The Ties That Bind, part 2
Disclaimer: All Marvel characters belong to Marvel, everyone else belongs to me.
Author's Note: All right, I know the Onslaught is over, but hey, this is a different dimension, right? Anyway, this finally introduces some new blood into the team that has a few interesting connections to certain people both Dawn AND Gen X would probably like to forget. Yes, I'm deliberately being obscure. Deal with it.
I could hear Moira and Rahne asking what was wrong with me, but I was too preoccupied to answer them. I was a little busy trying to hold my body together as something began to pull at me. There was something large and unnatural in the astral plane, but it had shielded itself so I couldn't identify it. I saw my form waver crazily as I struggled to remain in one piece, and knew for sure that Jonothon, Monet, and probably Emma were feeling it as well. Mercifully, the initial shock of the sensation passed quickly, but it was still there. I felt weak, and there was pain coursing through my body.
"Lass, what is goin' on here?" Moira inquired, striding up to me quickly and kneeling down beside me. (Somehow I had gotten from a standing position to that of lying on my stomach.)
"I don't >hurmph!< know," I replied, clutching my stomach. "Something's disrupting the astral plane and >mmumph!< it's hurting ME. Dr. MacTaggert, it feels like >gahhck!< I'm being torn in two!"
"Lady Moira, she's right!" Rahne said, looking at the charts. "There was an energy spike--there." She pointed to a section of the monitor. Moira looked up and said, "Can ye pinpoint the source?"
"Nay," Rahne told her. "Somethin's disrupting the system."
"Lovely," Moira said. "Can ye get up, lass?"
"Yeah," I replied, picking myself off the floor. ">Mmmphft!< My stomach hurts..."
"I know, lass, just take it easy and have a seat," Moira instructed me, helping me to a cot. "Let's see what we can do aboot th--"
"Dr. MacTaggert, Jono fainted!" Paige cried as she and Everett dragged Jonothon in, his bandages loosely hanging around the globe of energy in his chest, which was flickering weakly.
:Not... quite,: he sent weakly. :What's... happenin' out there?:
"I don't >uurmph!< know, but I'm feeling it too," I told him.
"Dawn too..?" Everett said.
"Dawn!" Paige exclaimed.
">Hhhumph!< Hi Paige," I gasped. "Fancy meeting >urrgh!< you here."
"That's what we were trying to tell you, Paige," Everett said. "She's back."
"She might no' be fer long if we canna figure out what's wrong wi' her and Jonothon," Moira said.
"No," I gasped, fighting off the pain. "I've got to... go to New York."
"What?!" Moira exclaimed. "I'm no' lettin' ye out o' this ward, let alone the island!"
"I HAVE to, Dr. MacTaggert," I told her, getting to my feet shakily. "Don't exactly... know why... but I can feel that it's where I can help the most."
"Occh, 'tis affecting yuir brain, lass," Moira said, trying to get me to lay down again. "Jus' settle down an' I'll--"
"No, it's not," I said firmly. "I can... FEEL something there. Something's happening in Manhattan, and it's affecting me and Jono. I can't tell what it is, or what's causing it, but I've got to go there to find out. If I have to fly there with my own two wings I will... but I AM going."
"Ye willna last five minutes out there, let alone be strong enough tae fly all the New York!" Moira protested.
"Dr. MacTaggert, I'm going," I told her. "I'll see you later." I walked to the door, flexing my wings to warm them up.
"All right! All right!" Moira exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air in surrender. "I canna keep ye here against yuir will, but it doesna mean I have tae like it! At least take someone wi' ye!"
"I wouldn't ask anyone to come," I said. "I don't even know why I'm going! I could get someone killed."
:Including... yerself,: Jonothon informed me.
"It's MY afterlife," I retorted. "Now >hurmph!< if the room will just stop spinning..."
"I'll go with her."
I turned around, startled. The voice was male and slightly French accented, which ruled out everyone in Muir except...
"Verney!" Moira exclaimed. "What're YE doin' here?"
"I heard you from down the hall," he said. "I shall go if you can't find anyone else."
I looked at Verney closely with a little hesitation. He looked more or less the same as he had before, but his eyes were no longer small and red. They seemed a bit larger and were now their natural color of brown. He no longer possessed the aura of menace he had originally had, and seemed a little quieter then before.
"Ye've no' even finished yuir therapy!" Moira continued. "'Tis totally, absolutely, completely out o' the question!"
"You forget, Dr. MacTaggert, that I, unlike Monet, am not a student," he reminded her. "I am partially responsible for the death of Dawn's friend, and therefor for her current predicament. I must make amends for what I have done, and this is a good way to start. Also, I am already quite adept at using my powers, so that is not a problem. I could get us to New York quickly by traveling Between."
Moira hesitated for several seconds, but then said, "All right, ye may go. But I would like ye both to know this is against my better judgment." She turned around and went through some drawers, then drew out several small vials. "Here," she said, stuffing them in a small bag and handing it to Verney, "These are the genetic substitutes fer yuir hunger. Take one every twenty six hours at least, or ye'll be goin' crazy wi' hunger again. They're in adamantium laced vials, so there's no need ta worry aboot them shattering." She shook her head and muttered, "Occh, Sean's no' gauny like this at all..."
