Fanfic The Ultimate Prey PG16 2/2
- CHAPTER FIVE
Looking back on it, Logan realized he expected to come
upon Beast at every turn. Sure, Hank had been on the
run a whole day, and though not clumsy by any means,
he was big, too big to travel quickly through the rain
forest's thick growth. Evidence of his struggle was
everywhere�plants beaten down, trampled, crushed,
branches bent or broken, torn-off leaves carpeting the
flattened moss, wisps of blue fur decorating the
foliage. Hank's route was as clear as if it had
Stupid, maybe, to follow that path of destruction.
Logan weighed the pros and cons even as he sprinted
down the trail. Abandoning this bulldozed highway to
beat through the brush on his own might be safer, but
it would be a hell of a lot slower. And if he met up
with Hank like he hoped, all the better. Together they
could clear out that cesspool of scumbags in no time
flat. Besides, the traces of his own passage over the
moss were all but lost in Beast's general mishmash. So
he kept on as he had started and soon saw Hank's
methodical logic at work.
Beast was squaring a circle. Ignoring all the minor
contours of the island's coast which would rack up
miles of travel if followed, he instead was moving in
a straight line from promontory to promontory. Keeping
the water to his right he had gone inland some little
distance, his guide the light filtering through the
trees at the shore. For every time that light dimmed
the path turned seaward and came out on a headland
allowing a clear, sweeping view of cliff, or cove, or
bay. Then the trail went inland once more and straight
on to the next distant cape.
Dogging Hank's track, Logan had in this manner looked
down on a bay and a pretty, isolated little cove, both
empty of life and, more importantly, empty of boats. A
third time he gained close to an hour by not taking
the turnout, merely casting ahead until he came to
Hank's return trail. Now the trammelled path again
veered right but Logan continued to forge through the
shrubbery, scanning the terrain for mutilated
vegetation, the mark of the Beast. He found nothing.
Disturbances in the foliage, yes, and made by
something fairly large. He'd say deer, for he'd come
across their droppings several times, except the moss
bore no imprints of sharp hooves, only scuffed,
blurred depressions. On either side of the markings
were parallel gouges like ski tracks set wide apart.
He puzzled over those, uneasy that he could not put
name to what had made them. But, in any case, Hank had
not come this way. Had Beast finally discovered the
boat? Logan doubled back, sprinted up the turnoff.
What he spotted first was the blood.
A spray of dried blood like rusty red berries dotted a
broad leaf, glaringly brilliant amid all the green. He
stared at the droplets a moment, motionless, the
turmoil in his head settling into a single thought.
Not Hank's. Couldn't be Hank's. The fur ball was too
big, too strong. This must have happened after he had
already passed by this point. One of the island's
carnivores had a lucky catch, that was all. He'd seen
traces of fox and badger, raccoon. But for the blood
to spurt out that way . . . The prey had to have been
almost above the leaf�and the leaf was thigh-high. A
Against his will, his eyes travelled from leaf to
ground and there lay the answer. Earth torn up, plants
crushed and wilting, no clear prints but much
flattened ground. A little puddle of blood gone sticky
and black with flies. A snarl of blue fur hung limp
from a twig.
He took a deep breath, another, his heart pounding so
hard he could hear it drumming in his ears. Beast was
shedding all over the whole damn forest but this was
not Hank's blood. NOT! But Logan was already plunging
ahead, reading sign. Whoever� Whatever had been
attacked here, had not been killed. The swath of
levelled vegetation attested to that. The chase,
torturous, twisted . . . The pursuit, direct and
effective. Then�another patch of churned-up dirt, more
blood, more shreds of fur. The impression of a heavy
mass still visible in the revealing moss.
Logan swallowed. Okay. Hank had been wounded. Caught.
The blurred markings he'd seen earlier by the turnoff
were those of the hunters. There was no body here.
