Author's Note: Hey! Thanks for deciding to give my (first story, so be nice :P ) a try. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. Like I sad before, this is a first attempt, so any and all comments are most welcome. Plus, the encouragement will do me good to keep me writing. :) You can send email to...
So enjoy! And looking forward to hearing from you X-freaks! >:)
Battle lines have been drawn. Humanity stands upon the brink of an inter-species conflict that will decide the fate of the planet. The X-men are, as always, caught up in the middle. Only this time the stakes are far higher than ever before...
In these uncertain times, the boundaries between friend and foe are blurry and indistinct. Can the X-men avert global disaster or is it truly the beginning of the end?
Disclaimer: X-men is owned by Marvel and I make no claim of ownership aside from my own characters and plot elements. I am not making any money from this story and am just having fun! :)
"Guys, he's waking up," Kitty breathlessly announced upon bursting into the War Room.
Scott turned towards Emma. "You'd better be the first face he sees, Emma."
The telepath nodded and rose silently. Waking up in strange surroundings, confined and powerless after the traumatic experience their guest had suffered...he was sure to be in a panicked state. A familiar face would serve to reassure him. At least in theory. Considering the harsh words she had shared with her former colleague at their last meeting, Jesse probably would not be greeting her with open arms.
"Is something wrong, Emma?" Bobby asked concernedly.
Emma quickly adjusted her expression and smiled weakly. "No, Robert. I'm fine," she lied. She took a deep breath to steel herself then turned to the others. "Wait here. Come in only when I call for you," she said commandingly.
The double doors to the Med Bay slid open and immediately their ears were bombarded by enraged screaming, a melange of threats and swearing coupled with the clang of the metal restraints. Emma walked in and shut the door behind her. Cautiously, she approached the bed upon which a male form was frantically writhing in a desperate attempt to escape.
"Jesse," she said softly.
As if a switch had been shut off, the young man immediately stilled. A second later he was staring at her with none too friendly eyes.
"Frost," he said coldly in a voice semi-hoarse from the screaming. "Either you've turned traitor to your own kind...or I'm not a guinea pig in an MRD lab."
"The latter, I assure you," Emma responded. She switched off the monitoring equipment and began removing the IV catheters from Jesse's scarred and bruised body. "You're in the X-men's subbasement in case you're wondering."
Jesse's eyes widened and his mouth formed a perfect `O'. "The X-men?"
"Desperate times call for desperate measures my dear." She had finally removed the last of the electrodes from his skin. "There, that's finished."
Jesse shook his fists and clanked the manacles binding him to the bed. "And what about these?" he asked with a sneer.
"Those will come off...eventually," was Emma's answer.
Jesse's brow furrowed. "Get these off of me right now."
"Not until you agree to hear us out," Emma replied firmly.
Jesse frowned. "I don't take orders from you anymore."
"Those restraints beg to differ," Emma quipped, then sighed. "Look, we saved your life damn it. The least you can do is give us a bloody audience."
"Fine," he tersely replied after mulling it over for a few moments. "Then you let me go. Right?"
She nodded. Alright, he's ready to talk, she mentally messaged the X-men waiting outside. The double doors slid open and both their gazes shifted from each other to the small group of people walking towards them...
"That's gonna leave a nasty scar, bub," were the first words out of Logan's mouth upon laying eye fall on Jesse. There was a newly healing, laser inflicted wound stretching from Jesse's left shoulder to his right hip. He'd gotten it courtesy of a sentinel's palm beam that had managed to pierce his force field.
"I strongly doubt it," was Jesse's cryptic reply. "But you're not all here to comment on the integrity of my physique. So say what you must and be done with it."
Bobby whispered to Kitty, "God, not another one. Why can't people like him and Emma ever talk normal?"
She nudged him and he was silent. "Not now."
"Fine. I like a man who gets right to the point," Logan replied, meeting Jesse's intimidating gaze with one of his own. Logan was pleased to see that he didn't flinch (a rare quality). "We want you on our team."
