Disclaimer: The following is a work of fan fiction and is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, The Mirsch Group, Trilogy, CBS or any others with claims. The characters of the Magnificent Seven belong to MGM and company, while the X-Men universe is the property of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and various other talented writers and artists. I do not expect to profit from this story.

Spoilers: There are the usual spoilers for various Magnificent Seven episodes, this story assumes that the reader knows the boys background. There are also references to the movie: X-Men Evolution, as the story is set to take place years after the events in X-Men Evolution.

Universe: X-Men, Marvel Universe AU

Genre: Gen, mention of violence, mild swearing.

Main characters: Vin, Chris and JD [so far <g>]

Authors Note: The introduction to this AU is a series of stories, following in sequence. The AU is open to anyone who wants to try their hand at it – all I ask is that you keep the boys ‘abilities’ and history the same. I thrive on feedback, so any comments or questions are welcome <g>
Huge thanks to Mitzi for beta reading this for me – you’re star!

In the not too distant future:

The newspaper headline couldn't be any clearer. "Mysterious X-Men Save World Leaders". The reporter, a young woman, went on to elaborate in glowing tones, her words full of praise and awe, how a group of mutants had averted a disaster of immense proportions only yesterday. The particulars of the events were completely ignored by the tall man reading the article. Instead his knuckles grew progressively whiter the more he read. 'Heroes.... mankind's hope ... our future.. the little idiot has no idea what the future holds.'

Ripping the thin sheets of paper in two and then scrunching the entire mess into a tight ball, he hurled the offending piece of news at his office wall. 'Our future! Over my dead body!'

A future - Tuesday night:

The apartment was dark, the only source of light in the room coming from the streetlight outside the window. In what had once been a good neighbourhood, the tiny apartment now bordered on the verge of a no-go police district. It was filled with littered glass from smashed-in windows, graffiti tagged walls, furniture that should have been consigned to a trash heap years ago and an occupant, too drunk to care.

A muffled groan came from the recesses of a filthy couch and the headrest shifted a little as another moan escaped dry and cracked lips. Into the shaft of light streaming in through the window, a seemingly disembodied hand extended from the shadowed couch and fumbled for an object on the floor. Grunting with impatience, as his shaking hand failed to find the bottle, he vaguely remembered placing it there. A bleary blood-shot eye opened and the reluctantly sober man shifted enough to look down onto the floor.

"S....shi.." At last able to find his missing dinner, the now rapidly trembling hand held up an empty whiskey bottle, the new dark patch on the stain-ridden mat proof that even carpets can hold their liquor. Struggling to sit up, fighting the urge to cradle his pounding head and just die, the man's elbow accidentally pressed on the battered remote. By some wry twist in Fate's day calendar, batteries so dead that they were actually bleeding the gunk that seems to inhabit batteries, managed to spark a moment of life into the receptors of the remote control, and turn the television on.

The new source of head-splitting light, elicited a sharp curse from it's owner, who fumbled to find the remote which had sunk in between the cushions. The noise from the TV was drilling it’s own special kind of hole into his pounding head. ’Where the hell is that remote?" Pulling out a life-time's worth of dust and fast-food condiments, the remote was retrieved. But the batteries had breathed their last shuddering spark, and no matter how hard he pressed on the remote, the TV remained on. Flinging the useless thing against the wall, he sank back onto the couch, covering his eyes and fighting back the wave of nausea that threatened to add to the mess on the floor.

Vaguely, in his self-induced darkness, he heard the reader’s drone try to form something reminiscent of words. Perhaps it was because the expected monotone sounded a little more animated and excited than usual, that he paid more attention to the words.

"... new legislation passed today ... in a much anticipated move ... mutant registration."

The last two words brought his full attention to the screen, and despite the escalating head-ache, he opened both eyes and listened carefully. The TV screen swam into focus and he had to squint to see the newsreader clearly.

"Various pro-human groups have praised the controversial law saying it's the first step in removing the threat mutants pose to humanity's survival." Behind the newsreader, he could now see shots of men and women shouting and celebrating outside the Senate building. Sounding a little too pleased to be completely impartial, the newsreader continued, "Already extreme mutant groups have vowed that they will not conform to the new law, while more established groups have set into motion an appeal to revoke the legislation."

