Disclaimer: I don't own Dark Angel or any of the characters. I am writing this purely for non-profit amusement.

A/N: As this is my first serial, I would really appreciate it if you could review! Thanks!


Chapter 1 - Busted

"X5-452!"

Startled, Max snapped her head back up at the drill sergeant, Hales. At his glare of disapproval, she forced herself to focus on the task at hand.

The X-series were in training for hand-to-hand combat. One of the many training they had to go through.

Hales have one of Max's arm locked in his grip. Max stayed still, knowing that any resistance would be met by nothing but punishment. Without any concern for her, Hales proceeded to swing and toss her down to he ground. She landed on her front with a hard thump. Say hi to bruise number 55, she thought mirthlessly.

Max sighed inwardly, keeping her face expressionless, the Manticore mask intact. She was not too bothered about the fall or the subsequent bruising. She just harbored some resentment at being used as a demonstration tool.

Again.

She guessed she should be used to it. After all it had been six month since they had dragged her back here.

Six months ever since they had taken her freedom away from her.

Her eyes glazed over in remembrance.

"Hey, Max! Are you going to hog all that? I swear, you eat like a pig," asked a laughing teenage girl, pointing at the object in Max's hand.

Max glanced down at the box of pizza and grinned at her friend of three years. "Girl's gotta eat, you know. And I am still growing!" Nevertheless, she pushed the box towards to Dani with a smile.

Both girls sat down at the broken porch of an abandoned house, eating the cold pizza.

"I am so hungry. This is good. Where did you find it?" Dani asked through a mouthful of food.

"Got it from the Italian place a block from here. I grabbed this when the chef was looking the other way," Max said with absently as she took another bite of the cold pizza. Those chefs had barely seen her streaking in and out.

"Now that we found a place to crash, we also need to find more food. Not that it's a problem for you. I'm amazed at the way you get your hands on all sorts of stuff. I'm so jealous," Dani exclaimed good-naturedly to Max who was in the middle of picking peppers off her slice of pizza.

Max shrugged avoiding her friend's gaze. "I was lucky, that's all." Dani had been suspicious of her ability for a while, but Max had hoped that her friend would just accept that she was an exceptional thief. She did not really want to go into the entire Manticore explanation. Not to mention that Dani would probably not believe her.

Dani looked over at Max, seeing a slender dark haired girl with large brown eyes. Dani knew that those eyes had occasionally stared unseeingly into space when Max thought no one was looking. There was something about Max. Something Max refused to talk about. Dani had never pushed; she respected her friend's privacy.

Dani was glad that she had met Max. Just after the Pulse, Dani had escaped from the orphanage. She had been only eleven, scared and lost. Apparently, so was everyone else. Some terrorists had set off an electromagnetic pulse, which single-handedly crushed America's economy. The electro-magnetic pulse disabled any electrical apparatus within its blast radius and rendered all financial data lost beyond recovery.

Max had said, "Now, America's just another broke ex-superpower looking for a handout and wondering why."

Dani had been looking for a place to sleep when she had come across an old garage. It had felt like she had been walking for days. Pushing the metal door aside, she had entered the garage, which had appeared to be abandoned.

"Well, at least it's a roof over my head."

Exhaustion had overtaken her then and she laid down, heavy eyes closing to welcome the much wanted slumber.

Dani had woken to the sound of creaking metal. Through heavy sleep-deprived eye-lids, she had seen a silhouette of a person in front of the garage door. She sat up. The figure did not move.

"Hello" Dani had ventured cautiously as she got to her feet.

Silence greeted her.

And then, after a short pause, Dani heard a wary voice. "What are you doing here?" A girl, she had realized.

"I…I thought… Is this your place?" Dani had asked, unsure of her welcome. She had not been able to see the girls face as it had been hidden in the shadows.

The figure had moved closer, allowing Dani to get her first look at the stranger. Shoulder length dark hair framed a small face with dark, intense eyes. Probably around my age, Dani had thought. Then deciding not to intrude, she had said, "I'm Dani. I spotted this place and thought maybe I could rest for a while. I'm sorry. I'll leave now,"

When Dani had turned towards the door to leave, she had felt the touch of a hand on her arm.

"My name's Max. Its okay, we can share." Max had said, gesturing for Dani to sit.

Max had a bag with her, from which she had extracted a few bags of crisps, a can of soup and some hot-dogs. Noticing Dani's hungry look, she had offered, "Would you like some?"

That had been 3 years ago.

Dani is my closest friend. My only friend. I still miss my brothers and sisters. I wonder where they are now. Zack, Zane, Jondy, Krit, Syl, Tinga, Brin, Ben … Where are they? Max wondered. Max knew that they were out there somewhere. If only she had not fallen through the ice. At least she would be together with Jondy now. She missed her family.

Max stood up from the porch and stretched – cat-like. They had hitch-hiked and walked to Seattle, sneaking through sector check-points for the last few days. Now she was exhausted. That was saying something seeing that Max barely needed any sleep most of the time, thanks to her shark DNA.

Max decided suddenly that she would go for a stroll. Dani declined and said that she prefers to stay and clean up their new crib.

As Max started walking, she started thinking of the lack of furnishing in their new place. Might as well check out if there is any good stuff to help myself to in town, she thought. I suppose there are some perks in being genetically engineered. Might as well put what I've been given to good use. She grinned, relishing the thought of the adrenaline rush in the possible heist ahead.

Malcolm woke up in the morning feeling disgruntled as usual. Back to the daily grind at the lab, he grumbled. Craving a hot cup of coffee, he walked to his kitchen.

And his steps faltered as an unfamiliar sight greeted him.

"Wh… What? Where?" He looked frantically along his kitchen counter. His electric grill, toaster and kettle were missing. His kitchen appliances missing! Of all things!

After a few minutes of stunned silence, he walked to his computer and logged on to the security CCTV. It was a pretty outdated system, but the cameras hidden in the display cabinet may have caught the intruder.

Malcolm scanned through the video. A slight blur caught his eyes and he paused the video. Moving closer to the screen, he saw the side profile of a dark-haired girl.

A girl who looked very familiar.

A girl whose picture was displayed all over Manticore together with eleven others.

Malcolm gasped and picked up the phone, dialing a familiar number.

"Come on, Lydecker…"

t.b.c.