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The Land Of Blood And Honey 3/?? [Movieverse]

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  • Dyce-Elihara
    Disclaimers in part one. The Land of Blood and Honey (Part Three) By Dyce I don t like it. Neither do I. Creed hunkered down into the leaf-litter a little
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2001
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      Disclaimers in part one.


      The Land of Blood and Honey
      (Part Three)

      By Dyce

      "I don't like it."

      "Neither do I." Creed hunkered down into the
      leaf-litter a little more, peering over the small
      ridge at the gypsy encampment below. Normally he
      would have ignored it - gypsies had been camping in
      that valley practically forever, and it didn't cost
      him anything to respect their territory. They always
      left HIM respectfully alone, after all.

      This wasn't the usual group, though. And something
      smelled... off. Like maybe they had a very sick puma
      in one of those caravans. But why would they cart
      around something like that? And whatever it was, it
      was making some of them edgy. The horses weren't even
      twitching, though, so it had to be something that had
      been around long enough for them to get used to it.

      Logan growled softly. "Something's wrong," he
      insisted. "I'm goin' down there."

      "If it floats yer boat," Creed agreed reluctantly.
      "I'll stay up here an' keep watch in case they try to
      brain you." He'd rather the group didn't know about
      them yet, but if Logan was going to force a
      confrontation it was better now, in daylight, where
      the surprises could be kept to a minimum.

      He watched the other man scramble down the hill,
      deliberately doing it loud and clumsy to get their
      attention. That was good. You didn't want them to
      know right away that you could sneak up on them.

      Logan got down into the encampment and was immediately
      surrounded by suspicious, grubby figures. Creed made
      himself comfortable in the soft dirt, settling in for
      a long siege. The runt probably didn't know any of the
      gabble that lot spoke, and they'd be cagey about
      admitting to speaking more than broken English. They
      always were. Like Creed, they liked to play their
      cards close to the chest. He liked that.

      Eventually, after a bit of sniffing around and a lot
      of banging on the side of a small, grubby caravan,
      Logan handed over a couple of notes to an elderly man
      and was shown inside. A minute later he was back out,
      and Creed could see the tense fury in the man's stance
      even at that distance. He was already moving when
      Logan waved him down.

      Things got quiet as he drew close and they realized
      who he was. The campsites around here were good, and
      nobody got moved on, but there was always the unspoken
      corollary that if they were going to stay good, the
      big blonde man had to be left alone. He'd only had to
      kill two overzealous officials and a few gypsies from
      two different groups before everyone'd caught on.
      "What's goin' on?" he asked Logan, who was stiff and
      pale with rage.

      "They got a kid in there," the younger man gritted
      out, looking back at the small, windowless caravan.
      "Mutant."

      Creed raised a shaggy eyebrow, and gave the elderly
      man an enquiring look. The man shrank back a little.
      "Furry freakchild. Stupid. Dangerous. Is very sad
      that our tribe was cursed with it," he agreed, eyes
      flickering a little. This one understood more than he
      was saying.

      "And make some cash by lettin' folks see it, I bet."
      Creed looked at Logan, and sighed. Damnit. Fuckin'
      bleedin' heart loser. He was going to mess up the
      whole damn arrangement any minute. "How much?"

      The elderly man wasn't stupid. "For you, free," he
      said, smiling ingratiatingly.

      Creed snorted. "Not to see it. To buy it," he
      elaborated. "We got a... collection, ya might say."
      He kicked Logan surreptitiously in the shins to keep
      him quiet.

      The man frowned at the first two sentences, then
      smiled greedily at the third. "Two thousand pounds,"
      he said promptly.

      "For that, I'm lookin' first," Creed growled, and
      stepped up to shove his head through the small door.
      There were no windows, but the open door and a few
      cracks in the board walls showed him a bare wooden
      room, some straw piled up in a corner, and a skinny,
      ugly thing trembling against the far wall. He
      snorted, leaning back out into the fresh air. "Two
      thousand for that? Two hundred."

      "One thousand five," the man bargained. "It is
      unique. Good for your collection."

      "I already got a boy one looks a lot like it, but with
      less fur," Creed told him, grinning unpleasantly. "A
      pair'd be good, but I don't need yours that bad." The
      thing had reeked, but under the stench it had smelled
      female. "Five hundred."

