Author notes: Had to remove the song lyrics since I don't feel like having FanFiction pull the story. So while I was at that I decided to go ahead and do a rewrite on the chapter. Added something like eight pages of new material and cleaned up the rest of it. If you find any mistakes please let me know. Also added the next part of chapter two, and I'll be getting around to fleshing out the rest of chapter as time permits. Next week should be posting the first new chapter to "Third Time Lucky" in quite some time. Anyway I hope you enjoy.

Bastille Kain

Author: Kain

Title: The Garden of Allah

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The characters of Buffy, Angel, and any other show that are unfortunate enough to be used here belong to other people. I'd list them all, but except for the fact they're not me I honestly don't know who any of them are.

Spoilers: Up to and including Series Finale of Highlander, the Series. Series Finale of BtVS. Season Four of Angel. Series Finale of Highlander, the Raven. Series Finale of Dark Angel. Highlander Movies: 1, 2 (The Renegade Version), 3, and 4. Marvel Movieverse. Spider-Girl Comics (amalgamation with the Spider-Man Movie).

Summary: It's the post pulse world of 2020, where the Pacific Northwest: portions of America (twenty miles north of Oakland, a hundred miles east Yosemite National Park, encompassing the whole of Alaska), Canada (splitting the Great Slave Lake nearly in half), and just skirting the eastern edge of Siberia. Stories abound after the destruction of Manticore prompting various individuals, seeking a variety of answers and clues to myriad questions to flood the Seattle area and still others to come in search of those they care about.

Pairings: Not really sure at this point.

Rating: PG-13

Feedback: Is always appreciated. Just try to keep it constructive.

Email: Kain6639yahoo com

Archive: If you like it that much, sure. Just be sure to let me know where it's going, and give me the credit, good or bad, for my work.

Musical Notes: "The Garden of Allah" is performed by Don Henley. "Alien Nation" is performed by Scorpions. Lyrics can be found at sing365 com

Chapter One: Alien Nation

The drone of the heavy traffic coming off the nearby freeway was an odd thing to find relaxing, but that was exactly what May Parker found it to be.

It was the constant hum of a refrigerator.

As long as you heard it, you knew everything was fine and once you didn't you knew there was a problem. The only thing was, sometimes you grow so accustomed to hearing that hum that it could be hours, maybe even all day, knowing there's something wrong, but unable to put your finger on what that something is before you realize the hum had disappeared. By then it's too late and everything inside fridge has gone to rot.

The freeway however happened to be more then a mile away and nobody else on campus could hear it. At least nobody else would cop to being able to hear it. The times being what they were she doesn't know what one person can or can't do.

Absently, as she flipped through the pages of the Star Inquirer, May wondered which, if any, category she falls into. Her powers had been with her since birth, but remained dormant until puberty had set in. The various chemical and hormonal changes had taken place in her body triggering their emergence. Technically speaking that would make her a mutant. Only, if her father had never been bitten by a genetically engineered spider she doubted if she would have been born at all, let alone have all the neat little perks she does have.

The speed, agility, strength – that nifty early warning system – her spider-sense. Being able to stick to walls, or anything else for that matter, her tactile telekinesis. Doing a standing long jump of twenty-five feet. And then there was the fact she possessed her own set of spinnerets. Fortunately, for her, they are in her forearms – like her father's – not her butt, like a spider's.

May didn't think she would be able to web swing like that. Mooning everyone everywhere she went. She would die from shame and embarrassment before she would ever be able to set foot outside without a mask on.

For a time she had followed in her father's footsteps; put on a mask, got herself a costume, and did the whole super hero vigilante thing, but she wanted more out of her life then the thrill of swinging through the concrete canyons of New York on a thin strand of filament, fighting super power baddies while wishing she had a life.

What May wants out of life she wasn't exactly sure, but she knew she wanted it. That's why she put up her costume and moved out to San Francisco to go to collage. It hadn't taken her long to make herself another costume, this one all black, and garner herself a reputation out here.

She couldn't help but risk her life to save total strangers.

One could literally say it flowed in her blood and not be wrong.

Flipping the page she spotted an article about the destruction of a research lab on the outskirts of Seattle. May frowned at that. It had to be close to the tenth story she's come across in the past month that had to do with the Pacific North West. Ever since the Pulse of Twenty-Twelve there were lots of stories about strange creatures and weird occurrences taking place within that region.

May remembered hearing about the pulse the day after it happened. She was in school and the teacher had informed the class that there had been a terrible accident. She hadn't gone into a lot of detail, probably because there weren't a lot of them to give, only that America had been attacked by a terrorist – nobody knew who – and that everyone of them were going to have to help pitch in with the rebuilding.

And the rebuilding went on. Northern California, Oregon, Washington, The Dakota's, a large chunk of Canada and Alaska as well, and a portion of Siberia. It was bad, but nowhere near as bad as it could have been if it had gone off over the middle of the Atlantic coast. Everything from Florida to Maine would have gone dark in an instant.

The worst part was no one had any idea of what had caused the pulse in the first place. It was clean, no fallout or radiation of any kind so they knew it hadn't been a nuclear device. The fact that another pulse device has never detonated kept every one on the edge of their seats in breathless anticipation.

Waiting for the next one to go off.

Since no debris had ever been found there rumors persisted, and grew stronger with each day that passed, that the pulse wasn't caused by a machine at all; but had actually been the result of an extremely powerful mutant. Unleashing their devastating power. At least that was how the alarmist and bigots and people for racial purity were reporting it.

The article she was reading was a variation on the others she's read before. The lab was a front; were genetically engineered creatures, some capable of passing for human, were being created. It had been those engineered freaks that had escaped, destroying the facility in the process, and were now free; roaming unhindered through the Seattle, Washington area.

Normally May just laughed articles like this off as hoaxes, crackpot stories, or wild fantasies made up to boost the paper's sales. She was getting a completely different vibe from this story.

It felt true.

With a soft sigh she tosses the paper onto the lounge's coffee table. If there is something going on in Seattle, something more then hysteria, then someone should check into it. See if there is any truth to the matter.

Right, who do I know that likes to prowl the roof tops at night in tight, form fitting, black spandex fighting crime and putting evil doers behind bars where they belong.

Leaning her small, lithe, extremely supple body back in the plush over stuffed chair she wonders who she knows that might be able to take care of that. Smiling to herself as she suddenly flips up and over, twisting in midair, she covers the half dozen feet from the chair to the door in a single bound to land facing the open doorway.

Buffy slipped the key into the lock of her Greenwich Village penthouse loft. It had been a tiring two days and she really couldn't wait to take a long soak in a steaming hot bubble bath. First though there were two young children that she were dieing to wrap in bone crushing hugs before tucking them into bed while listening to every exciting detail of the adventures they had while she had been out of town collecting the latest fugitives; a pair of bank robbers.

Not really the safest line of work for most people, when compared to her former occupation though, the people she dealt with now were pushovers in comparison. Normal humans just weren't that big of a danger to her, even the ones armed with guns.

Lately though more of the assignments thrown her way were dealing with mutants. Human, but born possessing super human powers. At first she thought they were a type of human/demon hybrid, but they weren't. They were completely human. They just had an extra marker in their genetic code or something like that. She didn't really understand it no matter how many times Willow, Dawn, Julian, Duncan, Donna, or anyone else explained it to her.

Pushing the door open she stepped into the two floor loft, her senses expanding to their ultimate extant as she tried to locate her two children; Christian and Bella Donna. Their mixed heritage; that of a slayer and a vampire, gave them powers beyond what either parent had and they were never shy about laying an ambush for her…

Or anyone else.

This often led to vague, incoherent explanations being delivered in a shrill, high pitch tone of voice to people who had no idea about demons, vampires, slayers or anything else supernatural and were more then willing to believe any plausible excuse that tumbled out of her mouth.

Like Dawn's boyfriend for the past ten years, Julian Ramsey. Nice guy, extremely attentive, doesn't ask awkward questions, just kind of takes things as he finds them, and not overly stuffy for a guy whose life revolves around translating extremely ancient manuscripts, tablets, and tomes. He was actually a master swordsman, possibly even better then that; an expert in hand to hand combat, but again it was more so. As if expert and master barely touch the surface. For protection he carries, not a gun, or baton, or knife, or a can of mace, but a sword.

Gazing intently into the large foyer/front room/dining hall from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, because with her children, there is no telling exactly where they are going to come from, only she doesn't see or feel anything out of place. Which was strange. Always there had been a slight whisper of a disturbance, like soft words carried on a gentle wind. They always alerted her of the imminent attack that was to be launch against her.

Maybe they don't know I'm here, the absurd thought floated through her head. It's possible, she reasoned to herself unconvincingly, if their caught up in something, they might not have noticed me.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she stood just inside the loft and waited for the burst of activity to explode throughout the room. And waited. And waited. The seconds ticked by stretching into minutes and still there was no flourish of her two children rushing to great her. There was no sound what-so-ever coming from within the loft.

"Bella Donna!" She shouted, a thunderous boom that makes the slamming door sound soft. "Christian!" She roared the second name with as much fervor as the first.

When she didn't receive an answer fear swelled in her chest. Consumed with worry she dropped her bag where she stood, took two steps and jumped. She touched down softly on the hard wood of the second floor landing a heart beat later without a sound.

Moving from room to room she quickly searches the upstairs, finding nothing. Grabbing hold of the cast iron railing she vaults over and drops back to the first floor. Moving through the loft with the speed and determination of woman possessed she searches everywhere, not once, twice, or even three times, but four.

"Damn it," she cursed softly coming out of Christian's room for the last time. "Where the hell are they," she mumbled right before adding in a menacing growl, "they're going to be so grounded once I get my hands on them."

She knew there were any number of good, reasonable, infinitely logical explanations as to why they weren't at home. The movies, visiting Dawn and Julian, out on dates, hanging out with their friends, even at the library. Though she doubted that last one, at least for Christian, he didn't really take to books that well.

One thing she was grateful for is the knowledge that both her children were more then capable of taking care of themselves. At least against your average, everyday run of the mill vampire, demon, and low level mutant, but…

Snagging the portable telephone at the foot of the stairs when she reached the first floor landing. Punching in her sister's speed code Buffy placed the phone to her ear and listened to the rings as she paced the foyer, she hoped, more for her children's sake then hers; that they called their aunt and let her know where they are going to be at.

If not…


"Hey," Buffy burst out cutting off Julian, Dawn's decade long boyfriend, before he can really get going. "You hear from my kids today?"

"Why, hello Buffy. We're doing pretty well up here. Nice of you…" Julian began with a touch of amusement gracing his cultured voice.

"Jul," Buffy growled knowing how much the man detested the affectionate nick name she gave to him. "I'm really not in the mood. Chris and Donna aren't here. Now have you heard from them."

"Early this morning," he said with a slight sigh. "Donna called. With what I heard sounded like she was getting make up tips from Dawn."

"She say where they were going?" Buffy demanded.

"Not to me," he answered. After a short breath he added, "Let me get Dawn."

Buffy nodded to herself as she sat on the arm of her dessert brown sofa. At least they had talked to someone. That fact might buy them a little mitigation once she got her hands on them.

Not much, but a little.

Dawn depressed the off button of her portable phone; a wave of exhaustion wash over the young looking woman after having her second conversation with her older sister, Buffy, in the last fifteen minutes. Days like this made her glad she was still childless.

"So," Julian says wrapping his long, lean arms around his lover, his heart, and sometimes his conscious' girlishly slim waist. He could still remember the first time he saw her like it was yesterday. There she had been, this waif of a girl that the slightest breeze should have been able to topple without much effort, struggling to open the door to New York City's Public Library. Not one of their main doors, but the one off the side alley, struggling to keep her grip on the arm load of books she had been carrying. He had watched for a moment, curios to see if she collapsed under the forces that had been pressed upon her or if she could overcome the obstacles life had placed in her path, but then a spark of chivalry; obviously implanted there by Macleod had chosen that moment to make its presence felt, and he went to her aid escorting her into the building. He even took the main portion of her bundle.

One day soon, he was definitely going to have to thank Duncan Macleod, of the Clan Macleod for, corrupting his ethical code. He had functioned perfectly fine in the world for more years then any sane man would want to lay claim to, and during none of that time did doing the right thing ever factor into his decision. For most of that time the only thing that ever concerned him was being alive come morning so he could watch the next sunrise.

Five thousand years and then some he had gotten along just fine. A decade with Macleod and he was opening doors and rescuing the nearest damsel that was in distress. This one time though, he figured he could let Macleod off the hook.

After all, if it weren't for Macleod, Methos doubted very much if he ever would have met Dawn.

Somehow they had managed to spend the entire night together; talking, drinking coffee, and generally having a pleasant evening in each other's company. He discovered quickly that she had a sharp mind and a quick wit to go along with her just left of normal personality.

She had her quirks, like to this day she still didn't invite him or anyone else in. Whenever he asked her about it she would simply say, "If their waiting for an invitation their going to be waiting all night," or, "if they need to be invited in they obviously don't want to come in." She was forever leaving people standing in the doorway.

Compared to Buffy though, Dawn seemed positively ordinary, almost mundane and relatively rational. The smaller woman had a way of looking at him that put him on edge; like she was taking the measure of what kind of man he was and found him lacking. He had the distinct feeling she was meticulously visualizing his death in painstaking detail. A dozen different ways. All at once.

