New Mutants Unlimited 37

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New Mutants Unlimited #37
Post by Marisol Morales on Jan 30, 2007, 8:48am

This story has numerous flaws. It's a bit on the long side, for one. There's a lot of unbelievable behavior in it, especially from Electro, whom I've not read much from. Also, the word "she" is CRIMINALLY over-used. Cheerio.

New Mutants Unlimited #37
Blood Is Thicker Than Water

Cover description: On the backdrop of a depressing cityscape, a little girl is standing. She seems about five or six and looks very sad. Marisol is gently hugging her from behind, but her hands are literally covered in blood.

Setting: After Mission #11

Marisol just happened to realize that she hated the rain.

Technically, it wasn't a problem for her. She had nothing against being wet in itself - after all, she could simply make the water not stick to her if she wanted to. She could count the materials that she couldn't will to drop off herself on one hand. But, alas, she also wanted realistic-looking hair, and realistic-looking hair – nor any other part of a human - wasn't perfectly dry in the middle of a rain-storm. On the other hand, her hair definitely did NOT look realistic when it was wet… well, not completely. It was an irritating dilemma…

She was in New York and it was, in fact, raining quite heavily. The sky was covered in a depressing, dark gray shroud that would have plunged the city into darkness if it wasn't so well lit. Puddles were starting to form all around, and there were surprisingly many people about in the streets. For the sake of realism, Marisol had made herself appear to wear an outfit more suitable than her usual yellow sun-dress: jeans and a jacket. Without realizing it, she had made them gray to suit her environment.

In all honesty, she would have preferred sitting indoors and reading a book, or something. But something she would have preferred even more was sitting in a cozy restaurant with Zephyr. That's why she was out there: she was on her way to a date with him. Typically, she would have flown to the City with him, but circumstances had prevented that. She didn't know what circumstances, and didn't care. For Zephyr, she was gladly ready to go through an uncomfortable bus ride (thank goodness, there weren't many people riding, because of the rain) and an hour of walking in lousy weather. And more…

It was an embarrassing thought, but it seemed like she had gotten lost. It's not like she technically wasn't familiar with life in a big city, but she really didn't use to go out much. She knew the address of the restaurant and the area in which to look for it, she just didn't have a specific idea on how to get to that area. At least not from where she currently was: because she didn't KNOW where she currently was. She didn't want to ask for directions… It was half an hour to the time Zephyr had set and the thought of being late was a horrible one.

Of course, things couldn't be expected to go smoothly. She had just turned down into a back alley – one of the many shortcuts of this kind she took – when two men approached her. Like with all passersby, she ignored them. They didn't return the gesture.
One of them was bald and slightly hunched over, with a ratty face, piercing green eyes and a smug expression. The other was tall and skinny, but had a sort of dazed look – as if he couldn't wait to get home for his next fix of whatever. Both of them had their hands in their pockets conspicuously.
“Good evening,” said the ratty-looking man with a pathetic parody of a smooth voice, “Why don't you just give us all your money and other valuables, girl? Remember, no one has to get hurt.”
He smiled crossly, and pulled out a knife from his coat pocket. His companion wordlessly pulled out a gun and aimed it at her.

Of course, Marisol had no money. Not with her, and not really anywhere else either. She didn't bother informing her would-be robbers that. After a moment of hesitation, she jumped into movement. It was really amazingly graceful, almost like a dance where every step was carefully measured. She looked human all the way through, but moved in ways that should have been impossible for humans. It all happened in the span of a few seconds…
First, she advanced to the ratty man. She grabbed a hold of his arm with the knife, pointed it away from herself and broke it. A slight press was all that was needed. She twirled around and delivered a punch to his chest, sending him flying against a metal dumpster with a loud, metallic thump. A bare moment later, one of her hands extended into a flat, sharp blade and she swooped down on the tall man. With a long, fluid arc, she cut the barrel of his gun in half, sending droplets of water flying. She was originally thinking of taking his entire hand, but decided not to at the last second. The robber buckled slightly from the shock, and would have fallen on his back hasn't she already rounded up behind him and steadied him… so she could bring her fists down on the back of his head. There may or may not have been a crack, she wasn't sure. He fell to the ground limply.

