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A Feral Interlude-Ravaging Intrigue Part 1

Rated: NC-17
Disclaimer: Violence, Gore, adult situations, and graphic imagery. I do not own any aspect or character of the Marvel Universe nor elements of the X-Men Origins movieverse.
A Feral Interlude: Ravaging Intrigue

“—you’re telling me your dumb shit of a son swiped one of the most advance pieces of technology to date right out of your safe because he wanted you to sign over his trust fund?!” the former colonel bellowed at the disgraced DIA Director slumped in the steel chair across from him.

Reginald DeLaughter curtly nodded, averting his eyes away from the CIA agent who had far too much seniority for his tastes.

“Tell me, Delaughter, can you even fathom just how much shit you’ve caused because of your inability to: a) Keep your con artist punk of a son in check and b) Safeguard not only one of the most advanced tele-computers, but the batch of top-secret digital documents involving agencies that not even the executive branch knows about?!” the agent rounded the table and gave the man an implacable stare from his one good eye with a scowl.

“I’ll have your goddamned badge!” DeLaughter jumped to his feet and inched towards the agent. “My fucking son is dead; didn’t know what the fuck he was taking, let alone that he would get killed over it!”

Without flinching, the agent shoved him back into his chair and loomed in his face as he seethed, “That’s the problem. Everything on that portable machine you had tossed into a safe instead of secure at the Defense Department like it should’ve been has hundreds of files” he paused and fixed the man with a cold glare, “each of which involves matters of national security that were compiled through hundreds of missions and contacts. Men and women have died to scrap together this intel, and under your watch, someone now has said information for sale to the highest fucking bid. Do you have any fucking idea how many angles the U.S. can get screwed in because of you?!”

When the man yet again looked away, the agent hauled him up and slammed him against the cement wall. “If it were up to me, an asshole like you would be court marshaled and tossed into a detention cell to rot like any other terrorist bottom feeder” he spoke contumely, adding, “but you’re the FBI’s problem now. You have a future of obscurity to fall into now, and if anything happens to this country, you shall be judged.”

Tossing the man back into the chair, the agent stalked out of the room and headed down to brief his squad. They were on the hunt now for the retrieval of as much of the lost intel they could piece together. The hope was to avert any leaks as well as determine what target had the most to lose. He couldn’t wrap his head around just how the spy knew about the computer, let alone about the asshole’s son stealing it and running off to Vegas with it.

The world was a dark place outside of America. Nick could only imagine who wanted the information and what they intended to do with it. Most of those files had no backups. Going digital was supposed to be the ultimate safety precaution, but of course even that wasn’t fail proof. It was damage control time.

With renewed fears brimming inside of him, he marched down and took the elevator down to the sub-levels of the Pentagon, ready to tackle the tyranny looming in the shadows.


Her Chanel heels clicked mutely across the polished floors of the consulate’s lobby as she crossed the stairs and headed for the bank of conference rooms that required three forms of ID to access. Showing her counterfeit credentials to the guard, she passed through security and headed down the long and opulently decorated hall for the conference suite.

Knocking on the door with the back of her knuckles, she waited until the door clicked automatically open and allowed her entrance.

“Mademoiselle Montecristo” the man with the thick French accent and Armani suit greeted as he rose from the lacquered table by the window, crossing the room to take her hand and kiss the back of it. “Thank you for being so prompt. Please” he gestured her into the room and pulled the chair out for her.

“I trust your superior has gained the information he needed from the machine, Monsieur Basset?” she spoke, getting right to business as she stared at the man across her through her tinted glasses.

Clearing his throat, the man reached for a folder and slid it towards her. “My employer would like to contract you for another venture” he announced as she flipped through the file, scanning the information. “We would pay you the same sum as before—”

“This is a counter-insurgency job. My quote is double the sum” she interrupted, gazing stoically at him while she drummed her red-painted talons over the picture of the target.

“Mademoiselle—I would have to confer with my employer…”

“If the French government wishes to eliminate targets cheaply, they have agents for that. I was told your employer wasn’t directly affiliated with the regime” she countered smoothly, tucking a rogue strand of hair behind her ear.

“He is not. But this mission would involve more than eliminating the target. We need to find direct ties to him and Khomeini. It will help the French government, and ensure my employer’s future ventures in Iran aren’t jeopardized by any...extremism” he stated and sat back stiffly in his leather-backed chair.