Shuffling his papers a little before continuing, the newsreader smirked, "Negotiations regarding an alternative solution to registration failed last month and pro-mutant groups have been trying to delay this action for the past several weeks, but to no avail. Registration is set to begin tomorrow, with local law-enforcement agencies charged with enforcing what the Grey Force Commissioner called, 'The only viable solution to rampant mutant crime'. Mutants will be required as of midnight tonight to report to designated registration offices and ..."

The television exploded as if something had ripped it's guts out and torn it in two. Sparking sporadically, the remnants of it's violent death now strewn across the apartment, the glass of the TV screen miraculously intact, slowly teetered over and shattered.

Stumbling out of the apartment, in desperate need of the only thing that made sense any more, Chris Larabee went in search of another bottle.


Following the whispered directions, JD ducked into a narrow alley and raced down it's garbage cluttered pavement, desperate to lose his pursuers. A sharp hiss of warning, had him making an abrupt turn left and running out into the main street paralleling the alleyway. As if of their own accord, the cars in the street screeched to a halt to let the young man dash past, their unprepared drivers thrown against their steering wheels.

Five men clad all in grey emerged from the alleyway, their ambush foiled by JD's split second change in direction. Hot on the heels of their prey, the five men tried to run across the road, only to have the cars leap forward and cut them off. Shouting at the confused drivers who did not remember starting their cars, the five men threaded their way through with difficulty, loosing ground on the fleeing boy.

Running through a series of by-roads and alleys, JD tried to put as much distance as possible between the Greys and himself. He managed to startle a stray cat who leapt onto a badly balanced trashcan lid and the surprised feline fell gracefully into an entire row of empty trashcans. Leaving the betraying racket behind, as trashcan fell against trashcan, JD knew the Greys would soon be right behind him again.

'Need transport.' In answer to his unspoken thought, a street light suddenly flared down the road from him. Running towards it, JD spotted the small gas station nestled between two run down buildings. There was a light on in the workshop and JD could see the silhouette of a car.


As he ran past a darkened alley, JD didn’t notice the car parked at it’s mouth. If he had, he would certainly have been interested in the armour plating, bullet-proof windscreen and small array of handguns on the passenger seat. The car’s occupant carefully loaded one of his shot-guns and then turned the engine over, it’s personalised modifications keeping the distinctive rumble muted.


Although the sun had set nearly five hours ago, the night air was still uncomfortably warm after the hot summers day. An old sound system was cranking out a song at the soft decibel of 'just-able-to-hear' and it's soft notes settled a kind of peaceful atmosphere around the workshop. One of the new GH78 Hovercars rested a few inches above the floor on 20th century jacks.

It was cooler in the space created between the slight depression of the floor and the raised machine, something that Vin appreciated after a long hot day. Humming softly along with the song, his right foot idly swaying in time, Vin slowly traced the power couplings, trying to find the faulty one. His tools were scattered haphazardly on the floor around him, all within easy reach, including a 9mm Glock.

The soft music may muffled the approaching footsteps enough that an ordinary person would not have heard them, but Vin was anything but ordinary. So when JD ran through the open garage door, slamming it closed behind him, he turned around to find the barrel of the Glock inches from his face.

"Nice entrance," drawled the mechanic behind the gun. JD gulped as he looked cross-eyed at the gun and stammered, "Uhmm, I need to borrow a car?"

"Uh huh," the gun seemed to say, as JD couldn’t drag his gaze from it’s long deadly barrel.

"Look I..." Bullets slammed into garage door and windows, sending a cascade of broken glass to the floor. JD instantly ducked and suddenly found the Glock in his astonished hands as Vin had automatically dropped to the floor when the first bullet hit. He snaked his way towards his workbench on his stomach. The pair waited for a pause in the shooting, and when the men outside stopped to reload, JD and Vin acted simultaneously. Vin reached up under the workbench for the pump-action shotgun strapped to it's underside and JD slapped the hood of the car and shouted, "Start!"

