Chapter 9
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Chapter 9

(Nathaniel Essex)

Somewhere in Africa…
October 26th 1996
01:25 PM

“What do you mean, Gambit is dead?!” The wine glass in Sinister’s right hand cracked, ruby red liquid seeping through the cracks.

The man displayed on the holo-screen was of North American Indian descent with long, black hair and grey eyes. He had a good build, being tall and muscular, and wore a long vest with a lot of different metallic plates. He looked haunted as though he had seen the devil himself. He clutched his modern sniper rifle tightly, looking around frantically as if he was expecting something to occur. 

When his gaze settled on Sinister, he began to speak. “Gambit entered into contact with the target. The emotional and telepathic overlay that you provided him wasn’t powerful enough to keep her from reading his thoughts. Fortunately, it was efficient enough to not let us be detected from afar, or we might not be reporting to you sir.”

Sinister leaned before the holographic window, his face taking on a thoughtful expression. He couldn’t care less about Gambit’s demise; he was a pawn, a replaceable asset that he could clone at his leisure thanks to the DNA he took from him a year ago when he had come to him after fleeing New Orleans.

The pale faced man rose from his seat and spoke, his black skin tight armor exposing  the form of a muscular body. “I see, what did you uncover from her meeting with Magneto?”

“Well, we heard from the plastic drones and it’s records that the target pretends to have read Charles Xavier’s mind. She defeated one of Magneto’s goons by using pyrokinesis and boy did she humiliate him… what is weird is that the old bucket head didn’t forcefully induct her into his little club. But now I understand why he didn’t; it all happened when she left, she killed Gambit from afar, he turned into dust when she disappeared with the sexy blue babe.”

Sinister struggled to believe what he was hearing, his mouth agape, pointy canine visible. *Grey is powerful enough to break or bypass Xavier’s mental shield, proficient enough in her telekinesis to create and manipulate fire.*

The unexpected surprise quickly morphed into interest. He understood that Jean Grey had more potential than he believed. If she was this versatile at her young age, what would she be capable of as time wore on? He wanted her under his sway; she could be useful for things other than breeding her with subject Summers!

The mad geneticist turned to his operative, an eager expression plastered on his face. “This changes... everything Mister Greycrow.”

Sinister felt jubilant; maybe he would get his cake and eat it too. All he needed was to imprison the girl and brainwash her so she would become his perfect minion. *No, I am thinking too little; a team or an army of powerful psionics? I would surely be able to take out my Master, En Sabah Nur.*

John Greycrow spoke, snapping the crazed  scientist out of his daydreaming. “How so, sir?”

Sinister calmed down, sitting back on his silver throne and said, “We have underestimated the girl, she’s too powerful for the kind of assault that Mistress Malice tried with her. Only surprise and guile will work, I suppose.”

*Yes, an ambush should be possible. With the power available amongst the Marauders it should be able to momentarily strip Grey’s power from her, she should be easy picking. What was his name again? Scrambler? He is this mutant able to disrupt the functioning of powered individuals. Yes, and he needs some back up, people able to resist crushing and cutting forces. A teleporter will be the key to this operation.* Sinister typed rapidly, writing down his instructions and sending them to  John Greycrow.

Ting. The American Indian took his tablet, skimmed over the instructions then nodded. The fear that took root in him slowly began to dissipate, being replaced by something akin to relief, completely visible in his body language.

Crossing his legs and raising his chin, Sinister smiled smugly at his operative. “I will send you upgraded psionic overlay devices and I want you to observe the girl and seize the moment to enact her capture.”

“This will be difficult with all those SHIELD agents shadowing her.” Greycrow’s own smile peaked through, the prospect of a challenge seeming to please him. 

Sinister waved his hands, dismissing the idea that SHIELD would be able to pose as a barrier. “Something tells me that she will chafe under their scrutiny and knowing Nick Fury, he will alienate her.” Sinister’s chuckle was... sinister.  “I know the man, wait for an opportunity. Bring her to me, Mister Greycrow, and you will be rewarded immensely.” 

“Understood, sir. Scalphunter out.” The holographic window disappeared.

Upon touching the cracked wine glass, it slowly returned to its original shape, the glass pristine as ever. Red wine floated out of the green bottle and poured into his crystal wine glass. The scientist sipped some of the ruby red liquid and said under his breath, “Soon, you’ll be in my hands, girl.”

Sinister laughed.

 

# # #

(Nick Fury)

 

Central Park
Sheep Meadow
Carousel attraction
03:15 PM

Nick had been right. Jean Grey was a spook just like him. How foolish they had been to open SHIELD’s doors to her. Peggy and Phil were fooled by the girl but now, all of this would stop! He had enough suspicions to bring her in and try proving that she had been Magneto’s puppet this entire time. After all, it wasn’t possibly a coincidence that Magneto, a wanted radicalized terrorist, and members of his little club were here and that today, of all days, was the day she chose to go to the park despite Coulson’s protests and advice. 

When it came to light that she had left her purse in the car that belonged to the young woman who drove her to the park, the hunt for Jean Grey was on. The bug remained still on the screen of the Intel van shadowing her. The girl disappeared for one hour before suddenly reappearing in the parking lot. Agents were dispatched to try to bring her in but she disappeared again.

When they found her, she was in  the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and his men followed her from afar, watching her as she admired everything she saw. They followed her out as she continued the trend to disappear and reappear in different locations, playing hide and seek until they pinned her location to the carousel attraction in Sheep Meadow where weapons fire was briefly exchanged.

All available units swiftly converged on the location and the target was surrounded, of course not alone. Nick exited the vehicle, power inhibitor collar in hand and arrived before Jean and the older man. “Well, well. Red you have been naughty.”

Then he noticed the woman and children near the attraction, the downed men in different states- living, wounded or some having died. Fury waved at the nearest agent. “Call the EMTs, at least five vehicles.”

The man standing to his right nodded, walking out towards the vehicle. Fury took steps towards the scene  with the armed mooks strewn as if a bomb had gone off. He examined his surroundings, cursing, “Motherfucker, what happened here?”

The older black haired man at Jean’s side glanced at her before shifting his gaze to Nick. It was evident that something was being said from their expressive eyes. 

Jean opened her mouth, speaking. “Before I answer that, Nick, tell me what you are going to do with that.”  She lowered her arms, pointing a finger at the collar. “And can my new friends, Frank and his family leave? They didn’t do anything, they were just caught in the crossfire between those people. Maria needs to go to the hospital.”

Fury snorted loudly. “As if. I am bringing you all in.” His words brokered no room for argument.

The agent in charge threw the inhibitor collar to another agent who caught it and then walked up to Jean. Some already seized Frank and his family.

Uncertain, the man looked at Fury who waved him to go through with it. He pushed on, until he faced the redhead who stepped back, a warning ringing loudly through her words, “You are not putting that on me.”

Every agent surrounding Jean raised their weapons, and cocked them, ready to subdue her. Fury was sure that he could get away with it; they were all armed with custom weapons able to fire tranquilizer faster than Jean could blink, and the needles were made of adamantium, a metal able to bypass her psionic barrier.

“I am not leaving you a choice Red, you were seen cavorting with a known terrorist.” Fury’s tone was laced with menace.  

Jean’s eyes widened, but didn’t rush to deny his words, a clear sign of her guilt. “I can explain-”

Smiling with triumph, Fury snapped his fingers. “Bring her in.”

Four agents converged toward her and were about to put their hands on her. Jean’s posture slackened for a second before she stood tall, eyes blazing red, her voice gaining a melodic echo, “I told you, you are not putting that thing around my neck.”

Everything went pear shaped in an instant, and the weapons trained on Jean and the family turned to dust, but she didn’t stop there. Every armor wearing agent found themselves in their undies. The redhead began to hover, a red aura surrounding her and flames of a golden  orange color filled Jean’s eyes. She was the epitome of intimidating. The collar held by the agent = short-circuited and he dropped it.

Jean floated toward Fury, raised a hand, wringing his beck and lifting him off the ground. She made him stare at her face-to-face. “Do I make myself clear?

Fury tried to struggle, and clawed at her hand, unable to speak or nod. There was defiance in the face of such a powerful force, all for naught.. She scrunched her nose in disgust and dropped him with a thud. Fury landed on his ass while Jean landed on her feet. She turned to one of the agents she missed with her disintegrating area of effect, and clipped out,“Call Director Carter, now.”

After such a display, no one refused her. Fury glanced at her, massaging his throat.  *She’s been sandbagging us all the while.*

“Yes, I have.” He heard the mutant girl answer the thought running through his head. 

His gaze found hers, and she stared him down until he lowered it. Chuckling, she turned to go to the family who seemed to have developed a healthy fear for her. Just as he saw her do with Peggy and Phil she extinguished their fear by reassuring the family of her good nature and that she didn’t mean them any harm. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the tension coiled in their bodies disappearing. The parents began to laugh as the children enveloped Jean in a hug. 

Seeing her in action, Fury was sure of one thing: Jean Grey was dangerous. He was overcome with an urge to protect his men, his friends; he needed a way to protect himself from telepathic and empathic influence. As she patted the kids’ head, her eyes met and held Fury’s, a frustrated expression flitted across her face, at least she wasn’t able to change his nature.

Half an hour later, another contingent of SHIELD troopers arrived. Phil Coulson arrived with them, taking charge of the situation. They bagged the bodies and Coulson directly asked Jean to erase the memories of the Irish and Mexican gangers, then arranged for the family that Jean was protecting to get into protective custody.

Phil rushed at Fury, an air of disappointment surrounding him as though he was being torn between his duty and his friendships. Which was exactly the case.

“Coulson.” Fury greeted his colleague.

Phil removed his shades, looking his friend in the eye. “Nick.”

Their body language was telling a lot to each other. In Phil’s stance, Fury could see that his friend was torn, his expression showcasing the uncomfortable position he was thrown in. The super spy decided to try to convince him. “You know she’s hiding shit from us. I found her cozying with Lhensherr’s brood. We should bring her in.”

The agents who were at their side and still reeling from Jean’s attack all looked at him as if he was crazy. Sighing, Phil approached his friend, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Nick. How many lives did you risk today and still want to put in danger? You know… you could have asked her why, and she would have told you.”

Fury batted away Phil’s hand, walked closer to him, eyes glowering. His menacing tone resurfaced. “Don’t take this tone with me, Coulson.”

Phil chuckled ruefully. “Someone clearly needs to. You know Jean has been a boon to us.”

Even Fury couldn’t deny that Jean Grey had been an excellent asset; resolving certain problems on US soil had become easier because of her abilities to pry away dirty secrets, bases location, plans that some nascent organizations like AIM or some group of CEOs who didn’t have the good of the citizens in mind. Justin Hammer of HAMMER industries was one of the last to have been put behind bars for selling out DOD secrets along with his shody weapons to cartels in South America or to warlords in Africa, who had recently become a pain in SHIELD’s ass. 

However, Fury’s actions may cause them to lose the services of Jean Grey and her telepathic gift.

Phil continued, “She must have her reasons to meet with the Brotherhood; the girl doesn’t feel safe even with us, even with all her power she says we cannot win. She might not look like it, but the attack two days ago rattled her; in her place, with all those parameters, would you have put all your hope into one organization?”

Fury shook his head, straightened his jacket and focused on Phil. “You speak as if she was already an agent or someone rational, she’s not in the business. We shouldn’t treat her as if she was.”

Phil turned to stare at Jean who was helping up the mother of the family she had saved into the EMT’s truck. He smiled, and Jean returned his gaze, waving at him to come to her. “She clearly acts like an agent, but you are right too. Jean Grey needs to be called on her actions, Director Carter has called a meeting at the Grey’s.”

The blackman jumped up in surprise and cringed. “How bad is this going to be?”

Phil put on his sunglasses, his smile thin. “Nick, I will be frank, Peggy is pissed at you.”

Fury facepalmed and groaned. “Motherfucker!”

 

# # #

(Margaret Elizabeth “Peggy” Carter)

Grey Penthouse
04:35 PM

The golden and pale liquid flowed from the glass jug into the glass placed on the low table. Elaine Grey then added some ice cubes and Peggy thanked the younger woman. Worry lines marred Elaine Grey’s face as she sat on the sofa, facing Peggy’s. Peggy could understand her worry; if her own daughter had been getting into this much trouble she would be as worried; then again Sharon, her niece, who she had helped enlist in SHIELD was the same kind of troublemaker as the redheaded hellion of the Grey family.

Elaine wore a white button dress with sandals, wearing no makeup, but she was a stunning woman, even in her late thirties. To Peggy, the woman was in dire need of something stronger than lemonade, maybe a cognac or a whiskey. 

“That girl, one of these days, she will kill me with worry.” Elaine’s sigh was deep as she  delicately put her empty glass on the table.

Peggy, who knew better, decided to enlighten Jean’s mother. “You have no idea how dangerous Jean is, if I was in your place I would worry for others.”

Elaine’s gaze became mutinous, washed in denial.  “Jean wouldn’t…”

Peggy crossed her legs and interrupted Elaine. “Jean has killed before, Elaine. Of course it’s not anything we can prove, but we know she has.”

The blonde lowered her eyes and deflated. She recalled Jean admitting how she turned people into vegetables and the two would be rapists that she killed seven weeks ago that Elektra told her about.

Elaine looked brittle, and the long, deprecating chuckle that left her made Peggy worry. “It’s hard to visualize such a sweet girl reduced to doing such things.” Elaine admitted, evidently miserable. 

The two women heard the door to the penthouse lobby open, and they rushed to their feet. Phil entered first, followed by Jean who clenched her fists in anger. Behind her, Fury entered the lobby possessing all the confidence of a man about to get on the electric chair. Phil jumped to the side when he saw Jean’s mother move faster than a missile at cruise speed toward her daughter and hugged her fiercely. “Jean!”

The redhead looked embarrassed when she saw Peggy and Phil smile at them. “I am okay mom, I’m okay.” Jean patted her mother’s back soothingly.

Elaine stepped back from her daughter, holding her by the shoulders and glared at her. “Don’t be cheeky!”

There was no defiance in her gaze, Jean looked torn though. Peggy had an inkling that Jean felt the emotions her mother did, and it was getting to her. It was good to know that she couldn’t always be cool and humorous all the time. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t let Frank and his family die, mom. I didn’t even think, but Maria was about to die and...” Jean babbled to Elaine.

Peggy intervened, her voice booming, “What happened really?”

Everyone exchanged glances, with the exception of Fury, who was currently in the doghouse. The tension and the anger present in Jean’s shoulders and expression slowly bled out, replaced by relief. “I see that there’s lemonade. I guess I can tell you all what I did today.”

Elaine took her daughter by the arm. “As if you had a choice in the matter, young lady.”

Her mother pulled her toward the living room. As Peggy and her agents followed her, they heard the young woman say under her breath. “Sorry for assuming…”

Elaine sat her wayward daughter and put a glass of lemonade in her hand and answered her with, “You know what they say about assuming, Jean.”

Jean rolled her eyes. “No comment.”

Then Jean began to recount her tale, how she met Raven Darkholm as a bird and noticed a human mind coming from a… big Raven (the bird) and discovered it was spying on them from the veranda. After threatening to punt her into the sky, getting to know the other mutant and debating about the us versus them mentality, Jean agreed to meet Magneto two days later.

“Wait, you could have told us…” Phil tried to say, leaning forward on the blood red sofa.

Jean interrupted Phil with a wave toward Fury. “Hot shot there would have attempted to arrest them.” 

“I wanted information and the unvarnished truth on Mr Lhensherr. I already know Xavier’s stance on the effects the reveal of my people’s existence on society would cause, and I needed to know about the Brotherhood’s stance too. Thanks to my special gift I know a bit about his organization.” Jean smiled, shooting a derisive glance at Fury. 

Fury was about to interrupt her but Jean ignored him, still angry at the man for his attempts to cut her off from her powers.“At first he wanted me to join him, badly. Then I showed him why he didn’t want to recruit me by putting down one of his more vocal subordinates and insinuating that I would take his organization from under him.”

There was a catch in Elaine’s voice as she heard how casually her daughter seemed proud of having beaten up someone.

Jean quickly added, “Don’t worry I left the boy who attacked me alive.”

*She still didn’t tell us in which state, I noticed.* Peggy said in her heart.

Jean looked at her, shrugged and then smiled but her demeanor suddenly became more somber. “By the way, I have bad news.” She said, placing the glass on the table. Peggy frowned, a bad feeling weighing down on her when Jean’s gaze focused on her, her expression neutral. “What could be worse than what happened today?”

