Working Title- Jen’s Story: Chapter Four

The rest of breakfast was rather awkward, but otherwise it wasn’t noteworthy. I took Alex back to his mother’s home when we’d finished, and then began my drive back to the MRA base.

Once I was alone, my mind began working overtime to process everything that I’d been trying to ignore for the last several days. Things just weren’t adding up. Why hadn’t the mutey, if Sarah really was killed by a mutant, used their power to do her in? Why was she shot?

Where had the gun come from? If there was a registered firearm at the address we were going to, it would have been mentioned in the briefing. However, our commander mentioned no such gun to us, which meant that either the gun was an illegal one, of that it was one of ours.

“I’ll ask the commander about that,” I murmured, exiting the highway and making my way down the small road that led to the base. It was a lonely winding road, and I had often enjoyed the solitude as I drove on it.

It’s so nice to be alone sometimes, I thought, relaxing slightly and slowing to match the new speed limit. Suddenly something occurred to me, and I swerved to the side of the road violently.

Sarah was alone when I found her, I thought. She was alone, and I didn’t see anyone else on my way in. That’s not standard protocol. She should have been guarded by at least one person, even if the squad had split up.

                With trembling hands I yanked my notebook out of my purse, and flipped through it. A loose sheet of paper fluttered out, and I fumbled with it as I caught it.

In Sarah’s messy scrawl were four solitary words. As I read them, I felt as though all of the blood had drained out of my body.

“Don’t trust Iron Silk.”

When we’d been assigned to our squadron, Sarah had taken it upon herself to nickname everyone, so she could talk about them without them knowing. I’d laughed at her, but then I’d learned the nicknames anyhow.

Iron Silk was her nickname for the commander. Sarah had explained her reasoning to me- “He’s from the South, and he’s been raised to be a gentleman,” she’d said. “Southern gentlemen are bred to be an iron fist in a silk glove.”

Why shouldn’t I trust him? I wondered, flipping to the page I had doodled on during the funeral. It occurred to me that Sarah liked to leave notes in sneaky ways, and I traded my pen in for a pencil.

Carefully I shaded the page, looking for anything. The indents from Sarah’s note appeared, and then at the bottom of the page was a single word.

“Traitor”

I set the pad of paper aside and sat in my car, thinking. Did Sarah mean that our commander was a traitor? Was she referring to herself? Or maybe to me? But that made no sense.

What should I do? I wondered, resting my head against the headrest. Sarah told me not to trust the commander, and I can’t go any further above him without him finding out.

                I studied the road ahead of me, feeling trapped and confused. The notes Sarah had left made no sense and I felt like the entire thing was beyond my comprehension, let alone control.

I need a plan, I thought, determined to change my current status of helplessness. What do I need to do? Find out who, and why, Sarah told me not to trust, and who she called a traitor. How can I do that?

My frustration was growing the longer I sat there. It was like I’d hit a dead end.

I won’t get any answers by sitting here, I thought, turning the car on. I’ll ask the commander about the gun thing. See how he reacts. Do a little digging. Play it by ear.

Quickly I pulled back onto the road and made my way back to base. A churning in my stomach that had nothing to do with my drinking the previous night had started, and I almost wanted to throw up again.

Don’t waste those pancakes, I thought determinedly. They tasted pretty good going down, and I can guarantee they won’t be anywhere near as good coming back up. Besides, they didn’t cost you anything. You can’t just waste a free breakfast.

I parked my car, and turned my keys in at the office, signing myself back onto the premises. The lady at the desk looked up at me oddly- with a mix between boredom, sympathy and curiosity written on her face.

“You went to the funeral, didn’t you?” she asked, staring at me, scrutinizing my face for any betrayal of emotion.

“Yeah,” I said.

“You going to be okay?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said again, forcing a grin this time. It felt odd on my face, like a leer, and I let it fade away.

“Good to hear it, sweetie,” she said, looking away. “I have a note here, telling you to report to Commanding Officer Murphy’s office ASAP.” I grimaced, and a slightly dry smile crossed her face.

“You sure you’re going to be okay?”

“Yeah,” I said. “What’s the worst that can happen to me?”

“You don’t want me to answer that,” she said, turning away from me, her swivel chair squeaking under her.

“No, I don’t suppose I do,” I said with a sigh as I left the office. And you don’t even know the half of it, I added silently.

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Chapter One to other nameless story

“You’re looking especially beautiful tonight,” my boyfriend whispered to me. I smiled up at him as we came to a stop outside of my door. “I guess we should say goodnight.”

“Do we have to?” I asked, leaning into him, my hands on his chest, sliding down the slick leather.

“I don’t think your daddy would be all to happy with me if I didn’t get you home by curfew,” he said, grinning. Then he leaned in and kissed me.

I jerked back in shock, a gasp escaping from between my lips. Pain, unlike any I’d ever experienced shot through my heart and body. He stared at me, confused.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered, seeing the hurt in his eyes. “I’m sorry.” I leaned in to kiss him again.

The moment our lips touched it was like a surge of hurt pulsing through me. I pulled away, covering my mouth with my hands. What’s happening? What’s going on? I thought, trying to push away the pain.

Images and blurry memories filled my vision, memories that weren’t mine. A man, hitting me with a paddle, again and again, cussing me out with every swing. A twisted ankle in the middle of a football game. A throbbing in my head. A girl yelling at me, then slapping me before turning and walking away.

“Kelly, are you okay?” he asked, gripping me by my upper arm. I looked up at him, surprised to feel wetness on my face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”

“I don’t know,” I whispered.

“Are you okay?” he asked me again, urgently.

“I’ll be okay,” I lied, drying my face. Pain, both physical and emotional had filled my body, and although it had numbed a little now, it was still a dull throbbing ache in every fiber of my being. I leaned against him, wanting nothing more than to be comforted.