At once the hovercar's engine rumbled to life hovering above the jacks, it's headlights switching on automatically in response to the late evening darkness. Vin aimed at the door hinges and lock and with his first series of shots, sent the wooden door flying, exposing the Grey Agents outside to his returning fire.

More bullets thudded into the workshop at the sound of the car starting to life and JD jumped inside the car, tossing the gun onto the backseat. The passenger door opened on command and JD watched as the mechanic continued to fire at the Greys, his shotgun barking into the night. "Come on! They’re gonna be pissed you shot at them."

"No kidding," Vin muttered as he lay on his side, his shotgun aimed out of the open door. Another volley of bullets - this time shattering all the windows behind them, galvanised him into moving. Firing one last time, Vin jumped into the car and JD shouted, "GO."

In response, the car lurched forward and knocked the double garage doors open, before climbing up into the city sky. Gunshots echoed below them and JD could make out a few of the Greys running out into the open to get a better shot at them. The car rocked slightly and then more violently as bullets thudded into it's underside.

"I know! I know! Just get us there and I promise they'll stop hitting you!" Vin looked at the young man sitting beside him and shook his head as JD continued to talk to the car –because the kid sure as hell wasn't talking to him. "Over there!" JD pointed to a quiet street, about 500 metres away. The car swerved obediently in that direction and Vin checked their progress outside. The garage and Greys had been left behind but Vin knew they would be following quickly. It was amazing that the hovercar had been able to go as far as it did, considering how damaged it had been even before the Greys had taken a few shots at it.

The hovercar shuddered to a stop on the empty street and JD sprang out of the car. "You know were the nearest parking lot is?" Vin pointed to directly behind JD and the young man turned around to see a large truck stop. It was one of the inner-city truck stops that drivers used for the still land-bound trucks. Blushing a little at not having seen the huge trucks already, JD faced Vin again. "Sorry and thanks. Didn't mean to get you involved in this. You better head in the other direction. Sorry."

Vin just sighed and muttered, "Kid, you have no idea," and walked up to JD and gently shoved him towards the truck stop. "You just haven’t got a clue."


Nearly two miles north of the fugitive pursuit, a Grey Force patrol car was circling a high-rise corporate building. It was responding to the silent alarm that had been set off about five minutes ago. Unlike the usual intruder alarms that high-risk corporates used to safe-guard their secrets, this alarm was designed to catch a particular sort of burglar.

The mutant burglar.

And unfortunately for the Greys who had to respond to these calls, it was very, very sensitive. So sensitive in fact, that once the alarm was engaged for the evening, any mutant walking within 10 feet of the building would set it off. GFI, the new party running the American government these days had their research teams developing a more intelligent, but no less sensitive alarm that would only respond if the mutant tried to enter the building. But for the Grey Agents, currently responding to the call, they had no option but to circle and wait for some sign that the alarm was more than just a mutant passing by.

Most mutants who turned to crime, did so because their unique abilities allowed them to circumvent generic alarm systems. According to GFI propaganda, the average mutant, given the chance would be willing and able to commit any crime, but the truth of the matter was a great deal simpler. Mutants, despite their abilities, are still human beings, and just like the rest of the human race, there would always be individuals who were inclined towards criminal activities. Mutant criminals were just able to get away with their more crime easily.

And the mutant currently accessing Detroit Mechanics top-secret military designs, had every intention of escaping scot free. Ezra Standish, who spent his days working in a bank, and his nights crawling across rooftops and opening lucrative safes, carefully placed the disk containing the new plans for a military space-station in the breast pocket of his jump-suit.

His jump-suit was uniquely designed to suit his needs, an old school friend providing the material and skill to create the lightweight suit. The material clung tightly to Standish’s body, it’s various pockets and flaps all designed to touch some part of Ezra’s skin. The suit’s limited space for storage meant that Ezra had to confine his night-time pilfering to objects that could easily be stored without leaving a bump or outline. Because, Ezra P Standish, already in peak physical condition, enjoyed the added benefit of being able to turn himself invisible.

