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: We are finally there! The final chapter of Deception! And until now, I still have no idea what genre is this story, so tell me what you think it should be. Thank you all so much for your support during the course of this story. I appreciate all those fantastic reviews you guys left! The reviews cheers me up on all those days when I come back from work all tired and disgruntled! -:grins:-
Thank you to calistra, Angel of Darkness231, mel11, Mystic Fayth, kungfuchick, messymissy, X5898, lakergirl08, Lotamoxie, NoAngell, HoneyX5-452, Sarah, Vkitty, Alana84, GuestTypePerson and Aotearoa Hiphop Grl for the reviews in the previous chapter.Unfortunately, with this thing about not responding to review going around in ffnet, I have decided to reply the last chapter's review on my homepage. So, please visit www. geocities. com/elle6778/Reviews. htm (remember to remove all the spaces!) for individual responses to your reviews.
If any of you remember my other story:Remember, the first chapter of the sequel is now up! It's called Recollection.
Now on with the last chapter of the story...
Deception - Chapter 11
Alec's Manticore Cell: 2055 hours
Alec grinned as he took out the mobile phone. He scrolled down to a preset number. It was already rigged to dial-up to Logan's computer in his penthouse.
He thought back to the day he got out of the car on the way back to Manticore. He had decided then that the only way to redeem himself and to fix this mess was to get rid of Manticore once and for all.
What better way to do it than to take a page out of Eyes Only's book?
He turned to Biggs, noting the calm expression on his friend's face. Biggs was obviously in his soldier mode.
"So, we're all set?" Alec asked; his expression unreadable.
Biggs nodded, "The field medic managed to get what we wanted. She's waiting in her cell with the stuff,"
"Good! And everyone else?"
"The X5s knows what to do. One of the Desert Divisions' guys will take care of the freaks. I think we got everything," Biggs reassured him.
Alec took a deep breath. His eyes caught Biggs' as he said, "Well, here goes nothing then!"
And pressed the dial button on the phone.
Renfro's Office: 2100 hours
Renfro stared disbelievingly at the television screen, her eyes growing harder by the second.
It is not possible, the thought ran over her mind repeatedly.
Unless 494 betrayed them.
Unless 494 lied to them about the death of Eyes only.
Renfro's lips compressed. Considering his previous behaviour during the Berrisford mission, his betrayal should have been expected. However, Renfro did not expect him to go this far. Renfro did not expect him to lie so blatantly about his mission.
She stared at the screen, seeing the familiar pair of eyes framed by red and blue borders. The pair of eyes seemed to stare right back at her as the voice spoke.
"Do not attempt to adjust your set. This is a streaming freedom video bulletin. Your location has been revealed…"
Renfro continued to watch as the pair of eyes continued to bore into hers as the voice that came out of the speakers announced Manticore's location for all the world to hear. She shut her eyes to calm herself, thinking that at least 452 was in the process of being 'transferred'.
"Your secret is out. And now Manticore will be held accountable for its crimes," the voice from the television continued, "Manticore's facility is located an hour southwest of Seattle,"
As expected, her phone rang.
She answered it, nodding as she heard the words coming from the receiver. After a short while, she replied, "Understood,"
She hung up the phone and looked at the Manticore personnel around her, her eyes betraying none of her feelings as she said coldly, "Lock down the barracks. We're cauterizing the site,"
She ignored the shocked look on the personnel's face as she went around the room, extracting important information from the various computers and downloading them into a disk. She did not really care about the information; it was just that she needed to maintain her cover within Manticore. She already got what she wanted; 452.
She recalled the time when Sandeman had talked her into leaving the familiars. He had believed that a species as superior as theirs could be created without the selective breeding process, and stupidly, she believed him. She had wanted to be a part of something great, so she followed him. Until she saw the first lot of the transgenics. Her face twisted as she recalled her feeling of revulsion as she realised that these transgenics were far from being humans. How could Sandeman even compare the pureblooded, superior familiars with these filthy transgenics?
It got better after a few years when the X-series were created. These, at least, looked human. And then Sandeman dropped the final bombshell. He had found something to save the ordinaries from the effect of the Coming. It was contained within a transgenic with no junk DNA. 452.
