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

He inhales the steam and feels his lungs burn. The room could easily be mistaken for a normal steam room in its simplicity, but there are healing enzymes pumped steadily into the air turning it to a hard to breathe mist that clings to living tissue. He leans up feeling the second skin around himself; he knows that it's his old skin, but he can't shake the feeling that it is not right. Cringing as he glances down at the wounds on his torso and left arm, he finds blood starting to flow out again from even the light movement. For just a second he wishes that the healing chamber could deal with burns, but that one weakness is how wounds can be disinfected as his were: with a type of acid.

He walks out of the room into a smaller room and starts coughing as the light vacuum pulls the mist from his lungs. He exhales to help to the process then puts an oxygen mask provided and inhales a smoky substance trying to not think of the rate of people who die from an allergic reaction to it. Next, high pressure water comes at him from all around; it's just hot enough to burn slightly while it rips at his old skin until the last of it comes off leaving only his newly grown skin behind.

Once in the locker room he gets dresses enjoying the feeling of fresh clothing even thaw his blood will surly stain it. He spits a tiny capsule out of his mouth and puts it in his pocket as if it was worth very little, when in truth stealing a sample of the enzymes would result in death by drowning if he were caught.

He ties his bootlaces and heads for the exit knowing that he'll need to be groomed thanks to the enzymes speeding up the growth of his hair. On his way out, he glances to the side by accident to see a bearded stranger that gives him a look of pure hatred. The pair raise their fists at the same time and strike simultaneously; the bearded man shatters into a thousand pieces, and the other is left with pieces of glass imbed in his knuckles.

Echo looks through her clothing trying to decide what to wear while she murders someone; at first she loved the clothing, it all looked so perfect on her and fits just as well; but she’s now decided that its meant to be perfect for the task of killing. She goes with the worst clothing she can find in the wardrobe; a tube-top and leather pants.

She looks at herself in a mirror and examines the dagger tattoo on her wrist, she had tried not to look at it, but even with a small glance she notices the oddest thing: there's more complexity then before. It's just a small series of lines around it; some of them are so faded she can barely notice them. She lines her finger up to the tip of the blade and pulls back along it following the line, it leads into the hilt and circles around forming a small embedded mark; after that it leads outside and fades away. Her curiosity takes over causing her to rapidly examine the tattoo in a near panic; as much as the tattoo is a flawless series of changing colors forming a blade there is lack of mistakes to them. None are wider or slimmer, however, when she looks closely following the lines she realizes that they all fade out somewhere and start with a fading spot. She starts to suspect that there is only one line on the tattoo; it's just hasn't become visible in some places.

He knows he's late for the meeting, but something has been bugging him ever since his fight against the mutant the previous day. He walks into a police station and flashes his I.D. knowing his clearance is no good here.

A cop at the desk answers, "Are you people all shit for brains? I have enough retards flashing video club memberships, thinking they'll be able to watch surveillance tapes of Shannon Donnelly." He refers to a popular mutant super-model who has yet to die.

The hunter doesn't answer; he just stares at the man with a fake offended look. Another officer's jaw drops and exclaims, "Pat, that's Alex Temple, he's the hunter that rescued that Doven kid!" The cop comes to the outside of the desk to shake his hand. "Alex, how did you know where to look? Can I get your autograph? I've always respected h-"

"The name's Alexis." He holds out a piece of glass stained with a fingerprint taken from a frozen mutated finger. "I need to know who this was." With that, the questions end.

Five years ago, a life insurance company used a mutant super-hero as their spokesperson; the mutant had the innate ability to restore his body from nearly anything giving the effect of resurrection. Three years ago, that congress ruled damages caused by mutant activities are not acts of god. Insurance companies had to pay full damages to people who suffered at the hands of mutants. The company that had a mutant spokesperson decided their spokesperson’s paycheck was one bill too many paid to mutants. An incinerator was enough to destroy the body beyond its unnatural healing abilities.

Today the same company who used a mutant in their advertisements is the biggest supporter of anti-mutant efforts in America. Their headquarters had a good-sized penthouse used to please the heavy investors when they visited; that same place is now used to host a meeting between several anti-mutant organizations.

On the ground floor there are genetically engineered dogs sniffing for mutants among the arriving guests. One of the dogs is four feet tall, and the other is a massive five feet with enhanced intelligence to match. The dogs have tan colored fur, with bloody patches where their skin fell off; the larger one has failing hips and is missing an ear.

