into the mouth of madness
october cv week

sinister's underground labs are not welcoming: it is a labyrinth. she can see papers here and there, agreements between him and other parties. test tubes, assays, machines whirring over and over. she thinks she sees pieces of glass vibrating in a petri dish, and a tray of different red shades--clearly meant for scott.

it doesn't quite matter.

her feet lead her deeper and deeper into his labs. while the papers mattered, while the glasses mattered, in the long run, they didn't particularly hurt her, worried her. what matters most to her is this: when the various pieces of science experiments beyond her understanding fades away and she sees her own face, reflected over and over again before her.

they are all housed containers, their eyes shut, their red hair flowing down to their elbows, skin pale and almost dead looking. worse is her name on the side, displayed there in stark black and white, followed by numbers, growing longer and longer with every one that she sees. they are not just single digits, they stretch into the triple digits, some of them with additions, long experimental terms with them.

they are her nightmares come to life all at once in front of her. all the reminders of her creation, of being second place to jean, to be endlessly replaceable.

she wants to vomit. she wants to scream. she wants to disassemble them all at once, drive her fists into their faces, unplug every machine--

worse, madelyne wants to approach them. she wants to place her forehead against the cold glass, and look at their faces. she wants to tell them that they matter more than she wants to drive her fist through their faces. she wants to tell them that they could be more, could be alive like her. could live outside of this place, be--

unbidden, the memory of her bargain with the phoenix visits her as she looks upon their pale faces and fiery hair. remembers the phoenix, opposite her, wanting to be one with her. and both of them only agreeing to house her if she could answer their questions, if she could explain their existence, could prove who she was.

the answers hadn't come the way she wanted to. there had been no great understanding, no opening, no easily given answer. some of it had fallen to the wayside in the wake of changes, some of it had simply changed in what she had wanted. but she had never, ever truly forgotten about the bargain, had never really stopped wanting to find answers.

here and now, however, the phoenix stirs, mirrors it's burning visage in the glass before her. there are no words spoken, because none are needed. the phoenix showing up now, sending waves of strength, of confidence, madelyne knew it. that this? this is it. this will be the moment they have wanted, here and now.

the phoenix had known. she had known that this moment was awaited, had known that this confrontation was going to happen. maddy understand that now; it doesn't surprise her that there are other reasons for the phoenix coming to her that wasn't simply just replacing jean. something more was going to happen here, more than maybe her death.

she breathes in and out. the phoenix's form stares back at her.

maddy's fingers reach out to touch the cold glass--

"well, if it isn't my favorite clone," sinister's voice, oily in all of it's slime, slithers out to fill the air. there isn't dread or fear that hits her stomach, only familiar revulsion.

maddy pulls her hand back, and in a second, the sinister sways behind her. his eyes roll back, and blood seeps out of his nose with the magical onslaught that one thought brings.

she isn't even surprised when another voice of sinister follows with, "you have a knack for killing clones despite your own insistence at being a true person. how interesting." maddy tilts her head up, watching at this second clone nudges at the other's corpse. both are dressed in indulgent outfits, mockeries of proper doctors. this one smiles wider, sweeping into a farcical bow. "while i presume it will be tempting to blow off my head, i ask that you at least attempt to let me invite you to the t--urk!"

madelyne cuts him off with the clenching of her fist, squeezed tightly as her telekinesis crushes his windpipe.

he drops, too. she steps over him, aware of the humming technology, of the feel of sinister, the real sinister, ahead. the clones, she dispatches casually as she comes across them, uncaring of the feeling of gore as blood and viscera splatters on her. none of them truly mattered, and sinister knew that.

when the lab finally convalesces into one hallway, long with dark wallpaper and bright lights. there are doors, locked and not a one of them she trusted. only sinister's mental signature lights her way, and with every step, she gets closer and closer.

the phoenix shifts in her, in tandem with the goblyn force. there is no argument between them or her as they get closer and closer. they stop her heart from hammering too hard in her chest, keep her hands from shaking, and molly keeps her back straight.

sinister is waiting for her in a room soaking in purple neon colors, his smile sickly wide. he is surrounded by his other clones, of course: and sickeningly, one of her, her face placid, fingers folded in her lap, her outfit cut in such a way that made it exposing.

"i hope your anger has been somewhat sated, madelyne," the timbre of his voice distracts her from ruining any further clones. the door behind her shuts, and sinister sweeps his arm to the table between them, the mahogany dark. "come. let us talked like civilized people."

madelyne takes a seat before him. she does not smile: she bares her teeth.