Per your request: Epilogue, Part 2
It was almost morning by the time Max and her children reached the gates of Terminal City. There wasn't much of a crowd at this hour, just a few sector police making their rounds. Max, Zachary and Eva stood in the shadows of a nearby building while Max timed the guards. There was a gap of approximately two minutes between police rounds. If they were quick that should be plenty of time for them to make it past the fence. The kids were still too little to jump the fence themselves so Max would have to carry them over one at a time. She knelt down until she was eye level with them.
"Babies, I need you to listen to me very carefully ok. To get in, Mommy is going to have to jump over the fence. Now I can only take you one at a time so Eva, in a minute I want you to climb on Mommy's back and hold on really, really tight, alright? Zachary, Mommy's going to jump over the fence with Eva and then find a place to hide her so I can come back and get you. In the meantime, I need you to find a place to hide and be very quiet, ok? Do you remember when Uncle Zack taught you to play hide and go seek?" The little boy nodded. "Well there are a lot of bad people out here that are trying to find us so you have to hide really well. Don't come out until Mommy gets back. Do you understand?"
The little boy nodded again and scampered off to hide. Max watched for a moment to make sure he was well hidden, then she turned back to her daughter. "Ok, Eva. Climb on my back and hold on good. When we get across the fence it will be your turn to play hide and seek." The little girl climbed on Max's back and wrapped her arms around her mother's neck. As soon as the next sector cop passed, Max took a running start and then jumped over the fence. Her landing wasn't very smooth because of her passenger, but Eva held on. Max quickly got to her feet and the two moved into the shadows. Once they were out of sight, Max set her daughter down and the little girl went to hide behind some old metal crates. Checking her watch, Max saw that the next sector cop was about to make his rounds so she prepared to jump. After he passed, she jumped the fence again and went to collect her son. "Zachary", Max whispered. Zachary slipped out of the shadows and moved to his mother's side without making a sound.
"Did I do good, Mommy?" he asked as he climbed on her back.
"Yes, son. You did good. Uncle Zack would be very proud." Zachary beamed at his mother's praise. "Ok, mommy. I'm ready." The little boy held tight and Max took another running start. This time when she landed she found herself surrounding by several transgenic holding guns. Max set her son down and took his hand so he wouldn't be frightened. Standing up slowly, Max looked around for Eva.
"Eva, come here honey." The little girl ran to her mother and took her other hand. Both children hid slightly behind their mother and peeked out at the strange figures in front of them.
One of the transgenics, a half man/half lizard named Mole, stepped forward. He was chewing on the end of an old cigar and holding an AK-47. "Who are you? State you name and designation and then tell me what the hell are you doing breaking into Terminal City?"
Max glared at him for daring to point a gun at her children. "My name is Max, X5-452, and I'm here to see Alec."
Mole blew smoke in her face. "Alec's not here. Guess you'll just have to go home and try back later."
Zachary and Eva began to cry quietly. They'd both been so brave all night, but it was way past their bedtime and they were getting tired. Max needed to find a place for them to sleep, and Mole's arrogance was beginning to piss her off. Letting go of her children's hands, she blurred over and snatched the gun from Mole's hands. Pressing the end of it against his chest, Max began to speak quietly. "You listen to me, my kids and I have come a long way to see Alec and we're not leaving until I speak with him. Now we're tired and hungry and I need a place for my babies to sleep so why don't you be a good little soldier and go find your SIC. Maybe he or she can help me."
Mole grinned, unintimidated and motioned for the other transgenics to lower their weapons. "At the moment, I am the SIC and you're lucky I like you, girlie!" He turned to one of the other transgenics "Dix, escort 452 and her brats to headquarters. Stick them in an empty interrogation room for the moment." The transgenic nodded and motioned for Max and her children to follow him. Once they were out of sight and hearing range, Mole got on his walkie-talkie. "Hey Biggs, we caught the intruder. It was another X5."
"Man, they just keep coming, don't they? If this keeps up much longer we're going to run out of living space, not to mention supplies. So where's the intruder now?" Biggs was headed back into Terminal City. He and Alec had been out on a supply run, but Biggs returned early when they heard about the intruder.
"We're holding her in one of the interrogation rooms for the moment. She wants to see Alec, says she won't leave until she does."
"They all want to see Alec. Ever since that newscast he's become the world's most popular transgenic. We don't usually let them wait in interrogation for him, though. What's so different about this one? Is she hot?"
