Ghosts, Dopplegangers and Boogeymen

September 05, 2017:

(out of time scene) The X-Men assemble in Hopewell to get some R'n'R and regroup.

Genosha, the township of Hopewell

Characters

NPCs: Madelyne Prior, Mar, Lukas

Mentions: Various X-Men

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Genosha the supposed island of the Hope, Opportunity and Freedom. The southeastern side of the African island established as a beachhead for the X-Men as they have taken up temporary residence in the township of Hopewell, with the pressure on the island nation everything is on lockdown patrols are heavy and civil war is in progress. It looks like the movie Wolverines only it's not Communists invading.

To this point they have destroyed the Sentinel Factory that acted as the Human Council's embassy on Genosha, installed Kitty and Doug's virus in to the GSN (Genoshan Secure Networks), taken down the Gene Therapy Labs and suffered the unfortunate loss of Nate Grey. Agent Lewis and Moonstar as of yet still remain unaccounted for as well.

Final hours are incoming and the X-Men have had to regroup behind friendly lines, Hopewell again the pleasant looking community straight out of Fallout pre-apocalypse with it's 40's retro style.

The wide two story house with the garage. Now that the defensive grid is down the entire island has been exposed and much of their anti-insurgency systems are ineffective in keeping intrusive factors in, such as the Blackbird. It's Shi'ar based stealth systems allowing it entry and a landing just outside of the town where earlier such a thing would have been incapable. There is still no option for it to get near Hammerbay or Cyclops' team's last known location, unfortunately. Localized batteries and anti-vehicle still exists.

Genosha is surpsingly rainy this day, a heavy pour that has the distance blanketed in curtains of downfall and the streets splattered, gutters filled and the lush grass looking swamplike.

Rogue lands on one of the roofs of the idealic homes in this 1940s-styled neighborhood. She's wearing a black leather trenchcoat that she liberated from one of the Genosha officers that she… incapacitated…

Rogue crouches ont he roof and scans the area with her eyes behind a pair of dark sunglasses also taken from the genoshan forces. After a moment, she drops down to her knees on the roof and pulls out a pack of cigarettes, sliding one cigarette out and lighting it with a small golden lighter (also taken from a Genoshan Officer).

Rogue wasn't quite herself, she'd absorbed a few different people on the island and she was… currently amalgamation of different personalities… She was also rather dirty and covered in battle-filth, with her white bangs almost a dark grey while her hair gently swayed in the rainy breezes, shedding water.

Jean had not been part of the initial combat in Genosha, having remained behind at the Institute to help hold the fort down and prepare to be called in as reinforcements along with others who would form a second wave if they were needed.

The psychic shock of Nate's death and the familiar presence of the Phoenix had been the catalyst for driving her to Genosha, regardless of how well the battle was currently going.

Not long ago she had have arrived with the Blackbird and any other X-Men who had not been present in the earlier stages of the attack, ready to report to Cyclops and find out what had happened and how they could help.

Nate is unfortunately a step above unaccounted. Although the only person that maybe saw him die is Laura, many telepaths all over the world noticed his death.

Although death is not always the end for powerful telepaths. As Jean and Illyana saw, Nate's spirit, his astral form, still lingers in the Astral space around Genosha. An area of the mindplane that has been damaged by the release of vast psychic energies of the Jean lookalike woman.

Insomnia? Nigh terrors? Epileptic attack? Your dog now hates you? Blame not-Jean.

The firestorm is fading, though, as the energy slowly dissipates and the Astral Plane heals itself. With the flames waning, Nate has an easier time keeping thoughts coherent, although he is also quite aware his time is limited: he will vanish with the storm, probably in a few days.

Coherent enough to project his astral form into the physical plane and move ghost-like all the way to Hopewell. He can feel Jean is near.

The haze is blinked away… Or maybe it is the fact that her retinas finally adjusted and healed, while in the meantime her eardrums also sought to gather the caucophany around her.

