PHOENIX: DEATH WISH

by Adrian Anderson


Author's Notes: Well here I am again. Yeah, it's been a while hasn't it. I've been really busy lately. So I'm sorry that my stories are not being updated as often I'd (and you'd) like them to be. Well, I've been seeing that other authors have been doing great jobs at keeping theirs up to date. And I started feeling guilty. Guiltier whenever I read emails from people saying they enjoyed it and asking if I intended to continue. So I struggled to find some time and managed to complete Chapter Six. I hope you guys like it - I stayed up a good part of the night finishing it. So lemme know what you think by emailing me at:

adriananderson587@gmail.com.

And if you'd like, feel free to join my Yahoo group at

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/phoenix_587.

Now, as usual, underlined text indicated electronic communication. Text in italics indicates telepathic communication or personal thoughts, depending on context. And text in bold indicate emphasis. Well that's it for now. Once, again, I hope you like it. Adrian (Phoenix) Anderson out! 

Oh one last thing...

Happy Mother's Day!

And yes, there are quite a few readers of this fic who are mothers. (^_^) Okay, I promised to shut the hell up now. Go read.



Chapter Six

Lorna: "He'll be fine. I'm sure he's fine."

I looked over at Lorna and offered a small smile in appreciation of her attempt to cheer me up. It would have been more successful if she wasn't hosting some serious worry herself. Then she might have sounded as if she believed her own words.

With my increased psychic ability, I was noticing that – regardless of the mental dampeners the Professor had erected – I was still sensing people's thoughts and emotions, especially when they were in close proximity. I guess the Professor could lessen the sensitivity, not suppress it completely.

But I guess I'd better explain the reason Lorna was trying to cheer me up in the first place, huh? It had been over three days, and the X-men had not returned. What was even more worrying, was the fact that they hadn't even messaged the school with an update as to their status – or even to check if things were running smoothly.

People were starting to get worried. And so I had company. Of course, Lorna meant my father when she said HE'LL be alright. But my thoughts were equally drawn to Julian...and for that matter, the other members of the Gamma Squadron. They were not used to such high priority missions and had been taken along because the X-men were grossly outnumbered.

Alex: "They could be maintaining radio silence...because they might be worried about their signals being intercepted by those military looking people there if they tried to send a message ."

I nodded again, somberly. All well and good, but radio silence or not – they were still not home. Their mission wasn't supposed to be lasting anywhere NEAR this long.

"They should have been back within a day."

I had overheard Reymundo (Risk) and Marie (Tarot) discussing the state of affairs in the hallway the night before. Both had seemed very bothered. I couldn't be one hundred percent sure, but I seemed to hear something about Marie dealing her Tarot deck and determining that - in her words - trouble was afoot. Given the fact that one of her mutant talents was precognition – the ability to interpret probability strands and predict future events – well, my concern was damn well justified wasn't it?

Lorna: "Why don't you go get some sleep, hun? You look like you haven't slept a wink last night."

Well two hours give or take. Not very restful ones either. I kept waking up intermittently with a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Eventually I just gave sleep up.

Alex: "It would be dangerous to try and contact them. Goodness knows who the hell could be listening in."

Well, dangerous trying to contact them using radio transmissions. But as far as we were aware, the humans hadn't any clue how to intercept and interpret telepathic transmissions. Which was why Tyrel (Trinity) was down in the Subbasement working with Cerebro, trying to contact the Professor mentally. He wasn't sure if even Cerebro could give him the range. But given Professor Xavier's massive sensitivity, he just might be able to detect a faint telepathic "whisper" and "shout" a reply back.

You might be wondering why I wasn't working with Cerebro myself – given that the Professor had said my psionic energy generation was continually increasing? Well, the Professor had wanted to keep the exact nature of my power surge confined to himself and the rest of the junior X-men. Even Alex and Lorna weren't aware of the whole deal. That much I'd learnt. For all the guys knew, my surge was akin to a "late blooming". Tyrel was their three in one – psychometrist, empath and telepath. Hence, he was the one using Cerebro.

"I think I'm gonna go down to the Subbasement and see if they learnt anything new."

They nodded and turned their attentions back to the students on the grounds, whilst I made my way back to the mansion...


Tyrel: "More power, Cerebro. Amp it up!"

Cerebro: Operating at maximum power. Increasing output will place core circuitry at undue risk of overload.

Walking onto the platform of the room housing Cerebro, I saw that Sam and that Kitty girl were in there with Tyrel. All looked a bit frustrated.

"Not going too good, guys?"

Tyrel: "Whatever the hell gave you that idea?"

He said it in a rather frustrated and sarcastic way. I suppose that the stress must have been getting to him. Kitty promptly smacked him and he apologized.

Tyrel: "Sorry, dude. Shouldn't have snapped."

I nodded a bit coolly and approached.

"What's the problem exactly?"

Tyrel took a couple minutes to explain. When a psychic bonds with Cerebro, it amplifies their base power level – true. But the sheer distance was simply too much. Since Cerebro was providing as much of a boost as it possibly could – the only other option was to somehow boost the other factor in the equation – the telepath's base strength.

Tyrel: "I have pushed myself as far as I can go telepathically. I'm more powerful empathically and psychometrically."

I looked away from Tyrel's face upon noticing the odd glance he was throwing me. It could definitely be construed as a knowing look.

Sam: "Say John, you're a telepath aren't you?"

Not that I'd really ever used my telepathy overtly in front of them before, but –

"Yes."

Tyrel took off the Cerebro helmet and got up out of the chair. He pointed first to me, then to the console, indicating that he wanted me to try. I tried alright – tried to avoid it.

"But if you already tried, what's the point? I mean – "

Tyrel: "I'm beat. And someone should be here in case either Psylocke or the Professor tries to make contact."

I didn't make a move towards the chair. The moment I sat down and put on that helmet, they'd only need look at the consoles and they'd see the level of my psychic energy generation – and the Professor didn't want that becoming widespread news.

Kitty: "Hey yeah. That's right. You're the only other telepath in the squadrons."

Sam: "What's the problem, John? I mean, you can use Cerebro? Right?"

Tyrel: "Well, duh! Of course he can Sam. He used it well enough to bust Frost."

Ah, should have figured they'd recall me using Cerebro to copy and record Emma's evil plot. Once more they eyed me and the chair. I figured that I'd better compromise.

I was more than willing to try extending myself in an attempt to contact the Professor. But I'd first need to get them away for the moment so they wouldn't see my psionic energy level output on the display.

"Yeah, sure I'll do it. You...must be tired, Tyrel. Why dontcha go take a break? As a matter of fact, I think you all could use some fresh air."

The three of them looked at me incredulously. Especially Kitty – which was a bit silly in her case as she wasn't exactly known for being serious minded. She had little room to talk considering that she had suggested a party the very minute the Blackbird took off several days ago.

Tyrel: "Just sit down already."

And without warning Sam pushed me into the chair. What was more, Kitty plopped on the helmet and Tyrel turned on the console. The said console lit up in a graphical display. Cerebro recognized my personal mental signature and,

Cerebro: Welcome, Phoenix.

Tyrel: "Holy shit!"

Sam and Kitty, not psychics and therefore having no personal experience with Cerebro didn't make heads or tails of the display. But Tyrel sure did.

Tyrel: "John?"

"Uh, yeah?"

Tyrel: "Why have you been holding out on us?"

"Uh...because Professor Xavier said to?"

They all looked at me confused.

Kitty: "Why would he want that?"

"I don't know exactly. I found out about the details from him even before my father did."

Which was such a first. That first day he introduced me to Cerebro it had slipped into the conversation. Turned out that he and Hank had known about my case for a little while and hadn't yet told my father even. For all the members of Generation X knew – I was undergoing a power surge. They knew nothing about the unlimited potential bit.

Tyrel: "These spikes on the scale are amazing. Forget listening for a message. Try to make contact instead!"

"I was actually planning to. But um...what you saw on the scales doesn't leave this room. Okay?"

None of them wished to disobey the Professor, so they all nodded.

Tyrel: "The Prof took a portable Cerebro headset with him. We can try again to establish a link with that."

Sam: "Think it'd work?"

Tyrel looked from Sam to the power gauges on the display unit of the console.

Tyrel: "With John's level of output combined with Cerebro's amplification – I don't think the distance will be a problem. If anyone is there to hear the message – they'll hear it alright."

According to the Mission Details, the Professor was to remain with the headset on at all times. That was the plan. So if he wasn't answering, it would mean something had gone wrong and he wasn't bonded to Cerebro any longer...

Cerebro: Link established.

Tyrel: "Cerebro, broadcast the conversation on the speakers so that we can all hear it."

Cerebro: Affirmative.

Kitty: "Well, John. Say something."

Professor? Can you hear me?

A pause followed with no response.

Tyrel: "Again."

Professor? This is John. Please respond.

There was another pause – a very short one. Tyrel didn't have the time to order me to try again as we got a response the second time. Though not the one we expected.

Psylocke: John?! This is Psylocke!

Kitty: "God. She sounds panicky – that's not like her at all!"

Yes. She was our cool, collected and suave ninja. Worrying...

What's your status, Psylocke?

Psylocke: We've run into some heavy opposition. The team members have been divided into two groups throughout the area.

She went to give us a mental breakdown of the situation. The main demolitions team were successful in their primary objective – namely destroying the former base of Colonel William Stryker. However, as soon as the explosion was witnessed by the surrounding hostile units, they must have set up some sort of long range signal jamming device to scramble communications.

As a result, a message couldn't be sent to the mutant, Gateway – the remote teleporter who was supposed to transport the demolitions team from beneath the lake's surface to the jet. They had to swim out and try to make a run for it to where Nightcrawler and the others were waiting near the shore. They WERE spotted and an all out confrontation ensued...

Psylocke: It's chaos here. We have no means of escape. The jet's been commandeered by hostile forces.

What about everyone? Dad, Ju – uh – and the Junior X-men?

Damn! Almost asked about Julian! With Cerebro broadcasting the conversation for Kitty, Sam and Tyrel to hear, it wouldn't be smart...

Psylocke: I've been in mental contact with everyone. So far we're all okay and holding our ground.

Why are you answering and not the Professor?

Psylocke: I need the psychic boost more than he does – therefore I took the headset. The Professor is using all of his mental resources to maintain a psychic link so we all can communicate. Whatever long range signal jamming they got going on – it seems to have had the side effect of negating the telepathic shielding they had before. The Professor's also psychically masking some of us here. Namely the Gamma's. They're least experienced.

Kitty: "Crap! Why does something always have to go wrong there?!"

Sam: "The place must be cursed."

Psylocke: John...I just got word from the Professor. He's detected your presence via our conversation and he'd like to speak with you. Just give me a moment to take over his tasks so he can speak with you. Try to make the conversation concise. I won`t be able to handle the strain of the Professor`s illusions for long.

There was silence for a couple minutes during which time Kitty left to go contact the others and notify them of the situation. Sam and Tyrel stayed in the room with me, muttering.

Professor Xavier: John?

We jumped.

Here, sir.

Professor Xavier: Is the distance any trouble for you? Is it much of a strain?

No. With Cerebro I feel just as if I'm communicating with someone right here on the Mansion grounds.

Behind me I could hear Tyrel whistle a little under breath.

Professor Xavier: That's good to hear. Because we need a little help to make it out of here and didn't know how we were going to get the word out.

Help getting out? You want us to take the Hawk and come rescue you?!

Professor Xavier: No, no! Nothing of the sort.

Kitty: "Dammit. I thought for sure we were gonna see some real action."

I could sense the mental "sigh" in the Professor's thought patterns at Kitty's statement. After a short pause, he continued, outlining his intentions.

Professor Xavier: The enemy forces have activated long range signal jammers. All long ranged signals - including cellular communications - are down. Hence we cannot send the word out to Gateway so that he can teleport us out of here.

That made sense. Them sons of bitches were smart. Never underestimate the value of communication.

Professor Xavier: Unfortunately, the situation is gets more complicated. You see, Magneto refuses to allow me into his mind so that I can track and send a telepathic message to Gateway.

Ah, I see.

Professor Xavier: To make matters worse, even IF he had agreed to let me in, it wouldn't have done us a bit of good.

Why not?

Professor Xavier: I am occupied as it is, hiding our presence from our pursuers. Communicating with you is one thing, I know who you are and where you are located - but finding another mutant mind that I've never encountered, and whose location I do not know... Well, it would be difficult and would take considerably more concentration. Concentration I need to maintain the telepathic illusions masking our presence. We`d be overwhelmed before Gateway got us all away from here.

Yeah. And it wasn't like Psylocke could have handled her duties and the Professor's for any length of time. Certainly not the length of time it took to find a complete stranger over great distance. A real sticky situation.

So what do you want us to do?

Professor Xavier: Gateway's phone number is 555-0179. I want you to contact him and explain the situation so that -

But Professor, what if he doesn't trust us?

There was a short pause then, and I was aware that Professor Xavier was "whispering"
telepathically to someone else.

Professor Xavier: I was getting to that. Magneto says to tell Gateway the codeword, Homo Superior. He'll comply then.

Okay, we can do that sir.

Professor Xavier: Good. Hurry then.

We ended our conversation.

Tyrel: "Cerebro, put a call through to the following number, 555-0179."

Cerebro: Affirmative.

We heard the ringing sound over the loudspeakers. It eventually stopped.

Kitty: "Hello?"

There was no response.

Kitty: "Anybody there?"

Over the background I could hear something like a dog barking. So at least we knew that the person had answered. Since it was a friend of Magneto, this Gateway was probably in league with him and his plans, and not seeing a phone number he recognized on the caller ID...well he must have been very wary.

"Homo Superior."

There was a grunt that I guess was meant to pass for an affirmation.

Tyrel: "We have a message from Magneto. He says to tell you now is the time to teleport."

This Gateway person made a noise akin to an "Mm hmm". So at least he wasn't being stubborn. The magic words had worked. Now all we had to do was wait...


Upon materializing in the War Room, emotions were running on high.

Logan: "Aww fuck it all! They got the damn jet!"

Profanity aside, everyone else held extreme annoyance in common with Logan. The Blackbird was the X-men's main jet. Now they were down to the Hawk, a smaller bird. Professor Xavier was most irritated, as the cost of a new jet was going to come out of his pockets.

Professor Xavier: "Well, at least we can rest easy knowing that the jet is set to auto self-destruct."

Most everyone agreed. Without the security code entered every 30 minutes, the Blackbird would self-destruct on a countdown of 2 hours in order to prevent opposing forces from scavenging its database or weapons technology.

Professor Xavier: "Our secrets at least are safe."

Magneto: "I'm sorry about your jet, Charles. But the data in the memory banks of Stryker's old base is now safe from enemy designs. It was worth any cost to ensure the wellbeing of mutant kind."

Everyone agreed there. From what Hank could tell, the encryption protecting the files they'd stolen was very sophisticated. Someone on, Stryker's behalf, had gone through extreme measures to protect that data. It must have been very valuable to their cause. Had it fallen into the wrong hands, the results would likely have been very bad.

Hank: "I'll get to work cracking the encryption codes immediately, Professor."

Scott: "Good idea , Hank."

Warren: "I'd so like to see what we risked our asses for."

There was a general consensus all around.

Magneto: "And here, my dear friends, is where we must part company."

Magneto started walking towards the elevator.

Scott: I can't believe we're just going to let him walk out of here, sir.

Professor Xavier: I know, Scott. But he's kept his word. And so must we.

Professor Xavier: "I`ll see you out the door, Erik."

Logan: "Yeah. I think I will too...Erik."

Magneto: "That's Magneto to you."

Everyone glanced at Magneto coldly as he was escorted out by the Professor and Logan...


It was different this time around. They weren't all coming out of the jet after a mission at Alkali Lake. Since they didn't fly back, they were walking out of the War Room and not the hangar. And this time around, I didn't have to wait to see faces to know everyone was alright, I could sense it beforehand thanks to my heightened telepathic sensitivity. Of course, the first face I hoped to see coming out of the War Room wasn't Magneto's - but still...

Magneto: "Well, well. If it isn't our little middle man."

I frowned but said nothing. The Professor, who had by then appeared behind him, gave me a warning glance. A moment later, Logan appeared at the Professor's side.

Logan: "Weren't you leavin', Magneto?"

Magneto: "I just wanted to express my gratitude here to young..."

I couldn't remember ever telling him my name. Still, while my hatred of him was no longer anywhere near as intense, I greatly disliked him. No need for any first name basis. Especially as there was something about the way he called me little middle man that irked me.

