Xander vol.1 Transmutation, Page 10Jaz Johnson
“Whoa!” Jared shouted, raising his hands defensively.
But before he could fully get to his feet, there were men upon him, pushing him onto his chest on the floor and pulling his wrists behind his back. Loni watched with a scowl, her eyes snapping back to the men approaching her. They didn’t say a word as they approached, swiftly surrounding her. But her expression remained calm as she silently counted the numbers of her ambush.
They stood around her and the counter, all standing still for several moments before one, directly in front of her, made a move. He lunged at her, and Loni immediately responded, her speed considerably greater than his. The palm of her left hand connected with the underside of his jaw, practically knocking him off his feet and dropping him onto the floor.
The man to Loni’s right followed the assault, moving towards her. Her eyes snapped to him, her right hand following them and hooking around the back of his head. Her hand sticking to the smooth surface of his helmet, as she passed momentum through him. Within the instant, the man’s head made contact with the counter, cracking its surface. Some of the broken pieces fell to the floor with the man as he landed on his fellow officer.
“Whoa,” Jared grunted as he watched from his held position on the floor. Captured by awe at her skilled combat.
Before the majority of the other officers could react fully, Loni spun around, her elbow connecting with the collarbone of the man behind her, making him grunt and stumble back into another officer. Loni followed up with a kick to his stomach as the man behind him tried to steady them both. They both fell to the floor as Loni leapt onto the counter, eying the rest of them. They took several wary steps back as their commanding officer stepped through the doorway. Their eyes met, and Agent Borges’ narrowed.
“Taze her,” he ordered.
The man closest to Loni nodded as he reached for his tazer. Loni glanced over at him, not at all concerned as he aimed it at her and fired. The clips made contact with her skin, sending the jolting shock through her nerves. It tickled her, making her squint and smile. She reached for it, shocking the man as she ripped the clips from her skin, looking back at Borges.
“You call that electricity?” Loni mocked.
Borges grimaced as he silently gestured to the woman beside him. She nodded, reaching back outside the apartment and dragging a large gun back into the room, barely able to hold it. Loni’s eyes widened at the familiar technology, her body tensing in instinctive preparation. She raised her hand defensively, while Jared cried out in disbelief as they aimed the gun at Loni.
“W-Hey! What are you –“
Jared shouted as the gun went off, knocking Loni clear off the counter and into the men behind her. She winced and growled as they caught her, immediately moving to restrain her while she was wounded. Jared’s motivation to struggle against his restraints was suddenly reanimated when seeing them capture Loni.
“What the – Are you crazy? You trying to kill her? Who are you people?!” he yelled at Borges, whose expression had remained the same. He glanced at Jared, who somewhat stilled when meeting his eyes.
“You walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, kid,” he huffed, turning around and walking out of the apartment into the hallway. “Bag ‘em.”
Each time Xander stepped out of the fitting room, Nora became more embarrassed with the outfit that he’d come up with. He stepped out, smile wide, as he showcased his latest fashion statement. Which was a neon lime green muscle shirt, brick red capris, and a navy blue cardigan that looked to be a size too small. There were a few giggles from the girls who had gathered to watch his changing process. Nora rubbed the bridge of her nose in embarrassment as her head lowered.
“What do you think?” he beamed, slowly turning so that Nora could fully appreciate the creation.
Nora winced, thinking of the appropriate response to give him without upsetting the self-proclaimed prince. But she hesitated, once again, a moment too long, tipping Xander off to her silent opinion. He frowned, stopping his twirl.
“Now what is it?” he complained. “I’ve added colour, just like you instructed.”
Xander’s previous outfit had made him look like something out of the dark ages. All he needed was some excessive eyeliner and painted nails. So Nora skillfully suggested that he add some more colour into his next outfit. But she hadn’t expected him to come out looking like a circus addition.
“I know – and they’re all good colours,” she assured. “It just … It might be a little too much.”
Xander huffed, crossing his arms. He was growing frustrated. This was now his sixth attempt at putting together an outfit that was pleasing Nora, and he was beginning to think that it was impossible to do just that.
“Well what do you suggest I do? I’ve done this six times now. And each time you’ve told me something different. I’m growing tired of this.”
Nora sighed, rolling her eyes as she raised her hands, gesturing for him to calm down.
“Let me pick out the clothing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. A simpleton? Picking out clothing for a –“
Nora cut him off, standing from her seated position on the carpeted floor. Xander placed a foot behind him as she stepped towards him. He raised a brow, waiting for her to strike him. But instead, she merely maintained threatening eye contact. Which proved to be more unnerving than if she had actually hit him. His other brow raised, feeling the unsettling aura of an angered woman. He raised his hands, taking a step away as he averted his eyes.
“Wonderful idea. Carry on.”
Forty minutes later, they were ready to check out. Nora had picked out a simple wardrobe for Xander, which consisted of the heather grey tee and denim jeans he was wearing. As well as a few other plain tees and jeans. Nothing flashy, which she had to convince him of to begin with. But eventually he gave in, letting her put together his wardrobe.
