A Retrieval in Purple by Amilyn
Summary: Sarah Jane tries to locate a stranded alien before a more hostile group finds the alien first. Set before "Invasion of the Bane." No warnings apply.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Sarah Jane Adventures
Characters: Mr. Smith, Sarah Jane Smith
Genres: Drama, General, Standalone
Chapter 1: Moor Trouble
Chapter 2: Homeward Bound
Chapter 1: Moor Trouble
Author's Notes: Written for dbskyler in Yuletide 2018
The night air clung, damp and chill, to Sarah's skin. Tall grasses swished at her knees, impeding her gait and sending moisture wicking through her jeans.
If there were Darcy sisters back at the house on Bannerman Road, they would surely disapprove when she arrived, in the wee hours of the morning (if she was lucky), damp, bedraggled, and short of breath.
Of course, she was not Lizzie Bennet, and Bannerman Road was a two-hour drive from this remote moor, but such an expedition would certainly violate propriety.
Fortunately, one thing Sarah Jane Smith had never stood on was propriety.
An engine roared and gravel scattered from beneath tires as headlights cut through the thick blanket of night.
Sarah rolled her eyes.
The SUV's doors flew open and shouting people leapt out, torches cutting through the dark.
"Suzie, down and to the left! Owen and Tosh, fan out right. I'll search up ahead." Coat fanning out behind him, gun drawn, Captain Jack Harkness barrelled ahead.
In her head, she could hear the Brigadier's clipped voice, "UNIT is a security organisation." It was almost amusing to think of his response to the black SUV with a top-secret name stamped in the fender. Perhaps she would tell him, next they met for tea, just to watch his long-suffering sigh.
Sarah shook her head then flipped open the scanner watch the Doctor had left inside the new K-9 model he'd given her. Cupping her hand to conceal the glow, she dialled down the brightness and sound. "Mr. Smith, any further data on the alien presence? And keep it down. We've got company."
"I am aware, Sarah Jane." Even Mr. Smith's sotto voce was a drone. "Torchwood Three is anything but subtle."
Sarah couldn't help smiling fondly before whispering urgently, "Do you have any readings for me?"
"There seem to be no indications of weaponry or intent to malice."
"Other than that of the humans from Cardiff."
"Mr. Smith, have you identified a precise location yet."
"Of course. Your target is less than 100 feet from you in a north-by-northwesterly direction. I am transmitting the data to your device."
A blinking dot appeared on her readout. "Thank you, Mr. Smith."
Sarah turned slowly until she faced the dot, then moved with care in that direction. The ground squelched beneath her boots in the aftermath of the fall rains that had blanketed the West Country for weeks, and, but for the moisture seeping into the toes of her socks, she was glad she'd grabbed older boots.
"Mr. Smith? Are any of your readings noting species or other data?"
"No, Sarah Jane. I would, of course, have told you if there were more information."
The shouts of Torchwood Three echoed in the distinctly wrong portion of the moors. Even these weapons-happy idiots would cover those areas quickly and head this way soon. Sarah moved faster, praying she didn't turn an ankle or fall on her face. She was nearly to the location indicated by the blinking light on her data screen when the air was suddenly filled with a floral scent, and the space in front of her went...missing.
Double checking the scanner readings did no good. The screen had switched off as if out of power. Sarah reached out a tentative hand into the void. The floral scent shifted to something more akin to cut grass.
"My name is Sarah Jane Smith. I'm here to help." She reached out the other hand, palms outstretched.
Her stomach dropped like she had fallen, and her head spun, then Sarah toppled forward.
She fell but didn't fall, and then was standing in an echo chamber, a room that wasn't a room, space that wasn't space. But for the absence of a sinister tone and giant jewels, Sarah might have thought she had stumbled into the Mandragora Helix.
She saw no one, nothing, but the scent and sense indicated a presence.
"You've landed on Earth. I'm Sarah Jane Smith. I mean you no harm. I just want to help." Her standard greeting echoed back at her, the sound bouncing off the non-existent walls. Her scanner watch was still blank, she saw in a glance. Not helpful.
"Are you trying to get into my head? If you are, you'll see that I have no interest in hurting you." She carefully examined every part of the blank, white room, but nothing stood out as wrong.
"Look, if you didn't want my help, you wouldn't have brought me into this...illusion? Realm? You can trust me. If you have any way of scanning for the truth, you'll be able to see that."
Sarah began walking in methodical rows. She listened, looked, felt for places that weren't quite right, that looked almost like heat steaming off of pavement in the summer. Swallowing her own fears and frustrations. Sarah made sure to keep her tone reassuring and conciliatory. "I have friends who can help you. And if you don't want to go to them, I can find out how best to help you. We can work this out. Can you trust me?"
