“Play it again,” Sarah Jane commanded. Sentinel obliged, and the grainy footage rewinded and played again. And again. And again. Sarah Jane leaned back against her chair, narrowing her eyes, trying to decipher a hidden meaning in one of the most monumental event in Earth’s history, but her results were frustratingly unsatisfactory.
“Even I’m getting bored by this,” Sentinel drawled. “Heaven only knows how you must be feeling.”
“Something isn’t right here…”
“That wasn’t an invitation to bombard me with your life story.”
“Be serious Sentinel, a man has died for this!” Sarah Jane snapped.
There was a robotic hum. Then, Sentinel said, “Getting worked up isn’t gonna make that any easier.”
Sarah Jane sighed, and glanced at the film reel she’d commandeered. Then, she looked at the flickering black and white footage on the computer screen, frozen on a close-up of the rocket. “It just doesn’t add up. Rutledge, Melody, that awful woman — how does this connect to all of them? What’s it all for?”
“You’ll figure it out,” Sentinel assured her. “Just get a grip and take a breather.”
Sarah Jane leaned back into her chair with a huff, unwilling to admit her lack of faith in her abilities to piece together the mystery.
And that was when she heard someone kick down the front door.
“Don’t forget the passports this time, Andrew.”
“Or your toothbrush.”
Andrew Orange looked up at the veiled criticism, and shared an exasperated look with his sons, who struggled to stifle their laughter. “Do I look five?”
Clarissa put her hands on her hips. “Well, ye certainly act like it sometimes.” She raised a hand as soon as Andrew opened his mouth to protest. “Just shut up and pack the bloody luggage!”
“Quit your bellyaching!” Andrew huffed.
Dan fondly shook his head and refocused on his brand new Xbox, a gift from his parents. He had already made rapid progress on Halo 4 in an exceedingly short amount of time, and was determined to complete the game as quickly as possible. The mechanics were a bit too sensitive, but the idea of humanity voyaging into space fascinated him, especially after his recent experiences.
As he became embroiled in a campaign shootout, Dan cast his mind back to the events that had transpired at the start of the month. He remembered the evil soldier and his eyepatch boss, he remembered Melody who now lived in Diamond Way with her crazy neighbours, and he remembered the awe-inspiring Sarah Jane Smith who’d opened up his life to new possibilities. Alien Phauns and sentient watches that presided over royal kingdoms were just a taste of the strangeness there was to explore, and he was excited to discover them.
Yet Dan constantly felt like he was missing something; when he tried to think deeper, however, his mind grew distractingly fuzzy and his arm would sting.
He was jarringly snapped back to reality when the television screen abruptly blinked off. Dan briefly panicked over the thought that he had inadvertently broken the TV, before he noticed Chris standing by the socket with a plug in hand.
“Oi!” Dan cried angrily.
“What?” Chris leered, towering over Dan. “What you gonna do about it?”
Dan gulped, and quickly backed down, never quite willing to take the extra step and oppose Chris because he was afraid of what it would entail.
Chris smirked at the expected reaction, and moved away. “Thought so.”
There was a long, shrill beep of a horn — presumably the taxi — followed by their mother’s hassled cry. “Andy!”
“All right,” Andrew bellowed in return. “I heard you the first time, woman!”
“Well, hurry up then!” Clary said angrily. “You know, if you just stuck to the bleedin’ checklist —”
“I have them now, see?” Dan and Chris shared an awkward glance, already picturing their father waggling the passports triumphantly in their mother’s face. “Stop your fussing! We’re going to be late!”
“Oh, nowyou care,” Clary huffed, but she quickly gave up the pointless fight. “Boys, we’re going!”
Chris shoved past and barrelled out the door. Dan followed at a slower pace, and exited the front door to find his family by the cab. He dutifully obliged when his mother waved him over, keeping a curious eye on his father as he helped to load the luggage into the taxi.
“You be good,” Clary said as she held her son in a tight embrace.
Dan clung to her. “Do you have to go back? It’s been months.”
“Yes, sweetheart. Families still haven’t got justice from Deepwater,” Clary explained gently. She pulled back, and pecked his forehead. “I’ll call you before we board. Don’t spend too much time on that game, now.”
