Chapter 16 - Openly Wounded

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"Is this some kind of sick front where you warp people into believing what is a very fucked scenario?" Zack asked, or rather demanded from Logan. The name 'Donald Lydecker' still rang in his ears and his mind raced a mile a minute trying to figure out why the antichrist from his world had put a hit on a woman he didn't even know about.

"Only it's true." Logan defended, biting back a sigh at the X5's disbelief because he knew he had just suffered a tragic loss even if he was too hotheaded to admit it. They -Logan, Max, Zack and Jondy- were now all standing in Logan' living room while Bling was completing the self appointed task of shrouding Maria's body in sheets before Dr. Shankar was scheduled to pick her up.

"But that doesn't make any sense." Jondy agreed with her brother on the situation. "Lydecker never knew about Zack's relationship with Maria, and if he did why the hell would he even care?" She stared at Logan for a good three seconds, sensing there was something else to it that he hadn't said yet. "What else is there you're not telling us?"

This time Logan's sigh came out, but it was very small because he knew that she had figured it out. "I'm telling you that Maria wasn't an ordinary prostitute." He said the word 'prostitute' but knew it wasn't the right word as soon as it came out of his mouth. He just didn't know of another way to describe her identity to relate it to what he was about to tell them.

"She wasn't a prostitute!" Zack defended in full anger mode. The only woman he had cared for outside of his sisters had just died and Logan Cale had the nerve to call what she was forced to do prostitution. "Prostitution is what rich bastards like you do to little starving girls on the street."

Logan ignored this, he knew how hot-tempered Zack was and getting into an argument with him would lead nowhere. "That call Lydecker made to the bounty hunter wasn't to kill off some hired sexual partner he was embarrassed he paid for. It was the planned execution of one of the subjects from a Manticore project."

"You're dancing around me Cale," Zack growled. "Cut the crap and bring this waltz to a stop."

"Maria was what is known in Manticore as a Breeding Terminal," Logan said. "A project that pulled in homeless women, prostitutes, ex hookers, any woman that had no ties to anyone that would be looking for her if she disappeared. Manticore was running out of fertile eggs to continue their project because the early geneticists never even thought of collecting more then three or four eggs from every surrogate mother. So they hunted up more women off the street and grouped them together for this special project to continue the X5 line. After you escaped it crippled their combat units so much that they needed to pump out more officers in very quick time.

"Manticore has really messed up ways with getting its swerve on," Max hissed in a low voice.

Logan silently agreed with her but couldn't find anything to say that would even remotely take the edge off the situation. "After the ova were taken the women were sent back out from where they came from, or sold into prostitution to keep their existence low key. They were poor and uneducated so Lydecker and the others didn't see the need to execute them because no one would believe their stories. But a few months ago one of the women found a sympathetic journalist who believed her story enough to put it on the local news. Manticore caught wind of the leak and pulled out all the stops with their attack teams to stop it. The woman was found shot to death behind a strip club, and all the information on her story was destroyed. But their manpower risked exposing the project, so they hired local bounty hunters to do the job for them. That kid that attacked Maria was just one of the assassins Manticore paid off to erase all evidence of their project."

Zack still looked at Logan in shock at the new information. He hated Manticore with the passion of only those who lived through its hell could understand, but he still prided himself on knowing what went on there. "Are you sure any of this is even true?" His voice was angry, cynical.

"We'll know this afternoon when Dr. Shankar examines Maria's body. If I'm right the procedure to remove her ova will have left her completely sterile."

Max cringed at the mention of Maria being completely sterile. As a woman she understood the grotesque violation to have someone manually remove your chance to have children. Her cringe died a minute later and her eyes became hard. "When is Dr. Shankar doing this bitch?"

"I have it set up for this afternoon." Logan responded quietly, watching Zack leave the room in a swirl of conflicting emotions, but anger was at the top of those emotions.

Max watched him go, wanting to follow him, but not knowing what to say.

Logan focused his attention on her. "Are you okay?"

She snapped her head up to him. "How the hell am I supposed to be?" Her eyes were burning with an angry passion. "You just got through telling me that Maticore just killed the one person my brother loved outside of his family. And to top that bitch off they violated a woman in the most warped way I've ever heard of. I'm not okay about this Logan 'cause I'm a woman too and what they did to her is just sick."

