"Escape From Hotel Manticore"
by Kirsten Tapp


No copyright infringement intended.


Max is still alive and Jondy is in town. Time for Max's family to break her out.


Occurs after "And Jesus Brought a Cassarole".



Logan could see why Max had loved the view from the top of the building where he now sat. Everything seemed so peaceful from here. From this height he felt so close to her, almost as though at any minute, she would sit down beside him and everything would be alright. But it wasn't. Max was gone and Logan felt as though a huge part of him was gone too. Casting the dark city one more glance he headed home.

Max watched the night breeze rustle the leaves of the trees that hid the high Manticore fences from the outside world. They almost seemed to be beckoning her. The only thing that kept her strong, trapped inside this sterile room like a lab rat, was Logan. Knowing he was out there, remembering how it felt when he held her, that mischievous sparkle in his eyes when he teased her. All of those things kept her mind focused on escaping.

Something in the trees caught her attention. Concentrating her vision between the rustling leaves, Max could see a young woman perched on one of the top branches in the tree. A smile spread across the woman's pale face. She knew that Max could see her. Although Max couldn't put her finger on it, there was something familiar about her.

As Max watched, the woman moved carefully in the tree until her back was facing Max. Pushing her long red hair aside, she displayed her neck marked with a barcode. Jondy. Max knew there were cameras in the room with her, but she had to get a message to Logan. Waiting for Jondy to turn herself back around, Max spelt out Logan's name using sign language. She moved as close to the barred window as she could so that any view of her signals would be obscured from anyone but Jondy.

Jondy watched quietly from her perch. Logan Cale. She nodded that she understood and swung herself down from the tree. "Guess I had better find myself a phone book." She looked down at her watch. "Hell, better get back to my dinner date." As much as she wanted to get Max out, Jondy knew better than to rush things and get her identity discovered. She had known instinctively that something had gone wrong, when Zack hadn't made contact. Against the others' wishes, she had come back and made contact with a one-night stand she had regretfully had when in heat four months before. It wasn't a meaningful one night, but at least he kept her sleepless night full and besides, he had a computer. If Logan Cale wasn't in the book, she could find him on the net.

Climbing back through the bathroom window she changed into the dress she had hidden in one of the stalls. It hadn't taken much effort on her part to convince Edward to take her to a restaurant near Manticore. She had always had more confidence in herself when she was in season. Gracefully seating herself opposite Edward, she smiled apologetically. "Sorry I took so long. Wine is so hard to get out of this material."

"No problem." Edward shrugged his shoulders. "You didn't seem very hungry anyway. So..." He rested his elbows on the table and his chin on his clasped hands. "Where did you disappear to four months ago? I woke up and you were gone."

Jondy smiled sweetly. "Family emergency." She took another sip of wine. "You know what. You're right. I'm not very hungry. Want to leave?" She shot Edward a sexy smile.

"Check!" Edward's reaction was instant. Little did he know that at that moment, even the pimply faced bus boy looked appealing to Jondy.

The door to Edward's apartment came crashing down with Jondy and Edward on top of it. Edward brushed aside Jondy's hair from her neck. "You know, I could have found my keys." He started to kiss his way up her neck.

Jondy giggled. "You were taking too long." The smile fell from her face as she noticed the three armed soldiers standing guns raised in front of them. "What the hell is going on?"

Edward grinned at the startled redhead. "Oh come on Jessica. You didn't really think that I would fall for that 'I work out and that's why I'm stronger than your average woman' line, did you?" He brushed his hand down her cheek and chuckled when she flinched. "You certainly gave me a run for my money that last time we spent the night together."

"Time to go." One of the soldiers grabbed Jondy by the arm and pulled her off of Edward to her feet. "She's waiting."

Thinking quickly, Jondy swung around kneeing the solider in the groin. Grabbing his gun she fired it three times, taking all three soldiers out before they had time to react. As she turned back towards Edward, she heard a shot fire out, then she felt the burning in her side.

"I've been asked to bring you in alive, but I don't have to, Jess." Edward looked her up and down. "Of course, I could spare you an hour or two if you want to convince me not to turn you in." His eyes moved back to her face. "You know I'll make it worth your while." He grinned, self-satisfied.

Jondy held her bleeding side and glared at the six foot four tall man in front of her. "Sure, I'll give you something to remember me by." Flicking the gun up into her hand, she fired low.

Edward fell to the ground grasping his groin, screaming. There was a look of complete amazement on his face. When Jondy walked up to where he was lying on the floor, amazement turned to fear.

