The jeep drove through the grounds of the school. “UNIT's been watching Rattigan Academy for ages. It's all a bit Hitler Youth. Exercise at dawn and classes and special diets."
“Ross, one question,” Lilith said. “If UNIT thinks that ATMOS is suspicious, then—”
“How come we've got it in the jeeps?” Ross finished. “Yeah, tell me about it. They're fitted as standard on all government vehicles. We can't get rid of them till we can prove there's something wrong. Drives me around the bend.” He said the last sentence as he turned right.
“Oh, nice one,” the Doctor complimented.
“Timed that perfectly.”
“This is you final destination,” the ATMOS system said.
They got out of the jeep, and walk up to Rattigan who was standing still while the students were running around the building.
“Is it PE?” the Doctor asked, somewhat joking. “I wouldn't mind a kick around, I've got me daps on.”
Luke clasped his hands behind his back. “I suppose you're the Doctor?”
“And you are?” Luke asked, eyeing Lilith. The Doctor bristled.
“Not interested,” she said stiffly. “But I’m the Collector.”
The boy clenched his jaw. “Your commanding officer phoned ahead.”
“Ah, but I haven't got a commanding officer,” the Doctor said. “Have you?” The two geniuses stared at each other for a moment. “Oh, this is Ross. Say hello, Ross.”
“Good afternoon, sir.” Ross nodded at Luke.
“Let's have a look, then. I can smell genius!” The Doctor grinned. “In a good way.”
“This way.” Luke led them to the Academy laboratory.
The Doctor lit up. “Oh, now, that's clever. Look!” He put on his specs and pulled Lilith over. “Single molecule fabric, how thin is that? You could pack a tent in a thimble. Ooh! Gravity simulators! Terraforming, biospheres, nano-tech steel construction. This is brilliant! Do you know, with equipment like this you could, ooh, I don't know…"
“Move to another planet?” Lilith suggested, looking at Luke suspiciously. “Or something along those lines.”
‘None of this should be here,’ the Doctor thought to Lilith.
‘Seriously. Terraforming? That’s way beyond a twenty first century kid genius.’
Luke smiled tightly. “If only that was possible.”
“If only that were possible,” the Doctor corrected. “Conditional clause.”
“Grammar Nazi,” Lilith coughed.
Luke glared at him. “I think you'd better come with me.” They were brought to a large, open room with what looked suspiciously like a transmat in the corner. “You're smarter than the usual UNIT grunts, I'll give you that.”
The Doctor looked mildly affronted. “He called you a grunt. Don't call Ross a grunt. He's nice. We like Ross. Look at this place.”
“What exactly do you want?” Luke demanded.
The Time Lord shrugged. “I was just thinking. What a responsible eighteen year old. Inventing zero carbon cars? Saving the world.”
“Takes a man with vision.”
“Mm, blinkered vision. Because ATMOS means more people driving. More cars, more petrol. End result, the oil's going to run out faster than ever. The ATMOS system could make things worse.”
Luke grasped his chance to try to make the Doctor look stupid. “Yeah. Well, you see, that's a tautology. You can't say ATMOS system because it stands for Atmospheric Emissions System. So you're just saying Atmospheric Emissions System system. Do you see, Mister Conditional Clause?”
Lilith made no attempt to hide the disgust on her face. “It's been a long time since anyone said no to you, hasn’t it?”
“Not easy, is it? Being clever,” the Doctor said. “You look at the world and you connect things, random things, and think, why can't anyone else see it? The rest of the world is so slow.”
“And you're all on your own.”
The Doctor whipped an ATMOS device out of his transdimensional pockets. “But not with this. Because there's no way you invented this thing single handed. I mean, it might be Earth technology, but that's like finding a mobile phone in the Middle Ages. No, no, I'll tell you what it's like. It's like finding this in the middle of someone's front room. Albeit it's a very big front room.” He put his hand on the transmat
“Why, what is it?” Ross asked.
“Yeah, just looks like a thing, doesn't it? People don't question things. They just say, oh, it's a thing.”
“Leave it alone,” Luke warned.
The Doctor stepped into the transmat. “Me, I make these connections. And this, to me, looks like a teleport pod.” He pushed a button and vanished.
“For a genius, that man is extraordinarily stupid,” Lilith muttered.
“Why?” Ross questioned.
“That thing could teleport him anywhere. He’s a moron.”
The Doctor reappeared. “Ross, get out! Luke, you've got to come with us.”
Someone in a sort of battle armor appeared just before the Doctor could zap the teleport with the sonic screwdriver.