The Director instantly regretted jinxing herself when Jean reported what she learned from the terrorists.

Jean opened her mouth, speaking in a conspiratorially low tone, “Magneto’s got an asteroid base in space, I think it’s still under construction. The brief moment I touched him wasn’t enough to have a full read. Then there’s this fuzzy plan about boosting the powers of his people with some kind of space rock to irradiate them, it’s not lethal from what I understand.”

“Motherfucker! As if we needed that, right now!” The super spy stood up, expression harried. 

“Language!” All three women shouted in sync, glaring. 

Cough. “Sorry.” He apologised, not looking sorry in the slightest. He placed his glass down. “I will go contact our guys at NASA about this, if there’s an asteroid base somewhere in space, it must be near orbit.” Fury stated, taking his communicator and leaving the room, then the penthouse.

Everyone noticed how relieved he was of escaping Peggy’s ire or reprimand. Phil chuckled at his friend, he was taking note of Jean’s tale on his notepad. Peggy hadn’t noticed he was doing so before, she nodded at him for his prescience.

Jean cleared her throat and asked hopefully, “Can I continue or do you have something else to do too?”

Peggy stared at Jean, unimpressed by her sass. “Nick will take care of it. Now, continue if you please.”

Jean shrugged. “Sure.” She complied, continuing to recount her day, “Well, after we finished the picnic-”

“Wait.” Peggy raised her hand, shocked that Jean broke fast with a man like Magneto. “You had a picnic with terrorists?”

Jean rolled her eyes, annoyed at the interruption. “Well… yes. Can I continue now?”

Peggy pinched herself. It hurt, so she was not dreaming. “Unbelievable.”

Phil intervened helpfully, feeling the young woman’s irritation. “Jean, please continue.”

She continued to tell her tale, narrating how she evaded SHIELD agents looking for her in central park until she had enough and wanted to go home. That’s when she stumbled across the Castle family who were about to be collateral damage in a brief gang war that she put a brutal end to and ended up saving the mother.

Peggy regretted that doctor Wright wasn’t here as the redhead expunged in details on how she performed a light surgery on Mrs Castle.

“Then Fury arrived and surrounded us, all the agents pointing their weapon at us. I could feel Maria’s fear for her kids and Frank’s for his family. It was worse when he showed me that power inhibitor, I won’t lie, I almost… went wild there.” Jean raised her arms in frustration.

The older woman was really curious how a teenager with all of Jean’s power would react to the possibility of being afoul of the law. Would she give up her freedom or would she fight tooth and nail? Sometimes the girl was either doing good or doing something morally grey. Peggy was aware she had suffered a lot when she was young, dealing with that man and his minions after her.

It changed her.

Peggy straightened the lapel of her jacket. “What did you feel at that moment, Jean?” Jean looked to the side, a tell she had that indicated she didn’t want to answer. She laughed off the question with a non-answer. “Hey don’t try to psychoanalyze me, everyone gets a bit of Incarcerophobia from time to time.”

The Director continued on the same train of thought, not at all deigning to consider the immature deflection worth her time. “Not everyone has your power Jean, you could-”

Jean snapped, interrupting Peggy from launching into a full-on debate. “The next person or group of people trying that with me, I will kill them after taking everything away from them.”

Elaine gasped at her daughter’s outburst, seeing her cold eyes when she looked at her.  She raised from her seat, going to seek some privacy, and Jean’s gaze trailed after her, looking at Elaine’s departing back.

Peggy thought about the gungho attitude that Nick had been developing since he met the young redhead, always thinking the worst of her. There was no way any good relationship could come out of such behavior. Coulson’s relationship with Jean was one Nick would never have and that may be detrimental in the long run as she expected Jean to enlist later. It pained her to do that to one of her closest friends but Peggy would have to give the girl a new handler.

“That’s fair.” Peggy mused. 

Jean’s head snapped towards Peggy, sizing her up. Shrugging, she said, “Cool, we agree on this.”

The redhead quickly changed the subject. “Say, what’s going to happen for school? I don’t have a car anymore, are you going to lend me something?”

Peggy frowned, seeing how her baby spy was trying to maneuver her into giving her a vehicle for transportation purposes. Didn’t Jean understand that no one would trust her to be alone anymore? The older woman chuckled at the attempt, “Oh, you poor soul! You think you are going to be doing your own driving? No, I have assigned you a new protective detail.”

The girl flinched. “But what about my friends?” Her voice was small, so unlike Jean Grey. Peggy took on a matronly smile. “Don’t worry, they can get a ride too.”

The horror blossoming on Jean’s pretty face was worth all the trouble she kept causing; Peggy was enjoying this with delight. It was one of the little things she had come to like in her old age.

Jean’s gaze became even more scared. “But… what about the rumors? School will get even harder if everyone thinks I am some kind of rich muckety muck!”

Peggy didn’t care, but for the sake of propriety she sighed heavily. “We all have to sacrifice for safety, my dear.”

Scowling, Jean crossed her arms, her lips turned to a pout. “I thought you were one of the good guys?”

Peggy guffawed, took the lemonade pitcher and poured herself another glass. Picking it up, she watched Jean, teaching her  another lesson. “Dear, let me let you in on the secret. The good guys can be evil too.”

 

# # #

(Peter Parker)

 

October 28th, 1996
Midtown High

 

Monday arrived with a vengeance. It was 7:45 AM and even Peter felt that it was too early to be in the school’s parking lot, waiting for his friends and nemesis to arrive. He yawned, still shocked about the events that unfolded the night before- some guy with white skin with black spots had been emptying bank vaults by teleporting the money away.

It had been a gruelling battle that had taken a lot out of him; the normal mooks knew better than to try to take him on, now. Now the weirdos came out the woodwork, on his turf and they were harder to take down. *Had to beat up this spot guy till he became white and unable to create those black circular Warp holes all over his skin.*

In the end the man could not throw an unlimited number of space warps, because he primarily drews on the ones on his own body. That had been special… tasting his own punches revealed to him how strong he had become, but damn if it didn’t hurt. His hand lifted to his left cheek, and he could still feel the hit of the punch Spot made him give himself.

The horn of a school bus pulled him out of his musings, the yellow and black vehicle parking in the lot and disbursed students. Peter didn’t know what to expect; last friday, Jessica and Patsy had come on the bus, announcing that Jean had been in an accident and that her car was totally trashed because a van collided with her vehicle. Cindy had confirmed it too, but Peter felt that there was more to the story.

*No Jones.* It seemed that they were on another bus?

Peter’s attention shifted from the bus to a familiar Land Rover which pulled up at the entrance of the school parking lot. The door opened, revealing the single most beautiful girl. She had a white frilly top covered by a red woolen cardigan, black skinny jeans and brown ankle boots. He saw her look into the crowd of students until her eyes found him, her face lighting up with a smile that made him fall for her even more.

Gwen retrieved her bag from the SUV, bidding goodbye to her mother, a woman her splitting image but just older. Then the fairy like girl walked up to him, avoiding the throng of students. Her eyes scanned for the other girls who had become part of their circle at his side and she frowned when she failed to locate them. Peter was ambivalent with his new friendships. Jessica and Patsy were okay, but Jean and Cindy were… intense.

He still feared that Jean could take Gwen from him. He knew he shouldn’t feel this way, but he did. She didn’t belong to him, she was her own woman. Nevertheless, the little blonde was still clearly receptive to Jean’s flirting and he wasn’t the only one who felt that way as he knew Cindy hated Gwen and she felt threatened by her.

Peter chuckled as Gwen arrived before him. His best friend and secret crush still gave no fucks about the venomous stares sent her way by the clearly obsessed South Korean sporty girl.

What really pained him, was that Peter had found himself in an intellectual competition with Jean, she knew Gwen’s favorite subjects and then they entered their own world that he couldn’t even decipher. As a result, Peter applied himself to not feel excluded.

“Hey, Pete.” She kissed him on the cheek which resulted in his cheeks reddening.. “Gwen.” Peter nodded awkwardly.

The pixie blonde frowned, placing her hand on his forehead. “You okay? You look pale.”

Shaking his head, Peter lied, “I didn’t sleep much last night, too much side science projects.” But it was also technically the truth.

Gwen nodded, then took a comb out of her bag and began to comb his hair and told him in a reproachful  tone, “You should take better care of yourself, and I hope that you’ll be able to show me those projects of yours.” She gave his outfit a pointed look.  He wore a baggy grey woolen shirt covering a frumpy black t-shirt and khaki pants. Gwen was also not impressed with his choice of shoes, dark brown boots that had seen better days.

Everyone looked at them. Some boys were snickering at him and some girls were secretly cooing at the scene.

Flushing even more, Peter stuttered, “I...I will try.”

Placing her comb back in her bag, she leaned against the wall that served as a meeting point for their group, directly adjacent to where the popular kids assembled and parked their cars.

“Where’s everyone?” Gwen kept looking for their friends.

Peter looked at his watch. “It’s already 8:00 am. Don’t worry, Jean… and the others will come.”

Gwen’s head turned to Peter who suddenly felt himself being judged. “You still don’t like her, Pete? Even after everything she’s done for us?”

The brown haired young man averted his eyes from the inquisitive gaze of his friend.  She was referring to how the bullying had stopped completely because Jean Grey had promised pain and hellfire on anyone bothering him, Gwen or either of the Jones girls. Peter didn’t feel as grateful as he should be; he was sure that he could have fended off the likes of Flash or Harry Osborn in the long run.

Some of the other guys already questioned his masculinity for hiding behind the skirt of a girl or thinking that he was gay, not that there was anything bad about having same sex preferences. Peter felt put upon and that he needed something to avoid answering this trap-like question. As if God had heard him, a ready made distraction arrived, Peter said loudly, “Ah, Cindy’s arrived.”

Gwen turned, and just as well the asian girl walked toward them. “She has.”

He looked smug but the smirk was wiped clear when she looked back at him with a threatening smile. “Don’t think that this pathetic attempt at distraction will save you, Pete.”

Peter began to sweat profusely, a nervous laugh bubbling out of him. *That’s my Gwen, too smart to not see through me.*

Cindy’s fashion, though not flashy, certainly was practical. It could even be called stylish. She wore a simple black and white t-shirt with an AC/DC band logo that she tied to show off her midriff covered by a black leather jacket originally owned by her girlfriend. Her jeans were a classic pair that were held by a studded black leather belt, and she finished the look off with soft black boots. She had a grungy look to her that Peter could appreciate, after all, Cindy was a really pretty girl.

The black haired girl took off her sunglasses, flipped her long mane back and acknowledged Gwen with a nod. “Stacy.”

Gwen’s eyes focused from Pete’s face to Cindy’s, “Moon.”

An awkward silence hovered over them, and Peter coughed to break it and greet his friend? Acquaintance? He couldn’t say what she was to him, but she treated him well. “Hi Cindy.”

The change of expression on Cindy’s face when she spoke to him was jarring. She smiled at him, “Hello Peter, how are you today?” As soon as the question left her, she frowned, walking up to him and placing a hand on his cheek. “You look pale, are you eating well?”

Gwen snorted. “That’s almost what I said.”

Cindy rolled her eyes, then her expression switched to concern. “It hurts me to think that Stacy is right, but you should take care of yourself more. I mean, I don’t know what you do at night but this isn’t the first time we noticed how unwell you look in the morning.”

It touched him that someone other than Gwen or aunt May cared for him, but those girls were being too sharp for his taste, and no one should know about his late night activities. Peter calmed down, scratching behind his head, ears tinged red with embarrassment. “Huh ok, girls… I am fine. I-”

He was interrupted by the fact that a convoy of at least five cars entered the parking lot. The vehicles began to spread out and once they came to a halt, a muscular man in a black suit, wearing shades, exited the first vehicle. His eyes scanned his surroundings for over half a minute. Everyone around them began to whisper as more men in black exited the cars. Peter could see some of them carrying concealed weapons.

“What the hell? Who are those guys?”

“Do you think something is about to happen?”

“The feds?”

Their questions were answered when one of the men opened the door of the central vehicle and a familiar redhead stepped out, helping a pink haired girl exit, too. It was Jean and Jessica; a second redhead exited the car, looking all smiles. Jean looked nervously around her, and it was clear she was embarrassed by the spectacle. Cindy made a musical giggle. “Of course, it’s Jean…” Peter noticed her lack of surprise. “Why does she have an… escort?” Gwen frowned, taking a few steps forward, towards Jean, when Cindy grabbed her arm. 

“I know why, but I can’t tell you.” Cindy singsonged annoyingly, before continuing,“Wait for her to come to us, don’t go near those guys.”

Gwen wrenched her arm from Cindy’s grip, levelling her with a glare, but she relented nonetheless. Cindy’s advice wasn’t bad; the men in black climbed in their vehicles excluding one who went to park in a free emplacement closer to the administrative building. Jean walked up to their usual meeting place, enduring gazes and whispers. Peter could already hear the rumors flying, and he chuckled at the unease she showcased; it changed from her always smug behavior he had come to detest.

As usual Jean looked fashionable, and highly attractive, her red hair long and perfect with volume, shining like fire under the sun’s rays. Peter had no idea where she found her clothes, but she looked damn good in her carmine colored off shoulder front split long black dress; her breasts bounced and almost fell out of the V neck on her front, so much so Peter didn’t know where to look! And then there was her tight black pants which clung to her like a glove. 

Most of the boys at school fantasized about her, but would never be able to touch or even approach her romantically as her interest was heavily directed to girls. Peter wasn’t one of them; the girl was too brutally honest and heavy handed. Peter frowned, finding it strange that everyone accepted her sexual orientation and didn’t question it or hate her for it. Where were the snide comments and gossip from earlier this year?

They had suddenly stopped when Jean had done something to the previous cheerleaders squad, but he wasn’t sure. Jean strode toward them at high speed, followed by the Jones sisters who looked like normal girls their age but gradually emulated her, this was the case for Patsy who admired Jean a bit too much. She morphed from a sweet, shy girl to a foul mouthed one in a span of a few weeks all because Jean didn’t hold her tongue much. Jean spread her arms and Cindy flew into them at the speed of a cruise missile. They smashed their lips together, the PDA making Peter flush again. Gwen looked rather detached from this scene, examining her nails. When the two girls finally came up for air, they spoke in hushed tones. Meanwhile, Jessica and Patsy left them behind.

Patsy was the first to come up to Gwen and hug her, while Jessica looked grumpy. “How are ya girls?”

“Am fine.” Jessica said gruffly, wringing with her hands, and not looking at Peter’s face.

Jessica was a really pretty girl, though it was difficult to see it at first due to her concealing hoodies that drowned her body and jeans with big boots. Peter had tried to speak with her before she even met Jean Grey and she was an acerbic and really foul mouthed girl. But he could understand, he acted the same way. He lost his uncle and she lost all her family. Since she had met Jean, though, she had been smiling much more, and with her change in mood, her wardrobe also changed. 

Jessica wore more colors and form fitting clothes, even adopting a hairstyle that allowed visual access to her face. Her hair was styled in a short haircut with two messy plaits fastened on the ends with elastics; but god forbid that you called her cute, he dared one week ago and she pinched him. *It had hurt.*

Since then Peter had become prudent of what he said to the pink haired girl.

“You don’t look fine.” Peter insisted, wrapping his hand around her arm.  

Her eyes bounced to it, then to his face, worried. She delicately took his hand from her arm and said, “I can’t speak about it.”

“Oh.” Peter crossed his arm. “Did Cindy pass a memo or something? What about the men in black?”

Smiling, Jessica leaned on the wall at his side. “Can’t say anything, Pete, I really want to. I think Jean must tell you, Mom had to sign some damn papers to keep my mouth shut…”

Two minutes passed before his curiosity got the best of him. “Is it some secret government shit? Those guys in the cars looked like government agents.”

“Jean will tell us. She owes us that at least.” Jessica said patiently, taking her CDs Holder from her school bag, sifting through it for some music to listen to.  

Peter snorted at that; Jean Grey owed him nothing, she was too busy being the perfect girl to bother with little old him. “You mean, you and the others. We are not exactly friends, her and I…”

Jessica slapped his arm, hard. “Then fucking try, she’s a really sweet girl…” she rebuked, then leaned forward, whispering,“and stop acting as if she’s going to steal Gwen from you.”

