Author's Note: This story takes place in the continuity of the X-Men movie, about a month and a half after the chess game. Plus, Laura and most other original characters are MINE!! "No touchy!"
Surviving The War
Professor Charles Xavier awoke suddenly from his deep sleep. He looked at his clock. 7:00 AM. He pulled himself into his wheelchair and headed toward his office, not bothering to change out of his pajamas. When he got to his office, he found someone sitting in the center chair with their legs on his desk.
"About time," the figure said with a feminine voice. "I thought you'd never get here."
"Who are you?" the Professor asked, turning on the office lights. He moved his chair to the side of the desk and got his first good look real look at the intruder.
She was a beautiful girl of at least 16 with long, curly blonde hair. She was dressed in hiking boots, black jeans, a black halter top and leather jacket. She was obviously in good shape and had a ridiculously overdeveloped chest that made her look not unlike a comic book character.
She chuckled slightly at Xavier's question. "My name is Laura Hanson. I got in because my mom taught me everything she knows and you have lousy security. As for what I want, I'm getting to that."
She held up her fists. "Not too long ago, you encountered a mutant named Logan. I need to know everything you know about him and where you sent him. The reason is simple: he's my father. And yes..."
She trailed off. Then, three long sharp, metal claws snapped out from between the knuckles of each fist.
"...I'm quite sure," she finished.
"And what would you do with this information?" Charles asked.
Laura retracted her claws. "Use it to find him. Look, I tracked him this far, so I don't need your help. I just...."
Laura trailed off again and sat up. "Y'know what? Never mind," she said after a long pause. She got up, walked over to and opened the window.
"What's wrong?" Charles asked.
"You're the telepath, Chuck," Laura said as she stepped out the window. "You figure it out." She then disappeared outside.
Charles made a quick scan of the area. His eyes went wide and he sent out a telepathic call to the X-Men.
Laura ran in the direction of the stables, which is where she hid her motorcycle. However, halfway there, she leapt into the air. The second she did, something crashed into the ground, creating a crater.
"Damnit!!" Laura cried as the force of the impact sent her crashing back down a few feet away. She rolled, jumped into a battle stance and snapped out both sets of claws. "So much for getting away before I have to cause millions in property damage," she muttered as she waited.
She watched as a figure slowly rose out of the crater. It was an extremely tall, at least seven feet, woman dressed in a tight costume that displayed her body builder physique. The costume was crimson with metallic purple gloves and boots. The mask covered all of her face except her mouth, nose and long, wild black hair. The red mask had white lenses for eyes.
"Oh. Hi, Rachel," Laura said as she retracted her claws. "Maggie's still sending you, huh? Think he would've learned by now."
"Rachel" was silent.
Laura sighed and pulled out a foot long silver rod from her jacket. "Alright. Let's go," she said as she pressed a button on the rod and it extended to a full length staff.
Rachel flew high into the air and dived at Laura. Laura jumped aside at the last second and slammed her staff into the side of Rachel's head. The masked woman was thrown off course and crashed into a tree, breaking it in two.
Laura twirled her staff in the air and got back into a battle stance. "Come on, Rach! Challenge me a little!"
Rachel climbed to her feet, picked up the broken tree with one hand and threw it at Laura.
"That'll do," Laura said quietly before trying to leap aside. However, the tree hit her legs, sending her down on her face and trapping her. She screamed as she tried to turn over, but it was futile. Rachel landed next to the tree and pushed it off. Laura wasted no time getting back to her feet, which seemed unharmed. She grabbed her dropped staff and hit Rachel in the ribs. Rachel simply spun around, grabbed Laura by the neck and lifted her up. She started to squeeze.
Laura again dropped the staff and tried to pull Rachel's hand away. When the world started to go black, she unsheathed her left-hand claws and stabbed them through the mask. There was the sound of metal hitting metal as Rachel dropped Laura and held her eyes. Laura fell to the ground and started to gasp for air. She quickly did a sweep kick, knocking Rachel down. She then grabbed her staff and ran.
Laura got a few yards before she stopped and jammed the staff into the ground. "Okay," she said as she closed her eyes. "Clear my thoughts. Deep breaths. Find my still point..."
Then, with her eyes still closed, she jumped, grabbed the staff and used it to spin herself. She delivered a powerful two-footed kick to the approaching Rachel's jaw.
Without looking to see what happened to Rachel, Laura pulled out her staff, collapsed it, put it away and started running again. She reached the stables, went behind them, and pulled back a cloth, revealing a brand-new motorcycle. She was about to get on when someone suddenly grabbed her by her jacket collar and pulled her away.
She rolled her eyes as Rachel held her close. "Is this about bringing the factory down on your head? 'Cause I can explain that...."
Suddenly, thunder was heard and the sky grew dark. Lightning came down from the sky and struck Rachel. Rachel dropped Laura and fell to the ground in a smoking heap. Laura looked to see an African woman with white hair and dressed in a robe a few yards away.
"Storm, right?" Laura said as she walked over to the woman. "That was stupid for a lot of reasons. One, my bones are coated with metal, so if you hit me I would've been fried. Two, Rachel there is pretty much completely invincible. All you did was slow her down. And three, if you did manage to hurt her enough to get her attention, she'll kill you. I recommend you run like hell."
Storm was about to say something when Rachel got up and bolted toward them. Laura, without turning around to see, jumped into the air and delivered a spinning kick to Rachel's head. Before she could do anything else, Rachel was sent flying by a blast of red energy.
Laura spun around in the direction of the blast and saw a man dressed only in boxers and a strange visor. Coming up behind him was a redheaded woman only in a robe.
"Look!" Laura called. "Just go back to bed or whatever you were doing! I can take care of her! This is an off day! Now get lost before you get killed!!"
She closed her eyes, cried something that sounded like "Hi-ya!" and flung her fist behind her, knocking Rachel back a step. She then took off running again with Rachel in hot pursuit. She ran behind a tree and closed her eyes. She waved her arms around in strange patterns before screaming and kicking the tree. The tree broke free of the ground and crashed into Rachel, knocking her to the ground.
Laura let out a sigh of relief when Rachel didn't get out from underneath the wood. She collapsed to the ground and wiped the sweat from her forehead.
However, before she had time to fully relax, the fallen tree exploded, sending splinters everywhere. Laura landed several yards away with several splinters stuck in her skin. She started to pull out the pieces of wood, but stopped when a shadow fell over her. She looked up.
"Oh, $h!t," was all she could say before Rachel was on top of her, delivering a series of powerful blows. A punch to the gut sent Laura crashing into the remains of the tree, covering her with more splinters. Before she could get up, Rachel stomped on her head, embedding it in the earth. Laura pushed herself out and rolled just in time to avoid another stomp. She quickly got out and extended her staff in time to deflect another stomp.
Rachel floated into the air to avoid falling and grabbed Laura. The costumed woman threw the target directly into Storm, who was flying over to help.
"Didn't I tell you to run?" Laura muttered weakly as she rolled off of Storm. She looked up to see, of course, Rachel standing over them, fist pulled back for a punch. Laura got ready to block the punch with her staff, and was completely shocked when Rachel punched herself in the head and fell to the ground unconscious.
"What the...?" Laura muttered as she got up. She leaned down next to Rachel and looked around. "Who did it?"
"I did," replied the redhead. "I deflected the blow with my telekinesis. Is she alive?"
Laura chuckled. "Yeah. I've done worse to her. Poor kid..."
"Kid?" repeated the man with the visor.
Laura rolled her eyes and pulled off Rachel's mask. She looked like a peaceful, sleeping 17 year old.
"I suggest you guys lock her up tight," Laura said as she stood up. "She'll get out, but at least it'll give me a head start." She started to walk off.
"Wait a minute!" the visored man called after her. "If you don't mind, miss, we'd like some answers. For starters, how can you walk away after all that?"
Laura turned toward them and smiled. "I'm very much my father's daughter. The girl's name is Rachel, but she'll only answer to 'Enforcer' now. Anything else?"
"Well," the redhead raised her hand, "I, for one, would like to know what's going on."
Laura chuckled. "Fine. Brew me up some java and I'll tell you all about it."
Later, Professor Xavier, Scott Summers, Ororo Munroe and Dr. Jean Grey were gathered in the lab of the mansion. On the lab's main screen were several pictures of a skeleton. They all had day clothes on. Scott wore sunglasses with red lens and Jean was wearing a lab coat and glasses.
"As you can see," Jean started, "her skeleton is almost exactly the same as Logan's, with the obvious exceptions. Whoever did it also seems to have done a better job. Her powers seemed to be more developed. She heals faster, sees, smells, and hears better. She also has another power that I haven't been able to identify yet."
"Does she know who did this?" Charles asked.
"Yep," Laura said, walking into the room. She was just putting her top back on.
Jean elbowed Scott in the ribs.
"In fact," Laura continued with a smirk, "I can tell you his name, address, and what he eats for breakfast every morning." She walked over to the coffee maker and poured herself a cup. "I would, but the bastard's mine."
"Laura," Charles said, "if you want us to help you..."
"I never said I wanted your help, Chuck," Laura said as she sat down on a table, putting her just out of arms reach of the professor.
"Yes, you did."
"Not with this."
"You did say you'd explain..."
