A Father's Lament

Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#1
A Father’s Lament
Rating: PG for now
Summary: Why do we hurt the ones we love? Lydecker has a child among the X5s.
Disclaimer: I only own my original characters. Everything else belongs to Fox and James Cameron, etc.


I should have realized it before. I should have recognized her. I should have recognized my own flesh and blood. I should have saved her. I had the power, but I did not use it. Now she lies here before me on one of the infirmary beds. Fluids are being pumped into her body just as the ventilator is forcing oxygen into her lungs. It’s all on the slim prospect of her pulling through this thing- but for what kind of life afterwards? I know what awaits her after recovery. I know what I’ll have to do to her.

I tell myself it’s all for the sake of the organization. I’ve built too much to let it all crumble away – even for her. It would not matter though. I would lose her if they found out. And I can’t do that. God, she looks like her mother. Yet her eyes- were they open I would stare into the same blue I look out of. The rest of her – the shape of her face, dark brows, black hair – it’s all her mother. She had always wanted children someday. Even I know this is not what she would have envisioned.

I reach out my hand and brush aside the strands of hair from her forehead. Her skin is cool beneath my touch. There are things I wish I could tell her, but I’ll never be able to. She doesn’t accept me now and she would never accept me if she knew. I wonder if choosing to bring her into this life she did not choose is the best thing I could have done or the worst. I still have trouble making myself realize that this girl before me is my daughter.
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#2
Chapter 2

Three months earlier…

She was not entirely looking forward to the prospect of seeing her parents again soon. But her stint in the concert halls had ended and she had nowhere else to go. Since she had left a few months before to travel with the orchestra, her parents had been reassigned to a military base out west. It was far from the sprawling slums that had become New York City, where she had spent the last ten years of her life. From what she gathered in their phone conversations the area surrounding the rather small town was untouched wilderness. Mountains and snow. The thought brought up something in her mind. She had a distant memory of snowy woods. Where or when it had been she could not place it. Her childhood memories were sketchy. Everything beyond ten years ago was a blur.

Of course there were some things she remembered. Laughing with her friends, staying up and talking when they were supposed to be sleeping, and running outside. Then there were other less pleasant images. These were the ones she had never shared with anyone. She was certain she would have been committed if she had come out with them.

When the Kinlan family had adopted her they’d known she had problems. Post traumatic stress the doctors had called it. But they had never gotten her to open up about what caused the trauma. Ivy really did not know anymore what it could have been. Maybe it was the sudden shock of being around people that didn’t yell at her all the time. Or maybe there was something her mind had so desperately wanted to forget that she had blocked it out. Perhaps time would tell.

As Ivy stared through the frosted window at the winter scenery going by she leaned her forehead against the glass. It was all she could do to attempt to block out the people sitting around her. A lot of them were probably returning home on the early morning bus same as she was. All she wanted to do right now for some reason was hide away. The sense of dread in her heart had begun to sink in when she had seen the sign as they crossed the state border.

WELCOME TO WYOMING.

* * * *

Ivy wanted to fall asleep as they drove through the dark roads towards the base. Her father had picked her up at the bus station. As they approached their destination the barbed wire fences of the base greeted them as the sedan pulled up to the guard kiosk. Jack handed his pass to the guard who greeted them.

“Out later than usual, Jack,” The guard observed as he checked the pass. “Who’s the passenger?”

“This is my daughter Ivy,” Jack said waving a hand towards the girl in the passenger sea. “Ivy, this is Mike. You’ll see him around.”

Ivy merely smiled and gave a nod.

“A quiet one isn’t she?” Mike remarked. “Can you open the trunk?”

Jack sighed. “Thorough as always, huh, Mike?”

Jack got out of the car and unlocked the trunk. He popped it open and stood aside as the guard observed the contents.

Mike tapped at one of the cases. “What’s this?”

Jack laughed. “Ivy’s cello. Need me to open it?”

“No. I’ll take your word for it. Have a good night, Jack.” Mike went back into the kiosk and opened the gate. He waved to them as Jack got back into the car.

“Not everyone works on the base here. There’s an Air force base outside the town that some of the folks work at,” Jack explained as he pulled through the gate. “But of course I work here not far from home.”

“As usual,” Ivy observed. She sighed. “Dad, why didn’t Mom come with you?”

“Your mother’s sleeping, sweetheart. They’ve had her working double-shifts,” Jack replied.

Ivy stared out the window. “Dad, why did you guys adopt me?”

“Because we love you,” He said without thought.

Ivy scoffed. “You didn’t when you first met me. As I recall you called me ‘a problem child likely to end up in a detention center by the age of twelve’.”

Jack smiled as he turned the car down a street. “You remember everything. Don’t you?”

She met his gaze. “Sometimes I wish I could. There are things I’d like to remember.”

The car stopped as they pulled into a driveway. Jack shut off the engine and turned to Ivy. He placed a hand on her shoulder. “If you’re meant to remember them you will. You’ve been through a lot in life.”

Ivy sighed. “You make life sound so simple.”

“I try to,” Jack replied. He waved a hand at the house in front of them. “Welcome home, Ivy.”

* * * *

Donald Lydecker sat at his desk in Manticore’s center of operations. His desk was sparse with little on it save for a few documents waiting to be signed. His eyes were surveying the line of head shots adhered to his office wall. Twelve defiant sets of eyes stared back at him. They were all children. They ranged in age from seven to eleven. That had been ten years ago. Now, the ones that had not been captured were still at large somewhere out in the world. No one really knew what they looked like anymore. He wondered what kind of people they had grown into.

What then was the purpose of the photographs on the wall?

Lydecker kept them as a reminder. They were a reminder of one of his failures. A failure he would right if at all possible. He wanted to bring them all “home”. He wanted to help each of them fulfill their purpose in life. That was something that they would not find out there on the streets. The colonel glanced at a few of the faces he knew the best; at the ones he had not brought home. He would find them someday. It would just take time.

Lydecker stood and picked up the empty coffee cup sitting on his desk. Maybe caffeine would help clear his head. He picked up the cup and left his office.

To his surprise the rest of the office was bare with the exception of Lieutenant Smith, a red-haired man in his late twenties. Smith looked up at Lydecker as the Colonel passed. “You’re still here, Sir?”

Lydecker only nodded. “Does that surprise you?”

“No, Sir. It’s just that Major Kinlan and his wife are throwing a party,” The Lieutenant explained. “I believe you were invited, Sir.”

Lydecker recalled receiving an invitation and nodded. “What was that for?”

“It’s for Thanksgiving, Sir,” Smith remarked. “That is today.”

Lydecker glanced at the calendar, wondering how he could have lost track of the time. “So it is. I’m too busy working to preserve what we have left of America. It’ll have to wait.”

“No offense, Sir, but Manticore will still be here.”

Lydecker stared at the Lieutenant. Ordinarily he would have snapped or reprimanded the soldier for being less than professional. Now all he did was nod. “You’re dismissed, Lieutenant.”

* * * *

The Kinlan house was like all the other family homes on the base. They were a middle-aged married couple with one child. Each of them had been in the service since leaving high school and it was rather apparent by the orderly state of their home. The Kinlans themselves had briefly said hello and then disappeared into a mingling of clinking c***tail glasses and gossip.

Having long before chosen not to partake in drinking Lydecker found himself at a loss in the loud living room. He spotted a back door and removed himself from the riffraff into the cold November night. Lydecker found himself on the back porch. There were no lights, but enough lighting came through the windows to allow him to see his surroundings.

“Didn’t like the party?” A young voice came out of the shadows.

Lydecker cursed inside for not noticing the other person on the porch. He squinted slightly in the dim light to make out the teenage girl leaning against the railing at the edge.

“You do that often when you look at people?” The girl questioned. “You might want to have your eyes examined.” There was a faint spot of orange light in the darkness that soon extinguished and there was the smell of tobacco smoke.

“You might want to consider another habit. Those things will kill you,” Lydecker commented as he spotted a bench along the wall.

The girl laughed and shrugged a shoulder. “There are a lot of other things in this world that will kill you.”

“Aren’t you a little too young for those?” Lydecker commented as he sat down on the bench.

She flashed him a pearly white smile and dropped the cigarette on the porch, stamping it out with her foot. “My dad would kill me if he found out. I don’t do it that often. You’re not going to tell on me are you?”

Lydecker studied her for a moment. “What’s your name?”

The girl laughed and brushed a lock of raven hair over her shoulder. “You mean they didn’t get around to me in the round of introductions my dad usually does whenever we have company. Even if the said person is not there he likes to introduce the guests to a photograph. Must have been what he did when I was gone.”

“If he did I didn’t catch your name,” Lydecker added. “And whatever deviance you’ve committed, I’ll leave that between you and your parents.”

“They won’t ever find out if I can help it,” She admitted. In two strides she covered the space between them and held out her hand. “My name’s Ivy.”

Lydecker shook it. “Donald Lydecker.” Even as he said the words something in the back of his mind clicked. He had known someone by that name before, someone far into the past. “Have we met before?”

Ivy pulled away and stepped back. She was staring straight at him with a look of utter confusion on her face. Her eyes shut and she turned her head away. “No. No. I’ve never been to Wyoming before two weeks ago.” Her eyes opened and she looked back at him.

“Are you all right?” He questioned.

Ivy swallowed. “Sorry, it’s just this headache I’ve had all day.” She disappeared inside the house and he heard the door slam behind her.
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#5
Chapter 3

Ivy sped through the crowd of people drinking c***tails in her family’s living room and ran up the stairs. She did not stop until the door of her bedroom slammed shut and she collapsed against it. Her mind was in a daze as she stared around the room. She could not shake the feeling that had hit the moment that man had said his name. There had been a sudden sense of recognition in her mind. She had known him.

Lydecker. The name was in her earliest memories. She reached back into her mind and tried to recall it. All that rose in her mind and heart was a sense of dread. Her conscious mind was blocking out the rest for some reason. The man seemed nice enough.

Ivy sighed. She told herself it was probably nothing. It still did not shake the sudden feeling that was filling her body. The adrenaline was pumping through her as she noticed how swiftly her heart was beating.