As she spoke, the air itself seemed to vibrate, and a powerful sweet scent filled the air. The air seemed to wobble for this moment until it coalesces into a tiny humanoid. The creature appeared to be a young woman, and her smooth, dark skin glowed with a deep purple cast that matched her eyes and hair.
"How?" Her eyes darted side to side. "How do I have understanding with you?"
So few of them asked. "It is a special technology or magic. It was given to me as a gift."
The young woman blinked rapidly. "You have understanding with me." More rapid blinking. "You offer friendship with me?"
"Yes. I'm here as a friend. I want to help."
Another shout came from over the ridge back on the moor. Time was running short.
"I'm called Sarah Jane. What can I call you?"
The being's eyes went wide, and lilac scent filled the air. "I am being called Lylaflorin."
"Lylaflorin," Sarah extended a hand, "Those people out there are not here to help you. Can you take us back to the moor and come quickly with me?"
Sarah reached out her hand, and Lylaflorin grasped it, six extra-long fingers wrapping once and a half times around Sarah's hand.
The white room or realm wavered, and the moor was back.
Lylaflorin giggled. "We have been being in this place. The space you saw was a creation I have made."
"We need to move quickly and quietly," Sarah whispered, pulling the alien along as she scrambled up an embankment. Her Volkswagen was tucked behind a stand of trees, and she ushered Lylaflorin into it, manoeuvred onto the country road, and drove slowly, lights still off, careful not to rev the engine.
From the other side of the ridge, they could hear more shouting, then a horn being sounded repeatedly.
Sarah picked up speed, turned onto a wider road, and switched on her headlights. "Lylaflorin, my friends and I are going to find a way to get you safe and get you home."
The car filled with a scent of honeysuckle, and Sarah took that as a thank you.
A horn sounded more distantly behind them.
"Bloody Torchwood," Sarah muttered, picking up speed as she headed eastward for London.
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Chapter 2: Homeward BoundWhen Sarah pulled into the her drive it was after 4am.
Her head was spinning with the information Lylaflorin had chattered unrelentingly. It had taken only the barest of occasional prompts to keep the alien, who turned out to be very young, sharing everything about herself.
At least she hadn’t been in danger of falling asleep on the drive.
She was going to have an earful from Mr. Smith, whose input had been equally relentless...but muted while her mobile’s display had remained on sat-nav.
“...and my littermates and I used to have been getting into the worst of the troubles--"
“--so that our caretakers were having many times of the talking with us--”
“Lylaflorin.” Sarah cringed at her own brusqueness.
The scent in the car faded from a lavender to the cut grass, and Lylaflorin’s purple glow faded to a faint lilac. She hung her head, avoiding eye contact and folding her hands in her lap. “Yes, Zehra-jeyn?”
“Lylaflorin, I’m not angry, I just need your attention. Not everyone on my planet knows of the existence of offworlders.”
Lylaflorin’s head popped up. Her skin rippled deep aubergine, and her eyes glowed violet. “And yet you are having understanding of my life and my family. How are you having such knowledge?”
“I met offworlders when I was young. They gave me the special gift of travelling beyond Earth.”
“This is why you are being wise. I am being grateful for your help, Zehra-jeyn.” Lylaflorin took Sarah’s hand in both of hers and the car filled again with lavender scent.
“Lylaflorin, I need you to avoid glowing as we enter my home. People fear what they don’t know, and we want to avoid attention.”
Lylaflorin closed her eyes and the glow receded to her chest. It was almost invisible beneath her clothes.
Sarah exhaled, relieved that, as the local madwoman, she might be able to avoid attention tonight, at least. She turned off the car and released both their seatbelts. “We’re going to go into my house now. Just pull that handle, and--”
Lylaflorin opened the car door and stepped out. She looked up and began to twirl. “Your stars are being so twinkling through your planetary atmosphere!” Her voice shifted to tinkling music, rich and echoing like a collection of wind chimes, and she glowed again, the colour shifting with the pitch of the music. She looked and sounded how Sarah had always pictured fairies. Her garments, gossamer, lifted around her almost like wings.
“I am being greeting to your stars, your planetary satellite, and to the growing of the floral leaves on your poles.” Lylaflorin bent and reached to touch the ground, the tree trunks, and stones along the path.
The lights at the house over the road flicked on, and it shook Sarah from her enchantment. “Come on, we’ve got to go in.” She ushered Lylaflorin through the door and latched it behind them.
“We’ve got plenty left to do, so I’m going to put the kettle on.”
That turned out to be a good decision. Two pots of tea later, Sarah and Mr. Smithwere narrowing the likelihood of a successful direction to send a message to Lylaflorin’s envoy.
“This is why I never wanted children,” Sarah muttered, glancing at Lylaflorin, deeply asleep on the attic couch, her glow and scent cycling between lavender and lilac with her breath. Owlie was tucked under her chin with her long fingers wrapped around the stuffed toy. The young alien was, admittedly, adorable.
