Shades of Pain– by Victor Moore
She saw his powerful arm draw back as she huddled against the wall. His claws drenched in Psylocke's blood, hungering for more. "No. God please..." she whispered with large blue eyes wide with fear. The pain in her shoulder, from when he slashed her earlier, bit in to her. Desperately, she tried to draw on her powers, but they would not respond to her plea. She was helpless, and the woman who had jumped in his path to save her, doomed.
The madman held Psylocke by her long purple hair with one hand lifting the woman a foot off the floor. His sharp claws raked deeply across Psylocke's belly. Cloth and flesh parted with a sickly wet sound, like a soaked silk cloth sheared in two. The blood splattered on the ground in a chaotic pattern.
The only sounds in the room were Psylocke's ragged breaths and the young girl against the wall chanting repeatedly in a quiet voice, "Oh god."
Apparently, the naked madman was not happy. His eyes glared at Elisabeth Braddock. "Scream damn it! This ain't no fun if I don't hear you squeal!" Spittle assaulted her as he held her, soaked in life fluids from the deep cuts across her left brow and cheek, only a breath's distance away.
"You'll get no pleasure from me, Creed." Elisabeth's voice was weak and shaky, but there was fierce determination in her brown eyes.
The terrified blond woman watched in horror as Sabretooth slashed Psylocke on her left side. "Hurry, please hurry, oh god please..."
It was quiet. "I said scream, you bitch!" He bellowed as he sliced the right side of her face to match the left. Nothing, just the conviction in her eyes was her answer.
Still no scream. Infuriated, he ranted obscenities at her.
Psylocke, with all of her remaining strength, smiled at him.
"BITCH!!!" He cried, and tore open her abdomen, exposing her innards.
Psylocke screamed. It was a primal one, filled with pain beyond measure. But Sabretooth, for all of his enhanced senses, could not hear her telepathic cry. Others however could.
Xavier and Jean, who were in the middle of a conversation, clutched their heads in great agony as their noses and ears began to bleed. Scott, through his wife's psionic rapport, felt the same impact outside the room as the Beast tried to frantically open the door with no success.
Spiderman lost the grip to his webline as his spider-sense overwhelmed him with maddening intensity. Barely able to land precariously on a rooftop, he wondered what that was about as he lifted his mask and wiped the blood from his nose. At Avenger's Mansion, Sersei dropped the plate of food she was carrying and held her head as she sank to her knees, her life-fluid dribbling onto the ornate carpet.
Jubilee watched in horror as Emma Frost and Monet St. Croix screamed as they grabbed their heads, blood gushing from their noses. While Jonathon Starsmore's psionic powers blew a hole out of the classroom chalkboard and the wall behind it, before he passed out.
The Astral Plane shattered around the Gamemaster, into millions of green fragments, like pieces of glass flying dangerously free from thousands of mirrors.
In England, Alison Double sank to her knees, letting her cane fall from her hand. She began to cry. "Betsy, no."
Across the way, on Muir Isle, Brian Braddock was struck by it, and he stumbled. Fear overcame him. He knew Elisabeth was in grave danger and he had felt this before, when Slaymaster took her eyes years ago. Running to the hanger, he ignored his teammates as he boarded the Midnight Runner, and took off over the Atlantic Ocean. He hoped beyond hope that he was not too late. He already knew it was.
The man named Logan was speeding down the road towards Salem Center, when Elisabeth's psionic scream assaulted him. He almost lost control of the Harley he was on. Unlike the others, he was bonded to Elisabeth, though it was a minor one. That happened back when they freed each other from the Hand. She was in trouble, and he had no time. He rocketed down the road faster than he ever rode before.
She saw Psylocke's body convulse then it went still until he threw it against the wall next to her like a rag doll. The cracking of bones breaking was the loudest sound she heard in her young life. All she could do is watch, knowing this was all her fault.
Angry at his taunts, at his deception, and the fact that her belief that anyone could be redeemed caused her to be so gullible, she let loose with the biggest pyrokinetic charge she could muster and directed at him. She had hoped to hurt him badly, maybe even kill him, but it freed him instead. Her carelessness got Elisabeth killed, and it was her fault.
A faint sound from the other side of the room immediately brought her attention to Sabretooth who faded into the darkness without glancing back. She fell to her knees and cradled Elisabeth. Tears began to form as she stroked the matted hair from the woman's face. Drops of salt water mixed with Psylocke's splattered blood ran down her cheeks. "Oh Betsy... I'm so sorry. Please live. Please."
As if to answer, a long breath bubbled on Elisabeth's lips, then nothing.
"No! No... no. I'm sorry, it's all my fault."
"That's right Tabitha, it's your fault." A gruff voice sneered behind her.
