Last Stand (Sort of)

April 19, 2016:

X-23 decides to save her family by contacting Kimura and giving herself back to the Facility, Ray has other ideas.


NPCs: Kimura



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Everything was quiet for awhile. At least, in the sense of the Facility and whomever is going after Rachel. It was enough to perhaps cause guards to be let down and watchfulness to relax, but, because there is always a but, more has currently happened.

The last three days have been a blur for Laura. The attack on Nate by Kimura and then the realization that somehow Kimura and the people behind her have been watching the majority of Laura's movements. This is what caused Laura to reach out to Doug; help with finding the technological means that are being used to find her. And no, it's not a sub-dermal implant of any sort. That was the first thing Nate and Laura checked.

Either way, Doug's search is going to take some time and that rankled Laura. That irritation or rather frustration didn't stop Doug from making her watch /every/ single Star Wars movie out there, however, and oddly enough the movie(s) did speak to her. The specific part? Luke Skywalker going out to face Darth Vader by himself. Both to save his friends and their desperate plan, but also to face his 'enemy'.

As such, Laura has now made her way outside of the Institute without any back-up. As she leaves the mansion, X-23 will purposely show herself to every security camera that can be found around Salem Center. Then when she's within Mutant Town she does the same thing, even going so far to stare straight at the various lenses that capture her moving image. Once she feels she's 'established' her location for Kimura, the slim assassin strides with purpose to a specific three story building. The fire escape will be used to scale up to the rooftop of the building and that's where she waited. It won't be long. She's certain of it.

Rachel hadn't forgotten that people wanted her dead, but after venturing beyond the confines of the X-Men's base a couple of times without getting shot at, maybe she had started to relax a bit, or at least started to think that she could manage the threat. After all, as she told Emma, she's tired of hiding in the X-Men's basement. That meeting, and the new assignment that resulted from it, has kept Rachel pretty busy. She's been spending most of her time poring over all the data the X-Men have on the Blue and their adversaries. After finally being given something productive to do, Rachel doesn't want to come up short when she's called upon to do it.

Walking toward the kitchen, Rachel rubs her temples. The pressure behind her eyes, warning that a headache is incoming, tells her that she's spent too long telepathically interrogating the captured psionic nodes. A break is more than overdue. Of course, Rachel will probably just grab a coffee and go right back to it, but… the redhead pauses, fingers still pressed against her temples, frozen in mid-rub, as she gets another telepathic impression. Ever since a certain unfortunate incident, Rachel has kept a light telepathic watch on Laura, and what she's picking up is a little bit… off. Rachel drops her hands, and cocks her head to one side, her eyes narrowing as she firms up the telepathic connection. Laura's moving away, the impression fading with distance, but Rachel picks up a single-minded resolve that's beyond even the young assassin's usual laser-like focus. "OK." Rachel says under her breath as she comes to a decision. "Study is going to have to wait."

Tailing Laura isn't exactly easy, but Rachel has a good feel for her mind, and stays only close enough to make sure that she doesn't lose her. She has a certain amount of skill in that area, that works well enough until Laura stops. Rachel lets her steps draw to a halt, as she studies the building in the distance. Maybe it's time to try something she's been thinking about since the first time Laura tracked her…

Rachel starts walking again, but as she does so she's weaving a telepathic illusion. Not hiding her appearance, but creating a replica of herself in Laura's mind, using the assassin's own memories to make the illusion perfect. The Rachel-illusion continues walking right past the building, while Rachel herself climbs up after Laura. "Mind if I share your roof?" She asks, making her tone cheerful, waiting to see if Laura fell for her misdirection or not.

That single-minded focus is both a good thing and sometimes a bad. She's so intent on getting to where she needs to be and to alert one single person to where she /is/, that she falls completely for the misdirection. Or perhaps, failed to even spot her tail. Which is not good. She is the 'best' at what she does, or so it's said. Either way, when Rachel seemingly pops upon her roof by magic, X-23 startles. That startle turns into a sure-footed whirl and the claws held within her hands easily popping out with a soft *SNIKT*.

Rachel's really lucky that Laura didn't just automatically pounce and stab, but that reaction is quickly (not easily mind you) throttled back.

