494

I never could run fast enough.

"That was not a satisfactory performance, 613!"

"Yes, sir!"

"Do you realize that this is the fourth time in a row that you have failed to meet the standards?"

"Yes, sir!"

"So, why aren't you doing anything about it?!"

"I'm trying, sir!"

"Not hard enough."

"Sorry, sir!"

"That's it. I'm sick of you. Run the perimeter until you figure out how to move faster!"

"Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!"

My top speed was nothing remarkable among X-5's. That just wasn't my area of expertise. Unfortunately, it was the skill I needed most now.

"Where are we going?" Kira yelled at me.

"I don't know. Just keep running." I replied.

I scanned the area quickly, looking for anything that could be used as a weapon. I knew I would need it for when they cornered us. And they would sooner or later. There were X-5's on our tail.

"Stop!" I commanded quickly.

Kira immediately froze. She looked at me questioningly, awaiting further orders. I could feel the X-5's gaining and this was as good a place as any to make a stand.

I hadn't paid much attention to where we were headed, but I now saw that we had arrived at a complex of buildings that could only be a school. From the building nearest us came the sound of drumming, a loud noise that would effectively cover any noise that we might make. It was the most advantageous situation we could hope for under the circumstances.

"Follow me." I said quietly, knowing she would hear despite the noise.

Kira and I stalked around the building. I signaled to her to hide off to the right while I dropped to the ground on the left, peaking around the building.

Rapid movement caught my attention and I quickly spotted the X-5 at point. He slowed and assessed his surroundings. His eyes were icy cold as he searched for any trace of our passing. He was in full mission mode. I tried not to breathe.

"613, I know you're here." he called, his face showing no emotion.

Suddenly, I recognized him.

"494, you are to lead your unit on search and destroy. 857, you escape and evade. There will be consequences for losing."

"Yes, sir!" came a loud chorus from two units of X-5's.

"857, move your team out!"

"Yes, sir!" my C.O. replied.

I glanced at 494 before following 857. His face showed no emotion, his eyes were icy cold. I had heard of his reputation. This would not be an easy mission.

"You were always slow and clumsy, 613. I caught you before, I can do it again." he continued, his cold eyes still searching.

I signaled to Kira to move. She hesitated for a fraction of a second and my gaze snapped to her. She had no choice but to follow my orders. I had more seniority than she. I would get her out of here.

"Give yourself up, 613. There will be consequences for your actions, but not nearly as bad as what will happen if I have to take you by force." 494 warned.

I slowly backed away from the edge of the building. 494's eyes snapped to me and our gazes locked as I froze.

I could hear him behind me. I knew he was coming for me. He would catch me eventually if I didn't think of something quick. I really didn't want to face the consequences of failure.

I spun, dropping to the ground behind some bushes, lying motionless. I waited as the X-5 tailing me approached. It was 494.

He stopped so close that I could smell the leather of his combat boots. I watched nervously as he scanned the area, looking and listening for me. Suddenly, his eyes locked with mine.

I sprang to my feet and took off. I knew 494 was on my heels. He would catch me, he was right. He was much faster than me. It was just a matter of time.

494 caught up to me as I reached the fence belonging to a baseball diamond. I could feel his breath, he was so close. I sprang in a desperate attempt to escape, landing on the top part of the fence on my hands and knees. I looked down at 494, wondering what he would do.

He glanced up at me, unconcerned.

"You're only making this worse, you know." he remarked.

"I won't go back." I snapped, trying not to let my shortness of breath show.

"You can't escape. It's useless. This is just a prolonged exercise."

"Freedom is not an exercise."

"You're not free. You could never be free. None of us could. You'd always be trapped by what you are. At least at Manticore you're accepted. You don't have to hide who you are. That's free."

"You don't know what you're saying."

"I've been on the outside. I've always come back."

"Well, I guess you're a better soldier than I am." I growled.

"Come down."

"No."

A second later 494 landed on the fence next to me, crouched low to maintain his balance. I quickly backed away, getting to my feet as I reached the edge. 494 lashed out, I dodged. He was so fast. It was all I could do to block his attacks.

494 suddenly swiped at my feet and I was forced to leap out of the way. I was too close to the edge. I grabbed at the fence as I fell past it, latching onto the overhang. 494 looked down at me, his eyes questioning me, asking if I was ready to surrender yet. My resolve hardened and I let go.

The second my feet hit the ground I was running again.

I left the school, running and running. Running as fast as I could until I suddenly got the feeling that something was wrong. I slowed.

Before me was a large building positioned next to a small, but deep-looking lake. My vision sharpened and I saw Kira through the second story window. This stank of a trap. But I couldn't leave Kira.

