Don't know what's going to happen in this story? Well, neither did we.
This story was written Round Robin style at the Dark Angle Reflections Message Board. Seven authors wrote whatever their muse dictated whenever they felt the inspiration. We had no plan, no outline, no treatment, no editing or betas, few rules, very little structure, and a lot of fun putting it all together. We hope you enjoy it.
The Tale of Many Authors' Authors
Lisa0316, TigrouAngel, Mari83, BlueAngel137, Sim-R, Shywr1ter, Griever
A Dark Angel Tale of Many Authors
It was the middle of the afternoon, but it felt much later. The storm that raged outside blocked out the light and cast the room in deep shadow, making it seem like the sun had given up early that day. The rain pelted the glass with a monotonous ferocity. Logan sat at his window, watching individual raindrops exploding with the force of impact and then forming rivulets, running down the pane and pooling on the ledge. His mood was as dark as the sky outside, and the violence of the weather was a fitting companion to his uneasy thoughts. He had an important decision to make, and it appeared that no matter which course of action he decided on, somebody was going to get hurt.
A sudden sound from his doorway pulled him from his reflections, and he turned his eyes away from the window.
"Why are you sitting in the dark, man," Bling asked.
Logan didn't bother to answer, and turned back to his observation of myriads of rain drops exploding against the glass. He wished he had a shield like that, to be protected against the darker side of life, or love, or loss - or maybe just bullets. No longer. Not since she...
"Saw it on the news today, man." Bling said. "I'm sorry, Logan."
Slowly Logan turned his head in Bling's direction, giving his friend the faintest, wistful smile. Deep down under today's dark gloomy brooding he could appreciate the soothing knowledge of having a friend who not only had seen him through one of the worst times of his life but also knew his secret identity and could relate to all the burdens and responsibility it brought.
"Sorry?" Logan shrugged for his friend. "Now why would you be sorry, Bling?"
The therapist frowned slightly at his
employer-patient, knowing how this must truly be affecting
him. "C'mon, Logan – this will change a lot of things. You can't tell me it won't..."
Cale looked away from the steady,
dark eyes assessing him to look back out the window. "One
closes, another opens, isn't that what they say?" He drew a deep breath to sigh it back out, almost
steadily. "Maybe it's all for the best."
It was silent for long moments, neither
speaking, as the rain pelting against the window seemed to
grow even louder, echoing across the darkened rooms.
Maybe it was all for the best. Manticore was gone, she had found her siblings, and now she was free; free to go everywhere and be whatever she wanted to be. If he had to pay with a broken heart for that, it sure was worth it.
"It will be the right thing to let her go," Logan said and he could feel his aching heart echo in his voice. "And I always do the right thing, right?"
He had almost expected Bling's disapproving snort.
Bling opened his mouth, fully intending to make Logan wake up from his self-centred brooding now that Max needed him more than ever, but was interrupted as again there were noises coming from the door.
With his friend already here, Logan's first thought was Max, and at the idea that even now, in this situation, she just came over to see him a tiny smile crept on his face, merging into a badly suppressed grin at the idea of how she was always able to lighten his mood.
However, as the noises from the hallway continued to indicate stumbling, uncontrolled steps that were totally untypical of Max's usual light-footed approach, Logan found himself catapulted back into the tense anticipation accompanying his day, his heart racing at an uncontrollable pace while his overactive brain went through a dozen what-if scenarios, one worse than the other.
He could see Bling tense into body-guard mood, taking a ready-to-fight stance as he indicated for him to stay behind – an order which Logan readily ignored. Tentatively wheeling himself closer to the corner that separated him from free sight of his entrance, Logan cursed himself for not shutting down his computers, leaving his investigations open to see for everybody.
Seeing how Bling's tension eased up for a moment as he reached the entrance area and pronounced a startled "Max?", relief and relaxation added a another piece to the wild medley of emotions which Logan's day had brought. It was short-lived. Rolling around the wall divider himself, he realized that something was wrong with the picture presenting itself to his eyes.
Max wasn't only wet to the bone , which alone wouldn't be surprising considering the weather, but covered with mud and shivering in uncontrollable fits of which Logan couldn't tell whether they were the beginning of a seizure or just the cold and a shock. There was a bloody scrape on her face, matching a band of equally bloodied, dirty holes in her clothing and the fact that she was dragging behind her leg on that side.
As she looked at him with a mix of confusion and helplessness, a dominating wish to just hug her surged up in Logan, banishing the brooding of the afternoon into some far back-corner of his mind. For some seconds they just watched each other, until finally Logan swallowed, fighting down the panic and fear welling up in him beyond any reason, to ask, his voice hoarse, "What happened?"
"Where were you, Logan?" Max begged, uncharacteristic moisture welling in her eyes, spelling both her relief to see him safe and dry, and her confusion that she'd found him here, apparently surprised to see her in this condition. "When I got your message..."
Another shudder suddenly took her over and, also uncharacteristically, her knees buckled and she started to slump. "Max!" Logan reached out toward her, watching as Bling moved quickly to bring an arm around her before she fell.
"I was so afraid that they..." Her words were slurred; Logan couldn't tell if she was coherent, or if whatever this was had her hallucinating, too.
Bling spoke, low and focused. "Max, I'm taking you to Logan's training room so I can take a look..." Clearly he was assessing her, seeing if she responded, judging if she was lucid. "Max?"
Logan's heart froze when he saw Bling's brow draw down in concern, and he easily lifted the X-5 into his strong arms and carried her back down the hall.
