danagryphon: (PotA)
[personal profile] danagryphon
Title: The Lies That They Gave You, Chapter 1
Author: Gryph ([livejournal.com profile] gryphon2k)
Artist: Tarlan ([livejournal.com profile] tarlanx)
Fandom: Planet of the Apes (TV)
Characters/Pairings: Pete Burke/OFC, Alan Virdon, Galen, Sally Virdon, Chris Virdon
Rating/Category: Rated R, Het slash
Genre: action, homecoming
Word Count: 3,341 (11,338 total)
Warnings off-screen torture
Summary: When the astronauts and Galen find a way to return to Earth of the past, things don't go quite the way they had hoped. And things are not quite what they seem.
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] smallfandombang. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] kassidy62 as always for being my beta-reader, cheerleader, and fellow PotA nut. I was also thrilled that [livejournal.com profile] tarlanx chose to do some beautiful art for my story.

Link to art master post: AO3


Chapter 1
The best lies contain within them nuggets of truth.

"Colonel Virdon, they are ready for you."

Lieutenant Colonel Alan Virdon unfolded himself from the chair and followed the aide to the conference room. The fabric of his blue flight suite, he noticed, remained unwrinkled despite the fact that he'd been sitting in the same position for most of the last hour. The two enigmatic looking men in dark suits who stood on either side of the big wooden doors pulled them open to admit him. As he passed by, he noticed the shoulder holsters they each wore under their jackets.

The large table dominating the conference room was surrounded by more than a dozen men and women in a variety of military uniforms and civilian clothing. Virdon took a position at the end of the table and stood at attention. Military discipline dictated that he didn't speak or move until given leave by one of the superior officers in the room, but following those protocols after the circumstances of the last two years took an effort. He had so many pressing questions he just wanted to blurt outabout his family, about his companions, not to mention the larger picture of everything that had transpired while he'd been gone.

"Colonel Virdon, take a seat," one of the men in a dark blue dress uniform and four stars on each shoulder commanded.

Virdon pulled out the chair in front of him and settled into it. He leaned forward, splaying his hands out palms down on the smooth wooden table in a conscious effort not to drum his fingers.

"I'm sure you have many questions, Colonel" the General began.

Virdon couldn't contain himself anymore. "Yes, Sir. My family"

General William Shelton cut him off with a sympathetic look. "Have been notified of your arrival and are en route here."

"What about Burke and Galen, Sir? Are they all right?"

"Major Burke and the chimpanzee Galen are being treated to all the same amenities that you are, Colonel. They are being given medical care and then debriefed. You'll be able to see them soon as well." Shelton smiled reassuringly. "You are heroes, not prisoners. But you've been through a tremendous ordeal, and we want to ease the shock of your return."

Virdon frowned. “General, it's obvious that this isn't the year we left Earth. But no one has been willing to tell me exactly how long we've been gone.” The unasked question hung in the air, making most of the dignitaries shift uncomfortably.

General Shelton was no exception. But he held Virdon's gaze with a steady stare. “The date is April 13, 2012, Colonel. You've been gone thirty-two years.”
******

Major Peter Burke cut a slice of the steak, swiped it through some of the extra juice on the plate, and popped it into his mouth. He rolled his eyes in pure pleasure as the medium-rare meat melted on his tongue. He washed it down with a long draught of beer, then leaned back in the chair with a sigh and rubbed his stomach. As much as he enjoyed the return to amenities he’d missed—good food, a hot shower, a soft bed not the least among them—he was starting to chafe under the forced seclusion from his friends and the rest of the world.

It had been two days since they'd landed back on Earth. Two days since he'd been hustled into isolation, away from Virdon and Galen. Although he was pretty sure he was in some locked down military base, he wasn't sure which one. So far, they'd treated him fine, but everything was done by the book for a military debriefing. He'd been poked and prodded by the medical people, asked a million questions about the fate of their mission and the time they’d been gone. Except a lot more time had passed on Earth than the two years they had experienced since the start of their mission.

