This is about where Laura Kinney was introduced last time around. Granted she showed up earlier in this version, but we still get another dose of her here. She's actually great at illustrating the importance of reader-author interaction: her entire corner of the universe was created and inserted into the story solely because someone took the time to review and go 'You know what'd be cool, Joe? Willow meeting X-23!'. And so while I can't use every - or even most - of the suggestions directly in this story, you have nothing to lose by suggesting them. Who knows? Even if I can't adapt them for Blue Belle
, they might show up somewhere else.
November 26, 2011
The Sort of Stereotypical Abandoned Warehouse That the Big Apple Likely Wouldn't Have
New York, New York
"You killed those fucking cops!"
"No, I killed a cop. One. You killed the other one."
"Well I wouldn't have shot at them if they weren't shooting at me first. Why were they shooting at me? Because you got twitchy and opened fire on them, you dumb fuck!"
"Shut up, both of you!" Burying his face in his hands, Brian groaned. This was why he normally worked alone. Thirty robberies in three years, all of them successful because he'd thought small and stuck to just hitting random mom and pop stores to empty the register. Get in, get out, get away, enjoy his take. Then two of his friends had finally figured out why he always had such a large supply of small bills on him… and demanded he let them in on the action.
He should have just called their bluff and let them turn him in, Brian thought as he shook his head. Because his perfect streak being broken was currently the least of his worries. At the top of that list? What they'd do to the guy who organized the robbery that resulted in at least two dead cops. Fuck. He couldn't even… up until now, he hadn't even used a loaded gun for his robberies. A real gun for authenticity, sure, but he'd left the bullets at home. Accidents could happen and while he was fine with being a robber, he didn't want to be a murder. Yet here he was, an accessory to two of them. Cop killings at that.
Fuck. His. Life.
There was a low croaking noise followed by the crack of a pistol, and Brian groaned. Yeah, they were going to stay hidden real long with Matt firing his gun off randomly. Moron. Even as their village's idiot lowered his pistol, Brian followed his line of sight to where a large black bird was sitting on a dusty crate, staring at them. As he watched, another raven joined it and then a third, making Matt mutter under his breath. "Fucking freaky ass birds. Won't stop staring at me."
Brian shot Matt an odd look at that, before realizing that the birds did seem unnaturally interested in them. Or was it just Matt? Taking a step to his right and then another, Brian realized that Matt might actually be onto something as all three of the birds continued to stare straight at him. Make that four birds… five birds… ten birds? A bit unsettled, Brian finally drew his own gun as the number of birds continued to climb, covering the crate and then wheeling in tight circles above it when they ran out of room. Suddenly, the circling birds dived toward the crate and the space above it became a writhing mass of black feathers that started to take on a human shape. Panicking, Matt and John began to fire on… whatever it was… even as Brian dropped his gun and began to back away. Whatever the fuck was going on, he wanted absolutely no part of it.
"'Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting. 'Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken! Quit the bust above my door! Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!' Quoth the raven…" The black feathers exploded outward, revealing the owner of the low but decidedly feminine voice to be a woman with pale skin, black hair, and piercing blue eyes. The corner of her mouth quirked upward as she slid off the crate, straightening up as she drew a pair of wicked-looking daggers from her belt. "Nevermore."
"Holy fu… shoot the bitch!"
Lunging forward as Matt and John opened fire again, the woman twisted in midair and somehow managed to avoid every single one of their shots as she closed the distance between herself and her prey. Bringing her daggers up, she slashed them across Matt's throat twice in quick succession. Even before her first target hit the ground, Matt gurgling as he clutched desperately at his neck, she was spinning around and slamming both daggers into John's chest. John grunted as he looked from the woman's face to the blades buried in his chest and back, and then she yanked the daggers free and he collapsed like a puppet with its strings cut. "And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, on the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door. And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming, and the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor. And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor shall be lifted - nevermore!"
Brian felt something warm trickle down his leg. As the woman looked his way, he quickly raised his hands in surrender and then kicked his gun away for good measure. "Please don't kill me."
