The Embrace of Charon
The Invaders fanfiction

Disclaimer: The Invaders, its universe and characters belong to their legal owners, who unfortunately aren't me. This is an unofficial fanfiction that is not officially endorsed in any way. It was written solely for enjoyment and I make no money with it.

The Embrace of Charon
Completed (9th March 2021)
Science-fiction, tragedy
Rating / warnings
Mass murder, drowning described from the point of view of the dying character.
Spoilers for Valley of the Shadow.
David Vincent, Sheriff Gordon Clements, other characters from the episode

The aliens will stop at nothing to prevent the truth about their existence from spreading. Even –as David Vincent finds out– if it means murdering the entire town of Carterville after the inhabitants witness the death and incineration of one of them. A thousand souls, about to be swept away when the aliens finish breaking the dam. A thousand souls, David Vincent among them.

March episode of David Vincent's monthly death, alternative ending for Valley of the Shadow.

Written for the Killing a character once a month of 2021 AO3 challenge, with the following prompt:

3. "Drowning" - Drowning is said to be a peaceful way to go, when you already have water in your lungs. How would your character react and deal with it?

This story is also available on AO3.

Maria McKinley's warning notwithstanding, David Vincent will be damned if he allows the aliens to flood Carterville and drown its inhabitants. The more he thinks about it, the less he accepts to submit to imminent death passively. He rushes to seek Gordon Clements, who knows both the truth and his fellow townspeople. If anyone can stir an uprising in time to prevent the mass murder, it's him.

As he runs through the streets in search of the sheriff, David ponders their options. Maybe they can capture the head alien before he gives the final order, gain time for the population to escape. Maybe there are still overlooked routes through the forest. Maybe if enough people cross the river using makeshift craft, the aliens won't be able to stop them. Maybe they can even fight their way through the blockades. Anything would be better than passively waiting to be slaughtered.

He finds Gordon in discussion with his deputy and a group of townspeople. "Sheriff!" he calls out, panting. Gordon turns interrogative eyes towards him, and David goes on without waiting for the obvious question: "McEvoy and his men, they aren't soldiers, they're aliens. They're going to anaesthetise us with gas before they flood the town!"

Gasps of shock and fear erupt in the small group. Disbelief, too. After everything, they still refuse to let go of this little shred of hope. But there's only one David needs to convince, and the sheriff already knows about the aliens' intentions –and their willingness to impersonate military officers.

"He's not negotiating with the fake Captain Taft," he insists, his gaze boring into Gordon, "they're organising our death together. Look, we have a few minutes at best. We have to try something now."

Gordon hesitates. "What do you suggest? They're in my office, right? We could storm it, force them to reopen the roads?"

David shakes his head grimly. "They'd die with us rather than let us live. But maybe we can delay them long enough to give the rest of the town a chance."

The sheriff nods, thinking for a second, before turning to his deputy: "Jim, gather men, round up as many people as you can and evacuate them. I don't care how you go past the aliens, just find a way."

As Jim accepts the responsibility dutifully and leaves at once, whispers swell among the others and turn into a cacophony of panicked voices. David's attention is caught elsewhere, though: further away, a couple of fake soldiers observe them. One of the aliens runs into the city hall, likely to warn Major McEvoy and Captain Taft of the mounting agitation, and the other takes position at the bottom of the stairs. Although he gives the still unsuspecting humans passing him friendly smiles, he puts down the 'decontaminants' box at his feet and readjusts the gun on his shoulder for quicker use.

"Sheriff," David whispers urgently, tapping Gordon's arm to catch his attention and nodding his head towards the scene. "They're suspecting something. We can't wait."

Gordon takes a breath and straightens up. Determination on his face, he marches in the direction of the alien guarding the hall; soon enough, the rest of the group follows. As they feel comfort in their numerical superiority, anger chases off fear.

