Warnings: Cussing. I cuss. Too bad, so sad.
Thanks to those who reviewed. Glad y'all are enjoying the story still, and for letting me know you enjoyed it.
And probably just kidding about that one more chapter and epilogue. Most likely there will be two to possibly three more chapters. Ha…
Retrieval of Self: Chapter 12
Kurt sagged down on Hank's back, barely even holding on and more just letting himself be carried. He had lasted this long on adrenaline, but now that was starting to peter out. All he wanted to do was close his eyes and block out the blaring alarm. Each warning blast reverberated in his head, drawing attention to every small and not too small ache.
He somewhat regretted teleporting earlier with Evan. If he thought his pain and the constant heat before was bad, it now felt like a swarm of ants that were literally on fire were crawling up his throat. He could just imagine them now swarming out and all over Hank and him, creating a strange fireball of blue, burning fur.
In fact, even now he could feel an ant in the back of his throat, tickling and burning. If he let it out, would a fireball come out of his throat? What if that was another manifestation of Falk's serum? Would he be like a new fangled Kaiju – blue, furry and adorably terrifying?
He struggled a few seconds against the urge to cough, but any resistance was futile. Not able to hold back any longer, Kurt buried his head in the back of Hank's neck and coughed hard. Leaning back, Kurt rubbed at his throat, feeling like he had just swallowed a jar of razor blades that had cozied up to a camp fire. As he looked back down, he was dismayed to see blood splattered on Hank's nape.
He stared, frightened by the prospect that even if Hank was able to concoct some miracle to reverse the serum, it would be too late.
He really didn't want to die. No matter how light of his situation he tried to make, the idea of dying – it was terrifying.
Kurt jumped at the Professor's voice in his head. Ja?
We've been calling to you. Is everything alright?
Kurt tore his gaze away from Hank's back to see that they had stopped at an intersection. Scott and the Professor were both looking at him while Hank tried to peer over his shoulder.
"Sorry, I must've been daydreaming." Kurt knew it was a stupid excuse, and saw the Professor scrutinize him closer.
"Mm," the Professor replied noncommittally. "Well, it seems we're in need of further guidance. Which way is the lab?"
Gathering his bearings, Kurt thought for a moment, before pointing down the right hallway. "This way, the 2nd door on the right."
Luckily, the door to the lab was unlocked. With a flick from Scott, the lights hummed on.
It looked just like it did when Kurt had teleported out of there what seemed liked ages ago. Hank backed up to the silver examination table and slowly let Kurt down off his back.
Closing the door behind the Professor, Scott let out a sigh. "Man, we were lucky not running into anyone. I thought for sure we would."
"Agreed." The Professor looked Scott over. "How is your leg holding up?"
"A little sore, but it's fine for now."
Kurt didn't notice the Professor turn towards him or the worried gaze that spread across his face. He was too busy debating whether he should lie down and enjoy the cool relief of the metal or spring off in disgust.
"Revolting," the Professor remarked as he examined one of the restraints attached to the table. Kurt quickly glanced away, not wanting to revisit the memories of having said restraints employed against him. He was already uncomfortable enough as it was, sitting on the table where he was handled, stroked, prodded, injected - degraded to nothing more than a unique specimen.
"Hey," Kurt looked up, almost having forgotten about Scott. "Let's just find the right serum then jet out this creepy joint." Scott's smile was a little shaky, but Kurt appreciated the effort.
"There are numerous vials of serum on this desk." Hank stood across the room, looking down at a desk that held all of Falk's decoctions, his research notes and his computer. He held up one of the vials. "X-f-b-3-1-0," he read out loud. Picking up another, he again read, "X-f-b-3-1-1."
Turning around, Hank looked at Kurt. "Do you recognize this labeling?"
Kurt wasn't paying any attention. He was trying very hard to resist another urge to cough. He didn't want everyone to see in case he coughed blood again.
Kurt, I know you are not feeling well. But we need you to focus and help us so we, in return, can help you. Do you think you can try?
Kurt nodded and sat up a little straighter. He cleared his throat, tasting blood, before responding. "Was? What was the question?"