Logan took a few tentative steps towards her but they became stronger as he got closer to her. He wrapped one arm behind her back and pulled her to him, quietly kissing her once on the forehead, then on the lips.

Max fell into the kiss; cupping his face with her hands, but three seconds later she pulled back. "I have to go talk to him." She pulled away from him and felt his eyes on her as she headed out after Zack.

She walked hurriedly down the hall and found her brother standing outside the opened front doorway leaning against the wall to wait for the elevator.

He caught sight of her looking at him and turned his head in a slow movement towards her. "How many more have to die for moments of weakness?"

"This wasn't your fault," Max took a tentative step towards Zack as if she were approaching a wild leopard that would bolt at the slightest hurried movements. "Don't blame yourself for falling in love with her. It's not what got her killed."

Zack's eyes turned cold, not at Max, but for the situation. "Then what did get her killed?" Max's answer to this was silence. The elevator dinged and he stepped inside it, still looking at her as they closed behind him.

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Zack was the only one in the elevator and after the car began its descent he stared blankly at the metal walls as the elevator's motors 'whooshed' around him. The car was small, larger then most because it serviced a luxury high-rise apartment building, but still a claustrophobic space just the same. His leaned against one of the walls, head tilted back like a weary traveler fed up with holding himself up under his own power.

He cast his eyes upward staring at the florescent lights set into the ceiling, not paying attention to the whizzing scenery that was visible through the window of the elevator whose track was set in a glass tube like structure that gave its riders a striking view of the Seattle Business district. Zack stared - un seeing - at the lights, not caring that they were harsh on his eyes.

His arms hung loosely by his side and below his feet were crossed in a lazy fashion, a stance that would make him look sexy to any woman who entered the car. But their desires would never be reciprocated because he had locked himself down like an Army base on red alert to keep out all outside emotions that would interfere with the way he wanted to feel.

The numbers on the panel slowly lit up as the elevator brought him closer to the ground floor of Fogle Towers. Those numbers however suffered a manual malfunction when his fist connected with the panel. The glass shattered off the display and sprayed around the floor.

Zack kicked away the broken glass and slid both hands through his hair as if he wanted to rip it out strand by strand. He turned around and launched his fury again, this time on the sidewall of the elevator and it sustained a dent in its metal walls from his attack. He whirled around again to the glass viewing wall, arm raised, as if he would destroy that side too, but his fist loosened and his hand instead reached out to take a hold of the wall to support himself as he dipped his head down squeezing his eyes shut but a few drops of moisture escaped anyway and landed like rain onto the shards of glass.

He raised his head and propelled himself back with his hand so that he was now standing beside the opposite metal wall. Once there he dropped in a crouched position with his hand laced behind his neck and cried.

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Playground school bell rings,again

Rain clouds come to play, again Has no one told you she's not breathing?

Hello, I'm your mind, giving you someone to talk to...hello.

If I smile and don't believe

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The elevator finally opened to the ground floor and when Zack got off he came face to face with two women in surgical scrubs carrying a gurney with a body bag on top of it. One of the women - Indian born with long brown hair that was pulled into a loose ponytail - studied Zack for a moment; almost like she was checking him out but then she spoke with a completely professional voice.

"Excuse me Sir, can you tell me if this elevator accesses the penthouse?"

Zack stared at the woman with no emotion; not even caring that she was pretty and that she had politely called him 'Sir' even thought hardly anyone did that anymore.

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Soon I know I'll wake from this dream

Don't try to fix me I'm not broken

Hello, I'm the lie living for you so you can hide...

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"Elevator's broken," Zack said shoving past Dr. Beverly Shankar and her assistant who looked on at the strange man as he slammed his way out of the glass door of the building.

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Don't cry

Suddenly I know I'm not sleeping

Hello, I'm still here, all that's left Of yesterday...

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The water was still in front of the dock as the lone figure waited impatiently checking his watch for the fifth time. The sun shown brightly over the water's surface as the man pulled out a cigarette from a pack in his pocket and lit it with a single blue tipped match. The man was middle aged, and handsome in an authoritative way. He stared out over the water while smoking not bothering to check his watch again because he already knew if his meeting didn't start soon there would be hell to pay.

