Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by SheCat » Fri Apr 30, 2004 4:03 pm

A/N: Really out of my style, Im drabbling in a darker, more action-oriented storyline. Comments and critiques appreciated...


Chapter One - In a Single Day





“They say anger is just love disappointed.” ~The Eagles, Hole in the World





The floor was damp enough to soak through cloth and fur and human skin, sending cold, chilling vapors deep into the spine of its victims. Drops of some unnamed liquid fell from the ceiling. Jono didn’t even look up when some hit his head and trickled over his eyebrow and onto his cheek.

The Newbie whimpered. Jono didn’t spare him a glance. All Newbies whimpered.

The way the window was set, it was possible to believe that the moon was shining through. Upon closer examination, it was a fading fluorescent lamp. Tubes and wires and generators glittered gold behind it, like a thousand mock stars.

The Newbie’s oddly-shaped hands delicately touched his now branded cheek. The tattoo of a number, combined with the spiral- and slash-like marks permanently distinguished him as a captive. They’d shaved his face and cheek bald.

The walls were grey, oppressive grey, grey that quashed all imagination and creativity just by being grey. Their clothes were grey. The food and drink was grey, their keepers grey, the machines were grey. Even Jono’s once-tanned face was grey.

The Newbie clawed at his collar. He felt like a dog, defiled by this inhumane treatment. His tail lifted and twitched. No! There was no way he was going to allow this foul abuse to continue!

Tarnished, a metal door led to the halls. Despite their want to escape, nobody wanted to go through the halls. Nobody wanted to get caught and taken to the machines, where their mental energy would be harnessed and turned into electricity. Far better to stay in the cells and last just a little bit longer, just a little bit longer.

The Newbie heard the screams from the halls. A bellow of rage and a shriek of fearful anger rent the air like a sharpened blade, shattering the damp, smooth air. Jono, forever a Veteran, winced, but made no other movement.

Nobody wanted to go to the machines. It was supposedly a pain worse than death, worse than wasting away and dying, slowly, from disease and starvation. Survival instinct told them not to go.

The Newbie began to weep with rage. Shudders ran down his spine. Jono didn’t move. Only Newbies wept.





He had to be insane. That was the answer.

His broken, bloodied body lay in the ditch. He desperately fought for air, sucking in mud and water in his hopeless bid to hold on to life just a fraction of a second longer. Each new breath, though vital, sent hot knives through his mangled chest. Thank God he was wallowing in mud. It helped plug up the bullet holes.

Where was he? A maimed hand grabbed forward, hoping for some handhold, something to hold onto.

They had taken her; they had tried to kill him. They hadn’t.

Blood dribbled from his mouth and melded into the ground, swirling lightly. A racking cough sent him into agony. Unbidden, tears rolled down his cheek.

They’d taken the white-streaked girl. God, what was her name again? For his life he couldn’t remember anything but vague flashes of her fear-filled eyes as she was dragged away and her brown and white hair hanging raggedly in her face.

What now? He should have just given up and died, but that wasn’t in his nature. Some heavenly force had granted him a second chance.

They’d taken everything. They’d taken her, taken his pride, everything. He didn’t want to know what they’d done to his face. It had always been his secret joy, the vanity, knowing that he had a face that charmed even the devil. And they’d taken that too.

More blood ran from his mouth. Whatever forces that had granted him life had given him movement too. His hands gabbed in front of him, legs pushing weakly. Inch by painful inch he progressed forward, to the place he thought he had trusted in a long time ago.

He kept moving, because Remy LeBeau was crazy, not insane.





Missy Stevens had lost a child today.

Truthfully, Missy Stevens hadn’t lost a child because Missy Stevens didn’t exist. Missy Stevens was as real as Mallory Brickham, as real as Ronnie Lake, who was in turn as real as Raven Darkholme. Mystique had lost a child today.

She was not going to lose two.

She walked the halls with the divine grace a goddess come to Earth might have, but at the same time, with her dim eyes betrayed her mortal self. Though she looked young, she had a face that laugh-lines would never taint. Her brown hair was pulled back into a bun, and she had to focus on her transformations each time to hide those streaks of grey that had snuck in.

She looked like an ordinary woman, in her late twenties, freckles, glasses, shoulder-length hair. When she passed by the halls, the familiar footsteps made the captives shiver. Another officer. Officers came in, randomly, and took someone into the night. Sometimes the victim screamed, sometimes nobody even heard. The childhood bogeyman existed in human form.

Her voice, dripping with authority, echoed. “Mutant 24601-E14 fit for the procedure.”

Behind the walls, Newbies and Veterans alike sighed with relief that it wasn’t their number. Jono cast a glance at the Newbie in his cell. 24601-E14.

“Mutant 24601-E14 to respond.” Missy said again. It wasn’t a question. It was a demand.

No answer. Missy looked at her forearm, where an electronic map of the compound had been inserted. Flea-like green dots raced across its surface. Security guard, janitor, electrician. She didn’t have much time.

“Cell of mutant 24601-E14.” She commanded. The computer in her forearm gave a blip as it located the cell. Nodding to herself, she moved to it and took out her keys. Another feared sound, the clinking of metal keys, sent shivers down the captives’ spines.

The Newbie had crawled into the darkest corner he could find. Had it not been for the small dimensions of the cell, he would have been invisible. The Veteran looked equally terrified, cowering in the corner. How often had the officers come in for one and taken two?

Missy moved over to the Veteran first, checked his tattoos, then moved to the Newbie. Positive match.

She recognized him as soon as she got a closer look. He had a face that was unforgettable, even when the last time she’d seen him was thirty-four years ago when she tossed him to the wolves. It was hard to keep the maternal glow out of her eyes. Instead, her face contorted in disgust.

He shrieked as she grabbed his wrist and started to drag him out of the cell. When he neither quieted nor ceased fighting, she jabbed a syringe into his bicep. His eyes grew drowsy and he slumped forward.

He was heavy. Normally, at least two officers came in to get a single mutant. She cast a warning glance at the Veteran.

It took so long, too long, to drag him outside. Fearing she might be caught, she straddled him and pressed his arms and tail down with her knees. He blinked stupidly at her. The effects of the drug were still active.

She changed for him then, to let him know she was a friend. Her tan skin melded and swirled into an unearthly blue, her brown hair transformed to the color of fresh blood, streaked with grey and white. Her brown eyes shifted to a yellow that most mutants in the compound never saw, the color of finches and lemons and the lighter blazes of the sunset.

His own yellow eyes met hers, fear receding to make way for recognition. She leaned forward, cold red lips to his ear, and whispered.

“I’ve given you this chance. Run away now. You won’t be so lucky next time.” He nodded, silently, and she unclamped his collar. She carefully picked herself up off of him, then became Missy Stevens once again, badge and all. Hurriedly, she whispered again. “Now!”

He stood, but paused before he ran off towards freedom. She looked at him and smiled wryly.

“I’m sorry,” She said, running her fingers across her cheek to indicate the tattoos. “For those.”

He nodded and backed up, judging how far he could run and how fast. With a final parting glance, he turned and ran. She blinked back the tears. Mystique had lost to children today. One to the cruel jaws of death, and one to freedom.




Belladonna’s hand flew to her bedside table and grabbed the gun. Quietly, she snuck down the hall the way she was trained, way back when. She’d heard glass shatter in the kitchen.

The gun was surprisingly light in her hand. Every woman carried a gun nowadays. Everyone who lived near the factories did, fearing that somehow they’d be X-Factor positive. It wasn’t like a gun would do that much to a Sentinel. But since the factories had taken over half of New Orleans, everyone was afraid. Whispers and fearful glances marred the city like a scar no one could hide. The streets were grey and black.

She considered asking who it was, but if someone had broken into her home they were probably armed too. Her tongue ran over her thin lips, but more in anticipation than anxiety. This wasn’t her first time being robbed by mutant runaways.

She swung around into the doorway, expecting to see an armed man in black, tattooed face invisible beneath a mask.

What she saw was worse. Someone had broken the window and crawled in, leaving a thick trail of dirt and blood and God-knows-what-else. A mutilated figure huddled in the middle of her kitchen, bleeding from scores of wounds. His face was hidden.

“Mon Dieu.” Belle whispered to herself. The gun remained aimed at the form, but she felt like turning away. She was no pushover, but this was horrible. “Who are ya and what are ya doin’ in my house?”

