Author's note: I haven't updated in a long time. I wanted to, but just couldn't get around to it. But now I have. This is the end of this story. I don't know if anyone will read it all the way through, but I want to thank any that do. And thanks to all for the reviews. Enjoy.
Marlene slowly woke up from her rest. She felt weak and groggy, and assumed that she was still feeling the leftover effects of her pregnancy. She had regained practically all of the figure she had had before she was pregnant thanks to the medical resources on the shuttle. She thought about going over to check on her children. She smiled at that thought. Her children. Even after knowing she would be a mother for so long, she had never imagined the type of love and comfort she experienced by being near Ryan and Alice. She was so happy. She eventually decided she needed more rest, and if anything was wrong with them, the monitor she and Yuji had set up would warn her.
She was just about to drift off again when she heard a noise from the monitor. It was the sound of a door opening and closing. She sat up in a start, though still feeling weak. Someone was in the part of the shuttle with the children. And it couldn't be Yuji. He had told her that he didn't want to risk disturbing them till morning unless it was necessary.
Marlene turned on the lights and saw that Yuji wasn't in the room with her. A fear ripped through her that something was very wrong. She got to her feet and nearly collapsed to the floor. Something was wrong with her. Her body was much weaker than it should be. Calling upon resolve that only a mother fearing for her children can have, she was able to grab the gun in the room and quietly make her way towards the part of the shuttle where Ryan and Alice were.
What's going on? I can't let anything happen to them. Maybe it's some survivors from the city who somehow made it inside the shuttle. A horrible thought came to her. What if it's Amick? She could be seeking revenge for my part in the change of leadership on Second Earth.
She made it to the door outside the children's room. However, her body was nearing exhaustion. Still, she refused to stop. Gathering what strength she could, opened the door, and quickly entered the room, gun pointing forward.
There was only a small amount of light coming from the room through the window. She could only make out the dark outlines of objects. She saw a dark figure standing over the makeshift crib where the children were resting. The glint of a hypodermic needle could be seen in its hand.
"Don't move!" Marlene screamed. The figure turned towards her. Keeping her gun pointed at the unknown intruder, she reached out with her other hand and activated the lights.
It was Yuji. Marlene was shocked for a second, but quickly realized something was wrong with him. His eyes had an odd, glazed over quality to them, and his face lacked any kind of emotion. She also felt none of the warmth and kindness coming from him that she always had before. This was not the man she loved. "Who are you?" she demanded, trying to feign the exhaustion she was feeling.
Yuji seemed to study her for a moment, then spoke. His voice and manner of speaking were completely different. "Odd. The drug I placed in your food should have kept you unconscious for hours."
That's why I'm feeling so weak. Maybe the medications I took for my pregnancy counteracted the drug somewhat.
"Drop it and move aside!" she demanded. After a beat, Yuji dropped the needle and moved away from the crib. Marlene moved towards the crib, keeping her eyes and gun trained on Yuji. She glanced inside the crib. Ryan and Alice were both alright, stetching in their sleep. "I asked who you were! I know you're not Yuji!"
Yuji seemed to regard her for a moment, then spoke. "You are correct. I am not your mate, though this is his body. I have shared it with him for the past eight months."
Eight months ago. That was about the time – "When we discovered the Blue graveyard, and the Will of the Earth." Marlene then realized what she was speaking to. "You're the Will of the Earth?"
"A part of it," he corrected her. "During the time I spent in communication with this being, I decided to imbue him with an extension of my being."
Marlene had to force herself even harder to fight the grogginess creeping at the corners of her mind. "What about the man I love? Does he still exist?"
"Yes. He is merely unconscious. I will return his body to him and leave once I have completed my purpose and cleaned the world of those two." He indicated the crib with his hand.
Marlene felt disgusted and horrified. "What? You are not going to harm them, I swear it. Why would you want to kill them?"
Yuji waited a moment before answering. "During the time I was in communication with this man, he allowed me access to all of his thoughts and memories, so that I might deem whether or not the life forms you refer to as B-cells would be again needed in case humanity became too numerous again. After I had finished deliberating, I decided the B-cells were no longer required in the world, and I purged his body of them. That left only one other possible source of the B-cells remaining." He glanced towards the crib.
"His, our children? Impossible."
"The two of you conceived them before I purged him. That left a remote possibility of a new type of B-cell being created."
"If you don't want to risk there being anymore B-cells, why didn't you just kill me or end my pregnancy early?"
"I decided there has been enough killing. There must be no more unnecessary deaths. So I waited until they were born to see if it was necessary. Earlier tonight, I took samples of their blood and analyzed them. I discovered they do possess a currently dormant, mutated form of the B-cell."
The idea of her children carrying B-cells disturbed Marlene greatly, but she kept focused on Yuji. "So you were going to use that needle I saw you with to kill them." His silence was answer enough. Marlene considered handcuffing him, but in her current state, she decided she couldn't risk getting close enough to him. She hoped a solution to this presented itself soon, otherwise she might pass out. "Why does it matter if they carry B-cells? Don't you control them?"
