The Perfect Weapon (sequel to The Past Remembers)

Authors listed in alphabetical order:

Anonymous Poster, Jason Barnett, Khaki, Lurker, Mac, Minkychan, Sparrow


~Magneto is escaping. Report to the war room immediately.~ The professor's voice infiltrated the minds of the four X-men.

Three of them had been teaching classes, and after quickly excusing the teenagers for the rest of the afternoon, reported for duty. The fourth had been working on his motorcycle. The flesh of his hand caught painfully in the pliers he was holding as the mental call jarred his thoughts.

A string of curses flew from his mouth as he shook his injured hand, the wound healing almost immediately.

"Why can't we just have an intercom system like any ordinary school," he muttered as he hurried to the war room.

-----

Jubilee knew what was happening when Scott paused mid-sentence in his English lesson and then cancelled class as he ran out of the room. The X-Men were going into action. This time, they weren't going without the whole team.

She signaled to Rogue, Gambit, Iceman, Pyro, and Shadowcat, and they huddled around her.

"Ok, guys. This is it. We've gotta convince them to take us."

"But Jubes," Kitty interrupted. "We're only the back-up team. We haven't even graduated yet. If they needed us, wouldn't the professor have called us?"

"We're graduating in two months. Besides, they do need us; they just don't know it yet."

-----

The X-Men left the war room and ran straight into their younger counterparts, who were suited up and ready to go.

"What's this?" Scott asked.

Jubilee stepped forward. "We're going with you."

"The hell you are," Logan replied. "This isn't some new mutant discovering his powers. We're going up against Magneto and the Brotherhood."

"All the more reason to have us there. Magneto can turn *you* into a human refrigerator magnet. I think you need the backup."

"We don't have time for this," Scott said. "You're staying."

"No, we're not."

~Scott,~ the professor interrupted. ~Let them join you. They're trained. Magneto will escape if we wait too long.~

"Ok, we'll brief you on the way."

-----

As the X-jet landed, the doors to the prison complex burst open, and the Brotherhood emerged: Magneto, Sabretooth, Toad, and Mystique.

Magneto immediately took in the sight of the X-Men exiting the jet and approaching. The Brotherhood were outnumbered. Even though their newer opponents appeared to be mere children, he did not want to take the chance of being recaptured.

"Split up. Fight them if you must, but do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed. Meet up at the second rendezvous point."

The Brotherhood split up, each traveling in different directions away from the X-Men.

-----

Logan would not be denied. He took off running after Sabretooth.

"Logan!" Scott called, but the mutant was already deep into the trees.

"Ok, we're splitting up."

He teamed Jubilee and Pyro with Storm, Rogue and Gambit with Jean, and Shadowcat and Iceman were with him. That way, each team had an experienced member, and they had a wider variety of powers at their disposal. Storm went after Toad; she'd defeated him before. Jean went after Mystique; she'd be able to sense Mystique's mind. He went after Magneto.

-----

Logan caught up with Sabretooth quickly. As soon as Sabretooth smelled him approaching, he stopped and turned, eager for a fight.

They slashed, stabbed, punched, and beat each other until they were both bleeding from too many wounds to count. They were so involved with each other and with the fight, that they didn't notice they were being surrounded.

Under normal circumstances, no one would ever be able to get this close to either of them without detection. But it wasn't until the multiple tranquilizer darts struck both their bodies that they realized they were not alone. By then, it was too late.

-----

"Report. Do you have Weapon X?"

Bzzt. "Yes sir. We have them both. We took off undetected and are flying cloaked. E.T.A.: 1 hour 12 minutes."

The Professor signed off and rubbed his hands in anticipation. Both of them. Sabretooth and Wolverine.

Wolverine, grafted with a metal skeleton. He would not escape again. This time, after his memories were purged, he would be reconditioned. He would become Weapon X. The perfect weapon.

Khaki

**********

The professor switched his radio to a different signal.

"Team 2. The objective has been met. Recapture the bait."

It had taken time to arrange things, almost a year, but it was worth all the effort when his plans came together so well.

-----

Storm, Jubilee and Pyro had caught up with Toad. He was high in the trees, jumping around, avoiding Jubilee's paffs and Storm's strong wind blasts with relative ease. Pyro didn't want to burn the forest down, so he couldn't use his powers. Toad was springing away from another of Jubilee's strikes when he felt pain in his leg.

His vision was already fuzzy when he looked down and saw the tranquilizer dart sticking out of his thigh. By the time he reached the branch he was aiming for, his body had become sluggish, and his hands had lost all their strength. He lost what grip he had and fell to the forrest floor.

-----

Cyclops, Iceman, and Shadowcat were having their own problems with Magneto. Before Cyclops could get a single shot off, his metal visor started to melt, the metal covering the ruby quartz and blocking his vision.

Iceman tried to freeze Magneto, but he was immediately pelted by rocks, causing him to duck behind cover.

Shadowcat phased after she was hit the first few times and was closing in on Magneto, when he gasped and collapsed into her arms. There was a tranquilizer dart in his back.

-----

'This feels wrong,' Mystique thought as she ran to the rendezvous point. 'The information we had on the facility was good, too good, and the escape was too easy.'

They'd gotten to Magneto's cell and escaped, meeting almost no resistance. This facility, supposedly filled to the brim with guards, was suddenly deserted.

She could hear the X-Men approaching. She quickly shifted into Wolverine before they came into view.

"Logan, what're you doing over here?" asked the girl with the white streaks. 'She calls herself Rogue,' Mystique reminded herself.

"Looking for Sabertooth. He came around this way," she said as she approached the group. Only a few more feet, and then she could bring out the claws and attack.

The redhead, who'd had her eyes shut for a few seconds, snapped her head up. "It's Mystique!"

As she created the claws and brought them around to attack, she felt the prick of a needle in her shoulder. Whatever drug she'd been given acted fast, she stumbled and collapsed before she could get in one good swipe.

-----

~Jean, Magneto is down. The guards from the facility helped us recapture him. How're you doing?~ Scott asked Jean through their psychic link.

~The same thing happened here, Scott. Everything's under control.~

~Ok, contact the rest of the team. Tell them to return to the jet.~

A few minutes later, Cyclops was being guided by Iceman and Shadowcat through the woods back to the jet, when Jean's voice broke into his thoughts.

~Scott, Logan's gone! I can't sense him.~

Khaki

**********

"Sir, the bugs in the Xavier School are live. Wolverine's gone missing."

"Good thing they haven't found the ones you planted when you were there, Nick."

"There's no way they can't know, Dum Dum. Leavin' 'em's just their way of sayin' they're willin' ta work with us. An' I'm glad they are."

-----

The next day.

The backup X-Men team were waiting at the airport at Jubilee's insistence.

A pair of flights arrived within ten minutes of each other and people only Jubilee recognized directly were there. Mariko Yashada from Japan, and from Madripoor, Tyger Tiger and her daughter Karma. Jubilee had learned that her real name was Xian Coy Manh. She preferred Karma.

Jubilee greeted all of them with hugs. "Love the pink hair, Karma."

"Thanks. We brought someone else. She might make things go our way." She gestured towards a larger woman with pasty white skin and a black circle over one eye. "This is Nina."

"Call me Domino."

"Um, I may be wrong," Kitty observed, "But aren't dominos usually black with white spots."

"There are other types, and the name's about the fact things tend to fall my way."

"Yeah, codenames can be weird, Shadowcat. You aren't a cat are you?" Bobby teased.

"No. I'm stealthy as a shadow and quick as a cat. And I'm gonna get you for constantly making fun of my codename."

"Will the two of ya ever stop flirtin'?" Marie demanded. "We gotta go rescue Logan."

-----

"I found the kids, Professor. They're at the airport picking up Logan's friends."

"Thank you, Jean."

"Aren't you upset, Sir? Bringing in outsiders without permission."

"Actually the people they have called may have access to means we do not."

Jason Barnett

**********

"Dum Dum, call Nickie. Tell her I'm coming to the school."

He had planted Nickie over a year and a half ago at the school when he'd been looking for Logan the first time. She was a telepath and had been working as a teacher there since, working on his plan for a mutant special ops force.

"You might wanna see this before you go." Dum Dum said, handing Nick the day's results of Ambassador Becker's phone taps. "We have another Weapon X reference."

Nick had a tap on the Ambassador's phone ever since he showed an interest in finding Logan. The tap hadn't produced any valuable information on this Weapon X program or how it related to Logan, but he kept Logan informed whenever it was mentioned.

The last call was two weeks ago and the entire conversation was:

"Weapon X is a go."
"Proceed."

Today, there was another phone call. The transcript read:

"Weapon X is secure."
"Very well."

-----

Logan woke to the distinct but distant growls of Sabretooth. As he took in his surroundings, real panic started to set in.

He was strapped to a metal table, an IV attached to his arm. He unsheathed his claws, trying to cut free, even cut through the table, but he couldn't move his hands enough to cut anything but air.

Then he heard the voice. A voice that, even though he couldn't consciously remember the owner, sent chills down his spine.

"Ah, Weapon X is awake. Let's begin the mind-wipe."

"Yes, Professor."

Khaki

**********

"What's the matter, Ferro? It didn't take nearly this long to clear his mind last time."

The Professor stood next to the telepath, both hovering over the bound man on the metal table. Every inch of Logan's body was tense, almost shaking at the effort to hold on to his mind.

"There are two reasons," Ferro responded. "One, someone's trained him to ward off this kind of attack. He's not a telepath, but he's got shields that he didn't have before. Even the drugs aren't helping break them down much. Two, I'm almost seventeen years older, and can't sustain the pressure long enough to break through the shields. If you'd given me the healing factor last time..."

"He escaped before the job was completed. There was no healing factor to give you."

"You should have given it to me at the beginning instead of the end of the project."

"That wasn't, and isn't, the deal. First, we get our weapon. Then, you get virtual immortality. Now, back to work. He's starting to recover."

They both looked down at Logan to see that the shaking had subsided and his breathing had become more steady.

"All right," Ferro said, putting his hands on either side of Logan's head and bending over.

Logan's body immediately tensed again, his breathing hitched and rapid, as he fought off the mental assault.

-----

Marie was waiting when the professor emerged from Cerebro. He'd been in there for hours and she was hoping that this time, he'd had some success. When she saw his face, those hopes were dashed. His features were a mix of confusion and worry.

"Ya still can't sense him?"

"No, but I know he's out there. It feels almost like when he and Jubilee were in Japan. Like I'm being blocked or like he's in some kind of dead zone."

"Another telepath?"

"Most likely."

"Well then, we'll just have to find him the old-fashioned way." Marie said, heading upstairs to talk with Logan's friends.

Khaki

**********

Marie reached the top of the stairs and almost bumped into Domino, who was just finishing a call on her cell phone. She looked like she was on her way out.

"Ah just talked to the Professor. He says he's being blocked and can't find Logan," she said.

"I've been doing some checking. Back when the old man was working for the CIA, he was running with three other men as part of Team X. They did black ops. He didn't tell me much, but I do know their names. Luckily, one of them, Maverick, is in town. He should have some information on what they were into and who they were dealing with at the time. I'll have to hurry if I'm going to catch him."

"Can I come with?" Marie asked.

"Where I'm going, it's dangerous, and you'll stick out like a sore thumb."

"I can blend, and I can take care of myself. I was on my own for months before Logan and I came here."

"You've never been to Hell's Kitchen have you?" Domino gave her a penetrating look, taking in the tight little T-shirt and jeans and the overall look of vulnerability. "They'd have you for lunch."

Marie looked back at the woman in front of her. She looked like Snow White with a black eye and an attitude. The skin-tight black kevlar/leather body armor only added to that, so did the gun strapped to her side. Domino saw her stare and adjusted her jacket to cover it.

"Where I'm going just wouldn't be safe for you." Domino pushed past her and headed down to the garage. During her talks with Logan over the past year, he had told her about how great the motorcycles here were. She'd need the speed and her mutant luck if she was going to catch Maverick before he finished his job and headed out of town, and the last thing she needed was a shadow to worry about.

Lurker

**********

Ambassador Becker was working through a mountain of paperwork when he heard his secretary's voice through the door.

"Sir, stop! You can't go in there!"

The door to his office flew open and the handle embedded itself in the wall as Colonel Nick Fury stormed in. He approached the Ambassador, grabbing the collar of his suit coat and lifting him bodily out of his seat, slamming him against the wall.

As the Ambassador hung from his shirt front, legs swinging about a foot above the floor, Nick leaned in close and growled, "Where is he?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, Colonel Fury, and if you want to keep your job..."

He didn't get a chance to finish his sentence as Nick pulled him forward and slammed him against the wall again.

"Wrong answer. Where is Logan, or should I say, Weapon X?"

The Ambassador's face paled as he realized that the colonel knew of the existence of the project. 'How much does he know?' he wondered as he tried to think a way out of his predicament.

Nick watched the emotions play over the Ambassador's face, the shock at his mention of Weapon X, the concern and worry of being exposed, the concentration as he tried to think up a plausible story.

"Tell me where he is, right now, or I'll kill you, right now," Nick said in an eerily calm voice.

He saw the Ambassador's expression change to fear and terror and knew he was telling the truth when he said, "I don't know where he is."

-----

Logan was using the techniques Professor Xavier had taught him. He was imagining a wall, very high, very thick, made out of adamantium, surrounding his mind. He could feel the attack coming from all around him, causing cracks to form in its surface. He kept reinforcing it, but the cracks grew bigger.

The more cracks that appeared, the less able he was to repair the damage. He was even starting to forget how to repair the damage.

The attack had stopped for a few minutes, and he was doing everything he could to repair the damage during the reprieve, when he was hit full force by a barrage of psychic energy and a hole was blasted out in front of him.

It was in his mind. It was through, and it had started to feed. He was losing his memories.

'No! Not again! I won't forget them again!'

But even as he thought these things, he was having trouble remembering who they were. He could see faces: a woman with a black eye and a pale face, a Japanese woman that exuded charm and dignity, an Asian woman with a teenage girl who both looked like they could defend themselves in a fight, a man in a colonel's uniform with an eyepatch, a Chinese-American girl with sparkling hands, a girl with white streaked hair and a smile that made him melt. He could see all these faces, but the names were already gone, and as he watched, the faces started to fade too.

He was losing it. He was losing everything. He had to preserve what was left. He stopped trying to hold on to everything, stopped grabbing at the threads of memories as they were dragged away and consumed by that thing in his mind. He just started repeating over and over, 'I am Logan. My name is Logan.' It was the one thing he wouldn't forget.

Khaki

**********

Fury leaned in close until Becker could feel his hot breath. "What do you know?" Fury asked with deadly calm. Becker couldn't look away.

"We just handled the finances and supplied a couple of the test subjects! It's no different than that team you are trying to get funding for."

Fury's face went red and Becker noticed the little vain throbbing at his temple. "I do not do $%%@&**# human experimentation!"

"They added controls and enhancements, installed to make them work better."

Fury threw him against the wall in disgust then leaned over. "What do you know?! You were just on the phone with someone, WHO?!"

Becker knew his life was over. At least Fury could keep him alive, possibly. He closed his eyes and weighed his options.

"You've got to ensure my protection. These people don't play around."

Fury looked at the Ambassador and narrowed his eyes. The older he got, the less things changed. He remembered the Nazi soldiers at the death camps pleading for themselves as they turned on their commanders, looking for some way out of the firing squad that would have been the only justice for their actions. But like then, the only way to help those inside was to play along. Nick knew some of the details. Logan had opened up some one night over a couple bottles of well-aged Scotch. Not even Logan would last long with these bastards again. They had nearly destroyed him the first time.

"I'll protect you. You have my word. Now tell me everything."

"I don't know who ran the project. The test subjects were mostly Canadian working for us. We just supplied the funds and the mutants. There was a problem and they escaped. That was almost 17 years ago now."

"Who escaped?"

"I just know the codenames: Sabertooth, Wolverine, Maverick and Wraith. I spoke with a Dr. Hines most of the time."

Fury stood up and lit his cigar.

"There's one more thing, Col. They want the whole team. They'll be after Maverick and Wraith. They should have Maverick in about an hour."

Lurker

**********

Marie grabbed her black leather jacket on her way to the garage, following Domino. She was only a minute behind her, but the garage was empty when she arrived. Looking around, she saw that Domino had taken Scott's bike. Logan's was still in pieces where he'd been working on it when all this started.

A smile broke out over Marie's face. When Logan'd stolen Scott's bike, Scott swore he'd never let that happen again. He'd installed a tracking device in the new bike's frame. Marie ran to Scott's locker and pulled out the receiver, then jumped into Logan's jeep. Well, technically, it was the school's jeep, but Logan had claimed it when he'd returned.

She turned on the receiver and pulled out of the garage, following Domino's steady electronic trail.

-----

Ferro, sweating and shaking from the strain of breaking the man before him, pulled back and looked up at the control room. "He's holding on to his name, and a few minor memories, but I think he's as wiped as he's gonna get without killing him. Set him up in the virtual reality machine and load up the new memories."

"We were hoping that you would help install those memories yourself."

"Look, right now his mind is blank, screaming out for any information it can get. He will accept whatever you feed him. I'll come back and reinforce the new memories with emotions once you're done. If you want me to do all of them, this is the only efficient way. Now, load him up. I'm going to go get some rest, and then I'll start in on Sabretooth."

-----

Marie parked across the street from the motel where Scott's bike was. It was one of the seedier ones she had seen, but from the memories she had, not the worst that Logan had ever frequented.

She waited, trying to figure out which room Domino had entered, when she noticed the approach of four vans. They were all black and unmarked, and they all stopped at the motel. Dozens of men, dressed all in black, silently left the vehicles and approached a room on the ground floor of the hotel. They were all armed with some kind of rifle. They could be tranquilizer guns, or they could be the more deadly variety.

