Compliance was pale, Compliance was thin. Compliance always did what she was told. She had been ordered by her master to kill a feral mutant. She had killed only once before, before she was Compliance. When she was still Jubilee. That was a long time ago, before she had sold her soul for a minute of life. Life for someone she loved.
Wolverine was an indulgent father type; actually he loved his adopted daughter Amiko. He loved her as much as he could love, which was a lot. She wasn't a mutant, and she was a very small child. She had been a very small child, when she'd come to live with him. After 'The Tragedy' he couldn't just leave her in Japan. That event had taught him the importance of having those you love close to you. 'Cause if they had to leave you, or you them, then you had more to remember them by, than if they had been far from you. He had re-learned the importance of this, and because of the tragedy the X-Men had allowed him and Amiko to live in the woods near the mansion.
So today, when she was nearly fourteen, she had asked him to take her to the mall, which made him think of a certain Mall-Rat he once knew. A child then, but by now she must be a woman.
Knowing he *hated* the mall, Amiko shopped as fast as she could. She had to pick up her dress for the dance--she had no one else to take her. She wouldn't have asked but it had been important. He, knowing it was important, had taken her, even though he hated it so.
Compliance always did what she was told. She knew the quickest way to kill him--the mutant--would be a powerful poison. A poison soooo powerful that it would bypass his healing factor, and kill him. Except, Mojo told her to kill him with a laser weapon. So that it was that Compliance, who did not like guns or violence or excitement, was carrying a big gun. She did not like those things because it was usually her they happened to.
She wasn't supposed to have emotion, feel anything. Those were her orders. Compliance was good at following orders, but she wasn't able to follow those. Not all the time. She found herself enjoying the mall, and told herself firmly to stop it. She did not enjoy anything, she told herself.
Almost unconsciously, she scanned her surroundings, picking out the advantages and disadvantages of this place. *Good:* lots of people, lots of activity, lots of noise. In a crowd like this, she could do almost anything and get away with it. It would be easy to shake off a pursuit here. *Bad:* the lights. So bright. This was a place which didn't love shadows. She wasn't used to the lights, wasn't one of the performers. She felt exposed.
There were security cameras, hidden, but not from her.
She glanced in a store window and her steps slowed, stopped. A figure in a mirror. Was that... was that her?
It had been a long time since she had seen her face.
She approached the window, came almost nose to nose with the stranger in the mirror. A thin, pale stranger, dressed in charcoal gray. Leather trench coat, the color of congealing blood. Short black hair, sleek against the skull. But it was the face she was interested in. The face was elegant and delicate, sparse of flesh, devoid of emotion. As she watched, the sapphire eyes opened wide in a faint air of confused surprise. Involuntarily, she raised her hand to her cheek, touched the cool skin. That face...
Her reflection winced in pain as the slender gold band around its throat released an admonitory jolt. Its expression settled once more into impassivity.
No. That face wasn't her. Her hand slipped inside her trench coat pocket, clutched the twist of cloth inside. Her mask. *That* was her face, her real face. The face of Compliance.
Her hand flattened against her hip, patted the holster of the gun through the trench coat. Enough distractions. She was on a Hunt.
"If you can't capture him, kill him," was what her boss had said. She was good at capturing them; the best. But she had read the dossier on this mutant, and she knew she wasn't going to be able to capture him. If she had the poison, yes. Not with the gun.
Her boss, by extension, must know too. Mojo knew everything. Therefore he meant for her to kill him. He was always making jokes like that. She didn't understand the purpose of killing him, but it wasn't her place to try to understand.
She tore her eyes away from the store window and walked away. She was Compliance. She would do what she was told.
It was easy he (her target) was paying attention to the young girl with him, not his surroundings.
He was edgy, almost stressed, so Compliance was very careful. She didn't get downwind, or within his sight. He wasn't telepathic, but the girl might have been. Her master had long since cybernetically augmented her with mutant detecting devices; they could be detected by a powerful enough telepath if she used it close enough to one. The girl she'd never seen before, or had she a long time ago? Something about an island?
The past was not important to Compliance. The important thing, the *thing that mattered,* was finishing her job. In popular cliche--not that Compliance knew this--but they'd say, "it was what she lived for." Which wasn't precisely true. She *was* alive, biologically. But really, in the way that mattered, having hopes and dreams and love, Compliance was deader than Gwen Stacey.
Not one to hesitate, she opened fire. The first bullet traveled through the plate glass, and one story that separated them. Compliance was on the second floor of the mall, with the sky dome above her. Her target (the strong mutant) and the young girl were below her near a dress shop. The semi-automatic handgun she fired, fired in three bullet bursts. The first bullet through the chest, the second and third, too. She leaped over the balcony, landing gracefully, trench coat parachuting behind her. She fired again, hitting him in the head. Three bullets, all hollow tipped, met their mark. In his flesh, exploding like metal fireworks.
Three more bullets. The mutant who healed very well was down on the ground in a pool of blood. He was in motion struggling to get up. Trying very hard, in some fierce primal way, to stay alive. If it had been Compliance lying there, with him shooting and killing her, she would have blessed him in sheer bliss at the finality of dying. How many had tricked her with torture and such, not giving her death?
He wasn't blessing her, he cursed her. He was beginning to heal. Three things left for her to do.
One, she detached from her belt another gun. This one resembled a harpoon, but smaller and lighter. She fired this directly into his still bleeding but healing chest. It stuck halfway in and out. Compliance, knowing the strength of the metal missile when shot from the harpoon/gun, knew he was pinned to the floor as if she had just stapled him. It served a more important purpose than holding him to the mall floor. It also neutralized his mutant power. He couldn't heal around a spiked metal stake standing a foot out of his chest. (1)
Second, collect the DNA sample. For some reason Mojo wanted the sample; she thought he might be laughing at her again.
Kneeling on one knee, Compliance allowed the girl she hadn't been paying attention to to blindside her. Amiko was not a mutant but she did have teeth, and fists, and a great deal of rage at the pale woman who was killing her adoptive father.
Amiko actually bit off Compliance's ear. Compliance being a trained warrior, if not a warrior at heart, easily dispatched her. She threw the harpoon/gun at the slender Japanese girl. Compliance might have killed her, but she wasn't ordered by her master to care so she didn't.
Logan saw his foster daughter thrown away by his attacker and popped his claws. Wolverine cut off the half sticking out of his chest then pulled forward leaving the other half sticking in the floor.
"I don't know who ya are but attackin' me is dumb and attackin' my daughter is a bad mistake." He pulled off the mask to see his attacker.
Compliance's remaining ear practically perked up. The word sounded so... familiar.
If Compliance was capable of anger she would have been pissed that Target Wolverine was so unwilling to die, and so presumptuous as to rip off her mask. Compliance didn't care of course. She shot him in the head.
She, knowing his healing factor, shot him again.
Looking at the mess the corpse made on the shiny tiled floor, Compliance was satisfied that Wolverine was dead. She looked up and over, to the sunroof two stories above. Through her cybernetically augmented eyes she could see two fliers fast approaching. X-Men. No matter, Mojo had prepared her for this possibility.
The third thing to do: Compliance quickly planted the bombs.
The first X-Men to arrive were Storm, the second-in-command, and Angel. They soon found to their surprise that several of the shoppers and employees at the Mall were, in effect, walking bombs. The woman--they didn't know the woman was Jubilee, of course--had planted a synthetic dynamite compound with timers on seven people. If Longshot or Dazzler had been there, they would have told the X-Men that these bombs were favorites of Mojo, and how to disarm them. Storm, or was it Angel?, not knowing that these were Mojo bombs, accidentally set off a bomb trying to disarm it.
Compliance knew this because she saw the explosion as she hastily beat it from the mall. Their purpose, as assumed by Compliance, was to distract the X-Men from Compliance. And it worked, very well. No one made any attempt to go after her, as they all went to the aid of their fallen teammates.
Compliance pondered--as she always did, after a kill--on the One Time She Ever Murdered. It had been long ago, and then as it always did she got zapped. From the collar--slender, golden, subtle--she wore around her neck. The collar hadn't been her idea; she hadn't wanted it when Mojo put it about her neck. She had cared, back then; she would care no more forever. That is, Compliance was beyond caring; Compliance was beyond emotion.
Unaccosted by the X-Men, Compliance made her way to the bus station. She had a pre-bought ticket for Derry, Maine, United States, in the pocket of her trench coat. (2)
Compliance boarded the bus, but not before she got rid of all her weapons. Well, not all: she didn't get rid of her knife--that she always carried with her. Then she cleaned herself up in the McDonald's across from the Greyhound bus station, after she had dumped the bloody evidence that could complicate her eventual return to MojoWorld, if the Law Enforcers accosted her here in this reality.
Her ear was damn near bitten off. The lobe was all that was left. Not being a vengeful sort, Compliance did not care if she had killed the ear-biting girl. The pain that throbbed, then spiked when she cleaned away the clotted blood, was actually welcomed. Compliance didn't know why sometimes she hated pain, and other times she adored it. Life could be like that.
She cleaned all traces of blood from her skin, bandaged her ear with sterilized bandage pads, and wiped the blood down from her coat. She was ready to leave.
On the bus. No one sat by her, although it was crowded and she was thin. It must have been the smell of blood coming from her ear, it had started to bleed again. Perhaps it was the air of lost hope, so complete that everyone knew she was now capable of doing *anything*. She was bad news, their guardian angels said to them, stay away from that chick.
It didn't matter to Compliance. It wouldn't have mattered even if she hadn't been distracted by the hallucination. She hallucinated every so often, it just happened. Compliance in no way initiated it. She didn't take drugs, and she was surprised that Mojo's inhibitor collar against independent thoughts didn't dampen the hallucinations. And she sure was surprised, as surprised as she could get, that the collar never sent an electrical charge to negatively associate her to the Hallucinations.
The hallucinations themselves could be about almost anything. A person or a place, or a thing. Once it was a castle in Ireland--how she knew it was in Ireland she couldn't say. Her assumption was that, since her brain created the hallucinations from an chemo-organic imbalance, her brain had some kind of control over the hallucinations. The castle in Ireland, she watched in her hallucination for a period of three hundred years. Once again she didn't know how she knew.
The hallucination (3) that took over Compliance was one placed in East L.A. How did Compliance know this? She seemed to almost recognize the place--The Barrio. A run down street, a decrepit apartment building, cold-water flats, garbage, poverty, and desperation everywhere. (4) A young man, handsome; with olive skin a testament to the indigeneous people that lived waaaay before him on the little gem of an island, Puerto Rico.
"Angelo--his name is Angelo" Compliance said, startling an elderly couple in front of her. They hadn't thought she could talk, and then were even more startled to discover they had made an unconscious assumption about this--stranger.
In Compliance's hallucination... she watched the young Puerto Rican boy get out of bed--he'd missed school again. He washed his face, put on cologne Congolio--a member of his gang had stolen it for him from Kauffman's. (5) He kissed his mother goodbye, she had just gotten off the night shift at the hospital where she worked in Housekeeping. It was a dirty job, his Mama smelt like disinfectant, and shit, and puke, and blood... jolie de livre! He lit a candle for his dead Papa on the shrine which was the only thing in the little living room not covered in mess. It was one of the few domestic issues that Angelo took active interest in. His Papa's shrine stayed neat, with his Papa's picture, the candles from the church, and the little bowl of holy water. No junk! Or he'd bust his siblings' asses. Because he was bigger, and ruthless, they obeyed him.