They approached the cashier counter together, Xander carrying all of the clothing. Nora had decided against the wig, the blonde reminding her of Sarah too much, and the others just being too ridiculous of a colour.
Placing the things on the counter, Nora sighed, glancing up at Xander while the cashier fiddled with something with their back to them. Xander returned the glance with a raised brow after feeling her gaze on him. His expression suggested a question.
“So, how are you paying for all this? I’m sure you didn’t expect me to,” Nora asked, crossing her arms.
“Of course not. Does your species’ currency accept gold?”
Nora nodded with raised brows of her own.
“You have gold?”
Now Xander nodded. Nora huffed, throwing her arms up.
“Then we didn’t have to shop here!” she whined. Her increased volume made the cashier turn around, revealing the all too familiar face of Nani. Nani’s eyes widened as she saw her, Nora’s face almost immediately mimicking hers.
“N-Nani,” Nora stammered.
Xander looked up from the pile of clothes he was shifting through for the fourth time, seeing the familiar human face. He smiled, his posture straightening in recognition.
“Human!” he greeted with joy.
Walking in through the door of Fran’s house, Nora held herself as she walked further in at a rather quick pace, while Xander followed lazily behind, kicking the door shut behind him. He sighed, shifting the pile of clothes in his arms as he stepped a little closer to the pacing Nora.
“So, explain this dating thing to me. What is it?” he asked curiously as he set the pile of clothing down on the back of the sofa.
He watched her, waiting for a response. But it soon became clear to him that she was getting further and further into her thoughts. Thoughts unpleasant, by the look on her face.
She was pacing around in circles, her eyes focused on her feet. Seeing Nani for some reason had jarred her. Being face to fac
e with her past, when she didn’t know if she could reconnect to it again.
Nani had given her a piece of her mind back at the store about how she felt about her sudden disappearance, and Nora not being able to give a reason for it only made things worse. They had to leave the store before Nani caused a scene, and Nora had been replaying the conversation the entire way back to the house.
The response she’d gotten from Nani – it made her think. About her own family. How would they react to her disappearance? Would they accept her the way she was now? Would they understand? How could she expect them to, when she didn’t?
“Nora?” Xander asked softly, watching the slow deterioration of her brain.
Her head spun, and she felt her footing begin to falter. What if she’d made a terrible mistake? What if she couldn’t handle what she had set out to do in the first place? Forget about her family accepting her. What if she couldn’t save them? What if she couldn’t stop the doctor in time? And they were subjected to this life? The life of a mutant? Of a Chimera? What if they died in the process?
“Nora,” Xander said again, a little more firmly as he stepped towards her.
Nora’s hands had found their way to the sides of her temple, and she was beginning to make soft whimpering sounds. When he wasn’t answered a third time, he gripped her by her shoulders and gave her a firm shake.
“Nora,” he said again.This time Nora’s eyes fluttered, before refocusing on Xander’s face. He frowned. “What is it?”
Nora was silent for a moment, as her mind recollected itself. Her eyes darted about as she pieced together an answer, trying to remember where she was. And then, having it all mash together, her eyes watered, somewhat surprising Xander.
“What if I can’t do this?” she finally said. Xander’s frown deepened.
“This,” Nora said, gesturing to the room and confusing Xander further. “This … Rescue mission. What if I can’t do it? There’s no way that I can. Richard almost killed me – twice. I can’t go up against all of them. I don’t even know how many there are,” she ranted as the tears began to fall. “And what about the police? What if they won’t help me? What if they lock me away forever to be tested on instead?”
Xander squeezed her shoulders, trying to calm her.
“Stop,” he ordered. “What are you saying?” Nora sniffled, reaching up to wipe her eyes at the question. “You keep saying ‘I’. When I, a power-wielding alien have already agreed to help you with this,” Xander reminded, letting go of her shoulders with a sigh. Nora wiped her eyes more hurriedly as he shook his head.
“But what if it’s not enough? What if –“
“Don’t insult me,” Xander frowned. “I’m more than enough to help you save your little power-queer planet.”
Nora sniffled again, her breathing coated in soft hiccups.
“Just stop crying. You do that too often.”
Nora’s head snapped back up in disbelief of the insensitivity, her eyes watered again as she raised her fists. Xander flinched as he suddenly felt the wrath of Nora’s hands against his arm, making his curl away from her.
“Well excuse me for being human!” she whined just before Xander caught a hold of one of her wrists.
He laughed, making her frown and flail about, trying to get her hand free to continue hitting him.
“That’s good,” he said, catching her off guard.
Her fury slowed to a stop as the words paused her onslaught. She looked at him, at his smile, before pulling her hand away from him.
“You said you were human,” Xander noted.
Nora’ eyes broadened as she realized. She lowered her fists from their hitting positions and she realized he wasn’t laughing at her.
“So. You think you still are, don’t you? Despite calling yourself a Chimera yesterday, or whatever it was.”
“I’m not human,” Nora insisted, her eyes lowering. “Not anymore.”
“Aren’t you? Just because you’re like this now, doesn’t mean you’re not, does it?”
“It doesn’t work like that.”