Jesse's eyes flitted to Emma. "Is he serious?"
She nodded. "Completely."
"Emma has already joined us," the sunglasses wearing man next to Logan said, speaking for the first time. "For some months now in fact."
Jesse shut his eyes and shook his head in disbelief. "I don't fu-"
"Language," Emma chided. "And yes. It is true."
"Forget what I said about you turning traitor to your own kind," Jesse continued accusingly. "Because that is exactly what you have done by joining the X-men. After all that's happened...how could you? After what the humans have done to us you'd fight against your own to protect them?"
Emma's look softened. "It's not that simple. You were all for mutant-human integration. I'd have thought you of all people would understand -"
"That was before humanity went Nazi on us," Jesse interjected angrily. "Kill or be killed, survival of the fittest. That's what they have brought us to. We didn't start this war. They did."
"I see Magneto's indoctrinated you well," Emma responded coolly.
Jesse's eyes narrowed. "I could say the same about Xavier. Where's baldy anyway?"
"This is what we risked our asses -" Bobby began before being interrupted.
"Easy," Kitty whispered to the trembling Bobby who was struggling to keep his anger reigned in. Logan, however, was on the verge of losing it and had to be held back by Scott.
"Charles is...currently incapacitated physically," Emma answered, subtly positioning herself between Logan and the bed. "But he is here with us in spirit. It's a very sensitive and complicated matter and for your own sake I'd advise you to not speak of the professor with such irreverence."
"I...I'm sorry," Jesse was quick to apologize. "I didn't know."
"There was an explosion," Kitty explained. "He was injured. And one of our own went missing after as well."
"MRD?" Jesse asked, expression darkening again.
Kitty shrugged. "We don't know. We found him on Genosha. We had an altercation with Magneto there. He was keeping the professor...caring for him..."
All this was news to Jesse. "I can understand why he'd keep it secret though. There might be many Genoshans who would not understand his caring for a man who seemed to side with humanity more so than with his own people. I assume you don't believe Magneto's responsible for what happened to the professor?"
"We'll find out who's responsible eventually," Scott said, words laced with promise. "But on a related note...it's because of our missing teammate, Jean, that we could really use your help."
"Without Jean our team lacks a solid defensive arsenal," Logan quickly explained.
"Your ability to generate and manipulate those energy fields of yours would fill that gap quite nicely," Scott continued. "And you're no slouch offensively either. You handled yourself pretty good before the sentinels all designated you as their prime target and overwhelmed you."
"Makes sense," Logan said, expression growing pensive. "Their AI is threat based. I guess Magneto's trained you Acolytes well."
"I am not an Acolyte," Jesse replied.
Bobby scratched his head. "Brotherhood?"
"Nah. He seems to be actually good at his job. Unlike Quicksilver's gang," Kitty said, mulling it over.
"I'm with the Genoshan Elite Guard," Jesse responded, the note of pride in his voice unmistakable. "Under direct command of Magneto himself."
Emma's face fell but she said nothing to that.
"I believe I've heard you out," Jesse went on, "and the answer is no. Now, the restraints if you please."
"Do you really think we're just going to let you walk so you can go kill more innocent people?" Bobby asked, the heat returning to his voice.
"I assure you, no one working in an MRD facility is innocent," Jesse answered through gritted teeth. "Keep me here and you're no better than the MRD. I know all about these drugs you have me on. They are rendered useless over time by the immune system. Why do you think the MRD keeps mutants in artificially induced comas? You can't suppress my powers indefinitely."
"Yeah...well... We could have Emma do psychic surgery on your ass," Bobby countered smugly.
Jesse merely smirked. "You're welcome to try by all means."
Bobby looked towards Emma hopefully.
She shook her head. "His powers are...multifaceted, Bobby. He bends not just energy to his will, but matter as well. The psychic connections responsible for control of his abilities are far too complex for me to simply shut down by psychic surgery. Charles Xavier on the other hand might have been able to dampen them significantly, though probably not negate them entirely." She hesitated a moment then continued mentally. Jesse would be classified under Xavier's scheme as an omega level mutant.
