The story was that Kurt had been called home for a family emergency. But rumours of the ‘truth’ abounded. Some were freakishly accurate, that some scientific laboratory had abducted him for experimentation. But most believed that his student visa had been revoked when he was revealed as a mutant and he’d simply been deported. Fortunately neither Wanda nor Pietro were currently enrolled at Bayville so no excuses needed to be made for them.
“This sucks big time!” Kitty grumbled as she and Rogue walked the corridors, trying to act like nothing was amiss. “We should be at the mansion, helping the Professor and Mr McCoy in the search…”
“It’s been over a month…” Rogue began.
“My point exactly!” Kitty broke in. “Who knows what those creeps have done to him…”
“HIM?” Rogue arched a brow. “Don’tcha mean THEM?”
“Fine…THEM…” She sighed. She wasn’t really that concerned about Wanda and Pietro. She didn’t really know Wanda…and she hated Pietro. But as she thought about it, she began to feel a little guilty. ‘There but for the grace of God…’ She thought.
“What I really hate is the lyin’…” Rogue sighed.
“I thought you’d be used to keeping secrets by now…” Kitty said.
“Well…it’s really only one person I hate lyin’ to…” Rogue corrected herself. “She should know the truth…”
“What are we gonna say?” Kitty countered. “Your boyfriend really hasn’t gone home to Germany ‘cos his Mom’s like totally sick…he’s actually been abducted by a psychotic madman who likes to experiment on mutants?”
They froze when the heard the squeak behind them. The squeak of someone breathing in really quickly after being told something that totally shatters their world.
“Oh…shit…” They said in unison, turning slowly towards the sound.
Amanda stood stock still, eyes wide, mouth agape. They could see the colour draining from her face. Rogue moved swiftly behind her in case she fainted. She was looking at something far beyond Kitty’s shoulder, trying desperately to catch her breath.
“Look…Amanda…I know we like totally lied to you…but we were just trying to…”
“I guess this explains why he hasn’t e-mailed me…” She said quietly, inanely. “I though he was just busy…taking care of his Mom…but I guess psychotic madmen don’t give their subjects access to the Internet…”
Rogue and Kitty exchanged a glance.
“Amanda…” Rogue began.
“He can take care of himself, right?” She grabbed the Goth’s shirtfront. “You guys train for this sort of thing all the time, right?”
“Yeah…” Rogue tried to smile. “He can hold his own…”
“I’m sure he’s totally giving the creep major trouble.” Kitty agreed.
“And with Wanda and Pietro to back him up…” Rogue added. “I’m sure he’s fine…”
Kurt crouched in the middle of the brightly lit room, head bowed, eyes closed, mouth set in a thin, angry line. They had got him here by threatening the others. Riptide had a knife at Theresa’s throat before they could even blink an eye. Scalphunter had devised something to scramble Wanda’s brains, and was threatening in no uncertain terms on using it. Harpoon had a weapon trained on Pietro. And Vertigo had David in a quivering heap. Arclight had then told him no harm would come to them if he behaved, if he allowed her to blindfold him, to bind his hands.
What else could he do?
But he’d be damned if he’d jump through any hoops for them!
It would seem that their…benefactor…was working on the sensory deprivation thing again. They’d slapped a few sensors on him to gather information about him, and then they’d left. He’d managed to free himself from his bonds, and pull off the blindfold.
He wasn’t sure just how long he’d been left alone in the large, featureless room. But this time he had access to his powers…all of them. Unfortunately, he couldn’t teleport unless he could see or knew where he was teleporting too. He didn’t doubt that the chalk-faced man Pietro had dubbed Sinister was aware of that. He couldn’t escape…
At least not physically…
He sat down on the floor and focused his mind the way the Professor had taught him. Kurt might not be a telepath but he did have some mental ability, Xavier and McCoy’s tests had discovered that. It was what gave him his infallible spatial awareness, sort of a sixth sense. He couldn’t read minds or project his psychic essence, but it gave him the foothold he needed on the astral plane. He just hoped the Professor was there to pull him in the rest of the way…
Ororo sighed as Charles wheeled into the Cerebro room, again. Everyday he went in, searching for any trace of three young mutants that had been so well hidden they were impossible to find. He was wearing himself out. But he refused to give up on them. How could he?
