Ties Never Binding, part 11

Disclaimer: Take any disclaimer and stick it here, I'M not gonna write one.

Author's Note: I was wondering what happened to Mountjoy after he and Captain Britain got in that fight in London, and I'm sure he must have had some grudges afterwards. This is MY version of where he went.

Invasion of the Body Snatcher

In the doorway of the Rec Cottage a tall, thin man with long red hair stood, grinning at us obscenely. That in itself was not so terrifying, but the fact that I could actually SEE Sean, Emma, Monet, Jubilee, Paige, and Mondo struggling to climb OUT of him made my nonexistent heart stop. If it had been physically possible for me to throw up I would cheerfully have lost my lunch right then and there, but as it was I could only manage a couple of dry heaves and some strange, garbled noises.

"You are four of the remaining eight on the campus," the man smiled, eyeing us in a way that a hawk might eye a plump mouse. "Excellent. My stay here is nearing completion."

"You... were what I was feeling?" I stuttered, noticing my arm band was flashing brightly, almost like some kind of alarm.

"Most likely," he agreed. "But you will excuse me if I get down to business and have a snack." Before I could move he lunged at me and the person nearest to me, Everett. He grabbed our faces and I felt his fingers try to... absorb me, I suppose is the best word. I screamed thinly as a jolt ran through my body and into his, which was followed by a cry from Everett, who's aura was flashing wildly in a strobe of colors. I watched as the man, whose name Everett and I had both gleaned to be Mountjoy in our brief contact with him, was thrown back into the opposite wall as the nature of Everett's specific borrowed power became apparent. He had synched with Mountjoy instinctively, and, as he had tried to absorb him, Mountjoy had discovered his own power feeding back at him. Like a double negative, the effect of Everett trying to absorb Mountjoy as Mountjoy himself had tried to absorb Everett had canceled each attempt out, though it had left both equally stunned.

"What... ARE you?!" Mountjoy demanded, wiping a spot of blood away from his mouth. "You... I couldn't absorb you!"

I decided he was probably talking to me, too. "Ev used his own power against you, and I don't even HAVE a body," I snapped. "Sorry to disappoint you."

"Then I shall have to kill you," Mountjoy said simply. He screeched a sonic wail, using Sean's powers against us. Angelo, thinking quickly, grabbed a blanket from the couch and threw it over Mountjoy's head, then wrapped his skin around it to avoid direct contact. Mountjoy howled in rage and tore the blanket apart, almost taking Angelo's skin with it. Angelo withdrew his skin so quickly it made a snapping noise and threw him into a chair, which would have been funny if we hadn't been fighting for our lives at the time.

"Enough!" Mountjoy exclaimed, throwing bowling-ball sized pyrotechnics at us. Everett thrust himself in front of us and managed to deflect them somehow, then sent some of the same back at Mountjoy.

:Why is it every time we try ter take a day off we get attacked?: Jonothon inquired, slamming the villain with a psionic blast.

"God hates us," I grated, giving the momentarily stunned mutant a hard side-kick in the head.

"Fools!" Mountjoy snarled, "By injuring me you injure your friends as well!"

I saw his captives writhing around inside of him and stopped my attack, as did everyone else. I bit my lip in frustrated worry. "What are you going to do with them?" I whispered.

"Digest them," he told us. "Very, very slowly. I may pick one to 'ride', but I doubt it. They are much more useful as sustenance."

"You body stealing--" Angelo began, following up with a word that I was unable to translate, nor did I wish to. He started to lunge forward, but Jonothon grabbed him.

:Don't do it, mate,: he told him. :Yer'll only end up in there.: He nodded meaningfully towards the struggling forms in Mountjoy's body and Angelo stopped his advance, though I could feel his rage intensifying.

Everett looked at me and sent, :Did you notice how he weakened when Jono blasted him?:

I reflected. Mountjoy's captives had seemed to lunge outwards a little when Jonothon's blast had connected, and I nodded slightly, trying to shield our rapport from the monster's stolen telepathy. I glanced at Mountjoy. He seemed busy trying to decide whether to kill us all or just Everett and I.

:Yes,: I acknowledged at last, :But we'd need way more energy then Jono can throw at him if we're going to get them free, won't we?:

:I was thinking about that,: Everett replied. :If I synched with Jono and he and I fired at once, with you working of getting them free with your telepathy, then maybe we could free them.:

:Sounds like a plan,: I sent, almost smiling. I relayed the message to Jonothon and Angelo, telling him to keep clear. They both nodded, and Everett's aura began to power up.

Unfortunately, Mountjoy noticed.

"So you're planning something, eh?" he said. "We'll see about that." He tensed to release another sonic scream, but Angelo wrapped a few yards of skin around his mouth, ignoring the danger.

