Generation X: First Contact part 8

Disclaimer: Everyone except Dawn, Glenn and Will belong to Marvel, as if you didn't know by now. I don't have permission, but I'm not getting paid so it doesn't matter.

Author's Note: Well, here's the M story I promised, and believe me, it gets QUITE strange. I also might have inadvertently messed with Monet's attitude a wee bit, (well, all right, MORE then a bit) but the explanation I've set up should explain it. I think. Anyhow, this is my way of showing that Monet isn't the stuck up little snob everyone thinks she is (even if it is true) and that, given a fair chance, she might actually be a decent person. Please don't kill me for butchering M's character, I wasn't exactly planning to post this thing on the Net when I wrote it, so I was just screwing around when I wrote it. Honest. Well, enjoy the story.

True Confessions of Monet St. Croix

Sometime around midnight I started to dream, it was a horrible dream, about a terrifying red-eyed monster with ash grey skin, two young girls, and a screaming woman. I bolted up right in bed, soaked with sweat, and realized that the nightmares weren't mine. I could still feel the images, memories really, replaying in my mind. I could sense the person responsible and set out to find her.

I hiked across the campus in only my night clothes and leather jacket (no, I didn't SLEEP in it, I put it on as I left) and into the Bio-Sphere. I saw Penance sitting on a tree branch, staring at something.

"Yvette?" I whispered. She turned her head to look at me and smiled. I smiled in return and said, "Where is she?" She moved her head back to it's original position and I followed her line of sight. There, sitting on a rock in the middle of the Bio-Sphere's stream, was Monet. She was curled in an almost fetal position, clutching an old, slightly ripped coloring book to her chest.

"Monet?" I called softly, even though I knew she knew I was there. There was no answer. "Monet, I... I saw it," I continued. "I didn't understand it, but I saw it. This secret is tearing you apart, Monet, you've GOT to open up to someone." Still she did not answer. I walked closer to discover she was crying. I was aghast. This was so much different then the Monet from that morning it was almost terrifying.

Monet looked up at me with a tear stained face and shook her head slowly. "I... can't..." she whispered brokenly.

"You've GOT to," I told her.

"It was just so... so..." She couldn't continue, she broke down in sobs. In that moment there wasn't a trace of M, in all probability the most powerful person in the school, there was only Monet, frightened, helpless, and severely traumatized peer. I hugged her tightly, trying as best I could to comfort her. Eventually her sobbing stopped and I let her go. She sat up and struggled to regain her composure, but failed miserably.

"I... I'm sorry you were caught up in my dreams," she apologized, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"It's all right," I told her. "Do you... want to talk about it?" I paused for a moment, thinking, So this is what it's come to? Teenage mutant psionic therapist?

Monet looked deep into my eyes. It was hard to believe she was older then I, she looked so helpless. Finally she lowered her eyes to the coloring book she still held in her hands and said, very softly, "Yes." She kneaded her hands for a few minutes and then continued. "A few years ago, before I had even discovered that I was a mutant, my brother manifested his power. He could travel between dimensions, being both in and out of phase with this one, meaning he could see and hear what was going on, but not interact." She smiled faintly. "Needless to say, he always won at hide and seek. Well, after a while he started to weaken and neither my father nor my mother could understand why. After my father preformed several tests on him it turned out he had been going between' too much, because his lungs had been adapting to the air there so were now incapable of assimilating regular air. This wasn't a problem; my father used his financial clout to invent a respirator for him.

"Things went along fine until That Day. My brother started to weaken again, and this time it wasn't because of lack of air. He was... starving. No matter how much he ate he was never satisfied. He became very ill, and was bedridden for months. Then, one day, my sisters went into his room to visit him, and he... and he... he killed them." The last part was so quiet it was barely a whisper, but Monet pressed on. "He didn't murder them, at least not intentionally. My sisters had the genetic potential to be mutants, and my brother's cravings were for the genetic material of homo superiors. He... he hugged them, and siphoned the life out of them without realizing it.

