New Mutants Unlimited 38

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New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Alexander "Cadmus" Baptiste on Jan 31, 2007, 8:25am

New Mutants Unlimited #38
Just Another Day in the Life.

Cover Description: A sad looking little girl plays with her dolls in the illuminated foreground. The background is fairly dark, but Geforce's outline is visible. His eyes are shimmering blue.

Setting: The first scene takes place somewhere within the week of New Mutants 111 - Living the Good Life. The second scene takes place in the middle of the night on the day of Visiting Hours.

—-

Say what you will about McCoy - he can choose a sturdy base. It was an observation Geforce had been making ever since The Calamity. During the course of doing exactly what Sinister had hired him to do - hunting down the "Dark" Beast - Greg had noticed that essentially every one of McCoy's scattered bases had taken extremely minimal amounts of damage. Not for lack of trying on the earthquake's part - the area around most of the bases were decimated. But the bases themselves where in good shape. Granted, the interior was always disheveled (tables or machinery knocked over, cupboards having been emptied of their contents and the like), but the structure itself typically stood strong. Even Sinister's current base had taken some damage in the chaos of The Calamity. It was truly impressive. Had Greg been an architect, he would have been fascinated.

But he wasn't an architect. He did not build things; he destroyed them. Which is what he had found himself doing in anger every time he came across a place that McCoy had used at one point as a base of operations, but was not using anymore. It was difficult to marvel at an architectural wonder when inside of it you were faced with nothing but repeated failure. Living up to the nickname his last set of teammates had given to him, he brought down every hideaway as he left it. How many was it now? He stopped keeping count after the tenth one. Every time they arrived it seemed clear that the site had been in use recently but it was never occupied - at least by who they wanted it to be occupied by - when they got there. It was infuriating, to say the least. Sinister had his own reasons for wanting McCoy to be captured. Ending the wholly unauthorized use of his own work to make abominations and possibly something else that he had not yet made Greg privy to. But for Greg? It was all about revenge. Six years. Six years of being McCoy's guinea pig. Being poked and prodded in myriad ways and having his powers pushed farther than they ought to have gone. Had Sinister not repaired him before sending him back, false memories and all, to his parents, Greg would still be deformed from the experimentation did to him. That alone would have been bad enough. But McCoy had done it to Nadia as well. He would fry for that. Sinister demanded that McCoy is delivered alive. But after he had extracted whatever it was that he needed from McCoy, Sinister had assured Greg that McCoy was his to do with as he saw fit.

It was a simple enough deal in theory, but the complete incapability on Greg's part to bring McCoy in was sort of a hitch. He seemed to be constantly a step ahead of Greg and his crew. As Greg wanders through the current site, an abandoned Department K compound in the Canadian Shield that McCoy had found and retrofitted for his use - though he did not seem to be there now, it began to dawn on him how he could always be arriving just a few days too late. He learned of the link between himself and Nadia when he needed to find her after she awoke from her coma and fled… but when his memories were restored he was finally able to explain it. Sharon. He didn't know her last name. She was with him and Nadia when they were under McCoy's "care." She was an empath or telepath or something of the sort. Maybe both. Either way, what she was simply wasn't enough for McCoy - he was interested in what she could be. So he did what he always did: he pushed her. Put her through processes designed to boost her abilities, both in range and raw power. It worked. It always worked, really. Completely insane or not, McCoy was a genius. But you can't forget about that "completely insane" part.

More often then not, he would push too far. That was what he did here. Sharon died. Painfully. And, oddly enough, explosively. Not in the typical "fire" and "kaboom" sense, but on the mental level - if that makes sense. An empathic or telepathic - again, Greg never really caught what her powers were - wave tore through the room and everyone in it. Greg and Nadia were to be the next ones put on the table that day and were bound to the wall. McCoy had been standing right over Sharon as she died. The effects of the wave were not felt for some time. Sharon was forgotten all together - people died on McCoy all the time. If you dwelled on individual deaths, you would spend your time doing nothing but mourning. Eventually though, the siblings felt the effects of her death - a vague and inexplicable connection between themselves. They never really explored it because, frankly, life with McCoy was a balance between pain and waiting for the pain to come back. If you weren't on the table, you were trying to sleep or huddled up in a corner praying that you got to be one of the lucky ones that died next time you were on the table. The inmates didn't talk much, to say the least.

