Shit hit the fan in slow motion. The Thief in front of Scott froze, his shoulders shivering with tension. He raised his hands over his head, still in slow motion, and whispered the worst phrase in the English language.
Scott's blood turned to ice. His heart slowed as it always did in times of stress, that peculiar physiological quirk he shared with his father and Remy. When Remy turned around, expression grim, he mouthed the words that Scott already anticipated. "We gotta go."
Three darts appeared on the first Thief's jugular. Another dart embedded itself in his shoulder. He dropped like a sandbag.
"Idiotic gorilla," whispered Spat.
"What happened?" Scott asked Remy.
"He didn't do what I told him," said Remy. "Ego."
Well, he'd know a lot about that wouldn't he? "This is Cyclops. Abort mission. Abort mission." Scott grabbed Remy's collar as he turned to run.
"We got an early alert on the compound's computers. What the hell happened?" Wolverine demanded, his voice faint and broken by the building's interference.
"I think we tripped a silent alarm," said Scott. "We have one man down. I repeat, abort--"
"Gav!" he heard Jubilee cry through the commes.
Then, like a rubber band stretched to its limit, trouble descended in fast forward. The hallways thrummed with booted footsteps in all directions.
"Shit shit shit shit," Remy chanted. "Stupid fucks called everyone in the damn compound."
"Does this mean we get a refund?" asked Warren. "Even a partial-- aargh!" His voice cut on a pained grunt.
A troop of guards filed into the hallway. Scott flattened against the wall as Remy charged a handful of cards and threw them into the middle of the line. He dove for the ground, throwing more low charges as Scott shot off a series of high blasts.
"The hell was that?" Remy demanded.
"We don't take lives."
"You better tell them that." He swung his arm back, winding up to pitch more cards. Scott could tell that Remy meant to blow the ceiling down. He headed off half of the cards with his blasts then shot low and wide, whipping the guards' legs out from under them.
"I said no casualties," he snarled at Remy.
"Eat my shorts." He took lead out the corridor again but Scott didn't have time to reprimand him again.
"Status," he barked into the commes.
"Iceman's damaged but not down," said Wolverine. "Gav's hit bad. They shot us with something that jammed our powers."
Colossus' report had a hint more urgency. "We have one thief down. Whatever they hit us with, Angel's having a bad reaction to it, he's-- " Static drowned out the rest of the sentence but he came on again, sounding more assured. "We're in the water now, heading for the jet to prepare for take off. What else should we do?"
"You're doing fine," said Scott. "Get her ready to go on my command; we're at the first checkpoint now and should be-- shit!"
A volley of darts flew down the corridor. Remy slammed him against the wall even as he released several cards blindly behind him. Spat slid head first around the corner of the corridor, ensuring her safety. Wishing her luck on his escape, Scott wrenched his head over Remy's shoulder, searching for a target. A six-foot tall tornado with a cackling head whirled down the corridor. Darts and blades flew from the human tornado's funnel, showering the walls and floor with sharp metal. Scott opened his visor wide, blasting a long, hard shot in the target's mid-section. Only when the thud of a body dropped did he close the visor.
"Come on." He pushed Remy off.
Remy gasped. Reaching out to yank at his arm, Scott paused. Something was off.
Remy gasped again. His hands went to his throat as he scrabbled to remove his mask.
Quickly taking measure of the surroundings, Scott helped him. "Gambit? What's wrong?"
But the answer to his question was all too obvious. Blotchy redness washed over Remy's face. His lips were blue and his breathing laboured.
"Oh no no nonono." Scott spun his brother around, searching for those damned darts. They were tranquilizers. Fucking tranquilizers. He could have dealt with bullets, lasers, flame-throwers but not tranquilizers. "Hold still, Gambit. I'm looking for it. Dammit!"
There. One lone dart entering at an angle on Remy's back. An inch to the right and it would have glanced off the Kevlar but those darts must have been made for elephants because it went right through the leather. Scott drew it out and threw it down the hall.
"Where's your epi-pen?" he asked Remy.
Remy shook his head.
"You don't have it with you? Dammit, they said bring it everywhere and they mean every where! What--" He broke the tirade off. This wasn't going to do them any good. The jet had epinephrine shots but they were still ten minutes away from the door and at least another ten minutes to pilot the boat back to the jet considering Angel may not be able to fly Remy back. By that time, it would be too late. On the other hand, they just passed by a clinic which would undoubtedly have stores of the stuff in its shelves.
Scott slung one of Remy's arms around his neck. "Breathe slowly. Concentrate on expanding and deflating your chest okay?" As soon as Remy nodded, he led him back down the hallway. "We're going to get you some epinephrine but it's in the first checkpoint-- the clinic that we passed a couple yards back. You have to hang on until then."
