Disclaimer: Hellions, GenX, and the New Mutants belong to Marvel Comics. Dawn belongs to me.
Author's Note: Well, here by popular demand is Circles 5! Sorry for the delay, but I've been so caught up in... well, everything, that I've been neglecting this one... so here it is! Look, Magneto and the White Queen get into a fight! Fun, huh?
Dawn flitted around the School for a while longer, then settled down atop the mansion. She stared into the pale blue sky and breathed deeply, trying to puzzle out why she couldn't seem to get any air in her lungs. It wasn't *bothering* her, but it was decidedly strange...
And then there was that odd sensation she'd gotten when that blonde girl had showed up, and that wonderful horse...
:Sky-sister...: whispered a soft, baritone voice in her mind. Dawn stiffened and looked around for the speaker.
"Who's there?" she asked, her wings mantling instinctively. She scrambled to her feet, braced for trouble.
Hot, moist air hit the back of her neck, blowing her hair into face. This was proceeded by a whinny that sounded almost exactly like a laugh and the soft sound of beating wings. Dawn blinked and shoved the hair from her eyes as she turned around, almost unable to believe her senses.
"Brightwind?" she said, surprised. "You can *talk*?"
:To thee, yes, sky-sister,: Brightwind answered silently, bucking his head as he hovered a few feet above the shingles. :Thou didst doubt mine intelligence?:
"Well, no, but--you didn't say anything around Dani so I just assumed..."
Brightwind snuffled gently. :Beloved... aye. Sad it is that she cannot hear me as thou dost--but she be mortal yet, and her mind-magic be different than thine.:
"Er." Dawn blinked. "But--I was under the impression you two were bonded together. Why are you *talking* to *me*? Doesn't this break some kind of rule, talking to uninitiated mortals..?"
The stallion lipped her hair affectionately--Dawn got the oddest sensation it was the kind of touch one might get from an elder brother. :I did not call thee sky-*sister* for effect--'tis naught but the truth. Thou, in thine own way, art as much guardian and collector of life as I. As for the mortal part? Who said thou wert *mortal*? Thou hath been touched by a god, known to thou or not.:
Dawn shook her head rapidly. "Wait, hold up for a second--I'm not *mortal*? What the hell are you talking about?! Am I dead?!"
:Mmm... not precisely.:
"Then I'm alive?!"
:In a way.:
"'In a way'? 'IN A WAY'? How can someone be alive 'in a way'?! It's either one or the other!"
Brightwind bucked his head, wings still keeping him suspended in the air despite the apparent lack of effort. :I cannot tell thee what exactly thou hath been subjected to, but be sure that 'tis of no consequence. Thou'rt here, and thou'rt able to act, what more couldst thou want?:
Dawn gave him a dry look. "To know *why*," she said shortly. "I mean, a pegasus flies up to the roof, tells me I'm not alive *or* dead, and then doesn't even see fit to explain it to me! Brightwind, this kind of thing is invariably going to tick people off once in a while."
Brightwind almost managed to shrug. :Thine emotional state matters not to the powers that be,: he said philosophically. :'Twas not mine intention to upset thee, however, merely to inform thee of thine lot. I do not direct the Gods or Powers, they direct me. And even they are but strands in Karnilla's web.: He hesitated, then added. :Although I believe thou will become *quite* familiar with her in the near future.:
"My, now isn't *that* reassuring," she muttered. She sighed. "But thanks for the warning... I guess. At least now I'll be *prepared* for disaster."
:Did I say thine fate would hold disaster?: Brightwind inquired, flicking an ear forward. :Who can say? Mayhap 'twill hold what thou desireth most.:
"What I desire most is to know what the hell you're talking about."
Brightwind made a equine version of a chuckle. :Ah, the falcon bares her talons, I see! Thou wouldst make a fine Valkeryie--wert thou not already bonded to another.:
Dawn stared at him for a moment, then just shook her head. "You know what?" she said, holding out her hands defensively. "Just stop it. Right now. You're not going to explain it, and I don't want to know it. I'm even afraid to ask."
Brightwind snorted approval; his breath smelt of fresh flowers and alfalfa. :Thou shouldst not be, but thou'rt more intelligent than most not to. The answer would surely bring thee much grief.:
"Then why did you *mention* it?"
:Think of it as... a test.:
Dawn rubbed her head, grimacing. "Amnesia. Wings. Talking pegasi. I don't know how much more of this I can take..."
The stallion chuckled again. He pranced on air a bit, his hooves skittering ever so lightly across the worn tiles of the rooftop. Dawn noticed he wasn't even moving his wings anymore, as they were fully extended but immobile--he was just... floating.
