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Summary: Anna is a high-ranking member of the Angels, genetically engineered to be on the police force to patrol – and control – the galaxy. But when she meets Jo, the leader of a rebellion against the government, the redhead must learn to think for herself.
Word Count: 3815 Words
Characters: Anna Milton, Jo Harvelle, Ash, Tamara, Rachel, Michael, Charlie Bradbury
Pairings: Anna/Jo
Tags: AU, Femslash







Chapter 1

May 16, Galactic Year 9867

“Breathe, Anna. You’re going to do fine.”
Rachel reached over and fastened the button that Anna had been fumbling with. The dress uniform was heavy and hot, and Anna felt like breathing was easier said than done, but she let her friend help her, holding up her arms so that Rachel could reach.
“Anyway, the hard part’s done,” Rachel continued, “You took out one of the most notorious criminals in the galaxy. That’s got to be scarier than a little ceremony.”
“I don’t like people looking at me,” Anna said, “Couldn’t the Director just mail me the medal or something?” Rachel laughed, and Anna couldn’t help but smile weakly at her.
“Just relax,” Rachel told her. She finished with the last button and turned Anna to the mirror. Anna looked at herself, at the impeccable uniform with its lines of white and gold. She smoothed her hair down so that strands of red wouldn’t come peeking out from underneath her hat. She was an officer of the Angels, and everything had to be perfect.
“Ok,” Anna said, “I’m ready.”

May 9, Galactic Year 9867

Anna ignored the burning in her chest as she sprinted along the rooftop, gripping her charge gun in sweaty hands. The radio in her inner ear buzzed with static - the rebels must have found a way to jam the signal – and she listened to the hiss of it and the sound of her own pounding footsteps echoing against the walls of the surrounding buildings. She didn’t know where the rest of her unit was, she didn’t know how long she’d been running. All she knew was that the Hunter was here, and she could take her down.
Her senses picked up a heat signature a little to the west and she stopped running, scanning the area for signs of life. The rebels had to have some sort of ship they planned to use to get off world with the supplies they’d stolen, but where was it? If the reports were right, and the Hunter himself was here, this might be their only chance to capture her.
Think, Anna. A heat signature with no origin, and a cluster of abandoned buildings where a ship could hypothetically take off without being seen. Right. Anna tucked her gun into her belt and sat down cross-legged, eyes closed. She flicked through each of her enhancements one by one, shutting them down. She shut off her heat sensors, her memory banks, her communications. It felt strange and oppressively silent to have nothing but ordinary human senses, not even the hum of the radio in her ear to keep her company. She focused on breathing in and out, listening to her heart beating steadily in her chest.
Behind her, she heard the loud whine of engines kicking into life. She whirled around to see a ship that looked as if it had been built out of pieces of a hundred other machines, with mismatched plating and loud, unsteady thrusters. It hovered above a rooftop where moments ago Anna had focused her vision and seen nothing. So she’d been right – they had some sort of camo drive wired to detect Angels so the ship wouldn’t take off until the coast was clear. She watched it create a whirling dust cloud as it gained altitude. The hatch was still open, but closing fast. Could she make it?
An ordinary human couldn’t have, but Anna Milton was not an ordinary human. She pulled her charge gun back out of her belt as she let herself boot up again. It felt like being flooded with new blood that coursed through her veins faster, hotter. Better. She took a running start, her boots slamming against the concrete of the rooftop until she pushed off the edge and plunged into the air. For a moment, she was suspended in nothingness as the ship soared forward to meet her. Then, she slammed hands-first into the metal of the deck and rolled forward into a crouch, heart pounding in her chest and head spinning. She was on the ship.
Anna held her gun in front of her and took stock of where she was. It was dark, and the engines created a steady vibration against her feet. Anna took a deep breath. The decision to jump had been an impulsive one, and now she was alone on an enemy craft with her radio jammed. Good thinking.
The ship was quiet, and seemingly empty. Anna crept forward towards the heavy door that separated the storage area from what must be the cockpit. As she moved, she took stock of boxes and boxes of glass vials filled with some sort of gold liquid and stamped with government identification numbers. What were these? Some sort of weapon? She reached out and touched one with her finger, letting her gun fall to her side. It was tiny, and the liquid inside sloshed with the movement of the ship. This is what these heretics were willing to kill for?
The door to the cockpit clanked open, and Anna snapped back to attention, aiming her gun at the doorway.
“In the name of the Empire of God – ” she started to say, and then stopped.
Standing in the doorway, pointing an old-fashioned bullet gun at Anna’s head, was a girl. She was about Anna’s own age, blonde and slight, with a heavy bomber jacket and jeans that hung low on angular hips. Her lips curled into a slight smile as she adjusted her grip on the gun.
“Sorry, Angel,” said the girl, “but I’ve heard the speech before.”
Anna held her gun higher.
“Where’s the Hunter?” she demanded, and the girl only smiled wider.
“Right here,” she said, “Nice to meet you.” Anna almost laughed. This couldn’t be the Hunter. The Hunter was the most feared terrorist in the galaxy, leader of the biggest threat to the government since its inception, wanted on ten planets, but this girl looked like a student from the university on Gilead. She couldn’t be more than twenty.
“Not what you expected?” asked the Hunter.
“I have back-up on the way,” Anna lied. “They will stop you before you leave the atmosphere.”
“You know what this stuff is?” the Hunter went on, ignoring Anna’s words and gesturing to the vials stacked around the ship. Anna glanced at them and then back at the other girl.
“Some sort of chemical weapon, I guess,” Anna said, then – “It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s government property. You’re a criminal.” The Hunter advanced on her, holding her weapon almost casually in front of her.
“It’s medicine,” she said. Anna frowned.
“What?”
“You heard me,” the Hunter said.
“That doesn’t make sense,” Anna argued. “You’re lying.” The Hunter was getting closer. Their weapons were less than an inch apart.
“You wanna know why?” the Hunter asked, “Go back to your superiors. Ask about Project Flood. Then you’ll see who the criminals are.” Anna stared at her. The Hunter reached out and gently pushed Anna’s gun out of the way, moving in so close that Anna could feel the other girl’s breath on her face.
Suddenly, deafening sirens began to blare from outside the ship, and Anna could see the lights of Angel ships flying around them. When she’d rebooted, it must have disrupted the jamming and turned her GPS back on, alerting the Angels of her location. The Hunter raised her eyebrows.
“Here’s where you make a choice, Angel.”

