Taken : An Illustrated X-men fanfic by Squeekness.


Berry happy!
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Aug 29, 2005
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Howdy, I've been writing an X-men fanfiction for some time now and thought I would mention it here in case anyone wanted to take a peek at it. It's too big to post in its entirety but I thought I would put a small piece of it here and a link to the rest. It is rated M so no really young kids please. :)
Disclaimer: I do not own the X-men though I do so love toying with them.
Summary : Gambit, Beast and Wolverine get abducted by off-world slavers and make some new friends along the way. Part one of a long series.
Notes : This story contains a number of OCs(other characters). No, wait, before you run away screaming – there are X-men in it, but the story is mainly about Kimble, a sentient, living hologram who finds himself among the X-men. This story is his impact on their lives (mostly Gambit’s) as he tries to find his place in their world. Bah, you say! Who needs OCs (other characters) anyway! Well, take into consideration that technically any new X-men after Giant Sized #1 could be considered an OC, they are not part of the original team after all. That would include some big names – Kitty Pryde, Gambit, Cable, Bishop, Maggot, Marrow, Psyclocke, all the Gen M kids. Are you getting the idea now? Yes, this story has a few OCs, but I’m asking you to let them pass or fail on their own merits, not because they are not original X-men.

Rated M for language and non-explicit sexual situations. (Sorry, it ain't that kind of story). AU but only because I chose to change a few things in my dear friends' histories, nothing drastic so please forgive. I wrote this for a friend who didn't read the comics so there is a bit of back history and explanation on who everyone is and what their powers are. I've been working on this story for years so I do ask that you don't use any of my non-Marvel universe characters without my permission. I love my Siskans as I do my children. LOL.

I did more than just write this story, I illustrated it and now, my good friend Deina has built a webpage for me so you guys can have a peek at the art if you like. The link is: http//home.comcast.net/~squeeker1/index.html or go to my profile and click on the homepage link.



The music was terrible and loud.

Logan hated discos, the obnoxious thumping music was hard on his sensitive ears. He wasn't a normal man, he was a mutant which meant he was born different than the other humans in this room. In his case, he was gifted with an animal keen sense of hearing, sight and smell. Most of the time these traits were considered an asset, but right now all they were doing was making him miserable. Places like this were an assault on his ears he was forced to bear as part of his job. He'd been dragged along by two of his teammates to this night club because his enhanced senses made him an excellent tracker and spy.

He was leaning comfortably against the back wall, trying not to look too conspicuous. He was dressed in tight fitting blue jeans, a black T shirt, and cowboy boots. He was better suited for a biker bar than this place and Remy had to pay extra to get him in. Logan snickered at the thought. Anything that was inconvenient for Remy was just fine with him. He had his light black leather jacket slung casually over one shoulder and drank beer from an open bottle while he scanned the crowd.


The club wasn't particularly small, but it was packed with young people. You had to push and shove your way through to get around. Logan's compensation for the noise came in the form of eye candy, there were lots of beautiful women here. Some of them had to brush past him to get by. He'd just grin and raise a hairy eyebrow at them as they wiggled by in tight dresses and skirts.

"Excuse me!" they'd giggle.

"No problem, ma'am," he'd growl softly in his gravelly voice, and tip his hat at them.

Logan didn't get asked to dance. As soon as the women would get a close look at him, they'd shy away. He was a rough character and it showed in his face. His black hair was brushed back straight over his head and unruly. Today he'd jammed a cowboy hat over it. His cheeks were buried under long black muttonchops, out of style for this day and age, but he could've cared less. He had always looked this way for as long as he could remember and wasn't one for change. He'd shaved this morning so the rest of his face was neat, but that was not the usual case for him. His personal appearance had never been an issue for him and he could care less what anyone thought.

His eyes were small and squinty, yet saw everything in the room. They were framed in laugh lines, but they came more from growling than laughing. He was not known for a kind and gentle disposition, was often grumpy and ill tempered. He was a short man, just over five feet tall, heavily muscled and compact for his size. His bare arms were large and hairy, as was most of his body. He gave off an air of arrogance and danger. He was a loner by nature and avoided crowds. He wasn't here for pleasure, he was working.

Logan belonged to an undercover group of mutant humans called the X-men. Their leader was a crippled professor named Charles Xavier, hence the name X-men. Charles Xavier was reportedly one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet and used his team to fight for peace on this world. All of their members were mutants and gifted with a variety of talents. Logan had his animal senses plus a healing factor in his body that allowed him to heal rapidly from almost any wound or injury. It was the world's greatest equalizer and the source of his fearlessness and arrogance.

It also made his age impossible to determine. He looked to be about forty or so but was probably much older than that. He suffered from a fragmented memory and didn't even know himself how old he was or where he'd been born. He'd spent a great deal of time up in the Canadian Rockies and so considered himself to be Canadian more than American even though he was living in the States now. What he did know and recall was a lifetime's worth of military training. His mutations made him well suited for such work and he had found himself working for various secret agencies within the Canadian and American governments over the past years. He was an efficient killer when the situation called for it. He was the guy you wanted covering your back because he'd always be there. He was dependable and fiercely loyal to the X-men, they were his adopted family and he would die to protect them. He was also unfortunately cursed with a wicked temper and a cruel mouth. His codename, Wolverine, was well deserved.

"You see anyt'ing yet, mon ami?"
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A little more..
Logan looked up, the smooth Cajun drawl had come from somewhere to his right. As if by magic, a tall slender man melted out of the crowd and came lean against the wall next to him. The new arrival ran a hand through his thick auburn bangs and checked out the women dancing close by. His hair was a bit long and unruly at times, he had it up in a neat ponytail to keep it from his eyes. Even though it was dark inside the club, he wore an obnoxious pair of cheap sun glasses with mirrored lenses. He was chewing gum and popped it loudly, only one of his many annoying habits.

"Nuthin' yet, Gumbo," Logan growled irritably, using his pet name for his Cajun teammate. "This place'll be no better than the last. This is a f***in' waste of time." he complained with his usual tact.

"P'etetre, we do better at de next place," his friend said with a shrug. "I go find 'Enry, be right back, d'accorde?" He melted smoothly back into the crowd, sliding his glasses down slightly and smiling at a pretty girl as he went.


Logan grunted a laugh at him and went back to perusing the crowd.

That handsome young devil was Remy LeBeau, codename Gambit. He was young, only about twenty three or so, overly handsome by some accounts, and a natural charmer. He had dressed in loose dress pants with a matching dark sweater. He carried his trademark leather duster trench coat folded over one arm. He was relaxed and comfortable here, everything Logan was not. He was at least a foot taller than Logan and towered over him. He was lean and lanky and had a catlike grace as he walked with casual ease through the crowd. His face was ruggedly handsome and the only thing that gave him away as a mutant were his eyes. They were an odd combination of a crimson iris on black, with no whites. He always wore the cheesy sun glasses whenever he went out in public to hide them. They could be creepy sometimes if you were unaware of how much of a clown and a scoundrel he really was.

Before he came to join the X-men, Remy had been a talented thief and a gambler. His reputation for being able to get into anywhere and steal anything had been well known before he arrived. One of their teammates had found him living fast and loose on the streets and asked him to join them, seeing his skills as valuable even before his mutant powers were even considered.

His mutant gift was the ability to charge small objects with bio-kinetic energy from his body and hurl them like bombs. His weapon of choice was a charged playing card tossed with a skill and accuracy rarely matched by others. He would toss these red glowing grenades to confuse or stun his prey. He would then dazzle them with his acrobatic prowess and skill at hand to hand combat. He was nimble and quick and difficult to catch, unlike Logan who was more of a bruiser and brawler.

Gambit claimed to be reformed as far as thieving went, but Logan knew better. It was more like nobody asked when he showed up with something new. When the Professor needed something "acquired" from a difficult or dangerous place, he asked for Remy, often using Logan as his back up. Not that Remy felt he needed it. He was confident of his fighting prowess and chose instead to spend most of his time trying to annoy Logan as much as possible. He was playful and easy going, delightfully ****y as he gleefully tormented his teammate, but he was not malicious by nature. Although often at odds, these two did work well together.

A couple of months ago, large groups of people began to disappear. There was no pattern to the happenings, except that it seemed to occur at dance clubs or bars where young people hung out. The last time it happened one of their friends, a mutant teleporter named Jacob, had vanished along with everyone else in the club. The X-men didn't believe mutants were specifically targeted, but they could be behind the disappearances.

At any given time, there were as many as six or seven warring factions of mutant humans fighting over control of their territories. Those territories could be a city or a country, sometimes even the whole planet. These groups would destroy buildings, kidnap people for ransom, and terrorize the world just to get their point across. Opposing them and no less dangerous were human government agencies and paramilitary rebels. The bickering was endless and disheartening. Somewhere in the middle was the X-men. Their goal was peace between all the mutant and human groups, something Logan doubted he would ever see. He'd been all over the world, to Ireland, Israel, and Yugoslavia. If the normal folks there couldn't resolve their differences amongst themselves, he failed to see how global acceptance of mutants would happen. Logan chose to stick it out with the X-men anyway because it was the only team he'd ever been on where he was completely accepted and welcomed as part of the family.

Logan was blinded by a sudden flash of light and felt a sickening lurch in his stomach. As he staggered back against the wall, he recognized the sensation and understood that he'd just been teleported to somewhere else. One of the drawbacks to being as old as he was and as experienced, was that sooner or later everything happened to you. He cursed with impatience. Sometimes it seemed like he couldn't catch a break.

He blinked rapidly and rubbed his eyes, but saw only a blur. He leaned forward unsteadily and groped out blindly with his hands, accidently colliding with the breasts of the woman who had been standing in front of him only seconds before all of this happened. It might have been funny in another time and place, but instead he jerked back in surprise and felt the whiff of air as she swung out at him in fright.

"Hey!" she complained.

"Sorry, darlin'. Can't see sh-t."

"F--k you, a--hole!" she said, giving him the ritual response.

He could smell her fear and didn't say anything more, she was panicked enough already.
Logan's enhanced senses told him a lot about his current circumstance even without the use of his eyes. He could smell all the people that had been around him right before this had happened. Wherever he was now, they had all been forced along. At least the loud terrible music was gone, it had come to a screeching halt the same time he'd been blinded. It let his ears go to work. He could now hear clearly the people around him talking to each other in a panic. No one knew what was going on and no one else could see either. Whatever this was had affected them all. He could tell by the way their frightened voices echoed back to him that they were in a large room with a high ceiling. The air was stale, recycled, and there was a humming vibration from the floor. That made him assume they were in a huge moving vehicle of some kind – but what was large enough to hold them all?

He turned around, trying to assess what else might be different. He could still feel the hardness of the wall behind him. He put his hands on it and realized he'd been mistaken. The painted cinder blocks that had been there before were gone, the wall had been replaced by a force field. He felt the red hot rage rise and he began to growl softly, pulling his lips back in an angry sneer. He naturally rebelled against any kind of confinement. He swallowed the urge to pop his claws and start hacking away.

Because of his healing factor, Logan had been forcibly taken by the Canadian government agency he'd been working for at the time and experimented on. They'd discovered he was a mutant and decided to exploit that for themselves. He was kidnapped and given no choice in the matter, it was simply done to him without his permission. His memories of the whole thing were foggy and confused, a result of the trauma of the ordeal, but the final outcome was that someone had bonded Adamantuim, an indestructible metal, to his bones. This made them impossible to break. He also gained six nine inch retractable switchblade like claws; three in each arm. Most of the time they were hidden safely in his forearms, but he could snap them out of the backs of his hands at will and had mastered the art of killing with them. The goal of the program had been to make him an unstoppable super soldier, the supreme assassin. It didn't quite work out as planned. He rebelled against them and escaped. The slaughter still haunted his nightmares to this day. His will was quite strong, Logan could not be caged or controlled by others for long.

Wolverine's growl grew in time with his rising frustration and he sensed the woman he'd accidently groped move away from him in terror. Normal humans don't sound this way, not ones who could be trusted. The people were all stumbling about into each other in confusion. Most of them still couldn't see or figure out what was happening. The smell of their fear was very strong, almost choking him with it's intensity. His sense of smell was curse as well as a gift.
He rubbed his eyes and blinked again. His vision cleared after a moment and he looked through the field. When he took a good look around, he knew instantly that he was in serious trouble.

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The force field was transparent, clear enough to see through though it gave everything a slight blue cast. It rippled slightly at his touch, but not enough to block his view. The room he was in was huge. The walls were made of grey metal and very high. Two levels of what looked like iron catwalks ran the circumference of the room, giving the strange soldiers who patrolled them a perfect view of the corralled humans. These soldiers weren't human, not even close. They looked like really tall lion people. They were large and their legs were bent like the hind legs of a cat. It didn't hamper their movements in any way, they were all heavily muscled and walked with an arrogance and strength that came from years of dominating others. Their uniforms were blue and made in the cavalry style, complete with heavy looking boots. The guns they carried were elaborate and nothing Wolverine had ever seen before.


Once a long time ago, he had been incarcerated as part of some infiltration scheme. It had been like this, large men with guns patrolling the walks. He had been in danger then and he was in danger again now. There were a lot of these soldiers and he realized his team wasn't going to get out of this easily.

He and the people from the dance club were penned in by the force field, contained in the center of this huge room. Everything had come with them, the tables and chairs, even the bar itself. More of the lion soldiers moved about on the other side of the force field. Two of them came quite close to where Logan was standing. They were taller up close, probably seven or eight feet in height. Their uniforms were in good condition and so were their guns. He could smell gun oil, but not powder. These were energy weapons, possibly lasers or blasters. One soldier had a blue sash on his arm, the other a red one. Logan guessed this was some kind of ranking. They spotted him watching them and walked up to him.

Wolverine saw them come and put his hands up against the field, slouching arrogantly. He growled and spat in their direction, letting them know he wasn't the least bit intimidated.

They were impressed by his lack of fear and jabbered to themselves in a language he couldn't understand. Blue Sash made a joke and the other one laughed.

"Wouldn't be laughin' if I was out there. I'd be kickin' yer stupid little ass," Logan challenged in his usual arrogant slur.

Red Sash smiled and went right up to him. He was so close Logan could see he had the slitted eyes of a cat as well. Red Sash spoke to him in accented broken English, "Look, you. Brave man. Make good slave, yes? Fight slave. Tranding Muzla pay huge, yes? Good for us!"

So that's what this was about. Slavery. That's why all the people had been disappearing. "I ain't gonna be nobody's slave," Wolverine sneered confidently.

Blue Sash's grin was as cruel and wicked as his friend's. "Make brave man slave mine. Hmm...Play nice fun you, me." He licked his lips and blew Logan a kiss.

Happy to play along, Red Sash cackled and grabbed his crotch suggestively.

