A/N: This story takes place in the X-men Movieverse that I created for the stories, "The enemy within", "Rehabilitation" and "Pryde on the rocks". While it is not necessary for you to read all of these fics in order to follow what's going on, it will help to at least read The enemy within fic to get an idea of the characters and where the story arc is coming from. Elements of this story contain multiple references to the previous stories.

I don't own the X-men but I do own the character Aaron Carter a.k.a Alpha!

Read, review and enjoy!

-Muir Island, room 108, April-

He didn't expect the road to recovery to take as long as it had.

When he chose his escape route that day, he assumed it would just be a matter of days before he'd be back in action. Maybe weeks if there were complications.

Yet it took him weeks just to utter his first words, months to move his arms on his own and now he's happy being able to feed himself. In his frustration he felt like a child, except a child isn't aware of just how helpless it really is.

The fact he had gone from being one of the most respected and powerful men on the planet, to this left him depressed most days. Angry others.

His only comfort came in the moments when he was able to escape the bed that had become his home and return to the home that had been his for years.

"Are you here or there…?"

Moira's voice pulls him back to reality and he nods. "Still here… doctor…" Over the past few days his verbal skills had been increasing to the point where he no longer slurred his words, but he still had some difficulty speaking without pauses.

Moira smiles and begins reviewing his vital signs. "Well you're coming along nicely. The muscle repair program will help with your motor skills. Just have to convince that beautiful brain of yours to stop being so stubborn…"

"You should know better than anyone… how much of an uphill battle that is going to be…"

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, grounds, morning-

"Not all of us have superhuman stamina, ya know!" Tabitha complains, panting harshly.

"If you have enough energy to complain, Meltdown, you have enough energy to keep running!"

"Just be glad that he cut these morning jaunts short!" Paige counters, keeping pace with Tabitha. She, unlike the others, enjoyed Aaron's approach to fitness, but Paige Gunthrie was no stranger to pushing her limits.

After her brother, Sam, Cannonball to some, developed his mutant abilities, she worked hard to force her own to activate. Looking back she realizes that it was stupid to think that she could physically force mutant powers to manifest, but now that they have she's thankful that her previous devotion to physical fitness is paying off.

Once Aaron selected his team of mutants to lead and train, he began to include them on his morning runs. Because of his healing ability, ten mile jogs were nothing to him, but he learned that most people couldn't handle the distance or the pace he set. So he amended the distance to three miles.

That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the additional bonuses he added to the runs.

During their jog, Aaron would call a halt to the group and signal orders. There was no rhyme or reason to it, so you had to stay alert and ready. And since all his commands were silent, you had to watch where you were going and watch him. They didn't know it yet, but he was preparing them. He was getting them ready to undertake the sort of missions that Cyclops and Wolverine would send them on.

This morning there were no such interruptions and when they arrived at the back of the Institute he finally called them to a stop and faced them.

"Took it… easy on us… today… huh?" Roberto DaCosta asks between breaths. Out of the group he'd been at the school the longest but his training always consisted of him being in the Danger Room working on using his abilities as Sunspot. Aaron informed the group from the beginning that most of their training with him would be without the active use of their powers. A reality none of them were prepared for.

"Don't remind him!" Vanessa hisses from her spot, stretching out her hamstrings, her chalk white skin flushed from her exertions. As a shape shifter, Vanessa, code-named Copycat, had her own ability to heal quickly, though hers was not as elevated as Aaron's or his father Logan's. So these sprints affected her just as much as the others.

"Okay, stretch and cool down people!" Aaron announces, with authority. The truth was he is very proud of the progress his team has made the last few weeks. The unit he assembled not only works well together, but they genuinely care about each other. It's a bond that can make a strong team if managed properly.

Aaron reaches into the backpack that he'd been carrying and tosses a bottle of water to each of his team. They all catch them easily and he notes with interest their reflexes.

Is everything you do a test?

Yes.

Rachel looks up at her boyfriend smiling who smiles back. They often have telepathic conversations like this, a fact made easy by the psychic rapport they share. A bond made deeper by all they have endured together.

"Aar- uh I mean Alpha…" Rachel knew that Aaron preferred demanded even, that during any group training exercise or field mission that only code-names be used. "Is there any truth to the rumors about there being a crop of new students coming in this week?"

