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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11


Written by Steve Paul
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 5

The airport terminal was well lit and fairly crowded, despite the early hour. The passengers disembarking flight 257 from Kennedy airport trudged toward the baggage claim area in a herd, yet alone. Who did they expect to meet their plane at this ungodly hour? For Remy LeBeau and his fellow X-Man Logan, Gambit and Wolverine, the answer was 'no one'.

"Now what?" The Cajun stopped in the middle of the terminal and looked around. The majority of the people in the gate area were waiting to board flight 257, which would connect in Chicago, O'Hare, with a final destination of Vancouver, B.C. At least that's what the flight itinerary said.

Of the passengers arriving from New York, the businessman who had been seated next to him, for part of the flight anyway, was almost sprinting down the corridor in his attempt to distance himself from the flight. The drunk was no where in sight. Musta lit a fire under dat boy!

"Now we get a car and get outta the airport." Logan was brusque, but that was his usual style. He began to make his way purposely toward the stairs to the lower level of the terminal, the Cajun began to follow at a more casual pace.

Loud voices near the main corridor caught his attention and he stopped, looking for the source of the disturbance. He immediately recognized, the uniforms, and turned away quickly before the two friends of humanity saw him. They were too busy passing out pamphlets on the mutant threat, and didn't see him.

He cast a quick, appraising glance over his shoulder. They were both men, mid 30's, and judging from their strident tone, they were believers. Most of the people in the terminal avoided them, which the Cajun thought was a good sign.

Eh, dey prob'ly wouldn' recognize us anyway - dey just low level drones. Merde!. . .de let anyone in here dese days. Not like de good ol' days when de biggest pain in de ass at de airport were de Hare Krishna's. He hurried to catch up with Wolverine.

Logan had made it to the top of the down escalator. He was standing with his head slightly lifted, and was making a light 'snuffing' noise when Gambit had caught up to him. The Cajun studied his companion, who was now turning his head from side to side, looking, Gambit thought, for the source of scent he had obviously picked up. The Canadian's face was tense.

"What you got, Mon ami?" Gambit watched the older man with growing concern.

"Not sure." He started walking; away from the escalators and back toward the terminal. Gambit fell into pace with him, relieved to see the FOH shills were gone.

One less t'ing ta worry 'bout f'now.

They reached the corridor that led from the main terminal down to the actual gates. Gambit looked both ways, and figured they were about 2/3 of the way to the end of the corridor - away from the terminal. Logan was down on his haunches, sniffing again. Remy looked around; they hadn't drawn any attention that he could tell, but that might not last.

"Got any idea at all? Someone we know? I saw a couple of de 'Friends of Humanity' here a minute ago."

"Saw 'em too. Different smell."

LeBeau tried to think of any known evil mutants in the area. The closest he could come was Sinister's facility near St. Louis. Make dat EX-facility, t'anks ta me Bishop 'n Beast. He smiled.

Wolverine finally responded. "No. It's not a 'someone', its a 'something'."

"Care to 'splain dat, mon ami? What you t'inkin' a big plant?" He thought of Audrey II and smiled.

"Don't be a moron. Of course its someone, but what I'm smelling is 'something', not 'someone'.

"Well dat clears it right up." Wolverine either ignored or didn't here the sarcasm in Gambit's reply. The thief slouched against the wall and waited. He knew better than to press things when Wolverine got this way. After a moment the Canadian stood up and turned toward him.

"He went that way," Logan jerked a thumb toward the main terminal.

"Who 'zactly is he?"

"Told you I don't know who he is." Logan paused here, looked right, then left, then right again, and followed the scent into the corridor. He motion Remy to follow him.

Look both ways 'fore ya cross de street, just like mama taught ya! He chuckled to himself as he followed behind the Canadian.

"What I'm smellin' is a predator." He glanced at Gambit's face to gauge his reaction. The Cajun stopped smiling and regarded Wolverine a little more seriously.

"Can you be a little more specific?"

"Not really. I can tell something's not right with 'im." He stopped walking, cleared his throat and changed his stance a bit. The way he was standing, Logan almost looked like a teacher giving a lecture. The though caused Gambit's smile to return.

