. Series Title: X-23: No Way Back
. Story & Chapter Title: Ties That Bind – Chapter One: The Hunted
. Author:
Alex Gregg (aka: ChickRockGuitar)
. Date Written: August 2008 - (words written: 2146)
. Fiction Group: X-Men Comics
. Story Rating: T (some violence and blood)
. Summary Of Story: Part One of "Ties That Bind". Alone and on the run, hunted by A.I.M soldiers, Mutant Laura Kinney, also known as X-23, is once again forced in into a a battle of life and death.
. Auther's Notes: This is the first chapter to the first story arc of a fanfictional serial of stories written by chickrockguitar. These stories are set in a slightly alternate Marvel universe - set with a new spin on the character of X-23.
. Disclaimer: Marvel/X-Men characters, established concepts and previous storylines full credit goes to Marvel, Stan Lee, Craig Kyle, Chris Yost, and Co. Original storylines credit goes to me.
. More Info: The Official Website: www (dot) x23 (dot) flyingmutt (dot) com

Please take a look at the website to understand the stories better


SERIES STORY NOTES: PLEASE READ!!

The "X-23: No Way Back" series is, I guess, as far as fanfiction goes, is in a slight "Alternate Universe" ("AU") from the X-Men comics. These are the reasons as to why:

: Firstly, all of Laura's "history" is still reverent in my "AU" -- From Laura's birth up until she came to stay at the Institute will remain the same - just as read in the comics.

: This is where things change. -- In my "AU", in short, Laura has been at the school for roughly a year, spending time with the X-Men etc. M-Day, Stryker's attack, Nimrod all happened. But the "Mercury Falling" arc and everything after that did not happen, including Kimura's appearance and Laura's move to X-Force. - Sorry to those who this might mean nothing to (it won't effect the stories themselves), it's more for those who are familiar with the comics.

: Laura's "personality" may slightly differ in my "AU" -- Those who are familiar with the comics know how the writers portray Laura. I have opted for a slight change which you may come to notice in the stories, and I hope it will become clear as to why I have done this. In my "AU", as I said, Laura has been in the X-Men's world for roughly a year, in the comics it has only been a few months, so her recent lifestyle in my "AU" differs - therefore as a person, she will differ.

I hope that these points make some kind of sense, and in reading this will allow you identify with the storylines and to understand the time frame of the "X-23: No Way Back" series.


Chapter One: The Hunted

It was almost dusk, the deep orange-red glow from the dying sun could be seen from in-between buildings of different sizes. Sixteen year old Laura Kinney, also known as X-23, emerged running as fast as she could, from a backstreet alley. Dressed all in black, the teenage mutant glanced quickly over her shoulder as she rounded corner of yet another small, deserted New York side street.

Using her enhanced hearing, she counted the running pairs of heavy-like boots in pursuit of her. Fifteen, no, sixteen, and by the sounds of it, they were roughly fifty yards behind - and catching up fast. They wouldn't give up either. She'd dealt with A.I.M before. When they set their sights on a target, their soldiers will stop at nothing until it's been taken down. Their methods were a painful reminder of how she used to "work", back when she was sent on "missions" by her creators.

Entering yet another dark alley, her black boots splashed though a shallow puddle as she ran down its long narrow path. The teen came to a stop at a six foot high metal chain-link fence. Catching her breath she turned to face the mouth of the alley, and listened. The soldiers were now closing in, their footsteps getting closer with every second. Turning back to the fence, Laura balled her right fist. Suddenly two, six inch metal claws, one situated between her first and second knuckle and the other between her third and fourth, burst from her skin. A small amount of blood surrounded the base of each claw, where the skin had broke as they popped out. Laura then ran her claws down the fence, easily cutting though the chain-links as if they were nothing but very fine paper.

Seconds later, a bright white-hot light flooded the scene. Soldiers armed with guns burst into the alley. The soldier at the front of the group shone his torch upon the chain-link fence, but the only thing that the light revealed was the fence itself, with a person sized hole cut out of the middle. "Damnit!", said the lead solider, in frustration. Just then, another soldier pushed his way though his colleagues towards his commanding officer. "Sir! B team's on the radio. They've spotted her two blocks away, heading towards the docks". "Right. Let them know we're on our way", he answered. "And tell them, to not even think about loosing her!" he added sharply. He turned back to the group, "Okay men, lets move!". With that, the soldiers, in an orderly-like fashion, exited the alley.