Clothing only in direct in contact with his skin, could also be turned invisible, hence his tight jump-suit. Ezra was well on his way to becoming one of the most successful burglars in history, since the police or rather the Greys didn’t even know that he existed. The spree of mysterious burglaries had most reporters crying ‘Mutant!’ but with no proof of his escapades, save the absence of valuable items, Ezra could comfortably enjoy the fruits of his activities.

Standish had a senior position at the bank, he did his job well and was paid handsomely for it. He lived in an upmarket apartment, overlooking Central Park and had a mansion in Virginia where he spent frequent weekends. What the taxman and his bank didn’t know about, were the cars and motorcycles, even the antique Gulf-stream, all hidden away at his mansion.

As a child, Ezra had always loved reading comics, even the old 20th century ones, and his favourite character had been Batman. While he wouldn’t admit this to anyone, not even to himself, Ezra had created a life for himself that mirrored the old Batman. Rich and respectable by day, Ezra indulged in a ‘alter ego’ life at night – only he wasn’t a crime fighter, he committed it.

And if there was one spot of grey in his otherwise sunny life, it was the new Mutant Registration law. Despite his high power job and elite existence, Ezra had been unable to hide that he was a mutant, because quite simply the luminescent green eyes gave him away. Contact lenses only toned down the vivid green, and a combination of lenses and coloured glasses allowed Ezra to pass unnoticed most of the time. But his employers knew he was a mutant, and it was the reason he had never been offered a vice-presidency at the bank even though he was one of their best and brightest employees.

Standish held no illusions what would happen, now that the GFI had demanded registration and identification of all mutants. His employer, always careful to conform to current public opinion, would quickly use the legislation to remove an already difficult employee. He may be brilliant at his job, but his mutant status had always caused ‘issues’. Clients who refused to do business with the bank, once they found out that Ezra was a mutant, was only one of them. It was also why Ezra indulged in these night-time activities, ensuring his more-than-comfortable life would continue into the future, should anything disastrous occur. And that disaster was knocking on his door.

Ezra slowly moved down the various corridors and rooms of the office building, expertly avoiding thermal sensor arrays and weight-sensitive alarms. He walked right out of the building’s front door, which the Grey Agents had left open when they finally decided to check out the ground floor alarm. And his crime might not ever be noticed, unless some IT genius figured out that someone had copied a great deal of files in the middle of the night. No, Ezra would get away with yet another crime and another substantial amount of money would be added to his slush fund. Another crime, another dollar.

It was just a pity that his ‘respectable’ ego was about to become unemployed.


Chris staggered out of the small liquor store at the truck shop, a brown packet clutched in his hand. He was unshaven, a months worth of beard clinging to his face. Two tightly slitted, bloodshot eyes squinted at the garishly lighted truck stop and Chris hissed in pain as a particularly bright headlight got him full in the face. Muttering a little at the inconsiderate bastard, he pulled his tattered coat around him and staggered forward two steps.

The inconsiderate bastard stepped out of his armoured car and in a single movement, opened fire on a pair of young men running towards the truck stop.

A stream of bullets flew towards JD who felt a solid shove send him to the ground. Vin shouted at JD even as he leapt to his feet, "Get the trucks moving! This guy is mine." Leaving a slightly bewildered JD on the ground, Vin ran towards the shooter, dodging the bullets that were fired at him, with an uncanny ability. The bounty hunter, who had been watching Vin’s garage for weeks, cursed as his valuable bounty reacted faster than he had planned. He reached back into his car for another weapon and his eyes grew wide when he realised that Vin was closing the distance between them too quickly – way too quickly.

JD watched as the mechanic levelled their attacker with one punch. Snapping out of his momentary shock, JD spoke to the trucks around him and got them all started. The entire area was flooded with headlights and conveniently provided the approaching Greys with a clear indication as to were JD had fled. Arriving on the scene, the Greys opened fire at the mechanic who leapt over the car just in time to let the bounty hunter get hit by the bullets.

