Failure– by Victor Moore
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters. If I did, I would be RICH!!! But since I don't, I'm poor beyond poor. Please don't sue me! Pretty please?
I would like to thank Shin who helped me work out some rough spots and Henry Weinhard for making a delicious Vanilla Cream soda (but don't drink more than three in a row, trust me!). Flames will be read, and which I'll cry and moan, then send you my psychiatrist's bill for the entire trauma caused by said flames. Critiques and praises will be accepted hungrily! If you wish to post, do so, just let me know please.
CONTINUITY: Ummm... I'd tell you, but it ruin the story. But from UXM#192 on is wiped clean. :)
RATING: 'R' for violence, graphic imagery, and five or six uses of profanity.
Of all the places in the world for her to be, it would be here. At Eagle's Plaza in Dallas, Texas, where Ororo died. I should have guessed. The owner of the building is a brilliant man, and created a device that could strip us of our powers for good. And I had asked for one of his other devices some time ago, to aid in her capture. It failed, and she got me good.
As I enter the building, the first thing that hits me is the cold. My breath appears before me in small vaporous clouds. It must be close to sub-zero in here. The floor is covered in a thin sheet of ice, very slippery ice. The air is sterile, like an unused hospital room.
Cautiously, I make my way to the security desk. As expected, there is no power to the terminals. Just beyond the desk is a red arrow painted on the floor, leading through an empty hallway towards the elevators. As I step on the arrow, I realize that it isn't paint it's made out of, but blood. A part of me shivers, knowing that for failing her years earlier has cost another life.
I reach the elevators, and before I press the button, one opens for me. I already know she's expecting me. So I accept her invitation. As the elevator rises, I hear a melody. It makes me angry when I recognize it. It's a sad song from Lila Cheney, honoring the death of Sam Guthrie. I can still remember Lila standing dumbstruck as we watched her put a guitar through him. The song loops itself as I reach the top floors of the building.
Exiting the lift, I come face to face with frozen jungle. But there is a new smell, the scent of decay. More blood arrows lead me across the room. As I near the center, the stench gets stronger. I find the source, and wished I hadn't. She had time with him. He was propped up like a scarecrow and his bionic hand had two fingers in his eye sockets. I place his death about two, maybe three months ago. Another life she took and another reason for her to pay.
"I see you found my marker, old man."
I can hear the venom in her voice through the loudspeakers.
"Y'know, I was beginning to think you'd never show. I put clues out months ago bucko, and while your no Sherlock Holmes, I thought you'd be here a while ago."
"Why'd you kill him?"
"Why? Why? You know why, old man! You got him into to this. I warned you, didn't I? But no, you had to go play the hero! His death, and all the others are on your hands, not mine!"
I remembered her warning. She was laughing over me as she showed me my still beating heart. "Just a little advice, Logan. If you ever decide to go after me in a vain attempt to 'cure' me, anyone who helps you will die, along with one of your loved ones. I'm only telling you this once, stay away from me, forever." Then she kissed me. I blacked out after that, awaking six days later in a Tokyo morgue, weak as a baby.
Shaking my head loose of thoughts from the past, I concentrated on the room. I could smell the machinery projecting the holograms of the jungle. There were at least five emitters in this room, no doubt bobby trapped.
"Oh that's it use those keen senses to find me. C'mon old man. I'm waiting."
She knows I can recognize her scent, but the cold air is limiting my range. So instead of trying to acquire her scent, I follow the arrows at a brisk pace, and trust my memory of the layout of the room. A few hundred feet later I climb the camouflaged staircase. As soon as I top the last stair, the scenery changes and so does the air.
My heart explodes as I recognize it, the courtyard of the Yashida estate in Japan. It's perfect down to the smallest detail. The leaves of the cherry blossoms scattered across the ground. The smells of the plants and.... and.... no please no! Mariko's perfume! I can't stop the tears from my eyes as I see the past before me. Mariko, in her wedding kimono, impaled with the honor swords, and not a single drop of blood on my beloved. I know it's not real, but it doesn't stop my memories from making it so. My trembling hand passes through its cheek, and then I turn it into a fist.