"Should I kill you?" Sheathing her daggers as she made her way over to him, the woman reached up and took his jaw in one hand, her head cocked to one side in an oddly bird-like manner as her icy blue eyes peered into his. After a few seconds, she released him and shook her head. "No. You are guilty of many things, little man, but none of them are worthy of the ultimate punishment. And through you, the world will now know that this island is now under my protection… and I have little tolerance for murderers." Spinning on her heel, she jerked one thumb back over her shoulder as she strode away. "You may have him, if you wish."
Who could have him? Brian opened his mouth to ask, only to close it with an audible click as a black-clad figure dropped out of the shadows that cloaked the warehouse's ceiling. Landing with a heavy thud, the figure scuttled forward on a quartet of bony white spider legs before rearing up and switching to her human legs. One of the Spider-Girls. Okay, that wasn't so bad, he decided. They didn't kill people. Embarrassed crooks, sure, but never killed. As the blond girl eyed him, she reached out with one hand and stopped the mysterious woman in her tracks. "Since he's evidently never seen a superhero movie or read a comic before and is falling down on the job…" Letting out a loud gasp, the girl brought her hands up to her chest as she stared at the dark-haired woman with wide eyes. "Who are you, mysterious heroine?"
The woman let out an oddly deep, croaking sort of laugh that reminded Brian of the ravens from which she'd appeared. "Over the years, I've been called many things by many people: Badb, Macha, Anann, Nemain, and Fea among others. Most these days know me as the Mórrígan." Reaching up with her free hand, she brushed her knuckles over the blonde's cheek. "Perhaps someday if you're lucky, I might let you call me Moira." And then she was gone, her body exploding into a flock of ravens that disappeared off into the night.
After standing frozen for a moment, the blonde shook herself and reached behind her back. Pulling out a pair of flexicuffs, she raised her other hand and tapped the corner of her mask. "Chelicera to Theraphosa: I found those cop killers you were gonna let me beat the shit out of. Or at least what's left of them. You are not going to believe what just happened…"
November 26, 2011
Weapon XS Facility - Sarah Kinney's Lab
"Kinney! God damn it, I know you're in here somewhere! Kinney!"
Sarah groaned at the bellow from somewhere behind her, rubbing her temples as she pushed back from her computer. Although it was tempting to remain hidden, her employer had a hell of a temper and she didn't need him destroying something valuable in his tantrum. Leaving her inner sanctum, she wandered out into the lab proper. "Colonel Stryker. You bellowed?"
Whirling, the man pointed a chubby finger at her. "What in the hell is your daughter doing?"
One brow rose at that. Sarah had a good idea what had caused a bug to crawl up the man's ass and die, but it was always a good idea to play stupid lest she end up confessing to something he had no clue about. "Considering only one of my girls is allowed to wander the base freely, I'll assume you're referring to Laura?" He gave a terse nod and she gestured up at the black dome mounted on the ceiling in the far corner of the room. "You have cameras in every nook and cranny of this base, Colonel." Literally; she'd heard two none-too-subtle soldiers discussing what she looked like naked one time. If not for the morally ambiguous nature of the project she was involved in, she probably would have begun investigating her legal options after that one. "I, on the other hand, have been in my office working all day. Chances are that you probably have a better idea of her activities than I do."
"Oh, I know exactly where your daughter is and what she's doing. All right, let's try a different question." Slapping a picture down on the lab table that separated them, Colonel William Stryker went from threatening to poke her eye out to jabbing at the photo. "Why do I have a stripper pole in my base's gym? And why is my multi-billion dollar prototype super-soldier using it?"
Sarah's lips quirked up in a smile, mostly because the situation was the man's own damn fault. "You're the one who was worried that spending all her time on-base might compromise her ability to blend in with her peers for missions and ordered her to undergo 'infiltration training' at local malls, weren't you?" Stryker nodded reluctantly and Sarah gestured to the picture of her daughter with both legs wrapped around a shiny metal pole, hanging upside-down as she ran her hands up her sides. "She evidently picked a rather interesting group of girls to spend time with and came home with something called 'strip aerobics'. Two of your soldiers helped her install the pole and she's been at it ever since. I'm surprised it took you this long to come to me. It's been what, three weeks now?"