Running to the bathroom sink to splash water on her face did not help. Ivy stared at her reflection in the mirror above the sink. She studied her appearance. Ivy knew she was not a normal girl by any standard. She was always forced to watch herself when it came to any physical displays. Running, jumping, throwing something, or whatever activity she chose to engage in, Ivy could do it faster and better than any person she had ever met. At least faster than any person she had met recently.

On the outside she appeared to be a normal teenager. Her long black hair fell in waves past her shoulders framing her Mediterranean toned face and ice blue eyes. It would not take a stranger to guess that she was adopted. The Kinlans were both redheads. It did not matter though. They had never made her feel unloved.

Ivy thought back to her childhood again. A few faces came to her. All smiles from one of the happier times she remembered. The rest were a blur. A dark room, concrete floors, no bright colors, someone shouting… Ivy wanted to remember it so she could finally let it rest.

“Ivy?” The voice came from the other side of the bathroom door. It was quiet and female. “Sweetie, are you okay?”

Ivy nearly did not recognize her mother’s voice. “Yeah, Mom. I’m fine.”

“Then come on out. There are some people I want you to meet.”

“Okay. Be right there,” Ivy called. She stared into the mirror to compose herself.

Ivy emerged from the bathroom a few minutes later and went down the stairs into the crowd of chatting people scattered across the room. She found her mother in the group talking to two women. Ivy approached them and tapped her Mom’s shoulder to get her attention.

“Ivy!” Mary Kinlan put an arm around the girl’s shoulders and urged her into the circle of women. “Alice and Lindsay, this is Ivy.” She waved a hand towards the two women.

The taller of the two women, a blond, held out her hand to Ivy. “I’m Lindsay. It’s nice to meet you Ivy.”

“I’m Alice,” The other woman said with a wide smile. She took a sip from her liberally filled wine glass. “Your mother’s been telling use that you are quite the virtuoso.”

“Well, I –” Ivy was cut off as Lindsay decided to speak.

“How long have you been playing the cello?” Lindsay questioned.

“Since she was eight,” Mary added, keeping an arm around Ivy to prevent the girl’s longing escape. “She picked it up in no time.”

“That’s how kids are. Their brains are like sponged when they’re young,” Alice admired. “How did you end up touring the country?”

Ivy finally smiled. “I was with a youth orchestra. It wasn’t like I’m a rock star or anything.”

“Orchestra!” Mary laughed. She patted Ivy’s shoulder. “She was playing with a string quartet. They played with various orchestras around the country. Ivy worked hard to get into it.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Ivy said sarcastically. “I never have to brag for myself.”

“You must love playing then,” Alice remarked. She tilted her head as she looked at Ivy. “You look familiar, Ivy. Could we have met before?”

Ivy swallowed. Unconsciously she had been thinking the same thing since she had laid eyes on Alice. “I don’t think so. But it’s not the first time I’ve been asked that. I guess I just have a familiar face.”

Alice’s gaze hardened as she continued to stare at Ivy. She shook her head. “No. I just get this feeling that we’ve met before.”

Ivy looked at her mother. “My mom would know.”

Mary laughed. She turned to Alice. “I honestly wouldn’t if you saw her before ten years ago. Jack and I adopted this little one from an orphanage when she was seven. Her real parents were killed in the rioting after the Pulse.”

“That was a terrible time,” Lindsay remarked. She patted Ivy’s shoulder. “At least you were one of the luckier ones.”

“Were they in the military?” Alice pressed.

Ivy kept her mouth shut and shook her head. She hoped the woman would get the message that she did not want to talk about it.

* * * *

Still seated outside on the porch, Lydecker was observing the party through the window. He made note of the girl Ivy’s return to the crowd. He also noted the apparent apprehension with which she seemed to be approaching people now. She seemed more quiet and reserved now versus the somewhat fiery rebel he thought he had met only a short time before.

Again he recalled the familiarity of her name. Finally it occurred to Lydecker. The name from the past had been the same. Ivy. Her name had been Ivy. The person he had known was one of the X5s.

Chapter 4

Rain poured down from the clouds as the girl emerged from the darkened tattoo parlor. It had been easy enough to convince the man to remove it for her, but rather expensive at the same time. It was a seedier section of town, but Ivy more than knew how to take care of herself. She tied a scarf around her neck to conceal the now slightly reddened skin of her neck while it healed. Intelligence told her that the mark would probably come back soon enough, but she was safe for the moment right now.

Something had told her it had everything to do with where she came from and that feeling had raised an undying urge to rid herself of the mark. It was gone now. She was safe from whatever it had meant for the moment.

* * * *

It was still raining when Ivy got home. Getting past Mike at the gate had been easy enough. All she had done was wait for him to turn away and then run past. It safer than jumping the fence, which she knew she was more than capable of. She turned down the avenue of houses towards her family’s home. It had been only a few weeks since she had come back, but it was beginning to grow on her despite recent developments.

She knew her parents had likely gone to sleep by now so sneaking in would not be a problem. Ivy slipped into the house through the backdoor that she had left unlocked. She had only made it three steps before she found that she was not alone in the living room.

“Hello, Ivy,” Donald Lydecker was sitting on a chair across from Jack. It was obvious by the folders on the table that they were discussing something about business.

Ivy forced a smile. “Hi.”

Jack leaned back in his seat. “Where were you?”

Ivy brushed a sodden clump of hair from her face and swallowed. “I was meeting Jessica.”

“At midnight in the rain?” Jack questioned. “When she lives in town and you know your curfew is eleven?”

Ivy’s brow tensed. She let out a deep breath. “I’m sorry.”

Jack sighed and stood up. “Ivy, I’ve got business right now. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.” He waved a hand. “And for goodness sake put on something dry!”

* * * *

Donald Lydecker watched the girl as she pushed past Jack and trudged up the stairs, grumbling something beneath her breath. A door slam followed and there was silence.

“You don’t have many family pictures,” Lydecker commented as he surveyed the living room.

“We don’t have much family either,” Jack replied. He poured himself a drink. “And Ivy’s a bit camera shy. Would you like something?”

Lydecker shook his head. “I just came over because I needed to explain some things. This isn’t entirely the most professional route I could have taken. Basically, by now I’m sure you’ve likely heard rumors about the Air Force base.”

Jack took a drink and shook his head. “I’m not following you, Deck.”

“The base outside of town is a classified location. Matters regarding it are on a need to know basis. So if any of your people…”

Jack waved a hand. “I get the point, Deck. I guarantee done of Section D will stumble drunk onto your base during training exercises. You sure you don’t want a drink?”

Lydecker nodded.

Jack smiled and pulled a lighter from his pocket. He offered a cigarette to Lydecker who refused.

“I’d think you would try to set a better example for you daughter,” Lydecker commented as Jack blew out a cloud of smoke.

Jack laughed. He held up the burning tobacco. “Ivy thinks I don’t know about her habit. It seems that inevitably children will take after their parents. Even if there’s no blood relation.”

Lydecker’s face hardened. “She’s not yours.”

Jack took another puff and coughed. He laughed again. “No. Mary and I can’t have our own children. We adopted Ivy after the Pulse. She came from an orphanage up in Seattle. You have kids?”

Taken aback by the question the colonel was forced to pause for a second. He took a deep breath. “My wife died over twenty years ago. We never had kids.”

“That’s a shame. You never learn so much about yourself until you’ve got an eight-year-old in pig tails following you around assessing your every move. They’re incredible. Kids have such an innocent view of the world,” Jack put out the cigarette and took a sip of alcohol. “I can’t imagine life without that cello-toting slacker.”

“Ivy seems like a wonderful girl,” Lydecker replied. “Despite a few discrepancies.”

Jack grinned. “You caught her smoking didn’t you?”

Lydecker nodded.

Jack put down his glass. “You can’t discipline kids the same way you discipline a soldier. If I’d done that with Ivy she’d be a psycho locked in a mental ward somewhere. Poor girl was on the edge when we adopted her. There are still some things she can’t remember about her childhood, but she’s done pretty well without those memories.”

Lydecker realized that Jack had obviously had a decent amount to drink. He was in a rant. “How old is Ivy? Fifteen?”

Jack laughed hard and smoothed back his crew cut. “I wish sometimes. No. She wants to go to Stanford next year. As if we can afford it or there’s any government funding left.”

“What would you have her do?” Lydecker questioned.

“Join the service,” Jack admitted. “But I doubt she’d go for that. She can’t stand the sight of a gun and she’d never raise a hand against a fly.”

* * * *

Ivy poured the remains of the cereal into a bowl and then dumped a generous portion of milk on it. The seizures were coming back. She would have to track down some tryptophan. For now she was eating an excess of dairy.

The clip-clop of high heels echoed across the tiled floor of the kitchen as her mother entered in a business suit. “Good morning, Ivy.” Mary sang cheerfully as she poured herself a cup of somewhat freshly brewed coffee. It was getting harder and harder to track down the substance. “What are you reading?”

Ivy shut the textbook she was browsing through and pulled it away, but her mother reached out and grabbed it.

Mary read the title and laughed. “Evolutionary genetics?”

“It’s for a project,” Ivy replied. She took a mouthful of cereal and chewed to avoid further questions.

“Ivy,” Mary sighed. “Sometimes I think you’re too smart for your own good. We’ve talked about this.”

Ivy groaned in frustration. “Mom, what would you have me do?”

“Ivy, you’re an intelligent girl. You’ll find some opportunity,” Mary explained. “You’ve already got a career with your music.”

“Mom,” Ivy breathed. “I need to get away. Moving from base to base is not the life for me. Why do you think I took that concert deal? Yeah, I’m good at music. But that doesn’t mean it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life! And I don’t see myself wearing fatigues and following orders either.”

Mary sighed and pushed the book back at Ivy. “Then go be a scientist, Ivy. I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

Ivy smiled. “Mom, unless the test tubes decide to revolt I should be fine.”

“You better get going or you’ll be late for school,” Mary said as she picked up her coffee and walked off.

