Fanfic Time: X-Wars, part 19

Continued from yesterday:

  For once Rogue wasn’t listening in on the Professor’s conversation. She’d managed to become incredibly adept at avoiding his mental abilities when he wasn’t looking for her, but right now she knew she was being watched after the Legion fiasco. Thus it was Sam with his ear to the door, and Sam who told the new mutants about what was going on.

  They decided as one that they had to go to the Foundation to help out. Bobby even managed to “convince Scott to let them borrow his car.” Rogue was the only one who noticed the lack of keys in the ignition as he drove.


  Jamie was never allowed along, so he hid in the trunk. It was easy in Scott’s car. It even had one of those safety pull-latch things so that if someone got locked in the trunk they could get themselves out.


  They were all out of the car and headed to the Foundation before the Professor noticed them.

  {Return to the institute at once.}

  {C'mon, we wanna help.}

  {The situation is in hand. Get everyone in the car and return. And Bobby, we must have a conversation about taking what is not yours.}

  Obediently, everyone got back in the car. But Jamie was left behind because none knew he had come.


  Jamie walked into the Foundation, clueless to the fact that he was alone. He walked straight up to Sandra and said, “I want to help.”

  “And what can you do?”

  Jamie clapped his hands twice, and two clones appeared. “Manual labor.” they answered. Where do you need us?“ 


  "Hi, Logan. What'cha doin’?”

  Logan didn’t look down at Jamie because he was busy installing a security cam. “Security. What’s it look like?”

  “Hi, Logan. What'cha doin’?”

  This time, he looked down. There was just one kid. “Security.”

  He watched Jamie wander off… and another Jamie round the corner. “Hi, Logan. What–”



  “Security, okay? Do I have ta print a goddamn circular?”

  “Have you seen–”

  “*That* way,” he pointed with his screwdriver.

  “Hi, Logan.”

  “How many of you *ARE* there?”

  “Uuuhhhmmm… I’m not sure.”

  “Then get me a card and a marker.”


  Twenty minutes later, Warren came by to check up on things - as a mercy on his wrist, which had nearly conked out - and saw Logan working on a camera. The weird part was the sign taped to the ladder.

  _Logan is working on security,_ it read. _Do not bug him._

  “What’s with the sign?”

  “In case Jamie wanders by,” said Logan.

  “Forgetful kid?”

  “Nope. Too damn many of him.”

  _The heck?_ Warren wondered as he roamed the halls. After a while he began to notice the same ten-year-old in every scene. Sometimes in groups, hooking up PC’s, delivering coffee, cuddling some of the survivors, cleaning up messes…

  And bumping into things… and *multiplying*.

  One of them bumped into him and came away as three identical boys.

  _Ah. *NOW* it makes sense._ “You must be Jamie.”

  “Multiple *at* your service,” they saluted.

  “Do you know how many– er…”

  “Nossir,” said one of them. “After a bit of a while, it just gets exponential.”

  “We regroup and reabsorb every now and again,” said a clone.

  “But it doesn’t often help,” said the third.

  “I’ll -uh- try not to bump into you again,” said Warren. It was going to be tricky.


  Kaze saw that Sandra had everything for the children’s immediate care well in hand. That woman was amazing. Kaze overheard Storm talking to Jean about the dandelion incident, and resolved to do something about it. If the child was that fascinated by a single dandelion, what would she think of an indoor park the size of a football field? Since all the phones were busy, Kaze used her cell phone to call her father’s suppliers. She had known most of them since before she could walk and knew she could talk them into lower prices or free merchandise. Half an hour on the phone with the suppliers and a quick conversation with her father got her everything she needed.


