Title: Seasons of Growth
Chapter 6: A Warning Sign
Author: November Tuesday
Rating: NC-17 for violence
Summary: A mission changes Rogue's life forever.
Continuity: Series begins 3 years after X1.
Disclaimer: Marvel, Fox, Brian Singer yadda yadda yadda
Archive: Sure, and if it's someplace other than list archives, please
let me know.
Feedback: is my lifeblood. Please please please!
Author's Notes: Thanks to N. E. Star for beta.
"There's a warnin' sign on the road ahead,
There's a lot of people sayin' we'd be better off dead.
Don't feel like Satan but I am to them,
So I try to forget it anyway I can..." --Neil Young
Rogue zipped her leather pants. Nervously adjusted her halter top.
She brushed opalescent glitter onto her eyes. Dark liner in efficient
movements. Jubilee was switching her usual piercings for dayglo ones.
The inside of her mouth glowed violet and the hollow of her navel was
"Try this." Jubilee handed her the lipstick. It was a violet-blue
shade. Perfect on her. She looked gothy-Euro-trashy. She'd worked gel
into her hair to hide its luster.
Jubilee looked different in black, without a speck of yellow. She
wore Rogue's sheer black top, spandex shorts under her mini skirt.
Kitty was having a little more trouble with the look. Her lips were
pink. "C'mere, Kitkat."
Kitty, relieved, came over and allowed Rogue to make her over. She
had never seen Kitty look anything other than soft, wearing shades of
pink. With a comb Rogue quickly parted a line down the center of her
hair, black nails flashing, and combed out the two sections. She
wound each one into a little nub on top of Kitty's head, secured them
with covert bobby pins, enhancing her feline appearance, then,
covering Kitty's eyes with a cupped palm she cemented the look with
Meanwhile Jubilee went to work on her with the kohl and purple
There was a knock at the door. "Come in," Jubilee called, tension in
her voice. Storm walked in, wearing perfectly fitted silver pants and
a slip of a top. They never knew that her navel was pierced.
"You look good, Stormy."
"Thank you. Can you do my hair?"
"Sure." Rogue finished applying brown lipstick to Kitty, then started
tousling Storm's hair into peaks like meringue.
John walked in.
"Hey," Jubilee said. "Hair?"
Rogue wet her hands and slicked them with gel. John's hair was in
perfect spikes. She affixed a fake piercing to his nose. "You're
"Rogue, am I printing?" Storm lifted her arms above her head,
shifting back and forth in front of the mirror. Her top was loose
white gauzy fabric that showed no evidence of the gun taped between
her breasts. All of the A team members were carrying.
"No, you're good. Jean wanted some of that body tape."
"Me too," Kitty said. Storm handed her the tape. She was wearing a
tiny gold Betsy Johnson dress. She hiked her leg up on to the
countertop and John blinked at the expanse of leg it revealed. She
pulled the spandex workout pants up and taped her gun to the inside
of her thigh.
"You look cute, Kit." Jubilee said. "If I'd have known you had that
I'd have swiped it. It's almost yellow."
"You look fine in black. Though I don't know where you're gonna carry
"Don't need one."
Rogue looked at the clock. "Where the hell is everyone? It's almost
The team was to rendezvous at one in the morning in the room Rogue,
Kitty, and Jubilee shared for final "costume" touches.
There was a knock on the door and Scott, Jean, and Bobby entered.
Jean was wearing low-rise jeans and a red sequined top. Scott wore
leather pants and a sheer black tee shirt. Bobby wasn't wearing a
shirt at all.
"'Bout time," Rogue said. She pulled her silvery top from its hanger
and handed it to Bobby. It was too tight, but he left it open halfway
down his chest and the look worked.
Rogue shouldered a backpack containing first aid supplies, latex
gloves, ammo, gas canisters, and body bags.
Now that costumes were done, Scott took charge. "Pyro and Kitty,
Kitty lifted her skirt. John lifted his shirt. A revolver was tucked
into the waist of his pants.
"Okay. Any questions?"
No one had any.
"Any questions about the telepathic hub?"
Still no questions. They were quiet. They all were either tense or
"Okay. Let's roll." It was the way he started all his missions, his
homage to Todd Beamer.
Despite the late hour Xavier saw them off. "You all look the part.
Call me when you ID the perps and I'll give you directions."
The Blackbird reached South Philadelphia in twenty minutes. It was
ideal for landing. A Limp Bizkit concert had let out three hours ago,
and the expanse of asphalt and stadiums and industrial plants was
practically deserted. The only sign of life was a warehouse with
broken windows and rust stains.
Their intelligence told them that it was the biggest cell of the
Humana Coalition, an organization composed of fine folks from the
Aryan Brotherhood, the Ku Klux Klan, castoffs from the Friends of
Humanity, with a few ex-cons thrown in for good measure. In the
basement they were supposedly raping and torturing mutants. The upper
levels were deserted during the day. But on this particular night
there was a rave on the top floor.