Snarling, Stryker dumped a few more pictures on the table, all captured by the gym's security cameras and showing her daughter in a variety of sexual poses. "So sorry, Doctor, but some of us have jobs that require us to do more than sit around staring at a computer." He gestured to the photos. "And you don't see a problem with this supposed exercise program of hers? Twenty-Three's supposed to be training to be a weapon of mass destruction, not a weapon of mass distraction. I've had six soldiers injured from dropped free weights or spotters who were spotting her instead of their partner."
"Well, I wasn't too keen on the idea at first to be honest, but it seems to be doing wonders for her muscle tone and flexibility. And anything that improves her physical condition is good for the program, right? I'm tempted to ask her if I can borrow the beginner's DVD now that she's moved on to intermediate, actually." Picking up the photos, Sarah held them out to the colonel. "You can discipline her if you want, but it keeps her fit and out of trouble, so I'm not saying a word to her. Now, is there anything else or may I get back to work? Sir?"
Snatching the pictures out of her hand, Stryker crammed them back into one folder and then opened another, dumping its contents onto the desk. Sarah raised her eyebrow as she took in the variety of teenage girls clad in white leather. But before she could make some sort of snide comment about her boss's predilections, she noticed the two bony claws jutting out of one girl's fist and the blood drained from her face. What had Sheila's daughter gotten herself involved with? "A sister program of ours in California is reporting a rise in mutant activity in the area. I want you and your girls packed and ready to deploy by 1600 tomorrow. All of you; my men aren't babysitting Twenty-Four and Twenty-Five while you're gone." Reaching out, he tapped on Willow's photo. "Four of you are leaving. I'm expecting at least five filled seats on the return flight."
Sarah nodded absently as she stared down at the photo, ignoring Stryker as he stalked out of her lab and slammed the door shut behind him. When she'd first gotten involved with Weapon X, she'd… known full well that what they were doing was immoral, but it'd been easy. Theoretical work. She wasn't hurting anyone, she was just a woman in a lab with some petri dishes and DNA samples and a computer. Then had come the transition from Weapon X to Weapon XS, a new focus on creating mutant soldiers instead of controlling mutants to turn them into soldiers… and her children.
Her children. It had been a decade and a half since Laura had come into her life, created by fusing one of the few known DNA samples of James Howlett with one of her own eggs. Not only had she donated her genes to the cause, though, but she'd ended up carrying Laura to term inside herself to negate the risk that bringing in an outside surrogate would create. By the time she was screaming at the doctor that yes, she knew she had to push thank you very much, 'X-23' was more than a science project to her. She was a person. She was Sarah's daughter.
From that day forward, Sarah had fought viciously and torn control of her portion of Weapon XS from the hands of her superiors, arranging 'unfortunate accidents' for Doctors Sutter and Rice and clearing the way for her ascension to the position of project leader. And while she'd allowed herself to be implanted twice more with fertilized eggs, eventually bringing Belladonna and little Rose into her life, she'd done her best to slow their progress to a crawl. She knew she couldn't just leave, but that didn't mean she had to help make things any worse. Now, though? Her time was up. Because it was one thing to wallow in a mess of her own making, but there was no way she was going to drag Sheila's daughter into things.
Turning to head back to her office, Sarah debated what to do with her remaining hours that day. While obviously the project would take care of transportation - she could only imagine the problems they'd have trying to get Laura past TSA agents - that didn't mean they could just show up at the airfield at 1559 tomorrow and go. There was data to transfer to her laptop so she could 'work on the road', bags to pack, her younger two daughters would probably need additional 'normal' clothes for the mission, she should probably research the area they were being deployed to… the list was endless and she had only a little over a day to accomplish it all.
The door to the lab hissed open and Sarah sighed, preparing for a second round of Stryker's complaining as she turned back around. Instead of an aging and widening military man, though, she found herself staring at a buxom black-haired girl in a purple sports bra and shorts, holding a gallon jug of water in one hand. One adamantium claw was extended from her other hand to serve as a skewer, nearly hidden from view by alternating slices of apple and what appeared to be beef jerky. "Hey, Doctor Mom." Laura bit into one of the pieces of jerky, tearing it from her claw with a casual toss of her head, before extending her hand. "Hungry?"
