Chrysalis - 4 - Returning Home
A KittyHawk Tail
Chapter 4 — Returning Home
Three weeks flew by with few encounters. They managed to keep away from any cities or villages, just. Food was still a problem, but Laura and the other flyers managed to gather enough for everyone. Laura did most of the gathering of fruits and vegetables to avoid having to kill anything. The others were glad to make that compromise; they all seemed to think that they would never have gotten half as far without her.
Finally, a little sooner than anticipated, they came to the border of Costa Rica. They were dismayed to find it had been recently fortified with a tall fence with rows of shining razor wire on top. Signs dotted the length of the fence warning that it was electrified. There were also two guard posts in sight. Each post had at least two soldiers manning it and they were well armed. With a sinking feeling the group approached the nearest gate.
Once again the others melted back to let her do the talking. She approached cautiously under the guard's watchful gaze. They didn't seem hostile, though, and in fact seemed to be watching everything but her for the most part. "Uh, hello? Someone told us that this was a safe place for mutants?" she hesitantly said.
The nearest guard frowned and glanced at another. That one stepped forward with a grin, "Don't worry about all this," he said, waving at the other guards and the fence. "It's to keep the people who try to hurt mutants out. Ever since we opened our borders to mutants we've had fanatics trying to attack any mutants trying to enter our country. You are safe here."
He seemed sincere, so I waved the others forward. Slowly they trickled through the gate, some talking briefly with the guards. As they did they became bolder and moved with more purpose, a smile on many faces. "This is the biggest group we've had yet. Where did you find them all?" the guard asked her.
"I found most of them being forced to work on some kind of mine. The rest joined up with us as we went." Laura replied.
Frowning at the mention of the mine he said, "Yes, we've heard rumors about forced labor camps. Thank you for freeing them. You must be as powerful as you are beautiful! Don't worry, though, you are all welcome in Costa Rica."
Laura blushed at his words, "Uh, thanks. But I'm not staying. I'm going back home to find my parents."
"Ah, family is important. Are you American then?" he said. Laura nodded, "Are you sure it will be safe there? I have heard bad things about the way Americans are dealing with mutants."
She shrugged, "I don't know, but I think my parents will be okay. Even if I can't stay, I have to let them know I'm alright."
"Understandable. If you find your old home too hostile, feel free to return at any time. What is your name?" he said.
"Uh, I guess I'll go by Chrysalis?" she said, remembering her conversation with Dragon and Succubus.
He grinned, "Ah, a beautiful name for a beautiful mutant! My name is Manuel Castillo. Please, if you ever find yourself in Costa Rica again, look me up? I would like to know how things go with your family."
Laura blushed again, nodding and hurrying to catch up with the others. They were all very relieved to find Costa Rica as welcoming as they had been led to believe. There were a few mutants working on the border who told them about the welcome they received, as well, which reassured Laura that things really were as good as they seemed.
Many of the mutants hugged her and thanked her for her help. She didn't feel that she'd done all that much, but accepted their thanks rather than make a fuss.
Just as she was about to leave one of the mutants working on the border approached her with a bulging backpack. "Chrysalis? We have put together a pack for you. It is not much, just a change of clothes, water, and medical supplies. If there is anything else we can do to help you, please let us know?" she said, holding the backpack out to her.
"Uh, thanks." Laura replied, taking the backpack. More thanks and hugs delayed her before she was finally able to take off.
Laura wore the backpack backwards so it wouldn't interfere with her wings and resumed her flight north. She waved to everyone as she flew by before gaining altitude until she could not see them anymore. I'm glad I helped them, but I really want to get home and see Mom and Dad. I hope they can handle the new me! she thought.
She flew for two weeks after Costa Rica without much interaction with anybody. Maintaining a high altitude allowed her to move quickly without being distracted by the people below. That ended somewhere around northern Mexico when she heard screaming. It was faint at her altitude, but her enhanced hearing picked it up and she couldn't ignore it.
Here we go again! she thought, diving down towards the source of the sound. She was feeling a little more confident in her flying abilities now so her dive was very steep. That got her low enough to get a better fix on the sound and adjust her course.
Lot of people down there. Hope this isn't going to be another big delay! Laura thought as she started flapping her wings to slow her descent. The scene she found herself in the middle of was not a pleasant one.
Several mutants were in a pen, like animals. They each wore a heavy steel collar chained to an iron ring in the ground. The chains were very short, so they could move only a few feet in any direction. They couldn't even stand, so were forced to walk on hands and knees. A crowd had gathered around the fenced-in pen and were jeering at the mutants inside, who were all naked and bleeding.