"Phoenix." I replied.

Magneto: "Ah, your mutant name."

I looked at the Professor, bewildered.

Professor Xavier: Magneto and his cronies do not use their birth names. Those are names that trace their origins to human culture. Instead they use codenames almost exclusively, choosing to embrace their mutant heritage.

But I've heard you call him `Erik'.

Professor Xavier: He doesn't seem to mind it when I call him that. We were very close friends at one point.

Magneto took in the short pause and glanced from me to the Professor.

Magneto: "It's not polite to talk about someone behind their back. And when telepaths do it right in that person's presence, it quite rude."

I gasped in shock.

"How did you know -"

He chuckled a little. You know, for an evil mastermind bent on attaining global mutant superiority by force, he had a nice chuckle. In a grandfatherly kind of way.

Magneto: "Well, whenever I walk into a room, the topic of conversation somehow shifts to me without fail."

Logan: "Now I wonder why that could be?"

Despite Logan's sarcastic tone and comment, Magneto ignored him. If there was one thing that annoyed Logan, it was being ignored. He scowled at Magneto behind his back, and the Professor frowned at him for his unbidden remark.

Magneto: "I want to express my gratitude for the part you played young man."

"Oh."

Magneto: "Oh? Is that the level of etiquette your father imparted to you?"

"I mean - thanks."

Magneto: "Much better. That was quite impressive. The distance and all."

"I was using Cerebro," I replied.

Magneto: "Even so. You must have had some serious training. Cerebro wasn't designed for novices."

Here, the Professor interrupted.

Professor Xavier: "Actually, Erik, Hank and I have managed to improve upon the original Cerebro design. The boosting ability has been increased. And the system also now allows for students to use Cerebro in a tutorial mode, guided by my skill programmed into the machine."

Magneto: "Oh. That's quite remarkable, Charles. Still, nonetheless, I`m quite impressed, Phoenix. If you ever feel the need to switch sides, I`d be more than happy to offer you a place with the Brotherhood. With only Mystique and myself around - we`re desperate for some new blood."

He chuckled once again. Logan, however, couldn't control his tongue. And quite frankly, I didn't blame him. As if I'd ever even consider doing something the like of which Magneto was making light of.

Logan: "Okay, first off - that wasn't even funny. Second, ain't ever gonna happen. Would you just go already?"

Magneto: "Well, I've outlived my welcome. Adieu."

At that he, the Professor and Logan continued down the corridor and towards the elevator...


Julian: "And then I gave him a roundhouse kick, charged with telekinetic energy. Sent the fucker flying 50 feet!"

After the debriefing, practically everyone had turned in early. They were, understandably beat. As we lay together in my bed that night, Julian recounted his exploits at Alkali Lake. If he was to believed, he single handedly took down ten of those troopers on his own. However, I was not overly critical and was more than prepared to humor him. Julian kicking ass was always a turn on for me, and the visual was in keeping with my fantasy image of him as an uber mutant warrior.

"Wow, you did alla that?"

He smirked cockily.

Julian: "That and more."

"Then I guess it was a damn good thing they took you along, huh?"

If he managed to detect the very mild sarcasm in that last sentence, he chose to ignore it.

Julian: "So how were things here?"

"Worrying," I replied somberly. "Really, really worrying."

Julian pulled himself up closer and gave me a comforting squeeze. It was pretty much obvious for anyone to see that I really disliked Alkali Lake. Hopefully after this last mission, they wouldn't ever have to go back there anymore.

Julian: "It was different this time. We went in with a well thought of plan beforehand. Last time, they had to put together something on the fly."

I looked at him incredulously. How on earth could he say that after what had happened - they had to scrap their so called well thought out plan?

"Yeah, well considering that the best made plans can go wrong - I think we were all justified in being worried."

He smirked cockily once again. I couldn't help but smile. It was just impossible for me to be in a funk for long with him around.

Julian: "So, you were worried about me, huh? That`s so damn cute."

Another smug look was tossed my way. Cute? I didn't wanna be cute. Sexy, yeah sure. But not cute. Cute was something you'd say to a kid. And with our age difference being what it was, cute wasn't what I wanted to hear.

"Not just you. Dad...and everyone else."

He mock pouted, which was sexy - to see him pout.

Julian: "So you aren't glad I'm back home in one piece?"

"Of course I am. I'm glad everyone is back home safe."

Julian: "Well I'm not everyone. I'm a very special someone. Deserving of special consideration and treatment."

I was liking where it was all heading! It looked to me like Julian was into foreplay. Which was more than fine with me. We were both looking to make the most out of that night because Julian would be very busy designing new Danger Room courses with the other members of the Gamma squad for the next few days.

"What kinda special treatment?"

Julian: "Well..."

And like lightning, as was our usual, we were entangled in each other, furiously making out. Not having the patience to stop groping each other to get our shirts off manually with our hands, our telekinesis sufficed. Julian freed his lips for a moment to say,

Julian: "You know, power play always been something of a kink with me."

"I dunno. Telekinesis can do a lot, but nothing can beat good old fashioned groping."

Julian: "That coming from an inexperienced novice like you?"

"What can I say? I like to touch."

That said, I emphasized my point by groping him to my heart's content. It was in the midst of this that my hands reached up to his face. If power play was one of his kinks, I could safely say that his scar was becoming one of mine. Scars could be damned hot if they were the right type and were on the right person. And this was the case both ways with him - double plus. Unfortunately, Julian didn't appreciate where my fingers were roaming and roughly pulled them away.

Julian: "Could you not do...that?"

Okay, what a way to break the mood. I wasn't exactly thinking with my upstairs brain (caught up in the moment) or I'd have remembered the same thing had happened when we were in Ororo's greenhouse.

"I'm sorry. I forgot."

Julian: "It's okay."

Short and blunt. And no, it was not okay. Especially as he was rolling off me, bringing our little make out session to a seeming close. He lay next to me, no longer touching even and went silent for a couple minutes. When it became too awkward to bear any longer, I began talking again, determined to shed some light on this. Still, I figured that since it was such a sensitive topic, I'd better do it carefully. I'd be outright and frank, but at the same time not make it seem like I was demanding an answer. Though God knows I'd have liked to.

"Julian, I get that you don't like me mentioning or touching that scar. I do."

Julian: "Fine. So stop doing it."

Okay, no need to be that curt. It stung a little. Okay, more than a little. He'd never used that tone with me before. I mean, sure, back in the Danger Room sessions he'd make me pull up on my socks if he saw my performance slipping beneath standard. But the tone there was...different. Hard to put into words describing it, but I'm sure most people can tell the difference when their being scolded for their own good as opposed to just being scolded.

"What is it about that scar that -"

Julian: "It's personal. Okay?"

"Fine."

Julian: "Look, I'm starting to feel a little beat. This last mission and all..."

Yeah, sure. I didn't need to be a telepath to realize that he was lying and avoiding the issue.

Julian: "I'm gonna go get some shut eye."

"Okay."

Julian: "Sorry. About talking to you like that."

"No problem. I shouldn't push the scar thing. My bad."

And with a repentant look, he gave me a light peck on the cheek and was out of the window. More curious than ever, I made a mental pact with myself to eventually come to the bottom of his strange behavior...


Mother's Day was fast approaching. That upcoming Sunday as a matter of fact. And I had yet to buy anything for my grandma, aunt Sarah and Lorna. Dad had promised to pass me some cash (I was currently broke) and take me out shopping. After a few days had passed since his return, I reminded him.

Scott: "Sure. It's Friday. We're cutting it too close as it is."

"Great."

As it so happened, I'd asked him that while we were walking down the main hallway after his last class for the evening. Logan and Ororo were walking past and happened to overhear us.

Ororo: "Visiting the grandparents this weekend, huh?"

Scott: "Yeah. Been meaning to for a while now. But you know how it is."

Logan: "Uh huh. We do. But ya gotta make time for family, bub. There ain't nothin' more important."

I could sense the mild surprise emanating from dad. And of course, I was a little shocked too. At first that is. Logan always was more of a lone wolf type. But then I supposed that his current estrangement from daughter figure Jubilee must have turned him around. As of that time, she was still avoiding him due to his reaction when he learnt of her sexuality. Dad recovered from his surprised state soon enough.

Scott: "Yeah, it is, Logan."

He patted me on the shoulder and continued.

Scott: "And I'll be making the time from now on."

After several further exchanges, Logan and Ororo departed, and dad and I continued along the greens towards our house.

Scott: "Maybe Alex and Lorna could come with us?"

"Shopping?"

Scott: "No. I mean to your grandparents` house for Mother`s Day."

That talk about family must have got to him. Alex had been to my grandparents' house only once, and that was when he drove dad over there so he could tell them what had happened to mom. My grandparents knew him and Lorna only a little from the times they would come to visit at the institute.

"That would be nice."

Since dad and Alex were orphans, they didn't have any blood family they knew of. As a matter of fact, I think that was the reason my grandmother treated my dad preferentially. Aunt Sarah's ex husband, Paul, never got treated half as nice. Though he was as asshole and maybe grandma knew that.

"I can't wait to see Joey and Gailyn! Just wait `til they see what I can do now!"

Ah yes. They were my two cousins. Gailyn was sixteen and Joey was twelve. They were fully aware that I was a mutant and what the Xavier Institute was all about. And not only were they understanding, they thought having special abilities were totally cool.

Scott: "Just remember to have some humility."

I blushed a little. Right, right, humble and all that.

"Okay."

Dad seemed to space out for a few moments.

"Something on your mind?"

Scott: "Actually yeah."

Well at least he was forthright.

"Anything I could help with?"

He looked at me for a few seconds, and seemed to actually be considering it. It felt good to be thought of as potentially capable.

Scott: "Maybe. We'll see."

He didn't say anything more and I decided not to push it, grateful enough that he'd decided to admit that something was bothering him in the first place. I guess I'd have to wait and see what it could possibly be.


"Oh that one looks nice!"

I was serious when I told dad he'd be buying a pearl necklace for grandma! And it was sorta funny to see the look on his face when he saw the price tag.

Scott: "Do you want to be able to afford getting into a decent college?"

I inwardly laughed at the thought. College. I was done with school and was never going back! I responded telepathically so no one in the jewelry store would overhear.

College? We both know that I'll be an X-man from now on.

Scott: You never know. You just might change your mind when you realize it's not all fun and games.

Sales Clerk: "So you'll be taking it, sir?"

Obviously addressed to my father as he was the one holding the cash card. He looked at me, then to the price tag, then to me again as if to say, `please don't make me do this'. Too funny.

"A little splurging won't kill you."

Scott: "No. But it might mean cheaper gifts come Christmas."

You had so better be kidding! You got months and months to recover!

Sales Clerk: "Eh hem! Will you be - "

Scott: "Yeah, yeah. We'll take the damn thing!"

Sales Clerk: "Damned thing! These are among our finest pieces of pearl jewelry!"

The tone of the sales clerk was a bit sharp and offensive. But nonetheless she was smiling as she rung up the charges.

"Good, now we can go see about getting something for Lorna."

Scott: "Something cheaper! Please!"

"Yeah. We wouldn't want Alex to look bad."

Scott: "Uh huh. He'd never forgive me if I stole his woman with fancy jewelry."

Laughing, we headed over to the other display to pick out something for Lorna`s Mother's Day present...


We finished shopping for presents and worked up an appetite in the process. There were some hotdog and burger stands right outside of the shopping complex, so we figured that we could get something quick to go. It was either that or wait in line at one of the places at the food court. Being Friday night, the traffic was heavy and we'd have to wait too damned long.

Scott: "Okay, just get us something quick. I'll go put these in the car and circle back around. Okay?"

"Yeah."

He tossed me some cash and started off for the car park, which was located on the opposite side of the multi-complex building. Upon walking towards the carts, I grumbled a little under breath. The lines were shorter than at the food court, but there was still a line anyway. Oh well...


Scott Summers made his way across the deserted car park quite happy. Despite all of the money he'd just been bilked out of. It wasn't often that he allowed himself the freedom of time to himself. So when he did choose to, he made sure he enjoyed it. And so it was that he had his guard down, or he'd have seen the three shadowy figures skulking around behind him, following his every move.

Just as Scott was about to open the locks to the car, he felt a stinging pain in the middle of his back. Instinct guided him to turn around and seek out targets. But as it was, Scott found himself paralyzed and unable to move any muscle other than those from his neck upwards.

Scott: "Who the hell are you?! Come on. Show yourself!"

Attacking someone when their back is turned. How brave, Scott thought.

Unknown Female Voice: "Aww, but it'll ruin the surprise."

Scott really didn't like the sound of that and couldn't imagine who could be kidnapping him at this particular time. Before the would be kidnappers could be treated to more of his protests, Scott was rendered unconscious, picked up by one of the two hulking brutes accompanying the female and carried away into the night...


What the hell is taking him so long, I wondered. All he had to do was make a turn from the back of the mall to the front. I stood there waiting for about five minutes before I started to get impatient. So I whipped out my cell phone and dialed dad's number. The call immediately went to voicemail. Which was odd since my father never turns off his cell phone.

I waited another five minutes, then decided to just walk over to the back. And if I saw him driving out front on the way there, I'd just get in. Either way, it would quicken the process of getting home. Well, I certainly didn't see the car while walking towards the back car park. At that point, it didn't occur to me that something might be wrong. How was I to make that leap? I mean, what if by some (admittedly odd) chance, dad forgot to charge his phone and it went dead? Or something was malfunctioning with the phone or cell network itself? That would account for me not being able to reach him on the cell.

And the car could be having trouble too - which was even more unlikely since this was my father we're talking about. He always makes sure the vehicles are in excellent condition. But it was still possible. Hence the car doesn't show up when and where it should...

Okay, rambling. I guess I was trying to convince myself that nothing was wrong. And maybe to avoid self-blame. Because had I tried to telepathically contact my father I would have realized that he was in trouble. But it just didn't enter into my mind cuz I just couldn't tell at that point something was up.

But when I got to where our car was parked, and saw no sign of my father, I knew something was definitely wrong. I had been in line for hotdogs for about twelve minutes, plenty of time for dad to call me back or even walk back out front to tell me something (like if he was having car trouble) and not just disappear on me. And THEN I decided to try a psychic scan of the area - which turned up nothing. And by nothing I mean no sensation of dad's presence in the area, or where the hell he might have gone to... I immediately started dialing the Mansion.

"Come on...pick up the damn phone..."

After a couple more rings and a seemingly excruciating wait, someone picked up.

Logan: "Yah, this is the Xavier Institute."

"Logan! I - there`s a problem and - "

He wouldn't need his super sensitive hearing to detect the panic in my voice.

Logan: "John. Are you okay? Where are you?"

"I'm fine. It's dad. We were at the mall and he left to get the car and he's missing, Logan."

Logan: "Is the car still there? Did they take the car?"

"How can you ask me about the goddamned car?! Dad is gone!"

Logan: "Easy there, kid. I'm just trying to get to motive. If the car's still there, then it wasn't a simple car theft or robbery. And then we got a real problem."

Oh. Right. Silly me. And yeah, we did have a real problem.

"Yeah. It's here. Not a scratch on it."

There was a pause in our conversation then. And I could hear him hurriedly talking to people in the background. No doubt mobilizing the other X-men. This would be considered a top priority. Their field commander, with access to all of their secrets, was abducted by person or persons unknown.

Logan: "Okay, kid. We're on our way. I'm gonna need you to take a cab and come back home."

Okay, now that is where we had to agree to disagree.

"No."

Logan: "You're not gonna be searching with us. This ain't your level."

"Maybe not. But it's my family."

Logan: "Kid, this is dangerous stuff here..."

Tell me something I don't know why dontcha. I just hurled back the same words he'd said to us earlier before we headed out.

"It's my family, Logan. And there's nothing more important. I`ll be waiting."

Before he could protest anymore, I cut the call.


I leaned up against the car, waiting for the X-men to arrive. Since this was Friday night, typically a lot of people were about. And I guessed that they wouldn't want to attract attention by flying in on the jet, wearing fancy uniforms. Not if they expected to be able to search the scene without undue hassling by mall security of the cops getting called in or such. So they'd likely be making their arrival using conventional cars and such. Which meant I had to wait a little while longer.

Unknown Female Voice: "Young man? Are you okay?"

I looked up to see two middle aged women walking towards me. I suppose that they must have been in their thirties of so. The second lady who was to the back of the first was typical. But there was something about the woman up front who'd asked the question. She had a sort of `ethnic' look, though I could not specify which exactly. But she had a kind face.

