Triggered

March 14, 2016:

People take notice of Rachel, now that she's out about, and Laura is likewise noticed by these same 'people'.

X-Men Bunker (HQ)

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Pictures have surfaced. One of Ray and another of X-23 and a third of the two sitting together at a certain eatery. These pictures found their way to people within several agencies that all start with various letters of the alphabet. Some of these agencies are sanctioned within the government, while others not so much. Either way, as these photos circulated opportunities were considered, ignored, passed up and then decided upon.

"We can use this to kill two birds with one stone." Comments a woman, her voice carefully modulated over the burner phone she speaks into, "We can get rid of our problem -" Who happens to be Rachel, "- All the while allowing you to regain control of the experiment dubbed X-23."

"Money is no problem." Says the same woman, even as she taps a manicured nail against her desk. "We want her dead for the crimes she committed against humanity." A few more noises can be heard from the other woman, as she quiets now, waiting for the other voice to speak.

On the other end a masculine voice finally speaks, "We can do that for you. Give us forty-eight hours."

And as the forty-eight hours passed, the team from The Facility finally struck. Ray, who is the much more homebound of the two, finally showed her face outside the hallowed halls of the X-Men bunker and into one of the places the team had been staking out. Westchester County, Salem Center. Sure, her jaunt is likely going to be a short one, but that short time is all The Facility requires.

As the red-head flows through the early afternoon crowd she'll find herself jostled into, thanks to a shift within the traffic of the crowd. The man who 'bumped' into her immediately offers a muffled, "Sorry.", and then he's melting back into the flow of people. The one odd thing about him is the quietness of his mind. Unlike the typical person out and about, his mind wasn't overflowing with the usual mental chatter normal folks have. Instead it was very focused, purposely so and should Ray reach out for him, she'll be unable to find his mentalscape any longer. Odd. Very odd. Definitely, but nothing else seems to happen in those next few seconds.


Mandatory socialisation training. That's Rachel's excuse for leaving the Institute. She needs to acclimatise to the outside world, learn how things work, and just get used to the idea that in this world, there aren't Hounds and Sentinels waiting for her around every corner. Today's lesson involved lunch with her older brother - something else she still hasn't entirely gotten used to.

For Rachel, it was fun and surprisingly easy. Mindful of the aftermath of her last trip, Rachel stuck to soft drinks and just enjoyed Nate's company, while getting used to the idea that she could actually relax while surrounded by non-mutants. When lunch was over, Rachel had waved off Nate's offer to escort her back to the Institute. "I'll be fine, Nate. It's a nice afternoon, go do something with it." She'd smirked. "If I get lost on the way home I'll call you, but I think I can handle it." And she'd waved, and melted into the crowd.

There was another reason that Rachel wanted to make her way back alone, that she didn't share with Nate. She wanted to test herself. She wanted to walk through this new world without feeling like she had to run or hide, and that was something she couldn't get from inside the X-Men's facility, or when chaperoned by an X-Man. She wanted to feel like she was really part of the world, not just observing it.

She still stuffs her hands into her pockets and hunches her shoulders a bit when Nate's out of sight. She knows she's still a work in progress.

When she's jostled into, she immediately tries to step out of the way, but there are people all around her. Just for a second, she feels a trickle of alarm, but then the man grunts his apology and vanishes into the crowd. Rachel's left standing still, the crowd flowing around her as she looks back, trying to locate the man, first with her eyes, then with her telepathy. Nothing. Rachel frowns, but then she's jostled again, and realises that she's causing an obstruction. "Sorry." Rachel says, not to anyone in particular, and starts moving again. After a moment, she smiles a bit, and some of the tension leaves her shoulders. She was just in the way. Just like anyone else.

The rest of the trip back to the Institute having passed without incident, Rachel slips back into the X-Men's complex using the rear entrance, a light telepathic field having covered her approach. As the door slides shut behind her she reaches up with a hand to massage the back of her neck. "You can make it back from lunch, Ray. Great. What are you going to do when they send you out for groceries?" Blowing out a breath, she shakes her head and starts walking back toward the room that's been allotted to her.


It's that between time for Laura and her classes. She has at least an hour, perhaps an hour and a half, before she has to make the trek back to the school building. With that much free time, the slim dark-haired assassin makes her way to the X-Men's bunker, intending to see how Rachel is doing. She's just making her way through the hallway that leads to Rachel's rooms, unaware that she's actually in front of the just returning red head. Mid-way down the hallway, sensitive ears will pick up those footfalls from Rachel and expectantly now, Laura will turn towards the other end of the hallway, now knowing that Rachel is behind her.

It's only when Rachel turns that corner and might possibly offer a greeting to Laura that something changes. The scent of the other woman easily wafts down the hallway now, carrying upon it that unique smell that Laura knows simply as the 'Trigger' scent. Those few milliseconds of awareness before the smell takes Laura completely over allows the slim assassin to say, "Ra -" That was the start of a normal greeting from Laura, but quickly now it changes to, "No." Laura's normal monotone voice is suddenly gone, as the timbre changes and some type of emotion actually colors those words of hers. The emotion that can be heard is something akin to horrified and perhaps fear, as well. Not for herself, but for Rachel.