For a brief while, she overlooked her handiwork. Characteristically, there was some doubt in her mind about her actions. Should she have been softer on them? Harder? Maybe she shouldn't have minded them at all. She had a feeling the ratty man was only faking unconsciousness, but didn't want to check up on her suspicion. She was in a hurry, so she walked off again. The rain didn't abate…

Soon she was walking on the streets again, passing through the wetness looking like a frightened puppy. Marisol's normal procedure for doing anything was to keep her gaze on the ground… but that would have been a rather silly thing to do while trying to find her way. She kept her chin up, looking around for street signs and other pointers for her location. And she saw the people pass. She could have asked for directions from any one of them, but didn't. A middle-aged woman with an umbrella giving her a pitying look just made her feel uncomfortable. A boy about her age flashed her a daring smile and she found herself looking at the soaked sidewalk once again.

As the minutes passed, her steps became faster and more frantic. Even her already-anxious expression deepened further. She REALLY didn't want to be late..

Something suddenly caught her attention. It was a loud wail from across the street, highly reminiscent of an alarm. Like the other people around, she stopped dead in her tracks and looked over. A small jewelry store was glowing ominously.
Acting almost purely on instinct, Marisol was already hurrying across the road. She could hear the a car skidding to a halt and some curses, but didn't pay any attention to it. The pedestrians of NYC seemed to have much safer idea on what to do, as they were moving away from the scene… as if being pulled away by a single consciousness controlling them – or acting on decades of experience such matters.

Marisol walked to the store, and carefully glanced through the large front windows. Her eyes were drawn to the less apparent things in first order. It seemed to be a rather classy business, though rather small in itself. Still, the fine and clean oak furniture would have made the store a good fit for a better part of town. The owner seemed to be a small, funny-looking man with a gray up-turned mustache who reminded Marisol of Hercule Poirot. He was wearing an explicitly perfect suit and looked rather harassed. There was also a cashier around – a stoic-looking and very tall young woman who seemed more shocked than fearful. She was busy collecting the jewelry from the stands and stuffing it into a large, black briefcase on the counter. The offender was rather clear: a man in a green and yellow costume, with a headdress resembling bolts of lightning. The air around him was crackling with a blue glow, and he seemed to be shouting commands from the middle of the room.

…and that was that.

Marisol leaned back, away from the window, with a resigned sigh. She had absolutely no hope of defeating Electro, ever. It was impossible. Just thinking of it made her feel ridiculous. There was nothing she could do… She sighed again (this time with a touch of exasperation) and looked around in the semi-empty street. She didn't see a Spider-Man swooping in…
There wasn't a bit of confidence in her, but she nevertheless felt like she had to do something. The only way to do it was to bluff, which was as crazy as it was stupid… But even as she chastised herself for what a horrible idea it was, she was already going along with it.

The most obvious thing to do was to scare him into submission. And how could this be accomplished? With power…

She began to change herself. First, she simply grew in size. She developed a decidedly male physique, and bulging muscles. Her hair turned amazingly fair (she hoped Electro wouldn't notice that it was dry) and an a large skullcap with wings appeared at the top of her head. Her skin turned considerably paler and her clothes changed. Her jeans were exchanged with tight leather pants and her sneakers with equally leathery boots. A flowing red cape appeared on her back. The chain-mail was difficult, but it too worked out more or less realistically. Throughout the whole process, her face was in constant motion – attaining a Scandinavian jawline and light blue eyes. In the end, it was by far not an exact copy, but undoubtedly similar to Thor.

Finally, a large mallet appeared in her hand. From that point on, it was a matter of acting ability. She took another meaningless breath and jump-crashed straight through the display windows. She felt bad about it, but couldn't imagine Thor politely stepping in through the front door in the middle of a robbery.

“Cease thy tomfoolery, villain!” she declared loudly. Her voice sounded like booming thunder, almost literally. She had no idea about Thor's voice, so she improvised.

Electro whirled around with a show of lights, only to find himself facing off with a thunder-god. The lights receded a bit and his jaw dropped comically. For a few seconds, he could do nothing but gape like a fish.

