TITLE: Genetically Empowered

WRITTEN BY: Heather Ferguson (fergus80)

EMAIL: hferguso@niu.edu

WEBSITE: http://eric_greta.tripod.com (Jensen)

RATING: PG-13

SUMMARY: How 'Freak Nation' should have been. M/A

SPOILERS: Everything!

DISCLAIMER: All Dark Angel characters belong to James Cameron, FOX, etc. etc. etc.

FEEDBACK: PLEASE!!! I CRAVE IT!!! It makes me want to write more.

DEDICATION: To all the Nuns at the Church of Alec, and the Blue Lady! And a special thank you to those who read, and corrected my spelling, grammar, tenses, etc. You know who you are, you wonderful nuns you. ;)

RANT: Okay, it's been a couple months now since Freak Nation aired, and thus ended the series. FN was completely out of character, and sequence with the show. It was as if the previous season hadn't even happened. I don't need to tell most of you this. Well, here is my way of trying to write, what should have happened, at least in my own mind. Now, parts of this will be exactly like the episode, some will be completely different. Hope you like it.
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Max sat looking out over the dark city, it looked so calm and different from up there. It almost seemed if no one was out to get her, or her friends and her kind. She sighed thinking for how many years she just tried to be a normal girl, and now she was forced to admit how different she was. Now she had to accept those differences, or else no one else in the world would.

It had been nine months since she had torched Manticore and set everybody free, let them all out into the unsuspecting world. And ever since, the government had been doing everything they could to catch them. The public is frightened, and all of the transgenics are hated and living in fear, fear for their very lives. *Thank God, I'm not alone in all of this, * she thought, thinking of Joshua, Alec, and some of the others. All working together, all there to protect and help each other.

While her human friends were there to try and help when they could, Alec was right, and she hated it when he was right. When they were around them, they were a danger to them, to the humans. She had found that out with Logan. Just a simple little touch by her and he could be dead. All because of this stupid virus that Manticore put in her because they wanted him dead, wanted Eyes Only gone. And basically Eyes Only was dead, since White had traced his signal and destroyed all of his hacking equipment. She was just glad that Luke and Dix had stuff set up in Terminal City, otherwise she wasn't sure where they would get the intelligence reports they so badly needed.

She ran a hand through her wind blown hair, and rested her chin against her other hand on her knee. Not only did she have to worry about all the other transgenics, and their fight to be accepted. She also had these mysterious markings appearing on her body that had to deal with some weird ancient cult, some several thousand years of selective breeding. *And they want me dead, * she sighed again, *And I've got a bad feeling they're not going to give up until they get what they want. *

"I knew this is where I would find you."

She didn't even turn around and groaned, "Why the hell did you have to come find me?" She asked hearing him walk up and then sit down beside her.

"Well, for one you weren't answering your pager, or cell phone. And two, Dix is eagerly awaiting the pictures of the new runes that have shown up."

She rolled her eyes, and looked at him, "Alec, what new pictures?"

He smiled at her, "The ones that need to be taken. That's why I came looking for you. They need to be photographed before they disappear." She groaned at him in frustration. "Hey, hey. Don't blame the messenger," he said putting his hands up in the air. She rolled her eyes at him, and he looked over her shoulder.  Seeing the briefcase he spoke again, "So I see your heist went as well as mine did."

Max looked at him, "If yours went so well, where's the money?"

"Back at TC. Over an hour ago. Like where yours should be. But instead you are up here, lounging around."

"I'm not lounging around!" She yelled at him, "I'm . . . thinking."

He nodded, "Thinking . . . about?"

"None of your damn business."

"Fine, fine. Retract the claws. I was just asking. Geez." He waited, watching her for a minute as she just looked out over the city. "So, anything you want to talk about?" he asked after another minute of silence.

"Can't you go five minutes without talking?" she asked, glaring at him.

He thought about it for a minute, and then the smug grin came back on his face. "Well, it depends."

She knew by the look on his face that she didn't want to know, but she asked anyway. "On?"

"If moans and groans count as words." She rolled her eyes, and her hand smacked his shoulder, "Ouch."

"Big baby." He gave her a slight hurt puppy dog look, and she shook her head again at him. "I take it you are just going to stay up here, annoying the hell out of me aren't you?" He smiled and nodded. She stood up with a slight huff, "Fine, let's get back to TC before I throw you off the ledge." She said turning, picking up the large briefcase next to her and heading back inside. Alec smiled shaking his head at her as he followed her inside, and down to their parked bikes.
_________________________________
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
2021

One of the entrances to Terminal City was being bombarded by people throwing debris, burning wooden X's, and screaming at the transgenics inside.

A reporter and her cameraman were off to the side reporting on the event. She looked into the camera seriously, telling her news story. "Terminal City is a twenty-block no-man's land here in the heart of Seattle. Closed ten years ago after a massive toxic spill, it is without power or water, and it is a felony to go beyond this security fence right behind me. Terminal City is far from empty; it is home to rats, stray cats, a few homeless humans, and--according to reports--an ever-increasing number of transgenics, some of them far from human. Local citizens have begun setting up flaming X's, like this one, outside the fence as a warning to the transgenics inside."

In the background of the camera you can hear the crowd yelling. "Get out of here, you freaks!" They threw bottles and garbage inside. "Go back where you came from!"

Max and Alec drove up on their motorcycles, stopping just down the street. She turned to Alec, "What the hell?"

He shook his head, "They were here earlier too."

She shook her head, and then smiled at him, revving up her engine. He smiled at her, and did the same. The people by the fence turning to look at the two on the bikes, the loud sounds from their engines.  Max looked at the guys, "Two million years of human evolution and this is what we get. You morons."

And with that she speeds up on the bike, Alec right beside her, both rearing back onto the rear tires and break through the flaming X, breaking it into flying bits of flaming wood. Both wheels dropping back down, to speed up the ramp and jump the fence into Terminal City.

The reporter looked around, and shouted, "What the hell?!" Then quickly turned to her cameraman, "Did you get that? Tell me you got that!"

_________________________________

They both drove through the old parking garage, coming to a stop, and turning off their engines. Alec looked over at her, taking off his shades, "That was fun." She gave a slight smile and laugh, and stood up, reaching for the briefcase. "I've got it," he said picking it up as they started to walk towards headquarters. He looked down at the case, noticing the bullet holes. "Problems?" he asked showing them to her.

"Ever notice how drug dealers have no sense of humor when it comes to money?"

He nodded as they walked, "I knew someone should have gone with you."

She looked up at him, "I was just fine!" She said as she pulled the briefcase away from him. "Besides, you had your own heist to do."

He smiled down at her, "Well, I wasn't meaning that I had to be the one to help you." He said, but thought that it was nice to know that she had only thought of him to help her.

"Well with the money we both got tonight, it oughta keep us in Skittles and beer for a coupla weeks."

Alec laughed, "Well that's good. 'Cause we got a lot of new people around here." He said indicating all the people they were walking by. Torches, and small bonfires lighted the place. By each huddled groups of transgenics.

"You can say that again," came a voice off to their side.

"Hey Mole," Alec told the reptilian man.

"Hey Alec . . . Max," he said, nodding to her. She handed him the briefcase, and he handed it off to someone else to take inside, as the three looked around. "We've got X-5's, X-6's, even a few sevens. We got transhumans, anomalies, pregnant females...It's turning into Grand Central Station around here."

"I can see that," she said as they started walking again.

"So, what supplies do we need?" Alec asked.

"We're gonna need gas for the generator, iodine tablets ASAP, blankets, bedrolls, Sterno for stoves. We're gonna need food, and we're gonna need weapons, bullets, ammo, guns, grenades, anything we can scrounge." Mole replied, and then shook his cigar, "Oh, I'm gonna need more cigars. Soon."

Max smiled, "Hey, there are only so many hours in the night."

"But we will get it, all of it," Alec said opening the door, letting the two pass in front of him, and then followed.

_________________________________

The three enter headquarters, a mass of other people moving around. Watching the TV's, computers, and working around other tables. They head over to Dix and start watching the newscasts with him. "Evening, gents." Max says, and they smile at her.

"Hey, Max . . . Alec" Both Dix and Luke respond. Alec gave both a smile and small wave.

The group turned back to the TV, listening to the reporter interviewing one of the people on the street that they had seen earlier. "Some people are calling you vigilantes. How would you answer that?" she asked, turning the microphone towards the man.

"Nah, we're just concerned citizens, that's all. Kinda like, uh, a neighborhood watch group. Look, we just want our streets safe from these mutant freaks. You know what I'm saying? I mean, what are we supposed to do--wait until they break into our houses and take our daughters?"

Mole took the cigar out of his mouth and pointed it at the television, "You believe this pudknocker?"

The man on screen kept talking, "I mean, they need to go back wherever the hell they came from and stay out of our neighborhood."

Another man behind him chimed in, "Yeah, get out of town, you egg-sucking freaks!"

"Yeah, you're right on, Charlie," the first man agreed.

Dix laughed slightly, "Well? You heard him, boys. Looks like it's back to Manticore." Mole and Alec laughed at his statement, and Max sighed walking over towards Joshua. Alec stopped, patted Mole on the shoulder and followed her.

Joshua stood there with a large paintbrush, painting what looked like a large white sheet. Max tilted her head to the side looking at it. Three stripes, one black, one read, and one white, all with a large white dove in the middle. "Hey, Joshua," she said after a moment.

"Hey," he replied.

"Whatcha doin' buddy?" Alec asked from behind her.

Joshua brushed a few more strokes of paint onto the material, by the wings of the bird. "It's a flag. It's our flag."

Luke chimed in from across the room, "Yeah, 'cause we're gonna need a flag when our transhuman drill team is marching down Fifth Avenue in the St. Paddy's Day Parade."

Dix laughed, "Let's not forget halftime at those Seahawks games."

Max furrowed her brow, and shouted, "Hey, cut it out." Then she turned back to Joshua, as he started to explain, pointing towards the barcode in the middle of the black stripe.

"This is you," he said pointing at both her and Alec, "me, even them." He indicated the others watching the TV, and then motioned around the room, "It's all of us." He turned back to the painting, pointing to the black stripe, "This is where we came from--where they tried to keep us."

"In the dark," Alec said softly, his eyes closing slightly, remembering. Only to open them and see Max looking at him with a strange look on her face. His mask instantly plastering back on his face with a know it all smile, as Joshua nodded he was correct. She rolled her eyes at him, and turned back to listen.

"A secret." He said, and then pointed at the red stripe, "This is where we are now, because our blood is being spilled." His hand moved toward the white stripe, "And this is where we want to go."

"Into the light," Max said looking at the image before her.

"Right," he replied as Alec's hand reached up and laid on his shoulder. Max smiled.

_________________________________

Agent White waited by the train station, his cell phone pressed to his ear, a very unhappy look on his face. He sighed, anger evident in his voice, "You understand that bringing in this team now could compromise my cover at the Agency?"

Moorehead's voice came through the phone sharply, {{Your Agency position has served us well, Ames, but the Conclave feels that…}}

He didn't want to hear it, "With all due respect to the Conclave, bringing in outside muscle is not the solution to this problem."

She wasn't listening, {{Hardly outside muscle. The Phalanx are the best we have--the elite of our warrior breeding line, the tip of the spear. They come by direct order of the Conclave, so discussion is pointless.}}

White rolled his eyes, "I bow to the wisdom," he said before hanging up the phone, and turning towards the stopping train. Once the train halted, a group of two women and three men came out. They were huge, each easily six foot six, even the women. They walked directly towards him.

"Fe'nos tol. I'm Serilda, team leader." The large, dark haired woman said.

"Fe'nos tol." White nodded at her.

