Disclaimer: Wolverine and the X-Men belongs to Marvel and I am not making any money from this page.
Author's note: This is my explanation for how Rogue came to be with the X-Men.
I picture Hank (Beast) as drawn by John Cassaday. I prefer that design over the one used in the show. To see a picture, go see the Wikipedia article on "Beast."
"Ya" means "You" in Wolverine speak.
Rating: "T" for minor profanity.
Drinking game: Take a shot every time the MRD is mentioned. Just be sure to map out your last will and testament before you do so.
"Remember," Scott cautioned, as the team of senior X-Men entered the Benetech research building, "We don't know anything about this so-called cure for mutants. We don't even know if there really is a cure, but it's a very real possibility. So all of us must be on our guard."
Behind his mask, Logan rolled his eyes. Trust Summers to state the obvious.
"If you come across any personnel," Scott continued, "don't fatally harm them. I only want minimal injuries at the most. We'll need to ask them questions, so subdue without intent to kill. There weren't any guards out front, so that might mean that they're expecting us."
The stainless steel doors leading to the heart of the Benetech laboratory loomed before the team. Without hesitation, Scott focused his eyebeams, blasting the lock to smithereens, and then yanked the door open, exposing a long, gleaming white hallway that appeared to lead to several more corridors exactly like it. The team followed Scott as he strode inside, all cautious and alert, but every single one of them prepared to combat any possible opposing force.
"All right," Scott said authoritatively. "Angel and Marvel Girl, you two stay here and be our eyes inside. Warn us if anyone is coming."
"Got it," Warren replied.
Jean narrowed her eyes in concentration. "Cyclops, I'm not sensing anything."
"What?" Scott glanced at Jean inquisitively.
Jean shook her head, and Logan took a moment to observe how the light reflected on her brilliant red hair. "There's no one here besides us."
Good one, Summers, Logan smirked.
Scott was not deterred. "You and Angel stay here. Storm, you and I will go check out the upper levels. Beast and Wolverine, I need you to go down and search the lower levels."
"And for what should we be searching?" Hank inquired.
"Anything that may give clues that the cure is legitimate," Scott answered promptly.
"All right," Logan growled. "C'mon, let's go, Chewie."
"After you, my Canadian colleague."
The group of X-Men separated; Jean and Warren remained where they were, Scott and Ororo set off in one direction and Hank and Logan in the other.
After what seemed like an eternity of walking down white tiled and metal walled corridors under fluorescent lights, Logan and Hank finally found the elevators, thus restoring Logan's faith that there was some sort of divine deity out there, somewhere.
"Jesus, it's about time," Logan exclaimed. "You're a smart guy, Hank, but you have no sense of direction."
"Odd," Hank replied wryly. "You don't seem to be particularly directionally oriented yourself."
Grumbling under his breath at both Hank's rebuttal and the Muzak that buzzed in his ears due to the elevator's stereo system, Logan hammered the button for the basement with his fist. "If you ask me, this whole assignment is bogus. 'Subdue without intent to kill' . . . hell's bells, the rookies could have done this."
"If memory serves, they were willing to," Hank pointed out. "But as far as ready and able goes, that remains to be seen. At least, Scott didn't think so, and Robert and Kitty were particularly upset to be excluded from the mission."
"It's worth leaving them home just so I don't have listen to their whining," Logan claimed. "Drake, Pryde, and that one kid, what's-her-face-"
"Cessily?" Hank interjected, amused.
"-are just annoying," Logan finished. "Piotr's the only one I don't mind."
"And Kurt?" Hank inquired, as the elevator halted and the doors swished open.
"I don't really consider him a rookie," Logan replied. "He's not a senior X-Man, but he's been here longer than the rest off those kids, so-" he broke off, sniffing the air.
"What's the matter?" Hank asked, inhaling as well.
"This is a laboratory," Logan replied grimly. "I'm betting that this is where the actual cure was formulated- if there is one. So if I smell all the regular chemicals like methanol and acetone, why do I also smell some flowery perfume?"
"Especially Katherine Pryde's scent of choice," Hank added, yellow eyes staring around the room, which was similarly white and fluorescent as the upstairs.
"Kitty!" Both men shouted at the same time.