I dropped concern for the moment when I heard a car approaching. Hopeful I quickly looked to my right. Damn it - it wasn't them. I suppose I had the `dude in distress' look down pat. The two women came closer to me and repeated the question.

"I'm fine. I'm just waiting for someone."

She looked at me directly in the eyes for a few moments, then responded. It was kinda creepy to be honest. The way she was looking at me, I mean. If someone could be said to have penetrating eyes that seemed to see right through you - she did.

Unknown Female: "Your father is missing?"

Okay, now that was eye opening!

"W-what? You`re a - "

Lilandra: "My name is Lilandra. And yes, I possess the gift of telepathy."

"It's not right to sneak in on people's thoughts."

I assumed a defensive stance. This woman had been prying in on my mind. And I don't take kindly to that. And besides, dad was missing and then these two show up right at the scene when I arrive? Strange if you ask me. They didn't seem to have their car or whatever parked nearby. They just walked on by, called out, and headed straight for me. What if they themselves had something to do with the disappearance?

Lilandra: "I was not. You're state of mind is unstable and you're radiating thoughts. I can't help but overhear them."

I backed away a little, paying more attention to the woman behind this...Lilandra. She had yet to speak. I motioned towards her with my head.

"And you are?"

Chandra: "Chandra. Also one of the twice blessed."

Twice blessed? Freaky... What the hell were they into? It was then that I noticed what they were wearing around their necks. Some kind of pendant. It looked awfully familiar. That was the first time I experienced what the Professor would come to refer to as `instant recall'. Something like a photographic memory on steroids. Not only did I recall a memory, but it felt as if I were experiencing it all over again. Seeing that pendant had triggered it.

I was back in the attic. Just as I was when I took Ray and Bobby up there to look for that Bryan Adams CD. I was leafing through mom's collection of gay stories. And at the bottom of the box that held them, a silver pendant identical to the one they were wearing had fallen out. I'd left it on my nightstand and forgotten all about it until then.

"W-what's a...what do you mean by twice blessed?"

Lilandra: "Someone gifted with both telekinesis and telepathy."

Twice blessed, huh. They make it sound like they were in some kind of cult or something.

Chandra: "I prefer to think of ourselves as an association of like minded individuals striving for the same beneficent ends. And thus, avoid the negative connotations of the term `cult'."

I gasped.

Lilandra: "You really must learn to harness your thoughts properly, child."

"I...but..."

Chandra: "Why are we here and what do we want?"

I nodded. I thought that after Lilandra overheard my thoughts and learnt that my father was missing - well I thought they wouldn't be able to get anymore information from me. Because I was doing my best to shield myself. Seems it was totally ineffective.

Lilandra: "We were out shopping like regular people."

Chandra: "Until, a short while ago, we sensed a burst of panic from this area."

Lilandra: "And since the psychic distress call bore the distinctive mental signature of one of the twice blessed, we came."

Chandra: "Yes, child. We do know that you are also twice blessed."

There's that term, `twice blessed' again.

"Okay, look. I may have been panicking. But I most certainly didn't call out for help telepathically."

Lilandra: "It was a subconscious thing, dear."

Chandra: "You surely must be aware that we mean you no harm?"

I was still in defensive stance, and that must have been what Chandra was referring to. Assuming that I saw them as a potential threat. Which was true. I did.

Lilandra: "Can't you sense that we come in peace? To lend what assistance we can?"

Um...no. Not at all. Whoever they were, their powers must have been very finely developed. They didn't leak any stray thoughts that I could snatch up and learn from. And they seemed to be able to pick up on the least odds and ends that escaped from my mind too.

"Actually, I don't. And I'm expecting help. Sorry to disturb you."

Chandra: "Lilandra, I don't think he can sense the sincerity of our intentions."

Lilandra: "You haven't been trained, have you?"

Okay, so maybe they weren't spying on my mind earlier, or they'd have know that I had been trained, and possibly by who and for what purpose.

Chandra: "Hmm, the people you're waiting for are at the gate. Come on, Lilandra. He'll be fine."

Lilandra seemed to consider for a moment. Then she opened her purse, and pulled out a card. She made to hand it over to me, but I was wary and backed away. So she hovered it over telekinetically instead. The card bore the same symbol as the pendants. Some sort of stylized angel thing?

Lilandra: "Actually it's a representation of a phoenix. Those are its wings, not an angel."

"Oh."

I scrutinized the card and saw Rebirth Center written in gold. This was sounding more and more cultish than ever. Rebirth Center... Thanks to Jubilee I now knew that a phoenix symbolized rebirth and renewal. But what use could these people have for it as a symbol?

Chandra: "We help those like ourselves. Like the phoenix, we purge away the fears and misconceptions concerning our gifts and are born again, fulfilling our inner potential and living as we are meant to be. And not as others would have us be."

Born again huh? Definitely sounded like some kind of religion. Something I was never into in the least. But I kept the card. At the very least, the Professor would like to hear about them. These `twice blessed' people were mutants after all. And they had their own `association' which they claimed was meant to liberate other telekinetic/telepathic mutants out there.

"Um, thanks."

Lilandra: "Feel free to call or visit any time. You'll find that there is much we can teach you, child."

"Um, yeah, yeah."

At that, the turned around and left. What were you doing with one of their pendants, mom? As they walked past the corner of the building, two cars swerved along the opposite corner and stopped near to my position. The doors opened and quickly the adults stepped out and ran up to me. Not all of the adults were present. Xavier would no doubt reserve some of them for defense of the school. And as Logan called this situation dangerous, only senior X-men were allowed out. Wolverine, Storm, Psylocke, Gambit, Nightcrawler and Colossus were dispatched.

Logan: "John, we'll handle it from here."

"But -"

Storm: "No buts."

I was determined to make them listen to me! Unfortunately, determination wasn't going to get me very far.

Colossus: "It is too dangerous."

Remy: "Oui, oui. That's why we brought along Kurt here."

Huh?

Psylocke: "Now that he's built up a mental image of the route we took to get here..."

Nightcrawler: "...I can teleport you back to the mansion in a series of two mile jumps."

At that, I realized that they were gonna use Kurt to send me home! And as the realization hit me, Betsy paralyzed me with a telepathic bolt so I could not do anything to thwart their plans. Kurt took hold of my shoulder, and before I knew it...I was standing in front of my house.

Kurt: "Go on."

"That was so low."

Kurt: "Yah. But, it makes certain that you are safe."

And with that, he BAMFED away. Probably heading back to the scene of the abduction. Logan must have come up with that stupid trick. I sighed and entered my house nonetheless. The lights were on and upon walking into the living room, I happened upon a distraught looking Alex with Lorna comforting him.

"Hey guys."

They looked up and I expected them to start railing at me for refusing to come back home. Instead, they both got up and walked over to me with determination in their eyes.

Alex: "Well it took Kurt long enough to drag you back here."

"You...were waiting for me?"

Lorna: "Yeah. Come on. We are gonna go help find your dad."

Alex: "This is family business."

I looked at them both in amazement! They weren't X-men. But all of the teachers had Danger Room training. So they could hold their own.

"You're serious? You`re not testing me and if I agree you`ll deem me unsafe. And lock me up in my room or anything? Right?"

They both looked at me incredulously. Hey, I'd just been tricked by senior X-men. It has a way of damaging your trust of the adults.

Alex: "Hell no. They can't just keep us outta this."

Lorna: "We'll have to fly though. We can't use any of the mansion vehicles cuz they're on lockdown."

Alex: "And we can't use ours cuz the motion detectors at the gate will pick them up."

Yeah okay. All well and good. But how on earth were we gonna be able to evade the security cameras that monitored the skyline over the mansion?

Lorna: "Not to worry about that, honey. I got it covered."

Lorna's powers allowed her to generate electromagnetic fields and manipulate all forms of electromagnetic energy. And machines responded to electromagnetic fluctuations. She said it would be a cinch to temporarily glitch the cameras and make it look like a machine malfunction.

"What if Hank realizes its not a simple glitch?"

Alex: "We'll be long gone anyway. They won't be able to stop us."

"Are you sure you can do this, Lorna?"

Lorna: "Please, I could impress Magneto with some of the things I could do."

"You guys are amazing!"

Lorna: "Ain't it the truth!"

Alex: "Let's go. Before someone from the mansion comes to check if you've arrived safely. We don't have any time to waste!"

And at that, we locked up the house, but left the lights on so anyone watching would think we were still in. Then we snuck across the lawn. Lorna charged up her power and zapped the two cameras concerned.

Lorna: "They should go blurry for a few minutes."

"Lorna, I can't fly too fast."

Alex: "Not to worry. Lorna's got it covered."

Lorna: "That I do. You may want to brace yourself."

That said, she extended her arms and encased the three of us in a shimmering sphere of electromagnetic force. Immediately, we began to rise into the sky. When Lorna felt that she had enough height so we wouldn't be noticed by people on the ground, we took off at breakneck speed.

"Holy shit!"

Alex: "Yeah, that was my reaction the first time too."

Up there, so high, I couldn't make out where we were going. All I could see were spotty lights scattered here and there, with several areas brightly illuminated where the concentration of `spots' were greatest.

"Lorna, are you sure you know where to take us?"

Lorna: "I am a living compass, John. I can navigate using the Earth's gridlines of electromagnetic force."

So we continued to hurtle onwards to the shopping complex...


Scott woke up to the sensation of someone running their fingers through his hair. The intimate contact with a total, and hostile, stranger made him struggle out of their grasp. The place was dark, and so Scott needed time for his eyes to adjust. For now he'd have to rely on his other senses.

Scott: "Who are you? Where have you taken me?"

Unknown Female Voice: "Get some more light in here."

Wait a darn second, Scott thought. That voice. It sounded very familiar. And that...smell. And then the darkness. The sewers, Scott thought. And therefore, his abductors could only be Morlocks. The light was increased and Scott turned to his captor, face already set in a scowl.

Yes, there she was - Calisto. Still as pale, gothic (in the bad way) and trashy looking as ever. Her hair was longer, but it didn't do a damned thing to make her more appealing.

Scott: "Calisto. I'd say it's nice to see you again. But we both know that`d be a bald faced lie."

Calisto: "Well I am most certainly pleased to see you again, Scott. Very pleased."

The ex-Morlock leader emphasized her statement by running her hands down Scott's chest, across his abs and onto his crotch.

Scott: "I'm not in the mood to be raped right now."

Calisto ignored that statement and began the upward journey again. Feeling something in Scott's jacket, she rummaged around, and found three small boxes. Inside them were a pearl necklace, a gold brooch and a platinum bracelet. She was thrilled and immediately began putting them on.

Calisto: "Oh, for me. You shouldn't have!"

Scott really had to bite his tongue to keep from telling her off. Calisto was known for her mood swings. And he was currently with his hands tied behind his back. One minute she could be all fawning and the next - violent. When last Scott saw of her, he was in a similar predicament. She had kidnapped Scott and Jean when they followed a young mutant boy into the sewer.

Calisto was determined to have Scott rule at her side and used Jean's safety as a bargaining chip to make sure Scott obeyed. The X-men had come in pursuit. And Storm had challenged Calisto for leadership of the Morlocks. Storm won and appointed a new leader, Marrow. Calisto and her few followers were then exiled to another region of the sewers. And it would appear that she still didn't learn her lesson.

Calisto: "Did you know we weren't even looking for you? We were just making a basic trip to the surface for food. And then, when we were heading back...there you were."

Scott: "Dumb luck I guess."

Calisto: "I prefer to think of it as destiny, Scott. You and I are meant for each other, and there's nothing anyone can do to keep us apart."

Scott sighed inwardly. Why do I seem to attract these crazy women, he wondered. He'd just been rescued as it were from Emma Frost and now he's in the clutches of yet another of them. By now the X-men were sure to be on his trail, Scott reasoned. Hopefully. He made sure not to try and reach out mentally to contact his son when he was paralyzed, just in case John tried to pull off some rescue act and was caught too. But once John realized something was wrong, he was sure to waste no time contacting help.

Scott: "Aside from my godly body, what do you want with me, Calisto? You don't exactly have a kingdom to rule over anymore."

Calisto: "See that's the thing. I intend to take back my kingdom."

Calisto explained her plan. She had only a few Loyal Morlocks with her. Not enough to wage an all out assault against Marrow and the others. So, she had decided on taking in whatever runaway mutants she could, just like the Morlocks did before. She'd offer them her help and protection and in time, rebuild her own Morlock civilization from scratch. Then, when her numbers were enough - she'd strike and teach Marrow a lesson.

Scott: "Right, right. And you want me to help lead this...attack?"

Calisto: "No. You're too pretty to risk injury. Our children can help out with the wartime leadership."

Scott: "Ch-Children?! But, but that`ll take years and years!"

Calisto: "Years and years I'll relish!"

She has to be insane, Scott thought. Oh right, he knew that already. Her battle plans seemed ridiculous.

Scott: "I'm not fathering any children for you. You can get that out of your head right now."

Calisto: "Oh yes you will. I always wanted to be a mother. And I'm not getting any younger. And with your level of genetic potential - our kids will be powerhouses. They'll overwhelm Marrow and the other traitors!"

Scott grimaced. She intended to use him as a breeding stud. And the old fashioned way too. Not in vitro fertilization - but all out sex until she got pregnant. Gulp!

Scott: "I - um - don't see how this could work. I mean, I don't find you all that appealing. It's - um - not you, it's my deal."

Like he'd ever get hard for a woman as ugly inside and out as Calisto!

Calisto: "Oh that won't be a problem. See, you're in denial. And Deezire over here - "

Calisto snapped her fingers and a young female walked up, eyes glowing with psychic power.

Calisto: "Deezire is gonna help you come to terms with your true feelings. She`s an expert at it."

Holy hell! Scott thought. No doubt this Deezire specialized in some kind of seductive empathic power. Scott could say nothing in response to Calisto's last statement, and instead just held on to the hope that the X-men were on there way. He really didn't want to see what his and Calisto's kids would look like...


We didn't know where to start. When Lorna took us down, she made sure to do it some distance from the complex, in a park that was relatively dark. Just to make sure that we weren't spotted by members of the public, and more importantly, our own treacherous X-men who'd waste no time in sending us back home.

We snuck back to the scene of the crime carefully. And Alex was smart enough to make sure that the wind was blowing such that we would be safe from Logan's sensitive nose. Not only did we have to avoid being seen and smelled, but Betsy as well. I knew enough about telepathy to know that since she was probably using all her concentration to search for dad, and wasn't expecting us - we'd be safe. But all the same, I told the two of them to keep calm and try not to get too excited. In case the spike in emotions drew Betsy's attention to us.

We really didn't need to be that careful though. Because when we arrived at the scene, they were long gone. Also without a trace. Leaving us in the cold.

Alex: "Okay, now I was hoping that we could follow them. We ain't got a clue where to look."

Lorna: "Pity we don't have a nose like Logan's. Or we could just sniff him out."

Yeah. Wherever Logan's nose led him, he was sure to follow and find whatever and whoever he was looking for. And then it hit me.

"We can follow Logan, who's no doubt following the scent trail - "

Alex: "You've embraced your telepathy?"

"Well no. But I bet Lorna could with Logan`s skeleton being infused with a one of a kind metal!"

Lorna was very quick to catch on. Alex was not.

Alex: "Eh?"

Lorna: "I can sense metal using my electromagnetic powers. Just as you'd see different objects with different colors and be able to tell them apart - I can sense metals of different composition and differentiate."

Meaning - since Logan was most certainly carrying around the only bit of Adamantium anywhere near there, Lorna would be able to track his position. And we could follow him, and therefore find our way to wherever dad was being kept and offer our help. And more importantly, make whoever was responsible pay for what they did. That said, Lorna summoned up her powers and began functioning as a human metal detector...


God, I hated those sewers! I've seen some of the reconnaissance photos that the X-men took of mission locales. Many of the places they've been were rather exotic and easy on the eyes - and I was willing to bet - nose. I hoped that trekking through places as bad as the sewers wasn't in the usual order of business.

It turned out that Lorna had managed to detect Logan's trail after all. What surprised us was that he was searching somewhere underground. After some searching, we found a manhole on the street just outside the car park and Alex theorized that Logan and the others must have gone down into the sewers. And then it all made sense. The Morlocks must be at it again!

Alex: "Fuck! Not them again!"

Lorna: "Well, maybe not the Morlocks per se. Marrow has been keeping them well behaved."

