed to consider reading her book again, Melody walked in. “Morning Melody. How are you today?”
“Morning Sarah Jane. I’m alright, just a bit tired,” she said, sleepily. “What's for breakfast?”
“You can ask Luke to make an English breakfast when he’s done on the phone if you like, you know what my cooking is like.”
“I’ll ask him in a sec then,” she said, smiling happily. She plonked herself down next to Sarah Jane, and pulled her into a big hug. Never before in her life had she ever felt as happy as she did now, she finally had a place where she could belong. With that, she grabbed the remote for the TV, and turned over to CBBC. Melody was pleasantly surprised to find Wolfblood was on.
Not long later, with Sarah Jane still getting no further with the book, the doorbell went. She got up and went to the door, leaving Melody watching her program. Before she opened it, she pulled her dressing gown tighter, and placed one hand on her Sonic Lipstick. With recent events, one couldn’t be too careful. She pulled open the door, expecting something sinister, only to find Dan, Beth and Zoe stood on the doorstep. “Hello, you three. You’re here early.”
“Morning Sarah Jane,” said Zoe. “It’s not that early, is it?”
“Yes it is,” Dan retorted. “Did I not say that?”
“He did say that, Zoe, several times,” said Beth.
“I must have missed this while he drooled over the Slender Man game, which he ranted about longer than I did.”
“Well, it's nice to see you anyway,” replied Sarah Jane, smiling. “Come on in then.”
“Thank you Sarah Jane,” said Zoe, making sure she didn’t see her stick her tongue out at the others.
“Hello guys,” said Melody, having appeared in the doorway of the lounge.
“Hi, Melody,” Beth chirped happily. “What are you watching?”
“Wolfblood,” said Melody, turning back to face the screen in the other room.
“Make yourselves comfortable,” said Sarah Jane. “Anyone want some tea, or coffee?”
“Not for me thanks,” Dan and Zoe said almost in sync.
“Yes please,” said Beth. “I won’t turn one down.”
“I’m still drinking mine,” said Melody, without looking up from the screen.
Sarah Jane walked back out from the front room, and headed for the kitchen, where Luke was currently talking to Sanjay on the phone. K9 on the other hand seemed to have disappeared, although Sarah didn’t really notice at the time. She entered the kitchen quietly, making sure that Luke saw her.
He made a gesture to say that he was nearly finished on the phone, so Sarah Jane proceeded to get the cups ready.
“I won’t be back until tomorrow night though,” said Luke. “Gita invited me, Mum and Melody round for dinner and you know what she’s like.”
It was at this point that Sarah Jane looked out the window into the garden, noticing that K9 was trundling along the path. What is he doing now? She thought to herself. Her mind, however, quickly drifted to other thoughts, one’s she’d really rather forget.
“See you tomorrow then,” said Luke, snapping Sarah out of her trance. “I shouldn’t be back too late...bye Sanjay.”
“Is he alright then?” Sarah Jane asked.
“Yeah, he’s fine.”Luke replied, nonchalantly.
“Ah good,” she said. “Would you like some tea?”
“Oh, see if anyone wants a fry up. They might actually eat something if I don’t make it.”
“Yeah, probably,” said Luke, laughing.
Sarah Jane pretended not to hear him, and set about filling the kettle. Luke, meanwhile, headed into the lounge. “Morning, guys,” he said to the four of them.
“Hello again, Luke,” said Zoe, trying to avoid going into a stream of questions again.
“Morning,” said Dan sleepily.
“Hello,” said Beth, slightly nervously.
“Hi, you must be Beth,” said Luke. “It’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you too. These two wouldn’t shut up about you.”
“We were just telling you about him,” Zoe interjected.
“Well, it's been nice to meet the three of you too,” Luke said. “Now, does anyone fancy a fry up?”
“I do, I do, I do!” Said Melody, “Sorry, that was a bit too excited.”
“Sure. Someone made us go out without breakfast,” said Beth, shooting a glare at Zoe.
“Go on then,” Zoe said, looking innocently at Beth.
“If you’re offering, why not,” Dan replied. “Okay then, I’ll get started on it.”
The six of them sat around Sarah Jane’s dining room table, and were listening to Luke recounting one of his early adventures. The plates had been completely emptied, although Melody was still eating more slices of toast. Sarah Jane, meanwhile, had not felt this happy for a while. When Luke had finished telling his tale, Sarah Jane began to collect up all the dishes and take them back into the kitchen.
