Title: The Nightmare In My Back Pocket
Description: [Medical Staff]
Hound - April 11, 2012 06:20 PM (GMT)
“Rachel, get inside.”
A decade of bad dreams ended and she shot forward, tears on the verge of running down her face. The room was bright, too much so. She squinted against it, her green eyes scanning around the room. Some sort of infirmary. A low hum pervaded the scene, from the lights, most likely. “Where…” Her mouth was dry, her tongue a desert in her mouth. Running her forearm across her face she wiped clean the evidence of the nightmare. Trying to recollect, she remembered only it’s bloody end. Prying in her mind for a face, a name, anything, her search was fruitless. She pulled an IV from her arm with a wince.
“Her name is Rachel.”
The brief memory played back in her mind. That face, familiar and yet unfamiliar all at once. Franklin, that was his name. What had happened? She felt as if she’d been asleep for centuries, and despite that she also felt exhausted, weak. Her stomach issued a protest in the form of a gurgling rumble. She clutched at it. Empty. Shaking haze from her head she swung her legs around the edge of the medical table, hopping down and hissing in protest as a pain shot up her leg, making her stumble. Cringing at the burning in her leg, she looked down, pulling the medical gown up, looking at the stitches that dotted her leg. Again a mystery.
Finding her balance, she limped away from the table over to a basin. The room clashed with itself. Sleek and new-looking equipment lined old stone walls with strange blocky carvings. Where was here? What was here?
Limping towards a sink, she threw the faucet open and cupped her hands beneath the stream, drinking the stuff down as fast as she could until her thirst began to vanish. Leaning down on the rim of the basin, she dropped her head, burying it in her arms. “What is going on?” The girl murmured to nothing, and looking up from her stooping, she rubbed the cool water over her face, and then she saw herself in the distorted sheen of the metal basin. Head tilting in silent confusion as she leaned further in, she ran a finger across the dark mark traveling up her jaw, along her cheek. “Wha… no… No!”
…the traitor Franklin Richards… betray your own... doomed us all…
It was all so blurry, but she knew those marks, she knew what they meant and what they stood for. But who had put them there? A wave of recollection surged over her head. The mind cage, the Hound prison, the fight in the Courtyard, the people in the clearing, the Awales, and then she hit a wall of nothing, on so solid and heavy that it caused a lump of pain to well up in the back of her head.
“A Hound? I’m a…” She staggered backwards in disbelief. Rubbing at her cheeks, at her jaw. They’d never come off, she’d always be one of them. She shook her head in disbelief and self pity painted it. Her mind opened and she felt presences nearby, just outside. Her throat was sore from where the collar had rested, it’s long-time claim to her neck finally over, the patch there itched like crazy.
Beast - April 11, 2012 11:22 PM (GMT)
Feet walked along the grips in the ceiling, large blue furred hands poured a 5th cup of coffee of the day. Hank was tired, running on little sleep over the last 24 hours as he worked on improving the health and condition of the girl that found herself on one of the infirmary beds at this very moment. He had the assistance of his life long friend and her expertise both psychological and telepathic healing would have been useful when Rachel woke up. The surprising thing was Franklin choosing to stay next to her until he passed out as well.
No one had really left the infirmary since early yesterday morning. He just finished taking a slip before setting it down and flipping off the ceiling to walk over to the next room to see the younger red head wake up from her slumber, clearly confused. The blue furred doctor poured a glass into a paper cup bringing it to her. "I imagine you're thirsty." He said offering her a smile as well. "We've been quite worried about you, Rachel, right?" He asked, looking to Franklin for a moment. "He's been quite worried about you, hasn't left your side since you fell asleep. Shocking considering he doesn't seem to remember much about himself or his past... hopefully you two can help each other as the rest of us help the both of you." Hank responded with a smile.
"Are you hungry? I have some jello if you like, it's not like the usual gelatin that is usually served in hospitals, contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals within a delicious cherry flavoring." He smiled at her, trying to be friendly with her, giving her his best bedside manner.
"I suppose we should probably wake them, though I am surprised Jean has not woken to that wonderful Folgers scent, perhaps it is not as alluring as the commercials make it out to be." He chuckled lightly.