Logan's eyes went wide. He snarled and punched the force field angrily in an impressive display of fury. The people behind him moved away in a panic, shoving into each other and shouting. They were loud and their fright spread through the crowd in a ripple. Someone screamed loudly to his left and the smell of fear came washing over him again. He could hear as someone fell down and was trampled as frightened people charged in all directions. He cursed his rage and the panic he'd caused, but wouldn't tear his eyes away from the enemy in front of him.

A new soldier with a gold sash approached the two soldiers there. He began to berate them for starting the trouble. Naturally, they made excuses and pointed at Logan. Gold Sash drew his weapon and leveled the gun at Logan. "You there! Calm yourself or be destroyed!"

Wolverine looked him in the eye, his chin high. "I'd like to see ya try."
Gold Sash turned his gun on a woman nearby and fired. The blast of energy easily passed through the containment field and into her. She screamed in agony as her body became red hot and she disintegrated before Wolverine's eyes. He could smell her flesh burn as it was incinerated and vaporized almost instantly. He stepped back in horror, raising his hands defensively. His healing factor was the world's greatest equalizer, but it couldn't cope with this. Apparently, the gold sashed soldier thought Logan was more valuable than the woman and had killed her instead.

"You there! Back off now! Be calm and no one else will die!" Gold Sash repeated with authority. When he saw Wolverine had gotten the message, he moved on. The rest of the people near Logan backed away from him, afraid he would get them killed. Logan shook with rage at the senseless killing but kept quiet. He didn't want any one else to die because of him.

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"See you makin' friends already."

Logan turned at the sound of Gambit's voice. Remy and their lost teammate Henry had made their way through the crowd to join him. Gambit had taken off his dress clothes and was now wearing his working clothes. He’d hidden them underneath his regular clothes, just in case something like this happened. Remy was never one to be caught unawares. He was revealed now in tight fitting black spandex pants and a protective Kevlar flexible chest plate over his torso. Underneath the chest plate was a long sleeved, black spandex shirt that ended in gloves that could be detached if he wished. Two of the fingers on each hand were uncovered, allowing him to charge objects with his bare fingers. He'd put his long trench coat on over his outfit, making him less conspicuous. He still wore the sun glasses. With the lights now so bright, his eyes would be that much more obvious. He chewed his gum with nervous tension as he looked at the soldiers pacing the catwalks, evaluating their situation. He didn’t look any happier than Logan was.

Henry's image inducer was still working and Logan wondered what these cat guys were going to think when it stopped.

Henry McCoy was the X-men's chief scientist and doctor, but he occasionally got called out on missions such as the one they were on. Henry's usual appearance was vastly different than what Logan was looking at now. Henry was a huge hulking mass of blur fur and muscle, almost like a huge bear. He had a broad face with a large mouth that allowed his elongated lower canine teeth to protrude from his lips, making him look like a troll. He had the pointy ears to match. He had to be four hundred pounds at least and resembled a football line backer. He wasn’t born blue and furry, that was a result of one of his genetic experiments gone awry. He had been normal looking in High School and had played on the football team, earning them the state championship all the years he was there.

His size and physique earned him the codename Beast, but his nature was anything but. He was very sensitive and gentle as well as extremely intelligent. He had the same unruly hair as Logan, but his eyes and voice were soft and kind. He was really just a big softie with a weakness for science journals and Twinkies. His fingers were clawed, yet quick and nimble. He did most of the technical work on the X-men team as well, being very skilled in electronics and machinery. He was very strong and agile, almost acrobatic which was surprising given his size.

The image inducer Henry wore projected a false image of a normal looking man to disguise Henry's freakish and frightening appearance. It didn’t change his size, he was still quite large and looked every bit like that linebacker only better dressed. He was in a nice sweater and slacks. He was forced to use the image inducer whenever he left the X-men’s residence because the anti-mutant harassment had been growing steadily worse over the years.

"These guys are friggin' slavers. We gotta get these people outta here!" Wolverine said to his teammates, looking around for any kind of opportunity to get out of this.

"You t’ink of sumptin', you let Gambit know, patron," Gambit teased in his Cajun drawl. He had a habit of referring to himself in the third person, something that had always annoyed Logan. Gambit was well aware of this and made no effort whatsoever to change it.

"It would seem our situation is less than desirable. Our captors have us pretty much where they want us," Henry added.

A mechanical voice chimed on a loud speaker, silencing the room. "Attention please. Attention please. Welcome to Dognan Processing Station Twelve. Stand by for processing instructions. If you follow the orders promptly no harm will come to you. Resist and you will be destroyed."

"Charming," Henry groaned, rolling his eyes.

"Please exit through the two doors at the rear. Males to the right. Females to the left."

One of the soldiers on the catwalk fired his gun towards the ceiling and bellowed, getting the crowd moving. The noise was deafening and horrific, forcing Logan to cover his ears with an irritated growl. The crowd surged towards the two doors in the back, dragging them along in it’s wake. The smell of fear and panic flooded Wolverine's senses again and he had to swallow the urge to lash out. He felt Henry’s strong hands snatch at him protectively, Henry wanted them all to stay together as they tried to steer towards the open door on the right.

The crowd did not always co-operate. Some of the couples didn't want to separate. They clung to each other in fear and were fired upon by the guards on the catwalks. Several people were incinerated. The Dognan lion soldiers laughed and made fun like it was some kind of game.

"Who are dese losers!" Remy exclaimed, horrified.

"Don't know! Don't care!" Logan snarled. "They ain't gonna be nobody when I get through with 'em!"

"Take it easy, my hairy friend," Henry cautioned, putting a large furry arm on his shoulder. "We don't know what's going on. We don't need any further violence until we are sure what awaits us."

They went through the doorway and filed into a long hall. The walls were the same grey metal as the big room and seemed to confirm the X-men’s suspicions that they were on a vehicle as opposed to a building. Wolverine’s Adamantium claws were very sharp and could cut through most anything. He hoped maybe he could slice through the wall and they could break free. He inconspicuously snapped out a claw and dragged it along the wall. He was surprised when it didn’t cut but he could surmise why. The force field was still there even now, keeping them from escaping. The Dognan were taking no chances with their prisoners. This was not good. The hallway narrowed until they were forced to stand single file. Gambit was in front of Logan, while Henry was last, holding up the rear. There was no way to know what they could expect.

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Gambit waited patiently in line, unworried. Jus’ like de lunch line back at Saint Anne’s, he mused to himself, thinking of the New Orleans orphanage where he’d stayed as a small child.

Unlike Logan who’s past had been blurred by abuse and mental implants, Remy LeBeau knew his all too well. He’d been a scoundrel even as that small child and it seemed his destiny was to find himself moving from one tight spot to another, sometimes with disastrous results. Those experiences left him at odds, he was a social creature by nature, yet now found himself surrounded by many fine acquaintances, but very few true friends. Remy had a lifetime’s worth of painful, ugly secrets and tended to keep them to himself, something that had at one time cost him his spot on the X-men team for a while. He had returned a year later with the proper contriteness and was now forever finding ways to try and make up for his screw ups.

As if dat could ever ‘appen, he joked to himself again. Gambit, yo’ life is nuthin’ but bouncin’ from one adventure to de next. Never knowin’ where you gonna end up.

Remy’s return had placed him on the outside circle of the team, and his rambunctious risk taking and refusal to be a submissive beggar of forgiveness kept him there. He chose instead to make up for his life’s sins by working as much as possible on whatever missions the Professor sent him on, especially if it involved saving lives. Taking care of some inter-galactic slavers fit that bill quite nicely and he wasn’t the least bit concerned about where he was. It seemed to him that he and his X-men had been in tighter spots than this before and walked away. They would knock a few heads around, free some people and be home in time for X-Files.

"Lives saved for de lives lost, no matter what de cost," he muttered softly, saying the motto that kept him going. He had a tab to pay for he didn’t think he could ever repay, it wouldn’t keep him from trying. He was calm and relaxed as he took in the situation at hand.

They came to an entrance of a medium sized room filled with more Dognan soldiers. The doorway was framed in metal and appeared to be some kind of scanner. When someone stepped through, a red light beam moved down the doorway and scanned his body. Medical information came up on a screen in the next room. A civilian cat man, presumably a medical officer, sat at a desk and looked over the results. He was sending the humans in two directions. It seemed like the older and less healthy ones were sent to the left where a group of soldiers led them away.
Gambit was close to the front of the line when he saw what was happening to the men. He didn’t like what he saw. Always prepared, he casually slid his hand into one of his deep jacket pockets. He loved this wonderful, long trench coat. It had lots of places to hide things. He always carried a pack of loose cards and his retractable bo staff hidden for times such as these. The staff was only about ten inches long in his pocket, but would snap out to about five feet when fully extended. Remy had an idea that something funky might happen when it was his turn to be scanned and wanted to be ready.

Remy advanced to the front of the line. He was halted in the doorway and scanned.

Immediately an alarm went off and flashing lights lit up the doorway above him.

Remy rolled his dark and crimson eyes casually up at the flashing lights, grinning innocently while waving his hand behind his ass. "Quoi? Was dat me? Aunt Charity’s Jambalaya...it go down easy, but it’s murder on de way out, n’est ce pas?"

The Dognan did not share Gambit’s sense of humor. "Alpha!" someone yelled. Two large cat men with guns came running.

Unfazed, Gambit’s grin widened. He playfully tossed his glasses away with flair, no longer needing them and spat out his gum. He whipped out the bo staff, snapping it out to it's full length with a quick twist of his wrist. The staff had been custom made for him and using it was second nature.
"Go for it, Cajun," Logan growled with a snicker, itching to get down to it himself.

Remy twirled the staff skillfully, never missing a beat and met the soldiers prepared. He moved around them quickly and efficiently, taking them down easily with sharp blows from the bo staff and acrobatic kicks with his booted feet. He moved with a feline liquid grace as if the air and the room belonged to him, his smile wide and carefree. He was confident and completely in control of himself, enjoying this to a point.


Logan stood in the doorway with a grin and let Remy have his moment. One had to admire Remy’s grace, he moved about as if he owned the room itself, as if he was putting on some kind of show. It wasn’t exactly appreciated by their captors and more soldiers came in response to the noise. They were armed with guns, but no one fired, not just yet. It wasn’t all that unusual for a captive to kick up a fuss now and again and sometimes it was even entertaining. This was sport to them and today it looked like they were getting their money’s worth.

"You wanna play wit Gambit? Pick a card!" Remy challenged and let loose with a volley of red glowing playing cards, making them appear as if by magic from his fingertips.

They exploded loudly, adding to the confusion and Logan finally jumped into the fray. The scanner alarm went off as he passed through, one obviously set to detect mutants. He didn’t care. He fought vigorously, putting on his own little display of power and strength, and the bodies of Dognan soldiers started to pile up. He hadn’t quite gotten to the point of being lethal, he was hoping that his display of ferocity alone might buy them a chance to escape.

Still, they just kept coming. The two X-men were soon outnumbered in spite of their efforts. Beast joined in, but things were getting out of control. It didn’t take long for things to go from bad to worse -- one of the cat men swung his gun wildly and accidently hit Remy on the head right over his eyes.

Gambit’s legs buckled from the blow, but he didn’t go down. He swung wildly with his staff, but was too dazed to connect. The soldier saw Remy’s sudden weakness and took advantage of opportunity to strike him again. He smashed the butt of his gun again into Remy’s forehead and watched with satisfaction as the thief fell to his knees with a pained shout, his hands over his eyes. Gambit was dazed and bleeding, no longer able to fight. The soldier laughed and hit him again. This time, the thief went down for good.

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Logan, protective as always, got to him before the Dognan soldier could do more than just stun him. Logan spun the soldier around and viciously slammed his fist into his face with a growing fury. The animal rage in him was rising and he growled once more between gritted teeth as he fought. Two more soldiers tried to jump on Wolverine and pull him down. He took care of them easily, but their replacements were right behind. Logan wasn't liking the odds much and decided to up the ante. He popped his claws with a snarl and slashed through the next wave quickly, sending blood flying in all directions. The rest of the Dognan men paused, startled by this new development.

Beast stepped back, momentarily free. He was concerned about Wolverine's decision to take this to the next level. This out of control situation was getting worse.

Logan stood over Remy, claws dripping blood as he claimed his property. "All right, who's next!?" he challenged with a wicked laugh.

Blue Sash stepped up from the crowd, wanting a turn. "Hey, you. Brave man. You, me. Play fun now." He slid off his rifle and took his shirt off. He was massive; well built and strong. The rest of the Dognan soldiers stood back and cheered him on without interfering.

"Yeah, we'll play. Just you 'n me," Logan growled, pulling his lips back in a wild sneer.

They circled. Blue Sash lunged and Logan countered, cutting the man's hand and drawing first blood. Blue Sash just kept smiling. He jerked to the left and Logan moved to block. The cat man struck out with his foot and tripped him.

Logan fell with a practiced grace, tangling his feet with his opponent's and bringing him down as well. They rolled and wrestled, each fighting for a better grip. Blue Sash managed to get his arm around Logan's neck and hauled him to his feet, picking him up off of the ground. Logan reached behind his head and grabbed a fist full of Dognan hair with one hand. In one quick movement, he shoved the fingers of his other hand up the guy's nose and yanked the man's head down.

Blue Sash bellowed with fury and pain as his lion’s nose exploded in blood and shattered bone. He heaved Wolverine off of him and gripped his face, trying to stop the flow of blood. Logan landed expertly and rolled to his feet. He was laughing and having a blast. Fighting was a kind of release for him, an out for his animal energies.

Logan shook his head and shoulders triumphantly, loosening up, and waved his hands in invitation. "Ya like that, huh? Wanna taste some more? C'mon!"

"Brave man dead now!" Blue Sash blurted out, spraying blood with every word.

"Then let’s do it, ya f--in' *****!"

Blue Sash roared and charged.

Logan side stepped him easily. He popped his claws on one hand and drew them across the man's belly. Blue Sash was out of control with rage and his momentum carried him into the blades. The force of it almost cut him in half as Logan's claws sliced right through him just as nice as you please. Blue Sash sagged and dropped to the floor with a twisted scream as his guts spilled out onto the ground. Logan pulled his hand up and finished the movement of his deadly dance elegantly, his eyes wild and defiant. He threw his head back and howled with the thrill of the kill. It was sometimes too easy for him to get lost in it and lose grip with his humanity. He was magnificent and horrible all at once. No one else moved in the room, they were awestruck by his ferocity. Blue Sash twitched and died unaided as his blood spread into a large pool around his body.
The moment passed. The soldier with the gold sash walked up to his dead compatriot and kicked the body, then looked away, bored. He barked an order to the medical officer who was sitting at the table. The man picked up a small gun and shot Logan with it casually as if he did this sort of thing all the time.