Twenty-twelve. Thirty-two years. Christ.

He'd missed thirty-two years of his life here on Earth. Everyone he'd ever known, ever cared about was either dead or so old that they probably didn't even remember him anymore. His mother was dead. One sister, who’d been six years older than him, was dead. His oldest sister, ten years older than him, was in a nursing home suffering from advanced Alzheimer's.

On the other hand, he'd never been particularly close to his family once he'd entered the space program. They'd mourned him in their own time and moved on, as had the couple or three women he'd been seeing on a semi-regular basis before the mission. Even the loss of his friends and colleagues left him feeling oddly numb. It wasn't that he didn't care, but a part of him couldn't help thinking that at least he was lucky to have avoided any serious attachments.

Virdon, he thought, must be flipping out. Unlike him, Virdon had a family, a wife and son. How in the world would he ever be able to step back into their lives after thirty-two years had passed?

A knock at the door intruded on his thoughts. “Come!” he called.

The door opened to admit a woman in a dark business suit. Her blonde hair was pulled into a tight bun, giving her an air of austerity that made it easy to overlook that she was also young—Burke guessed she was about his age—and quite attractive. Burke felt a wave of déjà vu, that he had met this woman somewhere before, and the half-sensed memory evoked warm affection. He stood as she approached the other side of the table.

“Major Burke,” she began, a smile blooming as she stuck out a hand, “I’m Allison Hayes.” Burke quickly wiped his hand on his jumpsuit before wrapping it around hers. The grip she returned was firm, self-assured. “May I sit so we can talk? I’m not interrupting your lunch, am I?”

Burke returned her smile and waved a hand at the empty chair. He pushed the plate away. “Nah, I was finished. But I can only talk to you if you call me Pete.” At least this one is pretty, he thought, turning on the charm without even thinking about it. He’d been interviewed so many times over the last two days, but this was the first interrogator who wasn’t in a military uniform. And it had been so very long since he'd seen a pretty girl who had even a chance of being his intellectual equal. He felt something flutter deep in his gut.

Hayes inclined her head as she pulled out a chair and sat. “All right, Pete.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a computer tablet. Burke had seen all the technicians and military personnel carrying them; he couldn't help wondering what other technological marvels that'd been considered science fiction in his time were now commonplace. “I’m going to record this conversation, if that’s all right with you.” At his nod of assent, she tapped the screen of the tablet.

“Look, Ms. Hayes—”

“Allison,” she interrupted with an amused look.

He flashed another grin. “Allison. I’d really like to get a few answers about where I am and when I can see my friends.” He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in the chair.

Pushing the tablet off to one side, she folded her hands on the table. “You are in a secure military facility outside of Langley, Virginia.” She pursed her lips in thought. “The rest is a little more complicated. You claim that you spent the last two years stranded in Earth's future—over a thousand years from now. Surely you can understand the concern over what would happen if the knowledge of that future were to reach the public.”

Burke's chair scraped as he pushed it back and stood. He began pacing around the room, then turned back to her with a stormy expression. “So what happens now? You just keep us here forever? Locked away?”

“Of course not,” Hayes replied. She stood as well, then reached down and touched the computer tablet again, shutting it off. “You want to get out of here for a while?” she asked, tilting her head with a mischievous half-smile.

Burke's eyes narrowed. “And go where?”

“Outside.” She shrugged. “I can't take you off the base. Not yet,” she added hastily. “But they've got some nice grounds here. We can go for a walk.”

He raised a brow, looking her up and down pointedly. “You always go for walks in your government monkey suit?”

She smiled, a disarming expression that stirred something in Burke that had been quiescent for a long time. “I have some jogging clothes in my office. It's not far from here.” She jerked her chin toward the door. “You got anything better to do?” Picking up her computer tablet, she tucked in back in her bag and slung it on her shoulder.