The next sound(s) she makes, because it's definitely not a /true/ word, is a growl. It's a completely feral animalistic sound that's ripped from her throat, but somewhere within that deep rolling noise of hers, Rachel might hear a word. "GrrrrRRR -"

"- unnnn!" Whatever else that might have been said is completely lost now, as X-23 all but howls her rage.

A more familiar sound (for Rachel) might be heard now as the claws housed within X-23's hands are released with a loud *SNIKT*. Then she's moving. Faster than what Rachel has likely ever seen in the short time the two women have known each other. With two steps forward, X-23 leaps forward lightly, tucking herself into a quick somersault and only popping back to her feet once the tumble has been completed. Her little acrobatic move is intended to bring her up close and personal with Rachel and possibly, this move of X-23's will work, if Rachel's surprise is great enough to cause the other woman to hesitate just a little.


Rachel's annoyed that with each step she takes back toward her room, she feels tension easing from her neck and back. What was she telling Betsy, that she didn't want to hide and be protected? That might not have been as true as Rachel would like it to be. She's disappointed in herself, the enjoyment of the day dimming as she begins to wrap herself in gloomy thoughts, and she stuffs her hands into the pockets of her jeans. Rounding the last corner before her room, Rachel's become so self-absorbed that Laura's presence actually startles her into coming to an abrupt halt in the corridor. For just a second she looks at Laura in surprise, then offers a smile. "Hey, Laura…" She begins…

…and that's as far as she gets.

From Laura's point of view, Rachel's reactions might appear in slow motion. Her brows draw together in confusion as the other woman first begins to return her greeting, then cuts it off. Rachel's heal tilts to one side, a curious look spreading across her features as the clearly spoken 'no' registers. She draws in a breath, about to speak, to echo that 'No', but the growl stills Rachel's voice before she can do more than open her mouth. And then her eyes go wide as she hears the familiar sound of claws unsheathing, and for Rachel, things suddenly happen very fast.

Rachel takes an instinctive step back, yanking her hands free of her pockets, but in that time Laura has already covered half the distance between them and is leaping forward, impossibly fast. With surprise slowing her down, Rachel's physical reaction time isn't even close. Laura should have her dead to rights.

But Rachel's mind reacts faster than her body, instinctively, and a wave of telekinetic force aims to slam Laura sideways, into the wall of the corridor, while Rachel leaps back and to the side, making her own bruising contact with the opposite wall. "Laura what the hell…?" She asks, her voice filled with shock.


Coherent words, even thoughts, are now no longer available to the young woman. All that matters now is the rage. The rage and the need to KILL whatever is around her. Thankfully, death does not yet happen for Rachel, as X-23 is hit by that telekinetic wave of Rachel's. Her body is slammed hard into the wall and while others might take a moment to assess themselves for damage, or to stop the stars from dimming their vision, X-23 doesn't. She doesn't need to, in fact. Her healing factor does that all for her.

Lightly, because X-23 doesn't weigh that much, she'll drop to her feet from the considerable dent in that wall that was made by her impact. There are still no words from X-23, as she whirls about, like some crazed Tasmanian Devil. A low growl can still be heard rumbling through her throat, as she releases the claws within each of her feet.

The metal-clad bone claws slice neatly through her hiking boots and with a baring of teeth, X-23 once more goes on the offensive, with an aggressive attack.

It's something of a roundhouse kick, made all the deadlier thanks to that bone claw upon her foot. Her particular attack isn't aimed at the ankles, like a sweeping kick is, instead X-23 is aiming that potentially deadly attack at Rachel's ribs and torso; the front of X-23's foot, versus her heel, is what will hit first. To try and make certain the claw digs deep, versus just slices open.


The sight of the crater in the wall that Laura's small body made causes Rachel's stomach to turn over. She'd struck instinctively, adrenaline and alarm taking control, and she hadn't pulled the blow. It's been a long time since she's had to pull her punches in a fight, or even wanted to. If it had been someone other than Laura, Rachel could have done them some serious damage.

But it was Laura. And Rachel should be looking at her, not the dent in the wall.

Rachel's distraction lasts only a second or two before her head snaps toward Laura again, but Rachel doesn't have a second or two. As Laura's foot claws come out, Rachel locks eyes with her. "Sorry Laura." She says, and makes another mistake. Rachel's eyes go white-hot, and her telepathy surges out, linking her mind to Laura's. At the speed of thought, she thinks she has time. Time to find out what's driving Laura, and shut her down if she needs to. She's wrong. As soon as the mental link opens, sheer, unadulterated rage flows into Rachel's mind. There are no thoughts to grab hold of, no sense of Laura to reach out to. Just the rage. Rachel slams the mindlink closed, staggers back a step as the flood of furious emotion is suddenly cut off, and brings up a telekinetic shield.

Too late. Pain smashes into her as Laura's claw enters her side, just below her ribs, an instant before she got the shield in place, only just fast enough to keep the claw from penetrating deeply enough to kill her outright. Rachel gasps, only just keeping from screaming, and blasts Laura back down the corridor with her telekinesis - the claw causing yet more damage as its ripped out. Rachel sags against the wall, pressing a hand against her wound, blood already soaking her clothes.

