Disclaimer: The New Mutants and respective members of Generation X are property of Marvel Comics, but Dawn belongs exclusively to me. I am not being paid for this--it is merely a little eccentricity of mine that happens to bring others amusement. Comments and suggestions are welcome at malfam@inlink.com--flamers will be ignored. I hope everyone enjoyed this disclaimer, 'cause I ain't doin' it again.

Author's Note: All right, I confess I've been eager to try this for some time. Where this fits in the New Mutants' continuity I really have no idea--probably shortly after Karma leaves (the second time, that is). If you notice some discrepancies, oh well. I'm doing this for fun (dammit, Jim, I'm a writer, not a historian!) so don't fret over it or anything. Just sit back, enjoy, and I'll try to do these guys some credit, okay? And BTW: no, this doesn't really fit into my Dawn Arc thingie, but heck, it might someday! I just did this for kicks, all right? Spur of the moment and all that. I like her, so she's in here--deal with it. ;)

Circles 1/?
By Tapestry

Danielle reluctantly extracted herself from her bed, sighing softly. She glanced at her alarm clock and moaned to herself--it was about five o'clock in the morning, and training sessions were at six. Dani had just enough time to shower, change, and eat breakfast before she had to report to the Danger Room with the others, and she was far from happy about it.

Doug, I swear, I'm going to get you for this, she thought, pulling on a soft flannel shirt and faded jeans. Next time you even *joke* about rescheduling the sessions I'm going to have Brightwind tap-dance on your little blond head.

With a grunt of annoyance, Dani carefully stepped around the books, clothing, and various papers coating her floor, vowing to herself that one day she would discover the color of the carpet. She *knew* she had seen it once, but for the life of her she couldn't remember if it had been green, grey, blue or beige. Illyana, Doug, and Bobby were already placing bets on how long it would take for Magneto to demand she clean her room.

Dani strode out of her room and downstairs to the kitchen, deciding to shower after breakfast to save a little time. She wondered if she should fix her own breakfast this morning--it was, after all, Doug's turn to cook...

All thoughts--of food or otherwise--were abruptly nipped at the bud as Dani stepped into the kitchen. There were four bodies scattered around the kitchen floor--three boys and a girl. One, an African-American with a shaved head, was half-sprawled across a chair as if he'd been thrown there, twisted into a position that made Dani wince, and she found it difficult to believe that they had all wandered in to sleep there for the night. The other three were all in a similar state--unconscious, limp as rag dolls, and strewn about the kitchen as carelessly as a child's toys. They were in casual wear, and all looked around her age or younger, but they were all far too still...

Dani didn't even hesitate--she moved over to the intercom and pressed Sharon Friedlander's number and didn't stop until the nurse answered.

"Mmm?" came a sleepy female voice after five tries.

"Sharon, it's Mirage," Dani said. "We've got a problem in the kitchen--about four of them, actually."

"What?" came the startled reply. "Please explain, Danielle."

"There are four kids lying in the kitchen, all of them unconscious," Dani explained, fidgeting nervously with the soft leather straps around her loose ponytail as she glanced at said kids. "I don't think its an attack, but they don't look so good. Can you and Mr. Corsi come and check it out, as of five minutes ago?"

"Be right there," Sharon said, and Dani was rewarded with an instant dialtone. Dani turned off the intercom and looked over the intruders, caution warring with concern. None of them appeared to be in distress, but still, she was anxious for Sharon and Tom Corsi to arrive. She had never been overly squeamish, but when four strangers appeared in the kitchen one tended to get a little edgy.

Finally, curiosity won, and she bent over the nearest body, which happened to be the girl's. She was fairly young by the look of her--about Rahne's age if anything--with brilliant sapphire hair divided by a thick streak of white, which reminded Dani of Rogue, though the girl's hair was more than waist length; much longer than Rogue's had ever been. She was clothed in a well-worn black leather jacket, dark blue jeans, and a grayish-blue T-shirt. There was nothing even remotely intimidating about her despite the punk-hair and jacket, and in that slightly curled and strangely child-like position she reminded Dani more of a three-year old than a super-villain.

Hmm. No bruises, scars, or blood. That's good. Then Dani took a closer look, and her eyes widened with alarm as a seemingly obvious observation suddenly shoved itself into her brain.

Oh, shit! She's not breathing!

Dani tried to turn the girl over so she could administer CPR as Sharon had taught her, but for some reason she couldn't get a decent grip on the girl's shoulders. Her fingers touched the leather of the jacket, but it was as if the jacket covered only air instead of an arm. The girl seemed to have no substance whatsoever, and when Dani tried to touch the girl's face her hand slid right though it, resulting in a strange tingling sensation. Dani was certain the girl was dead until she stirred slightly, murmuring something softly under her breath.

Dani blinked in surprise, quickly withdrawing her fingers from the girl's insubstantial cheek. With a unintelligible mumble the girl shuddered a little and curled up a little tighter as if nothing had happened, sighing softly. Dani rubbed her head in confusion, fear draining away again and being replaced by an overflow of bewilderment just as Tom and Sharon rushed in, both with med-kits slung over their shoulders and Tom with his gun at his side. Tom was fully dressed, but Sharon looked as if she had just crawled out of bed, black hair still wild and tangled. The nurse immediately bent over the body nearest to her, which was the boy half-falling off the kitchen chair. She checked his pulse, then sighed with relief.

