Back to the Way Things Were

He couldn't quite recall when it started. Perhaps it began when the doors to the underground complex clanged shut behind him. Maybe it was when he boarded his second flight or earlier on his first. Or maybe it started before he even reached the O'Hare airport. He didn't know and it didn't really matter anyway. All that mattered was that it happened.

Somehow, some way, he was slipping away. Where he was slipping really wasn't important. All that was important was that he was slowly but surely going away, away to somewhere sheltered, somewhere safe. Here, where ever 'here' was, no one could touch him, no one could hurt him, and that was good. In this strange place that he could not name he felt nothing and if he could feel nothing he had no fear.

He was almost there completely by the time the soldiers that were escorting him led him into the General's office. There, sitting behind the old oak desk, was the silver-haired General Arnold S. Grün. He sat there in his dress uniform decorated with many colored ribbons and shiny medals reading some report out of a manila folder. Numbly, he brought himself to attention and waited as more and more of him drained away, like the sand rushing down to the bottom of an hourglass. Then he was noticed.

"Ah, DX-0, you've finally made it back. So how did things go?" The General asked pleasantly, but he wasn't fooled. He knew better than to speak his mind. Such answers warranted punishment.

"The mission was successful sir." He replied emotionlessly.

"So I have read, but did you enjoy yourself while you were away?" The General pressed lightly, his expression still open and friendly.

"It was fine sir." He replied tonelessly.

"Did you buy any souvenirs or go sight-seeing?" Grün asked with perhaps and edge of desperation to his voice.

"No sir." Was his response.

"Did you do anything outside of your mission at all?" The General sighed, suddenly looking much older.

"No sir." He replied in the usual calm monotone.

"Alright, alright." The General sighed. The older man tiredly studied the papers in the folder on his desk before he came to some decision. "Go on; follow Juli back to your quarters."

"Yes sir." He replied and turned stiffly to follow the cold muscular woman out of the office.

As he walked after the silent woman down the corridors something in him tried desperately to rebel. On the outside he looked the same as he always did. Eyes forward and barely focused, gait smooth and controlled, and face totally blanked of all expression and emotion. But inside, inside he was striking out at the gray concrete that had turned to the mist that dissolved him.

He shouldn't slip away. He shouldn't disappear quietly. He shouldn't forget. Maybe things were different now. General Schwarzbaum, the monster that haunted his every motion, was gone now. He was gone forever and maybe General Grün was different. Maybe they would let him be himself. Maybe he would find some friends, real friends, among his fellow Mutants here. Maybe it would be better.

But in the end he couldn't win against himself, against his fear. As he reached his cell and was locked inside, all the internal turmoil had been resolved. Juli silently snarled at him, but he didn't react. She appeared to be infuriated and slammed the door in his face. It didn't bother him though; very soon nothing would bother him. He seated himself on his simple cot, stared at the wall, and his loss of self continued.

By the time an hour had passed, there was nothing left. Gone were emotions. Gone were feelings. Gone were unnecessary thoughts. Gone was his personality. Gone were all of his un-needed memories. Gone was his identity. Gone was everything that made him unique.

Kurt Wagner was no more.

There is only DX-0.

- END -