Disclaimer: Dark Angel and its characters do not belong to me, but the plot is mine. This fan-fiction had been written purely for entertainment purposes. No infringement was intended and no profit had been made out of this.
Title: Echoes Of The Past
Show: Dark Angel
Summary: Their own separate circumstances brought them together, and they had to come to terms with it. AU version of Max and Alec in Manticore.
Warning: Keep in mind that this is an AU fic. Manticore is different. Although I try to keep the characters 'in character', under the different circumstances, what they experienced may result in a shift of their characters. Also, this fic is rated M not only for sexual situations but for scenes which may be a little disturbing to some.
Status: WIP Series.
A/N: You're probably wondering why I started a new story when I barely have time to finish Irresistible Rivals! But an idea has been nagging at me, so here's the result.
Echoes of the Past - Chapter 1
Stormy grey clouds swirled overhead, interspersed with occasional flashes of lightning. Sheets of rain poured down, relentless in its intensity. The ground was soaked, evident by the shallow streams of water washing around the still bodies scattered all over.
Sinking down numbly, his knees hit the ground with a splash. Desperately, he gathered her in his arms. Cold, muddy liquid seeped up his dark camouflage pants, but he barely noticed it. After all, every other inch of his body was just as wet.
The rainwater washed down his face, mingling with the tears he did not realise he had shed. The tears from his hazel eyes streamed down his mud-stained face, streaking his skin with evidence of his anguish.
The strangled voice inside his head was loud, screaming in his head, begging to be let out. But although slightly parted, no sound escaped from his lips. Just the harsh, ragged inhalation and exhalation of his breath. Face twisted in agony, he choked back the urge to scream.
His eyes ran over the unmoving body in front of him. He brushed her short, wet hair away from her cheeks. Then his trembling fingers followed the path of his eyes, caressing the cold, clammy skin with fleeting touches. The colour of her lips had faded. Her usually expressive brown eyes were blank, dead, staring lifelessly up at nothing. The normally golden caramel hue of her skin had turned pasty.
He remembered how spirited she had been, how full of life as she ran beside him, mission after mission. Her eyes had often gazed at him, full of adoration at first and then, as they grew older, something more. Something different.
His fingers trailed down her neck, and then shook uncontrollably when they hovered over the raw bloody gash staining her camouflage top.
He clenched his hands into fists, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. Head bowing down, he gritted his teeth, swallowing the sob which threatened to burst forth from his lungs.
His mind registered a familiar voice calling out for him frantically. Taking a deep breath, he struggled to recompose himself. He could not let them see him like this.
He lifted his head and turned just as Biggs crouched down beside him. His friend's eyes were large with shock as he stared down at the prone female body cradled in his bloodstained arms.
"No," Biggs hissed softly, his entire body shaking. "It can't be," he exclaimed brokenly.
Alec shook his head sadly, unable to speak in his anguish. How could he let this happen? It was his mission. It was his responsibility to ensure that they all make it out safely.
And he had failed.
He had failed himself, Manticore and the rest of his team.
Worst of all, he had failed her.
Explosives detonated one after another in rapid succession. The resulting vibration rumbled through the desert loudly, shaking everything within its reach. Red dust swirled around them, clouding the surrounding air.
Through the haze, she saw the trajectory of the missile as it arced across the sky, headed straight at them. Under normal circumstances, there would be no way of avoiding the impending impact. However, her reaction was far from normal.
Her petite body jerked back in recoil. A second later, a warhead flew directly into the path of the missile, making it explode mid-flight.
But there was no time to celebrate. No time for a break.
There were only thirteen of them huddled together in the ruins of a long-forgotten city against what seemed like hundreds of enemy troops. The odds were not good, even for transgenics.
Something had gone wrong with the intel. Someone had messed up somewhere. Instead of a small group of militants, they were facing an entire military platoon, or two. And these guys seemed to know what they were doing. And to make things worse, they were well equipped.
Max hefted the launcher higher up on one of the stone walls. On her right, Jondy was emptying rounds after rounds from her rifle. To her left, Ben was crouching down to prepare another warhead. The moment Ben finished loading the warhead, Max launched a shot at an approaching tank. They watched as the tank shattered, throwing pieces of metal into the air.
Max's eyes widened as three more tanks approached. But before she could say anything, Eva beat her to it.
"Zack! There are too many of them," she could hear Eva yelling over the deafening sound of retaliating shots.
Zack's eyes met Max's briefly before it landed on Jack. "Did you manage to get hold of Sandoval?" he asked, his dusty face displaying his worry.