Beast had been carried away. The gouges he'd puzzled
over were those of a travois, an Indian litter dragged
on the ground. Two nearby birch trees, their
hacked-off stumps still bleeding clear sap, had
provided the transportation. Logan didn't remember
sinking to his knees, but now he ran unsteady fingers
down that depression in the moss, pulled a wisp of
blue fur off a prickly bush and sniffed it. Burnt
The rumble of breaking waves at some point impinged on
his ears, brought him to his feet. With Hank
incapacitated it was up to him to find the fucking
boat and get them all the hell off this island! His
lips pulled back in a snarl, he ran, following the
direction Hank would have taken had he been able.
The promontory looked out on an expanse of cracked and
fissured cliff that stretched off in the distance to a
dim, blue headland. No boats. He stared at the
churning water, at the regular explosions of spray as
waves struck the cliff's sheer rock wall. But what he
saw was Hank in his lab, Hank with the kids, Hank
lighting up like the Fourth of July whenever there was
something new to analyse, investigate. It was the
continual roar of crashing surf that covered the
Something made him turn, but it was neither scent nor
sound, for the sea wind's constant beat at face and
ears brought him only salt, thunder. No, some spark
buried in mankind's primitive ape brain, a nameless
vestige for intuitive self-preservation, caused him to
spin about. Too late. He didn't even have time to pop
his claws before a hammer blow struck him in the
chest. He staggered back, one step, two, air all but
driven from his lungs, and gaped first at a smiling
Kiefer lowering a crossbow, then focused on the steel
shaft protruding from his flesh.
At the sight of that short, thick spear all the
fear-born rage in Logan's being blasted forth in a
roar. He yanked out the bolt in a spurt of blood,
scarcely feeling the pain in an adrenaline surge, and
clenched the shaft ready to stab down. Claws sprang
from the other hand, glittering, thirsty. His lips
curled back in a carnivore's contemptuous smile at the
shocked horror on the hunter's face and he leaped in
attack. But the loose rubble beneath Logan's feet
shifted at his sudden movement. He skidded, fell to
his knees, sliding backwards even as a second quarrel
whirred above his head and his legs slipped over the
edge of the cliff. Scrabbling for a hold, claws and
steel shaft struck sparks from the stone. The next
instant the blades clove empty air.
The fall was endless and far too quick. Arms and legs
flailing in what on land would have been a run, he
plunged into frigid green water which bruited him
about like a child's toy, pulling him under only to
toss him up again. The deafening crash of waves on the
surface muted to an ominous grumble beneath. The
current whirled him about, played with him, and
finally with a powerful surge drove him towards the
cliff. Even under water Logan felt the speed of that
thrust hurtling him into the wall of rock.
Instinctively, he curled into a ball, made himself as
small an object as possible. His hip struck something
solid, numbing that whole side. The shock caused him
to open his mouth and swallow sea. Stone scraped skin
off his back; a blow to his shoulder spun him around.
His lungs burned for lack of air and he struggled
futilely for the surface but didn't know which way to
go for the green water had suddenly turned black. At
last, tired of its plaything, the ocean spit him out
on a little shelf of sand and withdrew. He hacked out
water and lightening immediately lanced his chest. A
scream, his scream, still echoing in his ears, the
dark swooped down to claim him.
Cold, so cold. Shivering, Logan drew into a knot, and
that action caused the encroaching tide to splash into
his mouth. He choked, coughed, automatically struggled
in a worm's progress over gritty sand to escape both
the freezing water and the throbbing ache in his chest
that the coughing awoke. The exertion at last roused
him from his stupor.
Logan rolled onto his back and looked out on a
blackness so intense it seemed to have substance.
Blind! His sharp gasp of panic was answered by an
equally sharp pain. No, not blind, but hurt, somehow .
. . Squeezing his lids tightly shut against that
nothingness, he took air in shallow gulps as he sorted
through a jumble of impressions and events, trying to
understand where he was and why. The image of the
hunter flashed in his mind. Bastard hit him with
something. Eyes still closed, a hand groped its way
across his chest, woke a thrumming at its touch.
Yeah, it was all coming back in pathetic detail.
Certain death by crossbow, then certain death by
falling off the damn cliff, then death by drowning . .
. It was as if some sadistic, little god had a bet
going on how many ways he could die. With great care
Logan levered himself to sit upright against a wall of
rock and peered out at his surroundings.
