Cate's Space 1999 Alcove

The Other

The First Time Ever We...
Something to Talk About
The Hours
The Other
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Universe
Dragon? What dragon?
Contact Me

Y2 Story. NC17


He rang the chime, then with perfect understanding of the unsophisticated commlock apparatus, used the command override to let himself in without waiting for an answer. Certainly it was what the Other did often enough. His uninvited presence in her quarters took her by surprise. He could almost smell her apprehension and see the wariness in her eyes like some skittish animal. This might be more entertaining than he’d anticipated.


At the beginning, he had shied from her attempted touch. As the Base Medical Officer the danger she posed him, though temporary, was considerable. But she had forced the issue…come to him, grasped his hand and made him attend her…and he had understood the greater error. The protocol had focused on the necessary mechanics of his impersonation - their technology, their weapons – but ignored personal details beyond the basics of names, faces, ranks. The assumption had been the whole operation would be so brief as to require little else in the way of information and had, with that reasoning, overlooked the obvious: that the human model would have a mate.


In that moment of contact, in the shocked expression of her eyes that went far beyond professional involvement, he realized the risk he had run in allowing her near.  A secondary scan of his double’s mind supplied him with additional facts; had shown the human’s mind to be so filled with her, he wondered how the first scan had avoided her. He knew now she was a hurdle he must overcome or destroy. It made no difference to him either way, and if she were to die a few hours before the rest of her kind on this pathetic little rock, it could be argued to be a favor. That thought pleased him, that he might be seen as granting a merciful end to the mate of his unwitting benefactor.






She had been trying to compose herself after the encounter in the Observation Room. Her thoughts churned, sought any viable explanation for John’s behavior, a clinical reason for his bizarre physical state. She wanted to believe Alan’s theory: that John had discovered something on the asteroid so horrible, so potentially lethal to their survival that it was worth risking everything to avoid it…even if that should mean causing their own demise. At their current rate of energy expenditure, the collapse of Alpha’s systems and deaths of most of its people seemed all too possible.


Though she hated to admit it, part of her wanted to believe Tony, too…If something had occurred to render John medically unfit, at least that offered a starting point. It could be categorized and managed. She required more data than she currently possessed to create a working analysis, but if they were dealing with a case of psychological breakdown, it would actually be good news for Alpha. It would mean there was no looming catastrophe, their carefully balanced resources would recover from the energy drain, and with luck and skill, John could be treated…hopefully cured in time.


But to mistrust John’s veracity…it wouldn’t be the first time she’d questioned his command decisions or his sanity, and her feelings of guilt were great. Maybe those other times she’d doubted him were why she was so reluctant now to admit that everything, everything, Tony and Maya were saying made sense…too much sense. She knew the two of them were working on Alan, trying to persuade him to let them take an Eagle and go to the asteroid themselves. Even in the best light what they were proposing was a seditious act, but it might be the right thing to do for everyone’s sake. If they asked her to help them convince Alan, what was she going to say?




The door chime sounded unexpectedly, jarring her already distraught senses. She was debating whether to answer the first ring or delay to be certain the interruption was necessary when she heard the door slide open. It was…John…yet in the next instant, before he could speak, before he could draw breath or take a step, she knew it wasn’t. She just wasn’t sure what that meant. Rising from the couch she took a few steps backwards, realizing belatedly the action communicated her suspicions too clearly…and left her commlock sitting on the coffee table, too far away for easy reach.


“Helena,” his voice was a soft purr. “How are you?”


She swallowed with difficulty. His voice, when he used that tone, always made her heart race and her pulse pound…but never with the dread that filled her now. He moved beside her in a moment, his long legs covering the distance between them before she could think or react. His fingers, masculine and strong, normally so welcome upon her skin, reached toward her seeking to grasp her wrist. She braced for the shocking chill she knew was coming, tried to hide the twin emotions of fear and disgust that were racing up her spine.


“John,” her voice shook more than she’d expected. She made herself smile into familiar, but now indifferent blue eyes, and tried again. “John, how are you? Are you feeling better?”


A mocking smirk appeared on his face. “I feel just fine, Helena. You seem surprised to see me,” he paused, calling up an appropriate piece of vocabulary, “baby.”…A meaningless term of endearment to him, but it had been present in the mind of the Other when he’d performed the second scan. He sensed he’d just made her even more uneasy. Good.


