Warnings: Violence- Very/to Slightly-AU
AU- What if Alec had met Ben before his twin was discovered and sentenced him to half a year in Psy-Ops? Because it is set before Max gave Alec his name, in this fiction they are referred (mostly) by their designations. Alec= 494. Ben= 493. (I know most know, but some may not.)
Disclaimer:All DA characters are copyrighted by their respective owners.
rated: R for Violence
"You're late 494."
The office was a lot like Manticore was. Stark, clean, and functional. Doctor Renfro was sitting behind her desk engaged in a quiet conversation in Japanese on her headset. It was a language he had picked up by lingering for little under an hour in a Seattle harbor side dive listening to the boat crews. He had never mentioned that he knew how to speak it fluently in his reports however. As always, there were little details like that which he liked to keep to himself.
Mostly for moments like this.
Renfro looked up at him sharply as she concluded her conversation with a phrase and series of numbers that he did understand but could not decipher. Codes within codes within codes. But he had caught a few choice things that had made perfect sense.
I heard you. He thought to himself. I heard an address and the name of a Hong Kong contact. 494 wondered what it would be like to say the thought out loud and then face the certain consequences. He also wondered how much the information might worth to someone on his next away.
She motioned him to come closer.
He could undo all his secrets just like that. Reveal every rebellious thought they never knew he had. That one declaration would have his status terminated. Annihilated. Or worse. It was fascinating what uttering one sentence to this woman could do. Maybe they didn't know exactly what he was capable of, but the level of caution and secrecy on every level never failed to get to him just a little bit. He fought the smile that wanted to come to his face.
Renfro was studying him intently as she lay her headset down on her desk. Her usual demeanor was slightly different. The subtle lines of worry that furrowed her brow were not something you witnessed often on this woman. Her phone call forgotten, he waited with interest to see what this would be exactly about. If he knew her like he thought he might, he knew he wouldn't have to wait long for her to get to the point.
"Last night, the entire outer security system went down."
He felt his eye brows raise before he could help himself. After the Pulse technology had never been quite what it used to be but Manticore was one of the few entities that never lost its funding and didn't suffer the tribulations the masses endured. Sure a glitch in the works every now and then, but a complete failure at the facility was virtually unheard of.
"Just before we lost all video feed, we captured the most interesting image from one of the perimeter cameras." She swung her chair around and with a tap on her desk top interface activated a series of close circuit monitors on the wall behind her. "We almost missed it but the third redundant trespass monitor was tripped just before we had a full blackout."
He shifted in his at ease position. He hadn't known there was a third system set up.
"The third trespass detectors installation and existence are classified." Renfro continued with a small backwards glance at him. "But to disable the first and second system, now, that would have to take quite a hack."
He already knew what she was alluding to. Whoever took down the system weren't just good, they knew how Manticore worked fairly well. A little too well.
"We only captured one frame."
The screens flickered onto a single image of a man taken from 6 different angles.
The image was dark but unmistakable.
"I told you..." Doctor Renfro swung back to look at him. "It's interesting, isn't it? According to barracks video records you were bunked down when this was taken. In fact, you were just entering 4th stage REM sleep.""
He wasn't sure why he felt so surprised or even to some degree, shocked. He had suspected there might be X5s that looked and sounded like he did. No one had ever told him if he had been cloned or twinned, or both. You didn't ask questions like that. So he had a brother. It was really strange, he thought, when and how you discovered things about yourself in Manticore.
"He went rogue almost a decade ago." She crossed her arms and sat back. "But it looks like X5-493 is back in town."
The issue was understood. "His location mam?"
"The hack was a good one." She sighed. "We only got the entire system back up within the last hour. My men traced his activity back across the southern perimeter and we have a missing vehicle."
494 listened doubtfully.
Outer security system down for almost 12 hours? An X5 can cover a lot of ground in a day. He silently calculated his own average foot speed and transportation variables in which one would need to conduct a command to search and retrieve. 12 hours. A search would be a futile attempt. That X5 was gone. But why had he even been here in the first place? When an X5 runs the last thing they do is ever show their face around here again.
"We are still reestablishing the perimeter just to be sure." She sighed in annoyance. "At 0800 I want you on his last known coordinates and track him."
"Yes, mam." He saluted and turned to leave.
"Oh and 494?"
"Exercise extreme caution."
"The rogue X5s are... unpredictable."
Wondering at the warning, 494 exited the office and made his way through the series of identical looking corridors that lead back to his barracks.
It wouldn't be until morning that his mission would begin and he knew the reason there was no urgency. He figured Renfro expected to find an X5 around just as much as he did. If he was lucky he'd find some of the equipment the X5 had used to bring down the computer that ran the security fence. If he was really lucky maybe he'd find a sign of which direction the X5 had come in and out of the area so they could improve whatever weak spot that had been manipulated to slip in and out almost undetected.
