The Clan Askani: The Askani Wars part 6
Disclaimer: Boak, Rachel Summers, and Apocalypse belong to Marvel, everyone else is the result of a hyper-active imagination and WAY too much caffeine.
Author's Note: Well, for you action junkies, here's a chapter full of fighting. For those of you who are wondering, there's one more chapter until "It's Always Darkest..." where I can have some REAL fun.
The blink wave carried us into an empty living quarter that I had spotted on my first trip there. It was dark, but that was all right, since there could have been cameras or something like that around us. I remember thinking, "Dawn, this is without a doubt the STUPIDEST stunt you have EVER pulled in your thirteen and eleven twelfth years on this planet, so better hope to God you get a LOT of help on this one." I gave my brain a raspberry and opened the door tentatively as I released Clarice. There were no prelates in the hallway; good. They were probably all attacking Askani Hold, so there wouldn't be much resistance.
:If we're going to do this then I might as well get rid of this dress,: I mumbled psionically. I ripped the long dress off to about three inches above the knee, which I'd never have done if I hadn't been wearing the Askani Clan uniform underneath. I sighed with relief; I could finally move my legs again.
"Which way?" Corinth whispered.
:That way,: I sent, indicating the hallway to the left. Will, who was the only one who could "hear" me relayed everything I said. :Shy'ar, my memories are kind of muddled, seeing as I was stunned the last time I went down it, so could you try to get a fix on the Clan members?:
"I'm trying," Shy'ar said. "The psionic bafflers are making it difficult for me to use my powers, but I'm getting a strong reading from that direction."
The four of us crept carefully down the halls, always watching for prelates. We got halfway down the hall before we were discovered.
"Intru--" he began to scream, but Shy'ar cut him off with a kick in the head, which knocked him unconscious.
"We'd better hurry before any of his little friends find him," Will suggested, and everyone agreed whole-heartedly. We moved along the corridors quickly and as quietly as we could, even though my burn was still aching me and I had the urge to go "Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow." with each step. I ignored it and we at last made our way down to the holding pens.
It was as I remembered it. Thousands of people crowded into a large cell with several solitary cells lining the walls, such as the one I had been put into.
:Where are the Clan members?: I sent to Will, who echoed it to Shy'ar.
"Scattered throughout the cells," he told me. "We'd have to open them all."
"Then why not?" Will inquired. "They're all here because they oppose Apocalypse, right? They'd probably be useful, or at the very least prove to be a distraction."
"True," Shy'ar nodded slowly, "But we'd still have to get the locks to open, and I've barely even SEEN an earth computer before, let alone know how to use one. And I can only read Shi'ar, anyway."
"Ledt me twy," I told him, wincing as pain shot through my jaw. I cast my mind out, looking for someone who could help. I found Jenny and said, :Jenny, what was your power?:
:I'm a telekinetic and can psionically disrupt machinery, too,: she said with a cheshire grin. :Why? Have a job for me?:
:Maybe,: I replied. :Come here...: Jenny joined us in the real world and I sent, :Can you disrupt the locks?:
"Probably," she nodded. The air around her began to glow with bluish gold light and the locks fizzled and sparks shot out of them like drops of water. The doors opened marginally.
"Whadda ya know?" Jenny grinned. "I can affect stuff like that too. I'll have to remember that sometime."
:Thanks,: I sent.
"No prob," she smiled as she disappeared. Then, as hard as I could, I sent, :Members of the Askani Clan, we're here to help. Shy'ar and Sister Sundance are with me, and Rachel is back at Askani Hold, which is under fire. Help us, please...:
Dozens of heads turned and looked at me. It had worked! Transmitting to other psi-sensitive mutants had managed to bypass the psionic dampener.
:Who are you?: someone sent.