"Also, follow-up; any truth to the rumors about there being some guys in this group?" Tabitha asked unashamedly.

"Yes to both." Aaron answers taking a sip of water. "You ladies looking to mentor them or something?" There's just the barest hint of a smile on his face.

"Is mentor a euphemism for bang? If so I could mentor the crap outta somebody!" Vanessa asks high-fiving an equally excited Tabitha.

"I'm standing right here you know!" Roberto complains.

"I know, but is that supposed to mean something…?" Vanessa quips, enjoying teasing the Brazilian. Roberto had made it all too clear he was interested in her, but she just found him a little too immature at times.

"Hit the showers people! You know how hard it is to get breakfast if you're late…" He orders, glancing at his watch. At just after 6:30 there would be a mad scramble for food in just an hour and with all the students and faculty here, survival was predicated on being fast.

They don't have to be told twice as everyone heads into the building to the locker rooms.

Rachel hangs back a moment and notices a strange look on the face of her boyfriend. "You okay?" She reaches out with her mind but finds his walls up, something that didn't happen often.

"Yeah…" He shakes his head smiling. "Just something I have to take care of…"

She studies his face for a moment before Paige calls out to her to come on. Aaron doesn't move until she is out of eye sight. Then, sure that he's alone, he speaks. "Why are you here, Fury?"

The man with the eye-patch steps free of the tree line and out into the open. "Nice little team you got there… a little raw, but they have definite potential…"

"I really hope you're here to try and take one of them… it'd give me an excuse to make your face more symmetrical…" Aaron growls protectively. In his experience, Nick Fury only came around when he wanted something.

Fury holds up both his hands in peace, but one of them has a small thumb drive in it. "I come with a warning…" He holds out the drive to Aaron who just stares at him. "C'mon kid, whatever bad blood there may be between you and me; you gotta know I wouldn't be here unless I had to be..."

Gritting his teeth, he takes the drive. "Your help has almost as high a price tag as your requests-"

"This time there's more at stake than you "owing me one", something you'll find out once you see what's on there…" Fury watches Aaron wrestle with his words, before finally tucking the drive into his pocket. "Walk me out?"

"Only to make sure you actually leave…" Aaron grunts.

"So how are things going with the shape-shifter?" Fury asks as they begin walking.

"She's a student here, under my protection, keep that in mind…" Fury didn't know that Vanessa was the shape-shifter he was talking about. Only that the girl in question had been given an "asylum" of sorts here.

"She has a lot to answer for Aaron." Fury sighs frustrated. "How long do you expect me to be able to keep the right people from ordering me to bring her in to get answers?"

"Should have never told you about her…"

"Then how would you have stopped Richards from bringing his machine to the public?"

The trade off to keep Reed Richards from potentially destroying the universe was information. That information put the school back in Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s cross hairs. It was a choice Aaron agonized over, but he felt it was better than the alternative.

"Simple, I would have just killed him, that rock pile he calls a friend and whoever else I needed to…"

"You're good kid, maybe even as good as your father was, but not that good…" Fury counters. For half a decade Aaron had done some pretty incredible work for the Black Fox division, but in Fury's eyes he was still just a teenager. A dangerous teenager, but just a kid nonetheless.

Aaron shrugs and keeps walking. He doesn't need to tell Fury that he had already worked out a way to take care of the problem if it came to that. He was done keeping him in the loop. "Here's the hole you slithered in through…" Aaron announces after using his senses to follow Fury's back trail. Once he was gone, he'd have Hank set up another defense measure here, since there was a gap in the security grid that had just been exploited.

Fury chuckles. "Yep, just like your dad… you ever get tired of playing house we could use someone like you with the big boys…"

This time Aaron laughs. "Between Banner, Stark and Barton, you've got enough type A personalities on that carrier. I'll pass."

"Just an invitation. Think about it. May help me forget you're harboring a traitor in your midst…" Without another word he disappears into the woods behind the estate.

-Professor Xavier's Study, ten am-

Logan and Scott aren't the least bit happy that Fury had been on the grounds, but they were interested in what he gave to Aaron. After making sure Beast and Forge got to work on the security gap, Scott ordered Logan, Aaron and Bobby to all meet in the study.

"What do you think is on it?"

