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Dec 12, 2019 1:42 AM
a Nimire does things which revolt the sensibilities of moral men to thwart things which revolt the ethics of moral men
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There is a buzz around campus all morning.

The source of a buzz is a newspaper article. The newspaper article announces that the governmental bureau handling the Sentinels has used them to depose the rest of the government, who "have time and again refused to take seriously the mutant threat."

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Naomi reads the article.

Then she reads the article again.

Then she decides it is time to go visit her cousins in Canada.

Well - what is it, two weeks until the end of term? She can wait two weeks. The world isn't going to end in two weeks. Probably.

It's going to be a very antsy two weeks, though.

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It quickly develops that "taking the mutant threat seriously" involves hunting down mutants and murdering them where they stand. And the Sentinels have the ability to sense mutants, somehow, so they don't hurt any humans! As long as they don't get in the way.

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Two weeks—

—ten days—

—six days—

—two days—

—and she puts away her pen, hands in her last exam of the year, goes back to her residence hall, picks up her suitcase, and gets on a bus. Her cousins will be very surprised to see her, but she's not sticking around to find out how much worse it's going to get.

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Halfway to the border, there is a loud clanging noise of metal on metal, two ovals imprint themselves into the roof of the bus, and the vehicle comes to a stop with an ominous grinding sound.

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Ah, fuck. Should've gone two weeks ago. Should've gone last month.

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A man gets out of his seat and bolts for the door. The Sentinel peels the roof of the bus open and plucks him out, then crushes him messily, drops his mangled corpse to the floor of the bus, and jumps off the bus to go hunt down some other hapless unfortunate.

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There is a moment of stunned silence before people start screaming.

Naomi does not start screaming. Naomi is thinking things like well, at least it's not a matter of the Sentinels indiscriminately stopping all traffic to the border and I hope he hasn't bled on my suitcase and what are we going to do about the bus?

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The answer to the bus question doesn't get answered for a while, because most of the people involved are screaming instead of doing productive things, but it transpires that the bus has been rendered non-operational. The driver radios for help.

There is no blood on her suitcase; other people aren't so lucky.

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She could drag out a towel and sacrifice it to help the unlucky ones clean up, but she doesn't have that many towels to spare... on the other hand, if they're all going to be getting on the same replacement bus, she'd rather the ex-passenger not come along, in whole or in part. Out comes the towel.

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Not all of the blood is willing to come out. One of the unlucky passengers had a piece of brain land on her. She appears to be in shock.

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Yikes. Well, the towel can help with one of those problems. For the being in shock part, she's got nothing.

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She makes a faint whimpering noise when the towel scoops the brain off her. There's still a smear of grey fluid on her skirt.

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She manages to find a clean corner of towel with which to slightly decrease the amount of grey fluid, and then she is all out of ways to help with that.

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Eventually the bus company sends someone to tow the bus back to the nearest town and finds a hotel to put up the traumatized passengers in.

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Naomi attempts to rescue her towel in the sink of the hotel bathroom, with mixed success. Eventually she leaves it crumpled in the bathtub, rinses out the sink very thoroughly, washes her hands, and goes to bed.

 

She wakes up in the middle of the night to the confused impression that she is drowning. The bed is soaked in a dark gritty slime; when she struggles to free herself from the blanket, it's like trying to swim through tar. With a blanket on top of her. She claws at her face, desperate for breath; her nose and mouth are full of the stuff. It's pressing in on her from all sides, smothering her, scratching and sliding over her skin; it pours itself down her throat, creeps up under her pajamas, digs itself under her fingernails and presses at the corners of her eyes. Even her ears are full of muck. It has a heavy, oily taste, like something that belongs in the working parts of a car; and it's warm, verging on uncomfortably hot, not cold like she'd expect from something textured so much like mud.

Somehow, despite the grit and slime that fills her aching lungs, she stays alive and conscious long past when she would've expected to black out. She fights and fights, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to cough or vomit to clear the stuff from her lungs and stomach, and the only outcome of all her struggle is that it eventually finds its way past her underwear and discovers two more orifices to fill. The way it moves is less like a liquid and more like a living thing, trying to crawl inside her through every available opening. The grit rubs her skin raw; her insides feel ready to pop like an overfilled water balloon.

And then the slime does something deep inside her body that hurts more than all the rest of it combined, hurts enough that she does black out for a second—

—and when she wakes up, she can see through walls.

The last of the slime is absorbing itself into her skin; the abrasions from the grit are healing, and she can feel that, in a really extraordinary amount of detail—but the most spectacularly obvious change is the landscape of bright swirling lights painted on the inside of her eyelids. No - she's not seeing this with her eyes. Her eyes can only see in one direction. This is... every person, every bug, every blade of grass, every - microbe? - within a few hundred feet of her hotel room, shining brilliantly in psychedelic colour.

