Summary: Six years after the Shadow King has been defeated and the Brotherhood scattered, the future remains bleak for mutants and humanity alike. Sentinels and rogue factions of the Brotherhood remain, and Sinister rears his evil head amidst the chaos. Worst of all, the two children who may hold the key to the worlds salvation are in danger. Can even the Master of Magnetism prevail above it all as he leads a new team of mutants into the fray to pursue a forgotten dream? This story centers around Magneto, Gambit and Rogue, though many other X-Men and members of various other X-Teams share their moments in the spotlight.

Continuity: This story takes place six years after The Death of a Dream ends.

Author Note: This story is the second part of what was always meant to be a trilogy. The third installment of this arc will be written beginning sometime next spring, 2003.

Disclaimer: All characters featured in this story belong to Marvel and are used without permission, EXCEPT: Lasher, Irinee', and Jean-Luc II. These characters were created by, and belong to, me. Any similarity to persons living, dead, imagined or otherwise is purely a result of your own paranoid mind :)


The lab was completely quiet, save for the faint hum of machinery in the background.

How misleading, the sounds of silence, thought the scientist as he smiled serenely over his latest work.

The room was dark except for the single tube which lay in the center, glowing a mellow white that almost obscured the occupant within. He had turned off every light on purpose in fact, leaving only the computer screens and indicator switches that were absolutely necessary in order to better view his latest masterpiece.

She wasn't exquisitely lovely, he thought as his eyes traced the contours of her face, though there was certainly something alluring about the curve of her jaw, the jut of her chin. Too pale, perhaps, with her skin that had never seen the sun. It gave her a waxy sort of cast, he thought and then chuckled at the irony of the comparison. She was real enough, and her chest rose and fell with the rhythm of normal breathing, but she had been sculpted from raw material, molded, one might say, into the image that she now presented.

"I always thought it a bit of a waste to see you go in such a passive way, my dear," he spoke to the unconscious body, almost affectionately. "I always thought you destined for better things. But now you serve a higher power with your new life, and a better goal. You will make a lovely pawn."

His faint smile reappeared, and with the closest thing he ever felt to excitement, he pushed the button to open the tube. The hiss that broke the silence was almost startling in its loudness, the lid breaking free and falling aside. Tendrils of white mist lingered about her form for a moment more before dissolving away into nothingness, revealing her bare flesh and shocking her lungs with their first real drawing of air.

Coughing and rasping with her first newborn breath, pale blue eyes flickered, then opened, regarding him with the shock all babies must feel when they are pushed out into the world kicking and screaming. Yes, the comfort of the womb was passed, he thought as he reached down to stroke her pale cheek with one cold finger.

"Welcome to the world, my dear." And then, although it was an expression that would strike fear into the hearts of many, the man known as Nathaniel Essex smiled brightly, most pleased.