Let's see… When last we met, there were armed men closing in on the school where our heroes were hiding out…
Alec let out a high-pitched, staccato whistle, all the while mentally swearing. The whistle was a set signal that should immediately wake the others and let them know trouble was on the way. He'd let himself get distracted and now they were all going to pay for it. The building was probably surrounded and there was no telling how many people had been sent to bring them in.
Alec heard the doors in the room they'd been sitting in being bashed open. He looked back and saw that Max was following close behind him. She looked like she was thinking the same thing he was. They were so screwed.
Alec ran through the door to the dorm area with Max right behind him only to come to a screeching halt. There were already several men in the room, all armed to the teeth, dressed completely in black, body armor included, holding the others at gunpoint.
"Stop right where you are and don't move," one of the men barked, turning his fully automatic weapon on Alec and Max.
"Absolutely," Alec said easily. "We don't want any trouble."
"Shut it," the man snarled.
Alec heard the men who'd kicked in the other door coming up behind him and every instinct he had told him to turn and face them head on, but the gun in his face was a definite deterrent.
"Right," the chosen spokesmen for the gunmen said. "All of you. Into the other room, nice and easy."
With no other option but to obey, Alec and Max turned and walked back the way they'd just come followed by the others who been sleeping. If Alec was counting right, a few more of them had disappeared at some point and given their present circumstances, Alec couldn't really blame them for deciding to head out on their own. They were down to maybe ten Transgenics now in addition to him and Max.
The gunmen escorted them back toward the larger room, a group in front and a group behind keeping them covered at all times. There were several more gunmen in the main room giving them a total of about twenty people and once they were in the more open space, the gunmen shifted so that they were in front and to one side so that there was no danger of catching each other in a crossfire.
"On your knees," the leader ordered.
"Look," Abe said, drawing the gunmen's attention, "we just-"
The leader dropped him with a single bullet. Abe thumped to the floor, half of his head missing. Whatever kind of bullets they were using, they were enough to take down a rhino. Or a Transgenic.
Several of the others let out gasps. Max made a sound not unlike a wounded animal before she managed to stifle it. For his part, Alec forcibly put his feelings aside despite everything inside him wanting to cross the space and tear the lead gunman's head off. Abe was dead and he couldn't fix that now. He had to focus.
"I said… on. your. knees."
The others began to comply, although Max and Alec were definitely slower about it. Alec studied the men and the very, very expensive, state of the art equipment they were carrying. They definitely weren't sector police. They weren't regular military and they weren't White's people either, who had a very definite style and this wasn't it.
Alec turned his gaze back to the man who was giving the commands and whatever fleeting hope he'd been feeling for a clean getaway completely left him. Alec recognized a kindred spirit, or at least another assassin when he saw one. Alec had been well trained and he knew others like him. These people weren't here to arrest them. These men were here to put them down like dogs.
Alec looked toward Max and saw that she'd also come to the same conclusion. No doubt the others knew the score too and were waiting for orders. Abe was dead and the rest of them would be as well in about ten seconds if they didn't do something fast.
They weren't armed, not like the men anyway, but they had one thing working for them - Transgenic speed.
Alec let out another whistle and the others flew into action. They were outnumbered two to one and the gunmen weren't stingy with the bullets. Almost immediately, Alec saw two Transgenics stumble and fall, but he didn't have time to worry about that. He focused on the men in front of him and used every dirty trick Manticore had ever taught him to disarm and disable them. He felt a bullet tear through the flesh on his left side and it only made him angrier. He was getting seriously tired of hiding in rat holes only to be told he wasn't good enough for that particular rat hole.
Alec gave a nasty uppercut to the closest man's nose and didn't even pause when he felt the bone give way. After that it was a blur of movement and fighting. Max fought beside him and as always he was impressed with the compact and fierce, yet graceful way she fought. She may have been short a few years' training, but the streets had been just as constant a teacher.
As a coordinated group, they all fought and moved their way toward the emergency exit they'd chosen earlier. Alec and Max held the gunmen off while the others left first, before unleashing a final flurry of punches, jabs and kicks, enough to shove the gunmen back and slam the metal fire door behind them and lock it.
Almost immediately, the gunmen began beating on the door. Alec, Max and the others took a few seconds to catch their breath.
"Who'd we lose?" Max asked over the clang of metal on metal.
