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SPOILERS: 1.10 Hearts and Minds
Up All Night Long
(And there's something very wrong)
It's six in the morning and Erica is sitting at her kitchen table in a blood drenched tank top while Nathaniel and Hobbes stand over a neutralized visitor. The smell of gunpowder hangs in the air mingling with the scent of burnt French toast and bacon.
"Got any more coffee?"
"What is this?" she asks to no one specifically as Hobbes takes down a mug and searches the cupboards, "This isn't her. We've got to get a hold of Jack, let him know he may be in danger."
Nathaniel nods bending down to check the soldier's pockets, "Maybe it's a rogue, something unofficial."
"Why are you so sure it isn't Anna?" Hobbes asks taking a sip of his drink.
"She saw Erica two nights ago and right before they're due to leave she puts a hit on her? Why not wait? Why invite her at all? No," he unearths a round disk, standing up to examine it, "Erica's right, this doesn't add up. We need to find Jack."
"And Nichols." Hobbes adds
"But mostly Jack," Erica stands, taking her plate and dropping it in the sink, "It can't be a coincidence. We can't get a hold of him and now this happens. Nathaniel? Go to the lab, see if you can figure out what that disk is. Contact who you need to for answers, but don't let them trace you back to Maria. Hobbes you're on body disposal, id and get her out of here then check your connections for anyone who may know why she was here. I'm going to find Jack. Everyone clear?" They nod, "Let's go."
In my own home. The thought is close to a physical thing, making its presence known with each step she takes in finding Jack.
Not while she was out in the field so it looked like an accident or in the middle of the night when she was sure to be asleep and unaware; and not by a random dispensable V, but a soldier more machine than creature who hadn't blinked when Hobbes shot her in the back of the head. Everything about it was wrong, sloppy even.
On her way to the last place on her list, she calls up one of the precinct shrinks, giving them only as much as they need to draw up a character profile. The profiler was hesitant but agreed to hit the board and get back to her. She snaps the phone shut, turning onto the dirt road per the directions from the database.
At the end of the path is a small one story cottage, unkempt but decidedly not vacant. When she gets out to wipe her fingers along the guard rail they come up clean, foot prints in the gravel and a handful of other tell tale signs that someone has been traipsing the privately owned land.
Hesitantly she circles towards the garden, gun poised in front of her and crouched low beneath the windows
"Need something?" she pivots, pressing the nozzle of her gun into a familiar face
"I could have killed you." she lowers the weapon
Jack just shrugs. He's wearing a light jacket under which appears to be a shirt but are in fact bandages wrapping all the way up his abdomen. She steps forward and he steps back towards the stoop "Come inside, I'll tell you everything."
He'd gone out looking for Ryan as promised, frequented his old job who claimed they hadn't seen him in close to months and trying in vain to get a hold of Val and the doctor. As a last ditch effort he'd decided to check the house which they'd all gone through previously. It was while he was digging through the garage again that a handful of Visitors had arrived. He'd hidden, they'd found them and they'd fought. He was out numbered and took a sound beating if the scars on his face and the limp in his walk were any proof.
"How did you get out?"
"They were called away, left me to die I suppose. I managed to call Father Travis before I blacked out. I didn't want to go the hospital for obvious reasons so he brought me here. I guess you know that Ryan's house is boarded up."
"Stopped by before I looked for you."
"What you don't know is who did the boarding up." she raises an eyebrow, "Ryan. I went back and there he was, with the visitors who did this to me. "
"No, he's one of them I'd bet my life on it. Damn near did."
"God." Erica collapses onto the couch and Jack reaches out a hand to place on her knee
"How have things been on your end?"
She fills him in, slowly, editing as need be. The Guest situation makes him uncomfortable, but he forces through it praises her for the results and gives words of encouragement for the tasks ahead. His wide forgiving eyes, the way he assures her that Tyler will be alright and that she's doing all this in order to protect him; all of it only makes her feel that much more guilty for what she's been keeping from him, from all of them.
He squeezes her knee, "What? What is it?"
"I can't say."
"It's about Anna."
"What about her?"
"We after I took down Guest she didn't just thank me. We had dinner, I had a little too much wine. That night she came to my room to make me explain and she touched me."
