Cattin' Around Chapter 13:  North to Alaska
by Cobalt-Blue
Author's note:  I always appreciate feed back.  I can be reached at
   Over the next few years, things just got worse and worse for transhumans.  I could really see the signs of the things to come that Ridvin warned me about so many years ago in that last night of passion we'd been granted by the Lord of the Alfs.  More and more transhumans were showing up in the world, and the debate about what to do with us started to heat up.  Some wanted to register us as dangerous weapons, others wanted to sterilize us, to keep the gene from spreading, and still others wanted to force us into military service.  

    It was this last idea that really came into debate in the UN.   They started making noises about us being natural resources, that the US was a rich country, too rich in its possession of so many transhumans while the rest of the world was trans-poor.  They started a debate about who should control the disposition of this resource.  It was suggested that all transhumans be turned over to the UN to be stationed around the world to best serve the needs of the whole planet.  The problem with their idea was that nobody asked us transhumans- we were simply to be turned over and be assigned to work no matter what we wanted out of our lives.

    They even unveiled their own team- UNIPACT (United Nations International Parahuman Acquisition and Combat Team).  The first team was known as UNIPACT Prime and word had already come down from on high that they were known to kidnap transhumans.  At this point it wasn't as bad as it was going to get, but we knew that we couldn't trust them, and they knew that they were unwelcome in the US.  It couldn't be proven but we all knew that they had tried to capture members of the Pacifica School team that went to Kuwait to help put out the oil fires there. (See File: A Gathering of Gatherings)

    Then they pulled a fast one.  At the time we had no idea how they got it past the Security Council.  Our ambassador, our representative on the Security Council, had explicit instructions to veto any such resolution, but he simply sat quietly when the vote came, and said nothing.   They passed a resolution banning the service of transhumans in any military other than UN Peacekeeping forces  or the UNIPACT Teams.  

    The President, you know the one with problems defining the word "is", caved.  He ordered the immediate removal of all transhumans serving in the military.  Fortunately, someone at the Pentagon still had a little sense, and gave us the option of honorable discharge with full medical benefits or being transferred to the newly formed Division of Special Intelligence. 

    Commander Heller, also known as Anchor, and a classmate of mine at the Academy chose to retire.  Me? I got a good deal.  I got to keep my seniority and even my rank and rate.  I transferred to the DSI, but maintained my dual status as an operative for the Department of Nocturnal Affairs.  It was a win-win situation for me and General Presley who moved over to take command of the newly-formed agency.    Best of all, it meant that I got to spend more time at home.  No more sea duty.

    I'd come off several intense missions that had really drained me.  First was dealing with a European vampire that didn't want to play by the rules.  Then Russian Winter and I tangled again- this time in Russian Georgia.  One of these days, that particular Jotun and I are going to finish things once and for all.  Then I was given a job by My Lady that made absolutely no sense to me what so ever.  It was basically to sit in on meetings and make a few suggestions to the right people about a specific company in Florida that got them a computer contract with the Navy..  She didn't tell me what it was about just what I had to do.  I of course did it, even though it meant using more than just a little rune magic.  In the end the company got the contract.  All She would tell me was that it was important.

    My next assignment turned out to a bit of a surprise.  Granted I ended up feeling like Ian Flemming's most famous character by the time it was over.  But, there's a lot to be said for a good fight, followed by good sex, and then another chance to kick the ass of several people you hate.   Too bad it cost us one of our best.

    Something went down in wilds of Alaska, right in the middle of Brooks Range.  It was late September, and the snow had already begun to fly.   Okay, when I said something went down, what I meant was, something was shot down. Evidently it was shot down over Russia, and made a controlled crash across the Bering Straight and into Alaska. Whomever was piloting it wanted to land as far away from the Russians as they could. Can't say I blamed them.

    As for what it was, it was evidently extra-terrestrial, and very hot.  Satellite images showed it embedded in the face of a glacier that fed the headwaters of the Kobuk River.  It was so hot that on thermal imaging it stood out against the cold of the glacial cirque.  One problem we were facing was that with the weather deteriorating, there was no way using standard insertion techniques to get anyone in there quickly.  The other problem was that the same satellite imaging showed what looked like a high-tech UN aerial transport already in there ahead of us.  How they got it there, I had no idea.   The answer to that question would cause all transhumans in the free world major problems for the next ten years.

    I'd been pulled out off a mission deep in the desert near Riyadh, and flown all the way to Fairbanks in a matter of eight hours.  That told me it was important.  There, I got to meet my two teammates for this mission.  It was going going to be an all transhuman team.  That could mean either being able cut loose with our powers or a high stealth mission.  Both of my teammates made an immediate impression on me.

    The first was tall well- built brown-haired man in his late twenties.  He was dressed in an  crimson body suit that suggested a very toned form underneath.  He had a strong jaw and piercing hazel eyes that seemed to see right through you.  He was introduced to me as Lieutenant Victor Sanders US Army, code named Crimson.  There was an implied "former" to the Lieutenant, meaning that evidently he got the same deal out of the DSI as I did.  Ironically enough, as a member of Shadow Force, in ten years I would work rather close with his brother and would mentor his niece Tori when she became a member of Storm Force.