Once in the Kitchen, K9 trundled back in from the garden. “Have you been outside all this time?” Asked Sarah Jane.
“Affirmative Mistress,” he replied. “I have detected several major faults with the garden area, all of wh-”
“Sarah Jane, I have detected an anomaly,” came Sentinel’s voice from Sarah Jane’s phone.
“What kind of anomaly?” She asked.
“I’m not entirely sure.”
“Oh, well that's really helpful. What do you suggest then?”
“And you call me a tyrant!” Sentinel scoffed. “I recommend looking into anything that strikes you as unusual.”
“Well it’s not normally this uneventful, so you might want to be more specific.”
“If I could tell you that, I would. Like I said, it is an unknown anomaly.”
“And, like I said, that's really helpful,” said Sarah Jane, harsher than she meant to. “Just keep scanning the area then, and let me know if anything changes.”
“Of course Sarah Jane,” he replied, sounding slightly disgruntled.
She wracked her brain trying to think of something, anything out of the ordinary. The lack of activity recently could be a factor, she thought. But that’s going to be difficult to investigate. This continued for a good while, with her going over insignificance after insignificance, before she had a lightbulb moment: Sergeant Slipper.
She walked back through into the dining room, where the others, save Luke, were sitting. “Okay slight change of plan,” she said calmly. “Sentinel has detected some kind of anomaly.”
“Oh no,” said Zoe. “Is-is it bad?”
“I honestly don’t know Zoe, but I hope to find out.”
“Where are we off to then?” asked Dan.
“Oh no, you’re staying here.”
“But we want to help,” chirped Beth.
“I know you do but...” she said, pausing upon looking at the three of them. “Fine. You can come.”
“I’ll go and get dressed then,” said Melody.
“Yes, okay,” Sarah Jane responded. “Where’s Luke?”
“Oh, he went to get dressed too,” replied Zoe.
“So, erm, if you don’t know what the anomaly is, what are we going to do?” Dan asked.
“Some old school investigating,” Sarah Jane answered. “Besides, I have a potential lead.”
The six of them walked towards the village post office, before taking a right, Sarah Jane knew exactly where she was going. She stopped outside a fairly run down cottage.
“Right, you lot, wait for me here.”
“But whose house is it?” Asked Zoe.
“Sergeant Slipper’s,” she replied. “But don’t go round telling everyone at school.”
“Wh-” started Zoe.
“We won’t,” interrupted Beth, narrowing her eyes at Zoe.
“Can we go on the swings?” asked Melody.
“Of course,” replied Sarah Jane. “I won’t be long. Luke, keep an eye on them will you?”
And with that, the five of them crossed the road to the park, leaving Sarah Jane stood outside Slipper’s house. Before she went any further, however, she flicked open her watch and scanned the area around her. The readings came back negative. “Well, at least he isn’t an alien,” she said to herself, chuckling.
With that, she walked up to Slipper’s front door, and knocked loudly. “Who’s there?” came Slipper’s familiar voice.
“It’s Sarah Jane Smith,” she replied. “I just want to ask you some questions?”
He opened the door suddenly, looking decidedly worse for wear. “Go on then, laugh. I bet you’re loving this Miss Smith.”
“Not at all Sergeant. We might not see eye to eye, but I’m not going to laugh about this.”
“Well, okay then,” he replied. “Those kids aren’t with you are they?”
“No, not today,” she lied.
“Come on in then.”
Sarah Jane obliged, and walked into his house. It wasn’t what she expected, although she didn’t really know what she had expected it to be like. The stair floorboards were bare, and the walls stained, with stuff piled up all over the lounge. There was also a weird musty smell, as if the windows had been kept shut for ages. Meanwhile, the TV was balanced on top of a cardboard box, as the cupboard was too low down.
Slipper offered her a seat. “I’m afraid I can’t stop long, I just need to ask you some things.”
“Okay then, fire away.”
“It’s about last night.”
“Oh. Well, I’m not sure what I can help you with.”
“What exactly happened?”
“Some kids jumped me, down at the old miners houses. I had to retreat, but I abandoned my police car, and that was it. Probation for me.”
“So, it was just kids then? Nothing more?”
“More? Why would it be more?” he replied, sounding uncomfortable. “Like I said, it was just some kids.”
“Well, forgive me, but you don’t look like someone who was jumped by a couple of kids. I think something else happened last night. And, whatever it is, it's scared you.”
“It's just kids, nothing more,” he said, sounding irate.
