Author's Note: For those who are wondering, this story is influenced by the recent release of the movie District 9. I came up with the idea before seeing the movie, though I cannot deny the trailer didn't influence the idea. Seeing the movie just got the plot bunny going, so I decided why not advance and actually start publishing it. It's also based off an RP between myself and SkyTangent (^_~), which has gone a different direction from this story yet still contains similarities. I haven't seen this concept used much, so hopefully it'll be a taste of amusement for you.
Author's note 2: Yes... I have too many stories in progress. I will try to update each one regularly, but no promises! I can't give you ideas when "x-story" will be worked on, sorry!
Author's note 3: Um. Not sure if the slash warning applies here... read yourself to find out.
Author's note 4: No, Sam is not Sam Witwicky. No, these characters are not OCs or Mary Sues. *grins evilly*
It was an accident. But then, isn't how these things all start, accidents? None of us ever expected that anything would happen like this, and if someone had shown us a snapshot of our lives now, back then, we probably would have laughed and called them insane.
But it's the unfortunate reality now. And we have to live with it the rest of our lives. Every time I look in a mirror, I see a monster, a freak, something to be loathed and hated. But it's me. There is no going back, I know that now.
So what can we do about it? Well, there's only one answer.
We have to take matters into our own hands. Our survival depends on it.
excerpt, personal diary, Sara Schriver, Lead Scientist Cybernetic Division, Area 51.
I know what she thinks. I see how she looks at me when I tell her she's beautiful. She thinks I'm crazy. Yes, I know the irony. I never told her how beautiful she was before, but now suddenly I'm able to say it. I don't know why it is, perhaps it's a newfound confidence knowing there's nothing we can do, that we have to make best of a situation we cannot change. But still, I think out of everyone in the whole facility, she's taking it the hardest. She lost a lot, I mean we all lost something, but how many people here could say that their whole life's work was just ripped out from under their feet, stolen and told it wasn't yours, by the government no less. She was understandably broken up over it.
But I'm a bit worried about what they're planning. By them, I mean the military types. For some reason she's joined up with meeting with them, talking in small groups at all hours of the night, planning something. I worry that she might be involved in something that could culminate in a coup. And if that happens… people will die.
I just hope she won't do anything drastic.
excerpt, personal diary, Sam Fuller, Lead Researcher, Cybernetic Division, Area 51.
The wind was howling today, as was common, but the sharp stinging sand that bit against his skin told him that there might be a sand-storm later. Opening the door to his jeep, Sam stepped out onto the blacktop, feeling the heat already beginning to radiate off the pavement, slipping his sunglasses over his sandy blonde hair, blue eyes scanning the complex. As usual, there were few cars here this early. But one did stand out. Parked right up front was a shiny, brand-new bright red Ford Mustang convertible, waxed and polished, chrome gleaming in the bright morning sunlight. Sam smiled. Of course, SHE would be here early. No doubt she was there to get some work done while everyone else stumbled in with their first cup of coffee. He chuckled quietly, shutting the jeep's door and pulling his badge out of the center cup holder, slinging it over his neatly pressed shirt and tie. He absently ran a hand through his hair, trying to smooth it down as he walked towards the base entrance.
"Morning Sam." The soldier at the guard cubicle barely looked up as he approached. "Working early today?"
"You know me, first to arrive, last to leave."
"Not quite, sir." He got a wry smile as he swiped his coded card into the door panel. "Sara beat you to it. She got here before sun-up."
"Good grief, does she ever sleep?"
"I don't think so sir. She seems to run on coffee."
"Half of us do around here. Someone really should make a better sludge to keep us running."
"Can't argue there."
Sam smiled and nodded, opening the door and stepping within, striding down the dimly lit hallway to the dressing room where he opened his locker, pulling his lab coat out and donning it before continuing down the hallway to the elevator at the other end. It was a simple lift, nothing fancy or ornate. Most people thought Area 51 was this big high-tech secret lab that did alien experiments, had all kinds of strange artifacts and was a place that if you left you wouldn't come out of. It couldn't be any further from the truth, however. Area 51 was a top-secret government facility, and what they did was very important, but in all his time here, Sam had never seen a single little green man, spaceship, or other alien artifact.