"Sir!" a second man in a gray business suit walked briskly up to the figure on the dock, his open trench coat flapping around his legs. "Sorry for the delay Sir."

Donald Lydecker turned his head up to the balding man - a one Agent Sandoval - who looked at the Army Colonel with apologetic, but not embarrassed eyes.

"A delay Agent Sandoval is holding me up for five minutes. Twenty-five minutes a blatant disregard for your superior," Lydecker snapped coldly.

"Sir I-"

"Never mind the excuses," Lydecker cut in. "Just brief me on the situation."

"Someone intercepted the assignation of one of the girls." Sandoval explained.

"Is that all?" Lydecker growled. He was not at all happy that he had come for a meeting of no importance. "You drag me away from my work to tell me some kid with a hard on tried to save the damsel in distress because she was pretty enough for him to want to screw for himself?"

"It wasn't just some kid on the street Sir," Sandoval corrected. "The bounty hunter was attacked by one of Manticore, specifically an X5 Sir, one of yours -X5-599 I believe."

Lydecker absorbed this information putting his thumb and pointer finger under his chin to stroke and invisible beard. "Is this confirmed?"

"Yes Sir, positive ID was made by a Hover Camera that showed a small shadow on the back of the man's neck, it was fuzzy but the tech heads managed to bring it up to an identifiable barcode."

"Why would he risk exposing himself to save this girl?" Lydecker asked. "He was taught better then that."

"When the girl was brought into the project she was given a vaginal exam before her ova were harvested. Seamen was collected that matched the DNA of X5-599."

Lydecker looked shocked at Sandoval's information because it was something that happened months ago and he was never told about it. "And when did you plan to inform me of this Agent Sandoval?"

"It was something classified Colonel. Manticore personnel felt that you didn't need to know-"

"You're telling me everyone just saw it fit to leave me out of the loop about one of my kids screwing around with civilian women when she could have been manipulated to give information on him?" Lydecker was beyond pissed.

"No Sir," Sandoval corrected trying to sound like he believed what he said. "There was just never an appropriate time to let you in on this information."

Deck laughed, almost, rather it was a rush air that might be expected to emit from an exhaust fan. "That's a very civil way to say this department thinks I'm full of bull Agent Sandoval." He stared out over the waterfront, squinting his eyes to shield them from the sun. "But you wouldn't be the first one to underestimate my ability to do my job." Deck stopped looking over the rippling water and turned back to fix the partially balding man with a cold glare. "If X5-599 saw fit to compromise himself by whacking a pretty Spanish girl then I want to know why."

"Maybe you should ask him Sir," Sandoval stated.

Deck shot him with a cold glare that would've killed Sandoval had he not been use to such looks already. "I plan to."

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SEATTLE CITY MORGUE

SECTOR 8

"I can review my findings with you now if you like," Dr. Shankar stated peeling off her latex gloves and chucking them into a biohazard trash bin beside the autopsy table.

"It's not a matter of what we like," Max spoke up. She was standing beside the metal exam table where the body of Maria lay covered by a blue cloth.

A bright halogen light was turned on above the table and Dr. Shankar pulled it closer to the body and pulled off the blue sheet that shrouded it. Beverly Shankar was no stranger to brutal killings but after examining Maria's remains even she had to take a step back and the gruesome matter her body was left in.

"This guy was obviously very specialized in his field. There was no guess work involved in this-"
Dr. Shankar's intelligent female voice was steady and professional, but not out of being so detached from her patients that she saw them as mindless objects. Rather it was because she had to stay professional otherwise she wouldn't be able to finish what she had to say. She pointed to a large curved shaped laceration that started at the entrance of Maria's vagina, wrapped around her navel and ended midway down her right thigh. "This one slash struck the main artery that supplies blood to the uterus and vagina and it also slashed the femoral artery. This girl was lucky she lived as long as she did after the attack."

"Were there any eternal findings?" Logan asked. He stood beside Max, staring at the pale body of a woman he had just met two days ago. Her death was still recent so her lips still retained a hint of their pink color and her hair had not yet dulled and faded. She looked to be sleeping or perhaps in a deep coma from an injury, but not dead. The only indication of her being dead was that she was in a morgue with her body recently sewed up from an autopsy.