"No!" Was all she could say before he grabbed her by the back of neck and yanked her to face him, like one would grab a cat. Her feet dangled in the air and fear shone brightly in her eyes.
"So loser, you failed again." He smiled, it was not a pleasant one. Suddenly a wicked gleam sparkled in his eyes. He took a finger and wiped some of the blood from her face then licked it. "Hmm. She sure was a tasty, that British bitch, but she robbed me of my pleasure."
He gathered more of the red liquid on his appendage and put it to Boomer's lips. She tried to squirm away but could not. His grip was too strong. Then she felt something sharp poke the back of her head.
"Taste it Tabby, or you die." She shook her head no, but felt blood starting to seep slowly from the back of her head. "I'm sorry Betsy." She whispered before licking his finger once, very quickly.
"Better." He laughed, and put the tip of his finger just above her breastbone lightly piercing the skin until a drop of blood appeared. "Hey why should the runt have all the fun with you X-kittens. I mean he has Shadowkitty and China-doll, I guess that means you're mine to play with."
Wriggling did not help as he quickly dragged the claw down her body and pulled out just a few inches below her bellybutton. Her eyes went wide, as the skin and clothes gave easy. "NO! Please no!" She saw the look of lust in his eyes, she knew what was in store for her. She had hoped to forget all that pain in her past. "HELP ME!!" She screamed and was slapped hard for her effort. Stars shone in her vision for a split second.
He smeared the teenager's blood over her exposed chest and belly. Her fingernails raked his face and drew blood. He smiled and punched her in the solar plexus knocking the wind out of her. "Play with me Tabby. I wanna hear you call me your 'daddy'. If you do I may not kill you."
Gaining her breath back, she saw the scratches start to heal on him. The rough texture of his tongue slid between her breasts. Frantically she tried to kick him and claw his arm that was holding her in a vain attempt to make him stop. Tears flowed when he did not. So she did the only thing she could, she fled into the darkest corner of her mind and curled up into ball, to escape the reality of the situation. No longer aware of what he did to her, she did not feel him rip the crotch area of her clothes.
Sobbing. Someone was crying. Elisabeth looked around in the blackness and traced the sounds to their source. She found a blonde haired girl, no more than eight years old, in a torn blue dress and curled into a ball. A white shadow of a young woman mimicked the position.
"Are you alright?" She asked, her voice heavy with concern. The shadow was familiar to her. The girl continued crying. Only when Elisabeth touched the young one's shoulder did she see the teary blue eyes look back at her. "Tabitha!?"
Elisabeth knew that she was dying, and was about to give up, when she had heard the sobbing. It called to her soul. She could not ignore it, her heart would not let her.
"What's wrong?" She asked as she hugged the child.
Two closely overlapping circles appeared with tendrils of blackness clinging to the edges. In one, she saw Creed biting and licking the young girl's blood-smeared chest. In the second was a middle aged balding man who reeked of alcohol sweating and grunting over her.
The images then faded to black as a fiery pink aura began to outline Elisabeth's form. The trails of energy flowed and disappeared as she got up. "Not again. Never again. I promise, Boomer. I promise."
They played again in her mind, but were overshadowed by a new one. Kaptain Briton, pulling her hair, kissing her, fondling her. "NEVER AGAIN!!!" She screamed as she re-entered her body.
No matter how hard he tried, Doctor Henry McCoy could not get the keypad or voice-activated computer system to open the huge metal door in front of the three men. Desperately, he charged into with all of his weight and strength. A small dent appeared. Taking a few steps back, "Scott I need your help."
The man with the red sunglasses nodded grimly. Lifting the eyewear, he let loose with a beam of scarlet energy from his eyes. The kinetic impact furthered the dent.
Without a word, Hank rammed the door again, back away and let Scott blast it. They were making headway, but it was a slow process. Precious minutes slipped away like sand through one's fingers, and dread filled their souls, as they knew they would not make it in time.
"... never again." It was barely a whisper, as Psylocke gasped for air. Her eyes opened and the first thing she saw was a reflection of herself in the bloody pool beneath her. "Never again." She tried to push herself off the ground but found her arms and legs were not working. Turning her head, she saw Sabretooth over Boomer and about to enter her for the first time. "Get off of her!" It was a command. It was barely audible.
He heard it, stopped, and faced the voice. "Oh, still alive frail? That means I get to have some pleasure out of you after all. I'll take you and then the child, you'll both be calling me 'Daddy' soon enough." Walking over to Psylocke, he stopped when he saw her rise off the floor. "Impossible. Your back is broken, you can't walk!?"
"Never again!" Standing in front of him, an unseen wind whipped around her blowing her hair towards the ceiling. Bright pink energy encased and caressed her until she was one with it.
