Maybe I was better off not being friends with Josh, Lily and Cory after all. We’ve been back together for less than two hours and already we’ve been kidnapped. Being an isolated misanthrope is so much safer.
I was blinded by a cloud of black smoke as Serenity teleported to Crystal’s ‘home’. The sensation of teleportation was never exactly comfortable. Within the one second we traveled from Josh’s to wherever we where now, I had felt a hard tug all over my skin followed by a swooshing motion, which made my head feel light and dizzy. A feeling of nausea came over me as I had felt my body come to a halt, feeling the ground beneath my feet with a lurch. The smoke parted from my eyes and I hardly had time to regain my composure or even noticed my surroundings when rough and rocky hands grabbed me from both sides.
“Get off!” I screamed as I was lifted off the ground. Serenity’s hand slipped from my shoulders, though her left hand were still on Cory’s, who had been my brave traveling companion. Serenity had wanted us to come alone but Cory insisted that he come with me.
Cory lurched towards me, pushing Serenity out of the way. I continued to kick and scream, struggling against the giant igneous behemoth that was Rockslide. As Serenity stumbled back, I noticed an unsettling glimmer in her eyes as she stared at Cory. She gave her hand a quick, almost absented minded flick and a thin pillar of block smoke poured out from her fingers and shot straights toward, hitting him on his side.
“Stop!” I screamed as he flew right off his feet.
“I said one at a time for a reason,” Serenity turned to me as Rockslide carried me over to a cold, looking metal slab of which had about a dozen tubes and needles decorating the sides. “Makes it easier to strap each of you in.” Rockslide slammed me down on the metal slab and I winced in pain, “I’m off to get the others. Calvin deal with Cory.” I heard Serenity say before I heard the swooshing sound of her teleporting.
Rockslide strapped my arms, legs and waist down onto the table as I heard a familiar British girl say, “Be more gentle with him Calvin.”
“You evil bitch!” I screamed struggling against the straps holding down my arms, “All this time I knew you were bad, but this? I didn’t think you’d stoop so low.”
“People will surprise you,” Calvin Rankin replied smugly.
There was a moment of silence now and I assumed Betsy was not replying. Sighing heavily I decided to look around the room the best that I could attempt to gage my surroundings. A florescent light the room and the dust covered walls were painted a cheap looking black. I couldn’t tell if the room was large or not from my position but the ceiling was very high up. On my other side, I saw a table filled with beakers and papers. In front of that desk was a meek balding man, a pale looking thin man who looked to be in his 20’s with wild black hair, a strong jawed man who looked to be in his early 20’s with broad shoulders and brown hair and a tall, fit girl with a large maim of red hair who was probably around 19 or so. I didn’t know who any of these people were but I did know we were definitely in trouble.
“You evil bitch!” Cassie screamed, “All this time I knew you were bad, but this? I didn’t think you’d stoop so low.”
The words stung. It wasn’t the hate in the words that hurt me, but the surprise and even the disappointment. The fact was, I was surprised and disappointed in myself too. How was I letting this happen?
I stood in a corner with my arms crossed, watching as Calvin put the straps around an unconscious Cory.
“I don’t get what’s going on,” Jamie was standing at my side. He sounded and looked nervous. “Why are we even here?
I shook my head, “Because Serenity and Sinister told us to be here.”
“But why?” Jamie muttered to me.
“We’re guarding them in case the X-Men come,” my voice was shaky and I felt sick. Sinister and Serenity said after tonight I would be free, and more importantly I would have my brother back. I just had to do this last thing.
“Yeah but if the X-Men come,” Jamie voice got lower, “They’ll take us out. I don’t want to get cut into pieces by Wolverine. He’s Canadian.”
I rolled my eyes at Jamie before turning back to see Serenity teleport in with Josh.
“What are they going to do to them?” with Serenity’s presence, Jamie switched our conversation into thought.
“I don’t know,” I eyed a struggling Josh as he got put in his straps by Rockslide. Calvin was standing not too far from the scene, a malicious grin on his face.