"I've heard a lot about you, Brother White," she said with a smirk. "I'm surprised you couldn't handle one girl on your own."

White tried not to show his anger at the statement, "Your target's a little more than just a girl."

She laughed, "You defend your failure by flattering your enemy?"

He handed her a picture with Max's face, "452 is a threat to everything we've worked for throughout the generations. Her death is our highest priority."

She just grinned at him, making his blood boil, "Don't worry, Brother. We'll clean your mess up for you." She said walking past him, her shoulder hitting him, making him stumble back as the others followed her.

_________________________________

They designed her to be the perfect soldier--a human weapon. Then she escaped. In a future not far from now, in a broken world, she is haunted by her past. She cannot run; she must fight to discover her destiny. --- DARK ANGEL

_________________________________

Max sat in huff, straddling the chair in the conference room, giving an evil look to the only other occupant. "What?" came his reply.

She was not happy, not at all, but she knew she had no choice in the matter. The photos had to be taken, and out of everyone else around her, he was the only one that she trusted enough to allow them to take them. But that didn't mean she liked the idea, *Why can't Cindy be here?* she asked herself, already knowing the answer. "Okay, let's just get this over with." She said, her voice sharp.

"Hey, what the heck did I do now?" Alec asked walking over to her with the digital camera in his hands.

She closed her eyes, in frustration. "Just being you."

He gave her a smile, even though a hurt look passed through his eyes. "Hey, if you don't want me doing this, get someone else to do it."

"I've already thought of that, and there isn't anyone." He gave her a look, like he didn't believe her. "Seriously. Who? Dix, Luke, Mole? Yeah, right. Joshua? That's just . . . wrong. Logan? We broke up, and he can't touch me. And Cindy . . .  she can't come here, it's the middle of the night, and they are already starting to fade."

He let out a large sigh, *So I really am her last choice. Great. Perfect.* He looked down at the camera, turning it on. "Fine, then let's just get this over with then," his voice snapped back at her.

She jumped slightly at the tone of his voice, and realized maybe she had gone too far. It wasn't his fault this was happening to her, and it wasn't like he was demanding to do this. "Listen . . ."

He shook his head.  "So where are they?" he asked not listening to her.

Max looked up at him, and could see the hurt and anger there. The truth was, even though she didn't want to admit it, she trusted him, and that's why he was there. But she didn't say it, instead her hands moved her hair away from her back, and she started to lift her shirt.

She saw his eyes widen slightly, as she started to pull the back of her shirt up, and he spoke. "Are you sure, you don't want me to get someone else to do this? I mean, I'm sure maybe CeCe or one of the other . . ."

She interrupted him, "I don't want to trouble CeCe with this. She's still upset about . . ." She stopped, not saying the name. Watching Alec cringe as well, as the image of Biggs hanging there entered both of their minds. "Alec I'm . . ."

He cut her off from apologizing, "It's fine," he said, and moved behind her, lowering himself to his knees behind her. He sat the camera down on the floor next to him. She moved the rest of her hair over her shoulder to her front, baring her back. He could see some of runes peeking out at him. He took a deep breath, his hands coming out, to move the fabric up further, and bunch it over her shoulders. More and more of her bare back being exposed to him.

She sat up straight, feeling his fingertips brush against her skin, and tried not to let her body react to it. She leaned her front against the back of the chair, wrapping her arms around it for support.

He looked at her back, the straps of her black bra hiding some of the words, he tried to see if he could just move it to the side, but it was no use. "Uhhh . . . Max…"

"Yes?" she asked.

He lightly fingered the clasp of the bra, "This has to be undone. I can't see half of the runes with it here." He felt her tense at the words, and was getting ready for the verbal onslaught, accusing him of being a pig or something.

But instead all he heard was a small sigh, and an "Okay."

He slowly unhooked her bra, and moved the straps down her arms. His eyes trying not to see the skin of the sides of her breasts, which were now slightly exposed to him. He closed his eyes and took another deep breath, trying to remind himself what he was really there for.

She heard him let go of his deep breath, and felt it wash over her back, making her shiver slightly. "Are you cold?" he asked from behind her, his voice an octave lower than usual.

"A little," she lied.

"Well, I'll try and hurry then." He picked the camera back up, and moved in close to take the pictures. A couple on each shoulder blade, and then the ones down the middle of her back. His hand went out without him realizing it, his fingertips trailing along one of the rows, as if he was trying to read it. He watched her stiffen slightly, and "I'm sorry," immediately sprung from his lips, "Some hair was in the way." He lied, and she knew it, but she didn't say anything.

He took a few more shots, and sat the camera back down. His fingers gathered up the silk from her sides, and re-hooked her bra. A million things he could say popping into his head, but he thought better of it at that moment. His hands moving back to the straps and sliding them in place.

She felt his hands moved back over her skin, so soft, gentle and warm. She swallowed hard. And put off the feelings as not having enough physical contact with people. She then felt him moving the material back over her, pulling her shirt back down.

"Are there anymore?" He asked her, somewhat hopeful there was, as his mind played with the torturous idea of where they could be.

"Yeah, but I'm pretty sure I can get them."

 He sighed and she turned around in the chair facing him, him still on his knees in front of her. "Max . . . where are they?" he asked, more out of curiosity than anything else. He watched her trying to decide whether to tell him or not.

She could take the pictures herself, even though it would be very tricky. "Uhhh."

He rolled his eyes at her, "Just tell me." He said, and watched her move her hand down to her lower stomach, right over her pelvic bone. His eyes widened slightly, taking in another breath, and nodded, "Really?" She nodded, and he bit his lip. "Are you . . ." He coughed slightly, "You sure you can do that?"

She saw the discomfort in his eyes and his voice, she had the same feeling going through her. She wanted to be able to do it herself, but knew the angle was all wrong. "No, I'm not sure," she finally admitted.

He closed his eyes, "Do you want me to?" he asked, letting her decide.

"Want? No," she said.  "Need? Unfortunately so," she admitted.

He nodded his okay, and watched her unbutton her pants, then bringing down the zipper. She started to slide them partially down, and he could start to see the symbols on her lower stomach, then they stopped, covered by black lace. He closed his eyes again, trying to calm down the racing of his heart, his blood pumping in his ears.

She didn't know why she was letting this get to her so much. This was Alec for God's sake, so what if he saw some of her, it's not like he had never seen a naked woman before. But she knew that there was more to it than that, but pushed the thoughts away. Her hands moving to the waistband of her underwear, moving the fabric down just enough to see the runes that had appeared the night before.

Max looked back up at him, and found his eyes closed, and she smiled slightly. Then let her face go back to normal, as she spoke. "Well are you going to take the picture or not?"

His eyes popped open instantly, as he grabbed the camera. "Right," he said. Alec looked at the exposed skin, and he tried not to think of all the thoughts that were still finding their way into his brain. Her hands were holding down the fabric, so that he could take the picture, but also so that it wouldn't fall down any further than it needed to be. "Lean back." He told her, so that he could get a flat picture of her stomach.

She leaned back, and he moved up closer, between her legs, moving in close over her to take the picture. Somehow managing to will his hands to stay steady as he did so.

Max held her breath as she watched him taking the pictures, her mind trying not to think of things she shouldn't. Her eyes looking down at the top of his head, leaning over her stomach. * Max . . . don't go there,* her brain told her, but she wasn't listening, her fingers losing grip of the lace band.

Alec saw her fingers slip, and his hand quickly moved as he was taking another picture, to make sure it didn't move back up in the way. But then his brain caught up to his actions, his fingertips feeling the silk, lace and her soft skin. Both of them sat completely still. He looked up to her face, catching her eyes, seeing her bite her bottom lip. He closed his eyes once again, letting go of the fabric, and took a calming breath.  He moved back away from her, and quickly propelled himself back up to his feet, turning away from her.

His ears could hear the slight rustling of fabric, his brain knowing that she was pulling her pants back up. "Okay, well. I have the pics. I'll go and give them to Dix,"  he said as he reached for the handle of the door. "You . . . uh . . .  decent?" He asked before opening it.

Max stood up, and buttoned her pants, "Yeah," she said softly.

He nodded, and opened the door, quickly leaving. His mind and body unsettled, like hers.

_________________________________

Original Cindy looked up from her locker, as the blonde girl approached her. Her hand went out and rested on the girl's shoulder, "How you doin'?"

She shrugged her shoulders, moving her head from side to side, "I'm . . . fine," she said shaking off the thoughts.

Cindy just nodded, not needing to go into it anymore, she missed Biggs as well. She quickly changed the topic, "So… you seen my girl?"

CeCe shook her head, "No." Then she turned around, pulling down the back of her shirt a little, "Do I need a touch-up?"

OC took a look at the back of her neck, seeing no barcode she replied, "No, you're good."

CeCe nodded her thanks, and Sketchy ran up to them. "Hey, guys, check this out," he said as he pulls on a baseball cap with Jam Pony on it.

"It's a hat," Cindy said.

"Yeah, with a fully rotational brim," he said turning the brim to the side, "So you can always represent."

Cindy laughed at him, "Yeah, represent your massive stupidity." She reached out and turned the brim back to the front, and her and CeCe walked towards the front desk, laughing slightly.

"That's one opinion," Sketchy called after them.

Alec and Max walked through the door and into Jam Pony. "All I'm saying is that Dix may be onto something."

She rolled her eyes at him, "Great, that's great Alec. Yeah, some horrible event is going to happen. Just perfect."

"Well, you always go on about how you want to save the world."

She smacked his shoulder as they got close to the front desk, "Yeah, save it. Not cause the downfall of it."

"Max, you have no idea . . ." He was cut off by Normal.

"For he's a jolly good fellow," the man started to sing as he came out from behind the desk, his hands behind his back. "For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good felloooow..."

Alec looked around to everyone that was forming around him in a circle, "The man's finally lost it, ladies and gentlemen."

Normal finally stopped singing and brought out the small cake from behind him, with one lighted candle on it, and handed it to Alec. "Many happy returns, there, buddy boy."

He gave Normal a strange look, absolutely confused,  "It's not my birthday."

"Yeah, it's right there in black and white on your application form," Normal reminded him.

Alec looked over at Max, and she smiled back at him trying not to laugh, and he replied, "Oh yeah, yeah. Boy, nothing gets by you, does it, Normal?" he said, trying to cover quickly.

Normal smiled, "Now I made that without eggs and butter, all right? I know you like to look after the ol' physique." He motioned to the cake, "Go ahead. Blow it out."

Alec looked at the candle, shrugged his shoulders, and decided to go with the human tradition. He looked at Max with a suggestive smile, and she rolled her eyes. He smiled, made his wish, and blew out the flame. He leaned down into her ear, "I wonder if my wish will come true." She rolled her eyes again, and he laughed. "So, what are you getting me for my birthday Maxie?" He asked and she smacked him upside the head.

"An anvil," she replied with a grin. His one hand went over his heart, his face making an ouch look, and she just shook her head at him, as Normal started to yell at everyone around him, to get back to work.

Alec smiled, as he started to cut the cake, and Max grabbed one of the small plates sitting on the counter. He laughed at her, "Oh, I see. No present from you, but you want some of my cake?"

"Yep!" Was her only reply.

_________________________________

A pregnant woman and a young boy were walking down the street. As they passed a few police officers, the woman pulled up the hood of her jacket.

The boy looked at her questioningly, "You sure this is the right way?"

"I think so," she responded as she looked at the sheet of paper in her hands. "It says south on Seventh. I figure we've got another half a klick or so to go." She then let out a gasp of pain, clutching her stomach, as a contraction went through her.

The boy grabbed her hand in concern, "Can you make it?"

She nodded, a determined look on her face. "I'll make it."