The person was breathing, labored breathing. A hoarse whisper came from between his - for it was a he - lips. “Please…”

It was obvious he wasn’t going to hurt her; he was barely alive as it was. She looked around nervously. Was she supposed to let him die here? In her home? Was she supposed to help him?

“Who are ya?” She asked again.

More urgently now, “Please.”

Somewhere, a memory long buried with the Guilds and the Times Before the Factories came to her mind. He reminded her of someone, someone she had once loved. A different instinct arose in her, one born of sweet reminiscence and the taint of childhood. “Okay.” She said softly.

She had little medical knowledge, but even she knew that she had to keep away infection and stop blood loss. She grabbed anything at hand, bedsheets, toilet paper, towels, gauze and rubbing alcohol. Immediately she set to work, washing off major wounds on his chest and back. It was when she reached his face that she felt physically ill.

The tattoos across his cheek marked him eternally as a mutant, but the tattoos were the only patches of smooth skin left. His left cheek had been nearly torn off, his forehead a bloody mess of slashes and cuts. One eye socket was empty; the other eye was closed. A series of lacerations had removed part of his nose and chin. He was missing an ear.

If he had really been that memory she had, she wouldn’t have been able to tell. Letting reason take over for her, she washed the blood off and rubbed him with sanitizer. It helped little to make him any less gruesome. If he’d ever been to start off with, he’d never be pretty again, that was for certain.

He groaned a little in protest when the sharp bite of the alcohol hit his exposed nerves. She ignored him and continued, occasionally wrapping his head as lightly as if she were swaddling a babe.

By morning, his injuries were covered and the blood was staunched. Belle started to mop up the floor and boarded off the window. He slept in a little bed she’d made for him on the couch.

She walked quietly over to the couch, trying to fit pieces of memory with the remnants of this man. Her hand rested on his chest, measuring each unsteady breath. The height as the same, the hair the same shade, the lips the same shape as the man she remembered. How had he known to come to her?

“I know you’re awake. Remy? Remy, if dat’s you, please do somethin’. Make a sound or somethin’.”

Eyes closed, he searched his own memory for that name. It sounded vaguely familiar, a ghost flitting among his mind, a nameless face. He remained silent.

Belle closed her eyes sadly. Remy had been taken off to the factories long ago. He was probably dead now. Heart heavy, she went back to boarding up the window, wondering what on Earth she’d wound up taking care of.

Still, the slight ashes of hope ignited, at seeing what she had done. She was not afraid. She, a normal Homo Sapien, had saved the life of a mutant. A long time ago, in the Times Before the Factories, she’d been filled with the hope of collaboration, a single idea caught in the breeze. That idea caught wing, then fluttered and feel. The wildfire was put out by rain.

Staring at the mangled mess on the couch, the flame poked its bright tongue out from beneath the tinder and licked upwards, eager for more.





In a single day and night, two people died. Instead, two heroes had been born in their place. Two wraiths of the night, changed forever by the experiences of a day, had come into being out of old shells of former bodies.

No drastic changes were made to society in that single day, but the wind blew the early scent of the coming change throughout the world.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
Viceroy of the Black Tom Appreciation Society
"You act like I know what day of the week it is." ~Patchy
From the Strange and Twisted Mind of Emmy-Jay / Enter the Patchverse...:respectgambit

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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by Lauren » Fri Apr 30, 2004 6:37 pm

..that is some sick and twisted shtuff there, Shecat. Twisted and serious and very moving...I cried...*sniffle* I hope you write more soon...

you purposfully gave him Jean Val Jean's number from Les Miserables didn't you?

and is this supposed to remind people of the Matrix? It reminds me of the Matrix with the whole electricity thing
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 12:51 am

Thanks! I like to know my work gets to people. Yes, it is Jean Valjean's number, because I absolutely adore that musical/play/movie/book/whatever incarnation it happens to be at the moment. Nah, I wasn't thinking about the Matrix. I'll post tomorrow, it's all written but not edited.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
Viceroy of the Black Tom Appreciation Society
"You act like I know what day of the week it is." ~Patchy
From the Strange and Twisted Mind of Emmy-Jay / Enter the Patchverse...:respectgambit

SheCat
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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 2:54 am

Still unnamed.
---------------------------------------- ----------------------------------------
"Some dance to remember and some dance to forget..." ~The Eagles, Hotel California

Eight years later…

In the Times Before the Factories, Belladonna has been a mixed soul. One look at her slender body, her neatly done blond hair, her full lips, and the poised way she held herself, and one would imagine her in England, sipping tea with her finger held out like so.

The instant she opened her mouth, however, she proved all first impressions wrong. The Cajun lilt, combined with her quick wit and fiery temper, marked her a party animal, a bad girl hopelessly drawn to motorcycles and tight leather.

That had been seventeen years ago. She now had her faded blond hair pulled shabbily back. Her eyes had once shown through long, feathery lashes. Now, they looked from beneath too much makeup. Where it had once been the other way around, the blue of her eye-shadow actually matched the color of her eyes instead of being overpowered. Likewise, her lips looked drawn down by too much lipstick. In the old days, she hadn’t needed nor wanted it.

Her figure, once that of a model, was heavier now. Her posture was hunched, her curves larger and bulkier. Nothing old fit anymore, and she covered up for her love-handles with sweatshirt and baggy pants.

But it wasn’t her body that had changed so much as she herself had. She ached. Not the ache in her arms she got from waiting on tables, or the press on her ankles when she wore bad shoes. No, it was a different ache. She ached for a change in the system, for the victory she and MZ had worked, and still worked, so hard for.

Everyday when she woke and saw that it was raining again, all she could think of was thank God, thank God I can’t see the factories today.

It was those factories. Even when they were hidden, their presence was a dull throb in the base of her back, the beat in her temples. They were still there, menacing, looming, with victims without tongues with which to speak for help.

She was certain that she and MZ were going to change that.

The factory workers came in to the diner every night. Sometimes they played cards. Sometimes they drank. Every once in a while once would become intoxicated with the beer, that sweet alcohol, and create a riot. But that wasn’t often. It was almost always the same, the stench of liquor and hatred deep on their breath.

If she had remembered how to smile that night, she would have. Change was in the air.





Those who escaped the factories never returned to normal lifestyles. The tattoos had made sure of that. If seen, they would be caught and brought back to the very place they were running from.

Kurt’s mutation turned out to be both useful and totally useless. When the fur on his face had grown back, it covered the tattoos. On the other hand, it didn’t do much good, because blue and furry wasn’t the most inconspicuous mutation.

Kurt’s tail twitched as he received the call. Two more missing in action. The mutant strike force, the Mutant Freedom Front, or MFF, as it was known, had dwindled in the last few years. He’d joined when they’d found him, eight years ago, and offered him food and shelter. It was for a price - fight for your species, come victory, death or both.

Partly it was because he had been desperate; partly because he vowed to himself that he’d never let another mutant be treated so horribly without aid. But the compounds were everywhere. And as of yet, two-thirds of the missions were failures and the victories were meager. Some mutants got away, but the goal of taking out an entire factory was still out of reach.

“Thank you, Scott.” He said, then hung up. The mutant beside him, a woman with half her hair black and the other part purple, looked at him worriedly.

“Warren’s okay, right?” She asked hopefully, her tainted British accent thick with worry.

Kurt could not break her spirit, not yet. Not now. “They did not see him hurt.”

Betsy nodded, but she knew what that meant. That meant ‘no, they hadn’t seen him die, but he never came back either’.

Kurt turned sadly away. His team, a group of ragtag individuals with uncontrollable powers and only a spattering of skill, muttered to each other. There was no use in giving up, but there wasn’t much sense behind fighting for this ‘freedom’ they heard so much about. Freedom was just another pleasurable word, like love and peace. Words that entertained the mind, but in the grand scheme of things meant very little.

Fighting just made death even more imminent. Still, what were they supposed to do? Give up and die, without any honor or even trying? Stand out in the middle of the street and cry “I’m a mutant, shoot me now!”?

Kurt turned to a man in his group, a sturdy Aborigine with a collection of stolen weapons that decorated his body like Christmas ornaments. “Lucas, where to now?”

Lucas Bishop spoke in monotone as he answered. “The MFF wants us to try to contact that gang of mutants in New Orleans.”

A green-haired girl in the back spoke up. “Is there any proof that this gang even exists?” She asked, voice acidic.

“I dunno. Supposedly, there’s this diner where you go and ask for a milkshake with banana and cherry in it and it takes you to a secret lair.” A man with white hair emphasized the word so much that his voice dripped sarcasm.