My eyes traveled around the large, dark laboratory. There were four medical tables space apart in the very middle of the room, a light overhead put them in a circular spotlight. Everyone else was situated around the circle, hiding in the shadows. Jamie and I stood closest to the door while Crystal stood in front of a bookshelf, next to her bald, practically brain dead brother Locke.
Not far from them to their right was Crystal’s father Agon Amaquelin, Crystal’s father and the reason we were all currently here. Supposedly Sinister had relinquished control of the ‘project’ to him, which seemed strange to me. Also strange was the lack of Sinister in the room at all. He was always so concerned about Cassie and her friends’ well-being, about playing their God, I would have thought he’d definitely be here to see the end of his favorite lap rats. Flanking both his sides was Crystal’s sister Dusa and her brother ‘Mad’ Max. Next to Max was her cousin Bart, who supposedly couldn’t utter a word without making things blow up.
Calvin stood almost directly outside the circular spotlight, almost adjacent to where Josh had now been placed. On the opposite side of the circle stood Mercury, who watched as Rockslide stood directly in the center of the four tables.
Serenity appeared once again, this time with Lily in tow. Looking quite bored, she flung Lily into Rockslide’s arm, who immediately picked her up and strapped her to the table before joining Mercury outside of the circle. Serenity, meanwhile, strutted towards were Agon and his sons stood, as he moved forward and into the circle.
“Welcome children,” Agon moved into the very center of the room, so that the end of all four tables faced him, along with the feet of our four captives.
“We have to do something,” Jamie’s fears and doubts poured into my mind. He knew something bad was going to happen. I knew something bad was going to happen.
“We can’t do anything,” I curtly replied.
“It is finally nice to meet you,” Agon looked over his captors, he looked so pleased with himself.
The four, were struggling against their bindings. I could feel their fear.
“He’s going to hurt them,” a pleading Jamie cried inside my head.
“No,” I felt sick to my stomach, “He is going to kill them.”
“It’s finally nice to meet you,” said an unfamiliar voice. The man had no distinguishable accent that I could tell and his voice was a bit low, almost meek if not for the boost of confidence he was probably feeling for bagging the good guys.
I struggled against the ropes to no avail. My arm, which had been broken by Mimic almost two months ago stung with pain. But I was comforted to know that soon enough that pain would stop on account of me being dead. Yay…
“My name is Agon Amaquelin and I am the one who cured you.”
“Oh God,” I heard Cassie sighed, “He’s going to monologue.”
“Son of a bitch,” I muttered. “Can’t we just skip to the killing?”
“Umm,” I heard Cory, who sounded sort of groggy, “I like living.”
“He’ll kills us anyway,” Lily added casually, “So might as well kill us now before we get like massive headaches, I rather die without a headache.”
“Still I’d rather-”
“Quiet!!!” Agon snapped, “Sinister warned me you would distract with your inane banter.” So Sinister was behind this. I wasn’t exactly shocked. Why was that white faced bastard behind everything? “But I’ve heard enough,” I could hear the anger in Agon’s tone, “I’ve waited so long for this moment. If you say another word, I swear I will slice you open.”
“Ewwww to that mental image,” Lily said sounding plenty grossed out.
“No more talking,” Agon spat, “It’s time to begin.”
“Right,” I said with a nod. My heart was pounding in my chest. I was scared and not just for myself. I had just gotten my friends back, didn’t want to lose them again. I heard Agon’s feet against the floor. It sounded like he was moving away. Without wasting another moment, I said as casually as possible.
“So what is exactly is your plan again?”
I heard him stop in place. “Well, I might as well tell you,” his voice was filled with pride.
Bad guys can be pretty easy.
Agon moved back into the center of the room and I let out a deep breath as the knot in my stomach loosened slightly. This would buy them more time. All they had to do was keep him talking.
“They don’t need more time,” Betsy’s voice echoed in my head.
“What do you mean?” I asked as Agon began speaking.
