X-Book 1: New Allies New Enemies - Chapter 18 - Within the Flame
Summary: (See Book 1: Prologue)
Disclaimer: I own nothing associated with characters from the Marvel
universe or any previously published work.
It was nightfall by the time the X-Jet flew almost noiselessly over
the Westchester County line. The Professor had wanted their
entrance to be as inconspicuous as possible, so Storm engaged the
jet's silent landing thrusters. The children would be mostly
asleep now, and he did not want to stir them, so that their new
guest was not bombarded with too many curious stares. Mary had
nodded off in the chair behind Storm, and Xavier touched her arm
gently to wake her.
Mary opened her eyes slowly, glancing over at Xavier's smiling
"We're here..." he said, with a quiet pride. Mary looked
to the left out her window, seeing nothing but the trees and the
darkness. The jet made a small dive forward and Mary gripped the
armrests of her seat. She silently wished she had slept through
this part of the flight too.
With a few quick, learned maneuvers, Cyclops and Storm lowered the
jet towards the ground. To Mary's surprise, she noticed they
were very close to the doors of a large mansion, and then dropped
lower, past ground level, into the landing bay. She clenched her
fists again as the jet touched down, and then exhaled with relief.
She reminded herself to get the directions to the train station from
They exited the jet and headed out of the landing bay down a long,
silver hall. It was dimly lit, but brightened as their movements
were picked up by the sensors. They past several closed silver
doors until they reached the elevator.
After they entered, Scott put down one of Mary's suitcases (which
he insisted on helping her with), and pushed the button for the
ground floor. Mary jumped a little as the door closed quickly and
the lift whirred to life.
Once inside the mansion itself, Scott and Storm headed upstairs with
Mary's belongings, but Xavier held the girl back a moment before
she followed them.
"I hope the ride was not too uncomfortable for you," he said
kindly. Mary, still glancing around the dark hallway, shook her
"No, it was ok," she said softly. She was feeling a little
overwhelmed by their quick entrance and walk through the strange
underground passage. She wondered what kind of school would need
those kinds of facilities.
"I'll give you a proper tour and introductions tomorrow,"
Xavier said, "For now, I think we could all use a bit of
"Yeah, sure..." she said, still sounding distant.
Xavier watched her curiously. She was frowning slightly, her
demeanor almost rigid, and was examining everything she could see
Mary then sharpened her gaze on Xavier, "Professor...what exactly
is this place?"
Xavier smiled knowingly. That was not an uncommon question for new
"We are a school for gifted youngsters," he replied, "That is
what really matters. Everything else...well, that's to help the
one's we can't bring here."
Mary stared at the man a moment and then nodded. Fair enough for
now, she would have to wait for tomorrow to learn more about
the `everything else' the Professor talked about.
A sound from behind them caused Xavier to turn around curiously.
From around one corner, Logan appeared, holding a cigar in one
hand. It was unlit now, extinguished as Logan heard the X-jet
Mary stared at the man with surprise. He was not much taller than
her, but was probably three times as broad. That, along with his
strangely windswept hair, made him look very fearsome in the
shadows, though the expression on his face as he drew closer was not
"Logan," Xavier greeted him, "Welcome back..."
"Professor," he said in a gruff, but friendly voice. He gave
Mary only a passing glance, figuring she was one of the `new
faces' Bobby warned him about.
"When did you arrive?" Xavier asked.
"About an hour ago," Logan replied.
find what you were looking for?"
Logan shrugged, "Yes and no...always the same answer. But I do
have some things I want to talk to you about. Papers I found..."
He paused, and looked over at Mary as if he had noticed her for the
first time. Mary shifted uncomfortably as a strange suspicion fell
over his face, and he nodded in her direction.
"She new?" he asked the Professor, who smiled apologetically
at them both.
"Yes," he replied, "Logan, meet Mary Sloane. She'll
be joining us here for some time."
Logan, seemingly satisfied by the Professor's brief introduction,
nodded again. He glanced past Mary's shoulder to the staircase
as Storm and Scott reached the bottom steps. Storm smiled and
greeted him, but Scott's face remained cool and neutral.
"...I also found a video tape," Logan continued after the two
other X-Men joined them, "Haven't been able to watch it
though. It was pretty chewed up..."
"We can run it through the computer," Storm offered, "See
if it can salvage any of the footage..."
"And we'll have Bobby or Rogue scan the documents for
examination," the Professor added thoughtfully.
"Are they all from Colorado?" Scott asked, speaking for the
Logan glanced at him quickly, "Yeah, place looked like it'd
been empty for years..."
Mary was glancing between the others, uncertain of what to do as
they talked. It seemed like some of that `everything else'
the Professor had talked about. She thought maybe she should excuse
herself and head to bed, but she had no idea where that would be.
Xavier sensed the girl's hesitation and smiled apologetically.
"Why don't we continue this in the morning," Xavier said
to the others, "We've all had a rather long day...Storm,
could you show our new guest to her room
Storm nodded and gestured for Mary to follow her.