Jondy grabbed the phone book off of the table beside the door and slung the soldiers' guns over her shoulder. "First of all, you were never worth my while and second..." She picked her coat off of the floor, wincing from the pain from the wound in her side as she put in on. "Even the pizza delivery boy turns me on at the moment." With that she walked out the door and across to a door that said stairs. The neighbors would have called the police when the gunshots had started ringing out. Careful not to mark the pages of the phone book with her bloodied hand, Jondy looked up Logan's address in the phone book. Leaving the phone book on the stairs, she made her way, step by step, out of the building and onto the darkened streets. "Logan Cale, whoever you are, I hope you don't go to sleep early." Jondy pulled her coat tighter around her sleek body.

"Logan!" Bling found his friend seated in front of his computer starring at a photo of Max, as he had done so many nights lately. "You need anything, cause I'm heading off."

Logan shook his head, looking up long enough to smile goodbye. "No. I'm fine. See you tomorrow."

Bling watched him for a moment before heading for the door. "Yeah. See you tomorrow." He missed Max too, but he had seen the sparks between Max and Logan, long before they had.

Logan heard the door close behind Bling. He put the photo aside and started to work on his computer. Hours had gone by when he realized that his head was so full of thoughts of Max, that he really wasn't accomplishing much. Switching the screen off, he saw a reflection in the blank monitor. Spinning around in his chair he came face to face with a strange woman leaning back against the table, which had been behind him. "Who are you? How did you get in here?"

The woman had a long royal blue coat on, which was hanging open. The dress she wore was lavender, which along with her coat made her eyes seem the same colour as the sky on a clear day. Her long red hair flowed over her shoulders, bright against her pale skin. "Your window's broken." Her English accent seemed to fit her whole appearance perfectly.

"Yeah, I've been meaning to get that fixed." Logan gestured to her outfit. "You climbed up here in that outfit?" He noticed that she had a pair of high heels in her hand. "And carrying those?"

The woman smiled at him. "What can I say: I'm a multi functional woman. Are you Logan Cale? Cause if you aren't, I climbed up here for nothing, not to mention, ruined a perfectly good dress."

"I'm Logan. I still don't know who you are though or why you are here." There was something unsettling about the petite redhead. Logan stood with the help of the exo-skeleton he had not yet taken off. He wasn't sure if it was his imagination or not, but the woman seemed to be getting paler and paler by the minute. "Are you alright, Miss?"

"I'm fine." She looked Logan straight in the eye. "Max says to say hi." And then she collapsed on the wooden floor, her coat falling open to show the bloodstain on her lavender dress.

Logan rushed into the bathroom and grabbed a couple of towels and soaked a washcloth. Kneeling down beside the unconscious woman, he picked up the cordless phone and dialed a number. Tucking the phone under his chin, he started to gently roll the woman over. The back of her dress was also stained and her hair had fallen aside to reveal her barcode. Logan heard the phone on the other end of his call get picked up. "Hey. It's Logan. Can you get over here? I think one of your sisters has just collapsed on my floor." He put the phone down on the floor beside him after hanging up the call. The possibility of Max being alive was mind blowing.

Ripping the material of the woman's dress, Logan carefully cleaned the wound. Strangely enough, he wasn't surprised to find it was a bullet wound. The bullet appeared to have gone straight through and luckily hadn't hit any major organs. Logan looked up as he heard the sound of his door being opened and a few seconds later Krit and Syl came into view. "Does she look familiar?" He moved aside so that they could both see the woman's face.

"Jondy!" Krit raced to his sister's side. "How did she know where to find you?" He looked over at Logan.

"She said 'Max says hi' just before she collapsed." Logan stood and stepped back so that Syl could move beside Jondy. "What's with the accent?"

Syl stroked her sister's hair. "Jondy changed her accent after we escaped so that it would be harder to find her. Lydecker wasn't looking for twelve British kids. He was looking for twelve American kids." Syl looked over at her brother, her face full of hope. "If Jondy got a message from Max here, she must of seen her. That means she's alive."

Krit frowned. "How? Logan and Lydecker said she died in Logan's arms. Logan saw her injuries."

"Logan is still in the room." Logan rolled his eyes. He started to pace. "I'm no doctor, but to survive the injury I saw, Max would have had to had a heart transplant. Something tells me a transplant into a X5 would be even more difficult than one into your average human."

Krit shook his head. "Zack never came back, remember. You said Jondy mentioned Max, did she say anything about Zack?"

"I never saw Zack." Jondy opened her eyes. "I only saw Max. I got worried when none of you checked in, so I got a guy to take me out to dinner near Manticore and got a visual of Max from up a tree." She stood with the help of Krit and Syl.

"So you got shot while up the tree?" Logan gestured to the sofa so that they could all sit down.

"No. I got shot when we went back to his place for sex. Bastard set me up." She was so matter of fact about it that Logan had to laugh.

"Haven't you ever heard of safe sex?" Logan walked into his room and grabbed a bathrobe. Jondy's dress was pretty shredded and he didn't know if she would go into shock.

"Yes, but I like to live dangerously." Jondy matched his wit with her own. "Max sent me here. I pretty much figured while I was lying on your floor that you were under the impression that she was dead."