"Rachel." She says in that ever present flat voice of hers. "Why are you here?" And with those words, X-23 automatically looks around the rest of the area of their particular rooftop. Her gaze clearly looking for anyone else, but also keeping tabs on the various entrances one can make upon the rooftop. Once she sees it's clear her gaze turns right back to Rachel, those green-eyes of hers intense. "Leave. Now." Harsh. Brusque and cold. That's the emotions held within those last two words of hers.

Startling Laura probably isn't a very healthy thing to do. Intentionally startling Laura is borderline suicidal. You'd think Rachel would know better, considering she nearly came down with a fatal case of adamantium poisoning not so long ago - and she does. There's a very faint shimmer to the air between Rachel and Laura, almost like a heat haze, and it betrays the presence of a telekinetic shield. Rachel was prepared - but her eyes still widen very slightly at just how fast Laura reacted.

Covering her moment of surprise, Rachel kicks a foot up behind her, bracing herself comfortably against a big ventilation unit, and crosses her arms. Her eyes hold Laura's for a moment, before straying down to look pointedly at Laura's claws, staying there for an extra second to add emphasis, then rising to meet the dark-haired assassin's gaze again. Rachel tilts her head in an unspoken question, a slight smile on her lips, and then the haze between her and Laura vanishes.

"I followed you." Rachel replies, then snorts loudly when she's ordered off the roof. "No." She makes her reply equally hard. "Not until you tell me what you're doing here, and probably not even then."

It probably wasn't a good idea to purposely startle Laura, no, but what's done is done and thankfully Rachel is still whole and healthy. Though things can quickly change ….

The telekinetic shield that shimmers ever so lightly between Rachel and Laura is noted, though X doesn't visibly or verbally react to it. Instead her eyes narrow slightly at Rachel's seemingly casual pose and then, when the red-head reveals she was following the slim assassin? Well, X-23 can't quite help that one menacing step forward she takes toward Rachel. Her expression is likewise thunderous (for X, at least) as a furrow now resides on her brow now. "Who told you to follow me?" She asks, voice dropping to something laced with a growl and then, her expression clears slightly as a lightbulb goes off. "Nate. He gave you this mission, did he not?"

And while that question was truly a question, it soon turns rhetorical as X-23 slashes her hand (and claws) downward with a very sharp movement. "It does not matter. Leave. This is not your business."

Likely their argument could have gone on forever, but suddenly, or at least it could possibly seem that way, the duo turns into a trio.

A rather tall and striking woman with dusky skin and black-hair now stands a few feet from the two arguing friends. "Well." Comes her amused voice, "Isn't this cute. You brought back-up with you this time."

Upon hearing that familiar (hated) voice, X-23 will pivot sharply upon her heels again, unsurprised eyes now focusing on Kimura. "No." She says harshly, "She is not part of this. She is leaving."

Rachel stays right where she is when Laura advances toward her, the only visible reaction a solitary eyebrow curving upward questioningly. The telekinetic shield doesn't make a return, either. Either Rachel isn't intimidated, or she's running a very good bluff. It's something else that breaks her composure, and draws a frown of her own. "Who says anyone TOLD me to follow you?" She asks in a disgruntled tone, then has to add a nose-wrinkle when Laura jumps to the obvious conclusion. And Nate DID say something along those lines a while back… "OK, busted…" Rachel admits, about to say more before Laura cuts off the conversation.

Rachel grimaces, genuine annoyance sparking in her eyes as Laura /again/ tries to get rid of her. She pushes off with her foot and starts to walk towards Laura. "Look, Laura, it doesn't matter what Nate said or didn't ask me to do. This IS my business because you're my friend and I KNOW something is wrong, and I'm not leaving until…"

And then there's a third player in the game, and Rachel spins around as soon as she hears the voice. She's neither as quick nor as graceful as Laura, but she's still fast. "You again." Rachel's voice goes flat and deadly, and there's a shimmer like fire in her green eyes. Eyes that she doesn't take off Kimura when Laura tries yet again to get rid of her. "Laura. I know an incredibly bad idea when I see one. I'm staying. Get used to it."

Kimura's head cants idly to the side and while that movement looks quizzical in nature, or perhaps even mocking, in reality the black-haired woman is listening to something said within the small earbud housed in her ear.

