Disclaimers in part 0
Logan rolled his neck, popping the joints and getting loose for the
upcoming fight. He then leaned over the edge of the cliff and called
out to the Man in Black, "Hey, there. Slow goin' eh?"
The Man in Black looked up and said, "I don't mean to be rude, but this
is not as easy as it looks, so I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't
Logan shrugged. "Sorry."
After a few minutes, Logan's impatience got the better of him again. "I
don't suppose you could speed it up a little, eh, bub?"
"If you're in such a hurry," the Man in Black responded, "you could
lower a rope or a tree branch or find something useful to do."
"I could do that," the Canadian said. "I still got some rope up here.
But I don't think you'd accept my help, since I'm only waitin' around to
"That *does* put a damper on our relationship," the Man in Black agreed
"I promise I won't kill you until you reach the top," Logan said
"That's very comforting, but I'm afraid you'll just have to wait."
"I hate waiting." He paced around the top of the cliff for a few
moments, before turning to look down at the Man in Black again. "I could
give you my word as a Canadian," he offered.
The Man in Black paused in his struggle up the cliff face. "No good.
I've known too many Canadians."
"Is there another way you'll trust me?"
"Nothing comes to mind."
Logan thought for a second. "I swear on the soul of my dead fiancée,
Mariko Yashido, you will reach the top alive." His voice was deadly
"Throw me the rope."
Logan tossed the rope to the Man in Black, and pulled him up to the top
of the cliff.
"Thank you," the Man in Black said, gasping for breath. He struggled to
draw his sword.
Logan held up a hand. "Wait 'til you're ready."
"Again, thank you."
He sat down on a rock and took his left boot off. He shook it and a
small stone fell out. Pulling it back on, he murmured, "Much better."
"I don't mean to pry, but you don't by any chance happen to have talons,
"No." The Man in Black pulled off a glove and held up his talonless
hand. "Do you always begin conversations this way?"
Logan unsheathed the claws on his left hand. "I'm tryin' to find the
bastards who gave me these things."
The Man in Black gave a long, low whistle. "I've never seen anything
"Yeah. The man with the talons -- he was my friend, I thought. We worked
together for the Canadian government. They were looking for muties to
experiment on, and the bastard sold me out. I got this healing factor,
see, and so I could survive whatever they wanted to do to me."
"What did they do to you?" the Man in Black asked.
"They grafted metal to my skeleton and made me a walking can-opener.
They took away everything -- I don't remember much of my life before
this happened, not even my name.
"But I remember him. The man with the talons. After I escaped, I
dedicated my life to fighting, to revenge; so the next time we meet I
will not fail. I'm gonna go up to the man with the talons and say 'Hey,
my name is Logan. You stole my life. Prepare to die.'"
The Man in Black was intrigued by this single-mindedness. "You've done
nothing but fight?"
"More pursue than fight lately. See, I can't find him. It's been fifteen
years now and I'm starting to lose confidence. I just work for Mystique
to pay the bills. There's not a lot of money in revenge."
After a moment's silence, the Man in Black stood and prepared himself
"Well I certainly hope you find him someday," he said.
"You all ready, then?" Logan asked.
"Whether I am or not, you've been more than fair," the Man in Black
Logan unsheathed the claws on his left hand. "You seem like a good guy.
I hate to kill you."
"You seem like a good guy," the Man in Black responded. "I hate to die."
Logan bowed like the samurai he once had been. Then he said, "Begin." He
was glad when he noticed that the Man in Black was also left-handed. He
thought it was good to test his weaker side against the other man's
Logan tested the Man in Black, and the Man in Black tested Logan. The
battle raged silently for a few minutes. Fighting a man with three
razor-sharp claws was only a little different than fighting one with a
sword, and the Man in Black held his own.
"You're usin' Bonetti's Defense against me, eh?" Logan said.
"I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain."
"Naturally, you think Im going to attack with Capo Ferro?" Logan wasn't
even winded yet.
"Naturally. But I find that Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro. Don't
"Unless the enemy has studied his Agrippa," and he slashed, but the Man
in Black parried easily, "which I have."
Logan smiled as the Man in Black took the offensive. It had been a long
time since anyone had against him. He let the masked man advance,
building up his confidence, and retreated gracefully between some trees.
He moved quickly, and suddenly he was behind the nearest tree; the Man
in Black hadn't expected that, and was slow to react. Logan flashed out
from behind the tree, slashing. The Man in Black retreated, stumbling
over the roots and righting himself.
They were moving parallel to the cliffs, now, and the trees were behind
them. Logan was slowly forcing the Man in Black toward a large group of
boulders, because he wanted to see how the man fought in close quarters.
He continued to press and then they were amidst the rocks. Logan
suddenly threw himself against a nearby boulder, rebounded off it with
stunning force, lunging with incredible speed.
First blood went to Logan.
He grazed the Man in Black -- it was a mere scratch on his left wrist,
but it was bleeding.
Immediately, the Man in Black took the fight back out onto the plateau,
and Logan let him. He launched an assault with lightning speed, and
Logan retreated steadily. He knew that the cliffs were coming up behind
him, but he never worried. He was exhilarated that he had such an
excellent opponent. It had been a long time.
"You're damn good!" he said, as the Man in Black had him backed up as
far as he could go.
"Thank you," the masked man replied politely. "I've worked hard to
"I admit it, you're better than I am."
"Then why are you smiling?" the Man in Black asked.
Logan answered, "Because I know something you don't know."
"And what is that?"
Logan extended the claws on his right hand. "I am not left-handed!"
Now that Logan was fighting on all cylinders, the tide of the battle
turned. The Man in Black retreated before the slashing blades in Logan's
hands. He was able to parry the first fifty thrusts, but the fifty-first
slipped through his defenses. He could thwart thirty ripostes, but not
the thirty-first, and now his shoulder bled.
The wounds were still only scratches, but it was clear that Logan
overmatched the Man in Black.
"You're amazing!" he gasped, parrying yet another two-handed feint by
"I ought to be, after fifteen years."
The Man in Black was struggling to keep Logan away. "There's something I
ought to tell you," he said.
"Tell me!" Logan demanded.
"I'm not left-handed either."
And the Man in Black tossed his sword into his right hand and began to
fight in earnest. Logan began to retreat.
Their blades clashed and Logan said, "Who *are* you?"
"No one of consequence."
"I must know."
"Get used to disappointment."
Logan sighed. "Okay."
Their blades flashed in the sunlight, almost too quick for the eye to
follow. The Man in Black was in control now, and Logan tried to force
the fight into the trees, or among the boulders, but the masked man
would have none of it.
And in the open, unthinkable as it was, the Man in Black was better. Not
by much, but in a myriad of tiny ways that added up to the slightest of
Somehow, some way, he slid his sword in between the six claws until the
point rested at Logan's throat.
Logan raised his chin defiantly. "Do it quick."
"I would as soon destroy a stained glass window as an artist like
yourself. However, since I can't have you following me either..."
The Man in Black raised his hand to his temple, and a red beam shot from
his eyes, stunning Logan and knocking him unconscious.
"Please understand I hold you in the highest respect," the Man in Black
said sincerely. Then he turned and ran off in the direction Mystique and
Hank had carried off the princess.
"fuck you and your untouchable face / fuck you for existing in the first
place /who am I / to be vying for your touch? / who am I? / I bet you
can't even tell me that much"- "Untouchable Face" - Ani DiFranco
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