The Magnificent Seven - ATF Alternat Universe

Dark Secrets Unlocked

Part 10

"How long?" a horrified Nathan asked.

Ezra cut him off, his own revulsion at the recital of events regarding Vin's imprinting evident in his eyes and voice. "Fifteen seconds," he spat. "That ... animal! That scum Connley nearly destroyed Vin with his inept..." Ezra found he couldn't continue. Genetically engineered or not, assignment or not, Vin Tanner did not deserve to be tortured like that - no child did. Ever.

"It was mine," Chris stated, his voice hushed as the realization dawned. "That's why?"

Vin nodded, his sadness and regret showing clearly in his eyes. "That's why, Cowboy," he confirmed. "The imprint went too deep for too long and permanently changed, permanently linked us." Letting his eyes drop at the hint of revulsion he saw in Chris' eyes, he didn't know how to continue.

Chris sat in shock. He and Vin always seemed to have a connection, now he knew why. He shook himself, overwhelmed by the facts being revealed. How did a man react when he discovered his best friend was a genetically engineered superman and not merely human like everyone else? How was he supposed to feel about the fact that his and Vin's friendship was based on a science experiment gone bad? It was too much information too quickly. True, it did explain how they always seemed in synch as well as how he knew when Vin was in trouble or even how he had found the Texan tonight. He wondered if his calling Buck and JD to join him at the sight was due to something he picked up from Vin rather than his own idea.

Josiah read the anger and confusion in Chris' eyes as well as the sadness and loss in Vin's. Shooting Nathan a look, he nodded for the healer to reveal a bit of the information that had been held back too long.

Seeing the exchange, Ezra was about to jump in and cut it off when Nathan forestalled him with a raised hand. "They need to know," the healer stated. "We all need to know everything or we won't ever be a team again. I spent too many years looking for and waiting for something this good to come along. I won't lose it now."

Seeing Ezra back down and nod his head in agreement, Nathan took a breath before continuing. "Josiah and Ezra both know that as an undergrad I had a great interest in genetics and genetic research. I thought I'd continue on and get my Doctorate. My plans changed, but before they did, I spent time studying under some of the most advanced researchers out there. My background in genetics, along with my pre-med work and EMT status made me the best choice in the ATF for this position. I have been in charge of monitoring Vin and JD over the past two years. Tracking their physical progress and ascertaining whether their? unique beginnings are causing any problems." Scanning the faces of the men he considered brothers, he made sure he had their complete attention. "From a physical standpoint, Vin and JD are every bit as human as your or I - no different. How they began is nothing of who they are. The men they have become is due to the men Buck and Chris have become."

Startled gasps and looks of puzzlement, wonder and shock were exchanged.

"I understand about the connection between Chris and me being because of what was done to me," Vin said, trying to work it out in his mind.

Nathan nodded and answered the sharpshooter's unasked question. "We don't understand everything either," Nathan explained. "What we have been able to determine is that more than just self-control was transferred over in the process." He checked to make sure everyone was still paying attention before continuing. "There is a connection, that's true. It's stronger in Chris and Vin because of the length of the imprint Vin went through. However, there is a connection between Buck and JD as well." He watched as JD's brown eyes snapped to and locked with Buck's blue ones. "That's probably whey you tried to come to Denver, JD. To find Buck, to be complete."

Buck smiled at his roommate. "Well, what do you know," he said, slapping JD on the back. JD grinned in return.

"We also know that JD and Vin's sense of right and wrong is closely linked to that of Chris and Buck. Fortunately for all of us, JD didn't inherit Buck's predilection for women," Nathan teased, hoping to lighten the mood and restore some of their spirit.

"Thank God for that," Josiah and JD said in unison.

"Hey!" Buck protested, slapping the back of JD's head.

"Think of it this way, Mr. Willmington," Ezra soothed, "at least you don't have competition from the boy." This brought slight chuckles from most of the men. Vin still refused to raise his eyes from the ground and Chris remained withdrawn, confused and hurt.

"Doesn't explain why I forgot everything, though," Vin stated once things became quiet. "What I want to know is what happened to make me lose myself? Wish it could have been forever," he added as a whispered afterthought. All eyes softened at the plight of their second youngest.

"As closely as Josiah and I have been able to piece together, you lost your memory about the same time Chris lost his family," Nathan explained. "We know that Chris went through tremendous emotional upheaval and trauma at that time. We suspect that the connection between you fed that turmoil, that pain to you at a time you were unprepared for it. This could have caused any number of problems. Then when you and Chris finally met, a healing process began. As part of this process, your memories began reasserting themselves. The buyer in this deal was Franklin Stapleton, one of the doctors from your time with Connley, at least I would guess that according to what you?ve told us."

