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07 November 2010 @ 02:11 pm
[fanfic] Strange New Worlds: Episode IV  
Title: Strange New Worlds
Artist: extraonions
Author: tiptoe39
Pairing(if applicable): Gen
Rating: PG-13 for violence and some crude humor
Warnings/Spoilers: None

Master art post | Master fic post

Episode IV: The Alien Prisoner

"I'm sorry. I apologize."

"Cas, this isn't the kind of thing you can just say sorry for. Look at her!"

Sam had his arms around Pamela, who had stopped crying but was still trembling. She whispered occasional requests at Ash, and he was complying by running to and fro, picking up supplies from bins in the corners of the room. Every scurry just pissed Dean off more. "What the hell kind of robot are you, anyway?"

Pamela pointed at Cas with one trembling hand. The other arm was still locked over her eyes. "That," she said, "is not a robot."

"It's not?" Dean squinted at Cas. No matter how he sliced it, that skin was metallic and silver. There was nothing else Cas could possibly be.

"Cut him open," she declared bitterly. "See if any of the wires in there make any sense to you. They're connected to nothing. There's no computer in there! Just circuits and connectors. And-- and light!"

Dean steered Cas over to the side. "She's wrong, isn't she? I mean, you've got a central processor, or something, somewhere?"

"She is right," Castiel said. "I shouldn't have lied to you. I am not an android. I had no idea my appearance would prove so ....

"Cas." Sam had come up behind Dean. "What are you?"

Castiel looked nervous. "I am unsure how to describe myself in ways you will understand. I am energy. I am will, and I am an agent of creation."

Dean grumbled. "Right. So basically, you're literally an angel. Great. Use your angelic powers and fix her."

"I cannot. I am sorry."

"Stop apologizing, for crap's sake, Cas!"

“Would the two of you just shut up for two seconds so I can work?”

Pamela was on her knees, hunched over, on the floor. A wire was feeding into an electrode on her forehead, and she was assembling machinery by touch, her fingers moving over a sea of tiny parts. She murmured to Ash, who passed pieces into her hands. When the group fell silent, she huffed. “That’s better,” she said. “The pulse dampens the pain but it makes kind of hard to block out distractions. You try putting together a jigsaw puzzle when you’re high on painkillers.”

“What are you making?” Sam asked.

“What do you think, genius?” Pamela spit out a half-laugh. “Eyes!”

“So explain.”

Dean had ordered Castiel up the stairs to the control room. Against the glow of the screens, the not-android’s skin gleamed green and yellow, strange, sickening colors that flashed off and on.

Castiel looked at him. “I have already explained. I am a different form of life.”

“Right. You’re made of energy, or light, or something.”

“That is... more or less correct.”

“So was the hellhound.”

Castiel began to speak, then stilled. Unblinking, he looked at Dean expectantly.

“Cas.” Dean took the opening. “Why were you out there? Was that thing one of your--?”

“It was not mine.” Castiel hesitated. “It belonged to my superiors.”

Dean inhaled sharply. “I think you better start explaining.”

Castiel nodded. He walked over to the shattered window, looking down briefly at Sam and Pamela and Ash working to fit her new eyes together, then meeting Dean’s gaze again. “The creature is one of our race's... you might call them beasts of burden.”

“Hell of a pet.”

“It is a hunter. It was unleashed by my superiors and was captured before it could complete its mission. When I learned of its capture, I came to aid it. I am...” He sighed. “I am sorry about the loss of life. When they are cornered, they can be... hard to manage.”

Dean came right up to him, put a hand on his shoulder. “Cas. What was it hunting?”

Metallic eyes flickered with what could have been sadness.


“We believe one of our race was captured by the humans,” Castiel said. “This is an act of war. I have been assigned the task of attempting to negotiate his release with the humans. This is why I took human form. But I have detected no sign of him.”

Dean’s heart had started racing at the word war, and it didn’t stop. “An act of war? As in, your race would attack the human race over this?”