A few seconds passed before a sheepish teenage girl emerged from the wall on their right.
"Judging from your uniform, I presume that this is premeditated," Hank commented with a faint note of humor in his voice.
"Well, I just–" Kitty began, but Logan interrupted her.
"Ya decided to ignore what those older and wiser than ya said and stow away on the Blackbird, am I right?" He demanded.
Kitty had the grace to look ashamed as she nodded.
"That was idiotic of ya," Logan growled. "Especially since ya went off alone in an area of potential danger-"
"Regardless of the measure of her foolish actions, Kitty is with us presently, and at the current moment there is nothing to be done to resolve the situation. Therefore, she must remain with us until someone can escort her to the Blackbird," Hank stated calmly.
"Fine," Logan snarled. "Get behind me, Half-Pint."
"I'm an X-Man," Kitty said indignantly, "and I will not hide behind anyone."
"Ya are an X-Man in training," Logan scowled. "So ya will listen to what the actual X-Men tell ya to do."
Kitty pouted, but did as she was told, and the trio moved across the lab, which furnished with wide tables covered with test tube racks, which in turn were occupied by glass vials filled with liquids of various colors and consistencies.
"So is this where those scientists make the cure?" Kitty asked curiously, leaning over to look at a beaker standing in the middle of a table, as if it had been abandoned in the middle of use.
"This is where Benetech researchers may be manufacturing the cure," Logan corrected, grabbing Kitty's wrist and dragging her away from the chemicals. "We're not sure if there actually is a cure. It might just a be hoax so the MRD has something else to use to threaten mutants."
"So Benetech agreed to work with the MRD on this one?" Kitty inquired. "I don't consider coercion, threats and blackmail to be agreement, Kitty," Hank responded placidly. "And if that's the incentive the situation requires to simply manufacture the cure, I shudder to imagine what the MRD will do to distribute it."
The reply disconcerted Kitty. There was a pause as she fell silent, her expression taken aback. Inquisitive by nature, she obviously wasn't accustomed to such serious answers to her questions, Logan observed, judging by the way her prior questioning drew to an abrupt halt.
The group approached the door leading to the core of the basement levels. Logan noticed that most of the anticipation on Kitty's face had drained away, replaced by apprehension.
"Get ready," he cautioned gruffly, unsheathing his adamantium claws, and ripping away the lock mechanisms and throwing open the steel doors. Side by side, Hank and Logan entered, and were surprised to see that instead of another lab, they had merely unlocked another network of hallways. Oddly, the halls directly in front of them and to the right were lit, but the hallway to the left had been extinguished of any light source and was completely black.
"Um . . . you two do realize that I just could have gone through and unlocked the door, right?" Kitty questioned hesitantly.
"Quiet," Logan hissed, listening intently. Hank was already warily staring into the darkness, and Logan's instincts were screaming that there was a threat in the vicinity.
"What do you hear?" Kitty whispered, glancing from Hank to Logan.
"Footsteps," Hank murmured uneasily. "Very faint, as if the person has some stealth training, but isn't a professional."
Logan smiled grimly. "So someone's out to get us, but it's an amateur. This should be fun." He turned to Kitty. "What I said earlier still stands. Even if this person isn't a pro, they still could be dangerous. So stay behind me or Hank."
The three mutants proceeded to walk down the dark hallway, Logan and Hank straining to hear the slightest movement. Then both stopped abruptly and tensed.
"What?" Kitty barely managed to avoid crashing into Hank.
"They're here." Logan muttered. "I can hear breathing. Get ready. Go through the walls, and find the light switch. Stay phased, just in case."
"Won't that just make us easier targets?" Kitty asked fearfully.
"No," Hank responded. "The only reason to why this individual has not been skewered by Logan is because they are operating under the cover of the darkness. If you irradiate the vicinity, then we already have obtained our victory."
"Got it," Kitty said, and disappeared into the wall.
"Back to back," Logan said.
"I concur," Hank agreed.
The two waited for several minutes in tense silence. Then suddenly they heard the unmistakable sound of running footsteps, and the hiss of cackling energy.
"Dodge!" Hank yelled, pushing Logan to the ground as a bolt of blue electricity soared over their heads. The energy hit the lights hanging above, causing the bulbs to shatter and shards of glass to rain down from the ceiling.
