Written by Darkstorm5000
Disclaimer: X-Men Evolution, the X-Men, and other related characters in their various incarnations are the property of Marvel Entertainment Group and Film Roman Productions, are used without permission and not for profit.
Chapter 1- Another Part of Me
Just off the coast of the tiny island nation of Madripoor, the freightliner christened the S.P.M. Sovereign Lady is slowly hauling its substantial cargo in to the independent principality's main sea-port. But the unsuspecting crew of this ship, who themselves were now more pre-occupied with anticipation of soon being able to step foot back onto dry land again than anything else, were blissfully unaware that they had brought along with them additional cargo in the form of two stowaways. Which is what their unauthorized guests were, despite the well-intentioned reason and purpose behind their sneaking aboard this freighter before its departure out to sea.
For these two water-weary travelers, it had been an extended journey over these last several days that had given them more than ample opportunity to reflect on the circumstances that had brought them all of the way to this region of the Asian-Pacific rim. And, time enough to come to terms with what their next move would be upon their arrival. For the man known as Logan, a name he has gone by for as far back as his troubled memories will allow, he realizes and understands perfectly what they're doing here.
And more importantly, exactly what it is that they're here to do.
For a simple reminder of those facts, all Logan need do is take a quick glance across the broad interior of this SHIELD-modified shipping container, which for the duration of this voyage has served as a shared living-quarters for him and the young girl currently seated atop the other cot in there. A girl who, while dressed in a casual pair of green-blue plaid boxers and a plain white tank-top that seemed to fashionably compliment Logan's own white muscle-undershirt and faded jeans, herself also bore a strikingly uncanny resemblance to him.
For Laura, which for her has been the only other name that she's ever known besides the X-23 designation assigned to her at birth, it is because of everything that has happened in her short life since that fateful day that she has come here to Madripoor. That, she has come here to find the woman responsible for heaping such horrendous abuse and mistreatment upon her during her upbringing, the woman formerly known as Madame Hydra.
After learning that the now ex-HYDRA leader had survived the destruction of one of their airborne motherships, just as Laura had also managed to do, Logan knew that it was less than a matter of time before his young companion would find her way here. His only hope was that Laura's coming here to seek out this woman, who was now operating under the slightly more serpentine, yet equally as appropriate alias of Viper, wouldn't end up undoing all of the progress that she had made in working to create a new life for herself in Bayville. That even though they were here 'officially' to help Nick Fury and SHIELD break up Viper's illegal smuggling operation, Logan knew that this was really about things far more personal than that between their primary target and Laura. And, was the overriding impetus behind Logan's decision to tag along with her for the ride.
Logan couldn't find the words to express the pride that he had felt in watching just how much Laura had grown and changed (for the better, he might add) in these last few months. Now, she was so far-removed from that withdrawn and isolated young lady that she was in those days when she had first come to live at the Xavier Institute, and he'd be damned if he was going to idly stand by and watch her just throw all of that away!
Especially, since Logan blamed himself for the disturbing state that Laura had fallen into when he found her months ago working out on that street-corner in the middle of the night, on the verge of an emotional breakdown and no longer able to cope with who she was or with the unspeakable acts of violence that she had been made to commit on HYDRA's behalf. Logan swore to himself from that point on that never again would he leave this young girl to feel as though she were alone in all of this. That, she would know that she always had someone there that she could turn to, to count on, who could understand better than anyone what she'd been through.
"We'll be pullin' into port here pretty soon." Logan now said, as he briefly looked at the small screen of the handheld GPS device in his grasp, before tossing this piece of SHIELD-designed technology back over onto his own currently unoccupied cot.
"Yeah, I know." Laura succinctly replied without even looking up at him, hearing Logan's comment over the music coming from her pod-player through her headphones. Which, was cranked up to its maximum volume with Dazzler's latest single pumping through them.
Logan just looked over at this girl sitting cross-legged on top of her cot for a moment, who was simultaneously occupied with listening to her music and reading through some kind of fashion mag, knowing that her response wasn't intended to be some kind of smart-ass remark. Rather, that given her own extensive training and mutant hyper-senses, Laura had in all likelihood been taking mental notes of the freighter's traveling speed and was able to calculate their estimated time of arrival herself.
Before turning back in his seat to look at the flat-screen television suspended from hydraulic ceiling-mounts above, where a pirated television signal was currently broadcasting a language-dubbed rerun of a classic SNL episode featuring John Belushi and a samurai-sword at the moment, Logan once again took notice of that petite girl seated across from him. Of particular note now were the numerous chocolate-bar wrappers scattered on the cot around her, one of the several small amenities afforded to them out in this climate-controlled steel shipping crate.