"As I said, these B-cells are different. I had never thought that one with the B-cells could conceive, but it seems this man was an exception. I have no control over these new cells. I cannot even remove the cells from the bodies of your children. If they are left alive, there is a remote chance that they could mutate into a new species of what you call the Blue, a species I would have no influence over, and they might breed and wipe out the remaining life on this planet."
Marlene understood what he was saying, but didn't believe the absurdity of it. "You're insane."
"You do not understand the power of the B-cells. The only reason that any life remains on this planet is because I held back their potential. So you must understand that I must eliminate this threat."
Marlene didn't budge. "Assuming you're right, how likely is it that they would change? One out of five? Ten? Answer me!"
Yuji didn't answer for a moment, as if he was calculating. "I would roughly estimate the chances as far less than that, in the thousands range. But that is irrelevant. Any threat to the planet must be disposed of for its future."
Marlene decided her best chance to end this and get Yuji back was to convince the Will of the Earth that it was wrong. "But they aren't a threat. You said yourself that the possibility of what you just described happening is virtually nonexistent. You don't have to kill them.
Yuji looked at her in what seemed to be annoyance and frustration. "Do the lives of these two mean more to you than the risk they pose? Now that this body has been purged of the B-cells, you can have more children that don't pose any risk."
"You don't understand what it means to be a mother. I could never replace these two lives, nor would I want to try. These two aren't just lives; they're hope; hope for humanity, hope for the planet, hope for the future. I would die to save them, and I know that Yuji would do the same. You may as well leave Yuji, because I will shoot you before I let you harm them. Please, I beg you, just leave."
Yuji shifted his gaze downward, as if taking her words to heart and considering them. Then, he moved towards her, fast; faster than Yuji had ever moved before. Marlene, in her condition, wasn't able to react fast enough and was knocked to the floor, the gun taken from her hands.
She looked up to see Yuji standing over her, the gun pointed at her head. Yuji's face was again one completely devoid of feeling or compassion. Marlene was afraid. "Yuji, don't let this happen," she quietly begged.
After a long moment, Yuji lowered the gun and walked over to the crib. "You need not fear. I have no wish to harm you. It will all be over when I have done what must be done." He pointed the gun inside the crib.
"Yuji!" Marlene screamed desperately. She was trying to get up, but her progress was slow. "YUJI!"
Yuji suddenly lifted his free hand to his forehead and started moaning in pain. The moans became louder as he backed a step away from the crib, dropping the gun to the floor and holding his head with both hands. He then collapsed to the floor, apparently unconscious.
Marlene, who had risen to her feet, observed the bizarre event. She realized the drugs were catching up to her and she too was about to lose consciousness. She moved quickly, retrieving the gun from the floor and grabbing a pair of handcuffs. She then quickly handcuffed both of Yuji's arms to a sturdy, vertical pipe on the wall designed to be grabbed for stability when the shuttle was in the air. With Yuji safely restrained, Marlene backed away from him, lying down on the floor and surrendering to unconsciousness.
Marlene awoke to the sound of her children crying, this time feeling more fully rested than she had last night. Remembering what had happened, she quickly looked over to where she had restrained Yuji and saw that he was still handcuffed to the bar, unconscious. Satisfied that he wasn't going anywhere, she proceeded to care for Ryan and Alice, waiting for Yuji to awaken.
It was early afternoon before he awoke, and the twins were sleeping again. Marlene had pulled a chair up to the crib and was studying her children intently. She was broken from her reverie when Yuji groggily spoke. "Marlene, what's happening?"
Marlene walked over to him and knelt down beside him. "Yuji, please just stay still for a moment," she asked him. He trusted her enough to comply. She stared into his eyes for several moments, verifying to the best of her ability that it was Yuji she was looking at. She then leaned in and kissed him on the lips. He returned the kiss with the love he had done so when she told him she was pregnant. After breaking the kiss, Marlene was convinced it was Yuji. However, she was still unwilling to take the handcuffs off in case the Will of the Earth emerged again. She gave him a drink to help him wake up, and then relayed all of the events of the night before.
Yuji was quiet as he listened to Marlene finish her story. He was quiet for awhile. Then he asked, "Are the twins okay?"
"Yes," Marlene replied. "I examined them. They were drugged to stay asleep when their blood was drawn, but aside from that, nothing's wrong."
Yuji breathed a sigh of relief, but then his mood became somber again. Marlene asked him, "Right before the Will of the Earth lost consciousness, it seemed to be in pain. Do you know what happened?"
Yuji struggled to remember. "All I remember is hearing you scream my name and then seeing I was pointing a gun at the children. I tried to move, but something was fighting for control of my body. Then everything went blank again." He looked up at her. "Marlene, we have to do something. I can't be with you and the children unless we do something about this presence inside me. It's too much of a risk."