"Hmm. An apple does sound good right now…" Leaning forward, Sarah opened her mouth and waited for Laura to maneuver her claw into position. Biting down on the topmost slice of apple, she tossed her head in a passable imitation of Laura and tore it free before using a finger to push it all the way into her mouth. While her daughters were decidedly strange, she did her best to accept them as they were… 'beautiful souls' and claw kebabs and all. As she chewed, she pulled a pen out of her pocket and began writing on the inside of Laura's left forearm. "We're going on a field trip. You need to do these things before you go to bed tonight."
Laura nodded and then looked around as Sarah continued to write, her eyes eventually landing on the lab table. "Is that Willow? In leather? When and where was this, and why wasn't I invited?"
Pausing, Sarah glanced up from what she was doing and raised an eyebrow. "And how do you know who Willow is?"
"Did I say Willow? I meant…" Trailing off, Laura groaned. "Why did Doctor Rosenberg have to give her such an unusual name? The only thing that sounds like Willow is 'pillow' and trying to claim I said 'is that pillow?' would just sound stupid…" Setting down her jug of water, Laura leaned over and grabbed the photo of Willow. "Wow she's skinny. I think the webcam adds at least ten pounds and she needs every one of them. She's gotta be what, a size two? Although… is there a rear view? Because with Willow, her backside is definitely her good side…"
"No. And it sounds like we need to have a long talk about acceptable usage of the Internet, young lady."
November 26, 2011
Chase Household - Cordelia's Room
She was watching Cordelia sleep.
So much for her general habit of being as un-creepy as humanly possible.
Michelle couldn't help it, though. With Cordelia snuggled up against her side, her head resting on the redhead's shoulder and one arm wrapped around Michelle's waist, she was effectively trapped. She couldn't get back to sleep for some reason, she'd already checked her email twice and Facebook once using her phone… lying there thinking was one of the few activities left to her. And her thoughts kept coming back to what Victor had said about her and Cordelia.
First things first, Michelle had to figure out whether or not the man was even telling the truth about being able to smell… something… when she and Cordelia looked at each other. Maybe she could ask Willow and get a second opinion? Or would that be awkward, considering Willow either did or had liked her that way? Although… fine, let's assume he was being truthful for the sake of forward momentum with her thought pattern. What did that actually mean for the two of them going forward? Because while Michelle would freely admit that she found Cordelia hot as hell - and so yes she did look, and even get a bit turned on by the cheerleader - there was no way Cordelia felt the same way about her.
As best she knew, Cordelia had never shown an interest in girls before. Or girl singular. Any girl. While the pickings had - at least until recently - been slim among the out members of the fairer sex at Sunnydale High School, the fact that she was Cordelia freaking Chase meant she probably could have had her pick of the straight girls too if was her wont. Given that she had not in fact dated any girls thus far? Michelle thought it was safe to assume that Cordelia didn't want to. But if that was true, why would Victor bother saying anything? While her exposure to him had been fairly limited, he hadn't seemed like the psychological warfare type. His idea of playing mind games was probably more along the lines of bowling with a severed head.
It kept coming back to that, didn't it? Did she want to trust a perverted lunatic's teasing comments over several years of her own observations?
Wait. Was it just Victor? Or… Santana claimed there were not one, but two girls who were interested in taking her off the market. What if Cordelia was one of them? Maybe the girl who wouldn't admit it to herself? Considering what had happened with Gwen last Sunday night-slash-Monday morning, Michelle couldn't exactly dismiss the possibility. She hadn't known her own friend was getting traded to her team. If there were any signs that Cordelia was leaning the same way, would she pick up on them any better than she had with Gwen?
"Ugh, stop thinking so much. It's making my pillow all tense and lumpy." Opening her eyes, Cordelia blinked a few times and let out something that was half yawn and half whine before snuggling back in against the side of Michelle's body. "What time is it?"
Patting around on the mattress until she found where she'd left her phone, Michelle poked the power button and waited for the lock screen to appear. "It is… time for you to get off of me so I can get up and go find something to eat." Cordelia let out a snort and then pinched Michelle's hip, making the redhead squirm. "Ack! All right, it's ten of noon. Happy now?"
