Power Outage

January 03, 2016:

While delivering supplies to a shelter in M-Town, Scott, Betsy, and Anna-Marie come across a strangely powered child.

M-Town District - New York

A mutant outreach and homeless shelter with food pantry in M-Town.

Characters

NPCs: Leech

Mentions:

Mood Music: Mad World - Gary Jules & Michael Andrews


Fade In…

While District X, otherwise known as Mutant Town, is generally known as the territory of X-Red, that doesn't mean it's off-limits to other members of the X-Teams. In particular, one Scott Summers, that doesn't seem to have a team at the moment and serves more as Jean's eyes and ears out in the field while she handles the school. And he wanted to see for himself what has occured in M-Town after his incarceration a few months back while Purifiers and Reavers made their way into town to start causing their own trouble.

Arriving in a SUV from the Institute, the back of the vehicle is loaded with supplies from a coat and canned food drive that the Institute held to help out the food bank and shelters in Mutant Town. Opening the door, Scott steps out and looks around the street and gives a frown. "I can only imagine what would have happened had the Sentinels hit here instead." he mutters quietly as he goes around to open the door for his passenger. Sure, she may be his ex and best friend of his love, but he can still be polite - somewhat. Right? It's complicated.

A writer once claimed that 'A lady does not have doors opened for her because she is a woman; they are held open because she expects them to be'. So it is with Betsy, who seems quite content to sit in the front seat of the SUV until Scott comes around and opens the door for her. She accepts the offer of a hand for balance and steps out of the vehicle, careful on the still-broken parts of asphalt.

The heiress adjusts her double-breasted coat, the high collar turned up and a bundle of fun gathered to her chin. Some might feel somewhat self-conscious at wearing designer clothing in a disaster area, but she seems quite at ease. "Thank you, Scott," Betsy says, eyes swinging around to take in the sights. "The neighborhood's suffered tremendously these last months," she agrees, stepping around the back of the car in knee-high stiletto boots. She opens the trunk and gathers two large canvas bags full of canned goods up, one in each hand. "I didn't think it'd survive the airstrikes, much less the Purifiers, but…" she looks around with lips pursed approvingly at the sight of the ongoing repairs and the lively life and post-holiday spirits.

"They're doing well. Shall we?" she asks, flicking her head towards the shelter area and sending her high-backed ponytail whipping behind her.

"High spirits is one thing, Betsy. Broken buildings is another." Scott frowns, noticing the distinct lack of diverse companies working on the repairs. It seems to be mostly a small smattering of construction companies that are most likely owned by mutants themselves that have dared to make their way down to assist with the repairs. However, for the most part, it seems that more people are making due with what was already on hand. Blue tarps are still noticeable, what was supposed to be temporary cover pressed into a more semi-permanent service.

Releasing her hand once she's settled on the sidewalk, Scott heads around to the back of the vehicle to open it up. There's a few stacks of blankets, a couple boxes loaded with new and used coats, and several boxes of canned and boxed goods stacked up. Reaching to grab a few of the boxes, he starts to balance them in place to carry them inside. "Not to change the subject.. but on the Purifiers and such." Scott ventures. "Jean has thought it a good idea to start to find in-roads to liaisons to the various organizations that we could make outreach to." he explains as he adjusts a box. "She has Emma working with the Aletians. I had thought that with your connections with the JLA.." Not that he knows her brother is also Captain Britain, he just knows she works with them quite often, "…if you might be interested. Unless you can't fit that into the busy life of a Lady socialite." It's only a partial tease.

It isn't often that Rogue comes to Mutant Town, this being one place that reminds her of too many bad things from her past, things better off left as ghosts than to be dredged up and have haunt her. It is with a lot of reluctance that she comes but she arrives alone, deciding to let the others drive while she flies. Flying always helps clear her head, after all, and she feels that having one will benefit her now, giving her a chance to brace herself for what she might see.