Her camouflaged nails halted in their drumming as she stared keenly at the man. “Information isn’t cheap; neither is assassination. When your employer agrees, you will wire the documents to the same bank as before along with a French bond to cover the deposit” she announced curtly, her eyes cool behind the amber-tinted frames that obscured the eerie russet ring around her pupils.

“Understood, mademoiselle” the man gulped and tried to remain composed under her predatory gaze.

Standing, she politely shook his hand and headed for the door, before a rogue thought made her pause. “Ah, monsieur. Did your employer dispose of the machine?” she turned and glanced at him over her shoulder.

Oui…vendu sur le marché noir” he replied cautiously.

Ah, bon” and with that, she exited the room and headed down to the crisp November air of the nation’s capital. There was no question that she’d have the job by the end of the day, so she decided to dedicate the rest of the early afternoon to shopping in D.C.

She had completed the job from Vegas the week before and had received her fee, which had been wired to her account in the Cayman Islands. The only reason she had taken the job was to create distance as well as call the Frenchman’s bluff. He had folded earlier than she’d expected, so she had been forced to cancel the espionage job at the last minute in order to head to Washington.

Tommy DeLaughter had been puddy in her hands. All it took were a few touches of rapture and he had adoringly broken into his father’s safe and taken the portable computer out. He’d even written the blackmail letter under her alluring gaze, suggesting what to write in murmurs that forced him to cling to her every word. Once done, she’d taken him to Las Vegas like an overgrown puppy, keeping the rapture active with a few caresses before sending him to book the high roller’s suite with his father’s card while she went to the Stardust to crash the conference. She had calculated that his body wouldn’t be found until the next morning, either by housekeeping or the FBI. She had been right, but she hadn’t anticipated getting ensnared in an encounter, let alone one so…

Sighing, she brooded and stalked out of the car as soon as the chauffer pulled it open for her. Dismissing him for the rest of the day, she strode out and busied herself with idle shopping at all the designer boutiques, absently ignoring the chill while her mind continued to wander.

He’d caught her fancy. Even now, his check was tucked into her vintage Chanel purse—the urge to fish it out and inhale his musky scent an unruly impulse she managed to suppress. She figured he wouldn’t make a move until he had sufficient background info on her, which she also figured was the reason that a week had gone by with no reprisal.

The Sabertooth is on the prowl…

She was sure he wouldn’t find much, but she wasn’t sure if she should take solace in that or not. Centuries of practice and the ravages of time were two of her advantages—ensuring little remained of her origins. If anything did remain, it wasn’t anything sufficient enough to pose her great harm. Besides, Creed didn’t even bother to learn her name, a funny thought to her now that she headed towards the bank. The man was a tempest, made up of keen brawn and cunning, but thinking ahead didn’t seem to be one of his strong suits—or at least nothing he seemed to worry about. She assumed he wasn’t accustomed to letting his prey survive an interlude with him, if they even stayed alive long enough through the encounter, that is. Being mindful of things like his prey’s name was a frivolous expectation to have of him, which somehow added to his charms. His intelligence hidden under the rouse of brute indifference had made an impression on her; it was only a matter of time.

He’d most likely get as far as Berlin, which was really the only time she’d left a trail she couldn’t account for. Thinking back on that time always brought to surface memories she didn’t care for. Sometimes the images haunted her for hours before her mind found something else to anchor to. She’d submerge them, shoving them away into the muddy recesses of her mind until the next spark of light revealed them in the darkness. The biting wind roused her to the soft snowflakes that began to waft down from the graying sky.

She didn’t know what his means were, but knew he was resourceful enough to get the answers he wanted one way or another. Anticipation hummed in her mind; being the mouse meant she wouldn’t know when the cat was near until he pounced.

As she walked into the sprawling bank lobby out of the cold, she submerged her idle excitement and keyed in to find the delivery had been made. Smiling, she made arrangements for a courier to transport her things to the West coast before depositing some collateral into the state of the art vault. She was amused the Frenchman took her for an ignorant fool. Of course she didn’t expect him to tell the truth, but selling a telecommunication innovation on the black market?

Whenever she wondered if she took too many precautions, arrogant bastards like the Frenchman always set her at ease. Well, most of the time they did.

