By Dana Quell

	It was time, and they all knew it.

	The woman with the key looked down through the dark at her hands, the ones that 
had caressed the cool metal for half an hour now until it was no longer cold and 
unwelcome but warm, passionate.  She cried inside for what she was about to do to a world 
full of passion, cried for herself, for her companions.

	The man next to her engulfed her right hand in two of his, huge callused things 
with a soft touch of gentility.  "We're right, you know," he whispered to her, his moving 
lips barely grazing her ear and his breath a warm wind upon her skin.  It sent her mind 
into spirals.  "We're right, they're wrong, and we're just damned because we don't have 
the evidence."

	A lit cigarette a few respectful metres away fell from hand to earth, and a black 
boot ground it out.  Their companion spoke up.  "He's right.  You know that.  We're just 
doing what we've been meant to do."

	She looked up at the darkened sky, devoid of any stars above save the few 
scattered places where they managed to burn holes through the clouds.  "Yeah, I 
suppose."  She looked down at them again and smiled shakily.  Stroking the key one last 
time, she placed it in the lock and turned it, swiftly, allowing them access to their 
	They moved quickly down the emptied corridors, to the stairwell where they jogged 
down, down, down forever until they thought they might as well fall the rest of the way.  
And then they came to the last door.  The last blockade -- physically the last anyway, 
because in their minds they had already come this far and they weren't prepared to go 

	She hesitated only once before opening this last structure, before giving her 
life up, and they stepped through into more dark, with only their MagLites to chase away 
the crawlie things that lived beyond the known, beyond the light.  The thin beams of 
photons weren't enough, and so they fumbled for five minutes within the darkness until 
they found a light switch.

	And when the room was flooded with light, there was only a clean, sterile room of 
stainless steel and machinery to be seen; no creepies to worry about in plain sight.  She 
crossed the chamber, quickly so as not to lose any nerve she might have mustered on the 
long trip here, and stopped by a console.  There, she placed the key down on a smooth, 
metallic surface and faced her friends.
	He hovered by the door while their companion took the time to look around.  Even 
from across the room, their eyes locked and their expressions shifted to mimic the 
other's until they were the same, two but one all the same.  He glided across the floor 
to where she stood and took her shoulder in his hand.

	"This is it," their companion's voice broke through, a voice shot through with a 
pinch of excitement and a dash of terror.  "This is it."

	They hurried over to the found console and examined it.  Indeed, it was what they 
wanted -- needed.  She hesitated, in front of her goal at last.  His hand was still on 
her shoulder, and the moment seemed so right, but still she couldn't put past her fears, 
her doubts.

	And suddenly their companion turned towards the door, face aghast with fear and 
body paralyzed by paranoia as a sense was amplified.  "They're coming."  A whisper, borne 
through the air as neatly as sandpaper on a chalkboard.  "I hear them on the stairs."

	The door burst, spilling forth a legion of military men and women, high tech 
rifles of the most vogue armed force fashion slung over shoulders clad in special ops 
uniforms and pointed in their direction.  The man next to her moved quickly, told her 
with only a glance behind that they needed to carry their mission through to the end, and 
reached for the gun that was hidden beneath his dark coat.  Before she could blink, he 
was bleeding on the floor right before her and the report was echoing around the room.
	She fell to her knees beside him, but from the amount of blood on the tiled floor 
she could tell he was not going to live much longer.  It was from the look on his face 
that she could tell he had been struck with a cop killer bullet -- that his organs had 
been shredded and ripped within his body as it bounced around and finally stopped 
somewhere in soft tissue after losing momentum.

	Turning, she saw that the same fate had befallen their comrade, now lying in a 
similiar lagoon of blood, and quickly believed the mission was lost, that perhaps they 
were never meant to succeed in the first place.  She was frozen in the midst of all the 
gore, military rifles pointed at her and her mind debating fate.  She stared at his body 
with green flecked eyes for a moment more before deciding her own inevitability.

	If her companions were to die for the mission, she was determined to see it 
through or join them.

	She dove for the key on the counter's surface, her hand closing upon it just as 
she became aware of the sensation of her organs ripping themselves apart.  She glanced 
down at herself as she fell, and despite her black attire she could see her blood pour 
out of her, darkening the material she wore. No way, now, to pull herself off the 
immaculate floor and over to the console where she could turn the key and live out fate's 
will.  Perhaps she was never meant to.

	In front of her eyes now, stars gathered.  A few at first joined the celebration 
to dance for her destiny, for her end as the scene in the sterile room dimmed out and 
more and more assembled.  They moved and vibrated in time to the limited number of her 
heartbeats, and when they began to slow, her breathing fell shorter and more shallow.  
She laboured to inhale one last breath, and when she let it out the clouds began to 
condense and block the stars.

	She was gone.