Psilord - April 12, 2012 02:17 AM (GMT)
He remembered, somehow, that there were many nights that he had spent in far more uncomfortable situations. Sleeping in a chair seemed like a luxury compared to those days, even if he didn't remember those days. His knees and legs were fairly bruised and scraped as was his back from the half aware fight in the courtyard, but nothing major, no broken bones. Franklin had already learned that he could speed his healing factor just by wishing it, but it took a lot of energy out of him, so it didn't seem worth it just for some minor booboos.
Besides, it gave him a reason to stay here and watch Rachel.
Now, there was a confusion. When he thought about her, he felt that ghostly familiarity that was connected to his name, that was connected to his powers. She was part of the puzzle that was his life, and it hurt to try and think about his past. But it didn't hurt to think of Rachel. She was his age, she had the same problems with her memory as he did, and he recognized those markings on her face as that of a Hound. What a Hound (Capital H) was as opposed to hound (small h) he didn't know, but he recognized it as a danger to them all, and something that had been violently forced upon Rachel.
Whoever Franklin was, whatever he was, there was something ingrained in him that made him disgusted at the thought of someone hurting someone else, not just because Rachel was pretty, but because it was just wrong. He couldn't understand how someone could just so easily hurt someone like that, make them hurt other people. In his heart, Franklin Richards, who didn't know a damn thing else about himself, knew that he was one of the good guys.
Dr. Hank hadn't really said a word to him about why he was sitting beside the bed of the girl who had attacked him, not since they'd brought her in here, and he'd told him and Mrs. Jean that he didn't know how he knew who she was, what she was. It was like everything else that he knew, or remembered. It was half remembered instinct, like racial memory, or like when you try to ride a bike. Even if you haven't done it for years, when you get back on, it just comes to you. That was Rachel. He didn't know how they had met, or what they were to each other, but he looked at her and wanted to protect her, wanted to help her, wanted to kiss her... but that last one, well, he shoved that deep deep deep inside, because he knew she was a telepath.
The talking between the girl and the doctor woke Franklin up, and he realized that it was mid afternoon. He'd seen the sun come up, so sleeping until the afternoon made sense. Opening his eyes, he muttered, "Mmm, jello."
Jean - April 12, 2012 10:31 PM (GMT)
The night before-
Jean stood on the other side of the unconscious girl as Hank bent over the collar device. A grimace of disgust pinched her attractive features into something fierce. She wanted to simply rip it off the girl's neck but Hank pointed out the possibility of a security feature that might hurt or kill Rachel if the collar was forcibly removed; Jean let cooler heads prevail. Her gaze flicked momentarily over to Franklin, where he'd been temporarily banished to an outer room; she saw him watching through the crack in some curtains.
"Hank," she leaned forward and spoke in a low voice that she doubted carried out to Franklin, "I saw some," she paused trying to grope for the right word and finally settled on, "flashes, in Rachel's mind of things that can't be true. I think perhaps she's been brainwashed and false memories put in her mind. Franklin's mind could also have been tampered with; the amnesia and huge holes in what they do know, coupled with having knowledge they can't explain. It all adds up." She told him. "That, or we have another trans-dimensional rupture in the making," she gave him a meaningful look. "I'd like you to run her DNA against our database of known genetic profiles." It wasn't a usual procedure with new arrivals. "I have some suspicions," she went on, "doubts, let's say. And it would help put my mind at rest."
Jean had told herself that she'd simply sit at Hank's desk for five minutes, just to catch her breath, so to speak, no big deal then she'd ready to keep going.
She awoke hours later with her head using her arms for pillows and blinked a few times before her eyes focused. "Hank, you shouldn't have let me sleep," she chided him but there was no heat in it.
Getting to her feet, she tilted her head at Rachel, taking in the bewildered girl scratching at the ring of sore skin around her neck. "You look like you could use a good meal. Let's get you some clothes and take you down to the cafeteria."
Hound - April 13, 2012 02:37 AM (GMT)
She moved back to the sink, briefly, and again she played at the marks on her face, shaking her head in disbelief. Something fluttered by her memory, made her wince, and then it was gone. A voice cut through quiet reflection and it was then she noticed that she wasn't alone. The woman from last night was there, sleeping at a desk, Franklin stretched out sleeping on a nearby spare medical bed. Hank. She remembered his name now, Jean's too.