"Laura." She manages to get out. "Stop." It's a last appeal, because Rachel's eyes are already bleeding from green to blank, featureless white again.


'Sorry Laura'. Those words of Rachel's don't seem to garner any type of reaction from X-23. Other people perhaps it might have, but not X-23, not with the state she's currently in. Logic no longer rules her mind; only the basic of reactions right now.

Rachel's contact with X-23's mind was too brief to allow the red-headed woman to see just where 'Laura' went. She's there, but she's tucked so far down below those layers of rage and feralness, that it would take far longer than a minute or two to find her and to bring her back to the forefront. For now, it seems telepathy, at least quick telepathy, isn't going to be what saves Rachel.

When the claw upon her foot sinks home, there's a faint snarl of triumph from the girl. Though that sound soon bleeds away when the claw doesn't sink in as far as /it/ should have. Dark brows begin to pinch forward, as the animal inside of X-23 knows that something isn't right. That little bit of 'awareness' is enough to cause the little ball of rage to begin to raise her claws, perhaps for a slash of attack. Sadly, that next attack never comes to fruition for X, as Rachel unleashes another telekinetic wave at the smaller killer.

Backwards, X-23 now rolls, as the TK wave tosses her down the hallway. While the first tumble was completely out of X's control, the next three to four tumbles are completely under her control. Like before, at the end of the last tumble X will pop to her feet, seemingly uninjured. Yes, she's breathing heavy, but there's no outward sign of injury on the other woman.

That last plea of Rachel's, for Laura to stop, is once again ignored as the killing machine known simply as X-23 moves, again. The claws upon her feet have been retracted, but the ones upon her hands are still out and are ready to be used once X is close enough.


Rachel's been hurt before, which is why she's still on her feet. She knows that if she goes down, it's over. It hurts like hell and she knows she's been cut deeply, but the pain's brought a certain amount of clarity. Rachel knows she has to fight and she has to win. And she's not going to be able to do it painlessly for the younger woman.

So yes, sorry Laura.

Rachel strikes out with her telekinesis again, but this time it's an unfocused blast to ward off the diminutive assassin. This time it's precise, and focused - and snaps each of Laura's legs sideways at the knee. Rachel doesn't take any pleasure in it, but her reaction to the sickening sound of the twin snaps is muted by the adrenaline coursing though her and the agony in her side.

"You want me? Come and get me!" She calls to Laura, and forces herself up and away from the wall. Gritting her teeth against the pain, Rachel takes her hand, dripping with her own blood, away from her side and clamps down on her wound with her telekinesis instead. She needs to move. For the moment Laura seems to be concentrating on her, and Rachel needs to keep it that way. She backs away, then whirls and runs.

She's not fast, but she's moving. And at least the ball of fury that's Laura's mind is easy to keep track of telepathically. Rachel's making for the Danger Room.


One step, two step and down. That's how it goes for Laura. That focused strike of Rachel's easily snaps the younger woman's legs at her knees. A sound of rage flavored pain breaks free from Laura's throat, but it doesn't seem to have dampened the assassins bloodlust. And to note, for Rachel, it doesn't take long for X-23 to rise once more to her feet.

Rachel gains twenty maybe thirty seconds at the most of a head start, as X-23 digs her claws into the floor and literally pulls herself into another somersault. By the time the girl is back on her feet, her bones are mostly knit. Not completely, but enough that she's running pretty normally. It'll take a minute or two more before the bones are knit back to a hundred percent, but that doesn't seem to slow the slim dark-haired woman down.

Rachel's taunt does seem to spur Laura onward, as there's another one of those rage-laced growls being torn from her throat. Rounding the corner, the slim assassin will use her claws as impromptu brakes, as she allows the drag to pull her tightly around the corner, without losing too much momentum or direction. Rachel may be a corridor or two ahead of X, but it's clear by how /quickly/ X's mind is moving towards Ray that it won't be but a minute before she catches up.

Better move faster, Ray, faster.


For her part, Rachel is having trouble maintaining her current pace, let alone speeding up. Each time her foot hits the floor, a lance of pain stabs through her side. And despite her telekinetic compress, she's still losing blood. And Laura healed faster than she expected.

Rachel is being hunted by something fast, lethal, and relentless. And she's losing. There's a trickle of ice down her spine as she wonders if this is how her own prey felt when she was closing in. Rachel ruthlessly pushes the thought aside. This isn't penance or retribution, and Rachel's not running blindly. She's not prey. And she's not going to let Laura murder her. They both deserve better than that.

Glancing around wildly, Rachel skids to a halt as she passes one of the smaller storage rooms, slamming painfully into the door frame to arrest her movement. Bracing herself with one hand, breathing heavily, acutely aware that Laura is closing, Rachel uses her telekinesis to remove everything from the tall metal shelving at the side of the room. Gritting her teeth, she disassembles it enough to get it out through the door, and scoops up two heavy cases of rescue equipment with her mind as well. Unnoticed, blood starts to seep from her side again, as her telekinetic compress loses cohesion. Rachel doesn't have a choice. She's got to slow Laura down some more.