What the sweet galloping fuck.

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She's not a mutant, is she? She can't possibly be a mutant. If she were a mutant, that Sentinel yesterday would've had something to say to her. Is she hallucinating? This is one hell of a hallucination, if so. The... whatever it was... has finished merging with her; her sheets still feel damp and unpleasantly gritty, but she's breathing real air now, the taste of oil fading from her tongue. She opens her eyes and sits up, venting a confused cough as she fumbles for the bedside lamp. Her sheets, surveyed in the light, are soaked with a red-black fluid unpleasantly similar to blood. Her skin is clear of it, though, and when she drags herself out of bed and removes her now thoroughly disgusting pajamas, she can watch fresh smears slowly fade from her hands.

It's early in the morning, well before dawn; moonlight spills between the curtains to compete with the dim yellow glow of the lamp. Her new sense combines seamlessly with the mundane view from her eyes, overlaying it somehow so that she can see both pictures at once without sacrificing any detail from either. Except that where her normal human vision is limited by light and direction and distance, the - life-sense? - is perfectly happy to tell her about the blood-soaked towel in her bathtub and the couple having sex across the hall and the spider snoozing in the ceiling and the roadkill smeared along the highway, all at the same time, bright and vivid and beautiful.

"What the fuck," she says aloud.

Nobody answers.

She sighs, and tries to turn her new senses inward. It's disturbingly easy. If she focuses right, she can watch her own cells divide. Her lifeforce shines a bright and bloody red, laced with threads of black; nothing else she can see has anything like those colours or that pattern. Nothing else she can see has a single solid colour like that at all; they shift, dreamlike, red edging into yellow, green to blue, blue to violet. Her own life stays the same, gleaming under her skin like bad cartoon lava.

Well. It doesn't take a genius to surmise that the new sense and the way she looks in it are both gifts from her nighttime visitor. The question is, what the fuck is she going to do about it?

If the replacement bus comes bright and early, she might be out of here before the hotel notices that her bed looks like she committed several murders in it. On the other hand she might not, and she doesn't have a good explanation. What the hell does she say, 'sorry, I think I was raped by an alien slime monster that gave me superpowers'? Yes, that'll go over well, particularly in this political climate.

Could she be a mutant? Is this what manifesting as a mutant is like??? She fucking well hopes not. Can the Sentinels even find mutants before they manifest, or is she in danger now that she wouldn't have been yesterday? Should she be bolting for the border as fast as she can go? Her new abilities don't seem obviously useful for that purpose; if she is in fact a mutant, she is probably just fucked.

In which case, regardless of whether she's going to die horribly later today and despite the fact that she is now completely spotless, the first thing she's going to do is take a fucking shower to get the memories off her skin.

She steps around the remains of a bug ground into the carpet, clearly visible to her new inner sight, and heads into the bathroom and picks up the bloodstained towel and—freezes. Because she can taste the traces of blood and brain under her hand, feel her new power absorbing them, sorting and analyzing the dead mutant's DNA and filing it away in some kind of metaphysical sample drawer.

"What the fuck???"

The towel does not volunteer a reply. She drops it on the floor and turns on the shower and scrubs herself pink. By the time she feels enough like herself again to go get dressed, it's well after sunrise, and the mess in her bed is even more obvious.

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Someone knocks on her door.

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She answers it, looking not quite as unsettled as she feels but still pretty damn unsettled. (And making sure there's no clear line of sight between door and bed.)

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"Good morning! They sent a new bus."

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"Oh good. I'll get my stuff."

She's one of the first ones onto the new bus, abandoning the ruined towel and pajamas in the hotel room. In the general scramble last night, nobody gave their names to the hotel; even if they find the mess before the bus gets underway, nobody should be able to tell for sure that she was involved. (And just in case, she leaves the window open, to make it plausible that somebody climbed in.)

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The bus continues bussing along.

A few hours later they find that their planned route is currently unsafe due to hosting a conflict between a group of Sentinels and the "terrorist" group the X-Men. They're currently debating whether waiting and hoping they all go away will lose them more or less time than going around.

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A fly buzzes in the window. She flaps her hand at it. It bounces off her fingertips, and now she has another sample in her imaginary drawer. Ick.

...if she tries, can she 'see' far enough ahead to watch the fight? How far is it?

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Far enough away that they're not in immediate danger, but not much farther: a few miles.

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She closes her eyes and 'looks' as hard as she can, but she can't stretch her senses that far. It's hard to tell how much of the distance she managed to cover. Enough to reach well into the zone where there are no more people because they've all run away by now, at least.

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Eventually the fight wins, the "terrorists" victorious but having sustained casualties. The bus continues along its route; it's not long before the first corpse comes in range.

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