Title: Holding Ground
Author: lachlanrose
Disclaimer: Not mine. Never were. Never will be, so sue me and you'll regret it, bub.
Feedback: Sure, why not? I'm feeling lucky today. ;) The good, the bad, the ugly welcome...
Summary: In a post MRA, post Legacy world, Logan and Scott fight to hold on to what little peace they've found. A coming-of-age story. AU
Notes: Thanks to the usual suspects for the beta, to Frost for the line, and to everyone else (you guys know who you are) for all the encouragement, previewing and feedback. You ladies rock. :) This fic was inspired by Terri's amazing 'Winter in Banff'. As one might imagine with that set up, this one is on the darker side. Pathos. Angst. Citrus. Cursing. (Heh) Violence. Drama. Some of the content might be a little squicky if you're sensitive, so I'll just put up a general warning now and call it good. This one is adult in theme and content. Full stop. It clocks in at thirteen chapters (and a wee prologue). You definitely need the lay of the land before you dive in. Right, then. Off we go...


Nil homini certum est.
Nothing is certain for man.

The war between Homo sapiens and Homo superior came sooner than anyone would have expected and was far more horrific than anyone could have possibly imagined. Sparked by opposition to the Mutant Registration Act, and fueled by violent factions on either side, humans were quick to go on the offensive, afraid that if they let mutants gain a foothold, they'd eventually take control of everything.

The offensive was swift and utterly without mercy. Mutant women and children were slaughtered by the thousands and mutant men were collared and put to work. Humans saw no need to kill off the males in their quest for dominance. That would only deprive them of the most powerful - and expendable - slave workforce the world had ever seen. In the face of utter hopelessness, small pockets of mutant resistance formed, and soon the world was plunged into war. The fighting was brutal, with no clear victor emerging from either side.

The release of the Legacy virus, and its subsequent mutation, decimated both mutant and human populations worldwide, killing billions and leaving countless others unable to bear children. It circled the globe in a matter of months, leaving death and desolation in its wake as its near perfect mortality rate ravaged the world's population.

The mutants who survived searched desperately for the few isolated strongholds that were rumored to exist. Gaining admittance to these remote outposts was difficult at best. They were held and run by the strongest mutant males left - ones who'd obtained and maintained their power by brute force and sheer, unfaltering will. Forced to live in a hard world and make hard choices every day, their word was law. The truth of the matter was there simply weren't enough provisions to go around and sacrifices had to be made.

The weak did not survive.

The lack of women had become critical to the continuation of the species. To combat the genocide, mutant doctors developed a test to administer to female children in order to identify mutants before their powers ever manifested. Mutant parents often requested the test to see if their children carried the 'X' gene so they could be better prepared, but it was specifically aimed at children with human parents; parents who would either be unwilling or unable to keep their children safe once the mutation manifested.

Finding such children was rare, and special placement teams rescued these girls before their powers could manifest and expose them, making them clear targets for the Extermination Squads. It was a relentless, thankless job and many brave men died to bring the chosen children to safety and deliver them to the remaining mutant strongholds, where they would be cared for until they came of age. In a time of desperation, those children were their only source of hope. Resources were limited and many men went without because unless those girls survived, the future was lost.

There is an old human saying: You might bring the enemy to their knees, but they are not defeated until the hearts of their women are upon the ground. The mutants who were left had gathered what hearts they could find, and they protected them fiercely. In those isolated camps, there was no worse crime than harming a woman, and it meant certain death to hurt any child under the protection of the camp leader. When these girls reached the age of consent, they moved from the leader's protection to that of the man they'd chosen. Touching a woman bonded to another was also cause for death - usually at the hands of her mate. It was a barbaric but effective system.

In what was left of North America, there were four of these isolated camps rumored to exist. There was one in the wilds of the Everglades, run by the vicious mutant, Sabretooth. He was a giant of a man and well known for taking pleasure in making people scream. Of the four, his camp was said to be the worst - only marginally better than trying to survive alone. There was another camp believed to be in what was left of New York City. An odd place for a camp to be sure, but it was said that Magneto, the mutant who ran it, used the scrap metal left behind in the ghostly city to fashion quite an impressive camp for himself and those who chose to follow him.

Of the remaining two camps also rumored to exist, one was believed to be located somewhere in the mountains of Colorado. It was said that a powerful mutant known as Cyclops ran that camp. Of all the camps, his was rumored to be the best - and the one hardest to find.

A man known only as Wolverine ran the fourth and final camp. He controlled an area in what used to be known as Jasper, way up in mountains of Canada. His camp had the distinction of being the hardest to gain entry into, and this is where our story begins...

Author's note: I know it's a short one tonight, especially for a wordy nutter like me, but the next chapter's double length (damn near 6000 words) to even us out a little. Pace yourself. ;) Logan in all his surly glory will be arriving momentarily. ((grin))