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... 3 x 01 Shaken ...


Joshua's hands still trembled and when he licked his fingers, he could still taste the blood of his enemy. The enemy who killed Annie Fisher, the only real friend he ever had. The canine creature sat on his haunches and stared straight ahead. He didn't see any of the things that were going on around him, all he saw was Ames White and how he had been so close to killing him if it hadn't been for Max who held him back.
It had been a couple of days since the hostage-drama in the Jam Pony Office and until now, the police had not shown up here in their own mutant district of Terminal City. But they had surrounded the district and there were only a few ways out left for them to take. Fortunately, until now the police had not found out about those secret ways.
Mole and two others were busily talking about how to deal with their big problem. Logan, Sketchy and Max had joined them. Mole, who could never agree with anything, started to shout when Max wanted them all to stay put for a couple of days before they would begin to communicate with the sector police and the government about their right to be and stay here.
"If I had something to say here, I'd say that we kick their asses!" Mole yelled. His dark green face got even darker and his yellow lizard pupils shone brightly. They always did that when he was upset.
"Oh shut up, lizard-boy!" Alec said from a little distance. Mole turned around and started to argue with Alec about the usage of weapons on X5-Series and in return, Alec started to laugh like crazy.
"You know, pretty boy, I could take you out as easily as a light bulb." Mole snored.
"Yeah right, just try and get me…" Alec snapped back.
"Guys! Stop this bickering, will ya? It's very distracting to listen to a pair of childish idiots going on about stupid stuff like that!" Max sneered and both of the guys shut up right away.
Suddenly, they were all startled by a cry from the guards. "Someone is coming!"
All of the guards drew their pistols and shotguns and moved towards the entry of the huge machine hall. From outside they heard shouts of anger and frustration. It happened too often lately that strangers came here. Luke banged his gun against the rail and jumped up the three steps of the steel ladder to get to the small window just beneath the roof.
"Who is it?" Mole wanted to know.
"Some…girl!" Dix yelled back.
"Yeah, some girl…" confirmed Luke who had a better sight on the narrow street that led to the main entrance. "She's alone and it seems that she is unarmed."
"Human?" Mole inquired.
"Hard to tell, unfortunately." Luke said and looked out again.
"Some girl? All alone here in Terminal City?" Alec's interest was peaked. He sneaked up to where Luke stood and glared out of the window. "Yeah…some very beautiful girl!" he stated. "Shall I go and meet her?"
"No!" Max said. "Luke, get your men out there and show her our hospitality."
"Hey Maxie, you gotta ease up a little here…" Alec said but Max interrupted him.
"Ease up? Alec, we don't know who she is, maybe she was sent by White and consorts to kill us. Or maybe she is just a very curious girl looking for trouble." She suddenly missed Original Cindy, Logan and Sketchy even more. They had to go, staying here in Terminal City would have not been very good for their health. And OC would probably given Alec the speech of his life after what he had just said.
"One girl to kill us all?" Alec laughed. "Well, we'll see." He turned around to watch Luke and Dix move out to lead her in.

They came in only a few moments later. The girl had her hands over her hand and Luke pointed a gun at her head while they moved towards the big group. She had long blond hair, a slightly round face and big blue eyes. She was tall, too, about 5"7' the least. Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks were reddened by the quite cold wind. She was wearing a black leather jacket over a light blue pullover with blue jeans. It looked rather ordinary, but compared to what most of them wore, she didn't look too different from them. Alec jumped down and rushed over to the newcomer. But before he could welcome her in his very own and special way, Max talked to her.
"Who are you and how did you get in here?" Max inquired as she walked up to the stranger.
"My name is Evelyn Sanders, but you can call me Evie. I came through the gate close to the railroad. There were only a few sector cops and I was able to sneak through unseen. You must be Max! And you must be Logan!" the strange girl answered in a very friendly way.
"How do you know my name?"
"I know many things."
"Listen, Missy, I don't know what you are talking about, but you better explain yourself. Who or what are you? You seem to be pretty comfortable among us."
"My designation is X-8. X-8/1 to be specific." Evelyn smiled. She brushed back a strand of her long blond hair and continued to speak. "I am the only one of this series, and the last one that Sandeman, or father, made, at least partially. The last one who escaped Manticore. The last one to have seen all the data." She said. "And…well, I think I am the only one who can help you, Max." she carried on in a low voice.
"What?" Max looked at her like at a lunatic.
"There is a cure…for you and Logan."
"How the hell do you know about this?"
"I am an X-8, I know these things. I know a lot…But you probably don't know much about us, or me. You left before I was made, before the latest plan of Manticore and Sandeman was turned into reality. I was the pet of Madame X, the woman you know as Mrs. Renfro. Or better, the woman you knew…I heard that she died when Manticore came down." She said with a slight smile. She took of her leather jacket. On her blue sweatshirt there was a print of a crazy cartoon doll with a wide smile and braces saying: Kiss me. Alec watched from afar and smiled when he saw the print on her shirt.

