The Wrath of Kaagh Part Two Written by Ricky Star
Professor Joan Hogam could only be described as a finnicky woman. Every since she was a child, people had commented on her fastidious nature. Even now, as a hard-working woman in her seventies, she monitored everything with steely grey eyes, scouring for any discrepancies in her reports. Joan was meticulous in her approach to research, which was why her latest results baffled her.
“That can’t be right,” she muttered, leaning towards the monitor, trying to make sense of the readings: a sudden spike in extraterrestrial energy in so little time. She was so wrapped up in her intrigue that she didn’t notice her assistant burst into the room until he spoke.
“Professor Hogam!” he exclaimed, sweaty and out of breath.
“Hm?” Professor Hogam swivelled to face him. “Yes? What is it, Cribbins?”
“I don’t mean to alarm you, Professor, but we’ve had an alert — there’s an invasion underway!”
“Where?” Professor Hogam said urgently.
Professor Hogam sprang to her feet immediately, and hurried out of the room to fetch her weapon. So it was finally time…
Melody looked at the machine spewing out Kaagh’s world-destroying weapons, who stared back at her momentarily before they marched off to their missions. The many identical Kaaghs would be a foe that the Earth could not deal with. The paralysis seemed to be wearing off slightly, but Melody was still incapable of moving herself in any practical manner. Her determination to reach the cloning machine was absolute, but she was totally unable to do anything at all.
Melody attempted to lunge at the machine, but merely fell to her knees at Kaagh’s feet. Kaagh decided that this treachery was enough to justify putting Melody to death at last, and raised his gun to her head. He licked his lips, tasting the delicious glory of the kill. He was so ready to pull the trigger. It would be so easy…
Gita wasn’t ready to die. She wasn’t. She had things to do. People to look after. People who depended on her. She needed to keep her Bloomin’ Lovely chain open, and expand it like she’d always dreamed of, apart from that time with the mermaid, or the firefighter, or --
Gita didn’t have time for this train of thought! Other people’s lives were in danger! She had to stop this monstrosity!
“Take me instead!”
Kaagh had not expected this. He had merely planned to kill all the humans. But his honour nagged at him: could he refuse a fellow soldier the opportunity of a glorious sacrifice to protect their kin? He decided that he could not. Kaagh resolved only to kill Gita.
Kaagh jammed the gun in her face, but Sarah Jane didn’t flinch. She refused to give him the satisfaction, even if she had to fight every impulse in her body. Kaagh’s finger flitted around the trigger, and Sarah Jane effectively betrayed herself by furtively glancing down at it.
Kaagh laughed. “Even now, you show weakness, female.”
“And even now, you still underestimate me, Kaagh!”
Sarah Jane raised her trump card: a small laser gun, loaded with two charges. She loathed to use it, but previous circumstances had forewarned her to always keep a last resort on hand. Contrary to popular belief, the gun fired a small electric ball which rebounded in the air and smashed straight into the Sontaran’s probic vent, knocking him out cold. Sarah Jane confiscated the weapon, and took a moment to revel smugly in the groans of her fallen enemy.
“I don’t know how you got out, but I promise that I’ll stop you,” she warned before hurrying out of the house, but she did not feel confident in her vow. There was likely to be far more than one meagre Sontaran roaming about now, and as the plea to the Doctor had failed, it seemed that Sarah Jane would need to at least attempt to tackle this problem herself. An army of Sontarans would smother her in an instant, however; she needed all the help she could get.
Conversely, the Sontarans were brutes who would not hesitate to kill her a second time, and Zoe, Beth and Dan were still so new to her life and everything it entailed. Could she really throw them into the deep end with an invasion?
Sarah Jane shook her head and dashed across the road. There was no time for such a dilemma. She ran into her house, and belatedly realised her living room door was unhinged. Darting into her living room, Sarah Jane aimed and fired the final charge in her weapon before the Sontaran could so much as turn. The discharge ricocheted off the walls and struck the alien in the probic vent, instantly disabling him.
Everyone stared up at her with wide eyes, and that’s when Sarah Jane made a snap decision.
“Gita, Haresh — you stay here. The rest of you come with me. We’re going to stop this.”
Zoe and Dan loyally stepped forward immediately — Sarah Jane had to commend them on their unwavering bravery — but Beth hesitated.
“I can’t,” she announced sadly. It was all too much today. Zoe and Dan glanced at her sympathetically, fully aware of her feelings, and Sarah Jane simply nodded, before briskly ushering the pair out the door.
Haresh and Gita worriedly glanced at Beth, who had retreated back to her position on the window to stare outwards, and then at each other. They were concerned, but neither knew Beth well enough to ask her about it, so they resolved to let Beth approach them when she was comfortable.
“We’ve had more sightings of those boys in blue over at Cottage Row, Sarge.”
“Right,” Sergeant Slipper, a greying, portly man, grumbled, staring mournfully at his unopened box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. He gently placed them on the desk with a warning look. “I’ll go take a look. Don’t even think about it.”