Dawn Had told him once the reason that Buffy didn't like was because he reminded her of someone. A person who betrayed her; cutting a piece of her heart out. A person Buffy had trusted, thought of as more of a father then her own father. Now Buffy didn't trust anywhere near as much as she once had. He had tried to find out the details once but Dawn told him it wasn't her story to tell. If Buffy ever wanted him to know she would tell him.

Methos thought there was a better chance of seeing snow in hell before that occasion ever occurred. So far he had been right.

That intense scrutiny ended after a few months. She still didn't think he was worth his weight in manure, but because Dawn cared for she had backed off the death glare. A little. Now she took each and every veiled little shot she could, and stuck him with her kids for days on end; which considering how obsessively overprotective she was concerning those two monsters, he should have taken it as the highest honor. Similar to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Even after eleven years together she barely looked a day older then the first time he saw her. Then again, her Buffy didn't look any older then she had a decade earlier, so it might be nothing more then good genetics. It wasn't like he had room to talk though, aside from a few cosmetic changes, his appearance was exactly the same today as it did a year ago, ten, a hundred, a thousand, even five thousand years ago.

Dawn leaned her small, lithe body back into Julian's lean, muscular frame. Pressing her back hard against his firm chest as his grip tightened slightly holding her more firmly to him. "They're headed towards Seattle," she murmured softly letting her head fall back against his chest to gaze up at his eternally youthful face; smooth, sculpted checks, and warm brown eyes.

He blinked at that. "Seattle," he echoed taken by surprise with Dawn's information. That was the last place he thought would have drawn their attention. He should have known better.

Dawn nodded turning in his arms. "You think a pair of kids who have, quite possibly, the best bounty hunter in the world for a mother, would know better then to bring their cell phones with them," she said. Not quite the truth, but better then telling him Buffy made a quick overseas phone call to her one time best friend, who did a quick locator spell that found the missing fifteen, nearly sixteen, year old teenagers clear across the country. Because of their highly unique aura's; being the only two children ever born from an ensouled vampire and an active slayer, finding them had been a piece of cake.

The truth, in this case definitely had not been an option.

She shouldn't have been surprised when Buffy told her she had gone to Willow for assistance, despite the rift that had grown between them; with Buffy's decision to go through with her pregnancy, Willow protecting Giles from Buffy after his treachery had come to light. The gulf between them was deep to be sure, and their relationship may be strained beyond repair, but they were still allies in the same war, even if Buffy wasn't an active participant. Neither Willow, nor the reformed Watcher Council had any desire to see Buffy's children fall into the wrong hands.

Their potential threat value was simply too high.

"Why would they go to Seattle?" He murmured idly still trying to figure that out. He could see them wanting to escape from Buffy's overly smothering, extremely protective nature. It was like being smothered to death with kindness. In all of his long years he had rarely seen any mother as mothering as the petite blonde.

Dawn lift her eyes giving him a, "you gotta be kidding me" look. "You know how Buffy is," she answered without really answering. She couldn't exactly tell him, her niece and nephew went off to Seattle because of all local phenomenon going on in the region. Activity that may or may not be demonic in nature. The entire area was a hotbed of unexplained events. Enough so that an entire squad of slayers have been working out of the city for years now.

Julian nodded at her statement. He had seen countless women live through the same thing, losing the father of their children. It was far more frequent in previous centuries, but it was still common enough today, of course the opposite was just as prevalent in today's society. The fact that she was so over protective with Bella Donna and Christian spoke volumes as to just how much she loved, loves their father.

Granted he doesn't think he's ever come across two children that need less protection then her twins. There was something decidedly unnerving about the two of them. How they could vanish like a wisp of smoke even when you're looking right at them, and then reappearing a second later, normally right behind you.

He could still recall his first encounter with them. It wasn't an experience he enjoyed being reminded of, despite Buffy doing exactly that each time they saw each other.

"It's not surprising," he finally replied. "Considering everything I've heard about Spike," he frowned lightly at the name, "says he must've hung the sun, the moon, and the stars, all for her."

She smiled alluringly up at him as she leans back slightly. "Just like you would if I asked," she replied with confidence.

"I'd gather all the stars in heaven, string them into a necklace for you to wear," he whispered heatedly, brushing a lock of light golden brown hair back behind her ear.

Her grin grew broad at his words. "Have I told you recently how much I love you?" She inquired alluringly leaning up on her tip toes and placing a feather light kiss upon his lips.

Julian deepened the kiss momentarily before pulling back. "It has been a few hours," he answered with a smoldering smirk.

Dawn blushed slightly at his reference to their earlier activity as she draped her arms over his shoulders. "Care to see if you can remind me why?" She asked in her best seductress voice.

Wrapping his hands around her waist Julian easily lifted her into the air. Dawn gave a little squawk a moment before he captured her lips with his. Wrapping her legs around his waist she melted into the heated kiss.

That was until Julian pulled back slightly holding her at arms length saying, "Love to. But then we'd never get packed in time to catch up with Buffy."

Dawn blinked as she eloquently asked, "huh?"

"Seattle's a dangerous place," he replied, "even for someone like your sister," he finished. His comment earning him a funny little look from Dawn. "With how well she handles herself," he explained, not relishing the fact that not only can Buffy kick his ass, she can do it with ease.

"Uh-huh," Dawn breathed out.

Julian sighed as he said, "how about you pack and I'll give Duncan a call and see if he'd be willing to give us a hand."

"You mean it?" Dawn questioned skeptically knowing exactly how well Buffy and Julian get along.

"She's family," he said with a shrug as if that explained everything. Once again he vowed to have stern talk with Duncan. Putting his neck on the line for people was beginning to become a habit. One he didn't relish.

She leaned back in recapturing his lips in a slow, smoldering kiss. "I love you," she managed to say during the kiss.

"I know," he responded with the cocky arrogance of a man who has lived a few hundred lifetimes.

Buffy slammed the phone down in disgust. At times her hatred for the agency her assignments came through, Long Arm Retrieval, almost became more of load then even she was capable of bearing. A statement of monumental magnitude when she considered the fact that she had maintained a reasonable semblance of a friendship with Xander for the better part of decade. He was the only member of the old Scooby group that she had any kind of regular contact with, when their respective jobs brought them into contention over the same prize. Back in high school she never would have guessed he would grow up to become a U. S. Marshal. Big change from the class clown he had been; growing up on the hellmouth, fighting the ultimate evil, and losing your eye in the process can do that to a person.

Eleven years she's worked for LAR, ten and a half as their best field agent, doing the jobs nobody else wanted. Never once in all that time has she ever asked for any personal time, or time off for any reason. Now that her kids have gone AWOL they were going to hassle her. There were other skip tracers out there, any one of whom would love to have her working for them. Someplace new might actually be nice.

Or she could even open her own agency. Being the boss might be nice as well. Recruit a few disgruntle slayers out there. She knew she couldn't be the only one.

It would be nice to work in an environment without all the barbs, and semi veiled innuendoes.

She had heard all the jokes and speculations about her that circulated around the office; among her fellow employees, not that she knew very many of them personally. The ones about her being a mutant in disguise, an alien with a hidden triple helix embedded in her genetic code, or some kind of genetically engineered super soldier the United States Government cooked up in some lab before the pulse went off. A bigger group of bigoted bastards she has never met, unless she threw the Watcher Council into the mix; with their attitude concerning slayers, but they were also British so she expected a little snobbish arrogance from them.

There were a thousand rumors floating around about her. She had thought they would have been a little more circumspect talking about her with her in the vicinity, no telling what powers she might have. Only they weren't. She'd heard them all, laughed most of them off and felt like stuffing the person into their thermos.

If it wasn't for the fact that capturing escaped criminals, fugitives and other assorted felons were cake work compared to her previous job, world saver and apocalypse averter, Buffy would have walk away from them a long time ago. The fact she didn't have to go into the office made her decision to keep the job that much easier. Her inability to hold down a normal nine to five job with rules, regulations, and a boss looking over her shoulder helped a little.

She had briefly held any number of secretarial jobs that didn't last. While she had a great eye for fashion she didn't do nearly as well designing it. She had even got so desperate that at one point that she joined the police force.

That had actually lasted close to two years despite the fact she had been forced to wear blue polyester. She was good at it and enjoyed the work: catch the bad guys, save people. It was like slaying, except without the slaying.

Like with all of her other jobs she had a problem with authority figures. After nearly two years of mixed reviews, great at catching the bad guys lousy at following a superior officer's orders and is more apt to go her own way. She was well on her way to being forced out when Clement approached her. It was like the best of both worlds for her. She got to catch the bad guys and didn't have anybody telling her how to do the job.

The only problem was the travel. At least three days a week on the road. With Dawn just graduating collage, trying to get her Graphic Arts business off the ground, and then meeting Julian and their blossoming relationship things had been hectic. But they had managed to muddle their way through it.

Dawn's business was a success. Then she sold it, moved in with Julian in his Manhattan penthouse apartment. Opened a restaurant that had been a great success and then sold it for a huge profit. In little more then a decade she had owned, bought or opened herself, six different businesses that have flourished under her guiding hand.

It is like she had a Midas touch.

While Dawn jumped from one enterprise to the next, Julian simply translated ancient writings to modern English, or French, possibly German, or any language those rich enough to afford his services wanted.

All the while Christian and Bella Donna would spend two occasionally three, on the very rare, almost never happen occurrence, four days during the week with their Aunt Dawn and the man they called Uncle Julian. He was good with them, an old season pro. Either that or he just gave them whatever they wanted when they wanted it so he wouldn't have to listen to them.

All of this, and more, ran through her head as she quickly moved through her loft gathering up the necessary items for her trip back to the West Coast. Not since her blow up with Angel, Giles, and Willow over the reformation of the watcher council, among other things, has set foot on the Pacific Coast. Her pregnancy with Spike's children and determination to have the twins being chief among them.

White hot pain lanced through her abdomen. It had been brief and sharp. Buffy gasped clutching at swollen stomach. This can't be happening, the doctors had told her she was in perfect health. When she had seen them just last week they said she was fit enough to run a marathon, not that they suggested she do anything of the sort they had been quick to tell her. In fact they had absolutely forbid her from doing anything of that nature. They had simply been saying that she could, not that she should.

Another volt of agony speared her stomach. She cried out sharply as she fell to her knees, toppled onto her side. It felt like her skin had been sliced open, a thousand minute cuts and battery acid poured into each and every wound.

That wasn't even a fraction of the pain she experienced through her children, from the strange bound she shared with them. Somebody's trying to kill my children. It would be the last truly coherent thought she had for some time.

Willow was there in an instant. Buffy could feel her friend's presence, was aware of her strength at her side, if not anything she said or did.

Her body spasms uncontrollably with a third, fourth, and fifth convulsion wrecked her body. She was only aware of it dimly as she struggled to remain conscious. The pain, intense as it was, gave her something tangible to hold onto.

The rush to the hospital, the doctors, the decisions that were made; everything was vague around the edges, extremely incoherent. She thought she broke somebody's hand but wasn't sure. The only thing she was sure of was that Willow never left her side. Throughout the entire her ordeal Willow was there, using her magic to somehow keep her unborn babies alive.

She awoke sometime later, the drugs meant to keep her asleep were less then effective against her slayer enhanced metabolism. They did however make her a little bleary. The one thing she did notice was that the comforting, reassuring swell was gone from her midsection. There was a dull ache in her abdomen; her slayer metabolism was busy healing a serious wound.


The single word floated through a little piece of her mind hopefully while the rest of her; mind and body went into overdrive, adrenaline surged through her veins, clearing the rest of the drugs poisoning her system from her blood. Barely even aware of it, she grabbed hold of the IV and yanked the needle from the back of her hand.

"Buffy!" Willow's concerned voice snapped her head in the direction of the redhead. The powerful witch saw the rising panic in the blue flecked hazel eyes.

"What happened? Where are they?" Buffy demanded as her feet landed on the floor. Her voice was that of a junkie desperate for a fix; willing to kill to cure their ills. They can't be dead? I'll kill whoever did, I swear, with every fiber of my being… They'll get no mercy from me! Six months. Children have been born in under six months before. Dear God, please don't let them be dead!

"Their okay," Willow answered immediately knowing what Buffy needed to know. "They're probably in better shape then you were."

Buffy relaxed only marginally. She wouldn't be satisfied until she held both children in her arms. "Where are they?"

"The maternity ward," Giles said from the corner of the room.

She hadn't noticed him standing there, giving Willow's words a touch of credibility she didn't want to admit. He was oddly quite and withdrawn. Buffy put it off to him being British and that being their normally disposition.

"Alone!" She growled. Somebody had tried to kill her and her children and there wasn't a full security detail around them.

"Dawn, Faith, Kennedy, and Angel are with them right now," Willow answered quickly. She had wanted to put even more people in the area, crammed the corridor wall to wall with slayers, surround the entire building. Only Giles had put a stop to that, claiming that there was no need to draw undue attention to themselves.

