Down the Dark Path– by Victor Moore
DISCLAIMER: Marvel owns everyone, except Sakura, Agent Li, and the old woman, they're mine. No money will be made from this. This is for enjoyment purposes only. Yada, Yada, Yada.
The first thing she thought about was how the light hurt her as she opened her eyes. Slamming them shut again did not help. Slowly Elisabeth pried them open by sure force of will. When her eyes focused on the ceiling, she thought that she was in a hospital. Further inspection of the room, more correctly, what she could see of it in her position told her it was not. An I.V. drip was attached to her arm, and highly advanced instruments lined the room. The window had heavy white curtains covering them. Jubilee was asleep in a plush leather chair near her bed.
"Ah, you're awake finally." A male voice stated absently. It sounded familiar to her, but she could place it.
Pain rain though her body when she tried to lift her head, to see whom it was, so she laid her head back down on the pillow.
"Don't strain yourself too hard, miss. You've been though quite an ordeal, from what Ben told me." The voice came closer.
"Dr. Richards?" She asked in a raspy whisper. Her mouth was dry.
"Yes." He answered as he checked her pulse then, brought out a penlight to check her eyes.
"You're at Four Freedoms Plaza in Manhattan. No, don't speak yet. Your body must recover from your wounds." Frowning, he noticed that her brown eyes did not dilate correctly from the light.
Taking a slow deep breath, she tried to communicate telepathically to him. * How long? *
Looking at her, he seemed a little curious. "You been unconscious for four days. In fact you were clinically dead for seven minutes when you arrived here." Writing something down on his datapad, he continued, "what has made your recovery somewhat more difficult, is that you do not show up on any of my scanners, medical or otherwise. I find that fascinating, but that can wait. You need your rest. You are far from being okay." He turned to leave, then stopped and looked back at her. "By the way, what's your name?"
"Elisabeth." She commented weakly.
"Yes the voice matches, but her appearance does not. Very intriguing." He stated to someone out of her line of vision.
"Is it her though?" A young female voice said. Elisabeth knew it but could not place it as sleep overtook her.
When she awoke some hours later, Elisabeth was still surprised to see Jubilee in her chair. Her knees were pulled up to her chin. "Are you alright, child?"
"Huh?" Jubilee gasped as she saw her partner look at her. "Betts! Oh man, oh man. I'm so glad that you are okay. How are you feeling?" She rushed to the side of the bed and clasped Elisabeth's hand.
She could barely feel the young one's hand on hers. "I feel tired and a tad bit thirsty."
Letting go of her, Jubilee ran to the doorway and yelled "YO ROCKY! I need a glass of water in here. Pronto!"
From outside the room, she heard voices. Male and female using various dialects of English, she wondered how many people were out there. She tried to prop her self up and was rewarded with bolts of pain. Finding a control on the armrest for her bed, she pressed a button marked raise. The side of the bed where her upper body rested began to rise. Not letting it go to far, she stopped when she had a comfortable view of the room.
Just then, Jubilee and a young blond boy entered the room. He was holding a glass of water. He, along with the young girl's help, put the glass to Elisabeth's lips. The cool liquid felt very refreshing, some of it though did spill down her chin, but she did not care. When the water was gone, he took a handkerchief and wiped her chin with a smile.
"Thank you Franklin." She returned his smile.
Soon the room became crowded as all the voices she heard entered. Reed and Susan Richards, Forge, a female version of the Thing, a gruff looking man in a bomber jacket, Sean Cassidy, Jean Grey, Nicholas Fury, Carol Danvers, Johnny Storm, and Katherine Pryde. They all asked how she was and she answered them all. Franklin came back with another glass of water, and this time she helped him.
The man with dark brown hair and smelling slightly of cigar smoke said, "I see yer getting better. Ya had me worried back on the plane. If it wasn't for my basic first aid trainin' ya would have died right then an' there."
There was no mistaking his voice. "Thank you Mr. Grimm. I owe you one." She looked him over. It was him but he was no longer the Thing. "I see I am not the only one who has gone through a drastic change."
He laughed. "I'll tell ya about it sometime, but fer right now I think Kit has some questions."
Kitty smiled at her warily. "How are you… Elisabeth?"
