By Paige McKee
"So Paige? Did you ask Jonothon yet?" Mondo asks as he tunes Angelo's stereo.
"Ask Jonothon what?" Paige smiles as she puts her shoes back on. She looks at her watch 6:20 am. Instead of her morning run she agreed to cross-train with Mondo and Angelo today. Angelo never showed up. In fact Paige counted on Angelo and not Mondo to show up. She's never known Mondo to wake up before seven. But with the way he normally falls asleep in class he must be doing something in the morning.
"He watches you. You know? In the morning. He comes out of the basement and watches you as you run. Jonothon does." Mondo smiles. He notices Paige shift uneasily.
"No. No he doesn't. " Paige says. She straightens up. "Okay we have to warm up first or your going to pull something."
"Aren't you going to ask why I know that he watches you?" Mondo asks with a smile.
"Not... really." Paige lies. Something about his tone is menacing like a little brother with a snake behind his back that he's planning to put down your shirt. She knows full well that if he knew that Jonothon was watching that also meant he was watching too. "Why?" she asks innocently trying not to sound as uncomfortable as she actually felt.
"Nothing. Let us warm up then." Mondo smiles. With that he absorbs himself into the ground.
"Now." A different voice is heard in the grotto.
Paige looks down at the concrete that Mondo just vanished into. She turns around and sees something big and brown heading at her face. She doesn't even have time to realize that it's a fist. Her face whips around with a sickening crack. A small pool of blood forms around where she hit the ground it seeps into the small crack in the concrete where he head hit the ground.
Mondo finishes forming out of the ground and with one hand wraps it around her left thigh and picks her up off the ground. "Mondo is plenty warmed up." Then slightly concerned he checks her pulse to make sure he didn't break her neck with the punch. He keeps forgetting that his size makes him a force even without having absorbed extra mass. One of his hands along could wrap around a smaller girl like Jubilee's entire waist. He smiles to himself then lays Paige back down. He crosses his arms over his chest as he watches her eyes move spasmodically under her closed lids. At this point her body under her skin is regenerating, He wonders if it would really matter if he did break her neck. But he can't do that-the game hasn't even started yet. He reaches down and takes a piece of her loose skin between his fingers. It must be wonderful to be able to regenerate. He thinks to himself. He peals the skin away revealing Paige's new form underneath. She coughs slightly. Mondo responds by picking up a branch and bringing it down as hard as he can across her lower ribcage.
Then again. Being able to regenerate means more suffering.
"One." He simply mutters as he tosses the girl over his shoulder like a bad of dirty laundry. He absorbs the blood off the ground with a finger before he leaves the grotto and heads to the Girl's dorm.
Everett Thomas cracks open Jubilee's door.
"Jubes? You awake yet?" He mutters. He listens at the door, not wanting to walk in on the girl at an inopportune time. He hears the sound of the shower in the bathroom, so he decides to come back later. He's heading down the hall when he almost literally walks into Mondo.
"Mondo sorry." The large Samoan bows. Everett looks at him odd. Mondo smiles a big toothed grin at Everett "Is something wrong Ev?" he asks.
"Yeah." Everett says slowly. Mondo's Hawaiian shirt is ripped on the shoulder and his knuckles on his right hand is split open. "I was just thinking if I was going to have to go first giving my speech today." Everett says very slowly.
"And Mondo has what to do with this?" The boy asks as he steps closer to Everett. If Everett didn't know better he'd think that Mondo was trying to intimidate him.
"Nothing. Just that you go before me. That's all." Everett turns and walks away. He turns the corner and walks down the stairs. Outside Angelo is smoking a cigarette. Everett stops as the door closes behind him. "I thinks.. you might be right Angelo. Something's up." He simply says as he feels Angelo look at him.
"I'm the paranoid one amigo." Angelo exhales the smoke slowly through his nose. "Why you moving in on my turf?" He starts to smile but then when Everett turns to face him the smile fades. "Your serious. You got bad vibes about him?"
Everett shakes his head, "I wish I could tell you what it is. I think he's mad at us for leaving him behind when we went on that trip, but he's to nice to say anything about it."
"My Madre used to say that the brighter the picture the darker the negative. You don't get much brighter than that boy, or his shirts." Angelo inhales one last time before extinguishing the cigarette on the he brick wall.
"I'm going to go check on Jubilee." Everett says with a tinge of worry in his voice.
"I'll be right out here if you need anything." Angelo says as he crosses his arms over his chest.
Everett walks back into the girls dorm. He keeps assuring himself that this is insane. Mondo had wouldn't hurt a fly. Unless of course given fly was attempting to eat his food. For some reason the hall is longer and darker than he ever remembered it being. He feels his panic rise as he walks faster and faster down the hall. He gets to Jubilee's room and knocks on the door.
He listens at the door.
No sound of the shower running.
He pushes the door open with a hand.
His other hand in a fist, he can feel his palms sweating.
He walks into the room ready for anything.
Mondo is sitting cross-legged on Jubilee's bed. He smiles as Everett walks into the room. He waves with one hand. ""Allo. Jubilee is finishing getting dressed. She said I could have some of her left over Halloween candy."
Everett freezes as he looks from the boy to the TV. A very familiar movie is playing "What.. are you watching?" Everett asks trying not to giggle, almost forgetting the panic of a few seconds earlier.
"It's the Wizard of Oz. Jubilee said if I play the "Dark Side of the Moon" and it at the same time it does something neat. So in order to be a true American I will have to have done this over a million zillion times. This is my fifth time."
Jubilee walks out of the adjoining bathroom. She grabs her yellow trench coat off her bedpost and clicks off the TV with her free hand, not bothering to turn of the VCR. "Hey Ev." Jubilee simply says as she shrugs into her coat. She holds the door open, "Yoah, Mondo. It's cold out man, what's with the Tee-shirt?" Mondo just shrugs as he follows Everett down the hall.
"Mondo has had a crazy morning." He says as he puts a hand on Jubilee's shoulder
II. ("You were the one who put the stick in my hand.... Let's just kill everyone and let God sort them out."- M.Manson)
Everett looks up at Sean Cassidy, his teacher and the headmaster of the school. Sean looks out the window, back down at his watch then back out the window. Everett slowly unfolds the note Angelo just passed him. It reads "The day Mondo hurts anyone or is a threat to anyone but pizza is the same day that Jubilee passes up a trip to the mall."
