They may have created all life on Earth, but they were still only human. The rapid gene sequencing she’d run on the Prometheus was one-hundred percent conclusive in that particular regard.
So, they were only human, and if they were only human, then they were not infallible.
They were not infallible. That has been conclusively proven. There must be a way.
Dr. Elizabeth Shaw had repeated those three sentences so often to herself that they’d almost ceased to lose all meaning to her.
Almost…but not quite.
Their technological prowess was unparalleled, it was true. Among their many accomplishments was the mass production of a biological agent which could annihilate a planet’s non-botanical lifeforms within the space of mere weeks or months. To her singular misfortune, Elizabeth had witnessed this destruction unleashed upon its creators firsthand.
And they had also been voyagers, explorers, colonizers. They’d traveled to the farthest reaches of the galaxy and returned again to tell the tale.
So, of course they had taken precautionary measures and put rigorous safeguards in place. Within hours of the release of the biological agent, the entire planet had been placed under quarantine. Every single space-worthy vessel had been remotely deactivated.
Including the one she had arrived on.
Which had been theirs before it was hers.
Somehow, by some miracle of God, she’d managed to survive the apocalypse. But now she was trapped on this dead and downright deadly world. Really, it was only a matter of time before there would be no humans left alive whatsoever.
David was an android. He didn’t count.
She had been camped out in the ship perched precariously on the wooded mountainside overlooking the lakes—her ship, that was how she had come to think of it—for days, and she had only the smallest of successes to show for her hard work. But they were successes. She’d managed to reactivate the ship’s holographic cockpit console, for starters. If she could just figure out how to reactivate everything else. The engines, say. Yes, that would be fabulous.
It would come. She knew it would. Because she still had her faith…and her father’s gold cross to prove it.
When Elizabeth had been on Earth, all she had done was look to the stars and dream of what she might find. Now, all she wanted was to go home.
Home. Take me home.
Idly, she hummed a random tune as she fiddled and tinkered with the controls. The music kept her company. It would be so much easier if David were here to help her—he’d always understood their technology, and the language and logic underpinning it, so much better—but he’d become fixated on studying the effects of the biological agent.
And that too was important work, you see. The most important. Who knew if there were more caches of the stuff hidden away somewhere on some other abandoned outpost on some other remote planet? Who knew if humanity and Earth were still under threat from it? Understanding was key and could lead to protection, prevention…possibly even a cure.
After all, she had no one to blame for her current predicament besides herself. She was the one who had wanted to come here. She was the one who’d wanted to look her creators in the eye. To see them in the living flesh. To accuse them. To ask them why.
Even though she already knew why. The barrenness of her own womb was akin to a physical pain. Would not one with the power to create life…revel in its creation? Who could resist the temptation?
No need to damn them to Hell. They were already there.
And so was she.
Her present loneliness was a small price to pay, all things considered. Besides, she’d always—
“Elizabeth, you really should come away from here. It isn’t safe.”
Was it a sin to fuck a synthetic? Maybe. Well, probably. On the other hand, she wasn’t married anymore, and, let’s face it, he was the only thing available.
Androids didn’t need to breathe or eat or sleep. Yet they could do all of these things, and that was so that real human beings wouldn’t be made to feel unduly uncomfortable around them. They didn’t need to fuck lonely, horny archeologists either, but they could do that too. This functionality was also intended for the comfort of the real human beings, presumably. Had Peter Weyland taught David how?
Hmm, you know what? Sometimes it was better to remain ignorant.
He had a lovely cock, soft, mobile skin over thick, hard steel, and when she lay back and he eased himself inside of her, he fit like he was made for her…which, in a very real sense, he was. The rhythm of his thrusts was steady and strong, not too fast, not too slow, and he angled his hips with each in and out, in and out pass to stimulate the spots that made her groan and sigh.
She kept her eyes closed tight; she’d rather not be reminded of who—or what—he was. And she stroked her clitoris while he labored above and inside of her; she figured no one understood her needs better than she did, and she wasn’t about to go unsatisfied. With the outer edge of her thumb, she pulled the hood of her clitoris back, and with the tip of her forefinger, she rubbed the exposed button of nerve-rich flesh with determination, only occasionally pausing to swipe her finger around David’s shaft and dip into her vagina to gather more lubricating moisture. Dry sex was no fun.
The climb to orgasm was arduous, an agonizing struggle to overcome her own inhibitions; she felt no particular desire for or attraction to her partner. But ultimately that was a mind over matter problem, and crude matter would be made to submit. When at last at last the tension did unwind and release, it was with a welcome and surprisingly intense burst of pleasure. Arching, straining, she clutched at David’s flexing buttocks, stilling him, so that she could enjoy the sweet sensation of her inner muscles clamping and fluttering on his cock.
He finished when she did, of course, with a whimpering moan and a sudden, profuse flush of liquid warmth against her cervix. It was, Elizabeth decided, an elegant touch. Too bad he was as sterile as she was.
Afterwards, David rocked her tenderly as his cock softened and slipped out of her, stroking the flats of his palms up and down her sides and pressing sloppy kisses against the juncture of her neck and shoulder. Vaguely, she wondered if he was preparing for a second round.
He only paused, lifting his head, when he realized that she was crying.
Post-coital depression had well and truly set in.
“Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Oh, I don’t know…I just…I…” she mumbled, trying to push him off of her and, when that failed, turning her face away from the probing glint of those unsettling eyes.
Another choked, hiccuping sob escaped from her throat.
“Tell me. Elizabeth, tell me.”
She acquiesced. In halting, stuttering language, she told him how she had longed to be a mother, how many years she and Charlie had tried to conceive, all the money and the tests and the late-night crying jags, all for nothing in the end. How nevertheless she’d been able to take some small comfort in seeing other people’s children—they’d always made her smile—and in knowing her own archeological research findings were for the betterment of future generations. Knowledge, she had believed, was always beautiful.
And instead, what had she accomplished? Oh, only the annihilation of the progenitor race, while simultaneously stranding herself light years from the next nearest child at whom she might smile. No matter how hard she had tried—and oh! had she tried! for years!—she couldn’t get her ship to fly. And so? Now? Now?! She was going to die here, with no one to remember her, no descendants to carry her genes, no one to carry on her legacy. Her hard-won knowledge would die with her.
She talked for so long that she almost forgot anyone was listening. Or maybe she had become too accustomed to talking to herself, to being alone—
“I will always remember…and I will always remember you,” David said.
“Yes, but you aren’t human. It’s not the same,” Elizabeth scoffed.
David subsided into distracted, contemplative silence. Seizing the opportunity, she rolled out from beneath him, got to her feet, and started to pace.
“Perhaps…” he hazarded, “there is another solution…?”
Over the course of the next several hours, David told her about the outcomes of his latest experiments, the sheer wonder and brilliance that was the biological agent they had recovered on LV-223. It functioned by augmenting the genetic codes of the lifeforms with which it makes contact, he told her, by strengthening them, by perfecting them.
There was still so much more to be done.
To be learned.
“Yes, that’s right. Knowledge is beautiful. We will make it together, Elizabeth, you and I.”
When David offered her the draught, she drank it down in a single gulp. It was colorless, odorless, tasteless. Then they fucked, fast and rough this time, to distract her from the initial pain. He finished before she did, which surprised her. That was a first. But she supposed it was understandable—he had every reason to be excited.
“I will be their father, and you will be their mother,” he told her, “and they will love and obey us unquestioningly as good children should.”
She wasn’t really listening to his ramblings anymore. Instead, she was asking herself the same three questions, over and over and over again: Why did she do it? Was it despair which drove her to this madness? Or was it…could it possibly be…
The mutations happened gradually, over the course of several days. She saw the changes to her skin first—odd tumor-like protrusions, growths that felt tender, yet firm, to the touch. The changes inside came afterwards, organs of her gastrointestinal system pushed aside within her expanding abdominal cavity and spreading rib cage to make room for new organs of generation. Of reproduction.
The gross structural changes to her skeletal system were the very last, and the sound of new bone growing behind her eye sockets was like nothing she could ever have imagined. By that point, her skull had become too heavy for her neck to support, and her collarbone and shoulder joints had fused together. She could neither lift nor turn her head. In fact, between the weight of her head and the weight of her distended abdomen, she could no longer stand at all.
It didn’t matter whether she was vertical or horizontal. David saw to her every need.
“Shall I get you something to eat, Elizabeth? Or something to drink? Are you thirsty?” David asked solicitously. “We must maintain your health and strength.”
“No, no. I’m fine, David, absolutely fine,” she replied. Speaking had become quite a bit of effort on her part. “Just tired. Let me sleep.”
“Of course. Sleep is important too.”
He kissed her forehead and stroked her face until she fell into slumber.
To tell the truth, she was doing more sleeping than anything else. And by the time she closed her eyes, she was already dreaming.
Purity of purpose. Hunger. The hunt, the kill. The drive to reproduce. Yes, to reproduce. To be bountiful and reproduce.
It was different. The first time the biological agent had been introduced into her body, it had felt like a violation, an invasion, and she had gone practically mad, so desperate to cut it out that she would have taken a dull knife to herself to do it. Now, though, was different. This time, it was a partnership of deliberate purpose: She had agreed and consented in advance.
Because she could not lift her head or move from where she lay prone, she could not see what her newly-made body was doing. But she could feel them taking shape within her and then being extruded. Each extrusion was the ecstasy of orgasm, of release, of birth…and of the certainty in her own power of creation.
“They are wondrous! Beautiful beyond belief! Akin to what you carried on the Prometheus, Elizabeth, but far, far superior. That had only a thin embryonic sac to protect it. These, oh Elizabeth, you should be so proud, these will incubate in eggs indefinitely until a suitable host approaches—”
She stopped listening. The beats of her heart, the blood rushing through her veins, were much louder. The next of her children was ready to be born. She could feel it coming, coming, coming…
“Ah! Fantastic! Do you know how many children we have now?”
She didn’t know, but there had to be more than six. A dozen? However many there were, surely some would survive her and thrive.
Naturally, she knew she was dying. Death would be welcome; death meant that Heaven was near. She would be reunited with all those she loved. With Charlie. With her father. With her mother. They were waiting; they were calling out her name.
It’s finished, Elizabeth. There is a path out of this darkened plain, this endless, horrific night. This is no longer your burden to bear. Others will fight this fight. Come away with us. Come away.
As the light began to fade from behind her closed eyes, she heard David’s final words:
“They will be your greatest legacy.”