B A Y V I L L E H I G H S C H O O L
Midday | Bayville, New York City
Griff's throat was moment's away from being split open when a flash of cold struck against his skin. The whimpering teenager looked down to find the earthen tendril encased in a solid block of ice, wriggling and writhing in a vain attempt to escape its frozen prison. "S-shit, man-" He gagged, stuck trying to process the fact that he was still alive. His breath appeared in front of him like the wisps of a ghostly hand. He had noticed it before, but the temperature in the room had dipped- he could feel goosebumps crawling up along his sweat-slicked arms.'The hell?'
He thought, bewildered, turning his eyes toward the only possible source.
The man made of snow had pulled himself up off the ground. 'Iceman,' the one with the weird glasses had called him, was hunched over, his shoulders taut and his chest heaving with labored breath. "Pretty brave guy, tryin' to kill a kid that can't fight back." The mutant superhero spat as he straightened his back and stared Lance down with an all-too cocky grin plastered on his face. "Bet you don't have the stones
to take me, though!"
Both mutants moved simultaneously, too fast for Griff to comprehend it all. Shards of ice and pillars of stone soared through the air in a chaotic battle of the elements as winter and earth struggled for dominance over one another. Iceman was much more mobile than his opponent, taking to ducking and rolling as he chucked constructs and blasts in Lance's direction. Lance didn't bother moving much, only ever directing the ground to attack Iceman or to defend himself with a twitch of his hand.
He was so engrossed by the lethal dance that he hadn't noticed the other mutant until he was pulling apart at the binds that held Griff in place. Giant, gorilla-like hands tore at stone and dirt with disturbing ease, breaking them down until Griff was finally free for the first time in what felt like an eternity. He landed on his hands and knees, the numbness in his legs and arms making it impossible to stand. Beast took Griff by the shoulders and wrenched him back to his feet, beckoning Griffin wordlessly to move back to the far wall. The big guy pulled Rem and Duncan down, too, ushering them to join Griffin in cowering in the corner while the X-Men dealt with Lance.
"This is so fucking crazy." Rem whimpered, tears running freely down his rounded cheeks. "We're gonna fuckin die, man-"
Duncan took him by the arm and jerked on it roughly."-We'll be fine." He whispered, his throat hoarse. "Tell him, Griff. We're gonna be okay, right?"
But Griffin didn't say anything. He was too busy watching Lance fight. Scrawny, lonely little Lance was tearing apart the locker room like it was nothing. Directing rocks to fly and dirt to bend like he was some kinda sick puppeteer. Griff had always heard about mutants doing stuff like this, even seen some videos online. But he'd never seen it in person. It was...terrifying.
"You three!" A voice shouted in their direction. Griff looked and found Cyclops pointing toward them. He was making a motion for them to come toward him. "I'll cover you, but you need to move, now!
" He sounded young- probably not much older than Griff. But there something in the way he spoke that made Griff trust him. Something that prompted him to rise to his feet in a crouch.
He looked back at Rem and Duncan. "Let's go. Stay close." Griff ordered. They both glanced at each other, nervously, but they nodded. Griff started forward. He was quick, but he kept himself low and pressed up against the wall to keep himself as far away from Lance as humanly possible. The other two were right behind him. It wasn't a long shot from the locker room's exit, but with all the shit flying through the air, he wasn't sure he was gonna make it-
"Where do you think you're
going?!" A furious cry rose up over the sound of violence. Lance let out an enraged scream, throwing a palm in Griffin's direction and beckoning a swarm of dagger-like stones to make their final resting place inside of Griff's skull.
Before Griff even had a chance to register the attack it was intercepted by a light as bright as the sun and as red as human blood. A beam that shot through the air with a sound like a maligned fog horn turned the stones into dust, then kept going and punched a hole through three layers of wall until it disappeared outside the school. Griff followed the beam back to its source just in time to see Cyclops removing his finger from his visor, causing the laser to vanish and leaving behind nothing but the destruction and sizzling air in its wake.
As much as Griff wanted to run, he found his body no longer responding. He was stuck there, staring up at Cyclops with his mouth agape and his heart thudding against his chest.
It wasn't until he felt Duncan's hands shoving up against his back that Griff was able to shake it off and continue forward, though his sprint was now more of a series of stumbles and near-falls. He clambered along the ground on his hands and feet until he reached the exit that would lead out into the gym. Both Rem and Duncan didn't spare a second as they went running full-bore to safety, but Griff paused at the entrance to look back at it all and just...stare.'What the hell are you?'