At first he could distinguish nothing in the
smothering dark, but little by little his eyesight
adjusted and he made out a dim finger of light which
in fits and starts illuminated his confines. The
reflected light came from the water that licked at the
ribbon of dark sand on which he found himself. He was
in some little cleft in the rocks, swept there by the
current through the undersea opening to this little
crack in the cliff. The split slanted upwards and the
only reason he lived was thanks to a tiny pocket of
air caught by the stone.
The sight of the water made his throat convulse in a
swallow. Now the malevolent little god was putting his
money on death by thirst, and if that didn't pan out,
there was always death by starvation. Logan could see
no escape from either of those options or from the
cave itself. The adamantium made his body so heavy
that swimming was not something he did by choice, and
only when circumstances demanded it did he grudgingly
take to calm and shallow waters. Hardly the case here.
Besides, say he did make it though the sea tunnel, he
still must swim up to the surface and the turbulence
there was likely to smash him on the rocks. No way he
could escape such a fate twice. But even if the dice
were thrown in his favour, there was still the climb
up the cliff face. Sure, he'd clawed his way up part
of the Statue of Liberty, but the rock wall here was
five, six times that height.
Morose, he stared at the lapping wavelets washing the
strip of sand, belatedly realized that they were
methodically erasing the gouges he'd made dragging
himself out of the water. Yup. His lucky day. He
wouldn't die of thirst after all. High tide was coming
in. The sea would get him first.
Logan stood, backed away from the icy water when
something sharp struck his foot. Swearing, he bent to
snatch up the object and fling it at the ocean.
Something hard and cold and heavy met his groping
fingers. The bolt from the crossbow. He'd clutched it
all through the fall from the cliff and even when the
sea swept him here. He gripped the shaft to him now.
Damn! One chance. Give him just one chance to drive
this steel stake in that bastard's heart and the
miserable little god could deal Logan whatever
horrible death its twisted mind could conjure.
It looked like the god wasn't going to take him up on
the offer. The tide rose higher and higher, forcing
Logan to finally wedge himself up against the cave's
pitched ceiling. It wasn't high enough. Logan turned
his face into the rock to escape the icy spray and
from a fissure in the stone there came to him an
odour. Burnt roses.
How long it took to claw an opening from that crack
Logan never knew. The tide had all but reached its
peak before the rotted stone of a sudden broke away to
leave a gaping hole. He pulled himself up and through,
clung panting a moment to the rock not believing his
good fortune that he had escaped drowning. Then,
seeing what awaited him, he grimaced. The sadistic
little god had particularly nasty end in mind, for
Logan found himself confronted by a labyrinth.
All along the coastline of the Pacific Northwest rise
mountains, hills, islands of glacial rubble; gigantic
boulders left behind in tumbled heaps when the
retreating ice lost its hold. This island was just
such a moraine of rock and stone and dirt. On its
upper surface there was life, both plant and animal.
But beneath, the sterile, broken bones of the island
revealed its prehistoric origin.
Logan squirmed, clambered, crawled among slabs of rock
jumbled one against the other. It was a rat's maze of
crevices and gaps, a torturous, twisting route over,
under, between. And now that the dim illumination of
the water was left far behind, he must pick his way
though it by feel. He could stumble blindly through
this puzzle, suffer thirst, go yammering, slavering
mad, until he finally met his death�were it not for
the smell of roses. He followed that sweet thread of
fragrance, backtracking countless times to pick it up
again. His hands were his eyes, his nose the guide.
The roses led him up, around, through, and up and up
again until at last he squeezed between two rocks and
found himself in a natural crevice, a narrower version
of the tunnel which backed the animal cages. Like that
other passageway, the muted sound of beating surf told
Logan this shaft also had a opening to the sea, but
here Hank's distinctive perfume permeated the tiny
He must have circled back around to the house, he
realized. Part of the rock here had been hacked away,
roughly shaped and widened to serve as a storeroom.
Light filtering through an air vent set high in a
steel door revealed a built-in freezer as well as
racks holding canned foods and crates of supplies.