“Should I knock?” he asked, concern written all over his face. “You don’t look too good.”

“I’m fine,” I insisted, straightening up. I knew that if my parents saw me like this, they’d think that he’d done something. I reached for my house key, fumbling with the button on my coat pocket. Finally I got it out, and I hurriedly unlocked the door, with shaking hands.

“You’re white as a sheet. You sure you’re okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine.”

“I don’t believe you,” he said.

“You don’t have to,” I said, pushing the door and turning to look at him again. Guilt sliced through the pain like a dull knife, that I had pulled away from him twice in pain.”I’m sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” he asked as I closed the door behind me. “Kel, you just can’t do that!”

I didn’t care. I wanted to get away before I started crying again. I felt positively miserable. I didn’t know why, I just wanted to make it stop.

“Kelly, is that you, sweety?” my mom called from the living room.

“Yeah, mom,” I said, making my way to the steps, moving quickly.

“How was your date?” she asked.

“It was great,” I said, hoping my voice didn’t betray me.

“That boy leave already?” dad asked, also from the living room.

“Yeah.”

“Good,” he grunted, and I made my escape up the stairs, three at a time. When I shut my door I finally let myself cry, sliding the the floor.

Everything had started out good. We’d had supper, gone to see a movie. Then he took me for ice cream, and brought me home. Everything had been good. Great, even. He’d treated me gently, sweetly, and with respect. He hadn’t tried anything. That kiss had been the first time he’d even touched me anywhere but my hands or upper arm.

I covered my face with my hands as I tried to figure out what was going on. It didn’t make sense. It was almost as if it was the kiss that had caused this pain. Everything had been fine before that.

I’ll take a shower, and then I’ll go to bed, I told myself, trying to catch my breath between sobs. I was calming down slightly, though I still hurt. I forced myself up, and went through the motions of my night time routine, zombie like.

I cried myself to sleep that night. The first time out of many nights to come. My life had changed that night.

The next morning I went to school. I was antsier than I had been in a long time, all day, jerking away from the smallest touch and jumping at even small noises. My friend caught me in the cafeteria, where I was sitting alone at lunch time.

“What’s going on?” she demanded, sitting down across from me. I stared at her blankly. “Come on, don’t play dumb. You’re acting weird. Did something happen on your date last night?”

“No, not exactly,” I said.

“Oh come on, either it did or it didn’t,” she said, impatiently, leaning forward.

“Well, something weird happened last night,” I muttered, stabbing the rather unattractive fettuccine with my fork. It looked even less edible than normal, and it made my stomach turn, just looking at it.

“What happened?” she asked. Avoiding her stare, I started to explain.

“Well, when he kissed me good night-”

“He kissed you? Is he a good kisser?” I glared at her, and she blushed. “Sorry, continue.”

“When he kissed me, it was like things that had hurt him hurt me.”

“What?” she breathed out, surprised. “What do you mean?”

“It’s like the memories of things that had hurt him came into me. At least that’s as near as I can figure.”

“So, like, telepathy? Like he shared his memories?”

“I don’t know,” I muttered, dropping my fork. My hands were shaking again, and I ran my fingers through my hair, staring at the table miserably. “But I’ve hurt since then.”

“What do you mean, hurt?”

“It’s like they happened to me,” I said, trying to think of how to explain the gut wrenching pain. “It’s like I went through it.”

“So you’re ampethizing with it?” she asked.

“Empathizing,” I corrected. “And no. It’s like I was the one they happened to. Like it was real.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” she said, reaching across the table and patting my hand, which was now resting on it. Her touch felt like a burn, and more pain washed through my body again. I gasped out, and slid my hands back into myself.

“What is it?” she asked.

“It happened again, just now,” I whimpered, closing my eyes and willing myself to not cry. Fresh memories crowded my mind, her memories. It was like a film of the most painful memories in her life. I looked up at her, pity filling me.

“I didn’t know that you hurt that badly about George,” I muttered. She blinked at me blankly.

“What’re you talking about?”

“George,” I said. “Your ex. The one who cheated on you.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said, looking confused. “What are you talking about? I’m not upset by him. I mean, I am a little, but I don’t-” suddenly her eyes got big. “You took my hurt, when I touched you.”

New Story Idea- TO BE NAMED STILL- Introduction

For years I have struggled to believe in a loving god of any kind. If God cared about us, why would he let there be so much pain in the world? It can’t be good to hurt as badly as I have. And I, of all people, should know exactly what hurt is.

You see, I was born with a genetic flaw. I have an excess gene, one that normal people don’t have. This gene has caused instability to my genetic makeup, giving me what you might call a “super power.” What is this power? I can take or give hurt simply by touching someone.

I’m like a sponge. If you touch my skin, I will absorb your hurts, any and all of the pain you feel. I take it away from you and you feel it no more. The worst part is that I can’t stop it, though I have tried.

The reverse is also true. When I am angry, or full of other emotions, it will all pour out of me, onto whoever I touch. I can hurt you deeply without a weapons. I can destroy you, crush you completely, without even trying to.

You probably can’t imagine what it feels like to carry all of this brokenness inside. That’s why I’m writing this for you. That, and if I don’t get these feelings out of me somehow, I’m going to go crazy in a bad way. This is my record, my last bond to sanity.

Danae’s Story- Chapter 7

Once we had gotten back to the hideout and had helped the Mexican VI4C members get moved in and acquainted with their rooms, I made a point of hunting down Nikto. I was not entirely sure of what I’d say or do to him, but I was slightly upset.

When I had volunteered to fight Duarte, I had volunteered to fight Duarte alone. Nikto should have intervened when Casilde had attacked, but he didn’t.