Scott and Betsy are seen as she comes in for a landing, the belle's feet finding ground about ten feet or so from where they parked, her hands finding the pockets of her jacket once she is upon terra firma once more. "Hey, you two." That's it for a greeting, it kept short and sweet. No offer of help just yet as she has yet to decide if she is going to stay long enough to do so.

"Socialite is a gender-specific term, Scott," Betsy says primly, moving with little effort despite the heavy bags in each hand. "And one can hardly /be/ a socialite without rising to any occasion, whether fashionable or not, but particularly when charity's involved. I'll make some calls."

She flashes a smile at the aid worker who opens the door for her, and passes the clanking, can-filled bags off to a pair of strapping young men who are eager to impress— and who promptly nearly drop the goods on the ground at the unexpected weight. Betsy lifts, yo.

"Anna," Betsy says, unruffled by Rogue's arrival as she steps back out onto the street. "Be a dear— there's that rather heavy wooden crate? It's a bit cumbersome for me," she says, flashing a quick smile at the southern belle.

"Anna-Marie." Scott greets, gesturing towards the boxes. "Many hands make light work." She arrived, she's drafted. It's how Scott works after all. When the door of the shelter opens, a few people come out, milling about, as they head off to try to find work or something to do during the daytime hours.

From around a corner, several kids come out around, chasing after a soccer ball. Seeing the truck being unloaded, a few of them go over to watch the goings-on, hoping maybe that there is candy involved somehow as a few others are eyeing the coats and food.

"Ah knew Ah shoulda stayed at the mansion," Rogue half-jokes even as she takes up the crate, hefting it like one might pick up a half-filled paper bag. Totally effortless on her part. "Tell me where ya want this, Slim, and Ah'll get it there in no time at all." Pausing, she looks at them both, looking like she might say something, but she must think better of it and just half-smiles at them.

When she moves one of the kids darts right in front of her, causing her to stop in mid-step. Thankfully the crate she's carrying is not too heavy or awkward for her, otherwise the child might have ran the risk of getting it dropped on their head. "Hey now. Careful. Don't want to hurt ya any…" Shaking her head in amusement, she continues on her way, moving slowly so she can pick up on Scott's answer so she'll know where this is supposed to go.

Betsy eyes the soccer ball as it comes her way. On the one hand… her new Zigi boots, which are eminently fashion-forward if impractical for anyone not possessed of ninja reflexes and balance. On the other hand, football…

The decision is made before she's consciously aware of it, and Betsy puts a booted toe atop the ball. In a moment she flicks it up onto her knee, then pops it into the air and catches it on her head, moving to the SUV again.

"Hey, lady! Pass it!" one kid calls.

"No, I think it's mine, now," Bety says, rolling her body sinuously and letting the football slide down her outfit and land on the ground again. She picks up a bag and starts walking briskly back to the shelter, effortlessly dribbling the ball to herself without so much as a hitch in her step. "Unless you think you can take it back?"

Three of the kids look at one another, and rush Betsy with glee on their faces!

"I think there's a warehouse around back, if you don't mind flying it over." Scott starts to offer as he feels a slight tingling in his head. It starts as a slight tingle and then a sharp pain that makes him absolutely dizzy. He actually has to pause, setting down the box to reach up rub his temples before he closes his eyes, taking off his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose and then he gets an absolutely confused look as he actually — opens his eyes. There's only a flicker of power, and then it disappears, the normal overpowered outpouring of optic blasts not there, leaving only a pair of dark brown eyes. "The hell?" he says, confusion washing over his features.

It's not just Scott, either. Betsy will feel her psychic connections flagging and failing to match up. The box that Rogue was carrying so easily a moment ago starts to feel a whole lot heavier as some of the kids are chasing after the ball and Betsy, there's one kid that's climbed up into the back of the SUV, trying to pocket a few of the cans and greedily snags a box of fruit roll-ups.

