Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters obviously do not belong to me. I am writing this purely for non-profit entertainment. No infringement intended, so don't sue me!
A/N: Thank you very much for your reviews of the last chapter. And now, read on to find out how it all concludes. It's MUCH longer than the usual chapters, so be warned.
For those of you who are reading the rest of my stories, my updates will be sporadic at best for the next few weeks due to my wedding arrangements. I'm sorry I can't do it more regularly, but it's a really busy month for me.
Retrieved - Chapter 39 – Conclusion
"Max!" he yelled as he caught Max in his arms. Gathering her close to him, his eyes skimmed her face, noticing its paleness. "Max, come on. Don't do this to us."
As he continued to watch her, willing her to wake up, she suddenly jerked into consciousness. Cracking her eyes open, she mumbled, "Alec?" And then she smiled at him. "Took you long enough, soldier."
Alec blinked back the sharp sting in his eyes, forcing himself to stay calm. They were not out of danger yet. "Max, we're going to get you out of here, okay? You need to hang on," he said, hardly noticing the crowd of transgenics gathering around them.
Max nodded weakly. "Stay with me, Alec," she whispered before her eyes fluttered shut. "I'm so tired."
Shaking her slightly, he urged, "Don't sleep. You've got to stay awake." Pulling himself up, he cradled Max in his arms and made for the exit, the rest of the transgenics, now subdued, following close behind him.
Before they could reach the stairs, a group of familiars appeared. Alec's eyes narrowed as he noticed who was leading the team.
"White," Alec gritted out. This whole mess was White's fault. White had been the one responsible for the capture of Sandeman, and subsequently the need for the whole stupid mission. And now Max was hurt. In Alec's eyes, the scum in front of him was responsible for it.
"I see we meet again," White sneered. Inclining his head at the unconscious Max, he said, "Aw, isn't that sweet. Your little mutant mate got hurt in the fight. What a shame."
Alec's jaw twitched as he tried to squash the urge to make mincemeat out of the familiar. Turning to Mick, who was standing by his side, Alec said, "Watch Max for me. I have a score to settle with that piece of shit."
Nodding, Mick took Max from Alec's arms, backing away from them into a relatively more secure position.
Cracking his knuckles, Alec raised an eyebrow at White and smirked, "What are you waiting for then?"
With a sneer, White dashed towards Alec. The other familiars, following his example, also made for the rest of the transgenics.
The transgenics held their ground, waiting for the familiars to make the first contact.
The second chopper just touched down, but the pilot continued to let it run. He knew that they had to take off very soon,
The transgenics dashed towards the open door, where Zack was leaning out to lend them a hand. The unconscious Blade and Beet were supported by a bulky X3 known as Keg, and a few more injured transgenics who were still mobile managed to make their way into the chopper in one piece. Just after Zack helped Matt, who was carrying Mick over his shoulders, Zack turned to see Alec approaching with Max in his arms.
"What the hell happened in there?" Zack snapped, his features expressing his concern at the state Max and Mick was in. Not to mention the rest of them.
The field med on board the chopper quickly checked Max over. "It's just a flesh wound. Nothing to worry about."
Watching the field med dress Max's wound, Alec said without looking up, "White and his lot showed up after Max killed the High Priestess."
"Yeah, I heard all that on the comms," Zack said in exasperation. And then gesturing at Mick and Max, he said, "But how did they get this way?"
Matt sighed. "We didn't see how Max got stabbed, but Mick here had a run-in, literally with White. Where's Sandeman?"
Zack shook his head slowly. "We sent him back in the first chopper with the field meds. But he didn't make it."
"What? But…" Matt stopped, suddenly at a loss for words when the news sank in fully. "Oh, hell," he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Look at it this way, at least we've disposed of quite a few of the familiars," Alec said, putting a hand on Matt's shoulder. Then turning to Max, Alec gently brushed her hair away from her face. "I just wish I got to her earlier. Then maybe I'd get to her before she got stabbed," he said, his expression remorseful.