"Well, I think I know which room Domino's in," Marie muttered softly.

Khaki

**********

Back at the X-mansion the junior X-men team was watching as Tyger Tiger, Mariko, and Karma used the school's advanced computer systems. Phone calls were returned and information spat out on the net as soon as it was needed.

"Man, this guy's got a ton of friends," Bobby commented to Jubilee then looked around. "Where do you think Rogue is?"

-----

When Rogue got up there, she got a good look at the fight. The weapons being used were actually non-projectile particle weaponry.

'Whoa, these guys have got serious connections.'

She body-tackled one from behind and using the power she'd learn to greatly control, she touched him. He was unconscious in a second and she knew how to work the gun, as well as his orders.

David North, A.K.A. Maverick, took one blast and then returned it. "I don't know who your bosses are but they should've told you I eat that stuff for lunch."

Absorbtion of kinetic energy was his natural power, and he had a healing factor that was genetically engineered.

Seeing what was happening, several had abandoned the larger weapons and pulled out their sidearms, but those were only small caliber pistols. Providing a fine example of Domino's luck power, one bullet whizzed by her ear, riccocheted, and struck a man who'd been drawing a bead on her.

Finally the Weapon X security men were forced to retreat. Rogue grabbed one of the fallen ones.

"Professor X'll walk right through this guy's brain."

"Or you could do it and we could get a head start," Domino suggested.

-----

"Hail Hy-"

"Don't bother with that nonsense. I'm not Strucker."

"Ma'am, our computer hacking section has discovered that funds are once again being allocated to Project Weapon X. Do you wish an increased personal security force?"

Silver Fox, former member of Team X and within the top ten of the terrorist organization, Hydra's, leadership rankings scowled at the suggestion. "No I want a strike force, and I want them located. I intend to wipe them off the face of the Earth. I suppose it was only a matter of time after Wolverine and Sabretooth resurfaced that they would return."

Jason Barnett

**********

Rogue's gloveless hand reached for the man's face, pausing inches away. "No," she said as she balled her hand into a fist and pulled it back protectively to her chest. "I already touched one of them, and I don't want any more of their filth in my head. The one I touched was ordered to capture Maverick and then wait for further instructions. As a safety precaution, they would only be told where to take him after they had him in custody. They were supposed to sedate him, but Domino's presence caught them off guard and they pulled their other weapons."

"It's lucky for me they did. I can absorb the kinetic energy of bullets and energy weapons, but I'm susceptible to tranquilizers," Maverick said.

"Did this attack have anything to do with Logan?" Domino asked, turning to Rogue.

Rogue shut her eyes, running through her new memories. "Yes, Maverick was on a team of mercenaries with Logan years ago. The team was the best, but it started to unravel due to personality conflicts. They figured they could have the perfect weapon if they could reform the team and control the members' minds."

"Who are 'they'?"

"The people giving him orders." She said indicating the black-suited figure on the floor. "Higher-ups in the Canadian government. He doesn't know any names."

"Are these the same people that wiped Logan's memories before, that gave him his metal skeleton?"

"He doesn't know, but I figure it's all probably related. We need to get back to the school, get some help. We'll be able to protect Maverick better there."

"Oh, no. I'm not going anywhere. I can protect myself just fine, my dear. Been doing it most of my life. Besides, I'm way too old to go back to school."

"But, Logan..." Rogue started.

"Logan's an old friend, but based on the greeting by the welcoming committee," Maverick said, sweeping his arm around the room to make a point, "I'm not looking forward to a reunion. Look, like I told your friend, I haven't seen any of the team in eighteen years, I wasn't there when Logan lost his memories, and I have no idea where they took him. Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll get going while those sirens are still a few blocks away."

Rogue turned to the door and could hear the sound of police sirens coming closer by the second. The motel owner must have called the cops.

She turned back to Maverick, holding out a piece of paper. "Here's the school's card. You can contact us if you need help or find out anything about Logan. We'd better get going too, Domino."

-----

Logan was sitting in a virtual reality chair. Tubes and wires ran from his arms and head into machines that controlled his every sense and perception. The observers noticed the occassional twitch of his body, but other than that, he was perfectly still.

"Remember, Cornelius, the memories must make him trust and protect his teammates, but also make him obey his orders, no matter what. There should be no conflicts of egos with Victor Creed or any of the other members."

"Should we bring in the image of Silver Fox, Professor?"

"No, she's dead. Any mention of her will only cause conflict in the team."

"What about Logan's friends? Should we make him perceive them as enemies?"

"No. If he were to ever run into them, their actions would soon prove to him that they were not his enemies. It would only cause conflict between the memories we create and the reality he would face. No, just don't mention them. If he doesn't remember them, either as friends or enemies, he won't seek them out."

Khaki

**********

Scott burst into the room holding several printouts.

"I just got word from Colonel Fury. He's found someone with a connection to the project. He sent a list of locations that the Weapon X project used. It has to be one of the old ones. They haven't gotten enough funding to construct or purchase a new one."

-----

Jean entered the Cerebro chamber behind Charles.

"You added a second helmet."

"Indeed. I want you to help me with the search. Using Cerebro we can syncronize our minds to such a degree it will be as though a single telepath with an amount of strength that is equal to our total powers were searching. Also I have devised a booster function of sorts. By using stimulus to the brain, we temporarily increase our power."

"Charles that could cause brain damage!"

"I am aware of that. But risks must be taken. As Erik said to me, I must be willing to make sacrifices. Unlike he, I will sacrifice myself first and hope those I have taught can teach the next generation. He believes his dream cannot come to pass without him. I am not so foolish about mine. But anyway it's a small amount of stimuli and can only be used a a set amount of time. There is no override to activate it sooner than twenty-four hours after one activation."

"All right. What's the plan."

"I hope to locate whoever is blocking me, I definitely sensed a mind even if I also sensed artificial blocking, and then combine to break through it and at least determine where he is."

"Hopefully that would stop any further experimentation."

Jason Barnett

**********

"Don't worry, Jean. I will only use the booster function on my headset. We do not know the effects it will have, and I won't ask you to risk yourself."

~Jean,~ Scott sent along their psychic link. ~We've got a lead on Logan. Colonel Fury sent us a list of thirty possible locations Logan might be throughout Canada. It's still a lot of places to search, but it's a start.~

"Professor, Scott's got a lead."

"Yes, Jean, I heard." At Jean's sour expression, he added, "Sorry, but Scott projects rather loudly when he's excited."

"Yes, I never thought I'd say this but he and Logan have become, well, friends. It must have something to do with all that male-bonding they did when they built their motorcycles... Anyway, maybe we should avoid the risk, however small, of using Cerebro like this, and just check out all the sites personally."

"Jean, I know you want to protect me, but you, better than most people, know what Logan went through the last time these people had him. Time is of the essence. However, we will focus our efforts on these locations."

-----

"Hiya, Jubes," Marie said into her cell phone.

"Hey, Rogue. Where were ya? Ya just disappeared without a word."

"Yeah, I know. Sorry. I was in a hurry. I was checking out a lead on Logan."

"Find anything?"

"Well, Domino and I found a guy that used to know Logan, but he said he hasn't a clue where Logan'd be now. Of course, when we found him, he was being attacked by the same people that got Logan, so he probably wasn't too keen on sticking around and talking to us anyway."

"Ya think he was lying about knowing where Logan is?"

"Nah, but I also don't think he was being all that forthcoming on what he did know about these people. Did you guys find anything while I was gone?"

-----

The virtual reality implantation was complete and an exhausted Ferro had left Sabretooth to mentally amplify Logan's new memories, giving them dimensionality and emotions to color the experiences. Now they were as indistiguishable from any other person's true memories as possible.

Logan felt so much more whole, more complete, than he could ever remember being. He knew who he was, what he was. He was a member of Team X. His codename was Wolverine and he worked with Victor Creed (Sabretooth), David North (Maverick), and John Wraith (Kestrel). The only people he could trust were his team and his superiors. They were the only people that mattered in his life.

Khaki

**********

Maverick had made it away before the police arrived. He wasn't fool enough to think that the the men after him would be held for long. He knew this went too far up the food chain.

He leaned against the wall of the alley he had taken refuge in and pushed his brown hair out of his eyes. He hadn't told those two everything. He wasn't even sure how much he knew or could remember. He just knew the nightmares and the cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. He remembered Wolverine talking about the older one and how she was like family to him; the other one was just a kid. Maverick couldn't see bringing them into this.

He pushed away from the wall, picked up the duffle bag full of his gear that he had been able to grab on his way out and slipped around the corner and into the bar. It was time to confront his past.

-----

Scott sat in the maproom looking at the sites as displayed on the tablemap in front of him. The Professor and Jean were using Cerebro to try and locate Logan. Scott felt that his hands were tied. It was his fault. He had been team leader and Logan had been taken on his watch. Once they found out which of the sites was the correct one, he wanted a plan ready to get in and out.

-----

Remy had been looking for Rogue. No one had seen her for a while, and he had overheard the talk of the funding problem that the Weapon X people were having.

Remy ran upstairs to his room and picked up the phone. "Follow de money, and Gambit know just de thief to do it," he said to himself.

Lurker

**********

"These potential locations make our job a great deal easier."

"We can gain focus by sacrificing distance, right Professor? And the greater the focus the stronger we are."

"Quite correct Jean. You waiting to begin you telepathic training seems to have in no way hindered it."

About five minutes after they began their astral search Jean noticed something. ~I think I found someone.~ she projected. ~Not Logan.~

~The person who is blocking us. Odds would favor him being at the same location as Logan. Mental manipulation is close work. I think he is activating his powers. Jean, strike now!~

-----

Ferro was just about to enter Logan's mind when he suddenly staggered back. The circuity in his implants which granted him increased telepathic power sparked as they tried to compensate.

He fell backwards and didn't move.

-----

Jean pulled off her Cerebro helmet. "We did it! Charles? Are you all right?"

Xavier was moving slowly, pulling off his own helmet. "I.... will be fine Jean. But I'm not sure I can do anything else right now. Ugh...I have a migraine unlike any I've experienced since I first manifested."

Jason Barnett

**********

Logan sat bolt upright as Ferro collapsed behind him.

"Wolverine, what happened?" a voice called from the control room.

"I don't know," Logan said as he jumped out of the chair and went to the aid of his friend. His friend who was just trying to help him regain his memories. "He was really tired after helping me and Sabretooth for so long. He looks like he's unconscious. Maybe he's just exhausted." Logan bent down and picked up Ferro. "I'll take him to his room."

"Very well, but report back here after you're done."

-----

Once Logan returned, they moved into a conference room. The professor leaned over to him, holding out two pictures.

"Wolverine, do you recognize these two men?"

"Yeah, Maverick and Kestrel, my teammates."

"They were abducted, just as you were, and their memories have been altered. We need you to find them and bring them back here. We've tried to bring them back ourselves, but you know how difficult your teammates can be."

"Yeah. Don't worry, they need help. I'll bring them back."

"Maverick is the closest, right now he's in New York City. His last known location was this motel."

"Ok, I'll track him from there."

Khaki

**********

As Logan walked out of the compound, he caught Victor's scent. Curiosity getting the best of him he checked on his former best friend; they had too many differences for that designation to still apply. He found him strapped down.

'Musta snapped, lost control of his animal side. Better get goin', sooner I get back, sooner I can find out what happened. Damn, I got a headache. Never had one last more than a few minutes before. It'll be good to get the old team back together.'

-----

"Hey Karma, you know any martial arts?"

"Several different types, Jubilee. I'm also trained to use a wide variety of weapons. Why?"

"I figured you could come with us if you wanted. I can probably get you a uniform that fits when we finally go on the rescue mission."

-----

"Monsieur Summers is still inside and his motorcycle's missin', so's Logan's jeep. Marie shoulda jus' dropped breadcrumbs. Dis be an incredibly easy trail to follow."

Anonymous Poster

**********

"You can probably wear one of my uniforms. We're about the same size."

Scott came up behind Jubilee and Karma. "Jubes, get your team together. We're going after Logan and we're going to need all the help we can get."

"Finally," Jubes said going off to search for her friends, dragging Karma along.

Her search turned up everyone but Remy and Rogue. Suspicion and a touch of jealousy rose within her before she remembered Rogue's phone call. 'That's right. Rogue's off with Domino looking for Logan. Besides, this is Rogue, your best friend. She'd never go off with Remy behind your back. Remy's probably just out tracking other leads. I'd better call them so they can join the party.'

-----

Domino had slipped into the bar behind Maverick. She and Rogue had agreed that Maverick wasn't being all that forthcoming, but with the police on the way, it wasn't the best idea to hold him at the motel. Instead, they'd let him think he'd lost them, following at a safe distance. When Maverick slipped into the bar, Domino followed, sticking to the shadows along the walls.

Marie remained outside. She'd used her cell phone to call Jubes and check in and then she'd turned it off. She was covering the bar's entrance, watching for Maverick, and she didn't want any sounds to give away her location.

She would have followed Domino in, but at eighteen, she was too young and didn't have her fake I.D. on her. She smiled as she remembered the day Remy and Jubes had showed up with I.D.s for everybody. They'd gotten drop-down drunk and been grounded to their rooms for a month. She'd been miserably sick the next day and had been cured of listening to her inner Logan's craving for beer for quite some time.

-----

Jubes sat in her seat in the X-jet, psyching herself up for the battle to come. She hadn't been able to reach either Rogue or Remy. They must have their cell phones off for some reason. That meant her team was two members weaker. She did have Karma, and she'd take up some of the slack, but she wished her whole team was going in.

"All right, listen up," Scott called from the pilot's seat. "This is a fully operational military base, and we're outnumbered, so this is a snatch and grab mission only. We go in, get Logan, and leave. No personal vendettas."

They'd gone in just as Scott had said, quickly making their way to the secured inner rooms, but there was no Logan to snatch. Only a drug-addled Sabertooth and a lot of scientists and soldiers. In fact, more and more soldiers every second.

-----

Wolverine entered the motel room, after cutting through the police tape and slicing through the door lock. He could pick up Maverick's scent very strongly. He'd been staying here a few days. There were other scents here, men and women, probably the team the Professor sent.

There was one scent that was very out of place. A teenaged girl, probably late teens, had been here. The oddest thing of all was that he knew that scent. He couldn't think where he knew it, but it made him think of white-streaked hair.

He put his hand up to his head. 'Ugh, that headache's gettin' worse. Gonna have to ask the Professor about it when I get back.'

He turned, exiting the motel room and walking down the street, following the scents of Maverick, one of the women from the room, and that strangely familiar teenaged girl.

Khaki

*********

~Scott, Logan's not here,~ Jean sent along their link. ~I can't sense him anywhere, but Sabretooth is in the next room down.~

Scott took in the situation around him. Soldiers were pouring in, covering both doors. At least they hadn't started firing yet. Scientists and computer equipment were up in observation rooms, sealed behind protective glass. His team was surrounded and looking to him for leadership. 'We're outnumbered. We have to leave. But we can't leave without information on Logan. I won't fail him again.'

~Jean, what's Sabretooth's condition?~

~Drugged and unconscious. We can't leave him here, Scott. Not even Sabretooth deserves this kind of treatment.~

In a split-second Scott's decision was made, and he issued his orders. "Attack." He turned his attention to the door they'd entered, releasing a low-level optic blast. He wanted to push the soldiers out of the way, but not kill them. He saw the X-Men around him attack as well.

Jubilee was firing her paffs at the soldiers covering the other door. while Pyro and Iceman were freezing and melting the soldiers' weapons. Some of the soldiers had gotten off shots, but Jean put up a psychic forcefield, shielding the team from any bullets.

Once a doorway was clear, he shouted. "Pyro, Iceman, and Jean, go get Sabretooth and report back to the jet. Jubilee and Shadowcat, get up in that computer room and download any information you can about Logan."

With the room cleared of all of her teammates but Cyclops, Storm could use her powers. The winds picked up and Scott had to grab onto the bolted down surgical table in the middle of the room to keep from flying away as he kept up his attack on the soldiers. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Shadowcat and Jubilee above him. They had phased right through the wall and up into the room. Jubilee was firing her paffs to ward off the scientists while Shadowcat worked on the computer system.

-----

The Professor was up in his private office, watching the security cameras. As he took in the sight of his labs being attacked, his face broke out in an expression of unbridled glee. The attacking mutants were spectacular. The variety of their powers, the way they worked together, he could make two additional Team X's out of this new group.

His fingers, moving across the controls, sealed the doors to the three rooms: the operating theater, Sabretooth's recuperative room, and the operating control room. Pressing a red button, he released the stun gas. After Wolverine's escape 17 years ago, he had insisted that the rooms have adamantium doors and that the air ventillation system be fitted with gas releasing mechanisms. He learned from his mistakes.

-----

As the doors shut and a hissing sound filled the room, Kitty turned from the computer. The scientists nearest the vents fell first. There was gas entering the room. She watched in shock as Jubilee dropped a seconds later, caught in a coughing fit. She instinctively phased, hoping that she would be protected from the gas filling the room. She was, and she watched in horror from the gas-filled control room as the much larger operating theater filled with gas as well.

Cyclops was firing his blasts at the doors, but they weren't moving. She'd never thought there could be anything that wasn't vulnerable to his optic blasts. The soldiers below had already fallen, clutching their throats, and Cyke and Storm fell soon after.

-----

Wolverine came around the corner, still tracking the scents, when he came across the bar. That teenaged girl was standing across the street, trying to hide in the shadows. He could see her perfectly, but hidden and quiet as he was, he didn't think she had noticed him yet. He stood there looking at her. The face wasn't familiar, but the white-streaked hair was another story. How did he know her? Where had he ever been that he would meet a teenaged girl?

