Logan and I were in Charless office within minutes.
We werent the first ones there. Ethan had arrived
before us, or perhaps had never left after the meeting
wed had to discuss Cassandras future. Cassandra had
joined Charles and Ethan since wed left.
My first thought on seeing her was that we had been
just short of insane to even consider taking Cassandra
on as an X-Man. She looked like an inmate in some
horror movie about an insane asylum. Her clothes were
torn and dirty, her hair all over the place.
Scratches on her face and forearms were fresh and
bleeding. I might have thought shed been attacked
except that she continued to rip her clothing and rake
her nails across her flesh as she sat there, thrashing
about and wailing uncontrollably. Ethan was speaking
to her in a quiet, soothing voice, trying to get her
to stop the self-mutilation, it seemed. It was
apparently a futile gesture. It looked as if
Cassandra didnt even know he was there. She
continued ripping her skin and clothes, and crying and
ranting loudly. Her arms were moving about in
strange, almost mechanical, gestures or tics. I could
make out a few words the kids and save them was
said a few times but her voice was oddly inflected
and the phrases were difficult to understand. And
most of the sounds coming out of her mouth werent
speech and didnt even sound all that human.
Cassandra had a vision, Charles said in my head.
Is this what shes always like during one? I sent
that thought back to him, but he didnt answer, his
attention turned now to Cassandra and Ethan.
Let me, Charles said to Ethan. This has to stop,
he added. Cassandras wailing ceased even as he said
it, stopping abruptly along with the compulsive
scratching and twitching and tearing of clothes.
Cassandra smoothed her rumpled skirt, and sat on the
couch calmly and sedately, her head turned towards
Charles. Aside from the rips in her blouse and the
blood on her face and arms she looked perfectly
normal, a complete contrast to the wild woman shed
appeared to be just a minute ago. If I hadnt seen
other people under mind control I might not have
noticed the characteristic vacant expression in her
Are you okay, Cassandra? Ethan asked, his voice calm
and concerned, taking both of her hands in his,
looking deep into her eyes.
She cant hear you, I interjected. Charles has her
brain. He took a closer look at her, then turned to
Charles, questions on his face. Charles nodded.
Whats the vision? I asked.
Ethan answered me. We dont know. She couldnt calm
down enough to tell us. All Ive managed to get out
of her is that its going to happen soon and there are
children in peril.
Also, that she thinks the X-Men can help, Charles
Are her visions of... possibilities, then, not whats
definitely going to happen? I asked.
No, thats not my impression, Ethan replied. I
think she does see whats going to happen. Thats a
lot of what makes this gift such a difficult one for
her the feeling of powerlessness, the inability to
stop disaster she knows is coming. But this time it
seems its a little different. Whatever shes
envisioning is a scene of people in danger, not dead.
She kept saying Theyll die if you dont do
something but we couldnt get her to tell us more.
He turned to Charles. Can you control her enough to
keep her calm but let her thoughts through, so she can
He shook his head. Im trying, but shes too
panicked. If I let up even a bit, I can feel her
start to spiral out of control.
Can you read her mind while shes under mind control?
Get at the vision that way? Ethan asked.
Charles shook his head. No. Usually I can do that,
but not with her. I cant seem to read her thoughts
well enough to see the vision myself. Her mind is
unusual, unique perhaps. Certainly not like any Ive
ever encountered. I find her hard to read even when
her power is inactive. When shes in the middle of a
vision her brain is totally incomprehensible to me.
He turned towards me, to answer the question Id asked
when I came in. No, Scott, shes not usually like
this. Ive been with Cassandra before when her power
is active. Her affect is always kind of strange
during a vision and she does cry while she talks about
it, but shes been able to tell me what she sees other
times, although Ive always been unable to access the
vision directly with telepathy. I think her panic is
coming from the feeling that this is a situation we
can and must respond to. Other visions shes had
there were no such options. She was upset, but
somewhat resigned to the calamity she foretold. She
wasnt so completely out of control.
So what do we do now? If there is something the
X-Men can do to avert disaster, I added, we should
find out what it is. But how can we find out if she
cant tell us when shes not under your control and
you cant find out for us?
Let her go. Logan spoke for the first time. Ill
Charles complied immediately. I could tell as soon as
he released her mind, because the noise and the
movement started as if it had never stopped. Started,
but not for long.
