Title: The Mark of the Palatier
Timeline: After the series one finale of Sarah Jane Adventures and the series four finale of Doctor Who
Disclaimers: Nope, not mine.
Although Maria Jackson missed her life on Bannerman Road, Washington, D.C., was amazing. Today had been no exception, she thought as she arrived home from school. Her dad was going out of town for the weekend on business. His note told her not to have any wild parties with aliens and to call him if she needed anything.
Any normal teenager would just roll their eyes, but Maria laughed. Living across the street from Sarah Jane Smith had been quite an adventure. Maria not only learned about the universe and its amazing (and scary) potential, but she learned about herself in the process.
Speaking of Sarah Jane, she was due to call her. As Maria made her way to her computer, she had to stop for a moment as a wave of dizziness washed over. She held steadfast to the counter, closing her eyes.
"What was that?" she asked herself once the dizziness passed. With a shrug, she chalked it up to having missed lunch, grabbed a banana and sat down to call Sarah Jane and her son, Luke.
By the time Luke had arrived at the computer, Maria felt ready to pass out and the banana was not sitting well. She was cold, and her hands were clammy. Her head was pounding unmercifully as well.
"Maria?" She didn't even hear Luke calling her name. "Mum!" he exclaimed.
Before Sarah Jane could even make an appearance on the webcam, Maria slumped to the keyboard, unconscious.
Sarah Jane had just finished watering her plants when a shout came from her son upstairs. She rushed up to see him calling out to his friend over the webcam. "Luke, what is it?"
"It's Maria, she just lost consciousness. I don't know what happened."
"Maria!" Sarah Jane said, moving to the computer. She whipped out her cell phone to call the young girl, hoping that would wake her up. Unfortunately, it didn't, so Sarah Jane turned to her son. "Did she say anything to you?"
"No. Once the webcam turned on, I noticed how pale she looked and then she collapsed."
Sarah Jane was pacing back and forth. She knew Alan was on business, but he had to be notified immediately. She quickly dialed his cell. "Alan!"
"Sarah Jane, to what do I owe this unexpected call?"
"You need to get home now, Alan," she said. "Luke was meeting Maria for a webcam call, and she collapsed."
Alan was stunned into silence, and when he finally snapped out of it, Sarah Jane could hear the worry in his voice. "What? What happened? I... I... I'll head home right now. Thank you, Sarah Jane."
"Do you have someone you can call to check on her?"
"I do. Our neighbor is a nurse. She can have the landlord open the door. I've got to go. I'll call you as soon as I know what's going on."
It was nearly two hours before Alan called back. By that time Maria's computer had automatically shut off and Sarah Jane was seriously considering booking a flight to Washington, D.C.
"Maria's fine right now. When Susan arrived, she was coming to and feeling better. She's resting in her room. Susan suggested I take her to see a doctor, but I wanted to talk to you first..." Alan said, hesitating.
"Alan?" she asked. "What's wrong?"
"There's something on the back of her hand. It could be anything, but it seems... I don't know... alien to me. I took a picture and e-mailed it to you. Maybe you or Mr. Smith have seen it before."
Luke stood up so Sarah Jane could check her e-mail. When she downloaded the photo, she let out a small gasp. She didn't need Mr. Smith to tell her what that was, but there was only one way to find the antidote.
"You have seen it before," Alan said.
"I have. A long time ago when I was traveling with the Doctor. I'll have to contact him to find out more. I never met the species that could do this."
"Do what exactly?"
Sarah Jane took a deep breath. "Alan, Maria's been poisoned. The toxin that she was infected with could very well kill her."
"God. So I should just sit here while my daughter dies! Sarah Jane, is there anything to be done until the Doctor gets here. If he'll even get here?"
"There is. I have a friend in UNIT. She's a doctor, and she'll be able to help. I'll send for her immediately."
"Good. We'll be waiting."
Sarah Jane hung up the phone and printed a copy of the mark. "Luke, have Mr. Smith digitize this and send a message to the Doctor. We need him here as soon as possible."
"Of course, Mum. What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to put a call into New York."
Maria opened her eyes to see her dad sitting on a chair next to her bed fast asleep. She still felt horrible and couldn't seem to remember anything that happened after getting home from school.
Suddenly a blinding flash of pain coursed through her head and she cried out, reaching for her dad's hand. "Maria!" Alan exclaimed.
"Dad!" she gasped. "Hurts."
Alan didn't know how to stop the pain she was experiencing so he held her tight as she rode it out. After five long minutes, Maria finally stopped writhing in pain and had either fallen asleep or passed out.