As they walked from his isolation room to her office, Hayes filled the time telling him about some of the advances of the last three decades. Not just cell phones and miniature computers, but also transportation, medicine, space colonization, and so much more. Inside her office, he waited while she ducked into her bathroom to change, fascinated by the images of space that decorated the walls, and curious about the apparent lack of personal items. No pictures on the desk, no diplomas on the walls. He turned to ask her about that when he heard the bathroom door reopen, but his voice caught in his throat as she emerged. The tight black leggings and day-glo orange top accentuated her figure, and the ponytail of her blonde hair softened the severe look from earlier.

“Better?” she asked playfully.

Burke knew he was staring and cleared his throat as he looked away. “Yeah, that'll work.” The lack of heels took a couple inches off her height, and the top of her head only came up to his chin.

She led him through the maze of corridors, a simple flash of the badge around her neck getting them past three different sets of guards without any question. When she pushed open a door to the outside, Burke squinted and raised a hand to shield his eyes from the brilliant sunlight. The warm air enveloped him, along with the scent of cut grass and sweet flowers. A gravel footpath stretched away from them, and with a wordless exchange, they just started walking.

Burke shoved his hands in the pockets of his jumpsuit. After two years of constant treks up and down endless hills, living hard and rough off the land, he didn't think he'd ever yearn to be outdoors again. But weeks of being cooped up, first on the ship and then in isolation, left him relieved to be somewhere that wasn't enclosed by metal or concrete. Hayes kept pace with him, but gave him a quiet companionship that didn't intrude on the illusion of freedom.

After they’d walked far enough down a slight slope that the buildings behind them were no longer visible, she slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow. “There’s a duck pond over there.” She pointed farther down the hill. “We can sit and just relax for a while.”

They sat on the bank of the pond, close enough that their shoulders brushed. Her proximity was overwhelming. Burke pulled his lanky legs up and wrapped his arms around them to hide his discomfort. “So what exactly do you do for the government, Allison?” he asked quietly.

Hayes stretched her legs out and leaned back on her hands as she considered her answer. “Well, I guess you could say I gather information.”

Burke snorted. He knew what that meant. “And what information do you want to gather from me?” He looked at her with a raised brow, torn between annoyance and amusement that the government sent a spook to interview him.

“Only what you want to tell me, Pete,” she reassured him with a gentling expression. “We’d like to know more about this civilization of apes that had control in the future. The more we understand, the better chance we have of preventing that from happening.”

“Believe me, I’m all for that.” He frowned as unpleasant memories of his time there surfaced. He stared unfocussed into the distance, and his voice dropped to a bitter whisper. Despite the warm air, he shivered. “Hell is probably worse, but not by much.”

Hayes leaned forward, copying Burke’s posture, so she could see his face as he spoke. “Tell me about it?” she asked just as quietly. “I... I’ve seen the report on your most recent physical.” The catalog of scars from injuries and abuse at the hands of the apes was now part of his permanent file.

He shrugged. “Well, then you pretty much know the worst of it. Human life is... was of very little value. They could be shot for even the most minor offense, or sometimes for no reason at all. Otherwise, we... they weren’t much above slaves and were treated—and punished—that way.” He cleared his throat turned to squint at her. “Look, I really don’t want to talk about this. I understand we have to be debriefed and all, but can’t we cover something else?”

She smiled as she reached over to squeeze his leg reassuringly. Then she let it linger there. “All right. How about the ape government. Who’s in charge?”

“That depends on who you ask. The government is a council of apes, mostly orangutans and chimpanzees. But the head of the military is a gorilla named Urko, and he’d be more than happy to tell you that he should be in charge of things.” His voice grew tight and strained again, as he remembered some of his more unpleasant encounters with Urko—being brutally interrogated, being trapped in an underground subway station, looking down the barrel of Urko’s gun. He tried to shake the memories; that was all past now that they were home, safe. “The head orangutan was named Zaius.”

“And how much firepower did this Urko and the military have?”