:I have it on the highest authority that thou couldst take considerably more,: he chided gently as the wind played with his long, silver tail. It streamed behind him like a banner, flashing in the sunlight.
"Ack!" Dawn cried melodramatically, pressing the back of her hand against her forehead. "Stop it! You're mocking me, aren't you, horse?! You're *trying* to push me over the edge. Don't deny it!"
Brightwind said nothing, but took off with a powerful downbeat of his wings that nearly threw Dawn off the roof. She staggered for a moment to regain her balance, wings flailing a little to help her center herself, and she watched Brightwind glide off into the sky. Apparently their conversation was over.
Dawn, however, was feeling a little more shaken then she would have cared to admit. Her brain was doing an instant replay of the conversation, and, upon reflection, the pegasus had "said" some very disturbing things. Not mortal? Already bonded to another? What on earth had he been talking about?
Damn. Ignorance *is* bliss. This is going to be bugging me forever...
And somewhere in the complex the phone rang.
"Magnus, when did you intend to tell me you'd stumbled across four new mutants?" Emma Frost's silky, steel-wrapped-in-velvet voice purred across the phone lines. It bespoke of terrible things should its owner's wrath be incurred. Magnus winced despite himself.
"Believe me, Ms. Frost, I had every intention to contact you--*after* we'd gotten the initial chaos of their arrival out of the way," Magnus replied, regaining his composure somewhat. "At the moment we've been attempting to establish who they are and where they came from--"
"Without much luck," Emma interrupted. "But that's beside the point. Aren't you even going to invite me over for a little... hmm... inspection?" Then, a touch more harshly, "*White King*? Perhaps I could be of... help."
Magnus gritted his teeth, and several paper clips sitting on the desk nearby twisted themselves into one large ball of wire. He still hadn't quite forgiven her for setting him and the New Mutants up after that whole Beyonder disaster, but he had to admit she had never out and betrayed them. And the chances that *she* could retrieve the children's memories was fairly good--whatever else you said about the woman, you had to admit that she was truly an excellent psi.
"Very well," Magnus sighed. He didn't want to give Shaw a reason to step in (dissension among one's own color wasn't very good for morale) and perhaps the Frost woman *could* be of use. "I'll have Magik bring you here in perhaps fifteen minutes. *Alone*."
Meaning that there would be no Manuel de la Rocha to exploit his reservations about taking in four amnesiac youngsters. Empath was notorious for playing such "jokes" on others, even those in his own team. And he still hadn't forgotten what the boy had done to Tom and Sharon...
"Alone," Emma agreed smoothly, ignoring the implied malice in his voice. "Very well, Magnus. See you in fifteen minutes." There was a click and a dialtone. She'd hung up on him.
Magnus allowed himself a few moments to fume and destroy a few more paper clips as well as an unfortunate paperweight, then rose from the leather-backed chair with the utmost dignity. He straightened his suit, methodically unwrapped the paper clips from around the paperweight, and went in search of Illyana. At least *she* wouldn't be swayed into doing something foolish by the White Queen--the child was completely immune to telepathy and empathy. There was no chance Manuel would be hitching a ride from *her*.
Not if he didn't want to end up on the wrong side of a sword, that was, Magnus thought with a certain morbid amusement. Illyana had certain ways to discourage unwanted guests, and many of them had large teeth.
Emma Frost waited patiently for Magik to arrive, drumming her gloved fingers soundlessly on the antique table top. When she was sure no one was looking she allowed herself the luxury to yawn and stretch her hands over her head--carefully. She wasn't fanatical about the established fashion at the Hellfire Club, it was just that it was a comfort thing. Still, it wouldn't do to have a repeat of that unfortunate incident during one of her earlier days...
Luckily, telepathy also means being able to edit out embarrassing moments, Emma thought as she straightened her furred cloak minutely. Obviously this mode of dress was *not* designed with practicality in mind...
Still, it meant power, and she wouldn't trade that for all the indignities in the world. She had wealth, influence, her place in the Inner Circle, and her Hellions. And, perhaps, if all went according to plan, she'd have four new students by the end of the day.
Admittedly, I've never tried to "carry" Empath's influence as far as Salem Center, but it bears trying. And if not, well, I can simply use my own prowess.
There was a flash of light from the corner of the room, and Illyana Rasputin appeared. The red, baleful gleam in her eye made Emma's skin crawl, but she concealed it admirably. Illyana didn't especially like her, and her telepathy was quite useless on the girl. There was nothing more infuriating than to be chauffeured about by the one person you *couldn't* manipulate.
"Let's go," Illyana said curtly, crossing her arms across her chest. "I've got things to do."
"As you wish," Emma said, smiling sweetly. She noted that Illyana was, defiantly, wearing her New Mutants costume (only slightly singed).