Dan fondly rolled his eyes. “Yes, Mum.”
“Good.” Clarissa spun around to face Chris with a smirk. “My beautiful big boy.”
Chris eyed her warily. “Yeah, whatever, Mum. You can go now.”
Clary laughed mischievously and dove for him. “Come here, you daft thing.”
Dan watched with subdued amusement as Chris protested loudly about the display of affections, steering his mother’s hand away from his styled hair with a whine. Clarissa simply laughed and moved away, skipping to the taxi without a care in the world.
After he’d finished loading the taxi, Andrew ushered them over. “Lads.” He kneeled down and threw an arm around Dan and Chris, pulling them close. “You make sure to behave yourselves. And remember that you’re still grounded. No going out, got it?” He glared pointedly at Chris, who muttered a half-hearted affirmative.
Satisfied, Andrew pulled them both in for a hug, clinging on for longer than he had to. Chris shifted uncomfortably, but Dan granted his father the opportunity, knowing how difficult it was for his parents to leave them both for weeks. Had it been any other way, he was certain they would stay and perform their parental duties more frequently, but he would never fault them for their passion against injustice in the world.
“Love ye both,” Andrew murmured as he pulled away. “Look after yous.”
The taxi driver beeped the horn quite loudly, and Andrew shot a mutinous glare over his shoulder.
“All right, mate, keep your hair on,” he bellowed, pressing a chaste kiss on his sons’ foreheads before hurrying into the taxi. Dan sadly watched as the taxi pulled away, disappearing down the road with his parents.
He slowly turned, almost dreading Chris’ reaction to another bout of free reign, and was surprised to see him striding down the same path. “Where are you going?”
Chris glanced over his shoulder. “Me and the lads are going football, innit?”
“But you’re meant to stay home,” he protested.
“You’re bare wet,” Chris snickered as he also disappeared down the path.
Dan refused to rise to the bait, fully intending to head inside and return to his Halo marathon, when a sudden, powerful gust of wind blindsided him. He spun around just in time to see a blanket of azure light glint alluringly in the distance.
Dan glanced at the open door. He could very easily walk inside and think nothing of it, but then he thought of Sarah Jane’s investigative tendencies and Chris’ insults, and he was slamming the door shut and marching down the path a moment later, determined to prove his brother wrong.
Beth was idly scrolling through Crunchyroll for a suitable anime to spend her day on, briefly pausing on Naruto and wondering if it was as good as her friends constantly suggested, when a frustrated growl caught her attention.
She curiously poked her head out the bedroom door to see Laurel on the steps of their — frankly unimpressive when compared to Sarah Jane’s — attic, glaring down at a series of boxes as if they’d committed a personal crime against her. They probably had, considering Laurel’s specific brand of eccentric.
“What’s up with you?” Beth asked snidely. “Pretending to be a Hollow now?”
“No,” Laurel refuted. “I don’t even know what that is!”
“Mm. Zoe would.”
“Nerds.” Laurel fixed her glare on the attic again. “It’s these stupid boxes!”
“What about them?”
“There’s too many of them!” Laurel declared as she rummaged through the nearest box. “Mum keeps too many things. She’s literally a hoarder.”
“Mum doesn’t keep curlers pretending she’s Daisy from M.I High.” Beth expected a cutting retort for her snide comment, but Laurel was surprisingly quiet. In fact, she was staring at the box with such intensity it caught Beth off-guard. “You okay?”
Laurel reached in and pulled out the box’s contents with shaky hands. “I haven’t seen this in years,” she said softly. Her intense gaze was now fixed on Beth, wary yet curious, almost daring her to react.
But Beth couldn’t. She could only stare numbly.
Cottage Row was the oldest area in the village, and the final remnants of the original settlement. Dan didn’t think much of it (in fact, he found it rather spooky), but his parents felt it was a historical landmark. He considered this as he crept through the forest enclosure that fringed the area, with its towering oak trees and beaten paths, devoid of the telltale stirring of life, and shivered.