"She does that, it's a-"
"Just listen, okay? You remember what Ryan told us, about bliss and its effect on the Vs. Well he didn't explain it right, it's more of a reflection of her own thoughts and emotions and if they have no emotions it doesn't effect her but if you do," Erica closes her eyes no longer able to meet Jacks', "if you do then she feels what you feel. And she can't manipulate it because she can't handle it and when she can't handle it she falls apart."
"How do you know this?"
"I felt so happy, Jack, do you know how long that's been? To be honest I'm not even sure I know."
"I kissed her and she kissed me back. One thing lead to another, you know how it goes." she laughed hollowly, "Or maybe you don't. It, uh, it happened again when I went onboard with Tyler, that's why she asked me to go to London with her, the real reason why I couldn't say no," she opens her eyes to see that he hasn't looked away, "Jack? Landry? Say something."
"Your phone is on vibrate."
She sighs, recognizing Hobbe's number and standing, showing her back to the priest
"What have you got for me?"
"A big fucking problem that's what. Be at the lab in an hour."
Erica has memories of her Sundays before the visitors arrived. Work spread out on the kitchen table while she listened to jazz and made French toast with strawberries and whipped cream. Tyler setting aside his phone to steal bacon from the pan and change the station. Eating as he attempted to persuade her into letting him do this that and the other, nodding vaguely until the inevitable
To which she'd smile and shake her head, turning back to her work as he groaned about not wanting to do whatever she had planned for them that day.
Now she sits in a ratty warehouse while Maria explains that in two days a shipment of vaccines will be distributed to men women and children, half of whom will die because of it. They know the original vaccine was created to prevent a flu virus, but the sample Hobbes got a hold of that's due to leave the UK to the US is similar to that of HIV.
"It lies dormant, attacks the immune system and triggers hundreds of other archaic diseases that our bodies have evolved to deal with overtime. The longer you wait to treat it the worse it gets, if allowed to progress to its full blown capacity time of contamination to time of death is less than three days."
Nathaniel had snuck on board to confirm that a new project was underway as well, set to be introduced mere months after the vaccine was distributed, discontinued then redistributed two years later in smaller quantities.
"So bottom line they poison us, cure us, let this thing kill most of us off again and then control who gets it." Hobbes glares at Nathaniel, "Swell crowd you got there, lizard man."
"In two years the Visitors may have taken over Earth completely," Erica examines Maria's charts and research, "seems like a way to control the population and our dependency on them at the same time."
"The tainted strains are mixed in with the pure ones, I can redirect the orders to put them in a separate shipment but they have to be destroyed. Hobbes is wanted there and Maria is supposed to be dead, but you and Jack should be able to handle it. I've recreated some V technology that will help you along the way. Jack?" Throughout the entire briefing the man has kept silent in the corner, boring holes in the back of Erica's head, "Are you with us?"
He meets Nathaniel's eyes now and gives a curt movement of the head which everyone takes as agreement, setting down to the task of fine tuning the plan.
"We've tracked the source of the leak. Digital imaging of the buildings inhabitants coming in now."
Anna watches four unrecognizable forms begin to focus. A woman with blond hair bends to whisper something in the ear of one of the males, dropping a kiss onto his forehead before pulling away and heading out a back door.
"Kill them all."
The soldier had been activated for one purpose and she intends to fulfill it. She removes the flattened bullet from the back of her human skin and the dented metal plate beneath the wig which had slowed the bullet's progression. The bastard had hit a major artery of the human flesh and blood was everywhere, she shook some off her crushed comm device before securing it back in place
"Open for transmission."
"Re-activate attack sequence. Subjects: Detective Erica Evans, Former Army Chaplain Jack Landry. End input."
Marcus grins and disconnects the device.
The defective V had been eliminated after giving them nothing, the priest had left with Erica, the mercenary was inexplicably missing and the scientist had been too weak to withstand the interrogation and perished during questioning.
Incompetence surrounded her. Yet there was little Anna could do about it now, suspended a thousand odd miles in the air. Her appearance on the flight was a show of faith, the commercial airliner the first to be adapted to blue energy. A once complicated process unknowingly refined throughout the years. When it landed safely the crew was instructed to release all passenger's before she made her exit. Safety, reliability, selflessness. Their image must shift with their actions, securing them into the human's daily routines.
