Deleted Scene #4: Meeting the Parasite

Rowena lowered her scanner and frowned.

"That can't be right," she muttered, waving the device back and forth as if searching for something among the oddly translucent rocks behind them.

"What isn't right?" Darkholme asked impatiently.

Marti craned her neck, trying to catch a glimpse of the screen as Rowena walked by.

"For a moment, I thought..."

She trailed off, biting her lip as she tapped at her keypad.

"No, I wasn't mistaken," she said, turning back to her confused companions. "It was faint, but it was there."

"What was?" Darkholme demanded, his tail lashing with frustration.

"An energy signature, disturbingly similar to that of the anomaly. It seems to be drawing energy in the same way, only it is nowhere near as strong. And," she said, her brown eyes bright with apprehensive curiosity, "the readings are unmistakably human."

Darkholme and Kurt shared a startled look, but before either of them could say anything, Rowena walked through the forcefield, creating an odd rippling effect that marked its previously invisible boundaries. As the three of them watched, Rowena pounced on something hidden behind a nearby rock. There was a startled cry, then Rowena pushed her way back through the forcefield, one hand clamped firmly around the back of a sheepish, yet defiant Twyla Todd's neck.

"What are you doing here, girl?" Darkholme demanded, his tail lashing as he advanced on her.

Twyla cringed under the force of Darkholme's glare.

"I - I just wanted to help," she protested, looking to Kurt, Marta, and Rowena in hopes of gaining at least one supporter.

Rowena tightened her lips angrily, letting go of the girl's collar.

"You may have had noble intentions, but no good can come from this," she snapped.

Twyla straightened, forcing herself not to cringe.

"Your presence here is disruptive. Your powers are unpredictable and your genetic structure is currently in a state of flux – not to mention that the energy you are absorbing is interfering with my readings! You cannot remain in this environment without risking considerable harm."

"Then I'll risk that harm!" Twyla retorted. "I know I can help you if you just give me a chance!"

"We are wasting time with this foolish argument," Darkholme snapped, the glare he had focused on Twyla growing even more deadly. "Whether we like it or not, the girl is here, and talking about it is only going to distract us from our mission."

He turned to Rowena, his tail lashing behind him.

"What were you saying before this child so selfishly interrupted?" he asked.

Twyla bristled, but kept her mouth shut.

Rowena took in a deep breath, her nostrils flaring with frustration, then looked at her scanner.

"I have located the parasite's exact location," she said, her tone all business. "However, due to the interference caused by Miss Todd's presence," Twyla lowered her head, though her eyes were blazing and her expression was tight, "we are going to have to get closer. The readings I am getting now are tainted."

"Closer!" Marta exclaimed, looking to her father, then to Rowena. "But how? We can't leave this air bubble, can we?"

"No," Rowena acknowledged, tapping at her scanner's keypad. "But that is not a problem. Hang on."

"To what?" Kurt muttered, a moment before he was nearly knocked off his feet as the energy bubble around them gave a sudden lurch, then started rising slowly from the craggy, translucent ground.

Marta stumbled, grabbing onto his arm for support and nearly toppling them both into Rowena.

"Mein Gott!" Kurt exclaimed, bending his knees and sticking his tail out in an attempt to regain his shaky balance. He narrowed his eyes at Rowena. "You could have warned us, you know."

Rowena glanced up from her scanner.

"I did," she said.

Marti snickered, wrapping her tail securely around her father's leg as she turned to look around them. The thick, colored clouds parted before them like whipped cream. Marta had to squint as the yellowish light grew brighter the higher their little bubble rose.

After only a few moments, the last clouds parted above them, allowing them their first, unobstructed view of the interdimensional parasite. The five of them gasped as one, a terrible fear clutching at their hearts.

The parasite was horrific to behold. It was shaped something like a giant, distended stomach, but its outer membrane was coated with swirling light, oozing slowly across its surface like thick, yellow mucus. It pulsed and writhed, and it was swelling even as they watched.

Twyla gasped, looking down at her shaking hands, her breathing ragged and panicked.

The dim, reddish glow that had suffused her dark skin was deepening, brightening. As she watched, a swirling, yellow light began to flicker across her fingers – a light that matched the parasite's exactly.

"No..." she whispered, her trembling voice barely audible. "Please, God..."

Twyla cried out, clutching her head as bright pain exploded behind her eyes. Her face grew hot, everything was spinning, and, strangely, her clothes suddenly felt far too heavy. Panting raggedly, she collapsed at the knees, falling into an awkward crouch on the underside of the energy bubble, her hand pressed to her glowing forehead.

"Twyla!" Kurt exclaimed, crouching down beside her. He looked up at Rowena, uncertain whether it was safe to touch her or not. "What is it, Liebling?" he asked the shuddering young girl, his gentle voice sharp with apprehension. "What is wrong?"

"I—I don't know!" Twyla exclaimed, feeling very nauseous. "I—I'm so dizzy...I think...I think I'm going to be sick..."

Marti stared, her tail twitching nervously behind her.

"I think she's going to be more than sick..." she said, then she yelped as a bright flash nearly blinded her. Barely a moment later, the energy bubble that had surrounded them wavered and vanished.

Before her confused mind could fully grasp what had just happened, Marta found herself tumbling helplessly through the dense, acrid atmosphere back toward the thick clouds far below. Somewhere high above, she heard the distant sound of terrified screaming. It took her a moment to realize that those screams were issuing from her own throat.

"Marta!" her father's urgent voice called out from just above her. Marta turned her head to see her father was falling along with her. He stretched out his hand and Marta took it, grasping his fuzzy wrist with a frantic, desperate strength.

"I'm trying to open a portal back to Earth 816," Rowena called out, her long hair flying out behind her as she fell, "but I'm having some difficulty. I think the proximity to the parasite, along with the effects of Twyla's powers, has drained the batteries."

"Then you'd better think up some other way to get us out of here, and quick," Darkholme pointed out. "Look behind you."

Twyla turned her head, and shrieked. The parasite had sent out five long tentacles of thick, swirling light, their energy crackling in the thick atmosphere as they headed straight for them. Marta, Kurt, and Darkholme suddenly felt horribly light-headed as the tentacles began to absorb their life energy, even from that distance.

Just then, there was a muffled FIZZT below them and a small, shaky portal opened in mid-air.

"Gott sei Dank," Kurt gasped, squeezing Marti's wrist even tighter.

"It won't last long," Rowena shouted over the sudden rush of roaring wind, reaching out to grab the arm of Twyla's shirt with one hand and Darkholme's lashing tail with the other. "You are going to have to teleport us through or we'll never make it!"

Kurt and Darkholme nodded, and focused their full attention on the grounds of Xavier's mansion just barely visible beyond the portal. There were two almost simultaneous BAMFs, then the five of them were suddenly tumbling onto the short, cool grass.

The portal snapped shut behind them with a strange, fizzling sound, quite unlike its usual SHAZZP, the wind instantly vanishing, along with the immediate threat.

Marta sat up slowly, looking around with wide, green eyes as she struggled to catch her breath.

"Well," she panted, laughing a little as she looked over at her exhausted father. "Looks like we made it!"

The End

And that's all folks! It's really over now. The End. It's been fun – really fun! Your interest and enthusiasm is what helped me to finish this story! If it wasn't for you, I know I wouldn't have enjoyed writing this nearly as much as I did. I can't thank you enough, I really can't.

With deepest appreciation, this is Rowena Zahnrei bamfing off! :D