Renfro found that this was the ultimate betrayal to their species. She had agreed to leave with Sandeman not because she wanted to save the ordinaries. Those weak ordinaries deserved to be extinct. She left because she wanted to be part of something big; something that could possibly be more powerful than the familiars.
So she decided to take matters into her own hands. She decided to trade. She would present the familiars with an ultimate sacrificial offering in exchange for forgiveness for her foolishness leaving her own kind. The conclave had accepted her proposal.
A stuttering voice behind her interrupted her thoughts. Scowling, she threw a glance at the nervous man behind her. "What?" she snapped.
"Ma'am, we've got a problem…" he stammered, pointing at the visual monitor nearby.
Renfro's eyes widened in disbelieve as she watched the transgenics pouring out of their cells in neat, organised formation. "What's the meaning of this! How did this happen?" she hissed in anger.
"We've got a security breach. The locks on the cell doors seemed to be malfunctioning. In all the accommodation cells and even the ones in the basement," the man explained hurriedly, his eyes darting to the door as if he himself wanted to run out.
"Well, override the system. Lock down those doors using the back-up system," Renfro ordered, rolling her eyes at their stupidity.
"We can't…For some reason, our controls are not responding at all," one of the other personnel said, frantically pushing buttons on the control panel in front of them.
Renfro looked as if she was about to implode.
"You useless fools!" Renfro shouted, banging her hands on the panel in front of her. How did everything managed to get so messed up, she seethed.
"Ma'am," another man called out, giving Renfro a worried look, "They are taking the guards down," he said, pointing to the screen. The transgenics were methodically disabling the guards, one after another. The tazers were not effective at all considering the ratio of transgenics to guards.
A disbelieving expression on her face, Renfro watched the scene of organised chaos on the screen in front of her.
The locks on the cell doors…
The transgenics moving out in formation…
The guards methodically taken down…
The malfunctioning controls…
It was too much of a coincidence for so many things to go wrong at the same time. The entire thing was deliberate. It was carefully planned. But by who?
Renfro's faced paled as the whole thing became clear to her, "494…you bastard," she gritted out, her eyes flashing with a murderous look.
Then something else occurred to her…
452! I have to get 452 before 494 gets to her, her thought raced in her mind as she rushed out of the room.
Vehicle Depot: 2115 hours
The driver was reversing when the door to his exit slammed down,makinghim press down hard on the brakes. The sudden jerking movement should have jostled Max awake. However, the sedatives administered to her earlier ensured that she remained unconscious on the floor in the back compartment of a van.
With blaring alarm and the chaos around them, Alec, Biggs and X5-232 did not bother to move stealthily as they approached the van which was about to pull out of the vehicle depot. The driver's face twisted in panic as he saw the transgenics speeding towards them. His companion stuck a gun out of the passenger window, aiming at the transgenics.
He did not have time to press trigger before the female transgenic reached him, grinning as she easily knocked the gun out of his hand. He howled in outrage when she proceeded to drag him out of the van through the window, tossing him carelessly to the side. When he scrambled to his feet, he was faced by a male transgenic. His eyes widened in surprise as Biggs delivered a hard blow to his head, rendering him unconscious.
"Go get her out of the back," Alec ordered to Biggs and 232 as he dealt with the driver. It was not hard, considering that Manticore did not expect this transfer to be ambushed.
Biggs ran to the back of the van and yanked the door open to reveal Max, who was still unconscious, her arms and legs tightly secured with ropes. Biggs was about to open his mouth to ask 232 to get in when he saw that she was already climbing into the back of the van.
Kneeling beside Max, 232 checked Max's vital signs. Flicking a glance at Biggs before she opened the medical kit, she said, "She's fine. Just sedated, as 494 expected," She withdrew a syringe and drew some liquid from a vial. Grabbing Max's arm, she inserted the syringe and released the liquid into Max's bloodstream.
Alec appeared then, scanning the area to make sure there were no more guards around, "So how are we doing?" he asked anxiously, casting a concerned eye over Max.
"Any moment now," 232 replied, her eyes still glued to Max.
Almost immediately after her words, Max stirred, a frown creasing her brows.