Begrudgingly, Sergeant Slipper ambled out of the Foxgrove Village police station, mentally preparing himself for the inevitable headache of an encounter that awaited him. He reached his police car, fidgeting with his rumpled uniform, when a voice called after him.
“Sarge!” Eric Smith jogged to catch up, peering up at him with wide eyes. “I wanted to run something by you.”
“Not now, I’m busy.” Slipper moved to open his car, before turning back around with a patronising stare. “Shouldn’t you be on desk duty, Smith?”
“But it’s about those boys in blue —”
“Quit calling them that,” Slipper grumbled. “They’re just a bunch of overexcited kids in costumes.”
“But they’re starting to hurt people!” Eric protested. “Mr Conglee was reported to have been shot in his house! Teachers in the Rose Gardens park, pensioners at the village hall!”
“We’ve got teams on dispatch, we’ll handle it,” Slipper responded shortly. “A few rowdy kids is nothing. Half of them will go missing by the end of the month, anyway.”
“I want to help!”
“You’re not even on duty today, junior. Go home. Be with your wife.”
A flicker of uncertainty crossed Eric’s expression, but he quickly schooled it. “But I can lead a team, get people to safety —”
“What team?” Slipper scoffed. “We’re stretched thin as is.”
“Children are in danger!”
“Children?” Slipper spluttered. “Look around you, lad — we’re all in bloody danger! It’s all very well bleating on about helping the few, but that doesn’t stop them from getting butchered when even more of those… deranged military lunatics storm the village!”
“I thought they were a few rowdy kids?”
Slipper slammed his fist against the car. “Don’t get smart with me now, lad. I was a fully fledged officer while you were still in grammar school. The best way to go about things is to tackle the root of the problem head-on, not faffing about with kiddies. You get more appreciation that way.”
“Glory hunter,” Eric muttered under his breath.
Slipper rounded on him angrily. “What d’you say, son?”
Fortunately for Eric, a navy blue Mini Cooper parked beside them, and a woman regarded them sternly. “I hardly think intimidation will help your case.”
Slipper ogled her in utter bewilderment. “Who the hell are you?”
“Sarah Jane Smith,” the woman said in a manner of introduction. “And you, Sergeant Slipper, have no idea what you’re getting yourself into.”
“Is that right,” he grunted. “Look, miss, this is a police matter, so unless you have something to report to the police —”
“Listen to me,” Sarah Jane interrupted. “Those soldiers that have been sighted around the village are dangerous, with more on the way. And your men are only going to get hurt if you keep obstructing them.”
“Well, if they’re as dangerous as you say, we can hardly stand by,” Slipper retorted.
Sarah Jane tutted. “You haven’t a clue what we’re dealing with.”
“’We’?” Slipper scoffed. “Look, Miss Smith —”
“Does UNIT ring a bell?” Sarah Jane continued before Slipper could elaborate on his sudden pale pallour. “That’s who you will have to deal with if you keep interfering, Sergeant. There are things going on you are ill-prepared for. Let us handle it, and stay well back.”
Slipper could only gape and stutter in shock.
“Trust me, skipper,” Zoe said as she leaned against the window. “She’s taken down worse than you.”
Slipper glared at her mutinously. “Forest dweller,” he spat with contempt.
Zoe waved cheerily at him. “Got any doughnuts on you?”
“Zoe?” Eric finally spoke up, staring at his niece with open confusion. “What are you doing there?”
“That’s why we’re here,” Sarah Jane interjected, staring at Eric meaningfully. “Mr Smith, I need you.”
“Jump in,” Zoe ordered.
“Hang on, why d’you need his help and not mine?” Slipper demanded, tugging at his lapels obnoxiously. “I am far more experienced with these matters, if I say so myself.”
Zoe shared an eye-roll with Dan, who asked, “What matters?”
“Well…” Slipper trailed off, stumped.
“I need someone competent, Sergeant Slipper,” Sarah Jane said airily, letting the meaning hang in the air as Eric jumped into the passenger seat.
“Why, you…!” Slipper huffed in outrage once the barb sunk in, but Sarah Jane drove off before he had the chance to curse her.
Kaagh’s finger had been trembling on the trigger for nearly a minute now, and Melody was beginning to wonder whether she might survive after all. He had seemed to determined to kill her, but he suddenly seemed to have become incapable. There were still many replicas stomping out of the machine and grabbing weapons in order to enslave and destroy humanity, but they all ignored Kaagh Prime and his failure to kill one little girl.
Melody had no idea what to do, but her paralysis was in a significant recession, and it seemed perfectly possible that she would be able to move soon — or even that she could already move. However, she did not dare; the slightest movement might finally force Kaagh to pull the trigger.
Kaagh did not know why he was unable to kill the girl. He wanted to. He wanted to taste the blood, and the sheer exhilaration of sport. Yet there was something different about this puny half form — an air of superiority that he couldn’t quite place.