“It would be a massacre,” Castiel said. “This planet, perhaps others... they would be wiped out. My race would break every molecule in the galaxy down to atoms in order to find our captured brother. I don’t want to see this happen,” He gripped Dean’s hand on his shoulder, forced it down. “ I am asking you, Dean... please. To prevent a war, for both our species' sake. Help me find the captive.”

They would have stayed at the Roadhouse longer, but Pamela and Ash had their damage control to do, and the Harvelles, who ran the bar, give Dean and Sam cold looks as they left. Someone must have told them whose fault it was that the place nearly exploded. So it was just as well that they head on out.

Besides, Dean had a hunch. “That technology, the Wormwood machine,” he’d said. “Could that have trapped one of your buddies?”

“No,” Castiel said after a moment’s thought. “But similar technology could.”

“Then we need to head back to Milton Labs.”

The landspeeder wasn't the smartest vehicle in the world. It was sleek, but it let out a dim whine as they rounded the hills approaching the tiny house known as Milton Labs. Castiel shifted in his seat. "That noise is... irritating," he said when Dean glanced at him.

"There's something weird about you complaining," Dean said with a laugh. "Either you're an android, and you don't get irritated, or you're some kind of higher life form, and you're not supposed to care about things like noisy cars."

"It's disturbing for me, as well." Castiel's brows knotted together. "I am not supposed to care about such things, either. And yet the longer I spend here, the more I find that I do."

The consternation in his face was so apparent, so very human, that Dean couldn't help but feel a twinge of sympathy. He reached over to put a hand on Castiel's shoulder.

The landspeeder shuddered and fell off its course, sloping sharply to the side. Sam righted it quickly. "What the--" His exclamation was cut off by another jolt, and this time it was clear why. A bolt of energy, shot just under the rim of the speeder, knocking it to the side. A moment later, another zing grazed the side of the vehicle.

"The hell?" Dean rolled down a window and craned his neck out the side.

He could see the crown of red hair from there. The girl that had shooed them out of the cramped kitchen earlier in the day was standing in front of her house, brandishing a contraption that looked too heavy for her to carry, and from the barrel at the end flowed another rolling wave of energy that was upon them the minute they saw the air ripple. Sam swerved high to avoid it, but the landspeeder still lurched, and Dean nearly fell through the open window.

"We just want to talk to you!" he shouted, his voice straining to rise loud enough to reach her.

"I told you to stay away!"

The speeder slammed to a halt and Dean tumbled out. Hands up and open, he staggered forward. Sam shouted out the window. "Lady, please! We just need to talk--"

Something that wasn't just an energy wave grazed Sam’s cheek, and he yelled, clutching his face. Dean shouted his name, then leveled fierce eyes on the girl. She was holding a simple pistol; there was no sign of the more complicated weapon she'd had just a second ago. In the moment of confusion it took him to register the change, she'd squeezed the trigger. A bullet hurtled toward Dean's face.

A heavy hand slammed into him, pushing him out of the way, and a loud sound rang in his ears as the bullet hit a target that was not his body. Dean felt the whole thing in slow motion, mind working so fast to process it all that he didn't even feel the sting of the ground beneath his palms and knees as he fell. The next moment he could breathe, he was kneeling awkwardly on the ground, back wrenched, hands smarting. Above him, Castiel opened a clenched fist, and the bullet fell to the ground.

The girl stared. And then she ran.

The whole house rattled with the force of the slammed door. A second later, it was no longer visible, obscured beneath a dome of what looked like liquid darkness. Electrical charges leaped across the surface of the barrier. The whole thing flickered ominously. Dean got up and surveyed Castiel, who was staring at the barrier with narrowed eyes. Sam had gotten out and was standing beside him. His cheek was bleeding where the bullet had grazed it.

"What the hell?" Dean advanced across the remaining space toward the dome. Standing before it, Dean could see himself reflected, as though in polished chrome, dark and silhouetted. If he peered hard, he could just see the shape of the house behind the barrier's flowing darkness.

He stretched out a hand toward it.