"How is our detective?" she asks of an assistant
"She arrived at Heathrow an hour ago and is checking in. Her reservations."
He hands her a folder which contains among other things a flat screen tracking the woman's movements. She stands bored at the counter, chatting with the bellhop as the hotel finishes straightening her room. A distinctive bulge outlines the gun secured to her waist and her smile though convincing is strained. Anna hands back the folder
"I want updates of her whereabouts on the hour. Leave no room for mistake."
"Yes, my Queen."
Jack was waiting for her in the room. He had adopted a persistent look of worry and it didn't waver now as he informed her he hadn't been able to get through to Home.
"She's probably taking care of the baby."
"Nathaniel did a sweep, the room's clear of bugs."
"Thank god," Erica drops her bags and sits on the edge of the bed, "there's cameras everywhere, I caught one of hers following me, they got off on the floor beneath. Whatever she's using this conference as a cover for? It's big."
"Think it's related to the shipment?"
"I don't know, there's still something bothering me about that. There's been no word from Home since the sweep?"
"Maybe even before that, the scan is set to a timer and automatically sends the results. I haven't spoken directly to Bass or Nate since the briefing."
"Get in touch with Hobbes and find them. Shit." she glances at the clock, "Commencement brunch on the first floor, Anna insisted that I-"
"I'll be in contact later." Jack cuts in, "Sooner if I can't reach Hobbes."
She runs her fingers through her hair with a sigh, eyeing her unpacked bags and the dress code requirements given to her at the front desk. She hates these things.
Jack watches her closely, crossing over to the closet where the passageway he came through is hidden, "Erica?"
"I don't think I have to tell you how important it is we succeed."
"No, you don't."
"Good. Neither of us can afford to become," he glares, "distracted."
"If you're telling me to stay away from Anna you can forget about it Landry, alright? I don't have a choice in this."
His hand grips the closet door, "So it's Landry now?" before she can respond he leaves, the door hissing shut behind him, leaving Erica alone in the room.
"Good afternoon. I look forward to the unveiling of our latest project with the utmost anticipation so let me be the first to welcome you all to what we hope shall be the beginning of yet another path connecting one world to another. Speaking today we have-"
Erica watches Anna introduce the keynote speakers and scientists who will form the many panels and lectures scheduled for the day. The government approved Intel she'd been given detailed the conferences itinerary which would apparently prepare the less enlightened for the complicated mechanics of the final presentation or serve as a brush up for those involved in it.
She was seated at a large table towards the front with a handful of other law enforcement agents, but the crowd was mostly composed of politicians and representatives from various biological and agriculture groups. She noticed at the press table that Decker was ominously missing, Jack had defended the young reporter vehemently and she wondered if there wasn't sense in that. Anyone as close to Anna as they'd believed he was would be here.
"-I hope to see all of you at the unveiling tonight, until then we are of peace."
Her leave of the podium was met with a round of applause followed immediately by the shifting of chairs and hum of voices as people moved towards the buffet or the presentation halls.
"Any of you rat packs going to those?" a British officer laughs, waving a schedule towards the doors, "I'd rather investigate the effects of ham and eggs on the human digestive system."
The others roll their eyes, but Erica gives a small laugh, accepting his invitation to stroll around the banquet hall. His name is Peter and he's attending unofficially, his brother one of the humans working with the visitors on what he referred to as Project X.
"That's not the official name mind you, but gossping runs in the blood. It's a wonder I'm not a biologist myself as much as he blabs on those little experiments of his. What brings you here then?"
Erica waves her hand when he makes to drop a healthy stack of sandwiches on her plate, "FBI and truth be told I'm not sure."
"Asked for you specifically did she?"
"Her." he points a fork to Anna who is seated at a table no more than a few feet away, eyes rapt on Erica while dignitaries battle for her attention, "Had you in her sights since you came in. Figured you were one of them 'till I saw you break a smile. Their kind," he shakes his head, "not much for jokes."
Erica tosses an orange in the air with a rueful nod, "No, no they're not."