It seemed that Laura had as of late developed a strong inclination for chocolate, partially because they were a guilty pleasure that had been denied her until coming to live at the Institute. But like her pod-player, they were now another favorite item of her's. So much so, that Laura was rarely seen around the mansion without a candy bar in her possession. And much to the chagrin of the majority of her female classmates at the Institute, since Laura's accelerated metabolism allowed her to eat as much of it as she wanted without even the slightest hint of gaining an ounce of cellulite from them. But, Logan also saw that there was something else, something psychologically deeper going on in her behavior that bordered on, and probably crossed the line, into extreme over-indulgence.
Knowing first-hand how people, when while trying to kick one addictive habit can and often will wind up substituting in another one in its place, Logan wasn't too surprised by what he was seeing. Given what he knew about what Laura had been through, and taking into consideration the tremendous psychological scarring that the girl was obviously still struggling with. The fact that the self-inflicted physical slash-marks that had covered both of her arms when he initially found her this last time had by now completely disappeared, and that no new ones had been slit to take their place, Logan would contend that binging on junk-food was most likely the best of the coping alternatives that they could hope for in her case.
At least, for the time being.
A short time later the occupants of this specially-furnished freight container were now preparing to leave its confines, which would be for the first time in over a week, and begin the next phase of their mission.
"Ok, I'm ready." Laura now said, as she exited from the very modestly-sized lavatory within the container, now dressed in a sepia brown jacket-pant combo that she had just literally changed into within a matter of a couple of minutes after their ship had docked at port.
But, as she re-entered this general living area while pulling the zipper on the top-half of her form-fitting outfit up to its highest position just below her neckline and pulled her black-rimmed, orange-tinted astro sunglasses down into position from above her face, Laura saw that she wasn't the only one who had been making a wardrobe adjustment just now.
"What...is that supposed to be?" Laura suddenly asked, her composure now showing the briefest of disruptions as she tried to hide what appeared to be the sound of laughter.
It was a question that caught Logan a bit by surprise, as evidenced by his lack of any kind of immediate response. The astonishment that had washed over him came in part from the fact that he was unsure of what she was talking about. But mostly, it was because this was the first time that Logan could remember hearing anything that even closely resembled a heartfelt laugh coming from Laura.
"You wanna tell me what's so damn funny?" Logan replied, while non-chalantly leaning back up against a far side wall across from her. Although he was still wearing the same pair of jeans and white muscleshirt, he had gone and put on a faded gray windbreaker over it along with a matching gray bucket-hat.
But, what had managed to draw such an animated reaction from Laura was the other accessory that Logan was now sporting.
"What's that thing over your eye?" Laura went ahead and clarified for Logan, with the slightest hint of a giggle still evident in her voice as she pointed in his general direction.
"This? It's an eyepatch." Logan told her, as he grabbed it and stretched it out a few of inches in front of his face, before letting it snap back into place.
"I know what it is. What I'm wondering, is why in the world do you have one on?" Laura further explained.
"It's called a disguise. So, I can move around Madripoor incognito." Logan told her.
"Yeah, like no one's gonna recognize you just because you have that thing on." Laura snickered and more than eagerly pointed out for Logan's benefit, "Besides, it'd probably be more convincing if it didn't make you stick out even more like some lame-ass Nick Fury knock-off."
And with that Laura had unequivocally gotten her point across to Logan, judging by his momentary pause of contemplation, followed by his next reaction.
Was the expletive he exclaimed as Logan ripped his eyepatch off of his face, tossing it aside in favor of sporting a more...uncluttered look.
"You know, I think I'm startin' to miss those days when you hardly wanted to say anything, to anyone." Logan looked over and told Laura in a sarcastically-gruff tone, "C'mon, let's get goin'."
The pair then turned to head over towards the shipping container's escape hatch with Laura now following closely behind Logan, the both of them ready to get this show on the road.
After exiting the shipping container that they had called home for the first time in several days, Logan and Laura briefly stopped and silently stood on top of its rusting exterior to bask in the unfiltered nighttime air. Looking out past the hundreds of other similar containers surrounding them on the gigantic flat hull of this expansive freightliner, what they saw before them was a brightly-lit city teeming with life.
Or more accurately, what they saw was one-half of a city that exuded this pinnacle of modern architecture and technology. Which, stood in stark contrast to its almost step-sisterly other-half, as evidenced by the commensurably ramshackle and squalid state of this parallel lower portion of Madripoor's capital city. But, it was a side of the city that still beckoned to these two freshly arrived heroes, even if it did so in a manner uniquely exclusive to each.
"Wrong way, kiddo." Logan said to Laura after they had stealthily made their way off of the ship, and were now about to leave the docks to enter one of the adjacent avenues leading into Lowtown, "We need to be headin' down this way."
"I know where I'm going!" Laura replied, doing so in that special tone she used whenever she wanted to remind Logan that she wasn't just 'some kid', "I have old contacts over on the other side of Lowtown that I want to look up, see if I can dig up any useful info from them."
Then, just as she was about duck off into a darkened alley nearby, Laura turned back to say one more thing to her shipmate.
"I'll meet up with you later, back at the rendezvous point." Laura said while looking over her left shoulder back at Logan with a slight smirk on her face.