Everett can feel his ears burn. He hopes Angelo is getting his laughs in. This calls for a mighty strong revenge joke. Tar and feathering is bit to cliché perhaps tar and grass clippings. Angelo snickers. Maybe tar, glass clippings and broken glass.
"Has anyone seen Paige?" Sean finally speaks his thoughts.
Angelo shrugs, "Yeah. Well no. Was spose to do her morning whatever with her but I didn't make it. "
Sean looks to Jubilee, Jubilee simply answers before he asks the question, "Yeah. Okay Like I actually got up at six to watch her leave. Nope."
Everett again thinks about Mondo's ripped shirt and split knuckles. How did that happen anyway? Why did Angelo pick today when Mondo seemed dishevealed to joke about Mondo changing. Worse, how could he have been so stupid to actually even have a speck of a thought that Mondo could hurt Jubilee?
Mondo raises his hand, "I was expecting to do aerobic exercises with her this morning but she didn't show up. Should we go look for her?"
Jubilee rolls her eyes, "Please. If I ever was late to class we'd start the tests and Sean would go drag me out of bed Jammies and all. Ya'd never delay a test for me."
Monet's perfect voice is heard from the back of class. "That is because Jubilation, you have made sleeping in and slacking an artform. May I advise that Mondo and I go looking for Paige? It shouldn't take us to long with him scouring the ground and I the air. The others can start their tests as planned."
Sean nods and sorts the papers for the test and Jubilee wishes that lighting would strike Monet.
Mondo runs faster than he ever has, He feels his heart pounding in his ears, he wonders if this is how Paige felt. No she didn't have the time. "MONET!" Mondo screams. Why can't she hear him. He crosses his arms and stops running. He takes a couple of deep breaths to get the air back into his lungs. Again he screams Monet's name. Finally he gives up. He must do this a different way. He turns and almost runs into the girl.
"You found something?" Monet asks.
Mondo closes his eyes and shakes his head trying to get over how long the girl was standing there. "Yes." He finally says. "However it is a mystery as to what it is I found."
Monet hovers with her feet slightly off the ground, while Mondo without thinking about it submerges himself slightly into the ground. Monet runs a finger across her perfect lips, "Do you think it is something I should contact Mr. Cassidy with?"
Mondo smiles, "And let Jubilee out of taking her test?"
Monet responds by smiling. "A very valid point. This is something we can resolve ourselves. I'm sure. After all how much trouble could it be to find Paige on this campus?"
"Um. Monet." Mondo says as pulls himself out of the ground. "Follow me. I said we had a mystery. The mystery is not where Paige is." He says and then absorbs fully underground.
Monet flies up in the air and squints against the sun peaking between the trees. For a seconds something seems out of place to Monet. Normally Monet follows her gut instincts, one of the unfortunate side effects of her families legacy, the ability to know. Something seems wrong with the trees and the air. She looks around she struggles to keep the child like panic down. A few meters away Mondo rises from the ground like a man emerging from a pool. Right near the steps to one of the buildings. "COME!" he shouts. Monet chokes down the childish impulses and flies over. She lands right next to him.
"The medical center? Why would we resume our search here?" Monet asks as she steps through the door.
"Because the mystery is not what happened to Paige." Mondo starts as he turns on the lights. "But how it happened."
Monet's eyes were about to adjust to the dark. She has among many things, the ability to see in the dark like it was daylight. But the sudden shift of adjusting to the dark and then to the bright blinds her for a few seconds. She doesn't let on by rubbing her eyes, she only blinks a few times. When her eyes adjust her jaw drops. Paige is rigged up to one of the tables, a respirator turned on and an IV line already tapped. "My God." Monet whispers under her breath. "Did you do this?"
Mondo lowers his head, "Yes. Have you contacted Mr. Cassidy?" He raises his head to see Monet already over at Paige's side running various tests.
"No. I mean.. This isn't really to bad, as opposed to the guttings, impalings and various other injuries that she has endured. Hold on." Monet says as she closes her eyes to concentrate on concisely and formally informing her teacher of them finding their missing student's whereabouts. Something goes wrong. It's as if there is no one out there.
"Monet. Are you all right?" Mondo asks as he puts a hand on her shoulder to steady her.
"I.." Monet starts, a small spot in her head starts to ache slightly like the oncoming of a migraine. "Something is wrong." She says as she slowly brings a shaking hand to her forehead, "it's as if there is no one on campus. Not even you. As if you and I have been cut off."
"Can you contact Emma?" Mondo asks his voice full of concern as he goes over to a medical cabinet.
"No one. I can't worry about this cuz Paige needs help and.. and.." Monet can no longer hold back the child like panic. "We gotta do something Mondo! Go get Sean I'll see what happened to Paige. She looks okay and all but I don't know." Suddenly a sensation like a bee sting hits Monet in her left arm. She turns quickly and her acute hearing picks up on a snap. She looks down. In Mondo's hand is a syringe. "What?" Monet asks. She rubs the spot. Her arm screams in agony with the needle still lodged in the flesh, a small trickle of blood starts down her arm as she pulls the needle out with her finely manicured nails. "Wh-" Monet starts. Then the sensations start. She looks at the syringe in Mondo's hand.
It takes her a few seconds to focus on it, but it seems as if it's empty. Reason sets in. If it's empty than whatever was in it, is now in her. Her left arm slowly burns. It feels worse than when an entire limb falls asleep. It's like ants are dancing up and down her arm with each step of their feet leaving a impression of heat. Monet starts to scream. Not from pain but from the uncomfortable sensation. It works it's way up her neck. The ants under her flesh circle around her neck. Her eyes roll back in her head as she grabs onto the medical table. She tries to grasp at her throat with the left hand but it no longer responds.
"Mondo is mad. That was enough tranquilizer to put out an elephant. Just pass out. You would rather pass out. Trust Mondo."
Monet can't speak anymore she's not sure if she's even breathing. She feels the warm ants work up her cheeks and behind her eyes and down her legs. She can't even feel the tears she knows are pouring out of the side of her face. She mouths the word "why?" she can't even feel her lips as they close. Her tongue collapses exhausted.
