Sequel to: Heat
Rating: PG - Gen (Ratings subject to change)
Disclaimers: DA & characters are owned by their respective creators.
Alec knew there was something extra in the glass of water she’d left right outside his door.
The doctor hadn’t made it much of a secret considering she knew what a transgenic could smell in something as pure H2O. Slumping against the bars, Alec studied the glass in his hand and tried to think about what he had to do next. She’d packed all Daniel’s things and removed them from sight. But he could hear sounds of the same busy activity all over the house. Along with the faint scent of burning plastic seeping in through the air vents. Cables, circuit boards and all the good stuff computers were made of. Looked like the doctor was getting rid of some hardware from the smell of it. And if he had to make a guess he’d say all the packing and scorching of the motherboards were the last minute acts of someone ready to cut and run. But none of Alec’s stuff seemed to be going anywhere. And that probably meant neither was Alec.
He frowned at the water.
“Hey!” Alec shook the bars and added a kick. “Daniel! Can you hear me over there!”
To his surprise Daniel’s shadow appeared at the end of the hallway. Alec hadn’t been aware that he had been released from his room or when. Daniel came closer when Alec shouted his name again. He was dressed differently. The comfortable clothing usually used indoors was replaced with real things for weather and rain. All of it was black, including a pair of sunglasses that hid his oddly pale eyes.
“I guess this means you guys are going somewhere, huh?” Alec‘s grip tightened nervously on the bars. “You gotta come closer, man. I have to talk to you, okay?”
Daniel slowly stepped forward and provided his hands.
Alec gnawed on his lip and tried to figure what he wanted to say first. Because the last time he’d dragged the guy into his plans the doctor had sent him for a nice fun filled trip out into the woods. Alec wanted to say he was sorry for that but he wasn’t sure how. He also didn’t think they had much time for that kind of thing right now anyway. But before he could start any speeches of any particular kind, Daniel said something first.
Your friends are coming.
Alec froze. He couldn’t see Daniel’s eyes behind the sunglasses but he could tell the kid was terrified. Letting out a small sound of frustration, Daniel’s hands squeezed harder when Alec didn‘t respond.
“I… I knew they’d show,” Alec wasn’t sure if he wanted to start laughing or throwing up. “Is that why Elaine is all riled up? Is that why she’s leaving? This is great news Danny Boy, we can get out of here. You and me, we‘ll-”
“Why not you?”
“Okay,” Alec signed into his hands. “I’m listening. What is it?”
Daniel took a deep breath and started to slowly explain exactly what was on his mind. Keeping his mouth shut, Alec listened as carefully and closely as he could. But when it was all said and done, his hands were shaking as bad as Daniel’s were.
"We can do it," Alec told him. "I know we can."
He rested his forehead against Daniel's through the bars.
Logan heard the sound of the helicopter long before he saw it.
The artificial flow of shrubbery and trees hid many things that any self-contained facility of this size would require. They’d passed a water processing station camouflaged as a decorative koi pond, a power generator tucked into a swimming pool and now Max was waving them closer to the edge of the helipad. A sleek black helicopter with blades whirring was sitting on what once was probably meant to be a tennis court.
“We’re just in time,” Gabriel said. “Just in time to be too late.”
“What’s with the whirly bird?” Max shoved him back down onto his knees. “Didn’t you smile at all the hidden cameras like we asked you to?”
“Why do you think you’re still in solid form?” Gabriel asked.
Logan shared a look with Max, silently agreeing that Gabriel was the only reason they had managed to get this far and deep inside the property. The doctor wanted her X5 back and she wanted him whole. But it still didn’t explain why no one was trying to stop them the good old fashioned way. There were no armed guards to be seen and according to Logan’s phone, the computer was still running code to keep the automatic artillery offline.
That was when Logan spotted the woman standing alone on the far side of the clearing. She was dressed in a long beige coat belted at waist with her hair blowing loose in the thrashing wind coming off the helicopter.
Looked like Gaboriault had been waiting for them.
“Elaine!” Gabriel gasped with pure joy when he saw her, breaking free of Max‘s grip and stumbling clumsily onto the pavement and down onto his bound hands. “Elaine, wait for me!”
“Max, don’t!” Logan knew it was no use trying to stop him now. All the X5 had done was describe how he was going murder them when he had the chance. Even if they did some how get him out of here, it wasn‘t an easy task to keep an unwilling transgenic anywhere for very long. “Let him go. It‘s what he wants.”
“But he’s our insurance policy!”
“We got one more,” Logan had to force his voice to be heard over the engine noise. “I got enough dirt on Gaboriault to put her away for life and I have a feeling she knows it.”
"You think this lady can't dodge a jail sentence?"
