The huge man leaned against the wall in his office and tried to decide his game plan as he surveyed his people who slowly gathered into the room. First, naturally, was Controller, his right hand man and trusted friend. Liberty, the one true person who could keep him on schedule, keeps his private life and mercenary life balanced. Tracker, who lived up to his code name, had never lost his objective but did however, tend to overkill his objective. His partner, Ghost, as silent as he was deadly. The hooded, cloaked Gatewayer who arrived via his power.
The last to arrive were two men, one dressed in something that resembled a modern day pirate and the other dressed similarly to a monk. The pirate was tall, with handsome Celtic features and black hair and eyes with an impish grin that seemed to be permanently attached to his mouth. The monk lowered his hood revealing dark hair, blue piercing eyes, and aristocratic features and a more somber express. They were a team of their own, the pirate, known as Porter, was the teleporter of the team and the monk was Healer, as were his powers. Porter's main job was to make sure that Healer lived. During combat they would be attached at their waists by a flexible cable. If during the battle, someone was injured, Porter teleporter Healer to the injured and then stood guard while the wounded was healed. If the battle turned sour, Porter would get Healer to safety and then come back for the wounded.
"As requested, we're here," the pirate said as he stood close to the monk.
"I've checked on our guests," the monk said with a slight Georgian accent. "They're doing fine."
"Very good." Controller stood and took his place next to his employer. "We are not sure of what we are walking into on this. The buyer has requested that he be there for the drop off. I want all of you to be extra alert. It maybe that the buyer has an alternative plan in mind."
"You mean turning in the big guy?" Porter asked gesturing toward the man in black.
"Bit paranoid on our parts, don't you think?"
"Way stupid on theirs if they think their gonna get away with it," Ghost warned to no one in particular as he locked and loaded his Mac10's.
"No one is paranoid," the mechanical whispers filled the room. "But this is not a time to take chances."
"Christ knows you've taken enough of them with that runt," Tracker snapped off as he glowered at the man. "Besides, we're running out of time, sooner or later he's going to place you. The faster we get rid of the fucker, the easier I can sleep."
"You don't sleep," Liberty corrected.
"Whatever." Tracker continued, "Point being, boss, is I'm more concerned over this Wolverine than that Viper, given the fact, I'm pretty sure a well placed bullett'll stop Viper. The other little prick's got andimantium for a skull."
"He's got a point," Ghost agreed.
"The plan was to just drop the cargo and leave with our payment, however that plan has been drastically altered," Controller informed them.
Cyclops leaned forward on the table, folding his hands, and gathered his thoughts before he spoke. "As you can see, we have very little to go on. Man of War is an enigma to anyone, any government or agency, even SHIELD. No one who has ever seen him has ever lived, or if they have, they'd never tell."
He paused for a moment, took a breath and said, "Lets focus on what we do know. He's an assassin for hire."
"No one has ever seen him," Kurt reiterated.
"He's expensive," Jean said. "Highest paid with the highest bounty on his own head."
"He only leaves behind an initialized shuriken to let everyone know who did the job," Warren tossed out.
"And abduction is not his forte," Beast informed the group. "He customarily specializes in the termination of prominent political figures or other high profile individuals, from drug lords and gangsters to philanthropists."
The room was silent. The X-Men looked at each other for more input but none was given. Professor cleared his throat, "Well, it seems we have exhausted our knowledge of this Man of War and are back where we started."
"Not necessarily, sir," Cyclops broke in. "We know that kidnapping is not his m.o., yet here we are being led to believe that he kidnapped Wolverine, Jasmine and Kitku."
"Also," Storm added, "it seems that his motivation is his privacy. He must know that by taking this 'job' that he risks a high profile battle with the X-Men. Why would he chance such notoriety?"
"A hell've a lot of money," Warren responded. "Somebody wanted these guys bad, real bad to call in a big gun like that. So, what's the common denominator? Who is the enemy of all three?"
"We are limited on Jasmine's enemies. Kitku, as far as we know only has one and, well, Wolverine ..." Jean let the sentence drop.
"True, Kitku only has one and the other two just recently tangled with him," Scott interjected.
"Viper," Kurt verbalized. "But vhy vould he vant to hire someone? He is very powerful within ze Tong, iz he not?"
"Perhaps, he didn't want to risk an open battle with us," Warren said with a shrug. "It's hard to say."
"Much as I cherish an ambitious deliberation," Beast interrupted, "and hypothesizing, this is not getting us any nearer to ascertain our comrades' location."
