Freedom on the inside

Disclaimer: Unfortunately I don't own anything to do with Dark Angel. They apparently belong to some guy who is most definitely in need of a brain check. What was he thinking when he decided to axe the show? Oh well, I guess when I'm rich enough I'll just have to buy the rights to the programme and then we'll finally get a third season. I wouldn't count on it though.

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: M/A (eventually!)

Summary: What if Max never escaped Manticore in 'Designate This' and didn't get the chance to infect Logan? Logan and everyone else in Seattle thinks she's dead and Renfro's still alive?

Author's Note: I know there's been a lot of 'what if she never escaped stories?' but this is my shot at what could have happened. Please read and review!

Chapter One

Challenges

Max stared up at the ceiling, not that she could see it in the dark. The pillowless bunk was incredibly uncomfortable but she couldn't complain. At least she wasn't strapped up in Renfro's personal torture room, it may as well have 'For X5-452 only' written across the door. She had spent two whole weeks in there after her second, and this time failed, attempt to escape Manticore.

X5-494, Alec as she had named him, had refused to help her escape. He hadn't exactly reported her, like he should of, but she couldn't trust him either. He was still Manticore through and through, despite the fact that he was her dead brother's twin.

Joshua, the part man, part dog transgenic, was the only friend she had in this god-forsaken excuse for a military training facility. He had helped in her attempt to escape but she hadn't seen him since. She worried more about him, then anything else and she wanted desperately to know that he was okay. If she had any ounce of her strength left, she probably would be looking for him right now, but as it was she couldn't even raise her little toe, let alone her legs to stand up and walk.

Lying there, Max tried to block out the images of her friends that continually bombarded her. They all thought she was dead, Sketchy, Original Cindy, Logan, even Normal. She missed them, although she could probably assume that Normal was glad he didn't have to sack his ever tardy missy miss ever again. Max smiled weakly at the memories of Cindy coming up with lame excuses for her, their late nights at Crash, the evening meals with Logan. Salty tears ran down Max's cheek and along the relief of her lips as an image of Logan came before her. It was so real; Max could almost reach out and touch him and it only helped to make her tears fall faster.

Not having the strength to wipe them away, Max closed her eyes, praying that maybe in sleep; she would be able to escape from her nightmares. But her prayers were never answered.


"Eyes front!"

Max quickly re-focussed her eyesight at the command. She stood in her typical rigid soldier stance. Her shoulders tensed under the piercing gaze of the officer in front of her. Apparently satisfied, he walked backwards and barked his orders in his usual gruff voice.

"Unit 7 to field attack and Unit 9 and X5-452 to combat training now!"

There was a brief surge of movement as the line of soldiers dispersed into their various units. Max, as of yet, didn't belong to one of the current units. That only helped to make her feel even more alienated in the one place she loathed the most.

The five members of Unit 9, one of which she not so gladly recognised, spread themselves around the fighting mat. Looking up, Max met X5-494's eyes. They were clouded over with the Manticore mask she recognised so very well. There were no glimmers of the smart aleck she had first met, instead all she saw was the normal, icy cold front of a perfect soldier, who just so happened, to top it all off, have her brother's face.

"X5-452 and X5-701"

Max stepped forward on to the mat as did her opponent. Max had been begging with anyone who was hearing her silent pleas, not to have to fight X5-701. He appeared almost twice as tall as Max, with a build to match. For a transgenic, who hadn't had training for the last ten years, Max knew she was going to be slaughtered but she sure as hell was going to try and put up a fight.

At the blow of the whistle, both transgenics started circling each other. Max had to strain her neck to meet her opponent's eyes. Eye contact was vital to sense the opposition's moves and it was obvious that it was X5-701 who had the upper hand there. His fist came out to strike Max square in the stomach. This caused Max to fall backwards on impact but she managed to use the moment to her advantage. Swinging her legs out, Max knocked him clear from his feet and tried to punch him as she regained her balance. X5-701 was faster though, getting up he countered Max's punch and unlike Max, connected. Max staggered backwards, blood now gushing from the side of her face. The stinging only helped to fuel her anger. Charging at him, she launched a series of low kicks and punches but she eventually wore herself out and ended up being pinned to the ground instead.

X5-701 grinned down at her, his bloodied nose, the only damage Max seemed to have inflicted, only helped to make him look all the more revolting.

"X5-494 take X5-452 to the infirmary."

'Great,' Max inwardly groaned. 'I can get there myself,' she felt like yelling, but then again, she didn't feel like being Renfro's test subject for another two weeks. And so she opted to keep her mouth shut and quietly followed 494's lead.


Both soldiers walked side by side down the corridor. Neither looking at each other, nor acknowledging each other. That was fine by Max, really. She was already in considerable pain, she didn't need more by him opening his mouth.

Stopping in front of the infirmary, Max went to walk in but stopped as she realised Alec was still following her. Turning, she said with nothing but venom, "I think I can manage to walk into the infirmary myself, thank you."

Alec just grinned at her. "My orders were to take you to the infirmary and that's exactly what I'm doing."

"Aren't we a good soldier?" Max said with ever so slight sarcasm.

"Always," he smirked as he opened the door, "ladies first."

Max glared at him before walking into the room. Her eyes blazed with fury. Not so much because of his remarks but because he could just so easily switch from serious soldier to smart aleck in less than two seconds and not even know that he was doing it.

As she sat herself down on the bed in front of the doctor and watched Alec turn to leave, she found herself making a promise. If she was going to be holed up in here for the rest of her life, she was going to need a challenge to fulfil. And that challenge was none other than Alec. Lucky for him, he was going to be the first Manticore soldier; Max was going to help taste freedom. Not that he really deserved it, but he looked like a challenge and Max was up for anything; if it prevented boredom.

A/N 2- So what do you think? Please review and let me know. Any constructive criticism is welcome! Thanks!