"Oh now I've done it." he snickers, leaning close to the detective and nodding towards Anna who has stood up, "Here she comes, quick act like we're discussing the prospect of nuclear weaponry altered by alien technology and castrating Europe's entire defensive military division."
"Oh yes, see if they manage to-hello there!"
He backs away from Erica feigning interest in the gourmet tomato soup as Anna turns her gaze upon him, measuring him up in one smooth glance before focusing her attention on Erica.
"You made it."
"Looks that way."
"Did you enjoy the speech?"
"Yes, very empathetic. I guess practice makes perfect."
Anna's fingers flicker briefly into a fist, too quickly for anyone to notice in passing. Erica stifles a grin.
"Enjoy your stay detective," Anna responds calmly, glancing at Peter again, "if you have any problems feel free to bring them directly to me."
"I'll do that."
Anna outstretches her hand and Erica takes it, Anna overlaps it with her other their eyes locked. For a moment Erica feels .something. Something that has become familiar but not quite, warmth spreading from her fingertips and crawling slowly up her arms, whispering up her neck like a touch.
Anna breaks the grasp, looking extremely satisfied as she nods at Peter and returns to her table, putting every bit of sway imaginable into her walk.
"Evans? You alright?"
Erica places a hand on her neck, eyeing the plate she'd set down at some point, "I'm fine, I just need a little fresh air."
As soon as she's outside the doors her phone rings, an automated call with Hobbe's recorded voice on the other end. Under the guise of investigating an American death she excuses herself from the banquet and hails a cab.
"I advise you against investigating this." Marcus says, watching his queen flick through the projections she'd been pulled aside to receive, "I fail to see in what way this contributes to our plans. Furthermore it goes against everything we believe."
"We believe in Ultimate Destiny. So long as it ends in the enslavement of Earth's inhabitants then the means are subject to improvement."
"How can you be so sure in the precision of-" he picks up the documents she casts to the side, analyzing the data quickly, "You've already done it."
"Not in a structured setting."
"It's her, isn't it?" he approaches the desk, going through a holographic file and flinging an image of the destroyed eggs before her eyes, "The human who did this. Who killed hundreds if not thousands of potential lives."
"She will be eliminated once I can say that her ability to receive bliss is an anomaly. If not then we must devise safeguards to ensure humans cannot penetrate our bond. It would be catastrophic."
"For the good of the many the few shall be sacrificed."
"Not few." she traces over the photo of a charred egg, meeting Marcus's eyes with a cold smile, "Just one."
The guard had posed something of a problem, Erica drags his body to the side and removes a knife, cutting deep into the side of his forehead and finding reptilian skin. She removes his id card and stashes him in a closet, bundling his uniform and inserting the chip Nathaniel had given her into the camera just above the storage room door. It would project the image of a similar shipping yard with a code that would mask the numbers on the doors and shelving units. They ran an update on the system every half hour which would detect the chip, she had until then to get where she needed to be.
Under the safety of being unseen from security she keeps herself pressed to the walls in case she comes upon a guard or worker, slipping past a janitor humming to himself and into the storage room. Jack outstretches a hand, changing into the uniform while Erica turns around and surveys what they're about to destroy.
"How was the commencement ceremony?"
"Nice considering the circumstances."
"Did you see Anna?"
"Well she didn't kill me on sight."
"Must be love." he mutters, tossing a wig and prosthetic nose to her when she faces him.
She dons the disguise and removes a bag of the devices, tossing a few to Jack and getting to work. Nathaniel had described them as acid bombs, an organism from their planet. It attacked and disintegrated bacteria and by extension viruses, leaving in its place a rock hard solution that on his planet flourished but on earth would die within minutes.
Erica wraps a mask around her face and breaks one of the vials, watching the alien organism attack it immediately, the hardened substance breaking the ones beneath it, attacking the contents hardening it and on and on.
Jack breaks the silence first, reminding her of the time and slipping the handcuffs loosely around her wrists. Not soon after they'd fled the storage room, a group of people rush in followed by shouts and an alarm whirring above them.
They run, weapons raised, until they make it to a back entrance
"We're on lockdown."
Jack steels himself, whirring Erica around, "I found an unauthorized person on the premises, taking her into custody."
