Necros stood in the corner as the bell rang. His heart was beating with the idea that he was going to sell a teenage boy out to a dangerous mutant. The mutant that had destroyed his world. But he felt empty inside, and he felt too weak to argue. Hell, he thought. I'm a coward. The hall cleared out slowly, and Necros could hear, "…next I was thrown around like a rag doll…" the next part was too quiet for him to hear, but he could hear Dark Tamara's voice as well.

Running after the sound of the voice, he dashed out. "Aaron Stone!" he cried. Stone's hands came up defensively, and behind him, so did Tamara's. Impulsively, Necros brought his own up. He couldn't breath. What was he doing? The boy looked confused and… God, he'd been talking about Damaged. He'd seen one of them die.

"Necros!" he screamed. "Emma, run!"

"I'm not running anywhere!" she replied.

You should have been there like that for Carrie, you coward, you greedy, filthy… "What do you want Necros?"

"Your help. I need your protection," he gasped, tumbling to his knees. Protect me from the memories. Memories of not being with Carrie at her last moment, of letting Xero go, running, running, coward… He wasn't going to protect him, he was only going to bring more regrets.

Tamara and Stone exchanged suspicious glances. Necros almost hoped they would send him away, let him die, be done. But Stone agreed. Stupid, stupid, stupid boy. Next thing he knew, he was back with Hall, handcuffs resting on his wrists. STAN was guiding him into the room, and shoved him into a chair. Necros gave him a look. It seemed odd to see the android again.

"Dr. Necros," Hall began. "The last time you stood before me, you threatened my life and now you ask for my protection?"

Yes, it seems a little far fetched, sir, but I'm just too weak to fight against the guy who might actually manage to kill you, because I just lost my family and I don't care what happens anymore. He wanted to say he was sorry, but he forced his face into the determined, stony jawed expression he'd worn for so long. "I could make excuses, Abner. The serum. My greed." Yes, he could. "But I won't." Well said, Necros, genius. "Things have changed." I've lost everything. "I need your help."

"Alright, before we even go there, Mr. Hall, I wanna know how you found me," Aaron proclaimed, looking at Necros.

Necros looked at him. Are you afraid to lose what I just did, Stone? "We analyzed all of our past confrontations. The gamer convention," That wasn't in Xero's list, but it seemed like a good idea. "Helix's beast following you home, Tranq." Hell, Necros wasn't even sure any of those had been mentioned by Xero, but surely he'd used them… "We finally figured out who you were. That you had a family."

"That's enough!" Aaron screamed, nearly punching him.

Necros braced himself. Somehow the boy's anger made him feel better. That he wasn't alone. That he wasn't the only one afraid. He felt terrible. STAN held Aaron back. "Aaron, your humanity is the only thing that distinguishes you, from them."

Oh, God, just kill me now... "But before we could get to Stone, the Omega Defiance was systematically eliminated." Only they weren't the Defiance anymore. They were his world, his everything. How calmly he could say it all… "I believe I am the only one left."

"Then it's a shame that whoever did this didn't start sooner," Aaron said.

Hatred flamed up in Necros. "You have no idea what you're talking about, boy," he spat. Suddenly betray didn't seem so painful. "What escaped from Sector 21 will be the downfall of mankind." And what exactly was the Defiance?

"Sector 21. It's true then. It did exist," Hall said, his voice edged with curiosity.

Unfortunately. "We needed some place to cage our mistakes." How easily the act went… "And maybe someday learn from them." He meant it in more ways than one.

"Why are they eliminating you?"

"Revenge. We treated them like the animals that they are." They killed them, all of them… They didn't deserve to die, they couldn't help themselves. "Now they want the last intelligence serum, the one you should have taken, Abner." Liar, liar, liar. He hoped they couldn't see the beginnings of the tears in his eyes. "But someone stole it."

"And Sector 21?"

"Fire destroyed it." Damaged had told him. "I suppose… I could take you there. To see what's left?"

Hall considered it. Necros hoped he would say no. "I think we should go, sir. We might be able to find something that can help us." Necros was glad it was him that agreed. He was still fuming at him for his remark.

"It would be an advantage to know what we're up against."

Death.

"Don't worry, Mr. Hall. If he tries anything, he'll end up like the rest of the Omega." There it was again. Necros felt his fury rise. The idiot didn't even care about who he was fighting, didn't care. All that mattered was his own stupid hero act.

STAN took his arm and led him back out. They were in the SSJ in no time, with Hall coming along. The whole gang, how nice. They walked into the building. Stone opened the door, shoving Necros in first. Necros stumbled slightly, gazing at the walls, the tools, the cages… What have we done?

"What we did here would have changed the world."

"Yeah, well, we saw the changes we were making, and the best thing that could have happened do this place, did." For once, Necros agreed with Stone, but he couldn't say that now.

"I don't have feelings or emotions, and… this place creeps me out."

Try acting like your monstrous alter ego while you're here. Oh, wait, you've never suffered though one. He entered a new room. "This was where we conducted out scientific research and experiments," he breathed.

"Call it what it was," Aaron spat. "Torture."

Necros wasn't sure his throat would have allowed that word. "These files are still intact," Tamara called, wondering. "Some of these may be able to be restored."

"Salvage what you can. We'll take it back and learn what we can about the escapees." Necros caught sight of the blaster he'd been promised under a pile of papers. You won't be going back.

He brought the gun up a Tamara, but then bit his lip and fired at the wall instead. He wasn't that much of a waste to humanity after all, he thought sarcastically. Everyone whirled around. Stone brought his gauntlet up, Tamara stepped in front of Hall, her own blaster up. "Think about it, Stone," he said, pointing the blaster at Hall. "You fire at me, I'm firing at Abner." He shot a glance at Hall, and realized he wouldn't be able to shoot the man anyway. "Neither of us will miss." Liar. "Who wins?" Not me in any case. "Who loses?" Everyone.

He tried to steady his hand that quivered as he held the gun. He couldn't keep this up much longer. "Drop it, Tamara," he said, hoping… Stone let down his guard, nodding at Tamara. She put the gun down.

"I'm sorry Mr. Hall. I should have checked the location for planted weapons." You shouldn't have taken my family for granted. I wouldn't have had the stomach if I hadn't come in here mad.

He felt like the monster again. Ruthless. Of course he hadn't trusted him, he didn't trust himself. He wanted to die. Why was he doing this? "STAN. My cuffs. Or I will leave you friendless." The hell I will. Do it fast, or I'll flake. The hell, don't do it fast, I want to give this up, this is insane!

STAN moved forward. "No, STAN, don't!"

"I'm sorry, once threatened, protocol dictates I must do as he asks," STAN explained.

The cuffs came undone, and Necros shook them off. "Good little robot," he said, mocking. It was the best he could think of.

"Android," STAN growled.

"I've delivered them as promised!" Necros called into the dark, ignoring him so that he could just get this over with. "Can I go now?" Go where, idiot?

The sound rang in his ears. Anymore, that sound only reminded him of death. Xero's death, plummeting. He was dragged away, automatically reaching for something to stop himself. He caught hold of the door, screaming with the effort of pulling himself out. And then he remembered Xero. Xero, who had let go.

Dr. Andreas Necros did what he should have done at the start, and let himself be pulled into the darkness.

-X-

Andreas woke slowly and sluggishly. Something was hanging in his face. It smelled of strawberry. He cracked his eyelids open. At first all he could see was a white light and a tangle of blonde hair. "Carrie?" he moaned.

"Got it in one," her voice came, choked with tears but happy.