    The other was a tall woman with long raven hair and dark violet eyes.  She was built like Angelina Jolie on a good day, and something about her confused the crap out of me.  She gave off all the vibes of a vampire, but she was definitely living.  I could hear her heart beat, and we were standing in the bright sunlight when we first met. She was dressed in crimson and black that hugged her form in very interesting ways. Her name was Doctor Amethyst Yarr, codenamed Onyx.  

    There was an instant attraction for all three of us- across the board. I could feel it, and I could see it in their eyes as we studied each other.  There was a hunger and desire in their gaze with the promise of passion.  I was thinking that when this mission was over, things could get interesting.  I just didn't know that would happen far sooner than that.  The cold nights of Alaska can drive even hardiest of transhumans to seek body heat- and that can always lead to more interesting ways of keeping warm.

    Turns out both of my companions were teleporters of considerable power.  The plan was for them to study the satellite images, use whatever far-seeing powers they had combined with my own magical skills to "lock" onto the ship, and teleport us there.  Unfortunately, something went wrong. We couldn't get any closer than about five miles from it.  No matter how hard we tried, something kept shunting us off to the side.  

     We made our way through the five miles of hard terrain in about three hours.  Just before sunset, we found ourselves looking down on what was basically a heavy troop carrier as UN soldiers were unloading equipment and supplies at the base of the glacier.  Several men were preparing to ascend the sheer wall of ice.

    "How in the hell did they get that thing in here?" I asked indicating the troop carrier we'd seen on the satellite pics.  It wasn't like anything that the general public was likely to see.  It was very high-tech and boxy looking.  It was obvious that its design was not based on any kinds of aerodynamics, but instead of something that could ignore concepts like lift and drag.  To be honest it reminded me of one of the "Eagles" from the old Space:1999 series.  A small conical nose sat on the front of a what was basically a box.  A gantry stretched around either side and across the top of the box to form a mounting for some kind of short engine array in the back. It was obviously designed to be modular. 

    Onyx looked down at them for a second. I felt a slight buzzing against my mental shields and then her probe fluttered off to find her target. After about five seconds, she whistled lowly.  "They teleported it in about five miles from here.  Evidently, UNIPACT Prime has a powerful teleporter on the team."

    "We have to take it and the radio out first," I said.  " Also, I don't want it getting into the air, and I don't want them getting any messages off to UNIPACT."

    Crimson said, "Leave the radio part to me."  He looked at me and said, "You do realize that we're about to attack an organization that is technically an ally."

    I nodded and said, "They're an unauthorized military force on American soil, carrying out some kind of covert operation.  If you remember that oath we took as military officers, I'd say it still applies- whether we are still attached to the military or not."

    He grinned hugely at me.  I could tell he was thinking the same way I was.  "Just wanted to make sure you were clear about it, Commander."

    I nodded and said, "I'm clear."

    "Now how do you want to get down there without being seen?" Onyx asked.  We can't teleport."

    I looked down the long slope below us.  It was steep and open and even in this low light, there would be no way to get down it without being seen. We needed to hit fast and hard.  I looked at both of them and said, "You can't fly can you?"

    Onyx nodded her head and said, "I can fly telekinetically."

    "I can do more than fly," Crimson said as he faded from my sight.  I could still smell him, I could hear the sound of his breathing and his heart beat, but he was totally invisible.  "I have a few enhancements beyond just teleportation," he said as he faded back into sight.  I was going to have to speak to General Presley about getting more information on my squad's abilities before being sent into a mission.

    I grinned broadly and said, "Good."  Looking at Onyx I asked.  "How long will it take you to fly around the valley to the other side of the and come down from directly above the glacier?"

    She seemed to think about it for a second and finally she said, "Give me five minutes."

    Looking at Crimson, I asked, "And how long will it take you to get all the way down there and be in position to attack?"

    "Three minutes, tops," he said.

    I nodded and grinned.  Looking at Onyx I said, "I want you to hit the climbers first.  Keep them away from that craft.  Your secondary target it sat-dish they've got set up."  She returned my nod and waited for me to finish.  I turned to Victor and said, "Crimson, I want you to take out the sat-phone, and the RM. Got it?"
    He nodded back and said, "They won't know what hit them."

    I grinned hugely, "Oh yes they will. They just won't be able to do anything about it.  I want you guys to get in and out of there as quickly as possible.  I don't want you getting hurt.  I'm going to take out the troop transport."

    "How?" Onyx asked.

    "I'm going to jump on it, and then take out its engines.  We may need the fuselage for later,"  I told them and thought about my strategies.  The linear distance across the valley was almost a mile. However we were high enough from the transport that I should be able to take running leap and hit it.  It would take me about a minute to reach the bottom.   Looking down at my watch I said, "I want you to start your descent in five minutes, from my mark Onyx.  Crimson, I want you to start yours in  two minutes.  I'll start mine in four.  Does everyone understand?"

    They set their own watches and nodded.  "Any questions?"

