On the decks of the André Marlene, harbored in Seattle's port district, two crimes are about to be committed. One is against the Sector Police, smuggling people out from a country whose borders are zealously guarded in the name of order. The other is against humanity, for the fifteen souls asking for passage to the Promised Land in exchange for a high fee might have their travel plans and lives cut short. Joel Solinski is good at that sort of thing. Selling dreams of hope to the desperate and smashing them as he dumps the bodies into the ocean without care or consequence. But, Max is good at her job too. For someone with her abilities, it's easy to infiltrate a well-guarded deck without detection and rip off Solinski of his blood money without notice. She enjoys the thrill of taking out a few goons standing in her way…and the sounds of gunshots as Solinski and his cohorts kill each other in the heat of the moment over who stiffed whom. Of course, she's a little more tense this night. Her feline side is in…heat, one of the side effects of having genetically engineered skills. Still, taking down a few crooked smugglers for Logan does help blow off steam…especially since Lydecker is mounting more pressure on those with whom Max associates in her search for her genetic siblings. Apparently, she's the best lead he has on recovering the surviving Manticore escapees and he'll find her by any means necessary.
Her latest assignment for Eyes Only done, Max retires to a nearby bar with her friends Straight Cindy and Kendra. The ladies are drinking well and checking out the action, both of the stunt bikers proving themselves on the counter and the various fine chicks and boys cruising for a night's action. One particular scrub, Eric, catches Max when her need for companionship is at its peak…until Logan's little message on her beeper ruins the chase. Max jets off to his apartment, where he continues his rehabilitation from the attempt on his life that leaves him in a wheelchair. While the assault on Solinski's ring is appreciated, the hunt for further information on Max's problem is proving time consuming. Max doesn't like to wait anymore than Logan enjoys being crippled. She goes off back to the bar and gets Eric to pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, he's had a little too much 'fun.' Max doesn't care. She wants some lovin'…NOW! Off the pair goes to her apartment. While Eric makes ready for passion, Max suddenly has second thoughts about this one night stand in waiting. She throws caution to the wind and strips down…to the presence of a now comatose lover boy. Her 'purity' is safe for the night.
In the morning, Kendra and Eric muse over the night that didn't happen. Max is polite and holds no malice. She knows what happened. Eric was asleep, and she did her nails. End of tale. Of course, Eric doesn't see it that way. So enthralled is he with his new 'girlfriend,' that he sends a case of motorcycle oil over to her work. In the frequent shortages of goods in Post-Pulse America, where supply lines are sporadic at best, such a case is worth its weight in gold on the black market. Max decides to keep it. She may not in love with this boy, but motorcycle oil is hard to come by these days.
Her lucky streak continues to hold as Logan finds some valuable information on some of the Manticore personnel. For an alleged SAC airbase in Wyoming, they had a lot more scientists and medical staff than pilots. One of these staffers, named Hannah Sukova, was transferred to Sedro Island Naval Air Station three months after the break-out. Hannah was the woman who helped Max along during her first night of freedom. Thrilled by this discovery, Max decides to visit the island and locate this woman. Logan advises caution, sensing that Ms. Sukova and Manticore are pieces of a larger, more sinister puzzle that could be scattered to the Four Winds if Max's eagerness gets the better of her judgment. Max ponders this…and decides to go off anyway. She tells Kendra about her little road trip, omitting most of the details, after her last Japanese language class for the children of the blockhouse. Kendra reminds her friend about how the Sector Police patrol the borders of the city and the state lines. Getting to Sedro Island without a pass will not be easy…unless your new boyfriend's uncle happens to be a high official of that same organization, as Eric boasts to the girls when he hears of the problem. So…. Max decides to bring him along on a moonlight motorcycle ride--without using her headlights. Eric's thrilled about the danger, until they reach the Sector Police checkpoint. Then, he fesses up. His uncle is a high official of the Sector Police…but only on the janitorial staff where, on occasion, scoring a case of motor oil is easy pickings. No problem for Max. She just runs through the roadblock and smashes the gate to pieces, with the cops blazing all the way. Eric slowly realizes he's way over his head.
Leaving her bike and beeper under Eric's watch, Max swims the mile or so distance to the Island and finally meets with her rescuer from ten years ago. Her hair is shorter and grayer, but it's the same woman. Hannah is thrilled by finally meeting the grown up girl she smuggled from Lydecker's grasp and the two talk about Manticore and Max's mother. Apparently, the Project needed women, some just about Max's age, to serve as in-vitro mothers and carry the genetically engineered babies to term. After their work was done, they simply returned to whatever lives they had before with some money in their pockets for their efforts. Max's attitude about this is callous and a little spiteful…but her hurt is not so easy to hide. Neither is Hannah's anxiety, since she had called up Lydecker and told him Max was with her. She did this to spare her own life and surprisingly, Max forgives her. She knows Lydecker better. Both women are now at risk and they need to get out of Sedro…FAST!
The TAC team arrives just a few minutes late. They missed the ladies' escape into the woods. No matter to Lydecker. He just orders a full sweep of the Island and demands pursuit on a unit to unit basis. Max and Hannah flee to an abandoned dam. On either end, troopers are closing in. The only way out is a sheer drop of about 200 feet, lethal even for her. Still, she grabs Hannah and leaps under the observation bridge as the units converge. She awaits the inevitable capture…and suddenly, things change. Apparently, Logan found out where she was and ciphered the comm frequencies for the troops. A few deceitful transmissions and the teams are off on a wild goose chase. This leaves Max and Hannah just enough time to traverse the distance between the dam and a nearby cliff on a wire, using a hastily shaped strip of metal and gravity. By the time Lydecker finds out he's been had, the ladies are safe and sound at the other end of the shore thanks to Eric and a stolen speedboat. Max was wise to bring him along after all.
The events of the past two days were a blast to young Eric, but he's freaked by the Black Ops and the unmarked helicopters chasing them back to Seattle. He decides to end his 'relationship' with Max, with her approval. She's impressed enough with his help and gift of badly needed motor oil. She even compliments him on his 'bedside manner.' The boy is most pleased. Max is equally pleased with Logan as he gives her travel documents and some cash for Hannah to flee the country. Their rapport grows with every moment and she begins to open up more to the cyberjournalist. It's not love, but the kind of respect that could blossom into intimacy given time. As Max bids her savior goodbye for the second and final time, Hannah reveals a secret that she kept from her during their brief talk. Max's mother was not as willing to follow the program as the others. In fact, they had to sedate her repeatedly as she attempted escape after escape…even in full term. Because of her rebellious nature, she was later committed to a psychiatric ward. Hannah doesn't know either her name or her whereabouts. This revelation stuns Max. She had thought her mother was like most of the people she's known in her short life. Always out for themselves. To learn that she wanted out of Manticore for the sake of herself and her unborn child leaves both questions about her fate and pride. Pride of her spirit. Max now feels closer to her own humanity and her place in the scheme of things than ever before.
In Post Pulse America, the only thing you can count on is family: The family you live with that gave you friendship and warmth…and the family you might yet meet that will give you the spirit to be free.