Title: When Hope Fails
Author: thewickedquill
Genre: General, Angst
Rating: G
Characters: Max, Alec
Notes: When leadership fails, hope pales. Inspired by the Late Autumn 2012 prompts on the Raising Hell Dark Angel Fan Fiction Archive:
1) Fear grows in darkness, and
2) To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved.
Summary: When leadership fails, hope pales.

When Hope Fails

Being considered a traitor and a coward wasn't something I enjoyed, but I understood it to an extent. Manticore had a way of making you believe what they wanted you to believe. If I didn't know the full truth of the statement from experience, I'd heard it from the others. It was a painful and lasting lesson.

I had hoped that with time they would accept me. I wasn't looking to be loved; I wasn't out to make friends. I just wanted to keep them safe, to look out for my family. Eventually they would see that I was trustworthy and that I did what I did with their best interests at heart.

Only, it didn't turn out as I'd anticipated.

In fact, I was so sure we would succeed, that if we only waited it out, we could prove we were here to stay - and win. It didn't even have to be the war that we won, just the battle. I never expected things to fall into place right away; change takes time.

Some say I was naive, that I had too much misplaced faith in humans and that my time out of Manticore had made me soft. And those are the generous ones. Others have been far less kind in their assessments of my mistakes.

I can't say I blame them, though. A proud people with great strength, intelligence and tremendous potential are now facing captivity or annihilation because of my shortsighted plan.

It's all too apparent now that I was being overly optimistic. This is a fact that cannot be ignored when your people are suffering, their bellies spasming with hunger, throats parched from thirst. Harder still when the sick succumb to injuries you cannot treat but should have been able to cure with the right supplies. Worse yet, when the plaintive cries of the little ones finally quiet, and the silence is a curse and not a blessing.

I just wish I'd seen the signs sooner. The deterioration was so gradual that by the time we caught on, it was far too late to do anything. We suddenly realized that we were stuck with no means of escape. I can still remember the hope and excitement of many of the Transgenics when I first asked them to take a stand with me, the pride and confidence when we raised our fists and pledged to fight for our right to exist and be recognized as our own nation.

Those looks and feelings are gone now.

The bodies around me are huddled. Even the most seasoned ex-Manticorean is suffering. Exposure to extreme temperatures, extended deprivation of food and water, harsh living conditions, untreated wounds...we've all been there before and survived. This time, however, hope has abandoned us, and the imminent future seems bleak. With such a negative outlook, things seem that much worse. Now, the panic has set in. Tense silence fills the halls, accusing eyes and frightened faces greet me at every turn. Where did it all go so wrong?

Darkness breeds fear and the heavy black cloud of despair that has settled upon Terminal City is so thick it suffocates.

There is only one person who has stood staunchly beside me, who has not yet given up. Alec, with his unwavering support and steadfastness, gives me the strength to keep trying. While not exactly optimistic, he has a resolutely non-defeatist mindset. It is this attitude that reinforces my belief that things can change for the better.

He offers me an uncertain half-smile and holds out the phone. I know what he's going to say before he opens his mouth, and my gut clenches.

"It's the White House. They're back with their final counter-offer."

I square my shoulders and swallow. This is it: Fight or flight. One way or another, this conversation will mark the turning point and future of our people.

I can only hope that this time it is in our favor.