A/N: Alright, so a couple of days ago, I got, like five emails all begging me to continue this story. Well, all I can say is …


The red laser seared into his eye, and Alec muffled a scream.

"Come on 494," White mocked beside him. "Your file said you've been through this before. Twice, actually. You should be an old hand at this."

White flicked a switch, and the red beam flickered a moment before disappearing completely. Alec panted heavily, too tired to hide his pain.

But apparently not too tired to keep his mouth shut. "You've got my file," he wheezed, "are you really stupid enough to think that something that failed to brainwash me twice is going to work now?"

White threw his head back as he laughed, the harsh sound filling the room. "This device may have failed at reindoctrination," White said gleefully, "but its doing a wonderful job as a torture device, don't you think? What was the longest you've ever been hooked up to this 494, three hours?"

If Alec's eyes could have widened, they would have. Shit. There was no way out of this. Alec groaned to himself. Looks like he would have to recede. He hated doing this; it always left him disoriented for days afterwards. Steeling himself Alec silently thanked Manticore for its counter interrogation teachings.

He remembered the day his unit had gone to their first counter interrogation class. Their handler had shown them the theory; explaining the way they could lock themselves safely away in their minds. Two hours into the lecture, the classroom doors had burst open. There had been a handler for each of them. his whole unit had been dragged to the basement and tortured until they'd successfully regressed. It'd taken Alec 36 hours to get the regression down; half the time of the rest of his unit (he'd suspected that his success had something to do with his – then – one previous trip to PsyOps).

Exhaling slowly, he formed a metal box in his mind, its lid open. Alec focused on making it stronger. He needed it to be impenetrable. Receding was tricky; there was no telling when he would get out of his mind. It could take a day or a month. Two of the X-series never woke up from the training day.

He let his mind's eye be sucked into the box, dully noting that the laser was on again. Alec felt himself go numb; the view from his open eyes faded to grey and then black.. Using the last of his fading mental strength, he watched as the lid slowly closed.

White barely heard the words of his captor before 494's body went completely limp.



Something in Max's chest constricted – hard, causing her to stop and grasp her chest. The distant buzzing that told her that her mate was still alive gave her reassurance, but somehow, she felt hollow.

"Max, you okay?" Rose asked, all bubblegum innocence. The effect, however, was ruined by the multiple detonators she was stuffing into her many pockets.

Max steeled herself, mentally shaking it off. "Yeah I'm fine."

They'd just reached the perimeter of the two buildings. Ariel had already picked a roof to watch from, and was currently climbing up a drainpipe. Biggs watched her climb, groaning mentally as her ass swayed back and forth. A hand smacked the back of his head, breaking his concentration. "Dude, pine away later," Chase said, "keep your head in the game."


"Do all warehouses smell like mould?" Chase grumbled under his breath. Biggs snorted softly behind him. They'd entered the warehouse through one of the big, secondary windows. The two X-5's jumped down to the first floor, staying in the shadows.

It had been Bigg's idea to retrieve the two X-6's. Those kids were too dangerous to be left as White's puppets. Besides, Biggs had argued, what better diversion than actually walking into the trap the familiars had set up?

The kids were standing in the middle of the room, too far gone to do anything but what they'd been ordered to do. Biggs really hoped Lava, one of their resident Psyonics, could undo all of the damage to their minds.

Chase was kneeling on the floor, his back to the room. He stood, giving Biggs a thumbs-up. Biggs nodded, and motioned for Chase to stay there. Quietly, he blurred around the big boxes to the other side of the room. A clinking noise was heard, ever so soft, but loud enough for two transgenic heads to snap to the direction Biggs had disappeared to.

Said transgenic rounded the corner a few seconds later, walking towards the middle of the open space.

"Ladies," he drawled casually, "May I have this dance?"

The two X-6's lunged.


"DAMMIT," White bellowed. He grabbed the nearest technician by the front of the shirt and flung him towards the still body strapped down on the table. "Wake him up, damn you! Do it NOW!"

"I'm sorry, sir." One of the techs mumbled nervously. "We've tried everything. 494's vitals are strong, but he hasn't responded to any pain or stimulant we've given him.

White turned momentarily distracted by two of his men coming into the room.

"What?" he said, the threat obvious in his voice.

The familiar in front of him was unfazed. "Sir, we have activity in the warehouse. The decoys have engaged two unidentified X-5's."

White let that information sink in. "Well," he said, all trace of anger gone, "At least I'm going to get something out of this whole disaster." He motioned for the two men to follow him as he moved swiftly out the door.


Max peeked around a crate before motioning for Ares and Rose to follow her and running down the hall. She'd been surprised to notice that even with his massive bulk, Ares was utterly silent as they made their way through the storage facility. He crouched behind her now, the pistol in his hands at the ready.

While Max only carried a few knives, Ares seemed to be ready for a small war. The pistol he had now had a silencer on it so they could move through the facility without attracting attention. He also carried a semi automatic slung on his back and some knives strapped to his ankle. Max suspected he had more on him, but there was no telling exactly how many weapons were currently on his person.

When it came to weapons however, Rose, was in a different class entirely. While she only sported a single .32, Max knew that the twenty or so pockets on Rose's clothing currently sported enough C4 to blow an entire city block.

Max ducked behind a corner automatically at the sharp staccato of shoes hitting the ground. Someone was about to walk down this hallway. The sound stopped after a moment, causing the silence to deafen her.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ares move to take the point position. He glanced around the bend quickly before turning back to look at her.

'Two hostiles, standing guard on either side of the hall,' he signed. 'Orders?'

Max sighed mentally before giving the order. These guys were familiars, and a threat to her people and her mate.


Ares nodded, cocked his gun, and rounded the corner. There was a soft ping, ping noise before he turned back to her and gave her a thumbs up sign. She nodded and rounded the corner ahead of him before taking off down the hall.

The corridor ended in a T; two identical hallways moving off in opposite directions. Damnit, Max swore internally. She didn't want to break radio silence unless absolutely necessary. Calling in to get directions from Sai might tip off White and his cronies.

The faint buzzing in the back of Max's head tugged a little to the left. Max paused before deciding.

Good enough.

She turned to Rose. 'Go right.'

Rose gave a thumbs up and raced down the right hall. Max watched her for a second, glanced at Ares, and took off in the opposite direction.

Please be okay, my Smart Alec.