They infiltrated the building the same way as everyone else, by
waiting in line and paying their twelve bucks to get in. No one was
carding. There was no security to speak of except for one mohawked
bouncer. Inside, colored lights danced through smoke. The air
quivered in a rapid techno heartbeat.
Kitty and Scott went first, then Storm. Rogue and Jean came in close
behind them, and then Bobby, Jubilee, and John. Hank and Darla, the
nurse, were standing by on the plane.
The teams spread out looking for the stairway. The blueprints on file
at the Philadelphia courthouse showed that it was behind the bar, but
these things weren't always accurate.
Jean was dancing, her top tossing sparks of light as she moved. Her
eyes were closed and to any observer she was tripping out on some
substance, but in reality she was the telepathic hub of all their
communication, and she was focusing hard on all of it. Comm devices
were too obvious, so both teams had trained for hours to be able to
maintain telepathic thought flow in a combat situation. It took an
enormous amount of effort to tune out the thoughts of those around
her and to reach out to the X Men.
Scott went into the bar and ordered a scotch. He surveyed the crowd,
eyes darting behind the shades. He was in charge of this operation
and he kept an eye on all of his people, especially Jean, and
pretended to sip his Scotch.
Jubilee: ~Found the stairway, just west of the bar. No security.~
Cyclops: ~Blow it.~
Jubilee made the door explode inward, one rapid explosion in a single
beat of the song. Scott could feel the difference of that particular
beat, a low vibration, but no one else noticed.
Cyclops: ~Shadowcat, take point.~
Shadowcat: ~Stairway secured.~
Kitty crept down the stairs and phased momentarily through the wall.
She saw one large room, once an assembly floor, with desks, wooden
crates, and a huge copier that was spitting out anti-mutant
propaganda. There were seven people doing mundane office duties, six
men and one woman. One of them was talking on the phone.
Shadowcat: ~Seven perps, six male, one female. Two doors on the left,
one hallway, two hallways on the right. They haven`t spotted me.~
Cyclops: ~Let's knock `em out.~
Shadowcat: ~Stand by until she gets off the phone. We don't need to
tip anyone off.~
Cyclops: ~Copy, stand by. I want everybody but Jeannie on this
stairwell, and I want Jubilee and Pyro up front behind us.~ Scott
looked and ensured that everyone was there.
Jean still danced, eyes still unfocused and trippy, heart pounding,
able to reach and hold the thoughts of the whole group, without
conscious thought of her own, but with great effort. Sweat was
beading on her pale skin.
Downstairs, Scott pulled out a canister the size of his fist.
~Shadowcat, you secure the first right hallway; if the blueprints are
right there are more rooms that way. Pyro, go with. When it's secure,
Cat, come back for perp ID.~ Kitty and Pyro nodded.
~Iceman, you secure the second right hallway. Jubilee, secure the
left hall and behind those doors. Blow `em if necessary.~ They
nodded. ~If anyone sees casualties, tell Rogue. Rogue, triage and
evac. Pyro, Iceman, Jubilee, when your sectors are secure help Rogue
with casualties. Storm, wipe the computers. I'll monitor the exits
and secure the outer perimeter. Questions?~
Everyone shook their heads no.
Shadowcat: ~Okay, she's getting off the phone. Wait- go!~
With one fluid motion Scott rolled canister under a desk. No one
noticed it. When it discharged the hiss was lost in the noise from
above. Scott ducked back behind the wall and Kitty watched while the
six men and one woman became unconscious and fell to the floor.
At that moment a scream came from the first right corridor. Kitty and
Pyro glanced at Scott, then ran out. The others moved stealthily to
their sectors. Rogue moved down to the foot of the stairs, certain
there would be casualties, ready to move. She pulled on a pair of
Iceman: ~Second right hallway secure. Bathrooms secure.~
Storm went to the first computer and thrust a CD into its drive,
sucking out its data.
Jubilee: ~Left hall secure, first door unlocked, an empty supply
Cyclops: ~Kitty and Pyro?~
Shadowcat: ~Long room with five cells. Three perps, two whipping a
male. Five casualties.~
Beast: ~Copy.~ In the Blackbird, Hank and Darla sprung into action,
preparing gauze, sutures, syringes.
Cyclops: ~Are you sure the third one is a perp?~
Pyro: ~He's holding a gun.~
Cyclops: ~Kill `em all.~
Jubilee: ~Second door secure, broom closet.~
Three shots rang out and Rogue jumped. Then, there was only the
rhythmic thump from above.
Pyro and Kitty simultaneously: ~All three terminated.~
Rogue rushed in to rescue the casualties. She passed Kitty who was
running to ID the rest in the main room. She quickly went from person
to person in the main room and pulled out their wallets, obtained
fingerprints, and photographed them. With a click of a button all
seven photos were mailed to Xavier. The information would go into
their intelligence files and be used in future missions, the
fingerprints to be used in comparison to past crime scenes that
Xavier was privately investigating.