'Stop it,' he chastised himself, rubbing at his now pounding head. 'She's not your mission. Your mission is Maverick, and he's in the bar. There's gotta be a back entrance to this place.'

Khaki

**********

The room with Sabretooth had only just begun to fill when Jean noticed. "Iceman, freeze those vents solid. Don't let anything through."

A second later the younger X-Man had completed his mission. Jean turned her attention to the doors, trying to batter them down with her telekinesis. While it was adamantium and wouldn't give, the frame was another story.

"Pyro, melt the frame."

St. John's flamethrower spat out flame and his own powers increased its intensity 'til all Jean had to do was push the door with her mind for it to fall. Mentally lifting Sabretooth they left.

-----

Kitty thrust her hand into the computer. Her phasing power disrupted its circuitry, and it exploded. The vents slammed shut not allowing any new gas in, but no fans activated, leaving it filled with gas. Grabbing her best friend, she phased her down then phased the two senior members out the door.

'Never phased this many people at once before. Have to be careful with them. They can't instantly snap back if they feel like their molecules are getting spaced to far apart.'

Jean, Pyro, and Iceman came running down the hall dragging Creed about the same time Cyclops, Storm, and Jubilee began coughing.

Jason Barnett

**********

Maverick sat in a booth to the back waiting. Only one person had known that he was coming to New York. That was the man who hired him for this job. He took a sip of his beer and thought it through. Everything had checked out. He was supposed rescue a mutant girl that had been abducted. Her family didn't have much money and the police didn't have much interest in a missing mutant which young Miss Clarice Ferguson obviously was. That was why he had picked this bar. It was run as a neutral territory for mercs, many of whom were mutants. It's hard to get a job on Wall Street or even at a fast food restaurant if you have claws and/or are covered in fur. Little Clarice wouldn't raise an eyebrow here even with purple skin, and it would be safe enough for her father to take her home. But 'Daddy' was a plant and due here in just an hour, and the only way he may be able to help Logan and the little girl in the photograph was to find out where Project X or whatever it was called had set up shop.

He watched as the door opened and Domino walked in. Great she saw him. She ordered a beer at the bar and headed over to his booth.

-----

He was aware of being dragged across a cold metal floor the sound of hurried footsteps echoing in his head. He could smell the people he was with and the strong smell of gas. He had been gased? Was that why everything was so confused? He opened his eyes to look at who he was with. Everyone was in leather except him and the two men in white coats. They were scientists. He knew that but he didn't know why. He knew the white haired chick had on way too much perfume. It was making his head hurt worse. She looked at him and her scent changed to one of fright.

"Sabertooth," Storm managed to get out around her coughs motioning to the man groggily tring to sit up.

'Sabertooth? Who's Sabertooth?' He wondered as he felt his head begin to clear more. He knew he should remember but it was like everything was just out of his reach.

Lurker

**********

"Hey there, Maverick," Domino said as she sat down across from him. "Now that we're alone, do you care to change your @#$%& story?"

"You shouldn't have followed me. I don't need company right now."

"That's beside the point. You weren't telling us everything. You know something. Maybe not where Logan is, but this whole situation is not new to you. Also, what was that #[email protected]%* about not seeing anyone from your team in 18 years? You've gotta learn to lie better. You might not've seen Logan in that long, but you've seen someone."

"It's none of your business. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm waiting for someone."

"None of my business?!? Logan was like a father to me when I was younger. He saved my life, took me away to live in a safe place. I owe him everything, and I'm not stopping until I get him back."

-----

Scott got shakily to his feet, leaning against the wall as another coughing fit struck. They were in the hallway, away from the gas, but they were far from safe. Jean, Iceman, Pyro, and Shadowcat seemed unaffected, but he, Storm, Jubilee, and Sabertooth were having trouble just breathing. There were two scientists lying in the hallway with his group. They had been thrown from the room and knocked unconscious by one of his first optic blasts.

"Shadowcat, did you get any information on Logan?" asked Scott.

"Not very much. I was just starting to download data when the gas started. I had to short out the computer to close the vents. They sent him out to look for someone named Maverick, but I couldn't get a location."

"Ok, we've got to get out of here. Pyro, Iceman, take point. Jean, Shadowcat, cover the rear. Let's move out."

~Scott, should we take one of these scientists back for questioning?~ Jean asked, the psychic message increasing the pounding in his head.

~No. Too much of a security risk. The students' safety has to be our first priority.~

-----

Sabretooth was helped to his feet and pulled along with the leather-clad group. He didn't know who they were, but they seemed to know him, so he might as well go with them until he could think more clearly.

He could smell the fear coming off the white haired woman every time she looked at him, and that confused him. It was getting to be so strong it was overpowering her perfume. How did he know this woman that she would be so afraid of him?

Khaki

**********

"You want Logan back, then let me find him." Maverick said, looking across the table at Domino.

Domino leaned back in the seat to make herself more comfortable and took another sip from her beer. One thing about working with Cable was that she had learned how to deal with stubborn men. She wasn't going anywhere. "Talk".

Maverick shook his head and looked at the door and then his watch. He had time, if the man even showed. After the messed up attempt to take him at the hotel, that weasel may not show up.

"I came to New York to do a job." Maverick pulled out the picture of a purple skinned girl about 14 years old. "She dissappeared on her way to school two months ago and the police weren't being too helpful. They labeled her a runaway and filed the case. Her father hired me to find her. I was told that she was being held at a warehouse with other mutants at the docks. I was on my way there to get her and bring her back tonight."

"And?" Domino prompted. She didn't want to leave Rogue outside for too long.

"While word gets around fast, it shouldn't travel that fast. I'm interested as to how you found me."

"Just lucky I guess," was her only response.

"Yeah well, little Clarice's father was the man who hired me. He was the only one who knew I was here. I don't believe in coincidences. I think it was all a set up to get me out in the open. Things went bad on that last mission. Sabretooth lost it and the team fell apart. Then we begain to dissappear one by one."

-----

The soldiers came from seemingly nowhere and everywhere. They had to get out. Sabertooth growled. He didn't like it here, and he didn't like the soldiers. He could feel a need to hurt coming on.

"We have to get the kids out of here," Cyclops said looking around for an exit. "We'll have to go through them. Attack, but no killing."

'No killing?' Sabretooth had figured that he was on the team, maybe, and that they were here to get him and the someone else out. It was the only thing that made any sense. He looked at Cyclops.

"When did I start taking orders from a dick?" he asked. He shook his head, roared and charged, missing the shocked look on Cyclops' face.

-----

The professor watched from his sealed room. On the various monitors he could see the soldiers attacking and the mutants fighting. Sabretooth seemed to be extra careful only to maim and not kill. This was interesting. He looked at another monitor. It was in the room next to him. Blink was sitting there. She could get him out if these mutants got too close. It was always useful to have extra teleporters around.

Lurker

**********

"Cyclops," Tyger Tiger said calmly, "If it comes down to me or them, then they'll die." She had refuesed to let her daughter go on the mission alone and had accompanied them. She held a pistol in each hand, and had finally felt the need to speak up. She'd been there the whole time, just quiet.

"Hey, Bobby, let's bring the ceiling down. The same trick Doctor Grey had us use earlier."

-----

The Professor was just entering Clarice's cell when the floor began to buckle and warp and finally collapse from beneath them.

They fell to the floor below.

Sabretooth didn't recognize the face but he knew the scent. He leapt at the Professor claws extended.

"No!" Jean held him telekinetically, recognizing the man from Logan's memories, realizing he could answer everything. But Creed broke free.

Suddenly his claws retracted, and he brought a fist down along the side of the man's head.

"I have him," Karma assured them all. Sabretooth slung him over his shoulder, and seeing their employer hostage, the guards hung back. Jubilee and Shadowcat helped Clarice to her feet and lead her with them. The girl was so grateful for a chance to escape she didn't question.

-----

Outside

"Silver Fox, the assault team is ready to go in."

-----

The X-mansion

Charles slowly rolled himself to Cerebro once again. While he was sure the X-men could handle themselves he was becoming comcerned for Rogue, Gambit and Logan's friend Nina. He slipped the helmet on and began painstakingly searching for familiar minds.

Jason Barnett

**********

"Stand by," Silver Fox commanded. Something wasn't right. The base was lit up, searchlights spinning around, alarms sounding. It was like they knew they were under attack. "Order all teams to check in. I want to know if anyone's been discovered."

Five minutes later, after check-ins were complete and each team was accounted for, Silver Fox noticed movement at the front doors to the complex. She watched as a team of what appeared to be unarmed mercenaries fled the building. Wait, no, two were armed. There was a young man with a flame thrower and an older woman with an automatic weapon. They all appeared to be wearing similiar black uniforms. All except for the last two people. Those men, she recognized instantly.

Sabretooth and the Professor.

Her blood burned and her finger itched to fire on both of them, but she stopped herself. Even as the group left, soldiers were streaming after them. 'Ah, not unarmed at all. They're mutants.' She thought as she watched the group defend themselves as they retreated.

The tactical situation was terrible for Hydra. If they went in now, they would be entering an unknown situation with a least two enemy forces. The chances for success were exponentially reduced from her initial plan.

"Tell all teams to pull back but one. I want that group of mutants followed." They had the Professor and Sabretooth. They probably knew where the rest of the team was. That was her first priority. She could return and destroy this base later, when they weren't on full alert.

As she returned to her mini-plane, she heard the report. "The mutants have retreated to a black jet. They're taking off. We can't follow them."

"Call the team back," she ordered the pilot, "and head for those coordinates, full cloak. We will follow those mutants ourselves."

-----

Maverick noticed someone entering through the back entrance to the bar. He couldn't see his face, but the man was dressed just as his contact said he would be.

"It's about time," Maverick muttered under his breath as he signaled to the man and turned his attention to Domino.

"You're going to have to get up. My contact's here."

He turned his head, indicating the man approaching them, when he froze. It was a set-up. He knew that now. "I thought you said he was missing?" he asked Domino as he slid out of his seat and prepared to defend himself.

"It's time to go, Maverick. You can make this easy, or you can make it hard."

Domino heard the voice and jumped, turning to look behind her. "Logan."

Khaki

**********

"Get away from him, Logan."

Wolverine turned. And blinked. And blinked again. The white face was stirring something in his memories. "Nina? Has it been that long since I seen ya girl?" She was far more mature than he remembered.

~Hello Logan,~ a voice in his head whispered. Charles was putting everything he had into that minimal effort.

"Who? Get out of my head, pal. I don't even like it when Ferro goes in there. I hate it when a stranger tries."

~I assure you I am a friend.~

"Get Out."

For a moment the voice was silenced and Logan's tension eased. That moment lasted as long as it took Charles to disconnect from his Cerebro helmet and move to Jean's. She had not used her boost function. He pressed the button.

"AIGH!!" Domino and Maverick caught Logan as he fell.

-----

Karma released her hold on Sabretooth once the Professor was out of sight.

"Yer sure not someone I'd work with. You mercs?"

"No, we were looking for a friend," Cyclops answered. "He wasn't there. But we didn't think it was wise to leave you behind."

Anonymous Poster

**********

Storm was upset. They'd failed to find Logan. He was still out there, probably brainwashed, and what she'd seen of the lab had terrified and infuriated her. How dare these humans experiment on mutants like they were animals! Not only that, but now she was trapped in a crowded jet with the head scientist and Sabretooth. A wind gust blew against the plane, disturbing her thoughts and forcing her to clamp down on her emotions.

At least Sabretooth was behaving himself. The chair he was seated in appeared ludicrously small in comparison to his bulk, and he appeared incredibly uncomfortable, but he wasn't striking out, growling, or doing any of a number of things that had scared her to death on their last encounter. If these people had been able to so effectively alter Sabretooth by apparently only clearing his memories, what had they done to Logan? Would he ever be the same again?

"'Ro," Scott called from the front of the plane. "This weather is not helping."

She looked up from her seat to see rain pelting the jet. "Sorry, Scott," she said as she concentrated on stopping the downpour, trying to think more pleasant thoughts.

Just then, Jean screamed out, clutching her head. "Jean?!?" Scott called from the front of the plane. Storm could hear his fear and frustration at not being able to leave the pilot's seat and go to her.

Storm quickly got out of her seat and kneeled in the aisle at her friend's side. "Jean, what's wrong?"

Jean's face held pain and fear. "It's Professor Xavier. Something's wrong. Something's happened."

-----

It had taken quite some time, and sometimes creative flying, but Silver Fox's transport had followed the black jet all the way back to its base. It had been tricky. The jet didn't register on any of their instruments, so they had to keep it in sight at all times. When that rainstorm had appeared out of nowhere, Silver Fox was sure that they would lose sight of the jet, but the unusual storm hadn't lasted more than a few minutes, and they had stayed with their target.

The base was an old, regal building in New York. She watched as the jet sunk into the ground below a basketball court and then turned to her pilot.

"Take a thorough scan of the area and plot this location. We will return in force later."

-----

Rogue had been waiting forever. Well, it seemed like forever. It was probably only 30 minutes, but still, when there's hardly any passersby and nothing to look at, 30 minutes is forever. She had moved to the front door of the bar for warmth. Maybe she could just slip in. Keep the hood of her coat up, her face obscured. It was freezing out here, and it didn't look like Maverick or Domino were coming out anytime soon.

She had just pulled open the door, when she heard Logan's cry and turned to see him fall.

She was at his side, Maverick and Domino pushed out of the way before she even realized she was moving. His face was so pale and his head lolled to one side as she pulled him to her body.

"What happened? Help me. We've got to help him!"

Khaki

**********

Gambit traced the signal of Scott's bike to a rundown area of New York City. Being a good thief, he had made a note of the frequency in case he ever needed to 'borrow' the bike without Scott's knowledge. No one was with it, but he spotted Logan's jeep two blocks to the north and a seedy hotel with a full police escort.

"Dey been here," Remy noted to himself as he begain to look for the route they would have used as an escape.

He walked quickly, and within minutes, found himself across the street from the mercenary hangout, Smokey's. "Marie," he called as she walked through the door. He ran inside. She didn't know what she was getting into at a place like this.

-----

The Blackbird had landed and the unconscious professor was carried to the medical lab by Sabretooth. He was strapped to the examining table and left to regain consciousness so that he could be questioned.

Jean ran ahead to Cerebro to find Prof. Xavier unconscious as well on the floor. He was also taken to the medical lab, where she tried to check for damage to his mind. She knew that he had taken a second dose of the booster in under the 24 hours, and they still didn't know that much about it.

-----

As they waited Storm found herself playing hostess. It was surreal, sitting in the kitchen watching Sabretooth eating a sandwich and drinking one of Logan's beers. The girl, Clarice, sat next to him and ate as well. She seemed shy, but unafraid of her dinner companion. Storm began running sleeping arrangements and other assorted details through her head.

-----

"Please, pass the salt, Mister Sabretooth." she said in a quiet voice to his left. He looked down at the little frail beside him.

"It ain't Mister Sabretooth. My name is Creed, Victor Creed." He replied as he handed her the salt shaker, careful not to cut her hand with his claws. He didn't smell the fear/revoltion from her he associated with meeting new people. It was just a shy, uncertain kind of scent.

"Thank you Mister Creed. My name is Clarice Ferguson but they call me Blink."

-----

Nickie had heard the return of the plane. She had come to the kitchen to see what she could find out. Nick would be expecting a report. She knew that Xavier knew that she was a plant but chose to work with her. She would fix herself a cup of tea, and if they were ready to tell her about the events of tonight, they would. Still, she was surprised to see a known serial killer passing the salt to a purple elf while they shared a meal at the kitchen table.

Lurker

**********

As soon as Logan fell, the patrons of the bar jumped to their feet, drawing a wide variety of weapons out of concealment. Domino and Maverick noticed this and took up defensive positions, but Marie only had eyes for Logan. He was breathing and he had a pulse, but something had happened to him. She hadn't seen what, but not much could take down the Wolverine. Where had he come from anyway?

"Chere, duck." Gambit came, seemingly out of nowhere, pulling her head down as a chair swung past. His bow staff extended, he swept it around at the chair wielder, knocking him down and disarming him.

"Chere, this not be a safe place for you," he said pulling on her arm.

"Help me with Logan," Marie said, rising, her arms slung around Logan's chest, lifting his top half from the floor. Gambit grabbed his legs and they ducked and dodged through the crowd, slipping into the alley from the back entrance.

Logan starting moaning and shifting. "Put him down."

"Chere, we need to get out of here."

Marie was determined. "Something's wrong. Put him down."

-----

Professor Charles Xavier opened his eyes, squinting at the too bright light of the medical bay, to see Jean's relieved face. "How do you feel?"

"Terrible."

"Good. Then you won't try a stunt like that again."

"I found Logan."

"What?"

"His mind has been manipulated. He didn't remember me; he couldn't remember anyone but Nina, and that was only for a brief second. I needed the boosted power of the other headset to break through all the mental blocks."

"No!" a voice shouted from the other bed. The Professor, who had been pretending to be asleep for the past 10 minutes struggled against his restraints. "What have you done? With all the mental blocks gone, he'll have no control. He'll be an insane animal. I've seen what he can do in that state, 17 years ago. I was lucky to survive."

-----

Marie was leaning over Logan's body, trying to calm his increasing shaking and groaning when the Wolverine awoke.

Khaki

**********

Professor Xavier glared at the Professor. "That is the price you pay for attempting to turn a human being into a killing machine. I can easily enter anyone's mind but I recognize the moral price and consequences of such an action. Jean, you have to stop him. Shut down his mind until we can fix it."

"You used both the potential boosting actions, Charles. There's no way I can reach that distance and still be able to stop him."