Kaagh grappled with himself, wanting nothing more than to pull the trigger. He ordered his finger to “puuuuuush” in his mind, but it would not budge, and he was beginning to feel extremely frustrated. Of what value was a Sontaran who was incapable of killing an enemy?
Melody remained rooted to the spot for what felt like an age, and as she remained there, every bone in her body began to urge her to move. The desire almost consumed her, and yet she was petrified to act upon it; to move would be to risk death at the hands of not only Kaagh Prime, but the dozens of others coming out of the machine in mighty swathes. But it gnawed at her. She felt absolutely compelled to act — and not only to act, but to do something meaningful. To save the world.
Melody sprang up, surprised by her own ability to do so, and rushed to the machine. Grabbing one of the guns on the production line, she shot at the whirring contraption numerous times, stunned by the refined easiness of the action. It was almost as if she’d trained for this, but when she tried to think back, her mind grew irritatingly hazy.
Kaagh raised his gun so that it followed her, but remained totally unable to shoot for reasons that he could not understand, even as the machine shattered and broke. In his fury, he turned and shot dead three of the Kaagh duplicates. The duplicates froze, staring at him in horror, their basic programming demanding that they react to the situation, but they remained rooted to the spot, unable to shoot their commander or an insignificant child.
Seizing her chance, Melody turned and sprinted out the door, the enraged bellows reverberating off the walls as she ran.
Sarah Jane pushed the newly-zapped door open, and stepped through, closely flanked by Zoe, Dan and Eric.
“What is that thing?” Eric asked nervously.
“Sonic lipstick,” Sarah Jane explained.
“’Course it is.”
“Why are we here?” Dan asked. Sarah Jane had shepherded the group into a quaint, unassuming two-storey building in the middle of nowhere, and was leading them down a narrow corridor with crumbling flakes of wallpaper plastering their path. “I thought we were gonna stop the Sontarans?”
Eric narrowed his eyes. “The what?”
“We are,” Sarah Jane assured him. “But we can’t do that without special measures.”
“Are we gonna kill them?” Zoe asked curiously. Eric sharply glared at Sarah Jane, who looked away.
“Normal weapons won’t pierce their armour,” Sarah Jane deflected. They reached the end of the corridor. She raised the sonic lipstick again and zapped the wall. To everyone else’s amazement, the wall split into half and parted to reveal a large, white room the size of an ampitheatre.
“Huh.” Zoe peered at the new room with wide eyes. “Bigger on the inside.”
Sarah Jane smiled at that. “UNIT depot 1940, designated Base Shaw,” she explained. “One of their major storage units for scientific advancements. Not quite the Black Archive, but I don’t want to push my luck a second time.”
“Why’s it in Essex?” Dan wondered.
“More to the point, what’s UNIT?” Eric interjected.
“They have facilities everywhere,” Sarah Jane said, ignoring the second question entirely. “This just happens to be the closest. Now, the three of you wait here.”
“What?” Zoe reacted instantly. “But we can help!”
“You are,” Sarah Jane insisted. “Wait for me here. If things don’t go as planned, I need you close.” She turned to Eric. “Keep them safe, please.”
Eric nodded determinedly, grabbing Zoe’s arm and hauling her back when she tried to protest.
Sarah Jane nodded, and stepped further into the building. As quietly as possible, she crept forward, making sure to keep to the walls. She flipped her scanner watch open, ready to scan the building, when a woman and two guards sauntered into the large room.
“You don’t have to sneak around, you know,” the woman called out when Sarah Jane attempted to shroud herself. “We knew you and your friends were here the moment you stepped through the door. Our alarm system is state of the art” — she pointed at a sleek panel affixed to the wall above Sarah Jane’s head — “well, state of the art in our human terms, at least.”
Sarah Jane gritted her teeth, and stepped away from her makeshift cover with a raised head.
The woman traced her movements with a sneer. “Oh, children!” she cried out. “Come in, come in! You too, Mr Policeman!” When nobody stepped through, she raised a hand, and the guards dutifully raised their guns. “Now.”
“Do as she says,” Sarah Jane called out. Reluctantly, Zoe, Dan and Eric trudged into the room, moving instinctively to stand by Sarah Jane.
“Well, that’s made my job easier,” the woman commented. “Clean execution.”
“That’s not a nice way to treat your guests,” Sarah Jane said calmly. “Although I suppose that’s UNIT all over.”
“UNIT?” the woman burst out laughing. “My dear, we’re not UNIT.”
Sarah Jane faltered, taken aback by the news. “You’re not?”
“Perish the thought!” She shook her head, amused. “Goodness me. No, we’re members of the United Nations. We privately bought this building off UNIT years ago. They were more than happy to let it go after the changeover.”
“And you didn’t leave a paper trail,” Sarah Jane noted.
“Of course. We’re not amateurs.” If anything, the woman seemed to pride herself in her appearance. Her grey hair was wrapped up in a tight bun, her lab coat was immaculate, and her vintage spectacles seemed to be more stylish than practical.