"Lockdown procedures dictate-"
"Except in the instances of the threat of biological warfare. My superior told me the break in was in one of possible contamination units."
The guard frowns, "Contamination units? What kind of shipyard do you think you're in pal, there's nothing biological going on in here."
"What is all this then?"
"It's for the university med students. The only way you'd be in danger is if you're allergic to sugar and water."
Jack and Erica exchange a look, ready to improvise some sort of explanation when the guard suddenly gags, toppling over to reveal a grim faced soldier, blade coated in red. She twists it one way then up and it glows ultraviolet with blue energy.
From her communication device a scratchy voice speaks
Attack sequence A3: Commence.
"You promised me amnesty and a clear record."
"I promised you a new identity."
"I don't want a new goddamn identity! I like the one I had."
Marcus leans forward on the table, "You think it's so easy to make a whole world forgive and forget, for you do realize that it is the world. Adrian Sargosse in Spain, dozens in Europe, by proxy thousands in America if you count your involvement in the pod crash. There is only so much I can do." he pushes another picture towards him, "There we are, doesn't he look handsome? We wouldn't even have to change your eye color."
Kyle Hobbes shoves back his chair, and is met with the image of Erica, bruised and panting on a gray floor, searching for bullets as Jack is tossed against the wall by a figure in black.
"I'm sure," Marcus notes tonelessly, "they'll be elated to know that you were the one who fed Maria and Nathaniel the information on a false shipment. If they survive that is. Or maybe I could make a small edit." with a wave of his hand it isn't the blank face of some visitor drone, but Hobbes, laughing as he drives Jack's arm through a post, the priest's cries filling the room.
"What is this?"
"It's fugitive Kyle Hobbes, on the ten 'o clock news. Brutally murdering a priest and FBI detective who discovered his plans to smuggle drugs out of the country and into the hands of America's youth." Hobbes gaps wordlessly as a headline begins to run over the image. "I want you out of the picture Mr. Hobbes and you want to live. I think the right choice is obvious."
Hobbes picks up the photos of potential new identities, swallowing hard, "Yeah, I think you're right."
When Erica awakens, she's on a gurney, a white sheet covering her from the waist down and an array of lights ahead that make her wince and turn her head to the side. She sees Anna, seated while her fingers dance across a pad, the lights dimming to a soft glow around Erica as she sets it aside and approaches the gurney.
"Where's Jack?" Erica rasps, following the queen's movements toward her.
"In a safe place."
"Safe to us or safe to you?"
Erica flexes her fingers, trying to circulate blood despite the constricting clamps around her wrist, every so often she feels a gentle prick and something behind her beeps. Anna looks at whatever it is with genuine interest, pulling a tray into view and caressing an out of sight object.
"Your team has betrayed you and your only child has pledged two years to onboard service. The FBI has coerced Jack Landry into a false confession of terrorist acts in which he has implicated you. "
"He did." She responds simply, running a nail down Erica's bare arm to the crook of her elbow, pausing there to swab damp cotton over the spot, "Fifth Column has built its rebellion on a platform of violence and lies. You have been deceived by the very people you trust."
"What are you doing?"
Anna holds her arm still and presses the tip of a needle into the swabbed area, something dark and vicious crawling into Erica's veins as if by force. Pain sears up her spine and racks her limbs like a full body migraine, aching and pulsing as Anna hovers above her with a smile, fingers with electrodes attached to the tip pressing gently to her temples
"I'm showing you the truth."
Memories that Erica feels as if she's simply forgotten despite the recentness of some. The first sting she'd done after the visitors arrived, a man more foul and dark than she originally thought peeling back the skin of a visitor he'd just killed and Erica seeing flesh and blood.
Meeting Ryan, the distrust she'd felt when his eyes shifted, expanded to reveal
Plain brown eyes.
And the bodies from the pod crash, not petrified bones, but fresh ones, charred from the explosives while Jack and Hobbes shook hands and congratulated one another on framing the visitors for the human deaths.
Is that how it happened? Erica finds herself unsure, trying in vain to open her eyes, to shrug away from Anna's touch as another memory comes. Work spread out on the table and Tyler before her, messing with the zipper on his suitcase as Erica picks up her pen again
"Lisa says that Anna wanted to talk with you."
