Charles and Erik, along with Moira, had headed to Russia a couple of days back. Harry and Raven had approached Howlett to give them some training, and he agreed (the others demurred for the most part, with Hank working in his laboratory, and the others doing general exercises). After seeing them in action against him in a training room in the basement of the facility (and shaking off the Stunner Harry managed to catch him with), Howlett nodded approvingly. "Okay, I thought I was going to be working from scratch here. But you two…well, I'm actually impressed, a little. For civilians with little formal training, you handle combat pretty well."
"Really?" Raven asked, surprised.
"Hmm," Howlett nodded. "Now, you're self-taught, Raven, I can tell. You move like a high school gymnast. Flashy, and it'd disorient a less-experienced enemy, I'll give you that. But your actual combat techniques are sloppy. That's down to being self-taught. You fight dirty, though, and in real combat, you need to. Your combat style seemed to emphasize kicking. You ever study capoeira? Savate?"
"No. I've heard of savate, but not Capoeira," Raven said.
"Capoeira's a Brazilian martial art, like a dance. We'll see if Singer's got someone who knows about those on his training staff." Howlett turned to Harry. "Now, you tend to attack from a distance with those spells, as you call them, and use that teleportation thing to try and blindside me. That's good, but you get too predictable about where you teleport to, trying to hit me from behind, and your teleportation makes a noise more often than not. And when I closed the distance…well, bluntly, your hand-to-hand skills are shit. You can throw a punch and take a punch pretty damn well, true, but you've got fuck-all technique where melee combat's concerned, bub." He rubbed the back of his neck, grimacing. "Still, you mix up those spells, so the actual ones you use ain't predictable. And you try to finish the fight as soon as you can. You move like you've been in a war, kid, more so than your fiancée. So, what's the story?"
Harry glanced at Raven, before shrugging, and said, "I got involved in a wizarding civil war and had to fight a man who wanted me dead since the day I was born. And I was holding back then, at least as far as the spells I use are concerned. Healing factor or not, I'd prefer not to use lethal spells against my allies."
"What about your enemies?" Howlett asked.
"…Let's just say that, after a certain point, I stopped holding back." A training dummy was set up nearby, and Harry suddenly slashed his wand at it. "SECTUMSEMPRA!" he roared, and the arms and head fell off. "FIENDFYRE!" A blast of diabolical fire reduced the rest of it into cinders. "Healing factor or not, that's going to be hard to deal with," he said. "Hard to control, though."
"Right, so you save that for when things are desperate," Howlett said. "Still…I could see it in your eyes, kid. I've seen that look way too many times. You ain't green, far from it." The older Mutant frowned thoughtfully, before turning back to Raven. "Speaking of green, can you shift that skin of yours to basically do camouflage patterns? And could you do so on the fly, shifting to match the background?"
"I'm not good enough to appear invisible," Raven said.
"Invisible ain't the point I'm making, Raven," Howlett said. "I'll see if Singer's got any books on camo techniques. My point is, if you change your colouration on the fly to match the background, even in combat, it might prevent your enemies from getting a proper bead on you." He looked at Harry. "And your magic tricks could help with that too. For hand to hand…I'll have to try a few things, see what suits you. There's this Israeli martial art called Krav Maga, and there's the Close Quarters Combat System or Defendu…anyway, I'd better think about this. Of course, getting those kids upstairs to fight properly is gonna be a task and a half. They can't rely on just those powers. That Lensherr guy…he's got combat skills himself, I can tell. The way he moves, the awareness he shows…then again, considering that he's been huntin' Nazis from what you told me…"
"He worries me," Harry said bluntly. "The way he acts…I'm not sure he feels like this the way he wants things to go."
