The energy parachute ride was rocky at best, and both Reese and Aug never wanted to do it again. They landed hard on the ground just below the base of the mountain, thankful that they had gotten away from the brontosaurs.
"Come on! I see the entrance to the cave," Aug said behind him, urging them both forward. They had seen someone running into it a moment ago, and it must have been the person who had been chasing them, and had been controlling the creatures. The whistling had stopped, so both were glad that the brontosaurs weren't going to follow them.
The young mutants were almost at the mouth of the cave when a blurry figure rushed past them at inhuman speed, before turning at the last moment and growling. Spartan barely had time to look at the creature before it growled, its dark fur almost blending into the darkness of the cave mouth.
A roar erupted from behind, and a flash of white pounced over both of them, before stopping on its haunches, ready to pounce. Reese was happy to see the white tiger before them.
"Oh, I'm glad you're safe," Aug said.
"Sure," said a voice, and the two boys looked to see the Japanese boy add himself to their circle of four around the cavern, around the beast before them. "We nearly didn't get here." He cracked his almost gray-colored knuckles.
"Aren't you usually black when you use your powers?" asked Aug.
Masato shrugged. "The earth feels… more distant here."
Reese smirked, looking at Stone-Heart. Sounds like someone else I know.
That's when they heard voices and the sound of hurried footsteps. From around a corner, the form of a papery woman and a green-skinned girl appeared, hurrying along. They weren't paying attention and almost ran right into the beastly girl, who had since diverted its attention to their approach.
The beast turned and was about to rush towards them, but Tigress growled in opposition as if to say, "Oh no you don't!" The tiger leapt and slammed the beast against the wall of stone, and Keiko and the girl ran past.
Masato immediately sped forward, fist out and ready to punch into the green girl's form, but Origami's hand clenched around his wrist.
"No. Haley's with me, with us," the woman said firmly. "I'm so glad to see you, but let's get out of here before the others catch up."
They all agreed, just as Tigress used her powerful arms to smash the beast-like Lupa against the wall, knocking the enemy unconscious. But before they could move a step, a cold voice stopped them.
"Ah, so the whole team's here," the voice of an approaching short figure, followed by the man who had been controlling the animals and a pterodactyl-like hybrid man. "Are these your friends, Origami?"
The papery mutant frowned. "Like you need to know. You have your cure, Brain-Child. Let us go, and we'll never bother you again."
"See, I can't do that," he said, pointing to the plant-like girl. "You can't take her, because she belongs to us." Haley seemed to stand a bit more closely to Keiko, and although the other mutants did not know her story, the New Mutants formed a tight circle around her, preparing to fight.
"No, she doesn't," the Japanese woman answered. "She is a mutant, not a mutate. Her powers were the catalyst for your own abilities, but she was taken here against her will, Brain-Child. She doesn't belong here, in this place."
The intelligent mutate laughed slightly. "You do realize that I'd only have to concentrate, and you would simply give her up."
Knowing Xavier was nearby, and already guessing what kind of abilities that a guy named 'Brain-Child' must have, Reese stepped up. "Why don't you just try?"
The brainy mutate did not like the fact that he was challenged. Almost immediately, a daze fell over the six mutants, and they were locked in eye-contact. But just as quickly as it had come, the Professor's influence was felt in the area, and they broke out of their trance.
"Damn those telepaths," Brain-Child muttered, before turning to his two lackies. "Get them!"
Sauron suddenly flew out and over them, just as the whistles from Piper filled the air. The mutants braced themselves.
"Don't let the pterodactyl man touch you. It drains your energy!" Keiko yelled, morphing her arms into blades of paper. The others nodded.
Reese summoned a spear made of purple energy and handed it to Masato. "Here, throw this at the flying guy."
The stony boy's eyebrow rose, but he seemed to understand it after a moment. He gripped the purple weapon and lifted it over his shoulder, aiming it just as the flying mutate dove from a hundred feet above them, aiming for the plant-like girl.
The weapon arced through the air with impressive speed, but the green, scaly man turned and rolled, just like a fighter jet. The spear dissipated as it hit the stone of the mountain.
"It's going to take more than that, kiddies!" the hybrid shrieked with a serpentine voice, and then dove towards them once more.
Origami flicked her wrist and sent a volley of super-sharp paper ninja stars, but the deadly projectiles were only enough to make him stop his assault.
Footsteps loomed behind them, and for a long moment, no one moved. The only sound was the growling of Tigress and the shouts of annoyance from Brain-Child as he tried to extend his hypnotic influence and was blocked at every turn by the Professor.
They were shocked beyond belief as a huge dinosaur stepped from the trees, howling loudly and making them shudder. Its teeth were long enough that everyone was getting a little sick. The tyrannosaurus rex rushed toward them with heavy footsteps at the beck and call of the zoopath.
"We've got to take out the animal guy!" Reese yelled, but Jacquelyn seemed to have read his mind. She rushed at the tunnel, where Piper was backtracking. Just as she was about to reach him, she was struck in the side by the animal girl Lupa, and the two began another struggle for dominance.
By this time, Sauron was diving down once more, and the T-Rex was almost up the slope.
Reese bared himself and formed a sword and shield, and Masato absorbed a bit more energy from the earth, his gray body with a new sheen. Origami sighed and prepared for the worst, while Aug tried to calculate how everything would turn out.