I absorb all the rage boiling inside of me and push it to that fist. My claws spring to life and then retract. After about a minute of this, I regain my balance again.
"Oh joy! You've gained some control over that famous temper of yours. Well, old man, color me impressed. You've still got three floors to go. C'mon, hop to it."
I reach out to the image of Mariko one last time than continue to the next staircase. As I climb it I get the sinking feeling she has much more to show me. And I know it's only going to get worse. Destiny was right when she told me that my ghosts would haunt me again before the day was done. I only hope she was able to keep Mystique in check. Funny, I never realized how much the mingled scents of Irene and Raven smelled like Kurt.
No. Can't think about his death. I must keep my mind in focus. There is a lot more to come. I can feel it. As I reach the next level, the scenery changes. Please god, not this one too!
I'm in a small room, a flat in Kyoto. I can hear sniffling coming from the bedroom. I don't want to open the door, but I have to. Inside is Yukio, curled up into a ball clutching a rag doll against the far wall, staring intently at the toy and avoiding looking anywhere else.
"It's okay Amiko, Logan will be here soon. He's always in the nick of time. You'll see. Then he'll take us out, and we'll have lots and lots of ice cream. With chocolate sprinkles, and whipped cream. It'll be fun. No one can hurt us when he's around."
I fall to my knees with my eyes closed. She recorded this! I can't believe she flamin' recorded this. That's really Yuiko's voice! Poor Yukio never recovered from this and was put into a hospital. Slowly her sanity slipped until one day, she spoke and acted like a child of Amiko's age. That broke my heart.
I knew what I would find if I opened my eyes. I fought against myself, until my rational side won out. That side wept as I saw Amiko's body in the middle of the floor, her skull neatly removed from her body and placed on the ground next to it. Not a single cut was made on her flesh as it loosely surrounded her brain and it's oozing fluids.
I ran blindly from the sight as Yukio's voice followed me up the next staircase. She murdered her, on Amiko's birthday. I could feel the anger swell up again, but it was beaten down by my sense of loss.
The lights went out and darkness enveloped me. I fumbled around until a single light appeared in the middle of the expanse. In it stood... myself? My hologram was bloody from a fight with Creed, innards tore open and slowly healing. When she stepped up behind Creed and took his heart and brain from him.
"He's mine to kill numbnuts, not yours! That'll teach you to cross my path."
Confusion set in me as I watched her threw the organs aside. This was a scene from a year ago! The day that... the day that...
"Murderer!!! You killed my brother!"
The hologram of Rogue flew in at her. I watched as she effortlessly and with a minimum of mess, took the spine from the invulnerable woman's body. Rogue hit the ground in a heap and the image of myself hobbled to his teammate.
"No, you can't save the bitch with your powers Logan. I will not have you die yet, especially for her!"
Hitting him with her new club, it shattered against him as he fell to the ground just inches from Rogue's quivering form.
"You will only die, when I say so, by my choosing! It's my right, for your failure to me, old man. And I will see it be!"
The hologram of Logan reached out with feeble fingers but she stopped him, forcibly. She reopened the wounds that Creed had given him and then some. He could do nothing as his hearing caught the last breath of Rogue, and avoided looking at the disbelief in her eyes. He screamed and surprisingly cut her with his claws across her face with the hand she wasn't holding. She backhanded him, the smiled at him.
"We should clip those claws, Logan. You might hurt yourself."
One by one she took out the adamantium claws that were extended from his left hand. She tucked them in her belt behind her, then kissed him deeply.
"Was it good for you too?"
The scene faded out and I was once again alone in the darkness. The lights turned on, and holograms of the dead Rogue lined the path on both sides. All of their accusingly eyes following me along the path and up the next level.
Shivering at the cold on this level, I knew I couldn't take much more of this. One more level to go, then I would face her and make her pay for her crimes. For she never lied to me, even after all these years.
Once, what now felt like a long time ago, I would've had no problem defeating her. We've met seven times since I failed her. Whether I was in full health or not, she bested me. Every. Single. Time.
