Running her hand along the cold harsh metal of the ship's cavernous belly, she could feel the tips of her fingers playing out the gentle notes of a solemn concerto, dancing with the quiet tune she'd heard once upon a stolen past.
It'd been almost a year since she'd seen any of their faces. Not that it was her eyes that had seen them to begin with, but they were there nonetheless, haunting her dreams and her memories, memories she so painfully wished she could claim were her's if only to be able to say that she had once been more than what she'd come to be. But there was a strange, cold, detachment to the memories. A weird point of view that, while not resolutely, but subtly reminded her of what was her's and what was her's. She could hardly remember their voices now, it'd been so long. But their faces, their faces were right there in her dreams, calling to her with soundless gestures, beckoning her home to a place she could no longer feel beneath her fingertips.
Walking slowly along the low-lit corridor, she could see the delicate patchwork of the stained-glass windows if she closed her eyes. She could see the bright sunlight pouring through casting a rainbow sea of warmth over the prinstine halls of that mighty city.
Some days she couldn't remember what it was that she missed so much. Then she'd sleep and dream and wonder why his eyes wanted so badly to destroy the calm, strong exterior of the leader she'd become to these people...if you could call them people.
When she looked at him she felt the regret, she felt the hate and she felt all the painful feelings she knew she deserved. The guilt, the betrayel. It made her want for destruction more than any of the programming she'd fought so hard to eradicate, not only in her own cells, but that of the small few she'd saved.
For nearly a year she'd fought to prove herself to them, prove she was worthy to re-enter their world, her world. Prove she was human. But the more she fought the less they saw of her, the less they saw of what she was trying to desperately to show. Her world slowly darkened. She was the leader of the last band of Replicators in the galaxy and for a while she hoped she'd managed to tip the scale of the reputation of the Replicators, but the hate, she could see, was stronger than ever for those that survived.
Even in her dreams he didn't meet her gaze any more. She'd lost the ability to recognise his eyes or the emotion behind them. The people around him had blurred and become faint shadows in an empty metallic room. All she could see now was his face, shapeless and cold, staring back at her with no feeling.
She hated it, hated him.
Moving towards the bridge she could hear the gentle concerto playing in her mind as she formed the notes with her silent fingers, tapping on the door once, it opened for her and she stepped inside, her face hardnened and her back stiffened as her fingers stilled and took their place, clasped in front of her.
"Prepare for the attack." She stated. There was no colour to her words now, no heart, no soul. Just a beautiful, hollow, shell of the woman once known as the greatest human leader in the Pegasus Galaxy.
She watched from her chair, perched high above the bridge where she could see all of her people hard at work, switching controls, organising trajectories, preparing for battle. Either she sat there as a measure of superiority or detachment, she's never been entirely sure, but metaphorically they all look up to her, being the first, and so perhaps it's just a physical representation of that separation of power. Either way she was in control of everything that happened, she had control over every console on the bridge with a single word and yet, she hesitated as she saw the soft hue of the blue, beautiful planet, up ahead.
"Commander." Her head snapped around at the sound of her first officer's voice. A man who for all appearances could be assumed to be Niam, though never really was. A mere copy of a man who died three thousand years ago. So long he hadn't even had the luxury she did, of remembering the life she didn't deserve to remember.
"Take your positions and open a channel." She declared, watching as her first officer raised his hand above the console and waited for her order. With a curt nod of her head, he pressed the button and straightened himself to speak.
"Atlantis, this is the Replicator vessel, Icarus, under the leadership of Commander E-7. Lay down your arms or prepare to be destroyed." There was a resounding silence around the bridge as the small crew of replicators waited on baited breath for response. She wasn't about to admit to the debilitating ache around where her human heart would be, as she heard the voice that came calmly and quietly back to them with a gentle menace.
"Go to hell." Was all he said before the channel died and she couldn't help that tiny glimmer of pride that soured through her for a moment. But she quashed it, for all the world could see she was a replicator, hard, calculating and inexorably tied to their one true purpose.