As Laura rounds the last corner separating her from Rachel, she'll find those heavy cases flying toward her. One aimed at head height, the other aimed at her gut.

Rachel's already moving again, but she's left behind a pool of blood and a couple of bloody footprints pointing the way.


Penance. Isn't that a funny thought. One supposes this could feel like some sort of penance, or karma kickback, though in reality (for Laura, at least) it's not. For the people who funded this little session? It definitely /is/.

Rounding that second corner, X-23 uses her claws to help her navigate the tight turn again and while those cases are definitely coming at her, she doesn't seem too surprised. Or perhaps that emotion is simply blocked out by all the rage that still holds her features tight. Either way, the sound of the cases flying through the air (because yes, it makes a sound) quickly alerts X-23 to the fact that projectiles are headed her way. Leaping upward slightly, X will stab that first case that was aimed at her head, and neatly fling it behind herself. While the case aimed at her gut was on course, that twisting motion of X's to get the first case behind her, is used to avoid the would-be gut punch. It's still a close shave, however, as that second case streaks past mere inches from touching the hem of Laura's jacket.

Landing with a slight thump, the violence crazed girl will look towards the end of the hallway now. While she doesn't see Rachel there, she sees the bloody foot prints and likewise uses her nose to make sure that's the /real/ way the other woman went.

Then it's once again back on the chase. This time with more speed. Ray will easily be able to pick up the fact that X is moving even faster than before, as she knows her prey is wounded and possibly starting to falter.


Targeting projectiles telekinetically is a tricky thing when you don't stick around to watch, and Rachel's not entirely surprised when she senses Laura avoid her attack with consummate ease. Not entirely surprised, but definitely disappointed. She needed that to work. Now she doesn't have any time left. Rachel clenches her jaw and forces herself to pick up the pace, moving in a staggering run. She could fly, but she no longer thinks she could manage that and keep her insides where they should be.

She's almost where she needs to be, though. The Danger Room is just up ahead and, mercifully, it's empty. Rachel reaches out telekinetically and punches the door release. Laura's right behind her. Almost on her. She doesn't have time to slow down or even turn into the room. Instead she puts on the last burst of speed she has in her hand runs down the corridor as if she's going to sprint right past the Danger Room.

As she draws level with the open door, she lashes out telekinetically. Not back at Laura, but against the wall opposite the Danger Room. The wall crumples inward, and Rachel doesn't even try to hold herself in place, blowing herself sideways, through the door, hitting the floor hard and sliding across it. She's probably not even up to her knees by the time Laura reaches the door.


If this were the school likely Rachel would have found help by now, but with the bunker only being used during times of training, or danger, there's just no one around to help her. Not that the lack of help stops Rachel from making it to the danger room, which is good, considering who she's up against.

Sure, Laura might look like a stiff would blow her over, but that's hardly the case.

Around another corner X-23 goes and when she appears at the beginning of the corridor her eyes immediately scan the length of the hallway, but nothing can be seen. Nothing of Rachel, at least. The only hint, beyond her scent and the sound of her heartbeat, is that crumpled wall opposite of the Danger Room and that's where X-23 heads to. Her approach, while swift, is still definitely quiet. Her mind, however, is what will still easily give her away to Rachel, as it burns bright with that unrestricted rage of hers.

Silent feet will take her down the hallway and through the doorway to the Danger Room. Her claws are still out and held before her in a definite offensive manner. It's only when her green eyes land upon the still fallen Rachel that X will allow her lip to curl backwards, revealing her teeth. A faint growl is issued again, as she takes one menacing step forward.


Rachel's on her knees, in a room with only one exit, and she willingly put herself in a position where Laura is between her and that exit. She's breathing fast and painfully, one hand is pressed against her side again, but as Laura steps wholly inside the Danger Room, Rachel doesn't looked panicked. Her eyes aren't moving wildly around the big, empty box looking for a way out. Instead, she's looking right at Laura, and then she smiles.

Behind the assassin, the doors to the Danger Room slam shut as Rachel uses telekinetic fingers to hit the close button, and then to lock the door. As a final flourish, the interior control panel is ripped from its mountings and flung to one side, clattering off the wall, sheared cables hanging sparking from the hole Rachel made. If this goes badly a locked door won't stop Laura for long, but maybe it'll be long enough.

Rachel draws up one leg, braces her free hand on her thigh, and pushes herself up to her feet. She sways, but doesn't fall. "OK Laura." She says quietly, not taking her eyes from the younger woman. "Let's see why you want to kill me." Rachel reaches a hand outwards, and Laura will find herself grabbed up telekinetically, held several feet above the floor. Rachel doesn't step closer. She's learned what happens when she plays that game. Instead, she reaches for Laura's mind again.


Seconds before that telekinetic grab takes place, X-23 all but launched herself through the air, aiming to strike Rachel with those outstretched claws of hers. Sadly (thankfully for Rachel!) X-23's motion is arrested by that TK hold of hers. Going limp, the growling woman will keep her wild eyes focused upon Rachel, as the slim assassin tries to figure out how to get free from her precarious position.