A hoverdrone whined overhead, and the two quickly move into a nearby phone booth. She picks up the phone, pretending to make a call, as the machine snaps a few pictures of them and the surrounding building. Once it flew off, the two moved out of the booth, and started their journey again.

A few moments later a van pulled up and stopped next to them. The two panic slightly, and get ready to turn and run, just as the door opens and Joshua waves at them. Motioning for them, "No no! Hey! Hey! Come back! Hurry!" The two turn around seeing him, smile slightly and quickly climb in the van. Mole looks back at them, sees them get in, with Joshua closing the door. "Go! Go!" With that Mole turned back to the front and starts driving away.

The woman smiles, "Hey. I'm Gem, X5. This is Dalton," she said indicating the boy.

Dalton nodded, "X-6."

"Joshua," he said pointing to himself, then noticing Gem's large stomach, he asked, "You're having a baby?"

She smiled, rubbing her hands over her belly, "Yeah."

"When's the baby due?"

"Last week. Just been keeping my legs crossed until we reach the Promised Land," she said another small wince going over her features.

Mole responded to that, looking back at them. "Yeah, well, Terminal City ain't exactly the Promised Land, honey, but we got a couple guys with some medical training…"

Joshua's eyes widened as he looked out the front window, "Watch out!"

Mole quickly looked back to the road, but not fast enough. The van slammed into the rear end of a truck that had just backed into the street.

Joshua quickly looked around the van after the impact, "Is everyone fine?"

"Yeah, I think so," the boy replied, then looking at Gem, "You all right?"

"Yeah," she said.

Mole turned the key in the engine again, and again, trying to get it started, "Bastard son of a bitch backs out without even looking."

"We need to go," Joshua said looking around worried, as a crowd had started to gather. "Uh, we need to go."

"Yeah, yeah, hang on," Mole replied.

The boy looked worried, "It's not starting?"

The driver of the truck got out of his vehicle, and picked up a tire iron out of the back, and he angrily started to move towards the van. The passenger of his truck getting out as well.

Gem started looking around at everyone getting closer. "This is not good. We've got company."

Joshua noticed as well, "Uh, we gotta… we gotta blaze. We gotta blaze now!"

Mole nodded, "Man up, dog. You're the one who wanted some action."

The two men from the truck had now gotten much closer to the van, "Uh-oh," Joshua said.

The driver started to bang on the van's front with his tire iron, "Hey! Punk ass! Look what you did to my truck!" he said taking another swing.

"Uh-oh," Joshua said again.

"Punk ass?" Mole questioned, his temper starting to get the better of him.

"Uh-oh," Joshua echoed again, knowing things were quickly getting way out of hand.

Mole opened the door of the van, grabbing his shotgun, and rested it on his shoulder, "You mean Mr. Punk Ass, don't ya?"

The driver and the crowd's eyes went wide as Mole stood outside of the van. "Damn. It's one of those freaks," he yelled.

Mole shook his head, "Now, that hurts." He then shot the gun once into the air, the crowd quickly running away. The three passengers in the van quickly getting out and standing. Mole smiled, "I'll say one thing for ordinaries… they know when to run."

Joshua looked around, "Maybe we should run too."

Mole shook his head, "We don't run, we fall back. Let's go," he said as he started running in the other direction. The other three right behind him. Joshua pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, and quickly dialed Max, as they ran through a very busy marketplace. The crowd moving apart, and people staring at them.

_________________________________

Max ate the last bite of her piece of cake, as she leaned against the wall next to the counter that Alec was sitting on talking to Normal. She rolled her eyes, as Normal listened to another one of Alec's fighting stories with rapt attention. His hands moving in punch like movements as he relayed the story.

Her phone rang, and she threw out the plate and fork, and fumbled into her jacket for it. Walking back towards her locker, she answered it, "Go for Max."

Joshua came through the phone, his voice quick and frantic, "Little fella, little fella, everything's gone sideways, it's FUBAR. People screaming, and Gem is trying to keep her legs crossed so the baby won't pop out!"

Max was confused, *What the hell? Gem? Who?* she thought, but said, "What? Where are you?"

"I'm at South Market . . ."

She nodded even though he couldn't see her, "Me and Alec are at Jam Pony, right around the corner. We'll come . . ." But the static entered her ear before she could finish that they would find them, "Joshua? Joshua? Are you there?" She asked into the phone. *Damn it!* She thought, and then quickly started to look for Alec, she hurried back to the counter. He wasn't there, "Normal, where's Alec?"

He didn't even look up at her, "Just sent him on a run."

_________________________________

Joshua looked down at the phone in his hands, "Max? Max?" He checked the phone, and sighed. "Battery died. She said Jam Pony. Her and Alec at Jam Pony, around the corner, then battery died."

"Which way?" Mole asked quickly, "Come on!"

Joshua took Gem's hand, and started to lead the way, "Come! Come!"

Mole followed right behind them, "Go! Go! Go!" as the four ran down the street pushing people out of their way as they went. "Out of the way! Out of the way!"

The crowd in shock, making comments as they went. "Whoa!" Another one pointed, "Freaks!" A lady pulling her kids behind her. "Look at that!"

A policeman noticing the ruckus, quickly turned to his radio, calling in the situation. "Suspects in sight." The four turn and run another way, "I'm in pursuit!" he yelled and started to run after them. A few other officers nearby follow him in the chase.

The four transgenics quickly run up to the outside of Jam Pony, just as Alec rides his bike out of the building, a surprised look on his face instantly at seeing them.

Once his brain registered that they were there, it immediately thought, *This is not good.*

"Alec!" Joshua shouted, "I'm so glad to see you."

Alec nodded, "Uh-huh." He wasn't too glad to see them, as he looked around.

"This is Gem," he said his hand on her arm, "She's having a baby."

He looked at Joshua like he was nuts, "Oh, so naturally you thought of stopping by Jam Pony in broad daylight."

"Max said the two of you were here."

Alec nodded, *Max, yeah, great.* He spotted the police cars arriving behind them, "Don't turn around. Don't turn around. Keep walking. Keep walking," he said pulling his bike with him, and walking the other way.

The police got out of their cars, and raised their guns at them, "You, in the hood! Drop your weapon!" the officer shouted as another police car came around the other side, cutting off their escape. "Drop the weapon now! Put your hands on your head!"

The cops in front of them, screaming, "Don't move!"

Alec drops his bike, and waves out his hands, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Whoa!"

Mole raised his shotgun, and shot into the air. He then grabbed Alec, pointing the gun at him like a hostage. "Get back! Or he's dead!" he yelled. Joshua grabbed Gem, and she pulled his hand with the gun down to her as well. "I said, stay back or he's dead!" He then turned to Alec, whispering, "Play along."

"Yeah, no problem," he said, not arguing with the transgenic with the gun. Mole then pulled him into Jam Pony, closely followed by the others. "Oh, this should be interesting."

Normal and some of the other messengers watch them as they enter, "Jumpin' George Dubya."

Max's eyes got wide, as she stood near Cindy and Sketchy. She was going to look for Joshua, not have him come there. She looked towards Alec and caught his eyes.

Alec saw her look and whispered so quietly, that only the transgenics could hear him, "Don't blow our cover."

Cindy shook her head in disbelief, "This cannot be good."

Mole started to move quickly, and asked his hostage, "Got a back door?"

"Yeah," Alec responded, as they started to move around the lockers and out towards the back of the building.

Normal retreated quickly into his office, "They've got my boy."

Max quickly followed, and looked out the window. She saw the police cars and grimaced, knowing they weren't going to get away that way. *This is soooo not good,* she thought.

Alec opened the back door, Mole following him. They were greeted by a police car outside. The officers took aim. He raised his hands, waving them off. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, go back!" he yelled back at the others.

The policeman shouted at them, "Freeze!" The transgenics quickly try to retreat back inside the building, and the cop yelled again, "I said freeze!" But as they continued to move, the officer started firing. One of the bullets hitting Alec in the shoulder, his body falling backwards into Mole, the reptilian man grabbing him, and pulling him into Jam Pony and closing the door.

Max gasped as the bullet hit him, and she started to run for the door. Cindy's hand holding her back, as the group returned inside, all of them stopping dead in their tracks as Normal held up his gun. Pointing it at Mole and Joshua, "Hold it right there, freak show!" He looked at Alec, "You're bleeding."

He looked down at his shoulder, his hand moving over it, his fingers covered in blood, "Yeah, bullets will do that to you."

Normal nodded, "Okay, you're safe now."

Alec sighed, "No . . ." he said as he blurred over towards Normal, and twisted his arm over the other man's head, pulling the gun away from him. Once the gun was removed from Normal's hand, Mole moved his shotgun towards him. ". . . I'm safe now." He raised out his arm and lowered it, looking at Mole. The transgenic nodded and lowered his gun. Normal stood there with a shocked look on his face, like most of the others in the room.

Just then, one of the other messengers tried to run for the door. Alec spun around, shouting, "No one leaves!"

In response, CeCe knocked the messenger to the ground, "Nobody move!"

Sketchy smiled at Original Cindy, "CeCe's one of them, too? Cool!" She just rolled her eyes at him, knowing this was NOT the time.

"CeCe, call base. Tell 'em we're in trouble." Alec yelled to her and she ran to the phone. He then turned to his friend, "Joshua, take the front. Mole, you got the back?"

Mole turned to the back window, "Got it."

Alec then turned to the boy, "Kid, what's your name?"

"Dalton."

He smiled back at the kid, "All right, Dalton, why don't you head upstairs and keep an eye on the street for me?" The boy ran by him and he patted him on the back as he went.

Normal shook his head, as he cradled his sore arm, "My golden boy's a mutant."

Alec looked over at him, "We prefer genetically empowered."

"Take me, Jesus," the man responded.

"Careful what you wish for," Mole reminded him from the window.

Max shook Cindy's hand off her shoulder, and walked over towards Alec, ignoring the looks people were giving her. She could see him try to wave her off, telling her to keep her cover, but she didn't care anymore. Exposure had come, and now they had to deal with it, all of them.

She saw the blood dripping down his shoulder, "We better look at that." She turned at the sound of a loud groan towards Gem. "Cindy!" She yelled, reaching out for the pregnant woman. Max and Cindy helped her over to the couch, Alec following them and sitting down on the arm. Gem sat down, then clutched her stomach in pain, a large contraction coming. Max looked to Cindy, "Just stay with her, if you can." Cindy nodded, and tried to get Gem to breathe.

Alec looked down at her, and put a comforting hand on her shoulder, as Cindy tried to get her to breathe slowly. Her face grimacing, she grabbed Alec's hand and screamed. His face winced, his eyes closing and mouth opening, as she squeezed his hand. Both letting out a small scream of pain. When her contraction was done, Alec gingerly removed his hand from hers, and looked up at a slightly humored Max. "What?" he asked her not understanding how she could laugh at his pain.

"You big baby," she said shaking her head.

"Baby? Excuse me? Have you ever had a pregnant X5 squeeze your hand while she has a huge ass amount of adrenaline running through her system?" He looked down at his hand, "I just hope it's not broken." She rolled her eyes at him, and he looked down at his hand, flexing his fingers, making sure they actually still worked. They both heard the groan from the woman next to him, and Alec quickly stood up, moving away. "Max, I want out of the maternity ward."

She laughed at him, and took another look at his shoulder. The blood was still coming out, a little too fast for her liking, she nodded, and looked around. "Sketch, can you get the med kit?" She saw him stand up and run into Normal's office, only to come back out a few moments later. "Thanks," she said as he handed it to her, and then looked back at the bench him and Normal had been sitting at, "Go sit back down." He nodded, and took a seat. Max turned back to Alec, and knew what needed to be done, and she knew it was not going to be particularly pleasant. She motioned for the lockers, away from everyone else and he followed her.

