A/N: So the next ep in the line-up was Eyes...
On the tenth day after she began to talk and interact and move around on her own, the medical people released her to general quarters and she meets someone new. He has white hair and a stern expression on his face, and doesn't say a word as Cooper leads her to a bunk and says this one is hers.
She likes the stern guy immediately, but is hesitant to lay down on yet another bunk. It reminds her too much of the medical people. "Do I have to use it?"
Cooper's eyes betrayed how deeply the question cut, but he only smiled. "Only if you want to, Kate."
She nods, accepting that answer. "Okay."
Cooper turned to the white haired man. "What do you think, sir?"
"We can't keep her on board forever, Cooper. She's an non-combatant." He looks directly at her, smiles slightly only with his eyes, and extends a hand. "Welcome aboard, Katherine."
Kate stares at his hand for a moment, uncertain as to what the gesture means. "Um..."
"It's a greeting," Cooper prompts her. "Shake his hand."
Slowly, she shakes the older man's hand. "Thank you. This is how we do this, right?"
His solemn composure breaks and his face is transformed by a smile. "Yes. That's exactly right."
"You still haven't told me your name. The others did that before doing anything else."
"Ty," he told her.
"Is that short for something?"
"Going to tell me what it is?"
Unnoticed, Cooper had to hide a smirk as he listened to the two of them bond. In that moment, he knew one thing with absolute certainty: Kate wasn't going anywhere. He wasn't about to voice this to McQueen, however.
Standing at a view port, Kate stared out at a blue, green, and brown planet which she'd never seen before. It looked... kinda like that one other planet they'd orbited, but for some reason this one was special to her brother's team mates. They'd been looking forward to it for weeks.
"It's amazing, you know," said Vanessa from beside her. "You can forget everything we're fighting for in the thick, and with just one look..."
Kate blinked and turned to look at her. "What do you mean by that?"
"Home," Vanessa explained simply, motioning to the blue planet hanging in the view port. "Why we're out here, doing what we've been doing."
Kate mulled that over as she listened to everyone talk about vacation plans, wanting to laugh at Shane's antics as she wondered what a cold Mexican Beer was. And then the monitor on the wall captured her attention. A loud boom and panicked voices made her turn to see chaos before the signal cut out.
Kate stared at the underside of the top bunk as she listened to the announcement that all leaves were cancelled and the ship was now on alert. She blinked when Cooper bent and touched her arm. "We were going to see snow."
"I know," he said softly. "Some other time, Kate."
Cooper's response was cut off when Shane began to rant about how nothing ever changed and the last time a world leader was killed, the killer wasn't even human, but rather an A.I. unit. Kate wanted cliff notes understand what she meant by that, but made no move to get her portable education computer from under her bunk and look it up.
Cooper took a deep breath. "Promise... and I'd like to get my hands on the guy who killed Santiago."
"You'd be going after one of your own," a new voice told him, and Kate frowned at the new arrivals over Cooper's shoulder as she sat up. He'd barely been in the room a minute, and she already didn't like the talking guy. Really, really didn't like him.
The conversation that followed was hard to follow. Something about replacements for those lost on Boonwell? "What was Boonwell?"
Everyone turned and looked at her, the new arrivals appearing very confused. Cooper frowned as he sat beside her on the bunk. "Boonwell is a mining colony, Kate."
"Yes. It was."
Cooper looked at the new arrivals now, stared at them for a long moment, then looked at Shane, who was staring at Kate with wide eyes. "Do we tell them?"
"Would probably be easier if we did, yes." Shane turned her attention to the arrivals. "She's new to the world. Very new, so be careful what you say around her please. Kate?"
"No beating anyone up. You're stronger than them."
"Except in sparing?"
Shane smiled tightly. "Only then."
Kate smiled back. "Okay."
The rude talking guy peered at Kate a moment. "Stronger? New to the world?"
"Don't ask," Shane quickly told him before Kate even had the chance to go back on her word about not hitting anyone.
They'd ordered her to stay in quarters while the dignitaries arrived, saying it was safer that way. She thought they just wanted to keep her away from the newbies.
McQueen entered in his dress blues and cleared his throat. "Come on."
"They told me to stay, Ty."
"Commodore Ross needs to talk to us."
"But..." He glared at her mildly and the protests died on her lips. "Right. Lead the way."
Commodore Ross was a nice, but stern, man and Kate had taken an instant liking to his easy, commanding manner. He was... somewhat off as she sat down with McQueen. "Kate."
She nodded in response. "Sir."
Momentarily, they were joined by Cooper, and Kate was even more confused. "I thought you were greeting dignitaries?"
"Because-" Cooper started to say, and then stopped himself and looked at Commodore Ross. "She doesn't know, sir."
Kate was getting tired of people talking in circles. "Now I'm confused, Cooper. Explain?"
Commodore Ross nodded slowly, clearly choosing his words carefully. "How much do you know about what you are, Kate?"
"I'm a person," Kate told him simply, though she knew he was looking for a different response.
