MNU Headquarters, Johannesburg
June 18th, 2013
The mid-morning air was warm and up on the top balcony of the MNU Headquarters building, a breeze billowed by. Jonas Locaheen, the middle-aged Director of MNU's South Africa branch had spent the last twenty minutes standing on this balcony, allowing the wind to ruffle up his hair and flutter around his suit. Below spread the modern city of Johannesburg while lying on the outskirts to the west sat District 9, a dirty smear on the landscape that was yet to be removed. Jonas always thought this about District 9 every morning he stood up here while helping himself to the orange juice supplied to him and the slices of toast his secretary prepared for him.
He had a lot of things on his mind, this having been the case for the last week or so. Ever since Richard Houser, the mysterious American man from another organization, had come into his office about fifteen days ago spouting some nonsensical scheme things had gone downhill. The scheme itself, to recover a potentially useful alien medical pod, had failed miserably. The one known as Lukas Farber, a man who had apparently been turning into some sort of "leader" prawn, had been lost. He had seemingly disappeared from the sight of MNU, something that was no mean feat considering that MNU was a global corporation. It was fairly difficult to hide from a global corporation, especially one that had access to its own army as well as satellites that could read the time off of someone's wrist-watch from outer space. Jonas tried to not let such failures annoy him but this was easier said than done. Jonas had been hoping for a breakthrough in the scheme, one that would help them determine how prawn-built weaponry only worked for prawns and not humans. With such information they could have developed hybrid super soldiers and then sold them off to whoever was willing to pay the most money. The plan would have made Jonas rich, it would have made Richard rich and it would have ensured that Jonas would get an early retirement. And now things had fallen apart, almost literally. Lukas Farber was gone, the alien medical pod had been destroyed and the mercenary force involved had been mostly eliminated. How some pen-pushing engineer who worked on one of the lower floors of the building could have killed a few dozen mercenaries was beyond Jonas' knowledge. He figured that luck had attributed to it somehow. Lukas had, after all, been one of the few who could have certainly survived the transformation from human into prawn, having determined this from his DNA. He had all the right traits…hence the reason they had put him in the anti-alien terrorism squad in the first place. The plan had been to get him exposed to that strange black alien fluid…well, not necessarily Lukas but anyone else in the team. They were all liable to survive the transformation. They would have all made the first test subjects had the alien medical pod survived its trip to the facility in southern Zimbabwe that Richard's organization ran.
Jonas had been dwelling on such thoughts for days now, trying to work out the consequences of Lukas' escape and the destruction of the alien medical pod. If what he had heard was correct then chances are Lukas Farber had by now finished the metamorphosis, developing into the "leader" class prawn. These were the very sort of prawns that had apparently been in charge of all of the others but had all died somehow, hence their absence on the mother-ship. Without these "leaders" the lower class prawns were a disorganized riff-raff, full of mostly idiot aliens who were unpleasant to live with. If Lukas was some sort of "leader" he may be able to organize the prawn masses, something which would prove to be rather fatal for MNU.
Jonas had a glass of orange juice in his right hand, sipping it carefully. On a table on the balcony was a plate, one that had a pair of buttered slices of golden-brown toast on it. He wasn't too hungry though, leaving the toast to go cold as he dwelled upon his thoughts of recent events and the fears that entailed them. None of this would have happened if Richard Houser hadn't gotten involved. Jonas could trace all of this trouble back to that American man. It seemed logical, that in order to save his own career he would have to sever his ties with Houser and whatever organization the man worked for. He still hadn't specified just what organization he was with but there was no doubt in Jonas' mind that it was an American one, possibly FBI, CIA or even NSA. Then again, it might be one that no one had even heard of, hence explaining why Richard hadn't even disclosed the name of it.