  Half an hour later the supplies started arriving. And since she was working in a different building than the refugees were in, traffic wouldn’t matter in the slightest. Kaze requited a Jamie to create a few clones and help her carry the supplies up. First there came countless bags of dirt to be spread over the floor of the entire top floor. She carefully crafted it into minor hills in places to make it a little more interesting for the children. Next came great rolls of turf to be set down. Many of the children didn’t even know what grass was, and once Kaze had mentioned that to Sanchez, he had donated the turf for free. That much had to have put him hundreds of dollars out of pocket. Kaze instructed the Jamies to reabsorb, showed the one left how to lay down the turf, then told them to split up again. She walked back down to check on the rest of the supplies.

  Her father had just stopped by with the specialty item she had requested. Kaze had seen that Colossus was still at hand, looking for a place to help. She called him over.

  “Collossus, we need your help moving Edgar.”

  “And where is he?”

  “In the back of the pickup.”

  “All I see is a tree.”

  “That’s Edgar.”


  “Dad sells some ornamental trees. When this one forst came in he said it was for something special, named it Edgar, and kept it potted. Over the past ten years he’s changed it to bigger and bigger pots. If we haul this up to the greenhouse the kids can have a climbing tree. I thought some of them might enjoy that.”

  Collossus dutifully carried the tree up and helped Kaze plant it. In the meantime the jamies had finished laying the turf and Kaze went to show them how to plant the flowers. Telling her father’s friends of the childrens plight had done more than she expected. For that and their friendship toward her family she had managed to get every single item for free. Rosebushes and rhododendrons had been offered, but she didn’t want anything poisonous or prickly in the garden. Soon the room was a riot of color, and she left several Jamies with instructions on watering everything for the first time before she went downstairs to check on how things were going.

  When she walked into Sandra’s office she saw that Sandra had lain out the plans for the skyways on top of everything else. The children would have indoor access to the garden by the end of the week. In the meantime she took the potted plants several men had donated and went to work spreading them around the offices and dormitories. A few that she knew to be poisonous she left in the building with the garden. She’d ask the workers who wanted them later. Poisonous plants and small children were not a good combination.


  McCoy sighed and stroked back his short, black hair. He wished he was more of a mutant, [5] wished he could make multiple copies of himself, he sure needed to.

  ‘NEXT!’ he boomed.

  An emaciated, dark skinned kid loped in, his eyes shifting from one corner of the room to another, his posture tense, ready for attack. He was the oldest kid Hank had seen so far, he looked about twelve.

  'Want some spicy-’ he began, but got no further as the dark boy ploughed into the chicken bits, grabbing hunks of meat and gobbling them up fast.

  'Well…’ said Hank 'I’ll take that as a yes. Will you please step on the scales?’

  'Fuck off!’

  Hank blinked.

  'Excuse me?’ he said.

  'Fuck off! I ain’t gonna be no experiment no more, there ain’t no way your gettin’ anything out of me. Not on my life!’

  'Ah…’ this looked like being a difficult case, 'well we just need to take your weight and height, that’s all. If you do… I’ll give you some more chicken.’

  The kid considered this for a bit, 'And some milk?’ he enquired.

  'I’m sure we could rustle some up.’

  Carefully, watching McCoy like a hawk, the boy stepped on the scales. Hank too down the readings then produced the stethescope.

  The boy leaped back again as Hank advanced.

  'Ain’t no fucking way you’re gonna touch me with that!’ he screeched.

  'Come on now,’ soothed Hank, 'it’s not going to harm you, I’ve even warmed it up. I just want to monitor your heart rate…’

  'You ain’t gonna touch me!’

  'Please, I-’

  But the scientist got no further as, at that momment, a barrage of what looked like shards of bone were flung from the boy’s arms. Hank heard a -Ku-thunk!- as they hit the wall behind him, missing his body by inches.

  Taking and deep breath and trying to remain calm, he decided to give up the ghost.

  'All right,’ he said, 'fine, we’ll save that for later. Do you have a name?’

  'Spyke!’ snapped the boy, 'Spyke is what I go by, and it’s the only name I’m givin’ you. Can’t take what you don’t get given!’ [6]

  'Fine,’ assured Hank, 'don’t worry, we won’t take anything. Want a candy?’