There was nothing in the area for miles, save for an old warehouse he often spotted looming in the distance from his bedroom window. As he peered intently at the sky for the strangely familiar blue light, a powerful rush of wind unexpectedly forced him backwards. A deafening whir reverberated around the isolated woodlands, and Dan blindly searched for the source. He looked up just in time to see a sleek silver object hurtle into the sky, disappearing in the blink of an eye. Whatever the unidentified object was, it had disappeared, along with the mysterious light show.
Disappointed, he turned to leave, but something had caught onto the back of his jacket and was holding him in place. Dan struggled and writhed to no avail, spinning around to glare at the offending object, and froze. He squinted. He could see the outline of a figure, but it was vague and transparent, shimmering in the dim sunlight.
On any other day, Dan might have convinced himself that he was imagining it, but he had seen cloaked objects before. He reached out, tentatively, and brushed over a sturdy material.
“What are you?” he asked, fascinated. Suddenly, the figure hurled Dan into the nearest tree with such force he felt the wind escaping his lungs. It loomed over him as he gasped for air, simply watching the struggle. Then, the figure shifted slightly, tapping at its arm. There was a loud beep and suddenly Dan could see a person clad in blue battle armour.
“Half-form,” the figure growled. The upper half of its domed helmet peeled away to reveal… a man who strongly resembled a potato.
Dan frowned, the initial amazement and wonder dimming slightly at the unspectacular sight, until the human potato pulled out a futuristic-looking gun. He froze, breath caught in his throat, staring fearfully down the barrel of the weapon.
The potato creature tilted his head calculatingly. “You do not deny what is before you.”
“I’ve met aliens,” Dan said shakily.
The creature chuckled darkly. “You will take me to Sarah Jane Smith.”
“Sarah Jane?” Dan said before he could stop himself. He winced at the blunder, and quickly scrambled for a distraction. “Who’s asking, her wife?”
Whoever the alien was, he clearly did not have an appreciation for spontaneous comedy. He roughly grabbed Dan by the scruff of his jacket and shoved him forward. “Move,” he barked, digging the gun into his prisoner’s back.
“Okay!” Dan quickly cried out. “I’ll take you to her. Just don’t shoot!”
“The fourth law of battle, half-form — never destroy a prisoner until they’ve outgrown their usefulness,” the creature recited.
Dan breathed a sigh of relief at that. He still had time. “Battle? You’re a soldier?”
“I am Commander Kaagh, formerly of the tenth Sontaran battle fleet,” declared the warrior. Dan shuddered at that. He’d been able to escape Manton with his friends, but he doubted he’d be so lucky with Kaagh, quietly contemplating the death that surely awaited him if he tried to trick his captor.
Kaagh, on the other hand, permitted the mewling cub to guide him to the current location of his sworn enemy, contemplating the delicious taste of victory which was swimming on the winds towards his war-bloodied lips.
Eventually, they reached 53 Diamond Way, and Dan hesitantly knocked on the door after some prompting. Kaagh impatiently pushed him aside and kicked down the door, raising his gun to obliterate any hostile opponents.
“You’re a Sontaran,” a tiny voice stated. Kaagh and Dan looked down to see a bemused Melody. She and Kaagh regarded each other curiously, both seemingly perplexed by the other’s appearance, until Kaagh snapped himself out of his wondrous stupor and returned to the mission at hand.
“Where is Sarah Jane Smith?” demanded the brute.
Melody, to her credit, didn’t even flinch.
“She’s upstairs, wh —”
Melody was swept aside with mighty efficiency from Kaagh, who stomped up each step with greater and greater strength in order to announce his presence, uninterested that Dan used the opportunity to bolt out the door. Upon reaching the landing, Kaagh bellowed his great enemy’s name aloud and investigated the closest room. It contained a small assortment of paraphernalia — though far less than he expected of Sarah Jane Smith — but it seemed to be empty.
He searched room after room methodically, seeking out the scoundrel who had tarnished his name. When his search failed, he roared in frustration and stomped back down the stairs, louder and louder with each step, until he violently jumped down at the bottom. Melody was still by the broken door, staring up at him with wide eyes, the curiosity replaced by a sudden fear.