“Why are you telling us this?” Eric asked.
The woman shrugged. “It hardly matters to me, you’ll be dead sooner or later. Besides, I’ve always wanted to monologue.”
“Weirdo,” Zoe muttered, before considering. “What’s it like?”
“Not as fulfilling as I imagined,” the woman admitted. “Why are you here?”
“I think you know why we’re here, Professor Hogam,” Sarah Jane spoke up.
“So, you know of me,” Hogam said. “I’m flattered.”
“Cambridge graduate. You chose an… eccentric field of study, before going on to work for the UN, apparently. You’re said to be quite bold and conscientious. A woman who gets results.”
“Please do keep going,” Hogam breathed.
“Paranoid, vain,” Sarah Jane continued archly. “Prone to bouts of jealousy and petty theft.”
Professor Hogam raised a hand. “Yes, you can stop right there.”
“I don’t think you should annoy her…” Dan said worriedly, eyeing the raised guns with trepidation.
“You’re also said to be quite prepared,” Sarah Jane continued anyway, “and I have no doubt you’ve already heard of the Sontaran invasion, just as I have no doubt that you’ve prepared a contingency — presumably with stolen technology from Dr Shaw and her hard work!”
Hogam studied her with a calculating gleam. “Who are you?”
“My name is Sarah Jane Smith.”
“Oh, well that answers that!” Professor Hogam smiled at her compatriots. “Kill them all.”
Melody blindly sprinted to the forest, spurred on by the thought of Sarah Jane waiting for her. The factory that she’d been held captive in was far behind her, and she could hear the Sontaran troops in the distance. She cautiously followed the noise, ducking between trees and shrubbery, in the hopes that they would lead her back to Sarah Jane and her friends.
Eventually, Melody got close enough to see a battalion of troops rushing to their glorious battle, and felt a small sense of relief when she saw the village. One step closer to Diamond Way.
Steadying her frayed nerves with a deep breath, Melody exited her cover and ran.
Beth was still sat by the windowsill, even as Haresh and Gita nervously tried to keep themselves occupied with little tasks. Eventually, they grew so worried that they renounced their earlier decision and carefully edged towards the motionless girl.
Haresh cleared his throat, and sternly said, “move away from the window now.”
“It’s for your own safety, my darling,” Gita added quickly, briefly glaring at Haresh in disbelief, before returning to her sunny smile. “You wouldn’t want to get spotted by the Sontarans, would you?”
She sighed in relief when Beth conceded, but was stunned when she realised the girl was crying. She rushed over immediately. “Whatever’s the matter?”
“I dunno,” Beth admitted, staring down at the tightly clutched photograph in her hands. There was a man there that Gita did not recognise. “I dunno. He’s so happy, and he shouldn’t be…”
“Who is it?” Gita asked.
“My dad,” Beth breathed. “He’s my dead — my dad, and he’s dead.”
“Oh, my darling,” Gita sighed, pulling her into a tight embrace, all too familiar with the feelings of losing a father. “This is never easy, I know.”
“Why’s he so happy?” Beth said angrily. “Why’s he so happy when he’s dead and… why am I bloody crying?” She swiped at her tears.
“It’s okay,” Gita cooed. “I’ve got you.”
“But it’s my fault,” Beth sobbed.
“You mustn’t think like that!”
“You don’t get it,” Beth huffed in frustration, pulling away from Gita. “It’s my fault.”
“Move away from the window,” Haresh suddenly ordered.
“Haresh!” Gita reprimanded with a glare. “Now is not the time!”
“No,” Haresh said, suddenly very quiet. “We have to move now.”
Gita followed his gaze out the window, and felt her blood run cold. A group of Sontarans were storming along Diamond Way, bursting down doors and yelling at hysterical residents. One of them was unnervingly close to Sarah Jane’s house. Gripped by terror, she protectively grabbed Beth by the arm and hurried after Haresh, who led them upstairs.
They had taken shelter in the bathroom, which Beth had protested at, when they heard something bound into the downstairs hallway, followed by a guttural roar.
A Sontaran was in the house, and it had just discovered its fallen comrade.
“You realise there is no turning back?” Neerh said.
“A Sontaran always keeps an oath of vengeance,” Kaagh replied firmly. “We will battle in our new stronghold, in the piteous human village known as Foxgrove.”
“And what of the humans?”
“Irrelevant,” Kaagh scoffed. “They cannot stop us. And after we have fought to the death, our surviving troops will enslave them. Sontar-ha.”
“An admirable notion for a traitor,” Neerh scoffed. “I will accept your challenge. We shall converge in a matter of minutes outside of our enemy’s place of residence.”
“Very well,” Kaagh conceded, and watched as Neerh and those who chose to follow his cause trooped out of the warehouse.
“Commander Kaagh,” spoke up another clone. “We’ve detected an unusual surge of activity in a neighbouring area. Potential weapons plausible.”