Cordelia nodded and then rolled onto her back, squirming downward a few inches so that her head rested on the mattress rather than her friend's arm. "While you're at it, can you make yourself useful and bring me back some too? And find out where the others are? And check my iPad to see if there's anything I need to care about? And-"
Tuning out her friend's rambling, Michelle pushed herself up into a sitting position and let her eyes wander the room as her mind raced. Instead of wondering and pondering and letting her mind run in circles with no end in sight, why not just… ask? That would be a really quick way to end the uncertainty, wouldn't it? She had Cordelia alone for the moment, after waking up with the cheerleader curled around her for the third time in a week. If there was a better time to broach the subject, Michelle couldn't think of one. Because while she wasn't sure what she'd do with the knowledge she'd obtain, she wanted… no, needed to know how Cordelia saw her. "Cordelia?" Trailing off, the green-haired girl scowled at the interruption before rolling her eyes and gesturing for Michelle to proceed. "Do you like me?"
"After everything I've done for you in the last month, did you seriously just ask me that?" Cordelia scoffed before reaching up to swat Michelle's shoulder. "What do you think?"
Michelle sighed. While Cordelia was generally brighter than most gave her credit for being… "Not like that. I know that we're friends. I mean… do you like-like me?" The redhead let out a second, louder sigh at the blank stare she received. "For the love of… are you attracted to me? Would you date me? Does the idea of me dating someone else bother you? Et cetera and so forth and-"
"No, I got that part. I was just… what are you, twelve? Because I think that's the last time I actually said 'like-like'." Despite her words bearing her usual mix of snark and teasing, Cordelia looked the least sure of herself that Michelle could ever remember her being. There was a long pause, so long that Michelle was tempted to just tell her friend to forget she'd asked… and then Cordelia finally spoke. "And… I guess it depends. Are we talking Xander-you, Ministique-you, or Michelle-you?"
"There's a difference?"
"What, did you think all our arguing back when you were Xander was leading up to me like… dragging you into a janitor's closet to make out or something? Uh, no!" Raising her arms above her head, Cordelia thoroughly distracted Michelle with a long and languid stretch before propping herself up on her elbows. "Becoming a girl changed that, though. You're still mostly you, but… turned from an eleven down to a six or a seven. I don't know how to put it any better than that. You've somehow managed to take the things that used to annoy me - and a lot of other people - the most and turn them into positives."
Considering she seemed to get along with pretty much everyone better than she had as a guy, Michelle couldn't really argue with that. Well, she could but then she'd need to come up with an alternative explanation and she didn't really have one. So, her personality was more attractive to Cordelia's than Xander's was. That would explain why the cheerleader felt differently about two of the three people she'd mentioned. But… "Why are you counting Michelle and 'Ministique' as two people? And I really need to think of a good post-human name for myself, because I'm not using that."
Cordelia pouted for a few seconds - expected, given the moniker was her idea - before sobering. "Yeah, I need to think of something soon too. Otherwise, Victor's 'Magnette' might actually stick and… no." She shuddered at the thought, blew a strand of hair out of her face, and then finally returned to the conversation at hand. "Michelle is pretty much like, Willow Plus? You've made some changes that are definitely for the better, but it's still mostly Willow. I don't find her attractive, ergo, Michelle's not my thing either. But Mini… I mean, blue you? I honestly don't know how I feel about her. It's not the same thing I feel when I look at cute guys, but it's not what I feel when I look at literally any other girl, either." Pausing, Cordelia offered a helpless shrug. "I… think you're pretty when you're blue. Maybe I like that you. I don't know."
Huh. Well. That was… decidedly unexpected. Michelle had expected to be blown off, laughed at, maybe insulted… any one of a dozen different scenarios. 'You're pretty when you're blue'? Definitely not one of them. "I'm not entirely sure how to take that, to be honest."
"Yeah, well, whatever." Her current position leaving her unable to cross her arms over her chest defensively, Cordelia settled for scowling petulantly at Michelle. "Is there an actual point to all this? Other than embarrassing me and making sure our next sleepover is as awkward as humanly possible?"