"You trust nobody. You would not tell anyone your secrets. We would have helped you. It would not have made a difference. We trusted you, and you betrayed us. Your brother was Emplate. You could have helped us protect ourselves from him. But you did not. You expect you are the only one with secrets? You expected wrong." Mondo walks over slowly to Monet and takes her pulse it's very steady but slow. Her eyes are big brown and vacant. He can't tell if she's slipped into one of her autistic like spasms or if the tranquilizer truly worked. He closes her eyes and takes a rag to wipe the drool and tears off her face. All her voluntary functions have turned off. He puts both arms under Monet's shoulders and drags her off to the research area. He smiles as he opens the giant freezer as he calls it. It's where they take samples and freeze them for shipment. Not unlike cryogenic freezing for a human. In fact much like that. He used to help Paige sort the samples and like. He opens the door and lays Monet in the room. He then locks the door and with a smile adjusts the temperature to 0 K. The Absolute Zero. Wouldn't Mr. Cassidy be proud. He outsmarted Monet.
"Lad. Ye do nate want to be doin' that." The heavily accented Irish voice is heard behind him.
Mondo turns, "Why not Mr. Cassidy? She needs to learn."
"Aye. But killing her will not do that. I do NOT want them dead. This matter is between me and my cousin, not me and the children. I want them alive. How alive does not matter. But only kill them if there is no other choice."
Mondo sighs as he looks in the window of the chamber it steams up slightly with his breath. The small portal shows ice condensing on the young girl inside, the white of the frost contrasting with her dark skin. "Yes sir." He mutters as he turns up the temperature.
"And Mondo lad. Do remember. No longer than fifteen minutes or there will be tissue damage. I didnate come here to kill children. Nor did I bring you here to kill her. These are my students."
Mondo turns and faces Black Tom Cassidy. "Yes sir." He grumbles. A bit more definite this time. Black Tom responds by walking out of the building.
"Two." Mondo smiles to himself as he turns the temperature down a few more degrees.
Everett looks down at his paper. He's been done with his test for over five minutes. He looks over at Jubilee, she's still biting on the end of her pencil, every few seconds her eyes close slightly and her head tilts forward.
The attack of the killer test induced sleep. Jonothon isn't in class today. Why does Sean get bent out of shape if Paige doesn't show up but doesn't even mention the fact that Jonothon didn't show up. The guy is probably sitting back sorting his collection of leather jackets while watching the Rosie O' Donnell show. It's better than sitting in class with a sleeping Jubilee and a Angelo who looks like he's drilling a hole in his paper with the eraser.
Normally Everett is to polite to ask to leave with ten minutes left before the bell, but he's finished his test and it's by far not a normal day. He looks at his watch. Monet and Mondo have been gone for almost twenty minutes. Of course no one is worried, but they might need help looking for Paige. He slowly stands up, not wanting to call attention to himself. He doesn't want Jubilee or Angelo to think he's bragging about being the first one done in the present class.
Mondo adjusts the temperature in the freezer to just the freezing point. He doesn't want her to die without an audience. He sinks underground absorbs his way from room to room until he is back in the medical center. He walks over to Paige and unhooks the respirator. He smiles. Didn't need to use it, but it was a nice touch. It didn't get Monet to bring Sean to him. But the time will come. Soon.
He stops the drip from the IV to Paige and checks his watch. She's been out almost an hour. It should be time. He removes the needle from her arm and slaps a Band-Aid with bright neon smile faces over the small bruise. He stands back and admires his handy work. "Mondo has used the entire campus supply of sedatives and tranquilizers on you and Monet. Wake up." He shakes her slightly. He presses two fingers on the spot where a hour before he broke her ribs. They feel perfectly fine now. He husked her right before sedating her just to make sure she'd be in prime physical shape for the next few hours. Mr. Cassidy's orders.
"Ah'm rilly hungry." Paige murmurs. "We didn't get breakfast did we?" She doesn't even open her eyes. Perhaps he gave the girl a bit to much medication to keep her down.
"Are you okay?" He finally asks, a bit concerned. His thoughts go back to Monet still in the freezer in the laboratory, He has keep coverage of both places before someone else comes looking for them or before Monet freezes past the point of revival.
Paige giggles as her eyes work playfully over Mondo's face, "Yah gonna kill us aren't you?" she starts laughing as if it was a joke.
"No." Mondo says as he puts a arm behind her back and the other under her legs and hoists her off the medical lab table, "I'm not going to kill you."
"Cuz.. why? Ah mean. Ah never hurt ya. Ya'll mah friend. And you know... ah think ah'm a bit drunk." She laughs again.
"Just a bit." Mondo grumbles as he kicks open the med-lab door with one foot.
Paige pinches one of Mondo's cheeks, "Ya know if yah let the others go and not hurt em I'll help you be rich. Ah mean if I can figure out how to turn to stuff like diamond yah can use that and stuff. Jush ya know let the others go. Don't hurt nobody else."
Mondo frowns as he opens the door to the laboratory down the hall. "Mondo doesn't want money Paige."
For a second Paige's eyes clear up and stop darting around drunkenly. In a low voice she asks, "So why are you doing this?"
Mondo responds by setting Paige on the floor against a table. He pinches her on the leg. She winces but doesn't pull her leg away. "So you can feel, but you can't move yet?" Mondo asks.
"Nope." Then comes another barrage of giggling, "Ya know if you weren't so big you'd almost be cute in a pug dog type of way."
Mondo rolls his eyes. "Mondo didn't mean to drug you so badly. You need to sober up. In that freezer is Monet. If you can stand and open the freezer she will live.." He folds his arms over his chest as if expecting the girl to jump up by intervention of God.
Paige responds by giggling, "And ah'ma gonna die if ya don't get me some food really quick."
Mondo rubs his chin. He takes a penlight and shines it into Paige's eyes. She responds by giggling and slapping the hand away from her. "Please Mondo. Ah got the munches really bad. Make it sugar bombs or girl scout cookies." Mondo puts a fist to his mouth and starts to cough violently.
"Mondo will be right back. If you are not here when Mondo returns, everyone dies. EVERYONE."
Paige giggles and waves at him, "Ah'm gonna tap dance outta here. Bye-bye." Mondo quickly walks out the door. Paige smiles slowly as she reaches up to the table ledge above her and pulls herself to her feet. "Yeah. Tap dance." She may have faked not being able to think clearly but unfortunately she wasn't faking the fact she can't move her legs. She grimices as she starts to make her way over to the freezer.