"Do you recognize this X-f-b serum?" Hank repeated.
Kurt hesitated. "I-I think so. I vaguely remember Falk mentioning some series of serum. Let me thi- no wait, ja, that's it. Xfb. I remember cause I pretended it stood for X-treme fart bolstering."
Hank paused for a moment. "Yes, um well, statistically speaking, that is most likely not what the initialism represents, but imaginative, nonetheless."
"You are one weird dude, Kurt," Scott incredulously laughed.
Kurt shrugged lethargically before turning back to Hank. "Falk was trying out different runs in that Xfb series before he used the last one."
"What was the last one called?" The Professor had joined Hank at the research desk, and was leafing through some of Falk's notes.
"I don't think he said. But I remember it looked somewhat different than the others. Instead of being clear, it was ochre."
"Ochre?" Scott questioned.
"An earthy pigment." Hank answered dismissively. "Hmm, not in this collection of vials. Perhaps…" Hank mumbled to himself as he perused the serums.
"Ochre?" Scott questioned again but this time directed towards Kurt.
"Learned it from the school musical."
Scott just shook his head. Sometimes, despite it being his second language, it felt like Kurt had a larger vocabulary than him.
Kurt felt like he couldn't hold back his cough anymore. Turning his head to the side, he tried to suppress it and let out only one small cough, but this action only made it worse. He ended up doubling over as he leaned to the right, wracked by several strong, painful coughs. As he sat back up, he saw that once again he had left blood behind.
"Kurt," Scott gasped.
"Eureka. I believe I've located the correct vial." Hank held up a mostly empty vial but for a few drops of orange-ish liquid at the bottom. "X-f-e-1-0-0." Hank turned and walked towards Kurt. "You said he zealously used the majority of the serum on you, correct?"
"Ja." Kurt replied, ignoring Scott's dismay. He took the offered vial and examined it himself. "It looks like it."
"I wish we had more to work with, but this will have to suffice. You hold on to that while I look through the rest of Falk's notes to determine if we can attain anything else useful." Hank headed back to where the Professor had already set aside a few pertinent documents for Hank to review.
Scott immediately turned towards Kurt. "You're getting worse."
Kurt sighed as he studied the near empty vial in his hands. "I know."
Scott stuttered for a moment, at a loss at what he could do, before slumping down next to Kurt on the table. "The Professor and Hank, they'll find something."
Kurt smiled at Scott's relentless optimism and leaned against him. "Yeah." He decided not to voice his doubts.
Logan marched Falk through the corridors with Rogue and Spyke exchanging glances periodically behind. The silence was tense, broken up only by the reverberating klaxon. Neither wanted to be the one to cut the string that was holding the tenuous peace.
When they had inevitably come across a group of guards, Falk had ordered them to kill the alarm and to retire for the day. Only after the guards had retreated did Logan retract his claws that were jutting into Falk's back.
Soon, the alarm and flashing lights ceded their grip to the customary tranquility of the hallways. Only their footsteps and nervous breathing resounded down the corridors.
Rogue and Spyke almost jumped out of their skins at the sound of Falk's voice, but Logan remained collected.
"That hallway leads to the labs."
Never facing away from Falk, Logan barked his orders. "Rogue, Spyke – you two go find Storm and the others. Tell them what's going on, and help them destroy the rest of this hell hole."
"But how are we supposed to find them?" Rogue asked.
"I hear them down off that way." Logan pointed to his left. "Shouldn't be too far. Call out to Jean if you can't find them soon."
"Alright," Rogue hesitated. She really wanted to come and make sure that Kurt was going to be alright. "Guess the Professor will be in contact?"
"Right." Realizing his gruff demeanor was putting his students on edge, Logan decided to ease up. "I'll be sure to keep you updated. Now go."
After the two had left, Logan focused his attention back on Falk. "Once we get in that lab, one wrong move from you, and I won't hesitate."
"I believe you've made that perfectly clear. Shall we get going?"
Logan snarled at the snide tone in Falk's voice, but pushed him on.