      "One thousand," the man said firmly. "The expense of
      raising it-"

      "It's scrawnier than a starvin' dog, it's sick, and it
      probably can't even talk," Creed shrugged, feigning
      disinterest. "Eight hundred, and I'm doin' ya a
      favour."

      "Done!" the elderly man said immediately. He smiled
      another ingratiating smile, and Creed muffled a
      chuckle. He'd probably already tried to pawn the
      freak elsewhere, and gotten knocked back. Eight
      hundred pounds would be a windfall for this lot, and
      they wouldn't have to keep feeding or housing the
      scary freakthing they'd bred themselves.

      Creed pulled the money out of the pouch around his
      neck, careful not to show how much was in there, and
      to count it out in relatively small, used looking
      bills. "Here," he said, shoving it at the man. "And
      I want a blanket or something to carry it in. I ain't
      gettin' its stink all over my clothes." A worn
      horseblanket was brought while the old man counted his
      money carefully, and Creed thrust it at Logan without
      looking. "Go get it," he ordered. "And be careful
      with it."

      Logan, who had been growling under his breath, did as
      he was told. A minute or two later he reappeared, the
      stinking, scrawny thing bundled up in his arms and
      held as gently as a newborn baby. Creed made a
      cynical noise. "We're done here," he told the old
      man, who was happily tucking away his ill-gotten gains
      in some hidden recess of his shirt.

      "Yes, of course," the man agreed immediately. "Do not
      let us keep you."

      They were hustled out of the camp as quick as winking,
      and up the ridge to get back to the house. Logan was
      cursing under his breath in a furious monotone, still
      holding the whateveritwas tenderly.

      Creed looked at it. It had batwing-like ears, drab
      brown fur, a monkey-like face and round, sad eyes.
      Which were looking mournfully at him. "It's probably
      dumb as a stump."

      "She," Logan growled. The little creature flinched,
      and he petted it soothingly. "She's a girl. You know
      that."

      "She, then." Creed shrugged. "You're the one who
      wanted her. You owe me eight hundred pounds."

      * * *

      "What is it?" Annie asked, trying to climb over her
      father's restraining arm to get a closer look at the
      new thing.

      "Don't go near it," Creed said sternly, pulling her
      back and tucking Clarice more firmly under his arm.
      "Neither of you. You don't know where it's been."

      "She's a she, not an it," Jonny said firmly, squatting
      beside the bedraggled little creature that was gazing
      up at him with sad, frightened eyes. "And the lot of
      you can piss off. You're scaring her." Everyone
      boggled at him, unused to such a forceful... or
      indeed, audible... tone from him. He frowned. "I
      mean it. Sod off."

      Creed wandered off with undisguised relief, taking
      Annie and Clarice with him. Geordi was right behind
      them, looking just as relieved. Marie and Logan had
      to be all but bodily pushed out, though. Jonny let
      Kyle take care of that, staying crouched and
      harmless-looking. When everyone else was gone, Kyle
      joined him.

      After giving her a few minutes to get used to them,
      Jono reached out a gentle hand to touch her head.
      "Hi," he said softly. "I'm Jonny." With his
      fledgling telepathy... barely more than empathy at
      this point... he reached out with as many comforting
      thoughts as he could muster.

      Something in the furry girl's head grabbed him and
      pulled him in so fast he didn't even have time to
      blink. For a sliver of an instant he was frightened,
      but then he felt Kyle's hand on his shoulder and
      relaxed, closing his eyes and letting himself be drawn
      in. It wasn't meant as a threat, he realized after a
      moment, just an unformed talent latching onto
      something like itself.

      ::Hello,:: he sent cautiously.

      #scaredconfusedcurious?#

      ::Aww, don't be scared,:: Jonny sent as comfortingly
      as he could, bolstering the thought with the
      comforting awareness of Kyle's presence, the surety
      that nothing bad would happen while he was around.

      #puzzledcurious?whois?#

      ::That's Kyle. 'E's...:: Jonny flailed around for a
      minute, then decided on the description Annie usually
      used. ::Hunting-brother. Like a littermate.::

      #(imageofpuppies)?#

      ::Something like that.:: Jonny risked stroking the
      matted fur again. It'd be nice and soft, if it was
      clean. ::He won't let anything bad happen to us.::

      Some of the fear faded. #bigscaryhairygrowly?#

      ::That's Creed and Logan,:: Jonny explained, carefully
      attaching mental pictures to the names. ::They're
      different from ordinary people, like us.:: He drew a
      couple of comparisons, making a picture of the girl in
      his mind and showing her the similarities she had with
      the other feral types. Creed and Kyle were both
      almost furry, and all four of them had the pointy
      teeth, and Annie even had slightly pointed ears.
      ::The big ones take care of us.:: He added a few
      pictures of hearty meals and warm beds.