He had, however, created his fair share of 'aliens'.
The lift doors opened and he stepped out into the five-tier laboratory, silent and humming with equipment, but devoid of people. Sam peered over the railing to the bottom floor, three down, and saw someone in a white coat moving about. He smiled then turned and jogged down the circular stairs on the outer ring, heading to the bottom. Sure enough, leaning over a microscope, her dark hair pulled up out of her face in a bun atop her head was Sara, completely oblivious to his arrival. She was jotting notes down on a pad of paper in between staring at whatever it was she was investigating, a few strands of black hair falling free of her bun and dangling in front of her face as she angrily blew them away. "Please don't tell me you've been here all night." Sam said, smiling as he approached.
Sara glanced over at him, brown eyes sharp and slightly irritated as she took note of his arrival, straightening up and turning around to stare at him. Sam tried not to let his gaze waver down to stare, though she was immaculately dressed as always, neatly pressed grey slacks matched with navy blue high heels, a white blouse and simple but elegant jewelry with her lab coat thrown over it. The problem with staring at Sara Schriver was that she noticed you staring, and normally that was not a good thing. Her tongue was about as sharp as her gaze when she glared you down. That was why Sam found her so alluring, as did most men. She was the smartest person on this base, hands down. But oh, did she have the ego to accompany it. For most, this was a very bad thing, since she could talk you down to the floor using words that most of the men on this base couldn't even begin to understand, and by the time the figured out it was an insult, she was done and walking away, smug in her victory. For Sam however, she seemed not prone to lashing out. Perhaps it was because they had to work so closely together, perhaps it was because he didn't treat her like the others did, eye candy. They saw her as untouchable, mostly because she made herself so. She was beautiful, smart and quick, something that was a deadly combination.
And Sam was completely head-over-heels in love with her.
She didn't know it, of course. Or if she did, she hid it well. In either way, she didn't treat him any different from the other men, with the exception that perhaps she tolerated him a little more since his brains were nearly matched to hers. "You're in early." She commented, lifting a finely arched eyebrow to stare at him curiously. "I thought you didn't get up before sun-up."
"The sun is up, Sara." Sam smiled, approaching and grabbing a clipboard, checking the data read-outs from the overnight crew. "You just work too hard to know when time passes."
"Jesus, is it past seven?" She sighed, pulling the small glasses off her nose and rubbing at her eyes.
Sam peered at her. "Don't tell me you've been here all night? Did you even go home?"
"No." Was the tired response. She glanced up at him, and he noticed her eyes were bloodshot. Again. This wasn't the first time she'd pulled an all-nighter. She had the habit of being drawn into her work, losing track of time. He'd known her for just about five years now, working closely with her on a daily basis. He knew her well enough to know exactly what she was like.
Reaching over to the staff table, he poured her a cup of coffee, pushing it into her hands. "Take a break. What are you working on anyway that's demanded your attention all night?"
"Oh these nanites." She waved a hand lightly to the table. "There was some mutations overnight that has me completely baffled. I know you programmed them to learn and evolve on their own in order to consume other material as test subjects, but what has me completely puzzled is the fact that the one you programmed seems to have spread the programming to others. It's almost as if they're communicating, relating to one another, which I think is a significant indication of their growth potential."
"You're right, it is." He agreed, leaning over to stare at the data she'd jotted down on the paper. "Sharing information between nanites indicates that they're finally on the right path, learning to communicate with the others. This could be a significant breakthrough!" He reached for the notes over her shoulder and was smacked in the hand by carefully manicured nails and a scowl. "Sorry. Still, have you introduced other compounds into their environment yet? So far, they haven't broken down anything else other than the metal fragments we've dropped in there for them to decompose into the organic. Granted, that's their function of course, but if we want these little guys to tackle the world's dumps, we need them to be able to digest not just metal, but glass, plastic, rubber, you name it."
"You don't have to lecture me, Sam. I know what we designed them for." Sara said sharply, glancing up at him as she sipped her coffee. "What I want to know is, why are they mutating on their own, reprogramming themselves without our control? If this gets out of hand, it could cause serious problems, you realize?"
He blinked. "How so?"
"Oh please." She rolled her eyes. "Just what do you think would happen if they decided our skin tasted good instead of rusted metal, hm? Then we'd have a new epidemic on our hands."
