————— Quarters of the Black Queen —————-

Kiden felt herself coming around. She opened her eyelids and found she was still lying on the floor of Selene’s office. She lifted her head and looked around. She saw Selene to her left but she was doing something weird. She looked like she was sitting down but for some reason was perched halfway through the motion. Why would she do that thought Kiden?

Slowly she got to her feet and looked around the room. That butler guy, Horace, was standing stock still in the doorway, a tray of food in his hand. She walked toward him astonished that he wasn’t moving at all. What was going on she thought?

She looked at the tray of food, chicken in some sort of sauce. God she was hungry, she walked over toward the butler and took a deep breath. Something wasn’t right she couldn’t smell the food. She looked at it and noticed that the steam from the food was also frozen in place. She waved her hand through it and it moved but as she took her hand away it went back to being motionless.

“Absolutely delightful isn’t it?” she heard a voice from behind her. Kiden leapt into the air and in her panic grabbed the butler and swung behind him. There was Selene standing with her hands on her hips and a smile on her face. “So this is what you can do,” she remarked to herself.

“What the hell is happening, why isn’t this guy moving?” asked Kiden, fear beginning to taint her voice.

“Well this may come as a shock Kiden my dear, but it would appear you are a mutant”, replied Selene who was now peering into her butlers face completely amused by his unresponsive nature.

“What, I’m not a mutant”.

“Oh I beg to differ, I mean look at what you can do”, said Selene as she gestured around the room.

“I did this?” Kiden asked confused.

“It would appear so”, said Selene walking away.

“But you were frozen too, how are you moving, how do I know this isn’t you doing this”, Kiden demanded.

“I have a few tricks of my own darling”, replied Selene with a smile. “I’m afraid I have not been completely honest with you Kiden”.

“No shit”, the girl snapped back.

Selene narrowed her eyes and glared at Kiden. Despite the street girl’s bravado she found herself taking a step back. “I knew you were a mutant when I first met you”, she revealed.

“How could you? Even I didn’t know, ‘sides aren’t mutants supposed to get their powers when they’re kids?” Kiden asked.

“Well, seems you are not that stupid after all. Normally that is the case Miss Nixon but you see sometimes the mutant gene doesn’t activate until later in life. This can arise from various causes, like stress or”, she paused and smiled a private smile, “Let’s just say there are many things that can activate the x-gene”.

“Okay so say I am a mutant, why are you doing any of this, I mean why come with some big story about people out looking for me and…” Kiden trailed off, this was just too much. She sank down to the ground and sighed. She felt like crying but even that seemed like too much for her to manage right now.

“Oh dear, don’t worry, I know this might seem like a lot to deal with right now, but trust me you are going to love working for me”, said Selene. “You see the people I told you about, the ones looking for you, well here’s the thing, I part of the same organisation”.

Fear shot through Kiden and she jumped to her feet. “Oh relax”, said Selene, “Its not what you think. My rival, so to speak, is assembling a little group of mutants so it would seem and you my dear were on his little shopping list”.

“So you decided to get me before he did?” said Kiden, anger creeping into her voice. “What the hell makes you think that I will stay here?”

“A few things”, said Selene, “First if you go, the others I was talking about will find you, and if they do they will make you join them or they will simply kill you, especially now your powers have been activated. Secondly what have you got to go back to, the streets are a dangerous place for a young girl like yourself, and now you’re a mutant, have you ever heard of Purity?”

From the look of worry on Kiden’s face Selene realised that she had. “I can take care of myself”, she argued, “Look at this, if anyone tries to mess with me I can just freeze their asses”.

“Ah but here’s the thing, you have no idea how to control those little powers of yours do you?” replied Selene. “I’ll tell you what Kiden, look around you, and look at the riches of this room. You stay with me and I’ll teach you how to use those powers of yours, and you can have whatever you want while you stay loyal to me”.

Kiden’s eyes widened at the offer. This woman was obviously rich, and there was something about her that told Kiden that she was also not someone she really wanted to mess with. “Anything?” she asked.

“Anything, and of course I assume you are thinking of those nasty drugs you developed a taste for on the streets”, replied Selene. “If you are going to work for me I’m going to need you to have your wits about you dear. Saying that I’m sure we can come to some arrangement”.

Selene got up and walked over to Kiden. She held out her hand, “Do we have a deal?”

Kiden thought quickly, she had nowhere to go if she walked out, and she would constantly be looking over her shoulder if she did. This woman had managed to back her into a situation and she realised she really had no choice. Plus it didn’t sound too bad this deal. So she stayed and learned to control these freaky new powers she has, and if these rooms were anything to judge on she would be living in style.

“Deal”, she said taking Selene’s hand and shaking it.

“Good, I knew you would. After all I know a little something of addiction myself,” said Selene.

Kiden suddenly felt extremely weak, her legs buckled under her but Selene still kept a grip on her hand. Blackness began to creep in around the edges of her vision and she heard Selene say, “I have to turn you off now, but don’t worry it won’t always be like this. But I do so enjoy having a taste of my students from time to time”.

Selene looked up and witnessed as time came crashing back into the room. Horace moved into the doorway and stopped. He looked down at his mistress and if he was surprised to see both she and the homeless girl lying near his feet he didn’t show it. Selene stood up, dropping Kiden’s hand.

“I just drained her enough to knock her out,” she explained to Horace.

“Very well Mistress”, he replied, “I’ll go fetch the collar”.