Rogue saw three women and two men, all in cages except for the man
who was being whipped. They were screaming for help. They were
bruised and cut and appeared dehydrated.
Rogue: ~Shadowcat, these cells are locked, I need you.~
Cyclops: ~Iceman, take over ID. Kitty, did you send photos?~
Shadowcat: ~Sent, X is reviewing them.~
Cyclops: ~Help Rogue.~
Shadowcat: ~I'm on it.~
Rogue: ~Hank, elderly black male, mutant colorings, was just whipped,
various freshly bleeding lacs to torso and extremities, bruise on
head indicating old trauma, confused and disoriented, John, take him
now.~ "You're gonna be okay, we're taking you someplace safe."
Cyclops: ~Stormy, computers?~
Storm: ~Done.~ She tucked the CD into her bag.
John ran through with the bleeding man.
Rogue surveyed the casualties and Kitty pulled them, one by one,
through their cells. The last woman was so weak she had to lift her
up and carry her.
Rogue: ~Anyone evac'ing casualties, put on latex gloves!~
Rogue: ~Hank, Black male, mutant colorings, superficial lacerations
to torso and extremities, bruise on head indicating old trauma, alert
and oriented times three...~ The camera phone that Bobby was holding
rang, he ran it over to Cyclops. "Hello?"
"Kill them all," Xavier's voice was spotty.
"Terminate all perps, copy. See you in a few." He hung up and
pocketed the phone. He pulled out his own Glock and made seven
rhythmic shots, in time with the beat.
Cyclops: ~Jean, what's goin' on up there?~
Jean: ~Business as usual, no police.~
Rogue: ~Hank, White female, lacs on arms and torso, contusions on
head, appears to be bleeding rectally, red sclera...~
Rogue: ~Hank, Black female, approx 60, contusions to head,
disoriented and too weak to stand, tachycardic, pupils equal and
round, needs to be carried...~
Iceman: ~ID and prints complete on perps.~
Cyclops: ~Help Rogue with casualties.~
Jubilee and Pyro each ran out with a wounded person. From where Storm
stood she could see Darla helping them into the Bird.
Rogue: ~White female, lacs and open sores on extremities, coherent
and agitated, contusions all over.~ "It's okay. We're gonna help
"I wanna go home."
"We'll take you home, but you're getting medical treatment first!"
~Kitty, escort this chick out before I deck her.~
Beast: ~Any more casualties, Rogue?~
Rogue: ~No. Oh Jeez. We've got bodies.~
Cyclops: ~How many?~
Rogue: ~Looks like three.~
Cyclops: ~Whoever has body bags, help Rogue, bring them out so their
families have something to bury.~
Down the hall, Rogue choked back the urge to vomit and was glad for
her gloves. Storm came to her side with vinyl bags and together they
As they pulled each body a trail of fluid was left and the skin on
one's foot nearly degloved. They worked quickly and efficiently,
ignoring the maggots. They kept going even when the third body was
only three feet tall and only took up half a body bag. A little girl.
The others carried out the dead without being told.
Cyclops: ~Who isn't at the back door?~
Rogue: ~Rogue, carrying a body out.~
Storm: ~Storm, same.~
Cyclops: ~Jeannie, ready to blow this taco stand?~
Jean: ~Copy. Approaching stairs.~
Cyclops: ~Stairs secure.~
Pyro: ~Back door secure, Blackbird visible, no company.~
Cyclops: ~Anyone not at the door?~
Silence, just the rhythmic thump from upstairs.
Cyclops: ~Move out.~
They ran single file to the Blackbird. Casualties were strapped into
chairs that converted into bunks and the bodies were stowed
underneath. Scott took the pilot's seat.
Storm stayed at the bottom of the stairs to vomit. Rogue sat next to
her and rubbed her back.
Hank: ~He's seizing! Don't take off.~
Cyclops: ~Copy.~ He shut down the engine. Bobby, Kitty, Remy, and
John buckled themselves in.
Cyclops: ~Ro and Rogue, where are you?~
Rogue: ~Shh, I hear something...I think we missed one! I'm going
back.~ She bolted back into the night.
Cyclops: ~Storm, Kat, go with.~ "How's that man doing?"
"He's in V-tach. If he starts seizing again we're up shit creek
without the proverbial paddle!" Hank shouted.
Storm and Kitty ran out to follow Rogue. She was running not toward
the warehouse, but to a dark row of dumpsters. She wondered if it was
Logan's residual hearing or just luck that let her hear the high weak
Rogue got there first. Gun ready, not waiting for Kitty, she peeked
around the corner of the dumpster.
~Oh my god, it's a little girl!~
In the jet, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked up.
Storm and Kitty gasped.
The child was crying. Old tears were drying on her chin and new ones
were falling over reddened cheeks. A bruise was blooming angry and
purple on her forehead.
"Momma..." she sobbed weakly.
Chapter 7 is up at novemberotica.com