Down the Dark Path– by Victor Moore
DISCLAIMER: Marvel owns everyone, except Sakura, Agent Li, and the old woman, they're mine. No money will be made from this. This is for enjoyment purposes only. Yada, Yada, Yada.
"What was the toast I just missed?" Elisabeth asked with a light smile, while reclaiming her seat in the wooden booth next to Jean.
"A toast to the X-Men who don't die the old fashioned way." Ororo answered returning the smile.
"Sounds interesting." Mused Elisabeth who tapped her glass of ice tea to Ororo's glass, then Jean's. "To the X-Men."
Their lunch was almost finished. As usual, the food at Harry's Hideaway always seemed to be more than one could eat. Only Ororo was the closest to finishing. All that remained on her plate was a some fries, while Jean and Elisabeth still had at least a third of their salad left. Rubbing her stomach, Ororo let out a pleased sigh. "I can't believe I ate so much."
"I can." Jean said with a smile. Turning to Elisabeth, "I'm glad that you've decided to come back, Betsy."
"Me too. Though truth be told, I was a little shocked when you showed up this morning in a new body." Ororo warmly stated.
"Look who's calling the kettle black. I used to look up to you, now I have to look down at you." She said with a short laugh.
The other two women laughed. They both had on similar brown leather jackets with patches on the right shoulder stating, 'Xavier's School for Gifted Children'.
A minute later, Elisabeth looked into her drink uncomfortably.
Jean lightly gripped her hand and asked, "What's wrong Betsy?"
"A lot of things, Jean." Turning to Ororo, she looked in her eyes and said softly, "I'm sorry, Ororo."
"I failed the X-Men during your absence."
"By telepathically coercing the remaining X-Men into the Siege Perilous, against their will."
"Betsy…" Jean said empathetically.
"Please Red, let me finish." The red haired woman nodded with understanding. "I had no right to deceive them like that, but it was the only way."
"Only way to what?" Ororo asked.
"To save them. The Reavers were coming and we were outmatched and in no shape to fight."
"So, you did what you thought was necessary."
"And you feel guilty for your actions."
"Yes." Elisabeth answered with watery eyes.
"And you want me to forgive you?"
"I'm sorry Betsy, but I can't."
Shocked, she asked, "Why?"
Ororo put her hand on Elisabeth's and stated gently, "Because, there's nothing to forgive. If Scott or I were there and faced the same situation, we would have chosen the same path as you. That decision saved lives."
"But I still feel guilty for what I have done."
"For using your powers? To save their lives? Betsy, what you're feeling, all of us have felt at some point. Scott has, I have, even Captain America has."
"That there was a better choice. A way to win the battle. You keep going over the decision, trying to think of a new one. But guess what, it was the right choice." "I violated them, Storm. I forced them."
"There was no time for discussion. You know it and I know it. Telepathy was the only way to get them to safety quickly. I would have used hurricane winds and ice to force them in the Siege. Scott would have done what he could with his powers.
"Yes, the decision hurts, and when the time comes, it will again. But we need to learn and move on. The moment you let any incident haunt you for eternity, then all the choices you make, will be based off that. It's a road that leads to pain and misfortune."
"I… I understand, and thank you." Elisabeth stated squeezing Ororo's hand. The pain of what she did was not completely gone, but now she felt better about it. Elisabeth paid the bill, over the protests of the others, then donned her long black leather trenchcoat and some dark shades.
"That's a beautiful coat, Betsy. I love it. Wouldn't look good on me though, winter colors never do." Jean stated.
"Especially black lingerie." Ororo joked.
Jean blushed, then laughed. Looking at a confused Elisabeth, she said, "Sorry that was way before your time with the X-Men."
"Jubilee picked it out for me, she said I would look 'cool' in it."
"It's good to see that she is still with you. Though she can be a trifle loud at times." Jean stated with a chuckle.
"This is all too true. I have even erected new psionic shields so some of her loud thoughts would not catch me off guard. She's worth it though." Elisabeth stretched her arms in the air as her back made little popping noises, causing Jean to flinch. "It is too bad Kitty headed back to Excalibur when they reappeared yesterday. The two of them became good friends."
