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.

CHAPTER VIII:

Faces. Lifeless faces covered in blood floated around her. Old and young, male and female, with screams forever etched into them. Blood covered her hands and feet. It flowed up her arms and legs like snakes on a branch. In less then a second or maybe it was for an hour, she could not tell, it made its way up her naked body. Her vision turned red, as the red liquid began to flow into her eyes. The bitter coppery taste of it ravaged her tongue as it slid into her mouth and down her throat. Falling to her knees, her stomach heaved. She vomited it out in ragged stages. When it was all out, her stomach continued the purging for what felt like hours. Her vision cleared, as the thick foreign liquid shot forth from her eyes, and joined the pile on the floor.

The faces still hung there around her, as the blood leapt from them into the pool. It started to bubble and slowly expanded, coalescing into the shape of man. It towered over her and threw its head back in a silent laugh that made her skin crawl. She was too weak to attack it, so she ran, into the darkness. A stream of red liquid shot past and formed the same man in front of her. Claws extended from his hands and raked her chest.

Her blood sprayed forth and joined his. The faces smiled sinisterly, but now there were only three, three girls. He then drove his claws into her eyes. They screamed, he screamed, she screamed…

…And bolted from her bed. Elisabeth slowly regained her senses. She was in her room at the newly renovated Xavier's-Mansion. The clock on the wooden dresser read twelve minutes passed four in the afternoon. Sunlight flickering through the window by trees being swayed in the wind also confirmed the time. She ran her fingers through her dark purple hair, only to discover it was soaked with sweat. In fact, her whole body was covered with perspiration, and the clothes she wore were drenched.

All she had wanted was a quick nap after a strenuous workout in the Danger Room and a refreshing shower. When she lied back on her bed, she fell asleep instantly. That was at two o'clock. Remembering the dream in all of its gory clarity, she could not help but shudder with a sense of dread. What it meant was clear. Time was running out. If she did not free Logan soon, he would be forever lost.

The door to her room flew open, which caused her to involuntary jump. "Jubilee, you scared the bloody daylights out of me!"

Holding her head with one hand, she rushed to her side. "Funny, I could say the same."

"What do you mean?" Elisabeth asked with a puzzled expression.

"Dat was some scream, chere. My head's still pounding." Gambit said from the doorway.

"Everyone felt it, Betts. Even chrome dome!" Jubilee stopped and starred at her. "Betts, you're bleeding!"

"What!?" She licked her lips, felt the lower one sting, and tasted blood. "I must have bitten my lip while I was dreaming."

"Thanks Gumbo," Jubilee said as she took a red bandanna from him and wiped the blood from Elisabeth. "You okay Betts?"

"It was so real." She looked at Jubilee and rested a hand on her shoulder. "I am fine, Jubilee. Just had a nightmare, that's all."

"What was it about? C'mon spill."

Shivering at the imagery, Elisabeth opted not to go into detail. She simply stated, "I saw my death."

"Whoa. Sorry I asked." The young girl stated quietly.

"Chere? Would you like me to get you some water, or something stronger?"

"While your at it Gumbo, can you get me a soda?" Jubilee asked with a smile, then turned to Elisabeth. The older woman backed up so quickly, that she fell off the bed. "What's wrong?"

The image that startled her was gone. Jubilee's face was one of the three in the final act of her dream. Standing up and rubbing her bottom with one hand, she saw Jubilee staring at her with a concerned expression on her face. Gambit silently watched with curiosity. "Sorry, Jubilee. I think the nightmare unhinged me more than I previously thought."

"Which means I was in it, right?"

"Yes. There was you, Kitty, and a red haired girl, you were all in it. Or I should say your faces were. Floating and smiling, and screaming when I did." The shiver the memory produced did not escape Jubilee's attention.

"That sounds like a whopper of a scare. Y'know, maybe you should talk about it."

"Thank you for the offer, but I'm sure it means nothing." Deciding to change the subject, Elisabeth stated, "now I need to change clothes. I will see you downstairs."

"Okay Betts." Jubilee said then left.

Gambit looked at her once more then turned to leave as well. He stopped when she called for him. "Yes, chere?"

"Thank you."

"What for?"

"Being a friend to her. She needs friends now, more than ever."