"What's going on here?!" Laura yelled to be heard over the screams of the mutants and the jeers of the crowd. Several men with whips were lashing the mutants for no apparent reason.
If any of the men spoke English, they didn't show it. They did show a great deal of interest in Laura, however. Her words sparked a flurry of activity as half of the men with whips hurried to a nearby shed and returned with shotguns. Not this again! Laura thought, hoping she didn't end up naked again.
Rather than risk it, she decided to be more proactive. Before they had a chance to aim she was on the nearest one, picking him up and throwing him at the next nearest armed man. Remembering the words of the mutants she had rescued, she decided to see if she could trigger whatever it was that she did before. "STOP!!" she screamed, trying to will them to do so with everything she had.
They didn't seem to take notice at first, but just as two of the men were about to pull the trigger on their shotguns, and three more had reared back to strike at her with their whips, everyone suddenly did just that, stop. For several seconds there was no movement at all. Laura was stunned. Did it really work?
The mutants in the pen seemed to shake it off first. One of them asked Laura something in Spanish, but she didn't understand it. Shrugging, she jumped the fence and started pulling the iron rings out of the ground. Not wanting to risk taking the time to remove the collars, she tore out a section of fence and led them out. Slowly everyone was starting to move again, though they all looked out of it, somewhat like Bull had.
I wonder what exactly I did? she thought as she wove between the bewildered crowd. Following behind her the mutants stared in wonder at the confused crowd. By the time they'd passed the last of the crowd they were only just beginning to become aware of their surroundings again.
None of the mutants spoke English, but they recognized the name of Costa Rica and with some hand gestures made herself mostly understood. They thanked her and headed south. She hoped they would make it okay, but she didn't want to go all the way back to Costa Rica and lose that much time. She'd been away from home long enough.
Reluctantly, she left them behind and flew north again. She stayed high and flew as fast as she could.
Another day of travel went by without incident. She rested under the cover of some trees along a river for the night, finding plenty of flowers to eat before flying on. She wasn't even sure if she was in the US yet or not, but she thought she might be. With that in mind she started turning west.
Another night's rest saw her on her way again. A few hours later she heard several gun shots. She thought they might have been directed at her, but she was out of range. But then a helicopter approached!
Great, now what?! she thought, exasperated by yet another delay.
She waited for the helicopter to get closer to find out what they wanted. It wasn't a military helicopter, for which she was thankful, but that sentiment faded when she saw a man with a large machine gun pointed at her through an open door. "Mutant! Land immediately or you will be fired upon!" someone said through a speaker or something on the helicopter.
She wasn't sure her armor would be strong enough, so she did as ordered. When she landed she found several men in uniforms with rifles whom she assumed had been shooting at her before. They didn't look military, but like police or something. As soon as she landed several of them surged forward and tried to handcuff her.
Not happening! she thought, shaking the men off like small children.
"You don't have any rights here, animal!" one of the men snarled. "Stop fighting us or else!"
"What do you mean, I don't have any rights?!" she asked in surprise.
He glanced at the others and laughed, "We got an out of town freak here, huh? Your kind are recognized for the animals you are here. If you don't behave we'll put you down. Got it?"
She nodded, "Yeah, I've got it. But you're going to STOP, right NOW!" She put all the feeling she could into the screams, hoping whatever strange power she had would kick in again. Sure enough, it did. The men acted like they'd been struck, falling onto their backs and staying there, stunned.
Well, they warned me the US was bad. I guess this is what they meant. Laura thought. Not wanting to fight with the helicopter, she ran.
She ran until she couldn't run anymore, staying away from roads and buildings as much as she could. Fortunately she wasn't in an urban area so that wasn't too hard. Finally fatigue caught up with her and she settled down under the shade of a large weeping willow tree to rest.
She awoke and, after a quick flower snack, continued on her way. Fearing more helicopters she decided to walk for a while longer. She had no idea where she was, though, so she soon found herself flying again just to get her bearings.
At first what she saw didn't mean anything to her...until she saw what could only be the Grand Canyon. Wow, look at that! I didn't realize it was so huge! she thought, hovering in place to gaze in wonder at it. But soon the fear of more helicopters had her flying on.
At least I know where I am, now. Well, roughly, anyway. If I just keeping going west I'll get home soon enough! she thought happily.