Almost as if he'd somehow heard Griff's thoughts, Cyclops had turned around. Griffin flinched just at the sight of that ruby-red glass.
"Get out of here!" Cyclops shouted. "Go! We'll hold him off!"
It was more than enough for Griff and he gave the mutant a dull, slow nod before turning on his heel and making a break for the nearest exit. The sound of that eye blast ringing over and over and over again in his head while he ran, even as the sounds of the struggle faded to nothing but a dull and distant drone behind him.
"Is this really all you've got?" Bobby Drake laughed, jumping back to avoid a pillar to the chin. He responded by tossing an empty hand forward like he was holding a baseball, only for a cluster of ice to manifest and fling in Lance's direction. "You're puttin' me to sleep over here!"
Lance brought up a wall of packed dirt to block the blow, building it up until it was touching the ceiling only to usher it to collapse forward toward Iceman and Cyclops. "Just SHUT UP ALREADY!
" He snarled, his face red hot and pale as a ghost. Blood was slipping down the side of his cheek from a well-placed icicle the X-Man had thrown earlier; it was mingling with the sweat that had fallen down from Lance's brow and the dirt that stuck to his face.
"Focus, Iceman!" Cyclops yelled, rolling backward to get out of the path of the falling tsunami of dirt and mud. "We need to-"
"Relax, Sc- Cyclops, Jesus!" Drake responded. "This guy's a walk in the park for me." To prove his point he chose not to move out of the way of the falling dirt, instead choosing to press a hand into it and flash freeze the entire wall while it was mid-fall. Ice and frost rapidly crossed over the mound, sticking it together and keeping it suspended in the air above Iceman's head. "See that?" He started, turning around to gloat toward Scott. "This guy ain't shi-"
A tendril snaked around the side of the barrier, a stone hoisted in its grip. Scott went to warn Iceman, but it was too late, the words trapped in his throat even as the stone was loosed and slammed into the side of Bobby's head with enough force to send him stumbling to the floor. Red began to leak through the snow packed around the teenage mutant's skull.
"Damn it, no!" Scott growled, sliding down on his knees to reach Bobby's side. He hoisted Iceman's head up and placed it on his lap, digging through the tightly packed snow to find the wound itself. Bobby's quiet groaning meant he was still alive, thank God, but Scott had to make sure it wasn't going to get any worse. "Beast? He's hurt pretty bad." He said, turning his head up to look for Hank McCoy, the team's resident medic.
Hank wasn't doing much better than them. He was fighting just to get in arm's reach of Lance, struggling to get passed every barrier the mutant erected. Walls of dirt or rock had to be climbed over or sidestepped. The ground falling away and being replaced by a mud pit had to be leaped over. Earthen hands looking to pin him down or knock him onto his back had to be either broken or dodged. All the while he had to avoid every manner of thrown rock, dagger or construct that was sent his way. It was an infuriating affair that kept McCoy from making much progress at all, and every failed attempt to get two steps forward only made the Beast all the angrier.
"When I get my hands on you-" Beast snarled, Cyclops's voice lost in the sound of blood beating in his ear. He wanted so desperately to put his hands on Lance. He wanted it with every fiber of his being. Nothing else in the world mattered as he reached for the scrawny little monster's face, barely unable to get ahold of him.
"Beast!" Cyclops called again, louder this time. "Beast, he needs you!"
Nothing. Hank didn't so much as look his way.
Scott had had just about enough of this.
He'd never explained to anyone just how much it hurt to use his powers. That feeling of energy crackling inside of his eyeballs was always there, like a constant reminder of what he was, but it became almost unbearable whenever he let the energy loose. It was like his entire head was on fire, or what he imagined it felt like to be on fire. And there was this immense pressure on his face- part of him wondered if it might just collapse in on itself if he used his powers for too long. Or maybe his eyeballs would burn up. He never really wanted to test either hypothesis.
And then there was that sound. It was loud and terrible for everyone else, sure, but Scott...Scott heard it inside his head, pounding against his skull like a jackhammer.
It took every ounce of self-control not to flinch or look away. If his eyelids moved in the path of the beam it would knock the laser off course and he'd put everyone nearby in danger. So he focused with every fiber of his being, staring at the ceiling tile just above Lance's head. He watched it explode into chunks and burning insulation in less than a moment. It all started to fall along with bits of superheated steel, wiring and all other manner of debris. Scott only kept the visor open for a portion of a second, but even that had been too much, given just how many layers he'd blown through that he was able to see daylight at the end of it.
