Larry looked up at the gates of Wester Drumlins with trepidation.
"This is a bad idea," he said.
"I love this old house, in spite of everything."
Larry sighed, slowly drove the car forward.
"Can you open the gates?" he asked.
Sally nodded, and hopped out of the car. The gates were supposed to be locked, but she had picked the lock a year ago, and the padlock was still open. She slid the chain off of the gate, and opened it.
Larry waited till she was back in the car, then drove forward. The house was just as old and spooky as ever. He didn't see what Sally saw in it. Even in the bright afternoon sunshine the house managed to look menacing as it loomed over him.
Sally bounced out of the car and grinned.
"Oh I missed this place," she said with a sigh.
"Despite the weeping angels in the basement?" Larry quipped.
"Yes, despite those," she agreed happily.
Larry just shrugged.
"But we're not going down to visit them or anything, right?"
"Of course not! They tried to kill us, remember?"
"Oh, I remember," Larry replied. In truth, the memory was much more vivid than he was willing to admit. He often had nightmares about the stone angels that would move whenever he wasn't looking at them, even if he so much as blinked.
"What do you say we start by looking around the garden?" Sally asked. "This place doesn't look it, but it has quite a bit of land attached."
"I think we'd know if that thing crashed into the house," Larry replied, looking at the building. It seemed as though it were intact, but then you never knew.
Sally nodded absently. She began walking towards the garden at the back of the house, and Larry followed. He had a feeling this was a really bad idea, but he couldn't exactly let Sally go by herself, could he?
The garden was overgrown and tangled, but it must have been quite pretty at one time. A brick path wound its way over a small hill and disappeared around some trees. Sally began walking on it, her shoes making footsteps in the eerie quiet.
"How much land do you figure this house has?" she asked.
"Maybe a couple of acres?"
Sally nodded, and continued walking. She followed the path around the corner past the trees, and then stopped dead. Larry, coming up behind her, couldn't stop in time, and crashed into her back. The momentum sent them both sprawling.
"Ow!" complained Sally, rubbing her arm.
"Sorry! Sorry!" apologized Larry in a rush, struggling to get off of her, and trying to ignore her close proximity all of the sudden. He offered her his hand, and pulled her to her feet.
It was only then that he saw what had made her stop in the first place.
They hadn't been able to see the crater before because of the grove of trees. But when they came out into what should have been a peaceful meadow, the crater with the chunk of shining metal was obvious.
"Wow," Larry breathed. "We really did find a UFO!"
"Could be a piece of a satellite that's broken off," Sally said.
Larry made a face at her.
"You'll concede time travelers but you won't concede UFO's?"
"UFOs are so cliché," she answered.
Larry shook his head, staring in wonder at what was before them.
"This is so CIA," he said. "I wonder if a secret government organization is going to turn up and wipe our memories of this."
"It's huge," Sally breathed. "What do you say we split up and explore? That way we can cover more ground."
"What are we looking for?" asked Larry, who didn't much like the idea of splitting up.
"Anything really. Anything interesting. Maybe the Doctor will show up again," she added hopefully.
"You like him, don't you?" Larry teased, ignoring the stab of jealousy that spread through him. "He's a right handsome bloke."
"If you like that sort of thing," Sally said with a shrug. "I'll go this way, and you go the other. Shout if you find anything."
Larry nodded his assent, and Sally headed off, a huge smile spreading over her face.
It wasn't that she wasn't contented with her shop, because really she was. She liked owning her tiny shop with Larry and doing inventory and dealing with customers and living in her tiny flat. It's just that she had missed the rush of adrenaline that came with adventures. She had missed the breathtaking excitement of discovering something new. Granted, last time that something had been trying to kill her. But this time nothing was threatening her. It was as safe an adventure as something could be while still being an adventure.
And Larry might be right, after all. It might be an alien space ship. After a time traveler, Sally could believe anything. Of course, she wasn't about to tell Larry that. His tastes ran more to the cliché and obviously fringe than hers did.
Her eyes trailed along the strange object, which was lodged in the ground. It was a dark metal, deeply scratched and pitted, and too hot to touch. Sally could feel its heat when she hovered her hand over its surface. It didn't seem to have any doors or windows, just a smooth, unbroken surface.