The hesitation of her name did not escape her. "Tired, Katherine. I promised you an explanation, did I not?" Everyone's eyes turned to her and the room became silent. "Where to start? As most of you know, my given name is Elisabeth Braddock. When I was with the X-Men, I went by the codename, Psylocke. Regardless of the body you see before you, I am still she." Seeing Jean's puzzled reaction, she smiled. * Still skeptical? * She told the redhead telepathically.
"Not anymore, Betsy. Welcome back." Jean answered with her own smile. Elisabeth's thought patterns matched from when the two of them linked during that Inferno Crisis a couple months ago.
"With the exception of Jean here, you were told that I was dead, back in Dallas. The X-Men and I did indeed die, but we were also reborn. Storm decided to let the world think we were gone. We lost Rogue and Longshot left to find himself. Then Storm died, this time for good."
"No." Kitty and Jean gasped. Forge looked shaken.
"Logan came and went on his little escapades. The rest of us arrived home after a jaunt in the Savage Land. I could sense the Reavers approaching us, so I telepathically guided the remaining X-Men into the Siege Perilous. Once they were through, I followed."
"We met the Reavers, lass, and barely won. Lost too many good people in that battle." Sean stated sadly.
"What is a Siege Perilous?" Franklin asked.
"A gateway, basically. I do not where the other X-Men are now or their fates. Since I stumbled out of the 'gateway' with momentary amnesia, I must assume the others did also. That is the short version." She sipped on her third glass of water. The last time she looked, the container was empty, but someone had filled it and she did not notice. Franklin helped her, though she managed most of it on her own. Looking around the room, she could see questions forming on faces in the crowd.
Ben rubbing his chin, stated, "I get the gist of what yer saying, after all we in the FF have been through a lot over the years. I know ya'll tell us the details in time, but fer now, ya need some rest. So, I am allowing only one question." A quiet murmur sounded through the room. "Naturally, I get the honors." A broad smile shone across his face.
"Ask away Mr. Grimm." Elisabeth stated after finishing her drink.
"Since Susie and I are now enemies of the Hand, I want to know why ya were being chased by 'em."
"The Hand are a society of ninja assassins, a very old society. They are very good at what they do. Jubilation and I escaped from their complex, and have been on the run ever since." Seeing that the answer wasn't satisfying enough, she sighed. Elisabeth looked at Jean and asked her telepathically, * Can we trust them? They are not of the X-Fold, Jean. It's your call. *
* Actually, Elisabeth, it yours. You sound like you been through a lot since we last met. As Logan would say, "in order to earn one's trust, you must give it." * Jean mentally replied. Elisabeth lowered her head, dropping her eyes from the fellow telepath. * He is the whole heart of the matter. I will state what I can, but that is all. Logan's fate must be kept secret. If word got out… It would destroy any credibility that he has left. * Taking a deep breath, she addressed the crowd. "The long version then.
"The Hand found me in a dazed state after my emergence from the Siege Perilous. They used a sensory deprivation tank, drugs, and telepaths to rewrite my memories. Just so they could have a assassin who could strike at a distance and without a trace. Two things saved me. My mental defenses and Loga… I mean Wolverine.
"When the Hand tried to turn him into one of their assassins using the same process as myself, I was the telepath. On the verge of success, I struck at his mind. It fractured. The process freed me, but Logan… he… he did not make it."
Kitty and the others gasped. Jubilee fidgeted in her seat, but said nothing. Nick and Carol looked at the others warily, while Jean remained calm. The most shaken was Kitty. She was on the verge of crying.
"After freeing Jubilation here, we ran. And we kept running." She saw a fresh glass of water, and noticed Dr. Richards' limb wiggle back into place.
"How is it that you now have an Asian body, instead of your European one?" Reed asked.
Before Ben could say anything, she answered quietly, "I do not know. I assume the Hand or the Mandarin did it."
"The Mandarin?" Sue gasped.
"Yes, he is the current employer of the Hand."
Ben ushered his teammates out. "C'mon guys, if the looks cast by Betsy and Jeanie are indication, the next part ain't fer us." Turning to Franklin, "you too little guy."
Once they were gone, Jean said, "Logan isn't dead is he?"
"No" Jubilee said quietly.
Forge closed the door, just in time for Kitty's outburst.
"WHAT!? You said that Logan didn't make it, but he's alive!?"
"That is correct. The good man named Logan that we knew is gone. The Hand succeeded with his programming. He is theirs now."
That comment shocked almost everyone in the room. Kitty sank into an available chair. Her skin was pale and her eyes wide. "That can't be. How do we know your telling the truth! For all we know, you could be the real assassin!" She vehemently stated, while pointing an accusing finger at Elisabeth.