Even as Rachel says those words and begins to dip into Laura's mind, the little devil that could begins to struggle. She twists, turns and even tries to lurch free, but none of that allows her to gain her freedom. All it does is vaguely swing X by the 'scruff' of her neck, as it were.

When Rachel reaches into X-23's mind, she'll find layers upon layers of rage. It's not even one or two layers, it's dozens at this point. An all consuming rage that doesn't abate for many minutes, as the would-be Phoenix avatar looks for answers.

And while X-23 isn't necessarily sensitive to telepathy, anyone having a telepath go through that many layers of their mind will sense it and X-23, or rather the beast that currently has control of her mind and body, does so. A howl of pure menace leaves X-23's mouth; she may not be able to talk, but she's letting it be known that once she's free, Ray is truly going to be dead. D-E-A-D.

Finally though, after breaching past a particular black band of rage held within X's mind, Rachel will find some clarity. A small corner of Laura's mind is free of that all encompassing rage and while this particular portion of her mind has little control over the body, there's the shadow of the young woman Rachel knows. // The scent. // Comes her hollowed sounding monotone voice, // Wash it off. It's the only way. //

And as that shadow of Laura speaks a sudden sense of wariness overtakes that small part of Laura's still logical brain. Another shadow has materialized within; the beast's shadow. And it will now stalk within the mental plane, it's redden eyes and form easily twist around as it figuratively 'scents' the air.


It's not that Betsy is generally particularly busy at any given time— it's that she considers her free time as important as her scheduled workday. The leggy woman resembles diva more than ninja during her down hours, whether she's reading a book or power-shopping online.

But at the niggling hints of genuine fear from Rachel and the tingling warnings of 'Danger! Violence! Rage' that can only be coming from Laura (Logan being out of town, natch), Betsy rises and starts making her way to the bunker area, not far behind the women.

The walk becomes a run, then a full-out sprint, as her thoughts wing out ahead of her to map out the area and sense where people are. Even in heels, Betsy can sprint like a gazelle, and she slams people out of her way telekinetically. "Move!" she bellows, dashing along.

She skids to a halt outside the Danger Room doors. She mashes the buttons a few times, composes her face, and makes an commanding gesture. Metal screams and wrenches as she lashes out with her thoughts to -force- the doors to the Danger Room apart.

"Rachel! Laura! What the bloody hell is going on?" she demands, in as harsh and imperious tone as she's ever used in their presence.


Even as Rachel's linking her mind with Laura's again, she grits her teeth as the other woman starts to struggle. "Stop… squirming." She hisses, although by now she's certain that Laura's not listening to a word she says. There's nothing for Laura to struggle against, not really, but she's messing with Rachel's focus, and right now she needs to do two things at once. She can't afford to lose her grip.

As before, the link to Laura's mind opens with a tidal wave of rage, but this time… Rachel's not ready for it, it's impossible to be ready for it, but she's expecting it, and this time she pushes through it, forcing herself forward against the tide. Laura's mental landscape is swamped, submerged completely by the rage, and the deeper Rachel goes, the more of those layers of fury that she peels away, the more that she finds.

Time passes. In the real world, while Laura struggles, Rachel remains utterly still, though she's paler by the moment and the hand pressed against her side is now all but welded there by her own blood. For an instant, Rachel's telekinetic hold seems to slip, and Laura drops a few inches before Rachel catches her again.

Finally, finally Rachel finds something inside Laura that isn't the all consuming rage. Rachel's mental avatar, wreathed in red-gold flame, illuminates the corner of Laura's mind that still belongs to her. « Thank you. » It's all Rachel has time for, except for one thing. As that shadow moves in, Rachel turns eyes of fire upon it. « I know you. » Rachel tells it, heedless of whether it can understand or not. It reminds her of her own Hound-self. « You can't have her. » She tells it, and vanishes from Laura's mental landscape.

Returning to her body with a jolt, Rachel staggers back a step and barely catches herself before ending up on her rump. Her little trip inside Laura's head has weakened her considerably, and there's another presence crashing against her mental shields, the sheer force of the psionic power its exerting to force the Danger Room doors open causing Rachel to stumble once again. "Betsy?" Rachel says, aloud, and then her eyes widen. « NO! DON'T! » Rachel shouts into Betsy's brain, but it's too late.

The doors are open, and Rachel loses her grip on Laura.


The Beast that so reminds Rachel of her Hound-Self turns those blazing red eyes upon Rachel's psionic self. While it doesn't have time to strike out at Rachel, before the other woman leaves, it still tries. That rage-form of Laura's leaps across their shared mental scape and while she lands upon the exact spot that Ray was just 'standing' upon, the other woman is gone. The Beast tilts its head back and screams its anger, its rage, its frustration that the prey is gone.

At least, gone from the psionic side of things.

The jolt from the real world brings The Beast back to the forefront of X-23's mental scape and when those green eyes open, it should be clear to Rachel that The Beast is still quite firmly in control of Laura's body.

Teeth bared once again, X will drop to the ground once that TK hold of Ray's fails. She'll land in an easy crouch and once upon the ground, X's eyes will go from Rachel to the now opening doors. The sight of Betsy standing their only offers the slightest of pauses, as The Beast tries to figure out which one to attack first. It's an easy choice, for The Beast at least, as her eyes turn back to Ray. The injured one and the one that smells of the Trigger Scent.