"I don't know, she misses you or something. So you guys are really ?"
"We are. Is that okay?"
He nods, "Whatever makes you happy mom."
Her arm wrapped around Anna's waist as she watches the teenagers head to his room, the soft pressure of the other woman's lips on her cheek, suggesting they share a room once in London, a soft kiss exchanged as they walk to her office with matching smiles.
"As it should be." Anna whispers, tracing over the clamps so they release their hold on Erica, "I have opened my world and my family to you and yours, fifth column has brought only pain and confusion. Embrace us, embrace me."
The rush of the memories blur her vision, the ache returning to her de-numbing wrists and ankles. She raises a hand weakly and it is met with Anna's cool palm, strong and firm against her own. Her fingers curl, anchoring them in a tight grasp.
"Rest." She whispers, bending down to brush her lips against Erica's forehead.
She hands the chart to the man waiting in the entryway, "Success."
A stun gun is pressed to her heart before the clipboard even leaves her hand, "I agree."
A few days earlier
"For the record, there's so many things I don't like about this plan, I'm choking on it." Kyle Hobbes pressed himself flat against the building, "How can you be so sure Anna will rescue our damsel in distress?"
"I just know. But your word won't mean a damn thing if we don't get him on camera admitting to activating a deactivated soldier and using ship technology to assist an un-interrogated Fifth Column member."
"I've got to make him say all that?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm on it, christ." he hung up and pushed off the wall with both hands up, the barrel of a gun pointed immediately into his face, "Marcus, always a pleasure."
"Let him in." a voice instructed, a limo pulling up behind the armed Visitor. Hobbes smirked and brushed past him into the car. The other man began to speak, but Hobbes made a face.
"I'd think on board would be the most sensible place. Don't want anyone overhearing and misunderstanding our conversation do we?"
Marcus regarded him for a moment before nodding, giving the driver new instructions.
Ryan Nichols cleared his throat, alerting Anna gently to his presence as the technicians worked on Erica's wounds diligently, "I've brought the video confirming Marcus's deceit."
"It is unnecessary. The soldier has been deactivated and their memory banks reviewed. You did the right thing in sending Kyle Hobbes to me, though he is of little use outside the information on Marcus." She turned away from the glass, "If you continue to prove your loyalty in such ways you shall inherit his position in due time."
"Yes, my queen." he approached her side more confidently now, watching a woman in white hook Erica up to one of their secured systems, "What is all this?"
"Your next task." she handed him a small stack of papers, "If Detective Evans fails this test, you are in charge of her interrogation and elimination."
His canines distended, "Consider it done."
When Erica reopens her eyes Anna is on the ground and Ryan Nichols is trying to save her. She squeezes them shut again. Nothing has ever felt more wrong.
"Don't touch me."
"We have to get out." Ryan points a device at the cameras and unearths a bag of clothes hidden in a waste bin, "Erica?"
"You hurt her."
"We don't have time for explanations we have to leave now."
Erica is sitting up, the queen's slumped body the only thing she sees, fists clutching the sheet atop her with slowly awakening fury. Firm hands grip her shoulders, Ryan's gaze meeting hers with fierce intensity, "Whatever she's done to you, it's not real. None of it is real. So get up, put on the smock and let's go."
"It's true." Erica mumbles, retreating from him in horror, instinctively searching for her gun as she scrambles off the gurney, "You're a human operative, you've been lying to me this whole time."
Ryan tenses as she finds one of the electric pulse devices used to resuscitate patients, grasping it like a weapon as she circles towards the door, "You don't understand," he says forcing his voice to remain calm, "Hobbes is waiting for us and Landry is safe with Fifth Column Allies"
But Erica isn't listening, her eyes frantic for all the smoothness of her movements, snatching the smock and draping it over Anna's prone form. Ryan sighs, waits until she kneels then lunges at her and the weapon, prying it easily from her fingers but taking a kick to the stomach and chin in his efforts to restrain her. As she yells for help he looks upward for forgiveness and drives his forehead against hers.
"You know usually you knock a girl out to get her clothes off."
"Shut up Hobbes."
The mercenary chuckles and does up Erica's last button, waiting for Ryan to give him the word before hauling the detective to her feet, both of them trying to look inconspicuous as they traipse back halls and try to avoid the cameras.