For those with sensitive hearing, they'll easily be able to figure this out, for telepaths it's the same possibility. If Rachel is listening in on Kimura's mind, that is. The one-sided conversation is quick and while Laura wasn't able to pick up every single word, she heard the gist of it.

The solution has been acquired.

That's what was said. The question remains who's the target. X, or Rachel? And the mind behind those words isn't that close to the trio, instead several buildings away, a sniper rifle in his hands. Like Kimura he has no real shields against telepaths, but he does have one thing going for him. There are hundreds, if not thousands of minds housed within this neighborhood and some of them are quite loud. Hopefully that'll allow for him to stay hidden a few minutes longer.

"Me again yes and to think, I thought I'd only be facing you today, experiment. Now -" Kimura says, her gaze transferring to Rachel now, "- It'll be a challenge." A flash of a smile is given to Rachel now, by Kimura, even as the other woman tucks a strand of loose hair behind her air.

With that sign, because that's what it was, the rifleman lets out a soft breath and begins to depress the trigger upon the rifle.

Laura is torn. Rachel is seriously ticking her off, but Kimura. There's actual fear churning in her mind and it's enough to cause her to hesitate. Finally, however, her decision is made for her. X-23 gives one last look to Rachel, before she launches herself at Kimura. "You will not take either of us!"

And for Rachel, at least (not X), there might be surprise there when Kimura simply stands there a superior look upon her features. X-23's claws will easily be aimed for the woman's face, knowing that the attack won't be successful, but if she can possibly keep her attention away from Ray ….

Kimura gleefully grabs Laura's claws, holding them quite easily, thanks to her strength and invulnerability. "That's all, pet?"

Rachel hasn't made an offensive move yet. Not because she's frozen with fear - although after the last ambush, she's feeling a healthy amount of wariness - and not because she doesn't know what to do, but because she's trying to understand what Laura's play is here. What she was hoping to accomplish. But the sheer fear radiating from the diminutive assassin gives Rachel the sinking feeling that her friend didn't HAVE a play beyond inviting this confrontation.

That fear, so close, so intense, it makes Rachel want to slam her mental shields closed. But she doesn't, because then she wouldn't be able to scan Kimura, and she's been doing that since the woman made her appearance. Rachel's already kicking herself because Kimura got the drop on them, she's not going to let it happen again. Rachel doesn't 'hear' Kimura's words to her accomplice, she doesn't need to. She understands the message, and Kimura's mind betrays the direction that Rachel should be looking in. Without taking her eyes from Kimura, Rachel's mind leaps away, scanning, scanning… but there are a lot of minds to sift through. As she works, Rachel returns Kimura's smile, absolutely no humour in it. "Count on it." She says in the same flat tone, tightly leashed anger boiling behind it. Laura's fear's put that anger there, and Rachel's happy to let it smoulder. Rachel just needs a little more time…

But then Laura takes matters into her own claws. Rachel grits her teeth. She doesn't have the other mind. Her eyes track Laura as she lunges - and then they go wide as the assassin is simply plucked out of the air and left dangling by her claws. Surprise is boiled away by anger. "Not even close." Rachel answers for Laura, and lashes out telepathically and telekinetically.

Forcing herself into Kimura's mind with sledgehammer brutality, Rachel MAKES the woman's hands open and drop Laura. A moment later, a crushing fist of telekinetic force closes around Kimura and yanks her to one side, between Rachel and Laura - and the direction Rachel knows the bullet must be coming from.

Dangling as she is from Kimura's grip, all X-23 can offer to that last question of the woman's is a growled, "No." No, that's not all she has left in her. Sure, she doesn't necessarily have a plan, now that her original plan was disrupted thanks to Rachel's appearance, but she'll have to adapt. Or try to, at the very least.

Seconds before Rachel reaches out with that brutal telepathic command to Kimura, X-23 pulls her hanging legs upward and slams her boots into the woman's solar plexus. No, it doesn't really hurt Kimura, but it's enough to help slam that command of Rachel's home for Kimura. "GAHH!" Shouts Kimura, as Rachel's presence slams into her mind and much like a puppet, her hands let go of X-23's claws. X drops to the ground in an easy crouch, even as she turns towards Rachel.

Somewhere beyond Rachel's field of hearing there's the crack of a rifle firing and sensitive ears have heard it.