"Do it!" he cried. "Hit him now!"

We almost hesitated. Angelo's skin was around Mountjoy's head, but the blast could easily envelope him. Then, realizing he knew the risk, we cut loose with all we had. Jonothon and Everett battered Mountjoy's body with psionic energy and I attacked his mind, trying to find the 'release' mechanism for his captives. I found it as Everett and Jonothon's blasts began to weaken, because their supply of energy wasn't endless, and I myself was feeling weak. Desperately, I motioned for the two to turn their weakening blasts on me.

:Are yer insane?!: Jonothon demanded. :This'll kill yer!:

"Better me... then them!" I told him, indicating our teammates and teachers. "Come on! I can't keep this up much longer, and if I let him slip I'll never get him back!"

Everett began to argue, but I silenced him. It was the only way, and we all knew it. Reluctantly, they turned their attacks on me, filling me with psionic energy. I gritted my teeth in pain, but continued to attack Mountjoy's mind, trying to force him to let the others go. It wasn't easy, because he had the combined telepathy of Monet and Emma, but I was starting to break through.

"Don't stop!" I screamed at them, tears of pain running down my face. "I've almost got it!"

"Chica, you're killing yourself!" Angelo told me, trying to pull me back.

"I... don't... CARE!" I cried, simultaneously slamming Mountjoy as hard as I could with my telepathy. I finally hit the trigger and the others were violently rejected from Mountjoy's body. I was extremely relieved at this, because I had absolutely no power left. None at all. I fell to the ground, dissolving as I did. I simply had nothing left to hold myself together. Everett and Jonothon were in the same state, both obviously spent from the ordeal. I choked out a frantic whisper for help, which came out very much like the wind rustling some stray leaves. Panic danced around in my head and decided to camp there for the night as I wondered what would happen to me now. There was nothing more to keep me earthbound, because I'd used all the ambient psionic energy around and there was nothing more for me to use as a body. I supposed I would die again, or maybe just hover about, insubstantial and unable to interact with anyone, physically or psionically, like a real ghost.

I heard Angelo faintly, attempting to keep me conscious and stable, but it wasn't working. His voice, thoughts, and finally emotions faded as I lost consciousness again, perhaps for the last time.

Emma was just barely conscious as Mountjoy was forces to divest her and her students, but she was alert enough to notice that three of the students that had not been absorbed were lying on the floor, the one remaining trying to revive them. Everett was merely exhausted, but Jonothon's energy levels were dangerously low, and Dawn...

Emma shifted her gaze and watched Angelo react in desperation as he saw his classmate dissolving before his eyes.

"Snap out of it, chica!" he exclaimed, trying to shake her awake, but his hands passed through her shoulders as they too began to fade away. "Come on, girl, stay awake!" he continued, his voice getting more and more frantic. Dawn's eyes rolled over to look in his general direction, but Emma doubted that they actually registered his face. Emma, appalled, watched in horror as the girl whispered something faintly in her mind.

:...help... me...:

Emma crawled to her knees and reached for her student's fading hand. She reached it just as Dawn's eyes shut in resignation and her whole body all but disappeared.

"NO!" Emma whispered forcefully, unwilling to let the student who had already left them once die a second time. She reached out with her already exhausted mind and fed the girl her power, trying to keep her whole. Straining, she managed to give the girl's body a sense of weight and shape once more, though it was unstable. She clutched Dawn's hand tightly, channeling her energy through her student's body and recharging her as much as she could before feeling her powers give out.

"Sean..." she murmured to the headmaster, who was beside her, barely breathing, "Sean... we have to get her to the psionic containment chamber. I can't hold her together much longer."

Sean looked up, still dazed and drained. He struggled to his feet and looked at his fallen students. "Acch, ye're right," he said weakly, steadying himself on the wall. "Jono and Ev dinna look so good either." He turned to his awakening students. "Monet, I know 'tis askin' a lot, but could ye carry Jono an' Ev t' the infirmary?"

"Yes, sir," she replied, though she looked unsteady and still disoriented. She picked the two up and Sean picked up Dawn and Emma. The both flew to the infirmary as swiftly as they were able, concerned about saving their teammates.

No one noticed that Mountjoy had disappeared.

Sean deposited the fluxuating form of his newest student into the psionic containment chamber that had been constructed shortly after the untimely destruction of the Girl's Dorm. It had been designed to do anything from containing to dampening psionic energy, and, in this case, it helped contain the pitifully small amount of psionic energy that was all that held Dawn together. Monet placed Everett and Jonothon onto the lab cots and deftly programmed them to monitor their health and power levels while Emma moved to monitor the containment chamber.

