Fandom: Dark Angel
Warnings: mentions of torture
Author: Lily Zen
Notes: Formerly known as "Lady Jezebel, Lady Jesus." I've changed the title because I have decided that I just can't write Max. Not in this series. It's not about her. So, to state it in plain English, Max is a supporting character in this story. I think this will help it flow better instead of bouncing around in different points of view.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Once upon a time, there was a man. Well, not really a man. Not if you consider the fact that he was a member of a cult that had been preparing for a prophecy to come true for thousands of years by selectively breeding their children so that each generation was stronger, faster, better than ordinary humans. They called themselves the Familiars, though that was the modern adaptation of the name.
This man did not believe in the doctrine of the cult and went against them, using modern science to create an amped-up human to rival the Familiars so that they would protect the human race from the prophecy. The government, seeing the usefulness of these genetically superior beings, stepped in and took over Project Manticore. They decided to turn these creations into weapons so that they would fight for their country. The man who they called Father was forced to flee, abandoning his work, his research, his creations.
A number of years later, after many other events had come to pass, a group of these children—transgenics, the scientists named them—decided to escape, to see the world outside of the gray halls of the buildings where they ate, slept, and all trained together. Some were successful; others were not. Of the children in the unit, only twelve made it over the barb-wire fence.
After that, things got a lot worse. The people who ran Manticore wanted to know where they had gone wrong, what mistakes they had made with the latest test group-they had, after all, seemed so promising—and they wanted to keep it from happening again. So the other young transgenics were put through rigorous tests that skirted the line between scientific evaluation and outright torture, pushed to their limits until either their minds broke under the pressure or they accepted the yoke of control. Units were reorganized, new limits imposed on interaction between the kids. The government wanted soldiers, dammit; they wanted assassins. They didn't want rebellious children.
Those that refused to break or bend were isolated. At best, they could hope to live out their lives locked in a cell in Manticore's basement, the only kindness offered to them being the negligence of those in power. Perhaps they would simply be forgotten like so many of Manticore's failed experiments. However, some were singled out, marked as pliable with the right trigger. Those transgenics were paid special attention as the man who oversaw the X5 class thought up new ways to try and make them submit.
One such child was a girl. She had no name. None of them did. Just a number, a twelve digit barcode: X5-379122426501. For short, she was simply called X5-501.
501 and her male counterpart were designed with a very special purpose in mind. As with some of the children, Father had paid special attention when he was making that girl and her brother, choosing their specific genetic markers with care. The man had wanted to create a seer, a psychic able to see the future in order to control the way certain events unfolded leading up to the fulfillment of the prophecy. This was in the final days before the military official took over. Seeing his inevitable forcible ejection from the program, Father had hidden 501's true purpose underneath another directive.
Some were fighters, some were stealth operatives, others were battle processors or psionic agents. These two were given enhanced charisma and persuasive abilities, made extremely beautiful so as to be eye-catching to the extreme, and they were called Mata Haris, after the exotic dancer who had used her connections among military officers to allegedly become a spy during World War I and executed by firing squad. The male didn't make it past his eighth year. He fell victim to a common affliction among the X5s: seizures. Somewhere during processing, something had gone wrong and their brains did not produce enough serotonin. It could be controlled with proper medical treatment. However, the scientists didn't catch the mistake until kids started dropping dead from grand mals.
Only 501 survived. Being a seer, the girl knew what the future held for them at Manticore and saw the other unit escape before they even knew they were going to do so. 501 wanted to go but knew she could not make it out of her barracks on her own, and she wouldn't be able to get the other members of her unit to follow her. Unlike most of her unit, 501 was withdrawn and preferred to blend in, silent and unnoticeable, when the unit interacted. Silence was, after all, her best defense against someone discovering that she was not quite like the other transgenics. She had a gift and the best thing for all parties was to hide it.
When the other unit's escape went off without a hitch and Manticore began prodding the children to see who was likely to rebel it became obvious to the doctors that 501 was going to be a problem. They hadn't discovered her secret yet, but they were smart enough to figure out through their little psychological tests that 501 had a hankering for finding out what was going on over those walls. The girl was taken away then, kept in isolation for many years while they tried to find ways to make her tow the line. She waited, sinking into her precognitive gift in order to escape the pain of the present. Through it, she could bide her time, survive hunger, deprivation, and outright torture, until the moment arrived where she could seize freedom in one last desperate gambit.
