Chapter 1: Hours 0 - 99
Simmons felt herself getting pulled back, and inky black liquid pooled around her vision. She struggled, trying to get a grip on something - anything - that could anchor her to the real world, but there was nothing within reach. All she could do was let out a sharp cry of shock and terror as the Monolith pulled her back.
There was a moment where she felt nothing. Then, her sensations came back and she felt herself being flung into the air, before crashing down, the wind knocked out of her. For a few moments she lay on the ground, dazed, before her senses came back to her and she began to panic.
She didn’t know where she was. She could understand what had happened - it was now blatantly obvious that the Monolith was an Alternating Matter Transportation Device - but she had no idea where she was , and--
The portal, the ground that she’d fallen through, was starting to solidify.
“No, no-” She cried out, leaping onto the patch of disturbed ground and clawing at it, trying in vain to reach the portal. “Fitz!”
There was no response. The whistling wind was the only sound in the clearing that she had been deposited into.
Simmons sat backwards, defeated. Without a doubt, the portal was gone.
She shut her eyes, focusing on her breathing. She tried to bring to mind the mindfulness exercises that May had taught her, but it was a struggle - focusing on the here and now wasn’t so easy when the here and now was some desolate desert.
It soon became obvious that calming herself wasn’t realistic, and she let herself let go. There was no one close enough to be affected by her powers, anyway, and fear could be quite an effective motivator.
She pulled herself up to her feet, and took shaky steps forwards, making a bee-line for one of the dunes. Climbing up it was tricky, in part due to the unsteady ground, but also in part due to her sudden fatigue. When she reached the top, she felt sick and almost wished she had stayed at the bottom.
As far as she could see, wasteland stretched out. There was no sign of any towns or villages, no sign of life. That alone would have been disheartening, but it was made worse by what she saw in the sky.
The constellations were like none she had ever seen before but, more obviously than that, in the sky were huge celestial bodies that didn’t exist anywhere near Earth.
“I…” Simmons spoke, her voice barely above a whisper. “...I’m on an alien planet.”
Staying put was, ultimately, the only choice that Simmons had. While she had some degree of curiosity about where she had ended up - because, surely, not many humans could claim to have stepped foot on an alien planet - her fear of never being able to return home outweighed any impulse to explore.
The Monolith turned to liquid semi-frequently. If it opened the portal every time that it turned to liquid, then she had to stay here. She couldn’t go off exploring and lose a chance to get home. She didn’t want to be here any longer than was absolutely necessary. Fitz must be so worried, after all.
Of course, the small, anxious voice in her head reminded her, there was no saying that the portal would re-open in the same place. She had no idea what was controlling the portal. No way of knowing where it would open. Perhaps staying here was a fool’s errand.
So, with a huff, she began to chastise that anxious voice. “I’m following proper protocol for agents lost in the field. Remain in position. Wait for extraction.”
The little voice in her head remained unsatisfied, pointing out that there was no extraction coming. That no one knew where she was. That no one could find her, even if they tried.
Simmons was sure that little voice would drive her mad if she stayed still listening to it, so she began to move about the small clearing.
She ran experiments, testing the gravity - slightly heavier than on Earth, which would explain her prior difficulty climbing the dune - and keeping note of her observations on her phone. These memos would be priceless when she returned to Earth.
She refused to listen to the little voice that corrected her with an ‘ if ’.
Boredom was setting in, along with other, more worrisome things.
Hunger pains in her stomach were becoming difficult to ignore, and her lips were already becoming dry. Hunger and thirst wouldn’t become huge problems for a while yet, but the side effects were still problematic at this point.
She tried to entertain herself, stacking and tossing rocks, but there was only so long that could occupy her mind.
She took out her phone again, thankful not for the first time about the increased battery life that Fitz had installed, and swiped through her images of the team - her family, really. She wondered what they were doing right now. She wondered what they were doing to try and find her. She hoped that they weren’t too worried.
Aside from the hunger, thirst, boredom and anxiety, there was something else plaguing her that she had tried so hard to ignore. Exhaustion.
With a sigh, she looked down at a picture of Fitz. “What is it you always say? If you can’t solve a problem, sleep on it.”