A car in front of his building honked. His ride was here; out of the apartment he went. He bounded down the hallway, down the stairs, and out of the apartment building. He was small for his age. He didn't know it, but when his mutant power kicked in, he'd grow taller. Not to be a monster like Colossus or Sabertooth, but taller than what he was. Of course, his growing taller when his powers were untapped might have just been a natural growth spurt. He easily dodged a crack-ho who wanted to "blow" him and his whole family for fifteen dollars, then nimbly jumped over a drunken bum passed out on the steps. He finished his acrobatics by leaping into Torres' shiny convertible 1957 Red.
She's beautiful, Compliance thought.
She smiled at Angelo, her boyfriend. Compliance couldn't hear what they said but it made Angelo blush. She could almost taste the dust and fumes from the exhaust when the roadster sped away.
That was strange, Compliance mused. She had assumed that her hallucinations were caused by a brain tumor that pushed on her frontal lobe. But never before had her hallucinations been so... tactile. She hadn't tasted the sea's brine when she hallucinated the Titanic sinking. She knew enough about human, and humanoid anatomy, to know that a brain tumor could cause her to believe she smelt, felt, saw anything.
The hallucination continued.
It happened like this: or more precisely Compliance hallucinated it like this:
Torres's gang was a little gang, not real powerful, actually not powerful at all. But Torres had an idea, nobody but Compliance and Torres knew this but she just happened to pass a BIG gang leader on the street and her mutant power kicked in. She telepathically read his mind, which is how she knew what she knew. (6)
This was her idea: A big shipment, from Mexico, of cocaine was coming in. The money to be paid to the people shipping it in by the Big Gang leader would be a weak spot. If they kill off the Big Gang leader, take the money, their gang wouldn't be so little. A ripe plum was this idea, so they bought as many shotguns as they could, and went for it.
The money part would take place on one side of L.A., while the drug part would take place on the other side. Torres sent Godke, a crazy f*** in Angelo's opinion, to take out the Big Gang leader. Being so crazy he'd probably succeed, too, but die trying.
The bar where the Big Gang leader's nephew would give the money to the Mexicans was the weak spot. The Nephew was young, no stomach for blood. The bar faced an alley, and it had been chosen by the Mexicans. They made homemade bombs out of tequila and a strip of cloth in a bottle, one at the van full of armed Mexicans, one more.
People were starting to crowd around the man bleeding when suddenly the ambulance arrived.
[2 Hours Later]
"How could this happen? Goddess!" Storm exclaimed.
"Don't worry, patadan! He's too tough to kill," Gambit said, but had his own doubts.
"I better phone Jubilee and let her know what happened." Jean said.
"Hello, Massachusetts Academy, Paige speaking." Paige's voice chimed on the phone.
"Paige, it's Jean. Can you get Jubilee please?"
"Sure, Miss Summers," Paige exclaimed happily.
"LEE! PHONE!" Paige screamed.
"WHO IS IT?" a Californian accent screamed back.
Jubilation Lee, AKA Jubilee, trotted downstairs to where the phone was.
"Hey Jean! Wassup?" Jubilee asked. Paige was trying not to listen to what was happening so she found an interesting piece of wall to stare at.
"Jubilee, are you okay?" Paige asked her when she saw how pale she had become.
Jubilee dropped the phone handle and sort of slumped to the floor.
Paige picked up the phone handle and placed it back on the receiver, but not before saying "She'll call you back, Mrs. Summers."
"Jubilee, Jubilee? Snap out of it!! MR. CASSIDY!!!" Paige was trying valiantly to get Jubilee out of her shock while she yelled for Banshee.
Everyone of GenX heard this call and came running as well.
"Lass, are ye all right?" Sean asked her while holding her shoulders.
//I think the gel is in some kind of shock,// Jono thought to everyone.
"No duh, Starsmore!"
Everyone turned to see Jubilee getting up and walking away.
"Hey chica, where do you think you're going?" Angelo shouted at her.
"Yes, Jubilation, where do YOU think you are going?" Emma Frost asked icily.
Jubilee didn't answer and kept walking towards the stairs.
The explosion, all the burning, screaming Mexicans, and the melting microfiber of the interior of the van going up in smoke really stunk. It was horrible, but Torres, Angelo's love, was watching him. He had to act like a tough Hombre, and not some whining puta, for her. He used his shotgun and blasted a man who came running to the doorway. He made a terrible mess.
The five other people, Torres' gang, opened fire in the entrance of the bar. Some of the Mexicans opened fire, too.
That was where things got interesting: Angelo didn't die. That is, he didn't die because of his mutant power; it manifested. His skin turned gray, and took on a velvety texture not found on humans. (7) The reason it manifested was because Angelo was under a great deal of stress. The Nephew shot him in the chest with a semi-automatic handgun.
This pissed Angelo off, something fierce. He unconsciously reached out with 2 or 2-1/2 of his 6 extra feet of skin and grabbed the man. He wrapped his skin around the Nephew and started to squeeze. Like a python would.
In reality, that is in Compliance's mind, she felt a shock.
It was strange, this shock that Compliance felt.
She could tell, by the fact that the sensation wasn't violent at all, that it wasn't caused by her inhibitor collar. But yet, she had to... Had to what?
Angelo continued to strangle the man. His brown face turned blueish-purple. He started to sweat.
Angelo looked up in startlement, so did everyone else. The room became eerily quiet, it was like everyone was holding their breath. Angelo looked up and saw her, he thought she was a ghost. That is what she looked like, a ghost.
The woman was older than he and Torres, and even the Nephew he held with his mutant power. She was pale and thin, and he could see right through her. It wasn't enough that he could see through her, to the other side of the room, but he could also see her bones, the veins pumping blood. Even her muscles, and the sensitive pink tissue of her internal organs.
"Don't," the woman ghost said, a very small word. But with an entire universe of meaning. He knew what it meant to him. If he killed this man, the Nephew, what would he be? Less than human, a dog really. The ghost was telling him, rise above the poverty and desperation of everyday life. Be more than that, be a *man*.
A Man, like his father.
A Man, like his ancestors were.
He had honour, he could be a *man*.
Angelo let the nephew go, and on the bus Compliance smiled.
She watched through placid eyes as the gangleader, who Angelo followed not through belief in her capabilities but through Love, as she screamed and raged at Angelo. The 'ghost' Compliance merely watched and then something caught her attention. It was a gold crucifix, a necklace. It was on one of the bodies of the slain men, she wanted Angelo to have it. She wished she was tangible so that she could give it to him. He should wear it, as a symbol of his manhood, so that he would never forget.
Compliance leaned down to reach for it, grasped it, and stood to give it to Angelo. In hallucinations you could do that, ghosts could not.
As she handed the necklace to Angelo two things happened:
One, Torres put her shotgun to the Nephew's head and pulled the trigger.
Two, Compliance touched Angelo.
Compliance could have been dreaming the way she awoke. With a start as if she were having nightmares. But Compliance didn't have nightmares, or dreams; Mojo didn't let her.
She had been lounging in her seat on the Greyhound bus, been--Bam! she sat up with a start. Using the shotgun in her hand, she opened fire on the couple in front of her. She easily blew off their heads, causing wide swept panic on the bus.
If Compliance was capable of it, she would have felt wonderment at the shotgun in her hand. Where had this come from? she would wonder if she could wonder.
The people all ran, in their wide spread terror, off the bus vacating it in record time.
Five minutes ago she had been happy, nothing more urgent on her mind than planning the prank to end all pranks, for her graduation ceremony next week.
Now she felt cold, hollow. She had to get away, be by herself, so she could think. About what Jean had told her. About her reaction to the news. About what she was going to do now.
She wandered inside her room, shut the door very gently, then leaned against it, remembering the sound of Jean's voice on the telephone.
The receiver had slipped out of her suddenly numb fingers. There had been voices in the background, shouting voices, but Jubilee couldn't understand what they were saying.
Wolverine was hurt. He was going to die.
Logan, gone? Forever?
Her lips quirked in a reluctant smile. Well, maybe. You never know, with the X-Men.
She had always wondered if she'd managed to cut him completely out of her life. After the... Tragedy, she couldn't stand to be his little bud and sidekick anymore. Couldn't be around him. Couldn't even hear his name without a renewal of the pain and fury and, yes, guilt. She had worked hard to put him in her past, a part of the past that she avoided thinking about. But sometimes, she wondered if she'd put him behind her after all, or if he was lurking around her psyche somewhere in an unexpected blind spot.
Apparently he was, and Jean had just blindsided her with him.
Her head dropped into her hands. What exactly was this she was feeling? Had she forgiven him? Was she afraid he'd die, not having forgiven *her*? What was she going to do now? What? What?
WHAT was she, a blubbering idiot all of a sudden?! Jubilee's shoulders straightened and she lunged away from the door.
"Get a grip, chica!" she yelled, as much to rally her morale as to relieve some tension. She knew perfectly well what she was going to do. If only she could, mrph, find that damned duffel bag in this mess of a closet--there it was!
She had some packing to do.
It kinda sucked.
Compliance, after executing the elderly couple on the bus, was forced to walk the rest of the way to Maine. First off, she got rid of the shotgun. She would never realize this but she wanted to keep Angelo's shotgun, it reminded her of him. (8) But it would delay her rearrival to Mojoworld if she was arrested by law enforcers on this dimension.
So she got rid of it and walked. Thankfully a truck driver picked her up, and for 100 or so miles she got to rest. And hallucinate.
It was an elegant mansion, obviously a family estate. She knew it was the ancestral home of the St. Croix family. Today was Marius, the eldest and heir's 18th birthday. The cake was *seven* layers high and not surprisingly Monet's favorite flavor.
Even if it was his party, his coming of age birthday, Monet still got her way. Monet, Daddy's favorite, always got her way. Her stuck-up prep girl schoolfriends were invited. Just what Marius didn't want, thirteen year olds taking up space, at his birthday party. The twins, whom he blatantly adored, looked adorable in lacy white dresses and organdy. At three they were both healthy and active, and very adorable. The nanny tried desperately to keep them clean, and it was only after Father threatened to have them removed from the party that they behaved. Marius was in a good mood, the best, just starting to get a buzz from the expensive whiskey his best friend James Fergus purchased as a gift. And then he saw her, Monet. Marius inhaled his breath sharply as passionate emotions followed through his body. She was young and beautiful, standing next to Maman in a pleated, pastel silk dress. The arch of her neck, the shape of her lips all set him on fire, but they also made him angry. Everything about Monet made him angry.
The party continued with pure-bred ponies for the girls to ride, and a little carriage for the twins to ride in. And Marius drank, and drank. The more he drank the angrier he got. Thinking about Monet, watching her flirt with his friends, the little hussy, acting like a princess. Then came the time to cut the cake. In Morocco, it was customary on the heir's 18th birthday for his mother to cut him the first slice of cake. A type of blessing. Maman took her place beside him, graciously cutting the cake. As he turned to accept the cake from his mother, his eye caught Monet's. She smirked at him, as if to say "I know your dirty little secret, how you desire me. Well you're just a filthy, low pig. Ha ha!" He dropped the family's best porcelain, holding the piece of cake, onto Maman's dress.
//Wow bloke, L.A. is 'otter than I remember. The last time you and I were here it wasna this 'ot.//
They didn't have to arrive incognito because Jono had finally gotten over some, though not all, of his angst and learned how to create a realistic psi-gram, covering the bandages. And Angelo had remembered how to make his skin look normal and not grey (like he could in the *early* issues of GenX). So they took a plane.
//Why are we 'ere, Ange, I'm missing my chance to ogle the cute bird in French class.//
"We are here, amigo, because Jubilee needs us. Something went down with her hombre Wolverine and she left to find out what for. And anyways you volunteered, I didn't offer." Angelo said lighting a cigarette.
