Grey Force HQ, Greater Manhattan:
Team Leader Matthews sat nursing his wounded shoulder. A ricochet had grazed him during the fracas earlier - or at least Matthews hoped it was a ricochet, he didn't like to think that the mutant had been able to shoot around corners. He felt a shiver of revulsion race up his spine at the thought, mutant abilities were so 'unnatural' and repulsive - and the fact that he now had to work with a team of them only made the foul taste in his mouth worse.

The Mutant Co-operation Team, or MCT had been formed by the GFI as a token force of law-keeping mutants, to allay the accusations that the GFI was completely anti-mutant. That it was indeed, entirely pro-human and anti-mutant was beside the point, to the general public, the GFI put on the face of being unbiased and had thus recruited the MCT to 'pad' the Grey ranks. The mutants who belonged to MCT were finding the job an onerous one. Humans still treated them with suspicion and refused to accept their authority, while civilian mutants on the whole saw them as traitors and point blank defied their orders.

Buck Wilmington had joined the MCT in a last ditch effort of somehow making a difference in the way humans and mutants interacted. A job that had cost him his best friend and now was rapidly stripping away his illusions of hope, had become the worst mistake of his life. Rumour in the Grey Force was that the MCT’s days were numbered and this may be their last mission. Mutants sent out with Greys to apprehend rogue mutants. But as the compulsory registration started, the number of mutants resisting the order would increase and the GFI would not expect the MCT to willingly participate in 'controlling' the mutant populace. Buck didn’t even want to contemplate what they had planned for the MCT mutants, since he doubted they would just let them walk away from the situation.

Sub-Director Fitzpatrick was heading this briefing, and the room was full of team-leaders and sub-commanders. Buck had been assigned to Matthews’s team and judging by the man's expression he was not pleased. Fitzpatrick drew their attention back to the screen behind him. "These are the 'individuals' in question."

A picture of a fresh-faced kid was shown, his open smile hardly reminiscent of a hardened criminal. "This is John Dunne, son of GR Dunne the Director of GEC Limited. His mutant abilities have only recently manifested themselves according to his father but have escalated exponentially over the last couple of months." Fitzpatrick paused and seemed to deliberate on divulging something, "His ability is... unusual to say the least. He has the ability to speak to machines - he can get almost all machinery to follow his orders. It appears that he needs to make physical contact with a machine before he can influence it, but our experts hypothesise that as he grows in strength, his ability may expand to circumvent that limitation."

They got an awful lot of information on the kid, if he’s just a recent target. Buck mused as he noted down the kid’s particulars.

"Dunne is not to be killed unless extremely unavoidable, he is too valuable to lose."

Meaning you guys are a little nervous of both his father and his gift. Buck looked up as Fitzpatrick changed the picture, the new profile changing the lighting in the room. "This mutant was unidentified on the scene and it is not known how he became involved in the situation. Special Branch have identified him as Vin Rowlee aka Vin Tanner."

Buck's eyebrow rose at the mention of Special Branch. Whoever this Vin was, he had some seriously scary people after him. "Age unknown, height roughly 5.9 and no previous address listed. Family and friends are non-existent and he is considered armed and dangerous. A level 5 warning is attached to his abilities."

Fitzpatrick was about to change the screen again when a hand rose from the seated security people. "Yes?"

Clearing his throat, a fairly young looking Grey Force Agent stood and asked, "Sir? What exactly is this mutant's ability?"

Fitzpatrick's steady glare had the young man twitching nervously as the Sub-Director allowed the silence to lengthen after the question. The agent was about to sit down and try to hide his growing embarrassment when Fitzpatrick said, "This is need to know information. And since you people are going to be hunting him down, I guess you need to know."

In no way relieved that Fitzpatrick seemed inclined to answer his question, the young agent managed to sit down before his flushed face grew even redder. "Vin Rowlee is a Wolverine."

Normally, Buck supposed, such an unexpected statement would have brought gasps and exclamations from a group. But not this time and not with this group. Instead a horrified silence fell over the men and women, many who paled at the news that they would be trying to apprehend a Wolverine. Fitzpatrick was not pleased at the response and evident fear now in the room and he snapped at the group loudly, "This changes nothing! Rowlee is just another mutant who needs to be collared and put in his place!"