"Professor," Logan began, "I was really hoping to go over
this right now
"In the morning," Xavier said politely but sternly, "Get
some rest. You have had a long journey as well
Logan ground his teeth, looking dissatisfied by the discussion's
sudden end, but nodded grudgingly. Mary and Storm reached the
landing at the top of the stairs and Mary looked back down towards
the others again.
She frowned, looking between the Professor and Scott, and then Scott
and Logan. There was something there, something existing, almost
hovering within their conversation. Unspoken, a memory, a
what was it?
As she stared at the three men, time for her stopped. Mary stared
down at them, and in the center of their loose circle, something
flickered. Like a spark, a flame...growing in their midst. None of
them see it, even as the flame grows brighter, stronger, they do not
even realize it is there.
From what seemed like a great distance, Mary felt someone touch her
arm. Her eyes moved right, her vision slow and swimming. She could
see Storm's concerned face, asking her if she was alright. The
words were too faint to hear, and Mary felt herself swoon. Her
whole body trembled as the vision took hold
With effort, she turned her head back towards the bottom of the
staircase. The flame had grown, gone beyond the others, alighting
the carpet, the walls, the curtains
Everything was burning as the fire grew, the front room of the
mansion alive with flame, consuming everything it touched
Mary stumbled, and vaguely felt the strong arms that kept her from
The fire grew
but no one saw it until it was too late
She was standing in a forest, the X-Jet behind her
She heard the water before anyone else
She was lifting the jet, it was so light
The damn broke, a tidal wave spilling from the freed lake
Water was roaring towards her, she held up her other hand
The water was heavier, much harder to hold back
She felt her power surge, her body burning with it
Her friends are safe, she let the water take her
There were flames in her eyes
the water cannot touch
Much has changed, she had changed, where is she
Oh, God, it's on fire!...The children!...Get them out!...
A flame rises into the sky, it hovers, it swoops, it's diving
Mary is standing on the road, but she can still see the flames. The
mansion, the school, it's on fire
It's burning, falling
who is this?
what do want with me! why are you showing me this
this is what will be
how? when? who died in that flood?...
this is what will happen
what will happen?...
if you fail
I don't understand! Fail what?...
my Child, they'll need your help
Mary screamed. Her mind was filled with thousands of images, of
what was, of what will be...of right now. The bombardment tore
through her, and she saw everything, she saw everyone, all in one
and then it was gone.
All that was left was one fading voice before she blacked out.
you have a world of work ahead of you
Scott ran up the stairs, reaching the landing just as Mary collapsed
to the floor. Storm cradled the girl's head, keeping it from
being slammed into the floor as waves of violent tremors began to
tear through Mary's body.
"Professor!" Storm shouted, but Xavier's eyes were
he called to the doctor in his mind, We need you
Logan crouched next to Storm and helped them brace Mary's
"What the hell is happening to her?" he asked, and Storm
shook her head.
"I don't know," she replied.
"Looks like she's having a seizure," Scott said quickly.
From below, Xavier tried to focus his mind on the girl, and frowned
in frustration. He could not reach her, it was as if she was not
Suddenly, Mary's eyes opened wide and a scream exploded from her
throat. Then, the tremors stopped and her body went limb.
The three X-Men were breathing heavily from the effort to hold the
girl still, and pounding footsteps rattled through the hall as Henry
appeared on the landing. He knelt and did a quick examination.
"Help me bring her downstairs," he said, taking Mary's
head and upper arms from Storm, and with Scott and Logan, took her
quickly to the medical bay.
Storm walked back down the staircase and stood next to the
Professor, her own hands shaking slightly in fright.
"My God, Charles," she said softly as the elevator door's
hissed shut, "Was that one of her precognitions?"
"I don't know," Xavier replied honestly, concern darkly
clouding his face, "I couldn't reach her. Couldn't touch
her mind at all. Her grandmother warned us that she was prone to
such attacks, but
I've never seen such a seizure come on so
I'm afraid only Mary will be able to tell us what just
Storm nodded and let out a shaky sigh. She hoped Dr. McCoy would be
able to help the girl recover from such a violent attack on the
Xavier tilted his head, listening, and glanced up towards the second
floor. He could sense some of the children stirring anxiously.
Mary's scream must have woken them, and he called out a calming
message, reassuring them that all was safe. Most of the students
had been here when the mansion had been invaded by Stryker's men,
and Xavier made sure to reach each mind to prevent a panic. He
called out again, specifically to Bobby and Rogue, to make sure
everyone who had been wakened found their way back to bed.
As Xavier and Storm made their way silently down to the lower
levels, the Professor pondered on their new guest with perplexed
concern. Why had he not been able to sense her while she was in
that state? He had reached people in much deeper levels of mental
impairment before, so what was different about this child?
He sighed with frustration. He could not think on his own concerns
now. Instead, he would work with his team to somehow find a way to
prevent Mary from suffering such violent, unexpected attacks.
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