Ten minutes ago Jonas had called Richard, demanding that the man come meet him in his office as soon as possible. It had just so happened that Richard had been on his way to talk to Jonas about an important development, something that both renewed some slight part of Jonas' dwindling confidence in the scheme while further striking doubt in him. The Director was left with a feeling of uncertainty on his mind, one that was only marginally helped by the music he had playing from the stereo on one wall of his office.
"I've got…TWO tickets to paradise! Why don't you…pack your bags and we'll leave tonight!"
Jonas took another sip of orange juice before putting the glass down on the table out on the balcony. He turned around and stepped back into the air conditioned comfort of his office, switching off the music just as the intercom on his desk crackled into life. His secretary's voice filtered through the speaker and Jonas stepped over to his desk, listening carefully.
"Mr. Houser is here to see you, sir," the secretary said, "Should I send him up?"
Pressing the "response" button on the intercom, Jonas delivered his reply.
"Send him up," Jonas said evenly before depressing the button. He only had to wait a minute or two for Richard Houser to push open the double doors of the office, waltzing on in with an aura of over-confidence and a rather beaming smile.
Unlike their first meeting, Richard Houser was dressed in jeans and a blue Hawaiian shirt. His dark hair was cut to a reasonably moderate length and he had no fringe; instead the hair had been slicked up with some sort of cheap hair product. Whatever organization Richard Houser worked for they didn't seem to have much of a dress code, Jonas could tell this much just by looking at the man. Unless Richard simply chose to not pay attention to any "dress code", a thought that was more than likely. The doors slammed shut behind Richard as he walked in. He stopped a short distance ahead of the desk, keeping that irritating smile on his face while he gazed towards the Director of MNU's South Africa branch. He was trying to work out why Jonas Lochaeen had such a sour looking expression on his face.
"What's the matter, Jonas?" Richard asked, "You look like you're constipated…"
"I am not constipated," Jonas interrupted, deciding to stop Richard from descending into some sort of irrelevant discussion about the more interesting aspects of constipation, "I'm just pissed off. And do you know why?"
Richard shrugged. Either he didn't know (which struck Jonas as naïve) or he didn't care (which struck Jonas as stupid).
"This plan of yours…It's fallen apart. I should never have let you talk me into helping you. Now I've got a whole lot of dead mercenaries, a derailed train and some sort of 'boss prawn' on the loose. And if it weren't for you, none of this shit would have happened." Jonas paused for a moment, letting his words hang in the air. Much to his annoyance, Richard didn't appear to be too concerned about it. In fact, he was still wearing that beaming smile of his.
"What the hell are you smiling about?" Jonas asked, annoyed and bordering on sheer rage. This petulant moron was simply standing still with an irritating grin on his face, as if nothing Jonas said mattered to him. One wouldn't have been wrong to think that these problems meant absolutely nothing to Richard Houser.
"I'm smiling because I know something you don't," Richard replied, his tone upbeat. Jonas raised an eyebrow. What the hell could this prick be getting at? Jonas thought.
"You know something I don't?" Jonas scoffed. "Well, let me think…What could you possibly know that I don't? Did you know, now that we have that prick Lukas on the loose, that we could be facing a full scale revolution? Such an act may be easy to quell but the backlash from other nation's governments would be massive. This great nation has already been classed as 'xenophobic'; it's just that none of the other world leaders have really bothered to do much about it. However, violently putting down a revolution, something that I see as inevitable if those prawns were to be united and revolt, would draw much attention to what we're doing here. More people would sympathize with the prawns…enough do already. Imagine the might of other countries pressuring us into giving up the power we hold over the prawns…It would be disastrous for this corporation. It would be disastrous to your organization's interests. It would be disastrous for all of us. I just can't fathom why you seem to think it's so funny. In my eyes, you and you're fucking organization, whatever it calls itself, caused this trouble. You're nothing but a fucking troublemaker to me, Richard Houser. Same goes to your cohorts. And that prick Colonel Keller? He obviously couldn't do his job right. You were the one who recommended him to lead this operation, so I trusted your decision. But now I'm left thinking: he was incapable of running this scheme. He was incapable of doing anything except kill things. He was useless, just like you and the rest of your fucking organization…"
"Are you done?" Richard interjected, having heard enough. Jonas took a breath, trying to work out if he had missed out on anything important. He couldn't come up with anything so he assumed that he had covered all that he had wanted to say. "Besides, you shouldn't denounce Colonel Keller. For starters, he's quite good at what he does. And, contrary to what you might have been told, he is not dead. At least, no one's been able to locate his body.