The hairy blue Beast of a man offered her a cup, and she took it, not questioning the contents as she downed the drink and moved quickly and furiously to refill it from the tap, drinking again, and a third time. Still she said nothing, and taking a forth cup, she turned to him while he was still talking, her face a contortion of confusion and uncertainty.
It had been hard to say that even. Her mind was in a jumble still, and she couldn't string the words quite right.
"I... " She shook her head again and moved back to the sink, taking another cup. sighing this time with a bit of satisfaction. Limping back to the bed, she leaned on it again, baring her teeth in a hiss while she looked at the cuts along her lower leg. Bracing herself there, she managed to force a nod. "Jello."
At that moment, across the room from her she heard her words echoed through a filter of fatigue, and she watched as Franklin stirred. Franklin Richards. She knew that was his name because she had been sent here to kill him.
Sent and failed.
"Ugh..." She ground a palm into her eye as if doing that would cure her ails, shaking her head, fingers running through her newly cropped and clean hair. How long had she been asleep?
Franklin Richards. She remembered the name and she remembered him. Why that was she didn't know. How that was she couldn't fathom. He'd called her Rachel. Was that her name? He looked familiar, welcoming, warming. Her mind stretched out, prying towards his for answers. A bright but invisible flash struck her and she gripped tightly at the sheet of the bed she leaned on. She then looked again to Hank. He was concerned for her, concerned for Franklin as well. This all but affirmed that she was, for now, among friends.
She gave a nod to nobody in particular as Hank shuffled off to get his hands on coffee and food. At this point she'd noticed that Jean was awake, standing and moving across the room to her. The girl's eyes slowly tracked to the approaching woman and she connected eyes with her.
"Yes... yeah... I'm pretty hungry. I don't know if I can eat though."
Something about that woman, about what had happened last night. That instant of relief during the assault on her mind. What did it mean?!
Looking down at the medical gown she quirked a brow, clothes sounded like an ace idea. She gave Jean a nod and looked back again to Franklin, still in the process of rousing himself. The vaguest of smiles passed her face, some fleeting memory she couldn't slow fast enough to illuminate.
Her eyes shot back to Jean again.
"They're called Hound Marks." She said, stepping forward, circling a finger around her face. "I've seen them before. Genetic brands placed on mutants. They act as trackers. As controls. A lot of things. I don't... remember getting them."
The sudden rush of speech seemed to take its tole and she leaned limply back against her bed. "They made me one of those... things..." She balled a fist into her other hand and shook her head. "But I don't know who they are... or why..."
She looked to Jean. "I'm not where I should be. I don't know where I should be but here isn't it."
As Hank returned she looked to him. "You're going to run a DNA test. Why? And don't lie. You're thinking about it. I'm not going back under."
Avery - April 13, 2012 04:04 AM (GMT)
Long strides would soon be hear upon the cold stone floor. With patients in the infirmary and she being the head nurse, Avery was never too far away. Or at least within ear shot of her enhanced hearing which gifted her to hear patients stir where the average person would not. And by now she could hear Hank speaking and Jean entering, and so quickened her steps to the infirmary.
Times were getting curious and curiouser, one mystery after another seemed to pile up and she wondered as the days passed if they were getting any closer to solving any of them. At the very least, though she worried about the outside world and her fiancee, she knew here in Utopia they were reasonably safe. If it took them a bit of time to figure things out and untangle the puzzles, at least they could do it without looking over their shoulders in fear.
Now these two new ones that occupied the infirmary, unsure of where they actually came from or who their family was…or much of anything. Just scraps of this and that that didn't tie together much or make sense to any of them. Still, it was early yet and if Jean couldn't find the answers within them, perhaps with a little time and hope their memories would eventually come back or something would trigger them. Avery couldn't help but feel for the two, her empathic scent of cucumbers drifting from her spot in the entry way, if she were in their shoes she knew she'd be frightened and very untrusting.
It was part of her job description to make her patients for feel as comfortable as she could possibly make them and so while the others got down to business, hopefully she could make them feel a little less scared and build some trust. And this girl..Rachel, she was so much more distraught than Franklin. Poor girl. There was a different sort of aura that hung around her, though Avery felt that she would find her to be a nice girl, whatever had happened in her recent past…whatever life she had been living was definitely not one that was, pleasant for a lack of better words.