"This ain't funny Cajun." Wolverine flared. "You ever see a rabid dog?" Gambit nodded his assent. When he was running wild on the streets of New Orleans he'd run across a spaniel that had been bit. He and his boys thought it was pretty funny the way the dog was foaming, whining and barking. Funny that is, until the dog attacked. Gambit shuddered as he recalled the crazed viciousness of the attack, and what happened to Henri, the one boy that had actually been biten.

"You sayin' dis guy got rabies?"

"No. I'm saying he smells sick." He paused again. "This guy likes killin'." Another pause as the older man sniffed again. "I can smell his excitement. He's got someone lined up. Scent's gettin' stronger the closer he gets. He's stalkin' 'em now." They exchanged looks. Gambit sighed and shrugged.

What Logan didn't tell his companion was that, even though the scent he picked up was sick, it was having an effect on him: Not unlike the way blood in the ocean effects a rouge shark. He knew that this was very feeling he had to fight. He tried to choke it back, with mixed results at best.

"Well, den, I guess we go huntin' de hunter. Can you tell how close he is to de victim?"

"No." Logan began moving again. "C'mon, I think he's this way." He wiped a small drop of saliva from the corner of his mouth quickly, before Gambit could see it. "It's hard to tell, his scent's all over the place. He must be here an awful lot."

They were moving quickly now, not speaking. Gambit had put his shades on, not only to cover his eyes, -- never know where does 'Friends' gonna pop up again -- but to cut the glare down as well. His eyes were sensitive to the light, even the fluorescent lights of the airport kiosks at 4:30 in the morning. He was looking at everyone they passed for anything that might tip him off to who this 'predator' was. He knew, however, they had a better chance relying on Wolverine's heightened sense of smell.

They had worked their way past the American gates, the metal detectors, and were heading toward the main check-in area, when Wolverine pulled up short.

"He's near," Logan hissed to Remy. The hair was standing on the back of his neck, his breath quickened. Together they scanned the faces in the thin crowd. Wolverine let out a low growl, and started to inch forward. Gambit put his hand on the other man's shoulder to hold him back for a minute.

"Don' jest go wading in, mon ami. Tell me which one he is, and let's form a plan."

Logan swatted the hand off his shoulder and pointed. Gambit looked and shrugged. The 'Predator' was a white male, about 5'10", medium build. He had glasses, and was losing his light brown hair. He wore the uniform of an airport maintenance worker.

"You sure dat's him? He don' look too dangerous."

"That's him all right. His stench is making me sick!" He could feel the tips of his claws starting to emerge, three small bloody points on each hand; the pain was reassuring. "C'mon." Wolverine started to make off after the man when Gambit grabbed him by the arm.

"You're startin' ta make a habit of that," Wolverine moved menacingly closer to his companion, "and I don't like it!" The last came out as a low growl.

Again LeBeau shrugged. You ain't de only one who c'n push buttons, mon frere. "I try ta remeber dat...Logan, t'ink f'a minute. We in de airport. De got security all over de place. I get de d'stinct idea you wanna do somet'in dat Cyclops won' like."

Wolverine smiled and nodded.

"Den we gotta be careful. Don' know 'bout you, but I don' wan' be hangin' out at de Wayne County prison. Don wanna miss dat hockey game," he added with a smile.

"What do you suggest." His voice was throaty and coarse, more so than usual. Wolverine was listening to the Cajun, but watching his quarry, and what he saw made him sick. He had spotted the guy's 'prey'. I'm gonna love wackin' this psycho. He smiled, maybe Chuck was right. This trip ain't gonna be so bad after all.

"I suggest dat you keep an eye on de guy, 'n Gambit go take out de cameras."

Again, Wolverine nodded, he hadn't even considered a surveillance system; he'd been too caught up in the natural process of the game: Hunter against hunter. Add to that the internal struggle between his desire to jump the guy here, regardless of the consequences, and his survival instinct. The external threat of a surveillance system was minor, at best. Let the Cajun worry about their backs.

He grunted his assent to Gambit, who left. Wolverine picked his. With a little luck, he'd get to take the dirtball while the Cajun was gone.