Sauron shouted out a battle cry just as the T-Rex was mere feet away, and the two converged at one time. Keiko opened her fists suddenly and three paper tendrils lashed out, two wrapped around the dinosaur's head and another around the wings of Sauron, and the pterodactyl man dropped like a rock.
Masato took the chance and leapt towards the T-Rex, thankful that he was high enough that he wouldn't have to jump very hard; moving around such a heavy weight while he had his powers activated was harder than it might have looked.
The Japanese mutant landed on the T-Rex's shoulder, digging his claws into the beast's neck to climb up. It shrieked and tried to throw him off, but Stone-Heart didn't give up and straddled the beast like a horse.
"Catch!" Reese yelled, abandoning his sword and shield for a long javelin, which he tossed to Masato.
The Japanese boy grabbed it, and using every bit of his weight as leverage, he slammed the energy spear into the creature's skull, and the T-Rex dropped after a shout, the momentum throwing him off.
"No!" Sauron yelled, not liking the fact that they were winning, and that he was bound. "Let me go!"
Origami walked over, adding more paper bonds to Sauron's body. "No, I don't think so." She turned suddenly and more tendrils whipped out and lashed at Brain-Child, and although the brainy mutate tried to run, Haley whipped in front of him and made him try to change directions. That moment of hesitation was enough for the paper to reach him, and the mutate dropped to the ground, yelling as he was captured.
Tigress and Lupa were still wrestling for dominance, biting and clawing at each other at the mouth of the cave. Piper was watching the whole thing, almost catatonic as his family was defeated one by one.
Jacquelyn suddenly backed up, surprising the furry mutate. It tried to rush her, but the tiger put its shoulder out and tackled into the creature, flinging her into the wall much harder than before, knocking her out cold.
Everyone took a deep breath of relief. "It's over, Piper," Origami said, gesturing to the bound enemies, who were shouting and struggling to be freed. Sauron had almost broke out of his bindings twice, but the papery woman added more bonds ever time he got close.
For a moment, it seemed like he was going to disagree. But fortunately, he nodded slightly. But Aug heard it as quickly as anyone else.
They watched with horror as a flock of those black lizard birds rose from the nearby trees and approached. But before they could even get close, vines and whole branches seemed to reach out for them, wrapping around their waists and entrapping them amongst the leaves.
Haley smiled meekly as they looked on her powers in appreciation.
Origami handed him a lump of heavy paper, and he began to spin, almost to the point where he became a blur. The wad launched and spun through the air, slamming against the zoopath's forehead with enough force to sling him against the rocks behind him, effectively knocking him unconscious.
"Let's get out of here! Professor, I know you're listening. Prep the jet!" Origami yelled.
Already on it. Well done. He answered back in their head.
"You'll never get away with this!" Brain-Child yelled.
"He's right, and I'll be back for revenge!" Sauron screeched, almost breaking out of his bonds again.
Haley waved her hands and thick, heavy roots shot from the earth and wrapped around the four mutates, binding them to the ground. "That should hold them for a long time."
"I would think so," Jackie agreed, glad to be back in her human form. "Let's get back. I'm ready for a nice, long shower."
They all agreed, traversing back to the exit of the dome with a sense of urgency, as though something else more dangerous would melt from the shadows of the trees.
Everyone was grateful to see the mansion approaching on the horizon. As the Jet pulled into the cargo bay door at the cliff and the Velocity landed underneath the tennis courts, everyone was almost too exhausted to move.
The elevator trip was quiet, and they were all a little worried about the awe on Haley's face. She was a little overwhelmed by it all, and they could tell that she was thinking about home, wherever that was.
When the elevator approached the first floor, as soon as it opened, the six members of the X-Men were waiting to greet them.
"How'd it go?"
"Are you all okay?"
"Who's that with you?"
"Everyone, I'd like you to meet Haley. She's going to be staying at the Institute with us for awhile. Haley, these are the senior students, the X-Men." They each introduced themselves and greeted her.
Grant pointed to the watch on his arm, before pressing a button and revealing his golden metallic skin. "I can make you one of these, Haley, if you want. It can hide your skin color."
She nodded, marveling at the color on his skin.
"Ava, could you take her to a free room? I have something that I need to discuss with Keiko. All of you, why don't you go and get some rest?"
He didn't have to tell them twice.
"The depths Erik would go astound me each and every time that I discover more about him," the professor said with a heavy expression.
"He experimented on her, Xavier. That beautiful little girl is broken now, probably unstable," Keiko said. "I can't understand what would bring him to do such a thing."
The professor breathed slowly, his mind in deep thought. The fire in the hearth danced in his eyes. "Power. He sought an army of mutants and wanted to test to see if he could grant humans powers. He did, but they were flawed. Cancerous." He looked out of the window at the night sky. "I hope that they get their cure."
Keiko smiled, thinking about the test tubes filled with the red substance. "It should work for them, and I hope it does. In some ways, I feel sympathy for them, because I doubt that they knew what Magneto was doing to them."
Charles looked at the rising moon, glistening in the sky. "Everyone has their strengths, and everyone has their flaws. Even a man like Erik Lensherr."
I hope you enjoyed this side-story, although I wished that I could have gotten it done sooner. Sorry for the wait! If you haven't read it yet, the first chapter of season two of Redux has been posted as well!