//I 'ad to come, (Sparrow thinks my angst is fun). And put that out, this is No Smoking! Can't you respect a bloke's decision not to have their lungs polluted?//
"Not polluting their lungs, are you loco? This is L.A.!"
At this, both young men convulsed with laughter.
Compliance stirred as the trucker let her out, in front of a Mom-and-Pop gas station.
"Thank you," she said. The trucker was just glad to see the woman go, she unnerved him.
She walked into the gas station--it was called Greasy Gus. Compliance never got hungry but she knew she needed to eat. Although she was cybernetically augmented, she still needed sustenance to stay alive. She picked up a pack of Zinger's and a bag of Combos. She added to that a bottle of Stewart's Key Lime Soda. She went to the counter where an old man, Gus perhaps, was watching T.V. It was the ten o'clock news. Ironically, it was showing the mall where she had murdered Wolverine. A terrorist action, it said, that killed two shoppers at the mall. A third man was both stabbed and shot, but miraculously survived. He was in critical condition at a private medical facility.
"Shit," Compliance said without rancour, she wasn't really angry. Compliance didn't get angry, ever.
"Is somethin' wrong, sweetheart?" the very greasy man asked the pale, thin woman in front of him.
"Nothing that can't be solved with a grenade launcher, strategically fired at a certain adamantium chest," Compliance replied politely.
"Problems with your boyfriend, sweetie? No problem, a pretty girl like you can always find another," the slimy man said.
Compliance didn't dignify that with a comment.
Marius killed his mother, of course it was Monet's fault. Everything was Monet's fault, with her holier-than-thou attitude. If she hadn't screamed then, Maman would never have heard her. Yes, Maman was a very powerful mutant, but he knew he was too. And he had been practicing with his powers, becoming stronger. But the f***ing bi*ch had to scream, probably just to spite him. So in ran Mother, greatly distressed to see what he had done to her little girl. Mother was angry, angrier than he had ever seen her before. Monet, of course, contrived to cry when Maman barged into Monet's bedroom. "What have you done, Marius?" she asked him with horror and disgust in her voice.
He tried to explain, about the voices, and the way Monet's inner light drew him, that at night he could feel her heart beat. That he could hear the marrow in her bones cry out to him, that it was her fault. His mother told him to leave, that he was disinherited forever. This made him so angry that he struck her, his Maman. The strangest thing happened. His hunger, the hunger made so fresh and painful by Monet, seemed to take him over. His hands burned, and they seemed to melt. He grabbed his mother by her neck, and held on. He wanted to beg to her to make the pain go away, but he couldn't speak. He could hear Monet screaming in the background, and she started to hit him. He never realized she was so strong, finally she managed to rip Maman from his grip. That's when he saw it--his hands, they had little mouths on them. They spoke to him in his mother's voice, they told him how hungry they were, they mocked him as a murder, they told him to feed again.
Then he saw her, his Monet holding Maman and she was *floating* at the top of the room, near the ceiling. He knew Monet would be a perfect meal, and then she would always be a part of him.
She never knew what hit her.
Compliance awakened from her hallucination with a scream. She jumped at the person sitting next to her in the airplane terminal, as Compliance waited for her plane. She was sooo hungry, her hand searched for the unfortunate person's throat. To find purchase, so that she could feed on their genetic material. It caused enough furor that Compliance finally realized that she wasn't like Marius. She wasn't emplatic, there were no mouths on her hands. All the fear she felt caused her inhibitor collar to go off, not once but twice.
Thankfully Compliance was able to board her plane and escape the mess she made.
They, Jono and Angelo, went to pick up their bags at the bag carousel, which of course was on the other side of the terminal.
"Whatcha say, Jono?" Angelo asked.
//Nothing,// Jono telepathically replied angstily.
It was very crowded in the airport, with Hare Krishnas and passengers and Bible thumpers everywhere. A tall woman, pale and thin, bumped into them, hitting Jono on the shoulder. Jono paused as the woman in the black-red trench coat passed by, he stared after her incredulously.
"Amigo, is everything cool?" Angelo asked, noticing his best friend had stopped.
//That woman, it was Jubilee.//
"Dude, she was too tall to be Jubi, the girl you've known for *five* years is practically a midget, remember?" Angelo said sarcastically.
//Take off, you just remembered how to tighten your skin to make it look normal, (and that's just because Demon Buttercup--goddess that she is--is tired of Marvel's crrrap). I'm telling you, bloke, that *is* Jubilee. Trust me.//
"Amigo, you're my best friend, and we have no other leads. Follow that girl." Angelo dramatically pointed, Columbo-esque.
//To the Angstmobile!!!, trusty sidekick!// Jono replied, 70's Batman-esque.
"You mean a taxi, hombre?"
Wolvie is a mess. Sure I haven't seem him almost five years, at least not up close. So I'm just assuming he doesn't look this sh**ty all the time. The X-Men branched out, suspiciously close to the same time the TRAGEDY occured. Now there are two teams of X-Men: the Westchester branch and the West Coast branch. After the Tragedy happened, Wolvie went to live in SoCal, far away from me in Massachusetts. I appreciate the irony, when I can think around the pain.
Angel and Gambit were hurt too, not that bad, though. (9) About as bad as they would get in a real intense Danger Room session. Two innocent civilians were killed. I feel so guilty. The X-Men didn't really talk to me when I arrived at Hank's clinic. In a society of outcasts the old X-Men teams treat me like a pariah. It isn't fair, I used to be everybody's favorite firecracker. Now even Bobby avoids me.
So here I am, standin' over the dying form of the person I love most, wondering how to make it better.
It happened on the flight to L.A. Compliance had been forced to return, because Mojo would have crushed her if she hadn't followed through with the orders. Mojo wanted the feral animal one dead. Compliance would make him dead. Compliance did what she was told. She always did.
There was a slight inconvenience, though: her hallucinations would not stop. They were totally out of control, they were increasing with exceptional force. The latest one was occuring in fragmental violent bursts. She would be fine, eating honey roasted peanuts, then bam! she was in St. Louis. There was a young black boy--he was so sweet and innocent he brought tears to her eyes.
Then Mojo's collar would zap her. After what happened on the bus, in the airplane terminal, she was wary over her response to her hallucinations. She'd killed and attacked under their influence.
Here it went again: It was a pretty house, and a warm summer day. Mom had cookies baking. She worked so hard, where did she find the time? (10)
The scene changed, and Compliance saw through different eyes: the eyes of the young man, who has grown a little older and wiser, but is still kind.
Got to teach migrant workers how to read English, been doing it for three weeks now. I feel like I'm making a difference.
The time changes and so does the scene; no longer is Everett living in St.Louis, he is now in a private school in Massachusets.
How, why does this place seem so familiar?, Compliance wonders.
Everett is watching as a young Chinese-American girl crouched over in a dark corner holding out an apple to a mysterious shape. Suddenly the shape lunges with razor red claws at the apple and gingerly takes it from the young girl's grasp.
Jubilee is doing so well with Penance.
"What the F*CK!!!!!!!" Compliance screamed, to the startlement of everyone on the plane.
"Is something wrong, miss?" a young female flight attendant asked. Her name badge read 'Katchoo.'
"Yes, but I sincerely doubt you could help. Please return to your duties and leave me alone," Compliance said as politely as she could, considering her collar just shocked her again.
"I know what the meaning of life is, Jubilee. It's when everything is right, and you know you've lived your life the best you could as the best person you could be," Everett told his young friend, who smirked up at him.
"Are you sure it ain't a new Proto bookbag, Ev?"
The young woman stared down at Wolvie. He was wearing a hospital gown and looked like he was sleeping, almost. If you ignored the tubes and wires and junk feeding in to his body. There was something clenched in his right hand, a piece of dark gray and red fabric. She felt her own hands clench.
"So Doc. What's the damage?"
Beast shook his head. "His body is healing quite well, but... his assailant shot Logan in the head, Jubilee." He passed a hand over his face. "There's been severe loss of brain tissue. Even if Logan recovers consciousness, his mental capacity will be impaired."
Jubilee gasped. "How impaired we talkin' about?"
"At this stage, an accurate prognosis is virtually impossible. However..." he searched for words, gave it up. "The damage is severe," he finally said.
"Oh Wolvie," Jubilee breathed. She folded her arms tightly to her body. There wasn't anything you could do for brain damage... was there?
"I'm sorry, Jubilee."
"Hank--" she was about to plead, beg, ask him if there was something, anything, he could try. Then she saw the look on his face, a look of heartbreak and despair and swallowed rage. It was the look of a man who had struggled against the odds only to realize defeat. "I--I know you're doing your best."
Involuntarily, she put a hand on his arm. Just as involuntarily, he drew back--the merest fraction of a flinch.
Jubilee dropped her hand, her defenses slamming back up. Honestly, she should have known better. But this man had been a dear friend, once. Old habits could be hard to break.
"Jubilee!" Hank's face was aghast. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to--would you pardon this thoughtless fool?"
Hank was too nice for his own good. "Don't get your panties in a twist, McCoy," she said, as if it didn't matter one way or the other. "Way I figure it, only two fools in this room. One's lookin' atcha, and the other's kind of a veggie burger right now."
"How can you--?" He paused, frowning at her. "You're doing it again."
"The only thing I'm doing is getting outta here. I need some fresh air." As Jubilee reached for the door it slammed open. "Get away from him, you *murderer*," shouted an angry voice.
"Hey to you too, Amiko."
The younger girl's eyes were filled with fury. She marched up to Jubilee. "Haven't you done enough to him? How *dare* you show your face around here? Did you think we wouldn't know? Why did you do it? Why? *Why?*"
Jubilee stared. "What on earth are you talking about?"
Amiko's face blazed. Suddenly, she drew back her hand and slapped Jubilee on the cheek, as hard as she could. "Don't pretend you don't know! That's *your* mask he's got in his hand. *Your* face he recognized. Are you that petty? What you did to Kitty Pryde, it broke his heart. He was happy again, with me, so you couldn't stand it? Why didn't you come after *me* then? Why him? Why him? Oh god!" Breaking down into sobs, she whirled and ran from the room.
Jubilee was dumbfounded. "Is... is that what people think about me and Kit?" She put her hand to the sting on her face. "After all this time, is that what they still think?" she demanded. "And they think I did this to him, *this*? How... how..." she searched for words, much as Hank had done earlier, and drew a blank.
"Let go of me, McCoy," she said in a deceptively casual voice. "Or you're going to wish you had."
"I think it's time we had a talk."
There was something off about the taxi driver, but Compliance couldn't quite put her finger on it. She was so distracted that she didn't notice the other taxi, which had been following them ever since she'd left the airport.
Was it the way the driver talked non-stop in a peculiar accent, or swerved all over the road, or recklessly careened through yellow lights?
No. That was just being a taxi driver.
Was it because he had one brown eye and one hazel, or that his moustache was crooked, or his skin was noticeably darker where trickles of sweat had removed the makeup? Or that his watch was strapped on upside down, or that his wig was in a woman's hairstyle? Compliance's eyes narrowed.
"That is not a very good disguise, Wadley," she said.
The taxi driver groaned. "Howdja you know it was me, Comp?"
"Why are you here?" Compliance didn't waste time with non-essentials. With Wadley, you couldn't afford to. There was nothing the guy liked better than to waste time. Compliance did not approve of that.
"Boss sent this for you." He fumbled around in the glove compartment, then fished out a creased envelope. "There's been a slight change of plans, he said."
She opened the envelope and shook out the chip, plugged it into her handheld. Her forehead creased in a frown as she read the instructions. "I do not understand. I am no longer to assassinate the feral one?"
"Don't ask *me*. I just deliver things."