"I lied so I could get some free java." She shook her cup slightly and took a sip.
"What about Rachel?"
Laura suddenly shot her arm out straight to the side and her claws snapped out, missing the professor's head by centimeters. "Stay out of my head, Chuck," she said while still looking straight ahead. "That is, if you want to keep yours." She was deadly serious.
"We want to help you both," Charles said as he backed his chair away. He still had a calm expression on his face. He gestured for Scott to stand down. "But you have to help us. Tell us what's happening. Who did this to the both of you?"
Laura retracted her claws and took a long sip of her coffee. "Magnus," she said grimly.
Charles's eyes grew wide. "Richard Luther Magnus?"
Laura nodded and drank more coffee.
"Who is he, Professor?" Scott asked.
"An advocate for the mutant cause," Charles replied, still in shock. "He has a school much like this in Washington, D.C. We've helped fund each other's research. He helped with Magneto to build Cerebro."
Laura snorted. "That was probably the worst thing you could've done. Then again, you couldn't have known. None of us did..."
She gulped down the rest of her coffee. She looked at everyone else. "Alright," she said finally. "I'll tell you what happened. I'm gonna have to start pretty far back. That's why I had you guys scan me, so I wouldn't have to explain my powers. No interruptions! Got it?"
Everyone slowly nodded.
"Good," Laura said. She then took a deep breath and told her story:
Logan and my mom had a fling way back when. Based on what she told me, he found out she was pregnant and took off. Mom raised me herself and I had a pretty normal childhood except for the lessons mom started teaching when I learned to walk. She was a mercenary, but retired when she had me.
When I went to school, I was the one pushing around the bullies. Sticking up for the little guy. I got into fights and got black eyes like everyone else, so my mom assumed I somehow turned out normal. Did I mention she was a mutant, too? Well, she was. Anyway...
Everything went downhill in high school of course. Sometime in freshmen year, I was in shop class and some jackass "accidentally" bumped into me. The result was my left hand being sawed clean off. I was rushed to the hospital and my mom called a lawyer. It wasn't needed though. The next day, the doctor found my hand was literally growing back. He tried to alert the FoH about the "mutie" in his hospital, but I found out and escaped to home before he had a chance to make the call.
Mom was frantic about what to do. I was just amazed. I mean, I was right-handed before, and now I can use either or both with no problem. One day after I came home, Magnus rang our doorbell.
He told my mom about his school and how he was all for mutant/human equality. We both bought it. Hook, line and sinker. I barely had time to pack before I was saying goodbye to Mom and arriving at Maggie's school in Washington.
Maggie helped me understand and figure out exactly what my powers were. We found out that I was a lot more powerful than both mom and Logan. We also talked. He became the father I never had.
That's where I also met Rachel. She was being given hell by the other students because of how she looked. She could've crushed 'em all to dust, but she was too shy for that. So I started beating the $h!t out of anyone who decided to pick on her. Somehow, we became best friends.
During my third year there, students started disappearing. I didn't think anything of it until Rachel and my others friends disappeared too. I confronted Magnus about it. He knocked me out with some sort of gun and did...did this to me!! [She snapped out her claws.] I escaped and just started running, living however I could.
Magnus started sending Rachel after me as some sort of message. I've always managed to avoid capture by knocking her out somehow, but she always finds me again. About half a year into my running, I decided to track down Logan, see what he has to say about having a daughter. I spent the other half of the year tracking him here, which is how we met.
Laura retracted her claws and awaited the inevitable questions. Finally, Jean spoke.
"You said your mother was a mutant," she said. "Did you inherit any of her powers?"
"I got a better version of the same thing, like I did with Logan," Laura said. "It's kinda hard to explain though. If I concentrate, y'know, focus my energy, I get stronger, faster, more agile, better everything. I even think my claws get sharper."
"What about Rachel?" Scott asked. "If she's your best friend, why is she after you?"
Laura sighed. "She's under Magnus's control. There's some sort of device inside her head. How he got it in there, I have no clue. Probably found a way to nullify her powers for a while. And her powers are superhuman strength, sub sonic flight and she's pretty much completely invincible. Where is she anyway?"
"She's in the examination room," Jean replied. "We're trying to figure out how too safely..."
She trailed off when Laura got up and bolted out of the room. The X-Men looked at each other, bewildered, and piled out after Laura.
Laura came into the examination room and found Rachel laying on a bed in what looked like a glass tank. She was still in the costume, minus the mask, and still out cold. She had a huge bruise on the side of her head.
Laura walked over to the tank and pressed her hands against the glass. "Hey, kid," she said softly. "Any chance of you coming back soon? I could use some help when I'm ready to make that SOB pay."
Laura sighed sadly. "I gotta go, Rach. I can't risk you coming to while I'm still around. I'll be lucky if Chuck doesn't sue me..."
Then, Rachel's eyes slowly opened. "Where am I?" she said weakly.
Laura nearly fell down. "You talked?!" she whispered. "YOU TALKED!! YOU'RE BACK!!"
Rachel looked at the shouting teenager, obviously confused. "L-Laura?"
"It's me, kid," Laura said, tears running down her face. "I'm glad you're back."
"Me too," Rachel said. "But where have I been? My head's all fuzzy. What's my last name? How old am I? Where do I live?"
"Magnus. 17. Magnus's Institute in Washington, D.C." Laura turned around when she heard the X-Men come into the room. "If you don't mind, we girls got some catching up to do."
Charles nodded. "Take as long as you need, but Rachel, we're going to need to talk to you if you don't mind."
"Okay," Rachel replied, barely above a whisper.
With that, the X-Men turned back around and left.
"Who are they?" Rachel asked.
"Friends," Laura said. "Except for maybe the guy in the glasses. Something about him just annoys me..."
"My head's all fuzzy," Rachel repeated. "Can you tell me about stuff?"
"Like what the hell is going on?"
"Oh my God! You said the 'H-word'!"
"Nothing. Well, I can't be sure all my info is right 'cause it's become obvious the man who told it to me is the devil himself. You're father's name is Richard Luther Magnus. He always said you're mother died during childbirth. You were the first student in his school, which is where you met me. This is where things get ugly..."
"My theory," Jean told Charles, "is that when I made Rachel punch herself, she damaged the device, so now she's back."
The X-Men were back in Charles's office. The professor sat behind his desk while Jean, Scott and Ororo sat in the chairs in front of him.
"What about Laura?" Charles asked.
"All the psychiatrists say the same thing," Scott answered, looking at a file. "She has a major attitude, but is very honest. Except for fights, which she admits she started, her record is spotless. Though over the past year, someone matching her description has been reported stealing food from convenience stores across the country."
"What about Magnus's notes?" Charles asked. "Anything suspicious there?"
"We couldn't get into his private computer, but we found some old e-mails to her mother. He basically praises Laura's academic progress and tells her mother about the fights and other problems she's caused. He mentions Laura's friendship with Rachel, which he says is his daughter. And in almost every message, he asks about Laura's powers, Logan, or her own abilities. He also seems to get a bit fanatic when describing Laura's progress in using her abilities."
"Who is her mother?" Ororo asked.
"Jessica Hanson, a.k.a. Anna Valentine," Scott read, "a.k.a. Jean Gray, spelled with an A, a.k.a. Electra Murdock, a.k.a. Jennifer Smith, a.k.a...the list goes on. She was a 'mercenary with a heart,' according to a story the New York Times. She only took jobs if she thought it was for a good cause. She never killed unless it was absolutely necessary. At least that's what the story says."
Scott suddenly sat up straight.
"What is it?" Jean asked.
"This is interesting," Scott replied. "When Laura ran away, Magnus called the police and filed a missing persons report. However, when the police informed Jessica, she had them call the search off."
"Does that mean she doesn't care about her daughter?" Ororo asked.
"I don't believe so," Charles said. "I think that Jessica knows that Laura wouldn't run away without good cause. Laura probably even informed her of the situation before Magnus filed the report."
"Then why didn't she do anything?" Ororo asked.
"I don't know," the professor replied. "Maybe Laura asked her not too. Or Magnus blackmailed her. We don't know she didn't do anything either."
"I think Laura owes us some more answers," Scott said.
"She doesn't owe us anything, Scott," Charles said as he brought his chair out form behind the desk. "She's already informed us of a great threat to our cause. If she wants to volunteer the information, fine, but we will not force it from her. Speaking of which, I think it's time to check on our guests and make sure they don't break into the liquor cabinet."
The small joke got a chuckle from everyone as they left the office and headed back to the examination room.
"I think I got what's going on," Rachel said.
"You're taking it awful well," Laura muttered.
"Just don't let me meet that liar SOB again."
"Am I gonna have to cut off your tongue..."
"Jeez, Rach! I was kidding! I'd probably break my claws trying that!"
"Oh. Laura, I can't remember any of being Enforcer."
"That's good. Why would you want to?"
"I don't! It's just...what have you been doing..."
"Everything from dropping anvils to bring factories down on you head."
"No, I mean to live. How did you eat? Where did you sleep? How'd you make money?"
"Oh. Well, I never paid for food. I didn't like it, but a girl has to have her priorities. I carry as little as possible when on the road. I only have two sets of clothes, a sleeping bag, a flashlight, and other stuff. For money, I entered martial arts competitions, did a few odd jobs, applied for part time jobs, collected bounties on fugitives (that's especially fun), and stole credit cards and wallets, but only as a last resort. As for where I slept, unless I was working that night, I slept outside, under the stars."