Later on in life, 501 would muse that they had pushed her into it themselves. Their methods made her crave escape more with each passing day.
"Raina?" A voice interrupted her thoughts, and she blinked her eyes open lazily.
A man, the man they called Father, stood over her. He had once been tall and imposing, but at ninety-five years, he was stooped, shriveled into himself. His hawkish nose sat in a face that was still harshly beautiful if you could see past the ravages of time. Wrinkled skin, loose jowls… But it was still square with high cheekbones and lips pressed into a tight line; deep-set brown eyes beginning to go a little glassy. His hair was gray, but in his youth it had been a deep, rich brown. Rene Sandeman was the former Familiar whose brain had fathered an entire sub-species of human.
Leaning heavily on a cane, dressed in slacks and a long-sleeved dress shirt despite the fact that he was just relaxing at his private homestead, Sandeman spoke again. "Are you awake?" He spoke slowly, clearly, his voice hinting that he'd been an excellent orator before the emphysema set in a few years ago. Sometimes Raina needed him to enunciate. The girl, now a young woman, occasionally became so lost in visions that she forgot about the present moving forwards without her.
Sitting up, the first thing Raina noticed was that she was out on the huge, stone patio curled up in one of the chairs. Positioned as she was the afternoon sun beat down on her and sank into her bones. Memory or maybe it was her vision, told her that she had fallen asleep there, lulled into a laconic state by the springtime sun. "Yes. I'm awake," Raina finally replied and stood up.
At her full height, the X5 was taller than Sandeman's stooped form. He had made her fairly tall for a woman, five foot nine and built like a model with gentle curves and athletic musculature. Much of her DNA had come from European donors, so she had the strange, blended look of some Russian women. Something vaguely Asian in the shape of her eyes, her rounded chin and jaw. Except she was pale-skinned, like a Caucasian, perhaps by way of some Irish donor, and had eyes of a most unusual shade. They looked gray from a distance, but up close there were flecks of green and a color that some might mistake for blue but upon closer inspection were actually a pale violet. 501, who had named herself Raina, was possessed of a unnatural beauty that was as much a weapon in her arsenal as speed and strength were.
Long hair the color of a raven's wing flowed in a dark waterfall down her back, stopping just before it touched her lumbar, and had just enough wave to it so that it had some volume. A side-swept fringe nearly obscured her gaze.
She was going to ask what time it was, but even as she thought the question her gift provided the answer. It was nearly eleven o' clock, and she still had to catch a flight back to D.C. so that she could take a meeting with a senator.
Even at twenty-two, Raina still relied heavily upon her talent for far-sight to get her through life. She wasn't quite as broken as she'd been upon her arrival, but she had never found a way to fully step back into sanity either. Instead she existed on the borders, wavering between reality and the bottomless pit that was precognition. The gift provided the answers, her body played a role, but she wasn't really present for most of it. Sometimes she lost time—moments, hours, days—and some corner of her mind simply went ahead without her focusing on the minutiae. It was easier for her to simply sink into the fogginess and filter out the future rather than fighting her talents the way she had as a child.
In some distant corner of her mind, it occurred to her that it had never been this difficult to function before the torture had forced her mental retreat. There was probably a way to re-learn how to control when and where she received the visions, but her mind was no longer in practice. Whatever it was that had held the gift in check, it was gone now.
Still, Raina had managed to create a successful and fulfilling life for herself.
At fourteen, more than half-mad from torture and mind games, Raina had seen the opportunity and seized it. She managed to escape her little solitary cell, get out onto the grounds, and make it over the perimeter fence. All without raising an alarm. Her visions told her where to find Sandeman and how to get there, and when she finally made it he welcomed her with open arms. He had given her a home, an education, a future, and the time she needed to heal in order to function in all of that.
In return, she had given him her allegiance, trusting in his knowledge, his decisions because he knew what was going to happen, just not when.
The two of them, with a few transgenics that Sandeman had absconded with during their initial planning stages—not even out of the petri dish then, saw the future and manipulated the outcome of events to their advantage. The Familiars might win a few battles, but they wouldn't win the war. They wouldn't let the cult wipe out human-kind.