"The purple skinned girl, Clarice! She's a teleporter! We tested her; she can teleport to places simply by having the location mentally placed in her mind!"

Jason Barnett

**********

"Charles, do you know where Logan is? Do you have a location I can give her?"

"He was in some sort of bar in New York, with his friend Nina and an associate of his, Maverick. Let me try to send it to you."

"No, Charles. You're still too weak. I'll use Cerebro and get the information from Domino. You rest. I'll be back soon with Logan."

-----

Jean walked into the kitchen to find Clarice sitting with Sabretooth and having a pleasant meal. His change in temperment was remarkable. He was actually being almost tender and attentive to the young mutant.

Sabretooth sniffed and turned to look at the doctor as she approached and bent down to talk to the girl.

"Clarice, we need your help. Our friend is in trouble and we need to get to him very quickly. I need you to take me to him. He is about 250 miles away. Do you think you can do that?"

"It's further than I've ever done."

"Wait a second," Creed interrupted. "You can't expect her to risk herself just because you're in a hurry."

"Please, this is a life-or-death situation. We don't have time."

"Who's your friend."

"His name is Logan. We went to the lab where you were being kept because we were looking for him."

"I'll try."

-----

Wolverine leaped up, pushing Marie aside and unsheathing his claws. He didn't know where he was. He didn't know who he was. Images were flashing through his mind unbidden. The people before him changed like they were shapeshifters. First, they were a girl with white streaks and a guy with red eyes. Then, they were ninjas, sworn to the Hand, ready to strike. Then they were scientists with scapels at the ready. The scenes kept changing every few seconds. He knew all the people, but he didn't know any of them.

That familiar girl-scent stayed, hanging in the air between them. He knew that scent, and he knew he couldn't hurt them, but he couldn't focus, couldn't keep control through the changing visions. He had to get out of there. Sheathing his claws, he attacked the man, who was now a Canadian Army Major, pushing past him and running down the alley, out to the street.

Khaki

**********

Rogue followed Logan outside. If she could just touch him, then he would be unconscious. She might go berserk, but she didn't have huge adamantium claws.

Jason Barnett

**********

Rogue slowly approached Logan, who was sniffing the air, searching the street, his claws once again extended. She had removed her right hand glove and was reaching for Logan's bare neck when he spun, claws flashing in the street lights. She jumped back, but couldn't move fast enough, and would have been gutted had not a metal staff come between her and Logan in that instant.

"Get back, chere!" Remy commanded, defending himself against the insane creature before him. He was grateful that his staff was adamantium as he blocked and parried Wolverine's strikes.

"Remy, if I can touch him, I can stop this."

"Non, look in his eyes, chere. He don't know you. He'll kill you before you can grab hold."

Rogue looked and saw that Logan's once kind eyes had become crazed and wild, and for the first time, she was afraid of him.

Gambit kept fighting. If he stopped, if he lost his concentration for just one moment, he was a dead man. He was fast, but Logan was faster and a sweep of his claws came just under the staff, grazing Remy's ribs. He wasn't hurt badly, but it was enough to knock him to the pavement, sending his bo staff flying from his hands. He reached into his jacket to get his cards, but he knew it was a futile gesture. He'd never get them out and charged in time.

"Logan!!!" Remy heard the shout coming from the bar's main entrance. It was Jean and her hand was out, straining against an unseen force.

Wolverine was frozen mid-strike, straining with all his power to follow through on his attack. Remy quickly scooted out of range of those deadly claws. He saw Jean close her eyes and then Logan's eyes rolled back in his head, his claws retracted, and he collapsed to the pavement.

Jean ran over to the prone man, a young purple elf, Domino, and Maverick following her. "We have to get him back to the mansion."

"Dr. Grey, I can't. I took us too far. I don't have the energy to take us back."

"That's ok, Clarice," Jean said, turning to the group. "Does anyone have a car we can take him in?"

"I have his Jeep," Marie offered.

Remy and Domino replied that they came on motorcycles.

"Ok, Remy, Domino, head back on the cycles. Marie, go get the Jeep."

Marie, Remy, and Domino ran back towards the motel where they'd left their vehicles. Domino noticed that Maverick was following. "Where're you going?"

"Well, from the looks of it, you've got my missing purple mutant. This was all a set-up, and I want to know who did it and why. I'm tagging along."

Khaki

**********

They quickly loaded Logan into the back seat of the jeep with his head in Jean's lap so she could keep him asleep until they could get him back to the school. Blink climbed into the front seat next to Rogue who was getting in behind the wheel. Blink was asleep with in minutes. The escape and the use of her powers were just too much. It was a good thing as Rogue's driving was leaving Jean clutching the armrest with white knuckles.

Gambit carefully pulled out on his bike as soon as the jeep got on the road not wanting to attract the attentions of any of the extra police still in the area from the fight at the hotel an hour ago. He didn't think that Professor Xavier would be pleased by some of his extra curricular activities that would come to light if bail had to be posted.

Domino retrieved Scott's bike from in front of the motel, the officer nearest it getting a call on his car's radio which was parked a block away as she walked up. Maverick climbed on behind her.

"Hold on. This bike is custom built." She told him as they followed Gambit on the road. Maverick found out that she wasn't joking once they hit the freeway and she opened it up.

"I have got to get me one of these!" Maverick yelled as the wind tore his words away.

Domino just grinned in a way that had been known to make sane men tremble in fear.

-----

Ambassador Becker paced the cell he was in. Nick Fury had placed him in 'Protective Custody' on board the helicarrier. He was being told to resign his postion, that his new identity was being put together. He had overheard one of the guards talking about it. Fury had personally instructed his assigned case manager in the Witness Protection Program to make him a garbage collector in Nowhere, Texas. The was actually a town named Nowhere!

-----

Silver Fox watched as a jeep and two motorcycles approached the gates to Xavier's School for Gifted Students. Someone opened the gates electronically and the procession headed up the driveway. She used her night vision glasses and watched as some of the same mutants from the base came out. She watched as Sabretooth picked up a sleeping mutant girl, and Logan was loaded onto a stretcher. When Maverick climbed off the back of one of the motorcycles and helped with Logan, she smiled a cruel smile. Four of the people she wanted dead most in the world were all in one place.

She quietly moved through the underbrush to where she had hidden her mini jet. She picked up the radio and called headquarters.

"Is everyone in place?"

"Yes, we have also located where the officals funding the project are as you instructed. All can be eliminated without problem with the exception of Ambassador Becker. Our sources on the inside say that he has been placed in 'Protective Custody' by Fury on-board the helicarrier," came the voice at the other end.

"I want you to take out the Project X base. Kill everyone and burn it to the ground. Try to retrieve what you can from the computers. Make it EYES ONLY classification and put it on my desk. I also want everyone involved with the funding taken out. That includes Becker. Activate our agent inside the helicarrier. I want that bird blown out of the sky. We'll take care of him and Fury at the same time. I will be returning shortly."

"As you command." The radio went silent.

Lurker

**********

Jean and Maverick maneuvered Logan's stretcher down to the med bay, Marie running alongside. As they entered, the found Professor Xavier in his wheelchair getting ready to leave with Scott beside him.

"Charles!" Jean chastised. "You are still too weak to be out of bed. How could you help him, Scott?"

"He can be pretty persuasive when he wants to be." Scott said, then mentally added, ~I just couldn't take that off-key psychic singing of 'Henry the Eighth, I Am' any more.~

She gave her fiance an understanding smile. "Well, ok, but I expect you to rest, Charles," she said wagging her finger at him like she would a disobedient child, then allowed him to leave.

She went back to Maverick and Rogue, mentally moving Logan from the stretcher to a medical bed. Once the captive Professor saw who was taking up residence beside him, he started to struggle with his bonds.

"No, please. You can't leave him there. Without his mental blocks, he'll kill me. He told me he'll gut me. You can't do this. I have rights..." The Professor's protestations grew louder and higher pitched until he was practically shrieking in panic. To save her sanity and her hearing, Jean relented, moving him to a quarantine room. It wasn't what he wanted, but it was a sound-proofed, locked room, and with the communication unit turned off, Jean could finally hear herself think again.

"You'd think he doesn't want to be around Logan," Maverick said with a wry grin. He could vaguely remember the Professor and all of those memories left him with a feeling of joy at any discomfort the Professor was forced to endure.

"Ok," Jean said, directing Maverick, Rogue, and Scott to the exit. "I'm going to need you all to leave if I'm going to help Logan."

Maverick left, but Marie and Scott stopped. "What are you thinking, Jean?" Scott asked.

"I'm going to try and see if I can't sort out some of his memories. Right now, I have to psychically hit him about every thirty minutes to keep him unconscious, and I can't do that forever. I'm going to have to sleep sometime."

"What about drugs?"

"His healing factor will adapt to any drugs I give him. Each time they're administered, they'll last a shorter amount of time."

"Jean, you're not strong enough. The Professor..."

"Won't be strong enough for days," Jean interrupted.

"Ok," Scott relented, "but I'm staying here."

"We both are," Marie said, stepping forward.

"You can't be here. You'll distract me."

"We'll be quiet," Scott assured her. "I'm not leaving you alone."

-----

Scientists, surrounding me, cutting into marked skin. The clink of champagne glasses, the metallic smell of the air from the mask, the feel of liquid flowing into my body, surrounding my bones, burning, the pain. A scientist leaning over me with a scapel. Square-rimmed glasses behind his mask.

A mask, red and black, a samurai's mask. The clang of swords meeting, the smell of the green earth in the sparring circle. Ducking, blocking, striking, parrying, a battle with two winners: master and student. An error, a cut, blood on the green earth.

Blood everywhere, in the waves, on the beach, further in-shore. Soldiers yelling, bombs exploding, bullets wizzing past. The smell of napalm, blood, sweat, fear. Running up the beach. Have to find cover, a safe haven.

The cabin. A haven from the outside world. A Native American woman, laughing, running. A birthday. My birthday. Sweet smell of cake, spicy scent of her perfume. A surprise, the scent of blood. Her dead flesh in my hands.

Hands, hands on my shoulders, shaking me. "Jean!!!"

Jean pulled back, looking up into Scott's worried face. "Jean, what happened?"

"I can't... can't do it. Too many memories, overlapping, out of order, some different but occurring at the same time. How can two different things happen to someone at the same time?"

"It's ok, Jean. When the professor is better, he'll help. Logan will be ok."

"I'm not so sure."

-----

When Silver Fox returned, the EYES ONLY file was waiting on her desk. Smiling, she turned to her assistant, "Report."

"The Project X facility has been destroyed."

"What about the helicarrier?"

"The operative has not reported in yet."

"Very well. Prepare for the assault on the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters."

Khaki

**********

The Contessa Valentina De La Fontiane was finally able to call it a day, as second in comand of the S.H.E.I.L.D. helicarrier, there was always something demanding her attention. All she had to do now was check her e-mail and then she could take a bath.

"Good thing Nick is due back tonight," she said to herself as she opened her e-mail account. "We need a quiet evening to ourselves."

One message was marked urgent so she opened it first. Her computer screen flashed in a strobe effect for exactly three seconds.

-----

She moved quickly down the corridor to the cell holding Ambassador Becker, making sure that she wasn't followed. There was only one guard at the door.

"Contessa," he said as he snapped to a salute.

She pulled up the gun she had hidden in her jacket and shot him between the eyes before he could even register it happening. She looked around again. The silencer muffled the sound enough. No one had noticed anything. She took her master keycard and opened the cell door. Becker looked up.

"Contessa, come to take me to that hell Fury has assigned me to? I wouldn't have thought that he'd send his girlfriend." Becker glared at her.

"No Ambassador. I did come to send you to hell but it is compliments of Hydra, not Nick Fury." She brought up her gun and pulled the trigger.

-----

Nick Fury finally made it back to the helicarrier. He had been spending another day at the UN. It was good to be back. He was looking forward to his night with Val. He made it to her quarters and used his keycard to open the door and closed it behind him.

The room was lit only with candles and there were two glasses next to a bucket full of ice and a chilled bottle of champagne. His Contessa lounging on the couch in next to nothing. Nick smiled until he saw the gun aiming at his head.

"Uh Val," he got out as he quickly ran through him mind anything that he could have said or done to set her off.

"You're just in time, Nick." she said as she pressed the button on a small box in her hand. "In exactly five minutes the bomb will go off, and Hydra will have its revenge. My orders are to keep you here until it blows. A bullet to the knee should see to that." Her gun's aim changed as she squeezed the trigger.

Nick's reflexes kicked in and rolled out of the line of fire. He changed directions and launched himself at the woman on the couch.

Lurker

**********

Knowing that Jean would need rest soon, Scott rigged up a cell just off the medical lab in a containment room. It had originally been set up as a safe place for students whose powers had gone out of control to regain control over them. Scott enlisted the help of resident genius Henry McCoy to create a kind of force field over the doorway. They hoped that by using an energy-based barrier the claws would be useless. Young Hank or Beast as he was known by the other students said that it worked in theory. A tranquilizer gun with a range of sedatives was set nearby just in case it didn't. Mariko volunteered to take the first watch. They placed Logan on the floor and covered him with a blanket. Mariko sat on the floor just outside the door in the lotus position to meditate, the gun within reach but out of site. When he woke, she didn't want to give off any aggressive signals. They wanted him as calm as possible until Professer Xavier was well enough to try to help him.

-----

Sabretooth carried the exausted girl upstairs to the dormroom that Storm led him to. He carefully laid her down on the bed, pulling the blanket over her.

"Thank you, Mister Creed." she said sleepily opening one eye.

"You're welcome, kid," he replied more than a little uncomfortable with the situation. The kid was almost too polite. She was already asleep. He turned to leave and saw Maverick was standing in the doorway.

Lurker

**********

Nick blocked Val's next shot, hitting her wrist and knocking the gun out of her right hand. Her left hand pulled out a wicked looking knife, and she struck. He blocked her attack with his arm, howling in pain as the knife cut through to the bone. Pushing away from the couch, he got out of knife-reach and pressed his comm unit.

Val yelled, flinging herself off the sofa at him, knife at the ready. He dodged to the side, grabbing her knife hand as she went past, earning a gouge in his other arm.

He could hear the comm unit buzzing and crackling. Dum Dum's voice came on. "Nick, what's wrong? I'm coming now."

Nick couldn't afford the second it would take to answer. He pulled Val back towards him. They were now standing together, her back to his chest, still struggling over the knife. He released his hold on the knife with one hand, grabbing her around the waist and running towards the wall, intending to knock her unconscious against it. Instead, she put up her legs, bracing herself against it and pushing off. Overbalanced, they toppled to the floor, Val on top.

The breath was knocked out of him as the woman landed on his chest, but he kept fighting her for the knife. She was kicking with her legs and got close enough to his arms to take a bite out of his flesh. He screamed again, and then rolled them together so he was on top, their arms over their heads. He used his leverage to sit up a bit, keeping her on the ground with his weight and the grip of his legs. Pounding her hands against the ground to loosen her hold, he felt the knife fall from her hands and snatched it, throwing it away from both of them. She was shrieking in outrage now, kicking and pushing, trying to get out from under him.

Dum Dum burst through the door, taking in the scene before him. "I've heard of lover's quarrels, but..."

"No time, Dum Dum. She's been manipulated by Hydra. We've got about four minutes before the Helicarrier blows up."

-----

Logan woke, or was he asleep? He couldn't tell the difference anymore. Awake or asleep, he saw faces, heard voices. So many, all at the same time. So mixed up he couldn't distinguish one from another. He looked around, trying to tell what was real and what wasn't, without much success.

There was a woman sitting past the doorway. It was hard to make her out past all the other people in the room with him. She said something, but he couldn't hear her through all the other voices.

There was a scent. Strong. The smell filled him with anger, shame, panic, and fear. He knew the man behind that scent. An older man, with square-rimmed glasses. A ghost of the man was in the room with him, but the scent was coming from somewhere else, the room next-door. The real man was a room away. There was only a wall between them. Soon there would be nothing between them. *SNIKT*

Khaki

**********

Maverick watched his old teammate and shuddered. He knew what Creed was like. He just didn't know what Creed had planned for the girl on the bed.

"Step away from her, Vic. I called her parents. They'll be here in the morning. I'm keeping an eye on her until then. You try to hurt her, and I'll cut your heart out." Maverick kept his voice calm as he simply stated a fact. He'd been the one to talk Creed down on more than one mission and knew how to handle it.

Sabretooth sniffed the air. The brown haired man smelled familar, but like most of his other memories, this one was just out of reach. It was like they were all crammed behind a barrier he couldn't get past. His head hurt when he tried to pull them from behind it, but he was finding that if he relaxed, they could kind of leak out here and there. From the scent he knew that the man meant what he said. Sabretooth wasn't in the mood to fight now, though.

"I know you?"

"Yeah, we used to work together. Did Government spook work. We were part of a team until you went off on a mission."

Sabretooth thought about it. He could see himself doing it. If it hadn't been for that Karma frail, he would have gone off after getting out of that lab.

-----

"Dum Dum, evacuate the helicarrier! I want everyone off Now!!" Fury ordered still struggling with the woman on the floor. He knew that there wasn't time to get everyone off. At the moment, the helicarrier was at maxium capacity on a training exercise with the new graduating class of agents. Dum Dum knew it too, but took off giving the order.

"Where's the bomb Val?"

She spat in his face.

"Where did you put the bomb?!"

He was losing more blood than he thought. The Contessa seemed to sense it and fought harder. Fury shifted his weight to keep her hands away from him giving her the opportunity to bring her knee up between his legs. As he instinctively began to curl up in pain, she freed her hand and grabbed the knife. Nick again tried to get it away from her, but it ended up between them, and then she went still.