"And another thing: I didn't come up here to get filibuster from you, Jonas," Richard said, his tone somewhat more level. His smile had gone and instead his expression was one of distinct neutrality. "I came up here to tell you something, something I only received word of recently. And it's something that'll change the game for everyone involved…"
Jonas shook his head. He wasn't too concerned about what Richard wanted to tell him. Honestly, he didn't care. He just wanted Richard out of this corporation's business before he screwed it up even more. And he had screwed things up considerably; there was no doubt about that. Jonas was thinking of just telling Richard to leave now rather than hear him out but there was a thought at the back of his mind, one that was urging him to listen to whatever the man had to say. Jonas considered having security escort Richard out, just for the fun of it. Such an occurrence was only a finger press away, for all Jonas had to do was press a button on the intercom and tell the security guards outside to come on in.
"We know where Lukas Farber is," Richard said, that irritating smile appearing on his face again. Jonas raised an eyebrow when he heard this, trying to determine whether the implications of it were really worth the trouble or not. "And we know that he's turned into some sort of 'boss' or 'leader' prawn. Sure, the physical differences aren't all that much…I reckon he's become a sort of 'commander' and not a dead-set 'queen' but even so, he still has the potential to have complete control over the prawn masses."
Jonas had his doubts about what was being said, struck between caring about it and simply not giving a damn. Something told him that Lukas Farber wasn't the type to incite a full-scale revolution.
"How did you find this out?" Jonas asked.
"An informer," Richard replied, "What did I say at our first meeting? Come on, Jonas, you should remember…" He smiled. Jonas just frowned in response, unamused. "Oh, come on…You're no fun, Jonas. I said that we had informers in both districts…prawn informers. And one of them got in touch with me late last night and delivered a few interesting tid-bits of information in exchange for some cash and cat-food." He chuckled, as if a funny thought occurred to him. Jonas was perplexed at this reaction and kept the no-nonsense frown on his face.
"What the hell's so funny?" He asked.
"Oh, Jonas, you're going to love this," Richard said, sounding practically excited at whatever he was about to say. Jonas didn't share in this sense of excitement, further cemented in his perception of Richard as a complete and utter moron.
"Lukas Farber, now fully transformed, was caught humping some female prawn by this informer of mine," Richard said, unable to help but chuckle when he said this, "The generally accepted fact is that Lukas intends on spreading his leader genes into the next generation of prawns. So, when that female lays her eggs…"
"We'll have a lot of these 'leader's to deal with?" Jonas asked. The thought made him sick to the stomach. Immediately he decided that action would need to be taken to ensure that none of these prawns were born. That would mean that Lukas and this female would have to be apprehended and promptly killed.
"Yes, exactly!" Richard exclaimed, sounding like a game-show host as he said this, "Which means that Lukas himself doesn't need to start a revolution…Only one of his kids has to. You following this?"
"Of course I am, you fucking moron!" Jonas snapped. He slammed a fist down on the desk angrily, receiving a startled look from Richard as he did this. The situation was grim now, he knew that. There would be a revolution for sure and thus he would have to act fast. For starters, he didn't need this prick Richard Houser around to screw things up more. And there was on telling that Lukas Farber might try impregnating more females, if only to help the prawns into gaining freedom. In fact, it seemed that Lukas had taken on a sort of "messiah" role as a result of his transformation.
"Where is Lukas now?" Jonas asked.