Probably the latter, Alan thought bleakly as he took in his little girl's appearance. She was deathly pale and shivering so he laid a blanket over her. He nearly jumped at the sound of someone knocking on the door.
Kissing her forehead, Alan got up to let the doctor from UNIT in. The doctor was a short, dark-skinned woman. "Hello, I'm Martha Jones," she said, extending her hand.
"Alan Jackson," he replied. "Thank you for getting here so quickly."
"Of course, Mr. Jackson."
"Maria's this way."
Alan led Martha to her room and watched as the young doctor got to work. "Sarah Jane told me what we were dealing with. The alien, a Palatier, can disguise itself as a human. It secretes its toxin by touch."
"And it's deadly," Alan replied nervously.
"'Fraid so, Mr. Jackson. I've studied the toxin before though and I have way to control it while we wait for the Doctor. Maria's mentioned him to you, yeah?"
He nodded. "She did."
"Good. Why don't you tell me what's happened since you've arrived home, and then we'll see if can't wake her up? Hopefully she'll remember how and when she became infected."
The Doctor was quite surprised to hear from Sarah Jane so soon after... No, he wasn't going to think about that right now because she needed him. Sarah Jane didn't often ask him for help and when he received Mr. Smith's message, he knew he had to return to Earth.
The Mark of the Palatier was quite nasty to whoever was unlucky enough to be infected and the antidote was 10 times worse! From what Sarah Jane mentioned about the young girl, he knew she would be all right until he arrived.
Once the TARDIS dematerialized, he found himself in Sarah Jane's driveway. The TARDIS, his old girl, was smiling down on him. Or maybe having six pilots helped clear away the cobwebs enough so he could steer her where he wanted to go once in a while. Either way, he arrived at his destination.
Sarah Jane was already standing outside. Next to her was her son, Luke, who she adopted. The boy was barely a year old and from what Sarah Jane told him, he had been created by someone called Mrs. Wormwood.
And from what the Doctor heard of the woman, he was happy he'd never run into her in his travels.
"Doctor, it's good to see you!" she said, giving him a hug.
He grinned. "Sarah Jane." Once they pulled apart, he looked at Luke, who seemed to straighten under his gaze. "Hello there, Luke. It's nice to finally meet you."
Luke accepted his handshake. "And you, Doctor. Mum has told me some wonderful stories of your adventures."
"Oh, you didn't tell him about the teeth and curls, did you?" he asked with a moan.
"She may have mentioned it."
Sarah Jane smiled, but then her face became serious. "We really should get going. Luke, have you seen Clyde? I told him to be here by 9am sharp if he wanted to come."
"I'm here! I'm here!" Clyde exclaimed, rushing towards them, an overnight bag in hand. "Hello! I'm Clyde. You're the Doctor, right?"
"That'd be me," the Doctor replied. "So, everyone ready? Good. Allons-y!"
Luke was asking the Doctor all sorts of questions while Sarah Jane and Clyde just leaned back against the railings and watched. "This is what you traveled in all those years?" Clyde asked.
Sarah Jane nodded. "This is it. The chameleon circuit is stuck, so it's always looked like a police box and the interior was completely different. It was smaller, but it was home for quite a while."
Before Clyde could respond, the TARDIS shuddered and the Doctor laughed. "Brilliant, Luke!" he said, clapping the young man on the back.
"I just flew the TARDIS," Luke told Sarah Jane.
"That was even a smoother ride than the Doctor could give us."
"Oy!" he replied.
She just shook her head, a smile playing on her lips. "Let's go then!"
Martha was waiting for them outside. She gave the Doctor and Sarah Jane a hug. "How's she doing?" the Doctor asked as Martha led them to the elevator.
"Her blood pressure is too low, and her heart rate has slowed considerably," Martha replied as they entered the apartment.
The Doctor nodded, pulling out a small vial and syringe. "We need to give her the antidote right away then!"
Sarah Jane let out a small gasp when she saw Maria's pale features. She immediately went to Alan and gave him a hug. "Alan, this is the Doctor," she told him as he dispensed the contents of the syringe in the young girl's vein.
"Thank you," he said quietly, taking the Doctor's hand once he was finished. "Thank you so much for helping my daughter."
He nodded. "But she's far from out of the woods yet, Mr. Jackson," the Doctor told him. "This antidote is worse than the poison. She'll pull through, no doubt, but not without going through more pain and hallucinations."
Alan stared at him as if he had three heads, but all the while completely understanding the gravity of the situation. "And if she hadn't been given the antidote, then she would have..."