The room shifts in a slow disturbing pattern, until I'm in a skyscraper under construction, overlooking downtown Tokyo. I see a hologram of a girl wearing a red oni's mask. She takes off the mask and looks at me with those sad brown eyes. At the time Kitty had apparently broken free of being possessed by an evil spirit of my former master, Ogun.
"Save me Logan!"
I didn't know how. I tried to help her. Train her to calm her thoughts, like how I was taught many years earlier. I was grasping at straws. Problem was the straws were all made of air.
"Why didn't you try harder Logan? That young innocent person might still be alive today if you did."
"I did what I could!"
"But it wasn't enough was it! It was never enough!!!"
"I'm sorry pum'kin. I tried my best. But I can't help you. I'm sorry."
My voice boomed across the room as I watched Kitty's face contorted with fear, hate, and finally a calm understanding. Even to this day, I can remember the catch in my throat as I told her I'm sorry. I had destroyed any hope she had left. I saw her look at me sadly with teary eyes as she put the mask back on. It's an image I'll never forget.
I winced as she ran a katana threw her stomach.
"NO!!! You can't do this!!! I can't die again, foolish girl!!!"
"You will along with all that's good in me, demon."
I watched Kitty scream, then break the mask into fragments.
The scene faded and there she was sitting behind desk. Those three scars across her face heightened the hatred I saw behind her eyes. I was too emotionally distraught to bring up my feelings of rage. Every time I did in the past, it would flutter when I remembered that I brought her to this from my failure.
I saw movement as Rachel appeared beside her. I should've guessed the girl would be with her. Rachel was wearing an inhibitor collar, figures. I could see total devotion in those eyes only to her.
"Well pum'kin, let's do it." My claws sprung into action.
I waited as Kitty got up and let Rachel put a glove with my stolen claws on her hand.
"Before we do this old man. There's something you should know. One of us will die. I've killed Creed and all the Creed clones Sinister sent after me, until I killed him too." My eyes follow where her free hand pointed to the back of the room. Draped on a mannequin was the bastard's cape, while Doom's facemask was over the head.
"I'm impressed." I lied, and I could tell she knew with that cocky smile.
"We'll I'm the best now, Logan. Tell me have the Hand bothered you at all recently?"
I shook my head. I haven't heard of them in years.
"I brokered a deal with the old masters of the society. They promised to leave you alone, for my killing of a young upstart of theirs, his lover, her employer, and a deserter. Matsuo, Kwannon, and Elektra were never any challenge. I hope you still are.
"Oh and is 'Yana still a tad angry about my castration of that no-good, self-righteous, have dick will fuck any alien whore of a bastard?"
I couldn't stop from cringing. I found Russkie's privates on his pillow next to his body. She had phased them off in his sleep and he died from the shock. "The Kitty I knew would never have done such a thing."
I watched her face distort in disgust. "She's dead, along with Ogun! She sacrificed all her innocence, all of her gentleness to destroy him. I'm what's left of her Logan! The hidden desires, the unwanted thoughts she kept locked away until she was gone. I am the absolute potential of Katherine Pryde. I have no conscious or moral restraints."
"And that's why you kill with no abandon! How many dead at your hands..."
"You're hands, not mine!!! You should have saved her. She was my other self, one of only two people I ever truly loved! You are to blame for all this, for my existence! You beat Ogun before, Logan. How come you couldn't save her, save us?"
My shoulders drooped. "I did everything I could."
"Like hell! You didn't even try! You had access to a telepath, could've contacted Dr. Strange, a number of things! But no, not the big bad, dependable, I always have ways no one else knows about, Wolverine!"
Dumbstruck, I watched a tear fall from her eyes. She nodded to Rachel, who then pulled out an all too familiar gun, and fired at me happily. I screamed as my body convulsed and I felt as if a part of me was ripped away.
Gasping for breath, I saw blood coming from the holes in my skin where my claws were extended. She used the neutralizer on me, the same weapon that stole Ororo's powers from her all those years ago. I turned to stare at her, but she was looking expectantly at Rachel.