I knew all about the Morlocks alright. It was about three years ago. Both my parents had been taken hostage by a group of mutants who lived in the sewer system beneath the city. The members of the Morlocks were mutants who were too deformed to pass for `normal' on the surface. So they took to hiding in the sewers and over time, had built up their own little civilization.

Anyhow, my parents had apparently spotted a young mutant child running into the sewers and chased after him. Only to be confronted by the rest of them down there. They weren't too pleased about their lair being discovered. So they were taken hostage and prevented from returning to the surface. Even worse - though mom would joke about it later - their leader, some bitch named Calisto, got the hots for dad. They eventually were rescued. And the Morlocks chose a newer, more ethical leader, banishing the bitch somewhere far away from mainstream Morlock society...

"It can only be Calisto. They kicked her and some followers outta Morlock Haven, but no one knows where she settled down."

SWISH!

Lorna: "Ah!"

The sound of something moving in the water frightened Lorna and she clung to my arm for dear life. She had one hell of a grip and I grimaced in pain. That and her fingernails were kinda cutting into me. Alex, our light bearer, directed the glowing orb of plasma in his hand to our left. Nothing there but some rats that had decided to take a swim.

Lorna: "Do you guys think there's really alligators in the sewers?"

I would have scoffed at the question, but Lorna's fear was real. So I didn't want to trivialize it.

"That's just an urban legend."

Lorna: "But the sewer men who work here say - "

Alex: "They're just full of shit."

"Like these sewers! Just wait `til we find that bitch! I`m gonna give her a piece of my mind! Having to walk through this crap!"

Lorna and Alex echoed my sentiment and we trudged on in silence for a bit. Until Lorna stopped us.

Lorna: "That's...odd."

Alex: "What?"

Lorna: "I sense something in the water. It's emanating electromagnetic frequencies."

Lorna walked up a little and pointed to the water ahead of us. Something small, circular and flashing red hovered out of the water and levitated towards us. She brought it closer to our faces to have a look at.

Alex: "Ugh. Smells like - "

"We know. What is it?"

Lorna: "It's covered by some...gook."

We'd have to remove it to get a clearer view. Thank goodness for my telekinesis or we'd have had to...touch it. I mentally swiped the filth off it and we looked at it up close.

"Oh no."

Alex: "This can't be good."

It was a communicator badge, in the form of a red circle with a black X emblazoned on it. The X-men all carried one on their uniforms. When it was flashing red like that, it meant that the bearer was in some sort of trouble and had activated a homing distress signal. It was supposed to draw other members of the team to them.

"I wonder whose it is," I asked worriedly. It wasn't comforting to think that the rescue crew might need rescuing. Before either Alex or Lorna could respond to my question, a aggressive sounding male voice spoke out from the shadows.

Male#1: "Aw, you worried `bout your missing friends?"

Male#2: "Why dontcha come with us? We'll help you find them."

All three of us assumed defensive stances. In his left hand, Alex intensified the plasma orb, casting hard light into the area. Standing before us were two, seriously deformed men. One was a tall, grotesquely muscular brute. And the other was short, wire framed, with large yellow eyes and webbed hands. Upon being seen, they started running towards us.

Lorna: "We don't want to hurt you. But -"

Alex: "Ah, fuck that speech, Lorna!"

Alex formed an energy orb with his free right hand and hurled several beams towards them. The hulking brute was hit full on, but he merely flinched a little. The short man nimbly jumped out of the way in time.

Man#1: "Die, sun skunks!"

They really needed to work on their battle cry. Webby, as I'd nicknamed him, swiped his arms at us and threw a volley of what looked to be bone spikes. Lorna shielded herself, Alex blasted the ones heading for his position and I stopped the last three mentally.

Unfortunately while we were dealing with Webby, Beefy had ripped out a piece of metal piping and was heading over our way flailing it in a very disturbing manner.

"Yow!"

I'd barely managed to jump out of the way in time. But the big guy kept swinging again at me. Yeah, so brave. Attacking me, the youngest and smallest! And - to his way of thinking - the one who posed least threat.

Alex: "Back the fuck away from him!"

One zap, two, three! Beefy paused, at least in a little pain. Alex followed with another salvo of energy blasts, aimed at Beefy's head. When he was done, Beefy was bleeding from his nose and was totally enraged.

Beefy: "I'll gut you for that!"

As he ran towards Alex, who was in the process of powering up another burst, Lorna magnetically shattered a pipe nearby. The shrapnel flew outwards, slicing across the brute's face and embedding in his side.

Lorna: "Alex, John - get behind me!"

We complied and Lorna expanded her shield to guard all three of us. Her eyes glowed an intense green and the metal sank further into Beefy's flesh. Alex had by now finished charging up and unleashed a devastating beam of energy that blasted Beefy clear back into the darkness. We heard a very comforting groan of pain, then silence. Beefy was down for the count.

Webby: "Uh oh."

Webby had in the meantime realized that it was futile to try and penetrate Lorna's magnetic force field with his bone spikes. He had apparently pinned all his hopes on Beefy taking us out, whilst he ran what passed for distraction. Now that Beefy was dealt with, he was starting to back off, trying to slink away into the shadows.

"Not so fast!"

Before Webby could make his escape, I telekinetically grabbed hold of him and pinned him to the sewer wall, arms outstretched. All three of us walked up to the now shivering man.

Alex: "Not so brazen without that steroidal freak are you? Where the hell have you taken my brother?"

"And our friends?"

Webby tried to act brave. But I could sense the fear radiating off him in steady waves.

Webby: "I won't tell you anything!"

Lorna: "You'd better start talking! I turn into a real bitch when I'm pissed off."

Webby didn't give any sign that he intended to comply. So Alex decided to try a different tactic to secure his cooperation.

Alex: "Okay. Well, John, looks like you're up."

"Huh?"

Alex: "He won't tell us anything. So you're just gonna have to scan his mind and rip the information out of him."

Webby tensed and grimaced.

"But Alex, I don't know how. I've never read minds before. I only know how to communicate."

Webby looked relieved and once more put on that faηade of courage.

Lorna: "Well then how lucky for you. We have our own little guinea pig here. We have nothing to lose anyway."

Alex added cruelly,

Alex: "Yeah, at least try your hand at it. I mean, you're bound to come up with something as you dig into his mind."

"Maybe you're right. Although, with my inexperience, goodness knows how many things can go wrong! And it's sure to be excruciatingly painful. Might even be fatal if I slip. And you know telepathy my never my strong point..."

The effect worked nicely.

Webby: "Okay, okay! I'll talk!"

The three of us looked at each other pleased. Maybe the next time they had to interrogate someone down in the subbasement, we'd be given some consideration.

Alex: "Well, out with it already!"

Webby: "Um...we caught some of your friends. But two escaped. And the other man, with the glasses."

"What about my father? Tall, reddish brown hair, dark ruby glasses?"

Webby: "He's being kept in the same place as the others."

"You working for Calisto?"

The sound of her name drew an expression of familiarity on his face. So that was a yes.

Webby: "How did you know - Please! Please don't read my mind!"

"I'm not. Now stop being such a puss - er - wimp." (Lorna was eyeing me!)

Alex: "Alright, first you are gonna lead us to our friends."

Lorna: "Alright, mister. Point the way!"

I suspended Webby midair and he started giving us directions, leading us deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of sewer tunnels...


Calisto: "Why isn't he all hot and horny yet?!"

Deezire: "I'm trying, Calisto. But something in his mind...won't let me in. He's...fighting it! Just need some time."

Scott closed his eyes and tried to ignore the hand of Calisto on his penis. She'd been trying to physically coax some life into it and had thankfully failed. Now Scott had to keep all his focus on resisting the attempts of Deezire who was trying to force him into a state of sexual arousal mentally.

Scott had been relieved when he saw Kurt, Colossus, Psylocke and Storm walking into the room. Then he noticed the looks on their faces - looks of defeat. Storm seemed particularly bad (with her claustrophobia and all). All four were pushed into the room and Calisto began to gloat.

Calisto: "They aren't so tough without their powers, are they? And look, if it isn't Storm. I'll be seeing you a little later. I have a bone to pick with you..."

She turned to a teenaged boy (the very same one that Scott and Jean had followed into the sewer three years ago) and commended him.

Calisto: "Good work, Leech. Take them away!"

Man#1: "But, Calisto. Two escaped us."

Calisto laughed and said that it wouldn't be a problem. If they were stupid enough to come barging in they could handle them. Then she had turned her attention to Scott once more...

Oh god, not her tongue now! Scott mentally groaned.

Deezire: "He...can't fight me forever. Sooner or later he'll crumble."

Scott hoped to God it would be later. He'd have to resist long enough for help to arrive. So Calisto couldn't force herself on him and possibly (God forbid) get pregnant with his child. So Scott firmed his resolve and focused his thoughts away from his situation.

Relying on his memories of what gave him strength and courage on particularly tough missions, Scott called up images of Jean. Their psychic link was all gone now. But it had always given him mental fortitude. He'd just have to try and remember what it felt like having a piece of her with him all the time...

Scott: "When I get free, Calisto. I'm gonna make you pay!"

Calisto: "Ooh, I just love the thought of angry sex with you!"

Scott: "Oh you'll get it rough alright."

Scott scowled viciously and focused his thoughts on Jean once more...


Lorna: "You'd better not be leading us into a trap!"

Webby gulped as Lorna's eyes flashed an angry shade of green. Up ahead, we could hear swishing in the water. Louder than that which a rat or two would make. Something was coming our way and we were starting to think that maybe Webby had led us into a nest of reinforcements. It was a damned good thing for him he had not. On the other hand, it was sorta a bad thing for us. Figures could be seen approaching from the enveloping darkness ahead. Two of them.

Logan: "Fuckin' hell! What are you doing here?!"

Logan surveyed Lorna, Alex and me and looked to be totally pissed off.

Remy: "Easy, Logan. We don't wanna make too much noise. The tunnels carry echoes really well."

Logan: "Summers! Dane! Whaddya think you're doing down here? And bringing John with ya?"

Alex: "Don't take that fuckin' tone with me, Logan! I'm not my brother. I won't just stand here and take it!"

Okay, Logan didn't really take too well to being spoken to like that. Honestly, I think he has something against (not just dad) but all of the Summers' men. Maybe it's the name?

Logan: "Son of bi - "

Logan didn't get to move any closer to Alex due to the electromagnetic bonds Lorna placed on him. With his skeleton infused with Adamantium, he was effectively her puppet. Just as had apparently happened with Magneto on more than one occasion.

Logan: "Hiding behind your girlfriend, Summers?"

Remy: "Guys..."

Alex: "Who's hiding? Lorna, let him go."

Logan: "Yeah, Lorna. Lemme go."

Lorna: "Not until you calm down."

I'd had enough.

"What the hell is wrong with you people?!"

All eyes turned on me, a little surprised. Hey look at me, the center of attention!

"Five team members are in enemy custody and you're squabbling with each other. Save it for the enemy."

Remy: "I was just `bout to say that myself."

Alex: "Look, let's just get our people outta here, and we can chew each other out later."

Logan: "Fine. Try not to get yourselves maimed."

For all his words and tone, I could sense that Logan was genuinely worried about us. Having this enhanced telepathy was giving me greater insight into reading people's real emotions. If I didn't sense Logan's underlying worry, then I might have thought he was being uncaring and insensitive. I wondered if maybe Logan wasn't really as brash as he appeared, and that maybe he just vented his feelings different to how other people vented theirs.

Lorna: "John?"

"Hmm?"

Remy: "We want you to stay in between us."

"Okay."

I supposed it was a wise tactical decision. Logan would take the lead. With his advanced senses, we'd have some early warning of whoever might be lurking ahead. And Remy would man the rear. Thus, Alex, Lorna and me would be sandwiched in the middle, afforded maximum protection from whatever might be ahead of us, or skulking behind us.

Webby: "Can you put me down now?"

All of us looked to our prisoner. He had thus far been very silent.

"Here`s what you`re gonna do. Shut up. And keep pointing."

Webby, now more afraid than ever, nodded dumbly. I hovered him up closer to Logan, so he could give our leader directions to where the others were being held.

Logan: "You shouldn't have come back here, kid."

"And why the hell not?"

Oh of course I knew `why'. But I was just being stubborn.

Logan: "Because it's even more dangerous than we first thought it would be. They got somebody on their team who can negate mutant powers."

Alex: "They...do?"

"Well, before I got this power up, I had to rely on physical combat anyway."

Logan: "Just wait `til your father sees you here. He's gonna be pissed."

Gulp. Yeah, he would most definitely be pissed. I figured I'd better kick some ass and prove the necessity of my coming along. Oh right, wait. I had. I'd helped capture our prisoner. Our prisoner who was guiding us - absolutely invaluable.

Logan: "And you two -"

Alex and Lorna now got their share...

Logan: "He's gonna tear you both a new one. Letting John carry out a scheme like this."

Alex: "Actually, it was all our idea."

Logan: "Then you'd better brace yourselves for a frickin' family feud."

There was an awkward silence as all three of us considered the possibility. Dad did have a temper. And he always got very mad whenever I didn't follow rules. I was expressly ordered to return home and stay. Even if Alex and Lorna came back, I could have said no and remained at home. They didn't force me, I came of my own will. So therefore I would be held accountable for my actions. Alex and Lorna...had done nothing to stop me and actually encouraged me. Onto the path leading to danger as he'd see it. He really might tear them a new one.

"Maybe we should alter our story a little."

Alex: "I dunno..."

"How about we say something along the lines of..."

Kurt took me back home. And then I immediately decided to fly back to the scene of the crime - all my idea. And them two tried to stop me, hence following me. I arrived just in time to see the search party entering the sewers and followed them myself. And then they saw me entering the sewers and followed me in with the intent of taking me back home. And then - we found the communicator badge and were attacked. And then Logan and Remy found us...and since they were underpowered, we decided to stick around.

"That way I take all of the blame. Let's face it, I do the crazy alla the time. Dad will eventually forgive me. If he finds out this was all your idea..."

Alex: "Way to self-sacrifice. You`d be grounded and..."

Lorna: "Sorry to burst your bubbles guys. But Scott will want to know how we all managed to fly away from the school without being spotted by the cameras. And knowing what he knows about my powers, he'll realize that I disabled them."

Oh, right.

Lorna: "Now if me and Alex really were trying to stop you, we wouldn't have disabled the cameras. We'd WANT the mansion to find out and send out people to help bring you back. When we get back, everyone, Hank included will realize that we tampered with those cameras."

Alex: "You mean..."

"We're screwed."

Logan: "Told ya so."

Webby: "We -"

"I told you to shut up."

Webby: "But...we're close. It's just ahead."

"Oh."

Remy: "Alright. Look sharp people. Let's not get caught by surprise this time."


The tunnel terminated in a very large room. There seemed to be smaller rooms off to the side. Logan said he smelled six of them in the main chamber. They had a fire burning and we could make out three of them standing around it. They all looked rag tag to me.

Logan: "The other three are somewhere in there too. Can't see `em though."

"I'd scan telepathically. But if there's another telepath in there, they might be able to backtrack the scan and discover us."

So I decided not to. We'd need the element of surprise. Getting discovered could possibly give the Morlock exiles time to escape with dad.

Remy: "See that green one in the middle?"

"Yeah?"

Remy: "He be the one who can suppress mutant powers."

Lorna: "So we take him out first then."

There was only one way in from our side. And I really didn't see how we could get in unseen. We'd have to do a quick strike and taken them down very fast.

Logan: "Summers, when I give you the signal, I need you to take out the green kid."

I knew Alex didn't like the idea of shooting a kid. But we had no choice. Misguided or not, he was the enemy. And in any case, it's not as if Alex was going to kill him. Just probably leave him in a world of pain when he woke up.

Alex: "Okay."

Logan: "Lorna, Remy - you two are gonna give me cover fire while I charge in. I'll be trying to sniff out the other three."

Lorna and Remy nodded.

Lorna: "I can shield you if I see any incoming fire."

Logan: "So much the better. Once the three by the fire are taken care of, you`ll come in Alex and see if you can sneak around and locate the rooms where the others are being kept."

"What about me?"

Logan: "You'll...erm...stay here and make sure our prisoner doesn't escape."

I looked towards Webby. He was gagged tied up with metal piping thanks to Lorna. And his mouth was stuffed with a hanky. He wasn't going anywhere and was in no position to warn anyone.

"There's four of you, and six of them. I think I can help even the odds."

