I woke up in my rack. All these years later, I recognized it in an instant. Even recognized what ship I was on. The USS Zumwalt. Why was I here? This made no sense? Sitting up from my rack, I noticed that I was wearing a TOS. What the hell was going on?! Looking around the room, I saw Rodriguez’s stuff, but not the lady herself. I stood up, looking down at my OPSAT. Maybe it could tell me what was going on.
Osprey, what’s going on?
A brief wait.
Pierce, get on deck. The enemy is on the ship!
I looked up, seeing right by the door, there was a QCW-05 hanging there on a hook. There was also a holster for my Five Seven. Why was there a Chinese rifle? My SC-20K would be here on the ship. No time to think about it. If the enemy was on the ship, and I was told to get up top, I had to go. Moving fast, always checking my corners. The ship was silent! Moreso than usual. Where was the crew? And why was it so dark? Over 2/3 of the lights were out. Not broken, but just out. This made no fucking sense. I know that Lt told me to get up on deck, but the command deck had to have people. Why was I here if no one else was?
The walk there was so ominous. Felt like the walls were pressing in around me. Moved as fast as I dared. Each clanking sound or groan of metal and I felt my nerves get even more on edge. What the fuck was happening here?! My training told me that it was a bad idea, but as I got closer, going up ladders and through doors, I started to run. Had to get to the command deck, see what was happening here. I could feel myself being watched. What lights there were seemed to be getting more and more red.
I burst through the door, but there was no one in here! Not a single person at their station. Was I all alone on here? Looking around, I saw my OPSAT had a new message.
Get to the landing pad, Pierce! Your target is there!
Wanted to leave. Wanted to understand. Nothing was rational.
Osprey, what’s going on?! Where is everyone?! Why am I alone? I don’t understand the mission.
Just follow your orders, Pierce. Kill the target.
I leaned up against the wall. Even that didn’t help how exposed I felt. No sound. Just ominous silence. The creaking of bulkheads. Movement as the ocean tossed the ship a bit. Not much, but enough to notice. Some beeping at the consoles, but I didn’t know enough to know what any of it meant. I wasn’t trained for this stuff. Lifted my weapon. If I killed my target, maybe I could get out of this nightmare. As good a reasoning as I could find. Back into the dark passageways. The darkness got even more oppressive. I was jumping at every sound. Where were my sisters? They would NEVER send one of us in solo. Even at the most reserved, they send you with one other person. But it was clear, nobody else was in here. All the questions, without a single answer.
Passageway after passageway, it almost felt like every open door had a shadow looking at me. They were filled with darkness. Finally, I got out to the landing pad. Bringing my weapon to bear, I sighted down on my target. That’s when I saw them. It was a silhouette, but they were there. So Osprey wasn’t lying to me. Alright, so I just kill this person, and then I get out of this mess? Worked for me. My weapon had a red dot sight, with an attachment of a zoomed scope to get in closer that I could flick on and off. Nice! Zoomed in. Wanted to make absolutely sure that my target was dead. As I looked through it, something threw me off. This silhouette looked familiar. It had a female form. A woman as my target?
OPSAT buzzed. Do it, Pierce!
Ugh! Leave me alone! Sighting back, again my aim was halted. This person was familiar. I knew this figure. Wait, no! It couldn’t be! Stopped. Lowered my weapon. Stepped out onto the deck.
“Jean?!” I called out. “Is that you?!” Ran as fast as I could, to reach her. But when I arrived at where she stood, she wasn’t there anymore. Like she had disappeared in the prevailing darkness.
Another buzz. Dammit, Pierce! Your target’s moved to the engine room! Eliminate them! That is an order!
Didn’t even care about that now. I had to find her. Why was she here?! Why wouldn’t she talk to me. Ran like a woman possessed inside. The doors were all open, and I could feel the shadow eyes on me. Through another passageway, until I reached my destination. There was just enough light inside to see the same dark silhouette.
“Jean! It’s you, right?! Why are you here?!” Again I ran at her, desperate to be where she was. Right as I was about to reach her, the lights came on, blaring in my face. Went blind for a couple. Had adapted to the darkness. Then they went down again, and she was gone.
“Jean!” I cried, desperately. “Where are you?! Why won’t you talk to me?! PLEASE!” Now I was screaming.
Yet-another buzz. You have disobeyed orders, Pierce! I will have you court-martialed if you do not follow my command! Eliminate your target! It’s gonna stick, this time. No weaseling out of it with the Admiral. Do the only thing you’re good at and kill your target!
Rage bubbled up inside me. Fucking bastard! I’m not a killer! I’m an assassin! And why does he want me to kill my wife?! I would never do that! Not in a million years. I would protect her! I’d do it now! If they wanted her dead, I’d keep her safe. Nobody could ever harm her while I am looking out for her.
You don’t believe that, Pierce. You’re a killer. We trained you, taught you, molded you. This is all you know how to do. You know I’m right.
That’s not true! I was more than just a killing machine! Jean showed me that I wasn’t just what they wanted me to be. I was more.
