"Better be careful," she said. "Curiosity and the cat and all," she said.
And did Jonothon listen to her?
Hardly. He was here to do a job, after all. And if all that the attractive young woman in the business suit who had been checking him out on his first day could tell him was that the Paths were somehow involved in Weapon X's ability to hide itself from telepathic inquiries, then he'd take it.
The Paths, to the full extent of his knowledge, were whatever the hell they kept tucked away in that room at the end of the thirteenth floor. And, not that Jono was superstitious or anything, but there was certainly something about the whole thing that made his flesh crawl. But the room didn't seem to be under particularly strong security. A few scientists scattered when he smoked out the room, another useful ability that the enhanced control over his powers had apparently afforded him.
Hell, it was almost anticlimactic. He'd been expecting a fight.
… Then again, as he stepped up to the railing that overlooked the mysterious 'Paths' in question, his breath caught and his eyes went wide all the same.
Bodies. Row upon row of bodies. Half-bodies, really, each contained in a glowing tube just large enough to contain what was left of them from the waist-up. And, catching sight of them, the mysterious Paths were so much less a mystery, all of a sudden.
'Paths,' of course, was short for telepaths.
His insides were still reeling by the time he got down to the floor, muttering to himself, mostly in an attempt to keep sane. Right beside him, right there on his level, there were even more, uncovered, a few of them with bodies only there from the shoulders up. The bloody shoulders up.
"This is abominable... Jono, mate, what have you gotten yourself into, this time?" He leaned in close to one that was fortunate enough, at least, to still have arms, completely at a loss, and reached out to touch a hand to the man's cheek. "Of all the bloody... these poor sods are barely even..."
And, so help him, he was learning exactly what a heart attack felt like as the eyes of the man in front of him flew open, solid white, staring up at him in horror.
BLOODY FUCKING HELL WHAT IN THE--
//Chamber... you do not belong here.//
His hand was on Jonothon's face before he could reel away, and for all that he knew the answer, he still had to ask the stupid question, the obvious question.
"How'd you know my name!?"
Besides being a telepath. Not thinking straight, surrounded by half-bodies, all of them opening their glowing-white eyes and staring at him, and it was all he could do to keep his eyes from flicking to that empty white in turn.
//Do not be afraid... I only meant that I sense that you are not like others here at Weapon X... not... evil.//
The telepath lowered his hand, mostly because Jono pried it off of his face before reaching out one of his own to rest on the man's shoulder.
"No, as a matter of fact, I'm not. I'm here to help." Just... where he'd start, however... "If there was only some way I could get you all out of here..."
Again, the man reached toward him, this time resting a hand on Jonothon's as he reached tentatively toward the tubes and wires that seemed to be running through all of them.
//Do not concern yourself with me... with us... it is too late for us... but...// Hundreds of eyes. Hundreds of bodies, all looking down at him. All of them lost. //There are others... many others.//
"Yes... that's what I'm here for! Tell me about--"
//Better to show... than to tell. You are telepathic... yes?//
"Well, sort of." Jono's chin dropped and his eyes closed. Right. "Never really been much good at it, to be honest, mate. I sort of just... make do."
And, every hand that wasn't trapped inside a tube was reaching for him, now.
The things that Jonothon saw before he ever left that room... the things that the Paths showed him...
One more nightmare to label neatly and file in with the rest.
Somehow, he didn't scream.
He couldn't wait.
Not after seeing that.
He did at least have the presence of mind to call Logan, though. The meetup that they'd planned was going to need to wait.
"Logan, I'm not meting you at the rendezvous. I'm not coming." Christ, was it possible for him to get his voice any lower? It was all well and good to be able to use a phone now, but speaking meant that he might be heard, and being heard...
"Must have us a bad connection, kid. I can't have heard ya right..."
"I've found it, Logan. The break we've been looking for. I've found it."
"What do ya mean, ya--"
"No time to explain, mate. There's a transport of mutants leaving for Neverland in twenty minutes, and I'm stowing away on it."
Couldn't wait. It couldn't. The things that were happening...
"Whoa, kid, slow down!" Jono was barely hearing Logan now, the phone pressed to his ear as he crept up a ladder into the cargo bay of one of the planes on the tarmac. But he could have sworn that Logan sounded... concerned. So, let him be. "Let's talk this over first-"
"What is there to talk about, Logan? This is what I'm here for, isn't it? It's why I infiltrated Weapon X, right? Maybe that's been the problem. Why bloody maniacs like Weapon X are doing whatever it is they're doing to mutants right under our noses." He lingered on the ladder for a moment. Drew in a deep breath. "The time for talk's over. It's time for a little action."
Jono didn't stay on the line long enough to hear Logan's protest.
He was in.
Right. Right then. Okay. Dialling Logan's phone again. It had been more than a few hours since his last call, and, if he didn't check in now, there wouldn't be another chance.
Logan's voice on the other end of the line was... terse, to say the least.
"Jono, please tell me that's you."
"It's me, Logan."