“Weapons?” Kaagh said thoughtfully. He had learned that the humans were surprisingly resilient, and his benefactors had warned him that this was a possibility. “Very well, I shall go investigate. You are in charge of the battle until my return.”
“Very well,” the Sontaran bowed subserviently. Kaagh charged his weapon, and stormed out of the facility, relishing the blood that was sure to be shed.
“Now just one moment!” Sarah Jane held up the buzzing sonic lipstick with a confident grin. Dan perked up, hopeful that she had a plan to save them from the perilous situation.
“What’s that?” Professor Hogam tilted her head curiously. “What have you planned?”
“If you harm either of the children, I will not hesitate to bring this facility crashing to the ground.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Professor Hogam said.
“Wouldn’t I?” Sarah Jane challenged.
“I know of you. The stories decree that you let your enemies live.” Professor Hogam smirked smugly. “Sarah Jane Smith is nothing more than a weak pacifist.”
“It’s true that I believe in a more peaceful resolution to my problems,” Sarah Jane said patiently. “But sometimes there’s no other way.”
“No,” she countered firmly. “If you’ve heard the stories, you’ll know of the Battle of Bannerman Road. Does that ring a bell, Professor?”
The smirk had faded. Professor Hogam narrowed her eyes, trying to pick apart Sarah Jane’s ruse, but she was unable to find anything in her assured expression. The Battle of Bannerman Road did indeed ring a bell, a tale rife with whispered loss and bloodshed, and unimaginable chaos that could not have been prevented. She knew of Sarah Jane’s role in the battle, and realised that she truly was capable of what she was threatening.
Zoe’s eyes darted between the two parties. When she sure that nobody was watching, she nudged Eric and slid one of his batons out of its holsters, hiding it behind her back. She shared a meaningful look with her uncle, who nodded in grim understanding.
Electing that the risk was too high, she ended the stalemate by raising a hand. “All right, then. Lower your weapons.”
As soon as they did so, Sarah Jane zapped the alarm system, and suddenly every alarm in the building made an agonising, unendurable high-pitched wailing sound. Hogam was blindsided by the noise, and brought her hands up to cover her ears. Her guards were similarly caught off-guard, and they raised their guns, fully prepared to shoot, when Zoe and Eric surged forward and quickly knocked the weapons out of their hands. Eric made quick work of incapacitating his guard, and moved over to help Zoe with the second.
“Come on!” Sarah Jane yelled over the din, pulling a stunned Dan with her as they rushed past the immobilised security. They left the expansive entry room behind them and entered a laboratory.
“Stop her, you imbeciles!” Professor Hogam screeched, struggling to grip a sonic device of her own, concealed as a hairpin. She activated it, relishing the blissful silence when the alarms suddenly stopped. Realising her guards were preoccupied, Hogam quietly slipped past them and hurried after the runaway duo.
The Sontaran had found their hiding spot.
It burst into the bathroom and immediately locked eyes with Beth and Gita, who were huddled in the bathtub. Gita screamed in terror, clutching onto Beth in fear, while the Sontaran licked its lips.
Before the clone had a chance to turn around, Haresh knocked its probic vent with the metal tip of a haircomb. The vent expelled a rush of energy, and the Sontaran flopped to the ground, unconscious. For several minutes, they listened with bated breath — accompanied by Gita’s choked sobs and Beth’s quiet whimpers — for any other intruders, but the house was blissfully quiet. Haresh breathed a sigh of relief and slunk to the floor.
“He shouldn’t have been out,” Beth murmured, lost in her own world. “It was my own fault.”
Gita took a moment to compose herself. “What do you mean, my dear?”
Beth didn’t answer, losing herself in her memories as she stared at the crumpled photo. She vividly remembered the day, even after all these years. She had wanted a new toy: an Omnitrix — the same Omnitrix they still kept in the toy box. It sounded ridiculous, but everyone had bragged about it when she was young, and Beth had felt left out, so she demanded and fussed until her father finally obliged. She wished she hadn’t. She wished she could’ve just settled for Laurel’s proffered ponies, but Bethany Petite always got what she wanted.
Her father never came home that night.
Beth flinched. She could almost hear the screech of the car that had hit him. She could almost piece together the crime scene as it had happened, but it was a ridiculous notion. She had been at home, playing with Laurel. Her mother had said so.
The next day, she’d heard her mother sob loudly in her bedroom, refusing to crumble in front of her young daughters.
Beth reckoned that was the moment she started to feel sad, and happy, and excited, and all the other cocktails of emotions that defined her life.
“I’m sorry,” Gita said, but Beth was numb to the words. She’d heard them enough times already.
Suddenly, loud footsteps pounded up the staircase. Gita was immediately tense, and Haresh struggled to his feet, but to everyone’s surprise, the figure that burst into the room was a panting and sweating Melody.
“They’re going to kill each other!” she proclaimed before anybody could speak. “They’re going to fight!”
