Chapter 1: Beyond The Gate
It was one of those rare moments where acting on instinct proved to be a far worse response than if he had simply stayed out of it. Heart racing, head pounding, Ed had only wanted to get Ling out of danger. What he hadn’t expected, was to take his place. Gluttony moved faster than he ever gave him credit for. His disturbing gigantic maw spreading wide, littered with jagged teeth and in a burst of light and sound, his world vanished around him, dragging him into a manic vortex, before spitting him out roughly the other side.
It happened in a blink.
Ed had a momentary glimpse of an unfamiliar bustling city, a bridge, bright lights and advanced vehicles moving at ridiculous speeds in the hundreds, before impacting with solid asphalt amidst the chaos. His already weary body rolled and bounced upon the unforgiving ground before coming to a jarring stop. He tasted blood in his mouth, felt as if several bones had at the very least fractured and that barely registered before the teenager realised the insanity he had fallen into.
Cars swerved around him, horns blaring loudly and shouting out in fright, Ed reacted instinctively and transmuted. From the earth a wall exploded, just about saving him from the biggest damn truck he had ever seen and all around him the metal beasts came to a halt with an audible screech.
Panting heavily, lip and temple leaking blood, Ed jumped at a high pitched wail of a sound and a flash of blue and red. Spinning around, his golden eyes drank in the sight of six people in a uniform he didn’t recognise pushing passed gawking civilians. Each one had a gun on him and from their expressions, he had no doubt they meant to shoot should he twitch wrong. What he didn’t understand was the terror he saw there too. Gazes flitting back and forth from his transmuted wall as if they had never seen alchemy before!
“Kid! On the ground NOW!”
“W-What?” Ed stammered in confusion. “Now...hold on—”
“We don’t wanna hurt you, kid!” Another called out. “Get down!”
Flashes snapped from several odd rectangular devices the civilians were holding, disorientating the teen and when a huge flying metal contraption appeared over head, Ed let a startled shout, stumbling back against his transmuted wall. The uniformed men were still shouting at him to get down, to put his hands on his head and keep still, but Ed was busy watching in horror as the flying machine’s doors slid opened, revealing another armed with a weapon, the huge propellers throwing up dust and debris, blinding him more than the constant lights.
“What the hell?!” Ed ground out, using his automail arm to guard his eyes. “Damn it!”
They were pressing in. Shouts rose in a crescendo and the same two words filled Ed’s ears several times. Mutant freak. What in the name of Truth was a mutant?! Gold eyes taking it all in, Ed saw nothing he knew. No Ling...No Alphonse and since reasoning with this madness was not a possibility, he knew he had one option. To get the hell out of there! Moving faster than the surrounding horde could track, Ed struck his hands together and transmuted. Blue lightening strikes surrounded him and the earth moved again, lifting Ed above them all, until he could reach the top of the bridge and make his escape.
Immediately the idiot in the floating tin can opened fire. Hissing curses, Ed dodged and rolled over the cold limestone and granite under foot to avoid being made Swiss cheese. Transmuting again, he erected more walls as a shield. He had no intention of striking back. He would win easily. Any form of offensive would only knock them from the sky and he was no murderer.
Racing across the stone tower, Ed took a leap and just barely landed upon one of the steel cables. It jerked beneath him, but he kept his footing. The flying machine pursued him, more bullets at his back. Swearing colourfully, Ed looked down and realised he had only one option. Bleeding, exhausted, the teenager sprang forward and jumped.
Screams, the rushing wind and his own strangled profanities filled his ears as he dropped. Ed hit the water with a vicious slap and had to wonder if he had just chosen a watery grave. His automail dragged him down faster than normal limbs would have, sinking him like a stone, while water shoved against him. Heart beating frantically, Ed fought against the push and pull of the river and brought his hands together. He had one shot, no way would the reaper take him easily.
Music played, children laughed and Logan stood with Scott over a large grill, the pair bickering lowly over the best way to cook the burgers. Jean helped Ororo set out plates and cutlery, Rogue throwing together her famous potato salad, all while Remy whooped and danced with the youngest of the Xavier institute.
It was turning out to be a great night.