The green-haired girl looked angry. “Is that what the want us to do? Go and track down this urban legend? Who do the think we are?”

Another woman with a circular black pattern over her left eye, Neena, glared. “If this gang does exist, it would be best to contact them. From the records, they’ve caused more damage than the MFF has all told.”

Kurt sympathized with Lorna, the green-haired girl. They were supposed to be a strike force, not chasing the ghost of some silly children’s tale. Still, the MFF was certain that this band did exist. Kurt had to follow the orders.

Lucas continued. “We’re supposed to head to the Red Roof Diner. MFF says to give the head waitress a tip of exactly 8 dollars and 17 cents after you order a strawberry milkshake and chicken strips.”

White-Hair, known to his comrades as Quiksilver, laughed. “What kind of stupid code is that?”

A dark, broody-looking man, Tom, shot venomous looks at him. “One that works, obviously.”

Quiksilver rolled his eyes. Kurt made up his mind. “Okay, we’re going, but I swear that if this is an urban myth some MFF heads will roll.” He didn’t like the idea of being the ‘extra’ team that was sent on crazy, superfluous missions.

Quiksilver snorted, Lorna groaned, Neena and Tom smirked and Lucas remained as immobile as usual. Kurt turned to Betsy. “Take us to a dark alley in New Orleans, Bets. We’ll deal with anyone there.”

Betsy tried a weak smile, but it failed. “Gather in my shadows.” She stated, as usual when about to teleport.

As he felt himself being borne away, Kurt had to try hard to remind himself that he was still fighting for something.





MZ never showed any emotion as the weeping, pain-ridden boy was placed on the table. Nor did he even react when Piotr told him that the mission, though successful, had cost the life of one of his number. He only reacted when the boy started to scream out loud, and that was when he walked away.

Belle was in the other room. The pitiful wallpaper tried to brighten the room, but patches of oppressive grey concrete walls still peeked through like the claws of an animal, eager to get in. The couch was as faded and worn as she was, sitting there and trying to ignore the pained shrieks of the young boy.

She didn’t even spare him a glance. “How was it?”

He sat down on the other end of the couch. In the past, they might have sat next to each other, but now two blank cushions marked their respective distance. “Successful.”

He only used single words when someone died or was on the verge of death. He didn’t speak much, but usually he at least commented more than that. “Who died?” She asked.

“Sha’ara. And de Drake boy lost a leg.” He blew long auburn bangs out of his face.

So that was what the screaming was about. Privately, Belladonna mourned the loss of Sha’ara. He had been a true warrior at the end, and at least had gone down like a hero. She reached beneath the couch and pulled out a box. Inside, she kept the remains of their stash.

“Smoke?” She asked. Marlboro, with the M and the A worn off. Several other packs lay in the box, some opened and some not. They were years old. Cigarettes weren’t sold anymore. Bad for the health, but when you faced death everyday, lung cancer didn’t seem like too high a price to pay.

He took one lightly and lit it with a flash of violet. “Merci.”

“De rien.” She looked at him as he kinetically lit hers too, remembering the day she’d found his mutilated body in her kitchen. His face was covered with wraps, leaving only his mouth to show. A scar at the corner of his mouth gave his smile a fishhook like twist, when he actually did smile. His ragged brown hair splashed out over the wraps, with a scarred patch of forehead rising from just above the cloth. Sunglasses covered his eye. Even in this dark, with the absence of natural light, he wore those sunglasses. Sometimes she doubted he saw anything anymore.

The memory of finding him, nursing him back to health for almost a year, brought back deeper and deeper memories. When she was a child, she remembered skipping rocks with some boy named Remy, remembered sneaking out at night to go to nightclubs against her father’s will, remembered catching frogs in the swamp with her family. Now, all she lived in was the wallpaper and the animal-patches of concrete showing through. That, and the diner. Only an hour until it opened for the factory workers.

“Remember when there was music?” She asked nostalgically.

He shook his head. “Non.” He didnt remember much before laying in the ditch, bleeding. Just bits and pieces like the white-streaked girl.

She hadn’t expected him too, but she still wanted someone to share that old piece of the past with someone. She’d loved music. It never played anymore. Nobody needed it. It was gone with cigarettes and nursery rhymes and Saturday nights off and all those good things that belonged in life.

“Mon dieu. I’m forty years old.” She mused to herself. MZ heard her, but didn’t correct her and say forty-three. She’d been forty for three years now.

The memory of music joined that of nursery rhymes and skipping rocks as it tangled with the smoke and trailed thinly to the ceiling.





Kurt had no idea why the Red Roof Diner was called the Red Roof Diner, since the roof was green. He glanced over at Lucas. The Aborigine nodded. Kurt shrugged and sent Thomas Cassidy in. Out of them all, he was the only one without tattoos. Kurt prayed to God that there weren’t any Sentinels nearby.

Tom walked in with the same act as always - act normal. He waited for the waitress, a slightly overweight blonde woman, to seat him, then ordered a strawberry milkshake with chicken fingers. She looked him up and down, but took his order and left.

Tom tried not to do anything to betray his nerves. He didn’t want his fingers to start twitching or his foot to start tapping. To make up for it, he grabbed the children’s menu and a green crayon and began doing the maze on the back. He wondered why there even was a children’s menu.

When he was retracing the maze a third time, with red crayon this time, Belladonna came back with his food. She said that she’d bring him the check in a few minutes. He nodded politely, then grabbed a yellow crayon and started the word-search.

The third time, she brought the check. He reached into his pocket, where he had exactly $8.17 ready for her.

Belle counted the change discreetly, then passed him his receipt. Across the back MEET ME AT MIDNIGHT BEHIND THE BUILDING was scrawled. Tom smiled and exited the diner, taking a few complimentary mints on his way out.

Lorna and Quiksilver met him outside. After they dragged him back into the shadows, they beleaguered him to tell them every detail. Both were skeptical, but when he showed the receipt, they gazed wide-eyed at it.

“So,” Quiksilver said, “the urban myth is true?”

Tom shrugged. “Don’t know yet. Now come along, lad. We’ll tell Kurt.

Lorna kept the receipt, still in wonder. As long as she’d been in the MFF, the legend of this band had been a nothing more than a story, another whimsical tale about how it was possible to overcome great odds. She’d never believed that it was actually true.

They’d gone by so many names, mostly “that one band”, but some of the older members of the MFF swore that it was led by a mutant named after Zorro or Robin Hood or Don Juan or some other historical figure. The name didn’t seem that important, just that it was a good story that for the past six and a half years there had been a mysterious strike force that was made of the best warriors of all mutantkind. Mostly, it had been nothing more than a myth.

But maybe, just maybe, it was real.





Tom didn’t go behind the building alone. All the others came with him, hiding in the bushes. In case of a surprise attack, they all were at the ready to strike down anything that moved suddenly.

The blond waitress came out, looking as if she was doing nothing more than coming out for fresh air after a hard night, except for the fact that she was carrying a book-bag filled with boxes of the diner’s food. Truly, it had been a difficult night. Some of the customers wouldn’t leave until well past eleven.

Tom noticed immediately that she held a gun in one hand and had a knife in her pocket. He made sure not to make any sudden movements. Belle walked up within five feet of him, then stopped.

“You a mutant?” She asked him. No need for formal introductions here.

He hoped what he said was right. “Yes.” To prove his point, he created a small ball of fiery energy in his hand. She nodded.

“You can tell your friends to come out of de bushes now.” She said. The others came out, looking abashed. How had she known?

She continued, not seeming to care that they felt humiliated. “Come wit’ me now. But I swear to God, you do anyt’ing funny and I’ll have you dead in a heartbeat.”

They did not question how. She was dead serious. If she was part of this legendary band, they would do well to listen to her.

Lorna nudged Quiksilver as the walked on. Where the heck were they going? Was this safe?

He was just as confused as she was, so he shrugged.

Had the Red Roof Diner seemed an unorthodox headquarters for a rebel strike force, the actual headquarters was worse. It was Belle’s house. She had boarded all the windows, locked all the doors and had a WARNING! RADIATION! sign leaning on the lawn. The grass hadn’t been mowed in years, the paint was chipping, and the entire house had started to sag, like the back of an old horse that was nearing the end of its life. The entire street definitely didn’t look inhabited, which made it the perfect hideout.

“Radiation?” Betsy whispered to Neena.

Belle answered. “Nobody knows what comes from dem factories.”

She led them around back, and only then did they see the figures creep out of the trees and shadows. They had been watched!