They forgot all about the link when Mister Sinister found them and repressed their memories of their time with McCoy. While it never really went away, Greg had never truly felt it again until Exodus put him down telepathically and the backlash woke Nadia up. Greg didn't buy it at first but it was this very connection that made Sinister choose him specifically for finding McCoy. The Dark Beast was in the room with them when Sharon died, if you recall. While it was certainly stronger between himself and Nadia (perhaps it was due to the sibling connection, he wasn't exactly sure, but Greg could constantly pin down the direction and general area she was either in or had occupied recently), a link still existed between himself and McCoy. Sinister had seen it in his mind when he went in to alter Greg's memories years ago and when he decided to renew his effort to find McCoy, Greg was the first option he thought of, apparently. It wasn't as exact as with Nadia, but Greg could typically locate McCoy. Where the issue came in was that due to the weakness of the signal, he often got places that McCoy used to occupy. The worst case was a lab in London that apparently hadn't been used in a month. Typically it wasn't so bad as that, but it didn't really matter as how "not bad" it was because a failure was still a failure.

It only dawned on Greg now as he wandered through the retrofitted Department K complex what the matter was that compounded his troubles. When he met Nadia on Christmas she had mentioned to him that she could feel him through the connection as well, though without her memories restored she wouldn't know why they had a link. It stood to reason, of course, that McCoy could feel him as well. And if he could, then he would know when they were preparing to make a move and be able to pick up his essentials and leave, and due to the lag on Greg's side of the connection he would be none the wiser until he arrived. It wasn't that complex to work out but Greg had never thought of it because,

"I'm fucking retarded."

Stopping in his tracks, Greg was burying his face in his palms. A smiling Scalphunter came up from behind him.

"Won't get any arguments from us there, Roofdropper," the nickname followed him everywhere, "but care to be a little bit more specific on why?"

Greg shook his head dejectedly. "It's a long story. Short version? I think it's safe to say that we won’t be finding the target here either."

***

He hated being right all the time. The compound showed no signs of life. They had come across nothing while searching prior to Greg's revelation, and they had found nothing afterwards. The mere fact that nothing was loosed upon them when they entered - not even some form of automatic defenses - was enough of a sign that failure awaited them in here. But they would still comb through every last corner of the compound because they had to. You don't return to Sinister after failing an endeavor without being as certain as possible that success was out of the question. He's usually unnervingly calm, but once or twice… well it's enough to say that they did not want to risk his ire. So search they did, despite not expecting anything to come of it. Eventually they came across one of the larger rooms. Greg shuddered as the four of them entered.

Scalphunter, Arclight and Prism looked around while Greg stood at the entrance and observed from there. McCoy was using this room as a makeshift laboratory. A laboratory. That was undoubtedly what he called it. Greg called it a torture chamber. What could be described as a warped dentist chair sat in the center of the large room. Spatterings of dried blood stained the chair and a bunch of random spots surrounding it. The typical "instruments of mad science" that you would expect to see littered the trays on the table next to it and even more were hanging from the ceiling. Greg had spent a lot of time in chairs like these…

"Hey, newbie, get with the program. Over here."

Greg snapped out of it and looked to the far corner of the room where Prism's voice was coming from. The others were huddled around a set of monitor mounted upon the wall. It a few seconds he joined the others.

"Well, we're pretty much done here. Entire complex is up here for all to see." said Scalphunter as he messed around on the console to cycle through each area of the base, "No sign of McCoy anywhere. Not even a fucking stray hair. You would think the bastard sheds. We're splitting. That's one mo-"

"Wait!" Prism cut him off. "Go back a few screens. You didn't catch that? No, too far. There."

It was understandable that they missed it. The screen was dark, none of the people it was displaying were moving, and Scalphunter had been scrolling pretty fast. There was a group of people, the details of which were hard to make out, but they were in various positions on the ground. A few in the fetal position, one off in the corner who looked like he was praying and another… playing with a doll? Curious.

"Ah. Fine." Scalphunter said looking fairly bored. "We deal with this, then leave. I do not intend to miss The Office for the second week in a row." He points to a hallway perpendicular to the one they entered through. "That way."