    "Nothing that can't wait until later," Onyx said with an enigmatic grin.

    I smiled and said, "Okay.  Mark!"  

    Onyx took to the air and zipped off surprisingly fast for a telekinetic flier.  I shouldered our packs and looked at Crimson and asked, "You're not allergic to cats are you?"

    He shook his head and headed toward the edge of the cliff.   "I like cats," he said with a grin that told me a hell of a lot more than words did.

    "Be careful," I told him.

    "Trust me Commander, I'm a big boy.  I can take care of myself," he told me.

    The two minutes it took for him to be ready to leave seemed to take a lifetime.  The last two before I took my leap drug on forever.  As soon as he had disappeared from sight, I shifted up to my full battle form.  By now I had reached my maximum height and weight.  Emory told me that I had gone from being a big magecat to being simply "stupid big".  I stood a just six inches shy of twenty five feet and my mass was nearly four tons.  

    I backed up from the cliff and leapt.  I could feel the "drop" in my stomach as I launched myself out into the fading light.   The air was cold, and bit at my fur as made a long arc across the Alaskan sky to descend onto the top of the carrier.

    Four tons falling from a height of two thousand feet, at terminal velocity.  You do the math.  I crashed through the back of the gantry near the engines.   I felt the great ship rock underneath the force of my hitting it, as the front end was lifted off the ground.  Isstonn sliced through the housing connecting the engines to the gantry and the front end fell forward again with a loud crash.  

    Before anyone could react, before they could realize that the giant cat-like shadow that was towering over them was a threat, I had finished doing my number on the engines.  I figured, that the science boys back at NASA would love to take a look at whatever technology the UN had, so I was careful not to damage the engine itself.

    Suddenly I felt several searing lances of pain.  Looking down, I could see what looked like lasers hitting my skin.  It wasn't penetrating my transhuman durability, but because it was basically heat and fire, the nocturnal side of me reacted to it.  

    Trying to ignore the pain, I advanced wincing with each shot.  Someone screamed in French, "Le lasers le blessent!  Conservation du tir!"  <The lasers are hurting him!  Keep shooting!>

    With a loud scream of "Iss!" I slashed Isstonn down and pointed her at them.  Ever since that battle with Fer Forge` when the Moroccan villainess tried to take control of her, Isstonn had hated anything to do with the French and the French language.  To say that her blast was powerful is an understatement.  Within a half second, ice crystals were forming on the UN soldiers.    The lasers began to dissipate as they hit the much colder, much denser air between us.

   It became a battle of wills. Could they stand the cold longer than I could stand the heat.  In the end it was Crimson who made the difference.  With all eyes concentrating on the big weretiger and his ice sword, Crimson was able to slip up behind each one of them.  I watched as one by one they stopped firing and their bodies jerked once and fell to the ground.  I looked closely and could see where it looked like the energy packs to the lasers that they were wearing on their backs had been merged with their bodies.  There was very little blood as it froze the instant it hit the air.

    A pair of screams caught my attention and I looked over to see the forms of two soldiers falling from the ice, their safety ropes and pitons trailing behind them.  Onyx floated above them on the air with a grim look on her face.  This was a woman who did not enjoy killing.  I could respect that.

    From that point on, the fight became brutal, nasty, and short.  They never really stood a chance.  We were three highly trained powerful transhumans.  Even their advanced technology could not make them a match for us.  
    By the time the sun had finished setting in the south west, and the last streams of red and purple had disappeared from the sky leaving only the inky blackness of the snow clouds, the fight was over.  No quarter had been asked and none had been offered.  They knew their incursion into the US was a violation of our borders and they knew that even if they were taken prisoner and interrogated, that the UN would disavow them and leave them to face execution as terrorists or spies.  

    "What do you want to do with the bodies?" Onyx asked.

    "We can't leave them out in the open like this,"  I said as I shifted down to my true-form.  Again I caught the appraising looks from both of my teammates.

    "A decent burial? That doesn't fit your reputation, Runeclaw," Crimson said.  

    "It has nothing to do with reputation," I told him.  "There are wolves in these mountains, and this would be a feast for them.  I'd rather not have to fight off a pack on top of whatever the UN sends to check on them.  Help me gather them up and we'll bury them under the snow.  By the time the Spring thaw comes, they can feed the grizzlies and other animals."   He nodded to me and we set to the grisly task.  
    The cleanup duty didn't take nearly as long it seemed like it would.  Turns out that one of Crimson's other powers was density control.  That's what he did to the soldiers: slipped up behind them, desolidified and shoved their power packs into their backs and let go.  The merger of the high energy packs with their spinal columns killed them almost instantly.    It also made cleanup easy because he would do the same thing to their bodies and sink them into the ground.  

    Onyx and I were the only ones who could see in the dark, and decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to try and get to the alien craft tonight.  She knew that the UN force wasn't due to check in until noon tomorrow.   Hopefully, by that time, we could make it to the craft, secure what we needed, and call in a Sikorsky lifter to take it to Minot.    We also decided to use the what was left of the UN transport for shelter for the night.  I'd severed its engines and damaged its batteries with Issstonn, but at least it would keep the wind off us.