"I think that kind of exposure could ruin everything she's worked for."
Max tossed her unloaded weapon onto the ground and Logan holstered his.
The doctor ignored them and moved quickly to the wounded transgenic. She helped him struggle to his feet, her hands exploring the restraints on his wrists in disgust. Her careful composure crumbled away, the grim line of her mouth turning into a relieved smile as her eyes filled with the bewildered happiness of his safe return.
“You were going to leave,” Gabriel’s bliss had shifted sharply into despair. “You were going to fly away and leave me here!”
“No, Gabriel. Never. I would never do such a thing.”
Logan got up as close to the touching reunion as he dared. Max kept an even further distance, her nerves thrumming like livewires with all the potential dangers that surrounded them on every side.
“Now what?” Max hissed.
Now Logan hoped like hell that the files he’d had encrypted and hidden by the best hackers money could buy would save their lives. He was banking on the fact that this woman valued her privacy so highly that she wouldn’t make any moves until she made sure it was secure. And he was also hoping it would lead to a nice and even trade for Alec.
“I’m late Elaine,” Gabriel was crying. “I’m so late. They kept me in their filthy apartment. In a shower! I couldn’t leave. They wouldn‘t let me leave.”
“It’s okay, Gabriel,” she said. “I understand.”
Logan was slightly moved by the soft kiss the doctor left on Gabriel’s forehead before she guided him behind her. One side of her face was smeared red with the transgenics blood, and her pretty coat now looked like a butcher’s apron.
“Mr. Logan Cale,” the kindness in her eyes evaporated. “I can’t say I’m pleased to finally meet you, but considering the circumstances I think you will understand why.”
“Where you headed?“ Max asked. “You going on a vacation?”
“452,” she nodded. “I’d never thought I would see one of your series again.”
“She asked you a question doc,” Logan said. “You going somewhere?”
“Yes, I am,” she sighed. “You have made it impossible for me to continue here. But I must admit that I have already been preparing for such a day because of its inevitable eventuality. If it wasn’t you Mr. Cale, it surely would have been someone else sooner or later.”
“I can’t let you disappear,” Logan said. “Not with Alec and whoever else you’ve been keeping locked up.”
“I don’t want Alec.”
“E-Excuse me?” Logan exchanged an uneasy glance with Max. “What do you mean you don’t want him? You went through an awful lot of trouble to get him here.”
“I made a terrible mistake.”
Logan was confused by the sorrow in her voice.
“Alec creates dissention among my 49s where there was none before. He was never meant to be with us. He was meant for the world and all its sickening inhabitants.” She looked sadly towards the helicopter. “I have come to terms with my decision to leave him behind. It wasn’t a very easy one to make but it is what must be done.”
“What exactly are you saying, doctor?”
“I’m proposing a truce. You let me go my way and I’ll do you the same favor.”
“Eyes Only is a rather large secret and I would assume you would like it kept that way.”
“Logan,” Max warned from behind him. “That chopper. Its got… its got other X5s in it.”
Before the sliding door was opened for Gabriel, Logan could only make out the shadowy forms of passengers behind the tinted plexi-glass. But when the transgenic eagerly climbed in Logan suddenly caught a glimpse of two other people inside that looked very familiar. One was thin and pale and the other wore sunglasses that hid most of his face.
“Don’t worry,” the doctor assured them. “None of those are any of your concern.”
“I’m not so sure about that,” Logan hand moved towards his gun. “Don't they get any say in this?”
“Why?” she asked. “Do they look particularly unhappy to be in my care? For all my extensive precautions with my X5-49s, they remain with me for no other reason than any other child would with its proper family. And until I decide otherwise their lives belong to me.”
“Where’s Alec?” Max demanded. “Better start talkin’ now while we’re still good friends doing each other favors.”
“I have set my security system to purge the grounds. There will be no trace left of me or my work here when the cycle has been completed. Everything contained in my labs has already been destroyed,“ her voice wavered for a moment. “I suggest you find whatever you need and leave before the final sequence starts and the fires become unmanageable.”
“Elaine,” Logan grabbed the sleeve of her coat. “Please?”
“How do I really know my name won’t become the subject of the next Eyes Only broadcast?”
“You have my word.”
The doctor’s eyes narrowed in contemptuous disbelief. Time was running out fast and Logan had to say something quick or she'd leave them with a burning house and a wave of goodbye. The first thing that came to his mind made him sick to his stomach, but it was the honest truth.
“And because… even though I think your methods are monstrous, I think your research has resulted in good things.” Logan looked her in the eye. “I believe that what you’re doing is saving lives.”
Elaine Gaboriault’s absent smile returned.
