The Clan Askani: The Askani Wars part 5
Disclaimer: Everyone except Dawn, Will, and Jenny are Marvel's responsibility.
Author's Note: Relatively short chapter here, with information on a story yet to be told as well. Confused? Watch for "Dawn's Last Threnody," a one-shot from the AOA staring Dawn, Glenn, and Gen Next, coming soon to a fanfic page near you!
Upon returning to my body I discovered I wasn't alone in the room. Will, Rachel, and Corinth were standing next to me, looking anxious. I shook my head to clear it and blinked. :Um... hi,: I sent. :Look, um, I'm sorry I got a little hysterical earlier, but I... it was kind of a slap in the face, if you know what I mean.:
Rachel smiled reassuringly. "It's all right," she told me. "You were right, Dawn. I should have told you from the beginning. I had no right to keep such information from you in the first place, you had a right to know. I... hope we can start over."
:Yeah, that'd be nice,: I nodded. I turned to my cousin and said, :Will, I'm sorry about what I said to you, too. I don't mind you trying to protect me so much--well, not most of the time, anyway--and I think what you did--with Jenny and all, I mean--it was really nice.:
Will shrugged, grinning. "It was also a lucky guess," he replied. "I wasn't entirely sure you wouldn't make Askani Hold explode because you were disturbed."
:Ohhh..! I hate you, you big smart alec jerk!: I growled, rolling my eyes. I wiped away a tear I hadn't known was there and sniffed a little.
"Is there anything we can do..?" Corinth asked tentatively.
:I... I'd just like to see my friends again,: I sent, knowing that the chances of that happening were extremely slim.
"We... could send you there for a moment," Rachel replied. I looked at her in surprise and she said, "I could send your astral form back in time to your friends, but not your body. If I sent your body I wouldn't be able to send you back the moment you left, because that would cause a temporal paradox. Even using an astral form is pushing it, but it shouldn't hurt too much if it's only a few minutes. Besides, it's a little hard to send people back in time and keep them there if they don't have a body to occupy."
:You... you'd do that?: I asked, amazed. I hadn't thought I could go back before I was done in the future, and this was, to say the least, a pleasant surprise.
"After keeping your condition from you it's the least I could do," Rachel replied seriously. "Do you want me to send you back for a moment?"
:Yes, please,: I sent in a whisper, my heart skipping around and ricochetting off my rib cage. I hadn't realized the full extent of my home sickness until that moment, when the possibility of going home, even for a moment, was presented to me.
"Then get comfortable," Rachel instructed me. "Corinth, I'll need your help for this." As Corinth stepped up as Rachel's aura flared, forming the flaming symbol of the Phoenix. I lay down on my bed, ignoring my wounds, and Rachel placed her hands on my forehead. My mind was projected back in time as Corinth gave Rachel an extra jolt of power, and I was lost in the swirling vortex of time.
I was yanked out of the time stream abruptly and deposited on top of a huge, bare hill. The sky was strangely dark, and the air smelt of blood and filth. I looked around. There was fire everywhere, and a huge, dark roughly funnel shaped building in the distance. I saw seven people standing on a nearby hill, looking out to the horizon. I realized, though it should have been obvious from the moment I stepped foot on this world, that I was not on earth, or at least, not the earth I knew. I discovered with shock that one of those seven figures standing below was... ME. And another one was Glenn, and another Paige, and Jonothon, and Angelo, and... and Monet? There was only one person I didn't recognize, but those six alone was more then enough to make my mind lock up with confusion. I could feel the other me in my mind; she was preparing to die, as the others were. She too loved Glenn, as I did, and she was afraid of losing him. But at least these two would stay together instead of dying one by one, like Glenn and I would. From what I gathered from Dawn's--or Threnody, as she, or I, was called here--mind was that someone had set off nuclear warheads, and they were coming right at them.
I realized that here, the rules of the game were totally different. These people looked familiar, but they weren't part of a school, they were more like warriors in a world gone completely mad. They were rebels, as opposed to Generation X, who were more of outcasts. No one would mourn Threnody when she passed away; no one would care. Her only friends were there with her, and the few others who might actually have had even a marginal concern for her were already dead.
The thought of her--or me--dying like this was too much. I floated down to them, invisible to the naked eye and psionically shielded, and stood next to her and Glenn. I heard Jonothon speak; not psionically, but through his mouth, which was somehow still intact.
"Well, Charles Xavier," he said, hugging Paige, "Wherever you are, I hope yer happy that a dream o' yers could survive so much. If yer were half the dreamer Magneto said yer were, you should be proud o' yerself for inspirin' so many people t' fight fer yer dream."