Another car full of men dressed in grey pulled in from the opposite direction, who all immediately opened fire on Vin. And Chris, hunkered down near one of the gas pumps, came face to face with him as he ducked behind the same gas pump. Giving Chris a wink, Vin pulled a pair of guns as if out of thin air and stood up to return fire. Each of his shots found their mark, sending the surviving Greys under cover. Those agents that had been hit, lay unconscious on the concrete floor oblivious to the furious gunfight in progress. Because more of them were arriving, two grey vans approaching the scene and in the distance, Vin could see several hovercars coming in their direction.

"Hey kid! Time to leave!" JD climbed into one of the massive trucks and nodded vaguely at the call, his concentration bent on speaking to the other trucks.

Lying on the ground, Chris stared up at Vin who was now taking pot-shots at the Greys, unconcerned that he was exposed to returning fire. Small movement out of the corner of his eye, drew Chris' attention. The bounty hunter, not dead as Chris thought, was inching his way towards Vin, a handgun clenched in his fist. Chris flickered a quick glance at the man standing above him, who didn't seem to notice the attack from the rear. So Chris staggered to his knees and was about to shout at Vin to warn him, when the mechanic turned and shot the gun out of the bounty hunter's hand.

Chris knelt, shocked at the smooth reaction and didn't duck in time to avoid the returning fire that Vin seemed oblivious to. One of the shots hit his brown package and the whiskey bottle inside shattered, spraying Chris with it's contents. For a moment, Chris stared at the state of his last five dollars and something inside him snapped. Roaring in anger, the drunk man got to his feet and thrust out his arm towards the nearest group of Greys.

The car the Grey Agents were hiding behind, lifted up off the ground and they all had to scramble backwards to avoid it crashing back on them. The car didn't stop with just the single roll, it barrelled down the street for a few metres, before coming to a metal-crunching stop.

Team Leader Matthews was hunkered down behind a flimsy trashcan, wondering why he was trusting his life to a thin piece of metal. Hefty hovercars didn't seem to phase the mutants currently wrecking havoc at the gas station and here he was hoping that the tin metal of the can would somehow keep him safe. Shaking his head in dismay, Matthews wondered how a simple mission of retrieving their target mutant had suddenly evolved into a stand-off with three mutants, one who seemed bent on causing as much destruction as possible. Well, at least judging by the insignia on the approaching hovercars, he was about to be relieved of his command - which was just fine with him. Let someone else take the blame for this. Matthews ducked further down behind his trashcan as a series of tyres and oil cans sailed over his head to thud against the arriving hovercars.

JD finally had all the trucks ready and clambered up into his chosen vehicle. The cab of the massive truck was surprisingly clean, it's owner probably hiding in the diner behind the gas station. Speaking to the truck, JD got it started and all around him, the other trucks started their engines as well. He chanced a quick look out of the windscreen and watched in shock as the mechanic and some hobo-looking mutant efficiently kept the Greys at bay. Working in tandem, the pair stopped Grey re-enforcement’s from aiding their colleagues pinned around the gas station.

The hobo would toss cars, or anything available at the Greys, while the mechanic methodically eliminated any return fire. If not for the fact that JD knew the pair had only just met, unless by some bizarre co-incidence they knew each other, their ability to work together was uncanny. It would have had to have been, what with waging a mini-war on several sides and being outnumbered. The hobo would toss a car or a bunch of tyres while the mechanic covered his back and then the pair swoppred, the mechanic firing at the Greys scrambling for cover after the hobo had exposed them.

JD checked the skyline and groaned as more Grey Hovercars were coming into view. Time to leave.

Vin ducked onto one knee and fired his last clip at the trio of Greys hiding behind some trashcans. His unexpected ally was tiring, no longer able to toss cars around, but seemingly content to throw just about anything that wasn't nailed down at the approaching Greys. Vin tossed the empty weapon aside and stood to meet the initial onslaught that would attack them the moment the guy wasn't able to cover all angles. Where the hell had the kid gotten to?

A metallic moan drew Vin's attention to the gas pump beside him. Miraculously none of the pumps had been hit, or the little fire-fight would have ended in one gas-station fuelled fire-ball. A long dent was beginning to form down the entire pump as if an invisible door was slowly being closed against the pump. In fact all of the pumps and metal plating behind the blond were experiencing the same pressure. Guessing the guy was loosing control and was either about to collapse or ignite an explosion, Vin moved to get his attention.

