Title- Left behind series.
Summary- what happened if Max got left behind in 2009.
Disclaimer- I am so interested in buying Alec!
A/N- Constructive criticism appreciated.
Running and Ruination
Gillette, Wyoming 2009
The breakout hadn't been her idea. No, that privilege belonged to X5-599, otherwise known as Zack- her big brother, it was his brainstorm and she had followed him. They all did.
Actually she was a little perplexed by the whole thing- break out to what? Exactly what was beyond the fences at Manticore?
It was their home, the place where they had been created and had grown up with each other. Where else was there for them to go? What if what was out there was worse?
"Worse that Eva being shot?" Zack had demanded "Worse that Jack being cut up and people always disappearing. Worse than Psy-ops?"
Even she had been swayed by that argument.
It was time to go, especially when she began to get the shakes.
As she had fallen to the floor trembling with the force of her seizures she saw the look of horror in her siblings' eyes. She, X5-332960073452, a.k.a Max was going to be taken away by the guards and cut and sliced up.
No way was Zack going to let that happen to his baby sister- they had to go now. The others had agreed but complained that they had planned an escape and they should stick to the plan.
But Zack had been adamant and the rest of them fell into line; after all he was their Commanding officer.
That night, as they had all slept readying themselves for their big escape, Ben had crept over and sat next to her holding her shaking hand in his.
"It's alright Max; the blue lady will protect us." His unquestioning faith and assurance calmed her nerves and as he leaned forward to kiss her forehead she knew that everything would be okay. They sat together listening to the sound of Krit snoring and shared a smile.
Zack had woken them all at day break and he urged them to ready themselves, his hand signals the only thing moving in the still morning air. They were a present from Manticore- a way to communicate without fear of being overheard by the enemy. In this case Manticore was the enemy and they were going to escape.
And they almost had.
As Max raced through the undergrowth feeling the biting cold snow on the soles of her bare feet she wondered what awaited them out there in the world. They had heard stories but nothing could prepare you for the reality. She could hear the dog barks and snow shooters that they had pulled out to stop the escape of the children and she sped up her steps knowing that she must meet at the rendezvous. She was the youngest and they all looked out for her and if she didn't show then it was possible that they would all go looking for her.
She leaped over a fallen log and crouched silently watching around for telltale footsteps. She heard nothing and so she sprinted to the top of the hillock and scanned the area for her siblings. It was with relief she smiled when their heads popped up from behind trees and rocks.
She joined them in triumph noting the pleased look on Zack's face and the friendly clasp of Ben's hand on her shoulder.
Jondy was the last to reach the checkpoint and she was greeted warmly by Syl and Max who were glad to see her.
Then Zack began to give out his commands. They were to split up and go on in two's. Max didn't see why, surely there was safety in numbers but Zack was in charge and always had been.
As she watched her sibs disappear into the night she felt an odd sense of foreboding that this was the last time that she would see them all together.
Ben turned before he left with Zane and bought his hand up to touch her shoulder. Her nodded his goodbye and went to catch up with his partner.
She shook off her feelings as Zack motioned for her and Jondy to go together which would leave him on his own. She shook her head but Zack frowned his disapproving.
Follow orders, he motioned and Jondy pulled Max to her feet. Casting a look back at him as she headed for the trees with her sister, Max knew that he was one that she would miss the most.
The two of them made good ground and their feet made tiny imprints in the snow as they made their way to the perimeter fence. The snow blizzard motorbikes roared behind them and as they rounded the last corner they heard yelling and screaming. Jondy almost stumbled as it registered that it was Seth who had screamed. Max pulled her along and squeezed her hand in comfort; they knew that they would lose brothers tonight.
As they spied the fence Max's heart gave a lurch of glee at the thought of being almost there and she turned to Jondy in triumph.
She felt her feet slide out from under her as she hit a slippery patch of ice but before she could right herself her sensitive toes registered cracks in the ice and suddenly she was plunged into icy water.
Can't breathe her mind blanked as the cold current washed around her, tugging her along. Max let her training take over, almost thankful to Lydecker for the times he had made her sit in the tank. She had the best time and could hold her breath for almost five minutes. She kicked out against the current with the strong legs and pushed herself up the surface.
She kicked harder as her outstretched hands made contact with something glasslike above her head. It was the ice that she had fallen through. Her eyes opened and she could see through the ice as clear as if it were a window and she spied the stars in the sky.
Turning on her back she dug her little fingernails into the ice and used them to crab crawl across the surface back to the hole that she had fallen through, all the time the current was pushing her and her exhausted muscles longed for her to just give up and give in.
The stinging cold started to numb her hands and she held on desperately fighting the current and slowly edging back to the only opening in the ice. Just as she thought that her lungs would give in her fingers found the edge of the hole and she grabbed the ice with both hands, the sharp edged sheets slicing her delicate fingers.
She pulled herself into the open gasping for breath, her harsh pants casting puffs of white crisp mist in the night air.
She shivered as she crawled painstakingly over the frozen river on her stomach to distribute her body weight and prevent a repeat of what she had just undergone. Her clothes, just a simple light nightgown clung to her and made her feel so much heavier. She knew that in a few minutes as the night air dried it, it would turn crisp and would rustle to give away her position.
Her tiny body shuddered as the saturated cloth clung to her skin. A crack of a twig alerted her to another's presence and she turned in fighting stance to see her worst nightmare in front of her. Her heart sank.
Colonel Lydecker stood impassively in front of her "You'll never make it 452." He raised his gun "You'll die of hypothermia before you reach civilisation. Come home. A good soldier knows when to back down."
And just like that he was using it as another exercise. She watched him carefully calculating the odds of actually getting away from him. He was the nightmare that prompted them to leave this place. The one man who held the power of life, death and pain over the soldiers and she knew that to get past him would be the ultimate test, one that she couldn't fail. But it was tempting. She was cold and tired and soaked and she knew that hypothermia was a risk.
"Max." he made her jump with the knowledge that he was aware of the names that they had assigned to each other "Make things easier, come home." But as soon as he had said it he knew that it was the wrong thing to say. It was his teachings that had urged the soldiers never to take the easy way out. Her muscles tensed as she primed to flight and he raised the gun and fired.
The last thing that X5-452 remembered as she blacked out was the burning pain in her shoulder and the cold snow beneath her face.