_________________________________

At Joshua's house, Logan was working on his computer with the news playing on the TV in the background. The reporter talking, "It's been less than a half hour since an unknown number of armed transgenics and transhumans barricaded themselves inside this building--the offices of the Jam Pony messenger service--but already angry crowds have gathered, shouting anti-transgenic slogans."

When Jam Pony was mentioned, Logan looked up at the TV, "Max . . ."
_________________________________

Alec followed Max in between a few of the lockers further in the back. He stopped and moved his leg over the bench, straddling it and sat down. She moved in front of him, sitting, their knees brushing together, but she didn't pay attention as she opened the first aid kit. "Take off your coat," she said as she looked inside the box. Alec moved his one arm out, and then slowly pulled the jacket down his injured arm. He sat it to the side as she turned to look at him, setting the box on the floor. Her hand came out, looking at the blood soaked sleeve of this shirt, and shook her head. "That's gotta come off too."

He smiled at her, "Yeah, you just want to see me naked."

She almost found herself hitting him in the shoulder like she always did at one of his comments, but her hand stopped inches away, a grimace on her face at realizing what she almost did. She saw the look on his face as well, as he had tensed waiting for it. She ignored it, "Yeah, I'm sure. That's just why I'm always telling you to GET dressed."

He laughed at her, and then winced as her fingers went to his arm. He sighed, and started to pull up his shirt, trying not to smile again as her hands helped him lift it off of him, and pull it off his injured shoulder. Her fingers inadvertently running over his skin. She took his shirt and sat it to the side, turning back to him, a worried look on her face at seeing the hole in his arm.

Her hands reached out for his arm, inspecting it closely. His head looked down at her, watching her, watching her gaze move over his arm, watching her fingers move over his skin. She turned then, and reached into the kit, taking out a large ball of cotton, and turned back to him. She tried to soak up some of the blood so that she could get a better look, then she spoke. "The bullet is still lodged in your arm."

"Oh, really," he answered sarcastically.

"It's going to have to come out," she said looking up at him.

He took a deep breath, "I know."

She reached into the first aid kit, and brought out the larger set of tweezers. She just hoped she could get it with them. Max took his arm with one hand, holding it behind where the bullet had entered. She looked into his eyes, and saw him tensing, getting ready for it. He caught her eyes and just nodded at her. She brought the tweezers up to the wound, and tried to gently enter it. She felt his muscles tense, and heard his intake of breath, but he didn't say anything. She felt the tips hit metal, and she gripped at it. Then with a quick pull, she pulled it out. "Fuck!" Alec yelled next to her.

She was about to comment, but stopped immediately, as she saw the blood start to run more freely out of his arm. Her other hand quickly put the cotton over it, soaking it up. She dropped the tweezers and the bullet into the top of the kit, and looked back up at him. "We have to cauterize this before . . ." she trailed off, not wanting to say the words. He shook his head, and took a deep breath as his good hand reached into his pocket. He took out his pocketknife and handed it to her. She sighed, and then yelled, "Sketchy! I need your lighter."

Sketchy was over to them, his lighter in his hands a moment later, "What for?"

Max looked at Alec, and then up to Sketchy, they both spoke, "You don't want to know." She then motioned for the guy to go sit back down.

She looked at him, as she flicked on the lighter, holding the knife up to it. He wasn't saying anything, he wasn't complaining, but she was wishing he would. If he was complaining about it, joking to her, then he was actually okay. But the fact that he wasn't, had her concerned, and she knew he was hurt a lot more than he let on. "Ready?"

"Always," he said. The words made her feel better, but the tone of voice wasn't his usual. She looked up into his hazel eyes again, them now a deep green color.

"I'm sorry," she said, and he actually smiled at her, "What?"

"First time I think I've actually heard those words directed at me from you, and you actually meaning them." He sighed, "But this time, there's no reason for you to be sorry."

She gave a small smile, he was right, but she shook the thought away. She dropped the lighter into the kit, and took his arm again. "Okay, on the count of three," she told him, and saw his body tense. "One…" But she didn't wait till three, she took the red glowing knife and quickly placed it against the bleeding bullet hole. She saw his jaw clench out of the corner of her eyes, and could feel the muscles in his arm tensing and contracting at the pain. She quickly moved the knife over the hole, trying to quickly burn the skin together, so it would stop bleeding.

Once it was finished she pulled the knife away, her mouth blowing cool air over the skin, trying to cool it back down. Her fingers gently moved around it, making sure everything was okay.

He looked down at her, watching her intent gaze on his arm, her touch so delicate, her lips slightly puckered as she blew cool air onto his skin. He grinned, "Are you going to kiss it and make it better too?" he asked, and she looked up at him. He smiled at her, "Cause, you know, I wouldn't mind."

She heard the smugness in his voice, and took a deep breath, realizing that he was now, indeed okay. Or at least he was pretending to be, and at that time, she needed that. Because they had a lot more important matters to deal with now.

Max picked up the first aid kit, and closed the lid, sitting it on the bench behind her. She turned back towards Alec, and saw him trying to put his shirt back on, and she shook her head. "Here," she said, pulling the fabric out of his hands. She scrunched the shirt up, and slowly slid it up his injured arm, then holding the neck open, slipped it over his head. He gave her a small smile, slipping his other arm into the other sleeve. Her hands came down, over his chest smoothing out the material, before she even knew what she was doing.

His hands reached for her wrists stopping her, and she looked up at him, her palms flat on his chest. She could feel his heartbeat below her fingertips, her dark eyes looking straight up into his. "Thank you," he said simply.

She nodded slowly, "No problem." But neither of their hands moved. For some reason she couldn't move, she couldn't take her eyes off his. And she saw his head start to slowly move down to her, and she stopped breathing, waiting.

He looked down into her eyes, felt her hands resting on his chest, and for some reason, some reason he couldn't understand, the moment . . .  seemed perfect. His eyes focused on hers, and he slowly leaned towards her.

Then they both jumped, pulling away from each other as Max's cell phone rang. She blinked quickly, her heart racing. She found her bearings and pulled the phone out of her jacket. "Here."

{{Max, I just heard on the news . . .}}

She cut him off and sighed, "Logan . . ." Max watched Alec straighten his shoulders and stand up. He pointed his thumb out towards the main area. She nodded at him, and he walked around the corner leaving her alone to talk.

{{Are you there? Are you okay? Do you need my help?}} The questions coming out too fast for her to answer him.

"Logan. Stop." She said, trying to get a word in edgewise. "Yes, I'm here. I'm okay. And no, I don't need your help. Stay where you are, if I need anything, I'll let you know."

{{Max, let me . . .}}

She cut him off, "Logan, I don't have time for this right now." She hung up the phone and stood up. She put the cell phone back in her jacket as she walked to the main area.

_________________________________

Logan looked at the phone in his hand, and shook his head. He then grabbed his gun out of the desk drawer and turned towards his exoskeleton standing in the corner. He walked over to it smiling.

_________________________________

Original Cindy looked up to see Max walking over, while she had her hand moving in circular motions over Gem's back. The girl breathing heavily in pain next to her.

"Hey. How's Gem?" Max asked as she got next to them.

"This girl is having a baby," OC looked at Max, "How do ya' think she's do'in?"

Gem looked up at her, her brow sweaty, "I can still move, if you need to displace."

Mole leaned against a nearby wall, "Turning into a damn pig farm out there." One of the messengers got up and walked by, Mole stopping him with the butt of his gun. "Who said you could get up?"

Sky looked up at the transgenic, his eyes wide and fearful, "Uh . . . bathroom." Sketchy stood up and pulled out his camera taking a picture. Mole quickly turned to him pointing the shotgun at him.

"Hey!" Max yelled, moving towards Mole, and pushing the gun down, then turned to Sketchy taking the camera away. "No more pictures." Then turning back to Mole, she motioned to Sky, "Go."

Sky looked unsure, "Uh . . ."

"Go!" she yelled more forcefully, and Sky ran towards the bathroom.

Mole turned towards her, "Who put you in charge?"

Max got angry, and pointed at everyone in the room, "These people are not the enemy."

"Don't be so sure," he responded.

Max looked around the room, everyone watching her. Normal shook his head from the bench behind her, "I always knew you were a wrong number. You never had me fooled for a second there, miss."

Sketchy laughed next to him, "Yeah, whatever. Transgenic Central, right here under your nose."

Normal turned to him, "Shut up."

Max looked at everyone again, and took a breath. "All right, people, listen up. I know things are really tense right now . . ."

"Gee, I wonder why," a girl said from behind her.

She tried not to listen to her, "But if you'll just sit tight and be patient, me and mine will get out of here before you know it."

Normal stood up, "Well, I got a hot flash for you, girlfriend. Me and mine are gonna get out of here right now. Let's go, people! Bip bip bip!"

Everyone stood up, and Alec brought out his hands, motioning for everyone to sit back down. "Hang on. Sit down."

Normal looked at Mole, "Go on, take your best shot, frog boy!"

Alec walked over towards them, "Nobody's shootin' at anybody."

Cindy stood up as well, "That's right. Now sit your raggedy ass down."

Normal shook his head at OC, "Oh, I see. Not only are you one of Sappho's daughters, you're one of them, too."

"No," she responded. "What I am is a friend to Max, and Alec, and CeCe, and the rest of 'em. We walk outta here now, and they're toast."

He just rolled his eyes at her, "Well, I don't have a problem with that."

She gave him an evil look, "Well I do," she said and then turned to look at the whole room. "And I'm guessing so does anyone else here who's down with my girl, or Alec, or CeCe." She turned back to him, "So how 'bout we just take a minute and figure this bitch out, so that nobody else gets hurt. Aiight?"

_________________________________

Somewhere else in town, in another building the Phalanx are working out and preparing weapons. A phone rings, and Serilda walked over and picked it up, "Yeah."

{{Good news,}} White's voice came through the phone, as well as the noise from the huge crowd that was behind him. Chanting against the transgenics inside of Jam Pony. {{We found our target.}}

"Excellent," she responded.

{{The bad news is she's sitting smack in the middle of Seattle P.D., sector cops, my agency people, and every news crew in the city.}}

She sighed, "This complicates things."

{{I think we can get her right under their noses. I need a little bit of time to heat things up. Be ready.}}

She smiled, "Always." She hung up the phone, and then picked up a gun. She fired a round into the paper target with Max's picture taped to it.

_________________________________

Just outside of Jam Pony, a huge crowd had gathered. Most holding up signs. They read; 'Our kids are not safe', 'Make our streets mutant free', and 'Kill the freaks'. Some of the police on duty were trying to keep the crowd under control.

Someone from the crowd shouted out, "Get the mutant freaks out of our city!" and tried to get over the blockage.

An officer yelled back, "Stay behind the barricades!"

A man in a suit with a bulletproof vest was walking around, and giving orders to some of the policemen. "Where the hell is my phone?" the dark man said looking around. "A secure line should have been in here ten minutes ago. And get that damn news team behind that barricade!" He said pointing to them, "Next camera I see in the street, the guy carrying it goes for a ride."

White and Otto walked up to him, both whipping out their badges. "Special Agent in Charge Ames White."

The man just grinned at him, "Nice badge. Picture looks just like you."

White scowled at him, "Appreciate you securing the area, Detective. We'll take it from here."

"I'm so pleased. Now I won't have to miss my little boy's recital this afternoon," he said sarcastically and turned to another officer. "Get this idiot out of here."

"You're out of your league, Detective." White told him, "Please ask your men to stand down."

"Not until all those hostages are out of there in one piece," he told White and turned again to another officer. "Where's my freakin' phone?"

