Generation X: First Contact part 12

Disclaimer: The only people who don't belong to Marvel are Glenn, Dawn, and her family.

Author's Note: All right, here's the deal. This is the last chapter of First Contact, and it gets a little violent. No guns, no knives, just an all out mutant vs. mutant brawl with one of the most manipulative characters in the Marvel Universe. You have been warned. Also, it's kind of sad as well. Well, *I* thought so, and I wrote it. Mail me if ya liked it or hated it, and please, be honest about it. Did it make you laugh or cry or any of the other stuff that a story's supposed to make you feel? If I don't get any feedback or requests for a sequel I'll file it under the drop pile and start something else. I do, after all, have a very promising story entitled "Starfall Over Terra" in the works... Anyhow, hope you guys enjoyed the ride, because it was really fun writing it. Enjoy chapter 12, 'cause things are never going to be the same again...

Out of Time

My agonized scream tore through the quiet school, rousing everyone within it. The girls ran in, Jubilee causing the door to spontaneously combust and Monet smashing through a wall.

"D, what's wrong?!" Jubilee exclaimed as she ran to my side.

"My MOTHER!" I shrieked hysterically. "She's DYING!!! I can FEEL it!!!!"

"Dawn, calm down," Paige said gently. "It was only a dream."

"No, she's right!" Monet told them, touching her head. "I can feel her agony!"

"MOMMY!!!!!!!!" I screamed. Almost unconsciously I called upon Clarice's spirit and used my telepathy to pin-point my mother's location. I teleported myself there imediatly and then released Clarice the minute I arrived. I looked around to discover that I was in a dark room filled with machinery. It was uncomfortably familiar. I recognized it as similar to the room that the first girl I had ever psi-linked with had been in at her time of death.

"I see you've finally arrived," a voice said. I spun around and noticed a man, shrouded in darkness, standing beside me. His eyes glowed with an eerie light, as did the red diamond shape on his forehead.

"YOU?!?!?!?" I exclaimed. "YOU killed that girl!"

"Indeed," he replied with a daemonic grin. "Thought exactly WHICH girl I'm not certain; I've killed so many in my time."

"What have you done to my mother?!"

"Why, she's right over there," the man replied, gesturing to her limp form, which lay on a lab table. "She has proved most resilient to my tests, it's a pity she didn't last longer."

"Dear God..." I whispered as I knelt beside her. "Mom..." When I had seen her last, not even two days ago, she had been in perfect health, with not a scar on her body. Now her head had several wires jutting from it, and stitches peppered her body as if someone had used her as some macabre jigsaw puzzle and then sown her up again. Her red hair, which had been at waste length, was now barely an inche long and tubes and wires of all kinds were attached all over he body. "Oh my God... Mom... what did he DO to you?"

"Da...wn?" she murmured. "Is... is it you..?" she tried to turn her head towards me, but it didn't work. Her eyes were beginning to glaze over and blood was leaking out of her mouth, nose, and ears.

"Yeah, Mom," I said. "It's me. I'm here."

"Oh honey..." she tried to smile at me, but her mouth wouldn't work. "I... all I wanted... was to see you... one more time. Guess my prayers... were answered."

"NO!" I cried. "Don't say it! You're NOT going to die! You're NOT!"

"Oh, but I'm afraid she is," the man told me calmly as he stepped out of the shadows. His skin was an unearthly shade of white and he was dressed all in black. His red eyes sent shivers down my spine. "And when she does I shall dissect her to unearth the keys of her genetic structure."

"You're SICK!" I screamed, snapping my head back towards him. "You filthy, twisted, psychotic son of a--!!!"

"On the contrary," the stranger interrupted. "My name... or one of them, perhaps I should say, is Mr. Sinister. Also known as Dr. Thomas Evans--" he changed his shape to that of a middle aged man, "--and Professor Roger Essex." He shifted again, this time into the form of a man in his late thirties. I gasped as I realized the truth. Roger Essex--the man who had run the boarding school I had been staying in. Then the other part clicked; Dr. Thomas Evans, my cousin's doctor.

"You murdered my cousin!" I shouted angrily. "Why?! Why did you kill him?! Why are you killing my mother?!"