Sighing to herself, she went back out into the cold afternoon—absolutely resolute on taking a vacation once this job was over so she could properly focus on being pursued.


The pop of kindling blistering in the fireplace snapped Dan out of his doze, dropping the book from the crook of his arm to thud on the carpet. He wiped the back of his mouth and stared out the window. Twilight had passed hours ago in the winter countryside his cozy cottage resided in. Grunting, he got up from the leather chair and picked up the book before stretching and popping his back.

Grumbling to himself, he shuffled lethargically into his study to return the book to its assigned slot among the thousands of other books that lined his walls from floor to ceiling. The light from the fireplace in the living room shone into his study before it was dimmed faintly by the shadow that emerged in the doorway.

“S’been a while, eh Danny-boy?”

“JESUS CHRIST!” Dan Dresner whirled at the voice and practically stumbled back over one of the stacks of books that littered the floor. The predatory chuckle sent a chill down his spine before his mind could recognize its owner. “C-Creed—W-What’re you doing here?! Trying to give me a fucking heart attack?!” he stuttered, trying hard to lower his voice back to his gravelly tenor instead of the nasal octave it had risen to.

Smirking subtly, Victor prowled into the dimly lit room, fingers skimming idly along the book spines that lined the wall as he invaded the shorter man’s space, not bothering to brush the melting snow off his coat shoulders. “Now is that anyway to greet a smiling old face from your past, Dan?” he mocked deviously, his cool blue eyes implacable while the smile expanded to flash his wicked canines. “I gotta say” he added as he glanced around the room with derisive intrigue, “not too shabby a place you got here. It ain’t your style—being holed up so far out in the country.”

Raking his fingers in his eye-length mop of dirty brown hair, Dan tried to smile at the man, but his lips only managed a twitch. “Trying to stay out of trouble. Easiest way to do that is to stay lost” he answered and glanced at his desk drawer, where his revolver was snugly hidden.

Victor followed his glance and sneered a grin. “You wouldn’t even finish blinking, Dan, so don’t be rude” he growled patronizingly and enjoyed the flinch that coursed through the tacto-empath. “I’ve come to call in a favor” he announced as he crossed over to the liquor cabinet nestled in the corner by his desk.

Dan watched as the feral helped himself to his bottle of scotch. “I didn’t know I owed any favors” he muttered absently and immediately regretted it.

Victor’s chuckle heralded his regret. “Oh I beg to differ. You could’ve ended up like every other fuck-stick associate of mine after the Island. Did you really think you got away alive without someone keeping you around for later?” he stated with a sinister edge as he regarded the man over the rim of the glass he took a long sip from.

“What do you want?” Dan queried, his throat tight with terror and looking like a much older Irish-blooded rogue as he realized what Victor was saying.

Finishing his drink, Victor helped himself to another and leaned against the edge of the desk. “I know you were Stryker’s dutiful information source. I need you to get me background info on a…target of mine” he stated, the command irrefutable in his tone.

“I don’t know what Stryker told you” he attempted, but paused when Victor’s cold eyes hardened savagely. “I-I’d need access to databases that are long gone now. The closest thing would be getting access to Department H’s resources, and we both know how shit out of luck that venture is” he stated his case in a quick rush, trying to abate his fear since he knew Creed fed off of it.

“What’s this ‘we’ business?” Victor barked and plopped the empty glass down on the desk as he pushed off the edge to stalk towards Dan. The man backed up against the corner shelf, thumping against the books when Victor continued, “I don’t care how the hell you get the information. It isn’t my fucking problem, but if you’re going to keep dicking around with me then it will be a problem—for you” he snarled, pointing his index claw into the man’s chest so he could watch it lengthen dangerously to prick through his sweater. “Stryker isn’t around to coddle you, Danny-boy, and trust me” he growled and inched closer to bare his teeth, “I’m not the coddling type.”

Victor knew he wasn’t lying, but he wasn’t going to take any fucking excuse. Dan might’ve not been a direct teammate, but he wasn’t a full labcoat. The man had joined the project under the niche of intelligence liaison, which afforded him direct access to the facility’s resources and Stryker’s protection. He figured staying behind the scenes was his smartest bet, so he only worked for and answered strictly to Stryker.