    Onyx and I set up our proximity sensors around the craft so we'd know if anyone approached us.  Although we knew that the UN had their teleporter, Onyx had been able to glean from the minds of the commanders she'd scanned that they too were unable to teleport directly here.  Anyone approaching would still have to do it from either land or air.  Since we set several of the sensors in the side of the glacier, we could get a bit of a warning of their approach.

    As we worked on that, Crimson was building a fire in the hull of the transport to try and keep it warm.  We didnt bother with trying to fix the batteries.  None of us had that kind of technical knowledge.  We were here to secure the area, not do research.

   Between the sensors, my own enhanced senses- I had decided to stay in my trueform- and Onyx's own psionics we knew it was okay to sleep.   Nobody was going to sneak up on this position without us knowing it. Still, as we settled into the thermal sleeping bags we were all still too wary and too wired to sleep.  I kept seeing those looks I was getting from my teammates in my mind.  

    I dont' know what it was.  Maybe the fact that I hadn't seen Emory in almost six months- Skytreader's balls, I hadn't had any company but my own in almost that long- maybe it was simply the after-effects of the fight, but I was horny as a teenager on prom night.  I must have lain there for nearly an hour before I heard a low sigh and the sound of someone slipping out of their sleeping bag.

    Looking up, I saw Amy slipping out of her clothes as she reached down and touched Victor's shoulder.  She smiled over at me and said in a low voice.  "All three of us are too wired to sleep, all three of us are feeling the same thing, and none of us are going to get any sleep until we get some relief and answer a few questions."

    Vic and she exchanged glances.  One of the disadvantages of the form fitting costumes that so many transhumans liked to wear is that they tend to show off a lot more than intended if they aren't padded in a particular way.  That's really why some of the men wear briefs over the bodysuits- to hide their hard-ons.  Well, I could definitely see the outline of Vic's manhood in the front of his, and it looked impressive.  He blushed and looked over at me.  "You too?"

    I nodded, laughed and said, "You were the one who talked about reputations.  Didn't you know about mine?"

    He shook his head and said, "I didn't think it applied to men."

    Amy leaned down and whispered into his ear, "It applies to everybody.  If it moves, Commander Greenbough will bed it."

    "I'm not quite that promiscuous, but I do have a certain reputation.  If I were a woman, I'd be considered a slut."  I shrugged,  "In a man it's a sign of prowess," I told him.

    He raised an eyebrow at me, as I lay the edge of my sleeping bag back to show the hard outline of my manhood in the BDUs into which I had changed .  With a smile, he rose from where he was lying and pulled his bag over next to mine.  Amy picked up her bag, unzipped it and followed.  In the low light, I could see where the cold air was making her dark nipples stand up.

    In a matter of minutes, we'd laid the three bags down on the floor.   I looked at the fire.  It was not putting out enough heat or light to make this comfortable.  Someone could end up with frost bite in embarrassing places.  I "popped a claw" and drew it along the metal floor forming the rune "Kenaz".  Then raking it across my own hand, I filled it with blood.  As I did this, I saw Amy's eyes grow wide with hunger.  I just smiled as I filled the rune.  I whispered the spell and released my will.  

    The effect was immediate as the transport began to warm.  Amy smiled at me and said, "You could have done that earlier and saved us a cold first half the night."

    I laughed and said, "I'm wary about opening a vein around one such as yourself."

    She grinned showing her fangs, "Generally a good policy, but I prefer my blood undead."

    I raised an eyebrow at that.  It seemed that she and my friend Walther Stone had more in common than I thought.  I briefly wondered if she was a damphir herself.  However, I was distracted as Vic began sliding out of his body suit.  Both Amy and I were impressed with his well-chiseled body as he pulled the top of the suit over his head.  Working the bottoms off, he revealed a circumcised dick the likes I haven't seen since Ridvin.  The thing was nearly a foot long and the shaft was over two inches across, the head was even bigger.  It looked like he had a table leg sticking out over his balls.  He blushed at us and said, "Like I said earlier, I'm a big boy."

    "That you are," Amy said as she lay down beside me and gestured toward Vic.  Then turning to me, she said, "You going to stay in that uniform?"

    "Hell no," I told her as I began to strip.  Both of their eyes watched me closely as I pulled off my clothes.   

    Onyx grinned hugely and said, "I wondered if the fur went all the way down."  

    I shook my head and said, "No.  Ironically enough, I have less body hair in my natural form than in my human form."

    "Natural form?" Vic asked as slipped in between us.    His body was hard, chiseled and hot.  Even after the exertion of our fight, his scent was still light and airy, but definitely male.  He twisted so that he was facing Amy, presenting me with his broad back, and his well-muscled bubble shaped butt.

    I nodded as I shucked my pants and said, "Yeah.  This is the form I was born in.  My human form is an affected one, one where I make my ears and tail go away.   Oddly enough, in that form, I have more body hair than this one."  I stretched out behind him as Amy turned and looked at me over his shoulder.   "You sure about this?" I asked.

