Another day in dystopian Seattle, only this time we don’t start with Max. We start with a woman hiding in a freezer who runs when discovered – and when she’s clear she uses the advanced senses Max has to check for pursuers – and she has a tattoo on the back of her neck.
It’s Brin, another X-5 and she’s on the run and calling for help after a close call with Lydecker’s people. Speaking of Lydecker, he’s quite literally taking a hit on the Pope, using “his kids” as assassins. In exchange, Lydecker wants more funding for Mantecore, to bring to the next stage – but he can’t while the X5s remain at large.
Max comes home to find Kendra away with her boyfriend – and Zack, injured and near collapse. He came to help Brin, but men took her (using tasers) and injured him (using a car) in the process. She gets him help – taking him to Logan and Bling, which Zack isn’t happy about. And she wants to rescue Brin – which Zack is even less happy about; he had given up on her and is moving on to keep the other X5s safe. As the last time we saw him, Zack is still very much in a Mantecore mentality, worrying about security and trying to command Max. And like last time, Max isn’t having it.
Logan starts using his eyes-only information net to try and find out when Brin is being taken out of the city. They don’t find much, but they do find a lot of history about Lydecker, his exemplary military record until his wife was murdered, then him becoming an alcoholic in the aftermath. Looking at this and discovering Lydecker’s in the AA programme, Max and Zack go infiltrate the local meeting to see if they can follow him.
And by follow, Max means capture and stuff in the boot of a car. To take him to a nice isolated location where they can ask Lydecker lots of questions about Brin with their fists. Lydekcer realises he has been captured by X5s, tries to guess which ones have him while assuring them that he doesn’t have Brin. They don’t believe him so he recites their torture training and breaks his own finger – well, he’s a very obliging prisoner, isn’t he? He suggests that there are any number of foreign governments that would pay a fortune for Mantecore technology – and there are many people who would kidnap an X5 to sell them. He suggests they check various military contacts to see if anyone’s offering a transgenic super-soldier for sale.
Max sends Zack to see Logan and check his contacts (she doesn’t want to leave Zack alone with Lydecker in case “something tragic happens”.)
Logan does the research – the Chinese military has been looking to buy Mantecore technology and they’ve finally had their order filled by a Major Jake Sanders, he’s gone rogue and runs his military unit like his own personal fiefdom. Zack also takes the opportunity to point out to Logan that he endangers Max with his relationship because, sensibly, Max should have left Seattle long ago but she is staying because of her ties with friends. Lydecker’s attempts to encourage Max to return to Mantecore are interrupted by the news about Sanders – which doesn’t amuse him since he used to serve with the Major. Max decides to use Lydecker to get them into the base – though Zack protests since they can’t trust Lydecker and he’ll know what they look like.
In the base, though, Lydecker appears to betray them, asking to be cut in to Major Sanders deal. And to sweeten the pot, he’s brought 2 more X5s to sell – leading to Max and Zack being imprisoned with Brin. Which is good for Sanders, because Brin is aging extremely rapidly – one of the side effects that has affected 4 of the X5 group.
Max starts playing with the guards, who are too afraid to be seduced. Meanwhile Lydecker goes to talk figures with Major Sanders and, when they’re alone, stabs him just before the Major can shoot Lydecker. It’s then he receives a call from the cells that Max appears to have hanged herself. He runs to the cells, demanding they do not open the door under any circumstances – but they do and Max tears through them. They escape with Brin, just as the Mantecore troops Lydecker called arrive. They escape while Sander’s men and Mantecore are fighting
But on the road, Lydecker calls and asks what their plan is – since Brin will die in a few days without treatment only Mantecore can give. With no choice and with Brin begging them not to let her die, Max and Zack leave Brin for Lydecker to find.
At Jam Pony there’s another drama. Normal has convinced a Mr. Sivapathasindaram, a rich Indian businessman, to invest heavily in Jam Pony – buying it effectively. In doing so he will put a lot of money into the business and allow Normal to be completely insufferable.
Original Cindy decides that the buy out has to be sabotaged and she, Sketchy and Herbal start plotting to make sure it doesn’t happen – first by ingratiating themselves with Normal and, in doing so, spiking his drink with powerful laxatives.
Stage 2 is to greet Mr. Sivapathasindaram while Normal has to stay off sick and tell him how wonderful Jam Pony is and how they’re even allowed to carry biological material, transplant organs and live bacteria. At which point Herbal drops a box with “toxic” and “biohazard” written all over it, it emits lots of green gas and the Jam Pony staff fall to the floor retching. Sketchy hurries Sivapathasindaram to the back room out of the way, panicking about a horrible death by plague. Outside, herbal uses a loudspeaker to imitate the police and say the building is under quarantine and anyone trying to leave will be shot.
Sketchy, still with Sivapathasindaram, suggests that, with the economy in utter ruins, the CDC may decide to just burn down the building – and that their only way to escape is through the tunnels under the building. At the end of the tunnel Sketchy starts retching and Sivapathasindaram runs.
The next day poor Normal can’t get a hold of Sivapathasindaram and his dreams are all down.
Max sees Logan, worrying if she did the right thing, - while Logan is worried about Lydecker knowing what she looks like. Brin, at Mantecore, is healed of the rapid aging and is sent back in for re-indoctrination.
Again I praise both the dystopia and how it’s portrayed and the diversity of Dark Angel, both are extremely well done and unusual.
I like the moral quandary and debate that comes with Brin and her aging and, again, the weight of that same fear for all of them. It helped bring home again just how little they know about their genetics and how easily they can turn on them. The side-effects to being genetically enhanced are really well displayed.