She pushed his shoulder, making him back off a bit as she pushed past him and sat down at her computer console, typing in her password. "I think we're on the right path though. We just have to go about this carefully." She glanced up at him, frowning slightly. "It could go wrong if we're not cautious." She paused. "Make sure that klutz, what's his name, doesn't come NEAR the samples."
"Oh you mean Robert?"
"The guy with the red hair afro. Red. Him."
"Whatever. He has the habit of knocking ANYTHING fragile and important over, no matter where it is in the room, how well protected it is, or WHAT it is."
Sam smiled. "He means well. He's just a bit…ah…"
"Accident prone?" She glanced up. "I don't care. He doesn't come near this lab, got it?"
"Yes ma'm." Sam smiled shaking his head and moving over to the microscope, peering in to take stock of the research himself. "It's amazing, the rate this project has gone the moment we finally built and charged the nanites. Five years of tedious programming, and we're making progress I never dreamed of seeing in a year, let alone one month."
She smirked, sipping her coffee. "Nobel Peace Prize, here we come. Can you imagine it. We're going to be absolutely famous. Ridding the world of it's junk and garbage, turning all those unused refrigerators, cars and scrap metal into fertilizer to feed our crops. We're going to be SO rich."
"Is that all that matters to you, money?" Sam frowned slightly, glancing back at her.
"Of course not." She said smoothly, lifting her eyes to stare at him intently. "I'm all about fame too."
"You're so narcissistic."
"I'm a woman."
Sam shook his head, doing his best not to laugh out loud. "And that explains everything? You know, there ARE other women on the base."
"Pfft. None of them are classy."
"You'd better not let them hear you say that."
"Oh please. There are what, three? Four other women on base?"
"I think there's eight, ten if you count the two lab technicians on the 2nd floor."
"You mean the two transvestites?"
"They're not transvestites, just gay, Sara."
"Whatever. They wear makeup."
"Terry doesn't, just Steve."
"Whatever. Each to their own, but they're not 'girls' to me." She snorted, tossing her glasses onto the table and leaning back, kicking her heeled feet up over the edge of the desk, lounging there casually. "And to be honest, being a woman on this base is not necessarily a good thing."
He grimaced. "Oh come on, you're not still complaining about the General, are you?"
"He's a prick. A complete and utter prick."
"So? You don't have to report to him you know. The base commander is the civilian representative, and he's quite nice."
"Yes, yes, Orson is very ship-shape." She smirked. "Reminds me of you, only not stuffy and British."
"Oh relax." She waved a hand, laughing softly. "You know I respect him, even if he is a bit soft when it comes to dealing with the General."
"Well, the General is the military representative of the base. He has a lot of sway."
"Yes, but the Base Commander reports directly to the Secretary of Defense. The General's just assigned here to make sure we don't blow up the place."
"True." He put his coffee mug down, leaning forward over his knees at her. "Still, don't let it bother you. If the General gets frisky on you again, file another complaint. No one can get away with sexual harassment these days, especially in the military."
"Whatever." Sara sighed, glancing over her shoulder as Percy Stanton walked in, nodding over at them before going to his terminal, dumping his paperwork all over the computer. "Well, I suppose it's time to get to work then."
"Jack will be in late." Percy announced, glancing over his shoulder. He was a short but thin man, slightly balding on the top of his head, spectacles perched on his nose as he looked over at them owlishly. "He got a flat tire and is stuck on the road outside the 93."
"Good grief. He's almost as bad as Red is with attracting trouble. I swear, this is the fifth flat in a month. The guy LOVES to blow up tires."
"Well he drives that old jalopy. It's not in the best condition."
"Whatever." Sara sighed. "I guess we'll just have to take care of the analysis without him. Are the techs in here yet?"
"Yes, they're working on level three." Percy agreed. "Should I get them?"
"Please. We have more than a few tests to run today."
"You got it."
Sam shook his head. It never ceased to amaze him just how forward Sara was when it came to business. The woman was smart, and that was no exaggeration. She knew just about everything there was to know about science. Give her a problem, she didn't stop until she had it solved. And it didn't hurt that she was insanely beautiful to boot. He sighed as he typed in his password and did his best not to watch her as she leaned over the bench, her long legs elegant beneath the lab coat.