When she opened the window into the basement, they exchanged odd glances. She motioned for them to go in. Inside was just as dreary as the outside. Peeling wallpaper, flickering fluorescent lights, and broken down furniture. About ten mutants looked at the newcomers, whispering. Some were old, well into their sixties and seventies. The youngest looked around thirteen. He was sleeping on the couch, and Kurt noticed that he only had one leg. All, young and old, had those horrible tattoos across the faces.

Belle held up her hand for silence, then led them into another room. A man was wearing black all over, face swathed in dark cloth and a pair of thick sunglasses. He looked like he was thinking, fingering a burnt out cigarette.

Belle interrupted whatever thought he had. “MZ? There are some new mutants here.”

He nodded, then motioned for her to leave. After she went into the kitchen to get some dinner ready, he looked at Kurt, signaling for him to speak.

Kurt stammered slightly. His group was outnumbered, and no hospitality had yet been shown. If a brawl were to break out, they wouldn’t stand a chance. “We’re from the MFF-“

MZ cut him off, mouth twisting in a grotesque fishhook smile. “So, de MFF finally decided to contact us.”

Lorna butted in. “Excuse me, but the MFF wasn’t sure you even existed.”

MZ’s smile broadened and he murmured something to himself in French. Probably something along the lines of an insult. Kurt felt compelled to continue.

“We’re a division of the MFF and were sent to contact you. We were thinking we could be of aid to you.”

In a past long-forgotten, MZ might have rejected them with a laugh. Then again, in the past long-forgotten, he wouldn’t have been a leader either. “How d’ya propose t’help us?”

“We can fight!” Quiksilver stated proudly, puffing out his chest for good measure. Kurt pushed him into the back.

MZ showed no expression. “How many of you are dere?”

“Seven. Myself, Tom Cassidy, Betsy Braddock, Neena, Lucas Bishop, Quiksilver and Lorna.” Kurt stated. “How many are here with you?”

MZ shook his head. “No more’n thirty.”

The silence that followed made Kurt anxious. The leader of the gang rubbed his scarred chin absentmindedly, mulling over possibilities and scenarios.

“Bien. You can stay here, but we expect help.” MZ rubbed his fingers together to indicate money. “Some cash might be useful too.”

Kurt held his hands open to indicate poverty. MZ made a sour expression. Lorna pulled a wad of bills out of her boot and passed them over to the Cajun.

Kurt glared. She shrugged. That was some of their emergency money.

MZ smiled that fishhook smile again, then called for Belle. She came in and he passed her the money. She counted it twice, then went back into the kitchen.

MZ turned back to them. “You can stay in dat room. Dere’s extra blankets.” He motioned to a door. “But we’ll be watchin’ you.”

Kurt had no doubt that they would. Rounding up his group, he went into the room with them after thanking MZ. This room was just as drab as the next, and the blankets were nothing more than towels and burlap sown roughly together. Quiksilver yawned.

Lorna peeked out through the cracks of the door, watching this legendary leader, this icon, this myth become reality. Ever since she’d read the receipt, she’d been fantasizing about a knight in shining armor to save her kind. She had expected someone dashing, handsome, charming, someone like Indiana Jones or James Bond or someone from those old movies she’d watched as a young child. Instead, he was, well, none of those. He was normal, but different too.

Not for the first time since she met him, she wondered what it was he hid behind those wraps and sunglasses.
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Post by Lauren » Sat May 01, 2004 2:59 am

!!!!!!!! Scott is actually a cool hard ass? That world must have really come to an end!
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 3:00 am

What? I'm definitely confused now, doll. What do you think?
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"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by Lauren » Sat May 01, 2004 3:04 am

but it's scott as someone who's cool! Scott as a cool person is a huge oxymoron in itself!
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 3:09 am

But Scott never even had a line...hey, I like Scotty! (I'm the only one, aren't I)...
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Post by Lauren » Sat May 01, 2004 1:15 pm

Hold on.....*rereads wonderfull second chapter*

crap, I thought that last guy was Scott...the sunglasses threw me off!!

and YOU like Scott?! *trounces you verily*
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Post by Saint Kurt » Sat May 01, 2004 3:49 pm

I read the beginning of this the other day and didn't have a chance to give any feedback. And now there's more. Cool.

The writing is very evocative, particularly in the beginning where it's not quite clear where they are or what is going on. I really like the underground railroad concept you have going on in the second chapter. I like cloak and dagger stuff.

I'm not quite up to speed on all of the X-men characters so I'm not sure if we're supposed recognize who MZ is or not. I don't know who he is, but I'm definitely curious.

I don't mind Cyclops either. He's sort of the type of guy you love to hate. I loved the dressing down he gives Kurt in "Holy War" and how he then gets a similar treatment from his brother.

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Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 6:02 pm

Thanks for your lovely comment Zam, and you too Lauren. Yes, I actually like Scott.

I must clear up who MZ is...*urk*. Thanks for pointing out that it's confusing. :)
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by Siona » Sat May 01, 2004 9:22 pm

Oh, man, SheCat, what have I done without your fics...!? This is great, can't wait for more! :love
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Post by SheCat » Sat May 01, 2004 10:08 pm

Siona! *glomps* Where have you been? I've missed you so much!

Heaven Leaves Shadows has updates too! :D
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by SheCat » Sun May 02, 2004 6:25 am

Authors Notes: For those of you not bothering to carefully re-read the second chapter (and I dont blame ya ;)), yes, MZ is Remy.
Another Note: The X-Men are not mine, yada yada yada. Lisa Charly, however, is. And yes, she is named after the American Idol contestants Lisa Leuschner (robbed! Robbed!) and Charly Lowry (Please don judge me bah the way Ah tawlik). I wish them both luck in their future careers.


Chapter 3 - Tender Healing

"And you are a 90s Jesus, and you revel in your psychosis. How dare you." ~Alanis Morrissette, No Pressure Over Cappuccino

Kurt was tired. Tired, not like sleep-deprived, but tired. Tired where his bones seemed hollow and empty, where blinking became another daily chore. Tired, where all he wanted to do was to sink deeper and deeper into himself until there was nothing left. There hadn’t been enough victories. The constant struggle was a losing battle, and it was wearing him out.

Life tired.

What had the MFF gotten him into? MZ had made it painstakingly clear that he didn’t hold the Mutant Freedom Front in highest regards. Who did this rebel leader think he was, thinking himself superior to the largest front in the Americas?

Kurt hand reflectively ran over his neck, the memory of the collars still horribly fresh. That was the memory that never faded, the idea of being treated like and animal, without the intelligence nor the will to escape. He knew the most vivid memories were different for each person. Betsy had hated the telepathic fear that shrouded the place like a cloud; Quiksilver was terrified of having a second ‘branding’. He, however, had always felt that to treat someone inferior was the worst humiliation.

He was so tired.

He had to take care of his team. He couldn’t give up until they could stand in plain day without fear. That was his goal. The world could come second; first, his teammates, his family.

They’d come from everywhere, it seemed. He and Quiksilver heralded from Germany, Betsy from England, Tom from Scotland, Lorna from the United States, and Neena and Lucas from God-only-knew.

They shouldn’t have been uprooted, taken from their homes and families just because they had the wrong gene. It was his duty to protect them from that again. It was his family honor.

Belle’s house made him uneasy. He knew that if he crossed Belle or the MZ, he and his comrades would likely end up dead. The entire sensation of being outnumbered wasn’t new to him, but very unsettling. He didn’t trust either of the Cajuns.

Kurt twitched his tail slowly, like a cat waiting to strike. He had an idea, one that he’d proposed to the MFF before. They’d passed it over, calling it too risky and that it required too many people. But here, if he could possibly persuade this renegade team, he had the chance to pull it off. It was dangerous, but if successful, could knock out the power in half the city and render any nearby factory useless.

He trusted the MFF’s judgment. They were cautious with their members though, and afraid to take any risks. Sometimes, he felt the need to remind them that this was a war and that there were going to be casualties.

Looking at the slumbering Quiksilver, the sleeping Lorna and the silent Neena, he wondered if he could ever place any of them at that risk. If he knew it would all end tomorrow, could he sacrifice the lives of his team?

He didn’t know. He just didn’t know.





MZ paced wildly, because there was nothing left for his body to do while his thoughts scrambled frantically. Everything so calculated, so precise, so perfect that it was bound to fail. So absolutely foolproof that there had to be one error he overlooked.

What was he trying to save again? The world? No, the world was unworthy of protection.