      #interestcuriositycuriosityselfmonstersadashamed#

      ::Aww, no...:: Jonny petted her gently, scritching
      behind one batwing ear. She seemed to like that as
      much as Kyle and Annie did, rubbing her head up
      against his hand. ::You're not a monster. You're a
      mutant, like us. With nice fur.:: He showed her a
      mental picture of the Beast, with his blue fur and big
      teeth, adding a feeling of how nice Beast was, and how
      safe he made you feel.

      The new girl snuffled a little, and curled up with her
      head on his lap. #oldsmellynamedselfMeggan.#

      "Your name's Meggan, huh?" Jonny murmured aloud. He
      wasn't used to talking telepatically, and his head was
      starting to hurt. So was his chest, for some reason.
      Maybe he'd been concentrating too hard to breath
      properly. He petted her gently. "You're gonna be
      okay now, Meggan. This is a nice place."

      * * *

      That night, when Meggan had been tucked into bed after
      all the food she could safely be allowed to eat -
      she'd obviously been on a near-starvation diet until
      now - the rest of the group gathered around the
      kitchen table.

      "She sure didn't like the bath," Marie said, twiddling
      a strand of still damp hair. "I don't think she's
      ever had one." She wrinkled her nose. "She had
      *fleas*."

      "Poor kid," Logan said quietly. "Any idea how old she
      is?" he added, looking at Annie.

      Annie shrugged, resting her chin on her hand. "Sorry.
      If she was physiologically closer to baseline human,
      it'd be easier, but she's so little and scrawny and
      furry that it's hard to tell. She could be anywhere
      between Clarice's age and Marie's. Maybe younger."

      "What happened to 'eyes that see all'?" Logan jibed,
      still looking cranky.

      Annie made a face at him. "They do. I can tell you
      how tall she is, how much she weighs, her size to mass
      ratios... whatever. But I don't think even she knows
      how old she is, and she doesn't have enough of the
      normal physical indications for me to tell." She
      paused. "She hasn't been interfered with in any way,
      though. That much I could tell. Just neglected." Out
      of the corner of her eye, she saw Jonny nod a little.
      Everyone else was carefully not looking at him. Annie
      wasn't sure why pretending certain things hadn't
      happened was what you were supposed to do, but she
      went along with it. Obviously Jonny had been
      'interfered with', as Jean had insisted on putting it,
      while he was at the facility she'd found him in. And
      obviously this had caused some kind of trauma. Annie
      wasn't sure why - after all, *she* hadn't been
      traumatized - but she'd figured out that primate minds
      didn't work quite like feline ones. They seemed to
      have an awful lot of trouble letting go of the past
      and moving on.

      Everyone had gone quiet and awkward, so she just kept
      talking. "Jonny did pretty good convincing her to
      trust us," she said brightly. "She didn't bite even
      when Marie was brushing her fur, and that must have
      hurt. There were a lot of knots." The silence kept
      going, and she opted to throw in something nice and
      controversial. "So whose is she?"

      "What do you mean, whose is she?" That was Geordi,
      frowning in puzzlement. Geordi could always be
      counted not to understand her, which was nice, because
      it meant Annie got to talk for much longer without
      being told to shut up.

      "I mean whose is she?" she said patiently. "Me and
      Clarice are Dad's, and Marie is Logan's, and you're...
      well, you're kinda Logan's, I guess..." She gave him a
      dubious look. Marie giggled, and Geordi growled.
      "And Kyle and Jonny kind of belong to each other. So
      whose is Meggan?" She gave her father a hopeful look.
      "Ours?"

      "No," he said flatly. "The runt wanted her. He can
      have her."

      "Fine," Logan growled, giving his counterpart a nasty
      look. "Someone's gotta take care of the kid."

      "Yup." Creed grinned. "And it's you. You realize
      you're probably gonna have to toilet train her."

      "Don't be disgusting."

      "Just sayin'." Creed shrugged.