He was still sitting on his bunk thinking when the shrill bell announced the one minute warning to lights out. With a sigh, he lay back on his bunk feeling for the first time in a long time, tired. Renfro's caution aside, another question sat on his mind and nagged at him. It didn't matter how good you were, hack or no hack, if you played around fire for too long you were bound to get burned. Why would a runaway X5 risk Re-Indoctrination?
Why had X5-493 come back?
He knew it wasn't time for revelry. His internal clock was set to his routine better than his issued all weather watch.
All the same, he had been awoken with the grind of his cell door and a slow mumble of a voice that sounded strangely familiar. One rub of his eyes and disentangling from his issued sheet and blanket, and there was a hand clamped hard over his mouth.
He froze recognizing a strength that could challenge his own.
Hazel eyes, just like his, stared down at him. The hard nuzzle of a pistol pressed down and under the flesh of his ribcage and into his stomach.
"We are leaving."
So his twin hadn't left Manticore grounds afterall. 494's limbs reacted before he even could will them not to. But despite their likeness, his brother's strength exceeded his own.
Left bloodied on the floor, the gun tapped him under the chin.
The full blow of the kick to his ribs robbed what was left of his air. He found it hard to focus when the hand grabbed his collar followed by a closed fisted punch to his face. Dazed, his twin whispered instructions into his ear with their shared voice.
The grip on the base of his neck squeezed and threatened to crack it.
If he had ever learned anything, 494 knew when to listen.
He wasn't sure why he didn't jam his clone's plan when they left the barracks. Even with the muzzle of a firearm pressed up under his chin he still had options. It wasn't impossible to tip off one of the many armed guards they passed. One hand signal to a camera that he could have purposely not avoided. Maybe it was just his simple curiosity that ruled over protocol. Besides, what better way to secure a target than to just follow it until he had his best chance? By the time they reached the cover of the forest and no alarm had been raised, his wonder at why his twin was here and why became much more urgent than his standing orders anyway. But his twin, all in all, hadn't been quite forthcoming as to why he was doing what he was doing.
When 494 attempted to ask, he had found himself trying to regain his equilibrium from where he was suddenly laying on the cold damp leaf littered ground. He was rolled onto his face and handcuffed before he could even react. It was a good tactic to subdue your prisoner but leave room for mobility. Who wanted to carry someone when the only way to disappear was by foot?
And he knew his place in the plan at least. A prisoner. But why? 493 went through all this trouble just for him? And where exactly were they going?
Considering how long and fast they had been traveling he figured they were at least 75 clicks north by northeast of the Manticore access road by now. Maybe even more by the feel of the fine muscle tremors that had started in his legs. He hadn't moved this fast for this long since his initial endurance trials as a kid. 75 kilometers in a few hours was something even Lydecker might not even consider on a manhunt. Once again, with the wonders of Manticore technology, you discovered the true limit of what you were made of as soon as something forced you hard enough. Or someone.
The night woods were chill and damp. Cold wet branches whipped at his face and bare arms. Even with the low temperatures his thin gray T-shirt was soaked through with sweat. It would hurt him when they finally slowed down he knew, but for now he was just glad that he had never taken his boots off after lights out.
He stumbled over an exposed tree root but before his knee hit the forest floor strong hands grabbed his wrists and righted him. It wasn't easy moving this fast with his hands bound behind his back. He'd never had much practice at it since because he never let himself get caught. He was too good.
Unfortunately, his twin happened to be better.
X5-493 unexpectedly stopped them both.
He grunted as he was pushed down hard, the double handcuffs cinched tightly behind his back were briefly undone just long enough to secure him uncomfortably around the base of frost covered tree behind him. Uncomfortably seated, his body trembled from the sudden halt in his exertions, his damp shirt clinging to his skin and quickly going to clammy cold. Up above them through the bare black branches and pine, the overcast sky was turning a dull gray with the dawn.
"Did-hey did you know what the first thing was that ever had a barcode?" he inquired, the fog of his breath thick as he panted.
His brother was behind him, checking the cuffs work carefully, adjusting the metal binds until the strain on his arms hovered between pain and agony.
"A barcode," he asked again impatiently. "They haven't been around forever, do you know what they first used them on before anything?"
Oddly enough, 493 hazarded a guess.
"Most likely in hospitals. Or military ordinance."
"Huh." 494 considered these very reasonable answers before he replied. "No, no, the very first barcodes were used on-- ah! Easy there!"
Gritting his teeth, a tentative pull at his wrists and he knew at once that if he tried hard enough his efforts would only break bones. Maybe dislocate both shoulders while he was at it.
His clone had walked back around to face him.
"It-it was first used on packs of gum." he managed to finish. "Wrigleys. Like the old ballpark."
"No kidding." he sighed.