The light was so intense, Creed covered his eyes with an arm. He tried to advance on her but he couldn't move.
"NEVER AGAIN, MONSTER!!!" Her voice seemed to rebound around the room, causing the man to cover his ears. A bright flash centered around her head and formed into a rose butterfly. With searing intensity, it shot into his mind.
There was no hint of gentleness, only pain. It was as if white-hot needles were stabbed into his brain and began spinning uncontrollably. All of his mental defenses and barriers where shredded away in an instant. She stopped as she saw something in his memories that sickened her soul.
He had done this before. Too many times to count. He had raped women, old and young, ...and girls. Not even old enough to... And then he killed most of them, some he would tear out their innards as he took them, in a perverse form a pleasure.
Their faces floated around her, crying and begging. She gathered them around her and they joined in her with anger at the man who had done this. He saw them all, flying around him like spirits. "You can't take them Bitch! They're mine! I'm their father, I'm their 'Daddy"!!" He shouted at the top of his lungs.
"NEVER AGAIN WILL YOU CAUSE PAIN!!!" Her words were spoken by all the faces as they circled him. "UNTOLD LIVES WERE WASTED BY THE ARTOCITIES YOU"VE COMITTED!!! IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!!!"
"You ain't got the balls, bitch!" He shook a fist at her. Anger seethed in him.
Without a word, Elisabeth spread her arms wide then crossed them in a swift motion.
Victor Creed's body began to convulse. His mind was ripped apart. She made him believe that he was on fire. His body combusted spontaneously. Soon, he was engulfed in searing flames. His hair burned, the skin bubbled as it cooked, the bones melted. The healing factor that he was famous for tried to compensate. It repaired the skin, bones, and hair, only to have it burn again. Soon it was too much for it to handle, so it tried to preserve his vital organs instead, with no success.
The man screamed a blood curdling one. It could be heard throughout the mansion. It made all the hair on Henry stand on end. Then it drifted into silence. With urgency Henry pounded frantically at the door.
All that was left of the madman known as Sabretooth was a pile of ashes and the smell of burnt flesh. As the door crashed down, the psionic projection of Elisabeth faded along with the light in her eyes, leaving only a peaceful expression on her face.
Henry, Scott, and Warren bounded into the room only to jump out of the way, as Logan on his Harley flew through the doorway. Leaping off the bike and letting it crash into the far wall, he ran to Elisabeth.
He looked at her sadly, and gently closed her eyes. "Rest darlin'. Ya did good. I promise to tell her when the time is right."
"Where's Sabretooth!?" Warren bellowed, his metal wings flexing in the air behind him waiting to strike. Logan pointed to the ashes on the floor. Warren's wings drooped as the charred odor hit him. It smelled as if the man had been cooked alive for weeks. Warren's stomach lurched. He ran from the room towards the lavatories. He never made it in time.
Scott touched Boomer on the shoulder and she flinched away. "Are you okay? What happened here?"
She pulled her knees closer to herself. "...don't touch me."
"Scott, get Jeanie quick and stay away from her, that goes for you too Hank." Logan growled. Surprised, they gave him curious glances. "I seen it before," he said softly with his head lowered, "trust me." Without a word, he bent down and as carefully as possible picked up Elisabeth.
Then he walked out of the room, passing a shocked Jean on the way out. "Help the kid, Jeanie. Right now you're the only chance she has." She looked into his eyes. They were not the cold look he normally showed. Instead they had such sadness in them, she had only seen him look like that once before. Nodding, she turned and went to Tabitha.
The clouds were dark and drab as Jean watched them sail overhead from the dock near the boathouse. "What's the matter Logan?" She asked without looking back for she had sensed him approaching.
Leaning on the wooden rail next to her, he sighed. "It's been a year now and part of me still misses Betts, I suspect I always will."
"Your link?" Seeing him nod, she looked towards the lake. "How did you know, about Boomer I mean."
"I've seen it before." It was a soft admission. After a moment of silence, he continued, "On the ride here that night, over the link we shared I felt her anger at him for what he did to those... girls. It stirred a memory me of seeing Creed do that before when we were in the service. The girl, she was only thirteen, Red. Thirteen!!" He slammed the rail with his hand so hard she heard the rail break. "I swore I would never let him do that again. But the higher-ups didn't want me to remember that. But a part of me always knew."
"Well, that explains to a degree why you're so protective over Jubilee and Kitty."
"Yeah, I guess it does." More silence. "How's the kid doing?"
"She's better, but a ghost of her former self. Every week she goes and visits Betsy's grave. Sam says that she still blames herself for what happened."
"And the... other part?"