And with that, both it and her were just as quickly gone.
Left behind was a man, who when accompanied on missions by students' from the Institute, usually found himself falling into the role of field-instructor. Or in his words, of being a glorified babysitter. But Logan was well-aware of the fact that Laura was more than capable of holding her own in any combat situation. She should be, after-all, since she had been bred from birth to be the perfect little soldier.
The perfect killing machine.
And even as an old soldier himself, Logan had no qualms in admitting that her skills in the art of death rivaled his own, if not surpassed them in some ways. Which, is why he let her go off on her own without so much as a peep from him in protest, knowing that she was professional enough to operate on her own without making some rookie mistake that would wind up compromising them here.
No, what had Logan concerned was the ultimate endgame to all of this. Knowing full-well how far Laura had gone last time in her quest for revenge against the woman who had orchestrated such a torturous upbringing for her, and how she had nearly destroyed herself in the process, he wondered if this rematch wouldn't wind up just finishing the job? Even, in spite of his own best efforts to the contrary.
After Laura had made her departure into Lowtown, Logan soon did the same and headed off for a favorite jaunt of his in the form of an establishment called the Princess Bar, to see what information he too could rustle up. Meanwhile, his and his young partner-in-claws' arrival into this sovereign principality had not gone totally unnoticed.
Maintaining a network of well-paid informants drawn from a multitude of diverse areas and occupations to continuously observe and report back to you any and all suspicious activity, regardless of how mundane or trivial it may appear to be on the surface, might seem like a tremendous waste of resources to most. But, for someone who'd become so acclimated with the underworld protocols of espionage and covert operations in her life, the woman once known as Madam Hydra has learned in her experience that it was always best to leave no detail to chance. Particularly in a place like Madripoor where every local crimelord, regardless of how legitimate a claim they may actually have to such a title, was looking to gain any advantage in eliminating their competition.
And, having such an asset at your disposal could come in handy as well in the off-chance that a dockyard worker would unknowingly spot a pair of enemies from your past unceremoniously exiting a freight-container, who were now fervently on their way to seek you out.
Near the dockyards, and ironically enough not too far from where Logan and Laura had just disembarked, sat a warehouse in a row of many just like it. One, whose true function went beyond the simple facade of its exterior as a legitimate import/export business, all thanks to its current occupants. Who themselves also happened to be the principal objects of Logan and Laura's attention at the moment.
"I came to inform you that we will be receiving some unexpected company." A voice with a markedly Eastern European accent said, as the other person to whom she had just spoken to in this darkened upper-level control room turned around to acknowledge her presence.
"And, these unexpected 'guests' would be?" Keniuchio Harada, the man better known in international circles as The Silver Samurai replied, having turned his attention away from a pirated American television program, which he had come to deem as an offense to his own sensibilities and a complete waste of his time, now rotated his chair to see that his partner and complicit accomplice was standing in the doorway behind him.
"Wolverine and X-23. I believe that you are familiar with the former." Viper revealed, now crossing the room wearing a forest-green sports bra and shorts set. She also had a medium-sized green towel draped down from behind her neck to dab away any remaining perspiration that remained from the intense combat training session that she had been engaged in with her most elite Snake-Men soldiers.
That is, before a communication from one of her local informants' with an acutely descriptive account of two individuals that he had just seen brought her workout to an abrupt end.
"Quite." Harada answered in response to her query about his familiarity with the man known as Wolverine as he stood up from his chair, his towering and muscularly imposing frame currently wrapped in a traditional blue kimono robe with gold and red embroidery-print on it.
Harada then took the towel that was sitting just below Viper's hunter green-tinted hair across her shoulders and carefully ran it down one side of her body and then back up the other, ensuring that no part of her had been neglected. All parts of her, except those for which perspiring was no longer a concern, such as her cybernetically-repaired left knee and thigh that was cleary visible thanks to the tight green biker shorts that she had worn during her workout. It was one of several physical enhancements that Viper had received following her near-death experience, though the others were nowhere near as apparent to the naked-eye and all could be regarded as true improvements rather than the handicaps that one might expect.
Harada then looked down at this woman whom he considered to be his equal in almost every manner, one of only a select few individuals he would ever give such consideration. Running his hand over the subtle facial scars that remained on one side of her face, which were usually covered by the concealing manner that her hairstyle parted her bangs over to that side of her face, but that Viper seemingly wore as a badge of honor, Harada stood and stared deep down into her eyes. Eyes, which were of such an unusual harlequin-shade that he had always wondered if they were her natural color, or if like the cicatrice on her face, were merely the other equative representation of her at times erratically gentle and violent temperaments.
"I am to assume then that you have something in mind for our uninvited interlopers?" Harada half-surmised, now taking the towel and wrapping it around Viper's scantily-clad upper torso.
"Darling, I always have something in mind. "Viper ominously replied, offering a toothy grin that revealed small fang-like protusions, almost as a way of adding indisputable emphasis to her final point.
Next chapter: Let's get it on!