Upon entering the lab, Logan had 4 pairs of eyes turn his way.
The Professor had his hands poised above a keyboard to a computer and beside him Hank was clutching some important looking documents in his hands.
Scott had jumped off a table in the middle of the room and had his hand up to his visor, ready to blast away any unwanted intruder. Kurt remained perched on the table, looking weary and exhausted until his eyes alighted upon Falk. His whole demeanor changed to one of tense and panicked.
Logan regretted having to subject Kurt to Falk again, but there was no choice.
"Logan, and Dr. Falk, I presume?" The Professor didn't wait for an answer. "Why would you bring this man back here… to us?"
"Sorry, Chuck, but seems like Falk here might have a way to help out the Elf."
"That is precisely what I am attempting, Logan." Hank gestured towards the notes sprawled across the desk in semi-organized piles.
"I don't doubt ya, Hank, but it'll take time for you to figure out how to engineer a cure. Falk says that he already has one."
"Oh?" Hank looked intrigued.
"You are also a specimen I would not mind collecting." Falk said as he observed Hank. "But it seems my favorite specimen has done so well under my own administrations already." Falk looked hungrily at Kurt, who clenched his grip on the edge of the table.
Not liking Falk's tone or the way Kurt looked so close to teleporting away, Logan shoved Falk forward to remind him of his menacing presence. "Tell them. Now."
"Some people just don't appreciate my efforts," Falk said as he straightened his lab coat. He sighed before continuing. "For each serum series I develop, I simultaneously develop an antidote, if you will."
"That seems like a lot of work," the Professor said.
"It is, but necessary. As you can see some mutants," Falk gestured back to Wolverine, "can be hard to handle, particularly after being bestowed enhancements. I wanted a safety net – to reverse any mutant who became too powerful to handle."
"And now you propose to use this antidote on Kurt?"
"Yes. He is after all my most treasured specimen, and I don't want to see him suffer from my impulsive actions." Falk started moving a little closer to Kurt, but Logan pulled him back while Scott moved to block his way. "And, of course, I have my own interest in not being ruthlessly skewed by your Wolverine."
"This antidote will reverse all effects that the serum had?"
"Perhaps not all. The serum was relatively new and untested, and the dose administered was highly unusual. But it should be enough to reverse the most damaging components. A pity. I would've loved to have studied its effects up close."
Logan growled and spun Falk around. "I've had enough of your endless commentary. I should've just run you through when I had the chance."
"Logan!" The Professor called out. "While I appreciate your defense of Kurt, right now we need Falk unharmed."
"Fine." Logan let go of Falk and took a few steps back in case his anger took a hold of him again.
"Hank? What do you recommend?"
"If I can verify Falk's claims –"
"You can," Falk interjected but was ignored.
"then I would presume it to be the wisest course of action. Once we observe the effects of the antidote, I may be able to produce a more potent antidote that could completely reverse all the alterations the serum imposed."
"Falk, you can prove then that your antidote will work?"
"Of course, but only if my safety is guaranteed. I want to be unscathed and dropped off in Brisbane."
"Done. I assure you, no one I am in charge of will hurt you."
Logan and Scott almost seemed to come unglued. Kurt seemed like he had been sucker punched and if it weren't for the collar still around his neck, Charles might have thought he was going to teleport as far away as possible.
"Charles, I'm not sure if letting Falk go would be the –" Hank began.
The Professor stayed them all with a raise of his hand.
Seeing the mutants obey Professor X, Falk felt reassured. "Nor yourself," Falk clarified.
"Nor myself," the Professor agreed. Mentally he sent out a message to Logan, Scott, Kurt and Hank allaying their fears and communicating that Falk would be dealt with to make sure no other mutant would come to harm under his care. The Professor gestured to the desk and notes that Hank and he had been poring over. "Now then if you please."
Wolverine figured Hank would ensure that Falk's antidote would function as he said. As Chuck and Hank huddled around the desk, Logan made his way over to Kurt and Scott. Kurt, frankly, looked like one small tap would send him flying apart.
"Sorry to have to subject you to Falk again, but he's our best shot."