* * * *

Ivy slammed her locker shut and ran down the hall towards her classroom. She didn’t hear anyone talking so proceeded in to find the entire class writing busily at their desks.

“Nice of you to join us, Miss Kinlan,” A voice broke the silence. Ms. Maxwell the biology teacher stood tapping her fingers on an empty desk. “Have a seat, Ivy. Pass them in class.”

There was a rustling of papers and mumbles of protest as Ivy went to her seat. Apparently she had missed a pop quiz. She dropped into her chair and sighed.

“Miss Kinlan, since you feel you are above everyone else in your academic level, would you care to give an example of when recessive genetic traits succeed dominant traits?” Ms. Maxwell’s narrow nose wheezed as she spoke.

“It’s a basic rule of genetics. The fittest will survive. When the recessive traits are advantageous to the organism,” Ivy replied, “Such as the advantage of a higher frequency the sickle-cell allele in regions prone to malaria outbreaks.”

The teacher smiled pleasantly as if she had been expecting the answer. “An excellent example. Each of us has dominant and recessive traits. How many of you have blue eyes?” She observed several raised hands. “Blue is recessive to other eye colors, yet it still exists in the population. An advantage to this is that blue eyes are more likely to be free from impairments such as myopia. Okay, today we will be discussing albinism…”

Ivy tuned out of the lecture and just stared at the blackboard. She spent the period staring into space until the bell rang.

* * * *

The road stretched out in front of her for another mile to the base and home. Ivy was trudging through the dirt on the roadside. She tugged at the bag on her shoulder and sighed. Missing the bus was never fun.

The roar of engines reached her ears and Ivy turned to glance down the road. There were no cars, but she could still hear the high-pitched whine of one of the engines. She stopped for a moment and waited. A few minutes later a convoy of black military Hummers came speeding down the road. It was nothing new to her, but for some reason her breath stopped in her throat and her pulse sped up. Ivy just stood and watched them pass.

As the wind picked up from them passing, Ivy gasped and shut her eyes as a sensation hit her. The trees again flashed in her mind and the prick of freezing snow beneath bare feet. The images fit with the sound. But she still could not remember where it was from. Was this a past memory she was recalling or just déjà vu?

Ivy was pulled from her mind by the sound of brake screeching as she opened her eyes to see the last of the vehicles had stopped.

A young red-haired soldier with bright green eyes was in the driver’s seat. He smiled. “You’re one of the military brats aren’t you?”

“What?” Ivy questioned, still waking up from her moment of memory.

“Ivy, right?” He questioned. “I saw you at Jack’s party.”

Ivy let herself smile. “Jack’s my Dad.”

“Need a ride?” He asked.

“Aren’t you working?” Ivy questioned, waving a hand at the vehicle.

A laugh erupted from the man's mouth. He sighed. “No. Get in unless you want to walk a mile in the snow.”

* * * *

Ivy smiled pleasantly at the man in the driver's seat. She turned to the window to try and avoid his occasional stare.

“I'm Alan by the way,” The man commented. “Lieutenant Alan Smith.”

Ivy nodded in acknowledgment. “You already know who I am.”

“Did you miss the bus or do you always walk home when it's below freezing?” Alan questioned with a pleasant smile.

“It wasn't intentional. I just happen to be a brilliant genius who on occasion gets her shirt sleeve stuck a locker,” Ivy admitted. She pushed some hair out of her face and readjusted the beanie she wore. “The cold is actually quite invigorating.”

Alan laughed. “Yeah, it's invigorating enough to make me run inside and hide. I especially hate doing drills out in the snow.”

Ivy smiled. “When you're a kid you can just go out and make snowmen. I never did that though.”

Alan raised an eyebrow in disbelief. “You've never made a snowman?”

Ivy shrugged. “I've lived in the city all my life. There never really were many places to build them.” She turned away and endured a moment of awkward silence before her house came into view and the vehicle stopped.

“Thanks for the ride,” Ivy pulled her jacket closer around her shoulders and jumped out of the vehicle, slamming the door behind her. She ran across the snow covered front lawn and into the house.

Fromm the Hummer Alan noticed the grace of her movements. “Have I seen her somewhere before?” he asked himself.
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#8
Chapter 5

“Ivy?” Jack knocked on her bedroom door. “Sweetheart, can I come in?”

Ivy tossed down the textbook and sighed. “Yeah.”

The door opened and Jack looked around the room. “Well, I haven’t been in here for a while.”

Ivy smiled. “I, uh, really couldn’t stand the blank walls. I thought some color would help, but then paint is kind of hard to find, so I used old sheets.”

“It looks nice,” Jack nodded as he sat down at the desk. “Ivy, where were you last night?”

“I was with Jessica. We went to see a movie,” Ivy admitted. “It ran too late and I meant to call, but…”

Jack raised hand. “Ivy, I trust you, but you’re also just a seventeen-year-old girl and there are people out there who would –“

Ivy rolled her eyes. “Believe me when I tell you that I can take care of myself.”

Her father sighed and smiled. “I know you think you can, but there are people who would target a beautiful girl like you. Your mother read something about that self-defense course being offered at your school. We want you to take it.”

Ivy laughed. “Dad, that would be a waste of time. I could drop a two-hundred pound man with my thumb.”

Jack shared the laugh as he remembered back to that event. “Ivy, as I recall, Patrick was stone drunk that day.”

Ivy shrugged. “It didn’t make him any lighter.”

“What are you going to do if someone bigger than you tries to attack you?”

“Break my cello over their head?” Ivy inquired from creative thought.

Jack stood and paced. He sighed. “Ivy, we just want you to be safe. Will you do this? For us?”

Ivy hesitated and then nodded. “It’s gonna be a waste of time though.”

Jack headed for the door. “Tell me that when it saves your life.”

* * * *

Ivy sat cross-legged on the gym floor among the other girls who had been forced into participating. It was late afternoon and she was currently daydreaming about sleeping late the next morning. She was jolted back to reality by the rhythm of footsteps echoing across the wooden floor.

A tall man, probably in his late twenties strolled in. He was obviously military by the strides her took. He stopped a few feet in front of the group of girls. “I’m Sergeant Parker. I’ll be teaching the self-defense course over the next week. I’m sure you all think you have better things to do so I’ll be brief. The bottom line when it comes to self-defense is to disable your attacker and run. Don’t try to be a hero. Just get out of there,” He prattled on for several minutes.

Ivy was tuning out when the instructor started shouting.

“You! What’s your name?” He had stopped pacing right in front of her.

Ivy pointed at herself and the instructor nodded. “Ivy.”

The man beckoned her up.

Ivy stood.

“Now, looking at Ivy here for an example, she’s not a big girl. What do you weight 110?”

“Something like that,” Ivy shrugged

Parker nodded. “Anyways the point is that size doesn’t matter. You can defend yourself against a person twice your size. Okay, line up. We’re going to see what you know so far. Ivy, I’m going to attack you from the back. You do what your instincts tell you.”

Ivy nodded and stood still and waited. Suddenly, she was aware of the man behind her. His breathing was soft, but it vibrated the air and his footsteps echoed. He was coming from the right. In an instant she felt his arms wrap around her, but Ivy was one step ahead. She grabbed his right arm and twisted it to force him to release her. Once he let her go she twisted away and dropped down and kicked one leg out under him. The man fell on his back and Ivy grabbed him by the collar and pulled him up.

“How the hell did you do that?” Parker questioned. “Ivy?”

Ivy blinked and zoned back into reality. She let him go and stepped back, staring at her hand. “I don’t know.”

“Good work,” He smiled and got up. He went on to work with the others.

Later on Ivy was getting ready to leave with the rest of the class when the instructor approached her.

“You’re Major Kinlan’s daughter right?” Sergeant Parker questioned. “You don’t look like him…or Mary for that matter.”

Ivy shrugged. She pulled on her hoodie sweatshirt. “I’m adopted. Do you work with him?”

The man shook his head. “No. I work under Colonel Lydecker. You’ve got some natural talent, Ivy. And you say you’ve never done anything like this before?”

Ivy threw up a hand. “Not that I remember.”

The man smiled. “Well, tell your dad, you don’t really need a class to defend yourself. But you might want to work on your technique. If I’d known you could fight, I would’ve been expecting that and dodged it. You sure you didn’t pick that up from Jack?”

“Why?” Ivy questioned.

Parker shrugged. “Some of the stuff you were doing looked like standard hand-to-hand training the army teaches.”

Ivy shrugged again. “It was kind of natural. I’ve got to go.” She ran out of the gym.

* * * *

Lydecker turned on the lights to the living room and sat down on the sofa. Immediately the eyes were upon him. Her deep brown eyes and shining smile reflected at him from the frame on the mantle. A joy filled laugh echoed through the silence in his mind as he remembered her. His wife and only true love.

Donald Lydecker did not know why he had begun to think of her so much as of late. His own belief that emotional attachments limit a person did not apply here at all. She had been his inspiration and his downfall.

The latest reports of escaped X5 activity sat on the coffee table. At the top of them was Max’s presence in Seattle. Another record mentioned a girl getting a barcode removed at a tattoo parlor only a few miles away from Manticore. Maybe it had been a bad decision or maybe it was one of his kids.

There had been Max, who Lydecker had created from his wife’s inspiration. The eyes, the hair, and a much further exaggeration of her grace than his wife had possessed. The other girl, no she would be a woman by now, that came into his mind was X5-825 or Ivy as her siblings had called her. However, unbeknownst to all but one Manticore scientist (long since killed off), 825 had been the next step in Lydecker’s preservation of his wife’s memory. She was their child, created from a frozen embryo concocted in lab after a visit to a fertility specialist when Lydecker’s wife was still alive. She had always wanted children.

Lydecker had been at the birth of every X5, but when 825 had been born something had been different. 825 was his own offspring and despite how Lydecker frequently despised himself he remembered looking upon the newborn infant with the impression of perfection. The night she had escaped with the others was still clear in his mind.

Lydecker could have prevented it, but the only way would have been to shoot his own daughter.

