So I had this notion that I'd like to write a serial; just a short series of scenes that followed Alt!Livia's return to the other side, and touched on how cunning Secretary Bishop could be. I didn't expect it to turn into an epic with an actual plot. Here is where we begin…
Stoichiometry is founded on the law of conservation of mass: the mass of the reactants equals the mass of the products. It's a question of balance.
Olivia leans her back to the washroom door and hesitates. It's always been part of the plan, after all. A contingency in the event that retrieving the last piece of the device failed. Her mission is to be nothing more than a potential courier now.
At least, that's what she is meant to believe.
When they pull her back, Olivia knows it's coming, but she's not prepared. It's a sudden vibration that make her teeth feel like they're about to shatter. Then a folding crush completely lacking in grace. She doesn't have time to wonder if it's a function of this universe or the other one before she's subjected to the pressure of being tugged and squeezed and threaded through an opening so constrictive she can't find room to breathe.
Opening a rift takes resources. There's significant risk. Somebody must want her back.
There's a dark silence when she opens her eyes. Her breath hangs frozen, stalled by her spasming diaphragm and the one-two punch of her extraction. She inhales reflexively, deeply. Gasping like a drowning woman. Everything smells different. Smells right.
Charlie's got her by the arm and is pulling her up off the ground and away, clearing the quarantine area. Voices shout orders, but the words are lost under Charlie's "Come on 'Liv, feet moving. Let's go, let's go, let's go," mantra hot in her ear.
She looks back once, but the area is already sealed. She knows her team is good, but not this good. Not this fast. They were sent to make sure her arrival didn't tear them all apart.
It'd better be worth it.
She stands in front of the glass wall of the Secretary's office watching the zeppelin drift toward its mooring pylon, and considers the things she'd always taken for granted. And the things she's just left behind.
Her palms feel raw, but at least the rods are gone. They told her she won't even have a scar. She finds that she's a little disappointed about that.
The Secretary finally arrives to debrief her.
"Agent Dunham." Olivia might have believed the warmth in Secretary Bishop's greeting if she hadn't experienced the genuine article in Walter. "Welcome back."
She straightens, hands clasped behind her back. "Thank you, sir. It's good to be home."
He gestures to the pair of chairs and the desk. Outside, the sun marches its way towards horizon and the water blinks its golden waves at her. "Sit, please. I understand it's already been a long day for you." He takes the seat opposite her and opens a file folder. The piece of tape pulls at the skin on her forearm where they took her blood. She tries not to rub at it. The Secretary consults the file, but it's all a show. She wouldn't have a solo audience if she'd failed.
"Excellent work, Agent," he tells her clinically. "You weren't able to bring my son back, but you did manage to salvage the mission, regardless."
Olivia nods. "Thank you, sir." As if seducing Peter was all in a day's work. "So when can we remove it?" She's eager to slip out of that woman's skin and back into her own life.
"Oh no," he smiles at her, and if he means it to reassure her, she isn't at all. She can see him calculating, plans shifting. The game changes, yet again. "The blastocyst is far too fragile to be removed just yet. Damaging the cellular structure will make preserving the DNA impossible. For cloning to be successful, we require the source sample to be pristine." He sits back and folds his hands in front of him neatly. It's clear there will be no discussion on the matter. "We'll monitor it and wait for the right time."
He watches her, reads her reaction, and doesn't tell her not to do anything foolish; he doesn't have to. He's the Secretary of Defense, after all. A man with more power than the President in all but name, and if he decides that Agent Dunham is no longer an asset to the program, her career will be the least of her worries.
Olivia smiles tightly and just nods again. She is a soldier, after all, and this is just part of the mission.