  With the speed of a striking serpent, the boy known as Spyke grabbed a handful and candy and ran at full pelt out of the room, only taking time to give Hank the middle finger salute.

  The doctor sighed, that one was going to be interesting.


  “Hi, Doc, I bought you some more - *whoah*…” Jamie placed the fried chicken down and touched a spike in the wall. “What happened *here*?”

  “Temper tantrum, I suspect,” said Hank. “By an African-American child who calls himself 'Spyke’.”

  “Wow…” The subject was promptly dropped when he helped himself to a jellybean. “These guys go through candy pretty quick,” observed Jamie.

  “One of your dupes is already obtaining a fresh bottle,” said Hank. “Though a cup of coffee would not go amiss.”

  “Okay.” Jamie sped off.


  This place was creepy. There was this one kid *everywhere*, doing all sorts of things. There were people milling about. There were other survivors, but Spyke ignored them.

  He just wanted to figure what was going on.

  He gnawed on a chicken bone as he hunkered in an empty office, watching.

  There was that kid again. He was carrying a three-litre jug of milk.

  “Spyke?” the kid called. “You in here?”

  “Fuck off.”

  The kid turned, spotted him, and slowly advanced, using the milk as a shield. “Hank said you wanted some. Would you like a cup?”

  Spyke bristled - literally. His whole body became covered in bony protrusions and armour.

  “*WHOAH*! That’s *cool*!” The kid grinned. “That’s even cooler than *Logan*. Do they do it that way all the time? Can you make 'em go back or do ya gotta shed 'em? Is that why you need the milk?”

  Spyke simply extended one of his instant weapons until it came near the kid’s throat. “Put the milk down an’ *fuck* *OFF*!”

  The kid nodded. “My name’s Jamie,” he said. “I’m only visiting so I can help out.”

  Spyke snatched up the milk and shot a spike past the kid’s ear as a gentle message to get gone.

  *This* time, he took the fuckin’ hint.

  He downed the milk greedily, almost moaning out loud to have calcium. It was gone before he could even acknowledge the flavour.


  “Hi, Doc,” said Jamie.

  “I already have enough candy, coffee and chicken, thanks.” Hank gestured with his favourite, slightly-oversized mug. He took a swig and waved his next patient in.

  “It’s about Spyke…” said Jamie. “He needs calcium, I think. 'Cause he grows bones real fast.”

  “I believe Alison has the keys to the pharmacy at the moment,” Hank made notes. Height. Weight. Distinguishing marks. “Use only what you need.”

  Jamie grinned. “*THANKS*!”


  Alison peeked. “That’s him?”

  “Uh-huh,” said Jamie. Or rather, the Jamie that was currently working with her. There were an estimated hundred scattered through the complex, helping out in many and varied ways. “He drank the milk *real* fast.”

  She watched as he opened the empty jug and tried to shake a few more drops out of it. Were it not milk, she could have sworn the boy was acting like a junkie. Alison cracked the childproof lid on the calcium tablets and tossed one into his line of sight.

  He almost shot a spike at it, but then he pounced, crunching it up and swallowing it dry.

  Alison flipped him another pill. And another. And another. Each one lead the boy further away from the offices and into the dorms.

  A small crowd of Jamies exited the prepared dorm just in time, the lingering rear-guard laid down the last of a trail of calcium pills before scooting into a hiding position.

  Spyke followed the trail, armoured-up and on guard for traps. In stead, all he found was a brightly-coloured room, a soft bed, a plate full of chicken and a large jug of milk.

  The Jamies even gave him a plastic tumbler to drink out of.

  There were no orderlies. No guards. Nobody. Just this room.

  “The fuck?”

  “We’re not going to hurt you, Spyke,” said Alison. “We’re mutants, too.”

  “Yeah,” said Jamie. “Why would mutants hurt mutants?”

  He kept his armour on. And his guard up. “Because they’re *paid* to.”   Alison sighed. Spyke’s rehabilitation was going to be a long and arduous road. She put the bottle of pills within his reach. “When you run out, or need more, ask for me or Sandra. We’ll help you.”