“What I plan to do is bleed you all dry” Agon’s voice was cold, practically inhuman. My eyes widen at the words, “At your side are dozens of suction needles which will pierce your body and slowly drain you of your blood.”
“Distracting him won’t work,” Betsy replied.
“That sounds unpleasant,” Lily sighed.
“I will keep you alive during the process,” He was pacing around in the circle, glancing at each of the four captured mutants, “Because I need your heart to keep pumping. I need your blood to be healthy and fresh as I reach inside your body and slowly remove your vital organs.”
“Oh this guy is sick in the head!” I cried to Betsy, “And what do you mean distracting won’t work? It’s working right now. It seems like this guy could talk for hours.”
“Don’t worry,” a sick little smile crossed Agon’s face, “You will be completely numb throughout the process. I need everything as fresh as possible. Every organ, every drop of blood is vital for me to mass produce the cure.”
“He won’t talk for hours,” Betsy replied, “He’ll talk for a few more minutes, maybe but it will not be enough.”
“Ummm,” Cassie said and I wished I could see her face at the moment, just so I could know how she was doing, “Wait…..What?”
“The other X-Men will come,” I thought firmly, really believing it.
“Your blood will be able to mass produce my cure,” Agon repeated moving towards Cassie’s table, “The mixture of the virus, the toxin and it’s aftereffects inside you runs through your veins.”
“Huh?” Cassie sounded befuddled, “There is virus and toxin inside us.”
“It’s what I used to cure you,” Agon explained.
“I thought you didn’t want the X-Men to come?” Betsy glanced at me, her glare a bit cold.
“I rather get stabbed than watch them get bled,” I stared right back into her eyes.
“You are going to need to explain that,” Cassie told Agon.
Agon’s face brightened. He really seemed to love this part. Did Sinister know what a psychopath he had found? “Two months ago, my daughter Crystal gave you each a toxin. The toxin for the most part was harmless, at least it was a first. It needed a virus to take its full effect. We infected a mutant with the virus which I had produced and then sent him to infect you. All he had to was cut you once and the virus would go into your system. He did a marvelous job. Do you remember him? He had purple skin and knives for arms?”
“Hmm,” Josh thought for a moment, “Not really. I fought about four purple guys since I’ve become a mutant. I can’t really tell them apart anymore.”
“Dude that’s sort of racist,” Cory replied.
“The X-Men aren’t coming,” Betsy replied to me, staring at the center of the room somberly.
“Remember or not, he infected you with a lower form of the virus I created inside him,” Agon stressed that he was the one who created the virus, which made me believe Sinister was the creator.
“Why not?” I gave Betsy a pleading look, which she did not see. She was too busy staring at Agon as he continued.
“The virus and the toxin mixed in your blood, mutating your X-Gene, rendering it both useless and impossible to detect, making you defacto humans.”
“They don’t even know they are here,” Betsy replied to me, “The X-Men still think they are in Josh’s basement.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Cassie seemed disgusted by the faulty science, “A virus and a toxin in our bloodstream mutated our X-Gene? How? And how did it not come up on any blood tests?”
“Because I’m brilliant,” Agon replied without any sense of shame.
“But you don’t think they’ll notice they’ve been gone too long?” I asked Betsy.
“No,” Cassie replied, “That just doesn’t make sense.”
“Not to you,” Agon barked at Cassie, “You are just a foolish child! You are not intelligent enough to understand such sciences.”
“Excuse me!” He might as well have slapped Cassie in the face. “I am a child prodigy damn it! A genius!” Betsy made a “pffing” sound and rolled her eyes, “When I was just a child, doctors actually came to study me!”
“Those were priest Cassie,” Josh cut in.
“Either way, they were in awe of me!” Cassie said with a huff.
“More like terrified,” Josh corrected.
“I’m fine with either or,” Cassie said.
“Enough!!” Agon moved towards the head of Cassie’s table and stretched out his hands to strangle her. Though I couldn’t see her face, I saw legs begin to struggle. I began to lung forward but Betsy held me back with a firm grip around my arm.