The Red Head drug from beneath her grip, her body lifted…

Where was Nate? Mattias? Dani? That Agent Dar-seee?

Speak no Evil. See No Evil. Hear No Evil.

Evil Dead?

Laura descends from the makeshift 'gourney' in wet slaps of leather, kept to her skin via the paint of red over skin and wounds. A strap falls and she licks fingers, pastes it back up! and heads into the garage.

Fuck the crinkling noise. A lick on the cream-sickle and then it is spattered over one eye with a sigh of relief!

"Go back! … he said… 'You're okay!'… he said… " Muttering to herself (mostly). "Nevermind the fact all your friends are…" Inhale "… maybe."

A rain soaked rendeavouz for the X-Men in Hopewell sanctuary right now. There is currently no laughter, no joy, no smiling faces.

The returning X-Men are given onceovers with firearms and a medical check from a mutant who can accelerate natural healing, she doesn't linger on Laura instead seeing to the unconscious, possibly comatose female she has with her. Rogue gets a curteousy weapon aim until they realize shes one of them and then she is bypassed. It's assumed shes joining her team.
What seemed like optimism from the rebel cell of Hopewell days ago is now a lot of mixed angst, bitterness and ironically hopelessness. Things are bleak but it could simply be the weather.

The abnormally large rebel leader of Hopewell was the one to greet Jean and update her, the bald woman who goes by the name Mar is soft spoken and dedicated, shes given an accounting for everything thats transpired so far though, she curiously keeps looking from Jean to the woman in the infirmary. The resemblences are uncanny.

Rogue didn't really care if they aimed their guns at her or not, she might not even care if they fired them at her to be honest. Her cigarette was lit beneath a cupped hand in the rain and she puffed on it once, before hearing and seeing Laura heading into the garage that Rogue was kneeling on the roof of.

A moment later and the tranchcoat-clad, rain soaked, Rogue slipped onto her left thigh and she started to slide down the roof with a humming thrum against the rough textured surface… until she slid right off and dropped down to the driveway with a quiet thud.

Rogue turned to the garage and walked inside, raising her right hand up and lifting her sunglasses up into her wet hair. "Heya, sugah." Rogue said quietly toward Laura then while leading for that freezer that had the orange creamcicles in it.

Jean listens to Mar with as much concentration as she can muster given all of the pain and loss she has to block out, including the fading breaths and lingering thoughts of those who had passed on or were about to pass on.

Thanking Mar for her time, Jean headed into the infirmary looking for familiar faces even as she reached out to try and locate Scott with her telepathy somewhere on the island so that she could let him know she was here.

"Who are you?" Jean asked of the unconscious woman laying on a bed, a woman who seemed to look just like her. While she didn't expect an answer verbally, she was going to seek out her own mentally.
« That is a good question. »

Nate's telepathic 'voice' lacks his usual strength. But Hammer Bay is a long way and that is where he currently 'exists'. Jean can 'hear' him, but the others probably cannot. « I thought she was you, but her mind was empty but for… the fire. »

From the Astral Plane and in his current mindstate the others look like faint presences. It is hard to focus on them right now.

Everything is coming back in pulses, from dull and un-heard/seen/scented… To a sudden onslought. Everything is healing still, and the last thing Wolverine knew is that she was to mend, then accompany the Red Woman to a secure location… Since she can 'take it'.

The creamsicle is held over an eye, and Rogue was not heard through her left ear, coming in, but when she gets closer suddenly the sharpness climbs in volume to a hammer on her fissure'd skull. Her other eye is a blood-shot red as it peers at Rogue and then looks to her own creamsicle, almost cross-eyed in that silent self-chiding.

But there is relief… Rogue was still with them, she wondered, and now the slow fall of tensed shoulders shows it, although senses flood and that single eye not pasted behind orange and cream is darting around.