"If Fury risked getting split like a pile of wood just to deliver it, it must be important…"

Scott nods, but is wary. "Maybe… but you said it yourself Aaron, Fury never does anything that doesn't benefit him. How does helping us, if that's what he's doing, benefit him?"

"I don't know Scott…" Aaron answers honestly. "I just know he has proven useful in the past; he led me here, he helped us recover you and the others, he helped me stop Richards from potentially ruining the universe-"

"That's a topic I think everyone in this room would like to know more about…" Bobby adds with a serious look. He didn't like the fact that Aaron still hadn't divulged that information to the three of them. After everything that's happened he didn't think there should be any more secrets.

"Is that how you two feel as well?" Aaron asks directing his attention to Scott and Logan. The two of them ran the school together now, as well as the two X-men teams and X-Force and the New Mutants squad. If they decided he had to tell them then he would.

Scott and Logan share a look, before Logan speaks. "There are going to be some things Aaron is going to be responsible for handling that we don't need particulars on, Drake. We give him certain latitude because his responsibilities differ from yours…"

Bobby doesn't like where this is going. "What do you mean? We both head up a team of mutants… I don't see the difference…"

"You haven't told him?" Aaron asks, slightly surprised. When Scott and Logan came to him with the idea of X-Force he assumed that Bobby had already been advised about the concept of New Mutants.

"That's a conversation for later," Scott interjects holding up the thumb drive. "For now, we need to focus on this."

-Latveria, Von Doom Industries-

"Sir, we have nearly all the components needed to duplicate Richards' mac- urk!"

In one fluid motion, the man known as Victor Von Doom grabs the engineer by the neck and begins squeezing. "Why would I, the most intelligent man on the planet, need to duplicate anything that elastic idiot has done? His path is marked with the stench of failure."

"I meant no- ukkk-"

"The level of my greatness is such that I can take a failure and create a success, which is what we are doing here. I trust I don't need to make my point any clearer?"

Unable to speak, the engineer just nods. Doom then drops the man unceremoniously to the floor. He walks away from the gasping man to center of the room. There is a huge control center set up there and he stops alongside the man operating it.

"I think that if you continue to make your point that way, Von Doom, we won't have any grunts left to put this thing together…"

"Well then, Trask, for your sake, pray that no one else suffers a lapse in judgment during your time here. Because if we run short of workers, I will put that expensive manicure of yours to the test…"

"Do try and remember that we are partners in this endeavor, Doom, I'm not one of your lackeys…" Trask offers slightly irritated.

He came to Doom with his idea because he had the knowledge to make things work. But Trask is supplying the schematics to get things off the ground. Latveria is not a prosperous nation, so Trask was also, by way of various back channels, supplying most of the capital for this as well.

"A lion does not partner with a gazelle, Trask. It uses the animal for what it needs; nothing more." Metal clad arms fold across the chest of Doom and he looks at the schematics of the machine he is building on the display screen.

He had come a long way since his encounter with the Silver Surfer. He was again left for and assumed dead, but he survived as he always does. The recovery was still in progress, as wielding the power cosmic and then being unceremoniously stripped of it took its toll on him. But now back in his home country, back in the armor he originally created for himself, he feels more like his old self.

Which is why when he was approached by Trask several months ago, he was intrigued at his proposal. Yet he wasn't completely convinced of the wisdom of becoming involved with the man. He had his own agenda to follow, Trask, in his mind was simply a mildly intelligent racist. Neither quality was particularly appealing to Doom.

But, once Trask was able to deliver to him detailed, encrypted files from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s own database detailing the energy collector that Richards had been working on he bought in to Trask. If not the idea or the man himself, he bought into what he could get from him.

"If I am the gazelle in this scenario, Doom, you would do well to remember that the lion often goes hungry in his quest for food. In fact, more often than not, the animal he's able to catch is sick, lame or young. And I am none of these things."

If Trask could see Doom's face underneath his mask, he would see that the doctor is amused. His voice gives none of that away. "I agree with you Trask, I apologize for my comment. I am merely… anxious."

Trask nods and smiles himself. "As am I, Doom… as am I…"

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Danger Room, 2am-

They have no idea how long the four of them have been at this, but it has been an incredible sight to behold.

Cyclops, Wolverine, Iceman and Alpha have been running the "Sentinel Attack" scenario at level one hundred for at least as long as the half an hour they've been standing here.