Logan: "More like get yourself hurt!"

"I can help!"

Logan: "The best way you can help is by staying here so we can focus on fighting without worrying about you."

"I'm already in a world of trouble. If I'm gonna be punished for this, I might as well make it count. I'm coming."

Logan: "Don't make me -"

"Maybe you'd like to try and stop me?"

Logan: "Oh, so the student thinks he can take the teacher, huh?"

We eyed each other angrily for a couple of minutes. Surprisingly, his demeanor changed and - gasp - he backed down.

"You were my mentor. You trained me, Logan. You should know what I`m capable of. If nothing else, then at least have some belief in yourself that you taught your students well."

And in any case, these were a rag tag group of Morlocks. They had no specialized training. The only reason the other X-men were caught was because they were taken by surprise and didn't expect to be rendered powerless. Now that we were prepared, we could take them down.

Logan: "Fine. But no heroics."

"Okay...then."

We snuck closer to the tunnel exit. So far, we weren't detected. Logan beckoned Alex up to him. They waited for one of the men to shift from the fire and as soon as he had a clear shot, Alex hurled a beam of plasma at the green dude. He let out a sickening scream and was blasted right back and into the chamber's far wall. He had to be down.

Logan: "Okay, guys! Cover me!"

Immediately Logan ran full speed into the room. Lorna, Alex, Remy and I carefully followed. I could make out Logan getting into a fist fight with one of the two men who were standing by the fire. The other guy had seemingly disappeared.

Lorna: "Where are - ah!"

Lorna had no time to react as several shadowy tendrils snaked up from the ceiling, wrapping tightly around her and pulling her upwards.

Alex: "Lorna!"

Three psychic spikes flew past us, barely missing by a hair's breath. Somehow, the second man who had been by the fireplace had appeared behind us. Some sort of teleportation power, I figured. Remy motioned us, back, indicating that he'd take care of him.

Alex: "Let her go!"

At that Alex began to fire bolts of energized plasma up at the ceiling. There was no sign that he'd hit his target. Rubble began to fall down upon us from above.

"Alex, stop!"

I just managed to stop several large chunks of concrete from squashing us flat.

"You might hit Lorna!"

At that I started to fly upwards, intending to telekinetically pry those shadow tentacles from her. I didn't make it too far. It started as a liquid, gurgling noise. Something in the pipes was moving closer.

"What the hell..."

Grey liquid oozed from one of the pipes, forming a puddle on the floor. The next moment, it surged upwards, molding itself into a humanoid shape. The sludge man turned to me, and launched himself full on, basically washing me clear across the room.

I was quick to get to my feet, despite almost slipping in the sludge, only to be grabbed from behind by very strong hands. Fortunately for my close combat training, I managed to turn the tables on the unseen foe, tossing him over my shoulder and onto his back.

"Eww! Gross!"

Dark green and covered with scales, he looked like a cross between human and lizard. He didn't reply verbally but hissed instead. I gave him two swift kicks to the chest and head and backed off a bit to put some distance between us. He was down temporarily at least. Glancing across the room, I saw that Alex was now facing off against `Sludge'. Every time he tried to hit the liquid man, Sludge would form a hole in his body and Alex would miss.

Lorna: "Get the hell offa me!"

I quickly looked upwards and saw that Lorna had managed to expand her magnetic force field, forcing the shadowy tendrils off of her. She flew upwards, obviously able to see her attacker. She fired a pulse of electromagnetic force. And the next second, a gothic punk dude dropped from the ceiling. He didn't fall flat on his ass though, having projected some form of shadowy energy field to the ground that slowed his descent.

Logan: "Ah fuck!"

A single punch from Logan's opponent had sent him flying halfway across the room. Logan however, landed on his feet gracefully. Surveying the scene, I saw that Remy had by then finished dealing with his opponent. Lizard was down, as was the power suppressing dude and the psychic. Leaving Sludge, Shadow dude and the other I nicknamed Punch (having sent Logan flying with a single punch). Who to help?

Alex: "John, some help here!"

Okay, problem solved.

Remy: "Try and hold him still so we can manage to hit him!"

Sludge heard that and wasn't too pleased with the notion. I focused on him, but he was too quick and had lunged at me before I could pin him down. I dove out of the way, skinning my arms, in the process. Sludge landed some distance away and immediately began to sluice towards me. A kinetically charged card courtesy of Remy, landed between us and exploded, stopping Sludge from getting to me. I quickly rushed over to Alex and began concentrating on the man of liquid. His movement slowed as he came under the influence of my powers.

Alex: "Yes!"

Bolt after bolt of energy was released on him, but even though they hit him full on, the effect was negligible. What was more, the shock of the bolts hitting the liquid body made holding onto Sludge difficult and he escaped my grasp. Holding him was like trying to hold water in your cupped hands.

"Dammit! I lost him!"

Sludge immediately entered another pipeline for safety.

Remy: "He just made a big mistake!"

At that Remy casually touched the pipeline that sludge had entered. He charged it kinetically, then ran back to us as it exploded with Sludge inside it! Bits of metal shrapnel littered the floor...and globules of slime. For a moment we wondered if he was dead or not. But eventually his droplets coalesced into one still puddle. He didn't move again, so I figured he must have been unconscious.

Remy: "Good riddance."

When we looked towards Lorna, she seemed to have things well in hand. Her force field had encased and imprisoned the Shadow punk and try as he might, he could not escape.

Man: "Sssssssssssssss!"

Lizard man again. Except this time he was running towards Logan's position (who was occupied choking the life outta Punch). I latched onto him mentally, crushing the breath out of his lungs and encasing him in metal piping that I ripped out of the walls. I made sure to set him down next to Logan so he could see my handiwork and realize that I was useful after all.

Man: "Ugh..."

Shadow had since fainted inside Lorna's force field.

Lorna: "Passed out from lack of air I figure."

A shriek of pain raided the air.

Logan: "And that's for kicking me in the jewels!"

Ouch! Two heavy punches right across the face, and Punch succumbed to the darkness. We made a mental tally of the bodies. Yeah, all six were accounted for. Now to find the others...


Ororo: "L-Logan..."

Logan: "Yeah, I'm here `Ro. Take it easy..."

Ororo wasn't looking too good. I knew she was claustrophobic so coming down into the constricted sewer tunnels was a big deal for her.

"We took care of that power suppressing dude. So why aren't your powers back?"

Kurt: "I think it takes a little while to wear off."

I got some looks, but no one made any bad comments about my being there. They musta been saving the honors for my father. Logan finished freeing them from the crystallized gook that held their wrists and ankles bound. I bet that stuff was courtesy of the now unconscious Sludge.

Psylocke: "They're keeping Scott in a room further down. There's another hallway directly opposite."

Colossus: "It is Calisto again."

Lorna: "We figured as much."

Alex: "My big brother has such a way with the ladies. For once, I don't envy him."

Kurt: "That he does. And you are wise not to."

Lorna: "Yes, Alex. Very wise."

If by `such a way with the ladies' meant attracting crazy women like bees to a honey pot - then I hoped I didn't inherit that trait from him!

Logan: "Let's go get Casanova and get the hell outta this place."


Calisto: "You useless bitch!"

Deezire: "It's not my fault! His will is too strong."

Both women argued back and forth and hadn't noticed us walking in until it was too late. All nine of us.

Logan: "Never took ya for the three way type, Scotty. Guess you`re not as vanilla as we thought."

Scott: "Ha ha."

The gothic bitch, according to Kurt, was Calisto. The first thing I noticed about her was that she was wearing the gifts that we had bought for Mother's Day! The second, that she was dog ugly! And that's no lie.

Calisto: "Deezire! Get them!"

Yeah, sick your cronies on us like you would a dog and hide behind them. The mark of a true leader alright.

Deezire: "There are nine of them and two of us! Are you crazy?!"

Scott: "What was your first clue?"

The two of them began backing away slightly. But there was no chance of them escaping as there was only one exit and entrance to the room. With them out of our line of sight it was then that we noticed dad's condition. Namely, his pants were pulled down to his knees and his dick was hanging out. Quickly, we averted our eyes and pretended not to have seen him in such an awfully degrading state.

Scott: "Would someone get me outta these ropes?!"

Logan: "Oh, keep your pants on!"

Logan was treated to a very mean scowl. But he quickly cut dad through the ropes. Immediately, he pulled up his pants and put some distance between himself and Calisto.

Deezire: "I - um - surrender?"

Dad's response was to shift his shades and blast her clear across the room.

Scott: "That's for messing with my head!"

We all drew our attention to Calisto.

Lorna: "For a Goth chick, she sure does have some good taste."

I mentally undid the three pieces of jewelry and hovered them over to me.

"Actually, dad and I picked these out as gifts. Here. Consider it an early Mother`s Day present!"

I tossed the bracelet to Lorna who began to fondle it and smile crazily. Alex sighed and rolled his eyes.

Lorna: "Well, John, I see that your father - unlike a certain other Summers sibling - has style."

Calisto: "Father? You never said you had a son, Scott."

Calisto turned towards dad with an expression that was a mix of anger, surprise and hurt. Poor deluded woman.

Scott: "You didn't ask. But with your mouth occupied, I don't supposed you had much time to talk."

Okay, okay, way too much information. Enough to piss me off even more and unleash my inner bitch!

"Just who the fuck do you think you are, lady?! Kidnapping someone off the street just cuz you`re horny! And doing...those things to them?! When was your last STD test?!"

Calisto: "All's fair in love and war! Just who do YOU think you are talking to your elders like that?! Watch the way you talk to me you little runt! I`m not really too thrilled about stepchildren."

"Well, I've already dealt with one would be stepmother. If you wanna add your name to the list, try me."

Calisto: "You little - ah!"

Another optic beam, courtesy of dad, was fired, slamming Calisto next to Deezire. She, however, was still conscious.

Scott: "Now listen to me, Calisto. And listen good. You've done this two times already. Three strikes and you're out. You try this shit with me again, and I will kill you! You understand me?"

Dad's voice was really dark and downright scary. That and the death threat. Calisto seemed to be shaking a little. And even the X-men seemed more than a little surprised that dad would make such a declaration. I didn't think it was a bluff judging from the hate I felt radiating off him.

Scott: "Answer the fucking question, bitch! I want to make sure there's no room for misunderstanding!"

We jumped at those last statements.

Calisto: "Y-yes."

Scott: "Good."

At that, dad relentlessly blasted Calisto into unconsciousness. I knew that on the field of battle, he'd taken lives. But to actually see him act like this was more than a little disturbing.

Betsy: "Scott? Are you alright?"

Scott: "I was just mentally assaulted and molested, Betsy. What do you think?"

Awkward silence.

Scott: "John, what are you doing down here?"

"I - uh..."

Alex: "We came to rescue you."

Lorna: "Yeah."

Okay, he's gonna really give it to us now. Only he...didn't?

"Uh, aren't you mad?"

He seemed to consider the question for a moment or two. Which gave us some hope. Cuz if he was mad, he wouldn't have started yelling at us immediately. He does not believe in sugar coating things.

Scott: "I should be. But I`m not."

Alex: "You aren't?!"

Scott: "If you hadn't come, by the time Logan and Remy got word back to the mansion and sent for reinforcements, I'd have cracked and had my mind wiped. I...don't think I could have held out much longer."

Mind wiped? That meant that they were probably trying to get him to forget about his real life and rewrite his memories or something. No wonder he was so frickin' pissed off. And why he was okay with us breaking the rules and coming to look for him. We'd come in the nick of time to prevent what they`d been trying to do. How lucky for us all.

"Oh dad..."

Dad gave us a shaky grin that did nothing to disguise the sickened and disgusted feelings running through him.

Scott: "You might have become a big brother in the meantime, John. So no, I`m...grateful you guys came."

What a frightening thought!

Logan: "Okay then. Let's...just get the fuck outta here. This sewer stench is hell on my nose."

We all nodded and started on the long walk back up to the surface...


When we all stepped out of the cars, Professor Xavier, Warren and Hank were waiting for us. Professor Xavier was very far from pleased, and kept looking at Alex, Lorna and me with disappointment and anger.

Warren: "Ugh, you guys stink."

Betsy: "We were in the bloody sewers, Warren. What else did you expect?"

Professor Xavier: "Jonathan, Alex, Lorna - what you three did was inexcusable. Deliberately disobeying direct orders, tampering with the school security system, flying off - "

Scott: "Professor, how about, just this one time, we cut `em some slack?"

Warren, Hank and Professor Xavier looked at him, the disciplinarian, with shocked expressions.

Scott: "I don't really want to have to say it out loud. So can you just read my thoughts?"

The Professor nodded, closed his eyes, and did. There was a weird play of emotions on his face. Varying shades of anger and disgust were the main ones.

Professor Xavier: "I...see. Very well, you three are excused for this one time only."

We nodded and expressed our extreme gratitude.

Professor Xavier: "Now, go get yourselves cleaned up. And..."

He took in the sight of the bruises and cuts we had.

Professor Xavier: "First thing tomorrow morning, I want you all to see Rune for healing."

We nodded and the rest of the gang dispersed. Well aside from Logan.

Logan: "I - uh..."

Scott: "What?"

Logan was speaking to me, but looked at everything else but me.

Logan: "Just wanted to say...that you handled yourself pretty good out there."

Gasp! Do my ears deceive me?

"Well, I've had Danger Room exercises that were more challenging than those losers."

Which was true. Once that power suppressing dude was out of the way - the others weren't really all that difficult to deal with.

Logan: "Yeah, well..."

"Apology accepted."

Logan: "I was not apologizing! I was just stating my opinion on your performance!"

"Which happens to be in direct contradiction of what your opinion was before we went into that fight. You`re basically admitting that you were wrong."

We engaged each other in a stare down for a few seconds before Logan backed off.

Logan: "Okay, fine. I may have been mistaken. Satisfied?"

"It'll do."

Logan: "Fine then. G'night."

And with that he was off. I took a moment to revel in the glow of having won my yet another war of words with Logan!

Scott: "Yay for you."

"You shouldn't encourage me. I could get addicted to this feeling."

Scott: "I know. Every time I win against Logan I take time to savor it."

We laughed a little at Logan's expense and headed on home...


I'd just finished having my scratched arms healed by ruin down in the subbasement. With that done, it was time for me to see the Professor. I'd walked with the pendant that I'd found in the attic. Of course, when my father learnt that I wanted to see the Professor, he wanted to know what about. So I had to tell him.

Scott: "These two women approached you?"

"Yeah. When I was waiting for the others to arrive."

He considered for a moment.

Scott: "And they called you a `twice blessed' person?"

"Uh huh."

Scott: "Sounds like some kind of cult to me."

"See, that's what I thought."

Scott: "I hope you're not starting to attract crazy women like your dear old dad."

I frowned at his attempt at humor. That was so not funny. And considering what he'd been through at the hands of crazy women - he shouldn't be joking about it.

"At least if I attract a crazy woman, I'll be able to recognize her from a mile off and deal with her right at the start."

Scott: "Touche."

The door to Professor Xavier's office slid open and he entered with an expectant look. It wasn't often that students came to him. More often than not, he had to send for them. So he must have sensed that it was something important.

Professor Xavier: "Good morning. You wished to speak with me?"

"Yeah. It`s about last night."

Professor Xavier: "Changed your mind about punishment, Scott?"

Scott: "Actually no. John wanted to tell you that he was approached by two mutant women last night."

"Yeah, in the mall's car park."

Professor Xavier: "Mutants?"

"Psychics. Telepathic and telekinetic. Both of them were. They called themselves, `twice blessed'. And they have their own...association."

I explained it in more detail and handed over the card that Lilandra had given to me. I deliberated a little with myself mentally, before telling the Professor about the pendants that both of the women wore.

Scott: "Like some symbol of membership?"

"Yeah. Like maybe - how someone would wear a crucifix as a mark of their faith."

Professor Xavier: "What's that in your hand?"

"Uh, it's a pendant just like they were wearing."

Scott: "Where did you get this? Did they give one to you?"

I explained that I had found it in the attic. Note well, I most certainly did not say that it fell out of a box holding stacks of gay stories written by my mother. I just lied and said I found it in a box of old CDs.

"I think it might have been mom's. She was also...twice blessed. Maybe she met them."

Scott: "Jean never mentioned ever having met these people before. She would have made sure to tell you about them, Professor."

Professor Xavier: "A group of such psychics, claiming to offer help to others like them? Yes, Jean would have said something. This has to be investigated."