“Look, Sergeant. You don’t have to tell me anything, but I promise you, I can help.”
“There’s honestly nothing to tell, Miss Smith,” he responded, trying to remain courteous. “Just a group of kids, dressed up. They had fireworks too, they are nothing more than thugs.”
“Thank you for you time Sergeant,” said Sarah Jane. “I must dash now.”
“Bye then, Miss Smith. Good luck with your story.”
With that, Sarah Jane left Slipper in his scruffy looking home, shutting the front door behind her. She could see the others sitting around in the park, and so she headed across the quiet road to meet them. Melody jumped off the swing as soon as she saw her, and the others stood up as she strode towards them.
“Anything?” Zoe asked, inquisitively.
“Not exactly. But something has got him rattled that's for sure, and whatever it was it happened last night.”
“So, we’re going to have a look round then?” Dan asked.
“Naturally, but we’d better be cautious.”
“Shall we take K9?” asked Luke.
“I think that would be wise,” replied Sarah Jane. “Come on then, let’s go.”
Sarah Jane marched ahead, with Luke, leaving the others to follow. “So, that’s Sergeant Slipper’s house then,” said Zoe deviously. “We could have so much fun.”
“Or,” said Beth. “We can forget all about this, and not tell anyone.”
“Besides, we promised Sarah Jane we wouldn’t,” added Dan.
“Oh you guys are so dull. Think what we could do with this information.”
“I am thinking,” Dan retorted. “And I don’t like it.”
“Whatever,” Zoe said, scowling at Dan. “Melody, what do you think?”
“I don’t want to get involved,” she replied.
Sarah Jane’s royal blue Mini pulled up outside a set of dilapidated terraced cottages, closely followed by Luke’s bright yellow Beetle. There hadn’t been enough room for the six of them plus K9 in one car, so they’d been forced to take both. Sarah Jane swiftly exited her car, telling the others not to follow her until she’d scanned the area. She flipped open her watch, and began to examine the area.
“What’s she doing?” asked Beth.
“Scanning the area,” retorted Zoe.
“She doesn’t normally make us wait in the car though,” said Beth.
“So?” Zoe asked in reply.
“So she doesn’t know what we’re dealing with,” Dan hissed.
At that precise moment Sarah Jane waved, it was safe for them to exit the car. The three of them hopped out of her blue car, whilst Luke and Melody left the bright yellow Beetle.
“Right,” said Sarah Jane sternly. “I’ve scanned the whole area, and there are no traces of any alien activity whatsoever. We’d best take a look round just to be sure, the Sergeant saw something last night and I don’t think it was teenagers.”
“What do you think it was Sarah Jane?” asked Zoe, inquisitively.
“I don’t know, and that’s what bothers me. Sentinel should have detected something, yet he didn’t. If there are aliens, then they must have some serious cloaking technology.”
“I am right here, you know, Sarah Jane.” Sentinel grumbled from his position inside Sarah Jane’s phone. Before she could reply, the bright round of colours dispersed, leaving a black screen behind it.
“So we’re going to go and investigate then?” Dan asked, beaming.
“Yes, we are. We’d best split up though. Right, Luke, you take Dan, Beth and K9 with you. Melody and Zoe, you’re with me.”
“Okay,” said Luke. “You be careful though.”
“I’m never careful,” replied Sarah Jane breezily. “Just extremely prepared.”
“See you in a sec, guys,” said Zoe to Dan and Beth. “Don’t get into any trouble without me.”
“Zoe who?” snarked Dan with a smirk.
“Let’s not forget who gets in trouble every day at school for punching Diana or Lee, mate.” Beth chided, a smirk of her own playing on her lips.
“Aye, aye, madam.” Zoe rolled her eyes. “Would you like some tea and crumpets while you’re at it?”
“Enough chat,” Sarah Jane barked. “Let’s move.”
With that, Sarah Jane walked towards the end house, with Zoe and Melody following behind her. Luke, meanwhile, went back to his car to let K9 out. “Come on K9, walkies,” said Luke.
“I have a zero percent chance of performing that task.”
“It's just an expression K9, now come on.”
“Affirmative Master,” said K9. “Activating hover mode.”
Beth and Dan watched in amazement as the robot dog glided out of the car, making the whole thing look completely effortless. They shared a look, silently agreeing that K9 should come over more often.
“What else can he do?” Dan asked, excitably. “Can he like shoot lasers and stuff?”
“Affirmative,” replied K9.
“Seriously? That is so cool!” said Dan, beaming.