"You should take a chill pill…"
"Fuck you, Richard," Jonas said, shooting a mean gaze at the man, "I should never have agreed to this plan of yours in the first place. It's completely fucked things up. And you yourself are a complete and utter fuck-tard, you know that?"
There was a pause for a moment as neither man spoke, thinking the situation over in their minds. Richard seemed to be rather taken aback by all the yelling and swearing, having lost that smile of his. For once Jonas felt above this man, no longer subjected to his condescending attitude.
"Where's Lukas now?"
"I can give you the address…"
"Scribble it down on the notepad," Jonas demanded, nodding in the direction of a notepad at the other side of the desk. Richard did as he was told, scribbling the address down on the top piece of paper using a pen from the desk. Jonas tore the paper off of the top of the pad once the address was down, returning his gaze to Richard afterwards.
"Now fuck off," Jonas said bluntly.
The words seemed to take a moment to register in Richard's mind. When they did the man frowned.
"I said, fuck off!" Jonas yelled, sending a spray of spittle flying in Richard's direction. Richard stood his ground but was noticeably annoyed, one eyebrow twitching slightly. It seemed that an all out argument would erupt, something that didn't concern Jonas since he had the jurisdiction here. Richard was just some moron from some American organization who had caused more harm than good for MNU.
"Jonas, I want to make something very clear to you," Richard said, his voice suddenly dead serious. He wore a frown, one that seemed aimed at intimidating. Jonas wasn't affected by it, though.
"You make me leave and I'm not coming back," Richard continued, "You will never hear from me or the organization I work for ever again. You and your corporation will be left to deal with the problem yourselves…and chances are, you're going to fail pathetically. Don't you know?" He paused while Jonas listened carefully, not at all affected by what the man was saying. "Don't you know that Christopher Johnson's going to be back in a month? He said he'd be back…and chances are he will be back. What that will mean for your corporation, I don't know…but I can tell you now that you're fucked. Completely and utterly fucked. You may be able to deal with this Lukas Farber problem, but you won't be able to deal with CJ's return and whatever help he might bring with him…"
"Leave my office," Jonas said sternly. He wasn't about to listen to the crap that Richard was delivering from out of his big mouth.
"I want you to think carefully about this decision, Jonas…"
"Get the fuck out of my office…now." Jonas spat the last word through clenched teeth, barely able to contain his anger. "Otherwise I'll call security. And I'll tell them to beat the shit out of you in the toilet block down the hall."
Richard didn't seem too flustered by this threat. Instead, he just shook his head, almost in pity of Jonas.
"You're making a mistake," he said, slowly turning around. Jonas watched him leave, not regretting a single thing he had said. Once the doors had closed and Richard was gone forever, Jonas slumped down in the seat at the desk and read the address that Richard had scribbled on the piece of paper.
The address was to a shack in District 9. It wouldn't take much for some MNU mercenaries to storm the place and arrest everyone inside. Jonas flicked a switch on the intercom, opening a line of communication to the man in charge of the mercenary forces here. His name was Fabian Felix, a reliable mercenary who had more or less replaced the late Koobus Venter.
"Colonel Felix?" Jonas asked, his tone grim. He had a hand at his forehead, rubbing it gently while he was still having some trouble comprehending the situation. Richard Houser was gone, thus releasing an immense load off of his mind. There was the current situation to deal with though, one that could lead to a full scale revolution.
"Uh…this is Colonel Felix. What is it, sir?" Felix's slightly accented voice filtered through the speaker, tinged with uncertainty.
"I need you to organize a large force to enter District 9 and proceed to a certain address," Jonas said, "It's Shack E10, in the South-eastern section of the district. Not only that, but I want much of this large force dedicated to the task of tracking down every 'female' prawn in the district and executing them. And to top it off, I want a search carried out to find every prawn egg so they can be destroyed in the usual manner."
Jonas had to be sure the problem was removed. There was no telling how many females Lukas had gained access to so far. Colonel Felix, on the other hand, sounded a bit unsure of the whole plan.