The celebration was for nothing in particular, accept maybe boosting morale and shielding the younger of the students from a recent rush of mutant discrimination and attacks. The whole thing was Remy’s idea and it was proving a success.
“Come on Wolvie!” Remy crowed, calling out to his lover as he spun in a circle. “Come dance, cher!”
“Leave me be ya Cajun menace!” Logan growled back. “This is a delicate operation! Making sure Summers here doesn’t mangle the food!”
Barking a laugh, Remy whirled and grabbed a passing Jubilee. The teenager gave a startled squeal before catching on and joining him in the steps, her laughter mingling in with the rest. The children laughed in merriment, enjoying Remy’s playful banter, until the Cajun could take no more.
“Mon dieu! Alright petits, Remy gotta sit down bef’r he fall down!” Chuckling, shooing away complaints, he grabbed a soda from an ice bucket and plopped down on the grass next to a sprawled Kurt. “Hey Kurt...Y’ dead?”
Kurt gave a snort. “Nope. Pretty sure I was breathing last I checked.” Opening his eyes, yellow orbs lifted, settling on Remy’s face. “Looking a little flushed there, Remy. Age catching up?”
“Oh ha ha, laugh it up, cher,” Remy replied dryly. “Ain’t dat old.”
“Just older than the kinder,” Kurt continued to tease.
It was nice not to see him subdued. Only a month previous he had been injured during a raid on a mutant shelter. A couple of fanatics of the FOH had taken it upon themselves to light it on fire, after trapping the poor souls inside. In the middle of the rescue, one of the so called friends of humanity jumped Kurt and got in several blows with a baseball bat before Remy had gotten to him. Three fractured ribs and bad bruising had been the end result. As well as Kurt introverting himself once he learned five lives had been lost while he was out of commission. Remy knew he blamed himself and though he and the others had said all they could to convince him otherwise, the rest was up to Kurt.
“How are y’ feelin’, Blue?”
Remy saw the flinch. He knew Kurt didn’t want to talk emotions or what had happened with the FOH, but where he could, he prodded gently in an effort to get Kurt to open up. It wasn’t like the German to be so closed off and though he was gradually improving, it was still a worry.
//X-Men! Come at once!//
The sudden mental shout from their leader was enough to douse any jubilation among the X-Men. With a skill born of practice, some made their way indoors, while the rest remained with the younger students, all while concealing any problems.
Kurt took over at grill alongside a chuckling Hank, while Kitty and Jean entertained the children, none of them any the wiser.
Remy, Logan, Scott, Rogue and Ororo found Xavier in his study, tense with worry. His dark brown eyes were latched to the large television behind his desk and why he had summoned them was immediately apparent.
On screen was the Brooklyn Bridge and it was nothing short of insanity. A news crew had caught the mayhem on camera only an hour previous, the mess playing over and over on every news channel since. Ignoring the discriminative commentary backing the report, the X-Men watched in horror as the scene played out. At first all they saw were the usual lanes of traffic, but then, an explosion of light momentarily blanked out the bridge and the next they saw was a badly injured boy appearing out of nowhere, using powers to create barriers and a means of escape from armed police until they eventually cornered him and he jumped into the frigid water below.
“Oh my God!” Ororo gasped, hand flying to her mouth and eyes wide.
Xavier turned off the report and turned to face his eldest students, fingers steepled. “As you can clearly see, we have a situation. A mutant boy with dangerous powers and Police clearly not hesitating to shoot.”
“Mon dieu! Y’ want us t’ find him?” Remy spluttered. “Is it even possible de boy survived? He was injured bef’r he ever took a dive off de bridge!”
“Yes, Remy. I need you to locate him.” Xavier stated calmly. “You saw what he did...It is highly possible he survived and if he did, he needs help. We must find him before the Police do...or worse, the FOH.”
“What about Cerebro?” Logan asked gruffly.
“I already tried...” Xavier frowned. “I could find energy pulses along the Brooklyn Bridge, but nothing to pinpoint the boy like I would another mutant. It’s not the first time I couldn’t track someone. Sometimes their powers interfere with my own.”
“So that means finding him the old fashioned way,” Scott said, looking pointedly at Logan.