  He snatched up the bottle and held it tight. “Fuck off.”

  A *very* long and ardous road.


  Warren yawned. It had been a long day. The kids were finally all put away and Sandra had managed to talk McDonald’s into providing breakfast the next morning. Which would leave them with their heads above water until lunchtime. It seemed he finally had a few moments for himself. He needed it. There had been enough time for the personal hygeine most people went through, but not enough for some serious wing care.

  People seemed to think that his feathers were just there, and that was the end of it, but just like birds, he had to regularly oil and groom his wings. Birds had a natural oil gland near their anus, but he had to use vegetable oil. He probably still would even if he’d gotten the gland along with his wings. Getting oil from there just didn’t bear thinking about. With how much time he hadn’t had lately for maintainence, he wasn’t sure he’d want to try flying right now.

  He headed down to the kitchen to get the vegetable oil and a bowl. He was just in time to hear someone leaving quickly. Ther, already lain out, was a bottle of vegetable oil and a bowlful next to it. Did Sandra think of everything? He considered being annoyed, but decided that took too much energy. He would talk to her if she ever did it when he was less frazzled, though.

  Warren sat down and worked on oiling his wings and knitting the slits in the feathers back together. Strange that such a simple thing should be so relaxing. As ever, he had trouble really getting to the feathers most closely attached to his back, but that didn’t matter because he never used them for flying anyways.

  When he was finished Warren considered going home, but decided he was too tired and crashed on a couch instead. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Jamie propped up in an nearby armchair. Jamie started snoring. Too tired to get up, Warren used one wing to chuck one of the decorative pillows at Jamie - hard. There were now three Jamies in the chair, snoring. It wasn’t worth it. Warren pulled one wing over his head and went to sleep.


  Scott sighed and looked at his watch. Damnit. He’d spent as much time dawdling as he possibly could. Nightcrawler wasn’t going to–

  An arm reached out of the shadows and scragged him into them by the neck of his shirt.

  Surprised, Scott could only make a noise that sounded like, “Wa- heurk!” Then he was slammed against a wall, and he could see two glowing eyes in the night.

  This time, he sighed with relief. “You’re late.”

  “Spiral says I think too much for my own good,” said the 'terrorist’. “Heroes don’t make deals with the devil.”

  “I don’t really think of you as a devil,” said Scott. “You’re just trying to help people. Like me.”

  “Less of the insults, 'freund’,” said Nightcrawler in tones that made him unsure of whether he was joking or not. “Time to get abducted.”


  The stench of sulphur. A flash of light and heat. And overwhelming nausea. Scott threw up into a shockingly handy bathtub.

  “Welcome to the three D’s of teleportation,” said Nightcrawler. “Dizzyness, Disorientation - and Debilitating nausea[7].” He laughed. “You won’t be going anywhere for at *least* half an hour.”

  “…ooooohhhhg…” Scott managed.

  “And danke for the pizza.”

  _Pizza?_ Scott coughed up bile at the thought. Then he noticed that his wallet was missing. When had *that* happened?

  Somewhere towards the end of the half-hour, someone picked him up, not unkindly, and escorted him to a bedroom before hog-tying him.

  Scott was just glad to lie down.

  There was a babble of children’s voices raised in joy and awe, some adult conversation slipped through. None of it any real value intelligence-wise.

  “–this card to Patch. Use it to get all those medicines he’s going on about. Tech can help with–”

  “–careful with that, dear. It’s hot…”

  “–like this. Yum yum yum. See? It’s just hot–”

  “–some of those boxes below. Especially the infirmary. Nothing like a hot meal to–”

  “–and all thy gifts, we are truly–”

  “Anchovies! YAY!”

  Scott allowed himself a smile. At least he could *really* help. *Really* make a difference. There was no fakery, no PR, no lies. Just hungry people who needed help.

  *Now* he was a hero.


  It was dinnertime back at the Xavier Institute.