Good thing Rogue hasn't taken to the air yet as the box gets to be too much for her and it has to be set down quickly before she hurts herself. Or something. Can she be hurt now? Who can say? "The hell," she murmurs, accidentally echoing the seemingly powerless Scott. "You two okay?" One of the kids bounces off of her legs and causes her to semi-fall, her hands coming out to brace herself on the crate. Her palms scrape along the surface, causing the normally near-invincible woman to pick up some splinters. "The hell!"

Turning around, she gives her friends a worried look, her mouth held in a frown. "Ah don't know what jus' happened, but Ah think we might want to get the hell outta here." Maybe putting distance between them and here will help?

Betsy blinks, feeling that cold numbness fleeting across her awareness of the area. "Children, inside," she says, face going flat with alert alarm as she looks this way and that, trying to identify the source of the influence. When they don't immediately reply, she snaps an icy amethyst gaze onto them. "/Now/!" she barks, in a tone that brooks no argument and needs no psychic influence to bolster. "Everyone get inside," Betsy urges the passers-by. "There are Purifiers coming." True or not, Betsy makes a convicing sounding story, and people start ducking for cover. She stalks over to the SUV and grabs the child bodily, hauling him aback onto the street. "Take it and run," she tells him. "Find your parents and hide."

"Are either of you armed?" she calls to Scott and Rogue, continuing to dig around the back of the vehicle.

As the child is grabbed, he squawks, his hat falling off of his head, revealing malformed green flesh. He turns to Betsy in fear, pupiless eyes wide with fright. He has no disconerable nose, his mouth froglike in appearance. Three fingered hands grab the box protectively. "Leech is sorry, ma'am!" he manages in fear. "Leech has no parents!" As she hauls him into the street, the boy covets the box, and without his hat, he's drawing stares from other kids - them themselves mutants. One child that had pink skin a moment ago now looks like a normal child.

Scott shakes his head to Betsy, looking towards her with non-lazored eyes. Those were his armament as he frowns towards Rogue. "Regroup, and head inside. I don't see anything in the air. Maybe a chemical attack?" he asks as he rubs the side of his head.

The children are starting to run off, including the green-skin child. As he starts to get further away, Betsy, with her sensitive psychic abilities will realize first that her powers are starting to return, the fearful thoughts of those around her hitting like a ton of bricks.

"Ah don't think…" Rogue looks at her hands and starts to pull out little shards of wood from her flesh but once the strange kid with the weird eyes and a nose like Voldemort moves far away enough she notices that her body pushes them out on its own. "Okay. Ah have no idea what's goin' on, here." The crate is looked at she she attempts to lift it so she can see if she's alright.

As she attempts that she looks at Betsy, her head angling to the side which causes that large swatch of white hair to fall in her face despite the makeshift headband that's tied into place about her brow. "Betsy, ya got any idea what happened?" This is asked with a quiver of worry, a twinge of concern. As for Scott, she simply says, "Ah think we should hurry and get the stuff inside and then get outta here. This place is strange."

"Then inside the shelter. Move smartly," Betsy says, calmly reaching the SUV. She opens a hidden compartment just inside the door and comes up with a stout canvas bag that looks suspiciously tactical in design, and starts to turn back to the center.

She stops as the feelings of fear and various psychic impressions wash over her, and it gives her pause enough to warrant putting a hand on the car for balance. "It's… Scott, glasses," she orders the man. "I can feel it— whatever it is— waning. It seems to have been temporary," she says. "Maybe some lingering Smooth particles in the area."

Hearing Betsy's orders as well as the familiar feeling of that headache that announces his powers, Scott quickly gets the ruby lenses back in place. "Smooth amplified powers, not negated them.." he says in relative confusion towards Betsy. Rogue's thoughts on the matter are taken into consideration as the man looks between the two. With their no sign of imminent attack anywhere around them, he glances towards Betsy's bag and shakes his head. "I don't think that's the issue." he starts to say, trying to gather his thoughts to put two and two together.

In the meantime, some of the children are running down the street, screaming in fear while a few of the older ones are yelling something about chasing the frog-faced kid, forming up their own ideas of what happened and how they plan on handling it.