"Angel," Buffy questioned somewhat skeptically. She knows she shouldn't, that Angel was one of the few people she could trust no matter what, but she can't help the nagging question that fluttered in the back of her head. Ever since he told her about taking over Wolfram & Hart she's felt Angel Pulling from her slightly. Plus he gave her the amulet that took Spike from her. As the head of Wolfram & Hart he also had the resources at his dispos…

Buffy gave herself a mental shake, not believing what she had been contemplating. It was as preposterous as thinking Giles could have done this to her. People she trusted where rare and far between. There were few people living, or unliving that ranked as high as her Watcher. One was in the room with her and Giles, and the other two were in the maternity ward.

For the first time in what felt like years, Buffy allowed herself to relax fully. With speed that still surprised Willow, Buffy reached out and grabbed the redhead's hand, and pulled the small girl into a fierce hug that knocked the air out of her lugs. "Thank You," she whispered tearfully allowing the damn of emotion to burst, partially. A few warm tears stained her cheeks. In her mind there was no doubt that it had been Willow's powerful magic that had saved, not just her life, but the lives of her children as well.

A small frown slipped on Willow's face as she asked, "What for?"

"Whatever it was you did that saved Christian and Bella Donna," she answered as she pulled back slightly. "I know you didn't approve of my decision…"

"It's not that I didn't approve," Willow cut in, "I just thought you were being… Reckless." She took a steadying breath before going on. "I didn't do anything, not because I didn't want to or because I couldn't, but because I didn't have to. Your kids… They're powerful Buffy, damn powerful. If they were to fall into the wrong hands…"

"They won't," Buffy vowed harshly.

"But if they did," Willow pressed. "We've already seen a handful of new slayers go rogue, and not just the whole I don't have to do what you say attitude…"

"Because they don't," Buffy interjected. The Watcher Council had forced the whole chosen destiny on her. She wasn't about to foist that misconception onto other slayers. It was bad enough Giles had picked up right where Travers left off.

Willow ignored the interruption as she continued to speak. "…rogue, but evil… rogue. Joining forces with demons… rogue; cultivating power… rogue, forming gangs and setting up their own criminal organization… rogue."

"The police will have to handle the ones that are only breaking human laws, but if they're making deals with demons then we'd have to take them down. Capture them if we can, if not they'd have to be treated like any other demon and be put down. The ones that are brought in alive, their powers will have to be bound, there'd have to be some sort of ritual."

"Which is exactly what should be done to Bella Donna and Christian," Willow put in forcefully. She already had the spell researched, had been researching it throughout Buffy's seven month pregnancy.

Buffy's face hardened and when she spoke her voice was like ice, the air in the room seemed to grow colder with each word. "You want to bind them." Willow had never heard such rage in her friend's voice before. It practically quivered with unspent emotion. "Why not just slit their throats? Or hey, try to kill them while their still in the womb?"

"That's not…"

"We didn't bind your powers after you almost destroyed the world. Some of us wanted to, but others said no, that you deserved a second chance. That it was only because of Tara that you went off the deep end. My kids don't even get the chance to commit a crime… You've already got them tried, convicted, and serving life sentences? It isn't going to happen. Anybody so much as raises a hand against them; I'll leave them without hands to raise."

"Willows right," Giles voice drifted over from the corner. Both girls turned to face him and the old man straightened slightly. Buffy found something oddly familiar about the attitude he was effecting. It wasn't his standard British stiffness, his resolute no matter how bleak the situation appears we pull through because we must. It was an echo of something buried deep in her mind. "By the time they're old enough to choose one path over another they may very well be powerful enough that even throwing our combined forces against them would be an exercise in futility. We have to do everything in our power to see to it that that never comes to pass."

The only time she had ever seen him act fidgety was when he felt guilty about something. After he slept with her mother, when she found out he and Ethan Rayne used to summon demons back in the good old days. There were several other vague instances but the one that sticks out in her mind was her eighteenth birthday, when he had poisoned her for that stupid test of the watcher council.

The pieces fall into place.

Buffy felt as if she had just been kicked in the gut.

"How could you?" She breathed out with almost no strength.

"What?" Willow asked lost by Buffy's question. Then she saw Giles stiffen in a way that spoke of defending something there was no defense for. She thought her bottom jaw was going to hit the floor with as far as it fell as she put everything together.

"You were like my father." The betrayal she felt could be seen in her face, heard in her voice.

"I discovered a prophecy…"

"A prophecy?"

"…it spoke of a child conceived of an ensouled vampire. Through him peace and harmony would be brought to the world of men…"

"That doesn't sound so bad," Willow mumbles in confusion.

"…An end to humanity."

Something about Giles story tickles a part of Willow's mind as if it were somehow familiar. It's a small tickle though and she has more important things on her mind so it gets shoved to the back and is soon forgotten.

"A prophecy," Buffy said again testing the word, as if she had never heard the word before. "You tried to kill my children because of some prophecy?" There was a dangerous calm to the tiny slayer's voice as she spoke. Like a massive storm was washing in from the distance. A storm that was going to scour the land bare before it was over. "It's not enough for you is it? You've had me fulfilling one prophecy after another ever since we first met… Some at the cost of my own life. Now you're ready to pass that legacy onto my kids. Simply averting them now isn't good enough for you though? No, now you're doing the whole preemptive strike; get rid of the potential problem before its even been born?" Willow knew Buffy well enough to know she was working herself up deliberately. She had seen her do it for the last eight years. "Not with my kids, your not."

Her muscles were like coiled springs. The world around her had slowed to a crawl. The anticipation was like a fine wine tingling her taste buds. She was a heartbeat away from attacking when the world fell to darkness.

Willow had done something to her in that hospital room, a major piece of mojo to have put her down so quickly. Even now though, sixteen years later she still felt a white hot rage burn though her when she thought of Giles. Poisoning her, attempting to kill her children before they were born. That he had been in the ground five years now did little to lessen her rage.

She had never seen him after that day in the hospital, but Dawn had run into him on several occasions and had been with him at the end. While a part of Buffy was saddened to hear of his rapid decline; another part of her rejoiced, took great satisfaction in the fact the man she had once loved like her own father, had died an old man; a broken and decrepit shadow of his former self.

Buffy still didn't know why she hadn't lost Chris and Donna. Some miracle, or perhaps somebody in charge had finally decided she had suffered enough, lost enough, been run through the ringer one too many times to do it again.

Or maybe her children do have some great destiny in store for them. Something she has tried to steer them away from. If they felt like using their powers to save people when they became old enough that was fine, she would deal with that, if or when it ever came to pass. Once they were eighteen. What she wouldn't deal with was them believing was it was their preordained fate to sacrifice everything for people that didn't know they existed and couldn't care less about them if they did. She did her best to distill that into them, that their lives are their own. That they could do anything they set their minds to, so long as it wasn't illegal, immoral, or reprehensible.

Waking up in the hospital the second time around she had almost thought the first was some sort of terrible nightmare, but Willow had left a note. She had been heartened to hear that her friend found what Giles had done to be one of the most reprehensible actions she has ever heard of, but she couldn't let Buffy kill him. Buffy was even glad for that. While she wanted the Watcher's blood she also wanted him to live, and to suffer. Willow had taken Giles back to England, where she would close monitor him and see to it that he never went after her children and she had been as good as her word.

The only thing she had been sure of, that she knew without the slightest doubt, was she was done being the slayer… A slayer. There were hundreds, if not thousands of slayers in the world. More then enough to handle whatever catastrophe might arise at any given point and time. Her and Willow clashed a few times over the disposition of slayers, but since she wasn't a part of the New Council her voice didn't carry a lot of weight.

Still Buffy knew of a number of slayers that had escaped the New Council's clutches. She also knew of an equal number pressed into the service of their country. Somehow slayers in the army just seemed wrong. She was also smart enough to realize if America, supposed land of the free, was conscripting young people with super powers into service then other countries around the globe were doing the same.

Not that any of that was her problem.

Her problems had very specific names; Christian and Bella Donna.

When she got her hands on them…

She rushed around the loft with little concern for the fact that someone could see her through the big bay windows. Someone that if Buffy weren't so distracted at the moment with worry over her children's safety, she would have spotted in a heartbeat.

Someone that possessed the ability to cling to the side of a building like some kind of four limbed arachnid, or tree frog. Toad knew none of that. His dark, malevolent, hate filled eyes gaze balefully upon the traitor to her own race. All the young mutant can see is a mutant who makes her living hunting down her own kind. A mutant whose physical prowess is, without question, extremely formidable. Formidable enough that he wasn't going to challenge her without some serious backup. He was here to assess the situation on Eric's orders. Victor might have some fun with her.

Conner looked over his shoulder at the thirty foot high chain linked, razor wired fence with enough voltage running through it to literally stop a bull elephant dead in its tracks. He had cleared the obstruction with no real effort on his part. It was impossible for any human to do what he just had, but he had done it and he was completely human.

At least that was what all the blood and genetic test he has taken come back saying. One hundred percent, red blooded, all American human.

Only the things he was capable of doing, has always been capable of doing since he was a child screamed at him of mutant or something even worse. Some inhuman monster that lurked just below his flesh; clawing and scraping, waiting and biding its time until it can tear its way to freedom. Discarding his flesh as some type of filthy husk it has been forced to wear all these years.

Many nights he's woken up screaming with those images, if not worse, fresh in his mind. His body drenched in sweet. Bedding and bed alike destroyed by his thrashing.

Growing up he had never given his abilities the slightest thought. They were simply part of who he was. It wasn't until he turned twenty-one that he thought to question anything.

He was in his Junior year of collage and coming home to spend the Christmas holiday with his family. They had all taken the ride out to pick him up at the airport.

A two hour trip.

One way.

He had tried to beg off, telling his father that a cab ride was good enough for him. "A couple hours wouldn't kill anyone," he had told his father over the phone. If he had only known how wrong he was. His father wouldn't hear of it though. "The holidays are meant to be spent with your family, not sitting in a cab by yourself," he had returned. He was so excited to be seeing them all again that he hadn't bothered to argue more.

He wished he could go back.

He wouldn't have stopped insisting until he had convinced his father it was okay for him to take a cab. That they would have all the time in the world to visit and catch up once he got home.

Only he couldn't. There was nothing he can do to change the past and every time he thought of it he wound up hating himself just a little more.

They had been half way home, cruising along the winding road at a moderate thirty miles an hour. It would take almost another hour to get home, but in the high, mountainous roads slower was safer.

Or it should have been.

They came around sharp bend in the road with a slight decline and hit a large patch of black ice covered by thin snow drift the wind had blown across the road. The car had spun out of control, careening through the guardrail.

Another of his dreams that woke up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat; the sound of his parents, his mother and father screaming, his younger sister's ear piecing wails, his own despairing cries still loud in his ears. He could still hear them even now. Demanding to know why he didn't save them, why he is still alive while they're dead. He can still feel the roasting flames licking at his own skin.

Worse still, was when the two dreams melted into one forming a single horrific nightmare. Instead of it being a car crash that had caused his family's death. It was him; with his alien, non-human body; wearing his terrible inhuman flesh, rending his family limb from limb. Lapping up their blood; sucking the marrow from their shattered bones, all the while they scream and plead for him to stop. Beg to know why he's turned on them after he was given to them. When he dines to give it to them, his only answer; delivered in a raspy, gravel crunching voice was, "It's in the blood."

The explosion that blasted him out of the car, like a runaway rocket, did little more then bruise his skin. He walked away from a fiery crash that consumed the rest of his family with little more then flesh wounds.

Injuries that were completely healed by the time he reached the nearest town, Champion Falls. That was when it all went from unreal to nightmarish. Not only had he just lost his family, but now the authorities were claiming he killed them; engineered the entire "accident" to collect the insurance money.

They kept going on about how there wasn't a mark on him, not even a scratch and nobody would let him explain. They all thought they knew the truth and nothing he said mattered.

He had lost his tamper and exploded in a fit of rage. During the ensuing scuffle he did kill two of the cops before he was able to get away. He hadn't been trying to hurt anyone and had barely laid a finger on them, but they still died.

And that, no matter where he went was still called murder.

That was almost thirteen years ago and he's been on the run ever since.

He looked around the shanty town with cynical smirk. Vague rumors and tabloid stories of genetically engineered super soldiers had led him to Seattle with the possibility of finally discovering what he was.

With the arrogant strut of someone who knows no fear he strode down the puddle ridden dirt track. Those few people that were witness to his arrival have seen his kind before and knew him for what he was.

A hunter.

A predator.

A killer.

The road the heavy duty, four-wheel drive jeep bounced along was a barely paved stretch of black top. Cigar smoke drifted lazily through the wide open passenger window.

"You mind closing that?" Scott inquired with a bitter edge to his voice. The two of them had been snipping back and forth all morning. The entire trip really.

Scott didn't appreciate the fact that he had been saddled with a baby sitter. Logan hated that Scott thought he would do that to him; he had a touch more respect for the man then that, though he would be damn if Scott no that. He simply needed a ride into the Seattle area and Scott was headed that way. So he hitched a ride with him.

Simple as that.

Logan glanced at the younger man. A feral smirk flicking at the corner of his lips. "Do that and you'll be complaining about this next," he pointed out holding his cigar up for visual reference.

Scott scowled casting a quick, withering glare at Logan. "Then put it out."

"You can drop me off anywhere," Logan responded with an openly hostile shrug. "Ain't got no need to go all the way to Seattle."