I barged into his room to have two of his puppets, one of the a prototype for a design I called the “assassin”, try to attack me. With a wave of my hand, the went spinning backwards through the air.

“Nikto,” I growled, angry. He looked up from his work and sighed.

“Haven’t you ever heard of knocking?” he asked, closing the notebook and setting his pen down. “I would have answered.”

“Sure you would have,” I snapped, my exhaustion getting the better of my judgement. “Just like you intervened when the girl jumped me.”

“Tell me,” he said calmly, sitting still and studying me. “Did you or did you not manage to defeat her?”

“I did, but-”

“I would have intervened if you hadn’t had it under control,” he said calmly.

“When?” I demanded. “Once she killed me? Because, let me tell you something, that would have been too late.”

“Danae, would you calm down and stop being so unreasonable?” Nikto asked, sounding slightly frustrated. “You’d be mad even if I had intervened. Ah-” he cut off my arguments with a raised hand “-don’t deny it. You’d be fussing about how I didn’t let you prove yourself and how you had the situation under control.” I stared at him, seething.

He was right and I knew it. That didn’t mean that I had to like it though. I turned on my heal and stormed out of his room.

From there I went to take a shower and to make myself something small to eat, before I fell asleep. As I pulled my tunic off, I cringed at the marks the mirror showed me.

Fine red lines crossed all over my arms and sides, places where I had been scratched with the blade, but hadn’t bled badly if at all. Five livid lines that were tinged purple stood out on my belly , where Casilde had clawed me with her fingernails. I had a shallow gash along my breast bone, too, from her furious attacks.

Innumerable bruises covered my arms, chest, stomach and legs, and a jagged and slightly deeper cut ran from my left hip to just under my right shoulder blade. I grimaced as I cleaned my wounds, and then carefully bound my torso, trying to prevent the wounds from bleeding as I slept.

The next morning I awoke to an odd smell, and I rolled out of bed, worried that someone was trying to burn down the hideout. I hurried to the kitchen, following the scent without bothering to brush my hair,, which was standing every which way.

The scene that met my eyes as I stepped into the kitchen was a surprising one. All of the Mexican VI4C stood around the kitchen, laughing and chattering eagerly in Spanish.

Adelita and the second oldest girl, Maria, were standing by the stove, cooking. I heard a slight noise from behind me, and I glanced over to see Nikto surveying the scene with equal shock. His hair was still damp from the shower and I suspected that he had rushed through his morning routine to investigate the smell as well.

“Good morning,” Nikto said, crossing his arms and surveying the scene like it happened every morning. It probably would, but that was another matter all together.

Maria’s hand jerked as she jumped. Obviously she had been previously unaware of our presence. A bowl that she had been mixing something in slipped off the counter, and in the blink of an eye Adelita had caught it and replaced it on the counter, before returning to her place at the stove in mere moments.

I glanced at Nikto out of the corner of my eye, and saw that he had an extremely smug smile on his face. That annoyed me slightly. We hadn’t discussed who had what power with any of the new members, yet that had to have been what he was smirking about. It was almost like he expected Adelita to have a power like superspeed.

Why do I care so much if he tells me what he’s thinking, or not tell me for that matter? I wondered, surprised by the realization. Why does it bug me? I sighed, trying to get a hold of myself. It was too early in the morning to wing out over stupid things.

I couldn’t get so upset about him keeping secrets from me, particularly as I knew that he owed me nothing. If anything, I owed him, for the clothes, the food and the home.

Suddenly it all clicked, and I leaned against the table, which I had moved to without thinking. It was all about trust.

Steppe had kept secrets, and it was part of his control over the entirety of the USA branch of the VI4C. You could be loyal to the VI4C for years, and then he’d decide that you were an inconvenience, or that you knew too much. He ruled by fear, by keeping us dependent on him, on the chance that he would spare us the fate that we’d all meet sooner or later.

No one really trusted Steppe, and because we all knew that he would betray you as soon as look at you. I felt as though I had been betrayed by the whole of the VI4C when he had turned on me, even though I had said and done some things in my anger that had triggered it.

Even after Steppe’s betrayal, while I was at the hospital, one of the doctors had been extremely kind to me in my muddled state. They must have all known from the moment they took a blood sample from me that I was a mutant, so I would be handed over to the CAMM agents. They had betrayed me in that way, and I had been too stoned at the time for the full force to hit me.

I glanced at Nikto again. My head felt clearer than it had for days, and I almost felt relieved by my new understanding. Nikto met my stare, looking a little concerned.

“Danae, what’s wrong?” he asked, leaning over. “You’re all pale, and you’re trembling.” I raised a hand to wipe away a little bit of sweat from my neck, aware that he was right.

“Can I have a word with you?” I said, my voice uneven. “In private?”

“Sure,” he said, standing up. “Let’s go.” I followed him out of the room, and he led me to the gym-like training room. After he had closed the door securely, he turned to face me. “What’s up?”

“I- I don’t know how to say this,” I said. “For that matter, I don’t know where to start.”

“The beginning usually works well,” he said, studying me. I laughed harshly.

“It’s not that simple,” I said, running a hand through my hair. “Alright. How about this. Do you trust me?”

“What?” he said, obviously surprised. “Yes, of course I trust you. From what I’ve seen, you’re loyal and trustworthy.”

“Prove it,” I said, crossing my arms. “Be honest with me.”

“I am being honest, Danae. I’ve been freely honest about anything and everything you’ve asked me.” Nikto looked a little hurt, and I took a deep breath to steady myself. “Maybe even more honest than you.” I opened my eyes to glare at him.

“And how honest do you want me to be?” I asked coldly, my ever present temper getting the best of me yet again. “Is it my whole life story that you want? Do you want to know how many I’ve killed? How long I’ve been a monster?” Nikto blinked, shocked at my sudden anger. I bit my lip, feeling like I’d said too much.

“I don’t need to know everything, Danae,” he said, his tone soothing. “I trust that you have your reasons for keeping quiet, and that when the time is right, you’ll be able to tell.” I turned away, feeling like a huge idiot.

My pride wouldn’t let me apologize, but I couldn’t just walk away. I was confused, torn. I had no idea what to say. Nikto placed a hand on my shoulder.

“Look, we both ought to eat something,” he said. “Why don’t you go and get dressed, and I’ll make us some scrambled eggs. How’s that sound?”

“Fine,” I mumbled, feeling like a total toerag. Twice in the last twenty-four hours I had flown off my handle at him. Twice he had soothed me. My period must be coming, I thought glumly as he walked away. That’s got to be the reason I’m so on edge.

I went and got dressed, and then I shoveled down my scrambled eggs while avoiding Nikto’s worried and confused stares. From there, I escaped into the gym, when I contented myself with beating up a punching bag.

I had been in there for a half an hour when I heard them slip into the training room, and I chose to ignore them until after I had sent the punching bag  spinning in a spiral towards the ceiling. I didn’t bother to turn to face them when I spoke, so I didn’t know who it was.

“Yes?” my tone was brusque. I was still upset about my fight with Nikto, if you could call it that, and the training hadn’t helped matters any. The fact that I was starting to feel bloated was decidedly not helping matters either.

“We were wondering if you could, maybe, teach us to fight like you do.” It was Adelita’s voice, and I guessed that Maria was with her. Those two stuck together, and it was almost unnerving how close they seemed to be.

I turned, shocked. The two girls were standing by the door awkwardly, and Maria looked a little afraid of me. Just then the punching bag swung back down, the chain making ugly noises, and I ducked. It barely missed my head by two centimeters, and I threw out an arm to stop it, and I made a mental note to check on the chain later. I didn’t like the noises coming from it.

“You want me to teach you how to fight,” I repeated numbly. Adelita nodded.

“You are really brave, and very strong,” she said, her tone steady even though she looked like she was just as nervous as Maria. “You defeated Duarte and Casilde, and they were our best fighters.”

“So you want to be like me?” I asked, surprised. “You want to become a killing machine, a monster, like I am?”

“What you’ve done isn’t what you are,” Adelita said, meeting my challenging stare easily. I snorted, but I filed away what she’d said for me to think about later.

I wasn’t proud of the things I’d done, particularly the things I’d done on Steppe’s orders, but I had assumed that that was an unavoidable part of me. I had killed, so I became a killer, though murderess might be more accurate in a lot of cases. Now this girl, who knew very little about me, was telling me that I wasn’t necessarily a killer.

“I won’t be easy on you,” I warned. I was slightly reluctant to take on the role of trainer for anyone, but these girls needed to learn how to fight, and there was no one better for the job.

“I know,” Maria said, surprising me.

“Do you think that Duarte went easy on us?” Adelita asked at the same time, her tone incredulous.

“No,” I answered, smiling. This could be very interesting, I thought. “We’ll start tomorrow morning, before breakfast. Meet me here.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Adelita said, grinning as she and Maria left the room. I sighed and crossed the room to where I had set a cup of water, and took a sip, thinking about what Adelita had said.

I had been a killer since I was ten years old. I remembered the look on Dan’s face when he’d found out what I’d done vividly. He’d been so disappointed, and that had seared into my mind and conscious, leaving me feeling guilty over doing what I had.

He had only wanted the best for me, and he had tried to protect me. He had done everything for me, even dying for my choices, because I had refused to leave my chosen path of violence, and he didn’t want to leave me.

I wish you were here now, Dan, I thought. So you could tell me what I should do with my life. I wish that you were here, Dan. I wish that you knew what I’m thinking now. I wish I had chosen a different thing. I turned to face the gym, and I closed my eyes.

Questions overwhelmed me. What am I doing with my life? Should I stick with this? Who am I, in this world, even? Where should I go? What defines me, if actions don’t?

The door to the gym opened, and my eyes flew open. Nikto stood in the doorway, looking not at all surprised to see me. He smiled slightly and crossed the room to the keypad.

“I was expecting you here,” he said, typing in a combination. I didn’t answer, and he continued. “Would you like to train with me?”

“Sure,” I said, feeling listless. “Why not? That seems to be all I’m known for- my fighting skills.” He shot me a surprised look as the punching bag was pulled up into the ceiling by a levy and covered by a panel.

“Which kind of training do you want?” he asked, studying me. “Armed combat? Hand-to-hand? Powers only?”

“Let’s go with powers,” I said, my mood becoming far more negative the longer we talked. He nodded and stepped away from the keypad, raising a hand. Three of the puppets he used, Blasters and a lighter design that I had made recently, rose from the corner where we had left them, and the one he stored my weapons in approached me.

I took my weapons from it, and slid the sheaths on. Within moments I was ready, and he began.

The Blaster shot several rounds of bullets at me, and I blew them apart in mid-air. At the same time, one of the puppets that I had designed circled around to behind me. I heard a soft puff of air as it shot a dart loaded with a sedative at me, and I bet the tip of the dart back on itself.

Nikto suddenly jerked his hand back, hard. The puppets flew over to him, and I studied them, unsure of what would happen next. In all of our practices Nikto had never given me a chance to breath between his attacks.

What’s your problem? I thought, scolding myself. You can’t expect him to use the same routines in a fight. Make a plan, Danae. Think.

Suddenly I realized why he had done that. I heard the inner parts of a flash bomb engage, and I squeezed my eyes closed. The light still showed through my eyelids, and I saw spots against the red of my skin.

Blinded, I was forced to rely on my other senses to fight him. On the bright side, I didn’t have to worry about Nikto using the Blasters to attack me. If he couldn’t see through his own eyes, that limited his attack methods.

I knew that he’d still be able to use the other design, though. When we’d worked on it initially, he had asked for a slot where the eyes would be on a face, explaining that he could “see” what his puppets saw in the back of his mind.

Cautiously I stretched out my hands, ready to crush the puppet if need be. I knew that I would be able to sense it because of my power before it struck, but I really didn’t want to destroy it, not after how much work I had put into it.

A puppet dropped from above, and I caused the part that was nothing but blades to fall off. I caught the now harmless puppet and ran my hands over the slit, moving a thin layer of metal over the eye. I then threw it in the vague direction of the Blaster puppets, that were hanging back, on the edge of my range. I heard it connect with something, and they clattered to the floor out of my range.

By this point in time, my vision was beginning to come back, although it was admittedly splotchy. I glanced around the room, wondering why Nikto had let me trash the puppets so easily.

Nikto himself stood in the center of the room, his eyes still closed. His hands were at his sides, and he was paler than usual.

“You okay?” I asked awkwardly as he slowly opened his eyes, blinking furiously.

“Yeah,” he said, rubbing his forehead. “I just have a little headache. Do you want to keep going?”

“No,” I said, glancing at the puppets. “I  need to fix the puppets anyhow.” He nodded, and I couldn’t stifle the worry that was steadily growing. “Are you sure you’re alright?”

“I’m fine,” he said, turning to walk to the door. “And I need to talk to the Mexican VI4C. You coming with, General?” I froze.

“General?” It came out as a squeak. He stopped, chuckling at my shock.

“I told you that I trusted you. You’re the first of my recruits, and my second in command,” he said. “Coming?”

“Sure,” I said, following him out of the gym. I was beginning to feel better again. Maybe my doubts were just PMS after all.

Danae’s Story- Chapter 6

Apparently pigs learned how to fly within the next two months, because I found myself standing in the middle of some Mexican slum, waiting while Nikto attempted to speak to someone in very broken Spanish. I shuddered slightly as I felt the eyes of the natives on me, and I rubbed my forearm, feeling the blade that I had encased in a leather arm guard.

Nikto approached me and smiled cheerfully. I sighed, a bad feeling growing in the pit of my stomach.

“Turns out they’re at the end of this stretch,” he said quietly, shoving his hands into his pockets. “It would also seem that they’re the protectors of this slum, from the police.”

“Oh, great,” I said, glancing around. “People are watching us. It’s obvious that we’re not from here. If we take down their leader-”

“Don’t worry about it,” Nikto said. They don’t seem to like him too much.” I sighed, and he turned to walk towards the biggest building, what seemed to be a large shed-sized wooden structure.

A girl about my height slipped out of the building, and she called something out in Spanish, a warning or some type, I’d guess. Nikto shrugged.

“No habla Espanol,” he said, stopping about a yard away from her. “American.”

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “We hove no shipment ready.”

“Shipment?” I muttered to Nikto. He motioned for me to be quiet.

“We aren’t here for a shipment,” he said to her. “We need to speak to your leader.” She froze, suspicious.

“Who are you?” she asked, watching us suspiciously.

“We’re mutants,” he said. “The Legion.”

“Legion?” she repeated, confused. “Uno momento.” With that she vanished into the building. A couple of moments later we heard a couple of people discussing something in loud voices, obviously in Spanish. A moment later she reappeared.

“Come,” she said, looking unhappy about something. “Duarte wants to speak to you.” Nikto followed her inside with me on his heels.

There was no electricity inside the building, but I could see that is was a lot bigger than what it seemed from the outside. Nine people were inside, excluding Nikto and myself, sitting or standing around the edges of the room. I noticed that there were only three female members, in sharp contrast to the US VI4c, which was pretty heavily female.

A short, but well built, scarred man stepped forward, eying us. Just from looking at him, I could tell that he’d had a hard life of fighting, though he couldn’t have been much older than I was, and even with the scars he looked really nice.

“American mutants,” he said, his dark eyes moving from Nikto to me. He turned to the who had shown us in and asked her something.

“Duarte wants to know your name,” she said hesitantly. “And why you only brought a woman with you.” My eyes narrowed as I stroked my arm guards, disliking this man.

“My name is Nikto,” he said calmly. “And Danae is my best fighter. She can take care of herself.” The girl translated for Duarte, the leader, and he studied me intensely, before dismissing me. Through the girl’s translations, they began to speak.

“What do you want? Adelita said that you don’t want the drug shipment, but we can get you the best drugs, if that’s what you want.”

“I’m not here for drugs. I’m here to offer you the chance to join the Legion, a new group of mutants who will change the world.”

“We don’t want a new group.” Duarte crossed his arms, standing ready for action.

“Then we will be forced to take action against you,” Nikto said calmly. “Danae?”

“Yes?” I asked, stepping forward.

“Hold my coat, and cover my back while I fight,” he said. I hesitated for a moment. He hasn’t been tested in battle. He’s not guilty of murder, I thought. I have. I have blood on my conscious. What’s one more murder?

“Let me fight,” I said. Nikto studied me, considering it briefly.

“Danae will fight your best fighter,” he said, turning back to face Duarte, who snorted and made some comment in Spanish.

“He said that he’ll fight your woman,” Adelita said quietly. “And that it won’t take that long to defeat her.”

“Tell him that I’ve been trained to kill, and that I won’t hesitate to do so,” I said, giving the man a filthy look.

As Adelita translated, Duarte studied me with eyes like a hawk’s. I felt my breath catch in my throat, and I reached for the little metal pellets that I liked to use in combat. He chuckled as I pulled out a handful and put my hands together to form several razor sharp needles.

“Those won’t work on him,” Adelita said as I threw them into the air, willing them to fly to him. Duarte merely looked at them and they froze in midair. He returned his gaze to me.

I had cringed as the needles bent back, seemingly of their own will, and scattered to all corners of the room. He must be something like a magnetic control mutant, I thought. Then that’s a stalemate. I’ll take another approach.

He drew a switchblade from his pants pocket and I ran my hands over the arm guards, drawing out the metal so that I could make a decent blade. I glanced over my shoulder at Nikto, who was watching us with his arms crossed.

“Don’t hesitate,” he told me. “He’s made his choice, and now he’ll face the consequences.” I nodded grimly.

Duarte smiled, though leered might be a better term for it, at me and said something to or about me in Spanish. I heard a woman laugh from behind me, and I returned the favor in Greek. His eyes widened in shock and then narrowed again.

I don’t know who struck first, but I do know that we fought for a couple of minutes. He was a good fighter, and it was a miracle that I managed to cut him the first time. He cussed me out as he raised a hand to his cheek, where a single line of silver blood had appeared.

He dove for me again, suddenly, and I couldn’t move away fast enough. his knife grazed my breastbone, tearing my tunic and drawing blood. It was that single attack that brought him close enough for me to slit his throat.

I heard the cry of his followers as he lost his balance and fell. He struggled up and again, his hand covering the deep wound in his neck. I struck again smoothly and heartlessly, driving my dagger into his chest, and then again into his stomach.

Blood poured in copious amounts from all of his wounds. He coughed and gasped as I drove my dagger in between his ribs, piercing a lung. Duarte was dead within minutes, drowned in his own blood.

I stood in the middle of the floor, watching him as he died. My hands and forearms were covered in his blood. An eerie silence fell for a couple of moments.

Without any warning, one of the girls jumped me. I drove my dagger into on of her arms as she tried to strangle me. She began screaming what I can only assume were accusations and curses as she let go.

She backed off, cradling her wound, to retrieve Duarte’s switchblade from his corpse before turning to face me again. Her intentions were clear- she intended to fight with me to the death. I glanced questioningly at Nikto as one of the other girls approached and tried to soothe my attacker.

She brushed the other girl off as Nikto shrugged. Thanks a lot, I though acidly as I raised my blade.

“No, Casilde!” one of her team-mates cried. Casilde ignored that as she dove at me, her rage taking over.

She fought liek a wildcat, determined to kill me. I was wounded several times, though none of them were deep nor serious.

I don’t know how long we fought, but it seemed like we’d fought for quite a while. I finally struck a fatal blow, and she collapsed, dead before she hit the floor.

No one challenged me after that, for which I was glad. My body was sore and worn out, still not up to par, and I couldn’t fight any longer.

Nikto approached me and placed a hand on my shoulder, a grateful smile on his face. I gave him a dirty look, which he ignored as he turned to face the other other members of the Mexican VI4C.

“Your leaders are done,” he said. “And now you have a choice to make. Will you come with us, or will you die with them?” They stood quietly for a moment before one of the girls turned to the rest and translated what Nikto had said to them. They converse in low tones for a couple of moments before the girl we had spoke to earlier stepped forward.

“We will join you,” she said. “It will be good for us.” I glanced around to see the other members nodding. Nikto smiled briefly.

“Gather your belongings,” he said. “We’ll eave when you’re ready.” Adelita translated this for the others, and they dispersed. Nikto turned to be as I wiped my blade off on a clean spot on Casilde’s shirt before returning it the the arm guards, aware of his gaze.

“I’m sorry, Danae,” he said quietly. “I didn’t know that you’d have to fight the two of them.”

“That was pretty obvious,” I said, straightening as I fastened the blade’s covering. I glanced around the room, and my gaze fell on a few crates that I knew were filled with drugs. “What’ll we do with those?” I guessed that they were meant to be sold in the US for high prices, and I couldn’t let that happen.

I cringed as I looked at the crates. I had been on drugs, admittedly prescription sedatives, long enough to know the horrors that they could do to one’s precious life. Mikto rubbed his bare chin, a sign that he was thinking.

“We’ll burn them,” he said. “We can leave the building here for the taking, but the drugs will be destroyed.”

“Good,” I said tersely as the two girls reentered the room with small bundles. I longed to wash myself as I felt the blood drying on my skin, and I self-consciously rubbed my forearm. One of the girls, Adelita, approached us.

“We’d like to know where we are going,” she said hesitantly.

“To my hideout, at the bottom of the sea,” Nikto said calmly, picking up a crate of drugs “Could you give me a hand, ladies?”

“Absolutely,” I said, picking up a box and following him out. He had parked the jet in the middle of the desert, just out of sight of the slum. Nikto led the way, heading a little ways away from it, setting down his crate and pulling out a cigarette lighter.

“Danae, pile up the crates over there,” he said. Adelita and the other girl had followed with the remaining two crates, and I took them from the girls.

Within minutes the pile of crates was nothing but a huge blaze, dark smoke rising thickly. Nikto left me to watch over the fire while he went to wait for the rest of his new recruits to join us.

Adelita stayed with me, seeming to want to talk to me. I sat down tiredly on the ground beside the jet, and she did the same, watching the drugs burn.

“It was good, how you fought,” she said quietly. I shrugged, scratching some of the dried blood off of my arm. “Like a snake, the way you strike.”

“A snake?” I asked, surprised. She nodded, and silence fell for a couple minutes. I glanced off to the slum, where I could vaguely see Nikto heading our way with the new recruits.

“Graceful,” Adelita said suddenly. “But deadly.” I knew she was referring to my fighting style, and I made no comment.

“Time to go,” Nikto said, opening up the jet. People loaded it up with their stuff and crawled in. I cast a tired gaze over the lay of the land, and turned to speak with Nikto.

“The fire-”

“Some of the locals will make sure that it’s contained,” he said, cutting me off. “Come on. It’s time to go.”

“Right,” I said, turning my back on the land where the VI4C had ruled.

Danae’s Story- Chapter 5

From our brief stopover in Tokyo, we took a submarine down to his hideout. After we had arrived there, he gave me a tour of the place, and showed me to a room that would be mine.

When he had finally left me alone, I sat down on the bed in my room, trying to figure out what I’d do with my life. I had no desire to try to make things work on my own. I couldn’t go back to my VI4C days- that was pretty obvious. The only choice that I felt I had was to stick with Nikto for a while. Who knew, maybe he wasn’t as crazy as I had thought he was.

I put the clothes he had bought me away, and then began to look around. I had a small dresser and a decently sized closet in the room, and there was a bathroom down the hall that would be for my use alone, at this point. There was a decent amount of space in the room, and a desk sat along the wall, beside the bed.

Curiously I approached it and began to look through the drawers. Most were empty, but in the top drawer on the left side I found a pad of paper and a couple of pens. A thin scrap of paper sat underneath the pad, and I picked it up, reading the words typed on it.

Greetings, my dear recruit! If you are reading this, you have probably had a tour of the hideout. If not, that will be remedied shortly. Beneath is a schedule of required practice and meal times. Lights out will be at eleven thirty each night, and you will be expected to be awake and present at breakfast. Sincerely, Nikto.

Quickly I scanned the schedule, and then set aside the scrap, flipping open the notepad. I began to write out a list of things that I’d need for a forge. If I was to stay here I’d need a place to work, a place that was all my own.

A knock on my door startled me, and I slipped off my bed, where I was still sitting, to unlock and open the door. Nikto stood there, with a couple of metal creatures hovering behind him.

“I wanted to make sure that you were settled in,” he said. “And also to introduce you to my puppets.” I leaned against the door frame, studying the metal things.

“Clumsy workmanship,” I observed. “What are they supposed to do?”

“This design is called the Blaster,” he said. “They are used both in battle and around the hideout. Each one is armed with heavy ammunition, making it an ideal weapon source in the middle of combat, but also a useful training tool for here in the hideout.”

“Right,” I said, not taking my eyes off of the puppets. “May I take a look at them?”

“Sure,” Nikto said, waving a hand to make the puppets float into the room. I took one of them from mid-air and ran my hands over it, a little frustrated that I was still powerless. The metal, cool to the touch, was familiar to me, like a long lost friend, but I could do nothing to respond until the drug had left my system.

“This could be made a little lighter,” I said, tracing the edge of the metal drawer that protected the ammunition. A small latch on the side permitted me to pull the drawer open.

Protesting loudly, it slid open, revealing a dented and uneven drawer, full of different kinds of explosives. The outer sides and bottom of the drawer were heavily coated with grease and WD-40, and my fingertips came away black.

I sighed as I picked up the prison garb that I had discarded, wiping my hand off before I dumped the explosives into it and passed them to Nikto, who was watching me closely. Then I wiped down the outside of the drawer.

“As soon as I get my powers back, this needs to be fixed,” I said, setting the drawer down on my desk and picking up my list of needs for the forge. “I’ll need to buy, or get, supplies, too.” He nodded.

“I was expecting you to,” he said. “So, what’s the damage?”

“I’m not sure yet,” I said tersely, skimming the list. “But these are the necessary things. I will require weapons, too, if you expect me to help you in combat.” He nodded again. I guess he needed to show that he understood.

“I have some weaponry already,” he said. “If you want to come and see what suits you, that might be helpful.”

“Right,” I said, picking the shirt back up and wiping down the cavity in the puppet, where the drawer had been. He watched me for a moment, and then turned and began to walk down the hall. I followed him, carrying the puppet.

“So, you’re going to fix up my puppets?” he asked me, a slight grin on his face. I looked down at the limp Blaster in my hands, so obviously made by an amateur, and grimaced.

“When I get my powers back, yes,” I said, thinking that it was almost physically painful to me to see such clumsy methods. I couldn’t stand to see something as useful as metal being wasted and abused like this had been. It had to be fixed, and my personal feelings about the creator and user of this puppet could be ignored.

Nikto unlocked and pushed a door open and stepped in, turning on a light. I stepped into the small room and sighed, remembering the larger weapons room in the VI4C hideout. I closed my eyes for a moment, fighting back the emotions that were coursing through my veins.

Anger, sadness and relief all vied for the position of strongest and most potent emotion. That room in the VI4C had been my workspace throughout the duration of my membership, and it held many fond memories for me.

My fingers tightened on the door frame as I forced the emotions down, opening my eyes to look at the room. Nikto was watching me with concern as I looked around, trying to act like nothing had happened.

“You alright?” he asked as I slid a throwing dagger from the shelf, checking the balance in my hand.

“If you call being trapped at the bottom of the sea with a complete lunatic and no where else to go alright, then yes, I’m absolutely fine,” I said sharply, returning the dagger to its position on the shelf and moving on to another style of blade. He shrugged, and I felt that it was time to change the conversation away from me again. “So, how do you happen to have enough money to buy everything down here?”

“I’m a freelance journalist,” he said. “I take jobs everywhere in the English speaking world, and on rare occasion I do one or two in Japan. I didn’t have much of a loan left after college, so I paid that off pretty quickly. Now I get to keep most of my paychecks, and  I use them to furnish this place.”

“I see,” I said, turning to face him. “How many people did you say this place could hold?”