Logan was still standing protectively over Gambit and was too busy watching Gold Sash to fully understand what was going on. He thought there was going to be another fight. He was wrong. The tranquilizer dart struck his arm and he crumpled with a startled grunt, falling bonelessly to the floor.

Gold Sash poked him with his foot and laughed in contempt. He went to the table and picked up another gun. This one was more like a hand scanner than a weapon. He held it up to Logan's arm and burned a bar code into his hairy bicep.

Gold Sash moved next to Remy who lay unmoving on the floor. He stripped one of his coat sleeves off and ripped the sleeve of his shirt to burn a mark on his arm, too. He picked up Remy's bo staff and looked at it curiously, finding some fascination with the weapon. He found a small button on one side and the staff retracted to the small ten inch bar. He smiled, amused with Gambit’s little toy.

He put restraining collars on the two mutants.

Somewhere along the line a scientist for one of the anti-mutant groups had designed special collars that blocked out whatever gifts a mutant had been given. Not many were made and they were rarely found on Earth. The Dognan seemed to have acquired one of these and copied the technology for themselves to control the alphas they harvested by accident. Gambit would not be able to charge objects with his power or Logan to heal. They were essentially pacified and unable to act.
Gold Sash looked back at Beast who was still standing. "You there! Come this way please!"

Henry gave up and shut his image inducer off. He was now revealed, a huge hulking mass of blue fur, dressed only in a pair of tight fitting shorts. Because of his fur, Beast was simply too hot fully dressed.
Gold Sash just laughed when he saw the blue fur. "You silly alphas! You fool no one. Smelled you as soon as I saw you. You want to fight me, too?" Henry just glared at him. "Didn't think so. You come now! Come here or your friends will die."

Henry obeyed meekly, coming up to him slowly. What else could he do? He reminded himself that it was better to live and fight another day. He offered no resistance as his arm was burned and a collar put on his neck. He sighed when he felt the weakness seep into his body, the collar was draining away his strength. He was still blue and furry, nothing would ever change that, but he was not as strong or as agile as he would be normally.

"Alphas too strong for slaves. Got something better for you," Gold Sash cackled. He waved his hand and a group of soldiers came. They grabbed Gambit and Wolverine and dragged them away. Henry was towed along as well. The X-men were tossed into a holding cell and energy cuffs were placed on Logan's wrists. These powerful restraining cuffs made Wolverine’s arms numb so he would be unable to pop his claws and cause more trouble. After that, they were left alone. From where he stood, Beast could hear the sounds of screaming men. The cat men were slaughtering the weak.

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After a few moments, Gambit groaned and came awake slowly. He wiped at the cut on his head and winced. His head was one huge throbbing ache. He was dimly aware of movement beside him and felt familiar blue comforting hands lightly touch his face. "Uhhh...Where we at?" Remy wheezed, looking around. Through bleary eyes, he could see they were in a large metal cage attached to a wall. "Dis don’ look like no ‘Oliday Inn Gambit ever sleep in."

"Holding cell for the moment," Beast replied as he examined Remy’s injury. "We have no way of knowing where this facility is actually located."
"Guess dis mean no decent room service." Remy was never one to be caught unprepared. He slid a small lock pick from his pants pocket with a smile. He was well trained in the delicate art of lockpicking and this wouldn’t have been his first attempt at a restraining collar or cuffs.

"Mebbe dis 'elp, non?"

"Perhaps, but I fear they wouldn't be so quick to let us leave alive if we cause more trouble than we already have. They seem to have an endless supply of personnel. Besides, Logan is still down."

Gambit looked over Henry's large blue shoulder. Wolverine lay in heap, his bloody hands still cuffed. The restraining collar was preventing his body's natural healing factor from purging whatever sedative he'd been shot with. Who knew how long he'd be out. He was probably going to be all pissed off about it, too when he woke up. Logan was normally crabby to begin with but confinement only made him worse. The energy cuffs were of a different design than Remy had never seen, they didn’t have a visible lock. Without a pickable lock, even this talented thief wouldn't be able to get those off either. He looked up at Henry's collar, giving it a quick once over. Of course it was booby trapped. No way that was coming off without some damage. Damn.

"Dis ain't lookin' too good, homme. Looks like we in for de ride."

"So it would seem. Perhaps, if we are patient, an opportunity will present itself."

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They sat in the holding cell for two days, watching helplessly as more groups of humans were taken past them to be killed. The screaming was horrible. Beast figured at least three other large shipments of people had been captured as they had been. He guessed they must be on some kind of ship or large transport, but couldn't really tell from their location. He sincerely hoped they were still on Earth so that an escape might still be possible for them. No more alphas were added to their pen, though. Mutants were still pretty rare, thankfully.


The time passed slowly. Logan was angry about the collar when he woke, but didn't complain. He just moved off to sulk in a corner, his eyes blazing. The others knew better than to try and talk to him so they left him alone. The energy cuffs paralyzed Logan's arms so he couldn't pop his claws and hack them free from their prison. The Dognan seem to have thought of everything.

They were not fed and had only one bowl of water to share between the three of them. Logan passed on the water most of the time, giving his share to Remy. Remy had a large cut on his forehead from being hit with the gun. There was nothing decent to clean it with and they couldn't spare the water so it soon grew infected and swollen. He was soon feverish and sick after only a few hours. Henry tried to comfort him, but he was in a lot of pain and there was nothing that could be done about it.

Gambit tried to hide it by joking around, but his misery was obvious.

They were given a bucket to use as a toilet. Logan wasn't uncuffed so he had to rely on the others to help him out. The soldiers laughed at his predicament, taunting him with sexual jokes and insults. He was livid. It wasn’t the limit of the torment they would endure. An endless supply of soldiers came to visit. They banged sticks on the bars of the cell and yelled insults at them. Garbage and moldy food scraps were tossed in as well. Logan stayed in his corner, pissed off and speaking to no one.

On the second day of their captivity, they were surprised when an automated voice chimed in from a speaker above them. "Jump sequence activated. Initializing in ten minutes."

A Dognan soldier looked in on them as he passed by. "You, there. Hold on. Bumpy ride, it comes," he laughed and walked away. The other cat men moved about, securing items and taking seats.

"What's this all about?" Henry demanded but no one answered.

He received an explanation of sorts when the ship was jolted violently and the world seemed to come apart. All sense of reality was gone as everything in the room bent and twisted, warping into a nightmare. There was no sense of up or down, front or back. The floor was a cresting tidal wave and they all toppled over. He heard Logan howl in confusion and rage, the man relied on his senses to orient himself and this wild acid trip was torture to him.

Henry slid across the traitorous floor and managed to grab a hold of Gambit before he went too far. Logan toppled and slammed into them, smashing them with his weight. All of that Adamantium added an extra hundred pounds or so to him and it wasn’t much fun to those on the receiving end of it. The X-men crashed into the bars of their cage, bringing a tortured shout of pain from the already injured Gambit. They barely had time to duck as their toilet bucket flew over them and sprayed the soldiers outside. Logan managed a twisted laugh at the rude payback when he heard someone complain. The room settled down to normal after a minute. Reality came back, and they looked around disoriented.

Logan recovered quickly and staggered to his feet. Henry pulled Remy up and dusted him off. Gambit just sagged against him, trying not to heave. He was dizzy and sick and that little spin did little to help him.

"Well, that's high on my list of things I never wanna do again," Logan complained. He looked at Henry. "What was that?"

"No idea. If I had to guess, I'd say whatever vehicle we're on was teleported as a whole to another location. The real question is, where are we now?"

They wouldn't get an answer for another couple of hours. Finally, a company of cat men came and collected them. They were dragged without mercy down winding halls. Henry did his best to try and follow where they were going but was soon lost in all the twists and turns. They eventually made their way to a shipping bay where several ships were parked. They were moved onto a loading platform and Beast realized to his horror that they had been on some kind of huge spacecraft all this time. He had no idea if the rest of the X folks back home even knew where they were. Any hopes he may have had for a quick rescue were shattered, they were on their own.

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They were hauled up onto a smaller craft and chained to a bar in the main cabin. This new craft was small, it only had one large room with a viewing screen like a huge television in front. It was almost like being inside a small theater. A short row of seats ran along the back wall and faced the screen. There was no captain’s chair or control panel in sight and Henry was confused. How was this ship flown?

In the center of the room was a strange looking wooden pole like a pogo stick with bars at foot and shoulder height. It was mounted floor to ceiling and resting on it comfortably was an odd looking creature. It was a woman, but not human...not anymore. She was naked, revealing just how alien she really was. She had alabaster skin and shock white hair like all the color had been bleached out of her. Her head and torso were that of a normal human, but that’s where all the similarity stopped. She possessed the leathery wings of a bat but they were too small for any practical use, they were certainly too small for her to fly with them on their own. Her small white hands were clawed and her legs were bent like the hind legs of a cat as the Dognan’s were. Her fore arms and calves were thick with white fur and her feet were paws with two large furred toes. In between those toes was a large retractable claw that glinted wickedly in the light and seemed dangerous. The whole combination of alterations made her look unnatural and unappealing to the human eye. She stood casually on the stick and gripped it like she was riding a bike. She stared sightlessly forward at the viewing screen mounted on the wall behind where the X-men were led to and chained.

The craft slowly filled with cat men and one of them approached the X-men, his lion’s eyes gleaming with curiosity. His uniform was decorated with both gold and silver sashes, marking him as a high ranking officer. He looked down on them not unkindly and spoke. "You there, alphas. I am Frishnan, captain of this vessel. You are now privileged to see Cerise, a stronghold of the mighty Dognan. You will make good sport for the pens. It's been some time since we've had an alpha from your world, never mind three in one shipment. How very exciting."

"Kiss my ass!" Logan snarled, diplomacy not being one of his strong suits.

Frishnan just smiled at him indulgently, his eyes merry. "I would do you better than that, my lovely, but we've no time for it." He withdrew, barking an order to the white female and the ship made ready to depart.

"What is dis love fascination dey have for you, furball?" Gambit joked weakly with a sly grin. Pain was never a factor in limiting his ability to toss out one liners if given the chance.

"Must be his charming use of the language," Henry offered, smiling himself. One thing the X-men had learned over the course of a million missions was always to take advantage of a moment of levity. In all that time, they’d had few casualties. While they were on their own at the moment, Henry was confident they could still get out of this, all they needed was an opportunity.

"Take us out, pilot!" Frishnan ordered to the white bird woman. She nodded and there was a kind of humming as the craft slipped smoothly out of the bay. The X-men could feel the craft lift up and then pick up speed. When they had gone only a short distance, Frishnan gave another order. The X-men were next startled when blue flame, not unlike electricity, burst from the arms of the white pilot. It was absorbed into the stick she was riding and vanished. The ship surged powerfully forward and the X-men next had to grip the bar to keep from sliding across the floor. They realized that the strange female perched on that stick seemed to be using the it to guide the ship. The screen projected a forward view of their travel, but she just stared blankly, not really watching it as it marked their progress. It seemed as though she were guiding the ship simply by feel.
Henry with his well trained scientific eye didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. This pilot’s ability to produce those blue flames was the source of this ship’s power. She also clearly possessed some telekinetic ability and was using it to control the ship.

Telekinesis was one of the more fascinating mutant abilities because it presented itself in many different ways. Primarily, it was the ability to move objects by mental command. Most mutants who could fly, flew by this mental power. They simply moved themselves just by thinking about it.

The ability wasn’t limited to movement. Some telekinetics could produce shields of hardened air by mentally manipulating air particles and making them so dense, nothing could penetrate them. These shields were used to protect themselves or others. The X-men had one of these telekinetic mutants on their team, a woman named Jean Grey. She had been an asset to the team, getting them out of many scraps by using protective shields or flinging large objects at their enemies.

Telekinetics were always valuable on a fighting team. Most powerful fighters like Logan could be shut down quickly just by picking them up off of the ground and denying them their ability to maneuver. A powerful telekinetic could even crush his prey by creating a shield around their victim and using it to suffocate them. For this, there was almost no defense.

The most powerful telekinetics could make shields, break them into pieces and use those pieces as weapons. What could be more terrifying than a person who could conjure weapons out of thin air? These telekinetics were very rare and almost always snapped up by the most persuasive of mutant teams.

Beast watched this pilot, fascinated. He was relaxed and calm as he did so. He couldn’t fight this and so took the time to observe his surroundings and think instead. The scientist in him was always curious about the new places he was taken to and the people he saw there. It amazed him that the pilot appeared to be both telekinetic and a producer of bio-kinetic energy that she was using to power the ship, back home she would be highly prized indeed for having such dual abilities. Henry wondered if she was born this way or forcibly mutated by the Dognan. Looking at her misshapen, unnatural appearance, Henry figured the latter.

They flew for about an hour or so. Frishnan was a gracious host. He came by and gave them some light traveling food and water, for which the X-men were grateful. They ate some sandwiches and crackers with cheese. The food appeared to be of Earth origin and was quite good. He had one of his men clean up Gambit's bloody face, but didn't dress the seeping wound. Even he could see there was no hope for it getting treated properly on this ship.

Frishnan appeared to be fascinated by Wolverine. He would stare at him with a curious, wistful smile saying nothing. Once, while the X-men were being fed, he attempted to touch Logan but pulled back with a smile when he tried to bite. "Lovely..." Frishnan whispered.

Wolverine spat at him and he walked away. Logan wouldn't take his eyes off of him, untrusting.

Before long, the X-men felt the craft land and prepared themselves for anything. If an opportunity to escape presented itself, they would be ready. Frishnan led the group of men who hauled them outside.

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They had landed on a tall platform which provided an open, panoramic view of this new world on which they now found themselves. The platform was quite large and several ships were parked there. They disembarked and Frishnan let them wander close to one of the railed edges. It was almost dawn, but no stars or moon could be seen through an impenetrable sky of dark brooding clouds. The only light came from large flood lights on the platform itself and from the huge Dognan complex close by. It didn’t keep them from gasping with wonder and horror at where they found themselves now.

They looked out at what seemed to be the aftermath of some sort of cataclysmic holocaust. Below the platform was the ruins of a great city laid to waste. It stretched out for miles, they couldn’t see the edges of it any direction. Shattered husks of tall skyscrapers crouched over lifeless streets strewn with the wreckage of mangled bombed out cars. If they didn’t know any different, it looked like any earth city, only deserted and abandoned. The only signs of activity came from a steady stream of Dognan ships flying overhead. They were sleek and beautiful, clearly armed with huge guns and decorated with striking Dognan markings, not unlike Chinese symbols. They combed the rubbled, damaged streets with search lights but what they were looking for, the X-men could not guess. It didn’t seem as though anything alive could possibly survive for long here.