Emma's dislike was definitely increasing.
Illyana teleported them to Limbo, then directly to Magneto's study. Emma was grateful the jaunt to Limbo hadn't been long--the demons unnerved her on some primal level, and their leers reminded her of some rather unpleasant memories...
Her composure never faltered, however, and she turned to the four teens seated uncomfortably against the wall. All four of them were looking dubious, and the boys were either staring openly or trying their hardest not to. The only girl present simply looked very, *very* confused.
"Children, this is Emma Frost, the headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy," Magnus (who was currently seated at his desk) announced. "She is a telepath, and will possibly be able to refresh your memories. She's come to offer you some... alternatives to Xavier's."
Emma hadn't said the last over the phone, but apparently Magnus had anticipated her tactics beforehand. However, she wasted no time denying it and concentrated on scrutinizing the four children, both on the physical and astral level. The African American looked normal enough, and didn't have a drop of psi-energy in his body. Neither did the sharp-featured one with grey skin and a bandage around his head. The other two, however...
Emma nearly choked over her carefully practiced greeting. The leather-clad boy was almost *exploding* with psionic energy, and the girl... well, there simply wasn't that much to the girl that *wasn't* energy...
This... is incredible, she thought as her mouth went on without her, calmly talking of psionic therapy and suchlike. I *must* have these children. I *must*.
She sent a brief "go ahead" signal to Manuel via their temporary psi-link. After a moment she felt empathic energy surge through her mind as they had practiced, projecting trust and the tinniest bit of pressure. Just a slight, subtle little message that said, "You can trust me. It's far better in Massachusetts--you have no obligation to stay *here* when *I* can help you..."
As she talked she could see the teens beginning to look thoughtful or uncertain. The empathic "piggy backing" was working perfectly, even all the way from Massachusetts. She could sense Magnus becoming uncertain and suspicious, but Empath was nowhere around. Excellent--he would have no way to prove that she'd been coercing the children into cooperation. Of course, it might take a few more visits to cement the little glamour, but she had the patience. She might even be able to stay at the School, for she *was* supposed to be giving them psionic therapy, and she could just claim she didn't want to go through the bother of continually shuttling between Xavier's and the Academy.
She exerted a little more pressure, upping the strength of empathic projections minutely. She saw the four wavering a little as her speech continued, and felt a brief surge of triumph...
And then she noticed something was amiss. The girl--the one with the punk-hair and deep eyes--looked uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable-uncertain, but uncomfortable-in pain. Her forehead was creasing slightly, and there were little beads of sweat forming on her brow.
Is she resisting? I'm not sensing any resistance... but this won't do. I want *this* one, too...
Emma increased the power a bit more, hoping to quash any real defiance before it amounted to something more.
This, if anything, made it even worse. The girl's fists were clenched, turning white at the knuckles, and the leather-clad psi was beginning to waver as well. There was definitely something wrong--but what?
Then, abruptly, the girl leapt to her feet and yelled, "Stop it! Whatever you're doing, *stop it*!"
This broke Emma's concentration, and she lost her link with Empath. The power dissipated even as the tension in the room grew exponentially.
"What were you doing?!" the girl hissed, glaring at the astonished headmistress. "There was--feedback--emotional feedback! What were you trying to do to our heads?!"
Emotional feedback... Emma's brain commented. How... ah, perhaps the girl's an empath as well? That would account for her resistance--she might have felt that I was suppressing the natural emotions of the others and tried subconsciously to "fix" it... and that surely would account for the pain...
But something needed to be said, so she drew herself up to her full height and stated, "I have no idea what you are talking about. I was simply attempting to--"
"Manipulate their emotions?" Magnus said dryly. A hint of danger flashed in his cool grey-blue eyes. "I thought we'd agreed you would refrain from this form of 'recruiting', ~Emma~."
"You ~suggested~, Magnus," Emma retorted, coloring slightly at having been caught in the act. "I did not agree to it. And did you ever consider that perhaps the Academy is a better place for them?"
:'Scuse me,: the boy with the leather jacket said coldly, :but if yer two are goin' ter argue, can we leave? Some 'f us are gettin' headaches.:
Both Magnus and Emma glared at him, but he simply shrugged. He stood up and rested a hand on Dawn's shoulder, causing the girl to glance at him in surprise, then nod minutely. He didn't seem to notice it.
:Call us when yer work it out,: he sent. :'M sure yer can manage just fine without us.:
He and Dawn retreated, followed closely by Angelo and Everett. The latter gave the two teachers and apologetic look, but made no motion to stay. The door closed softly behind them, leaving Emma and Magnus alone.
Out of the corner of her eye Emma saw the metal desk-lamp twist into a pretzel shape.