He lifted the Cerebro helmet and placed it wearily on his head. He held little hope of actually finding anything, he was just hoping against hope that somehow Essex would slip up, that somehow he’d punch through and find what he was looking for…
He focused his thoughts on Europe…first on England, and then on the continent itself. They had tracked them initially to Canada, thanks to Kitty’s computer expertise, but she’d been unable to crack the security at the Montreal airport. The knowledge he’d gained from Mystique, that Essex was English by birth, had led him to believe that he would more likely be set up on local ground, which had led him to Europe.
He located many mutants, some he even knew, in the British Isles, but not the trio he was searching for. He moved onto Spain, Portugal, then upwards to Scandinavia. His thoughts moved downwards through Central Europe…
And he felt a familiar buzz at the base of his skull…
He focused on it. It was fuzzy, indistinct, but he knew it. At least he thought he knew it. It was both familiar and alien…welcoming and frightening…
‘Professor…?’ The mental voice was little more than a whisper, the slightest brush against his mind.
He was so surprised, so relieved, he answered out loud.
Harpoon frowned as he studied the monitor that showed the blue-furred mutant. “What is he doing?” He wondered with a frown.
“Looks like he’s meditating…” Scalphunter theorised.
“Then why is he smiling?”
‘Kurt…I can barely sense you…where are you…are you all right?’
‘I am not sure…can you pinpoint me or something?’
‘No…your thoughts are too indistinct…’
‘But are you…and the others…all right?’
‘More or less…’
“Lota brainwave activity here…” Harpoon said as he checked the readings.
“Could be dreaming…” Scalphunter suggested.
“Or telepathically communicating with someone…” Harpoon surmised uneasily. “Isn’t his mentor some kind of major psychic?” They glanced back at the monitor where the boy appeared to be in deep concentration.
“Boss ain’t gonna like this…” Harpoon said as they bolted for the door.
‘What can you see? It might help to determine your location…’
‘He hasn’t let us see outside…he’s well aware of what I can do…or at least what I COULD do…’
Xavier frowned. As interesting as it was to note that Kurt didn’t appear to have an accent when he spoke telepathically, what he had said was intriguing…
‘What do you mean what you COULD do?’
Xavier felt a jolt of psychic pain, and could no longer sense Kurt’s thoughts.
Kurt glared up at Scalphunter, refusing to rub his stinging cheek.
“Engaging in a little telepathic tête-à-tête, hmmm?”
“Charles!?” Ororo called as she ran into the room. “Are you all right?”
“Better than Kurt it would seem…” He said softly.
“You found him?” Ororo gasped.
“He found me…” Charles smiled proudly. “But they must have figured out what he was up to…”
“Were you able to determine where he was?”
“Not precisely…” Charles admitted. “Somewhere in Central Europe.” He sighed, removing the Cerebro helmet and massaging him temples. “But at least we know they’re alive…”
Kurt rose slowly from his lotus position, raising his head to look at Scalphunter with an uncharacteristically nasty smirk of his face.
“You really aren’t very bright, are you?” He said.
“What are you talking about?” Scalphunter demanded. He didn’t like the boy’s mocking tone of voice.
“You don’t leave the door open vhen you are trying to pen a line of sight teleporter.”
Scalphunter and Harpoon suddenly found themselves chocking on smoke, a sulphuric stench bringing tears to their eyes. Recovering quickly like the professional mercenaries they were, they spun quickly towards the door, only to find the boy leaning against it, a smug expression on his blue furry face.
“Toodles…” He smiled as he took a step backwards and slapped the door release, locking the pair inside.
He’d been blindfolded when they’d brought him from their cell…no matter how plush it was it was still a cell…so he decided not to risk teleporting back. He knew the many twists and turns they’d taken, but he didn’t know what he’d find in the corridors and rooms they’d passed through.
He moved quickly and quietly, keeping to the shadows. Scalphunter and Harpoon might have been taken care of, but Arclight, Vertigo and Riptide were still around somewhere. And it wouldn’t take long for them to figure out he was freely roaming the corridors.