  “I can’t believe this!” Jean snarled. “After everything that’s going on Scott still takes off for the night to see his friend. That man is impossible!”

  Jean’s tirade continued, but the Professor saw another problem. “Where’s Jamie?”

  Silence. Both telepaths searched the surrounding area and came up blank.

  Xavier said, “I’ll get down to Cerebro.”


  There is an interesting problem with Jamie’s clones. Occasionally, when he clones himself, the brainwaves of the clones are so closely connected that they muffle the influence of each other during a telepathic search. And searching for a mind’s signature when the individual in question is asleep is already a difficult task. Thus Warren’s temper tantrum made it impossible for Cerebro to get a lock on Jamie.


  In Jamie’s room there was a note to the Professor telling him that he had gone to the Foundation with the others to help out. Unfortunately, Jamie had left the window open, and the note had blown out the window, off the nearby cliff, and into the bay near the Institute. Thus Jamie saw no reason to call, and the others didn’t know where he was.


  And in the Foundation a sole, quiet figure had offered his services as a mutant to put in telepathic shielding to help several children who were having trouble sleeping with others’ nightmares in their heads. It would be up and running through most of the building by the next morning. On the inside it would only muffle telepathy down to a bearable level, but one side effect was that outside telepaths couldn’t scan the building. Forge did do fast work. And this gave him the perfect chance to install some equipment of his own to keep an eye on the Foundation.


  Scott was tired, hurt, hungry, and trapped, but he felt better than he had in a long time. He was finally making a real difference. His heart melted with the laughter of children who had not smiled for too long.


  Jamie was absolutely exhausted, but happier than he had ever been in his whole life. Even sound asleep and with stiffening muscles, he was smiling. He had finally found something he could do right instead of being in the way.


  He billed himself as Piccolo Pete, even though his name was Joe and he played a penny whistle for whatever coin passersby would throw into his money-hat. He occasionally held up a placard that read “Will work for food” when he got tired of piping, and that was what had lead him to a hot shower, clean clothes, and a square meal.

  Joe never really needed much sleep, and the change of venue combined with the chance to crash in an actual *bed* had served to shatter what rest he could get. So he gave himself the job of night patrol and crept between the wards, soothing this nightmare and that away.

  One dear little thing was scared that 'the Bad Men’ would come and get her.

  “Ain’t no bad men,” he soothed. “To many good people here for bad men to get'cha. Don'cha know? Good people drives the bad people away.”

  Still, she and three other tykes insisted on a 'bad man’ hunt. Each kid got flashlights and they searched out the entire dorm. Satisfied, they let Joe tuck them back in and play them a soft lullaby with his whistle.

  Dear little things.

  Joe finished his patrol just as the sun was dawning and decided to put the urn on to boil and get the coffee started.

  So far, the whole complex was using this one tiny break kitchen for meals. And that just wasn’t right.

  Joe sought out Mr. Worthington.

  The angel-mutant was stretching and working some kinks out of his body, mumbling to himself as he went. Nothing that made any sense, just the low-toned grizzlings of the crick-necked couch-sleeper.

  “Mister Worthington?”

  “Mifnuffle?” The man blinked and rubbed his eyes. “Whuh?”

  “Sir, I was in the army once or twice, an’ - well… feedin’ three hunnerd plus outta that teeny-tiny kitchen is just *nuts*.”

  “Ghyurgh…” Mr Worthington stretched. It was really impressive 'cause the wings stretched, too. “I think one of these buildings used to have a restaurant. Should still be hooked up.” He yawned. “Sandra’s bound to know a kitchen supplier’s. Go nuts…” he yawned again. “You put on coffee?”


  “*Good* man…” he shambled towards the kitchenette.

  Some people just weren’t early risers, Joe guessed. He shrugged and made his way around to the front desk, where Alison was poring through Sandra’s rolodex. “*Here* we are. Bulk food suppliers. *Excellent*.”

  “Any kitchen people in there?” Joe asked.