With a panicked glance, Peter looked around him and at Gwen speaking with Patsy before they returned to Jessica’s amused ones. “How did-”

She patted Peter’s cute face and told him with evil glee. “Pete, everyone knows.”

His eyes bugged out. “Everyone?”

Jessica nodded. “Everyone, even Gwen. When are you going to grow some balls and ask her out?”

He didn’t know what to think. Was he that blind to his surroundings? No wonder the girls kept pushing him to change more, like his wardrobe or the way he walked? They wanted him to get out of his sullen behavior, even Jean.

Looking in Jessica’s mirth filled brown eyes, Peter spoke, “I-”

Gwen interrupted him. “What are you two talking about?” 

Peter jumped up, startled. “Nothing.”

“Right.” Jessica took her discman out of her bag, placed the CD inside and put her headphones on; she pushed the play button, effectively ignoring everyone.  

“Hey everyone!” Jean arrived and hugged Gwen who kissed her on the cheek.

Gwen’s hand glided on Jean’s arms and shoulders, touching every part of her body. “Heard you were in an accident, but I see all your little bits attached so it mustn’t have been so bad… right?”

A sad expression appeared on the redhead’s face. “Well, my Camaro died. That was a big loss.”

Patsy feigned some tears, Cindy slapping her on the back of her head before they looked at each other, laughter spurting from them.  Peter saw that Jean’s sadness was real. He could understand her; driving your own car was a big step toward independence.

“What about the MIB?” Peter asked. Their presence bothered him. Jean was supposed to be a normal girl- she had all her parents and siblings, she was upper middle class, beautiful and smart. She had everything. Peter flinched at this realization. *That’s what’s bothering me with her, she has everything I have ever wanted. Her parents are alive.*

“Oh them… hum well, guys we have to talk.” Jean said, levelling her gaze with everyone’s. She then turned to Peter, who was shocked as he didn’t expect to be included. “This concerns you too, Peter. Jessica and I... have to speak to you about something. So, can we go to your house this afternoon?”

Peter became wary, the girls surrounded him; even Jessica who didn’t pay attention normally was watching him.

He gulped loudly. “W-why my house?”

Everyone giggled which didn’t reassure him, at all. 

“Because like that you won’t run away, idiot.” Cindy helpfully added.

Gwen directed puppy eyes at him. “Peter, it seems important you should let her have her way.”

Peter knew when he was being manipulated, but he couldn’t find the strength to tell his crush No. It wasn’t surprising that the puppy eyes were super effective and he said in a huff, “Fine.”

Jean laughed. “Don’t worry, Pete. To make it up to you, I am going to make my special Lasagna.”

Jessica and Patsy reacted to that offer, growing rather intense. “Pete, say yes!”

Peter tried taking a step back, but his back was pressed against the wall. “Say yes, Pete!” Gwen urged.

The young man sighed heavily, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I already did!”

Patsy and Jessica high fived in celebration. “Yes!”

 

# # #

 

Back with Jean...
History class
10:00 AM

 

Things were going better than I expected. Seeing Cindy and returning to my usual routine was like a salve on the events of the last week. She didn’t hate me, instead it seemed that the danger we had been in actually strengthened her feelings for me. They hinged more toward love than the lust, affection and friendship from before. Gwen was more of a friend now, but she was still acting interested which I knew was an attempt to get Peter to confess his feelings faster.*I can’t even get mad at her for it, it’s time the boy did something or she will lose interest.*

As for Jessica and Patsy, they stayed as stalwart as ever. I loved my life; I have friends, a girlfriend and powers. But the specter of Nathaniel Essex was still casting a shadow on it all; that is why I found myself in history class sketching a generator which would harness the byproducts of baryonic decay as an energy source. Using the skills and knowledge I gleaned from the SHIELD scientists, along with the memories of my other self who had seen a show employing such technology, I surmised that it was theoretically possible to make one, but a Jovian environment was needed for the production of a prototype.

I shelved the idea, flicking to the next page of my notepad. If I had the Phoenix force, going to space and to other galaxies would be possible but not at this point in time. I knew that it was a question of time before the Raptor of life snapped me up to proceed to my… duties but I hoped it would be a long while before that happened.

The next sketch was the diagram of the molecules that the SHIELD uniform was made of. It was treated in an Electro Bio Chemical solution that made them more than bulletproof. SHIELD scientists were a treasure trove of theories, viable research, and proof of concepts. I even had something like an electro laser schematics that I took from their weapon program.

I was strong at math and physics. I have all this in my head but nowhere to practice. *I need a place out of the way. A lab with all the tools I want, computers, blackboards, work tables and a kitchen, a bed and Cindy. Yes, the last one is super important.*

Then I realized that this notepad of mine was rather dangerous… full of intellectual properties that didn’t belong to me. A chuckle left me. *I need a place to hide my things.*

"What is so funny Miss Grey? Does the subject of the prohibition amuse you?” The teacher asked.

All gazes turned to me, but I wasn’t fazed. 

I shrugged. “Not really, I just find it funny that everyone at the time let a political party, whose sole purpose was to stop the manufacturing and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States of America, come into power. They should have thought it was a bad idea. I mean, the more you,” I chuckled. “Prohibit something, the more certain persons or organizations will distribute it illegally. Nothing had changed during that period and those in power were just being annoying? Yes, that’s the word, an inconvenience.”

“Hum right, thank you for your opinion, Miss Grey. It is kind of really blunt, but this is essentially what happened.” The teacher grudgingly said and turned to the blackboard.

“Your welcome.” And I returned to my sketching and plans.

The money I hid in Harlem will help get me a place. Problem is I’m too young to possess that sort of money, but someone who isn’t my dad or mom might be able to help. Someone loyal, and I think it’s finally time to network in the criminal world.

 

# # #

 

03:45 PM
Parker residence

 

We disembarked from the cars now that the school day ended. s It was a quick trip from school to Peter’s house; the agents even let us make a pitstop to the nearest supermarket to purchase ingredients before driving us to the Parkers’. It wasn’t as good as our house in Annandale-on-Hudson, but it looked rather cozy. I passed an analytical eye over the front garden of the house surrounded by painted white picket fence.

“It’s so cliché that I don’t know what to say.” I mumbled.

“Hey!” Peter heard me, his eyebrows furrowed in annoyance.  I poked my tongue out, then chuckled. 

Cindy came to my side, her arm wrapping around my waist as she looked critically at Peter’s house and the neighbor’s. “Peter’s house is well taken care of, compared to the ones neighboring his. Wait is that Mary Jane Watson?”

The redhead looked at them from the door of the house on the right, that had a yellowed lawn. Unwashed walls, falling down fences and roof tiles in need of a good replacement; it looked like the owners had completely given up on making it look good. When I made eye contact with Mary Jane, I shot her a smile to which she returned with an icy glare of her own before slamming the door shut. I snickered. “Yeah, that’s her alright.”

Cindy tilted her head. “Why did she run and slam the door?”

It was obvious to me that the glamorous and beautiful Mary Jane Watson didn't want us to know about her humble origins, she was also ashamed of them. I understood it, but found the young woman wanting. It was easy to transcend your own roots by taking care of yourself and working for a better tomorrow.

“Who knows, nothing is alright in that girl’s head. She sounds so vapid…” I shrugged, grabbed my grocery bag, and followed  Peter who continued to grumble about bossy girls.

The agents spread around the neighborhood, the teams having switched at midday; two cars were parked at the north and south of Peter’s house, and there was an outside perimeter and two agents on foot carrying weapons. SHIELD wasn’t taking any chance that we could be attacked it seemed.

When Peter pushed open the white door, I saw that it allowed a view directly on the living room. There were walls separating the well furnished kitchen and minimal dining table. There were stairs leading to the first floor; I pushed my awareness everywhere in the house. I noted there was  an underground basement and three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and two toilets on the ground floor and first floor. It wasn’t a big house by any stretch, but the place was clean, tidy and well decorated with beige curtains, silver artwork and glass figurines everywhere.

*Note to self, ask Aunt May for advice on house decoration.*

“Pete, where’s your aunt?” I asked, my gaze bouncing everywhere. I wanted to know which version of Aunt May I would be speaking with; if it’s the grandmotherly one, she’s going to be easy to deal with. The young one though? Peter was fucked if it’s her, she might already know that he was spiderman.

Raising an eyebrow Peter answered with, “Working, of course.”

“Okay, well.. let’s start with cooking.”

Finding the tools was no problem and everyone pitched in and helped out. Peter sure tried to, but Gwen made him peel the onions. Jessica found the lasagna pan made of glass and helped with the first step of preparing the ingredients that consisted of cooking the meat and browning the onions and garlic, stirring them into crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce and water.

Gwen passed me the ingredients to season everything. We let everything simmer for an hour and a half. It was when we were waiting, along with occasionally stirring the dish, that I opened the floodgates with, “Everyone, I’ve got super powers.”

Everyone stopped what they were doing. Peter who was cleaning a glass pitcher in the kitchen sink whirled back and almost let it fall but caught it in time before it reached the ground. I decided to make my point, so I caught it with my mind and pulled it from Peter’s hands. The pitcher floated in the air.

“Blunt as ever.” Jessica commented, nursing a can of pepsi. 

I scowled at the pink haired devil. “Hey! Don’t judge, you pepsi philistine.”

Jessica raised her can. “Coke slut.”

I grinned, shooting back, “And proud of it.” 

Patsy and Cindy watched the pitcher dance into the air. Gwen looked at it, then looked at me in quick succession for thirty seconds before she clapped her hands and said, “Okay, so Jean could you put the pitcher down?”

I nodded. “Yes I can.”

“Please.” She said, her gaze following the pitcher as it descended towards Peter. He caught it, placing it near the kitchen sink on a clean towel.

Staring at everyone, Peter loudly stated, “Is there anyone who needs to make another revelation?”

Jessica raised from the sofa, downed her can of pepsi and crushed it in her hand until it was a ball of aluminium the size of a penny. She threw it at Peter who caught it, then looked at it with wonder. He could do something similar but he’d risk cutting himself.

“Jean has Telekinesis. And Jessica Super strength and Durability? What else?” Peter asked aloud.

“Flight.” Jessica admitted, rather smug as she began to hover slowly in the air. I followed her and then looked at Cindy who was watching me with awe. With a wave the asian girl levitated off the sofa and landed in my arms.

“What about me?!” Patsy whined.

I levitated her and brought her to her sister. Gwen followed, flailing a lot  until she calmed down and began to giggle. Peter sat on a stool with a thoughtful expression.

“Hey Pete, why don’t you tell us what your talent is?” I asked while letting the other girls play with levitation in the living room.

“W-what are you talking about I am…”

“Peter.” I landed, staring him straight in the eyes. “Don’t be stubborn, I know that you are spiderman.”

Everyone froze, silence descending upon them. Whereas Gewn gasped, the others acted as though it wasn’t a big deal.

“I am not.” He said stubbornly.

He was having another one of his bout of jealousy, thinking that I was handed everything he wanted. Poor guy shouldn’t envy me; my enemies make his look like cookie cutter villains. My powers were more versatile and cooler than his, that’s what he thought.

I smiled at that, then focused my will on the kitchen knives on the island. “Fine, you brought this on yourself.”

The knives silently flew free from their wooden sheath and sped toward Peter who felt them coming and jumped to the side when a knife targeted his neck, and then there was one targeting his hands that he retracted back at the last second. He jumped and pirouetted on himself to avoid three knives coming in low at high speed.

Then he was on the ceiling sticking to the white plaster to evade all the knives attacking in all directions. I stopped attacking him and placed the knives back in their wooden sheath on the kitchen island.

“So, mister I am not spiderman what are you sayin’ now?”

“You could have killed me!” Peter shouted, his scowl fierce. 

I snorted at him. “If I wanted you dead, Parker, you would be.”To prove the statement, I  grabbed him from the ceiling and put him down on the sofa. 

“I-.” Peter tried to say, but Gwen floated herself to his side, enveloping him in a hug. 

Five minutes of silence had passed when Peter decided to stop acting like a bitch. Jessica and he spoke about how much they could lift. The little pixie blonde growled at Jessica who just smiled at her. <Yes, Peter is hers, back off Jess.> I sent via my mind to Jessica who  raised her hand once placated by my mind voice.

“Am I the only one who wants super powers too?” Gwen interjected as Jessica floated away from Peter with an excuse.

Cindy and Patsy raised their hands. “Don’t worry girls, I know how to get you some! Stick with me and you’ll have your super powers.” I added.

Cindy and Patsy smiled at that and then returned to the kitchen, time was up and it was time to continue the lasagna. 

As I passed him, Peter caught my hand, glaring at me.  “How can you just promise something like that?”

Tilting my head, I thought about it. “Well, the same way you got your powers. You got bit by a radioactive spider. There are alternative ways to get powers in this world. I was born with mine and Jessica was in an accident caused by a truck that was transporting special chemicals, then Steve Rogers got to be a super soldier thanks to some kind of serum. I can promise that to my friends because I know some things you don’t, Peter.”

I know where the only vial of super soldier serum is at, then there was magic that they could learn. So many possibilities… Peter’s mind began to churn; I have to hand him that, Peter wasn’t just a cute face, he was smart and he figured something about me. 

He released my hand quickly as though my touch scalded him. “Your power… you aren’t a simple telekinetic…”

Grinning at him, I waved my finger at him, and he flinched. I laughed. “And that’s everything I will reveal today.”

We returned to our lasagna making adventure, Peter watching me for the full duration as though I was a bomb about to go off at any time. I sent Gwen to occupy his mind while Jessica, Cindy and I were finishing. It was 6:12 PM when a delicious smell of well baked lasagna wafted down from the kitchen while we played cards.

“Aaaah! I almost forgot.” I cried out as I was about to pass the Queen of diamond to Peter.

Cindy looked surprised. “Jean?”

I sighed. “Peter, Gwen. Last thursday, Cindy and I, we almost got kidnapped and hum, I kinda work for some secret organization.”

“Okay back up, tell us everything in order.”

I proceeded to tell them about the man after me for my powers and the goons he often sends my way since I was twelve years old when my abilities first manifested. I especially avoided telling how I disposed of Sinister’s goons; Peter might get a stroke because of his no kill code. Then, I told them how SHIELD had brow beaten me into coming into their services and now I worked for them to ensure my protection.  I also told them about Xavier and Magneto and how bad they truly were.

“I don’t see a problem with that Xavier guy’s way.” Peter voiced. 

He really thought that… and because I didn’t want to get into a shouting match with him I nodded, “Huhu, think what you want Pete.”

Gwen went to take the lasagna out of the oven and let it air for a bit; that’s when the front door opened and a beautiful and tall older brunette appeared. She wore a pantsuit that accentuated her womanly curves. She looked surprised to see so many girls around Peter.

With a bright easy smile, May looked at her nephew and said, “Peter, I know I teased you about bringing your girlfriend home, but you shouldn’t have brought all of them.”

“Aunt May...” Peter facepalmed, emitting a low groan and quickly fleeing to the kitchen.  I couldn’t help but giggle with everyone at Peter’s reaction. As I did so,  my hand snaked under Cindy’s shirt as aunt May was being introduced to everyone. Jessica and Patsy were first, she already knew Gwen so it was Cindy’s and my turn. “I am Jean, and this is my girlfriend, Cindy.”

“Ah, you two look cute together.” May acknowledged, her smile genuine as her gaze bounced back and forth between Cindy and I. 

There wasn’t a mean bone in her body, she really thought what she said. “I didn’t expect you to be accepting of my sexual orientation, some people are not as understanding…”

“Ah pish! I am not a stuck up bigot, I... experimented when I was in college.” May waved my worries away.

“Too much information aunt May!” Peter shouted from the kitchen.

“Don’t be a prude, Pete!” May shouted back.

She was full of life with a playful, witty disposition, that was endearing. I found myself liking her more and more. We invited May to eat with us after we set up the table, though it would be hard not to, this was her house after all. Then she asked us who made the delicious lasagna when we finally dug in. Everyone looked at me.

“Cindy, don’t let this one go.” May looked serious. She  took another bite of the lasagna and cooed a storm.

Amber colored eyes turned to me, looking  intense as usual and then Cindy patted my thigh. “I don’t intend to, she’s amazing.”

This earned her a quick kiss on the cheek from me. Then we all began to speak about inane and mundane things; Gwen and Peter worried about the exams before halloween, Jessica was listening to Patsy whine about the new ballet class their mom conscripted her into.