    She nodded and I could see her hands reaching between her and Vic.   "Oh yeah.  I'm sure about it.  It's been a while, and this is going to take some getting used to, but I'm sure about it."

    Vic began kissing along the side of her neck as I reached over his hip and found where Amy had his dick in hand and was rubbing its head along her sex.  Even in this low light, I could see quite well, and smiled at the moist glisten of her fluids on the tight raven curls surrounding her pussy.  Evidently she wasn't a woman who trimmed. Maybe it was from personal choice, or maybe just from lack of a request from a lover.

    I stroked the length of flesh between them and Vic groaned and adjusted his butt so that my own hard cock was lying between his ass cheeks.   With a quick squeeze, I let go and began to kiss down the broad expanse of his back.  When I reached the base of his spine I began to knead the globes of his butt.   With one hand I reached between his legs and found the substantial set of balls lying against his thigh and massaged them gently.  Suddenly I felt something moist and furry brush against the back of my hand and realized that Amy had thrown a leg of his hip and pushed herself down on the length of his hard dick.  

    I smiled to myself and continued to dip my face lower as he twisted over on top of her, to make his thrusts more comfortable for her.  As he did, his legs opened up and gave me access to his hole.  I ran my tongue from the base of his balls up along his ass and probed his opening.  I felt him shudder under me.  "Ah, that's intense," he hissed between clenched teeth.   "Keep that up and I won't last very long."

    "What, nobody has ever prepared you for this?" I asked amused. 

    "Nobody's ever done this with me," he said.

    "You've never been with a man before?" Amy asked through bated breath as Vic slowly pushed in and out of her.

    He shook his head as I climbed his back with kisses.  "No.  I've always wanted to try it, but my military service sort of prevented that."

    "We're not bound by DADT anymore," I said.

    "Like you ever were?" Amy replied as I scooted around so I was in front of them, dick rampant and leaking precum.  

    I came up on my knees and presented the glistening head of my cock, the foreskin pushed back about halfway, to Vic and said, "Then, you're probably going to want to lube this up really well then."  He just grinned at me and reached over and started licking around the head as if testing the taste.  After a moment, he must have decided he liked it because he he took about half of my seven inches into his mouth before I felt his gag reflex kick in.  "Take it easy," I told him. "And watch your teeth.  The heads of uncut dicks are somewhat more sensitive than cut ones."

    He nodded up to me with an unspoken apology and went back to work. It wasn't long before we started to develop a rhythm, and giving Vic something to concentrate on must have backed him off the edge a bit.  When I was sure that he was deep into what he was doing with Amy, I pulled out and worked my way behind him where his ass was now thrusting into her with a lot more vigor.

    I grabbed a double handful of his ass, and opened up is crack.  A quick application of spit to his hole and I started to work a finger inside him.  When I felt that I had loosened him up enough, I spit on my cock and lined up.  I entered him in one long thrust as he drove into Amy.  I felt him stiffen under me and whispered into his ear.  "Don't move. Let yourself get used to it."

    He nodded and after a few moments took a few small tentative back strokes against Amy to see how it felt.  He seemed to like it and I began to fuck him with long smooth strokes. Again, we built a rhythm.  Amy was already trembling all over as Vic's monster cock was filling her with more dick than most women would ever get.  I sped up enjoying the feeling of his tight no longer virgin ass against the base of my own dick.  It didn't take long before I felt his ass clamp down on me and he grunted.  

    That was all I needed.    I let loose with a blast of hot ropey cum deep in his bowels as I felt my claws bite through the sleeping bags and into the metal deck below us.  We lay there like that for a long time, him embedded in Amy, and me inside him.  

    After a while the cold began to get to us and we snuggled in tight with the sleeping bags wrapped around us.  It was a pleasant way to spend a cold Alaskan night and I think we all had plans for a repeat performance after the mission was over.  

    However, when the morning sun peeked over the southern horizon, we all knew it was time to get to work.  The days were getting shorter and we didn't have a very long window of opportunity.  By the time  the sun was was glistening off the glacial ice, we were standing under it looking up, trying to figure out the best way to approach the craft that was embedded in it.

    It was a good five hundred feet in the air, and we could just make out the  area where steam was rising off the ice as it melted its way deeper into the glacier.   Crimson looked at me, grinned and asked, "Why am I suddenly reminded of an old sci-fi movie with James Arnez?" 

    I laughed and said, "Aren't you a little young to remember that version of that movie?"

    He shook his head and said, "No.  I like the old version better.  Cameron's version got lost in the violence."

    I laughed and nodded my head.  "I know what you mean."  I could really get to like this guy.  He seemed to think the same way I did about a lot of things.  Finally I looked at the two of them and said, "Both of you can fly.  So what we're going to do is this:  Crimson, you're going to be our point man,  Onyx, you'll hang back from the wall somewhat and keep an eye on the ground.  I'm going up the ice face."

    "How?" she asked.

    I flexed my hand, extended my claws, and said, "With these."

    She nodded and replied, "You're the boss.  But what do we do if we get up there and the pilot starts shooting at us?"