Alec watched with a relieved smile as she cracked open her eyes to look directly blearily at him and Biggs. They did not waste any time in releasing her. In seconds, her bonds were off and she was free. She stood up and looked around her, noting that they were in the vehicle depot.
Rubbing her sore wrists, she glanced up at them, "Took you long enough," she grumbled, but the look she gave them conveyed her gratefulness.
Alec grinned back at her, "Well, we just wanted to see if you could make it out by yourself,"
Max glared at him, "If you had been any later, I would have," she retorted. Then she smiled and said softly, "Thanks, guys,"
Biggs shrugged and gave her a wink, "No problem. You can thank me…properly…later," he said suggestively.
Alec gave him a disgusted look.
Max rolled her eyes.
Then they broke out in laughter.
The commotion around them outside the depot brought their attention back to the situation at hand. There were sounds of gunshots intermingled with explosions. Giving Alec a questioning look, Max asked calmly, "It's kind of noisy out there. Are you sure everything's going according to plan?"
Alec nodded, grinning, "Biggs told the COs and they all jammed their cell doors earlier today. Everyone had been briefed and should be heading out towards the designated spots,"
"Alec found this place which is perfect for our needs, at least temporarily until we figure out what to do next," Biggs added, "So everything's good,"
Alec rubbed his hands together, grinning, "So what are we waiting for? Let's get out of this dump!" he said, about to move towards the exit of the vehicle depot.
A sound of a door creaking open from the other end of the depot stopped them in their tracks.
"Not so fast, 494," a voice came from that direction.
They turned as a feeling of dread descended upon them.
"Shit!" Biggs muttered as he saw Renfro walking towards them, flanked by a group of armed guards.
The three transgenics stood still as Renfro approached them, her guards aiming their weapons at them. They knew that they could not outrun bullet, however fast they were.
"You think you could get away so easily? Obviously all Manticore's training taught you nothing," Renfro drawled, her eyes gleaming with malice.
"What do you want, Renfro? You are torching the place anyway, so why not just let us go and forget we ever met here, huh?" Alec said tightly, irritated. They were so close to freedom before Renfro showed up.
Renfro shook her head slowly as she gave him a dismissive look, "It's not you I want; It's your girl here – 452. She's…special,"
Max snorted, "Enlighten me. Why am I so special?" She was beginning to find Renfro's obsession with her annoying. What did that woman want with her?
Smiling cryptically Renfro replied, "You'll find out soon enough, 452," Turning to her guards, she ordered, "Shoot the males,"
At the same time, a charge went off in the adjacent building; the sound of the explosion distracting the guards.
Instantly, Alec and Biggs blurred in a zigzag pattern as the guards started shooting. One second they were beside Max, the next they were beside the guards, disarming them without much effort.
It's like taking candy from a child, Alec thought as he smashed the butt of the gun into one of the guards face, knocking him unconscious. At the same time, he kicked backwards, sending another guard flying into a SUV nearby.
Biggs was happily throwing one after another guard into a concrete post, grinning as each of them slid down limply onto the floor. Renfro is sadly mistaken if she thought that this bunch could stop us, he thought, throwing punching another guard in the guts.
Max smashed her elbow into a guard's chest, knocking the breath out of him, before wrapping her arms around his neck. She squeezed until he went limp, letting him fall to the floor when she was sure that he was out cold.
One by one, the guards dropped like flies under the assault of the three transgenics. In the end, the only one left standing besides them was Renfro. Her usually pale face was flushed with fury as she glared at them, 494 in particular. All her plans were ruined because of 494. The Conclave was so close to having 452…
They were so close to eliminating their one and only threat.
Seething, she shrieked, "You won't get away with this, you filthy transgenics! 452 will be ours!"
Alec and Biggs exchanged a confused look, why would Renfro be swearing at something Manticore itself created?
"She has a few screws loose, don't you think?" Biggs said to Alec, eyes wide.
Alec nodded seriously, "Yeah…More than a few screws loose. She's completely unhinged," he said, deadpanned, pretending not to see the glare Renfro shot at them.
Max held her hands up, her brows furrowing as she asked suspiciously, "Enough with the cryptic clues already. What's going on?"