How often do you think about killing, Pierce? Be honest.
Tears started pouring down my face. They’re wrong! They had to be. I’m not the monster they wanted me to be! I got free! I have a family again!
You’ll kill them, Pierce. Just like you did your father.
I put that rotten piece of shit out of his misery! After all he put me through, why shouldn’t I have been the one to finish things?! It was quick and painless. More than he would EVER have done for me! He was dying anyway. Why shouldn’t I have had the right to do that?! Was more than those doctors were doing, keeping him alive as meat and tubes.
You didn’t do that to put him out of his misery. You did it for revenge.
I didn’t have to listen to this! Where was she? I had been running down passageways, desperately looking wherever I could think.
Your target is on the landing pad, Pierce. Eliminate them!
I wouldn’t! We would get away from here and I would never have to think about any of this again! We’d go home together. I’d show her the ocean, wake up with the distant sound flowing in. Hear her breathing next to me as we sat on the veranda together and ate breakfast. Cuddled at night watching the moon. I’d never let anyone hurt her.
Ran out onto the landing pad, seeing that same dark silhouette.
“Jean? Is that you? Please, talk to me!” Was red, puffy, face streaked from tears. The silhouette didn’t move. “Are you mad? Is that it? Did I do something wrong?” No response. Just the breeze in the night air. Tropical air. “I’m sorry for what happened. I would give anything for it to be me and not you!” Dropped my weapon to the deck. “You don’t know how hard it’s been without you. I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this. I’m starting to think that I’m turning into a psychopath. I need you so much.”
The silhouette just stood there in silence.
Felt anger bubbling up. “So that’s it?! You’re just gonna stand there and let me hurt?! I fucking need you, and you’re just gonna stand there?! I told you we’d be forever! I made vows for better or for worse! Does that mean nothing to you?!”
“God-dammit, talk to me!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Drew my side-arm. “Fucking talk to me, or I’ll open fire! Tell me something! Tell me anything! Please!”
Just stood there.
“Don’t make me do this, Jean. Please don’t make me do this.” Sighting through the tears that streamed down my face without stop. “Please…”
Only the wind.
“Fine. Have it your way.” Looking down, I fired. The suppressed sound, ringing out in the endless night.
Just then, a light from the tower above came on. It showed her, standing there, in her NWUs. The old ones, blue and perfect. I loved those things. The green ones were so repulsive. Blood poured out of her eye-socket, where the bullet had gone through. The face was a mask of disbelief and pain.
“You killed me, Quinn. You, and no one else.” She fell and hit the deck.
I dropped to my knees. A screaming, anguished cry escaped me, unrelenting, echoing out into the dark and endless sea.
I woke up in a pool of different hair. Now it was dark brown, almost black. Parts of it were streaked blonde. She was beside me, naked, almost cuddling but not. Sat up. Didn’t put on a robe or anything as I stood up. Walked over to the doors leading out onto the veranda from my room. Walked right outside. It was pouring down rain. Quite cold, for Washington. It didn’t even register. Nothing did. I didn’t feel anything. Walked out onto the sopping grass, headed toward the cliff. When I got there, I stood. Looking out onto the drop. I could do it. Jump off the edge, fall, and that would be it. Everything would be over. I could be with my wife again. There was this little voice in my head, telling me not to. It sounded like someone I knew. Who could that be? With all this rain, it was hard to hear.
Then it got louder. “Quinn?! What are you doing?! Come inside!”
Who was that? Didn’t matter. Nothing would matter pretty soon here.
The sound of feet stomping on the grass. “Quinn, what the fuck are you doing?! Get away from the edge!”
A hand grabbed my arm. I shrugged it off. This person was annoying.
“Quinn, what’s going on?! What are you doing out here?!” They sounded so worried. Why? Who was I to them?
Looked over, saw the hair, on this girl. She had no clothes on, like me. There was this look of fear on her face.
“Come on! Let’s go back inside! Please!” Gentle coaxing. She sounded so worried. Was that genuine concern?
I looked back out at the dark ocean, how it called to me.
“Please, Quinn! Let’s go inside! I’m begging you!”
Confusion. Then I saw an image in my head. Emily! Flashed back to reality. The fog was gone. I stepped back. Saw Ashley standing there, soaking wet and looking scared to death.
“Let’s go inside! Please!”
I nodded, starting back toward the house. She put an arm around my shoulder, leading me in. When we got inside, she shut the door and now I could see that she was crying. She collapsed to the floor, sobbing.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” she demanded. “Were you trying to kill yourself? Is that it?! Jesus fucking Christ! Why would you do that to me?! Fucking bitch!”
My legs suddenly gave out, and I hit the floor, leaning on the cold glass of the door.
“I’m sorry, Ashley. I’m so sorry.”
We just sat there, with her crying and me not having any words to say, and wishing desperately that I did.
Until next time, a quote,
“What have I…what have I done?” – Heero Yuy, Gundam Wing