"Nick and Bear," a Transgenic named Tiny answered. She was barely five feet tall. Alec had always been surprised that Manticore had kept her around since she was so small, but then he'd seen her fight and she was like a ferocious little badger ready to tear the face off anyone who got in her way. Alec had been ordered to spar with her one day and he'd quickly been reminded not to judge a book by its cover, especially at Manticore.
"You're sure they're gone?" Max asked.
"Yeah," Tiny answered with certainty. "They're as dead as Abe."
Alec just nodded. Tiny never pulled any punches. In better circumstances, he had a feeling she'd get along great with Max.
"I don't know about the rest of you," Tiny continued, "but this isn't working. I'm heading for the border and I'm gonna hide 'til they forget Transgenics ever existed."
Several of the others nodded and once again Alec couldn't really blame them. Alec glanced at Max and he could see that she was torn. He knew how badly she wanted to keep everybody together so that she could play den mother, but this… this was beyond anything that she could fix. They weren't trying to catch them anymore. They were trying to eradicate them. An assassination squad was the last step.
"Try to stay in pairs," Alec said. "You need one to watch while the other sleeps. You got it?"
The others nodded and in about two seconds they were gone in a blur of motion. Max was looking at him like he was the devil for allowing them to go. Alec ignored that and grabbed her hand. The metal fire door was beginning to give way and they had to leave.
Alec pulled her in the same direction that the others had gone toward their real exit. There was a tiny access door into the sewer. Even if the building was surrounded, they should be able to get out that way.
Because he wouldn't be working with Max if they didn't end up back in the sewer. His day just got better and better.
Alec dropped Max's hand as soon as she was moving in the right direction. He could feel how angry she was, although he wasn't sure if she was madder at him or at the goon squad or just life in general. Max was a gifted woman, though. She was probably pissed at all three.
The others had left the grate open for the entrance to the sewers seeing as how they were only a few seconds ahead of them. Alec dropped down first and Max quickly followed, stopping just long enough to pull the grate over the hole.
The lighting was dim, but it didn't make a lot of difference to a Transgenic. It was still enough to see that Max was bleeding.
"Are you all right?" he asked. He stepped close enough to pull her leather coat to one side. Max smacked his hand away, however, before he could tell where the blood was coming from.
"I'm fine," she snapped. "Let's go."
"Max, I can smell how much blood there is."
"Shut up," she ordered. "You're bleeding, too, and we don't have time for this."
Even as she said it, Alec's head snapped up. The men were approaching the grate. Alec just wasn't sure whether they would figure out they'd disappeared into the sewers.
"There," the leader says. "Open it. The rats have gone back to their home."
"Well, that answers that question," Alec muttered.
Max was already moving away and he followed. He hoped she knew where she was going, because he certainly didn't. The sewers annoyed him like few places did. He might have a completely crap-filled life, but that didn't mean he had to literally slog around in it.
"They're too fast," Max whispered, glancing back.
Alec took a better look and saw that not only was she not moving as fast as she should, she was beginning to list to one side. She was also right. The men were gaining on them.
Alec quickly looked around them. There had to be a place to hide. They were in a sewer after all. There were pipes and nooks and crannies and twists and turns, etc. There had to be something. He hurried ahead of Max, ignoring his own injuries. It definitely looked like Max was in worse shape.
Alec got far enough ahead that they would definitely be out of sight and began looking frantically for a place to hide. It took a bit, but he finally saw it just as Max came alongside him. He jerked her into the cubby hole he'd seen. It was pitch black in the corner behind a set of pipes that were shoehorned into the cutout in the flat section of brick. The gunmen would hopefully be in a hurry and would go right past them. Even if they looked in, they would only see the pipes if Max and Alec could make themselves small enough.
Alec shoved her into the tiny space and quickly squeezed in behind her. She twisted so that she was facing him, but Alec moved closer just the same until she was pressed into the wall.
"What do you think you're doing?" she hissed.
"For once in your life," he said through gritted teeth, "just go with it, Max. I don't wanna die because you have personal space issues. Got it?"
She pushed at him weakly, but Alec grabbed her hands and pulled them up so they were pressed between their chests. "Leave them there," he ordered. He let go of her and grabbed his leather jacket by the neck and pulled it up so that it covered his head and Max's face. He had to cover their exposed skin or it might give them away.
Just as he was finished adjusting the jacket, he heard the gunmen coming. He wrapped his arms around Max's neck and pulled her close, at the same time pressing them both into the wall to hide as much as he could behind the pipes.