May 16, Galactic Year 9867

The ceremony was long and boring, and Anna had to concentrate to keep from fidgeting in her seat. Director Michaels stood at the podium and droned about the success of the Angel Project and the glory of the Galaxy, and Anna thought about a girl in a bomber jacket who’d told her to make a choice. Next to her, Rachel beamed with pride and nudged Anna’s shoulder with her own.
“We are here today because of the bravery of one officer, Captain Anna Milton,” Michaels finally said, “Because of her actions, one of the most wanted terrorists in the Galaxy, code-named the Hunter, the leader of the cult group Children of Artemis, has been eliminated.” Anna thought about hundreds of vials of gold liquid stacked in boxes in a tiny piece-of-junk spaceship. She looked out at the crowd of faces, at her colleagues and friends, and then quickly focused on her hands.
“Captain Milton rigged a device to explode in the Hunter’s ship, then leapt to the safety of an Angel craft,” the Director continued. And after that, I’ve had enough leaping for one lifetime, Anna thought.
“I am very proud to present Captain Milton with this Medal of Honor,” the Director finished, to enthusiastic applause from the crowd. Anna stood up, straightening her uniform, and walked up to the podium, where the Director fastened a medal shaped like a pair of small, silver wings to her lapel. He shook her hand, and smiled at her in a way that didn’t reach his eyes, which bored through her in a way that made her stomach flip. Anna turned and faced the crowd of Angels, trying her best to smile appreciatively. From now on, she would be famous, a hero. She was the Angel who had killed the Hunter.
For some reason, the medal on her lapel felt heavy.

**
Anna had trouble sleeping that night. She wanted to forget about what she’d done and move on. She’d been groomed for the Angels since before she was born. It was her life, it would always be her life, and she wasn’t going to let some criminal start making her doubt that. Still, the Hunter’s face kept swimming in front of her eyes whenever she tried to relax, and Anna kept thinking about that moment when she’d made the split-second decision to hand the other girl her transporter bracelet.
“Think of where you want to be,” she’d whispered, “And it’ll take you there. Do it now.” The girl had slipped it on, and, just as her body faded into emptiness, she’d given Anna a mock salute and called, “See you later, Angel!” Then Anna had set the bomb and jumped. She wasn’t a hero. All she’d done was help the universe’s greatest criminal fake her own death.
Anna sat up in bed and put her head in her hands. She couldn’t tell anyone, not even Rachel. She didn’t even want to imagine what would happen to her if anyone knew that she’d become a traitor just because a rebel had a pretty face. But it was more than that, wasn’t it? Something about the official story of the Children of Artemis just didn’t add up. Anna suddenly felt a surge of anger towards the authority she had trusted. Why hadn’t her superiors told her what had been stolen? What were those vials used for? Who was the Hunter, really?
Anna turned on the light and picked up her tablet.
“Computer,” she said, “What’s Project Flood?”