Mutants. He was trying to save his kind. Which perfectly justified sending a thirteen year-old boy into harm’s way. He was a hypocrite. He knew it. Sacrifice some to save the majority, but it was still a sacrifice.

Not for the first time, he wondered if it was all his skewed plan for revenge. Had he lost rational thought? This was the only way. Mutants versus humans. That was how it was.

But Belle was human, so by logic she was the enemy. Yet without her he’d have been dead and this crazy idea would never have taken wing. It didn’t make sense. Nothing did anymore.

Behind his shades, all the world was grey. No black, no white. Just grey.

If only he could teach himself to see it that way, maybe so many wouldn’t perish at his word. Maybe less would suffer at his command if he wasn’t so certain that it was the only way, if he wasn’t so driven to win no matter what the costs.

If. Imperative word, if. It didn’t mean much, because it was a shaky word, easily skipped but of utmost importance. Still, a wishful word. What mattered, is, now, are, today, were not the words of dreams and wishes.

Belle didn’t knock. She never did. It was a routine of theirs. She didn’t knock and he didn’t welcome her. Nor did she make any comments when she laid a bowl of water and oats on the table. She opened a slat of the boarded up window, though, then closed it.

“Few hours ‘til dawn.” Always the same routine.

He nodded. She hated that he was always wearing black. Black was for funerals and hopelessness. It blended in with shadows by turning the wearer into a shadow.

Belle pulled more miscellaneous items out from under the couch. She grabbed one of the last few boxes of Marlboros and smashed it against her palm, pulling out two crooked cigarettes. One she lit and put in her mouth, the other she offered to him. He turned it down, quietly and without words, but with a soft smile of gratitude. She sighed.

“T’aint gonna help. You know dat.” She knew the attempt was futile, but it did reassure him somewhat. The last thing they needed was for their leader to break down.

“I know. Turn out de lights, sil vous plait?” He was no hero and he knew it. Heroes walked proud down the streets, despite battle scars and marks. He stayed hidden in shadow, shame holding him back even when he was thirsted for sunlight desperately.

Same routine. She hit the switch. The lights flickered, then shut off. The sound of cloth unfolding emanated through the small room, and she went over to her miscellaneous items. By touch and experience, she found what she was looking for. Same as always.

Feeling the scars never ceased to send shivers down her spine. Some were raised, some indents, some she knew were there only by memory, invisible to her soft fingers. Scars were irreversible. Her hand went to the balm and brought it back up, smearing it over where she knew the tattoos were.

He didn’t know why she continued to do this for him. He didn’t know why he continued to insist upon it. Something about the idea of regaining that lost part of himself made him want it so badly. This healing was his only release from being tormented by guilt, being disgusted with his actions, being driven insane by the way even his followers didn’t trust him. Belle was the only one who trusted him at all.

No, trust was not the issue. Loyalty was not the issue, nor was respect. He had some members that would sacrifice their lives for him in a heartbeat. They trusted him to make the correct decision that let them win in the long run. No, care was the issue. They’d die because they believed he could bring them out of the dark. They didn’t die because they would miss him.

The idol nobody idolized. Hidden and cloaked in shadow, because heroes were supposed to have courage and he didn’t.

“It still don’t help.” She said quietly. She used a towel to wipe off her hands. He put the wraps and sunglasses back on.

“I know. Merci.” He turned the lights back on. In all truth, he would rather keep them off, but he knew she got nervous in the dark for too long.

She got up. She had food to serve, children to discipline, rules to set down for those MFF members. “Eat your oatmeal.”

Same routine as always.





Kurt was surprised that there were children at Belle’s house. He wondered how they had ever survived, much less escaped, the compounds. A blonde woman with large blue doe eyes had with her a child that couldn’t be more than six months old, and the babe had those incriminating tattoos. Kurt went over to her, partly for curiosity’s sake. If she was touchy on the subject, he’d back off.

“Excuse me, Miss.” He sat on the floor next to her. She smiled ingratiatingly at him. “I’m Kurt of the MFF.”

She nodded. She couldn’t be more than eighteen. “Ah know. We saw you come in.”

It had certainly started as a pleasant conversation. Much more friendly than Belle or MZ had been. “And who are you?”

“Ah’m Paige Guthrie.”

Kurt looked down at the baby in her arms. A patch of red fuzz marked what might someday be hair. A toothless mouth parted in a small smile. “And who is this young treasure?”

Apparently Kurt knew how to please a mother. Paige grinned at the kind words. “This is Lisa Charly. She’s mah little godsend.”

“That’s an unusual name.” He commented, hoping he hadn’t offended her.

“Well, Ah wanted Lisa and mah brother wanted Charly - would you not look at me like that?” She laughed at the confused look on his face.

“Your brother?” He asked, hoping he wasn’t correct about what he’d interpreted.

Paige laughed again, a shrill yet pleasing sound that must have carried through the corridors. “What do you think Ah am, some incestuous hick?”

Well, the thought had crossed his mind. He didn’t say that out loud, though.

She continued. “The father…he didn’t escape, so mah brother is helpin’ me take care of her. She’s handful at nights, Ah tell ya. Ain’tcha, mah sweet little pun’kin?”

Lisa Charly, as if to prove a point, started to whine. Paige blushed. “She’s hungry, Ah think. She’s so fussy when she’s hungry. Will you excuse me?” He nodded, and she left the room, starting to unbutton her shirt.

Apparently smiles were infectious, because Paige had left him with one. It was amazing how someone could be as upbeat as she was in this world.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by Lauren » Sun May 02, 2004 2:40 pm

awwww that chapter left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside!
"I am known as Valentinez Alkalinella Xifax Sicidabohertz Gombigobilla Blue Stradivari Talentrent Pierre Andri Charton-Haymoss Ivanovici Baldeus George Doitzel Kaiser III. Don't hesitate to call." -Vash the Stampede


"No, you see I'm blind in my right eye now... So boring. You know what really makes me pissy? Grunge, Heroine chic, and dying are over. I so hate being behind the curve. Tourism's up." Brett(Alan Cumming) from Urbania

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Post by SheCat » Sun May 02, 2004 6:59 pm

Thanks, I'm glad I can express more emotions than my usual depressing angst-fest. Not that this isn't a depressing angst-fest, but you get the drift. :)
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by Siona » Sun May 02, 2004 7:09 pm

Like, wowers! A non-angsty chapter...from SheCat! I could learn from you! *looks at the growing pile of angsty fics behind here* Good Lord...
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Post by SheCat » Sun May 02, 2004 7:16 pm

Well, only the last segment was non-angsty. I don't want to ruin my streak. :D

*nudges Si for an OTBE update someday* :P
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"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Post by SheCat » Mon May 03, 2004 9:32 pm

Chapter Four - Faded

“Hearts that ever break, they just won’t mend without breaking again.” ~Diamond Rio, Hearts Against the Wind

...

MZ always gave fair warning before a raid, but that didn’t mean he had his plans out in the open. Every single time they ran great risks of being killed or captured. Captured was the worse fate. They’d be forced to sell out on their friends, then they’d die anyway. That was the law, survival of the fittest, or the least insane.

Paige had a few hours before she was going to risk life and limb. There was no empty room. In the hours between day and night there was always tension. Raids were by night. People disappeared in the night, flowers closing when the sun could no longer reach them.

She was in the kitchen, nursing Lisa Charly and keeping Belle company. Belle scrubbed at the dishes with a vengeance. Because she was too valuable to them, and unarmed humans were useless in combat, she had very few places to take out her anger. Without the help of a dishwasher, due largely to financial problems, everything was done by hand, and she was the one to do it.

“You goin’ t’night?” Belle asked.

Paige stroked her sleeping child’s cheek lovingly. “Yeah.”

Belle didn’t respond for a while, just stewed in her thoughts. She took down a board from the window, letting a streak of sunlight splash across the floor. Paige kicked her feet against the seat of her chair idly.

“You want me t’take care o’ Lisa Charly?” The human finally asked.

“Please.” Paige said, and though a melancholy note crept into her voice, nothing took away the smile her baby had painted on her face.

Belle sat down in the chair next to her, dishes momentarily forgotten. “You really wanna leave Lisa Charly here?”

Paige nodded. “It’s mah duty. Ah’ve gotta go.”

“What about when she grows up?” Belle asked quietly. “She gonna grow up wit’out a mother?”

“Better that than growin’ up in this awful world. Ah’ve gotta try, Ms. Boudreaux.”