Lurker

**********

The Professor was bored. They'd kept him in this quarantine room for hours. It was actually a suite, he realized, with two bedrooms and a main room, sharing the same air. They hadn't thought him worthy of a suite, though, locking him into one of the bedrooms.

He heard shuffling and low whispers outside his door about a half hour ago and wondered what they were doing out there. Were they discussing his fate? He didn't know what had happened to the facility once he had been taken. Was there anyone left to look for him?

He heard a low buzzing start, the sound of electricity running freely, and then the voices faded. Were they going to try to kill him? Electrocute him in this room? No, that was silly. He'd been in here too long, and his imagination was working overtime. Just to be safe, though, he moved away from anything metallic.

Soon he heard a shuffling in the bedroom next to his. They'd brought someone else here. Locked him up, too. Could it be someone from the lab?

His question was answered in moments. It was indeed someone from the lab. Someone with six sharp adamantium claws that were now piercing the wall between the rooms.

"Nooooooo!" the professor screamed, running to the furthest corner, away from those deadly scythes. 'They are trying to kill me,' he thought.

-----

Mariko noticed when Logan stirred from the floor in the small room. His eyes scanned the room. She knew he saw her, but then he continued on, focusing on other objects and even on blank air.

"Logan... Logan, it's me, Mariko," she said in English, rising to her knees, but he didn't seem to hear her.

He whipped around towards the wall, breathing deeply through his nose. Then, with a roar, he unsheathed his claws and plunged them through the wall.

She was shocked for a moment by his actions reaching out for the tranquilizer gun. It was useless, though, with the forcefield covering the door. 'What can I do to calm him down?' she thought desperately. 'Well, first I've got to calm myself down. The wall is thick. I have some time to act.'

She folded her legs back into the lotus position and began to chant the ancient phrases in Japanese.

-----

The words called to him. Through the haze of anger and fear. They wrapped him, soothed him. Looking around the room, he saw the people slowly fading, their voices and smells drifting away. They didn't belong here when these words were spoken. They did not know this language. Soon, there was only a calm, diginified Japanese woman and a samurai with a red and black mask. The samurai had a katana piercing his chest.

'I killed you,' Logan thought and the samurai disappeared as well. Then there was only the woman. He watched in amazement as the ghost of the woman walked past him to the doorway, merging with a twin that was already sitting there. The words, the positioning of her body. It was familiar, and he sat down, mimicking her. Soon, both their voices were slowly chanting.

Khaki

**********

Several people were watching this scene.

"I was always very impressed with Logan's skills," Tyger observed. "He told me that he took up the arts to control his animal nature. I never knew how much it was true."

-----

"Mr. Creed?"

Sabretooth looked down at the purple girl. "Yeah, kid?"

"Do I have to go back to my parents? They hate me."

"They hit you?"

"No, but they ignore me, and I have to go to my room if they have a party and I have tutors instead of going to school. They don't want people to know they have "mutie" daughter."

Jason Barnett

**********

Creed looked over at Maverick with raised eyebrows. "And ya wanna send her back?"

Maverick froze, staring at the man he knew was a stone cold killer. "What the *[email protected]# did they do to you, Sabretooth?"

"Watch yer mouth in front of the kid," Creed growled. "Look, some of the kids around here, they said this place was a school for mutants, like us, like Blink."

"Doesn't mean that she shouldn't go back to her folks," Maverick said firmly.

Clarice sat up with a sleepy frown and pushed the blankets down. "Don't talk about me like I'm not here, Mr. Maverick. Is it true? Is everyone here a mutant, too?"

"Yes, it is," Cyclops said as he moved past Maverick into the room. "Creed, Maverick, get out." The hard scowl on his face softened as he turned to face the young girl sitting on the bed. "We'll talk about you staying here when your parents come, okay?"

Clarice nodded slowly. "Yes, sir."

"Try and get back to sleep, Clarice," Cyclops said gently. He turned back to the two older men. "I thought I told you two to *get out*."

Creed frowned as he sniffed the air. This guy wasn't scared of him either, and he had been giving the orders earlier. Good orders actually, now that Creed had the chance to think about it. "Fine. Get some sleep, pup. I'll see ya in the morning."

"Yes, sir, Mr. Creed. Good night." Clarice laid back down and rolled over on her side. She was asleep before they were out of the room.

Maverick turned on Creed and jabbed a finger into his massive chest, hard. "I don't know what you want with that kid, Creed, but I'm not going to let you hurt her!"

Sabretooth grabbed the offending finger and bent it back to the limit. "I. Won't. Hurt. Her."

"Cut it out," Cyclops said tiredly. "He can't remember what he was like before, Maverick. Just let it go for now. Jean says he won't hurt the girl, and I trust her."

"Well, I don't!" Maverick snapped as Creed let go of his hand.

'Uh-oh,' Creed thought as Cyclops' head snapped around, 'that was the *wrong* thing to say.' He remembered how the dick reacted when the redhead frail was in pain.

"*I* trust her," Cyclops said sharply. "*You* on the other hand are only here because Domino trusts you for some reason. Don't even think about proving her wrong. You won't like the results."

"And what are you going to do, little man?" Maverick snarled.

The red light behind the visor flared for a moment. "Don't push me. I've got enough trouble without having to knock you through a wall."

"Or the building," Creed added. He shrugged when the other two looked at him blankly. "Hey, I just saw him fight."

Mac

**********

LIVING/TV/GAME ROOM

All of the students were here, well most the students that knew Logan. Kitty, Bobby, John, Rogue, Karma, Jubilee, and Gambit. They were huddled together in a big group wondering what would happen to their friend.

"Man oh man! I never thought Wolvie could look so bad. I mean I thought that neck wound he got like a while back was gross, but this is like mind deep matter stuff going like around here." Jubilee said as she chewed her hair.

Sparrow

**********

"Val?" Fury asked in a quiet voice, shaking the still body below him. He pulled away to see that in their struggles, she had fallen on her own knife. The lifeless eyes stared up at him. "I'm so sorry, Val. I wanted to save you." He pulled the woman to his chest rocking slowly.

Then, time caught up to him. Where it had seemed so quiet before, now he could hear the loud evacuation klaxons echoing through the halls outside his room. How long? How long had they been fighting? How long did he have left? It felt like the fight had lasted forever.

He ran to the main closet and pulled open the emergency storage area, pulling out a parachute. Every outside room was equipped with such a unit in case of emergency, and a bombing was definitely an emergency. At least the helicarrier was over water, so no innocents on the ground would be injured.

Breaking through the protective glass, he pressed the button to open the bullet-proof outer window and jumped as he heard the first explosion.

-----

Once she could see that Mariko had things under control, Jean shooed everyone else out of the med lab. She went over to the room where they'd put the Professor and opened the door. Even though Logan was calm now, it wasn't wise to keep the Professor so close to him. As she entered the room, she could smell the distinct odor of urine and realized that the Professor had lost control during Logan's attack.

"Come with me," she said to the man cowering in the corner.

"You want to kill me."

"If we wanted to kill you, we wouldn't have stopped Logan. Now, if you want to move to a safer room, I suggest you get up now."

The Professor rose and left the room, Jean following him by a step so she could keep a close eye on him.

As they passed the living room, Jean put a hand on the Professor's arm to stop him and leaned into the room.

"Ok, everyone. It's late. Go to your rooms."

"Jean," Rogue said, jumping up. "How's Logan?"

"Right now, he's calm. Mariko's watching him. You all need your rest. Don't worry about Logan, Professor Xavier will help him." She tried to put confidence in her voice, but after her own trip through Logan's mind, she wasn't so sure even Charles could help. "St. John, could you come with me? The rest of you, goodnight."

St. John hurried up to Jean and saw the man beside her that had been hiding behind the door. "Isn't that the guy..."

"Yes, John. Come with me." Jean interrupted.

She pulled the Professor with her as they went to one of the spare bedrooms on the third floor. "John, seal the window." As she watched John's flame melt the window to its frame, she turned to the older man. "Professor, you should be safer here than down in the lab for tonight. We'll talk about Logan tomorrow."

Jean and St. John exited the room. "John, melt the lock, please."

After the professor was secured, Jean felt that she could finally go to her room. She was exhausted with worry and from overusing her powers throughout the day. She just wanted to hold Scott and sleep for days, but she'd settle for a few uninterrupted hours.

Khaki

**********

Jean passed by Maverick, standing outside one of the bedrooms scowling. Somehow, she didn't think she'd be getting those hours.

"What's wrong?"

"Look lady, you need to tell your boyfriend to get Sabretooth away from that kid."

"He's not dangerous right now. It's really very interesting. When Logan is normal his humanity is dominant over his beast side but it's a struggle. Now, without his memories, he's almost all animal. But in Sabretooth's case it appears to be the exact opposite. His humanity is dominating his bestial side."

Jason Barnett

**********

"Wait a second, lady. I thought Logan's problem was that he had all of his memories, both real and created, and that the confusion and amount of memories was driving him crazy. Now you're telling me he doesn't have any memories?"

"No, you're right," Jean said, closing her eyes and rubbing her forehead. "I'm not thinking straight." She focused her mind, doing a quick metal sweep of her surroundings. "Look, we're all tired. Sabretooth isn't anywhere near this room, and Clarice is asleep. Can't this wait 'til morning?"

-----

"Report," Silver Fox commanded from her hiding place above the mansion.

"The destruction of the Helicarrier has been confirmed. The Ambassador is a confirmed kill, but some survivors escaped, including Nick Fury."

It took all of Silver Fox's willpower not to scream aloud at the failure, but she held back. She didn't want to reveal her position until it was time to attack. "Nick Fury will be dealt with soon. For now, let's concentrate on our mission. Are all the teams in place?"

"Yes, we have the mansion surrounded. Their security is unaware of our presence."

"Good. We will attack at dawn. Kill anyone who gets in your way, but bring Sabretooth, Maverick, Wolverine, and the Professor to me."

Khaki

**********

Marie sat in her room, alone.

Logan.

She wiped the tears out of her eyes, and tried her best to hold back a sob. She failed miserably.

The door opened a bit, and Jubilee walked in,"Marie?"

Maries looked up, and she shook her head trying to clear her face of tears,"Yah?"

Jubilee's gaze met Marie's. They didn't need to say anything. Logan was close to both of them.

Marie ran to Jubilee and crashed into her arms. (Marie was still wearing all her layered clothes and gloves, as was Jubilee.)

They just stood there, hugging each other; Marie crying her eyes out, and Jubilee holding her comfortingly.

Marie was like a sister, and Jubilee knew more then anyone how she felt. Jubilee's eyes saddened more, but refused to cry. She'd be strong for Marie, she would. Marie had gone through so much, she didn't deserve this.

So, Jubilee comforted Marie as she cried.

They stayed like that a while, until Marie said,"Ah'm gonna go ta sleep, Jubilee."

Jubilee nodded and headed for the door. She'd leave Marie alone for a while.

As Jubilee walked out of the room, she heard Rogue whisper, "Thanks."

Jubilee tilted her head back to Marie's direction a second and flashed Rogue a smile, then walked out of the room.

-----

As she closed the door, Jubilee sniffled a bit.

She hoped Logan would be okay.

She loved him as much as she did Marie and Kitty and all of her best friends.

Tears threatened to spill, as a voice inside Jubilee's head told her that since Marie got to cry, she should too. That it wasn't healthy to keep her feelings in.

But Jubilee refused to give in too tears, she wouldn't! She had to be strong! A lot of her friends here had gone through so much more then her, and the majority of them hadn't shed a tear, so she had no right too cry over anything if they didn't!

With determination in her glassy eyes, she walked forward only to find herself bumping into...

Minkychan

**********

Nick Fury turned to look back at the helicarrier. The first explosion was in the engine room, and it triggered a series of other explosions. Windows blew out as flames and smoke reached for the sky. The air around it was filled with parachutes, hovercars, hoverbikes and the escape pods. There were already people in the water, and he could see the Coast Guard on the way to start picking up the survivors.

Everything was in slow motion as the details etched themselves into his mind. The helicarrier dropped fast after the engines were gone. It hit New York Harbor sending a wave of water over the first block of the docks. It settled in the water and then slipped under the waves to sit at the bottom in a shallow part, sticking out above the water. There were more explosions under the water.

He had gotten wind that Hydra had been planning an offensive attack. He had known that they had to have someone inside S.H.E.I.L.D. to know what they knew, sometimes. He just hadn't been expecting this.

-----

"'Ello, Petite," Remy said as she turned around. Jubilee nearly jumped out of her skin.

"Gumbo I should paff you into next week for that!" Jubilee said in a loud whisper.

"Remy just coming to see how Marie be doing," he said as he looked down at the firecracker in front of him.

"She's ok. She's sleeping," Jubilee said him tring to push past him. She really didn't want anyone to see her right now.

Lurker

**********

Jubilee grumbled in annoyance.

Why did she have to bump into Remy of all people?

Oh, right. Murphy's Law. You're feeling a bit worried and depressed, so you HAVE to bump into the JERK.

Minkychan

**********

"So what are you up to petite, hieh?" Gambit asked as he strolled behind her.

Sparrow

**********

Jubilee pulled a piece of gum out of her pocket. and put it in her mouth. She chewed, then blew a bubble.

"Nothing."

Remy narrowed his eye slightly, "Why ain't you going to sleep? It's pretty late."

Jubilee shot him an annoyed look, "You aren't exactly in bed yourself, LeBeau."

Remy smirked, "Remy ain't tired."

Jubilee just blew another bubble.

Minkychan

**********

"So why do you care so much as to what I do, hieh." Jubilee said mimicking part of his accent.

'So she's going to pull that kind of game, well two can play this,' Remy thought as he pulled out a cigarette.

"Just wondering, petite. Thought you might like to keep Remy a little company. A little entertained." Remy said as he lit his cigarette with his powers and hoped to God he didn't get paffed for saying that last line.

Jubilee just stood there with a cool look on her face. Eyeing him and his 'too cool, I'm the best at everything I do' Cajun charm.

"Entertain, huh?" Jubilee said out loud.

'Two can play at this game. Let's see what you got LeBeau.' "Entertain how, Remy?" Jubilee purred as she let her fingers slide up his arm.

Remy's eyebrows went up a notch and his cigarette hung in his mouth.

"You might want to close that Remy, flies are being let in." Jubilee said as she closed his mouth and walked away with a little swagger in her hips. As soon as she rounded the corner, she started to giggle a little. That little charade paid off to see the Cajun stunned.

Remy just stood in the hall fumming.

'Argh!! I let her walk away. Face it, mon ami, she's got you hooked.' Remy said to himself as he started to walk away down the hall. But decided against it and went looking for Jubilee again.

He found her, and she was laughing.

"Jub..." Remy started to say, but the whole house shook with an explosion.

Sparrow

**********

"So much for sleep," Jean muttered as she tossed off the covers she had slipped under just five minutes earlier. She brought her uniform to herself, telekinetically.

-----

Maverick felt a voice in his mind. ~Sgt. North, I have scanned our attackers minds and found you and Logan and Sabretooth among the principal targets. I would appreciate it if you went to where Logan is. Take Sabretooth as well. We can provide extra protection for you that way, and you can provide extra protection for him.~

Maverick scowled. That last bit was a good point and made him agree when he normally wouldn't. "Move it Creed, we're heading down to watch out for Logan."

"Fine, but I'm gettin' the kid, too. If that guy needs protectin' so does little Clarice."

Jason Barnett

**********

"Who fired that shell? I'll have his head!" Silver Fox screamed as she saw the damage caused by the single shot of artillery. They were supposed to attack at dawn and that was still over an hour and a half away. Some of her forces were eating or loading their weapons. They weren't prepared, but their advantage was gone, the mansion was alerted, and they had to move now, while her enemy was still unprepared.

"Give the attack order. I want them taken down quickly. Use the mortars and shells until our people are close enough to enter the building." Sabretooth, Wolverine, and even Maverick have healing factors. Shelling probably wouldn't kill them, just make them more easy to capture and kill at her convenience. The Professor might die, but she was willing to take the risk. She only wanted to see his dead body, anyway. She'd even settle for his head.

-----

The shelling brought Logan out of his meditation. The sounds of explosions, the building's steel supports buckling, adults and children screaming. The faint smell of mortar in the air. He was in France. The Germans were doing another bombing raid of the city. They had no regard for the fact that there were civilians still in the buildings. They were trying to destroy the Allied forces that had taken shelter there.

He had to get out where he could fight with his unit. He jumped up and ran to the doorway. Instead of running through it, he was thrown back, an electric forcefield shocking his body. Shaking his head, he got back up. There was a woman sitting at the door. Probably one of the French residents.

"Help me. I must join my unit." he said to her in French.

She stayed seated, looking at him in confusion. Wait a minute, the door was shielded. Could be some new German trick.

"Let me out now." he said in German trying to sound intimidating, but she still did not respond.

'I don't have time for this. Maybe my bone claws can cut through the wall.' he thought as he approached the already damaged wall and popped his claws. They made a strange metal on metal sound, and when he looked down, he could see that his bone claws were lined with metal.

"What did you do to me?" he shrieked at the woman in English.

"Logan, calm down. What do you mean? You know how you got your claws. You just have to think..."

More shells hit their building, closer this time, and Logan decided that the time to ask questions was after the battle was through. He threw himself at the damaged wall, cutting through the remains of it quickly and running out of the room towards the sound of gunfire.

Khaki

**********

As soon as the shelling hit the school, and Remy opened his mouth, he lost his footing to the collision and fell on top of Jubilee.

"Get off of me, Cajun!!!" Jubilee screamed as she let loose of some of her paffs.

"Merde, Ouch! I'm trying to petite," Remy said as he got off. "See, I'm off!!"

Jubilee was begining to open her mouth when a piece of brick went whizzing by and hit her in head, and him in the groin.

