The concept of the Tomorrow People is the sole intellectual property of Roger Price. Other concepts within this story are mine.
Janice lay covered in her blanket, waiting for the end. The Lab was in darkness, and TIM, minus his soul core, was completely dormant. As the sounds of the battle outside the underground base raged on, Janice's breathing rate became laboured as the carbon dioxide levels rose to a significant proportion of the barely breathable air.
Janice sobbed, and wrapped the blanket around herself tightly as she thought of those she had lost – her family and her friends. She thought of Elizabeth. Would she make it to Vancouver Island with TIM's soul core? The battle sounds grew louder and louder until suddenly, they stopped.
"Hello?" a voice came from the far side of the Lab. Was this a Seran closing in for the kill? Janice pulled the blanket tighter over her head. Was this an illusion caused by the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air.
"Carol? Is that you?" said the voice. An unfamiliar male voice. But who did it belong to? Obviously someone who knew Carol. Obviously a Tomorrow Person, judging by the fact that whoever he was, he'd got into the lab without forced entry. Janice braved a peek at the stranger. She struggled to pick out the figure in the dark, but could make out the figure of a man who looked about forty, dressed in a white silky uniform.
"Who . . . who are you?" asked Janice, straining to speak.
"I'm a friend" said the voice. "Where is Carol?"
"Dead" sobbed Janice. "Carol's dead!"
"Are we alone?" asked the man.
"Yes" replied Janice.
"And the Tomorrow People?" asked the man.
"All dead" replied Janice, just as the lack of oxygen in the air got the better of her, and she passed out. When she came round, she found herself lying face down on the floor. Although she could see the Lab in the near distance, the image appeared faded, and the floor she lay on didn't seem like the Lab floor.
"It's just in case you throw up" said the man. "That's why you're lying there." Janice sat up as her head began to clear. The man stood behind her. Next to him was a circular device that he appeared to be adjusting. "I'm so sorry for your loss" said the man.
"Did you know Carol?" asked Janice, getting up onto her feet.
"We were great friends" replied the man.
"Are you from the Trig" asked Janice.
"No" said the man. He studied Janice for a moment. "Are you a relative?"
"She was my sister" said Janice.
"Of course" said the man. "The resemblance is very strong. Carol may have mentioned me. My name's Peter."
"Peter the Time Guardian!" said Janice excitedly. "Carol told me all about you!" Janice looked around. She and Peter were standing within a translucent canopy through which she could see the Lab. In the centre of the floor below the canopy was the circular control panel which Peter was manipulating. "And is this your TARDIS?"
"Sorry? TARDIS?" said Peter. "This word is unknown to me."
"Is this your time machine?" asked Janice.
"This is my time key, yes" said Peter.
"Then we can go back and warn them. Warn the Tomorrow People about the Seran!" said Janice excitedly.
"Easy now" said Peter, trying to calm her down. "I'm here to put things right. You're not a telepath, are you?"
"No, I'm not. Does that matter?" said Janice.
"Not at all" said Peter. "In fact, I was hoping you weren't telepathic."
"Oh, why?" asked Janice.
"You have no Prime Barrier" said Peter. Janice looked puzzled. "People like me, people like the Tomorrow People, we have a Prime Barrier. It's part of our brain that prevents us from killing. That's why I'm glad you're not a telepath, and you don't have a Prime Barrier."
"And you think that's important?" asked Janice. Peter did not reply. Janice thought about what Peter had said. "Are you asking me to kill somebody?"
"I just need you to help me set things right" said Peter.
"I said, are you asking me to kill somebody?" said Janice.
"Let me demonstrate" said Peter, as he manipulated the controls on the console. Janice felt the floor wobble and she fought to stay on her feet. The Lab beyond the canopy faded, to be replaced by the blackness of space. In the centre of the field of vision was a planet, the second of four orbiting a star. "The planet below is Seran. I take it you know about Seran?"
"Yes, I know about Seran" said Janice.
"This is Seran after the exodus of the Ketteen Reivers" said Peter, before indicating a large space ship approaching. "And over there is the ship containing the last surviving Serans."
"It looks like the ship we were on. When we were cloned" said Janice.
"Yes, that was a mistake" said Peter.
"Tell me about it" said Janice.
"We have to destroy that ship with all its occupants" said Peter. "The chain of events that led to the invasion and all those needless deaths started here."
"But if we destroy the ship, won't it change history?" asked Janice.
"That's just the point. The Seran ship is a time ship, and they've abused the laws of time to the point where innocents have suffered" said Peter. "They're the ones who've changed history."
"And what about the Serans" asked Janice.
"They have to die" said Peter.
