As they waited for the X-Jet to return, Peter took Jean to one side.
“Are you okay?” She tilted her head. “Seriously, not joking here. I can’t let a volatile Symbiote host run riot on the public.”
As she stepped back, her clothing morphed. Her costume changed from the red and gold bodysuit into a normal red tracksuit with a white t-shirt.
“I’m fine Peter. Helios is calmer than we thought. I think, I think Apocalypse, whatever he did, drained my powers enough she isn’t going to rampage.”
He sighed and collapsed back onto the ground. “Thank god for that.” He really didn’t want to have to fight, not with just the Mind Stone.
Jean would probably have taken a few seconds to turn him into paste. Even without a Symbiote. It did mean that she was their test bed. Jean was an Augment, the first one to be bonded with an Extremis-born Symbiote. If it was affecting her, or her powers, they would need to know.
“But, uh, I thought they got memories and stuff. I mean, Helios is just, you know, Helios.” As she sat next to him, Peter lay back on the ground.
“Yeah, I figured that maybe transferring all my desires and thoughts to a new host might not be a great thing. So I worked on making a Symbiote a blank, just a baby. Knowledge is fine, but no memories or emotions.” He had been chastised after fixing Webb and had been working on the problem ever since.
“So uh, I don’t feel this way because of the Symbiote?” Peter supported himself on one arm and looked at her confused. Realising who she was talking to, she turned her head. “I don’t really want to talk about it,” but Peter knew what she meant.
“I guess, maybe that’s just you. I mean, you did say the professor lobotomised you. Maybe the real Jean is excited and a whole bunch of other things she doesn’t want to talk about, or at least not with me.” Peter lifted himself back up as more of his powers returned. "Oh thank you powers." The jumpsuit vanished under a set of regular clothing. Peter stood and stretched, he could feel the link with the Mind Stone returning. As he looked at Jean, he could feel the desire, lust and sadly, anger rolling from her. “Maybe talk to Scott about it. I don’t do the cheating bit, Jean. Not now, not ever.”
She sighed and nodded.
She really didn’t want to talk to Scott though. She didn’t even want to talk to Peter. She wanted to push him down and straddle him and have him do to her everything she had seen him do to Gwen. Right now, she didn’t care about Scott.
He was part of the professor's plans to keep her contained, and controlled, and she resented him. He was water to her fire. Slow and studious, always wanting to do the right thing. He never took any chances, he never took any risks and she was tired of it. She wanted Peter. She wanted that raw animal to pound her until she screamed his name. Then the stupid ass had developed a moral compass, and a part of her resented him for it.
We know. We feel apart from him. We wish he had made us whole, this ache is painful. Helios whispered.
Peter had done what he thought was right but didn't understand the consequences. Taking the memories of their parent Symbiote strengthened their bond. Removing them left a struggling newborn. One unable to understand the thoughts and feelings of their host. It was only Jean's natural powers that soothed Helios and allowed her to remain calm. Once this was over, she would take him to one side and fuck him. She shook her head. Talk to him. She would talk, She took in a breath and closed her eyes. He was maddening, to be so close, to smell so good and to reject her, her!
We know, and we will help. Jean felt a warmth as Helios calmed her, both unaware of the dark flame flickering within Jean's mind.
As he lay back on the grass, and his powers returned, Peter began to feel better. It wasn’t just Jean but Apocalypse that had been leeching his powers and even with the Stone, he was vulnerable. His idea of a harness was even more necessary as each encounter seemed to poke holes in his powerset. Having them forcibly taken away by an ally hadn’t even registered. He had no idea it was something an Augmented could do until he met Selene, and now apparently Jean, and Rogue.
The flight back had been quiet. Logan eventually woke up and the second jet the professor sent touched down with Ororo at the helm. As the last of the explosions rocked the dam, and water gushed into its interior, they lifted off silently.
Cain was dropped off at Genosha, and the rest headed back to New York. Selene would be given her briefing later. Her concern was that Cain was alright, not about the club. Her task had been to scourge the Essex foundation of its corruption. A task she had found could take years.
The jet landed on the basketball court, which split open into a hanger. As the group headed down the jet's steps they were met by Charles.
“This was supposed to be a small operation, Peter. What the hell happened?” Charles asked bluntly, the anger was rolling from him like a storm,
“Shaw’s operation was much worse,” and he shook his head, “I,” and he took a breath, “I can’t Charles, I need time to process.”
"My Office then."
There, after Ororo took Logan to the infirmary Peter stood with Charles. “Just this once,” and he sought a connection to Charles.
“Well, I’m glad everything went smoothly, now excuse me.” Charles wheeled himself over to his desk and took out a quarter bottle of scotch. He poured half into his teacup and offered the bottle to Peter who raised an eyebrow at the man offering him a drink. “I don’t care.” Peter took it and gratefully took a swig, Charles taking a long drink of his own.
“No wonder,” was all he could say as he looked at the amber liquid in his cup, and he let out a breath.
Hank knocked at the door, “It might be a bad time but, they are awake. And he raised an eyebrow at the bottle in Peter's hands. “And there is never a good time for that,” he said, holding out a hand and motioning for the bottle.
Peter laughed sharply and shook his head. “It was bad,” but he still handed over the bottle, “and this one is bigger than most.”
"I do not care how bad it was. Self-medicating with alcohol is never a good idea. We have counselling services." Hank said as he closed and pocketed the bottle. "We also have a medical facility where your presence has been requested."
Peter shrugged. He was of the opinion their counsellors would need counselling after that session. Hank just sighed disapprovingly and led them down into the mansion's secret area.
Finding Gwen and Liv standing over Carol, and two unknown men, Peter hugged them both, “How is she?”
Liv sighed and looked at Gwen. “Coma. She had complete removal of most of her bioelectrical energy and synaptical charge.” Liv raised an eyebrow and looked over at the young woman. Anne Marie was sitting with a cuff and several cannulas sticking in her, as tissue and blood were drawn. “Her ability is to connect and siphon off that power. A powered person loses their abilities as well as vitality. We only have her word but apparently, she gains their memories and skills as well.”
“Anne Marie will be staying with us for the moment until she can get a grip on her powers.” Charles stated as he wheeled himself into the medical bay, “And before you start, she is not Rogue. Emma told me she stripped her of Shaw’s conditioning and left her stable.”
But Peter shrugged. “Liv tried to blow up New York, and well,” as he motioned to her, she tutted and went back to her work. “Still huffy though,” he moved over and kissed her on the cheek. “Love you.”
She shook her head but still grinned, while Gwen tutted. As he kissed her cheek too, she quietly whispered, “suck up,” and he snorted a quiet laugh.
“Carol is fine, and we think that allowing Ravage to rebond with her will actually speed up her healing. Her powers have been affected but until she wakes up we won’t know to what extent. The other two were not as badly drained and with some rest and food be up and about in a day or so.”
Peter looked over and the smaller man, Gambit, just looked like he was sleeping. Colossus was definitely looking a lot older and his hair was grey at the temples. “And what do we do with them?”
Charles cleared his throat. “You do nothing. We will take them in, or Selene will take care of them until we are sure that Shaw’s conditioning is truly gone. After that then if they wish to leave then they can. Now is the time to heal Peter, not to fight.”
Peter shook his head. “Sorry, Professor. There is actually one last fight we need to have.”
As she slid off the examination table, Emma nodded, “Bar Sinister”
Peter sighed and nodded. “We left a mess there, and there is still Psylocke and Nightcrawler to find and deal with.”
“Are your powers back?” Emma asked. She was not about to hunt in Shaw's little den of perversion with a normal.
Peter nodded and flexed a fist. His armour slid over him and the blade that he produced glowed red hot. "All back."
“Whatever Jean did was no worse than anything I’ve done before, so I can go with you.”
Emma nodded. “Now that Shaw has gone, the rest should be easy, but we still have Nightcrawler and Psylocke to find and deal with.”
Peter let his armour slide back and looked at Gwen and Liv.
"We'll be staying to monitor Carol. Laura told us their fight was short but bloody. Unless Nightcrawler has healing he's still injured."
Peter nodded. “We should get Felicia. If the businesses are going to be a joint effort, then she needs to make an appearance.”
Emma paused, “That’s actually a good idea, do you have her number? We can collect her after we swing by my place.” Peter frowned. “Azazel dropped me in the middle of that fucking lake. My phone is ruined along with a completely good outfit,” she explained. Peter looked away to hide the small grin he had. “Yes yes, laugh it up, darling. Once this is all over, you will be getting the bill.”
Charles coughed politely. “Can you please have this discussion somewhere else, this is a medical ward.”
Peter smiled and shrugged, and he and Emma left to find out where Felicia was.
“So,” Emma asked with a small smile on her face, “How exactly do you want to replay me for all my help?”
Peter laughed, “Isn’t that what I should be asking you?” But he saw the small mischievous smile on her face.
“Oh I already know what I want darling, and the Black Cats are only a small part of that.” As she walked away she gave him a small wink. “Your job is to figure that out, and to make me happy.”
Peter noticed a particular swing to her hips as she walked away. As he shook his head and followed her, he sent a text to Felicia to meet them at Bar Sinister.
The normally busy bar, even during the day when it served nouveau chic lunches, was closed. Emma frowned and looked at Peter who could only shrug, even if he was familiar with the place he had no idea either.
Felicia was only ten minutes away when they sent her the message and soon she ducked out of an alley. “So, just us three?”
Peter gave her a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Not a mission, we’re here to clean up. Even if Psylocke and Nightcrawler are here, it’s not a fight we’re after.”
"We still need to be careful darling. Psylocke might have the ability to reset the collar, but I doubt Nightcrawler does."
Taking a set of keys out of her bag, and punching in the code they entered the eerily quiet bar. Whatever had happened had happened quickly. Half-filled glasses littered tables and doors were left open. Lights were off and as Emma flicked them on she could see the extent of the damage that had been left.
Peter nodded at Felicia and they both slipped into their armour. Huntress stood next to Emma as she surveyed the mess before them.
Filled with tables during the day, a dozen bodies now lined the dance floor. Each had been bound, knelt and then had their throat cut. Moving over Emma tilted her head, “Senator.” As she moved down the line, each of the bodies was a rich, very powerful man. Someone had lined them up and executed them all.
“If this is Shaw’s doing then you’re in shit Emma,” Huntress sighed. “There’s no way we can dispose of any of this, even being here puts a huge target on our backs.”
Emma paused. “No, we need to check the rest of the bar and then call the police. You’re quite right, but why go to all this trouble if trouble isn’t your goal.”
“You know I can’t be found here,” Venom stated. “Any kind of trouble and a whole bunch of things about Venom come out. My Mom is understanding right now, but being hounded.”
Emma put up a hand, interrupting him. “Don’t worry. I’m the co-owner, and with Shaw missing, I can deal with it.”
He nodded and they moved into the VIP section.
Normally the rooms would be sealed but the doors had been destroyed in each room. The same scene on the dance floor was repeated here. An occupant, hands bound and throat slit, but these rooms were different. Drugs, money and other personal items were all here. It was as if the assailant had simply bound them, killed them, and then moved on.
“Some really hated this place,” Huntress said and then came the executive suites. These were normally behind electronic locks and security guards. But the guards were gone, and the locks had been ripped out of the walls.
It was in the last room Emma’s eyes went wide with shock.
Four girls, all with needle marks and bruises, were laid out neatly. They were covered in a white sheet and if you didn’t notice the lack of breathing, it appeared they were sleeping.
Venom looked over and saw the look on Emma’s face, “Emma, deal later, we need to find the killer.” Hearing movement the trio adopted fighting stances.
“You don’t need to.” Psylocke walked out from the shadows, carrying a bloody sword. Her face was covered in streaked mascara and smeared lipstick. “Miss Frost, or mom, mistress,” Psylocke laughed, but it held an edge of hysteria. She wasn't joking and looked to be barely hanging on. “Whatever you want me to call you, it doesn’t matter.” She sniffed and wiped her eyes with a soggy sleeve. “I tried to save them. “ She swung a hand. A head, with blue fur covering it, thudded on the floor in front of them. “He went mad when Azazel died, some kind of conditioning I bet.” She collapsed and burst into tears, “I tried, I tried,” and sobbing she wrapped her arms around herself.
Peter nodded, and carefully moved forwards. “Hey, can I?” and she nodded,
The world spun and he saw.
Find them and fucking kill them, Shaw shouted at the pair. They bowed and as Nightcrawler touched her shoulder they vanished,
Fader is becoming more erratic, to let one escape is not good.
She shook her head. Doesn’t matter, we get her back and he’ll reward us, brother.
He smiled at her and they vanished once more.
Peter saw the fight at Shield Academy. The pair tried their best to contain Laura and Wanda but failed miserably.
In a room, she was strung up, Shaw had stripped her and hung her from a chain attached to the ceiling. As he whipped her, he yelled at her. Fucking useless cunt, I should make you replace her. Tears fell from closed eyes as the punishment continued. Shaw took great delight in breaking her flesh.
If they betray us, find that bitch they team up with and kill her. He commanded, his voice full of disappointment for the pair, and once more they vanished.
Do not disappoint him again mine kinder, Azazel said and as he ran a hand over the pair, he grabbed them by the necks. Or you vill suffer more zan a vipping.
As he vanished she looked at her brother and he nodded. Fader is most angry, we should not fail ziz time.
They had waited, watching Felicia and her partner, Elektra. As they left their posts at the allotted time they returned to Bar Sinister to find it empty.
Nightcrawler pointed at the empty control cuff box and he smiled. Fader must have been successful. But as he suddenly grabbed his head she saw the bright yellow energy coat his head and huffing he fell to his knees. She felt a presence in her head, but her powers cut it off. All she had heard was 'obey', and that was enough to know it wasn't friendly.
Brother? But as he looked at her, his eyes glowing yellow, she knew her brother was gone.
He vanished and the blade struck her from behind before he vanished again. As the blade pierced her lung, she tracked him with her powers. As he teleported once more she struck out in a sphere with thin telekinetic blades. He stared at her in shock before crumpling. As she held her side she pushed the skin back together with her powers. She cried out as she knitted the flesh back together. Huffing in anger she lashed out, taking his head from his shoulders.
As she sat in his chair, holding back the pain and the anger she wanted to know, and turning on his computer, began to read.
It had been a slaughter. Human against someone with powers was never going to be anything less. It was only when she found the girls she snapped. Devoid of life and bleeding from parts too young to be exposed to such perversion, that she killed them all.
Peter rubbed a hand over her shoulder and shook his head. “Emma?” but as he looked over she was sitting on her knees gently stroking the face of one of the girls.
“They're me, aren't they?” He could only nod. “Take her and leave, I’ll blame it on one of the vigilantes. Nobody will care, not when it's little girls, not if I tell them they were my sisters,”
When he was gone, she broke down and wept.