Logan had come over to Max, so had Joshua. The dog-like creature still looked a little lost. He tried to hide his true feelings from Max. He knew that she didn't like the idea of Ames White still running around there but then why hadn't she let him kill him when he had the chance?
"You know father?" The canine creature asked and leant over to her. His long brown hair hung before his face and slowly, Evie lifted one hand to brush back his hair, but Joshua jerked back his head.
"I am sorry…" she whispered. "I didn't mean to…" Joshua ducked away and stepped back. "Actually, I don't know him personally, only from what I read about in the files…"
Now Alec moved closer and poked his head over Logan's shoulder. "Alright man, what is it with women and dogs?"
"Shut up!" Logan replied.
"Show me your barcode!" Max ordered.
With another of her innocent and sincere smiles she turned around and lifted her hair to reveal the identity tattoo on the back of her neck.
"This one looks different to the others I've seen so far. It has 15 digits." Logan said.
Evie looked at him intensely. "Why, yes. Of course, mine looks different. I am an X-8, Max is an X5. Her 12-digit barcode shows her identity number, mine shows that, too, and something else. As you can imagine, my identity number is a little too short, so they put in something else."
"You don't know?" Logan asked with wide-open eyes.
"No. But I hoped that you might know something?"
Logan shook his head. "No, why do you think we know something?"
"I was just hoping that you…well, that you know something about the newest project…maybe you have found the files…"
"Files?" Logan asked. "What files?"
"When Manticore burned to the ground, and Renfro got killed while trying to safe the data, someone took the case with all the documents and the database. I am not sure what their original plans were, but Lydecker interfered. He stole the case. And I am sure that he already gave you some of the information he's found there. You have to know that after you fled, Lydecker hadn't been allowed to work with the newly acquired data on how to put the genes together for the newer versions like the X-6 and X-7. Renfro and someone else whose name I don't know and hadn't been able to find out, started some new experiments which result I am, obviously. Although Sandeman had started working on my cocktail long ago."
"I don't get it, why do you know all these things?" Max asked again.
"It's in my genes somehow… I don't know exactly why or how, but I learn very fast, I am a quick study. I mean, I learnt everything from files and books that I could get my hands onto before Renfro's apartment got taken apart by some very nice looking fellas." Evie said. Her blue eyes darkened a little. "Is there a place where we can talk? I mean, without all of them to listen?"
Max nodded to Mole and Dix to stand down their weapons and led the girl into some room at the back of the main hall.

When Max closed the door behind Logan and Evie, she turned to face the blond girl. "So spit it out!"
"Yes, sure. I better start at the beginning…my beginning. I was made only 6 years ago. Although I look like a 22 year old girl, I have been around for only a few years." She smiled lopsided. Logan noticed that there was a certain sadness in her eyes. "I can't say that I have ever envied you for your life back at Manticore, for the training and harassment and terror they've put you through, but my short life hasn't been as fun as you may think." Evelyn slowly raised her left hand and Logan and Max could see a long white scar trailing from her fingers to her wrist on the back of her hand. It looked like the trace of a needle that had been sticking in the veins of her hand for a long time. "This is just a small souvenir that I got from my own personal Manticore. As I already told you, I was made in the lab, but most of the time I spent at Renfro's office and in her apartment." She chuckled. "Well, and when mommy's not home, the bad kid sneaks into the office and starts browsing through the files."
She saw the confusion in the eyes of Logan and Max. "After you fled, they reviewed all the data they had on you and the other X-series, and they started to develop the X-6. But that project kind of failed because many of the kids died of progeria and some suffered severe brain damage. I am pretty sure that you remember your fits when your brain doesn't produce enough serotonine and you have to use tryptophan to cover up that insufficiency. The early X-6 had something like that, but it was even worse. No enzyme could be found to make up for it, so the meds at Manticore called it a day and left the kids to die. Only few could be trained, but those who could be trained were almost perfect soldiers. And for the X-7 only a few genetic codes could be securely worked with. That's why most of them looked the same. They're all clones. And then they made me, also before you destroyed the lab, the DNA samples, everything they had based their work on. Lydecker had nothing to do with creating me, he was against it. I once heard him argue with Renfro about me. He said that with completing the last sequence, she'd turn me into a monster. Fortunately she didn't have the time because she was busy getting that virus into you so that you kill Logan. You know, this one is different. On Tinga's son they used Nanosites to infect him, but the biological agent you are carrying is, well, how can I say, the finest of genetic engineering. I know it sounds ironic, but plainly speaking, that is what it is."
"Phhh!" came from Max.
"Sorry, Max. You know, I only know the facts…I can only imagine how you must feel…" Evie looked down. "I was there when Tinga died…" she whispered. "I was there when Renfro locked her up in this tank. I have no clue why they did it…"

