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Note: This follows the storyline started in Children of Extinction. Some language and or concepts may be offensive.

The room is old and dusty, it's clearly in a basement, but the way back up is unclear; there seems to be a doorway ten feet above the ground with no stairs leading to it. Fourteen-year-old Krista Dover awakens from the slightest sound coming into the building, she tries to scream but just feels the pain in her mouth and instead scuttles to the nearest corner as if that would somehow protect her when the monster comes.

Unsure if it's a minute or an hour she waits accompanied only by the slight drip of water leaking in from above; that water has been her only source of nourishment. She quivers with fear when she hears a door slam somewhere. She tries to cry, but the tears don't come, they stopped sometime after her tongue was torn out. She mouths a silent prayer to god: she prays that when she starves to death when the monster is gone, that way she'll die in piece.

Elsewhere, the woman named Echo rides her motorcycle down one of the main streets. She illegally parks it on the sidewalk and goes into a bar for a meeting. She scans with her eyes for the man she's here to meet, but has no luck, instead she takes a seat and orders a soda to keep occupied while she waits.

A television set hanging down from the ceiling is tuned on to a news story about a fourteen year old girl that was abducted from her home eight days ago by a mutant, the popular theory is that it's retaliation against the girls grandfather who designed a type of regeneration-chamber used by the Inquisition's mutant hunters. It is expected that the police will be removed from the case as soon as a United Nations counter mutant team becomes available to investigate.

The story changes to an interview with a man named Rudolf Valentine, a congressional representative who has helped pass many anti-mutant laws. Nearly everything he says is about how horrible mutants have proven themselves to be and if this case doesn't prove to the president that the Inquisition should be given free roam than nothing will be able to stop 'evil mutants from bursting into the homes of every American worker while they are out.' Echo uses her power to mute the cheers directed at such lines.

The monster's rushed footsteps fill the building, something is different this time, it's as if the monster is limping. She can't see through the darkness but she knows it's coming for her, and she's sure this time it will kill her.

A sudden burst of noise catches her attention; she looks at where it came from to see a single beam of light falling through the opening in the door above. The door is at least ten feet above the ground, and there's no way up to it; but it's still hope. She smiles for the first time since being abducted.

The doorway slides open from being prodded with a weapon, as the light reigns in the outline of a man becomes clear. The man wears a suit of armor styled to imitate the feel of an old priest-robe complete with the white collar. The helmet appears to be designed with a cross inlaid showing the eyes and some of the face. Only four of his weapons are visible; a modified shotgun in his left hand; a vintage Katana on his back going towards his left side; three small napalm charges on his belt for quick cleansings and waste disposal; and finally studded gantlets designed for breaking bones while looking overly formal.

With the same speed her smile came, it goes away, she tries to call out but nothing more than a whisper comes out; the cause of her fear is the monster hanging down from the ceiling above the door. The man in the doorway is caught unaware when the monster swings down, it pulls him to the ground maneuvering the fall so that it lands on top pinning him to the ground for an easy kill.

Echo listens to the slow footsteps coming from behind her, she listens carefully for any sign of a weapon being pulled but it doesn't come, based on the exact noise its a very fat man wearing expensive new shoes; obviously the government agent she's hear to meet.

She decides to let him finish his sluggish approach in case it makes them think her powers are not so strong. The news story changes to the current voting on a national issue of mutants 'maiming and killing then later calling it self defense', if it passes mutants will be held accountable for all damages they do regardless of the circumstances: self defense included.

"You realize that calling this meeting is putting yourself at risk?" the fat agent asks.

Echo's reply is straight to the point of their meeting. "Archon's been missing for the last three weeks, the only reason I still have anything to do is he's got a computer program assigning me tasks for the next seven weeks."

"And did you secure a copy of the hard-drive?"

"I've been on this stupid assignment for over a month, I've done your spy work, but until I mentioned that program there was no rush for any meeting. I think the bosses want it, and if I'm going to risk my neck I want to at least know how much longer I'm stuck here."

"Did you think it would be easy? I've been told that it will be at most another six months if you follow orders properly, but if you so much as spit without our permission you won't live to regret it." His voice seems steady, but the tones under it are shaking from fear or the feeling of power he has having been given such a big assignment.

Still in her seat, she turns to him smiling and pretends to not be sickened by the mere sight of him. With her most innocent face she asks "Would you rather I swallow?"

Based on his accelerated heartbeat her words had the desired effect. "I'll s-see what I can do to help you out. B-but I need the computers hard-drive n-now." He holds out a trembling hand.

"Call the office, have them send someone else to get it. I have a feeling about you."

The man cries out as the monster digs its fingers into his helmet with one hand while biting through his armor and into his right shoulder. His scream of pain turns into rage as he grabs the monster by the groin and squeezes with all his strength. At first it seems to just anger the monster, it rips into his armor with its claw-like fingernails often enough through the flaws and into the man's flesh. Then it seems to give up and through the pain bites into the hunter's wrist until his grip weakens enough for it to pull free.

The monster rushes away from the man and grabs the girl swinging her around to use as a living shield. As fast as it was able to grab her, the man rolled to retrieve the shotgun and takes aim while coming up onto one knee. As much pain as he's in there isn't the slightest sign of it in his movements.

An odd understanding passes between the two, the movements of their heads tell that they are doing the exact same thing at the same time: deciding how much of a threat the other is.

