"So, vhat do you think, professor?"

The bald man behind the desk leaned forwards, resting his elbows on the oak.

"I think, Kurt, that if what you feel about this boy is true, then I shall prepare a room. There have been some strange patterns showing up on cerebro, and I have a feeling that this is the mutant I have been expecting."

Oh lovely. He sounds like a maitre'd. What kind of fruitcake establishment is this?

Piper looked in through the third story window, tightly gripping the boughs of a tall chestnut tree.

Piqued by the boy 'Kurt's offer, she had retraced her steps back to the large building that she had seen earlier. After scouting the grounds, it was apparent that the institute really was a humongous dorm for so-called 'gifted students' as they put it. However, after listening in on a few less-than-discreet conversations between students and teachers, it still seemed like something was off. According to a large, grumpy, black-haired man, some guy named after an extinct mammal had run off, a cheesy magician's assistant was doing impersonations in town, and a mutated frog smelled bad.

Maybe 'gifted' was code or something for 'mentally confused'? It sure seemed that way.

Still, free food… tempting offer.

Now, the weirdo acrobat guy from earlier was discussing their encounter in the alley with an old guy who appeared to be a practicing circus psychic.

Can you say 'nut jobs'?

Even the yard! She had nearly broken her neck getting over the fence, and it almost looked like there was lasers installed in the sprinkler system.

They totally owe me new pants.

Her old grey-green cargos had been christened with a pair of impressive circular burn holes. Still, she couldn't exactly vocalize her complaints. At least it hadn't hit her legs.

This was a whole bag of crazy that Piper didn't want to jump into just yet.

Shaking out of her thoughts, the young woman returned her focus to the conversation taking place indoors.

However, while she had been thinking, the room inside had gone silent.

The wind had blown the branches into the window and, in alarm, baldy and acrobat had turned towards it.

Directly where she was perched.

And oh looky, big scary funky-hair guy was back.


…-kitchen knife knuckles.

Alright, time to go.

A drop, a roll, a flip and a jump later, Piper was running full-tilt across the vast yard, an angry Canadian and his German sidekick tearing away behind her.

At that particular point, Piper Williams would have loved to say that she had thought of something witty and poignant, but in all honesty, the only thoughts in her mind from the tree to the edge of the forest was


After that, she dodged and twisted as best as she could to avoid obstacles with her thin body, only occasionally looking back to her pursuers.

She didn't see much from her glimpses, but as far as she could tell, Mr. Scissorhands had some serious anger management issues to go with his hair, and Deutschboy was, unless she was mistaken, somehow managing to teleport between trees as he ran.

Who the hell ARE these guys?

Gasping, she turned again, and spun out of the way just in time to dodge a trio of razor-sharp claws swinging towards her shoulder.

They made a solid Shthuk as they sunk into the wood of a tree.

Now unable to free his right hand, the large man snarled angrily and swung with his left towards her face.

Sidestepping as she went, Piper took hold of his thigh and bicep and twisted him around, dropping him to the ground after hearing a sickeningly audible clic from his right elbow.

A snarl of rage and pain followed and she was up another tree as fast as lightening, but not fast enough to avoid a long, jagged cut down her calf.

As she hoisted herself up to the highest branch, hissing at the flare down her leg, she could feel great heated waves of anger and frustration lapping over her from the man below.

She gripped her head tightly, trying her best to block the familiar twinges of old memories that came with the spillout.

Lost again, sour milk, no money, get a jobnowhere to gocan'tstaycan'tdoanything…

Piper slowed her breathing, trying to calm down so she could control the feral ability.

As the overpowering force in her skull throbbed down to a manageable level, she began to compress it into a tight coil, ready to burst like a spring-loaded trap.

"Damnit, damnit, damnit…"

She only had to hold down the force for a little longer, just a little longer and she could disperse it gently, without having to resort to drastic measures.

Suddenly, Kurt appeared out of nowhere directally beside her, hanging upside-down on the nearest branch in a cloud of sulfurous gas.

"You really shouldn't talk zike zhat," he grinned.


All at once, several things happened.

A pair of sharp silver claws ripped out of their confines, a spaded blue tail appeared out of nowhere, and a great yell of release cleared the birds from the trees in a flurry of flustered wing beats.

Over it all, a circle of energy billowed out to encompass the three figures, and like ripples on the surface of a lake, everything shuddered and fell still.