“We have to help!” I screamed into her head.
“We can’t,” she replied and I could see the regret and remorse in her eyes.
Agon let go out of Cassie, who coughed loudly.
“Are you okay!?” A panicked Lily cried out.
Cassie coughed, trying to catch her breath, “Well I’m currently stuck in this guy’s freaky S&M fantasy, so yes I’m perfect Lily, thanks.”
“Why can’t we help them?” I watched anxiously as Agon rushed back into the shadows.
“We’re outnumbered,” Betsy replied back to me.
“Um hello what part of multiple man don’t you understand?”
“I’ve always been confused about the man part.”
“Okay ouch,” I glared at her.
“We’re outmatched,” she repeated, “It doesn’t matter how many dupes you form we just can’t do it.”
“What about Crystal?” I asked and looked towards our former teammate. Though she was in the shadows I could still make out her face. She was pale and sickly looking. She hardly looked like she could stand up. “We could use her and her brother. She said he’s a teleporter.”
“I don’t know,” Betsy was looking at Crystal too.
Crystal wrapped a finger around her hair. Her eyes were on her father as he came into the middle of the room where Cassie and the others were. He had medical gloves and a lab coat on. She was staring at him, her face blank.
“She might help us,” I thought to Betsy.
“Maybe,” Betsy sounded skeptical.
“Come on Bets, just look into her mind,” I urged her, “Find out if she’ll help us. Just go and see how Crystal feels.”
I wanted to hurl. My father told Lily and her friends his grand plan and I just couldn’t take it. He sounded so evil and insane. He was going to drain them, cut them open, and harvest their organs. All so he could mass produce his cure. How could he do that to four people? Was it really all in the name of science because to me it sounded more like he was trying to be some sort of God.
And was he going to do this to me? When I was the person he was looking to cure, was he going to drain me of my blood and harvest my organs if it finally worked? The thought made me shiver and I felt goosebumps pop up on my arm. Is this what my father really had become?
But I had that answer. I knew who my father was. He was the man who had broken his vow to not use the Terrigan Mist on Locke, turning into an empty shell of a boy and he was the man who kept hidden the fact that that same mist would slowly kill Locke and my other Inhuman family members. I accepted what he was and now I had to decide if I was going to do something to stop it. I felt conflicted and torn apart. I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘Was that going to be me? Would my father do that to me?’
I wanted to say no but it seems every moment in my life up until now told me the answer was yes. I’ve always just been a tool to accomplish his goals. It’s the same for my brothers, my sister and Bart. We were all just tools. We were experiments. Did we mean as much to him as Lily and her friends meant to Sinister? Were we just some sick fascinations, his favorite lab rats? If we died would he mourn for us or would he just create another batch of children?
I tried to think the better of my father but my rational side told me I was wrong and the emotional side of me seemed to reluctantly agree.
My eyes fell on the large metal tank shaped tube, the Terrigan Mist tank. The same mist which granted my family their unstable powers, the same unstable powers which would soon kill them all, thanks to my father.
So what was I to do now? What was my next step? Was I going to save these children? Was I going to stop my father? Was I going to run away? Was I going to stick with him and continue to be his tool for the sake of science? Who was I going to be? What was I going to be?
I was so torn up. My stomach was hurting and I was doing my best not to collapse. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even think straight. I wanted to crawl into a ball and cry. I wanted to-
I removed myself from Crystal’s mind, having heard enough.
“She is an utter mess,” I said to Jamie, “She won’t be any help.”
I could feel Jamie’s desperation rise as he sighed, “Okay…so what do we do?”
I thought for a moment. What was I going to do? I guess this was the moment I had to decide, was I going to risk it all? I had given up so much to be here and I had so much to gain from just letting these four people die. My brother would be out of his coma, my other brother might forgive me for my transgressions, my father and my mother would be happy again. My family would be back together.
But four other families would be torn apart. Four lives would be lost and the bad guys would win. But I didn’t really know their families and I didn’t really like them. So it would not be a lost for me, would it? Wasn’t I just losing more but saving them?