“You say that now, he once got carried away and left scorch marks all round my room. I had to put loads of posters up to stop Mum from noticing.”
“Erm, guys. Can we focus on what we’re supposed to be doing?” asked Beth hesitantly.
“Right, yes,” said Luke, with a slightly authoritative tone to his voice. “K9, be on the lookout for anything suspicious.”
“I can detect 12% of all objects in this area as appearing suspicious, should I investigate further or eliminate the threat?”
“When I say suspicious, I mean alien.”
“Correction, there is nothing alien in the area. I am currently at maximum alertness master Luke.”
“Right then, follow me.”
Sarah Jane pushed the door of the furthest cottage open, having unlocked it with her trusty sonic lipstick. The place looked as though nobody had been inside for a long while, the clue being the mound of post on the floor. Newspapers dated from about a year back. “Tread carefully you two, this place is rather dilapidated,” said Sarah Jane.
“It smells a bit too,” said Zoe, screwing her face up. “No wonder nobody wants to live here.”
“Do you think the aliens made the smell? Maybe they just want to live here.”
“As much as I’d wish that was the case, Melody,” said Sarah Jane, smiling at her naivety, “I don’t think that's the case - besides, Sentinel would have been able to detect them.”
“Where did he go anyway?” asked Zoe.
“He’s probably gone off in a huff, he’ll be back if we need him,” said Sarah Jane reassuringly. “Right, come on, we won’t find anything standing around talking.”
She stuck her head around the door to the front room but, aside from a couple of boxes, it was completely empty. The kitchen was much the same, with a few doors missing from the bare cupboards. Zoe, inquisitive as ever, decided to have a look under the stairs, hoping to find a cellar filled with alien tech. Alas, it too was empty.
Melody was the first of them to venture upstairs, while Sarah Jane busied herself scanning everything with her watch. Zoe continued to route around the place, trying to find anything she would consider alien. “Sarah Jane?” called Melody from upstairs, “I think I’ve found something.”
“What is it?” responded Sarah Jane.
“It’s, well, I don’t know how to explain. You’ve got to look though.”
“How do we get inside?” asked Dan. “We don’t have the Sonic thingy.”
“Don’t worry,” replied Luke. “K9, if you would.”
With that, K9 extended his telescopic sensor, and his antenna began spinning, as if he was working something out. Seconds later Luke stepped forward and opened the previously locked door, K9 obviously having unlocked it.
“Is there anything he can’t do?” Beth asked. “Like, can he not get wet or something?”
“I have a triple coated waterproof lining, allowing for underwater traversal.”
“Cool,” said Dan, almost speechless at how amazing this robot dog was. He shot a glance to Beth, who looked equally dumbfounded.
“You two, be alert,” said Luke. “K9, stay close.”
With that, the four of them entered the nearest cottage. It looked rather run down inside, with vines trailing into the front room. There were also several holes in the walls. Luke had a quick look in the lounge, but decided that there wasn’t anything worthwhile in there. “Right, I’ll check in the kitchen, one of you have a quick check upstairs,” said Luke quietly. “K9, stay where you are for now, but be ready if anyone needs you.”
Luke cautiously approached the door to the kitchen, while Dan, deciding he was braver than Beth, hesitantly snuck up the stairs. She held back a little bit, but didn’t want to let Dan go alone. What help she could possibly provide against a potential rampaging alien monster, which may-or-may-not be in one of the bedrooms, she didn’t know. “Dan, be careful,” she hissed as he approached one of the bedroom doors.
He pushed the door ajar slightly, before turning back to face Beth shaking his head. “There’s nothing in there.”
Beth, feeling a little more confident than before, moved towards the door of the second bedroom. She was still a little hesitant, but tried to avoid making it obvious to Dan; she didn’t want him to think she wasn’t brave. Carefully, she pushed back the door, and slowly entered the room with Dan hot on her heels.
“There's literally nothing here,” she said to Dan, who had moved over to the window.
“Wait,” he said, sounding nervous. “What’s that?”
He was pointing down to what must be the garden below, his arm trembling slightly.
“No, no,” said Sarah Jane, sounding panicked “Not them...”
Zoe had never seen Sarah Jane like this, she wasn’t scared of anything, but these hooded figures had her rattled. “Who are they Sarah Jane?”
“The Dark Horde. One of the deadliest warrior races this side of the Galaxy. They’ve never ventured to Earth before - well, there was this sophisticated simulation a while back.”