"A DNA test may help to tell us things that you can't remember, or perhaps don't know yourself. It might lead to some answers and if so, then there is no harm in trying. It is painless and you won't have to go back under. I promise you that Dr. McCoy has your well being in his best interests. He will not force you into anything that you are uncomfortable with." The mint hued nurse's voice came easy and gently, speaking for the first time since she arrived. "But you will feel a little more at ease once you get something into you, some oatmeal or toast will help settle your stomach. You're feeling many things right now, hunger shouldn't be one of them. It's the least we can do."
Beast - April 15, 2012 07:41 AM (GMT)
Quickly everyone started to wake. Hank smiled at Franklin's solemn word before turning the gentle gaze through his spectacles to Jean. She chided him about letting her sleep, but he knew she needed it more than he did. He could operate for hours on end without rest at near peak efficiency. It helped to be somewhat animalistic and posses an enhanced healing ability to reduce fatigue toxins in the body. "You needed it more than I dear." Hank responded to Jean with a flash of a smile.
"Food and rest are the best suggestions for now, working slowly to figure things out. You may feel the need to rush things... but as Franklin can attest to, forcing memories to come back can be a painful experience. Especially in this oddly similar case of amnesia you both present." Hank explained, hoping that for once he would have a mutant patient within the X-men's care who would heed his words of rest. Though he was already having this nagging feeling that he would have no such luck based on intuition alone. "My suggestion of jello is wise if you do not feel you could handle something more solid. It is very good jello." He smirked, figuring jello had been mentioned enough that he was now even craving the jiggly gelatinous goodness. "Though we could always find something else, I have been surviving on coffee most of the night myself."
However the humorous topic of food seemed to turn into the markings which somewhat horrified the good doctor. To think of some sick twisted invention of that level was even implemented these days... Or where it could have been created as what Rachel described... they were far too advanced for most Anti-Mutant organizations that he knew of personally. He looked to Jean after Rachel finished.
::I would rather not explore your theory on the temporal disruptions just yet, as I do not have even the slightest amount of equipment to even test for such a thing here... but, the only possibilities I am thinking of at the moment for such technological abilities with a hatred towards mutants would be Genoshan or perhaps a remaining Purifier sect, if not both.:: He thought out to her, not exactly possessing the repertoire that Phoenix had with Cyclops, his mind had hardly ever been shut off to her ever since they had first met all those years ago.
Hank looked back to Rachel. "We will help you figure that out Rachel, we will help both of you." He added with a glance to Franklin.
The blue doctor was then caught off guard as the girl possibly skimmed his thoughts on the DNA testing Jean had asked him to do last night. Thankfully Avery had been there to fill in the answer he would have given the young red head. Though now he wished he would have just spoken out right to Jean than make it seem like he was trying to hide information if the girl had looked into that as well. "A DNA test would just be a cotton swab to the inside of your cheek, no blood or anything would be needed. I have a wide collection of recorded DNA on my computers, Rachel. With a sample from you I could potentially see if we have any of your relatives in there to help get a better idea of who you are. Or at the minimum, begin establishing a medical history for you. It is no different than what I went through with Mr. Richards here a month ago if you wish to ask him about it. As Nurse Doyle said... I will not force you to do anything you do not want to do, my code name may be Beast, but I am hardly anything monstrous to my patients, students or friends." He looked at her with his sincere baby blue eyes. "However the sooner we can get something like that done, the sooner we may have a better idea of who you are and how to help you, even if it is only the slightest increase in our chances to figure that out."
He exhaled for a moment before taking a drink from his coffee mug. "However we could perhaps all enjoy a meal of some sort, after all it is lunch time I believe. Give you sometime to think and not feel rushed into anything."
Jean - April 16, 2012 12:11 AM (GMT)
JP Franklin, Jean, and Rachel
As he roused himself, Franklin heard Rachel explaining about the Hound marks, and though he hadn't known what they were before, he knew now, in that weird way that he knew his name, that he knew hers, that he knew what she wanted when she came for him. "
Hey," he said, as he stood up, one leg all pins and needly from where he'd been so awkwardly sleeping with it tucked up under the other. "It's ok, Rach," he said, the nickname slipping out as easily as if he had always called her that, as if wherever they were from they'd gotten lost together. "This is all really crazy, I know, I mean you should have seen the outfit I had on when they found me."
