I. Ignition

The young fox whose cage was labeled simply as J-47 whined in pain as a needle was again rammed into his flank at the Plum Island Research Facility. The thick liquid burned as it coursed into his body, one of the many injections that the fox had received over the past several months in secret experimentation designed to turn him into a biological weapon.

Although the fox struggled with all of his might against the restraints which held him, he couldn't break free of them nor twist his head sufficiently around to bite the hand of the technician who injected him. In the extremity of his pain and desperation, the fox pushed outward with the full force of his will to make the hurting stop.

Something unexpected and remarkable then happened; a small spot on the arm of the lab technician's white coat began to burn. This was in itself most unusual, as the fabric was specially treated to be flame-retardant. The technician stared incredulously at the growing flame for a moment before beating at it with his hand, but the fire continued to spread up his arm. He dropped the hypo used to inject the fox and began to strip off the burning jacket, but the flames had reached the man's face, prompting a panicked reaction. Burning merrily, the technician ran screaming from the room.

Specimen J-47 had by then managed to wiggle out of the restraining clamps holding him, and he dropped to the floor before advancing cautiously out of the room...

II. The Drawing

The fox didn't know that he had been genetically engineered as a biological weapon, nor did he know that other animals at the Plum Island Facility had also been so created, each with their own unique ability. Common to each animal specimen, however, was intelligence elevated to human levels to render them capable of independent operation in their field of deployment. The animals also shared a capacity for telepathic communication with one another so as to be able to coordinate their efforts towards the accomplishment of a mission.

As he cautiously entered an adjoining room to the chamber where he had been developed and raised, the fox known as J-47 beheld a gray cat wandering about. "Who are you?," thought the fox in his mind, a message which was telepathically communicated to the cat, and readily understood by him.

"Why, 'ello yourself!," responded the cat, also telepathically. "I must be M-12, since they call me that. And who might you be?"

"J-47," replied the fox. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be rude. We seem to be able to communicate our thoughts to one another."

"Not to worry," reassured the cat.

"But why are you wandering about freely? Did you escape from the men in white coats as I did?," asked the fox.

"No, but they couldn't very well keep me locked up," explained the cat. "Allow me to demonstrate," he offered. With that, the cat dematerialized before the fox's eyes and reappeared several feet away.

"I'm a teleport!," explained the cat called M-12 with a grin to the incredulous fox.

"So you can move from one place to another simply by thinking about it?," asked the fox.

"Yes," replied the cat. "I can teleport through solid matter as well."

"If that's the case," pressed the fox, "why don't you just beam through the walls or whatever it is that you do, and get out of here?"

"Well," mused M-12 the cat, "I've done that from time to time, but they feed me here. This is my home, or as close to one as I have. What is it that you do?," he asked the fox.

"Apparently this," said the fox telepathically, extending a black-furred paw covered with flame.

"Doesn't that hurt?," marveled the cat.

"Nope," reasssured the fox. "I apparently set one of the men in white coats on fire, but he was hurting me! Are there others like us?"

"I've met some," answered the cat, "but the white coats seem to move us out of here after a while. They really don't appear to want us to meet, like they're scared of what we can do, or something. There's a ferret in the next room, though.-Come on, I'll introduce you!," he offered.

The fox and cat padded into the next room, another laboratory center. An animal crate was there, but it was completely covered over rather than like the open wire cages elsewhere seen.

"So why can't this guy see out?," asked the fox.

The cat chuckled. "He's a mental dominant," the feline explained. "If he locks eyes with you, he can make you do pretty much anything that he wants!"

"Who's talking about me out there?," a voice demanded to know from within the covered crate.

"Just M-12, with a new friend!," answered the cat. "Care to come out for a spell?," he asked the ferret within the crate.

"Do I ever!," answered the captive creature. "These walls are starting to close in on me!"

"Be right back!," promised the cat, disappearing right before the fox. In a moment he reappeared, his forelegs wrapped around a ferret.

"So you can take others with you when you teleport!," observed the fox.

"Only what I can wrap my limbs around," corrected the cat. "R-21, meet my new friend J-47, the fox. He's a pyrokinetic, but we won't hold that against him," giggled the cat.

The fox and ferret shook paws. "So what's this mental dominance thing?," asked the fox.

The ferret looked at the cat. "Mind a little demonstration?," he asked. The cat reassured him that he did not. Looking into the cat's eye's, the ferret ordered, "Bark like a dog!"

A blank look passed momentarily over the cat's face, and then he began yipping and barking in a most unfeline- type fashion.

"Alright, that's enough!," interjected the ferret, and the barking stopped. A blank expression passed over the cat's features again as he returned to himself.