Mole chuckled, "She's not bad, for an X-series that is, and she's feisty. She held me at gunpoint, told me to be a good little soldier and go find my SIC."
Biggs laughed out loud, "She got your gun away from you! Now that I would like to have seen. Sounds like my kind of woman."
"Take it easy, pretty boy! This one's got a couple of rug-rats tagging along."
"She's got kids? Hey Mole, you didn't happen to get her designation did you?" Biggs began to walk faster. He had a pretty good idea who this woman was.
"What kind of soldier would I be if I hadn't? Her designation is 452, but she goes by the name Max. Why? You know her."
"Yeah, I know her. She was my SIC and she's Alec's mate. Listen buddy, see if you can find Alec and stall him. I need to speak with Max for a few minutes."
"Will do. Oh and Pretty Boy, if you tell anyone that a woman got the best of me, I will personally hunt you down and kill you."
Biggs laughed again and then double-timed it back to headquarters.
Max, Zachary and Eva waited in the interrogation room. Actually to be more correct, Max waited, and paced. The kids were fast asleep. Max stopped her pacing for a moment to watch them. They looked so peaceful when they slept, so much like their father. Thinking about Alec set Max to pacing again. What was she going to say to him after all this time. "Hi honey, I'm home, and by the way these are your children" just didn't seem appropriate.
Max was deep in thought when the door opened. She looked up hoping it would be Alec, but it wasn't.
"Hello Max, good to see you again." Biggs said, pulling her in for a hug.
"Biggs, what are you doing here? I thought you and Brin were living in Vegas?" Max was happy to see her friend, but she was a little confused too.
"We are, I mean were. Well, she's in Vegas and I'm here so I guess it's both. When I heard about the transgenic problems in Seattle I came up to try and help. That's when I ran into Alec. I tried to call you but the operator said the number was disconnected. What happened Max?" Biggs and Max sat down at the table to talk.
"Zack died. It was very sudden and I just couldn't bear to stay there anymore so the kids and I started traveling. We visited a lot of the family and we were going to go to Vegas to see you and Brin, but then I saw the news cast about Joshua and there was Alec too, and I had to come here instead." Max leaned forward eagerly. "How is he, Biggs? Is he ok? Does he remember me? Does he know about Zachary and Eva? Where is he now?..."
"Whoa, Max, slow down. One question at a time. Alec is good. He had it rough for a while, some guy named Ames White and a group of cultists called Familiars captured him after we took down Manticore. They were pretty brutal to him. I can't tell you more than that cuz I don't know everything they did to him, it's his story to tell. I just know he was pretty shaken up for a while. Next question, does he remember you? Well that's a dumb question. You were his mate, of course he remembers you. He thought we were all dead until I showed up, I told him you were ok and that I would try to get a hold of you somehow. I didn't tell him about the kids though, I thought you'd want to do that yourself." Max nodded gratefully. "Listen Max, Alec won't be back for a while; he's out on a supply run. In the meantime, would you like me to find you someplace more comfortable to wait, maybe take you and the kids down to the mess hall to get something to eat?"
Max shook her head. "I am hungry and I know the kids are starving, but I think I'd rather wait here until Alec gets back. Thank you anyway."
Biggs squeezed her hand and then stood up. "I understand, at least let me call over there and ask Joshua to bring something over. I know he'd love to see you again. He was very upset when he couldn't find you after the escape."
Max smiled as she remembered Joshua's kindness to her. "That would be wonderful. I'd love to see him. I still owe him a thank you for saving my life and an apology for leaving him behind."
Biggs opened the door and stepped out for a few minutes to speak with one of the other transgenics. When he returned he was accompanied by Joshua and he had a tray full of food for Max and her children.
"Little Fella, hi!" Joshua grabbed Max and pulled her into a big hug. It was hard for her to breathe for a few minutes, partly from all the emotions welling up inside of her and partly because Joshua was so strong.
When he let her go, Max said "Hey Big Fella! How ya' doing? I saw you on tv."
Joshua grew sad for a moment. "Annie, they said I killed Annie, but I didn't. She was my friend."
The sorrow on Joshua's face brought tears to Max's eyes again. Poor Joshua! He's such a kind and loving guy, and yet he's always been treated so badly. Max hugged her friend again. "Oh Joshua, I'm sorry about your friend. I know you didn't kill her and we'll get this straightened out somehow, I promise. I'll help you."
Joshua brightened up immediately, "Max is staying in Terminal City? Not leaving ever again?"