    I stepped back and looked up at the craft, actually by now it was just a hole in the ice where it had melted its way deeper into the glacier.  "Shoot back," I told her.  She nodded and I asked, "Can you detect any minds up there?"

    "Now he asks me?" she said with a sarcastic grin.  "No, but that could be a side effect of whatever is keeping us from teleporting."

    "Not likely," I told her.  "Otherwise you wouldn't have been able to read the minds of the UN soldiers."

    "Good point," she said.  

    I think the speed of our ascent surprised both of my teammates.  I believe they thought they'd be nurse-maiding me as I made a mountaineer's ascent with ice pitons and ropes.  Instead, I simply sank my claws into the icy surface and headed up at a fairly brisk pace.  It took about a half an our to reach the area where the ice was turning to slush as it poured out of the hole and would no longer hold my weight.  

    I worked my way around the side of the hole and then several yards above the top of it. It was a good fifty feet across and took me almost as long to maneuver around it as it did to climb the whole face of the glacier.  It was then that I broke out the rope and ice pitons.  I drove several of them into the ice, secured the rope and lowered myself until I was standing on the slippery surface of a long slick tunnel melted into the ice at a downard degree angle.  Crimson and Onyx both landed beside me.  

    I took one look at the markings on the sleek craft in the distance and started cussing in Old Norse.  The red tear-drop shaped insignia told me all I needed to know- Gem Corps. "What is it?" Crimson asked.

    "Meirrian," I told him.

    "What's a Merrian?" he asked as I cautiously made my way down the now slick ice floor. Within a few days this ship was going to be so far buried in that glacier that we'd never get it out.  After that, when it finally cooled down, it would be crushed by sheer weight of the ice.

    "They're an extra-solar empire that claims to have its origins on Earth in ancient Atlantis to be specific," I told him.  "As a culture, they're ninety-nine bastards and and son of a bitch."

    "You summed that up pretty well,  Runeclaw," a soft female voice echoed off the icy walls.  

    "Who's there?" I asked sniffing the air.

    A tall woman dressed in a pair of jeans and flannel shirt stepped out from behind one of the stabilizer fins.  She had white hair with little round furry bear-like black ears at the top her head, not unlike my own.  She was wearing several things that caught my eye.  The first was a cloak that my infravision told me was giving off a heat field.  Secondly she had a modified Gem Corps psi-sword on her hip, and an energy shield projector on her wrist.  I recognized both of them as equipment that Jeff Seizemore used as Sun Dancer after he lost his powers.  More importantly though was a dark red  tear-drop shaped crystal on a chain around her neck.    I could tell from here that it was dead.  The only other crystal like that I'd ever seen had been Jeff's.  His looked just like it after he had been stripped of his powers, and his sister, Leighanne now wore it  a similar fashion to this woman.

    "Your Panda!," I said.  "Angel Blue's widow."

    She nodded.  "The Gem Corps doesn't have a great track record on Earth when it comes to keeping their Corpsmen alive," she said.

    "I heard that you left the planet, to have it out with the Corps," I told her.

    "I'm back," she said.  "Damn Russians hit me with a tac-nuke over Siberia.  I managed to bring her down here.  The star drive is about to overload.  Completely wrecked local space for about five miles. Can't teleport out, so we're going to have to get out of here on foot, before the drive goes critical."

    "How long?" I asked.

    "Less than an hour," she said checking an instrument on her wrist.  Then looking at my team she asked, "Who're your friends?"

    I nodded toward my team and said, "This is Onyx and Crimson.  We're from the DSI.  Things are getting a little tense with the UN right now. They're probably the ones who shot you down," I told her.    

    Suddenly I caught the smell of an human about the same time I heard the beat of a pair of leathery wings.   Onyx reached out and grabbed my arm.  "We've got company," we both said in unison.

    I nodded to Crimson and Onyx and said, "She's one of the good guys.  What's coming up that mountain, I don't know."  Both nodded to me and we got ready for whatever was coming.  Essentially we were trapped in a long tunnel with only one way out.  "Crimson, I want you to go into stealth mode.  Onyx, Panda, I want you two to be prepared for anything.  If that's the UN, I suspect it's going to be UNIPACT Prime."

    "An American who thinks; how novel," a strong male voice with a definite French accent came echoing down the cold corridor.  

    I looked toward the opening in time to see a black winged shape set down a guy in a light blue body suit- complete with a UN insignia on the left breast.  He had short cropped blond hair and a strong classical jawline. He also hadn't bathed in at least a week, which considering his accent, made sense.  I could smell him all the way down here.

     A second later another man touched down beside him.  He had long flowing black hair and was dressed in a red and black suit that was vaguely Middle Eastern in cut.  In his right hand, he seemed to be holding a ball of fire.   The speaker turned to him and said, "Brûlez-les, Agni!." <Burn them, Agni!>

    The man grinned at us with crooked teeth and drew back his arm.  "Incoming!" I yelled behind me and started charging up toward them.  I was hoping they would focus on me and give my team a chance to escape.  A tongue of flame engulfed the whole tunnel of ice and lashed down toward us.  I felt it hit me square in the chest and wrap itself around me.  I roared in pain as the fire burned  the part of me that was a nocturnal to the core of my soul.  I ignored it and continued my charge, knowing that the pain was not really physical.  