"Died, yes. Mr. Jackson, I will not allow your daughter to die. Not while I still draw breath!"
Twenty minutes later, Sarah Jane and Martha had gone into the kitchen to make some tea and lunch. Luke and Clyde were talking quietly with the Doctor in the living room while Alan remained with Maria.
Sarah Jane was having trouble opening the tea bags. Martha noticed that her hands were shaking terribly and that tears were pouring from her eyes. "Sarah Jane," she said.
"Oh, God, Martha," Sarah Jane gasped out.
The younger woman took Sarah Jane into her arms. "It'll be all right, you'll see. From the stories Mr. Jackson told me, Maria is very strong willed."
Sarah Jane laughed as she pulled away, wiping her tears. "That she is! She wouldn't take no for an answer once she learned of aliens and the universe."
"Of course not!" Martha replied. "I didn't either. Speaking of aliens... the Doctor, has he told you anything about Donna?"
She shook her head. "No, he hasn't. I asked him where she was and he just gave me a look that said 'Don't' so I dropped it. Perhaps she decided to go back home, I don't know."
"We were so prepared, you know. All of us. We were so prepared to destroy the world and all the Doctor wants to do is protect us. I think that's why he comes to Earth and stops it from being overrun. It has nothing to do with the planet itself."
Sarah Jane was inclined to agree with Martha's assessment but before she could say anything, a scream echoed within the walls of the small apartment. "Maria!" Sarah Jane said.
"Let me go!" Maria was saying as the Doctor and Alan held her down. "Let me go, I don't want to be here! Leave me alone!"
"Maria, sweetheart, it's Dad. Just relax, you're going to be fine. Maria!"
A few more minutes, Maria calmed down and she blinked her eyes open. "Dad?"
"It's me, love," he replied, resting his hand on her forehead.
Tears began to fall from her eyes. "What's wrong with me? I keep having these horrible dreams and I hurt all over. Make it stop, Daddy, please!"
"Oh, Maria, you'll be all right soon enough." He looked up at the Doctor for confirmation.
The Doctor nodded. "Yes, Maria. The pain that you feel should be lessening soon. I am so sorry that I had to put you through this, but it was the only way to save you."
Maria looked up at the man. She'd never seen him before but she knew in an instant who he was. "You're Sarah Jane's Doctor!"
"My reputation proceeds me again," he replied with a smile.
"Thank you, Doctor," Maria said, drifting off to sleep.
He nodded. "It seems that she's out of the woods now, Mr. Jackson. She'll be as good as new after some much needed rest. Her temperature needs to lower as well."
"I don't... I don't know what to say," Alan cried, shaking the Doctor's hand. "Thank you! Oh, thank you so much!"
"You're welcome. Why don't you get some rest yourself? We'll keep an eye on her."
Alan nodded as relief settled in his body. He could definitely use the rest. "Please, help yourselves to anything, Doctor."
Once Alan had left the room, the Doctor collapsed onto the chair. He was so happy he had been able to save Maria. If he hadn't... He stood up suddenly realizing he had no time to wallowing in pity. He had an alien to catch!
"Martha!" he exclaimed. "Was Maria able to tell you how she may have come across the Palatier?"
She shook her head as she poured a cup of tea. "The last thing she remembers is leaving school."
"Well, it looks like we're going back to school."
Clyde stepped between them. "Wait a minute, if you're going to school you'll need someone to go undercover. Luke and me can handle that, right? I mean, anything to get back at the thing that nearly killed Maria."
"He's right," Luke replied. "We would have a better advantage than anyone else."
The Doctor looked up at Sarah Jane, who nodded. "Brilliant," he replied, pulling out his psychic paper and handing it to Luke. "Show this to the principal when you arrive. It will say that the two of you are exchange students. Your mum and I will be waiting in the parking lot so call her when you've seen the Palatier. Don't go after him alone, or you will end up like Maria!"
"Doctor," Martha said. "Maria's awake, and she's starting to remember what happened."
He nodded and went to the young girl's room. "Maria?"
"Hello, Doctor," she said with a sweet smile. She was tired but feeling much better than she had a few hours ago. "I remembered something that may help you find the alien."
"Go on," the Doctor replied with a smile of his own.
Maria explained that she has felt something off about a fellow classmate of hers. The girl in question was usually bubbly and exciting but for some reason seemed quiet and boring.
"When I saw her at lunch, I decided to talk to her, see if she was all right. She asked me to go with her to the girls' restroom, so I thought she wanted to be alone to talk about what was bothering her.
Maria closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she recalled the frightening features of the creature and it's scream as it came after her. She opened her eyes when she felt someone grab her hand.
