Ties Never Binding
By Tapestry (malfam@inlink.com)

Disclaimer: X-Men and Gen X belong to Marvel, all other characters are probably mine.

Author's Note: I was waiting for an opportunity to get the X-Men back in, and this seemed as good a time as any. Besides, who'd want to stay along with Mountjoy on the loose? Anyway, Dawn has a few things to find out, and only a few of the senior team can help her do it...

Ties Never Binding: Part 12
Return To The X-Mansion

Generation X boarded the Blackbird the X-Men had sent over for them, Scott in the driver's seat.

"The whole team, Sean?" Scott inquired presently.

"Aye," Sean nodded, sipping a mug of coffee. "'Twas all we could think of t'do. Wi' Mountjoy still on the loose an' none o' us fit t'fight if he returns we thought it best." He allowed himself the slightest of smiles. "And besides, Jubilee insisted."

Scott nodded knowingly. "And you're sure Emma and Monet can keep Dawn together long enough for the trip?" he asked.

"'Tis only a few minutes in the Blackbird," Sean replied. "An' I have faith in them. The two may be exhausted, but I've no doubt they'll hold up." Despite his reassurances, however, he glanced back at them out of the corner of his eye and saw both their faces drawn in concentration, sweat beading down both their faces. Jonothon and Everett were both resting quietly on cots near the back, being watched over by Paige and Jubilee, who were both equally drained. The rest of the students, with the exception of Penance, Artie, and Leech, were already asleep.

"Where's your other student?" Scott inquired after a moment. "Verney?"

"Hunh? Oh, he said he'd meet us at the Institute," Sean answered. "He didna feel comfortable sittin' near Penny, especially nae in close quarters. He STILL hasna faced the lass, though. We dinna know what'll happen when he does."

They arrived at the Institute without incident and touched down in the hanger. Hank had several stretchers ready, one each for Everett, Jonothon, and Dawn, and several members of the team were there to assist them.

"Hi, Paige," Sam said as he helped his sister out of the Blackbird. "How ya doin'?"

"Ah'm okay," she insisted, nearly tripping over the stairs.

Sam grinned and shook his head. "Sure ya are. C'mon, Ah'll show ya to a couch."

"Monet? Ms. Frost? Are you two all right?" Jean said, approaching Emma and Monet, who were still trying to hold Dawn together.

"We're fine," Emma told her through gritted teeth. "Just get a stretcher over here NOW."

"We'll hold her," Cable told her, stepping up with Betsy. He nodded his head. "You can let her go now."

Emma looked at him darkly, but let go. For a split second Dawn's form wavered, but then returned as strongly as ever. She rolled her unseeing eyes over towards Cable, then muttered, "&^%$(*... *+)@*$& *$)^_#@)_(+ *\+%^@..."

Cable, Jean, and Scott all gasped simultaneously.

"WHAT did she just say?!" Cable exclaimed, stepping forward. "Where did she learn that?!"

"Ye know what she said?" Sean inquired, raising an eyebrow in surprise.

"Yes," Scott replied. "That's a language that will evolve in several thousand years."

"What did it mean?" Emma asked.

"Roughly translated, it meant 'What is...IS, and I know this creed is what you live by and honor, so honor it now and help me, because I AM,'" Jean said. She turned to Cable. "Dawn recently went to the future, about six decades before WE arrived. She took part in one of the first rebellions alongside of Rachel and some of the other Clan members."

"Out of necessity she had to absorb a lot of information from that era, including the language," Scott explained. "We can only assume she absorbed some knowledge about the Clan and its sayings as well. That, if I recall correctly, is a traditional plea for help said only between Clan members."

"So all this rubbish she's been spouting is actually bits and pieces of a language from the future?" Emma frowned, her face still pale and drawn from her psionic exertion.

Scott nodded. "In all probability, yes."

"Let's get the lass t'the Med Lab," Sean said after a moment.

"Don't worry, Sean, we'll help her," Jean assured him. She lifted Dawn onto the stretcher telekinetically and lifted the ones bearing Everett and Jonothon as well. They arrived at the Med Lab within minutes, where Hank took over.

"Let me check on Jonothon and Everett," he said. "You can deposit her into that chamber over there." He indicated a glass observation booth that was set up in the corner, and Jean gently set Dawn inside as she placed Everett and Jonothon onto cots. Hank set up some equipment and began running a diagnostic on them, then glanced back at the two teachers.

"As you surmised, Sean, Everett and Jonothon are in no immediate danger," Hank said. "They should be up presently. A bit weak and disoriented, perhaps, but they'll be fine. Young Ms. Embers, on the other hand, will requires a sizable amount of psionic energy if she is to remain coherent. The good news is, these requirements are well within your psionic parameters. You should have no problem helping this young lady regain her concentration and sense of mass."