Lilith pulled out her blaster. “Sontaran!”
“That's your name, isn't it?” the Doctor added. “You're a Sontaran. How did we know that, hey? Fascinating isn't it? Isn't that worth keeping us alive?”
Ross pointed his gun at the Sontaran. “I order you to surrender in the name of the Unified Intelligence Taskforce.”
“Well that's not going to work,” the Doctor said. “Cordolaine signal, am I right? Copper excitation stopping the bullets. Lilith, put the blaster away.”
“He’s got a demmatrix rod, Dad. The blaster is justified.”
“How do you know so much?” the Sontaran demanded. “Who are they?
“He didn't give his name,” Luke insisted. “But she’s Lilith Smith.”
“There you go,” Lilith snorted, “a human being a typical human. But you’re not being a typical Sontaran, are you?” she accused. “Hiding? Using teenagers? Stopping bullets? A Sontaran should face bullets with dignity. For shame.”
“You dishonor me!”
“Yeah?” she taunted. “Then show yourself.”
“I will look into my enemy's eyes!” The Sontaran removed his helmet.
Ross stared. “Oh my God.”
“And your name?” the Doctor asked.
“General Staal, of the Tenth Sontaran Fleet. Staal the Undefeated.”
Lilith made a face. “Well, that's not a very good name. What if you do get defeated? Staal the Somewhat Undefeated But More Like Ninety Seven Percent So Never Mind?”
The Doctor snickered.
“He's like a potato,” Ross said, “a baked potato. A talking baked potato.”
“Now, Ross, don't be rude,” the Doctor chided. “You look like a pink weasel to him." He started playing with a squash racket and ball. “The Sontarans are the finest soldiers in the galaxy, dedicated to a life of warfare. A clone race, grown in batches of millions with only one weakness.”
“Sontarans have no weakness!” Staal declared.
“No, it's a good weakness.”
“Aren't you meant to be clever?” Luke hissed. “Only an idiot would provoke him.”
“He’s the dumbest genius known to man,” Lilith grumbled.
The Doctor continued his rant. “No, but the Sontarans are fed by a probic vent in the back of their neck. That's their weak spot. Which means, they always have to face their enemies in battle. Isn't that brilliant? They can never turn their backs.”
“We stare into the face of death!”
“Yeah? Well, stare at this.” The Doctor smashed the ball into the back of the teleport pod, where it rebounded and hit Staal right on the probic vent. “Run!”
He, Lilith, and Ross sprinted out of the room, through the lab, and out of the building. They got in the Jeep and drove away as fast as they could.
“Greyhound Forty to Trap One. Repeat, can you hear me? Over,” the Doctor said into the walkie-talkie.
“Why's it not working?” Ross asked.
“The Sontarans,” Lilith spat. “If they can trace that, they can isolate the ATMOS.”
“Turn left,” the sat-nav said.
“Try going right,” the Doctor suggested.
“It said left.”
Lilith rolled her eyes. “We heard. Go right.”
Ross tried to turn the wheel, but it turned the other way instead. “I've got no control. It's driving itself. It won't stop.”
The Doctor tried to sonic the ATMOS. “Ah, it's deadlocked! I can't stop it.”
“The sat-nav's just a box, wired through the whole car.”
“We're headed for the river!” Ross said.
“ATMOS, are you programmed to contradict my orders?” the Doctor demanded.
“Anything I say, you'll ignore it?”
“Then drive into the river,” the Doctor ordered. “I order you to drive into the river. Do it. Drive into the river.” The jeep stopped at the edge of the river and the three of them got out, hurrying away from the Jeep. “Get down!
The sat-nav went bang with a few sparks and a bit of smoke. Lilith frowned. “Aw, was that it?”
The Doctor stared at her. “I’m sorry, are you upset there wasn’t a big, flaming explosion?”
She shrugged. “What can I say? Gotta love the explosions.”
The Doctor rang the doorbell to the Noble house and Donna answered. “You would not believe the day we’re having,” he said, pulling Donna over to the family car.
He found the ATMOS device below the engine bay.
“I’ll requisition us a vehicle,” Ross offered.
“Anything without ATMOS,” Lilith reminded him.
“And don't point your gun at people,” the Doctor added.
Ross left just as Donna’s grandfather came out of the house. “Is it him? Is it him? Is it the Doctor?” When he saw Lilith and the Doctor, his eyes widened. “Ah, it's you two!”
Lilith tilted her head to the side. “It’s you.”
Donna looked shocked. “What, have you met before?”
