Chapter 1: Hunter/Prey Part One: The Hunter
"I am the best there is at what I do, and as everyone seems to take notice; what I do isn’t nice, or pretty for that matter….. I am an X-man, a mutant….. The people that I continue to protect, they hate and even fear me; and my abilities. A fact that these days matters very little in concern to my ongoing existence…..
Today, I am alive…. Alone I wander, a man searching for answers; I am traversing the very elements of nature’s torment that at one time in the past, had sought to take me….. Today, tracking my target on this frozen tundra of ice and of snow; I am free….. These Canadian forests this time of year, hold many dangers known, and others unseen…..
It is early December, winter’s abominable chill lingers upon the early morning winds. Warnings of hazardous blizzards have risen to strike this region by early evening, but the weather it never really seems to bother me…..
As everybody I know could relate: I am- the best there is at what I do, or so this is what I had thought….. Life, it has a funny way of letting you know that you are not alone in such a standing, on a ranking of adversity….. Sometimes, the hunter; they can quickly become the prey…..
My name is Logan….. I have returned here, on a mission of seeking. My past, it still holds many mysteries….. My friends closest to me and my enemies; they know me as being: The Wolverine….. Though I am different than most in ways obviously recognized by my abilities; today I am a man challenging the elements. The smell of nature, it comforts my soul…... Here among these trees, tracking my prey within these Canadian woods; I am freer than I ever could be…..
In the skies above, I catch sight of a shooting star out of the corner of my right eye…….. I ignore the sighting….... Wishes, these are nothing but dwellings of falsified hopes; intent on confusing reality. Breathing in the winter air once again, I turn back…... The tracks, they have run cold…... Hunger begins to gnaw at me….. Too bad that my factors of extraordinary healing; cannot keep me from going hungry. It is time to return to my cabin…..
This was when I felt the impact….. The ground quaked….. I had temporarily lost my footing, but my agility it still never ceases to amaze even me….. I quickly recover, and I look ahead to the north….. An arrogance on my part I suppose….. Something had crashed down in the distance….. This shooting star, it must be something worth looking into. I am only human after all, and we all make mistakes…..
A strange and unfamiliar scent now carried upon the Canadian winds. This scent, it was alien to me….... Thoughts of Xenomorphic Brood Entities, play on my mind…... Thoughts of contacting my team, these become a nagging adverse to my freedom by necessity….... Breakfast, it will have to wait……. Time to go to work…..”
DEPARTMENT K, THE FACILITY ONTARIO, CANADA
“Earth-fall has been confirmed…..”
“Checking…........ Signature- confirmed…….... U.E.O. (UINIDENTIFIED EXTRATERRESTRIAL OBJECT), matches the signature of U.E.O. X…..”
“Civil defense response?”
“Confirmed….. SHIELD has initiated reserve protocols…..”
“Not my concern….. Second class Avengers, nothing more…..”
“Commander Stryker….. We have conformation of a Weapon-X sighting in the vicinity…..”
Stryker was silent for many minutes; the aging man speaking aloud.
“Logan….... Out yet again looking for me I presume…... Excellent…... You may give these E.B.E hunters, these Predators; a challenge the likes they have never seen…..”
“Sir, Your son- William…..”
“Yes, what of him?”
“He is being called on by S.H.I.E.L.D…..”
“S.H.I.E.L.D wants to control technology….….. These beings, they are the best of hunters; a species that could provide us with new subjects for experimentation…..”
“Your orders sir?”
“Implement Sentinel Omega protocols…..”
“Sir, are you sure?”
“Prepare Nimrod for activation, and never question my orders again…..”
“We cannot allow S.H.I.E.L.D to control these alien technologies, and this powerful new species; it will be controlled by me…..”
SHIELD HELICARRIER SOMEWHERE OVER MANHATTEN
Brandon Sharpe avoided direct contact with the directors’ one eye. Nick Fury was silent. A quiet that can be a little unnerving to the young, and a little overbearing to the inexperienced. Fury's way at gauging the readiness of many new recruits. Brandon, he began to sweat. The stern look upon the directors’ face of serious attitude remained. Thoughts of the other recruits, referring to SHIELD’S director and to his “evil-eye”, this was no great help to Brandon's rising challenge of confronting his own nervousness.
“Hey you, Avenger….. Give the old man a little respect….. You are going to give your peers a bad name…..”
Nick Fury shook his head in disbelief; as he turned to look upon the new arrival.
“What are you doing in Manhatten? I would have thought Alpha Flight would have kept a better leash on you…..”
“Old sour-puss…. Quit giving the kid the eye….. Who else are we waiting for?”
“What idiot put you on the list of Avengers reserves?”
“Stark of course…..”
