"Professor, if she can't speak, how does she communicate?" Scott inquired. Him, along with Professor Charles Xavier and Dr. Hank McCoy were currently waiting in the Professor's office. Jean was soon to arrive with their guest.
"Well Scott, she usually uses sign language. Currently she is working at a school for the deaf."
Scott, although the team leader of the X-Men, was still pretty much in the dark as to exactly who the new arrival was. "But none of us know sign language."
"It appears she is also able to communicate with telepaths," Hank provided.
"So she can only really communicate with the Professor and Jean?"
"Correct," noted Hank. "According to her medical records that we were able to salvage from the destroyed laboratory, she has always been unable to speak. It is quite mysterious; there appears to no scientific explanation for her condition. Of course, if I were able to run a few tests, I might be able to come to some logical conclusions."
Scott was simply getting more confused. The ruby quartz lenses of his glasses hid the frustration in his eyes. "How did she even know Dr. Treager?"
"She didn't Scott." The Professor paused to rub his temple. "I don't really know how to explain this? Dr. Treager as you know was the leader in mutant genetic studies. He had been studying the genetic structure and evolution of mutants for over thirty years."
"Yes," agreed Hank, "there are very few scientists who have come close to attaining his understanding of mutant genetics."
"What does that have to do with her?"
The Professor and Hank looked at each other. Hank decided to answer. "Well, to put it in plain terms, she was an experiment of his."
"An experiment? What, do you mean he created her." To Scott this was just getting more confusing.
Hank picked up a folder from atop the Professor's desk. "It appears the assailants did not manage to steal all of Dr. Treager's files. A partial file was discovered concerning our soon to arrive guest. What I discovered was fascinating, despite the incompleteness of the information. She appears to be a genetic experiment that was created over twenty years ago. A prediction, if you will, of the evolution of mutants. We do not, however, know much aside from that, not even what her mutation may be."
The Professor looked at Scott. "We believe it is in her best interest that we keep her under our protection until we discover who it was that murdered Dr. Treager. If she was part of his experiments, there may be other information in the stolen files that could put her in danger. It is obvious these people will go to any extreme to obtain what they want.
"I'm still confused. So, she's a mutant?"
"We're assuming she is. Which is quite peculiar," Hank said, scratching his blue-furred temple with a claw.
"Why is that?"
"Because," the Professor answered, "we don't think she knows what her mutation is either."
"Well then how—" But Scott was cut off by a knock on the door.
"Come in." said the Professor.
The door opened and in walked Jean. The young woman that had been the topic of their conversation came in right behind. She was fairly short, with black shoulder-length hair. It was currently covered with a beat-up baseball hat that obstructed the view of her face. Those attributes, along with her rough jeans and oversized sweatshirt, only complimented the look that of a little girl. When she lifted her head to meet their eyes, their immediate first impression of her totally changed. Her ocean-blue eyes were not that of a little girl's; they contained a mature confidence and wisdom.
"Retley Marks, I presume." She looked at Charles and nodded. 'Yes' she answered back, at least to him and Jean, since only telepaths could hear her thoughts. So, the Professor thought, she could communicate with telepaths. "I am Professor Charles Xavier," he said out loud," This is Dr. Hank McCoy and Scott Summers. And you've already met Jean, Scott's wife."
She nodded to each of them, then turned back the Professor. Her face looked calm, but both Jean and Charles could sense that she was rather nervous, and at least a little curious.
"I am sure you are wondering exactly why you are here." Her response was another nod, followed by another telepathic 'Yes'.
"Have you ever know someone named Dr. Treager?" She shook her head, her face taking on a puzzled "Why?" expression.
Hank took the liberty of answering her unspoken question. "He is, or should I say was, one of the best scientists on mutant genetics and evolution. He was discovered at his lab a few days ago—murdered. All of his medical files and research data were stolen, everything else was destroyed."
She looked back at the Professor. 'What does this have to do with me?' Only he and Jean were able to hear her question, so Charles answered. "Well, Miss Marks, he knew you, when you were very young. We believe his association with you may have put you in danger."
Her brows came together in a confused look. 'I don't understand. How did he know me?'
"I'm afraid I cannot tell you at this time." She gave an exasperated sigh. 'Why?'
Charles though for a moment. How could he explain it to her now? How could he tell her she was a genetic experiment, created in a lab, and in order to protect her from falling into the wrong hands she was sent away to be raised at a school for the deaf? He, and even Hank, one of the most brilliant scientists in the world, didn't understand all of this yet. At least they couldn't without Dr. Treager's missing files, which were now probably in the possession of some very dangerous people. Hank assumed she had some sort of powerful, maybe even extremely dangerous, mutation, since she was supposed to be an advanced mutant. There were too many unanswered questions. All he could say was, "I have to ask you to trust us. Because of Dr. Treager's murder and his association with you, we have reason to believe that the people who were after him may come after you. We feel that it would be safest for you to stay here with us, at least until we figure out who these people are and what they want."
She still had the confused and frustrated look on her face. 'What about my job at the school?'
"You will have to leave your position for the time being. I'm sure they will understand." She couldn't believe this! They hadn't even told her everything yet and she couldn't comprehend what was happening. A few days ago she was living her boring routine life. Now some scientist, who she hadn't even met, gets murdered and now the bad guys might be after her. But why? What would they want with her? She was just an ordinary person. Well, she thought, not so ordinary; she couldn't even speak.
She assumed they knew more than they were letting on, but for some reason they weren't telling her. There were so many questions she wanted to ask, but wouldn't be getting any answers now. But she felt she could trust them, well, at least Charles Xavier. He had been to the school on several occasions. He had also made several hefty donations. He was known throughout the community as a very kind and generous man.
Charles could see she was thinking hard. He didn't have to read her mind to know she had a lot on it. He couldn't blame her.
'I just wish you were able to tell me everything.' She looked at him, calm and collected once again.
'I'm sorry I can't at this time, but I assure you we will eventually.' Charles answered back telepathically.
She glanced over at Hank, Scott, then Jean, and then back to the Professor. She nodded, shoulders slightly slumping in defeat. 'Okay, I'll stay.'
The Professor nodded back, breaking his regal expression with a slight smile. "I'm glad. There is much we need to go over, but we can do that another time. I am sure you are tired from the trip and will want to get somewhat settled in before dinner." He turned to Jean. "Jean, will you please show Miss Marks her room?"
"Yes, Professor." She turned to Retley, giving her a warm smile and gesturing toward the door. Retley nodded her farewell and followed Jean out the door.
What was she getting herself into?
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