Title: Transhuman
Rating:
PG-13
Fandom:
Criminal Minds
Characters/Pairing:
Garcia-centric, team - gen
Genre:
Science-fiction/Drama
Summary:
In a dystopian future, hacker Penelope Garcia finds herself being hunted by a corrupt organization. Fearing for her life, she must search for help in the strangest of places.

Chapter Twenty-Two

There was a moment of silence, as they all pondered the question. What could they do next?

'I need to take a look at that chip,' Emily said finally, her voice strained. Her face seemed even paler this morning than it had been last night; sleep apparently hadn't helped all that much. 'If we know what's on there, then we can have a better idea of how to fight back.'

Morgan frowned. It wasn't an idea that held much appeal – yes, they needed to know what was on the chip, but it was a big risk. There was no telling whether it was safe to read the data – there could be some kind of tracking program on the chip for one thing. The other possibility that he didn't want to consider was that one of the group was a traitor. Hotch and JJ he trusted with his life, and he hadn't really known the rest of them long enough to make a judgment call. Trust didn't come easily in this world.

Emily seemed to interpret that single facial expression. 'Look,' she said. 'I don't care if you hold a fucking gun to my head while I read it, but if we don't know what's going on, then we're walking into this blind.'

'You're telling me you don't know anything about what's going on?'

Emily drummed her fingers against the table, and Morgan didn't even need to look around to know that both Garcia and Reid getting uncomfortable at the building tension.

'I risked my life to get you what I know. The Corp doesn't exactly send out a newsletter titled "Our Deepest Darkest Secrets." There's a reason they want that chip back, and if there is a way of bringing them down, it's in those files.'

Morgan turned to Garcia, whose eyes were wide in shock. 'If we try and decrypt what's on that chip, can you stop any signals from getting out?'

'I can disable the network connections, but if it takes control of the computer, then all I can do is rip out the battery, and hope that we stopped it before they managed to track us down.'

'We should be ready to move, then,' Hotch said. 'If something happens, then we can be out of here in less than a minute; split up, and meet back in the Western District.'

'Wait – near the shore?' JJ asked, a frown on her face. 'That's suicide, Hotch.'

'They won't be expecting it,' Morgan argued. 'They'll be tearing apart the more secure areas.'

'So we open ourselves to capture? You know as well as I do what happens in the Western Districts.' There was a moment of tense silence. As far as they knew, Will had been in the Western Districts when he disappeared. She looked towards Emily. 'Do you…do you know what happens to the people that get taken from there?'

Emily didn't answer right away. It wasn't the easiest question to answer.

'Chances are, he's still alive,' was the answer that she finally gave. 'I don't know where it is, but I'm pretty sure they get taken to a brainwashing facility.' Her tone of voice told Morgan that brainwashing probably wasn't the only thing that went on at this facility. 'Your friend – Elle – they probably did the same thing to her.'

'So there's still a chance he could be saved?' Hotch queried, to which Emily gave a strange gesture that seemed half shrug, half nod. She wiped a line of sweat from her brow.

'"Maybe" is the best answer I can give.'

Silence seemed to be the order of the day. After their impromptu meeting, the group split apart, still undecided on the best course of action to take. Morgan knew that Emily was right, but their lives and their freedom depended on not screwing this up.

He found her in the bathroom, bent over the sink.

'Hey, Monta…Emily. I just wanted to say – sorry. I didn't mean to accuse you of being a traitor…it's just.'

'You don't have to explain to me,' she said, turning on the tap, and watching the water run down the sink. It was a few seconds before it turned from dirty to clear, at which point Emily began to splash her face. 'I've been fighting this battle for a long time. I know…I know you're just trying to protect your friends. I get that. But if we fail, then they'll be as good as dead, anyway. And being on the run is no way to live your life.'

'I hear that,' he said with a grimace.

Emily gave him a bitter smile before coughing loudly into her hand. He saw the blood before she could wash it away.

'Don't,' she told him sharply, as he opened his mouth to call out for Hotch. A little softer, '…don't tell them.'

He shut the door, not wanting anyone to overhear their conversation. 'What's going on?'

Emily gave a shaky smile, a thin rivulet of blood trickling from her lip. She let out a breath, and a small pink bubble popped. 'The Corp…they don't like traitors.'

'They did this to you? How?'

Emily shook her head. 'I don't know…some kind of poison, I think. It'll keep getting worse and worse until I go to them for the antidote.'

'Will it kill you?'

She shook her head, giving a bitter laugh. 'That's not part of the grand plan. If I die, then they can't torture me for information. It's designed to cause pain without causing permanent damage.' She gave another cough, which quickly evolved into a retch, and the morning's breakfast ended up in the toilet, accompanied by more blood.

'The place where they do the brainwashing – would they have the antidote there?'

'I don't know,' Emily said, wiping her chin with a few squares of toilet paper. 'Probably, if they're dealing with turncoats.'

'Then that's where we need to go.'

'Morgan-'

'Don't argue with me on this, Montana. Will's there, the antidote's there…Hell, depending on what we find on that chip, any chance we have of bringing down the Corp is there?'

'What do you mean?' Emily asked, in a shaky voice. It was less fear, and more the blood poisoning that the Corp had inflicted on her.

'If we can expose their work on brainwashing, and whatever else they're doing, they'll be cut down at the knees. The public don't mind a faceless, apathetic corporation in charge, but the moment you start bring real evil into the picture, you might as well cut them down at the knees.'

Emily shook her head. 'This is gonna be one hell of a family reunion,' she muttered.