"TiVo, bitch." Prism chuckles as he follows Scalphunter down the hallway. "Old man, you need to get with the times."

There was more to the banter but Greg tuned it out. McCoy called them Pens. They were rarely actual pens - typically just fortified rooms. It was just a name. All the same, it was where he kept his subjects. It appeared that they might have arrived closer to his departure than he thought. He hadn't had time to subdue and pack them up before his exit. Maybe after they finished they could track him down from here…

They arrived soon enough - no need to place the pen too far away from the lab after all. There was a large steel door in front of them.

"This it?" Arclight posed.

"Yes. Roofdropper?"

Greg sighed at the name. Just the improbability of him managing to come up with it completely independently of the New Mutants… Whatever. His eyes shimmered blue, signaling the use of powers. The doors creaked for a few seconds flying off of their hinges and over the group's head.

"I knew we kept you around for something…"

Ignoring Prism, Greg barges past Scalphunter and enters the room first. The lights from the hall illuminated the otherwise near pitch-black room. The guy who was praying was still doing so but otherwise the rest of them backed away from the Marauders as they stepped into the room, putting themselves right up against the wall. They looked bewildered, frightened but most of all surprised. They probably hadn't seen anyone but McCoy and whatever assistants he had working for him in years. Greg knew the feeling well. Years ago when Sinister found and liberated him, he had felt the exact same thing.

In a slight surprise, one of them left the wall and walked towards them. Greg remembered being in the same situation and couldn't imagine doing the same thing. He had been pretty much paralyzed. In a different mood this knowledge would have hurt his ego - especially because it was a mere child that was looking at him fearlessly where he had been pretty much petrified when the same thing happened to him. The little girl. She was still dragging her doll behind her. Couldn't have been older than eight or nine. Ten somehow seemed like a stretch. She became easier to see the closer she got to him and the light of the hallway. As she stopped a few feet away from him, Greg looked her up and down. She looked… fragile. Her skin was cracked and peeling away all over. She was pale. Her red hair looked mostly healthy but it seemed as if it was in the early stages of thinning. Holding her arm up to shield her eyes from the light she spoke in a voice that sounded too strong for her body.

"Who… are you?"

Greg looked down at her in silence for a brief moment. He couldn't really imagine either what her mutation or what McCoy had put her through - how much of her appearance was a result of her genetics and how much of it was McCoy manipulating and pushing her past her limits. Ultimately, it didn't really matter. His gaze flashed around the room and settled back upon her. He emphasized with them all so much. He knew what she needed to hear, mostly because he had prayed to hear it every night. His eyes flashing, he spoke solemnly.

"I'm an angel. I've come to set you free."

She reacted to his words with a look of utter confusion, but Greg could see the glint of hope in her eyes. This girl wasn't stupid. She probably possessed the naiveté of childhood, but that wasn't entirely it either.

"Where are your wings?"

The reason she was entertaining the idea of believing him, Greg felt, was that she had been desperately hoping for, praying for and dreaming about something either just like this or very close to it happening. She just wanted to believe that the dark times had come to an end. And they have. Greg kneels down, putting himself closer to eye level.

"Oh," he exclaims as he smiles and tries to sound as endearing as possible, "I guess you never saw It's a Wonderful Life. I'm just an Angel, Second Class. I earn my wings by helping you. And that's exactly what I've come to do."

No, he thought as she dropped her doll and nearly tackled him in an embrace, she's not stupid at all. He was momentarily taken aback by the suddenness of it but quickly snapped out of it and hugged her back. She just needs this. She was saying something or other through the tears but her face being buried in his shoulder muffled it. As she rambled on, Greg heard footsteps coming up behind him and soon enough Scalphunter was visible and standing in front of him.

"Hush, now. No need for tears. It's all right now." Greg was no longer looking at Scalphunter, though he could hear pieces of metal putting themselves together. "Everything is fine. We're taking you away from here. Nobody will ever make an experiment out of you. The bad times are over. I swear to you."

Bang.