Well, she had the answer she'd been looking for. Mission accomplished. Now what? Twisting herself around and pulling her legs up underneath her body so she was kneeling beside Cordelia bought Michelle a few seconds… and then she decided to reward Cordelia's near-unprecedented bout of honesty by reciprocating. "Long story short? Two different people told me there was a chance you liked me, but one of them mentioned someone else liked me too. So I guess I wanted to know where I stood with you first. I've kinda been friend zoning you in my head because I figured it'd never happen, but if there was a chance… you're you. You're my friend, my best friend even. You've done everything but literally bend over backward to help me since Halloween. And, well, you're Cordelia Chase. Queen Bee. Hottest girl at Sunnydale High. Put all that together, and I'd have to be insane to not put you at the top of my list."
Cordelia blushed a little bit darker with each sentence, reaching a shade close to Willow's natural hair color by the time Michelle stopped speaking. "Good to hear someone still likes me. Harmony was mocking me the other day because I haven't had a date since Halloween. Thing is, it's not because I'm turning them down. Nobody's asked. I was starting to wonder if I still had it. Now I know. And… so do you. Know. How I feel. What are you going to do about it?"
"I… don't know." Michelle grimaced as Cordelia's face abruptly went blank before rallying. Because if anyone here had the right to be upset? It was definitely her. "What do you want from me, Cordy? What am I supposed to do with a girl telling me that she only thinks I'm pretty with the face I can't wear in public? Am I supposed to completely out myself, pray to God that nobody freaks that they're going to class with a scaly blue girl with demonic eyes, and we'll hook up and become the school's new power couple? Maybe we'll even get ourselves a 'ship name' like Britt and Tana have? Or were you thinking you'd just tell people that you were dating someone who didn't go to our school, and I'd be your secret blueberry shame by night?"
"Yes! No! I don't know! I don't even know if I want to date you yet, so why is this even an issue?!" Flopping back onto the bed, Cordelia huffed noisily as she stared up at the ceiling. After a few seconds, she popped back up and narrowed her eyes at Michelle. "Wait a second. Wait just one fucking second. Why the hell are you yelling at me? Doesn't this make me like, the deepest person ever? I'm looking past the outer shell to who you are on the inside and telling you that I think I like that." What? "Your shifts… they're like clothing to you. You can take them off and put them on whenever you want. You're no more Willow-Michelle than you are black-haired Harmony or ginger Gwen or Michelle Frost or Phoebe Frost or me or any other face you borrow. The real you is a blue girl with yellow eyes and red hair and scales, and I think she's pretty. How does that make me a horrible person? I mean, you're the one who's saying 'Sorry, Cordy, but I'd rather keep wearing this dress than date you'."
…so now either she was the horrible person or they were both semi-terrible people. Michelle wasn't sure she liked either of those options to be honest. Mostly because even if she was willing to agree that her different forms were akin to clothing, she was pretty sure that being told 'I'll date you but only if you completely change how you dress' was the sort of thing that would earn a guy - or an equally insensitive lesbian in her case - a nice hard slap. And therefore no, Cordelia was not in fact being deep, she was being a bitch of epic proportions. Not that she would say as much, though. Or anything else for that matter. At least not right now. "Listen, this has gone from compliments all around to anger really quickly. So while I like you and you might like me… maybe dating wouldn't be the best idea even if we could figure out a way to make it work. So let's step back, keep being friends for now, and see where it takes us."
Cordelia eyed Michelle for a moment before sneering and turning away. "Please, like I don't know exactly what you're doing. You just want to buy some time so you can figure out who your other girl is, and whether or not she'll kiss your stolen lips. Whatever. Fine." Sliding her way over to the edge of the bed, the cheerleader rose to her feet and took two steps before pausing and turning back around. "Turn into Michelle. Willow-Michelle. Whatever you want to call her."
A little voice in Michelle's head was screaming that this was a bigger trap than Endor's forest moon, but she chose to obey anyway like the minion she was far too good at being. "…kay?"
And then Cordelia tackled her, the magnokine's lips pressing hard against Michelle's as the redhead was forced down onto her back on the bed.