"Anyway, now why are you here? How did you get out?" Max inquired to fight against the sad memories of that day. Zack had died, too, for her, to save her. Manticore had taken the lives of those she loved the most and concerning Zack, they had done something even more evil than she could have ever thought possible.
"Well, that's pretty easy. You know, sometimes you get pretty nosy and then you get punished by good ol' mommy. Home is not the best place to do that, so you better do that in a facility where no one asks stupid questions when you walk in there with a Transgenic on your hand. No better place than Manticore, now is there? And well, bad kids sometimes get a good beating. I am pretty sure that you know what I am talking about. Still, their brainwashing methods didn't really work on me, and one of the guards put me in a cell right before the buildings exploded. One of the X-6 kids went the wrong direction and came across my cell, so they opened the door and helped me out. How lucky that Nicholas got there…"
"Nicholas?" Max asked.
"Hey, you're not the only ones with names…We gave each other names right away. I once read this book in Renfro's office, a book with a fairytale ending. About a brother and his sister, his name Nicholas, her name Evie. Although I didn't know the X-6 before the time we met, he reminded me so much of the boy in the book. He had been older than I was at the time, but well, now I am the older sister. At first we went along with the X-7, but then we teamed up with other X-5 and X-6 and they all were killed at the meeting point. Nick was shot, too, but I had been able to drag him away into the forest where they couldn't find us. There we found others that were hiding, hiding from the soldiers that killed all the others. And I've seen you there, Max, you and this other X-5. And since that they, Nick and I followed you. Of course, sometimes it was quite hard to keep track and during the first weeks, we had to go through the X-7's who tried to get back to Manticore to regroup. Unfortunately, the one who killed the others didn't kill them. So we had them on our ass and we had to fight them…"
"Did you receive any training back at Manticore?" Max asked.
"If you mean the weapon, fighting and soldiers blah blah blah training, no, sorry. But I was trained on critical medical emergencies and well, conditioned to store lots of data right here…" Evie said and pointed one finger to her head. "But, hey, kicking bad boys asses has always been fun. I am not that good, but it had been enough to survive, but hey, they were not after me, were they?" Evie smiled.

"But why would you help us?" Max whispered.
"Well, girls kick ass, don't they?" Evelyn giggled. Then she grew serious. "No really, I think that's what I was made for. I didn't have much time to study the files of the virus before Renfro caught me and most of the memory had been wiped out during their desperate tries to brainwash me. But as far as I know and remember, they made the virus with the X-8 DNA sequence to match the DNA of both of you. And since I am the only X-8, I figured that with my blood or stem cells or whatever, we might be able to take the bitch down?" She looked around and saw Logan wince.
"Could it be true?" he whispered to Max. "Really?"
"I don't know…" Evie heard her whisper back. "We'll find out about that…maybe there is something in the data Lydecker gave us after Manticore went down." Then she turned back to Evie. "I guess you can stay…"
Logan interfered. "Where is this Nicholas you've spoken about?"
"He's back in our hide-away. I told him to stay there until I've spoken to you."
"And where is that?"
"Sector 4. I'll go and get him."
"No, it is too dangerous. One of us will go and get him." Max said and opened the door. "Joshua!" she shouted and the canine creature jumped over to them.
"Evie, where exactly is your friend?" Max asked the blond girl.
"Sector 4, I told you, by the old gas station, close to the…What in the world…" For a moment she tried to catch her breath. "I know you…" she whispered. "Now I remember. You were down in the lower departments…"
"I don't remember you." Joshua said.
"That's alright, how could you. I mean, I was probably only 5 years old and looked like 18 or something. And I looked a little different back then. Renfro always kept my hair short."
"Still don't remember you…" replied the canine creature.
"Joshua…" Max said. "There's something I need you to do. Do you know how to get into the sewers and all the way into Sector 4?"
Joshua nodded in excitement. "Yes Max, sewers under the city."
"Exactly, big fella! You must get to the old storehouse. There is a kid waiting to be picked up, an X-6. Don't scare him, though, he's probably never seen any of your kind."
Joshua nodded and scurried off.
"Thank you, Max!" Evie said.
"No big deal. We have to stick together. Things have gotten a little too hostile out there." Max replied and walked out of the room.

