There Goes the World
Disclaimer: I do not mean any infringement on Dark Angel, or the song In the Middle by Theory of a Deadman. I only do this for fun.
Summary: They'd stuck together. They'd made their stand. They'd flown their flag proud over their Freak Nation. They'd thought they had their happy ending. They were wrong.
Inspired by the song In the Middle by Theory of a Deadman.
Warning: Disturbing scenes and descriptions. Tissues required.
What would you do if we woke up and the whole world was gone?
Well, would you believe with me is where you belong?
Alec jerked upright, instantly awake at the sound of the door of his sleeping quarters--if a converted storage closet could be considered sleeping quarters--crashing into the wall as it was flung open. He relaxed a bit as he saw Max standing in the doorway. It figured. She seemed to get perverse pleasure from waking him up in the rudest ways imaginable. Not his fault he didn't have shark DNA.
Sometimes, he had no idea why he'd stuck around all this time and taken her abuse. Maybe it was because of that funny pressure in his chest that seemed to crop up every time he was away from her. That pressure that kept pushing at him, telling him he needed to be somewhere else, and that somewhere else was wherever Max happened to be. He'd tried to leave before, but that pressure had always forced him back.
He kept this little detail to himself. Who knew how she would react if she knew how much he needed her? Maybe one day he would have the courage to find out.
He tilted his head up at her, prepared to comment on her rude awakening of him, when he caught the look on her face. Wide eyes in a pale face, those eyes full of desperation and panic.
"Alec," she said urgently, gripping the doorframe tightly. She couldn't say more. Her throat closed around the words. She'd become close to him over the past month that they had been trapped here in Terminal City. She cared about him, more than she wanted to admit, and she couldn't even tell him that. How could she tell him their world was about to fall apart?
He surged out of the pile of blankets on the floor, his makeshift bed, and was instantly at her side. His clothes hung a bit loose on his frame from the weight he had lost from lack of food.
"Max, what is it?" When she didn't answer, just stared at him with big, frightened eyes, he grabbed her upper arms and gave her a little shake, hoping to bring her out of it. "Max!"
"Come see," she replied in a haunted tone, after a sudden indrawn breath. "You have to come see."
As a light rain fell from the overcast sky, Alec stood beside Max on top of the tallest building in TC, with Joshua and Mole and so many others, his mouth dropped open at what he saw.
They were leaving.
His enhanced transgenic eyesight could see cars and trucks, possessions tied haphazardly on top, flowing away from Terminal City. He could see soldiers overseeing people filing into buses and military transports. He slowly turned in a circle, looking out past their borders, but everywhere he turned, it was the same.
They were evacuating. The military was evacuating everyone around Terminal City, as far as his eye could see. They'd had no warning. Someone must have stopped Logan, OC, or their other friends from warning them.
"Oh, God," Alec whispered.
Mole stepped up next to him, staring up at the sky, rain bouncing off his green scales. "You know, if He does exist, I don't think He listens to people like us."
Farther out, they could see new military vehicles arriving, and additional troops. Thanks to his Manticore training, Alec recognized the vehicles, and knew what they carried. They all knew.
"No," Alec said quietly, his mind refusing to believe what he was seeing. Without even realizing what he was doing, he reached down to clasp Max's hand and gripped it tightly. Under different circumstances, he would have been shocked that she didn't pull away, that she too held on tight. But these were not normal circumstances.
Dix let out a harsh laugh. "Well, I guess they were only able to tolerate our freakish existence in this world for a month. Looks like they've finally decided to bring in the exterminators." His words were bitter, and jolted his fellow transgenics into action.
Max turned her back against the evidence of their imminent destruction, turning instead to the people that had stood with her against all odds. Now it looked like the odds had not been in their favor, after all.
She never let go of Alec's hand.
"Okay," Max said. "We need to evacuate immediately. Escape and evade. Let's do what they trained us to do, people."
There could have been accusations. They could have called blame down on her, for convincing them to stay when they should have run in the first place. In staying, they had made it that much easier for the military to destroy them all with one blow. But there was no time for accusations. Even the normally hostile Mole was quiet.
Now was the time to run.
Well there goes the world and we're right in the middle.
There goes the world and we're right in the middle.
I said leave me here.
I said leave me here with you.
With an efficiency that made evident their military background, they gathered up the residents of TC and broke into several groups, each planning to use the different sewer tunnels to escape. The first groups were starting to make their way into the tunnels. When Max tried to assign Alec to one of the remaining groups, he stubbornly refused.