“Yeah, that figures….. You two get acquainted….. Debriefing is at 1300 hours…..”
“Aye, aye- captain! We’ll all assemble at 1:00, or was that 2:00…….……... No, wait one minutethat must be 3:00, right…..”
Nick Fury shook his head; the veteran soldier mumbling something about kids, as he took an abrupt leave of the wit- rising.
SHIELD HELICARRIER, MANHATTEN
“In Val Verde; a Central American Jungle, the year of 1987, an elite special forces team- engaged a hostile, alien predator….. Their mission, it was- a simple task: to rescue hostages- from guerillas, of the- territory. Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, was in command of the operation- on military jurisdiction….. This
Non-terrestrial Biological Entity, had been- unlike anything ever before seen; or so- this is what: had been originally been believed…..”
SHIELD specialist- on NBE’s, Agent Phillip Coulson; clicked- the button, of his- wrist band remote- activating: the debriefing room’s view screen.
“I give you: Operation Earth-fall…... 1967- Falcon Lake, Canada…... On claims of a UFO landing, a team of investigators had been dispatched…. People were interviewed, and evidence had been gathered.
The Black Network, known for: silencing individuals- on claims of UFO sightings, had been- a part, of the- initial investigation…..
It had been- December, the twentieth…..... The snow had fallen: twenty-eight inches this day….…. Tracks, suggesting: evidence- of an actual UFO crash-site; had been discovered….. As well as the evidence of: something larger than man, having being removed from icy lake…..”
The gathered- remained silent, as black and white images: scrolled on the screen. Visuals of the- alleged crash site, and of the investigators gathering evidence played before the attentions of the on-call reserves gathered. The last visual, a rectangular hole- cut from the frozen lake- over seven feet in length, and about five feet wide. Agent Coulson, turned off the view screen.
“It is our contention, that: an NBE was in fact removed from this UFO crash site; and some of the alien technologies- along with it….. Ever since this discovery, satellites- have been placed- creating a grid- network of: planetary scanning systems; that keeps SHIELD- aware of UFO activity…..
Today, we received a signal from the grid covering Canada…...
This signal, it matches the alien frequency captured, by radar scanning systems used during Operation Earth-fall……...
We have lost all contact with a remote SHIELD observation post stationed in the Ontario area….. Last reports indicated The presence of an invisible enemy…... This confirms Major Schaefer’s claims of an alien adversary that can use the jungle to camouflage itself while it hunts its prey…..
Seven experienced soldiers lost their lives battling this alien nemesis…....
Before dying, this alien predator initiated a self- destruct mechanism that had appeared to be a part of its armor.
The atomic explosion from the device, has been to this day contained.
The radiation levels are still high in this no-man’s land region of Val Verde…..
The burn from the explosion destroyed about 300 miles of the region radius…..
These Predators, they represent a clear and present danger; on a planetary scale…...
This is why you have been called here today…….
As Avenger recruits, you have all faced many challenges and may soon earna place in standing with those legends of yesterday…..
The world is depending on you, to protect its populace; in the absence of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…..
You will be joined, by an elite team of SHIELD Rangers….... These men and these woman; have been trained to deal with NBE’s, and the real threats to humanity they represent…..
James Buchanan (Bucky) Barnes….. Please step forward…..”
Commotions arose among the gathered. Guided to the podium, by: none other than Nick Fury himself, Colonel Bucky Barnes removed the cloak concealing his: cybernetic- extremities. The one man army, and assassin, known as: the winter soldier remained patient with silence. Agent Philip Coulson smiled on the surprised looks; thrown from the faces, of those gathered.
“And now, I would like to introduce; one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes….... Captain America…... The captain will be speaking to you, from a secret location in the field…..”
Agent Coulson stepped down, and away from the view screen; as the familiar face of the leader of the Avengers appeared on the screen.
“Welcome recruits….... You have the unique opportunity- to serve with one of the best….... James Buchanan Barnes, has been freed: from Soviet conditioning….. Bucky, is now: one of the team; and I hope he will be treated as such, accordingly……...
This will not be easy, but as a new recruit of the Avengers reserves, Bucky will learn, what it means to be an Avenger along with the rest of you…. Work together, and protect your allies….. From coast-to-coast, the Earth needs its heroes; and as part of a newly revised Avengers team many of you will be considered as becoming the first of its members…..
Remember this…....... You are in a class of distinction that lies beyond the rest…...... You are the chosen of the best, and you too are of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes….. Good luck to you all….. Agent Coulson, back to you…..”
Phillip Coulson returned to the podium.
“Well, I can’t improve on that…..... We are presently on route to Ontario Canada. We will reach our destination by first light tomorrow morning….. Director Fury, will have your assignments before we reach Drop Point….. This briefing is concluded….. You are all dismissed.”