Max laughed at the eager look on his face "Well I don't know that I'd say ever, but I'll be here for a while." A sound behind her drew Max's attention back to her children. Zachary and Eva were sitting up. The smell of food must have awakened them and yet they sat quietly waiting for a sign from their mother. Max walked over and took their hands, leading them over to the table. "Zachary, Eva, this is one of mommy's friends. His name is Joshua. Can you say 'hello'?"
Zachary and Eva looked at Joshua for a moment and then said quietly "Hello". Zachary looked like he wanted to say more, but the smell of food drew his attention back to the table once again. "Mommy, may we eat please?" He asked politely.
Max smiled at him "Of course, sweetheart. Go ahead."
The children dug into the food with gusto and Joshua watched them fondly. "Little Fella has even littler fellas."
Max looked at her children with pride. "Yes, I do."
A noise from outside caught Max's attention. Listening carefully she was able to tell that several new people had entered headquarters. Among all the voices though there was one that stood out, Alec!
Max was torn between her motherly instincts to stay with her children and her desire to be reunited with her mate. Anguished she looked back and forth between the door and the table where Zachary and Eva sat. Joshua noted her indecision and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Little Fella go see Alec. Joshua will stay her, keep watch over littler fellas."
Max hugged him gratefully and dashed out the door. She slid to a halt just outside though. It had only been five years since she had last seen Alec, but he looked like he had aged ten. He was still devastatingly handsome, but his face was scarred and he walked with a slight limp. The twinkle had gone out of his eyes too.
Or had it?
Biggs was speaking quietly to Alec. Max assumed he was telling him about her arrival. Sure enough, about that time Alec looked up and saw Max. He paused for a moment as though he couldn't believe it was really her, and then he started walking towards her slowly. Much to her surprise, Max found herself walking towards him as well. They stopped in the middle of the room inches from each other. Alec reached up slowly to caress her face and Max leaned her cheek into his hand. "Is it really you?" Alec finally asked.
Max was too choked up to answer so she just nodded. Without saying another word, Alec took her hand and led Max up the stairs to his office. Closing the door behind them, they began to kiss, each one trying to convey the multitude of emotions that were running through them. There was a loud crash as Alec spun Max around and laid her on the desk, knocking a lamp off in the process. They came together almost frantically, renewing their bond and their love for each other.
An hour later Max and Alec sat in his office exhausted, but happy to be back together. Max had filled Alec in on most of what had happened during the escape and in the years following. She tearfully told him about Zack's return and about his death a few months before. She only thing she left out was the children. She had decided to surprise him with that when they had finished catching up. Max felt a little guilty for leaving her children alone for so long, but she knew they would be safe with Joshua and knowing them they were all the best of friends by now.
Taking Alec's hands in hers, Max leaned in for another sweet kiss and then asked "Alec, will you tell me what happened to you after the escape? Biggs told me a little bit, but I want to hear about it from you."
Alec's eyes grew dark as he thought back to his time at the hands of Ames White and his Familiars. He knew that Max deserved to know everything, but the memory was horrifying to recall. Taking a deep breath and repressing a shudder he began, "Zack and I were running for the exit as the building began to crumble around us. The last explosion caused a large chunk of the ceiling to fall in our path, blocking the exit. We tried to turn around but there was no place to go. I remember seeing the wall collapse on top of Zack and I tried to push him out of the way, but I wasn't fast enough. A large piece hit him on the head and then we were both buried. When I came to my leg was fractured. I tried to use some of the wall plaster to set the break, but the pain was too severe and I passed out again. I think I vaguely remember hearing Zack call my name at one point and I think he may have tried to pull me free, but I can't be sure."
Max nodded. "He did try, but the gash on his head and the blood loss he sustained caused him to pass out before he succeeded. He said you were gone by the time he came to again."
Alec smiled briefly and squeezed Max's hand, "Zack seemed like a good guy. I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to know him better." Clearing his throat a little he continued his story, "The next thing I remember clearly I was in the back of a military convoy. Someone had set my leg temporarily, but it never really healed right. I was handcuffed but the cuffs were too strong for me to break. There was only one other person in the back with me. A sadistic S.O.B. by the name of Ames White. He's a member of a group called the Familiars. They're strong and fast like us but they have a higher tolerance to pain than we do. They weren't created in a lab like we were either. Apparently they've existed for centuries and have cultivated what they consider to be the perfect humans through years of selective breeding. They consider us to be an abomination of nature and maybe we are, but we are nothing like them. These sickos kill the first two children out of every marriage because their legends say that only the third child will have the correct genetic traits. Then, as is that weren't twisted enough, they send their kids off to some special boarding school where they are forced to submit to some ritual involving poisonous snakes. Only the kids that survive the test are considered to be worthy of further training."