"That's it!" Logan snarled savagely. "This prick is going down!" He threw himself blindly into the darkness ahead, and was mildly surprised to actually collide with their attacker. The force of the impact brought them both crashing to the ground in a tangle of limbs. Logan was immediately launched off the ground and thrown into the wall by his adversary. He fell to the floor and lay there for a moment, dazed from the strike. His attacker sensed his weakness and then another bolt of electricity found Logan, wracking his body with agony, not for the first, or last, he was sure, time in his life.
Without warning, the lights came on, illuminating the entire hallway, with the exception of the area where the overhead lamps had been destroyed. Logan would've attempting to shield his eyes as the light pierced his retinas, had he not been lying on the floor in pain as his singed skin and hair were regenerated. He hardly managed to shut his eyes as it was.
"Logan?" Someone was lightly shaking him, and as Logan opened his eyes, Kitty swam into his vision. Then he remembered what he was doing there, and he stood with a sense of urgency.
"Take it easy," Kitty warned. "You were just electrocuted!"
"I'm fine," Logan said gruffly. He could see Hank about ten feet away, kneeling on the ground, bent over another figure. "Is that the amateur, Hank?" He strode over to his friend and teammate, Kitty following.
"I think you should see this, Logan," Hank said, his tone grave. "It's not uncommon for mutants to turn against one another, but this is something else entirely."
Frowning, Logan reached his friend, then froze as he also saw what had captured his friend's attention. Kitty elbowed Logan aside so she could also see, and when she did, her eyes widened in astonishment. Kneeling down beside his friend, Logan tried to push aside his shock.
Lying on the ground before them, utterly motionless, was a teenage girl. No more than Kitty's age, Logan was willing to bet, perhaps fifteen at the most. Color was sparse in her face. Besides the purple shadows beneath her eyes, and the blood oozing from a scratch on one cheek, the hue of her complexion was almost stark white. Her eyes were wide with a vacant expression within the glassy green depths. Dressed in a black armored bodysuit with black military boots, the girl appeared to be some sort of operative, perhaps for the MRD.
But something wasn't right about that, Logan realized. The MRD had tasers and regular guns, but since when could they shoot lightning from their hands? There was no firearm in the vicinity that the girl could been using, so that meant-
"Take a look at that," Hank gestured to the girl's left wrist.
Logan followed his gaze; confused at first when he only saw the area where his claws had ripped away her suit and then realized the girl had the "M" tattoo just over her wrist joint. The mark of a captured mutant, courtesy of the MRD.
"And then there's these," Hank murmured sadly, pushing the sleeve further up the girls arm, revealing track marks where syringes had injected drugs into the girl's veins.
"Is she a drug addict?" Logan asked quizzically.
"I don't presume the drugs were consumed voluntarily," Hank replied grimly.
"So she's been drugged?" Logan demanded, outrage at the MRD rising at the prospect of enslaving some mutant kid against her will.
Hank sighed. "Yes. I presume it's a mind-altering drug that allows them to control her in some sort of way, possibly so she can be used as an agent to kill enemies or hunt down other mutants." Hank shook his head. "I can't imagine where or how they found her, though."
Kitty outstretched her hand to turn the girl's wrist so she could see the tattoo as well, but was stopped by Hank.
"Don't!" He said sharply, and Kitty jumped. In a softer tone, Hank added, "You can't touch her bare skin, not without gloves. Skin to skin contact with her drains away your energy. I'm willing to presume that it's a part of her mutation." He glanced at Logan. "Call Scott."
Grimacing, Logan rose, taking out his communicator as he stepped away from Kitty, Hank and the girl. "Hey, One-Eye. It's me."
"What is it, Wolverine?" Scott demanded in a weary voice.
"We found some kid. A mutant girl, controlled by the MRD. Injured, though."
"How do you know that she's a mutant?"
"She has the "M" brand. She also has abilities. Drains energy, and can throw it back at ya."
Scott's tone sharpened. "How is she being controlled?"
"Excellent." Scott sounded as if he wanted to cuss someone out and was just barely containing his anger.
"Oh, and Kitty's here, too," Logan smirked.