Paige Guthrie has always considered herself her brother's sister. If there was a problem she could handle it. She should be able to, after all she's stood down the Phalanx and numerous other threats. However it's a unanswered phone call that cause her to cry.
Paige screams into the phone. The phone on the other end continues to ring.
The phone rings for the sixth time. "God. Please an answering machine. Anything. Please?" Paige can't stop shaking as she holds the receiver with both hands. She looks up that the handle to the freezer looming above her. If she could just stand up. Monet is trapped freezing to death and there isn't anything Paige can do about it.
The phone rings for the eighth time. Paige screams into the phone. Mondo will be back any second. She's tried calling everyone on campus's number, but when you see the people every day, you don't NEED to know their phone numbers. Suffice to say she only knows two, her phone number which is shared by Jubilee, and Everett's, On account that Jubilee always calls Everett. The phone rings for the tenth time. Paige doesn't hear it she's to busy screaming and crying as if it was the phones fault for not having an answering machine pick up. Suddenly the line dies. Paige turns around and a man wearing a long red coat clasped around his neck with a silver buckle removes his finger from the cradle of the phone. He straightens up. Paige sits with the phone still in her hand, no longer screaming. The man is around eight feet tall, his brow juts out inhumanely, around him as if they were part of his red coat are vines some with thick thorns. He says not a word but smiles. One of the vines lash out and around the phone. Paige doesn't even realize that she's released the phone until the vine crushes it right next to her.
"Lass. Could ye be as kind t' tell me just who'n you called?" The man says as he moves forward. He looks like how she always imagined death. Tall and gaunt, His skin has a rough quality to it, it's browned and looks somewhat like an elephant's hide. His eyes glow red from the sunken eyesockets.
"No." Paige simply states. She feels one of the vines curl around her leg and start to pull on it. "I've almost been assimilated by the Phalanx and killed almost every week. So I hate to say it, but you don't scare me." She lies. She tries to think of who this could possibly be, then she concentrates on holding a form that could withstand any assault the man could throw at her. "Save Monet first, then I'll tell you." Paige says as she tries to move her leg to shake the vine off it, but it still doesn't respond.
"Aye. Tis my intent. But I must say ye are the brave one. I look forward to havin ye be part of me school." He walks over to the freezer, but not before turning back to Paige. "O' course. We will have to work on ye negotiation skills. Ye are in no position to negotiate with me. If I wanted to I would simply torture the information out of ye." He unlocks the freezer and sends a few vines in the freezer to drag Monet's frozen body out. Paige reaches slowly for the scalpel she knocked to the floor on her way to get the phone and try to open the freezer only a few minutes earlier She reaches it and starts to carve at the vine around her leg. Suddenly another vine lashes around the arm holding the knife. She reaches with her other hand but another vine wraps around that hand, it pulls backwards on her, sending her head cracking up against the floor. Grimacing she arches her back slightly so she can see the form of the large man still looking into the freezer pulling Monet out. He didn't even turn around to know she was trying to cut herself free. Something shaped like a skull pops up next to her and laughs "Ye see, Me mind is linked to every plant life on the school grounds. I don't even have to look at you to be knowin' what ye be doin." Paige finally relaxes and tries to think of a new way to warn the others.
Everett unlocks his door and walks in his room. He could have sworn he heard his or Angelo's phone ringing as he came up the stairs. He doesn't understand why Sean didn't send just him to find Paige. Sometimes everyone seems to ignore him. What's the saying? "Nice guys finish last." He opens his window and closes his eyes, he focuses his aura on Paige. With a smile he feels it point to the lab. Strange that area is generally off limits. He sets down his first period books and picks up his books for second period and jogs in the general direction . He passes Mondo as the large boy walks out of the kitchen, he doesn't say hi. Mondo has an arm full of food. Figures. Instead of helping Monet find Paige he's eating. Everett enters the lavatory. His heart stops, he drops his books. The lab is overrun with vines and the walls are coated in what looks like tree bark. Laying on a medical table is Monet. Her normally light coffee colored lips have a blue hint to them, a extremely tall man with what appears to be horns and jagged points emerging from holes in a red trench coat is working on Monet like Von Baron Frankenstien.
Before he does anything else the training that he has received so far at this school kicks in and he instantly synchs his aura to Mondo's and sinks into the ground. "Act. Don't React." Something that Angelo taught him. He's coming back but not before warning the others. He absorbs and becomes part of the ground, ripping through the ground as fast as he can.
He feels footsteps above him. Mondo. Everett emerges from the ground. "Mondo, there's an intruder."
Mondo turns, his brow looks almost primate and his chin bone is jutting abnormally outward, his skin is near black. Mondo smiles a big toothed grin as he points to Everett. Vines much like the ones from the medlab rip up from under the ground and rise above him. They pause for a second before encasing Everett.
"I don't know what is going on. I don't care. I just know you had better let me go, and you had better do it now." , Everett Thomas says calmly as his eyes match up with the psychotic eyes of the most laid back and relaxed members of his school. At least the boy was once the most laid back. Everett calmly sweeps his eyes over Mondo taking in the situation. Mondo's pink Hawaiian shirt is shredded and what should be flesh underneath is nothing more than a conglomerate of rocks, bark, dirt ,strange roots and vines. The boy's face has even changed shape, originally a plump round like he never lost his baby fat, it's sunken in at the cheekbones. The cheekbones jut out abnormally The rest of Mondo's face looks like nothing more that a primate's skull coated in rock, bark and a sparse patch work of flesh. His eyes normally a gentle brown are now speckled with red veins. They look ready to burst out of the black shadow that his enlarged features cast. "Mondo. This isn't a joke." Everett says calmly. He knows something is wrong. He feels it. Mondo smiles and the vines around Everett tighten. Everett shifts his arms to protect his ribcage from being crushed any further.
Finally Mondo speaks his voice is the same as always but with a slightly more grated tone to it, as if he hasn't slept in days. "Mondo. Is not joking. Mondo is not laughing. Mondo is here to do one thing. Mondo is here to kill you."
Everett lowers his voice to it's calmest tone possible "Mondo. I've been under Emplate's control once. I know how it feels, but you can overcome this. I did. We wouldn't even tell Mr. Cassidy."
Mondo grins, his teeth gleaming against his now brown gums. "Mondo was ALWAYS like this. ALWAYS. Sorry to disappoint."