"What's going on!" Renfro's eyes flashed, a crazed look in them, as she went on, "You and your animals here ruined everything," she stepped closer to Max until they were just inches apart. "You were going to be the ultimate sacrifice, the one we seek to eliminate,"
Max blinked in astonishment, "What? What the hell are you talking about?" Renfro was insane, she thought. She looked out of the corner of her eyes to see Alec and Biggs eyeing Renfro warily after hearing her words.
Renfro let out a laugh, "You are so stupid… We, the Familiars are much more superior and the rest of you. When the Coming arrives, all those who are weak will be eliminated. And YOU, the only one who can save them, will be our ultimate sacrificial offering," she spat, stepping away from Max, who was rooted to the spot, stunned at what she was hearing. Renfro continued, "But HE had to ruin everything," she spat, glaring daggers at Alec.
It finally dawned on Max that Renfro was working for some strange cult which wanted to kill her off because they thought that she could stop them from annihilating the 'weaker' beings of the world. She's completely mad, Max thought as she wondered if they should try to make a run for it.
Alec, worried about Max's safety after hearing Renfro's words, moved closer to Max as Biggs made a move towards Renfro.
Renfro suddenly turned to face Max as she extracted something from her pocket.
Max watched as it all seemed to happen in slow motion.
Renfro raised a gun in her hand, accurately aimed at Max's heart. The next thing Max saw was the burst of light from the nozzle, pumping out a bullet.
At the same time, a streak appeared from the side. The streak came between her and the bullet, thrown back against her as the bullet contacted with a soft thud. Max fell on her back, her arms going around the body in front of her.
"Alec!" she yelled frantically, her hands patting down Alec's limp body. His left shoulders felt damp. Her eyes grew wide in fear as she registered the blood on her hands as she brought it to her eyes. Out of the corner of her eyes, she saw Biggs rush towards Renfro, but her mind was only on the guy lying still in her arms. "Alec, please…" she choked out, turning his face towards her.
He did not respond.
"Damn it, Alec. You can't do this to me…" Max laid her forehead against his. "I need to tell you how I feel," she whispered brokenly; she could hardly believe that this was happening. Flashes of memories of Ben inundated her mind as she forced herself not to cry.
232 rushed towards them and knelt beside Alec.
Suddenly feeling really angry, Max stood up and blurred towards Renfro, who was busy shooting at Biggs. Biggs was expertly dodging her shots.
"You bitch!" he growled as he got close enough to kick her wrist, trying to force her to release the gun. He tried not to give in to the urge to glance at Alec to see if his friend was alright. He saw Max appear beside him as he Renfro blocked his kick with her other hand, holding the gun down by her side.
Renfro held on to the gun and continued to fight back as Biggs attempted to restrain her. "You think you can take me down? We are much better than you," Renfro snarled, pulling away from Biggs, who almost had her in a choke hold. She raised the gun at aimed it at him and Max.
Surprised at her strength, Biggs took a step back. "What are you!" he demanded to know. His brain was frantically trying to come up with some way of taking her down. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Max flash a look at him. Right now, he just needed to distract Renfro so that Max could do something.
Renfro smirked, "Surprised, are you? We are the product of many generations of selective breeding…Good genes, you could say,"
He stepped closer to her as he snorted, "Right, I guess the looks department was not quite important when they decided to breed YOU," he taunted.
Renfro reddened at the insult. "We are not animals like you," she spat.
Biggs shook his head sadly, "Ah well, I think I prefer to be an animal if the alternative was to be like you," he mocked.
Renfro did not get the chance to finish her sentence because Max suddenly feigned to the side and blurred towards her, grabbing her wrist. Biggs heard the sound of snapping bone as she twisted the older woman's wrist back. The nozzle of the gun pressed against her neck, Max used Renfro's own finger to press the trigger.
A shot rang out.
Renfro's glassy eyes gave Max an accusing glare before she slumped to the ground lifelessly.
Max barely took another breath before she turned and rushed towards 232 and Alec. She went down on her knees and took Alec from 232. Biggs heart dipped as he saw the look on her face. Kneeling down beside them, he laid his fingers on Alec's neck. His pulse was strong, Biggs noted with relief as he realised that his friend was probably going to be okay.
