From One Cage to Another

by pari

[see first chapter for disclaimers, etc.]

A/N: Hope this chapter doesn't disappoint!

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Up until the day he'd met Max, things in Alec's world had always had one way of progressing: smoothly. His missions had always gone well, his evaluations had always gotten him exemplary marks. His superiors had never given him any undue or unwelcome attention...

Except for in '09, of course. When the rogues had escaped, and Alec was thrown into Psy. Ops. for observation.

And in '13, when Manticore had found out that his "brother," Ben, was breaking people into pieces and ripping out their teeth. And Alec was thrown into Psy. Ops. again. Just in case.

And in '18, after Rachel...

Well. For the most part, up until he'd met Max, Alec's life had gone smoothly. And when it hadn't, Alec had found ways to help himself forget the rough spots. But out in the real world, those rough spots started coming a lot faster. They hit a lot harder. And their was no nifty, red beam of light waiting to wipe all his bad memories away.

By the time Alec found himself in a cage with some freakishly strong, might-not-be-an-Ordinary, he'd almost come to accept that certain scenarios would forevermore play out in certain ways, at least so far as he was concerned.

Low profile missions would go virtually public. High-dollar heists would go sideways. Cute little X6s would be everywhere. They would always need saving, they would always be stupid enough to look to him for salvation, and he would always let them down.

White would always be waiting somewhere. Probably with another one of those popguns he'd embedded in Alec's brainstem the last time they'd tangled.

Good days would always end badly.

And bad days would end even worse.

Just as this day was starting to look up, Alec's expectations became justified. He wasn't even half-way through thanking his opponent for inexplicably deciding to end their misery in Alec's favor, when Alec caught sight of some movement through the corner of his eye. He wasn't sure why the dark shape at the edge of his vision had caught his attention, or why he hadn't noticed anything developing around him before then, but Alec knew what a tac team looked like. And there was a tac team in the room with them.

Alec's senses heightened as he instantaneously went into battle-mode, his pupils expanding as he focused in on the soldier he'd spotted as he looked over his opponent's broad shoulder.

The soldier had a rifle. Naturally. And he was aiming it in Alec's direction.

"Down!" Alec yelled on reflex, blurring at the other man in the cage even as he dropped to the ground. Alec pushed him down faster, just as the soldier's bullets flew overhead, ripping the cage's door off its hinges. Alec's inhuman ears picked out the sound of a gruff voice speaking in the midst of all the screaming and fleeing going on around them.

"Move in! All teams move in. Steinmen, Yen, prepare transport."

Alec sighed into the dirty canvas of the mat on the cage floor.

Sometimes Alec almost missed solitary.

When the bullets stopped, Alec turned to the man lying next to him.

"Don't worry, buddy. They're after me," he said.

Surprisingly, the other man said almost exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.

Logan and Alec stared at one another.

"You?" they asked then, speaking simultaneously once more, and looking none too pleased about it. A second barrage of bullets overhead silenced anything else they might have said.

Alec looked back into the crowd. The soldiers closing in on them were nearing the cage as less and less spectators were left between them and their targets.

"Oh," Alec told his fellow fugitive, blinking. "Okay. I'll give you boys a little time alone then."

"Parsons!" Alec heard the voice from before scolding. "Hold your fire! Hold your fire, people. We want him alive."

"Good luck." Alec patted the other man on the shoulder and leapt to his feet, then off of them. He grabbed hold of the chain link covering even the top of the cage, and began climbing across it towards the hole cut in its center for the announcer's microphone.

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Logan took only a moment, after the man who'd been right next to him had leapt the entire ten feet to the top of the cage, to shake his head and blink his eyes - as if trying to flush something out of them, something that was making him see things.

But he hadn't been mistaken.

Yes, that kid was clinging to the underside of the top of the cage. And he was crawling across it.

Then Logan remembered that he had worse problems than where his last cage opponent had hatched.

"You! Don't move!" said one of the black-clad soldiers slipping into the cage with him. Logan had just been in the process of rising to his feet, and paused on his hands and feet. He kept his head down, but looked up from under his lashes, concentrating totally on the five - no, six, seven - agents suddenly standing on the mat around him.