"That's great. When you were unconscious, the only two people she'd open up to were Ben and Franklin."
After exiting the building, they walked leisurely back to Xaiver's estate. The wind tugged at their long strands of hair, Elisabeth's coat tails, Ororo's yellow scarf, and Jean's long tan skirt and red scarf.
"Jean, Ororo. There is something I need to tell you. I thought I could handle this alone. I wanted to. Now I realise that I can't."
Both ladies turned to her and saw the other woman tears start to fall from under the glasses.
"Betsy… You don't have to do this if you don't want to." Jean said and put a concerned hand on her shoulder.
"I have to, Jean. I need to share this with someone, or I am going to go mad. Please tell no one of what I am going to tell you, especially Brian or Jubilee."
"Promise." Ororo said while Jean nodded.
She took a deep breath to gather whatever courage she had, then said softly, "I can not… I can not have any… any children."
"Goddess, no." Ororo whispered with hands covering her mouth.
"Are you sure?" Jean asked, her green eyes wide with shock.
"Yes, Dr. Richards discovered this from all my medical examines."
"Maybe he made a mistake." Jean said in disbelief. "All we have to do is get a second opinion, and…"
"No mistake Red," Elisabeth balled up her fists. "The bloody Hand knew exactly what they were doing." She punched the tree next to her hard. "Damn them!" She hit the oak several more times with a curse until her sorrow sapped her strength and she fell to her knees.
Jean took off her scarf and tore it in half. Then she wrapped them around the knuckles of Elisabeth's bleeding hands. "I'm so sorry, Betsy. I don't know what to say." Her eyes began to water as she hugged her friend. Ororo also hugged her as well.
After a few minutes, they got up, and Elisabeth thanked them. "I better head back and get proper bandages on these." She said as she held out her hands. "I owe you a new scarf, Jean. See you two later." She kissed them both on the cheek and gave them each a final hug.
The two women watched her leave in silence.
In the underground complex of the ruins of Xavier's Mansion, Elisabeth examined her bandaged hands. Sean had firmly put the white bandages on while stating that a tree was not a proper object to punch. Currently Cable and Forge were in a heated discussion about scheduling times for the Danger Room. Sean had joined them, adding his own opinions about the subject.
"Is it really you, ma'am?" Samuel Guthrie asked with scrutinizing eyes.
"Yes Sam, it is me. My, you have grown in the last year or so."
"Just a little, ma'am. How have you been?"
"I have been better. It is good to see you again." She really did not want to go into details about the past few months, not again. Luckily, she did not have to.
"A beautiful voice to match a beautiful woman, chere." The stranger in the brown trenchcoat stated with a thick Cajun accent and a hint of charm. "De name's Gambit."
"Hullo Gambit, I am Psylocke." She shook his extended hand.
"Dat's your working name, what's de real one, chere?"
With a coy smile she answered, "what is yours, mon ami?"
"Touché." He was about to say something else, but she cut him off.
"Sean! There are hostile thoughts on the surface. The kids are in danger!" As if to punctuate the sentence, the intruder alarms rang throughout the complex.
Cable, Forge, and Elisabeth grabbed the large menacing rifles on the weapons rack and head with the others to the access hatch. It opened before they got there, and Stevie Hunter in her floral bathing suit, fell into Cable's arms. The hatch closed with a loud 'click'.
As she helped Stevie to the infirmary, Elisabeth could feel the minds of the children disappear one by one. She tried to shut down the minds of the hostile persons with her powers, but something prevented her from doing so. They were wearing some sort of psionic protection. Panic began to consume her as she felt the fear in Jubilee increase. Then, in an instant, all thoughts from the surface vanished. "NO!!!" She screamed and fell to her knees.
"What's wrong, chere?" Gambit asked trying to help her up.
She grabbed his jacket and pulled him close. "She's gone. They are all gone."
"The children. Jubilee and the others." She let go of him and stood up with a firm determination in her brown eyes. Balling up her fist, she said flatly, "I fought so hard for her, I can't lose her now. The monsters that took her will pay! I swear it. I do not care what it takes, I will get her back!"