Scott stopped without any warning bringing the jeep to a skidding stop. He thought about informing Logan of the fact he had just used a double negative, which in the strictest sense would mean he did have need to go all the way to Seattle, but decided to keep that information to himself. Especially considering the fact he was fairly certain Logan didn't even know what a double negative was. That, plus he wanted Logan gone from his presence. The sooner the better. "This good enough?"

"Perfect." Logan replied as he shoved the door open. It wouldn't be the first time, and he doubted it would be the last, that he camp rough, and lived off the wild. Grabbing his pack from the back seat he hopped out of the jeep landing easily on the uneven shoulder. There was a damp chill in the air, with more then a hint of rain in the offing, but this was the Pacific Northwest and rain was normally in the offing. Scott pulled away, spitting up dirt, before Logan could close the door. It swung shut of its own accord as Scott sped up.

With a slight scowl Logan slung his leather backpack over his shoulder. It had a solid bit of weight to it that the feral mutant hardly felt. It was scuffed heavily, and frayed with the wear of trekking over a thousand such roads.

The tales it could tell.

He watches as the jeep disappears around the bend, dipping into a short gulley as it past behind a stand of trees, conifers mostly, but a few hardy spruce and oak as well. Less then a quarter of minute passed and he spotted the jeep climb a short rise through a break in the tree cover. Letting out a short exhalation he slipped into the woods. It was going to take the rest of the day for him to reach his destination, but at least the urge to ventilate Scott Summers was beginning to fade.

The pneumonic doors slide open, reacting automatically to Detective Nick Wolfe's presence as he closed on them. His light brown hair blew sporadically as the early morning breeze took it. The dark stubble covering his face was clear evidence of the fact he hasn't seen his apartment in more then a day.

Stepping through the first set of doors and then through a second pair he left the morning chill behind and entered the perfectly temperate air of the hospital's interior.

With his demeanor, his walk, the way he carried, and presented himself it was easy for everyone to identify him as a cop. His deep, extremely hard, blue, eyes had a way of weighing people, accurately judging and sizing them up the instant he takes them in.

As he stepped into the corridor he came to stop as that, still very uncomfortable, buzz whirred through his head. Instinctively he focused trying to locate the source of the quickening, the Immortal that it radiated out from.

Turning to look down the corridor to his left he picked out a tall, dark haired woman with a white doctors coat on staring at him with hard brown eyes.

Like he does with everyone else he sees Nick reads the woman. Despite her white coat there's an edge, a hardness – like forge steel – to her body language that has nothing to do with making life and death decisions for other people. He can tell she's old, at least as old as Amanda.

He can also tell that aside from taking his measure she has absolutely no interest in him.

With a slight nod of his head to her, he turned and went back to attending to his business. His hard soled boots barely made a sound as he strode away confident that the woman was going to do the same.

"I'm leaving right now Methos," Duncan said hefting his backpack. Over the years he's been to several cities inside the area affected by the pulse. A completely different set of rules applied there. It's a nearly Darwinian atmosphere inside the area.

As long as everything was in order he shouldn't have the slightest problem with the local Warlords. And if he did, he had ways, of dealing with that as well. "Just as soon as you stop pestering me and let me get out the door."

He looks down at the duffle bag resting on the floor and sighed lightly. His ancient, cloth wrapped Katana secured to it, all the proper paper work, documentations, and travel visa's bundled safely inside.

If not for Methos and his constant phone calls this morning it was possible he could have been half way to Washington by now. "Look, I think I'm old enough to take care of myself… Sure thing dad. I even remembered to pack extra underwear. Goodbye."

With that he clicked the phone off, then tossed it onto his sofa. Almost instantly it began ringing again. If he didn't know better – which he actually doesn't – he'd assume Methos was doing this just to irritate him. Between him and Buffy they've kept him in his San Francisco home nearly all morning.

Picking his duffle bag up off the floor he strode purposefully for the heavy oak door. By the door; on top of the recently varnished table, that was ingeniously balanced on three legs that ended in small cloven hooves, sat his car and house keys along with his cell phone. He snatched them up and quickly checked to make sure the cell was turned off. He smiled, tucked it into the hip pocket of his full length brown duster, as he pulled open his door, slipped out through the small crack of an opening, and pulled it to behind him.

A smile on his face while the phone continues to ring.

Nick flipped his notebook close, a sad smile crinkling the corners of his eyes. He wanted to say something to the man; victim of half a dozen gun shot wounds, to assure him that he's going to be just fine given time, but there wasn't anything he could say that wouldn't sound contrived. He was lucky to have survived the initial attempt on his life, lucky to have made it to the hospital, lucky to have lasted the night, lucky to be alive right now, and if he lives another day he'll be even luckier.

He tapped the notebook against the palm of his left hand. Turning to the door he stopped in his tracks as that whirring buzz tingled through his skull. Slipping his notebook into the inside pocket of his coat, he eased the strap on his holster making sure his nine millimeter was ready to be drawn in an instant.

A moment later the door opened and the same woman he saw by the front desk entered the room. As she took in Nick's tense posture she pushed the door closed behind her. "I'm not here for you," she commented idly, her accent indecipherable to him. Her posture however was anything but idle as she stood just inside the doorway. Her head nodded toward the man on the bed. "Once I've seen to my patient," she began stepping around Nick. "If you're so inclined, we can go somewhere a bit more private to take care of our business?"

Nick's scowl deepened at her offer. All these immortals were so obliging when it came to their death duels. As far as he was concerned it was some kind of collective insanity on their part. Instead of commenting on it he asked, "How is he?"

"Once people stop shooting holes in him, he'll be fine." Her flippant tone set his teeth on edge, as if her were chewing tinfoil.

"You're taking a hell of a chance. Coming in here unarmed," he responds in an almost scolding tone.

Her smirk as she turned from examining her patient was almost condescending. "With two police officers in the hall you would have to be truly cold blooded. Which; unless I've completely lost my ability to read people, you're not." She then looked him over with a critical eye. "It appears I'm not the only one going out in public under dressed for the occasion."

Nick scowls as he said, "I'm still armed."

"And you make a big assumption assuming I'm not," she responded.

"Look," he started angrily but stopped himself, regaining his composure. "I was just getting a statement." He said closing the space between them. In a voice hot with anger he said, "I've no interest your head and even less in this stupid game you're all so eager to play." With those words he turned and took a quick stride toward the door.

Ceirdwyn grabbed hold of his arm before he could do more then take that single step. It was easy to sense his anger and hostility; easier still to guess the reason why. "None of us had a choice in being other then what we are."

"That's where you're wrong," Nick said breaking her grip. "I had the chance to die, one time and stay that way. Someone I mistook for a friend took that away from me," he finished with a sharp glare. The next moment he was out the door before she could react.

Ceirdwyn sighed as the door swung shut. That had not been something she expected to hear. There are very few diseases that can affect a pre-immortal. Viruses mainly, the more virulent kind were even capable of bringing about death. It's extremely unusual for a pre-immortal to become seriously ill much less reach the brink of death. Most had a violent death thrust upon them in the prime of their lives.

It didn't take her more then a moment for her to put the pieces together. The good detective had made a friend of an Immortal. Whether he knew what they were or not, they would have known what he was upon first sensing him. Would have known what a death by illness natural or otherwise would mean to him and took matters into their own hands. Not giving him a choice in the matter might be the problem underlying everything.

She shook her head as she returned to what she originally came into the room to do. Check on her patient. It wasn't her place to concern herself over the fate of one very young Immortal.

Only she couldn't stop seeing a pair of haunted blue eyes.

Scott pulled up to a stop alongside the fuel pump slamming the gear shifter back into park. Getting through Seattle checkpoints had been more of a hassle then he had been expecting. Almost as if they didn't want him entering the city.

Technically he didn't want to be in the city, but circumstances had forced him inside. He would've loved to have been able to skirt along its perimeter but he didn't have enough fuel to reach the next depot outside the city.

Pushing open the jeep's door he stepped out of the vehicle, and onto the hard pack mixture of dirt and gravel. Every so often yellow weeds sprout from the ground or between bits of gray and black rocks.

Once again Scott glanced at the exorbitant prices being charged for diesel fuel. He let out a long, shuttering exhalation, then reached back inside grabbed his black field jacket; all the while keeping an eye on the surrounding area. A plethora of run down, in some cases dilapidated or condemned, buildings fill his vision. Back east they would be places of business or peoples homes, but here… He's sure people use them to live despite their structural integrity, or lack there of.

There are other buildings as well. Ones that appear sound. People fill the streets, most going about their own business, but more then a few stare at the stranger with his shiny car.

After swinging the door closed he made his way across the parking lot to one of the few functional looking buildings. Scott can feel the eyes on him as he strode forward. Powerful strides. The walk of a man who hasn't given up, hasn't surrendered, a man who was still fighting for something better.

For the first time though he wished he hadn't kicked Logan out. The man was easily the biggest pain in the ass he's ever run across, but his intimidating presence right now would be rather reassuring.

With a scowl he shoved the thoughts away. He knew he was more then capable of watching his own back. He done just that for years before Professor Xavier found him and while his choices back then landed him in trouble far more often then not, but he always managed to get out of it on his own.

Too stubborn to know when to quit was what everyone had always said about him.

Among other things.

Reaching the store he pulled open the plywood covered steel frame door and stepped inside. The fluorescent lights gave off a dim illumination, a few lights flickering lazily gave the interior of the building a mildly overcast feeling. It fit in perfectly with the environment outside.

Going through the little store he made a quick job of picking out a few items, efficiently checking expiration dates on the labels. Just to be on the safe side. Mostly everything was within code, if just barely.

"Cool shades," the clerk, a young man – boy really – with a light olive complexion, more then his fair share of pimples and black heads, and nearly lime colored hair remarked indifferently.

"Thanks," Scott responded with a friendly smile as he carefully placed his handful of items on the counter. "It comes to fourteen sixty-seven," he said indicating the items. The kid gaped slightly, but does a relatively good job at hiding his astonishment. Scott shrugged saying, "I've got a thing for numbers." He began pulling out his wallet. "The jeep out there," he began gesturing with his head, "is going to take two hundred and eleven dollars and eighty-four point forty-one cents worth of fuel."

"Actually," the boy started, a small, devilish smirk slipping over his face. "Unless you do something quick like, it…"

Scott's head whipped around. "Shit," he cursed vehemently seeing a number of street toughs at his jeep; a few of them actually inside of the vehicle.

"… Is going to costing you a bit less then that," he finished. A chuckle escaping as Scott bolted for the door.

"Hey!" He yelled bursting into the open.

The oldest punk, a blonde hair boy sitting behind the wheel – with more piercings through his left eyebrow then Scott would have thought possible beforehand – shouted something Scott didn't understand and he gestured toward him. The gesture he understood clearly. A number of the street kids broke off from what they had been doing, going through Scott's belongings, and charged the young man running full tilt at them.

Scott would dearly love to unleash his optic blast and put these punks in their place. Unfortunately with the sentiment running the way it was toward mutants these days he would be the one to wind up in prison. Or worse. That just meant he was going to have to deal with them the old fashion way.

Which suited his mood just fine. Ever since he lost Jean he's felt an overwhelming desire to physically pummel someone into submission.

The first, a burly young man with dark hair; the tips dyed blonde with the sleeves of his denim jacket cut off to expose his thick, sculpted arms, was the first to meet him. His right arm pulled back ready to deliver a devastating haymaker.

Scott allowed years of intense hand to hand combat training to take over. A sharp, right hand jab straight into the boy's face knocked his head back breaking his charge. In the same motion Scott's left arm wrapped around his opponent's upper right arm locking the limb in place. His right arm gripped the side of the punk's head as he twirled around in a flawless pivot driving his knee into the boy's gut before planting his face in the ground leaving him gasping and writhing in pain while Scott continued his spin; scooping up a handful of dirt and gravel in the process. He whipped it into the face of the next person to reach him in one smooth motion as he rose up, delivering a hard left to his chin dropped the kid to the ground unconscious.

He blocked a heavy hook punch from the next attacker and unleashes a flurry of punches and strikes to their head and body. Slipping to the side he slammed his knee into the boy's midsection, then shoved him aside preparing himself for the last assailant.

Once he came in range Scott lashed out with a hard right foot to the young thug's groin. A kick hard enough that it lifted the kid off his feet, his eyes rolling back in his head. His expression becoming that of a guppy trying to breath out of water as he dropped to his knees

Scott jerked around just in time to hear his jeep roar to life. The heavy duty vehicle peeled away, kicking up a spray of dirt and gravel. He gave chase for a dozen yards or so before coming to a halt. He could have brought it to a stop easy enough. All he would have to do was lift his ruby quartz glasses. His hand drifting upward as the temptation built with him watching his jeep speed away.

Turning, he began the trek back to the shack. A soft groan reminded him of the still conscious thug. "Son of a bitch," he cursed hoarsely as he pivoted slightly. His right fist smashed into the kid's jaw sending him sprawling to the ground.

Reaching into his coat pocket he pulled out his cell phone. Flipping it open he dialed nine one one while turning around to gaze at the last spot he had seen his jeep.

"You have reached Seattle, Washington's emergency services," an overly cheerful, obviously pre-recorded voice announced. "Currently all our operators are unavailable. Please hold and your call will be directed to the first available operator at the earliest possible convenience."