She took her jacket off, scrunching it up so it functioned as a pathetic excuse for a pillow. Well, it was better than nothing, she supposed.
She brought her phone close to her face, before turning it off. “Goodnight, Fitz.”
Simmons opened her eyes, and found herself back in the base. She was so relieved, she felt that she could cry, but there was something strange that stopped her in her tracks. Something felt different. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but it felt wrong on some deep, profound level.
She walked through the corridors. The base was silent, and the lights were dimmer than usual, with the blue hue that she had began to grow used to on the alien planet consuming everything. That feeling of wrongness grew the further she walked, and the little voice in her head told her that she should stop now before it was too late.
But she was stubborn, and that voice had never been right before, so she kept walking until she reached the vault that had been containing the Monolith.
She stepped inside, and the lighting returned to normal. Inside, May and Dr Garner were stood, both facing her, but now that she was in front of them, all Simmons could feel was a sense of horror as she realised what that wrongness was.
She couldn’t feel anything from them. She wasn’t blocking their emotions - it was as if the connection had been severed entirely. Not too long ago, she would have done anything for this, but now the sensation made her feel sick.
“Jemma.” May spoke. “You need to do better than this. You need to remember your training.”
“What? I don’t understand. What’s happening?”
May didn’t respond. She just kept looking at her with an empty expression.
Instead, Dr Garner stepped forwards. “Trust in your instincts. Don’t trust anyone.”
“Can you please explain what’s going on! Where is everyone else? Why can’t I- What’s happening to me?”
Andrew looked around in alarm, and Simmons felt a strange choking sensation around her neck.
“You need to run now, Jemma.” Andrew spoke urgently.
“ Run !”
Simmons eyes snapped open and she jumped to her feet before she was aware of where she was, or what was happening. Second ticked by slowly, and her awareness of reality began to come back - and, at the same time, her awareness of her dream began to fade.
That’s fine , the little voice in her head insisted, It probably wasn’t important, anyway .
The hunger pains had, more or less, subsided. For now, at least. What was more concerning was the thirst.
A human can survive about a month, on average, without food. But only a week without water. It had already been 71 hours since Simmons had arrived on Maveth - that gave her 97 hours to find water.
While she wanted to believe in her team, that they’d come through and rescue her before those 97 hours were over, at this point she was forced to face the possibility that they might not. She was sure that they’d come for her eventually, but she had to ensure that they wouldn’t just find a corpse.
So she carefully arranged a series of rocks into an arrow, pointing in the direction that she had headed in. She left her necklace at the arrow’s head, to make sure there was no doubt that she had been the one to leave the message. This way, if the team did manage to make it here before the 97 hours were over, they would know how to find her.
With anxiety still buzzing in her chest, she took her first steps away from the portal.
“I really should have seen something like this coming.” Simmons spoke to herself as she walked across the sand. “This really is just my luck, isn’t it?”
She sighed and resisted the urge to pause to glance at her phone. She didn’t really have the time to waste on something like that - but talking was fine. It kept her from going mad, she thought.
“But getting dragged to an alien planet in another solar system… I think that’s a bit excessive, even for me. I hope that we’ll be able to laugh about all of this, in a few years. It would be nice if this could all just become the punchline to a joke.”
She looked over her shoulder to measure how far she had walked, but it was impossible to tell. The desert stretched on for as long as her eyes could see, and there wasn’t much in the way of landmarks.
“...It’s fine. I’m sure everything will work out. They always have in the past, haven’t they?”
It was beginning to grow difficult to think straight. Simmons body felt like jelly, and she wasn’t always able to make sure she was taking careful steps. Controlling her body, it seemed, was beyond her.
She could feel her powers getting out of control. She could feel her mind reaching out, projecting her confusion and disorientation far and wide. But there was no one there to be affected by it. That, at least, Simmons was grateful for. This was hell. She didn’t want to put anyone else through it.
She was trying to make her way down a dune, when her leg gave out underneath her. She slipped forwards, reaching out desperately to try and steady herself against the rock formation to her side. She managed to keep herself from falling, but her leg grazed against the rock harshly.