493, for all sakes and purposes, didn't appear like he had expected even though he had seen the frozen image captured on the Manticore surveillance network just like Renfro and her staff had. Of course he knew they shared identical features, but he had expected 493 to look harder, older, dirtier. How many years had he been walking around in the outside and he had managed to stay alive? Ten? Stay alive, hell, it looked like he had thrived. He wasn't in the rags he saw the city dwellers call clothes, he wasn't half gone from hunger or some communicable disease that you could get as easily as drinking tap water.
His twin's shiny black nylon jacket was spotless and un patched. His jeans looked new, an almost impossible task even if you had money and decent contacts in the city. His boots were muddy but kept in good condition, just like all the good little kids in Manticore had been raised to do.
493 probably didn't have the surgical markings of experimental procedures across his back and up onto the insides of his arms. 493 had never been brought back after a failed mission and left in solitary until they remembered to feed him again. This guy didn't have the multiple gun shot scars like he had up and down his torso. All the active X5s were masses of scar tissue and mended bone. How many years eating and drinking without the Manticore drug regiment did it take to become a normal human being? Ten sounded like more than a good round number to him. He laughed a little but it was only to himself.
Well, as normal as their kind could get anyway.
493's green eyes regarded him compassionately.
This is what he could have been. An unscarred man. Kept strong and able from his own victories, moving in the world with the efforts of a genetic superior among the mediocre. Not a tool, with its measured strength regulated by force and compliance, weakened and tempered by its makers by their mishandling of his body and mind so that he could better achieve a goal that never benefited him in the end.
The flash of envy startled him.
"There were three others."
He blinked up at his brother. It was strange to hear his own voice. Like listening to a recording, it sounded so different than what you heard inside of your own head.
"490, 491 and 492."
494 looked down again at the dark wet churned soil he was pushing with the heels of his combat boots. The muscles in his legs had stopped shuddering but now started to painfully cramp up.
For having grown up in one facility all his life he knew about as much of what or who lived several feet away behind steel door as much as he did anything else. It was a hive of secrecy and control. You could live your entire life within those concrete walls and not know what was in every locked room or know just how deep the basement went.
"Have you seen them?" His twin asked softly.
"I looked, but I could-I could only find you."
"And here I am." He replied with a flare of indignance. "By the way, why am I here again?"
493's smile was like looking in a mirror but askew, like a warped pane of glass.
"You are going to help me."
494 stared up into his brother's eyes in confusion. There was something unhinged and unfocused behind the gaze that he should have knew. But there was something different in the man that had his exact DNA match. Something strange.
His twin walked several yards away to a mound of leaves that 494 recognized as a forest camo cover. They were commonly used to cloak equipment and weaponry in forest campaigns. At times, even solider's themselves. The tarp was pulled away in one swift motion causing a flurry of dead leaves to take to the air.
For a moment when the strong smell and the buzz of insects reached him, he thought his brother had uncovered an animal carcass. There were plenty of them out here, animals brought down by a coyote or bear, but when the thick blanket of flies lifted, he saw it was not some four legged prey.
It was human.
The rational solider that existed persistently at the back and sides of his mind catalogued it was an adult male, approximate weight and age, and plausible weapon method used. The uniform identified the victim as a police officer most likely from the highway that ran several more clicks north of Manticore property.
494 was no stranger to death and what it looked like. He was also no stranger to what excess of violence could be done to the human body. As an X5 operative he knew exactly how hard, and how long it was required to end life. His goal was to accomplish this end quickly and efficiently. One of his trainers had called it: Elimination with undue fuss.
But this body.... This was no assassination. This was no mere mission brutality. Completely dismembered, the body had signs of bruising and lacerations that he knew occurred before death. He wasn't certain but maybe even the dismemberments themselves. This was went beyond even what he had seen in the information gathering courses Manticore taught in Torture Theory.
This went beyond professional murder.
This was madness.
It was a vague wonder to him that his profession had actually brought him to the point where he could recognize the difference. But what was this body doing here?
His twin knelt down in front of him and smiled their smile.
"If you help me, we can make Her stronger."
He swallowed. "Her? Her who?"
493 nodded to himself and pulled out a wadded up piece of cloth from the inside of his leather jacket. He began to unroll it to reveal what was kept inside.
"Whoa guy, what the hell is that?!" He tried to keep the small waiver out of his voice but failed.
"This," 493 explained carefully,"...is what makes Her heart strong."
The gauzy material he held in two carefully cupped hands lay stained dark with old blood.
It took 494 a moment to figure out exactly what he was looking at. His eyes widened.
Within its folds were dozens and dozens of teeth. Most with flesh still attached, some cracked from whatever form of extraction had been used. 493 wrapped the bloody teeth back up before reverently putting them back into his jacket.
494 realized he might have been mistaken.
His twin brother wasn't exactly as put together as he looked. With one heaving breath into the frigid morning air, his wrists burning and raw in cold metal, he would have considered the alternative.
But he didn't have one.
to be continued
Part One - Part Two - Part Three (Completed)