Logan and Scott were well aware of this, having discovered he was listed as such in the Xavier Protocols. But it was news to Bobby and Kitty.
Xavier had your Jean Grey for a protege. I had Jesse.
"Let him go," Logan finally ordered.
Scott would have protested but Logan silenced him with a glance. The jingle of keys drew a smile onto Jesse's face. As soon as he was freed of the metal restraints he all but lunged for the door, not caring he was wearing nothing but pajama bottoms. Scott pressed a bottom on his keyring and the doors opened.
Jesse's feet were on the verge of crossing the threshold when Emma stepped forward and made her announcement. "We can help you find your father," she said with emphasized confidence. " That's what this is all really about, isn't it? Why you're helping them attack the MRD camps? That's something we can offer you that Magneto can't."
Begging to differ, Jesse said, "Magneto's promised to -"
"Magneto has no idea where individual mutants are being detained," Scott remarked. "That information is heavily guarded. As I'm sure you've realized. But we have access to Cerebro. I take it you know what that is?"
Jesse nodded slowly. "I can't just defect from Genosha -"
Emma stepped forward, closed distance and grabbed him by the shoulders. She then shook him in a rare display of unrestrained emotion. "You tout Magneto's party line quite well but your words are empty. And I don't need to be a telepath to sense that."
"What makes you so sure of that?" Jesse asked threateningly as he extricated himself from Emma's grasp.
"Tell me...how many MRDs have you killed in the name of Genosha?" Emma asked with raised eyebrow.
"I - I've lost count."
Emma rolled her eyes. "You haven't lost count my dear. You never had a death count to begin with. Now stop this nonsensical behavior and accept our very generous offer. For your father's sake."
Resolve noticeably wavering, Jesse asked, "...if I do say yes...can I leave whenever I see fit?"
Logan nodded. "We're not in the habit of taking prisoners."
"You could have fooled me," Jesse replied, pointing at his former restraints.
"Those were..." Scott trailed off.
Kitty helpfully finished for him, "a precaution."
An awkward silence pervaded the air. Finally, with a deep breath, Jesse said, "Fine. Two conditions."
"Name them," Logan ordered.
"I stay until either you find dad or all hope is lost...and if you do find him you won't try and stop me from busting him loose..." Jesse paused. "And..."
"And the second?" Scott goaded.
Jesse's expression became resolute again. "Don't expect me to help you fight Genoshan forces or the Brotherhood. I'm not fighting our own to protect any human. Do we have a deal?"
Scott and Logan glanced at each other.
Logan said with a nod, "We have a deal."
"All I'm saying is...can he really be trusted?" Bobby asked in a whisper. He and Kitty were having breakfast in the kitchen. "For all we know he could wind up selling us out to Magneto."
"You mean like Rogue did?" Kitty took a sip of her coffee and sighed. Rogue was still a sore topic around the mansion. "If she can crossover, then why can't one of theirs? Especially as we have something that he wants badly."
Bobby watched her drinking her beverage dreamily. "We do?"
Kitty rolled her eyes in exasperation. "We might be able to use Cerebro to help him find his dad."
"Oh, right, right."
The sound of heavy footsteps could be heard approaching. Moments later Hank walked in, rubbing his eyes. He made a beeline for the coffee maker. "Good morning, Kitty. Bobby."
They responded in kind.
"Have some grub, Hank," Bobby offered.
Hank politely declined. The dark rings under his eyes attested to yet another sleepless night. They'd all been having a lot of those ever since the MRD's rise to prominence.
"Still no luck decrypting those sentinel protocols?" Kitty asked disappointedly.
"None whatsoever I'm afraid," Hank confessed.