She looked down at the injury. It wasn’t severe. It would heal by itself if left alone. The small drops of blood leaking through were just more annoying than anything.
Simmons body was aching. Her hunger pains had returned, and she felt sick from the dehydration. She wanted to sleep, but knew that she didn’t have the time to waste, so she pushed herself onwards.
Just get over the next sand dune , the little voice in her head coaxed her onwards, and everything will be better .
Maybe there would be water on the other side. At the very least, getting up high was a good move - she’d have a wide vantage point. She’d be able to work out where to try next.
However, despite her optimism, she wasn’t a fool. She knew that the more time that passed, the more serious her condition became. Finding water was a matter of life-or-death. Either she found it soon, or…
No. She couldn’t think like that. The top of the dune, right? She told herself to focus on that, just one thing at a time. She continued to claw her way up the dune, but when she reached the top, she felt sick and almost wished she had stayed at the bottom.
She could see far and wide, and there was no source of water. But, worse than that, was what she saw in the distance. A sandstorm, heading rapidly in her direction.
Simmons skidded back down the dune, ignoring the sharp stones that cut at her legs as she went. She could worry about that later. She scanned the landscape, looking for a rock formation that could shelter her. She sprinted across to one, cowering behind it and bracing herself for the sandstorm to hit.
She could feel the sand whipping at her face, but, to her shock, she could feel something else, too.
A sensation she hadn’t felt for a long time. For 99 hours, to be exact. The sensation of another person - another living being.
But there was something wrong about it. It didn’t feel like a person, exactly. There was a disconnect between the physical sensations, like they came from a second-hand source, somehow - and then, there were the emotions.
Simmons had never felt anything malicious before.
Since she had arrived on this planet, Simmons had been afraid, but the fear that this new sensation inspired in her was something else. She thought that if she didn’t run, she would die.
But you can’t run , the little voice in her head reminded her, You’re exhausted. You can’t waste your energy. If you run, you will die.
Simmons opened her eyes, and squinted through the sandstorm. She could see a figure coming closer to her location. Her heart pounded in her chest, but she couldn’t will her legs to move. She didn’t have the energy left, she’d exhausted the last of it just running from the sandstorm.
In fact, she realised as the figure came close, its presence over-powering everything else, she didn’t even have the energy the energy left to stay standing.
Her legs gave out from under her, but before she blacked out, she felt hands on her, catching her before she hit the ground.
“I’ve got you, now.”
Chapter 2: Hours 101 - 264
ideally i want to post these chapters on sundays but... well... as you can see that did not happen this week!
anyway, this chapter starts with the brainwashing & there's some body horror descriptions so keep that in mind if you have to!
as always, comments/kudos are like a miraculous pool of water on a desert planet!
When Simmons woke, she felt strange.
She still felt weak. The hunger pains in her stomach and her dry lips were still there, reminding her of the seriousness of her situation. Her leg still stung from where she had grazed it, and she could feel a layer of sand and grime over her body. But, there was something else, still.
From where she was laying on the ground, she couldn’t quite tell where she was. The ground beneath her was strangely solid, as if she was inside a building, and while the room around her was dark, it didn’t have the same blue tint that she had grown used to over the past few days. She was still on that planet - this, she could tell by the weight of the gravity - but she was in a part of it that was entirely different to the dunes she had spent a hundred hours trekking through.
Somehow, not knowing where she was didn’t cause any anxiety. In fact, the fear that had settled in her ever since the portal had spat her out and closed back up behind her was mysteriously gone.
That was it, she realised. That was the strange feeling. She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t anxious. None of the guilt that had followed her since Fitz had attempted to sacrifice himself at the bottom of the ocean was present. It was as if a heavy weight had been lifted off of her shoulders, and for the first time that she could remember, she felt at peace.
No, it was more than that. She wasn’t just at peace. She was actually happy.
Her thoughts were cut through by the sound of footsteps. She looked up, her eyes quickly finding an opening - a doorway - just before a figure stood in it.
The figure was shrouded in shadows, and it didn’t come any closer. It just watched her from a distance.