"It could be a trick." Syl ran her hand through her long blond hair. "It wouldn't be the first time Manticore has tried to trick us."

Krit looked at Jondy thoughtfully. "If it were anyone else, I'd agree with you. Nobody was closer to Max than Jondy, not even Zack."

Logan watched Jondy. "You're sure it was Max." Every part of him wanted it to be true, but experience made him cautious.

Jondy's big blue eyes were deadly serious. "I know it was Max."

Syl looked over at Krit. "Looks as though we're going back to Manticore." She glanced at her watch. "No time tonight. Besides we need more weapons and a way to get rid of those X7s that Lydecker was talking about."

Krit nodded. "It would help if Jondy was in on the action as well." He put his arm around his sister's shoulder. "That's a pretty bad wound you've got there. Are you going to be up for it?"

Jondy nodded. "She'd do the same for me. Just get me a place to crash, I don't think I can go back to where I was originally going to stay. I think I wore out my welcome."

"You can stay here." Logan didn't want the only link he had to Max, too far away. "I'll sleep on the sofa."

"Do you think you can keep your hands off of him, Sis?" Krit smirked. He knew his sister well enough to tell what that look on her face meant.

"Being shot is sort of a painful equivalent of a cold shower." Jondy stood slowly. "Speaking of which, can I use your shower?"

Logan nodded and pointed towards the bathroom. "Careful you don't start that wound bleeding again." He waited for Jondy to leave the room. "Are you sure she'll be in any condition to break into Manticore?"

Krit nodded. "Max and Jondy were the closest thing Manticore had to twins--the way they think, the way they feel, the way they fight. They would walk over hot coals for each other no matter what condition they were in."

Syl nodded. "Can you find out whereabouts in Manitcore they're holding Max? We need all the edge we can get."

Logan nodded. "I'll get started first thing in the morning. If news of Jondy's activities tonight have gotten out, Manticore will be stepping up their security measures.

Logan rolled over and pulled the blankets around him. It was no good, he couldn't sleep when he knew Max was trapped inside that place. Rubbing his eyes, Logan sat up and eased his legs off of the sofa. He glanced out the window and saw Jondy sitting on the windowsill, still wrapped up in his robe. "Couldn't sleep either?"

Jondy looked at him over her shoulder. "I only sleep when I'm ill. Why don't you use your own bed."

"Max only sleeps when she's ill as well." Logan was relieved to see that Jondy had some colour back in her face.

Jondy eyes searched his face. "She knows that you'll get her out of there. She'll be able to sense it." She smiled at the confused look on Logan's face. "When Max loves, she loves with her whole heart. You're a lucky man."

Max knew Jondy had found Logan. She could feel his relief when he had found out she was alive. Now all they had to do was figure out a way to get her out of here. For some reason the security had been doubled tonight. Max smiled to herself. Jondy always did make her presence known without meaning to. The sun would be up soon and someone would come to fetch Max for the next load of tests. All Max had to do was stay strong through the next twenty-four hours. Max knew Jondy wouldn't risk leaving her in here any longer than that. The ultimate betrayal that Max felt was seeing child versions of herself and the other escaped X5s watching her as if she were the enemy. Seeing a child copy of Zack while the heart of the original beat in her own chest was like a nightmare that she couldn't awaken from.

Memories of herself and Jondy played over and over in her head, when she wasn't thinking of Logan. Jondy had always been so timid and unsure of herself. Only Max had caught glimpses of her true strength. Family: That's what kept Jondy strong. Lydecker had always considered the pale little girl their weakest link. But even he came to realize that she was effective as a distraction whenever they needed one. When Max felt frightened and alone, Jondy had been there for her. It had always been a friendship that worked both ways until they had escaped and become separated.

Max could hear the guards marching down the hall to fetch her. The tests were meaningless to her while she was still recovering from the surgery. A lot of blood tests were being done with no reasons given. She had to wonder if they were trying to keep her in a weakened state, to prevent her from escaping. Boy, was Manticore in for a shock when her family came to get her.

Max saw Brin pass her doorway. She had remained aloof and distant since Max had been there. Brin refused to believe that Lydecker wasn't responsible for Tinga's death. Max supposed that she couldn't blame Brin for that. Lydecker didn't exactly inspire loyalty. As much as Max hated to face the facts, Brin was no longer the sister that she loved and had escaped with. The part that hurt the most was, Max knew there would come a time she would have to destroy Brin in order to keep herself and her family alive.

"Rise and shine, Sweetheart. The boss lady wants to see you." The guards were smart enough to follow orders and put Max in restraints, but not smart enough to acknowledge that the beautiful young woman in front of them could still kill both of them with her hands tied behind her back. Literally. "Nice to see you made yourself presentable for our visit." The guard would pay dearly for his sarcasm later. Max's hair was a tangled mess as nobody would risk giving her anything that could be used as a weapon.

