"How's she doing?" Krit asked looking from Syl to Max's pale face. Max was asleep on a narrow bed in a small room at the back of the warehouse. It was commonly called Lydecker's room by the X5's.
"Alright considering" She glanced up at krit, he did not look convinced.
"Some rest and some good food, plus a regular dose of tryptophan, and a bath, she'll be fine" Syl said as she got up from her crouched position next to Max.
"Come on I want to know about this tracker thing Max has stuck in her head, and how the hell is she still alive?" She led the way out to Lydecker and the others gathered around the table.
"How's she doing?" Lydecker asked as he saw them approach.
"She's fine" Krit said with a sneer, indicating he did not care for Lydecker to know about Max's health.
"Tell us how Maxie survived. You called it Lydecker, you said she was KIA, and now she's here?" Syl said as she and Krit both took seats at the table.
"The bullet went into her heart, a fatal wound. I checked her, there was no pulse she was dead" Lydecker said then they all turned to Brin and Handson.
Brin looked away. "Zack" she said, "he sacrificed himself to save her. Max's heart is Zack's" she said still not looking at them. They were all quiet.
Lydecker broke the silence "the tracker?"
"I don't know all the details. They removed the red implant, and then replaced it with a different tracker" said Brin looking back at the others. Lydecker accepted the fact that Zack was dead much more easily than her brother and sister. She could see the pain in their eyes. They tried to hide it but they were unsuccessful.
"Surgery like that is very risky, if not fatal. Can you explain that Ed?" Lydecker said, directing the conversation towards something he was very curious about.
"Yes you are right Deck. She was comatosed after the surgery. We believe that if she would have woken she would have been..." Handson was unsure how to say it, he didn't want the others to take offence if he was too crude. Luckily Lydecker didn't have those issues, "a vegetable" he said looking at the doctor.
"But that doesn't make any sense!" Krit said looking to Syl who also looked confused.
"Neither does a bullet wound that in appearances is a week old. When was she shot, yesterday?" Lydecker asked Brin.
"Yes" Brin said shortly, she did not elaborate.
"What did they do to her Ed?" Lydecker asked Handson
The doctor looked increasingly uncomfortable. He began slowly "the NeoGenesis project" before he could continue Lydecker jumped up and swore vehemently.
"That bitch killed Tinga with her NeoGenesis project. I can't believe they are still at it" Lydecker was vivid. He paced a few steps then came back. He remained standing.
"My apologies doctor please continue" he said, not very apologetically.
"Yes the NeoGenesis project was not very successful at first. With Max in a catatonic state they managed to successfully integrate self-regenerative stem cells into her system. She adapted so well that some of her own cells adapted and became regenerative and self-replicating stem cells. They could harvest her cells. Sell it to whoever had the money. The cells would not be rejected by the recipient. With Max's genetic integration the cells developed a system to adapt to the recipients immunity, therefore preventing tissue rejection." Handson explained.
Lydecker was visibly gawking. The X5's seemed to be lost in thought, except for Brin who already knew this.
"How much money did they make?" Lydecker asked the question everyone was too afraid to ask.
"Manticore is currently financially profitable, they have already begun reconstructing the DNA lab" Handson said, the effect was exponential.
Lydecker banged on the table with his fist; Krit jumped up and yelled "NO!" Syl went into a frenzy and started accusing Lydecker. "This is bullshit! Zack died for nothing, and it's your fault!" she said pointing a finger at Lydecker. She has clearly had this on her mind for a while.
"I didn't know there was a contingent of X7's. They were supposed to be out on assignment" he defended immediately.
"How could you n…." Syl continued but was cut off.
"He's right" Brin said, they all turned their attention to her.
"There was a transport problem so they were kept at base. He couldn't have known" she said, everyone looked at her surprised.
"I don't know about you but I think we should go down town and have a look around" Asha said as she was scanning the computer screen over Logan's shoulder.
"I don't think that's a good idea, it's too risky" Logan said scrolling to a next page.
They were looking at traffic cam images, showing Seattle South during the day of the weapons exchange. The weapons were delivered to a liquor store early morning. The delivery is not obviously weapons but Logan managed to enhance the images of the delivery people and the liquor store owner. The delivery personnel are all known associates of General Martin Davis, the same Martin Davis who took a bribe from Phentrim to swap prescription drugs with fake pills which he sent to veteran clinics. The meds weren't for fatal diseases but something like the common cold, which isn't really an issue unless you're old or really young. Problem is now people have to buy double the amount of medication to get better because the fake stuff don't really work so well. Probably supplemented his weapon trade with money from the vet clinics also, or so Logan suspected although he had no proof. Money from the ration cards Logan had proof of as well as his most recent transactions where he purchased several rifles as well as small arms.
He got Intel that rifles and small arms were to be traded to a Gang in South Seattle from an informant of Detective Matt Sung's. Logan knows the guns come from Martin he also knows that the guys from the trucks were Martins associates since he hacked into the traffic surveillance cameras during the night of the exchange and filmed the whole deal. Problem was he couldn't prove that Martin was behind the exchange. If he tries to corner the general now he might claim that his associates were acting on their own and he had no knowledge of the weapons trade. If there was no way to prove otherwise, the general will walk free and unscathed.
"There must be something in that building that we can use. Transaction records or records of money transfers, something!" Asha said despondently.