He had to be careful…
“What do you mean HE found YOU?” Scott asked incredulously. “Kurt’s no psyche…”
“No…” Charles admitted. “But he has a certain amount of psychonic ability…”
“Whoa…” Kitty stopped him. “Are you saying Kurt’s gonna become a telepath?”
“No…” Hank shook his head. “The potential is in his genetic structure…but he has no way of accessing it…”
“Think of it like a DVD player with DTS capability…” Forge said, trying to put it in a way they might more easily understand. “The wiring’s there, but he hasn’t got the amplifier to actually make any use of it…”
“It is highly probable that his progeny will develop it further…” Hank continued. “But Kurt himself will not develop telepathy.”
“At least not naturally…” Rogue said softly. She was suddenly aware that all eyes were on her. “Well…this guy tinkers with mutants, right? He could tinker enough to activate this latent potential, couldn’t he?”
“Possibly…” Hank admitted.
“I don’t think he has…” Charles countered. “His mental connection with me wasn’t particularly strong…I could barely sense his thoughts…but at least we know they’re alive and relatively unharmed…” Charles sighed. “I sensed a certain amount of fear and hopelessness in him…which is hardly surprising…”
“So…we know where they are…” Scott interrupted. “We can be suited up and ready to go in…”
“We don’t have a precise location, Scott…” Charles shook his head sadly. “Just somewhere in Central Europe…”
“We’re talking Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary…” Forge began counting off on his fingers. “Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Moldavia…where do we start?”
“We have to do SOMETHING!” Scott protested in frustration.
“We will, Scott…” Charles assured him. “We will…”
Kurt leapt to the ceiling the moment he felt the floor begin to ripple beneath him. Arclight swore under her breath.
“Infernal jack rabbit…” She growled. “Vertigo! Bring him down!”
Kurt felt a wave of nausea wash over him as the peroxide blonde worked her magic on him. As he clung to the ceiling, fighting the churning of his own stomach, he remembered one of the last things Kitty had said to him…
“Don’t even think about it. You know it makes me sick to my stomach!”
He smirked as he dropped to the floor, startling both women. Vertigo screamed as he leapt at her, grabbing her tightly by the shoulders.
“You can dish it out…” He said to her. “But can you take it?” She looked at him with real fear in her eyes as he flew into a quick succession of teleports, each one taking a greater and greater toll on Vertigo’s body. He stopped only when she was a dead weight in his arms. He threw Arclight a truly wicked look as he let her drop to the floor.
“What the hell did you do to her!?” Arclight demanded.
“Should you not be more concerned about vhat I am going to do to you?” He asked as he moved slowly towards her.
“Why should I be afraid of a skinny little kid?” She asked as she began to back away form him.
“If you are not afraid, vhy are you backing avay?”
“Well…I…” She glanced to where Vertigo lay motionless on the floor. Her attention snapped back when she heard an unfamiliar sound, she’d never heard the sound of imploding air before…
Kurt swung down, feet first, from his new position on the ceiling, slamming both feet into her skull and knocking her cold.
He landed silently and studied her for a moment. “Now…what was it that Harpoon said to me…?” He mused aloud. “’Never let your guard down on the battlefield…’” He quoted. “’It can have disastrous results…’”
He heard a startled gasp and looked up to see Scalphunter, Harpoon and, lurking behind them, Riptide. The little weasel must have let them out. The expression on the Native American’s face gave him reason to pause. He looked unusually upset at seeing the fallen Arclight…
‘Are they involved…?’ He wondered.
“Kid…” He growled. “You are SO DEAD!” He charged Kurt, not even bothering to make advantage of his powers. He seemed intent on tearing the young mutant apart with his bare hands.
‘Guess that answers that question…’ Kurt thought as he leap-frogged over the enraged mutant. Scalphunter spun quickly, managing to snag Kurt’s tail.
“Take him out quickly…” He heard Riptide hiss in a low whisper. Even as he struggled against Scalphunter, weaving and ducking to avoid his blows, he managed a quick glance to confirm that Harpoon had reached for one of his namesakes. Kurt felt the buzz of electricity in the air as he charged it. He knew Harpoon was taking aim at him. He’d felt its sting before, and had no intention of repeating the experience.