Kurt barely looked up before his gaze traveled back over to Falk. Logan could read the trepidation that was clearly radiating off of him.
As Logan glanced down, he spied spots of blood on the table. Sensing Logan's penetrating stare, Kurt followed Logan's gaze to the blood and then sheepishly meet his eyes.
Logan's eyes had a hardness about them that spoke volumes. Seeing Kurt cringe away, he tried to wrangle in his anger.
"I'm not angry with you, Elf. I just hope whatever the Professor has in store for him hurts like hell."
"What do you think the Professor's going to do?" Scott asked.
Logan shared a meaningful look with Kurt before turning to Scott. "Charles is usually the one trying to resolve things peacefully, but this time," Logan paused and looked over to study the Professor's back, "I'm not quite sure he'll take the higher ground. Not that I'd argue with that." Logan cast a gelid stare at Falk that practically dropped the temperature a few degrees. "We still gotta keep an eye on him."
They waited with only the low tones of Hank's questioning filling the silence. Logan worriedly drummed his fingers on his crossed arms. He felt his heart skip a beat when Hank's loud pronouncement disturbed the tense air.
"While I would prefer to further study the data, it seems that the antidote should be efficacious. I believe the best recourse is to administer it now to prevent any irreparable damage."
Kurt shifted nervously at the words 'irreparable damage.'
"I concur," Falk said. "My specimen's condition is worrisome, and the quicker we inject the Xfe antidote, the less we risk. My antidotes are stored just down the hall in another lab."
"Wolverine, please accompany Hank and Falk," the Professor ordered.
Logan nodded, sticking close to Falk to make sure he didn't try anything.
Scott didn't like waiting, but there wasn't really anything else he could do. Whatever was in Falk's notes would be way too advanced for him to understand, so he left the Professor to the task of sorting them. He didn't have anything to say to Kurt except simple platitudes that would do nothing to bolster his spirits. Kurt didn't seem to be one for conversation right now anyway. All Scott could do was watch Kurt try and hold back a few more coughs while he stood there like a useless lump on a log.
Luckily, the torturous wait wasn't a drawn out affair. At the sound of the door, Scott quickly had his beam ready, but dropped his hand again when Hank and the others entered.
Surprisingly, locating and gathering the antidote occurred without any instances. Clutched in Hank's hand was a pinkish liquid encapsulated in a vial. Falk led the way to a drawer in the built-in cabinets alongside the desk and withdrew a syringe.
"So is that it?" Scott asked Logan who had rejoined him and Kurt at the table.
"Seem so. Had to wait for Hank to briefly examine a drop but seems good. Not much of it, though."
"Couldn't it have come in an easy to swallow pill form?" Kurt groaned as he watched Falk fill up the syringe. "Dr. McCoy will be the one to give me that, right?"
"Ain't no way I'd let Falk inject that into you," Logan assured.
Kurt still fidgeted nervously as Falk and Hank approached the table. Logan moved to block Falk's path from encroaching any closer.
"I don't want you even close to him."
Falk disparagingly rolled his eyes at Logan and handed off the syringe to Hank. Hank moved next to Kurt, holding the needle down near his side to assuage Kurt's anxiety.
"As a precaution, I would advise you to lie down," Hank said in a steady tone. He wanted to impart a sense of calmness to not just Kurt but the whole group. He had done his best to quickly assess the antidote, and was confident in his analysis that the liquid should help reverse some of the effects of the ailments. Just looking at Kurt now, he knew it was the right decision to expedite the plan. Hank feared the worse if they delayed any longer.
However, the side effects of the antidote were indeterminate. All Falk had said was -
"I'd take his advice. This will probably not be very comfortable." Falk finished Hank's thoughts.
Kurt looked back at the table and then at the syringe in Hank's hand. With a resigned, shaky sigh, he lowered himself supine on the table, carefully making sure his hands and feet didn't brush up against the restraints that were hanging innocuously off the sides.
A weight pressed down on the room as only the murmuring of Hank directing Kurt to lay his forearm facing up and the nervous exhalation of everyone filled the silence.