The Professor's demeanor very looked troubled. I suppose he was suspicious and doubted the motives of these people. I didn't blame him. Aside from the X-men, most of the other associations of mutants were bad news. Like...The Brotherhood for instance.

"The have a place called Rebirth Center."

Professor Xavier: "I think that it is imperative that we investigate as soon as possible."

"Why all this `twice blessed' stuff? What I don't get is, if they want to help psychics, then why limit the offer to just those with telepathy and telekinesis? Why be so picky and choosey? There are a lotta psychic mutants out there in need of help."

The Professor had news for me.

Professor Xavier: "It is very rare for someone to possess both skills. All other psychic powers are specialized subsets of those two abilities."

"Huh?"

Scott: "How many people do you know with both, John?"

"Uh, just mom."

Scott: "Right. It's a rare trait."

Professor Xavier: "People with telepathy and telekinesis are something akin to a jack of all trades."

"I don't understand how all other psychic powers can be subsets of telepathy and telekinesis."

Professor Xavier: "Okay, let me explain with a few examples. You're aware of the phenomenon of psychic healing?"

I was. That power was another extremely rare one. The wielder of it could heal wounds and such of him/herself as well as others by mental influence.

Professor Xavier: "Well, that is a special form of telekinesis. On a molecular level, it repairs damage by manipulating matter."

"Oh..."

I saw where he was going with it. I knew of telekinetics in my old class who could powder rock into dust, then reform the rock again by bonding the dust particles back into their original order.

Professor Xavier: "Yes, something like that. And you`re aware of psychometry?"

Uh huh. Tyrel from my squad had that power. He could sense the psychic impressions that people left behind in places and objects and gain information from them.

Professor Xavier: "Well, that's a subset of telepathy. He's sensing the echoes of thoughts and emotions that have been imprinted on an object or place. Much as a telepath would - just from objects and not people."

"So you're saying that even though - "

I paused, not quite sure how to phrase it.

Professor Xavier: "Even though for convenience sake we consider them to be different powers, in actuality, all psychic abilities stem from the two basic powers of telekinesis and telepathy. It`s pretty advanced psychic theory - you would not have been exposed to this belief system in your classes."

Scott: "Knowing this, I say we go investigate come Monday."

"Why not today?"

Professor Xavier: "We don't want to seem too eager. No normal person would just head on out to meet perfect strangers the very day after first contact."

It made sense. I suppose most people would take a little while to think about it first before taking the plunge.

Professor Xavier: "Scott, you will accompany him, as his father. Betsy will join you. As his moth - erm - stepmother, on account of her Japanese body. "

"Oh, undercover, huh?"

Professor Xavier: "Yes. These people are telepathic. Betsy can render herself immune to telepathic invasion. They won't be able to read her thoughts, and she'll be able to protect you both from psychic invasion as well. That`s if they mean ill."

Yes, a very good plan! All we'd have to do would be to try and act natural while we scoped the place out.

"Hey, my first undercover mission. I must be the youngest X-man ever doing this. Some kind of record, right?"

The Professor sighed.

Professor Xavier: "Yes. Now remember, this will be a serious exercise."

"True. But I'll still have to act natural. Like a regular boy my age."

Professor Xavier: "Just try to maintain a balance. Now if that's all, you're dismissed. Erm, except you, Scott. I want to have a word with you."

Dad nodded, I said I'd see him later, and left them to it.


Happy Mother's Day!

Lorna was very generous with the hugs that morning. Ordinarily, she was a very huggaholic girl, but due to her present, she was more so than her usual.

Alex: "Isn't he a little too young for you?"

Lorna: "Oh shut up. He appreciates me."

She continued to fawn at that bracelet. Honestly, I don't have any clue what it is with women and pricey jewelry. Maybe they equate it with love, and the more expensive the piece, the greater the love. I for one thought she deserved it. She had practically been a surrogate when I was younger.

"Well, you deserve it. For all the diapers you had to change. In a way, you should be thanking Emma for this."

That drew a look of distaste on Lorna's face.

Lorna: "Why?"

"Because I pulled a guilt trip on dad told him he shouldn't feel to hard to spend on family, considering how much he must have spent on her."

Alex: "Ha, ha, ha. She was a high maintenance girl, wasn't she?"

Lorna: "Well, I'll be sure to think of her."

Alex began to mumble something about, he'd be more than happy to buy fancy stuff for Lorna, were it not for him being prudent and saving money up for their dream house and future offspring.

"Oh don't be so sour, Alex. I haven't forgotten you. Remember, there's still Father's Day! This year, you`re both getting much better treatment than cards!"

That perked him right up.

Lorna: "With all the money you'll be having Scott spend, I won't be surprised if he doesn't have any left over for your allowance. He might have to go without a gift himself."

"Well fortunately for us, Alex has always been a man of simple tastes."

Alex: "I want a present just as expensive as Lorna's. And not a dime less."

I sighed.

"No Christmas for me then."

Dad called out from the house.

Scott: "You guys ready?!"

We hollered out a yes, and got into the car. Time to go visit the family!


As soon as the car rolled to a stop, I rushed out and onto the front porch. I, for reasons soon to be revealed, was very excited. I repeatedly rang the doorbell. On the sixth ring, the door opened and my grandfather appeared in the doorway.

John: "Johnny!"

"Hey, grampa."

John: "You're looking real happy today."

"Oh, I am. Very happy."

I did mention that I was named after my grandfather before, right. To ease confusion when we were both at the same place, they'd call him John and me, Johnny.

Scott: "Hiya, John."

Grampa took in the sight of Alex and Lorna, who were sort of standing aside, a little bit shy. He smiled warmly and waved them over.

John: "Come on inside."

We entered the house and were greeted by my aunt Sarah.

Sarah: "You that happy to see us, Johnny?"

Again, a reference to my very wide grin.

"I love spending time with my family."

Sarah: "Gailyn, Joey! Come on downstairs. Your cousin's here! Mom!"

Sarah hurried upstairs when she didn't get a response. Leaving the rest of us with grampa. He looked a little confused and started asking dad questions. Questions that I had reserved the right to answer. I made sure to brief them all thoroughly while we were in the car.

John: "Scott? Where's that lady friend of yours? Erm...Emma?"

Lady friend? Ha, ha, ha, ha!

Elaine: "Johnny, come give grandma a hug!"

Grandma, aunt Sarah and my cousins were coming down the stairs. I walked over and was promptly ensnared by grandma`s arms. Gailyn waved and I high five'd Joey.

John: "So Emma's not coming."

Grandma's face tightened a little. Any minute now...

Elaine: "Scott, you didn't bring Emma along?"

Scott: "Well, no. Erm, I couldn't. She - "

God help me I couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Emma's been sent to the madhouse!"

The room surged with emotion - that of shock!

Scott: "It's not a madhouse! It's...a mental hospital."

"Oh potato-potato."

Grampa's eyes popped. Dad looked down to the floor embarrassed. Alex sighed and rolled his eyes. Lorna, Sarah, Grandma and I chose to have a good belly laugh.

Elaine: "No, seriously, Johnny. Where's Emma?"

Lorna: "Oh, he's telling the truth."

Elaine: "Oh...my!"

"It turns out, Emma really was a crazy bitch."

Alex: "She tried to frame John for attempted murder so he would be sent away. But John turned the tables on her and revealed her for what she truly was."

"And Professor Xavier wiped her mind and sent her packing. Off to Happy Valley so she could get the help she so desperately needs."

Grandma walked over to grampa, who was now looking extremely ashamed for having actively encouraged dad to be with Emma. Without warning, she planted a clout onto his head.

Elaine: "I always thought there was something off with that woman."

John: "She seemed like the right sort."

Elaine: "As if a woman like Emma could ever step into Jeannie's shoes. Just look at what she tried to do to my grandbaby!"

There was a moment of silence as we all mentally scowled at the thought. Emma was barely anything good as a standalone, far less for replacing mom.

Sarah: "Honestly. Attempted murder? You guys live in a soap opera!"

Sometimes, I thought the very same thing. Never a dull day in X-land.

"Well let's not start the day off the wrong way, thinking about Emma."

Sarah: "True. Let's start it the way it's meant to be started. Presents!"

She eyed the two gift wrapped boxes that dad had deposited.

Elaine: "After lunch, Sarah."

Sarah frowned in a mock childlike manner and we all headed into the dining room where something was smelling really nice...


John: "So Johnny seems a lot...happier."

Scott looked over to the living room where his son was busy catching up with his cousins.

Scott: "He is. He's...changed a lot."

Elaine: "I can see that. But you don't seem all too thrilled, Scott. Is it Emma?"

Scott sighed. As painful as learning the truth about Emma Frost, and his personal failure as a father, that wasn't responsible for his somber expression at all.

Scott: "No it's not. I actually need to talk to you both. It's about John."

John: "Is something wrong?"

Scott: "It's about his mutant status. He's...his powers are undergoing some changes."

Elaine looked across to the living room where John was currently levitating three hot wheels cars. As far as she knew, he had only ever been able to focus on one object at a time. He must be practicing she figured. He did seem to enjoy passing stuff over at lunch by floating them over to whoever had asked for them. Maybe using his powers so often had helped him improve.

John: "Changes? You mean, he`s developed new ones?"

Scott: "No. Still telepathic and telekinetic. But they're growing stronger now. And at present we don't think it`s going to stop anytime soon."

Elaine: "Stronger? How much stronger? Stronger than Jean's?"

Now was the time to tell them. The Grey's were aware of Jean saving the team from certain doom. But they were not told exactly how she did it and what happened. It was all Scott could do to convince them that he hadn't abandoned their daughter on a mission, given the fact that no body was returned to them. Scott figured that it might be best not to tell them that their daughter had been crushed under a wall of water. But he had to explain her power surge, as well as John's if he expected their permission for what the Professor wanted to do.

Scott: "I really don't want to have to talk to you about this right now. Especially not today - don't want to ruin your Mother's Day. But the Professor was quite adamant that I do."

Both John and Elaine could see Scott's distress. If something were truly bothering him that badly, they had choice but to speak with him about it.

Elaine: "Scott, if something is bothering you, then you can talk to us about it. Anything. Especially if it concerns the wellbeing of our grandson."

Scott: "Thanks, Elaine. You asked if John`s powers are growing stronger than his mother`s? Here`s the thing - when Jean saved us, she exhibited a level of power unlike anything we`d ever seen before. And even before that, during the mission, her power levels were elevated."

John: "Could you give us an example? So we have some idea of what you`re talking about?"

Scott sighed. Professor Xavier had told him that in order to secure the cooperation of the Grey's, he was authorized to reveal as much about Jean's final mission as he had to.

Scott: "Well, for one, she locked onto an incoming missile and hurled it off course."

John's eyes widened and Elaine drew her hand up to her mouth in shock.

Elaine: "Good lord. Jeannie did that?"

Scott: "With relative ease. Her powers had shown phenomenal growth."

John: "But how? Jean was very versatile. But her powers were limited in strength."

Scott: "The Professor is of the belief that the true mutant talent of Jean, and now, John, requires specific conditions to activate. Their level of power prior to activation is just the tip of the iceberg."

John considered for a few moments. When he thought about Scott`s statement, it made sense.

John: "It's logical. Mutant powers manifest most often in the teenage years in response to hormonal surges and stresses and such. Those serve as triggers. So something has triggered John`s powers?"

Scott looked down and blushed intensely.

Scott: "You're gonna think I'm a terrible father, but...Emma tried to force her way into his mind during a therapy session and must have awakened it."

Elaine: "That goddamned woman again! But no Scott, I don't think ill of you - just that witch. I understand that you must have been lonely and emotionally vulnerable."

John: "So now John's abilities are increasing like Jean's were?"

Scott: "Well hers increased much more quickly. But yes. There have been a couple incidents."

Scott went on to explain about the need to place dampeners on John's telepathy and telekinesis.

John: "Is he in any danger?"

Scott: "No. He and those around him are safe."

Elaine: "Well that's good to hear."

Scott: "You must be wondering why I'm telling you all this. And why now."

John: "It did cross my mind a few times."

Scott: "It's like this..."

Professor Xavier, in the light if these recent developments, wished to investigate the genetic potential of the Grey bloodline. To do so, he required DNA samples from both John and Elaine, to try and determine which of them possessed the mutant X gene. Or whether they both had it and passed it along.

John: "I...see."

Scott: "I'll be talking to Sarah separately. But I'll need blood samples from her as well. And from...Gailyn and Joey."

It was Xavier's intention to determine whether any of John's cousins shared the psychic gift. Gailyn was still in her teens, even though sixteen was a little late for mutant powers to activate, there are cases where mutant powers manifest in the early twenties. So it was still possible that she was a mutant who had not yet manifested. And Joey was just twelve, for all they knew, he could very well be a mutant.

Scott: "The Professor just doesn't want this to take any of you unprepared."

Elaine: "Yes. Quite right, Scott. And we understand."

Scott: "In case Joey or Gailyn were to have their powers activate, and then surge, it wouldn't be wise to be unprepared. You both know that there are individuals out there who seek to persuade young mutants to misuse their gifts."

Both seniors nodded gravely.

Scott: "I don't know how Sarah will take it. But should our tests reveal that Joey and Gailyn possess the same potential that Jean had and John has, then it may be necessary for them to stay where they are offered the maximum protection. At the school."

Elaine: "She won't be thrilled. But if she believes they're in danger of being targeted, then she'll do what she must to keep them safe."

John: "Yes, she'd do what it takes. What about John? Is there any evidence to suggest that John might be targeted?"

It was not a sure thing. But Scott did mention the two women who had approached his son the night before last. They recognized that he was a telekinetic/telepathic mutant and offered to help him develop his gifts. The motives of the group, while not known to be of malevolent intent, were still shrouded in mystery.

Elaine: "I'd be very concerned too."

Scott deliberated with himself, wondering if he should tell them about the symbolic pendant of the group, and the fact that John found one in their attic, allegedly belonging to Jean. But in the end he decided against. He'd wait to see what their investigation revealed about the place. For all he knew, those people could be using a pendant of a common design and Jean could have gotten one somewhere entirely unrelated. It was even possible that the designs were similar to the ones John saw and he had simply been mistaken.

Scott: "I...uh...was kidnapped Friday night. And those women said they felt John`s panic and were drawn to him. But the Professor is not entirely certain that was the case."

Elaine: "Kidnapped huh? What a way to have fun on a Friday night."

Scott smiled a little dryly.

Scott: "We actually went out to buy gifts for Mother's Day."

Elaine: "Which I still haven't seen."

Scott: "Oh, your grandson took me to the cleaners."

Elaine grinned a tad bit too wickedly for a woman her age.

Elaine: "Sounds promising then."

John, who had been silent for a few minutes, spoke up.

John: "What do you mean the Professor's not sure the women were telling the truth?"

Scott: "Apparently, ever since John's power up, he's been radiating a unique telepathic signature. Each person radiates a specific frequency on the psionic band. But now, Xavier says he's detecting something else in addition to John's. The Professor said he first felt it when he entered John's mind to place blocks on his telepathy."

And that wasn't the least of it. The Astral Plane had altered, albeit very subtlety. All but the most talented telepaths would fail to notice it. But John's awakening had created some sort of psychic ripple on the Astral Plane. Even now, according to Xavier, it was still echoing and reverberating in the collective consciousness of humanity. Xavier had noticed the change and was now very concerned about who else might have felt it.

John: "So Xavier is wondering if those women sensed that new frequency John's emitting and want to exploit him?"

Scott: "Exactly. We haven't told him this yet. We don't want to scare him and what`s more, we don't want to risk someone reading that information off his mind and finding out. It`s safest if he doesn't know. That`s also why we haven't told him about our plan to run DNA tests on you guys."

Elaine: "And I suppose you won't tell Gailyn and Joey the real reason either?"

Scott: "No. It`s more important to keep it from John though. He`ll be the one more likely to come into contact with hostile telepaths trying to read his thoughts."

Both seniors nodded. They didn't like it that Scott and the Professor had assigned John to the junior X program. But they saw the necessity of it. In any case, it wasn't their place to tell him how to raise his son.

Scott: "Thanks for cooperating."

Elaine: "No thanks necessary. You`d better go talk to Sarah now. While John has Gailyn and Joey distracted, you can speak with her privately."

Scott: "Yeah. I`ll do that."


Joey: "That's so cool!"

"I know."

Joey: "I wish I was a mutant!"

Okay, mixed feelings there. Sure, it was great to have special abilities. But the bigotry and hostility of the general human population...not so nice.