"Mojo instructs me to give this to you." Compliance withdrew the vial containing the feral mutant's DNA sample from her coat and handed it to Wadley. "You are to deliver it to him personally, and within 18 hours."
"Always rush rush rush," Wadley complained.
Compliance sat back in her seat and looked unseeingly out the window. Watch and wait, the instructions had said. Watch and wait.
She wondered what it was that she was waiting for.
"Dude, stop here, here!"
Obediently, the driver pulled to the curb. Jono and Angelo stared across the street as the woman who seemed to be Jubilee exited her own taxi, then walked into the entrance to the the subterranean parking lot.
"Did I miss something, 'cause it don't look like she paid him, man."
"Hey, you kids got money, right?" said their own driver, suddenly alarmed.
"Yeah, yeah, how much?"
After they paid the driver, Jono and Angelo crossed the street and followed Jubilee into the parking lot.
"Where'd she go?" Angelo craned his neck, caught a flash of dark red speeding down the ramp. "There she is! C'mon."
//Mate, remind me to travel lighter next time,// Jono grumbled as he lugged his suitcase and overnight bag after him.
"Where'd she go?" The first level of the parking lot was jammed pack. A few people were walking to or from their cars, but none of them was the one they were looking for. "She must have gone further down."
//Or she could have noticed we were following her and gone out the door,// Jono pointed out gloomily.
Suddenly the roar of a motorcycle cut through the air. A silver cruiser tore up the ramp, red trenchcoat flaring out behind it. A large man dressed in black leather ran after it, yelling, "Stop, thief!" He came to a stop a little before he reached them, leaning his hands on his knees and panting and cursing heavily.
"That's her! Dammit!" Angelo shouted. Jono dropped his bags and started running, but quickly realized it was a futile effort. They watched helplessly as the bike made a turn out of the garage and disappeared from sight.
//Smashing, simply smashing. Now what do we do?//
"Uh. Anyone get the number of that bike?"
"So, surface-dwellars, why do the X-Men fear the firecracker so?" Marrow asked.
The X-Men team, coincidentally about the same time Frost opened her school, had divided. (11) One team, the Blues, stayed in Westchester, and the second, the Yellows, headed by Professor and Storm, went to L.A. All the X-Men Yellows were at Hank McCoy's clinic for mutants in L.A. Marrow 'belonged' to the Westchester Blues, but since Jean, a widow, now came to L.A. to see Wolverine, she was forced to come too. Quicksilver was the leader of the Blues, with Cyclop's passing. Professor spent his time in between the two teams.
It was a private waiting room, just for the X-Men's use, away from Hank's other patients.
Although almost half a dozen people were milling around, silence reigned. Marrow grinned, she had thought the trip would be boring. Storm narrowed her eyes, with Professor not present she was the senior member. Quicksilver and the rest of the Blues were in Westchester still.
"It would not be appropriate for us to discuss Jubilee without her consent," Storm said haughtily, sweeping from the room. She'd had a very trying few days.
"Did not Jubilee live in L.A.? Does Wolverine," Marrow spat the name, "not hate the girl?"
Her unspoken question being, if Wolverine hates Jubilee so much, why would he move to her home town?
"Oui, Jubilee lived in L.A., Marrow. She lived all ove' Southe'n Cal'f'rnia, somet'ing of a wanderer, dat one," Gambit said quietly.
"So, why did Wolverine move to L.A., when it must remind him of her, when him an' Amiko were so happy in their little cabin in the woods in Westchester?" Marrow asked, trying to sound innocent and failing miserably.
"Shut de hell up! You don' know her, you don' know anyt'ing!" Gambit exploded. He had enough of Marrow's prodding.
"Marrow does have a right to know, we all do. If she is as dangerous as you all insinuate, then we have the right to protect ourselves," Ebon, a recent addition of the L.A. X-Men, said. (12)
"Well if you t'ink you 'deserve' to know den ask Storm or Jubilee, 'cause Gambit ain't a gossip." With that Gambit stormed out of the waiting room.
[McCoy's Medical Clinic, Third Floor]
Jubilee had been examining Wolverine's X-Ray. When she heard Storm approaching, she tensed. The last time she saw Storm, Storm had been calling her a murderer, and Rogue actually had to physically restrain her. Now, Jubilee waited, for Storm to make the first move.
"Ms. Frost's progress reports have quite encouraged the Professor. When he related them to me I was also encouraged," Storm began.
"Which progress reports were they, Storm? Everybody is so report-happy about me, I tend ta get confused." Jubilee kept her back to Storm.
"Why, the ones about you helping the Penance girl. Everyone said how altruistic and helpful you were. You caused her to come out of her shell, quite literally. We were all so proud of you--"
"Ironic isn't it," Jubilee began bitterly. "The same thing I did for Penny, I did for Kitty."
Storm visibly started, "Jubilee, I have learned to accept Kitten's death as not your fault, and what you did to Wolverine as a misjudgement on your part--"
Jubilee twirled to face Storm, "A misjudgement? That's not what that snot Amiko was calling it. She was bawlin' that I tried to kill Wolverine three days ago!"
"Kill?" Storm frowned. "Jubilee, I meant all those years ago, when you tried to help Wolverine, when he bcame so angry with you. When he left you in Mojoverse...."
"To die, Storm. Don't be coy, just say it, Wolvie left me to die. Even before he thought I killed Kitty, he left me." Jubilee smirked sideways, rather bitterly, at Storm. "No good deed goes unpunished, huh, Storm?"
Jubilee hung her head, so her long black hair covered her face. She didn't want Storm to see the tears in her eyes.
"Good deed?" Storm's mouth turned down derisively, and a reproachful note came into her voice. "You truly believe what you did to Wolverine was a good deed? You completely violated him, with disastrous results. I can see at the time you believed you were helping him, but now--so much wiser, and older--you must see the error of your ways."
"No, damnit! I don't see the error of my ways. I did for Penny what I did for Wolvie, and everyone applauded me. But as for Wolvie, I was 'violating' him," Jubilee angrily hissed. "Then I was a friggin' monster, no better than the villians we fight. Did you come here to soothe yer freakin' conscience, Storm?"
Storm glared at her, slightly caught off guard by her uncanny insights.
"I don't need your approval for the way I use my powers, Storm. I didn't kill Kitty! I was tryin' to help Wolvie! And no matter what that brat Amiko says, I didn't shoot Wolverine! So screw your pretentions!" With that angry tirade, Jubilee grabbed the mask, which she'd taken from Wolverine's fist, and her copy of the medical reports, and angrily stormed out of the room.
//Shite, where the gel go?// Jono inserted the thought into Angelo's head.
"How the hell should I know, amigo?" Angelo cried out, while throwing his hands up in the air to emphasize his frustration.
//Well, bugger off! You lived here once. Doesn't that count or something?// Jono said while getting angry.
"No. Because I haven't visited here for a while and they keep doing construction." Angelo said while jabbing a finger in Jono's arm. (13)
The two started to squabble relentlessly while starting to jab each other hard, unaware that they were being watched from the shadows of a dark lit alley.
It was him. Compliance recognized him. Angelo. She mouthed his name, tasting it like candy. He was older, possibly twenty, maybe nineteen. His skin wasn't gray, so he must have learned to control his powers.
Compliance watched, since Mojo told her to watch and wait. She checked out the boy he was, rather amusingly, arguing with. They were poking each other in the arm and sqaubbling. She watched stoicly, not letting herself be revealed when her chest exploded.
Compliance was trying not to panic. She looked down and saw that her chest had not exploded and those two round things were still there. Compliance looked around, she noticed she was in a bar. There was a handsome young man playing a guitar with a woman.
*Gayle,* a voice whispered. *Jono.*
Compliance whipped her head around, trying to see where the voice was coming from, when she realized that it was more of these hallucinations. She shrugged them off.
The two people walked off to the back. Compliance followed, wondering what would happen this time.
"Jono, now is not the time nor the place, you git," a woman's voice said as Compliance identified it.
"Bugger off, Gayle! You know you want it, little songbird," a man's voice said back.
All of a sudden, the man started to scream, clawing at his chest. Compliance stuck her head around the corner in time to witness the birth of CHAMBER!
"Jono, me luv? Are you alright?" Gayle asked frantically, as she was trying to help.
"Gayle, gasp, get away, gasp, from me!" Jono managed to rasp out before his world exploded. A fire erupted from the boy's chest, engulfing the poor woman, making the boy collapse. Compliance heard the woman scream as she tried to put herself out.
Compliance smiled as she saw pain and suffering, but a frown came to her face. *Wasn't this how he became a mutant?* a voice asked in her head.
Compliance ignored it.
An ambulance and a police car came by a few minutes later to pick the two people up. Compliance could only guess that the owner called them when he heard the screams of the woman called Gayle.
Compliance shook her head and was back in the present. The two boys she thought she saw were poking each other were gone.
*Mojo is so going to kill me!* Compliance thought, her old speech coming into effect a little.
Compliance revved up the motocycle engine and drove off.
Jubilee sat cross-legged on the ratty, cigarette-burned blanket and pored through the reports. She couldn't concentrate on them. Eventually she flung them away from her in frustration, the papers spilling out of the thick manilla folders, littering the dirty carpet.
She fell back onto the bed and stared up at the water-stained ceiling. It was a sleazy, piece of sh*t motel, but she couldn't afford any better. She'd actually thought about camping out in Wolvie's room, but someone had beaten her there. Amiko had been sitting by his bedside, talking softly to him, holding his hand in her small ones. Jubilee, unseen on the other side of the door, had walked away quietly, her heart breaking as much for the younger girl as for herself. She knew what it was like, being the one holding the hand. She knew.
Storm had invited her to stay with the X-Men, but damned if she was going to do that. She was here for Wolvie, not to tear open past wounds for herself and everyone else. Talk talk talk. Hank wanted to talk, Storm wanted to talk, even Marrow had sidled up to her and asked what had happened so long ago. She'd fobbed them all off. They hadn't talked to her when it had mattered, when it had happened. And now that she'd finally, for the most part, been able to put everything behind her, *now* they wanted to talk?
"Screw you!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. There was a startled silence, then the banging from the other side of the wall started up again. Jubilee giggled, feeling a little better. She got off the bed and picked the papers off the floor, freeing a cockroach, who scurried across the floor into a crack in the well.
"Ew, gross," she exclaimed in disgust. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she looked again at the first page of Hank's notes.
A burst of static made her jump. She looked up, and saw that the TV was on.
"What the--" she looked around for the remote control, realized the TV predated *real* technology, and leaned forward to hit the power button. And froze.
A face she hoped never to see again loomed large in the screen. "Hel-*lo*, my little viewer!" Mojo cackled. "It's time for... Let's Make A Deal!"
[X-Men Headquarters, Los Angeles]
"Would the pair of you care to try to explain yourselves?"
Jono and Angelo looked into the face of a regal but furious Storm, then at each other, then gulped.
"Uh," Angelo started. "The thing is, we knew Jubes was real upset, 'cause of what happened to that guy Logan, and we came along to, you know..."
//Show our support,// Jono finished.
"I see. Did you think to obtain permission from anyone before you left?"
"It was kind of a spur of the moment thing."
Storm sighed. Could she really blame them? "Do you realize how irresponsible your behavior is?"
"We was watching out for our chica!" Angelo yelled out, before Jono kicked him in the leg.
//Yes, Ms. Munro. It was irresponsible of us,// Jono projected hastily.
Storm narrowed her eyes, not fooled for one second. Should she let these two off the hook, or should she let them have it? An evil grin crossed her face. "Very well, then. As it is not my place to punish or to speak for you, I shall allow you to call Miss Frost right now." She almost burst out laughing at the look on their faces.