"Why?"

It was a simple question. But it was one Elisabeth could not answer. "I don't know. It's just, I feel that something bad is going to happen."

"De nightmare tell you dis?"

"… Yes." She wrapped her arms around herself and looked at the floor when she answered. Then she looked into his red eyes.

He had never seen that expression on her before. It was fear. Her eyes were wide with it. "Den as long as she wants to, her friend I'll be. You have my word on it."

A sense of relief came over her. "Thank you."

The smell of peroxide assaulted her when she entered the Medical wing of the Mansion. Jean Grey was sitting on the bed, while Doctor Henry McCoy was applying the medicine to Jean's knee. His large furry blue hand gently dabbed the wound with a strip of gauze. Jean's winced and inhaled sharply when it connected.

"What happened?"

"Hello, my fair Elisabeth. Ms. Grey here, while transporting exotic items of sustenance in the recycled carcasses of trees, ironically stumbled over an outgrowth of a genus Abies. Needless to say, she is now in my tender care."

"In other words, I tripped over a root while carrying groceries." Jean winced again and promptly but playfully smacked the top of Henry's head. "That's it. I'm giving your chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream to Jubilee." Henry looked at her with big puppy dog eyes and drooping ears. Sighing, Jean scratched his head, her fingers playing through the luxurious blue hair. "Oh, all right, you can have the ice cream." Henry beamed at her like a child who just received a birthday present. It brought out a chuckle from both women. Turning to Elisabeth, she stated, "I guess I missed the excitement today."

"It was just a little nightmare, that's all."

"Maybe, but when everyone here, yours truly included of course, gets jolted by Elisabeth's psionic scream, we in the scientific community, tend to label it as 'excitement'." Hank stated with a smile.

"That bad?"

* Worse. I will tell you later, I promise. *

* I'll hold you to it. * Jean smiled.

Wrapping the wound with white medical bandages, he joked, "Sorry Jean, we're all out of the dinosaur Band-Aids you like so much."

With all of the maturity and poise she could muster, Jean stuck her lower lip out in a pout.

"Now see here young lady, that may work with 'fearless leader', but I assure you that I am immune to such antics." Impossibly, the pout became deeper. "Okay, okay." He rummaged through his white lab coat and pulled something out. "Here you go, here's a lollipop."

Elisabeth could not contain her laughter anymore. The other two laughed with her.

"It's good to hear you laugh Betsy." Jean said while putting a hand on her shoulder. "We should see it more often, it looks good on you."

After a couple of deep breaths, Elisabeth stated, "Thank you Red. Henry, I would like to borrow Jean, if you finished with her that is." She noticed that he was staring at her. An image of her in an outlandish costume leaked from his otherwise guarded thoughts. Smiling, she asked, "Henry?" When his eyes snapped into focus, she continued, "is she done?"

"Err… yes she is."

Just before the women exited the room, Elisabeth turned around and asked, "Henry, why were you picturing me with a cheerleader uniform?" Before he could stammer out an answer, she left with a large smile on her face.

"Betsy, how could you?" Jean asked, her serious tone betrayed by the amusement in her eyes.

"It was just a stray thought I gleamed from him."

"Still, it was not appropriate." She giggled. "I didn't think it was possible for him to blush like that."

As they made their way to the communications room, Scott Summers greeted them as they passed by. * Oh, that reminds me, Betsy. Could you ask Jubilee to go a little easy on him, please? *

* How so? *

* She keeps embarrassing him by stating that he has, in her words, "a cute tush". *

Elisabeth looked back at him as he turned the corner. "She's right you know. He does have a cute bum."

"Not you too!" Seeing her smile, Jean conceded. "It is, isn't it? But he's so self-conscious that he started wearing those yellow briefs over his uniform."

"That's too bad. To cover up one of his greatest assets like that."

"BETSY!?"

"Sorry, Jubilee must be influencing me more than I thought. I will talk to her."

"Thank you."

Upon entering the communications room, they sat down and Elisabeth psionically showed Jean in depth the clarity of her nightmare. The other woman's posture began to stiffen as she slowly backed into her seat as far as it would let her. Perspiration beaded on her forehead, her green eyes widened with fear, then winced as if something ran into them. When it was over, she was gasping for breath and her stomach tied itself into knots.