Alec smiled at Evie and moved closer. "So, you're gonna stay?"
"Well, I think so." Evie smiled back. "Who are you?"
"My name is Alec. And you?"
"Evelyn…but didn't you hear that when Max asked me before?"
"Sure, but I wanted to hear it again from you." Alec chuckled. "So, Evie…You're an X-8? Never heard of them."
"Well, it was a new kind of perfect soldier, but they made only me. Guess they had been having too much time on their hands." Evie eyed Alec but found nothing that made her worry too much. He was just one of the many guys with a big ego and a big mouth. There were obviously no differences between normal humans and Manticore manufactured Transgenics.

Joshua came back and announced himself with loud barking. It sounded like a wolf in a night with a full moon.
"What happened?" Dix shouted from his outpost nearby the small window beneath the roof when he spotted the dog-like creature.
"Is something wrong?" Logan asked, looking up from his makeshift computer. The Transgenics have tried their best to get him what he needed for Eyes Only, but it was very hard work to get everything set up. Right now he was having lots of trouble with the satellites and the network connections he had been using before.
Nobody answered him.
"Joshua!" This was Max's voice from downstairs. "What did you do?"
Logan stood up from his chair in front of the computer and looked over the rail. Joshua was carrying a boy, a young man with dark hair.
"I didn't do anything." Joshua defended himself. "But he wouldn't stop screaming. So I…" He jerked out his paw and Max understood.
"Is he still alive?"
"Of course…I didn't hurt him, just made him be quiet for a while." He sniffed the hair of the boy and then looked at Max with puppy-dog eyes. "Sorry, Max…"
"It's alright. Just put him over there and pray that you didn't break his jaw." But Max smiled. "Thank you, big fella."
Joshua chuckled and carefully placed the black-haired boy on an old and almost rotten couch on the far side of the main hall.
Evie, who had been talking with Alec about her childhood and pretty much retelling everything she already said to Max, except the part with the virus, saw him from the corner of her eyes and when she realized who Joshua was carrying, she left Alec in the middle of one of his oh so brilliant sentences and ran over to the canine creature.
"Nick!" she shouted when she recognized him and then cried: "What did you do to him?"
Joshua knelt down and started to apologize. "Didn't mean to hurt your friend, but his screaming hurt my ears…he didn't want to stop…even though I explained. Told him that I was going to bring him to you, but he didn't listen. He ran away first and then screamed again, loud, too loud. I was scared that somebody heard him and…" he again made this gesture with his paw to show her that he hadn't intended to hurt him. "Sorry, Evie…"
"Oh…" made the blond girl. "He screamed? Did he have a fit? He usually doesn't even say anything, at least not to strangers. Maybe you scared the hell out of him…"
Joshua frowned and growled a little.
Evie apologized immediately. "I didn't mean it like that, but I am pretty sure that he didn't see someone like you before, ever. He didn't know you weren't gonna kill him. He was probably just scared to death." She smiled a little and took Nick's cold hands.

