Ember, prologue (UNBOUND) 04/09/2010
- See -
Seven Years, Three Months, Fourteen Days, and Eleven Hours Ago
Wilson Fisk was a large man. His girth was easily three times that of the young woman behind him. His bald head shone in the artificial lights of the skyrise apartment overlooking New York. A heavy cane bore the brunt of his ponderous weight. He was smoking a cigar, blowing out the roiling heavy smoke with its spicy fragrance and nicotine odor, while staring out the pristine glass at the tiny, heltering, skeltering people below. He lifted one meaty hand and gestured for the girl to come closer.
She stepped forward until the glass showed back his shrewdly thoughtful expression, reflected in the glaring pane.
"There's something I want you to do," he said, enunciating his words clearly and distinctly. He blew out another ring of smoke to break against the glass. He waited for it to dissipate completely. "I want you to go and visit a business acquaintance of mine. Jean-Luc LeBeau."
He turned and she stepped closer to him. She was so much smaller than him, wearing fitted leathers to his tailored suit, with dark, golden red skin to his pasty white complexion, thick black hair swinging at her waist to his bald head. Her eyes drank him in, focused unerringly at his mouth.
"You will offer him information in exchange for a favor." Fisk placed the cigar in his mouth again and inhaled deeply before breathing out.
She waved a hand to break up the smoke.
He chuckled, then sobered. "Tell him you are the Kingpin's daughter. He'll listen."
"What is the information?" she said. A light thickness coated her voice.
"Worthington, Stark, and SHIELD have created a proposal to use their Cure on baseline humans of any age, in addition to all known mutants. It has no side effects," he told her. "Mutants are the new nuclear warheads, Maya." He shook a warning finger at her. "The nations won't stand for it."
She studied his mouth, his face.
"Soon every person and every newborn child will be 'inoculated,'" he said, his tongue curling in disgust around the word, "against mutation."
She caught her breath.
"In exchange for this information, he is to hide you until the cleansing period is complete." Fisk stumped forward heavily on his cane and placed the burdensome weight of his free hand upon her shoulder. "You will not be Cured!"
- Upon -
Six Years, Five Months, Seven Days, and Twenty-One Hours Ago
"Merde!" Remy's hand trembled on the thin slip of paper in his fist. "Fils du putain!"
Pyro stood up from the kitchen table behind him. "What is it, Remy?" he asked, worry and fear lacing through his tone and wrapping up in the anger, shock, betrayal, and cold, stark terror already pounding through Remy's blood.
The Cajun reached for the couch and nearly stumbled to sit down. He stared at the paper, reeling with the four printed words etched upon it.
Exile rescinded. Come home.
The implications slammed into his gut. It was true. The rumors were true.
Pyro's voice registered somewhere in the back of his head. "Remy? What's wrong? Remy?"
Remy dropped his face into his hands, crushing the paper against his forehead. "Non. Not dis. Anyt'in' but dis."
But it was this. They were really going to do it, wipe out an entire segment of the population like they were nothing more than animals. Shiro was gone. He could not warn him. Pyro was here, but what of Kitty? Pyro had found his little Shadowcat more than a month back, breaking into the same facility they were.
His blood ran cold.
"I'm recovering previously compromised data," she had said.
The school had been compromised. Cerebro's database was accessed.
Remy staggered to his feet, pausing to grip the side of the couch with whitening knuckles and pull himself together with a few even breaths. He narrowed his eyes on Pyro. His pyrokinetic friend had fallen silent, merely watching him with worry flaming in the depths of his eyes.
"Y're goin' t' die today, mon ami."
"What?" Pyro drew back a half step in horror.
"Y're goin' t' die, and I'm goin' t' kill y'."
- To -
Six Years and Three Days Ago
They would never get her Cured before she knew it. Every doctor knew that. Every nurse knew that. Every politician whose right it was to know knew that. The Director of the National Security Agency knew that. The Senior Director of SHIELD knew that. Everyone knew that.
An unassuming, petite nurse, always quiet in her duties, was chosen for the task. She approached a heavily locked down ward well away from the common hallways. She passed through four security checkpoints and four sets of catastrophe-proof metal doors. Finally, she stood in front of the fifth set of doors.
She wasn't ready.
But everybody knew that.
She came in quietly with the tray of food.
Burning dark eyes swiveled up to meet hers and the fiery light in them was enough to make the nurse catch her breath. The inmate sat in a small white chair, her chin lifted imperiously, brown hair rippling down her back. Faint freckles sprinkled across her nose.
- An -
Six Years Ago
A tiny child stood crying in the streets of New York, and no one gave it comfort.
- Ember -