But the alien was ready. He whips out his gun and fires, first in the air, then at the ground in front of the mob. Gordon and David take cover behind cars while most of the others take to their heels. The shots shattered Carterville's hopeful quiet, and panic washes over the town. People run randomly in terror, some seeking perceived safety with the 'soldiers', others understanding the deception and either trying to run away or bracing for a fight…

While more gunshots resound in the distance, the second alien comes back, opens the box of 'decontaminants' and reveals the cylinder of gas inside. Purple mist gushes forth out of the nozzle, but the alien can't orient it properly without an extra pair of hands. Maybe there's still a chance! In a desperate last bid, David runs at him–

–cold water snaps David out of his trance. For a brief moment, all he sees is the blurred chaos of underwater… He struggles to get a hold of himself. The light. He needs to swim to the light. It will be way to the surface.

The moment he emerges, he takes a huge, desperate breath and coughs out some water. Debris float all around him, pieces of Carterville's history carried away by the flood. Bodies, too. Men, women and children, bobbing grotesquely in and out of his view. David channels his anger and hatred to fight the currents wanting to submerge him.

A cry for help catches his attention. Blood running down the side of her head, one of the inhabitants is using a plank to stay afloat. Without hesitation, David swims towards the woman, but before he can reach her, the flow snatches her away. "No!" he shouts. He needs to save someone, even just one life. He can't let the aliens win.

Distracted by his futile rage, he doesn't notice the waterfall; he just has time to brace himself before tumbling down. Once more, he finds the way up. Just as he breaks the surface of the water again and opens his mouth to suck in air in ragged gasps, a whirlpool takes him by surprise and drags him back underwater. And when he emerges again, he finds his lungs refuse to obey him.

Yet he feels no burning in his chest, no reflex to cough out the liquid blocking his airways, not even an impeded urge to breathe. If it weren't for the intellectual awareness of his predicament, the treacherous lack of a distinctive sensation might have left him unaware something is wrong. But he needs to act fast: he has a couple of minutes at best.

Thankfully, a few people have reached the shore just downstream; David waves frantically and cries without sound to attract their attention. One of them sees him, and alerts the others! Several of them enter the water to come help him! Clenching his jaw with dogged defiance, David uses what precious oxygen his lungs hold to swim towards them.

Without warning, the red glow of alien disintegrators engulf the tentative rescuers. Horror presses its cold fingers around David. No, no!… All he can do is witnesses, helpless, their bodies burning up, until there's nothing left to tell they were even there.

On a hill, the Captain Taft impostor and Major McEvoy watch David without bothering to vaporise him. They've seen his mute call for help. They know. For the first and last time in his life, he gives up. He lets the current carry him away.

In the little time he has left, he wonders what will happen now –not to himself, his fate is sealed, but to the Earth. Without him to fight them at every turn, will the aliens win? Is humanity lost? No, he can't believe that. Others will discover the truth.

The fate of Carterville itself may be the spark they need to finally open their eyes. The earthquake was too sudden, the loss of contact with the town too overreaching. His very presence at the time of the catastrophe will be a red flag. And there is the real Captain Taft: alive, he'd remember David called him to investigate an alien presence; dead, he'd be evidence of the conspiracy.

And among so many deaths, maybe the aliens will overlook a few survivors. Maybe the deputy sheriff managed to avoid the hypnotic mist and lead a few people to safety. David may die, but humanity will live on. He clings to that thought like a lifebelt.

His thoughts drift towards his brother, his sister-in-law and their newborn son. David wishes he'd seen them again now they know the truth, but it would've been too dangerous. At least they're safe. Bob, Grace, take care. Goodbye, Nicolas. I won't be there to see you grow up. I'll miss having had a chance to play with you.

Of course, David won't miss any more than he'll play with Nicolas. He has never really believed in the divine or the afterlife. Still, now he wonders… All these people he's seen fall in the past two years, are they waiting for him on the other side? Will they greet him as a peer? He shudders –will they condemn him for as many failures?

He doesn't feel the flow of water carrying him away anymore, and he's thankful his eyes have stopped showing him the debris and the bodies around him. He is drifting. It feels good, like floating in a dark weightlessness. The nightmare ends. No more war, no more fear, no more rejection. Someone else will have to pick up the fight. He welcomes the peace. He can rest at last.

Alan, is that you? I'm here…



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Last update: 9th March 2021.