Unfortunately for Danny-boy, Victor knew why the mutant larcenist had joined the project, and it was strictly for self-preservation’s sake. Stryker had kept him tucked in his pocket because he followed orders and never stepped out of line, as well as because he was a figurative fountain of knowledge; knowledge he gained through touch. Dan was a walking talking library of information fit for only his former superior’s unscrupulous scheming. So, there was little clearance given to anyone but the colonel—that is until Victor started doing Stryker’s insidious dirty work. He knew the extent of the man’s mutation and had gotten the details of how he’d ended up mixed up with the former colonel, which was a similar circumstance to how Victor and Jimmy had joined the team.

“W-What’s this target’s name? Who do they work for??” Dan conceded and sputtered, his anxiety so strong that Victor wrinkled his nose at the scent.

Backing down the intimidation factor, Victor strode casually towards the desk and allowed the man to exhale his relief. “Montecristo. Dunno anything else about her; s’why I’m telling you to find out for me” he spoke, crossing his arms over his broad chest as he leaned against the desk. He watched the man’s brows furrowed in bewilderment. “What?” he snapped, his mouth taking on a scowl.

“I thought you were done hunting other mutants, with the Island going down and all—”

“Who said I’m done hunting mutants, Dan? What do you think this will be if you don’t do as your told” Victor cut in, the blistering threat edged into his tone. “And who said she was a mutant?”

“I-I only mean—it isn’t typical for you to be hunting down some broad, so I figured she had to be mutant is all” Dan stammered, edging towards the closest cluttered table for a stray pad and pen. “Montecristo…like the book?” he asked and glanced over at the massive feral dressed in black.

He grunted and raised a brow, cocking his head to eye the tacto-empath. “What book?” he asked gruffly.

The Count of Monte Cristo. Famous novel by the same guy who wrote The Three Musketeers?” Dan offered and crouched down next to several piles of books stacked by the lamp he turned on. Fishing for a few moments, he found what he was looking for and stood. “The only time I’ve ever heard the name—Monte Cristo. It’s an Italian islet; means “the mountain of Christ”. It isn’t a common last name, but there’s a brand of Cuban cigars named Montecristo” he explained and handed Victor the heavy book.

Looking at the dusty cover and reading the engraved title, Victor grunted and tossed it onto the desk. “Do I care to know what it’s about?” he asked with a cautionary grumble to his voice.

Tensely, Dan sat down on a footstool and shrugged. “Might give you a clue about who this chick is?” he tentatively remarked, and to Victor’s noncommittal grunt, he continued, “The protagonist is a guy who gets royally screwed. Takes place throughout Europe in the early 19th century and Napoleon’s exile from Paris is the background of the plot…” Dan highlights several important elements of the plot while Victor patiently listens, his expression unreadable but etched in the ferocity that characterizes him. “…Dantès becomes the Count of Monte Cristo and lures all the people who betrayed him into traps where they all meet their destructions, revealing his identity to them once his revenge upon them is completed. It’s twisted and revenge-driven, with a few moral allegories in it, but the revenge is the strongest element in the book—!”

“What happens to Monte Cristo?” Victor interrupted, resting his hands along the edge of the desk.

Dan gulped at the sight of his wicked claws fanning out over the beaten wood, answering, “Dumas wrote it so we assume he and Haydée go off together, but the important part of the ending is that while revenge had fueled Dantès, he found peace once he recovered his humanity. As Monte Cristo, he had disconnected himself from humanity and given himself to revenge, but once he allowed himself to forgive he became Dantès again—recovering his humanity…it’s all about realizing God’s Providence and the importance of waiting and hoping that he’ll intervene in the world; punishing the bad and rewarding the good” he paused when Victor’s brow furrowed.

What’s the point of living like an animal to begin with? Her voice echoed in his mind, triggered by the juxtaposition of humanity and revenge Dan rambled on about. She’d been talking about taking what was willingly given and the uselessness of it—the pointlessness of taking if there hadn’t been a struggle to live, and when taking pride in her struggling prey meant she was in control.

“I’ll be checking in with you by the end of the week, so you better have more than a Lit. lecture for me when I do” Victor announced and pushed off the desk, stalking to the door.

“Creed wait!” Victor turned and glanced sharply at him over his shoulder. “I’m going to need more details than just her name. What she look like? Any scars? Or a picture?” the tacto-empath interrogated as cautiously as he could with the feral man eyeing him so harshly.