"What were you doing when Chris' family died Vin?" Josiah asked, hoping the answer would lead him to a better understanding of the connection.

Vin?s eyes flashed from Josiah to Chris to JD before dropping once more to focus on the ground. His face suffusing with color, he took a few minutes to gather his thoughts.

(Five Years ago, the day Sarah and Adam died)

"Tanner," he said into the phone. He knew it would be Connley checking on him. It was a part of their daily routine.

"Is everything in place?" the older man asked.

"Affirmative," Vin replied.

"Good hunting, then," came the response a second before the dial tone.

Vin Tanner hung up the phone in the cheap motel room where he was staying. He wondered briefly if this current assignment should bother him more.

All his training had led him to be the perfect tool for Connley's plans. He was almost exactly what the Doctor wanted and the new strains being developed and tested from Vin's DNA were progressing well.

Maybe after this last assignment he would be set free - though he doubted it. His change at freedom, the hope for the normal life Sanchez had promised had proven nothing more than a cruel joke. Josiah Sanchez had taken his life, his innocence and given it to that monster, Connley. Vin looked down at the bandage on his ankle. He had removed the tracker and poison capsule the night before. He knew he couldn't get away for long, and that Connley would make him pay, but he needed a chance to find some peace; a chance to wash the blood from his hands.

He flipped open his folder one last time to review the information he had gathered. "Target: John Daniel Dunne, I-5468," Vin read aloud. Then, looking at the picture muttered quietly, "In a little while at least you will be free."

Closing the folder and placing it in the metal trash bin, he set the file on fire, gathered the tools he would need, disposed of the ashes and removed any trace of his presence. Leaving the key in the room, he left the building and got in his Jeep.

Having had extreme luck, Vin was able to part on the street he'd wanted in Boston. Climbing the stairwell of the building he had chosen the week before, he settled into a comfortable position. Assembling his sniper's rifle, he attached the scope and settled down to wait and watch.

Dunne's first class began at 10:40am. The dark-haired boy crossed the quad every day between 10:15 and 10:35 on his way to class. Checking his watch, Vin saw it was only 9:50, so he settled in for a wait, forcing himself not to think about what he was about to do.

Eventually, he caught a glimpse of the target. Aligning his sights, he ensured the cross-hairs centered on the boy?s forehead.


"Then, nothing," Vin said softly.

"What do you mean, then nothing?" Buck exclaimed, angry that Vin had come so close to killing JD.

Vin sighed. "The next thing I remember is making my way back to my Jeep - terrified. I took off and started driving. I stopped for gas as needed, but was driven to go someplace safe... home... Texas. When I arrived and settled down enough to think, I was at my mother's grave. All I had on me was my gear for my bounty-hunter cover. Not knowing anything about who I was, I took my cover to be my life. I became Vin Tanner - orphan, ex-Ranger, Bounty Hunter, and now ATF agent."

"Wait, I saw your army record," Chris said, puzzled.

Josiah looked sheepish. "I had a friend make those out." All eyes focused on the Profiler. Releasing a heavy sigh and rubbing his face in frustration, he took a deep breath and explained. "When Vin first showed up, I didn't know what to do, what to say, what it meant. I thought, at first, he was still with Connley, but then, after talking to him and with him, I realized he had no idea who he really was. I called in some favors, gave my evaluation and was assigned to watch him, evaluate his mental and emotional state and intercede as needed."

"And kill me as needed," Vin interjected quietly.

Pain radiated from Josiah's eyes. Looking deeply into the tortured soul before him, he said, "Yes. I am authorized for that, but I would never terminate you. You are my friend, my brother and mean more to me than following that order." He paused, waiting for Vin to acknowledge the truth of his words. Eventually, he saw Vin's eyes soften, accepting the truth of the statement. Continuing softly, Josiah continued, "I know you now and I know you could never be the monster they fear. You are the most honorable man, the most caring and loyal man I know. Those characteristics come not from the training you received, not from who Connley tried to make you, not even from the imprit of Chris. Those characteristics came from the man your mother trained you to be. She is the one who shaped you, who made you."

Quiet blanketed the group for several minutes as the truth of Josiah's words sank in.

Vin finally nodded and shifted his attention to the undercover agent. "So what about you Ezra?" he asked, his face shuttered. "Now that I know are you going to kill me?"

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