"I know she goes to counseling, and remains cold to the guys, even Sam. Dom is the only one she'll talk too. I think in a way she sees what that bastard had done to her as punishment for allowing Betsy to die. It's wrong. Everyone knows it, but she won't listen. I tried to help, telepathically consoling her. She just isn't willing to accept it." Her hair swayed in the wind as she lowered her head.
"There is a way you can help."
"Since she isn't willing to talk to men openly yet, I need you to deliver a message for me, from Betts."
Pointing at his head, "it's in here."
With his permission, Jean entered his mind and found Elisabeth's message. She transferred the thoughts into her own. Then, she stepped out gracefully from him. "I'll deliver it first thing tomorrow morning, Logan. Thank you."
"Wait till she's at Betts grave. She'll listen to it better that way."
Nodding, Jean asked, "How are you doing? I haven't seen you since you left the team two months ago."
"Been good. I have a new purpose in life." He handed her a business card.
"Elisabeth Braddock School of Self-Defense? That's great."
"Yep. Brian, Emma, and I joined up a created these schools in her honor and to help young women to protect themselves from monsters like him."
After a moment of silence, Jean asked, "Emma?"
"Yep. She had her reasons, but fronted a third of the money we needed. Got four schools now, worldwide. Kitty and Brian head up the one in London, Emma and Sean in Boston, Shiro and Yukio in Tokyo, and Ms. Richards, Ben and I here in New York."
"Wow. A lot of our 'community' helped you out. I'm impressed."
"Had to call in a lot of markers. Heather and Eugene are setting up the one in Ottawa. Once things are settled, I'll help the X-Men out of some missions, but this is my foremost priority."
Jean hugged Logan and kissed him on the cheek. "I'm proud of you. Betsy would be proud of you too."
Tabitha cleared the weeds around Elisabeth Braddock's gravesite in Salem Center Cemetery. It was one of two on a small hill under a lonely tree. She stopped and looked sadly at the marble stone. "I'm sorry Betsy. It was all my fault. If only I hadn't lost my temper. You'd still be alive."
Absently, she traced the scar down her front above her garments and shuddered. "I... tried it again, 'ya know. Had the razor an' everything. But all I cloud see was your blood on my face in the mirror. I'm not worthy of your sacrifice."
Words formed on her lips, but she could not form the courage to say them. Minutes passed until she heard footsteps behind her. Not wanting to face anyone at the moment, she examined the words written on the tombstone. She knew them by heart.
"Hello Tabitha." Jean said as she put roses on the gravesite. "Can I talk to you?"
"Yeah, I guess." She muttered. "What is it?"
"I have a message for you. It was given to me by a friend of Elisabeth's who asked me to pass it along to you."
"Riiight," she stated with a skeptical look.
"It's a telepathic message. But I'll only give it to you if you want it."
Mulling it over, she looked at the headstone. "Okay."
Reaching out a hand to the young woman, Jean waited until she grasped hers. Then she gave her the message as gently as possible.
"Is this true?"
"Yes." With that, Jean left leaving Tabitha alone with her thoughts.
She felt a great weight free itself from her, no longer a burden. She thought about the message again.
It stated, in Elisabeth's voice: "Tabitha. We both made mistakes that day. You are not to blame. Because of my arrogance, I opted to fight Creed instead of just using my powers on him. It would have ended the melee without a fuss, without him hurting you. I'm sorry I didn't react with better judgement.
"Please don't blame yourself wholly. Learn from it, be a better person for it. It works. I should know. I was once raped too. Good bye."
Tabitha kissed the top of the tombstone, "I will and thanks." With that, she left and started a new chapter in her life. Doing her best to make it a happier one.
First and foremost, this is a dark and disturbing piece. I'm a little surprised and wary of myself that I did this. It is graphic in it's violence and sickening at it's portrayal and suggestion of the violent crime of rape.
Why do this? You ask. Good question. I just saw the movie "the Sixth Sense" and on the drive home, I thought it would be interesting to do a small story about Elisabeth being dead and having to help someone before truly passing. Then I remembered the ranting and raving at RACMX a couple of weeks ago on whether or not Betsy is a 'Nimbo'. I don't believe that she is, but I did agree a lot with both sides of the argument. I wanted to show that both sides were right. So I decided to use the example everyone used, the dramatic fight between Elisabeth and Creed. (UXM #328) But I needed an angle. Then I remembered (possibly incorrectly) that Tabitha had an abusive father. Pieces clicked and five hours later the story was finished. In a sense I made Creed even more evil than he was, though it has been hinted that he was abusive in his relationship (if you could call it that) with Birdy.
Creed's death is what I felt Elisabeth did to Kaptain Briton, because they showed a burnt corpse still steaming in the Captain Britain Trade Paperback. I just intensified it a tad bit more.
The ending is a little longer than I planned, but I always hated stories that did not have some sense of closure.