Perfectly Matched, Chapter One
Renfro sat at her new desk and stared at the wall. They had knocked out the DNA lab. Moving bases was easy enough but without the DNA lab, funding would drop off. How was she supposed to continue the work without funds? There had to be a way to recreate another generation. Suddenly she smiled, what could be more obvious?
She hit the intercom on her desk, "Bring in all our medical personnel, we're having a meeting NOW."
Ten minutes later, she addressed the team. "As you know, the DNA labs have been knocked out. Until we are able to replace them, we need to prove we can run without it. I want a list, ASAP, of everyone in the X-Series that is capable of breeding. If they are on birth control, give me an estimated date of when they could be off it. After that, we pair off. X5s with X5s, X6s with X6s. Most of the rest are too young. GO! Now, I want all this information in half an hour."
She stopped a lab tech on the way out. "How's X5-452?"
"She comes out of the hole in two hours, Ma'am."
Within ten minutes, Renfro started getting information on her desk. Every single X6 would need at least 2 months before being up to breeding standards.
"What about the X5s?" she asked an aid.
"Well, ma'am, there are only a few that haven't been on birth control." A medical aid informed her.
"Why weren't they?" Renfro asked, curious.
"Well, ma'am, the few female X5s have anomalies in their heat cycle. Then, this list of male X5s have all been in Psy Ops within the last year. The drugs they use counteract the effect of the birth control, so we pull them off it until they are ready to go back into the field."
Renfro frowned and pointed to one of the X5s on the list. "I thought he was cleared for active."
"That's correct, ma'am. The paperwork just went through on X5-494, he will commence regular training and standard drugs tomorrow morning."
Renfro shook her head immediately. "As of now, everyone is pulled off birth control. We need a new generation of soldiers, and until the DNA labs go back up, we'll have to use the soldiers we have already. Are you sure there aren't any other X5 females?"
"Well…" the technician hesitated.
"What? Who is it?"
"X5-452 has never been on birth control."
Renfro smiled. Poetic justice.
"Ok, give me a DNA work up on the in all the X5s you just mentioned."
"Full blood work?" the technician asked. That would take a lot of time.
"No, just pull out the files and pair off the best results." Renfro almost dismissed them, but added something else. "I want specifics on 494 and 452."
That underway, Renfro paid a visit to X5-452.
"State your designation." Renfro told Max, just pulled out of a week in the hole, without food or water.
"X5-452." Max said calmly, staring Renfro in the eye.
"Training commences in the morning, 452." Renfro turned to a technician. "Get her food and water."
494 lay in his bunk, not really thinking, not really doing anything. He was cleared for missions status. Anything was better than PsyOps. There would still be a bunch of pills to take, but that was no problem, nothing like bribing a guard with meds you didn't want to take anyway. His record was both the best and worst at Manticore. Well, not anymore, he supposed. They had brought in that rogue X5 from the '09 escape. Even she hadn't gotten as much PsyOps time as he had. Oh well. Tomorrow was training, bribing the guards, finding out his new mission. He was in no particular hurry to do any of it.
There weren't as many pills as usual the next morning, but the ones he wanted were there. He traded them to the guard as usual.
"X5-494." A guard caught his attention.
"Yes…?" What did they want now?
"Renfro wants to see you."
494 headed up there, not particularly looking forward to the event.
"State your designation." Renfro started off.
"I've just been taking a look at a DNA work-up for you, 494."
He wasn't expected to respond and didn't.
"You may have noticed that you weren't given as many drugs this morning as you were used to. You are one of only a few X5s that are ready to begin the breeding program."
"Breeding program?" The question slipped out of his mouth before he could stop it.
She didn't take offense, thankfully. "Yes, as you may have been informed, rogue X5s 452 and 599 blew up the DNA lab at Manticore. Since then we've relocated and now we are implementing the breeding program."
"We've taken a look at your DNA work-up and we've paired you off with X5-452."
His eyes flickered at that, "The one that blew up the lab?"
"Yes, she was captured in the attack."
Having learned some hard lessons about questioning orders, he stared straight ahead.
"We will be addressing everyone involved after training, but I wanted to talk to you personally because your mission is different. X5-452 is strong, and while I'm sure you could handle her, we've decided to wait until she goes into heat."
494 had heard of heat, but had never seen it first hand before.