"What do you mean 'working that night'?"
Laura blushed slightly. "Working late."
" 'Who' would fit better actually..."
"You don't mean...."
"How could you do that?"
Laura shrugged. "It's fun and the money's good. Beggars can't be choosers. Well, sometimes..."
"But what about diseases?"
"You're worse than my mom, Rach! Anyway, either I've been extremely lucky, or my healing factor has kept me safe."
"What about pregnancy?"
Laura hung her head slightly. "Sometimes it works to well," she whispered sadly. She then looked at her friend. "And yes, I've tried to help find cures! Either they've found out how I'm immune and tried to burn me at the stake, or they weren't able to get a sample from me before my healing factor got the needle stuck in my arm."
"You were trying to help, and they tried to kill you?" Rachel asked like she couldn't believe her ears.
"I know. Sometimes I think the human race is just too stupid to live. Mutants included."
"What do you mean?"
"You know all those alien movies and books where the aliens want to wipe us out because humans are too violent and all that $h!t? Well, the way I see it, humans with super powers is even worse in that perspective."
"I know. It's scary that I came up with that..."
The two girls laughed. Jean came up to the door and knocked gently. Laura turned to face her. "If you don't mind," Jean said, "I have to run a few tests on Rachel."
Laura turned to her friend. "You gonna be okay, kid?"
Rachel nodded shyly.
"You don't hate me, do you?"
"No! You did what you had to."
"Thanks," Rachel said. She then picked up her jacket from an exam table and headed out the door. As she headed out, Jean handed her some change.
"So you can buy some breakfast," Jean explained.
"Thanks, Red," Laura said, smiling. She then disappeared down the hall.
Jean opened the tank and Rachel slowly climbed out. She stretched as Jean watched.
"Just how tall are you?" Jean asked.
"Seven-two, ma'am," Rachel replied softly.
Jean chuckled. "Call me Jean, Rachel. You don't need to be so formal."
"Yes, ma...Jean," Rachel said, slightly louder.
Laura whistled a song as she headed down to the cafeteria with her hands in her pockets. Suddenly, she froze. With her left hand, she reached out to the side and pulled her invisible stalker by the collar. She pressed her right fist against the invisible stalker's forehead and growled.
"What are you doing here, Ken?" Laura demanded through clenched teeth.
There was a nervous chuckle as the 15 year old became visible. He was an Asian boy with very short black hair. He was dressed in regular clothes for a boy his age. "Come on, Laura," he said, nervously. "It's me!"
"I haven't seen you since everyone disappeared," Laura said, teeth still clenched. "If you're really Ken, prove it!"
"Bring me a little closer and I will," Ken said, making his eyebrows move up and down and smiling slyly.
Laura smiled, but didn't let go or move her fist. "Good to see you. How'd you get away?"
"I was snooping like I always do," Ken explained, "when I heard Magnus's plans to turn everyone to zombies..."
Laura scowled and pressed her fist hard against his forehead. "You bastard!! You could've warned us!!"
"Whoa! Whoa!" Ken said, shaking his head. "It ain't like that!! I was gonna!! Magnus found me!! He nearly killed me!! If I didn't have my sword with me, I'd would be dead right now!! Besides, I could hardly believe it myself. I sure as hell knew you guys wouldn't either."
Laura moved her fist, but didn't let go. "Makes sense, but how'd you wind up here?"
"As soon as I left Washington, the professor found me and enrolled me here," Ken replied. "I would've come back for you guys, or told the professor, but I was...scared."
Laura was shocked at the last remark. "You?! Scared?!"
"Yeah," Ken said shamefully. "You've never actually been attacked by him, Laura. He-he's savage. I still I have nightmares."
"Don't worry, Ken," Laura said. "I'm gonna get that bastard for what he did to me. For what he did to everyone."
"Thanks," Ken said. He then perked up. "Say, are you still gonna move me closer? For old times sake? Maybe put my face in those wonderful b..."
Laura growled again and kneed Ken in the groin. Hard. She then dropped him and started to walk away. "You're an @$$hole, Ken," she said as he curled up into a fetal position. "Don't you dare change."
Rachel finished putting on the civilian clothes Jean had given her. She was amazed. "Where did you find things my size?" she asked.
Jean smiled. "The professor has connections."
"This is wonderful!" Rachel continued. "I almost look normal!"
"You're a lovely young woman," Jean said, looking up, into Rachel's eyes. "Why would you let their taunts get to you?"
Rachel blushed brightly and looked at the floor. "My face is fine, I know that. But, on this body, it's mismatched. It's like God took the cute girl at school's head and put it on Mr. Universe's body. May I go now?"
Jean nodded. Rachel nearly ran out of the room, like she couldn't get out of there fast enough.
As soon as Rachel was outside, she flew into the air. She kept going up until she reached the clouds. She flew into a large white cumulus and started to dance in the air. She twirled and spun around, laughing happily.
The sky had been Rachel's favorite place since she first learned to control her power of flight. Up there, she could be alone, away from everyone and everything. No one could fly up to taunt her about how she looked. No hate mobs to try to kill her. No Laura to smother her. No one but the occasional passing bird.
It was also a place to gather her thoughts. She put her arms behind her head and hovered into a laying down position, trying to decide what to do about her father. If he really was her father.
"I still can't believe it," she said to herself. "He's such a kind and caring man. Or at least that's how I remember him. I can't remember the past year at all. The last thing I remember is saying goodnight to Daddy, and waking up in that room with Laura standing over me."
She sighed. "But Laura wouldn't lie. And I remember seeing a device that looked like the one she described. The one that...did that to her. Oh, God. I don't know what to do...."
Laura sat on a bench outside, drinking a can of pop she had gotten from a vending machine. She knew Jean had wanted her to buy a school breakfast with the money, but she didn't want to get used to eating real food again.
She finished the soda and looked off into space. Memories flashed through her mind. After a few minutes of silence, she cried out, almost roared, angrily and slashed the air with her right-hand claws, slicing off a nearby tree branch. She looked at the claws breathing heavily. Finally, she retracted them and wiped the sweat off her forehead.
"I should see a shrink," she muttered.
It wasn't until then she noticed the girl standing a few yards away, watching her. The girl was about 17, with long brown hair that had a white streak in the front. She was dressed almost normally, except for the long gloves that almost went all the way up her arm. She looked terrified.
Laura chuckled nervously. "Hi," she said. "Sorry if I scared you."
The girl took a few steps forward. "Wh-who are you?" she asked.
"Laura Hanson," Laura said extending her hand. The girl hesitated. Laura smiled. "You must be Rouge."
"How did you know?" Rouge asked, obviously surprised.
"That whole fiasco on the Statue of Liberty is how I found this place," Laura replied. "And I did some research before I showed up. Sit down. I could use some company."
Rouge slowly walked over and sat down next to Laura. "Are you a new student?" she asked.
"Nope," Laura replied. "I'm just passing through."
"Are you related..."
"He's my dad."
Rogue was shocked. "Are you sure?"
Laura unsheathed her claws. "Pretty sure." She then retracted the claws again. "I've also seen pictures of Logan and my mom. Including some home videos of cook outs and..."
Laura drifted off when she noticed the dog tags around Rouge's neck. Staring at them, she slowly reached for them. Rouge gave a start and Laura suddenly found herself unable to move.
"Could I see those tags?" Laura asked softly. "And maybe have my mobility back?"
"Oh," Rouge said. She reluctantly took the tags off and handed them to Laura.
Laura found herself able to move again when the tags were in her hand. She looked at the tags, reading the name "Wolverine" and other information. Despite her efforts, her vision blurred with tears as she read and felt them.
"Can I ask you a question?" Laura asked softly.
"Sure," Rogue said.
"What's he like?"
Rachel stood in front of the door to Professor Xavier's office. She took a deep breath and raised her hand to knock, but before she could the professor called "Come in, Rachel."
She was taken slightly aback at this, but opened the door and walked in. She found the professor looking up at her.
"S-s-sorry to disturb you, sir," she stammered out. "But I was wondering if you could help me with something...?"
"Of course, Rachel," Charles said, coming out from behind his desk. "We're here to help you. What can I do for you?"
"W-well, Laura said you were a telepathic and...and...." She took a deep breath. "Can you help me get my memory back? From the past year, I mean."
"I might be able to restore them," Charles replied, a worried expression on his face. "Are you sure you want this? They can't be pleasant."
"I know," Rachel said. "But I need to know what happened. Can you help me? Please?"
"Alright," Charles said after a long pause.
"Thank you," Rachel said as she kneeled down in front of the professor's chair. He reached up to her head, but still couldn't reach. She turned scarlet as she sat down on the floor and lowered her head further. The professor put his hands on her temples and closed his eyes.
Charles opened his eyes and found himself sitting in a rather large bed. He looked around and saw that he was in what looked like a teenage girl's bedroom at a boarding school. Pictures of music stars and other male celebrities lined the walls. A desk with a computer on it sat in one corner. On the night stand was a picture was a framed photo of Laura, Rachel, a boy he recognized as Ken Steele and some other teenagers and two young boys of about ten.
