A/N: Warning! There be graphic material at the beginning of this chapter! This means sex! Thank you for the reviews; they re-affirm my belief that someone is still reading this story. Of course more reviews are welcomed and greatly appreciated. Some may become outraged as they read this chapter. It was necessary and maybe you will forgive me after the next couple of chapters. Hopefully I will be able to wrap this story line up with 3 more chapters. Please enjoy and leave a comment or two.

Chapter 17: What A Tangled…

Max felt heat course through her body in heavy, delicious waves, turning her skin rosy and giving her sense of languidness that she had never before experienced. She arched her back, causing Skylar's erection to press firmly against her opening, making her mouth go dry in anticipation. She allowed her hands to trail down his neck, across his collarbone and finally to the hard, flat nipples on his chest. She gently raked her nails around his nipples and shifting slightly, pressed her foot against the small of his back.

The position opened her legs wider, and with the gentle pressure she exerted on his back, she caused the head of his erection to slip inside her moist heat. Her muscles clenched around him and she fought the desire to draw him in completely. She smiled at his low groan and felt his body go rigid as he fought for control. She felt the muscles beneath her hands tremble as waves of ecstasy rolled through him, and she couldn't help feeling delighted, knowing what she did to him.

Max pulled back, wanting to see his face. She had known him for a long time, and despised him almost instantly on sight, yet at this moment she wasn't sure why. She traced his jaw, her fingers gliding softly on his skin. When her fingers neared his mouth, he opened his lips and gently bit the pads. She sucked her breath in as he drew her index finger into his mouth, nipping at it lightly. She watched, fascinated as his blue eyes darkened when she pulled him into her a little more.

He was big, hard as steel and her muscles stretched pleasurably to accommodate what little of him was already within her. She looked down to where they were joined, heat curled through her as her body clamored for satisfaction. She felt him roll her beneath him, hands braced on the mattress to keep his weight from crushing her. Her eyes fluttered closed, as he took her mouth in a soul blazing kiss and then began pushing himself, with maddening slowness into her.

"Open your eyes for me Max," he said gently. "I need to see you."

She did as he asked, her lids slowly opening to see him so close to her. His eyes blazed from both the candles that were interspersed throughout the room, and the feelings she invoked in him. He looked different from the lieutenant she knew him to be, and there was something so oddly familiar about him that she hadn't noticed before, but she couldn't say what.

She damn neared screamed with pleasure, as he surged forward and buried himself inside her with one powerful thrust. Max rolled her hips forward, wrapped her legs around his waist and took the last bit of him into her body. She shook with the waves of pleasure that coursed through her, and she felt some sort of barrier in her mind shatter, allowing images to race through her psyche.

Before she could gather her roiling senses to analyze the images, Max felt Skylar suck one of her sensitive nipples into his hot mouth, his teeth nipping the turgid peak. Her ability to think rationally vanished, as her body sought the completion he offered. She didn't think she could have taken any more of him in, but he sank deeper when he moved her legs from around his hips, and placed them on his shoulders. She felt him grasp her hips in his large hands to steady them both, and then he began to move inside her.

Max met him, stroke for stroke. The rhythm they established was as old as time, yet there was a quality to it that was unique to them. The pressure that was building within her was unbearable and she clawed at his back and shoulders, begging him to go faster and harder. She saw both satisfaction and triumph blaze from his beautiful blue eyes, and when he whispered into her ear, she shattered into a million pieces as her climax tore through her. Max clenched hard around his shaft as pulsing waves rolled over her. She felt him thrust twice more, and then exploded hotly within her as he reached his own climax.

She had never felt the earth shattering release she was experiencing in his arms. Not with Seth, or the occasional stranger when her heat cycle demanded she mate. What she experienced with Logan was close, but something was different here and she shied away from what that might mean. When she thought of Logan, her heart squeezed tightly and she inwardly winced. Max's experience with normal relationships was almost non-existent, and what she did know, was still foreign and hard to get her mind around.