"No mistress, I can't. Not to you. I can't hurt you." Rachel was crying, her lower lip trembling.
She approached Rachel, and held her face in her hand. "Trust me, my darling Ray. It'll be okay." She wiped away a tear.
"But I love you mistress."
"I know, and I need you to do this."
Then she kissed her! It shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. Rachel used the gun on her. Her body shook, but she never lost eye contact with me and never screamed. After it was over she took the gun and Rachel's collar.
"Rachel, I need a small favor."
"See the window. Break it." Rachel broke the window with her telekinesis. "Good, now stand over by it, we wouldn't want you to get hurt from our duel."
Then with out warning, she attacked me. I defended myself. But after ten minutes of our deadly dance, I was bleeding more than she was. I couldn't bring myself to kill her. I knew I had to, but I couldn't. I felt that there had to be another way.
"Will you be serious old man! How are you going to kill me when you aren't even trying! Do try harder."
She attacked again. She was a whirlwind of kicks, punches, and claws. I felt a couple of ribs break from that assault. But I held my ground, still clinging on to some small hope.
"Damn you Logan!"
She swiped her claws at me.
"I see that look in your eyes, I can see it in your body language! When will you understand that YOU CAN"T SAVE ME!"
I ducked a kick, and then blocked her blades with mine.
"You couldn't save HER! There is no hope! Kill me or die!"
After avoiding her lunge, I backhanded her. "There is always hope! There has to be!"
"HOPE!? Newsflash for you old man, hope got my other half killed, or have you FORGOTTEN THAT!!!"
I didn't have an answer, and I was getting tired. Never realized before how heavy all this metal in me is. We danced around a bit more before she made her next attack, one that wasn't aimed at me.
"Maybe you need some incentive. Rachel! Jump out the window! No TK please."
"With pleasure mistress."
As I rushed to save Rachel, Kitty sliced the back of my leg, causing me to fall. I watched Rachel jump backward out the window, giggling all the way. Seconds later I faintly heard glass shattering as she hit the glass roof of the first three floors far below.
"Would it help to know that Rachel was four months pregnant, with Forge's child? Did you know I had her rape him before I killed him?"
Something in me snapped. I let loose the animal I always feared. I struggled to reign it in. I finally succeeded, but it was too late. My claws were buried in her belly!
I retracted them and noticed that her claws were in mine. We fell to our knees, gasping heavily. I didn't know what to do.
"I'm sorry. Pum'kin I'm so sorry." I didn't realize I was crying until my tears hit her cheek.
"Thank you Logan." She said as she smiled up at me. "You didn't fail me this time."
"What? I should have saved you."
"You couldn't. Sinister had his revenge, before he died. He infected me with some sort of virus. But I destroyed all his work, so I'm the only one with it now."
"What? Why go through all this? Hank or McTaggert could've cured you."
"No cure. Besides, I had to see the other person I love more than life itself, before I rejoin her."
"Why Kitty? Why?"
She just shook her head, leaned up and kissed me with all of her unbridled passion. I returned it, pulling her closer to me, causing her blades to sink deeper.
"No!" She pushed me away and drew her claws out gently. Then she fumbled around in her jacket pocket and pulled out a small syringe. Before I could say anything she stabbed me with it.
"Live Logan, live." She smiled and stared blankly over my shoulder. "Oh, do you see her Logan. She's so beautiful."
I looked back and saw no one.
She reached out a hand and grasped air. "Oh Kitty my love, you've come back to me."
Then she was gone. So I did the only thing I could, I cradled her and wept until no tears were left in me.
"I'm sorry to tell you all this Jean, but I needed to tell someone.
"She was right y'know. After she died, I remembered a way I could have saved her from Ogun all those years ago. Then all the others, even you would still be alive." I touch the tombstone with her name on it. Then look around at all the markers in this section of the cemetery. One-eye is here, along with Douglas, Kurt, what's left of Ororo and too many others to mention. I lower my hat and sink to me knees.
"I'm sorry, I failed you all."