He snapped it shut and nearly collapsed to the floor, only narrowly catching himself against the nearest wall.
Lance's panicked shouting had been lost in the sound of Cyclops's attack. He desperately threw a barrier over his head to stop the debris, though, given the screaming that followed, it evidently didn't block all of it.
Hank was promptly snapped out of his trance by the attack and came rushing toward the other two X-Men, his face contorted with some measure of shame and concern as he finally noticed the condition that Bobby was in. He passed by the recovering Cyclops and went straight for Iceman, making a quick field check of the wound before carefully lifting Bobby between his arms. "Can you walk?" He asked, looking back to Scott.
It took a few seconds before Summers managed a nod, slowly working his way to his feet. McCoy awkwardly shuffled over and brought one of Scott's arms over his shoulder, leading the way out of the locker room as best he could.
"Wait..." Scott coughed. "Lance..."
"No time," Hank shook his head profusely. "Cops are starting to break in. We gotta get outta here unless we want to be blamed for all of this too."
"We can't...a..aband..on-" Scott tried to say, but he found himself stumbling down to the floor as darkness enveloped his ruby-red vision.
Lance Alvers let out a pained groan as he managed to snuff out the last of the burning material that had fallen on his head. The world was spinning all around him, panic pounding against his inner ear as he tried to make sense of it all.
He could hear footsteps in the hallway and shouting. People were coming this way. Maybe only a few of them, but even if he managed to fight them off, there'd be more. That...Cyclops guy was right. There'd always be more; chasing him to the edge of the earth for what he did here.'No,'
He corrected with a silent sneer. 'For being what I am.'
He hadn't expected it to end this way. He hadn't...really had a plan to begin with. But he had known he wanted to get back at Griff and those other assholes for what they were doing to him. And what they were gonna
do to him. Then those other
assholes showed up. All dressed up like superheroes. Why'd they attack him? Why'd they side with the guys that were gonna try to kill him just for being a mutant? It didn't make sense. It wasn't supposed to work that way.
Lance slunk to the floor of the destroyed locker room surrounded by the destruction their battle had wrought. He sat on the only part not covered in sharp rocks and metal, dragging his knees up to his chest so he could rest his head on them. He...he shouldn't have done it. He thought he was okay with the consequences- he thought he'd really thought it through. But hearing the sirens outside? Fighting those other people? And hearing what had to be cops coming?
He'd been wrong. So, so wrong.
He'd do anything for a second chance.
"NYPD, put your hands in the air!" The command came from the entrance to the locker room. A big man with broad shoulders, all wrapped in dark blue, stepped inside, a pistol held in Lance's direction. There was another guy with him shouting orders- he had a gun too.
"I told you to put your hands in the fucking air, freak!" The first one screamed again. "Put 'em up, now!
Lance lifted his eyes toward them, though he didn't make a move. It was funny. He'd just fought a bunch of people with superpowers, but now that he saw those iron eyes pointed at him, he couldn't so much as lift his hands. Maybe he was just tired. Yeah...yeah, that made sense. He just needed a second to catch his breath, then he'd listen to them. Prison for life was better than dying, right? Or maybe it wasn't. He wasn't sure. He'd never been to prison before, so he couldn't really say.
"Something's wrong with him." One of the officers said, hesitating. "Should we try to cuff him?"
"Are you kidding me? Do you see what he did to this place? I'm not going anywhere near him."
"Maybe we should just shoot him."
The second paused, mulling it over. "Yeah. Maybe."
Lance snapped his eyes shut and held in his breath, preparing himself for it. He heard the shots before he felt them.
They were loud. Almost as loud as that other mutant's laser. He didn't know if he was supposed to hear the guns before he felt them- that didn't sound right. But even if he was, he figured he should've been hit by now. Unless they missed?
Then he heard something hit the ground. Two somethings, actually. They sounded big, fat and meaty, like somebody had dropped a couple of steaks by accident.
Lance let his eyes flutter open in confusion, glancing up to find his would-be executors lying in pools of blood and other fluids he didn't want to identify. Each had a little red hole in the back of their head, and there was someone else standing over their corpses. Another cop, his gun pointed toward the ceiling and his other hand held out toward Lance.
"Come with me, little brother." The man said with a warm, inviting smile. "And I will keep you safe."
That was all Lance needed to hear as he reached up and took the stranger's hand.