He arrived in the middle of the night, as did most of Sarah Jane's visitors. It was about two in the morning when Sarah's watch started bleeping, alerting her to her visitor's imminent arrival. She headed down and out into the front yard, carrying a homing beacon. She activated the beacon and turned on the front porch light, to provide him with a visual fix. After a couple of seconds, she spotted the orange shape of a spaceship swooping in. As it approached her house, the canopy raised up. The ejector seat activated with a soft 'phot' and the ship continued on its course, pilotless. A parachute flung open and her visitor coasted down to a soft landing just metres in front of Sarah. He took off the parachute and folded it before approaching her, his hand outstretched.
"Sarah Jane Smith? Ace Rimmer."
Sarah shook his hand. "Pleased to meet you."
"I received your distress call just as I was passing Jupiter. A friend of yours needs a lift to Savarah V?"
Sarah gave Rimmer a good look. He was handsome, she had to admit, even more so in person than when she'd talked to him on Mr Smith's screen. He was wearing a gold-coloured, fur-lined overcoat with matching pants and had long red hair that reached his shoulders. There were a couple of small scars on his face, and she could tell he'd seen a few battles.
She indicated the house.
"Would you like to come in? Princess Z'litha is upstairs."
"Thank you. What's the story?"
"You know about the civil war going on in the Savarah system?"
Rimmer rubbed his left shoulder, as though remembering an old injury.
"I'm familiar with it."
"The Princess was fleeing rebel troops when her ship came under attack. Her escape pod landed in a park a couple of streets away."
Rimmer held up his wrist computer.
"I can call my ship as soon as she's ready to leave."
Sarah shook her head.
"She's ready to leave now, but would you like to stay until morning? You look like you could use a rest."
"Well, how could I refuse an offer from such a lovely lady?"
Sarah indicated the front door.
"After you," she said, and followed Rimmer into her house.
It was a couple of hours later that the high-pitched whine of a spaceship landing woke Sarah from her sleep. She immediately turned on the light and threw on a dressing gown. She heard someone climb down the stairs, and Ace Rimmer's voice drifted up from below.
"I'm afraid this isn't really the right time of the night for a social call."
The voice that replied had the sing-song quality of a Savaran, but there was no mistaking the hostile tone.
"We know the Princess is here. Hand her over and noone will get hurt."
"Surely we can discuss this? Over a coffee? Or maybe a hot chocolate?"
Sarah nearly swore, then realised what Rimmer was getting at. Savarans were allergic to cocoa, which was present in anything chocolate or chocolate-flavoured. There'd been a near miss that afternoon, just after the princess had arrived. Neither of them had been aware of the allergy, as cocoa didn't exist within the Sarvarah system. So when Sarah had put out some chocolate biscuits, the Princess had received a nasty burn across two of her fingers. But all the chocolate Sarah had was in the kitchen.
Sarah didn't have the time to get dressed. She just tied the dressing gown tight around her, and hoped it wouldn't come loose in the heat of battle. She glanced around the room, searching for something she could use as a weapon. She couldn't go to the attic, that would lead the rebels right to the Princess. Sarah's eyes came to rest on the mug on her bedside table. The mug that contained the hot chocolate that she usually drank before drifting off. It had been a part of her routine for so long that she hardly thought about it anymore. She stepped over and picked up the mug, and was relieved to see that there was a bit left.
Downstairs, Rimmer was stalling as best he could. He looked calmly at the leader of the rebels. Like most Savarans, the leader was humanoid with green skin, and a scaly stripe of skin running down the front and back of his body, dividing the body into left and right halves.
"We have no need of refreshments," the leader of the seven rebels replied.
"How about a Cherry Ripe and some Oreos?"
The rebels advanced menacingly, and Rimmer cautiously took a few steps back. Unfortunately, this was in the wrong direction, away from the kitchen and towards the staircase. The rebels reached into their holsters and drew their weapons, disruptor pistols of a sharp and angular design. They could also be used as knives at close range. They continued to advance, forming a circle around Rimmer that tightened up as he approached the staircase. He knew he could take two, maybe three of them, but then he'd be dead and it would be up to Sarah Jane Smith to protect the Princess. He braced himself, ready to move.
Without warning, there was a brief shower of some sort of liquid. It lasted for less than a second, and had no effect on Rimmer. But the effect on the Savarans was dramatic, to say the least. They screeched as if burned. Rimmer tasted a bit of the liquid that had landed on his hand. Hot chocolate, now gone cold. He head footsteps behind him and glanced back, to see Sarah coming down the staircase with an empty mug in her hand. He looked forward, and saw that the Savarans were staggering. He charged forward, clearing a path for Sarah, and the two of them raced for the kitchen. He went for the pantry as she went for the fridge. As she flung open the fridge door, Sarah glanced over at Rimmer.
"Call your ship."
"She's already on the way. Attic window, was it?"
Rimmer placed a half-empty pack of drinking chocolate on the kitchen bench, then tapped a course correction into his wrist-computer. There was a whine of thrusters and Sarah glanced out of the kitchen window. Two levels up, Rimmer's ship drew level with the attic window. A second later, Sarah saw the lean, lithe figure of Princess Z'litha climb aboard.
Rimmer entered another command, and the spaceship fired its thrusters and rose up, coming to a halt a couple of kilometers above the house.
"She's safe. Now let's deal with these chaps. What've you got?"
"Two packs of Cadbury Turkish delight chocettes and one of the Dairy Milk. And five Cherry Ripe bars."
"I'm not surprised a sweet lady like you has such a sweet tooth."
"They're for Luke, mainly. My adopted son."
A smile crossed Sarah's face as she thought of the boy, created as a human by the Bane, whom she'd taken as her own.
"He's spending the night at Maria's place," she explained.
Sarah pulled out two of the bags of chocettes - one of the Turkish delight and the Dairy Milk - as well as three Cherry Ripes. She handed one of the bags and one of the bars to Rimmer, who added the half-empty box of cocoa powder to his arsenal. He quickly crossed the room and dumped the powder across the doorway, covering the entire width.
"Oy! Over here!" he called. The rebels turned as one, and came charging.
Sarah was ready for them. Even before they reached the kitchen door she began firing, using a spoon to flick the chocettes through the air. Her aim was spot-on. The small balls of chocolate burned them but they kept coming, charging through the door. The first one stepped on the line of cocoa Rimmer had laid down, and before he could react, Rimmer stepped forward and smashed his Cherry Ripe into the Savaran's face. The rebel staggered back, plowing into the one behind him. Rimmer ducked out of the way as the seven rebels piled up. Sarah flung one of her Cherry Ripes across the kitchen, hitting the top Savaran on the head. The shock of the burn on top of the pile-up was enough to knock him out.
"I've got some rope in the garage. Be back in a minute."
Sarah ducked out and returned a minute later with a rope, which she and Rimmer used to tie up the rebels. Rimmer then called his ship in, landing it in Sarah's front yard. He tapped the bound rebels with his boot.
"There should be enough room for these scum in the cargo hold."
Sarah stepped back and waved goodbye as Rimmer powered up the ship's engines, Princess Z'litha next to him in the passenger seat. Rimmer shot Sarah a confident grin.
"Smoke me a kipper, I'll be back for breakfast."
Then he was gone, his spaceship blasting up through the atmosphere.
"What a guy," Sarah said to herself before turning and heading back to her bed.