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FIC: Past Forward (15/15) PG-13

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  • Jamie Madigan
    Disclaimer, etc., in prologue Epilogue to follow 15 Jean She was thinking about pain and loss, and that was not the right frame of mind for what she was
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 28 10:14 AM
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      Disclaimer, etc., in prologue
      Epilogue to follow


      15
      Jean

      She was thinking about pain and loss, and that was not the right frame of
      mind for what she was facing.

      Sidre sat across from her, eyes closed, trying to focus, and Jean forced
      herself to do the same. She exchanged a glance with Scott, who tried to grin
      at her. It came out more of a weak smile, but she appreciated the effort.
      She knew he was worried about Rogue, as was she. They were trying to change
      the future here, trying to change Fate, maybe.

      She looked at Rogue, who was completely relaxed, flirting with Logan in the
      corner. Well, Jean amended, she looked relaxed. That didn't mean she really
      was. A lot went on inside that girl that she never allowed to show. Jean
      smiled to herself. There were a lot of similarities between herself and
      Rogue, including pure stubbornness.

      They weren't letting Rogue die.

      She looked back at Scott, and he nodded. He'd obviously picked up on her
      thoughts, and she promised herself that she would work to better control her
      mental shields after this was over. For her sake and his, it wouldn't do for
      him to pick up every single thing she thought.

      They were actually in the city of A'Mirion, had snuck in this morning
      without arousing any attention. Sidre had led them to a bakery owned by her
      cousin. In back of the store, there was a large storage building filled with
      baking supplies. It would be just enough room for their purposes, and Sidre
      said they were only minutes away from the castle.

      General Symon's makeshift army was probably on its way toward the city at
      that very moment. Logan and Scott had spent time with the General when he
      was planning the attack. In fact, everyone involved was certain that major
      casualties could be avoided.

      They estimated that half the troops in Maron's army were Gifted, and many of
      them were probably only afraid not to fight for him. The other half of the
      army would be made up of young Barenians who were only fighting for the
      possibility of being given a Gift by Maron. The Barenians in Symon's army
      cooked up a plan to carry their family banners into battle near the head of
      the battle lines. It was hoped that those who didn't really support Maron,
      or didn't want to fight their own family members, would make a hasty retreat
      from the fight.

      Symon knew a number of the soldiers serving Maron were actively supporting
      him by fighting back any signs of rebellion and by recruiting Barenians and
      -- forcibly -- Gifted ones for Maron to steal powers from. Symon was very
      eager to take a crack at those soldiers, and he had been for years. Many of
      those who were joining him felt the same way, Jean knew.

      The ultimate plan, of course, was to take out Maron himself. As soon as the
      soldiers on his side knew he was gone, there would be nothing left to fight
      for either way.

      Jean closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. She didn't know how long
      she'd been sitting, cross-legged, facing Sidre before she felt the other
      woman take her hands. Though her eyes were closed, she could tell the rest
      of the group, except for Scott, was forming a circle enclosing the two
      women, just like Sidre had instructed earlier.

      She could feel the others around them, their minds, searching for a place of
      peace. Some, like Celeste, found it immediately. Others, like Jubilee, took
      a little longer. She could feel Scott, outside the circle, force his own
      mind to clear so he wouldn't interfere. Once Logan, the last holdout, seemed
      to finally relax and give in, the energy humming around them evened out.

      The image of a frame, like a weaving loom, came into Jean's mind.

      She wasn't, by nature, a crafty sort of person, and she wouldn't have had
      the first idea how to weave anything, so it must have come from Sidre. She
      felt tinges of amusement from the other woman, proving her right. You don't
      have to make a rug, just a connection between minds and powers, she told
      herself. Yeah, no problem. Child's play.

      In her mind, she saw the image of the loom morphing into an image of herself
      and Sidre, their hands clasped. Mentally shrugging, she started with Rogue.
      Unsure of what she was doing, she reached out to the girl ... and ended up
      with a thick strand of deep green yarn. In her mind, she separated from Jean
      and became the Weaver. She threaded the yarn carefully between the hands and
      arms of her Jean-self and Sidre. When she sensed approval from Sidre, she
      turned to Celeste next. Rogue's cousin, with the same Gift, was represented
      by a strand of jade green. It was threaded across the human loom,
      intertwined with Rogue's thread.

      The Weaver took threads from Alyn and Risa, a royal purple and blue; from
      Jubilee, not surprisingly, a bold golden strand; from Logan, a deep, dark
      red. The Weaver found she had enough power to even separate a flame
      red-orange strand from her Jean-self. She felt the objection from Sidre but
      added the strand to the twisted tangle of threads anyway.