Normally, she liked it when John called her ‘baby’. He said it with such sensuality, such love and caring. On this being’s lips it sounded demeaning. She struggled for composure. “I uh, I guess I am…surprised. I thought you’d be busy in Observation all night.”


The smirk became more of a sneer…or maybe that was her imagination.


“Well, it occurred to me that we haven’t had any private time since I returned from the asteroid. In spite of the situation I’ve let myself be far too preoccupied…and I should never be too preoccupied for you.” He smiled that wide crooked grin that usually melted her heart. “I thought maybe we should remedy that this evening. I thought maybe that’s what was really troubling you earlier.” His grasp tightened on her wrist as he pulled her a reluctant step closer.


Helena could feel his breath against her cheek. No scent of rancidness as she had expected. No scent at all as a matter of fact. Puzzling. But his breath was cold, stunningly cold. ‘How is that possible? Just stay calm, Helena. Try to reach him. This may still be John.’ She licked her lips. “I don’t think I’m exactly troubled about your preoccupation, John.” She tried to sound lighthearted. “You get preoccupied all the time…I’d just like to understand it. This project of yours…the danger you say we’re in…You’re so secretive and guarded, even with me…I’m just concerned. You haven’t been yourself since you got back.”


She had said too much. His other hand landed swiftly on the back of her neck, forcing her face nearly against his own. His voice remained perfectly controlled, but an unmistakable menace shadowed his words. “Who do you think I’ve been if not myself…baby?”


‘Okay, that made him angry, but why? Because he’s not John at all, or because he’s something inside John? How do I get out of this? Think fast.’ Hesitantly, she gazed into his eyes, so uncaring, lacking any sentiment she could recognize as ‘her John’. With effort she smiled once more, adopting what she hoped was a playful tone. “Well, I didn’t mean that literally, silly.” She placed a hand on his chest, rubbing lightly. She could feel coldness seeping through the material of his uniform, and…‘Oh my God, there’s no heartbeat! Oh my God, who is he? What is he?’ Every cell of her body wanted to push him away, just get away from him as fast and as far as possible. But his grip on her wrist had not loosened; if anything it was growing more unyielding. She wouldn’t win a physical confrontation if it came to that and her commlock still sat uselessly on the coffee table.




Warm, so very warm…He had felt it earlier when she’d come to him in the Observation Room, when she’d touched him. It was astonishing, the innate warmth of this species. It radiated off them with no contact at all and when there was contact…like then…like now…He thought her skin might scorch him if he held her much longer, such lovely white heat. He could feel the heat pumping through her body from his hand on her neck, so hot, yet not…unpleasantly so. He felt a flash of envy for his double and he speculated whether actual combustion occurred during their mating. It would be interesting to see. It would be more interesting to discover for himself.


His kind had been without warmth and life, had known only frozen immobilization in deep space for so long…Not his kind precisely…He was a reflection, an instrument, a figment of something real. But he was also part of the greater whole, an approximation of a seed himself who would grow and live again once the regeneration was completed.


He didn’t know what that coming life would entail, but he found himself hoping it might include something like her. Her essence was invigorating. She feared him, he could tell…feared what she didn’t recognize and couldn’t define. But she would fight him; stand in his way if she could despite her fear. She possessed much courage. He should kill her now.


“Really I’d say you’re the one who’s not behaving like yourself, Helena. You seem very uncomfortable.” He kept the hand on her neck, but let go of her wrist, sliding an arm around her waist and pulling her against him. His whole body seemed to sizzle at the increased contact.




My God, he was strong. She could feel it in his grasp all the way to the tips of his fingers. John was strong, but this invader, replica, monster…he could probably tear a hole straight through one of Alpha’s outer walls barehanded if he chose. For some personal motive of his own, he hadn’t harmed her yet. Maybe he still wasn’t sure what she suspected. ‘Which would make two of us.’ Maybe he wanted her alive to help effect an appearance of legitimacy. ‘And the second he thinks he doesn’t need you…’ Obligated to look him in the eye or risk showing even greater panic, Helena inhaled a shaky breath and evenly met his icy blue gaze with her own smoky green one. ‘Bluff, Helena. You have to get away from him. Remember when Alan and Ben taught you how to play poker, and bluff.’


