Ch. 1 - Offer
Summary: After the siege on Terminal City, the Transgenics are trying to survive. Colonel Lydecker resurfaces with an offer for them, but someone else has a better offer, if they can trust her.
Note: This takes place in Dark Angel timeline, post-series finale. The year is 2022 and the location is Post-Pulse Seattle. This is a sequel to Hide in Plain Sight.
Disclaimer: I definitely don’t own any of these characters. Dark Angel belongs to James Cameron and BtVS is Joss Whedon's.
Alec surveyed the perimeter with a soldier’s critical eye, but did not see any signs of betrayal as they approached the soon-to-be obsolete safe house they had agreed to use for the meeting. It wasn’t easy to sacrifice one of the few safe houses they had, but it had been necessary so that they would know they weren’t walking into an ambush. He and Max had been running—or trying to anyway—Terminal City since the hostage situation at Jam Pony and this was the first sign that there might be a way for them to survive without going to ground.
Except for supply runs in the dead of night, Alec hadn’t stepped foot outside of T.C. in weeks, but he could barely enjoy it now. He thought he smelled a familiar scent as he passed by an alley, but even as he considered if it was Asha, he knew it couldn’t be. She had been called back to Cleveland on an urgent matter and with the National Guard keeping all of Seattle from getting any cell reception until the situation was resolved, he hadn’t even been able to speak with her in over a month. He hoped she was okay and that he would see her again one day. They had barely been able to start anything together before everything went to hell-in-a-handbag and he wasn’t even sure where they stood. A couple of nights of phenomenal sex did not mean that she would want the rest of the baggage that came along with him being a Transgenic.
He shook his head to clear it and focus back on the task in front of him. They were meeting with Lydecker, at the Colonel’s request, because the man said he had an offer from the U.S. Government that he thought would satisfy everyone, if not entirely happy. Alec doubted that the offer would be anything that his fellow Transgenics and Transhumans would agree to, but it was a starting point in opening negotiations. He pushed down the bitterness that swept through him at the thought of having to negotiate for their very existence, but they weren’t about to line up to be executed, or ‘euthanized’ as some political commentators were calling it.
They had just finished verifying the security of the location when Lydecker arrived. He had four guards with him, armed with rifles and tasers that were cranked up to the highest setting possible. He was suddenly glad that Max had agreed to letting him keep his own weapons and to arm their own guards.
When Lydecker entered, he smiled at Max like a father who was coming to visit his kid during a school break, calling her name, and reaching for her. She deftly slipped out of his way as Alec put himself in between them in a silent statement: She was their C.O. now and he would protect her accordingly.
Lydecker nodded his acknowledgement of him, “494, or do you have a name now?”
The news articles that Sketchy had managed to get printed made it clear that they all had names now, so he knew Lydecker was just trying to push him. Alec stood still and silent as he looked over the man who had stolen his childhood and turned him into a killer. He poured every ounce of his pain into the glare he aimed directly at the older man, and for the first time ever, Lydecker was the first one to look away. In that moment, Alec knew he would never be Lydecker’s lapdog again.
“My name is Alec,” he told the older man, gesturing that he take a seat at the table, but only after he made sure that Max was seated at the head of the table. He had no plans on giving Lydecker any perceived tactical advantage. A quick glance in Max’s direction told him that she had understood and approved of his actions.
“What’s this offer, Lydecker?” Max asked, getting down to business in her usual Max style.
“This world wasn’t meant to ever find out about you kids and they don’t know how to deal with you, but I happen to think that they are just going to have to,” Lydecker began. “That doesn’t mean that it is a good idea for every Transhuman or Transgenic to be integrated into society. It’s not a good fit either way, and doesn’t utilize any of the skills that you all have.”
“I’m not hearing an offer here,” Max snapped.
Alec could see that she was getting more agitated by the second as Lydecker's words hit her extra-sensitive Transgenic ears. He had to admit that he was beginning to get annoyed himself. He sat down next to Max and let his leg rest against hers so she could feel his support and draw strength from him.
“My offer is this,” Lydecker told them. “There are other Manticore facilities that were abandoned, but not destroyed, when we consolidated everyone in Wyoming. The Wyoming facility is destroyed, but these other facilities are still operable. It would be a safe place for everyone, and certainly more palatable than Terminal City.”
“With an added benefit of not being toxic to Ordinaries,” Alec interjected, sliding a look over to Max. She seemed to catch onto his meaning immediately.
“Let me guess,” she said sarcastically. “We all move to one of these facilities and then the government slowly moves more and more Ordinaries in to control us until we are back where we all started. No thanks, Lydecker. You know the way out.”
“That’s not what I’m saying,” Lydecker argued. Max stood up to leave, but Lydecker caught her attention again and she sat down again as he continued, “You kids are soldiers. You need a purpose. You’ll have one there. You’ll have structure and your abilities will be put to good use.”
“You mean they’ll have a collar,” a new voice piped up.
They were so focused on Lydecker and his bullshit that they didn’t notice the woman on the stairs. Alec had personally checked upstairs himself, so he didn’t know how she had appeared there. Every guard, Ordinary and Transgenic, in the room, including him, swung their guns up toward the woman, but before he could do more than aim, the metal began to burn his hand and he dropped the weapon. As soon as he did, the burning stopped. The rest of the guns clattered to the floor uselessly.