"He called for help, and Mother and Father and I came to see what was wrong. Father tried to help the twins while Mother did her best to comfort my brother. She held him close, and he... he did it again. Mother was a mutant too, with the power of healing. She was drained as quickly as the twins, and that was when my brother realized it was HIS doing. He went mad, trying to escape before anyone else got hurt, but I didn't understand. I tried to stop him and I... I almost died.

"You must know that 'feeding' is addictive. My brother started to realize this, and it made him all the more frantic to escape. Father and the staff did all they could to subdue him, and finally they sedated him, locked him up, and gave him shots to inhibit his powers so he couldn't escape.

"After making sure I was alive and well Father and his scientists spent weeks in the lab, trying to understand what had happened. It seems that when Father was testing my brother he had unlocked a freak abnormality in my brother's x-factor chromosome, causing him to mutate even further. It was all his fault, but my father refused to accept it. He looked for a cure, tried everything he could think of, but nothing worked.

"Then, one day, they forgot to give him the inhibitor shots and my brother escaped. By then he was quite mad, raving about how killing Mother was all his fault, and how he would kill us all for making him what he was in the first place. He was starving, having been deprived of homo superior DNA for so long, and he was being pulled between' again. He left gladly, but something was different this time. Going between' was no longer pleasant for him, because now there was something waiting for him, for now, for every person he robs of life or will, a piece of them goes between'. They wait for him, and when he comes they attack, trying to drag him down and trap him like he had them.

"In another year or so I manifested my own powers and managed to puzzle out what exactly had happened. At first it was wonderful to be a mutant, but that soon changed, for when I became a true mutant the full extent of my brother's power became apparent.

"At first I thought it was my imagination. A quiet voice in my mind called to me, telling me to do certain things. I told myself that it could have been a mild case of schizophrenia, and that if it got any worse I could tell my father. The voice gradually became more insistent, and I found myself starting to listen to it more and more. I discovered it was my brother, reaching out to me with his mind and trying to bend me to his will. I struggled, but it got more difficult, and it took more of an effort each time.

"Then I woke up one day, still exhausted from fighting my brother off through the night. I discovered this." Monet held out her hand.

I gasped. There was a tiny MOUTH on the palm of her hand. It seemed to be grinning at me, as if it couldn't wait to sink it's teeth into me.

"THIS is my brother's legacy," Monet continued. "I can fight it off most of the time, but every so often it returns in a moment of weakness. I couldn't show my father, he'd just lock me up like he did my brother. I was on the verge of a breakdown when Mentor appeared."

"Who?" I asked trying to get the image of the mouth out of my mind's eye.

Monet indicated a small, Aboriginal man who I hadn't seen before, he was sitting peacefully on a rock nearby, his eyes closed. He was old, though it was impossible to tell HOW old.

"Gateway," Monet told me. "He came to me and helped me control myself, to fight off the hunger and my brother's influence, and also to use my powers. Unfortunately he didn't stay very long. After a few months he just disappeared, and I became withdrawn. I wouldn't speak to anyone, not even my father. Until the Phalanx, of course. Whenever I concentrate intensely my brother uses that moment to try and seize control of me, hence my spells'. If I let my control slip, even a little, I could kill you all."

I looked at the older girl for a moment, then gently took her hands and held the palms up. The mouths were still there, and still leering at me. I touched one carefully, but nothing happened. "See?" I said to her. "You can control it, at least a little bit. Maybe I can help you."

Monet looked doubtful. "I don't know how you could," she said.

That got me. How could I help her short of destroying her brother? Which brought up another question... "Who is your brother?" I asked.

"My brother is no more," she told me sadly. "There is only Emplate now, and HE is evil incarnate."

I thought for a second. "It's obvious you and your brother are linked somehow," I said. "If I could sever the link I might be able to free you."

"I've tried," Monet informed me. "I just can't do it."

"That's because Emplate already has influence over you," I exclaimed, an idea forming. "YOU can't do it because a tiny part of you doesn't WANT to, but it *I* go there'll be nothing to hold me back!"

