"Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it." – Terry Pratchett




It's an easy thing to lose track of time when you're trapped in darkness.

The boy looked around the dimly lit room through the rusting bars of his cell. The view of other mutants huddled in fear was a bleak and uncomforting one, so his eyes drifted towards the far end of the room where he knew the door to be. The door may have led out of the room but it was no exit. It led to the examination room. As if the horrible experiments they exacted upon mutants could be euphemized into a thing as harmless as a doctor's visit by merely using a different word.

He had scanned this room many times for hours on end, and from what he could see from his vantage point behind bars, it was the only way out of here. No, that way was too dangerous. Further into the belly of the beast, he thought bitterly. There had to be another way to escape.

How long had it been since they'd taken him? He thought briefly on the mutants who'd attacked his family's caravan. They'd come in the night and as he'd heard the screams, he held his crying twin sister in his arms. He would lead them away from here, double back, and return to her faster than they could follow. That had been the plan.

So he'd gone out to face them, got their attention, and began to run. Things from that point did not go according to plan. Instead the one dressed as a cowboy had teleported right in front of him and punched him in gut, knocking all the wind out of him in one blow. He'd practically run right into the strike before being thrown to the uncompromising blob of a man who had held him down. He'd been sure they were going to kill him, especially the one with the claws. The beastly man approached him as he lay sprawled in the dirt with an untold weight pinning him there, toothy grin revealing his pronounced fangs and he sniffed at the boy. He could only shudder as that clawed hand reached toward his neck before a voice had called out: "Vic!"

That voice was the only reason he was alive, alive to be brought here for some terrible purpose. He had lost count of the days after about a month and a half in this Hell. How long had he been here? It bothered him that he really couldn't say. His thoughts went to his family and he hoped they were all right. It was at least some comfort to him that he'd yet to see his sister Wanda in this place. If they ever got their greedy hands on her…

He gritted his teeth, suppressing any kind of verbal outburst. He didn't want to give his captors the satisfaction. Still, he hated this: hated waiting in darkness for the "doctors" to come for him while he was strapped down in a cell, hated the angry shouts and soft sobs that drifted to his ears from all around him, hated the predictable repetition of being held prisoner in a war of which an old mutant claiming to be his biological father had once tried to warn him. Above, all he hated the horrible, oppressive stagnancy.

That was what bothered him most: not that he'd been stupid enough to get caught, not that he'd been dragged away from his adopted father's home and the warm presence of his sister, but that he could barely move. He wanted to run. The ability to move fast was ingrained into his every muscle. Being trapped here, fastened by thick straps to the bars of his cell, was torture. He tapped his bare foot impatiently, trying to ignore the futile urge to burst into a sprint. His thoughts returned to escape.

He had an idea so he turned his head to the right to stare at the strap holding his wrist. His eyes narrowed in concentration as he focused on the object. He closed his eyes. He felt the weight of the straps against his skin, most likely vinyl and leather, solid enough to keep him immobile. He attempted deliberately forcing his pent-up energy from his hand outward. He flexed his wrist experimentally, pushing against the restraint, testing his hand's range of motion. He frowned. It barely budged.

He could feel the sweat begin to trickle down his neck. He chuckled darkly at that; when running he never broke a sweat. He clenched his fist, still trying to direct the flow of speed into this one area of his body, trying to displace the molecules in the bindings to move as he did. Faster and faster, atoms coming closer together…

He could feel it. There was warmth spreading from the restraint, the heat of friction as particles bumped into one another. He squelched his excitement so as not to break his concentration. The heat was starting to become uncomfortable against his wrist but he kept going, a few more seconds and his hand would be free.


He wasn't sure where that thought had come from so he shook his head and focused.

"Stop it!" a voice whispered sharply.

His concentration broken, he turned his head abruptly to glare at the speaker. A blonde woman in the next cell was staring at him, her white shirt standing out against her pale skin. He had to admit he was impressed that a quick blink was the only sign she gave that she'd been startled by the speed of his movement. Upset at being disrupted, he thrashed against the bonds. His body was a blur as he moved.

"You pull it out again and you'll bring them. You know what will happen then." She reproached him, voice barely above a whisper.

He glared at her all the more fiercely, hating the truth in her words.

He looked back at his wrist, the material looked singed. His eyes ran down his arm to the IV that was tapped into his vein. When they first captured him, they hadn't realized that his metabolism was as fast as the rest of him. His body burned through the sedative with which they'd hit him forcing them to dose him on the way to this place…twice. They kept him pumped full of a mild sedative so he couldn't think or move as fast as he normally would but he would still be cognizant enough for their sadistic "tests". His trashing had managed to dislodge the IV once and he'd received a beating for that small victory.

His shoulders slumped. Why'd she have to be right? He glanced back at her.

Ice Queen, he thought.

She smiled then as though reading his thoughts. He cocked his head, thinking of a moment earlier when that foreign thought had entered his mind.

"You're a telepath," he said, his statement sounding unusually loud now despite using a normal speaking voice.

Genius, he heard in his mind, figured that out by yourself, did you? Well, they don't call you Quicksilver for nothing, right, Pietro? Do you want to state the obvious again? You could tell me I'm a mutant.

Just then the door slammed open, cutting off the girl's mental insults and what would have Quicksilver's witty reply as the pair of mutants turned to watch the men who had just entered with wary, analytical expressions. In fact, the entire room had gone eerily silent, as though these men might fail to notice their presence if they didn't make a sound. A couple of lab technicians where dragging a boy, most likely a new capture since the clawed man he knew as Vic was with them.

They slowly stalked down the aisle of cells. As they approached, he could see a thick blindfold covering the boy's eyes. They boy was groaning, mumbling incoherently. Most likely he'd just undergone his first "test", the first of many unfortunately…for all of them. Vic's gaze swept over each mutant he passed, a strange smile settled onto his features.

The technicians stopped near Quicksilver and the girl, opening an empty cell to house their new prisoner.

Vic stopped in front of the girl's cage, placing his large clawed hand against the bars and leaned closer. She backed up wisely. Vic growled low in this throat and Quicksilver wondered how something that sounded so much like a purr could feel so threatening. "Hello, frail."

She shuddered.

Quicksilver thrashed again, trying to relieve the pressure of wanting to move. The instant he did, he noticed Vic's gaze shift to him and one of the technicians pulled a tranquilizer gun. Not wanting to be dosed again, he stilled and there was a tense moment as Quicksilver's gaze switched between Vic and the gun pointed in his direction. He hoped fervently that they didn't notice the damage he'd done to his restraints.

Nothing happened.

The gun lowered and the technicians dumped the boy unceremoniously into a cell and locked it. As the technicians turned to leave, Vic was smiling at him. Quicksilver suppressed his urge to tremble under that disquieting gaze. Vic slowly turned and followed, tossing a quick wink at the girl. Eyes followed them out. The prisoners let out a collective sigh of relief when the door closed, signaling that the men were gone.

Quicksilver glanced over at the girl, who was staring intently at the boy they'd brought. From his cell, he could see the boy lying on the floor. The girl seemed to be concentrating, a look of concern on her features. Did she know him? Did she care for him? Pietro closed his eyes and thought of his twin sister. He tried to picture her in his mind and let his thoughts of her be a comfort in this place. He opened his eyes to regard the girl again.

So few things were.