"So where did they go, Logan?" Scott asked when he returned to the mansion. It was quite late and the leader of the X-Men did not look very pleased. Then again, neither was Logan. He had spent a good hour tracking those two down alleys strewn with garbage, drunk hobos, the stench of rotting food and liquor almost completely masking their scents, and now he wanted a bath to get the stink off, as well as clear the scent from where it lingered in his nose. He also wanted out of his uniform.
"I lost their trail, Slim" Logan replied, as he made his way to the stairs leading to their rooms. "They climbed to a rooftop where they got picked up and I lost the trail. I went by their offices and took a look around. From the outside anyway. The place was locked up tighter than Fort Knox, and most of the lights were off. They probably went home."
Scott sighed and ran an agitated hand through his brown hair. "Wherever that is." Scott muttered.
Logan didn't bother to answer. Instead he went upstairs and got the shower he wanted, before he turned in for a few hours. He didn't know where the individuals of Hades called home, but he did know where they did business. And he had every intention of paying them a little visit, as soon as the offices opened. But for now, he slept.
He didn't get the opportunity to go to the office after all. The next morning Scott called a meeting to tell them all that the mission set for tonight was going to be moved up. He wanted to avoid a confrontation if he could. He proposed to go to Anderson International and wait for the people of Hades to arrive, and find out if they could dissuade them from doing the job. The entire morning, and most of the afternoon , was spent going over the floor plans and maps of the area, preparing as best they could should it come down to an altercation.
It was with misgivings that Logan boarded the Black Bird to go to this confrontation. He didn't like this at all. His mind kept going over their behavior last night, and he didn't like their tactics. He couldn't fault them. He just didn't like them. He was more used to people staying to fight it out, until there was only one man left standing. Hades had gone into the FOH headquarters and removed one young girl, for unknown reasons. Having achieved this objective, they had left. They hadn't stayed to fight the FOH, they had executed a simple extraction mission.
There hadn't been any news about the girl on public bands, and Jean had been unable to pick up the girl when she tried to find her. It was beginning to look as though Hades had been hired to abduct the girl, although they were all willing to believe that it was possible that they had been hired to rescue her. They couldn't find records indicating which was true. And this irritated Logan as well.
But no more than the fact that he and Pit Bull had begun something that was ended before they had a chance to finish it. That Pit Bull had simply walked away from the fight once they had been separated rankled, and Logan wanted to finish what they had started. Perhaps they would get their chance tonight. On this mission.
Which also bothered him. This mission. He had tried to distance himself from it and look at each aspect individually to find out what it was that bothered him about it with limited success. He had gone through every member of Hades, and now knew that he didn't trust Reynolds or Turner, and probably never would. He didn't like Pit Bull, Pete Mitchell. No particular reason, really, he just didn't like him. Ryker, or Everest, he found himself wondering what the kid was doing with Hades. Troll he had no feeling about one way or the other, but then, he'd never met him.
Terri, he was concerned about. He didn't like the fact that she was hanging out with some mercenaries, two of which he didn't trust, one he didn't like, one who didn't belong there, and one he couldn't figure on. It was not a good average, and he still felt she was getting herself into trouble. Hades was involving itself with some shady deals, and didn't seem to be very discriminate. And from everything they have been able to turn up, Hades was now adding Corporate Espionage to their list of job descriptions.
And he was having a hard time accepting that Terri would involve herself in something like that. He kept going over his meeting with her at Doolie's. He knew she wasn't on drugs, she didn't smell unhealthy in the way that addicts did. She was sane, she didn't smell mentally unbalanced. Then only things she smelled of were bitter disillusionment, adrenaline, sarcasm, and . . . jasmine. There had been trace scents of men, who he supposed were her teammates, and the type of fabric softener she preferred, as well as the scent of her shampoo, also jasmine, which gave that scent a layered heaviness that was not unpleasant.
He just couldn't reconcile the little girl he knew to the young woman who was now on a Mercenary Team which was about to involve themselves in Corporate Espionage. What had happened to her? He asked himself yet again as Scott maneuvered the Black Bird into position and they all settled down to wait until Hades appeared.