The bullet speeds towards Rachel's back and while it SHOULD have hit home, it doesn't. Instead the now stunned Kimura is grabbed in that vice-like grip of Rachel's TK and swung into the path of the bullet. When the bullet hits, it should be quite clear to Rachel that Kimura is not normal, as the bullet literally smooshes itself against the black-haired woman's body.

And while it may seem like they're 'safe' now, X-23 suddenly rises to her feet, "DOWN NOW!"

Somewhere else in the distance two more rifles fire, their bullets whizzing through the air from opposite directions.

It seems the rooftop has been triangulated by a trio of snipers.

While Laura can't quite take both bullets for Rachel, she can at least take one, and so the short assassin moves for the bullet flying towards Rachel's chest; specifically her heart. With a nimble kick off, Laura launches her short form into the air.

As the bullet hits home and tears through her abdomen, Laura can't quite stifle the pained grunt that leaves her mouth, even as blood quickly blooms across her shirt. A hand will go to her torso now, even as she staggers a step towards Rachel.

Kimura, who finally came out of her light stupor, can only laugh now, as she says with raspy breath, "And hear the bosses thought bringing snipers was overkill. Nothing is ever too much for you, poppet."

Rachel feels a surge of rather evil satisfaction as Kimura's hands open and Laura is dropped, and another when Laura gets that double-footed kick in. Whatever Laura's feeling on the matter, Rachel considers her a friend. And watching her friend kick back against someone she fears so much makes Rachel very happy indeed.

In contrast, swinging Kimura into the path of the sniper's bullet was pure reflex, and Rachel feels an icy shock run through her as the bullet strikes home. Everything she's trying to make up for, and without hesitation or regret she's just /killed/… except she hasn't. The bullet didn't penetrate, didn't even leave a mark. Rachel doesn't know whether to be relieved or not, and it's that moment of confusion that makes her hesitate.

Laura's shout makes Rachel's head snap up, but she doesn't dive for cover. She can't outrun a bullet, but her mind is faster. She throws up a telekinetic shield… and the half-formed shield is shattered by the third bullet. Slowed and deflected, the bullet catches her in the shoulder, spinning her around and knocking her to her back on the roof. For a few seconds she has to blink away stars, her head having smacked hard against the solid surface, but then she remembers Laura. « I'm OK! » The thought will crash into Laura's mind, even as Rachel's rolling over to face Kimura. "Shut. Up." Rachel grinds out, fury shining from her eyes as she grabs Kimura telekinetically and slams her against the roof. Once. Twice.

Rachel would like to continue, but there are snipers, a wounded Laura, and she has a hole in her shoulder that hurts abominably. Not to mention that her arm's not working properly. Throwing up a telekinetic shield around the roof, she forces herself upright. "Laura! We've got to get under cover!"

The blood continues to flow for a few more milliseconds and X-23's healing factor is kicking in. High gear, even. Immediately the bullet hole is healing over and the damage within is doing the same thing. She'll worry about getting the bullet out later, since even her healing factor can't heal a slug out of her stomach. Still, at least the majority of the damage is fixed.

That staggered step of hers turns more purposeful, as the diminutive assassin's steps become much more steady.

Of course, just as X-23 rights herself that third bullet bites into Rachel's shield and then her shoulder. When the red-head goes down, X-23 says, "Rachel!", and then the infuriated young woman all but streaks across the rooftop now. Her sure-footed steps take her past Rachel's inert form and right to Kimura; who now finds herself released from that telekinetic hold. While X-23 can't necessarily hurt Kimura, she can at least keep her busy. Hopefully busy enough so that Ray can get her wits about her again.

As soon as X-23 is close enough, she'll whirl quickly upon one foot and aim a spinning kick at Kimura's torso. All of her strength is behind that kick and while Kimura could have easily let it hit her, she doesn't. She'll steps back with a sneer and raise her hand for an open palm strike at X-23, Rachel's telepathic shout suddenly surges into Laura's mind.

Not used to such loudly stated telepathic shouts, Laura once again staggers, her hands going to her head. Kimura laughs again, that strike of hers paused for a moment, as she watches Laura take 'friendly fire'. Thankfully that laugh doesn't last long, as Ray finally regains enough of her senses to grab Kimura within her telekinetic grip again.

Then Kimura can only shout, as she's picked up and slammed repeatedly into the rooftop. The force behind that TK hold is enough to cause Kimura to see stars now.