Spinning on her heels she turned into his cold embrace, sliding her arms around his neck and pressing closer. “I’m not uncomfortable, darling. I just assumed you’d be busy this evening.”




This was amazing. Was every human female like her? She felt delectable. She smelled even better. The archaic animal awareness he’d acquired with this interim human form was astounding. They used such a small portion of their brains, but, oh my, their senses!...How did they deal with the struggle of survival with so many primal senses going off at once? The physical reaction his replicated form was experiencing in response to her heat and scent was distracting, albeit highly enticing. He wondered…did his double undertake his daily routine in this kindled state? How often must his mate accede to his conjugal demands for him to concentrate on duty? She seemed willing enough now, though in view of her suspicions, he assumed she was only pretending and playing for time…but what a seductive performance she was giving. He dipped his face into the curve of her neck, letting her hair tickle pleasingly against his nose. He noted the softness of her skin, lightly perfumed with a scent fresh and exotic to him. He wondered how she would taste.




Helena had hoped her different tack would put him off-guard, confound him enough to make him loosen his hold on her. All she needed was a small head start to get to her commlock and press the emergency button. So far though, it wasn’t working. To her dismay, he seemed like he might be interested in exploring what she had only feigned to offer. The way he was sniffing her hair and neck and…‘oh my God, is that his tongue?’ The feeling was akin to a dry ice cube slithering beneath her ear, down toward the collar of her uniform. She couldn’t stop herself from shivering, or prevent her body from stiffening in his close embrace.




A tight, irritated smile crossed his features. Fear was rippling off her. She remained unsure as to what he was, but her distrust was too high for him to feel confident. He should kill her and be done with it. His only concern should be how and where to hide her body to circumvent premature discovery of his intentions. His objective was specific. There could be no wavering or opposition allowed.




She could feel his tension rise. In another moment she felt him pushing her backwards against the wall, decisively pinning her body with his, hands locking solidly on both her wrists and holding them above her head. He pressed against her, torso to torso, groin to groin. His lips hovered centimeters above hers. His aroused physical state was evident...and she couldn’t stop the thoughts that wondered whether that part of him was as cold as everything else. She was very much afraid she was about to find out, and she knew if she screamed it would do no good. No one would hear.


“Why are you afraid…baby?” he whispered. There was no love or concern in his tone. “You like it rough once in awhile, don’t you? You don’t think I’m going to hurt you…do you?”


She was terrified, not just for herself or even for Alpha, but for John. What had happened to him on that rock? The only thought in her mind beyond her own safety was that she had to try one last time to reach him. If any part of this being was John, somehow, some way surely he would let her help him. He wouldn’t hurt her. She had to believe that.


“No, John, I know you’d never hurt me.” Tears sprang into her eyes and rolled down her cheeks as she tried to see some glimmer of recognition in his gaze. “I just want to know what happened to you out there. Honey, please…you know I’ll help you if you let me.”


He had expected her courage to crumble, expected her to beg for her life, not plead to help him. She meant it, too. She was deeply afraid of him, but also afraid for him. It was clear she thought he might be who he claimed, but altered in some way she couldn’t comprehend. Her reaction was confusing…and her eyes were leaking in an oddly disconcerting manner.


There was something else…something his own species’ senses merged with the enhanced human ones were detecting that was entirely unexpected. He glanced intently down between them where their bodies touched so intimately, then raised his eyes back to hers. This knowledge had not been supplied in either of the scans of his double’s mind. The second scan had been performed after the human was already in stasis and that limited its depth, but surely this information would have been available. “He doesn’t know,” he muttered. Considering what his finely-tuned perceptions revealed and combining it with what he’d learned so far of the human measurement of time, he added, “You don’t know. Yet.”


Now she was mystified, but she felt his grasp on her wrists relax. His body no longer trapped hers so tightly against the wall. “He who, John? I don’t know what?” Maybe she’d reached him after all. Maybe the situation wasn’t hopeless. Instead of wrenching free, she placed a trembling hand on his frigid cheek and a small frightened kiss on his cold lips. “John, please…honey, just tell me how to help you.”