"Alec, I need you to lead this group out of here."
She stood facing him, her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face. On the outside, she appeared to be in complete control, just another soldier on a mission. On the inside, her thought were racing frantically. She needed to get them out... to get him out. She would have liked to ponder just when it was that he had become so important to herbut there was no time for that now.
Alec stood his ground against her anger, staring down at her. He was almost offended that she expected him to leave her.
"No." The word rung with finality.
Exasperated, Max ran a hand through her hair. "Dammit, we don't have time for this!"
Grabbing her by the arm, he pulled her so close that he loomed over her. "I noticed that you didn't put yourself in a group."
Max swallowed hard, finding it difficult to keep contact with those blazing hazel-green eyes. "I'm gonna stay behind, make sure everybody gets out. I'll go after I know the last group is safe," she replied hesitantly.
Alec just continued to stare at her. He figured as much. "Then I'm staying too. Let Gem lead that group."
"Alec!" The word came out as frustrated cry. She needed him to go. She'd already drug him into so many things since she'd known him. She wouldn't drag him down with her at the end. But as she looked up into his face, and saw that trademark smirk come across his face, she knew that she would lose this battle.
"Come on, Maxie, you know how I love being in the middle of things with you." He paused, watching the fine line she walked between anger and concern. "The more you argue with me on this, the more time we waste."
Their eyes locked, and Max could read the words behind his. I'm not leaving without you, they said. She started to open her mouth to make one last attempt to convince him when they felt the tremor beneath their feet, followed by several others in succession. She grabbed Alec's arm, suddenly needing the contact with him.
"What the hell was that?" she asked, afraid she already knew the answer. They waded through the group of transgenics gathered around them to head toward the nearest tunnel entrance.
Just then, Joshua, carrying a crying X-8 girl, lumbered toward them, a pained look on his face. Both were covered in a layer of dust.
"Tunnels gone," he said, then coughed several times. "Soldiers. Explosives. Collapsed tunnels. Think… maybe all of them."
Joshua, Max, and Alec all shared a look, uncertainty on their faces, and just a trace of hope. Maybe they hadn't gotten them all. Maybe someone had made it out.
That hope was crushed when two X-6s, a boy and a girl, ran up to them, breathing hard. The girl spoke, her voice high with fear.
"Mole's group, they… they… the tunnel caved in on them. They're gone."
Everyone hung their heads. Mole's group had been the first to enter the tunnels. If he hadn't made it, then none of them had.
"Looks like everyone's gonna be sticking together after all, Maxie," Alec said quietly, wrapping an arm around her.
As the city crumbles, I see that there's nothing left behind.
As we lay here together, I feel your heart beat with mine.
With time standing still, here is where we've always been.
Well there goes the world and we're right in the middle again.
Early the next morning, the bombs began to fall.
They had tried, at different times throughout the previous day and night, to make a run for it above ground. Each time, they were shot down, cut to ribbons by enemy fire. The military was well prepared, and were able to prevent the transgenics escape until they confirmed all civilians were evacuated in a ten-mile radius from Terminal City. When the humans were safely out of range, they pulled out the big guns.
The bombardment was endless. Pandemonium reigned. Faced with their extinction, they forgot their training and ran, or hid, or sat quietly and waited for the end. Maybe some that ran would make it. Maybe someone would be left to carry on their legacy. But as the city crumbled around them, as the bodies began to fall to the ground, as their multi-million dollar blood soaked into the ground, little hope was left. All they had left was each other.
In the haze of the destruction, Alec had lost track of Max. But as he looked for her, as he came across the broken, fallen bodies of his brethren, he was overcome with by the senseless loss. Humanity sought to destroy them, to lance them from the face of the earth as they would an angry boil. Transgenics would be forgotten, become a minor footnote in history, and he couldn't let that happen. Not if he had something to say about it.
He pulled out his phone and began to take pictures with its camera, ducking occasionally when the explosions came too close. Blood dripping steadily from a gash in his arm, his heart broke a little bit more each time at the fake shutter sound the phone made as he recorded the end of his people. He called the one person he knew he could trust to do what he could with the information he was about to send. When he was forwarded to voicemail, he poured his heart out in words, leaving message after message until there was nothing left to say. A few pathetic messages and a couple of pictures would be all the remained of his friends, his family… everyone.