    I saw the fear in Agni's eyes as I kept coming.  Still firing at me, he and the black-winged form that I still couldn't make out clearly began to back up toward the opening of the tunnel.  I hit blondie with a shoulder tackle that would have made JD and our old furball league proud.  I launched us both out of the tunnel and into the clear sky.  I figured he couldn't fly since ol' Batwings was carrying him.

    As we exited the hole in the ice, I began to shift forms.  If I was going to take on this guy, I was going to take him on with all my advantages.  When we were high over the valley below, I looked down at his smaller body and growled.  "You are an illegal military force operating inside American territory.  I'm not going to tell you to leave, I'm going to make you leave, if I have to kick your worthless ass all the way back to France." 

    "Ce qui?" he asked with a confused look on his face.  Evidently the idea of this huge monster of a werecat speaking clearly to him didn't fit his concept of reality.

    "Ja dit: Vous etes un envahisseur!  Je ne vais pas vous dire de partir! Je donnerai un coup d pied votre bout de nouveau a la France!"  I translated just before I slammed my clawed fist into his head.  

    Blood flew from his mouth as my fist, now the size of his head, slammed him down and away from me.  I watched as he began to fall away from me at an angle.  As my own arc reached its apex, I tucked and got ready to roll to eat up some of the momentum.  

    When I hit the ground and came up to my feet, I saw him about three hundred yards away, pulling himself out of the hole he'd made in the ground.  He was shaking his head and muttering "Mon dieu," to himself.

    I growled, "I am not your God.  But I'll be glad to arrange a meeting between the two of you."  This guy had already pissed me off and I took off at him at run.  

    "Etienne!" a female voice split the cold Alaskan air.  I ignored it as I felt some kind of force try to grab onto my body, but slip away ineffectual.    He looked up to see me charging and set himself to meet me head on.  I'll give him credit, an angry anthropomorphic tiger the size of a bull elephant bearing down on them, is enough to make most men turn tail and run.  Agni and old Batwings had already proven that.   He managed to overcome what has become a cultural predisposition to cowardice and stood his ground.  yeah I know, but to be honest, I have very little respect for the French- so sue me.

    He leapt at me, fist drawn back to deliver a powerful punch.  I skidded to a stop and backhanded him across the valley into the side of the glaicer.   He made a nice man-shaped indentation in the ice.   He was strong, he was hard to hurt, but he had no real experience.  Leaving the ground was his biggest mistake.  It then took very little force for me to simply bat him away.  

    Suddenly I was hit again with a tongue of searing hot flame.  This time it was ten times worse than what I experienced inside the tunnel.  Agni was pouring on the power, and staying out of range.  It stopped me dead in my tracks, my body barely able to move as my clothes were burned away.

    Flexing my wrist, I felt the charm fall into my hand.  "Vaxa!" I screamed and felt the Jotun's blade grow in my hand.

   "Foolish Djinn," Agni sneered at me.  "A sword cannot reach me up here!"

    Djinn?  Did he just call me Djinn?  Just how stupid was this guy? I pointed the tip of the blade at him and screamed, "Vedr!"  The effect was immediate.  A howling wind of ice and snow came from the blade and slammed into him.  I watched and chuckled as he was hurled back by the force of the micro blizzard.  

    Looking up, I could not see where Crimson was, but Onyx was being harassed by the bat winged guy, who seemed to be screaming at her.   The sound was very high pitched but seemed to be directed.   She was covering her ears with both hands, but her eyes were blazing with a purple light as she stared at him.  Then his face went blank, his mouth closed, his wings folded, and he began plummeting toward the ground.  

   Suddenly I was hit in the ribs by something hard and fast.  As I tumbled backwards, I was hit several more times by a series of punches that walked up my body until a powerful blow caught me on the chin and I saw proverbial stars.  I shook my head and and felt another one catch me in the nose.  Much to my chagrin, the blows were so powerful, that I dropped Isstonn.

    I stepped into a back-stance and grabbed the much smaller man who was trying to climb up on my head.  He was agile and fast, but not fast enough.  My hand closed around him, pinning his arms to his side.  This was a time in recent history before the appearance of Coral or Cobalt-Blue.  At the time, I only knew of one person in the world who was stronger than I was, and that was Krieger, and I wasn't so sure about him anymore.  I'd grown a lot since I was sixteen.  This little blue-clad twerp was strong, almost as strong as I was.  He tried to force my fist open.    I growled at him and said, "You mess with the tiger, you get the claws."  

    I curled my fingers in and extended my claws.  I heard several small "pops" as they penetrated his UN blue costume and then his body.  He screamed once and then fell forward.  I opened my hand and shook him off my claws dropping his body to the ground.    I could see where I'd punched a hole right through his gut, his lower calf, and his upper shoulder.  