Cassandra! Logan said, in the commanding tone he
uses with the kids when hes directing them in drills
and exercises. Stand up! She obeyed immediately
and stood at attention facing him. She was still
sobbing, but the wailing and thrashing had ceased.
And the sobbing receded, too, as Logan began doing
breathing and warm up exercises with her. Cassandra
seemed very familiar with them he must have taught
her these when he was training with her. In less than
a minute she appeared back to normal, almost.
Charles and I looked at each other. Whatever your
problem is with him, his brain said to mine, get
over it. We need him. I nodded my agreement.
Logan stood in front of Cassandra, eyes locked on
hers, and said, Whats going to happen?
An accident. A cable car. Its dangling, going to
fall. And theres a fire, too. Somewhere nearby
maybe in the car. Children theyll die if you dont
get them out. Theres not much time.
The wailing began again, but Logan took her by the
shoulders, ordered her to go through the same sequence
of breathing exercises, and she got herself under
control again. Can I try to find out more? I asked
Logan. He gestured his assent, eyes remaining fixed
Cable car? You mean like in San Francisco?
No! she almost yelled it and her head shook
uncontrollably for a minute, but Logan got her back on
track quickly. Not that kind, she said. Hanging
from something high up. Like in Switzerland, for
traveling in the mountains.
Charles had wheeled over to his desk and was doing
something on his computer workstation while we were
talking. He turned on the recessed projector now, and
the picture hed called up on his screen appeared on
the wall opposite the couch. It was an aerial tramway
also called a cable car, as Cassandra had said
traveling up an incline, with alpine scenery in the
background. Is this what you mean? he asked. She
nodded. How long until the accident?
I dont know. Soon. Two hours, maybe.
Where is it?
I dont know. She was beginning to wail again, but
this time all it took was a slight touch of her
shoulder and she started breathing in time with Logan
again, getting herself under control. But its near
here. Its not *in* Switzerland its just that kind
of cable car. The vision is only this vivid if its
close. I dont think its more than twenty miles
Charles shook his head. There arent any cable cars
like that in New York. Well, maybe up in the
Catskills, but not around here.
I stood up. Yes, there are. Definitely less than 20
miles. The Skyfari ride at the Bronx Zoo.
We got there before it happened. We landed the
Blackbird in a clearing among trees on the zoo
grounds. I was glad that its vertical landing
capabilities made that an option, allowing us to enter
the zoo less conspicuously than landing our secret
vehicle in the parking lot. Still, we didnt stay
inconspicuous. Running through the zoo grounds in
uniform, we attracted a certain amount of attention,
not all of it positive. I didnt care. Although Id
been told that Cassandras visions always come true,
part of me thought we could prevent the accident.
And, if not, we still were going to try to prevent or
minimize loss of life. To have a chance of that, we
needed to be on the spot. So my concern was for speed
and efficiency, not blending in.
We wouldnt have blended in very well in uniform,
anyway, but even less so considering the team Id
brought with me. In addition to Logan, Id taken
Storm, Nightcrawler, Beast and Iceman. So, two who
were obviously mutants at first glance and all of us
in uniform. We stood out. We ignored the looks we
got and rushed through the zoo to the Skyfari East
Storm and I had been to the Bronx Zoo just a couple of
weeks before, on a school field trip. The class we
took was Hanks, a biology one, but on that occasion
we had been trying to be inconspicuous, so wed
traveled there by school minivan, and it had been just
her and me. The kids were studying adaptations of
nocturnal animals and wed taken them primarily for
the World of Darkness exhibit. Id quoted Blake to
them: Nature in darkness groans and Jubilee had
complained that they shouldnt have to hear poetry on
a biology field trip.
Wed used the aerial tramway called the Skyfari to
get from one side of the zoo to the other. It was, as
Cassandra had alluded, a cable car a miniature
version of the ones that were used in Switzerland to
travel up and down the Alps. Four people per car, it
rose above the zoo and took passengers from quite near
the World of Darkness exhibit across to the Dancing
Crane Café, where wed given the kids lunch.
When we arrived at the Skyfari station, everything
looked normal except for us. There was a long line
waiting for the tramway and we could see a couple of
the cable cars high in the air. No sign of a fire, an
accident in the sky, or anyone in distress. We ran up
to the station, ignoring the objections of people
patiently waiting in line to board. Well, we all
ignored them except for Logan, who extended his middle
claw as we ran past, when he heard someone loudly
complaining about line cutters. He didnt break his
stride to do it, though.