His eyes swam with tears barely held at bay as he finished what he had to say and ended the call. He looked up, and his heart leapt as he spotted Max about a hundred feet in front of him, trying to direct a group of younger X series to better shelter, though Alec knew her efforts were futile.
He called out her name, saw her head turn to him at the sound of his voice. He saw the relief in her eyes as she caught sight of him, still alive and standing on his own two feet. Her relief was matched by his own, and he took a step toward her. Before his foot had time to hit the ground, the world around them exploded.
The building behind Max blew up in a shower of concrete and steel. Alec was blown backwards, landing on a pile of debris. A sharp pain shot through him as he felt several ribs crack as he landed on a large chunk on concrete. He rolled painfully off the debris, coming to his hands and knees on the ground. He spat blood from his mouth, knowing that one of the broken ribs must have nicked his lung. He raised his head to look where Max had been, and only saw a pile of rubble.
He scrambled to his feet, one hand pressed against his side to stabilize his ribs. This other, strangely, still clutched the cell phone. He hadn't dropped it, even when he had been blown backwards by the blast.
He stumbled toward the wreckage, shoving the phone into his pocket. He slowed, afraid of what he might find. Even though he knew that neither he nor Max would probably survive this day, he couldn't bear the thought that she would precede him into death. He wished he could do something, anything, to save her, like she had saved him so many times.
"Max!" he cried out, the effort causing his chest to burn. "Max!"
As he rounded a large pile of debris, he found her.
I said leave me here.
I said leave me here with you.
He froze, shutting his eyes tight for a moment against the sight that greeted him. Then he surged forward, falling to his knees beside the girl that caused unnamed feelings to stir in his heart. He could have put a name to those feelings, but he was too overcome by heartache, and knew too well that it was too late for them.
She lay, almost artfully draped, against a slab of the building that had crumbled around her. The blast had flung her against it, her body impaled by a piece of rebar that had buried itself in her stomach from the force of the blast. He could see the bodies of the children she had been trying to protect, buried under the rubble. Max stared up at him, eyes wide and glassy in shock, hands trembling as she reached hesitantly to touch the offending piece of metal.
Alec pulled her from the hard concrete and into his lap, leaning her back against his chest. He was shaking almost as badly as she, but for different reasons. He wrapped his arms around her and buried his face in her hair, sobbing out her name.
Max's shaking hands closed tighter around the rebar, and he could feel her tense as she gathered her strength to pull it out.
"Don't, Maxie," he begged her. He was perilously close to losing it. "Wait. Please. We'll get someone to fix you up. Just wait."
Max ignored him and pulled, letting out a scream of pain as she ripped the metal from her body. Alec's eyes shut tight at the sound, a single tear escaping from each eye, and he held her tighter, rocking slightly.
Max let the piece of metal fall to the ground, breathing heavily. Blood gushed from the open wound in her stomach, and she knew it wouldn't be long until she bled out. She tried to use her legs to push herself up further in Alec's embrace, but found that she couldn't feel them. The metal must have severed her spine. But she could feel Alec's arms tremble as they held her. She brought her arms to wrap around his own.
"No one… left to fix me up. You know that."
Alec nodded, unable to speak, and unable to stop his trembling. He tried to get control of himself, so he could be strong for her. With her back pressed tightly against him, with his every sense focused on her, he could feel her heart beat against his chest... could feel it slow. His head knew she was beyond help, but his heart didn't want to believe.
Max felt his strong arms around her, and closed her eyes against the tears suddenly filling her eyes. Those arms felt so right, wrapped around her. Maybe it was because it had been so long since a man--besides Joshua, anyway--had held her. But she really didn't think that was it. She had spent so long fighting and outright denying her attraction to Alec, and now it was too late. She knew he would stay with her until she was gone, and as much as she wanted, needed, him to hold her until the end, she couldn't let him do it.
"Alec," she said, her voice already weakening, "there's still a chance. You could make it out."
He didn't respond in words, but his arms tightened like steel bands around her and she felt him shake his head. She could feel the wetness of his tears against her cheek.
"Please," she begged, her voice full of desperation. "You need to go. You need to save yourself." She gripped him tighter as a wave of pain passed through her. "Please, Alec, just go."
He let out a half laugh, half sob, at the absurdity of her request. "Where would I go without you?"
She let her head fall back against him. She had no energy left to fight him. Even if she had, she doubted that he would have left her. All this time she had known him, through all the insults and the hostility and the anger, he had never left her. Why would he leave her now?