The maintenance man continued his leisurely pace around the terminal, stopping to check a light here, chat briefly with a coworker or ticket agent there. It was obvious to Logan that the guy really was an airport employee. It was equally obvious that the entire airport, with the exception of Gambit and himself, was blissfully unaware of the man's real intent. He was beginning follow the man down a less crowded side corridor when the Cajun reappeared at Wolverine's side.

"Anyt'ing new?"

"Yeah. I see his target. What about the cameras?"

Gambit grunted. "No sweat. Had ta fin' an isolated one where I don' be seen. Den it's jus' a matter of cuttin' de co-ax, and sendin' a series of kinetic charges down de line to de recorder, which is den fried." He was chuckling. "Hope dey got some insurance!"

"Don't sprain yer shoulder pattin' yourself on the back Cajun. We're gonna get some action pretty quick. I think he's ready to strike."

"Strike who?"

Wolverine pointed his reply.

Gambit stopped dead, looked at Wolverine and said "you gotta be kiddn' me!" Even as he said it, he knew it was true. The Canadian was pointing at a little girl. She couldn't have been much older than six or seven, and she was very much alone. By her appearance, however, she wasn't frightened; her actions and body language indicated that this was probably a common occurance. Where de hell are her parents? Gambit had seen her at the gate when they got off the plane.

Before he could question Wolverine about their next move, the maintenance man made it for them. With a quick glance either way, he walked up to the girl, said a few words to her, then led her by the arm down a darkened service corridor.

"Shit!" Wolverine hissed. "Let's go!" The adrenaline was coursing through his veins, without waiting for the Cajun he took off down the corridor, the kill now the only thing on his mind, his conscience no more than a whisper, which he silenced with the simple justification: The guy's sick. He's gotta be put down for the good of the herd.

Gambit was startled by Wolverine's speed, and hurried after the Canadian, making sure that they weren't noticed. Amazingly they weren't

Stormy's Bright Lady mus' be watchin' out fer us today. He offered her a silent prayer as her ran to catch up with Logan; It couldn't hurt. He searched his memory for a suitable prayer, but the best he could come up with was a cross between a 'Hail Mary' and 'Wild Child' by the Doors. Hail Mary, full of grace, savior of de human race. . .eh, close enough. He crossed himself as he entered the hallway that Wolverine the maintenance man and the girl had just disappeared down.

Wolverine was at the end of the hallway. It was pitch black, except for a light seeping out from the crack under a door on the right side. Having completely forgotten about Gambit, he tore the door open and charged into the room. The little girl and her would be attacker were inside, she was unwrapping a tootsie pop, while the man was behind her, caught in his own feral rapture, ready to pounce. He never got the chance.

The girl screamed and dropped her candy. The prey, that's how Wolverine now thought of the man, lifted his hands in a defensive position. Gambit made it into the room as Wolverine was raising his arm back to strike. Surprisingly, his claws were sheathed. For the third time, Gambit grabbed his teammate.

"Let go of the arm Gumbo." His voice was barely human. He didn't bother to turn around, or let go of his prey.

"Get off de guy firs', den we figure out what we do." This wasn't so much a request as an order. It reached a part of Wolverine that was almost non-existent. A part that recognized the order, didn't like it, but knew it was right. He obeyed it

The prey stood up and started to speak. "Just what the hell do you. . "

"I'd shut up if I were you, mon ami." Gambit looked at the girl. She was obviously scared to death by what had just happened. She watched the three men warily, but she wasn't crying.

Gambit turned his back on the two men, not the wisest thing he ever did, walked over to the little girl and crouched in front of her. He looked her over. Between 3 1/2 and 4 feet tall, she had red hair, and was missing one of her front teeth - right top. *Cute li'l t'ing, aintcha?*

"What's ya name petite?"

"My name's not Patty," she replied petulantly, "it's Susie."

"Well Susie, my name is Remy. Remy LeBeau." He jerked his thumb toward the man pinned under Wolverine. "D'ya know dis guy?"

The prey answered for her. "She's my daughter." There was genuine anger in his voice, as well as fear. "What the hell is this all about?" He was struggling against Wolverine, but soon realized it was futile. "I demand to know what's going on. I have rights!" The guy was almost shouting.

