Chapter 10: The End…?
There were no words that could do justice the expression on Professor Xavier's face once the young X-Men had returned home, numb with shock and soaking wet from their encounter. For several long, agonizing minutes, no one said anything. The professor steepled his fingers and shut his eyes with a frown, deep in thought. Yarin had turned away, desperately brushing tears from his eyes and trying to make himself inconspicuous. Petrov sagged in his chair, staring at nothing in his horror. The others could only look at the floor, unable to speak, still trying to process what had happened to them.
"This is all my fault." Kurt finally blurted out. Everyone turned to him, and the professor's face softened in pity.
"Kurt, assigning blame—"
"No, this is my fault!" he insisted, "If I had been more sensitive to Arial, none of this would have happened."
"Maybe," Jean said, placing a kind hand on the younger mutant's shoulder, "But we don't have any guarantee of that."
"Jean is right," Professor Xavier declared, "Even had you been more considerate of Arial's feelings, Magneto still might have tried to manipulate him."
Abruptly Logan let out a loud, frustrated growl and began cracking his knuckles, making several of the youngest mutants present jump. "Magneto's going to poison the kid's mind, Chuck." he snarled, not meeting anyone's gaze.
"And the worst part is, it's going to be too easy for him to do that." Evan muttered bitterly. Ashton glanced at him, opening his mouth as if to say something, only to shut it again, eye shining with tears he refused to shed.
"What do we do now, Professor?" Ororo asked, redirecting everyone's attention. Xavier sighed wearily, suddenly looking much older than he was.
"We wait," he answered, "And we hope. Given some time, persistence, and patience, perhaps we can help Arial. It certainly won't be easy, but we should never stop trying. But until then, hope is all that is left to us."
Somewhere in Dresden, Germany, away from the prying eyes of the ignorant public, there were several screens lit up, replaying scenes captured by many cameras.
One of the screens displayed a video clip stolen from the security footage of Bayville Aquarium, looping its feed on an angle above an octopus tank. Over and over, the screen showed the water in the tank beginning to bevel and rise to one side, like liquid being poured from a drinking glass, all the octopi moving, caught up in the impossible flow of the water.
The others displayed footage of a young, cherubic-faced teenage boy, his appearance the perfect example of the "Aryan race." Some of these were liberated from the security footage of Bayville high school; others had been filmed by the equipment of the viewer.
He stood now, eyes transfixed on the bottom center screen, watching the young mutant call up the water around him into a cyclone, his angelic face the portrait of fury.
The man viewing these feeds was tall, whipcord-thin, with gaunt features and cheeks that had sunken in. His greasy dark hair was long and ragged from years of neglect, and his eyes were glassy in a very mad way. His thin, bloodless lips turned up in a small smile.
"Marvelous." he murmured, "Simply extraordinary."
"I'm sorry if I seem ignorant, sir," his young laboratory assistant spoke up from behind him, "But what exactly is extraordinary?"
"Specimen number four's development," came the patient response, "His mutation has advanced far beyond vhat I had originally anticipated, und if the data readout is accurate, then this vill only continue. Truly extraordinary."
He didn't turn around, but he could sense the younger man's movements as he stared from the scientist to the screens and back again.
"Sir, this has been bothering me for some time, but…" A hesitation, followed by the sound of his loud steps on the tile floor, the pitiful force of a weak, wide-eyed stare as he drew close. "Isn't that your son?"
The scientist only smiled a little wider.
"He is, isn't he?" the assistant gulped, recoiling in horror. "And you treat him like some lab rat! How could you do that to your own son?"
Edmund Lavig turned slightly, the mad gleam in his eye growing.
"After his mother vas a failure, it vas easy."
The younger man's jaw dropped as he started to inch away.
"I did varn you you vould not like vorking for me."
" 'Not like?'" the assistant gave a dry, mirthless barking laugh. "Is that supposed to be a joke?"
The question went ignored and Edmund returned his gaze to the screens before him.
"Well you can forget it, Doctor Lavig!" the assistant turned and headed for the door. "I refuse to work for someone as deranged and disgusting as you!"
Edmund smiled a little wider, reaching somewhere deep within the core of his being, feeling the presence of every shadow in the room.
"Ah, yes. About that. Turns out that I no longer have need of you anyvay."
The assistant, closing his hand around the door handle, hesitated a second too long. Something about the lighting in the room shifted, and the shadow on the door moved. It rose, almost like a living solid object rather than just shifting like a proper trick of the light. His eyes widened as he watched the shadow—his shadow, he realized—draw in on itself tightly. It moved slowly at first, but once it had compacted, the shadow suddenly exploded into a frenzied growth, spikes jutting out from its creeping, black, vine-like form as it launched itself onto his arm. He let out a yelp of pain as the thorns bit deep, and made the mistake of attempting to pry them off.
Edmund shut his eyes, and released the restraints on the shadow-thorns, letting their growth underneath the younger man explode into man-sized spikes.
The sound was a wonderfully discordant travesty of song, the quieter squelching of pierced flesh mixing strangely with the high-pitched screams of agony.
"Let us consider your contract terminated." Edmund said cheerfully, not even turning to face the dying man as his screaming became a wet, choking gurgle. The spikes grew again, smaller thorns bursting from them with the sound of unsheathing metal, and a small shower of blood spattered the back of the scientist's once-pristine lab coat. He smiled just a little wider as he opened his eyes, staring at Arial's furious face in the bottom center screen.
"Yes, you truly are extraordinary, my son."
His smile did not lessen at all, not even as his cold gaze slipped to the armored, cloaked figure standing with Arial, and he folded his arms as he released his shadow-thorns, the mutilated body falling to the floor with a damp thud.
"This is only the beginning." he promised.
A/N: AND THAT IS THE END.
No, not really. I'm just kidding! As if I'd just stop after THAT. This is the end of "Tempest Fury," yes, but the story continues in "Hurricane Warning." Yes, I'm uploading it as you read this line, so don't freak out. R&R please.