Logan grunted, arms folded. “It won’t be so easy, Slim...Gonna need something of his to find him. Meaning, we’ll need to get all over that bullshit on the Brooklyn Bridge.”
“An’ we’ll need t’ be conspicuous about it,” Remy added. “Since all dis nonsense wit’ de FOH, not even de Cops be playin’ fair. Dey ain’t gonna go out of deir way t’ help us.”
Making it a rather covert operation whether they wanted it that way or not.
To avoid cornering the boy any more than he had been, Scott determined that he, Logan and Remy would be enough to go and locate the teenager. What they would find when that happened, none of them knew, but they were all in agreement, neither the Police or the FOH would lay a further hand on the boy if any of them could damn well help it.
Transmuting was never easy, not even for the tremendously skilled. Transmuting while hurt, under extreme pressure and being somewhat crushed by several metres of water was nothing short of a huge pain in the ass. Ed had used the water to his advantage, transmuting it to ice until he could get ashore, as far away as he could manage, from the prying eyes of those still on the bridge.
Shrouded in darkness and hacking up filthy water from his lungs, the teenager shook and forcefully got a hold of himself.
Falling apart in a place he didn’t recognise, with armed idiots hell bent on punching holes in him was never the best idea and in all honesty he didn’t want to give Mustang another damn reason to yell at him.
Doing a mental inventory of his body, Ed found everything to be in working order, even if most of it hurt like a bitch. Spitting up a wad of blood, the teenager got his sorry self vertical and once he was sure he wasn’t about to face plant it in the muck, he took a gander at his surroundings. In the distance he could make out the city. The buildings were numerous and spread wide, reaching a height that was nearly not plausible and Ed could easily hear busy traffic among other things. To his right, barely noticeable, was a port of sorts. He could just about make out the odd boat and from the odd light, people were about.
Since he was probably wanted for his little stunt on the bridge, the teenager figured giving them a wide berth would be the best course of action for now.
Trudging up the muddy incline, Ed hissed and cursed. His body was one big bruise and blood was leaking from numerous scratches as well as a nasty enough gash just over his right eye, that might very well need stitches. But he was alive and that was the main thing. The next was finding out where in the name of Truth he had ended up.
Ground levelling out, Ed just kept on walking. There was no destination in mind, only the desire to avoid any more painful experiences and maybe find somewhere to lay down for a couple of hours. Weariness had begun dragging at his limbs and using so much alchemy had drained a horrific chunk of his energy reserves.
So, soft surface or not, Ed was about to drop regardless.
It didn’t take long to reach the outskirts of the city. A cat darted across Ed’s path, startling the sleepy teenager and down several allies, he took note of hunched figures. They seemed harmless enough, but then again, so did he. Eyes lifted, following his dragging footsteps and when an awareness born of experience started nudging at his peripheral, Ed knew he was being followed.
Picking up his steps, the teenager looked for anywhere to hide in. He was exhausted and using too much more alchemy could very well cast a nasty rebound. He was bad enough already with two automail limbs!
“That’s him! The kid from the bridge!”
Shit! He had been spotted. Tossing a quick glance back, Ed broke into a run and moved as if his life depended on it. Again slurs were thrown at him and several times he heard that odd term ‘mutant’. He was beginning to wonder had he ended up somewhere similar to Ishval and if the word mutant was an insult against alchemists.
Booting it down a side alley, dodging mouldy crates, Ed skidded to a stop, golden eyes wide when he found nothing but a dead end. Loud footsteps told him he wasn’t alone and too tired to use an array, he realised he was trapped.
Chapter 2: Behind Enemy Lines
“Nowhere to go, ya freak.”
“We got him now!”
“Your ass is ours mutant scum!”
Ed spun to face them. His vision was wavering, exhaustion catching up. But damn it, he wasn’t going down without a fight. “I don’t want any trouble.” He tried in a placating tone.
Laughing, the largest of the group cracked his knuckles. “Too bad, you got it anyway.”