"It is hard… How do you remain calm?… This place never felt normal…?" The latter a question and a statement in one for Rogue as others filter in…
It is bold to use telepathy on the island even with it's defenses down, the telepathic mutates still in servitude are projecting out in search of possible communications on that route but the mental bond Jean and Scott share allows for very little press from the woman to relay her presence. It is not exactly as though he can return the gesture.

Mar's presence remains with the team as they enter the garage, her fingers wringing together while she looks form one face to the next. Their numbers have diminished greatly but that is becausse many of the X-Men are out fighting, causing discord and keeping Genosha off balance long enough for plans to take off.

"You really should rest and let our physicians see to all of you. Especially you, Wolverine." She insists then places a hand on Jean's shoulder, "I am very sorry about your sister."

The presence of Nate's material lacking presence goes unseen by the rebel and her fellows.

"We have new intel that some of you may wish to hear. As soon as you are all ready… " A studying look falling on Rogue as she seeks out the frozen treats.

While Laura posed this question at her, Rogue was digging around in a box in a freezer to get one of the last two icey treats. She was unwrapping it while turning to face Laura and then gave the beat-up kid a soft smile.

"I'll show ya one'a my relaxation tricks." She said in a calm and soothingly accented southern charming way.

Rogue closed the distance to Laura and brandished the pack of cigarettes. She reached out and handed it to her with the little gold lighter then would move to sit down and get a better look at Wolverine while indulging in her frosty orange sugaryness.

"Yeah… you needta get some serious loungin' time in… gotta let that Wolverepair-stuff do its thang, kiddo."

« Nate! » Jean's telepathic voice could hardly contain her excitement at finding the young man, in some form even if it was non-corporeal.

Her attention was mostly focused on the matter at hand, the woman with her face and the dead son from a universe not quite her own. She was sure the other X-Men present would handle listening to Mar while she delved into the more pressing mystery right in front of her.

« We'll do whatever we can for you. » Jean tried her best to assure Nate before trying to confirm this blank mind that Nate had spoken of and doing her best to press beyond any barriers or shields that might be erected in her 'clone's mind. She was not holding back in her search for answers.
« First find the others, only Laura and Mattias returned from the clinic. And Scott's team has been away for… a while » hesitation because he doesn't know how long has been. His time sense is gone along his body.

Nate finally does a brief mindscan around the area, identifying people. It takes considerable effort because he is not really there. For a few seconds, his projection vanishes back to the firestorm, then he returns seemingly refreshed.

Mar is given a deadpan single-eye'd stare, but moreso the wringing hands she has in her approach, a single slide of battered booted foot behind… A positioning to lunge if Wolverine has to, even if the woman was in animalistic prostrate due to gestures alone. But she was a healer, and helper, a necessary evil?

The mirrored placement of Jean, near Not-Jean has Wolverine slowly sliding the orange away from her mending socket, the eye filling the emptiness as she moves, that occular still a milky white while pigment resets to form iris. A shudder of form and fingers twitch, but the offer from Rogue has Laura tilting her head, accepting the offer after a sniff along the cigarettes. One is pulled free, turned over. Studied.

"Like a Cuban, but not as smooth, the chemicals…" It is twisted and flipped in fingers to place between lips, the lighter clutched and sparked. Over the flame, Jean's elation and movements are read. Excitement? Why? Not a good time…? Nostrils breathe in smoke as well as surroundings.

A questioning look to Rogue and back. Halp!

Mar quietly mumbles, "You probably shouldn't smoke in here." but that is as far as it goes from her, if the swat at the air can be ignored.

"We have confirmed that G-Core is withdrawing their offices in to Hammer Bay where it is safesst, this means your hit on them has shaken them up. This woman and whomever else they were holding there were important enough to dedicate an entire facility to them. We know a person named Sugarman was the head of G-Core but we're not exactly sure where or even who he is. It's assumed he was at that location but there were no eyes on him."