Lydecker glanced back at the Hummer and grunted a breath. They were escaping right under his grasp. He stared into the frozen trees for a moment before taking some steps into a copse of pine trees. It was then that she had seemed to fall right into his lap.

A small, thin figure tumbled out of the trees and stopped only a few feet before him. Recognizing the child instantly as an X5 Lydecker trained his weapon on him or her. He would not fire unless necessary.

The child looked up at him and Lydecker lowered his gun. Blue eyes met. X5-825 stared at him in fear. Lydecker stepped back and waved a hand. “Go!”

The young child only stared at him, half-frightened. There was confusion in her eyes and horror whenever her gaze settled on the gun. “Sir…”

Lydecker sighed and nodded. “That’s an order, 825! Get out of here!”

The girl half nodded and swiftly backed away into the trees.

* * * *

“So how did the self-defense class go?” Mary questioned as she passed a bowl to Ivy.

Ivy shrugged as she picked at her food. “I knocked the teacher on his back.”

Mary raised an eyebrow. “You’re joking right?”

“No. He must have been testing me or something,” Ivy suggested. “Anyways I’ve been looking at schools and I’ve already got my application filled out I just need the processing fee.”

Mary sighed. “Sweetie, are going to get stuck in this conversation again.”

“Mom, I can pay for it,” Ivy pleaded. “I’ll give music lessons.”

Mary shook her head. “People these days are saving their money for things worthwhile, like food.”

Ivy stabbed a piece of lettuce with her fork and stuffed it in her mouth. “I am not enlisting.”

“I’m not telling you you have to,” Mary defended. “Ivy, there are so many things you could do. Even if you go to school, there’s no guarantee you won’t end up flipping burgers somewhere. In some places you would be lucky even to find that kind of job.”

Ivy put down her fork and pushed her chair out of the table. “You don’t have control over me. You can’t tell me what to do.”

“What?” Mary questioned. “Ivy, I love you. I would never-“

“Then why can’t I?” Ivy questioned. “Mom, do you know what my IQ is?”

“You’re a smart girl, Ivy, but the world doesn’t care about that,” Her mother pressed the issue. “The world today is like a lottery and only a few people have wining tickets. The rest are out in the cold. Your father and I love you too much to see you get hurt.”

Ivy said nothing as she stood from the table and stomped up the stairs to her room. She slammed the door and screamed out her anger.

Ivy had to restrain herself from taking her frustration out on the cello that lay in the middle of her bedroom floor. As easy as she knew it would be to demolish, buying another one would be difficult. Especially with the state of the American economy. Ivy dropped onto her bed and put her head in her hands.

She stood in a sudden rage and thrust her fist out to the first object it would contact, which happened to be the wall. There was a thud as her fist went clear through the drywall. Ivy was not hurt at all by the strike. She was used to the mild pain, but did not know why. She removed her fist from the wall and studied the gaping hole that fortunately had not gone through to the hallway. Her gaze shifted to her knuckles that were dusted with white from the chipped paint.

A laugh escaped her lips. “Good luck explaining that one to Dad.”

“I never knew you to have a temper.” A new voice intruded the background sounds of the room. A figure stepped out of the shadows.

“Who are you?” Ivy questioned. She felt her fists tighten as she regarded the man who had just revealed himself. “How the hell did you get in here?”

The man smirked slightly. He was about twenty with a medium muscular build and taller than her. Straight blond hair fell over his forehead. His chiseled features seemed to soften as he took a step towards her. “But then you were a bit forgetful.”

Ivy stepped back towards the door and stared at him. “I’ll ask again: who are you?”

“It’s me Zack. You couldn’t have forgotten me could you?” The blonde haired man smiled slightly. “I saw you in Los Angeles.”

Ivy shook her head and reached for the doorknob behind her back. “What the hell are you talking about? Am I supposed to know you?”

Zack raised a hand. “Ivy, don’t open that door.”

“What do you want?” Ivy questioned as her grip tightened on the doorknob.

Zack raised his hands in the air. “I’m here to help you. I saw you in LA like I said, tracked you back here. It’s a good thing I did. Ivy, honestly, how stupid are you? The idea is to stay under the radar and look at you. You’re right under their nose!”

“Under whose nose?” Ivy swallowed a scream rising in her throat.

“Exactly why I came here,” The man mused. “They’ve already got Brin and I’m not going to let them get you. We have to get out of here now.” In two strides he had a locking grip on her left arm. “Let’s go!”

“Let go of me!” Ivy screamed and pulled against his grasp, but the man was even stronger than she was.

“I’m giving you an order, Ivy!” He shouted. Fury consumed his gaze.

“I don’t know who the hell you think you are, but let me go!” Ivy pulled with all her strength, but was not able to dislodge his hold. “Somebody, help!”

Zack released her and pushed her to the floor. “What the hell has gotten into you, Ivy? You’re even more stubborn that Max!”

“Ivy!” Voices erupted from downstairs and there was the sound of footsteps coming up the stairwell.

The man shook his head. “Ivy, don’t you remember me?”

Ivy met his gaze for a moment. “You said your name is Zack?”

Realization hit his eyes. “You don’t remember me. You don’t remember any of it.”

There was a pounding on the door.

Zack looked at her. “I will come back for you. I won’t let them have you.” With that he dove out the window.

In that last instant Ivy saw the tattoo on his neck.

* * * *

“Let’s start from the top,” Lydecker paced around the small kitchen table. “What did he tell you?”

Ivy was crying with her hands covering her face. “He… he thought I was someone else.”

Lydecker inhaled a sharp breath. “Have you ever seen him before? Anywhere?”

Ivy shook her head. “No.” She put her head down and shut her eyes.

Lydecker gave her a pat on the back, but then used the opportunity to glance at her neck. He felt his heart drop when skin was completely unmarred. No barcode. He moved away.

“Ivy, look, the man who broke in is an extremely dangerous felon. If he ever shows up again you call me. This is very important.” Lydecker explained. “Understand.”

Ivy nodded. “Yeah.” She looked up with red eyes. “Who is he?”

Lydecker sighed. “He was under my command a few years back. Went AWOL and… he’s a dangerous man. You’re safer not knowing anything else.” He patted her shoulder. “Get some rest.” He walked towards Jack. “Give me a call if she remembers anything else.”

“Thanks, Donald,” Jack said goodnight and went to Ivy. “Sweetheart, are you all right?”

Ivy was drawing invisible circles with her fingers on the table top. She nodded slowly and looked up at him. “I’m fine. It was just…scary.”
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#11
Chapter 6

Ivy dumped her school books on the dining table and walked into the kitchen where her mother was already cooking dinner. The aroma of tomato sauce filled the air. Ivy smiled. “Where did you find basil?”

Mary turned from the stove and acknowledged her daughter. “Allison who works with me has a plant. I figured this would be perfect.”

“It smells wonderful,” Ivy remarked. “Is Dad home?”

Mary nodded. “He’s in the study.”

Ivy sighed. “That means he brought work home.”

“Actually he’s been home for most of the day,” Mary explained. “He’s afraid to leave the house unprotected since Friday night.”

“Maybe we should get a guard dog,” Ivy suggested.

“I thought you hated dogs,” Mary said.

Ivy shrugged. “Mom, do you think there’s any way I could talk to that guy?”

“Who?” Mary asked.

“Zack,” Ivy replied. She ran a hand through her hair. “Alan said they caught him.”

“Why?” Mary questioned suddenly, nearly dropping a ceramic bowl on her feet. “Ivy, he’s dangerous.”

“But what if he did know something about me, Mom?” Ivy questioned. “I have no memory before the time you and Dad adopted me. Something had to have happened in my life before that.”

Mary sighed. “Honey, this man…Zack…he’s a very disturbed young man and very dangerous. He may have learned about your memory loss somewhere and decided to use it as a tactic against you.”

Ivy traced her fingers over the table and pursed her lips. “Maybe. But…I don’t know, Mom. He seemed familiar in some way.”

Mary leaned against the counter. “Ivy, you do remember what Donald said if you remember anything else he needs to know about it.”

Ivy turned back and stared at her mother. “I don’t think this guy Zack meant to hurt me, Mom.”

“He well enough did give you that bruise,” Mary waved a hand to indicate Ivy’s arm.

Ivy protectively covered her arm. The bruising had faded rather quickly. “Not really.”

Mary smiled. “I suppose it’s a good thing you’re taking that class then. Just in case something should happen again.”

Ivy rolled her eyes and groaned. “Mom, Sergeant Parker told me to tell you and Dad that I don’t really need to take self-defense classes.”

Mary raised an eyebrow. “Why would he say that?”

Ivy sat down on a kitchen stool and watched her mother. “Because I already know how to fight.” She kept a straight face.

Mary smiled slightly and nodded as if to say ‘yeah right’. “And just where did you develop these inborn skills?”

“I don’t know, but as far back as I can remember it’s been there. I mean anyone’s normal instinct is to kick and scream, but I knew exactly what to do in that class yesterday. Maybe I was into karate or something before the Pulse,” Ivy mused with a grin.

“With your frame it was probably ballet,” Mary suggested.

“I was seven,” Ivy said with laugh. “That would explain my flexibility though.”

Mary touched Ivy’s face gently. “Ives, I don’t care what you were or where you came from. The only thing that matters is who you are now. When you first came to live with us you were a shy little thing, clearly recovering from something traumatic, but you’ve gotten past it. You’ve grown into a smart, successful, and beautiful woman. The past doesn’t matter. Ivy, we would love you even if you were from Mars.”

“Would you still love me if I started trying to phone home like ET?” Ivy questioned.

Mary caught the hidden message. She nodded slowly. “You’re old enough. If you feel it’s something you need to do for closure, do it. You have my permission.”

“What if someone is still alive?” Ivy questioned. “What if they’ve been looking for me?”

Mary sighed. “Honey, the Pulse tore a lot of families apart. There’s no guarantee you’ll find any sort of records.”

“What do you remember about me when you first saw me?” Ivy questioned.