"Additionally, unlike other X5s, who will move on to other breeding partners after they complete their mission with one, your mission will last longer. The projected DNA combination with you and 452 is good enough that we would like to see as many results as possible in a short period of time."
494 frowned slightly, thinking about the gestation period.
"We still have surrogates available. Once 452 is confirmed to be pregnant, we'll transplant the embryo into a surrogate. That is why your mission will be more long term."
494 nodded, pushing aside the immediate revulsion he felt at the idea.
"Good. You're dismissed."
TWO WEEKS LATER
"Renfro, you wanted us to monitor X5-452 for signs of heat."
"And you've done that?" She asked the nervous technician.
"Yes, ma'am. We project that 452 will go into her heat cycle within the next few days."
"Tell X5-494 that his mission starts tonight."
Tonight. He wasn't sure what to think. Apparently, he and 452 were some kind of superior combo mix, but who really cared? Weren't they all? As long as he wasn't in PsyOps, nothing else meant much to him. Training, screwing? It sounded a hell of a lot better than psychological torture to 494.
He walked into 452's barracks. She gave him a look of shock. He had expected mild surprise, but not this.
The door opened and Max sat straight up in her bed.
"Ben?" Max whispered, disturbed at the sudden awareness that went through her.
494 was confused. "What?" he asked.
"You're not…" Max exhaled in relief. "You look like someone I knew."
"X5-493?" 494 asked. It would make sense.
"His name is Ben." She whispered, looking away from him, almost forgetting he was there for a second.
"OK…don't freak." Alec took his shirt off. "I'm 494."
Max noticed what he was doing and stared at him in alarm. "What…what are you doing?"
"We've been paired off as breeding partners."
"Breeding partners? Partners who breed? Do I need to clarify the mission?" he asked.
"Should have thought of that before you blew the DNA lab." He tossed his shirt onto her bed and she turned away from his bare chest.
"Didn't exactly plan to be here," she muttered.
"Well, we've got our orders." He waited for her to undress. So much for her being in heat. He wondered what he was supposed to do about that, he didn't really want to do anything about that. "Take your clothes off." He reached for his belt. In reality, she was pretty cute, this wouldn't be too bad.
Her boot connected with his abs.
"What the hell was that?"
"The only physical contact we're going to have." There was no way Max was going to take part in Manticore's sick little breeding games.
494 shrugged. He, personally, couldn't care less either way. Well…it would be fun and all, but it was a little uncomfortable. "OK, don't bust my chops about it, just wake me up in an hour?" he grinned at her and lay down on her bunk.
"Bust your chops?"
"Yeah—Common Verbal Usage, I needed it to get cleared for solo missions."
"You've taken out plenty of people in your day," he commented.
Max thought of Ben, an easy image to come up with.
"494?" a guard whispered through the bars.
494 and 452 looked at the door in annoyance. They weren't actually doing anything, but they were supposed to be…it wasn't exactly an ideal time to interrupt.
"What?" 494 barked, wanting to sleep.
"You got the stuff?" the guard whispered.
"Yeah," 494 slid a packet of who knows what through the bars and received a packet of money in return.
Max had no idea how 494 could use money in here, but from the way he seemed to have his trade working for him, there had to be advantages. She raised an eyebrow at him as he lay back down on her bunk.
"Working an angle?" she couldn't resist asking.
He waved a hand, not bothering to open his eyes. "Always have a couple deals going. Guards like the drugs they give us, I don't. We made a deal."
"Some of those drugs are the ones they use to brainwash you." Max thought aloud.
"So the guards are getting brainwashed instead. Doesn't bother me."
"Then why do you do what Manticore says?" Max asked.
THAT made him open his eyes. "Do you notice me doing what they said?" he looked pointedly at the space between them.
Max didn't answer, not wanting to issue a challenge.
494 nodded, satisfied, and lay his head down. Seconds later, his eyes snapped open. Sitting up quickly, he stared at her.
Max met his eyes. He licked his lip and she watched, fascinated. Who was it that he looked like? She couldn't remember. They were suddenly inches apart, breath coming quicker.
"What did you come here for, soldier?" Max asked with a catlike smile.
494 looked at her lips as her tongue moistened the smooth surface. He forgot his mission, his location and his designation, but he claimed her lips, hard. She opened them immediately, her tongue reaching out to do battle with his.