"No, Sandeman specifically told me to watch over her. And look what I did. I left her," Zack said with a frown of self-disgust.
"Come on, guys. If anyone's to blame, it's me. I'm leading the team, remember? I should have waited for backup before rushing in like that into the chamber," Matt said.
Alec sighed. "If you put it that way, then I'm responsible for the state Mick's in as well. And-" he started to say, but was cut short by the moan which came from Max. "Max!" he exclaimed. "How're you feeling?"
Max groaned before she cracked her eyes open. "Like hell. I rest easier if the three of you stop yapping. For crying out loud, you sound like a bunch of whinging kids. How's a girl supposed to recuperate with all that noise."
Before they could reply, Mick, who was strapped to the seat further in front, shuffled awake. "She's got a point there, guys," he croaked just as his hand flew to his head. "Damn, I'll kill that bastard of a familiar if I ever see him again."
"Too late. Alec has done it for you," Matt said with a grin, glad that Mick and Max were conscious and talking.
Alec waved his hand in a dismissive gesture. "Piece of cake," he said cockily.
Max snorted. "That's why you're all covered in bruises, right?"
"Battle scars, Max. Battle scars. I'm proud of it," Alec said with a grin. "Now, all I need now is for you to kiss it better."
"Ugh. Can the two of you wait till we're at least back in Manticore in the privacy of your own cells before starting this sappy crap?" Mick asked, a revolted look on his face. And then suddenly, with a mischievous grin, he asked, "I take it you two have made up after the thing about Sam, then?"
"Mick, I thought you needed to sleep. Won't want to undo all the medic's hard work now, do we?" Alec threw back with a glare. Unsure how Max would react at the reminder of their recent fight, he turned around to look at her apprehensively.
When he saw the pensive look on her face, his heart sank.
Noticing the exchange between Alec and Max, Matt cleared his throat and said pointedly to Zack, "We better go check on the rest of them in front."
Understanding his meaning, Zack nodded and went with Matt, leaving Max and Alec with some modicum of privacy.
Alec tapped at his comms, deactivating it, watching silently as Max followed suit. He lowered himself into the empty seat beside Max. Inhaling deeply, he said, "So… about what Mick said…"
Max raised her eyebrows, her expression sombre. "You mean if everything is okay after what you've done to me?"
"Max. I'm really sorry. I know that what I did was terrible, but I thought you were having sex with Mick when you didn't even let me. It won't happen again, I promise. Please, Max," he pleaded.
"It won't happen again?" Max asked with a frown. "Gee, Alec, was having sex with me THAT bad an experience?"
"Huh? No…NO. That wasn't what I mean. It was good, but like that. Not when you say no. I felt so sick at myself after I realised what I've done. I mean, I would-" he suddenly paused, his eyes narrowing at the pinched look on Max's face. "Max… You're yanking my chain, aren't you?" he said accusingly.
Unable to contain it anymore, Max started laughing. "That was priceless," she gasped between her laughter. Then she grimaced. "Ouch, that hurts," she groaned, clutching her bandaged side.
His lips twitching, Alec pointed out, "You asked for it. That's for fooling around with my feelings."
"That's harsh, Max. MY feelings, that's what!"
"Okay, okay. There's no need to get all pissy about it," she said, then grinned. "Though I like it when you got all flustered. Kind of make a chance from your usual smart-aleck attitude to things."
Alec snorted. "What, now you want me to change now after so many years?"
Max gave him a look which warmed his heart. "No, I like you the way you are. Don't change a thing." she said, pulling him into her arms.
Leaning into the hug, Alec whispered in her ears, "Max, you're all that I want, you know that."
Max smiled into his neck, glad that they finally admitted their feelings to each other. Well, in a way.
Asha ran up the stairs to the first floor, where Logan's room was. She came as soon as she got Jondy's phone call. She knew something bad would happen with the whole deal with White. Not that they have proof that it was White, but who else could it be?
She continued to run along to hallway until she turned around the corner to find Jondy standing outside a room.
"Jondy," Asha called out breathlessly. "Where's he? Is he okay?"
