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Author's Chapter Notes:
Initially this was inspired by a dream, but it completely changed from it's original source material in the writing. It's more Max/Alec implied than a straightforward shipper fic. Originally published at fanfiction.net: 12-27-02
Darkness Within
By Sorrow



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Here at last
We shall be free;
the Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.


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The fading sunset shone down through the trees as he made his way through the forest, towards the remains of his childhood home. The place that had come to be known as ’Hell’ to his fellow kind. Soon it would be dark and he would be alone amidst the ghosts of those who had been left behind. He could almost hear them now, howling around him; the screams of those who had burnt alive within Manticore’s inferno, and the cries of the ones who had died during their flight from it's wreck.

Remembering how he had stood above it all and watched the place crumble to it's knees, he recalled the way he had felt while watching flames devour the building - and those trapped within their fiery prison.

Lost.

He almost wished he could have been down there with his fellow soldiers. Fleeing for his life. Maybe taking a bullet through the kidneys. Maybe taking two. He felt as if he had cheated death. Maybe he had.

All night he watched the fires slowly die down and the soldiers slowly die. Finally, when silence descended, he walked away from the embers of his home and the memories of all he had ever known. But as he set forth to begin a new life in a world that did not want him, the screams of his fellow soldiers as they lay dying would taunt him forever.

During the long nights that followed, alone in the broken world, he had lain awake at night and felt the guilt of a hundred deaths bear down upon him. He felt he it was his fault that Manticore had burnt. He could have stopped it. Somehow.

Regret.

He wasn’t meant to be here. He should have died with the others. His entire unit had perished in the initial blast. In the blink of an eye, the flick of a switch, they had vanished. Their lives winking out like a dead star. No one would ever know who they had been. No one would ever know who they could have been. He should have died with them. A captain never leaves a sinking ship before his men.

He had tried to forget the soldier within him. He had tried to hide from the darkness within. But the voices of the dead whispered in his ear as he lay awake at night, danced before his eyelids as he tried to rest his eyes. There could be no escape from the burden of life. And life was indeed a burden.

Despair.

He now reached the spot where he had watched his world collapse, and felt again, the pull at his heart as memories tore through him. So many lost. So many hunted down in the aftermath. His kind had not been accepted, they had been slaughtered. And now they were all but wiped off the face of the earth. He was one of the last.

Twice over he had watched his fellow soldiers cut down; mass murdered before his eyes. The ghosts of the condemned had howled in his heart, tearing at his soul, beckoning him to join them. But still he remained on this scarred and lonely earth. And this knowledge was the heaviest burden to bear. It was so hard to battle through each and every day. So hard to will himself to draw breath.

Today was the 3rd anniversary of Manticore’s demise, but he had not come here to celebrate. He had come to mourn. And with any luck, he had come to die.

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The silence of her surroundings was not unusual. She had grown used to the absence of life in these past few months. Evading the enemy. That’s what her existence had boiled down to. The only difference had been the enemy itself.

Once she had thought Manticore was her only threat. How simple life had been back then. How long ago? Running from those who wished to drag her back to the life she sought to escape. But if only she had never left. In Manticore she would have been safe. Her people would still be alive now.

She should have known better.

The familiars with their crazy mutterings and snake blood had been a joke at first. A prophesy? The Chosen One? Crazy mutterings, that was all. She had believed the humans to be their real danger. And as her family and all she had come to love were slaughtered before her, they had indeed been the source of many a nightmare. But the worst was yet to come.

She should have known.

The familiars finished off those who the humans had left behind. And at the end of the day, it was the familiars who had won the game. They were patient. For thousands of years they had learnt to bide their time. They only had to wait for the humans to predictably slaughter their only salvation - the transgenics. And then they stepped in to erase humanity itself.

She should have known.

So now here she was, at the place where the downfall of her kind had begun. Manticore. Only, their downfall had not been in its creation as she had once thought, but in its death.