Kaagh regarded her. “The female has escaped, but she will return for you.”
“How do you know?”
“The first law of battle: think like your enemy,” Kaagh drawled, raising his gun at the girl. “The second law of battle: anticipate them.”
He fired the weapon.
Sarah Jane fled from her house at full pelt towards the shops. The shops had been her contingency plan in case she came under attack in her own home. She had arranged for an escape route to be built that led from her new attic down to a short tunnel in the garden. So the moment that she had heard noisy stomping on the stairs, she had made for the exit.
“No, you shouldn’t do things like that when I’m not paying atten — Oh! Hello Sarah Jane!”
Sarah Jane skidded to a halt in front of her old friends and neighbours, the Chandras, and used the opportunity to catch her breath. “Oh, hello Haresh, Gita — sorry, must rush, I’m in an awful hurry —”
“Nonsense, my darling!” Gita interjected. “You’re always in such a rush. Oh! You’ll never guess where we’ve just been, will she Haresh? No she won’t, we’ve just been visiting some places to set up my new shop. Can you believe it? Oh, it only feels like yesterday I was setting up my first shop at Park Vale. Doesn’t time fly? We even visited Ark Industries, just to see if we could catch a glimpse of that Noah man. He’s quite dishy, isn’t he?”
“Yes, I really need to go,” Sarah Jane finally interrupted, already making her getaway. “Get yourselves to safety. And lock your doors!”
“Did you see that?” Gita breathed as Sarah Jane disappeared down the road. “So cheeky!”
“I wonder why she asked us to lock our doors,” Haresh mused.
Gita rolled her eyes. “It’s because there’s probably another alien on the loose, Haresh. Didn’t you learn anything from Prince Pickles?”
“Who on Earth is Prince Pickles?”
“The watch! Honestly.” Gita dragged Haresh along. “Now come on. We don’t want to get blown up as well, do we?”
Beth sat alone in the living room, staring down at the fragile photograph clutched between her fingertips. She flipped it over and over in her hands, tracing a finger over the bright grin, willing herself to feel something. Her emotions had always been a bit of a helter-skelter, wildly varying without rhyme or reason. She could hit her lowest ebb in one moment, and suddenly be on Cloud Nine the next.
Now she just felt numb.
She studied the stupid photograph, and the stupid man, trying to pull the memory for her brain. When had it been taken? Why had it been taken? Had she been present? Why wasn’t she in the picture? Why wasn’t Laurel, her mum?
Why was he so happy?
Beth was startled out of her thoughts by a loud series of successive knocks on the front door. Her mother’s shift didn’t end until six, and Laurel had fled ages ago to hang out with her mates; neither of them were prone knockers.
Beth stalked over to the door, and flung it open. Before she could get a good glimpse of her guest, he invited himself in, as usual.
“Beth!” Dan began to blubber rapidly, recounting the day’s events in such a haste that Beth wasn’t able to get a word in edgeways. It wasn’t a new experience, but it was usually Zoe she struggled with.
When Dan finally concluded his tale, Beth interjected with a curt, “Mm.”
Dan suddenly whipped his head around in alarm. “Is Laurel here?”
“No, she went out.”
His shoulders momentarily sagged, before tensing again. “What do we do? Sarah Jane could be in trouble!”
Beth pondered the question for a moment, before the answer hit her. “Zoe.”
Zoe firmly face-planted her desk, glaring up at the incomplete jumble of sentences taunting her from the laptop screen. Possessed pigeons and military soldiers were easy to handle, but writer’s block was a different beast altogether. She eyed the dancing words, considering how difficult it would be to convince her father she’d ‘accidentally’ dropped her laptop down the stairs and required a new one.
She was in the midst of this important self-reflection when there was a steady knock on her bedroom door, followed by an obnoxious cry. Zoe stomped over and flung the door open, expecting to see her annoying brother.
“What?” she demanded before truly laying eyes upon the intruder. Her fierce glare faltered slightly when she realised it was only Dan, accompanied by a surly-looking Beth; she quickly regained her composure, still quite miffed they interrupted her important debate. “Who let you in?!”