Mary’s thin face lit up in a smile. “Like I said you were shy, you didn’t like your father very much at first. You had only a few inches of hair and looked like the rest of the orphans in being half-starved. But something told me you were meant for us.”

Ivy got up and hugged her mother. “I love you, Mom.”

“I love you too, sweetie,” Mary returned the embrace.

Ivy smiled and went to walk out.

“Hey!” Mary snapped. “I need you to go to the store.” She handed a shopping list to Ivy.

Ivy took it and glanced over the list. “Was there ever a day that you could get things not in a can?”

“Honey, you were around before the Pulse,” Mary commented.

“Yeah,” Ivy nodded slowly. “But unless you’ve forgotten my memory of that is kind of spotty. I’ll be back.”

* * * *

Ivy was walking straight for the cereal aisle and not watching where she was going when she collided with Lydecker. She quickly stepped back and straightened up. “Sorry.”

Lydecker merely nodded. “Hello, Ivy.”

“Hi,” Ivy said in reply as she turned to the shelf and picked up a can of vegetables.

“Shopping for your mother I see,” he observed.

Ivy looked up. “How did you-“

“The list is in Mary’s handwriting,” Lydecker remarked. “So are you doing better?”

Ivy shrugged and continued to browse the shelves. “I’ve put a secure lock on my window if that’s what you mean. You ever catch that guy anyway?”

“I can’t say much beyond the fact that he won’t be bothering you again,” Lydecker commented.

“That’s good to know. You actually shop?” Ivy questioned incredulously.

Lydecker nodded. “I’m human and therefore do need food.”

Ivy shrugged. “I guess you just seem like the kind of guy who would eat in the mess hall all the time.”

“Quite often I do, but there are times when I would prefer to do otherwise.”

“You cook?” She questioned over reading the label off a box of cereal.

Lydecker found himself smiling slightly. “Define ‘cook’.”

Ivy grinned. “I mean taking stuff out of a box, into a pan, and heated on a stove, without burning it.”

He frowned. “I can cook.”

Ivy smiled. “I didn’t say you couldn’t, but I’m rather surprised you didn’t say you survive off of GI rations- even though they taste like felgercarb.”

“I wasn’t aware you had any military experience.”

“There were a few blackouts in New York and that’s all there was to eat that didn’t spoil.” Ivy tossed a lock of hair over her shoulder.

“Did you grow up in New York?” He questioned.

Ivy looked at him with a faint spark in her eyes. “Is it just me or are you full of questions? Long story short: middle name Eleanor, born in Seattle, genius IQ, three boyfriends to date, played the cello my whole life. Is there anything else you would like to know, Mr. Lydecker?”

Lydecker glanced around the store to see it sparse and that the clerk had gone into the backroom. “Quite frankly, Miss Kinlan, I’m still trying to figure out why that man had any interest in you.”

Ivy rolled her eyes. “Stalker complex? Look, he said he followed me from Los Angeles and that his name was Zack. Kept ranting something about a Brin or a Max someone. But then I’ve told you all this so why do you keep asking? Is there something top secret at risk of being exposed?”

Lydecker did not reply to that.

Ivy squinted. “God, I’m right. Aren’t I?” she laughed. “I’m joking. You can breathe now.” She glanced at her watch. “I’ve got to get home. Have a good day, Lydecker.” She turned and headed for the register.

Ivy waited patiently in line to checkout. Behind of her a man in a gray winter coat was mumbling to himself, a box of crackers in one hand. Ivy found herself staring at him as her instincts picked up. The man’s eyes were darting around crazily from the gum-chewing cashier to the door to the security cameras. Ivy moved up to the register as the line progressed and dropped her items on the counter on the counter.

The cashier sighed and rang up the purchase. “$12.75.”

Ivy handed a twenty to the cashier when she felt a hand grip her shoulder. Ivy screamed as she felt the muzzle of the gun press into her skin. “Empty the register! Now!” The man in the gray coat had an arm locked around her neck and a 9 mm against her temple.

The cashier stepped back.

“Did you not hear me?! The money now or I’ll blow a hole in her head!”

The cashier nodded slowly and did as she was told. She finished emptying the cash drawer into a grocery bag and pushed it towards the robber.

“Give me that!” The man grabbed the cash. He turned from the register only to glance back a second later when the cashier was reaching under the counter. He fired a warning shot over her shoulder. “What the hell are you doing, huh? You were going hit an alarm button weren’t you?”

The cashier shook her head.

“Don’t play stupid with me! You hit that button and this girl dies!”

Ivy shut her eyes. Something was telling her to grab the gun and twist his arm, but the rest of her was frozen in fear. Her eyes dashed to the rest of the people in the room. They all stood with blank stares bent on self-preservation, all but Lydecker.

Lydecker was standing there with his hands up. “It’s okay, son. Just let her go.”

The man’s breathing moved the hairs on her head as he spoke. “You’re just gonna call the police as soon as I’m out the door.”

“You’ve already got your money,” Lydecker began, motioning towards the register with his hands while keeping them in the air. “Now let the girl go. Don’t add murder your crimes.”

The man swallowed and darted his eyes around the room. “You like the damn girl so much take her!” With that he shoved Ivy to the floor and bolted through the front doors.

“Are you all right?” Lydecker questioned. He offered a hand to Ivy help her up which she accepted.

Ivy said nothing, but tried straightening her jacket as her hands were shaking slightly. “I…I don’t know.”

“You’ll be fine,” He said. He smiled slightly. The girl was shaking visibly, but any harm done was psychological. In the next instant she did something he would not have predicted. Ivy hugged him.

She stepped back after a moment and took a breath. “Thank you. I think you might have saved my life.”
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#14
Chapter 7

Ivy kicked the mud off her boots and pulled them off before she stepped onto the carpet. She then unwrapped the scarf that had been practically choking her. “Mom, I’m home.”

“What are you doing home so early?” Mary questioned, coming around the corner from the kitchen.

“It was the last day of the semester. There was no ‘self-defense’ instruction today,” Ivy explained as she walked past her mom towards the stairs. “I passed all my exams.”

“Elaborate on ‘passed’,” Mary said.

“98 in biology, 97 in calculus, a 100 in chemistry, but I still fail to see why Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are considered innocents,” Ivy commented. “I think they deserved to lose their heads.”

“So Shakespeare isn’t your strong point,” Mary replied. “What was the number?”

“Eighty-five,” Ivy almost wanted to cover her ears as she hesitantly spoke the grade. “I told you I passed.”

“So have you given anymore thought to that application?” Mary questioned.

Ivy nodded. “Yeah, I’m gonna turn it in and pay the fee with my leftover stipend from the tour.”

“Good. That’s what I wanted to hear.”

Ivy raised an eyebrow. “You’re not mad?”

Mary sighed. “Ivy, I’ve learned that you’re stubborn and you’re going to do what you want regardless of what I tell you. You’re almost eighteen so it’s your decision. If you can pull it off it’ll certainly help you in life.”

“I would hug you, but I’m covered in melting snow,” Ivy said with a wide smile.

Mary laughed. “Then go get changed.”

* * * *

Ivy tried to sleep, but found herself to be restless. She kept having flashbacks to the store robbery. When the gun had been pointed at her head she had hardly been scared inside. She had been more in shock than anything else. Then there had been her instincts picking up as if a voice in her head had been telling her to floor the man. He wouldn’t have had a chance and she knew it.

Ivy shifted in her bed and eventually drifted off to sleep only to have the flashback come again in a dream. She was standing before the register once again, the man had a firm grip on her shoulder, and the gun was pressed to her temple. This time, however, she reacted. Ivy reached up and took hold of his wrist in one smooth motion faster than he could react. In a twisting motion the man was on the floor unconscious. Ivy stared at the gun and, knowing exactly what to do, she unloaded it, emptying the clip onto the floor and tossing the gun away. A clapping sound drew her attention away from the man.

Lydecker stood there with a satisfied expression. “Good job, soldier.”

Ivy awoke and before she knew it she was moving to the window. It had been nailed shut and she broke the lock and pushed it open, letting in the cold winter air. Without further thought she leapt from the window sill and landed on her feet. Her bare feet sank into the powered ice a few inches. It did not bother her, she wasn’t cold. She found herself moving again and soon she was at the base perimeter. The razor wire topped fence loomed before her. It was meant to keep people out, not in. Ivy took a deep breath and drew on all her strength and jumped. One leap carried her over the fence to the other side. She glanced back at the fence in partial disbelief. What the hell am I?

A security light switched on in that moment, but luckily it fell a few feet short of her position.

Ivy stood up and ran, not knowing where her feet would carry her. She shut her eyes as the woods whizzed past for a split second. For some reason it all seemed familiar.

Before she knew it she had run several miles and found herself skidding to a halt at the edge of some trees. She glanced around saw that the moonlight was not the only source of illumination in the area. There was a glow emanating from beyond the trees. Ivy stood slowly and edged towards the light. It came into view as she neared the top of a hill.

The illumination came from lights situated around the perimeter of a fence at the base of the hill. Beyond the fence was a two story building that clearly continued out into the darkness. This must be the Air Force base, Ivy thought, where Lydecker works. She stepped closer and studied the scene before her. Before she could hardly think though, she heard footsteps behind her. Ivy whirled around to see tall young man dressed in gray fatigues and aiming a rifle at her.

“Who the hell are you?” He shouted.

Ivy squinted at the man. His eyes were familiar. “Who the hell are you?”

“I’m the one with the gun, Girlie,” He commented half-filled with arrogance. “You answer my questions.”

“I’m Ivy Kinlan,” She answered. “Could you stop pointing that at me?”

The man smirked. “No. See I don’t know if you’re a threat or not, Ivy. You’re trespassing on government property.”

The radio crackled, “Base to Cobra 4, status report.”

The man looked at her. “I should really bring you in, you know.”

Ivy was silent and just waiting.

He grinned and picked up his radio. “Cobra 4 reporting in, status normal. No activity on the south perimeter.” He replaced the radio. “Do you know where you are?”

Ivy shook her head. “Um, I live at the army base, but I’m not entirely sure how I got here.”

