The Magnificent Seven - ATF Alternat Universe

Dark Secrets Unlocked

Part 6

(the present)

"Wait," Nathan interrupted. "There were others? Did they survive?"

Josiah sighed. He glanced over at Vin. The man hadn't moved a muscle during the entire recitation. "The Coughlin boy, Eddie, didn't make it past the age of seven. There was something wrong with that particular series that created a terminal condition."

"What about after Vin?" Nathan asked.

A soft Southern voice drifted to them out of the darkness. "After series T-1429, there were no successes; at least not until several years ago when technology allowed for the creation and aging of a human body without the requisite gestation period," the voice said, coming closer to the fire and revealing the form of Ezra Standish. He was looking directly into Josiah's eyes. "These new techniques, however, did not allow for the creation of a brain. Instead, a brain needed to be... acquired. The last I heard, they had successfully transplanted a brain into the body and the agency responsible is working in New York to ensure the subject is everything needed."

"What the Hell are you doing here, Ezra?" Nathan demanded. "How do you know about this?"

For the first time since meeting them on the trail Vin spoke. "He's here to make sure I don't carry out my last assignment," Vin stated brusquely. "He's probably got the same orders as Josiah: terminate me if I make a move on the subject or go out of control." Tilting his head to the side, he asked in an acidic tone, "Or are you just supposed to drag me back for reprogramming so I can return to the purpose for which I was made?"

"Wait," Nathan demanded, feeling tension beginning to rise out of control. "First, what mission and what target? And what do you mean terminate you? No way in hell I'm letting anyone, not even these two yahoos hurt you after all the work I've put in keeping you in one piece."

Three sets of eyes shifted to the very determined medic. A small smile crept onto Vin's face. "Subject I-5468, John Daniel Dunne. Subject currently working at the Denver ATF office on Team 7. Subject was creation of rogue group LIVE and is known to have above average stamina and genius level intelligence." Silence descended. "If I?m not mistaken, Ezra is his watch dog."

Ezra said nothing, but his eyes burned at the truth of Vin?s statement. Eventually he replied. "That is true, Mr. Tanner. That is my assignment, but I assure you, I would do everything within my power first to avoid such an outcome. I value our friendship, our brotherhood, too much." Ezra could only home that Vin heard the sincerity of his words and was able to read it in his eyes and body language. Not because he feared Vin would kill him. If Vin wanted to kill him, he'd be dead already. But because the truth was, he did value Vin that much regardless of the Texan's origin.

"Wait," Nathan said. "Go back. I'm missing some details. I need to know exactly what happened to Vin and now it sounds like JD as well. If I'm going to continue looking out for his health and covering for him at the hospital, I need to know everything."

"If'n yer goin' ta go on, Josiah, I reckon Chris Buck and JD best join us as well," Vin said, not moving a muscle, though he managed to exude a deadly air. Three more shadows melted out of the woods and joined the circle by the fire.

"How'd you know we were there?" Buck asked, worried that the normally boisterous JD was quiet and refused to meet his eyes.

Josiah answered, "The series Vin was from was almost perfect. Vin is not only strong and faster than any other man, but his senses are more finely tuned. That's one of the reason's he's such a good shot. His eyesight is unparalleled, as is his sense of touch and hearing." Seeing the seriousness of the group, Josiah added, "I have no excuse for his sense of humor, though." The joke failed.

Chris stared at Vin. He had known about JD and come to terms with that a long time ago. He had been told when Ezra came onto the team. JD's background and Ezra's status had been a source of conflict between Larabee and Standish in the beginning of their relationship, but they had worked that out along with their other problems.

Chris hadn't known about Vin. He didn't know what to make of the fact that the man? the subject? the thing? he had called his best friend, his brother, was nothing more than someone's lab experiment. Looking into the blue eyes he'd come to know so well, he decided to put aside his own uncertainties and listen to what the others had to say.

Vin turned his eyes to Chris, seeing the questions, seeing the uncertainty, seeing the disgust and allowed his own defenses to drop, revealing the depths of his own pain over this revelation. He let Chris read his fear, his frustration, the sense of worthlessness and being nothing that had been at the core of his being for more years than he cared to count. I didn't know, Cowboy, he tried to communicate. It hurts me too.

Nathan looked among the men and made a decision. "Out with all of it. No more secrets. No more lies. No more half-truths. Everything?s coming out tonight or this is it." Everyone looked at the medic and nodded their consent. "Alright," Nathan commanded, "We've started with Vin, let's finish with him. Then each of us will fill in the blanks as we go, understood?" He received nods all around. "Josiah, continue," he ordered.

Josiah sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. He was getting too old for this.

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