Halfway down the hall Bling carefully turned to quietly ask "Could you get me the first aid kit?" Seeing that Logan didn't react but just stared up to Max, fearfully taking in her terribly pale face, her closed eyes and her head resting limply against Bling's shoulder, the therapist's tone suddenly became sharp in order to snap Logan out of his shocked state. "Logan, get me the first aid kit!"
Logan blinked, once then twice, as though he was waking up from a deep slumber. Immediately registering Bling's urgent tone, he turned around and went for the first aid kit. He hurried back quickly, noticing the drops of blood leading into the training room.
He felt like throwing up.
Bling was lying Max down gently onto the workout bench, placing several towels under her so that her blood would not stain it. There wasn't a doubt anymore that Max was suffering from a full blown seizure, she was shaking violently, trashing about and mumbling incoherently. Logan placed the kit beside Bling and rushed back out to his get his supply of Tryptophan, grabbing a few more towels on the way. He had never seen her hurt that badly before and it scared him.
By the time he got back, Bling had managed to take off Max's muddy shirt and was carefully cleaning her wounds with a wet cloth.
As Logan looked at her shaking, bloody face the mere thought of losing her, of not having her in his life to slaughter him at chess or rob his fridge, of not being able to watch her smile, or laugh or bring him to the edge of reason and especially that just a few minutes ago he had been willing to push her away from him, was almost more than he could bear.
"Don't leave me, Max." he said and placed a trembling hand on her shaking forehead. "Please, don't leave me."
"I don't think she's that bad, Logan, but it would be easier for me to see if I had a bit of room..."
Bling tried to make it light, but Logan could tell he was worried. Hating to lose contact with her, Logan nonetheless backed up a little and asked, "Bling, what's going on with her?"
"Not sure yet, but it looks ..." Bling peered closer, his task not made any easier by Max's twitching limbs. "I think they may be gunshot wounds, at least one is, but there's something else..." His eyes narrowed, and his expression lightened a little. "These may have been one shot, in and out. Better." He let his fingers probe the area for embedded projectiles. "But the seizures throw everything off, and I can't tell how much blood she's lost..." Bling straightened and directed, "Look, go get the phone and bring it back here." Logan was off immediately, and Bling called behind him, "I want you to call Sebastian for me, but from here. I want you on this side of her, because of the seizures– I don't want her falling off and I can't do much for her if I have to hold her on the table, too."
"Why Sebastian?" Logan returned, immediately punching in the number.
"I want his thoughts about a transfusion for Max – and if he has x-ray facilities available, if we can't sort out this injury. Otherwise, we may need a hospital..."
"Bling... for Max? It's a risk..."
"So is not treating what's wrong, if we can't determine what this is." Bling grimaced, "If we can find what made the wounds, and if Sebastian thinks I can transfuse her..."
"Maybe; your blood type normally would be incompatible, but with her blood..." The big man quieted as he saw Logan react to a voice on the phone.
Before Logan could say anything else, he felt Max's weak but desperate grip on his arm. Her eyes, large with fear and pain, were trying to focus on staring into his. "No, Logan, wait…"she rasped, trying to get his attention.
"Shhh, Max, don't worry," Logan reassured her in a soothing voice, stroking the hair from her face. "It'll be OK. I'm talking with Sebastian; we'll take care of you."
"No!" Max said with more force as she continued to shake violently. She grabbed at Logan's shoulder, trying to pull his face closer to her own so he would listen to her instead of the voice coming through the telephone. "You have to go, now. They're coming; you're not safe. Logan, you have to get out before…" She was unable to finish her sentence as unconsciousness claimed her once again.
Bling took the phone from Logan's hands. "Let me talk with him. You calm her."
While Logan listened to the trainer's calmingly steady voice giving a short summary of the situation, he gently stroked Max's face, which felt unnaturally hot with a burning fever leaving no doubt of how much she needed proper medical care. She was unconscious now after her outburst which seemed to have taken her last energy.
Flipping the phone shut, Bling ordered, "He says to come over. Shut down your investigations and grab what you need, I'll bring her down to the car".
As he watched Bling picking up Max without as much as a lost second, Logan hesitated, unwilling to bring another friend into this, especially one who was less able than others to just escape and evade, and especially since whomever was chasing Max knew how to find him too… but, as he realized with a new , sickening surge of fear, he had no other choice, not with Max injured…
Logan tore out of the parking structure at Fogle towers, tires throwing up a sheet of water as he accelerated towards Sebastian's. Bling sat with Max in the back seat, pillowing her head on his lap. Her seizures had quietened now, and she lay unnaturally still and silent.
"Hey, slow down," the bodyguard urged. "We don't want to attract attention if there's someone after her."
"She needs medical attention now, Bling; we know that for sure. I'm not risking her life on the possibility that there's someone on our tail."
"What about Sebastian's life? Yours and mine too? And you won't be helping anyone if we have an accident; you can hardly see in this weather."
"I can see fine," replied Logan, irritated; but he slowed a little just the same.
They made it to Sebastian's without incident. Two of his med techs were waiting outside in the downpour with a gurney to wheel Max inside. Bling spouted off all the medical information he had while Logan hurried to rebuild his chair and transfer.
"You OK?" The therapist called to his patient.
"Fine; go with Max, I'll be right there."
Bling followed the gurney inside. The door had barely closed when Logan's hand slipped on the wet grab bar and he fell heavily to the ground, knocking over the chair as his glasses went flying.
"Dammit!" he exclaimed, punching the puddle he was lying in, frustrated beyond belief that he couldn't be by Max's side. He searched blindly around him for the glasses, finding them under the car. As he found them, he looked up; and his slightly myopic gaze was caught by a blinking red light attached to the underside of the Aztec. Logan dried the lenses as best he could on his shirt and then took a better look. There was no doubt about it.
There was a tracking device attached to the underside of his car.