I could hear my double's thoughts like they were my own. :I'm glad I fought for your dream too, Charles Xavier. It brought me light in a world of darkness, and it gave me a sense of purpose. The bombs are coming, I can see the explosions in the distance, and I wonder, will my other self appreciate your vision as much as I do? Will she try as hard as I did? Is she willing to sacrifice as much as I have? I hope she is, because the dream deserves it.:
"Zero..." the otherworld Monet whispered. Threnody and Glenn embraced each other as their world was destroyed in a wave a silent flame, ending with neither a whimper nor a bang, but in a silent tide of nuclear fire. I felt tears pour down my cheeks as the flame passed through me but tore into Threnody and Glenn, ripping the flesh from their bonesand leaving nothing but ash behind. The sheer amount of psionic residue released from their deaths was enough to make my hair blow back, as if I was caught in a monsoon. Threnody's memories poured over me, all involving death and pain and blood. She had discovered it hard to remain true to her morals, since the theme of this world's ruler had been "Survival of the fittest," but her soul had somehow managed to stay pure in a world of darkness, like Glenn and the others had. As the wave of flame abated I slumped to my knees, bent over the ashes, and mentally whispered, :I... I will. I'll try as hard as you did, and I appreciate the dream. I just wish your world had had a chance to make it come true...:
I brushed the ashes with my intangible hand, tears flowing freely. All of Threnody's memories were now mine as well, from that moment until the day I died, most likely. Of course, that wouldn't be too long...
I felt a tug at my mind and was drawn back to Rachel's era. Threnody's memories were still playing through my mind's eye, so I hardly noticed. Corinth touched my shoulder and whispered my name, and I bolted upright.
"Did it work?" Corinth asked me.
:In... in a way,: I replied. :But... it wasn't our dimension. It was somewhere else, and I got there right before... right before it was destroyed.:
Rachel touched my mind and looked at the memories it contained. "I must have sent you cross-time, like I did to Kate," she said, her voice amazed. "I've never, in all my travels, run into myself before, let alone experienced their death. That was no mere death trauma you experienced, that was something else, like a merging of minds. You have acquired a lifetime of memories, not just the prominent ones like a regular death trauma. Be careful it doesn't overwhelm you."
:I don't think that'll be much of a problem,: I replied. Threnody's memories, though vivid, were easy to separate from my own. I was just lucky that I, as a telepath, was capable of handling something like that. I've heard that others were not so lucky and often had trouble distinguishing their double's lives from their own. I put my head back on the pillow and said, :Is there anything you could tune into from our dimension that would ensure that we get the right one?:
"You mean you want to try that AGAIN?" Will exclaimed.
:Why not?: I inquired.
"Well, *I* would think that seeing a universe ending would kind of put a damper on the experience," he shrugged.
:It was for a good cause,: I told him with a sigh. :It was so OURS could live.: Will raised an eyebrow, extremely confused. I shook my head and said, :It's a very, very long story. If my other self hadn't experienced it first hand I'd be confused too.:
"Well, I could tune in to your friend," Rachel said. "You two share a psionic rapport, a lot like my parents did, and if you were to focus on it we might be able to send you back to the correct time and place."
:Worth a try,: I said. I reached back through the years and groped around for his mind. With the help of Rachel and Corinth I managed to find him. I went back in time once more, orienting on my era as well as the Academy to make sure I didn't end up outside of Seattle again. I was promptly dropped into the Med Lab and beside Glenn's bed.
:Hey Glenn,: I sent weakly. He opened his eyes a crack and smiled at me. He hadn't known I'd left him to go to the future, since he'd been unconscious. I could see Sean and Emma in the hallway, where I'd left them, and realized for them it'd been about two second while it had been several days for me.
:Hey, gel,: Glenn thought to me. :What 'appened t' yer..? Didn' think... Sin'ster beat yer up... that bad.:
:It's a long story,: I told him with a smile. :Accent.:
:Heh. Y' ne'er cease t'... 'maze me... wi' yer jokes... or lack thereof.:
:You're NOT going to die,: I informed him. :I am PERSONALLY seeing to that. And besides, it's a running gag, not a joke.:
:I should throttle yer... but I can't seem t' lift... me arms.:
:Doesn't matter, I'm not really here anyway.: I put my arm through his chest to demonstrate.
:Wot? But I saw yer... a few min'tes ago...:
:Shh. Just rest, okay? I'll be back soon enough, and I promise, I'll tell you all about it.: I felt the subtle tug at the back of my mind and said, :Oops. Here's my ride. I've gotta go now. See you soon...:
I suffered myself to be pulled back to the future and shook my head as my essence rejoined my body, a little dazed from all the time tripping. I sat up, winced as my ribs panged, and settled back down again.
"Did you go to the right dimension this time?" Will asked with a half smile.
:Yeah,: I replied. :Had a quick talk with Glenn. He doesn't know where--or WHEN--I am, but at least he knows I'm doing my best to help him.:
"That's good to know," Rachel smiled. "But you should get some rest, because tomorrow we're going to raid Apocalypse's stronghold."
"Why tomorrow?" Corinth asked nervously.
:Because Apocalypse pick our location from my mind,: I replied. :It'll only be a matter of time before he comes after us, and without the rest of the Clan...:
"You people are going to be less then toast," Will finished for me.
:But there's one problem,: I added. :I KNOW where the holding cells are, but I'm not going to be much help with a broken leg and cracked ribs. And if I can't use telepathy talking isn't going to be much of a picnic either.:
"Maybe if I come you can 'path it to me and I can tell the others," Will suggested. "As you've discovered, the people you call share a rapport with you that isn't effected by psi dampeners."