Each man moves through the scenario with an uncanny ease.

Iceman, using his unique mode of transport, glides in between sentinel attacks freezing arms and legs and building protective walls for Cyclops.

From behind those walls, Cyclops fires his optic blasts with fury tearing off arms and legs, made brittle due to the subzero attacks. Leaving the monsters open for Wolverine and Alpha.

Both men climb up the metal beasts hacking and slashing at wiring, ripping out controls and rendering the sentinels helpless. Although Alpha doesn't have Adamantium claws like his father, his bone claws seem just as dense as that supernatural metal. Tearing through the skin of the sentinels with nearly the same fury. After wracking up a significant amount of damage the three Sentinels fall.

"Okay! Let's get ready for them to reassemble!" Scott yells out to the three men. All three nod and stand poised, but the program fades with an announcement.

Scenario X, terminated, safety protocols re-engaged…

"What the flammin'!" Wolverine sheathes his claws and looks up at the once again visible control room and sighs as he sees four women standing in their night clothes, obviously angry. "Cats outta the bag gentlemen…" Wolverine looks at the other three men accusingly.

"Hey don't look at me!" Iceman announces with a smirk. "These two guys are the geniuses who decided to date a couple a telepaths!"

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Storm's room-

"When were you doing tonight, Logan?" Ororo asks in a harsh whisper. Though her room is fairly cut off from the rest of the mansion, she didn't want to run the risk of someone overhearing.

"Darlin, can we talk about this in the morning?" Logan asks toweling off his damp hair. After the thumb drive revealed that not only had Trask been released from custody, but that there was a security breach at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters.

"It is morning now Logan!" Ororo's voice climbs slightly above normal out of frustration. Once the four men began training in the Danger Room, both Scott and Aaron allowed their psychic walls to drop, which gave both their significant others complete access to their minds.

Normally that would not have been a problem, but given the two mens' strange behavior all day, their girlfriends were naturally on edge. They did not like the fact that the four of them were training in the Danger Room. At such a late hour.

On the highest danger setting.

With all the safety protocols disengaged.

"'Ro…" Logan reaches for Ororo collecting her in his arms. For a moment she wilts, as he presses his lips to her collarbone. He'd always had this affect on her, reducing her mind to mush. At once she could see herself writhing underneath him, walking the line between ecstasy and destruction.

"Do not-!" Ororo states firmly pushing against him to get space. "Do not try and distract me! I want answers!"

Logan chuckles at her defiant look even as the beast within him growls its displeasure. "You'll get them darlin'…" Logan promises, untying her robe. "Later…"

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, Jean's room-

"New Students get here tomorrow after noon, we should probably get some rest…"

"Yup."

"I think I'll have Bobby give the tour, kids seem to like him and he knows the place as well as anyone."

"Yup."

"I guess you and Betsy should perform the evaluations, since you'll both be actively involved in teaching them."

"Yup."

"Jean…!"

"Yup?"

"Come on! This is crazy! It was just a little late night Danger Room session. You know kind of a guy bonding thing…"

"First of all; you don't bond. Secondly, you are the biggest advocate of the safety protocols. Safety protocols you had disengaged. Third, Nick Fury was on the grounds of our school today and you hid that from me. You don't hide things from me unless there's a reason and I would like to know what it is."

"… can we go back to where you just keep saying "Yup"?" Scott Summers doesn't have any psychic abilities, but he has always had great instincts. His instincts tell him he may have just crossed a line.

"Scott!" Jean no longer tries to hide her anger and she turns fully to the man she loves. After Wolverine rescued her from the facility, all she could think about was the fact that Scott Summers was gone. And according to every mind on campus, she was the reason.

So when the X-men came back with her beloved in tow it was a blessing she truly wasn't prepared for. Now she senses a threat that could put an end to all that and instead of preparing her or allowing her to help, her so-called soulmate is shutting her out.

"Jean, there's nothing to be concerned about… we're just taking some extra precautions… we don't want another attack on us to go as badly as it did last time…" The pain in Scott's voice is evident, which takes some of the steam from the redheads anger.

"I thought that was the reason for the new teams, the added training, opening our doors to more mutants…"

"Yes, but as leaders, the four of us have to be doubly ready. We didn't want to worry you unnecessarily…"

"So what about Fury?" Jean asks watching Scott closely. He still had his psychic defenses up, which made her even more wary of what he was telling her. Still, the man had earned the benefit of the doubt with her.