Outside, two groups of Sontarans faced each other in orderly rows. Both sides obediently stood still until the timer had expired, refusing to pay the fleeing human child a thought as she leapt into the building of their shared nemesis. Commander Neerh headlined one group, and a clone led the other.
“Where is Commander Kaagh?” Neerh demanded.
“Investigating an unknown energy source,” the Sontaran clone revealed.
“This is an outrage!” Neerh bellowed. “He has contravened our agreement!”
“He will be here,” the clone said shortly.
“This is Kaagh’s treachery,” Neerh decided. “He is planning an ambush!”
“Kaagh is an honourable Sontaran. He would never —”
“Kaagh is a disgrace to the Sontaran empire!” Neerh interrupted, shooting down the clone without a second thought. The opposing Sontaran team reacted negatively, but he was so steeped in anger that he couldn’t bring himself to care about his treasonous behaviour. “Kill them all!”
Within the room in which Sarah Jane had found herself was an array of weapons, as well as various bizarre and unusual substances: a piece of green slime, for instance, which Sarah Jane recognised as the pancreas of a Rutan which she had once examined at UNIT HQ after it had been found in a lighthouse.
“What are we looking for?” Dan hissed.
“A canister of some sort,” Sarah Jane explained as she pulled out her phone. “It’ll help us against the Sontarans.”
“How?” Dan asked as he scanned the rows of objects.
Before Sarah Jane had time to identify the weapon which she needed to use to wipe out the Sontarans, Professor Hogam entered the room.
“I don’t advise you threaten me, Miss Smith,” she said warningly. “I knew that you were bluffing.”
“Yeah, right,” Dan scoffed.
“There is an army of Sontarans out there, ready to tear my village apart,” Sarah Jane said. “After that, they’ll go after the rest of the planet. It’s only a matter of time before they find us here, Joan, you’re not even properly shielded! Help us, and we can save humanity.”
“Humanity can crumble for all I care,” Hogam declared arrogantly. “This is my treasure trove of artifacts, Miss Smith, and I won’t have you or anyone else muscling in.”
Sarah Jane’s shoulders sagged in disappointment, but Dan was shocked by the callous words. “You’re kidding!”
“I most certainly am not,” Hogam countered. She swiped for a menacing-looking gun and fired it at Sarah Jane. Dan cried out in surprise, but the energy collided against a bubble of blue energy and dissipated instantly.
“Portable containment vortex,” Sarah Jane smiled sweetly. “You cannot harm me.”
“How very convenient.”
Dan continued to frantically scan the row of shelves, until his eyes landed on a small grey canister perched atop a desk. He ran towards it . “I think I found it!”
“Don’t touch that!” Hogam screeched sharply. “You have no idea what you’re messing with, boy!”
“On the contrary, we know exactly what it is,” Sarah Jane retorted. “Sontarans feed on pure energy. Clone feed, if you will. That device reverse-engineers the energy they draw from the atmosphere and makes it harmful to their physiology. Convoluted and brutal, but it does the job.” Sarah Jane’s expression darkened. “A device only UNIT could create.”
“It would kill them.” Hogam eyed Sarah Jane curiously. “Could you do it?”
“If I have to.” Sarah Jane’s tone brooked no argument. “Dan, get the canister. We’re leaving.”
“I won’t let you!”
Before anybody could do anything, Zoe burst into the room. “Look out!” she cried. “It’s coming!”
A moment later, Sontaran Commander Kaagh stomped in.
The battle was total carnage. Formations had broken left, right and centre, and there seemed to be no hope of victory for either side, as a Sontaran who designated himself Acting Commander Kaagh had suspected; after all, Commander Neerh, in his eternal stupidity, had used the same method of identification on his soldiers as he had himself!
There were troops on the same side fighting against each other now, and as far as Acting Commander Kaagh could tell, there were surely no more than a couple of hundred soldiers remaining- and this was a rapidly diminishing number. At this rate, there would only be one troop left in a few minutes’ time, as well as he himself and Commander Neerh.
On the field, Sontaran Troop 937 was extremely confused. He could not tell who was who, and which of the remaining troops were on his side. Simple logic (given that everybody on the battlefield was the exact same person) dictated that approximately half of the remaining troops should be on his side, but probability dictated that this was almost completely impossible, and that there was absolutely no way of knowing for certain which troops were on whose side anymore. He resolved to simply shoot everyone he saw as quickly as possible.
Despite the fact that all the remaining soldiers seemed to be using the same strategy, Troop 937 was surprised to find himself not dead. He was especially surprised at this as he realised that there were absolutely no other living troops left (beside a few gasping and dying ones at his feet), and that therefore he was the sole victor of the battle.
Acting Commander Kaagh and Commander Neerh both approached Troop 937.
“Who is your commander, Troop?”
Troop 937 did not have time to utter the full name of “Neerh” before he had been shot dead in an instant by Acting Commander Kaagh.
“And what now, soldier?”
Acting Commander Kaagh and Neerh stood as the only two survivors of a bitter and destructive fight. They regarded each other with great hatred, then did the only thing that was appropriate at this point: they shot each other dead.