"Kitty!" Jean grabbed her hand and gently put it on the arm of the chair. "Stop it. You're being hysterical. Please calm down."
Nick and Carol drew their guns on Kitty. If she and the others saw it, they did not react.
"Stop it!" Elisabeth yelled at Nick and Carol.
Everyone looked at her, except Jubilee who shrugged and sagged in her chair. "She's doing it again. First Wolvie, then her. Are all of you X-People insane? Not to mention strange, and weird, and... "
"Doing what?" Jean asked blankly.
"Talking to the air."
"Hey little girl, I am not a ghost." Carol shot at Jubilee, who took no notice.
Elisabeth sighed. Carol Danvers and Nicholas Fury were figments of Logan's memories. She inherited them in her battle with him. "When I drove my psychic knife into Logan's brain after he freed himself from the sensory deprivation tank, I was still under control of the Hand. The act broke their hold on me. Unfortunately, it shattered his already unstable psyche. The honest, noble man we called Logan, for all intents and purposes perished. The version the Hand created took over. I believe that that personality is still there, but buried and trapped so deep that it maybe near impossible for him to be saved."
Kitty shook her head. "We have to save him. We must."
"Aye, we will lass." Sean patted her shoulder.
"Yes, but I more concerned with Elisabeth's ghosts. How did that come about?"
Before Elisabeth could answer, Jubilee spoke up. "That would be my story, Red. I assume that's what Wolvie called you, right. The man talked in his sleep." Everyone was shocked at that response. "It wasn't like that, at all. Geez, what's with you people? Anyways, the Reavers really did a number on him. His flesh was so badly beaten that it was all black and blue. They crucified him on a giant 'X'. For two days he was up there. Baking in the sun like a potato and freezing in the night. They beat him and mocked him. It was horrible." Jubilee shivered remembering the incident with crystal clarity. "On… on the second night, that glorified toaster, Pierce, drove stakes in Wolvie's hands and feet. But Wolvie didn't cry or scream out. It ticked-off toaster-boy. Then a fierce storm rolled in, and the leftovers from a Radio Shack bargain bin up and split. I could see him talking to someone, but couldn't hear. Thunder and lighting came. And I heard the most terrible sound ever. It echoed the thunder. It was Wolvie as he freed one hand, than the other, then his feet one at a time. After that we booked to Hong Kong, but he was in such a bad way I had to take care of him. He started talking to ghosts and even tried to introduce me to them.
"When ninja-woman here rescued me just before I could do it myself, she was doing the same thing as Wolvie. But she rarely does it anymore."
"The Reavers did that to Wolverine?" Sean said shocked.
Forge worked on something mechanical in his hands while Kitty slowly released her grip from the armrests.
"I think that's enough for now." Jean said. "Sean will you take Kitty and Forge to get something to eat, please." When they were gone, Jean looked at Jubilee and sighed. "Jubilee? Can I have a moment with Elisabeth alone please?" The young girl looked at her partner, then left.
"She cares for you, you know. The only time she left your side was to eat, sleep or use the bathroom."
"Honest. What about you? How do you feel about her?" Jean asked while taking the chair next to Elisabeth.
"I guess I care for her too, even though her thoughts scream out every time I'm nearby. But while on the run, I wanted to give up. We had been running for four days when a contingent of genin caught up with us. I was tired. Tired of running. She was my lifeline, Jean. I could not leave her alone.
"That is what she is, alone. She lost her parents, and then Logan. For her sake I kept fighting, kept running. Until my body would not respond anymore."
After a few minutes of silence, Jean asked, "Elisabeth, these ghosts. They're Logan's aren't they?"
"They aren't fading as Jubilee claimed, right?"
"That is correct. Sometimes they are just there, other times they're not."
"Don't you see? If they're still with you, then a part of Logan is too. All we have to do is give it back to him and he'll be whole again."
"Sounds reasonable. But will he be himself or will he still be a Hand assassin?" Elisabeth asked through a yawn.
"I don't know. I do know that it won't be easy." Jean yawned back. "What do you plan to do?"
"After I am healed, I will find him and cure him. But first I think I will learn a little more about my new partner, so she will not be alone." Her eyelids became heavy. "Never alone… darlin'." Then she was fast asleep.
Jean watched her. Those last words confirmed her theory. A part of Logan was in her.
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