The guard pushed Max towards the door with no concern for her injuries. Max memorized every corridor, room, surveillance camera, anything that could help her get out. Her main problem would be getting over the fence. Although security had been doubled, the guards seemed to see no reason to be alarmed--probably because of the presence of the X7s. One of the guards yanked Max into an office and pushed her in front of the blond who had murdered Tinga.

"I see you are recovering well." Renfro smiled kindly even though she knew Max would not believe that her concern was sincere. "You seem to be accepting your brother's heart. Just as well as he was so quick to give his life to spare yours." She knew her comments would unsettle Max.

"Funny. I heard he offered your heart first, but they couldn't find it." Max was more than prepared to trade barbs with this bitch.

Renfro, however had not been prepared for Max's comeback. Her smile faded quickly. "Well, it appears you are well enough to go back to training. Take her to join the others for reprogramming." She stood and turned to look out of the window. It had only taken a few weeks to reprogram Brin. Max was in a weaker condition, she seriously doubted it would take more than a week at the most.

Again the guard pushed Max towards the door and down yet another sterile corridor. They stopped at the door to a classroom and shoved Max into a seat, but didn't remove her restraints. "Here's another one for you." Turning, the guard left Max in a room full of child soldiers. The faces of her brothers and sisters flashing on the wall in front of her with the words betrayal, traitor, and enemy flashing between the photos.

Max cleared her mind and focused above the flashing photos and started to run the words of the poem that Logan had written about her through her head. When she got to the point where the poem seemed to recite in her head automatically, Max tapped into her memories of the wedding Logan had taken her to. She followed them with memories of the first time she had kissed him outside his family's cabin, thinking that it was goodbye. Much as Zack had wanted her to, she couldn't leave Logan. The last time they had kissed, when Zack had interrupted them. Max stifled a smile. It had been like being caught making out in your father's car, by your father. Or at least as close as she could imagine it would be like. She could keep this up forever. Manticore would never break her.

"Logan!" Bling walked into the apartment, surprised not to find Logan asleep at his computer.

"In the bathroom!" Logan's voice rang out above the classical music drifting through the rooms. "Come on in."

Bling halted to a stop when he saw Logan changing the dressing on the wound of a pale redhead. "I can come back later." The young woman had on a black pair of jeans, a crop top and one of Logan's shirts over the top, which she was holding out of the way so that Logan could work on her wounds.

Logan looked up from where he was seated in his wheelchair. "No, it's fine. Jondy, this is Bling. Bling, this is Max's sister, Jondy." He grabbed a roll of bandage and started wrapping it around her waist. "Are you sure about this, Jondy? You could start bleeding again."

"I'll be fine. Just strap me up tight. I have to get over a fence tonight." Jondy never took her eyes off Bling. "Is he going to help us?"

"Help you what?" Bling was quite taken aback with the young woman. He wasn't sure what to make of her. She looked about the same age as Max, with the same take charge attitude that Max seemed to carry with her. The English accent threw him though. "I take it I don't even want to know how you got that wound."

"Max is alive and still at Manticore. We're breaking her out tonight." Logan taped the end of the bandage and rolled himself into the living room. Krit and Syl would be there soon and he was anxious to get started. "Any ideas on how to trap a load of kids with guns?"

Jondy sat down on the sofa. "They'll be able to spot us a mile away. The ace up our sleeve that we still have, is the folks at Manticore are under the impression that we all think Max is dead. They won't be expecting us."

"They weren't expecting you the last time." Bling seated himself opposite Logan. "Those kids got out. You told me yourself, Logan, that you had them trapped in a room and they broke out."

Krit and Syl strolled into the room, backpacks in hand. "Will nerve gas keep you happy?" Krit tossed a pack to Jondy. "We found some on our way home last night." He grinned at his redheaded sister. "And we thought of you."

Jondy returned his grin. "I'm touched." She stood and looked over at Logan. "Want to go and visit a friend in the hospital?"

Logan frowned. "Don't you think the police will be looking for you. You shot three soldiers last night."

Jondy shrugged her shoulders. "So I'll borrow a nurse's uniform. Besides I'm curious as to why I got such a warm welcome. In heat or not, I'm not into fivesomes."

"Curiosity killed the cat, little sister." Syl eyed her sister nervously.

"Meow." Jondy headed for the door with Logan wheeling himself behind her.

"So that's your sister?" Bling stared in amazement in the direction Jondy and Logan had gone.

Krit nodded. "Yeah, that's her. Just like Max. Won't listen to reason when she's got her mind made up."

Logan shook his head as Jondy wheeled him down the hospital corridor. "Could you have found a uniform that was any smaller for you."

Jondy giggled. "No. Tell me though: How many men in this hospital do you suppose will be able to give an accurate description of me? Keep your face down. We don't want to show up on the monitors."