The people along the back of the wall still were not moving but the reason for it had shifted oh so slightly. The paralyzing fear from a fraction of a second ago was largely baseless - now they had a reason to be afraid. As they watched Greg lower the body of the little girl Scalphunter had just shot through the back of the head and roll his hands over her face, closing her eyes, the realization that they were about to die set in. The man in prayer finishes up before looking towards the Marauders - there is no fear in his eyes or anywhere else on his face, unlike the others. Instead there is… resolution? Though he is seems to be the least traumatized by what just happened, it is one of the paralyzed that speaks first. A gaunt man, hugging his knees against the wall.

"Who are you… really?"

Greg gets to his feet, takes one final look at the girl he just helped liberate and then looks towards the man speaking.

"I told her the truth, for the most part." The warmth that was in his voice when he spoke to the little girl is gone. "We are here to give you your freedom. Unfortunately, fate gave the lot of you a raw deal. There's no going back home after being McCoy's guinea pig. In most cases, at least." A brief glint of anger in his eye? It's nearly unnoticeable and is suppressed quickly. "Sinister's orders. All unauthorized subjects of his work have to be… liquidated. She got the benefit of not having to see it coming because, way I figure, if this is all she's ever known then she deserves some kind of hope in her last moments." Points to Scalphunter with his thumb. "Big boss tends to allow me my fancies in that regard. On that note…"

Greg takes a couple steps backwards.

"I believe this is your operation."

Scratching an itch on his back with the still hot gun, Scalphunter turns to the group of people in the room. "Any particularly brave soul care to volunteer to be first?"

On cue, the man who had been boring a hole through them with his eyes rose to his feet. Not turning away he mutters, "A prayer, wasted."

"Wouldn't say that." Scalphunter says as he takes aim and shoots the man right between the eyes in one fluid motion, "Deliverance comes in all shapes… and… sizes?"

His confusion was understandable. The impact of the bullet caused the man's head to jerk backwards, but that was essentially it. The skin had been broken somewhat but the wound did not look befitting of a gunshot wound. The man's skin seemed to stretch as his form got bigger…

"It wasn't for deliverance. I knew you were coming, you know. The Grey Devil told me of your forthcoming arrival. He told me… 'Kill them when they approach you, and freedom is yours.'" He continued to grow, his skin beginning to rip apart at this point revealing another, scaly and black layer of skin underneath. "I'm just a man… weak. Flawed. I've been the Beast's captive for years now, most of us have been. Freedom was… too enticing. I accepted, but I did so with a heavy heart. Freedom at the cost of the lives of others? It was unthinkable, yet I saw no other recourse. My prayer, you prick, was to ask for forgiveness for the murders I knew I was about to commit. But like I said… it was a waste. I did not know what type of people I would be killing. After watching what you just did? I shouldn't need forgiveness for what I'm about to do. A reward, if anything, should be what I receive for eradicating you… monsters."

Monsters. Funny. That's what Greg would have called him. By the time the growing stopped he had neared ten feet. Ram-like horns protruded from his head. Serrated teeth filled his mouth and his eyes were solid white. His hands and feet looked more like claws, and his skin was composed of black scales that seemed to function like armor. They knew this because about two seconds into his monologue, Scalphunter formed two kalishnakovs and emptied both magazines into the massive mutant's chest. To no effect, as one could guess from the fact that it didn't stop him from talking. The Marauders all realized simultaneously why there had been no defenses or traps to speak of throughout the entire complex - in this, no doubt augmented, mutant McCoy had a defense that he knew they would wander into of their own volition. Arclight expressed their emotions towards the situation rather succinctly.

"Son of a bitch."

They scattered as the first blow rained down. Scalphunter barely avoided it - the mutant was apparently fast as well as strong - as he rolled out of the way, firing all the time. Bullets had little effect, but any distraction was desirable. Pulling his fist from the ground, he turned his attention to the next nearest Marauder. His progress was halted on his way to Prism as the crystalline mutant rained a continuous blast of light at him - but it didn't last long. The initial shock worn off, the massive aggressor began to walk through the torrent of energy, step by step. Prism began pouring it on but realized too late that it wasn't enough. When the beast of a mutant got too close for comfort, Prism attempted to roll out of the way. But as mentioned before - this sucker was fast. Prism was great with taking on energy based attacks, but before physical damage he was a kitten. Which was why when a swipe of the behemoth's claw caught Prism's leg as he attempted to dodge out of the way it shattered like so much glass.