Pointing to the closed door next to her, Jondy said, "He just woke up. The doctor is in there giving him a check-up now. She said we can go see him after she's finished with him."
Sighing in relief, Asha slumped into the seat beside the door. "Thank god he's alright."
Jondy looked down at the floor, uncertainty written clear across her face. Then carefully, she said, "I wouldn't really say that. He's alive but he sustained some damage."
Asha's eyes rounded. "What do you mean?" she asked, her voice full of trepidation.
"A bullet hit the base of his spine. The doctor said that it is unlikely that he will regain function of his legs."
Asha felt her breath catch in her throat. Gaping incredulously at Jondy, she choked out, "What? No!" She continued to look at Jondy beseechingly, hoping that the other woman would confirm that it was a mistake.
"Who did this?" Asha asked, suddenly feeling angry.
Jondy sighed. "We have no proof. But you know the guy Logan's working with? White? I think it's him."
"Why do you think so?" Although Asha suspected the same thing, she wanted to hear what Gab thought.
Jondy shrugged. "He threatened Logan before, didn't he? And he seems shady enough. But I told you, no proof."
At that moment, the door to Logan's room swung open. The doctor walked out and stood in front of them. Asha recognised her as Dr Shankar, one of Logan's friends.
"He's stable now, and asking to see you all. Keep it short. He needs to rest," Dr Shankar said.
Quietly, Jondy and Asha filed in.
Logan's broken voice greeted them from the bed. "Hey, nice to see you."
Asha went to sit by his side. Her eyes suspiciously damp, she said, "I'm so sorry, Logan. Your legs…"
Logan looked away. "Hazards of the job, I guess," he said tightly. It was clear to Jondy and Asha that it was the last thing he wanted to talk about.
"Do you know the people who did this?" Jondy asked softly, changing the topic.
"At first I thought it was Manticore, because I'd just done a broadcast. But they can't have possibly found me so soon. So it must be someone else. The only person that comes to mind is White," he ground out angrily.
Asha nodded. "We came to the same conclusion."
"I've been thinking. White's the one who had been feeding me information about Manticore. Now I'm beginning to wonder if any of it is true. I won't put it past him to come up with something like that," Logan said thoughtfully. Then turning to the two women, he asked, "Either of you familiar with computers?"
Giving Logan a questioning look, Jondy said, "I'm alright but my friend, Biggs, is much better at it."
"Can he be trusted?"
"Of course. What do you need done?" Jondy asked.
"I need you to go to my penthouse and stop the next broadcast," Logan said resolutely.
It took her a while, but she finally made it to Logan's penthouse. Just as she was about to enter, Gab and Biggs emerged from the building, their expressions broadcasting their displeasure.
"Hey, guess what?" she started, almost jumping out of her skin in her excitement when she reached them. "Logan wants us to stop the broadcast. He gave me the code for it. All we have to do is to enter it in one of his computers."
Gab and Biggs exchanged a look.
"What?" Jondy asked, confused at their reaction. A little warning bell went off in her head.
"Well, we got here an hour ago, but the whole place was already trashed," Biggs said tightly.
Jondy gaped. "What do you mean? Trashed? Can you be more specific?"
"Trashed as in everything was smashed to bits, all the furniture broken and all the electronic stuff, computer included, are now only useful in a junkyard," Biggs replied.
"No…" Jondy whispered, her eyes wide in shock. "But how are we supposed to stop the broadcast then?"
Gab shook his head. "It's too late. We need to inform Manticore of this development. I'm guessing that this was the work of those familiars who shot him. Logan must have seriously pissed them off. He got shot in the spine, and now he's paralysed from waist down."
"The guy really asked for it. No one forced him to work with such a slime," Biggs said carelessly.
"Come on, Biggs. How was he supposed to know? Look, the three of us did not even connect White and the familiars until Sandeman got kidnapped," Jondy pointed out in exasperation.
Gab sighed, knowing that someone had to break the news to Manticore. "Now, the only thing which remains is; who's going to call Lydecker?"
Jondy and Biggs both pointed at Gab simultaneously.