"Dean, don't!" The voice was Castiel's, and for the second time in as many minutes Castiel was shoving him to the side. The shoulder of his jacket brushed the barrier and burned, instantly, crumbling to ash. If Castiel hadn't caught him and pulled him back, part of his shoulder would have gone with it.

Dean recoiled and clutched the newly bored hole in his jacket. "What in the hell is that?"

"It’s a barrier I cannot break." Castiel replied. "If the humans have managed to capture my brother, he must be held with restraints like these."

"Which means we can't give up," Dean said. "We'll have to wait her out. Sam, you and Cas head out. I'll lie low till she cuts off the force field."

"Dean!" Sam protested.

"What?" Dean gave a shifty grin. "I'm great at getting girls to drop their defenses."

It was twilight, and Dean was starting to ache, when the force field finally went down. He'd found a hiding place just behind one of the neighboring hills, from which he could see the faintly glowing black dome. During the hours that ensued, he'd gotten more and more pensive, trying to put into some kind of focus what had happened since this morning... and indeed what had happened since he had nearly lost his life aboard that ghost ship out in the middle of Yellow Eyes.

It was Cas, really, that had changed everything. From the minute Cas had touched him, Dean had been drawn headlong into something way deeper than he'd ever thought he'd have to deal with. He was a goddamn space cowboy. He didn't need to be up to his neck in government conspiracies and higher forms of life. He didn't want his friends to lose their eyes or his brother to get shot. And yet all of that managed to find its way to him. All because of Castiel.

And worst of all, he couldn't seem to blame Cas for it.

When the barrier came down, the girl peeked out from behind the window, but still didn't come out the door. It was a long time before she finally did open the door, just to sweep out some crumbs from the kitchen floor. Then she stepped out, looked up at the sky, and gave a long, resolute sigh.

"Sucks, doesn't it? When people won't listen to you."

She gasped and looked around. Dean was leaning against the side of the house, his hands up, the scrapes where they'd hit the dirt showing in the open palms. "That's all I want, is to ask you some questions," he said. "It's just me. No tricks. I swear."

The girl eyed him. "You're not a fed."

"No." He lowered his hands and approached her.

"Then who are you?"

"Right now? Just a guy who's in over his head." He sat down on the front stoop of the house, looking up at her expectantly. "I didn't want to fall into any of this. All of a sudden there's hellhounds and weird weapons and government coverups, I can't keep track of any of it and all I'm looking for is the truth."

She frowned at him for a long moment before deciding to sit. "I don't like making them."

"Making what?"

"Weapons." She shuddered. "That's all they want from me, is weapons. I don't understand why people are always so determined to be the first to shoot."

"Hey. You were the one who shot at us."

"I thought you were--"

"Don't worry about it. Some of my best relationships started with getting shot at. It's only a problem when they end that way."

She laughed hard, but then her face sobered. "See, this is all I want to do. Live my life. Be normal. Have a cute guy flirt with me. Flirt back."

Dean's eyebrows shot up. A sly smile lifted the corner of his mouth. "What's stopping you?"

She tilted her head. A tendril of red hair dropped across her face. Dean reached over to brush it back. His hand lingered, fingerpads brushing her face. For an instant, their eyes locked, and space and time started to slip away.

Then a soft "Oh" sounded, and they both looked up to see a silver face, dimly lit by the house lights.

"You did not get in contact," Castiel said. "I worried."

"Cas." Dean's voice faltered, and a shudder went through the body next to his.

"Did you just say..." she started, and then turned. "CAS/T/L?"

Her voice had no trouble making the mechanical clicks between the syllables.

Castiel's eyes opened wide. "AN/NA?"

Dean shifted his gaze between the two of them. "Wait. You're...?"

Anna stood. For an instant, Dean thought he saw something beyond her guise, something luminous and more than a little scary. But then she was just a girl again, and that was frightening enough. He stayed out of the way as the two of them stared each other down.

"You've come to bring me home, haven't you?" she said. Defiance was as thick and hot in her voice as it was in the flash of her eyes.

"I've come to rescue you."

"CAS/T/L." Her jaw set. "I was not captured. I ran away."

*to be continued*