Chapter Three – Proposition

2020, Post-Pulse Seattle, Washington – Present Day

Logan Cale sat at his desk, his eyes intent on the monitors before him. Being an underground cyber-journalist had its good and bad points. He enjoyed his work; it was good to be able to help people in need. But it tapped into his resources. Thank god for the success of Cale Industries. It meant that he was set for life.

Being Eyes Only was his rebellion. His family was opposed to his chosen profession, journalism, and they took every opportunity to rub his face in what they called his ‘fall from grace’. Logan never measured up to family standards. But lucky for him, he didn’t care. His family were high society snobs. And he was the ‘only free voice left in this city’.

Eyes Only was privy to information the public wasn’t aware of. But the public needed to know. Logan spread this information in single-minute, untraceable broadcasts. He worked on various projects, all centered on saving those in need. He had contacts across the globe; local and foreign law enforcement, government – The city of Seattle reached out to Eyes Only and he got the job done with the help of the S1W.

Asha was a member of S1W, a rebel group with goals similar to his, and he’d met her on a mission. Eyes Only had been trying to save a group of teenage girls from being shipped overseas for a life of drugs and prostitution. The S1W had gotten in the crossfire. Being a group of intelligent individuals, the rebel faction had joined forces with Eyes Only, saving the day. It was only a matter of time before Logan and Asha became a couple.

“Whatcha workin’ on, Logan?” Asha asked sleepily as she rose from the couch.

“This Manticore thing. Do you remember Deacon Mavis?” she nodded and he continued. “Deac was one of my contacts. Used to help me out will all kinds of stuff for Eyes Only. A couple years ago he got into a situation with the some major players. They kidnapped him.

“He was being held at a facility just outside of Gillette, Wyoming. One of the guys guarding him liked to talk a lot. Apparently, the group holding him was a branch of the South African Militia.

“The South Africans are interested in creating a new army. A genetically engineered army. And rumor has it that there is a secret military base in Gillette that is home to just such an army. Scores of kids whose genetic make-up has been manipulated to give them enhanced abilities.” he finished and turned to look at his girlfriend.

“Our government’s creating a freak army. Great. So that’s what you’ve been working on all these months.”

He nodded to Asha. “There’s more. The kids supposedly have a tattoo on the back of their necks. Like a serial number. They can run, jump and fight better and faster than any human. They’re raised as soldiers even before they can talk. Trained as assassins as young as eight years old. It’s frightening really.

“I just hacked into their database. It seems that 12 children escaped back in 2009. They’ve been AWOL ever since though a few were later captured, poor bastards.”

Logan rubbed his eyes. It was late and he hadn’t slept well in days. The sound of Asha’s soft snoring reached his ears and he smiled. Maybe I should join her in there. He got to his feet and walked toward the bedroom.

A shadow fell on the wall. Logan stilled and held his breath. Reaching beneath his shirt, he extracted his gun from the waistband of his jeans. As Eyes Only he was in constant danger and packing heat was a necessity. He raised his weapon and waited.

Max pried the skylight open and dropped a length of rope through the opening. She lowered herself down into the room below until she was hovering 4 feet from the ground. She reached into her bag and removed a can. Spraying gently in a back and forth motion, she discovered to her great relief that there were no laser beams or motion sensors. She dropped silently to the ground.

Max surveyed her surroundings and noted the 3 rooms branching off from where she stood. Tiptoeing across the floor, she made her way toward the library.

It had taken a lot of persuasion but with her little trip down to the town hall and her seduction game with Gary, a young guard there, she’d managed to sneak a peak at the plans of the building. The safe should be right about…here.

She stopped in front of a large portrait and proceeded to lift it from the wall, placing it gently beside her. She turned to the task of picking the intricate lock. The safe popped open with a soft ‘click’.

Reaching inside with a gloved hand, she scooped out pieces of jewelry and stacks of cash. *Score!* She smiled as she closed the safe, replaced the painting and turned to leave.

In her haste to put things back in order she had failed to hear him come up behind her. She was now staring down the barrel of Logan Cale’s 9mm Beretta. Oh, joy.

“I know you! What the fuck are you doing here?” Logan exclaimed as he looked at Max. Hers was a face you didn’t forget. Her stance was relaxed and she seemed indifferent to the threat his weapon posed.

She glared at him. “Robbing you blind, what does it look I’m doing? You looked like an easy target. Anyway, I don’t like guns. Can you put that thing down?” she waved at him.

Logan lowered his gun and tucked it away. He didn’t feel threatened by the girl, what was her name? Max, right. He looked at her long and hard.

“Y’know, Cale, I’m gettin’ kinda bored. What say I blaze, you keep the loot and we both forget this ever happened? That way everyone’s happy. Well not me, not exactly. I coulda fenced your shit for some serious cash, but whatever.”

Incredulous, Logan was speechless. When control returned, he sputtered. “Hell no, you’re not going anywhere. You’re gonna sit you thieving ass down on that couch and I’m going call the cops. Then you’re going tell me how you got into my apartment.”

He strode purposefully toward the phone but Max reacted quickly. Blurring across the room she grabbed him in a stranglehold, squeezing gently. He slumped to clutching his throat and wheezing hard. Max hurriedly scooped up the loot and was about to climb the rope when a bullet tore through her leg and she fell to the ground gasping in pain.

Asha stood in the doorway, her .45 pointed at the Max. “Who the hell are you and what did you do to Logan ?” she bit out. Asha didn’t like threats. Usually a ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ kind of girl, she hadn’t hesitated to shoot the intruder.

A scraping sound made her turn slightly. Logan was dragging himself along the wall, holding his head in one hand.

“Asha, wait.” He went over to Max and saw blood seeping from just below the knee. He bent to take a closer look. “We need to get her to a hospital.”

Max’s eyes went wild. “No! No hospital, please!” she tried to stand but the pressure on her leg was too much and she collapsed.

At that moment, Max’s hair fell forward off her neck and Logan caught a glimpse of black. Grabbing her wrist he twisted her around to face him.

“What’s that on your neck?” he asked, suspicious that he already knew the answer, wanting her to confirm it.

“N-n-nothing. I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She stuttered as fear gripped her heart. God, not now. Not after all this time. Not like this.

Logan yanked her head down and stared in shock at the sight before him. There in plain view, stark black lines stared up at him. She has a barcode. She’s Manticore!

“You’re from Manticore.” he said. A statement, not a question. Max began to sweat.

She screamed, face clenched both in pain and determination. “AND I’M NEVER GOING BACK! YOU’LL HAVE TO KILL ME FIRST!”

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