Kitku immediately began to scream mentally for Jean or Sir. Suddenly her head was fuzzy and she was unable to think clearly.
"Lets not invite anyone, shall we?" Controller's voice was in her mind.
"Can't blame me for trying."
Kitku sighed as Gatewayer gently nudged her forward through the empty warehouse.
"We're getting closer, Cyc," Warren informed him over the Blackbird's speaker. "Let us out and we'll fly down on them."
"Roger that," Cyclops said as Nightcrawler opened the back hatch of the Blackbird. "Storm, Archangel, and Rogue. Stand by."
Jean nodded to him from the navigator's chair.
The three flyers left the plane and headed for the warehouse.
Kitku froze at the voices that drifted to her.
"I understand that you are uncomfortable with our arrangement, however, we felt it was necessary," Kim's voice flooded her ears. Where Kim went, Viper was not far behind.
Kitku shook as she clung to Wolverine.
"Relax, darlin'," he assured her with a wink.
She swallowed hard and nodded. Gatewayer ushered them to where the guy in black, a woman and Controller stood. Opposite them, were Viper, Kim and Nang. Kitku shivered more as she came under Viper's gaze.
Cyclops circled the area once more to make sure his flyers were in place. He set the plane to hover and set the cloaking device. He went to the back of the plane to Jean and Kurt.
Jean grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze as she scooped the two men into her telekinetic bubble and lowered them toward the warehouse.
"Good, our merchandise has arrived." He smiled at Kitku. "I am so glad you have retrieved my niece. It broke my heart when she was taken from me."
"Crock o' shit," Logan spat.
Viper gave Logan a small confident smile. "Is it? I think not."
Wolverine growled. Jasmine started forward but Gatewayer's firm grip on her shoulder stopped her.
Viper smiled again. He waved a hand and Nang moved forward with a laptop. Liberty moved toward him at the same time. They worked together in silence as money was electronically transferred.
"Done," Liberty said. She shut the laptop and touched Nang's hand. A small scratch from her ring appeared and he fell quietly to the floor in a drugged sleep.
Viper jumped to his feet as Kim moved in front to protect him. Knives appeared in his hands and then a shot was heard. Kim grabbed his wounded hand and looked up to see the sniper on the catwalk. His men were gone.
"Your arrangement," Controller said quietly, "did not please us."
Viper looked at Kim's hand but Kim shook his head to let his Master know he was all right. Viper stepped forward. "I can see that."
"You see, Viper," Controller continued as he slowly began to mimic Man of War's stance and Viper knew that it was Man of War speaking through Controller. "I do not like being lied to or thought of as an idiot. Even less, I don't like people thinking that they are capable of duping me, in any fashion."
"And how did you come to the conclusion that I duped you?" Viper smiled, his eyes looked down at Controller with arrogance.
"They didn't kidnap her ..."
"If I am going to speak with the great Man of War," Viper interrupted his tone that of someone, who had a bad taste in his mouth, "Then he should have the honor to address me himself and not go through some lackey."
Viper looked directly at Man of War. "Or is it that you truly do not speak for yourself but allow others to do it for you."
Kitku's stomach knotted. It didn't take an empath to feel the tension rise about hundred percent in the room. She moved closer to Logan and Jasmine.
"No one speaks for me," the eerie mechanical whisper filled the room. "We were told she was kidnapped by these two. She says otherwise."
Viper smiled. "So she says."
"She also said that she doesn't have any other family," he continued.
Jasmine shifted her weight from one foot to the other. These people were only trying to save a little girl. They weren't trying to kill her. No wonder they had been so confused about Kitku's reaction to the question of family. She watched with growing interest and with a touch of sympathy for her kidnappers.
"The woman has nothing to do with this either," Man of War added. "Your main interest isn't even the girl anymore. You want Wolverine."
"True, but the girl is mine." Viper calmly took a step forward as two sheathed blades materialized on his back.
"I don't think so."
"She is my niece."
"She says otherwise."
"She doesn't remember."
"She remembers enough to know you killed her parents."
Viper chuckled. "Well, that was an unfortunate incident."
Kitku's head dropped at the thought of her dead parents. Wolverine stepped closer to her in a reassuring way. She raised her head.
"Don't let 'em get at ya," he said quietly. "Don't let 'em see your hurtin'."
She nodded, set her jaw and faced Viper with narrow, determined eyes that only a ten-year-old could muster.
"She is my niece," he repeated as he looked at her.
Kitku shivered. The idea that Viper was her uncle made her stomach turn even more. Was he lying? He had to be lying. There was no way on earth she could be related to him.
"Ick," Kitku responded without thinking. "That's gross."
Viper chuckled humorlessly. "Not as bad as you think."
"Uh, yeah it is," she answered, again without thinking. The thought of being in the same gene pool apparently was making her brave. "The thought of it makes me wanna barf."
He raised an eyebrow but said nothing else to her.
"I guess she pretty much told you," Liberty chuckled.
Viper glared at her. She shrugged. She knew under normal circumstances his stare would have froze her blood, but she was well aware that the future did not bring her any trouble from Viper besides, she knew she was well protected from any threat. Her Father was watching over her.
"Are you breaking your contract, Man of War?" Viper asked as he turned the conversation.
"The contract was broken when we discovered you had no intention of a loving reunion," the reply came in a cold, dead calm.
"But still you bring her to me with the woman and Wolverine."
"Wolverine you can have. The girl stays with me. As for the woman, well, that all depends on how much trouble you want on your front doorstep."
Jasmine swore she heard levity in his voice. She eyed him carefully to see if his posture had changed. It had not, so she was left to her own imagination. This was a man who had carefully reinvented himself and trained himself not to show any body language or vocal changes that might give him away. Obviously, his powerful build would be enough to give him away. How many six foot eight titan built men were running around in the world?
Viper eyed Man of War. "The matter stands, the girl is mine and you've been paid more than generously for your trouble."
"Consider the money returned. All of it. It's being rerouted to your account as we speak. I had no intention of keeping your money, once the truth was discovered." If possible, Man of War's voice became even quieter with an edge of cold death; "I don't condone the murder of children. Regardless of the price."
Jasmine watched as his right shoulder dropped a negligible amount and his left shoulder, everso slightly shifted back. If Jasmine was not an artist and so aware of her surroundings, she doubted she would have even noticed the change. He's getting ready for an attack, she thought to herself. Or he's giving signals to his people.
"Murder?" Viper hissed.
"She's the only one who knows, isn't she? You're afraid she'll go to the police or worse," Man of War enlightened Viper on his knowledge of Viper's situation.
Kitku looked confused but said nothing. What could she possible do? She was a kid that practically wet her pants every time Viper's name was mentioned.
The tension in the room tripled.
"Give her to me."
Man of War took Kitku by the arm and pulled her behind him. She felt his hand squeeze the neutralizer band and heard the crunch of it breaking under pressure. She felt her power come back and tested it by making an aluminum ring appear on her finger. She dropped her head to hide her smile.
"Come and get her," he challenged.
Without warning, Viper drew his blades and swung at Man of War. He dodged Viper's first three swings but was unable to move suitably because he was blocking Kitku with his body. He knew if he moved to far one way or the other, Viper would cut her down. Viper was well aware of this fact. But Man of War had given his word and he would die before he broke it.
Kitku, without hesitation, materialized her bat and skateboard; she propelled herself between Viper and Man of War. She swung her bat up in an effort to block Viper's blade. The blades cut through her bat with no problem. Kitku watched both blades coming at her face.
Man of War blocked one and Viper faked the second blade to the left, cutting Kitku across the chest.
Kitku fell to the ground.
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