//Ms. Munro, can we talk to Jubilee first? It's rather important.//
Storm's lips tightened. "Jubilee is not here right now, son. She went to stay at a hotel. I will give you her phone number, if you wish."
"She's not here?" file://She's at a hotel?// Angelo and Jono exchanged looks.
"Is there something you are not telling me?" Storm exclaimed.
"Ms. Munro, did Jubilee look... normal?"
Storm folded her arms. "Why do you ask?"
//There's something that maybe you ought to know....//
She should die. Really, I've come to the knowledge that I have been burned. I hate her. At first I liked my adopted father's sidekick. He adored her, it was complicated, and I was a little girl, so no, I don't know the whole story.
About the past--I know that he was so angry, I was scared of him when he came to get me from Japan, when he brought me to Westchester to live.
Jubilee wasn't around. Nobody spoke her name, it was like she'd died. Then she came back to the mansion. I mean, that Cajun guy brought her back--the part of the Cerebro file that isn't sealed off said he found her.
I wasn't there, but in the cabin, when she came to the big house. Storm came an' told Logan she was back, and he took me and we went to Canada for a while. When we found out what that murderer (14) did to Kitty we came back in time for the funeral. Logan wanted to avenge Kitty. But Ms. Frost had given Jubilee asylum, even before Generation X was formed. She adopted her and everything, making it real clear to us that she'd be our worst enemy if anything happened to Jubilee.
The Hiesslim Procedure (15) was disscussed, but no one ever said it would be used on her, or if it *could* be used on her. Don't look so horrified, she *is* a murderer. Accidentally, best intentions aside, she *did* kill Kitty.
I *know* what she said. Even if she didn't infect Kitty with the Legacy Virus, she killed her trying to help. Either way Kitty is dead.
She *did* shoot Wolverine!!!!! I was there!
I saw her, I bit off her ear! Lies! She's a liar, Jubilee *always* has her side of the story! She's so manipulative, she twists things and people!
Murderer!!!! I'm not becoming hysterical! She's a murder, a killer, she shot my father!! Damn her, I hate her!!! I'll kill her!!! I *won't* calm down!
I won't shut up! I'll kill her! Do you hear me--?
What are you doing? No I don't want a shot! Noooooo! I'll kill HER! It's all her fault, we have to go after her... we have to...toooo... I'll kill her....
He looked the same: fat, ugly, a strange rotting fruit green. (16) Still as crazy as a fox, and twice as smart.
"What do you want Mojo?"
"Why what I've always wanted: you. You as my slave.
"What do you have here?" Mojo continued cannily. "You'll be graduating soon, the X-Men will never allow you to join them. Why, they even wanted to chop up your brain, chop out the X strand of DNA, so you would never be a danger again."
"Is that right, Mojo?" Jubilee said coolly.
*Don't give anything away, Jubes,* she prompted herself. *Mojo plays for keeps.* She slowly started to fill the room with her power, not the 'flash and pop' part--something more subtle. She didn't spend five years with Frosty for nothing. If he tried to teleport her, she should, *should* be able to blast herself out of there.
"So what is your game, Mojo? I'll listen. I ain't promisin' nuthin', but I'll listen."
Snow Valley, Massachusetts
Although she looked as calm and composed as she was famous for, Emma Frost, headmistress of Xavier Academy for Gifted Youth, inwardly steamed. She was quite ready to explode. She could reason Jubilee leaving. Almost, when she took the child under her protection, she came to know her in the year that Jubilee lived with her. Before the formation of Generation X. She understood how important Wolverine had been to her. Still was to her.
But Angelo and Jono just leaving like that... how dare they. And just a week and 1/2 before graduation! She really should have nipped Angelo's infatuation with her in the bud. Jubilee, in her opinion, wasn't capable of a 'deep' relationship, due to all the emotional scarring from late childhood.
Her parents' tragic death, the blame associated to her by it, then Wolverine's brutal rejection of her. Not to mention her coincidental involvement in Kitty's death, and the entire X-Men's betrayal of her. There was a time when Jubilee considered her, the White Queen, her only friend.
"Yes, Emma?" He answered on the intercom.
"Ready my jet, I wish to leave for L.A. within the hour."
Palm Terrace Motel
The shrill, almost giant bird-like ring of the antiqued phone shot through the oppressive silence in Jubilee's motel. She was concentrating so intensely that she did not hear it until the 12th or 14th ring. It was as if she was under water or asleep, or hallucinating or something.
Carefully, so as not to damage her veins, Jubilee took the wires from the T.V. Mojo had been using to communicate with out of her forearm. She stood from her half-crouched, half-kneeling perch in front of the T.V. to where the phone stood on the dirty endtable.
"Hello, Jubilee? This is Angelo."
"How did you get this number?"
No 'How are you,' or 'Waaaassss Uppp'--if Angelo didn't know her so well he'd have thought she wasn't happy to hear from him.
"Storm gave it to me." Awkward pause. "I just talked to Emma. She said she'd get a hold of you and... that you should have reached her already.
"So how are you?"
"Irritated. Storm knows better than to give my number out to just anybody. And Emma knows I *hate* to talk telepathically."
Just anybody. Wow, that hurt.
"I think Emma meant, by phone." Angelo said.
Several seconds of dead air.
"Why did you call, Angelo?"
"Because Jono can't talk on the phone. He can't project psionically that far."
Several seconds of dead air.
"Why did you come to L.A., really?"
"Because I worried about you, because you're my friend."
"Friend? Don't you GenX'ers know, accordin' to the X-Men I'm a killer?"
"Jubilee, damnit, don't start this you're--"
"I'm very tired, and I'll need all my strength for what comes next."
"Jubicita, did you know there's some chick runnin' around L.A. with your face?"
"Yeah, but older and taller, too."
"This is the address of my hotel."
If Compliance watched T.V., she would have appreciated the Dukes of Hazard-like stunt that happened on her bike. Except she was flying through gravity straight into a store-front window, and the bike smashed into a telephone pole. From a puddle of her own blood, in her mind's eye, she watched psionic flame flicker lazily from a gaping, blackened hole in her leather covered chest.
*What?* Compliance wondered.
"What are you doing here?"
Compliance almost asked the girl in the wheelchair what she was doing here. Then she realized she was the English rocker, Jonothon. She knew now, looking into the mirror kittycorner from the girl that she knew to be Gayle.
//Gayle luv, I had to see you.//
Gayle was in a wheel chair, and Compliance guessed paralysis. Her time with Mojo had taught her the knowledge of guessing wounds. Her face was rather scarred, from Jono's energy blast. She rolled over to an Edwardian table, where her dark sunglasses were. She slipped them on to cover her scars.
"Quite vain, that one," Compliance said.
"What did you say, Jono?" Gayle asked.
//Luv, I said I was sorry.//
"You should leave, Jono."
A tawny, slender hand slapped Compliance/Jono across the face.
"What the hell are you doing here?"
"I don't know."
"What the hell are you doing here?" Amiko asked.
Jubilee glowered at Amiko dangerously.
"Amiko, stop that. Jubilee has every right to be here," Jean Gray-Summers said sharply. (17)
"Yes, Jubilee. I would also like to know what you are doing here." Storm asked.
Jubilee cocked a cynical eyebrow at Storm.
"Why, Angelo and Jonothon asked me to meet them here," she replied, with a sweeping motion of her arm encasing the large 'main' waiting room of the McCoy Clinic.
Probably psionically sensing the altercation, Jono and Angelo suddenly appeared.
"I don't want her here," Amiko said scathingly.
"I hate her, and she doesn't belong here," the Japanese girl continued.
Jubilee merely waited for someone to intervene, she looked very tired and withdrawn.
"Amiko, you look so tired. Why don't you have Hank prepare you a cot? Storm?" Jean prompted before Amiko could protest.
After giving the waiting room an appraising glance, Storm escorted the still sputtering girl to the second floor.
The three were given Jean's credit card, on the instructions to have a good meal, before they collapsed. Jono hailed the cab, after getting sick of Angelo's pathetic attempts--he merely psionically shouted in the nearest cabbie's head to...
//GET US NOW, PLONKER!!//
"Speak," Jubilee commanded after a very expensive, and satisfying meal.
Downtown L.A., Business District
"So let me get this right. You saw some chick, who looks *just* like me, only taller and paler, in L.A. You followed her in a cab, and the cabbie was the stinkiest, most disgusting man alive. So you followed this chick to a parking garage where she picked up her bike--"
"Or possibly stole," Angelo interjected.
"Then," Jubilee continued doggedly, "you lost her."
"Yes." //Aye.// Both Angelo and Jono agreed.
"That's the craziest thing I've ever heard," Jubilee said flatly.
"Si, chica. That's what Storm said."
"Wha-- You told this to Storm!!!"
Jean Summers nee Gray used her telepathic abilities to locate longtime friend and teammate, Ororo Munroe.
"Ro?" she asked softly to the interior of a darkened ante-office.
There was a pause and then, "Yes, Jean?"
"Are you alright, Ororo?"
"I've been contemplating, Jean."
Taking that as an invintation to enter. Jean used her telepathy to stand directly in front of Ororo, who was seated behind the desk in the room.
"What have you been contemplating, Roro?" Jean asked, using the old nickname.
"Perhaps Jubilee isn't as guilty as we all condemned her for being."
"I've came to that conclusion myself. Sometime ago, actually."
"May I ask you, Jean, do you think she was wrong in what she-- did to Kitten."
"I don't think she killed her, Ro. I didn't then. I do believe her inexperience led her to act rashly in the events leading to Kitty's death, but I don't believe she killed her."
"Even though her fingerprints were the only ones found on the syringe containing the augumented Legacy Virus? (18) Even though the security camera's last footage showed the last person to see Kitten alive was Jubilee. Even though Wolverine left Jubilee to die--"
"Ro he didn't leave her to d--"
"That is what Jubilee believes, Jean. Allow me to finish, please. Even though Wolverine left Jubilee to die in Mojoworld. It would seem quite logical to believe that Jubilee would murder Kitty, someone Wolverine cared for deeply, to repay him for what she considered a betrayal. It is very suspicious, even to one who believed 100% in Jubilee's innocence, to believe her story. That her portal dropped her off in Westchester, but instead of coming home to the X-Men, she instead travels to England, to 'see the English Channel.' A saint would find it sucpicious, Jean, and I had lost my child."
"So why do you believe now in her innocence, Ro?" Jean asked nervously.
"Because of what Angelo Espinosa and Jonothon Starsmore told me today. Jean, I would like to tell you a story, a little from what the GenX'ers told me, a little from what Jubilee told me when Gambit brought her back, and a few odds and ends thrown in to keep continuity flowing. Have a seat."
L.A. What was once Paris Blue Cafe
Compliance could hear the oncoming wail from the local law enforcers come to investigate her hallucination caused wreck.
*Penance was deaf.*
Compliance knew to leave immediately, that her ability to work efficiently for Mojo would be crippled by involvement with the local law enforcers.
*Such things were beyond Penance.*
*Penance did not know fear, not anymore.
Compliance did not know fear.
To be so understood.
Sleep (Penance's Hallucination)
Once upon a time, there was a war-torn country. Where lived a frightened, a starved young girl. (19)Although the girl did not have the misfortune to be of the race that was being genocided, she still suffered. Her country's president was unwise enough to anger the gods of commerce, the UN. This caused an economic plight upon their country that caused the girl's family to be unable to support themselves in the style they had become accustomed to, paltry as it was. So they sold the girl, to a man with gray skin, and that was when the horror began.