She nodded to the Doctor and continued. "The Palatier, was it, squeezed my hand. I must have fainted after that because I woke up on the ground. I couldn't have been out for more than 10 minutes."
"Maria, do you have any pictures of this girl the Palatier is inhabiting?"
"Yeah," she replied, pointing to her dresser. "That's me with her in the purple frame."
The Doctor stood taking a good look at the young girl before handing the picture to Luke and Clyde. "All right, Maria, we're heading out now. Martha will stay with you in case you need anything."
Before she could say anything, they were gone. "Is he always like that?" Maria asked Martha.
"Only every minute of the day," she replied with a chuckle.
"Luke, careful!" Sarah Jane exclaimed as the Palatier leapt at him.
It had taken them nearly an hour to find it and once it realized what Luke and Clyde were up to, the Palatier had turned to it's original form and tried to poison the boys.
Luckily, the Doctor and Sarah Jane arrived in time.
The original form of a Palatier was different than anything Sarah Jane had ever seen before even in her travels with the Doctor. It had bright pink skin and huge, round, blue eyes that were pleading with them. And apparently it was a baby.
The Doctor was trying to reason with her, but she just wouldn't listen. "Your mother will be worried," he said. "We really should get you back home where you'll be safe, little one."
The Palatier paused and eyed him curiously. She had been away from her mommy and daddy for a long time and didn't remember how she was separated from them. "I'm sorry," she said, dropping to the ground.
"It's all right," the Doctor replied. "Why don't you just come with me and I'll take you home?"
Once the small Palatier was dropped off, the TARDIS headed back to Earth. Luke and Clyde were discussing their trip while Sarah Jane moved closer to the Doctor.
"Fascinating, isn't it?" he asked. He didn't wait for her to respond. "The Palatier used to be a conquering race, but once they began having families all of that changed."
He either didn't hear Sarah Jane or just didn't respond. "Did you see how deeply concerned they were for, not only their child, but for the people of Earth?"
"Doctor!" she said, grabbing his shoulders and forcing him to face her. He shut his mouth and looked at her in confusion. "Where's Donna?"
The Doctor's expression was not unlike a deer caught in headlights. "She's... home. With her family."
"And?" Sarah Jane prompted.
He flipped a few switches and buffered another. "I had to wipe her memories, Sarah Jane," the Doctor replied as he stopped and stared sadly at the console. "Everything she's ever seen, everything she's ever done... me. I had to take them all away or it would have killed her."
Sarah Jane stared at him, completely stunned. Luke and Clyde noticed the tension and left the console room to explore the TARDIS. She reached over and took his hand. "Doctor, you did what had to be done to save her."
"I know, Sarah Jane."
"I'm sure she would understand."
The Doctor shook his head. "She begged me," he told her. "Donna didn't want this, but I couldn't let her die. I... but this is 100 times worse."
Sarah Jane pulled him into her arms as he cried. They stood that way for the longest time after the TARDIS landed.
Maria took a deep breath as she looked in the mirror. She was very grateful to be alive and that the creature that poisoned her was safely on it's home planet. She couldn't imagine being lost and not being able to know where your parents were.
With a nod, she left her room and headed down their hall where she found her Father and friends in the dining room drinking tea. "Is there room for one more?" she asked with a smile.
"Maria!" Sarah Jane replied, going over to the young girl for a hug. "We were just wondering when you were going to be joining us. Have a seat, dear."
Alan came set a cup of tea in front of his daughter, placing a kiss on the top of her head. "You feeling better?" he asked.
"Much, Dad, thanks." Maria looked around at everyone, smiling. "Thank you everyone. You were all wonderful!"
Clyde hit Luke on the shoulder. "Hey, you should have seen us! Luke and me! We were awesome!"
"That they were," the Doctor said with a grin. "But alas, I must be off!"
Hugs and last minute chatter was exchanged as everyone said goodbye. Maria was the last to hug the Doctor. "Seriously, Doctor, thank you so much! I don't even know how I can repay you."
"The one thing you can do, Maria. Be brilliant!" he told her as he followed the boys into the TARDIS.
Maria smiled and nodded She felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see Sarah Jane. "He really is fantastic! Honestly, I almost thought you were making him up."
"Sometimes I feel like I have," Sarah Jane said as she gave Maria a hug. "Make sure you get some rest, hmm?"
"Of course!" she replied.
Sarah Jane smiled and with one last wave she went into the TARDIS. Alan put an arm around Maria as it dematerialized. "You have some amazing friends, sweetheart."
"Don't I know it, Dad."