Again, the room fell silent, each X-Man with their own thoughts of helplessness. They knew that the only reason the conversation had continued as long as it did was so they could feel as if they were accomplishing something.
Kurt sighed. "I zuppoze, ve could just try to contact zis Viper and find out vhere he iz instead of looking for Wolverine, Jasmine and Kitku."
Slowly, the Professor nodded, "Yes, both Jean and I have had some contact with Viper's mind. It should not take us too long to search him out."
"Okay, people, while Jean and the Professor telepathically search, lets try going over the areas they were last seen one more time," Cyclops said as he got to his feet. "Maybe we missed some sort of clue or overlooked something."
The X-Men followed their leader's orders even though they knew it was just something to keep them busy until the Professor or Jean found Viper. If they could find Viper.
Jasmine sat in the dark room still tied up and with the negation bands still in place but they had removed her hood but there was little point. She squeezed her eyes shut and opened them in hopes that she might somehow see through the darkness.
"Shit," she said in defeat. "This sucks."
She figured they were at least listening in on her, even if they could not see her. "I said this sucks. It's not like it would hurt for a bit of light."
A dim light from over head came on.
"Well, thank you very much," her voice dripped with snarling sarcasm. "I am forever in your debt. Not."
She tested the bonds again but they were tight. "Shit."
Shadows suddenly appeared on the wall in front of her, she twisted her neck as she tried to see behind her. A portal was open and two hooded men brought Kitku into the room. They set her chair next to Jasmine's. The shorter of the two men reached behind Jasmine and undid her bonds and then undid Kitku's.
It took every ounce of control not to just attack, but Jasmine slowly got to her feet and turned towards them. The man had backed up from them and the taller one had leveled his MAC10's at the two of them.
"Are we that dangerous?" Jasmine asked.
"Probably not," the shorter one replied.
Kitku mimicked Jasmine's slow and cautious movements and made her way to her. She wrapped her arms around Jasmine's waist and clung to her. Jasmine put a protective arm around the little girl and moved her body in front of Kitku's.
"Proud of yourself?" she snarled. "Scaring the crap out of a little girl ought to make you feel like a man."
The shorter man signaled the other to lower his weapons. He shrugged but made no apology for their actions.
"So, are you going to tell me why you've kidnapped us?"
He tilted his head at her as if contemplating his answer. "Nope."
"Figures." Jasmine chuckled. Her mind raced as she considered hers and Kitku's options. She had to keep them here, had to discover some kind of answer as to what they wanted and what their fate was. She hoped her next comment would get some sort of response, although probably not a good one.
"I guess you wouldn't know any way," she said in a dismissive tone. "They wouldn't tell some minion what was up anyway."
"Minion?" his tone was that of amusement. It was not the reaction that Jasmine expected. "I've been called a lot of things ..."
"I'm sure you have," she interrupted.
"But never a minion," he continued, ignoring her comment. He crossed his arms over his chest; his legs spread shoulder width and his head tilted as if studying her. "You're going to have to do better than that to antagonize me into an answer."
Jasmine's shoulders dropped slightly. The guy was good, too good. Instead of her infuriating him off, he was attempting to provoke her. Well, if he wanted to play it like that, Jasmine was more than willing to oblige him. "Really?"
"Really," his voice held a challenge.
It was Jasmine's turn to study the body language of man in front of her. His stance revealed to her that he had a strong military background. He had a confidence about him that screamed Special Forces and battle experienced. A slight twitch in his shoulder informed her that his guard was not down; somehow, she doubted that it ever was. His eyes showed her that he was a killer who cared very little about anything, but what he did cherish would have his undying devotion.
"Where is he?"
Jasmine rolled her eyes. "'Who he' is the guy that was brought in with us," she said, careful not to use Logan's name.
"Oh, that he." The man's eyes crinkled in amusement. "He's around."
Suddenly Kitku shoved past Jasmine's protective hold and was toe to toe with the man. "If you hurt my Dad, so help me I will hunt you down and make you wish you had never met me."
The man regarded her with amusement and a bit of admiration. It took a lot for the girl to confront him like that. "Well, we'll make sure he's returned to you safe and sound."
"You'd best be doing that then," she snorted.
Then as if she realized what she had done, she slowly and cautiously backed away to the safety of Jasmine. "Okay, then."
"Ladies." He and the other man began backing up into a portal that suddenly appeared behind them.
"Damn," Jasmine swore. "Now what?"
"Don't worry, Jasmine," Kitku assured her. "Somebody will find us."
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