Logan gagged as he breathed in the polluted air. All around was the horrible smell of burning fires and decay, a torment to his enhanced sense of smell. A slight breeze carried the dust from the ruins and brought with it, the reek of death. Frishnan took Logan’s chain and led him off to one side where they could look down at the ruins. Frishnan spoke to him as he pointed out some sights.

"This was once a beautiful city. That was once a huge tower, there a fort. The Clan are rebels who are trying to take over this planet. So far, they have been very successful at destroying it so badly no one else will want it. This is all that remains of our last base. The Clan will take it soon as well. They think that to do so will bring an end to our rule, but they are wrong. We own many worlds such as this and they will never be rid of us. These Clan...pah! They are a disgusting race. The worst of the human scum we have harvested. They have no sense of social order. They are savage and live only to war on others. They destroy all that is beautiful. We Dognan at least try to integrate the best of the societies we encounter. The Clan just wreck everything and make a big stink in the air.
"See that?" Frishnan asked, pointing to a yellow glowing fenced off section of the city. It looked to be several blocks wide. "Those are the pens. We created them to dispose of the weak and unuseful. It is also where alphas like yourself are disposed of. Alphas are much too unruly for slaves so we have little choice. You could take your chances there and face the packs or you could stay with me. I would take good care of one such as you." He smiled at Logan and the feral mutant smelled his arousal.

Logan jerked away from him in disgust, baring his teeth with a revolted hiss.

Frishnan just smiled sadly, his disappointment obvious. "You may yet come to regret that decision, my friend."

"I doubt it," Wolverine snapped, yanking on his chain. He wanted to be as far away from Frishnan as possible, even if it meant the pens.
Frishnan didn’t repeat his offer, he merely gathered up his charges and led them away. They went down a small staircase to the next level below the platform and were taken inside a nearby building. It was a detention center with many holding cells. They placed inside the first large cell they came to and released. Logan was still cuffed and they still wore the restraining collars, but were unchained from one another and could move around a little. They never saw Frishnan again.
This holding cell was larger than the last, but was still a metal cage with two walls made of brick. The X-men moved towards the back as more prisoners came along and were tossed in with them. Gambit sagged against the back wall, the heels of his hands pressed into his eyes. His head was one huge agony and he was finding it harder and harder to maintain his sense of humor. The cut on his forehead burned with a heat he knew all too well. It was infected and not getting any better. His head pounded, a curse he couldn't escape. Beast stood close to him reassuringly, bumping his shoulder gently with his own, and Remy took some comfort in his kindness. Logan was a tense ball of white hot rage beside him. The man was really wired.

More people were being added to the cell. They were human, but white and washed out like the female pilot. That was it then, Henry thought to himself. The Dognan captured humans and forcibly mutated them to make them stronger or better somehow. It seemed the Dognan liked to mutate their slaves into shapes like themselves. Most of them had clawed hands and bent cat legs. Almost all of the new arrivals were injured or weak in some way. Some looked half starved and beaten. These were rejects, souls no longer suitable for work or anything else. None of them had restraining collars on or were cuffed. They merely shuffled in like zombies and stood quietly, resigned to their fates.

One of the last to be added was a small white female with wings, a pilot like the one in the ship that brought them here. She was tiny and delicate, frail looking. She hopped feebly to the rear, not putting her weight on one of her feet. One of her legs had been crushed some time ago and healed poorly, she couldn't really walk on it. Henry was confused by this, she should have been able to fly if his assumption of telekinesis was true. Then he saw the reason --- they'd put a restraining collar on her so she couldn't fly or use her blue flame power. She made her way to the back awkwardly, fearful of all around her. She was very small and fragile looking compared to the other slaves.

She came close to Wolverine, but one look at his dark, scowling face made her steer clear. She ended up next to Henry. The cell was getting crowded and she bumped into him awkwardly. She looked up, startled, into his big blue face and expected him to lash out at her, but was greeted instead with a gentle smile.

"Pardon me," Beast apologized politely, even though it wasn't his mistake.
"It's a little crowded," she said in a quiet, trembling voice. She smiled at him shyly. She was lost in this room full of people much larger than herself.

Henry was surprised at her voice, the other pilot had been silent and he wasn’t sure these pilots could even talk. He continued to smile at her warmly, trying to put her at ease. Perhaps she could tell him something of this place. "Hello there, I'm Henry."

"My name is Shayla. I'd shake hands, but you know..." Her hands were cuffed with the arm numbing bracelets. She responded to the warmth of his smile and seemed less afraid of him now. "You're an alpha."

"Why yes, I suppose I am. Don't be frightened. I won't hurt you." He glanced down to her bent and twisted leg. She was leaning on her gnarled foot. It was bent almost completely backwards and the toe claw was missing. "What happened to your leg?"

"I'm a pilot. I fly the ships. We got shot down by the Clan on one of their raids. I was injured and blamed for the crash of our ship even though it really wasn't my fault. Whoever flew the Clan ship was a much better pilot than I was. My leg didn't heal right and it looks ugly, so here I am. I can still make the Ristle, you know? I don't understand why they can't still use me." she protested, scared.

"What is Ristle?"

"That's the energy we use to power the ships."

Henry remembered the blue flame of the pilot who had brought them here. "Yes, I recall seeing another pilot using it. I didn't know what it was. Is it some kind of bio-kenetic energy?"

"I don't know what it is for sure, I know only pilots can make it. It's a privilege to be chosen as pilot," she said almost proudly, in denial of the horror of being forcibly mutated. "We're considered to be very valuable."

"Not so valuable if yer broken," Wolverine growled sarcastically from beside Gambit.

Shayla cowered down, fearful of him. He looked angry and mean like a cornered animal.

"He won't hurt you," Henry apologized in a soothing voice. "He's with me and my friend here. This is Gambit."

Remy gave her a small wave. His eyes were glassy and distant. He didn’t look like he really saw her, he just acknowledged her politely from hearing Henry speak. He was dazed now and in pain, just trying to get by until the cavalry arrived. It was becoming difficult for him to think and he was so tired...so very tired.

Shayla gazed with wonder into Remy's blood red eyes and saw his suffering. "He's sick."

"Yes, but I am a doctor," Henry replied. "Hopefully when we get to where we're going, I can find something to help him."

"Then you'd better pray Death finds him quickly," she said in a whisper so Remy wouldn't hear. "The pens are where they send us to die."

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The Dognan soldiers came eventually and chained all the prisoners together. The X-men and Shayla were towards the rear of the cell so they were at the end of the line. Shayla was the slowest and was last. She had to hop quickly to keep up. She wasn’t doing well, she fell a couple of times and was beaten by the guards. Henry tried to help her as best he could by holding her up with his hands as much as possible.

They shuffled outside of the building through a different door than they had come in and moved out onto a large paved area. It stretched out far in all directions and looked like a parking lot for a shopping mall or for ships that weren’t here at the moment. It was twilight now and the sky was filling up with stars as the sun went down.

They were marched towards the fenced in area Frishnan had showed Logan before. The pen was massive, spreading out into the distance ahead of them with no end in sight. It was fully enclosed, fenced in on all sides with walls as tall as the skyscrapers within, including the top as if the inmates could fly out. Henry thought of Shayla and supposed some of them could. It seemed like they would march forever to get there and the walls just got higher as they approached. It was intimidating and disheartening.

Henry was startled out of his thoughts when the line of prisoners stopped abruptly. Gambit with his head down in a red fog of misery, stumbled into Logan who was ahead of him.

"Watch it, Cajun!" Logan growled, disgruntled. He turned to glare at the bean pole of a man behind him and didn't like what he saw there. Gambit's eyes were glazed and unfocused. Logan could smell the sickness wafting off of him and swallowed the unease it created inside of him.

"Je suis de’sole, homme," Gambit wheezed. "Hard t' see wit you bein' so shrimpy n' all," he joked feebly, justifying his excuse by speaking in the wrong direction. He was totally out of it.

"Best get frosty, Gumbo," Logan cautioned. "We don't know what's waitin' in there fer us."

"I'm on it, patron." Remy shook his head a little to try and clear it, but all it did was make him dizzy. He was unbelievably thirsty and swayed unsteadily on his feet. Henry caught him with a huge blue shoulder and steadied him. Gambit felt a little like a pinball being bounced recklessly back and forth. His stomach heaved, but he swallowed and the spell passed.

Logan got a good look at the fence as it glowed evilly in the gloom. It was cris crossed like chain link, but was really some kind of energy field. One of the guards unchained the first slave in line. The slave was dragged, screaming, and mercilessly tossed onto the fence. His body caught fire and was incinerated in seconds. What was left blew away in a cloud of ash. The guard said nothing; no further explanation was necessary. The soldiers spread out and started handing out small backpacks to the prisoners. There was a vibrating grinding noise as part of the fence opened in front of them like a rolling gate. The line of prisoners moved forward once again and before long, all were inside. One by one, the slaves were unchained by armed Dognan guards. Shayla and the alphas were approached and held at gunpoint while their restraints were removed. The guards retreated and the gate closed. The new arrivals were on their own.

At once, the white slaves that came in with the X-men scattered, trying to find places to hide. The area close to the fence had been cleared of buildings, making an open space for the guards to work, but there were other buildings close by. The slaves ran off into the alley ways and through the broken windows of the shattered buildings. Shayla and the X-men stood now alone in the wide open area not quite sure what do next.

"I'm t’inkin' mebbe dat’s a bad sign," Gambit suggested wryly. He didn’t have to be sharp to notice how swiftly they had been left behind.

Shayla cringed against Beast, her chosen protector. "I’m scared!"

"We’ll look after you," he promised and gave her shoulder a squeeze.

"We'd best stick close together," Logan advised gruffly, taking charge. He rubbed his wrists, feeling the numbness dissipate with satisfaction. He was free now and back in control of himself. He surveyed the area, using all of his senses to try and get his bearings. The electric energy fence crackled above them and on all sides. A street opened out in front of them, beckoning. Tall ruins of sky scrapers stood on either side of them and burned out wrecks of cars lay all around them like discarded children's toys. They didn't look much different from Earth vehicles, making this all seem a little surreal. Garbage and debris was strewn about everywhere and the building s spoke only of long time neglect. There was the awful stink of death like this place was one huge graveyard, but no bodies could be seen.

"Let’s find a place to hole up," Wolverine said finally, ready to get moving. "It’ll be full dark soon and I don’t think we should be on the street."

"Let's walk a bit first, shall we?" Beast added. "Maybe the buildings will be in better shape further in."

They started to head down the street, Henry giving support to a weak and shuffling Gambit. He was good as long as he was pointed in a straight line, but wasn’t even looking around him. All he wanted was a place to fall down.

Shayla, now unrestrained, fared much better. She flew lightly over the ground, pulling her damaged leg up high to protect it. She was all spirit and grace, confidant now she was back in her element. Henry couldn’t help but marvel at her a little, she was beautiful up in the air and not so malformed as the pilots appeared to be at first glance and he hoped nothing bad would happen to her here.

Logan was too busy to wonder about their new friend. He could feel the hairs rising on the back of his neck and knew what it meant. They were being watched, but couldn't see any one out in the open. He looked more closely at the buildings and saw what appeared to be small cameras mounted on the walls. The Dognan were tracking their progress. He hoped that was the source of his unease but knew they wouldn't be that lucky.
They hadn't gone far down the street when a small pack of white figures came out in front of them, a few yards away. They were white slaves like the ones they had come in with. Old timers of the pens, they were hard and confident in their territory. They were dressed in ragged, ripped up clothes and filthy. None of them had shoes. There were five of them in a star shaped pattern, blocking the X-men’s path.

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The leader, a huge white male, threw his head back and howled a challenge.

Logan answered him by stepping forward and popping his claws. Gambit became aware of the trouble and felt that surge of adrenalin that always came before a fight. It revived him momentarily and he stooped down slowly and scooped up some rocks from the street. He charged them with energy from his body and they rested in his hand, glowing red and ready.
Logan walked forward and the leader of the pack came to meet him. The two recognized they were the authority and dominant ones of their respective groups. They circled each other warily, taking each other's measure. This white male was much larger than Logan with a longer reach, but not in as good physical condition. He was lean and scraggly, food was obviously scarce here. He lashed out suddenly, tossing out a knife he'd hidden along his forearm. It whistled through the air and landed with a thunk! in Wolverine's gut just above his pants.

Logan stepped back with a startled grunt. He took the handle of the dagger in one hand and slid the knife out with a mischievous smile. He cocked an eyebrow and said, "If that's all ya got, son, I feel sorry fer you already."

The cut immediately began to close, his healing factor kicking in and repairing the wound. The injury was still very painful, but Logan possessed a lifetime of dealing with extreme pain. This was nothing new for him. His attacker waited for him to start falling down and was perplexed when it didn't happen.

Logan flipped the knife skillfully in his hand and held it ready. "Want it back?"

The slave didn't answer him but barked a sharp command to the pack. They rushed forward and attacked the X-men. Gambit threw his charged rocks and they flew far and accurately, landing near the two smallest members of the pack. The rocks exploded loudly on impact, sending the men flying. The men shrieked in terror as they were tossed, surprised and frightened by the blast that had seemingly come out of nowhere. They whimpered and ran away, not wanting any more.

The leader and a friend were more bold. They jumped on Logan, biting and clawing at his eyes like the savages they were. He fought them with a strange smile of happiness. It felt good to unleash his frustration on someone and he was thankful for the exercise. He gave them no mercy and got none in return.

The remaining pack member took a shot at Beast, but Henry dodged him easily and tossed him into a wrecked car with enough force to stun him. The big man was quick and agile, no match for his scrawny malnourished opponent. Shayla cowered on the ground, unused to fighting and all but useless.

Wolverine snarled in irritation when one of his attackers grabbed at the knife he had discarded on the ground. He smacked it out of the guy’s hand as soon as it was picked up and spun, hacking and slashing with his claws. He was a much better fighter than these pitiful scraps of men who had the stupidity to attack him and he was all done fooling around. He whirled with a roar, slitting the throat of the leader and ripping open the belly of the other. Blood gushed out everywhere, covering Logan and soaking him through.

Logan stood easy now, his sides heaving from his effort, and surveyed the damage. The man who had his belly opened lay groaning at his feet. "Kill me...before they eat me!" he gasped. Logan didn’t quite get his meaning, but he complied just he same, slitting the poor unfortunate’s throat without a word. It was a mercy, the man was going to die anyway.
"What 'e say?" Gambit asked in a daze. The rush had worn off and he was now more exhausted than ever. He blinked and swayed unsteadily, licking his dry and chapped lips. He wasn’t going to be awake much longer, everything was all hazy now.

"Nuthin’," Wolverine replied gruffly to his question. They had no time for conversation, they had to get moving. He could see Gambit was going to fall down any moment now and they couldn’t move quickly if he had to be carried.