Gambit took a step back. The beautiful woman with purple hair he had talked to earlier, had changed into something else. What he now saw, was a lioness that had lost her cub. The change was so quick, so complete that it frightened him for a second. And he was not a man who gave in into fear easily.
X-Men Mission Record #0270-0272
Codename: X-Tinction Agenda
Addendum by: E. Braddock
"Cyclops had paired me with Gambit. We were to be the reconnaissance unit. After finding Boom Boom, Rictor, and Jubilee, who had managed to escape and were avoiding patrols, I attempted to report this to Scott, only to discover that his team had been captured. I instructed the kids to make their way back to X-Factor's plane, and gave them directions with my telepathy. Then Gambit and I infiltrated the Citadel.
"We found Havok, who was a Magistrate. Quickly, we knocked him out and we dragged him back outside the building, where I could use my telepathic abilities without setting off any alarms. Successfully eliminating the Genoshan programming and restoring his original memories, Havok joined us as we went back in to free the others. We ran into Storm and her keeper, and rescued them from Hodge. Rushing to the others, Storm, now in her adult form, was able to restore their powers. Hodge was seemingly destroyed in the following skirmish.
"The price for this engagement was too high. If only we could have prevented this from happening, Warlock and Rahne Sinclair would still be alive, but they are gone. Forever. We can not let it happen again."
"Tell me have you called your Brother yet?" Jean asked while the hot water cascaded over her. Steam from the hot shower hid most of Jean's nakedness. The women's section of the underground complex at Xavier's, had a large communal shower room, but at the moment, only one showerhead worked.
Leaning against the opposite tiled wall, Elisabeth conjured up images in their minds, of Brian, of how she now looked, and of Jean's and hers first meeting so many years ago. "And say what? Hullo twin, guess who this is, back from the dead, just like you!"
"He has to know Elisabeth. He's your brother."
"I know, I know." Sighing she sat down on the floor. Her blue and yellow X-Men uniform unbuttoned around the neck, groaned quietly at the movement. "I love him dearly…"
"But I would have to tell him what happened to me. The change is not that big of a problem, in fact it is more bearable now because I know that this is my real body."
"Then what's the problem?"
"... the pain."
Elisabeth looked around the room and checked the surrounding area with her powers. They were alone. "It hurts, Jean. I was so easily controlled by the Hand. For years, I worked so hard to be so strong, that nothing could hurt me ever again. And they just waltzed past my defenses and took me."
"You were a blank slate, just like Alex was, when you came out of the Siege Perilous, it's not your fault." Jean said as she stopped washing her hair and looked at the other woman.
"That's not the point." She looked into her green eyes and saw that Jean did not fully understand. "Did you know that I was almost raped once?" Seeing the shocked expression on her face, Elisabeth continued. "A long time ago, I let my guard down. I did not realise that the man who had my brother's face was a doppelganger from another dimension. He… he tried to rape me, just as he did his own sister before he killed her. I saw that in his mind, and all of the other evils he had done."
"Oh my god!" Jean gasped in the smallest of voices.
"When Brian came back, he tried to be understanding. He always does. But he unconsciously treated me like a delicate porcelain doll, making sure I would not break or chip. It was infuriating. Now, my self esteem, my inner strength has been ripped away by the Hand."
"And you feel that Brian would treat you the same way again?"
"… Yes. Which is why I asked Kitty not to tell him just yet that I am still alive."
Turning off the water, Jean grabbed a white towel and proceeded to dry herself off. "Hmmm… I see your point. But your twins, surely you both have some psychic connection that would alert him if you're still alive. Right?"
"Yes, he can sense when I'm in danger, while I have a vague impression of him somewhere over there." Elisabeth said as she stood up, closed her eyes, and pointed northeastward. Her brows furrowed. "That's strange…"
"I sense another presence…"
"Here!?" Jean asked as she telekinetically wrapped the towel around her.
"No, very far away. Somewhere…" She slowly moved her hand southeast. "… There! Bloody hell! It's Logan. Somehow, I still have a connection with him! It's very faint, but it's definitely him. Do you realise what this means, Jean?"
