Daniela sat at her desk staring at her computer and tapping her pen against the desk. Her mind was preoccupied. She was going over the events again and again from the mystery room. She got up and went to the secret door, once again checking to see if she could open it, once again not being able to. It had obviously been designed to only open when she was a Walker. She examined the wall, searching for signs of the door but coming up empty. She pressed her ear against where the door had appeared but heard nothing.
All of these checks she had done about ten times prior to this one. Each time she received the same results. She looked briefly at the vacant pod. All she needed to do was hook herself up again and she'd be back in that room. She'd need to go in there eventually given that she had left Danel and the hand held in there. She walked over to the pod and made a move to step inside. Once again, she bottled out and dashed back to her chair. Picking up her pen and beginning her rhythmic tapping once more. Inside she was battling with herself, her scientific side was desperate to get in there and get answers to so many questions that were now plaguing her every thought. Her emotional side however was having none of it. She was crippled with the fear of what the answers would bring. She considered making a run for it. Leaving the lab and... Go where? She was stuck in this building. Unless she wanted to die she had no escape. She felt panic rise inside of her. She had no other choice. She either sits here or finds out exactly what was going on.
She could think of two ways of doing this. Either finding Kelly and asking her or going back in that room. Kelly seemed like the more sensible option, however she wasn't sure she would get the entire truth from her. She hadn't mentioned anything about that room to her yet and it was clear that whatever it was that was due to happen in there, she was meant to be involved. The man had known her, had recognised her even as a Walker. He had been expecting her, he had been waiting for her to... to... she couldn't bare to even think the word. She found her panic dissipate and turn into resolve. She wouldn't be able to think about anything else until she knew what was going on. She grabbed her back up hand held, strided over to the pod, hooked herself up and set up the auto pilot. Before she could change her mind, she activated the pod and watched her lab disappear around her.
When she got her sight back again she was back in the prisoned room. The man was now sitting on the bed, her hand held device in his hand. He didn't seem to be surprised at seeing her again. Instead, he simply nodded at her.
"You okay?" He asked.
Daniela nodded once and worked extra hard at keeping her face straight and her mind focused on the matter at hand. She was beginning to feel the calming effects of Danel and she welcomed it to help clear her mind.
"What's your name?" She asked.
"It might not be a good idea to know that." The man said. "It's best if you keep this clinical, names form attachments and that's the last thing you need."
"I think I can handle it." Daniela argued.
"How long has it been since impact?" The man asked, changing the subject.
"One day." Daniela answered.
He let out a low whistle. "Wow, you don't waste time do you? I'm glad, I had hoped that you would be able to see the reason behind this. Am I the first one you woke up?"
He glanced around the rest of the prisons, all holding sleeping people.
"Yes." She said. "You were the closest."
He nodded in understanding.
"Where did you go just then?" He asked.
"I had to... I had something I needed to check back in the lab."
"Fair enough. For a moment you had me worried. I was beginning to think you'd found me accidentally."
Daniela let out a forced laugh. "That would have been pretty careless of Kelly if that had happened, right?"
"Tell me about it. Is it a mess out there?"
"Yeah. Lots of fire and death, it's pretty grim."
"And all the survivors? Was the collection successful?"
"As far as I know." Daniela said.
The man eyed her suspiciously.
"You seem pretty calm about all of this."
"It's easier being a Walker. It takes a lot of will power to access emotions, I'm not exactly desperate to hold on to them right now."
"Makes sense." He said and looked around him. "So, when do you want to start?"
Daniela thought about that for a moment. She didn't know how best to respond. Somewhere deep in the recesses of her mind she knew that she felt some form of panic at his words. She chose to discard this. She needed to keep him talking.
"How did you want to do it?" She asked. "I mean, it's your life, you at least deserve a say in how it's going to end."
The man looked startled at her words.
"Why should it matter? You need to stop looking at this emotionally."
"I've told you, that's not a problem at the moment."
"I can't see any scientific need for me making the decision."
"I don't think I should be doing this without the others." Daniela said, desperate to stall what he obviously saw as the inevitable.
"So why wake me up at all?" He said, clearly irritated.
"Forgive me if I wanted to gather your take on this, I am human after all."
The man thought about this for a moment and then shrugged.
"I volunteered. I wasn't eligible for survival so this seemed like the next logical option."
"Why weren't you eligible?" Daniela asked.
"Too old," he said matter-of-factly. "No point in saving the elderly when repopulation was the next important thing."
Daniela let out a small laugh. "I hardly think you'd qualify as elderly."
"No one older than 35. That was one of the first rules right from the beginning."
"Surely older people would provide more expertise and life experience in situations such as these." Daniela countered.
"Your IQ is higher than all of the people in this room and what person has life experience to help with the end of the world? Last I checked Noah was dead."
"Look. The decision was made and I couldn't argue with the logic. Not when I looked at the big picture. We all had to focus on not just surviving the initial impact but the centuries afterwards as well. I had two choices, either a meaningless death out there like everyone else or die in here and have my death actually contribute to the future survival of everyone else. I chose the latter and I'm glad to do it."