May tried to get comfortable as she stood against the back wall of the bus. The olive green knapsack she had purchased from the army surplus store was nestled securely at her feet. She had made a point of staying away from her new clothes, anything that would indicate east coast money, and was wearing old semi worn out clothes.

The bus bounced along the partially paved road at a moderate clip. May hardly noticed as her natural balance compensated for the rocking motion automatically giving her the opportunity to take stock of the bus's occupants.

Fewer than two dozen people in all. Obviously Seattle isn't one of the great tourist capitals of the world anymore, if it ever had been. Like her all the passengers wore old second hand clothing. Unlike her most had an expression of desperation, of having hit the end of the line. Like there was nothing there for them, nothing left. Just broken and useless dreams of what might have, what should have, been.

Suddenly the bus began to slow and before it came to a herky-jerky stop. May listened to the heavy footsteps, the clink and clank of soldiers as they began to close around the bus. Through the front window she could make out a short line of cars. Beyond them she can make out the twenty-five foot high electric fence and a pair of guard houses on the other side.

The front door opened allowing a pair of heavily armed troopers entry to the bus. "Shut it down," the second soldier ordered the driver as the first moved up the cramped isle to the back of the bus. People already cramped cringed further back. He glanced at the open window and was about to turn when he decided to check it out. He doubted he would find anything, but it was always better to be sure. He covered the last several steps and looked out. All he sees are a Heftner and Nixt, a pair of fellow Army Ground Pounders.

The driver capitulates without a moments hesitation. The man then turned his attention to the bus load of passengers. His disdain for the people in front of him was clear in his eyes. Words echoed what people saw their. If people didn't have wherewithal, the strength of self to do what they needed to do in order to make something worthwhile out of their lives then what they got exactly what they deserved. "Listen up. Everybody gather your belongings and exit the vehicle in an orderly fashion." He simply wished he didn't have to deal with the refuse all the time.

May listened to the orders as she slipped under the heavy duty troop carrier. She quickly webbed her knapsack up to the under carriage then pressed herself up tight to the frame and hoped they don't check their own vehicle too closely.

Silently May cursed herself for not remembering, until now, that because of Seattle being under Martial Law blood samples, finger prints, and a slue of other vital statistics were being taken upon entering the district. For most things it wouldn't matter but she couldn't allow a DNA sample to be taken from her. Like her father, Peter Parker, there are certain additions in her genetic make up that would send up so many red flags people would think they were back in Communist Moscow.

If she had remembered that she would have gone on a cross country trek and avoided the heavily guarded checkpoints. Now she literally has to hang around all day and wait for nightfall before trying to sneak across.

"Look," Scott growled invading the uniformed officer's personal space.

Ryan glared back putting a restraining hand on Scott's chest to keep him at bay. Scott ignored the gesture as he kept up his rant.

"The Jeep has a god damned GPS. It'll take you all of fifteen seconds to locate it. I'd do it myself but my damn phone won't get a signal out of the area."

"Sir," Ryan started. A hint of irritation touching his voice as a little piece of his composure slipped because of Scott's belligerent tone. "As much as I'd like to help you out we simply don't have the resources to chase down a stolen vehicle. You should feel fortunate it wasn't a homicide we were called out on."

He was still more then a little surprised that the man had put down four of the six carjackers. That simply shouted out Special Forces, and the man has the hard look of someone who spent years in the military. Still, just because he knew his way around a fight didn't mean he'd last a day in Seattle. "My advice to you sir is find yourself a motel, get a good nights sleep. And in the morning get the hell out of Seattle." With that Ryan turned on his heel and strode away leaving Scott to seethe. He watched the blonde with something close to malice burning in his eyes and a plan forming in his head.

A slim brunette, with a fine, almost milk white complexion; her long, light brown hair pulled back in a tight braid stood at the cruiser's driver side door waiting for her partner. Her brown eyes constantly flickered toward Scott. With a final, lingering stare she pulled her eyes away and slid in behind the wheel swinging the door shut behind her.

Scott continued to glare at the cruiser. If the cop thought he could be scared off that easily he had made serious mistake. He had grown up on meaner streets then Seattle had to offer. No matter what, he was getting his jeep back. He didn't care if he had to tear the entire city down brick by brick to do it.

Ceirdwyn smiled to herself; a throaty and highly amused chuckle escaping past her lips. She had to admire Detective Nick Wolfe's choice of abodes.

A small house built adjacent to an abandoned Orthodox Church. In the fading light she could just appreciate the differences in the two buildings. While the house looked to be in good shape; fresh paint, new shingles, the works. The Church could be condemned with the drop of a hat.

It was still holy ground though, Church and house, the one place where Immortals could safely approach one another.

Walking forward with all the confidence of someone who has lived for nearly two thousand years she felt that slight jolt, an almost refreshing surge, like every Immortal does each time they step on holy ground.

Half a dozen steps later that low level electrical buzz of coming in range of another immortal whirred through her. At least now she knew she had the right place, as if living on holy ground hadn't been enough of a clue. She would have felt extremely foolish showing up at the wrong house.

At least I don't have to worry about announcing myself. The meaningless thought flittered through the back of her mind. She shoved it aside and continued her way up the cobblestone walk.

The light curtain in the window to the right of the front door was flipped aside for a moment before fluttering back into place. A brief instant later the front door jerked open revealing a sweating, bare chested Nick Wolfe. His brown hair several shades darker and matted to his skull with sweat. A heavy layer of tape was wrapped tightly around his fingers, knuckles, hands, and wrist. In his right hand, held at ease, by his side, with the barrel pointed towards the ground, was his back-up nine millimeter.

Her breath caught in her throat momentarily. When she had first seen him earlier during the day she had more then suspected the physic he possessed, but she had no idea it would effect her so much. She practically feels like a young girl whose become aware of boys for the very first time and has the misfortune of have fallen for the most dashing man in the village; heart hammering, shortness of breath, and a gentle queasiness that roils softly inside her stomach.

Since David, her last husband, was murdered, gun downed in cold blood she hasn't been with more then a handful of people, and all of them were nothing more then one night stands. Just something to relieve the pressure that had built up in her life.

Nick takes her in as she strode up the stone walkway. Dark clothes to match her raven black hair. She cut the figure of a born warrior, not a complete contrast to the doctor she had been when he last saw her. No, like then there had been that fire in her eyes that felt like it could burn a person to ash in an instant if she willed it so.

"You," he muttered darkly; relaxing slightly despite his iron willed determination not to. She's just as apt to try and take my head as any man, he reminds himself silently.

Ceirdwyn came to a stop at the foot of the wooden stairs. "I come to talk, listen really," she shrugged lightly. "It seems like you could use someone to listen to you and there aren't a lot of people who will understand what you're going through."

"And if I'm not in the mood to talk?" Nick inquired stubbornly, refusing to let go of his bitterness.

She reached into her handbag, an action which caused Nick to tense. "I've brought libations to loosen your tongue," she answerd lifting an ancient looking bottle out of her bag. She climbed the steps saying, "Cognac bottled in fourteen sixty-seven. If this doesn't set your tongue to wagging then I'm afraid nothing will."

A tiny, tired sounding sigh escaped as Nick gave the bottle a dubious once over. "Isn't there some proverb about bewaring Romans bearing gifts?"

"With good reason," she replied with a tiny frown. Those had been lessons hard learned. She buried the morbid thoughts threatening her otherwise good mood. "But I'm Celtic so you have nothing to worry about."

"Celtic?" Nick mumbled with a frown.

Ceirdwyn arched an expressive brow as she gazed at him. "You know that little series of islands off the European coast? Most people refer to them as the British Isles. My name's Ceirdwyn by the way," she finished extending her hand.

"Nick Wolfe," he replied taking her hand.

She nodded slightly saying, "a strong name."

May waited just long enough for the last set of voices to fade as the soldiers rounded the corner of the long square building before lowing herself to the ground as silently as any eight legged arachnid. Pulling her knapsack free from where she had it lodged she slung it across her back before crawling out from underneath the heavy duty transport vehicle. The joints of her hips and shoulders, knees and elbows, wrist and ankles are all at extreme angles for the human body to attain, much less maintain, and then move. Her body hovers just millimeters off the ground as she skittered across the open expense looking like a four legged spider moving at speeds most people couldn't achieve running.

Once she came in range of the nearest building she leapt right from her position on the ground, easily clearing the fifteen feet to land squarely on the side of one of the compounds squat, rectangular buildings. Once she was latched onto the wall she quickly scurried up the side, onto the roof and over to the opposite wall. Finding an open window she slipped inside. After dropping her knapsack to the floor she quickly followed suit landing lightly on the hard concrete.

With only a small silver sliver of moonlight to work with she stripped out of the clothes she been wearing, the stench of truck grease, exhaust, and rust a little too much for her to take right now. Digging to the bottom of her sack she recovered what she's been looking for.

Her black Spider-Girl costume, with a slim white spider print covering her chest and back as well as the back of each hand. She redressed with nearly blinding speed. That done she shoved her street clothes back into the knapsack, tied it close, and slung it across her back once again. Tightening the straps until they almost caught off her circulation.

She felt much more confident now that she was in her costume, at least she didn't have to worry about anyone seeing her face and only two people who would know the face under the mask if someone wore to get a picture of her were back on the east coast. She didn't think they would turn her in.

Scampering back up the wall she slipped through the open window, out into the darkness and up to the roof. Keeping low she reached the edge of the building, in what for most people would be a sprint, and surveyed the land beyond.

A hundred feet of completely open compound lay between her and the perimeter fence. She could cover the ground easily in four jumps. Unfortunately the watch towers thirty feet apart, with their flood lights staggered so every other one is circling in opposite directions, would spot her by the second leap.

Of course she could always do her impersonation of a spider on hot tin roof and try and dodge the bright lights that turned night into day. She could do a slow crawl, but that had the appeal of a root canal without the novocain. Not that she has ever experienced a root canal first hand but she's heard about them from people who have.

Or she could simply time it right, as soon as the flood lights swept past drop to the ground, sprint for the fence, jump it, and get into the woods all before the flood lights pick her up on the other side. It wasn't like it would be impossible for her. Her last recorded time she had achieved sprinting a hundred meters she had been seven point six four seconds. And she had only been trotting.

This isn't even a hundred meters, she reminded herself. Fifty yards, and that's a big maybe. Her blood began to pump faster; her breathes came in quicker gasps as she began to anticipate the race ahead and psyched herself up. The lights cruised by, bathing the ground below in brilliant light only to have it swallowed in darkness a heartbeat later. Here's to hoping they don't have any kind of motion detectors?

Without pause she dropped soundlessly to the ground, running the moment her foot touched the coarse gravel. She easily out distances the circling lights. Seeing the height of the fence though and she realized she had misjudged its height and now she has to reformulate her plan somewhat.

Leaping nearly thirty feet straight up she was still a good ten feet short of the fences pinnacle. From each wrist she shot out a thin, ultra strong line of webbing. Each strand attached itself to a tower as she began to fall back to earth.

Like rubber bands they stretched with May's sleight weight until they reach their limit. Springing back upwards they launched her high into the air. She flipped, angling herself over the fence. As she sailed through the air May watched the light close in on her position.

Again, like she has this entire trip, she wondered if she has made the right decision. So far she has been jumping from one bad situation into something that has had the potential to be even worse. And this one doesn't look like it was going to get better any time soon.

She hit the ground and launched herself into the tree line a bare fraction of a second before the area illuminated by the harsh artificial light.

Conner slid into the shadows avoiding the sky cam with ease. Pulling the collar of his dark duster up around his ears he managed to obscure most of his face and hide nearly all of his dark, lank, shoulder length hair. The sky cam floated past, completely uninterested in him. Stepping out of the alley and back into the flow of the foot traffic along the street her searched for a place he could gather his wits and formulate a plan of action without fear of detection as he began down the street. Grime filled water splashed unnoticed under his feet.

Moving with an excessively cocky stride, as if everything he saw was his for the taking. That there wasn't a thing anybody would be able to do to stop him if he decided to take it. It's an arrogance that has been drilled into him his entire life. With the sports he played; how he performed on the field, the grades he maintained in school. Everyone has always treated him with a reverent like deference.

People tend to notice that about him, even when they had no idea – no way of comprehending – what it was they were seeing, and give him a wide berth because of it. Even in places like this, where people have little to lose, they let him have his space. They watch him as he passed with hungry eyes weighing him, waiting for him to stumble, the tiniest of missteps. Just one foot to be put wrong before pouncing on him like a pack of ravenous dogs.

Conner continued to scan the area, looking for anything that might be a restaurant or a pub or anyplace he could get something to eat. After running around the city all day he needed to refuel and recharge his batteries.

A few blocks away he can hear raucous laughter, the din of music and revelry. Deciding it was as good a place as any to check out he followed the sound and the smell. The sign atop the building proclaimed it to be the Crash.

Conner smiled at the appropriateness of the name as he crossed the hard black top.

"Thank you," Bella Donna said with a friendly smile to the attentive waiter as he placed their order on the table. A warm, inviting twinkle sparkled in her eyes.

He smiled back flashing a gleaming set of flawless pearl white teeth at her.