The needle was injected soundlessly.
Kurt nodded curtly. He tensely lay on the table, awaiting the alluded discomfort that was sure to follow.
Storm? Professor Xavier directed his attention on his other team that was still in the midst of action.
We've run through the facility and destroyed most everything we've come across.
Excellent. Any more trouble with the guards?
We haven't run across any in awhile. I think we've scared them off. But we need to return to the X-jet. Jean seems to be barely holding up.
A small shout of pain distracted the Professor from the conversation. Kurt was curling into a fetal position, hands clutching at his chest as Hank bent over him concerned. Whatever question Hank asked, Kurt shook his head in a small negative gesture in response.
Agreed. Let's rendezvous at the cells and travel together from there.
Alright. See you there.
Professor Xavier redirected his attention back to the room. Scott was now the one leaning in front of Kurt, hesitatingly placing a comforting hand on his shoulder as Kurt writhed in suppressed pain. Logan looked about two seconds from throttling Falk. Hank had returned to the desk and seemed to be backing up files on his flashdrive while also shuffling through and separating papers into two piles.
"We are leaving to meet up with the others at the cells before returning to the X-jet. I think we've spent enough time here, and I'd like to leave before the men from the mansion realize their mistake."
"Indubitably, they are already aware of our absence and are en route," Hank said.
"Even more reason for us to leave now. Logan, you escort Falk. I will take Kurt."
"But Professor! –"
"Charles, I'm not assured-"
The Professor waved off Scott and Hank before they could make their arguments. "I don't believe Kurt will be as easy to carry this time around. Scott, you've been favoring your injured leg and might need support yourself. And Hank will be leading us back as he's our best shot at retracing our path."
"I believe I can," Hank nodded. He moved over to scoop Kurt up. "How're you holding up?"
Kurt merely shook his head in response and clenched his teeth while burying his head in Hank's shoulder.
The Professor looked up worriedly at Hank as he accepted Kurt into his lap.
"This will pass," Hank said to relieve the concerns of everyone in the room. "The antidote is reversing the effects of the serum, but unfortunately seems to have an unpleasant side effect."
"Most likely complications of the overdose," Falk added.
The Professor hoped so. Kurt's right arm was clutching the Professor's shoulder, squeezing with every painful burst while his left arm was still clenched in a fist near his chest. Kurt's tail had unconsciously wrapped round the Professor's leg and was constricting in time with his right arm. Though he couldn't feel it, the Professor knew that his leg was going to have a strange pattern of bruises later.
"Hank, if you will."
With that as his cue, Hank gathered the pertinent documents and flashdrive. He slowly opened the door and peered down the hallways. Seeing no one, he gestured for the others to join him. They swiftly made their way towards reuniting with the others.
Not long after they had arrived at the cells, the north doorway opened and in walked Storm who was supporting a frazzled-looking Jean. The other students seemed to have fared better, though the Professor could also see signs of exhaustion tracing their faces.
His own charges didn't seem to be doing any better either. Kurt was still clutching to him, though not as tightly as before while Scott's limping had increased.
"Storm, is everything ok?" he asked.
"Yes, Jean was just stretched too thin already and seems to have overexerted herself. And Kurt?"
The Professor turned towards everyone, seeing the concern shared on all their faces. "He's been administered the antidote, which though has some downsides, will hopefully reverse any ill effects." Seeing how the other students wanted to voice their concerns, he held up a hand. "Once we leave this place, we can discuss any questions you all have. For now, we must leave before the other men return."
Seeing Falk for the first time, Storm turned a questioning gaze to the Professor. "And him?"
"Dr. Falk will be our prisoner for now. As I said any questions can be answered later. Now Spyke," the Professor said, "I need you to help support Scott."
"Right," Evan returned and went over to help support Scott who had been leaning against the wall while favoring his leg.
"Hank, please lead the way."
With that, Hank continued retracing their path down the winding halls. Professor Xavier was confident in Hank's ability to return them to the X-jet and focused all his attention on scanning the halls for the return of the guards.