Once everyone finished eating, May wiped her mouth with a tissue and looked at me. “So… would it be too much to ask for this lasagna recipe?”

With a smile plastered on my face and a raised eyebrow, I entered negotiation mode. “It depends Mrs Parker, are you willing to exchange it for something as yummy.”

May sighed theatrically, showing me a pained expression. “You drive a hard bargain, I shall take it though, and please call me May.”

May dashed in search of a pen and paper. When she got back, I noticed Peter looking at me with a smile on his face.  He finally stopped doubting me but there was still something holding him back. I shrugged, lacking the energy to work on him right now. May was finally there and from memory I wrote down the ingredients, the times for each of the steps taken to make my family’s lasagna. It took ten minutes.

Our time together was coming to an end for the day when  Cindy chose to remind us of something not too important but that we had promised to do for Flash. “What are you going to wear for the Halloween party that Flash and Harry Osborn organized, I plan to dress as Princess Kitana from the Mortal Kombat movie.”

I quickly looked at the date on the calendar pinned on May’s fridge. Gwen began panicking, Peter just shrugged and the Jones sisters smiled, it seemed they had already anticipated it. “I’m going to go as a Kunoichi.”

Cindy shook her head, leveling me with  the look; she had seen my sketchbook before and what I thought of how a female ninja should be clothed as. “Please tell me it’s not going to be like the slutty one you drew in your sketchbook?”

*Damn you, Sensei, for influencing me.* I cursed Elektra.

I hugged her and whispered in her ear, “Don’t ask questions and I won't lie to you, darling. But I am sure you’ll like it.”

As I thought fast, mom and I had enough old things to create a subpar costume. While I thought that, my other self decided to intervene, giving me an image to focus on. It was a 3D picture of a character class from Desert Black or some such, Kunoichi and wow it seemed more than slutty but… I liked it! *I might add some black leggings for modesty. The Kunai I could make them with my TK and blunt them, the mask and sword are going to be trickier.*

“Jean?” Cindy poked me in the side.

I craned my neck downwards slightly, my eyes finding hers, she was kind of shorter than I. “Ah sorry I was thinking about my costume. What were you saying?”

She grasped the straps of her bag hanging from her shoulder, handing me mine. “It’s time to go.”

“Oh okay!” It was a school day so we couldn’t stay more. Taking my bag, we bid goodbye to May and Peter. 

Gwen was staying a while longer as her mother had told her that she would come pick her up. We left the Parker house and brought Jessica and Patsy back home; the SHIELD agents didn’t mind. Then we did the same for Cindy who I especially said goodbye to with a passionate kiss, she left with a smile on her face to her apartment’s building.

 

# # # 

 

Queens
Grey Penthouse
08:02 PM

Finally I reached home. Once I was in the penthouse, I informed mom that I already ate at my friend’s, and to leave the leftovers of dinner for me in a Tupperware in the fridge. I would eat those tomorrow at school, for lunch. Walking through the corridors of the penthouse, I mused over how the day went as I climbed up the stairs that led to my bedroom. The escort detail, going to look for Jessica and Patsy, their reaction when their mom was being made aware about my kidnapping attempt. They had  become rather clingy after that, subtly flanking me, and paying better attention to our surroundings than they would normally. Then Jessica and I outing ourselves to our friends. All those were important events that were either manipulated by me or by happenstance; and I needed a way to take advantage of them for later in the game, after Sinister was dealt with.

There was so much to do, and I couldn’t gauge how much time I had before Sinister had enough of waiting and dispatched his real heavy hitter to come take me. It could be tomorrow or next month– time would tell. Closing my bedroom door, I flung my bag at the feet of my bed, stripping off my clothes and doing the same with them. The door to the bathroom opened itself, and I landed on the clean bathroom floor while thinking about what I was going to do tonight.

I needed an ally, someone loyal through and through; someone who wouldn’t shy away from commiting dirty deeds for good reasons. They had to be mentally and ethically flexible as well, while also being aware of when they couldn’t cross the line. 

Those requirements floated in my head while I was in the shower, shampooing my hair and applying African black soap on my body with repetitive but careful movements for another five minutes everywhere. Thinking was never hard in the shower; I could release my worries and actually l find solutions to my problems after some relaxation. 

Twenty minutes later, I left the shower cabin with the bare bones of a plan slowly growing in my mind. Willing myself to be dry, my power answered and the water evaporated from my skin and hair. No pesky hairdryer to damage my hair for me, thank you. I brushed my teeth, then directed my thoughts to this halloween party that I had decided to participate in.

It had slipped my mind as I had more pressing business occupying my thoughts, like the kidnapping attempt or meeting with Magneto and the Brotherhood lite. In the end they weren’t all that much, I mean they have to hide like prey and espouse an ideology of hate and intolerance; and I wasn’t interested in it. After meeting the Brotherhood, I realized they were a part of the problem I needed to resolve.

“Sooner or later, I will either convert them or destroy them completely.” I promised aloud, telling myself I would be merciful but also savvy, if some of them don’t want to change accidents could be arranged later.

The future was uncertain and full of horror perpetuated by Mutant or Human. *Wait! Mutant, Human, Mutant, Human. Metahuman? That’s a good name, better than Innovade and... Already taken by DC comics. Fuck them, I will use it. You know what? To avoid getting sued, I will buy them, Warner too.*

I planned to grow wealthier than Stark anyway. The first step would be to set up a workshop, buy the tools to make the tools needed to build the tech that I wanted. 2010+ tech to start with, then I will go to infinity and beyond. Floating a Nirvana band t-shirt, panties and short shorts, I put them on absently. Once I was clothed, I felt a presence nearing my room and by the texture of the thoughts I guessed that it was mom.

Knock. Knock.

“Enter.” 

Mom entered the room, beaming at me, but I knew something was wrong as it failed to reach her eyes. opened the door and entered my room, she gave me a big smile.. With her long blonde hair unbound and red satin long nightgown. I stared at my mom. I hoped that I would age this well when I will be her age. She did look like me when she was a teen. 

When she looked at the ground, with clothes strewn everywhere, and books I didn’t bother to place back on the shelves, a displeased expression showed on her face.  Without saying anything I gathered my clothes under her inscrutable eyes. Throwing them in the laundry basket near my closet, I used my TK to return to the books back on the bookshelves.

I smiled at her, but it fell short when I felt mom continue to watch me,  as if she was searching for something familiar. She was feeling distraught and sad.

“Hey mom, did you need anything? Or is this a surprise inspection of my bedroom?” I asked her, waving lamely. She often did surprise inspections, and the punishments she gave me were legendary when I didn't clean up.

After a long moment of silence, Mom breathed-in, her voice hesitant when she spoke, “Sweetheart… We must talk about-”

I tilted my head and finished her sentence thanks to what was at the forefront of her thoughts. “The killings? Sure.” I said in a rather blasé attitude.

Mom’s thoughts became more chaotic as I sat on my bed, crossed my legs and stared at her in a detached manner. I felt that this was going to be bad. Elaine Grey lived in a neat and ordered world, completely different from what Marvel had been throwing at me on unsuspecting days. Having powers in this universe was a curse; there was no good or evil, the universe simply was.

She observed me for a long time, searching for a reaction. I showed none. The sooner she accepted that it was not going to change, the happier she would be. 

“D-Don't you feel anything about it?” She seemed bothered by me not feeling anything about it.

I leaned forward and said in a bored voice, “Mom, what do you really want me to say? That I am sorry, and that I don't sleep at night because I see those people’s faces all the time?” I served her with all the cliché things I heard about killing.

Other-self chastised me and gave me a headache by shouting in my head. She never liked it when I became mean with my parents, but it was warranted in this situation. I shrugged, continuing, “I stopped thinking like that after the first three times they attempted to take me, even when I escaped and let them live, they kept coming. They almost succeeded one day, you know? I remember when I was twelve years old and those two clones tried to take me from the street on the way to school and that I’d been  forced to turn them into vegetables.” I snapped my fingers.

I, Jean Grey, was the product of my surroundings; without knowing, Sinister was forging and honing a blade that would strike at him sooner or later.

My eyes met mom’s glistening ones. Feeling her emotions, and reading her surface thoughts, I realised she lamented the fact that I didn't have a good enough childhood, what with Annie's death, the bullying in elementary school, me putting some of my bullies in the hospital and the fact that I had no friends before finally finding some in high school. She blamed herself for not seeing any of those problems and dealing with them for me, as my mother.

*This wasn’t her fault. Other self is right. I am being mean.*

Sighing, I raised from the bed, walking up to her and taking her hands in mine. “When I kill someone it's often for a good reason. I stopped feeling guilty about it and moved on. Think of me as a cop or a special agent of SHIELD– they have to kill people when they have no choice or when the baddies take hostages.”

“Your father gave me the same explanation, he didn't see the problem with what you are doing either, but I guess it's just me who sees one…?” Elaine lowered her eyes sadly, with a contrite expression.

Enfolding her in my arms, I hugged mom tightly and whispered in her ear, “Mom, you know I love you right? You are a good person, and you aren’t made for the kind of world I found myself in. That’s why I will protect you with everything I have, always.”

I stepped back from her but still held on her arms, my expression serious. I tried to reassure her by saying, “If anyone threatened you or took you from me there's nothing I wouldn't do to get you back. I think in those terms when I do what I do.”

There was some last token resistance to my way of thinking in Mom. “But what gives you the right? We have laws for this, you should be having fun with your friends and not care about anything but being a kid.”

I pulled mom to my bed and we sat, and I instantly said what weighed on my mind. “Mom, under the veneer of civilization, humans are all animals. We are messed up, balls of instincts and needs, even with laws in place we seek to advance ourselves and strive for power, status, sex and shiny things. People don't care about laws, they only fear it’s enforcers and being put away for good in a box. At least that's how I see it in their minds, only the consequences stop everyone from killing each other.”

I continued. “And about being a kid? Sure, but I am growing up, still it’s thanks to you listening to me and letting me go to Midtown high that I have some normal friends. Friends who will follow me all my life. So mom, don’t worry, sooner or later that guy trying to kidnap me will make a mistake, and I will kill him for it. Then, finally I’ll be free, and can stop placing my life on hold and constantly looking over my shoulder.”

With this, mom’s conscience was laid to rest. I hugged her again before she returned to bed to sleep. Glancing at the clock on the white wall near my bed, I saw that it was already 10:00 pm.

 

# # #

 

My body was asleep in my bed, and my astral form was now overseeing the building where my parent’s penthouse was located. My plan about seeking someone was now on the rail and I was sifting through the thought streams of everyone in the mental detection field in my radius. Eight kilometers is what I could keep under control without succumbing to madness with many thoughts assailing and overwhelming me.

I’d slowly but surely push myself to double that amount by the end of this month, until one day, I’d be more efficient than Xavier, and distance would not hinder me in any way. *And I will need no Cerebro to cheat.* Until then, I would stick with what I knew how to do.

As I was saying, my mind accessed the thought streams and I began searching for specific thought patterns and emotions. I don’t know how to classify this knowledge I had but people's thoughts have flavor and texture, colors even. Each color was linked  to an emotion and, in turn, emotions were linked to thoughts; thoughts are ideas or arrangements of ideas that result from thinking.

A thought may be an idea, an image, a sound or even an emotional feeling that arises from the brain. Then from the brain, those kind of misty streams rise up and lead out to a portal which heads  to the astral plane.

What I was doing was akin to putting search words in my google bar and for it to come up with results for me. For example, emotions had colors– red was for anger, embarrassment, passion or lust. Blue denoted shyness, sadness or calmness.Yellow symbolizes cowardice, happiness, or caution. Green hints at disgust, envy, friendliness, or greed. Purple can indicate pride, fear, or courageousness. Grey signals depression, regular sadness, or stoicism. Black emanates coldness or mournfulness. Pink signals cheeriness, embarrassment, or love. White represents shock, fear, coldness.

There is a quote from Edgar Allan Poe that I found fitted well with what I was currently doing. “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Doing the search by day would have been easier than night people who were asleep or fatigued were  more difficult to make sense of.

What I saw was depressing; there was a lot of dull grey, green and purple in the mass of the thought streams I was seeing. Greed and envy, fear and depression in various shades. The world… no, humans made it so difficult to tolerate existence. However, amongst the mass of negativity streams, you also found positive ones. Like right now. I found it when I flew over Brighton Beach, the neighborhood in the southern portion of the New York City’s borough of Brooklyn because I was unable to  find my potential ally near my building.

This thought stream was beautiful. It shifted in the purple of pride and courageousness, light grey for sadness, yellow for caution, red for passion and blue for calmness. It was a sign that this person lived with their head held high, even through the shit life threw at them. They seemed to have a horrible life from what I could pick up. I was led to a really bad part of New York where the street was unkempt, and there was the burned hull of a car in a spot that led to an alley. Deeper into it was some kind of  discrete sign that lit up the darkness electrical blue, and under it was some kind of reinforced door. Not caring one iota about the obstacle, I stepped through it.I became witness to what I could only describe as decadence. There was a throng of men smoking and drinking under red lights, all seated in different booths. Girls of different ethnicity and age ranging from seventeen to twenty five strode in bikini tops and micro-skirts, wearing high heels  and serving drinks and food. Russian music blared from the speakers which were placed at strategic points in the entire room.

As I didn’t have any sense of smell right now, I was unable to describe the scent, and thank goodness for that; the pungent smoke alone would’ve made me choke. I shrugged, then followed the interesting stream to the back of the room where there was a kind of hidden door which I passed through. I wish I didn’t.

The lewd moans and noise of flesh slapping flesh were what first clued me in that I’ve ended up in some sort of illegal brothel. “What the fuck?”

I continued to follow the stream, ignoring the half-opened doors where those girls were used by those pigs. Most of them didn’t come here willingly, some even drugged to the gills to keep them from acting up. In my mind, I was already scheming on how to save them, and how I’d burn this place down and kill anyone linked to this business.

I went deep in this hidden level, the drab painted black walls and brown carpet covering the ground was barely enlightened though. There were stairs, and as I climbed them, the stream thickened and I sensed distress coming from it.

Going through the door, this time I ended up seeing another scene, I wished I didn’t. On the bed before me were a man and woman going at it.

The man between the young woman’s legs  finally finished spending himself inside her. He kissed her, but I didn’t see her react at all. The man had at least twenty years on her, looking pasty white with a bald head. He seemed heavy, too. Pushing himself off her, he went into the bathroom adjoined with the room. The young woman finally reacted, sitting up and looking at herself. She was beautiful. I couldn’t guess at her ethnic heritage as her skin was a warm ivory, her eyes and hair a rich brown color. She was taller than I and in shape– the kind of body you attribute to a dancer.

Her face was heart shaped, a pert nose and refined cheekbones. She was a woman who belonged on  magazine covers. I’d never felt this inadequate in my life, and I knew that I was beautiful, but her beauty was on a whole other level. 

I watched her for a long moment as she gazed at her hands, and entered in deep introspection. I felt the distress and self-loathing she exuded; she didn’t want to be here, she didn’t want to let that man or any man touch her this way again. But she was powerless, a slave, and… The young woman suddenly looked at me as if she could see me.

We looked at each other for three seconds, and when she glanced at the bathroom door, I was reassured. Her gaze returned to me again, though. “You! What are you doing here?” She sputtered, attempting to cover her naked form with a pillow. Then she covered herself with a pillow.

I flinched and said dumbly, “Wait, y-you can see me?”

It shouldn’t be possible. I am in astral form and she is a-

The woman glared at me. “Of course I can see you! Did Anton send you to assist me?”

I gaped at her forwardness. Meanwhile, feelings of worry, a sense of déja vu and a sense of familiarity gradually filled her as she took me in. She gathered her hair and styled it into a loose chignon. This Anton person didn’t rate much in her memories.

“No, I was looking for someone to help me.”

The statement seemed to have dislodged free a memory in her brain, and when I watched it unfold, I saw myself saying those same exact words. *What the hell?!*

The ivory skinned beauty left the bed, standing. She didn’t try to reach for me and there were two expressions battling on her face: anger and relief. “You took your damn time!”

“Huh, what?” She unsettled me as what she thought and felt didn’t make sense to me.

Her glare intensified. I didn’t know why she felt so familiar with me, but it seemed that she would explain everything to me whether I wanted it or not. “I’ve been waiting for someone to come free me. I can see the future! One year ago, before Anton forced me into this place, you appeared to me in a vision.”