"He and Aaron have… a history… there was some business that needed doing and Fury never provides a favor without asking one in return." Scott smiles at her warmly, a smile she can't help but return.

"Don't keep me in the dark again, Mister…" Jean demands caressing his face. She couldn't imagine her life without him and she didn't want to. Scott leans into her caress and all seems right again.

"Now…" Scott announces. "Let's go to sleep…"

"If you think you're getting off that easily, Slim, you're outta your mind…" Jean laughs naughtily shutting off the light.

Scott doesn't respond with words, his mouth is otherwise occupied.

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, media room-

"Bobby, you gotta tell me the truth; are the sentinels coming back?"

Immediately Drake wishes that were the only threat.

S.H.I.E.L.D.'s database houses a near infinite amount of data on everything. From Banner's experimentations with the Super Soldier formula, to Welling's NextGen 23 and everything in between. Fury didn't know what had been compromised only that a terabyte of data had been transferred before the leak was uncovered and plugged.

Fury knew that the most obvious threat was Trask, who thanks to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s extensive psi-shields had escaped the mind-wipe efforts of the X-men. With his recent release, it was easy enough to assume that he would begin his work anew. And he just may be armed with some of the most dangerous data known to man.

Why Trask was let go and where he was headed were two questions that Fury neglected to provide answers to.

"It's a possibility, yes. But it has always been a possibility; we just want to make sure we are ready if it does happen again." Bobby admits, taking a seat. He was starting to wonder if he was really up to this. The things he had to keep secret, the half truths and lies, things like that came easier to Logan and Aaron even Scott. He just wasn't as good at it.

"I still don't get the impromptu late night workout…" Kitty groans pacing. "If the threat weren't imminent then why bother?"

Bobby hated having to do this but the four of them had agreed the less everyone else knew the better. "You don't wait until the bad guys are on the front lawn to get ready, Kitty. You have to take every opportunity you can to stay sharp! And as leaders we have to be sharper than sharp!"

Since they'd known each other Bobby had only lied to Kitty once; when she asked him if he minded her dating Piotr. Before tonight that was the only lie between them. But Scott and Aaron were right; if the rest of the school got wind of this, the murmurs would start and so would the panic. Things have finally begun to calm down the last any of them wanted was to turn the school upside down again.

At least not until Aaron came back.

-Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, garage-

"Where the hell are you going!?" Rachel wasn't used to yelling at Aaron. During the course of their relationship they'd only really been in one fight. For the most part they got along perfectly well.

"Rachel, do you remember what I told you the day that I put you on my team?" Aaron doesn't break his stride as he asks her.

"Aaron…" Rachel chased him from the locker room, to his room to the garage. Taking turns between telepathically yelling at him to verbally yelling at him. Through it all he remained completely calm, which only served to make her angrier.

"Rachel…" He knew she would be upset, but he had bigger things to worry about, so did everyone else if he missed their window.

Rachel sighs heavily and uncrosses her arms. "You said that there was going to be a new dynamic to our relationship and you asked if I was sure I could handle it…"

"And that was…?" Aaron asks hopping astride the custom motorcycle Stark left as a gift his last time here. It should cut down the travel time tremendously. Considering the Blackbird was still being fixed, this would be the fastest way to Manhattan.

"Don't treat me like a child, Aaron!" Rachel shouts angrily.

"Don't act like one, Rachel!" Aaron counters.

Without thinking Rachel raises her hand to slap Aaron, but he catches her wrist and pulls her to him. "I love you…" Aaron states, kissing her lightly on the lips, while she tries to free herself from his grip. "But there are things that need doing that you don't get to be privy to… I understand the position that puts you in is not ideal… but it's necessary…"

She softens a bit and he releases her wrist. "Is it Aaron? Is it really necessary?" She didn't see why he had to leave right now, or why he had closed his mind to her. She didn't understand how things had gotten to this point in less than twenty-four hours.

Aaron nods solemnly and puts on his helmet. "You ready, Copycat?"

Vanessa steps from the shadows holding a helmet of her own under her arm. She looks from Rachel to Aaron and back to Rachel again. She doesn't know what to say to the young woman who has become her closest friend at the Institute.

She's actually just as confused as Rachel is.