“A military brat, huh. Look you couldn’t have found this place unless you were looking for it,” He slung the rifle over his shoulder. “You’re not wearing any shoes.”

Ivy looked at her feet. “Yeah, I’m not.”

“You’re not cold?”

“You don’t seem to be,” Ivy remarked.

He laughed suddenly. “Well, you must have been sleepwalking, Ivy, which is not exactly the best habit to have in the middle of the winter when it’s five degrees outside. Come on, I’ll walk you back to the road.”

The radio crackled with static again. “Cobra 4, return to your post.”

“Aren’t you going to get in trouble?” Ivy questioned.

“If I do that’s my problem,” He smiled. “Come on.” He started towards the trees.

Ivy followed behind him. “So what are you? A private?”

“No.”

“Corporal?”

“No, missy.”

“Sergeant?”

“No.”

“So what are you then?” Ivy questioned as she stepped over a tree root.

“I’m a soldier and you don’t need to know anything else,” The man stopped walking. He pointed out into the trees. “If you head that way for another fifty yards you’ll find the road. Follow it south back to your army base.”

Ivy nodded and turned to him. “Thank you.”

The man grinned. “You’re welcome and the next time I catch out here I won’t be so pleasant. Now go home.”

Static blared from the radio followed by the same voice again. “Cobra 4, report in. 494, where the hell are you?”

The man waved hand at Ivy indicating that she should go as he picked up the radio. “This is 494 status normal. No activity. Returning to post now.” He turned and walked away into the trees.

Ivy stood frozen for a moment staring after him.

“Go home, Ivy!” He shouted back as if sensing her.

Ivy nodded to herself and turned back to start down the road.

* * * *

Ivy ran down stairs the next morning to find the house empty. That was to be expected. She was on vacation, but not her parents. Ivy went into the kitchen and poured herself a cup of coffee from a lukewarm pot sitting on the stove. She stared down into her cup and wished she’d caught it sooner. “I wish we had a microwave.”

She took seat at a stool by the counter drank the coffee for a few minutes in silence. The effort was partially to keep herself awake and partially to get the chill out of her bones from the night in the snow.

The sound of the front door unlocking drew her from the silence. Military boots echoed across the foyer floor and Jack appeared in the doorway dressed in green camouflage fatigues. He smiled at her. “Did you leave the window open again?”

Ivy shook her head. “No. Why?”

“Because you’re drinking coffee.”

“Dad, it’s ten degrees outside. If I want to drink something warm it’s probably because I wanted to, not because I slept in a freezing room. And the coffee’s cold anyways.”

Jack smirked. “You did.”

Ivy smirked back and found the coffee mug suddenly shaking in her hand. She dropped it on the counter and went to the refridgerator to retrieve the milk which she poured generously into her coffee.

“You okay, kiddo?” Jack asked watching her actions.

Ivy nodded. “Yeah. It’s just the seizures flaring up again.”

He sighed. “You’ve got your meds for those, but if they get really bad I want to go to the infirmary.”

“Not the hospital?” Ivy questioned.

“I trust the base doctors over any area hospital these days,” Jack replied. “Any plans for today?”

Ivy shrugged. “I’ve got three weeks off with no homework, no classes, no deadlines. I think I’ll just enjoy it.”

“Does your definition of enjoyment mean you’re going to be sitting on the couch watching TV all day?” Jack questioned.

Ivy smiled and took a sip of coffee. “Channel 6 is having a marathon of ‘Battlestar Galactica’.”

“Would I be getting ahead of myself if I told you to get a job?” He asked.

“If I can find some rich kid who wants music lessons I’ll have that job. Until then you’re stuck with me. Enjoy it while it lasts,” She smiled.

“There you go again,” Jack smiled. “I have to get back to work.”

Ivy’s brow furrowed. “You’ve been working reveille again haven’t you?”

Jack nodded.

“Having fun with snap inspections?” Ivy questioned. “Is it possible to see your reflection in a shined boot?”

“Okay, Ivy, you’ve made your point. You don’t want to join the Army and I understand,” Jack sighed.

“Thank you, Dad.” Ivy said pleasantly. “Now go away. I have Cylons to watch.”

“So speaks the princess,” Jack smiled. “I’ll see you at dinner.”

* * * *

Agent Sandoval was reviewing a report that had just come in from the Army base. Apparently someone thought they spotted a Manticore soldier on the perimeter. Believing it was a waste of time he could easily do without he nearly ignored it, but instead just clicked on the surveillance file and waited for it to play.

The file opened and the image of a fence appeared. From the angle it was apparent that the camera was situated somewhere along the fence itself and the image was split by the structure itself, equaling showing both sides of the perimeter. There were a few seconds of no activity until a figure appeared at the edge of the frame. It was too dark to discern the person clearly without enhancement. The figure suddenly leapt and with catlike grace soared up over the fence and landed on its feet on the other side.

Sandoval took a breath. It was definitely an X5, but he would need to get the footage enhanced to figure out which one.
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#17
Had to keep writing this of course. Now I have to write an essay for a class in which my prof looks like an older version of Lydecker which is really creepy.

Chapter 8: Déjà vu

The winter snow had stopped falling for a short time as the weather took a turn for warmer temperatures. It wasn’t warm enough to melt the ice that coated the ground of the neighborhood though so Ivy had gone out with a snow shovel that morning to clear what she could from the driveway. The shoveled snow was piling up along the edge of the driveway as Lydecker approached.

“Hello, Ivy,” Lydecker greeted her as he walked up the driveway.

Ivy nodded briefly to acknowledge him before attacking the snow rather fiercely with the shovel and flinging another hail of white rain through the air.

Lydecker paused for a moment before continuing. Ivy had her back to him as she kept working. “What’s wrong?”

Ivy let out a breath and whirled around, staking the shovel into the snow. She shrugged a shoulder and shook her head, but no words came from her mouth. All she uttered was a pathetic sob, but it was clear by her quivering lips that something was bothering her.

He sighed. “I’ve never been very good at being empathetic. I could tell you to toughen up, but you wouldn’t like that.”

Ivy shook her head and looked at him with tear-stained eyes. She took a deep breath and tossed the shovel on the ground. “KIA. You know what it means?”

Lydecker nodded. “I do. Who was it?”

“A friend. We went to school together in New York. He was a year older than me,” Ivy fumbled with her gloves. “Joined up right out of high school and got deployed to Kezmekistan. He wanted it to be his career. It only got him a bullet in the head.”

Lydecker sighed. “I’ve lost a lot of good people under my command. Despite all the heartache, there should be some comfort in knowing they died for a cause they believed in.”

Ivy released a breath and let the mist evaporate into the air. She picked up the shovel and started working again. “Do you think war is necessary?”

Standing beside her, Lydecker nodded. “We need to defend what’s ours. Otherwise the corrupt would overrun the world.”

Ivy shook her head. “I don’t agree. There’s too much bloodshed and America always thinking it’s right. No wonder the Pulse happened.”

“You speak as if it was almost a good thing.”

Ivy shrugged. “It was certainly a reality check.”

Lydecker nodded. “I agree with that.”

Ivy looked at him. “What are you doing here?”

“I have business with your father,” Lydecker replied.

Ivy smiled slightly as a memory surfaced. “Friday afternoon cigars and brandy. I suppose he asked you over on more military terms. There are two lieutenants and a captain in the study with him swapping stories.”

“You’ve been keeping track?”

“That and I accidentally hit Captain Nowak with the shovel. I’ve been a little…distracted,” Ivy staked the shovel into the snow again and pulled off her gloves to examine a blister. “I’m just trying to put Rick out of my mind.”

“When did you find out?”

“Yesterday, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I guess I’m half expecting to go back to New York and have him just be there,” she shrugged and picked up the shovel. “Well, I’ve got to get back to heavy labor. Go enjoy the stogy smoke alcohol you don’t drink.”

He hesitated for a moment. “I have to say I’m rather surprised you’re not out here smoking.”

Ivy nodded and tossed her hair. “People in grieving often relapse into old habits for comfort. At the moment I’m thinking about staying alive. I quit. I needed the money for other things.” She met his gaze to find Lydecker looking at her oddly. His ice blue eyes seemed to be searching hers. He was a nice guy, but a little creepy. “You okay?”

“I could have sworn I knew you before I met you,” he replied.

Ivy looked down at her feet. “You might’ve. I wouldn’t know it though.”

“Why not?”

Ivy sighed. “I don’t tell people this outright. I’d trust you to keep it quiet.”

He nodded.

Ivy blew out a breath. “I’ve got some problems with my memory. I think I took a hit to the cranium sometime when I was little. Among other things, I don’t have many of my childhood memories intact. So your guess is as good as mine.”

* * * *

The sun was rising on another day when Ivy finally woke herself enough to escape from a never-ending dream, nightmare more likely. She couldn’t remember the exact details of the dream, but something had given her a deep sense of dread. With a sigh she walked to her desk, opened a notebook, and started writing. Free writing like this had in the past helped her remember some things.

After a few minutes she stopped stared at the words on the paper. They didn’t make sense to her, but she had written them sure enough. It was all military stuff. Maybe it was something her Dad had told her long time ago. She wanted to find out.

* * * *

Ivy tugged the scarf tighter around her neck as she approached the barracks where she knew Jack would be. She had never just dropped in to see him, but the feeling edging at her sanity would not be pushed aside by her hesitation.

The door to the enlisted barracks was thrown open. Ivy could see her father standing in a few feet inside the doorway, six feet tall and clad in camouflage. Behind him two young men in uniforms were on their knees scrubbing the floor. Jack turned as he heard her approach.

“Ivy, sweetheart, what are you doing here?” Jack questioned as he moved towards the door.

Ivy stepped in and walked up to him. “I needed to talk to you. I’ve been remembering some things.”

Jack sighed. “Sweetheart, can’t this wait until I come home?”

Ivy stared past him at the two men on their knees. “I guess that toothbrush thing isn’t a movie joke.”

Her comment caught a laugh from one of the enlisted men hard at work scrubbing the door.

