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Author's Disclaimer: Marvel's characters belong to them and I'm just borrowing them for a bit. Cadit is mine and I'd like to be asked if anyone wants to use her.

The Cry of the Cougar
        By "Ro"

Part One

Cadie hesitated, listening, her head cocked to one side. Then she moved slowly down the alley, her movements silent but swift and purposeful. She had to reach the door at the end. Nothing else mattered. She had to reach it.

She felt someone approach in the darkness, and moved back against the wall, her dark clothing hiding her shape. Her keen hearing placed him about fifteen meters away, and moving in fast. She stayed in shadow, waiting to get a clearer impression of who it might be.

Her catlike amber eyes searched the shadows around her for danger, but found nothing. *Dis is all wrong. Should be sensors, some kind o' security.* All her instincts were screaming at her to flee, and she listened to them. She turned to fade into the night, and found herself face to face with three men, all wearing body armor. All armed with the new high intensity stun guns. She froze for a split second, then went into action.

That split second cost her dearly. As she dropped the first man with a well placed kick and engaged the second man's hands, the third fired his laser with deadly accuracy. She cried out as the beam hit, but didn't go down.

"Computer. End Program." The lights came up and the holographic alley disappeared. She looked up into the booth and saw Scott Summers, the mutant X-Man known as Cyclops, glowering down at her. "You'll have to do better than that, Cadie. If those had been the real thing, you'd be dead. Get it together."

"Hey, I ever let y' down in de crisis? Not yet. Won't happen, homme. I know what I'm doin, so why don' y' let me do it, hehn?" she growled back at him.

He sighed, and it set her teeth on edge. "The Danger Room is a training area. You know that. You also know that until you get it together in here, I won't send you with the team. Period. Your choice." His voice turned brittle and she flinched from the pain her empathy picked up from him. "I won't send anyone out unprepared."

He turned to leave the booth and she moved toward the door, only to see it open before she got there. A whiff of cigarette smoke warned her who was waiting, and she couldn't meet the tall man's eyes. She could only stare down at his Kevlar boots and sigh. "Allo Remy."

He gently placed a hand under her chin and forced her to look up at him. "Hear you not doin so good in dere, petite," he said softly. He no longer feared to meet her eyes; the lenses she wore were specially made to inhibit her empathy power. "Why is dat? You tell ol' Gambit, eh?"

"Remy, cher, I really don' want t' discuss dis right now. Compris? All I want is a shower an some food. Got me up too damn early fo' dis. Not in a good mood." She tried to brush past him, but he moved to block her path.

"Don' t'ink so, petite. T'ink it time you take a break, non? Y' push yourself too hard, y' won' be dere when we need you. Ever t'ink o' dat? Go out an have some fun t'day, mon amie. Take a walk, a swim, go shopping. Jus do somet'in for Cadie, not ever'one else, compris? Take de day off, I tell ever'one else."

With a final squeeze of her shoulder, he turned and strode away from her, leaving her standing alone in the corridor. *Non. Not alone, someone else is here. Can feel em.*

"Remy!!!!" she shouted, her voice breaking. She whirled, her foot lashing out, and caught the man square in the face with her boot. He went down in a heap, groaning, as she flipped up into the air, over the head of the second man, sending him down to join his companion. A third attacker appeared and she heard running footsteps from the direction Remy had taken. "Remy! Get de oders! Hurry!" she yelled as she sidestepped the man's clumsy approach. She chopped down onto the back of his neck with her clubbed hands and he went down as well. She was bending over them to check for identification when she felt another presence.

She came up fast, but not fast enough. The blast from the stunner caught her side as she leaped, spinning her around and throwing her to the ground. She hit hard enough to knock the breath from her body and lay there, gasping. Then she heard the most welcome sound she could think of, before the man could touch her.

<snikt>

"Back away from her, bub."

As she was struggling to rise, she heard other footsteps racing toward them. The attacker raised his stunner, leveling it at Wolverine, but he never knew what hit him. The gun lay in pieces on the floor and he soon joined it unconscious.

Wolverine knelt by her side, his strong hands helping her to raise up to at least sit. She was leaning back against him when Gambit, Cyclops, and Beast, and Bishop rounded the corner at a run. "Nice of ya t' join us," Wolverine said quietly as he held her. He felt her slip into unconsciousness. "Hank, better have a look see here. Level Five stunbeam. Don't think she's hurt. Pulse is steady, if slow."

A quick examination proved him right. "Aside from a small burn at the contact site, she appears to be unharmed. Still, we should take her to the infirmary to be certain." They heard voices behind them and turned to see their attackers being herded off at gunpoint. "With our belligerent friends incarcerated, perhaps we shall be able to discover their intentions here. More importantly, we must discover how they were able to penetrate so deeply into the mansion without our knowledge."

Beast steadied Wolverine's hold on her as he got to his feet, and the made their way toward the infirmary.


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