Burke shrugged again. “I don’t know for sure. They had rifles, and Urko exploded a grenade that he swiped from Zaius. I know they had explosives, but I don’t know how much or where it came from.” He turned toward Hayes with narrowed eyes. “Why would any of that matter, anyway? It’s not like you are going to go back there and pick a fight with them.”

Hayes pursed her lips, waving her hand dismissively. “Just trying to be thorough. You never know what might be important.” She pushed up onto her knees and turned around so that she was sitting next to him but facing him, their hips pressed together. Burke startled, breaking his darkening mood. She smiled again, coquettishly. “Listen, Pete, I have a confession to make.” When he raised an eyebrow, she continued, leaning closer, her voice dropping to a husky whisper. “I asked for this assignment because I wanted to get to know you. I’m a giant geek for the history of the space program, and I grew up reading stories all about the three astronauts lost on your mission.”

Burke smirked, huffing a low chuckle. “Really. Huh.”

“Yeah, really.” She edged even closer until their faces were only inches apart. “A chance to meet the famous Pete Burke... well, that was something I couldn’t pass up.” She brought her arms up and draped them over his shoulders, her expression an open question. He swallowed hard trying to separate his body’s enthusiastic response from his jumbled emotions. There was no doubt he was interested, but it had been a long time. Back in the days before the mission, he’d known women who were drawn to the glamor of his profession and rarely hesitated to let that work to his advantage. Things had changed a lot since then. He’d changed. But the temptation to seek a little comfort after the ordeal of the last two years was strong. After a brief internal struggle, he wrapped his hands around her waist.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint.”

They both closed the remaining distance, entering the kiss tentatively at first, then deepened it as they both surrendered to their desires. When it broke, Hayes pressed on his shoulders, encouraging him to lie back in the thick grass as she swung a leg over until she was straddling him.

Burke’s eyes widened, even as his hands roamed freely over her body. “Won’t someone see us here?” Much as the al fresco atmosphere excited him, he also didn’t want to have spectators.

Hayes leaned over him. “Nah. No one comes outside. We won’t be disturbed.”

And they weren’t.
******

“Computer, display images from Earth history.” Galen watched the screen projected on the wall of his quarters in anticipation.

A mechanized voice responded, “Please specify time period.”

The chimp titled his head quizzically, taken aback by the request. The history of his people began with the Sacred Scrolls, with the words set down by the Lawgiver. He shrugged. “Start at the beginning.”

A dark field filled the screen, broken by a myriad of tiny points of light, a glowing disk dominating the foreground.

Galen’s brow creased in confusion. “Computer, can you provide narration for these images?”

“Approximately four point five billion years ago, the Earth formed from the accretion of the solar nebula. Volcanic outgassing probably created the primordial atmosphere, but it contained almost no oxygen and would have been toxic to humans and most modern life. Much of the Earth was molten—”

“Stop, stop, stop.” Galen rolled his eyes. “Computer, show the beginning of the history of life on Earth.”

The image changed to a hellish landscape of gaseous clouds illuminated by enormous bolts of lightning, over craggy outcroppings of rocks. “The earliest life on Earth existed at least three point five billion years ago, during the Eoarchean Era when sufficient crust had solidified following the molten Hadean Eon. The earliest actual signs of life on Earth known to scientists are the complete fossils of a microbial mat associated with sandstone in western Australia, estimated to be three point four eight billion years old—”

“Oh, good grief!” Galen interrupted again. He heaved a frustrated sigh. “Computer.” He paused, a new strategy forming in his head. “Computer, the year is two-thousand twelve, correct?”

“Correct, that is the year in the Common Era.”

Galen nodded and clapped his hands together in delight. Now he was getting somewhere! “Computer, display images of history from the first year in the Common Era.”

“The largest government in the first year of the Common Era was the Roman Empire, which under the rule of Augustus stretched around the Mediterranean in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Empire fostered a period of unprecedented stability and prosperity known as the Pax Romana or Roman Peace.” On the screen, majestic buildings of stone lined streets where soldiers in armor and colorful cloaks marched in formation.