While Rachel gains her bearings from that would-be stumble-save, X-23 presses her good fortune to land the kill. Sprinting, the dark-haired assassin will take half a dozen steps before she launches herself at Rachel. The two go end-over-end and when their tumble stops, Betsy will easily see that X-23 has landed atop the now prone Rachel. One of X's hands holds a handful of the injured woman's shirt and her other hand is raised upward, the claws out. Snarling ferally X-23 will bring that clawed hand downward in a swift strike.

*THUMP*

Is the sound easily heard as X-23's fist slams into Rachel's chest. And while it may seem like X-23 just buried her claws in Rachel's chest, the glimmer of metal can no longer be seen atop that hand. Instead, Laura now peeks out from those eyes.

"Run." She whispers and with the last of her control, the dark haired assassin will throw herself off of Rachel and to the side; hard enough to bounce off of the wall of the Danger Room. That doesn't stop her, however, as she rolls back to her feet, any form of sanity in her eyes once again gone.


"Rachel!" Betsy screams. Anguish— real, genuine anguish and fear, at the sight of those claws arching towards her friend's breast. The fear turns to shock when red arterial blood -doesn't- arc into the air— when Laura leaps sideways, leaving Rachel on the ground.

Above all else, Betsy is one cool cucumber. Even as that fist descends, her thoughts and focus combine to bring psionic energy to the forefront of her mind. When Laura leaps sideways, then lands and flashes those killer's eyes, Betsy thrusts a palm into the air as if swatting a fly against that wall. The force of it is a thousand times more than a merehandslap, and an invisible, unassailable force strikes Laura square in the chest to try and flatten her against the wall behind her.

Betsy is not a particularly graceful telekinetic, compared to the likes of Jean or Rachel— but she is definitely very strong. Where they might use psionic manacles, Betsy opts for a quick and dirty blanket of will and force.

"Rachel, can you stand?" she demands of the redhead, keeping that one hand extended towards Laura, as if reasserting that telekinetic hold. Her amethyst eyes flicker from the redhead to the assassin, and back again. "I have her pinned for the moment, but I cannot maintain this forever."


Rachel was barely keeping her feet as it was. There's nothing she can do to dodge or block Laura when she leaps for her, and when the smaller woman cannons into her, down she goes. As they hit the deck and roll over, Rachel's trying to fight, trying to get her hands up, trying to latch on to Rachel with her telekinesis, but this close? It ends as it always was going to, Betsy's yell ringing in Rachel's ears as Laura's claws slice down toward her.

What's left of Rachel's breath leaves her body as Laura's fist slams into her chest, and her whole body jerks from the force of the blow. But as she desperately tries to get air into her lungs she realises she's not trying to breathe around a pair of adamantium claws in her chest. Rachel looks up into Laura's eyes, green into green, and sees the Laura she knows looking back at her.

And then Laura's gone, and Rachel feels Betsy's telekinetic strike as it slams Laura into the wall. Rachel rolls over onto her stomach and pushes herself up to her hands and knees on reflex, but then her vision darkens and she's back to trying to suck air in again. Betsy's voice sounds like it's coming from a long way away, but Rachel answers anyway. "Have to." She says grimly, and scrambles up to her feet. She's pale and unsteady by she's upright. "It's not her fault." Rachel gasps out, and switches to telepathy. In an instant she passes on the encounter in the depths of Laura's mind, and the message about the scent. "We need to trigger the fire suppression." Rachel's half-curled around her injury as she says the words. She knows Laura is going to keep coming.


If X-23 were a bug she would have assuredly gone splat from that wall of TK that Betsy slaps her back with. Thankfully, X-23 is much hardier than a bug and while there's the solid sound of her body meeting wall, and a grunt accompanying that, it doesn't seem to slow her down.

Whatever injuries she's obtained from the slap against the wall are being healed with each second that ticks by. Her healing factor is /far/ faster than Wolverine's, thanks to her body not being taxed by the amount of adamantium within her system.

Like a rabid animal, X's eyes roll, showing far more white than what normally can be seen for a human, as she struggles against the force that keeps her pinned. It may not be easy to see the physical struggle that X-23 is putting forth, but Betsy would likely feel the pressure against her hold upon the other girl. It's a constant brute force sort of thing as The Beast tries to get to her prey.

Which is now both Betsy and Rachel.


"Mhm."

Betsy casts around for a moment, then her eyes alight on the fire suppression system. Which is -absolutely- a requirement in the Danger Room, particularly when the young pyrokinetics get a little too excited about flexing their muscles.

Betsy moves a bit like a parent reaching for something on a high shelf while holding a squalling child at bay- hands shifting in the air, keeping that pressure on Laura. She's strong, certainly, but Betsy's force of will could hurl a passenger sedan. She diverts some of her focus away from Laura, until the slender assassin's wrists and ankles are held pinned in place to keep those dangerous claws at bay.

One perfectly manicured nail points skywards and Betsy narrows her eyes, then hooks her fingertip and very carefully pulls out the heat-sensitive anchor on the sprinkler overhead. Water explodes from the water nozzles, and alarms go off as the system, convinced of a fire, activates all of the overhead nozzles in the room.