The boy woke up with a silent shriek and a look in his eyes saying: "Where the hell am I and what the hell happened?" He threw himself against the concrete wall.
"Stop or you'll hurt yourself, mate. It's not gonna help. And for the explanation part here: you were out for nearly 3 hours. You didn't miss anything, 'coz nothing happened except you waking up and scaring the hell out of me." Alec had been sitting next to the couch on an old chair and now leant over to him and frowned. "You look ok. No traces of Josh's little exercise on you."
"Uh?" Nicholas couldn't help feeling lost on what the other guy had just said.
"Don't you remember? That big hairy thing that found you?"
Nick shook his head, still trying to get rid of the numbness that spread across his face from his jaw. He put one hand to cover his mouth and then looked at it, almost waiting to see blood. There was none. "…no remember…sumthin big…sumthin else." Nicholas whispered monotonously.
"Yeah, and you screamed like a girl." Alec chuckled.
Nick growled and threw a devastating glance at him.
"Now don't do that dog number on me. One of the dawgy dawgs is more than enough here." The X-5 said and suddenly felt the gentle but firm prod of a paw on his shoulder. He flinched a little but then turned and smiled at Joshua's broad dog-like face. "No offence, bro'!" With one hand he took the paw of Joshua and removed it from his shoulder before he stood up.
"Hey Evie!" he shouted and both Evie and Max turned around. "Your little brother is awake."
Nicholas arched upright on his bedstead and smiled reproachful when Evie approached. "Sis let me wait long!" he snorted.
"Oh you shut up. After what I've heard, you've given Joshua quite a hard time getting you here." Evie smiled and ran a hand through his thick black hair. The boy looked like 20 something, but he acted like a 15 year old teenager. Still, he was Evie's family.
"Others?" Nick demanded.
"No, Nick, those are not the others. But they are friendlies. No worries, baby brother, everything will be alright now."
Max listened up and came closer. Her feline DNA made it so easy just to listen to anything that was going on around here, even though the others were making a hell of a noise. She had been standing with Mole and Logan to discuss the security around the perimeter of Terminal City.
"Others?" the female X-5 asked when she was close enough to Evie and Nick without having to shout at them to overcome the noise.
Evie looked at her in surprise, she hadn't heard her approach them. "Yes, there were others. Erin, Shay, Chloe and Aaron, X-5's and X-6's. But we lost them. Nick thought he'd seen them in town a couple of days ago, that was the first reason why I came here, the second one was that I wanted to let you in on the few information I had."
Nick spoke up again. "Found others too?"
Evie bent down and touched his cheek. "Not yet, kiddo, not yet. Maybe we'll find them soon."
"See them in street!" Nick went on and stood up. "See them!"
"I know, Nick, I know." Evie tried to calm him down. "I believe you, you know that!"

Suddenly Joshua was beside her, looking at the young boy. He growled a little and Nick growled back.
"Hey there…" the canine Transgenic said with a smirk. "Sorry if I hurt you. I didn't mean to…" he said apologetically.
Nicholas looked at him, obviously not comprehending what he had just heard.
Joshua waved a clawed paw right in front of the face of the boy, then frowned.
It took Nick a moment or two, then he smiled. "No biggie, not hurt." He extended a hand. "Name Nick!" he stated.
Vigorously Joshua took it and shook it.
Evelyn smiled and sighed. It had been long since she had seen him so happy.
"Why does he speak like that?" Alec had appeared behind her.
The blond girl turned around, still with that peaceful smile on her face. "He is an X-6, one of the first ones. He suffered some kind of brain damage during his first years and although they treated him with strong medicine and the usual Manticore strictness, his brain cells did not regenerate. They trained him nonetheless. He's a very clever one, but he cannot really say what he wants to say." Evie explained. "He's very talkative today." She flashed him a sincere smile.
"You look happy…"
"Happy when he is…" Evie said and then went back to Nick who was playing with Joshua. Max stood beside them and smiled, too. Now Joshua had a friend and she had some, even if only a little hope.
"So…" Alec said, "How old did you say you were? I didn't get that, I think."
"Oh, so you haven't been dropping eaves all the time?" Evie smiled.
Did she just really see a flush across Alec's face? If so, it vanished as quickly as it had appeared in the first place.
"You're gonna tell me?" He asked again. He was getting a little edgy because he was not used to someone talking back to him like that except Max.
"You really want to know?"
"'Course! Why wouldn't I?! Alec replied with a frown.
"Ok, you wanted it that way. I am 6 years old." The blond girl said and grinned slightly.
"Oh I get it! You're pulling my leg!" The young man chuckled but kept his hazel eyes locked to hers.
"Ahm, no. And to be honest, I never really understood this expression anyways."
"You're being serious here, aren't you?" Now he understood the strange look she gave him.
"I am."
"Oh my…" Alec coughed a little. "You sure don't look like that." He cocked his head. "Really? I mean..really?"
Evie smiled. "Yeah! Now that did shock you, eh?"
"Yeah, a little…just a little. I mean…I don't know. Another strange creature Manticore cooked up."
The girl nodded. "Right. Although I don't really know why I was made. You know, I'll die in a couple of years anyway. My life span is quite short compared to yours. But keep your shirt on, there's nothing you gotta be worrying about." Still, she kept her smile.
Alec frowned a little but said nothing.



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