The Docks were unusually quiet tonight, Laura thought. Alert and keeping to the shadows, the teen crept along in between the freighters, carefully avoiding the security spotlights that wavered back and forth overhead. All she had to do now was get inside a freighter bound for overseas, wait until it was loaded onto a boat and she'd be on her way out on the country. Once out of the country, she'd be just that little bit safer. And she could forget about everything that had happened in the last thirty six hours... or try to forget. That was the general plan, at least...

Suddenly Laura caught the scent of her pursuers. Quietly, but as quickly as she could, she moved though the dock area. Boarding a freighter would now have to wait, first she needed to loose the A.I.M soldiers. Sniffing the air, Laura suddenly noticed there now appeared to be more solders on her tail, one group coming at her from the west, and the other from the east. A rough estimate told her that there were perhaps thirty-five or more men altogether. There'd be no way to get past A.I.M now. There was only one way this could play out - she'd have to fight her way past them.

Her claw's popped on both hands, Laura stood behind a freighter, her back lent up against its side, alert and at the ready to attack. The words "draw them in", were going though her mind. Draw them in, let them get close, and then strike. Moments ticked by as Laura stood in silence, waiting for the soldiers to approach. They were now closing in fast. In fact, Laura's senses told her that she was now surrounded. Somehow, they knew her exact location. The time for a surprise attack had long gone. Laura took a slow, deep breath, then sprang out from behind the freighter, to face the array of AIM soldiers waiting for her on its opposite side.

With a determined expression, Laura stood in a fighting stance position, staring down her pursuers. Almost forty or more soldiers stood about ten foot away, their guns trained on her. The commanding officer shuffled a couple of steps forward, showing his leadership, "Don't move X-23!", he raised his gun slightly, so the little red dot, was now trained on Laura's heart. "Or, I swear to god, I'll shoot!", he carried on. His voice was a little shaky, however, the guy was doing his best to sound confident. But his actions didn't matter, he didn't fool Laura for a second, she could smell his fear. "Now, we can do this the easy way, and no one gets hurt - or the hard way. Either way, X-23, you're coming with us", he finished. I don't think so, thought Laura. "The hard way is fine by me" she answered. And with those words she charged at the surprised solider.

However, the solider was more ready for her surprise movements than Laura had anticipated. As she got roughly six feet closer, the sound of gun shot rang in her ears and though the docks. As white hot pain ripped though her left shoulder, Laura gasped, and came to a sudden stop. Bullets hurt like hell, but not usually like this. Laura's right hand flew up to her left shoulder, covering the wound, as the pain rocketed though her upper body. She looked up at the soldier, moments later, her pain turned to anger. In the seconds that followed, with accelerated speed, she charged. Now inches from his body, her right hand claws penetrated the middle of his upper chest.

Laura ripped her now bloody claws from the soldiers torso, and the man fell to the ground, dead. The teen looked down at his body for a few seconds, then turned to look at his colleagues, who's eyes were on their dead leader, they all seemed to wear shocked expressions, even though they knew who and what they where facing. Seconds later rapid gunfire could be heard throughout the docks, bullet after bullet tore through Laura's flesh. There was now nothing she could do except fight back. It was a kill or be killed. Ignoring the pain that was now searing through her body, claws raised, the teenage mutant leapt violently into the fray...

Nightfall was now upon New York. The darkened skies were heavy and black, but the city itself was lit up brightly by lights from offices, apartment blocks, street lamps and headlights. Placing a blooded hand on the side of an alley wall for support, Laura slowly walked into the light of a dying streetlamp, located on the inside wall of the alley. Beaten, bloody, and exhausted, she leant up against the wall itself for a moments rest. She was covered with blood, a mixture of her own and the soldiers', and her clothes where riddled with bullet holes. Droplets of crimson liquid dripped from her wounds. Leaning her head back against the wall, Laura gritted her teeth, wincing in pain.