Bobby frowned. "Great. So we still don't know where the sentinels are being manufactured, how many there are or -"
"Middleton," a voice declared. All eyes turned to the source. Jesse was standing in the doorway. "The nearest sentinel manufacturing plant is located in Middleton, Wisconsin."
"And you know this how?" Bobby asked with raised eyebrow.
Jesse walked in, grabbed a plate and sat down at the table. "Genosha has been conducting top notch espionage for months now. Our efforts have borne fruit." He eyed the sugar coated `stuff' Bobby had piled into his bowl and shook his head in disapproval of the boy's dietary habits. "Speaking of which, have you got any at all in the house?"
"Sure," Kitty said with a friendly smile and got up to fetch some. "Bananas, strawberries, cherries, grapes, applies..."
"Thanks," Jesse said, as nicely as he could manage. "And as for how many sentinels...our current estimates place them somewhere between three to five hundred."
Hank groaned. "Good heavens."
Jesse shrugged. "That was two months ago. If they have automated assembly factories then the number could be much higher."
"Here you go," Kitty said, handing Jesse a bowl of diced fruit. "So what's this about the sentinels?"
They filled her in.
"Still think the humans need our protection?" Jesse asked pointedly, before sinking his teeth aggressively into a slice of apple. No one had anything to say to that.
Hank looked extremely pensive. "They already have virtually the entire mutant population in the United States in concentration camps. What would they be mass producing sentinels for?"
"Do you think they want to go global?" Kitty stated nervously. "Strong arm other countries to grant them powers of detainment and -"
"We've been expecting an attack on Genosha for some time now," Jesse said, interrupting her.
Bobby couldn't help but laugh. "Send an army of robots to fight the Master of Magnetism? Are they for real?"
Kitty didn't share his mirth. "They'd need enough to overwhelm his powers," she told Bobby, who stopped laughing. "Hence the large numbers."
"Exactly," Jesse replied gravely. "We have a theory."
"Care to elaborate?" Hank asked.
Jesse did. The gist of it was... The humans didn't yet have to means to eradicate mutant kind. When they realized this they sued for peace, and offered Magneto the opportunity to take his people and leave the country. Magneto would get his own island to settle on but the humans would keep the mutants already in their custody as insurance.
And secretly, all through this, the sentinels were in the works, being manufactured in top secret facilities nationwide. Soon they might have enough to launch an offensive on Genosha and wipe out the refugees. In which case they wouldn't need the mutant prisoners as bargaining chips anymore and would terminate them as well, effectively crippling the mutant race.
"So I think you can appreciate that I'd like to find and free my father before that happens." Jesse had by then finished eating his breakfast and rose to leave. "Well, I'll leave you all to your breakfast. I wouldn't want to ruin anyone's appetite further."
Kitty got up and followed him out (much to Bobby's annoyance). "Hey, uh, Jesse! Wait up!" she called after him.
Jesse slowed but didn't stop walking. "Yes?"
"Where are you headed to?" she asked in her usual cheery way.
"Keeping tabs on me I see," Jesse responded with a frown.
"What? No I just -"
"If you must know I was headed outside for a morning walk," Jesse interjected. "After lying unconscious for nearly a week it feels great to stretch my legs."
"Can I join you?" Kitty asked carefully. "If you don't mind that is."
Jesse glanced at her from the corner of his eyes. When he was reasonably satisfied that there was no ulterior motive he said, "Sure. It's your house after all."
"And you're the guest," Kitty scoffed.
"A guest who not so long ago was in chains," Jesse replied, though he smiled as he said it.
They stepped out onto the patio together and had to shield their eyes from the dazzling sunlight. The sky was devoid of any cloud cover and held the promise of a beautiful summer day. Whatever Xavier's and Magneto's differences, Jesse noted they both seemed to have immaculate taste when it came to architecture and landscaping. The mansion grounds with its immaculate lawns and floral beds attested to that.
"You know it wasn't so many weeks ago that I was on a ship headed to Genosha," Kitty announced after an awkward silence.
Jesse turned to face her. "You? Genosha?" he asked in some surprise.