"He'll be fine. He just need some time," 232 said, confirming Biggs' thoughts.
"Alec…please say something," Max said softly, still cradling Alec in her arms. "Alec, come on…Wake up…Wake up so that I can tell you what an idiot I have been about you. I am sure you won't want to miss the chance to hear me grovel," she said in a cajoling voice, hoping that he could hear her.
Biggs rolled his eyes, "Max…this is not the time and place to…" he paused, his sharp eyes registering a movement in Alec's hands, "Hey, buddy…Time to wake up," he said firmly.
It seemed to have the desired effect as Alec began to stir.
Alec cracked his eyes open, "Sheesh, can't a guy get some rest?" he said with a small smile, looking up at the three concerned faces above him.
Max gave a small yelp and tightened her arms around Alec. Releasing him finally when she heard his hiss of pain, she said, "Sorry…And don't you dare to ever jump in front of a bullet again!"
Alec grinned, and then winced as the pain around his shoulders intensified, "Ah, I just couldn't help myself jumping you. The bullet was just bad luck, I didn't see it coming," he said flippantly.
Max rolled her eyes, "I would smack you but you're hurt,"
"We need to get out of here," Biggs said needlessly as an explosion rocked the building, "The whole place is going to blow," Biggs held his hands out for Alec.
Alec brushed Biggs hands away, "I'm alright…So, what are we waiting for? Let's go, soldiers!"
The three of them exchanged looks and started to run towards the fence.
Max and Alec arrived at her apartment to find it empty. Original Cindy must be out somewhere with another one of her lickety boos. Biggs and 232 had gone off to meet up with the rest of the transgenics in their designated rendezvous points.
Closing the door behind them, Max gestured to the couch, "Make yourself at home. I'll go get the medical kit,"
Alec nodded and sat down with a sigh, laying his head against the back of the couch. It had been a long day, he thought. But he was happy that they got out intact. Well, almost intact, he thought wryly as he glanced down at his bloodstained shoulders.
He recalled clearly the moment he jumped between Max and the bullet. When he saw Renfro pointing the gun at Max, he remembered feeling his heart stop in fear. He did not even consciously make the decision to jump; it was reflex. He knew that he could not let any harm come to her. The pain in his shoulders was a small price to pay.
Max went into the bathroom, closing the door behind her and resting against it. Alec's near brush with death shook her more than she cared to admit. Especially as he did it to save her from a bullet. She already admitted to herself how much she felt for him, but the incident today reinforced it.
I have to tell him how I feel, she thought to herself as she reached for the medical kit.
Holding the small box in her hands, she went into the living room. Alec was sitting down on the couch watching her approach. She gave him a small smile; the feelings inside her somehow making her feel a bit shy in his presence. She sat down beside him, opening the medical kit and taking out the stuff she required.
"So, how are you feeling?" Max asked rather lamely.
"Like I just got hit by a bullet," he replied with a grin.
Shuffling on the seat, an uncharacteristically shy looking Max gestured at his shirt, "Erm…You want to remove that?"
Alec's eyes twinkled as he pulled his shirt off, "Does this mean that you are not mad at me anymore?" he asked in a joking voice, but there was an underlying seriousness in his eyes.
Max looked at him for a moment before answering, "Look, I need to tell you something…" she started uncomfortably, "I…umm…kind of thought about what happened before and - "
Alec's finger on her lips interrupted her, "Shh…We don't have to talk about it," he said softly
Max grabbed his hand and moved it away from her mouth. Still holding on to his hand, she shook her head, "No. I need to say it," She waited until Alec nodded before continuing, "You tried to explain, but I did not want to listen. I am sorry it took so long for me to realise that it's not your fault, but Manticore's. I guess I was just hurt that you deceived me,"
"Max, I didn't mean to do it. It started with one lie which Manticore ordered me to carry out before I even met you. Then it kind of snowballed out of control. Sometimes I wanted to tell you the truth, but I was scared that it would make things worse," Alec explained.
