by Sandrine Shaw
And the World We Knew...
There is fire and ashes and acid rain that burns the soil; and the sun is no more than a dim light on the horizon.
Samantha steps over the corpses, aliens and humans alike, and meets him half-way. She knows that even though he appears to be human, he shares none of their weaknesses. He or should it be 'it'? - probably doesn't need sleep or food or rest. Nothing short of a stab in the neck could kill him. And yet, he looks as tired as she feels. Maybe she is only projecting, though.
"This is the world we made, you and I," she says when they face each other in the ruins of what used to be something. Something beautiful, full of people and laughter and life. Something she cannot remember anymore.
His face is stone; and if he recognizes the significance of her words the acknowledgement, he doesn't let on. "Do you surrender?"
She hesitates only a moment. "Yes."
The decision has been made by other people, and it hasn't been an easy one, she reckons. At least, she hopes it wasn't, but how could she be sure? She is only the messenger.
The bounty hunter nods, once. He turns to leave, but stops in his track when she asks, "Is this what you wanted? Some crippled survivors and a world in ruins?"
"We did not come to take over your," he almost smiles and speaks the next word with an air of haughty arrogance, "civilization, nor your people. Those were never the target, but merely casualties. We only need the planet."
Casualties. She thinks of the past, of technical achievements and great pieces of art, of all the people who lived and the memories of what life used to be. She remembers the dead and all that's gone and will never return; and there's nothing left to say.
The human mind is a strange place. It sometimes makes you believe you've witnessed things you've never seen, simply because you've been repeatedly told that you did again and again, until the mental image they plant in your head becomes reality.
When Samantha was nine years old, she grabbed a few things from her room, took a bottle of water and three apples from the kitchen table and left. She didn't run in the literal sense of the word. She merely walked out, knowing that it would be hours before anyone would notice. Her parents were away, and Fox was doing whatever he was doing when he said that his little sister was supposed to mind her own business.
It was in the middle of the night, and it as cold; and her feet were starting to hurt when she reached the small lake in the forest, because she'd only taken her sandals. She made a point not to look back, not once, not even a tiny glance over her shoulder. She heard that it meant bad luck to look back. That it meant that she would return.
She didn't want to return, though, desperate to get away from her Dad's roving hands and his late-night visits to her room. From her mother's apologetic, sad looks whenever she met Samantha's eyes. From Fox' childish ignorance. He was her big brother; he was supposed to protect her. But then, so was her Dad.
When she stumbled through the forest, it was pitch black around her and she tried her hardest not to cry. She did, eventually, but that was okay, because there was no one around to see. She walked on, and on, and on.
There was no bright white light that night, no body hovering in the air and floating up into the sky; and if aliens existed, they did not visit Greenwich Village.
And yet, that is what Fox will remember, years later. He will not know that the only thing that's real about it is his guilt, and the pain over Samantha's disappearance. It's bitter irony that he will be the one who cannot stop looking back when halfway across the continent, there's a woman who goes by the name of Ann and who banished the past from her mind as thoroughly as the human mind in all its complex beauty allows.
They welcome her back with open arms. Well, Fox does, anyway. But his friends are equally enthusiastic, as if they'd known her and missed her too. She wins them over in a heartbeat, even those three paranoid guys, who instantly fall in love with her laughter. It's like all the years she's been away, like the time she spent being experimented on and tortured hadn't left any traces at all.
"I'm so glad you're alive," Fox says, over and over again, and gives her yet another hug. The pretty red-head at his side smiles, and Samantha smiles back. They have questions, of course where she's been all those years, what has happened, how she escaped but that's alright, because it's nothing she hasn't expected. And she has all the answers they want to hear.
They fight their war as if they have any chance to win against a superior race that outnumbers them in every possible way; and Samantha does her part. After all, doesn't she deserve to be here, fighting with them when it was her life the aliens destroyed? There's bitterness in her voice when she says that, and the others can't help but agree.
She gives them information. Bits and pieces she conveniently heard about when the aliens had her. In exchange, she's allowed into the inner circle.
"I will help you end this war," she promises, and everyone is so caught up in their planning and scheming that they don't notice the black mist clouding her eyes.
Of course, she never said anything about how she would end it, or what would be the outcome, but in her own way, she stays true to her word. Even if neither of them lives to see it.
She wakes up in a cell, alone and confused. Her memories are slow to return. For now, all she knows is that her name is Samantha and that she's been in a place where they hurt her. She doesn't know who 'they' is, or where she is now, but the guards don't answer her questions. Or maybe they do, but she doesn't understand the language they are talking in. It sounds rough and hard, and she thinks it might be some Eastern European language.
It takes four days until she's finally taken out of the cell. They fed her, but not nearly enough, and she's dirty and hungry and terrified. She doesn't know what she's been more afraid of that they'd leave her in there forever, or what happens next. She just wants to go back to her Mum. But somehow, even though she's only a kid, she knows that this is not going to happen.
The man they take her to speaks English, although his accent sounds funny. The uniform he wears makes him look imposing. Samantha knows instantly that he's someone important; someone who has the power to decide over her fate. He looks strict, but his words are kind and he gives her an apple and a glass of lemonade.
"You're too young to be here," he tells her; and there's a sadness in his eyes that seems oddly misplaced.
He takes her home with him. As soon as she steps into his house, tentative at first still unsure what to expect, his wife spontaneously hugs her and whispers comforting words in a foreign tongue.
Samantha stays with them. She learns the language, and makes friends with their son, who is about her age. She doesn't forget home, but she doesn't miss is so much anymore.
She is seventeen when the people she's come to think of as her parents are killed. The men who come to tell her say it was an accident, but she knows that they were murdered, even if she doesn't know yet why and how and by whom. Late at night, her brother not her real brother, of course, but the boy she's grown up with comes to her room, fully dressed and carrying a large backpack.
"I will go find out who killed them and make them pay," he announces darkly, and his eyes are almost black. "Are you coming with me?"
"Of course, Alex," she says; and even two decades later when she stands at William Mulder's grave, she cannot bring herself to regret the choice she made then.
Reasons and Purposes
It is a strange twist of fate that after all the years Mulder has been looking for his sister, it is her who finds him. He has long since given up given up his quest for Samantha after assuming her dead, giving up the life he'd built up after he escaped the military prison, and finally giving up himself after Scully's death.
He is just waiting for colonization to begin and for all the pain to be over, once and for all. Of course, a bullet in the brain would be quicker, but he cannot bear the thought that the world would think about him as a quitter. Even when he quit a long time ago.
And then, one day, she stands in front of him. Not the woman he expected her to have become, but a hardened fighter. It doesn't stop him from recognizing her instantly, and his heart does a little leap and reminds him that he's not dead yet.
"Listen to me, Fox, the Resistance needs you," she says. No greeting, no hug, no indication that they haven't seen each other for decades.
He stares at her as her words sink in, wondering who has sent her. Not really caring. He tries to argue with her, saying "There's nothing we can do, the date has been set," but she brushes his reasoning aside almost casually.
"So we know when it's supposed to happen. Big deal. We're not going to let to happen."
Mulder looks at the stranger in front of him and tries to associate what he sees with the little girl whose abduction he witnessed, half a lifetime ago. He can't make a connection. "There's nothing left to fight for," he tells her tiredly.
Her smile is as cold and impersonal as her voice. "Well, that's not a bad thing. The most effective soldiers are always those who have nothing left to lose."
A shiver runs through him. He hates himself for the thought, but for a moment, he wishes that Samantha had really died years ago, as he believed she had.