"AND father," Sinister added, his voice showing not a trace of emotion. He gestured towards another table, this one bearing my father's body. He looked frozen in agony, scarcely breathing.

"But he... he's not dead," I stammered. I could still feel my father's presence in my mind; I KNEW he wasn't dead.

"Not as yet," Sinister nodded. "I am not a complete monster; I thought I would let you say your good byes. I would hurry if I were you, however. He won't live much longer either."

:Daddy...: I sent, not trusting myself to speak.

:Dawn...: he thought back. :Oh Dawn... I'm so sorry... didn't mean to... to hurt you... was just afraid... afraid and stupid. I saw the truth... too late. You could have... hurt me... killed me... but you didn't... and I... I was too stupid to see... I'm sorry... forgive me, daughter. I made a... a terrible... mistake... sorry...:

:I don't care what you did anymore!: I sent. :You're all that matters now, you and Mom. Please... please hang on. PLEASE.:

:No, Dawn... it's too late. I'm only sorry that... it took me so LONG... to see through my hatred.: I could feel his life flowing from him like the tears that were pouring down my cheeks. He looked at me and smiled. A peaceful, contented smile. :Oh Dawn... the light! If only you and your mother could... see...:

Those were his last words, which he sent to me with his last shuddering breath. He was happy. He was at peace.

"Oh Dad..." I sobbed. "Oh God, no. No. No! Noooo!"

:Dawn...: my mother called weakly. :I have to... go now also... come to me.... so I my see you... one last time...:

I scrambled over to my mother's side. "No! No! You CAN'T leave me! Not you too!"

:Please... don't feel sorry... for me. Hardly hurts... anymore. Just listen. Whatever you become... whatever happens... we'll always love you. I promise you this...: With those parting words she abandoned the mortal coil as silently as a dew drop slides down a leaf. In a desperate, last ditch effort I tried to hold onto her soul, but my mutant powers failed me and I couldn't get a grip. She slipped through my fingers and into oblivion.

"Mom..?" I whispered. "Mom..?! NO! NOOOOOO!!!!!!" I clutched her shattered body to my own and cried my heart out.

"Are you quite finished?" Sinister asked. "If so we can get on with YOUR testing as well..." he walked towards me menacingly.

"You MURDERER!!!!" I shrieked, I activated my power. :WILL!: I screamed mentally.

:Dawn?: he said. :What's going on?:

:Look in my memories!: I commanded.

:If you say so, but I don't... see... Oh... my... God...:

:Will, PLEASE, help me STOP him!:

:It's a PLEASURE!: he howled. We unleashed a lightening bolt that shattered most of the monitors and equipment that surrounded us, but Sinister seemed untouched even though the shot had been point blank. We tried again, but to no avail.

"Is that the BEST you can do?" he scowled. "I expected more of one with your power. Why do you think I've been manipulating you for so long? Why do you think I went through the trouble of killing your cousin and providing your family with the money to attend St. Anne's?"

"You were behind the whole thing?!" I cried. "For how long?!"

"Since the moment your grandparents met," he informed me calmly. "But that is irrelevant now. I WILL have your genetic code, whether you are ALIVE when I take it or NOT. Now, step over here quietly and it will go easier on you. Resist and I will make what your parents went through seem like a--"

We never gave him a chance to finish. Will and I generated a blast of arctic wind that would have frozen a normal person solid, yet Sinister was unfazed. I hit him with rain and wind and lightening, but all it did was slow him down a fraction. He was unstoppable... NOTHING could hurt him. I was straining after two minutes of fending off his advances, and I didn't know how long I could hold him off.

Then, when I thought all was lost, the calvary abruptly arrived in a flash of yellow light, courtesy of Gateway. Monet was the first on through, fists first. She slammed right into Sinister's head and knocked him into a pile of test tubes and syringes. Jonothon appeared next and followed up with a psionic blast that would have leveled the better half of Seattle. Apparently they had decided on the hit hard and fast strategy, which was fine with me; the bastard certiantly deserved it.