Flying was safe enough for the rest of the day as there was plenty of open space. But as she continued the next day it started to get harder to stay away from cities. Am I in California, then? she wondered. After most of a day's flight she started to see some familiar landmarks.
I'm almost home! she thought with relief. She decided to risk continuing to fly rather than draw the kind of attention she would on the ground. Finding her house proved more difficult from the air than she'd thought, but eventually she was pretty sure she'd found it. It was getting dark but she decided that was perfect since there were fewer people on the street to see her land.
Now that she was finally here she began to feel nervous. What if they don't accept me? Where will I go? she wondered. I suppose I could go back to Costa Rica...but then what? Is there any kind of life available for me like I am? This may end up being as much of a curse as it is a blessing...
She landed and walked up to the door but hesitated to knock. She turned away, turned back and turned away again before stopping facing the door. This is what I've been fighting for for...how long? I know my parents...more loving parents you couldn't ask for. Surely they'll get used to the new me, like they did before when I told them I'm a girl... she thought hopefully.
She stood there indecisively for another couple of minutes before finally stepping up and pressing the door bell. She waited and pressed the door bell again...and again. Maybe they're not home...they didn't move away, did they?
Thinking the door bell may not be working properly she tried knocking. The door seemed rather flimsy and shook a lot with each knock but she finally heard some movement inside. Then it stopped and the door still didn't open so she knocked again. Immediately it opened and her mother and father were standing there, looking upset and surprised. Her dad gasped, "Chrysalis!" before looking at her mom in surprise.
"Uh, hi." Laura said nervously.
They looked at each other and her mom said, "Um, hello. Is there...something we can do for you?"
She kicked herself mentally, Of course, they won't recognize me! "Oh, sorry," she said sheepishly, "I should explain. I'm Laura....your daughter."
They looked startled but then her father looked angry, "What kind of game are you playing at?"
"Wait, it's me, really! Give me a chance to explain!" she said hurriedly, worried they would close the door in her face.
Her mother put her hand on her father's arm, which was grasping the door as if to close it. "What if it is, Stefan?"
"But...is that even possible?" he said, sounding as though he wasn't sure if he dared believe it might be.
Her mom shrugged, "I don't know...why not find out?"
He shook himself, "Yeah...yeah, let's find out. Uh, Chrysalis, would you like to come in?"
Laura smiled and followed them inside. Her mom pulled out a chair for her and they all sat around the kitchen table. "So, um, sorry about being such a pain about that 'clinic' I told you about. You were totally right that it wasn't the real thing."
Her mother frowned, "What do you mean? If you're really Laura then shouldn't you be happy about the way you look now?"
"Oh, I am! I love my body now, antennae and all! It's just...they kidnapped me, as I'm sure you know. And they really didn't care about me...they just wanted a test subject, or something." Laura replied.
"Wait, let's get back to the part where you're claiming to be Laura. Why don't you prove that part, first?" her dad said suspiciously.
"Oh yeah, sorry. Um, let me think..." she said, and then started rattling off things she remembered about her childhood that she didn't think anyone else would know. After a few minutes all suspicion disappeared from her parents faces and they nearly suffocated her with hugs.
"Oh, Laura, you're really back!" her mother breathed happily, pulling back to take a look at her and then crushing her to her again.
"We've missed you so much!" her father said, tears in his voice.
"I'm sorry I worried you guys so much!" Laura said, tears streaming down her face, too.
There were several minutes of wordless hugs and tears before any of them were ready to talk again. Eventually they calmed enough to talk again, though her mother refused to let her go and her father kept a hold on her hand, too.
"So, what exactly happened to you?" her mother asked.
"Well..." Laura said, and began to recount everything that had happened since she was kidnapped. Her mother pulled her closer and cried several times while her father's grip got much tighter. She was sure it would have been painfully tight before her mutation. She went on for what seemed like hours before she had gotten them up to date.
"Wow..." her father said, sitting back but not letting go of her hand. "You've really had an...adventure, I guess you could call it. How are you doing?"
Laura shrugged, "I'm good. It's been scary at times and I've seen a lot of bad stuff but I've finally got the body I'm supposed to have and my parents aren't freaked out by it, so I'm happy!"
"Oh honey!" her mom said, hugging her close again. "You didn't really think we'd be put off by you being as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside, did you?"
"Yeah, kiddo, we love you. The way you look isn't important to us, so long as you're happy." her dad said, squeezing her hand. Another tear streaked down his face and not for the first time she was glad she had a dad who wasn't afraid to show his feelings.