I raised a hand, halting her speech. “Okay, wait.”

What are the chances that I end up finding someone who seemed to have special eyes or some kind of clairvoyance power when I was looking for an ally?

*What’s her name anyway?* As I thought the question, it revealed itself in my mind. Samira Khan, twenty five year old, school drop out, forced into prostitution by her uncle under some asshole called Anton Popov– the boss of this bordelo.

Samira neared, and her voice held a desperate tinge to it. “There’s no need to wait. I will do anything to get free, please.”

Her eyes held no tears; they must’ve dried long ago with everything that had been done to her,but my empathic ability sensed that she was on the verge, at least mentally. There was no way that I would leave her there. And I couldn’t say no to such a beauty… down Jean! You have Cindy!

The teenage hormones finally calmed down when I stomped on them with my control, allowing me to think rationally. The fact that Samira had precog powers changed nothing; she was perfect for me. “If you can see me it means you have powers, either you are like me or…” I thought aloud.

“My grandmother was a soothsayer, well respected in India.” Samira interjected helpfully.

“Okay, Magical lineage, got it. I am going to help you, and we will see what I can do for you.”

“Thanks, really thanks, this… has been a while since I felt hope; but… you are not really here?” She asked, plunging her hand in my astral form before retracting it. I felt nothing when she did it, strange. “Don't worry, my abilities are versatile and powerful. I can manifest my powers from afar.”

Then Marvel chose this exact moment to interrupt us. The rapist exited the bathroom. “Sam, ləv (love) do you need to…”

Before he could finish his sentence, I broke his neck with my TK. With a sickening crack, the naked man fell heavily on the ground. I didn't anticipate my new friend's reaction though.

“Oh my god!” Samira shouted, jumping up in shock. 

She took step backs until she fell on the bed, gazing at me with horror and fear. *Squeamish aren't we?*

“1 of 34, the list is short for once.” I nodded, still feeling how many men were left within the building. Samira stared at me, then at the man who had bought her service. She felt numb to my empathy, until her outburst.  “Y-you killed him!”

I threw a derisive look her way. “What did you think would happen?”

“He was…” Samira was now remembering that he was the less worst of the lot. What he did to Smira was rape as she was an unwilling particapant. A bit of Stockholm syndrome had reared its head.

I choose to use the safest route to achieve my goal. Samira wanted to be free; she might fuck up the process, so I will have her contained. “Samira, I will get you out of here. Though you may want to remain in this room while I go take care of everyone downstairs. You said that you'd do anything, but it seems that you don't want to dirty your hands.”

Samira stared at me like I was the devil who presented her with a tough choice. I snorted, *She will come to my way of thinking sooner or later.*

Her face held anguish until  she balled her hands into fist, reaching the decision  that she was powerless to change anyway. I had already decided to save the women. “Please at least spare the girls!” She blurted out.

I became somewhat offended that she thought that I was a murder hobo or something. “Hey! I didn't intend to kill the women, all the men will be killed though, deal?” Some feminist in my other self’s world would have loved what I am about to do.

“Deal.” Samira accepted, tired. She reached for a reason to want me to just scare them off, but then she remembered what she endured and couldn’t find it within her to forgive any of them. Just like I thought.

And that's when she went into the bathroom so she could clean up and dress to get out of this place. We decided I would kill the guys in the other rooms first while she took charge of bringing the other women to safety with her inside this room.

Once dressed, I told her to let the girls enter the room after I compelled them to seek her out. She nodded with determination. I phased through the door and then went to work. The first room I entered, the guy was beating up the girl because she didn’t react like he wanted. I killed him with a thought by crushing his head.

The girl screamed endlessly at the scene,but I forcefully calmed her down by pushing peaceful feelings to shift her mood. Then I compelled her to go to Samira in the room up the stairs. She grabbed her clothes, limping slightly as she departed.  This routine followed in each room– some of the girls couldn’t move by themselves because of either being too drugged or wounded, so I used my TK to transport them to the other room. 

Ten minutes later, I had finished evacuating the girls from the room, and now I had to do the same for the waitresses. I focused on them, they were still working, even in the kitchen. I snapped the neck of the collaborator though; she was responsible for the bar and the food and also her mind was filth. One by one, the waitresses filed through the secret doors and I compelled them to go to Samira who must’ve been cramped in the room by now with all those women.

When everyone was safe, I blocked the secret bordello door with a table pushed against it, and stacked another on it. Turning towards the bar, the men filling up the booths asked aloud where the girls were. I blocked the door with my TK by overlaying a psionic shield over it; looked at the red lights illuminating the entire place and broke them all by staring at them.

“Kakogo cherta?! (What the hell?!)”

“Verni svet! (Bring back the lights!)”

“Gde devochki? (Where are the girls?)”

“Moy stakan pust! Vodka! Seychas zhe! (My glass is empty! Vodka! Now!)”

The more vocal men reacted badly with the lights going out. Though the last guy I heard made me laugh; he had problems with his priorities. Most of those men present were lieutenants, henchmen and right hands of the Russian mob; there were some Italian, Irish and South american representatives. I failed to care about them so they would die too. 

Just in case I siphoned knowledge from their memories about their organizations, secrets and practices… and it sickened me to my core. Their fate was sealed.

There wasn’t any loud noise when I lifted them all with my mind and began strangling them, some light scuffles and feet beating in the air. Some died of asphyxiation while those who struggled profusely broke their neck. I released them, crushing their skulls into paste when I double tapped them; you never know what might happen if one survived.

I had plans for Samira and now for the girls I’ve saved. This place must not be the only bordello in New York.

Floating toward the secret door, I atomized the stacked tables and passed through it, going to search for the girls. Samira turned toward me. Not only can she see me, but she also senses me.

“It's done. Make them all go outside, by the way do you know the room where they kept all the money?”

Samira looked around her. She  didn't want to speak aloud and make the others think she is crazy. I sighed and said to her, “Speak to me in your thoughts.”

Samira subtly nodded. <They keep the money in a room behind the kitchen. They count it and write in the ledger how much they earn each week. Then they store all the cash in bullet and flame resistant duffel bags to be collected and brought to the drop point.>

I frowned at that; this system was too elaborate for this operation to be the only place controlled by those guys. “It seems all criminals have a streamlined process to launder money.”

There was something that Samira omitted but I decided to not push her too soon. I’d settle for confronting her when we were actually face to face. “Get out of here and bring the girls with you. I will be by soon.”

Samira nodded, heading towards the open door.She turned toward all the others and clapped, the more cognizant ones looked at her. I made them more susceptible to listen to Samira. “Girls follow me, everyone has been dealt with in the club. But please don't look at your feet when you walk out, okay?”

Most of the girls struggled to believe they were going to be free while some others could scarcely believe the situation, but some were full of hope that this nightmare could finally end.

“Dealt with?” A brunette asked, not daring to believe.

The blonde at the brunette's side understood instantly and asked with hope in her tone, “They've been killed?”

Samira gave her a firm nod. “Yes. A person I know decided to save us all. Those who were kidnapped will go home soon.”

Everyone who knew Samira were aware that she was in highest demand and that some of the men offered to make her free but she had always refused. The girls, who knew how the system they were in worked, thought that Samira had slept with someone and asked him or her to save them all. I thought it was sad that they didn't expect that some good samaritan just wanted them to go free.

A girl, my age with pale blonde hair and in underwear whispered, “G-good riddance.” Relief was clear in her stutter; her tormentors and rapists were all dead. Another girl raised her hand as though she was in school.“Are we permitted to take our stuff?” She felt uncomfortable being nude before everyone.

Samira nodded. “Absolutely! But avoid taking too much, those who will stay with me and my friend will be sorted out.”

Everyone in the room was practically naked or in underwear, even I couldn't begrudge them wanting to be decent; it was October and slightly chilly outside. 

I turned to Samira, wondering how she knew what my intentions were. I didn't tell her anything about keeping the girls with us. “How do you know about my plans? I don’t even have something concrete yet, but I do intend to take responsibility for saving them.”

Samira's lips quirked into a smile, her long black dress swishing as she turned to me. <I saw a big apartment building in a vision when I worried about where I would be staying. It was old but well maintained and has thirty apartments.>

The smugness oozing from her gave me the epiphany that I could get headaches even in astral form. Pinching the bridge of my nose, I groaned with  frustration. I could already hear Jessica laughing at me in my mind. “So this is what it feels like when someone frustrates you by knowing stuff about your future.”

Samira's face stayed neutral but I could feel her amusement. <You must have had fun by confounding people with that mind reading.>

I rolled my eyes and floated off the ground. “Yeah, yeah laugh. Something tells me you are worse. So let's go, we don't have a lot of time, and I need to burn this place when we are done.”

Shrugging, I disappeared through the door and descended to the club area, making my way to the kitchen. It was a clean place despite being that kind of establishment.  I used my TK to discover where the money was stored, looking for inconsistencies or simply passed my head through the walls.

I finally found the place and was presented with four duffel bags on shelves. Searching for a safe in the walls and under the carpet, I found it in the wall behind the desk with the counting machine. With an effort of will, I took the safe from the wall that cracked and then began to dismantle the safe and- wow, there was a lot of money inside.

I turned, spotting more duffel bags. With a smile, I filled them with the money from the safe. From the ledger I found on the desk, I counted the money in the bags and the safe, to be about ten million. Millions that will serve me in housing the girls, cloth them and educating them. There was also the fact that I may find other girls, men or little kids who would need my help to get back on their feet. 

Levitating all the duffel bags, I left the room by blasting a hole where the door was supposed to be and proceeded to exit the illegal bordello. The girls paled when they saw all the bags float in the air. Samira nodded at me, then the girls began asking questions to her.

After placing the duffel bags on the nearest isolated roof of an abandoned building, I got back to the girls and looked at the entire structure that housed the bordello and lit it on fire. The fire was so scalding, it would consume every crack and crevice. 

Some of the girls watched with glee at the place burning, others cried, realizing that now they were free. I could empathize with them– if a man or interested party had tried to touch me this way or enslaved me mentally or by other means… burning them would be par for the course.

Looking at the flames, all we had to do now was wait for the authorities to arrive.

 

# # #

 

October 29, 1996
Grey penthouse
03:45 PM

School had been weird this morning. Peter was noticeably more mellow, Jessica and Patsy had a Chesire cat smile plastered to their face, and Gwen was more thoughtful than usual, looking wistfully at Peter. I tried not to meddle in their business but those two really needed to step up their game.

Gwen didn't care that he was spiderman and she told him that clearly at lunch, and she also told him that he should tell his aunt about his other identity before he was found dead and she learned the truth this way. He had tried to play it off as ridiculous and brush her off, but when we all stared at him with hardened, narrowed gazes, he caved under pressure, asking Gwen to come with him after school for the reveal.

Plus, I had added that my parents knew of my powers and were cool with them, so why was he unable to do the same? That was the mature thing to do. 

After school, Cindy came home with me, intending to stay the night. We were about to create our costumes, a kunoichi one for me and a princess Kitana for Cindy. Hers was easier as she just needed a corset, thigh high boots, bracers and clingy leather pants. Mine would be made from scratch of course. I asked uncle Phil for help to get materials such as a leather sheet, cardboard, wood and fifteen steel rods and a lot of reinforced thread. Mom had bought me black leggings and a fishnet top. 

We went into my room, and as I was about to close the door, Mom appeared, leveling me with a look. “Keep the door open, I wouldn’t want you to get too handsy with your girlfriend.”

I gasped in indignation. “MOM!!”

She gave me a saccharine smile. “What? I was young too…” 

She also felt smug at showing off her bantering skills. Cindy giggled at my predicament, making me spin around and glare at her to which she gave me the most beautiful smile. Instantly, my heart melted, and I sighed heavily despite me.

When I turned back to Mom, she wore a knowing smile. “Fine, I will try to not get grabby with Cindy.”

Her head bobbed as she made a slow nod. “That’s all I can ask. I will grab you some snacks later.” With those parting words, she left. 

I walked back to Cindy and sat before her. She clutched a steel rod that she was examining. Then she looked up at me and said, “I like your mom, she's cool.”

She wore a white strap top paired with black shorts. Her fashion sense was asian themed, making her look  tomboyish and cute at the same time. I was a woman of simple tastes, or was it other-self who was? She was the one who infected me with her asian girl fetish.

From the black haired beauty, I felt some happiness for me and a bit of longing and envy. Cindy spoke sporadically of her parents, but the impression I got of them was that they neglected and pushed expectations too high on Cindy. I hugged her mentally, and when she fluttered her eyes shut in delight, she tried reciprocating it. 

Since Cindy knew about my power, I had been constantly showing her  how telepathy worked and she liked it. She never flinched  when I spoke in her mind or mentally kissed or hugged her.

“I love her too.” I finally answered.

Cindy smiled awkwardly and tried to say something, anything. “So…”

This was the first time we were left completely alone, without supervision; we had dates in public spaces or hung out at school. This felt more private, and I’m not gonna lie, I liked it. 

I could see myself sharing my life with Cindy; telepathy and empathy gave me a window into her soul that considerably lowered the amount of time it would take to get to know her and divine what I should do. She was fun as a friend, loyal, funny and pleasant. The possessiveness I felt in her was merely something ephemeral that was engendered by the stressful control her parents and her mother in particular exerted on her life.

Cindy thought what we had was precious but fragile and she didn't suffer any people disrupting our relationship, that was why she didn't like Gwen or anyone male trying to accost me; the little asian knew that I was bisexual. 

“Before we start, I have an offer for you, Cindy.” I had pondered over this long and hard, and it was time Cindy knew of the offer that was on the table. She looked at me and cocked her head. “Oh?”

A long moment of silence passed before I spoke. “Do you want to establish a telepathic link between us two?”

Cindy frowned, a bit uncertain. “Hmm, what would it entail?”

I smiled at her and began to explain what a telepathic link between us would permit us to do. It was basically the power to link minds between two living beings, making them able to share thoughts, memories, emotions or feelings.

Cindy’s eyes bugged out, her shoulders tensing before she  lowered them and mumbled. “This… this is a big step.”

I knew that, but I wanted to just let her know that this option is available to us. I nodded, “Don’t worry. I will wait, babe. I know it's early but I like what I see and feel from you. I don't want to have secrets or walls between us. But, there’s no hurry.”

Finally her shoulders fully relaxed. She wasn’t ready for this; at least not yet, it wasn’t a fear of commitment. But it was akin to what Jessica felt about my powers, it was about the sanctity of her mind. I respected my friends too much to force a telepathic link onto them, but just to tempt Cindy further I added, “Though it would permit us to discuss over a long distance and permit us to locate each other.” 

She felt torn and I smiled at her. Then, I felt a familiar mind nearing the building. It was Phil, and he was surely bringing back the materials I had asked him. I floated the tools I would use to make my costumes from my closet whose door opened and a tool case came flying and settled between me and Cindy. It was five minutes later that uncle Phil arrived with two other agents loaded with most of the things I asked.

“Jean, good afternoon.” Phil stepped into my bedroom, looking first at me, then through the window and different sides of the room. “Cindy.” The agent nodded at my girlfriend.

Cindy waved at Phil who removed his shades to place them in his breast pocket. He shot us a tight smile while the two agents put the two wooden boxes full of materials on the carpet. The steel bars and the leather rolls were poking out the box. As I catalogued mentally the contents of the boxes with my awareness, I discovered it contained extra things like nails or a pneumatic stapler.

I didn’t comment on that and preferred to offer some platitude, “Uncle Phil, I’m sorry you had to do such a menial task but…”

Phil put his hand on my arm. “It’s alright, you don’t want to go everywhere under escort.”

I chuckled darkly. “Yeah, I don’t like standing out.”

I hated it. People from school constantly asked me if I was wealthy, and if I didn’t put my resting bitch face on, they would keep doing it. The kicker had been Harry Osborn asking me how much my parents earned with a smug smile while having Mary Jane glare at me, clutching desperately on his arm. The smug little shit accosted me so that he could replace a redhead for another by throwing enough money to change my preferences.

*For that, I will kill you later Osborn.* I thought in my heart. I had always intended to destroy and kill those goblin fuckers. Peter is my friend and he didn’t need to deal with  that particular brand of evil.

Phil shook his head and gave me a commiserating smile. “I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, Jean. But you failed.”

Hmph. “It doesn’t matter.”

