t h a n k s: To everyone at the Corner, especially River, Lise, Jono, KG and Mel. Merci beaucoup, people!
d e d i c a t e d _ t o: River and Lise.
c h a p t e r _ e l e v e n
I took one look at my room and decided that I wanted to stay there forever. If this place had roomservice, possibly longer. Rick and Iz had disappeared down the hall, Izzy looking for a room which had a mirror in the ceiling (I didn't want to know why), Jana was wandering about looking for ice and I had no idea where the others had gone.
At the moment, I didn't care either.
This was a lovely, lovely room.
I beamed at it.
There were lots of oak furniture, red cloth and the bookshelf of my dreams. It looked as though it might look better with some things haphazardly spread around. I dropped down in the couch and beamed some more.
I could go for being on the run if it got me rooms like this.
I looked around, looking for a window, and spotting none. I frowned. Okay, slight drawback. But I could live with it. I looked around some more. Bedroom. Yes. Must check bedroom.
I got up and wandered over to the bedroom door and opened it. I blinked. "Oh. My."
Jesus. Tigerstripes. Black. Silk.
When Rick and Iz saw this, they were going to die.
I closed the door. How the heck was I going to be able to sleep in there?
I shook my head. Well, I'd find a way. If I managed to sleep on cement floors, I could manage to sleep in... that...
Where was there food?
Okay. Where was the kitchen?
I regarded my room thoughtfully and wondered if I should brave the hallways. I hadn't paid attention to where we were going when Rogue were showing us our rooms, so I had some serious doubts as to me being able to find anything at all, except possibly the lift mechanics room. However, since my stomach was going 'feeeeeeed meeeeee. feeeeeeeed meeeee', I decided to at least give it a shot.
I did wish for some breadcrumbs though.
* * *
I found the control room.
I knew it was the control room by the number of screens on the wall and the amount of people going "sector 4 security breach. No, disregard that. It was a rabbit." and "Team Delta reporting in, nothing new, they're continuing on to Tango Four Gaia."
I took a step forth to ask someone where the kitchen/cantina/whatever-as-long-as-it's-got-food was and promptly tripped over a wire.
A voice raised in alarm, "Commander, my screen's gone black!"
"What?!" The darkhaired woman that was apparently the commander whipped around and stalked over to the man in front of the now black screen.
"I don't know what happened, suddenly it was just..."
I got on my feet, blushing dark green. "Um. Eh. Look, I just... tripped. Um." I held the wire up for them to see. "I didn't mean to..."
"Who are you?" The commander asked, looking suspicious.
"Alex. Olsen. I came with, uh, some Xavier kids?" I pointed at the door as though Rogue was standing there, ready to confirm my story.
The commander sighed. "Why am I not surprised? Let me guess, you're looking for food?"
The commander looked around. "Sek, show mr. Olsen to the cantina too."
"But...!" Sek said.
The commander gave her a look.
Sek sighed and got up of her chair. "Yes, ma'am."
Sek stalked ahead of me to the cantina, opening the door for me and then disappearing almost before I'd had the time to enter the room. The first people I saw were Jake and Remy sitting by a long table, building a tower out of salt shakers and ketchup bottles.
"You can't put the pepper there," Remy said patiently. "You'll make the whole thing fall down."
"Will not." Jake put the pepper where he wanted to put it.
Half the tower land-slided down.
"Don't. Say it."
"I. Told. You. So," Remy said slowly, pronoucing each word perfectly.
"Is that an offer?"
Jake whacked him over the head. "No. No offence, but ewwww."
"Thanks so very much."
Jake shrugged. "It is ewww, Don't tell me you don't think it's ew."
Remy turned his head to look adoringly at him.
Jake frowned back.
Remy continued staring at him.
"You... don't think it's ew?" Jake was starting to look worried. I could see he was starting to buy into Remy´s you´re my long lost love´ act.
Remy continued looking at him, expressionless.
Jake really looked worried now. Then he gave a gasp of outrage and whacked Remy hard over the head. "Son of a bitch, don't do that to me, man! You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Remy laughed, ducking his head and rubbing it.
I shook my head at them and went to find some food.
Hee. They had tiny little butter thingies. And jam thingies. How very cool. I beamed at the things, spread them out on pieces of toast and ate it.
* * *
"AlexAlexAlex!" Izzy fell into my room, looking panicked. "We've trouble. Or not us. But them. Lots of it. Come on!"
The them in trouble were our Canada bound friends. Apparently they´d been too slow and had been picked up by the military. Xavier´s people were working on a rescue now. Izzy, Rick, Jana and I alternately wandered around and looking at people working, and working ourselves into worry-fits.