He looked at Jean, it had been her brother in law to sent him here, and she and Scott knew the whole story as much as any of them, "They're mutant killers, the people who program the Hounds. I don't know who they are, or how they do it, but they take mutants and they change them. You must've seen them before, I mean, it's not secret." He put his hand to his head as a wave of pain threatened him, and he hissed between his teeth, "This is stupid, this is so stupid. Keeping memories from myself is bad enough, I don't know, cowardly and confusing, but whatever this is, it's affecting other people, too. Rachel... God, I hate not having any answers." A faint blue shimmer filtered the air around him, but Franklin pushed it back, not willing to unleash powers he barely understood in a tantrum... But boy, was it tempting.
Jean's confused frown slowly turned into a scowl as Franklin pick-up the Hound explanation. "Mutants aren't accepted with open arms anywhere, we make people too nervous but," she turned and looked at the marks that decorated Rachel's face. She reached out and touched Rachel's face, sliding her thumb over one of the strips. It wasn't a branding on the skin or paint, it was part of the girl's skin. "I don't know anywhere where we're... changed and sent to kill others of our kind. Maybe Genosha. We've heard stories about that place."
She ignored Rachel's question about the DNA test, relieved that Avery and Hank had fielded it with such nonchalance.
"It sounds like Hell. Are you sure the name Genosha doesn't strike any bells?" Jean looked from one to the other.
She watched with sudden concern as Franklin had some brief sort of spell. Even if the signs of it were slight she felt a pulling towards him on a higher level. The doctors’ kind words and explanations left the room in that moment. She knew that, for now, she’d be safe here. There was a odd and vague familiarity with these people, one that was comforting but disconcerting all the same. She made a brief move to step around the bed towards Richards but stopped short when Jean began again. With Franklin seemingly recovered she turned back to Jean as she spoke.
Her grim tone was at least indicative of their mutual disdain for the practice, but the Hounds were everywhere, weren’t they? These people must have been really far out of the way to not have heard of them.
Despite seeing it coming she nearly winced when Jean moved to examine the marks. She’d been so used to them burning and throbbing, crushing her mind with whatever poisonous method they functioned. To see them there and not feel anything was strange. To be in her right mind with them was even stranger.
“Something vague and far off.” She said in reply to questions of a Genosha. “I need to go back where I came from. If those tribesmen saw me arrive maybe they can give me answers.”
"Genosha..." Franklin shook his head, "It's like everything else, scattered images and words that don't make sense. Look, do you guys really think you can find who she belongs to by DNA testing? Did you guys test me? Did you find anything? We're clearly collected, the two of us, even though I have no idea how." He shook his head at Rachel, "Those tribesmen? If they saw you, what can they tell you? I mean, I showed up in Central Park, where someone could find me and take care of me before I did something horrible." Lowering his eyes to his hands, he said, "It can't be co-incidence that you showed up somewhere where you could find me and get help. So who's sending us? Why?" He clenched his fists and said, "I want to pull the answers out of the thin air, make this all make sense... There has to be a reason, right?"
Jean put her hands firmly on Franklin's shoulders, as if she could slow down the questions whirling in his head. "Slow-down, cowboy. You've got some good questions and brought up some good points but getting frustrated isn't going to make the answers appear any quicker." She let her hands fall. "We didn't test you," she told him. "We get a lot of new mutants here and the trauma of mutations breaking through can cause memory problems, in the short term. Now that we know it's something more than that, we'll test you too. Believe me, I sorely do want to find this place where mutants are treated like animals... worse than animals, and make them regret doing that to anyone." Anger lit Jean's face with a righteous fury. After a moment, she banked the fire, saving in for when she had a good target.
"Rachel, I think he's right about not going back to the tribe. It's likely random chance that you arrival on their doorstep."
"If you truly want to remember, I can try some in-depth therapy sessions. Minds are very complex; I've only searched the surface of your thoughts, so far. That pain you're feeling, it could be natural trauma, you're own self-defense mechanism to protect yourself from painful memories, in which case time would be the best healer. It could be a side-effect of the process that brought you here. And again, time might be the best healer. On the other hand, it could be induced by someone, using pain to keep you from looking too deeply." Her green eyes when from one to the other and back. "I'm inclined to think it's the last," she finally said and watched their reactions.