A frown as she looks at Jean's face to not-Jean, "I'm very sorry for your losses but we're getting an upperhand from this. Our next phase is about to begin as soon as we get word from Cyclops. We seen an attempted shot on the Citadel, the amount of damage is unconfirmed but it still stands." Which means, the optic blast they had seen while Nate was trying to contain Madelyne was them.

"With all of the hits in so many locations we're very close, we only need to know if Madame Reneau is in transit off the island." The woman sounds eager, shes almost shaking from it. The idea of freedom for herself and so many other mutants is very close at hand.

Rogue was just grinning at Laura as she lit the cigarette up and tried it out. "Not as gag-enducin' as a cigar." She quietly told the younger woman while taking licks off of her icey treat here and there. "Plus, think about it… ya get all the positives without any of the negatives cause'a that healin' stuff." Rogue's green eyes glanced down at her ice cream while she thought about that for a second. "Well, the really bad negatives anyway."

Rogue was about to take another dip on her creamy-goodness when the Mar-person spoke up about smoking, Rogue looked up at them and then to Laura with the cigarette. "Ah… sorry." She said, and lifted her left hand up to stretch her gloved fingers out a little. A moment later and the smoke from the cigarette was going right at Rogue's fingertips and curling around her hand like a smokey glove…

"Got a few new strange powers since all this started." She quietly muttered with a grin. "Imagine they'll be gone in a day or so. Hopefully…"

So focused was Jean on her 'sister' as Mar had called her, that it took her a moment to acknowledge what was meant to be comfort, "Thank you." It was all she could really reply given the circumstance, even if she knew it was not her sister; it was easier to avoid explanations when one had been already offered.

"Rogue, Wolverine. I'm glad to see you're both alright." Jean said to the pair of women before looking back to Mar, "We'll see to it that we're ready to move as soon as Cyclops sends word. If you don't mind, I'll help see to the wounded and do what I can for them." Being a Doctor, it was specifically within the range of her own skill. It also allowed her to keep an eye on Not-Jean in case she woke up.

Turning her attention back to Rogue and Wolverine, she explained, "Nate isn't quite dead. He's here, sort of. It's hard to explain, but his consciousness is still with us."

Jean looked surprised as Nate's psychic presence vanished and re-appeared before telling him, « Rogue and Wolverine are here. We're waiting on word from Scott. I've told them about your predicament. We'll find a way to bring you back, don't worry. » They had to find a way, she believed her thoughts as unrealistic as they seemed.

Nate listens Mar. Does the woman know the plan? Feels like she does. Wait. « Sugarman? »

He 'said' that loud enough for non-telepaths to hear. Feels important. 'Sugarman'. Subject of children horror nursery rhymes when he was growing up. Probably a coincidence. Except lately there is no coincidences.

With considerable effort, he manifest a ghostly image of himself. A weak illusion. « I guess… no quite dead yet. Something happened in the Astral Plane. But I can't stay here long. »

"Nate?" Mar has no idea. At least not until the young man visualizes, "Oh him." X-Man or Scion she heard him referred to as several things. The one they had thought was dead.
Mar gives Rogue a thankful smile over the cigarettes before her eyes drift back to Jean and the Astral Ghost. The use of names tells Mar these people are a lot closer than just some combat team of liberators. They could very well be family like she and her fellow rebels.

"I… uh.. yes, Sugarman. He's boogeyman of sorts, we have never seen him only hear of his name and the atrocities he is responsible for. Most who say the name Sugarman disappear. It's… well, we just don't talk of him but now is not the time for fear or fables. If he exists we can destroy him. According to our informants the technology behind much of what they use on us is from this outsider."

Rogue looked up then at Jean when she greeted her and Laura and she gave the woman a big and heavy grin. "Heya, Red." She said at the leaderly X-Men type in a flirty kind of way.

The smoke that Rogue pulled from Laura's cigarette was traveling up her arm now and just doing circular waves around her body as it went, clining to her like she were a smoke magnet.