As he reached out with his telepathy, he observed his students supporting each other, protecting each – giving each other so much. He regretted forcing his students through such an arduous task so soon after all the troubles they had faced. But sometimes necessity takes precedence over compassion. However, he was overwhelmed with pride at how well the students had performed.
After fifteen minutes of only several times having to backtrack to find the right path, Hank announced they were only a few hallways away from the garage and the X-jet.
Charles began to fully concentrate on looking for signs of the guards, but was distracted by feeling Kurt ease his grip and slowly relax. He glanced down. "Feeling better?"
Kurt slowly unclenched his eyes - still a bright, glowing gold; the Professor hoped that the antidote was working internally. "Ja. A little," Kurt responded. Just then, he seemed to realize the position of his tail and hand, so closely wrapped around his mentor. The Professor knew that if Kurt could flush with embarrassment, he'd be a bright red.
"Sorry, I-" Kurt quickly unwrapped his tail and tried to jerk away.
"It is fine." The Professor pulled Kurt back. "If you pull away, you'll fall off. We're almost at the X-jet."
Before he could respond, Kurt suddenly clenched again in pain and found himself clinging to the Professor. After a minute or two had passed, he slowly began to relax again.
The Professor looked on with concern. "You'll feel better when you're back in your own –" he broke off, looking up suddenly and coming to a sudden stop right before the turn into the garage.
Logan roughly grabbed hold of Falk, pulling him to a stop along with everyone else. They all waited in nervous silence as the Professor seemed to concentrate. After an eternal minute, he continued.
The guards from the mansion have returned. They've all recuperated from their disorganization and have prepared an ambush surrounding the X-jet.
Rogue felt her breath quicken and clenched her hands into fists.
However, the Professor's voice grew full of gravitas, if they think this camisado will work, they are gravely mistaken. We are here. All together. As a team, nothing can stop us.
Jean found herself nodding along with the others, drawing courage from the Professor's words.
In absolute stillness, the Professor mentally assigned orders, directing everyone to a vital role that would ensure their escape.
Hank, I'll need you to take Kurt. I'm the least mobile, and thus the most vulnerable.
I can stand, Professor. I'm doing better than I thought. Kurt's 'voice' was feeble and thick with his accent, though he did his best to suppress any shakiness.
While admirable, you are not up to making a mad dash towards the X-jet.
Professor Xavier is correct. I can easily carry you and together we will arrive at our destination unscathed.
Kurt sighed but ultimately knew that Professor X and Hank were right. As Hank picked him up, he began to feel nauseous and dizzy. A shot of pain, centered around his chest and radiating outwards, accompanied the movement. Once settled in Hank's arms, the pain slowly receded, though the nausea and dizziness decided to remain as unwelcome guests. He felt slightly silly at trying to protest his baggage state when it was obvious he could barely even think. He just hated telegraphing his vulnerability and uselessness.
After a few more directions mentally arranged, the Professor turned towards everyone.. We are ready. As a team then. Storm, if you will.
With that, Storm swept her hands out as her eyes began to be obscured with a frightening solid white. Dense, thick fog proceeded to cover the area, flowing rapidly out from the hall to the ruined garage, extending all around the X-jet just beyond.
When cover was sufficient to conceal them, they set off silently. Logan had his claws extended towards Falk's throat and a glimmer in his eye that promised swift action should he make a sound.
At first, their journey progressed smoothly. Though they were just as blinded by the fog as the guards, it was mostly a straight shot to the X-jet. Charles could only hope they didn't veer too far off course.
Their luck didn't hold.
"This fog's unnatural! Shoot into it!"
At the sound of the commanding voice, Professor X mentally urged everyone to run and follow through on their instructions.
Spyke and Rogue, already covered in bone armor, were throwing spikes towards the source of the tranquillizers. They didn't stay in one spot, constantly darting away so their own trajectory couldn't be traced back to them.
Bringing up the rear, Storm had had her hands full with maintaining the fog and sending out small whirlwinds that would knock away any darts on a path to herself or Professor X.