She should have jerked away from him the moment he loosened his grip, should have made a move, any move, to summon help to her side. Had she done so, he could have dealt with her and been gone before assistance arrived...but she stood there…and caressed him instead. Her eyes gazed into his with tremendous fear and hope and something he didn’t know how to define, but staggering in its power. Her kiss made him withdraw even further, bewildered by her response.


With surprising gentleness, his hand closed over hers and removed it from his cheek, lowering her arm to her side. Now she was free to take whatever action she wished, though he could stop her easily if he chose. To his astonishment, she took his hand in both of hers, rubbing the fingers together. She was trying, he realized, to transfer some of her natural warmth to him, to reach him, to save him.


Her voice was the barest entreating whisper. “John?”


He could close the fingers of his other hand round her neck and squeeze. Her life shouldn’t matter. Primitive seedlings, incapable of existing without her, should be accorded no value either. He could choke the breath out of her right now and finish this. Then this sorceress’ spell she had flung about his thoughts would end, those tiny clumps of cells would cease their multiplying and dividing and her disturbing green eyes would stop trying to peer into his very being. He knew precisely what he ought to do.


He raised the hand…and carefully lifted a lock of hair away from her eyes, allowed his fingertips to trace across her throat. He felt her hand begin to stroke the side of his face. Had he thought her eyes disturbing? Really, they were quite attractive, quite…beautiful for a species so foreign. He had never seen that color before. What was that she had done with her mouth, when she’d pressed it briefly, too briefly, to his? Would she do it again, if he asked?


A fiery needle of pain abruptly shot into his brain from the vicinity of his right temple, ricocheting around his skull, igniting images not revealed or even sought in his mental fusions with his duplicate. Jumbled pictures, a rich collage featuring this pair; united through struggle, united in sorrow and joy, united with an unbreakable bond. He had to brace both hands against the wall on either side of her to keep his balance. It was only then, when it was too late, when the choice had been made, the plan had been set in motion, only then did he realize that this particular human had been about the worst choice that could have been made. This human possessed a secret weapon: the formidable heart of his mate.


With little surprise he noted his moment of physical weakness only served to increase her strength. For now, she had both arms around him, and willingly; not in fear or as a ploy to win her escape, but only to help him. He could almost feel his energy being sucked out by the warmth of her hands on his face, the heat of her body next to his. In another few moments, he thought he might begin to melt. With effort he took hold of her wrists once more, still tenderly, and again lowered her arms to her sides.


His voice, when he found it, was soft. “You can’t help me, Helena. And if you could, you wouldn’t want to,” he said matter-of-factly.




He stepped away from her. He desired to spend not a second more in the company of this pale witch, she with fire in her touch, casting enchantments with her eyes.. “I need to get back to Observation. You can’t trust anyone around here to follow orders unless you watch them every minute.”


Her own confusion grew. The attack, seizure, whatever he’d suffered alarmed her, but his words…They almost sounded like the real John; a John in a very foul humor, but nevertheless, John-like. “Why don’t you come to Medical with me first? You don’t feel well. We could…”


“No.” He was already halfway to the door. “After we break free. I’ll do it then.” He was out the door and gone before she could say another word.




On shaky legs, Helena slid down the wall to the floor, wrapping her arms round her knees and hugging herself into a tight ball. She was grateful to be alive but beyond that, she felt no relief. The crisis Alpha faced remained and she was no closer to having the facts about John…how he could be aided, or even if he could be. Of one thing she was certain; Tony and Maya were right that the answer lay on that asteroid. She would do what she could to help them. John, the real John, if he returned to them fully, would understand their actions.




He stormed back to Observation in a fury, more enraged with himself than the alluring doctor and more determined than ever to finish this. It had been a near thing, but thankfully, he had resisted the momentary flight of fancy to conjoin with the human female. He believed, as his head began to clear and his strength returned, that such an act would have unmade him, perhaps literally have dissolved him to a puddle on the floor. Certainly it would have hindered the completion of his obligation.


As to her, her soft skin, her hex-filled eyes…it didn’t matter. It wouldn’t matter. He had no reason to preserve her. If she knew the truth, she would not try to save him. In the end, she would be dead with the rest of her people and his planet would live again as it deserved. His directive was all and the next time he was tested, he would show no weakness. He would not fail.



Go to Part 2

Caitlyn Carpenter / 2008