  “Next card,” Alison chirped. “Are you staying on?”

  Joe grinned. “I think I just volunteered myself into bein’ frycook for the little'uns.”

  Alison laughed. “You’re in luck, I found the kitchen. It’s got *palatial* freezers and fridges. The bulk foods people aught to help fill them before we have to sort out lunch.”

  “An’ them hero people are raiding *another* joint *today*…” Joe rolled his eyes. “You need help shiftin’ bags of ground round?”


  “You might want to swing by Fourth and Elk. Bunch o’ my buddies hang out there. Give 'em the same deal you gave me an’ you’ll get yourself a workforce fer life.”




  “Hey, mister…”

  “Mnf?” said Scott.

  “I bought you some pizza.” The little lizard-girl showed him a lukewarm slice. “It’s fulla new-trishun. ’S got anchovies *and* mushrooms on it.”

  Scott had to laugh. Just about everyone in America hated anchovies on their pizza. Not these kids. “Thanks. Can I use my hands?”

  The kid shook her head. “Say 'ah’.”



  “Sir, the X-Men plan to raid the Tucson facility next. I was wondering if we should -er- cut our losses?”

  “No,” said the Master. “Dead mutants get forgotten. Live mutants - become a problem. An *ongoing* problem. Moreso if this 'Humane Foundation’ collapses under its own weight. Problems need to be dealt with - and that, dear boy, is when we step smoothly in.”

  “But - all the research–”

  “–is backed up. We can pick up this one thread in the fullness of time, Shawn.”

  “But *sir*…”

  “One loose thread will not unravel the tapestry, dear boy.” The Master’s hand crossed a few names off of a very long list. “If anything, it is going to enhance the overall pattern. Make the colours stronger, if you will.”

  “What if they *trace* it, sir?”

  “You overestimate our foes, Shawn. They only see what I allow them to see. And, to be frank, the specimen collection was getting a trifle - bulky. Not to mention, expensive to maintain. I much prefer my - slimline holdings.” That same hand opened a chrome door, and row upon row of gleaming, nitrogen-cooled cannisters sat. An immense databank of mutant DNA. “They don’t - for example - have to be fed.”

  “If you say so, Mister Essex.”

  The Master sneered. “My dear boy - if you say my name over an open connection again, I will be forced to give you some short, sharp lessons in *pain*. Be told.”


  “And don’t bother me with trivia, again. If something is important… *I* will tell *you*.”

  “Yessir,” said Shawn Dann. “Thankyou, sir. Might I add, it’s been a privalege–”

  “*Goodbye*,” the Master pointedly disconnected. The man may have been an idiot, but he was a well-placed and *useful* idiot. He served his purpose well.

  Some people assumed that Nathan Essex played chess with people’s lives. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.


  Essex found chess to be *far* too limiting.


  Forge was behind in looking through his information. He’d get to it, eventually, but right now watching to make sure the Humane Foundation survived was more important. With all the problems he’d seen with government programs involving mutants before, it was little wonder he’d bugged, in a literal sense, all the higher-ups and non-mutants involved both with the X-men and the foundation. Taps in the security systems at the Mansion and Foundation took care of spying on the inside, while robotic flying insects installed with tiny cams and mikes took care of outside. He couldn’t allow the bugs inside. Too many mutants that might detect them.

  He would have been very interested in Dann’s conversation if he had heard it. But it was sitting in storage for when he had time to look through his files. Essex was a name highlighted in his reports again and again, and in all the wrong places.

  Right now his mind was occupied with what he had seen. In the Foundation he had recognized the man from the Weapon X work, and he had seen Nightcrawler in their files as well. Did the claw-man have some connection to Nightcrawler. He’d have to find a way to keep and eye on him, not easy with the mutant’s skills and past.

  A pity he had been unable to bug the Legion yet. Their resident technocrat and methods of leaving and entering the scene made that nearly impossible, but he was sure he’d find a way sooner or later. After all, information was his business and lifeblood.