"When you calm down, I hope you appreciate how irritated I am," Betsy tells Laura, quite conversationally. "I was having a -very- good hair day today."


Maybe it's the loss of blood, but Rachel can't do much more than gape in astonishment at Betsy's calm noise of understanding, and feel a somewhat out of place trickle of envy at her utter poise and control.

The sudden deluge of icy water does a fine job of bringing her back to her senses, and Rachel is drenched in an instant. Wincing, she moves to position herself directly under a sprinkler head and attempts to peel off her jacket. A stifled yelp is furiously suppressed when the jacket pulls at her wound, and she bites down on her lower lip to keep from screaming as she pulls it free of the drying blood, and tosses the ruined coat away from her. The water around her feet is turning red, but Rachel stays in the water stream until she starts to go numb.

She pushes back the red hair that's plastered to her forehead and turns her eyes toward Laura through the artificial rain. She glances sideways at Betsy, then starts to walk toward Laura. "Laura?" She asks cautiously.


Wrists and ankles are held down thanks to those powerful bands of TK, but that doesn't stop the young assassin from continue her struggles. It's only as the rain falls that The Beast will look up towards the water in surprise.

It takes a handful of minutes for the scent to be diluted within the water enough to no longer cause a reaction from X-23. Betsy might be the first to figure it out, when the pressure against those TK points she holds suddenly go slack. As Rachel moves towards X-23, Laura will simply drop her head, allowing the wet clumps of her hair to partially shield her face from the other woman's gaze.

It's only when Rachel finally says her name that Laura responds, "I am here." She says, her voice sounding even more dead (if that's possible) than usual. While others might ask to be let go, Laura doesn't, nor does she raise her eyes upward to meet Rachel's or Betsy's.


Betsy flicks a glance to Rachel, then back at Laura. "I'm going to let you down, Laura," Betsy says, the fire system overhead reducing to a light sprinkling of water when the sensors return no indication of heat. "If you get aggressive again, I'll have to render you unconscious for a time."

She slowly lowers her hand and the manacles of her will loosen, allowing Laura to slide down the wall and stand on her own two feet. She moves closer to the other two, but stops near Rachel and gives the wound in her side a quick, painful inspection, testing the flow of blood. "You'll need sutures," Betsy advises Rachel. "But I don't think she hit an artery."

The Brit turns back to Laura, digging in her pocket and producing a scunchie. She pulls her hair back from her face in a high, tight ponytail, motions quick and efficient. Somehow, she manages to make even the deluge look good— water clinging to high cheekbones, and making her pink top and dark pants look like she's ready for a marine-themed photo shoot or the like.

"Can you tell me what happened, Laura?"


Rachel allows a shuddering sigh of relief to leave her when Laura actually speaks, not just growls at her. But she's not taking any chances. She's in no condition to continue the fight, if it comes to it she'll have to rely on Betsy for that, but Rachel still has enough left to reach out telepathically toward Laura. She sags with relief when she finds a recognisable mind and not a sea of rage. Rachel looks back at Betsy and gives her a quick nod, before stepping back so that Betsy can release Laura. "Easier said than done. Trust me." Rachel tells the other telekinetic.

Rachel lifts her arm with a pained wince as Betsy gives her wound the once over. "Ow. Still hurts like hell." Rachel complains, then reapplies her telekinetic compress to the wound. She's hurt, she's soaking wet, and she's not going to deal with either of those problems until she understands what's going on with Laura.


"I understand." Comes Laura's still flat voice, when Betsy advises the dark-haired assassin that she'll knock her unconscious if need be. As soon as the TK bands are gone, Laura will straighten to her full, albeit short height. She still has trouble meeting either woman's gaze and so, those now shadowed green eyes will go straight to Rachel's wound.

Thankfully, the wound isn't life-threatening, but it's clear to Laura just how much damage she did to Rachel.

It's only with Betsy's final question that something within Laura clicks. Or reasserts itself. Whatever you want to call it, Laura finally lifts that gaze of hers and looks directly at Besty and Rachel now. "Yes." She states, her voice holding no emotion, though her eyes, they have something akin to regret within them. "Someone placed the trigger scent on Rachel knowing we would be near each other. I have been conditions to react to this specific scent." She begins, her voice very clinical in how she words the explanation, "This scent was used by the people who created me to make certain I would kill all targets, even if I did not wish to. It was a guarantee that I would always complete my missions." At her sides her hands curl into tight fists at those monotone words of hers.


Betsy nods approvingly at Rachel when she applies a compress to her own wound. "Clever," she informs the redhead— which is about as good as it ever gets from her, really. Rachel's wounds are physical, and as severe as they are, Betsy seems to recognize that Laura's injuries are far deeper, albeit invisible to the eye.

"You were not in control of your faculties," Betsy tells Laura, drifting nearer to the petite woman with unshakeable poise, despite the wet traction underfoot. "There is no shame in what you did. Conditioning is difficult to resist." Something wry appears in her expression, amethyst eyes flickering to Rachel, then back to Laura. "I've experienced that. So has Rachel. So have others. When you've been made into a weapon, it's difficult to resist an urge to employ your talents as such."