“Finn,” Beth replied. “He’s gone out,” she added when Zoe peered over her shoulder, probably expecting to find the person-in-question loitering at the back.
“Which probably isn’t a good idea,” Dan said nervously.
Zoe looked to him expectantly, with an expression aiming for quizzical, but probably coming across as terrifying judging from Dan’s horrified reaction. She listened to the summary with mounting wonder and excitement, practically bouncing down the stairs the moment he’d concluded his tale. “Come on.”
“Come on where?” Dan asked.
“But that thing could still be there!” Dan protested.
“Exactly,” Zoe replied as if it were obvious. She suddenly paused halfway down the stairs, ignoring the ensuing protests as her two friends crashed right into her, whirling around with a troubled expression. “Where’s Melody?”
Melody startled awake with a shuddering gasp. A searing pain shot through her temple as she attempted to discern her surroundings, struggling through a disoriented haze. She was in a darkened room, with rusting pipes and an everlasting drip.
Melody craned her neck to acknowledge the source of the voice. Through the piercing gloom, she spotted the Sontaran from earlier, stoically staring at her. “Who are you?” she asked.
“I am Kaagh. You've resisted the stun effect faster than any prisoner before you,” Kaagh tilted his head admiringly. “You are… extraordinary.”
“Where's Sarah Jane?” Melody asked hesitantly.
“A fugitive,” said the Sontaran dismissively. “She will be located, and then she will pay for her meddling.”
“No.” Melody tried to lunge forward, not entirely sure what she would do, but quickly discovered that she couldn’t. Despite her best efforts, her limbs remained locked in place, a wave of dizzying nausea leaving her breathless.
“You may have resisted the effects faster than most,” Kaagh chuckled, “but even you are not completely immune. There is nothing you can do.”
Melody struggled for a few more seconds, but eventually slumped back against the wall in defeat. The panic and stress started to overwhelm her, and she couldn’t help but cry quietly into her hands.
“You mourn the female?” Kaagh said slowly, disbelieving. He stormed up to Melody with a furious glower. “A warrior does not shed tears.”
“I don’t want to be,” Melody sniffled.
“A warrior does not designate their position,” Kaagh retorted. He almost sounded consoling. “They are born into it. I was bred for warfare, as were you. I can see the mark of a General in your eyes.”
Melody tentatively raised her head. “A General?”
“You have the potential to ravage your enemies from the front lines.” The Sontaran sniffed deeply. “You are a commander, like me.”
The thought upset Melody. “Why do people have to fight?”
“We eliminate scourges like the Rutan and the Mire before they pose a threat. We are heroes.” He studied Melody curiously. “But you hesitate.”
“I don’t want to fight,” Melody admitted meekly.
“Sarah Jane Smith fights,” Kaagh pointed out smugly, effectively silencing the stunned Melody. She hadn’t thought of it like that.
Satisfied, Kaagh drew back and lumbered over to his contraption. He was dissatisfied with the crude equipment his suppliers had provided him, but there wasn’t anything to be done. The fifth law of battle was to use any weapons presented to him, no matter how inferior. For the glory of the Sontaran empire, he would avenge the Tenth Sontaran Battle Fleet and reclaim his title.
Melody looked up, and eyed the machine worriedly, silently praying for Sarah Jane to save the day again before it reached completion.
Zoe had only ever broken into a house once before, and she was planning to break into the same one in the same way if things went sideways. Fortunately (but disappointingly), the door to 53 Diamond Way had been snapped from its hinges, allowing for easy entry. Dan was just relieved to be spared the embarrassment, while Beth focused on other matters.
The trio filed into the mysterious house. Dan and Zoe surveyed the hallway, while Beth hurried upstairs.
“Everything looks normal,” Dan said.
Zoe rolled her eyes. “Yeah, apart from the broken door on the floor.” She waved a dismissive hand when Dan attempted to joke about her inadvertent rhyme. “I don’t see Melody.”
“House is empty,” Beth informed them as she returned from the upper floors. “So’s the attic.”
“So he took her,” Dan said worriedly. “And Sarah Jane’s missing. What do we do?”