Fitzpatrick seemed to have forgotten that there were mutants in his briefing and their stunned silence soon changed. "Wolverine or not - he needs to be stopped. We cannot have law abiding citizens threatened by the likes of these ... things... these mutants! He is not unstoppable - no mutant is! And they are only burying themselves faster when they actively oppose us. They have no respect for what is decent and humane - they cannot understand that their place in this world is under our control - under Control!" Fitzpatrick was getting himself quite worked up, his tirade long since past the current situation and current political party line. The mutants on the MCT were looking at Buck, their despair heart-rending. Most of them had started looking to Buck for leadership when he had joined the MCT. Being Chris Larabee’s partner had been the best years of his life and it was also why he had become the unofficial head of the MCT. While few of the mutants had worked with either him or Chris, the old stories were still whispered around law-enforcement circles.

When Chris had walked away from a police-force that had become far too political for his taste, many other mutant police officers had as well. The remaining officers had joined the MCT, desperate to make a difference and it was obviously too late.

"When even a homeless, decrepit mutant attacks Grey Force operatives - a mutant like this -" and Fitzpatrick changed the picture from Vin's face and profile to the last mutant involved in the gas station fire-fight, "Then the situation is disastrous! If mutants won't accept the regulations we insist they adhere to for the safety of humans, then they will be controlled - and this disregard for law and order terminated!"

As most of the Grey Force agents leapt to their feet cheering at their bosses fiery words, the MCT members got up and left the briefing, three of them tossing their badges in as they went by the guards. Buck remained seated momentarily, his gaze fixed on the face before him. And when he could no longer see the profile, blond hair and scruffy beard through the bodies of Greys, he stood and slowly removed his badge. As the rest of the room settled, everyone watched as he placed his badge on his seat and walked out of the room, sparing only a cursory glance at Fitzpatrick. While the thought that maybe it wouldn’t be so easy leaving the building, as it had been to leave the briefing, was uppermost in Buck’s mind, his real concern was centred on the third mutant fugitive.

What the hell have you gotten yourself into this time Chris?


His chest was heaving, breath tearing the inside of his lungs, each one a painful burning sensation. Limbs trembling with exhaustion, his eyes swimming with sweat, JD pushed himself onwards. Vin had set a blistering pace initially, and from the start JD had struggled to keep up. The strange blond, who had finally identified himself as Chris Larabee, had started to stumble after the first hour but maintained a staggering pace to match Vin's easy, unlaboured strides.

Any thought of asking for a brief rest had died with the sound of hover-cars and copters zooming over the forest canopy. JD knew they were trying to spot them from above but the dense foliage was hiding the fugitives effectively. Pursuit on the ground would take longer to reach them, the Greys would find the terrain just as rough as the mutants. But they had 'found' them far too quickly. Copters were buzzing their position constantly, and Vin was forced to make detours in their flight to avoid open ground. He didn't want to risk exposing them to gunfire from above.

Pausing briefly beneath a tall pine tree, Vin sat on his haunches and studied the area ahead of them. JD sank to his knees, gasping for breath, trying to pull more oxygen into his starving lungs. Yet another copter roared overhead, casting a solid shadow over the broken shadows on the forest floor. Chris remained standing, although he was bent over, hands resting on his knees as he too took the opportunity to get his breath.

Running through his limited knowledge of the area, Vin sighed as he realised they were being forced too far east and needed to head more west if they were going to reach his goal before night fall. But the area directly west was exposed from above, having been cleared of trees during a forest fire a few years back. The copter above circled, it's shadow hovering over their general area. He couldn't hear any sounds of pursuit on the ground yet, but with the noisy air-cover above, any advanced warning he might have gleaned from the sounds of the forest were seriously diminished.

Glancing at his companions, who were both struggling to keep up, JD even more so, Vin reluctantly decided to stand his ground for a while. "We got two options. One, take a chance and make a run for the forest over there," and Chris and JD looked in the direction he was pointing and saw the forest edge disappear into a 500 metre open space before the trees reclaimed the ground. "Or we wait here and take out a few of the copters."