Monet looked at me dubiously, then brightened. "Yes!" she whispered. "It just might work!" She hugged me tightly in her excitement. A tad TOO tightly, as a matter of fact. I could have sworn I heard something snap in my rib cage.

:Monet!: I gasped mentally, unable to vocalize my protest. Monet pulled back, appalled. "Oh, I'm sorry!" she cried. It was amazing how different she was when she wasn't being a priss.

"It's--*wheeze*--all--*haaagck*--all right," I gasped, rubbing my side. "Now, shall I give it a try?"

Monet nodded solemnly and settled down in the lotus position. I sat next to her and transported my consciousness into her own.

Suddenly I was drifting in what was known as the astral plane. It was fascinating, full of swirling smoke and indescribable colors. What I found most interesting was the memory crystals that were centered at the very core of Monet's being. A crystals of her mother radiated so much love I was nearly overwhelmed. I could tell she had also been quite fond of her brother before his transformation, for he was featured prominently in her mind.

Then something strange caught my eye. On every memory of her brother a thin, black thread was attached. As I followed one it merged with another, and then another, until there was one huge thread. I followed it deeper into Monet's psyche until I discovered the source.

A huge, black know of thread entangled her most personal and favorite memories, obscuring, distorting, and smothering them. Seated on the highest snarl was the creature called Emplate.

He had grey, spikey hair, and long, sharp fingers. In fact, he looked a lot like a male version of Penance. His skin seemed to be a mass of scars, probably reminders of his trips 'between'. He wore a respirator, even as Monet said he would, and a long, gray robe.

"Welcome, Dawn," he hissed, his voice hard and raspy from behind the respirator. "Come to fight me, eh?" His laughter echoed through the astral plane.

"Yes," I replied, adamant that I could and would save Monet.

"You do realize that if I defeat you here I will control you utterly, do you not?" he asked.

Oops. It seemed I'd done it again, rushing off into something before I understood all the rules. I made a mental note to make sure I knew how to do these things before I started them, especially when they involved mutant powers. Score one for mothers everywhere.

"Thanks for the info, Spike," I said insolently. "Who does your hair, a weed whacker?"

Emplate's eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he said, "Don't push me, child, I have not been having a good day."

"Fine. I'll settle for kicking your little grey butt back to Algeria." I let loose a torrent of psionic energy and flung it right in his face.

One of the most fascinating things about being on the astral plane is that psionic energy has an optical effect. Mine was white at that core and deepened to blue on the edges, which is probably why my hair turned blue and white, or vice versa. Emplate reeled and the snarl frayed a bit.

"Oh, so that's how we're going to play it, is it?" he sneered. I don't know how I could tell he was sneering behind the respirator (which made him look a lot like a demented elephant) but I could. Coal black armor formed around him, effectively blunting the follow up blow I sent.

"Are you quite done?" he asked after the third try.

"Er..." I said intelligently. I was just a beginner, so I wasn't sure what to do next.

"I'll take that as a yes." He sent a blast of darkness my way. I dodged quickly, but not quickly enough. The blast clipped my side, burning me and freezing me at the same time. I cried out in agony as it seared past me.

"F-fine," I stuttered as I got to my feet, rubbing my aching side. "Two can play the armor game." At least, I hoped they could. I concentrated and focused on a single thought: protection.

To my utter surprise it worked. Blue-silver armor formed around me like a second skin, and sparkled with a white gleam. Yeah, I know I should have had a little more faith in myself, but I was still new at this, y'know? I made mental note #2 never to try out new powers (or aspects there of) in the middle of a fight.

"Hmm," Emplate said. "This could prove rather tricky. We're both more or less evenly matched..."

"Well, since we can't just throw energy at each other, how about getting a little more physical?" I summoned a saber and held steady in the en-guard position (yes, I do fence. It was another of my many hobbies and I got pretty good at it after a while, too.)

Emplate gave me the impression he was sneering again. "How charming," he said. "The human dream catcher wishes to duel ME. Did you know that any blow struck against your astral form counts against your physical body as well?" He summoned a sword of his own and jumped down to meet me.

"Meaning?" I said.