Ryan still holds hard feelings towards the other man, if it weren't for his dealings with Marcus, he would have been executing this plan with ten times more precision with better odds of survival. As it was he'd been tailing Anna's adviser and while looking for his pass code into the nursery he'd stumbled upon telling evidence about what the two men were up to. He'd pulled him from certain death at the warehouse and proved that when it came to torturing information from prisoner's his people would always excel. Eventually he spilled and was "convinced" to help Ryan both save Erica and Jack as well as his child.
As they reach the outgoing pod wing the intercom crackles,
"We are experiencing a hostile situation, all humans are to return to their quarters or nearest safe zone. On call visitors please report to wings D, A,-"
Hobbes swears and Ryan hurries with the new id card Anna had given him in preparation to train for Marcus's position. He breathes a sigh of relief when it works and the door to the vehicle hisses open. Hobbes focuses on strapping Erica into the seat while Ryan begins to tap in commands, bringing the pod to life. As he inputs their coordinates, the screens on his high left and right switch on to reveal Anna's face, her eyes closed with a soft glow surrounding her.
"What? What is it?" Beside Hobbes Erica begins to stir.
I will take you to a place
"We've got to get out of here." he slams his fists down on a malfunctioning control in frustration
"Why? What's going on? What is she talking about?" But Ryan's hands have gone still on the throttle, face contorted as he struggles against an invisible force, "Nichols! RYAN. They're coming we need to get the hell out of here!"
Anna's words fade from Ryan's mind as the screen begins to dim. But then the queen opens her eyes and looks square into the camera, her lips twisting into a smile as she utters one last sentence
"Erica, my love."
Hobbes doesn't see the blow coming. Ryan assesses that the detective must have been feigning sleep, plucked the gun from Hobbes without the man ever realizing it. Now the gun is pointed at Ryan's forehead.
"She wants me to kill you."
"Listen I know what you're going through. She's done it hasn't she? Gotten into your head, your heart and you'd rather die than disappoint her."
"Dissenters, all of you." her finger shakes on the trigger
"You have to fight it. I know it's hard, but her love is just as deadly as her hatred."
She twitches her head to the side, hears Anna's voice, urging her on, to fire at Ryan then turn the gun on Hobbes and finish the job.
"Your partner became a bloodthirsty beast because of her. Your son is on Earth and thinks you're dead, that you died defending the ones who have killed countless innocents as child's play! Put down the gun! Fight her damn it FIGHT."
She swallows, "Ryan "
"She made you think I was human?" He loosens his collar deliberately, "I'll prove to you I'm not."
His jaw drops, extends horrifically wide as teeth worthy of some prehistoric monster unsheath, claws breaking from his finger tips as his back hunches over. Erica's gun clatters to the floor just before there's banging on the pod door, incoherent commands reduced to whispers at the sound of Ryan's roar. He peels back the door and attacks, claws flying and the noise of others going through the same transformation.
A soft cry comes from a bundle of blankets obscured behind a panel, the obvious human noise followed by the flick of a serpentine tail.
And then Erica remembers
She feels Anna in her thoughts and pushes back, past the false memories that disintegrate as she feels the warmth of the queen's presence surround her. Indecipherable codes, Anna's face in the mirror as she tries to grasp the look of despair, a murky world with a hazy sky that can't possibly be anywhere on earth and finally,
"I've got it!" she hollers, unsure if it's Ryan who growls back but starting up the small ship regardless. The hourly check has ran and the problems from before are repaired, all lights flash green and prep her for launch. She jumps out of the seat to get Ryan and is greeted with the sight of him being held in the air by his neck. Anna meets her eyes and with one quick movement snaps his neck and lets the reptilian like form fall lifelessly to the ground. Erica tries to cry out, but can only gasp, turning on her heel.
"You will never escape me." Anna says, watching the woman apply a secure lock to the doors and a panel recoil to reveal the night sky. Hobbes grunts when Erica nudges him aside, hitting "Initiate" and turning back for one last look at Anna.
The corners of the queen's mouth are lifted in a serene smile, her mouthed words an echo in Erica's ears
We are one.
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