I glanced behind me, looking for 494, but I couldn't see him anywhere. Warily, I approached the building.

"Can't you tell a trap when you see one?" 857 demanded angrily.

"I'm sorry."

"You keep costing us missions."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. Be better."

"I will."

And I meant it, too. I would do my best not to be the cause of failure ever again.

Failure was not an option this time.

I carefully began the process of climbing up the building to the roof. It was a three-story building, complete with numerous windows that outlined each floor. I was just below the third story window when I spotted 494.

He didn't follow me up the building, but watched calmly from the ground. That confirmed my suspicion. This was a trap.

I gained the roof, but was greeted by two guards. Luckily, they were human. I took them out quickly, but I was very tired. This would not be good.

I descended to the third floor and was startled to find Kira. And six semiautomatic guns. She gave me an apologetic look and I shook my head slightly in response. It wasn't her fault.

I tensed when Lydecker emerged from behind some of the soldiers training weapons on us.

"You're a long way from home, soldier." he said slowly.

I didn't reply, but quickly tried to find a way to escape. The only way I saw was the nearby window. But how to get out the window without taking a dozen bullets?

"It's useless to resist." Lydecker said, noticing my glance around.

I had it. It was dangerous, but it was the only way.

I lounged, grabbing a hold of Lydecker and yanking him back towards the window. Kira quickly realized what I was doing and got behind me. She kicked out the window.

Lydecker reached for a gun, but I beat him to it. I pointed it towards his head.

"You know my reflexes are faster than any of theirs." I said quietly.

He nodded.

"Hold your fire."

I motioned to Kira. She leaped out of the window, diving gracefully into the water. I followed soon after, pulling Lydecker backwards out of the window with me. I lost the gun in the fall, choosing instead to keep a firm hold on Lydecker. The consequence was that I hit the water hard and the wind was knocked out of me. But it was worth it because Lydecker's soldiers wouldn't shoot as long as there was a chance they might hit the colonel.

I dragged Lydecker back up to the surface with me and emerged near the bank. Kira was already out, waiting for me. But closing quickly was 494.

I made a quick decision and ditched Lydecker in the lake. He would slow us down too much. Kira grabbed my hand and pulled me out and we raced away.

But I was trailing. I couldn't run for much longer. I gestured to Kira to continue without me. I would find her later.

"That was risky."

494 was alongside me. He chatted as if this were a routine jog around the compound and we were discussing my maneuvers on the latest mission.

"I had no choice."

"You could have surrendered."

"Never."

"You know I can take you. You're tired. You don't stand a chance."

"I know. But I have to try."

"Why?"

I looked at 494 for the first time since he had caught up to me.

"It's who I am."

I had to stop. I slowed, panting, and 494 slowed with me.

"I've thought about you since you left." he said quietly.

I glanced at him in surprise. This wasn't like him. 494 was cocky, cool, confident. He gave away nothing. Why was he telling me this?

"You interested me." he continued, "That's why I requested this assignment."

I wasn't sure how to react to 494's abnormal behavior.

"I dreamed about this capture."

"Oh?" I managed.

"Yes. There was never any doubt that I would capture you. It's just the how that was interesting. I've been interested to see how this would play out."

"Glad to see you're still just as cocky as ever."

494 flashed a cocky grin at me, probably patented on his missions outside. I was a little taken aback by the expression.

"Have I any reason not to be?"

He raised an eyebrow questioningly.

"You won't catch Kira." I finally replied.

"You don't think so?"

"I won't let you."

"And how do you plan to stop me?"

I took a deep breath and raised my fists. 494 laughed.

"Do you really want to do this?" he asked.

"What other choice do I have?"

494 gave me a suggestive look.

"I excelled in sexual performance training."

"You must be joking."

He simply raised an eyebrow again.

I shook my head. He was crazy.

I lashed out with my foot, hoping that he wouldn't be expecting the attack. But he was ready. He caught my foot and flipped me. I managed to keep standing, but he had me off balance, still keeping a firm hold on my foot. He pulled me forward and kicked at my standing leg. I fell forward into the splits, using my hands to pull out of it and sweep both legs around into 494's legs. I managed to hook my foot around his ankle and pull him off his feet. He twisted as he fell and I suddenly found myself pinned under his weight.

"I was first in my class." he continued.

"Yet again with the overconfidence." I snapped, shoving him.

He didn't move.

"They're transferring me to a breeding program."

"Sounds like just the cushy job for you."

"It could take some time. Probably enough time for 772 to get pretty far away."