"Hey mate," Christian started off in a friendly, yet quite belligerent tone as he leaned in slightly pulling the servers attention to him and away from his sister. "You've got something stuck between your teeth."

Bella Donna frowned at Christian, a very vex look creased her brow. "No, he doesn't," she practically growled warning her older brother – who was only older then her by a few seconds – off.

Christian ignored the unspoken threat with a very practiced ease. He gave a little, almost apologetic shrug despite the fact there is very little apology in his next words and an evil light glinting in his aqua colored eyes. "Sorry, must be my precognition kicking in again. Because I could've sworn I saw my fist there in only a few more seconds."

"Chris," Bella Donna scolded in a perfect imitation of their mother's tone. The irritation written over her face is obvious to anyone looking. "I'm so sorry," she said turning to the waiter, flashing him her most brilliant smile. Then with all seriousness she said, "It's the embolism in his brain. Mother's consulted the best doctors the world over, but there's simply nothing that can be done. Well except for drilling a hole clean through his skull, they all agreed that would relieve the pressure, but Mother would have none of it."

Patrick glanced from one to the other. "Whatever," he muttered flipping his towel onto his shoulder. Whatever was going on between the two of them; he had absolutely no desire to get caught in the middle of it. The girl was definitely one fine looking lady. Golden hair, like a never ending wheat field bathed in the soft afternoon sun. Someone had taken a lot of time to weave it into hundreds, if not thousands of tight, thin braids. Some of which reach her waist. She had the biggest, roundest doe eyes he has ever seen, the color of shifting turquoise; now with a hint more blue, or a touch more green, depending how the light took them. Eyes that would make it damn near impossible for anybody to ever say no to her. A small button nose and a tiny mouth that fit perfectly in her doll like oval face.

Her body was one that just didn't know the meaning of the word quit. Trim and athletic, long shapely legs. Her halter top exposed a well defined, but not overly rippling midsection. Her breast, while not large are definitely more then just a handful and extremely pert and perky.

"He's cute," she hissed at Christian. Her voice losing the polish that Uncle Julian had taught them. Not that Christian ever used that polish. He much preferred to affect a rougher, more intimidating accent, what Julian called a cockney accent. Dawn said when he talked like that he sounded very much like their father, Spike. At times she found her brother to be just a tad bit overbearing. Especially this entire trip. If it were possible she would say he's been even more overprotective then their mother. So much so that she had begun contemplating leaving him behind someplace or going off on her own. The only problem with that plan was the fact he's as good of a tracker as she is.

Christian smirked at Bella Donna as he hefted his hamburger; at least he thought it had been made from beef. "Noticed that," he replied indifferently just before he bit down into the unknown meat sandwiched between two buns; grease and juices ran down his chin.

"I was going to ask him to dance," she informed him as he picked up a napkin and wiped the spillage off his chin.

"Figured that," he remarked locking eyes with her for several seconds. He reached out, picked up the pitcher of beer and took a long pull. Placing it back on the table he looked at her with something like pity filling his eyes. His voice lost the rough edge as he said, "Donna. You know I can't let you dance with somebody that good looking. We're in enough trouble as it is. If mom were to find out I let that happen she'd pin my ears to the wall. Then stop being pleasant."

This was their first real experience in the real world without any family. The one time they had attend school ended after just a few hours, during recess.

Christian had been playing dodge ball with the fifth graders and they were getting mad at him because nobody could hit him with the ball and he wouldn't come down off the wall he was scurrying all over.

A fourth grade boy, one of many, that was watching the incident had called him a mutant freak. That somebody should call the cops, or better the marines, because the marines knew how to deal with abominations like Christian. He had then pantomimed shooting a gun at Christian. The fourth graders all laughed at, some of them forced, but most had that unnerving quality of heartfelt sincerity.

Bella Donna had only been a few feet away from the boy at the time overheard him the entire exchange and took offense to it and marched herself up to him. She tugged on his arm to turn him around and had just about jerked him off his feet. His big, fat hand was held firmly in her much smaller hand, and his face was turning red from the force she was exerting on his fleshy paw. Normally the top of her head would barely reach the bottom of his chest, now he could look her square in her smoldering amber eyes.

"You're a mean bully," She told him with a type of deadly seriousness only a five year old could managed, "and your breath smells like dead frogs, and I don't like you very much." With that she had shoved him away. Twenty feet away from her before he hit the fifteen foot high chain linked fence that separated the play ground from the teacher's parking lot half way up and bounced back. His fall was only partially broken by the soft, grass covered earth.

They would have been kicked out of the school if their mom hadn't pulled them out. She had been in a barely controlled fury when she stormed into the office. The principle had approached her, but one murderous look had sent the man slithering back into his hole. Neither of them had ever learnt his name and the words her mother called him couldn't be repeated at least not without receiving a lecture about using vulgar and profane language. After she heard what happened she tore into the principle, threatened to sue him, the school, the state, the parents of the other students involved for running an institution that allowed racism and bigotry to proliferate like maggots on rotting meat. At the time she had thought the man was going to fall to his knees and beg her forgiveness, because while their mother wasn't as tall as most of the big people she could be very, very scary.

Of course they hadn't escaped unscathed either. That night mom had a very serious conversation with them about what it was like be different from other people. How they had to be better then other people and not giving in to the temptation of using their gifts to hurt normal people, or forcing them to do what they didn't want. She told them that most people, when they were faced with something they didn't understand often feared it, or resented it, and would eventually try to do it harm, even going so far as to try and kill it. That they would have to be very, very careful in not letting other people find out about their special gifts. But she also told them that they shouldn't allow people to bully, but that they should be smarter then the racist, bigots, and bullies. She made sure that they were not ashamed of their gifts, told them that they should be proud they were special and different.

The next day however a very smart, highly educated English woman, whose skin was the color of dark mocha, arrived at their loft to begin their education. Christian always said she reminded him of a young Whoopi Goldberg; a little thinner, with a slightly smaller head, but bigger – saucer sized – hazel eyes, and flowing raven black hair. Her voice had a musical quality very reminiscent of wind chimes. Her name was Jesse Adaire, and Uncle Julian had arranged for her. She was the first in a long line of teachers they would have over the next ten years, but she was their first, the one that stayed with them the longest, and the one they remembered the best.

Bella Donna looked at him with skepticism. She has no doubts what-so-ever that they are in for the grounding of a lifetime – maybe several lives – once they return home, but she knew full well the chance of their mother ever physically harming them were about equivalent of the Red Sox ever winning a world series. It might happen someday, but a hundred and however many years since the last one they won said otherwise.

"Fine. Who in this place can I dance with?" She inquired as the main door swung open admitting a young man in his early twenties. Tall, six foot one, six foot two. His long black hair looked as if it hasn't been washed in days. More then a few of the lank locks fall in front of his dark eyes forcing him to either ignore them or brush them back. He chose the later. His features are lean, chiseled. Despite the long trench coat it's easy to tell he possessed a long, lean body.

"Him," Christian finally answered pointing across to where a tall, lanky young man, with a ski cap covering a shock of unwashed dirty blonde hair, was performing simple tricks on an all terrain bicycle. Making his decree Christian picked up his pitcher of beer and took another pull.

Her malevolent, nearly malicious scowl slid off Christian as he placed the pitcher back on the table. He doesn't even acknowledge it as he lifted his burger and tore another chunk out of it. "Fine," she finally murmured standing up and shrugging off her full length, black leather duster. She tossed it onto the back of the chair she had been sitting in. "Keep an eye on my coat."

Christian shook his head ruefully. He had picked just about the ugliest guy in the room that he could find without being blatantly obvious about it. He had thought Bella Donna would go after the guy even if it was for no other reason then to show him he wouldn't be able to ruin her fun.

Conner stepped into the club, the only sound marking his passage was the bell over the door ringing as the wood tapped it. There was something inside the building that resonated within him. A pulling in his blood. A sharp tug deep in his bones. A stirring in the very core of his being.

He had felt it outside, while he had been approaching the building, but that had been weak compared to what he was feeling now. It practically pulsated inside of him.

Casually he strode down the short flight of stairs and scanned the crowd of young people. About thirty in all, either in their late teens or in their early twenties, but only a bare handful drew his attention, The tall – for a woman anyway – blonde who wore her hair braided. She had watched him come in. Her brother, his dirty blonde hair was clipped short and a light layer of stubble protruded from his chin. Their skin had a nearly alabaster quality to it, like it had never seen the light of day.

There was a supple bodied, raven hair girl in her early twenties that was surrounded by a group of friends laughing and drinking. In stark contrast to the siblings her skin held a deep, healthy looking tan.

There were also two men that attracted his notice. While their clothes said they belonged in this club, they screamed they didn't. Their bodies were far too tense for the relaxed atmosphere and they showed just a bit too much age. If he had to guess he had say they were government agents and if he hadn't been positive nobody knew he was in town he would suspect they are here for him, but they were paying just a bit too much attention to Max, that was what the raven haired friends had called her.

He took it all in at a glance as he wove his way through the semi-crowded club. Reaching the bar he quickly found himself a stool. "A burger and a beer," he told the bartender as he passed in front of him. "Not necessarily in that order," he added after a brief pause. Until he got his beer a few minutes later he was sure if the man had heard him or not.

"Come on," Bella Donna commanded in her best petulant voice as Sketchy hopped off his bike. It had the sound of getting what it wanted more often then not.

Sketchy gazed at her with hungry, but cautious eyes. There were just way too many stories circulating about mutants and genetic freaks for him to feel comfortable taking somebody at face value. "What?" He had to shout over the music to make himself heard.

Bella Donna rolled her eyes slightly sensing his hesitation. "I want to dance and you are it," she informed him in a none too subtle tone.

He grinned, chuckling lightly. "All right. Who put you up to it?" He inquired, his tone wary, but amused as well. He glanced towards Max, OC, and the rest of the crew from JamPony as he continued, "which one of my so called friends…"

"Look," Bella Donna cut him off beginning to get irritated. The irritation in her voice caused him to blink in apprehension. Pointing at Christian she said, "You are cutest ugly guy here and the only one my brother will allow me to dance with."

Sketchy glanced in the direction her finger indicated and picked out a young man with close cropped dirty blonde hair looking back. He waved with one hand while wiping his chin off with the other. He shifted his gaze back to her, "Look I'm in the middle of a competition." He pointed at the table where a large pile of cash sat. "It's a winner take all, kind of thing."

"Really," Belle Donna murmured with a speculative smile spreading across her lips. "And just what is it that one must do in order to win?"

Sketchy grinned, a wide smile. "A bike stunt."

"A bike stunt. That's it?" She questioned with a nearly childlike innocence.

Somebody chuckled as someone else says, "yeah one that can't be duplicated by anyone else."

"And if I can do that I'd win all that money?" Her voice continued to hold its deceptive naivety.

"You gotta ante up first."

"Check that out," Max said pointing across the bar at the gaggle of gamblers. "Seems Sketchy's made himself a friend."

OC tilted her head back slightly following Max's gesture, and then nearly fell out of her chair once her rested on the exquisite, golden hair beauty talking to Sketchy. Without thinking about it she let out a low whistle of appreciation. "Now she can keep my bed warm any time she wants," she murmured lustily.

Max chuckled at the comment. "I think the fact she's talking to Sketchy…"

"Give her one night with Sketchy and I can guarantee she'll be playing for my side," she cut in with confidence.

Max's dark eyes go wide as she gaped at her friend's remark. Even OC gave a little start after a she made it. "That was a tad cold girl."

OC nodded saying, "I know. But it's true." Her eyes narrowed as Bella Donna took hold of Sketchy's bike. "What's she doing?" She inquired with mounting curiosity. Then Bella Donna hopped onto the borrowed bike with a grace and fluidity that both women found eerily familiar.

Effortlessly the bike lifted up onto its back wheel as Bella Donna balanced on the handlebars with her toes pointing straight up at the rafters. More then a few stunned gasps fill the air as a spattering of applause rise out of the assembled crowd. Then slowly she began pedaling the air rapidly gaining speed. The bike never wavered.

OC looks back at Max. "Can you do that?" She asked in a soft hiss. Max nodded never taking her eyes off Bella Donna. "Is she one of you then?"

"Too young to be an X5," Max whispered. "An X6 maybe, but none of us would be so blatant. There might be humans who can… Mutants? But even they'd be more circumspect then this."

Suddenly the girl pressed down then quickly bounced upward. Flipping the front wheel downward she somersaulted upward. The front wheel touched the floor, the back wheel pointing straight up, her right index finger came to rest on the rear tire as she balanced precariously while rolling back and forth slightly

The crowd erupted in an explosion of applause.

With the exception of a few people. Conner sitting at the bar, watched with a keen eye as he finished his beer, was one of those few. He's also one of the only people that can make out the small smirk playing on her lips. It's obvious to him that she was holding back. That to her this might not be anything more difficult then a simple training exercise.

OC watched in awe. Even Max has to admit a grudging amount of respect for the girl's skill while she tried to formulate a plan of action and judge what her chances might be if she were forced to fight the blonde.

Christian however scowled at his sister's actions. He downed the last of his beer, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he rose to his feet. At a couple of inches under six feet and just over two hundred pounds of hard, lean muscle nobody would ever account him a large man. His heavy black duster adding bulk to what most would likely consider a slight frame.