Zoe pursed her lips and crossed her arms to delay answering, unwilling to admit she didn’t have anything to provide.
“Oi! You three!”
The loud voice caught them off-guard. The trio spun around to see a familiar mass of whirling colours flicker and dance on the television screen.
“Oh, it’s you,” Zoe said tonelessly.
“I do not appreciate your tone,” Sentinel said angrily. “I deserve to be greeted like the amazing figure in society that I truly am.”
“Sure,” Zoe murmured in bemusement as the teenagers stepped into the living room.
“Is Sarah Jane okay?” Dan asked worriedly.
“Hello, Dan, nice to see you too,” Sentinel grumbled. “She’s fine.”
“Where is she, then?” Zoe demanded.
“A toilet in Sainsbury’s.”
“What’s she doing there?!”
“What are they doing there?!” Sarah Jane glared down at her phone. “You were meant to keep them away!”
“Don’t get on my case - I’m just the messenger!” Sentinel squawked.
Sarah Jane sighed. She would have to deal with her new acquaintances later. “Just keep them in the house, and get me more information on the alien.”
Sentinel whirred for a moment. “My scans indicate that it’s a Sontaran.”
Sarah Jane felt like her world had been tilted on its axis. She was petrified of the Sontarans and their bloodthirsty ways. They were often the first to plague her nightmares, and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to shake them off.
If the Sontarans were in Foxgrove, they were all in danger. Sarah Jane thought of little Melody, trapped and fearful in their clutches, and she felt a surge of determination course through her.
“Can you tell me if there are any more?”
“I don’t have enough data on Sontaran anatomy to reach a conclusion,” Sentinel explained. "But my reasonable assumption would be that the Sontaran has allies. They frequently travel in packs."
“Right,” Sarah Jane huffed indignantly. “Sentinel, I want you on surveillance and setting up defences. We have to be ready for anything. And keep those three inside!”
“They don’t like that.”
“Not my problem.” She stepped out of the toilet stall, only paying half-attention. This had turned into a critical operation, and she had to reach the cover of safety to instigate her next move.
She paused mid-step when she noticed a little girl beside the sink, staring up at her with wide eyes.
“Hello,” Sarah Jane said warmly. “What’s your name?”
The girl regarded her suspiciously. “Joy.”
“Make sure to lock up when you get home, Joy.” Sarah Jane winked conspiratorially at her, and promptly marched out the door.
“I keep telling you — we can help!”
“And I keep telling you to stop arguing with the designated driver, kid!”
Dan helplessly listened to Zoe and Sentinel’s back-and-forth argument. They had been ordered to remain inside the house, and while he and Beth accepted the command without complaint, Zoe had reacted quite negatively.
“What even is a... Sontaran?” she demanded.
“The Sontarans are a clone race of warriors dedicated to their plans of conquest,” Sentinel explained. “Not the nicest people. Sarah Jane’s met them before, and she knows how dangerous they are, which is why you have to sit out.”
“That wasn’t an invitation!” Sentinel snapped, promptly disappearing from the screen. Zoe exhaled sharply, spinning around to complain, but faltered. Beth was sullenly gazing out the window, her expression guarded, and Dan was fidgeting on the staircase. She turned towards Beth, hesitated, and approached Dan instead.
“Why are we just sitting here?” she complained.
“Does it matter?” Dan murmured.
“Yeah, it does,” Zoe said firmly. “What’s wrong with you, anyway?”
“I’m thinking about Melody.”
Zoe scoffed. “We’re gonna find her.”
“You don’t know that,” Dan sighed, tugging at his hair with a mixture of guilt and worry. It was his fault that the Sontaran had taken Melody away in the first place. If he’d just thought on his feet, he could have steered her to safety.
Zoe regarded Dan awkwardly, unsure of what to say. When nothing sprang to mind, she punched his arm in frustration. “Get a grip. We’ve got other things to deal with.”
“Anything could have happened to her, though! She could be dead!”
Zoe scowled, growing tired of Dan’s fatalistic attitude. Before she had a chance to yell at him — or punch him — the kaleidoscopic colours swirling around the television screen suddenly transformed into a flashing scarlet display.