:Dawn Embers,: I replied. :Rachel went back in time to get me so I could help her. The doors are open, you're all free now, so you can go to help Rachel and Boak. If you don't believe me ask Corinth or Shy'ar, they're here too, like I said.:
:No, we trust you,: another voice said. :We can see into your mind, we have no reason not to.:
Then, almost as one, all the members of the Clan Askani moved calmly towards the door. The other captives, curious as to what was happening, stared at them. All were women of varying ages, and most of them were dressed in the standard blue and yellow uniform, like the one I was wearing underneath the robe and skirt. The Clan members opened the door and stepped out of one cell after the other, and several came from the solitary cells as well. The other prisoners seemed stunned at first, but then came pouring out in a wave of bodies which was reminiscent of a scene in Threnody's memories. All the Clan members plus Will and I backed against the wall to let them through. When the crowd dispersed some forty plus women remained with us, all possessing an astonishing array of psionic powers.
"Hello, Shy'ar," one of them said, smiling. She had dark maroon hair and a small gold tattoo over her left eye. "Have you been taking care of Corinth?"
"Indeed I have, Cura," Shy'ar smiled. I had the distinct impression the two were flirting, but when one is the only man for about forty women I guess it's unavoidable.
"I'd like to get out of here as quickly as possible," another Clan member spoke up. "If you two do not mind interrupting what will soon become a perpetual clutch, that is."
So the two WERE lovers. Interesting, but completely irrelevant, I scolded myself.
"I second that," Will spoke up. It's a good thing he didn't have to breathe, because he was wedged between about five women and a stone wall.
"Me toowa," I mumbled.
"We should get out before we are overrun by prelates," another nodded. The crowd began to move towards the exit, but we were halted by a mob of said lackeys.
"Stay RIGHT where your are," one snarled.
"Like THAT'S going to happen," Will muttered. I elbowed him and summoned Clarice. Unlike my cousin, I could see there was no way possible we could get past a solid wall of prelate when most of the party's powers were dampened. I just hoped I could pull it off with all the power dampeners around here.
:I see what you're doing,: Cura sent to me. :We all can. We'll lend you the strength you need.:
Umm, sure. This made no sense to me whatsoever, but I could feel raw power building up inside of me so I managed to get the drift. I used Clarice's power and blinked all of us out to the front lawn where our psionic powers were uninhibited. Of course, the place was already swarming with prelates, who were trying to contain the other escaped prisoners. The other prelates, I could sense, were realizing what happened and charging towards the doors, so I figured we'd better hurry up.
The Askani, however, acted like they did this kind of thing everyday, which they probably did. They attacked and/or defended themselves against the prelates, using their powers as well as their fighting skills. I felt totally useless, since my judo training, though excellent, was obviously not going to be able to stand up to something like this. I wondered if there was some way I could give myself an edge... when it hit me. I had Threnody's memories, her very personality inside of me, and SHE knew how to fight. Not only that, but she was USED to fighting people like this. Perhaps if I gave her partial control I'd be able to hold my own in this scrap.
A prelate's fist grazed my back and I decided to give it a shot. I tapped into Threnody's memories... and suddenly found myself looking through different eyes. I was aware of who and where I was, but Threnody was with me as well. She was amazed, having thought she had died only to be resurrected here, and I quickly explained the situation to my double. As she realized what was going on another prelate came at us and she promptly ignited my leg and slammed it into his face, preforming something she called a flame kick. I was amazed that the memories had actually assumed a sense of consciousness, but I learned later that it was only that way when I willed it to be. The prelate dropped to the ground, burnt and hurting. As he fell he dropped a gun of some kind, which delighted Threnody.
"Yes!" she cried through my lips. "A firearm!" She armed it with amazing speed, which in itself was amazing since it was about two thousand years later for her, too. Apparently firearms had been part of her training, because she shot a prelate with uncanny accuracy. I made a mental note that she made sure the setting was non-lethal, which is what I would have done too. The gun evened the score for us, and soon we were on equal terms with everyone else in the battle field.