Logan snatched a couple of cans from the shelf, slit
off the tops with a claw and downed the contents
without really tasting what he swallowed. He had to
look at the labels afterwards to see what he'd eaten.
Green peas. Chicken noodle soup. The liquid eased his
thirst but didn't satisfy his hunger. The rabbit had
been many hours ago and his internal clock said that
it was well after dusk. Hank was on the other side of
that door. But if he was going to be of any help to
Beast he needed food. With more deliberation he chose
a large can of stew and a few minutes later gently
pushed down the handle of the door. It opened with a
soft click and he slipped inside.
His back against the door and hidden on one side by a
storage cabinet, he tested the room with his senses.
No odour other than Hank's and a pervasive medicinal
stink. No sound but the ticking of a wall clock�1 a.m.
It was much later than he thought. He must have been
unconscious two, three hours after he was washed into
the cave. When he was weak or badly injured�or
both�healing put him out like a light. And then who
knows how long he'd been wandering through the twists
and turns of that 'rock garden' from hell. He peered
around the cabinet. No movement. Just a mound on a
Why he went to that table he couldn't say. Some
instinct must have known what the sheet concealed. He
lifted the cloth and for a few blissful moments did
not understand the significance of that lump of raw
meat. Bled and gutted it looked like prime beef with
little fat. No . . . Not beef, the shape was wrong. He
frowned, puzzled, suddenly felt eyes on him and
glanced up. Hank was staring at him. Hank's head was
staring at him!
Logan choked back a cry of horror, fought the surge of
revulsion that rose in his throat. Hank�skinned,
decapitated. A sweep of the room revealed chaos,
insanity. The head in a jar of liquid, beside it a
carved likeness. Propped in a corner a plaster cast of
the body. The soft blue fur floating in a vat. On a
table an array of glass eyes . . . It was his
nightmares come to haunt him! Cutting, torture� He
recoiled, slipped and fell on the floor.
Oddly, it was the calm sanity of Hank's steady gaze
that touched off the berserker madness in Logan. This
cannot be! He sprang to his feet, wrath and rage held
tightly coiled by a hair trigger, ready to be
unleashed at the first pretext. The taxidermist now
entering the room with a steaming cup of coffee never
knew what hit him.
Wolverine hurtled through the lower levels leaving two
guards slashed to ribbons dying in his wake. He hardly
saw them when they confronted him, simply dealt out
death, as one would swat a fly. Burning in his brain
was the image of the jagter, the hunter. Kiefer. That
was his prey, all else was impediment. He came to a
row of cages. Feral mind spoke to feral mind and claws
ripped through bars as he ran. Beyond, two figures,
also held prisoner. Wolverine freed them as well with
lightening snikts. Anything held captive must be
released. As he was now released to kill and kill and
Shouts, cries, beat dimly at his ears. Louder but no
more important were the roars and snarls of his
brothers as they fed. Something bit him in the arm. A
stinging, buzzing bee. Claws swept through the metal
rod that sent it, chopped in half the creature who
would stop him. He went up and up, came to an open
place, scuttled hunched, sniffing for that single
scent among the maze of others. Found it fresh, the
stink of fear not fully cloaking the jagter's stench
of blood and ordure. With a howl of savage joy
Wolverine bounded up the stairs.
Room after room he sped through, the darkness no
barrier to his sight, his sense of smell, then� Shock
jerked him to a stop like a noose about the neck. The
eyes . . . Everywhere eyes! The eyes of beasts�mute,
demanding. Heads hanging from walls. Vengeance, they
whispered in his brain. Vengeance! He raised a fist of
claws in salute. A promise. A vow. And ran ahead.
The next room� Armed men awaiting him, standing,
crouching, preparing to leap! Almost he set himself to
attack then understood. They were frozen so in death.
Vengeance. The lifeless eyes glittered with madness.
His own eyes likewise glittered; again he raised a
fist of claws. Vengeance! he vowed, and ran on.
Through the next door�horror of horrors! A wax works
of freaks. Men. Women. Children. Wings, scales, fangs,
tentacles�the abnormalities were infinite, repulsive,
beautiful. A little girl with emerald/amethyst eyes,
only that to mark her different, mutant, prey.