Remy shook his head. "Have to. Escape. Reinforcements."
"We're going to escape," said Scott. "Just as soon as we take care of you. And the next time you don't bring your epi-pen, I'm going to kill you."
"Brought it. Broke. Felt crack."
"We're buying you an adamantium shot next time."
"For. Rock hard. Ass."
"Trust you to be egotistical at a time like this."
His comme crackled. Storm's voice came through, stiff with worry. "Everyone's accounted for except you and Gambit. What's your ETA?"
"Don't worry about that. Just make sure everyone gets in and you get the Bird in the air as scheduled."
"Cyclops, they are catching up to us."
"Then pull out, Storm. Use the emergency evac procedure."
A charged paused filled the airwaves. "We have a seven-minute window before their antiaircraft gets a lock."
"Acknowledged. Cyclops out." As he closed the clinic door, he told Remy, "Lean up against the wall while I look for your medicine."
"Fuh-fuh--" Remy couldn't get the word out any more; his throat was swollen to twice its normal size, his breath hissed although his mouth was wide open and he teetered on his legs. Scott nearly wrecked the cabinets in his search, one ear out for more guards and the other keeping track of Remy's breathing. Footsteps buffeted the floor on the other side of the door. Remy gurgled for air.
The fifth cabinet yielded gold. Scott snatched two vials of epinephrine then ran back to one of the first drawers he'd explored which held boxes of wrapped syringes and needles. There wasn't enough time to disinfect the injection site; assembling the shot already took up precious minutes.
The door rattled as Scott jabbed the needle into Remy's arm, his neck having gotten too large for any needle to penetrate. He prepped the other shot but as he did so, Remy's legs gave and he collapsed on the floor. A mechanical whine came from the hallway followed in seconds by a red beam. Scott knelt, Remy's head on his lap, and injected the second epinephrine shot an inch below the first one as a laser burned through the metal door.
"Work," Scott ordered as if the medicine could hear him much less obey.
Black and grey uniformed men walled off the exit as the door came down.
Without moving from his crouch, Scott fired an optic blast. The visor stayed open as he stood over Remy whose breathing remained laboured. He needed oxygen; he'd pass out soon without it. Scott had every intention of blowing away every person in this building until they let him alone long enough to find a ventilator for Remy.
An unseen hand batted his visor from his face. Scott automatically shut his eyes, facing away from Remy. His opponents cheered, sensing a quick defeat. They didn't know him too well. Knowing his visor was a weakness during combat, Scott often trained blindfolded. He grabbed the bo from Remy's belt then, quickly drew a circle between him and Remy and the rest of the hallway.
"You know kung-fu, four-eyes?" The taunt came from high one o' clock, approximately ten feet away. Scott turned his head in that direction and opened his eyes.
Two guards flew to the end of the hallway. Scott closed his eyes again. There was shuffling at five o' clock. He threw the bo back, arm stiff then twirled it back around as he spun on his heel to blast them away. The bo slid under and behind his arm to smack solidly against a rib cage. Scott twirled the bo again.
"So you think you're Chuck Norris, huh?" This new voice came directly at twelve o' clock. "That might work one-on-one. Let's see how you do with a dog pile."
Setting his lips, Scott swung the bo again in a wide arc. He nudged Remy with his foot as he swung the bo again, a location check. Still no one came forward. Their combined murmuring masked individual movements. The hallway's acoustics didn't help much either; the noises echoed in all directions.
"If I don't get my visor back," said Scott, "I'm just going to open my eyes and blast whoever and whatever's in my way. If you think I'm bluffing, please remember that I have nothing left to lose."
Silence met his demand.
Scott unleashed Armageddon.
He would have succeeded. He had Remy slung over his shoulders and was walking backwards to the exit, his eyes still open. The guards and their guns broke away to reveal a half dozen mutants in white uniforms. A woman with green hair stretched out her arms. Nausea staggered Scott but he gritted his teeth and glared at her. The blast threw her off her feet. As he shook the dizziness away, a purple-grey man elongated his entire upper body; he looked like animated tar. To the left, a behemoth began charging. Scott swept the hallway from right to left. The behemoth stumbled back but the tar guy reformed like nothing had hit him. Scott dodged the first fist but the second one wrapped around behind him and enveloped his head. He blasted it away. He would have succeeded.
But something cracked the back of his skull. Warmth spread over his entire body for a second before Scott blacked out.
Alex had just reached the island when the shit hit the fan. Shouting, gunfire and explosions filled his commelink as he leaned against a tree and dragged precious, precious oxygen to his weary muscles. After hooking up his commelink, it took a few seconds of concentration to filter out each individual voice. What he heard wasn't very comforting.
"Everyone's accounted for except you and Gambit. What's your ETA?" asked Storm. She sounded slightly preoccupied; she was probably frying people with lightning. Alex wondered what lighting would do to an underground room that seemed to be metal-plated.