Needless to say, they both went down, HARD, once again. (same positions, only Remy was curled up in a ball). And Logan went running by heedless of their dire predicament.

Sparrow

**********

Domino hadn't been able to sleep. She was worried about Logan, but she hated hospitals of any kind. Jean didn't have to tell her twice that they'd let her know if anything changed. She had gone to the room they had given her on the top floor and hoping to take her mind off things for awhile took out her beloved sniper rifle to clean. She had smuggled it past customs and airport security. It had been a Chirstmas present from Logan years ago. She had found that breaking it down to take care of it always had a calming effect on her, a lot like a meditaion of sorts.

She had just gotten the case open and the rifle assembled when the first explosion rocked the mansion. She pulled out a few rounds, closed the case as she slipped them into the chamber, and headed to the roof. Target practice was also very calming to the nerves.

-----

Sabretooth made it down the hall to the dorm rooms, Maverick close behind him. There was no way that Maverick was going to leave Creed alone with that little girl. They reached Clarice's and Sabretooth nearly tore the door off its hinges opening it.

Clarice looked up with frightened eyes. "MMMister CCreed?" she asked.

"Come on, pup. I'm taking you someplace safer," Sabretooth said as he reached down to pick her up.

Maverick stood by the door and looked down the hall. It was full of girls from around 5-17 years old looking out their doors. Another blast shook the building and dust particles fell from the ceiling. Sabretooth joined him at the door.

"Come on. We'll get all of you someplace safer," Maverick said taking the hand of one little five year old girl with green scales covering her body. One of the older girls picked up another younger one and followed.

"Where's the boys' rooms?" Maverick asked her.

"I'll take you," she said her, catlike eyes seeing a little better than his in the flickering light.

Lurker

**********

Logan swatted aside the gun the woman guarding him had pointed at his chest and calmly knocked her cold. He didn't really want to hurt her, something about her scent was familiar, but he had to get to his unit. Civilians could get hurt if they didn't get to the Germans quickly and take them down.

His head snapped around as the sounds of two heavy sets of footsteps and several dozen lighter ones ran toward him.

"North? Creed?" Logan shouted as he turned toward the sound. He blinked. "Kids?"

"Logan!" one of the older kids shouted in English with his eyes wide. "Oh, man, am I glad to see you! These two goons won't let me and Johnny go fight!"

"No, no, no!" yelped a little boy with green skin as he clutched the older boy's hand tightly. "Bobby and Johnny stay with Leech! Please? Leech not want to be with big, scary men alone."

A purple girl clutching Creed's hand let go and crouched next to the frightened green boy. "Mr. Creed isn't scary, Leech. He and his friends are here to protect us, okay?"

"Pretty girl promise Leech?" the boy sniffled.

"Promise," she said softly crossing her heart with a finger.

Logan's jaw dropped. "What the h*ll is going on here?"

"The mansion's under attack by heavy mortar fire," another older boy said with a thick Australian accent. "Bobby and me were going to get the squirts down to the tunnels when Big and Bigger over there came running with the girls to get the boys, then dragged us along after we told them where the tunnels were. We got to go find the rest of our team and join up with the others."

Another explosion rocked the building. Logan cursed. He pushed aside all the questions racing through his head and focused on the situation at hand. "Fine. Bobby, Johnny, you two protect the kids. North, Creed, you're with me."

The two other men traded looks then nodded.

"Stay here, pup," Creed told the purple girl. "Anything happens you get everyone else out of here. Think you can do that?"

"Yes, sir!" the girl said with a brilliant smile.

"Good girl," Creed grunted.

Bobby and Johnny glared after the three adults as they ran back the way they had come.

"This sucks!" Bobby shouted, pounding his fist against a wall.

Johnny shrugged. "Could be worse."

"How?" Bobby demanded.

"They could have stayed here to protect *us* instead of leaving us to protect *them*," Johnny said pointing at the littler kids. He grinned at Bobby's suddenly blank expression and adjusted the straps holding on his flame thrower.

"Good point," Bobby muttered. He frowned down the hallway. "The other's aren't going to come looking for us until after the fighting's over. So let's move farther down the hall, then block it off."

"With what?" Clarice asked as she crouched next to the woman Logan had left knocked out on the floor.

Bobby grinned. "Hey, I'm the Iceman. I'll take care of it."

Mac

**********

Nick Fury paced the Coast Guard boat's bridge, demanding information. "I want to know where Hydra is, and I want to know now. No one openly attacks S.H.E.I.L.D. and gets away with it."

"It'll take time, Nick. You know that. We've got to check out our contacts, get leads, make plans." Dum Dum was trying to calm down his superior with little results. Truth be told, he wanted Hydra as much as Nick. All those fresh graduates, so much hope for the future, murdered in one cowardly strike.

They were using the Coast Guard rescue boat to scour the bay for more survivors, but he didn't hold out much hope. Most of the people that escaped by parachute were already in the water when the helicarrier exploded. It fell directly on them, hitting the water in a massive explosion. A bomb, planted by a woman that had most certainly been manipulated, it wasn't playing fair. They had no chance to defend themselves. When, not if, when they found Hydra, they'd show them what S.H.I.E.L.D. could do in a fight.

The ring of Nick's cell phone interrupted his thoughts.

"What? ... Nickie? ... Hydra? ... We're on our way."

"What is it, Nick?"

"That Xavier school Nickie's watching for me is under attack. She said, by the uniforms, the attackers were Hydra."

"Let's go."

Khaki

**********

Xavier liked to think of himself as a moral and ethical person. He controlled his powers and believed that to use them to control others was abhorent. It was something he avoided except in the most dire circumstances. Now, his school, his children, were under attack. Some of them would surely die unless he took action.

He could not control the minds of all the attacking soldiers. He was still too weak from his overexertion in Cerebro yesterday. Instead, he searched for the mind of the commander. If he could force him to issue a retreat order, then the soldiers would leave.

He closed his eyes, searching, lightly scanning the closest soldiers to see who they took orders from. It was a woman. Silver Fox. When he found her mind, he tried his hardest to control her, command her body to bow to his will, but she was too strong. She had fought telepaths before, and her hate and determination helped to defeat his powers in his weakened condition.

He kept trying.

-----

Cyclops, Jean, and Storm fought side-by-side their younger counterparts. Cyclops was impressed with the control and courage the younger mutants showed. They worked effectively in their team; Jubilee reinforcing his orders and giving some of her own. So far, they were holding the soldiers back, but they were greatly outnumbered.

They had to keep trying, though. These people were after Logan and his old friends, but they didn't care who they hurt in the process. The X-Men had to protect the school. Give the younger students time to get to shelter and safety. Besides, loathe as he was to admit it, Scott kind of liked Logan.

'Think of the devil,' Scott thought as he saw Logan, Maverick, and Sabretooth burst through the front doors of the school and join in the fight.

"Aren't we supposed to be protecting you?" Scott yelled over the roar of artillery and shelling.

"Appreciate the gesture, but it's time for the professionals to get some action," Logan replied.

-----

Logan was trying his hardest to focus on the here and now, the battle in front of him, and nothing else. He couldn't afford distractions, and every time he looked at Sabretooth and Maverick, that's all he got. They kept changing before his eyes into the personnas they had taken for different missions. One minute, there was Victor Creed, then El Tigre, then Sabretooth. It was confusing to say the least, and he didn't have time for it.

He fought his way through the enemy, slashing, striking, fighting with all the skill his years of training and experience had given him, Sabretooth and Maverick fighting alongside him. When the enemies immediately around him were defeated, he took a moment to look around and assess the battle. That's when he saw her, back through the trees, the first light of dawn revealing all her features to his heightened senses.

Silver Fox.

Her face, her name, the memories enveloped him and the battle faded away.

Khaki

**********

Domino sat on the roof, the sun rising behind her, picking off as many of what appeared to be the leaders as possible. She was running low on ammo and had to be careful.

"What in the h$ll does Hydra want here?" she asked herself as she slipped another shell into the chamber. Any merc in the world recognized Hydra.

-----

Remy stayed close to Jubilee as they fought. She had refused to go to the med lab after that brick had hit her. She'd even passed out for a few minutes. The large lump on her head didn't look good, and Remy had noticed that she was swaying on her feet. He worked his way closer to her. She may not like being coddled but he was damed if he was going to lose her in some stupid fight.

Lurker

**********

Inside the mansion a pair of Hydra agents stumbled onto two young dark-skinned girls. Thinking they had hostages they grabbed them.

"Let go of my sisters," Monet St.Croix stated slamming them away. Scenes like this were happening accross the school. The older students protected the younger.

-----

Logan watched the woman. Her clothes changed from blink to blink, from traditional dress for her tribe, to a combat uniform, to casual everyday clothes, to the uniform she currently wore. "Fox!!"

Jason Barnett

**********

Gambit blinked when Jubilee cut loose with a curse that would have made half the men in the Theives Guild blush, well if they spoke that particular obscure dialect of Cantonese. "Wha..?"

"Wolvie stopped fighting!" Jubilee shouted. "HUSK! CHAMBER! GET LOGAN'S FLANKS! Hit 'em HARD, Gambit!"

The young Cajun let loose a few choice words of his own as he charged an entire deck of cards as he ran forward to block the men charging the frozen Wolverine. Jubilee ran at his side, ignoring the throbbing in her head.

Well, not ignoring it. She let a wild grin that rivaled Wolverine at his worst cross her face as she rechanneled the pain into her powers.

"Synch! Link up with Jubilee!" She heard Storm order over the thundering blood in her ears.

Several Hydra fighters stared blankly at the tiny teenaged girl as she flipped end over end *over* the man called Wolverine with a wild whoop. Even after seeing several of their compatriots get thrown back by her brightly colored blasts of lights they were still surprised by the raw power of the explosion that tore up the ground in front of them.

Logan shook his head sharply when he lost sight of Silver Fox.

"Jubilee?" he asked hesitantly. What the blazes was one of Xavier's kids doing in the Canadian wilderness? But this wasn't Canada, it was Westchester... What the f*@$ing [email protected] was wrong with him?

"Snap out of it, Wolvie!" Jubilee snapped as she blasted her fireworks into the face of one of the few Hydra that had been thrown forward rather than back.

A blast of psionic fire rolled forth, forcing even more to retreat. Logan risked a glance in the direction of the blast's source to find a young man in black standing protectively over a blonde girl who looked like her skin was ripping itself off.

His head snapped around again at the sound of choppers. Flashing away to another fight again, Logan was suddenly standing knee deep in the mud and blood of Nam with an air strike coming in. He blinked again, back in Westchester, when someone screamed.

Marie.

Logan roared and charged between *his* Marie and the man who had shot her.

Mac

**********

The Professor had scrambled under the bed at the first explosion. It was the only thing in the room big enough to hide under. It had to give him some protection from the attack.

'How dare they trap me in this room? Don't they know who I am?' he thought with indignation. Then he realized, 'No, of course they don't know who I am, but still, they have no right to keep me prisoner here against my will.'

Oh, the lawsuits he could file. If he didn't have to protect his identity so fiercely, he would make them pay.

It's not like he was doing anything wrong. He hadn't done anything to these people. They'd come into *his* laboratory, destroyed *his* research, stolen *his* weapon. The perfect weapon. That's what Logan had been; what he'd finally turned him into, if just for a short while. He'd had a complete set of memories created especially for him. A custom-made personality, perfectly complementing both his human and animal sides. He was finally in a position where he could reach his true potential.

He'd lived a joke of a life before, denying who he truly was, the animal side that made him unique. He'd been miserable. The Professor was set to put an end to that suffering, but Logan had escaped before the mental conditioning was complete. The second time they'd caught him, nothing went wrong. They'd given him a new life, people he could care for and fight alongside. Then that ignorant telepath with his meddling students had interfered and ruined all of his hard work. He'd lost his weapon again. It wasn't fair.

A whistling, loud and getting louder, interrupted his thoughts and the world flashed and exploded around him. The ceiling collapsed, crushing everything in the room, including the bed.

The springs digging into his back and squeezing his chest, he tried to cry out for help. He couldn't get enough air. Every breath he took was shallower than the last as every exhalation allowed the bedframe and mattress to settle on his body more completely. He tried banging his fists against the floor, but there wasn't enough room in the cramped space.

'It's not fair. It's just not fair,' he thought as the shallow breathing slowed and then stopped.

Khaki

**********

"You imbeciles!" Silver Fox screeched into their headphones and into the night air.

It was then that a stray paff went towards Silver Fox. She got out of the way, of course, but it was then that she realized that if she took out, or took the two leaders, she could either win or possibly hold them ransom for her three 'friends'. She took a look and saw a girl firing bright lights, like fireworks, and the devil himself, with glowing cards. The girl was most definitely in charge of one of the groups, and the boy with the devil eyes certainly looked like the second-in-command.

She grabbed her second-in-command, and sneered into his face, "See those children? I want you to grab them, and I wanted it done two minutes ago!"

"..R..Right." The second-in-command stammered.

"Oh, use the stun gas!" Silver Fox barked.

"Yes, ma'am!" The second-in-command saluted.

He quickly got together a couple of the troops. They would distract the enemy while he sprayed them in the face. A evil grin worked across his face.

"Quick, execute plan beta-234. And I want it done to those two children."

"B..but, sir, whenver we get near them, the Asian chick goes and blasts us away." a brave (stupid) man spoke up.

"Well then you better move quickly, and stay out of the way of her powers, or I'll have your head on a plate." The second-in-command said as he grabbed the 'stupid' man by his uniform collar.

"Yes sir!" the man saluted.

And the plan was carried out.

They worked quickly and quietly. In the midst of the chaos there were two great people, Gambit and Jubilee, who had no idea that they were about to be kidnapped.

BLINK

"Blink, what are you doing?" Jubilee yelled at her.

"I'm s..sorry, but Mr. Creed said I would be safer here with you, seeing how well you're doing." Blink said.

"Easy, petite. Jubilee means no harm, she'd just got a loud mouth." Gambit said with his eyes twinkling.

That's when the stun gas hit them all, and they went unconcious with little surprised looks on each of their faces. The next surprise came when the Hydra warriors filled the area with some kind of gas that made it hard to see where anyone went. It was like that for 10 whole minutes, since Storm was unconscious for the whole time. When the gas was cleared, they could see that they had left. And everyone was all right, well almost everybody.

"Where's Clarice?" Creed asked.

Sparrow

**********

Jubilee's head came up slowly, and the deep throbbing pain behind her eyes was even worse than when she'd been knocked out. "I'm really beginning to hate people who gas me," she grumbled as she forced her eyes to move around the small room where she was tied to a chair with her hands behind her back.

Gambit was still knocked cold and chained against the wall across from her. Clarice was sitting, untied in a chair to Jubilee's left, but she was just staring blankly at the wall in front of her.

"Blink," Jubilee called softly. "Blink? Come on, girlie. Answer me." She blew an annoyed breath through her teeth and turned her attention back to Gambit. "Hey, Gumbo? Gambit? Oh, Remy.... Hey, Cajun! Rogue's leaving Wolverine for you!"

"Huh?" Gambit managed groggily. "What you talkin' bout, p'tite?"

"Bout time, swampthing!" Jubilee snapped. "Oh, lookie! I've been kidnapped! AGAIN!"

Gambit gave her an almost charming grin. "Y'gonna make dis a habit, Jubes?"

"Shut up and pick the frigging locks," Jubilee ground out.

"Can't do dat, chere," Gambit said shaking his head slowly. "Them Hydra goons, dey done took all dis poor t'eif's toys." His red on black eyes slid over to Blink. "What dey do t'her?"

"Don't know," Jubilee muttered as she twisted at the ropes holding her hands behind her back. "But what d'ya wanna bet that Creed rips who ever did it a new hole ta breathe through?"

"Gambit don't never bet on a sure t'ing, p'tite."

Mac

**********

Jubilee grinned, and was about to make a smart aleck remark, when the splitting pain in her head began to throb even more and she bit on her lip to hold back a squeak. 'Cause she was Jubilee, and Jubilee didn't squeak.

Minkychan

**********

Domino was down to her last bullet. She loaded and did a complete scan of the battle in front of her. Somehow, even though much of the school was destroyed, the section of roof she was on was untouched. It was total chaos below. A group of half-trained children taking on Hydra elite troops were holding their own and then some to protect their home and each other.

"I'm going to have to make this bullet count." She said to herself. "Ooo, what do we have here?" Standing just outside the treeline was a woman with long black hair who looked to be giving orders. Domino sighted her in on the scope. "Yes," she breathed out taking aim. The woman wore the markings of a Hydra field commander.

She was only 400 yards away. As Domino squeezed the trigger, an explosion and a cloud of smoke appeared between her and her shot. Domino let out a colorful curse and headed towards the door leading downstairs so she could join the others on the battlefield. That was when she heard the helicopters.

"Now what?" She looked up to see who was heading their way now.

-----

Logan turned his claws on the man that held the gun. He quickly stepped over the pieces and picked up Marie. She had a bloody wound on her chest and was gasping for breath. Things shifted again,and he was in a bedroom,and she was gasping for breath. There was blood on her nightgown. He had hurt her. He needed help. He had promised her that he would protect her. He remembered the train station and telling her that he would.

"Help me! Someone help me!" he called out over the battlefield as he tried to stop the bleeding.

-----

"We've got to get her to the med lab," Jean said. She was kneeling next to Rogue trying to treat her. It had taken her a couple of minutes to get across the smoke filled expanse that was once the front lawn. Rogue had a collasped lung at the very least; there were very likely other injuries as well. They didn't have much time.

"No go," said John from behind her.

"Yeah," said Bobby. "We were down there protecting the younger students. The shelling brought the roof down. My ice shields could only hold it for a few minutes. We only made it out alive because Clarice teleported everyone just before they gave."