By this time, X-23 is once again in control of herself. Heeding Rachel's words, Laura will nod, even as she moves over to Ray. She'll reach out to grab one of the telepaths arms, to aid her to the small door that leads into the building proper. "The door." States the woman in that flattened voice of hers, "The building will provide cover." And if Rachel needs it, X-23 will happily haul her across the rooftop. As soon as X is within boot range of the door, the slim-assassin will raise one foot and slam it hard into the door. The rickety lock never had a chance as the door slams open with a loud bang.

The snipers follow the movements of the two women and when they see them approaching the door, they'll open fire again, unaware that a TK field will be deflecting their bullets.

Rachel's got a particularly nasty smile on her lips as she bounces Kimura off the roof, but by the second impact she's worked through her anger enough to start thinking clearly again. When Laura grabs her arm, Rachel's first step is more of a stumble, but after that she's moving swiftly and with purpose. She really needs to thank Betsy for teaching her to block pain.

Rachel feels the impact of the sniper's bullets against her telekinetic shield, but they don't penetrate. They don't even nearly penetrate. Instead, the bullets instantly flatten against Rachel's shield and slide off, proving that the redhead is back on her game. "Wait!" Rachel calls to Laura as the door is unceremoniously kicked open and Rachel is yanked inside. Reaching out quickly with her free hand, Rachel grabs the edge of the door frame to keep from being pulled further inside - just digging in her heels isn't enough against the surprisingly strong Laura. Poking her head back out, Rachel's eyes find Kimura. "I'm not done with you." She says under her breath, striking out telepathically, aiming to stun her, and then grabbing her ankle telekinetically and dragging her roughly inside the building after them.

She could have levitated the woman, but Rachel's not feeling that generous. "You know these people." Rachel says, distractedly, not even looking at Laura as she tries to do several things at once. "How long have we got?"

The snipers realize pretty quickly that their bullets aren't penetrating, immediately now, their chatter upon their radio frequency increases. "We are unable to target X and Y. They must be blocking us by some other means." Says the lead sniper, as the two other snipers quickly chime in their agreement. Kimura for her part is just becoming aware of her surrounds (yet again) as her head raised upward from the ground she was so unceremoniously pummeled against.

At Rachel's wait and the grip upon the door, Laura can only say in a harsh voice, "No. We must leave. Now." The last word rises in volume, as she once again speaks in more than just deaden tones. There's true emotions to her voice as she says that.

Sadly, even with that command of Laura's, Rachel still manages to lash out at Kimura, who was just about to reply to her people on the ground. Whatever she was about to say, however, dies within her throat as the physically invulnerable woman is quite easily stunned by that telepathic strike of Rachel's. Then she's being dragged by her ankle as Rachel once more grabs her with her telekinetic powers.

"Seconds." States X-23 as her head cocks to the side, her sensitive ears trying to filter out all the background noises of daily life within Mutant Town. She's straining to hear the cadence of military style boots stomping around and for this particular second she doesn't hear it. Not yet. "What are your plans?" She asks, even as she too multitasks now as she watches Ray drag Kimura over, all the while using her other senses to keep aware of everything she possibly can.

Already the snipers have alerted the rest of the forces that were held back, and quickly now, they begin to mobilize.

Rachel doesn't seem to pay any attention to Laura's insistent demand that they leave - probably because she doesn't have the time or concentration to do so. She adds a bit of telekinesis to her grip on the door frame, though. She can feel how insistent the assassin's pull on her arm is.

As soon as Kimura's through the door, Rachel lets go and finally allows Laura to drag her further into cover. As for Kimura, Rachel doesn't release her telekinetic grip, instead yanking the woman upright and slamming her against the nearest wall so hard that she's surrounded by a web of cracks in the plaster. No longer having to worry about shielding the entire roof from bullets, Rachel's telekinesis closes like a fist around Kimura's body, pinning her in place.

"Damn." The word is barely vocalised, but still Rachel's annoyance and disappointment is clear. Seconds aren't enough, and she doesn't dare try to stretch that estimate. Not in a building full of civilians. But she's not ready to give up and run quite yet. "We're going to win one." She tells Laura, grimly. "Watch my back." She tells her, and then her eyes go blank and white hot as she forces her way into Kimura's mind.