He blinked at the simplicity of it and glanced at McQueen, questions clearly in his eyes. "Right. This is hard to explain."
McQueen sighed and turned to Kate. "The three of us are going to be tested. You know what a test is, right, Kate?"
Kate nodded. "Yes. Why?"
"That's what I want to know," Cooper muttered.
"Loyalty," the Commodore told him.
As Ross nodded, Kate became even more confused. After the chaos had broken out on the monitor, Cooper had ushered her back to the 58th's shared quarters. And then the new people had shown up, and there'd been something about how someone had been killed. "Is this about that newscast that resulted in cancelled leave?"
Ross nodded. "Yes."
"Then okay. I'll cooperate even if I don't know why I'm cooperating for loyalty."
Cooper sighed as Ross looked at him. "She really doesn't know because I haven't yet figured out how to explain it all."
"I can beat you up and make you explain, brother," Kate told him teasingly, eyes flashing dangerously.
Commodore Ross looked at Cooper with raised eyebrows. "Beat you up?"
"Sparing. Defense training. She's really good at it," Cooper explained. "And why include Kate in this? She's never even set foot on planet. Are the dignitaries even aware that she's here?"
The Commodore nodded. "Our crew complement increased by one Invitro. That couldn't go unreported."
"That word again," Kate spoke up. "In-what-is?"
"That's something that makes us... us," Cooper told her. "How we were born."
"Oh." She frowned. "And politicians don't trust us?"
"Not exactly. They just want to make sure they can."
Kate took that in and nodded. "Makes more sense now. Not that it actually makes sense, but you know..."
There was a long silence as the three men looked at each other, looked at her, looked at each other again, and chuckled as one.
Kate blinked. "What?"
The testing, as it turned out, resembled a very odd eye exam. Kate had learned to cooperate with those, but the questions were a new experience all unto themselves. And she really, really didn't like the people doing the questioning. They felt... oily.
"Katherine 'Wilde' Hawkes." She couldn't see the person, but that didn't matter. "Everyone but the Commodore and Ty... Colonel McQueen, calls me Kate."
"Can I call you Kate, then?"
"No. I don't know you." Or like you, she thought to herself.
"Very well. How old are you?"
"Three months old next week." She frowned. "I think."
"That's correct," the Commodore spoke up from where he was sitting, observing the proceedings.
Her interrogator paused in acknowledgement. "And where were you born?"
"An area of space known as 'Bloody Alley' aboard the MacArthur. They told me that my tank had some kind of failure and that's why I lived when the others died." She paused, shuddered, and took a deep breath. "Do we have to talk about that?"
Another pause. "No, Katherine. We don't have to talk about that. Why is your middle name 'Wilde'?"
"It's not. That's my call sign."
Commodore Ross cleared his throat, interrupting them. "Not pertinant and you've questioned her enough. She wasn't aware of why this needs to be done until today, let alone the reasons for it."
The lights went up and Kate had to blink rapidly as the eye camera thing was removed. Her questioner turned to look at the Commodore, frowned, and nodded, and then looked straight at her. "Thank you, Katherine. You're free to go."
"Can I stay for my brother and Ty?"
The Commodore answered before the question guy could. "No, Katherine."
He sighed. "Because it has to be done one at a time."
"But you get to stay."
The Commodore forced himself not to smile. "That's because I'm in charge."
"Oh. If I'm in charge temporarily, can I stay?"
Hours later, something was nagging at her as she listened to the 58th talk about their small, non-combat mission to pick up a delegate dignitary person. Cooper had been tense ever since they'd released him from questioning, but it didn't make any sense. Hadn't it been the same for him as it had been for her?
Getting up off her bunk, she made a decision. She needed to talk to Ty and the Commodore, and Cooper needed to be there when she did. "Coop?"
He jumped slightly. "What?"
"Walk me to medical?"
He frowned. "You hate going to medical."
"Come with me? Please?"
Cooper turned in his chair and looked at Shane. "We'll be back."
Shane waved him off. "Oh, just go, you two."
Kate smiled as she led her brother from the room, distantly hearing Nathan wonder aloud what that had been about.
"Kate, this really isn't necessary," Cooper told her as she walked back into sickbay with Commodore Ross behind her. "I'm fine."
"No, you're not, and we're not leaving Medical until I get some answers." She turned to the Commodore. "He's been acting strange for him ever since they released him."
Ross nodded, knowing full well what she meant. He'd seen Cooper flinch at one point during questioning... and, now that Kate mentioned it, the young man did appear to be somewhat more tense than he'd ever seen him. "You're right. Better safe than sorry, Lieutenant. And you know what they say about children and animals..."
"That they're annoying," Cooper offered, which earned him a hard smack on the shoulder from Kate.
"No. That both are honest and observant."
Kate rolled her eyes at Cooper. "And if I'm annoying, so are you." She looked at the Commodore, frowning in thought. "Did the weird eye exam have a vid playback in the lens?"
"Yes," Cooper told her immediately, unable to stop himself. "What about it?"