Charles walked over to the computer and sat down. He brought it out of stand by and started going through the files carefully, careful as not to intrude Rachel's privacy or cause any harm. Finally, he found a file called "Memories."
He hesitated, and then opened it.
Back in the real world, Rachel screamed, floated into the air and got away from Charles. She was overcome by noises and images.
"You, my dear," she heard a man's voice say, "will be my ultimate soldier. You will be my Enforcer!"
"My God! Rachel!" she heard Laura cry. "What did he do to you?!"
Again she heard Laura "Look, Rach, I don't want to hurt you, but," there was the sound of metal hitting metal, followed by, "Oh. That doesn't seem to be a problem." She then heard Laura cry out in pain.
She screamed and snapped back to reality when she felt Charles touch her hand.
"Are you alright?" he asked. Concern shone in his eyes.
"Yeah," Rachel said weakly. "I will be."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have brought them back so quickly..."
"No! No, it's fine. This is what I wanted. I just thought I only went after Laura! I didn't know that I...that I tried to kill her! I tried to kill the best friend I ever had!" She stood up straight, but didn't touch back down to the floor. "Thank you, Professor!" She then flew out the door.
Laura slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was blurry, so she couldn't see where she was, but she felt like...she was floating. And wet.
Gasping, she blinked rapidly, clearing her vision. She was in a glass tank, floating naked in a strange green liquid. She was supported only by a breathing mask that supplied her with oxygen. She trashed about madly, trying to figure out what was going on. She then heard chuckling in her ear.
"Magnus," she said darkly through the mask.
"You always were clever, dear Laura," the man replied through a sound system in the mask. "That, combined with your powers and the training your mother has given you over the years makes you the perfect general to lead my army. However, even the best model can be improved upon."
That exact moment, the liquid suddenly became boiling hot, covering her body with blisters. Her mutant power healed her almost instantly, but then the liquid became freezing cold. The frost bite was healed even quicker. Then two large mechanical arms attached to her shoulder and sent electricity through her body. She screamed in pain. She didn't even notice the second pair of arms attach to her ankles under they started to shock her as well.
She had no idea how long the process took. It could have been hours, or even seconds. She was too busy screaming and trying to break free to notice. Volts to her brain kept her from concentrating and using her mother's abilities.
Finally, the arms detached. The tank opened, spilling the liquid to the floor. Laura pulled off the mask and let herself fall to the ground face first. Weeping, she propped herself onto her arms and knees. She looked up when the shadow of a man cast over her.
"What the hell did you do to me?" she demanded in a hoarse voice.
"Improved you, my dear," the man replied.
Laura was about to retort when she felt something ripping through the skin of her hands. She screamed bloody murder as her left-hand set of claws emerged for the first time. She merely winced when the right-hand set ripped through, too tired to scream anymore.
"Perfect," the shadow of a man whispered in awe.
Laura glared at him and suddenly pounced on him, slashing madly.
Laura bolted awake, gasping for air and sweating. She looked at the bedside clock. Only 10:03.
"I remember now," she said, laying back down. "Chuck invited us to stay the night. Rachel went to bed talking about enrolling and trying to talk me into it. As for the dream, correction, flashback, I blame sleeping in a bed. With clothes on. Alone."
She then slowly sat up, listening intensely. She sniffed the air. She then bolted out of bed, kicked down her door and bolted out of her room. She ran down the hall to another room, kicked that door down and went inside.
The room was fine, except for the fact that the bed was empty. The covers were thrown about in chaotic patterns and there were no pillows.
Laura walked over and sniffed one of the blankets. She growled and threw it aside.
Storm fought her way through the crowd of students that had formed. "What happened?" she asked.
"Rachel's gone," Laura replied, not turning to face the older woman. "Magnus got her back."
"How did he get into the school?" Charles asked. "And how did he take her without a struggle?"
The X-Men and Laura were in the professor's office again. Laura sat in one of the chairs, staring at the walls angrily while everyone else stood around here, expecting answers.
"He sent a student named Eddie Brownstone Junior," Laura said flatly. "His natural form is a strange liquid. This allows him to transform into pretty much whatever he wants. He found out what room you gave Rachel, disguised himself as a pillow, and took her while she slept."
"How did he get in without Jean or myself sensing him?" Professor Xavier asked.
"Same way Magnus found me and all his other students before you did."
"Prepare the Blackbird," Charles said turning to Scott. "By the time it's ready I'll have located the girl..."
He drifted off when he found Laura suddenly in front of him, fists on the desk.
"I can tell you exactly where they are," she said darkly. "Now, you can either get me one of those uniforms and bring me along. Or you can waste your time looking for Magnus while he's invisible to your stupid computer and have me steal your little plane to get her back myself."
Everyone was silent as they waited for the Professor's answer. Finally, he nodded. "Get Laura a uniform and go where she tells you."
Laura smiled for half a second before she followed the other X-Men out the office door.
Later, Cyclops, Storm and Jean Grey were uniformed and in their seats on the Blackbird, waiting for Laura.
"Where is she?" Cyclops demanded. "You wouldn't think she cared at all...."
"Remind me to cut you for that," Laura muttered as she came on board. She was dressed in one of the black leather X-Men uniforms. She also had on a black belt with a series of compartments, a holster on the side that held her collapsible staff, and a buckle that had a picture of a tiger's head. Her face was painted with orange and black stripes in a tiger-like pattern. She walked over to the front of the cockpit and entered something into one of the computers. "I just entered the coordinates for Magnus's school," she told Cyclops. "Just let the auto-pilot take us there."
"How do you know he's there?" Cyclops asked as Laura went to sit down. "It's seems too obvious."
"Maggie wants us to find him," Laura said. "Otherwise he wouldn't have been so sloppy. Trust me, One-Eye."
Cyclops muttered something under his breath and started the lift-off procedure.
"Oh, by the way, guys," Laura said with a smirk, "my codename's Tyger. Spelled with a Y."
Rachel struggled against the metal bonds that held her to the lab table. Despite her strength, the bonds didn't even bend.
"Just give up, now, my dear," said a familiar man's voice. A man dressed in a black business suit walked into the room. However, he was careful to keep face in the shadows. "The bonds are made out of solid adamantium. I'm afraid not even you can break them."
"D-dad?" Rachel stammered out, trying to hold back tears. "W-why are you doing this?"
"You still call me dad," the man said, somewhat shocked. "Good. That means your mind hasn't been completely poisoned. Soon, you'll be cured of that vile toxin Xavier has planted in your mind."
"No," Rachel said through clenched teeth. "I've seen what you've done to EJ and the others! I've seen what you've done to Laura and what you've done to me! And so help me," tears started to stream down her face, "I'll stop you!"
Magnus was silent for a while. "You're confused, Rachel. I know my daughter would never speak to me in that tone."
"How can I even be sure you're really my father?"
"THAT'S ENOUGH!!" Magnus screamed. He then forced himself to calm down. "No, it's not your fault. Xavier and Laura have filled your mind with lies and half-truths. I'll deal with that girl when she arrives. Relax, Rachel. This will all be over soon."
With that, Magnus turned around, and walked out of the room. Rachel immediately began struggling against the bonds again.
"We're approaching the academy," Cyclops announced. "There's a pond that we..."
"NO!" Tyger shouted suddenly, bolting to her feet. "I mean, Magnus has that pond rigged. There should be a clearing in the woods about 20 clicks due south."
Cyclops took a quick look at Tyger, but then turned back and looked for the clearing. "Found it! Beginning landing procedure."
Laura sat down again and reached into her belt. When the Blackbird had safely landed in the clearing, she dropped three green capsules. The plane was filled with a green gas, making everyone choke and gag before they passed out.
About 30 seconds later, Tyger's eyes snapped back open. She got out of her seat and headed for the exit.
"Sorry guys," she said before she left, "but this is my fight. Thanks for the ride, though."
She then went outside and closed the door behind her. She immediatly ran in the direction of the academy, so she failed to notice the plane's door opened and close, seemingly on its own.
Tyger soon came out of the woods to the ten foot wall that blocked off the academy grounds. She walked up to it, examining it. She could hear guards smell the gun powder of their guns on the other side.
Climbing with my claws is out, she thought. They'll hear it and shoot me as soon as my head sticks up. Ah! Got it!
Tyger turned and walked back to the edge of the woods. She faced the wall, closed her eyes, and started to concentrate. "I am transformed," she whispered after a few minutes and began to run back to the wall, eyes still closed. She got two feet from the wall, flipped onto her hands and pushed herself over the wall. She landed on one guard and quickly took out another with a sharp blow to the head. She took out and extended her staff and used to knock out a third guard. Finally, she opened her eyes and looked around.
All the other guards had run, leaving their guns behind. "Huh?" she exclaimed. She then found herself in a spotlight. "Oh, crap," she muttered right before the guard in the watch tower opened fire with a machine gun. She took several bullets in the chest and fell to the ground.
After a minute or so, she jumped back to her feet and threw a black sphere towards the watch tower. She then waited. Gas started to seep from the tower, followed by a coughing guard who fell over the edge.
She smirked as she stepped out of the searchlight. Looking dead serious, she unleashed a set of claws and moved them in the light, sending a message.