“If I had a picture don’t you think I’d given it to you, jackass?” Victor berated, turning slightly to add, “She’s a reptilian-based feral. Doesn’t look like a lizard, but she has palm green eyes with a coppery ring around her pupils, retractable incisors and fangs that reminded me of an alligator’s, and black talon-like nails that can tear into shit just as good as mine. Her skin shimmers different tones and she emits different types of pheromones she can only transfer through touch” he paused and remembered the shadow of a scar etched close to her womb. “She said she was older than me…dunno how much older. Also said her specialty was espionage, but she’s skilled in killing” Victor added instead, figuring the scar wasn’t prominent enough to turn up on the type of search the man would be undertaking.

Dan wrote everything down in a coded language only he could understand, which was just as fine since Victor expected the fucker to report verbatim for him. “I’ll get right on this” the man murmured and stood, hoping Victor would leave like he came.

“You better. Don’t make me regret keeping you alive this long, Danny-boy” he quipped sadistically and smirked, throwing a wave of departure over his shoulder as he walked out of the study.

Dan heard his footfalls course through the house before the door slammed shut. Slumping down to the footstool, he shivered, and not from the burst of cold air that had invaded his house from Victor’s departure. He knew the fucking animal would be the death of him; sensed it without having to touch anyone to read the writing that was on the wall. As soon as Stryker started finalizing project Deadpool and word got around about James Logan going on a killing spree looking for Stryker and Creed, Dan had gotten the fuck off of the Island and headed north. Not too soon, considering he heard about the devastation on the news a few days later. He’d also heard most of the lab staff and all the test subjects had perished or vanished in the destruction, with a few rumors about Stryker, Logan, and Creed getting away floating around in the aftermath.

With Victor confirming as much, he knew he was fucked if he didn’t comply with the brutal feral’s demands. Dan knew there was nowhere to hide. Creed would track him down, probably enjoy torturing him to the edge of death before bringing him back and starting from scratch. Resigned to his fate, Dan prepared to revert back to his nefarious trade from before he was a mutant operative, except instead of identity theft and white-collar crime he would be invading for knowledge for the sake of his own well-being.

Shit…wouldn’t dear ol’ Ma be proud…


“—when can I expect him to be eliminated?...bon. See that the documents not get out until after he’s dead. Has she asked again?...she isn’t a fool Basset. See that l'information trickles to the right parties. It would be preferable if she be éliminé simultanément. Je veux qu'il ressemble à un mauvais allé par incursion…Oui, as soon as the news breaks and the deal is assured, come back to headquarters…Très bien. Maintenez-moi signalé” he hung up the rerouted line and headed away from the bank of pay phones, making his way out of the platform up to the surface of the sprawling train station. His chauffer was waiting at the curb for him, opening the door for him to slide into the back of the opulent Rolls-Royce. The swarthy Parisian businessman stared placidly out of the window, allowing his thoughts to untangle.

That fucking femme fatale thought she could get one over on him? It was laughable. Her smug ignorance would be her undoing.

Armand de Lioncourt was not a man to be trifled with.

He hadn’t built his telecommunication empire because he was an imbécile. Like any other entrepreneur, he had paved his way on the backs of others, most of whom were ash under his Italian leather loafers—with their innovations becoming Armand’s intellectual property. Nothing would stand in his way; not Khomeini, not the meddling U.S. government, and certainly not some mutant femme too arrogant for her own good. When his head technician told him the tele-computer showed signs of driver duplication, Armand had fumed, ordering the man to extract the information and proceed with his research. He couldn’t afford having the woman possess delicate evidence of his criminality, especially when the computer had confidential intelligence of one of his Middle Eastern subsidiaries that would lead to a direct connection between him and Iran for the authorities to trace.

Everything was a delicate process. The theft, murder, and concealment of said dealings were of optimum importance. Basset new that, so when he told him the woman had asked about the computer, Armand knew it was a silent gloat; I have you in my pocket, Frenchman.

She had come highly recommended from a Russian cohort, attesting to her skills but unable to shed any light on her mutant prowess. Truth was, she was so good at what she did that no one lived to reveal just what her talents were. Those who did live never knew what happened to them. The rumor was, she had some form of hypnosis—ensnaring her victims so completely that they handed over information and even walked off balconies they were so utterly devoted. No one had any knowledge of her age or the level of her mutation. Hell, no one even knew where she’d emerged from; most background checks hit a wall at three decades ago, leaving many clients to speculate on just who or what the fierce woman was.