"I did a vaginal exam like you asked," Dr. Shankar told him. "There was some significant tearing through the right fallopian tube and top of the uterus but the ovaries were in still in tact - as well in tact as they could be in this situation I mean."

"You mean she didn't have any eggs left," Max said quietly trying to swallow the nausea of picturing a woman being stripped of all her ova and left barren.

"On the contrary I found twelve eggs total in both ovaries. But all of them were dead, their DNA had been warped so much that they couldn't be viable to produce any survivable offspring. I also found traces of a low level radiation in her blood work up."

"Radiation?" Logan asked, wondering why that would be used in Maria's case.

"Usually a woman will release ova once a month during her regular menstruation. But if someone wanted to get those eggs out of her sooner they could inject her with a specific cocktail of radioactive particles and send her into what's known as super ovulation. All of her eggs would flood the uterus at once making it easier for the ova to be extracted. My guess is the twelve remaining eggs were weak to begin with and the introduction of radiation killed them." Dr. Shankar paused for a moment, hesitating to ask a question she wasn't sure anyone would answer. "Did anyone have intercourse with this woman within the last seven months?"

Logan looked to Max, waiting for some silent approval from her before answering Shankar's question. Receiving none he decided to take it on himself. "Why is that relevant?"

"A few small traces of semen were found in and around the vaginal opening, but there were no sperm within the fluid." Dr. Shankar stated. "Due to the prolonged time the fluid has been there it is doubtful that if there was any sperm left they would have survived this long, but that brings me to another scenario," Shankar paused, not for dramatic flair, but because she was trying to make sure she was actually speculating something so - unnerving. "Sperm can survive up to thirty-six hours outside of the male body. That gave whoever did these ovum extractions a three-day window to extract another viable specimen - live sperm. And judging by the way the sperm were removed from her body with the same attention as her ova makes me suspect that whoever this man was he was someone whose DNA is held in high regards with these guys. Regards high enough to multiply his genetic makeup a hundred times over."

Max cringed mentally at Shankar's information. Manticore never hid the fact that the X5 class was some of their finest work. Their DNA makeup was contained in the genetics lab to use in the creation of mirror X class clones. But each new set of clones brought along its share of problems, free radicals in the unstable cell matrix lead to gruesome defects - anomiles that had to be locked down in the basement. The only successful cloning of the X5 class DNA had been the X7s. Though they were superior to the X5's in skill and speed Max now knew that Lydecker found a way to eliminate the instability creating a clone - by creating X5 offspring not clones. Though most combinations of X5 and human DNA resulted in normal babies the top ranked males and a few of the females of the X5 class had the ability to pass on their genetic makeup in procreation. Obviously Manticore had somehow figured out that Zack was one of those cases, and had decided to taken advantage of a two-for-one situation when they discovered that it was his sperm that had saturated Maria's body.

Dr. Shankar covered Maria's body with a cloth. "I can give Eyes Only a copy of the autopsy findings if he wants."

Logan nodded silently, watching as Beverly Shankar took that as a form of acceptance and went to copy her autopsy records and to shred the ones she had.

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SOUTH MARKET

Cree strolled slowly, but purposely through the vast over crowded market stalls. There were tons of customers out and not enough vendors to meet their demands for food, clothes, medicine, stolen Rolexes. She had been in to see Ty at the firehouse and despite the cheesy look some of his coworkers shot her; their new sense of intimacy did wonders for her. It had been the deepest connection she had felt with any guy ever. And she could deal with some stupid looser firemen who's only deep connection ever experienced was yanking themselves really really hard. She had offered to come by his apartment that night and fix dinner for him, and after discovering he had only half a granola bar and a bottle of Colt 45 from his roommate she decided to go shopping for the affair. It felt almost domestic if she was into the whole apron wearing, baking cookies kinda thing. She didn't want to play housewife, she just wanted to be with Ty, and to - thank him - among other things.

The ground at the market was filthy and wet with the leavings of rain and the leavings of semen from those hooking up after the market closed. Cree pushed by several people - brushing against them closer then two strangers should ever have to. But they didn't make a fuss and she paid them the same respect. The days of crying out frivolous claims towards sexual harassment were long gone. Americans were now left with the knowledge that in order to survive in a Pulse ridden Third World they would have to get over all ideas of personal space.