And the guilt I felt about putting my brother in coma, wouldn’t that just be replaced with the guilt I would feel about letting these four people die?
And what about Jamie? Did he realize what he was doing by betraying Sinister? If he really was a duplicate wouldn’t he die? Was his life worth their lives? I guess he seemed to think so, though I am sure it’s only because he thought Cassie was fit. Boys are always lead by their privates.
We weren’t the heroes of this story, so why would we be willing to make the noble sacrifice? Why was I going to lose all I wanted for them?
“It’s time to start,” said Agon said as he moved to a console in the north most section of the circular spotlight.
“Clap,” I told Jamie.
“That seems inappropriate,” Jamie looked at me as if I had gone insane.
“Duplicate you sod,” I stepped back slightly, “As many as you can, as quick as you can. When I say go, get ready.”
Jamie stared at me for a moment, his expression blank. I shrugged at him as I looked forward, seeing a small smile form on lips as he gave me a firm, determined nod.
Why was I doing this? I wasn’t so sure myself but every fiber in my being told me I could not just stand back and watch this happen. The truth was, if I let this happen, even if I got my brother back, my world would never be the same. It would be tainted.
I just hoped this didn’t make me a superhero.
I focused on the four tables in the middle of the room. I couldn’t see where the straps are but I didn’t need too, I just needed our prisons to know.
Jamie began clapping loudly, duplicates forming at his side; two Jamies, followed by six Jamies. Everyone in the room turned to Jamie, surprised and confused. Another six dupes formed as I stepped back, hiding behind the Jamies. I closed my eyes and heard more clapping. Soon enough I felt surrounded.
My eyes shot open and the Jamies dupes parted like the red sea as I moved forward. The straps of the four tables flung into the air and the four prisoners quickly sat up.
Someone was clapping at my demise! I shook my head incredulously, my mouth hung open slightly as I felt stung with insult. Rude much? I had always tried to be so nice to people and this was the thanks I get!
I felt slight tugs against my straps, which was strange since I wasn’t doing any tugging. The straps around my arms, legs and neck were ripped away with a sudden snap. I immediately sat up, Josh, Cassie and Cory doing the same. We faced each other for a moment, panting and shaking ,before we sprung to our feet.
“Get together!” Josh called out.
We quickly huddled together, turning our back’s on one another so we were shoulder to shoulder, each facing in a different direction. I looked over my left shoulder and saw Cassie at my side and to my right shoulder stood Cory.
Around use chaos ensued as at least a dozen Jamie Madroxs stampeded past us. I looked around and saw a boy with brown hair and broad shoulders get tackled by three of the Jamies while on my other side another dozen Jamies were trying to take care of Rockslide. They
grabbed onto his large arms as he did his best to squat him off. Agon had been tackled to the ground too and was now being stomped on by passing Jamies.
“Oh,” I nodded as realization hit me, “That’s why he clapped! Phew!” I put a hand on my chest, “I feel so much better now.” The others cast me a look but I shrugged, “What?”
Through the stampeding Jamies I saw Serenity staring directly towards us, a wicked smile on her face. For a moment I thought she would attack, but instead she gave me a wink with a wave goodbye before disappearing in a cloud of smoke. Betsy Braddock let out an angry cry as she ran through the black smoke, kicking the ground with rage.
“We have to get out,” Josh said sounding tense.
“Is your head okay?” I looked to Cory, who had his fist up like he was ready for a fight.
“Yeah it hurts a little but no brain damage or anything. My brain is good. .”
“There is just too much to do with that statement and too little time,” Cassie moved forward, breaking our little barrier, “There’s a door over there,” she pointed to the far right corner.
“Then let’s move,” Josh commanded, “Keep staying close.”
We took off, moving past a new collection of Jamies. I would turn my back occasionally to make sure no one was following us but we seemed good. Everyone seemed to be preoccupied with the army of Jamies.
Cassie had made it to the door first.
“It won’t open!” she screamed as she pulled and twisted at the door knob.