He snagged his sister's nearly identical duster from the back of her chair and easily wove his way through the crowd milling around. "It's time to go," he said tossing Bella Donna her coat with barely a glance in her direction as he cast a surreptitious glance around the bar noting everyone who was paying a bit too much attention to them.

"What?" She demanded in surprise snatching her duster out of the air. The back tire dropped to the ground as she landed sitting on the seat still keeping the bike perfectly balanced. Only now she is wearing her duster.

In a hushed whisper so soft only six people in the room can hear his words. "We came here looking for the source of the rumors not to start another one."

"Fine," she murmured. "Sorry Sketchy, but it doesn't look like we're going to be able to enjoy that dance. My brother here has decided to play mother hen so I have to go."

Sketchy frowns at her as he asks, "How'd you know my name?"

Bella Donna picked up the money, began to neatly fold the bills. With a shrug she said, "Heard one of your friends call you that."

Christian grabbed her by the upper arm. "Pleasure meeting the lot of you," he said with a slight nod of his head. "Now if you'll bugger the hell off," he finished shouldering his way through the crowd as he dragged Bella Donna toward the door.

Conner waited a very short second after the door closed before following them. It hadn't taken him much effort to figure out that they are what he has been feeling. Which meant they might have the answers he was looking for.

"I've got to find them," Max informed OC. "If somebody doesn't…" She stopped watching the tall dark haired man ghost across the floor.

OC also watched the man with frown. "Seems like you're not the only one interested in the wonder twins."

"So I noticed," she murmured.

"You be careful girlfriend," she whispered giving Max's hand a tight squeeze.

Max smiles asking, "Aren't I always?"

His black leather duster flaring at the bottom as he shoves his hands into the pockets. Christian shook his head muttering, "For such a supposedly bright bird you can be pretty thick at times."

"I don't see what all the drama is about," Bella Donna began with a truck load of sarcasm lacing her words. "I wasn't doing anything other people aren't capable doing." She turned her head to glare at Christian, her thin braids swaying with the movement.

"With a lifetime worth of training," he snorted. "Just what were you planning on telling them when they asked where you learnt to do that?"

"The truth," she shoots back. "That I've been in training since I was old enough to walk." Her nostrils flared slightly. "You do realize we're being followed?"

"Ever since we left the Crash," he answered with a nod.

"They feel strange… Familiar almost, but…" She began but faltered as she can't really pinpoint exactly what it was she felt.

Christian nodded again, a very serious look on his face. "I know what you mean."

Bella Donna smiled at her older brother. "This one's mine. Just like we agreed."

A long suffering sigh slipped past Christian's slightly parted lips as he tilted his head skyward. Glancing back down he conceded the point saying, "Fine. But just remember. I'll be watching." With that he jumped away and in defiance of the natural laws of gravity – which hold little sway over him and his sister – he briefly clung to the side of the building. Powerful muscles quickly propel him up the building's face in leaps and bounds.

Bella Donna watched him disappear over the roof with a pleasant smile warming her face. She was rather pleased with the fact that he wasn't here. While she loves him to death she found he can be just tad stifling with that I'm older therefore you have to do what I say. It's really their mother's fault. If she wasn't always going on and on about what a heroic figure their father had been, how he died saving the world and did so many other nobler, more selfless acts, though how somebody can do something that is more selfless or nobler then giving their life to avert the end of the world she doesn't know and neither Mom or Aunt Dawn are talking.

Leaning against a signpost, one of the few she has seen in this city, she crossed her arms over her chest and settled in to wait. Her turquoise eyes pierced the darkness better then state of the art night vision goggles. For her there never really was such a thing as the dark.

She doesn't have to wait very long before spotting the young man that has been driving her senses crazy since he entered the crash. Tall, dark hair, dark clothes. Walking towards her at a good clip.

Conner slowed his approach seeing the girl waiting for him. He should have suspected she would be able to feel him just like he could her and her brother. He scanned the area, his eyes roving, taking in everything, but the boy wasn't anywhere close by.

"Looking for anything in particular, or will any young girl do?" She inquired baitingly once she's sure he was close enough to hear her.

His scowl swept over her, his glare intensifying as he focused on her, but if it affected her he can't tell. "Who are you?"

Straightening Bella Donna's smile became nearly disarming. She took a pair of slow, calculated steps forward. "Isn't that the eternal question?" She inquired playfully. "Who am I? Who is anyone really?"

His scowl deepened at her flippancy. "I'm looking for answers to some questions and I think you just might have them. Only question for you is how much you bleed before giving them to me?"

Bella Donna took a deep, almost shuddering breath. "I love it when a man talks tough. Gets me all excited," she replied saucily. Taking a few more steps closer she let her arms hang loose at her side, her posture cautious, but unafraid.

"You'd be doing yourself a huge favor by not making yourself my enemy," Conner informed her as he began to advance on her position. His anger is a near palpable sensation growing stronger with each step he took.

"I think that's a risk I'm more then willing to take," she replied in a soft whisper.

With the speed of a lightening strike she flipped up and backward grasping the signpost with a feather light grip to swing around and propel herself at Conner. He easily slipped to the side, grabbing hold of Bella Donna by her Duster's collar and right leg. Pivoting on the proverbial dime he whirled back around whipping her into the steel post. It crumpled under the high speed impact.

"I told you, you didn't want me for an enemy. I'm not some weak little human like you're use to dealing with," he sneered derisively as he stalked forward.

Bella Donna shook he head as she climbed back to her feet. A small smirk turned the corners of her lips upward. "What? You think that's going to impress me?" She questioned with a snort. "Please. I've hit my head harder falling out of bed in the morning. Now you wanna do this or should I go find myself a troupe of girl scouts that'll give me more of a challenge?"

Max thought she had lost the trio but the sudden sounds of combat proved that she had been on the right track after all. How much ground the three of them had covered was a surprise to the transgenic?

Silently she cursed herself for being too lax. She was so use to being able to pace the people she's following with ease she hadn't thought anything about them getting too far ahead. This would teach her about taking things for granted.

She stopped as a faint scent reached her. Pivoting back the way she came; Max blinked taking in the lean, young man, dressed head to toe in black, that was standing no more then half a dozen feet away.

Taking a quick, startled step back. She stopped herself before she can take a second, steeling herself for the conflict she expected. She can't believe she hadn't heard him come up behind her, if not for a shift in the wind she still wouldn't know he had been there.

Christian took a staggering, almost drunken, step forward. "If you're going to keep following me around I'm going to start thinking you want to get all… Chummy," he remarked suggestively allowing his eyes to rove her body.

Max's face scrunched up in disgust as she took Christian in again. "You're what, sixteen?"

"Fifteen," he answered with an indifferent shrug. "Few more weeks anyway."

A small frown creased Max's lips. Almost sixteen would put him at the right age, but he just didn't feel like one of them. Especially not one that just gained their freedom little more then a week ago. He's too flippant, too self assured, too worldly, and yet too innocent all at the same time.

"Who are you?" She demanded deciding to take the direct approach.

"Why is it that's always the first thing anybody ever asks?" Christian pondered thoughtfully. "It's never what's your shoe size, or do you like anchovies on your pizza?"

"Are you trying to provoke me?" Max inquired disbelievingly.

Christian smirked as he asked, "Is it working?"

Her head rolled back allowing her to stare heaven ward as she blew out a disgruntle breath and mumbled a dispirited, "Why me?" In near silence.

"Why not you?" Christian answered with a question all his own.

Max snapped her head back down in order to glare at the young man standing in front of her. "I'm not going to fight you," she informed him. Her tone firm, stern, not allowing for any argument or debate on the subject.

"Guess we can always do this another way," he mused.

A highly dubious expression settled in Max's dark eyes. "Do what?" She requested suspiciously.

"Exchange information," he replied with a teenager's exuberance. In a breathless rush he quantified his statement by adding, "In the movies, comics, even on TV. When two of the stars meet for the first time there's always this huge knock down, drag out fight where they beat the crap out of each other."

"This ain't the…"

"Hide and seek," he cut her off in a sudden burst.


He grinned widely at his own brilliance. "It's simple really. One of us hides and the other one tries to find the one hiding."

Max swallowed hard remembering a similar game Lydecker use to have them play. Only it had been called something different, something much more ominous and very militaristic. Seek and Destroy. "I don't think I like the sound of that game," she murmured in a harsh whisper knowing it will reach his ears.

"But I've already found you once," he complained. His voice shifting between what it has always been and what it is going to become. "You have to at least tell me your name."

Max frowned lightly at the earnest request, there was just something disarming about the innocent, yet demanding way he asked. Still she wasn't sure if she wanted this obviously dangerous, possibly derange kid knowing who she was. "Max."

A quizzical frown creased Christian's face, from his brow to his chin. "That's a strange name for a girl," he mumbled.

"What's your name?" She asked quickly hoping she can catch him off guard and he'll reveal something about himself.

Christian waggled a finger at her saying, "You have to catch me in order to find that out."

An intense scowl cleaves Conner's face as his spinning back jump kick slammed into the Bella Donna's midsection sending her careening against the solid red brick wall, with enough force to send a crack spider webbing out from where she hit. Without a pause she latched on to the windowsill overhead and flipped herself up. The toe of her left foot caught Conner under his chin as he moved in with reckless abandon.

Conner flipped over with the force of the kick. Relying on his natural agility and balance he twist and turned in midair managing to land on his feet facing Bella Donna as she crouched low on the window sill, grinning like a cat just waiting to pounce.

It had become increasingly obvious through the course of their exchange that she was doing the same as him. Both were testing each other. When one of them picked the level of their combat up a notch the other was quick to respond.

So far there hasn't been a lot of conversation between them. Almost none. Which was just fine as far as Conner is concerned.

He knew he should stop the fight. Open a dialogue, establish a line of communication. Something along those lines, but there was just something about her that grates on his nerve.

Plus there was still that strange reverberation he can feel coursing deep in his bones. Like he should know her. Only she's about as familiar to him as the city they were in.

With a guttural shout he launched himself at her. Bella Donna giggled girlishly. An instant later she leapt upward scaling the building in great bounding and jumps.

Not to be out done Conner bounds after her, matching her move for move.

Low music, with a quick driving beet filled the confines of Nick's rather sparsely furnished pallor. An eighty's song about the trials of a young man moving to the Los Angeles, Hollywood area and becoming involved with a California debutante.

Ceirdwyn doesn't believe she has ever heard the song before, but that wasn't all that big of a surprise to her. She hadn't been that big a fan of modern music since the turn of the century. The last century. The twenties weren't that bad and the fifties had been a breath of fresh air. The sixties however ushered in an entire quagmire of music that I had no desire to keeping track of. Especially the last quarter of it. It had become a litany of one semi-talented musician copying another semi-talented musician and flooding the air waves and the market place.

She simply hadn't had the time to wade through the sea of mediocrity to find the few gems that had been out there in those previous decades. Now she wondered if maybe that had been a mistake on her part.

"So," Nick began in a slightly slurred voice as he handed her another beer. "Why'd you really track me down? And don't hand me that bull you're been spouting all night…"

"But you have been blessed…"

Nick shook his head mildly as he said, "Cursed is more like it."

"How old are you?" She asked quickly deciding it was about time to change track. They had been talking for hours now with little headway being made on her part.

He blinked, almost owlishly, several times as he found himself startled by her sudden switch. "Almost sixty," he answered sitting down on the opposite end of the sofa.

"You're not looking that bad for a man nearly eligible to collect social security," she replied just before taking a long pull from what they called beer in this century.

"You don't get it," he growled softly. "I wasn't given a choice…"

"None of us are," she cut in shifting slightly.

"She should've asked me," he spat out angrily. "There had been enough time for her to ask if this is the life I wanted, but she didn't. She made the choice herself, took it out of my hands."

"What did you expect? We are all greedy creatures. Some for money, some power. For others it's to keep the people we care for with us as long as possible."

Nick scoffed lightly as he took a pull from his beer. Her statement, no matter how much he doesn't want to admit, has the ring of truth to it. It had been more then a decade since he last saw anybody he had known before Amanda shot him effectively ending his life.

As if she could read his mind Ceirdwyn asked, "How long has it been since you've seen any of your old friends? A year? Ten? Twenty?" Her gaze took on a distant stare as she looked beyond him. "My husband Paul, it's been a little more then a score of years since he was murdered. Shot down in the streets for the money in his wallet." Her eyes shift back to him, tears held back by force of will alone. "A day hasn't gone by since then that I don't wish he was alive and well and standing by my side. I'd give just about anything to make that desire a reality."

A few tears begin to slide down her check no matter how hard she fought to hold them at bay. Without thinking about it, and not really knowing, or understanding, why, Nick reached out wiping the moisture from her face.

Feeling the contact being offered Ceirdwyn threw herself forward into Nick, who easily wrapped the warrior doctor up in his strong embrace. Ceirdwyn gazed up at the incredibly earnest face above her. Grasping the moment by the scruff of its neck she moved up capturing his lips with hers in a tentative, probing, but passion filled kiss.

At first Nick was startled by the action. True he had felt something between them, an attraction, a mutual desire, but he hadn't expected anything like this.

Not this quickly. Not at all really.

Still it didn't keep him from quickly responding with a force and vigor equal to her own.