Probably quite distracting and annoying, but none of us considered that at the time. And even if we had, I don´t think we would´ve cared.
Eventually, Rogue came and showed us into a different room. It had a huge view screen on one wall, various computer equipment, small tables and chairs. It was all very black, for some reason.
Here, she said, making a wheel of fortune´ gesture. You can stay here and watch, if you like. Probably won´t see much, though. Doop´s out there with a camera, but he can´t risk being seen. You´ll get the headset talk as well, if you like.
Yeah, yeah, yes. I want to know... I want to hear what´s going on, Iz nodded quickly.
Rogue nodded. I´ll tell Sek. She´ll fix it for you. She turned to walk out, and stopped in the doorway. There´s a small snackbar in the wall over there. Just press the yellow button. She smiled carefully and left.
I cannot begin to describe how much this sucks, I sighed, walking over to the snackbar. There were several buttons in a nice elevator-like row on the wall. Blue, red, purple, green I pressed only the yellow. One of the others might only cause a minor catastrophy, but even a minor would be one too many right now.
Zzkrzzt U-go Girl reporting in.
We all turned to look at the screen. It showed nothing.
The headsets Jana muttered, walking over to me to pick up a pack of peanuts.
Dead Girl reporting.
Orphan reporting. Enemy in sight.
Vivisector reporting. Following the Orphan in.
This is the commander to all points. First team in position. Second team, move in.
There was a five minute pause.
Spike reporting. Second team alpha in place.
Succubus reporting. Second team delta in place.
The Commander to Ant. Come in.
A slight pause.
Ant reporting. Second team beta in place. Ready, commander.
The commander to all points. You have a go. Repeat, you have a go.
There was a long silence.
I was nibbling my nails nervously. Rick was running his fingers through Izzy´s hair. Izzy was tapping with his fingers on one of the table. Jana was eating peanuts. She was on her fifth pack when the silence was broken again.
Dead Girl to base. Got the target. Moving out.
The Commander to U-Go Girl. Did you get that?
U-Go Girl to base. Got it.
It took forever before we heard something next. Or so it felt. The watch on my wrist seemed to believe it only took a few minutes, but it surly had to be malfuctioning.
Calm? I´ll give you calm, you fucking - Rick? What are you doing here? Gally´s anger turned to puzzled anger upon seeing Rick. We thought you were cross border. Didn´t make it either?
No. Road blocks. You know.
Iz bounced out of the chair and rushed towards Gally. You! You okay? The others? You know anything? Sure you´re okay? He had a worried frown on his face and the only reason he wasn´t all over Galynne making sure she was all right, was that Galynne would probably deck him if he tried.
Gally growled. Of course I´m fine. I´m very fucking fine, as a matter of fact, and I don´t know how the others are because some redheaded little tart swished me out of there before I had a chance to see how the fuck they were!
I took a step back. She wasn´t happy. I didn´t like being in the close proximity of her when she wasn´t happy. She had claws.
Jana didn´t care about claws. She jumped Gally and babbled. Gally blinked a couple of times, then carefully shoved Jana off and away. She brushed herself down and gave a little cat-ish shiver, before looking up and at the black screens. So. What´s happening?
· * *
I feel asleep before the operation was finished. I really tried to stay awake, you know. I really was worried, but... Turned out I was dead tired as well. The whole rescue mission took two hours from start to finish, and I was high strung on worry the whole time. If anybody ever told you that waiting was the hardest thing to do, they weren´t kidding.
We had only a small idea of what was going on, due to listening in on the conversations between the commander and the people in the field and the overview video feed Doop (whoever that might be) was giving us, but we could not interfere in any way.
Nearly drove Izzy completely crazy.
Inactivity is not his thing, especially not when his friends are in danger. As far as I know, none of his friends have ever been in quite this much danger, but everything is possible, I suppose. I don´t know every friend he´s ever had.
Hm. Wonder if he considers Trish Tilby a friend?
Maybe not. He´s not the type to consider his boss his friend. But perhaps a big sister? Someone deeply annoying, whom you still feel warmly about.
Rick was alternating between trying to calm Iz down and stealing peanuts from Jana. Jana finished all the peanuts, then turned into a bat and went around roosting in people´s hair. I paced and chewed my nails.
Galynne stayed with us for a while, but couldn´t cope with the passive waiting and went to see if she could talk someone into sending her back.
Then Montgomery and Moric showed up and told us what had happened in more detail. Getting anything out of Gally without her ranting and meowing angrily turned out to be an impossible task, so I´d quickly abandoned that idea.
Moric explained how they´d been caught on the border. The military had made the van drive through some sort of dna scanner, and upon registring the X-gene present in the persons in the van, had simply confiscated it and placed the people in it in arrest.
Monty´s eloquence in law had been completely wasted, as those who´d actually bothered listening had simply replied; Martial law and then ignored him. Montgomery had been furious.
They had split the group up. Which was also the reason it was taking the X-Men so long to find them all and bring them to safety.
Since Gally wasn´t talking (at least not coherently), we had no idea what had happended to her, but Montgomery said that nothing at all had happened to them. They´d just been tossed in a cell and apparently forgotten about. They had been fed a couple of times, and that was it.
We waited again.
Then Cassie was brought in.
It damn near broke us all, and Jana shapeshifted into a snake in distress.
She needs medical attention, you fuckers, why´d you bring her for? Izzy hissed, fists tightly in Rick´s shirt.
The redhead supporting Cassie so she could stand straight-ish glared back. You think this was my idea? She insisted. There was no talking to her.
Rick and I brought her to the surgery, where dr. Reyes was waiting, intimidating as always.
We sat down to wait. And I feel asleep.
I woke an hour later. Dr. Reyes shook me awake and told me that Cassie was doing fine. Unconscious due to sleep meds, but otherwise good. Dr. Reyes then sent me back to the room with the screens were the others were still cooped up.
* * *
"What's the story?"
"We don't know yet. Who are still missing?"
"Ellis. And Stace and Ron."
"Thank you. I'll send it on." Rogue hesitated. "I just... The situation is becoming quite... What I mean, is." She took a deep breath. "They have to pull out soon."
We stared at her.
"Even if they haven't found them yet?" Montgomery asked, deeply worried.
Rogue looked uncomfortable. "I think so, yes."
"But they can't do that!" Izzy exploded a second after Rogue had left. "They're heroes, or what the fuck, they can't go leaving them! Who knows what'll happen to them? It would probably be worse than what Cassie's been through! They can't!"
"They can't be expected to kill themself in the attempt, though," Rick pointed out. He looked down at the empty glass in his hand, blinked a little, then absently filled it with water while looking Iz, who was pacing.
Iz scowled. "Of course they fucking can. Didn't you hear me? They're heroes! It's what they do!"
After a few minutes of tense silence, Iz threw his hands in the air, said he was going to check on Cassie and went away, still scowling with a vengeance.
Moric came back from the bathroom and looked around. "All right. What's happened?"
Montgomery told him.
Moric blinked a few times, then gathered himself up. "Oh no no no. That's not going to happen. If they think that, they've got another think coming. Who's in change of this place and where is he? I'm going to _explain_ a few things to him." The light in his eyes was quite disturbing.
I took a discrete step away from him.
Jana pondered for a bit, then shrugged and morphed into a wolf. Another disturbing sight. Jana-Wolf padded over to Moric, bit his trouser leg and pulled him towards the door. "Oh good," Moric said, beaming at the wolf. "You can show me the way. That animorph thing is quite handy sometimes, isn't it?"
Montgomery glanced over at Rick and I, shrugged and followed Moric and Jana-Wolf.
I looked over at Rick.
Rick looked back.
* * *
"They're pulling out. The fuckers are pulling out." Moric looked and sounded defeated. He walked in to the room, and headed straight for the bar, Montgomery at his heels. Montgomery appeared to have aged several decades in the last thirty minutes. Never thought I'd experience that saying being true.
"What?" Rick stared. I joined him. They couldn't just leave Ellis, Stace and Ron. Could they?
"Something about casuality rate being unacceptable." Montgomery rubbed his nose and held his hand there for a moment. He sighed. "They can't risk losing people, apparently."
"The fuckers," Moric added.
"So they're pulling out."
Moric gave Montgomery a glass of something alchoholy and grabbed one for himself. They both tipped it down at the same time. Monty gave the glass back to Moric. "More."
"But Ellis, Stace... Ron?" I asked. Horror was definitely approaching. Big time.
"They're fucked," Moric said.
At that point, Ellis and Ron limped in.
We stared at them.
"Take a photo, it'll last longer," Ron snapped, cradling his left arm awkwardly with his right.
Montgomery gradualy started to look less dead. "They said they were leaving you," he said to his brother.
Ellis nodded. "Yeah. Well. We found them at the last possible minute." He looked around, hopefully. "Stace?"
Montgomery slowly shook his head.
Ellis closed his eyes. "I was afraid of that. No possibilty of convincing them to go back for her, I suppose?"
"We tried," Moric said. Apologizing. "We can keep on trying. Maybe..."
"No. No..." Ellis looked down at his hands. "Lose the battle, win the war," he said quietly, trying to convince himself. "I'll find her somehow. With or without help."
* * *
Iz came in to the room, wildeyed and heaving. He dragged Rick with him and they both disappeared for hours.
* * *
I went back to my room and slept.