“I know, genetically, you may not be considered human anymore. But does that really make you any less of one? Saphora is, by genetic structure, an Ekechi. Yet she remains an Athenian. I think it’s the same for you.”
Nora fell silent at his kind words, taking them to heart. She felt her chest heave, and somewhat of a weight slide from her shoulders, hearing what she had longed to believe. That she was still human. A smile cracked her features as her body lunged forward into his, her arms wrapping around him and catching him by surprise. His body stiffened as he his arms immediately raised in caution as she nuzzled against him.
“Thank you,” she sobbed. He grunted as she squeezed, before groaning, hearing the strain of her voice.
“Crying,” he groaned. “You’re crying again,” he complained as he reached down to take her by the shoulders and attempt prying her off. She whined, tightening her grip to stay where she was.
“I can’t help it!” she whined.
“Alright, alright,” Xander cooed, still tugging at her shoulders. “Here, you bring the clothes up to Saphora’s room, and I’ll fix some Athenian food, huh? Okay?” he offered.
Immediately, Nora’s eyes dried as she took a step back from him in order to look up into his face. She wiped her eyes.
Xander nodded and Nora spun around, grabbing the pile of clothes on the sofa and flying up the stairs, nearly tripping over herself in the process. Xander chuckled to himself watching her go.
“Emotional, that one,” he mumbled to himself before turning to enter the kitchen and trying to remember where he had stashed the food.
There were so many cabinet and cupboards it could have been. He sighed, slapping his hand to his face when realizing he hadn’t the slightest idea where he had left anything. They’d been eating Earth’s food for the past few days, and his memory was faulty. He stood there, hands on his hips as he scanned the kitchen, concentrating on each door and trying to recall his last actions.
It was then that he heard movement outside the kitchen. He glanced at the ceiling, as if to look through it into Saphora’s room. Had Nora rushed to finish that quickly? That’s when he heard it again, coming from not just outside the kitchen, but outside the house.
Thudding, as if there were several. His eyes narrowed as he spun around, eyeing the window next to the door and seeing the moving figures. Perhaps it was Richard? He’d found them and brought reinforcements?
He stepped back outside the kitchen, eyeing the door. Meanwhile, upstairs, the door to the closet Nora was inside slowly closed shut. Xander called on its magnetic properties to secure the door’s lock, unknown to Nora, who was still busy putting the clothes away. He frowned, coming back into the living room and watching the door with anticipation.
With sudden force, the door came crashing in, startling the focused Nora upstairs. She tensed, instinctively ducking and covering her head as she heard the crack. Her eyes shut tight as she whimpered, listening for the sound to continue. She peeked one eye open, her face scrunching into wonder as she questioned exactly what Xander was doing. But her thoughts of Xander being the cause quickly faded as she heard several voices.
“Richard?” she gasped, whipping her head around to look at the closed door.
She listened intently, her eyes darting about. But she didn’t hear Richard’s voice, she heard Xander’s, followed by the loading of a weapon. She gasped again, hurrying to her feet.
“The police,” she breathed, just before hearing the weapon fire, followed by a grunt of pain from Xander. “No!” she cried, running to the door and twisting the knob, only to find that the door would not open, despite not being locked. “What?” she said aloud as she continued to tug and pull on the doorknob.“No!” she cried again, realizing it was Xander that was keeping th
e door closed.
She went to pull harder, but was met by a slight, but large enough shock. It knocked her off her feet onto the carpeted floor. She groaned, rushing back to her feet to try the door again, but flinched when she heard the weapon go off again. Slowly, her hands lowered from her ears as she awaited more noise. But what she heard made her blood run cold.
Silence rang in her ears for what seemed like ages before she heard the dragging of a body, accompanied by grunts from the police. Nora’s face paled as the magnetized door slowly creaked open. She watched it like she would a ghost, before rushing out of the room, shaking her head. She darted to the open window in Saphora’s room, falling to her knees and peering outside from its corner.
With bated breath she watched as the men and woman dragging Xander’s passive body into one of the black vans. She gasped as she saw the blood that stained Xander’s new shirt, as well as a portion of his jeans. She whimpered as their eyes met. His seemed to be telling her to stay where she was. Demanding it, even. She shook her head in protest, but his gaze remained unwavering as he was shoved into the vehicle, arms cuffed behind his back.
It was then that she heard footsteps reenter the house, making her spin around. They were quick paced, and headed in all directions – including upstairs. They were searching the house. Nora’s breathing sped up as she searched the room for a place to hide, her scan ending with the bed. With an almost thrust of her body, Nora crawled under the bed in time to hide her body from the entering officers.
She clamped her hand over her mouth, fighting the whimpering cries her body evoked. She watched the men’s feet pass on each side of the bed, listening to them speak amongst themselves as they began searching.
“Think this guy knows where Saphora is?” one of them asked another.
“I don’t know, but Elba’s gonna find out,” the other answered.
Just then, the horn from one of the cars blew from outside, signaling that the group’s search time was up. The men huddled together as they left the room, leaving Nora to sob quietly under the bed, hand still over her mouth. She waited until she heard the slam of the front door to let out her sobbing pants, while digging her hand into her back pocket to get her cellphone.