"Well, you never know, Joey. You very well could be. In a year or two, don't be too surprised if you wake up to things floating around in your room."

Gailyn: "Can you like, read people's thoughts now?"

"Well, I've got more telepathic power than before - but I don't think so. I've never tried."

Well not without the guidance of Cerebro and on my own at least.

Gailyn: "I would so love to have that power! There`s this guy, totally hot, and I think he likes me, but I`m not sure. Cuz everyone says he`s gay for some Emo senior and...well, I just wish I knew."

"Okay...then."

Joey hadn't been hit by puberty yet. So the idea of attraction to members of the opposite (or same) sex was still `icky' to him. He grimaced and made a typical, disgusted, comment which prompted a reply from Gailyn.

Gailyn: "Sure, and a few years from now, you'll be asking me my opinion on a birthday present for some girl you'll be trying to impress. Eh, John?"

"I could see it happening."

Gailyn: "Well, if I were you, I'd have learnt how to read minds pronto."

"Yeah, you would."

She raised her eyebrows at me, clearly a little incredulous.

Gailyn: "Haven't you ever wanted to know what some girl thought of you?"

That I could answer very truthfully, and all she'd think was that I was being stubborn to back up my claim of not really caring about mind reading.

"Nope."

Gailyn: "Not a one?"

There was that incredulous look again.

Joey: "See. I'll be like John. I don't like no girls!"

I could not help but laugh hysterically. Oh Joey, you have no idea how right you are.

Gailyn: "Well, there's always boys."

Thankfully, I was spared further development of the conversation. Grandma had let out a scream of excitement more fitting to a teenaged girl than a woman her age.

Elaine: "The girls down at the salon are going to be flip their wigs when they see me wearing this."

Okay, so dad had given her the pearl necklace. Gailyn looked curious and immediately left to go see what the commotion was about, leaving me alone with Joey. Seconds later, Gailyn could be heard squealing and asking to try it on for herself. Shortly afterwards, so could aunt Sarah.

Joey: "Girls are so weird."

"Well, just give `em a chance. You might like them," I said, feeling like the world's biggest hypocrite.

"And besides," I continued humorously, "if you don't, like Gailyn says, there's always boys."

Joey punched me as hard as he could, ignored the comment, and asked me to float him up to the ceiling again.


We arrived back at the school at around eight Sunday night. Lorna and Alex had early classes to teach the next day, so they thanked us for inviting them along and headed off towards the mansion. I was about to go inside the house myself, but dad was lingering outside, digging around in the car trunk.

"What's that?"

Dad was closing some kind of case in the trunk. I'd never seen one quite like it before. Something...similar I'd seen in movies and stuff.

Scott: "Oh, I just got a new toolbox for car repair tools and stuff."

It really didn't look like a toolbox. Looked more like one of them fancy strongboxes in the movies. You know, the ones that secret agents used to carry about top secret stuff.

"Sure don't look like a toolbox."

Scott: "Oh it's not. I found it laying around in the Subbasement. And I needed a new toolbox. So why waste money on buying a new one if I could simply improvise with this thing?"

Yeah, that sounded like my frugal dad alright. I knew that case had the `top secret' look about it. Maybe the X-men used cases like that on missions and stuff, I figured.

Scott: "Go open up the house. I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Yeah, okay."

I left him to what he was doing and went inside, heading straight for my bedroom. I intended on taking a bath and turning in early myself. After all, I had to undertake my very first undercover mission the next day.

CLANK!

The noise was that which you'd expect if you dropped something heavy and metallic. It came from right outside, so I went over to my window and looked around. In the near distance, I could make out my father lifting his makeshift toolbox and struggling somewhat to walk towards the mansion.

"Dad?! Is everything okay?"

He, get this, jumped. What the heck he had to be so nervous about, I don't know.

Scott: "Yeah, son! I got it covered!"

"If you want me to, I can come levitate it to the mansion for you!"

Scott: "It's, okay. I can handle it!"

He made a show of being able to lift it. But once he thought my back was turned, I noticed him dragging it along the ground. Some people and their sense of pride just won't allow them to admit that they needed help. Silly them. It had to be humiliating trying to carry that case like that. So to spare him any embarrassment, and possible aches and pains, I quickly tossed my clothes back on and flew out the window towards him.

"No shame in asking for help, old man."

Scott: "I'm fine. And I`m not old."

He was struggling to carry it even as he said that. I telekinetically tried to seize the case from him. Being as stubborn as ever, he pulled back, attempting to keep in possession of it.

"Why are you being so difficult?!"

Scott: "I said I don't need any help!"

Honestly, all of that fuss over a dumb case of car tools? He pulled back harder, and I intensified my efforts in retaliation. The case was torn out of his hands and fell onto the ground hard. It popped open.

Scott: Forgot to lock the damn thing...

His thoughts carried due to his frustration and I picked up on it. There was something else there too. I got the feeling he didn't want me to see what was in that case. So, obviously, before he could rush up to it and lock it like he had forgotten to, I ran over and started scrutinizing.

Scott: "John, get away from that!"

Too late. I had opened the lid. Inside was a compartment holding syringes, vials of colored liquids and tubes and tubes of what looked to be blood. The case seem to have some sort of built in refrigeration unit. The inside of it was cold. Being that close to it, I could hear it humming faintly. It was so much more than a simple carrying vessel for tools. He'd lied to me. Looked me right to my face and lied to me!

"What the hell is this? Doesn't look like `tools` to me."

He quickly shut the case and activated the locking mechanism.

Scott: "I'm sorry I lied. But I had a good reason too."

I got up, hurt and angry. Neither of my parents had ever lied to me before. I appreciated that there were things that they couldn't tell me in their line of work. As and when such topics came up, they'd say that they couldn't discuss details. They'd withheld information. But they'd never ever lied.

"Good reason to? I'm sure all liars think they have good reasons to."

Scott: "The material in the case - it's of prime importance to the Professor. The details are strictly confidential. He hasn't authorized anyone else other than Hank and myself to - "

Thoughts were running through my head. Hank. Hank was their resident scientific genius. So of course he'd be involved. Judging by the blood tubes, that case must have been modified for carrying DNA samples. And the refrigeration unit built in must have been to prevent decay. The question was, when and where had he gotten those samples from. And of course, who?

"I take it those blood samples aren't yours. If they wanted yours they'd have simply sent for you and took them in the Med Lab."

Scott: "No. They're not mine."

He hadn't been anywhere out of the Mansion - except the mall on Friday night - since he came back from the Alkali Lake mission. And he sure as hell didn't carry along a case like that. And in any case, he'd have removed it from the car as soon as he got home even IF he had been taking samples (which he couldn't have since I was with him in the mall and he wasn't in any position to in the sewers).

Had he snuck out somewhere under cover of night Saturday he`d have logically also not left it in the car for a day. Even I knew that medical samples and such needed to be put into storage as quickly as possible. No, he wouldn't have left it lying around in the trunk, regardless of refrigeration. The only place he'd been after Friday night was -

"You took these when we went to grandma's didn't you?"

He didn't immediately answer. My thoughts were racing. Dad had let slip that what was in the case was of prime importance to the Professor. And he was now going to be running genetic tests on my family's DNA with Hank's help. The only reason I could see him wanting to do that now of all times was -

"Does this have anything to do with my power surge? You wanted to test them to see if they - "

Scott: "I knew you'd figure it out quickly if you saw what was in the case."

A confession if I'd ever heard one.

"So you had to lie? Why couldn't you have simply told me you weren't `at liberty to speak about it' like you always used to do?"

Scott: "Because we were worried that your telepathy might react to your curiosity and might pick up on a few things...and then misinterpret them."

"The Professor placed blocks on my telepathy. Or maybe you've forgotten."

Scott: "Those dampen your telepathy, not negate it entirely. If your `need' too know was great enough, you still may have been able to sense bits and pieces."

My position was firm. One, it was because of me they were going to be conducting these tests. And it was my family. I had the right to know what they intended to do concerning my powers and my family. Their aims and intentions with this research.

I didn't like feeling like I was being kept in the dark. And they'd done that before. When they'd performed brain scans on me and first found out about the so called unlimited potential, they didn't immediately tell me about it. I had to learn from the Professor in an offhand way whilst first working with Cerebro. They had no right to conduct research on someone and not keep them reliably informed. That'd had to be some infringement of ethics or something. Right?

Scott: "We can't tell you because of the security risks. We wouldn't want anyone reading this off your mind at some point and endangering you and possibly our family."

"So whose blood did you take?"

Scott: "I'm not at liberty to discuss that."

"Well I'll just have to go to the Professor myself."

I took off towards the mansion.

Scott: "John!"

No! Don't you even try to tell me to just keep my mouth shut about this! I won't let anyone do things behind my back that concern me!

For once, he didn't have a response to me and I made it to the mansion unhindered. The first people I ran into at the mansion were Ashley, Bobby and Ray. They took one look at my expression and cringed.

Ashley: "Hey John, long time no see. Um, are you okay?"

"No. But I will be."

Just as soon as I got some answers...

They were about to question me further, but I brushed them aside and told them I'd catch up with them sometime later. Opening my mind up to incoming psychic impressions, I attempted to locate the Professor on the grounds. It would have been easy to communicate with him telepathically. But I wanted to speak with him face to face. That way I could watch for his reactions and try to gauge whether he was lying to me or not.

After a few moments I managed to locate the Professor down in the Subbasement. Somewhere in the vicinity of the Med Bay. Made sense, he was probably anxiously awaiting the arrival of those DNA samples of my family he'd had dad collect for him. I boarded the elevator with the intention of giving both him, and Hank (who was most often in his lab down there) a piece of my mind.

In the past I'd never have dared to do something like that before. But now it was more than personal. I'd always seen the Professor as someone would see a saint. But ever since his attempt to pressure me into letting him inside my mind, I was made aware that he was a man. A man who would go to far lengths to do what he thought was right. No doubt he thought he was in the right concerning his latest idea. And had convinced my father of that. I did manage to compose myself a little when I stepped out of the elevator though. Might as well be cool about it. I pressed the buzzer in the Med Bay and entered.

Hank: "John?"

Sure enough, there were both there. Seemingly doing nothing - but I knew they were waiting. They both looked a little surprised to see me. At least dad hadn't called to warn them I was coming so they could avoid me. Although I was a little surprised that the Professor hadn't been able to sense my approach, given that I was pissed as hell and was bound to be radiating. Odd...

Professor Xavier: "Is something the matter?"

I decided not to waste any time and just get to the point.

"Why are you going to run genetic tests on my family's DNA? And whose DNA did you have dad sample?"

Their looks of shock were quickly brought under control.

"I saw the case and what was in it. It wasn't really all that hard to figure out. Given the timing and stuff."

Well, at least dad wouldn't get into trouble. He hadn't exactly told me. He'd only confessed when I'd already figured everything out on my own.

Professor Xavier: "Surely you must understand that there are some things - "

"Don't give me that crap."

Hank: "John!"

"If it concerns me, I expect to be told about it."

Professor Xavier: "For your own protection and that of your family, we had to keep it from you."

I ignored that statement. He told dad and Hank. They were both seniors and liable to come up against the worst enemies. If they could be trusted to keep such information safe from telepathic theft, then so could I - I`m a fucking telepath myself. For God's sake, my telepathic power level was at an ever increasing high. I could be trained to seal away my thoughts from prying minds. That last statement of the Professor's was just a lame excuse and I told them so.

The door slid open and dad came inside, lugging the case in after himself. Must have taken him so long because the case was heavy and he had to drag it to the mansion all on his own.

Scott: "I'm sorry, Professor. I didn't tell him."

Professor Xavier: "It's alright, Scott. I`m aware of that."

"You all have been treating me like some lab rat. From the first set of results - the brain scans - I was not informed when the results for those came out. I only found out days afterwards."

Hank looked away, slightly ashamed.

"You have been keeping me in the dark. And taking away my right to decide things. Like when you pulled that stunt to force me to grant you access to my mind."

The Professor didn't so much as look the least bit repentant.

"And now you're doing it again. Making decisions that will in some way affect me and not telling me why. Keeping me in the dark as if I`m some dumb lab animal with no mind of its own. Or just too stupid to be able to understand what you`re doing."

Scott: "Of course you're not dumb."

"Damn right I'm not. And - "

I mentally snatched the case from the table dad had deposited it on. I hovered it over to my side and assumed as intimidating a tone as I could manage.

"There's no way I'm letting you have these DNA samples unless you let me in on this right now."

Scott: "Oh for the love of God!"

Hank: "Um...be careful with that."

"Oh it's already been dropped twice tonight. I doubt anything would break if I were to drop it a third time."

Professor Xavier: "Stop this impetuous behavior at once, John. We don't have to explain ourselves to you. Your father - and us by extension - are acting in your best interests. Whether you see it or not. You are a minor and you are our responsibility. Much as parents, we don't owe you an explanation for our actions."

Ain't that just a load of bullshit.

"How many parents would send their kid off to join a quasi-military group of mutants, knowing full well he'd be put into physical and other types of danger? I`m no ordinary minor. Hell, with a father like mine, I've had to grow up before my time. You`re no ordinary guardians and this ain't no ordinary relationship we have. So don't think your excuses are going to work with me."

To emphasize my point, I began rotating the case in a slow spin. All their eyes were riveted on it. Of course I knew if I smashed it, they could simply go back to my grandparents' house and take more samples. But the important thing would be to show them how strongly I disagreed with their secretive methods and would not stand for being kept in the dark.

"I could spin it faster if you'd like. It'd save you time later on if I start centrifuging now."

Hank was the first one who cracked.

Hank: "Professor, maybe we should reconsider."

Scott: "He does raise some good points, sir."

Professor Xavier: "I will not be intimidated by a child. If he has his way now, it will only serve to encourage him that behaving in such a manner is an acceptable means of procuring cooperation."

"I will smash the case."

Professor Xavier: "You are rash and rebellious. Just two days ago you deliberately disobeyed direct orders from your superiors. The end result was beneficial that time, but what of the next? I refuse to be threatened by a child."

Child?! Child! Faster and faster the case spun round. And it wasn't me consciously doing it. As I'd been told before, my powers were reacting to my heightened emotions.

Scott: "John, take it easy..."

"Child?! So I'm a kid now am I?!"

CRACK!

The top of the case had shattered. Hank looked as if he'd been slapped. Taking a deep breath, I mastered my anger and set the case down. I wasn't going to throw a temper tantrum and give Xavier the satisfaction of being right - that I was behaving like a child. The case stopped spinning and I set it down next to Hank. He opened it and checked the contents.

Hank: "Thank heavens! Nothing is broken."

The Professor had the smallest of smirks. Obviously he thought he'd won some sort of a victory.

"I expect to have your word that I'll be informed when the results come out. Or else."

Xavier's look darkened.

Professor Xavier: "Or else what?"

"Or else I'll really start acting like a child."

Professor Xavier: "Is that some sort of threat?"

I scoffed. Of course it wasn't a threat.

"I know just how hyped you are about investigating that Rebirth Center. And you need me to do that, since I'm the one those women approached. And even if you decide to alter plans, you don't have any other `twice blessed` on any of the teams to take my place in any case. And we both know they only choose to help `twice blessed` psychics."

They all saw where I was going with it. I was the only way they had of getting in there undercover.

"If you keep treating me like a child, I'll start acting like one. Undercover missions are not exactly fit for children, are they?"

They all looked at me in utter shock. Dad was speechless. It was all God`s honest truth. They needed me on that mission. And they damned well knew it too. And there was no way in hell that Professor Xavier would want to scrap it. He was always most interested in psychic phenomena above all others. Small surprise since he was a psychic himself. And as it so happened, I was the only telekinetic/telepathic mutant in any of the teams. I had them by the balls.

"Well, I'm tired. Must be past this kid's bedtime. Nitey, nitey."

And with that statement, and an exaggerated yawn, I left them in the Med Lab...


The Morning After...

I woke up the next morning with a sense of...well not dread exactly. The night before, I'd made it home, had a bath and went directly to bed. Dad hadn't come busting down the door, demanding to speak with me. Which was something of surprise really. I thought back to the way I'd acted and the things I'd said. I knew that I was in the right to demand information on their plans. But the way I'd done it surprised even myself. I never dreamed I'd take it that far.

"Uh...good morning."

Dad was sitting at the table having a breakfast of pancakes.

Scott: "Morning."