Kitty smiled weakly. "It was after Jean and the professor went missing. After the X-men fell apart. I had nowhere else to go."
They walked on in silence for a minute more, until Kitty guided him to the shade of some trees, under which stood a bench. They both took a seat and enjoyed the cool morning air.
"What's it like on Genosha?" Kitty finally asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.
Jesse sighed. "Didn't want the others witnessing your blasphemous interest, did you?"
Kitty reddened. "Maybe."
"Genosha is a nation newly born," Jesse answered after thinking for a few moments. "It's not perfect and we have our share of problems. Same as here."
That statement didn't do much to reassure Kitty. And it showed on her face as plain as day.
"I never believed in sugar-coating unpleasantness," was Jesse's response to that. "In times of war and instability leaders have difficult decisions to make and must sometimes do hateful things."
Kitty could understand that. "So what kind of problems have you been having? Shortages of supplies or..."
Jesse shook his head. "No. Leadership and defense issues."
Most of the refugees to Genosha were everyday people. No leadership skills or combat training. And most of them wanted to just settle down and form their own little island paradise, to put the past behind them. It was a constant struggle to remind them that the humans were still out there, likely plotting their demise. Worse yet, no one else but Magneto had the expertise and experience to lead Genosha in these difficult and dangerous times...yet some were calling for the institution of a democracy.
"As much as you X-men might think otherwise," Jesse continued, "Magneto doesn't exactly have an army at his disposal out there. It's why the sentinels are so worrying."
"You certainly seem to be well trained," Kitty remarked, and tried to turn it into something of a compliment.
Jesse thanked her. "We may not have an army to rival the humans but we have been taking steps in the right direction. The Brotherhood, the Acolytes, Elite Guard."
Kitty recalled the outfit Jesse was wearing during his ill fated assault on the MRD. It consisted of a black formfitting bodysuit, shoulder, knee and elbow pads, boots and gloves that bore red accents. On the torso was a chest guard upon which was emblazoned a red insignia that resembled the headpiece of a trident. "Trendy uniforms too I gotta say. Magneto was always a fan of red, wasn't he? That bright red cape of his."
Red, the color of energy, action and valor. And blood.
"Oh there are different colors for different factions of the Elite Guard," Jesse informed her. "My uniform's highlights are red because the Scarlet Witch is my commanding officer."
"Mm, color coded. Nice."
Jesse didn't have the heart to tell her what he thought about their `uniforms'. She was, after all, being nice and he didn't want to offend. "So tell me," he went on, "is that guy...Bobby, always such a..."
Kitty smirked. "Yeah. But he doesn't mean anything by it really."
"So that look of death he was giving me when you decided to follow..."
Kitty looked clueless. "Huh?"
Jesse blinked stupidly. Kitty seemed oblivious to the obvious attraction Bobby had for her.
"Nothing," Jesse said quickly, correcting himself. "So, Kitty, what is it you do here? Aside from the X-men that is?"
"Do? You mean did," Kitty answered in a low voice. "I just graduated and got my high school diploma and I had just taken up computer science courses, distance learning. The professor wanted me to start teaching."
Jesse was impressed. Kitty was more than a pretty face it seemed. Pretty, sweet and friendly and smart too. He could see why Bobby wanted to keep an eye on her.
"Emma told us you were her protege," Kitty went on. "It kinda surprised us. We expected you to be psychic."
"Protege?" Jesse echoed. "No. I was more of a pet project. You haven't met her real proteges. I swear, they're like clones of her."
The Stepford sisters, blond telepathic quintuplets who didn't seem to have individual personalities, but rather, a hive mind. Jesse always did find them to be more than a little disturbing. As did the rest of the school, which was one of the reasons why they were tutored as a group of five, privately. They didn't make for a healthy group dynamic with the other students.
Kitty was waving a hand in front of his face to get his attention. He had drifted off into memory lane. Better times.
Kitty rose from the bench. "They want us in the War Room. You, um, have a call."