The pneumatic stapler and the electric drill floated out of the boxes thanks to my TK. I lifted my chin and asked Phil, “Do you know how to handle those tools you added in the boxes?”

The agent smiled. “I do.”

I clapped. “Awesome, please could you help us uncle Phil?”

Phil didn’t even think about it and took his jacket off, threw it on my bed and then loosened his black tie. “Girls, let’s get to it.”

My telekinesis was key to most of the process of making a short sword like other self showed me. I took a steel bar and melted it, then using my mind I dissipated the temperature outside the window, making sure to shield Phil and Cindy from it. In a bubble shield I started the process of tempering as there was almost no impurities in the metal. I used the carbon dioxide in the air and transmuted some scrap of steel into iron, then turned it into iron sand. The process of forging took another five minutes.

Transmutation was a recent ability I discovered I possessed, which also was dependent on my knowledge of the periodic table. The short sword, a dull grey, took form. I didn't need something that would last; I just wanted a cheap sword to go with my costume. And that's what I got, it was a cheap blade compared to what I saw the hand ninjas had. The real work would be making the dull blade, sheath, and hilt as beautiful as I could. 

Meanwhile, Phil was occupied with helping Cindy with  the crafting of her bracers made of black leather. It was heartwarming to see her struggle with the tape measure.

I finished crafting a sheath for my short sword. It wasn’t fairly easy to dye the wood and cover and seal it with ornate steel decorations. The cheap sword was complete, it was hard and blunt enough to serve as an icepick. Then I began working on the kunai belt and the disposable throwing one. This was hard as it was a mess of leather strips and metallic threads and staples but it looked rugged. The mask and bracers were easier to craft, thankfully.

Cindy finished before me, and lorded it over me; but my costume was more elaborated. Phil helped me with the metal plate for the armored pieces, it was seven pm when we were finally done. I don’t know where Phil found our mannequins which he placed our costume on but I thanked him with another of my family specialties that I’d baked early this morning before school and gave mom the responsibility to take care of: a Tiramisu cake for after dinner.

 

# # #

 

October 31, 1996
Osborn estate
09:20 PM

Today was the day where everything I had set up for the last two days was going to happen, and I was nervous until I saw Gwen disguised as an elf, a petite and cute one; and Peter was Gandalf, his costume not as complicated as mine. Gewn should’ve opted to go as a fairy because it went better with her stature. Jessica and Patsy were disguised as witches– sexy witches to be accurate. They had on those cute pointy hats, short black dresses, thigh high sock and pointy boots and even crafted their own brooms. 

When I saw Cindy, in her Princess Kitana, I was a goner, drooling. We almost didn’t go to the party as how could I let her out like this? She was so… fuckabl- I mean sexy! When she opened her fans and danced with it, I became mesmerized by the scene. I was well aware of my friends snickering in the background but I couldn’t find it in me to care. We stood outside Cindy’s apartment block when she exited and my eyes were glued on her. A lot of lewd thoughts and acts came into mind, but I felt that it wasn’t possible to do those yet, shit.

Cindy stopped dancing, then laughed wryly at me. “So… finished looking?”

Shaking my head, my eyes still stuck on her, I answered, “No, I could do this all day, but I will stop if you want me to.”

She wrapped her fingers around my arm and pulled me toward the fleet of SUV that would bring us to the location of the party. Cindy looked back for an instant and added, “For now at least.”

When we climbed into the car, I passed the time smooching with Cindy; we had our own vehicle and the others understood that I needed some alone time with her. It seemed Cindy liked my own costume as she repeated that I was ‘super hot’ a lot in her mind.

When we arrived, we had to refresh our makeup. We stepped out of the vehicle and saw there were a lot of people already entering the gate of a sprawling mansion. Honestly, it looked like a castle with its grey walls and black roof; through my spatial sense I guessed that it covered a large area. 

I included the garden which seemed like a total bother to keep maintained well. The castle-like manor had many windows and I felt that there were a lot of security people deployed around it. Pulling me out of my analytic fugue, Cindy pulled me through the gates where Gwen and the others waited for us on the entrance porch.

The sun declined in the background, while we waited for someone to open the door. Glancing down at my costume again, I took inventory. My corset was white with a clasp, a fishnet of the same colour over it, paired with a tattered black scarf, leather bracers and leather metal pauldrons combo. My legs were clad in simple black leggings that were like second skin and thigh high boots with armored knee armor pieces. My leather belt was refined in the last two days, looking like the work of a professional. A majordomo opened the door, he looked in his fifties. We gave our names and showed some ID to enter. Fortunately, Flash had told us about that and we presented our student IDs. We entered the Osborn lair with trepidation and were led to a... ballroom? Norman had a Ballroom?!

It was spacious, and decorated in a very eerie sort of way. There were scary carved pumpkins everywhere with lit candles inside them. Red-orange banners with ‘Happy Halloween’ written on them framed the walls. There were buffet tables at the left and right of the room loaded with food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Nightwish music blared from the speakers placed in the DJ platform at the other end of the ballroom. People were already busting out moves to “Over The Hills And Far Away” while others shook their heads back and forth as if they were into a pogo. The DJ seemed to really like the old stuff, because as the song finished it faded away and switched seamlessly to “Holy Diver” from Dio.

Gwen grasped Peter’s hand, pulling him toward the table with all the various canapes. The little blonde pixie had only come for the food and the dancing. The Jones sisters went on to dance, needing to bleed away all the excitement coursing through them. There were some people I recognized in the crowd because like at school instead of mingling they had separated in clique. The cheerleader squad wore different kinds of outfits, ranging from catgirls to disney princesses. The goths were all vampires or witches, the geeks… they showed diversity, some were disguised as Mario and Luigi, Link, and there was a cute blonde geeky girl who was out as Princess Zelda.

This was taking me back. Without noticing, Cindy had brought me to the drink table where there was a non-alcoholic punch fountain, different kinds of sodas and root beer. There were also many pepsi bottles which pissed me off. No wonder the Osborns were crazy, they are philistine! Heretics! I could tolerate Jessica, as she was  my best friend, but I would be sure to add this sin on the growing list of why the Osborn family must be killed.

I flinched when I felt someone with a rancide and twisted mind coming toward Cindy and I, with someone familiar at his side. Harry Osborn and Mary Jane were the first I’ve seen that were coming up toward me, and I wasn’t surprised to see Norman Osborn with my operative, Samira Khan, on his arm.

The man looked just like Willem Dafoe. I shouldn’t have been surprised, Harry looked a tad like James Franco but with a blend of Willem. Was it this dimension trying to fit my expectation with my knowledge or was it just coincidence?

“Hey, Grey! You came!” Harry waved a hand at me. He was disguised as an Arabian Prince whereas Mary Jane took on the persona of Princess Jasmine.

Harry blatantly ignored Cindy. I waved at him with a fake smile. “Hello, I like what you did with the place.” I indicated at the decor with a hand, to which he shot me a smug smile for. 

My arm snaked around my girlfriend's waist and I projected feelings of love and caring into her. I didn't  want to let her think that I was going to ignore her too. I knew she received the message when she leaned into me. I felt how the action pissed off Harry which brought a genuine smile to my face this time. “Thanks! Dad went all out. By the way, this is he, Norman Osborn.” Harry stepped to the side to let his dad and Samira step toward me.

If this man wasn't Norman Osborn, I might have liked him. His smile was wide and he oozed charisma. Willem Dafoe had been one of my other self’s favorite actors, because he lent his face and voice acted in "Beyond Two Souls" the video game on PS3 in her world. But my other-self knew the guy before us was pure evil, even in his sane days and I trusted that self as much as I did my parents.

“I heard so much about you from Harry, he… didn’t understate how beautiful you were.” I felt Norman's eyes slide all over me and it evoked a slight shudder from me. He held out a hand before me and I masked my disgust as I took it.

Samira, standing at his side, reciprocated my disgust for the act and also hid it. I regretted involving her in my plot if she had to be with that guy all the time. But I didn’t spend a day brainwashing everyone Norman knew to insert Samira in their lives for nothing.

I inclined my head slowly. “It’s an honor to meet you sir.”

Norman retracted his hand, smiling. “Harry said that you were some kind of science whiz. You know, I'm something of a scientist myself.”

Looking carefully at him in his Dracula costume, I quickly recognized the quotes from the first spiderman movie. It was an occasion to troll him! I was good enough to feign admiration. “You wouldn’t be where you are if you weren’t, sir. I read all your research on nanotechnology. Brilliant.”

Norman raised an eyebrow, a spark of interest sparkling in his eyes. “You understood it?”

*If you knew Normie… I have so many plans involving that tech.*

I grinned. “Of course, the only things limiting us to achieving this milestone are computing power and energy generation, Mister Osborn. Can you imagine what we would be able to do with that technology? Building new materials only seen in science fiction, or adapting this tech into our medical science? There would be no HIV, cancer would be something of the past and genetic defects nonexistent.”

*Producing nano-plagues or nano-drones able to see and hear everything their host does.* I didn’t say that aloud, not wanting to give him any ideas. My gaze briefly slid to Harry who looked wounded that his father had taken such an interest in me in barely two sentences. His little heart screamed 'notice me too daddy,' which was actually really sad to see. Though it didn’t detract me from my decision from killing father and son, I still felt for him.

Norman’s smile was dashing.“Impressive. You can already guess the sociocultural ramification that introducing such technology would bring. You have beauty and brains, Miss Grey. Your parents must be very proud of you Miss Grey.”

I put a genuine smile on my face. “I do my best to give back all the support they give me.”

“What a good daughter.” Norman whispered, glaring slightly at Harry who lowered his eyes shamefully. The boy was saved by the fact that Samira placed a hand on Norman's elbow.

The businessman's face lit up as he looked at Samira. “Ah, sorry I forgot, darling. Miss Grey this is Talia Al’Gul, my girlfriend.”

Samira gave me a blinding smile. “Enchanted.”

I nodded. “Same, you look fantastic in this purple sari.”

Watching Norman, I noticed he was smitten. He hadn't felt this feeling since the death of his wife; the man has been getting a new lease on life. He had no idea that I was the one manipulating his emotions and programmed him to love Samira and provide her with what she wanted. This is what I’d been up to in the last two days, besides making sure all the rescued women were safe.

All thanks to the money I'd hid in Harlem plus the stolen funds from the Russian bordello that I've rescued the girls from. I was the co-owner of a woman shelter located in an old apartment building in Queens able to house sixty people that Samira had secured instantly after the police released her and the girls who had nowhere to go. Some of them had gone back to their families who were happy with their return  and provided help. Others had decided to strike out alone but were given cards with Samira's phone number if things did get too tough or if they were in danger.

It was progress, but we had to do more. So for my next operation I decided to tie up some loose ends and protect Peter and Gwen from the machinations of Osborn who would get too interested in spiderman. I could already see what he had planned for Peter if he ever caught him.

*Really? Human experimentation, Norm? Can’t say it shocks me.* It was just like I expected.

Samira plastered a smile on her face, her expression full of fondness as she watched Morman. “Norm provided it.”

<Damn girl, you should be winning Oscars.> I spoke into her mind. She was able to express herself naturally, to play roles.

I could feel the smouldering waves of smugness rolling off of her. My gaze then fell onto Norman who I decided to compliment. “You know how to treat a lady, Mister Osborn.”

Norman smiled, straightening his spine, clearly pleased with the appraisal. *Bastard.*

 The sound of a phone ringing was heard, and Nomran took his out of his dracula outfit pocket and looked at the screen.

“I am sorry, I must take this.” He said, turning to leave. 

Mary Jane placed her hand on Harry’s shoulder, who looked disappointed. She stared at me but I ignored her. I wasn't in the mood for the social games with this trash Princess.

Samira stayed with us, looking at Cindy with interest. Cindy returned the interest, not sexual fortunately, but it was like admiring a beautiful painting. 

“Who is the lovely lady at your side?” Samira asked with a smile in her voice.

<Who is she to you, Jean? Don’t keep me in the dark.> Samira projected her thoughts loudly to me.

I rolled my eyes. Samira had been curious about me and my abilities;it was like she lived vicariously through me. “My girlfriend, her name is Cindy. Sorry if she's silent, she's a bit intimidated.”

Cindy slapped my arm playfully. “No I'm not.” Then her gaze slid over Samira again. “She's just… I mean, did you look at her?”

I was already used to looking at Samira. The woman had no modesty left anymore, as she pranced in her new condo that she bought with my money completely nude. “Yes, Cin. She's easily a ten.”

Smiling, Samira advanced toward the girls and patted their shoulders. “Girls, don't worry, when you are out of your teenage years, I am sure you'll be just like me. Beauty is mostly taking care of your health and how you carry yourself.”

Mulling over what she said, I nodded. “Nice advice, I am happy that I already have good habits of eating healthy and doing martial arts then.”

Harry’s eyes showed his skepticism as he spoke,“Wow Grey, you are a martial artist?” I almost forgot that the little bastard was there. “Yep.” I clipped, not bothering to elaborate. Then, I sized him up from top to bottom.“It also counts for guys too, you know, Osborn. MJ also works hard to stay in shape.”

Harry wasn’t at his physical peak, he was tall and gangly and I was certain that if he wasn’t rich, the redhead clinging to his arm wouldn’t give him the time of day. Speaking of Mary Jane Watson, she decided to participate in the conversation. “Hum yes… I am a cheerleader, we have to be in top form physically to stay on the team. The coach put us on a special diet to develop our muscles and gave us exercises to be agile and bendy.”

I saw her on the football field and in the gymnasium, she is indeed... flexible enough for all the figures the school does.

“Not just a cheerleader MJ, you are the vice-captain!” Harry added, throwing an arm around her shoulders. 

MJ preened. “Yes, I am.”

The music changed from rock to a slow song more suited for couple dancing. Cindy and I looked at each other at the same time, smiling.“Time for some dancing, Princess Kitana.”

I waved at Harry and MJ as Cindy pulled me to the dance floor. We danced on a Shania Twain song called “From this moment on” for three minutes or so. Then it suddenly passed to a younger generation of singers like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. After dancing till our legs ached we went for some drinks. While eating and drinking, Cindy poked me in the side and indicated to where Patsy was, dancing with a boy too old for her.  I didn’t go there to stop it; we taught her how to take care of herself. As for Jessica, she stood near her sister, dancing with one of the football jocks, a black guy who was all muscle, who was disguised as Captain America.

“You know, they can take care of themselves.” I spoke, leaning  against a wall. Cindy mimicked me and filled my plastic cup with one of the bottles of water available.

Cindy smiled patronizingly at me. “Yes, but it doesn’t cost us anything to keep an eye on them. They would do the same for us.”

She had a point, “I guess you are right...”

“That’s going to happen a lot in our relationship.” Cindy laughed and leaned against me.

I kissed her cheek and seductively whispered into her ear, “Say, are you going to come home with me?”

I didn’t imply that I wanted to sleep with her, this was too fast; but having her in my arms when I woke up? It’d be pure bliss. 

“Aren’t we moving too fast, Jean?” Cindy mumbled, lowering her eyes. Her flushed cheeks were visible even under the low light environment of the ballroom. 

It was cute. I replied with all the certainty of knowing myself and my inner desires, “Cin, I know what I want, and I want you.”

It’s another thing that meditation brought me; I focused on myself and entered into deep introspection often.

She looked into my eyes, and must’ve found what she was searching for, as a chuckle left her. Her arm went around my waist, and she leaned in, huskily whispering, “I like that you can just look at me and say what you think, you don’t play games. You are not trying to control me or tell me what to do.”

“I would never do that to you, I respect you too much.” I delicately caressed her cheek and kissed her full on the mouth, she opened her mouth and our tongues duelled for a minute or two.

We came back for air, and Cindy smiled while  I continued to be distracted by her cuteness. “It’s not just your body I like.” Cindy was stunning, but what also attracted me the most was her energy, her mind, her thought process and how obsessed she was with hockey and science.

She glued herself to me, looking earnestly into my eyes. “I can say the same for you. I’m not gonna lie, at first it was just that. I mean you are a really beautiful girl, but now I know there’s more to you, Jean.”

“You kind of caught my attention when you pulled me in the girl’s toilet to kiss the hell out of me too, huh. But whatever magic spell you put on me, Cin, I just like passing time with you. I know... we are in a sort of testing phase for now. But I want to be with you more, know more about you.”

“We have all the time in the world.” With that, she grabbed my hand and pulled me back to the dance floor where we busted out some moves to some Spice Girls song whose title I forgot.