"Pulse is strong, breathing's good--I think he'll be okay," she said, glancing at Dani. "Danielle, what about that one?"

"She... she's not breathing," Dani told her, "but she's alive--I just saw her move. Here--" Dani put her hand over the girl's neck, trying to feel for a pulse, but was again rewarded with having her hand slide right through her neck. The girl frowned almost imperceptibly, but slept on, apparently oblivious. Sharon's eyes widened noticeably, but she just said, "She's probably a mutant, then. Colossus doesn't breathe either--"

"Sharon," Tom called softly from beside one of the other bodies, looking grim.

"Tom?" she replied.

"This kid's not breathing at all," he told her. "No pulse, either."

Sharon scampered over to the boy, and Dani did the same. His back was to her, and all Dani could see was his ruffled red-brown hair over the edge of his leather jacket. Sharon rolled the boy over, and Dani couldn't stifle a gasp as she noticed that the lower section of his face was wrapped with a black, gauze-like cloth.

Sharon, well used to burn victims from her years as an ER nurse, was unfazed. She took hold of his wrist for a moment, searching for a pulse, then instructed Tom to move back and give her working room. She pulled down the bandages around his face-

And was almost scorched by the blue-white flames pouring from beneath them.

"Holee--!" Tom exclaimed, grabbing Sharon's shoulders and hauling her out of the way before the flames could touch her.

"I think it's safe to say he's a mutant as well," Sharon said, sounding remarkably calm despite the fact her face had lost all color.

Dani tore her eyes away from the hypnotic fire burning within the stranger, feeling a little nauseous despite herself. From his remaining features, Dani knew that he would probably have been very handsome if he had retained all of his face, and shuddered a little to think that it could very well have been *her* lying on the floor with half of her face swallowed in an inferno had her genes decided to take a slightly different twist.

Spirits, I never even thought about how lucky we've all been mutation-wise, she thought, pulling herself back together. We could've ended up like him...

"Sharon, I think *all* these kids are mutants," Dani said after a moment. "Look at him."

She pointed to the remaining boy, who was lying a few feet away, dressed in a ratty tank-top and rather too-large jeans. Well, Dani was *assuming* it was a boy--he actually looked more like a melting gray candle then anything. His skin hung off of him loosely, and was a strange slate grey that vaguely reminded Dani of rubber.

Sharon shook her head, sending her loose hair frizzing about her wildly. "At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they were more demon bears," she said sourly. "The only thing I need to know is that we can't leave them here in the kitchen. Tom, stretcher. Now."

The erstwhile policeman shook himself out of his shock and went to fetch a stretcher as Sharon carefully began to re-wrap the young man's face. Dani, unsure of what else to do, moved the African boy from the chair to the floor, where he would be a little more comfortable. The boy stirred slightly, but not so much as to indicate he was anywhere near regaining consciousness.

Tom returned with a stretcher and looked at his colleague. "Who first, Sharon?" he inquired.

"Him," she directed, pointing to the bandaged boy at her feet. "Dani, go wake up Sam and 'Berto. We're going to need some help here."

"Yes ma'am." Dani didn't even think of contradicting Sharon. In all matters medical, Sharon was the one in charge, no matter how dire the situation. While this hardly seemed to constitute as a full-blown emergency, Dani wasn't feeling chipper enough to do anything other than Sharon requested, hoping the two boys wouldn't be *too* irked...

And if they are, too bad. They should be up by now anyway.

About twenty minutes later, the former policeman and three disgruntled students hovered around the infirmary as Sharon puttered about with some machinery. She finally sighed and shook her head, collapsing into a nearby chair.

"I handled those two the best I could, and I think they'll be all right," she told them as she nodded towards the grey boy and the comparatively normal African-American, running a hand through her snarled hair. "Those two, though..." she gestured vaguely towards the bandaged boy and the unconscious girl, "I can't even get a decent fix on them with the medical equipment. *He* shouldn't even be alive judging from the readings I'm getting, and *she* doesn't even exist! Something odd is going on here, but it's so early I don't think I could stay awake long enough to think it over properly anyway."

"And y'all found these kids in the *kitchen*, Dani?" Sam said, shaking his head. "This is too weird for words. Where's Magneto?"

"Probably still out taking his morning walk," Roberto put in, voice only slightly muffled through the cot his head was against. "And you can bet he'll raise all hell when he gets back, too."

"Watch your language, 'Berto," Sharon said sharply. Roberto only muttered something to the cot and went back to sleep.

"Alert as always." Dani rolled her eyes. "But the bigger question is: what are we supposed to *do* with these guys? We know they're mutants, but why are they here?"

Just then, Tom tensed. "I think we might be able to ask *them* that question," he said tightly, hand going to his holster. "The girl's waking up."