Jesse got up and followed her back inside. He had a pretty good idea who was calling...
"I'd called several times earlier this week but you were still unconscious." Wanda glanced over his shoulder where Scott and Logan were standing, keeping a close watch. "So how are you feeling?"
Jesse shook his head dismissively.
Wanda begged to differ. "You were hit full on by a fusion beam."
"My force field absorbed most of it," Jesse replied as he unconsciously touched the scar on his chest. "It'll take much more than that to do me in."
Scott and Logan shared a look. So far the conversation was pretty kosher but both were keeping their ears trained for any hint of secret codified exchanges between Jesse and Wanda. So far there didn't seem to be anything suspicious going on. They were a little surprised at the level of closeness between them though. While the X-men thought of themselves as more than just teammates, indeed, as family...it never occurred to them that their adversaries (who had committed some of the most heinous of crimes) could share the same sentiments about each other.
"So when are you coming home?" Wanda asked eagerly.
Jesse looked behind him only to meet the veiled, expressionless gaze of Scott. "Um, Wanda...here's the thing..."
As expected she did not take the news well.
Jesse hastened to explain. "It will only be for a little while."
"Just how long is a little while?" Wanda's eyebrows cocked up. Not a good sign.
"A few weeks," Jesse said in response, then continued under his breath, "a couple months tops."
Wanda slapped her forehead in exasperation. "Look, Jesse, I understand and sympathize. Really, I do but -"
"What if it were your father drugged into a coma? With a death sentence hanging over his head?"
Wanda sighed. "But they're the enemy, Jesse."
"Really? The enemy of your enemy is your friend," Jesse reasoned. "The MRD is a mutual adversary. And believe me, nothing the X-men can say or do will ever stop me from paying them back. Wanda, please..."
Wanda went quiet for a few moments. "Okay."
Wanda smiled weakly. "Okay. I will have to clear it with father first of course."
Jesse nodded. "He'll listen to you. You're the one he trusts and respects the most." Jesse glanced behind him again before continuing. "And you can tell him he can rest assured that I won't be spilling our secrets to the X-men or fighting against our own."
Logan lips stiffened but he said nothing.
"Right, just against the MRD," Wanda reiterated. "I suppose anything that cripples and debilitates them works in our favor. But what about the X-men?" Wanda pointed to the two men standing behind Jesse. "How can you trade your services and work with them for their favor if they can't even trust you to have a private conversation." Wanda scowled at Logan (and was treated to one in return). "Couldn't you have maintained a facade, Logan, and just eavesdrop electronically?"
"But that's just so impersonal," Logan replied gruffly.
Before an argument could erupt, Jesse cut in. "So, um, call back when you have Magneto's answer. Okay?"
Wanda nodded. "Sure thing. You keep cool. And remember, you'll always have a place here." With one final, disparaging glance to Logan, she was gone.
"Well that went better than I expected," Scott said, releasing his breath and taking a seat.
Jesse rolled his eyes. "We're not slaves of Magneto you know. We're free to leave whenever we so choose."
"Is that why you have to ask permission?" Logan asked a bit mockingly.
"No. I asked because I accept I have a responsibility to my country and choose not to defect in a time of war."
"Country?" Logan asked incredulously. "You are an American. You were born on American soil."
Jesse begged to differ. "Wrong. I am a citizen of Genosha. From what Emma told me you were born Canadian...yet here you are acting like a Yankee."
Logan let out an exasperated breath. "Genosha is a speck. No man's land."
Scott raised his voice uncertainly. "Uh, actually, Logan...I think Genosha was granted to Magneto as a sovereign nation."
Logan blinked. "Oh."
Jesse turned to Scott, a look of abject incredulity on his face. "And this is the man you have leading you? Not very reassuring. Should I be worried? Maybe given a chance to reconsider?"
Logan groaned inwardly. He could see why Emma seemed to be fond of Jesse. The similarity with regards to their attitude was truly profound. "Look, I'm not one for politics."