Marisol stood proudly, with her back straight. It felt a lot easier to look confident in this form. She started walking towards Electro, in slow and regal steps. The man's expression changed. It moved from just afraid to terrified and desperate. And desperate people could do desperate things…
“Stay back!” he shouted. It seemed like a shout, but his voice wasn't loud enough. “I'm not afraid of you!”

Marisol barked a laugh.
“Verily, thou art a fool,” she said, “Thy powers make thee a powerful warrior of Midgard, but what are they compared to the God of Thunder?” She pronounced the capitalization carefully. “Nothing! Now bow thee down before the Son of Odin, so that he mayst spare your worthless life!” After a moment's thought, she added: “Verily!”

Electro shakily held his arm towards the stoic cashier-lady.
“I'll kill her!”, he said, “I'll kill her if you don't go away…”

“Nay,” said the faux-Thor simply. Internally, she was panicking. Lightning happened to crackle outside. It was weak and far away, but accentuated the point perfectly. The fight seemed to leave Electro. He fell on his knees with a rambunctious string of curse words. He had stopped glowing…
Marisol jumped closer and grabbed the first thing that she touched upon. Before Electro had the chance to be confused, she clocked him with his own suitcase as hard as she could. He was thoroughly knocked out and the case broke in half, showering the floor with gold, silver and precious stones.

The owner and the clerk stared at her. She stared back for a moment, then bolted back out of the store. Once she was back out in the street, she turned back into her usual form, but kept running. While this was probably among the most death-defying things she had done in her whole life, this was hardly on her mind. The number one thing was, of course, the fear of being late, as it was now probably around ten minutes to her date. The number two thing was the oddly random thought that the real Thor really wouldn't be pleased with this…

Her steps made splashes, but she paid that no heed.

She was getting seriously worried now. The people she soon started meeting again passed by as blurs. She didn't have time to look at them, or be worried. She just wanted to get there… After a few minutes of running, when she had passed several blocks already, she was starting to recognize her surroundings. Very soon after, she realized she knew the way. The quaint Chinese restaurant where she was supposed to meet Zephyr was just a few turns away. They went to a different restaurant on every 'restaurant-date', so he could experience new sorts of foods on all of them…
The realization that she was almost there cut back on her anxiety, but not too much.

Marisol wasn't really religious… She believed in the fact there was was something in the universe, an all-powerful and benevolent force that may or may not have been God. It might just as well been a less-evil equivalent of Mephisto, or the like.
Whatever it was, she was cursing it when she came upon a police line in the streets. Several officers were keeping a curious crowd in check. She slithered through the ranks of the onlookers to get a better look at what was going on.

A group of several squad cars had surrounded a 7-11. A lot of policemen were bustling around in the rain awkwardly, but no superheroes were in sight. Straining her hearing, Marisol could hear the phrases “armed robber” and “unknown number of hostages”. Her immediate thought was, naturally, to simply walk away. There were a huge number of reason why she should have: there were trained police officers at the scene who would take care of it, she didn't want responsibility for an unknown number of hostages and she was late for a very important meeting…

Everything would be all right, even without her, but… she couldn't just leave. She had to admit, she was decent at stealthy work and she'd have a huge advantage over the cops with the guns… Still, what if someone innocent got hurt because of her?
Even as she was still struggling with her decision, she already made her way back through the crowd and snook into a tight, dark space between two buildings.

She turned into a cat. A rather shaggy and disorderly cat, but one that looked too fat to live on the streets. She molded the wet fur carefully. It was a bit uncomfortable, to turn into things this little. She had to compress herself – her entire volume – into an area ten times smaller than she was. The sensation reminded her of that one time as a child when she had eaten empty half the refrigerator and felt so full she could have burst.

She padded back towards the crowd, and beyond it. Nobody noticed the fat, gray cat with a purposeful stride, so she slipped inside the building easily. On the way, she could hear the policemen discussing the placement of snipers.