The soft early morning light did little to burn off the light chill that had settled in the air overnight. May can't help but wonder if this was what every morning in the Pacific Northwest is like. After spending the night sleeping rough at more then a hundred feet in a hammock made of her own webbing that she had secured to one of the ancient redwoods that tower above the ground.

It reminded her why she hated camping when she had been a little girl. Waking up to the cold and damp and the insects, that constant feeling of being watched. No indoor plumbing. No public restrooms, which meant no toilets, and more importantly no toilet paper.

To say she was not having a pleasant time would be a gross understatement. She longed for a city – any city – with people and noises she's use to. Cars, yelling, gunshots, sirens, alarms, horns. Everything that was natural in the world.

Before climbing down from her resting place – not that she got a lot of rest – she had dressed in her street clothes. Hiking boots, jeans, tee shirt, and denim jacket. She also left on her costume, with the exception of her mask, since it was easily the warmest thing she owned.

She had been fortunate to find what looked like a recently traveled logging road after only a few minutes of roaming in the pre-dawn hours this morning. She had decided to follow it northward since that was the direction Seattle lays in.

The Redwoods had thinned out, replaced by more Fir and Spruce, but even those are giving way to large open fields that are in turn quickly swallowed back up by woodlands. At times May can hardly tell if she isn't wondering in aimless circles.

The only reason she knows she wasn't was because she continued to follow the logging roads, and while there are curves and bends in the road, they are to both the right and left and not just all uniformly in one direction.

With her head bowed slightly, her hands buried deep in her pants pockets and her second hand clutching the strap securing the knapsack slung over her shoulder, she continued hiking up the road at a disgruntle pace. She sent up the occasional spray of dirt and rocks as she took her frustration out on the helpless road with a few malicious kicks.

She grumbled to herself constantly, mainly about her own lack of intelligence for coming up here in the first place. Because she's so busy talking to herself, rattling on and on about her short comings, it takes her nearly an extra five minutes before she realized she can hear running water nearby. From ahead of her.

"Be nice to see something other then trees and grass and dirt," she muttered when what she really wants to see on the horizon is the sun glinting off a sea of steel, glass, and concrete skyscrapers that dwarf even the tallest tree she has seen so far. With a small sigh she continued on the way she's been going.

Another five minutes on she began to hear the soft, whispered sounds of conversation. She can't even begin to make out what's being said. The rushing water insured that, but May doesn't even worry about that. Her mind already showing her what she wants to see. A troupe of campers or hikers, or maybe a fishing party. It didn't really matter to her just so long as they had a way of reaching civilization and were willing to bring her along, or even just point her in the right direction.

She broke into a quick trot not wanting to miss what might be her only chance at being rescued. Rounding a bend in the road she spotted a brand new SUV; black paint, blacked out windows, heavy duty tires, a high band antenna, sitting on a long steel bridge that spanned the gulf over the swift moving river below.

Just beyond the SUV were a pair of similarly darkened vans with their noses pointed toward her. A large olive green tent took up the vast majority of the bridge, almost three quarters. Reaching from the rail on the right to within fifteen feet of the left hand rail. She can make out a few men moving around by the open back doors of one van.

That it looks like a trap, or a military operation doesn't even enter her mind as she approached the encampment, even though she moved in on the encampment with caution. An optimistic caution to be sure, but still caution.

Stepping onto the steel structure she shouted, "Hey!" hoping to get someone's attention.

A group of men, all wearing relatively expensive suits, pivot with a smoothness indicative of combat trained professionals. A nearly identical scowl appeared on the face of each man with the leader shouting, "Kill her!" In a harsh voice.

None of which was May even aware of as a mule size kick barreled through her brain as her precognitive ability, her Spider-Sense, went off. She ducked down as the bullet sailed through the space her head had just occupied. May doesn't stick around to see the leader, a lean jaw gentleman, with cold, calculating blue eyes and light brown hair shove the gun arm down and hiss, "Quietly," at the man who just fired.

White's eyes continue to follow May as she darted into the woods. She had been ducking as the gun had been leveled at her and the trigger squeezed, nobody else would have been able to see that. Most would just assume it had been a bad shot and she had been lucky. Now she was moving through the sparse under brush with speed and agility that matched one of the x series. Only she wasn't one. He had made a point of memorizing each and everyone of those abominations.

"What the…" Otto, his underling, muttered as the girl's speed practically blurred her movements.

"At least she's on that side of the bridge," White remarked dryly. "Send out a squad of sevens. They'll bring her down fast enough."

Logan growled deep in his chest as he watched the bridge. The stench of cordite was thick in the air, almost strong enough for him to taste it deep in his throat. That wasn't even near close to being the strongest aroma in the area. The one that made the hackles rise on the back of his neck.

That honor belonged to the blood that has been spilled here over the past few hours. Just about the same time he had crossed the river nearly sixty miles upstream.

The stench of children dying.

It had been a long night for him in which sleep was a commodity in dwindling supply. The air had been filled with a low level harmonics that steadily pounded its way into his skull making sleep all but impossible. He doesn't have a clue as to the source of the harmonics or what, if anything, they're supposed to signify. For all he knows they might be nothing more then an invisible fence meant to keep the local animals out. Or they could hold some darker meaning.

He had stumbled upon this place when a single gunshot had drawn his attention almost fifteen minutes ago. The tent was an obvious blind, not even decently camouflaged. Even at this distance he can pick up half a dozen individual scents. The cologne of choice, a couple of old military favorites, Old Spice and English Leather.

Whoever this ambush is set for, another group of kids, they're suppose to think it's a friendly encampment and walk right into the killing field without suspecting a thing. A primitive snarl rumbled deep in his chest. Not if I have any say here.

Divesting himself of his coat, flannel and undershirt, boots and socks, leaving himself in just a pair of denim jeans he ignored the cold and made his way to the bridge; moving through the underbrush silently, without rustling even the smallest branch. Unobserved by anyone on the bridge he slipped to the underside of the structure.

Crawling along the bridge's underbelly Logan easily covered the distance to the approximate location of the tent. Swinging himself onto the side he used every available hand, finger, and toe hold to scale the fifteen feet to the lip of the rail.

Taking a quick peak to ensure the coast was clear he silently heaved himself over the side. The sound of his bare feet slapping against the bare metal was swallowed by the roar of the water surging past below. It's the same a moment later as his adamatium claws slide free of their housings inside his forearms.

The aroma of rotting flesh filled his nostrils. One of the black vans was holding close to two dozen bodies. Inside the tent he can hear the coarse jokes and laughter from the soldiers about the stunned look on the faces of a bunch of freaks as they were gunned down, getting what they deserved.

The only regret any of them expressed was about the one that got away. Surprised was evident in their voices when they mention that the sevens hadn't brought it back yet. A loud growl boiled up past his lips as their words set his blood on fire.

A savage slash of his claws sliced through the canvas tent and the soldier standing on the other side. His pain filled death gasp is cut short as Logan burst through the opening he just made.

Shouts and cries, screams of rage and pain soon fill the tent. Gunshots rang out quick and rapid as five men fire in a frenzy as they try to stay alive.

White whipped around at the sudden and highly unexpected sounds of combat. His gun seemed to fly into his hands, his second in command only an instant behind him. Another pair of the FBI's special agents burst out of the second van.

In under a minute the tent goes silent. A shambling shuffle reaches White's ears and he tensed as it came closer. The canvas wall bulges outward slightly as someone stumbles into the side. The person slid to the right, a moving bulge, until they reached the flap.

"Barker," Otto gasped as the man he named, what was left of the soldier, stumbled out. Three long gashes stretch from the back of his head to his left check, his ear hanging on in three different pieces, his left eye socket a bloody mess, his blood soaked left arm is draped across his abdomen in an attempt to keep his intestines inside his body while still trying to hold onto his pistol, his right arm nothing more then a stump ending just below his elbow. Even White grimaced at the sight before him.

"He's," the word gurgled up past his lips. "He… Die," he stumbled forward. "Shot… Killed… Ugh!" Three razor sharp blades punch through his chest, blood gurgled out of his mouth. They suddenly retract, the sound of metal grinding against metal filled White's ears, as Barker fell in a boneless heap to the ground.

Logan stood before them; a dark angel of death come to extract his price. Blood covered him nearly head to toe – some of it his own, most of it however belonged to other people, people that now, with the exception of Barker, lay dead inside the tent. A handful of small rapidly closing bullet holes dot his chest.

White stared looking for any sign of the blades he wields, but like with the injuries they're nowhere to be seen. He instantly recalled a mercenary Manticore had contracted back when they were first getting off the ground. A brute of a man with the incredible capacity to heal from anything.

Manticore hadn't been able to isolate the man's genetic anomaly and had gone back to the drawing board.

White didn't believe he was facing the same man Manticore had used all those years ago, but it's just as obvious the man in front of him shares similar traits. His grimace solidified into a sneer. A mutant, as much an abomination as the Manticore freaks he has been assigned to terminate. The one created by God, the other man.

A bare fraction of a second passed before White squeezed the trigger of his nine millimeter automatic pistol. The bullet slams into Logan's chest; blood erupts from the wound as he staggered back a step.

Logan snarled as the wound closes. "Gonna take more then that boy."

"Fire!" White ordered, his own actions suiting his words as he opened fire. Three other guns quickly join the first.

Logan ducked avoiding the first salvo. White's aim shifted just as fast, his second shot just grazing Logan's shoulder as he darted forward, razor sharp adamatium blades springing from between his knuckles.

Davian yells, firing as rapidly as he's ever fired a gun before in his life as Logan closes with him, a feverish gleam burning in his eyes. Only a pair of bullets hit, which simply seemed to enrage him all the more. His yell stopped abruptly, with a harsh, brutal finality.

Three bullets rip into Logan's back driving him forward. Logan grabs hold of Davian's body. Whipping around he hurls it at Harper with enough force to drive them over the railing.

Otto emptied his clip into Logan's chest. Each bullet pushing Logan back a step while he stepped forward with each shot. "Fall! Go down… God damn it! Why won't you die?"

A loud click filled the air as his ammo ran out. Without breaking stride or hesitating he attacked with his bare hands; a series of rights and lefts that continue to drive Logan back while his body healed.

White stared in amazement. His own people have amazing recuperative abilities and a pain threshold that let them continue to function at optimum levels when a human would be dead, but even his people would be hard pressed to survive more then twenty rounds at just over point blank range, and if they did survive they would be in recovery close to three weeks not fully healed in less then a minute.

He had thought if he shot the man enough he would die just like all things. Now he has to rethink that plan.

Capture, study, and research. Find a way to kill him and everything like him.

Logan grabs Otto wrist twisting it savagely. His right fist, claws extended punches into Otto's midsection. Logan pulls him close, "Because you ain't good enough."

Logan extracts his claws. Otto dropped to his knees, a shocked expression washing over his face as he looks down at his blood drenched hands. He pivoted backwards to his right, claws springing back out slicing through the barrel of the gun only inches from his head.

Adamatium, the thought rockets to the front of his mind as his right foot smashed into Logan's chest knocking him back almost a foot. It's followed closely by another, the Weapon X Project. He remembered hearing rumors about an initiative to bind the unbreakable metal to a human skeleton.

The only problem had been finding somebody that could survive the procedure. It's obvious to White, from the man charging at him, that that problem had been solved.

He smoothly slipped to the left, a right left combination peppers the side of Logan's head to no real effect. White knew that with how things stood right now he had no real chance of surviving a prolonged fight, much less winning it. That the only chance he has right now is a strategic retreat.

He ducked under a viscous slash, Logan's knee crashed into his face, the impact not as violent as it could have been since White saw the blow coming and had already begun throwing himself back.

With a blood thirsty growl Logan rushed in, lunging, intent on burying his claws in White's chest. White caught Logan's wrist, somehow managing to plant his feet in Logan's gut. His legs coiled absorbing the impact as he rolled back and heaved launching Logan into the air over the bridge's side.

He watched; worry clear in his features as Logan made his bid to grab the railing. His fingers miss by only inches. His claws slice through the metal as if it were melted butter.

Springing to his feet he scanned the area. Unsurprisingly he's the only person on their feet. Moving quickly – he isn't fool enough to think a fall, even from this height, would be enough to do in Weapon X or that it would take him very long, a lot less time then any reinforcements he could called up, to get back here – he searched for any survivors. Even though they're only human they're still part of his command and if any of them are alive it was his responsibility to get them out.

"Hang in there," he whispers to Otto. The man took three foot long blades through his gut but is still alive. "We'll be out of hare in a minute," he adds just before moving on to check Davian and Harper.

He already knew Davian's condition, had seen the man opened up like a can of sardines. Shoving the body aside he stares down into Harper's lifeless eyes. His head lying in a pool of his own blood.

A couple seconds later White flipped the tent flap open, then lets it fall close on the carnage within. He's use to death and violence having grown up around them his entire life, but what went on inside the tent took it to a whole new level. It was primal, a degree of savagery unparalleled in his experience. Blood and gore decorate everything, and it was going to take a team of forensic experts to put everyone back together again.

He turned on his heel, marching back to Otto. With deft care he got him to his feet. A last look around and he's moving again, formulating a plan to capture the mutant. If not capture, then kill it. Even his amazing recuperative, healing powers had to have their limits. It was just a matter of finding them.