Sally continued to walk along side the thing, carefully examining it. She stopped short when she came to an opening that looked as though it had been clawed apart. Bits of wire and other machinery were strewn along the metal grating inside, and sparks were still periodically flying out of the consol at the far end.
"Ahah," Sally said to herself. "This is interesting."
Hesitantly, she made her way towards the opening. The floor was littered with debris, and she had to be careful as she stepped inside. A little voice in her head was telling her that this was a very bad idea, but she was ignoring it.
With careful steps, she made her way to the consoles, being careful to avoid the sparks. They were a little higher than waist high, with black screens to show that they weren't operational. Frayed wires and cables poked out from the bottom of them, so Sally avoided getting any closer.
Whipping out her camera from her bag, she began to take pictures of everything around her. So wrapped up was she in recording everything, that she didn't feel the strong arms that gripped her from behind.
Larry shook his head as Sally disappeared around the corner. That girl had more independence than any other girl he knew. It made everything difficult with her; yet somehow it was one of his favorite things about her. She wanted to do everything on her own. It was a wonder she had let him help her start up her shop.
He chuckled quietly to himself, and started walking around the UFO. It couldn't be anything else other than a UFO, could it? It looked like a ship, and it fell from the sky. How could Sally deny it?
Larry grinned like a kid in a candy store. They had found a UFO. This was so cool! He wondered what kind of engine was in this thing. The outer surface of the hull, as he walked around it, was deeply pitted. More evidence of UFO's – it had been hit by meteorites. As Larry rounded the corner, he paused and then grinned at the sight before him.
"Bingo," he muttered. Strewn around the area close to the ship were all sorts of broken and twisted technology. Larry bent down and picked a bit up, its lights still blinking tiredly.
"Cool," he said, slipping it into his pocket. He didn't know what he was going to use that bit for, but you never knew.
That gave him an idea. With a glint in his eye, he began to go through the rubble.
Strong arms incased Sally in an iron grip. She struggled, trying valiantly to wrench herself away from the vice-like hold that she was caught in, but it did no good.
"Let me go!" she yelled.
"Xyrsodlghgh slakjdfsdf," said a voice behind her. A tall woman with a long brown leather coat and black knee-high boots over her tight beige pantaloons stepped into view.
Sally blinked. Had her ears just gone on the fritz or was that woman speaking in another language?
"Weljlkhasdf als aslkdj skdhre lojuiojnf," answered a rumbling voice directly behind her ear. It must have been the one that was holding her.
"Juendse dkfj euenhd sd we a dlkfje. Asdlkjf wdnge ounfs?" asked the woman.
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," Sally said. "Please let me go."
A look of comprehension came into the woman's face. She nodded to a man with round blue tinted glasses who came up beside her.
"Hueg drygefrd slkdr asdkrjef," she said.
"Dkfhedn," answered the man, pulling something out of the pocket of his jacket. It was a small, rectangular box, plain and reflective. It caught the light and Sally was blinded for a moment. When she opened her eyes, the man with the glasses was much closer to her, and he was opening the box.
"Urgurngd sldkjed," he said in a soothing voice. Out of the box he pulled a small, metal thing. And he was getting closer.
Sally began to struggle again.
"No," she said. "Let me go. I just want to go. I was just curious. I'm sorry, I'll leave."
The man was looming over her now, his wide smile showing off all of his gleaming white teeth.
"What are you going to do with that?" Sally demanded, eyeing the thing in his hand. "Stay away from me!"
"Kuerhn rerfndd sldk," the man said.
The arms behind Sally shifted, and her head was forced to tilt.
With horror, Sally realized what they were going to do. They were going to put that thing in her ear.
She struggled with all her might, but the arms behind her held her firmly in place.
"No! No! Help!" Sally screamed.
Larry was walking briskly back to the sight of all the rubble, his hands in his pockets. He had done a good day's work, and Sally would be proud of him. He thought idly of rushing to find her and tell her all about it, and then thought better of it. He would keep it a secret, and she would be totally surprised. The thought of Sally's surprised and delighted face made him smile, and he almost started whistling.