"I hadn't planned on this," Sinister frowned as he picked himself off the floor. "Perhaps a change of strategy is in order." He extracted a small vial from the folds of his cloak and attached a needle to it. With one smooth, fluid flick of his wrist he flung it straight at my neck. I felt frozen in time, captured by his glowing red eyes.

"Dawn!" Monet shouted. "Don't let it touch you! It's poison!"

I had no time to act, and death was looming closer and closer. Then, at the last possible moment, Glenn threw me aside.

"Are you... okay?" he gasped.

"Yeah," I replied weakly. "It didn't touch me. But my parents..." Tears flowed anew as I pointed to their lifeless bodies.

"Oh Dawn..." he whispered. "I'm so sorry..."

Before he could complete his sentence Sinister drew another vial and hurled it right at Glenn. My warning cry came too late as it buried itself into his shoulder.

"GLENN!" I screamed.

"Pity that was my last vial," Sinister said, shaking his head. "Still, it will be interesting to see how it affects an External with a healing factor."

"How COULD you?!?!?" I screamed, looking up from my weakening friend. "He was the only one I had left!"

"Let it go, child," Sinister said. "There IS no cure, he's as good as dead already."

With a shriek of rage that would have done Sean proud I caught hold of Clarice's spirit and used her power in a way I never had before; I blinked apart the molecules of a living being. Sinister screamed with pain as his body parts were torn apart like so much paper. When I stopped he lay in a bloodless heap in the middle of the floor. Then, withour warning, his body began to reintegrate itself and soon he was standing before me, whole once again.

"Excellent," he gasped as he staggered to his feet, "you are... finally living... up to your... potential." He straightened up, but looked extremely weakened. "You have done well, child," he said. "Your assault has, regrettably, weakened me dangerously, I shall return when sufficiently rejuvenated. Farewell." He pressed a fewbuttons on a consol and disappeared.

"NO!" I screamed. "Come back, you coward! Come back and fight me!" I slumped onto the floor and sobbed. "Come back..." I whispered in despair.

"Dawn..." Sean said, placing his hand on my shoulder. "Dawn, let it go, lass. He's gone."

"B-but it's not fair!" I cried. "He killed my parents! And his poison is killing Glenn!" Tears of fury streamed down my face and I threw Sean's hand off my shoulder. "I should have been here! I should have stopped him! My parents are dead because of me! It's all my fault!" I collapsed in a hysterical, shivering heap in the middle of the decimated laboratory.

"Lass..." Sean murmured, bending over me. "Come lass, let's take ye home. We must tend to the wounded..." his gaze shifted to my parent's corpses, "...and bury our dead," he finished softly. I nodded morosely and stood up shakily, my body still wracked with sobs. Another one of Gateway's portals appeared and we stepped through.

"Guess I really... screwed up this time," Glenn coughed. It had been half an hour since we'd gotten home again and hooked him up to a life support system. His clear blue eyes looked slightly glazed over and his breathing was coming in ragged gasps. Already his body look pathetically frail, as if a stray gust of wind would blow him away. The others were treating me like a time bomb that could explode at a moment's notice, and judging by the way I felt at the time it was probably a wise decision.

"No..." I whispered. "YOU didn't screw up, it was MY fault. I should have moved faster..." Images of my parents' bodies, which were now sitting in the morgue, floated past my eyes.

Glenn interrupted my thoughts with a hacking cough. "Yer know..." he said, "From the first time... I saw yer I... knew yer were... special. Didn' know... HOW special. Didn' know... I'd die fer yer... but y'know... I don' r'grett it... not fer a second. When I met yer... I thought maybe I could... pretend me life... wasn' a mess... that me parents weren' dead... an' everythin' was... normal." He smiled weakly. "Yer always had... that 'ffect on me. Yer made... ME feel special. Don' know why... yer jus' do. Guess that's why... I love yer."

I blushed despite myself. He could be so sweet sometimes. "Glenn," I said, "is there anything I can do for you?"

Now it was HIS turn to blush a little. "This... is gonner sound stupid, but... could yer... could yer sing ter me?"

"ME?" I said. "YOU want ME to sing?" *I* didn't think I had a particularly nice voice.

He smiled a little. "Yer have... a good voice, Dawn," he assured me. "Please..?"