Shit! Shit! Not good. He had no choice but to fight his way out. A quick assessment told him he had four between him and escape. The odds were a bitch, but then hey, he had had worse. Ed waited for big and dumb number one to throw a punch before he moved. The jab was sloppy. Even with his head muddled, Ed managed to avoid it and came back at the fool with a spinning roundhouse kick. It wasn’t his metal foot, but even with his right, he hit his attacker with enough force to send him sprawling. Ed had barely centred himself when the second was barrelling toward him.
“FUCKER!” He howled.
Rolling his eyes, Ed evaded another messy strike. One sharp uppercut put the bastard out of commission and he was barely down when the third blind sided the teenager. The sharp punch to the jaw knocked Ed flat. With a fresh cut across his right cheek bone blooming with pain, head throbbing, he tried his best to shake it off, but they didn’t give him much of a chance to do that.
Ed was forced onto his belly, his face pushed into the cold wet ground. Vision blinking in and out dangerously, he didn’t think he could stay awake much longer. But a moment later, it didn’t matter.
A growl permeated the air, startling the last two conscious meatheads enough that they backed away from Ed, letting him go. Scrambling to his feet, he looked around them and...well...he wasn’t sure what his eyes were even seeing. Three men, two quite tall and one probably the same height as Ed stepped into the meagre light offered up by the anaemic street lamps. They were all dressed in odd gear, while one wore an odd red visor and the other a pair of sunshades.
The growling he heard was coming from the smallest of the trio and the sight of sharp canines had Ed instantly thinking—Chimaera.
“Now, now...Is dat any way t’ treat an enfant?” The tallest of the three enquired, his question laced with mocking.
“This ain’t got nothing to do with you shades!” Snapped one of Ed’s would be assailants. “The cops want him and we’re just doing our civic duty.”
“Sure ya are, bub.” Sneered the smallest. “That’s why he’s covered in blood and bruises.”
Having run out of patience, the last of the dumb brood lunged forward. Like the others there was no coordination in his attack and the three good Samaritans clearly were no amateurs. Ed leant against the wall for support, gold eyes widening as he watched the last of his pursuers be dispatched with skilled ease, the three men moving with the grace of ones trained for years. Head swimming, Ed stumbled. The last he saw was the tallest of his saviours running toward him just before everything went dark.
Dropping the last ass hat, Remy made quick steps to the injured teenager and caught him before he hit the ground. The weight of the kid almost had him falling on his ass, which was a surprise since he had to be half his size. “Easy kiddo, Remy got y’.” There was no reply, the boy was out cold, bleeding from several places and in short...beat to shit! “Merde! Blasted connards did a number on y’ petit.”
“Remy!” Scott called out, striding toward him once the teenager’s attackers were detained. “How’s it looking?”
“Not good, Scotty,” Remy replied honestly. “He’s in po’ shape. Lotta blood on him an’ I can’t tell if it’s leaking from anyt’in major.”
“Best to get him back to the institute pronto,” Logan growled out. “Hank will be able to deal with his injuries better than we can.”
Remy nodded in agreement, his hidden eyes looking down at the boy’s bruised face. Beneath the mess, he looked so tired and downtrodden and an energy flowed through him, that Remy’s own spark was sort of glancing against. Whatever his story was, the Cajun suspected it was a hell of a tale.
Wordlessly, Remy traded off the unconscious teen to Scott and went to retrieve their transport before any authorities could show up and create a further scene. Like Remy, Scott grunted in surprise at the boy’s weight, but managed to keep upright. The last thing the kid needed was to hit the cold pavement.
Bad enough he was already in the state he was thanks to idiots and their prejudice.
Once Remy returned with the reinforced X-Van, they loaded up the kid, while doing their damnedest not to jar his wounds any further. They had just floored it out of the dank alley when the first cries of sirens filled the air.
Hank paced a hole in the floor, Jean watching the blue furred mutant as he did so. The infirmary had been prepped. ETA was ten minutes and even with his vast knowledge, the nerves still wiggled about his system. Over the years Hank had lost more than his fair share of mutant life to bigoted fools and their guns. The fear of adding another to his long list, was a hard emotion to shake.
“Hank,” Jean said gently on his twentieth time walking up and down, “you need to relax. The boy is in good hands.”