Max squeezed his hands, "I get it now. I know it's not your fault; you were pretty much backed into a corner. I am just too angry and hurt to realise it at that time. Especially considering after we…" Max faltered, not sure how to continue. What if Alec did not feel the same way? What if he just saved her life because it was just something he would do? What if he rejected her now?
Alec watched the myriad of emotions as they ran across Max's face. He could see the indecision in her eyes. He could guess what she was about to say but he could not be sure, "What? After your heat?" he asked softly.
Max nodded, "I think I felt even more betrayed because I kind of realised that I…you know…fell for you," She looked away, embarrassed.
Alec stopped breathing for a second. Then as he registered what she just said, a bubbly feeling rose in him as he felt his face stretch into a smile. He could not believe that she felt the same way as he did.
Because she had looked away, Max did not see the smile on Alec's face. All she heard was silence after her proclamation. I knew it; he hates me now, she thought mournfully.
You deserve it after the way you treated him, her inner voice said.
Shut up! She scolded her inner voice irritably.
At her continuous silence, the smile on Alec's face began to wilt. He realised that she said it all in the past tense, so maybe she changed her mind. Needing to be sure, Alec tugged at her arm, "Max? What's the matter?"
"Nothing," she mumbled, still not looking at him, "Just forget what I said, okay?"
His eyes widened. "What! Max..." he faltered. He wanted to tell her how he felt but the words kept getting stuck in this throat. Swallowing, he forced them out, hoping that she would not throw it in his face, "I hate these kind of talk but what the hell…Max? I feel the same way too," he finally said, relieved that he got it off his system.
Max turned back slowly to face him, her eyes large as they searched his face to gauge his sincerity, "Alec…If you are pulling my leg, I swear I will kick your ass so hard that your jeans will never fit on you again," she warned.
Giving her an incredulous look, Alec sputtered, "What the hell was that for? I confess my feelings and all I get is a threat from you?"
The tension between them suddenly lifted.
Max grinned, "Just a friendly warning, that all," She felt much better now that she knew that he felt the same.
Moving his face so close to hers that their nose were almost touching, he said, "Now, Max, you know that we were never really friends," he said softly, sending shivers down Max's spine.
Max felt herself unable to look away from the hazel eyes. This close, each breath she inhaled was filled with his scent. She suddenly felt herself filled with a strong feeling of longing for him. She missed him so much.
Alec lowered his head slowly, his heart thudding in anticipation. When his lips finally touched hers, they both let out a satisfied sigh. It was so long ago since the last time they touched like this.
"I missed you," Alec whispered softly, lifting his head up to gaze into her eyes.
Max closed her eyes as she rested her forehead on his, "Me too," she admitted.
They remained that way for a while before Alec broke the silence.
"So, does this mean that you'll stop kicking my ass?" he asked with an innocent look.
"You wish!" she retorted, smacking him gently in his shoulders before she remembered his injury.
"OW! Max! That hurt!" Alec complained, scowling at her.
Max rolled her eyes, "It wasn't even that hard a punch. Stop being such a baby,"
Alec pouted, "Oh yeah? Fine, then! The next time someone shoots at you, you're on your own," he said, making a face at her.
Max grinned, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to thank you for that," she said, slightly sheepishly, "Thanks," she gave him a quick kiss on his forehead.
"Such ungratefulness," Alec muttered under his breath.
Max looked thoughtful, and then she said, "You know, I heard somewhere that you're supposed to not expect any payment when you help people out, you know?"
"That's their business. I fully expect payment from you," he said, waggling his eyebrows suggestively.
Max snorted, "Dream on, pretty boy," she retorted.
Not willing to let Max have the last word, Alec retorted, eliciting another sharp rebuttal from Max. And so it went on for the rest of the night.
They continued to bicker until dawn until exhausted, they fell asleep in each other's arms; both happy that whatever happened in the past, it was now resolved.
Leaving them free to enjoy their new-found freedom.
A/N: -:Sob:- Yes, people…that's it…I am feeling kind of sad, actually. So what do you think of the entire thing and the ending? A bit sappy, I know! But is it appropriate? Believable? Completely rubbish? Please review and let me know. I will upload the responses to your reviews onto my website after a few days! Thank you so much for sticking with the story!
A/N: Want tocheck out my new fic, Recollection? -:grins:-