Belle sighed. Part of her was glad someone still had that determination. The other part juts wished Lisa Charly didn’t have to live in either world, the one where her kind was victimized or the one where her mother could die every night.

“You’ll take care of Lisa Charly, right?” Paige pleaded.

“Mais oui. Your brother can help.” Belle returned to dishes. With each scrub of the sponge the old flame flickered. With each click of the plates the half-lit embers faded.

Paige placed her daughter down in a makeshift bassinet, which had formerly been a cupboard. The baby girl nestled into the blankets subconsciously. Peacefully unaware, Lisa Charly was free to dream about anything her young mind could conjure.

Belle’s dreams had long ago turned to only survival.





MZ groaned as the cold seemed to sneak into every old scar and enflame it. Every healed wound was opened again. The blood ran like ice, with shards that scratched the insides of the veins. Sharp pinpricks ran along the base of his spine. He bit his lip in pain.

He didn’t hate sleeping; he hated waking up.

He tossed the blanket off himself and jumped up, trying to free himself of the pain by moving. After a few seconds of pacing, it subsided. He shook his head to clear it and quickly looked through a gap between the slats on the window. There were still a few hours till nightfall.

He sat back down on the couch, both annoyed and relieved that Belle had taken the empty oatmeal bowl back to the kitchen. Strangely, he felt no more rested than when he’d nodded off, sometime around noon. It had been his first solid sleep in a few days, but there didn’t seem to be any immediate effect.

No sleep with dreams was restful. Not when the dreams were nightmares, not when the nightmares were memories. If anything, they were more tiring than the steady day-night sequence of the day.

The white-streaked girl had died long ago. Years had passed and he still couldn’t remember her name. Maybe she’d never given it to him. It was worthless trying to recall. It didn’t affect anything now, it was in the past and it was nothing of importance. Nothing at all.

His mind turned back to what it needed to know and memorize before twilight. Consumed with strategies and tactics, he remained there until nightfall, turning it over and checking it for that one slip-up that had to be there.

When the sun had receded below the horizon, he went out and gathered his crew.





Kurt had finally succumbed to sleep when they returned. Exhausted joy was written across their dirt stained faces, and though they were panting, they were smiling. About eight new mutants ranging from ages six to forty-something filed in, shocked that this taste of freedom included fluorescent lights and old furniture. Paige Guthrie broke away from the group, using the last of her strength to sprint into the kitchen.

A hefty Russian by the name of Piotr came to Belle with the news as MZ slipped unnoticed into the next room.

From his fragmented English, Belle understood that they had rescued eight mutants and had gone without injury. Food for the fire, her lips curved upwards.

Paige came back out, cradling Lisa Charly. That familiar smile crept over her features, even though her entire face was a mess of tangled hair, sweat and dirt.

“You are goin’ down to de water and washin’ up. Give her to me.” Belle took the baby and sent Paige out to clear off her face. Some of the others followed suit. The advantage of being near any body of water was that she didn’t have to pay many water bills. As long as the bathers were careful, they wouldn’t get caught by patrol units. They’d been trained like this before.

Lisa Charly burbled and gave a toothless grin. Belle held the child close and set herself to becoming acquainted with the new refugees. Though this wasn’t exactly the paradise they had dreamed of, it wasn’t horrible either. Surrounded by mutants like them, they were instantly welcomed. As it always was.

When Paige came bounding back, clean and still sparkling with droplets, Kurt met her at the door.

“Did you succeed?” He asked her politely.

“Yeah, Ah guess you could say we won!” Beaming, she retrieved her child and joined in the happy chatter of the new refugees.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by Saint Kurt » Tue May 04, 2004 3:12 am

This is really getting interesting. I especially like the juxtaposition of their domestic lives with their rescue missions and jobs. What's also cool is how you're collecting various X-Men but they're all different.

I especially like how Paige still has her Kentucky accent. I think she's a cool character in the comics so I liked seeing her here. I re-read the second chapter and it's easier to tell that Remy and MZ are the same guy. When I first read it thought they might be, but then I wondered if perhaps there was some guy in the comics called MZ that I didn't know about.

My only small nitpick is refering to Rogue's character as the "white-streaked girl". The first time I read it I thought she was a mutant with white streaks on her skin. I think if you know it's Rogue it's totally clear, but in my first reading I didn't know what that meant. But each time you use it, it's from Remy's perspective so it could be his way of referring to her in his head. (In which case my nitpick is kind of moot)

So far Kurt's been kind of hanging back so I'm looking forward to seeing if he'll play a larger role later on.

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Post by SheCat » Tue May 04, 2004 3:17 am

Thanks! I loved Paige's accent, and I have no idea why anyone would want to lose a Southern twang, but that's just me. :D Thank you for your critique as well, I'll be trying to fix the little things.

I'm still doing massive edits on Kurt's part in the future chapters, because I'm hoping that I'm building up to something (though God knows that plan usually blows up in my face). I'm having a hard, hard time writing him (and I usually do).
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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From the Strange and Twisted Mind of Emmy-Jay / Enter the Patchverse...:respectgambit

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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by SheCat » Wed May 05, 2004 5:27 pm

Chapter Five - Masked Zorro or Mysterious Zebra, Your Choice

Author’s Note - Anything in *these* is in a different language (in this case, French).

“Now everyday I weep again in the house that might have been a home.” ~Dixie Chicks, Home





Nothing on Earth was colder than rain in November, nothing more frigid than the steady drip on boarded windows, nothing that could freeze bones as deeply as the rising mist that seeped through the very walls.

Belle was going to go insane if she had to stay in her house any longer. She knew how the others felt all the time, but the diner was her escape. For a while, she was Belle, just Belladonna Boudreaux, a human. Not a conspirator, not an ally, just a waitress with her hair tied back.

There were no factory workers in these conditions. It wasn’t rain, it was sleet and wind and pneumonia all wrapped up into one unpleasant package. November rain was a disease.

November rained for three days.

Worse, she knew that their resources were dwindling. The diner was their primary source of income, backed by stocks some of the mutants telepathically manipulated. Other than that, they relied on outright thievery. With the rain, she couldn’t check her stocks, stealing was more trouble than it was worth, and there were no customers in the diner. There was only so long they could rely on cold oatmeal and canned corn. There were just too many of them.

Belle hadn’t been outside for three days. She was certain she was going insane, because the sheets of rain were making a beat, and she couldn’t even remember what a beat was anymore.

Yesterday, a raiding party had returned sopping wet and less than successful. Even Paige hadn’t been able to afford a smile. There was no longer anything dry for them, so they used Belle’s old clothes and wrapped blankets around themselves. Things had gotten pitiful.

Outside, the entire world was a cast of grey and blue that seemed too calm for what was happening. The mist rose and tiny bullets of rain pierced the shroud and made more mist. Drips ran over the cracked window. Belle would have given anything - anything - just to be back twenty years ago, in the Assassin’s Guild, and never afraid. Never afraid.

Through a gap in the wood she watched the outside world. Another rivulet of water carved down the window, meeting another and unifying, snaking down past where she could see.





Brown. That was the color. Not red, like it was supposed to be, but the brown of dried, crusted blood. Brown and a burnt purplish. Nothing red.

MZ ran his fingers across the cut, inspecting it. It traveled from around his collarbone to his waist, traversing across his chest like some brave explorer inspecting the ridges of scars and the hills and slopes of muscle and bone. It was a determined little bugger, because the path was an almost perfect, shallow straight line, point A to point B.

It didn’t hurt so much, just ached like every other scar and every other day. As of yet it wasn’t infected, and even if it was, there was little that could be done about it. Belle didn’t know about it anyway. He didn’t need to trouble her with little wounds.

Another day, another battle. Day in and day out. He had stripped himself of those soaked clothes and resorted to an old tee shirt and jeans. The still-wet face wraps were still on, as were the sunglasses. He’d get hypothermia before he dared show his face.

Quietly, he brushed some of the crusted blood away and put his shirt back on.





Kurt was in the kitchen, talking with Paige, when it happened.

Very few had ever heard Belladonna scream, much less like she did now. It wasn’t a shriek of pain, just a shout of pent up frustrations as she suddenly dove at the window and ripped a board off. Her hand grabbed the next board, but this was nailed down tighter. She slammed her fists against it desperately as she sank to her knees.

“Can’t stand it in here, how can you stand it in here?” She raged, still trying to open the windows to a daylight that wasn’t there. Her fingers bled, nails broke, knuckles tore. She yelled out a series of French words that Kurt took to be curses.