Marisol snook towards the cash register through the shelves filled with edibles, making sure not to be seen. The scene made her thoughtful.
There were fives hostages in the small store, all of them in various stages of fright. None of them looked as frightened as the robber. He was a young black man, maybe three or four years older than Marisol. He was wearing glasses and had very well-combed hair. He was sweating profusely and shaking. In his grip, he held a tiny old lady who was breathing in short, nervous wheezes. He had an ancient-looking revolver pointed at her chin from below. Six bullets… just enough to kill all his hostages and himself. Nothing seemed to be happening – the robber just held his grip on the old lady and didn't speak. There was a very awkward silence, broken only by the slight sobs of one of the hostages. The robber didn't seem to know what to do…

His position made it very hard for Marisol to strike. It was possible she could take him down with no shots fired, but it was a risk she wasn't willing to take. She thought about the boy with the gun, the circumstances that could have forced him into this, what could have happened to have escalated the situation… and how he was trapped now. She decided she wouldn't be satisfied with just knocking him out anyway and… started transforming.

Once again, she grew. In a second, she was seven feet tall, though bent over so she was out of sight behind the shelves. A dark shroud surrounded her; a large cloak so flowing and airy that it seemed almost liquid. It was so pitch black that it hurt the eyes to look at it, and it covered all but her hands and her face… only they weren't her hands and her face any longer. Her head was now an eternally grinning skull, chalk-white and eerily contrasting with the cloak. Her hands became skeletally thin and were suddenly holding a small stick, which quickly grew into a staff as tall as she was. It's end curved into an impossibly sharp blade, making it a scythe.

She stood up.

The robber reacted as Marisol expected him to.
“What-?” he yelled chaotically, “What the hell is this?!”

Marisol didn't reply, just moved closer. She appeared to be swooping evenly instead of taking steps. Her cloak dragged along the ground behind her…
“YOU KNOW,” she eventually said, her voice a hollow, booming whisper. The hostages stared at her, and she could hear a man wording an unbelieving “What the fuck?”

The robber didn't say anything for a while, but his hand twitched dangerously.
“What is this…?” he asked again, this time much more softly.
Marisol kept her empty sockets' gaze on him. “I'M HERE TO COLLECT.”
The boy took a deep breath. He seemed to be tearing up.
“I don't… I don't wanna die…”
“THEN DON'T,” replied Marisol, “THERE'S ALWAYS A CHOICE.”

The robber sighed hysterically.
“This has to be some kind of trick,” he said desperately, but Marisol knew he believed. “This can't be real… This is a nightmare. I don't wanna die…” He bit his lip bloody. “I don't know… what to do.”
“YOU KNOW,” repeated Marisol. It was very hard to think up what to say…

After a long while of thought, the robber relented. He let go of the old lady, who scurried off to the others. Nobody else dared to move. The robber held his gun in front of himself, and stared at it intensely. Marisol took a step closer.
“THE GUN,” she said, and held out her bony hand to him.
Still shaking, the boy placed it in her hand slowly. Marisol made it disappear in the recesses of the cloak, and stepped back slightly, beckoning towards the door. The boy was crying openly now, but moved… to go and surrender. She followed him with her gaze until he stepped out. There was a collective sigh of relief from the hostages, but they were still staring at her.

Marisol felt like cheering, until she happened to spot a clock on the wall. 7:10. The instant she saw it, she retracted herself back into a cat and bolted deeper into the store, heading for a hopefully existing back door. She found it and pushed it open like no cat should be able to. Immediately, she found herself face to face with two policemen with their guns out. The sudden exit shocked them well enough, but they refrained from firing.
“How did a cat-?” began one of them, but Marisol didn't hear him finish. She was already running onwards.

She took a left at the first opportunity, remembering to head for where she wanted to go. As soon as she was out of sight, she turned herself back into her usual form and just kept running. Somewhere along the way, she pulled the revolver out of her chest, emptied it of bullets and dumped it into a garbage can she came across.

She was almost there now, she knew that. Being a little late wasn't the end of the world…
Part of her told her that Zephyr would forgive her, another part kept repeating that there was nothing to forgive. She tried not to think of it.