Then suddenly I felt a flash of terror for Corinth as she cried out my name. "DAWN!" she cried, terrified. I realized she had been looking for me all along, having no experience on a battlefield as yet. As I watched her run towards me I was struck in the back of the head as the butt of a prelate's gun connected with my skull. Black swam in front of my eyes for a moment as I heard Corinth scream in horror as the gun was cocked. I turned around to stare into the barrel of the rifle and it clicked, releasing the plasma blast it contained. Everything seemed to go into slow motion after that, and I saw Corinth dart in front of me, protecting me from the blast. The blast hit her dead in the chest and the smell of searing flesh rose from her. I screamed in rage and snapped the man's mind, leaving him a vegetable. I buried Threnody's mind and bent over Corinth, using Jenny's power to create a telekinetic shield around the two of us.
:Corinth...: I whispered into her dying mind. She had a huge burn mark across her chest and the skin around it was peeling. The smell of it was disgusting, and I got the impression that it was still cooking her insides.
:I'm... s'rry... for... d'stractin' you...: she sent weakly, her eyes filled with tears of pain.
:It's okay... it's okay...: I repeated, whether to her or myself I wasn't sure. :You SAVED me, Cori, I'm grateful.:
:I'm... happy...: she stammered. :Can you... help me? It hurts... so much...:
:It'll be all right,: I told her, though I knew it was a lie. There was nothing I could do for her to save her, the most I could do was shut her nerve endings down to spare her the tremendous pain she was in.
:Thank..... you..........*: She smiled at me weakly--and died.
I was in so much pain I barely noticed Sister Cura standing next to my telekinetic shield as Corinth's memories flowed into me.
"You must overcome your pain," she told me gently. I looked up at her with a tearstained face and sent, :She was so young... and so scared... and she didn't even belong in this fight. She had no protection... no training... and she died...:
"I know it hurts," Cura told me, "but you must get over it if we're to get out of here. We need you to destroy this place, or, more accurately, we must use you as a channel to your cousin that we can focus our psionic energies through. If we can supercharge his powers we can be rid of these prelates forever, and perhaps even Apocalypse himself."
:I don't want to kill anyone,: I sent angrily.
"If you DON'T then we're ALL dead!" she cried. Then, a little more calmly, "We need you to teleport all of us out of here so your cousin can destroy this place. We'll supply the energy for you, but we need your cooperation."
Slowly I nodded, still clutching Corinth's corpse to me. The Sisterhood channeled their power into me and I teleported us all out, leaving many bewildered prelates behind.
"Now, William," Cura instructed Will. Will nodded solemnly and raised his arms towards the distant citadel. I felt energy flow through me and into my cousin as he caused every atom in the stronghold to combust. There was a fantastic explosion as it went up in flame and I was battered by hundreds of psi screams. I clutched my head, trying to blot out the cries, and teleported us near to Askani Hold at the instruction of Cura.
It wasn't much of an improvement to the stronghold. There were hundreds of prelates there as well, and Rachel and Boak were hard pressed to keep them at bay. The Sisterhood took no time in tearing into the opposition with their minds, knocking out or killing the weakest and stunning the strongest. I couldn't bear to watch as they finished them off, so I simply sat against a wall, clutching the corpse of the poor, dead little Clan member to me, unable to cry anymore. When at last I looked up the fighting had ceased and the ground was littered with bodies. I silently walked to my room and closed the door, leaving Corinth's body on her bed, and was quietly sick for the next half hour or so.
Sometime later Will came in to try to comfort me. "Dawn, it's all right," he told me.
:No, it isn't,: I sent, my face buried in my pillow. :I was an instrument in mass murder, and I don't think anything can change THAT.:
"I was the one who killed them, kiddo," Will said. "NOT you."
:I don't care. If I hadn't been here you wouldn't have been either, and Corinth wouldn't have died.: I began to cry again and Will found himself speechless. All he could think of was holding me until my tears abated, long past midnight, and I finally slept.
TEASER: Dawn is finally going home! Of course, first she's got to survive Apocalypse's sneak attack and gets a little... sidetracked...