I froze. He was right about that at least. I needed to give Kira time to escape. But there was no way I was going to sleep with the soldier sent to capture me and take me back to Manticore. Maybe if I could just get him to think he might be able to convince me. Maybe I could distract him long enough to give Kira a good head-start.

"Five minutes is not a long time, 494."

He looked shocked.

"It would take quite a bit longer than that, 613." he replied.

"You're not my type."

"Are you sure?"

Before I could reply he was kissing me. He was very good at it, too. I wasn't sure what to do so I simply remained still. That is until I became short on air. I shoved 494 away and quickly refilled my lungs. He grinned his cocky grin at me again.

"What are you smiling about?" I demanded, "That doesn't prove anything."

"No?" he produced a pouty frown, "But we were instructed that kissing is very important in seducing females."

"I doubt you were instructed in regards to Manticore females."

"Maybe not, but you're still female." he said, "And I'm just as Manticore as you are."

He lowered his head and I felt his teeth on the crook of my neck. I gasped when he bit down hard on my skin. I felt a twinge of pain before he closed his mouth over the bite and nursed it with his tongue. I tried to feel nothing.

"How about now?" he asked.

I realized that I had closed my eyes and quickly opened them again. This was not going as I had anticipated.

"Well..." I said smoothly, my hands running up his back to rest just below his shoulder blades, "No."

I kneed him in the stomach, pushing with all my might against him so that I could escape from under him. I jumped back to my feet. 494 soon followed.

"That's going to leave a mark." he said, pointing at my neck.

My hand went to touch the spot. It was very sore. He was probably right.

"Just one more scar." I shrugged.

"And not the first I've given you either."

I sprang from my hiding place in the bushes, dashing around trees, but 494 tackled me from behind. I kicked furiously until he lost his grip on my legs. We both sprang to our feet and began circling each other.

494 threw an experimental punch which I easily blocked. The rest of the fight was a blur until he threw me hard down on the ground. A sharp rock pierced my thigh and I screamed.

"I remember." I said, my voice devoid of emotion, "You left me there, immobilized."

"Orders are orders. I had a team to hunt down."

"I laid there for over an hour before my unit came looking for me."

"Medics fixed you up good."

"I never forgave you. I never could run the same. It was your fault."

"I didn't mean..."

"Bullshit."

"You're right. I did mean to." he admitted.

He didn't seem in the least remorseful. I hadn't really expected him to be.

"You always were good. That's why they sent you on all the missions. 494, the star of Manticore." I said bitterly, "But I don't care how good you are. I'm not going back and you can't make me. You'll just have to kill me."

"My orders aren't to kill you."

"You don't have a choice."

"And you're not in any position to make demands."

"I hate you, 494."

He grinned.

"But you want me so bad."

Furious, I threw a wild punch at his head which he easily dodged. But I wasn't finished. I continued to throw fast and angry punches at his body. 494 was forced to retreat slightly to avoid the blows.

"You're quick when you're angry. But you're not too accurate." he commented.

I landed a blow to the side of his face.

"Accurate enough." I growled.

494 rubbed his cheek and moved his jaw back into place.

"613, that hurt." he said, "I might just have to leave you with a few new scars today."

He counterattacked and I felt the wind rush out of me. Then, my face exploded with pain. Then, my knee gave and I fell to a kneeling position.

I lifted my hands to my face and reset my nose before looking up at 494. I could feel blood trickling down my face and tasted it on my lips.

"Will you surrender now?" he asked.

"Never."

He sighed. I caught a glimpse of his fist before it connected with my temple and I fell unconscious.

"She's coming out of the anesthesia, doctor."

My eyes slowly focused and adjusted to the bright light over me. I was surrounded by people in white and I began to panic before I realized that I was in the hospital wing.

"She's X-5. She can take the pain." the doctor replied, unconcerned as he finished stitching my leg.

It hurt, but he was right. I could take the pain. Besides, pain was a good thing. It meant my leg wasn't seriously damaged.

"Alright. You damaged the muscle, so you're not going to have the same kind of mobility you used to. But mostly, it was just superficial. A flesh wound. You should make a full recovery." the doctor reported as he washed his hands.

"Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!"

"You can go back to the barracks now, but report back here tomorrow morning at 0900."

"Yes, sir!"

I wasn't prepared for the pain when I put weight on the leg. A flesh wound. It was just a flesh wound. But it hurt like hell. And muscle damage. Terrific. That meant reconditioning. And it meant that I would be the weak link in the chain for awhile. I hated being the weak link. Damn that 494.