"Goddamnit!" escaped Prism's mouth as well as a rather large variety of other expletives as he sat on the floor, clutching his stump and trying to edge himself away from the looming giant.

"Tut, tut." said the beast as his leg rose above Prism. "Language."

His foot came down on - and through - Prism, rendering his head and most of his torso in a similar condition to his leg. He turned around, about to put his focus back on the other present Marauders, but half way through the turn he was caught in a tackle by Arclight taking the two of them out of the cell and into the hallway - thus out of Greg's line of sight. Scalphunter, twin uzis in hand, followed the two out. Greg was quick to follow, but while stepping through Prism's most recent corpse the movement of the other inmates, which everybody seemed to have forgotten about, caught his attention. They were moving towards the hallway, hoping to use the chaos to escape. Greg felt pity for the poor bastards, but ultimately could not allow this - not while he still needed a place with Sinister. A wave of his hand and a glint in his eye later, they found themselves - yet again - pressed against the far wall of the large cell. Given a new direction for down, they stood on the wall and looked at the hallway entrance, which was now to them twenty feet straight up. Still in his proper orientation, Greg turns to them before leaving.

"Sorry about this. Really. But it will all be over soon. I can promise that much."

Tearing off into the hallway, he was greeted by almost being torn in half. The last second erection of a gravimetric field turned certain death into mere pain as the massive mutant's blow knocked him a good fifteen feet down the hallway. Shaking the stars out his eyes as he got back to his feet, he was aware of his surroundings again just in time to see their aggressor charging towards him. He paused before he reached though. Scalphunter's torrent of submachine gun fire diverted his attention and caused him to turn around - out of discomfort as much as anything. The same moment that that the goliath turned, Arclight slid through his legs. Not entirely certain what just happened, he was about to turn again, but Arclight was already on his back and in the process of snapping his neck.

Or at least that was how it was supposed to work in theory.

It would just so happen that the big bastard's neck didn't snap so easily. Thrashing around, he tried to grab Arclight off his back but she persisted through his attempts and continued to try to twist his head off his neck. Under his breath, Greg muttered something about this being the last time they brought Arclight for muscle instead of Blockbuster. All the same he lent an assist. Two wells of gravity. One keeping his neck firmly in place. The next one…

Crack.

The big mutant fell to his knees, at which point Arclight jumped off of his back, and then slumped to the ground. His head was turned around completely, staring at the ceiling though his body faced the floor. As he walked past, Greg gave him a soft kick before meeting up with Scalphunter and Arclight. The three of them began to walk back towards the cell.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Alexander "Cadmus" Baptiste on Jan 31, 2007, 8:26am

"Well that's that done. We finish here and get the hell out. Grab a piece of Prism, for the next clone." Scalphunter let out a sigh as he checked his watch. "The Office has started."

Trepidation in his voice Greg said, "Uh, boss?"

"Yes." Scalphunter said. "I have ears you know. I can hear it too. I just hoped that if I ignored it then the bastard would go away."

The three of them stopped walking and turned around, looking upon the source of the noise to which Greg had referred and Scalphunter had been ignoring. It was the shuffling of the large mutant that they had thought dealt with getting back to his feet. Staggering around, he jerked his head back around to face front in an awkward motion. His head clearly wasn't sitting on his neck properly, but he was - unfortunately - functioning.

"Go away?" he bellowed, his voice scratchier than before, "Never. To the ends of the earth I would hunt you. Demons such as you have no right to live."

"Yes, yes." Scalphunter rolled his eyes, "We are very, very bad, despicable people. We're going to spend eternity swimming in lakes of fire. That's all well and good… can we just get back to hitting each other?"

"Gladly."

That was what he tried to say at least. Baited into talking again, the armored mutant was rewarded with a mouthful of bullets. He doubled over in a fit of coughs, leaving black blood on the floor beneath him. On the downside, that was the extent of the damage. On the upside, it let Greg and Arclight get close without opposition. Focusing seismic waves through each blow, Arclight would strike the big lug before leaping, rolling or otherwise dodging the counter. Similarly, Greg was leeching small amounts of gravity from everything he could reach and adding it to his own gravimetric field in order to generate a strength boost while he landed his own blows on their opponent. The idea was to wear him down with continued pressure but the longer it went on, the less likely it seemed that they would outlast him.