Bobby looked around for the girl through the thinning smoke but didn't see her. Sabretooth was nowhere in sight either, so Bobby just figured she was with him. That girl sure had a strange taste in friends.

-----

Fury sat in the first chopper. He was more than ready to kick Hydra butt.

"Sir, I still can't reach anyone at the school. All communication lines are down." Said the co-pilot, working the radio equipment.

"Keep trying," Fury responded while he flew the chopper in. The school had just come into sight, and it was a war zone. Half the building was gone. Fury made a pass overhead to try to find a place to land. He thought he found a spot to set his troops down when a thick smoke covered the battle below. He couldn't see the ground to land. He flew another pass, and spotted the Hydra transports starting to take off in retreat. He wasn't going to let them go that easily.

"Attack those transports, I want them out of my sky!"

-----

Silver Fox looked out at the sunset. They almost hadn't made it back. After the that botched battle at that school, Fury's people had attacked their retreating transports. She had lost over half of the remaining soldiers under her, but she had managed to make it to safety with her hostages.

She put her cup to her mouth and winced at the pain in her shoulder. That sniper had been good. She had been careful to keep her distance when she had seen her other subordinates being picked off. She would make them pay for this insult as well when she got her hands on the three of them. Three children for the three men she wanted dead. A cruel smile made its way across her face. Logan, Creed and North would surrender themselves or the children would suffer the painful deaths she had in mind for them. She would be sure to send them each a personal video of it, too. She took another sip of her Vodka her mind going over the various forms of torture she would use.

Lurker

**********

"How bad is it, Jeanie?"

"Not as bad as it should be. We've never been able to judge exactly when the last of Rogue's absorbtion power ends. She's been more intuitive than normal for hours after she stopped being able to communicate telepathically when she absorbs a telepath. I think there may be a fraction of your healing factor left."

"Let's make it a whole number." He reached for her face.

-----

"Can you make do with a bobby pin?"

"Yeah, it not as easy as in de movies, but I can."

"Good." Jubilee reached up and pulled one out of her hair.

"You don' wear your hair up."

"Nope an' that's why. People'll expect pins if it's up, they don't if it's down."

Jason Barnett

**********

Logan poured his life into Marie, holding her cheeks and kissing her forehead.

~Come on, Marie. You can do it. Come back to me.~ He forced the thoughts through the connection before Jean telekinetically separated them, and he collapsed into seizures.

-----

Clarice was terrified. She hated not knowing where she was. If she couldn't get a feel for the area around her, she couldn't transport herself. It left her feeling isolated and alone. It was like it was back in Canada. They'd kept her blindfolded whenever they'd moved her, there. This time, she had just been unconscious. She was so disoriented, they hadn't even bothered to tie her up.

Someone was shaking her now. She could hear voices. "Clarice! Come on, girl. Snap out of it!"

"Jubilee?"

-----

Cyclops was in full 'Fearless Leader' mode. He was collecting the students and X-Men together, trying to get an accurate count. If anyone was injured or trapped in the mansion, they had to know as soon as possible. Going through his mental lists, he surveyed the group: Jean treating patients, check. Logan passed out on the ground, check. So far, it was the same as the aftermath of any other mission.

After going through his list, the regular students were all accounted for. That new purple elf was missing, though, and so were Gambit and Jubilee.

"Jean," Scott said, approaching his fiancee.

"Hmm?" Jean asked, occupied with wrapping one of the younger student's injured arm with a make-shift bandage.

"Gambit, Jubilee, and that new girl, Blink are missing. I don't think they're back in the mansion. Can you search for them? Are they injured?"

Jean closed her eyes and then snapped them open again. "I can't sense them anywhere," is what she tried to say, but the sound of the returning helicopters drowned her out.

'Those helicopters had appeared right before the attacking soldiers disappeared,' Cyclops thought. "Everyone get ready. They might be coming back."

Khaki

**********

A blue SUV rounded another bend on a winding road.

"Honey, it's a left up here," said the woman in the passenger seat.

"The place has money," said the man driving. He had been passing one mansion with large estate after another for the past five miles. He turned left where his wife had pointed and pulled onto Greymalken Lane. Xavier's School for Gifted Children was supposed to be just ahead about a mile or two according to the man at the gas station.

"Honey, I think one of these mansions is on fire. Look at all that smoke," said Mrs. Ferguson to her husband.

"Someone is taking care of it," Mr. Ferguson motioned with one hand to the helicopters headed in the direction. "Check the map again, I don't want to be late talking to this Professor Xavier. I want to know why Clarice isn't with those specialists that were supposed to help her in Canada."

Lurker

**********

Little did Hydra know, that Tyger Tiger and her daughter, Karma, had hitched a ride on their helicopter.

Sparrow

**********

Jubilee and Gambit looked up from the still slightly dazed Blink when the air vent over their heads fell open. Gambit stared at the slim girl, near Jubilee's age, as she slithered out of the air shaft.

"Karma!" Jubilee muttered with a grin. "Now that is what I call style!"

The other girl grinned back with a dark glint in her eyes. "Mother is going after the computer core. Who wants to help cause a distraction?"

-----

The Fergusons stared at the destruction in front of them as their SUV slowed to a stop. A man in some sort of military uniform jumped out of one of the helicopters only to have another man in black leather start yelling at him.

"Darling," Mrs. Ferguson said slowly, "are you sure you have the right address?"

Mac

**********

"I think it is."

-----

"How'd you get in here Karma?"

"Possessed a guard and made him let us on the helicopter before they took off. How are you?"

"Fine, except for Clarice. She's kind of out of it."

"Hmmm, I could possess her to get you all off here."

Jason Barnett

**********

"Well you could, but would it be like ethical?" Jubilee asked. This continuing kidnapping and gassing thing was just too much, she wanted to dish out some payback. Just beat up a few guards, was that asking too much?

Lurker

**********

That's when the pain in her head decided to announce itself again, and Gambit noticed a flash of pain go across her face.

"Petite, you all right?" Gambit asked.

Jubilee forced a smile, "Never better Gumbo!"

Sparrow

**********

Jubilee looked back at Karma, eager to get a little payback for her terrible headache and all that gassing/kidnapping stuff. "So what did you say about creating a distraction?"

"Mother is trying to get in to the computer core, but it's bound to be well-guarded. If we could draw away a few of the guards, she could gain access. We need to know where we are, so when we steal a helicopter, we know where to head."

"We can have a little fun beating up guards, and she can take down their network. Sounds like a good plan to me. So, what kind of distraction were you thinking of?"

As Jubilee asked this question, alarms began to blare throughout the complex. The security camera monitor, having finally returned from his lunch break to find his captives out of their bonds and moving around the cell, had sounded the alarm.

"Well, looks like something distracting is going on. Gambit, have you got that door picked yet?"

"Done, chere, but what about Blink?"

Blink joined them by the door. "Don't talk about me like I'm not here. I'll be fine once we get out of here." Silently she thought to herself, 'I wonder if Mr. Creed is worried about me. I hope he made it through that battle ok.'

-----

Rogue sat up from the lawn, clutching her head, next to a bandaged Logan. What had been the first light of dawn had transformed itself into a bright morning, well, as bright as you could get with the smoke still rising here and there from the mansion. 'He did it again! No, I did it. I've hurt him again.'

"Jeanie." Her raspy voice called the doctor to her side.

"How are you feeling, Rogue?"

"Like sh*t."

"Well, I see Logan's back in there for a while."

Rogue ignored the comment, more interested in finding out, "How is Logan? Will he be ok?"

"He'll be fine. We just have to give him time."

Rogue nodded and took in her surroundings. There were a few helicopters here and there spread out on the property. 'S.H.E.I.L.D. helicopters,' Logan's presence in her mind added. Standing next to one was Cyke and a truly pissed off colonel.

"Nick Fury!" Rogue shouted, getting up to join them. "What the h*ll are you doing here?"

Khaki

**********

Nick Fury turned around to see that white streaked mutant running towards him, and she looked a lot healthier than she was before.

"Oh, no! Logan's back in there." the one called Cyclops said as he smacked his hand against his forehead.

Nick raised a questioning eyebrow, "What do you mean, he's back in there? From what I can see, he's lying on the ground."

"It's not that," Cyclops said as if he were talking to a child, "When Rogue touches someone, she absorbs their energy, in the case of mutants, it's their gifts, and personalities as well. So to speak, Logan's personality is running around in Rogue again."

"Ah!" Nick said.

Sparrow

**********

Nick Fury watched as the teenaged girl stalked over to him. She was certainly moving like Logan. Wait a second, that Asian girl, Jubilee, had mentioned someone called Rogue. This was Logan's girlfriend?

"Why do I get the feeling I should have my old buddy up on charges?" Nick muttered to the air.

Cyclops gave him a strange look that went unnoticed behind his visor.

"FURY!" Rogue snarled loudly as she got right up in the man's face. Okay, with her height it was more like right in the middle of his chest. Hmmm, right about where I'd be, darlin', Logan observed inside her head. "Do ya got even the faintest idea how badly ya coulda f*#$ed up? Where d'ya get off chargin' in like we can't handle a couple a Hydra morons?"

The cigar threatened to fall out of Fury's mouth as he stared down at her.

-----

Jubilee growled under her breath. "Move it, Cajun!"

Gambit moved to the side quickly and pulled Blink with him. "Don' wan t'get caught in dat, ami."

Jubilee focused on the lock and pressed her hand flat against it. After a moment the entire door blew off it's hinges.

"On with the distracting," Karma said cheerfully as she did a quick mental sweep of the hallway. "So, any ideas?"

"We split up," Gambit said. "You and Jubilee, me and Blink."

Blink nodded. "Karma can keep a mental 'eye' on me, so I can open a portal between our teams if we need to get back together."

"That works," Jubilee said with a careful nod of her own. "Come on, Karma. Let's go kick some tail."

Mac

**********

"Look, Logan... Rogue, whoever you are. From the look of your... his body over there, you weren't 'handling' the Hydra that well. Besides, I came here to pay back Hyrdra for a 'gift' they sent S.H.I.E.L.D., helping you out is just a bonus."

"So, Hydra's been busy," Rogue said. "Anyone know why they decided to attack the school?"

"Nope, but they sent *us* a clear message," Dum Dum said, joining the group. "One of their new higher-ups has a thing against Hydra. This Silver Fox is not..."

"Silver Fox." Rogue clutched her head, collapsing to her knees. Logan's emotions flooded her and the memories flicked through her mind so fast she couldn't hold on to them. She tried using the techniques the professor had taught her to control new personalities, but the absorption was so fresh and the memories so strong, she couldn't stop it.

Silver Fox. He *had* seen her. She was alive!

-----

"Uhm, excuse me. I was wondering if you could tell me where I might find..." Mrs. Ferguson had walked up to the group of men around the closest helicopter. One man had strange visor-like eyeglasses and the other two men were in some kind of military uniforms that she didn't recognize. As she approached the group, she saw they were surrounding a young woman, kneeling and clutching her head. "Oh my, is she all right?"

The man with the visor put his arm around her shoulders and started leading her back to her car. "As you can see, we're dealing with something of an emergency here. You'll have to get directions from someone else."

"No," Mrs. Ferguson said, stopping. "You see, I'm looking for my daughter. My husband and I were told she was brought here, although I can't understand why. She was doing fine at that facility in Canada. They told us they would find a cure for her mutation in no time."

"Excuse me, Ma'am, but what was your daughter's name."

"Clarice. Purple. Beautiful little girl. You can't miss her."

Khaki

**********

"Hey, Karma. There's not enough bad guys coming!" Jubilee whined, while sitting on a huge pile of bad guys.

"Um, Jubes, tone the volume down. And besides, the ones you're sitting on is good enough to extract information from." Karma said.

"Sorry, I was having a pre-mutant day there for a second." Jubilee said while shaking her head, which caused another moan from her lips.

Sparrow

**********

Sabretooth stood in the trees watching everyone. He should just take off. He didn't want S.H.E.I.L.D.'s attention. He didn't understand why but his gut was telling him to stay clear or fight. The thing was his gut was telling him to make sure the pup was all right first.

He sniffed the air trying to catch her scent in all the confusion. You would think that being purple, he would have seen her by now. She was cute but would stand out in any crowd. He had thought that this school might be safe place for her. After last night's attack he was rethinking that. The way her scent had changed when she talked about her parents there was fear there and sadness. He couldn't send her back to them either. What he would do with her, he didn't know. He didn't even understand why he cared other than that there was a sense of goodness and peace when he was with her. It came from her, in her heart and he didn't want that destroyed. He'd find some way to keep her safe, but first he had to find her.

Lurker

**********

The alarms blaring around her alerted Silver Fox. "What is going on?" she demanded of her second in command.

"There's an alert in the detention area. The prisoners have escaped."

"Where are they now?"

"We've sealed the entire detention area. The guards there are keeping them busy enough. However, there's an unauthorized person in the computer core and we can't reach her."

"How did they escape?"

"They had help. Plus, they used their powers. Combined, they used them to..."

"I thought I ordered them to be bound and placed in separate cells."

"Yes, but we decided..."

"You decided?" Silver Fox yelled as she grabbed her assistant roughly by the collar. "You decide nothing. I am in command here. This incompetency will not be tolerated. I will deal with the invader in the computer core. Fill the detention area with tear gas and bind the prisoners and put them in separate cells, as far away from each other as possible."

-----

"Rogue?" Jean was by her side, pushing the hair away from her face to look in her eyes.

"I'm ok, Jeanie."

"What happened?"

"Memories. Logan's got so many, so much more than the last time. The ones about Silver Fox are weird, though. First, she's alive. Then, she's... she's dead and that Sabretooth... Creed... killed her..." the anger consumed her and bone claws shot from her hands. Luckily, nothing had been in their way. The pain seemed to bring Rogue's personality back to the surface. Looking down at her bleeding hands, "Ok... ow." The bone claws disappeared back into her hands and she watched as the wounds healed. "Miss Grey, what's happening?"

"Rogue, you were telling me about someone named Silver Fox."

"Yeah, Logan's memories are weird because she's alive and she's dead and both of those memories occurred at the same time. He just saw her during the battle and she was leading those troops, so she must be alive, but why was she here, and why was she attacking the school?"

Khaki

**********

Tyger looked over the computer carefully. She'd crashed a few intranet systems for rivals but nothing like this. The information Hydra must have at their command...

"Get away from that," a voice commanded.

Tyger grabbed her gun, spun, and fired. The bullet caught Silver Fox in the shoulder.

The wound slowly began to close, making Tyger Tiger stare in shock. It was like watching Logan at maybe a third of the speed. "Oh, crap a healing factor."

Jason Barnett

**********

Silver Fox glared at the woman who had just shot her as she clutched her shoulder. Of course that wasn't the point. The point was that was the second time in less than five hours that she'd been shot in the same freaking shoulder. "You are going to hurt for that."

"You know," the Asian beauty said with a grin on her face that not even Silver Fox's threats could dim, "people keep saying that to me, and not one of them has ever made it stick. Oh. Catch."

Silver Fox automaticly caught the thrown object only to find herself holding a gas canaster from her own troop's weapons locker. Wide startled eyes locked on the fumes that poured out before jumping up to the still grinning woman.

"I think its well past time that Hydra learned not to mess with Tyger Tiger," she said from behind the gas mask she had snatched as well. "Don't you agree, dear?"

The woman who ran Madripoor's darker side turned back to the computer while keeping an eye on Silver Fox. "Finess is over rated."

Silver Fox faded into oblivion just as the sound of bullets being fired into the mainframe cracked through the room.

Mac

**********

Tyger Tiger grabbed Silver Fox by the collar and dragged her along, back to the holding cells. She had to retrieve the children and get out of here, but her instincts were telling her to take Silver Fox along for the ride. She had some major explaining to do for her attack on the school. If any of those kids had been seriously injured back there, Tyger would kill her herself.

-----

"Chere!" Gambit said, pointing at the vents above his head, as he continued to battle with the two guards on either side of him. There was some kind white gas blowing from them into the room. "Let's rejoin Jubilee and Karma, non?"

"Ok," Blink said, climbing over the bodies of the now defeated guards to grab his hand.

*BLINK*

They reappeared in a room with an irritated Jubilee and Karma. All the guards in their vicinity were lying helpless on the floor.

"So you missed us so much, ya had to come back," a sarchastic Jubilee commented.

"Chere."

"Not now, Cajun," Jubilee muttered, rubbing her head. "I've got a headache."

"Non, chere. Look at the vents." The same white gas was drifting into this room.

"No!" Jubilee yelled jumping up, paffing at the vents, and yelling at her unseen captors. "No more! I am sick of being gassed! I am sick of being kidnapped! You hear me? I'm not putting up with this anymore!"

"Well then, I suggest you put this on and follow me," a masked Tyger Tiger interrupted, holding out gas masks to the group.

-----

It was easy to get out with all the guards in the detention area tear gassed. Their commanders hadn't bothered to issue gas masks, preferring to gas both prisoner and guard alike. They hadn't counted on Tyger Tiger's resourcefulness. Of course, she had somehow managed to find a gas mask for everyone but Silver Fox. With that healing factor, she didn't want to take any chances on Silver Fox's premature recovery from her earlier exposure in the computer core.

It took several hours, to find their way back, but they finally made it to the mansion well past midnight.

None of them had slept in over 40 hours, unless you count the drug-induced unconsciousness earlier that day, and they all showed the strain.

Khaki

**********

Jubilee walked into the house with the others, her head POUNDING.

OOH! Someone was SO gonna pay for this! Her getting most of her nail polish scratched off, her whole body completely exhausted, and most of all, this HORRIBLE HEADACHE.

It hurt so bad. OH GOD!