Max grew ill at the thought, "And here I thought Manticore was evil." She shuttered at the thought of her children being subjected to something like that. "So what did they want you for?"
Alec's voice grew even quieter and Max moved over to sit in his lap so she could comfort him. "They thought they could force me to capture other transgenics for them. When I refused they tortured me. It was worse than anything Manticore ever did, but I still refused. After everything we risked to free the transgenics, there was no way in hell I was handing anyone over to them. Then they started in with the psychological stuff. They almost broke me when they said that you and the others had been captured too. They told me horrible lies about the things they had done to you and they tried to tell me that you had given me and the others up to save yourself. That's when I knew they were lying. I still thought you were dead, but I knew it wasn't at their hands. At that point I figured my best chance was to go along with them, to pretend that they had broken me and to try to find a way to escape. Unfortunately for me, they were too smart for that. They put an explosive in my neck as a safeguard. If I tried to run, they'd hit the switch and blow my head off. I managed to fool them for a while. I found a few transgenics that were already dead and I cut off their barcodes as proof. In the meantime I was looking for someone who could deactivate the device. By chance I ran into one of Manticore's scientists. He was looking some fast cash to get out of town so I paid him $5,000 and he took care of it for me. Once I was free of the device I went to ground and stayed hidden until all of this started going down. Now that I'm out in the open again they'll probably come looking for me. That means if you stay here you'll be in danger too, Max."
Max smacked him lightly on the shoulder, "What do you mean, if I stay here? You're not getting rid of me that easily." She softened her tone a little bit and shifted so that she could look him directly in the eyes. "I'm here Alec, and I'm not leaving again, not without you. I love you; you are my mate!"
"I love you too, Max!" Alec kissed her, softly at first but then it deepened.
A knock at the door interrupted them and Max jumped up. "Come in!" Alec called.
Biggs stuck his head in and grinned at their still slightly dishelved appearance. "Well, well, looks like ya'll have been busy catching up." Max jokingly stuck her tongue out at him. "Max, I'm sorry to have interrupted, but Joshua had to go back to the mess hall and Zachary and Eva are looking for you."
Max nodded, "Of course, how thoughtless of me, I should have come to get them long ago. Could you bring them up, Biggs?"
Biggs nodded back and closed the door again.
"Who's Zachary and Eva? Alec asked curiously.
Turning back to Alec, Max took a deep breath. "Alec, there's something I haven't told you yet. Zachary and Eva are my children."
Alec blinked, "You have children? How old are they?"
"Almost 5 ½. They were born on Zack's farm in Canada," Max paused waiting for this to sink in. She knew this was going to come as a shock to Alec, but she really wasn't prepared for the response that she got.
"Five and a half, huh? Boy, you and Zack didn't waste any time did you?" Alec's voice got loud in anger.
Max sputtered, unable to believe what she was hearing. How could Alec possibly think that Zachary and Eva were Zack's kids? Didn't he know her at all? Max was about to respond to the allegations when another knock announced Biggs arrival. Opening the door, Max ushered her children inside and thanked Biggs. Max knelt down between the little boy and girl. "Alec, I'd like you to meet my children, Zachary Alec and Eva Alexis." With a sweet smile Max continued, "Zachary, Eva, this is your daddy."
Zachary looked at Alec for a moment and then stepped forward . He held out his hand "It's an honor to meet you, Sir. Mommy and Uncle Zack told us all about you."
Alec looked at the little boy in front of him and then looked at Max in astonishment. "They're really ours?"
Max smiled, "Remember the first time we were together? I was in heat. Turns out I was three months pregnant when we escaped from Manticore. Zack and Meeks helped me deliver them. Their first names are in honor of my brother and sister who sacrificed themselves for me, and their middle names are both in honor of you, their father."
Alec dropped to his knees beside his son, taking the little boy's hand he shook it solemnly. He tried to speak, but he was too choked up. Gathering the little boy and girl into his arms, the tears ran down Alec's face. He picked both of the children up and looked at Max with wonder on his face.
Max walked towards them and embraced her family, tears of happiness running down her face too. They were finally home, and they were a family!
(for real this time)