“Sorry about that,” she told them. “I’m not fond of guns and I really would prefer that they aren’t pointed in my direction.”
Max stood up and looked the woman up and down. Alec took that moment to do his own perusal. She was in her mid-forties and had long red hair that was starting to turn grey in a few places. She was slender and now that the guns were no longer pointing at her, she had a warm, welcoming look in her eyes. Alec couldn’t remember a time when anyone had known what he was and looked at him with immediate acceptance. Even Asha had been hesitant at first.
“What collar?” Max demanded.
The woman was carrying a folder and she opened it now, plucking out a design spec and handing it to Max. Whatever was on the paper caused Max to suck air in through her teeth in barely leashed rage. He could see tears forming in her eyes as she handed him the page; one look at it told him that he was right not to trust Lydecker.
“Did you think we were just going to line up quietly while you fitted us all for our ‘genetically imprinted stun collars’?” Alec spat out as he stood up and slammed the paper down on the table.
The guards that came with Lydecker went on alert, but didn’t move toward their guns at the woman’s warning look.
“It’s the only way that the Senate sub-committee would agree…,” Lydecker stated unapologetically. “And, we both know it’s necessary.”
“Actually, it’s not,” the woman told them, before holding out her hand to Max. “Hi, my name is Willow Rosenburg. I am here to provide you with an alternative offer. One that doesn’t involve tranquilizer gas being pumped into your barracks at night and waking up with a new, and permanent, accessory.”
Alec barely grabbed hold of Max before she flew at Lydecker at Willow’s statement. The truth was that he would like to kill the man himself, but if they hurt him, it would hurt their cause more than the man himself, so he restrained both of them.
Lydecker, for his part, looked like he wanted to see if he could actually kill Willow with a glare. He stood up and refuted her statement, “That’s not what…”
She held up a flash drive and cut him off, “Save it. You know, if you are going to record closed-door discussions with Senate sub-committee members, you really should upgrade your firewalls. Don’t get me wrong: they were good, but I’m better.”
Lydecker seemed to shrink a bit at that revelation, but then waved his hand dismissively at her, “So what? It’s still the only deal the Senate is willing to offer them.”
“Maybe so, but that’s why I by-passed the Senate and went straight to the President,” Willow replied with a saccharine smile on her face.
“The President doesn’t have the authority to…,” Lydecker sneered.
“Check the fine print of the Pulse Act,” Willow told him, then followed up with, “I did.”
Alec was enjoying watching the two Ordinaries going toe-to-toe, but apparently Max had watched long enough. She stepped up in between the two parties and demanded, “That’s enough. This isn’t getting anything accomplished.”
“You’re right,” Willow nodded and moved to take Lydecker’s seat at the table. When he protested, she tossed over her shoulder, “You had your turn. I’m talking now.”
Alec watched in fascination as her eyes flicked to another chair at the table and it moved of its own accord and Lydecker fell into it as the seat hit the back of his legs. He revised his assessment of the woman quickly, Not so ‘Ordinary’ after all.
As he sat down at the table, he caught another whiff of that familiar scent and realized suddenly who the woman was. Asha had mentioned an ‘Aunt Wills’ once and now he could smell the faintest scent of Asha on Willow’s clothes. He wanted to look around for her, or ask Willow directly, but she was speaking and he had to put the needs of the residents of Terminal City above his own desire to see Asha again.
As soon as Willow saw that she had everyone’s attention, she began to speak, “Okay, here’s the deal: All of the Transgenics and Transhumans are released into my custody for a period of two years. Our organization will provide everyone with jobs, or schooling; the options we currently have available are enclosed in the packet. If someone wants to do something that isn’t on the list, check the category ‘other.’ Tell us and we’ll see what we can do. Although there are security and more covert options open, both are strictly voluntary. We already have enough of those categories to get by, but we always welcome additional personnel and experience. Any employment outside of our organization needs my sign-off, which I won’t withhold as long as it is gainful and legal employment. Anyone who stays out of trouble for those two years is then released into their own custody. I’m sorry; I tried to get you all released into your own custody immediately, but this was the best I could do. The committee was not happy this proposal either, but I can be persuasive when I need to be. Any questions?”
“How do we know you don’t want to use us like he wants to use us?” Max asked, pointing a thumb in Lydecker’s direction.
“She doesn’t,” Alec found himself saying. He didn’t know for sure that she was Asha’s aunt, but he was pretty sure that she was and, even if he didn’t know the status of his relationship with Asha, he trusted that she wouldn’t betray them.
A movement from the stairs caught his eye. He saw the swing of her blond hair before anything else. Her scent hit him just as she turned and met his gaze with a confident smile.
Willow said to them, “I believe you know my niece, Asha.”
Asha strode into the room and looked everyone over. He didn’t think he imagined it when her eyes softened slightly when she looked at him, but the moment was over too quickly for him to be certain. She offered them a satisfied smile and said, “Welcome to the S1W Alliance.”
Then, she turned to Lydecker and informed him, “Just so you know, regardless of whether they take our offer or not, as of this moment, every Transgenic and Transhuman is now under my personal protection and anyone who tries to hurt them had better be genetically engineered to be able to breathe without the lungs I’ll rip from their bodies.”
Next Chapter: Acceptance