This seemed more apparent than ever when, either through luck or the fact that - to say it a third time - he was pretty damned fast, the massive mutant managed to catch both Arclight and Geforce in one wide backhand that sent them both for a loop. Struggling to get even halfway back to his feet, Greg watched the aggressor stroll towards him.

"This is over. You wear a cross around your neck. Do you care to utter a final prayer?"

Shuffling around in his nearly-standing-but-not-quite position, Greg gives up and settles on kneeling. He lets out a sigh, deciding that he has a nickname to live up to.

"No prayer, though I thank you for the offer. But you're right. This is, in fact, over."

It started as a rumble, followed by the sound of creaking metal and other various materials cracking. The massive mutant looked around a few times, wondering what was going on. He stared at the ceiling, where the sounds were coming from. Then he noticed that he felt heavier. In a snap, he looked at Greg. "You." He crouched slightly, looking as if he was about to leap, but never got the chance. The ceiling of the hallway above him came crashing down. He disappeared underneath the crumbling debris, which seemed - from the sheer amount of it - to have come from multiple collapsing floors as opposed to just one. Soon the falling of the debris stopped and the dust began to settle. Silence.

Greg stumbled over to the massive pile of rubble. He could sense no movement. Finally. Turning around and sitting on a chunk of ceiling, he breathes out a sigh of relief at this mess being done with.

"The RD strikes again." Arclight punched him playfully in the shoulder. "Nice work, kid."

Greg didn't reply and just stared at the ground between his feet. He just wanted to tie this up and get out. He opened his mouth to say something to Scalphunter but was cut off by the sound of the not-so-dead-as-we-thought mutant bursting through the rubble and the roar that followed. Greg jerked around and was scrambling to his feet - but doubted he could get away in time. Nearly frothing at the mouth in rage, the mutant raised its might claw and was about to bring it down on Greg. About to. He was cut off, however, by being shot in the eye by a high powered assault rifle that Scalphunter had just technoformed. As the beast clutched his bleeding face, Greg got a good look at him. The crashing ceilings had been more useful than he had thought a second ago; the mutant had shrunken significantly and looked battered. That the shot to the eye had stopped him like it did was a testament to that.

Greg stared at the mutant who was shrinking slowly, but surely. "You poor bastard. I really wish that you were never given hope that it would end any way other than this." His eyes glowing blue and a slight nosebleed starting, Greg focused on the space inside the large mutant's head. The mutant was severely weakened, but still quite durable so it took quite the amount of effort to get the desired result. But it came soon enough - the gravity well formed inside of the mutant's head reached an intense enough level and collapsed the mutant's skull into his brain. Movement ceased and he finally fell down for the last time.

Greg stood over his still quite large body and muttered under his breath, "Go with God." before turning to Scalphunter. "Hey… the others are pretty much fish in a bucket in there. Can I just… go?"

Scalphunter looked at Greg for a moment with an unreadable look on his face. After a few seconds of that he said, "Whatever. You've earned your keep for the day. Leave the tesseract open outside the compound. We'll be along."

With a nod that said Thank you without having to actually say it, Greg turned around and climbed over the mass of rubble he had dropped into the hallway and made his way back towards the entrance. Arclight edged towards Scalphunter and spoke softly.

"How would you say he's coming along?"

Scalphunter shrugged. "Swimmingly. I was convinced that he was taking orders from the X-Men or something when he first joined up, but that got dispelled a long time ago. Far too cold to be a mere double agent. Though he's more indifferent to some of the things we do than actually taking any enjoyment in it. Like it's just an obstacle to get past."

Arclight raised an eyebrow. "Does that mean anything important?"

"Honestly?" he responded, "I don't really care right now. The Office is a lost cause, but I can still make it for Scrubs."

The last thing that Greg heard as he exited the compound was machine gun fire off in the distance.

—-

Epilogue: The X-Mansion, roughly 3 AM, the night of the Visiting Hours topic.