"You are no longer an experiment or a tool, Laura," Betsy says, her tone chiding and reassuring at the same time. A soothing tone, but not relinquishing careful command of the situation. "And you are not to blame for what happened here today. Right, Rachel?" She stops, quite near Laura— not trying to enter her personal space, but instead conveying trust. She knows well the range of those claws and she's closed the gap quite fearlessly with the agile killer. Nothing about her conveys fear or a readiness for more conflict, her eyes calm and determined. For the moment, she is just a reassuring rock of emotional stability in the waters figuratively— and literally, at the moment— flowing around Laura.


Rachel glances up from telekinetically dressing her own wound with a bit of a surprised look when Betsy compliments her, and answers with a quick smile. Like Betsy, however, she's far more concerned about Laura than she is about herself.

Understanding that Betsy knows the young assassin far better than she does, Rachel's quite happy to let the other woman make the first move.

Trigger scent? How did… Damn. Rachel grimaces but says nothing, even as she mentally castigates herself. Of course that man didn't 'just' bump into her. How stupid is she? Rachel forces herself to swallow the helpless, useless anger she feels at herself. She'll have plenty of time for that later. Squelching forward in her sodden sneakers, Rachel nods an answer to Betsy, her eyes somber. Not only has she experienced it, she remembers how she felt afterward. She doesn't want Laura to feel that, but despite moving closer, she doesn't say a word until Betsy is finished.

"She's right." Rachel puts as much simple conviction as she can into her words. "It wasn't your fault."


While their words are supposed to be reassuring and to help take away the guilt, or regret, that Laura feels it doesn't. Instead it triggers another bright beacon of rage, as something with what the two have said triggers that bright flare-up of emotion. Thankfully, none of that emotions shows upon her features, as she looks between the two women, but if they're both keeping tabs upon her mind it would likely be hard to miss that hidden emotion of hers.

Turning her gaze now to Rachel, Laura will say, "I am sorry I hurt you." Then her gaze transfers back to Besty, "I am sorry I caused damaged to the bunker." And while Psylocke is being that rock of comforting reassurance and stability for Laura, X-23 doesn't lean into it. Instead she closes herself down to the two other women as she offers those apologies of hers. "I must find out who did this and why." And with those words, the slim assassin takes a squealching step away from the women. Oh yes, she's going to try and leave, she really is. Social conformities be damned, apparently!


"Stop thinking like a killer, and start thinking like a strategist," Betsy tells Laura, quite primly. "Slashing your way through problems is incredibly myopic. If you want to know who did it, then look for someone interested in killing Rachel. I imagine it was no accident she was the target," Betsy says, abandoning emotion for solid logic. "Then cross-index that with anyone with access to synthetic pheremones and the knowledge they'll work as advertised. The confluence there is someone who identified you -and- Rachel, successfully, and had access to your conditional programming— and who could manufacture synthetic pheremones specifically keyed to you."

"I'm willing to help you, Laura. But only if you're serious about doing this efficiently. Claws-out into the city is only going to complicate things."


At least to Rachel, Laura's expression is notoriously difficult to read. And she's forced her way into the other woman's mind twice today, she's not going for a third. But bitter experience tells Rachel that her words haven't reached the young assassin.

After all, no matter how many times Rachel herself has been told she's not to blame for her time as a Hound, she still doesn't really believe it. She's just got better at not letting the guilt rule her all the time. But she still has to try to spare Laura from that, if she can. Rachel shakes her head. "Don't. You didn't hurt me. Whoever did this to you hurt me." Rachel tries for a smile. "And the damage to the bunker is all on me." Rachel has a hollow feeling inside. She knows its not working, and looks to Betsy for help, as Laura starts walking out. Help that, as it happens, the other telepath is more than willing to provide.

Betsy's words are clinical, and Rachel's narrowed eyes betray her surprise. But then she realises what Betsy is doing and offers a very slight, but very respectful nod. "So am I." Rachel adds quickly, on the heels of Betsy's offer. "Betsy's right. Whoever did this wanted me dead. You're not going after them without me." Rachel pauses, and just decides to deploy the only argument she has left. "And I'm in no condition to go claws out into the city right now. Even if I want to." From her tone, it sounds like she wants just that. "So you'll have to wait until I'm patched up, at least."


X-23 only managed to take almost a half a dozen of steps, before Betsy's words caused her to pause. Turning now, Laura will look back to her mentor and if she were honest with herself, ally and friend. Both are her allies and nearly friends, aren't they? Her gaze will flick between the red-haired and purple-haired woman a silent moment, but eventually, thanks to that extra nudge from Rachel, Laura will nod.

"I understand." She says, voice still leeched of any sort of emotion. "We must plan." She adds as an afterthought, even as she takes a step back to the other two. Apparently she's still not done speaking, as she turns her gaze mainly to Rachel, at this point. "First we must get Rachel medical aid. Then we will hunt."

And with those quiet words of hers, Laura, Betsy and Rachel will make their way to the medbay, intent on getting Rachel patched up. After that, the trio will begin their 'hunt', as Laura so eloquently put it, for the people who started this chain reaction.

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