The first thing Kaagh did was to shoot the armed Hogam dead. She disintegrated in a burst of energy, screaming in torture, with no one to miss her. Dan and Zoe watched the scene with shock, while Sarah Jane could only muster up outrage.
“You didn’t have to do that, Kaagh!”
“A Sontaran does not report to the likes of you, female,” Kaagh said coolly. “I see you still walk among this planet.”
“I could say the same for you,” Sarah Jane said in return. “Last time we met, you went crashing through Horath’s portal. What happened?”
“I do not know,” Kaagh responded. “My only memory is my bloodlust. My need for redemption.”
“You did redeem yourself. You stopped Wormwood. You saved the Earth!”
“I do not need to please you,” Kaagh spat, “but to please my race. To return to my former glory is something I yearn for greatly. And you have foiled me at every turn.”
“You foiled yourself,” Sarah Jane said.
“No,” Kaagh said firmly, jabbing a pudgy finger in her direction. “You have spited me for the last time, and you will pay dearly.”
“Kill me all you like, there’ll be others to stop you!” Sarah Jane said bravely, even as she struggled to contained her fear.
“Kill you?” Kaagh released a short bark of laughter. “You forget the first law of battle, female: think like your enemy.” He raised his gun, first at Sarah Jane, and then at the closest half-form he could find: Zoe.
“Don’t you touch her!” Sarah Jane cried out. Kaagh ignored her, and pressed the gun to the still girl’s temple, basking in her fear.
But before Commander Kaagh could enact his revenge and pull the trigger, a deafening gunshot pierced the air. There was a large outpour of energy, and the Sontaran drew his last breath as he slumped to the floor.
Eric Smith stood in the entryway with a smoking gun, breathing heavily. A stony silence washed over the room as Eric calmed enough to realise what he done.
“Uncle Eric…” Zoe’s voice was barely above a whisper. She and Dan stared at him in utter horror, and even slight betrayal.
“I had to,” Eric said as the anger dissipated. He sounded defensive. “He killed that guard and the woman, and he was gonna kill you, too. I had to!”
“We’ll have to worry about this later,” Sarah Jane spoke up. “There’s still an army of Sontarans to worry about.”
“No, there isn’t,” Sentinel said, as he occupied Sarah Jane’s screen once again. “They’re gone, Sarah Jane. It’s over.”
Eric looked down at the felled Sontaran, fully processing the consequences of his reckless actions.
The shooting had finished. Haresh wondered why it was over so quickly; surely the soldiers had not finished their battle yet? Shaking his head, he decided to check it out regardless.
He crept back to the street with Beth, Melody and Gita in tow, and looked out upon the debris. There was not a single life remaining in a graveyard of four hundred and fifty-nine dead men. All unnamed and unknown. Haresh almost pitied them, but he chose to care about the lives of his family and his neighbours first.
“It’s over,” Melody said quietly. “They’re dead.”
Haresh was unsettled by her unaffected tone.
The ride back to Foxgrove had been quiet and awkward. Nobody felt the need to speak. By the time they returned, UNIT had quietly cleared away the ruined bodies and had departed the area without a fuss. Maybe Kate was doing some good after all.
Dan and Eric were the first to leave the car, the former eager to find the hallmarks of battle, and the latter resigned. Sarah Jane followed suit, and was about to join them, when Zoe gripped her sleeve.
“You have to do something,” Zoe said urgently. “He can’t remember that he killed that Sontaran. It’ll mess him up.”
“I’m more concerned about you,” Sarah Jane said. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah! But you don’t know my uncle. He’s already messed up. He can’t have this, too.” Zoe glanced at him worriedly. “He’s not ready.”
Sarah Jane followed her gaze, studying the morose figure slumped on a bench. She pursed her lips, and nodded. “I’ll see what I can do.”
“Sarah Jane!” cried a voice. The group barely had time to turn before a blur of a figure lunged at Sarah Jane and hugged her tightly.
“Melody!” Sarah Jane gasped, reciprocating the embrace. “Oh, I was just about to come looking for you! Are you hurt?”
Melody happily shook her head.
“Oh, thank goodness you’re all right. I promise to never let you out of my sight again.”
“You can’t promise that,” Zoe commented snidely.
Sarah Jane glared playfully at her. “Hush, you!”
Dan anxiously approached them, followed by Beth. Zoe offered her a small smile, and Beth offered a pained one in return.
“Hey, Melody…” Dan said, fidgeting nervously when Melody looked at him expectantly. “I’m sorry for… leaving you like that. And I’m…” he sighed, “I’m glad you’re okay.”
Melody beamed and launched herself into his arms. “I’m glad you’re okay, too.”
Dan stumbled slightly, surprised by the sudden action, but he smiled and hugged her in return.
It was over.
Everything was going to be okay.
“Nice place,” Eric commented idly, running an eye along Sarah Jane’s spacious attic. “My attic’s tiny.”