It was silly. Beyond silly, in fact. She knew this. But she could never shake the fear that she wouldn't wake back up if she went to sleep. Sure, she had slept since she came out of her coma, but never for more than an hour at a time and typically in intervals measured in minutes. She just couldn't enjoy it, could never get comfortable. Could never get the voice in the back of her head saying No! We've had enough sleep for a lifetime! to shut up. It had gotten to the point where staying up all night nearly every night had become so routine that she didn't even give it any thought. But as she walked towards the kitchen for a snack, her body composed of steel to keep herself from becoming tired, she found herself giving it thought for the first time in a while. And all she could think about was how silly this stupid little phobia of hers was.

Gerald…

The Professor had called it a coma, but Beast had said it was a "persistent vegetative state" brought on by the prolonged effect of the Legacy Virus on his body and mind. She wasn't entirely certain of what that meant, exactly, but could guess based on the "vegetative" part. He had a real problem. She had been rendered comatose for months but had come out of it. Gerald wouldn't be so lucky. She didn't really know him at all - they had never spoken as far as she could recall. But his being rendered in this state had left her saddened all the same. It had also left her feeling ashamed at the 24/7 pity party she was having for herself when somebody with a real, debilitating problem was right there and had been right there for some time.

And, naturally, she was extending her pity party by thinking of how bad a person she was for being concerned with herself over people with more pressing issues. It was a self-perpetuating circle. Hopefully her old friend, Rum and Raisin, would take her mind off of it. She was surprised, however, to find that she was not the only one up late. She quickly shifted into her human form as she entered the kitchen, and instantly found herself yawning.

"Uh, hi Doctor McCoy."

Beast sat at the table, digging into what looked like Butter Pecan, and looked up at Nadia with a slight look of surprise. "I'm neither teaching you or treating you at the moment, Ms. Johansson. You may call me Hank. Up a little late, aren't you?"

Nadia sort of squirmed for a moment before deciding what to do. Settling on the half-truth, she makes her way to the freezer and searches for Rum and Raisin - making a mental note to order these alphabetically some day. Ah, there it is. "I was just having some trouble sleeping is all." she said as she scooped some out into a bowl and made her way to sitting across from Beast. "I figured a snack would help take my mind off things. You're up late as well."

"Ah, yes." he muffled through as he swallowed a spoonful of ice cream, "You know how it is. Late night work in the lab and whatnot. No rest for the wicked. I just figured that I would take a short break from burning the midnight…" he checks his watch, "rather, the 3 AM oil to grab a quick snack and recharge the old batteries. I certainly hope you don't mind."

Of course. Up late in the lab. Did it have anything to do with Gerald, she wondered? "Of course not. Anybody who wants some can take some. With the sheer volume of the stuff I keep in there, it would be sheer madness to try to down it all myself. Though perhaps one day I may try…"

They both chuckled silently and then continued to eat their respective ice creams. After a couple vaguely awkward minutes, Nadia decided to say something to break the silence. "So about Gerald…"

He raised an eyebrow. "What about him?"

"So he's, like, beyond all help? There's nothing that can be done?"

Beast frowned solemnly for a moment. Then, in a move that caught her utterly by surprise, he hopped out of his seat and kicked her in the face in the same movement. Flung out of her chair and hitting the ground hard, Nadia looks up at the ceiling, but the whole room is spinning. She tries to change into something - anything, really - but consciousness is slipping away fast and it doesn't work.

"I didn't expect to do that so soon. Frankly, I thought we would prattle on for a bit longer and when you turned to leave I would crack you upside the back of your head so you didn't see it coming. But then you mentioned Gerald. Frankly, I have no idea who that is. I almost decided to bullshit my way through it, maybe get you to drop enough information for me to work with. But ultimately, I couldn't risk you getting suspicious. Had to hit you when you were still flesh and blood with the physical durability of a thirteen year old girl."

McCoy walked around Nadia's crumpled form, watching consciousness flee from her. "I was always fond of your power set you know. A body composed of unstable molecules that can become absolutely anything. I remember theorizing that if it weren't for the human limits of your mind that you wouldn't even need contact to replicate materials. Look. Your hair's blue. I touched you for a fraction of a second and in a knee jerk reaction your body replicated my fur. I always thought you were more interesting than your brother. On that note, you can blame him for this. I had chalked you up to being a loss, but him and his new band of friends just keep pushing me. I've grown weary of surrendering my bases in order to escape with my life. So, unfortunately, you have become a card to be played in this game. But look on the up-"

He realized that Nadia was finally out of it. With a smile on his face, the Dark Beast called around the corner.