"I should have guessed," Gab muttered under his breath.
Putting down the phone, Lydecker squeezed his eyes shut, his expression weary. The time had come. The phonecall he had received from Gab basically confirmed that they had run out of options.
It was 2340 hours. He was pacing in the vehicle depot, watching closely as his 'kids' returned from the mission. They had sustained a number of injuries. Apart from Sandeman, there were no fatalities. For that, he was thankful. He was not happy that the primary objective of getting Sandeman out of there had not been successfully completed, but at least the secondary objective of taking down the familiars had been successful.
Turning to Mia, who was trying to calm a traumatised X6 using her skills, Lydecker said, "When you're done with her, gather your unit and get Mole to gather all the transhumans to the training ground for 0200 hours."
Mia looked up. "What about the rest? The X-series?"
"All their COs and Second in Command are in the med bay for one reason of another. I'm heading that way, so I'll tell them myself," Lydecker replied.
With that, he swivelled round and headed towards the med bay.
The transgenics flooded the hallways just minutes before 0200 hours, all heading towards the training grounds.
"I can't believe Lydecker can't wait until morning to tell us whatever he needs to tell us. I mean, it's two in the morning for crying out loud," Max grumbled to Alec, who had not left her side ever since they had boarded the chopper.
Alec grinned. "I thought with your shark DNA, you won't have a problem staying awake."
"It's nothing to do with my shark DNA. I just got stabbed, and damn it, it still hurts," Max snapped irritably.
"You're whining, Max," Alec pointed out with a smirk.
Max glared at him. "Whose side are you on?"
Alec widened his eyes and held his arms out in a defensive gesture. "Yours, of course," he said in an exaggerated tone.
"Ass," Max said, her lips twitching.
Alec laughed and wrapped his arms around her.
"Oh, will you two just get a room?" Mick exclaimed from behind them.
Tossing a glance over his shoulders at Mick, Alec said, "Hey, don't take it out on us. It's not our fault that the Canadian team is housed in a separate block."
Grumbling under his breath, Mick did not reply.
A few moments later, they were lined up in their respective units, each headed by their COs. Lydecker stood in front of them, waiting for them to compose themselves before he spoke.
"I'll attempt to keep this short because we have a lot of work to do tonight and tomorrow," Lydecker started, watching the confusion flickering in the less-well disguised expressions on some of the transgenics.
"Manticore's location is about to be compromised. An Eyes Only broadcast at 1900 hours today will reveal the location of this facility. As it is, there are already some problems arising with the first broadcast. Many people are not happy about the existence of Manticore. The second broadcast is sure to bring the public down on us."
"So we worked up a plan. The main objective is to make the broadcast appear fake. It is not perfect, and it relies on all of you to work together. It had been passed through the Committee, and although they were wary, they agreed that it is the only choice we have. Manticore's policy is to cauterise the site whenever there is a risk of exposure. Now, this exposure will happen in seventeen hours, and we will move everyone out and cauterise the site, basically wiping out all evidence of the existence of Manticore. The problem is, we do not have enough back-up facilities to house all of you, so you will be split up."
A wave of exclamations of surprise was issued from the sea of transgenics in front of him. Lydecker held him hand up, and the transgenics went silent.
"We have grouped everyone based on skillset and suitability for the safe-areas. Listen carefully, because soon after this meeting, I want you all to go off in your respective groups to discuss the logistics. I have the files here detailing your locations and your roles. All transhumans, Psy-Ops, X4 field meds and the X3s will be moved to a facility together. Mole will be in command and Mia will assist," Lydecker said, nodding to Mole, who had a very uncharacteristic look of shock on his face.
"All X7s and X8s will be moved to one location, together with the Manticore administration and training team to supervise. A select number of X4s and Psy-ops personnel will also join them," Lydecker said. "X7s and X8s to remain on this training ground after this meeting for further instuctions."
"Yes, sir," a chorus of young voices reached him.
Lydecker took a deep breath. Wondering for the hundredth time if they were doing the right thing. It all could turn pear-shaped for all he knew, but what other choice did they have?