"If you REALLY want me to..." I said. I struggled to think of a song, and finally came up with "By Heart", which was, surprisingly, one of his favorites. He smiled at me and slipped off into a sound sleep when I finished. I fell asleep soon afterwards, sleeping beside him in a chair.

Presently Sean and Emma came in. I sensed them before I heard them and woke up to see what it was about.

"Lass?" Sean called softly, not wanting to wake Glenn.

"Mr. Cassidy?" I said. "Will he... how long does he..?"

"I... think it would be best to discuss this in private," Emma told me. I nodded and we walked out of the infirmary. When we were safely out of earshot I said, "Please, how much time does he have?"

Sean looked uncomfortable. "P'rhaps a week," he informed me quietly. I started to cry again, but he continued. "Sinister's poison is nae unlike the Legacy Virus. It's feedin' off o' his mutant cells an'--when it's done with them--movin' onto to more... fertile ground, so t' speak. We estimate about five days until his mutant powers are burned out an' another two 'till his respiratory system fails." He looked at me sadly. "I'm sorry, even an External isna immune." Emma silently shook her head. The sobbing was quiet at first, but soon intensified to the point that I had to lean on Sean for support. He ran his hand through my hair comfortingly, but I remained dead to the world, crying my heart out.

Then there was a flash of light behind us. We spun around to discover a young woman, perhaps twenty six, standing beside us. She was dressed in a blue and gold uniform that had a small, golden bird stamped within a circle that had an X running behind it in the upper left corner. She had red hair and green eyes and wore a gold pendent that bore the same bird. Both Emma and Sean's eyes widened in recognition.

"Phoenix!" Emma gasped, exactly as Sean cried, "Rachel!"

"The one and only," Rachel/Phoenix nodded. She gazed at my tearstained face and then at Glenn. "I see I timed it right," she said without humor.

"Rachel?" Sean said quizzically. "What're ye doin' here, lass? The last I heard o' ye was that ye were lost in the time stream, an'... ye look older..."

"I was and I am," she replied. "I was sent nearly two thousandyear into the future, which is ruled by Apocalypse." She fingered her necklace absently, as if thinking about something. "But that's irrelevant now," she continued. She turned to me. "I came to propose a deal."

"W-what kind of deal?" I asked.

"As I said, I am currently residing in the future," she told me. "I have some... associates that can devise a cure for your friend."

"Really?" I gasped, barely daring to hope.

"Yes. And I can return you only moments after you leave."

"Wait..." I said. "Moments after I leave? What are you talking about?"

"I offer a trade," Rachel stated. "My associates are incarcerated, I need help to get them out."

My eyes widened. "You mean... go to the FUTURE? With YOU? And participate in a rebellion?"

"Exactly," she answered grimly. "Your friend will get his cure and you will be sent back after we accomplish our mission."

I looked at my feet silently. Go to the future... thousands of years into the future with a stranger. But Glenn was dying, what choice did I have?

"I... I'll do it," I said softly.

"Dawn, are ye sure?" Sean asked, worry lacing his voice. "Ye'll be all alone..."

"I'll have Will," I reminded him. "He... he'll keep me company."

"Are ye SURE..?" Sean pressed.

"It's the only way I can save him," I said, indicating Glenn, who remained blissfully unaware of what was about to transpire.

Sean sighed with resignation. " Tis yuir life, lass, I canna stop ye, no matter how much I'd like to," he told me. He looked at Rachel and said, "Ye take good care o' her, lass."

"I will," Rachel assured him. "I promise you that." She turned to me and held out her hand. "Are you ready?" she asked.

"Just... give me a second," I replied. I walked over to Glenn and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll be back," I whispered. "And I swear, I WILL find you a cure." I stepped away from his bed and said, "I'm ready now."

Rachel took my hand and we started to glow. Time twisted around us, and suddenly we were swept into the time stream. Events of the future, past and present flowed around us as we were flung from one era to the next. It was then that the intensity of what I had just agreed to do set in. I had just agreed to leave everyone and everything I knew and loved behind me to fight for the future with a woman I barely knew.

I realized this.

I even ACCEPTED this.

And it scared the hell out of me.

To be continued in the "Askani Wars"...

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