Everett closes his eyes and synchs his aura to the closest mutant to him. "I'm sorry to." He mutters as he absorbs the vines holding him and walks right through them. He then reaches out with his aura and taps into Chamber's. The rainbow effect of his aura reflects this by flaring like a flame. "Look. Mondo whatever is going wrong we can fix it."
Mondo smiles, "Mondo wonders.. can you get to Jubilee before Mondo does?" He changes the pitch of his voice slightly everytime he says his name in the third person, as if the name itself were intended to hurt Everett's ears.
Everett tilts his head slightly to the side, but doesn't let up on his concentration. He knows Mondo is trying to distract him. "What does J have to do with this?"
"Well if Mondo kills her and drops her head at your feet. Mondo thinks you will fight me."
"Is that so." Everett says. He feels his fists clench and a muscle in his jaw lock. "I don't need anything like that to inspire me. You do NOT threaten my friends. I don't want to hurt you. But you are really pushing it." With that Everett concentrates his aura and channels all of the imitation energy and throws it forward at Mondo . Without even thinking about it he points a finger and his aura retracts to normal around his arm and then back around his body.
Mondo's head whips back although
the blast caught him square in the chest. He screams and rakes his fingers,
now composed of limbs and branches down his face in what appears to be
Jubilee raises her head across campus she could have sworn she heard a scream. Angelo is to busy with his headphones on. She looks to the front of the room. Sean Cassidy is doing something she never thought she'd see him doing. He's nodded off while reading a book. He is the only teacher on campus this particualar day if no one wakes him up.... She looks over to Angelo and down at her last essay question. Must have been her imagination, but then again. Wolverine always said trust your gut feeling. Jubilee's gut feeling says that she should wake Angelo up from his Refreshment's CD induced pen tapping and tell Sean that he nodded yes when she asked to take her test later.
"YOU HURT MONDO!" Mondo screams as his head whips back forward almost mechanically. It looks almost human again.. Almost.
"I told you. Now just stay put. When Emma comes back we'll get you help. Just calm down. Everett says as he re- focuses his aura, this time to match Mondo's again and tries to control the vines hopefully to make a point. Nothing happens. He quickly shifts back to matching his aura back to Jonothon's. Someone else's mutant power must be manipulating the vines. He or she must be behind Mondo's behavior. "Who's controlling the vines Mondo?" Everett asks calmly.
Mondo responds by smiling and raising both his fists to his face and then thrusting them downwards to his side. The ground around Mondo split open and large vines rip up from elsewhere on campus, uprooting anything in the path. The last thought Everett has where did all these abnormally large vines come from? He hears a building explode behind him.
A few seconds pass where everything goes black for Everett. He feels something rush past his face. He realizes that he's been pulled underground. He isn't to sure but he think he hears what sounds like fireworks above him. Jubilee. He reaches out one last time and synchs with Sean's ability to generate sonic screams. He doesn't know the little tweeks of Banshee's power, he just does the one thing he does know of Banshee's. He screams. Loud.
"BACK OFF!" Jubilee screams as she send another shower of pyrokinetics directly at Mondo's face. Jubilee jumps up on one of the vines that thrash around in response to Mondo being blinded. At the exact same time Angelo leaps off of a branch of the nearby oak tree extending his fingers and looping them around Mondo's neck and chin multiple times. He lands on Mondo's back and with all his might pulls back using the momentum of his jump and kicks off Mondo's back as he retracts his fingers resulting in pulling Mondo's head back. He shifts his fingers as best as he can revealing where Mondo's Adams Apple would be located.
Sweat pours off his brow as times seems to stand still for Angelo Espinosa, he never thought the day would come where he'd have to use his street honed kill or be killed training against a friend, "NOW!" He screams. He pulls back on Mondo even harder, praying a second is all the time Jubilee needs. Jubilee jumps up off the vine pulls back her fist and like Angelo uses the momentum to deliver a solid with all her might punch right to Mondo's neck. Angelo can feel punch with some of his fingers. It hurts, but not as bad as taking a direct kick to that Adam's apple. Angelo lets go of Mondo's neck as the boy falls backwards onto him. Mondo never had a chance to react.
Then something happens Angelo didn't expect. Mondo stops. He rolls to his side granting Angelo to crawl out from under him. "You done Amigo? Now let up on the vines around to buildings." Angelo says as he slowly steps away from larger boy.
Everett smiles slightly, he's coated head to toe in mud but he's glad the reinforcements have come. He pulls himself out of the ground. His vocal cords still feeling a bit raw from screaming his way from out under three feet of mud in the five seconds it took for Jubilee and Angelo to apparently take down Mondo. He rubs his own neck. "Where's Banshee?" he asks, his voice cracking slightly.
"Well I got Angie to agree to ditch class. We were almost our to the door when there was this quake. Course it was no problem for yours truly, Angelo there and me are from the land of the fault. So like anyway these vines popped up and blocked all the doors. Luckily it was behind us. A few seconds later and we'd be trapped inside like Sean., But hey don't sweat it. It will take him a few seconds to scream his way outta that mess." Jubilee smiles as she wipes a particularly large chunk of dirt off of Everett's shoulder.
Everett runs a hand across his brow, "Teamwork huh? Okay. Paige is in the Lab, Monet's there and so is some weird looking guy. He's probably behind all of this. Angelo. You take care of Mondo. Jubes and I will find Jonothon."
Jubilee looks back at Mondo who's still gasping for air. "I think we should get Sean out of Vinatary confinement first. He's got more experience with the whole mind control thing."
Between coughs Mondo speaks, if they thought he was cured of his mind control it's soon disproved, "It will take him hours even at his best scream to get out of there. His sonic screams have no effect on the vines. It's just between Mondo and you now." He chokes again.
Angelo walks over to Jubilee "The eyes." He whispers to her. Then in his normal tone he looks over to the boys dorm. It's enclosed in vines as well. "I think we should get Jonothon out to babysit Mondo here. One vine comes near him and Chamber will nuke any vegitation-"
"NO!" Mondo screams and suddenly the vines around him thrash to life again. Jubilee rolls to the side but one loops around her waist pulling her back to Mondo. Angelo rolls to his side wishing he had a gun on him or at least a knife . A vine loops around one of his hands and then another five move in for the kill pinning not only his hands at his side but bringing with them smaller vines that cover every square inch of his body. A few leaves go up his nose. He tries to struggle but there's nothing to struggle against.