Scott was silent for a long time, and Logan idly wondered if the leader was so incensed that he had temporarily lost the ability to speak. Finally, he said, fury in his tone, "Go back to the Blackbird. All of us will meet you there."
"Roger," Logan replied, then stowed away the communicator. He glanced over at Kitty and Hank and frowned. "Is that kid dead, Hank?"
"No," Hank lifted the girl off the ground, cradling her in a single arm as easily as one would carry a kitten. "I believe she collapsed from exhaustion. If not, then this is a side effect of those drugs."
"What's going to happen to her?" Kitty asked softly.
"We're taking her back to the Blackbird," Logan said shortly, still irritated with Kitty for her blatant disregard of orders. "Can you phase us through the wall, Half-Pint?"
The teen took a deep breath, and then looked Logan in the eye. "The wall won't be a problem, but there was some weird stuff when I came down here. It gave me trouble getting through. I think it would be better if I phased us to an elevator, we went up, then phased through the walls."
"'Weird stuff?'" Hank echoed, perplexed. "And you say you had difficulty going through?"
"We can hold an open forum for discussion later," Logan said flatly. "Let's go."
Kitty nodded, placing a hand on his shoulder and Hank's, concentrating on rearranging their molecules.
Moving through walls with Kitty was never Logan's favorite experience, due the nagging worry that Kitty would forget what she was doing and accidentally leave him trapped in the middle of a wall. But this time, Logan's thoughts were too focused on the mysterious purpose of the drugged mutant girl to worry very much. By the time they were out of Benetech, Logan was still at a loss to decide what exactly was the girl's purpose.
The prospect of was of the MRD enslaving mutants to do their dirty work wasn't outrageous, but it was unheard of. If this had been something that was taking on a large scale, the X-Men would know. So this type of situation must be uncommon, but if the MRD had the drugs and the means to enslave mutants, why weren't they?
The trio boarded the Blackbird to be met by Scott and Ororo.
"Jean is preparing the medical supplies," Scott studied the teenager in Hank's arms. "She looks pretty bad. Take her to the back, please, Hank."
Scott followed Hank, and Logan removed his mask, watching as Ororo closed the ramp, before turning to Kitty.
"You will explain what you are doing here," Ororo said, both calm and regal as Kitty quaked in her boots.
"Well, um . . . you see-"
Warren was watching, obviously amused by the scenario, but Logan saw him glance towards the back of the jet with an expression of curiosity. Warren returned to observing as Kitty attempted to explain herself and after a few minutes of reveling in the girl's comeuppance for her wayward actions, Logan moved to join Jean, Scott and Hank in the back.
"What's the story?" He asked.
The blood had been cleaned off the girl's face, and the scratch on her cheek was covered by adhesive tape. An IV patch had been placed over her veins, and there was a blanket spread over her torso, covering the straps that immobilized her, which would be necessary when the jet was in flight.
"She should be all right, at least physically," Jean replied, a grim expression on her face. "Besides minor cuts and bruises, her only problem is a mild cause of malnutrition."
"She wasn't eating?" Logan asked. "Why not?"
"Because the mind control was so severe. The drug is specific to her DNA, or else the MRD would use it on every mutant they capture." Scott finished cleaning the girl's wounds and began bandaging the track marks on her arms. "Those MRD bastards had to drug her up to give her orders, and at that point, she basically had no will of her own. To take her off the drug was too dangerous because she might have regained her baser instincts. If they wanted her to eat, they either had to order her to do so or give her food through an IV."
"Who is she?" Logan demanded. "And how the hell did the MRD get their hands on her?"
Rubbing her fingertips against her temples, Jean looked wearier than Logan had ever seen her. "I haven't been able to find out her real name," Jean admitted. "Before she was captured by the MRD, she was with Mystique. I'm not sure about the extent of their relationship, only that the two were close. But her mutant abilities make it difficult to find out anything more about her."
"Energy drainage?" Logan was skeptical.
Scott shook his head. "No. More than just that. When Ororo and I were searching for evidence of the mutant cure, we discovered it was all just a hoax. Benetech labs are trying to find a serum to suppress mutation, but they're far from reaching their goal." A mirthless smile twisted his lips. "Instead we found files about this." He gestured to the girl. "Project: Rogue. Something that both humans and mutants fear."
Logan glanced at the motionless figure. "A teenager?"
