Title: Clash of Arms

Author: Jade Hunter

Disclaimer: Dark Angel and all its characters and properties do not belong to me. However, some of the characters here a originals, and though I can't legally claim anything or anyone – since fanfiction itself is quite illegal – I would like it if people asked before using them.

A.N: This is the sequel to Remember to Forget and Breaking the News. Takes place after Freak Nation.

A.N.2: Well, I'm finally doing something with this again, though I'm not sure what. My plans for it have changed somewhat.

As he watched a few transgenics mill around aimlessly – some looking lost, others frustrated – in the main lobby of Headquarters, Alec felt a shiver of unease flow through him.

When it came down to it, Terminal City had been an excellent idea. Transgenics of all shapes and sizes roamed comfortably in the sector, many of them elated to be amongst their own kind. Interactions with others were polite, in the crisp and abrupt manner they were most comfortable with, and, for the most part, there was little to no conflict between individuals.

The main problem came from a certain group of transgenics – highly influential, if not large in number.

The group of problematic transgenics ranged from X series to anomalies to others specifically engineered for maximum survival in one type of extreme climate or another. They had two things in common; they were all transgenics, and they were all primary alphas or secondary alphas, from both genders.

It was no surprise that Terminal City housed them – alphas, that is. With the population increasing every day, it made sense, especially since the survival rate for alphas was higher than that of normal transgenics, having been bred for leadership.

Created for that specific purpose.

The primaries were the actual alphas, the Commanding Officers back in Manticore. Secondaries had, of course, been the 2ICs, back up if the primaries fell in battle or became unfit for duty in the field. Thirty transgenics had made up a unit; each unit had two primary alphas, male and female, and two secondary alphas, also a male and female, leading them at all times.

The source of their leadership instincts was not in any of the extra training they received – it was in their genes.

Whatever animal DNA they had in their cocktails, they had the best of the best. If they had wolf DNA, they had the alpha DNA. If they had feline DNA, they had the DNA from the most dominant cats. It was in their very instincts to be more aggressive, in order to protect their units, their prides, their packs.

The more common soldiers – soldiers like Alec, Gem, Dalton, Dix, and the rest – couldn't understand why transgenics like Mole seemed so eager to fight. They knew that the former leaders felt it, but couldn't fully comprehend the reasons for it, couldn't understand why they didn't resist and suppress their instincts.

Also known was that the alpha group did not like Terminal City being led by Max. It wasn't that she was an '09er – though many of the other transgenics didn't like this fact at all – or even because she toted around those ordinaries.

It was because she was underqualified.

So she made a pretty speech; big fat fucking deal. What counted was action, and, so far, Max had done little to nothing to improve their situation.

They were running low on supplies and barely had adequate power and water. The majority of the citizens of Terminal City were feeling useless as well, since Max only trusted the few people in her private group of friends to go out on supply runs, which increased the lack of supplies problem. She also preached constantly about not harming ordinaries, something many transgenics openly scoffed at, and talked about learning how to be "normal" and what to do to "fit in".

The alphas did not like this; they were transgenics and damn proud of it, even if they hated the fact that they had been enslaved, for all intents and purposes, for most of their lives. They didn't want to change the way they were, or to behave like an ordinary, because they, like all people, had an inherent need to be accepted for who they truly were.

With these disgruntled feelings, the alphas spread their dissent amongst the ranks with the speed of a brush fire. It was easy, for the most part, to convince others into seeing their way, as most transgenics had been under their commands for years.

It was a subtle effort, though not invisible, yet something Max was completely oblivious to. She had escaped before the alphas had truly established themselves, had only grown up with primaries and secondaries who had yet to come into their instincts and leadership. It was inconceivable to her that anyone would try to undermine her efforts as leader, because, to her, anyone could be a leader, if they had what it took.

She believed she had what it took.

The alphas knew that she did not.

It lay mostly on Alec to be the go-between, because of his situation as her sometimes-friend, sometimes-scapegoat. Still, Alec could not deny that the alphas had a point – a good one – and that they were quickly gaining more support every day.

There was a silent tension in Terminal City, a tension that grew stronger with each day that passed.

From her corner booth, Elsa picked at the meager remains of her very early breakfast. Though she wanted to keep moving, it was the small television mounted on the ceiling of the small roadside diner that made her linger. Her enhanced ears caught every word that the news reporter spewed out, and her sharp eyes picked out the little details in the scene of the report.

The reporter was just like any other, made up, sprayed, and powdered until no vestige of natural skin or hair color was visible. This one was female, which made things worse. However, she was also one of those news reporters that worked for the more respected channels – which meant the things she said and reported were probably true, though angled to draw in viewers.

"As dawn breaks on this, the third day of the siege at Terminal City, the situation is tense but unchanged. While several hundred transgenics remain barricaded inside the restricted area, police and National Guard stand an uneasy watch at the perimeter-each side seemingly waiting to see what the other will do next."

'So much for the Promised Land,' she thought wryly. It was great irony when the only safe haven for transgenics was surrounded by a horde of ordinaries, armed and willing – 'eager,' she amended – to use them

"You done with that, honey?"

Elsa glanced up at the middle-aged waitress that was standing at her table, her hair in vivid red curls, her peach uniform clashing badly with her lime green sneakers. Still, the woman wore a friendly smile on her face, not the least angry or irritated that she and her husband – the cook – had a customer so early in the morning.

For that, Elsa was grateful, and decided to mind her manners. "Yes," she replied. "Thank you."

Nodding, the waitress picked up the empty plate, balancing it expertly on one hand while she dug in the pocket of her apron for the bill. It was set down unobtrusively on the table, and the waitress slipped away, as quietly as she had come.

Well, quiet for a human, that is.

Picking up the check, Elsa eyed the amount she owed, and calculated how much that would take from her reserve of stolen money – or, what was left of it, since she had begun her trek to Seattle a week ago. Having no vehicle of her own, not wanting the trouble she'd eventually find if she stole someone's car or motorcycle, she had been making her way across the states by hitchhiking and walking. The reason she was taking far longer than she would have, had she access to some kind of transportation.

Still, the bill wasn't much, and she only ate once a day, to save her money. She would pay.

Leaving the bill on the table, Elsa dug into the pocket of her jeans and took out her wad of cash, which was significantly smaller than when she first got it.

She flipped until she found a five, then placed it on top of the check, along with two ones. After a moment, she took the ones back and laid down another five, in thanks for the friendly hospitality at a time when suspicions ran rampant, as well as an apology for coming in so early.

When the waitress had come back from depositing the dirty dish, all she found was the money and the bill, no young woman in sight.