"Now, for those of you who are X4s, X5s and X6s. The ratio of X6s to X4s and X5s, including the Canadian team, is approximately one to two. A pair of X4 or X5 will be responsible for a least one X6 unit," Lydecker said, watching the frown of confusion deepen in the foreheads of the X4s, X5s an X6s.
"The two X4s or X5s will stay together with the X6s, and will integrate into normal society in an allocated location," Lydecker said.
The exclamations of surprise were deafening this time. Lydecker waited for them to calm down, but when it looked as if it would not happen anytime soon, he held up his hand and asked with a small smile, "Any questions?"
"Sir, won't exposure be an issue?" Jace asked as the transgenics watched Lydecker expectantly..
Lydecker turned to him. "All of you have been on mission where you keep a certain cover as an Ordinary. You will have a new identity and the relevant paperwork to support it. There's no reason to think that you cannot sustain your cover in the longer term. If exposure seems imminent, there's always the option to relocate," he replied.
"What about the chain of command? Who are we reporting to?" Sandy asked, a small frown marring her brow.
"Your current Commanding Officer will be responsible for you, and in turn, will report back to Manticore through a set channel. Your responsibility is to report your progress to your Commanding Officer on a regular basis. The X6s continue to be under the command of X5-452, hence to some extend, there will be some interaction between all X4s and X5s with 452 when it comes to their X6 buddy."
"What about missions? Will that not affect our cover?" Dana, the CO of the X4 unit asked.
"You will continue with your missions as required. I will be in touch with your Commanding Officers whenever you're to be deployed for a mission. As for your cover, I'm sure you can think up a good enough excuse to disappear for a few days. Those who are currently on missions will remain in their current position, keeping their current cover. I will be in contact with them to brief them about this."
Alec was next. "How do we subsidise our living? Will we be given expenses similar to what we have now during missions?"
"Perhaps in a slightly different way, but yes. Now, as you're gaining a considerable amount of freedom, we feel that you should be given the responsibility to earn your own way. You will be paid for your missions and your cover should help you earn more."
A few of the transgenics grinned at this.
"Are our partners allocated as well?" Val asked, worried that she and Matt would be separated.
"Your Commanding Officer would know best which pair works best together. So all COs will be required to produce a list of pairs of transgenics they feel could live and work together in the long term, and then 452 will add the X6 counterpart to the list. The list should also reflect any requests for particular names you want to use," Lydecker lips twitched before he continued, "I know for a fact that many of you already have name of sorts, hence we might as well utilise it."
Some of the transgenics smiled sheepishly.
The briefing seemed to have taken forever. Practically every transgenic had something to ask, and Lydecker answered them all, sometimes with the help of Brain, who came up with the entire masterplan in the first place. The only real uncomfortable moment was when Lydecker told them that all of them would have to report to the med bay for tracer implants after the meeting. He explained that it was necessary for security purposes and that it was required by the Committee. However understanding the Committee had been on the plan, they had felt that they needed to protect their investment.
It was another hour before the transgenics left for the med bay and then later scattered to carry out their various tasks, and another five hours before they re-gathered in the training ground to spread the result of their sleepness night.
The nine members of unit 4, Gab excluded, sat around the rectangular in a briefing room. Matt sat at the head of the table with a small notepad in front of him, tapping his pen as he glanced around at his unit members thoughtfully.
"Right. There are nine of us here. What I've got so far is Sandy with Zip, Cass with Speed, Blade with Treve and I will go with Val. I have spoken to Lydecker and we feel that Max will be capable of handing herself as a solo operative, especially seeing that she will have the responsibility of the X6s to contend with. Anyone have any comments?" Matt asked.
Treve grinned. "Hey, how come the three other pairs include chicks and I have to end up with Blade?"
Matt glared at him. "I feel that the two of you work best together."
Sandy laughed and said, "We know how close you two are. Reminds me of a husband and a wife."
"What do you know about husbands and wives anyway? It's not like you have much contact with any of them," Blade shot back.