Out front, Jean and Scott were mutually supporting each other, trying to remain ahead of the group and keeping an eye out for the X-jet. Scott's limp was more pronounced, but he wasn't going to let it slow him down now. He wished he could use his powers, but knew that his laser beam would be an easy target, especially with him and Jean not being able to dart away.
Luckily, Scott's powers weren't needed just yet. The renewed combat had sent a surge of adrenaline through Jean. Any time a tranquillizer dart headed their way, she deflected it with a small burst of telekinesis. She didn't have the power to bring any to a full stop.
Suddenly, Jean felt herself "fade" and watched as a dart flew through her chest. Surprised, Jean turned. Kitty smiled and removed her hand, letting Jean phase back.
"Got your back!"
"Shadowcat!" Scott shouted before Kitty could run off to help someone else out. "Do you think you could phase all three of us for a minute or two?"
Determined to help out and to show Rogue that she wasn't just one to run away, Kitty nodded resolutely.
"Alright, you ready?"
"Whenever you are." Kitty put her hand back on Jean and placed a hand on Scott's upper arm.
"Here it goes." With that, Scott directed his gaze towards where he figured the tree tops above the men would be and let loose a blast from his eyes. A crashing of branches and yells followed.
"Quick!" Scott picked up the pace as best as he could, his legging throbbing in pain.
Kitty exerted all her effort as she phased all three of them, a bombardment of darts flying through them as the uninjured men retaliated.
The barrage was unrelenting. Now that the men had obtained some idea of their location, they weren't going to let up.
"Oh man, what did I do?" Scott moaned as they began hurtling down the path.
"I'm not sure how much longer I can keep us all phased!" Kitty was tightly gripping their arms now, fingernails digging into flesh.
Rogue's shout almost caused Jean to stop and turn around, but the others' speed wouldn't let her break away.
Hearing Rogue's distress and making out the collapsed form of Spyke, there was only one option for Hank. He jogged back to the Professor, bringing them to a halt.
Shaking his head, the Professor held his arms out. "Pass him to me. I should have thought that someone might get shot and you would need –"
"Charles, hindsight is 20/20. Now is not the time." Hank, as gently and quickly as he could, passed Kurt to the Professor. Kurt shuddered in response to the movement and leaned heavily against the Professor.
With that, Hank sprinted off and ran up to where Rogue had stooped down next to an unconscious Evan. A dart had caught him just right where his bone armor created vulnerable, exposed joints. "Keep running, I have him."
By the time Hank had scooped Evan up, he had fallen slightly behind the others but was still quite ahead of Storm and Professor X. The fog was starting to lift some, and he could see vague outlines of the three students running at the front and Logan practically dragging Falk with him at a relentless pace.
Professor X looked down, surprised to see that Kurt was even conscious.
"We're running off path. The X-jet is just a bit to our right," Kurt said, pointing in the direction they needed to go.
Scott, you're off course. Towards your right, about 35 degrees.
Upon hearing Kurt, Storm started gathering up the winds into one giant vortex. Leaves, sticks and fog began to swirl all around her, creating an imposing whirlwind.
"Here! Open her up!" Scott's voice carried immense relief. The X-jet loomed out of the fog - her grey wings like open arms.
The Professor used the key fob as he heard darts ricocheting off the X-jet's sides. It didn't take long for him and the rest to arrive at the ramp.
Hank darted inside, wanting to deposit Evan into a seat and to help Scott with starting up the jet.
"Professor, go. I have one last surprise in store for these scum." Storm's mini-whirlwind had now transformed into a ferocious tornado. The last one on the ramp, Storm turned around and faced the path they had just fled down. With one dark glance, she extended her hand and pointed towards where the men were likely cowering. The tornado destroyed anything in its path, but Storm didn't watch.
She simply turned around and boarded the X-jet as the ramp closed behind her.
This felt like a difficult chapter to write. The pacing and balance between angst and science stuff to action and fighting was difficult. But I didn't want to separate the two scenes into different chapters as that didn't feel right either.
Thank you to those who do review. You help me stay motivated, especially when I'm on this shaky ground where I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen next.
Thanks for reading and please review.