"There is still a chance to save him." Jean nodded with understanding. She put a hand on Elisabeth's shoulder and stated, "when you go to rescue him, I will join you. I'm sure Ororo will too."
"Thank you, Jean. And thanks for being here."
In the Danger Room, Jubilee sat in the control booth as she watched Gambit and Henry McCoy below run through a practice session. A simple game of tag, in a war torn city circa the 1920's, complete with sounds and soldiers. At first she thought the blue furry doctor was going to win, but the Cajun proved to be quite adept at sticking to the shadows, like a cat stalking its prey.
The door into the booth quietly slid open. Scott Summers and Warren Worthington strode in. The man with the red sunglasses nodded at her then turned his attention to the scene below. With Warren, it seemed his indigo costume lined with reddish patterns grasped at whatever shadows there were to hide its owner.
"Who's it?" Scott asked while examining the controls.
"The babbling furball." She stated crossing her arms. "Do you guys always wear your union suits, or did your normal clothes shrink in the wash?"
Warren shot her a look that would freeze molten lava, but said nothing.
"Depends on whose asking." Scott answered without taking his eyes off the game below.
"Well yours looks pretty stupid, if you ask me. I mean blue and white may work fine in scaring robots and buildings, but the regulars would laugh behind your back. Maybe if you had a variation of Irish's with a nice leather jacket, like Indy's, that would make you look good. After all you got a cute tush and the g-thing would show it off nicely." An explosion from below lit up the room in a reddish-orange tint, but she was sure he was blushing.
"Err… what about him?" Scott asked.
"His is cool." She saw Warren relax a bit. "I mean, it's dark and menacing. It has that scare factor so his enemies won't have clean underwear after seeing it. They'll be scared sh…"
"I get the point." Scott interrupted.
"Yeah, but wait till he smiles, they'll laugh so hard, they'll pee their pants. One smile would ruin the whole 'ooh I'm sooo scary' routine."
"This from a person who wears a bright yellow trenchcoat." Warren mumbled.
Jubilee sprang to her feet, and stared into his eyes. "You dissin' my jacket Tweety!?"
Before he could answer, Scott said, "Henry's going to win."
"Is not, Gumbos got him beat hands down." Jubilee stated.
"You think so?"
"I know so!"
"Unlike you guys and furball down there, he has great fashion sense, not to mention a totally awesome trenchcoat." Smiling, she asked, "furball has what? Underoos?"
"How much are you willing to bet on it?" Warren asked flatly.
"Warren!? She's just a kid! She doesn't have…" Scott stammered out only to be interrupted by the person he was trying to protect.
"How much you got?"
"For you, a thousand dollars if you win."
"And if I lose?"
"No, I can't." She whispered softly. It was her only physical reminder of Logan.
"Why not? It's only a piece of clothing."
"Warren…" Scott tried to stop this but stop as suddenly new sources of light began to erupt around the young girl.
"It's more than that! You, of all people would never understand!" Jubilee answered strongly as the colors from her pyrokentic bursts grew brighter.
"That's why you hang around others and let them make the hard choices, you don't have faith in your own decisions."
"I do so!"
She stared at him with all of her strength. Without saying a word, she took off her jacket and gave it to Scott.
"Jubilee…" He started to protest, but one look from her and he understood she had to do this. Win or lose, she had to. Scott suddenly looked at the young girl with respect. He nodded to her then held out a hand to Warren, who proceed to put ten new one hundred dollar bills in it.
The three of them watched the game below with interest. They saw how Gambit moved in and out of the shadows and dodge Hanks leaps. Hank, as usual, tried to engage the other contestant in conversation, but to no avail. Both men had considerate experience and hardened skills in battle. It would be close.
And it was. Gambit ended it with Hank pinned to the ground with his staff. "Bang! You dead!"
Jubilee smiled and breathed a sigh of relief. "Sorry tweety", she stated as she grabbed her coat and the money from Scott, "but the fat lady just sung and it was sweet."