"Don't worry about that," came Scott's voice. "Just make sure everyone gets in and you get the Bird in the air as scheduled."
"Cyclops, they are catching up to us."
"Then pull out, Storm. Use the emergency evac procedure."
"We have a seven-minute window before their antiaircraft will get a lock."
"Acknowledged. Cyclops out."
Wait, wait, wait.
Scott wasn't doing what Alex thought he was doing, was he?
It was time to break his silence. "What's going on?"
"Who is this?" demanded Wolverine.
"Get off the fucking airwaves, kid. We have to maintain--" The rest was lost on a feral growl.
"Alex, tell the professor that we had to abort the mission," said Storm. "Angel, Iceman and Gav are injured; Cyclops and Gambit have been compromised. We will attempt to retrieve them ASAP."
"What went wrong?"
"Our powers were dampened," said Storm. "They injected many of us with something that prevented us from accessing our full powers. The numbers we could have dealt with, but this... chemical inhibitor." She sounded lost. It occurred to Alex that Storm was one of the few people in the school who obviously loved their mutation.
"So what now?" he asked.
"Now we regroup and plan another retrieval. They will be twice as prepared now, first with Gaveedra's escape and now with the break-in. We will need to--" She stopped. Alex could practically hear her massaging her temples. "Please inform the professor that we need to debrief in order to plan our next move. We are two hours and six minutes from arrival."
"I'd love to do that, Storm, except I'm not in the mansion." Alex took stock of his surroundings. "I seem to be two miles southeast of the Drop-Off C and, damn, whatever it is that you guys did, it's making a hell of a plume this far."
"What?" Storm shouted. The clouds gathered far in the horizon presumably where the Blackbird was although with its speed and cloaking device, Alex couldn't be sure. "We're turning back around right now."
"You may want to rethink that, Storm. It sounds to me like they fired anti-aircraft. Even if they don't hit you, the smoke could give your position away or the shockwaves throw off your clocking. I'll be fine."
"You are a civilian," said Storm.
"Technically, I'm a military brat," said Alex. "We're a helluva lot more resilient than civilians."
"You're wasting time turning around! Get help. I'll scope out the defensive additions and report when you come back."
Hisses and mumbles came through the airwaves, maybe Logan and the others discussing. When Storm came back on, she was curt. "Do not attempt to confront the guards. You're there simply to collect information, understood?"
"If Cyclops doesn't flay you for disobeying orders, I will do it myself. We aren't related; your body cannot negate my powers."
"Yes, ma'am. Understood, ma'am."
She added something along the lines of "finally understand why Scott gets so upset" but she cut the connection before the sentence ended.
It took everything Adam had not to say anything when he saw one of the targets emit an optic blast. Telepaths were a dime a dozen in the pens, super-strength practically mediocre and energy converters of every sort made up a large portion of the mutant/clone population he'd met, real or virtual. No one else had optic blasts except Scott.
Hanging back, he looked around for some way to help. Smooth concrete hallways faced him at all sides without even the quintessential fire alarm to use as a distraction. Adam fingered the pistols in his leg holsters. Bullets flew everywhere. If one or two of the troops were shot--
A video camera blinked red as he unsnapped the holsters. Okay, so this could be on video. Maybe if he upped the klutz factor, they wouldn't suspect him as much.
"Wooohoo! Let me at a piece of that!" Adam shouldered his way through the ranks, waving his pistols. Firing one shot over his head for effect, he shot two more down the hall. "Whoops."
"X-treme, stand down!" yelled Scalphunter. "Let the more experienced take care of this."
Adam jutted his chin out. "Go on, you science fair rejects," he said under his breath. "Keep on treating me like a baby. That's just the way I like it."
Pressed in the back of the troop, nearly invisible in the uproar, Adam managed to shoot five more targets. He tried to tell himself that he only disabled them; no one ever died of a bullet in the leg. And besides, Scott was in trouble. It was okay to shoot people if Scott was in trouble.
The humidity in Hawai'i did little to prepare Alex for the Genoshan jungle. He was no survivalist; no way would he have been able to find his way into the facility just using a compass and a mental map. Instead, he walked along the beach, figuring he'd hit the port that Gav had used to escape. It was as close to a weak point that he could figure. In the movies, the place would have one hidden weak spot that they could blow up but Alex wasn't counting on anything easy. Summers' didn't do easy.
Forty-five minutes of jogging later, he found the port. He also found the loudly populated village that surrounded the port. Gav hadn't mentioned that in his report although Alex couldn't figure out how something this classically National Geographic could be missed. Men and women sauntered through dirt streets carrying cloth-covered baskets, chatting as they went about their daily routine. Kids played with sticks and bike wheels. A speckled dog yipped as it chased unseen prey. All the scene needed was an Oxford-accented narration. So much for an unobserved look around.
