James Cameron and Charles Eglee own Dark Angel. My use is in no way meant to challenge their copyrights. This piece is not intended for any profit on the part of the writer, nor is it meant to detract from the commercial viability of the aforementioned (or any other) copyright. Any similarity to any events or persons (either real or fictional) is unintended.

Author's First Note: This is the first story in a three-part series I've come to refer to as The Justice Trilogy. Keep in mind, however, that reading this story does not mean that you'll have to read the other stories in order to get some closure. The major threads of this tale are tied up, and it exists well enough on its own. So don't let the fact that this is the first story of three deter you at all from reading. Oh, and you should also feel free to review, especially if you have lots of good things to say. :)

Author's Second Note: This story was begun during the first season, and thus none of the second season's plot developments are accounted for herein. In terms of chronology, you can assume that this took place anytime before 'Meow.'

The Becoming




Be careful on this one, Max thought, remembering Logan's warning. He can be so cute when he's worrying about me, she mused with a smile. Despite Logan's apparent concern, though, the job had proceeded very smoothly so far. In fact, it had been so easy that even Max was starting to become nervous – it was all just too simple.

No guards, and the security system was turned off, she noted. This was not the type of job she had expected. Norton Koch was supposedly one of the most nefarious men in Seattle, though it was likely that not a single one of the average residents of the city had ever heard his name. He was wealthy and influential but kept to the shadows, preferring to be the dagger behind the throne in order to avoid any kind of notoriety. Or infamy, to be more precise, she corrected. According to Logan, Koch's list of crimes including drug trafficking, extortion, slavery, blackmail, industrial espionage, theft, gambling, and murder. With the way his penthouse apartment's defenses were put together, though, Max was actually surprised that anyone had even bothered to lock the door. She had yet to meet a single significant obstacle.

She moved into a large dining room, still listening for any noise that would betray the presence of one of the highly trained guards she had heard so much about. They're all ex-special forces, Logan had warned her. Max knew that Logan had not wanted to send her on this assignment, but he had been left with no choice. Koch had his fingers into everything. If Logan could get Koch, he would not only be able to bring down one of the biggest bad guys in the city, he could probably also squeeze enough information out of the arch-criminal to bring down a couple of other lesser villains at the same time. It would be a great victory for truth, justice, and the American way.

A muffled thud coming from another room caught Max's attention, and she immediately curled up into a defensive position in a corner, allowing the shadows to conceal her presence. A moment later a door opened down the hall, and a cloaked figure, decked out all in black, walked into Max's view. What the hell? This guy think he's Darth Maul, or what? Max wondered with amusement, remembering an old pre-Pulse movie that she had watched late one night with Logan.

The figure walked strangely, as if it was completely unconcerned with any guards, though Max was more than willing to bet that it did not belong there. She stood slowly, making certain she did not make any noise, but her movement instantly caught the other figure's attention. It whirled, the cloak billowing around with the motion, and faced off against Max, moving its right leg back and settling its weight into a fighting stance. The intruder then lowered the cloak's hood, revealing only a ninja mask and a second hood, concealing every feature but the eyes. It raised its left hand and gestured for Max to come at it, and she accepted the challenge without hesitation.

Max walked over nonchalantly, grinning mischievously. "You don't look so tough," she commented. Without a word, the cloaked figure shot out its right hand in a quick punch. Only Max's heightened reflexes spared her the discomfort of having the wind knocked out of her. She sidestepped quickly and grabbed the wrist of her attacker, and then hip-tossed her opponent to the floor. She then snapped out a swift kick that sent the figure sprawling. "Not tough at all," she muttered as she listened again, wondering if the noise of the brief fight had attracted any attention. The only sound that greeted her ears was the rustling of the black cloak as her foe stood once more.

"Well, you can certainly take a hit, that's for sure," she commented. "I guess you haven't had enough yet, huh?" The figure shook its head and moved forward, obviously more wary than it had been before. Oh, this is getting boring, Max decided, resolving to just finish the confrontation quickly. She sent out a front kick that her opponent somehow avoided. Instinct caused Max to keep her leg moving, snapping back briefly and then forward in a roundhouse that also missed its mark. Before Max could even wonder how her genetically modified body had been too slow to hit her foe, she was grabbed and thrown off her feet.

Damn, she cursed, chastising herself even as she wondered what it was that had gone wrong. In an instant Max was on her feet again, but before she could gather herself she had been hit in the solar plexus and doubled over. The cloaked figure punched her squarely in her right temple, and the room started to spin. Max lashed out blindly with her right hand, hoping at the very least to drive her attacker back a few feet, buying a few precious seconds to regain a fraction of her senses. She failed.

Max felt her hair gathered up in her foe's hand, and she jerked her head away, afraid that her bar code had been revealed. In a heartbeat, her feet were swept out from beneath her. He's so fast, she realized. As fast as me. He must be Manticore! The final thought brought relief and joy to her heart, rather than fear. She drew in breath to ask a question, but was greeted with a combat boot's sole smashing into her forehead, knocking her almost completely senseless. She sat there for a few more moments, woozy but with enough grasp of her surroundings to retry communicating with her opponent.

"Who... are you?" Max asked, fighting desperately to retain consciousness.

"I think the better question is... who are you, Max?" a young man's voice answered. Max looked into his bright green eyes with confusion, and saw them light up with what she could only assume was a smile. "You don't know, do you?" he asked. "Well, I guess we're going to have to remedy that situation."

The young man reached into his pocket and pulled out a cell phone, and a minute later was talking. "Hi, this is a concerned citizen," he began. "At this very moment I'm watching what appears to be a couple of cops beating the crap out of someone." A moment of silence followed before he continued his story. "Yeah, at the corner of Eighth and Market. You'd better get a camera crew over there in a hurry or you'll miss it." He folded up the phone and stuck it back within the folds of his outfit.

"What are you doing?" Max asked.

"I'd suggest you get your ass out of here before you get toasted," the man advised. "Your cat DNA may give you nine lives, but there's no sense in simply throwing one of them away."

Max shook her head to clear the last of the cobwebs, and for a moment considered renewing her brief fight with her adversary. Now that she knew what to expect, that he was as quick as she was, she was confident that she would not be put down so easily. Before Max could move, though, the man had produced another item, and this one gave her some pause. She immediately recognized a remote detonator, and did not want to stick around to find out how large an explosive was tied in to the detonator's signal. In a blur of motion she was headed out of the room and through the door. She felt a flash of heat on her back, and a split second later she was hurtled forward and bounced headfirst off a wall by the shock force of the explosion.

Once again she was able to maintain consciousness, but the blurry vision and nausea-inducing dizziness that assaulted her made her certain that she had received a concussion. Despite her injuries, though, Max was able to make it out onto the street and into an alley just in time to avoid getting into view of the news crew that arrived in response to the intruder's bogus call, reporting a beating across the street that never took place. The police also arrived, but with cameras on the scene, Max knew it would be impossible for the corrupt law enforcement officials to cover up the story. Norton Koch's apartment had blown up, and cash was literally raining down out of the sky and onto the streets below. Max could hardly wait to see how the story looked on the morning news.

To be continued........................