Wolverine stripped off his T-shirt and tried to wipe off as much of the blood covering himself as he could. All he did was smear it and he was going to stink like high heaven before long. He balled up the shirt in frustration and jammed as much of it he could into his back pocket. "Let's get outta here."

Before they even moved a few feet, there was a rustle of wings from overhead.

"What now?!" Henry complained.

Once more, the X-men assumed their defensive positions. They stood their ground as another pack, this time comprised solely of pilots, descended from the sky like angelic, human birds. The X-men were now surrounded by nine females, all tiny but powerful in their own right. Nine pairs of glowing blue hands put an end to all resistance. The leader, a confident sleek, well fed creature approached Logan. She raised her chin arrogantly and spoke clearly. "We come not for you, alphas. The pilot, she comes with us."

Shayla cringed behind Beast and he put an arm around her protectively.

Logan looked back at her. "She don't wanna go."

She ignored him and spoke to Shayla. "I am Carma, Leader of the Angels of the Fallen. You will come with us. The Clan will come for these alphas and you will be left alone. As a pilot, you are superior to all. You are one of us. We shall fly the skies and be free."

Wolverine stepped aside to let Shayla decide. He was not one to interfere in this kind of thing, not in a place like this. Folks had to make up their own minds. Shayla hopped forward feebly, then spread her wings and gracefully flew to his side. She looked into the eyes of Carma, seeing kinship there. "I will come."

Carma kissed her cheek and took her hand. They flew off, leaving the rest of the pack behind.

Logan turned to the rest, growling defensively. True to their leader’s word, the tiny white females ignored the X-men, instead they stepped away towards the dead bodies of the previous pack that lay on the ground. They picked them up and carried them off without speaking.

"Why dey do dat?" Remy asked naively. Logan had a real good idea but didn't answer. Instead he took off, leading them on to safer ground.

They moved quickly, following Wolverine's lead. He was peering into windows checking out the insides of buildings. He led them down a side street into what he hoped was a more secluded area. He finally found a basement of one building that satisfied him and they crawled inside.
Gambit found a corner and collapsed with a groan. He shivered and passed out.

Henry went to him. "He's got a fever. I don't like the look of that head wound."

"Nuthin' to be done about it now. When it get's full dark I'll scout around. See what I can find." There was a rusted out sink against the back wall of this basement. Logan turned the water on and sniffed it. It wasn't good enough to drink, but he could use it to clean up a little. His healing factor dispelled any fear of poisoning or infection from tainted water. He just wanted to get some of this blood off of himself. He didn't know if any of the slaves could track and wasn’t going to chance them following his stink down here. He stripped down and rinsed out his clothes, using a tiny sliver of soap he found then hung his clothes up on some hanging wires to drip dry. That finished, he had one last job to do. He leaned over the basin and popped a claw. He began scraping his arm where the bar code had been burned in. He grunted in pain as he worked. The mark went quite deep, but he was damned if he was going to keep it.

Beast watched him quietly, always amazed at Logan's extreme tolerance for pain. As fast as Logan was cutting, his body was repairing and there was very little blood. At last he was satisfied. He put his arm under the faucet and cleaned the blood and skin away. His skin was smooth as though he'd done nothing more than scratch an itch.


Henry decided to check their supplies. He was disappointed to see what they had would not sustain them for long. Each backpack had a day's worth of food, a bottle of water and a small, thin blanket. He combined the blankets and covered Remy. He knew better than to pester Logan with small talk so he leaned against the wall and tried to get some rest.

Beast startled awake some time later when Gambit moaned and thrashed, knocking over a glass bottle. Henry had no idea how long he'd been asleep, but it was dark out. Logan was gone. His clothes still hung by the sink, he'd left them behind. Henry went to Gambit and tried to soothe him. He felt helpless without any medical supplies. Remy was burning up with fever and delirious. He wasn't going to last long like this. Henry gave him some water and he quieted. Henry hoped Wolverine could find something to help them out of this mess. Things weren't looking too good right now.

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Wolverine moved quickly and silently in the inky blackness. This was his element, his world. He could see perfectly in the dark. He looked up at the dark moonless night. It was cloudy here and the only light came from the eerily glowing fence above him. It was nice to be outside and out of the spacecrafts, but he had no time to really enjoy his situation. He had to find out whatever he could about this new place. He stood still, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His nose and other senses told him everything he needed to know. This was not a highly populated place. What few people there were tended to gather in small packs, obeying the rule about safety in numbers. He moved on, avoiding those buildings where he could sense people inside. It wasn’t that he couldn’t handle himself, he just wanted to keep a low profile for now. As he moved about, he was unable to find any food or medicine anywhere and felt his earlier good spirits drain away.

He did find a small drinking fountain that was okay to use. He drank his fill, figuring to give the water in his pack to the others. He splashed the ice cold water over his face, washing up some more. It was warm here and he was sweaty and dirty from rummaging around. He’d never been known to be the cleanest person, being only one or two steps away from feral, but decided to make the best of this opportunity while he had the chance.

Logan wasn’t one to express his feelings, but he was very concerned about Remy. He always considered himself to be the protector, the one who looked after everyone else because he was best equipped to do it. Now one of his people was down and it was up to him to fix it. He checked in every box, every cupboard, but there was nothing. Whatever had been around was picked clean long ago and was a distant memory. This place had been unused by civilians for a long time, for years probably. Logan saw where someone had tried eating wood and clothing and knew this was not a good sign for their chances. They had no real food and no way out that he could see. If he wanted anything, he might be forced to steal it from someone else.

He found the Dognan equivalent of a dumpster and crawled silently inside to rummage around. He froze, crouching, when he heard voices coming from somewhere outside.

"Of course, they're coming! There's alphas here, I saw them. The Clan always come when alphas are here." The speaker was a man. "All we have to do is figure out where the Clan will strike. When they come to free the alphas, they'll take us, too. You just follow me, Greth. I'll take care of you."

"I hope you're right, Milan. I don't know how much longer I can last. I can't feel my stomach any more!" His companion was female. She was speaking a little too loudly for her safety Logan guessed, and he was right. There was the sound of breaking glass and a shriek as the two of them were suddenly set upon by a pack that was hiding nearby. Logan heard a brief bloody fight of which the outcome was never really in question. He peeked out the lid of the dumpster.

Two people lay ripped and shredded on the ground, the ones Logan had overheard talking. They were surrounded by a good sized pack of white slaves with at least ten members. The pack was devouring them ravenously, gobbling them down before they were even fully dead. This pack was completely feral, snarling and growling amongst themselves and fighting over the best pieces.

Logan shuddered. He'd eaten his share of nasty things to stay alive before in his long life, but had never been forced to this extreme. He sat back in the dumpster and made himself as comfortable as possible. He would have to wait for the pack to finish eating and leave before he could come out. He was in no mood for another fight.

He thought about what the two victims had said before they were killed. It sounded like the Clan made a habit out of raiding the pens for alphas. He figured that their chances were better with the Clan than hanging out in here. All he had to do was try to figure out where the Clan would try to get them. It would be better if they were close to the fence he guessed, unless the Clan tunneled its way in.

He heard a familiar rustle of wings and another quick skirmish. Peeking out once more, he saw Carma's Angels of the Fallen fighting with the white slaves over the freshly killed meat. They used telekinesis to push the pack back and blue sparks of energy to drive them away.

Shayla was very close to Logan's dumpster, terrified. She hadn't participated in the fight, but didn't try to stop it. She looked on in horror as her new friends began to eat the dead. They were using small bursts of Ristle energy to cook the meat as fast as they could eat it. Logan knew that it was just a matter of time before starvation drove her to join them.

Shayla turned suddenly and their eyes met. He held a finger to his lips and she nodded, recognizing him. She would not betray his presence. He lowered himself back inside and waited. After a while he heard the pilots break up and take off. He decided to wait a bit first, then quietly snuck out. All that was left of the two people who had been slaughtered were two bloody smears and the big heavy bones that were too hard to break open.

He headed back to the others in a fast trot, concerned for their safety. He was relieved to find his two teammates safe and sound, even though Remy’s condition was getting worse. Henry asked him what he had seen and Logan gave him a quick sketch, leaving out the part about the packs eating the dead. He didn’t want Henry to worry. Logan was confident he could protect Beast and Gambit from the packs and he saw no need to add to their stress with such a horrific tale. He curled up in a corner, dressing for warmth and fell into an uneasy sleep, dreaming of pilots and raw meat.

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Wolverine wasn’t the only one dreaming. Remy was burning up with fever, his mind made numb by his sickness. He was asleep, but woke after a moment, lost in a deep dark fog. He didn’t know where he was, only that this place had the stink of death all over it. His body was in agony, aching all over. He felt like he’d been chewed up by some horrible monster and spat back out again.

"Somebody get de name of dat truck...?" he joked feebly to himself.

He rose up on unsteady feet and tried to make out where he was. The lighting here was dim and it was hard for him to see all around him, but he could tell the walls were made of rough hewn rock. It seemed as though he was in some kind of cave. He could see a brighter light in the distance and shuffled drunkenly towards it.

" ‘Enry? Wolvie? You guys done leave Gambit on ‘is own again?" he called out, but no one answered.

He kept moving. The closer he got to the light, the colder it was getting. He wrapped his arms around himself as he shivered. The cold should have been warning enough not to continue in this direction, but he had lost control of his body and kept plodding dutifully forward. The opening was a hole in the rock wall. He had been in a cave after all. He fell through the hole and tumbled down outside into a deep drift of snow.

He looked up in shock and surprise to find Rogue hovering a few feet above him, using her mild telekinetic power to fly. She was one of his teammates and the girl who’d stolen his heart for all time. His heart ached at the sight of her, he loved her so much.

"Rogue! Oh, t’ank God! Ol’ Gambit was worried dere for a moment!" he gasped, shivering. She would save him. She would take him out of here. Or so he hoped.


He was disappointed when she just hovered there without moving, an angry scowl on her face. She was young and pretty, more lovely than he remembered. She ran a hand through her brown hair, teasing the white streak that formed her bangs, and tossed her head in anger. "I saved ya from the buildin’ fallin’ down, Remy, that wasn’t your fault. But out here it’s up to you whether you live or die. Ah don’t care anymore." she said in her heavy Southern accent, her voice chilling him more than the Antarctic snow around him.

Mon dieu, not dis again! Not Antarctica! Remy thought in horror, looking around him. The cave behind him was gone, replaced by an opening to a collapsed metal building. It had once been the hideout of Eric the Red, the bad guy of the Antarctica mission two years ago that had gone so horribly awry. Remy was confused as he sat drenched in snow and the sweat of his fever. Why was he back here again? This was the day he had been kicked off the team, when they had discovered his worst and most terrible secret. But this nightmare had played out in reality long ago. It was over. Done. Forgotten. He shouldn’t be back here again.

He opened his mouth to say something, but the words that came out weren’t the ones he’d wanted to say, they were the ones he’d blurted out so long ago in a useless attempt to save himself. "Rogue! I don’t care if you leave me ‘ere, chere, but you ‘ave to understand --"

"You think Ah can understand you? You think wrong, mistah," she snarled in her anger. She was from Mississippi and spoke with a Southern accent like he did. Her cheeks were flushed with fury and she never looked more beautiful.

Remy withered under her censure, the familiar guilt an old and trusted friend. It would never leave him, the horror of his crime. His voice shook as he spoke. "Fine, den. Gambit’s earned your hatred. But at least get ‘im somewhere dat’ll give ‘im a chance ta get back home!"

"Home? You ain’t got no home, Sugah. Not with me...not with the X-men, you no good, Cajun piece of trash! Fend for yourself. You seem to have done a good job of that in the past," she snapped, her voice sharp with accusation.

"But...I love you!" Remy breathed in a trembling whisper, this betrayal to his heart more than he could stand without something breaking deep inside.

"You’re supposed to be honest with people you love, Gambit. Without honesty you cain’t have trust. Without trust...what you have isn’t really love at all. G’bye, Remy." She rose quickly and flew off into the ice cold sky leaving him behind alone in the frozen waste.

"Rogue! Espe’re! Rogue, wait!" he shouted, trying to follow her, but it was no use. He was trapped here. Forgotten, rejected, left behind. Never good enough. He had been a fool to think he could ever belong anywhere after what he’d done down in the darkness so long ago.

He fell down to his knees in the snow and sobbed as he gripped himself in a hopeless defense against the cold that burned into him with its freezing, unfriendly fire. He felt his lungs begin to freeze from the arctic air, the pain all too familiar. He couldn’t breathe, he could only gasp out the same old useless apology. "I’m so sorry....I’m so sorry..."


Henry hovered over Gambit’s fevered body, worried more than he could say. They’d been hiding out in the pen now for two days, moving from place to place, trying to hide out from the packs. Remy’s condition was worsening and he had no medicine to save him. The Cajun was lost in a fever and delirious. He was thrashing and crying out, no longer lucid. More ominous than that was the choked, asthmatic wheeze of Gambit’s tortured breathing, it was as though the man couldn’t get enough air. Henry wasn’t sure if it was the fever that was causing that or some sort of panic reaction to their situation or perhaps both. All he knew for certain was his teammate was in serious trouble. Beast was stuck here, useless, unable to do more than watch his teammate fall deeper down into sickness. He had no doubt Gambit wouldn’t last much longer, perhaps not even through the next night.

Remy curled up with a groan as he shivered uncontrollably. His words were breathless sobs. "Je suis de’sole’, chere.... I’m so sorry....so sorry."

Henry sighed, all too familiar with this particular nightmare of Remy’s. He gently brushed Gambit’s sweat soaked hair back and leaned in close to his ear. "It’s all right, Remy. We’ve all forgiven you, it’s over," he whispered softly.

"Non...ne jamais...never....Can’t be undone...so cold...Gambit’s so cold, chere...’e ain’t never gonna be warm again," Remy babbled, not even awake.

Henry looked up at Wolverine who leaned quietly against the back wall. Logan was watching Gambit’s decline in his usual brooding silence. Henry knew that meant nothing. Logan had sealed off much of his emotion long ago in an attempt to control his own savage rages. Still, there was a look of pain in those steel grey eyes that his friend would never give voice to.
"He still worries over this," Henry complained.

"He shoulda known better than ta lie ta us, hidin’ things," Logan replied without malice. "Can’t say as I agree with what Rogue did that day, leavin’ him out there ta die, but bein’ on a team is about trust. If ya can’t trust yer teammates, yer in a real bad place."

"What happened was a long time ago. He’s proved himself to us time and time again since his return. Rogue has forgiven him. He should be done with this."

"Don’t matter if the team forgives ya, if ya never forgive yerself."
Their conversation didn’t get a chance to continue. Logan jerked when there was a loud explosion from close by. "Time ta go!" he growled as if he’d been expecting it. Actually he had been to a point. He’d taken the words of the two white slaves seriously and was hoping for this. He just prayed that this was the Clan and not some Dognan attempt to put them all out of their misery.

