Work Header

The Only Way to Be Sure

Work Text:

It wasn't easy to nuke Verdun, but Rita Vrataski managed it.

She doesn't like to think about how many times she had to die to make that happen. Trial and error -- a lot of error -- and the only thing that kept her going was having a goal to focus on. Get to a plane. Learn to fly the plane. She taught herself to fly on a different plane, actually, because the ones with the nukes were too hard to get to; the window of opportunity was vanishingly small, and even with practice, she missed it a lot. Better for her to get in the flight time and not worry about which plane she was on until she had a chance of not crashing into a building on takeoff. And then the first time she got through on the right plane, she realized she hadn't armed the warhead -- which she really should have thought about sooner, but she didn't claim to be thinking very well at the time. Countless deaths, over and over again, until finally she did everything right and dropped a fucking nuke on Verdun.

A few seconds after she hit the release she woke up on her cot again, which meant the nuke had gone off like it should.

A few seconds after she hit the release she woke up on her cot again, which meant it hadn't done a damned bit of good.


But the Omega was there. She was sure of it -- the visions came fast and thick now. If it was there, and even a nuke couldn't kill it . . . .

She didn't get around to thinking it through until later. She lost count of the days in the middle there, because finding out that even a nuke wasn't enough sent her over the edge for a while. Some days she got utterly pissed; other days she woke up and ate a bullet for breakfast. (Which was just about the stupidest and most useless thing she'd ever done. All it meant was waking up again half a second later.) But eventually she considered:

Either the Omega was immune to everything, nukes included, in which case she might as well just stake herself out for an Alpha to kill.

Or it was dug in too deep for the blast to reach . . . in which case, she had to go after it personally.

She spent too fucking long arranging that nuke to even think about giving up.


So Rita Vrataski picked herself up off the floor and set about finding a path through the carnage of Verdun.

They gave her nicknames before that day ever ended -- earlier and earlier each time, in fact, like there was some kind of inevitability to the thing. The Angel of Verdun: she hated that one. It conjured up images of glowing white robes, wings, haloes. That was the kind of thing they called field nurses, Florence Nightingale types, back when they fought wars where they could afford not to throw every warm body onto the field regardless of sex. She was raised Catholic; she knows there are angels that come with fiery swords. But she doesn't feel much like that kind of angel, either, even though she has a sword. (She rigged it out of a broken helicopter blade her thirty-sixth time around, and made a habit of it after that, because it's good to have one weapon that doesn't need reloading and doesn't run out of battery.) Fiery-sword angels don't trip over corpses, fall down exactly the wrong way, and accidentally blow their own ribcages out.

And then there's the other one: Full Metal Bitch.

Truth be told? She used to like that one. Not that she'd ever admit it to anybody . . . but it made her feel strong, made her feel like she could take on the entire Mimic army single-handed -- which is basically what she was trying to do. Sure, it was built on a lie; the only reason she looked like such a badass was because she had memorized how many steps to take in which direction and then how many seconds to delay before firing. But hey, if it was her brain that made her a badass, so be it. She'd take pride in that.

But then she lost it. Got shot full of holes -- by friendly fire, no less, some fucking moron who hadn't mastered basic training with the jacket and got chucked out onto the field at Verdun anyway -- and passed out in the mud before she could fumble out her own sidearm and start the day over. And after that, she wasn't the Full Metal Bitch anymore. Just another fragile human being, blood and bone and breath that could stop all too easily, this time for good.


She hasn't lost everything, though.

She has her shoulder guns, her sidearm, the sword. She still has a thousand hours of practice in the jacket, the ability to reload one-handed while cartwheeling through the air because a Mimic has knocked her halfway across the field. She still know how they move, what tactics they like to use. She knows how to look for signs of their passing, hints that they've burrowed into the ground and will come bursting out as soon as she's in range. And she knows how to kill them before they get the chance.

And she has her refusal to give up.

Even though they're doomed. Even though she knows the Omega let them win at Verdun, to lure them into Project Downfall. Because there's one silver lining to the storm that will end the world: there will be Mimics on the beach when they land. Maybe even an Alpha.

If she can find another one -- kill it -- get its blood into her again --

This time she'll do better. She won't have to waste day after day learning how to fight them. Hendricks is gone, but she has Carter. As soon as the visions start, she'll go after the Omega, and this time she won't bother with nukes. She'll make that bastard's death personal, and she'll use any tool she can find to make it happen.