Selene smiled and went back to her chair by the window as Horace dragged the unconscious Kiden out of the room. She picked up the list that she had left lying there. Looking at it she smiled and called to the departing servant.

“Horace make arrangements for me to travel to Genosha. Oh and inform Shinobi that I have something to discuss with him out there. Tell him to prepare for a visit from his Black Queen”.

—————- Dakota Smith’s Residence —————-

“Hello anyone home?” came a voice accompanied by a knocking on the door. After a period of silence the sound of keys turning in a lock could be heard. A young woman with long dark hair stepped into Dakota’s apartment.

“Dakota you here?” she called as she made her way through to the living room. “It’s me Cassie”. If that big dolt is lying sleeping or something I’m gonna give him a rude awakening. She walked toward the kitchen door and that’s when she heard the noise. It was like a gurgling sound, kind of like when you gargle water. She pushed open the door and looked in.

The scream tore from her lips before she had really fully registered what she had seen. There on the ground was Dakota, except he was looking very different. He was trying to flop about on the ground and for some reason couldn’t really move much. He had a sheen to his body that looked very unhealthy and he was lying in what appeared to be a big puddle of water, although the source of it escaped her.

“Oh God, Dakota are you okay, did you slip?” she asked dropping to her knees beside him.

His eyes locked on hers but all he could get out was that weird gargling sound she had heard when she had come in. It was coming from his mouth. “You must have a fever or something, you’re sweating loads,” she added. She suddenly heard a lot of noise coming from the living room she had just left. As she turned her head she was just in time to see a beautiful looking red haired woman enter the kitchen. The woman walked to the sink and lifted a cup from the draining board beside it. She then came over to the other side of Dakota and knelt down.

Cassie was completely bewildered; she had no idea who this woman was. “Um, who are you, do you know what’s wrong with him?” she asked the mystery woman.

Instead of answering her the woman addressed Dakota, leaning down to talk into his ear, “Hi Dakota, it’s Eve, I’m so sorry I couldn’t convince you earlier but you wouldn’t have listened”.

“Excuse me but who the hell are you, go phone an ambulance, I’ll stay here”, ordered Cassie, irritated by the woman’s blatant disregard for her.

Eve looked up at Cassie, blankly registering her presence. She called into the other room, “Have this woman removed please”.

Cassie stood up, about to go ballistic at this arrogant bitch that was ordering her about. Then she felt a strong hand on her shoulder, she spun around to see who it was and felt herself being picked up and thrown over a large man’s shoulders. “What the…? Let me go”, she creamed as the man began carrying her out the kitchen door. She looked at the woman who had called herself Eve and was enraged when she saw her smiling and waving goodbye.

“Let me go who the hell do you think you are?” she screeched as she was carried through the living room. As she punched the back of the man carrying her she noticed there were other men in the apartment. Some were fussing around what looked like a glass statue that was standing in a crate. It was quite large, larger than her but still person sized. It had golden trimmings around the joints and what looked like bulky gloves on the ends of the arms.

“What are all you people doing here?” she yelled at them as she was carried out of the door into the hallway. The large man set her down and she felt a sharp prick in her neck. “What did you just do, what’s happening to Dakota?” she yelled. Suddenly she staggered against the wall. The man walked back into the living room closing the door behind him. She staggered toward the door and fell on the floor instead. She felt herself getting very drowsy and eventually she passed out, the sedative in the dart the man had stuck in her neck taking effect.

Eve looked down at Dakota and smiled apologetically. “Dakota I know you can hear me and I also know you cannot talk right now. I was trying to tell you this earlier. You are a mutant, the people I work for discovered this about you a while ago, and you’re what we call latent. The offer I was talking about was an offer to help you. You see you’re mutation, well its not going to be pleasant. I’m so sorry; all I can do is offer you a chance at life. You’re body is converting to a liquid state and without my help you won’t survive. The people I work for have developed a suit that can contain you, keep you alive. I’ll only offer this once Dakota”.

Eve stood up and lifted the cup she had been holding. “Look Dakota, even as we speak you lose more of yourself”. She knelt back down and poured the water in the cup into his mouth. She could see him try to swallow but most of it dribbled down the sides of his face to join the increasing amount on the floor.

“Dakota I have the suit here, I can save you”, Eve said. “All I ask is that you work for me, for the people I represent. I promise if you do we will try to help you in anyway we can”.

She looked down into his wet face and smiled, “Just nod your head Dakota, nod your head and you will be fine. Trust me”.

Dakota managed to nod his head once making a gurgling noise as he did. Eve smiled and stroked his damp cheek, “Don’t worry Dakota you will find the Hellfire Club very agreeable”. She got up and walked into the living room.

“Have him fused with the suit”, she ordered the men waiting there. She walked out of the living room and stepping over the unconscious body of the girlfriend she walked outside. Taking out a piece of paper form her pocket she looked at he list of names there.

“One more down”, she smiled. Looking at the next name on the list she laughed. “Oh now this is interesting”, she laughed. Walking down the steps of the stoop she began to plan for a trip to Genosha.

Next: Hellfire #5 Genesis – It seems that someone on Genosha has attracted a lot of attention and both Selene and Eve are on a course to pick up the next person on Sebastian’s list. But what has his son Shinobi got to do with any of this? And when another unexpected mutant comes to Sebastian’s attention how far will he go to claim them as his?