      Logan growled at him, pushing his chair away from the
      table and stalking off, presumably to check on the
      kid, who was tucked up on a couch in the den, since
      that was the one that had a fire. Annie thought that
      was nice. Her Dad came and checked on her and Clarice
      a couple of times a night to make sure nothing had
      eaten them, and she liked hearing him peek in.

      "We should go to bed too," Marie said, giving Creed a
      dirty look. "I doubt we're going to get to sleep in,
      even with a new kid around."

      "Damn right. The runt's gonna be busy, so I'm taking
      the rest of you for a nice, healthy run." Creed
      grinned broadly. "Get yer rest while you can."

      All the kids groaned pitifully, and headed for the
      dorm-rooms.

      Annie detoured to peek into the den. Logan was in
      there, crouched beside the couch, making soft little
      murmuring growls. Meggan was curled up in a little
      ball under the blanket, but her thin, furry face
      looked peaceful. Annie sneaked away and left them to
      bond.

      Behind her, Logan sighed softly, reaching out to tuck
      the blanket more securely around the kid's thin
      shoulders. Damnit, he was going to have to work on
      this disturbing new trend towards soft-heartedness.
      He couldn't keep finding cute, unwanted little girls
      with melting brown eyes who obviously needed him to
      take care of them because nobody understood what
      adorable little cubs they were and how much they
      needed to be loved and protected.

      He paused, ran that thought through his head again,
      and groaned. He was really going soft.

      But she was so small and helpless-looking. He
      smoothed the fur on her head. "Poor kid," he murmured
      softly. "You've had a rough run, huh?" Her eyes
      popped open when he touched her, but he kept talking,
      murmuring soothing nonsense while he stroked her fur,
      and after a while her eyes closed again. She butted
      her head into his hand a little, then dozed off while
      he was still struggling not to make the kind of girly
      cooing noises that would cripple his reputation
      forever.

      * * *

      "And this is?" Creed held up a small red and white
      object.

      "Fly agaric," the kids chorused dutifully.
      "A.-Muscaria-a-poisonous-fungus-containing-the-poisons-ibotenic-acid-and-muscimol-it-is-dangerous-to-all-species.

      "Very good." He held up a limp green shoot. "And
      this one?"

      "Bracken." A few eyes were glazing over, but so far
      they'd all seemed to recognize everything, even if
      some of them limped on the definitions.
      "Pteridium-aquilinium-it-contains-several-unpronouncable-toxins-is-very-commonly-available-in-most-cool-climates-and-is-especially-harmful-to-livestock-and-humans."

      "Good." Creed wasn't entirely sure how he'd acquired
      the extensive amount of botanical information he
      seemed to have, but it was damn convenient sometimes.
      It was amazing how many people these days would have a
      dozen bodyguards, extensive security systems
      surrounding them, telepaths scanning the minds of all
      who approached, then sit down to a big plate of
      well-cooked toadstools and bracken-fed steak.
      "Annnd... this one?"

      "Death-Angel-Mushrooms-Amanita-containing-toxalbumin-they-are-very-dangerous-despite-their-innocuous-appearance,"
      the kids droned.

      "That's them." He held up a small green leaf. "And
      this one?"

      There was a long pause. Creed grinned. "Oh, come on,
      you GOTTA know this one..."

      Everyone except Jonny looked blank. Jonny snickered.
      "It's baby spinach," he offered. "It was in the salad
      we had for lunch today." Jonny hadn't really eaten any
      of the salad... his appetite was still dropping off
      alarmingly, although he wasn't losing any weight
      yet... but at least he'd apparently looked at it.

      "Yup. The rest of you still need to work on that
      'powers of observation' thing." Creed put the leaf
      back in the box with all the other samples. Logan was
      going to give the furry brat a little lesson later.
      They still weren't entirely sure how much English she
      spoke or understood, but she seemed to be able to
      follow what people were saying. "I'm gonna put an
      identifiable, poisonous bit o' flora in dinner
      sometime in the next week, and don't think I'm going
      to tell you where it is before you've eaten enough to
      get good and sick." That, he believed, was Incentive
      To Learn, and he was sure it worked much better than
      giving them sissy star stickers or something equally
      useless.

      All the kids looked suitably intimidated. Creed
      beamed. This teaching stuff was not only easy, but
      fun, too. "Okay, everyone go take your shoes off."

      "Why?" Geordi asked cautiously. The kid was settling
      down a bit, lately. Getting to be just slightly less
      of a pain.