Jack turned sharply, “Back to work, soldier!” He barked the orders loudly.

The man’s expression disappeared and he attacked the floor fiercely.

Jack sighed and rubbed his eyes. “So what’s so important that – Ivy?”

Ivy stood frozen. Her breath was shallow as she saw the whole room. The concrete floors and steel bed frames swirled in her vision. The room darkened and the men disappeared. Two rows of people appeared- children dressed in blue hospital gowns. Their heads were shaved in military crew cuts and they stood rod ram straight at attention before an older man in uniform who paced along the aisle between beds. The man’s mouth moved, but no sound came out. Ivy stared around the room and at the faces around her. Her gaze drifted downwards as she saw herself covered by the same type of blue gown. A stifled scream rose in her throat as she felt herself shake.

No. Someone was shaking her arm. Jack.

“Ivy, Ives… what’s wrong?” Jack questioned.

Ivy realized he was holding her arm for support and that she was nearly on her knees. She got her footing and glanced back at the long barracks where the two privates were still scrubbing the floor. She turned to Jack and looked at his hold on her arm. The sight of his fatigues made her suddenly recoil in fear and let out another scream. The concrete floor greeted her as she hit. Ivy covered her face with her hands and cowered.

“Ivy!” Jack shouted this time. He tried to reach out a hand, but she pushed it away and returned to her protective position.

“They can’t take him…” Ivy mumbled the words from her subconscious that suddenly invaded her conscious mind. “We’ll fight! Zack, we have to do something!” She never looked up.

Jack stepped back and could only watch. He waited a moment before deciding to speak again. “Ivy? Sweetheart, are you all right?”

Ivy wiped her eyes and lowered her hands from her face. She slowly raised her head and stared at Jack. She swallowed and took a deep breath. “You’re dressed like them.”

Jack glanced at his uniform. “Honey, I dress like this everyday.” He moved towards her with open arms. “Ives…”

The girl scrambled to her feet, dropping the paper she had carried, and moved towards the door. “Stay away from me!” She ran outside.

Jack stared for a moment before glancing at the ground. He picked up the crumpled piece of lined paper and smoothed it out. It was written in blue ink and was definitely his daughter’s handwriting:

332753911825

Duty

Discipline

Mission

* * * *

Ivy ran not knowing where she was going. She passed the barracks and mess hall before she forced herself to stop. She shut her eyes and shook her head, but the flood of images would not stop. Her consciousness was being bombarded with sounds, smells, and feelings. A whirl of emotions forced themselves out and she felt tears on her face. It was as if entire life was flashing before her eyes. All of it, including Manticore.

Ivy straightened herself up and stared at her surroundings. She lived in Gillette, Wyoming once again. Her breath froze in her throat suddenly. “Oh my God! They have Zack.”

* * * *

“Yes, I understand. Yes. Goodbye.” Lydecker hung up the phone and turned to see Sandoval standing in front of his desk. “Agent Sandoval, what is it now?”

“A report I thought you should see, Sir. This came in from a surveillance camera on the Gillette base perimeter. The footage was unclear, but it’s been enhanced and these are the stills we captured,” He handed Lydecker a manila folder.

Lydecker took it with a suspicious eye and flipped it open. He flipped through the images for a moment. “This is an X5. Were you able to calculate frame size?”

Sandoval nodded. “Between 5’5” and 5’8” based upon the shadow. These were captured of her leaving the base, but there’s nothing explaining how she got in. Does this look like 452 to you?”

Lydecker was staring at the photos. He inhaled a breath. “No. It’s one of the others. 656, 825, 210, a lot of the girls had dark hair.” He flipped through to another photo and froze suddenly.

“What is it?”

Lydecker tossed down the folder and slid a photo from the top of the stack towards Sandoval. “Not all X5’s wear NYU t-shirts.”

“I don’t understand, Colonel.”

Lydecker sighed. “Neither do I, Agent Sandoval, but we’ve tracked down another X5. Get me a TAC team.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sandoval nodded and walked out.

Lydecker watched the other man leave and then turned back to the photographs. Thumbing through the rest of the stack he found the close-up shot. Apparently the young woman had turned to check for an instant, but missed the camera. Ivy Kinlan’s youthful face stared back at him.
 

Gaia

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
#18
Great chapter! so she got some of her memory back.And Lydecker is on move.wonder how prof with older lydecker look, looks.continue soon,please.
 

spy_youngster

Rocket Ranger
Joined
Jan 10, 2005
Location
B.C., Canada
#19
thats creepy... your prof looks like lydecker... i would get really scared of him... so if i were you id hand in all my assignments on time.. hehe
but great chapter! ivy got back her memory! yaya...i hope she hites Lydecker with the shovel by accident.... that would be funny... and i loved the joke with teh toothbrush.!
 
Joined
May 24, 2003
Location
The future
#20
Chapter 9

It was noon exactly when Lydecker’s convoy deployed itself all over the base, sealing off all possible exits. Lydecker walked right into the office of the base commanding officer, General Yates. Yates was a man of about sixty, but still had the build of a young soldier. He regarded Lydecker with a suspicious eye.

“Can I help you with something, Deck?”

“I need your cooperation for the apprehension of a fugitive, General. One who has taken residence on your base.”

“What’s the name? Which officer?”

“No officer. An X5,”

“You posted one here?”

“No, General. A fugitive. One of the twelve that escaped. I need your cooperation in locking down the base until the X5 is apprehended.”

Yates nodded slowly. “You’ve got it.”

“I want the base locked down. No one leaves, no one enters. Major Kinlan and his wife the Lieutenant… are they on duty now?”

“They should be,” The General nodded.

Lydecker turned to the soldiers behind him. “Smith, Todd, you get to their offices and keep them there. And see if they’ve seen her.”

“Just who is this X5?”

“Ivy Kinlan.” Lydecker remarked.

“That little string bean?” General Yates blurted out. “Jeez, Deck, when you say appearances are deceiving I hope you’re right. I saw that girl out walking this morning, seemed like she was more worried about flunking algebra than running from you.”

“She probably is,” Lydecker remarked. If Ivy had unknowingly been telling him the truth yesterday, then she had no idea where she was or what she was. “Can we confirm that she hasn’t left?”

“Of course.”

A few minutes later, Lydecker was watching a surveillance feed from one of the many cameras on the base. The cameras had caught Ivy walking back towards the residential area several minutes before, but she had disappeared from their range so it had become a guessing game.

* * * *

The smell of garbage wafted from the open dumpster besides where Ivy was sitting on a step behind the mess hall. She was shaking her head to try and clear her thoughts. She wanted to punch herself for being so stupid. You didn’t know any better. In the couple of months she had come face to face with Lydecker and it seemed like he didn’t suspect her. Hopefully he didn’t.

She’d managed to get away from Jack after insisting she was fine and refusing his offer to drive her home. She didn’t want to go home. She needed the time to think. Staring down at her hands, she ran her thumb over a scar she recalled getting from a tree branch when she was six during an ordinance drill. Most of her memory had come back, but then she couldn’t really tell if there were things she still didn’t know. The emotional trauma must have been from the shock of the escape, probably seeing Eva dead more likely. Losing a sister had cost Ivy her memory of that event and everything associated with it.

Ivy became aware of a stray dog scrounging through the trashcans nearby. The dog stopped, looked up at her for a moment and barked. “Yeah, I know I probably smell like a cat,” Ivy remarked.

The door behind Ivy opened and a man in a white apron stepped out. “Get away from here!” The man shook a kitchen rag at the dog. The mutt fled and the man turned and stopped in surprise. “What are you doing back here? Not looking for scraps I hope.”

“Certainly not,” Ivy shrugged. “Sort of hiding.”

“Yeah, well, you sit by that dumpster long enough and everyone’s gonna know where you’ve been hiding,” He smiled politely. “I don’t think I’ve seen you before. You someone’s kid?”

Ivy nodded. “Major Kinlan.”

“What are you hiding from?”

Ivy sighed. “Life. My past has come back to swallow me whole.”

The man sat down on the step next to her. “You might be thinking a lowly cook like me might have some valuable advice in this scenario, but I don’t.”

“That would be cliché,” Ivy replied. She stood. “I might as well just go and face it.”

“That’s the spirit. Try and-“

Ivy wasn’t paying attention. A familiar and distressing sound was buzzing in the distance. She found herself staring towards the road down the alleyway. Ivy glanced upward. The flat roof would be her best bet to see what was approaching. She glanced at the man and half-smiled before running around the corner and jumping. She caught the edge of the roof with one hand and pulled herself up. She hit the ground after moving a few feet towards the edge of the roof.

In the distance she made out Lydecker standing in front of the command office with a group of soldiers. The Hummer she had heard was parked nearby and unfortunately it wasn’t the only one. She could spot three beyond the base perimeter fence along with accompanying gunmen dressed in black protective gear. Ivy cursed beneath her breath. Either another X5 was loose or Lydecker was looking for her.

“You know the name of the game, 825,” Ivy told herself. “Escape and evade.” She was safe for the moment. They would likely search the grounds first. If only she could find a way out before they got to her.

* * * *

Lydecker walked through the front door of the empty Kinlan house. After an hour of searching the base Ivy had not been sighted. There was no sign of Ivy anywhere, but they knew she was still on the base. The fact that she had not been found out in the open told him that she must have remembered something. The girl was smart, but there was no way she would be able to break the perimeter now. It would have been more difficult to box her in if it had not been an Army base with a wire-topped fence.

He left Lieutenant Smith keeping watch and ascended the stairs to approach an open door. It was a bedroom obviously belonging to a teenage girl judging from the assortment of makeup on the dresser top. The bed was made, but several clothing items were tossed carelessly across the comforter. On the desk, a stack of textbooks ranged from ‘History of Music’ to ‘Evolutionary Genetics’. Off in the corner, a folded up music stand was leaned against the wall next to an open instrument case. The cello itself was lazily leaning against the desk chair. For a renowned young musician she certainly didn’t show it in the care of her possessions. The musical talent was partially from her enhanced DNA and partially hereditary. Lydecker’s wife had been a violinist. He had never taken much of a liking to it until after his wife had died and he had gone through a period of clinging to any remote aspect of her life. Before the drinking had started.