"Yeah, I hear you. I see people like that all the time. Chuck's got either his most ardent follower…or he's gonna have a problem. Don't get me wrong, Chuck's a dreamer, though I think you two know this as well. He's got his head way up in the clouds. But…I'd rather try to get some peace made than a war started. I've lived through enough wars in my lifetime…"
Later on, in the lounge the Mutants had claimed as their own, Alex and Armando were taking turns on the pinball machine. The others were either reading or socialising, until a pair of agents walked over to the observation window, and made some disparaging remarks, especially to Angel, calling on her to show off her wings, and Hank to show off his feet. Hank stormed over to the switch controlling the windows and activated it, causing the curtains to slide shut. "It's one thing to have men gawp at me like a side of meat while I'm on the job," Angel said with disgust and contempt. "It's another to have them looking at me like I belong in a circus freakshow."
"I know that feeling," Raven said quietly, indicating the window. "People like them were the reason I couldn't go to school as a child, not until Charles found me."
"Better get used to it," Howlett said as he drank from a bottle of beer. "I ain't saying it's right, Angel, only that it's a fact of the world. Humans, Mutant or not, will always find some stupid way to look down on someone else. I fought in the American Civil War. Even after all that shit finished, segregation's still a thing. I don't think racists are ever gonna go away." Suddenly, he stiffened. "…Quiet a moment," he hissed.
And that's when they heard it. Quiet noises…one being a sort of brief whoosh of air displacement…and another being a forceful thud. And then, yells of panic. Hank opened up the curtains in time to see a body drop from the sky with a scream…only to smash into the ground. They then saw one guard get snatched up by a red-skinned figure with a devilish tail who appeared in a puff of crimson smoke, and then vanished with the guard in tow.
"Shit, Azazel! It must be him!" Harry snarled. Suddenly, a loud roaring noise caught their attention, and they watched as a tornado tore into the Cerebro structure, scattering the remnants of the building everywhere.
What followed next was utter pandemonium. Harry saw Azazel attacking the agents who had scurried to the square their lounge looked out on, only for Azazel to expertly attack them. Harry, once the glass had been shattered, had tried to help by firing off Stunners (hoping beyond hope that they could capture this bastard, and knowing his spells, if they missed the teleporter, would not kill the agents), but it did little. A massive explosion rocked the facility, coming from the foyer. Howlett leapt out of the lounge at Azazel, who merely teleported out of the way, playing matador to Howlett's bull, though Howlett was considerably more cannier than a bull, and managed to tag the red-skinned teleporter a few times before Azazel tired of the game, grabbed Howlett, and then dropped him from a height like he had some of the other agents. Howlett hit the ground with a sickening crack, his head bursting open…but his movements showed he was still alive. Azazel then buried a knife in Howlett's heart.
Soon afterwards, the panicking group of Mutants heard a guard tell someone where they were, and to let the normal people go…with an ominous crack silencing the man. Azazel entered through one window, and Riptide, having blown out the other, clambered in through that one. Through the door came a man in an immaculate suit, with features that looked uncannily like Kevin Bacon, albeit wearing a strange metallic helmet. On his look, Azazel said, his voice having a Russian accent, "The telepath is not here."
"Well, that's one good thing, I guess," the man said, removing the helmet. "I hate this damned thing. Now, good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am Sebastian Shaw. And I am not here to hurt you."
Harry wanted nothing more than to fire a Killing Curse into this smug-looking fuck's face, but there were two main reasons for that. One, he might monologue and let slip some clues about his plans. Two, he didn't know what power this guy had, assuming he was a Mutant, and it might just give him an immunity, somehow, to magic.
However, Harry's eyes promised retribution when Shaw had Azazel kill another guard who had survived and was ordering Shaw to freeze. Shaw then said, "A revolution is coming, my dear friends. When humanity discovers what we are truly capable. And when that time comes, the choice will be whether to allow yourselves to be enslaved, or to rise up, and take your rightful place as rulers. You may make whatever choice you wish, though if you are not with us, you are, by definition, against us. You can stay, and fight a futile battle on behalf of those who hate you, fear you, and would exploit you, or come with me, and rule like kings…" He looked at Angel, and then held out his hand. "Or queens."
Harry, to his anger and astonishment, saw Angel take Shaw's hand with only a moment's hesitation. As she was led away, and the others protested, she said, "We don't belong here!"
