Dear Diary

Summary:  Panther describes her first mission with the X Team

Dear Diary:

It has been a while since I last wrote. Things have changed drastically for me in the last two years. I have found a new home
and future at the Xavier School for the Gifted. Here, I am at home with my own kind and it is here that I found my soulmate - a mutant named Logan.

Logan and I share feral personality traits. We are driven by instinct. He is a former soldier augmented into a killing machine by
the military he served. It was Fate that brought us together. John turned out to be a jerk. Logan saved me from him and that is how we met again and eventually fell in love.

Yet, I eventually was taken prisoner by my ex-lover and suffered the same tortures Logan did. Ever since my augmentation and return to the mansion, I am changed – and not just physically. Something in my soul has changed. I have a new gift besides my healing ability – I have the same metal alloy skeleton and a set of claws quite like my Logan. I suppose Stryker really liked the idea so much since several mutants with healing abilities have been augmented in much the same way. Logan wasn't the first and he obviously wasn't the last. But, I digress.

Logan began training me more thoroughly in recent months. He is not happy about it and he keeps trying to talk me out of what my real intentions are. I never imagined myself a superhero, but then again, neither did Logan. Somehow, that is what makes this all kinda interesting and a far cry from the career I originally thought I would pursue.

I joined the X Team. I felt I should. My new gifts and abilities have lit a fire in my heart to do something besides just being
Logan's girl and waiting nervously for him to return from another mission. And, that is why I am writing now.

Today was my first mission as an official member of the X Team. Our job was to rescue several mutants who had been taken hostage in another military installation. It seems that there are more and more of these military installations popping up all around the world. William Stryker may be dead, but his legacy lives on. No matter what we do, it just seems impossible to convince regular folks that most of us mutants don't mean any harm. Sure, there is good and bad in everything, and as Professor Xavier told the President – the X Team would be watching.

The human race has always feared what it doesn't understand. Myths and legends were born from such misunderstandings. I just wish people could learn to live with each other for the better good of all life on earth. We share such a small planet and this constant fighting and killing of each other is just such a tragedy. Why can't we all focus on the gifts each and every one of us has – to use these gifts to make life better for everyone?

Some of us are good at teaching, others in the medical field, and yet others in creating new strains of productive food plants. These should be the things we focus on – not torturing some poor soul because his skin is a different color or has unusual abilities. If no harm is being done to another, then why make it an issue?

Anyway, General Miller has continued to be a great ally in assisting us. He has a daughter who is a mutant – her abilities are developing more strongly in the last year as Jean and I have worked diligently with her. In return for our help with the teenage girl, the general keeps track of new budding mutant-hating factions and the actions of the Brotherhood of Mutants, and today I helped assist in a rescue.

Logan was pretty uptight with my insistence to come along, but I wasn't going to sit here in our room waiting again – not when I can help. He has trained me, actually like a drill sergeant, and I was confident in my abilities to assist. Logan knows I can defend myself quite well. But, I know he worries too much about me, and as much as I love him for caring, he didn't want to realize what an awesome team we two make together. Logan saw it today.

This mission required nearly the entire team to accomplish – Ororo, Scott, Jean, Marie, Bobby, Kurt, Logan and myself. Colossus stayed behind with the kids and the Professor but was ready to join us at a moment's notice. The Professor was mind-linked with Jean and it almost seemed as if he was right there in the X Jet with us.

We arrived in northern Montana at dusk. Jean and Ororo landed the jet well out of range of any radar. A team of commandos sent by the general met us there and all together we hiked through the wooded forest close to the hidden building. The entrance was well camouflaged – painted in shades of gray and green and its surface could have easily been mistaken for a large rock outcropping. Scott used controlled optic blasts to carefully break in. The opening revealed a small tunnel with a ladder and one by one we descended.

This new military group was very aware of our abilities and their defenses proved formidable. There were laser turrets and robotic machine guns guarding the entrance. Logan immediately knew this was not going to be an easy mission. These guys were prepared for us.

Jean used her powers to make the weapons point towards the roof when they fired, and Scott used his optic lasers to destroy what he could, while Logan just went hell crazy cutting them down with his adamantium claws. He rejoined the group with several wounds from bullets that hit and healed. When Logan focuses on what needs to be done, he does whatever it takes to get it accomplished – even if it means putting himself in great danger.

Once deep inside the installation, we broke up into two teams. Scott, Jean, Ororo and Kurt made up one team and Marie, Bobby, Logan and myself were the other. We splintered off to cover more ground. We needed to find the main headquarters of this installation and were literally following our noses. Logan figured it had to be one of two ways – if anyone was going to know anything about military bases, it was the former soldier himself. The two teams stayed in constant radio contact.

I can't begin to describe the fear I felt – my heart began racing and my blood was pumping so strongly. I could feel a heightened sense of awareness unlike anything I ever experienced before. And before I realized it, we were there – outside the door of the main room of the installation and faced with several soldiers all poised to fight.

The surprise of this was that they were all mutants. It scared the hell out of us that we were about to engage in battle with those of our own kind. Jean tried to reason with them and we learned the hostages were to be trained to do battle. This group organized secretly using the military to learn to fight, to gain access to weapons, and then broke away when they were ready to begin their mission – to begin recruiting other mutants and prepare to wage war for superiority over humankind.