In Magnus's office, a young man stood in front of the window. He watched and mentally translated the message.
"She's sending a warning, sir," the young man said. " 'Surrender or die.' "
Magnus, sitting behind a desk in the dark, smirked. "Really? Tell Poseidon to get into position."
Tyger retracted her claws and looked around to see where she was exactly. Magnus's office was about half a mile directly in front of her, across an open field. A few yards to her right was a stream. On the other side of the stream was a small forest that she knew like the back of her hand. However, despite this fact, Laura put away her staff and began to run toward the office.
"Laura!" someone called.
Tyger spun around, claws out. The voice had come from the stream. There was a boy waiting in a canoe. The voice had come from him.
"Jordan?!" Laura exclaimed, retracting her claws.
The boy was tall, and had short, clean cut, blonde hair. He had on a short sleeve black shirt and light blue jeans. He looked around nervously before facing Laura. "Thank God it's you!"
"What's going on?" Laura asked, walking closer.
"Magnus lost what little he had! He started cutting people open for parts!" Jordan exclaimed. "I got away, but I'm not strong enough. Come with me! I know a secret way in."
Tyger looked at the canoe, then at the water in the stream. She took a deep breath and carefully stepped into the small boat, rocking it as little as possible. She nervously sat down behind Jordan and the boy started to row.
After a few minutes, Tyger said something. "I'm kinda surprised you recognized me with the makeup and all." She looked down at the water and quickly looked back up again.
"Your hair gave you away," Jordan replied.
"I'm also surprised you wanted to help me. I used to beat the $h!t out of you."
Jordan chuckled. "Yeah, those were good times."
Tyger suddenly spun Jordan around and stuck her fist under his chin.
"Laura!" Jordan exclaimed, sweating nervously. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Who are you?" Tyger demanded.
"W-what are you talking about?"
"One," Laura said, snapping out the claw on the left, "I'm not naturally blonde and I didn't change it this way until you disappeared. Two," she snapped out the claw on the right, "those were not good times for you! I broke your nose and both arms for picking on Rachel. Wanna go for three?"
"It's me Laura," Jordan said weakly.
"You mean Maggie didn't give you a fancy codename?"
"W-w-well as a matter of fact...."
Jordan drifted off and the water in the stream suddenly rose up out of the stream, forming a wave. Tyger's eyes went wide with horror. She dropped Jordan and retracted her claws. The wave hit her and pulled her under the stream.
Jordan chuckled as he pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and pressed a button on the speed dial. "This is Poseidon," he said when someone picked up on the other end. "The cat has been drowned."
"Excellent," replied Magnus's voice. "Report back for reprogramming."
"Yes, sir," Jordan said. He put the phone away and started to paddle the canoe. However, he didn't get far before a hand came out of the water, grabbing the canoe and rocking it violently. Jordan watched in shock as Tyger pulled herself back aboard, her makeup smeared all over her face. She wrapped her arms around herself and began to tremble.
Poseidon raised the ore like a weapon and softly called out "L-Laura?"
Laura turned around and saw Jordan. She roared, unleashed her claws and ran at Jordan, slashing madly. Her claws sliced through the ore and found their way through his chest. She slashed through his neck, knocking him off the boat. He fell in the water and the water started to turn red.
Laura sat down on the boat and screamed. She retracted her claws and held the side of her head. She took several deep breath, finally calming down.
"Okay," she whispered. "Okay. Okay. Welcome back. Now, I just need to get to land."
She looked at the sliced ore. She then looked at the water. She swallowed, closed her eyes, and splashed herself in the face. She flinched and her face paint smeared more.
"It's just water," she told herself. "It can't hurt you. You took baths and swam all the time when you were a kid."
She cupped her hands, closed her eyes, and forced herself to wash what was left of her makeup off.
"T-t-that wasn't so bad," she said weakly. She then stuck her hands underwater and used them to steer to the small forest. When she got close enough, she jumped out and put as much distance between herself and the stream as possible.
"Now," she said, slowing down to a jog, "I think the secret entrance to the lab is..."
She stopped suddenly and sniffed the air. Her claws snapped out and she carefully scanned the area. Before she could turn in a circle a blast of sonic energy hit her from behind. She rolled around, but before she could get up, she was kicked and punched repeatedly by a cloaked figure. The assault continued until Tyger finally passed out.
Laura slowly opened her eyes and found that she couldn't move. Her eyes went wide as she tried to see where she was. She was in a metallic white room that she recognized as Magnus's lab. She was strapped down to the floor, her arms and legs were extended to the sides in a star shape. She raised her head and saw the cloaked figure off to the side, staring at her. Its jet black cape completely covered its body, except for its head, which wore one of those black hoods that gave the appearance of no face.
"Ah, you're awake," Magnus said as he entered the room, face still covered in shadow. "It took a little longer than I thought it would. Perhaps I overestimated your healing powers."
"Hey, Maggie," Laura said, sneering. "What's the matter? Scared to show your face?"
Magnus chuckled and stepped forward out of the shadows. He was a man of about thirty with long white hair that was tied back in a ponytail. Both of his ears were pierced with a golden earing. He was quite handsome, except for the claw marks that ran up and down his face and that his eyes were completely robotic.
"Do you like my new look?" he asked, running his hand up and down the scars. "I'm not very fond of it, myself. Despite my vast intellect, I could only create eyes that allowed me to see in black and white. I thought I'd let you see it before I killed you."
"And how do you plan to do that?" Laura asked, smirking.
Magnus gestured up. "Above you is a very powerful magnet that I had Erik create for me in exchange for tracking down his 'brotherhood' for him. It should either A, rip the adamantium out through you pores, leaving you healing power shot. Or B, rip your entire skeleton out, killing you rather painfully."
Laura looked up at the giant, circular magnet that was hanging above her ominously. "Well, I'm f*cked. So, what's your evil plan Maggie? You might as well tell me why you've tortured all of us since I have no way of stopping you."
Magnus chuckled. "You always were amusing, Laura. Very well, I'll explain." He started to pace around Laura. "Erik and Charles are the two sides of the same coin. Erik wants mutants to rule over humans while Charles seeks equality between the two. They both seek coexistence. I seek annihilation."
Laura's eyes went wide with horror. "What do you mean?!"
"They believe a war is coming. I know that it is already here! Homo Sapiens against Homo Superiors! And I intend to see us win, by wiping them off the planet! Mutants have been given the power to remake the world, and I have every intention in doing so!"
"By enslaving your own kind?!" Laura screamed. "By brainwashing us and experimenting on us?! Sticking metal in our bones?!"
Magnus sighed sadly. "Alas, hardly any of my students shared my dream..."
"Because you lied to us!! You told us your dream was the same as Chuck's!!"
"...so the brainwashing and surgeries were necessary. Fortunately, some of my students saw the light. I believe you're quite familiar with them..."
The cloaked figure stood up, pushed the cape back to reveal a black costume, and took off the hood. She was a woman of at least twenty with short red hair and an attractive face.
"JEDI?!" Laura cried, shocked. "Re'artha? Is that you?"
"Yeah, that's her, Laura," said a young man as he came into the room. He was the same age as Laura and had short brown hair with a small braid on the side of his head. He was dressed in black jeans and a leather jacket.
"BLASTER?!" Laura looked like she was going to pass out. "Tell me you guys are under mind control..."
"I assure you," Magnus said, "Kal'kreon and his sister are here of their own free will."
"He's lying, right?" Laura asked. "Tell me he's lying..."
"Nope," Blaster replied, shaking his head. "Show her, sis."
Jedi pulled the collar of her costume down slightly and she looked up. There was a horrible scar that seemed to take up her entire neck.
"While she went looking for some of the other students," Blaster explained, "she had a little encounter with the 'Friends of Humanity.' She put up a good fight, but they overpowered her, beat her, and left her for dead. They took her voice, Laura."
"Hypocrites!" Laura screamed. "You always told us not to judge them on the actions of the FoH! You taught EJ tolerance! You..."
"...didn't realize how hateful they really are," Blaster finished.
"You're parents are humans," Laura muttered. "Are you going to kill them, too?"
"I always liked the nicknames your little gang gave these two," Magnus said before Blaster could answer. "They're very appropriate. 'Jedi' is a very powerful telekinetic and, though her telepathic powers are a bit weak now, she has the potential to be more powerful than Charles. She's also one of the most impressive warriors I've ever seen. 'Blaster,' well, the name really speaks for itself. Young Kal'kreon has the power of sound manipulation, from blasts powerful enough to level a building, from soft 'lullabies' to soothe his opponents to sleep."
"Uh, Maggie?" Laura asked. "I know you love the sound of your voice, but I already know all that."
"Very well," Magnus said. "Good-bye, Laura. You would've made a fine general."
Laura raised her hand the best she could and unleashed the middle claw.
Magnus smirked. "Cute. Come, Delila and Blare. We must make our preparations."
"Nice names," Laura muttered as she tried to point both of her middle claws at her former friends.
"Bye, Laura," Blaster said as he left, and turned on the magnet.
Laura groaned in pain. Her claws snapped out against her will and pointed toward the ceiling. She felt her skeleton trying to break through her skin. She felt her skin rip, but sew back up almost instantly.