The crate is flown to the warehouse while she can, Rogue still not sure what happened and wanting to hurry the hell up so they can leave. It's when she returns that she notices the kids, their behavior getting her to frown. "Hey now, y'all leave that kid alone!" Not thinking, she swoops in to come to the rescue, wanting to get Leech out of whatever harm his peers might have in mind, not yet putting two and two together as to what caused their powers to fail in the first place.

Being so close to him, it doesn't take long for her powers to peter out again and she has to come in for a landing. This is when it finally dawns on her and she winds up holding the kid away from her, her hands held under his arms, his back facing her, looking like someone who is holding a baby with an overloaded diaper. "Uh, y'all might want to stay away from this guy."

Betsy glances at Scott, then starts walking towards Rogue and the children. Sure enough, she feels that miasma washing over her, her talents dwindling with proximity to Leech. She steps back a few paces and feels her gifts reasserting themselves.

"X-gene suppression," she calls to Scott, glancing from him to Leech. "Unsure how it's being done, however. Young man," she says, looking to Leech. "I'm not cross with you," she assures him. She bends down a few inches, then hunkers into a squat, knees aimed sideways. "And you aren't in trouble. Would you mind coming here for a moment?" she invites him. "I need some help with a problem and I think you can help me."

Rogue will notice that her powers started acting up when she was about a bus-length away from Leech. As she grabs the child by the back of his coat, he struggles fitfully. "Leech not hurt anyone! Leech not cause trouble!" he cries out, struggling against Rogue, dropping his box of fruit rollups, canned goods, and even a toothbrush and toothpaste as he grabs Rogue's bared skin at her wrist. This usually would be a very bad thing, but for the first time in a long time - there's no effect. Someone touches Rogue and there's no immediate absorption of powers and memories.

Now if only he was better looking.

Scott nods as he follows after Betsy, leaving his glasses on, just in case the power fluctuations go wild again as he nods towards the psychic, agreeing with her assesment of what they're facing off against. The boy struggles fitfully in Rogue's grasp. "Leech not want to be taken away. Leech knows. Will be experiemnted on. Dissected. Like frog!" the young boy, no more than thirteen, is scared to death. Suddenly he moves, jerking around in Anna-Marie's arms to grab her wrist and bites her.

Of course the kid gets dropped. That hurts like a sunuva… yeah. Screeching, the injured heroine looks at her wrist, frowning as she watches the teeth marks start to bleed. Even if her powers were to return it'll take some time for that to heal up and the bite is in need of being washed out. Mouths are dirty things, after all.

"Ah had enough of this. Ah'm heading back." Betsy and Scott are given a curt nod before she walks down the street, her pace hurried. Without knowing for certain the range of Leech's power or whatever it is, she wants to get some good distance between where he ran off to and herself before trying to fly.

As Rogue drops him, Leech takes off running, slipping through a boarded up door too small for Betsy to immediately follow after him.

Scott lifts his hand trying to get the two women to slow, though he frowns as Anna flies off. "We don't need to scare him more.." he says quietly to Betsy, worry creasing his features. He feels for the child. He knows of the lynch mob mentality the child might feel, remembering that day when he accidentally brought down a crane with his powers and how people stared in fear and anger at a much younger Scott.

Sometime Later…

Leech scrambled and crawled through the ruins of the building, making his way down into the basement of the building that had been marked for demolishment after the air attack on Mutant Town. Pushing aside an old mattress he crawled through a freshly dug opening and into the abandoned subway tunnels below. He was met there by a met pink skinned mutant with a molted head. Leech waved to the boy and gave a grin. "Leech was able to get close, Aunt will be proud."

The pink skinned mutant, Artie, offered a grin in response and a little picture of a series of fireworks appeared in Leech's head. Leech grinned and grabbed his friends' hand. "Come on, Leech knows they will fix you soon!"