Bobby came to her door just a half hour ago, told her to get dressed and to meet Aaron in the garage. When she tried to ask why, Bobby gave her a look that told her to shut her mouth and get ready. Which is exactly what she did.

With all of the skeletons in her past, she wondered if one had surfaced somehow. But she decided that if it had, she wouldn't run from it. Now here in the garage she's pretty sure whatever this is, has nothing to do with her.

"Will you be back soon?" Rachel asks, resigning herself to the fact that Aaron cannot be convinced to tell her more. From the moment she first met him, until now, he has been the most stubborn man she's ever met. It didn't stop her from loving him; it just made it difficult to like him at times.

Lifting up the visor to his helmet he smiles. "How long do you think I could go without seeing you?"

Although it's not an exact answer, Rachel smiles anyway and telekinetically lifts his helmet off his head to give him another kiss. This one is long and sweet. "Hurry back then." Rachel adds once the kiss is broken. She then turns to Vanessa. "Watch his back, girl."

"I will." Vanessa answers without a trace of humor, causing Rachel to flirt with the idea of reading her mind. She decides against it, realizing that Aaron will tell her what she needs to know, only when she needs to know it. He didn't function any other way. So Vanessa probably knows even less about what's going on than she does.

She watches the two of them ride away, not knowing where they are headed or if they will return.

-Four Freedoms Plaza, 8am-

"…actually sir, I'm not sure I do understand…"

"Just do it, Richards…"

"That didn't sound like a pleasant conversation…"

"There's a reason for that…" Reed cuts off the two way monitor and turns to his wife Sue. He had not been expecting a call from the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. first thing this morning and he definitely had not anticipated Fury's request. "Apparently, the same organization that forbade me from continuing my work on the cosmic energy collector wants to reverse engineer my design…"

Sue raises an eyebrow curiously. "And I take it he didn't tell you why…?"

Reed shakes his head. "No. But if I had to guess, I'd wager that since S.H.I.E.L.D. appropriated the schematics to my design that they have since had some sort of infiltration and the plans for the machine are in the wind. Knowing the potentially catastrophic implications of someone other than myself attempting to duplicate my work, they expect me now to provide them with a stopgap. A way of stopping the device it is ever completed. Which theoretically I could do…"

"Will you?" Sue asks curiously. She knows just how upset Reed was when S.H.I.E.L.D. stepped in at the eleventh hour and basically seized all his work concerning the energy collector. Given the uneasy relationship her husband has had with the United States government he didn't fight it. Still, that didn't mean that he was okay with the situation.

Once gone he began working on another device, similar to his original and was actually able to detect several flaws in the originals' design which he corrected. But even though S.H.I.E.L.D. inadvertently led to a breakthrough is his work he still was on shaky ground with them.

"If whoever has their hands on my work doesn't note the errors in my calculations, then they put the entire universe at risk…"

"So I guess our trip to Costa Rica…?"

"That's today?"

Sue laughs, amazed at her husbands' memory. He can recite Pi out to the thousandth place from memory, but he can't seem to remember he was supposed to take his wife on a vacation. "I thought the packed bags at the foot of our bed might have been enough of a clue… your IQ is in the triple digits… or at least the way I'm dressed…" Sue whirls around and he takes note of her breezy summer dress. "Although it's spring in New York, it is still spring; in New York!"

"We can still go…" Reed murmurs, thinking to himself. "It's going to take me some time to work out the equations needed which I can do while you're asleep…"

"No deal." Sue demands adamantly. "You will take these next six days off and enjoy a real vacation with your wife. Upon your return, what you chose to do with your time is your choice."

"Sue…"

"No negotiations, Richards! The car is waiting outside!"

-42nd Street and Madison Avenue, 10am-

"Big Bird is leaving the nest." Two eyes watch as Sue Richards drags Reed into a town car. He filled her in on the mission on the ride over and though she thought he had to be the craziest person she'd ever met, she found she liked that about him.

"Copy. Is bird flying solo?" His voice is a bit strained, but considering where he is right now, that's to be expected.

"Negative, mama bird en tow."

"Understood. Proceed to level 81 as planned."

"Copy." When she takes off her helmet, her trademark blue hair is gone, blonde stands in its place. Her chalk white complexion gains a darker more, normal hue. She strides confidently through the revolving doors of the plaza.