Vengeance, she begged. VENGEANCE!
Wolverine heard the soft sweep of flesh across metal,
sensed the squeeze of trigger. He dropped to the floor
the instant before the rifle spat thunder and
lightening, splintering the wall. In one smooth motion
he rolled upright, already leaping to attack.
The hunter was quick and clever. The barrel of the
rifle struck Wolverine's head while a knife drew a
line of red across his chest. Claws shot out, severing
the knife hand and the fist fell, the weapon still in
its grip. The hunter shrieked, dropped the rifle to
seize his pulsing wrist as he ran for the far door.
Wolverine's laugh was more a baying as he chased
behind. He loped, ending on all fours as he casually
reached out, swiped off a lagging foot. The man fell,
man no longer, now helpless prey. He wept, screamed,
writhing on the floor, the carpet drinking his blood.
Jagter was a threat no more but Wolverine had just
begun. Vengeance dinned in his ears. The lifelike
dead, obscene ghouls, trophies�beasts, men,
mutants�all hovered about as with a surgeon's
fastidious skill claws dismembered the living prey.
The jerking legs in four quick cuts, the thrashing
arms in four sharp slashes. Now only the twisting,
mewling head remained.
The claws slid home and Wolverine grabbed a handful of
golden hair, sticky with sweat and blood, dragged the
twitching, bleeding carcass to a certain spot. The
prey's cries had become raspy croakings. Maddened by
pain and shock it was some minutes before the creature
saw what Wolverine held, understood what he would do.
The yellow eyes flickered, focused on the steel shaft,
just before it was driven into his heart.
The predator lopped off the head to finish the job,
held it spiked upon his claws and pranced to the
window, howling his victory to the full moon. The
pitiful torso remained nailed to the floor, a
sacrifice at the feet of the child with
emerald/amethyst eyes. In his cry of savage exultation
Wolverine did not hear the intruder nor the explosion
of the shot, only the crash of glass as he was
propelled through the window.
The moon shattered in a thousand shards.
Jan ran to the broken window but the thick foliage
below hid the mutant's body. The baster! The BASTER!
At last he turned and slowly approached what remained
of Kiefer, his boet. He wept as with trembling hands
he lifted the head from where it had been dropped,
gathered the scattered parts of his friend, his salt
tears mingling with the salty red blood.
How could this have happened? He'd witnessed with his
own eyes the hunter's perfect shot with the crossbow,
the dying mutant's fall into the icy sea. At dinner
Kiefer had been irate and discontent that the body had
been lost. The claws, he said, his collection must
have those claws! And Jan had privately promised
himself that in the morning he would have the men
search the shoreline, drag the waters. And then
The first alarm had come from the camera in the animal
room, the creatures loose and on the hunt. And the
remaining two mutants free as well. Fire, blasted
walls, floors slicked with ice, men frozen in place .
. . From the security control room he'd struggled to
organized the guards, have them contain the animals,
put down the mutants, but screen after screen showed
carnage, confusion. At last by remote he opened the
outer doors, turned off the electric fence and had the
gates slide apart. Let the beasts escape! They could
not get far, this was an island after all. Let the
mutants go as well. No escape for them either, for the
boat and the helicopter would remain secure. And then
the sudden, awful thought�where was the hunter during
all this mayhem? Too late did he think to look at the
screens of the upper levels.
"I failed you, boet. It is my fault. I am to blame."
And Jan spoke true. Was it not he who had proposed
they hunt mutants? And for more than a year they had
been successful, Jan sniffing them out, tracking them
down, Kiefer making the kill. 'Mutant serial killer'
the newspapers called him. Kiefer had laughed, kept
the clippings in his bedroom�more trophies.
For Jan had no difficulty seeking out the abnormal. He
need only look within himself. An empath, he sensed
feelings, emotions. But not of people, only of beasts
and man/beasts�mutants. Did that not mean he was a
monstrous freak as well?
Should Kiefer realize Jan was defective� Nein, the man
never knew. Kiefer wanted companionship, admiration,
worship. Jan understood this, was eager to comply.