"You're not dealing with a bunch of thugged-out punks who boost TVs for a living," White reminded him. "They're highly-trained, genetically-engineered killing machines."

The man sighed, "As far as I know, no one's dead yet, and I intend to keep it that way. So I need you and I need your lady friend . . ." he said motioning towards Otto, "to situate yourselves behind that barricade so I can do my job."

"You forcing me to go over your head?"

"Do what you gotta do, Special Agent in Charge White," the detective responded. "Just do it someplace else!" White shook his head, and walked away opening his cell phone. "Now where the hell is my phone, damn it?" the man asked again.

_________________________________

Everyone in Jam Pony was watching the news on the TV in the corner. The reporter on the screen was interviewing a few people on the street outside. She pointed the microphone at one of the men, "The economy's bad enough; you want 'em taking your job? You want 'em living next door, spittin' out their mutant, half-breed kids?"

A man standing next to him was the driver of the truck that they had hit earlier that day, "These mutant freaks are an affront to nature. They don't deserve to live."

Hearing that, one of messengers turned around to look behind her. She found Max leaning back in Joshua's arms, as he hugged her.

The man continued talking on the screen, "Where's the accountability? Who's taking care of this? Nobody! These freaks are running rampant. They get to do whatever they want. They got protection or somethin'? These things aren't natural. They shouldn't be alive. They don't deserve to live. They should be lined up with the scientists and shot like the bunch of rabid dogs they are. These freakoids smashed up my truck. That's taking bread out of my mouth. That's screwing up my job, my livelihood. Who's gonna feed my kid? Who's gonna pay my rent?" he rambled on and on.

Joshua shook his head, "Really FUBAR, little fella."

She nodded, "We just gotta hang tough. It's gonna be okay."

"I don't know," he said. "The way upstairs people look at me . . . I don't know if it'll ever be okay."

The first man started to scream into the microphone, "I say kill the freaks, or send 'em back to whatever cesspool they came from! Yeah!" The crowd started to cheer behind him.

The phone started to ring, and Max walked over picking it up. Normal leaned back against the wall, "If it's a package, get a number."

Max rolled her eyes, and then spoke into the phone, "Start talking."

{{ Detective Ramon Clemente of the Seattle P.D. Who is this?}}

"Let's just keep it simple and you call me 452," she replied.

{{Okay . . . 452.}}

Alec walked up to her, listening as she spoke, "I want a van parked outside with a full tank of gas."

{{Before you give me your Christmas list, why don't you let those people that you're holding in there come on out?}}

"Not until I get my transportation and a guaranteed safe passage out of here."

{{I understand you have a wounded man and a pregnant woman in there who I'm sure need medical attention.}}

She looked at Gem sitting on the couch clutching her stomach, then up at Alec who was leaning against the counter next to her. "Just the van. We'll take care of our own."

{{ If I agree to your terms, when do I get my hostages?}}

She looked at Alec, knowing he could hear the conversation she was having. He looked around and then back at her, his hands motioning at her. She nodded, "Half when the van arrives, half when we get to our destination."

{{Which would be where?}}

"It's not far. They'll be home for dinner," she said then hung up the phone.

Mole shook his head at her, "You're dreaming if you think they're gonna let us just drive off into the sunset. Get it through your head--the only way they want this to end is with us dead."

Alec glared at him, "That's not going to happen."

_________________________________

Time passed as they waited for the van to arrive, only a few of them still watching the TV, as it played in the background. This time the reporter was interviewing an older woman, "Oh, there's no point in discussing human rights, since they're not human, so they don't have rights. They don't even have souls. And it's worse than that, because animals don't have souls, but they were meant to be here. These things were never even intended by God to exist. They are an insult to everything in His creation."

Sketchy stood up and walked over to Max. "Hey, Max," he said and she turned towards him. "I was hoping you might possibly be interested in having me interview you about your life as a hot transgenic female on the run in post-Pulse America?"

Alec laughed and shook his head as he leaned on the wall next to her. She rolled her eyes, "No."

Mole walked up getting close to Sketchy. The man backed up from him and returned to his seat, "Sorry, dude. Whatever."

Original Cindy watched Mole walk back over to the widow, looking at the police officers outside. She shook her head towards Alec and Max. Max sat down on the other side of Gem, and Cindy rubbed the pregnant woman's back. "Please tell me that he is not the baby's daddy," she said getting a laugh out of the other two women.

Gem shook her head no, "He was another X-5. We were breeding partners." At her words, Max looked up quickly at Alec, and they stared at each other.

"That sounds real romantic," Cindy said sarcastically.

"It wasn't," Gem responded.

Max shook her head, and grinned. Her thumb motioning towards Gem, but talking to Alec, "Now aren't you glad I kicked your ass to the door?"

He slowly propelled himself away from the wall, shaking his head, "Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I know you wanted me," he said with a wink walking over towards Mole at the window to take a look. But really he just wanted to get away from the conversation.

She looked over at Cindy, and saw the large smile on her face. "What?" Max asked. Cindy just shook her head, and told Gem to breathe again.

The phone started to ring once again, and Max jumped up to answer it. "What do you got?"

{{A headache. And I got the vehicle. Now send out the hostages,}} Clemente responded.

She looked out the window, seeing a large bus pull up, and hung up the phone. Looking at Cindy and then Alec who was walking back over she nodded. "It's on."

_________________________________

White watched the bus pull up, and turned towards Otto, "Get our people in position." Otto turned to his radio and started giving orders. Snipers took position in the buildings nearby. Their guns pointing out of small holes made in the windows. At the same time the police took aim from the rooftops.

Logan was standing in the crowd, looking around. He took out his cell phone and started to dial, then cursed as he got a busy signal.

_________________________________

Alec stood by the front door, his hand on the chain, opening the door a little bit. Almost everyone was gathered nearby. Max was leaning down on the floor looking out, with her cell phone to her ear. "How's it look?" she asked.

{{There are shooters on the roof,}} Dix told her, {{And the door to the bus is pretty exposed.}} Getting his information from a hack in the security camera feeds.

Max nodded, "Yeah, looks pretty messy."

She looked up at Alec, and he sighed. He looked at everyone that was there, "We're going to have to use them as shields."

She agreed, even thought she didn't like it. Sighing, "Okay." She then looked outside, and yelled, " Clemente! I'm gonna need the snipers on the roof pulled back, or no deal!"

Clemente spoke into his radio, "Sniper team, pull back. Pull back." The police snipers on the roof pulled back from position, but White's teams remained.

{{All right, they pulled back from the roof. Just be careful,}} Dix warned her.

"Wish us luck," she said and hung up the phone. Then yelled outside, "First group's coming out!" Alec opened the door the rest of the way and Max turned to a group of the messengers. "Okay, guys, come on. Keep your arms in the air and go slow, all right? Be careful."

The group walked outside with their hands up in the air. Clemente speaking to them as they walked, "This way. Come this way. Keep your hands in the air. Come towards the barricades." The messengers walked towards him quickly, and he turned back to the door, "Okay, 452, the keys are in the vehicle. Your ball."

She waved everyone else to the door, "Okay, guys. They're not going to shoot at us. We got a kid and a pregnant girl. They don't know which ones are transgenic and which aren't."

"Yeah, well, a couple of us they got a pretty good idea," Mole said grabbing Sketchy to use as a shield.

"Come on," she said to the rest.

Alec chained up the door, and started to move to protect Joshua, Cindy grabbing his arm. "They saw you, Boo. They know one of you was shot," she said looking at his arm. "I got you."

He smiled down at her, as she put his good arm around her neck, "Thanks," he said very touched at her concern.

"They don't know about me," CeCe reminded them as Max moved in front of Joshua.

Cindy smiled, "Then help Max protect doggie dogg." CeCe moved over to Max, to help shield Joshua. Cindy looked over at Normal, and pulled his arm over to her, "Get your ass over her Normal, and help protect your Golden Boy."

"All right, let's file in, guys. Come on," Max told everyone.

"This is my cover story, man," Sketchy said being shoved out the door by Mole.

"Let's do this," Max said to everyone, with a deep breath.

White was outside speaking into his radio to his snipers, "Wait for my command."

The group slowly started to walk outside, led by Mole and Sketchy. They rest moving behind them. They start to walk around the front of the bus and head for its door.

Logan turned in the crowd and saw White and Otto there. He quickly followed their gazes to a nearby building and saw the guns sticking out of the windows.

White smiled, speaking into the radio, "Take the shot."

Not thinking Logan pulled out his gun and starts shouting, "MAX!" He ran and jumped using his exoskeleton onto a nearby police car, causing intense panic of everyone around.

The transgenics all turned to the commotion, as Logan shot his gun up at one of the snipers in the window.

Max could barely comprehend what was going on, and yelled, "Go!" for everyone to get back in the building. But from the chaos a stray bullet ran right for them, and CeCe fell back into Joshua. "Get back!" she yelled again as Joshua grabbed CeCe pulling her back into the building behind him. Alec and Mole firing up at the now visible snipers, giving them fire coverage as everyone moved back into the building.

Clemente yelled into his radio, "Cease fire!" more shooting continued, "Cease fire!"

Once everyone was inside, Alec lowered the door back down, as he looked out the door. He watched the police rush Logan and put handcuffs around him, as the firing ended. He then quickly ran over to Max and CeCe once he had the door secure, motioning to Mole to guard it. "Anyone else hit?" he yelled as he ran over to them.

"No," the others responded.

Max was holding CeCe's body in her arms, "She's not breathing," she said her hands covering the bullet hole.

Alec nodded, getting down on his knees, feeling her neck for a pulse. "Max, do chest compressions," he told her, as he tilted the blonde's head back, his fingers going to her nose, as he leaned into, giving her mouth to mouth, trying to put air back into her lungs. Max moved her hands over the girl's chest, pumping at it, but each time she did, more blood started to come out of the wound. He noticed it out of the corner of his eye, and sat up, checking for a pulse again. His hand went over Max's stopping her, the blood seeping onto both of their hands, and shook his head.

He knew the bullet had pieced CeCe right through the heart, there was nothing they could have done. He looked into her eyes, and he saw them wet with tears, her lips quivering. He locked his fingers with hers, and spoke softly, "Well . . . Biggs and her are together now." Max looked up at him and nodded, a single tear running down her cheek.

Mole turned to the other people in the room, "All right, get down. I want everybody on the floor, now. Get down. Stay there. Stay down."

Original Cindy stood above them, in shock, "They killed her."

Alec looked up at her, "Cindy, go take care of Gem, okay?" She nodded and went to sit with her, rubbing the woman's back again, as she moaned in pain.

"Why did they do this?" Joshua asked, "We did everything they wanted."

Mole pointed at Max, "This is on you. I told you not to trust the cops."

"The shooting wasn't from the roof," Alec told them, just as Max's phone rang.

She sighed, and reluctantly pulled her hand from Alec's. She wiped her hand on her pants and turned on the phone, "Yeah?"

{{Max? How is everyone?}} Dix's voice came through the phone with concern.

She shook her head, "CeCe is dead." She said hearing the slight gasp on the other end of the phone.

{{We saw everything. Max . . . it wasn't the police. We found White in the crowd with the cameras.}}

Her head lowered, "Great, just great!" She yelled.

"What?" Alec asked her.

She looked over at him, "White's outside."

"White is out there?" Joshua asked a small growl from his lips, remembering Annie.

She shook her head, "They screwed this whole thing up on purpose to escalate the situation."

"Yeah, well, it worked," Alec told her.

"What difference does it make who fired?" Mole said, "They all want to see us dead!"

"Just calm down," Alec said looking up at Mole with a glare.

"I'm not gonna wait around for them to try again," Mole said grabbing Sketchy.