She curled her face into the curve of his neck, and breathed in his scent. It was so soothing, and she found herself drifting away. She thought she heard his voice, and what sounded like an old fashioned camera shutter, though that didn't make any sense. The sound of his voice made her drag herself back, to hang on just a little longer, if not for her sake, then for his.
"Sorry," she whispered against his neck. She could feel him tense at the words, and sensed his confusion.
"What?" he asked in puzzlement, wondering why she thought she owed him an apology.
She took a few shallow breaths, gathering what was left of her strength. "Sorry I dragged you into this… into everything."
She was dying in his arms, and here she was apologizing to him. Typical Max. Even in death, she planned to take the weight of the world on her shoulders. He would have smiled, if he hadn't felt her blood seeping into his lap, hadn't watched as it pooled on the ground around them.
He put his lips to her temple, his bottom lip trembling as he murmured to her. "You didn't drag me anywhere I didn't want to go."
He felt her fading away, and it was destroying him. Her arms fell from his as she no longer had the strength to hold on to him. She looked upward at the patch of overcast sky that could be seen through the destruction around them. When she spoke next, her voice was so quiet that he would not have heard her without the benefit of his transgenic hearing.
"Do you think there's a heaven for people like us?"
He looked up, following her gaze. His breath caught as he saw the incoming missiles.
"I don't know, Maxie. We'll find out together."
Alec held Max tight, and they closed their eyes as the means of their destruction fell upon them. In a flash of fire and light, their world was gone.
Hey you, where are we going from here?
Hey you, where are we going?
Cuz there goes the world and I'm right in the middle with you.
I'm right in the middle with you.
"This is Pulse, the primetime news show that keeps its finger on the pulse of the nation. I'm your host, Alicia Gardner. Tonight… our continuing series on the Terminal City Massacre. If you've been with us through this series, then you already know about the documents we've uncovered, detailing the horrors of the secret military base called Manticore. A place where they bred children like they would cattle, and forced them to do unspeakable things. You know about the indictment of Senator James McKinley, former chairman of the Congressional task force on the transgenic threat, who initiated, according to the office of the president, the unauthorized and unsanctioned destruction of the transgenic people. Tonight, we'll hear the voice of a ghost. Tonight, a transgenic will speak for his people."
The news anchor turned from the camera to face her guest, who looked uneasy in the chair across from her.
"We have with us Calvin "Sketchy" Theodore, freelance journalist and close friend to many of the transgenics that worked at Jam Pony, the messenger service that had unwittingly employed so many of their number. Mr. Theodore, welcome."
Sketchy shifted uncomfortably in the chair, fingers unconsciously drumming on the armrest. "Uh, thanks."
Alicia Gardner leaned forward in her chair, radiating dramatic concern with the practiced ease of a professional. "Mr. Theodore… may I call you Sketchy?" She did not even wait for his response before she continued. "Sketchy, you were friends with several transgenics. What can you tell us about them? What were they like? When did you find out that they weren't like us?"
Sketchy cleared his throat, which he found tightening with emotion. The anchor's voice was dripping with concern, but he was sure the concern was more for her ratings then his dead friends. But he didn't care what she thought. His friend, his dead friend, had asked him to do something for him, and he was damn well gonna make sure it got done.
"I never found out that they weren't like us. If you mean when did I find out they were made in a lab, well, uh, that wasn't until the Jam Pony thing happened. But I never found out that they weren't like us, because they were like us. They had feelings, just like anyone else. I knew Max for a long time, and then Alec came along, and we all hung together. They had my back when I needed them. They weren't freaks." His voice became horse with emotion. "They were my friends."
Alicia pushed her glasses--which she did not need but helped her serious concern look--up in an affected gesture. "You were friends with the transgenic known as Alec McDowell. He sent you messages, while Terminal City was being destroyed around him, messages that have become known as the Transgenic Testament."
"Yeah. He didn't want them to just bury them under the rubble of Terminal City and pretend it never happened." Sketchy hung his head, and the camera zoomed in to catch the signs of his grief. "We tried to make them understand, me and Original Cindy and Logan and even Normal, we tried to get the word out and make people see that the transgenics weren't evil freaks out to eat their children. But we were too late. No one would listen. We couldn't save them."
Sketchy raised his head and stared directly into the camera, his eyes silently accusing every viewer out there that had joined the mobs, that had cried out for transgenic blood.
"But Alec, he, uh... he sent me those pictures. He left me those messages. He begged me to get the word out there, so that's what I'm doing. It's all that's left to save."