“It needs a key,” frustrated, Josh moved away from the door.
“Maybe crazy scientist guy has it,” I said looking back to the man who was on the ground.
“Maybe we can break the door down,” Cory said with a hint of hopefulness.
“No good,” Cassie shook her head, “It’s steel.”
“Oh poo,” I sighed.
“I’ll run back to search the guy for the key,” Cory said preparing to take off.
“I’ll go,” I said, “I’m the quickest one here.”
“Okay,” Josh stepped towards me, “But quick because we need to-”
Josh was cut off as I felt a gust of air brush over me. Strands of my hair fell in front of my face and my eyes caught the faintest hint of a blur and within the next second Josh was gone.
Cassie, Cory and I exchanged terrified glances before Cory moved to the spot Josh had been.
“Where is he?” Panicked stricken, he looked across the room. He never saw the large liquid like silver, black gloved hand of Mercury coming.
“Cory!” I screamed a little too late. The hand gripped around him. His eyes widened in shock as he was suddenly wrapped in Mercury’s silver arms, which at the moment looked more like robe. Cassie and I lunged forward but stumbled and missed Cory as he was pulled across the room.
Cassie and I quickly stood back to back, holding onto each other’s hands. Her eyes were darting across the room and her palms were sweaty.
“Don’t you just love how no matter what when things get bad, they always seem to be able to get worse.”
I turned my head to respond but as I did, a maim of red hair wrapped around Cassie’s neck.
“Hey!” I screamed turning, keeping hold of Cassie’s hand. A tendril of the hair around Cassie’s neck sprung forward and hit me hard in the shoulder. As I stumbled backwards, I let go of Cassie
“No!” I screamed as she was pulled from me. I set to off after her but felt a hand grab my arm.
I turned to face the boy with broad shoulders and brown hair. He stared me for a moment, one of his blue eyes black and swollen, and said nothing. In fact he looked quite stoic.
“Get off me,” I said trying to pry myself from his grip.
His grip tightened and still he didn’t utter a word.
“Fine!” I yelled as I stopped struggling against his grip. I saw the tension in his face lessen and than as quick as I could, elbowed him in the face with my free arm.
I quickly retched my hand from his grip as he moved a step back, one hand covering his face.
“Just cause I don’t have powers doesn’t mean I don’t know how to fight,” I said kicking him hard in his right hip. Sure I wasn’t as good as fight thing, or as quick, or as strong or as agile. All those nice reflexes I had were gone and I couldn’t do any super cool moves. But still I knew how to fight.
I punched the boy hard in the face next and he stumbled back again. I aimed another punch towards his face but he grabbed me with both hands and twisted it and pulled me close, my back toward him.
“Ergh,” I yelled and kicked at his shin twice, both times very hard. He let go of me and I moved forward, turning around. The boy was crouched down staring at me and he seemed to be biting his tongue. I looked at him, ready for more of a fight. He stood up straight and opened his mouth like he was about to speak.
“Stop!” The boy was blown back by a torrent of wind, his eyes widening in surprise as he crashed against the wall.
I turned to see Crystal run to my side.
“You don’t want to hear him talk,” she said, shaking slightly, her face pale. She looked at the boy for a moment, horrified at what she had done before staring back at me, “Are you okay?”
“Hmm, well considering I just got betrayed, kidnapped, almost drained of my blood and just watched my friends get dragged away into battles they can’t win,” I began than paused for dramatic effect, “No I’m not okay but hey I am use too all this by now, so at least there’s that.”
“I-” Crystal began but seemed unable to get the words out.
“Help me get my friends to safety,” I said as I looked to the crowd, seeing five Jamies flung through the air. Eesh, I hoped none were the real one.
Crystal nodded and in front of me, ready to protect me from anything that was about to come, like the incoming Rockslide.
Rockslide slammed his arm right into Crystal. She was thrown right off her feet into the air, almost making it all the way across the room. He reached behind his back to throw another Jamie off him. He looked down at me and I smiled weakly.