Perspective Is Everything
Summary: Post flag-raising. Terminal City is lost and Max's hopes and dreams along with it.
Sorry, all, this is not another story in the Hounds Series. That may or may not happen depending on whether an idea comes to me. Instead, this story is because a reader informed me that I'm never fair to Logan, he's out of character, etc. That's not to say I'll be any nicer to him in this story, but that's where the story came from.
So… let's start this story off in the typical spot and see where we can wander off to…
Alec looked away from the flag. The moment was past and the reality of how deeply they were in disaster was setting in.
He looked across and saw that Max and Logan were holding hands. He tried to care and it mattered for all of half a second. They had bigger problems than Max's messy love life, and thus his by extension. He'd backed Max's play, both at Jam Pony and with the Transgenics once they were back in Terminal City, but the pit they were standing in was getting deeper and deeper and Max just kept shoveling.
"Well," Alec clapped his hands together, "this has been great and I'm feeling the love, but we should probably get out of the open. The guys on that building over there have sniper rifles."
Those seemed to be the magic words and in seconds the roof cleared. Max, Logan and Alec were the last to leave. Max headed down the metal stairs, followed by Logan who held the railing as he descended and Alec frowned noticing he was still wearing his latex gloves. Alec mentally put it on his list to somehow procure a pair of leather gloves or something else that would work to keep him safe. The latex was just creepy, not to mention flimsy, if Logan was going to be hanging around again.
At the bottom of the stairs, Max looked up at Logan and smiled. He held out his hand and after a second's hesitation, she took it. They began walking, but almost immediately, Alec could tell something was wrong. Logan's gait was off, more so than usual. A second later and Max noticed it, too.
He stumbled to a halt and pulled his hand away from her. It was the hand he'd used to grip the railing as he came down the stairs, and plain as day Alec could see the rip in it. His gut Manticore reaction was to put a bullet in Logan and keep walking since a terminally wounded team member would just slow them down. Manticore was gone now though, so luckily for Logan, Alec had different rules he could go by now.
"Max, get back," he ordered while simultaneously lurching forward to catch Logan and keep him from slamming his oh-so-brilliant head into the concrete floor.
"Logan?" Max's voice was as high as Alec had ever heard it. "Logan, say something."
"He can't," Alec said. They should be so lucky that it was a mild reaction. Logan was already sweating and his breathing was quickly going from labored to desperate wheezing. It seemed each time he was infected, the reaction was worse, faster acting.
"Alec, pick him up!" Max ordered. "We've got to get him somewhere we can give him a transfusion."
"You're gonna need another volunteer for the blood. I can't do it," he told her. Alec had been shot and then had the crap beaten out of him by a Familiar. He was already running low.
"It's not gonna be from any of us." Mole stepped forward, his growling voice low and firm. "We're not giving anything to the Ape. We already gave at the office."
Max turned and got right in the Transhuman's face. "Shut up, Mole. Manticore made the virus just for him. We help our own."
"That virus is more one of us than the Ape is," Mole growled back. "We don't have to help another damn one of them."
Max looked murderous to the point Alec was afraid he'd have to step in. Apparently, Max and Mole butting heads was going to be an ongoing theme while they were locked together in TC.
"Logan," she pointed to the downed man, "has helped us every step of the way. He's done more for this operation than you have, Mole. All you've done is stand around and bitch about what everybody else is doing."
Mole took his cigar out of his mouth so he could argue properly. "I don't bitch unless someone thinks we should start helping the same Apes who caged us in the first place."
"Listen, we all-"
"We?" Mole snarled. "Like you know anything about what the rest of us have been through." He pointed a scaly finger at her. "You're an '09er. You don't know jack about being one of us. Matter of fact, you probably know about as much as the Ape does."
Finally, Alec had had enough. The argument wasn't really about Logan. It was another Max-Mole power play. It didn't help that there were a lot of people nodding along with Mole's sentiments. Alec's only current concern was that while they went head to head, Logan's gasping breaths were coming farther and farther apart. Alec hefted Logan off the floor, faltering when his damaged ribs protested, followed by a distinct rip in the wound on his shoulder.
"Get out of my way," he ordered, and those around him, even Mole responded to the command in his voice.
Alec raced as fast as his battered muscles would allow down the rest of the stairs in the building toward the makeshift living area that had developed outside their command center, such as it was. There were a few old mattresses, some stained chairs and ancient sofas.
Alec set Logan down on the closest couch. He quickly put one hand on his forehead and the other beneath his neck and tilted Logan's head back in an attempt to ease his breathing a bit, but Logan was in deep trouble. It sounded as if his airway was already close to swollen shut.
Max appeared at his side carrying some plastic IV type tubing and a bag of things it looked like she'd pulled from the ambulance they'd stolen for the getaway from Jam Pony. Almost as soon as she appeared, however, they felt an explosion that was far too close for comfort. It was big enough that cement, plaster and dirt began to filter down from the floor above them.
"What was that?" Max demanded.
"They've blown the concrete barrier!" someone shouted.