Even at the speed of thought, she has no time for subtlety or finesse, or even to mount a methodical search. Instead, she just grabs for whatever she can - names, faces, addresses, /anything/ they can use to take the initiative and strike back. Rachel's grip on Kimura is sure, but beyond that, she's relying on Laura to keep her alive.

Yes, best not to stretch Laura's estimation. She's not one to exaggerate, after all. If she says there are only seconds, there likely are only just that.

When Rachel reveals her plans and then asks for Laura to guard her back, X-23 does just that. Dropping her hand from Rachel's arm, X-23 will take a step backwards and settled into a position that gives her a good visual of Rachel, the now pinned Kimura, but also the stairs that lead up to their little hallway. Already she can begin to pick up the sounds of a militarized group of people heading towards their building and it's enough for X to say, "Quickly. They are nearly here."

Rachel's rather rough and tumble psychic grab does net something, but not everything. It grabs the faces that Kimura has been privy too. The faces of her own bosses, the new leadership of The Facility. Rachel's telepathic gamble also provides the voices behind who wants her dead, but no names, sadly. Or faces, of who wants Rachel.

It's as she is able to snag the voices that the door on the first floor is kicked open. X quickly steps forward, the sound of her claws being released from her hands clearly her, as the *SNIKT* echoes down the stairwell. "They are here. Our time is up."

Kimura's mind is opening like a book for Rachel - but at the speed she's reading it, it's a book without contents or index, and all the pages are out of order. Rachel devours the fragments of coherent information she's able to scan, committing faces and voices to memory. More, there has to be more, even at the phenomenally accelerated speed of mind to mind contact, Rachel knows she's almost out of time. She pushes deeper, looking for a location, something they can track from, anything…


It's that distinctive sound that tells Rachel her time is up, and she tries one last thing - she tries to rip out Kimura's memory of this whole encounter. It's far less than Rachel wants to do to her, far less than Rachel is certain she deserves, but there's no TIME. With a gasp, Rachel breaks the mental connection, her eyes going from featureless white to their usual green in the space of a couple of blinks, as she swings around to look at Laura, a light scan of the assassin telling Rachel what she heard, how close their enemies are…

Rachel reaches out and grabs Laura's shoulder. "Then let's go!" She tells her, glancing one last time toward Kimura and almost casually smacking her brain into unconsciousness. Rachel starts to glow, red gold fire surrounding her, and then Laura too, before Rachel smiles…

And a bolt of telekinetic fire streaks out of the door and into the sky, Rachel and Laura at its heart.

The pounding of feet up the stairs is clearly heard by the time Rachel is releasing her hold on Kimura's mind. When the red-head pivots on heel to look at Laura, she'll see X-23's gaze already focused upon the stairwell. It's only when Rachel grabs her shoulder, that Laura will transfer her attention from the onslaught of death coming to the other woman. A slight frown begins to dip her mouth downward, at the other woman's words, but thankfully her confusion dissipates, as she realizes just what Rachel is planning to do. "Are you strong enough?" She asks, as she knows Rachel has a wound upon her shoulder. The question seems moot, however, as the fire engulfs the two of them and they begin to rise upward.

Just as the two streak out of the little hallway and back upon the roof, the men coming up the stairwell finally arrive, guns drawn and laser dots scanning the area in quick sweeps.

Kimura, is still unconscious and will likely stay that way for some time, as her mind is particularly sensitive to psychic attacks. While Ray may wonder how good that memory erasing worked, for Kimura, she'll find that she only has tiny fragments left over. And even when she sees the footage her team shot of the encounter, she'll still not be able to find those memories of hers, only a vague feeling of deja vu when the video is watched.

As soon as the two are up in the air and speeding away, Laura will say to Rachel, "To the mansion. You require medical aid." She doesn't seem too discomfited by the fact they're riding in fire, but then, if she was would anyone really see that emotion upon her face? Likely not.

« I'm strong enough. » Rachel's answer comes when they're already blazing a trail across the sky, and this time the telepathic contact arrives at a more normal, conversational volume. There's even a hint that Rachel's slightly offended by the question. Once they're clear of immediate danger, Rachel dives to below roof level, pulling off a series of near-instant ninety degree zigzags between buildings until she's satisfied that she's confused their trail. It's only then that Rachel remembers to breathe.