The two young friends travelled down a series of tunnels through the Mutant Town underground before coming to a large opening. It had once was going to serve as the footprint of a building before the Great Depression caused it to come to a close and the city had been built over it. However, the large plated walls, grand columns, and marbled floors of the original building were still in place. Scattered about it were several mutants, all of them homeless, the dredges of society that had made themselves at home within the former ruins.

They were the survivors and the newly found. Those that had lived through the Morlock Massacre that had occured a decade before, and were now starting to slowly rebuild their society. One woman, dressed in a flapper style dress and fringed hat worked on counting out weapons they had liberated from Purifiers and Reavers that were left behind after battles between them and various heroes.

Another large man loomed nearby, watching the woman with interest as she counted out the weapons before a scream of pain drew both of their attentions.

In the middle of the large room, where originally there was a going to be the start of a massive fountain, the stone blocks had been coverted to a seat of sorts. Standing off of it for the moment was a figure in purple robes, his hands placed against a Purifier who was shouting curses and spitting at the figure. "I don't know anything about them! I'm just a soldier, one that is in the business of killing freaks like you!"

"You bray and brave in your last moments." the robed figure intoned. "I am sure you will not enjoy them." Pressing his hand to the man's side, the flesh mutated and deformed, peeling away from his ribs, and ripping muscle in the process. The Pruifier screamed again in pain.

"Leech find, Leech find!" the voice of the child interrupted the robed figure's work. Running up proudly, Leech waved a card back and forth in his hand as he came up to the figure.

The figure leaned down and pulled back his purple hood, revealing a scarred and malformed face. "What did you find?" he asked quietly.

Leech handed over the card. "Leech find. Leech proud!" With that, he handed over the driver's license that he had managed to steal from the SUV while he had been digging around within it.

Picking up the card in his fingers, he looked at the picture of the gorgeous Asian woman on the front of it and smiled. "Elisabeth Braddock." he said quietly, fingering the card and then lifting it to his nose, smelling it as he drew in what he thought was her perfume on it. "Yes, she is quite a find, Leech. You have done well."

"Leech proud! Masque fix Artie now?" Leech asked, clapping his hands in excitement as he moved to his friend and pushed the pink skin mutant forward. Artie smiled in embarassment, and projected an image of a young woman blushing in embarassement.

Masque reached down, cradling the boy's face, and the deformed and molted skin changed and drifted, and before long, Artie looked like a nomral, albeit pupiless young 12 year old. He opened his mouth, but no words came out, and this caused both children to frown. Masque looked sternly at the children. "When she is mine, and Mutant Town is free, you will be completed. Now run along to your Aunt."

The children left and returned to the middle age woman wearing a shaw and used a cane for assistant. "Artie! Leech! How are my two handsome boys?" she said with a smile as she hugged them both. "On Artie, you look so good! But I love you no matter how you look!" she projected warm and comforting thoughts on both children.

"Morlocks!" Masque called out as he moved to rise up to stand on the dias of the fountain. "For a decade we have hidden from the world. We have been called outcasts. Rejected by the world, rejected by our own kind! Our so-called defenders claim to protect us all, but they only do it for the glamour, for the glory! They only react, they do not take our protection seriously! They arrive only when we're attacked, only when we're harmed. That is no longer acceptable. We have hidden for too long. We have been forced away from our homes, our /world/ for too long. By things like this!" and he pointed at the Purifier who started cursing at them angrilly. Masque shoved his hand to the Purifier's mouth and sealed it shut.

"No more! We are going to leave the dark! We are going to step into the light! We will have a normal life, we will grow our family. The Morlocks will no longer be the bottom of society, we will rise to the top!"

Grabbing the Purifier's chest, Masque morphed the skin, exposing the Purifier's beating heart. To the cheers of the crowd, he forced the ribs of the Purifier to pierce his own heart, causing the Purifier to throw back his head and scream in mute pain as his heart continued to beat around his lungs. The crowd roared their approval.

Turning the children away from the show of violence, she made comforting sounds. "Shh, shh, Aunt Annalee will take care of you, my little ones. Soon we will have even more children to care for."

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