"Wherever the Hounds are involved, you can count on it being something bad. Franklin's right. They're mutant-killers, and I may not remember much but I know that I've never met one that wasn't a mutant." She clenched her own fist. These people, who and where ever they were, had taken her mind and bashed it against the rocks. They'd pay. They'd pay and she'd make sure of it. It was at that point Rachel remembered that she wasn't the only one in the room who could pry through thoughts, and she quickly made motions to shelve that anger. "So what? I just sit here and hope you people can cook up an answer from a wet cotton ball? I'm sorry, Jean, but I don't like sitting on my hands when I could be figuring things out."
She looked over to Franklin, and, despite everyone else present, despite being wrapped in the loose medical gown, his presence made her feel suddenly exposed, and she had to fight back from a bit of frivolous insecurity. "First I'd really like some pants that aren't torn to hell and caked in mud. A shirt too."
"Why would someone want to keep us from remembering?" Franklin frowned, "Who are we to get such messed up treatment? For all my kidding about my powers making me a god, I don't know that I'm really anything special." He looked at Rachel and said, "I don't know that I'm really anything at all... except I hope I'm a good person, and I hope that what you said when you were under their control was wrong. I hope that my death isn't essential for the survival of the world. I hope I don't have to die in order for everyone else to live." He gave an embarrassed smile. "My initials aren't JC after all." His eyes sort of went unfocused for a moment and then as Rachel started talking about her clothes, a red blush crept up his cheeks as he realized he was staring. "Oh.. Oh right! Clothes," he said, looking away quick, "Yeah... yeah getting dressed is a good thing. Then we can get some food, yeah?"
Jean felt the heat of Rachel's thoughts and raised one eyebrow. "Are you so very eager to rush headlong back to a life of slavery... or death. I saw into your mind; you were changed when you were a child and couldn't protect yourself," she tilted her head to one side. "But from what I've seen last night, you might not have any better chance now. Your abilities are powerful but they're a sledgehammer - no finesse. Probably as a ... Hound," her mouth turned down at the word, as though she'd bitten into something bitter, "you were one among many, power was all you needed. How many other Hounds will it take to kill you? Three? Four? A dozen? You don't want to sit on your hands and wait? That's fine, then do something useful - train. Use your head; running around aimlessly will only get you dizzy and tired." She had unconsciously shifted into teacher-mode as she harangued the girl, her hands bunching into fists planted on her hips.
"The spare training jerseys are in there," she said with a softer tone and pointed to a side door. "Call out if you're having trouble finding something in your size." She gave Franklin a look that said, 'You want to wait in the hall now, yes?'
She caught a few meandering notions from Franklin and she too fought back a blossoming of red at her cheeks, avoiding eye contact and then looking to Jean as she spoke up, hands at her hips. Something in that woman's voice was so familiar, so... something. Her lecture seemed pointed but it was all true enough. Right now she was angry, at her situation just as much as she was angry with not knowing how she'd arrived at it. She tried to push back those angry notions of vengeance and single-handed repudiation of the crimes against her, but it was difficult, and so she simply would have to find something else to focus on.
Rachel moved then to the door Jean had pointed at and started going through things, shelves of gray and black and navy blues. She took the gray, and shutting the door, emerged a few moments later in grey sweats and a jersey shirt. They were baggy, maybe, but she hadn't looked overly hard. Anything was better than the drafty, paper-thing gown she carried bundled under her arm.
She looked to McCoy. "Jello's great and all, but I think I could tough through something else, to be honest." She might regret it later, but this place made her nervous, and the sooner she could get out into something more open the better.
Franklin caught the hint and he said, "I'll be waiting outside if you all want to head to the cafeteria. I think it's taco day." He smiled and with a little bit of a hobble because of his battered and bruised legs, he slipped outside to wait for their arrival.
And, sure enough, when the group emerged from the infirmary, there he was, waiting as patiently as if he would always be there. He offered his arm to Rachel and said, "Shall we? You haven't lived until you've had triceratops with chili verde sauce."