      It wasn't pretty, and it didn't look like any kind of rug or wall-hanging,
      but it was strong. She felt Sidre tugging slightly at the threads, but they
      were secure. For the time being, all those in the group would share their
      Gifts with one another.

      The Weaver had done her job well.


      Rogue

      *It's time.*

      The voice, Jean's voice, spoke in her mind, and Rogue opened her eyes. They
      still sat in a circle, holding hands, and everyone else was blinking and
      shaking their heads. Rogue let go of Logan's and Celeste's hands and stood
      up. She wobbled a little, but she felt different. Strong. She glanced at
      Alyn and Risa. She had their strength. Jubilee's power, too. Logan's
      healing. And Jean's power as well. That hadn't really been part of the plan,
      but it couldn't hurt, she supposed.

      Scott came up and grasped her arm. "You OK?"

      "I'm fine," she said. "Do you think they're all right?" She looked at Jean
      and Sidre, sitting completely still, hands clasped, eyes closed.

      "They'll be fine for now," he decided. "At least I can make myself useful by
      guarding them until they come out of it."

      She knew he was upset that he couldn't help out in the battle against Maron,
      but in the absence of visors for everyone, his Gift couldn't be shared with
      the whole group. Rogue looked around the room. Jubilee was holding Alyn up
      with one hand, and he was laughing at her. Celeste was trying out the
      telekinesis, floating a large bag of flour in the air.

      Luckily, along with the Gifts seemed to come the knowledge of how to use
      them. Rogue wasn't thrilled about the idea of accidentally grilling someone
      on their side with Jubilee's powers.

      Now, Maron was another story. She would enjoy frying his ass very much.

      ***

      It took only a few minutes to get to the castle from the bakery. They'd
      pushed through the crowded streets, and nobody had given them a second look.
      Though the sun was out in full force, it was still cold enough that many
      people were covered in cloaks, and their group blended right in with the
      crowd.

      Because they'd all received, in varying degrees, enhanced senses from Logan,
      they heard the faint sounds of battle long before anyone in the city knew
      anything was going on. Rogue saw a group of young children running, laughing
      through the street and prayed fervently that the battle would be over, and
      Maron dead, before any of the people realized what had happened.

      The castle itself was so large that it couldn't really be seen from their
      location, but Celeste led them along a wall until she came to a small wooden
      door. A flick of Logan's claws got rid of the lock, and their party
      disappeared inside the castle a moment later.

      Sidre had drawn them a map of the castle with the most up-to-date
      information she had. According to the most recent reports, Maron held open
      court in the mornings but dined alone at lunch in his room. They had decided
      that their best chance was to fight him then. His personal rooms were on the
      top floor of the castle, several stories up. The only other thing on that
      floor was a wing for his personal bodyguards, the King's Guard.

      The group raced up several flights of stairs and through the door at the
      top. They hit a dead end and a hallway running left and right, just like
      Sidre's map. Rogue, Celeste and Logan headed right, the others went left
      toward the King's Guard wing.

      Risa, Alyn and Jubilee had a job of their own to complete. Maron reportedly
      had ten personal Barenian bodyguards who served him in exchange for the
      promise of being given Gifts. Past bodyguards had become *donte*, and it was
      always possible that some or all of these men had become that. Or worse. It
      would be dangerous, but Rogue thought her friends had the edge in a fight.

      King Deven Maron had, of course, more than one personal room in the castle.
      A study or office, a bedroom, a second bedroom for his mistress of the
      moment, a bath, a sitting room, and a personal dining room.

      On the fringes of Maron's personal wing was a small room. According to the
      map, it was the secondary kitchen where the king's personal meals were
      prepared. Sure enough, a male cook and a female maid were in the small
      kitchen, flirting with each other, when Celeste, Logan and Rogue barged in.
      Celeste had the two knocked out and tied up before Logan even let Rogue all
      the way in the room.

      Grumpily, she pushed him to the side and admired Celeste's handiwork. "Nice,
      cousin," she said. "You two wait here. Give Uncle D and me a few minutes
      before you bust up our party, OK?"

      "Marie ..." Logan started, then sighed. "Watch your back."

      She gave him a quick kiss, then slid out the door. Three doors down was
      Maron's dining room. Rogue took a deep breath, then pushed the door open.
      Closing it behind her, she stepped fully into the room. It was sparsely
      decorated, with stone walls and a nice ruby and black patterned rug over
      most of the stone floor. The table and chairs sat in the center of the room,
      with a larger stuffed chair and heavy wooden cabinet at one end by a
      fireplace. At the other end of the room, a set of stained glass double-doors
      led to what Rogue assumed was a balcony.

      A man sat at the table alone. He looked young, younger than she would've
      thought he'd be, but his hair was iron gray all the way through. He was a
      little overweight, maybe, just slightly rounded around the edges. She knew
      it was a mistake to judge someone on a first impression, but he appeared
      fairly harmless, and she wondered if this was really Deven Maron. She
      suddenly realized that she stupidly had no idea what the man looked like.