"I've heard that before," Emma muttered, sipping a cup of tea she had been given.

"My dear Ms. Frost, have a little faith," Hank said. "Why can't things be EASY for once?"

"Because they never are," she replied tersely. "But for my student, I shall try."

"Shall we start?" Betsy inquired, a bit bluntly.

"The sooner the better," Sean said.

"Why not?" Cable shrugged. "From what McCoy said it shouldn't take long."

"'Shouldn't,'" Emma murmured.

"Shake the pessimism, Emma," Hank said. "This WILL work."

Emma merely shook her head. The other telepaths swapped glances, then joined hands. Emma joined them, shaking off her exhaustion.

"Ready?" Jean asked the others. They nodded in agreement. Jean forged a telepathic link between them all, then between the united minds and Dawn. Dawn's natural shields balked them for a moment, surprising them, but then let them in willingly.

:She knows we're trying to help,: Betsy sent telepathically.

:Let's get this show on the road, shall we?: Cable sent. Without any further ado he began feeding Dawn strength, much like he had done with Nate Grey scant weeks before. The other psions quickly joined in, filling the girl with new energy. Her form brightened and cleared, ceasing its awkward fluxuations and broken movements. It settle to rest on the bottom of the booth, seeming to lapse into a semblance of sleep.

"Was that it?" Emma inquired, staggering a little despite herself.

"It should be," Hank said, checking the readings. "Her energy levels have stabilized. I would leave her in the chamber just to be safe, though. I'll stay here to be certain no complications arise."

There was a faint shift in the nearby air as Verney arrived, gasping for breath and shivering. He struggled to his feet, his breath rasping within the confines of the respirator and his grey skin covered with sweat.

"Verney?!" Sean exclaimed, rushing over to him. "What is it, lad?"

"Thought...I could make it," he replied raggedly, collapsing into a chair. He pulled out a vial from his robe and uncorked it quickly, holding it up to his hand. His breathing slowed and he seemed to relax somewhat, placing the empty vial back in his vest.

"Explain yerself, lad," Sean said when the young Algerian had recovered.

Verney took a breath. "I thought I could make it here," he explained. "But I forgot to take the supplement before I left, and I nearly got caught Between." He leaned against the back of the chair, his breath still uneven.

"Acch, lad, ye must learn t'be more careful," Sean said, laying a hand on Verney's shoulder. "I know ye dinna feel comfortable with this...handicap...but ye need t'adjust or ye could end up stuck Between...or worse."

"I know," he said. He turned his head slightly and a razor-sharp strand of hair slashed Sean's arm.

"Ahhh..!" Sean gasped quietly, drawing his hand away faster then he meant to.

"Oh no!" Verney said, practically leaping out of the chair. "Mr. Cassidy, I'm sorry...!"

"'Tis all right, lad," Sean assured him, clamping a hand around the wound to stop the bleeding. "'Tis only a scratch."

Verney looked at his arm, then at his own sharp hands. "No, it's not all right," he said. "I don't belong here. Sometimes I don't think I belong anywhere. I need to think." He began to fade out, turning his back to them.

"Verney--wait!" Sean exclaimed. "Dinna go..!"

"It's too late, Sean," Emma said, watching the last visible parts of the young man disappear.

Sean sighed to himself. "I know," he said. "I just wish he wasna so flighty sometimes."

"Let me put something on that arm," Hank said, drawing out a cloth and some disinfectant.

Sean put his bleeding arm out for Hank to bandage as Hank continued. "Besides, you know better then to expect a young man who has been in the thrall of an ancient evil for several years to readjust in a strange country within the week. He IS only twenty-one, you know."

"Aye, but I would feel better if'n he--"

They were interrupted by a soundless shriek from Dawn, who had begun to writhe in agony within the containment booth. Hank ran over to the monitor and frantically began to scroll through the readings.

"What is it? What's wrong?" Jean asked, clutching her hands over her ears as if trying to block out the horrible psionic keening.

"I don't know!" Hank told her. "Everything was working, but now it's as if her body is trying to expunge the energy! From what I've heard the process is involuntary as well as instinctive, so it must be taking a special effort to do so. Whatever it is, it must be psychological. If we fail to discern what is happening here she'll deplete herself completely in a matter of minutes."

I KNEW it wouldn't be this easy, Emma moaned mentally. She took several deep breaths and stood up again, praying she would have enough energy left to do what she was about to attempt.

"Keep monitoring her," she told Hank, walking over towards the booth. "I'll only be a moment."