Jack shook his head, a deep frown marring his brow. "Negative. There's some interference in the area."
"It's beginning to look like an ambush, Zack," Brin shouted from the other side of the ruins.
Max stiffened. Ambush? How could anyone know they were there?
The comms next to Tinga crackled. "…two? Unit two, are you there?"
Zack grabbed the comms receiver. "Unit two copy. We're outnumbered. Things are turning ugly. Requesting reinforcement."
Sandoval's voice crackled on. "Negative, Unit two. You need to evacuate. Pick-up chopper will be there in a minute. You are to pull out now. This is an order. Pull out NOW!"
Zack's expression was grim. "Affirmative, sir!"
A loud explosion sounded nearby, throwing chunks of stone into the air.
"Ben, prepare to load another one."
Biting her lower lip in concentration, Max aimed and fired at another tank. The warhead met its target, blowing up the tank into smithereens.
Max straightened just in time to see several grenades flying towards them. Her eyes widened in horror. No!
"Damn it! Get down, Max!" Zack yelled urgently, throwing himself at her.
Max felt Zack's body ramming into hers, knocking her away from her position at the wall.
The shockwaves of a series of explosions wracked over her. Horrified screams pierced the air amidst the sound of collapsing stone structure.
Then everything went black.
…Eighteen months later…
The clangs of forks and knife hitting plates were loud in the mess hall as the transgenics wolfed down the standard Manticore nourishments. Most of them sat together with their own units but there were some stragglers who gatecrashed other tables. Occasional laughter could be heard echoing down the hall, punctuated by yells of outrage and sniggers.
Alec looked up from his plate when a plate landed on the table in front of him. As Biggs settled himself into the empty seat, Alec gave him a nod of greeting.
The dark haired transgenic seemed to be preoccupied with something, Alec noticed with amusement. His friend's face was scrunched up, deep in thought.
With a quirk of his eyebrow, Alec asked, "What's with that look?"
Startled, Biggs just stared at him blankly for a moment before he formed a response. "Oh, that. Just thinking about the meeting this morning."
Alec frowned. The meeting that morning should have covered the usual stuff; missions, kits and training sessions. Not that he knew for sure, seeing that he had spent the best part of the morning kicking a stubborn X6 into shape. As the Second-in-Command, Biggs had sat in on the meeting for him.
"What of it?" he asked curiously.
Biggs dropped his fork and gave Alec a wary look. "There's a new transfer into our unit," he explained quietly.
Alec gritted his teeth, his hands tightening around his knife. "We don't need one. I thought I'd made that clear on more than one occasion."
Biggs nodded. "That's what I told him. But Lydecker's not listening."
"What the hell do we need another member for? We're fine as we are," Alec bit out tersely.
Holding up his hands in a gesture of surrender, Biggs said, "Hey, don't take it out on me."
Lunch forgotten, Alec pushed back his chair with a loud scrape and stood up. "You're right."
Taken aback, Biggs frowned in confusion. "What?"
His expression resolute, he replied, "I'll have a word with Lydecker."
Biggs's hand on his arm stilled his movement. "Don't do anything stupid, buddy."
Alec smirked. "I don't need you to tell me that."
"Don't be stupid, 494!"
"It's Alec," Alec muttered under his breath. Lydecker knew fully well what his name was. The colonel only used his designation when he was annoyed.
Lydecker's eyes narrowed. "Insubordination means anything to you, 494?"
Acknowledging the admonishment with a nod, Alec sighed. "Sir, I'm objecting to the transfer because we don't need it. Bringing in a new member right now would be disruptive to the unit."
"Disruptive to the unit or disruptive to you personally?" Lydecker asked, giving Alec a knowing look."
Alec gritted his teeth. "The unit, sir!"
"Hmph!" A thoughtful look followed. And then Lydecker continued in a quieter voice, "You've got to stop blaming yourself."
Alec stiffened. He had no doubt about what was going on in Lydecker's mind. "I'm not sure what you're referring to, sir," he said edgily.
Lydecker raised an eyebrow at him. "Pretending to be dense doesn't suit you, Alec."
So it was back to Alec, huh? "I agree, sir," he replied with a straight face, smiling inside.
Lips twitching, Lydecker said, "In that case, I'm sure you understand when I say that this transfer has nothing to do with the performance of your unit. The X5 in question simply could not be fitted into another unit as the rest are already filled to capacity."
Stifling the urge to groan, Alec asked, "Doesn't he have his own unit?"
"She did. But not anymore."
Alec frowned. "What do you mean?"