JD gasped, "Won't that ... just bring 'em... closer to us."

Vin nodded, "They know where we are any way." The copter was joined by another one, their twin blades humming loudly above the trio.

"Why not just head that way?" Chris growled, pointing north-east where the forest stretched unbroken, offering more than enough cover for them.

"Cos' it's the wrong way."

Grunting in reply, Chris sank to his haunches and fingered his dirty hair. "Have either of you got something to drink?" JD shook his head and looked at Vin hopefully, his own mouth and throat very dry. "Nope - but there is a stream on the other side of that clearing. Just have to get there."

"So what are we waiting for? Lets go." Chris stood up, prepared to push on. Vin also stood, not saying out loud that the only reason they were waiting, was to let Chris and JD catch their breath. JD struggled to his feet, plainly not ready to go on, but prepared to push it if it meant getting to water.

"You up to some tossing?" Vin asked Chris as they walked to the edge of the tree-line.

"Nope. But get me angry enough and I'll toss your skinny ass off this mountain."

Chris wasn't prepared for the iron fist that thudded into his shoulder, nor for the second one that clipped his jaw. He only realised he was on the forest floor when he saw Vin offer him a hand up.

"Will you stop doing that!"

Vin just grinned and said, "Angry enough?"

"Hell Yes!"

"Well aim it at that bunch."

Chris clambered up and pushed past Vin, giving the shorter man a rough shove out of his way, his temper smouldering at having his buttons pushed yet again. And it didn't help his temper that Vin barely moved at his shove, the guy grinning at him again as if tempting Chris to finish what they started at the truck.

Chris Larabee might be a drunk - in fact he was more than vocal about that fact and despite his own reasons for sinking into a state of alcohol induced stupor every chance he got, he was no fool. While he could happily blame his current situation on Vin and JD - which he did - the small part that remained of the man he had once been, knew that he could have walked away from this path long ago and that the fire-fight at the gas station was only the latest step down his stairwell into hell. And this confrontation he was about start was just another battle in his on-going war with Grey Force and the GFI. And man alive, was he looking forward to it.

Collecting his anger and using it to fuel his power, Chris stepped out of the trees and grabbed one of the circling copters. And luckily that was all it took. Chris had just wanted to hold the copter still for a moment, before tossing it but in the split second that Chris' force took hold and the roter blades stopped, the machine fell out of the sky. On one of his good days, Chris might have been able to hold the copter aloft for a few moments, or even gently ease it to the ground, but not today. The armed copter plummeted to the earth and crashed into the treetops to his left.

JD emerged from the trees and gaped in amazement as the second copter, turned tail and sped away. "Wow - that was awesome." A little disappointed at how quickly it was over, Chris considered reaching for the escaping copter. Vin strode past the pair who were still looking up at the treeline. "You musta slowed it down a little as it crashed, it ain't gonna blow. We best head out before the other one comes back with reinforcements."

And with that, the trio quickly crossed the open ground and disappeared into the forest beyond.

Wednesday night:

Night had fallen over the forest and the search for the fugitive trio was still on. Copters and hovercars with massive search-lights prowled the sky, sending bright beams of light into the forest below. At various points across the forest, snakes of light would be seen trailing across the forest floor as search parties cut into the area.

A couple miles away, to the west, in an area considered to be too far away for them to have reached in a day, the three fugitives rested in a small cave. The rocky outcropping was at the foot of the tall hills and mountains that rose along the north-west plane of the county. JD was stretched out inside the cave, fast asleep after a gruelling day. Chris was sitting at the mouth of the cave, which was a little too small for all three of them. But since Vin had disappeared an hour ago to check their trail ahead, Chris was using the space to stretch out as well.

Dinner had consisted of two energy bars that Vin had produced from somewhere and at JD's startled question as to what Vin was going to eat, the tough mutant had let a sad sort of smile twist his lips before replying that he didn't need anything. And while both Chris and JD had thankfully taken the chance to rest, Vin had gone out again, apparently untaxed by the day’s hard running. In fact, it had only been his firm insistence for a faster pace that had brought them this far. Egging Chris on, letting him use his anger at Vin's jabs and comments to fuel his flagging body, Vin still had ended up half-carrying the kid before they reached this cave.