When Jean explained that Nate was still with them… Her green eyes started to look up toward the ceiling (as one does) and around as though she'll 'see' his spirit. "I love you, Nate." Rogue said to the empty air above them. "Ya can possess my body if ya need'ta. At least for a little while. But don't get weird about it, mmkay? Or I'll have'ta punch ya once we get ya back in your own…" A smile was shown then and she hoped her friend was able to hear her, though that kind of stuff sort've baffled the southern gal.

"Try to get some rest." Jean said to pair of X-Women before her in a motherly tone, "You've both been through hell and I have a feeling Scott is going to need you both more than ever when he calls for you." It wasn't an order by any means, but she hoped they would listen.

"You and your people have done a great job, Mar." She smiled reassuringly, sensing the desire for freedom that the rebels had, "Soon enough, Genosha will be free of the regime and nobody will have to fear bogeymen like the Sugarman. I promise you that."

"I'm going to go get some scrubs on and get to work. No possessing either, that never works out well." She warned Nate and Rogue as she headed off to get her hands dirty trying to save lives.

When Rogue takes the smoke, it seemed the realization came to the Lady-Wolverine's gaze of mismatched hue. The Cream-part of the 'cicle battered the floor of the place, held at her side, like a chid no longer interested in the Ice Cream Man version of Twisted Metal. Orange and (blood)Red.

Laura watches and pulls the cigarette from her lips, lifting heel to snuff it out on the melted tread, dropped to be planted beneath.

Jean's words are what drew her attention, a snap of gaze to draw Laura from one 'plea' to another, even if ghostly.

The other Red is regarded as well, but when Rogue offers herself up, Laura can only shake her head, a swift gesture that shakes black srands free of her bloodied facade to lay them out like whips.

"No… no… It isn't right… It won't fit." Nevermind the differences, it is the very being of Rogue herself, that Wolverine worries about, shown even as she looks up-and-out, like the rest to settle back.

"Death is death. We say goodbye…" And even in the final word, Laura's shoulders fell. Her only show of remorse in front of others, her only show of sorrow and loss behind closed eyes when she blinks and looks away, tossing the cream-cicle into a garbage can.

2 points…
What Mar says sounds pretty much what Sugarman was in his world. A living horror story. Except the technology part, that makes less sense. Unless Sugarman has access to Apocalypse tech. Then, suddenly, Genosha makes horrifying sense. The whole island would be the Breeding Pens.

Rogue's words kind of derail his train of thought, though. The ghost manages a glance the southern girl « Uh, thanks. No idea how to do the possession thing, so no worries. But I think you need to get back to Hammer Bay and find Scott. I will try to help - I am 'there'. Watch out for Sugarman. I get the impression he is very important. » Then he slowly fades out.

Jean may be able to sense he has returned to the Astral maelstrom.
"Thank you very much, Jean." Mar offers politely back to Jean as she departs. She opens her mouth to say more then gets cut off as a man in a Magistrate's armor runs in and whispers in to her ear. He is recognizable from their first touchdown here, the guard who was initally talking to Laura.

"You can share this information with the X-Men, Lukas." The soldier who just now received a name looks at those present, including the semi-corpeal form which causes him to lurch backwards, "We… sorry. I didn't expect a hologram or… whatever you are. Anyways, we have visual confirmation of a vessel entering Carrion Cove. It's the destination point for Cyclop's team with the President. Unfortunately they have incoming. We're needed there immediately."

Rogue would smile at Laura then. "Nice shot." She'd add to the younger one before getting up, still shedding water and having the smoke travel up and down her arms and shoulders.

"I'll rest when we're home." Rogue said back to Jean before turning and heading back out toward the rain. She'd lean her head back and shout up toward the clouds.

"Scott! Oh Scooooooott! I'mma comin' t'find ya, ya big sexy beast ya!" And with that, the rather odd-acting woman would shoot up into the sky and out of sight!

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