She was already hoping she would get there without any further interruptions. She truly wished she had been right. Very suddenly, she came upon a man in her path. He looked to be in his thirties and seemed about average-sized. He had a large mane of black hair and a unibrow, and he seemed to be browsing through a wallet in an extremely nonchalant manner.

There was a woman lying on the ground next to him. Leaning forward a bit, she could see that her throat had been slit, but her eyes also fell on her face. It was frozen in a state of pure horror, and Marisol didn't think she could ever forget it. She was a pretty woman with red hair, maybe in her mid-twenties. She was half-naked and her legs were splayed apart…
Marisol felt very cold suddenly. She looked back towards the man, who was observing her with an expression of absolute indifference.

Marisol was almost ashamed for not feeling angry. She felt something, but it was not anger. It felt unfamiliar and unusual and horrible. Like a hot knife was stuck in her chest.
She realized, as she rammed her hand in the man's guts, that it was hatred. The man looked far from indifferent anymore. He seemed frightened, and in pain, and too stupefied to move. She welcomed the expression, and twisted her razor-sharp claws inside his stomach to see more of it. Blood poured out of him.
She wanted to ask him if he felt sorry, but just couldn't find her voice…
Instead, she raised her other hand to his neck. She made sure he could see see her claws. The claws that were sharper and stronger than those of any animal… claws that could scratch their way through a steel wall. His panicked eyes followed them as they moved down under his chin and out of his view… to his throat.

Then she pressed down.

In an instant, half of the man's neck was cut to shreds, sending out sprays of blood. A splash hit her straight in the face, but she didn't blink. She let him go once he had stopped gurgling.

For a while, she stared at the woman's corpse. It was still warm, and Marisol blamed herself. If she had come five minutes earlier, she could have stopped it. If she had just wasted a little less time, or if she had just ran a bit faster…

She wanted to cry…

There were people all around, she realized. Just a meager hundred feet separated them from the nearest street, but to Her it must have made no difference. Everybody was just going about their business, with no thought spent on a woman they didn't know existed. They might as well have been on another planet… What would have happened if Marisol hadn't come along there? Would she have been forgotten? Could the man have just walked away? Marisol felt like she was the only one that cared. And yet, she had failed to do anything other than deliver meaningless vengeance…

She didn't feel guilty about killing the man. She supposed she hadn't really felt guilty the last time either, but that was neither here nor there. This was different. On some level, she felt horrible. There was an unpleasant feeling inside her every cell that wasn't just related to being late. But it was NOT guilt. She'd do it again without a second thought… do it again ten times.

She looked down on her hands calmly. They looked normal now, with normal human fingertips. The rain had already washed away most of the blood. With a thought, she dispelled the rest. Her body became slicker – the blood simply flowed off her hands, her face and her chest, leaving not a single trace. She noticed the wallet the man had dropped in his agony and picked it up.

Sure enough, it contained a driver's license. Her name had been Janice Reed… She would never forget.

Marisol dropped the wallet and walked on. Very soon, she reached a small square. She recognized it. The restaurant was a few hundred steps along the street on the other end of it. She moved on, now with no hurry. She was late anyway, a few extra minutes wouldn't matter.

She could hear crying. Almost automatically, her eyes turned towards it. It was a little girl, maybe four or five years old. She had cute pigtails that were soaked from the rain, and she was wailing rather loudly. Marisol felt a sting – none of the passersby seemed to notice her. If anything, they were avoiding her…
Marisol looked in the direction she knew the restaurant to be. She didn't have time for this. She needed Zephyr badly right now. She would feel bad for letting him wait… But never, ever in a million years would she leave a helpless child alone in the rain. Marisol walked up to her hastily.

“What's your name?” she asked gently. The girl quieted down a bit, but didn't answer. Marisol knelt down next to her, grabbed her shoulders softly and repeated the question.
“Clarice…” she replied with a sniff.
“What's wrong, Clarice?” Her voice was as kind as it could be, and her smile looked actually encouraging.
“I… I lost my mommy,” replied the child with a desperate look.

Oh, no…

Re: New Mutants Unlimited #37
Post by Protoman on Jan 30, 2007, 10:49am

I already told you my opinion on this, it's quite good. I like how you changed the ending.

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