"If anyone asks, I took over your mind and made you," I said, smiling wanly. "Er... should we go?" I asked Verney. I was feeling just a LITTLE skittish about being teamed with him, despite the fact that he'd been released from possession.
"If you want," he told me.
"Okay, now's good." I was lucky I hadn't swallowed my tongue yet.
"All right, hold on to my arm." Verney reached a clawed hand towards me, which I took a tad reluctantly. "Brace yourself, this could take a while," he instructed me. I did so, and he shunted us sideways through reality and into a different dimension, where we plunged towards our destination.
In a small, expensive restaurant at the edge of New York a young man walked through the front door and seated himself behind a grand piano. No reservation was asked and no one seemed to care about his rather shabby clothes. He began to play the piano beautifully, and people actually stopped in the middle of their meals to listen. The man was a regular there, never eating, rarely talking, and he always went straight to the piano. Yet no one thought it was odd, or even tried to stop him. Indeed, the host knew that the man was one of the reasons why so many people visited the restaurant, and on occasion he even tipped him himself. As people passed him, they laid money down on the piano for the young man, who seemed transfixed by the music he played. Then, after perhaps an hour or so, he collected the money, gathered his things, and took his leave, much to the disappointment of the remaining diners.
As the man made his way down to a more run-down part of the neighborhood he sighed and shook his head. He stopped in a small grocery store, bought a bag of various food items, and continued down to his apartment. He knocked on the door, which was opened quietly.
"Are you all right, Karen?" he asked the girl who had opened the door.
"I'm okay," she replied, though a little flatly. "Just cold."
"Well, I bought some food," he told her, setting down the bag. "Just... eat what you can, all right? You'll be fine."
"Yeah. I guess." But she sounded unsure.
"Come on, Karry," he coaxed her, handing her an apple. "Just eat it, okay?"
"All right," she sighed, taking it. She bit into it and fidgeted.
"How're the arms?" the man inquired.
"The same," she answered.
"Don't worry, weEEEEIIIAARGH!" the man doubled over, as if in pain.
"Shrive?!" the girl cried, dropping the apple and running over to him. "Shrive, what is it?!"
"He's coming... why didn't I see? I didn't see it... he's going to kill us all! The Avengers... the Fantastic Four... God no, he's killing them! Betrayed from within... they need help. MY help. They're coming. I have to meet them. Now."
"Shrive, what are you talking about?" Karen asked. "Who's killing them? Who needs help?"
"I can't explain," he told her. "I've got to go help someone, Karry. Just stay here; I'll be back for you later."
"You're leaving me?!" Karen exclaimed. "Let me come with you!"
"No, I can't let you," the man called Shrive said. "If you come, you die. You know I'm right."
"Yes, I know," Karen replied sadly. "You always are. I know that. But what can you do? You're just a precog!"
"I can do more then you think," he replied. "Just stay here and don't open the door for anyone. You'll be safe that way."
"Okay," Karen whispered. Shrive hurried out the door, locking it behind him.
Between was strange. I'd been there before, but this time I had more of an opportunity to look around. It was swirling with purple and black mist, and the hands... the hands clawed at Verney, but carefully avoided me. I noticed Verney shuddering as they raked him with their claws, but he suffered in silence. I reached out with my mind to try and find what was controlling them and found a cross between minds and souls. I tried to calm them, to tell them that it wasn't his fault and that they didn't need to worry about him any more, and it worked a little. They stopped clawing as viciously and settled for pulling, which was a little easier on Verney.
:Did you do that?: he thought to me.
:Yes. I thought I'd try and make it easier on you, since you've been nice enough to take me to New York.:
He paused. :This... is actually the most pleasant visit Between that I've had since I... changed,: he told me.
:Must have been rough,: I sent sympathetically.
:You have no idea. I don't think I realized how many people I'd victimized until now...: he faltered in mid thought as he spied a pair of hands which seemed to rise above the rest. Women's hands. They possessed a faint glow, making them stand out more prominently in the gloom of Between. I felt him shudder as recognition dawned on him.
:Muh... M-Mother...: he whispered mentally. His grip tightened around my arm as he yanked us out of Between and into a dark alley.
"Verney, are you all right?" I asked him. He had folded his arms in front of him and was shuddering like he was in an earthquake.
"N-not really," he told me weakly. "I saw... my mother."
"She was... in there?"
"Y-yes," he stammered. "She was... one of the first people I ever... ever..."
"It's okay," I told him, touching him on the shoulder. "I understand. Are you going to be okay?"
"I think so," he said, taking a shuddering breath. "I--oh no, I slashed your arm!"
I glanced down at my arm and found it dripping with blood. It kind of faded out as it hit the ground, because it seemed it could only exist while attached or close to me, so I wasn't that worried about it. "Don't worry," I assured him, "I learned this trick about astral wounds, and since I seem to be about ninety percent psionic energy I think it'll work now too." I concentrated and made the wound on my arm close up, healing without a trace.
"Hmm. What do you know, it worked," I said, smiling. "Too bad this medical suit Dr. MacTaggert can't heal with me." Then I looked again. "Er... maybe I should have changed before I left," I said to myself. "Where'd we end up?"
"We're in Manhattan," Verney told me, exhaling. "I got us that far, at least."
"Okay, let's see what there is to... see?" I walked out of the alley--and right into a huge, purple boot. "Hooo-boy," I muttered. "I think we might be in a liiiittle too deep on this one."