Logan chuckled. "Have you done this before by any chance? Who's this friend we're visiting anyway?"

"The bastard who shot me." Jondy turned the wheelchair into a room and closed the door behind her. "Guard the door."

Logan wheeled his chair back against the door. "Whatever you're going to do, do it quick. We still have to get ready for tonight." He kept his voice to a whisper knowing Jondy's feline hearing would still pick up his voice.

There were only two beds in the room and one of them was empty. Jondy moved quietly over to the man sleeping in the bed nearest the window. Leaning close to his ear, she kept her voice low. "Hello Lover. Miss me."

The man's eyes flew open. As he went to yell for help, Jondy clamped her hand over his mouth. Logan watched the whole scene from his chair blocking the door. The man looked terrified of Jondy.

"I'd keep my voice done if I were you." Jondy slowly uncovered Edward's mouth. "I want a few answers from you. Why did you set me up? What could Manticore possibly have to offer a useless creature like you?"

"Money." Edward's voice was panicked. "When you left the first time, a notice went out over the net, if anyone could shed any light on some people with barcodes on the back of their necks. Some sort of soldiers it said. I remembered that mark on the back of your neck and sent through a message. Two days later some blond turned up on my doorstep and offered me a lot of money if I let her know when you contacted me." The fear slowly faded from Edwards face. "So when you called me and said you wanted to hook up, I phoned through to the number she had given me." He grinned. "Thought we had time for a little fun first. After all, you are very talented in the sack, Jessica."

Jondy smiled down at Edward. "I know. But you're not." She walked around the bed and headed for the door.

"What the hell is that doing here?" Jondy and Logan looked over at the window at the sound of Edward's voice. Floating outside the window was a hover drone. Logan opened the door and gently pushed Jondy out of it in front of him. "We've gotta go. Now."

They were only a few steps down the corridor when the hover drone started firing into the hospital room. Logan and Jondy kept moving until they found the supply closet that Jondy had left her clothes in. Logan guarded the door while she changed.

"What the hell happened in there?" Jondy opened the door and glanced down the corridor.

"The hover drone has been modified to kill using a photograph of its target. Doesn't look as though your friend was ever going to get his money." Logan looked up at Jondy. "Better bring that nurse's uniform along. It might come in handy later."

Jondy grinned as she handed the uniform to him to put in a bag he had strapped to his wheelchair. "You're not kinky, are you?"

Logan couldn't help but smile. "That's not what I had in mind for it." He pushed the wheels on his chair as Jondy walked beside him. "What exactly were that guy's injuries?"

Jondy held the door open so Logan could wheel past her. "Oh, I shot Edward in the general groin area." Her expression changed to mock innocence at the sight of Logan's shocked face. "Well, he shot me first."

Logan shook his head as they both moved towards his car. "Well, I guess you got your revenge." It still surprised him, how Manticore had managed to package a killing machine in such an unthreatening form such as Max and Jondy. "Why did he call you Jessica?"

Jondy moved to the other side of Logan's car and waited for him to unlock it. "I pretty much guessed Lydecker would check anyone using the names we had given each other. I saw the name Jessica on the front of a book and thought it sounded pretty, so I used it." She climbed into the car and shut the door. Looking past Logan at the hospital, a wistful look crossed her face. "By the way, revenge ain't as sweet as it's supposed to be."

Logan had seen that exact look on Max's face so many times. "So, did you get the information you were looking for, cause I didn't get anything out of your little conversation." He turned his attention onto getting the car started.

Jondy raised an eyebrow. "Well, Edward still didn't know who I really am. He was just in it for the sex and the money. Manticore obviously doesn't know where to find any of us, if they had to put out a notice on the web, then wait for one of us to slip up and make contact." A frown crossed her pretty face. "How did they find Max?"

Logan pulled the car out onto the road and started driving towards his apartment. "She has an implant in her head. Manticore was tracking the implant." He shook his head when Jondy opened her mouth to speak. "Long story, don't ask. So I guess if Manticore still doesn't know how to find you, we still have an element of surprise."

Jondy nodded. "Of course, if we could get our hands on some bullet proof vests, that would be an added bonus."

Logan grinned. "I may be able to help you there. Let me make a phone call when we get back to my place."

Max sat in her cell watching the guards pacing back and forth along the fence line. Even if Jondy and Logan got over the fence and past the guards, Max wasn't sure she could make it back over the fence herself. Max shook her head, she couldn't start thinking like that. She was getting out of here tonight. She had someone out there waiting for her this time. She wasn't going to end up alone. Max smiled to herself, she just wished she had something better to wear. God knows what sort of mess she looked like at the moment.