"Whoa!" Sketchy yelled as Mole pulled at him.

Max sprung to her feet, Alec right behind her, "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Until we get safe passage, we kill one hostage every hour, starting now," the reptilian man replied.

Alec shook his head at him, his voice lowered, his eyes narrowing, "Let him go, now."

"No!" Mole yelled, glaring back at him, "We gotta show them we mean business, or we're dead!"

Alec shook his head, "Oh yeah, great idea Mole. We start shooting people. That's exactly what White wants. Prove to the world that we are the monsters everyone thinks we are."

Mole held his gaze with the X5, and Alec's eyes never wavered, "Okay," he said as he released Sketchy. "Okay. But if they come near the building, I start taking them out. Come on, Joshua," Mole said as he started to walk up the stairs, Joshua following him.

"Joshua . . ." Max yelled for him to come back.

Alec put his hand on her shoulder lightly, "Let him go."

Sketchy turned to the two of them, and with a sigh of relief said, "Thanks, guys. That was close."

_________________________________

Clemente was spitting mad, and he yelled at White and Otto who was approaching him, "You fed son of a bitch! You get off my scene right now, or I swear I will kick you to the curb myself."

White smiled, "Seems your snipers got a little carried away."

The detective shook his head, "Those were your men back there, and we both know it."

"Is that what we know?" White's grin getting bigger. "See, I don't know that at all, but what I do know is that this was just faxed in from the governor's office." He handed Clemente a piece of paper.

"So you got friends in high places. I'm supposed to be impressed?"

"I draw your attention to the part where I'm given overriding jurisdiction." White pointed at the other man, "You screwed up, Lieutenant."

"Yeah, when I voted for this nimrod," he said crumpling the paper in his hand in disgust.

"Now my tactical team is going to go in and we're going to get this thing done," he said and then pointed at the detective, "and you are going to stay out of my way. But thanks for coming out." White smiled again, turning on his heel, and him and Otto walked away.

"Damn it," Clemente swore.

_________________________________

Max had CeCe's body by the arms, as Alec had his one arm wrapped around her legs. They carried her into the office, and placed her up on Normal's desk. She leaned her arms on the desk, looking down at the woman lying there.

"Max . . ." he started.

"No, don't say it. Don't say it wasn't my fault," she turned to look over at him. "Because it is all my fault. I let all the transgenics out into the world. But there's no place for us out here. There's no place anywhere." He shook his head at her, but she went on, looking down at her bloodstained hands. Hands stained with his blood, with CeCe's blood, with . . .  She shook her head, "I have so much blood on my hands Alec . . ." She closed her eyes. "CeCe, Biggs, Tinga, Ben . . ."  She said looking at him, another tear going down her face, "Who's next?"

He walked over to her, his arms wrapping around her, and she leaned into him, allowing him to just hold her, "Max . . ." he started again.

"No," she said cutting him off, "I can't do this, I can't take this anymore. It's all my fault. I should never have let everyone out, I should never have burned down Manticore."

He shook his head, his hand coming to the side of her face, forcing her to look up at him. "And then where would we be? Where would I be? You gave me, you gave all of us freedom. Freedom from Manticore, from the brainwashing. You let us be our own person, you let us . . . live." He looked over at CeCe's body, and then back to her dark eyes. "And I'm sure CeCe, and Biggs, and everyone else would thank you for the little taste of freedom that they got to experience."

She gave a small smile up to him, as his thumb whipped the tear away from her cheek. "Now, let's go out there, and finish what you started."

Max nodded, pulling away, feeling a little better, and then her mind registered something, "Oh God, Logan. What happened to him?" She couldn't quite believe it took her that long to realize it.

"The police got him," he told her. "He's in their custody, and he's human. Don't worry about him right now."

She nodded, he was right, she had a lot more important things to worry about.

 _________________________________

Gem was leaning back against the arm of the couch, with Cindy setting at her feet. She is already in heavy labor, and breathing very hard, groaning in pain. "That's it, girl. Push. Push," Cindy instructed. "Yes. Push! Push."

Normal shook his head as he sat on the steps, and then stood up walking over to them. "No. Wrong," he said shaking his head again. "Don't you know anything about birthing babies? Pushing is exactly what she should not be doing right now." He looked at Gem, and his tone softened, "Listen, I want you to breathe and relax, okay? All right, now breathe . . . and relax. Breathe and relax. All right, that's it. That's it." He lifts up her skirt, looking under it. "Okay. Okay, you're fully dilated. You're in a late second stage," he said looking back up at her. "It's not going to be long now. I want you to breathe from your diaphragm, okay?"

Original Cindy looked at him in shock, "And you know this how?"

Normal gave a small smile, "Dad was a dairy farmer. I know my way around the inside of a heifer better than you do." Gem gave him a push to the arm at the comment, "Okay. All right."

Max walked over to the small group, and Gem looked at her, "I need a weapon."

She shook her head at the pregnant woman, "You're out of this fight, soldier."

"Me and my baby are getting out of here alive."

Max smiled and nodded, "You get that baby into this world. We got your back. Okay?" The woman nodded at her.

Normal, patted her knee, "Just breathe, honey."

_________________________________

A dark van pulled up outside, the Phalanx getting out. All of which were dressed in black combat gear.

As they walked towards White he talked into his radio, "Clemente, this is White. I'm inserting my team now. Remember, zero interference."

{{It's your world,}} sighed the detective.

Otto looked at the group, and turned to White, "What is this? Who are these people?"

"They're on loan from another agency."

"What agency? I don't understand what's going on here, sir," he asked White.

"Let's keep it that way. You're not cleared for this op. Now move the men back and secure the perimeter." Otto hesitated at his order, and he continued, "Walk away. Do it now." Otto walked away shaking his head, as White turned to the female leader of the group. "Look at them," he said pointing to the crowd of people. "When we carry her out in a body bag, they'll be clapping and cheering. They'll never know that she was their only hope."

_________________________________

Max looked around the room, as she leaned against the counter, her mind thinking about the day's events. Thinking about everything that happened, and how she was going to get everyone out of there in one piece. She thought about White, and shook her head, speaking softly to herself. "It's me White wants."

Alec heard her next to him, "Yeah, but he wants all of us dead too, not just you."

"I should just go out there, maybe make a run for it," She said turning to him, "I run, they chase me, you guys get away."

He just shook his head at her, "No way in hell."

"He wants this thing to end as badly as possible, and I'm not gonna let that happen."

"Yeah, but not that way."

"What other choice do I have?" she asked him. He wanted to answer her, but at the moment he didn't have a good answer, but he was saved from responding by the ringing of her phone. She quickly answered it, "Yeah?"

{{Some more vans have pulled up outside,}} Dix told her. {{I'm not sure, but they may be getting ready to move in.}}

"Great, just great," she replied. "Any other bad news?"

He paused on the other end of the phone, {{Well . . .}}

"Spit it out Dix."

{{ I was able to translate some of those runes from the pictures Alec gave me.}}

She sighed, "Well, what do those damn symbols say?" Alec moved closer, listening to the rest of the conversation, as his hands motioned for Josh and Mole to look out the windows. To keep watch for the police, see if they were preparing to come in.

{{Well, there are multiple meanings.}} Dix started, and after a pause continued. {{Basically it says, 'When the shroud of death covers the face of the earth, the one whose power is hidden will deliver the helpless.'}}

"What's that supposed to mean?" she asked as she looked up at Alec, and he shrugged his shoulders.

{{I think it means something really bad is going to happen. Like the black plague or something.}}

Alec almost wanted to laugh, it was almost funny, almost. "And you're the one who's gonna stop it," he said.

Max looked at him, and pushed herself away from the counter. As she did so, she got slightly dizzy, the room spinning around her, her vision blurring.

He saw her wobble on her feet, saw her eyes roll back. He moved quickly, his good arm wrapping around her back as she fell, his other hand catching the falling cell phone. His body moving with hers down to the ground, her upper body laying over his lap. Cindy rushed over, and he waved her away, "Go back to Gem." He looked towards Dalton, "Find some fabric somewhere. Wet it with cold water." The boy nodded and ran off.

Alec's hand came down to Max's face, pushing her hair back. His hand gently patting her cheek, "Max, wake up."

_________________________________

Max walked through the thick fog, her eyes trying to adjust, the sight before her shocking her. Death and destruction surrounded her. Buildings crumbling, falling down. The sky a dark, hazy orange. Smoke from fires, fires burning in buildings, burning the dead. Their bodies lying all over the street.

She shuddered at the gruesome sight as she walked by them. Men, women, children . . . all dead, or dying where they dropped. Where they could no longer move.

Dix had been right, it was like a Plague, and it was taking over the whole world. Everyone was dying around her. She continued walking, her heart aching, tears starting to fall. She had no idea what to do. She stopped, not wanting to go any further. She looked down, to a small girl. Lying there, lifeless, her eyes open staring at her. A small teddy bear lying on the ground next to her.

She bent down, picking up the bear, and moved it into the girl's arms, her hand then coming up, brushing some of the girl's hair away from her forehead. The little girl's eyes blinked, and Max stood up quickly, backing away in shock. The girl's pale skin, regaining its pink color.

Max shook her head in shock, in disbelief, as she backed away slowly. Voices starting to form in her head, whispering . . .

_________________________________

Alec moved the cold, wet cloth over her forehead, "Come on Max, wake up." His voice had a worried tone to it, "Max . . ."

Her eyes slowly opened, "Wha . . ." She looked up at him.

"Hey, welcome back to the world of the living." He tried to joke with her, but his words brought back the dream that she had. An overwhelming sense of dread washed over her. He picked up her phone next to him, and started talking into it. "She's okay," he told Dix.

Max continued to look up at him, slightly confused as to what was happened. Her brain slowly coming back to her and then she realized where she was, and what had happened. She started to sit up, and his hand went to her shoulder with a questioning look in his eyes. "I'm okay," she informed him, and he let her sit up on the floor next to him. She shook her head again to clear it, and then moved up onto her feet.

She looked down, and could tell that he was still watching her, she shook her head at him, held out her hand. He sighed, moved the phone to the other hand, and reached up with his good arm. She pulled him to his feet, and  he handed he handed her back the phone. "Dix . . .  Sorry about that."

{{Not a problem Max, are you okay?}}

She could hear the concern, and smiled as she looked up into another pair of worried hazel eyes. "I'm fine. Just a really, strange dream."

{{Dream?}} he questioned.

"Yeah, it was strange. . . .  I was walking around the . . ."

Dix cut her off quickly, {{Max . . . they're moving! They're moving towards you!}}

"Shit!" she yelled, looking around the room, "They're coming. They're coming." She motioned to Joshua, "Carry Gem. Come on, let's go!"

Alec heard Dix on the phone, "Okay, everyone upstairs! NOW!" Everyone left in building started to run up the stairs. Joshua picked up Gem, and carried her up the steps. Alec looked over at Mole as he pulled out his gun, the other man nodded at him. Max looked at the two, and he motioned for her to go up the stairs, she nodded and followed Joshua.
_________________________________

White and the Phalanx started to walk towards Jam Pony, "Remember, our primary target is 452."

Serilda nodded, "What about the hostages?"

"Let's show the viewers at home what the mutant menace does to innocent people." He smiled, "Take out the hostages, the freaks, the kid . . take out anything with a pulse." She grinned, and then turned around walking with the others towards the building. They then started to climb the outer wall.
_________________________________

Everyone rushed up the stairs to the upper level of Jam Pony. The room was divided into many areas by glass partitions, the floor at some point in time was used for offices, sometime before the pulse. Max directed everyone to the back, behind one of the walls, "Come on, guys, file in. Stay low. All the way to the back." She turned to the man walking next to her, "Hey, Sketchy--keep 'em quiet, and keep 'em down." He nodded at her and she moved to the next small room. Looking to OC, Dalton and Normal, "Take cover behind the desk. Behind the desk," she said again and waved Joshua over. "Come on! Hurry up!" Joshua put her on the ground behind the desk, "Keep her behind the desk," she told them again.