"Emma, ye're nae plannin' t'do what I think ye are, are ye?" Sean said, catching her arm. "Ye're in no condition t'be prancin' 'round in the girl's mind t'try an' fix Lord knows what!"

"I admire your dedication to the child, Emma, but I must agree with Sean," Hank agreed. "Let Jean, Betsy or Cable go in. You need to recuperate or you could suffer serious physical and psionic trauma."

"She is MY responsibility, McCoy," Emma snarled. "I will NOT have a repeat of the fight with D'Spayre. I. Am. Going. In." She activated her psionic powers and fought her way into Dawn's mind, letting her body slip to the ground and into unconsciousness.

Jean stepped up to the chamber and touched the glass. "I'll follow her," she said. "Cable, you and Elizabeth anchor me while I go after Emma."

"I'm coming with you," Cable told her in such a determined voice she knew there wasn't anyway to talk him out of it.

"Fine," she said with a sigh of resignation. "Elizabeth, I guess the job of anchor goes to you. Are you up to it?"

"Certainly," Betsy assured her, taking a seat in a nearby chair as an aura of rose-colored energy flared around her head.

"All right then, let's get moving," Cable said gruffly. He and Jean linked minds for greater stability, then stepped into Dawn's.

There was a moment of disorientation as they were stunned a little by a brief but brutal psi-shock as they bypassed the girl's defenses, but regained their composure to find themselves in pleasant, well-lit surroundings.

"We're in a...a library?" Cable frowned, confused. "This doesn't seem like much of a problem to me. Why are we HERE?"

"I'm not sure," Jean admitted, glancing around the large room.

"You're not the only one," Emma said from behind them. They turned around to see her. She leaning against the wall, trying to disguise her obvious fatigue but failing miserably.

"I haven't seen anything to indicate any kind of trouble since *I* got here," Emma continued. "I think McCoy made a mistake."

"Maybe not," Jean said suddenly. She nodded towards a plush armchair, where a brunette girl was reading a book.

"That her?" Cable inquired. "I'VE never seen her before."

"Yes," Emma said with the utmost certainty. "Apparently this is a version of her before her mutation manifested itself."

Jean nodded in agreement, then cautiously made her way around the other chairs to Dawn's seat. She knelt down beside her and said, "Hello there. What're you reading?"

"Hmm?" Dawn said, looking up. Her warm brown eyes surprised Jean slightly, because she had only known them as blue in all the time she had been acquainted with the girl.

"Is that a good book?" Jean queried.

"What, this?" Dawn asked, showing no apparent signs of distress, or even curiosity as to what a strange woman would want with her. "Yeah, it's pretty good. It's by Mercedes Lackey. Have you read any of her stuff before?"

"No, I don't get much time to read," Jean said, almost smiling. "My job keeps me fairly busy."

Dawn squinted at her. "Do I know you?" she asked after a moment. "You look familiar."

"You might," Jean replied carefully. She didn't know exactly what was going on, but she knew it was best to be discreet. "My name is--"

Before she could continue the scene suddenly changed as she felt someone grab her arm and pull her away and into a blackened, war-torn landscape. Within seconds Cable and Emma followed, looking just as astonished as she felt.

"Sorry, Mrs. Summers, Ms. Frost, um...Cable, right?" came a weary voice from behind them. They turned to see Dawn holding a long sword and covered in blue-and-silver armor, her long hair, now blue and white again, pulled up into a severe ponytail that was beginning to loosen, strands of it falling around her eyes. Upon closer inspection it was revealed that her armor sported several cracks as well as blackened areas, and there was even some blood leaking from between the cracks.

"Dawn?" Emma asked, frowning.

"Yeah, I'm afraid so," Dawn said, staggering a little.

"Then who was that in there?" Cable inquired, his left eye glowing ever so slightly.

"Well, ME up until I got my powers," Dawn informed them, leaning on the sword. "I guess it represents my goals and ambitions BEFORE I found out I was a mutant, or something deep and profound like that. I kind of locked it away now that my priorities have shifted. Sorry to yank you out, but I didn't want you to let that thing know how to get at that particular piece of my mind right now. Not while I'm still trying to defend the rest of me."

"What thing?" Jean said.

There was a hiss behind them and they all spun around to discover a skeletal figure in a tattered black robe standing amidst a pile of burning rubble, its grinning death's head leering at them as maggots crawled through its hollow eye sockets. It opened its mouth and ran a rotten green tongue across its bony lips, drooling a sickly yellow saliva.

"THAT thing," Dawn replied, eyes wide. She turned to the other three. "Do you want to scream or should I?"

Continue To Chapter Thirteen

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