Echo walks in wearing a long red leather coat. She has every edge Archon's resources could give her: a special pass that lets her evade half the entry procedures. A coat made from the skin of genetically modified dogs. A cover story of being a meta-dealer from Europe wishing to expand her business, that one is complete with enough samples of the drug to bribe her way past the guards if the dogs do growl. However, she skips those covers, and tosses the dogs a couple slices of meat with peanut butter stuffed in the middles. The dogs are left too busy licking away at the peanut butter around their mouths to bother growling at any mutant.

Once she exits the elevator she's hit by a rush of noise, she has to force herself to not will it away from herself; any such power use would be detected and responded to with force. She finds herself in a confused state for several minutes listening to random bits of noise trying to find a center to use for strength.

"That's a myth, if a mutant could do that we'd be extinct!" "T hose bastards will be accountable for every bit of harm they do while someone is trying to stop them." "The Hilton tape..." "I still can't believe they dare pray to god!" "Do it in five minutes." "When I heard from a friend of a friend that my sister was sighted with a mutant I did them both in." "Stock market claiming..." "We had some fun, that was until her pussy ate Todd's-" "Sweeping next room." "Their DNA causes cancer." "Super-heroes? Is that a boy band?"

An artificial waterfall catches her attention, and uses that as a focus point and floods her body with its noise expunging everything else. With that done, she centers her vision and looks for her target. It only takes a minute to find him; he's in the center of the largest group of people. He's badly aging, and has been on the news recently when his granddaughter was kidnapped my a mutant and later rescued, current news focuses on the chances of her living through the night; not only was her tongue was ripped out, but several bones were broken, in addition to being starved and poisoned.

Echo walks close to the target until her own ears can pick up what is being said without help from her powers. "Fredrick, just how long until those regenerators you've built get adapted for hospital use? Just think of the lives they've already saved."

"As soon as doctors accept that what they are doing is little better than drilling holes in peoples skulls to cure headaches." The crowd around him laughs, but Echo cries.

Alexis runs in the front door sliding his gauntlet on even thaw he's wearing city clothes. He notices that the dogs are the helpless victims of peanut butter and refuse to so much as stand while they clean mouths by licking repeatedly. He gives the Inquisition salute of the right hand held out in a fist showing the studded gauntlet.

The ride in the elevator a longer wait than he was prepared for. He considers what the police computers told him about the finger print, and he considers the piece of armor he saw on the mutant's hand, then the fact that it's blood showed no signs of mutant D.N.A., instead it was full of the same enzyme used in the healing chambers. He never expected to run into a problem of this magnitude, but worse if the problem spreads...

The doors slide open into the main room, he looks around desperately searching for the man with the answers, the man who was out when the mutant broke into his home and stole his granddaughter; a girl Alexis saved may have only saved temporarily.

He spots the man, and as he tries to rush to ask a hundred questions, but his mind clears of all that when he sees what he can only describe as a red haired angel running towards the balcony with tears running down her soft face.

Echo reaches balcony and looks out on the beautiful city, she leans against the railing and in a moments time puts one leg over it. The thoughts of the deaths she's been responsible for fill her mind. She puts her second leg over the railing and clenching the railing with both hands while she leans forward while looking into the sky, admiring the thought of death, and yet not wanting to look down at it. A man steps outside behind her.

"Please don't make me quote Titanic." Alexis speaks in a flat yet flavorful voice.

She gets offended at the interruption. "Leave me alone, you don't know what I've done!"

"You know I can't do that." He steps over the railing just a few feet from her to the right and looks down at the traffic. His accent is different from any other she can recall.

"If you knew what I've done you wouldn't do this." More tears come with the reminder.

"Lets put it this way, I don't know what you've done, and I don't care to either. But if you jump than you'll trash my car." The vocal tones are somewhat sarcastic but still worried.

She gazes down and tightens her grip at the sight; she can't see more than a blur of the street. "That's a nice car, it'd make quite a story to tell your friends."

"I'm a little short on those right now. I also think that you'd be missed, even if you don't know it." Her grip tightens more at the memory of her real friends back home, that they'd never know what really happened to her. She barely notices that he's inching over.

"I'd think most guys would be happy to have a girl like me anywhere near their car?"

"I lied." He puts his left hand over her right hand, "I don't own a car."

She turns to look him in the eyes; the look he gives her is neither concern nor lust. It's the intense look of complete compassion, a look she's never received. "You realize I was only out here for the view right?" she lies to repeat his lie.

"The view was much nicer inside before you went out. I couldn't resist following you."

Not sure whether to laugh or cry, she steers her head towards his having already lost all control of the moment, words are replaced by a tender kiss him which is eagerly returned by him. It's in that moment, not knowing the truth about each other, that something changes in both their lives.

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

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