The anchor nodded gravely, then turned to face the camera. "What you are about to see and hear is horrific in nature. Those of you with young children should turn them away. But we ask that you yourself do not turn away. We ask you to witness the horror that humanity is capable of, that we are capable of. These people--yes, that's right, people--did nothing to us. But we will let one of their own stand for their memory. Several voicemail messages and pictures taken with a cell phone are all that remains. What you are about to see and hear… is the Transgenic Testament."
The studio darkened, as Alicia Gardner turned to the screen behind her to watch the pictures about to play across it. Sketchy didn't turn, he couldn't look. Once had been enough--too much for a lifetime.
There was a moment of silence, and then the message began to play. Sketchy closed his eyes, lips hardening to a tight line at the voice of his dead friend.
Hey, Sketchy. I'm sending this to you, because I know I can trust you to see that it gets out there, buddy. TC is falling down around me, and it looks like my number's up. I guess this means you can keep that money you owe me. Heh. Ahem… Get this message out there, Sketch. You could say it's a last will and testament… for us all.
My name is Alec. I may have started out my life as a number, but I have a name now. A name that was chosen for me by someone that saw I could be more than just a number. Someone that I care about, because I have feelings, just like you.
We didn't ask to be made like this. We had no choice, just as a child of rape has no choice in how they came to be. You wouldn't blame that child for the sins of the father, but you blame us. You blame us for what you brought about.
END FIRST MESSAGE flashed on the screen.
We were soldiers. We followed orders. We fought for our country, with no idea that country hated us. We did everything that was asked of us, things that they wouldn't've asked a grown man to do, yet they asked it of us. Refusal earned you a quick bullet in the head, or worse. Believe me, there was worse.
You say that we are abominations, that we have no souls. If you knew the things they had done to us, things that were done by your fellow human beings, maybe you would question who really was without a soul. Could a person with a soul create a being just so they could have a walking, talking lab rat? Could a person with a soul look a six year old in the eye as he put a bullet into that child's brain? Could a person with a soul carve up a living, breathing, thinking being for spare parts, just because they considered that being defective? You say we are the ones without souls, and yet now you enlightened beings seek to destroy every last one of us. And you have succeeded.
END SECOND MESSAGE flashed on the screen. As the next message began, pictures began to flash across the screen. Pictures Alec had taken to witness the atrocity of what had been done to them.
We are the dead and dying. I want you to see what you have destroyed. I've taken pictures, which I'll send with this message. We won't be forgotten. Look at us. Look at the people you have destroyed. Young men and women.
Several pictures of fallen X series transgenics, broken and torn, with dead stares, all no older than 22.
Some may look a bit different than you, but they were people all the same.
A picture of Joshua, Luke and Dix, bodies partially crushed by rubble.
The word was a whisper. Pictures of young X series, some looking as young as seven or eight, their broken bodies almost seemed doll-like. They could have been sleeping, if it weren't for all the blood.
Alec's voice broke, and the next word was a sob.
A picture of Gem, a large gash in her head that showed part of her skull, clutching her baby to her. Both mother and child had the glazed, empty eyes of the dead.
Look at them, and know what you have done.
END THIRD MESSAGE flashed on the screen
I'm only 21 years old, and I'll never see another sunrise. I'll never be with a woman that I love. I'll never hold a child of mine in my arms. In my entire life, I've never know a day without fear or anger or hate, and now I'll never have that chance. None of us will. You've taken that away from us.
The sound of large explosion interrupted the message, followed by coughing. Screams could be heard in the background
I don't have much time left. Most of us are already gone. When someone finally hears this, my body, if anything remains of it, will be long cold.
There was a long pause in the message. When he spoke again, his voice almost faltered.
Scared that there is nothing for us after this. I don't wanna die. But I guess I no longer have a choice in the matter. This is the end.
This is genocide.
END FOURTH MESSAGE flashed on the screen. The text faded out, and FINAL MESSAGE appeared. Alec's voice was choked with emotion when he spoke his final
Please, Sketchy, don't let them hide what they've done to us, don't let them sweep us under the rug of history.
There was a long pause in the message.
Here's one last picture, for old times' sake.
The screen faded in to the final picture. The angle was odd, as Alec had clearly turned the phone around to take the picture. It showed Alec holding Max, her head turned into his neck, his head turned to stare into the camera, his gold-flecked green eyes mesmerizing.
Don't forget us.