_________________________________

Alec was looking around, waiting, listening, and then he heard it, "Mole!"

The other man heard it too, "Go! Go! Go!"

Just then the front door explodes in flames and the two run up the stairs, White and one of the Phalanx entering behind the cloud of smoke, their guns drawn. The transgenics run through the upstairs door, and Alec leans into it, closing it and locking it behind him.

"Take cover," Max yells to them, as she hides behind a large beam, Joshua just to the left behind another one, Mole moves next to him. Alec runs over and crouches in the doorway of an office. She shakes her head at him, "No, go help Sketchy keep the others calm."

"Are you crazy?" He looked at her in shock.

"You're injured, you aren't going to fare well against a group of familiars."

He shook his head, "Too bad. I'm not leaving you guys alone." He took out his gun, noticing it was empty, and then looked over at Mole. The other man indicated the same thing.

Max sighed and then nodded, "Wait for my signal. We hit hard, we hit fast, and we don't back off. This is for all the marbles, people." The three nodded at her, and in the background they could hear the sound of a window breaking. Then four members of the Phalanx dangled down from the ceiling, swinging over, and landing on their feet. They then hoisted up their guns, and started to walk across the floor.

Gem was trying hard not to scream, but couldn't help the small grunts and moans coming from her mouth. Normal held a finger up to his mouth, trying to get her to be quiet. Cindy shook her head, and put a rag into Gem's mouth for her to bite on and muffle the noise.

Max made hand signals to the other three, and they nodded in understanding. Alec giving her a thumbs up. They then climbed towards the ceiling rafters.

One of the members of the Phalanx moved towards the door Alec had shut and locked, opening it. White and another one rushing inside.

Gem's grunts were growing louder, her breathing faster as the baby was coming. Normal whispered to her, "Shhh. Wait. Wait."

One of the Phalanx heard Gem's small moan and started to move slowly towards the desk behind the glass partition.

Max, Alec and Mole drop down from their hiding place in the ceiling, each hitting a member of the Phalanx. Another one is taken off guard by Joshua who is growling at him, picking him up by the back of his uniform and throwing him across the room. The three transgenics fight, trying to take the guns away from their attackers. The guns going off, firing randomly.

Mole hits his with his own gun, both clashing together and thrown across the room, skidding across the floor, allowing the reptilian man to swing a few punches.

Alec tried holding onto his female attacker's gun, bringing it up to hit her in the face, causing her to fall back. The effect pulling him with her, both rolling around on the ground, fighting over the gun. Both hitting each other with it at the tug of war they were having. His foot coming up between them, kicking her in the stomach. She flew back, and again pulled him with her, through one of the glass windows. Both landing on a desk, and rolling off to the side.

Max struggled with the gun of her attacker as well, her leg coming up, kicking her in the head. Serilda laughed at her, as it didn't even faze her. Max pushed the gun up, hitting the other woman in the nose, as her foot came up kicking her in the stomach. The force throwing the two women apart. Max losing the grip on the gun, as they both fall backwards to the ground.

Mole punches his attacker, and rams the man's head into one of the beams. Then picking up his attacker's gun, he hits him over the head, again, knocking him unconscious a large gash bleeding on the man's head. As the transgenic turns around he sees White, and fires. White ducks, and Mole continues to shoot, but he's grabbed from behind by another member of the Phalanx.

Joshua picks up his attacker again, and throws him through a bookcase. Growling, he moves over and picks him up again, and throws him across the room. The man landing on a desk, breaking it in half.

Alec kept struggling with the gun of his attacker. She hit him in the face again with it, and he grunted. She smiled down at him, and he brought his knee up hard between her legs, having her fly over his head into the wall. The gun dislodging and sliding across the floor. He quickly got to his feet, and saw Max start to move to hers, his eye catching the gun of the other woman aiming at her. His body blurred knocking Max and himself off his feet, as the woman fired. His body jerked as the bullet pierced his back, both falling to the floor.

Max's eyes widen as she felt Alec's body land on hers, her body jarring as it landed on the floor. Her eyes looking up at his, her mind knowing he had been shot, that he had just saved her life. "Alec . . ." she questioned, wanting to know if he was okay.

He looked down at her for a second, his mind knowing they couldn't stay there, his arms wrapping around her, and he started to roll, as the bullets started to come toward them. Their bodies rolling out of the way, and behind one of the walls. "Are you . . ." she started to ask.

He shook his head, rolling and pulling himself up quickly, "Not time," was all he said, just as his first attacker had found him again. His right fist coming in contact with her nose, her hand pulling his jacket back, both falling to the floor.

Max turned just in time to see Serilda turn the corner, her leg coming up from where she was sitting on the ground knocking the other woman off her feet. Her gun finally dislodged from her, Max jumping onto her, her fist going to the woman's face. Her hands going to the other's neck, trying to choke her. Max quickly found herself kicked off, and the woman on her feet.

Max made a roundhouse kick to the woman's head, her helmet flying off, the two women glare at each other. Serilda smiled, "452."

Max just glared at the other woman, as they circled each other. "Just bring it," she said, and the two lunged for each other.

Mole elbowed the man behind him in the stomach, stomped on his foot, and leaned over, pulling the man over his shoulder and onto the floor. His gun coming down, and hitting the man in the ribs, again and again. Then across the side of the head, turning his gun up towards White. Firing a few times, then nothing as the gun was empty. White grinned, and lunged for Mole.

Max kicks and lands several punches to her attacker. But Serilda moves her leg out, and trips her to the floor, picking her up from behind and throwing her through a glass partition. The female then jumping up onto the desk, just as Max stands back up, her attacker brought up her leg, kicked her in the side of the head, causing her to fly to the side.

Normal brought up the flashlight under Gem's skirt, "Okay, it's time to push now. Come on. Push push push push push, with all your might, all your might, all your might . . ." He said as Gem started to grunt as she pushed.

Serilda smiled, and jumped onto Max, a blow connecting to her face. Max could taste the blood on her lip. "Bitch," she yelled and moved her foot between them, kicking up, sending her flying back into the desk. Max stood up, grabbing one of the broken desk legs, and brought it down over the other woman's head. It broke into two halves.

White knocks Mole to the ground with a roundhouse kick, causing him to lose his grip on the gun. Mole brought up his leg, taking White's legs out from underneath him.

Normal looked back to Gem's eyes, "All right, it's coming. It's coming."

Alec and his attacker rolled around on the floor again, leaving a trail of blood as they went. His right arm punching at her, his left hanging to the side. She grabbed at his arm, and he groaned in pain as he kicked up at her again, sending her back to her feet. He rolled to the side, but her hand grabbed the back of his coat, pulling him to his feet and back through the glass window. His right elbow hitting her stomach, then coming up to wrap around the back of her neck, throwing her over his shoulder and to the floor.

Gem continued to push hard, Cindy supporting her. "Okay, the baby's coming out," Normal said looking under her skirt again. "I can see the head. Now you really gotta bear down, now. Really bear down. Time to push now."

Alec's female attacker brought her leg out and knocked him back to the ground, as he landed on his left side, his body jarring in pain. She picked up one of the mannequin legs, and started to swing for him. His eyes could barely register her coming towards him, and then her eyes widened in shock. Joshua growled, picking her up from behind and throwing her across the room, through a window. He started to turn to Alec, but saw Mole being thrown into the wall and stormed over to him.

"Bear down hard, now, honey." Normal told her, as she grunted. "Bear down hard." He said as the female Phalanx crashed through the window landing to the side of them. She moves to get up, and Gem leans over and punches her out hard and continues to push. "That's it. Good," he continued, as Cindy and Dalton go and sit on the female, tying her up.

White picked up a large metal milk can and hits Mole with it. Joshua grabs him from behind and shoves him up against the wall, his eyes widening at recognizing him from TV. "Annie . . ." he growled out, and bashes White against the wall repeatedly, and then drags him away, slamming him through some more shelves. White falls to the floor, and Joshua picks up a desk, and breaks it over White's back.

Max looks at the broken desk leg, the wood splintered. Her eyes widen as she looks back up at Serilda's evil grin. The other woman lunging for her. Max brings up the desk leg, as the woman charges. Max lunging forward, the two women falling backwards onto the ground, Serilda's eyes wide in shock, her body shaking as she impaled herself onto the wooden leg. Max pushed her off her, the woman rolling to the side, her eyes wide open, unmoving.

Normal looked back up at Gem, "Go! Push push push push!"

Joshua, snarling, bends over and picks up White again, smashing him back into the wall. Then threw him once again, this time, White flying through the window of the building, and landing on the sidewalk below, unconscious. Policemen rushing over to him.

"One more big push," Normal told Gem, who was pushing and moaning in pain, "You gotta really crank down. Really crank down, okay?"

Mole stood up, yelling, "Clear!" as he walked towards Joshua, who echoed the same response.

Max nodded, "Clear!" she yelled back getting to her feet. But she didn't hear Alec, she saw the blood on the floor, and followed it. She found him lying on the floor where Joshua had left him, "Alec!" She screamed running towards him. She rolled him towards her, as she sunk to the floor, her arms going around him. His eyes barely focused on hers, and she could feel the blood oozing out onto her fingers, her hand going over the wound in his back.

Her eyes widened as she realized how bad he had been shot saving her. "Max?" his voice came out quiet, and raspy, slightly garbled.

"Joshua!" She screamed, and he came running over, seeing Alec, he took off his vest, and Max grabbed it from him, putting it over Alec's back. She looked back down at him, "Stay with me, we're getting you out of here," she said her voice slightly choking on the words.

He looked up into her dark eyes, as he felt his strength ebbing from his body. He felt so cold, and he sought the warmth in her eyes. Alec almost wanted to laugh, that right then, finally at that moment, he actually saw that warmth in her eyes, directed at him. His hand slowly came up to the side of her face, and he saw the tear run down her cheek. Just then, they both heard the scream of a baby in the background, and a small smile played across his lips. *How fitting?* he asked himself, and spoke lightly. "One life comes into the world…"

Max shook her head, "Don't even . . ." she started to say, but his eyes slipped closed and his hand fell from her face. "Alec!" she screamed again, her other hand quickly moving to his neck, checking for a pulse. There was one, faint but there. She dropped her head, and took a deep breath, a thought coming to her. "Mole, Joshua, Sketchy!" She yelled, and they all ran up to her. She looked up at them, Alec still in her arms, pressing the fabric to the bullet hole. "Strip them, we need their uniforms NOW!" She yelled and they quickly moved.

Normal covered up the baby, and handed it to Gem, "There you go. Oh, what a dear little sweet soul."

"Cindy!" Max yelled again, knowing that now that the baby was born, she was free to help. OC came running, and gasped looking at Alec, her eyes asking the question. "Not yet," Max replied. "Help me get his shirt off." Cindy nodded moving down to the floor, both pulling his shirt over his head.

Sketchy ran over with some uniforms, "Here they are."

Max looked up, "Put one on. And give us three of them. Then make Normal put one on." Sketchy nodded, sat down some uniforms and ran back to Normal.

She picked up one of the tops, and gave it to Cindy as she held onto Joshua's vest that was pressed against Alec's back. "Try and put this on him. Cindy nodded, pulling the black combat top over Alec's head. Slowly they got him dressed in the uniform, and then they quickly put the other two on.

Gem looked at the back of the baby's neck and smiled in relief, "No barcode. She doesn't have one. She's free."