Like a loyal dog, he had attached himself to the
hunter. He was safe, hidden, while he played the
follower, the tracker. But his beastly self he could
never completely push aside. He must use his cursed
wrongness to track down prey. With the hunter's every
kill, Jan felt a bit of the noxious brute within
himself die as well. And he rejoiced.
As to mutants Jan perceived their aberrations as well
as their emotions. He had felt intuitively that the
boy made ice and cold. However, he kept silent or
Kiefer would ask how he knew. Of the joke maker, he
sensed only that the mutant healed quickly. But to
recover from the quarrel of a crossbow? Impossible!
Yet lying here on the gory rug was proof of both the
baster's survival and his revenge. And from what hell
had come those vokken claws?
Jan rose and retrieved his rifle. The mutie heals,
hey? If the gods of the hunt are with me, I shall kill
him again and again and again! At the door he turned,
addressed the pieced-together corpse. "I go to fetch
your trophy, boet. I shall lay that baster at your
Outside it was already growing light, the early
pre-dawn glow of summer in the northwest. The moon
looked like a huge blind eye in a pale face. Jan
slipped among the bushes, rifle at the ready, and at
last stood beneath the broken window. There was no
body. Glass crunched and snapped under his boots as he
searched for and finally found an erratic blood spoor
leading away from the house.
He could have sworn his shot went true, but in the
dark . . . No matter. By some miracle, the mutie had
survived the bullet, the glass, the fall. The trail of
blood was proof of that, but more so the throbbing
agony that now besieged Jan's senses testified that
the baster still drew breath. But he was hurt, hurt
deep, hurt bad. Jan gritted his teeth in a savage grin
as the lightening stabs of pain increased in strength
and frequency the closer he came to the prey.
However, as he tracked the wounded beast through the
forest, inexplicably the spots of blood, the waves of
torment, grew less frequent. Twice must Jan halt and
cast about, a compass needle that searched out
suffering. Then he continued on in a new direction to
be soon rewarded by a drop of red. But for some time
he had seen no sign and when he quested with his
senses the anguish had lessened to the point where it
had become woven into the forest's web of life and
death. He could pick up at least three mortal dramas
nearby of hunter/hunted, predator/prey, ferocity and
fear, fright and pain. But which was his prey? Too
late he understood that he was now prey.
From the tree overhead dropped a creature no longer
man, claws set to stab, teeth ready to rend. With a
cry of horror and rage Jan stumbled back, raised his
rifle. A flashing claw sheared through his weapon,
another slashed open his arm. But the tracker's other
hand had already launched a knife which lodged in the
brute's shoulder. The mutant howled, pawing at the
steel while the tracker fled.
The 'copter's back at the house! The boat is closer!
Jan's thoughts raced faster than his feet as he
swerved to plunge downhill among the trees, taking
great bounding leaps at the risk of breaking an ankle,
a leg. With Kiefer dead there was nothing, no one, to
hold him here. Let the rest look out for themselves!
Between the fronds of the evergreens he saw the glint
of water and pushed his pace.
Logan opened his eyes to see sunlight glinting through
the evergreens. With a groan he rolled over and got to
his feet. The Bowie knife lay where he had dropped it
after yanking it out of his flesh. Damn, after this
little vacation he needed a vacation! He picked up the
knife and slipped it through the belt loops of his
jeans which had earlier carried the quarrel from the
crossbow. His mind briefly touched what had become of
that steel shaft, shied away in horror. Weighting him
was a heavy, terrifying impression of being caught in
a red/black nightmare, doing things he didn't want to
remember in the sane light of day. With almost
physical effort he pushed the images away. For the
time being, at least. They'd haunt him again in his
dreams, they always did.
He studied the ground, picked up the sign immediately
and was off tracking the tracker. Once he realized Jan
was heading downhill he sniffed for him. If he knew
where the bastard was now he could make for him
directly. The early morning breeze obligingly brought
him the distinctive odour of sour milk and bloody
meat. Logan instantly veered left in a straight
diagonal that would bring him to the water.