Three stalls down from a ghetto white boy selling sheep placenta was a vegetable stand. Rows of overly ripped tomatoes and heat-wilted lettuce lined the front of the wooden counter surface. A thin female form wrapped from head to toe in a gray blanket watched anxiously as Cree scanned over the meager items, hoping that she would find something she liked.

Cree looked over to the two largest tomatoes in the last stack on the left. A large brownish bruise colored almost an entire side of one of the tomatoes, and the other one emitted such a pungent ripened smell that flies were drawn two it. Out of the whole lot of tomatoes they were the best ones. Cree knew they were barely edible, but she pointed to them and watched as the stall owner hurriedly slid them into a plastic bag for her. The woman was barely getting by. And judging by her thin form in the blanket she was starving, and Cree would rather buy rotting tomatoes then act like she was above the reality before her.

She wandered along the outer edge of South Market where the shopkeepers built their shanty homes. Several children were playing a sword fight game out of wooden 1 x 8's and a woman was washing her family's laundry in a metal tub outside her home. Cree stepped over a puddle of motor oil and radiator fluid - carefully watching a brown Pit Bull guard dog eying her - and handed the bag of tomatoes to the lady washing clothes.

The woman set down a pair of child's pants she had been scrubbing and looked up to Cree, shielding her eyes from the afternoon sun with her hand. "Gracias." She set the bag closer to the tub and continued her washing.

"De nada," Cree answered back sincerely and continued down the road. She didn't expect a big dramatic 'you-saved-my-baby's-life' thank you. The rule of the street: 'you help someone, they'll get your back later'. It was just understood.

Several teens were working in their junk heap of a Caddy right in the middle of the street so Cree had to climb up over the car's rusted out trunk to get by.

"Hey honey buns!" One of the teens - brown eyed with a fade haircut that went out way before he was born - poked his head out from under the car's hood. "I got somethin' else you can climb up on top of."

Cree glowered at the teen. "Does your mother know about that dirty mouth I'm about to knock off?" She was so busy trying to lay some harsh words of reality on the groper that she wasn't paying attention to where she was going and ran into someone.

"Sorry-" Cree's apology was cut short after she realized that she had collided with a familiar guy with blonde hair and dark brown eyes. She recognized Zack immediately but didn't say anything to make it known. His eyes were on her, examining her like a strategist to his enemy's battle plans.

Cree stared back just as hard, not accepting his examination as something she just had to sit there and take. He didn't give her as hard a look as the men who use to rape did. But she did feel a hard glare behind his eyes. Zack wasn't a rapist; he was like a soldier examining every aspect of his enemy to find a weak point.

"I'm not in the mood for your crap little girl," Zack was the first one to break the silence, cutting off Cree's chance to get the first word in. His eyes were hard as rocks and he pushed past her, leaving his statement to ring in her ears.

"Hello to you too," Cree muttered under her breath. She watched a man she barely knew walk down the street. He looked to be wandering, but he walked with such a commanding stance it was as if he didn't want people to know he had no real destination in mind.

"Cree," Ming's voice reached her before she did. She stopped in front of her daughter with a plastic bag of fruit hanging loosely from one hand. "If I'd a known you'd be here to help carry groceries I would've made a longer list," Ming laughed quietly at her own joke, but her brow creased a moment later when she observed Cree watching someone intently. Her eyes spotted the man her daughter was eyeing. "Does Ty know you cheat?"

Cree didn't get a chance to reply before her mom's cell phone rang inside her leather sling purse. Ming fished out the Motorola that was ringing out the 1812 Overture.

"Hello?"

"Hey sweetness, how's my girl?"

Ming smiled at her husband's choice of words. "Since when am I now just a girl baby?"

Peter chuckled from his end. "Okay sexy momma, you lookin' for a take down?"

"You don't know how good that sounds right now," Ming responded, her brow creasing even further when she realized Cree wasn't even commenting about her parents 'sex talking' over the phone. "Guess who I ran into at the market today?"

"Your mother," Peter joked. He knew how much Ming hated her mother and her strict ideals of 'obedient daughters'

"No this is someone I enjoy seeing," Ming replied. "Your daughter."