Chris watched the sky line in the distance, the spot-light from the copters arcing across the forest canopy in a frenzied pattern. The night air was cool, spring well and truly in bloom and he lent back and gazed at the stars above him, through the mouth of the cave. The milky-way dotted the heavens above, a bright stream of stars and planets, glittering in the night sky. Vaguely he heard Vin climbing up the rocky slope to the cave, his foot-steps unhurried and careful.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Vin sit down a couple of feet away from him and lean back against the cooling rock. The young man's face was calm and assured, none of the pressures of the day evident by the look he directed at the circling copters in the distance. The two mutants remained that way for a good while, just letting the peace of night time wash over them. Vin's soft drawl didn't even disturb the quiet, it seemed to mesh with the night noises and become one with them.

"Owe you an apology for popping ya so many times."

"Reckon you do."

Vin just smiled and said, "Ain't gonna give it to ya just yet - might have ta slug ya a few more times before this is over."

Chris snorted, "You mean you're gonna try. I don't aim on being caught by surprise again."

Mischief colouring his voice, Vin replied, "Fine. I'll do it when you're looking next time."

Chris tried to send a glare at his cocky companion but as his green eyes met Vin's blue ones, the glare faded into a smile. "Haven't met anyone willing to tangle with me in a good long while."

"Anytime, Bud."

Again Chris snorted, this time with laughter. It was true, it had been a long time since anyone cared enough to call him on his attitude. Not since Buck had left, and even then, Wilmington had been reluctant to go head to head with his best friend, trying to maintain a semblance of friendship. It hadn't lasted long - Buck eventually just backing down and letting Chris go his own way. And now he had a new thorn - one that would meet his glare, eyeball to eyeball.

Remembering a day full of taunts and even a few more jabs, Chris wondered why he had put up with it. Sure, Vin's jibes had kept him going, determined to show the smart-ass that he could keep up. But why did he even care what Vin thought, especially enough to push himself at a gruelling pace. The answer lay in the hard cold metal inside Vin's hands.

Now that he actually had a moment to think beyond the next step forward and had more than a simple desire to send Vin flying, Chris had to acknowledge his intense curiosity. How in the world had Vin, an obvious Wolverine, escaped from the GFI? Because as far as Chris knew, only one Wolverine had ever escaped Special Branch, and his trail of violence had quickly lead to his capture and execution.

Hoping if he waited long enough that Vin might feel inclined to speak, Chris waited a good half hour before his patience ran out. "You gonna explain those claws?"


Frowning Chris sat up and said, "You said I would know what they meant and I do. So ..."

"Any mutant older than JD knows that they mean. Wasn't an invitation." Vin hadn't moved, his face still fixed on the copters in the distance, his eyes trailing the movement of lights.

"Yeah - still don't explain how you happen to be walking free?" Chris snapped, feeling a sudden chill as a night breeze picked up. Vin didn't answer Chris, and apparently had no intention of doing so, as the minutes dragged by in silence.

"Look I trusted you - followed you up this damn mountain - the least you can do is be straight with me." Chris growled eventually, his impatience getting the better of him. "I damn well know about GFI’s experiments with mutants who had regenerative powers, trying to duplicate the experiment that created the original Wolverine – but hell – that don’t explain why you’re here and not in some lab!"

"This ain't about being straight Chris. I can't tell you."

"You mean 'won't!"

Vin shook his head and finally turned slightly to face Chris. "No I mean can't. Can't as in 'I can't remember.' Don't know how in the hell I escaped, most of what happened to me and I sure as hell don't know how I survived these." And he slowly extended the three claws from his right hand. Vin stared at the claws for a moment before looking at Chris. "I can't even remember my life before they took me."

Chris swallowed the thousands of questions he had and only asked one. "So what do you remember?"

Turning from Chris again and looking at the forest below, Vin whispered, "Pain." The young man looked at his claws again, the metal dull against the starlight. "I get flashes of what happened, mostly when I dream. Kinda pieced some parts together, but nothing that makes sense."