Regardless, as soon as she and Nagarajah were out of the picture, Armand could relax and focus on his future investitures in the fledgling global-telecommunication industry. The computer would be the crowning jewel of his empire, a victory he would flaunt in the world’s face. With any luck, the raid would be so precisely messy that agencies would be pointing the finger at each other for months, allowing him to coax the right people into action and solidify the next phase of operations: gaining a foothold in the Middle East before the Americans did.

Smiling pleasantly at nothing in particular outside his window, Armand headed for his meeting in Paris’ financial sector, assured that by the week’s end he’d be known the world over as Armand de Lioncourt, and not just the Frenchman.


He was going to unscrew Dan’s head off his fucking shoulders. The fucker had ordered him to come down to this library, refusing to wait for Victor at his place out in the countryside. At first the nerve of it had astounded the ruthless feral, but the indignant fury that followed had made him hungry for mayhem. No one had talked to him like that. Not even that motherfucking bastard Stryker! He was still reeling from the bristling rage as he stalked through the massive public library, hunting the tacto-empath down through the tall and robust stacks and wings that reminded him of a dusty mildewed-smelling maze.

Goddammit Creed, you’re not going to harass me in my own fucking house! Either meet me at the library or do your worst. Nothing you could do scares me enough to fuck with these people!” Dan had seethed from a combination of trepidation and reckless bravado before hanging up on Victor.

He had called the Irish mutt to let him know he was coming so he’d have his wits about him and got an earful instead. But under the other mutant’s mouthy audacity Victor had sensed his hysterical fear. It was that sharp scent that he was tracking now as he rounded a quiet cluster of stacks and study lounges that allowed for more isolated privacy from the rest of the tomb-like library.

Barging into a study room tucked into a poorly lit corner, Victor slammed the door behind him and narrowed his eyes at the man who jumped out of his chair and pressed up against the wall. He was clutching several notepads to his chest and staring at the larger mutant with terror, looking like a disheveled conspiracy nutcase.

“Who the fuck do you think you are” Victor seethed through his bared teeth and slowly advanced around the table towards him. “Did you think by making me come here that I wouldn’t gut you and splash this whole fucking library with your entrails, you goddamned fuckwit!? You better start talking before I crack your fucking head open and see if you’ve really got a brain in there!” Victor hissed and cornered Dan who’d backed into the wall and stammered up at him.

“J-Jesus Creed calm down I-I didn’t mean any fucking disrespect I just couldn’t stay at my place—c’mon I’m scared shitless already just give me a fucking chance to explain before you go berserk on me!” Dan sputtered and held up his notes as he pleaded his case.

“You’re tone’s all fucking wrong, Danny-boy. Get it together before I pull you the fuck apart!” Victor snarled in the man’s face and loomed imposingly over him.

“S-Sorry—I’m sorry” he inhaled shakily and lowered his gaze submissively. “This shit you got me looking into is really heavy, Creed. You didn’t tell me this woman had so many strings attached to her” he babbled and inched away from Victor to grab a stack of papers strewn out over the table.

Raising an eyebrow, Victor watched him collect his notes and lay them out in some unique order that only he comprehended. “Start making sense, Dan. You’re tap-dancing on my fucking last nerve!” he snapped and yanked a chair out to sit across from the skittish tacto-empath.

“Okay, okay” he murmured conciliatorily and pushed his hands through his hair before staring at Victor. “For days I couldn’t find a goddamned thing on this broad. I ended up breaking into a government installation just west of here, and still the only intel I got on her was a blip in South America. Seems she was a rumored operative for Pinochet in ’73, and since the U.S. had backed the military junta, they have a really flimsy file on her” Dan explained as he sifted through some files and found a page. “This is the only picture I’ve found” he slid the black and white snapshot towards Victor, who snatched it up and stared at it as Dan continued, “all they know is that she’s strictly freelance and not affiliated to any regime or any special ops. She has absolutely no allegiances and that’s what was on file…up until two days ago.”

Glancing at Dan, Victor tossed the blurry picture of Montecristo entering a military-occupied headquarters into the mess of papers on the table. “Quit the suspense bullshit and get to the fucking point” he growled at Dan and fixed him with a glare.