Chris felt his energy waning, but pressed on, his anger in no way diminished by a few minutes of mayhem. He was about to gather enough strength to knock the hovering cars back, when he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. As he turned to lash out at his attacker, Vin socked him cleanly on the jaw and Chris collapsed into Vin's waiting arms. JD pulled up in front of them at that moment, covering them from the Greys. Vin pulled Chris up with him into the passenger side of the cab and nodded at JD.

Gripping the steering wheel tightly JD shouted, "Let's go!" In response all the trucks in the vicinity moved forward. Totalling seven, the lead driver-less trucks crashed through the haphazard barricade and moved out onto the inter-state highway on-ramps. Driving in the middle of the trucks were JD, Vin and Chris and of their own accord each of the trucks split off at various inter-changes and trundled away, leaving the Greys scattering to try and follow them. Having to chase seven different trucks initially, all of them getting further and further away, would hopefully aid the fugitives escape. At least that was what JD hoped.


The trio inside the truck were silent. Chris, still unconscious, was the only one not to feel a little uncomfortable now that the immediate danger had passed. JD didn't know where to look, since the truck was taking care of itself and as much as he wanted to stare at his companions, he didn't want to be rude. Vin, on the other hand, was not above a little surreptitious studying. Since Chris was in no position to be offended and the kid was too busy trying 'not' to look, Vin was able to indulge his curiosity uninhibited.

The smell wafting off Chris and the general state of unkemptness told Vin most of what he needed to know about him. A mutant who had either fallen on hard times or was purposefully wallowing in squalor to avoid attention. Either way, it was doubtful he would protest a change in locale, considering his spectacular display of ability earlier. The kid, however, was definitely not down on his luck - yet. Top of the range clothes and shoes, along with the latest trendy hairstyle - hair just a little too long and an over-large earring marked the kid as upper-class. Young enough to think that just getting out of Dodge would solve his problems and old enough to be wondering how he had suddenly attracted two allies.

Usually one content to just let life come at him and deal with it as it arrived, Vin figured it was time for some introductions before the kid got the truck to dump him out and took off on his own.

"The name's Vin, kid," and he stuck out his hand towards JD, who really didn't need to be holding onto the steering wheel so tightly. Smiling hesitantly, JD shook Vin's hand and said, "JD. Sorry about all that .. and this..., " waving his hand to indicate the truck. "I didn't mean to get you involved."

Vin just shrugged and said, "Was planning on moving on anyway, just hadn't figured on doing it so soon or so ... spectacularly."

"They after you too?" JD guessed, eyeing Chris who was mumbling in his sleep.

"The Greys? Before - no. Now - yes."

"Sorry," JD mumbled, but Vin shook his head, and said, "They would have got ‘round to me eventually. Don't think any mutant is safe these days."

"Yeah," JD agreed sadly, thinking about the new legislation. "And who was that guys shooting at you?"

Straightening a little as Chris began to stir, Vin muttered, "Just someone working for some old friends real keen to be re-acquainted. Look kid, can we continue this later - I think grizzly here is about to wake up and he ain't gonna be too happy with me."

Chris peeled one eye open, the head-ache from earlier still lingering and now joined by a sharp ache in his jaw. Having long since stopped caring where he happened to be when he woke up, Chris was a little surprised to find himself in the cab of a long-haul truck, sitting next to two vaguely familiar young men. And as the events of the last half-hour slowly crept up on him and started knocking on the doors of his awareness, Chris growled, "You damn-well hit me!"

Vin just grinned and explained, "You were about to send us all sky high - though it might be best."

Rubbing his jaw Chris grunted and said, "Who's the squirt? Better yet, who the hell are you?"

Somewhat miffed at being referred to as a 'squirt' JD piped up, "I'm JD and this is Vin. Thanks for helping out back there."