"Wow, what a small city Seattle must for you to run into our child. You mind if I talk to her?"

"Dad wants to talk to you," Ming handed Cree the phone.

Cree took the phone, but her eyes remained on Zack who was standing beside a very expensive looking black motorcycle fiddling with something in the engine.

"Hey honey you there?" Peter asked Cree because he was just listening to her breathe.

"Sorry dad I spaced out," Cree finally answered.

"No big deal, so long as you come back down to Earth now and talk with your ol' pop."

"You're not my pop," Cree corrected. "You're my dad. Pop is a drink."

Peter laughed, glad to have the honor of being around women with senses of humor. "Okay then dear daughter, you know I'm getting to miss you and mom around here."

"Mom especially," Cree remarked.

"No baby I miss both my girls."

"Daddy don't lie. I know what you'd like to do to mom right now."

"Do you now? What happened to sweet innocence?"

Cree was about to answer but a scene unfolded in front of her that completely shocked her. Screeching tires were heard as two large black Humvees pulled to a stop in front of the market. A barrage of armed soldiers poured out of their interiors and stopped - with loaded weapons in front of Zack.

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Zack heard five semi-automatic assault rifles cock inches away from his body. He stood up from his crouched position. That number grew as three other soldiers joined the unit escorting a man Zack would rather they have their guns turned on.

Deck stopped a foot away from Zack, his own hand held Beretta aimed at the X5. "There are a few questions I'd like you to debrief me on." His voice was low, but authoritative.

Zack watched the weapons of the soldiers. "And if I refuse?"

"Then I take you out of this place in a bag," Lydecker answered coldly. "It's your call Zack. But I would rather know why one of my top line decided to go hump pretty Spanish flesh then to have him brought back in plastic." Deck paused for a moment to let his words sink in. "I mean it wasn't like she was so special right? Just some cheap floozy you picked up at a Mexican bar."
Deck watched Zack's eyes flair up at the description, as he knew they would. "There are probably a thousand and one hookers just like her across the boarder you could go fondle later-"

Zack lunged forward and grabbed Lydecker by the throat, disarming him with his free hand. The Beretta and its clip were thrown to the dirt at Deck's feet.

Shots fired from electrode tazers that found a home in the back of Zack's neck. The voltage dropped him to the ground a second later.

Lydecker bent down and picked up his weapon from the dirt, wiping the clip off and sliding it back in. "That's what I thought you'd say." He tucked the weapon away in his waist holster. "Restrain him and load him inside."

"Yes Sir," a soldier responded as he and two others descended on Zack's still form and dragged him off to a waiting Humvee.

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"What the hell was that?" Ming said watching the soldiers close the door on the unconscious man. "I've been a cop long enough to know what they do, and that's not what they do."

Cree watched in a stunned silence as the unit of soldiers started loading back up inside their Humvees and the middle aged man in a leather flight coat stood beside the Humvee where Zack was, talking to a soldier with an AK-47 strapped to his waist. "That was Max's brother," Cree blurted out the words quickly, trying to think of something to do. She didn't even know the man, but knew that the whole situation was dangerously wrong.

Ming's face screwed up in shock. "What the hell did they think he did to warrant all that?"

"I don't know," Cree replied quickly. "But something doesn't feel right. What kind of cops have that much back up fire power?"

"I'll ask," Ming announced cryptically, pushing past Cree before she got the chance to wonder what her mother was up too.

Ming ran right up to the Humvee's and -as she suspected - one of the soldiers halted her.

"This is a restricted area ma'am. You're going to have to turn back."

"C'mon soldier man, let a woman see what's going on." Ming insisted trying to shove past the soldier.

The Private grabbed her by the shoulder's forcefully pulling her back. "I said you have to turn around now."

"Son-of-a-bitch, get your hands off me!" Ming threw a piece of paper from her pocket against the Humvee where it hit under the license tag.

"Hey!" the Private yelled at her pushing her back. "Get the hell outta here now!"

"Yeah fuck you too prick," Ming hissed yanking away from the soldier and walking back with a pissy look on her face. The soldier turned back to get into the Humvee so he didn't see Ming turn around to make sure the tiny honing device she stuck on the Humvee was secure.