Max looked at the man sprawled next to her, one arm flung over his face, obscuring his eyes. She watched as his heart raced and chest heaved, his body trying to draw in much needed oxygen. She knew him to be fit, lean and lightly muscled; the word sinewy came to mind as her eyes travelled over his naked form. She knew he was extremely intelligent, a fact he had rigorously hidden from his fellow officers and the staff at Manticore. Looking back over the time he had been at Manticore, coupled with the last few weeks, she realized this man had a plan, and she had a part to play within it.

"You are integral to my plan, singularly the most important part," he said, looking at her face; drawing her eyes to his.

As she continued to look at him, she felt as if a veil was being drawn back, and she was allowed to look at what really was, not just what he wanted her to see. She studied him slowly, examining each individual feature, looking for the piece that would bring clarity. Her gaze travelled from his feet, past his muscled calves and thighs, noting the birthmark on his right hip. She skimmed past his sex, across his flat, lightly muscled abdomen, and broad shoulders. Max took in the shape of his chin, and the strong line of his jaw. She saw the dimple in his right cheek, as he gave her a sultry smile. His nose was straight, aquiline, and then she realized that it had been broken at some point. She flew past his eyes, wanting to save those for last. She looked at his brown hair, streaked with gold highlights, and a sudden awareness flowed through her.

She had saved his eyes for last, and looking at them she knew why. Skylar's eyes were a vivid shade of blue. It would be impossible not be captivated by his intense gaze; so she didn't bother fighting it. The look he gave her was full of heat, desire and the promise of pleasure. She couldn't help the feeling of intense desire that gripped her, and she started to reach out and touch him. She gasped and pulled back when she saw his eyes dilate, revealing pupils that were not black like the rest of the world's population, but a dark, cinnamon brown.

And then she knew. Max knew who Skylar Pennington reminded her of.

Logan Cale was sitting at a large table, working on three separate computers and talking into the microphone of the headset he was wearing. His private plane had landed hours ago at London's Heathrow Airport, and after a quick tour through customs, they had arrived at the townhouse he kept in London.

The others had scattered when they arrived; some to take showers and freshen up a bit; the rest to grab some much needed sleep before they continued their pursuit of Asherton. Logan couldn't allow himself the luxury of either; his need to find Max overriding everything else. He had no illusions about how this was going to end; as much as he abhorred killing, he knew he was going to kill Asherton in cold blood.

He was so preoccupied, that he didn't notice as the others began to drift in a few at a time. He felt rather than saw, Delilah put a cup of coffee down next to his opened laptop. Amanda followed that up with a plate of sandwiches, some soup, and a handful of his favorite cookies. But it was Zach's offering of two shots of whiskey that made him look up and grin wryly. He knew they would never be friends, more like uneasy bed fellows; but he appreciated the X5's understanding of the hell he was going through.

"Alright everyone; let's get this started," Angela said, as she breezed into the room, Seth barely a step behind her. Logan smiled cheerily at the young X5, knowing that it unsettled him and to keep him guessing about exactly what or who was on his agenda.

"Some of you know that my assignment at Manticore was a threefold initiative," she said, sitting down next to Logan. "I was to determine where Manticore stood as far as technological advances; in other words, had they started cloning the X5s."

"I was to make contact with the X5s and ascertain their receptiveness to leaving Manticore," she said looking at the five transgenic soldiers sitting across from her.

"Lastly, I was to uncover, retrieve and steal any information on the Mantra Project," she said as she placed a black thumb drive on the table.

Everyone in the room stared at the innocent looking device sitting in the middle of the mahogany conference table. They all knew that any information contained within it would be highly classified and worth killing for. Manticore had already killed to cover up its existence or eliminate anyone they deemed to be a risk; including their own genetically enhanced soldiers. The X5s throwing their lot in with Mantra would be considered traitors, slotted for termination and hunted by their brothers and sisters.

"It's too late for any of us to turn back now," Zach replied, meeting Angela's steady gaze.

"And we wouldn't want to," Seth said, as he entwined his fingers with hers, causing heat to shoot through her and her skin to burn. She momentarily ducked her head in embarrassment and hoped no one noticed she was sweating. She would definitely have to pay him back later.

"Angela and Logan have finally had time to download, decipher and compile all the information they have gathered in the last six months," Jason began.

"And there are still large chunks of the puzzle missing," Logan said standing.