Chris just grunted as he shifted in the seat trying to get more comfortable. Finally he settled for resting his head against the window, leaving a greasy head-print on the glass and hissed at JD, "Hell kid, I couldn't give a damn about helping you. Those pricks wasted my last bottle and ..." Chris just trailed off staring out at the road below him, "Just let me off next stop, alright?"

"Ah sure... mister."

Vin studied Chris' thin haggard face, surprised at the lack of drive from the man. The guy had been spitting nails ten minutes ago over a broken bottle and now he acted like he couldn't even raise the energy to care where they were going. It seemed that staying alive was low on his list of priorities with getting drunk being the only other item on the list. "Hate to say it, but we ain't stopping for a good while yet." Chris just closed his eyes, and blocked out the voices. He didn't care.

JD however was interested in a little more information and blurted, "You know where we're going?" Vin nodded, "Unless you have any other ideas - I got a place we can head to."

JD shook his head, he had no idea where to go now that the city was behind him. He hadn't been out of Greater Manhattan ever - and now he was headed ... somewhere. "And where are we going?" Vin didn't look at JD as he answered, his attention fixed on Chris who was now sleeping uncomfortably. "Somewhere safe, but first we gotta ditch this truck."

The truck gave a startled lurch at this suggestion and JD just smiled. "We'll leave you somewhere safe, don't worry."

"We will?"

JD flushed and mumbled, "Sorry - I was talking to the truck, I thought you..." JD looked up to see Vin smiling at him kindly, and the red in his cheeks grew even bigger. "Guess you've figured out what I can 'do'." Vin nodded and JD continued, "I can talk to machines - well anything with a computer chip in it. Old pre-AI stuff is beyond me - but since everything these days is run by some computer, I can talk to them all. And get them to do what I want."

"Must make for some interesting conversations."

"Nahh... they're all pretty much the same. But I still wouldn't feel right about leaving him out in the middle of nowhere."

Vin leant back, his elbow resting against the headrest, his hand cradling his head as he turned to face JD completely. "Talk to some computer you weren't supposed to?"

Startled JD gasped, "How did you...?"

Cocking a wry eyebrow at JD's protest, Vin said, "Not every day that some teen-mutant manages to bring down the entire Grey-Force on his head. Musta been some conversation."

"Oh yeah," JD drawled, suddenly pleased that he had someone to boast to about his latest escapade. Afterall, this wasn't just some small time prank. Ok, it had started out as simple hack job - get in and tell some fancy organisation computer to send all it's users rude emails but this computer had been full of a whole lot more than spreadsheets and accounts. "I spoke to the controlling operating system of the GFI and it..."

"GFI!" Vin interrupted.

"Yeah, "JD preened slightly at the amazed expression on Vin's face, "It wasn't that hard - the OS was desperate to talk to somebody..."

"Are you out of your mind?!" JD's face fell at the anger in Vin's voice, and the young man paled as Vin continued, "They are never going to just let you go - they are going to chase you to the ends of the earth kid. GFI is 'everything' - every mutant ever registered, every byte of data collected on us, every name, every face they know. And you accessed it. Even if you found nothing - it's not going to matter - they are going to hunt you down."

"But.. but.."

"No buts! They can't afford to risk that you mighta found out something. They'll just kill you and anyone you happen to be with."

"Vin! I.. didn't mean .. I never..." Realisation hit JD like a semi colliding with a wall. The Greys were just the first wave, GFI was a lot more that just the Grey Force. "And now they have every legal option to hunt us down - not like they ever needed it before."

JD sank back in dismay, his euphoria at brushing with the law, in tangling just a little bit with the government, died as his situation sank in. He did know something - something important and the GFI were notorious for ruthlessly pursuing their enemies. He had been so scared when the OS told him about the plans for the registration, that he had just run, not taking the time to convince the OS not to tell anyone about him. And as he ran, all the alarms set up to stop ordinary hackers went off, alerting the Greys to his presence. So he had just continued to run. And was stilling running.

"This changes everything - we gotta dump this thing at dawn and go on foot as quickly as possible. How long will those other trucks go without you near them."

JD gulped and said, "Not far – they’ll get slower and slower the further they get from me and..."