“Adolescents are so impulsive. She wanted to visit Earth and hopped in an escape pod when her parents forbade it.” Sarah shook her head. “That was unspeakably foolish.”
“I have observed the same tendencies in you, Sarah Jane,” Mr. Smith intoned.
Sarah narrowed her eyes at the supercomputer. “Mr Smith, don’t you have calculations to do?”
Several minutes later, Mr. Smith announced blandly, “I believe I have found the coordinates we need.”
“Can you patch us through to the ship?”
“Of course, Sarah Jane.” Lights flashed, and the display screen fluctuated twice then resolved to a single line.
“Hello, Floraline, come in, please.”
There was no answer.
“Sarah Jane, my sensors indicate your message has been received.”
“Floraline, please respond. We have important information regarding a passenger.”
A long pause followed her comment. “This is the cruiser Floraline.”
“Floraline, this is Sarah Jane Smith. I have a young woman named Lylaflorin who I believe was travelling aboard your vessel.”
“That is impossible. The princess has been in her cabin since our departure.”
Sarah glanced at the sleeping violet-and-aubergine form on her couch. “I would like to recommend you check again. Lylaflorin boarded an escape pod to explore our planet. We can send you her coordinates.”
Another long pause, then the voice resumed, stiffly curt, “We will resume communication when we are near to confirm coordinates.”
“They have cut communications, Sarah Jane.”
“Then I suppose we wait.” Sarah poured another cup of tea and sat in an armchair, draping a throw over her lap and sipping her tea. When it was gone, she tucked her feet under her and leaned against her cheek on one hand, resting her eyes.
Mr. Smith’s voice woke her with a start. As she leapt to her feet, she saw Lylaflorin stirring and sunlight coming through the windows.
“Sarah Jane, they are contacting us.”
“Put them on, Mr. Smith.”
“This is the Floraline. We appreciate that you have our princess, and we are ready to bring her up via transmat once you send updated coordinates.”
Sarah turned to where Lylaflorin was hugging Owlie desperately, pulsing a heathery, greyish-purple. “Mama and papa will be being so angry,” she whimpered. “I am not wanting to go back.”
“Lylaflorin, you can’t stay here, it’s not safe,” Sarah reasoned.
“Can’t you talk to them? Please?”
Sarah sighed. “Mr. Smith?”
“Opening communications now.”
“Hello, Floraline? This is Sarah Jane Smith of Earth. Could I please speak to Lylaflorin’s parents?”
“They are here, standing by for her return.”
“Yes, I would just like to confirm that you understand that Lylaflorin was merely curious, excited to try to learn something new.”
The young woman pulsed in shades of amethyst.
A flute-like voice replied, “Of course. I have been doing the exact same thing when I was being her age.”
“Oh, Mama, really?”
“Yes, my darling, and I’ll be telling you the tale when you have been being with us safely.”
Sarah looked pointedly at Lylaflorin, “You really must be careful in future, however. This planet was not a wise choice for a thrill-seeking joy ride. If that other group had found you, they might not have let you go home. There are plenty of planets you can visit.”
“Yes, my dear.” This time the voice was like a cello, deep and flowing. “Now that we are knowing your exploration is being excited by your age, we will begin to be visiting many worlds.”
“Please let us being to plan our visits so that you are being safely travelling with us.”
“Oh, mama and papa, thank you! And you should be being thanking Zehra-jehn. She is being my safety-point here.” She set Owlie on the couch. “I am being ready to come home.”
“Mr. Smith, please transmit Lylaflorin’s exact coordinates.”
“Yes, Sarah Jane.”
The room was suffused with sweet lilac. “Thank you, Zehra-jehn,” rang through the attic with the whine of the transmat.
Lylaflorin appeared on Mr. Smith’s viewscreen, flanked by a taller, port-wine male and a magenta female.
“Thank you for being one to be keeping our child safe,” the man’s cello-voice responded in tune.
The woman sang, “We will never be forgetting.”
Lylaflorin’s long fingers waved in farewell as the ship left orbit.
“Sarah Jane, I will scrub the monitoring satellite footage and audio records.”
“Thank you, Mr. Smith.” Sarah picked up the tea tray and headed down the three flights of stairs.
She put the kettle back on.
Shouting came from outside. “I’m telling you, I saw it!”
“Glowing purple aliens? I think you need to lay off the drink, friend.”
“I’m not going to go on living here. This happens all the time. I don’t care if none of you believe me!”
New neighbours over the road soon enough. Again.
But she’d seen an alien safely home without Torchwood getting involved. Even with two articles to finish and submit to her editor, it had been a good night.
The kettle boiled, and she poured the water, ready to get back to work.
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