      "Because we're going for a barefoot run," he told
      them. They all groaned out variations of 'not AGAIN!'.
      Creed growled a little, to show he meant business.
      "Yer gonna thank me for this one day. Trust me, when
      you bust outta prison and gotta leave behind
      everything they gave ya to wear in case there's
      tracking devices or something in there and you're
      running through the jungle naked, you're going to be
      thinking 'Thank god my feet are tough enough that I
      can run away good and fast'!"

      There was another long pause. All of them were staring
      at him. "What?"

      "You sounded just like Annie then," Kyle said a little
      nervously.

      "Yeah." Marie nodded, looking just as nervous. "I
      think I liked it better when you were mean and
      taciturn."

      Creed blinked.

      He looked at his daughter, who blinked right back at
      him, her rather prominent nose wrinkled with
      puzzlement. Then she grinned. "I like us being
      alike."

      He felt his mouth curl up in something approaching a
      genuine smile. "Me too," he admitted.

      "Oh, god," Geordi groaned. "Hairy nature-loving
      bonding. Someone bury me in cheeseburgers and leave me
      to die."

      Creed growled and grinned. "I'll leave you to die in a
      minute, boy. Shoes off, all of you, and leave 'em in
      the cabin. It looks like rain."

      Geordi groaned even more pitifully. "We have to run
      in the rain?"

      "One more complaint outta you, boy, and you'll be
      running naked in the rain. Move!"

      * * *

      "They're too self conscious," Creed said firmly. "I
      still think we should get 'em used to occasional
      nudity."

      Logan looked a bit scandalized. "I dunno if that's a
      good idea. They're adolescents, they might..."

      "Might what?" Creed said bluntly. "Marie's
      untouchable, and the other three are still just kids.
      They ain't gonna get up to anything."

      "Might be traumatized or something, is what I was
      going to say." Logan took a swig of his beer. "They
      got a whole body image thing going on with it."

      "That's why we gotta get 'em used to it now." Creed
      drained his own beer, and reached for another. "You
      know they're gonna wind up strapped down naked on an
      exam table sooner or later. Might as well prepare 'em
      as much as we can."

      They both stared down at the table. Wood. Stains.
      Big, clawed hands. Creed flexed them absently,
      watching the claws slide in and out.

      "You're right," Logan agreed quietly, tonelessly.
      "Bound to happen." Creed could hear the
      hackle-raising tension in his voice. He'd made a
      guess, based on his own hazy memories of the Weapon X
      program, and it'd obviously beein right on the money.
      Logan had regular nightmares, even now, and Creed was
      banking that it had something to do with the claws.
      By the reaction, being strapped down naked on an exam
      table wasn't something the runt remembered fondly.

      "We ain't doing them any favours pandering to them."
      Creed pushed the advantage while he had it, doing his
      best to make his rough voice sound reasonable and
      patient. "We gotta put 'em through it now, while
      they're safe and know it's not gonna go on forever.
      Otherwise they'll break when it's for real."

      "I know." Logan was still looking down at the table,
      drawing a repetitive little pattern in a small puddle
      of spilled beer. "What do you suggest?"

      That was a good step forward. "Getting 'em used to
      having to fight and run naked, for a start," he said,
      sipping the new beer slowly. "Once they can hack
      that, the other stuff won't be so bad." By 'the other
      stuff' he meant the subtle games of humiliation and
      disempowerment that were an integral part of long-term
      prisonerhood. Logan nodded, and Creed went on. "They
      ain't great with the hardware yet, but they'll
      improve. They mostly just need practice now. We need
      to make 'em practice more. Mostly, though, we need to
      work on the other stuff. How to get th' information
      you need. How to work a decent escape. When to run,
      when to go to ground." He paused for a long few
      minutes. "I dunno if it's possible to teach that
      stuff. But I guess we should try."

      "Yeah."

      "Yeah." It was weird how easily this was all coming
      to him. Teaching the cubs was kinda fun. There was
      something about having lots of wisdom to impart that
      made him feel clever and important. He wasn't used to
      that, but he liked it.

      Then both men frowned and tilted their heads. That
      muffled thud and scuffle didn't sound like the usual
      sleep-twitches or nightmares.

      There was a thump, and the click of a door opening.
      Then another door.

      "DAD!!!" Annie yelled, panic clear in her voice. "DAD,
      COME QUICK!"

      (end part three)




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