"A human Sentinel," Scott stated flatly. "Remember Nimrod? This girl is like that, except that she's actually alive. It's one of the MRD's better plans. She can hunt mutants, or if the MRD need to remind people of the mutant menace, she just has to be told do something destructive and terroristic in public, and then NBC has a cover story about evil mutants for the seven o'clock news."
"How is she even effective as a Sentinel?" Logan asked. "She may be a mutant, but she's a skinny fourteen-year-old who isn't even six feet tall! The most threatening thing about her is that she has two-toned hair!"
"Project: Rogue's mutation doesn't just take away a person's energy," Jean clarified. "She can steal a person's thoughts, memories, emotions, and abilities with just a single touch. If she were to hold skin-to-skin contact with someone for an extended period of time, she could kill them. She may even be able to do that now."
"For the sake of simplicity, I believe that the girl should be referred to as 'Rogue,'" Hank proposed. "'Project: Rogue' is a considerable mouthful, and it becomes rather tiresome to continuously reiterate."
"That sounds fine." Scott shrugged. "Rogue probably won't be able to remember her own name, anyway."
"Because?" Logan stared at him.
"Because of her mutation," Jean said. "Rogue's abilities are valuable. By just touching someone, she has all of their thoughts and memories. If that person is a superhuman, she temporarily also has their powers and they do not, and is able to overtake them in combat. So she was obviously a good choice for a human Sentinel." Jean grimaced. "Jesus, listen to me. It sounds like I'm congratulating the MRD." She shook her head. "Anyway, those drugs had already overwhelmed Rogue's mind, but her ability to steal the memories of various people inhibited her own memory capacity. She has too many memories in her brain, and can no longer distinguish which are hers, and which aren't."
"So when this kid was throwing lightning at us, that wasn't part of her mutation. It was someone else's mutation that she had stolen." Logan glanced at Hank.
"Basically," Hank confirmed.
"Great," Logan sighed. "So what are we gonna do with her?"
"We're taking Rogue back to the Mansion," Scott told him, in a tone that left no room for argument. "Unless, of course, you think that leaving her for the MRD to come and collect is a good idea."
Logan shrugged. "One last question. If this is kid was working for the MRD, why the hell was she at Benetech?"
A beat passed as the other three considered the question.
"That's a good point," Jean said slowly. "She had no reason to be at Benetech. If anything, she should be with the MRD, not here. Why would the MRD allow her to go to Benetech?"
"Rogue was a research project designed by Benetech for the MRD," Hank said. "If they suddenly concluded that the best option was to depart, why would they abandon her? Have they cut their ties with the MRD?"
"And the stuff about this drug isn't right," Logan agreed. "They designed this drug specifically to match her DNA? If it's that easy, why aren't the MRD using it to just control every mutant there is? It would save them the trouble of making a mutant cure."
"Ororo and I downloaded the files after we found the computer banks," Scott informed them. "We can read the lab reports and find out all about this, get the answers we need."
"And if the reports don't have the answers?" Logan glanced at Scott, arching an eyebrow.
"Then we find Mystique," Scott said flatly.
Watching the girl sleep, Logan couldn't shake an eerie feeling away from his mind. It crept into his thoughts, and it wouldn't leave him alone, filling his head with questions about this girl and what the MRD had done with her. And to think, it was Mystique who had her claws in this kid before that . . . Logan shook his head and wished that either Jean or Hank would return and take over for him. They had been taking turns standing watch at the Mansion's medical center in case the kid woke up and went berserk.
But that didn't seem to be the problem. The thing was, it had nearly been seven hours since the team had returned, and the kid still was unconscious. Logan wondered if it was possible that the kid had slipped into a coma. She still appeared to be breathing steadily, at least. That was something.
While the other X-Men had readily begun referring to the kid as 'Rogue,' Logan had yet to use the name, even when thinking about her. In his reasoning, she couldn't be given a name unless she had a personality to go with it, and right now, she was unconscious. She would be Rogue once she was awake, and he could actually associate some sort of personality with her.
Bored out of his skull and displeased by the opportunities to put the rookies through hell in the Danger Room that he was missing, Logan shifted in his chair and tried not to fall asleep. He glanced around the room, noting the gleaming, silver instruments that occupied a tray on the table beside this kid's bed, freshly polished, complete with a large scalpel.