"Are you sure, sir? Such an operation could take hours…"
"I don't care!" Jonas snapped, sending Felix silent. "I want every available man put on the job! I want that district clear of females and eggs by the end of the day! Is that understood?"
"Uh…Yeah. Yes, sir, I mean…I'll get right onto it."
Jonas depressed the button on the intercom and sat back in his seat. For some reason he was feeling quite confident that things would work out. Richard was gone so he couldn't screw things up anymore than he had. MNU would be free to deal with the situation themselves and perhaps far more efficiently as a result.
Lukas Farber was both uncertain and terrified. Here he was, standing in a completely familiar neighbourhood, forced to stay out of sight of pedestrians and passing cars as he made his way past the typical suburban homes to a house he knew well. With him was the young prawn, Faith, and she had so far convinced herself that Lukas was her father. She would often call him "father" now much to the ex-human's chagrin. The thing that annoyed Lukas the most and always reminded him of what he had turned into was the fact that he probably did resemble her father. Lukas was just a somewhat darker and burlier prawn, one who was not only terrified of what his human wife and daughter would think of him but also guilt-ridden of what he had done the night before.
Crouched behind a parked car, Lukas took in his surroundings. It had been somewhat dangerous leaving the district for it was very likely he would be shot or at the very least arrested if he was caught in a suburban area such as this. Faith was standing nearby, staring at her reflection in the car's silver hub-cap and tapping it with one claw in a curious manner.
Lukas kept telling himself that what he had done with Iris had been to help their race. That had been most of the reason and not all of it, something he would have preferred to have been true. There was the part of the reason that he had done it just for his own satisfaction and it was the alien part of his mind that was reminding him of this. He was a prawn and logically he would be attracted to other prawns, something that had been proven because he had been strangely attracted to Iris. She had been the one to make the move on him though, believing that if he wasn't going to help the Popleekwa then her offspring would. She just needed him to pass the leader genes onto said offspring and chances are the prawns would be free in a generation. Lukas was now free to do as he pleased, forced to grow accustomed to life as a prawn. And now he was forced to live with that guilty feeling on his conscience, the one that told him that he had cheated on his loving wife…and yet at the same time he hadn't.
Last night he had been quite determined to see his wife and daughter. That was why he had taken the trouble to head all the way out here, to one of the suburban areas of the city where prawns were not allowed to enter. He was desperate to see Katherine, even if she would not be able to recognize him. He wanted to tell her that he was alright, that he was still alive but that he might not be able to live with her anymore. He wanted to tell her that he still loved her, even if she might not love him anymore. If she didn't love him he would understand and would return to the district to live out the rest of his days, probably ending up together with Iris. It was funny how things played out in the end, he thought. Not once during his life had he even considered the notion of falling in love with a prawn. And yet, it had happened…and he certainly hated to admit it. He was a prawn too though so it only made sense. The transformation had indeed altered part of his mind, perhaps changing some of his perceptions of things. His sense of smell was powerful, almost overwhelmingly so: he could make out a single faint scent amongst the hundreds, perhaps even thousands of them that were all around him. He could follow that one scent to its source. He could detect the pheromones from other prawns, instantly able to tell what they were feeling just by these pheromones. It was unnerving to think that the transformation had been so thorough, especially when it came to his reproductive organs. As he had discovered last night, those had changed somewhat…but they weren't utterly recognizable. Urinating while standing up was standard-practice, even for prawns like him.
Something that furthered his guilt was the fact that making love to Iris had been so pleasurable. Rather than do it just the once as he had originally intended, the pair had enjoyed it so much they had done three more times. At least it ensured that Iris would wind up pregnant, even if it left Lukas feeling guiltier than he had ever had before.