Tentatively, I sat down and hovered a plate over. We ate in silence for a couple of minutes. I took the time to reflect on the night's events. At least dad tried to stand up for me the night before. He'd asked the Professor to reconsider after all. The least I could do was give a little.

"Dad, I'm sorry. Okay?"

He didn't respond and continued reading his newspapers.

"He's been keeping things from me that he shouldn't and I kind of lost it."

Dad opened his mouth, and for a moment I thought he was going to say something. But no, still no response, direct or otherwise. He just poured coffee down his throat. Damn it to hell! I hated the silent treatment worst of all. It made me feel like I wasn't even fit to waste breath on.

"You can't want to be part of the team on the one hand, and left outta things that concern me on the other."

Yeah, just keep sipping that damned coffee!

"With this secrecy of his, I'm beginning to wonder what else he's not telling me about my powers."

What, am I talking to myself here?

"You know what? All I can do is try. I regret the way I handled it. But I don't regret standing up for my right to know. And unless they give me their word, like I told them, they can kiss whatever cooperation they need from me goodbye."

At that, I left him to ponder and headed out for the mansion...


Whenever I was pissed off at something, I often opted for a good old shoot `em up video game. Senseless destruction did wonders for me in terms of relieving stress and ironing out tension. Now that I had access to the Danger Room courses for practice - having joined the Alpha Squad - I had a virtual reality simulator available for just such occasions.

Logan: "Whaddya doing down here so early, kid?"

His tone didn't seem hostile. And I wasn't sensing anything aggressive about him. So I guess maybe the events of the night before hadn't spread around to the rest of the staff yet.

"Just wanna cool off a little steam."

Logan: "Oh. I was just about to rip the Danger Room a new one myself. Care to join me?"

I paused, taken aback a little. When Logan `ripped the Danger Room a new one', he usually did it alone. And by rights, he was a senior X-man, and was there first. It was generous to offer.

"Um, yeah. Why not?"

And the plus. Logan never went for pussy Danger Room courses. There'd be ample opportunity to just engage in mindless violence until I was calm again.

Logan: "You look pissed. And I can smell it on ya. This calls for something special."

Ever the observant one. He pulled up a couple files on the computer terminal. I could see him setting the difficulty level.

Logan: "You wanna play around? Or do you want a real work out."

"Crank that bad boy up."

Logan grinned and increased the difficulty up a bit. Not enough that it would be dangerous. But enough to offer us both a real challenge. He was already dressed in a uniform, so whilst he tinkered around with the settings some more, I entered the changing room and slipped into one of the standard training outfits. By the time I got back out, he was all set.

Logan: "If you're getting swamped, make sure and tell me so I can cut the program."

"Sure."

We entered the Danger Room proper and Logan issued the voice command to the computer. The room flickered with holographic blue light and we found ourselves surrounded by...

"Ninjas?"

Logan: "Cyber ninjas."

I looked at him incredulously. The only cyber ninjas I were ever really acquainted with there Cyrax, Sector and Smoke.

Logan: "Hey. We have faced them before. When we went to take down a Japanese electronics research corporation supplying mutant scanning technology to anti-mutant groups here in the States. The compound was guarded by an army of these guys. Stay alert."

I nodded, told Logan that I was ready and he issued the command for the program to begin running. Instantly all the ninjas pulled out their weapons. An assortment of oriental weapons abounded. Not to mention kick ass war cries!

Logan: "Argh!"

And there went Logan, slashing aside a throwing knife, leaping onto one of the ninjas and ripping his metallic guts out. I entered the fray, sidestepping a blade strike and landing a heavy backhanded blow to the face of my would be assaulter. His head sparked and he stumbled to his knees. Snatching the blade from his hands mentally, I sent it flying into his chest, impaling him with his own weapon. He promptly fell flat onto his stomach and flickered out of existence.

Logan: "That's it! You`re doing great!"

Two more leapt into the air at me. One threw a volley of shurikens and the other had a sword poised. I was able to hold the sword wielder motionless mid-air and simultaneously seize control of the other's shurikens. Mentally throwing the shurikens back to the first ninja was enough to temporarily subdue him. As for the second, I levitated him up high, then flung him down into the writhing shuriken thrower with all the power I could muster. One was crushed and the other gutted by the sword. They both sparked severely and faded.

"Logan, you call this a workout? I haven't even broken a sweat yet."

Logan: "True. I underestimated you."

Logan issued another voice command and the ninjas all paused.

Logan: "Computer, increase difficulty by two levels."

There was a lengthy silence. The computer appeared to not have registered Logan's command.

"Maybe you didn't say it loud enough to be picked up by the sensors."

Logan repeated the command a second time, much louder than the voice he'd been using before. The silence continued.

Logan: "Okay, I think Hank's gonna have to give the systems a checkup."

Computer: Maximum danger level initiated.

"L-Logan?!"

Logan: "Computer! Abort program!"

Computer: Survival mode activated. Participants - eight. Time duration - three hours. Opponents - unlimited. Opponent skill level - unrestricted. Realism - advanced.

To say I was nervous would have been an understatement of the century. I was downright scared shitless. The computer continued to declare maxed out settings. From what I could make out, we were soon going to be swamped by constantly spawning opponents of the highest skill level for three hours! Survival mode meant you could not leave until you'd lasted out the time limit. And the computer had adjusted the difficulty assuming eight people would be participating.

Logan: "Abort program! Override code - delta 264!"

The computer did not accept the command and instead chose to,

Computer: Program activated. You may now begin.

Logan: "Get behind me, John!"

I didn't have any complaints to that order! Not when I saw the changes that were occurring. The ninja's appearance changed and armor materialized over their torsos and limbs, with matching helmets on their heads. Their physiques appeared to alter and their musculature improved significantly. Synchronized, they all began running towards us.

Logan roundhouse kicked the nearest and he slid backwards. Another managed to get close enough to slash him across the face with a sai. To both our shock, he actually bled! The wound closed quickly due to his healing factor. Normally, you'd only feel pain (from mild to severe depending on difficulty) but with the advanced realism setting turned on it was possible to be physically wounded...

Logan: "John, I can only buy us time. Contact someone telepathically!"

I nodded, backed further away from the advancing ninjas and reached out mentally for anyone who could hear me.

Betsy: John? What's the matter, love?

Me and Logan are trapped in the Danger Room. The computer's freaking out! Get Hank down here fast!

She wasted no more time trying to ask me further questions, and instead severed the mental link to go fetch Hank. As soon was my mind withdrew, I was accosted by one of the uber ninjas that had managed to get by Logan. Wielding two short swords, he leapt into the air right at me. As before, I attempted to halt the attacker by holding him midair. That part of the plan worked. What I forgot about was that the intelligence and skill of our opponents had been increased.

The hovering ninja threw one of its swords at me, striking me in the left leg. I stumbled, but managed to keep standing.

"Motherfucker!"

My scream of pain snapped Logan out of the enraged state he was in, trying to hold back as many of them as possible.

Logan: "John!"

White hot pain flared in my leg, breaking my psychic focus and releasing the ninja I previously held midair. Without a moment's hesitation, it rushed at me, sword wielding arm flailing, slashing me across the my right arm and chest. Blood streamed from the wound. I screamed again and fell down that time. The ninja raised his sword over me, ready for a death blow. I tried to stop the downward movement of the sword, but due to pain I couldn't focus as strongly, and the ninja's arm only slowed slightly.

That's when I heard Logan's animalistic growl. He lunged in between us, blocked the sword with one clawed hand, and decapitated the ninja with the other.

Three more approached. One had both arms hacked off, by Logan. The other's cybernetic heart was ripped out amidst a shower of sparks. But the third managed to stab Logan through the gut and repeatedly slash him mercilessly. Temporarily (I hoped) subdued, Logan fell to the ground, healing factor unable to keep up with the wounds these ninjas were inflicting.

With Logan down, I was on my own. Not only was the very real fear that I was about to die paralyzing my ability to act, but the blood loss was starting to get to me. And they kept right on coming, more and more...

"Logan! Logan, get up!"

Logan trembled but gave no other sign that he'd heard me. The sheer level of hopelessness started to overwhelm me. Thoughts I couldn't control started running through my head. They say when you're about to die your whole life flashes by. I kept seeing images of my family, friends. Regret at some of the things I'd said and done. With death looming so near, I found myself wishing for someone, anyone, to save me. Because I sure as hell couldn't save myself. I finally broke down and let myself cry as the darkness crept in...


Betsy: "Where the fucking hell is Kurt?!"

Professor Xavier: "I'm not sensing him anywhere, at least not on the grounds!"

Betsy uncharacteristically swore whilst she and several other X-men struggled to override the errant Danger Room computer. Remy, who had been monitoring the situation from the console drew their attention to the screen.

Remy: "Mon dieu! Logan`s down. John`s wounded! It looks bad!"

Professor Xavier: "He...he's losing consciousness!"

A short distance away, Rogue and Piotr were attempting to rip open the sealed doors of the Danger Room whilst Scott repeatedly pummeled it with full strength optic blasts. Each time they succeeded in piercing the doors, the repair droids would seal the rift near instantaneously. The Danger Room was built to withstand the extreme abilities of mutants, and with it being on the aggressive, it's self-repair mechanisms were at maximum.

Scott: "This fucked up machine!"

And then it began. A rumbling that shook the very floor beneath them. The warning lights above the sealed doors began to flicker.

Rogue: "What the hell was that?"


Scott, Piotr and Rogue ran into the control room to find everyone gazing fixedly at the viewing console, eyes wide in awe. Instantly, all three of their gazes fell upon the screen.

Scott: "John..."

His son stood over Logan, his body seemingly wreathed in what appeared to be golden flame. Scott knew enough about to psychics to realize that it must be what they called an `aura'. An electromagnetic manifestation of the astral body - visible to non-psychics when enormous energy was being channeled.

Ninjas were leaping at John from all directions. Only to be impaled and annihilated by shafts of violently pulsating, golden, light. The Danger Room attempted to compensate by spawning increasing numbers of ninjas, until the entire room was occupied. Before anyone could react to that, John rose several feet into the air and the psychic flames around him burst forth, obscuring all vision in a luminescent blaze. At the same time, the tremors returned, stronger than before, tripping off the subbasement's earthquake alarms.

Professor Xavier: "This cannot be right...he`s unconscious. I do not sense him."

The Professor seemed to speaking more to himself than anyone else. When the intensity of the light died down, the console revealed John to be lying next to Logan, unmoving. The area around them utterly decimated, metal panels ripped apart, revealing shredded circuit boards and wires. The walls were slashed open and sparks could be seen everywhere along their length. The Danger Room was in a word - totaled.

Computer: Critical damage sustained. Shutdown...imminent...

At that, the Danger Room computer went dead.

Hank: "Quickly, get the door down whilst the repair systems are non-functional!"

Not wasting any time, Scott ran towards the Danger Room entrance...


Professor Xavier: "Thank you, Joshua. You may leave now."

The wounds John had suffered were far too severe for Rune to heal completely. So The Professor had sent for a student, Joshua Foley, who's powers specialized in healing. It was fortunate they had someone of his caliber at the school, or John would no doubt have died. The trauma and shock from the blood loss would have seen to that.

Logan had since recovered, his healing factor had caught up once the continuous assault of his body had ceased. He now joined several X-men around the bed where John lay. Several others were similarly surrounding Kurt, who lay resting on another bed in the Med Bay. He was found unconscious with a needle mark on his neck in the back yard of the mansion.

Scott: "John? John, can you hear me?"

Alex: "Hey, buddy. You gave us a scare there."

The boy didn't respond and continued to stare vacantly into the air in front of him, eyes unblinking. The door to Med Bay slid open and Hank walked in, a grave expression playing across his face.

Hank: "I've just finished running the diagnostic on the computer."

Logan: "And?"

Hank: "This was no glitch on the AI's part. Someone hacked into the system and manually adjusted the settings. Then they locked down the AI so it wouldn't accept override commands or console input from the control room."

Everyone's looks darkened. Enraged whispers abounded. The only people not taking part in the tirade were Logan, Scott, Alex and Lorna. They were too occupied with John.

Betsy: "This was well thought out! They incapacitated Kurt so he couldn't teleport inside the Danger Room and get anybody out."

But was the intended target Logan or John, or perhaps other members of the teams?

Professor Xavier: "We've obviously got a mole somewhere in the mansion. And my mental scans have not revealed anything of consequence."

The sound of Lorna sniffling and mumbling little comforting words to John drew their attention to his corner once again. Lorna was always an emotional person, and the sight of this was very hard on her. Especially as it was John, someone who she had helped raise like a son.

Lorna: "Why is he like this? It`s like he`s..."

Lorna was about to say `dead', but stopped short of it in time. John was alive - that was a blessing. Once there's life, there's hope, she told herself. Squeezing John's hand, Logan replied to Lorna`s question.

Logan: "He's had a near death experience."

Professor Xavier: "He's catatonic. When the mind is confronted with trauma it cannot cope with, it sometimes withdraws into the perceived safety of the subconscious."

Xavier dealt with this before. With Jean. When she saw her friend, Anne Richardson, knocked down by a car, the shock of it awakened her telepathy and she linked with the dying Anne, and was almost drawn into death with her. Fortunately that was not the case, but it did leave her catatonic, which was why the Professor had been contacted by a mutual friend of her father's in the first place.

Lorna: "But...how long is he gonna be this way?"

Professor Xavier: "Sometimes they come out of this state on their own. Sometimes, they need...help. But when they do recover from a near death experience, they're forever changed."

That drew worried expressions from some present. The Professor was quick to elaborate.

Professor Xavier: "In most cases once they recover, assisted by therapy, they lose the typical fear of death and gain a new appreciation for life. Let`s just give him a few days. We`ll wait and see if he snaps out of it on his own. If not, then Betsy and I will enter his mind and lead him back."

Hank: "In the meantime, I think we should focus on tightening security and tracking down whatever rat we may have lurking about."

All were in favor of this. They had work to do. The Professor beckoned everyone towards the door, leaving John alone with his family and Logan, who'd tried his best to keep him safe.

Scott: "Logan?"

Logan: "Mhmmm?"

Scott: "I saw the footage the computer recorded. I just wanna say thank you. You don't know how much it means to me that you fought so hard."

Logan: "It...didn't help. They still took me down...got to the kid."

Scott: "Don't say that! They'd have torn him to pieces if you weren't there. Before he even got the chance to...before his powers erupted. It bought him time, you helped save his life, Logan."

Logan hadn't seen the footage the Danger Room computer recorded of the event. But he had seen the abject ruin the training room had been left in. Whatever John did that was responsible for it had inflicted so much damage to the Danger Room's vital systems that it was forced to shutdown - saving them both. With his healing abilities being pushed so close to overload, Logan knew that even he would have succumbed to the injuries eventually.

Logan: "He saved us both."

Scott: "I just...I saw it with my own eyes. And yet, just like with Jean, I couldn't believe he was capable of that."

Logan: "Well, I guess he takes a lot after her. He's amazing."

Scott: "Yes, he is. And I`m not going to lose sight of that again."

Scott's face twisted a little and he looked away quickly from Logan, unwilling to show such weakness. Alex and Lorna, who had been silent during the exchange, noticed the change in Scott's demeanor.

Alex: "Scott?"

Scott: "This morning...I wouldn't talk to him. Not even after he apologized, I was too goddamned stubborn. And now -"

Lorna: "Wouldn't talk? Apologize for what?"

Alex gave Lorna a look that told her now was not the time to ask, and stepped over to give his brother's shoulder a comforting squeeze.

Alex: "He is gonna wake up, Scott. He's stubborn too. He's gonna beat this and come out on top."

Logan took a look at the three of them and began feeling out of place. Looking down at his son, Logan made a silent promise to him. That he'd hunt down whoever was responsible for getting him hurt in such a manner and return the favor tenfold.

Logan: "I - uh - I'm gonna go help the others."

They nodded in response and Scott thanked him again. If you only knew, Logan thought, that you're thanking me for trying to protect my own kid. Giving John's head a gentle stroke, Logan left the Med Bay with thoughts of vengeance echoing through his mind...

To Be Continued...


End Notes: A lot of you have been asking in past emails why John's powers hadn't flared yet. Remember, patience. His abilities were so pitifully low that it's gonna take time, even with phenomenal growth. I hope you were satisfied in this chapter (having to wait six chaps for something more in Phoenix's league). I just don't want to rush and have John becoming so ridiculously overpowered too soon - cuz then he won't really have any personal challenges if he has the power to whip everyone's asses at the outset. Well thanks for reading and, lemme know what you think Byez.