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FOGLE TOWERS

2:15 PM

Jondy sat slung out across Logan's leather easy chair pretending to be interested in a Physics book she had found in his stash of old college material. She had mastered Physics when she was seven and she use to play games with her art students, trying to get them to draw something without applying any type of physics. So in reality she was bored, but didn't want to look bored.
She had been at the penthouse all day, not wanting to leave until Logan dug up some more information about Lydecker. The news from Dr. Shankar was unnerving enough. But right now Jondy had to wait - wait until some thug guys Logan knew managed to track down Lydecker.

Her ears picked up the sounds a steady noises coming from the Logan's bathroom. "Maxie you take one hell of a loud shower."

(scene switches to a shot of Logan's bathroom, clothes strewn across the floor. Shot slowly pans up to the steamy glass shower to reveal a figure inside with Max.)

(Jondy's voice heard outside): "And don't think I don't know you're conserving water in there. Stegosauruses would get it on quieter then that!"

(scene switches to inside the shower. The figure inside is revealed to be Logan who has his arms wrapped around Max's nude form.)

Logan watched the water cascade down Max's long hair, turning almost to a black wave. Streams of water dripped down the sides of her face and some droplets were tangled up in her eyelashes. He removed one hand from her waist and gently cupped her breast against his palm backing her up slowly against the shower's tile wall.

There was no hot water in Max's apartment so it became a good excuse to get a free shower out of the man. She had actually intended to take a shower alone, but Logan had come inside the bathroom to hand her clean towels and a hot blast of steam wafted out of the shower. The sight of her wet form was tempting enough, but the look in her eyes is what clenched it. A look of, raw animal desire of want, but also a human need for contact after all she had seen and witnessed that day.

Logan could smell the soap she had just used on her skin, and he followed its Aloe Vera scent all over her exposed skin, tracing paths down it's softness with his free hand.

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I wanted you to know

That I love the way you laugh

I wanna hold you high and steal your pain ...away

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Max tilted her head up when she felt Logan working his way to the flesh of her neck. She wound her arms around his neck and tilted her head down to get him to put his kisses on her mouth. He tasted of water and coffee and sweat, though the warm water felt cold to her now. But after the events of the day she craved the skin-to-skin contact that was sending her into ecstasy right now.

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I keep your photograph

And I know it serves me well

I wanna hold you high and steal your pain

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Logan eased up on his pressure to hold Max against the wall because he though he was crushing her. But Max put an end to his worry by pulling him closer to her body.

"Don't stop," her words were said on a sultry drop of pure lust.

His hands found her hair and he raked them through its expanse while he roamed his mouth over every part of hers.

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The ringing of Logan's cordless phone dragged Jondy away from pseudo reading. She laid the book down on the hardwood floor and climbed out of her chair with the grace of a cat. She stretched on the way to answer the incessant ringing phone.

"Logan Cale's answering service."

"Is Max there?" Cree's voice came over the cell phone as she drove away from South Market with Ming in the passenger seat.

"Max is busy," Jondy responded tersely. "What do you want?"

"Please, it's important. It's about her brother Zack-"

Jondy's sarcastic air immediately dropped and she listened to Cree's frantic message.

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Cause I'm broken when I'm lonesome

And I don't feel right when you're gone away

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The quiet rumble of the powerful Humvee engine rumbled throughout it's interior. A small peak of light came through a peeling section of the black out window. The cargo hold was littered with cables, ropes, cross bows. Three soldiers squatted in the tiny leather stool seats, holding onto a rod suspended at the top of the Humvee to prevent them from being slammed around if the Humvee should stop suddenly.

A two-foot wide gap was between the rows of seat and the three soldiers had the barrels of their weapons aimed down at the still form of Zack. Handcuffs bound his arms in front of him and his legs were in shackles that were secured by a chain to a link on the Humvee floor.

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You're gone away

You don't feel me here....anymore

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Sorry this took so long to get up. I was busy with school and honestly didn't know where this chapter was going. But after getting inspiration it cranked out pretty fast.

This chapter's featured songs:

Zack in the elevator - "Hello" (Evanescence)

Max/Logan scene/Ending Scene - "Broken" (Seether featuring Amy Lee)

R/R Please