posted on 19-May-2002 7:56:04 PM by peppero8872

Category- CC
Rating- PG-13 to soft R for language and some violence
Disclaimer- I don’t own anything.
Summary- AU. No aliens. It takes place a long ways into the future (not the characters’ future, but the future of the world as a whole). Basically, the world has been split into two societies- the way the majority population lives, and the Underground. Genetic engineering and power-hungry leaders have changed the larger society over time. They don’t think for themselves, don’t feel emotions (the ones they do feel are very shallow), follow strict orders, etc. (Some of this world is based on the book “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, which I do not own.) Max, Isabel, Michael, and Tess live in this world. Liz, Alex, Maria, and Kyle are members of the Underground, a secret society known only as a myth to the rest of the world that is trying desperately to hold on to the freedoms, ideals, and ways of our time.


“Three years! That’s how long we’ve been running missions for you. Three very VERY BUSY, VERY DANGEROUS years! And you go and stick us with a ROOKIE??!!”

“I wouldn’t exactly call her a rookie. She’s run more difficult, dangerous missions than the three of you put together. She’s the best of the best.”

“Is that so? Then why does she do free-lance work instead of joining the organized forces?”

“She doesn’t like the rules. She wants more time off. How should I know? All I know is she’s the best, and we need the best for this.”

“Think about it for a second. The three of us have been working as a threesome for the entire time we’ve been here. Do you know what would happen if you added a fourth person? Everything would be completely out of balance. We wouldn’t know how to work. Trust me, she’ll just throw everything off.”

“You’re right, the three of you do an excellent job together, and if it were up to me I’d let it go. But it’s not my decision- the board is in charge of all of this. You don’t have a choice. You take her with or you don’t go on the mission.”

“Fine. We’ll take her. But just for this one mission. And if she screws anything up… it’s your ass.”

* * *

“Miss Parker?”

Liz Parker stood up in the waiting room. “That’s me.”

“Right this way.”

She followed the man in the white lab coat down a long corridor. They stopped outside the second room from the end of the hall, and he opened the door for her. “They’re waiting for you inside.”

Liz thanked him and stepped into the room. She was expecting four people to be in the room, and was slightly surprised to see only one. But she hid it well as she smiled in recognition. “Hello, Ed.” He returned her greeting, and her smile grew wider when she saw the expression on his face. “I’m guessing they didn’t take it well?”

“It’s not that, exactly, they just need to get used to the idea of having a fourth party, that’s all. Once they’re comfortable with you everything should go rather smoothly.”

“Wow.” Liz looked at him for a second, her amusement plain as day on her face. “They must have really been pissed if you made up a load of crap like that to give me.” He gave her a denying smile. “I must admit, though, it’s some of the best stuff you’ve ever used on me.”

“Very funny, Liz. This is for you.” He handed her a file folder and was about to say more when the door Liz had come through opened again. Three people filed in silently, all obviously not happy to be there. Liz grinned mentally. These had to be the people she’d be working with.

Ed turned to the room’s three new occupants and smiled. Liz had been right. They weren’t taking the news of their new addition well. But they’d have to either get over it or suck it up, because that was the only way to get this mission done. And this mission was crucial to the success of this organization, as well as to the survival of everyone it was designed to protect. It wasn’t so much whether the mission succeeded or not, the threat lay in the possible exposure of what they were doing. If that happened they’d all be killed.

He heard Liz clear her throat, and his brain jumped back to the task at hand. “Liz, this is the team you’ll be working with for this mission. This is Alex Whitman,” he pointed to the tall, skinny, dark-haired guy, “Kyle Valenti,” then to the shorter guy with lighter hair, “and Maria Deluca,” he finished pointing to the girl with long blonde hair standing between the two boys. “Guys, this is Li-”

“Liz Parker, yeah, we know,” interrupted Maria, obviously annoyed. Liz turned to Ed and raised her eyebrows. He gave her a sympathetic smile. Maria spoke up again. “Can we please just go and get this over with?”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you too,” Liz said sarcastically.

“Look,” Maria started, “I know this might be a hard concept for you to grasp, but I’m the leader of this group. Not you. So don’t bullshit around when I tell you to do something. And don’t even think about second-guessing my decisions. Got it?”

Liz nodded. “Yeah, I got it.” Maria turned to go, but Liz stopped her. “Now you get something.”

Maria looked at her, her mouth half open. Alex and Kyle’s eyes were wide. “What?”

“I said, now you get something. I’m not five years old, so don’t treat me like it. I’m every damn bit as good as you and you know it. I know what I’m doing. And as for decisions- I’ll stick to yours if you stick to mine.” It seemed like she was finished, but then she turned and added, “Oh, and one more thing. You ever go against me when I tell you I know what I’m doing, and I won’t hesitate to beat the living shit out of you.”

* * *

“What the hell was that?”

Liz rolled her eyes before turning to Ed with an amused expression on her face. “What the hell was what?”

“Don’t you dare start playing those games with me, Liz Parker,” Ed muttered with narrowed eyes. “You know I’m talking about that little performance you just gave them. Don’t tell me you’re second-guessing your choices.”

“I was doing nothing of the kind. I was simply making them second-guess themselves,” Liz explained.

“You can’t do that,” Ed told her. “They need to be sure of themselves, but more importantly you have to trust each other. If you don’t trust them, they won’t trust you, and it’ll cost us all our lives.”

Liz let out an exasperated sigh. “You think I don’t know that? I know they need to be confident, but there’s a fine line between confidence and over-confidence. Confidence is great to get you out of a quick fix or to get rid of doubt, but over-confidence can kill you just as quickly. And right now, they’re really pushing the over-confident button. Something has to bring them back to reality, or they’ll get sloppy and we’ll be screwed. You know that.”