Warren just smiled back, then left the room. Scott patted her on the shoulder and followed his friend.
"Definitely a cute behind." She said as she watched him leave. He must of heard her because just before the door closed, he stumbled slightly.
Weeds had started to grow on the remaining stone fragments of the once beautiful Mansion. Elisabeth leaned up against the remains of a brick wall, looked out over the grounds, and saw the last colors of a muted sunset streak the sky. Ororo, Jean, and Scott were still conversing on top a small hill. Nearby, Sean and Forge were talking, while Gambit silently observed everybody. Jubilee popped the pink bubble her gum had made next to her.
"I don't see why I gotta' wear this stupid thing." The young girl said while tugging at the blue and yellow X-Men uniform.
"We're a team now mes braves, shouldn't we look the part, n'est ce pas?" Gambit stated as he walked over to Sean. The only ones not wearing the uniforms were Ororo, Scott, and Jean.
Jubilee let out a small sigh. "I hate 'em. I want my old colors back."
"I'm sorry. I would not of forced them on you if they were not so resilient." Elisabeth stated as she rubbed the bridge of her nose.
"S'okay." Looking at the clouds, Jubilee asked, "Betts, what are we doing here? I mean I thought we were going to free Logan. But ever since we got here, we haven't done so."
"We will rescue him, on that you have my word. However, as much as I want to do it right now, this very minute, we can not. When we finally do go, we will need help. The two of us alone can not hope to do so, not against the Hand."
"So were recruiting help, then?"
"Yes. So far, Jean and Kitty have agreed to aid us. I think we will need some more though. The other thing is, we have to know where exactly he is when we get him. After all, it would be sort of embarrassing to go rescue an individual, only to find he's not there."
"I see your point. But that doesn't mean we have to join this outfit, right?"
"No, but in a way I feel that here is the best place for me, Jubilee. Even with some of the mistakes I made in the past, I feel as if I belong here." She put a hand on the young girl's shoulder. "If you do not want to stay, then we will leave."
Jubilee looked into the older woman's eyes. "You would give up the X-Men to be with me?"
"In a heartbeat."
"Because… because you are my partner. You stood by my side, when I was injured and seemingly in Death's cold hands. How could I abandon you, when I owe you so much." Elisabeth squeezed the young girl's shoulder.
"I wasn't planning on leaving any way. Though now I wish I hadn't been so hard on Tweety and Scotty." After a moment of silence, she asked, "How do we now where he is?"
"The X-Men have a machine called Cerbreo, which can track any mutant anywhere on Earth. I had hope to use this to find Logan."
"Jean and I found out that by using it, you can be stalked and tracked by a dark and evil presence. It almost captured Jean. We decided that the machine should not be used, it is far too dangerous."
"Well so much for that idea. Maybe we could throw a dart at a spinning globe and go to where it hit." Jubilee said sarcastically.
The sound of approaching footfalls turned their attention to Ororo, who was clad in her dark leather outfit with a lightning bolt streaming down the front. The cape trailed in the wind behind her when she stopped in front of Elisabeth. She smiled at her then turned to her partner. "Jubilation, I think Gambit has a question for you."
Jubilee looked quickly at Gambit who was motioning her to come over. Then she turned to Elisabeth, who nodded. Without a word, she went to him.
"Gambit really did not need to talk to her, did he?" The dark purple haired woman asked, as she watched her young partner talking with wild gestures.
"Not until I asked him to." Examining the X-Men one by one, she stated, "This is a new team Elisabeth. New faces. Sean, Forge, and even Gambit are veterans in the use of their powers and combat skills. I know they can handle the pressures and situations we'll undoubtedly run into, but can she? Are we taking too great a risk?"
"I believe in her. I have seen her fight, be brave, and be afraid. She may be a trite rambunctious at times, but in some ways she is as much of a veteran as they are."
"By the goddess I hope so." Ororo took a deep breath as she turned to face Elisabeth. "There will be times in a crisis when I won't be available to make decisions. In the past, I relied on Logan to be my second." She put a hand on her shoulder and continued, "I want you to be person. What do you say Psylocke, will you be my second-in-command?"