Chapter 2

May 9, Galactic Year 9867

Jo’s head was spinning. She stumbled to the left and slammed into something hard – a wall? – before sinking to the ground, her eyes closed against the blinding light that flooded her vision. Aw, fuck. Was she going to throw up? She was going to throw up. Panting, she eased open her eyes and watched as her own bedroom swam into focus, the florescent light flickering and buzzing just as it always did. The noise of it hurt her ears and she groaned.
Something was digging into the palm of her hand, and she opened her fingers to see the transporter bracelet that the Angel had slipped into her fingers. Huh, Jo thought. I guess that’s what teleportation feels like. Put that on the list of things I never want to do again. She braced herself against the wall and pushed to her feet, trying to focus and take stock.
She was back at base, and all in one piece, somehow. Her ship was gone, and her lucky sawed-off, as were the supplies they’d lost three people to get ahold of. Jo kicked the bedside table hard and ignored the new jolt of pain the force gave to her headache. She took a sharp breath in to hold back tears. It had been for nothing. Time was running out, and here they were back to square fucking one. She glanced at the transporter device, which had fallen to the floor and gleamed white and clean against the concrete. The red-haired Angel’s voice drifted into her mind. Think of where you want to be and it’ll take you there. Jo had thought she was done for, that there was no way out and she’d be killed or infected or sent to a work planet or all three. It had been a last-ditch effort to appeal to the possibility that the feathered freak might have a heart. She wasn’t sure why she’d even thought to do it. Maybe it had been the hair; Angels didn’t usually have red hair. At least, Jo had never seen one who did. They all came from the same basic genetic design, after all, so this one’s appearance must have been some sort of fluke or mistake – it had thrown Jo off her game, and she’d taken a chance.
Jo picked up the transporter and turned it over in her hands. The chance seemed to have paid off, but there had to be something else in play here. As much as she’d like to believe that the red Angel had suddenly had a big sappy change of heart, she couldn’t be alive for no reason. The transporter could be a tracking device, which meant that unless she did something soon, she’d lead the Angels straight to base. She needed to take this thing to Ash and Charlie before she did anything else. Taking another deep breath (she was not going to vomit), she stepped out into the hallway and pressed a couple of buttons on her comm.
“How are things in town, baby?” Ash’s voice came clearly over the speaker.
“Pretty damn funky, sweetheart,” she replied, shaking her head. She really needed to talk to somebody about changing all those code phrases. Charlie and Ash were probably drunk when they came up with them.
“Dr. Badass here, what’s your ID and status?” Ash said.
“ID: Artemis,” Jo said, “Status: Green. I’m at base, on my way to you.” She heard Ash whistle on the other end.
“Holy shit, Jo, I thought that was your voice!” he said, “How the hell did you get out of there? We thought the God Squad had you for sure, man.” Jo heard Charlie’s voice in the background say, “Oh my god, is that Jo? Is she ok?”
Jo chuckled.
“I’m fine, guys,” she said, “I’ll tell you the whole story in a minute. Over and out, Dr. B.”
“Roger, Artemis.”
Jo rounded the corner and climbed the ladder out of the living area. This time of day, and after a mission like the one they’d just put together, everyone would be in the Control Room or in the dining area trying to shove down some protein before getting back to work. She jogged down another hallway and used both hands to slide open the CR’s heavy metal door, wondering how she was going to explain all of this to her people. After all, she’d lost the medicine she’d been carrying. They had trusted her, and she’d failed when they needed her.
As the door slid open, the assembled group of fifteen or so congregated in the room burst into applause. Ignoring the sudden heat in her face, Jo looked around at them. Gordon, Pamela, and Jess were all absent; they hadn’t made it back from Eden City. Tamara clapped by pounding her left hand on her thigh because her right was in a sling, and Bobby looked much older than he had when Jo had seen him last. Still, they all smiled at her as she walked across the room to where Charlie and Ash sat at the computer panel.
“Our fearless leader returns!” Ash said, spinning his chair to face her. Charlie threw a balled-up piece of paper at Jo’s head.
“We thought you were dead, doofus!” she said.
“That’s the best insult you could come up with? Doofus?” Jo laughed.
“Shut up, it was spur of the moment. And, don’t take this the wrong way or anything,” Charlie continued, “but…why aren’t you dead? I mean, your ship got separated and then we didn’t hear anything, and then you just show up…”
“Yeah, it must be one hell of a story, Jo,” someone called from the other side of the room. There was a general murmur of assent and Jo was suddenly faced with fifteen faces looking at her expectantly. She rubbed her thumb against the smooth surface of the transporter bracelet in her pocket. For some reason, she felt reluctant to take it out and show it the group, as if it were something private.
“I got in a tussle with one of God’s girl scouts before I could get to my ship,” Jo told them, “And she took my gun, but I managed to take this off of her.” She made herself pull the device out of her pocket and hold it up. It wasn’t the whole truth, but it was close enough. They’d never believe that an Angel had helped her, anyway.
“Whoa,” said Ash, “Is that what I think it is?”
“I’ve never seen one up close before!” Charlie added, “Can I have a go on it?”
“Trust me,” Jo told her, “You don’t want to. What I need you to do is take a look at it, disable any tracking device it might have, and get on figuring out how it works, ok?” Charlie nodded and took the object from Jo, who turned back to the small crowd.
“I couldn’t save the medicine,” she told them, and watched their tired faces collectively fall. Looking around at these people, some of whom had been in this fight since before she was out of pigtails, Jo suddenly felt very young.
“Not everything’s lost,” Jo said, squaring her shoulders and hoping she looked a little confident than she was, “We still have the haul from Ruby and Tamara’s boat. If another purge comes, we won’t be totally unprepared. Plus, we’ve gained important knowledge about the Angels’ technology – and that’s not nothing.” Some people nodded, others just turned slowly back to their work. The room was quiet except for the hum of the machines and the shuffling of feet.
“Hey!” Jo shouted, and at least one person jumped, “Don’t you dare give up. Not a single person here is giving up, do you hear me? We’re gonna take these fuckers down if it kills us. We’ve been beaten down – I get that – and you’re tired and freaked out, but we’re still standing. We all made a choice to fight and we’re gonna stick to it. Is that understood?” Her hands balled up into fists in her pockets. Here’s where you make a choice, Angel.
Bobby and Rufus stood up at the same time and saluted. Tamara followed, then Ruby, and one by one every member of the company got to their feet, and Jo acknowledged each of them with a nod, her jaw set and her head pounding.
“Good,” she said, “I’m gonna go see about getting a new weapon.” She felt a pain in her chest when she thought of her gun, her ship that she would never see again. There were people she’d never see again, too, but it wasn’t time to think about that. Jo turned to leave the room, and felt a hand on her shoulder. It was Charlie. Charlie has red hair, too, Jo thought out of the blue.
“Jo,” Charlie said softly, “I know we’re not, you know, together, or anything anymore, but you’re my friend, and I just wanted to say…I mean, if you need anyone…I’m here for you, ok?” Jo gave the other girl a tight smile.
“Thanks, Char,” she said, “but I don’t need anyone.”