“The last time I saw Alec he was in his bedroom. Third floor in the east wing,” she tugged on her leather gloves. “If he survives please tell him I will always remember him. Tell him he was the closest to success I hope to ever come.”
And with that she walked to the waiting helicopter and got in. The engines instantly began churning into a deafening whine as it got ready to lift off and take to the sky. Logan glanced through the trees at the massive mansion she had lived in for so many years in near-perfect hiding. Thin trails of smoke were starting to wind up from its rooftops.
Max had already blurred into the thin forest.
The helicopter hovered momentarily over the manicured lawns before it quickly ascended and vanished into the clouds, taking the doctor and her collection of X5-49s away. As Logan made to follow Max, he briefly imagined a new compound already built and ready for their immediate occupation. Somewhere down in the tropics or maybe even a cold place far in the north. Where ever it was, Logan knew he would never see her or her transgenics again.
And strangely enough, the thought didn‘t make him as glad as it should have.
Alec still hadn't roused even after Logan checked his vitals for the one-hundredth time.
Everything between the burning mansion and getting downtown had been a non-stop blur of panic and motion. By the time Logan had reached the fire, Max had already come back out of it. Alec had been in her arms, covered in a damp sheet she’d used to protect him from the heat. Her mouth and nose had been blackened from smoke inhalation, her limbs twitched and faltered from running too hard on adrenaline that was finally running out.
Logan barely remembered how they got back to the main road. Cindy’s anxious smile and the waiting car was like some miracle from up above. And as soon as they hit the sector check point they saw a lot of sirens headed the way they’d just came. Max sent Cindy home and then took the car to a long term storage lot.
Then it was time for Logan to take Alec and go hide.
There were a lot of safe houses downtown but this one was the deepest and darkest of them all. The hole was the sub-cellar beneath a basement in an abandoned high rise down by the water. Two floors underground and half flooded, it had one bare light bulb to illuminate the entire place. Some squatters had used it at some point in its career as a crack den so there was some moldy furniture left behind.
Logan knew Alec didn’t need a doctor but he paced the wet concrete for an hour thinking about calling one anyway. After wiping the soot and ash off the transgenic’s face he looked pale but fine. Another check of his slow but steady pulse only reconfirmed that Gaboriault had given him some drug as a going away present. Maybe she had considered it a mercy for when the flames reached his locked room and he would be fast asleep and unable to suffer.
Touching the soft sweater Alec wore, Logan wondered again at the serene gray color.
The very back room had a bed frame that had kept its mattress off the damp floor. More than glad it was too dark to see, Logan collapsed on the musty blankets and thought about how nice it would be if he could finally let go and get some sleep. Cindy was in the clear. Max was stashing the car and the plates. Alec was… Alec was right here in the next room sleeping off a strong dose of a hefty tranquilizer. Every door was locked. Every phone was quiet. Every thing … dare he think it…. was fine.
Logan let his eyes close and oblivion creep in.
A small noise startled him. It was followed by another much louder noise. And then another and another.
He was up and out of bed before he could even think.
“Alec, are you okay?”
Realizing too late that he’d left his gun somewhere on the floor with his phone, he cursed the single light bulb that barely lit up the place. There was an old sofa in the front room and Alec was no longer on it. Logan suddenly understood the reason for the loud noises and saw an old chest of drawers knocked over onto its side.
Alec was leaning over it and panting frantically like he couldn’t catch his breath. When Logan stepped closer he saw a few other things in the room had been pushed over. Some chairs. The table. An old telephone that wasn’t plugged in to anything.
“J-Just take it easy, Alec. You’re out of that house. We’re downtown in that building Sebastian let the S1W meet for a while…” Logan paused when it appeared Alec wasn’t responding to a word he was saying. Thinking of his cell and how fast Max could arrive if needed, Logan decided to keep his distance and try again. “You’re safe, Alec. It’s just us and some roaches. Do you understand what I’m saying? You‘re safe.”
Alec turned around slowly and faced him with a strange and uncertain stance. His breathing had changed, from fierce to tentative, like an animal testing the air. With the light so dim, all Logan could make out was Alec’s small smile before the X5 started coming right at him.
That’s when Logan saw his eyes.
He didn’t know he was backing up until he hit the wall behind him. And then Alec was suddenly and very carefully touching Logan’s face, his hands finding and then happily removing his glasses. It was at that moment that Logan realized that Alec couldn’t see. After another second of shock he also comprehended that the X5 couldn’t hear a single thing Logan was saying either.
“L...Lo-gon.” Alec held up the glasses triumphantly. “You ah Logon.”
Logan stared at the overjoyed grin for another full minute before he finally got it.
Alec wasn’t blind or deaf.
However, some other transgenic that looked just like him certainly was.