Staring down at the remains, she felt her heart torn to pieces by the bitter pain of regret. In her mind’s eye, she could see the place as it once was and in hindsight, it seemed majestic. In the courtyard, soldiers practiced hand to hand combat. In the forest, X7’s patrolled the perimeter. Children hunted murderers as if it were a game of hide and seek. Well, to them it was. Once these images filled her with horror, but after all she had seen… she would do anything to have that time back.

Living had become a game of hide and seek.

How bad life must now be to want to return to Manticore. But indeed it was bad. And her heart did ache at the loss. She had traded one Hell for another. And this one was so much worse. Tears caused her to blink and the past slipped out of sight leaving her once more to stare at the present and the future before her. Gone were the soldiers. Gone were the children. Gone were the reasons for living, for gone was life itself. The familiars had won. The prophesy had spoken and they had listened too late.

As the prophesy had always known they would.

Now here it would end. Death she welcomed - release from life and deliverance into the arms of Hell one final time. A better Hell than this. How crazy to hope for such a thing. But perhaps in Hell she would find her family waiting. She was so tired of being alone.

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They met amidst the ruins as if it were meant to be. For a brief moment hope flared. It had been so long yet here they were, together once more. Brought together by fate perhaps? Was there more of their kind out there - searching as they had been?

They could wait and hope ‘just in case‘. They could lie to themselves, and to each other. But they had seen too many deaths and knew hope had no place on this earth. Like foxes pursued endlessly by the hounds, they were tired of running. Tired of hiding. Tired of yearning. Tired of life

But still, there was a chance...


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He watched the hope fade in her eyes. They sensed rather than heard the enemy close in on them. It was too late. It seemed they had no choice in their fate. Right up to the way in which they would die. But still, they had to try.

Running now, they headed towards the forest. Leaping fallen logs and crystal streams, they continued their life long plight. Once they had been soldiers. Once they had been strong and indestructible, or so it had seemed. How long ago?

She heard a crash and saw him go down from the corner of her eye. She knew she could leave him here for them to finish off. She would live another day perhaps. It would buy her time for one more day.

Who wants one more day?

Turning back, she saw the relief in his eyes. He didn’t want to be alone. She knew the feeling. Panic beat helplessly against her rib cage. Her heart had been replaced by a fistful of moths. With her mind screaming at her to run, she knelt beside him and cradled him in her arms. It was over.

He reached up a hand to stroke her cheek. Fingers met tears. He hadn’t felt human contact in so long and tears stung his own eyes as he realised how much time had been lost. How different life could have been for them both.

Biting back the pain, he tried to smile. The Familiars were drawing close. He could hear them with his ears now as twigs snapped beneath their feet. Honing in on them like wild dogs on the fresh scent of blood. They would be made to linger on the verge of life and death before peace would come to their torn bodies at last. He knew that as much as she did.

“Run. You can still run.”

His voice cracked as he spoke those words. It had been so long since he had cause for speech. She shook her head with vigour. Tears spilled down her face in a fresh wave of regret. There were so many things he wanted to tell her but there would never be the chance for such words now in this lifetime.

“I won’t leave you here. I won’t let them take you.”

She had been through this before. That was the horror of it all. This scenario doomed to be repeated like a glitch in history from which she could never escape. But she wouldn’t let them hurt him. That guilt couldn‘t be her final thought. Enough pain had been inflicted on him because of her already. She wouldn’t let them hurt him any further. It was the one thing she could do to show her love. Words would never suffice and actions spoke louder.

He knew. She felt him relax in her arms in preparation for what she was about to do. If only she could have told him she had never meant for this to happen. She had never meant to leave him so long ago to wander this world alone. She had never meant to ever leave his side.

Leaning forward, she sought his lips with her own, but the contact was never made. In that moment their enemies burst into the clearing, and in a split second a new choice was made. It was the only choice. His eyes forgave her as with a twist of her wrists, she snapped his neck and delivered him from evil. The light in his eyes faded as she released him from the bonds of life at last.


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Alone now. She was truly the last one left. In all the world, she was the last one. Clutching the body in her arms tighter, she longed to have the quick death he had been given. But by the look in their eyes as they closed in, she would have no such fate.


The End.