Danielle spun around to discover that the girl was, indeed, stirring somewhat, moaning softly to herself as she propped herself up, leaning on her elbow as she rubbed her head. Cautiously, Sharon slipped out of the chair and approached the girl, chewing on her lip as she searched the girl for any signs of hostility.

"Hey there," Sharon said, leaning next to (but not exactly beside, Dani noticed) the girl. "You all right?"

"Uhnnn..." The girl looked up with wild, confused blue eyes, wearing an expression Dani knew only too well, for she had seen it many times before on wounded animals just before they were about to attack.

"*Sharon*--" she began, just as the girl lashed out.

"*Don't TOUCH me*!" the stranger shrieked, bolting upright in the cot. Dani felt a red-hot pain slice through her temples as a violent blue light exploded from the girl, momentarily blinding her. The pain made her head throb, and she could tell from the thin cries of her classmates and teachers that she hadn't been the only one affected. Stars danced across her vision and her head rang like a bell, but the sensation was familiar...

"Girl's a psi..." Sam managed to choke from somewhere across the linoleum. Dani struggled to her knees, head swimming, and tried her best to think of a solution for their problem before they ended up so much brain-jello.

She's a real psi, and probably about the Prof's league, she thought dizzily, bracing herself against the counter. I don't dare use my power--it'll only make things worse, and she could probably push it right back on me. Only thing to do is grit my teeth and remember the Professor's shielding techniques...

Still, she couldn't help but scream as the second wave of attacks hit her head-on, reminiscent of having someone pouring battery acid and lemon juice over her brain. She started to black out, sliding down onto the tiles ever so slowly...

"What... what are you doing?!" came a young, slightly panicked voice from somewhere to her right. Dani cracked a heavy eyelid, struggling to identify the speaker even as her body tried to convince itself that things would be *so* much better if she just went to sleep...

Suddenly, the pressure on her brain stopped, and Danielle found herself with nothing more than a faint headache to mark the attack. She looked up carefully, wary of her throbbing head, and discovered that the voice she had heard belonged to the black kid they had found. He too had regained consciousness, and he had moved to the girl's bedside, where he grabbed hold of her shoulder and forced her to look him in the eye.

"You... you're Dawn," he said slowly, as if struggling to remember something vital. "Dawn. Dawn, why are you attacking these people? What's wrong?"

The girl blinked wildly, pupils still dilated with fear, but seemed to become more confused than angry at his touch. She raised a shaking hand to her head and squeezed her eyes shut, as if in pain. Dani watched with growing interest--something odd was definitely going on, and if she could figure it out without actually participating, well, all the better.

"E-E-Ev..?" the girl--Dawn, Dani reminded herself--faltered. "You're name's... Everett? Yeah, t-that's r-right. M-my head... hurts I can't... think straight... where are we...? Everything's wrong..."

Uncertainly, Everett reached around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug as the girl began to cry tears of real pain. It was no act, either--Dani wasn't a pure telepath, but her powers, being focused mainly on emotional states, confirmed that the girl was speaking the truth.

She's confused, so is he... and I don't think either of them know where they are, she thought as she tried to decide what to do. Is this just some big, weird mistake? I think the girl's broadcasting a little--it feels kind of like what that little creep Empath does, but you can *tell* her emotions are her own.

:Wot's... goin' on?: came a weary mental voice, causing Dani to nearly jump out of her skin in surprise. She turned her head so fast her neck made an audible >crack<, and discovered that the boy whose upper torso had been replaced by flame had sat up, and was staring at everyone with an expression of complete bewilderment.

"We would ask the same to you," Sharon said authoritatively, drawing herself up to her full meager height as she picked herself off the floor. "Where did you people come from?"

:Wot? What're yer talkin' about? Which people?:

"Them," Tom said, waving a hand at Everett, Dawn, and the still unconscious unknown resting on the cot beside him. "Who are they? Why were you in our kitchen?"

:Yer wot?: the boy blinked, looking nothing other than confused.

Sharon moaned to herself. "Damn," she swore quietly. "From what I've seen, I think we've got a case of mass amnesia here. We probably won't get anything from them until they recover."

"Oh yeah, this is a problem," Sam commented unnecessarily. "Any words of wisdom, Chief?"

"About this?" Dani sighed. "Nope. Sorry. But for the record, just remember to look both ways before crossing the street, and don't lick any toasters."

"Your words are inspiring as always, menina," Roberto drawled, face still buried in the cot. Dani hadn't even thought he was still awake, psionic sucker-punch or no.

"Don't make me hurt you, Bobby."

"Kids, *please*," Tom said, rolling his eyes.

:Excuse me, but wot's goin' on 'ere?!: the boy interrupted. :Where am I?:

Before anyone could even think of answering him, the infirmary door was opened and Magneto, Master of Magnetism and current headmaster, strode into the room, an unreadable look on his saturnine features. He abruptly froze in place as he noticed the 'company,' his gaze flickering over the visitors quickly before he turned it on his students.

"Danielle, Samuel, I trust there is an *excellent* reason for this disturbance, is there not?" he said calmly. Dani only let out a gentle groan and massaged her forehead. Though not yet in any real pain, she had a feeling that a headache would be forthcoming from the ensuing conversation.

Continue To Chapter Two

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