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Fic: Alliance Escapees

Title: Alliance Escapees
Summary: Manticore was an alliance project
Warnings/Spoilers: All of Firefly, all of Dark Angel.

It took a long time for Mal to get the new crew member’s full measure. River had been the one to find the woman, right at the time that Zoe needed to back off from her more dangerous tasks. Wash had put his foot down for once and insisted that she take it easy now that she was pregnant, and so Zoe had (reluctantly) stepped aside and let the new girl take over. He was pretty sure that this wouldn’t be a long-term arrangement, and also that Zoe had checked very thoroughly to make sure Max was good enough to keep him alive. His first mate’s approval was the lynchpin to Max’s acceptance, along with the implicit nod from his little albatross.

The thing was, Max was surprisingly good at a lot of things. She ended up becoming the field medic when Jayne got himself shot, using methods that Simon pronounced as crude but effective. She could fly the ship if called to do it, though she didn’t really like it. She was even a passable engineer. She kept her past to herself, but that was the right of anyone and everyone on the ship.

Mal got his first real insight into Max about seven weeks after she joined up, when the Operative tracked them down on some backwater planet. He could see the woman’s hackles rise before she launched herself at the Alliance man. “X3’s are old news,” she sneered once she took him down. One elbow was planted squarely between his shoulder blades as she held him in place with contemptuous ease, face down on the filthy floor of a dusty bar. “They should have sent a real challenge.”

“I’m just here to talk, 452.”

Mal heard a sound remarkably like the growl of some kind of big cat. “My name is Max.” She punctuated this with a knee to the Operative’s kidneys. “You want to talk? Get started.”

There was a tight smile. “Right. Have you seen 494?”

“No, I haven’t seen Alec in a while,” she gritted out. “What’s he done this time?”

“I don’t know, but the Alliance has stepped up efforts in looking for both of you.”

Mal saw a flash of worry when Max glanced at him, quickly hidden by anger and annoyance. “You tell them they can kiss my transgenic ass. I don’t belong to anybody. That all you’ve got to say?’

“I am not the Alliance’s man anymore. You’ll have to tell them yourself.”

Max sneered again and moved away from him and over to Mal’s side more quickly than he could track. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass, 317,” she said.

The Operative stood up smoothly, unhurried, and dusted himself off. “You’ll do well to keep hold of this one, Captain Reynolds. One of the best in her generation, even if she can’t follow orders.” With that parting shot he walked calmly out of the bar, looking for all the world like he hadn’t just had his ass kicked by a girl.

A year and change with River hanging around had taught Mal at least some patience, so he waited until after they’d met with their contact and were heading back to the ship to ask. “What the hell was that all about?”

She looked at him for a moment, her eyes reminding him uncomfortably of River. “River’s told you about the Academy?”

“And you were one of her classmates?”

Max smiled, the expression sharp on her pretty face. “I’m what they were trying to recreate. I’m X5, fifth generation transgenic. Designed from the genes up to be the ultimate soldier.” The smile disappeared as she turned toward the horizon. “They were trying to shortcut the process when they set up the Academy. Didn’t really work out the way they wanted.”

“And the Operative?”

“X3-317?” she asked scornfully. “Obsolete. He’s from two generations ago, can’t even manage to pick up a name of his own. They built them loyal back then, but it took years of training before they started thinking strategically. They tried to build back a little more independence in the next two models.” She shrugged. “The doctors would probably say they overshot, if we’d left any of them alive.”

“So you escaped.”

“Every X5 and higher escaped. We torched the facility on the way out, a little chur ni-dah to those hwoon dahn. Too expensive to rebuild, so they turned up the heat at the Academy.” Her expression was opaque now, a mask that he’d seen on Inara when she was boxing up her emotions. “Then we did what we were trained to do. Escape. Evade. Adapt.”

Mal had a feeling he didn’t want any more details, just like he didn’t want to hear about the finer points of what had happened to River. “Are we gonna have trouble with the Alliance looking for you? ‘Cause I spent the last year or so harboring fugitives, and it weren’t no picnic.”

“It’s a big ‘verse.” Max grinned, this time open and happy. “I’ll handle anything that comes up.”

“Reckon you can,” Mal replied.

Translations (taken from browncoats.com):
chur ni-dah - screw you
hwoon dahn - bastards

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
nyx_girl
May. 5th, 2013 01:06 am (UTC)
ohh I liked it!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )