Fanfic Time: X-Wars, part 12

Continued from yesterday:


  Alison paused at the sound, glancing about for a source. Roman stopped a few feet ahead, empty pizza boxes under one arm and a curious expression on his face.

  “What is it?”

  “Thought I heard something,” she said by way of explanation, and gestured with unoccupied hands at the high-ceilinged corridor around them.

  “Mice?” he suggested playfully.

  She raised an eyebrow. “In this cushy place? Not hardly. Sounded like a keyboard.” She looked around again, inexplicably wanting to find out what it was, despite it having really nothing to do with her.

  Roman came back and squeezed her arm. “Well, there *are* other people in this place, y'know. Just because we haven’t met any yet on our valiant quest for the trashcans doesn’t mean they’re not there.”

  “I suppose,” Alison allowed, and followed him on a few steps before the noise came again.

  {TAP-TAP-TAP-TAPPIT-TAPPITY-TAP-TAP-TAP-TAPPITY-TAP.} Someone typing. Typing very fast. Sixty words a minute at least.

  A boy walked out from one of the doors, stopped, and did a double take at the two of them standing there. Roman turned on his best smile and waved.

  “Hi. Um, we’re new around here, and kinda lost. Mind telling us where we can dump this garbage, kid?”

  The kid stared, ‘eep'ed, and disappeared back the way he’d come.

  Roman blinked, then sighed. “Well, that could’ve gone better for a first impression.”

  “You have that effect on people,” Alison told him, rubbing his shoulder.

  “Thanks for the words of comfort.”

  “You’re welcome.”

  The door creaked, and a face appeared in the crack. Roman tried to smile again, and after a few seconds a hesitant voice asked, “Are you two– are you Alison Blaire?”

  Fame preceded her again. Big sigh. “Yeah, that’s me. Though I prefer Ally.”

  “As in McBeal?”

  “Please!” She stuck out her tongue and blew a large raspberry people of her standing weren’t supposed to make. “I’ve cleaned floors with mops fatter than that woman.

  The door creaked a little more, and the face poked out a bit further, revealing shaggy brown hair in desperate need of a trim. "Are you Roman Nek– Neko–”

  “Nekobah. Guilty as charged.” Roman held up his free hand in the manner of one giving up for the police.

  “Tabby has lotsa pictures of you on her walls,” the boy said, not going any further to reveal who this mysterious 'Tabby’ was.

  “Sounds like she has good taste.”

  Alison punched his arm. “Don’t flatter yourself. Um, sweetie, I’m new here. Roman’s just a visitor, but neither of us have any real idea where to stash these pizza boxes. Could you show us?”

  The blue eyes blazed with delight, and the door opened on a boy not much older than twelve, dressed in a curious black catsuit latticed with white lines and nodes like a giant microchip. “Sure.”

  “Um, what’s with the get up?” Roman asked, and received an elbow in the ribs for his tactlessness.

  The boy seemed unperturbed. “Oh, this? Just something to help me keep my power in check. I wear it all the time, so I hardly notice it anymore. You said you wanted the trashcans?”

  “Please. What your name, by the way?”

  “Jamie. Jamie Madrox.”

  “Nice to meet you, Jamie.”


  Alison stopped again. “What was that?”

  Jamie halted too, cocking his head to one side. After a moment he waved his hand carelessly. “Oh, that’s just Rogue. She must’ve left her bedroom door open again.”

  “Rogue?” Roman gave Alison a pointed look, which she ignored.

  Jamie just nodded. “Yeah, she’s our resident computer expert. If you ever have a problem online, just go to her and she’ll sort it out for you.”

  “Thanks. I’ll bear that in mind.”

  Jamie nodded, and babbled on in a happy voice. He seemed like a nice kid, despite his odd fashion sense. “She said something about trying out that URL. Y'know, off the TV, with that demon man?”

  “She did?” Alison slowed, and Roman slowed with her.

  “I know that look.”

  “Could we– uh, look in on her? Would she mind? Only, I haven't unpacked my laptop yet, and I wouldn’t mind having a look-see at this Legion of the Unwanted website.”

  Jamie didn’t even flinch. Instead, he just turned around and marched past them and down a side hallway to a half-open door. He knocked, and received a grunt for his troubles.


  “Rogue, could we come in for a second?”

  “Define we.”

  “Me, Dazzler, and that Roman guy Tabby’s so hot on.”

  The tapping stopped. “You’re yankin’ mah chain, right?”

  “Swear on my suit I’m not.” Jamie made needless crossed motions on his chest, and winked at the waiting pair. “They want a look at your project. Y'know, the URL tracer?”

  URL tracer? That sounded interesting.

  There was a degree of shuffling, and something struck the door. It swung open from the momentum, and Jamie gestured them in,  following behind.

  A teenaged girl sat on the end of a rumpled, unmade bed, surrounded by personal clutter that ranged from empty coffee cups to dirty laundry, dallying awhile in scribbled, loose-leaf notes and leaky pens for good measure. Her hair was a mix of heady auburn curls and a vicious white streak, all swept out of her face by a red headband.

  Most of the room was taken up by strange looking machinery and computer equipment, with wires trailing everywhere and odd-looking boxes and other assorted things stuffed onto shelves, into corners and strewn about the floor. Across the walls were hundreds of post-its with various codes, passwords and memory-prompting messages scribbled in hasty handwriting on them. It looked, to all intents and purposes, like the back of a computer hardware store, replete with air of stale coffee and old pretzels.

  “Well Ah’ll be– It really is y'all,” the girl said, not so much with awe as with respectfulness. “Come in, sure. Mind the mess. Been meanin' to clear this place up a tad, but it always slipped mah scatterbrain. Y'all are welcome to look in while Ah work, if'n ya like.”

  Jamie plopped down next to her, while both Roman and Alison took up what appeared to be a coach beneath all the piles of laundry and paperwork. Roman yelped, jumping up again and retrieving an upended ballpoint from where it had lodged between the cushions, making for a painful backside when sat upon.

  The girl, Rogue, threw him an apologetic glance, but had already returned to the laptop balanced upon her knees, and was staring at the screen, stroking an imaginary beard and frowning. The laptop was connected to several different machines stationed around the room, all of which hummed, bleeped and blinked with life. Wires were everywhere, draped across everything and everyone, an array of brightly coloured snakes, nodules and important connections. It looked lie a hacker's paradise.

  _The electricity bill for this place must be interesting._

  From where she was sitting, Alison could make out a simple website design, with numbers flashing up at regular intervals and a pair of smiley and unhappy faces on either side.

  “Is that the Legion of the Unwanted site?”

  “Huh?” Rogue looked up. “Oh, yeah. This is the results page from the poll. Looks like it’s a tie between handin’ that MacAllister guy over to the proper authorities and stringin’ him up by his unmentionables. So far, anyway.”

  Both Jamie and Roman crossed their legs, and the latter leaned forward. “Seems you have mail.” He pointed, just as Rogue clicked and opened up another window.

  “Cool, that was fast. Wasn’t sure if he’d reply.”


  “A contact of mine,” she said enigmatically. “He’s helped me in the past with stuff like this. Contacted him on the off-chance he’d do the same again with this tracer program.”

  Alison shifted her weight. “Tracer program? What exactly are you trying to do?”

  “Find out where this MacAllister guy’s bein’ held, so’s Cyclops and Havok can go rescue his sorry ass.” Rogue shrugged, long hair washing over her shoulders like ringletted silk. Suddenly, Alison felt a little self-conscious about her own short, spiky tresses; then berated herself for feeling jealous of a kid.

  “Rescue?” Roman repeated. “I thought it was a good thing this guy was punished. You saw what he did to that little girl.”

  “Yeah, but it ain’t gonna do mutants’ rep no good if terrorists start killin’ an’ torturin’ folk live on air just to make a point.” Rogue clicked, then tapped frantically at her keyboard. Letters flew onto the screen at a rate of knots, and she hit the return button to send her message. “Ah’ve asked this guy to log onto a private board so we can talk easier. Not that email ain’t great, but Ah had a hand in the protection of this board, so Ah know we’ll have some *real* privacy to do business. Ah got another two contacts already there, waitin’ for him.”

  There was a musical ding, and she let out a breath. “Yes. He’s in. Now we can get this party started.” She tapped a few keys in welcome.

  “SB?” Roman pointed to the moniker that had come up. “Is that you?" Rogue nodded. "What’s it stand for?”

  “Southern Belle, of course.” She said it so matter-of-factly Alison could practically feel Roman’s embarrassment for herself. Her accent was quite thick, and he struggled to find something witty to say in response.

  “Ah, yes. OK. Right– uh–”

  She took his hand, tightening around his fingers and smiling. “Roman, back down before you hurt yourself.”

  Three replies were almost immediate to Rogue’s greeting. They read, respectively, as coming from the users 'Jo-Jo’, 'Farenheit20’ and 'THEMASTER’. Rogue smiled, tapping merrily away, and after a few minutes of back and forth silent chatter, it was obvious she’d forgotten there was anybody else in the room with her.

  Finally, Jamie cleared his throat. “Uh, what’s going on? Rogue?”

  “Shh,” she held up a hand. “Just gimmie a second– There!” She hit return again, and the flurry of words became a bleak white screen as the other users became quickly involved with something else.

  Rogue turned to her audience, gesturing around at the gadgets liberally spread around the room. “Much as the Professor’s allowance lets me buy useful junk for mah computer, these guys have equipment Ah can’t even hope to get hold of. Not legally, at any rate. Don’t worry, they’re not crooks or nuthin’. Ah’ve known a few of 'em for years, and Jo-Jo’s an old friend from the real world.”

  “What are you doing now?” asked Alison.

  “Waitin’, mostly. They’ll get back to me as soon as they can.” Rogue drummed her fingers on the bedspread, looking between their faces and smirking wryly. “Not exactly creatin’ the best first impression, am Ah? Look, Ah’m not doin’ nuthin’ wrong. Not really. Just tryin’ to save a life, is all. Maybe more than one, if the team can stop these guys.”

  “The life of a guy who’d have us all in concentration camps or cut up on some metal table if he had his way,” Jamie muttered, and Alison was shocked at such adult sentiment coming from such a little kid.

  Surprisingly, it was Roman who answered that comment. “But if we didn’t save jerkoffs like him, we’d be no better than his kind, would we? Just be proving their misguided points about Mutantkind.”

  Jamie seemed sceptical. “You a mutant?”

  “No. But I’m in love with one, so I’m in anything as deep as the rest of you are.” He wrapped an arm around Alison’s shoulders, as if to demonstrate his words, and she rested her head against the side of his neck in reply.

  The laptop beeped. “That was quick,” said Rogue. The she made an irritated noise. “Farenheit20 bombed out. Jo-Jo’s still searchin’– wait. She got a home computer checkin’ as we speak.”

  “The one the website was instigated on?” Alison frowned. Of course, Tracer. “Is it even possible to trace something like that?”

  “There are more thing in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” Rogue replied absently, not bothering to cite the quote, engaged as she was in conversing with Farenheit20. Jo-Jo said a few words, and then the two of them vanished again.

  “What happened?”

  “They’re both checkin’ to see if they can get satellite uplinks to find that computer.” Rogue nibbled on her lip. “It’s an outside chance, but if they’re keepin’ MacAllister anywhere nearby to it–”

  “Then the satellite could pinpoint his location for Cyclops and Havok,” Jamie finished.

  “Got it in one, short-stuff. Hel-lo.” She tapped a few buttons, and another window popped up. “THEMASTER’s struck gold, it seems. One of his satellite links worked out big time, and - wait, here’s Jo-Jo again.” A pause. “Dammit. No go. Not with Farenheit20’s lead, either. The computer’s untraceable. Looks like they took it off the net soon after startin’ the site. Either that, or they destoryed it. Damn, they're good.”

  “Must’ve known you’d be coming,” Jamie tried, but got no retort.

  “Mmm. Hey, THEMASTER’s back. Gotcha!” She grinned widely, and  the others all craned their necks to see what was going on.

  “What? What is it?” Jamie asked. “Is it better than finding the computer?”

  “Uh-huh. In spades. He’s traced the signature of the equipment they used to hack Scott’s press conference footage. Downloading– now.” There was a high-pitched squeal, followed by a whirring. Rogue’s smile faded. "Uh-oh.“ She jabbed at the side of the laptop, ejecting a plain black floppy disc. "Whoa. Nearly lost it all to a security system there. Luckily, THEMASTER came through enough to protect the data *and* mah system. If Ah knew who that guy was, Ah’d kiss him.”

  She waggled the disc ain the air triumphantly, and picked up what looked like a small microphone off her bed. It was the kind one could attach to a shirt of jacket lapel, and she spoke into it hurriedly. "Cyclops, Ah got the info y'all wanted.“

  {CRACKLECRACKLE} "Good job, Rogue. Not that I hold with hacking, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.”

  “Just like ya made an exception the last couple dozen times?” She smirked, putting aside the laptop and unfolding her legs from under her. "Shall Ah bring it down to the hangar?“

  A new voice, slightly muffled, like the speaker was too far away from the mike. "Best hurry it up, bro., or else we will *not* be popular with Monsieur PR and his cronies.”

  “Yeah, bring it here, Rogue. Thanks. Cyclops out.”


  Possibly the two most destructive mutants in the world skulked towards the warehouse. It was the only abandoned warehouse with light and heat readings, yet Scott Summers had to say, “Are we sure this is the one?”

  “As if the satellite dish on the corner isn’t a dead give-away, bro," said Alex. "Besides, there’s at least thirty heat signatures in there. One of them is *very* stationary. What more proof do you need?”

  Scott grumbled under his breath. “*Okay*… Fine. It’s *them*. We sneak in, surprise them, knock as many of them out as we can, grab the General and skedaddle.”

  Alex stared at him.


  “Skedaddle? Who the hell talks like that?”


  “I mean who *else*?”

  “Uh…” Scott thought about it. “None of your business.” He jimmied a lock. Then he whispered, “*Quietly*, now. We want the element of surprise.”

  They certainly got it.

  About twenty mutants were armed and waiting.

  Cyclops wouldn’t have minded a fight but for one *tiny* detail.

  Not one of them was over twenty.

  Not even the monster, who was holding the little girl known to the world as Juliet.

  The little girl who whimpered and hid from his brother and himself as if *he* were the monster.

  “We know what you want, bunky,” said a green boy who was barely sixteen. “You want the bad man. Good luck trying to get it.”

  Scott flipped the setting on his visor. Just enough to knock the little punk down. He pressed the button - and absolutely nothing happened.

  Green Boy grinned. “Name’s Leech. Guess what I do?”

  Alex guessed in a cold second. “Aw *fuck*…”


  Still trying to work the kinks out of his muscles, Nightcrawler strode into the small room where Spiral and Tech, the League of Unwanted's resident computer expert, were monitoring the poll on the Website and the message board.

  'Uh, Hi boss,’ greeted Spiral, 'whatcha doin?’

  'Monitoring the situation,’ grunted Nightcrawler, 'I want to take a look at the poll myself.’

  'Um boss, you don’t need to-’ Spiral began, but was rudly pushed out of the way by her leader as he bent forward and examined the glowing screen.

  There was a brief silence.

  'What the hell are those?’ Nightcrawler asked eventually, pointing to the offending items at the side of the screen. His question was directed at Tech, the designer of the website.

  'Um… Smilies boss, most sites have them…’

  'Ja… but the smilies of most sites are not blue with pointed ears like THAT one.’

  He pointed to one of the offending items.

  'Get rid of them,’ he ordered, 'and replace them with something more conventional.’

  Tech sighed and began work, whilst Kurt stalked away.

  'Phew,’ said Spiral, 'that was a close one.’

  'Yeah,’ murmered Tech, 'thank God he never saw our official signature.’



  Sigh. “Yes, Filch?”

  “Um. Tech sent me, Boss. We’ve been getting a lot of messages. Sez they want the -uh- they want the cute blue smilies back…” He cringed. When the expected onslaught did not come, he risked opening an eye and looking around. “Thousands of people like 'em, boss.”



  More silence, and movement that indicated that Nightcrawler was pacing. “Thousands of people,” he said at last, “can kiss my fuzzy blue ass. I am *NOT* *cute*… I look like a verdammt teufel! People *scream* when they see me. I am not *cute*.”

  “I know the gals around here beg to differ, boss…”

  A growl that stood Filch’s hair on end. “I am not an icon for amusement, Filch. I am just a man, fighting to expose the atrocities performed on my people. Many have seen me and called me a monster. I am *not* a plaything. I am not to be demeaned.”

  “Gotcha.” Filch made to leave. “Oh. Boss?”


  “Some chicks have started a fan site or two… They’re running a poll on the most layable mutant? You’re in the top three.”

  “I doubt they’d put their body where their vote is, Filch. Get gone. Relay my opinion to Tech, ja? She can say what she likes to the 'thousands’ who want to play with my face.”

  “I still say they’re cute…”


  “Lookit this,” Warren leaned over the computer. “All these threads. 'Shoot the bastard’, 'Skin the bastard’, 'Hang him by the–’”

  “I get the point, Junior,” said Mr Worthington II.

  “Dad, I’m over twenty-one. You can call me 'Warren’, you know.” The wings rose over his shoulders in agitation. “I’m old enough to make my own decisions and live my own life.”

  “And bring whores home,” muttered Worthington.

  “And didn’t you love it,” said Stacy. “You paid quite a price, too.”

  “*Stacy*,” said Warren.

  “Hey, at least I’m *honest* about what I do.” Stacy glared at Worthington. “Unlike some people.”

  “I have never slept with this– *thing*!” Worthington stabbed a finger at Stacy, who made a moue. “You have *got* to believe me.”

  “Stacy?” said Warren.

  “He calls me a whore, I call him a customer. Fair’s fair. But that's not what I’m talking about and your Dad knows it.” She angled a glare at Worthington. “What shit are you so deep in that you have to have two of the *X-Men* as your bodyguards? Something to do with Operation Mutational Solution?”

  Warren’s wings cowered for cover again. “Dad?" 





  Havok blinked. “Run? What kind of order is that for an X-Man?”

  Cyclops kept his eyes trained on where the cluster of dear little kiddiwinks were hefting their array of weapons. “A very good one, if you want to survive this mission with all vital organs intact.”

  He shoved hs brother, and the two of them fell behind what looked like an oversized generator, right before a volley of bullets strafed the spot they’d been.

  Cyclops shoved himself as close to the machine as he could, and turned his head. “Like I said, a very good order.”


  Jean knelt, cradling the sobbing Corban in her arms and looking helplessly towards Colossus. He spread his fleshy arms wide, obviously at a loss for what to do.

  _Close the door, you great lummox._

  _Oh, da._ He did so, and then retired to a wicker chair in the corner to twiddle his thumbs until the scientist had cried himself out.

  It took twenty-three full minutes before he even came close to running short of tears. By which time Jean’s costume was all but sodden, and there were several greenish streaks on both shoulders she *really* didn’t want to know about.

  Finally, Corban drew back, wiping at his blotchy, track-stained face.

“Th-thanks,” he said, in a voice like a tired child. “I could understand if you guys didn’t want to do this. Protecting me, I mean. After what my work was used for… Jeez, i never meant for it to be like this. Never…”

  Jean felt a pang of sympathy, tried to chase it away, and failed miserably. From what she could catch in surface thoughts, this guy was wracked with a guilt he didn’t deserve. Like Remy was sometimes wont  to do, Corban was a man who took the blame for everything and anything, whether it be his fault or not. The world’s problems were down to him - and the person be damned who tried to tell him otherwise!

  “Hey, it’s not your fault. Not totally.”

  “But it was my research,” Corban insisted. “My work, my papers that inspired all of… this. They never told me this was what they were planning. They said… they said they wanted to help people. Mutants who could control their powers - who were a danger to themselves as much as anyone else. I just wanted to help them be normal again. That’s all. I never knew they were willing to take it so far…” he looked as though he wanted to cry again, but Jean swiftly cut in.

  “Marx came up with the theories, but he didn’t create Communism. Likewise, Einstein did the groundwork, but he didn’t make the A-bomb.”

  “Excuse me?”

  “Research can be manipulated many different ways, Mr. Corban. It's just there, and some people think it’s their God-given right to do so. That doesn’t make the person who did the groundwork responsible for what other folk do with it.” She caught Piotr’s eye over the scientist's head, and resolved to explain to him why it wasn’t a good idea to roll your ideas in front of potential suicide cases.

  Corban sank back onto his knees, hands draped in his lap. “But I set it all up for them… they couldn’t have done… that little girl, she wouldn’t be like that if I hadn’t written that paper. I’m a geneticist. That doesn’t mean I’m into geno*cide*.”


  A little girl was peeking into their hide-away. It had taken some seriously inspired desperation for the two brothers to get *in* there, and now the kids were trying to figure out how to get in after them.

  “Great,” said Havok, wriggling though pipes and bars. “Just frigging *great*. Nobody ever said we’d be going in against *kids*…”

  Leech was somewhere above them, keeping them in sight, but not following with any intent to harm.

  “I am going to *strangle* Dann if we survive this,” Cyclops vowed. "We’re supposed to be *heroes*. How the hell can we be heroes if we gotta fight *kids*.“

  Some sort of steam leaked from a pipe somewhere. It leaked into a humanoid shape, and resolved itelf into a rather cute minotaur.

  "Oh *geez*…” said Havok. “Look, we don’t want to fight ya, kiddo. We just have a job to do, y'know?”

  “Yeah. We have to rescue the General, or we’ll look worse than we already do,” argued Cyclops. “Do you really think hurting that man is going to make things better?”

  “It *might* stop people hurting us,” said the kid. He fingered an obsidian knife. “But it won’t stop people hating us. Nothing will. So we might as well let 'em know that if they hurt us - we’ll hurt 'em back.”

  “Then *they’ll* seek revenge,” said Cyclops, “for what you did. And you’ll get revenge on their revenge. And they’ll get revenge on yours. And it’ll build up into a full-scale *war*.”

  “It already *is* a war,” said Leech, far above. “They declared it, but it’s underground. We’re just exposing the atrocities to the *light*.”

  “Juliet didn’t even have a *name*,” said another kid. A little girl covered in quills like a hedgehog. “They put numbers on her arm!”

  “They treated her like an *animal*,” said a purple girl. “And she could *pass*. Just think for a minute. What would they do to *us*?”

  “He won’t think of *that*,” argued the minataur-boy. “He can pass, too. As long as he does what the flatscan sunsiders say, he’s *safe*! He doesn’t have nightmares about the norms coming for him! He doesn’t have to play in secret places just so he can get some *sun*! Lookit him! He doesn’t even have to steal to eat!”

  “Normie-lover!” Another girl chanted. She had hands instead of feet. "Normie-lover! Normie-lover! Normie-lover! Normie-lover!“

  Another kid clambered upside-down down the metal grille they were near. "Are you *nuts*?” he asked. He looked somewhat like a bat. “When they’re done with us, they’ll do it to you, too. I’ve seen Juliet's memory-nightmares. They put her in a *cage* an’ did 'speriments on her. They didn’t even see her as *human*…”

  “We gotta try, kid,” said Havok. “Because just *maybe*, we can make our future.”

  “HA!” Cyclops pulled up a hatch. “Come on!”

  “Um,” said the bat-kid. “I wouldn’t go there…”

  “Why?” said Havok. “Something bad?” He was already halfway in the hatch.

  “It’s where Orpheus hangs out.”

  “What’s *he* gonna do?” said Cyclops.


  “Fine by me,” and Havok dropped into the darkness.

  Cyclops followed him.

  “But his *pets* might,” added the bat-kid.