Somehow, Simmons was sure that the figure meant her no harm. In fact, she rather felt that the figure was her salvation - though she couldn’t say what made her feel that way.
“You’re awake.” The figure said. Its voice was difficult to make out, yet, somehow, Simmons understood what it was saying perfectly.
“Yes. Where am I?”
“This planet has many names. It isn’t important.” The figure said, and suddenly Simmons felt that she had been foolish to have even asked. “I am more curious about you.”
“Oh?” Simmons felt oddly flattered.
“You are Inhuman. An empath, correct?”
“Yes, and more.”
“I feel what others feel, yes, but I can also make others feel what I feel - and these transferred sensations include the physical, not solely the emotional.”
“Interesting. What do you feel from me?”
Simmons focused on the figure, and frowned. “...It’s quite strange. I can feel your emotions, but physically… it’s like you’re not even there.”
“Would you like to know why?”
The figure stepped further into the room, finally, and as it approached Simmons she came to understand why she couldn’t feel its physical sensations.
As it stepped closer, Simmons saw that the figure was hardly even a person. It was nothing more than a walking corpse. Bones were visible as the flesh that had previously covered them had rotted over time. The sight was horrific and, by all accounts, should have left Simmons retching. But she felt no disgust.
The figure stopped in front of Simmons and knelt down so that it was at her level. It reached forwards, and it cupped her cheek with its decaying hand.
“How do you feel?” It asked her.
Simmons looked into its empty eye sockets and smiled. “I feel amazing.”
Outside was even more incredible than the inside, Simmons quickly discovered.
It turned out that she had been brought to an abandoned alien city. Though the city was in ruin, crumbling down around her, the sight was magnificent. She could barely believe what she was seeing, and she felt so privileged that she had been given the opportunity to witness this. With her previous fear gone, she could finally understand how lucky she was to be here.
With her phone in hand, Simmons walked around the city, taking pictures of everything. Finally, after realising that it would be impossible to take pictures of everything that fascinated her, she began recording.
“This is incredible!” She enthused, “Clearly, the sandstorms have eaten away at a significant portion of the infrastructure, but all you need to do is imagine what this must have looked like in its prime! This is an alien city ! How-”
“What is that?” The figure spoke up, and Simmons immediately stopped talking.
She looked over to her companion, with her camera still pointed at the city beyond. “A mobile telephone. They have many uses, including recording, which is what I am currently using it for.”
“May I see?” The figure held out a bony hand to her.
Simmons ended the recording, and handed her phone to it. It looked the device over curiously.
“Technology has taken great strides since I was exiled, it seems.” It concluded, handing the phone back to Simmons.
“You were exiled?”
“Yes.” It replied simply, brushing past Simmons and providing no further details.
Ever since Simmons had met the figure, she hadn’t been concerned about petty things such as hunger or thirst. They were irrelevant - they didn’t matter. Her fear had been extinguished, and so there was no need to think of those things. As long as she was with the figure, she didn’t need to have any worries - everything that happened would be his will, and that was all that mattered.
However, while the mind is an amazing thing, and to a certain extent it is possible to simply will oneself to stop thinking about basic human ( or inhuman, for that matter ) needs, eventually the body will begin to shut down.
For Simmons, this shutdown began after 120 hours - five days - without food or water.
She had been following the figure through the city, telling it everything that it wanted to know about the Earth - every technological and scientific advancement, details of SHIELD operations, recent political turmoil, and anything else that it asked - when her vision went black, and her legs refused to carry her weight.
She fell to the ground, hitting it with a heavy thud. When she came to, it was stood over her, looking down at her still body. For half a second, she felt something akin to dread in her stomach, but then the feeling passed and her mind was flooded with happiness and contentedness once more.
“You’re weak.” It said. “At this rate, you won’t last much longer.”
“Approximately 48 hours further.” Simmons reported, her voice hoarse, as it had been for hours. “Give or take some, to account for… individual… differences.”
“You require sustenance. Food, and water. Unfortunately, I have access to neither of those here. If you stay with me, you will succumb.”
“You would remain with me if I asked, wouldn’t you?”