“Critical threat detected,” Sentinel blared, capturing the attention of all three teenagers. Once they fully registered the implications, they shared a worried look. A stray thought crossed their minds simultaneously: where was Sarah Jane?
Kaagh switched on the completed machine. It was his very favourite type of machine in the whole universe, because it produced his very favourite type of weaponry, and it filled him with glee that he was looking upon such a glorious armament. The attack on the Planet Earth would shortly be underway, and the humans would have no chance to resist at all; soon, Earth would belong to the Sontaran Empire, and the war against the Enemies of the Sontarans could be won at last!
Melody looked upon the machine in horror. She knew exactly what was coming out of it, and she knew exactly what it meant for humanity. She wished that she could warn Sarah Jane and the others as to what Kaagh was attempting to do, but she was still unable to move, still restrained by Kaagh, and was therefore helpless to stop him.
If only Sarah Jane knew what was coming…
The front door of 53 Diamond Way burst open. Zoe, Dan and even Beth were startled, but quickly relaxed when Sarah Jane marched in with Gita and Haresh in tow.
“Stay here,” Sarah Jane said curtly, pointedly staring at Zoe when she made to rise from the sofa. “I need to do this alone.”
“Why?” Zoe demanded. “What’s going on?”
“If Sentinel’s readings are correct, we’re all in danger, so I need all of you to stay here.”
Zoe did not relent. “Where are you going?”
“To fetch something from the attic,” Sarah Jane said coolly. “And then I’m going to call for help and get Melody.”
Dan stiffed. “How do you —”
“Sentinel told me,” Sarah Jane explained, her expression softening marginally. “It’s okay, Dan.”
And with that, she hurried up the stairs, leaving a bewildered group in her wake.
“We can’t just sit here!” Zoe declared, scant minutes after Sarah Jane had departed.
Gita nodded sympathetically. “What do you think we can do?”
Zoe paused, turning to Beth and Dan for support, but they were both distracted by their inner turmoil. She huffed. “Something! It’s better than sitting here.”
“Sarah wouldn’t keep you here without good reason,” Gita assured her. “She has your best interests at heart, my darling.”
“Does she?” Haresh murmured sourly, but he was quickly silenced by a withering glare from Gita.
Beth suddenly perked up. “What’s that noise?”
The group fell silent, listening out for any disturbances with bated breath. Suddenly, the living room door splintered from its hinges and fell to the floor, revealing an intimidating looking figure in battle-clad armour and a blue visor.
Gita shrieked in surprise as Haresh protectively swept her and the children to one side. The Sontaran stalked towards them, and raised its gun. They didn't stand a chance.
For the first time since those awful events on Bannerman Road, Gita wondered whether she was going to die.
Sarah Jane had been faced with two options: defend the village or call for help. She’d fastidiously picked the second, if only for the reason that she wasn’t completely faithful in her abilities to repel an entire Sontaran army without Melody coming to harm. She had tried calling Kate — who appeared to be stranded in Peru — and then Osgood, but she and the remainder of UNIT were embroiled in another case. Finally, Sarah Jane turned to the final option; her last resort.
“This number doesn’t even exist,” Sentinel said petulantly, an odd tone of voice for a critical operation.
“Of course it exists,” Sarah Jane said shortly, glaring at the Chandras' television screen. “It’s the Doctor’s number! When you first came to me, you said you could contact anyone no matter where they were in the universe. Now call him!”
“Sarah Jane, look ou—”
The television had switched unexpectedly off, along with all of the lights in the street. Darkness was beginning to blanket the sky, for it was sunset, and Sarah Jane realised that this would soon mean that the enemy had a distinct advantage, and were capable of launching a surprise attack.
The television shattered as it was hit by what looked like a bolt of lightning. Sarah Jane turned around to see, an inch from her nose, the end of a Sontaran gun, with Sontaran Commander Kaagh at the helm.
She felt her blood run cold. “You!”
Melody was absolutely terrified. Had she outgrown her use as a hostage? For Kaagh was staring at her, holding his gun up against her head, and licking his lips.