With his sharpened prawn eyesight Lukas could make out a few things he probably wouldn't have been able to had he been a human. A few houses down, across the street, was his house. It hadn't changed at all, save for the fact that there was only one car in the drive way and not two. His car was probably still in a parking lot at MNU headquarters downtown. This thought struck him as strangely funny and he would have laughed had he known how. He still didn't know how to smile in his new form.
Lukas decided to quite stalling behind the parked car, seeing as the street was clear. There was only one human in sight: he was a man who looked to be in his thirties or forties, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt as he busily washed his car, rubbing its dirtied sections with a large sponge and covering the car with white foamy suds. Music blared from a portable radio set up nearby. He wasn't at an angle to see Lukas, even if the prawn decided to cross the street.
Lukas stood up and did just that, crossing the street quickly and carefully. Faith followed a few paces behind, chirping in annoyance at the sudden decision to move. She started walking alongside Lukas as he went down the footpath, arriving at the front drive-way of his home. Lukas turned to face his home, unable to see any movement through the windows. The sprinklers were on, spraying a fine continuous mist of water across the front lawn and creating a faint rainbow. Summing up as much bravery as he could, he started across the lawn. Water sprayed onto him, providing some cool refreshment from the warm heat of the day. What reaction awaited him from his wife and daughter was unknown but he was determined to see them. They were home, Katherine's car was parked on the drive-way.
Lukas was about halfway across the lawn when he heard a voice yell from behind, one that he had hoped to never hear again. It was a twisted, raspy voice, one that was filled to the brim with hatred.
"Turn around!" The voice demanded.
Lukas turned around slowly. Faith, meanwhile, looked up at him and managed to utter one comprehensible prawn word.
"Danger," she said simply.
Lukas froze when he saw who it was, especially when he saw what changes had occurred to this person. Sarah Taylor had been a troubled woman to begin with but now…now she was completely deranged. The only human part of her was her left arm and shoulder, otherwise the rest of her had become completely "prawn". Lukas remembered having left her amongst the puddle of black alien fluid back at the wreck of the train days before, having thought that would have been the last he saw of her. Obviously he had been mistaken. Sarah's clothing was torn and dirty, as if she had been through hell and back just to get here. Somehow Lukas had failed to detect her following him from the district…unless she had been lying in wait nearby, just waiting for him to pay a visit to his family. Seeing her again in the deranged mostly-transformed state she was in, Lukas felt terror strike at his very heart. He stood his ground, even when he saw the Beretta pistol she held in her remaining human hand.
"I've been…waiting…for…you…" Sarah said, taking a step forward and onto the lawn. Her voice was weak, almost croaky. Most of her head had transformed, providing the odd occurrence of having a human voice come out of the mouth of a prawn.
Lukas didn't react. He didn't know how, for starters. Seeing Sarah like this…She was determined to enact revenge on Lukas for what he had done to her. It hadn't really been his doing…Sarah had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Sarah…" Lukas began but was interrupted.
"Don't try talking me out of this," Sarah said, angered pheromones wafting off of her body. "I've come to kill you…and then I'm going to kill myself. I'll do anything to stop myself from becoming…becoming…a fucking…prawn…"
"Just let me see my family first," Lukas said. He didn't care much abut death now, especially when it seemed inevitable. As long as he was allowed to see Katherine and his daughter, Lyssa, once more…
"Fuck you," Sarah said simply, barely considering the notion. She pulled the trigger and Lukas felt something hot hit him in the chest, sending a powerful stinging pain through him. He stumbled backwards, stunned.
The gunshot was loud enough to get the attention of the man washing his car across the street. Seeing what had happened, he was immediately talking into his mobile phone, demanding that the police arrive here immediately.
Lukas swallowed, trying to ignore the agony that was in his chest. It was as if a hot metal poker had been stuck into him and spun around. Putting a claw to where he had been shot he felt thick black blood, much of it.
Turning around, he started walking towards the front door of his house. He needed to see his wife, his daughter, the family cat…he needed to see all three of them. Sarah could kill him but she wouldn't deny him his last wish to see his family again. Even as he walked he could feel his strength ebbing away, each step becoming more difficult than the last. Faith plodded along behind him, frightened by the noise but far more concerned about his wellbeing.