As soon as the sector police had backed out of TC, they'd used rubble and chunks of concrete to form a barrier to keep them from just driving back in. "I guess Clemente was overruled," Alec said ruefully. He shook his head. He shouldn't have expected anything else. Their luck couldn't get any worse if they tried.
"They're going to come in and clean us out with or without all your fancy speeches," Mole growled, adding a glare in Max's direction.
Another explosion rocked the ground beneath them, leaving no doubt about the threat level they were facing. Alec looked at Max and saw the internal war going on beneath the surface. She was obviously willing to fight to keep them all together, but an open attack changed things. They just weren't geared up for an all out battle. Covert work and sneak attacks they could do, but not this. Finally, Max seemed to come to a decision, although it clearly pained her. "Ok, everybody out!" she bellowed. "Scatter! Go to ground!"
"Damn Apes will hunt us till we're dead," Mole bit out. He began marching away and it looked like a large group of Transhumans followed him, although there appeared to be quite a few Transgenics as well. It seemed Max's high ideals were all well and good, but Manticore had taught them survival first and foremost, and at this point that meant sticking with the guy who'd said staying was a bad idea.
Alec looked around and saw another group, a smaller one, was standing there nervously watching Max. She'd made herself the would-be leader of this little ragtag group and the foot soldiers were still looking to her for guidance. Joshua, too, had appeared and was waiting for Max to lead the way.
"We're going to need transportation." She looked around and saw some of Mole's people already getting into the ambulance. Alec could see that she wanted to yell at them, no doubt wanting the supplies for Logan, but it was too late for that.
"You," she pointed at the closest Transgenic, "you're driving the paddy wagon we used to get back here." She waited for him to head for the vehicle, then said, "What else do we have?"
"Have old car," Joshua said. "Use for supply runs."
"We've got the motorcycles, too," another Transgenic said named Abe. Alec had only dealt with him a few times. He was younger, but smart, and he thought out of the box.
"We can get a bunch of us in the paddy wagon, two to a bike, and as many as we can get in the car." Max clapped her hands. "Go, people. We've only got seconds."
Max didn't wait for them to obey. She turned back toward Logan and knelt at his side. "We have to take him with us." There was another series of explosions near the fence line, large enough that the ground shuddered. That seemed to help Max to come to a decision. "Grab him," she ordered, pointing to Logan.
A bullet passed so close to Alec's head it practically parted his hair. That was all the motivation he needed to obey. He once again grabbed Logan and this time bit back a cry of pain as the taller man's weight pulled at his shoulder, not to mention compressed his damaged ribs. Max turned as if to help him, but quickly stopped herself.
They hurried toward the paddy wagon and jumped in the back. Alec half-dropped Logan on the floor and before one of the Transgenics with them had even started the vehicle he had the medical kit open and was looking for supplies so that he could arrange a makeshift transfusion.
The paddy wagon lurched as it began moving and Alec had to brace to steady himself above his patient. He quickly shut out everything else, all distractions, all the sounds, all the talking, all the movement, the sound of gunfire and explosions. His entire focus dwindled down to one single fact. Logan wasn't breathing.
Alec pulled out his pocketknife. He grabbed the plastic tubing Max had given him and cut off a piece a few inches long from one end. He then braced himself above Logan and without hesitation plunged the knife into his neck, cutting a slit through to his windpipe. He had no doubt Max was probably screaming at him, but he didn't hear it. All he was listening for was a breath. Alec grabbed the piece of tubing he'd cut off and forced it into the slit he'd made. It wasn't perfect and Logan was still badly swollen, but it was something. When nothing happened Alec leaned down and sucked on the tube to clear it, spitting blood and whatever else to one side. He leaned back slightly and finally heard the first trickle of air flow into the tube.
He didn't wait for more. Without paying any attention to who he was grabbing, he snagged the closest Transgenic who wasn't Max and forced them to sit. Whoever it was seemed to catch on and began pulling up their shirtsleeve as Alec began rummaging through the stash Max had grabbed from the ambulance. It was pathetically little, but it was all they had.
It took longer than he liked, but finally he managed to set up the roughest, most makeshift transfusion ever attempted in a speeding, bumping, runaway vehicle. When it became clear the transfusion was in progress, Alec felt the energy completely drain out of him. He fell back against the side of the truck and blinked as his vision seemed to go in and out. His hearing became muffled and distant. He heard one thing, though.
"Idiot," Max said, but to Alec's ears it didn't hold the same venom she usually used when talking to him. She nudged him slightly to make him sit forward, and he felt her placing a heavy pad against his bullet wound. He'd forgotten about it in his desperate effort to help Logan.
It was weird really. He didn't know why he'd been trying so hard. He didn't even like the guy all that much.
Max sat down on the floor beside him. Involuntarily, Alec leaned to one side, his head coming to rest on her shoulder. He just didn't have the energy to hold it up any more.
"Thanks," Max whispered.
Oh yeah, Alec thought dimly. That was why.
And there you have it. As I said, we'll see where we can wander off…