"If you die here you die in reality as well." He lunged at me, testing my reflexes. I snapped my blade aside quickly, not letting it get within a foot of me. I preformed a quick repost, which he deflected.

"So tell me," I said as we danced around each other, hoping to distract him, "how does it feel to be a parasite for a living? Killing all those people must weigh down pretty heavily on your conscious, huh?"

"As I have said before, girl, my only concern is for my next meal." He lunged viciously at me. Mental note #3: never tick off a super villain.

"Oh, by the way, why did you call me a dream catcher?" I asked as I parried his lunge.

"A dream catcher is an Indian artifact that supposedly catches harmful dreams and evil spirits," Emplate informed me. I wondered if all super villains were as talkative as he was. "You catch emotions and thoughts as well as spirits, so I figured it was appropriate."

"You know, if you weren't trying to kill me I have a feeling you'd make a good friend," I said. It was the truth, too. He was cultured and intelligent (plus a good fencer) and I found myself half wishing he was still sane. It's hard to find good fencers who you can have intelligent conversation with at the same time.

"Ha!" Emplate laughed. "I NEVER had any friends, Father was too worried about letting in an assassin to let Monet or I invite or get acquainted with anyone outside our family. Father was an ambassador, and royalty besides, he feared for his life more then *I* fear being trapped beyond!" I seemed to have hit a nerve with this guy, because he began to fence more quickly. I began to tire; Emplate was STRONG. VERY strong. My arm was aching terribly already.

"Tell me something," I said in between parries, "Why are you trying to enslave Monet? She used to worship you, why do you want her dead?"

"She was the favorite," he spat. "Father and Mother loved her the most, even above the twins. Before SHE came *I* was the favorite. But SHE ruined it ALL!" He began to tremble with fury when he said this, and a little voice inside me said 'NOW you've put your foot in it, Dawn.' "She's perfect," Emplate continued. "Perfect power, perfect body, while I'M stuck like this! A parasitic scar, bitter and alone! The only people I can relate to are my slaves, because THEY know what it's like!" He was slashing at me viciously, and the force of it was numbing my hand. I was starting to weaken visibly, and there wasn't a thing I could do about it. Emplate knew it, too, and he was moving in for the kill. He backed me up against the snarl, effectively cornering me. "You see?" he snarled. "You've lost, and now you are mine!" He reached a gnarled, grey hand towards me, the mouth clamping it's jaws up and down in anticipation. "I will use you to destroy your friends, and through them, Monet!"

All I could think about was Glenn. I would rather have died then kill him or force him to serve Emplate. Thinking of the fate that awaited him if I was enslaved was all it took; I snapped.

Big time.

"I... think... NOT!!!" I screamed. I plunged my saber into his chest, charging it with all the psionic energy I could muster. He let out an ear piercing wail of agony and despair... and disappeared completely. The snarl was gone as well, leaving Monet's mind clear and shining. I left her psyche and collapsed back into my body, utterly exhausted. My arm still ached and my side burned from the astral confrontation, but I was alive.

"Dawn..?" Monet ventured. "Dawn, are you all right? Did it work?"

"I... think so," I gasped. Her eyes widened in shock and she put a hand to her head. "It did!" she cried in delight. "He's GONE! ALL of him! Oh Dawn, thank you so much!" She was crying tears of delight and gratitude when she hugged me again.

I was happy for her, of course, but I was even more happy to know that I'd just had my first REAL test against a super villain AND passed with flying colors.

As we left the Bio-Sphere I noticed that the chill wind and ominous black rainclouds had cleared, leaving the night clear and bright. I looked at Monet and saw her eyes glinting, as if answering some hidden call from the stars, and I began to wonder. Just what WAS her mutant power? It WASN'T perfection, THAT was just a side effect, it was powerful, and I wondered, now that she was free of Emplate's influence, would she remain with the team, or follow some deeper, more primal whim..?

TEASER: Next chapter Dawn's parents come to visit, and it's considerably less then pleasant. Does the phrase 'Sins of the Father' mean anything to you?

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