Lukas ignored her. Sarah fired again, the bullet slamming into his lower back. Lukas groaned and fell onto his knees, mere metres before the front door. As he fell the door opened and there stood Katherine, his wife, dressed in her usual casual attire. She stood with a look of shock on her face upon seeing the prawn crawling along the ground towards her, as well as the one that was standing on the lawn holding a gun.
"I said I'd kill you," Sarah said, her voice tinged with hatred. She fired again, this round hitting the fallen prawn in the upper back, just below the neck. Lukas slumped forwards, his gaze on Katherine as he struggled to gather the strength to move, reaching out with one arm in a vain attempt to touch her. With his other he reached into a pocket in his tattered trousers, removing the photo he had of him and his wife and his daughter (who clutched the family cat in her arms), all of them smiling into the camera as if they hadn't a care in the world. He held it out to her but could barely manage the effort. With one more effort he pushed himself a little further along the lawn.
Lukas turned around, watching as Sarah stepped forwards, pistol raised. Katherine stood in the doorway, unsure on how to react. Carefully, Lukas rose to his feet, trying to ignore the pain in his back and in his chest. He put a hand to the wound at his chest, trying to stem the blood-flow.
Sarah was certainly dazed, enduring the painful final stages of the transformation. She went to fire her pistol once more but was overcome with sheer agony as more of her human flesh broke away at her back, allowing the prawn exoskeleton to erupt through. She screamed and fell to her knees, momentarily lowering her weapon.
Lukas, using his last reserves of strength, lunged towards her. She looked up and saw him coming, raising her pistol. Lukas hit her and knocked her into the ground, just as the gun went off. The bullet went wide and Lukas found himself with Sarah lying below him, furiously trying to push him off of her. He pulled the pistol out of her grip and slammed the butt-end of it into her face, repeating this several times until the hybrid had stopped moving. Black blood coated his claws as Lukas stood up, trying his best to wipe the blood off onto his vest. He turned around, his eyes meeting with Katherine's.
Relief set in as he approached, ignoring Faith's worried chirps as he bled from his back and his chest. Lyssa, his daughter, was standing by Katherine in the doorway. She was only five, yet the look in her eyes implied that she already knew just who the prawn standing in front of her was. Carefully, Lukas thrust the photo he had of them all together into his wife's hands…the photo of when he was still human. Lyssa seemed to take a step back, as if frightened, hiding behind her mother. Katherine peered down at the photograph and then towards Lukas, trying to work out just what was happening…
And then it clicked. A tear rolled down Katherine's cheek while Lukas carefully held out one claw, directing it to Lyssa. Slowly, her mother gently nudged her forwards and she seemed to get the message. Lukas could feel his strength leaving him as he stood there and knew then that he was bleeding to death. Carefully, Lyssa planted her smaller hand in his outstretched claw. Lukas gripped it tightly, trying to work out if he could smile in his alien form. As far as he knew, he could still cry.
He held her hand for what seemed like an eternity, trying to get across the message: Everything's going to be fine. Deep down, he knew it would not be fine. As much as he would have preferred, it was unavoidable for his wounds to get the better of him. He released his grip on his daughter's hand and slumped against the side of the doorway, leaving a trail of sticky black blood after him. Katherine went onto her knees and held him, but by then it was too late.
Very difficult to write an end for this: there were a number of different ones I had planned, but all of them usually involved Lukas dying in some way or another. The two I actually wrote was the one used and another, longer one that explains what happens to Iris and Wikus but I decided that in that ending it was a case of "Ending Fatigue": Writing anything after Lukas' death was just unnecessary. The ending included is the one I like better, with no unnecessary bits after it. I prefer to leave Wikus and Iris' fates unspecified.
Anyway, thanks for reading.