Two Blocks from Paris Blue Cafe
Compliance staggered on. Although she had been injured, she was rapidly self-generating, being cybernetically augumented by Mojo. Her real problem came from her hallucinations; they were so violent, and realistic, as to make her unable to deal with the real world.
She staggered near a a pile of garbage where a man lay sleeping in his own feces when something caught her eye: the two boys from earlier today. Angelo, and the English Rocker, Jono. They were being shoved into a cabbie by a loudmouthed young woman. Jubilee.
Emma Frost's fight from Snow Valley, Massachusets was uneventful. Although, since it was her private jet, she got to watch all the Bogart and Bacall movies she wanted, an added plus. Since graduation was less than a week away, her leaving now was something of a strain on her co-Headmaster, Sean Cassidy. Not only were the original five, once six, graduating, but another 129, too. The 129 were 'normal' students, come to attend her posh, elitist boarding school. They had been brought in by her devious older sister, Adrienne, to substantiate the school's income.
Now here she was running off to L.A. to rescue her two errant students, Jonothon and Angelo. Not to mention her student for the longest time of all, Jubilee, her own adopted daughter. It was Jubilee she was truely worried for, knowing how the grievious injuries of her former mentor, Wolverine, pained her so. And how capable he, and all of the X-Men, were of hurting her so.
//We will be at McCoy's Clinic in two minutes.//
//Thank you, Bumpkin.//
China Town, L.A.
"Are you sure you wish to purchase these, Little Firecracker?" asked Gommur the Ancient, not an especially close confidant of Jubilee's, but arguably a dependable associate.
"Positive, Gommur, Old Friend," Jubilee said brightly to Gommur's raised eyebrow as he very *carefully* wrapped her recent purchase.
"The pretentions are not neccessary, child. Will you be purchasing anything else?"
"Nah, that'll be all."
"Perhaps some advice then, oh impetuous one."
"There is a woman, hovering near this shop waiting for you to come out. She may have been following you."
"Is she, like a tall woman, real pale?" Jubilee asked with unaccustomed nervousness.
Gommur's eyes closed a minute, as he mystically contemplated.
"Yes," he answered.
Jubilee seemed to give this some thought; then, "Hey Gommur, wanna give a girl a lending hand?"
Alley Behind Gommur's Shop
Compliance, being a creature of infinite patience, had been tracking Jubilee since yesterday. She knew, with a hollow feeling, that SHE was the one Mojo wanted. Damaging Wolverine was just frosting on the cake; Jubilee was the real treat. Or perhaps Mojo was killing two birds with one stone, no pun intended. Either way, Compliance knew that Mojo was having one hell of a laugh at her expense.
She was standing knee deep in garbage from the Cantonese restaurant next door, it was spilling over from a BFI bin. When the peeling wooden door opened suddenly to reveal a small, almost a midget, of a man, Compliance melted into the shadows. He was carrying two containers of garbage, heaped full and reeking. Compliance was indifferent to (20) such earthly things as smells, sincerely not caring. Yet the stench was so strong, her eyes watered. The short Chinese man went to dump the contents onto the very top of the over-full bin, his intent was very clear. Compliance just wasn't sure how he meant to do it. Then, as fate often twists, the old man threw the nauseating garbage on her. Darkness from there.
Gommur's Shop, Interior
Smelling salts were what brought Compliance to. It was the girl who interested Compliance; the moment she started to feel the emotion her collar shocked her. Strange. It hadn't shocked her in so long, it seemed, she'd forgotten it existed.
"What was that?" The girl, who Compliance knew--having seen her reflection in the glass at the mall in L.A. when she'd shot Wolverine.
Since the bound woman did not reply, Jubilee tried again.
"Are you a clone of me." This startled Compliance into answering. She knew exactly what she was, didn't everyone?
"By god, it speaks. Here's the $500 question. Do ya belong to Mojo?"
Jubilee frowned, her eyes meeting Gommur's. Although this had nothing to do with him, he was too nosy not to not be there while Jubilee interogated the strange woman.
"Okay, spill it, sister," Jubilee said.
Compliance did not reply.
Compliance stared at this version of herself, this smaller, louder version who dressed in such eyecatching colors. She had convinced herself that she could follow this girl, because Mojo's orders were only to wait and watch. He hadn't specified what or who she was to wait for or watch... so she had watched the girl. Unfortunately, the girl had proved more perceptive than Compliance had given her credit for. It had been a long, long time since she had been tricked so easily.
It served her right, twisting Mojo's orders around like that.
"Are you a clone of me," the girl asked flatly.
Clone? No. She was not a clone. She was Compliance. Who she was before, where she came from... the collar shocked her again. She had no beginning, no state of being that was not Compliance. "No." Her answer was calm, expressionless, as was proper.
"By god, it speaks. Here's the $500 question. Do you belong to Mojo?"
Of course she belonged to Mojo. Her first memory was of opening her newborn eyes to see the green creature laughing before her. *"So the unbreakable spirit is broken," he had said in a mocking voice. He came closer, took her chin in a slimey hand. She didn't flinch. "Just look at those sad eyes. Jubilation doesn't suit you anymore, does it, my difficult little prima donna? Your stage name will be... Compliance! Yes! It's 'you,' darling!"*
She had served Mojo well, until he had sent her through the portal to his younger self, whom she would serve equally well. As soon as she made her escape. Surreptitiously, she tested her restraints. Too strong.
The girl was saying something. Whatever it was, it couldn't have been important. Compliance tried to reach the knife she always carried in her sleeve. It was a stainless steel butterfly knife, not of particularly good quality, but she had had it with her when she was born, and so she had kept it.
"Did you attack Wolverine and Amiko?" The girl pulled something from her pocket, thrust it in front of Compliance. "Recognize this?"
Her face! Compliance became as excited as she ever got. "That belongs to me. Please return it."
"So what you're saying is that a *clone* of Jubilee was responsible for what happened to Wolverine and Kitty?" Jean said incredulously.
Ororo nodded. "I know it sounds difficult to believe, Jean, but"--her mouth quirked up in a sardonic half-smile--"think about our history. Wolverine was replaced by a Skrull imposter for a period of time, with no one the wiser, there was that whole affair with Domino, and you yourself have been cloned."
"I'm not arguing against *that*, 'Ro. But isn't this other Jubilee taller and older? That's what Angelo and Jonothon told you, right? In the surveillance videos, Jubilee didn't look any different."
"The clone may have been at an earlier stage of development."
"So why did Jubilee do what she did to Wolverine? That wasn't because of a clone. She freely admits it."
Storm shrugged helplessly. "I don't know, Jean. I just don't--" she stopped as Jean suddenly held her hand up, her head cocked in an attitude of listening.
"This is a private conversation, Ebon," she said sharply.
A sheepish Ebon rose out from the shadows. "Uh... sorry Jean. 'Ro."
*Sheesh, if looks could kill,* the newest X-Man thought to himself, meaking an undignified retreat from the office. He slouched down the corridor, hands in pocket, to the waiting room.
The Cajun was there, staring blankly into space. "'Lo, Gambit," Ebon said.
"Hm," was the only reply.
Ebon shrugged to himself and turned to the vending machine. Inspecting the contents, he said conversationally, "Y'know, I was talking to Amiko. Before Hank had to sedate her."
He dropped in some quarters, punched the buttons. A bag of onion rings wobbled forward, then the mechanism squeaked to a stop just as the bag was tottering on the edge. Ebon sighed. "She said Jubilee's unstable and a murderer."
If Ebon hadn't had his back turned, he might have seen Gambit's head snap up, his entire face as tight as the expression in his smoldering eyes. As it was, he didn't.
"If she's so dangerous," Ebon continued, rocking at the machine in an attempt to shake loose the onion rings, "why not use the Hiesslim Procedure on her? That oughta--augh!"
Gambit had grabbed the younger man and slammed him up against the vending machine, so hard it rattled Ebon's skull. Behind him, Ebon heard the thump of a bag hitting bottom. The Cajun's red eyes bored into his. Ebon gulped.
"Maybe you should keep your mouth shut about de petite," Gambit grated.
"Whoa, man, sor*ry*. I didn't mean anything by it," Ebon said hastily. What had gotten the dude's goat, anyway?
Gambit relaxed slightly, and loosed his death grip on Ebon's collar. "Hm."
Ebon straightened his threads, then bent down and retrieved his hard-won snack. "I guess the Hiesslim Procedure's kind of a last resort," he said, ripping open the bag and offering some to the Cajun, who shook his head with a look of distaste, "What's the deal with it, anyway?" he asked, crunching onion rings. "Logan and Kitty are just about the only ones I've heard of who've had it done. How did Logan get his mutant factor back, anyway? Did the procedure kill Kitty, or what happened? And--"
Gambit dropped back in his chair, tuning Ebon out. The kid didn't understand. Hardly surprising, since the so-called 'Hiesslim' Procedure wasn't exactly something the original X Team liked to talk about. He closed his eyes as he remembered that day in Mojoworld, when he had found her. Her spunk had finally given out, she had been wild-eyed, desperate. *"It was *my* fault, Gambit, *I* did it to him, but I had to--he had the Virus. He told me. I don't know how I did it, it just came out of me. It felt so dirty. I feel like some kind of monster."*
He gave a bark of bitter laughter, startling the munching X-Man. No, Ebon didn't understand at all. Put Jubilee through the Hiesslim Procedure? She *was* the Hiesslim Procedure.
Gommur's Shop, Chinatown L.A.
"Now how does it feel, bright one?" Compliance taunted Jubilee, holding the second-best quality butterfly in the young girl's bleeding face.
"I don't know. How does it feel, to know you are second best?"
Compliance paused in the act of slicing the sparkler's throat wide open.
"I'm what he wanted, and you--you are--are...."
Compliance's blue eyes narrowed, and she lowered her face closer to Jubilee's so she could hear what she was muttering. She had to know...
It occured to Compliance that Amiko must have learned the biting trick from this pint-sized bi***. Because Jubilee sunk her pearl-like teeth into the vulnerable skin covering her jugular and did not let go. The girl must have been part snapping turtle, the way she hung on. Compliance stabbed her, kicked her, screamed in a complete rage. (21) Compliance actually had to rip a piece of her neck out, leaving it in Jubilee's teeth, to get free. Then Compliance ran like hell.
Five minutes later
"Jubilee, are you okay?"
"Did you just use slang, Gommur? Does that meen I've died and gone to heaven?"
"Shut up, smart ass, and let's get you cleaned up."
McCoy Clinic, Sunny L.A.
"Where the Hell is she?" Emma Frost regally demanded as she swept into the inner floors of Hank's clinic. Her psi scan had shown that Wolverine, her two missing students Angelo and Jono, and a multitude of X-Men were in attendance--but no Jubilee. This quite pissed her off.
Everyone in the private waiting room on the floor designated for X patients stared at her goggle-eyed. Emma, having no time for the foolish, followed the strongest thoughts about Jubilee.
This led her to *another* waiting room where two X-Men were hovering over a scrapbook entitled 'Hiesslem Project.' She sensed from their minds several projections of Jubilee.
"What the Hell is that?" Emma hissed.
"We could ask you the same," Jean said quietly from behind Emma. Several curious X-Men had gathered behind Jean. Emma gave them all the evil eye.
Before anyone could speak Emma used her telekinesis to rip the scrapbook from Ebon's grasp. (22)
"Heyyy, grrrr, that's ours!!!" Marrow, who had become Ebon's co-conspirator, growled.
"I guess you have the right to read that," Ebon conceded, "You are in it."
"What is this about... Ebon, right?" Emma asked arching one perfectly plucked eyebrow.
"Why, what everyone is talking about: Jubilee. And the Hiesslim Procedure. You're on page 19, by the way." Ebon explained.