He knew that. Logically Hank knew that, but it rarely helped and a moment later, it didn’t matter. They heard the screech of tires from the medical bay. A team well trained, Jean and Hank leaped into action and grabbed the readied gurney sprinting out to meet Logan, Scott and Remy.
Hank’s heart stuttered at the sight of the mutant boy. Honestly, it would’ve taken less time to say what the kid hadn’t hurt! Blood covered almost every inch of the youth and where skin was visible, it was either filthy with grime or decorated with a rainbow of bruising. With a gesture, he had Scott lay the boy down and they were moving, leaving the three behind, their job done.
Transferring the teenager from the gurney to the bed for examination, Hank and Jean swiftly got to work. Jean reached for scissors and cut through his clothing. There was so much blood, so much bright sticky red, that they didn’t want to tug the clothing off in case they worsened his condition. Bit by bit the fabric came away and what Jean found had her gasping.
“What? What is it?” Hank demanded, but a moment later, he saw for himself, exclaiming. “Great Caesar’s Ghost!”
Old scars littered the boy’s body, but none were as shocking as the horrific ones just above his left knee and surrounding his right shoulder, where flesh gave way to solid metal. Hank had never seen anything like it in his life! He had seen the boy on the evening news springing about, running and doing several actions that should be impossible for someone with two heavily armoured prosthetics...Or at the very least...difficult and yet, he had moved with such fluid skill the large mutant was almost envious.
“What could have caused injuries like this?” Jean breathed, hand hovering over her mouth. “I...I can’t even get into his mind!”
“Not unheard of with energy based powers,” Hank pointed out. “Often it creates a natural shield.”
Shock abating, the two started treatment. Three deep lacerations were the sources of the bleeding and were thankfully easily dealt with, with stitches and gauze. Profound contusions littered a serious chunk of his body, but nothing that wouldn’t heal over time and the worst of it appeared to be the four fractured ribs. After that, there were numerous scratches, exhaustion and dehydration. All in all, it took a couple of hours before he was moved to recovery, an IV of fluids and O neg pumping him full of the good stuff, helping his healing a long.
“The rest is up to him,” Jean said softly, once she connected him to a monitor to watch his vitals. Reaching out, she ran a hand gently through the thick gold strands about his face. “Poor boy.”
Hank had nothing to say to that. It was a sad fact, but as long as humanity feared change, or those who were different, then incidents like this would continue to happen. It was just one of the better days that they were able to help and they would do their best to make sure the child would never suffer so needlessly again.
Waking was a mix of disorientated and painful. Parts of his body throbbed dully, his head pounding and when Ed tried to squirm his way back to awareness, it was as if he had to fight through a thick veil to do it. For a bit, he let himself float between awake and asleep. It was hard to keep time. He didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, but his instincts at least told him, wherever he was, he was safe. Drifting, Ed let slumber sweep him away.
The next time he woke, it was to voices and low laughter.
Mindful not to draw attention, Ed glanced about. Complicated machines he didn’t recognise stood by his bedside, a pattern shifting across a flat screen, along with numbers that went up and down minutely every few seconds. From the back of his left hand, he copped a thin tube leading to a bag of fluids sat on a hook and realised whatever it was, it was being pumped into him through a vein.
Panicked, Ed sat up abruptly, a cry of pain escaping him. He just about stopped himself from howling louder, but it didn’t matter. He had drawn attention anyway. The door, that looked as if it lead to a small break room, opened and two of the men who had come to his rescue burst in. Startled, Ed scrambled back, yelping when the odd tubing in his hand pulled painfully.
“Whoa! Easy dere, cher,” the taller man placated, striding toward the teenager, hands up in a calming gesture. “Neither Logan here, or me are gonna hurt y’. M’ name be Remy Etienne LeBeau an’ y’r completely safe wit’ us, I promise y’.”
“Got a name, kid?” Logan growled out somewhat gently.
Ed’s golden eyes snapped between them both and the only other door left that might be his only bid for freedom. He moved before either man could stop him. The tube came free with a brief yank and ignoring the blood and his pain, the injuries the least of his troubles, Ed bolted.