He just couldn't figure it out. He thought maybe it had something to do with her parents, and what had happened in Madripoor. He just couldn't figure out what could have turned her into the bitter woman she was, and he idly wondered if there was something he could do to turn her into a less bitter woman.
"There they are." Jean's voice cut into his thoughts and he was instantly ready to go.
Scott stood and went to the hatch. "Okay, Team, let's follow the plan, step by step. Storm, Wolverine, you're with me. Hank, Gambit, Rogue, Jean, if it doesn't look like they're going to cooperate, and it comes to a fight, you're to back us up. Jubilee, if that happens, you are to stay with the Black Bird, and get in touch with the Professor and tell him what's happening. He'll tell you what to do from there."
Scott met everyone's eyes and nodded to each, and then he pulled open the door, and the three of them leapt out, Storm flying gracefully to the ground, and Jean lowering the rest of them safely. They came to ground at the gate of Anderson International's corporate headquarters and warehouse. It was an impressive structure, spanning several city blocks. The teammates looked around and were able to easily spot the team several yards into the complex, and it was also evident that their arrival did not go unnoticed. The group of people that was Hades Inc. advanced on the three X-Men.
Terri's eyes met Logan's and he saw the cool gaze of the PR Rep, as well as the icy gaze of a fighter, combined with the frigid glare of the young lady he had angered a few days ago. His gut clenched and he had to forcibly avert his gaze to pay attention to the mission.
Scott was eye to eye with the man known as Tom Reynolds. There were of a similar height, but Immortis was more muscular and broad than Scott. Storm was slightly behind and to the left of Cyclops and not quite square off with Power Link, who was grinning broadly, a cigarette between his lips. He, Wolverine was squared off with Pit Bull, and the open aggression in Mitchell's eyes was clear. Everest stood behind Reynolds, and Terri was slightly behind Pit Bull, and off to his right. Logan looked at them closely, taking in their uniforms, and how they all differed slightly. Terri's had a band of blue-green, Everest's stripe was a deep forest green color. Power Link had a bright red stripe, and Pit Bull a deep, almost blood-red one. And Immortis ware solid black, the stripe and insignia being even deeper black, if it were possible. Turner still wore that cowboy hat, Pete and John wore their hair short, and Terri and Tom had pulled theirs back into simple pony tails. And to a one, they all wore somewhat bulky gold bracelets.
"What do you want?" Tom asked simply, his gaze taking in Scott, and Logan could tell that he had dismissed Cyclops as a personal threat. Logan thought perhaps that was a premature assessment.
Tom, for his part, was irritated. This was supposed to be a simple mission, easy money, and now these whelps were back. Showing up where they weren't supposed to be, and jeopardizing their mission, and their paychecks. Anderson had asked that their activities be kept quiet, and now these lycra-losers were mucking around where they had no business being.
Scott refused to be intimidated by the guy. "I want you to reconsider this job you took." He said. "We found out what you intent to do, and we'd like you to know that it's illegal to engage in industrial espionage. Mutant involvement in criminal activities is not an image we want."
"Your point." Reynolds demanded impatiently. He was not going to listen to this self-righteous bull much longer.
"My point is that if you follow through with your plans, and continue with your involvement with Anderson International, I will do everything in my power to stop you. " Scott rose up to his full height and Logan could tell he resented Reynolds treating him like he was an insignificant player.
"So?" Reynolds prompted.
"So here is what's going to happen . . ." Scott began, only to find himself on the receiving end of a glare that Logan hadn't thought possible. It had Scott frozen in place in fear, and Logan began to advance, only to find Pit Bull in his way.
"What is going to happen . . . " Reynolds said in a deadly calm that wreaked havok on Logan's instincts, "is that you are going to stay out of my way. Now . . . go away." With that, Reynolds turned on his heal and walked away from Scott, dismissing him completely.
Storm steadied Scott as he sagged briefly, and Logan caught Reynolds scent. Logan was still trying to regain control of his inner instincts, as the harmonics in Reynolds's tone were so blatantly hostile, antagonistic, and threatening. Logan had heard that tone before only once, and that had been from a man named Asp. Asp had been an empath, and had paralyzed his victims using his eyes and filling them with a deadly fear of their opponent. This scented the same, both from Reynolds and from Cyclops.
Cyclops recovered quickly, as did Logan, and he heard Scott say "That's it, we're through playing."