      His eyes flew to her and he pushed himself half out of his chair, resting
      his hands on the table. "Emmarie," he said softly, his voice pleasant. "I
      have been expecting you for some time now, but I only had the cook
      prepare--"

      She'd stopped really listening when she knew, somehow, what was going to
      happen next. The enhanced sight she'd picked up from Logan zeroed in on the
      flash of a knife as it appeared in Maron's hand. She faced him with a bored
      expression and waited. The second he threw the knife, she waved her hand
      half-heartedly, and the blade flew into a wall instead.

      "Really, now," she said, smirking. "Is that any way to greet your long-lost
      niece?"

      ***

      Jubilee, Alyn and Risa easily dispensed with the five personal bodyguards
      they were able to find. After stashing the soldiers, knocked out and tied
      up, in a closet, they searched each room in the wing without finding another
      person.

      "Let's head back," Jubilee said. "I have a weird feeling."

      "What's wrong?" Alyn asked anxiously. Jubilee smiled a little. The fierce
      warrior she'd seen in the last few minutes was unfamiliar to her, but this
      Alyn she knew well. He was smack dab in the middle of an adventure and not
      necessarily thrilled about it.

      "I just feel jittery or something," she said. "I don't know why, but --"

      "Alyn! Watch out!"

      Jubilee saw, almost in slow motion, a knife come out of nowhere and bury
      itself in Alyn's stomach. In her shock, it never occurred to her to use her
      borrowed powers to stop the blade. Alyn dropped to his knees in shock before
      falling to the ground.

      Risa threw out her hand even as she yelled a warning and, using telekinesis,
      pinned the assailant to a wall. It was a *donte*. The creature snarled at
      them but couldn't move.

      "Poison," Jubilee gasped, yanking the blade out of Alyn with a wince. The
      wound closed up almost immediately due to Logan's healing power, but she
      could see through the tear in his clothing that an odd purpley green color
      tinged the skin around the cut. Alyn was dead pale and sweating.

      "It was poison!" Jubilee said, panicking. "It doesn't look like the healing
      power is taking care of it."

      ***

      Deven Maron stood tall now and came around the table. "I rule Sandoriel,
      little girl," he smiled cruelly at Rogue. "No one gets in my way. I killed
      your father, I killed your mother, and even your bratty little brother.
      Though I sent someone to kill you, I am rather glad I get to take care of it
      myself."

      "Charming," she muttered. Raising a hand, she started to send a plasma blast
      his way when she felt an invisible force pick her up and throw her against a
      stone wall. Her head slammed into the stone before she fell to the floor,
      and her teeth snapped together, catching her tongue and nearly biting it
      off. She rolled to her feet and spat blood even as she felt her tongue and
      head heal.

      Maron, lighter on his feet than she'd expected, dodged to one side as she
      aimed a plasma blast at him. The blast took out a nice flowered
      wall-hanging instead. Rogue belated hollered mentally at Logan and Celeste
      that now might not be a bad time to pay a visit.

      ***

      Logan and Celeste were halfway down the hall when five men, dressed in blood
      red uniforms and brandishing swords blocked their path.

      "I'll take the three on the left if you can handle the other two," Logan
      said.

      "I will take three," Celeste answered. "You take two."

      "Greedy," he said mildly. "Let's each take two, and whoever finishes first
      gets the last one."

      "Acceptable."

      ***

      Perhaps, Rogue considered, a good old-fashioned, strength-enhanced ass
      kicking might be just what was called for in this case. She spotted Maron
      ducking behind the large chair near the fireplace and headed toward him,
      dropping to the floor to dodge a blast of flame. Great. He was going all
      Pyro on her now.

      She crawled toward his general location, gasping when she felt him mentally
      try to pick her up again. This time she pushed back in her mind, startling
      him enough that she was able to use the borrowed telekinesis to topple the
      wooden standing cabinet on the area where she thought he was hiding.

      She heard a slight moan from that direction and got to her feet, carefully
      picking her way around the debris. Maron lay on his back, looking up at her.
      She was trying to decide what she should do next when he just disappeared.
      In the blink of an eye, he was gone.

      "Wha--"

      He was standing on the opposite side of the room by the door, smirking at
      her, apparently unhurt. She started toward him and found she couldn't move
      at all.

      "You stupid girl," he said. "I knew you were coming."

      She tried to move her legs or arms, tried to wiggle her nose. Nothing moved.

      ***

      Scott paced nervously around the storage room. He wasn't necessarily
      expecting an attack from any quarter, but he had a lot of nervous energy
      ready to lash out at something. Anything.