Once this motive was established, we knew we would again be fighting our own kind. Jean tried again to reason with them. We learned that this group was under orders from Magneto himself and this wasn't the only group he had beginning to organize. The Brotherhood was growing in size and complexity and we were going to have to bring it down one at a time.

The fight that ensued was brutal. It was mutant against mutant struggling for superiority. It all happened so fast. But, we had no choice. The X Team fanned out taking on several soldiers. We faced guns and knives and mutant gifts I can't even begin to describe. It was bloody and furious and through it all I know Logan was not too far from my side. I know he feared for me. I watched Logan as he went into Wolverine mode – setting free that berserker rage that helps him survive.

As battle went on, Logan and I found it beneficial to tag team against some of the rivals. We used each other as extra support or balance.

Logan hoisting me up so I could flip mid air and round house kick one of our adversaries down. He laced his gloved fingers together and I stepped in. With a burst of incredible strength, he lifted me up sending me well into the air and the extra height and leverage allowed me to attack with great force. I think I shocked Logan with the success of the maneuver.

There was another instance where I leaned forward and Logan rocketed over me using my body for support as he rolled over my back and could kick out at another rival. And with the fall of each soldier, we grew in confidence in the use of teamwork. Scott joked that it became the Wolverine and Panther show as we stood back to back, claws extended, and completed the conquering of the rivals with few casualties.

But to our shock, we would not complete the mission without loss of life. Several soldiers broke free bringing out the hostages and began killing them one by one in front of us. The entire team flew at them trying to stop the senseless slaughter – the hostages were teens or early twenty-year olds.

Bobby froze a few men. Marie touched two until they dropped their weapons. Optic blasts from Scott sent several of them flying into the wall landing unconscious. Logan – Wolverine – let it all go – his killer instincts didn't allow for any kind of mercy at this point and I hated the idea that my own desire for blood took command.

Our claws became red with the blood of several men. I felt my own rage burning as those innocent children fell victim to prejudice. Logan tossed several of the kids behind him and into the safety of Ororo and Kurt. Ororo used her whirlwind powers to create a small hurricane around herself. The eye of this storm was the place of safety where she received those saved. Kurt used his teleporting powers to take each hostage back to the jet one at a time. When the hostages were safe, Kurt took Bobby and Marie back where they kept things as calm as possible awaiting our return.

One mutant came from the shadows. I don't think we ever got his name, but he was a hulking creature with green skin and reptilian eyes. He had a long tail and spikes on the undersides of his wrists that he wielded like daggers. He used them to stab Logan in the back and when he fell to his knees, blood falling from the deep wounds and from the side of his mouth, I knew he was in trouble.

My anger raged – my mate had been injured and I flew at the reptilian mutant using my claws to cut off the bony spikes as they slashed out at me. I cried out with wails of rage and pain and I slashed and slashed and slashed with my recurved claws slicing open wounds that would prove fatal.

I had made my first kill. Initially, I loved the feel of the warm blood flowing over my claws and splashing onto my face. The animal in me desired nothing more than to destroy this adversary and revenge the injury my Wolverine had suffered. And when I looked down to see the huge mutant down on the ground breathing his last breaths, I felt a great sense of dismay. This was exactly what I didn't want – I didn't want to resort to extreme violence, but I did. I had killed. I know it was defense, but I still took a life.

We gathered together and lifted Logan to his feet. His wounds were still serious making him weak and in need of help getting back to the jet. Kurt held Logan against him and teleported back to the jet. Kurt returned to collect the two bodies of the two young boys who were killed. We would give them a memorial service and spread their ashes in the garden at the far end of the mansion. It would be the least we could do for them in their honor.

Marie and Ororo flew the jet closer to the compound and we boarded the jet. I stayed by Logan's side wiping the sweat from his forehead. He was semi-conscious and I talked to him trying to keep him with me. I knew his healing abilities would overcome this, but I was still scared for him. He held my hand weakly and Jean worked on him to patch up what she could prior to our return to the mansion.

Back at the school, Logan was rushed to the medlab. By that time, Logan had all but healed and regained full consciousness. His smug look having escaped death again made me want to kick his arrogant ass. But, he smiled and hugged me instead.

Charles briefed the rescued mutants on their future at the school if they chose to stay. General Miller took custody of the surviving soldiers and through their interrogations, we learned of Magneto's plans to take control. We had won this battle but there was still a war to face and it bothers me that we may have to again fight.

Logan is now asleep in bed by my side as I write this. His arm drapes possessively around me. I spent several hours sitting with
him and Jean as I got through the shock of having taken a life.

There were many men who lost their lives to Wolverine's deadly claws. He tried to comfort me, but my heart still aches that I took part in such violence. The Team tries to fight without use of deadly force, but it sometimes happens and I took part in it. I know there must be a better way to handle this. There has to be a way to make people understand they don't need to fear us, and there must be a way to make Magneto change his wicked plans to become the supreme force with his Brotherhood of mutants.

Why must we fight with each other? Why can't we all learn to live in harmony and peace? For me, these are the human wishes I have, but Panther has tasted blood and that is now my personal battle.