May 16, Galactic Year 9867

For the past week, Jo had been dreaming about being a child on the farms on Bethany, watching her father die of an illness so swift and precise that it couldn’t be natural. She dreamed her mother yelling that the same thing would happen to her if she continued to stick her nose where it didn’t belong. She dreamed of blood and bile and an angel – a real one – with gold wings the size of houses. She dreamed of guns and paper dolls and the music her mother would play in the house where she grew up. Tonight, she dreamed of a woman with red hair, sitting up in a darkened room and asking the night a question.
When Jo awoke, the clock next to her bed blinked 5:58 am. She swung her feet over the side of the bed and stared at the vague shape of the doorway on the other side of the small room. The overhead lights would automatically kick in in a few minutes to make up for the lack of natural light in the underground base. For now, Jo sat in the darkness, listening to her own quiet breathing. She touched the place on her wrist where the previous day the transporter bracelet had been. Everything about these last few days should have felt like a defeat, a loss, an ending. As the system booted up and the overhead fluorescents flooded the room with light, Jo thought that, for some reason, it felt more like a beginning. She swung her jacket around her shoulders and gave a mock salute to her reflection in the mirror.
“See ya later, Angel,” she murmured, and opened the door.

Date: 2013-10-20 11:59 pm (UTC)
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From: [personal profile] assdictionary
Guuuuuh, this is so gorgeous - absolutely brilliant work!

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SRS 2013 Main Round 1

October 2013

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