“I don’t think I did,” Nikto said, taking a decently long metal pole from a rack. “Seven hundred and fifty could live here, though it would be rather crowded. At the moment, I only have twelve rooms furnished, excluding the public areas. Take a weapon, and let’s go. I want to see how well you can fight.” I studied him for a couple of seconds, and then shrugged, deciding that there was no ill intent behind this suggestion.

“Only if powers aren’t allowed,” I said, choosing a couple of blades and a smaller staff. Carefully I spun it, my muscles protesting at the odd turns that they hadn’t done for almost a year.

“That’s fair enough,” he said, watching me. “Find something?”

“These will do, for now,” I said, following him to the training room. Oddly enough, this didn’t cause me any problems. While the VI4C’s training room looked more like a training area from military movies, this one looked like a high school gym. The floor was wood. though I knew that there was some kind of metal beneath that.

“There’s far more here than it looks,” he said, a small grin on his face as he approached a keypad on the wall. “I have a bunch of neat little tricks for this place. Right now, though, I think that all we’ll need are some mats, to break any falls.” I said nothing as I made my way to the center of the gym. A slight grinding noise came from the walls as a panel slid open, revealing a stack of mats.

I watched as Nikto took them from the hidden cupboard. He spread them across the floor, and then he motioned to me.

“Let’s get to it,” he said. I smiled serenely, and fingered the daggers, which I had strapped around my hips. I held the metal pole in my right hand, ready to fight.

Nikto began circling around me, watching me like a vulture. I waited, not willing to make the first move. Suddenly Nikto lunged, striking at me from just out of my line of vision.

I spun, throwing up my defenses and blocking his blow. With a couple of minutes of pointless struggle as we each tried to disarm the other, we stood, arms shaking. I was just about to have to give in when he retreated. This time I circled with him, not willing to take my eyes off of him.

A feinted blow to his neck was quickly followed by a reversed blow. He must have been expecting me to do that, because he didn’t react to my feint, but he blocked the other blow. He struck out at my torso, and I staggered back, trying to bend in a way that I hadn’t needed to bend in for a year.

I felt the cool metal graze my skin as I fell back, dropping my staff in the process. I grabbed onto the end of his staff and twisted, so that I’d land on my front. Suddenly he released his staff and stumbled back.

My body met the floor hard, and I rolled onto my back, expecting him to be there, ready to end this duel. To my surprise, he wasn’t.

Quickly I forced myself to my feet, my footing unsteady as I picked up my own staff. My breath was coming in pants now, and I felt weak and my hands trembled slightly. Sweat had coated my body, and I watched Nikto with distrust.

If he’s going to attack me for real, now would be his chance, I thought, well aware of the physical state of my body. He’s still in good condition. He hasn’t even broken a sweat. I was determined to not lose, even though I knew that it was inevitable.

“Enough,” Nikto said, watching me from the other side of the room. “I’ve seen enough, and you won’t last too much longer. You’re a good enough fighter, but you’re not in good shape. You’re out of practice.” I lowered my defensive pose slowly, watching him.

I was humiliated by my weakness. It would take me a long time to regain the strength and abilities that I had lost during my rehab.

That was the beginning of my training. I forced myself to be better, to be stronger. I pushed myself to my limits on a daily basis, and would often fall into my bed at the end of the day, completely sore and exhausted.

Nikto oversaw and assisted me in some of my training, and after about two weeks of it, he made a comment about how hard I was on myself.

“It’s not too hard,” I said, taking a sip of water and leaning against the wall. He looked at me with concern. “The VI4C expected at least as much dedication and excellence. Or, rather, Steppe, expected that much.”

“What does VI4C stand for, anyway?” he asked, sitting down.

“Villains Incorporated in Four Countries,” I said, turning away so he couldn’t see the pain in my face.

“So it’s not just in the US?” he asked, surprised.

“No,” I said, getting my emotions back in check as I turned back to face him. “It’s also in Mexico, Cuba and Canada.” The look Nikto gave me was startling. He was grinning at me, looking like he was more insane than usual.

“Danae, you just gave me an idea,” he said. “From what I’ve gathered from talking and listening to you, and watching you, the VI4C is corrupt. We’ll destroy the corruption, and gain recruits at the same time.”

“What?” I asked, shocked. He’s actually lost it, I thought. I had been telling myself that since he had saved me from the CAMMies, but I was now convinced that he had finally gone mad.

“Danae, we are going to destroy the VI4C,” he said, looking at me steadily. “Those who are trying to stop us will die, and those who see the good we are trying to do for the world can join us.” My jaw dropped, and a tinge of persuasiveness slipped into his voice. “Just think- I can get my recruits, and you can get revenge on the people who threw you away.” I flinched, and turned away.

“Sure,” I said sarcastically. “When pigs fly.”

Septifiria; The Becoming: Epilouge

Two years have passed and a lot has happened since that night. Gin and I did go on our date the next evening, and that night went so well we went on another, and then another… After about a year of dating, Gin proposed and we eloped two months later.

About the same time we got married, CAMM’s California base got closed down. Apparently my plan worked, and just in time, too.

As I am writing this I can feel my child inside of me and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this baby will be a mutant too. This world and this time in history may finally be the start of mutant tolerance and I would do anything to protect my child from what I went through.

There are still two months left until my due date and I feel as though the VI4C family has drawn closer around me and my child. I have no doubts that he will be loved and protected. As some of the others – Frigid, Mikey, and their group (EVIL) have been causing juvenile trouble in the city, but they haven’t given us away yet so we’ll continue to ignore them.

Tamwyn Grey, Marie Gregorovitch, Guinevere Evens, and Ben Eastmen are all members of a growing organization of do-gooders called the M-force. They’re mostly teens and are carefree, neither a threat nor offering to help us.

The future is looking up and at last we are at peace. Let’s hope it lasts.

Yours truly,

Septifiria

A.K.A., Renee Carl