He didn’t bother looking to say which of them cried out. All attention focused on his way out, Ed reached the door and ran like all hell was after him. He was inside an underground bunker of some sort. Stainless steel covered all the walls and the halls appeared endless. From behind him, Ed could hear he had pursuers, but the need to get out drove him forward. Until a large hand snapped out of nowhere, grabbing his automail arm. Ed yelped, jerked back and stared up in horror and what had grabbed him.
“Now where do you think you’re off to young man?”
The being was huge! Blue fur covering him, yellow eyes crinkled in concern...Ed had never seen anything like it...Not even a Chimaera! “Let go!” He shouted in terror.
Head whipping around, Ed saw Remy and Logan running toward them. Concern twisting both faces, but then, Ed looked a sight. His left hand was bleeding, he was covered in bandages and sweating with the stress of staying upright. But instinct ruled him and all he wanted was to get out of there.
“Let go!” He hissed again, tugging on the blue furred beast’s grip, a little stunned that he was strong enough to keep his automail pinned. “Let me GO!”
“We aren’t a threat to you,” Hank reassured. “But you required a lot of treatment and I need you to return to your bed, at least for the moment.”
Treatment? They had tended to his wounds? Too worried about getting away, Ed had barely paid attention. But now he noted the feeling of gauze and stitched flesh. Just how badly had he been hurt?!
In Hank’s grip he trembled so violently and the fear in the boy’s eyes was very real. None of them appeared to be having a calming affect on him, so that left him with only one other option. “Apologies, young man, but you’ve left me with no other choice.” He didn’t give the teenager a chance to respond. The needle spoke for him and a moment later, the boy sagged unconscious, the fight gone out of him in a blink. Pocketing the empty syringe, Hank got a better grip, sighing heavily. “Well, that could have gone better.” He remarked dryly.
“De boy just bolted like someone yelled fire!” Remy spluttered. “But he...Mon Dieu...Beast, de way he looked ‘bout at everyt’in...at Wolvie an’ me? Den calculating his chances t’ run f’r it? It was all done with military concentration.”
“Saw that too,” Logan grunted. “Kid accessed the whole situation in seconds, then moved in a way that only army brats can and the tech attached to him? No way that’s run of the mill hospital chrome. Saw it on the news and saw it there now...He moved those parts like he was born with them.”
“It’s possible his powers allow him the fluidity,” Hank suggested, “but I’m not so sure. I suppose we’ll simply have to ask him the next time he wakes.”
He just hoped the greeting went better the second time around.
The sedative wore off slower than most, the lacking of two limbs affecting the dosage length. By the time Ed came around, he knew he had been out for hours just by the echoing grumble in his stomach. Something in him felt off, as if a vital part had been covered with a blanket and tucked tight. A hasty glance of his surroundings, told him he wasn’t alone.
“Mornin’ dere petit,” Remy greeted with a bright grin the minute he saw the teenager was awake. “Just gonna get t’ de point. Door’s locked an’ dat piece of jewellery on y’r left wrist? Dat’s a power dampener. No point in y’ tearin’ up de place while we’re trying t’ get acquainted.”
Power dampener? What the hell was that?! Groggily, Ed lifted his left arm, golden eyes falling on the mentioned trinket. A pale blue light inside the bracelet pulsed on his wrist and he had a feeling it was the cause of how weird he felt. Dawning hit a moment later...Power dampener! Shit! That’s what was wrong! He could no longer feel the flow of energy required to transmute! And since he was too badly injured to rely on a physical fight, he was quite obviously trapped.
“Y’ got a name?” Remy asked after the long lapse.
Ed didn’t really want to answer, but since he was beat to shit and in an unfamiliar territory, it was best he cooperated. Whether he wanted to or not. “Edward.” He said finally. “Edward Elric.”
Remy grinned. “A pleasure. Y’ remember m’ name?”
“Remy Etienne LeBeau,” Edward responded dully. Sitting up with a grunt, he rested back against the mountain of pillows someone piled behind him. “Where am I?”
“Y’r at de Xavier Institute in New York,” Remy told him. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but what the kid said next wasn’t it.
Eyes narrowing, Ed snorted, “There’s no such place.”