Okay, she thought, closing her eyes tightly, try to focus through the pain. There are no bonds...
The pain was too great for her to focus her power. "I'm done," she muttered.
Then, to her shock, the magnet shut down.
Magnus, Blare and Delila stalked down a corridor. Suddenly, Delila stopped and looked back to the room where they had left Laura. She pulled her hood back on and ran back to the room.
"Should I go with her?" Blare asked.
"No," Magnus replied bluntly. "She can handle our dear Laura. You should stay in case she fails, however."
"Well, best not look a gift horse in the mouth," Laura muttered after a few seconds of shock. "Ug, I sound like Grandpa! Anyway, clear my mind...there are no bonds..."
She closed her eyes and tried to focus, but was distracted when one of the bonds holding her arm exploded.
"What the f*ck is going on?!" she demanded.
"Shh," Ken commanded as he became visible. He was dressed in a black jump suit and had a long ninja sword in his hand. The sword's scabbard was swung over his shoulder.
"Keep it down!" he whispered. "You don't want Maggie to find that I snuck in here, do ya?"
"Fine," Laura whispered back as she sliced off the other arm restraint and sat up. "But what the hell are you doing here?!"
"Rachel is my friend, too," Ken said coldly. "And so were EJ, Jedi and Blaster. And when the two lovely ladies come gushing with gratitude, I want some....ack!"
Ken started making choking sounds and pulling at his throat like someone was strangling him. After a minute, a snapping sound was heard, and Ken started to fall to the ground.
"KEN!!" Laura cried, slicing off the leg restraints and catching her friend just in time. "Ken?" she called softly as she felt his neck for a pulse. Nothing.
Tears started to form in her eyes. She held Ken's body close and started to cry. She carried on for a few minutes before she noticed Delila standing in the doorway.
"How could you, Jedi?" she sobbed. "The three of us, we used to train together. He gave you pointers for your swordsmanship. You helped him with his algebra! He was your friend, damnit!!"
Delila simply drew a sword from somewhere in her cloak.
Laura was suddenly filled with rage. She laid Ken's body down gently and picked up his sword. "Alright, you sadistic little b*tch!" Laura cried as she went into a battle stance. "Let's go!"
Magnus and Blare entered a circular command room with a large silver chair in the center. An African American boy of 16 was in the room waiting for them.
"Carnage," Magnus said as he sat down in the chair, "take Cyborg and Brimstone and wait for the rest of the X-Men. You are to stall them. Do not kill them under any circumstances. If you do, I'll have your heads on display."
Carnage bowed and walked out of the room.
"Your sending EJ to lead Robo and Mikey?" Blare asked. "Sir, may I ask why you're using members of our old gang?"
"With the exception of you and your sister," Magnus explained, "your group proved to be the most rebellious. Hopefully, this will convince Laura that she must surrender, since she cannot kill her friends."
"Most clever, sir," Blare said, looking towards the door.
Laura screamed as she tried to behead Delila, but the woman in black blocked the move easily. Delila then delivered a kick to Laura's jaw. Laura stumbled back, but recovered. She ran forward and the two exchanged a series of slashes and blocks.
Laura landed a backhanded blow to Delila's jaw. Delila stumbled and fell on her back. Blood started to seep through the "face" of the hood. She touched and looked at it.
"Metal bones," Laura said as she spun Ken's sword and got into another stance.
Delila unclipped her cape, pulled off her faceless mask and tossed them aside. She spun her sword and got into a battle stance as well. The two spent several minutes glaring at each other. Finally, Laura screamed and charged forward. Delila simply spun and kicked Ken's sword out of her hands. Laura watched as the blade landed on the other side of the room. She then quickly spun back to Delila, catching Jedi's sword between her hands.
"Naughty, naughty," Laura whispered as she pushed the sword and kicked Delila away at the same time. Jedi was sent tumbling back, but Laura continued her assault with a series of kicks and punches. To Tyger's surprise, Delila didn't fall. In fact, she flew over Tyger's head, landed behind her, and thrust her sword into Laura's back. The blade went between her ribs.
Laura fell as her former friend pulled the blade out. "How....how many times did I fall for that in our practice sessions?" she asked as Delila came over to her and prepared to slice off her head. When the sword came down, Laura's arm shot up and three separate pieces of the blade fell to the floor.
"Of course," Laura said, grinning at the shocked Jedi through her claws, "I didn't have these babies back then!"
Eyes still wide, Delila looked at the last bit of blade still attached to the hilt and at the approaching Tyger. She quickly tossed the hilt aside and got into a defensive stance. Using her feet and fists, she blocked every slash from Laura's claws. One block only managed to deflect the claws from their true target, leaving a gash on Delila's neck.
Delila leapt away. She pointed to something and then at Laura. Laura screamed as the sword hilt went through her lower right arm. Before Laura could do anything, what was once the point of Delila's sword went through her other lower arm and the other two pieces stuck themselves in her forehead.
Laura fell to her knees. Cursing, she pushed the sword parts out of her arms and pulled the ones out of her forehead. She then quickly threw them all at her opponent while reaching for her staff.
Delila easily deflected the sword pieces, but was unprepared to block the staff as Laura slammed it into her ribs. Delila grabbed the staff and pulled it out of Laura's hands. She then hit Laura up side the head with it. Laura started to fall backwards, but caught herself and flipped back to her feet. She blocked another blow from the staff with her claws and slashed at Delila, scratching her cheek.
Delila froze. She felt her cheek and looked at the blood that rubbed off and onto her hand. She glared at Laura, rage flaming in her eyes. If she had a voice, she would have screamed.
Suddenly, Ken's sword flew off the ground and into Laura's gut, the blade emerging through her back. Laura doubled over, accidently pushing the blade in further.
"You think it's over, don't you?" Laura said through clenched teeth. "You think there's no way I can survive? You know you're wrong." Screaming, she slowly pulled the sword out of her body. The blade was almost died blood red. She gently set it down on the floor next to her.
"Wanna try that again?" Laura asked. "Maybe you can stick it in my head?"
Delila just glared at her.
"Then again, you wouldn't get through my metal bones. You can thank you're boss for that. That is, if I let you live."
Delila looked shocked.
"That's right," Laura said as she trembled to her feet. "I'm gonna kill you. Jedi is already dead as far as I'm concerned. The Jedi I knew would never side with Magnus. The Jedi I knew would never kill her friends. The Jedi I knew would never become you!! So bring it on, you evil b*tch! Your life is on the line!!"
Delila glared at Laura and threw the staff. Laura caught it, collapsed it, pressed another button and extended a chain, creating a pair of nunchakas. She swung the weapon around with deadly skill, ending with one of the clubs under her arm. She extended her hand and gestured for Delila to come forward.
Delila charged forward, jumped into the air, and flew at Laura with her foot extended. Laura simply waited. When Delila was close enough, Laura wrapped the nunchakas around Delila's leg and swung the assassin over her shoulder.
Delila painfully rolled around on the floor before getting up on one knee. She just glared at Laura. Then her eyes started to glow with red light.
Before Laura knew what was happening, she dropped her weapon and unleashed her claws. Suddenly, she drove her right-hand claws into her own neck and her left-hand claws into her gut.
Wincing, gagging and falling back to her knees, Laura tried with all her strength to pull her claws out, but only succeeded in making the wounds worse. Her healing factor closed the wounds around her claws.
Gotta pull out, Laura thought desperately. I must have sliced a windpipe or somethin' 'cause I'm having a hell of a time breathing!
Delila was still glaring at Laura with her glowing red eyes, but she had a sick smile on her face. Laura's vision started to blur.
Laura closed her eyes and stopped struggling. After a few seconds of no sound except for Laura's whistling breathing, her claws slowly came out of her body. The wounds seemed to vanish before the claws left completely and Laura's breathing returned to normal. Eyes still closed, Laura charged toward the shocked Delila. She retracted her claws right before she grabbed Delila's face and pushed her head into a wall. There was a cracking sound and Delila's body fell to the floor.
Laura opened her eyes. The first thing she saw was a dent in the metal wall. Then she saw Delila laying on the floor, her neck at a funny angle.
Laura leaned down and touched her former friend's forehead. "I'm sorry Jedi. Re'artha. Please forgive me."
She picked up Ken's sword and cleaned it the best she could with Jedi's cape. She walked over to Ken's body and carefully removed the scabbard. She put it on her back and put the sword in it. "I'll avenge you, you @$$hole," she said, a tear running down her cheek. She leaned down and kissed him gently on the forehead.
She then walked out the room and followed Magnus's trail.
Storm's eyes opened and she bolted to her feet. "Wake up!" she called.
Cyclops and Jean bolted awake and looked around.
"Where's Laura?" Cyclops demanded.
"She's inside," Jean replied. "She's almost to Magnus's control room."
"Son of a b*tch!" Cyclops said, pounding a computer panel. "Well, let's go."
The three X-Men made it inside the institute with no trouble.
"Almost too easy," Cyclops muttered as he fried the lock to the front door.
Carnage and two boys of about age ten were waiting for them in the main hall. Carnage morphed into a large black creature with a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. One boy's flesh seemed to melt away, revealing a flaming skeleton. The other boy had a mechanical arm that transformed into a laser cannon of some kind.
"Way to jinx it, Scott," Jean muttered.