Dang it. This wasn't helping.
Their work for the past five years was one of the most advanced sections the government sanctioned for it's employees anywhere. Their work, created by both the programming genius of himself and Sara's scientific mastery, had been the culmination of many years of research and study funded by the government. The concept behind the program was to find an effective way to solve the planet's pollutant problem. Dumps were filling up, oceans were becoming contaminated. They had to find a way to destroy the garbage so that they didn't kill themselves by killing off all the fish, destroying rivers, and spilling toxic chemicals in places that affected people. The concept behind the program was to build nanites, tiny microscopic computer organisms that would break down materials they were programmed to break down, turning them into organic compost and thus making the non-biodegradable garbage easy to break down and recycle into fertilizer. If they succeeded, it would solve the garbage situation for the entire world, clean up the junk in orbit around earth, and enable large buildings or other difficult objects to be destroyed by simply spreading the nanites on them and letting them eat away the cement from the base elements down, turning it into dirt.
It was a brilliant concept. Not so easy to implement.
Sam had been brought into the project after Sara pitched it to a biotech firm, and had been turned down. The word had gotten out somehow to the government, and they had eagerly employed her in the hopes of developing the nanites for other purposes, which Sam did his best not to think about. He knew they wanted to develop it into a weapon for warfare. It would be so easy to use it as a biological agent, and he couldn't even begin to imagine if they wanted to turn the weapon into something to attack human flesh. He had brought up these concerns privately with Sara, and she had agreed that this would not be a good thing. She agreed that no matter what they threatened her with, she wouldn't allow it. Seeing that Sara and Sam were the two scientists in charge, and the only ones who knew the coding of the nanites, they felt fairly certain that the weapon couldn't be mishandled as long as they agreed to keep their knowledge to themselves. Since there was no one else who knew the coding, they were fairly certain that it couldn't get out of control.
But the lure of fame and fortune was quite a draw for them both.
If only they had known what really would happen, they both likely would have quit right then and there.
It was sometime around noon when it happened. Sam didn't know exactly how, but he was roused from his report by a suddenly loud blaring alarm through the base. Looking up sharply, he saw the red emergency lights flashing in the hallways and above the door, and rose swiftly to his feet, running into the main lab in a heartbeat. He encountered pure chaos. Lab technicians were scrambling to and fro, yelling loudly. Sara was in the middle of the room, barking orders and pointing people in various directions. "Now! Get it sealed off! You heard me! I want this whole level sealed!"
"We can't, ma'm!" Red was panting, looking flustered. "The security doors are being worked on today!"
"What?!" Sara's eyes widened. "You mean this whole base is vulnerable?"
Red gave her a frightened stare. "Yes ma'm."
"The ventilation system will circulate it." She said quickly. "Shut it down. Now. The sooner we do that, the less this will spread. Call the General, let him know what's going on, and that he needs to quarantine the base. Get a containment team down here, we're going to need to scrub everyone in the base before they leave."
"What's going on?" Sam approached her, frowning as he watched lab technicians scrambling to cordon off the workbench area.
"We're not sure." Sara whipped her head around, staring at him with wide eyes. "But somehow, some way, the vials holding the nanites melted."
"Melted?!" His head shot up, staring at the plastic quarantine box the techs were setting up. "They ate through the glass?!"
"Yes." She said tersely, running a hand through her hair, sighing in frustration. "Which is NOT a good sign."
"No, it's not." He frowned. "What do you think exposure to these things will do?"
"Hopefully nothing." She said grimly, glancing up at him. "You coded them, you know better than I. You're sure that they're not supposed to attack anything other than metal, right?"
"Yes. I hand-programmed each line of code. They should only be decomposing metal, with exception to the ones we tested on pieces of silicone."
She frowned. "Silicone. Glass is silicone based. Do you think the mutations I noticed would allow them to eat through glass?"
He winced. "It might, yes. I can't be certain."
"And what do you think would happen if we're exposed?"
"Theoretically, nothing." He agreed. "They're programmed to attack metal and silicone. So they shouldn't harm tissue. But they could cause a great deal of damage to the facility if they get into the walls."