"Jonothon and Everett should regain consciousness within the next four hours, sir," Monet said as she checked the readings on her teammates' cots.

"'Tis good to know," Sean nodded. "Thank ye, lass." He turned to Emma. "What aboot Dawn?" he inquired.

"It's hard to say," she told him with a sigh. "Since she's composed entirely of psionic energy she had no physical reserves to draw on, so her body was forced to feed on itself to maintain the attack. It may take days, even weeks, for her to gather enough energy to become fully conscious again."

:*=$%\@ ^$-# *(&% %&|@( $@#%...:

"Hunh?" Sean said, turning around. He saw Dawn's ghostly form twisting around in the chamber, fading in and out.

:...^*=#& +&$* @()% +%*&...: Dawn continued to mutter.

"What language is that?" he frowned.

"I have no idea," Emma admitted. "Monet?"

"I... don't know," she said, frowning. "I've never heard anything like it before."

"So the lass is just speakin' gibberish?"

"No, I think it's an actual language. Listen to the regularity of certain sounds. I'm sure if I could find a book on linguistics I might be able to puzzle it out, but I really haven't the faintest idea of what it could be from, let alone where."

Emma shook her head. "We really don't need to worry about this now," she said. "What we NEED to decide is what we want to do about this. We can't leave our students unconscious in the Rec Cottage with... with... oh no." She quickly did a scan of the immediate area and made a cross between a sigh and a curse.

"Mountjoy's gone," Emma said. "I'm not sure whether to be grateful or terrified."

"We'd best see t' the other students," Sean urged, ignoring his fatigue. "They're nae in critical condition, but I'd feel better if they were all in here."

"Of course," Emma agreed. As she, Monet, and Sean trekked towards the Rec Cottage she reviewed her brief time as Mountjoy's captive.

If I EVER find you again, Mountjoy, then I shall throw Charles' anti-violence theory to the winds and make sure that you never, EVER take advantage of me or my students again.

Jean turned off the communications monitor and cradled her head in her hands, thinking about the message.

"Hey, Jeannie, what's up?" Bobby inquired, entering the room. "Who were you talking to?"

"Sean," she replied grimly. "They just had a run in with Mountjoy at the Academy, and three of their students are hurt, one maybe fatally. They want to transfer her here. They think we can help."

"Why? Because of Hank?"

"No, because of Elizabeth, Nathan and I. Apparently she needs psionic energy to anchor her, and she's spent all of hers."

"And this is a problem becauuuuse..?"

"I saw her when we were battling Onslaught."


"She's supposed to be dead."


"Do you remember that message Moira sent us?" Jean asked. "It was a few days ago, but we didn't get the transmission until yesterday because of the interference from Onslaught, and it was badly broken up. Up until now I never even thought about it, because I've met the girl before and I was so sorry to hear she'd died of Legacy... but now? It's like that whole Madelyne/Phoenix mess all over again, except this time it's a child, not me..."

Bobby shook his head. "Listen, Jean," he said. "I know you've had some bad experiences with this stuff, but this is a kid we're talking about. I mean, think about it. Phoenix and Madelyne were basically clones of you, and they were around for years, right? But this is a kid, and what if it's the real thing? Not a clone or an imposter, but the real thing? Isn't it something to be happy about?"

Jean sighed. "I guess so," she replied, "but it still feels to me like deja vu all over again."

Bobby shrugged. "Well, you'll have time enough to get over it," he said nonchalantly. He looked over his shoulder. "I think I should go n--"

"ROBERTTTT!" came a voice from the hallway as footsteps pounded through the corridors.

"I definitely need to go now," Bobby said, icing up and sliding out of the room. A moment later Hank entered the room, his blue fur covered with frost and clutching a robe around his shoulders.

"When I find that post adolescent sub zero thermal manipulating miscreant I shall beat him thoroughly about the head and shoulders!" Hank fumed, shivering. "I finally return from my trying incarceration and attempt to take a nice, long, HOT shower and that immature little ice gnome turns my bath water into a hail of ice cubes!" He glanced over and saw Jean. "Oh. Hello, Jean. Good morning." He pushed his absurdly tiny glasses back up his nose, smoothed back his sopping blue hair, and looked back down the hall before taking off again.

Jean waited several minutes until he was safely out of earshot--and burst out laughing. She laughed so hard she thought she would burst, tears running down her face.

With all the heat from Onslaught lately, I forgot how funny living in this place could be, she thought as she wiped her eyes. Maybe it won't be so bad after all.

She waited a few moments and composed herself before contacting her teammates to tell them they would have some guests in the mansion very shortly.

Continue To Chapter Twelve

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