At that moment, a scream ripped the air. Larry stopped dead in his tracks. He knew that scream anywhere. It was Sally.
He took off at a dead run.
The man with the glasses forced the small object into Sally's ear. It slithered down her eat canal in a horrible, wet, oozing sensation. It made Sally feel sick to her stomach. Then there was a sudden sharp burst of pain, and…
And then it was over. Sally felt fine. The arms released their grip on her, and she was able to stand straight. Immediately her hands flew to her ear, trying to grab the thing and fish it out. It was horrible. She felt so violated.
"What was that?" she demanded. "What have you done to me?"
"Yerndmf werd – just fine Captain," said the man with the round glasses.
Sally blinked. Had she just understood him?
"Good," said the woman, tossing a strand of curly dark hair off of her shoulder. "At least we'll have no more communication problems. You can let her go now, Brenner."
There was a rumble of assent behind Sally, and she felt the present behind her shift.
"Are you sure, Captain?" asked a very deep voice.
The Captain smiled.
"She won't run. At least, not yet."
There was movement behind her, and into Sally's view stepped a towering man, at least six and a half feet tall with bulging muscles. His head was bald, and in his ear was a gold earring. He peered at her suspiciously.
"What have you done to me?" Sally asked shakily.
"Oh good, it's working," said the Captain.
Sally glared at her.
"What was that?" she asked again.
"You should thank me. I've just given you the one thing you'll need to succeed as a scavenger around here. A babblefish."
"A what?" Sally asked.
"A babblefish," cut in a small, rather twitchy looking young man with eyes that darted all over the room. "It's a small device that takes in foreign sound waves and spits out ones that your brain can understand. It's how we can be talking to each other."
"You gave me a translator," Sally summed up.
"Exactly," said the twitchy youth, with a smile. Sally felt that under other circumstances, she actually could have liked this boy.
"I can't believe you didn't have one already," said a small, pert looking woman with a hank of white hair hanging in front of her otherwise chestnut locks. "How do you survive in this business without one?"
"How do you survive in this business without a ship?" asked the twitchy boy, his eyes darting from the wall of the craft, to Sally's face, and back again. "We didn't detect one anywhere around here. Unless it's cloaked, and I can't think of a cloaking device that would fool me,"
"What are you talking about?" Sally asked. "I don't have a ship,"
The Captain smiled, with disbelief in her cold black eyes.
"And you expect us to believe you, I'm sure."
"What shall we do with her, Captian?" rumbled the huge Brenner, from behind Sally.
"Take her back to the ship for questioning, I should think," replied the Captain, after a moment's thought. "We can't have her running back to her ship and telling her crew about this hulk. Besides, she could have all sorts of other valuable information for us."
Sally's mind was working double time.
"You can't take me," she said.
The Captain paused, her delicate eyebrow raised questioning.
"I have others – associates," Sally babbled, thinking up a lie quickly. "They'll be waiting for me. They'll come after me. You don't want a war on your hands, do you?"
Her mind automatically flew to Larry. If she could get a message to Larry, he could get help. From where, she didn't know, but he was her last hope.
"Others, eh?" said the man with the round glasses, with a smile.
"Hey, let me go!" a voice called from outside. Two men walked into view, each clamped on the arm of the struggling Larry. Sally's face fell. So much for that.
"Sally!" Larry yelled. "Sal?"
At a signal from the Captain, Larry was released. He rushed over to Sally, and hugged her quickly.
"When I heard you scream I feared the worst," he said.
Sally shook her head, and pulled away.
"No, Larry, I think the worst is yet to come," she replied, eyeing the ragtag group that stood around, watching them with eyes glittering with expectation.
Author's Note: Three week commercial break. Sorry guys. School is kicking my butt lately. I'm going to try to update these a whole lot sooner from now on. No more big gaps.
Why is it whenever I assemble a crew for a space ship in my mind they end up coming out looking like the crew of Serenity? It's like they're the quintessential crew. I was trying not to make the Captain like Zoe, but I think I failed. :-P
The idea of the babble fish of course belongs to the one and only Douglass Adams. Hey, it solves a lot of problems, like why all the aliens speak English. If this is the start of the show, might as well get these things out of the way as soon as possible.
More to come right after this short commercial break!