Henry was ready and tossed Remy over his shoulder. The man made no sound at all, he was finished with his fever dream, and that frightened Beast most of all. Remy was dying.

Logan led them through the streets towards the noise. He was correct in thinking the Clan would strike near the fence. He headed towards the smoke he saw rising from a hole in the ground on their side of the pen, the Clan had blasted a tunnel under the fence to break inside. A group of men climbed out of the smoking hole. He was relieved to see they were human, not cat people. They were all large men, dressed only in black leather pants and boots. Their bare chests and arms were covered with ornate, colorful tattoos and they carried large broadswords and bows. They were in excellent physical condition, warriors.

One spotted the X-men and he shouted to the man in front. "Kane! There!"

Kane turned to look at them. He was very tall and handsome, a warrior knight from all the paperback soap operas. He had long blond hair tied back in a pony tail and blue eyes that glittered with intelligence and courage. He had the most tattoos and the best sword, marking him as the leader.

He shouted to the X-men and waved them towards him as if he'd been expecting them all along. "Hurry! A pack comes!" he called out in a loud clear voice.

Henry moved towards Kane, but Logan turned to the pack to cover his teammates. He didn't have long to wait. The white slaves came out of nowhere, melting out of the debris of the buildings like they were made of it. They leapt for him, perhaps in retribution for their brothers he’d killed that first day here. Wolverine could have cared less about their motivations. He popped his claws and went to work. He was quickly joined by Kane and some of the others and they hacked and slashed through the pack until most of the slaves were dead. The rest retreated quickly, snarling curses in a language Logan didn’t understand. He wasn’t sorry to see them go.

"Someone will eat well this night!" Kane joked bitterly from beside him.

"Let's go!"

Logan didn't need to be told twice.

As they turned to go, Kane was suddenly slammed from the air by one of Carma's Angels. She carried him aloft by his head and hair, cackling wildly with insane glee. He was kicking and screaming but couldn't get free, she held him too tightly. Two of his men shot her with arrows and she finally let him drop. She had taken an arrow to the throat and slowly sank down to the ground, choking. She stood on shaky legs and tore the arrow from her neck, spitting blood as she cursed them. The men came at her with swords. She growled at them defiantly, but was already dying. They advanced and hacked at her until she fell.

Kane survived his fall without mishap and stumbled over to her. He looked down at her sadly. "What a waste of a pilot!" he snarled, bitter. He touched her face briefly in a sort of tribute, a sign of respect for her kind, but then turned away. He walked over to Beast and looked at the bar code the Dognan had burned on his arm. "You're the alphas. We came to free you. Come with us. We will care for your friend."

They didn't argue.

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They jumped down the hole, following the men who had rescued them. Kane tossed a grenade behind them so no more of the packs would follow them. It exploded and the hole was sealed in a cloud of dirt and smoke. The Dognan were lax in their security Kane explained rapidly as they quickly marched. If they moved away fast enough, they could escape with ease. One of the Clan men took Remy's body and they made good time. The Clan men were very strong and fast, they moved through the city at a rapid pace. Kane obviously had been this way many times and knew where he was going.

As they traveled through the ruined city, they were joined by another small group of Clan made up of women and children. They were heavily burdened with wood and skins, tent making materials and supplies. It seemed odd to see such crude living supplies after being flown in ships and surrounded by modern buildings, smashed or otherwise. In spite of being so heavily burdened, they didn't slow Kane and his men down at all. These folks were used to being on the move. Kane stopped the group from time to time as Dognan ships passed overhead, but they weren't spotted. They went like this for a couple of hours before Kane allowed them to stop and rest.

They went inside a building that had a lot of tables. It might have been a restaurant once or a store judging from all the tables and shelves nearby. They lay Gambit across one of the larger tables and one of the women took out a small first aid kit. She started to clean his ugly head wound, but then shook her head. "This man will not survive," she said to Kane.

Kane had a backpack. He slid it off and rummaged through it quickly. He took out a small head set and a tiny radio, again surprising Logan by the odd mix of old world and new age technology. He put the head set on and clicked one of the buttons. "Seth! Seth can you hear me?"

There was a crackle and then a reply. "Good morrow, Kane. Seth's downstairs with Fallen. Didja find yer alphas okay?" a man's voice pleasantly drawled. He had a bizarre accent, not quite Southern, not quite anything else. It was strange and unique as it rolled off the speaker’s tongue, making him stand out.

Beast turned to Logan and rolled his eyes. "Oh, joy. Someone who speaks worse than you. I didn't think it was possible," he complained good naturedly. Logan just glared at him, not in the mood.

Kane smiled. "Yes, actually. They were waiting for us, they were so eager." he joked, looking at the X-men. "Made it very easy for us. Look, Kimble. One of them isn't doing well. We need a pick up. Is Fallen around?"

"She's here. Where ya’ll at?" Kane didn't answer, but turned on one of the other buttons on the radio. "I gotcha. Ya gots ta git past th' next marker b'fore she kin git to ya."

"We'll rest here a few minutes first. Have her meet us at the green fountain. We'll be there in an hour."

"Green fountin’, one hour, aye. Kimble out."

"Kane out." Kane shut the radio off. "We'll rest and then move on. Won't be long." He had his men open their packs and they all had some food.

The X-men were starved and Kane gave them the most to eat. He noted their enthusiasm. "How long were you in the pens?"

"Almost three days," Henry replied with a weary sigh.

"If we'd heard about you sooner we would have come faster. As it was, we only learned of you six hours ago."

"How did you know about us in the first place?"

"Your bar codes. Seth hacked the Dognan computers and saw you. He always tells us when alphas come so we can bust you out."

"Why're you so interested in us?" Logan grumbled. He was happy to be free but trusted no one.

"Selfish reasons," Kane replied honestly. He took a large gulp from a bottle of whiskey he'd opened and passed it around. "We save the alphas. The alphas join the Clan. You strengthen our people with your powers. Most alphas are very strong and make good warriors. Others bear us promising children like Jake here." He whistled and motioned. A child who had been standing nearby slowly came over, touching the furniture as he moved along. He was very young, maybe nine or ten years old. He smiled admiringly at Kane when the man touched him. "Jake, these men are alphas. Alphas like you."

Jake turned towards them and smiled. "I can make fire!" he said proudly. He held up his hand, palm up. He concentrated and a small flame burst over his hand. He held it there as if it was a ball instead of a flame. He closed his hand and the fire winked out. "Neat, huh?"

Henry smiled. "That's very clever."

"What can you do?" Jake asked. It was then that Henry realized the boy was blind. He should have guessed from the careful way he had come over.

"I’m a doctor," Henry replied.

Jake laughed. "That's not a power!"

"It is when you're sick and you need help. Actually, I am very clever, too. I help people solve problems. I am also very strong and well...furry."

"Furry?!" Jake giggled. He reached out to Henry and felt his arms. He laughed and pulled on Henry's blue fur. "Cool! I wish I was furry, too!"

"It's not always much fun, Jake. I tend to clog many shower drains."

"Go back to your mother, boy," Kane said gently and the boy left.

"Sure it's a good idea havin' women and kids out here?" Logan commented.

"We live out here most of the time. It's all they know. When we take this world, things will be better."

"Who are you? Who are the Clan?" Henry wanted to know.

"We are the decedents of Dognan slaves who escaped out into the wild. They banded together and became the Clan. They eventually formed an army and we've been picking away at the Dognan ever since. We own most of this world. Cerise is strategically placed. Once we've taken over this whole planet, we'll be ready to drive them away from other worlds, too."

"Pretty ambitious plan," Wolverine grumbled. He remembered Frishnan’s comments about how the Clan foolishly believed they could drive the Dognan out. He wondered if Frishnan’s opinion was accurate.

"We have plenty of fine fighting ships and a large army."

Logan looked at Kane's sword. "You have space ships, but you fight with swords."

"The Clan has a great love for bloody fights," he laughed. "We have technology we've taken from the Dognan. We have some of their pilots. This enables us to travel to many far away places."

Beast was immediately interested. "Pilots? Like that bird lady?"

"Yes. That 'bird lady' was a pilot. No doubt you've seen others. The Dognan use them to fly ships and so do we. The pilots are telekinetic, but more importantly, they produce Ristle; the energy used to power the ships. This ability can be passed onto their offspring, but it's never as strong as the ones who are made."

"The Dognan 'make' the pilots?" Beast asked, trying to understand.

"Yes. I'm sure you realize all the Dognan slaves are mutated humans. They are gathered from the many Earths and mutated. It's a lengthy process and very painful. Not all survive."

"What do you mean by many Earths?"

"The Dognan are very technologically advanced. When they brought you here, you not only traveled across space, but you crossed dimensions as well. Some of the pilots are exceptionally powerful. Band a few of them together, and they'll produce enough Ristle energy for the largest ships to actually jump from one dimension to another. It's only been recently that the Dognan have been going to your Earth. That's when the alphas began to show up. Your Earth is the only one with alphas, with humans that have powers. The Dognan always put the alphas in the pens because they fear your power. Plus they are fools for gambling. They play to see how long you will last against the packs. You are legends to the rest of us. Some of the Earths have stories about alphas that have been passed onto many generations even though they possess no real alphas at all. Fallen’s was like that. She knows many legends of alphas such as yourself. Guess we all wish we were different."

"It's not always what it's cracked up to be," Wolverine complained.
"Sometimes when yer different, people just use you or try to hurt you."

"The Clan doesn't "use" alphas. We give them a good life compared to the horror of the pens. I've yet to see an alpha who wasn't happy to join us and help out. We integrate all we rescue. Everyone has value. Not all the slaves from the pens are so savage. Fallen was there and she's okay."

"Who's Fallen?" Logan asked, noting the eerie similarity between the name and the pack of white pilots.

"She's a pilot. She's the bravest thing I've ever seen," Kane said with a smile. He was obviously quite taken with her. "She's the only one with enough courage to help us raid the pens. The Dognan slaughter any freed slaves they find. If they catch her she'll be destroyed for certain, but she comes anyways. She's not afraid of anything. When Cerebus releases her I'm going to ask him to give her to me."


"Cerebus is our leader, the head of the Clan. He is a brave and fierce warrior. Many years ago he freed Fallen from the pens. She owes him a ten year term of service. It's coming to an end very soon. When it's done, I shall ask for her. I know he will agree. I've earned her."

"How does Fallen feel about this?" Wolverine was getting the idea that Fallen didn't have much say in the matter.

"Fallen won't mind. I'm always around as it is. She knows I won't bug her about the guys."

"What guys?"

Logan's question was never answered. One of Kane's men approached. "Pika says ships are coming. We must get moving." They packed up quickly and departed. Wolverine could hear the whine from the Dognan ships flying overhead. They stayed close to the buildings and weren't spotted. Soon, they came to a large bombed out building. They went inside. It looked like the remains of a large shopping mall. Open ruins from the store fronts could still be seen and there were broken boxes and tables all about. In the center of the complex was a large green marble fountain. Logan looked up to the cieling. They could see to the sky through an open hole made by the bomb that wrecked this place.

Kane's men spread out and relaxed by the fountain. The water was running and it was good to drink from. Unfortunately, there was no one here to greet them. Kane got on the radio again."Kimble, where's Fallen?" he demanded.

"Ain't she there yet?" Kimble asked from the radio, surprised.

"Don't get your panties in a bunch, guys, I'm right here."

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The voice came from somewhere above them. Henry looked up in time to see a small white figure wink into view. She must have been cloaked, he reasoned.

Fallen certainly knew how to make an entrance. She dropped down into the middle of them with a soft rustle of wings. She was indeed a pilot. Her body and hair were white and bleached out and she was tiny, just over five feet tall and very thin, almost scrawny. It made her seem ugly and out of proportion. Her upper arm muscles were heavier, as if she was used to heavy lifting. She was dressed only in black leather pants and some kind of leather harness, like a reindeer ready for the sled. The pants she wore were tight fitting and showed the odd bend of her legs. She was no longer human and never would be again. She was bare chested and not shy about it. In fact, she arched her back almost seductively as she landed.

The reason was obvious. She had a large colorful tattoo of a sword that ran the whole length of her torso, from the notch of her breastbone to the waistline of her pants. The ink of the tattoo was very bright and stood out in sharp contrast against her white, white skin. The sword was black and an emerald bird woman lay stretched along the blade, her wings spread out across the hilt and over Fallen's tiny breasts. It was apparently a mark of some significance and she wasn't going to hide it. On one bicep, she had another small mark. It was an X in a box with lettering on each side too small to be read from where the X-men sat. Fallen wore a headset radio and carried a bundle of leather straps in her hands. She tossed them down and started to sort them out.

"You're late," Kane complained good naturedly.

"You're early," she replied arrogantly with an easy smile. Wolverine thought Fallen's mutated body was ugly and unattractive as he did all the pilots, but he saw why Kane wanted her. Her spirit was very strong. She seemed to attract the attention of all the men in the room. She didn't appear to be aware of it or want to exploit it. She just ignored the reaction of the men around her.

"I tell you, Fallen. These alphas are getting weirder looking all the time," Kane teased, patting her on the back. "Look what we caught this time."

Fallen glanced at the X-men and smiled at them politely. She was busy so she went back to the straps but then stopped suddenly. She slowly looked back at them, her eyes wide. Henry saw that this was not fear, but recognition. "My, God..." she breathed.

"Fallen?" Kane was alarmed by her reaction. He looked at the X-men now with suspicion.

Fallen looked at Henry with a warm smile and pointed at him. "Dr. Henry McCoy, I presume?"

Henry smiled back, his surprise obvious. "Why, yes. I am Henry McCoy."

Fallen's wonder turned next on Logan. She tilted her head, inspecting him with a wry smile. "You'd be Wolverine. I'm surprised there are any Dognan still alive. You must be losing your touch, old man."

Logan didn't return her smile. He cocked his head arrogantly and checked her out now that she had moved closer. Her eyes were a pale washed out blue and very bright and alert. She looked to be about thirty or so, but he had the sense that, like himself, she was much older than she appeared to be. She was looking him over with great interest. Fallen was confident and unafraid of him even though she seemed to know him for the killer he was.
Not to be subdued by the fact she was a woman, he sniffed her openly, testing her air. He bared his teeth in a sneer, letting her know he felt he was dominant. Her scent told him a lot about her quickly. She smoked cigarettes, drank heavily, and frequently used some kind of narcotic. She was very clean, he could smell the soaps she used, but he'd been around enough addicts to know the smell. He wondered if Kane knew she used, maybe he wouldn't be so eager to marry her if he did. She smelled of machinery, oil, and tools. He looked at her tiny, clawed hands, and noticed they were stained with grease and calloused. She was some kind of mechanic. Unusual trait for a woman, but Fallen was anything but feminine. She appeared to have more in common with the Clan men then the women. He figured she was probably a real pain in the ass, too.