"Clearly." Jesse treated him to a look of superiority. "Now if you two - he cast a furtively deprecating glance at Logan - gentlemen will excuse me, I have some things to see to. Like getting some clothing that doesn't make me look like an anorexic chicken."
"We expect everyone to wear a tracker when they're off grounds!" Logan called after him as he exited the war room.
"Somehow I very much doubt that!" Jesse called back.
Logan looked to Scott, seemingly as if to ask - what have we let Emma talk us into?
"I already have my hands full with Emma," Scott said, stalling him. "And Hank has Bobby to mentor."
Logan considered a moment. "Maybe Hank will accept a trade."
Scott smirked (annoyingly) and got up to leave. "Somehow, I very much doubt that," he said lightly over his shoulder, relishing the scowl that appeared on Logan's face.
"Need a ride?" Emma asked as her car screeched to a halt.
It was not even ten but the sun was already beating down, pummeling any and all caught beneath its merciless rays. Jesse dared not fly, for obvious reasons, and so had to walk from the mansion to the nearest bus stop. After the way he had left Scott and Logan in the War Room (all but storming off) his pride would not allow him to ask to borrow a vehicle. Even though the tee shirt he was wearing was (too) loose and airy, he could tell he'd be a dripping mess by the time he reached said bus stop. Even so, to accept a ride from Emma...
"I'm fine thanks," Jesse responded curtly and continued walking.
Emma was not a woman so easily deterred and drove alongside him. "Oh for God's sake! Get in already."
Jesse turned but kept on walking. "Stop acting like everything is okay between us. It isn't."
At hearing this Emma parked, got out and blocked his path. "For the last time," she said with shaking voice, "there was nothing we could have done. It wasn't my fault. It wasn't your fault either."
"Ugh!" Jesse exclaimed in anger as a plume of multicolored energy erupted sky wards. Two unfortunate birds that happened to be flying overhead fell upon the immaculate white hood of her car and toppled to the ground with a sickening thud. Roasted to death by Jesse's energy discharge. He didn't seem to have noticed.
At least they didn't suffer , Emma thought to herself. Can't say the same about my car though.
Emma quickly glanced around to make sure it wasn't seen. The mansion was very secluded but you never knew. A telepathic scan revealed there was nowhere in the immediate vicinity.
"We could have taken them!" Jesse said, violently gesturing. "You, me, Ash and Benton...we could have sent the MRD screaming for the hills."
The MRD had struck at the Academy when both Emma and Jesse were out with a class on a field trip to the Zoo. The rest of the student body were at the school and fell victim easily to the MRD's assault.
Emma shook her head. "They were military trained. We didn't have any -"
The look Jesse gave her stopped her short of finishing her sentence.
"One stray bullet," Emma continued, "one stray energy blast and students could have been seriously hurt in the crossfire. Or worse. We should be grateful we were able to smuggle to safety those we could. They had orders to kill anyone non-cooperative."
"And the living death the MRD has them in now is an improvement?" Jesse asked incredulously.
"Yes! Because we may be able to bring them back from that," Emma replied. "At least they're still alive."
"For now. And who knows for how much longer."
Jesse leaned on the car for support. Emma could sense the turmoil within his mind acutely. A heady mix of anger, self-blame, worry and fear. Not that he let any of those emotions show upon his face. That alone spoke volumes to Emma. Jesse was always the expressive sort who vented without reservation. Now she had to concede just how much the current state of affairs had changed him.
"We have to do something, Emma," Jesse said, making eye contact with her for the first time since the beginning of their exchange. "Something decisive. Before it's too late."
"We will," she replied gently as she placed a tentative arm around his shoulders. "I promise." She was gratified when he didn't attempt to pull away. "Now come on. Get in."
After a long silence, Jesse nodded. Emma smiled weakly. It was a start.
To Be Continued...
Well, thoughts, comments, suggestions, ideas, criticisms? :D Send 'em all to...