“What do we do?” asked Zoe.
“We don’t do anything,” said Sarah Jane. “Not this time. Zoe, take Melody back to the car, and wait there. I’ll deal with this alone, got it?”
“But we could help,” said Zoe, trying to sound like Sarah Jane had no choice.
“Listen to me, I cannot protect you against them. And they’re not to be messed with.”
“I don’t want to leave you,” said Melody, tears welling in her eyes.
“Now Melody, let me tell you. Right now, I need you to be brave, can you do that for me?”
“I-I’ll try,” replied Melody.
“Come on Melody,” said Zoe. “Sarah Jane will be fine.”
The two of them left the bedroom where Sarah Jane was stood, and headed back downstairs. Once Sarah Jane was sure they had left the house, she took out her phone and dialled Luke’s number. He duly answered, “Mum, have you seen them?”
“Yes I have, now listen to me. Tell Beth and Dan to go back to the car, they need to stay out of the way for this to work.”
“Okay,” said Luke, telling the others to go back to the car. “So what’s the plan then?”
“I go out and confront them, and when they’re close enough I’ll give them a taste of the Sonic. That should be enough to send them running.”
“What should I do then? You can’t go out there on your own.”
“You and K9 can sneak around the back, but you hold back, okay? And stay hidden!”
“Okay, Mum. But you be careful.”
“I’ll certainly try. And you do exactly the same. I couldn’t bear the thought of...” she broke off, sounding emotional. “Just be careful.”
“I will. See you in a second.”
“Of course, this will be a piece of cake,” she said, before hanging up.
She adjusted her hair and smoothed her jacket out - she always had to look her best when confronting aliens. “Right then, you can do this Sarah Jane. Oh great, now I’m talking to myself.”
She marched down the stairs confidently, glancing out the front door to make sure Zoe and Melody had gone out back to the car. Before she went out the back of the cottage, she made sure that she had her hand on the Sonic Lipstick, she would only have a small window to work with. Feeling ready, she flung open the back door and marched out into the middle of the large communal cobbled garden. “I address the commander of this battalion under the full authority of the Shadow Proclamation. This is a level five planet, and I request explanation for your presence here,” she stated confidently.
Three of what must have been a few dozen Dark Horde warriors, marched towards her, while the others simply turned to face her. The commander, cloaked in black, stood in front of his compatriots, and observed her for a while. After what seemed like several minutes, the Commander began speaking with the typical metallic croak. “You will lead us to our prize.”
“Your prize? What kind of prize?”
“We have detected a prize of great value. It will lead us to many victories across the galaxy.”
“Yes, I got that thank you,” said Sarah Jane, boldly. “But what is your prize?”
“A weapon. Brought to this planet from a different time. The Kovarian Chapter of the Papal Mainframe created it.”
“The Kovarian Chapter,” said Sarah Jane, the realisation suddenly dawning across her face. Melody.
“Correct, and now you shall lead us to our prize.”
“Oh no I won’t,” she responded, defiantly. “I will not let the Horde get their hands on any kind of weapon. I’ve seen what you’re capable of.”
One of the warriors stood to the side of the Commander spoke, his voice was slightly different to the leader. “Scan complete. Inferior. Eliminate.”
With that, their dialogue was over, and the whole Horde stepped forward, raising their staves and pointing them directly at Sarah Jane. Almost as one they marched forwards, heading straight towards her. She didn’t move, she simply waited. When they were only a few feet away, she pulled out her Sonic and activated it.
Nothing happened. And the Horde continued to march forward.
“Oh god,” said Sarah Jane, terrified.
“Mistress,” shouted K9, having revealed himself. “Activating maximum attack mode.”
He began firing at the Dark Horde, with about a dozen of them diverting their march towards the laser-firing K9. These then separated again, obviously having detected Luke’s presence too.
“Luke, run!” shouted Sarah Jane, almost surrounded. “Get out of here now!”
“Mum!” shouted Luke, being dragged from his hiding spot by a significantly larger Dark Horde warrior.
They threw him down next to Sarah Jane, who pulled him into a hug, sobbing. “Oh Luke, I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”
“Alert! Power levels failing,” said K9, surrounded by several warriors. “Power levels failing.”
K9 continued this report, while Luke looked at Sarah Jane, hugging her tightly. “This wasn’t your fault. You didn’t force me to come here, I’m just glad we’re together.”
“Your demise will be swift,” said the Commander, pointing his staff directly at Sarah Jane and Luke.