“Jeanne might I have a word with you, please?”
Aurora grimaced on being called to a personal one on one with the assistant director of SHIELD. Unlike Director Fury, Agent Phillip Coulson was known for being blunt to those that would so callously Break protocol. Brandon Sharpe looked upon the young attractive mutant from Alpha Flight, with silent admiration.
One brit- a Joseph Chapmen, grabbed the boy by his right shoulder.
“Forget that one bloke…. Nothing but trouble, that one…..”
The Avengers recruit going by the name of Cyber Strike, yanked away from the other British born.
“Just trying to be helpful lad…..”
Agent Coulson, walked side-by-side, with the young girl from Alpha Flight his hands positioned comfortably behind his back. The two following the corridor leading to Coulson’s office.
“You were a teacher, born in Montrèal Quèbec, in Canada; before you joined Alpha Flight….."
"If you are still concerned over my mental health, my SHIELD assigned shrink, she can put you at ease Agent Coulson…..
I am one mind of one body after all…..”
“This is good to hear, but that is not why I need to talk to you…..”
“Oh, I assumed….. How can I be of assistance to this effort?”
“What can you tell me about one William Stryker, and about Department “K”?”
“Stryker……... He is a fanatic……..
He is part of a paramilitary group that goes by the title of The Purifiers…..”
Rumors suggest, that Stryker had two sons….. One by the name of Jason. The other, a man by the same name…..
Do you know, of the whereabouts of William Stryker junior?”
“According to Alpha Flight, the second son of William Stryker is deceased….. Killed by a mutant known as The Shroud…..
That does not necessarily mean anything true these days though…..
William Stryker senior has survived…... His son, was modified by his own father- a human and sentinel hybrid…..
It would not surprise me that his modifications would have some unknown benefits…..”
“What is Stryker’s connection to this Department “K”? Does- the Canadian government actually support Stryker’s anti-mutant paramilitary faction?”
“Not to my knowledge…....
It is a black operations organization, a rogue militant group.
Even the Canadian government, they believe that Stryker and all his research has been destroyed…….. His Canadian base of operations, the first Facility it was destroyed long ago…..”
“Right, the first Weapon-X experiment…..”
“Then the Canadian government knows about as much as we now know…..
Is that all Assistant Director?”
“Just one more thing….... There is one among you that goes by the name of Cyber-strike…...
This boy, he is a mutant like you…...
We need you to watch over him…... He is an essential asset to the success of the mission…..”
“You want me to babysit another mutant?”
“In a manner of speaking…...
I would tell you more of this one individuals’ identity, but his induction into the Avengers Alliance; it is a matter of national security…..”
“Can You tell me of his capabilities?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I can….. Cyber-Strike can control machines…..”
BOREAL FOREST; CANADA
Thermal imaging, visual actuator goggles allow this predator to see the heat signatures of its prey. Multiple humanoids armed with assault weaponry; close on the downed vessel.
Staying high atop the trees, the Predator circled around the approaching mercenaries in silence. Speech translation voice implants, wired into its armored helmet; allowing the alien stalker to listen, and to learn to understand the words of these men.
Cross referencing these words, with the human linguistics of past encounters, the predator gained will-full understanding in various human patterns of speech.
These mercenaries marched steadily in a three man position configuration, with one heavy machine gunner taking point, and another taking the rear.
The mercenaries numbered eleven men strong.
Within the center of the formation, two individuals concealing themselves within black robes marched along with their would be protectors. Rita Wayward, remained vigilant with silence; as she scanned the trees. Sebastian Gilbert- whispered to his companion at arms.
“Something hunts us from above…..”
“Yes….. I sense this too….. Shall I engage the enemy?”
“If it is one of these Predators, we must try to capture it…..”
Words translated to the Predator slowly came to words of understanding.
“Enemy….. Enemy….. Capture it….. Capture it…..”
The Predator attacked.
Plasma weapon fire caused the mercenaries to spread out in a wide defensive pattern. Rita Wayward, and Sebastian Gilbert- quickly sought cover among the trees; the two attempting to lay eyes upon the enemy.
Mercenaries cried out in pain. This predator, it was not alone.
One by one, the human mercenaries fell. Six from plasma fire, as they try to engage in a united counter attack against the unseen enemy in the trees. The remaining felled by the hunting Predators’ metallic razor claws.
Rita Wayward, grabbed hold of her companion in arms.
Sebastian Gilbert was about to protest the action. The woman known as being an enemy of the Avengers spun the man to her right, and then teleported herself and the one known best as Bastion to a safe distance; as triple beams of targeting laser weapon sight attempted to zero in on their location.
The predators, three in number remained in concealment; as three of the mercenaries are quickly chosen as trophies. The slain dragged to the predator’s vessel.