A split second before the harpoon’s impact he vaulted over Scalphunter’s shoulder. The startled mutant’s eyes widened as the weapon sliced into his chest. Delivering its charge into his system, Scalphunter shrieked as the electricity arched through the metal components he wore strapped to his body.
“Man…” Riptide whispered. “When did the kid get so fast?”
“Doesn’t matter…” Harpoon shook his head. “If we don’t take him out the boss’ll have our guts for garters…”
“If he doesn’t do it first…” Riptide gestured towards Kurt with a slight incline of his head.
Kurt crouched, ready for action, in the middle of the corridor, eyes glowing brightly, teeth bared, tail flicking back and forth.
“It’s still two against one.” Harpoon pointed out. “And we’ve taken him down before…”
The two steeled themselves.
Kurt just smiled…
Essex watched, extremely impressed, as Kurt finished off Harpoon as quickly and easily as he had Arclight. The boy faced down Riptide, who already feared the young mutant. Riptide began to spin, hurling shuriken and barbs in every direction. Essex frowned. They had been ordered not to inflict any permanent damage.
“I’ll have to have a stern word with him later…” He growled to himself.
Riptide stopped, a maniacally confident grin on his face. It quickly faded when he realised there was no sign of the blue-furred mutant. “What in the…” His voice sounded tinny over the speaker. “Where the hell did he…” He chocked off as something long and sinuous wrapped tightly around his neck.
Essex arched a brow as Kurt followed by wrapping his legs about Riptide’s chest. He held on fast to the ceiling in a way only he could. With the tail around his neck and the legs crushing the air from his lungs, Riptide quickly found himself struggling to breathe. It was only a matter of moments before Riptide joined his comrades on the floor. Kurt dropped to the ground and took off towards his friends on all fours. He shook his head, equally impressed and appalled.
One skinny little boy had just taken out five of the world’s greatest mercenaries, single-handedly, without even breaking a sweat.
He sighed and rose majestically to his feet.
“You want something done…you have to do it yourself…”
Kurt studied the keypad by the door for a moment. He had no idea what to key in to open it. He shrugged, stepped back, and kicked the door in. His explosive arrival took the others completely by surprise.
“Let’s go…” He said to them.
“Uh…you do remember how successful our last escape was?” Pietro reminded.
“You vould rather stay here?” Kurt countered.
“Good point…” Pietro admitted.
Before they could make a move a blast of energy hurled Kurt against the wall. He winced and held his side, his shirt and most of his fur had been burnt away by it. He glared at his assailant with a mixture of pain and anger.
“You know…” Essex said as he approached the fallen mutant. “If you had just made a break for it…you’d probably be free right now…” He clamped a white hand around Kurt’s blue-furred throat. “But you had to play the Good Samaritan…” He lifted him from the floor. “You had to come back for the others…”
“Leave him alone you son of a bitch!”
The outburst startled all present, but none more so than Pietro when he realised it had been torn from his throat. Before he even knew what he was doing, he charged the chalk-skinned mutant, punching him as hard as he could, right in the face. He smiled with smug satisfaction at the resounding crack it made, at the way his head snapped back. Kurt slipped from his grasp, Wanda and Theresa quickly dragging the gagging mutant from harm’s way.
Pietro was preparing to hit him again when he was backhanded across the face. He hit the wall, hard, and slid to the floor.
“Don’t try to play the hero, boy…” The white face leered at him. “It’s not in your nature.”
He took in the five youngsters before him with a look of contempt.
“I have tried to be good to you…” He sighed. He gestured at their accommodation. “I gave you everything you could want. All I wanted to do was help you reach your full potential. But I have been met with defiance, disgust…” He looked pointedly at Kurt. “And outright hostility!” He looked from one face to the other. “If that’s the way you want it…I can play it your way…”
He then turned his attention on Pietro.
“You have dubbed me Sinister…” He smiled wickedly. “Well, my young friends…you’re about to find out just how sinister I can be!”