Logan looked at the people joining him around the table in his apartment. Jondy, Krit and Syl would actually go into Manticore. Jondy had lifted the guns off of the soldiers she had killed the night before. None of the three X5s wanted to kill the X7 children, but the guns had a taser setting so if they had to, they could stun the X7s long enough to get away. The threesome looked so young to Logan, that it seemed so unfair that they had, had to live their lives running and fighting. Logan had managed to convince Matt at the police station to lend him some bulletproof vests. Jondy would go in wearing two, so that she had a spare for Max.

Bling would track the implant in Max's head from the van they had stolen the last time they broke into Manticore.

Logan would tap into Manticore's computer and camera systems, as he had been before also from the van. He had also contacted Original Cindy, who would be standing by in Logan's car as an alternative escape route.

The only down side to their plan was that the X5s wanted to blow the power grid in the center of Manticore. One way or another, they wanted Manticore shut down for good. It meant however that Logan wouldn't have a visual on any of them once the explosions were detonated.

"But you'll still have contact with them on the coms right." Original Cindy was not down with their plan either, but she knew how much Max wanted to be able to stop running."

Logan nodded. "Yeah, but I still don't like it. That aside, make sure you all tell me where you are at all times." He wheeled himself into his room to put the exo-skeleton on. He needed to be mobile if anything went wrong.

Krit and Syl had managed to obtain enough explosives from the army barracks at the other side of town. Jondy and Max would have to rely on their brother and sister to help them over the fence. They had no idea what condition Max was in and Jondy, although Logan had strapped her up well, was still their weak link because of her injury. It was one thing to get her into Manticore, it was another if her body didn't hold up long enough to get her out.

Jondy strapped the second vest on and grabbed her backpack. "Let's go get our sister then."

As it got darker, the three X5s moved through the forest and up into the trees, where Jondy had been the night before. Max was still in the same room and waiting. She spotted the threesome straight away. Keeping her hand signals low as before, Max gave her family the positions of the guards in the Manticore grounds.

Krit moved in first. Leaping over the fence he landed on two of the guards, knocking them both to the ground. A couple of well delivered kicks later, the guards were unconscious. Krit signaled for Jondy to come over next while the way was clear. Catching her as she landed so that her body didn't take the full impact of hitting the ground, he then signaled for Syl.

Moving quietly through the grounds, the three of them disposed of the six guards round the Manticore fortress. "Looks as though we're going in the front door this time." Syl checked the way was clear before waving the other two in.

"We're in. Which way are we heading?" Krit glanced down the corridor to his left. "We've got a few choices, Logan."

Bling's voice came over the coms. "The corridor on your right leads down to the infirmary. Looks like that's where they've got Max."

"If you go straight ahead, it'll lead you straight to the power generator." Logan checked all of the monitors. "And you're all clear."

"I'll get Max, you guys take out the generator and the power grid." Jondy took a step to her right. "Bling, can you get a visual on Max?"

Bling hit a couple of keys on the keyboard. The screen flickered briefly and then a picture flashed up. "Got her. Looks like she's expecting you." Bling grinned at Logan. "Now isn't that a sight to behold."

Logan nodded as he watched Max pace back and forth in the small room. "Now all we have to do is bring her home."

"I'm working on it." Jondy jogged down the corridor, checking the rooms as she went. "I don't want to tempt fate, guys, but why are so many of these rooms empty?" She paused and looked around the corner. "Damn. Guards right in front of Max's room."

"Find her a supply closet." Logan's eyes left the monitor for only a second. "Jondy, I packed something extra for you." He went back to focusing on Krit and Syl. "Krit, Syl. Unfriendlies on your left. Looks like five of them." Seconds later, all five were on the ground.

"Damn." Bling spotted Jondy wheeling a trolley towards the infirmary, dressed in the nurse's uniform she had stolen from the hospital earlier that day. "What did she do, pour herself into that dress?"

The guards stepped aside to let Jondy in the room. "You want one of us to go in with you? This one's supposed to be dangerous."

Jondy smiled sweetly. "Would you mind? I have to take her meds." She waited for one of the guards to walk in the room and then pushed the trolley in ahead of her. She knocked a scalpel on the floor and waited for the guard to bend down to pick it up. While the guard was busy checking out her long legs she caught Max's eye and looked down at the trolley in front of her. She had mainly dumped anything that she could find in the supply closet on the trolley. However, she had deliberately picked up the chloroform bottle.

Max nodded that she understood. As she grabbed the bottle of chloroform and emptied it onto some dressings, Jondy grabbed the guard and held him still for her. Max stepped back long enough to let the guard drop to the ground and then leapt forward to hug her sister. "Boy, are you a sight for sore eyes." She looked down at Jondy's outfit. "Nice outfit. You been shopping in the kiddie's section again?"