"That… that was dreadful. What do you think it means?"

"That time is running out for us, and Logan."

"Thus the bloody image of him. How much time do we have?"

"I don't know. Maybe a week or two, but no more than three, that I know for certain."

Jean put her hands on her knees, and asked quietly, "why the dream? Why now?"

"I've had other dreams about Logan before, but they were just him passing, a word here, a gesture there. Nothing substantial, nothing violent. I think due to the Shadow King's death, the astral plane is repairing itself. I can sense him much clearer now than before. Jean, I recognised the faces of Jubilee and Katherine, but who was the third? I thought it might be you."

"No, not me. Look at the images, somehow they're a piece to the puzzle. They're all young girls and important to him in some way. You're a player too, an important part. It's still too vague, as if the final piece is hidden, waiting to be revealed when the time is right."

"Regardless, we half to act quickly. I think we should try to capture him in a week's time. We sneak in, grab him, and sneak out. It will be easier to proceed with the restoration of his memories if we controlled the environment."

"Agreed. That means a small group then. Who's committed to helping us?"

Counting of the people on her fingers, Elisabeth stated, "there's Ororo, Katherine, you, Jubilee, Gambit, Rogue, and myself makes seven."

"Sounds good, I think we should have one more, a pilot, in case things get out of hand."

"Good idea, I will ask Sean."

Katherine Pryde stared out over the rocky coast, watching the waves crash upon the rocks. Sitting on some rocks, the spray from below reached her with its dampness. It did not affect her for her thoughts were elsewhere. Back to the news Betsy had given her.

"Hello Betsy, what can I do for you?" She asked.

Elisabeth looked tired. She brushed her hair behind her ear then responded. "Hullo Katherine, is that Brian behind you?"

"Yes, he said he wanted to talk to you." She quickly glanced at Betsy's twin brother. His demeanor demanded that he speak to her now, without delay, but he kept quiet and just stood there shaking slightly.

A sigh uttered forth from the purple haired woman. "Alright, as soon as we finish."

"It's time then?"

"Yes, originally we planned to leave in seven days. Unfortunately, recent events have required us to hasten our attempt. We will arrive the day after tomorrow to pick you up."

"What happened?"

"You have not heard? I would have imagined that the news would have reached you by now."

"What news?"

"Captain America called us to let us know that Logan is on the Avengers most wanted list. He ruthlessly killed Hawkeye, and severely wounded the She-Hulk and Iron Man, after he murdered an ambassador to the UN"

"Oh my god." She said in a quiet voice. "They don't know do they."

"No. Before I could say anything, he was gone. Time is running out for him and us, Katherine. If we do not act now, it will be too late.

"I'll be ready, Betts, and we'll save him. I promise."

"I don't want to lose him, Meggan." She had heard the other's approach.

The blond woman's long hair played in the wind revealing a pointed ear, as she sat down next to her. "I know Kitty."

"How's it going in there?"

"Brian's not yelling at her anymore, if that's what you mean. I only caught some of it before Betsy asked me to check on you, but it was strange. She's talking as if…"

"… As if she's saying goodbye." Upon seeing Meggan nod her head in agreement, Kitty sighed. "I see I'm not the only one who caught that."

"What's going to 'appen?"

"I don't know, Meg. I don't know."

"I want to 'elp, too. That way Betsy will be alright."

"You can, but it will be hard."

"Anything."

"Take care of Brian, make sure he doesn't follow."

Meggan looked perplexed. "Why?"

"What we'll be doing is sneaking in, kidnap Logan, and sneak out."

"And Brian wasn't built for stealth." Sighing, she looked at Kitty with her sad green eyes. "I understand. Just come back to us, both of you."

Katherine gently squeezed the other woman's shoulder. "I'll try, Meg."

Deciding to lighten the mood, Megan shape-shifted into a short green person with an ancient face and long ears, "do or do not. There is no try."

Tears fell from Kitty as she laughed, and hugged her little 'master'.


Author's Note: This takes place about 2-3 weeks before X-Men #1. Also, I know Meggan's powers don't quite work the way I described, but the idea just popped into my head.

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