Retracting his claws and tipping his head slightly to see Chris' face, Vin continued, "All I know is I woke up in the middle of a forest - somewhere in Montana. And Special Branch have been after me ever since."

"How long?"

"Three years."

Although Vin spoke only two words, his gaze communicated far more than that to Chris. Three years of running, of looking over his shoulder, never being able to trust anyone. Three years of being hunted like an animal, never staying in one place long enough for someone to recognise him. Three very long, very lonely years.

"There is even a reward."

Chris grinned at that, and said, "You mean you got a bounty on your head?"

Vin returned the grin, "Nope - on all of me. Ain't wanted dead or alive - just Alive."

"How much?"

Stretching out his legs and giving Chris a conspiratorial wink, Vin replied, "For those in the know - 1 million."

Chris gave a low hiss at the amount and said, "No wonder that big guy was after you - I thought he was just some free-lancer working with the Greys."

A loud snore from JD interrupted them, as the younger man rolled onto his back, his mouth falling open as another snore emerged. Chris lent back and nudged JD who automatically obliged him by turning back onto his side. The snoring died down as the kid settled. "Where are we headed? Aren't too many places that we can hide someone as hot as him."

"I had planned on taking him to a refuge north of here but with all these Greys hot on our tails, I can't risk the refuge."

"What kind of refuge?" Chris asked, having only ever heard rumours of mutant refuges in isolated parts of the country.

Scratching an itch under his eye, Vin replied softly, "A second gen refuge." And at Chris' blank stare Vin elaborated, "Mutants who can't pass for human. You know - look way different from the average Joe Blogg. And they all tend to be the kids of mutants - second generation mutants."

"I was wondering what had happened to all of them. They used to bear the brunt of all the pro-human groups protests and after the riots they all seemed to disappear."

"Well - they decided to get out of Dodge before things got worse, bad as they were and they are scattered all over. Ain't sure how many refuges there are now."

Chris sighed and found himself wondering if perhaps leaving the city like Sarah had wanted would have made a difference. Probably not. Adam had been a second generation mutant, and had looked it too. His golden hair and skin were too metallic to disguise and when the school had refused to allow him to join the Kindergarten class… Well, Sarah had had to use all of her skills in persuasion to keep Chris from levelling the school. They had eventually found a school willing to take Adam, but in the end it was pointless. More and more humans joined the out-spoken pro-human groups and harassed mutant families, blockaded and ransacked mutant businesses and generally made it a living hell for any mutant in their neighbourhood. Chris had refused to back down and leave - determined that mutants had to stand up for their rights - even if anti-mutant groups claimed that mutants had no rights as they weren't human. The weeks and months of harassment and prejudice had escalated into the infamous riots of '76. Countrywide, pro-human groups clashed with mutants resulting in a state of emergency being announced to contain the situation. Mutants on police riot squads found themselves pitted against both mutant and human groups bent on battling each other. In some cities the riots had only lasted a few hours but in Greater Manhattan, the riots went on for 3 days during which 56 mutants were killed. Including Sarah and Adam. And unfortunately the human death toll was just as high. By the end of that horrific week, most mutants had gone into hiding, and it took 5 months of careful negotiation by the government and mutant-leaders to reach an understanding. And then the GFI had emerged. The new face of the government, supported by a human populace who were terrified that mutants would rise up again. And slowly, insidiously, GFI began the process of identifying, controlling and collaring all mutants with the recent legislation the latest step in the process.

"So what's the plan then?" Chris asked, turning his thoughts from the past. Vin shrugged and said, "Not too sure. Figure on getting us to a way-station and getting some help in loosing the GFI."


Vin stood and stretched out his arms, before answering Chris, "Checkpoints. Usually manned by a coupla mutants. Make sure any refugees are genuine."

"And then?"

Vin just shrugged, "Haven't a clue."

Chris growled under his breath, "Lotta help you are."


The small way-station looked to the unknowing eye like a shack in the woods. The fact that it was a shack in the woods meant nothing to the trickle of mutants who managed to find their way to it’s isolated area.