Lifting her shirt slightly, she looked down at her belly and placed her right hand fingertips over a small bullet wound, about a inch to the right of her bellybutton, within seconds blood stained her fingertips. Laura winced in pain again. Braising herself, she suddenly dug the tips of her thumb and forefinger into the wound itself, and after a moment or two, with a sharp gasp of pain and a grunt, she pulled the bullet out. Panting slightly, she held the small blood stained, golden object in her fingers tips and looked at it. Her mind travelled back to half an hour ago:

Screams of dying men rang in her ears, as Laura delivered the fatal blow to each and everyone of them in her path. Her claws, now deeply blood strained, cut down another A.I.M solder, just as another bullet hit her in the back. Laura winced. Pulling her claws from his chest, she spun round to face the solder holding the gun. She lunged at him, knocking the semiautomatic from his hands, he stumbled back. Then, looking into his terrified eyes, as Laura jabbed her right hand claws into his chest, and her left hand claws into his gut. The look of intense pain stayed on his face as Laura ripped away her claws and watched him fall to the ground. After a brief moment, she turned away, and once again, began to cut though the men coming at her with their guns.

Laura threw the bullet to the ground, and again leant her head back on the wall. One bullet out, she thought, tons more to go. At that moment, she could hardly find the strength to move, let alone fish out any more bullets. She knew she was getting weaker, she needed to find some place to rest, and fast, before anyone else tracked her down. She let out a sharp wince. The bullets lodged in her body where now causing her a great deal of pain, which seemed to be intensifying with every moment that passed. Laura remembered the last time she came face to face with A.I.M. She'd been sent on a search and destroy mission to one of their bases. Riddled with bullets, she nearly died that day. Back then, she remembered the bullets hurting like hell, but this time, they seemed to hurt a hell of a lot more. And this time, the pain was different.

Suddenly she heard foot steps approaching, just one pair. Whoever it was, it was unlikely they where tracking her, but all the same she had to keep moving. Even if they weren't after her, she didn't want to deal with anyone right now. Using both hands to push herself off the wall, she regained her balance as best she could and continued to move painfully forward, struggling with each small step. She knew she wouldn't be able to get very far, but if she managed to hide in the shadows within the alley, there was a good chance that the person approaching would walk past the alley, leaving her undetected. A Good chance. She hoped...

Crouched behind a couple of trash cans, Laura kept both eyes on the mouth of the alley, waiting. Laura felt stupid. She didn't hide. Ever. But she knew, she'd never be able to take anyone in a fight right now. The foot steps were getting closer and closer. She now began to feel very dizzy. She sniffed the air, nothing. She couldn't catch a scent. What's wrong with me?, she wondered. At that moment, a dark figure stopped at the mouth of the alley, then walked a few steps into it.

It was now obvious to Laura that she'd been wrong, this person was tracking her. She squinted though the darkness. Normally, even in the dark, she would have been able to make out the person in full detail, but her vision seemed to be fading. She sniffed the air again, still no scent. But something about this person rang very familiar. No... it couldn't be, could it? She wasn't that lucky, was she? The figure stepped into the light of the dying street lamp. The light lit up his face straight away. With difficulty, she stood up and staggered a few steps towards him. This wasn't real, was it? For a moment Laura was sure she was hallucinating. There, standing just a couple of feet away, dressed in blue jeans and a slightly scuffed black leather jacket, was Logan.

Laura felt enormous relief wash over her. "Logan...", she breathed, as she moved towards him, stumbling with every step. "Hey, kid", he answered. As she moved into the light of the street lamp, Logan saw just how beaten up she was. "What the hell?" he gasped. "Geez, Kid,", he muttered, quickly moving towards her, "What happened to yer?". Suddenly Laura's vision began to blur and fade more rapidly, and the alley and Logan seemed to spin. She raised her hands to the sides of her head, "I...uh--", she shut her eyes tightly for a moment, trying to block out the intense pain that seemed to now cover every inch of her small frame. "A.I.M... Attacked...", she just about managed to answer, before swaying, then falling unconsciously into Logan's arms.

Currently working on "Chapter Two: Bad Memories" – please stay tuned