"It's too risky. The gangs must be guarding that building like its gold. Not to mention they are now armed with some serious merchandise. We can't risk it." Logan tried to reason with her. "I'll keep this intel and build on it, add more to it until we have enough. Then I'll ask Eyes Only to do a cable hack and expose the guy. As frustrating as it is, that's all we can do." Logan said, annoyed. He wanted to bring Martin down, but there was just nothing he could do. He could ask Krit or Syl to try and retrieve some info but with the heat the gangs were packing he didn't want to risk it. How many times did Max only narrowly escape from missions like these. No he would not risk their live again, he would never forgive himself is he was responsible for the death of an X5.
Logan watched Asha carefully. She was still contemplating to go.
"Well she said finally, I guess we wait then" she said reluctantly.
Logan was not convinced but he had to accept her word.
"Well I'm going home then. I'll see you tomorrow" she said heading towards the door.
"Sure see you tomorrow. You don't want me to give you a lift?" he asked as he stood up to walk her out.
"Nah I'll take a cab." She said looking back and seeing Logan get up she added "I'll find my own way out, you go through those images again, see if you can find anything. Oh mind if I take an apple?" Asha said pointing at a small pile of apples on the kitchen table.
"Sure help yourself" he said then returned to his seat. He listened to Asha crunching into the apple as she walked out.
Max heard Syl and Krit leave her side to return to the main room. She was so tired and exhausted after the seizure she did not bother to get up. If she tried hard enough she might fall asleep again. But that was impossible so she instead listened to the conversation between Krit, Syl, Lydecker, Brin and Handson.
She never really knew what happened to her at Manticore so she followed every word of the conversation and memorised it. She would probably have to explain this to Logan at some point anyway.
Then they all started shouting at each other. She got up and was heading in their direction. Just then Brin spoke up for Lydecker and Max froze shocked. The warehouse was so quiet you could hear a pin drop even without enhanced hearing.
Then Syl saw Max standing nearby. "You shouldn't be up, you should rest."
They all turned their attention to her. "I'm done sleeping" she shrugged "I tried, it's no use" She approaching the group.
"Since we're on the topic of who betrayed whom, how are you not re-indoctrinated, and how did you Brin manage to break out of re-indoctrination?" Lydecker asked as if they didn't just argue.
"Max kept getting seizures during the procedure, no matter how much tryptophan they gave her. Ultimately they decided re-indoctrination was impossible, her seizures prevented deep probing and mind manipulation. They believed it was due to the implant, so they used that as the excuse to remove it. Personally I disagreed, but what say did I have. As for myself, I got a bad knock on the head, the re-indoctrination started clearing off after that. Don't asked me how that's possible cause I don't know." Brin said answering for both her and Max.
"So can't these stem cells fix Max's seizures?" Krit asked.
"No with the seizures we use a virus to insert a piece of DNA into the genome of the patient. We can't replace the whole tryptophan-serotonin pathway but we can correct the DNA error restoring the dysfunctional gene or part of the gene. Unfortunately with the destruction of the DNA lab we also lost all our data on exactly which part of your genome was defective. We could re-sequence it and locate the error. The only problem is your genetic code arose from decades of research. It's not the same as the human code and without the DNA lab we have nothing to compare it to. It would take years to recover that data, and as you know, Manticore currently has other priorities." Handson explained to Max, she nodded.
"Perhaps its better this way, otherwise who knows what they would have turned me into" she said. "So what now? Seems I can't really get away from them. I have perhaps a few more days" she said indicating the armband which was blocking the signal from the tracker, "but what happens then?"
"We can't take the implant out that is too risky, if not impossible even with your current healing abilities. We don't have the equipment that Manticore does. Another option would be to reprogram the device. That is also risky because we need the specific code that the device is linked to, to access it. I'm not sure what safety features they have on this thing?" Lydecker said.
"It's worth trying. How do we get the code?" Max asked looking at Brin. She could still not believe Brin stood up for Lydecker. She must really be shaking this re-indoctrination off.
"That's the risky part. We will have to hack into Manticore's internal mainframe. We should be able to do this remotely but we have to get in close and I don't how they improved their security after our last encounter." Lydecker said.
"What's our timeframe" Max asked Brin.
"Safely, four days. More than that and we're pushing it" she said.
"While you were supposedly diseased, we managed to track down all the other escaped X5's including Jace. I have to contact them all to inform them that you're alive. Perhaps some of them will volunteer to help us in case we need some extra backup." Krit said enthusiastically.
"We can assume Logan will volunteer as hacker. If you don't feel up to it I can go talk to him" Syl offered seeing the anxious look on Max's face.
"No, I'll go. It's just been a while." Max said looking at her clothes, "I should really take a shower before I go though" she added disgusted.
"You know, that's not a bad idea" Syl replied stepping back a bit with an equally disgusted expression. Max looked up and suddenly they both burst out laughing.
Everyone was glad that there was still hope.
Logan was scanning the images again. Something was nagging at him but he could not place where his worries originated from. He knew he had thoroughly examine the images and would not find anything new. But that was not what was bothering him. Perhaps it was Asha. He really hoped she wasn't going to do anything stupid. Thinking of her he gave up the search and walked to the kitchen. The apples were fresh from the market and he was feeling a bit peckish. He took one right off the top of the pile, careful not to start the others on a rolling campaign. Just as he bit into it he realised what was bothering him. He left the car keys on the table next to the apples. The keys were gone.