Everett responds by screaming not at the vines but directly at Mondo. Suddenly something hits him in the back hard. Everett hits the ground and a numbing pain slowly works up his face from where his chin cracked onto the ground.
"STOP!" Mondo says as he absorbs more mass from the ground below him once again looking evil, his hair even seems to reflect the unnatural roots and vines. "If you move Mondo will crush Jubilee and Angelo." Everett sits up slowly . There hanging upside down by Mondo is Jubilee with a vine around her waist. On Mondo's other side wrapped up like a green mummy is a form that Everett can only guess is Angelo. "Hey. Mondo. Big boo boo on your side man."
Jubilee says as she smiles dispute hanging up side down. Mondo turns his head slightly to look at the girl. "You forgot one major thing. You may be composed of rock and dirt. But your eyes ain't."With that she sends a shower of sparks directly at Mondo's face. The boy screams and falls back. Instantly Jubilee uses her pyrokinetics to eat away at the vine around her waist. Another vine this one with thorns counter by looping around her leg and boot. Pressing deep and hard into her leg piercing the flesh. Jubilee screams as she avoids the reflex of pulling away which would cause the thorns to rip at her and quickly shoots another round at the vine detaching it from the ground and thus cutting off it's sentience. She unwraps the vine from her leg. Her mind working to fast to register any pain. Another thorny vine Loops around her boot and another comes directly to her neck. She automatically fires off her pyrokinetics at the vine coming at her neck. She unstraps her boot and kicks it off while firing any thing that moves near her. She finally gets up. She turns to run when another vine this one thick enough that her pyrokinetics has no effect on it loops around her waist like a python and pins her arms at her sides. She looks over to Everett. He's laying slumped over Mondo's shoulder. Jubilee hangs her head. It's over.
Monet turns her head slightly as she hears people entering the laboratory. Her whole body screams in agony back at her. She wonders, is this what her brother's every day of existence is like? Was he lying about the eternal torment he allowed upon himself to keep her safe? How would she know if it was a lie or not.
However she doesn't think his pain is the same as the kind she is feeling now. A few minutes ago a man that introduced himself as Black Tom revived her. "Defrosted her" as Paige grimly put it.. Monet turns her attention back to the doorway where Mondo emerges with three others. She can only assume that the blend of vines and limbs sticking out are the rest of the team. Mondo drops them next to Monet. Monet strains her neck to get a good look at Jubilee. "Jubilation. Are you aware that you only have one shoe on?" Monet says straight-faced.
"Very good. Yeah. Shut up M." Jubilee grumbles as she spits out a few leaves.
"You all okay?" Paige grumbles as she moves her leg slightly.
"Yeah everyone's fine. Isn't the first time we've been bound up. Hey, Could be worse." Jubilee mutters as she looks over to the complete mummy of Angelo and the unconscious Everett.
"Really. How?" Monet asks, her voice dripping with an icy chill.
"Paige could be dressed up as Ronald McDonald again." Jubilee snickers. She knows that the only way to get out of this is to keep everyone positive. Paige glares at Jubilee. Apparently not everybody realizes that if you let your spirits down you've lost a fight.
"If I could move my legs Lee. I'd kick you." Paige simply responds.
"So who's big tall and thorny." Jubilee asks as she tilts her head in Black Tom's direction. Her hands are independently binded behind her back. Another large vine is wraped around her waist keeping her down.
"I sure hope he's not thorny." Paige snickers.
"Paige. I normally reserve this for Jubilee and thought I'd never say it to you. But, This is not the time or the place." Monet frowns, if only she could move she could rip free of these vines.
"Yeah.. there's one thing they forgot. They knocked out the guys, You still can't move, Jubilee can but her powers aren't working, and I can somewhat move but my powers are no good to either of us."
"I'm missing the point." Monet states. "Easy. Just keep a watch and cough or moan or do something if either Mondo or our new teacher looks this way. I'll free Jubilee's hands, then she can go get Banshee." Paige remarks.
"Or Chamber." Monet amends and
secretly delights as Paige looks uncomfortable for a second.. It's almost
delightfully annoying for someone above such feelings to watch those two.
Monet smiles dispite the pain. She then applies herself to the task at
hand, going a step further and actually attuning her ears to hear the conversation
across the lab.
Black Tom Cassidy makes sure the airvents have been completely flooded with his vines. He's waited a long time for this. He feels his cousin angrily hack away at the vines that have encased twice over the entire building where the children normally have classes. Unfortunately Mondo wasn't as effective as Black Tom had hoped. The original plan was to rip the children away from Sean with him still there. He feels Sean's frustration and knows his cousin feels completely helpless. Perhaps having mock corpses of the children would be a bit to much or not, what if he could get Sean to believe they were alive and he simply gorged their eyes out or ripped of limbs and that they were suffering instead of really being safe as they are now. That would make the revenge that much sweeter. He looks back at the children. The strong one named Monet coughs. In what little of a soul Black Tom has left he feels a tinge of remorse. The intent wasn't to harm the children but to kill their teacher. These are the next generation of humanity, He will take them from his cousin just like he took away his daughter. Terresa should have been his daughter. Sean didn't even KNOW about her. He ripped her away. Terresa was everything to Tom. Everything. He'd wake up in the morning to her smile and her hug, He watched her grow up. She looked like her father with her beautiful long hair but it didn't matter. Her deadbeat dad then came back and ripped her away, and with that his heart. He'll have his revenge. He'll let Sean know what it feels like to have someone you love taken from you. He turns back to Mondo who's watching TV.
"Mondo Lad. I want you to take t' wee ones. Load them up in the pod. I want them nice and safe. I don't be want them witnessing me fightin me cousin."
Mondo snaps back awake "Mondo still has to get Chamber and the kids in the biosphere. Mondo thinks that talking duck is with them."
"Aye. Well I am going to go do me own work now. Just do what I tell ye lad and everything will be wonderful." Tom says and with that he melds into the ground much like Mondo.
Mondo slowly gets up and walks back to the group. Monet starts to moan about her leg. Mondo doesn't care. Paige looks up. She's crawled her way to Jubilee. Mondo reaches down and picks Paige up with one hand and rests her sitting up nest to Jubilee. "You tricked Mondo. You lied to him. Back there. Why?" He breaks eye contact with the three girls and goes over to check on Everett and Angelo.