Strange, Galen thought. These humans looked awfully advanced, even at the beginning of their history. More advanced, in many ways, than his Ape ancestors had been. And this was over two-thousand years ago in Man’s history.

At a knock on the door, Galen told the computer to halt. “Come in,” he called, moving slowly toward the door. When it opened to two familiar human faces, his slow advance turned into a rush. “My friends!” He threw his arms around both men. “Oh, Alan, Pete, I'm so glad to see you both!”

Burke pounded him on the back. “Good to see you, too, pal!”

“How are they treating you?” Virdon asked when they separated.

“Fine. Fine! I am learning all about your time, your history. And this place,” he motioned his hands around the room, “this place is amazing. I know you’d told me about how it was, but I found it hard to believe,” he finished a little sheepishly. He moved toward one of the upholstered chairs and waved the men to sit as well. “They have been asking me a lot of questions.”

“It’s okay, Galen,” Virdon reassured him. “We’ve all been being debriefed. It’s standard procedure.”

“I’d like to see more of your world. Are we going to be able to leave here soon?”

Burke looked at Virdon with a raised brow. He wondered the same thing.

Virdon shrugged, swaying his head back and forth. “Soon. But the government can’t just turn a talking ape loose on the world. You are going to be introduced in a press conference, and then you’ll be allowed to leave here, with supervision. You are going to need to have an escort for your protection.”

Galen frowned. “Protection? What do I need protection from, Alan?”

Burke chimed in. “Not all humans are as... accepting as we are. Your very existence is going to turn a lot of beliefs topsy-turvy. Folks might not like that.”

“Yes, distrust of differences is not limited to my kind, I see.” Mischief chased away the sadness a moment later. “I can’t expect Humans to be better than Apes on that count, I suppose.”

Burke and Virdon both chuckled. “But I’ll probably stick around here with you,” Burke said. “Unlike Alan, I don’t have any family left to go looking for. Besides,” a blush began to color his cheeks, “there’s this woman who works here I’d like to get to know better. She and I kinda hit it off.” He let the thought trail off suggestively.

Virdon rolled his eyes, belied by the smile that twitched on his lips. “The ol’ Burke charm still works just fine, huh?” His expression sobered. “Sally and Chris will be here in a couple of hours.”

Galen reached over and squeezed Virdon's hand. “You're going to see your family again? That's wonderful.”

“Yeah.” Virdon's voice held a touch of sadness.

Burke wanted to lighten the mood. “Well, first thing we gotta do is get some new threads, Galen.” He plucked at the fabric of his jumpsuit, which matched what Galen wore. “These flight suits are pretty comfortable for lounging around, but they have no style. And blue is definitely not your color.”

“Threads?” Galen’s brow furrowed. “What would I do with thread? Do I have to sew my own clothing here?”

The two men chuckled good-naturedly. “Nah, we’ll go shopping for clothes, Galen,” Burke said. “I’ll even spring for them. I haven’t calculated exactly how much thirty-two years of back pay with interest would be, but I’m pretty sure I’m a wealthy man.” He leaned back, raising his arms to put his hands behind his head. “I think there is a Porsche nine-eleven out there somewhere with my name on it.” His eyes grew wide with excitement. “Hey, do they have flying cars yet?”
******

“They are accepting the program.” A question phrased as a statement.

“Yes. Our operative has already started gathering information.”

“The time period was a good call. Unfamiliar enough that any inconsistencies will be overlooked. But close enough to their own time that they will feel comfortable.” Pause. “I’ll see that you are commended.”

“Thank you, sir.” A pregnant silence.

“What?”

“I’m concerned about embedding the operative so deeply into the storyline, into their lives. It may cause... dissonance.”

“It was decided it was necessary for trust to form. I’m confident in our methods.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Move on to the next phase.”

Continued in Chapter 2
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