Originally Posted: June 4th, 1996
Length/Rating: 1588 words, PG, Gen
Summary: Long ago in the days of alt.comics.fan-fiction I wrote a random little piece about a creature sent to kill Jubilee, because… reasons? It expanded and evolved, but this is the original posting from 1996 for your amusement.
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“Hunt-cat-hunt-cat” says the man-voice. “Hunt-cat-hunt-this,” the man-paw holds a man-picture and a man-smell. The man-smell is old, years old. I sniff. Paugh, man-scent is stale. I look. It’s small-man, female-man?
“Hunt-this-hunt-cat.” The man-voice demands. I sniff. I look. This will be an easy-hunt. Man-child is small. Stale.
“Go-hunt-hunt-cat.” The man-voice snarls again.
I leave. Down the bright tunnel. Into light. Aiee. I squint. After being in darkness so long, I can see. I would run. I would flee, but the silver ring on my neck echoes the man-voice. So I hunt.
“Hey Ice Queen, you wanna go to the mall?” Jubilee offered, as she, M, and Paige headed out towards the cars.
<<I think I can find more useful ways to spend my time.>> Emma Frost answered the party telepathically. <<And so could you.>>
Jubilee shrugged and the three teens made tracks for the mall.
“Um, Jubilee?” Paige asked, once the mansion was safely out of sight. “Ice Queen?”
Jubilee shrugged, “Hey, she didn’t say anything, did she?”
M maintained a smug silence in the backseat.
<AND IF YOU EVER CALL ME THAT AGAIN I WILL KILL YOU.> Emma’s mindvoice snarled at Jubilee, who thankfully wasn’t driving.
“It was a joke.” Jubilee complained, as M handed her the bottle of Tylenol.
“Hmmm.” M answered, and smiled.
Tunnel leads to hunt-place, always. I smell. I search. Then I find the track. Man-child is here. Was here. I look at the house, but man-scent leads away. I smell gas. Cars. Paugh.
Here is car-scent. Not old. Not stale. Huh, easy-hunt. I follow car-trail. Watching. Hunting. I almost forget to not-see. I shudder. Quickly, quickly I become not-seen. Shadows wash over my sight. I’m used to shadows. I pass two man-childs, but they are not my hunt. I think of the house. I remember Before. Then the silver man-echo barks at me. I forget.
Something caught at the edge of the White Queen mind, and she looked up from her book. <Banshee?> She contacted the Irishman, <Is there anything on the net?> She could feel him check, and then shrug. <Nevermind.> She answered his unspoken questions. Her own scan showed nothing. <Must have been day-dreaming.> She finally decided, as the minutes ticked by. The headmistress shrugged, and went back to her reading.
So close man-child. The car-scent ends here. Trapped in many-scents. I sneeze. So many cars. So many man-scents. Paugh, man always smells. I try to find hunt-scent. Like a maze. A dance. A hunt. I smile.
There! I find the man-scent, hunt-scent. Follow it to a building. Larger than the last. I pause. I remember. The man-echo snaps its orders at me. Chuff, I hate the man-voice.
I follow the hunt-scent in the building. Large building. I hunt through many scents. Then I pass the man-scent, hunt-scent again. This one newer. Fresher. I pause. Why would it circle back? Does it hunt me? New fear. Maybe man-child is not easy-hunt after all. I double the power in the not-see. The shadows fall. There! I see the man-child. Does it hunt me? Must kill. Must hunt. Man-echo barks and snarls. I snarl with it. Hunt-cat-hunt-cat-hunt-cat-…
“Purple?” M asked. It was one of the few words she had spoken all day.
“So?” Jubilee asked, twirling in her new outfit. “Who say’s I have to look like some high-class know-it-all?”
“Um..” Paige started to intervene. After all the purple was day-glo, and they weren’t normally trying to attract attention.
“You just need to…” Jubilee’s retort was bit off by a snarling howl from a few feet away. “What the Hell?!”
The cat-thing shimmered into sight as it flung itself at Jubilee.
“SHIT!” The teenager yelped and blasted it with a half-aimed burst of “sparklies”.
AAAAiiieeee! Can’t see. Can’t see. hunt-cat-hunt-cat Burning. Can smell. Can feel. Pain! hunt-cat-hunt-cat Silver man-echo screams in anger. Can’t see. Man-child hunts me! Hunt-cat-Hunt-Cat-HUNT-CAT!
The beast twisted in mid-air, its face singed and smoldering. It landed with a stagger and turning, leapt again.
“Don’t kill it.” M commanded, as she calmly removed Jubilee from the creatures flight path. “I want to know what it is.”