Nathan really didn’t want to be working the way-station this week. His wife, Rain was 8 months pregnant and could deliver unexpectedly – and he would be stuck out in the middle of nowhere, unable to get to her in a hurry. The refuge was still a good three day walk from the way-station and unless Nettie risked contacting him on the two-way radio, Nathan wouldn’t know if anything was wrong until it was too late.

Nathan sighed as he stirred the little fire, watching it’s orange flames grow as oxygen flowed over the coals. The news of the new registration law had reached the refuge a little later than most mutants, but it’s effect was no less serious. And now Nathan found himself torn between staying at the way-station and helping any fugitive mutants reach safety or returning to Rain. His old friend, Josiah had laughed softly at Nathan’s concerns, saying something about blue always running true. Nathan Jackson didn’t know if Josiah had been commenting on Nathan’s uniquely blue skin or his sense of responsibility – either way, Josiah had agreed to head back to the refuge on Friday. Hopefully the way-station would survive being unmanned for a couple of days.

A loud snore broke the silence of the night and Jackson smiled to himself as he heard Josiah roll onto his back. The tall mutant was anything but a quiet sleeper. Most people when they first saw either Josiah or Nathan, couldn’t help but stare. Nathan’s midnight blue skin was the first eye popper, his impressive height and build enough to make most humans very nervous. But Josiah got even more stares.

Josiah may have once looked like a regular human, but as he entered his adolescence, like most mutants his abilities manifested themselves. And Josiah was very unique. Soft golden fur covered every inch of the man, his hair a long, massive mane of red, gold and now grey hair. His face had distinctly feline features, his broad, flat nose almost merging with his upper lip that spilt just like a cat’s did. In fact there was no doubt about it, Josiah looked like a cat – or a lion in this case. His hands ended in claws, his teeth were sharp and certainly carnivorous and he even had a few whiskers growing out of his cheeks. Man and lion all rolled into one, immensely strong, ferociously brave and tender-hearted individual.

Nathan watched as Josiah rolled onto his side, pulling the blanket tightly around himself and judging by the movements of his eyes, Josiah was dreaming.


The room was small, and uniformly grey. Josiah heard a voice – the speaker was a young Grey Agent.

"He don't look so tough."

The comment was an idle one at best. Vin was so tightly restrained that the only muscles he could freely move, were the ones in his face. And he used those to his advantage. Grinning at the cocky grey agent, Vin dared him to try take and him on with just a cool look at the pacing guard. He was hanging spread-eagled above the floor, no manacles or chains visible. Powerful magnets kept a Vin in place, his feet hovering above the floor and his fists in the air. They had removed his shirt, leaving him in his jeans, but had taken his boots and socks. Caught between four opposing magnets, Vin wasn't able to move at all, the metal running throughout his skeleton keeping him firmly in place. His claws in both hands were extended, as even that metal obeyed the magnets call and sought to connect. It was like being on a rack, each limb being pulled in a different direction - which was the whole idea. Immobilised and in pain as his regenerative powers couldn't fight against a constant pain.

Taking no chances, Special Branch had set three guards to watch Vin, ensuring that he didn't escape them again. Two of the guards were Special Branch and simply sat on wooden chairs, guarding their prisoner. The third guard was a grey agent however, a token presence that Fitzpatrick had insisted on. The only order the three guards had, was not to come between Vin and the magnetic force, at their own peril.

Rick Green hated mutants with a passion. They terrified him, with their super-human powers and sickening superiority. It was why he had joined Grey Force and what made him a perfect agent. And for the first time in months, he finally had a mutant at his mercy - a really strong one at that. The last mutant in his custody had been a freak - two extra arms had grown out of his sides and Green had really enjoyed teaching that one a few manners. But mutants were getting harder and harder to arrest and Green was desperate to do some 'teaching' and here was his chance. The two Special Branch guys wouldn't stop him, they hated mutants even more then he did - and they had had no orders 'not' to touch him. In other words - an open invitation.

"Don't know what all the fuss was about. He's nothing but a over-grown pocket-knife."