Alex had two options: to jog back to the beach or find a way around the village. The choice was a no-brainer. He crawled backwards on his stomach to stay out of view until he reached the edges of the jungle. Then, keeping the beach visible on his left but making sure to keep enough foliage between him and the shore, he walked in the direction of the village, trying not to think of venomous animals, bogs and giant mosquitoes, never mind the mad scientists.
Approaching the village took longer because of all the precautions. Somewhere between the long-ass snake coiled around a branch a foot away and the growing weight of the SIG Saur, the enormity of his stupidity hit Alex. He wasn't a mobster or a vigilante for mutant liberation; he was a geology student with an inflated sense of importance; an unusual talent for martial arts and an ex-jock did not a commando make. If these guys managed to take down his brothers, they could take him down with their eyes closed and that made him want to shit his pants.
Alex crouched behind the village, uncertain of his next action. Should he just sit here and take in information? Should he double back and wait for reinforcements? Or should he continue recon for the rest of the island?
A villager literally held the decision in his hands as he emerged from a doorless hut with a friend. A black, reinforced leather and Kevlar jumpsuit hung over his arm, one sleeve missing. Half of the subtle "X" piping showed, red like Scott's suits.
"I reckon this would make a good bike vest," the villager told his friend. "The subject won't need it any more and it's damn fine material."
"Too fine," said the friend. "If someone recognizes the make, it'll get your ass in shit. That's providing the bosses don't make you eat it. Just toss it in the incinerator like you're told."
"Do you know how much this much Kevlar goes for? This is SHIELD-quality shit. Besides, its previous owner's permanent vat mix."
"Fine, keep it. Just don't blame me when you get your ass fired. Literally."
Alex followed the pair as they strolled further north.
"We've had escapes before," said the one holding the X-Men uniform. "If the brainchips don't finish 'em off, the collars do."
"Speaking of which, did you see what they did with the muties that escaped?"
"No, they keep me with the vats."
"I heard they have the collars and the vats working them over. Cold huh?"
"Not surprising. Between getting beat and beating on your own people, everyone chooses the path of less pain."
The air nudged a long-dormant memory that Remy had no desire to awaken. He opened his eyes to frightening sterility. The nightmare-ish scent came from a mask covering the lower half of his face. Tubes and wires disappeared into his arms and chest. He felt one of the fluids leak into his veins. Knowing how dangerous those drugs could be to his system, he tried to yank the tubes off but found that he couldn't move.
Monotone blobs wiggled in and out of his vision. Remy blinked. The blurs moved across his field of view, never coalescing into whole images. Blindness didn't usually bother Remy; he'd had to operate in complete darkness many times. But that combined with the tubes and the whirring of machines did bad, bad things to his blood pressure.
Move, move, move, he willed his body but nothing happened.
The mechanical sound drew closer. The liquid around him-- oh shit, he was under water?-- lapped around his body like a large, obscene tongue. He shuddered, feeling bile come up his throat. If you threw up under water, would you drown from the vomit or the water?
The source of the whirring rose into view. It was a sleek piece of machinery that looked like the brainchild of H.R. Giger and the makers of the Dirt Devil. Banded coils slithered around his legs as the machine rose higher and higher. It stopped right in front of his groin.
Okay, on second thought, I'd like to go into anaphylactic shock now please.
With a click, the machine snapped between his legs. On the upper surface of the machine, a series of red and green lights flashed. Remy tried not to scream. He couldn't even if he wanted to because there was yet another tube forced down his throat, gagging his voice box. The machine opened and he had the impression of gel-like compartments surrounding the ol' sausages and eggs before his mind blanked out for a few seconds as it tried to process what the fucking hell was going on.
The machine was...
Okay. Okay, clinically, it was everything that should feel good and give a guy an orgasm. A warm, moist, soft compartment; a gentle sucking; up-and-down motion around his shaft; there was even something poking around his prostate which wasn't new but not something his lovers did often. Technically, this was the best damn blowjob in his life.
It was just being done by a vacuum cleaner. That wasn't his thing. So it was unsurprising when, even after several minutes of stimulation, Remy was only half-hard. Evidently, the machine took umbrage to that because he felt a tiny needle prick at the top of his thigh, right into his femoral artery. Heat pooled out of the injection site. Remy's breathing deepened, his pulse quickening. Despite himself, his erection grew and the machine's ministration responded to it. A familiar tightening began low on his abdomen.
It fucking gave me a roofie, Remy thought, pretty much on the brink of hysteria. A vacuum has just given me a roofie and is about to rape me. Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick.
He detached himself from reality in time for the first forced ejaculation. Hours later, he still didn't know how to get back.