"Right." She agreed grimly. "Co-ordinate the quarantine efforts. I need to call the General and let him know what's going on." She turned and strode over to the phone in her office, visible from the glass between the lab and that room.
Sam sighed. He didn't envy her position of having to notify the General of the situation. Any breech of containment meant money down the drain, and black marks on their records. It wasn't a good thing to have, but on the other hand it was necessary. He sighed, but quickly moved to oversee the containment. He half-glanced over at Sara, watching her argue over the phone in silence through the closed door, and felt a sway of sympathy for her situation. After some time, she hung up and stormed out, eyes narrow in dislike and lips set in a thin line. "I take it he wasn't happy?"
"No." She growled. "Not at all. The containment's being set up. No one goes in or out until we've all been scrubbed. They're setting up shop in the medical ward and a team is coming down to scorch the place."
"What!?" He gasped. "If they do that, we'll lose our work! Years of research!"
"So get them all contained before they get here!" She snapped sharply.
"We've got them mostly captured, ma'm." Percy held up a plastic container. "They seem unable to eat through this, especially when we charge it with a small level electric pulse. We think we've caught them all, we swept the area searching for the radioactive markers you left in each one, and we didn't find any others roaming around free."
"Thank goodness." Sam breathed. "So at least our research is preserved before they torch the place."
"At least today wasn't a total loss," Sara grumbled, glancing over her shoulder as the containment crew arrived.
"All right, all of you." All the techs glanced up to see a man in security uniform step forward, face somber. "Into decontamination, now. No complaining. All of you now. Dr. Schriever, Dr. Fuller, a word please."
Sara sighed, rolling her eyes a bit, but quickly walked over to the side where he stood. "Paul." She said grimly. "It's not necessary, we've contained the nannies. There's no damage to the walls that we can note."
"Still, I'd like to make sure." Paul answered shaking his head. "Protocol. You understand how these things go."
"Unnecessary." She muttered. "Completely unnecessary you tight-assed prick."
"Oh come on, give him a break." Sam murmured to her. "He's head of security it's his job."
"Whoop de doo. Look how impressed I am."
Decontamination was not a fun process, for any familiar with it. It involves stripping, being scrubbed down with various chemicals and then poked, prodded and checked out by the doctor, who was not a very gentle one. By the end of the day when finally they were given the all-clear, Sam and Sara both were tired and cranky, dropping their lab coats off in their lockers as they headed towards the door. The sun had set already, and most of the other staff had been let go earlier. They were the last to depart, walking together to their respective cars. As Sara pulled her keys out, Sam smiled grimly. "What a day, eh?"
"Yes." She sighed, glancing up at him. "I hope tomorrow is somewhat normal at least. We can figure out what went wrong and try to make sense of this mess."
He smiled. "Yes. But you can't claim our jobs are boring."
She laughed. "No. No I can't."
"So." He shifted uncomfortably. "Um, would you like to get together for a glass of wine or something?"
She blinked. Then blinked again, eyebrows arching up in obvious surprise. "Why Sam, are you asking me out on a date?"
His face heated quickly. "Um. Well, yes I suppose so." He avoided looking at her, scratching at his arm distractedly. "I mean, I know it's been a long day, but what better to do than try and talk this out together. We might find a solution."
Her lips curled into an amused smirk. "I see. So it's strictly work related then?"
Sam sighed, looking up at her guiltily. "Well… no, forget it. It was an entirely poor idea."
"No. It wasn't. I would love to have a glass of wine with you, Sam."
He blinked, feeling a flush creep into his cheeks. "Really? You would?"
"Oh please." She rolled her eyes. "I see how you've been looking at me lately. I know what's going through your mind, you and every other man on that base."
He grimaced. "Am I that obvious?"
"So… if you've known, why are you agreeing to it, if I'm like all the other men."
"I didn't say that." She said coyly, walking up to him and tugging lightly on his collar, straightening a wrinkle there. "I said I knew what was going through your mind, like the others, not that you were like the others."
"I'm not then?"
"No, of course not." She smirked. "You see, unlike the other men, you know how to keep your thoughts mostly to yourself and behave like a gentleman."
"I blame it on my English upbringing."
"Whatever the cause," She lightly pecked him on the cheek. "It's about damn time."