Chapter 9 Blood Rain

Henri LeBeau put the samples into the incinerator after dousing them with alcohol. After a quick glance the papers followed, then, the computer disks, then the hard-drives. One down, three hundred to go, he thought to himself. Julien was interrogating the head of the lab. Three of the techs were missing and they needed to find them.

The thief cracked open another computer and took out the drive. The fire flared with blue and green sparks of impurities. Another computer. More papers. Oh, financial information, that might come in handy. Henri set it aside. His bald pate was hidden by a hood of black, but he could feel the sweat seeping into the fabric.

The small team of thieves added more computers and disks to the pile as the assassins swept the building from top to bottom in search of anyone they had missed. Henri checked the timer. They had two hours left. He worked more quickly. The flames grabbed more and more papers. The disks melted. The hard-drives surrendered.

*****

Julien Boudreaux left the destruction of the documents to the thieves. They were used to stealing files and such. He had prey to worry about. The head of security was already dead, as were his guards. The head of the lab was refusing to talk. Julien ran his knife down the side of the man's face. Blood streamed into what was left of the man's white hair.

He was still under the mistaken impression that he would live through this situation. That would give him some reason to talk. Julien left a ragged cut in the man's arm. The red blood blossomed against the crisp white fabric of his coat. His plastic badge flopped against the grey tiles as he struggled. Julien's knife flashed in the florescent light. Dark vein blood seeped on to the floor from the man's leg. "Tell me where they are."

"I don't know." The man's breaths came in frantic gasps.

"Then I don't need you." One more slash laid open the vein in the man's neck.

"We have them," the speaker in the assassin's ear told him. He acknowledged the report and turned to the cowering scientists. He calmly shot each of them in the head. The floor was soaked red. Julien stepped into the hall and took off the disposable blue shoe covers. He let Henri incinerate the evidence.

*****

"You and you, get me all the surveillance videos. Trash the equipment." The two apprentices hurried off. They were one step away from initiation into the Guild.

"The charges are set. The next person to come in will blow the place. We'll prime it as we leave. We've found the techs. How much longer?"

"One hour by my count. These are all the disks. We've even tossed the bookshelves for spares."

"Their homes?"

"Next on the list. We don't want to tip off any spouses."

*****

"75 Killed in CDC Tragedy." Bobby Drake frowned. He took the paper to Scott's office.

"What is it, Bobby?"

"Have you seen the papers? They're claiming terrorists are attacking vaccine programs. Isn't this the lab that intel you have implicates?"

"Let me see that." The X-men's field leader chewed on the top of a pen. "Yes, this is the place. They were working on anti-mutant biological warfare. It doesn't mention mutants once. Amazing. I wonder what else they were working on?"

"You don't think Mystique was involved in this?"

"No, the Brotherhood always claims their work." Scott frowned. "Thanks, Bobby. I haven't gotten to see the paper in almost a week."

"Records or red tape?"

"Both. I've been meeting with the new kids to see what they need. Doing two jobs is going to kill me. Buy Tylenol stock."

"I've been investing in pharmaceuticals for years. Anything you want me to keep an eye out for?"

"Anything having to do with new mutant policies. And anything having to do with the military. Warren's watching the business pages?"

"He's got a senior seminar in business to help him."

"True. Have you heard from Hank?"

"He's not coming back. He hasn't said it yet, but I can tell. He enjoys being someplace where he isn't as much of a celebrity. He's worried about getting his visa renewed."

"You going to be okay with that?"

"I'll deal with it. If Betsy can handle being trapped out of her country and away from her twin brother, I think I can handle my best friend traveling."

"If you need to talk, I'm always here. Just follow the cursing."

"But Logan doesn't like me." Scott laughed.

"I mean it, Bobby. I miss him too."

"Thanks, Fearless. Where's Jean?" Scott stared at the wall for a moment.

"With the Art Class in the Conservatory."

"Thanks."

"Why?"

"She's supposed to be posing nude. Bye!"

"Bobby! Robert Drake!" Scott chased the Iceman through the hall. "Use a slide and I'll blast it!"

"What's the rush, Slim?"

"Art class!" Warren called from the top of the stairs to Logan. "Jean's posing nude."

"No shit." Logan followed the men at a more sedate pace. By the time they reached the Conservatory Scott had Bobby in a headlock with a hand over his eyes. Jean was actually posing for the advanced class. She sat on a low chaise lounge with a satin sheet draped across her stomach, not covering much at all. She was choking on her laughter and trying not to move.

Annie Sheradon, art teacher, flame-throwing mutant, and head of this particular section of the academy put on her toughest face. "What exactly is going on here?" she demanded.

"Scott's trying to smother my enthusiasm for fine art!"

"Scott's keeping the man who got the entire class thrown out of the Met for ogling the Rubens from getting another fit."

"If I remember correctly it was Scott who got us thrown out by over-riding the security system in the mummy room," Warren pointed out.

"That was a different year," Jean chimed in.

"Out! All of you! Out!" Annie ordered as she snickered. Logan took a long, leisurely look at Jean, before giving Summers a hand with the popsicle. Warren licked his lips.

"You are a lucky man, Slim."

"No! No! You can't throw me out yet!" Bobby protested. Scott let him catch a quick glimpse. Bobby went still. "Oh, my God! I didn't I whoa. She grew up."

"Most of us did," Warren commented. "Annie, I'll pay you to take pictures."

"Warren Worthington!" Jean snapped.

"Of Scott carrying Bobby out of here," Warren added quickly.

"Get out before I put a lock on that door." Warren heard Jubilee's voice as he shut the door.

"Ms. Jeannie, how did you managed not to kill them?" Laughter followed him down the hall.

*****

"Mama! Did ya read tha paper?"

"Yes, Rogue."

"Who did it?"

"I have my theories. Victor, Darling, do kill it before you eat it," she said pointing at the mouse Creed was dangling by its tail. He dropped it into his mouth and bit down once. There was an overloud crunch as the bones snapped between his teeth. Rogue made a face. Maurice folded his wings in tighter and edged away from the overgrown predator. Lena rolled her eyes at Sammy who was currently changing several shades of green and mottled purple. Paula sighed and glanced at Destiny who was sipping her coffee and smiling her smug little smile.

"So? Who do yah think did it? And that is gross, Tooth. Really gross. Some of us cook our food ta get rid of tha germs."

"Healing factor, Kid."

"Right. So, Mama?"

"I don't want to say anything until I get some confirmation. I'll be away for a few days. Stay out of trouble, children," Mystique ordered with a smile.

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