To anyone caring to look; she is Susan Richards, a.k.a. the Invisible Woman.

The first floor is open to the public so there is no security measures to override here. Aaron had planned this out to the last detail. Which made her wonder if in fact he had been planning to do this before today. The convenience of the Richards' family vacation couldn't be ignored.

Vanessa reaches the elevator without incident and as the doors close she smiles.

This is too easy…

Floor desired?

Aaron informed her of the layout of the building, she knows that the first seventy floors are basically just for show.

"Level 71 please." Her final destination is somewhere between the 81st and 89th floors, but in order to access any of those areas she must get past Roberta first.

The doors open up to a marble tiled reception area where a brown haired woman sits behind a receptionist desk.

"How may I help you Mrs. Richards?"

Vanessa is not fooled by the syrupy sweet voice of the woman seated there. She knows that the woman is a highly sophisticated deterrent against anyone who attempts what she and Aaron are here to do.

Any unusual or wrong response and "Roberta" turns into a weapon of mass destruction.

"I still can't get you to call me Sue, can I Roberta?" Vanessa asks, smiling radiantly.

"My apologies, Sue your husband programmed me to be professional and thorough. I have your itinerary showing that you have a flight to Costa Rica that you are supposed to be on your way to catch in a few hours..."

Okay, so I passed vocal recognition software, now she'll be testing my vitals to see if I'm lying…

With an exasperated sigh, Sue walks over to the desk. "Yes well, my genius husband has forgotten that he has some very sensitive experiments running on level 84 that cannot be left unchecked. He was going to come up here and shut things down himself, but I know if I let him anywhere near his lab… well you know how he is…"

Something like a smile crosses over Roberta's face and Vanessa could swear she relaxes. "I could always call up Johnny or Ben; they're both still here, right at home on level 91…"

Still testing me…

"What are they doing on the Negative Zone level? That portal can be very unpredictable!" Vanessa shouts showing the appropriate amount of concern such an announcement would warrant.

With another test passed Roberta responds. "Of course, my mistake, Sue, they are both on level 74, but I could have them disable the experiments if you let me know how..."

"No, I got Reed to wait in the car only under the assurance that I wouldn't let either of the boys near his toys. You understand, of course?" The act was getting a little stale and Vanessa was beginning to loose her patience. How Susan managed to deal with this on a daily basis, Vanessa had no idea.

"Of course, the elevators are unlocked…"

"Well they will be once I provide my retinal and fingerprint scan…"

Vanessa can't help but feel a little bit smug as she strides over to the new set of elevators opposite the set she just exited. One of the most sophisticated machines ever created just got fooled by a girl who doesn't have her driver's license yet.

The doors close cutting Roberta off from view and the scanners come out. A retinal scan and fingerprint analysis later and Vanessa hears a familiar request.

What level, please?

"81. And disable internal security systems, authorization: Susan Storm Beta-Romeo-Alpha-Indigo-November twenty-five." A series of clicks and whirs later and Vanessa is assured that she has disconnected any additional security. Despite assuming the good doctors last name, she kept her original security clearance active. Reed Richards himself doesn't even know that.

"Scarecrow is in the corn field." Vanessa answers with a soft chuckle. Aaron promised her Cloak and Dagger so she threw herself completely into the role.

"Copy. Awaiting yellow brick road." Aaron laughs a bit himself.

With a soft whoosh, the doors open on the 81st floor and Vanessa steps out. She walks over to one of the windows and opens it. This high up there is a strong wind blowing. "You're green lit to take the yellow brick road."

Vanessa takes a casual step to the side and moments later a figure comes screaming in through the window. His landing is anything but graceful.

"Yikes! I thought you were supposed to be all agile and whatever?"

Aaron get's to his feet shakily, popping his shoulder back into place and cracking his neck. "You try an entrance into eighty-first floor of a building from the adjacent buildings one hundred and sixtieth floor. With only a set of gliders to navigate some pretty nasty cross winds and then you can talk!"

"Is your arm supposed to bend that way?"

Aaron looks down at his left arm and pulls on it sharply with his right. Once back in place he heals almost instantly. "You ready for this?"

A/N: Hope you liked the start to the new story! Next up: Human Torch & Thing vs. Copycat and Alpha, Doom expands on his plan with help from an unexpected source!