Unflustered by Victor’s impatience, Dan pressed on, “I heard through the covert grapevine that a tip came from D.C. naming this jackoff Malik Nagaraja as a co-conspirator of Ruhollah Khomeini, some theocratic extremist exiled from Tehran. Rumor is Nagaraja is orchestrating some sort of coup that will get Khomeini into power and royally fuck everyone else doing business in Iran. If these guys get their way, Iran will revert to conservative theocratic power. Khomeini and Nagaraja are working this from the outside; the first is in Paris and the other is here in the states. Nagaraja got put on the most wanted list at three government covert agencies and Khomeini is under surveillance by the French…but what’s going under the radar is that a person of interest linked to Nagaraja is your target.”

Victor’s shoulders straightened at the last part. “What’s the order?” he asked coolly.

“Order is to secure her and Nagaraja to be taken to some hush-hush unit in Washington. This is black ops shit. A special outfit put together to be under the command of an intermediary representing the three agencies. The brass has no idea how she’s involved, but they know enough about her to go in with lots of gear. This is all top-secret, so you’re probably wondering how I found out about all of this” Dan attempted with a tentative glance towards Victor.

“Oh, enlighten me” Victor grumbled humorlessly.

Leaning over the table as if to impart something sacred, Dan announced, “All of this is a smoke screen. The word is Washington’s getting played big time and no one’s the wiser because they’re following the wrong trail. Some big shot in Europe set this all up to create a domino effect. Montecristo was hired by this guy to kill Nagaraja and get a smoking gun linking him to Khomeini, but for some reason he decided to throw her to the wolves too. Whatever the reason, he’s setting it up for her and Nagaraja to get taken out by this black ops outfit. It’s probably in order to deflect attention from something else, but there’s a huge problem he didn’t count on…”

“I swear to fucking Christ Dan—!” Victor growled in exasperation before Dan continued.

“She can’t be taken out” he cut in quickly. “The file I got on her is shit, but it helped me track down other leads” he explained as he pointed down at his coded notes. “She’s been involved in half of the skirmishes throughout South and Central America in the last two decades. The junta’s know of her, the guerrillas know her, and none of them fucks with her. She’s worked both sides, depending on which suited her interests at the time, and she falls off the radar until something else comes up. Because of her vicious reputation, she earned the codename La Vibora” he paused when Victor seemed to perk up, if his gaze intensifying and his jaw clenching with intrigue could be called ‘perking up’, “it loosely translates to ‘the Vipress’.”

The image of her lips tightening and her expression smoothening after he called her viper the first time stood out to him and caused a wry smile to creep across his lips. Dan looked at him nervously. Victor snickered to himself. “It fits” was all he confided to the other man as he leaned back against his chair. “Beyond her busy work life, what else has the little viper been up to” he mused, pursing his lips wryly at the weary stare Dan gave him before he plopped down into his own chair.

“That’s just it, Creed. There is no record of Montecristo before 1950. She’s a ghost; hasn’t ever left a trail, other than the few tidbits I scrapped together. This unit in D.C. is what I’m worried about; there’s talk in the underground that they’re organizing some bureau that’ll round up mutants, nothing like what Stryker was doing” he paused as he tossed his scribbled pad onto the table. “It’s all one big set up, though. They don’t know about this other guy, and he thinks they’re going to do him a favor. He’s got some flunky setting it all up in D.C., which is how I found part of this stuff out. The guy—Basset—talked to a buddy of mine about getting help disappearing with a huge trunk of secrets, so to speak. Little does he know him and his boss will probably find themselves strung up by their heels and gutted like slaughtered pigs…which is supposedly one of Montecristo’s calling cards. This chick is no joke—!”

“I want you to keep digging” Victor cut in, as irrefutable as before.

“Are you shitting me?” Dan balked at him. “After all the shit I just told you you’re still going to go after her?”

“That’s just the thing” he growled and crossed his arms, “you haven’t told me much of anything, you dumb fuck! Just a bunch of hyperboles and spook-talk. It’s only made me more curious. I want to know everything about her” since she’s worked so hard to bury it all, “like for starters, what the fuck’s her first name?”

Dan sat back in his chair and rubbed his temple. “I thought you didn’t bother with such trivialities, especially when a broad’s involved” he muttered bemusedly.

Glaring at the weary mutant, Victor rumbled snidely, “Have you ever been skull-fucked by a fist, Danny-boy?”