"If they choose not to co-operate, then we have no choice." The tear in her eye and the small struggle in her voice when either unmentioned or unnoticed, as her people prepared themselves for a battle that would either define their status in this galaxy or save them from it. She rather secretly hoped for the latter.
She didn't leave so much as a single surviver as she barrelled her way, weoponless, down the corridors of what was once her home. Memories of her life flashed before her as she counted the doors in the hall, one door lead to one happy memory, while another lead to a painful one. All of which were hers now, but shouldn't be.
She could see the fear in the eyes of the scientists that fled from her as she walked towards them, all strength and power and confidence. She rounded a corner into the darkness of the city's great womb and wondered why she'd never appreciated Atlantis as a life before, perhaps because she'd never understood that a machine could think and feel or love. She stopped in the centre of a large room, looking around her she could feel the silence, the sudden feeling that her thoughts had been heard by Atlantis herself and the great lady would smite her that very instant for even setting her foot upon such precious ground. But nothing happened, nothing moved, nothing changed and Atlantis continued to hum her gentle song around her.
"I thought I'd never see you again." Her head snapped around at the sound of his voice, half expecting the faceless blur she'd become accustomed to, she gasped when he stood there, weopon drawn on her with a hard hate in his eyes.
"Nor I, you." She whispered, taking a single step back in order to face him.
"Why are you doing this?"
"Because it has to be done."
"That's not a reason, that's not a 'why'. That's an excuse, and a poor one at that, Elizabeth."
"I'm not her, John, I think you know that as well as I do."
He shook his weapon at her. "And so what If I do? Doesn't change that you're here, that you're destroying innocent lives for a cause that wasn't ever yours!"
"Wasn't it?" She stepped towards him. "What makes you so certain? What makes you believe that I don't completely comprehend the signifigance of this war?"
He swallowed. "Because if you really have Elizabeth's memories, you can see how she felt about it, what she understood of it and you can see that it's wrong."
"She was a weak version of me."
"She was the original! Don't you see? You're critisizing the very thing they copied you from Elizabeth for, her humanity, her hate of all this!" He gestured around him to the sounds of gunfire in the distant corridors and the dead bodies in the hall outside.
"They copied Elizabeth because she was a threat to all they had created. Nothing more, nothing less. There was no profound reason for it, it was survival of the fittest and she lost. Now you want to stand here and preach to me about humanity. Where was yours when you left her there to die?"
A tear escaped John's eye. "Don't you dare."
"Dare what? Confront you with the truth of your actions?"
John faltered with his weapon as she took another step towards him, holding it up infront of him with a fear in his eyes she'd never seen in her dreams before. "Don't you dare accuse me of that. You have her memories you can see what happened."
"Yes, and I can see that you let her go."
John's cheeks were a wash with tears as she took another step towards him, her hands reaching out for the mussle of his gun. "No." He whispered, as she slowly wrapped her hands around it and took it gently from his grasp.
"Don't be afraid, John..." She whispered quietly, leaning into him, pressing her body against his chest as she lowered his gun to their sides. "...I forgive you." She breathed into his ear, before she moved quickly to gather his mouth in a passionate kiss, wrapping her arm around his neck as she let his gun fall to the ground.
"I forgive you." She groaned into his lips as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into him.
"I've missed you, Elizabeth." He gasped, holding her tighter.
Suddenly she dropped his arms and pushed away from him. "No."
"No, I don't deserve this, I don't deserve to love you, not like she did."
"But..." She pushed his hands away and ran for the door. John lunged foward and grabbed for her wrist, pulling her back into him.
"Please, don't go. You're all that's left of her."
"This city will be destroyed, John, you know that. I can't stop it, not even for her, or for you. I have her memories, but i'm not her and i can't love you." She shook her head and stepped back when he tried to grab for her again.
"How long ago did she die?" John whispered and E-7 stopped in the doorway, her back to him though she knew his eyes were fixed on the dark black leather on her back.
"The day she made you leave."