Daniela took a moment to process all the information thrown at her. So, he had been selected as some form of - what? - experiment? How were they going to do that? Inject them with the toxins? How were they going to even get any of the toxins without endangering everyone in the building? She looked around the room for an answer and found it on the wall behind the man. A small vent, high out of reach. It was closed right now, but Daniela would put money on the fact that it could be opened.
"The vent." She said. "Does it lead to outside?"
"The only way we could figure out how to securely test the air. All locked within air tight containers in a room that only allows Walkers inside."
The sound of a door opening interrupted their conversation. Daniela looked over to see three new Walkers enter the room. She wasn't able to recognise them until they were standing outside the glass box. It was Kelly, Gary and a very bewildered looking Duncan.
"What the hell is this?" Duncan asked.
No one answered him, Kelly just stared at Daniela. Daniela searched the small link the Danel held with each other and saw that she seemed wary and even afraid of what Daniela would say. She turned to Duncan, his bewilderment emanated from him clearly showing that he was as ignorant of this place as she was.
"Reign it in Duncan," Kelly said, still keeping her eyes on Daniela. "Do a scout of the room, I need to know if anyone has escaped."
Duncan seemed even more confused at Kelly's orders but quickly let it go, taking on the Danel's passive state. She had to give him credit, he knew how to operate the Danel well. He nodded his acknowledgement of his new order and started examining the other prisons.
"No one's escaped." Daniela said. "Believe it or not, I've only managed to stomach my way through interviewing one if your test subjects."
"Ah." Gary said. "It would appear we've reached a bit of a misunderstanding. I promise you Daniela, this is all a lot more humane than you may think."
"Getting the people to agree to be killed is not what I call humane," Daniela spat. "It sounds a lot more like assisted suicide."
"Oh, so you've covered that bit," Gary said. "Right. Well okay then."
"You need to look at the big picture." Kelly said.
"Covered that bit as well." Daniela said.
"Wait, what's going on?" The man behind Daniela said.
Kelly threw an apologetic glance at the man. "I'm really sorry Lucas. She shouldn't have woken you up. We're not ready."
"You let her in here without explaining anything?" Lucas shouted.
"I thought she was sleeping in her room. I would never have let her be alone in her lab if I had known, not without telling her first." She threw an accusing stare at Gary.
Gary held his hands up.
"Hey, no one told me I had to babysit the kid."
Duncan returned to Kelly's side.
"The areas secure ma'am."
Kelly nodded and turned back to Daniela, her expression softer than before.
"Daniela, I'm sorry you had to find out this way. I certainly didn't want to burden you with this just yet. If you don't want anything to do with this, then that's fine. It would be helpful to include you but we can handle it on our own."
Daniela thought about that, that didn't make sense. "No you can't. The mere act of using my Walkers means that I'm involved. You can only use Danel to be able to conduct your experiments. Therefore I am automatically included in this."
Daniela felt another stab of confusion from Duncan but he quickly let it go again, his face remained impassive.
"Okay, well this all seems like something that can be discussed in the other room," Gary suggested. "Being surrounded by all of this can't be helping the emotions."
Once again, this didn't make sense. She felt a small level of irritation but pushed it down, she wasn't going to give anyone else the satisfaction of knowing her feelings.
"Staying in my Walker is precisely what is keeping me able to have this conversation. If you wanted to have this conversation in my normal state, I assure you, someone will end up with a black eye."
"What do you want?" Kelly asked.
"I want you to wake every one of these people up and let them into the main building. Give them a chance of survival. I don't want to play God with these people's lives."
"Never going to happen." Lucas said. "We have said our goodbyes, we have each spent four years preparing for this. It is our way of helping and I'll be damned if you take that away from us."
"You'd prefer this to living out the rest of your life in peace?"
Lucas shot Kelly a confused look. "Have you told her anything?"
"It's not even been a day Lucas, we thought it would be a good idea to let people get used to the idea of the Apocolypse before we started in on their future."
Lucas shrugged in acceptance of this and laid himself back on the bed.
"Then I'm not getting involved. Ms Davids, if your going to insist on not killing me yet, can you at least put me back under?"
Daniela shook her head. "The only thing I'm going to do is let you out of here."
"Then it appears we have reached an empass." Lucas said. He turned to Kelly. "Will you do the honours?"
"Gary." Kelly ordered and Gary entered the air lock.
"No." Daniela said, throwing her body protectively over Lucas. Lucas tried to move her but with little effect, she was in Danel form after all.
Gary made his way into the prison and appraised the situation silently.
"Hmmm," he said. "I'm not going to force you off him Daniela, but I'm not sure what you hope to gain from this. You can't stay hovering over him forever."
"How can you think this is okay?" Daniela asked. "You're a doctor for crying out loud."
"I know it seems harsh, but we do need to know for the sake of survival."
"Why? We're all going to live out the rest of our lives away from it anyway."
"Well this is just getting ridiculous." Lucas said from under Daniela. "Kelly, the trigger button?"
Kelly faltered for a moment before she answered. "On her hand held."
"I thought that was what that button was for." He said and before Daniela could stop him, Lucas pressed his finger against the pad still in his hand and Daniela heard the whirring of the air vents opening.
"Now you have only one choice." He said. "Give me a meaningless death or find out how the hell these new toxins work."