"What just happened?," asked the cat, genuinely confused.

"You're either a gifted actor, or you speak a foreign language!," replied the fox. That speculation was cut short, however, by the entrance of three armed men into the room.

"I think we're in trouble!," worried the cat.

III. Firefight

Weapons were trained on the laboratory animal trio by the Plum Island security guards. "It's the augmented creatures! They've escaped!," spoke one of them.

The commender of the guards nodded to his fellows. "We're ordered to terminate them," he said grimly. "They've proven much too dangerous to live. Specimen J-47 has already severely burned a researcher.-Shoot them!," he ordered.

"I'm afraid we can't allow that to happen," replied the fox telepathically. And then just as they were developed to do, three genetically-augmented animals began working together instinctively, coordinating their efforts to survive and overcome adversity.

The ferret locked eyes with one guard and reached into his mind. "Go to sleep!," he commanded. The guard immediately collapsed to the floor and began snoring.

"Open fire!," ordered the commander of the guards to his remaining subordinate. The fox had already countered, however, reaching deeply within himself and projecting an intensely hot thermal aura, kind of a shield, in front of them. This bullets upon hitting this invisible barrier were instantaneously vaporized into harmless puffs of gas which dissipated and wafted away.

The ferret's face twisted in anger as he locked eyes with the guard's commander, reached into that man's mind, and pushed hard. "You son of a bitch!," snarled the ferret, "You're blind!"

Darkness descended on the commander of the guards like a curtain, and he dropped his weapon to claw at his unseeing eyes and scream, blinded and helpless.

The remaining guard still held his weapon aloft but was trembling so badly that his shots went wild. The ferret looked at him and smiled darkly. "And you," he spoke into the man's mind, "why, you're just a big baby!," he declared as he wrapped his will around the man and mentally pushed him.

The guard's muscles suddenly became incapable of supporting him, and he dropped to the floor, wet himself, and began crying, fully infantile.

The fox ceased his intense concentration, and the energy of the protective thermal shield that he had generated returned to him. "Nice tricks!," he commended the ferret.

"I think we've just successfully completed our first mission," grinned the cat. "We should be going now." With that, the cat wrapped one foreleg around each of his two companions and teleported them through the solid cinder block walls of the compound outside to freedom.

"Thank God that's over!," exclaimed the fox.

"No," corrected the ferret, "it's not over yet!"

IV. The Mission

"What do you mean, it isn't over yet?," the fox asked the ferret.

"The Plum Island Research Facility must be destroyed," replied the ferret. "Burn it, J-47...burn it to the ground!"

The fox shook his head in the negative. "You've neutralized those guards, but they're still alive inside there. Researchers are inside, too. We're free of them now...no one needs to die."

The ferret was unswayed, however. He looked inside the fox's eyes and repeated, "I said...BURN IT TO THE GROUND!"

The fox's expression grew blank as the ferret's will began to dominate him. "NO!," screamed the cat. "You can't mentally dominate one of your own kind!" With that, the cat wrapped his forelegs around the ferret and teleported him a quarter mile away, far beyond the range at which his powers of dominance were effective.

The ferret was outraged. "How dare you do that?," he sputtered. "Maybe I'll control you first, and then make the fox burn down the facility!"

"How do you know that before you do that I won't teleport you underground, or perhaps into solid rock, and leave you there?," asked the cat. To illustrate his point, the cat grabbed the ferret and immersed them both neck-deep in the earth.

"Alright, you win!," conceded the ferret. "Just take me out of here!"

"If you behave!," admonished the cat. In a moment he teleported them both back to where the fox stood, having come to himself.

"Maybe I should just burn YOU to a cinder, R-21, instead of the building!," declared the angry fox to the ferret.

"Cool down, I was out of line, and I'm sorry," placated the ferret, holding up his paws submissively. "Maybe we should each just go our separate ways," he suggested.

"No," said the cat firmly. "We were genetically engineered to each have special powers, and to require and use them cooperatively to achieve a goal."

"That's right," agreed the fox. "But we don't have to use our powers as weapons in some war or covert action."

"The pursuit of the government will be relentless," warned the ferret. "What then would you suggest that we do?"

"Rumors exist of others of our kind out there," stated the cat. "Somewhere, there's supposed to be a snow leopard with god-like powers who's building a colony of other genetically-augmented animals."

"We should seek the others out," advised the fox, "and our chances of survival and success in the world of men are best if we stay together!"

...and with that thought in mind, the trio of animals nature never intended set forth to find others of their kind as well as a place in this world...

(The End?)