He yawned, covering his mouth with a hand. Undoubtedly, this was his most tedious guard duty yet.
In fact, Logan was so bored that he almost didn't notice the cold green eyes that opened and immediately focused on him.
In an instant, the kid had leapt out of the bed and tackled him, pushing him against the closest wall, holding him there with one arm, and using the other to press the scalpel against his throat.
Logan was not a man who easily frightened, and even then, he didn't back down. But staring into this kid's eyes, easily icier than the Arctic tundra, was startling, knowing she was fully willing to slit his throat.
This kid was a killer. Logan could see that in her eyes, could tell by the way she had fluidly laid the scalpel on his carotid artery, the total lack of expression on her face. Something nagged at him in the back of his mind, but he couldn't focus on it.
Maybe the kid had never intended to kill anyone. Maybe she had never wanted to. But at some point she had, and she obviously wasn't hesitant to add to the body count.
"Are you sure ya want to do this?" Logan asked her, smirking as he unsheathed his adamantium blades.
Far from perturbed, the girl merely nicked his skin with the scalpel, and Logan could feel blood begin to trickle down his neck. The way she operated, in cold blood was rather familiar . . .
Logan knew he had to at least try to rationalize with the kid. "I don't want to hurt ya," he warned.
Her grip on the scalpel tightened.
"Fine, have it your way."
Logan kicked at her lower leg, catching the girl right under the kneecap. She was caught off guard, and leaned back, allowing him to twist her wrist so she dropped the scalpel. Logan shoved the girl back, and she sprawled backwards on the ground.
He approached warily. "Look, kid, I'm not one of those MRD assholes. I want to help ya. But ya can't try to behead someone whenever ya feel like it."
She stared up at him, as if trying to decide if she could find a blind spot and attack again. Strands of hair fell in front of her icy green eyes, the shock of white a stark contrast to the rest of her auburn tresses.
"Who are you?" She asked. Her voice was lower than Logan expected.
"I'm Logan," he replied casually. "But what I'm wondering is, who are ya?"
The kid didn't break eye contact, but Logan watched as her fists clenched and unclenched.
He shrugged. "If you don't remember, that's okay. Hank has already christened you, anyway."
"Hank?" She repeated blankly.
"C'mon." Logan sheathed his claws once again and outstretched his hand, offering the girl help to get to her feet. She accepted, and Logan was glad that he had followed Hank's advice and worn long sleeves and gloves. "I'll introduce you."
"Where am I?" The girl stared at him, demanding an explanation.
"Mutant high school," Logan replied.
The girl grimaced. "When can I leave?"
Logan scowled. "Look kid, it's a dangerous world. In case ya haven't noticed there are people who want to kill or throw us in jail to rot. So give this a chance before someone finds ya and drugs you up again so you'll hunt your own kind. Going off and doing something stupid is just the thing that the MRD would want you to do, because then they can take you back."
The girl didn't react with anger; instead she studied him intently, for several moments. Just when Logan was beginning to grow unsettled, the girl shrugged her shoulders.
"I want a full a explanation of what happened to me," she said tonelessly. "Take me to this 'Hank' person."
This time, Logan stared at her, as it occurred to him who this girl reminded him of so strongly.
And Jean had said that the two of them had been close.
Hell, this should be fun.
Inwardly rolling his eyes at his God-awful luck, Logan pulled off his leather biking gloves and handed them to Rogue. "Put these on," he said gruffly.
The gesture of kindness was meet with another disconcerting glance, but Logan stood his ground. Eventually, Rogue accepted the gloves.
"Come with me, kid."
He was ready to admit it. The name 'Rogue' certainly suited her very well.
Logan strode across the medical center, Rogue following warily. And as he opened the door and began to lead Rogue to Charles's study, Logan couldn't help but wonder if the Xavier Institute would be an improvement to her life, or if her sojourn at the school would conclude with the MRD discovering her again.
For once in his life, Logan forced himself to attempt to think positively, and listened to the echo of their footsteps resound on the walls of the corridor.
Nimrod was a mutant-hunting Sentinel from the comics. Benetech was also the corporation that manufactured the mutant cure in the comics.