"Well, I'm not changing the list again. We have lots more to do before we're ready to move out," Matt said sternly.
"How are we doing this? I suppose we're moving out in intervals, otherwise it might get a bit suspicious," Max said.
Matt nodded and was about reply to Max when the door to their briefing room opened.
Alec popped his head in. "You're still at it?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. "I need to talk to Max about the X6s. I've got my list here."
"I think we're done, unless you have any other questions?" Matt asked, looking around. "No? Then you're dismissed."
The room cleared at record speed, the transgenics excited at the prospect of the change, leaving Max, Matt and Alec behind.
Handing Max the list with the pairing and the names of those in Unit 4, Matt said, "Okay, I think you can add in your bit now. Do you want me to come get it from you to give it to Lydecker later, or you'll be doing it?"
Max took the list from him. "I'll just give it to him when I've filled in every unit's lists with their X6s counterparts."
Matt nodded his thanks and left the room.
Turning her attention to Alec, Max said, "Hey, you're giving me the list or not?"
His eyes twinkling mischievously, Alec drawled, "What do I get in return?"
Max widened her eyes. "Oh? I wasn't aware that I have to submit payment for the list."
Alec stepped closer to her. "I guess I just have to help myself to you then," he said, snagging her around the waist.
Max leaned in as Alec lowered his lips onto hers, drawing circles on her back as he deepened the kiss. She moaned softly as he moved his lips further south, caressing her soft skin slowly.
When they finally broke apart, Alec grinned and said, "Well, I guess that will do."
Max smacked his arm. "That's it? That's what you rate it as? Just a 'will do'?"
"I would love to show you more, but I think Lydecker might object if we're late for our deployment," Alec said, smirking.
Max rolled her eyes. "Deployment starts at 1000 hours," she pointed out.
"Talk about deployment, who're you paired up with?" Alec asked, a bit too casually.
Grinning, Max said, "Why do you need to know?"
"I think it's not unreasonable to ask who is going to be living with my girl for who knows how long," Alec growled, sounding irritated.
Max raised her eyebrows as she detected the tone of jealousy in his voice. "Well, funny you should ask…"
"Who is it?" Alec snapped impatiently.
Putting a hand on his arms, Max said softly, "No one."
"Huh? What do you mean? No one? Your unit has even numbers, right?" Alec asked, confusion marring his brow.
"Odd numbers, Alec. Our unit have one odd person, because Gab's out in the field. So, I'm operating solo. Considering that I actually have to be running around checking on the X6s all the time, it seemed to be a sensible idea," she explained with a shrug.
Alec relaxed visibly, much to Max's amusement. "I guess it make sense," and then brightening, he said, "Hey, what do you say we kind of, you know, hang around together? I'm operating solo as well."
"Um, I don't know about that," she said, watching the almost imperceptible stiffening of Alec's posture. Then grinning, she continued, "Of course I'd like that, you dumbass."
Alec threw her a dirty look. "You did that on purpose."
Max laughed. "You should know me better than to ask me this type of questions," she said, wrapping her arms around him. "I think it'll be nice to stay with you, you know, to have someone's ass to kick regularly."
"I knew you have an obsession with my perfect ass," Alec retorted.
Max rolled her eyes. "Now, are you going to give me that list or not? We've got work to do."
Alec handed her the list, smiling innocently.
At 1000 hours, the first batch of transgenics left the Seattle facility. The X7s and X8s, all dressed in private school uniforms suitable for children of the age of four to eight, marched up into two buses, their footsteps synchronised. Lydecker watched as one of the drill sergeants, Hales, ticked off the young transgenics' names on the list he held in his hand. The adult portion of the party consisted of the drill sergeants, nurses, scientists and several X4s. Their destination was a new boarding school in Wyoming.
At 1135 hours, the second batch of transgenics, including the Desert, Arctic and the Trench Division left the facility. The logistics of the move were more complicated this time. The transhumans needed to be transferred in such a way that they would not attract undue attention, particularly considering their destination. Large, sturdy barrels with air-holes at the top were used to hide the transhumans during their transit in a truck to someplace they only knew as Terminal City.