Emma looked down in fury at the classified documents glued into the pages of Ebon's scrapbook. "How did you get a hold of these--they are private, personal and completely classified," Emma snarled.
"I'm just that good," Ebon said breezily.
Twirling around with the scrapbook firmly under a white, leather-clad arm, Emma turned to address Jean.
"Where are my students?"
Jean sighed with relief. Thank god, Emma didn't want to make more of a scene.
"Right this way. They were visiting Amiko."
Shooting a knowing smirk at Ebon, Marrow turned to follow all the other X People out.
Except for one. "Why were you keeping a scrapbook about Jubilee, Ebon?" Rahne, a.k.a Wolfsbane, asked.
"Because it was a mystery and I solve mysteries."
"Isn't that a little unethical? You don't even know her. Her situation is such a tragedy, it shouldn't be exploited like that."
"Oh, stop being such a puritanical puke. It's part of my mutant power; in my defense, I can't help it."
"Yes, you could," Rahne said as she huffed from the room.
"Bite me! Wolfgirl!"
"So what now, brown cow?" Gommur asked of Jubilee as he put the last stich into her forehead.
"Do not be so flip, young one. Now answer me!"
"Ow! No need to pull so, that hurts! I'm gonna follow her, of course, like any super hero would. In our, *ahem*, fight, I put a trackin' device on her. Really, any crime-fighter worth her salary doesn't leave home without one, or two!"
Down Town L.A.
It took Jubilee ten minutes to find her, then she watched for another 15. First with binoculars, three blocks away, then she edged closer, and closer. Compliance didn't move--just stood in front of a display of T.V.s in a shop window. Finally, Jubilee was directly across the street from her.
"So what's your game?" Jubilee said.
As if hearing her, Compliance suddenly ripped the transmitter from inside her trenchcoat where Jubilee had hidden it. She crumpled it in her fist, then let it drop into the gutter.
Deciding it was inevitable, Jubilee crossed the road to stand beside Compliance.
Amiko was talking nonsense to both Jono and Angelo.
"Jubilee killed Logan-san," Amiko sang while wiggling her finger saying bascially 'I know a secret and you don't.' "But I bit off her ear."
//Luv, you didn't bite Jubilee's ear off. We just saw her and her ears were fine,// Jono thought while his eyes crinkled in worry.
"Si, chica, so why don't you just rest," Angelo said while pulling the covers up.
"YOU LIE! YOU'RE IN THIS WITH HER!!!!" Amiko screamed and started to reach for something but suddenly fell asleep.
Both boys turned around to see Miss Frost standing in the doorway with a book in her hand. "And what do you boys think you are doing upsetting dear Amiko like that," Miss Frost sneered. "You're both very lucky that I sedated her." (23)
//Thanks,// "Thanks," they both mumbled together.
"Now what was this about her biting Jubilee's ear; you're saying that it was fine?" Miss Frost asked a little gentler, but not so gently so her point was not forgotten.
Compliance did not turn her head, but she was aware that Jubilee had come up beside her. In fact, she had known as soon as the younger woman had come within a block. She could teach the kid a thing or two about tracking one's prey. For starters, how to *correctly* plant a tracking device. She had found the tracer as soon as she'd put her hands in her pockets.
When she realized Jubilee would be following her, she had found a place where she could contact Mojo. She knew, instinctively, that he would want to talk to the firecracker.
Compliance seemed absorbed in whatever was displayed on the TV screen. At least, she didn't move when Jubilee came up beside her. Jubilee looked to see what she was so interested in....
Mojo. Of course.
He grinned at her. "So, darling, ready to join Mojo now?"
"I haven't decided anything yet, lardass," Jubilee scowled. "Anyone, s'posin' I agree to this whacked deal. How do I know you'll live up to your end of the bargain?"
Mojo looked hurt--inasfar as a gigantic blob of slime could look hurt. "Why, don't you *trust* l'il ole Mojo?" he whined.
"Duh," Jubilee said scornfully. She trusted the slick-talking worm as far as she could throw him.
"Oh well then," Mojo said airily, and moved to the side. The camera followed him in front of a wall of what looked like security monitors. Mojo waved at one of them. "Recognize anyone?"
Jubilee gasped at the sight of the hospital bed. "Wolvie!" Her eyes narrowed. "How did you get inside Hank's clinic?"
"Oh, I have my ways. Wadley, why don't you show our little friend where you are?"
There was a scraping noise, and then... "Hi boss!" An upside down head popped down in front of the camera, grinning. There was something odd about the fellow, but Jubilee couldn't quite put her finger on it. Was it that his mustache was crooked, or that one eye was lighter than the other, or that he was clutching the top of his head as his long curls tumbled around his face?
"Show her what you've got," Mojo prompted.
Wadley held up (down?) a clear plastic case, containing the biggest hypodermic needle Jubilee had ever seen. "All set to go, boss. All I need's the word."
"You see in front of you, my dear Jubilee, the magic formula. Once Wadley pumps it into your pal's thick little skull, it will rebuild his brain in a matter of hours. Less than a day from now, he'll be good as--ha ha! I mean, he'll be just like new. All you have to do is go with the pretty lady. It's up to you, darling."
In the end, that's what it boiled down to. Giving up her soul for a shot at life. Life for someone she loved. She had always figured that, if it came down to it, she would die in a minute to save Wolverine. Take the bullet for him, jump on the bomb, let herself fall just so he could get away. But now, she felt... she wasn't sure what she felt, staring at his slack face. Numbness and desperation, love and fury, compassion and hurt.
"Do it," Jubilee said softly. Her voice sounded strange, even to herself.
"What was that?" Mojo leered.
"I said"--Jubilee clenched her fists--"DO it!
"But I'm not going with anyone until I know he's back to normal."
So here I am on a plane to Derry, Maine. The airline attendant had sure given us a helluva look when we bought the tickets.
"Will you be paying by charge or check?" he'd asked as he tried to figure out our relationship.
"Cash," Compliance said coolly, bringing out a wad of the stuff. I had to choke back a laugh at his expression. In a weird, robotic sort of way, Compliance was kind of cool. Stress on the 'kind of' part.
"Uh, ok, cash then. May I check your baggage?" he asked as he handed back her change.
"We, like, don't have any." That was my contribution.
Another look. "You're flying across the country without any luggage?"
"Yes," Compliance said. "We are leaving now. Excuse us." She strode off, and I followed, stifling a giggle.
Now she was munching peanuts like she'd never had honey-roasted before, going so far as to lick the salty-sweet crumbs off her fingers. Did I say cool, before? In some ways, she was a major dorkwad, actually. I gave her my packet.
"Thank you," she said calmly, then proceeded to devour each peanut, one by one.
There was an uneasy truce between us. She watched me like a hawk, and I let her. When we got to Derry, she was going to let me get on the phone and call Hank, to check on Wolvie's status. I had watched the weird guy, Waddles or whatever, stick the needle right into Wolverine's ear and pump the entire thing into his skull. Yechhhhhhhhh. I got the creeps again, just thinking about it.
I sure hope he was going to be alright.
I sure hope it's going to be worth it.
Compliance felt guilt. It was amazing; her collar should have intercepted the emotion and then shocked her as punishment for feeling it. It didn't. It was that stupid firecracker's fault, Jubilee, damn her. Her sacrifice reminded Compliance of her own sacrifice, so long ago.
When Compliance murdered, the only time she truly ever killed. She once knew a hunter who told her:
"Killin', it's an art, girlie. You get somethin' from it--like a mosquito gets blood from its victim, the killer gets somethin' too. 'Cept unlike that damned mosquito, for the killer it's different, not always the same. It's different each time, for each killer; it changes, transforms. Tigers that become Butter, so which are you? Are you a Tiger, are you Butter, what do you become?"
On that Killing night--incidentally Mojo shackled her with her Emotion Inhibitor Collar that night too, afterwards, of course--Compliance was Retribution. She was the Brother's Keeper, Finder of Lost Children, Protector of the Righteous from the Tyranny of Evil Men.
"Dude, like what's your damage?" Jubilee asked.
"Yer thinkin' so loud I can hear your thoughts, dude, and I ain't no mojo-powerful 'path that can get past yer cyberkinetic do-hickeys."
"You can sense them?" Compliance asked her traveling companion with interest.
"Like, C. I can practically, like, taste them. But that ain't what I'm talkin' about."
"Then what, pray tell, are you 'talkin' about,' little Jubilee?" Compliance responded with utmost boredom. Silently she wished she had more Honey Roasted Peanuts--they were good.
A few minutes went by. The pilots announced that there were heavy air currents so their jet would wait ten minutes before taking off.
"I think I remember you," Jubilee announced. She been so quiet and still Compliance had thought she'd fallen asleep. No such luck.
"From your time in Mojo World."
"--- Folks, The Ameria Pheline Airlines are sorry to announce that due to high winds we will be postponing this flight. The stewardess will tell you---" over the speakers the pilot announced.
"Talk about your last minute reprieve! So, C, what do we do now?"
Fu**, the X-Men were here. Storm must be using her powers to keep them from leaving. Compliance scowled, feeling, much to her suprise, anger fill her. What was wrong with her Collar? Mojo would not be pleased; he wanted Jubilee in Mojo world, so they could begin the Reconstruction A.S.A.P.
"First, don't ever call me C again, Jubilee. My name is Compliance. You will adress me such or you will not adress me. Second, you couldn't remember me, I was not in existence yet. Third, the X-Men are here. You will help me outmanuever them. Because if you don't, little Jubilee, Mojo *will* have Wadley kill Wolverine. Understood?"
Los Angeles Airport
"So you are sure Jubilee is in there, with that unidentified woman?" Storm asked Emma.
Storm, the White Queen, Ebon and Marrow (they wouldn't miss it for the world), Gambit (he had his own stake in this), Chamber, Skin, Wolfsbane, Phoenix. Granted, to waylay and apprehend two people, that was an awful lot of firepower, but according to them they all had a reason for being there. Storm because she was Team Leader of the Los Angeles branch of the X-Men; White Queen because Jubilee *was* her adopted daughter. Ebon and Marrow had no lives, and were curiosity seekers, through and through. Wolfsbane came because she secretly had a crush on Ebon--Marrow, who was a whole lot prettier than before, was spending a hell of a lot of time with him, and she was having none of it. Perhaps she could grind Marrow up and sell her to a Dog Food Company without anyone knowing. Gambit, according to Emma, had issues. Phoenix, being her, naturally came to keep anything crazy from happening. Angelo *still* had a crush on Jubilee, and Jono just didn't have anything better to do.
"We're like, totally, officially screwed. Do you have any idea how *many freakin' muties are *out* there?" Jubilee near screamed at Compliance.
Compliance had very quickly gotten the two of them off the plane. Then she'd overpowered the barrage of Security Officers, taking their weapons. Then she'd found where all the Security Dweebs kept their kick-ass weapons. She might be a crackweasel, but Jubliee had to hand it to her: C--she meant Compliance--had moves.
"Explain," Compliance demanded as she loaded a grenade launcher.
"Jeez, this is a freakin' airline. Are those dweebs even allowed to have that thing? There are *nine*, 9, yes count them, powerful, trained X's out there. Storm and Emma, and Phoenix all kick ass, Gambit has moves, Ebon and Marrow--either o' us could take them in our sleep, yeah. Wolfsbane is a whiney, puritanical puke, but her claws really hurt. Angelo I don't know, but if Jono has to stop either of us he won't hold his punches. They'll make us into grease spots." Jubilee looked down at her hot pink ostrich leather boots; she'd only bought them yesterday. Now they would get all torn from the floor up--guess that's how it went.
"We're not all out fighting them. We, that is I, am delaying them."