The monster is slightly short by human standards, and if it wasn't covered in dirt, it could almost pass for human; all its details are clearly human in origin, however there's too much of them. It's hair is all too long, it's fingernails have grown to impossible lengths and sharpened into claws that are now mostly broken; it's skin is bumpy and in a state where it looks to be ready to peel off, but instead its extremely thick.

"Drop it!" the monster says through a high masculine growl.

Oddly, the man does as he's told without saying a word. He proceeds to raise his hands to either side of his head and turn his back to it. Just as he's turning the details of a cross catch a glint of light, the girl finally recognizes the armor. The monster tosses her to the side and forsakes caution in its hurry to kill and feed.

Feeling the pain of several bones crack from the impact with the wall she watches from the sidelines. Boys at school have talked about wanting mutants to murder their families so that they can be recruited into the group of hunters the armored man belongs to; they even claim that those hunters are so skilled that they know when any attack is coming, she never believed that until this very moment...

The hunter throws himself forward at the last instant before the monster could reach him, instead of hitting the ground his rolls his weight onto his arms while bringing his legs off the ground, his knees curl as he seems to give in, and then completing the motion he comes back out pushing with every muscle in his body. The monster was running too fast to get out of the way, its shins collide with the hunter's feet, the full force of his kick combined with its own speed sends it flailing through the air over him.

It recovers quickly and spots him reaching for the shotgun; it dives only to realize too late that his move was a fake. Instead of pushing all the way, he draws the katana from his back and swings it cross the monster catching much of its hairy face and several of its clawed fingers that it was trying to use to attack.

The man brings the sword up in a quick slash that fails to impact. Neither monster nor man makes a noise but both seem to growl. The monsters face is deeply cut starting no more than an inch below its left eye and managing to split both lips.

It speaks with a slur but in the as if confiding in a friend. "Dover did this." Then it raises its right hand in a fist pointing towards the hunter, the hand is marked by a studded gauntlet with skin growing around the edges of it; the same style is worn by the hunter. The monster runs a moment before leaping into the darkness above.

Echo waits leaning against the bar facing out as the second agent approaches her; he glances both ways at the men cowering in fear then glances at the uninjured body of the previous agent. She decides to start this conversation on her terms. "I won't tolerate being treated as a joke, its bad enough that I have to memorize bukkom South American terms."

"I've been authorized to say we understand and we won't let it happen again." He pauses and holds out his hand. "The only real difference is they're now sending an expendable operative who's capable of killing you."

"That's a big step up, you've got to be worth more than mister-heart-problem." She hands him the computer hard drive and goes back to drinking her soda.

"You shouldn't have killed him; the supervisors don't like the paperwork associated with it." He opens a briefcase and places the hard-drive in a special slot for it; the data transmission starts instantly.

"I didn't kill him, just flirted with him a little. How am I to blame for his heart failing?" She pauses and looks the new agent straight in the eyes. "Before I started this crap I hadn't killed anyone, I'm tired of it, I need out before tomorrow."

"And how is tomorrow different from any other day?" his lack of interest is distasteful.

"Archon's been having a computer give me tasks based on priorities and opportunities it scans for. Tomorrow it wants me to kill a scientist and it won't even tell me why!"

"That's tragic, but the helicopter pilots in Australia were no threat to you. If you hadn't killed them than Archon wouldn't have been able to steal an advanced bio engineered plague from Iraq two weeks ago; we don't know what he'll do with it, but until a cure can be made there is no telling how many innocents he could murder with it! We need you to do exactly as he tells you without any fault in case you gain an opportunity to neutralize it later. If he asks you to wipe out a pre-school you had better do it or else he might kill millions." He turns and walks away ignoring whimpers of fear.

The girl lies on the ground passed out from a combination of factors. A second hunter enters the room wielding a compact flamethrower. He glances at the first hunter who is already treating his wounds with a mild acid incase of any mutant D.N.A. infecting the cuts. His sight goes down to the floor where two severed fingers have mutated and are attacking each other; they role over onto a half finger and one of them seems to absorb it and quickly uses the added mass to win the fight and absorb the other. He blasts it with his flame-thrower.

The second hunter speaks "Mister Temple, this building was supposed to be cleansed the instant you detected any signs of it being a nest for even one mutant... you had better have a dam good excuse!" His aging voice intentionally betrays his true opinions.

The first hunter points to the girl on the floor. The second hunter points his flamethrower at her, and before he can squeeze the trigger the first hunter punches him in the face with enough force to crack the bulletproof glass on the helmet while knocking him down.

He explains before the man recovers. "She's dirty, in bad shape sure, but she's still human, I've seen no evidence to suggest contamination. I may have not had my first kill yet, but when it happens it won’t be to a fellow human."

"You're wounds need to be treated in the chamber, I'll carry the kid out, but if there is any infection I get full credit for the kill." His words are not a question, they are a demand.

Moments later they walk out; the girl is flung over the second hunters shoulder so that he can still aim. The bomb they placed detonates the second they cross the official safe distance. They had done a check to make sure it wasn't an important structure; however there was no sweep for non-mutant inhabitants.

The first hunter puts a hand over a cold storage pocket on his belt to make sure its intact, contained inside is one finger from the monster, he remembers its words to him and the sight of a hunters gauntlet on its hand when it saluted him. For just a second he wonders where to begin his investigation, but then it occurs that healing will take him to the first place needed.

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The following comments are for "Hunters and Monsters (one of three)"
by Ragath

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