Jondy grinned and pulled her backpack out from under the trolley. "Got you a present, Sis." She pulled out a set of coms for Max and a handed her, her gun. "Set the gun on taser. We might need to use it on those kids I saw running around the grounds the other night. I hear they're not too friendly." Jondy, like Max, hated guns and would only use them if given no choice. The taser would only stun and render its target unconscious, not kill it. She started undoing the uniform. Underneath the already tight uniform she had been wearing two bulletproof vests. Quickly she unstrapped one and tossed it to Max, who was watching the guard outside the door. Pulling her clothes that she had originally worn on, she jammed the uniform back into her bag and pulled the backpack onto her back. "Time to go home. Krit, Syl, how are you going?"

Krit armed the last of the explosives. "We're done. Meet you at the front door." He headed back the way they had come in.

Syl grabbed her brother's arm. "What's wrong with this picture?" She was looking out a window into the grounds. It looked as though every guard on the grounds were heading to the left side of the building.

"Guys." Original Cindy's voice came over the coms. "I don't know if this is any interest to you, but two trucks just turned up at the front gate and they look like they're pretty full of G.I. Joes."

"Damn." Logan hit a few keys on the keyboard. "She's tapped into our loops." The screen flickered in front of him and he saw Renfro heading towards the infirmary. The guards and the X7s had been alerted to Jondy's presence, but they seemed unaware of Krit and Syl. "Krit, Syl. Can you get to Max and Jondy. They've been made."

"We're on our way." Krit broke into a run with Syl right beside him. "Are you sure we're clear?"

Logan checked and double checked. "Turn right 100 meters up that corridor and you should miss the troops coming in the front door."

Bling checked the screen for a way out for the two women. "The only way out is back the way you came. It looks like they're waiting for you."

Max and Jondy grabbed their guns. "Well I've had enough of Hotel Manticore. Show me the way home, my sister." Max threw the door open and stood aside for her sister to get a clear shot with the taser.

"Let's go. I have a date in an hour." Jondy checked up the corridor before moving out. "Bling, how far ahead are we clear?"

"Stay put and take cover. We're in the next corridor down." Krit picked up speed, as he rounded the corner. He and Syl jumped for cover as a group of X7s opened fire on them.

"You should have waited for Bling to answer my question." Jondy snapped as she lent out of the doorway long enough to get a couple of shots off.

"How's it look out there?" Max braced herself behind Jondy in the doorway.

"I'd say, about twenty kids with guns and some blond watching the whole thing." Jondy shrugged. "We've had worse. Know who the blond is?"

"Renfro." Max switched her weapon form taser to gun. 'That's the bitch that killed Tinga." She shouldered her weapon. "Cover me. It's payback time." Max swung around and fired directly at Renfro while Jondy threw herself to the floor and started firing at the X7s.

Renfro went flying backwards, her lung punctured, while the X7s kept firing at Jondy and Max, like machines.

"Krit, Syl. Blow the power generator and grid." It was the only thing Logan could think of to get them out.

Krit pulled the detonators out of his bag and handed one to Syil. "On three. One, two, three."

The explosions shook the whole building knocking the unsuspecting X7s off of their feet.

"Now!" Max's yell could be heard echoing off the walls and the corridors. Switching her gun back to taser, the four X5s opened fire. Caught off guard, the X7s didn't have time to retrieve the weapons they had lost grip of in the explosion.

"Let's get out of here now!" Syl couldn't help but wonder how long the X7s would actually stay out. 'I don't want those little bastards to be able to move while we're still in the building." She tossed a can of nerve gas into the corridor.

"I heard that." Max cautiously moved pass the children lying on the floor. "I've had enough of Manticore's hospitality." She paused as they passed Renfro grasping her chest, struggling for a breath. "That's for Tinga." She held her breath as she moved on through the dark and smoke.

Each of the four X5s glared at Renfro as they stepped over her on their way out. They got to the end of the corridor and saw that their exit was blocked by a group of soldiers.

"Logan. Have we got another way out?" Max slowly backed up with Jondy beside her. "Cause we've got a whole load of gate crashers to our little party."

"Max, we just blew up the power grid and generator. Logan can't guide us out." Krit started edging back as well.

"So let's go through them." Syl stopped her brother. "No power, no lights. We can see them, better than they can see us, remember. Besides I still have this." She held up another can of nerve gas.

Krit looked at his younger two sisters. "Are you two up for this?"

Max was confused. She understood why Krit might be concerned for her health, but what was wrong with Jondy. She looked over at her sister. "You alright?"

"I'm up for this if you are." Jondy grinned at her sister. She would explain later when they were a safe distance away.

"Let's do it." Max pushed aside her concerns and concentrated on the task at hand. She grabbed the can of gas and tossed it at the soldiers.

Krit and Syl led the way. Because of their advantage the X5s used their guns like bats, swinging them in the mid sections of their opponents. With it being so dark, the soldiers were tripping over their fellow officers. One unfortunately got a lucky blow into Jondy's side. Screaming with pain, she doubled over holding her side. Jerking her head up, a look of grim determination on her face, she lunged up, her free hand clenched in a fist and drove it up between the soldiers legs. The man went down like a ton of bricks.