From out of the Black Bird came Jean, Hank, Rogue and Gambit. Logan saw Reynolds whip around as the last word was spoken by Scott, and then he was looking straight into the eyes of Pit Bull, and a growl of challenge was met with a growl of acceptance. A red blast from Scott was absorbed by Power Link, and Logan saw Rogue flying around Everest.
Logan bared fangs as Pit Bull leapt at him, and he prepared to introduce Pit Bull to his fists, when Pete's attention was diverted and he yelled "TERRI . . . NO!!!!!!!!"
Something in the man's tone told Logan that this was NOT a diversionary tactic, and Logan whipped around just in time to see Terri introduce HER fist . . . to one of Gambit's charged cards. The resulting blast left a crater in the street, and knocked everyone for a loop, as well as to the ground, dazed and disoriented.
Logan's healing factor kicked in and he crawled to his feet to look at his chest, his uniform shredded from the gravel that had scoured through the area. It looked as though Jeannie had managed to shield the rest of the team from the worst of it, But she, Scott, and Storm were lying on the ground, breathing but unconscious. Rogue was in the air, making her way back to the scene, but was, as of yet, a small speck in the sky. Gambit was lying crumpled on the ground near a building. Hank was not visible at the moment. At least Jubilee was safe in the Black Bird.
As for Hades, Reynolds was picking himself up off the ground, his uniform also ripped, but his wounds healed. Everest was prying himself out of the ground, although he had only gone a few feet from where Logan had last seen him. Power Link was nowhere to be seen. Terri, who was apparently the only one left unscathed by the blast as her uniform was still immaculate, was rising from the side of Pit Bull. Her eyes held concern and a hint of fear and anger, while Pit Bull was lying on the ground, breathing and moving slightly.
A sonic boom sounded in the sky, and Logan covered his ears in an instinctive motion as the sound assaulted his sensitive ears, still not quite recovered from the noise of the blast Terri and Gambit provided. He looked up and saw Power Link dropping to the ground, black bag in hand. Turner loped over to Pit Bull and began to look him over, and Terri stood and moved to Gambit. Logan walked over.
Her blue-green eyes didn't look at him as she checked Gambit for injuries. Finally, she sighed. "Three, maybe four broken ribs. He'll live, but he's going to be sore. He'll need to be taped." Logan nodded and looked to his other teammates. Scott was up now and helping Jean to get off the ground. She was holding her head. Storm was being helped gently to her feet by . . . Everest?!?!? . . . who was looking somewhat sheepish and asking if she was okay. Hank was making his way toward them, from between two buildings. Rogue had managed to make it back, and was now coming towards them, green eyes ablaze. Terri stepped out of the way quickly and trotted over to Reynolds before Logan could say anything more.
Rogue picked up Gambit and carefully flew him back up to the Black Bird, where Logan knew she would strap him into a medi-tech and ready him for the ride home. Scott was shaking off the last of the disorientation and moving towards Reynolds purposefully. Jean was walking with him and Storm was reassuring Everest that she was fine. And Hank was with Power Link, looking over Pit Bull. Reynolds was standing over the both of them, listening and watching. But as Rogue flew off with Gambit, Hank looked up, and then stood and moved over to Storm, wanting a lift to tend to his fallen teammate.
Logan, for his part, had fully recovered now, and his ears were hearing the approaching sirens of the police. He walked over to Scott, who was just gearing up to have words with Reynolds, who seemed to be glaring at Scott with more and more intensity. He put a hand on Scott's shoulder before Scott said anything. "Cyc, we've got incoming." He said quietly and Scott looked to Jean, who nodded.
"This is far from over, Immortis." Scott scowled and turned and walked away. "Let's go, people!" he hollered and the X-Men began to get organized for the ride to the Black Bird.
"Yes, is it." Reynolds said very quietly, pitched to carry, the tone threatening and warning all at once. Scott whipped around to face Immortis, who chose the next second to dismiss Cyclops in a gesture of extreme distaste and delivered in a highly insulting manner. "Go play, little man." was all he said.
Jean took Scott's hand, preventing him from taking any immediate action. As a team, they lifted back to the Black Bird and went home, nobody satisfied with the outcome.
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