"This man and his henchmen are murderers!" Harry snarled, barging past the others, and glaring at Angel. "Xenophobic murderers. By joining them, how different are you from the Ku Klux Klan, or the Nazis?"
Shaw scoffed quietly. "I am nothing like them," he said.
"Oh? I'm seeing history repeat itself…a traitor betraying friends to a murderer who, despite claiming to fight for the cause of the special, will kill anyone in his way, whether they be normal humans or not." Harry looked up at Shaw's eyes. "You are very like the man who murdered my parents, tried to kill me. You're nothing special, just another xenophobic lunatic, fleeing from a death, only to find that it's right in front of him." Suddenly, he sent out a wandless Banisher, sending Angel flying into Azazel's hands…but Shaw was unaffected, though he seemed to briefly split into multiple images.
Shaw blinked, and so did Harry, but the latter was on the draw faster, grabbing Shaw. He Apparated above the facility. "Let's see how you like a taste of your own henchman's medicine!" he snarled, before dropping Shaw, and Apparating back into the lounge.
Azazel might have rescued him, but Howlett had revived, and was currently attacking the teleporter once more. Shaw hit the ground, but instead of splattering, he once more seemed to split into multiple images of himself. He got up off the ground, dusting off his suit, peering at Harry with interest. "You're full of surprises, aren't you?"
"I'm just getting started," Harry snarled, before he gathered as much energy as he could. If he was lucky, this guy would die. Flinging his wand, he roared one of the curses he despised using. "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
It wasn't so much a jet of green light as a lightning bolt in verdant hues. It smashed into Shaw, sending him flying across the courtyard and crashing into the wall opposite. Harry Apparated across, intending to make sure (or was that make Shaw?) that Shaw was dead. Unfortunately, as he approached, Shaw got to his feet in a flash, and was gripping Harry by the throat. "That nearly did me in. Congratulations. But…I absorb energy, and whatever doesn't kill me only makes me stronger. But as for you, well, I'm afraid, given how troublesome you are, that you must die."
And then, suddenly, he was on fire, everything was burning burning burning, and the last thing he could hear was Raven's screams echoing…
When he woke up, he was naked on a bed, only a bedsheet covering him. And Raven was next to him, her eyes puffy and bloodshot from crying. She noticed him waking up, and then slapped him. "Gah! What was that for, Raven?!"
"Shaw turned you into bloody ashes!" Raven snapped. "I didn't know whether you could come back from that! I thought, for one horrible moment, that I'd lost you!"
"How the hell was I supposed to know he'd survive an overpowered Killing Curse?" Harry protested. "I only survived against it by a lot of luck and other people's prepwork!" Then, after a moment, he asked, "How many are dead?"
"None of us, thankfully. They cut their losses and left with Angel after your stupid little stunt, and Howlett was getting feral, and managed to get Azazel a few more times," Raven said. "But of the Division X people…Azazel got some of them using his teleporting trick, and only a few remembered to use their Portkeys while panicking. Singer survived, but most didn't. Others were killed by Shaw in the atrium when they opened fire on him using machine guns and rocket launchers: there's surveillance camera footage of him absorbing the energy from those, and then unleashing it as a blast of force that he used to kill his foes."
"Fuck…what a balls-up," Harry swore.
"I know." Raven then gently hugged him. "Harry, don't do something that stupid ever again."
"I can't make any promises, Raven."
"So am I," Harry said, his weary emerald eyes meeting the golden ones of her natural form. "I'm the one more likely to come back from anything they hurl at me. I'm your first line of defence. If I'm not there to take a blow meant for you…well, I couldn't live on without you, the irony being that I'd have no say in the matter. And if I could get rid of someone like Shaw in a single stroke…"
"I know, but…it's hard watching you die, not knowing if you won't come back…in case something stops whatever brings you back," Raven said.