"You're going to pay for this," Max bit out, her mouth against his ear.
"If we live, you can kill me," he replied easily. In truth, he was just as worried about Max as he was about the gunmen. She was trying to sound tough, but her voice was growing weaker, and the scent of blood was becoming overpowering in the little nook they were occupying. He could only hope the men moved past them quickly so he could take a look at her.
Alec froze stock still at the sound of quiet footsteps scratching in the grit on the concrete floor. The leather jacket was enough to throw off his hearing a bit, but the man couldn't be more than a few feet away from their hiding spot. Max's hands were still pressed to his chest, and her fingers tightened into fists around the cloth of his t-shirt which made Alec want to either laugh or cry, he wasn't sure which. Max was a good-looking woman, and Alec wasn't immune to her charms, but this was so far from the kind of snuggling in a corner he preferred that it wasn't even funny.
Alec heard several men move past. He waited a few minutes to be sure and was just about to move when he heard it again, the quiet scraping of a booted foot through the grit on the floor. One of the men had to be standing right outside their hiding place.
Suddenly, Max's head fell forward and landed on his shoulder. The rest of her began to sag in his arms. Alec couldn't really move without giving away their position. His only option was to use his own body to pin her to the wall and keep her there. It wouldn't work for long. Gravity and her body weight were working against him, but he had to keep her still until the gunman moved away.
The stench of blood was becoming overwhelming such that Alec was almost desperate to sneeze just to clear his nose. That would definitely give them away, so Alec resorted to holding his breath. If the jerk outside didn't move before Alec needed to breathe again, he'd just have to take his chances, put the guy down and hope the others weren't close enough to hear him.
"Anything?" It sounded like the leader again, but Alec couldn't be sure. He was more concerned about Max. Her cheek was pressed to his and he could tell her temperature was dropping. Something was very, very wrong and he needed to get her out of there.
"Nothing," one of the other gunmen said, and wasn't it just Alec's luck that they decided to have their little confab right outside his hidey hole. "They warned us they were fast. They must've gotten away from us."
"Fine. Call it in. We'll set up a cordon and try to keep them bottled in at least."
Alec heard them move away and not a moment too soon. He let his jacket fall back and put his arms around Max so he could pull her out of the tiny space back into the main sewer tunnel. The jarring movement seemed to wake her and she tried to help him, but barely managed more than to get her feet to move a bit.
"Logan," he heard her mutter.
"No, Max," he said impatiently. "It's Alec." If he had to hear about poor Logan and their doomed love one more time he was going to hit something.
"No." She shook her head before letting it fall back against his chest. "Logan. Go there."
"Max, I'm pretty sure we agreed you weren't going to hang out with him anymore." Alec held her away from him and gave her a quick once over. He immediately saw the source of the problem. Her arm was practically a river of blood. She must've nicked an artery. Alec awkwardly set her down on the ground and then ripped away the lower section of her shirt.
"Keeping you from bleeding to death. Besides, if you're going to play a warrior maiden, you shouldn't mind the bare midriff look."
Alec pulled her jacket off and tied the piece of torn cloth tightly around her bicep. If she'd been human, she would've already been dead. As it was, she was unbelievably pale beneath her normal olive coloring. Transgenics could work with a lower blood volume and give their bodies a little time to heal wounds, which they would do soon enough. Even they had their limits, though, and Max looked borderline at best.
"Logan," she said again.
"Max, you're already hurt. Don't make me hit you." Just once could the woman acknowledge him while he was trying to save her?
"Already… searched that area," she explained. "Hide. Find others. Warn them."
Alec sighed. He should have known it wouldn't be that easy. She wanted to locate the others and warn them about the death squad. Being a self-centered jerk really made life a lot simpler. And then he met Max.
Alec put her jacket back on, pulled her up, and then picked her up in his arms. His entire body screamed that he was a complete idiot for doing that and he was going to pay dearly for it later, but Alec ignored that. Max was a lot worse off than he was and it had to be done.
Alec centered himself, working out where he was and which direction he needed to go. He shouldn't have complained about the sewers. It was better than facing Logan and watching Max fumble around until she figured out there were other options for her. In the meantime, he'd just protect her and bide his time until she woke up.
More soon… A very happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Americans and to everyone else a very pleasant Thursday to you!