Mole shook his head, "Not yet, she ain't." He said as Sketchy and Normal were putting on the black combat gear.

Max yelled for everyone and they gathered around her. Normal gasped looking down at Alec. She looked to Sketchy, "You lead us all out of here. Mole, Joshua, Gem, Dalton, you got between him and Cindy." She looked to Normal, "Grab his legs," she said indicating Alec, "I've got his body." She said, knowing that she could support more of his weight herself, while keeping her hand over the wound. "Let's go people." She said, not wanting to waste any more time, time that he didn't have.

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Sketchy poked his head out from the front door of Jam Pony, and shouted to the police outside. "Weapons down! Hold your fire! Team coming out!" He then opened the door fully, walking out backwards, his gun aimed at Joshua and Mole. "Let's go. Federal agents! Step back!"

Gem holding her baby slowly moves with Dalton by her side, and Cindy with her gun behind them. They are followed by Normal and Max carrying out Alec. Normal yells as he walks, "Injured agent coming through!" The two of them quickly moving toward the ambulance, and carrying him inside, laying him down on the stretcher. Cindy ushering Gem and Dalton in with them, and then shutting the door.

"I need you back. Move! Move! We may have a biohazard here, people." Sketchy yelled as he directed Mole and Joshua into the van. He then turned to Clemente, "Agent White wants your people in there to secure the crime scene ASAP. Let's go! Let's go!" he said as he shut the door, moving to the front of the van, Cindy moving into the passenger side. Sketchy looked at the man sitting in the driver's seat as he opened the door. "All right, we'll take over from here--unless you want to be stuck in a six-hour decontamination hose-down." The driver gets out quickly, and him and OC get inside shutting the door quickly.

Normal gets into the driver seat of the ambulance, and opens the window. "Clear the barricades. Clear the barricades," he yells as he starts the engine, "Clear 'em! Let's go!" He said turning on the red and blue lights, and sounding the siren.

"Nice and easy," Max reminded him, then turned towards Dalton, "Did you have field med yet?" The boy nodded yes. "Good, look for some needles and tubing, you know the ones." The boy nodded again, and started to quickly look in the drawers inside the ambulance.

"All right, where are we going?" Sketchy asked.

"Just drive, fool!" Cindy replied, and then looked around as they moved away from the crowd, "We're clear."

Mole smiled, "Yeah, baby. That's what I'm talkin' about."

"All right! We rock!" Sketchy said, as he and OC removed their helmets.

Max directed her voice up to Normal, "All right. Head for Terminal City. And step on it!" She felt the engine accelerate, and looked down at Alec, her eyes closing, as she took a deep breath, worry getting the better of her.

Dalton came up to her with the supplies, and she nodded, pointing to Alec's right arm. He nodded, and started the IV, as Max shook off her jacket, and rolled up her sleeve. The boy looked back at her, and she motioned for her arm. He nodded again, and started the needle in her arm. She watched as he took the one clamp off near her arm, and her blood started to move down the tube towards the other clamp. Dalton then removed that one, and the dark liquid flowed into Alec's arm.

She looked back up at the boy, "Take my phone out of my coat pocket." Dalton took out the phone, "Speed-dial two." She said, and he pushed the buttons, and then pressed it to her ear. "Dix . . . it's Max. Alec's been shot . . ." She couldn't get the rest out.

{{Alec?}} came Dix's worried voice. {{We figured someone was hurt, but wasn't sure who from the monitors.}}

"Get the medics ready, fast."

{{Consider it done.}} She looked at Dalton, and he took the phone back, hanging it up.

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Clemente and the police entered Jam Pony, their guns drawn. They saw the remaining messengers sitting on the benches waiting. "Anyone hurt?" he asked.

"No, we're okay. But you better go look upstairs," one of them responded.

They quickly made their way upstairs, finding the destruction. The one dead, and the other unconscious Phalanx lying on the floor, stripped of their uniforms. He shook his head knowing that they had gotten away.

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Max watched the blood flowing through the tube, and she hoped, she prayed that it was going to be enough until they could get to Terminal City. She looked over her shoulder, out the front window, they were approaching the fence that Alec and her had just jumped over on their bikes the night before. "Don't stop. Keep moving. Break through," she told him, and Normal busted through the gate.

Sketchy watched the ambulance bust through the gate, "Uh-oh, what should I do?"

"Just follow Max. She's gotta know what she's doing," Cindy told him, he nodded okay.

"You're gonna make a right, a left, then straight up the ramp," Max directed Normal. Soon they entered the parking garage. "Straight through the building." They drove through the garage, the van right behind them, and then stopped. A crowd of transgenics running up around them.

Luke pulled the doors open, and another X5 ran up inside to the head of the stretcher, another one at the foot, pulling it out of the ambulance. Max right alongside, their arms still connected with the IV. Once to the ground, they all ran inside pulling the stretcher with them. The others from the van not far behind.

One of the X's was yelling out orders of what he needed, and Max recognized him as one of the trained medics that had been around. Luke pulled her over to the side, and took her hand away from Alec's back, as they rolled him onto his side. The room was a whirl of activity, but she could barely take any of it in.

Cindy gripped her shoulder, trying to comfort her, as the transgenics tried to quickly repair Alec, and stop the bleeding. But Max couldn't stop looking at his face, her mind replaying him getting shot over and over in her mind. First, earlier in the day, and then again . . .*When he saved my ass.* She closed her eyes, and lowered her head, *Not again. Not someone else. I can't . . . I can't lose . . .* she let her mind trail off.

"Bullet's out," someone said as they continued to work.

Her eyes opened again, her hand grabbed his right one, "Alec . . . just hold on. Please."

She grabbed Luke's wrist as he reached for the IV, "Max . . .  You've given enough." He motioned to Joshua, and he rolled up his sleeve. She watched him start a new needle in Joshua's arm, hooking a tube up to Alec, and then removing the needle from hers. She barely noticed Cindy putting a cotton ball and band-aid on her arm, as her other hand moved the hair from his forehead before she could even comprehend what she was doing.

"Closing," the medic said as he started to stitch him up. Max looked up at the man, and he gave her a small smile, "He'll be fine." She closed her eyes and let out the breath she had been holding in relief. Soon they moved him back onto his back, and then wheeled the stretcher into another room. She followed, and waited for everyone to leave.

She shook her head, looking down at his unconscious form, "You ass hole." She wanted to hit him, yell at him, she was so angry, "What the hell were you fighting for, huh?" She let go of his hand, and her fist hit the wall in frustration, too afraid to actually hit him, even though she wanted too. "You . . . Jerk!" She yelled again, shaking her head, "You . . . Bastard . . . For making me . . . worry." She shook her head harder, a tear slipping down her cheek, and she wiped it away angrily, only to take his hand once again.

"I didn't know you cared," his voice came out slightly sarcastic, yet very shaky.

Her eyes flew open, relief flooding through her for an instant, and then she yelled, "You are such an ass." She yanked her hand away.

Alec gave her a small smile, "There you go again," he said and coughed slightly, a wince from his mouth. "Always about my ass."

She balled her fists in frustration at him, hitting the wall again, as the door opened. "Max?" Luke said walking in.

"Yeah?" she asked turning to him.

"It's Mole, uhhh, you better get out here," he responded.

Max looked at Alec, "Are you all right?"

"You know me," he said a flicker of pain flashing through his eyes, but a small smile on his face, "I'm always alright." She nodded, knowing he was lying through his teeth. She then followed Luke out of the room.

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"Escape and evade." Mole told the other transgenics who were gathered around him, "We divide up into teams, pick an azimuth, and go to ground."

Max walked up shaking her head, "No, we stay here."

"In a couple of hours, that perimeter will be completely locked down," he said pointing in the direction they had driven in from, "Tanks, National Guard, every cop within a hundred miles."

"We'll be digging our own grave, Max," Dix said. "He's right. If we move now, they'll never be able to catch us all."

Max sighed, "Where are we gonna go? I can't stop anyone from leaving."  She looked around at everyone, "I know a lot of you don't like me, don't trust me, because I'm an '09 escapee." She saw some of the nods in the crowd, "But I can tell you, running is not the answer. I've been running and hiding all my life. Living in fear. I'm not gonna live my life like that anymore."

She looked around at everyone, "Aren't you tired of living in darkness? Don't you want to feel the sun on your face? To have a place of your own where you can walk down the street without being afraid?" She saw a few nod and continued, "The government made us, and they trained us to be soldiers, to defend this country. I say it's time for them to face us and take responsibility, instead of trying to sweep us under the rug. I've hid from what I truly am for far too long, we all have. So what if they call us freaks? Who cares? Today I'm proud to be a freak, I'm proud to be a transgenic. Now, today, I say, we make a stand, right here. Right now. Who's with me?" she asked as she raised her arm into the air.

Joshua quickly raised his, Luke following. A few more slowly raising theirs, followed by Dix with a tilt of his head. One by one the crowd raised their hands, determined looks coming across their faces. Mole looked around at everyone, "What the hell," he said as he raised his arm as well.

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Later that night, Max had one of the transgenics escort Cindy, Sketchy and Normal out of Terminal City and back into town. By morning the police were surrounding their little city, and the National Guard were indeed on the way. A reporter was stationed right outside of Jam Pony, and was interviewing Normal. While he was sweeping the sidewalk from some of the glass from the windows.

"Tell us about your captors," she asked him. "What are these creatures like? Is it true you delivered a transgenic baby?"

Normal smiled, "Yes, I did indeed. And a beautiful, bouncing baby girl she is."

"So you're saying they're not all monsters, then?"

Normal remembered the little baby, and Gem. He remembered the transgenics trying to keep the messengers safe. He remembered Alec injured from saving Max. "Monsters? No. No more than you and me." He turned to one of the messengers, "Hey! Let's go, there, Sparky. Not a country club. Bip bip bip! Move!"

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Another day later, the National Guard was surrounding Terminal City, and a reporter could be heard over the radio. "As dawn breaks on this, the third day of the siege at Terminal City, the situation is tense but unchanged. While several hundred transgenics remain barricaded inside the restricted area, police and National Guard stand an uneasy watch at the perimeter--each side seemingly waiting to see what the other will do next."

On the rooftop of headquarters inside Terminal City, a group of transgenics watch as Joshua, Mole, Dix, and Luke hoist up a large flagpole with the flag that Joshua painted on it. The fabric flapping in the wind, making it look as if the dove is flying.

Max turned her attention away from it, as she heard footsteps walk up behind her, "You should be resting."

"I was getting bored," Alec said from beside her, his arm in a sling.

"How are we going to get through this?" she asked and he smiled on the 'we'.

"We will," he said simply, and was slightly surprised when she leaned back against his chest, his right arm moving around her, "We just will." She nodded, as they watched the flag blow in the wind. Both jumping slightly at the ringing of his cell phone. He reached into his coat, and took it out, "Hello?" His body stiffened slightly, and he looked down at Max. "I have to take this," and she nodded moving over to Joshua, as he moved towards an empty corner of the roof.

"Yes, sir?" He asked into the phone.

{{Status, 494.}}

"452 is in Terminal City with me."

{{Good.}}

"What is my mission now?"

{{Same as before, make sure 452 stays out of trouble.}}

*Easier said than done,* he thought. "Sir?"

{{Yes, 494?}}

"These . . . runes . . . on 452. You never told me . . ."

{{That's on a need to know basis, and right now you don't need to know.}}

"Understood."

{{Keep me informed.}}

"Yes, sir," Alec responded and hung up the phone, his hand going through his hair. His eyes looking up to the flag waving over Terminal City, and then down to Max, "Easier said than done," he sighed.

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The End . . . Season 3 . . . coming to a computer screen near you soon. ;)