Parties were not so bad. We mostly danced, drank and fed on the free food; and the buffet kept getting fancier with the caterers delivering slowly on the table's new dishes. The party stretched well past midnight and came to an end when the DJ thanked everyone for coming and that souvenirs would be distributed at the mansion's exit.

“Damn, this Halloween party was awesome!”

“Hell yeah!”

“The DJ diversified the music genres to include everyone's tastes, rap, r&b, rock… it was a pro I think.”

My friend had a really good time it seems. We were about to leave the ballroom when Harry stopped us. He was all smiles. “Thanks for coming Grey, I hope you had fun! Your friends too.”

“It was a good party, my first actually.” The statement was true as I had never been invited to a party that wasn’t made for family.

Harry’s smile fell, his gaze shooting to my friend’s to figure out if I was joking.“You're kidding right?”

He thought it weird that a gorgeous girl like me had never gone to a party but I was a loner before high school and had a serious case of misanthropy.

“Nope, thanks Harry.” I held my hand to him.

Harry smiled and shook it. I used this brief contact to forge a minor telepathic bond that I intend to use for the second phase of my plan to destroy the Osborns. Just like that, my dominoes were all in place and I was about to kick a hornet nest.

“Goodbye.”

 

# # # 

(Harry Osborn)

 

November 1st, 1996
Osborn Mansion
07:01 AM

 

Friday was All Saints' Day, and Harry jolted up from his bed, sweating and panting from his nightmare. His bedroom was dark, but when he clapped his hands, everything was illuminated. The tastefully decorated white ceiling had lights placed strategically to distribute as much light as possible, not letting any spot of darkness in the room.

Harry stripped out his t-shirt, leaving his boxers and slippers on. The room was tastefully furnished. There was a desk with the latest generation of computers placed at the end of the room opposite the bed, a walk-in closet and expensive white and blue carpets on the marble tiles. 

The blue walls were loaded with posters of models between the wooden shelves showing trophies for sports such as tennis or badminton, cycling and other activities. To his misfortune Harry had never received any acknowledgment from his dad for his triumphs. Their relationship was strained as Norman believed Harry didn’t apply himself enough. But to Harry, science was just not his thing. He remembered how idiotic he felt last night when Jean Grey spoke with his father. It was as though they were speaking in chinese, and he  couldn’t follow. Nanotechnology? All he knew about it was that it was manipulation of matter on a molecular level and nothing much. His father would get on his case for not knowing the family business that he would inherit later. He walked up to the window, the sun wasn’t up yet. His thoughts were churning.

“But I don’t want the fucking company!” Harry raged, bashing his fist against the metal window frame. 

<Then what do you want?> A voice whispered.

Harry turned and looked into his room. “Who is there?!”

He couldn’t decipher whether the voice belonged to a male or female. “Hello?”

“I-it must be nothing.” He stuttered, a pathetic way to make him feel at ease. 

There were mirrors at each side of his bed and when he neared them, he noticed his reflection smiling back at him. He stopped, moved his hand and saw his reflection didn’t follow the movement, his smirk growing bigger. <Hello Harry.> It was his voice! It was his reflection! But it was completely different from how he carried himself.

Harry demanded loudly, “The fuck are you?!”

<Tut-tut-tut, don’t play innocent Harry, you know who I am.> His double sneered at him.

“N-no, I don’t.” He took a step back, and his heartbeat skyrocketed when he saw his double step out the mirror. 

Evil Harry pointed his fingers at the original. <Did you think you could escape from yourself? I have always been with you. Even when you were crying yourself to sleep when daddy wouldn’t come home to take care of your sorry ass.>

Harry’s face darkened as he heard his evil twin belittle him. “Fuck you! You know nothing about me!”

Evil Harry pushed him on the bed. <Of course I do! I even know what you want, every single time something isn’t going your way.>

His double was on Harry as he was about to stand from the bed. Evil Harry lifted him from it with a hand on his neck. <I want to do what you can’t, I want to say what you want, To remove those in your way. Like that fucking indian whore who is suckling on our dad.>

Harry beat on his double’s arm, kicking him, but all his attempts were in vain. “Fuck you! I’m not…”

Evil Harry’s expression became stone cold, showing a disappointed expression. <Maybe Norman is right, you are too fucking useless to do what needs to be done.> Releasing him, Evil Harry returned to the mirror, cackling loudly at the little boy in his bed.

At that, Harry looked back at the mirror with fury and stomped toward the reflective surface and punched it, realizing too late that his reflection had stopped acting weirdly. The glass shattered, shards flying everywhere, falling to the ground, along with the blood dripping from Harry’s hand.

“Shit.”

 

# # #

 

“So boy, why did you break the mirror? Do you have any image issues I should be made aware of?” Norman pressed, seated on a black leather sofa, holding a coffee mug. Harry faced him, not making eye contact. The majordomo had called their family doctor who had ignored his practice to take the mirror shards out of the young man’s knuckles. For Harry, it had been painful and somewhat humiliating. “No, Dad.”

Talia was sitting at Norman’s side. Her gaze skated between father and son, looking a bit lost. “Norman, maybe I shouldn’t be here. It seems rather personal…”

The older Osborn turned to the half indian beauty and put a hand on her thigh. She was wearing a tight white dress that would put any man aflame. Harry was attracted to her, but he considered her to be a hindrance and a gold digger having taken more and more of his dad’s time.

Norman gave her a warm smile, and patted her thigh. “Nonsense, Talia. You are going to be the woman of the family, and being able to communicate with Harry and know what troubles him is going to be one of your tasks. You are already part of the family, dear. You aren’t an intruder.”

Harry’s eyebrows shot up to his forehead once his father's words sunk in. “Wait, wait, wait? What do you mean dad?”

“Oh, I wanted to tell you over breakfast but you had to hurt yourself with your mirror. Talia has agreed to marry me.”

<You see, you are nothing to him.> Evil Harry whispered into his mind.

Harry’s left hand tightened into a fist, glaring icily at the woman. His hatred burned and if looks could kill, Talia would be dead.  Talia looked at the young man with what could be called a neutral expression. Harry couldn’t guess what she thought. He barely tolerated her since she invited herself into their lives a year ago and… 

Harry frowned, it was weird. He didn’t remember exactly when she appeared! Memories flooded into his brain, and his confusion slipped away as the memories flooded in. He now recalled how she had been seeing his dad in secret. It seemed his father liked them young. Harry remembered how he basically hit on Jean when she had her girlfriend on her arm.

The young Osborn looked at his father with utter disgust. “Congratulations, father. Talia.”

“Thanks, boy.” Norman gave him a tight smile that failed to reach his eyes when he noticed that Harry wasn’t calling him dad anymore.

# # #

 

<He has forsaken you.> Evil Harry appeared instantly once the young Osborn arrived in his bedroom.

“Shut up.” Harry sprawled across his bed, placing his hands over his ears. Evil Harry looked furious as he ranted. <It’s clear that he has already written you off, He will marry her and make another son. One smarter and more pliant than you.>

“SHUT UP!!!” Blood lust rose from Harry as he jumped off his bed, staring straight at his evil double who  didn't look happy either.

<You know I am right, you saw it in his eyes.>

Harry stiffened. Norman's indifferent gaze had shocked Harry. He sat on his bed and began his introspective reflection. His dad had changed after his mother died, neglecting his fatherly duties and burying himself in his work. As the years passed by, Harry noticed how Norman became a ruthless, ambitious, paranoid, troubled and disturbed man.

His dad was extremely smart and intelligent, skilled in mathematics and science, possessing an immense knowledge of chemistry and the side-effects of drugs on humans and animals. Then suddenly, he became obsessed with his legacy and focused entirely on Harry for a period of time, attempting to make him a replica of himself. He had even forced him to attend  Midtown High, a science focused school.

Harry's talent laid in the physical side, he was mildly smart but not a genius like his dad. Norman had been forcing Harry to be more studious and tried to have him tutored in science but it was futile; Harry would never  be more than passably knowledgeable in the fields that his dad mastered. Since then, Harry’s father made him feel that he was no good, a failure.

<Yes, to him you are a failure.> Harry’s mind and emotion subtly shifted as his evil twin whispered his acquiescence.

“What should I do? I-I don’t want to be irrelevant! I tried! I really tried to be worthy! To make him love me!” Harry stood up from his bed and began to pace on the carpet, his hand behind his back for a minute before his evil twin appeared with a devilish smile. His eyes glimmered with promises that screamed trouble. 

<It’s easy. Take your gun and kill the bitch.> Evil Harry looked deadly serious.

He owned a weapon. He had stolen it from the security command center purely because he thought it’d be fun. He’d something that he had stolen from the security command center because it had looked fun at first and he had kept it in his closet, hidden in a strongbox.

Harry stood there, paralyzed by this horrible advice. “No, no, no, no, no!” He repeated, shaking his head frantically, his facial trait taking on a vehement expression.

<Why not?>

“It’s wrong! WRONG!” Harry bellowed, panting from ehaustion because of all the high emotions running high within him. 

Evil Harry shrugged his shoulders, staring remorselessly into his eyes. <So? Dad did worse, remember?>

Harry squeezed his eyes close. He was right, he knew how his dad did business… It was a year ago when Harry witnessed his dad killing a man for his research, then ordering security to get rid of the body. Harry’s emotion shifted again, *Why do I seek to be loved by that monster?*

<Yes, why?> Evil Harry laughed like a demon.

 

# # #

 

07:02 PM
Norman’s study

Harry stood before the door in his a black shirt over a white cotton T-shirt with ripped blue jeans. He no longer cared about the dress code his father had imposed upon him. He knocked and waited. He’d been thinking of speaking with his father and asking him more about this marriage he was planning to go through with. At his side, his evil double waited with a nonchalant smile for the discussion to happen. When he heard a bit of a scuffle and two voices in the room, he frowned. Evil Harry chuckled. <They were fucking.>

After another minute and knocking, Harry heard the commanding voice of his father, “Enter.”

Harry’s face darkened, and he slowly opened the door. No wonder his father had no time for him lately if he kept getting distracted by his new squeeze!

<You already lost him a long time ago, Harrykin.> Evil Harry whispered.

His emotions shifting, Harry remembered the neglect and the cry for attention for his last family member, all ignored. “Right, I did, didn't I?”

“Good evening, father.”

Norman, who sat behind his desk wore a dark business suit with a red tie that looked ruffled  Talia also looked unkempt, her face flushed and her white sari looking wrinkled from being put on hastily. She stood at Norman's side as if it had always been her place. 

Harry frowned at her. She didn't even acknowledge him, kissed Norman on the cheek, whispering something in his ear and began to leave. As she walked up to Harry, she nodded at him and exited the study. The lingering scent of her jasmine perfume filled the room and her absence was a loud statement. 

Norman looked irritated as he spoke. “Son? You couldn't have come at a more… inopportune time.”

Snort. “Really, is that all you have to say?” He scoffed, looking derisively at his father with a mocking smile.

Norman's eyes widened, then his expression slackened and with a neutral but threatening tone said to his son, “Harry, don’t take that tone with me.”

Harry laughed. “I would listen to you, if you deserved it father.”

Norman was shocked. He’d expected his son to cower at his expression and say something to try to please him but Harry  didn’t move an inch, holding his stare in defiance. “Harry? Boy, what's got into you?”

Harry cackled. “What's got into me father? I AM TIRED.” He didn’t shout or throw a tantrum, just expressed how he felt for over ten years since his mother died.

Norman’s shocked expression remained, and the expression of utter disdain and disinterest on his face shouldn’t be there. He had wanted his son to become stronger, independent and less cowardly, but disrespecting and uncaring toward his own family member? No!

Harry’s gun behind his back burned a hole in his belt. “I am tired of you pushing your expectations onto me!!! I-I want to stop, it’s not worth it anymore. I wanted my dad back but instead all that’s left of him is that evil guy in his skin. I am done waiting for you to stop your bullshit.”

Confiding in his own father about what he thought about him, Harry didn’t know the effect it was having on his father. Harry was about to turn to leave when his father raised his hand making him stop.

Norman passed his hand in his hair, leaned in his office chair and tried to explain. “It may seem this way, but I want what's best for you Harry. I wanted you to be able to take my place.”

“Then why force me to go to a school that I don't care for? I don't want your company, it's not worth the trouble it would bring.” Harry had friends in his previous school, real friends. At Midtown High, he had to bribe the jocks so they wouldn’t bully him at the start. Even to obtain Mary Jane’s affection, he had to break out his black credit card and slave away while shopping. At least he had fucked the little redheaded trollop.

“Harry, I was dying.” Norman announced. 

“What?!”

“Retroviral Hypodysplasia, a rare, genetic, incurable disease. Our family curse. I tried very hard to find a cure for it. I thought I did when I… when I created the culmination of all my research.” Norman opened a drawer, retrieved a folder full of papers, and placed it on the desk. 

Opening the folder, Norman showed pictures of people with deformities varying from nails turning to  narrow dirty claws to canines lengthening to resemble fangs and greenish skin. Harry looked from the pictures to his father. Then he took the folder and began to read the complete file. It was ten minutes later when he threw the folder on Norman’s desk.

With suspicion, Harry looked at his father. “Why aren’t you…”

Sighing heavily, Norman rose from his chair and walked up to the portrait of his late wife, Harry’s mother, Emily Lyman. Harry’s father pushed the golden plaque under the portrait of Emily and the painting slid aside revealing a silvery metal safe. He punched in a code on the keyboard, and placed his thumbs on the fingerprint reader. The safe opened with a hiss.  

Plunging his hand in the safe, Norman extracted a covered vial that contained a greenish liquid. “This is the Oz Serum. It is a biogenic chemical compound developed by Dr. Mendel Stromm and his assistant Dr. Nels van Adder. It’s able to augment the human body similarly to the Super-Soldier Serum.”

Norman put the vial on his desk and stared at his son, beaming. His eyes held an insane glint to them.  “This serum has cured me! The curse of our family no longer plagued me! It was exhilarating, son! I WAS FREE! The Oz Serum has made me stronger, smarter and faster! A superman! But... the formula was imperfect.”

Evil Harry shook his head. <There’s always a catch, Dad, those type of things must have side effects.>

Real Harry heard that and looked at his dad with distress. “There were side effects?”

“Yes.” Norman simply looked apathetically at his son.

“What are they, father?” Harry asked, his face a blank canvas now, mirroring his fathers. As if he was explaining this to a child, Norman began to dessert.“The formula is unstable, the process rendered the test subjects insanely violent and aggressive. It also induces dissociative identity disorder. With bouts of psychotic urges manifested as a new... identity.”

All of a sudden, Harry felt unsafe, but he masked his fear. “You are cured, right?”

Norman chuckled. “Cured? I am not. I live with the goblin in my head, and this time I am in control of my body. He has a particular soft pot for Talia and is in love with her.”

Harry’s emotions raged inside him, he was lost between pitying his father and anger for not telling him about his condition. “Wait! FATHER, why have you never told me about this? Is it recent? Is…” *Is it  because of this serum you neglected me?* Harry asked in his heart.

Norman squinted his eyes, noticing his son’s strange behaviour. He’d become twitchy, unfocused and his eyes held the same insane glint in his own that he’d been seeing in the mirror every morning since his goblin persona awakened. “Son, it’s… I injected myself with it six months ago.”

Harry’s emotions completely shifted, raw and darker emotions such as rage, hatred and fear found themselves amplified. “I see. Do you think it makes it okay what you have been doing to me?” Harry took the gun from behind his back, cocked it and pointed it at Norman in one movement.

Norman raised his hands, his face soaked in shock.“Harry. Listen, boy. You don’t want to do this.”

Harry’s palms felt sweaty, his heart thrashing violently in his chest, begging to be let out. “Give me a reason, anything… please. I… you are a monster father, and I feel- no I know that I am becoming one too. I feel… that I should have joined mom. Maybe that’s why she faked her death.”

It was as if Norman’s world sank around him at this revelation. Everything he had done was suddenly put in perspective. “She what?!” He continued on, basking in pride that he’d finally broken the calm facade his father usually had on. “Oh you didn’t know? Mom had begged me to come with her, but I pitied you, I loved you dad. I thought how unfair it was to leave you all alone. But now? I see how right mom was. You don’t know what love is and you have no fucking honor. You stole doctor Stromm research, right?”

Norman’s face became dark, a crazy snarl escaping him as he suddenly lunged toward his son at a speed that defied comprehension. However, the Colt 1911 in Harry’s left hand fired off repeatedly and the full pistol clip emptied into Norman’s body. Two bullets pierced his eyes and reached his brain, four were placed in the center of his body and two were fired in each of his kneecaps.

Harry was horrified by what just happened; he hadn’t intended to fire. Norman’s hand reached Harry’s weapon and he fell on his knee at the same time, blood spewed from his mouth. His eyes held endless sadness as he stared at his son. “I-I am so...rry, I... wasn’t... much of a father.”

Harry’s gun clattered to the ground and his father fell back first on the lacquered wooden panels. There was blood pooling everywhere. When the  haze of rage finally lifted from the young man, he looked at what his actions did and fell to his knees. Harry’s hands were on his father trying to stave off the bleeding, in vain.

“No! No! Dad! Stay with me, I am sorry!”

Evil Harry appeared at his side whispering. <Aww, big baby cannot take it? You just killed him. Just like you wanted, congratulations, you are a man.>

Harry glared balefully at his evil double. “Shut up shut up shut up!”

<You killed your dad because he didn’t have time for you.> Harry tried blocking out the taunts, but to no avail. The mocking laughter simply persisted. Bang! The room to the study opened violently and Talia appeared. Her gaze bounced from Harry to Norman. Her eyes slowly widened and she screamed. She pushed Harry away from Norman and began to sob. “Norman, darling!”

“S...so-rry lov-” Norman choked, and then he was gone. 

Red appeared before Harry and he glared at Talia. “This is your fault.”

Talia couldn’t stop wailing, hugging the body of Norman. As she cried, Harry took his gun and changed the clip

“If you hadn’t come into our lives, this wouldn’t have happened.” Harry pointed his colt at Talia, who stared up at him with horror in her gaze. 

Grinning madly, Harry was about to shoot her too when two loud bangs resonated in the room and he felt pain in his chest. Blood bloomed  on his white shirt and he turned to see Majordomo with a pistol whose barrel was still smoking. “Fuck.” His gun clattered on the ground once again.

He tumbled to the ground, falling on his back, witnessing evil Harry smiling at him once again. His double’s form began to shift and shimmer to be replaced by a gorgeous young woman with a red mane of hair staring at him as though he was so much dirt on her shoes. 

“So I am really crazy.” Harry admitted aloud, looking at the familiar form of the young woman he had fantasized about, or was it another mirage his mind conjured?

“Stay there and die, worm.” The ethereal Jean spat with scorn, her expression one of utter disgust.As the security agents employed by Norman burst through the entrance of the study, darkness took Harry Osborn.

 

# # #

 

Back with Jean...
12:32 AM
Oscorp HQ

 

I didn’t feel guilty at all. As I looked at my hands, I felt no remorse or disgust for myself as I remembered how I pushed Harry to kill his father and later get himself killed by the private security of his own house. I manipulated everything and everyone beside Samira. She has become my accomplice, in my erasing of the Osborns from the face of the earth. 

Though she doesn't care either way, after I showed her what Norman is all about, taking his money and his company would be a good settlement for how much he had touched her. Talia had found the man disgusting and had told me it was the last time she was going to do the honey trap plan, I couldn't begrudge her.

Oscorp was a tall building, at least forty story high, and it was the crowning achievement of Norman Osborn and Otto Octavius. The two men knew each other since college, sharing the same vision to “change the world” so they decided to start a business. They chose to  add the word "Corp" to their nickname the "O's", thus creating the name for Oscorp.

Jokes were on Otto when Norman sidelined him and took control of the company, and cheated him from his settlement money when he gave his controlling share to him. It made me laugh. Norman had no loyalty or hono and I was elated to have gone Goblin Slayer on his ass and killed him and his spawn.

*But it also shows that Otto was the philanthropist and Norman the money grubber.* 

I hoped to be able to hire Otto later, and exploit his smarts in good faith and actually advance society. Earth needed to be at least at the level of most star societies out there to be able to withstand the obstacles heading its way. The Kree, Thanos, the Skrulls, a lot of other aliens. There would be many invasions in the next twenty years because those alien fuckers either want to harvest our DNA and conquer us, or want those infinity stones stashed on the planet.

“The first steps to enact big changes are here.” I floated with the six armored shipping containers at my side in a pose that could be called Magnetoesque over the Oscorp skyscraper.

Not wanting to exhaust my astral body that had been out influencing Harry for almost the entire day, I decided that I would attack Oscorp myself and use it sparsely. I wore a catsuit and boots that I made someone else buy for me with a dark cloak and mask obscuring my face. I wore gloves to avoid giving away my identity as I was going to touch a lot of things today.

“It’s almost Black Friday anyway. If you are going to hit someone, then it ought to be the fat, jiggling meat of unethical, greedy CEOs, right?” I snickered, landing on the roof with the containers.

Kneeling on the ground I pushed my spatial awareness toward the entire building till I reached the foundations. Throughout the forty floors I could feel everything happening into it, there were still people working, a simple scan of their minds showed scientists and security guards making their rounds. A smile stretched across my face. It couldn’t have been any easier. 

Norman and Harry’s death must have kicked the metaphorical hornets nest and panicked everyone concerned. I projected myself in astral form to do a quick possession of the chief security guard. Opening my eyes, I was smackdab into the command center, looking at the screens showing most of the floors. What interested me was the R&D divisions. As I downloaded the floor plans from the chief’s mind I realized that they were in the basement.

I cursed, letting go of the chief’s mind and putting him asleep at the same instant. My astral form drifted lower, phasing through the floors. I passed through the administrative floors and the reception rooms at high speed until I phased in an elevator shaft until I reached the bottom of it two hundred meters deep. *Wow, Normie you don’t joke about the safety of your R&D department.*

When I phased through the door, the futuristic look of everything struck me. It was as if I was in a TNG episode. I could get lost in there; there were so many rooms to explore! But I didn’t have the time for that. I expanded my mental field to the entire R&D basement, compelling everyone present to sleep. Feeling the minds all around me drift into sleep, I swifty returned to my body on the roof.

Breathing in and out, I flexed my will and seized the armored containers and lifted from the ground to swiftly descend at the feet of Oscorp tower. I touched down before the entrance and opened a hole by destroying the gates and enlarged it with my TK by turning the steel and glass into particles. I entered the building with the containers floating by following me.

With a sweep of my right arm I swept away the furniture from the welcome area of the lobby, making space for my containers to pass. After a little walk, we arrived at the elevator space. The door opened as if a giant tore them down and I placed all my containers in a row before the opened elevator shaft. I levitated and dived into the shaft, the air of my controlled fall disturbing my cloak.

Two hundred meters down I stopped again in person before the door of the R&D department and it fell apart in fine particles before me. As I put a foot on the ground, I looked at the receiving area. A laugh bubbled out of me; there was no one to stop me. I skipped as I walked toward the end of the area. There was a card reader near the door to allow access but I disintegrated it too and began my acquisition trip.

I was aware that I was taking risks right now, that I could get caught by the police or something like that but, the riskier the road, the greater the profit. I couldn't pass up taking everything worth money, and the future from Oscorp. I arrived at some kind of main corridor with a vaulted gray ceiling, on the left and right there were doors that surely gave on different labs.

Going for the first door, it opened with a wave  and I wasn't surprised to see a room full of shelves loaded with terrariums, filled with different species of insects and arachnids; this made me smile. In the center of the room was a blocky computer linked to multiple memory banks and a radiation projector that looked like a cannon whose end was a satellite dish.

I think I just found Cindy's birthday present. I looked for the spiders and when I found them I looked through them for the number forty-two. 

Some of them were already dead but fortunately, it seemed that luck was with me. “Ah, there you are my beauty!” I took terrarium number forty two from its shelf and let it orbit around me. Spider forty-two was the only one left alive and I sure hoped it was the one that would allow my girlfriend to attain her iconic super powers. 

There were many file cabinets on the wall near the scarab aisle, and I walked up to it, searching through them for the files on the spiders. *Got them!* I let those orbit around me too, floating and following me as I levitated toward the exit and the next lab that gave me hope for the future as I finally found where they kept all the computers. Desktop and laptops and supercomputers. 

They were all offline. 

Fortunately, I didn’t bother choosing; I took them all, unplugging them from the walls and also making them follow me to the next room. My acquisition spree continued for over an hour where I had to go up the elevator shaft back and forth to load everything in the armored containers. Secreted in my messenger bag were twenty vials of Oz Serums that I found when I breached Norman’s private lab.

I took Doctor Connor’s formula, the Rhino armor prototype, the exo-suit that would be better known as the goblin armor and the glider prototype. The first prototype of what would become the scorpion suit and some kind of fancy gauntlets were also there- a good haul. I pilfered everything, even if it was bolted down.

I also stole the computers and files that were in the rooms, the delicate lab tools and furniture were also loaded in the containers that suddenly didn’t seem to be enough for all the gear, tools and hardware I stole. There was only one lab left before I moved on and hid the containers in the private warehouse in Forest Hills.

At the same time, I evacuated everyone who was sleeping in the labs to the lobby at the entrance of the skyscraper. I couldn't let anyone down there with good conscience when I was going to torch the labs down. Floating to the last laboratory at the end of the huge corridor, I opened the door, and was taken aback by surprise when I saw someone awake inside. 

He had a bowl-like haircut, wore round glasses and a lab coat covered a middle range grey business suit. With a quick probe of his mind, I realized that this was doctor Otto. *Weird, what is he doing here? And why is he fucking awake?!*

“Who are you?! W-what are you doing?!” His eyes widened like saucers when he saw the gear floating and following me around.

The half face mask on my face showed my lips that curved into a smile. I placed a finger before my mouth. “Shhh.” And I pushed a suggestion in his mind about sleeping. He fell like a sack  of potatoes on the ground, but I didn’t let his head impact it. Floating toward him, I took off my right glove and touched his forehead with two fingers.

“You are one of the most intelligent men on Earth. I’m going to copy everything.” I spoke, beginning to replicate Otto’s skills and knowledge, taking care to not download any memory of his. Otto Octavius was a multi-discipline scientist with expertise in various fields of science and it fucking hurt to replicate a genius level mind!

“Argh! Damn, I’m not doing this again… Huh, wow I know Quantum physics and I can make a cold fusion reactor- why the hell didn’t he make one?!” I stared at the sleeping Otto as I held onto my head painfully. I laughed through the pain, though. This guy had the power to help a lot of people; he was a brilliant engineer and inventor. Now I was too, having copied everything he knew. I intended to build onto this knowledge.

Then I shrugged. I wasn’t about to let Otto get stuck here; he was too precious for the future. I just hoped he wouldn’t blame me for destroying Oscorp and stealing everyone’s research.

Otto Octavius was made to float with the gear behind me. I looked around me and saw that it wasn’t a lab but more like a storage room. Oh! Otto’s tentacles prosthetics were there too, and what’s that? Rocks? Huh, oh wow, no this is…! I felt life coming from those two rocks which was bizarre and only meant one thing. 

<Klyntar!> The voice of my other self rang into my mind. 

The Klyntars, originally and better known as Symbiotes, were  a species of inorganic, amorphous, symbiotic extraterrestrials created from the “living abyss” at the beginning of the universe by the primordial deity Knull who is a fucking bastard.

I gulped. This was dangerous, but those creatures could be useful, if raised right and could attain perfect symbiosis. *Okay, Jean if you do this, remember: Klyntars are sentient beings, not toys or pets; they deserve love and to be protected, right?* 

With a nudge of my mind, I cracked the rock on the right and one anxiety filled minute later, I felt the mind inside awaken and oh so slowly, a puddle of golden and viscous elastic sludge poured out of the cracks I made from the meteorite on the ground. It looked right and left it seemed, feeling around with their own senses. I crouched slowly before it, allowing my ungloved hand to slowly near the  Klyntar projecting feelings of welcome, protection and promise of friendship toward it thanks to my projective empathy.

<Here, come unite with me. I will protect you and feed you if you promise to never hurt me and those I love.>

The Klyntar rippled for over thirty seconds as it pondered over my words. Finally it made its decision, and reassured by my words, the golden puddle of amorphous sludge slowly advanced toward me and then latched on my hand. It elicited a little scream from me at first and then the symbiote slowly covered all my body in gold. This sensation of being engulfed by something… it scared me a bit. I felt the symbiote insinuate itself into my body, I almost harmed it when I couldn’t take such an invasion, but when I felt it bond with me, something clicked in my head, as if I slotted another CPU on my circuit board.

[Happiness: Greetings.] The Klyntar projected it’s mind-voice and I felt a glow of joy in my mind making my cheeks redden. Its voice was neutral.

*Huh, hi.* I thought aloud, sure that the symbiotes would understand me.

[Mirth: Thankful, I am for finding a host of such power and health on my first landing.] I felt that this golden symbiote was special. I felt that it was still bonding to me, tasting me, scanning my body to look for defects. When it came up empty, I sensed its approval and spoke. *You are a Klyntar, I am... huh, happy to meet you. My name is Jean. Are you sure that you want to bond with me? I am not the nicest person around.* I asked, aware of my own flaws. 

There was no way that my hands would be stained in blood when I felt safe enough for me and my loved ones in this universe. The symbiote detected my own doubts and I felt its own.

[Uncertain: Host Jean, please offer me a name for easier discourse. To answer your question, you are a good person and fiercely protective of your family network. You have a plan to attain true peace which is admirable and it interests me to see you go through with it.] I felt its voice becoming gradually female in tone.

I glanced at my hand where the symbiote was moving like one of those japanese tentacle hentai. *I am going to call you Goldie, it’s cute because you got a feminine voice even though your race is genderless.* It defied everything I knew about the Klyntar, the way she spoke like an AI or the mind talk. Do Klyntars have some weird tradition I wasn’t aware of?

Goldie hugged my mind and decided that leaving me in the dark wasn’t good, as it could feel my psionics well and power; I could easily kill it. I wouldn’t though, as she wasn’t evil nor did she feel evil at all. [Explanation: You are my first host, and you are female and psionically powerful enough to understand the concepts, emotions and images I can transmit to you. I have decided that a female voice and identity would be easier for our continued cooperation.]

*You are one smart Klyntar.* Maybe too smart. She was doing all this to put me at ease and to not renege on our deal.

Shrugging, I decided to not linger here. “Okay, we don’t have the time to speak for long, I must steal everything in this room to deny my enemy resources. I know that you good Klyntar are big on this justice thing.”

The Klyntar symbiotes have established a hive mind capable of sensing the “voice” of the Cosmos and created an intergalactic peacekeeping society called the Agents of the Cosmos by using the symbiosis they needed to subsist in order to transform “worthy” hosts into the ultimate noble warriors. 

I think I was too hasty in signing up to become the space police.

[Compliance: Dormant, I will be again.] It said and I felt its mind gradually become quiescent.

Forty minutes later, I’d finished looting everything and lit everything on fire with my pyrokinesis in a controlled manner. I simply destroyed anything I couldn’t take with me, the terrariums who weren’t containing any living spiders burned. Everything was consumed clean by the cosmic flames until no ashes were left. I floated up the elevator shaft, with my bubble of oxygen allowing myself and Otto not to be too concerned by the lack of oxygen.

The loot slowly followed me up, then I reached the entrance of the shaft in the lobby. I didn’t feel any awakened minds and that was reassuring but just in case, I planned on destroying the video records of my visit. I put Otto on the ground and I wrote a note saying “I will call you” with a smiley face on it that I placed in his lab coat pocket.

I sent my astral form to the command center of the chief security guard and began to obliterate everything with my TK by turning the recording gear into dust. *That’s that.*

Returning to my physical form, I lifted from the ground and began to store everything in the half filled sixth container. I delicately placed everything inside. There were  hundreds of millions of dollars of gear here. Once done, I lifted the containers from the ground and got out of Oscorp tower. I stacked the containers side to side and landed on the middle one and covered them in psionic energy and activated my cloaking field and I was finally out of here at  cruise speed.

“Thanks for the shopping trip, Norman.” I whispered as I thought about the awful man.

I turned north toward Willow Lake where I would hide the containers filled with goodies. I hugged the terrarium to my body, spider forty-two didn’t feel any bothered by the trip. Goldie, my symbiote was sleeping and I vowed to make a giant stash of processed chocolate to feed it to not have the problems that Peter Parker and Eddie Brock from Earth-616 had with the Venom symbiote.

“Best acquisition trip ever.”

67