    "Sentinel!" that female voice from ealier screamed again.  I turned to look in time to see a raven-haired woman in a white dress, leggings, and cloak racing across the snow toward the man I'd just dropped. Althought I didn't know her name at the time, most of the world would eventually come to recognize Shift.   If I'd known then, what I know now, I could have saved a lot of transhuman lives by killing her then and there.  Her powers were not working in this valley, and she couldn't teleport away.  But as they say,  hindsight is twenty/twenty.   

    I turned to see where Batwings had barely regained control of his flight before hitting the ground.  He was gliding along about thirty feet off the ground at the base of the glacier.   There weren't a whole lot of thermals coming off the ground here abouts, so he had to fight for every meter of altitude. .  A movement in the sky caught my eye.

    I looked up just in time to see Crimson come out of "cloak" and shove Onyx out of the way.  Suddenly he was engulfed in one of Agni's fire blasts.  I heard him scream once as the fire began to melt away his costume and skin.  What was left began to fall toward the ground.  As I scrambled toward Isstonn, Panda launched herself out of the hole and tackled the fiery villain around the waist.

    In one hand she had her husband's psi-sword activated, it's blade burning a brilliant yellow in mid-morning light.  Projected from the bracer on her other wrist, a blue disk of force was deflecting the fire bolt he'd thrown her way.   She slammed into Agni, driving the  sword toward his gut.   He reacted instinctively, pushing her wrist down away from his body.  From where I was standing, I could hear the sizzling of flesh as the blade of hot plasma seared away whatever flesh was at the juncture of his legs.  He screamed once and flew backwards away from his attacker.  

    Panda was not one to easily give up her target and twisted in mid air as she began falling toward the ground.  With a flick of her wrist the sword struck again, this time slicing clean through Agni's right ankle, severing his foot.  His scream of pain and horror echoed off the glacier and mountains as he flew away, not waiting on his comrades.

    I raced to the area where Crimson was falling and managed to get under him just in time.  I could almost hear Kevin, my old gaming buddy say, "Made that Dex check."

    As I collapsed to the ground absorbing the shock of his fall into my own body, I could smell Crimson's burnt flesh.  He moaned in my arms.  I couldn't believe it.  He was still alive- barely.  He was burned over most of his body, and I could tell he was in a lot of pain.  I looked up where Onyx was in a dive following Batwings toward where Shift was cradling the bleeding form of Sentinel.  "Onyx, get down here!  I need you to get Crimson out of here and to a medic!"

    She nodded to me grimly and then gestured.  Batwings suddenly did a face-plant into the rocky soil near where Shift was holding Sentinel.  She looked up at him and said growled.  "Get us out of this dead zone.  Let the American's have the ship."

    "Actually, nobody is getting my ship," Panda said from her position floating above the battlefield.  "The damage the Russians did with their tac-nuke has made the star drive unstable.  I'd say in about five minutes, every piece of matter in this whole valley is going to be compressed small enough to fit in a tea spoon.  I'd suggest we all get the hell out of here."

    As she landed, I transfered Crimson to Onyx.  "Get him and get out of range as fast as you can, and then teleport home."

    "What about you?" she asked.

    "I'll get home my own way. It may take me a bit longer, but I'm going to make sure our uninvited guests leave empty handed," I said turning my back to her.

    "You sure about this, Runeclaw?" she asked.

    "That was an order, Onyx," I told her.

    I could almost see her grin behind my back.  "Yes, sir."  I heard the sound of the wind as she ascended into the air over us. 

    I stepped up to Shift and Batwings whose name I now knew was Nocturne.  Looking down on them I said, "I've got injured, you've got injured.  We can call it a truce, or the three of us can battle it out until that engine reduces us all to neutronium.  It's your call."

    She nodded at me as as Nocturne began beating his wings to rise into the air.  He grabbed Sentinel under the arms took off.  As he rose further, Shift took hold of his lower leg and was pulled off the ground as well. "This is not over, Runeclaw.  You will pay for what you have done.  The UN will not be denied.  I will not be denied."

    Call it a moment of weakness, call it an attempt to twist the knife.  I couldn't help it.  I looked up at her and in my best Mark Lenard voice said, "Threats are illogical, and payment is often expensive."  She gave me a strange questioning look and I said, "This is American soil.  I will defend it."  Then they were gone, disappearing into the rising mist coming off the glacier.  

    I shifted up into my battleform and started off into the direction that Onyx and Panda went.  I barely made it out of the area before half a mountain was sucked into what was basically a microscopic blackhole. What was left was a huge circular crater of smooth rock and ice.

      As it was Onyx had followed orders and was long gone by the time I got clear.  I didn't get to watch much of the destruction, I was too busy trying to get out of its way.   By the time the ground stopped shaking, I ended up heading out of the mountains on foot.  It took me a week to make it to Fairbanks.

    It was years before I ever saw Onyx again. As for Crimson, I couldn't get a straight answer out of General Presley about what happened to him.  I don't know if he died, if he recovered, or if he was captured by little furry aliens.  Considering who I met in Florida, I'm not entirely ruling out the latter possibility.  To be honest, I'm not sure even the General knows what happened to him.