Lydecker stepped into the room and noted the numerous unframed photographs hanging along the far wall, mainly of Jack and Mary, a few were of Ivy with her cello. Beneath them he noted a fist sized hole in the drywall, perhaps an indication that a transgenic occupied the room, but not the only one. Among the various bottles littering the dresser, he spotted an orange prescription vial. Tryptophan. Lydecker picked it up. He studied the contents, only three pills were left. Her seizures must have been bad lately. Of course he had no confirmation that this girl was in fact his Ivy, nothing more than pure instinct. He trusted his instincts in this matter. If he didn’t bring her in, then the task was likely to fall to someone who would rather put a bullet in her head. He wanted her alive. He wanted her home.

“Sir!” Smith’s voice was filled with urgency as he shouted from downstairs. “She’s surfaced!”

Lydecker rushed down the stairs. He faced the man. “Where?”

“They’ve engaged near the south perimeter.”

“Let’s go!”

* * * *

Ivy was fending off the last straggler from a trio of soldiers who happened to wander down the wrong alley. It had been easy enough to get the jump on them; they obviously weren’t expecting her to come from above. The last man had long since lost his gun and was keeping up a pathetic attempt at hand-to-hand. Ivy blocked two punches and swung around for a kick when he caught her off guard. His fist plowed into her face and she was knocked to the ground. Ivy found herself facing a turned over trashcan, complete with a lid. She seized the metal lid with both hands and spun around, leaping onto her feet, while bringing her makeshift weapon down hard across the man’s cranium. He staggered for a moment before falling to the ground unconscious.

Ivy caught her breath and pushed back the hair that had fallen over her face. There would be more coming. Static on a radio caught her attention. She knelt down and unclipped the radio from the man’s belt.

The speaker crackled and then a voice came through. “Delta three, repeat your status. Do you have her?” It was Lydecker. Ivy avoided urge to stomp on the radio. Hearing an engine nearby, she pocketed the radio and fled.

* * * *

Lydecker cursed as he surveyed the scene. Two men were standing, nursing head wounds, while a third was still unconscious. Obviously Ivy knew what she was doing. She would have only had a few minutes to run. He turned to one of the men. “Report.”

“She came out of nowhere, Sir. Hit me in the face with my own gun, knocked Kennedy out in one kick.”

“X5’s have a tendency to do that,” Lydecker said. He turned to Lieutenant Smith who was standing beside him. “Fan out. She couldn’t have gone far. We’re gonna find her.”

* * * *

Ivy sat crouched behind the motor pool. It was quiet for the moment. She wiped at her face to find blood on her hand. That soldier had nearly broken her nose. She likely just had a really bad bruise on her face. If she kept this up much longer then a bloody nose would be the most minor of her injuries. X5s weren’t bulletproof no matter how strong or tough they could be. She didn’t doubt Lydecker would try to shoot her. He hadn’t hesitated with Eva. Ivy didn’t want to attack him, she just wanted to escape. That would mean leaving her family behind. She had no other options.

* * * *

“We’re not finding her,” Smith said, hefting his gun. “She might’ve gotten away.”

Lydecker thought for a moment. Or she’s monitoring our communications. “Kennedy, where’s your radio?”

The soldier looked down at his belt as he reached for where the radio should be. His hands found nothing. “It’s gone, Sir.”

“Damn!” Lydecker cursed. He picked up his radio. “Ivy, we know you’re listening. This charade isn’t going to last much longer. If you’ve been listening, then you know where we are. Give yourself up. There’s no use running.” His words were broadcast through the radios all the men carried, but he could have sworn there was a stray echo that came from a different direction.

Lydecker listened carefully. He hit the call button on the radio and sure enough it echoed through the five radios within visible sight. But a stray tone caught his ear. It was only audible for a fraction of a second over the other radios, but the tone had come from above. Lydecker’s breath froze as he reached for his gun.

The roof of the office building next to them had a flat roof, but the actual floor of it was concealed by a ledge. The sound was coming from there as well. “Smith, go check it out.”

Smith nodded, but before he could move there was there was the flash of a shadow visible for a moment on the rooftop.

“She’s on the roof!” Lydecker shouted. “Find her!”

Lydecker threw himself towards the nearest roof access ladder and scrambled up it in pursuit of the girl. He was fast enough to see her leap to the ground from a building in the distance, towards the base gate. She was getting desperate if she was going to try and get out that way.

* * * *

Ivy knew she was being followed. The idea of shadowing their movements had worked for a while, but it had inevitably given up her position. Now she was moving stealthily through the shadows cast by the afternoon sun. From what she had seen of the perimeter, it was locked tight. That didn’t mean she couldn’t make it. If she jumped the fence she might be able to make a run for it on foot, but it was guaranteed that Lydecker had men waiting for her to do just that. She barely breathed as she withdrew behind the cover of a jeep. Her other option was to hotwire a vehicle and ram her way through the defenses, but she’d seen the armament of black Hummers parked by all the base gates.

There was static from the radio. She should have dropped it. The voice of Lydecker came through again, “Ivy, I know you’re scared. I also know that you’re doing what I taught you. Monitoring comms, scoping out hiding places, planning an escape route. It’s not going to work, Ivy. Come home.”

Ivy wanted to get on the radio and rebuke all his words, but she would likely only draw attention to herself if someone heard her talking. Before she could do anything more, a new sound greeted her enhanced hearing. It was a metallic whirring from a distance off – a helicopter.

“felgercarb,” Ivy cursed. She had to get undercover now. Or inside. She ducked into another alley and flattened against the wall just as two soldiers passed- ordinary army, not Lydecker’s men and they were just going about their business. She waited for them to pass and then went out and tried the first door she found. It was just a supply warehouse and the door was locked, but she gave the doorknob a swift kick and it swung open. Ivy stepped in and shut the door behind her.
“We’ve got her cornered!” Kennedy shouted. “Surveillance cameras caught her running for cover. Delta two’s already got the area surrounded.”

“They’d better be right this time,” Lydecker said as he got into the Hummer with the TAC team. They sped off for the other side of the base.

* * * *

Ivy heard the engines dying and the sound of combat boots on the pavement. A shadow passed over the window above her head. She was crouched behind a row of metal shelves stocked with cardboard boxes. She was surrounded and she knew it.

There was a crash as something shattered the window. It was followed by a metallic clank and Ivy knew instantly to expect the room to fill with smoke in the next few seconds. She stayed hidden and waited as she heard the doors slam open and footsteps poured in.

“There!” Someone shouted and Ivy knew she’d been seen.

She ran from her hiding place and came face to face with a TAC team soldier. The man seemed more stunned than anything else; his face was half obscured behind a gas mask. Ivy didn’t hesitate to strike at him in that instant and knocked the man down without a second thought. She grabbed his rifle and raised it into the air to strike at an oncoming man. She never got the chance.

Ivy never heard the gun go off over the sound of footsteps and shouting. A bullet hit her from behind and was followed by another. Ivy froze and glanced down to see two spots of red blood materializing on her shirt.

* * * *

Lydecker pushed past the staring soldiers to approach Ivy. The girl was still standing, staring at her own blood in near shock. He knew she would collapse any instant.

“We need a medical evac!” Lydecker shouted at the top of his lungs. He turned back to the girl.

Ivy’s eyes opened wide. “I trusted you!”

“Ivy, you’re surrounded.”

“See if I let that stop me!”

“You’ll bleed to death.”

“I don’t give a felgercarb!”

She turned slowly to look at the faces of the men around her. Ten stoic-faced men just looked back at her over the muzzles of their rifles.

“Don’t try anything,” Lydecker said firmly.

“What are you gonna do, Deck?” Ivy questioned, her voice was shaky and laced with apparent pain. “Shoot me?”

Their eyes met. Lydecker swallowed. He had never realized it before now. She had his eyes. This was his Ivy, his own daughter. He found himself looking into the face of his dead wife. “Ivy…”

Another gun shot echoed through the room and Ivy collapsed.

Lydecker stared in disbelief for a moment before he realized someone was standing beside him.

Jim McGinnis was returning his gun to its holster. He half smirked at Lydecker. “It’s like I told you, Deck. The committee wants the X5 situation resolved. Looks like I just resolved one loose end for you.”

Lydecker ignored him and knelt down beside the girl. Red blood was seeping through the fabric of her shirt, but amazingly she was still breathing. He stood and in a moment of rage grabbed McGinnis by the collar and slammed his back into the nearest wall. “You almost killed her!”

“Which you should have done, Deck,” McGinnis defended. “Don’t tell me you’re getting soft for your kids. She would have gotten away if I hadn’t done it!”

“She wouldn’t have gotten far.”

McGinnis held up his hands.

Lydecker released him, “Get out of my sight!”

* * * *

Lydecker followed Ivy’s transportation back to Manticore, but was forced to step aside when they finally arrived at the infirmary.

“We’ve got a female X5. Multiple gunshot wounds to the torso. Collapsed lung, bullet might’ve nicked the heart.” The medic shouted as the gurney rushed in.

Lydecker observed the whole scene from behind the glass. He took a deep breath. After ten years he had finally found her. And for what? She just might die right in front of him. He had to admit that he was proud of what she had become. Now all he could do was watch as they worked to save her life.

* * * *

“Sir?”

Lydecker barely noticed the woman in a lab coat standing right beside him. He had been staring through the window for two hours. Now an orderly was cleaning up the operating room. Lydecker sighed and turned to the woman. “Yes, Doctor.”

“Sir, we’ve managed to stabilize 825,” The woman checked her clipboard.
However, with the damage to her heart we’ve had to induce coma.”

“Will she survive?”

“It’s difficult to tell right now, Colonel, but the next forty-eight hours will reveal that.”

Lydecker nodded and dismissed the doctor.

* * * *

I don’t know how soon the next chapter will be up because I have to write a short story and a lit paper for school this week.

Thanks for your reviews!
 
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