Vin just continued to smile at Green, and when he caught Green's eye, winked suggestively at him. Infuriated by Vin's insolence, Green looked around for a weapon. There was nothing metallic in the room, he had had to even take off his badge to get inside the room. "What's the matter? Your head so far up your butt, you can't find it?" Vin drawled.

Snarling in anger, Green punched Vin in the face and instantly, pulled his hand back, whimpering in pain after connecting with an iron-hard jaw. Vin just smirked at the agent, who remembered leaving his police-baton outside the door. Retrieving the hard plastic weapon, Green shot a quick glance at his fellow guards. Neither of them seemed inclined to interfere, in fact they looked eager to see the show.

Now smiling, Green lashed out with the pointed end of his baton, striking Vin across his face. The sharp point ripped a long gash across Vin's left cheek, up over his nose and continued across his forehead. Before the wound could even begin to bleed, it started to close as Vin's regenerative powers kicked in. In five seconds flat the gash was gone, not even a drop of blood remaining.

"Wanna try that again?" Vin drawled, his eyes fixed not on Green but on the Special Branch guards, who had both scowled as the wound disappeared.

Green did want to try it again, and he struck out several times, aiming at Vin's chest and abdomen. The expected welts and redness from those blows didn't even show. The final blow, which managed to nick the skin below one of Vin's ribs caused a bright blossom of blood to form which soon faded as skin and blood-vessels knitted themselves together and stopped the damage.

"Damn!" Green swore and lifted his baton again, this time aiming for Vin's groin, determined to get a reaction out of the smug mutant. His raised baton was stopped as one of the other guards grabbed it. "Don't waste your time beating on him - he's only going to feel it for a few seconds."

"So! I hit him fast enough, he's gonna feel it for awhile." Green snapped trying to tug his weapon free from the guards hand. "Don't count on it. You want to see him hurt - wait for Director Su-Kim to arrive. He's bringing a special collar, made just for Wolverines."

The Special Branch agent let go of Green's baton and the grey agent immediately swung and struck Vin between the legs, frowning fiercely as Vin barely flinched. "Special collar huh? What's so special about it?"

The second guard replied this time, "Wait and see, Green. In the mean time, try this - might help." He handed Green a knife made of glass. "Stick it in him somewhere and he'll feel it alright."

Laughing at his companions suggestion, the first guard chuckled as Green eagerly took the knife, "Just don't put it somewhere fatal - he dies and you'll wish you were never born."

Green handled the small glass knife, testing it's point carefully. It was wickedly sharp, three notches on it's blade that made it's removal even more damaging as the edges would catch on muscle and skin as the blade was pulled free.

Dying to see fear in the mutant’s eyes, Green got as close as possible to him without interfering with the magnetic forces. "Where should I sheath this? Hmmm? An eye socket? Stomach?"

The two guards couldn't hear what Vin whispered to Green, they only saw Green's reaction. The irate agent stepped forward to press the glass blade in Vin's face and he moved just close enough to interfere with the magnetic force pulling on Vin's left arm. And since Vin hadn't stopped fighting the pull for a moment, the second he felt a little slack on the pull, he wrenched his arm free. But his movements were sluggish as he fought the continued magnetic forces in the room. While Green was too slow to move away in time, the two Special Branch guards were fast enough. One swung Green's baton like a baseball bat and knocked Vin's arm back into the magnet's full range and the other grabbed Green and pulled him out of the way.

"Idiot! Just sit there and behave if you can’t get this right!" one of the guards screamed, shoving Green towards the chairs. "You wanna see how it’s done? Watch this."

Both Special Branch agents turned towards Vin Tanner, their intention clear…


Nathan nearly jumped out of his skin when Josiah sat up suddenly, his eyes wide. Turning to look at Nathan, Josiah gasped, "Now that was strange!"

To be continued in The Seven Factor…

List of characters:

Name: Ability:
Chris Larabee Telekinetic energy
Vin Tanner
[aka Vin Rowlee]
Regeneration and ‘Wolverine’ abilities
Buck Wilmington Empathic Projection
JD Dunne ‘Speak’ to machines and computers
Ezra Standish Invisibility
Nathan Jackson Second-gen mutant
Josiah Sanchez Second-gen mutant

I would love feedback: rhicy@hotmail.com