"He's not my daddy. He's Mr. Tony. He works with my daddy." She turned her attention to Tony, "It's not nice ta lie Mr. Tony."

Man, dis kid's a pistol! Gambit got up and walked over to the man. "What's de deal?" He bent down close to the prone man, put his thumb and index finger together, then flicked him in the ear. The prey yelped.

"Why you lyin' ta me?" No answer. Logan growled his disapproval. Remy stood and turned back to the girl.

"So you know dis guy?" She nodded. "He ain't know stranger?" Again she nodded. "Why you come here wit' him?"

"He said he'd give me a lollipop, but he," here she pointed at Wolverine, "made me drop it."

Wolverine put his face right next to his victim's. "Spill it bub. . . and ya better not lie ta me, 'cause I won't like it." Tony looked from Wolverine to Gambit, his face going pale as he realized that he'd been caught.

"I didn't do anything," he started to protest, but was cut off by Logan.

"Ya woulda if ya had the chance. Right?"

"Yes." The answer was quiet, but it was loud enough for Logan.

"That's all I need." The arm started to draw back.

"Uhm, Logan, sil voi plait." The hand stopped, LeBeau noticed that two of the three claws were extended half an inch or so. Uh Oh. . .Elvis done lef' de buildin'.

"Let me get my petite chere out of here before. . ." Wolverine shrugged, but didn't lower his arm.

"C'mon petite, let's go find your poppa. He's working today, neh?"

"He sure is Mr. Elbow."

Gambit took her by the hand, and stood. He paused at the door and without looking back said "Make sure ya don' leave no fingerprints." They left without waiting for a reply.

Wolverine watched the two leave out of the corner of his eye. A small part of him was mildly surprised by the gentleness the Cajun had shown toward the kid. When he heard the door click shut, he turned back to the victim, and smiled.

"Alright. I confess. Take me to the airport police, and turn me in." He was sweating bullets and thinking this guy looks crazy.

Logan shook his head no, and placed his fist under the prey's chin. He completely popped the two outer claws, like he'd done so many times in the past. The prey's eyes bulged when he saw the foot long claws on either side of his head. Logan caught a whiff of urine as the man's bladder released it contents.

"Hey. C'mon on now, I said I wasn't gonna do it. Take me to the cops and send me to jail." A low growl started coming form the X-man.

"C'mon man. You can't do this to me. . .It's against the law. You know I'm right."

"Yeah, you're right. You're dead right, bub." The prey eased a fraction as Logan spoke, thinking he might actually get out of this. He did notice however, that the mutant freak -- the guy was obviously a mutant -- didn't sheath his claws.

"Only one problem with bein' dead right. Know what that is?" He stopped, waiting for an answer. His prey shook his head, as much as the restraining factor of the claws would allow, no.

"Problem is. . .you're still dead."

The ensuing 'snikt' was accompanied by an expulsion of air, a gurgling noise, then silence. For a moment, the hunter and prey were one, then all three claws were retracted.

Logan sat back on his haunches and surveyed the scene. The kill had quieted his inner 'hunger'. His adrenaline level was falling, his thoughts were becoming clearer. The prey, I think the kid said his name was Tony, was lying in a heap, blood streaming from his chin.

Logan was pleased to see that he was, for the most part, clean. No urine, and very little blood, mainly on the back of his hand and arm. He instinctively began to clean himself, the way the great natural predators clean themselves.

He looked at the body, and wondered how to dispose of it. After contemplating for a moment or two, he decided that leaving the dirtbag in a puddle of his own waste was fitting.

He was ready to leave when he thought of the Cajun's admonition concerning fingerprints. He looked at the dead man. He was laying face down in a growing puddle. There was a bulge in his back pocket, most likely his wallet.

Wolverine used one of his claws to cut off a piece of Tony's uniform, and wiped anything he may have touched. Then, still using the rag, he reached down and pulled the wallet out of the pocket. He stuck it in his own pocket without looking at its contents. He'd have to remember to ditch it as soon as he could.

Finally satisfied with the room's appearance, he opened the door, still using the cloth, and locked it from the inside. Then he slipped back into the hallway. From there he went to the main corridor, and then off in search of the wandering Cajun and the girl. That wouldn't be a problem: He knew both of their scents.


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