"I had these two lugs slowin' me down," he offered as an excuse.

Fallen ignored Logan's scrutiny and response as if she'd expected his rudeness. She glanced at the man sprawled on the ground next to him. She rose, holding a set of straps and walked over. She crouched down next to Remy and looked him over, taking note of the ugly head wound. She gently touched his fevered face with her clawed fingers and looked concerned about his sickness. She carefully opened one of his eyes and then blinked in surprise.

"The Cajun....the guy with the cards..." she mumbled. She snapped her fingers, thinking. Remembered. "Ah, yes. Gambit. That's it. Remy LeBeau, thief of hearts. Best get him well and back home in one piece before Rogue worries herself half to death."

"I'm impressed," Henry replied, surprised by the extent of her knowledge. Rogue was one of their team mates and Remy’s current girlfriend. "But you have us at a disadvantage. You know us, but we don't know you."
She leaned back and gave a tiny hand to Henry to shake. "Please, excuse me. Too busy being blown away. I am Fallen, Captain of the Lucky Dragon and First Pilot of the Clan. I don't really know you, just about you. You're all X-men. I enjoyed the stories of you very much. I never dreamed you'd be real."


"Well, we are very much real and are in need of your help. Remy is gravely ill."

She smiled at him gently. "Not to worry. Maylee will take care of him." She took the straps and carefully fitted them around Gambit, moving her hands skillfully as she worked. The straps formed a harness like the one she was wearing. She pulled the leather tight and surprised Beast by heaving Gambit's limp and lifeless body over her shoulders with ease, supporting him with her wings.

Beast rushed up to her. "Please, allow me to carry him --"

Fallen looked at him like he was an idiot. "I've got TK. You don't," she said using the slang term for telekinesis. "He's nothing for me to carry."

It was true. It was like Remy weighed nothing at all. She shifted his weight and clipped his harness to hers using what looked like dog leash clips.

She turned her headset radio on and spoke, "Hey, Seth. This is Fallen. I'm coming back trip one, one heavy. Tell Maylee to be ready. He's hot and has a serious head wound. Gonna need some thread, I think."

"I've got you, Fallen. Stay low around Red Bay, I've spotted some ships there."

"No problem. Fallen out." She clicked off and turned to Kane. "I'll be back in about twenty minutes."

"Take it easy."

"Piece of cake." Fallen jumped and lightly took to the air. She pressed a button on her head set and blinked out of sight.

"Isn't she something?" Kane beamed, proud. He tossed the rest of the straps to the remaining X-men. "Put these on. She's coming back for you."
"Where did she take Gambit?" Wolverine wanted to know.

"To her ship. The Lucky Dragon's parked about ten miles from here."
"And it's only gonna take her twenty minutes to get there and back?"

"Yeah, Fallen's pretty fast when she has to be. She'll pick you up and the rest of us will join you later."

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Twenty minutes later, Fallen touched down among them again. She was sweating from flying so far so quickly. She took a water bottle from Kane and drank heavily.

"How's Gambit?" Henry asked.

Fallen touched her headset. "Good morrow, Seth. This is Fallen. Can I have an update on the alpha please?"

"Good morrow, Fallen. It's yer Kimble." As if he needed any introduction with that accent! "Seth's workin' with Maylee. He says yer alpha's gots a high temp but Maylee's icin' him down now. Gave him a shot of anti-biotic. He's got a small skull fracture, but it's healin' normal. Maylee's cleanin' the head wound now. He's stable. He'll be all right."

"Thanks. See ya in a bit."

"Fly safe. Wasayachay natooroo, Fallen."

"Wasayachay, tay kunda," Fallen laughed softly to herself and clicked off. She looked up at Beast. "Feel better?" Henry nodded. "Let's go, then." She moved the two X-men until they were side by side. She stood behind them and clipped them to her harness. She tugged on them, checked her clips until she was satisfied. "All set."

"Be well, Fallen," Kane said. "We will join you before dark. Some of the men want to go hunting."

"Later, then," she replied and jumped.

Logan grunted when the straps snapped tight as he and Henry were yanked into the air. Fallen was very strong. He felt her telekinesis touch him like a giant helping hand and he was no longer dangling at the mercy of the leather. She really didn't need the straps to carry them, it seemed, it was more for the peace of mind of her passengers. Fallen tapped her headset and Logan's vision turned red as the cloaking field covered them. She eased them out of the building, careful not to snag them on any jagged edges. Once in the open air, she flexed her wings and took off in a huge burst of speed. Fallen didn't flap her wings to fly, she used her TK. Her wings were used for maneuvering and short sprints of speed. It was clear she loved to fly, she had a big smile on her face and was very relaxed and comfortable even though they were quite high.

Logan wasn’t so happy. He hated to fly. Really, it was that he was uncomfortable in any situation where he was at the mercy of someone else. Well, it was nice when his teammate Jean carried him, but that was just because he loved to be near her. Fallen wasn't even close to being as pretty and wonderful as Jean. Too bad Jean was married to Scott, one of their other teammates. Her loss, Logan figured. Jean and Logan had a passion for each other that had never materialized into anything more than a close friendship. She made her choice and took Scott to be her husband, leaving Logan frustrated and on the outside. Logan still clung to a feeble fantasy that she’d come around and they’d be together someday. He'd wait.

From this height, Logan could see pretty far. They were leaving the ruined city behind them and heading towards a rural wooded area. The air smelled much better now and he felt better. He had never been one for the city anyway, he preferred wide open spaces with as little human interference as possible.

They neared a small body of water and Fallen dropped down to avoid some Dognan ships cruising around. They skimmed the water so close Logan could almost touch it. It was clear and beautiful and the setting sun shimmered red across the waves. He was sorry when they passed over it too quickly and headed into the forest. They reached the tree line and Fallen moved up quickly, not wanting to hit them on the tops of the green trees that now swept under them at amazing speed. Logan saw mountains in the distance and the trees thinned out. Fallen took them very close to the mountains, but then swooped into a hidden rocky area with a deep ravine. There was a large river flowing in the canyon. She slowed her speed and landed in a boxed off area. He couldn't figure out why they were here in the middle of nowhere until he realized that there was a ship parked here. It was well camouflaged, almost cloaked. She unclipped them and helped them remove their harnesses. She walked up to the ship, slinging the straps over her shoulders, and humming softly to herself.

The Lucky Dragon was crescent shaped, being thicker in the middle than the sides. It was fairly large, but not a warship. It was a scout ship or transport of some kind. Fallen and the X-men walked up a short ramp to a locked door. There was a security pad there that took a palm print. She scanned her hand and the door opened, allowing them inside.
They entered a large central area in the body of the ship. This was the Main Room of the craft and was divided into three sections. The first section was on the left and consisted of six rows of paired seats along the wall, going deep into the room.

The second section was to the right of that and just as long. It was an open room with chain link fencing for the two walls that faced into the Main Room itself. The wall that faced the seats had a doorless opening while the other had a the whole middle section open to a large viewing screen that covered the furthest wall of the Main Room. This cage room was quite large and took up most of that side of the Main Room.
As they walked down the walkway that separated the cage room from the seats and led deeper into the ship, they could see the cage room was actually a small living area. It had a bed, a small table and a doorway that led off to another small room, presumably a bathroom. Next to the bed on the east wall was another small viewing screen that could be seen from the seats. Inside the cage, facing the big main screen were two of the strange sticks Henry had seen the pilot use to fly Frishnan’s ship.

Fallen led them past the seats, past the cage, up to the third and last area of the room. This was a large open space with the huge viewing screen that took up the entire back wall. The screen was on and electronically divided into six windows. Four of the windows showed four different views of the outside of the ship.

The fifth and sixth portions in the middle showed two views of a control room, almost like a cockpit of a plane. The room was large and spacious, not confining and had real furniture in it. It could be assumed that two people worked in there because each had a work station, although both were currently empty. The windows showed each station from the front even though they were back to back to each other. Each station could be seen clearly and both had computers and various other gadgets that were probably used to fly the vessel.

It was obvious two very different individuals worked there. One station was neat and orderly, everything in it's place. It was almost sterile as if it was rarely used. The other was cluttered with small glass and metal figurines, books, and pictures of nude women. Logan chuckled softly at this. On one side was a rack with music CDs, and a guitar on a stand. The station wasn't messy, just lived in.

"Seth? Kimble?" Fallen called out.

Kimble answered, "In here, Fallen."

His voice came from a room that branched off to the left of the Main Room. Fallen followed it into another room that looked like a small barracks. It was a long narrow area that paralleled the main room and had four beds and it’s own bathroom. Gambit was laid out comfortably on one of the beds. He was undressed and cleaned and had an IV drip attached to one arm.

Seated next to him was a young girl, maybe twelve or thirteen years old. She was odd looking and Henry realized that she was a half breed. She was both human and Dognan. The combination was not unkind. She had a gentle cat face and soft brown fur lightly covering her body. She had short cropped hair, and yellow slitted eyes that winked up at them with curiosity. The child was dressed in a simple undecorated shift of soft leather. The leather was well cured and the dress finely crafted in spite of its simplicity. Her legs were straight as a human’s and she wore leather moccasins on her feet.

Her hands were small and clawed, but it didn’t keep her from using them with some skill. Henry had already guessed that this was Fallen’s doctor from the protective way she sat over Remy and had a hand resting gently on his chest, measuring his breath. Remy’s head was not bandaged and Beast could see that she’d put five stitches in to close his ugly head wound. The injury had been cleaned properly and the swelling was already well on its way down.

She and Gambit were the only two people in the room and she smiled up as they came closer. "Hey, Fallen."

"Maylee," Fallen greeted warmly. She walked up to her and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked down at Gambit. He was sleeping peacefully and he looked much better. "He looks good."

"This is your doctor?" Wolverine asked sarcastically, shocked by her youth.

Fallen looked back at him sharply. "Maylee has been training since her tenth year. She is quite skilled for one so young in age. Don't be so hasty in your judgments," she scolded.

"Easy on th' new peoples, kiddo," Kimble drawled casually. "Don' wants ta scare 'em away."

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The X-men turned in the direction of his voice. There was another viewing screen on the wall. It showed one side of the same control room as the screen in the other room had. Seated at the cluttered work station was a strange looking man. Fallen seemed to collect half breeds. He wasn't a pilot, but he wasn't Clan. He was both. He had Fallen's alabaster skin and wings, but his hair was black and striking because of his pale complexion. It fell very long and straight, tied back in a pony tail draped over one shoulder and down the front. He had the same long black side burns as Wolverine, but cut very close to his face. He looked like he was about thirty years old or so, judging by the worn laugh lines around his eyes. He was dressed a dark colored sweatshirt cut off at the sleeves. This was odd because none of the Clan men wore shirts. A pair of pilot’s wings snuck out the back of his shirt, tucked low to be comfortable in his chair. His arms were heavy and muscular as if he exercised regularly and he had Fallen's X mark tattoo on one large bicep. His eyes were a bright and merry pale blue, and he had a teasing, arrogant smile.

Kimble had taken the chair from the other work station and was leaning his elbow on it comfortably as he smoked a hand rolled cigarette. He looked over their guests with obvious interest and curiosity. He had an air of easy confidence and casual arrogance.

Fallen turned to the screen and smiled at him. "Good morrow, Kimble. Natay laskarat faroo edectk a set. These are the X-men. This here is Dr. Henry McCoy and this is Logan. They are also called Beast and Wolverine."

"Yer from Fallen’s legends. I kin recognize the names well enough though I don’ unnerstand why ya’ll gots ta have so many," Kimble said with a soft chuckle. He bowed slightly in his seat and said, "Good morrow an welcome to th' Lucky Dragon."

"Good morrow to you," Henry returned politely. "It's nice to finally put a face to the voice. And yes we do have a lot of names. It’s a hazard of being an alpha."


Logan said nothing, but looked at the screen with suspicion. It came to him as no surprise that Kimble was sitting at the cluttered work station. He had that punk kind of attitude. The teasing smile never left Kimble's face as he endured the scrutiny.

Kimble spoke to next Fallen but his eyes were fixed on Wolverine. "This area's clear. No ships followed ya. Kane's in the fourth quadrant. Seth's got what he thinks might've been a transmission from Valentin to Station Nine. Didn' catch the message, but he thoughtcha should know he's in the area. He's checkin' on it now."

"Valentin can go f**k himself," Fallen snapped, ignoring the fact that young Maylee was there. "He won't find us here."

"We can move, it's not a problem," Seth suggested as he walked into the cockpit room from a door that opened in the back.

Seth was obviously a close relation to Kimble, a brother or cousin. He was too old to be Kimble's son. They looked exactly alike except Seth's hair was shock white like Fallen's and he was clean shaven. He had a much slimmer build and as he entered, Logan saw he had wings, too. Seth’s hair was long and tied back as Kimble’s was and they were dressed the same except Seth was completely in white, making him seem small and pale. He was as neat and tidy as his station. He went to sit at his desk, but saw something was missing. He smiled impatiently and rudely yanked his chair out from under Kimble’s elbow, taking it back to his station where it belonged.

Kimble grunted a laugh but never faltered, he simply readjusted himself. He greeted Seth with a strange unfamiliar word and leaned back comfortably in his own chair, putting his feet up on the table. He was wearing black jeans and had Fallen's pilot feet and legs.

Seth waved his hand at Kimble’s smoke. "I wish you wouldn't let him smoke in here," he complained wearily. It had a familiar ring to it as though he was too often ignored. Henry noted that Seth didn't have Kimble's garbled speech patterns and figured maybe he wasn’t related after all.

Kimble just grunted again in amusement at Seth’s comment and made no move to put the cigarette out. His eyes crinkled with laughter and he said proudly, "That’s cuz she loves me best."

Fallen turned to the X-men with a laugh at Kimble’s playfulness and introduced the new arrival. "This is Seth, Kimble's twin."

"Good morrow," Seth greeted politely, bowing slightly as Kimble had done.

"Good morrow," Henry replied. He was surprised by her statement, in spite of their similarities, he never would have pegged the two brothers as twins. Kimble clearly appeared older and more mature, his playful behavior aside. Perhaps there was a good story to go along with this.

Seth returned his attention to Fallen. "Valentin's definitely here. We should go." Seth looked concerned for their safety and tried to get her to see it.

"Forget it," Fallen said, not seeming to notice. "Don't want it to look like we are avoiding him."

Kimble snorted sarcastically and blew smoke out of his nose. "We are avoidin' him!"

"We'll wait here until Kane returns and discuss it with him."
Kimble shrugged in irritation. Whatever. "Why don'tcha get these guys cleaned up. Maylee made a nice stew. Bet they're hungry."