"Man, Jono-- you disappear on me like that again and I swear to ya I'm gonna--"
"I really don't have much time for this, mate. Me bein' the X-Men's mole inside o' Weapon X has suddenly turned extremely serious."
Oh, lord. Was he ever...
"You're what? Where?"
"Neverland. They're about to go inside, so I have to make this short."
"Hey, you going there was against my better judgment, so ya better be careful, kid. Promise me ta ain't gonna do anything nutty, okay?"
"You worry too bloody much-- anyone ever tell you that?" Jono was practically chewing his own lip off as he spoke. What he was feeling from inside... "I'm transferring the coordinates to your phone now, so if you get here fast enough I won't have time to do anything 'nutty.' Chamber out."
His hands were shaking as he dialled the phone.
His hands were shaking, and for the first time in a long, long while, he was actually struggling not to puke. Bodies. Filth. There were screams echoing inside of his head, psionic backlash from people being tortured or worse, inside. Robots on guard. And so help him, he could swear that the dish up above the camp had a little green-skinned boy with a familiar face strapped to it, naked, listless, his powers being amplified and sent out over the whole of the camp.
God, Leech... How the fuck did Weapon X get their hands on Leech!? Emma didn't... or someone? After Generation X disbanded? Anyone?
"Logan, I'm inside. Please get here as soon as you can, mate."
"It's worse than we ever could have imagined, Logan... far worse. What Weapon X has done here... I'm having trouble controlling myself and not burning these animals straight to--"
"Get your emotions under wraps, kid. I'm on my way!"
"Hurry Logan, I--"
His phone was ripped away from him before he knew what hit him.
His consciousness went next.
And then his free will.
And by the time Logan finally arrived at Neverland, he'd find it cleaned out entirely. No evidence that it had been there at all. Jonothon Starsmore, loyal member of the Weapon X program, would be well on the other side of the globe, wiping the blood from his gloves and then the sweat from his brow after another job well-done.
Emergency cover-ups had always taken a bit of a toll on him.
… Hadn't they?
How many times did he need to kill Sublime?
This time, it was at a press conference, a quick hit from behind with a gout of flame between the curtains, and he turned his arse around and ran. Job done. Again. He was being tailed, though, which would be problematic.
He'd deal with that, too.
Nearly to the back door of the theatre before the one on his tail called out to him.
What in the name of...
"Awful familiar, aren't you, mate?" He did stop, though, furrowing his brow as he looked over his shoulder. Short man. Bad hair. Stupid yellow jacket with Xs on it. Smelled awful. "I only let my friends call me Jono."
"Your friends?" And so help him, he was half-convinced that Xavier's hairy little mountain man was actually concerned, for a moment. "Don't ya know me, Jono?"
"No. No, I don't know you. I know of you." His eyes narrowed. "You're Wolverine. Supposed to be the deadliest mutant alive. So they say, anyway. But outside of your Weapon X files, this is the first time I've ever seen you in my life."
"Jono... ya gotta listen to me. There was this mission..." And so help him, now Wolverine was grabbing him by the shoulders. "Ya were supposed to infiltrate the Weapon X Program. But somethin' went wrong... ya disappeared. An' I've been lookin' for ya ever since. But this... whatever it is that you are now, whatever it is that Weapon X did to ya... This is not who you are!"
Jonothon had heard about enough. A single blast of psionic flame from the chamber in his chest would get his point across.
"This is who I am!"
He learned quickly enough that Wolverine had his reputation for a reason. Even as Jono was turning to walk away and leave him to burn, he was being leapt at, fire and all.
"Ya don't get rid of me that easy!"
Lord, being smashed against a wall by a hairy little wildman hurt more than he'd let on. Being held there by a hand on fire pressed against his forehead wasn't all that great, either. But it was impossible to miss the clawed hand, reared back and poised to come flying back again toward his face.
"Do it," Jono snarled. And Wolverine hesitated. Something struck him as familiar, perhaps, not that it mattered to Jono. "DO IT!"
A moment of hesitation more. He wasn't going to.
Then Jonothon didn't have time for this. A blast of psionic flame straight from his hands - bugger didn't seem to see that coming, for whatever reason - and then he was slipping through the door and gone while Wolverine recoiled.
By the time Logan reached the alleyway, Jono was nowhere to be seen.
He did their work for months. He did it proudly, too. And why shouldn't he? It was a job. It was only ever a job.
Nothing personal, mates.
And then, somebody spoke three words.
Three little words, that rendered Jonothon's usefulness to the Program completely obsolete.
Three words. One moment of agonizing clarity. And then agony, fire, and white-hot darkness as the device in Jonothon's chest overloaded and gave up completely.
No more mutants.
It was a small mercy that Jonothon slipped almost directly into a coma, after that. The Scarlet Witch hadn't left him with a hell of a lot to wake up to.
[NFB, NFI, OOC is shiny. Taken from Weapon X issues 19, 20, and 21, and Weapon X: Days of Future Now #1, with a brief mention of House of M to tie it all up. Holy crap, this canon is high-octane nightmare fuel when you get right down to it. Whee?]
- Weapon X HQ, Jono's 616, Friday-ish