Stiffening with fear, he stammered, “N-No—!”

“Then this’ll be your first time if you don’t watch your fucking mouth” he snapped. “What the fuck is her name?”

Dan gulped before telling him flatly.

Victor repeated it to himself, as if testing it out while he recalled her in his mind’s eye. Mental snapshots of her devouring that DeLaughter kid, lying sprawled out on her side before him—wrapped in his arms and pressed taut against him, her eyes hooded but preternaturally glowing up into his under the light. Her name as well as everything else Dan found fit her.

“The intel you get enough for a profile?” he inquired as he lazily cleaned under his claws with his car key before extending all five nails of his right hand up to the light.

He smelled the apprehension saturate Dan’s scent as the man tentatively spoke, “She’s suited to hostile environments with severely high temperatures. Probably has a voracious metabolic system, but is most likely a poikilotherm—which would force her to avoid certain frigid environments or seek a heat source, regardless of her fast metabolism. She probably has an abnormally high regenerative trait as well as an age suppression factor…that’s about all I can think up—”

“I expected a helluva lot more than that” Victor snapped, his expression surly as he leaned forward in the chair. “I’m starting to think I was wrong about you Danny-boy. I don’t like being wrong. If I am ever wrong, I rectify things until I don’t care about being wrong” his lip curled back in a slow and nasty grin as he added, “usually, that means stringing the problem up and peeling the flesh off of it until it’s a tangle of bloody screams and tendons. So tell me, was I wrong to count on you, Dan?”

The blood drained from Dan’s face while his hazel eyes went wide with horror. “N-NO! Of course not!! You know I’m good for it—just give me a couple of days and I swear by that time I’ll have everything on her there is! By the time I’m done you’ll know everything from her favorite movie to her cup size” Dan assured in a gush of words, sitting stiffly and trying not to make any sudden movement as if he sat across from a starving mountain lion.

Victor snickered sardonically, musing privately that he damn well already knew her cup size: a large C. He guesstimated as much from how full her perky tits had been cupped in his massive hands. He submerged the leering smile as he shoved his raunchy memories away to fix Dan with a sly look.

“Keep digging, and get back to that country shack of yours. I’ll be checking in for more dirt, and you better have a lot more for me when I do” he stated gruffly and stood. Bewildered, Dan nodded and began collecting his notepads. Victor turned to stride out the door, but suddenly whirled around and prowled down around Dan, slamming a huge hand with lengthened claws down on the collection of papers the tacto-empath was about to gather up. Stiffening, Dan balked in terror at the feral when he inched nose to nose with him and snarled, “Oh, and the next time you ever cross me, or get insolent with me again, you’ll fucking wish you were dissected and under a microscope somewhere, cuz that’ll be a fucking reprieve from just how fucking berserk I can get. You fucking understand?!”

The breath wheezed out of Dan’s throat when he attempted a response, his fear spiking when he thought his inability to respond would get him gutted. Instead, Victor took his petrified expression as his response, smiling mildly and patting him on the shoulder roughly before resuming his exit out of the room. Still racked with panic, the tacto-empath went about doing as he was told, too scared shitless to even think about doing otherwise.

Stalking through the library, Victor descended the wide staircase across from a sitting area in the main hall before passing the librarian’s unoccupied desk, his mind preoccupied.

He was amused that the lofty bitch was getting set up, but couldn’t help find commonalities between her situation and his own. It reminded him of Lagos. That one fucking assignment had changed everything, tearing things asunder between his brotherhood and his thirst for carnage. Before Victor knew it, he had become Stryker’s pawn; his fucking hellhound at his every beck and call. Becoming the Sabertooth wasn’t something he could completely blame on Stryker—no matter how much the beast told him so—but the manipulation had widened the fissure between him and his brother, and Victor would have to live with it, rescind to the rage and betrayal he held towards Jimmy instead of the nagging conscience that blamed otherwise. He submerged it like everything else that didn’t matter anymore. That gnawing curiosity of his would always pester him, however, which is what got him involved in this cat and mouse game to begin with. He wondered if Montecristo had become a pawn unknowingly or had rescinded herself to it like he had. Whether Dan’s fears were warranted or not didn’t matter to him. He still owed the ‘Vipress’ for the humiliation and nothing was going to stand in his way, especially not some covert human bullshit.