"…I'm sorry, Raven. I really am…"
It was later the next day that Charles, Erik and Moira came back, using the Portkey. They were briefed on what happened, and Charles made the decision to send the other Mutants back, only for Erik to intervene. Harry half-heard their discussion about Erik suggesting they avenge the fallen, and to bring an army of their own to bear against Shaw's. Charles, eventually, decided to accept this, before turning back. Noting the resolve on the faces of the others, he said, "We'll need somewhere to train."
"Where?" Hank asked. "I mean, even if they reopen Division X, it's not safe from Shaw. We have nowhere else to train."
Charles gave a knowing smile. "Actually, yes we do…"
"You know Charles," Erik said, "I'm not sure how you survived, living in such hardships."
The German-born Mutant's sardonic joke was made as he, along with the other Mutants and Moira, looked at the Xavier family's mansion, a vast manor house in Westchester County in New York. Harry had been there on a few occasions, when Charles and Raven went back here, and he knew Charles had fitted the mansion with a number of laboratories. There was even a communications dish on the edge of the grounds, about as large as some radio telescopes.
"I was there to help him endure it," Raven said with a smile. Harry knew that Raven had, indeed, lived there with Charles since a young age, after he caught her in the kitchen. Charles, far from being disturbed when he discovered her ability, had managed to persuade his parents to adopt her.
Still, what they learned on the way over was disturbing. Charles, Erik and Moira were able to get a hold of Emma Frost, and managed to learn what Shaw's plans were. Shaw was actually trying to cause the Cuban Missile Crisis, and intended to tip it over into a nuclear apocalypse. That way, anyone who had the capability of becoming a Mutant would have their mutation triggered, and humanity, if not wiped out, would be decimated.
Harry personally thought the plan even more insane than anything Voldemort could have cooked up. All of which meant that the stakes were higher than ever. They needed to get ready as soon as possible. The very future of humanity was at stake, and even the Mutants would not be safe, for Shaw made it clear that anyone who opposed him, even if they were a Mutant, would not be welcome.
But that was fine. Harry may not like the situation, but he was going to ensure Shaw was stopped. If he couldn't use magic, he'd have to find some other way…
CHAPTER 7 ANNOTATIONS:
Hoo boy. This chapter was a VERY long time coming, wasn't it? I'm sorry about that, but I lost my motivation and interest. I actually wrote the first 800 words or so, the scene where Wolverine, Harry and Raven have their training, but never got around to writing the next lot of words. Again, sorry about that, and I honestly have no idea when the next chapter will be coming out, though hopefully sooner rather than later.
Also, it was my intention from the beginning to spare Armando by having Harry attack Shaw in Armando and Alex's place. It also served as a good means for Harry to find out about Shaw's energy absorption abilities. I think that most spells, even the Killing Curse, would only fuel Shaw, because most spells are energy blasts. The Cruciatus might work, Wingardium Leviosa might, but most spells, yeah, no sell. Hell, I think Shaw can no-sell Fiendfyre, given that explosives do shit-for-dick against him.
Also, Harry, as you've noticed, is pissed with Angel, comparing her to Pettigrew, and while that might be a bit much, he doesn't really have time for traitors who ignore the fact that their new bosses, murdered people for little real reason.
Review-answering time! DZ2: Harry views Charles as a somewhat more pragmatic Dumbledore in some regards. He likes Charles, but he's also annoyed at his naïveté. Harry and Raven basically act as Charles' Devil's Advocate.
Harmonius Arkos Sloth: Yeah, the James Bond books are fairly bad with racism and misogyny, though they're also slightly more realistic with the spy work. Plus, there's some surprisingly strong female characters. Unfortunately, the attitudes towards other races and women…yeah. You're going to see a lot of stereotypes in Live and Let Die and Dr No in many regards, and Pussy Galore is meant to be a lesbian in the book of Goldfinger, only to be 'cured' by Bond.
DalkonCledwin: None of the Doctor Who episodes were destroyed in a fire, not a single one anyway. Some film cans were probably thrown into a furnace, though. Also, Logan didn't actually get hit by the blast at ground zero. I think he got some horrible burns, and that was it.
No numbered annotations this time.