"We have found that some of the information imparted to us by the Twenty, may have been wrong or misleading," Jason continued.

"They also outright lied," Logan said bluntly. "We can only speculate as to why."

"This is what we a have gleaned, and to the best of our abilities interpreted," Jason said.

"The Penningtons are a very wealthy, very powerful family based in Boston; originally from Belgium. They are what we call old money," Logan stated.

"Very old money," Jason replied. "From what we have been able to trace, the Penningtons, and they have changed the name throughout history when it suited them; held power in many monarchies and have significant influence in several major governments today."

"They are a reclusive family, shunning the spotlight and keeping a tight lid on any press associated with them," Logan interjected. "We have yet to figure out exactly where in the family hierarchy, Skylar Pennington falls, or as you know him, Lieutenant Richard Asherton."

"But he obviously figures prominently, as he is the one who infiltrated Manticore and engineered the events that led to Max's capture," Jason explained.

"Why Max?" Seth asked. "He had Ben; he could have gotten anything and everything he wanted from him."

"Not a baby," Zach said as he looked to Logan. He was remembering the conversation the two of them had after he stopped Zach's heart.

"Actually it goes deeper than that," Logan answered quietly, trying to block out images of what they could be doing to Max right now, as he impotently tried to find her.

"Charles Xavier Pennington, chairman of the Pennington Family Trust, is a man who holds several degrees," Jason said, taking over to allow Logan time to pull himself together. "He holds doctorate degrees in Human Evolutionary Biology, and Psychology, both obtained at Harvard. From Oxford he holds doctorates in Physiology, Biomedical Engineering and Politics. For all the degrees he has obtained, his real passion is parapsychology."

"Pennington used his personal wealth to set up the Mantra Initiative, but he decided to pitch his theory to the government, to obtain access to the most advanced and experimental technology available," Logan said, drawing all eyes back to him.

"Despite what your Colonel Lydecker believes, Pennington funneled millions into Manticore as well as Mantra. What are not sure what motivated him, but it was obvious that he was personally vested in both programs, and he was very hands on."

"Somewhere along the way, the government decided they didn't need his money or want his involvement in the programs; so they froze him out and seized all the records."

"I imagine that angered him, and made him more than a little bitter," Ben interjected.

"That would definitely be an understatement," Jason replied.

"So we know he was heavily involved in both programs, angry about being pushed out and bitter about having his work seized," Zach said. "Any of those reasons would be enough motivation for him to want a little payback."

"I would normally agree," Logan replied. "But it has been 30 years since his involvement ended with both projects, and that seems a little long to wait for revenge. Charles Pennington had an agenda when this started, and I believe that agenda is still what motivates him. If he can get a little retribution on the side, he'll take it happily. This man had a vision years ago; this man still has that same vision today."

"And with all the information we do have; we still don't know why he wanted Max," Jace said, a note of frustration entering into her voice.

"That is not entirely true," Angela said. "We don't know all of it, but we do know something."

"Pennington has an obsession with the paranormal, but he is also fascinated by genetics and the possibilities of what humans can evolve into," Logan said quietly. "He worked on some of the DNA sequences of the X5s before the government shut him out."

"Are you saying he worked on Max's genetics, and there for he has a vested interest in her?"

"He has a vested interest in all of you," Logan answered. "But with Max it goes deeper. He personally mapped out and manipulated Max's genetics himself; and he did so about 2 years before either project was started."

Well it does seem as if you have been a very busy boy, Logan.

Logan visibly stiffened as the voice crooned in his mind. He felt the blood drain from his face, and he dropped into the first chair available. He felt Amanda's cool hands first on his head, and then on his wrist, checking his pulse. He could feel Jason and Delilah pushing to get in to his mind; but they were being blocked.

I've almost missed these little conversations we use to have. You were the only one I could talk to, and that kept me from going insane. You still have a lot to learn little brother, and it may be too late for you to catch up.

Who are you? You've never told me.

"You'll find out soon enough. I wouldn't want to ruin it for you; be patient; just a little longer…

"Logan, what the hell…"

"The voice," Logan replied, looking at Amanda and Delilah. "The voice is back."