      He was worried about the team, especially Rogue, and he preferred being in
      the thick of the action to all this waiting and pacing.

      Suddenly Jean and Sidre gasped in unison. He dropped into a crouch, peering
      into their faces. As far as he could tell, they were still working to keep
      everything together. Both women, he noticed now, were sweating, and Jean
      looked particularly pale.

      He tapped his fingertips together, thinking. Should he try to wake them? The
      team in the castle needed their help, but he wasn't about to let anything
      happen to Jean. He'd been worried when he realized that Rogue's plan would
      rely so much on Jean's power, but she hadn't seemed concerned at all about
      it. Obviously, it was taking more of a toll on her than she'd let on.

      Suddenly, he heard her inside his mind. She sounded afraid. *We're losing
      it.*

      ***

      The poisoned knife flew off the floor where Jubilee had tossed it and into
      Risa's hand. Still pinning the *donte* to the wall, she threw the knife
      directly at its heart. Or where Jubilee assumed it would be if it still had
      one.

      Jubilee had Alyn's head in her lap, and she was running one hand over his
      clammy forehead. "Risa," she said, suddenly realizing that she was crying,
      "I think he's dying. What do we do?"

      Once she was certain the *donte* was dead from its own poison, Risa ran over
      and dropped to her knees beside her brother. She tugged a small blue bottle
      out of her tunic. Uncapping it, she motioned for Jubilee to hold Alyn still.

      "You must drink this, brother," she said calmly. "Sidre gave it to me after
      she had the Dream. In case I was attacked by a *donte*. It should take away
      the poison."

      Jubilee held his head still, and Risa poured the liquid down his throat. The
      two young women held onto him and waited.

      ***

      Maron was in full Evil Bad Guy Lecture form.

      "You come here, unarmed, with a handful of weak Gifts, and you expect to
      beat *me*?"

      Rogue wondered where Logan and Celeste were.

      "You are just as weak as your father was. He never deserved to rule,
      anyway."

      This was getting boring. Rogue tuned him out and tried to gather her
      strength. She didn't know if the TK would work, but she had to try
      something. Experimentally, she pushed against the force that was holding her
      still. It pushed back, hard, and for a moment she couldn't breathe.

      The door burst open, and Logan and Celeste rushed into the room. The *snikt*
      of Logan releasing his claws seemed to echo against the stone walls. In his
      surprise, Maron let his grip on Rogue slip enough for her to break free.

      Logan lunged at Maron, who pulled his disappearing act, reappearing a few
      feet away as Logan stumbled into a wall instead.

      ***

      Jean and Sidre gasped again, and this time their eyes snapped open and their
      hands slipped apart. Scott dropped to the floor beside them again, one hand
      on each woman's shoulder.

      "We lost it," Jean said weakly, then fainted.

      ***

      Celeste glared at Maron and raised a hand, obviously about to blast him.
      Nothing happened. Rogue figured her cousin had been frozen in place like she
      had, but a second later she felt it. The link between them all had been
      broken; their powers could no longer be shared.

      Celeste took her turn rushing at the older man, who dodged her punch and
      sent a band of flames back at her. Celeste yelped as her sleeve caught fire,
      and she stopped, dropped and rolled just like they taught in school. Still,
      Rogue could smell the burnt flesh, and she yelled at Logan to help heal her
      cousin.

      Maron was still ignoring Rogue and lifted his hand, probably to send more
      fire at Celeste and Logan. Rogue kicked his legs out from under him and
      clamped her hand on his bare arm. Half a second later, she allowed her power
      to start drawing from Maron, who wasn't prepared enough to block her
      assault.

      She was immediately disgusted by what she found inside his mind. He was a
      horrible, evil person, and the thoughts and images she saw made her want to
      throw up. Sidre either didn't know or hadn't told how many people he had
      killed or how it made him feel. He enjoyed it. He envisioned himself as a
      god to those with no Gifts. By exterminating all those who had Gifts, he
      made himself all the more powerful.

      She yanked her hand away in disgust and stood up. Maron rolled unsteadily to
      his feet and brought up his hand again. Before he could blast her with fire
      or anything else, Rogue lashed out with her foot, kicking him square in the
      chest. Maron stumbled backward, crashing through the glass double doors.

      She followed at a run and feigned a punch. When he lunged away, she kicked
      him again, this time higher, under the chin. He tumbled back again and, to
      her shock, over the stone balcony. She rushed to the edge of the balcony,
      spotting his still body on the ground below.

      Logan came up beside her and looked down. "Guess he never learned to fly,"
      he commented.

      Celeste leaned over the railing on Rogue's other side. "Too bad," she said.


      Jamie

      ~#~

      "When I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool or
      witty ... or at all. I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I
      have to go away."
      ~~ Willow, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
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