“It’s a habit of mine.” Sarah Jane studied him carefully, noting his rigid posture and dull eyes. “It wasn’t your fault.”
“Wasn’t it?” Eric laughed self-deprecatingly. “I killed an alien. I killed a person.”
“You did what you had to do to protect your own,” Sarah Jane said gently. “I know that doesn’t lessen the burden, but it’s good to remember that. You did the best you could.”
Eric tugged at his hair. “Still. I don’t think I can live with this.”
“There is a way out,” Sarah Jane said slowly. She could see the discomfort in Eric’s eyes, and retrieved a pot of the liquid (which she had been gifted by a Time Agent for her own purposes, studied and diluted to her own recipe), unscrewed it and poured a slight quantity onto a spoon. “This will help you to forget.”
Eric looked at it suspiciously. “How?”
“Just trust me,” Sarah Jane said. “The base formula was engineered by aliens.”
“Good enough for me.” Eric shrugged, taking the spoon. He brought it to his lips, but stopped suddenly, and slowly lowered it. “One thing I wanna know, though.”
“Ask away,” Sarah Jane said diplomatically.
“Why’d you take me with you today?”
Sarah Jane sighed deeply. “I was scared.”
“Losing them,” she admitted glumly. “Zoe, Beth and Dan are wonderful, and I’m glad to have met them, but you have to understand, I’ve lost people. People I should have been able to protect. It hurt, and I just wasn’t sure I was capable of protecting them all.” Sarah Jane offered him a small smile. “I don’t want to lose them as well.”
Eric shrugged. “They’re still here. That’s something.”
Sarah Jane managed a laugh. “Yes, I suppose it is.”
“And I saw the way you confronted that scientist. You put them before yourself. I dunno if I’m happy that Zoe is in this life, but I know that you’ll take good care of her.”
“Anything could happen to her,” Sarah Jane insisted. “To all of them.”
“I know,” Eric said wearily. “Any other day, I’d arrest you. But today’s been… different. You have each other. That’ll have to be enough. Besides, to tell Zoe that something's dangerous would be like talking to a brick wall.”
Sarah Jane’s shoulders sagged. “Thank you,” she said quietly.
Eric Smith nodded, and then gratefully drank the liquid. His mind grew clouded, and when he next opened his eyes, he wondered why and how he’d managed to find himself in Sarah Jane Smith’s living room.
“Chris doesn’t remember anything,” Dan said conversationally, watching as Sarah Jane fiddled with a film reel. “Nobody does. How can they not? There were aliens in the village!”
“Stranger things have happened,” Sarah Jane hummed. “We once had a rabbit as Prime Minister.”
“Exactly.” Sarah Jane laughed at Dan’s perplexed frown. “Strange events happen all the time, but people forget. It’s the way things are. I suppose that’s a blessing sometimes. You wouldn’t remember something from 2010, for example.”
Dan glanced over at Zoe, who shot him a warning glare. “Yeah…” he said instead. “I guess it depends.”
“I’m watching you,” Zoe said, jabbing an accusing finger at Mr Nibbles, who was more interested in taking a nap.
It was at this point that Beth came in, and looked around at the others. Zoe quickly looked down at her laptop again, becoming aware that she hadn’t typed a single word during the entire conversation.
“Sarah Jane?” Beth said hesitantly.
Sarah Jane turned to her. “Yes, Beth?”
“Can I talk to you?”
“Of course you can.” Sarah Jane relaxed back in her seat, perfectly content, and nobody moved for a minute as they waited to hear what Beth had to say.
“Alone,” Beth stressed, glancing at her friends. Sarah Jane suddenly realised that Beth was looking for a serious chat, rather than more answers about Sontarans and scientists and such like. Dan had already exited the attic gracefully, but Zoe remained exactly where she was, busying herself with random keys on her laptop. Eventually, she realised that they wouldn’t budge, and bounded out the room with a dramatic sigh.
Sarah Jane beckoned Beth to sit down next to her, well aware of what was coming next; Haresh had already spoken with her about Beth’s momentary upset while they had been hiding.
Sarah Jane was ready for this.
That was all that Sarah Jane said. Indeed, it was all that she needed to say, because it was true; she understood exactly how it felt to grow up without a father. It was difficult, she knew, and there were always the days when it really gets to you, but all it needs is time, and soon enough, Beth would grow and learn to channel that grief into an incentive to move forwards.
There would be days where that knowledge wouldn’t be enough to draw comfort from, and sometimes it would feel like she was taking a step backwards. Grief was potent, and unpredictable, and to grow up lonely was a curse that nobody should ever suffer. But Beth would learn to take it in her stride, Sarah Jane knew, and she would make her father proud.
Beth looked at her, and she smiled for the first time since she’d discovered the photograph. She gave Sarah Jane a hug, the pervading sadness lifting from her once again.
Everything was going to be okay.
The Sarah Jane Adventures returns next week in Mind The Gap...