"And soon this truck will be the only one moving. Damn." Vin looked at the horizon, noting that dawn was still a few hours away. It wouldn't take the GFI long to have cars after them. The sooner they disappeared the better. Checking if Chris was still asleep, Vin noticed that the blond was a little too still to be completely out of it. He must have heard the conversation and hopefully knew how much trouble they were in. Vin didn't want to waste time arguing when it came time to leave the truck.

Wednesday morning:

"The hell I am!"

"We don't have time for this – you’re coming with us. Now."

JD had brought the truck to a stop on one of the mountain roads shortly before dawn. Tall forests surrounded either side of the road and Vin was eager to leave the truck and disappear into the forests. JD had given the truck enough impetus to see itself to the nearest town and Chris looked set to follow it.

Chris shoved Vin away from him and tried to walk away from the truck. But his legs weren't too steady and the bright early sunlight wasn't helping. Before he had managed more than two steps, a stubborn obstacle in the form of Vin was in front of him. "Outta my way!" and Chris tried to push Vin but nothing happened. "Figure you ain't angry enough to do anything - bud so ..."

Chris tried again, this time summoning all the residual anger that he toted around with him like an extra limb and physically tried to punch Vin in the face. His aim was a little off and his fist landed on Vin's chest. Even though Chris had managed to pack a little more into the punch, Vin didn't move an inch and Chris ended up nursing his fist, wincing at the smart. Damn, it felt like punching a wall.

"We can stand here until I whip your ass and then have to carry your sorry butt up the mountain, but you are coming with us."

Chris looked at the man in front of him, trying to get a read on him. Fairly tall, although shorter than Chris himself, dressed in tight, grease stained jeans and black T-shirt, he looked incredibly fit and judging by both the muscles and the ache in his jaw and fist - very strong. Shaggy was a good word to describe him, his hair in the process of growing out of a much more severe cut, leaving curls and locks over his ears and touching the base of his neck. Rather than make him look young or weak, the long hair gave more of an impression of something going wild, escaping the unwanted confines of civilisation. But it was his eyes, that held Chris - startling blue eyes that revealed nothing and everything. "Ya done staring or you going to ask me out?"

Grimacing at the cocky bastard Chris growled, "The only thing I'm asking you is to get outta my way, you prissy..."

The rest of the sentence was cut off by Vin's fist slamming into Chris' face, - again. But Chris was prepared this time, and rolled with the punch and came back swinging. He sent a thundering right into Vin's rib-cage and bit back a grunt as his fist came away the loser in that conflict. Using the pain to ignite his anger, Chris snarled in fury and managed to toss Vin just as Vin landed his own punch to Larabee's gut. Both men were sent flying, but Vin got up immediately, shaking his head slightly at the force Chris could deliver when he finally got worked up enough.

Chris climbed slowly to his feet, not expecting Vin to come at him as quickly as he did. Usually when Chris tossed someone, they stayed down. Not this time and Chris rocked back to the ground when Vin's punch caught him on the cheekbone. Vin flew backwards as Chris retaliated and the blond had to scramble to his feet as Vin instantly came at him again. Grabbing a felled log that had been left on the roadside, Chris hurled it at Vin, desperate to give himself some time before he was in his face again. As the log arced towards Vin, the mechanic fisted his right hand and three foot-long claws extended from between his knuckles. Back-handing the log, the claws split the wood in five uneven pieces which fell to the ground at Vin's feet.

Vin cocked his head to the side and raised his eyebrows at Chris, as if challenging him to try again. Chris had taken several steps backwards as the claws materialised from Vin's fist, his face unreadable while JD could only manage a strangled, "Cool!"

Noting the intensified posture in the blond, Vin retracted his claws and took a few steps forward, "I think you know what these mean and I damn well hope that you understand, that when I say, we gotta go, I know what I'm talking about."

JD was astonished to see Chris nod tersely in agreement. None of the tension between the two men lessened in the slightest, in fact it increased as Chris followed Vin into the forest. Taken aback at how suddenly it had all ended, JD quickly sent the truck on it's way and hurried to follow the strange pair.


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