“Christmas Eve,” the Time Lady explained. “We were teleported back to that replica of the Titanic before Dad could finish his sentence.”
“And you never said?” Donna asked her grandfather.
“Well, you never said. Wilf, sir. Wilfred Mott. You must be one of them aliens.”
“Yeah, but don't shout it out. Nice to meet you properly, Wilf.” The Doctor shook Wilf’s hand.
The old man stared at it. “Oh, an alien hand.”
Lilith giggled. “Lilith Smith, sir,” she introduced.
“You’re his daughter, then?”
“Yep, that’s me,” she said with a smile.
“Donna, anything?” the Doctor asked.
Donna, who was trying to call Martha, frowned at the phone. “She's not answering. What is it, Sontorans?”
“Sontarans,” the Doctor corrected. “But there's got to be more to it. They can't be just remote controlling cars. That's not enough. Is anyone answering?”
“Hold on.” Apparently, Martha had answered. “Martha. Hold on, he's here.”
“Martha, tell Colonel Mace it's the Sontarans. They're in the file. Code Red, Sontarans. But if they're inside the factory tell them not to start shooting. UNIT will get massacred. I'll get back as soon as I can. You got that?”
Lilith heard Martha reply and the Doctor turned back to the car with the hood up.
“But you tried sonicing it before. You didn't find anything,” Donna pointed out.
“Yeah, but now I know it's Sontaran, I know what I'm looking for.”
“The thing is, Doctor,” Wilf said, “that Donna is my only grandchild. You got to promise me you're going to take care of her.”
“Believe me, Wilf, she takes care of him.” Lilith smirked.
“Oh yeah, that's my Donna. Yeah, she was always bossing us round when she was tiny. The Little General we used to call her.”
Lilith cocked an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”
Donna rolled her eyes. “Yeah, don't start.”
“And some of the boys she used to turn up with,” Wilf continued. “Different one every week. Here, who was that one with the nail varnish?”
“Matthew Richards,” Donna replied. “He lives in Kilburn now. With a man.”
“Is that a problem?” Lilith asked, defensively. Wilf looked at her, confused.
“Lilith likes girls,” Donna explained.
Spikes suddenly popped out of the ATMOS device. “Whoa! It's a temporal pocket! I knew there was something else in there. It's hidden just a second out of sync with real time.”
“But what's it hiding?” Donna wondered.
Donna’s mother— Sylvia, Lilith thought— came over. “I don't know, men and their cars. Sometimes I think if I was a car.” She got a good look at the Doctor. “Oh, it's you! Doctor what was it?”
“Yeah, that's me.” The Doctor waved without looking up.
“What, have you met him as well?” Wilf asked.
“Dad, it's the man from the wedding. When you were laid up with Spanish flu. I'm warning you, last time that man turned up it was a disaster.”
Lilith sighed. “Yeah, trouble seems to follow him everywhere.”
The spikes started giving off gas. “Get back!” the Doctor shouted. He pointed the sonic at the car and buzzed it. “That'll stop it.”
It caused a bang and extra smoke, but the gas stopped. “I told you!” Sylvia exclaimed. “He's blown up the car! Who is he, anyway? What sort of doctor blows up cars?”
“Excuse you, that’s my dad you’re talking about!” Lilith snapped.
“Oh, not now, Mum!” Donna hissed.
Sylvia rolled her eyes. “Oh, should I make an appointment?”
The Doctor poked at the device with the sonic. “That wasn't just exhaust fumes, Some sort of gas. Artificial gas.”
“And it's aliens, is it?” Wilf questions. “Aliens?”
“But if it's poisonous,” Lilith said, “then they've got poisonous gas in every car on Earth.”
Wilf got in the car. “It's not safe. I'm going to get it off the street.” The car locked him inside and started the engine. Thick gas came from the exhaust pipe.
“Hold on! Turn it off. Granddad, get out of there!” Donna shouted.
“I can't! It's not locked! It's them aliens again!”
“What's he doing?” Sylvia demanded. “What's he done?”
“They've activated it!” the Doctor growled. Gas was pouring from the exhaust pipes of hundreds of parked cars.
“There's gas inside the car!” Donna exclaimed. “He's going to choke! Doctor!”
Lilith grabbed the sonic and tried unlocking the car door. “It won't open!”
The Doctor pulled all the connections he could find in the engine, but the gas continued to fill the car.
“Get me out of here!” Wilf begged before collapsing.
“Doctor!” Donna yelled.
Lilith swore in Gallifreyan.