“Good.” It paused, as if it was thinking. Then, it came to its decision. “There is a pool not far from here. You should be able to make it if you continue towards that peak.” It pointed ahead at a peak in the distance.
“I should… go?” Simmons asked, feeling a strange sense of rejection.
“Temporarily. I will retrieve you.”
Simmons took a breath and, shakily, pulled herself up to her feet. She could barely put one foot in front of the other, but she had been given her orders, and though she did not even know the figures name, she knew that she would carry them out or die trying.
When Simmons arrived at the pool, she was not of sane mind. Her body and her mind were both about to give in under her, and she was sure that she would fail to reach the water in time.
But she didn’t fail.
She collapsed at the side of the pool. She had no energy left to lift her arms, so she lapped at the murky water like an animal, and let it nourish her. Then, she let her body grow still as she rested.
Simmons stripped off her excess clothing, and floated on her back in the water.
Water was something that Simmons had a complicated relationship with but, right now, her fear of drowning was secondary. She was just so relieved to have water again. She felt that she would be content to remain floating here until the figure came to retrieve her. She didn’t think that there was a better feeling in the universe than the feeling of water lapping at her dry and parched skin.
Then, she felt something grab at her leg, and before she could try to fight back, her head was under water.
The pool was significantly deeper than she had originally intended, and her body was weak. She couldn’t breathe, and all that she could remember was the last time that she had been desperately trying to reach the surface.
But, no. This was different. This time, it had said that it would come for her. She couldn’t drown. She had to be there for it.
So she fought back. Using every ounce of strength that remained, she swam back to the shore. She pulled her leg out from the water, and grabbed a nearby rock, smashing it against the plant-tentacle that had grabbed her.
When she had hacked off the section of the plant that had grabbed her, and the rest of it had slithered back into the pool, she collapsed against the sand once again, breathing heavily.
Now, Simmons had a source of water. Her first hurdle had been cleared. However, while she would rely on it, she was also aware that she was currently functioning independently. She had to consider how she would survive until it returned - which meant that she had to consider what she would eat.
A human can go approximately three weeks without food. That’s 504 hours. That meant she had 370 hours remaining.
The plant that she had pulled off of her leg didn’t look appetising, but it was the closest thing to food that she had seen since arriving on this planet. There was no other fauna or flora that she was aware of. This was her only option.
So she held it to her face and, after bracing herself, took a bite.
The taste was so repulsive that she could barely bring herself to swallow.
It hadn’t yet returned, so Simmons decided that being productive would be her best course of action. She had crafted a make-shift weapon using nearby wood and stones - a spear - and was preparing to hunt the plant monster.
The taste had been repulsive, and there wasn’t much that Simmons could do about that, but she hadn’t yet fallen ill from her sample earlier, so that was promising. The plant appeared to be non-toxic, and eating something would give her a better chance.
So she waded into the water with her spear in her hand, using herself as bait to catch her prey.
As expected, the plant monster attacked, and she was pulled under the surface of the water once more. But, this time, she was ready.
She launched her own attack in a flurry, stabbing at it with her spear over and over again, and when it was weakened, she grabbed ahold of it and pulled it back to the shore with her.
On solid ground, the plant twitched a few times, before falling still.
Simmons: 1. Plant Monster: 0.
After cooking and eating the Plant Monster, Simmons had fallen asleep beside the pool. Her dreams were strange and fragmented, but she slept for longer than she had previously on the planet. When she awoke, however, she began to notice something strange.
She was no longer hungry, or thirsty, or tired. Her body still ached from the strain she had put it under, but her mind was more-or-less functioning as it should - if you ignored the irrational affection for the figure whose name she still didn’t know - and now that there were no life-or-death level distractions, she was aware of something she had not previously been aware of.
There was somebody else close by.
The sensation that this new person gave off was entirely different to the figure. This person was weary down to its bones. Tired, cautious and, above all else, immensely confused.
With her own curiosity piqued, Simmons collected her few belongings, and followed the sensation this stranger was giving off. She tracked it over a mound, but she couldn’t see anyone anywhere. It was strange - she knew that they should be there, but--
Before she could question where this new person could be, the ground underneath her gave way, and Simmons fell into darkness.