"Delaying them?" Jubilee repeated weakly. She didn't like the sound of that; it sounded ominous.
"Yes. You will escaping, I will be distracting the nine of them." Compliance started strapping herself with gun holsters.
"Yeah, well, can't have Mojo's newest Breaker damaged before I can get the job done," Jubilee said bitterly. Secretly she was awed, she never knew a gun holster could go there.
"You will not be going to Mojo, at least not now, and not because of me. Maybe later, when this is all over; I don't know. Mojo wants--needs--you, and what he wants, Mojo gets. That's not my problem," Compliance said coldly as she filled the assorted holsters with guns she borrowed from the Security men; they didn't need them anymore.
"But, the promise I made, Mojo's serum, Wolvie--what about Wolvie? Is he gonna die now? I won't have any part of his death, do you hear me! I have a clean conscience, it'll stay that way--ow!"
Compliance had grabbed Jubilee's arm.
"You should know better than anyone that Mojo is a liar. It was one of his jokes. Knock knock, there was no serum. Wadley wasn't even in the McCoy Clinic; it was all a ruse, a scam. To get you to come quietly. Mojo needs you, of your own free will, to Break; he can't use you if you don't. Don't you remember, this has happened before with Wolverine."
Tears filled Jubilee's eyes at just the mention of her old mentor's name. "Yeah, but then Kitty got sick and I just never bothered to sort out all the details. It hurt too much. You weren't the one who infected Kit, were you?"
Compliance growled softly as she pulled Jubilee down the corridor of the airport. "Don't you ever listen, I told you I hadn't been Created yet. Now, two things. One, where are the X-Men exactly; I need you to use your power and tell me, I got to know where to shoot. Two, this is how you get out."
Jubilee ran into the Men's Restroom in Sector A17. She threw open the door of the restroom just to run directly into a fat Italian man.
"Get the Hell outta my way!" she screamed, knocking the rotund man down. There were two other men in the restroom. Some slimey pipsqueak in a tie-dye... Grateful Dead boy took one look at Jubilee and ran like the coward he was. (24) The second man was tall and handsome. Even though her hormones were awakening, Jubilee paid him no mind. She went straight to the last stall, the one with the sign 'Out of Order' on it. She opened it up.
Compliance had told her there was a teleportation device set up in there. She looked at the clean toilet and stall. Empty.
"What the hell?" Pull the lever. There was no lever. Hmmm. Jubilee wondered, perhaps.... She flushed the toilet; a secret panel behind the toilet opened. She had just entered the crawl space when she heard a hissing behind her. She sniffed the air smelling pungent fumes. "Acid," she said, but the door was melting. She knew it was a trap, the acid was eating everything away. One of Mojo's practical jokes again. Ha, ha, Emma would never be able to identify her body. But wait, there was the teleportation device. Jubilee teleported away just as the the corroding acid ate away at enough of the floor for the restroom to collapse.
At the Same Time
The grenade almost hit Marrow--Wolfsbane was almost delighted, then, remembering herself and that she was a superhero, she cried out a warning. Skin caught that bad boy with his six feet of extra skin and hucked it into the air. Chamber enveloped it with his psionic fire, causing it to automatically blow up, but not harm anyone. After that it was bascially over, there *were* nine of them. Compliance put up a valiant fight, but Storm gave the order to take her out as fast as possible, considering how deadly Compliance could be--e.g. the Mall Massacre. So the White Queen psi-stunned her, using that really cool psionic "lightning" bolt of hers.
"She does look a great deal like Jubilee," Jean said, staring at the unconcious Compliance. Storm smirked at Jean, remembering Jean's reluctance to believe Ororo's theory that a clone had killed Kitty. Well, Miss Firebird now had proof!
"A clone, this clone did not kill Ariel." (25) Emma touched Compliance's face tenderly. "Ariel died when Jubilee tried to save her using the Hiesslim procedure that is innately grafted to her DNA, trying to save her from the Legacy Virus." Emma continued derisively, "You Goddesses are all the same, completely unable to relate to the 'Common' issues of the 'Normal' people."
"We're attracting attention," Ebon reported uneasily. Storm frowned, then used her power to summon a dense fog.
"Everyone, we will be leaving now. To the Blackbird!"
"But Stormy, where is da P'tite." Gambit asked.
The teleportion device 'dropped' Jubilee off at the sub-basement of the McCoy Clinic. Then the little beeping machine disapeared.
"Hmmmp, didn't like it anyways. Now to find Wolvie."
About Two Minutes Later
"Jubilee-- What are you doing here-- Arrrgh!!" Once Jubilee's power had been like a firecracker; now it was more like a nuclear bomb. Poor Hank, he never knew what hit him.
Dr. McCoy had been bent over his patient, the enigmatic Mr. Logan, fixing his IV. Jubilee sighed with frustration. It was true--there had been no 'magical' cure, just one of Mojo's dirty jokes. If it hadn't been, then Wolverine's little beepy brainwave machine would be showing a different brainwave instead of this depressingly flat one. Damn it. Why was life so flippin' hard. It wasn't fair; she tried to help Wolvie take away his animal side, but he just resented her for it. Saying it was his 'choice' and that extracting his 'animal side' without his permission was as bad as Magneto rippin' out his skeleton or the clowns who put the adamantium in him.
And Kitty, she was just trying to help Kitty. She didn't know how the girl got sick, but was just trying to make her better.
She helped people--it was what she did, ever since Dr. Hiesslim did what he did with the radiation, and now she couldn't help the way she was made.
She sat on the side of Wolvie's bed, gripping his hand. "Hey ole Canuklehead, still hate me? I don't think you do, I--I got your birthday present last year. It gave me a real scare, didn't know who it was from, and hell I've been stalked so much I'm just plain jumpy. Then when I saw what it was I knew it was from you, that you still cared, you still loved me. I was still your sidekick. Oh, Wolvie, it was a killer how you got so mad, and dumped me, and how you thought I killed Kitty. But I forgive you. I love you Wolvie, I--I would die for you." Jubilee closed her eyes and started to concentrate, just like Dr. Hiesslim taught her. Slowly she felt the power flow through her, blanketing her in white; she vibrated with it. Then, ever so slowly, so slowly she wanted to cry, it left her body, and started like a virus to flow into Wolverine's.
There are witches, and New Agers, and priests and all kinds of people who believe in the power of the soul. There are fewer, but still many people who believe that the soul is attached by a silver cord. Even fewer believe that healing can be done when the silver ethereal cord is tapped, in such a way that a little bit of the soul is put into the healee's body, to revive them. Sometimes a certain kind of healer can save a person, the critically ill--say, a vegetable suffering from complete brain damage and impending death. In such cases the use of the silver cord can be fruitless: when a patient must die, they will. Except perhaps when genetics and Super Mutant Healing factors come into play. Then miracles can happen.
Logan awoke with a terrible headache, then almost immediately he noticed his hand was buried in the silkiest head of hair.
"Jubilee--" he said. Much to his dismay it came out a choked rasp. His mouth tasted horrible, like medicine that was growing fungus. It *was* Jubilee, much to his suprise. He was even more suprised to learn that he wasn't enraged to find her there. He'd felt only tenderness and love at her presence; he wanted her awake so he could look into her beautiful blue eyes and tell her... he was sorry, he loved her. Always did, always will.
"Jubilee!!!" He looked up, quite distressed to find that he was terribly weak. Emma came barreling into his room, stepping over the prone body of Beast. "What have you done," she hissed accussingly at him.
Emma looked at Jubilee's prone figure and knew, even without the evidence she would get from the autopsy, what Jubilee had done. "Oh, Logan," she breathed. "I'm sorry, you loved her too, didn't you?" She knelt beside the body of Jubilee Frost, her adopted daughter, as Logan half held her in his arms.
Logan looked at Jubilee's blotchy skin, her glazed eyes, the dried blood caked on her nose. He didn't even have to check for a pulse to know that she was dead. "Oh, baby, come on, don't do this to me! Damn you, you and you martyring of yourself!"
"Henry!" Hank awoke to Ororo shaking him awake.
"Jubilee! She got past me--what? Oh." He pulled himself off the hospital floor. He looked sadly at the threesome huddled on Logan's bed. Emma was unabashedly sobbing. "The Hiesslim procedure, Ro?" He hung his big, blue, furry head.
"Yes, Henry, I don't know why she didn't learn her lesson the first she took a life, now she's gone and killed herself. Whatever was she trying to prove, I wonder?" Storm stated.
"Perhaps, Storm, she was merely doing what she thought was right."
Footnotes... really, footnotes! =o
(0) Editor's Note: Why, yes, I *do* have too much free time, thanks for noticing! So how come I'm calling myself "Editor" and red inking everyone's posts? Well, darn it, 'cause I actually took the time, that's why. And no-one else did, so =P . If y'all don't like it, Sparrow's been saving the story and she can repost too. ;>
(1) Editor's Note here: The original sentence reads: "He couldn't heal around a spiked metal stake that was two feet in diameter, standing a foot out of his chest." Whoa! The spike is two feet thick? Wolverine's chest can't be much more than two feet.
(2) Editor's Note: The original, deleted because it is repeated in the next section, reads:
(3) Demon Buttercup: I'm assuming Angelo has siblings, and his mother works at a hospital. His father I presume was killed in a drive-by in front of Angelo, like the Fleer card said.
(4) DB: That's actually a reference to the Spanish Harlem.
(5) DB: Screw Kauffman's! I flonqing hate Kaufmann's, Bastards!
(6) DB:I know Torres is a mutant, something telekinetic, but I took liberties and made her a telepath.
(7) DB:Dyce, in "Rising Son" series, said Skin's skin had a velvety texture, it seemed plausible.
(8) DB:I'm a blatant Jubi/Ange shipper, and I don't care who knows.
(9) Editor's Note: Originally, Storm and Gambit were hurt. Storm does not appear to be hurt in a previous and in some later sections, so I swapped her with Angel, who was also at the mall that Compliance attacked.
(10) DB: I can't remember what Ms. Thomas does so we'll make her a social worker, and I'm pretty sure Mr. Thomas is a medical doctor. Also, Everet is dead, except in flashbacks.
(11) DB: This happened before the Onslaught thing.
(12) DB: Ebon belongs to me, blah blah. I honestly couldn't think of a character so I made one up.
(13) Sparrow: This part is true where I live. We just have two seasons. Construction and Winter. I LOVE CANADA! ^_^;
(14) DB: No, the X-Men don't kill, that drama queen's just exaggerating.
(15) DB: This medical procedure does not exist in the Marvel Universe, and was named after a compulsive liar I knew in high school.
(16) DB: The last time I saw Mojo was in X-Force, something, and he was goldish, but I'll go with the original concept.
(17) Editor's Note: Original sentence reads: "'Amiko, stop that. Jubilee has every right to be here,' Jean Gray-Summers yelled sharply; having seen Amiko slap Jubilee." However, Jean wasn't there when it happened.
(18) DB: Although I wasn't there, I imagine the Legacy Virus used would be similiar to the Genosha style.
(19) DB: Penance and Monet St. Croix are two different people.
(20) Editors Note: The original phrase was "Compliance was partan about". Huh?
(21) DB: Why isn't Jubilee using her powers on Compliance? Good question; in the Marvel universe, siblings' powers don't work on each other. Jubi and Comp. aren't sisters but same rules apply.
(22) DB: She has the power, Marvel is just f**ked up!
(23) Sparrow: AU, sorry if I'm making her seem a little cold, but I haven't written the White Queen much.
(24) DB: Ex-boyfriend who owes me $60, the slacker.
(25) DB: Let's just say Kit never got the chance to change her codename. I like Ariel better.