Slowing a little, the aura of power around Rachel dims to something a bit less eye-catching, and Rachel's finally able to reply to Laura - although she grimaces before she does so. She looks like she might argue, but then she takes a look at her shoulder, and the blood soaking her jacket. She might not be able to feel it, but she can't ignore it forever. "All right. But not the Mansion. The base." Rachel shakes her head, disgusted. "I hate bringing trouble home." Nevertheless, Rachel gets clear of the city and then turns for home - scanning for any sign that they're being tailed all the way.

A little later, and Rachel is gingerly peeling her ruined jacket away from her shoulder in the X-Men's medical facility. She pauses and looks over at Laura. "You want to tell me what your plan was, before I ruined it?" She asks, then goes back to removing her jacket. There's plenty of dried blood, but she's taking the fact that her arm's functional as a good sign. Once she's got it off, she dumps the jacket on the floor and looks critically down at her arm and shoulder. There's a nasty furrow dug by the bullet, but no hole. Rachel breathes a sigh of relief. "Don't feel you have to tell Betsy I got shot." She tells Laura, starting to look around for the supplies she needs to clean her wound.

"The base." Echoes X-23, as she watches Rachel fly them all around town, trying to keep any sighting of themselves as confusing as possible. And while others might try to smooth some of those ruffled feathers of Ray, over whether she's okay or not, X doesn't. She has a healing factor, Rachel does not. To X, that means everyone else is fragile, whereas she isn't.

It's only when they land safely and are tucked away in the Bunker, that Laura will finally release some of the tension that lines her shoulders. Then she's gathering up the medical supplies that Rachel might need to fix her wound. All of it will be carried over to the red-head, in a small bin, as she considers that first question of Rachel.

"No." She says rather briskly, tone dipping towards harsh, before it lightens somewhat. "And I will not tell Betsy you were shot." And then, Laura will wait to assist Rachel in any way possible when it comes to cleaning her wounds up.

Rachel's lips press together at that 'No', a flicker of annoyance in her eyes, but it fades when Laura agrees to keep this one between them. "Good. I don't need to be reminded I shouldn't have gotten hurt in the first place, again." Rachel sounds faintly relieved, but mostly disgusted. Probably with herself. She begins to try cleaning up her shoulder and arm, but it's awkward to do, and rapidly becomes annoying. Rachel blows out a breath, puts everything down with elaborate care, and then turns to face Laura again. Pretty much all she's managed to do is start herself bleeding again. "Can you give me a hand?" She asks after a moment, having taken a few seconds to let the irritation subside, not wanting to take it out on Laura.

Once the dark-haired assassin has begun her work, Rachel returns to her line of questioning. "OK, you don't WANT to tell me what your plan was. I get that." Rachel tries a smile. "WILL you tell me what your plan was? In case you didn't notice, it's not just you they're after, and I could probably be useful."

"I will help." States Laura, as she moves closer to Rachel now. A few bandages will be grabbed, as well as disinfecting solution, the kind that stings no less. In efficient movements, Laura is stripping Rachel's shoulder free of blood, as well as dousing the wound liberally with the solution. Again, no healing factor for Rachel, so Laura is making quite certain to clean it out completely.

"Wounds happen. Not all battles will be won. Learn from the mistakes that were made in this battle, as I will, and that will help you become better at combat." Comments X-23 now, as Rachel mutters those words of hers. Being hurt again, indeed.

The second line of questioning causes the young woman to pause in her administrations, as she considers Rachel and that faint smile of hers. If she were more normal she'd have offered a sigh at this point. A big noisy one, but instead, Laura simply nods. Then she speaks, as she says, "I had thought to negotiate." She begins, her voice going completely flat at this point. "To avoid my … friends - " Almost she said family, but she couldn't quite get it out, " .. from being hurt any more."

To protect them, she means, by sacrificing herself.

"Thanks." Rachel moves to sit on one of the beds so Laura can have easier access to her shoulder, and submits to her ministrations. Rachel's a fairly good patient - it helps that she's still blocking the pain, but she's been patched up before, usually in a rough and ready way, and always with more emphasis on efficiency than comfort. She doesn't watch Laura's hands as she works, instead watching Laura's face, although the younger woman is too inscrutable to betray much.