Only one of the soldiers retained his rifle. The others had now switched to some kind of projectile tazor.

Logan tensed. So the odds were five to one he'd get stunned, and shipped off to a lab, rather than shot dead in some shitty little fight club in Seattle - if he didn't manage to fight his way free of all of them. Since they were the only odds Logan was going to get, he supposed they weren't too bad.

"You sure I'm the one you're looking for, guys? I mean, my buddy up there is the one crawling across the fucking ceiling."

If the soldiers were disturbed by that, Logan wasn't paying enough attention to the expressions on their faces to see it.

"No talking!" what appeared to be the unit's team leader barked at him. "Hands on your head!"

"I don't think you..."

"Hands on your head!"

With a nod, two of the leader's team moved in on either side and behind Logan, tazors at the ready. Logan rose to his knees with a sigh.

'Fine. Don't say I didn't warn you,' he thought.

Logan slowly put both his hands behind his head. The soldiers so ordered lowered their tazors and brought out ties for Logan's wrists and ankles, moving as quickly as they could without stumbling over one another. The muscles in Logan's arms began to tense, his fingers twitched.

On one hand, Logan hated this part. It wasn't these soldiers' fault that no pathetic, may-as-well-have-been-plastic strap was gonna keep Logan from his freedom.

Then again...

One of the soldiers kicked Logan in the leg before kneeling behind him. In the background, their team leader was saying something into his mouthpiece.

"Feet together," the soldier ordered Logan. Logan smiled grimly.

Before either soldier could touch him, Logan moved. He aimed one fist at the soldier kneeling nearby and the other at the one leaning over him. The six-inch metal claws that had sprung from Logan's knuckles in the meantime caught the first soldier in the stomach, the second in the chest, slicing through fabric and flesh and muscle like air.

It all happened before any of the other soldiers could react. By the time their tazors began to fire, Logan had spun around and onto his feet, dragging the soldiers with him with his claws, and putting them between himself and their fellow officers. The charges of the soldiers' tazors hit the men and they shuddered violently, groaning as volts of electricity sizzled through them.

Logan hissed at the residual charge that traveled through the men and his claws to himself and pushed.

The soldiers went flying into three of their comrades as Logan ducked to avoid a blow from a fourth. The soldier was the one who'd kept his rifle, and was obviously about to disobey his orders to take Logan alive. After swinging at Logan with his weapon and missing, the soldier drew the rifle down and around so that the barrel was pointed at Logan's chest.

Logan lashed out with a steady kick, just as the soldier fired, and the rifle tilted up, its bullets missing Logan's head by half a foot. Something pricked at the skin of Logan's back and stung. Logan's body tremored momentarily, but Logan shrugged it off. Then he threw a second kick, this one at the soldier's abdomen, moved and grabbed the neck of the soldier's rifle, and used it to pull the soldier in close enough to be taken down with a punch.

The soldier's team leader had watched all of this with a mixture of horror and alarm.

As the soldier - Oran - had turned on their target with his rifle, Martine had gone for one of the tazors lying on the mat by his fallen men. One of the officers had been knocked unconscious when their target shoved the wounded members of her unit into her. One of the officers who'd been stabbed - Beager - was bleeding profusely, clutching at his torso as Leary tried unsuccessfully to help him staunch the flow of blood from his wound. The third officer lying on the mat was already dead.

Martine raised the tazor and set its charge as high as he possibly could. He shot at the target just as Oran opened fire - only to watch the man pause, tremble, and go on as if nothing had happened.

Martine grabbed his handgun as Oran fell, tossing the useless tazor to the side. A moment of indecision allowed the supposed transgenic in approach to take two steps before Martine got a shot off. He was torn between shooting his prey before it could incapacitate him the way it had his subordinates and/or escape (and suffering the wrath of his superiors for having done so) and taking his chances otherwise.

The moment of indecision passed as Martine heard Leary confirm that Beager was now dead, and fired. But the transgenic leapt quickly, and Martine's bullet lodged in his thigh. He kicked Martine in the head and the human went down.

Logan didn't linger over the unconscious soldier. He took off for the opening of the cage as the last soldier now standing pulled his own piece and followed.

:::: tbc ::::