She bit her lip, then motioned a medic over. "I was reading a lot, everything I could, for weeks after I realized that there was a connection between the symbols on the page and that really annoying alphabet song. Something about conditioning and images? Do we have to know what the image is to be utterly certain there was something more going on than an eye exam with lots of questions?"
The doctor frowned, not having expected such a heavy topic this late in the day from the youngest person on board. It was like hearing a valedictorian speech from a four year old. "The... pardon, 'weird eye exam' was what, exactly?"
"Loyalty interrogation," Commodore Ross supplied.
"Because of what happened planet side?"
The doctor nodded. "That's enough to go on. Be right back."
Kate smiled at Cooper, who was glaring at her. "I was right and medical guy is going to do something to prove it."
"I still say I'm fine," Cooper told her.
"Let us be the judge of that," Commodore Ross said in a commanding tone as the doctor returned promptly with a small vid player and several disks. "What is this?"
"Testing Kate's theory. If they did something during interrogation, however minute, we'll find it." He pulled Cooper over to a table and sat him down. "You're going to get really impatient, Lieutenant, but it'll be worth it if Kate's right."
"If she is," Cooper muttered as the doctor popped the first disk into the vid player. "What is that of?"
"Images. Most recent political symbology. Next disk after that is pop culture, and the third one is every plant or animal known to exist."
Cooper sighed as they began to flash one at a time. Slowly. It was educational, but also incredibly boring... Some time around image #62 or so, he flinched and grabbed at a side arm he wasn't actually carrying. "Ah!"
Faintly, he heard Kate gasp and suddenly he was being held firmly in her arms. "Cooper!"
Cooper took several deep breaths, stunned. Then he realized Kate had him immobilized. "Kate. Let go."
"No. Doc, which image was that?"
Cooper squirmed in Kate's stronghold. "Can I look?"
"No," the Commodore told him. "Keep your eyes closed."
"What just happened?" Cooper wondered, confused. "I'm not carrying a sidearm around the ship!"
"Kate was right," the doctor told him. "Kate, you can let go now."
"Yes. Hawkes, keep your eyes closed, all right?"
Cooper nodded as Kate released him. "Right..." He jumped when sensation registered on his neck, squirmed as something probed at his navel. "Do you have to do that?"
Silence reigned for long moments before the doctor muttered something unintelligable. Clearing his throat, the man spoke, "There's fresh blood right where your implant is. Not a lot, just enough to bruise faintly. I'm going to do something, so hold still. I repeat: don't move."
Cooper had no warning, other than that, for the doctor suddenly sticking something through the skin on the back of his neck and into the latent implant underneath. "Gah!"
"Told you not to move."
"What's that do?" Kate wondered, puzzlement in her voice. Cooper was glad she asked, because he was too stunned to voice anything.
"Checks synaptic functions."
"And the implants?"
"Are why you understood basic things like the alphabet at a week old."
"Oh." Cooper heard her move closer. "So how is he?"
The doctor didn't answer her at first, and then he sighed. "Commodore? A word?" To Cooper, he said, "Keep your eyes closed. I mean it."
Comodore Ross liked to think he was a patient man, but this whole mess was infuriating. He glanced back at the two invitroes, then looked firmly at the doctor. "Well?"
"Obviously, he was tampered with. I found evidence of a brainwashing attempt in his implant, and that reaction to a simple picture of a pin has me worried. I'd like to keep him for observation to see if I can reverse it."
Ross nodded. "Good."
The doctor glanced at the waiting pair, frowned again. "Think Kate will stay right there by his side, even if I did try to kick her out?"
"Yes. I suggest you don't try to."
"Thank you, Comodore."
Kate didn't like being kept in the dark, and when the Comodore returned with the doctor, she expected answers. "Well? What's going on?"
"I'm keeping him for observation," the doctor told her. "I saw something I didn't like."
"Great," Cooper muttered. "Can you get this thing out my neck now?"
"Not just yet."
"Then can I at least open my eyes?"
"Then what can I do?"
"Sit and let me figure this out."
For what wasn't going to be the last time that evening, Cooper sighed.
Shane frowned when Kate returned without her brother. "Where's Coop?"
"Being held overnight for observation because I was right. There's something wrong, but Doctor Michaels wouldn't tell me what, exactly." She shuddered. "Something about reacting to a picture of a pin with a political symbol on it... or something."
Shane sat down next to Kate on her bunk. "That doesn't make any sense, Kate."
"Neither did the weird eye exams."
Shane blinked, confused, and turned to find her squadmates staring at Kate in varying degrees of confusion. "Eye exams?"
"With lots of questions." Kate glanced around at everyone. "I've never even set foot on planet and they did it to me, too." She squinted at the new arrivals staring at her. "They didn't happen to give you pre-leaving-planet eye exams as well, did they? It's mean!"
The rude guy from earlier shifted uncomfortably. "No. Just a normal one." She stared at him and he frowned at her. "What?"
"Nothing." Kate turned to Shane. "I'm going back to medical, okay?"
Shane nodded and turned to glare at the rude person in question. "She's an innocent. Remember that, please." He nodded and they lapsed into silence for a while.