"Yeah." Rachel says in a disgruntled tone, in response to Laura's equivalent of a pep talk. "I suppose that's better than 'I thought you could flip cars with your brain, how did you get stabbed?'" Rachel paraphrases Betsy's most recent scolding.

When Laura stops treating her shoulder, Rachel stops grumbling, sensing that she might actually get an answer beyond 'no' this time. She's not disappointed, but by the time Laura's finished, Rachel almost wishes she'd got another 'no'. Rachel's eyes are full of compassion as she reaches out with her uninjured arm, her hand touching Laura's arm and giving it a bit of a squeeze. "Laura… believe me, I understand. Why do you think I tried to stay away from here?" Rachel shakes her head slowly. "But giving yourself to these guys? It's not the answer. You can't keep anyone safe if the bad guys have you."

It doesn't take long for Laura to finish the bandaging and when it's all done, Ray will find her shoulder expertly wrapped. It's only then that Laura will finally look back at Ray, especially when the other woman offers a squeeze to her arm. The tension within that limb is quite palpable by Ray, when she offers that touch of comfort.

For a long silent second, X offers nothing as she tries to struggle with what she's feeling and how to say it. She does understand what Ray's saying, what she's trying to get Laura to realize, but it's almost too much for the girl to parse. Finally though, the slim-assassin will simply say, "It is the only way I see to stop what they are doing."

"I will fulfill the contracts they put before me as long as they do not hurt any of you." Which includes Rachel and while her intentions are noble, she does realize how flawed her plan is. They have the trigger scent, all they need to do is mark Rachel with the scent again, and X will try to kill her.

As much as Rachel tries to keep her eyes on Laura, when the other woman finishes fixing her up she does sneak a look down at her handiwork, and she's impressed. Rachel gives her arm an experimental flex, and offers a nod of thanks to Laura. Easing off the psionic pressure that's been keeping her from feeling the pain in her shoulder, Rachel draws in a sharp breath, then carefully breathes out. It hurts but it's manageable, and Laura gets a second nod. Rachel wasn't going to say anything. She doesn't want to give Laura the opportunity to escape the conversation.

Rachel's eyes change when Laura explains how her plan was supposed to work. There's still compassion, but it's being consumed by a sudden spark of anger. "No." For a moment it seems like it's Rachel's turn for short answers, but she only clamped her teeth together to stop her sudden anger from boiling over. "I'm sorry, Laura, but NO. You are NOT going to let them use you. You are NOT going to hunt for them. You are NOT going to be the price for our safety, got it? You're worth too much to us, we - me, Nate, everyone - we are not going to accept that." There's a fire in Rachel's eyes that has nothing to do with her powers, and she holds Laura's gaze for a long moment before she passes a hand across her eyes and sighs.

"And if that doesn't convince you…" Rachel says, since she's figuring out Laura's as stubborn as she is, "…think about it. Once they had you, how were you going to stop them using you for anything they wanted? I saw you fight that woman. You couldn't take her." Rachel's being brutal, but she's hoping Laura will respond to logic. "But I can. If I'd had just a little longer I'd have everything she knew. I got some scraps, but I can't do anything with them without your help. We didn't lose today. We CAN beat them. That's got to be worth a try, right?" The anger's gone from Rachel's eyes as quickly as it arrived. She's almost pleading with Laura not to give herself up.

Rachel's anger and ire is seen and heard by Laura, but her expression barely shifts. Perhaps there's something there, but it's buried deep beneath the stoic layers of her expression and her dead-eyed gaze. Thankfully though, for Laura and Rachel both, the logic seems to win. Laura will nod once, as she says, "Yes. I understand." And while she wishes she could say more, the words aren't found. They're lost within the confusion of her own mind, as she wrestles with what she's currently feeling.

Happiness that someone cares for her so, but also happiness that doesn't have to give herself back to The Facility. She's so much more now … that going back there, might truly have killed her soul, but she would have done it. She would have.

"Let us go speak with Nate about what you have found." She finally offers, as she takes a step towards the door. "And then will will plan our next steps."

Once Rachel is on her feet, the two woman will move with purpose, though perhaps Ray will move slightly slower than X. Then afterwards, will X remember to dig the bullet out of her own gut and perhaps even later, she'll feel even more thankful that she does finally have a family.

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