With an ear trained to that note, MZ dashed in. He’d seen it happen to her before, in the November rains, and it was an incident to avoid. The instant Belle lost it, the rest of them crumbled. He darted to her side and crouched down beside her, muttering something Kurt found equally unintelligible.

She continued scratching angrily at the boards until he grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. The frenzied panic left her eyes. Her cheeks flushed with either anger or shame, but no one knew which.

MZ took her hand and wiped some of the blood away with his shirt. She panted, looking more like a caged animal than a human woman. Her head hung, and she brought her other hand to her mouth and chewed on a mangled knuckle.

*You okay now?* He asked, privately. She was humiliated enough, and openly offering solace was salt on raw, fresh skin.

She nodded, so much younger now then she had been three minutes ago. She was awake, active, alert. Claustrophobia did that to a person. The fear of insanity did that to a person. Being trapped, surrounded by victims, watching the people she had barely learned to care for die, witnessing orphans and widows created in a heartbeat of words, living in a world where it should have been a crime to even breathe did that.

MZ helped her up, even when she didn’t need it. A purposeful glare sent Kurt and Paige back to work. Belladonna returned to the window, where she continued watching the rain, waiting, always waiting for the next breaking point.





Every once in a while, when he nodded off, he’d bite himself.

Kurt opened his eyes and flinched, looking at the trail of thin red that trickled down his arm. His sharp teeth were reddened, bleeding like his skin. He resisted the urge to whimper in fear.

Why did he do this? Why did he enjoy the silky taste of blood?

His tail twitched like an animal’s, waiting for prey. He couldn’t help but acknowledge the warm feeling the blood gave him, sliding down his throat. He stopped himself before he bit again, relishing in the red, red blood, hot and delicious.

A demon. They’d branded him a demon, inferior and evil, and they were right. Only demons enjoyed the taste of blood.





Though he was usually a more passive leader, Kurt decided it was time to take the initiative. Staying around someone else’s home had never been top priority on the MFF’s list of things to do. He had to make it clear to MZ and Belladonna (whom he figured was partially in control of the operation) that his team could fight for their rights, and that he had a plan.

Thoughtfully, he ran his hand over his cheek, where he knew the tattoos lay invisible. His tail swayed back and forth lazily, lost in a memory of harsh treatment and defilement.

MZ was in the corner of his usual room, having changed back to wearing black. Kurt didn’t even notice Belladonna until she moved. She was lost among the couch and the grey animal-walls, and it was only when she raised her head and spoke that he knew she was here.

“Figured it was ‘bout time y’came.” She was sucking on a sore finger.

“I figured it was about time we made an alliance.” Kurt said, trying his best not to offend.

Belle snorted; MZ hid a smirk. The woman continued. “You act like we owe you somet’in’.”

Kurt was taken aback. He didn’t think they owed him anything but their attention. It was for the better of mutants everywhere that he forge a friendship between this gang and the MFF. “No, I’m just…suggesting…we get our terms understood.”

Belle’s eyebrows shot up. “Terms?”

“I mean, if you want us to do anything…the MFF hasn’t contacted us for days…” Kurt stammered. Belle looked murderous, as if she’d been insulted. MZ, as usual, revealed no emotion.

“Lemme get dis straight. You come into my house, eat my food, use our resources, and you expect us t’ follow your terms?”

Kurt thought fast. “No! If you could lay down the law for us, and we could see if we can lead a strike force against the compounds with the MFF backing you up.”

MZ asked Belladonna a mocking question. “Is he insultin’ us or flatterin’ us?”

Belle shrugged.

Kurt pulled a folded-up piece of paper from his pocket. “I’ve got attack plans.”

“So?” MZ asked pointedly, but his slight lean made it evident he was interested.

“I’ve got plans to take out an entire cluster of compounds and knock out the power of a city block.” Belle’s remarkably raised eyebrows and MZ’s head-cocking made it clear he had hit the right note.

“Really?” MZ asked skeptically, then took the paper from Kurt deftly. Kurt was fairly sure he was reading it, but with MZ, who could tell?

“Ja. But I need help. My team is neither large nor strong enough.” Kurt admitted sheepishly. MZ passed the paper to Belle, who reviewed it with a scrutinizing eye. She was no tactical master, but for spotting large errors she had no equal.

Nothing popped out at her, and MZ motioned for Kurt to take a seat. Belle moved her legs out of the way and exited. She was good at spotting major errors, but the world of tactical strategy was not her forte. MZ and Kurt discussed plans.

For the next several hours, differences and duties were put aside as a well thought-out plan was perfected. Roles were cast and actions were staged. What the MFF dared not, a handful of renegade fighters would try.





The mission would consist of two different raids, and the second would involve two teams. The plan was risky, and the slightest infraction would end in death. A failure could let them lose everything.

In short, it was the kind of heist that delighted MZ.

He reminded himself that, if he got the chance, he should get to know this “Kurt”. He was a shrewd blue German, that was certain.

After hours of pouring over stolen maps and blueprints, and cycling through one leaky pen to the next, they called it a day. Kurt was just about to exit the room when a nagging question returned. “Does - does MZ stand for anything?”

“Masked Zorro or Mysterious Zebra. Your choice. Or maybe somethin’ else.” MZ settled back on the couch.

Kurt wondered what kind of answer that was.





When Kurt woke up the next morning, it was partially because Quiksilver had snuggled up next to him and was coddling his tail. He didn’t like his tail tugged, but Quiksilver was still asleep, and the gentle fondling of the spade was too soft and - infantile? - to condemn.

A breath from the boy’s mouth made the fur on the tail ripple, deep and blue as the Antarctic ocean waves that neither had ever seen. Kurt tried to gently pry his appendage away, but the young mutant tightened his grip and held it to his chest. Eyelids fluttering erratically even in sleep, Quiksilver cradled it like a favorite toy.

Kurt tried again, and his tail was carefully taken from the other’s grasp. Quiksilver, seventeen years-old, rolled over and murmured something to the hard, dark floor like a secret between him and the Earth.

A few feet over, Lorna’s exhalations made a strand of green hair flutter across her lips. Neena remained still as death, whereas Tom and Betsy twitched and moaned constantly. Lucas Bishop kept a silent vigil by the door in case of ambush. Kurt found it unlikely, but Lucas insisted on some type of guard inside this strange house.

The room was never completely quiet. Making tortured, frightened mutants quiet was a near impossibility. The kitchen sounded all night, echoing pots and pans and bowls, glass and plastic, the rattle of cans and clink of bottles. Kurt knew for a fact that these people never slept.

The steady patter of rain continued, monotonous, tap patter drum, tap patter drum. Kurt’s pointed ears caught it all. It was anything but soothing, so steady and repetitive it was a seductress, tempting him to sleep when something told him he shouldn’t.

Quiksilver’s hand groped about for the tail, but contacted only the edge of the blanket. Kurt suddenly found himself cold, even beneath his fur. He could have sworn Quiksilver gave a smug grin as he wrapped his leader’s blanket around his thin body.

Kurt wanted to pace, to move, but he didn’t want to wake his comrades. He still had a wild part of him that hated to stay still. Occasionally it made him wonder if he deserved a collar. If he was so wild, should he be tamed?

Quiksilver’s fingers trustingly grasping his tail said otherwise.





Outside, the November rains continued, uncaring as to what happened to the inhabitants of a single, supposedly abandoned house.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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From the Strange and Twisted Mind of Emmy-Jay / Enter the Patchverse...:respectgambit

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Post by SheCat » Fri May 07, 2004 3:06 pm

Chapter Six - Selective Memory

“And in that naked light I saw a hundred people, maybe more. People talking without speaking, people hearing without listening, people writing songs that voice’s would never share. No one dared to disturb the sound of silence.” ~Art Garfunkel, Sound of Silence





On the fifth day, November turned to December and the rain became snow. Belladonna had mixed emotions about this. No rain meant she could get out and go to work, but it also meant they’d have to pay for heating.

At least they had a fireplace, old and dirty as it was. At least it still produced heat, and fire wasn’t taxed. Old furniture and trash did as well as anything for tinder. Several of the younger mutants gathered around it and talked, played games and listened to the elders tell stories. The hearth truly was the center of the home.

Lisa Charly had learned to crawl. Paige was hard at work praising her child and telling everyone else about how proud she was. Had it not been an excellent conversation topic, it would have gotten annoying, but since they stayed inside all day, it was good for chat.