:That could work,: I admitted. :But I have a question: why hasn't Apocalypse killed the other Clan members by now? He must know you plan to attack him, so why not just kill them and capture you?:
"He want's them alive because they are all at least beta class psis," Rachel explained. "Some of them have powerful secondary abilities as well, and with that much power at his disposal Apocalypse could wipe out all opposition with but a literal thought and be undisputed ruler of earth. Plus, telepaths sometimes posses the power to send people back in time, or push them forward, as I have done with you. As an added fact, they could send him cross-time as well, if he wished, and he would be able to conquer other worlds as well, or even prevent all of us from being born in the first place. In other words, he would be unstoppable."
I winced at the thought of that. In the world of Threnody I had seen what the madman could do if allowed to run unchecked. I had to help them stop him at all costs, despite my wounds. For no apparent reason my brain began to wonder why *I* was the only one who ever seemed to get hurt. I mean, sure, Glenn had a couple of times, but HE had a healing factor. And these weren't even REAL wounds, my mind had just made my body THINK they were, so...
Then an idea hit me. If my mind could convince my body that it was hurt, then maybe it could convince it it was better. I concentrated on repairing my battered astral form, using the ambient psionic energy that filled the room to buoy my own. I strenuously managed to fix my swollen eye, fractured femur, and cracked rib, but couldn't manage the burn on my back or broken jaw. I opened my eyes again to see everyone staring at me in either amazement or disbelief.
"You suddenly look a lot better," Will commented. "What'd you do?"
:I... just kind of convinced myself I was better,: I opened my mouth and immediately regretted it. "But miy choww id still broked," I muttered plaintively.
"I'm just impressed you could do anything at all," Rachel said.
:It probably wouldn't have worked if they'd been inflicted in real life,: I sent, rubbing my jaw. :And I didn't have enough power to take care of all of it, either. But at least now I should be able to get around well enough.:
"Good thing, too," Will said. "I wouldn't want to have to carry you around Apocalypse's stronghold." I gave him an elbow in the ribs and he shut up.
"Interesting," Rachel murmured. "I'd never thought to do anything like that before. Maybe I should try it sometime."
I shrugged. :I guess it might work, but it takes a lot out of you,: I warned her.
Rachel was about to reply when there was a crash from above and Boak came running into the room, closely followed by Shy'ar. He was spraying sparks from one side of his metallic torso and was clutching a gun. "Askani, Apocalypse has found us!" he exclaimed. "There are several hundred prelates out there, and all of them are firing at us! I managed to seal the hatch, but I don't know how long it'll hold."
"By the Light, does this madness never end?" Rachel muttered to herself. Then, in a louder voice, she said, "Then we have no choice but to attack Apocalypse now."
"But if we rush off to the stronghold the prelates will see us," Shy'ar said. "We should split into two groups, one to fend off the attacking prelates and another to infiltrate the stronghold."
"Imminently logical," Boak agreed. "But who should the groups be made of?"
"Boak, you and I should take on Apocalypse," Rachel said to the synthcon. "Shy'ar, you protect Dawn and Corinth while--"
:Rachel, if they don't see you they'll know you're storming the citadel,: I interrupted. :And besides, you're the only one powerful enough to fight these guys; Shy'ar would be obliterated. I think that he, Corinth, Will and I should try to take on Apocalypse. I mean, with all the prelates here there's less chance of us being caught, right?:
"Dawn, are you NUTS?!" Will exclaimed. "This is suicide! For you, anyway!"
:Will, this whole thing was suicide,: I informed him, frowning. :And if YOU have a BETTER idea I'd LOVE to hear it.:
Will looked at me, worry filling his eyes. "Dawn, I would really like for you to be ALIVE the next time I see you."
:Like *I* don't want that?: I inquired, tilting my head to the side. :Look, there's no way I'm going to let Glenn die, and for me to save him I HAVE to live, so you don't have to worry about THAT. Trust me on this, okay?:
"All right, kiddo, this once," Will sighed. "But if you die your parents are going to ground you for eternity, got that?" I smiled at him and shook my head.
"The girl's plan does make sense, Askani," Boak said slowly. "If they don't find you here they'll know something is amiss and report back to Apocalypse."
Rachel looked worried. "It does make sense, but that doesn't mean it's the right thing to do," she replied. "But... we have no other choice. You may go, and Boak and I shall assist you as soon as possible. G'journey, you four... and be careful."
I nodded and felt my stomach knot itself into new and interesting shapes even though it had been my idea. Sure, it was an okay idea, but what I was REALLY nervous about was carrying it out. I took a deep breath and summoned Clarice for assistance.
:Get ready to teleport, everyone,: I warned them, my mind voice possessing the strange double quality it acquired whenever I summoned someone's spirit and used their powers like my own. :I doubt I'll be able to get us out of there when we enter, though.: Shy'ar, Corinth, and Will nodded as I blinked us into Apocalypse's stronghold and prayed to God we'd make it out alive.
TEASER: Corinth, Will, Dawn, and Shy'ar storm the citadel--'nuff said!