She couldn't get any words out at that and just cried happily on her parents shoulders. Eventually they all calmed down and her father asked, "So, are you going to try going back to school? I won't lie to you, it could be rough if you do. There's a lot of prejudice out there. It's not as bad as most parts of the country but still rough. It sounds like you can handle yourself pretty well, but..."
She shrugged, "I don't know. I haven't really thought about what to do from here on out, except that I wanted to do something about that Bubble place. I can't just let them keep using people like that."
"Honey, that sounds awfully dangerous. Maybe you should leave it to the authorities?" her mother said worriedly.
"I suppose that might work. It's the UN that runs it, right? I could go to them. If they don't know what's going on then they can shut it down. And if they do...well, I can always shut it down myself, I guess." Laura said thoughtfully.
"It's great that you want to help people, honey, but you're just sixteen! Leave it to the authorities to take care of this stuff." her father said.
"If they'll do something about it, sure. But I can't just leave those other mutants there, Dad. I just can't!" she replied, surprised at her own vehemence.
Her parents exchanged a worried glance, then her mother said, "Well, if the people at the UN don't believe you or won't help you, maybe there's someone else who will?"
"Like who? The US government?" she asked.
Her dad laughed at that, "Yeah, right. The government's more backward about mutants than most of the people. But I think I see where your mother's going with this. Kittyhawk, right?"
Her mother nodded at her father's inquisitive look, "Yes, that's what I had in mind. She has a little different reputation than you do. I'm not sure what to believe, frankly. But if she really does care about mutants like they say she does, she might help you. And I read in the paper this morning that she'll be at the UN building in a few days. So you can talk to someone there and if that doesn't work out you can try to talk to her. Assuming we can figure out how to get you there that fast. An airplane might not be the best idea..."
"No, definitely not. The airport in San Francisco would be okay, I think, but who knows what the airports at any stops along the way would be like? And even your reception in New York is uncertain." her father said.
"That's okay, I think I could fly it." Laura said.
"What, on your own?" her father said. "You can fly that fast?"
Laura shrugged, "I think so? I got from the Grand Canyon to here in a day and I wasn't going in a straight line or as fast as I could."
"Where in the Grand Canyon?" her father asked."
"I don't know. I was kind of lost before I found it." Laura replied.
"Hmm, maybe you could do it...but I don't like the idea of you going alone." her father said worriedly.
"I've been alone for months, I can manage." she replied.
"I know, but you got into an awful lot of fighting in that time. I'd feel better if we could go with you." her father said.
"I'll be fine. And as soon as I've taken care of the Bubble one way or another I'll come straight back. I promise." Laura said confidently.
There was more back and forth after that but in the end they gave up. Laura had always been stubborn.
Still, they were determined that she should rest for the night and insisted on getting her some clothes. Laura wasn't inclined to argue. It was already getting dark and she was reluctant to leave, despite her determination to see this through. She'd been looking forward to this for months and wasn't any happier than her parents that their reunion would be so short.
That night she slept in her own bed for the first time in months. She went online briefly before bed to let her friends know she was alright but gave no details except to assure them that she was happy and in no danger of hurting herself. Though she felt a bit guilty not only at having worried them, but in not being entirely truthful since she was likely to end up doing something dangerous. She wouldn't hurt herself, but she was likely to get hurt if she had to fight to bring down the Bubble herself. Even with Kittyhawk's help.
Her mother went shopping during the night and bought far too many clothes. Some of them wouldn't work because of the wings but she found plenty that did. She even liked most of them well enough. "Thanks Mom, it'll be nice not to wear clothes that have bullet holes in them for a while." Laura said, hugging her, when she was presented with them in the morning.
"I would appreciate it if you could keep these clothes bullet hole-free young lady." her mother said.
"I'll certainly try, Mom. Getting shot isn't fun." Laura replied.
"I'm just glad you're so tough that you could survive all that...but I don't want you fighting anymore if you can help it!" she replied.
"I'll try...but I don't think I can ignore it if I see other mutants in trouble like I did on the way here." Laura said apologetically.
"That's my girl, always thinking about others." her father said fondly before grabbing her up in a bear hug.
"Dad!" she said, but her laughter revealed her delight at her father's easy acceptance of her.
Finally Laura said she needed to go if she was going to meet up with Kittyhawk. Her mother gave her a picture so she'd know who to look for. "Though, you won't have much trouble. She's as unique as you are." she said.