Jan was filling the tank of a sleek motorboat when
Logan burst out of the trees and pounded down the
dock. The man spun around at the noise, swung the fuel
can catching Logan on the side. Claws slashed out, cut
the container in two. Stinging liquid splashed in
Logan's eyes and he staggered back, blinded, rubbing
futilely at the burning. The next instant he felt the
sheared metal edge of the can rip across his abdomen.
Logan roared and charged, his attack weakened by
tearing eyes, his strength flagging from shock and
loss of blood. A blurred shape loomed before him. He
caught Jan in his arms, trying to squeeze the life out
of the man, even as he felt his own life draining
away. They wrestled, crashed to the dock, Logan on
top, his hands now clutching the other's throat even
as Jan attempted to wrap a length of rope around
Logan's neck. Still locked together they rolled and
fell into the frigid water.
The icy jolt numbed Logan's pain, cleared his eyes
enough to see a dark coil gracefully descending
through the water. What the . . . ? Jan jerked on the
drifting anchor rope. The heavy steel hook fell off
the dock with a muted splash and sank past the
opponents into the dark. Before Logan realized what
was happening Jan had looped the trailing rope again
and again around his enemy's throat and body and
pulled himself free to swim upward while Logan was
inexorably drawn down, arms pinned to his sides.
His struggles entangled him all the more and the panic
rising in Logan's breast threatened to empty his lungs
of air in one last futile scream. Somehow he must cut
the ropes but his arms were bound fast. He had to make
the bindings slack and the only way to do that was to
It was the hardest thing he'd ever done, rolling over,
legs and feet propelling him away from light and air.
The cold was so intense the water seared his flesh. He
couldn't feel his legs anymore, assumed they were
still doing their job because it got darker and darker
and his lungs shrieked. All the while he worked his
arms. The coil around his neck loosened, slipped off,
then all the loops suddenly uncurled and he writhed
free to kick and kick and kick upwards.
Above he saw churning water. The bastard was getting
away! He kicked furiously, propelling himself forward,
aiming for the dark shadow of the hull. He'd thought
to grab the rail, drag himself over the side. But he
wasn't going to make it. As the boat moved off he
reached out. Claws ripped open the fiberglass keel.
The boat listed, took on water and Logan clambered on
board. It was short, bloody work after that. Both boat
and tracker were dead in the water by the time Logan
hauled himself up on the dock and collapsed.
Bobby found him there later. "You okay?"
Logan opened his eyes. "Yeah. Just sunbathing."
"Sun's not out. It's cloudy."
He squinted at the sky. The kid was right. It was
broad graylight. With a groan he got to his feet.
"What's happening up at the house?"
"Mr. Summers's got everybody jammed in one of the
animal cells. Everybody that's still alive," he
mumbled and looked away, unable to meet Logan's eye.
"We f-found Dr. McCoy . . . Mr. Summers's there with
him now," he added in a rush. "He wants you call
Professor Xavier, have him send out the Blackbird. He
says the helicopter here would take too long and . . .
and Dr. McCoy . . . "
"Yeah. Yeah, I understand. I'll take care of it. You
go get yourself something to eat."
"I- I'm not hungry."
Telephone receiver in one hand, with the other Logan
snatched Ulrich up by the collar, shook him like a dog
shakes a rat. "Where are we, you little fuck? What's
the name of this damn place?"
"Canada. B-British Colombia," Ulrich mumbled around
broken teeth and torn lips. "The Straits of Juan de
"The place, shit for brains! What's the name of this
"W-wolverine. It's Wolverine Island."
Logan scowled at him with disbelief, threw him back on
From the forest edge the panther watched the huge
black bird speed across the sky, its hiss of wind
growing fainter and fainter until once more all that
could be heard was the sighing of trees and the clap
of wave against rock. The big cat licked clean a paw
and settled in a patch of sun for a nap. Life was
good. He had fed well.
"What are these?" asked Rogue, bringing a load of
clean towels into Logan's room.
He glanced at the objects in question carelessly
tossed on the bed. One was a shock of silky,
sun-bleached, yellow strands, the other a scrub brush
of stiff, white bristles. With a sniff he turned his
back on the scalps, muttered over his shoulder,
*Boet: Afrikaans meaning a brother or less directly
in slang a comrade or close
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