Max rushed forward and put her arm around Jondy's waist, careful to avoid jerking her too much. She signaled to the others and made her way out the front door. As they got to the fence she stopped. "Sorry guys. There's no way Jondy and I are going to make it over the fence."

"I don't think we're going to have to." Jondy was watching Logan's car fast approaching the front gate. She signaled to Krit and Syl. "Go. I think we just got Dial-a-Driver."

Krit and Syl nodded as Original Cindy drove Logan's car straight through the front gate and screeched to a stop right in front of Max and Jondy. "Hey, sugar. Need a lift."

"Hell yes." Max helped Jondy into the back of the car and then jumped into the front. "Go." She slammed the door shut as Original Cindy floored the gas pedal and sped out the front gate into the night.

"You know, Boo, you scared the hell out of all of us. Don't ever die again." Original Cindy shot her friend a stern look.

"Krit and Syl?" Jondy unstrapped her vest to get a look at her wound. "Are they safe?"

Max looked over her shoulder at her sister, who was obviously in extreme pain. "You came in after me with a gapping hole in your side. Are you nuts?"

Jondy gave Max a "You've gotta be kidding me" look. "It didn't say so on my psych evaluation. But there is always the possibility. Logan, have Krit and Syl made it back to you guys?"

"Yeah." Logan slammed the door to the van as soon as Krit and Syl had jumped in. "See you soon." He climbed into the passenger's side and shut the door. "Let's get outta here." Bling floored the gas pedal. "No problem." They sped off through the dark. "Anybody injured?" He kept his eyes on the road but he and Logan had both heard someone scream out in pain over the coms. Logan tensed up at Bling's question. He hadn't wanted to ask incase it had been Max. He couldn't face loosing her again.

Krit shook his head after confirming with Syl that she was fine. "We're fine, but I think Jondy took a blow to her side. She didn't look too good when she and Max got into your car with Original Cindy."

Syl nodded in agreement. "We'll have to find somewhere safe for her to stay. She can't travel like that."

"We'll find somewhere." Logan promised. He felt a slight twinge of guilt that he was so relieved that Max wasn't the one hurt. "I know of a couple of places she can stay once we've patched her up."

"I don't know, Boo, I think Bling was starting to get worried about the way your sister here was eyeing him up like some dessert." Original Cindy bathed Jondy's wound while Max was in the shower. 'You're probably lucky she kept her paws off of Logan."

"Logan was always safe from me." Jondy winced from her seat on Logan's coffee table. "It's a sister thing. When I broke in here, I found Logan staring at a photo of Max. I pretty much worked out for myself, he was off limits."

Max walked out of the bathroom wearing Logan's bathrobe, her hair wrapped up in a towel. "You've had quite a couple of nights, haven't you?" She sat down beside Original Cindy, her face serious as she watched Jondy. "There's something I have to tell you about Zack."

"It's his heart that beats in your chest." Jondy smiled at Max's surprise. "We all pretty much figured that out when Zack didn't come back and I spotted you walking around. Logan told us what injuries he saw." She reached out and squeezed her sister's hand. "Zack wouldn't have had it any other way. We know that."

Max smiled at her sister through her tears. "I'd hug you but at this point it would probably not be a good thing."

"Rain check?" Jondy giggled.

"Girl, I still can't believe you climbed up the side of this building with this hole in your side." Original Cindy shook her head. "Talk about girl power."

"Max!" Logan came bursting through the front door with the others close behind him. He halted to a stop at the sight of Jondy sitting on his coffee table being tended to by Original Cindy. "Everyone alright." He looked over at Max wrapped up in his bathrobe. At that moment he had never seen anything so beautiful.

Max nodded as she stood and walked over to Logan. Her memories weren't even close to how good the real thing looked to her. 'Nothing that can't be fixed."

Logan reached out and touched Max's face to reassure himself she was real. "God, I've missed you." He pulled her gently into her arms.

Original Cindy jerked her head towards the door. Silently Krit moved forward and picked up Jondy, while Syl grabbed her coat and along with Bling they all headed for the door.

Max looked over at the door when she heard it click shut. "Was it something we said?"

Logan looked over his shoulder and chuckled. "Subtle aren't they." He kissed the top of her head. "Come on. I'll get you something to eat." He stopped when she held onto his hand and didn't move. "Aren't you hungry?" He frowned. She was usually starving after events like they had, had tonight.

Max smiled at him. "Starving." She took a step closer, placing her hands either side of his face and gently pulled him down to her level. "I missed you too." She kissed him.

Logan carefully pulled her closer and deepened their kiss. It seemed like a lifetime since they had been this close. This time he was never letting go.

The End