At 1230 hours, the Battle Processors Unit, the psy-ops, the X3s and the X4 field meds, making up only eighteen of the non-transhuman Terminal City crew, left the facility in four SUVs. They were clad in the standard industrial hazard wear, disguised as sterilisation personnel. Part of the plan actually involved these transgenics cleaning up part of the city to enable habitation by Ordinaries, namely Lydecker and some other Manticore personnel, as Terminal City would form the main base for all the 'free' transgenics.
At 1415 hours, the San Francisco team of Unit 1 and 5, clad in Ordinary clothes, made their way in pairs together with their respective X6s to various vehicles. Led by Dana and Scrib, they left the facility, some on bikes and some in cars.
At 1605 hours, the Portland team of Unit 3 and the Underwater Division, led by Jace, left the facility in their small teams of three members. The X5s and the X6s would form the ground crew and the Underwater Division would be operating mainly from the surrounding waterway.
At 1650 hours, the Seattle team of Unit 4 and Unit 6, led by Matt and Alec, headed for their various vehicles. Max and Alec immediately went for a black Ninja and a green Ducati respectively, grinning at each other as they revved up their bikes and roared out of Manticore.
At 1740 Manticore's facility in Seattle no longer housed any transgenics.
At 1820, Lydecker made a phone call to the Committee. When he hung up, he gave the order to the last few remaining personnel to cauterise the site. He watched from afar as the flames grew and swallowed the buildings which had been known as home to the transgenics.
At 1900 hours, every television in post-pulse America briefly went static before a pair of eyes appeared on the screen. Red, blue and white stripes scrolled across the screen as Eyes Only began to speak.
"Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video. The cable hack will last exactly sixty seconds…"
In a four storey building in Wyoming, approximately a hundred children sat down to dinner at a place which they used to call a mess hall but now called a dining room. At one end of the building, away from the children, a group of scientists, nurses, drill sergeants and X4s crowded around a table, their eyes fixed to the television.
"It cannot be traced, it cannot be stopped, and it is the only free voice left in this city..."
In Terminal City, the transhumans stared at the television which Dix had hooked up several hours ago. Chomping on his cigar, Mole muttered, "Yeah, yeah… who cares? We have better things to do than to listen to THAT verbal diarrhoea. We've got a city to run."
"Manticore's location has been revealed. Your secret is out…"
In San Francisco, Dana pulled up closer to the only remaining SUV parked by the side of the road. Scrib and the rest of the transgenics in the SUV were watching the broadcast in the diner through its glass window, their enhanced hearing allowing them to hear the words even through the glass.
"And now Manticore will be held accountable for its crimes. Manticore's facility is located an hour southwest of Seattle."
In Portland, Zack leaned back as Jace moved across him to grab the remote control. Decreasing the volume, she returned to her spot on the couch and said, "Well, Manticore's facility has grown much bigger now."
"Eyes Only will bring the people responsible for these crimes will be brought to justice."
In Seattle, Max and Alec sat at the bar in a place called Crash, watching the end of the Eyes Only broadcast which had caused them so much upheaval.
"This has been a streaming freedom video bulletin."
Turning to Alec, Max raised her glass of beer. "Here's to new beginnings."
Raising his glass, Alec matched her actions and echoed her words, "To now beginnings." And then he winked, "…and a new, improved relationship between us."
"Oh, man. You're so whipped," a familiar voice interrupted them.
Alec and Max turned around, the identical scowls on their faces turning into grins when they saw Gab, Jondy and Biggs standing behind them, arms crossed over their chests.
"Oh, shut up," Max said to Gab, swiping the back of his head with her palm.
"Damn it, Max! You haven't seen me for ages and this is how you greet me?" Gab complained, rubbing the back of his head.
The transgenics' laughter reverberated across Crash.
A/N: Thank you so much for all your support all through this story. It had taken more than half a year, but at least now it's finished, much to my relief! Hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Please leave me a final review for this story. I would appreciate it!