"Isn't to fun when it happens to you. Is it?" Monet shouts over, answering for Paige.
"True. But Mondo has... Own reasons for doing this. None of you will get hurt."
"HA!" Jubilee laughs out loud. "Like what you did to Monet didn't hurt. Look at her Mondo. She's not moving. Is there anything going on in that head of yours?" Paige mutters something to Jubilee.
Mondo turns back to the three girls. "Your right. Mondo doesn't care. Mondo wants you all DEAD! Do you know why? Nobody cares about Mondo. Paige and Jonothon constantly worrying about each other. Jubilee constantly worrying about dumb things. Monet to secretive. Nobody cared about Mondo. People just say Mondo's name like he is stupid or it is an insult. But Mondo outsmarted ALL of you. "
"If you are so smart. Then where's everyone else?" Jubilee asks as she feels Paige loosen the vine around her left hand a little more.
"Mondo will be back." Mondo simply says as grabs Angelo and Everett and throws them over his shoulder and walks out the door.
II. "I'm Just a Girl"
"Hurry up hayseed" Jubilee hisses as Paige rushes to to untie the almost foot thick bind of vines around Jubilee's arms and hands.
"Look. Ah'm not that good at this. Like to see you do this under all o' this stress." Paige exclaims, her accent betraying her panic.
"Paige?" Monet asks as she again has another wave of frostbite induced pain.
"What?" Paige asks impatiently as she even starts to bite at the vines around Jubilee's wrist in an attempt to loosen them.
"I was considering something. I think there is a reason he kept you here. I think the minute Jubilee gets free you both should get out of here."
"Yeah and leave you behind. I don't do that." Paige mutters as she spits out a mouth full of vines and green spit.
"Paige. Think about it. Why weren't you already loaded up and gone in that pod that was discussed? Why did he keep you around for the entire three hours of this ordeal?"
"Ah- I don't know I don't care. Are you sure you can't move your hands. I could use some help here."
"I can move my hands as much as you can move your legs." Monet replies.
"Almost there." Paige smiles dispite the numbing taste of chlorophyll. She continues to rip madly at any loose vine around Jubilee's hand.
Jubilee smiles, "Yeah I think I can almost move my fingers."
Suddenly Monet goes into a violent fit of coughing. Paige grimaces "No." She groans and tries to move even faster. She continues to rip at the vines around Jubilee's hands even as she feels Mondo's fingers intertwine with her hair. She continues to rip at the vines as she feels him pull her head back. She finally stops when he grabs her by the hair and throws her across the room and up against the metal cabinets. A few beakers shatter.
"NO!" Jubilee closes her eyes
and screams as she erupts with a burst of fireworks effectively freeing
her hands. She sends a shower of sparks a Mondo's face and then turns and
runs as fast as she can out the door, leaving Paige and Monet behind. Tears
stream down her face. If she were to take Monet they'd both be caught again.
There was no way to get to Paige.. She only hopes the other two understand
this. She blows away any vines in her path, having a hard time seeing because
the tears will not stop flowing. Would Wolverine have done the same thing
to her? NO. Don't think about that. A million thoughts flood Jubilee's
mind. She tries to drown it out with the simple instict of "run."
Mondo rubs his eyes. He looks down. Paige smiles slightly her eyes trying to focus on his face. "Ooops." She mutters.
"Hum." Is Mondo's only response as he picks Paige back up again with one hand around her neck. He looks over to Monet. "What a shame Monet can not move? If Monet can stand Mondo will stop. Now."
Paige grabs onto Mondo's hand with both of her hands. She tries to get a hold of his littlest finger but his grip is to tight. If she could just get it she could get free. She look over at Monet. Monet almost looks like she's ready to cry.
"You can't can you? Paige could not save you. Now you can not save her. And now Mondo has won."
Paige snickers. "Please, you lost Jubilee. Ya'll don't have Chamber or anyone else. Ya can't fight psionic energy."
Monet responds by whimpering, "no. Don't.. do this Mondo Paige tries to kick with her right leg but there's still no response. She looks back up to Mondo. Paige can't figure out what could possible make Monet actually beg. Paige always assumed that they were the same. Paige would never beg for her life, she'd rather die first. She thought Monet was the same way.
Monet continues to plead, "You don't want to kill. You know you don't want to. Please stop. Let Paige go." Paige is past a little confused. Yes she's been thrown around but somehow she doesn't see Mondo as preparing to kill anyone really, just to bluff a lot. She concentrates on changing into a hard form under her skin just in case.
"Mondo knows that Mondo is no match for psionic energy. But Paige is." He says as he smiles. Suddenly it snaps. Paige realizes exactly what Monet was trying to tell her a few minutes ago. She realizes that Monet wasn't begging for selfish reasons but begging on behalf of her. She starts to struggle for a whole new reason.
Mondo smiles evily as he takes his free hand and gently untucks Paige's shirt. He places his hand on her stomach. Paige screams as his hand passes through her outerlayer of skin and vanishes. Monet screams as Mondo's arm starts to turn into gray and green rock. The color and form slowly creep up his arm as he assimilates Paige from the inside out.
Monet St. Croix once believed that as being the sister of the parasitic genetic vampire known as Emplate she has witnessed a lifetime of horrors. It quickly becomes apparent that she was wrong. Nothing could have prepared her for this. She watches open mouthed with horror as her classmate and friend goes into convulsions as another one of her classmates forces his hand further into her stomach and out between her shoulder blades. Mondo turns and smiles evily at Monet. Monet doesn't know what scares her more the fact that he is doing this or that he's apparently enjoying it. The back of Paige's shirt bulges slightly then he absorbs the fabric as well , allowing his hand to emerge from it. His hand , arm and a good portion of his chest is stone. Apparently the same kind Paige would have become if she husked. Still impaled on Mondo's arm Paige simply twitches one last time before head hangs limp and her hands slide slowly off of Mondo's left hand. Monet simply shakes.
Not a drop of blood. No gore. And yet it was one of the most horrific things Monet has ever witnessed. "No." Monet whispers. A tear goes down the side of her face. She can't believe that someone like Mondo would have it in his heart to do this. To assimilate and absorb another living being from the inside out.
