Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
A/n: I borrowed the idea of the Medtronics tunnel under the fence of TC from Skin Game, but this story is set post FN. You don't need to have read the books to understand it. Enjoy!
Chapter 1: Twenty Minutes
Terminal City, 10am.
Reluctantly, Max headed back into the command centre after taking a tour of the perimeter at Terminal City with Joshua. She was starting to feel stifled after being stuck in there for almost two weeks now, and touring the defences seemed as good an excuse as any to get out and get some exercise.
"Hey, Alec," she called to her fellow X5 and SIC when she entered. "Logan around?"
"He's still trying to hack the National Guard's communications. Hasn't moved for the last thirty hours or so."
"What! You let an ordinary work for thirty hours without food or rest?"
"Like I could have stopped him. Anyway, Luke's been keeping him supplied with caffeine and junk food. And we do need to listen in on them ASAP…"
"And Logan's the only one we have with enough expertise to do it, I know." They came up behind the man in question, seated behind a huge array of computer equipment stacked with cups half full of cold coffee. His long, slender fingers were flying over the keyboard; not even noticing their approach as his whole attention was focussed on the screen. Max smiled wistfully, thinking of all the times she had walked into his office in the penthouse and just watched him working. He looks so cute when he's concentrating, she thought, with that little crease between his eyebrows…
"I'm in," Logan exclaimed suddenly. "Hey, everyone, come listen in to National Guard Radio." Luke, Dix, and Mole joined Max, Joshua and Alec behind Logan's chair. The journalist hit enter and a crackly voice could be clearly heard throughout the command centre.
"Command to all units, take cover, bombers ETA 20 minutes and counting, repeat, take cover and prepare to mop up the leftovers."
In the command centre, there was a stunned silence.
"Did he just say bombers? They're going to blow us up?" Alec's voice was far from his usual cocky tones.
"Like hell they are," said Max, taking the lead. "We're gonna have to evacuate TC. I want everyone, and I mean everyone, in the meeting place. We can gather there and then head for the tunnel. This time no one's going to be left behind."
"I can copy loops into the camera feeds so they don't see your exit point," offered Logan.
"Great. You work your magic, we'll go spread the word. You have ten minutes before we break for Medtronics. And if you aren't there in fifteen, I'm coming back for you."
"Understood. Now get going." Logan tore his crystal blue eyes from Max's warm brown ones and went to work, his fingers moving so fast on the keys they blurred.
The entire population of Terminal City was assembled in the garage that was their meeting point. Max stepped onto her makeshift podium and an instant silence fell.
"Guys, there's no easy way to say this, but we don't have much time so here goes. There is a tunnel under the perimeter fence. We have to evacuate TC in the next ten minutes. Don't worry, we'll be back very soon. The air force are going to try to bomb us out, then the ground troops will come in to finish us off. We leave before the bombs start falling, and attack the infantry when they come in. Now let's move. Everyone follow me, fast and orderly."
Logan had just finished work on the camera feeds and was about to go to meet Max when an idea struck him that could give the transgenics enough time to get clean away. He sat back down and began the fastest - and most important - hack he'd ever done.
"ETA five minutes and closing," said the squadron leader of the four bombers heading for Terminal City. Logan pushed his spacebar and spoke into his mike.
"Squadron alpha, this is command, abort mission. Repeat, abort. We have unfriendlies aiming missile launchers at you from rooftop cover. Do not enter target airspace or you will be shot down causing unacceptable civilian casualties."
"Negative, command, we have no visual on any anti aircraft positions."
"We have definite visual confirmation in our cameras. Abort mission, now!"
Logan's apartment and the tunnel leading to it were packed with transgenics. Max, Alec and Joshua were the last to enter. "Right, that's everyone," said Max. "Alec, Joshua, you lead them all to Logan's lobby." She was referring to the abandoned office building Logan used to enter and leave the Terminal City tunnel. "Keep as quiet and unnoticeable as you can."
"What about you, little fella?" Asked Joshua, concerned.
"I'm going back for Logan."
"Max, there's no time. We need you to lead; you're CO, not me. I'll get Logan, just get the others to safety."
Max opened her mouth to argue, but all that came out was "Thanks, Alec. Go. Come on, Joshua, you're with me. Oh, and Alec? Be careful."
"Yes, ma'am." Alec gave a little mock salute before he turned back to Terminal City.
National Guard headquarters outside Terminal City.
"Sir, someone's jamming our comms! We can't talk to any of our people." A computer expert called his immediate superior over to his workstation.
"What? That's impossible, isn't it?"
"Manticore must have built some top notch computer hackers. They're probably talking to Squadron Alpha, trying to stall them. I'm going to try and reboot the satellite feed, get the attack code through to the aircraft." The man was typing as he spoke.
"Damn it," exclaimed Logan. His hands moved faster than ever, desperately trying to stop the attack message getting through. Too late.
"Command, we've just received the attack code signal. We're going in."
"You are disobeying a direct order, commander!"
"Sorry, sir, standing orders take precedence. Target acquired. Releasing payload in 5, 4, 3…"
Original Cindy and Sketchy, both leaning their bikes against a wall outside Jam Pony, looked up as the planes zoomed overhead. They turned to face each other, saying only one word.
Each saw their own fear reflected in each other's faces.
"2, 1, 0…"
Max and Joshua reached the window of the escape building just in time to see the jets approach. She watched as the first bomb whistled down from the lead plane, and hit the command centre. The building collapsed spectacularly as the explosion ripped through it, blowing shattered glass in all directions. Joshua put his arm around her. "Alec got him out, you'll see. They'll be here soon."
Logan was still typing frantically, trying to do something, anything, to stall the airforce, when the bomb hit. He only had time to hit the floor before the building collapsed on top of him.
Alec reached the stairs that led up into the main building of Medtronics. The second bomb hit directly over the head of the young transgenic as the tunnel caved in, burying him in debris.
The entire population of Terminal City had gathered at the windows of the office block, watching as their toxic homeland was destroyed before their eyes. The bombers made pass after pass, systematically striking every building until only rubble was left.
Terminal City had been levelled in less than 30 minutes.
Cindy and Sketchy arrived at the building just after the planes had departed. They rushed inside, and asked the nearest transgenic where Max was. He pointed them in the right direction and they soon found her, still holding tightly to Joshua as she gazed in disbelief at the scene before her.
A runner, one of the X6's arrived, skidding to a halt in beside her. "The tunnel's collapsed, Max! We can't get back through, what should we do?"
"Max!" Called Cindy. "Oh, thank god you're ok, boo." The X5 didn't move.
Max turned around. The two bike messengers were shocked at her expression. "Ok? I'm not ok. I'll never be ok again. Find someone else to play CO. I quit." She stalked away.
"What happened? Is everyone ok?" Asked Sketchy.
"We have two men MIA," said Mole, answering his question.
"Who?" Said Cindy.
"Alec and Logan," said Joshua, his soulful eyes the saddest thing Cindy had ever seen.
Please review and tell me who you want to survive, Logan, Alec, both or neither.