As soon as we got there, though, it was clear
something was amiss. Passengers board the Skyfari
tram in a small enclosure, with the assistance of
attendants who manage the doors and the line. As we
approached the enclosure we suddenly saw fire. There
were large flames surrounding the cable car on the
landing and boarding platform. We couldnt see where
the fire was coming from, or even what was on fire.
It must have just begun, or just gotten large enough
to cause panic, because the calm line of a minute ago
was transformed. People were screaming. Some were
running away; some seemed frozen in place.
I could barely see the people inside the cable car.
They must have been about to get out. One of the
attendants had been holding the door for them to exit.
She had had the presence of mind to slam the door
before the flames reached the passengers inside. The
cable, which moved continuously, had stopped,
presumably due to some safety feature. We could see
other cars high above the zoo, stopped in mid-air.
The attendants all of whom looked to be in their
late teens were doing their best, but seemed
bordering on panic themselves. They were trying to
get away from the fire as they yelled at the
passengers in line to back off, as well. One of the
kids working there pulled a red emergency phone off
the wall as she backed away from the fire, calling for
Well, we were already there and I didnt know how long
it would take the security people to arrive. Stand
back! I told the attendants, who seemed grateful to
see someone take charge of the situation. I motioned
to Bobby to come forward. Iceman take care of
He gestured towards the flames around the cable car
and it was instantly encased in ice, the flames
disappearing as quickly as they came. Storm! Melt
it, I called. Her pupils disappeared as her eyes
turned white, causing gasps from the crowd. We could
all feel a warm wind, just enough to melt the ice and
open the door to let the passengers out. I figured
once we did that, we could deal with the cars that
were still in the air.
Only it didnt work the way I planned. Storm couldnt
open the door. The ice was gone, but it wouldnt
open. Its stuck, she said. Like its fused
together or something.
Magneto! Hank and I said it at the same time. We
looked around, but wherever he was, he wasnt visible.
Anyway, we needed to deal with the current crisis
before we looked for him. Logan stepped forward to
try to force the door open, but I waved him back.
Opening my visor very slightly, I blasted a fine line
along the edge of the door and then pulled it open.
The passengers tumbled out and I sent Storm as their
escort, to get them out of the enclosure.
Beast and Iceman go look for Magneto. Nightcrawler
and Wolverine I need you to deal with the people
still up there, pointing at the two cable cars
stopped high about the zoo. I was very aware of
Cassandras vision of a cable car dangling and perhaps
falling, but it wasnt what I was seeing. The two
cars were stationary, but they were suspended on the
cable, right where they belonged. Logan and Kurt
followed me out of the enclosure, looking up at the
trams above us.
And then it happened. There was a sudden sound like a
loud snap and then the tram nearer to us was dangling
from the broken cable, swinging in the air, just like
Cassandras vision. The two cars were on a continuous
cable, but some safety feature must have kicked in,
causing the rest of the cable to stay in place and the
farther one to stay upright. I didnt know how long
it would stay that way, though. We needed to get the
people out of both of them.
Nightcrawler! I called and he didnt need any
additional orders. Kurt waited a few seconds, his
head swaying a bit as he tracked the dangling tram,
making sure he could predict the movements of the
swinging car. Then he teleported into it, coming back
with two small boys, dressed identically in Bronx Zoo
t-shirts and cargo shorts. One more teleportation
trip brought their mother, and they ran into her arms.
Kurt was about to return for the last passenger when
the suspended car was suddenly engulfed in flames,
just as the one on the boarding/landing platform had
been. He hesitated for a minute, but went back once
more into the now burning car, returning with the
childrens father. Both the passenger and Kurt seemed
unsinged. Logan looked at something in the distance,
and then ran off before I could say anything. I sent
Kurt to rescue the people still high above the zoo, in
the cable car that hadnt fallen, then looked to see
where Logan had gone.
He was back in a minute, but he wasnt alone. Kicking
and fighting him all the way was one of our former
students, Johnny Allerdyce, also known as Pyro. The
unexplained fire was no longer inexplicable. Shut up
or Ill shut you up! Logan growled, extending his
claws. Pyro shut up. Logan handed me Pyros lighter.
Johnnys power is very specific he can manipulate
fire but not create it. Logan had effectively
Wheres Magneto? I yelled at Pyro and he smirked
back at me.
Doing what we came here for, he answered. He shook
his head. This was just the diversion.
Mofic Website: http://mo.fandomnation.com/fic/
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around