Laura reached the door to Magnus's control room, only to find Blare standing in front of it, arms across his chest.
"I killed Re'artha, Kal," Laura said bluntly. "I don't want to kill you too, but I will if you don't move."
"What?!" Blare exclaimed, eyes widening and arms uncrossing. "You killed her?! She was your friend!!"
" 'Was' is the key word in that sentence," Laura said, not moving. "And she killed Ken first. You remember Ken, don't you, 'Blare'?"
"Yeah," Blare muttered. "He was my best friend."
"And your sister killed him without provocation."
"Yeah, well," Blare muttered, "YOU KILLED MY SISTER!!"
The outburst was followed by a monstrous sonic blast the cracked the metal wall and sent Laura flying several feet.
"For some reason," Blare muttered as he walked over to the trembling Tyger, "Magnus wants you alive. So, I'll just use one of my lullabies..."
However, to Blare's shock, Laura stood up and looked at him. "You shattered my eardrums," she said calmly before punching Blare in the jaw and then kicking him in the gut. He fell on his back and Laura held him down with her foot.
"I won't kill you, Blaster," She whispered. "This time anyway. I owe Jedi that much. My advice, get out of here and buy yourself a brain." She stomped on his face, knocking him out.
Laura walked up to the door without waiting for her ears to heal. However, they healed at the same time the automatic doors opened, giving Laura a small shock to the system. She walked into the room and found it empty. She saw monitors that displayed the X-Men dueling with Brimstone, Cyborg and Carnage.
"Come out wherever you are, Maggie," Laura called as she snapped out her claws. "Don't tell me you're scared 'cause all your lackeys failed!"
"You are no longer amusing, Laura," Magnus said coldly as he rose into the room on an elevator lift. He was wearing a gray armor with a black cape. In his hands, he held a matching gray helmet with a black visor.
"I was hoping I could take back my adamantium without killing you," he said as he placed the helmet on his head. It covered his face completely except for space around the mouth. "But what's to say I can't extract it from your beaten and broken body!"
He picked up what looked like a long black staff with a knife blade on one end and a spike on the other. Using jets on the armor's boots, he flew into the air.
"Am I supposed to be scared?" Laura asked. "I nearly killed you in our last little scuffle. What's to stop me from finishing the job this time?"
"It's quite simple, actually. You have to be in close range to strike, 'Tyger.' " Magnus raised his armored hand and a blast of yellow energy shot out from the palm. "I doubt you'll be able to get close enough."
Laura barely managed to leap over the blast. She drew a black sphere from her belt and threw it at Magnus, hitting him on the helmet's visor. The ball exploded and wrapped the helmet in some sort of thick webbing. Laura then jumped up and sunk her claws into Magnus's chest. He screamed and hit her with his weapon, sending her crashing back down.
Magnus pulled the webbing off his visor and scanned the holes in the armor. He smiled. "You really didn't think it would be that easy, did you?"
Laura struggled to her feet. "Bite me," she muttered weakly.
Magnus's smile grew. "Ah, you're learning that even you have your limits, aren't you Laura? Even with that wonderful healing power, you're still human. And humans need rest."
Magnus pointed the spike of his staff at Laura as she stood up. The spike fired off and was replaced by another, which also fired. The spikes went through Laura, sent her flying back and impaled her to the wall.
"Tell me, my dear," Magnus said as he landed back to the floor, "why do you hate me so much? We were so close..."
"You know why, chicken $h!t," Laura muttered. "I won't give you the satisfaction of repeating myself."
"Ah yes," Magnus said, smiling. "The lies! My sweet Laura, I've said so many things! I said I worked for human/mutant peace! I said to Charles that I would repay the money he loaned me to found this school! I said I would give that boy a DVD player if he bumped into you that fateful day in shop! I said Rachel's mother died in childbirth! I can't remember the last time I told the whole truth!"
"And you know what's sick?" Laura muttered. "You don't see anything wrong with that."
"There is nothing wrong with telling lies!" Magnus nearly screamed. "Lies are what this pathetic planet is built on!!"
"YOU BASTARD!!!" Rachel screamed as she rocketed into the room. She slammed the shocked Magnus into a wall and then flew over to Laura,
"Are you okay?" Rachel asked as she carefully pulled the spikes out and gently lowered Laura to the floor.
"Fine kid," Laura said weakly, spitting blood out of her mouth. "Just keep him busy long enough for me to get my strength back." Her knees started wobbling and she fell down completely.
Rachel nodded and turned to face Magnus, which looked sort of odd since she was still dressed only in a nightgown.
Magnus used his staff weapon to prop himself back up to his feet. His armor was shooting out sparks. "Rachel?" he called, obviously still in shock. "W-why...?"
"If you don't know," Rachel said coldly, "you're more sick than I imagined."
"Your mind is still clouded," Magnus said, standing up straight. "Let me help you..."
Rachel jetted over and delivered an uppercut to Magnus's jaw. "SHUT UP!!" she screamed as the villain hit the high ceiling and came crashing back down.
"I don't wish to harm you, daughter," Magnus said as he got back up, "but you leave me no choice."
He raised his hand and another yellow power blast shot out. Rachel was hit and sent flying. She corrected herself in midair and headed back toward her father. The only sign that she was hit was a whole burnt into the gown. Magnus fired a hail of blasts, but Rachel ducked and dived with surprising agility and speed. She was about to land another punch when Magnus swung his weapon, actually, cutting a deep wound into Rachel's arm. She screamed in pain and surprise and flew straight up until she hit the ceiling. She looked at the bleeding wound in utter shock.
"What's the matter, Rachel?" Magnus asked with a smug look. "You didn't actually think you were completely invulnerable, did you?"
Rachel just hovered in the air, unable to speak.
Magnus chuckled. "Don't worry, my dear. You'll have time to grasp your mortality. Meanwhile..." He pressed a button on his armor's wrist.
Laura suddenly screamed when the floor beneath her opened and she fell into a tank of water.
"Meanwhile," Magnus continued with a sick grin., "Laura will come to grasp with her hydrophobia."
Rachel screamed and dived toward Magnus. The father readied his blade, but Rachel suddenly turned and then crashed into Magnus's back, sending him flying. Rachel then flew to the tank and felt around the water. She found Laura's thrashing form and pulled Laura out with surprising difficulty.
"Laura!" Rachel cried as her friend struggled in her grip. "Laura! What's wrong?!"
"Not again!" Laura screamed, coughing in between breaths. "Keep the arms away! Don't put more in!!"
Laura's eyes were mad, as if she couldn't see where she was. They started to fill with tears as she sobbed her cries of protest. Her claws ripped out and she swiped them at Rachel.
Rachel, shocked, caught the wild arms. She then lightly slapped Laura in the face. "Snap out of it!" she shouted.
Laura stroked her cheek and slowly retracted her claws. She didn't say anything. She just stared off into space, stroking her cheek.
Rachel glared over at Magnus. The villain was just then getting to his feet.
"What did you do to her?!" Rachel demanded.
"I improved her," Magnus said. "It had to be done."
"Do you love me?" Rachel asked suddenly.
Magnus was obviously caught off guard. "Y-yes. O-of course. You know I do."
"Then why are you doing this? Why did you destroy my only friends?! Why are you trying to destroy everything?!"
"This. Is. War," Magnus said bluntly.
The room was dead silent.
Rachel slowly hovered into the air.
Magnus raised his blade.
Rachel then screamed and dived at her father. She caught the weapon as it came down, pulled it away, snapped it like a twig and threw it aside. She then preceded to deliver a series of rapid fire punches and kicks to the villain. The armor took a lot of punishment, but soon started to crack.
Suddenly, Magnus fought back. He slammed the back of his hand into Rachel's face, sending her away. He then blasted her with a massive energy discharge from his gauntlets. Rachel went flying and didn't stop until she hit the wall. When the onslaught stopped, Rachel slowly slid off the wall onto the floor.
"I'm sorry, Rachel," Magnus said as he powered up another blast. "It's become clear to me that the poison they fed you has no antidote. Good-bye."
The blast hit Rachel, frying what was left of her nightshirt, leaving her in nothing but her undergarments. She struggled to her feet, only to be knocked down by another blast. Her skin was badly burned where the blasts had hit.
"Please," Magnus begged, "just surrender. I don't want to cause you anymore pain than necessary..."
"Too late," Rachel said weakly.
"You're just as stubborn as your mother," Magnus sighed. "It's a pity you have to share the same fate." He opened fire again.
Rachel's eyes went wide as the blast hit her. Suddenly, all the pain she felt was replaced with rage and hate.
"You killed my mother?!" she screamed. "I'll kill you!!"
Faster than the eye could blink, Rachel slammed her fist into Magnus, sending him crashing into a computer terminal. The impact damaged the computer's casing and Magnus was violently electrocuted.
The villain slid down onto his back and didn't move. Rachel flew over and landed next to his immobile form.
Magnus coughed and looked up at his daughter. "Well?" he asked. "Here I am. Helpless to stop you. What are you waiting for?"
Rachel glared down at him for several minutes before turning and flying away.
Magnus chuckled. "I knew it..."
He then fell silent as Laura stood over him and drew Ken's sword. "Hey, Maggie," she growled.