“What about the trust?”

“I trust them completely,” Liz answered.

“Do you?”

She looked him square in the eye to make sure he knew she was serious. “They wouldn’t be here if I didn’t.”

Ed nodded his head, then walked over to Liz and shook her hand. “Alright then. It’s your mission.”

“Thank you,” Liz said. She smiled, and he smiled back.

“Good luck.”

* * *

Please let me know what you think.

[ edited 1 time(s), last at 24-May-2002 7:21:52 PM ]
posted on 24-May-2002 7:17:13 PM by peppero8872
Thanks so much for all of the great feedback! I really appreciate it. Sorry to take so long getting out a new part. I've been busy getting ready for my brother's graduation, and I might be slow with the parts for a couple more weeks, but things should pick up by mid-June. Enjoy the next part.


“Max! It’s time to leave for school!”

Max Evans removed his backpack from its hook and exited his room. Isabel, his sister, was waiting patiently in the living room.

“Good morning, Max,” Isabel said politely.

“Good morning, Isabel,” he returned. It was the standard morning greeting. There was also the standard for leaving for school.

“Goodbye, children. Have a good day.” This came from their parents in unison.

Max and Isabel issued a “Goodbye, Mother and Father,” in unison, then walked out the door to their bicycles.

On their ride to school they talked about trivial things, the same way they always did. About halfway to the school, they met up with Michael and Tess Guerin, their best friends. They talked about meaningless things for a bit, until Michael spoke up.

“So, Max, is it true?”

Isabel, Max, and Tess all gave him a confused look. “When has anyone ever told you something that wasn’t true, Michael?” Max asked.

“Never, I guess,” Michael said. “I apologize for my lack of specification.”

“We accept your apology,” the three of them stated together. It was, of course, the standard.

“What I meant to say,” Michael started over, “was, is your father really starting on Operation One today?”

Max smiled at the mention of the new operation. “Yeah. It’s going to be great. The Rebels aren’t going to know what hit them. We’ll be in and out, and then they’ll all be gone or turned. Unless…” Max trailed off, and Tess prompted him to continue.

“Unless what?”

Max’s teeth clenched. “Unless SHE gets in the way again.”

Michael was surprised. “I thought that they killed her last time. My father was almost positive that they had.”

“So was everyone else.”

“Then what went wrong?”

Max sighed. “I don’t know. My father said that they were about to eliminate her, and they put her in a special room where they put everyone they eliminate. Then there was a security breech and they had to take care of it- even if it was just a computer glitch. When they went back to the room two hours later to get her, she was gone. They never found out how she got away. As far as we know, she’s alive and well.” He paused, and then added “Unfortunately,” under his breath.

“Don’t worry about it, Max,” Michael reassured him. “If she’s not eliminated by the time we take charge, then we can take care of it during our first week on duty. I’m pretty sure that it can’t be that hard to catch and eliminate a Rebel, even if it is her.”

“They’ve failed to eliminate her three times already, Michael,” Max argued. “What makes you think we’ll succeed in such a short amount of time?”

“I apologize for interrupting,” Isabel said, starting with the standard apology, “but Tess and I would like to know who this she is that the two of you are discussing.”

“You know, Isabel,” Max told her. She shook her head in denial. “Come on, Father talks about her all the time at home. He always the calls her ‘The Rebel Without a Cause,’ whatever that means. He says that if they cannot eliminate her, she could mean the destruction of our entire society. All though, I can never figure out how they figure one girl can destroy something as big as the way we live.”

“Max, I still don’t know who you are talking about.” Isabel seemed even more confused now, as did Tess.

“Her name is…” Max had the name on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn’t think of it. He turned to Michael for help, but Michael looked just as confused as he was. Why couldn’t they remember her name?

It wasn’t important anymore, though, because they had reached school. They put their bicycles in the port and entered the building. Isabel and Tess had their classes together, as did Max and Michael. They went their separate ways at the door, and Max and Michael agreed to talk more about Operation One later.

Their first class of the day was history, a class both of the boys thoroughly enjoyed. Especially now- they were currently studying the differences between the Rebel’s society and their own, and the history of the conflict between them. Max and Michael paid extra-close attention to this unit, because they knew that when they got their assignments at the end of this year that they would be training to replace their fathers as the heads of the anti-Rebel forces.

They did not, however, discuss the reasons behind the conflict between the two societies. The most that the average citizen knew was that they were fighting them because the generations before them had, back and back until no one could remember. The only ones who knew the reason behind the conflict were those who were in charge of it. Max and Michael would be told when they started their assignments.

It was believed that all of the Rebels knew what they were fighting for. If they didn’t, then why keep fighting? Why not just give up, surrender, and stop living the primitive way that they did? But they didn’t give up, so they had to have a reason.

Today’s lesson was about the way that the Rebels lived, and Max had to admit that it was intriguing. They didn’t even do the simplest things that required such little effort that normal people didn’t think about them. Like following the simple rules of common courtesy and precision of language, for example. They were rude to each other and used words the likes of which Max had never heard anyone in his society utter.

But their appearance was what puzzled Max the most. Most of them didn’t look anything like his people. They all had different color hair, and eyes, and skin tones. It was the complete opposite in Max’s world, where everyone had strawberry-blonde hair and pale blue eyes. They could wear their hair any length they wanted, in any style they wanted. They were so unconformed, all so different from each other. Differences were frowned on in the normal society.

Max pushed those thoughts out of his head and shifted slightly in his seat. He tuned back in to what his teacher was saying. He didn’t want to get caught not paying attention. So he made himself comfortable and listened intently to the rest of his history lesson. It was, of course, the standard.