MZ had given approximately an hour’s warning before he’d assemble the “troops”. Kurt’s team was already prepared. Quiksilver and Lorna did, however, insist on entertaining the children until they were called. They’d become fast favorites, if only because Lorna could find a metal bolt in a young boy’s ear.

Belladonna saw MZ watching from the doorway. She rolled her eyes as she went over to him. “Wish dey were always dis happy, O Fearless One?”

He bit his lip. She might as well have read his mind.

A laugh came from the fireplace as Quiksilver snatched a child and ran her around the room at lightning-fast speeds. The young girl squealed with delight and the people nearby chuckled. Somewhere else in the room, an elderly man was telling stories to a woman in her mid-twenties, and Paige lifted Lisa Charly up to see the snow through the gaps in the window.

*Risky mission?* She asked quietly.

He nodded, almost wincing as joyful sounds reached his ear. If there was an incarnation of guilt right then, he was it.

*Be careful, then.* Belle stated. *I’m going to go get some food for them.*

Misery loves company, she knew. She had work to do and didn’t have the time to obsess over it.

A monster lurked in the doorway. If he hadn’t been invisible to them, in the guise of a savior, their fear would have been thick enough to choke on. If they could see behind the mask their screams would have shattered the air. If he took a step into the light their disgust and their betrayed thoughts would threaten to smother him. If they only understood.

Compared to that, guilt was the smallest of penances.





Kurt was used to butterfly pulses. The flutter in his neck was anxiety, excitement, fear and hope all at once. It was almost a comforting feeling.

A butterfly heartbeat was different. The jackhammer sound of his heart against his ribs was so loud he could drown in it. Every other noise was a death sentence.

There had been a retreat; one of their number had been injured. That one hadn’t gotten out. MZ had gone back in for her. The rest were to stay out waiting. Kurt was near an eight-foot tall, metal-coated, Russian behemoth, an Oriental woman called Tess and a blonde girl.

Quiksilver looked about nervously, wondering where Lorna had gone. She’d been left behind after a brawl. Two more from MZ’s gang had been killed. The mission was accomplished, but at a price.

Kurt helped Betsy wrap up a bleeding arm. He’d never been on a raid like this. The MFF sent them on brief, safe runs. This had been another thing entirely.

The worst part was, this entire heist had been his bright idea.

The sound of an explosion was followed by a figure sprinting away from the building and towards them. Kurt pondered flight, but none of MZ’s gang moved. He figured he shouldn’t have either.

MZ had covered the distance at breakneck speed. “Run!”

At this point, they all broke cover and sprinted down the escape route. Quiksilver stopped. “Where’s Lorna?”

“Just run!”

When Quiksilver didn’t move, MZ shoved him forward. Quiksilver took the hint and darted away, faster than the blink of an eye. He ran until their meeting place, an alley, and hid behind the dumpster. He shuddered. Where was Lorna?

The rest caught up, panting and stumbling. It had been easy for him to run that distance, but such was the nature of super-speedsters. He crawled out.

Kurt slumped against a wall with the graffiti LD WAS HERE splayed across it and hung his head in defeat. Lucas kept guard. MZ remained stubbornly facing the other direction.

“Where’s Lorna?” Quiksilver dared to ask again, but he already knew the answer.

“She didn’t make it out.”

Quiksilver bowed his head and fought back tears. “Then she’s…”

MZ nodded, but it wasn’t with sadness or anger. Just perfectly emotionless.

Neena sat down. “How? Was she alive when you got to her?”

“Yes.”

“Then they - they killed her?” She choked out as a tear traced itself over her white cheek.

No answer.

“What happened, MZ?” Neena said fiercely. She already had an inkling.

No answer.

“What happened?”

MZ sighed. “I had t’ kill her.”

Ink spilled over paper and filled Kurt to the brim. He gave a roar of rage and leapt at the Cajun. MZ dodged the brunt of the blow, but Kurt’s shoulder connected with his and both toppled over into the snow. Kurt grabbed the other man by the shoulders and tried to pin him, but MZ’s knee came out of nowhere and slammed into his stomach. MZ scrambled out of the way.

“You killed her, you bastard! You son of a bitch, you murderer!” Kurt cried even as he fought for breath.

“I had no choice! It was her or all of us!” MZ shouted back. “Dey had her, Kurt, and I couldn’t save her!”

“So what if they had her? That gives you no right to kill her!” Kurt got to his feet and would have pounced again if Tom Cassidy hadn’t held him back.

Tess spoke up, unnaturally calm for the situation. “Small sacrifices.”

“The fuck with your small sacrifices!” Betsy wielded a telepathic knife, ready to stab at the first person who moved. Grieving would come later, but she was out for blood.

“Don’t you get it? Being captured is worse den death!”

Kurt’s eyes blazed. He didn’t want logic. He wanted MZ to bleed, to admit he was all the things Kurt accused him of being, to break down. Most importantly, he wanted Lorna back and safe. “You killed her, you monster!”

MZ suddenly looked as if all the energy had been drained from him. He motioned for Tess to speak.

“If you get captured in a resistance strike, they probe you for information on your team’s whereabouts. No one has been able to resist their methods yet. Had she been captured alive, they’d have deployed Sentinels after all of us.”

She didn’t need to continue, because Kurt’s will to fight left him. “You killed her.” He stated simply.

“I’m sorry. It was all I could do.” MZ bowed his head. “C’mon, Tess, Piotr, Alison.” His group followed him out of the alleyway.

“And the fuck with your sorry!” Kurt cried after them. “It doesn’t mean shit!”

Kurt sobbed. He was sworn to protect these people, his family, and one was dead. Just like that. On a mission that was his idea in the first place.

MZ hadn’t been the only one to kill Lorna.

It was snowing again. Tom helped Kurt up. Neena and Lucas followed where MZ had gone. Betsy went over to where Quiksilver had lain down in the snow. “C’mon, sport.” She said quietly, not even trying to hide the shimmer on her cheeks.

“Leave me here, Betsy.”

“We’ll have none of that talk, darling.” She had to forcibly pick him up until he started walking by himself.

The two of them walked slowly through the snow, a beauty lost on both of them. Quiksilver’s eyes were bleeding tears.

The world was a cold, lonely place. But they had jobs to do, lives to live. Betsy ran a hand over Quiksilver’s cheek.

“She would’ve wanted you to be happy.” She tried to do anything - anything - to get him to say something.

“Bullshit.” He sneered. “Nobody wants to be forgotten.”

“Not forgotten, sport.”

He glared daggers at the snow by his feet. “So we just pretend that it didn’t happen, right?” He asked sarcastically.

She sighed. “No, but wouldn’t she want us to be happy?” She needed him to say something comforting. Anything to make her feel better.

“She’d be pissed that we’re ignoring her, that’s what.” He said venomously.

“You really think so?”

“You know what, Betsy? Just leave me alone.”

She nodded and walked ahead of him, stifling a sob. She needed a shoulder to lean on. She needed him to tell her to be happy back. She needed someone to tell her it was all a bad dream. She needed to forget. And seeing someone she’d adopted as a brother like that was killing her.

Quiksilver stood in the snow for a while. No matter what anyone else did, he’d never forget Lorna and just move on.

A piece of Quiksilver was left in the snow that day.
"I throw de cards, de cards go BOOM! End of bad guy, end of story." -Gambit, X-Treme
"Everything I still want I just now prayed for." -Kreon, Antigone :cry
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From the Strange and Twisted Mind of Emmy-Jay / Enter the Patchverse...:respectgambit

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Post by Lauren » Fri May 07, 2004 3:16 pm

...that was just cold...*sniffle* that was very sad and it made me cry you meanie!
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Fic - The Currently Unnamed Project (Complete and Illustrate

Post by Saint Kurt » Tue May 11, 2004 2:52 pm

I realized just now that I hadn't read part six or critiqued part five. Doh!

I like the way Kurt's wondering if he's an animal is juxtaposed with his attempts to gain MZ's trust. My only wish is that Kurt's plan was described in more detail. I love heist movies and books where they come up with crazy multi-leveled plans and then watching them come together. (Think Italian Job)

The end of six is really good, totally leaves everything hanging. Is the trust broken? Will there be forgiveness? There's obviously a big change going on between the chapters with quicksilver going from sleeping with Kurt's tail (that sounds so wrong... :) ) and losing Lorna. I'm sure we'll see their relationship change.

I like this rendering of a world that is more like WW II Europe or pre-Civil War US. It's very different from being "hated by those they're sworn to protect".

-e
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