"You mean we have to kill them?" asked Janice.
"It's the only way" said Peter.
"But you can't kill, right?" asked Janice. Peter gave Janice a knowing look. "So when you say "we" you mean me?"
"It's the only way" said Peter.
"You want to use me as an assassin? Surely there's a better way? Surely you can talk to them?" said Janice, appealing.
"Janice, this is the eighteenth time I've been here. I've tried talking to these people, and every time they've broken their promises" said Peter. "The Seran are a nuisance and must be stopped."
"I won't do it!" said Janice, folding her arms firmly.
"But Janice, you're our only hope" said Peter, appealing. "You're the only one who can kill!"
"Just because I can kill doesn't mean I will kill" said Janice. "It's just not in my nature, Peter, and frankly I'm insulted that you just take it for granted that I'll do your dirty work for you!"
"Okay" said Peter, defeated. "I'll take you back to your time and your Lab. I'll try to deal with the Seran on my own, but I'm not confident of success." Peter manipulated the controls on the console, and the Lab reappeared. Janice could hear the sounds of the battle above, the floor of the Lab was littered with fallen masonry and the remains of TIM. "It's strictly against the rules, but I'm going to tell you a little of our future. The lab will be destroyed in less than an hour, and your body will not be recovered. The Time Guardians will never have existed, and my very existence here will be an anomaly. There's only one answer."
"Genocide is not the answer" said Janice. Peter did not answer. Janice stepped forwards into the Lab. By now, the oxygen levels had dropped to dangerous levels. Janice felt dizzy and before she could pass out, she felt Peter grab her and pull her back under the canopy.
"The Seran are responsible for this. The deaths of your family, your friends, Carol, the destruction of Earth, the end of the future, and very soon your own death" said Peter, manipulating the controls on the console. Within seconds, they were orbiting Seran, with the Seran ship in sight. Peter's words had finally got through to Janice. She was beginning to see that, despite her own values, the Seran had to be wiped out.
"Okay, what do I have to do?" asked Janice. Peter waved his hand across the console. On a work surface next to him, a belt appeared. He picked it up and wrapped it around Janice's waist, locking the buckle.
"This belt is a matter transmitter. Being a non telepath, you can't jaunt, so we have to use a matter transmitter. I'm going to send you over to the Seran ship" said Peter.
"And what do I do then" asked Janice.
"The buckle contains a resonator. It will react with the engines of the Seran ship and cause them to overheat, destroying the ship" said Peter as he manipulated some controls on the panel.
"And you'll transport me back before the ship explodes?" asked Janice. Peter did not look up. "Because I wouldn't want to be blown into smithereens." Peter still didn't look up. "This is a return journey, isn't it Peter?" With these words, Janice dematerialised.
Peter stood with his back against the console and looked through the canopy at the Sean ship, deep in contemplation. After what seemed like an age, the Seran ship exploded, its hull cracking into small fragments. Peter thought about the enormity of what he'd asked Janice to do, before returning to the console and setting the controls for a surprise visit to an old friend.
"Can't we call it a day?" protested John.
"Just one more item" said Helen. "That perfume. What's it called now? I can't remember. Advertised on the telly. I'll know it when I see it." Helen led John towards the perfume department.
"Look, these bags are getting heavy!" John went on.
"I told you we should have brought the car" said Helen.
"That's not our way" said John. "Why drive when you can jaunt?"
"Okay then, just jaunt home with the shopping, and come back" said Helen.
"In the middle of a crowded department store?" said John. "Don't you want to alert the press first?"
"You're not offering me any solutions, John" said Helen. "Just five more minutes, I promise."
"Okay, but after that we go home" said John, just as they approached the perfume counter." Helen scanned the range of perfumes on the shelves for something to trigger her memory. "Why don't you just ask TIM what it's called?"
"We can't depend on TIM for everything, you know. Honestly, I think that computer's making you pain lazy!" said Helen, just as she was approached by an assistant.
"Hello, can I help you?" asked the assistant.
"I hope so" said Helen, reading the name on the assistant's badge, "Claire. There's an advertisement on television, but I can't remember the name of the perfume. It's the one with that singer. Oh, what's her name?"
"I think I know what you mean" said Claire. "It's called Mischief."
"That's it!" said Helen, as Claire went to the shelf to collect a sample of Mischief.
"Great! Can we go home now?" asked John just as his molile phone rang.
*Don't you just love Saps* 'pathed Helen.
"Hello?" said John into the phone. "Yes, we'd love to. Very thoughtful, what time? About twelve? See you then!" John put away his phone.
"Who was that?" asked Helen.
"Janice." said John. "Just invited us over for Sunday dinner tomorrow!"