Laura had to agree, she had only seen one other mutant like Kittyhawk and he'd been in the Bubble. And he'd looked rather unhealthy.
Reluctantly she pulled away from her parents and said, "I'll be back as fast as I can! I love you!!" before flying off. Their own 'I love you's' followed her, seeming to buoy her up and speed her along. She felt so good, in fact, she thought she might fly the entire distance non-stop.
That night she decided that wasn't such a good idea. After a full day of full-speed flight she was tired, sore and hungry. She was so tired she landed in a park somewhere, crawled into some bushes and passed out.
Sunlight woke her and she panicked for a moment before remembering where she was. Already she was regretting leaving her parents but she'd promised herself she would do something about the Bubble and the UN and Kittyhawk were her best bets.
Crawling painfully from the bushes she found some flowers to eat and took to the air again. She found that flying at her best speed was too painful. I guess I pushed myself too hard. I'd better be more careful in the future. she thought.
Laura managed a good pace despite her pains, though and encountered no problems. This time she found a more secluded place to rest. She had no idea where she was but she knew she was going in the right direction because her father had given her a compass.
Will I get there in time? she wondered the next morning as she ate and prepared to leave. She could only hope she would. Once she could see the Atlantic Ocean she'd have a better idea where she was.
Not long after she got up to her preferred altitude she saw a large number of planes landing and taking off from the same place in the distance. That's a busy airport. Could that be Chicago? she wondered.
Going on the assumption that it was, she continued on with renewed hope that she would arrive in time.
Amazingly, after all her adventures getting home, she had no trouble on the third day, either and could clearly see the east coast. The next day would see her at her destination. Hopefully in time to catch Kittyhawk. I wonder what she's like? she thought as she lay down to sleep that night.
Again she was in the air first thing in the morning. Finding New York was easier than she'd thought it would be. The hard part was finding the UN building. Or it would have been, if there hadn't been a huge crowd around it. She went down to see what all the fuss was about. She garnered a great deal of attention, unsurprisingly. Some policemen were keeping a crowd away from a limo so she asked him, "Excuse me, sir, what's going on here?"
He did a double take, glancing across her without seeming to notice her and then quickly jerking his head back around to stare at her. "Um, sorry, ma'am, you need to stay back. Some VIPs are leaving the building." he said, looking flustered.
"Oh, okay, thanks." she said, looking around. A sign nearby showed she was at the building she wanted so she went in.
Not knowing what else to do she went up to the first person she saw that looked like they worked there. "Um, excuse me, who do I talk to about some bad things that are going on at the Bubble?" she asked.
She seemed completely oblivious to Laura's unique appearance as she said, "And what 'bad things' might these be, miss?" in a way that made it clear she didn't take her seriously.
"I was kidnapped and taken there! They gave me something to turn me into this and were keeping me prisoner. I managed to escape but there were others, too!" Laura replied.
She seemed singularly unimpressed, "Of course. I'll pass this information on to the appropriate people. Thank you for your time." With that she turned back to whatever she'd been doing and ignored Laura completely. Frustrated, she walked out. Guess I'll have to find Kittyhawk. I don't know how to get to the right people and I doubt she believed me. she thought angrily.
Once out of the building she found she had no idea how to find Kittyhawk. She was supposed to be here but she didn't know when. Now what? she wondered as she looked around.
She wandered off away from the crowd while she thought, Should I wait here for her, or should I go looking for her? And if so, where? I can't afford to miss her!
Her musings were interrupted by a small pain in her neck. Looking down she saw a dart fall to her feet. Not this again! she thought with an audible groan, looking around for the shooter.
Sure enough, a man with a rifle was aiming at her from a window two stories up. How did they find me so quickly...unless that woman told them I'm here! Not wanting to fight and maybe miss Kittyhawk because of it, she decided to take this public where she hoped they wouldn't be willing to follow. It worked. Once she was out among the crowd she'd seen earlier he went back inside and she saw no other signs of pursuit.
"Hey, Mom! Look, it's Chrysalis! Do you think she's here with Kittyhawk?" a young boy said, pointing at her.
"Oh, yes, I see. Well, if she's here for Kittyhawk she's already missed her. She just left." his mother said, looking at Laura in surprise.
"Left?! Was she in that limousine?" Laura asked, hitting herself for not finding out who the VIP was.
His mother nodded, "Yes, that was her. Perhaps if you hurry you can find her at the pier where her plane is?"
Laura smiled, "Thanks, I'll do that!" before taking off.
To Be Continued...
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