“Smoldering.” Jubilee wheezed, as she tried to breath. “Couldya lighten up the grip Oh Hercules?”
“Fine.” M dropped her complaining burden back onto the floor.
Meanwhile the rest of the mall had responded to the fight, as any crowd of New Yorkers would do… they flocked in to see.
The cat-thing crashed into the side of a mall fountain, and limping spun around trying to catch the scent.
Can’t see. Can’t see. Smell? Where is man-scent, hunt-scent? Paugh, I smell burnt fur. Burnt me. But healing. Always healing. I pause. Wait. Stall for time. Will it hunt me? I heal. Never so slow before. The man-echo snarls, and snaps. But it is not burnt.
The trio watched warily as the cat-beast swung its head back and forth blindly.
“What is it?” Jubilee asked the floating M.
“That I don’t know.” She answered annoyed. “But I have called Mrs Frost. Perhaps she knows.”
“Why did it attack me?” Jubilee complained, “Why can’t someone else have killer robots and junk after them? Why’s it always gotta be me?”
“I have no idea.” M answered.
I can see. Cannot let man-child know. It argues. Does it not know I hunt it? This is no easy-hunt. Old-smell did not smell of fire. Now I know. Other-child smells of strength, of flight, of many things. I would not hunt her. Third-child smells of all things. Paugh. Man smells too much. I hunt.
The cat-thing gathered itself an leapt again, but Jubilee managed to roll out of the way.
“Are you sure you don’t want me hurting it?” Jubilee snapped “It doesn’t seem to know we’re not fighting!”
“It will.” M noted, as she snagged the beast in mid-leap, by its collar.
The cat-thing snarled in annoyance, and tried to twist it’s head around to bite at M.
Caught! Second-child is fast. Strong. I do not want to hunt you! The man-echo commands. It snarls. I snarl back. I will not hunt this! It yells at me to hunt. I cannot. The Second-child is too strong. I twist. I turn. She holds me still. Aaarrrah! I go not-seen. I roar. I claw the empty air. She holds me. The man-echo barks at me in anger. It reminds me of the dark. The shadows. No!
M managed to make holding the thrashing, yowling cat-thing look effortless. The crowd was suitably impressed, if Jubilee wasn’t.
“And you were complaining about a purple jacket?”
<<That is enough.>> Emma’s mindvoice echoed, cutting into the crowd babble. <<Go Away.>> The crowd obediently left. Her mind-control addiction satisfied the White Queen looked at the suddenly quiet cat-thing. <<And this is…?>>
M shrugged, and made it look easy. “I don’t know. I was hoping you did.”
“It was bust trying to kill me, if that’s any help.” Jubilee muttered, as she collected her scattered packages.
<<I’ll find out soon enough.>> Emma snapped. <<Now put it down.>> M gave her a disapproving look, then dropped the cat. It crouched where it landed, snarling silently.
A new-scent. A silver-scent. I snarl at the Fourth-man. It smiles at me. This one is hunting. Hunting me. And I cannot run. The silver man-echo yells at me, but Fourth-man is hunting. There is sleep. Deep sleep. I would call to the man-voice to help me. But it snarls. It snaps. So I sleep.
It is a nice dream. An old dream. I wait for the man-echo to destroy it. But there is no man-voice, only silver-voice. So I dream.
I dream of remembering. Of light. Of a time when there was no man-voice. When I did not hunt. A time when I could not hunt. A time when I was not hunt-cat. I sigh. I dream. I do not want to wake up.
I feel a tugging at my neck. I snarl at the man-echo. It would make me forget. Then there is a snap. The man-echo is gone. I dream. I remember. Of a time when there were man-voices that did not command. Did not order. I dream of love. I dream of happiness. And the man-echo cannot stop me.
Finally I dream of revenge. Of hunting. Of a last hunt. Of the man-voice. And I dream of freedom.
“My God.” Emma muttered, as she released the cat-thing into its dreams. M looked at her quizzically. “It is.. was human. A long time ago.” Emma answered.
The beast had curled into a ball on the floor, it’s claws dug securely into the concrete-tile mixture of the floor.
M looked down at the silver circlet in her hand. “I had suspected as much.” She looked down at the creature. “I don’t think it will bother anyone now.”
“Oh right.” Jubilee commented acidly. “And just what’s a thing like that gonna eat? Twinkies?”
<<It has other things in mind.>> Emma commented, as the cat-thing awoke sleepily. It glanced from M to Frost, to Jubilee. Then rumbled-coughed and loped out the exit, fading from sight as it did.
<<Why are you wearing that purple-thing?>>
Man-voice, man-scent. Fear-scent. I smell him now. The man-voice.
There is no silver man-echo. And I remember. I remember…