Jubilee clutched her head as the pounding and pain increased, and heard someone yell out "P'tit!!!!" and grab onto her so she didn't hit the ground as she promptly passed out.

Minkychan

**********

"Get her down to the infirmary now," Jean ordered and Gambit quickly complied. She ordered him to bed immediately after he did.

Wolverine helped Tyger Tiger drag Silver Fox down to the holding cell. Nick Fury followed along eager to get his hands on an important Hydra operative even if she was a woman. Karma started to follow her mother until she was told point blank to get some sleep.

Shadowcat, Iceman, Pyro, and Rogue headed down to the medlab only to be telekinetically thrown out by Doctor Grey.

Sabretooth grabbed Blink in a bearhug much to her parents shock. Professor Xavier asked them to accompany him to his office. Victor stood in the back of the room glaring but saying nothing.

-----

"What I want to know is why Clarice isn't in Canada right now. The doctors there said they'd almost found a cure."

Sabretooth growled.

"Mr. Ferguson," Charles began as though speaking to a small child, "mutation is no more something to be cured of than having brown eyes is. Those men were using Clarice as an emergency door out of a top secret milatary installation. Considering what they have done to other members of the project, once she had become mature enough to fully control her power and fight, they would have stripped of her of her memories and set her up as the teleporter for a group of covert operatives."

Jason Barnett

**********

"I can not believe that. Genetic abnormalities are treated everyday, of course we are going to get the best care for Clarice. Dr. Hines is very respected in the field of genetics. We had his credentials checked," Mrs. Ferguson responded.

"If anyone was trying to harm and use Clarice it's you people. I have yet to hear why your school for freaks and monsters," Mr. Ferguson looked back at Sabretooth, "was attacked by military forces or why our child was brought here with out our permission. I will not leave my daughter as a freak of nature!"

(Sabretooth saw a dark celler. He was cold and the footsteps on the floor above made him very afraid.)

"Daddy please," pleaded Clarice, "The doctors hurt me in Canada. I like it here..."

("Please, Papa, No! Please don't. Mama!" he was pleading only it was a young child's voice.)

"Do you want to be a monster that people stare at every time you leave the house?! This is for your own good. We are taking you home and contacting Dr. Hines." Mr. Ferguson started to get up.

("This is for his own good. He's a... a monster! This is the only way," said Papa to Mama. Then there was the pain.)

There was a roar accompanied by a blur of movement behind Mr Ferguson. Sabretooth scooped up Clarice and then turning to protect her from the impact smashed out the window behind Prof. Xavier's chair and headed into the woods surrounding the school.

-----

~Sabretooth, keep her safe while I talk some sense into her parents~

Sabretooth paused when he heard Xavier in his mind. He had been running through the woods expecting to be chased by the X-Men. He looked down at the girl in his arms. She was sobbing. The front of his shirt was soaked. He didn't smell any blood so it wasn't because of the flying glass. What was he going to do now?

Lurker

**********

"Why does my daddy hate me?" Clarice wailed.

-----

"I'm afraid Professor Hines is deceased. He was crushed by debris during the attack on the school."

"Why was he even here?!"

"His people captured one of my teachers, and we were able to capture him to help find out how to undo the damage done."

"Who gives you that authority? I want my daughter cured."

"Shut the hell up ya damn bigot an' let me tell you what that place was really about. I been tryin' ta find out about it for a year."

"Colonel Fury, what are you doing here?"

"They threw me out down there."

Mr. Ferguson had stood up and offered his hand. "Colonel Fury I grew up on Howling Commando comics."

Nick just stared at his hand. "Shut up an' listen."

Jason Barnett

**********

Seeing that her husband was letting hero-worship get in the way of the best interests of her child, Mrs. Ferguson retorted, "Yes, a hulking behemoth grabbing my daughter and jumping through a window really makes me want to listen to you and trust her in your care."

"You'll listen, and you'll thank everyone here for saving her life, when you hear what I have to say," Nick Fury said in a low voice, pointing at Mrs, Ferguson. "That 'hulking behemoth' you just saw was one of the operatives that Professor Hines created. He kidnaps mutants, erases their memories and turns them into walking weapons. He's taken mutants and experimented on them, not to get rid of their powers, but to increase them. Ask your daughter. I'll bet he was already teaching her to transport more people at greater distances."

-----

"Hey, Logan."

"Hey, Marie."

Rogue pulled a chair up next to Logan's and they both watched the sleeping figure on the bed in the make-shift cell.

"So, that's Silver Fox," Rogue started.

"Yep."

"Why do you suppose she attacked us?"

"That's the first thing I'm gonna ask once she wakes up, followed closely by, 'What actually happened at the cabin?'"

Khaki

**********

Silver Fox opened her eyes slowly, then blinked. Overhead the roof was nothing more than a heavy water proofed tarp and there was a faint breeze.

"About time ya woke up, sugah," Rogue growled. "Logan wants t'talk to ya, but I'd rather just rip yer head off. Snatching Jubes, Gambit, and the new kid wasn't the brightest thing in the world."

"Who the [email protected] are you?" Silver Fox rasped out.

"They call me Rogue," the girl with the white streaked hair said as she leaned over the older woman slightly. "Logan will be back down in a few minutes. Probably with Jeanie and Chuck."

Mac

**********

"After everything you've said, I believe that our girl wasn't safe with Professor Hines, but this," Mrs. Ferguson said, sweeping her hand around the damaged and scarred room, "isn't safe either. We can't leave our girl in the middle of a war zone. We'll take her home with us."

"And do what?" Colonel Fury demanded. "Hide her in the basement? Keep her covered up like a Muslim? Keep her away from the world for the rest of her life? That's no life. At least here, she'd be with other kids her own age. Here, she'd be in the majority with other mutants who understand what she's going through."

"And if someone else decides to attack the school? If someone decides that my daughter is a threat? If she's dead, she won't have a meaningful life anyway."

"If I may interrupt here," Professor Xavier began. "Mrs. Ferguson, none of our students were killed or seriously harmed in the attack that just occurred. We have means to protect them here. Your daughter would not be so protected alone with you. How do you propose to keep her safe if someone finds out that your daughter is a mutant and takes it upon themselves to hurt her. I will have Clarice brought back to this discussion. It is her life. I suggest we allow her to decide where she wants to stay."

~Sabretooth, it is all right. Bring Clarice back, please.~

-----

Logan could only find Jeanie, and was leading her back to the makeshift cell when he heard the shouting.

"Logan cannot talk to me if I am gone."

"Get down from there! I'm warning you."

He entered to see that Silver Fox had climbed the cell wall and was pulling on the heavy plastic tarp. Rogue was unlocking the door, to get in a try to stop her.

"Jeanie, stop her!"

Silver Fox froze as she was about to reach freedom, unable to move any of her muscles. She felt a familiar hand grab her ankles, pulling her from the wall.

Logan pulled her down to the ground, pinning her arms and legs under his weight. "Silver Fox, darlin'. Why are you acting this way? Why'd you attack us."

Her face twisted with hate as she looked into those hazel eyes, and she spit on him.

Khaki

**********

Logan wiped the spit away with one hand as he held Silver Fox pinned with the other. Rogue standing behind him and off to one side just growled low in her throat.

"Now that wasn't nice, Fox," Logan said quietly. "All I want is to find out what happened to you."

"Let me go, Logan," Silver Fox snarled, "so I can kill you all."

"That ain't helping," Logan informed her. "Marie, darlin', go get a couple of pairs of cuffs off one of Fury's men."

"But..."

"Go on, I'm not about to let her loose."

Rogue settled on one more dark glare at the woman pinned under *her* Logan before doing as he asked.

Mac

**********

While Logan waited for the cuffs, he asked Jean to start the mind probe. It was kind of an awkward position they were in, but Silver Fox's struggling wouldn't allow for a more civilized procedure.

"Logan, I'm getting a lot of rage from her. It's focused mostly on you, Sabretooth, and Maverick. She blames you for something. Something that happened to her. The rage is too strong to get any further details."

"But I have all my memories back, Jeanie. I don't remember doing anything to her. I just remember trying to save her."

"Liar!" Silver Fox shouted. "You know full well what happened. You were there."

-----

Sabretooth grudgingly brought Clarice back to the mansion. He stayed close, holding her hand, ready to bolt at any sign of danger.

"Clarice, your mother and I have a very important question for you. Would you like to come home with us until we can find you another doctor that will find a cure so you can be a normal girl, or would you like to stay here with these mutants, remain disfigured, and risk being hurt or kidnapped and killed in a battle like you saw today?"

"Mommy, Daddy, I know you don't understand, but the doctors were bad people. They hurt me. I want to stay here with kids like me."

"Fine," Mr. Ferguson said in a clipped, emotionless voice, grabbing his wife's hand and heading for the door. "We have no daughter."

"Harold, no," Mrs. Ferguson protested. "Please she's young. She doesn't know what she's saying."

"No. She's rejected us. If she wants to live like a freak, we'll let her. We just don't have to be around to witness it."

"Please, she's our daughter."

"No, Ellen. I won't hear any more of it. Come now."

Mrs. Ferguson, turned to her daughter. With tears running down her cheeks, she mouthed the words, 'I love you,' and followed her husband out the door.

-----

Groaning, Jubilee put her hand to her head and felt the goose egg sized bump on her forehead.

"Chere? Hank, she's waking up."

Opening her eyes, she saw Remy and that new, extremely blue, doctor. He was fresh out of medical school, but at eighteen, he was Jubilee and Remy's age.

"Remy?"

"Follow my finger," the big cookie monster demanded, watching her eyes track his finger as he moved it up and down, back and forth.

"Good. What day is it?"

"Wednesday."

"Ok, who's President of the United States."

"Hilary Clinton."

"Excellent. There does not appear to be any permanent brain damage. I think we can rule out cerebral hemmorage or subdural hematoma. It's just a mild concussion compounded by sleep depravation and stress. Stay away from exploding buildings, battles, and kidnap situations for a few days and you should be fine."

Khaki

**********

Clarice ran from the room crying and Sabretooth stepped out after her, but instead of following her, he went after her parents.

Charles watched the scene sullenly, not attempting to use his telepathy after the taxing it had taken recently.

"Xavier."

"Yes, Colonel Fury?"

"I want to talk to you about setting up some sort of permanent arrangement between our organizations."

-----

Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson had reached their car and Clarice's father was getting in when the door suddenly slammed on his arm.

"You ain't got a daughter, huh? I think it's more like she ain't got a father," Victor stated wrapping his hand around the man's throat.

"Oh, please no!" his wife cried out.

"Shut up, lady. I'm doin' ya a favor since ya seem ta be too stupid ta divorce this guy."

Jason Barnett

**********

Clarice ran from Professor Xavier's office, her tears nearly blinding her. She tripped over some debris and looked around at the ruined room around her. Her father was right. She wasn't safe here, but she wasn't safe anywhere. She felt like her heart was ripped from her chest. She had to make it right with them before they left. She had to make them understand that at least here she stood a chance. Clarice closed her eyes and 'blinked'.

-----

She was standing in a cabin, a fresh baked cake on the table. She was waiting for someone special. It was his birthday.

There was someone at the door. She let him in. It was Victor Creed. He was a friend.

"Nothing too personal, frail," he leered at her," but I'm gonna make that runt of yours pay, and I'm starting with you sweet thing."

Pain! There was so much pain! She opened her mouth to scream.

"Jean, snap out of it," Logan yelled at her. He was still struggling to hold onto Silver Fox, but she seemed to have just gotten stronger. He reached out with one hand to Jean. She had finally managed to get inside Fox's head. Whatever she was seeing in there had to be intense. He had to snap her out of it.

Logan's hand moving was all that she needed. Silver Fox shifted and brought her knee up. Logan was stretched out to Jean, and she managed to wiggle out from under him. Logan grabbed her leg. Fox swung around with the other one and kicked him in the side of the head. The old memories surfacing were giving her a desperate strength. It managed to stun him. Jean shook her head and tried to telekinetically grab Fox. Fox moved faster. Two quick blows later Jean slumped unconscious on the floor.

She was on the verge of panicking. She had to get away. She scrambled up to the tarp and forced her way through to the outside. She headed towards the trees.

Logan paused to check on Jean and took off after her.

-----

Clarice was stunned by the scene in front of her. Her mother was crying and Mr. Creed had her father on the hood of the SUV, his fist pulled back to strike again.

"Mr. Creed, NO!" She screamed. She was beside him in a moment, her hands coming up to try to hold his arm back.

Sabretooth looked down at the light tug on his arm and the red haze lifted some. "He had no reason to hurt ya like that," he growled.

"No, he didn't," Clarice agreed, "but that doesn't mean that you can just kill him. They do love me. They just don't know what to do with me. They never really have."

"Mom, Daddy, I know that you always wanted the perfect life. Then I came along and nothing would ever be normal, let alone perfect, again. I'm sorry that you can't have your dream, but I am what I am. There is no changing that. No doctor will ever be able to cure me. I have to accept that and so do you. I love you both and always will, but I will never be normal."

Mr. Ferguson looked at his daughter and then at the man holding him. "You want to be like him?! A Monster?! There are doctors..."

Sabretooth's growl cut him off.

Clarice shook her head the tears running freely down her cheeks. She backed up and ran as fast as her legs would take her.

Sabretooth watched her go then turned to look at the mangled man in his grasp. Much as he would like to make the man feel the pain that Clarice was feeling, she needed him more. He dropped Mr. Ferguson to the ground and followed her.

-----

Silver Fox was running trying to get as much distance between her and the school as possible. Figures appeared out of the underbrush. "Commander Fox. We were sent by the Supreme Hydra to bring you back." She wasn't given a choice. The guns leveled in her direction ensured her compliance.

-----

Logan figured that he couldn't be more than a few yards behind her. He was starting to pick up other scents in the area when he heard the engines. A small transport rose straight up into the air and headed away from the school. He had lost her again.

-----

When Sabretooth reached Clarice she was curled in a fetal position under a tree, her body shaking as she cried. He had almost missed her. He wasn't sure what to do so he sat down and pulled her into his lap.

He held onto her like a lifeline as the flashbacks of his own childhood came. The fear, pain, self loathing and loneliness washing over him in waves. There was no way that he would let this pup suffer what he had. Her parents wanted to send her to back to those butchers at the lab or to others just like them. All because they were ashamed and afraid of her, just like his parents. They had locked in him that cellar and beat him for the same reasons. His arms tightened around her and she burrowed closer.

He didn't know what kind of a life he could give her. He wasn't even sure why he cared, but anything would be better than the labs.

"Pup , I promise you that they won't send you to anymore doctors, that you won't be hurt by them anymore, but I need your help. I gotta get you out of here. You think you can manage another 'port?" he softly asked her when he thought that he could speak normally again.

Clarice raised her tear streaked face from Sabretooth's chest to look him in his eyes. To most people, human and mutant alike, his was a face that instilled fear in their hearts. Clarice saw beyond the sharp teeth and the dark eyes that screamed, 'Predator. Stay away.' She saw the man behind those eyes. She knew that she could trust him. Tonight after what had happened with her parents, he was the only one she felt she could. She relaxed and leaned her head into his big clawed hand as his thumb gently brushed away her tears.

"Yes," she replied.

"You remember where those S.H.I.E.L.D. choppers are parked?"

Clarice nodded. They weren't too far away.

"I want you to take me there."

-----

Sabretooth looked at the girl asleep in the seat next to him. She had passed out once they were in the air. She looked peaceful in the moonlight. He wanted to keep that look of peace on her face forever.

When he felt that they were out of radar range, he had turned the helicopter north. Once they got up far enough he could ditch it in the wilderness. It could be there for decades and never be found. He doubted that anyone would think that he would take her to Alkali Lake. He seemed to remember an old cabin up there that he had stayed in. It would need work, but they could lay low there while he trained her to survive and figured out what to do next.

-----

"The task force would be designated as X-Factor. I already have the funding set up. This team would be Goverment sanctioned and in the public eye, showing that not all mutants are insane monsters out to hurt them, but ready to serve and protect just like anyone else." Nick Fury had been laying out his proposal to Professor Xavier. Xavier was the one who could refer him to the right people to fill the ranks of this team.

A knock on the door interrupted any answer Xavier would have given. "Nick sorry to interrupt, but we have a situation. Silver Fox escaped the holding cell. There was a report of an unidenitified transport leaving just south of our position. We have also had a chopper stolen, though that seemed to be unrelated. The thieves were a large blond man with claws aided by a purple elf. It's being tracked on radar now." Dum Dum said.

"Anything else go wrong today?" Fury asked.

"The preliminary report came in on the Hellicarrier." Dum Dum voice had softened sympathically. "It concerns Val."

"Professor Xavier," Nick started.

"I will leave the two of you to talk. I need to take care of matters here at the school. I will give your proposal a great deal of thought, and I thank you for your help today." With that Xavier wheeled out of the room. He had been wondering why Fury had been so consumed by cold rage, but the sudden wave of grief that filled the man at the mention of 'Val' explained everything. It wouldn't be the first time someone shut down their grief to do what was needed. It wasn't pretty when they finally gave in either.

Fury leaned against the desk and lit his cigar. He noticed that his hand was shaking. He'd done good and not thought too much about her or everyone else.

"What did they find out?" he asked, his attention on the cigar in his hand.

"The dive teams have been able to recover some of the bodies for burial. One of them was Valentina's, or so they thought."

Fury's head came up sharply. "What do you mean by that?"

"They did an autopsy. It was an android of some sort. It had an organic body, the DNA matches Val's, but the brain and nevous system were all mechanical. They've surmised that she was taken by Hydra, and her DNA used to create that thing."

Fury slammed his fist onto the desk. "So where is she, Dum Dum?!"

Lurker

 

The End