Fallen smiled up at Seth and spoke to him in that other language. As they chatted, Logan began to feel a little sorry for Kane. Fallen spoke to Seth warmly and her eyes were bright. Whatever Kimble and Kane had to say about it, it was obvious where Fallen's heart lay. He knew Kimble was probably just kidding around to tease his brother so he thought to Kane, You poor sucker, you don't stand a chance.

Kimble sat patiently and smoked, looking over the new arrivals with continued interest. He was listening to Fallen and Seth but added nothing.

Finally, Fallen turned to Maylee. "Stay here with Gambit. I'll care for the others."

"Is Valentin coming here?" she asked in a small quiet voice. Like Seth, she was afraid, too.

"I don't know, May. I don't think so. We'll just be careful. Whatever happens, happens. No stopping it." She bent down and kissed the top of her head. The gesture made Henry wonder if Fallen was Maylee's mother. If she was, she didn’t say. She led Henry and Logan to the bathroom and showed them around. There was a shower and a small machine that would wash their clothes quickly while they cleaned up.

"There's plenty of hot water so take your time," Fallen offered. "There's a razor there if you want it, some tooth brushes in that drawer. Help yourselves."

"Who is Valentin?" Logan asked quickly before she could leave.

"Valentin is First General of the Clan and an assh**e." It was all she'd say. She left them and Henry and Logan just looked at each other. They didn't have to say what they were thinking. Trouble.

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Why thank ya! ;) I'm glad ya like it. I'll update soon, but you can always read the rest by the links. :)

The two X-men took their time cleaning up and felt much better after a nice hot shower. They wandered out to the Main Room and saw another door that led to a large galley. It was a large room with a long metal table with fixed benches where Fallen could easily sit all twelve of her passengers and herself. A clear glass jar mounted on the table contained a generous supply of hand rolled cigarettes. There was a large bowl of fruit, mostly some kind of oranges.

One whole wall consisted of storage cabinets and shelves that appeared to be well stocked with bottles and boxes of food. A counter top ran the length of one wall. It held a double sided sink and rack filled with a large supply of whiskey bottles. Another rack close by held a row of dark colored ones. It seemed Fallen liked to keep a good supply of liquor around. There was a large double door refrigerator as well. On one of the walls was a large representation of Fallen's X mark. It was an X in a box with a word printed on each side of the square. Honor. Loyalty. Courage. Sacrifice. But best of all this kitchen and galley had a good sized stove where a large stew pot was bubbling merrily. The smell was wonderful and inviting and Logan felt his stomach growl in anticipation.

Soft music was playing on unseen overhead speakers. Logan was startled to recognize it as Born on the Bayou from Creedence Clearwater Revival. Where did Fallen get Earth music from? he wondered to himself, but didn’t bother to ask.

Seth and Kimble were in their usual chairs in the cockpit room on a viewing screen. Seth had a headset on and was listening to something, his eyes closed in concentration. Kimble was excitedly jabbering away about something funny, laughing merrily. Fallen sat at the table, listening to him halfheartedly with a smile as she smoked one of the hand rolled cigarettes. Her eyes were half closed and she looked sleepy.

Logan sniffed quietly at her and realized she wasn’t merely sleepy, she was stoned. She looked up at them lazily as they entered and spoke, "Feel better?"

"Do you?" Logan quipped. He had no patience for drug use.

She looked at him sharply and locked eyes with him, unafraid. "What I do on my ship is my business, X-man. I'm not about to take any **** from you, legend or not. You don't like it, you can go back to the pens," she snapped.

"Reoww! Ffft! Ffft!" Kimble joked from the screen, imitating a cat fight. "Chill, baby. Don' let the furball gits a rise outta ya."

Logan sneered up at him, showing his teeth. He wondered if this guy ever left that stupid room. Where were they anyway? The Control room was nowhere in sight and the only scents on board were Fallen and Maylee’s. Logan was about to respond to Kimble's dig when Henry touched his arm and shook his head in warning. Forget it. They sat down at the table to eat.

Fallen was quick to assume her duties as host. She got up and went to one of the cupboards. She took out two large serving bowls and served Logan and Henry generously from the stew pot. She gave them some bread as well. She went to the small refrigerator, grabbed two bottles of beer and set them out. The X-men were starved and ate quietly. The stew was very good although Logan noted there was no meat in it. He didn’t mind, he was happy just to fill his belly.

Fallen leaned against the counter away from them and smoked. She watched Seth as he worked with a gentle smile. He seemed to be trying to listen in on someone else's transmission. He tapped the head set and typed away rapidly at a keyboard.

"Anything?" Fallen asked.

Seth squinted and shook his head. "I can't make it out. The Dognan know the pens were broken into and that it was us, but they don't know where we went. They sent out an All Alert. They know the alphas are gone. Fence is fixed.... There was a big brawl on the way out....." He cocked his head as he listened and shivered. "Frishnan's angry. His favorite, Theba, got sliced."

"One of the Angels?"


Fallen looked at Logan.

He shook his head. "Kane's men."

"Poor Frishnan. Gonna have ta find someone else ta place his bets on. Prob'ly lost a bundle on that fight, too," Kimble teased. "Poor baby."

"How can you find that funny?" Logan grumbled.

"Kimble finds everything funny. It's why I keep him around," Fallen said quickly before Kimble could respond.

"Clan'll shut the pens down soon enough," Kimble said after a pause. He looked at Fallen closely and a meaningful look passed between them.

Fallen reached behind her and grabbed a whiskey bottle. She opened the seal with a claw and poured herself a good sized drink. She tossed it back like it was water. "Anything else?"

"No. It's pretty quiet now. I'll try again later."

"Looks like we gots us a breather. Could use the break," Kimble said, rubbing his eyes like he was tired. He leaned back in his chair and put his furry feet up on the console again.

"What is it you guys do exactly?" Logan asked, curious about these new people he found himself with.

"We raid the pens, harass the Dognan," Kimble explained. "We stays out on the sidelines pretty much. Valentin's army does most of the work of drivin' them Dognan guys back. They've been really busy lately. Think the Clan is workin' on some kinda big project. My guess is Cerebus is gonna go fer the big push soon. All or nuthin'. Prob'ly drag us into it just fer kicks."

"Don't you want to get involved?" Henry wanted to know.

"Ain't much inta suicide, thanks," Kimble quipped sarcastically.

Fallen was quick to explain Kimble’s reaction. "The Clan army isn't as organized as they could be. They have a lot of resources, but there's too much competition among the Generals. They seem to be more interested in who's going to get the Honor Sword than winning anything for the people."

"Honor Sword?"

Fallen arched her back and stroked her long tattoo. "This. The Honor Mark of the Hopelessly Reckless."

"Ya shouldn't joke about it likes that," Kimble said, oddly serious. "Ya earned evra inch of that Mark."

She looked up at him. "I didn't earn it, we did."

"How did you earn it?" Henry asked.

"Lotsa reasons. Raidin' the pens, mostly," Kimble answered for her. " ‘Corse, it coulda been that time Fallen saved Cerebus' life." he teased with a laugh. "Ol' Cerebus got his ass stuck in the city and we hadta come bails him out cuz Vally chickened out."

"Valentin didn't chicken out, he wanted Cerebus' throne. Figured the Dognan would save him the trouble of having to kill Cerebus himself," Fallen retorted.

"Yeah, well Fallen got him outta that little mess."

"I couldn't have done it without you," she said, looking up at Kimble with a loving smile. "You showed me the way out. Helped me fly through one of the worst firefights I've ever seen."

"Nobody flies like you, baby doll. I ain't gots nuthin’ ta do with it." Kimble said with sincere modesty, not wanting to take the credit.

"You're wrong. Nobody flies like me and you together." Her look and tone of voice finalized the matter. "That's why you're my Second and always will be."

Kimble shrugged. "Anaways..." he continued, returning to Henry's question. "...we take alla the crap jobs nobody wants. Make it back alive. Cerebus wants alphas fer his cause, we gits 'em for him. No sane white pilot would come out here. If the Dognan catch Fallen, she's toast. Good thing she's so good with the stick."

"The stick?"

" ‘S slang fer the way pilots fly the ship. Fallen's the best pilot around --- no matter what she sez 'bout me. No one kin catch us," Kimble said, proud. "She built this ship and evrathin' in it. Nuthin' else like it around."

"Quiet now," Fallen cautioned. It wasn't the praise, it was her secrets. "They don't need to hear you prattle on." She stood straight and poured another drink. "Where's Kane?"

Seth flipped a switch on his panel, waited. "Still in the fourth. You want to speak to him?"

"No. I'm going to have a bath and crash." She looked at Henry and Logan. "Help yourself to whatever you want in the cupboards." she said and left with the bottle.

"I'll go with you," Seth offered and left the cockpit room through the back door.

Logan stared at Kimble up on the screen, not really watching his brother leave. It was this one he was really interested in. Kimble seemed to know it. He leaned back in his chair comfortably and stared back, grinning arrogantly. He behaved like Wolverine didn't intimidate him at all. Must be some kind of punk, Logan thought. Can’t wait to meet him in person and size him up for real.

"You said you and Fallen earned the Mark together. Where's yours?" Logan challenged. He’d picked up on the fact that Seth and Kimble were the only males he'd seen with a shirt since they left the pens. He didn't know why, but it bugged him.

Kimble didn’t answer but slowly pulled down the collar of his shirt until the handle of the tattooed sword was visible. It seemed he was just as Marked as his captain. His smile changed to one more sly and he cocked his head waiting for Wolverine’s response.

"Why cover it up?" Logan continued to probe. He had the idea something wasn't quite right about this stranger. He was bored and comfortable now with his belly full, so he figured he would try and ferret it out. Nothing like a good game to pass the time. He could see Kimble was up for it.

"Chilly down here," Kimble replied with a mock shiver. He was obviously lying and didn't care. He continued to stare at Logan and grin, he clearly knew it was pissing Logan off.

Beast sat watching the two of them with a resigned shake of his head. He sighed impatiently and scolded, "You two enjoy your pissing contest. I'm going to sit with Remy." He stood up and put his dishes in the sink. He waved to Kimble and left.

Kimble returned Beast's wave, but his eyes never left Logan’s face. "Ya always thanks people who save yer life this way, or did we win the lottery?" he challenged in return. His eyes were hard.

"Somethin' ain't right about you, boy. Somethin' ain't right about all of this. Why are you hidin’ from the Clan if you're a part of it?"

"Not evrathin' here is what it seems. Ya wants ta git home, you'd best be careful." Kimble flipped a switch and his corner of the viewing screen winked out, leaving Logan on his own in the empty galley.

To read more click here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2486472/1/
Thanks. :D I'm glad you like it. I've certainly worked hard on it. I've been at this for about seven years now. I doubt I'll be able to post all of it, it's huge!
Beast walked into the barracks to check in on Remy. Maylee had stretched out on the next bed over from the sleeping thief and had fallen asleep. She looked so tiny and small curled up there and he couldn’t help but cover her up with a blanket. She smiled up at him, not really awake, and rolled over, wiggling to get more comfortable.

He sat next to Gambit on his bunk and looked him over. Whatever Maylee had done, it was the correct thing, he felt the coolness of Remy's cheeks and was satisfied. He startled a little when Gambit opened his eyes and smiled up at him. So strange, the red on black. At least he seemed well enough.

"Didn' know you cared, mon ami," Gambit teased in a raspy voice.
"Welcome back," Henry said, smiling. He saw a cup of water next to the bed and held it to Remy's lips so he could drink. "How do you feel?"

"Wasted...What did I miss?"

"You've been unconscious since last night. We were liberated this morning by some people called the Clan. They broke us out of the pen and brought us to this ship. We've made some interesting new friends." He pointed to Maylee. "That's your doctor."

Gambit glanced over at the sleeping young girl. "Dey start young 'ere, eh?
Can't wait to meet de rest of de girls."

"They're white, have wings and can fly."

"Cool. Where do I get one?"

"The Captain of this ship is a pilot. Do you recall that strange, white bird like woman on the Dognan ship that delivered us to the pen?"

"Vaguely. Gambit wasn’t t’inkin’ too straight mos’ of de time we been ‘ere."

"Well, she's one of those and her name is Fallen. It seems the Clan is some kind of resistance group made of those white slaves and their children. They want to drive the Dognan out and take over this world. They liberated us from the pen because they like alphas to join them and make them stronger because of our powers," Henry explained, keeping his voice low enough not to disturb the child sleeping in the next bed.

"Dey want us to fight wit dem?" Remy asked nervously. He could hold his own, sure, but he wasn’t interested in becoming a resistance fighter. He was a sneak and a thief, not a soldier.

"So far no one has asked us to do anything. I hope we can work something out to get us back home. Kane is a warrior who helped to free us. He said it is possible for a pilot to return us home. He didn't say how or if they would voluntarily."

"You ask dis Fallen?"

"Not yet. There's been some tension..."

"Bien entendu." Remy said with a soft snicker. "What Wolvie boy done now?"

Henry laughed. "He's suspicious about the people here."

"E's suspicious 'bout everyone. What's so special 'bout dese people?"

"He's not saying. He's keeping it to himself as always."

"E's paranoid."

"Yeah well, my paranoia's saved yer ass more'n once," Logan drawled from the doorway. His eyes glanced to Maylee, but he could tell by her breathing she was out cold.

Gambit shifted to get a better look at his ornery teammate. "Dey got us out, took care of me. We should wait ‘fore we be startin’ any fights, n’cest ce pas?"

"Good advice," Beast agreed. He looked at Logan. "While we do rely on you for your instincts, I don't think it's a good idea to alienate these people. Kane said a pilot could get us home. Fallen is a pilot. Perhaps she will help us."

"When? In between gettin' high or gettin' shot down? She's a freakin' junkie. Somethin's up with that Kimble guy, too. This place gives me the creeps. Can’t smell those two pilot guys anywhere."

"Let's wait before we snap to any hasty judgments we'll regret later," Henry advised. "The people here seem harmless enough."

"What seems ta be, an’ what is aren’t always the same thing," Logan cautioned. "I just wanna get us outta here and back in one piece."

"Den we all on de same page, homme," Remy replied, rubbing his eyes. He felt much better and hoped he would be well enough to move around soon. He wanted to see what all the fuss was about. He felt a little left out, but was happy to be fixed up and cared for.

"You should get some more rest," Beast said motherly and pulled the blankets up a little higher on his chest.

"Mebbe we all should. Gambit ain’t de only one who look a little ragged."

Henry sighed and nodded. It was true. With his belly now full and his concerns about Remy alleviated, he could feel the weariness creeping in. He hadn’t slept worth anything in the pen. He took the bed across from Remy and lay down, smiling as he saw Logan lay down on the bunk next to him without closing his eyes. He watches over us like a hawk, he thought not unkindly. As much as it pains me to see him so paranoid, I am glad for his presence. He closed his eyes and was out like a light.

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