"Why… why me? Surely Sean would be a better choice."
"Sean is experienced, yes. But before and after Dallas, Logan and I had already chosen you for that position. In some ways, we started training you for it."
Ororo cut her off with a simple wave of her hand. "Elisabeth, you know firsthand the reality of making hard decisions.
"Do you remember the conversation we had with Logan on the cliff over there?" She pointed to the location.
Brushing the bangs from her face, Elisabeth looked over to the top of the cliff overlooking the ocean below. She could picture the scene in her mind.
The sun was setting in all of it splendor. Pink and orange hues danced along the clouds in the sky. Standing at the edge of the cliff and looking out over the ocean with the giant ball of light sinking lower and lower into the horizon, was Elisabeth.
For all the majesty and beauty of this moment in time, she did not witness it. "I'm afraid I still don't understand how we won. Mojo reduced the X-Men to infancy and then grew us up again. We were indoctrinated, in a sense. Our entire lives to be his slaves. Yet we rebelled."
"Has to do with who we are, darlin'. An' why we're X-Men." Logan said while fishing his cigar from his jean pocket.
"There is more to it than simply possessing super-powers. To be an X-Men means possessing a strength of will, of self-identity, that nothing can subvert. Mojo never realized it is something pure and incorruptible in our primal selves that makes us what we are." Ororo saw Elisabeth turn to her as Logan lit his cigar. "It is why you may belong, Elisabeth, and some of the New Mutants, despite their courage, may not. For better or worse, being an X-Men means not being born a mutant, but a hero."
"Different context then, different times. The world's a harsher place now, the bad guys destroy and kill with no remorse. They murder children, Ororo. Innocents like Rahne, Warlock, and poor sweet Doug. To be a hero was all he wanted, and yet he was slain, in cold blood. Do those words still give us meaning, a sense of purpose?"
"Yes they do. Doug died, but as I was told, it was to save a life. He knew the risks, and he made his choice. The same decision you made concerning the Siege. You saved lives. Now do those words still have meaning to you, my friend?"
"… Yes." She responded weakly, then again with conviction, "Yes I do. If you will still have me, I would be honoured to be your second."
Ororo offered her hand, and the other woman clasped it firmly. "Elisabeth..."
"We're friend's 'Ro, it's Betsy."
"Betsy, Jean told me that when the time was right, you're going to try and rescue Logan. When that time comes, I am yours as well."
"Thank you. You do not know how much that means to me."
Suddenly a screeching red Ferrari raced across the dirt and grass, sliding to a stop about fifty feet away from them. Ororo rushed over to the car, while its driver frantically leapt out to greet her.
When Elisabeth and the others caught up with her, Lila Cheney, in her white skirt with dark blue polka dots, teleported herself and the X-Men off the face of the Earth.
X-Men Mission Record #0275-0277
Codename: War-Skrull Conspiracy
Addendum by: O. Munroe
"I still had reservations about Jubilee being on the team. She was, at times, a distraction throughout the beginning of the incident. Though, through her and Gambit we found out about the War-Skrull's secretive attempt to take control of the Shi'ar Empire. I see why Elisabeth has put faith in her, like the rest of us, she has a strong sense of self and willpower.
"I was glad Elisabeth had been able to capture Deathbird at the beginning. Out of all the X-Men I've known, I assumed that Logan would have been the only one to take her on. It was a surprise to see Elisabeth bring her in telepathic tow before the mad woman could escape.
"We need to set up some Danger Room exercises in order to gauge both women's fighting potentials."
X-Men Mission Record #0278-0280
Codename: The Muir Isle Saga
Addendum by: J. Lee
"Don't wanna' talk about it."
Author's Note: I opted to use real lines and scenes in this chapter, so the story would still follow X-Men History. I believe that in most cases, events would turn out the same, just in a slightly different way.
For those paying attention, the begining segment all takes place throughout UXM #270. The next segment relied on issue #273. The flashback was UXM Annual #10 (My second favorite X-Men issue, New Mutants Annual #2 being number one of course!) The X-Men Mission Record numbers represent the UXM issues the incident took place
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