Categories > TV > Dark Angel > Early Days0 Reviews
An eagerly awaited day has come at last for X5-494.
A dozen X5s and X6s stood at ease around the mat in the middle of the training ground, watching two of their fellow soldiers circle each other warily. The day was mild for November in Wyoming, and a watery sun reflected on the barracks roof. Snowcapped mountains rose in the distance while birds twittered in the forest, their carefree song mingling with the hard breathing of the two transgenics inside the circle.
494 charged his opponent, lashing out with a kick that would have broken bones if it had connected. With an effort, the other X5 avoided the blow. A match in size, skill and strength, he caught 494's ankle and flipped him back. A normal human would have landed hard on their back, but 494 used his own momentum to somersault head over heels and land, catlike, on his own two feet, grunting with the impact. He winked at his opponent. "Nearly had you there."
The other nodded. "True. But /nearly/'s never good enough, 494."
Balancing on their toes, the two started dancing around each other again, looking for an opening, a moment of distracted attention, that they could use to their advantage and finish the match. Their martial arts instructor, a black-belt Special Ops officer on loan from Quantico, was kneeling at the edge of the mat, his eyes never leaving the two X5s. Technique-wise, he was the better fighter, which is why he'd been hired to teach. However, if the supersoldiers ever turned on him, he would be no match for the transgenics' superior speed and strength.
Suddenly, the PA-system crackled to life. A disembodied voice blared across the training grounds, shattering the concentrated silence. Some of the younger X6s jumped in surprise, then glared at their older brethren who chortled with amusement.
"X5-494. You are to report to the colonel's office. On the double!"
The two X5s in the circle straightened. "Looks like we gotta go with undecided," 494 grinned.
"Lucky for you," his opponent said. "I was about to kick your ass."
494 snorted. He turned to the training officer. "Permission to leave, sir?"
494 threw him a quick salute and jogged away. Behind him, the officer ordered two X6s to the mat to demonstrate their skills.
Colonel's Lydecker's office was on the second floor of the administration building. It was not a place X5-494 visited often, and the few times he had been ordered to report to Manticore's commanding officer, it had not been an enjoyable experience. Thus it was with some trepidation that he climbed the steps, boots echoing on the vinyl-covered concrete steps, wondering why he had been called away from practice.
God, I hope they haven't found out about Saturday night's trip to Gillette!
If they had, it would most definitely mean a stint in isolation to 'think on the consequences of subordination', at the least. Still, he had been so careful not to get caught... Maybe that fellow Bill at the gate had ratted on him after all. Maybe his girlfriend hadn't liked the cologne 494 got him as much as he'd hoped and this was his petty revenge. He could've just asked for his money back, damn him.
At the top of the staircase 494 stopped and dusted off his fatigues. He ran a hand across his short-cropped hair to ensure he was presentable before he knocked on the door to the colonel's office.
"Enter," Lydecker replied. His voice sounded muted through the thick wood.
"X5-494 reporting as ordered, sir!"
The colonel wasn't alone. Another man--middle-aged, short, glasses--leaned against the windowsill, his mouth drawn down in skepticism. 494 had never seen him before. He looked like a man who was used to having his orders followed though, despite the sallow skin and pudgy frame that spoke of too many hours spent in artificial lights.
Lydecker got up from his desk. "At ease, soldier."
494 dropped into the more comfortable stance, feet slightly apart and hands clasped behind his back. His eyes focused on a spot on the wall just over his commanding officer's left shoulder.
"494, this is Major Chandler from Homeland Security. He has requested the assistance of a first class operative that can eliminate an enemy of the state and retrieve a disk with vital information without anyone knowing the military was involved. Think we can provide the major with someone like that?"
494, unsure what sort of response, if any, was expected, risked a quick glance at the colonel. A faint smile of amusement played around Lydecker's lips and at the sight, a thrill ran through 494. Was the colonel saying what he thought he was? In any case, he sure as shooting hadn't been called in about his clandestine excursion last weekend. Perhaps Bill had gotten lucky with his lady friend after all.
"Sir, yes sir!"
Lydecker nodded, satisfied. Major Chandler, on the other hand, scowled. "Colonel Lydecker, I understand you think well of your soldiers. But this is supposed to be the best you can offer? He's but a boy!"
A muscle in 494's jaw twitched at the insult. "I was cleared for solo missions last month, sir," he said, fighting to keep the anger out of his voice. He was ready, dammit! And this bonehead from HS was trying to screw with his first chance to prove it.
Lydecker gestured him to silence. "Yes, he's young," he said mildly. "X5-494 was also trained for this from birth. He's qualified in the use of numerous small arms. An expert in various martial arts. Speaks several languages fluently. Possesses a photographic memory, and an IQ that puts you and me to shame. You've seen the file."
494 stood a little straighter even as he blinked. Praise from the colonel? Manticore was generally far quicker to tell him where he fucked up than when he did well. However, though he enjoyed hearing his commanding officer commend him, he knew very well it wasn't for his benefit.
"I did. But I expected someone older." A note of doubt crept into Chandler's voice. "Colonel Lydecker, I don't have to tell you how vital this mission is. To national security, and to your Manticore program. This will be the boy's first solo mission. Are you sure you want him to handle it, and not someone who's more experienced?"
"I have full confidence in X5-494," Lydecker said.
"I hear there were... disciplinary problems?"
"All corrected with a few months of extra training," the colonel said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
494 ignored the shiver that raced down his spine. He'd already missed out on the Quantico redeployment. If the colonel found out about his after-hours trips to Gillette--that would ruin his chance at getting this mission far more surely than the major's doubts.
"He performed excellently this summer in Uzbekistan. And he was with Captain Richardson's command last month."
Chandler quirked a brow in confusion.
"The rescue mission to deliver the US ambassador out of rebel hands, down in Colombia," Lydecker clarified.
The major's eyes widened slightly at that. "That was nothing short of a miracle."
Lydecker nodded. "So, you see, 494 is one of my best."
"All right." Chandler pushed himself up from the sill. The top of the major's head barely reached 494's chin. "We'll give your man--" there was a slight hesitation there, "a chance. If he performs well, we may have further use for your people in the future."
"Thank you, sir!" 494 said. "I won't let you down."