Mondo takes Monet's horror as a compliment. He pondered the possibilities of doing this for a long time. He can absorb fabric easy. He can absorb rock as easy as breathing. He's just never tried absorbing something as complicated as flesh. Apparently he can. Not to well but better than he expected. Luckily there were only two contact points where his hand had to touch. He smiles as he lets go of Paige with his left hand. He doesn't think he's ever had this much of a rush before in his life. He has to hold back the sudden urge to burst out laughing. He's never felt so happy. He turns and looks over to Monet again. She's shaking and she looks like she's going to scream. He presses Paige into his chest, not absorbing her but melding with the fabric around her clothes keeping her inside him.
"You. Are. Insane." Monet finally manages to say.
Mondo turns around. Paige's arm is sticking out of his chest and part of her face. To him it reminds him of the movie Aliens. The hives where they plant the humans before the alien babies did whatever.. he doesn't remember he left the room to get some soda."Isn't it neat M? Yet if Mondo is insane then why are you here?" He turns his rock hand over adoring the feeling of it all.
"You killed her." Monet simply whispers, her voice dripping with venom mixed with her perfect English. Now she can't help but think of that gruesome American movie called the Blob.
"No. Mondo did not." He puts
his stone hand on his chest right above the submersed head of his classmate.
"Mondo can feel her heart beat. She's part of me just like the rock Mondo
assimilates when he walks through walls, but she is a rock with a heart.
But a rock. It is easy to assimilate something Mondo is used to assimilating.
This is also a rock that Jonothon will not blast. If Mondo passes out he
can't stop from fully absorbing her. If Mondo stops breathing. She stops
breathing." With that he walks over and picks Monet up with his stone hand.
If Monet could move she doesn't try. She simply lets her eyes roll back
into her head and for the first time willingly gives into her trance.
Jonothon Starsmore was never happy. But the ground shaking and sending his prize guitar crashing to the ground after he spent a good part of the night tuning it doesn't make him any happier. When he ran out into the hallway to see if anyone was hurt and realized that he'd missed his eight am classes and almost a good chunk of his nine o clock classes-It made the day go up a notch on the bad meter. When he opened the door and was greeted by a green wall where the quad should be- he moves past having a bad day into having a very mad day. Now he's finally finished using his psionic energy to blast through the wall of weeds. He estimates that the door must have been blocked by at least three feet of intertwined weeds. His head spins a little bit like a normal boy when he's run a bit to fast and suddenly stopped. The correct term couldn't be winded as most of Jonothon's thoracic cavity has been eaten away with the psionic energy. He looks around slowly at the campus. Almost ever building is coated in these abnormally large vines. He looks around. If he were any other person he might be terrified at the sight of the campus looking like an alien landscape. Jonothon simply starts to walk to the middle of the quad.
"What do ye think? Do ye like it lad?" a voice asks him. Jonothon turns. One of the vines has a form of what looks like a distorted skull with very sharp and maligned teeth on it.
"Very Geiger like mate." Chamber simply says. The sentient branch apparently doesn't hear or understand him. It sinks back into the vine as if it was never there.
Something in the pit of Jonothon's soul tells him to turn around. He slowly turns around and there leaning up against a tree casually is Mondo. With an almost innocent grin Mondo points to his chest. "Your freedom or hers." Is all the boy says. It's all he needs to say. The fight with the most powerful of Generation X's students is over without even begining.
Mondo pulls himself out of the ground in front of the old church. He looks up defiantly at it. His orders are clear. Find Jubilee and kill her. Black Tom has already launched the pod. The pod to protect the others. They are safe. They will be safe. So what happens when they come back? Another fit of coughing rakes at Mondo's lungs. What happens to him when Black Tom starts up his new school? He isn't going to be able to be in the same classes with these students, even if he is their superior. So what now? Caught up in the concept of revenge he never thought about it. He stops for a few minutes. He kills Jubilee and that's the end of it all, but what happens when the others come back and find out that he killed Jubilee. He pushes the thought to he back of his mind. He has more important things to worry about. A sonic scream is head in the distance.
"Mondo. Lad. Where'n the others? Are they safe?" Sean Cassidy asks.
All the hate Mondo has for Sean blisters. He hates how it's always the others, never him. The others go on trips, the others aren't treated like second rate students like he is. He just took down all the others. The others don't deserve all the babying he gives them. Mondo doesn't even turn around, he simply looks down into the ground as he absorbs the mass from it.
"You don't deserve to teach this school." Mondo simply mutters, "You were a criminal many times. You've killed people and you never paid for your crimes, instead you become a teacher. Then you baby the others to make up for your crimes."
"What are ye talkin' about?" Sean asks warily as he approaches the Samoan that's slowly growing in size. "I never killed."
"Right." Mondo says as he turns and grabs Banshee by both shoulders and using the extra mass to gain momentum throws him directly at the old woodwork church. "But Mondo does!"
Sean feels the glass shatter behind him he tucks his head in the best he can. He still feels shards of glass lodge in the back of his neck. He's been through worse, but this doesn't mean that this is any less pleasant. He starts to lift himself up when a vine smacks him hard across the face. His eyesight goes red as he feels his nose shatter. Before he can gasp back the blood oozing down the back of his throat a vine loops around his neck.
Mondo watches and smiles. "Good. It worked." He He never thought capturing the teacher would be easier than the students.
Sean strains against the vines, he gasps out something but Mondo doesn't hear him. The man is pathetic. How could he not have known his students were being picked off. The whole school fell in almost under two hours with minimal effort. "Aren't you Proud?" Mondo asks as he assimilate the wall to the church and presses forward, " Or didn't you realize? While you were learning about Mondo. Mondo was learning about you. How to stop you. How to kill you." The boy smiles evily. He has absorbed enough mass to crush Banshee's face with one hand. How tempting it is.
Banshee gasps for air and every word seems to be agony for him to say through his bloody and broken nose and the vines that press into his windpipe. "Jus' help me.. find..." He takes another gasp of air "kids." His eyes close and he inhales through clenched teeth "Lad, whatv'er's wrong." Again his lungs fail him and he has to strain once again. "C'n work out." He finally manages to say.
"Ye need not Worry yer head about yuir Former Charges anymore cousin Sean." Black Tom says as he rises out of the ground behind the bound man. He's changed his appearance slightly, for the horror effect. He wants his cousin to see just how he feels on the inside. He looks at Mondo. Mondo's part in this battle is done. Now he must find Jubilee before Jubilee someone else finds her and saves her.