"Oh, Vaughan?"

He stepped around the corner. Red was clearly the theme here. Wild, fiery red hair extended beyond shoulder length. He wore a red jumpsuit-ish uniform, with a discrete white V in the center of the chest, and a red leather trench coat to finish the look.

"Yes…" he grumbled before finishing, "master."

McCoy grinned. "Pick the kid up, Vibe. We're leaving." As Vaughan did what he was ordered to do, McCoy set the chairs up around the table as they were when he came in. He silently washed the dishes that he and Nadia had used, dried them, and then placed them back where they came from. Perfect. Like he was never even there.

"Let's go." he said, still unable to wipe the smirk off of his face. "The end of this little game begins now."


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Alexander "Cadmus" Baptiste on Jan 31, 2007, 9:03am

Writer's Notes:

- Originally, the scene in which Nadia is kidnapped was going to be labelled as taking place "at an unspecified time in the future" in order to keep from messing with RPG continuity. Then I realized that she has been mysteriously absent for some time now, despite all sorts of activity at the mansion through the social threads as well as missing the lastest mission (School. C'est La Vie.) I figured placing her kidnap where I did (which was basically the last time she appeared in any topic) gives a canon explanation for her being nowhere in sight. Plus, being on and off today aside, how often I'm online though next week will be fairly iffy. Now there's a story related reason for the absence of her presence.

- <_<, >_>, For an idea of how much procrastination there is when it comes to fics from me, I had pretty much the entire plot for this story worked out since November. I just never wrote it down. Granted, details like the kidnapping happening after Visiting Hours or references to To All A Good Night, which I hadn't thought up then, are new additions that wouldn't have been put in the story if I wrote it immediately after thinking about it. But those are pretty much minor details - the vast majority of the story could have been written immediately after NMU #20.

- Also, YAY! 1982 Vibe!


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Protoman on Jan 31, 2007, 9:45am

I read the first post, so far it's really good.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Armando "Army" Rosewell on Jan 31, 2007, 9:59am

Oooo, very nice work. Didn't know Greg could be so cruel, and it saddens me…though it also makes me giddy, a little. I've always wanted to have Roxanne fight Greg all out, and now she'll have good reason to. <_< Great fight scene; I always love those 'He's dead…no wait!' moments. Great characterization all around, and I loved the endings. Really, really, really cannot wait to get these events in motion.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Alexander "Cadmus" Baptiste on Jan 31, 2007, 10:40am

Speaking of Greg's cruelty, that actually brought the fic to a screeching halt for a couple days. I had just finished the scene where he played his part in the murder of the little girl and after going back and reading it again I felt as if it was just really, really dark. Regardless of what Greg's future holds, I don't think I ever saw him at any point totally redeeming himself… but still. All the same, the scene seemed really disturbing to me and I took a break to decide if I was going to go through with it. Clearly I did, but even now it disturbs me a little.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Armando "Army" Rosewell on Jan 31, 2007, 10:53am

I completely understand. It can be hard for some writers - myself included - to have their character do an especially cruel thing and not feel a little…bad. Especially when you're close to the writing, as you seem to be. It speaks a lot for your ability to get past it without dumbing it down, which I know I would've.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Amelia "Heaven" Chow on Feb 5, 2007, 3:21pm

Wow. I had to skim the first part of that for my own good.

But it was well-written. I suppose I'm not one to talk after what Proto and I wrote, but for some reason, extreme violence was always harder for me to stomach than just about anything else. And yay for the Dark Beast part!


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Alexander "Cadmus" Baptiste on Feb 5, 2007, 8:52pm

Thanks. If I can get people to squirm while they read it as much as I did when I wrote it, then I know I've done my job. I had actually considered labelling this New Mutants Max at one point, to be honest, after reading Hellions Max. But by the time I finished writing it, the thought slipped my mind entirely.


Re: New Mutants Unlimited #38
Post by Kalvin "Apex" Richmond on Feb 5, 2007, 9:32pm

Yeah…Hav…we have no room to talk.


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