Magnus regained his composure. "Alright, kill me!" he taunted. "But what makes you think that's not what I want?"
"What makes you think I give a flying f*ck what you want?" Laura countered. She smiled. "Might as well drop the act. I can smell your fear." She raised the blade. "Better hope I don't see you in hell. I'll make your stay that much worse!"
Magnus closed his eyes, but opened them when he found he was still alive. He saw Laura putting the sword away. He smiled. "You can't do it!"
"No," Laura said, "it's not that. Ken said he never wanted to use his sword to kill. I intend to respect his wishes. Besides," she raised her hand and snapped out her claws, "I think this would be much more poetic..."
Two days later...
Charles Xavier watched a game of one-on-one basketball from the window in his office. One player constantly passed the ball to himself by teleporting all over the court. However, the second player blocked one pass by stretching his arm to impossible length. He then simply placed the ball into the hoop.
Charles smiled. "Come in, Laura," he said as he turned his chair around to face the door.
Laura slowly walked through the door. She was again dressed in her original clothes "I'm just about to leave," she said softly. "I just wanna say thanks for everything. Especially helping all my friends and old school mates break free."
"They all seem to like it here," Charles said. "Especially Rachel." He paused. "Does she know you're leaving?"
"No," Laura said simply. "I think it's better that way. This is the happiest I've seen her. And I don't belong here, Chuck, so don't try it. I just want to get back on the road and try to find Logan."
Charles held up a file folder. "This is all the information we have on your father," he said. "It's not much, but it should help."
Laura walked over, placed her hand on the folder. Charles then quickly grabbed her other hand. "What are you running from?" he asked.
Laura sighed and sat down on one of the chairs. "Always trying to help, eh Chuck? Well, you're psychic, you tell me."
"You're afraid to face your friends?" he asked. "Why?"
She sighed again. "I guess that's the gist of it. Three of our click are gone. One of them because of me. I didn't even try to find out if any of Jedi was left. I just acted in rage. She had killed Ken, and I didn't even try to forgive her...
"And then there was Jordan!" she continued. "He always was an @$$hole, but he was under Maggie's control! It wasn't his fault, and I gutted him like a fish. Magnus deserved what he got, but not them."
Laura grabbed the folder and opened it. The first thing she noticed was a small photo that fell out. She picked it up. It was a picture of Logan, hugging someone that looked like her mother in front of a bar with the word "lion" in the name.
"They look so happy," Laura sighed. A tear ran down her cheek.
"I didn't know Logan that long," Charles said, "but he didn't seem the type to run away from responsibility. Maybe, there was more to his leaving than your mother told you."
"I know there is," Laura said as she wiped the tear of her face. She put the photo in the folder closed it and headed out the door.
"Bye, Chuck," she said before she left. "Thanks for everything."
Laura took the photo out of the folder, looked at it, and then placed it in her jeans pocket. She stuffed the folder into the bag on the back of her motorcycle. She got on, started it up, and drove towards the exit. She got about half way there before a shadow passed over her.
"Oh-no," she sighed as Rachel landed in front of the bike. Laura stopped inches from crashing and wrecking her ride.
"Leaving without a good-bye?" Rachel asked. "I don't think so."
Laura didn't look up.
Rachel sighed, grabbed the top of Laura's head, and gently made her friend look up. "What's wrong?"
"Don't bother trying to get me to stay," Laura growled.
"Why not? Everything's back to the way it was..."
"No, it isn't. Things will never be the same and you know it."
"Is this about Jedi? Because the guys..."
"Will hate me. Did you know that Jedi and EJ were a couple?"
Rachel looked shocked.
Laura nodded. "They never got the chance to make it official. I saw them making out in the library once. I know what she did was horrible, but I never gave her the chance..."
"Why are you so upset about this? I mean, I thought you hated Ken."
"Actually, me and Ken were a couple, too. Jedi caught us, so we blackmailed each other to be quiet. I know that's not an excuse, but..."
"Okay," Rachel said, "that answers that question. Here's another one: why'd you try to leave without telling me?"
Laura looked at Rachel, then looked away. "I killed your father."
"You're upset about that?!"
"I hated Magnus. Hated him more than humanly possible. But I didn't stop to think about how you felt...."
"Magnus was my father," Rachel said, "and that's the only reason I didn't kill him myself. If it was anyone else, I would've snapped their neck."
Laura stopped her bike, dismounted, and jumped onto Rachel, smothering her in an embrace. Rachel was surprised at first, but she soon hugged back.
"Don't talk like that, Rach," Laura sobbed. "You stay all sweet and innocent. You stay gold, or I'll hurt you!"
"Good luck trying," Rachel said softly.
They broke apart and Laura took the sword in scabbard off from over her shoulder and handed it to Rachel. "Make sure Ken's dad gets this," she said seriously.
Rachel took the sword and nodded. She then handed Laura a silver rod. "I dug this out of the rubble for ya. You might need it."
Laura took her weapon and smiled. "Thanks." She placed it in her jacket pocket and got back on her motorcycle.
"At least come say 'hi' to everyone," Rachel pleaded.
Laura shook her head. "I'm a real mess right now," Laura said. "I'll come back when I get it all back together. Promise."
"You'd better," Rachel said as she started to hover into the air. "I've found you before, I can do it again!"
Laura smiled, started up her bike, and was gone. Rachel watched until she was out of sight before going back to the school.
(To help explain things a little better, and just because I like this sort of thing, I'm including the Xavier files on the main players in this story)
Subject: Hanson, Laura
Powers: Possesses the mutant powers of superhuman senses, agility, healing, and to greatly increase these abilities by "focusing her energy." Adamantium retractable claws and skeleton non-mutant in origin.
Profile: "Laura is so much like her father in some ways and his exact opposite in others. She's brash, savage, and doesn't run away from any confrontation. However, she makes no attempt to hide her feelings for others. It's common knowledge that she would give her life for her friends and family, and if you asked her, she would admit it proudly. However, her temper seems much shorter than Logan's, and she loses control much easier. But I suppose after the literal Hell Magnus put her through, it shouldn't be a surprise. I only pray that she finds the help she needs."
Subject: Magnus, Rachel
Powers: Possesses the mutant powers of superhuman strength, subsonic flight and invulnerability.
Profile: "Rachel is one of the shyest, sweetest girls I have ever had the pleasure of accepting into my school. It's nearly impossible for me to believe that I first met her when she was the cold, unrelenting Enforcer. She is also no doubt the strongest person I know. And I don't mean physical strength (though she'd probably win that category as well). She's been through so much, but she barely flinched through it all. I wish I had a fraction of her emotional might. That would make my dream so much easier to believe."
Subject: Magnus, Richard Luther
Powers: Unknown. Believed to be superhuman intelligence and limited mind control.
Profile: "Magnus has earned my most utter contempt. He tricked us all into believing he shared my dream. He did everything to gain our trust. Setting up a school like my own. Helping me design Cerebro He knows no limits and will do anything to reach his insane ambitions. Even brainwash and try to kill his own daughter! I don't think Laura was right in killing him, but I doubt I'll loose any sleep over the matter."
Subject: Steele, Kenneth
Powers: Possesses the ability to channel unknown energies through his sword and become invisible. Is also a master of several martial arts.
Profile: "Ken was your classic trouble maker. No rule was too important. No punishment was intimidating at all it seemed. He would do everything from sneak into the faculty room for coffee, to break into the computer to change everyone's grades. And when he was caught, he could almost talk his way out of it with this charm of his. No one could stay mad at him for very long. He will be missed dearly."
Professor Xavier rubbed his eyes and then glanced at the clock. One o'clock in the morning. He yawned as he shut down his computer. Writing the other files could wait until tomorrow.
Soon after the Professor had left, someone else came into the room. He held up a robotic arm to the computer and it started to turn itself on. He pointed the same arm and the lights in the room came on. The visitor was ten year old boy named Robert Gates, but he much preferred his nickname of Robo. He possessed the mutant ability to "communicate" with almost any machine.
He sat down in front of the computer and pointed at it with his robotic index finger. A wire came out of the finger and hooked up to the computer and the info he wanted instantly started downloading into his computer-like brain.
He smiled. The arm had been an "improvement" by Magnus, but he loved it. It made his powers all the more fun.
He got all the info he wanted and "asked" the computer to shut down and the lights to turn off. As he headed back to his bed, he looked over the list he had made in his head:
Edward Brownstone, Jr. (Morpheus)
Michael Piginowski (Skullfire)
Robert Gates (Robo)
Rachel Magnus (Amazon)
Laura Hanson (Tyger)
He frowned. It was rather short. And there was no guarantee the others will go along with it (it was almost a guarantee though). They would also need to track Laura down again. Plus the Professor may not like the idea...
"I'll worry about that later," he muttered to himself. "What I need now is a name."
He thought about it the rest of the way, finally coming up with a name just as he reached the door to his room.
He smiled. The name was a bit lame, but he liked it. He was only ten after all. So he added the name to the top of his "brain document" as he climbed back in bed.
Special thanks to my friends JEDI and Blaster and my brother. Not only did they agree to let me use them as villains, but they were okay when I told them what was going to happen to their "story selves."
And a big, big, BIG thanks to my good friend Ayanna Wildfire, who helped me name this story after it going over a year without one.