"An ambush wiped out her entire unit. And the girl had gone through hell to get back here," Lydecker explained gravely.
Falling silent, Alec looked away thoughtfully. He had lost one of his unit a year ago. Until now, he still had nightmares about it. He could not imagine how it would feel to lose his entire unit.
"I take it from your silence that you have no further objection?"
Alec scowled. Yeah, he had objections alright. But it was not like Lydecker was going to listen.
"No, sir," he bit out grudgingly.
"Good. You can go now."
The engine of her black Ninja purred powerfully as she sped along the highway.
The wind swept past her face, the warm summer air felt like soft fingers caressing her skin. Her long black hair streamed out freely behind her, unrestrained, completely at odds with the feelings within her.
She did not want to go to Seattle. But then again, she did not want to be anywhere else either. But Sandoval had made it very clear to her that she had no choice but to follow orders. He had even gone as far as to threaten her with Psy-Ops.
Right, she thought with a snort. Sandoval just wanted to get rid of her because he had run out of ideas on how to deal with her. She was pretty sure that he would not send her to Psy-Ops. After all, it had been more than a decade since any transgenic was subjected to that horrible procedure. Manticore had done away with it ages ago. It was bad for morale, according to the panel of psychologists.
Or perhaps she was being transferred because none of the other units was willing to put up with her. She sighed, knowing that she had no one to blame but herself for their reaction. But working in another unit was the last thing she had wanted to do.
No, don't think about it, Max!
Blinking rapidly, she turned her attention back to the road. She was almost there, Max thought as she spotted a path leading into a fence area not too far ahead. She turned in at the unmarked path and continued to ride deeper into the woods until finally, the trees thinned out into an open grassy area bounded by wire fencing.
Security consisted of two Ordinary male guards standing outside a small hut at the gate, she noted. Her eyes narrowed as she sensed the presence of two other beings inside the hut. Transgenics, she thought. Their breathing patterns told her that they were likely to be X6s.
One of the guards stepped into the line of her view. "This is a restricted area," he informed her with a frown that was supposed to be intimidating.
Max regarded him silently, her eyes unwavering. It was only when the guard had begun to exhibit signs of nervousness that she slowly stepped off her bike.
The guard's hand went to the gun at his side.
Max raised an eyebrow at him. Then, bending forward, she swung her hair to the side, exposing her barcode to the guard.
Her lips twitched when she heard the guard exhale a relieved breath. Stepping closer, he took out a black, handheld scanner from his jacket and ran it over her barcode.
When she straightened, he looked at her and said, "X5-452, Colonel Lydecker is expecting you in his office. You need to report there first thing."
She nodded curtly and mounted her bike.
When the gate opened, she roared through them into Manticore's Seattle facility.
Her new home.
His footsteps rapped a steady beat on the concrete floor as he made his way to Lydecker's office. The colonel had demanded his presence.
A unit of X8s marched down the whitewashed corridor from the opposite direction and he stood aside to let them pass. Like him, all of them were dressed in grey t-shirt and camouflage pants. The young eight-year old team leader snapped a smart salute at him and the rest followed suit.
Once they had passed, Alec resumed his journey until he reached his destination.
Outside Lydecker's office, his hand paused just a fraction of an inch before it hit the door. He could hear muffled voices from within; a lower, harsher one belonging to Lydecker and a terse sounding female.
Alec shook his head violently to clear it. It was just his imagination.
He looked at his watch. It was 1700 hours. Well, Lydecker had specifically said that he was to be there at 1700 sharp.
Tapping on a door twice, he stood back and waited.
Lydecker's voice filtered through the door. "Come in."
Alec twisted the knob and the door swung open. As he stepped in, his eyes went to a petite figure clad in a tank top and black leather pants, with long black hair hanging loose down her back. Facing away, she was staring out of the window, blatantly ignoring him and Lydecker.
An obviously strained Lydecker gestured for him to shut the door.
Raising his eyebrow at the older man, Alec pushed the door shut. What could have possibly agitated the colonel this much?
Alec gave him a questioning look. "Sir?"
Lydecker gestured to the figure standing by the window. "Alec, meet the latest addition to your unit, X5-452. She also goes by Max."
The figure finally turned around.
A pair of chocolate brown eyes widened in disbelief as she stared at him.
At the same time, Alec's jaw went slack.
No, it can't possibly be her.
A/N: Thanks for reading. I hope you've enjoyed the introduction to this story. It would be nice if you could let me know what you think – honestly! I need to know whether I should continue or not. :P