We Have Each Other
Jack touched down on the landing pad of the nearest tower Tower 49. "Okay, I'm going in."
"Not alone," Tech 67 said.
"Not alone!" he snapped.
Jack looked at him his face was pale, his expression pained but determined. "Okay, Jack."
He grabbed a handgun and moved cautiously to the passenger side to help Tech 67 out of the craft. Tech 67 already had his own handgun out. He kept hold of it while Jack guided his left arm around his shoulders.
They moved slowly inside all the doors were open and Jack brushed the silky curtain aside. They began to scan the room, but Jack froze three seconds into the scan. In the middle of the sterile, austere replica of his own dwelling, there was a disabled drone.
"What the hell?" Tech 67 whispered.
The curtains on the left side of the room were burned the drone had come in that way, guns hot. Jack glanced at Tech 67 and led him to the couch. He leaned against the side, and Jack switched his gun to his right hand and approached the drone. There were no markings, and there was no armor on the drone, which surprised him almost as much as the fact that there was a drone in the center of the room at all. He glanced at Tech 67. "I'm going to check downstairs. Are you okay?"
The other man nodded, and Jack looked around the room once more before climbing over the drone and heading downstairs. On the bottom floor, the dock door was wide open, and Jack saw a replica of his own workshop. The tools were where his would normally be, and he saw the extra armor and weapons that would normally be in his workshop. The main difference (besides the fact that the loading dock door was open), was that the drone repair dock was empty.
Jack frowned, and moved closer to it, even though he was concerned about leaving Tech 67 alone for too long. He took a closer look at the broken shielding and other tools near the repair dock. He picked up the face plating for the drone, and gasped in shock. He dropped the plate as if it were hot, backing away, his breath quickening. Suddenly, he ran back to the stairs, bounding up them quickly. He froze for a second at the sight of the drone, then climbed back over it and looked at Tech 67.
"What is it?" 67 asked.
Jack looked back at the drone again, finding the "fatal" shot. Aside from that, she was in perfect condition, except for the missing shielding. "Oh God."
"What, Jack, talk to me!"
"It's... it's drone 109," he said, backing away from it.
Jack glanced toward his friend, before resuming his watchful scan of the room, gun raised. "You... did you have one, too?"
"Yes," Tech 67 replied, voice a husky whisper. "In the dock waiting for shielding."
"Oh my God," he said again. He continued to back away, slowly starting to tremble.
"A failsafe," 67 whispered. "109 was a failsafe. If Jack or Vikka got out of line..."
"They'd kill them both and start fresh," Jack whispered. He turned back to his friend, eyes wide in shock and horror. "Jack... we... we're-"
His stomach lurched without warning, and he bent down and vomited onto the sterile floor. His first thought was that Vikka would be upset. Then he puked again. Then again. He began to sob wildly. "We... h-helped them," he choked out between sobs. Suspecting the truth was one thing. Now, there could be no lowered eyes, no sudden change of subject between them. The proof was in his face, shocking and utterly damning. The sight of the drone made all of their previous suspicions suddenly fall into place identifying themselves to the drones, the reason Mission didn't employ different humans to do its work, everything. "They... they k-killed Vikka. Th-there was no Titan. There w-was never any Titan!"
"We killed humans!" he screamed. "We m-murdered our... our own kind!"
"We didn't know," Tech 67 said.
"Why? W-we figured it out now!"
"We got the hell of a clue, Jack," 67 said, sounding nauseous himself.
"There was never any Titan," Jack cried. "Vikka didn't have to... th-there was never... we... we..."
Jack couldn't speak, the sobbing had become uncontrollable. He hugged his arms to himself and rocked back and forth, half sobbing, half screaming, wild unintelligible sounds.
"Jack." Tech 67's voice was hardly a whisper. "Jack." Jack could only cry and gasp and sway under the waves of grief and guilt and misery. A moment later, Tech 67 dropped down to the floor, resting a hand heavily on Jack's shoulders. Jack was alarmed, and looked down at 67's wounded leg.
Tech 67 took Jack's face in both is hands, and forced him to look up. His eyes were red and shining, his face even whiter than before. "Jack, please," he said, voice cracking. "Please take me home." Jack swallowed hard, trying to quell his own hysteria. "Please. I don't like it here." His lip trembled, and he gritted his teeth, clamping down on a sob. "Take me home, Jack, please."
Jack nodded slowly. "Okay, Jack," he whispered, body quaking. "Okay. We'll go." He put a hand over one of Tech 67's hands, still holding the side of Jack's face. "We'll go. Just wait here a minute."
"I promise you, we'll go away soon."
Tech 67 nodded, and Jack stood up. He ran past the downed drone, back to the medical wing. He gutted the place, rooting through the familiar cabinets, dumping as many supplies as he could into a large storage kit. He stopped at the weapon's locker again and slung the two rifles over his shoulder. He froze when he saw the picture of Jack and Vikka - this one stuck on Jack's mirror, instead of sitting near the kitchen counter in its own frame. Jack grabbed it and put it inside his jacket, then stopped at the kitchen and took all the food he could find.
He hefted the two large packs out to the plane with a reassuring smile to his friend. He raced back to his friend, not wanting him to be alone too long. "Okay, Jack," he said. "I'm taking you home."
"Okay." Tech 67 smiled, though he was clearly in pain physical and emotional. Jack helped him to his feet, then supported him until they were back to the plane. Jack strapped him in, then got in and flew away from Tower 49 at full speed.
Both of them felt better when they returned to their lakeside home. Jack helped his friend out of the ship and tended to his wound, using supplies he'd taken from Tower 49.
When Tech 67 was finally comfortable, and immediate action no longer needed, Jack slumped down to the floor and rested his head on the bed next to Tech 67's now splinted leg. The weight of his new knowledge threatened to crush him again. He felt Tech 67's large, solid hand on his head, soothing and gentle and still.
Jack looked up, blinking past tears into the tearful face of his friend. "What are we, Jack?" he whispered.
Tech 67 took a breath, his hand tightening ever so slightly on Jack's head. "Victims," he said. "Were victims, Jack."
Jack took care of Tech 67 during his recovery, and he took care of almost all of the household duties as well. Tech 67 insisted on working on things he could do without moving much. He took over the sewing repairing shirts and pants, and he put food together for them when he felt well enough. Mostly, he kept Jack company and he took to reading aloud to him from the books they'd collected from the library, while Jack did chores and made minor improvements to the house.
They didn't speak about Tower 49.