Marlene was distraught at the possibility of losing Yuji, but she agreed with his assessment. "I took a sample of your blood and ran it through an analyzer. I also did a basic medical scan on you. I couldn't find any abnormalities in your body. Maybe it's gone now."
Yuji shook his head. "No. I know it's still inside me, waiting for a chance to finish what it has to do."
She sat down beside him and they both thought quietly for several minutes. "Any ideas on what to do?" Marlene asked.
"There's only one option I can think of," Yuji reluctantly replied. "We have to go back to the village. I have to meet with the Will of the Earth again." Before Marlene could rebut him, he continued. "It put this presence in me, and only it can remove it."
"Yuji, why would it remove it from you? It sees our children as a threat to all life."
"If I can meet with it again, maybe I can convince it that they don't need to die. Marlene, it's our only choice."
In the end, Marlene had no choice but to concede. She piloted the shuttle back to the jungle where they had landed so many months ago, when they had forever left Second Earth. Leaving Yuji in the shuttle, she went back to the village with Ryan and Alice. Upon arriving, she was given many congratulations for giving birth to two healthy children. She could tell that they were wondering where Yuji was, so she told them he was back on the shuttle tending some things. They wouldn't understand or believe her if she told them the truth.
She left the twins with a family that she trusted, than returned to the shuttle. Yuji was where she had left him. "They're in the village. You ready?" He nodded.
They left the shuttle together, Yuji's hands restrained securely behind his back. He was leading the way. Marlene walked behind him, carrying a gun. She felt somewhat guilty about the situation, but they had both agreed it was the best way to do this.
After a while, they found the crevice in the ground that had led them to the Blue graveyard eight months ago.
They paused outside its entrance, knowing that if they entered, it was quite possible neither of them would leave.
"Marlene, let me go in alone. I'm the only one who has to take any risk."
Marlene politely refused. "No, Yuji. I'm going with you. We started this together and we will finish this together." There being no point in arguing with her, they entered the crevice, and soon they found a path that led to the huge chamber with the shimmering column of blue light where the Will of the Earth resided.
Marlene was scared for Yuji. "Yuji, it's not too late to leave here. We can find another way around this."
But Yuji was dead set on this course of action. "I'm sorry. This is something that I have to do. It's the only way we can be sure to have a happy life together."
"What makes you think it won't harm you, not that you no longer possess the B-cells?"
"A part of it still resides in me. I'm sure that it will at least listen to what I have to say."
Marlene was grasping at straws by now. "But even if it does listen to you, how do we know it won't use you again like it did last time?"
Yuji turned to face her and saw she was crying. It was so similar to what they had been through eight months ago. Once again, Marlene faced the possibility of losing her lover and raising her children alone.
"Marlene, I promise you, that I will only return if I'm sure our children will be safe. Now, please, unlock these handcuffs and return to the surface. Once I meet with the Will of the Earth, it might not be safe in this cavern anymore. I'll meet you in the same place I did last time we were here." If his hands weren't bound, he would have held her face like he did months ago. "Marlene, I will always love you."
Marlene fought back the rest of her tears, and steadied her voice as best she could. "I love you, Yuji." They leaned in and kissed each other. They held the kiss for several moments, savoring taste, the smell, the love they had for each other. When they stopped, Yuji turned around and Marlene unlocked his handcuffs. Without looking back at her, he made his way towards the column of blue light.
Marlene watched him leave, knowing that she may never see him again. She then turned and headed back towards the surface.
It was sunset, two days later. Marlene was sitting at the same spot, in the same position, when Yuji had returned to her last time. None of the villagers disturbed her this time, for which she was thankful. She was determined to stay where she was as long as it took for Yuji to return to her. She did her best not to think of the possible outcomes of what might happen to Yuji.
It was half an hour before night settled in, and Marlene was still sitting. She heard footsteps beside her, and looked to see Yuji, smiling down at her. Overcome with joy, she sprang to her feet and embraced him in a fierce hug, which he returned.
When they let go of each, Marlene looked Yuji in the eyes and cautiously asked him, "It agreed?"
Yuji tentatively nodded. "It was more than just talk. It was as if we could see into the other's thoughts and sense their emotions. I understood why it considers Alice and Ryan a threat, and it understood my protectiveness of them. It conveyed to me exactly what would happen if their B-cells became active, but I was able to convince it the chances were so small that it need not interfere in the matter."
"So it will leave us alone?" Marlene asked.
Yuji hesitated before answering. "It agreed to, on the condition that if they do change, I would be the one to stop them." They were both quiet. "It could sense my sincerity in the matter. I know how dangerous they will be if they change, Marlene. If that happens-"
Marlene stopped him by pressing her finger to his lips. "No matter what happens," she said simply, "we'll face it together." They both smiled. "Yuji, let's go home."
As they walked, arm in arm, back to the village so they could be a family again, Yuji said, "You know, Marlene, I really think we will have a happy life."