I blinked slowly and my eyes focused. I wasn't in the hospital wing. That had been a long time ago. I was on the ground. And 494 was standing over me in parade rest, his back to me.

"What are you waiting for?" I demanded angrily once I realized that there weren't any military humvees around, waiting to load me up and take me back to Manticore.

"I was told to await assistance." he replied shortly, "They'll be here shortly.

Oh.

"It won't be so bad." he continued, "They'll send you to Psy-Ops for awhile. Reindoctrinate you. Then, everything will be back to normal."

Psy-Ops. I was not going to Psy-Ops. I had heard about what went on in there. There was no way they were going to do that to me. Maybe 494 had been able to handle his stay in Psy-Ops, but I wasn't up for one myself.

"Maybe they'll even transfer you to the breeding program and we'll get to finish what we started."

Arrogant bastard. I hated him so much.

"It won't be so bad." he repeated.

That's when I noticed the tone in his voice. He sounded...uncertain. Like he was trying to convince himself. I was confused and a little scared of this new dimension to 494.

It was horribly difficult to ask, "What's wrong?"

He glanced back at me without really looking at me. But I saw his eyes. They were dark and stormy, filled with a tempest of emotions. I was even more afraid. 494 was a soldier. He was cold and emotionless except for his arrogance. The emotions in his eyes shouldn't be there. They didn't belong.

His voice, however, was as cold as ever.

"Nothing."

"You don't want to go back, do you?" I asked, astounded by my realization.

"Don't be stupid."

"You wanted to waste time on this mission because you don't want to go back." I accused.

"You're insane."

"Then, why didn't you just take me to Lydecker instead of radioing? We both know I'd be headed back to Manticore by now if you had moved me yourself."

"Shut up."

His voice was getting edgy. I knew I was right.

"You can't leave, but you don't want to go back. That's why you're so torn."

"Shut up!" he yelled at me, whirling around.

His eyes blazed at me and I shrank from them. There was so much power in his eyes. It was no wonder he was a C.O.

"You don't know what you're talking about." he said in a whisper through clenched teeth.

"Then, tell me."

494 turned his back to me again and resumed parade rest. I slowly pulled myself into a sitting position and debated running again.

"You have no idea what it's like."

His voice startled me. It was very quiet. I stared at 494's back in surprise.

"First, I spend 6 months in Psy-Ops because my twin turned out to be a traitor. And then I go on a mission and kill the wrong person." his voice began to quaver and he took a deep breath.

I couldn't speak.

"They break you into pieces in Psy-Ops, you know. You think you can beat them, but you can't. They tear you apart. They get inside you and rip you open. But I didn't care after awhile." he paused and I held my breath, fearing the tiniest disturbance would end in disaster, "She wasn't supposed to be there. It was just her father I was sent to kill. She shouldn't have been involved at all. But I screwed up. I failed her. I failed everyone. I killed her. I loved her and I killed her."

I couldn't move. I couldn't even breathe. I could have died of shock. This was the last thing I had expected from 494. Who would ever have believed that 494 could love? Who would have believed that any of us would ever be able to love at all?

"I don't want to be hurt again." 494 breathed.

"Don't go back. Come with me." I burst out suddenly.

"I can't." he said, his voice strong and cold once again.

"Why not?" I asked in disbelief.

Why would he go back to Manticore after what they had done to him, what they had made him do?

"Because. Manticore is where we belong. We weren't meant to be out there, trying to be human. We'll never be like them. Manticore is home."

"But..."

I cut myself off as I heard the sound of approaching vehicles. I didn't have much time. Either I convinced 494 to abandon everything he had ever known or I returned to Manticore with him.

"Go."

I looked at 494, confused. I was sure he had spoken, but he couldn't have said what I thought he had.

"Go on. Go. Now. Before Lydecker gets here. It's your only chance." he said, turning to me.

"Please come with me." I said as I rose, knowing I was wasting time as the vehicles got closer.

He shook his head.

I remained still for a moment, frozen where I stood as I stared into 494's eyes. He broke the moment by shoving me and looking away.

"Get out of here."

I ran quickly, knowing I couldn't stay any longer. I felt 494's eyes on me for a long while until I was out of his range. I couldn't help but pity 494. I had hated him so much, wished that I could put him through some of the pain he had subjected me to. Not only with the injury he had done me, but with the repercussions that had followed. But now I knew that 494's pain was much greater than my own. His torment was something much deeper than physical wounds. I wondered if he would ever heal before I turned my attention to finding Kira.

A/N: I don't anything, blah blah and so forth. This is pretty much a dream I had and I thought I'd make it into a fic. Let me know if anyone likes it. Thanks.