In the inhospitable landscape, Amanda ran, clothes torn, body bleeding. She had found no food or drink, and did not know how much longer she could last, or continue running from the beings that hunted her. What was worse, sometimes they would predict where she was going, and the vile creatures would be waiting for her in ambush.
It was exactly this that happened now. Gagging, she pushed a hand forward and they were flung aside by an invisible force, but she collapsed to the ground. The lizard-like creatures jumped on her again, but were repelled by a bubble that she now surrounded herself with.
It had been two weeks, at least. When would they come for her?
She looked up again, and saw a wilderness. A foreboding jungle. Hope for sustenance.
In the common room at the Xavier Institute, Azazel's sons sat around the fire, looking sheepishly at each other while most of the X-men sat or stood variously around the rest of the room. One notable exception was Xavier himself, and another was Hank who'd disappeared off with Forge after a brief discussion with Nightcrawler about two hours previous.
Finally, Kiwi Black broke the silence. "Can anyone tell me where the nearest pub is?"
"I c'n show you, mon ami," replied Gambit from behind the couch.
"Sugah, you're not old enough ta drink," Rogue accused.
"Hey, just 'cause I know where'tis don't mean I go in dere."
Kurt stood up nervously, and then sat down again. "I worry for Margali," he said in a concerned tone. "Every time anyone speaks to her, she talks like it's no bother, but I think she's breaking down inside."
"It's been a few hours," observed Scott.
"For us, maybe," replied Rogue. "It could've been any amount of time for Amanda. Maybe days, maybe years..." She sighed and looked down at the cuts and burns on her arms, where Azazel's hands had been.
"Well, at least I can walk around without fearing that I'll suck everything into my stomach randomly," said Nils, trying to lighten the air a little. "That's a plus in my book."
"Why won't this work?!" shouted Rogue, throwing her arms up in the air. The force she exerted on them split one of the cuts open again, and it began to bleed copiously.
"Healing factor shoulda' dealt with that by now," Logan noted. "Maybe you need a top-up?" he asked, offering the southerner his hand in an unusual demonstration.
"None of it's working at all," she replied. "Ah don't seem to be able to do any of it." She touched his hand by way of demonstration – no absorption or even odd feeling was experienced by Logan. "It's just stopped," she continued.
"Suits me," said Remy.
"Yeah, it would," Rogue growled.
"Hey, you been wanting to be able to touch fo' a long time."
"But it's just– it's not right. It's not me any more."
"Well, let's at least deal with those wounds," Warren offered, and pulling a knife from his belt, cut into his own hand. He let the blood drip onto Rogue's arm, and to everyone's astonishment the cuts closed over and the blisters disappeared.
"The hell?" asked Wolverine as he observed the Cheyaraphim's own cut heal more rapidly than anything he could have managed himself.
Warren shrugged. "Not something I've tried before, but I've known for a while that I heal myself. The ability to heal others was in the documents that appeared on my doorstep a few days back."
"What documents?" asked Kurt.
"Someone dropped what seems to be a complete history of the battle between the Cheyaraphim and Neyaphem," Angel explained. "That's the 'angels' and 'demons.' I mean dropped, too – they cracked the pavement on impact. It seems there's others like me out there, but... I'm not sure if there's too many more like you left. I had hoped it would be useful to Professor Xavier, but I had no idea it was so urgent."
"Well maybe I can find some answer to the questions I have there," Wagner said. "I wish Mystique hadn't disappeared off again."
"She's not exactly one to start playin' happy fam'lies with ev'ra one," observed his foster sister. "Plus Ah reckon certain someones had been dropping none-too-subtle hints that she wasn't welcome to stick around." She glanced at Wolverine.
"Well, this is certainly interesting, Warren," said Xavier from the door, before wheeling into the room, "but very one-sided. I hope our new friend can help us with filling out the rest of the story," he continued, nodding to Jillian who was currently staring out the window in wonderment. One of the major things catching her attention was the rainstorm outside, something she'd never seen before.
"Certainly an interesting character and I'd like to hear what she can tell us," agreed Warren, "just as long as she really has stopped randomly trying to kill me." He looked down at the large tear in his shirt – blood stained the edges, but there was no scarring at all on his skin. "That last time was pretty close – I think she might have actually nicked my aorta."
Presently, Forge stepped in, holding a familiar looking device in one hand. "You ready, Kurt?" he asked.
"Finally," the teleporter replied.
Amanda sat and sighed. The wilderness she'd seen had been some sort of illusion, but an illusion that had somehow dropped food and drink into her reality. Maybe they were trying to taunt her? Well, she'd eaten it anyway.
"Amanda!" a voice cried out from nearby.
"Kurt?" she gasped quietly.
"Kurt! Is that you?!"
The furry blue mutant appeared around a rock formation. He was wearing a sort of electric box on his chest. "Amanda! I found you! Oh, but look at you. What has happened?"
"It's about time you showed up, it's been weeks" was the girls only explanation. For now.
On the other side of a disc-shaped portal, a young blonde Russian girl looked on from a wild forest. ‹Say hello to my brother,› she whispered in her native tongue as they disappeared, and wept a silent tear as she closed the portal.
That's it. No more story for you. I had been intending to leave Amanda out there and maybe have her meet up with Illyana (Piotr's sister for those who don't know) in a later story, but changed my mind.
So you're all asking, given that I introduced a new character in the last paragraph, 'will there be a sequel?' Well the answer to that is very definitely a 'maybe,' but clearly I need to find out a lot more about Illyana, Belasco, and the like first (you might have guessed I actually sought out the "Draco" books for this fic). In the meantime if you don't mind M rated fics, you can check out my AU story "Truly Rogue," which runs parallel to much of the series. I've just completed season one :)
A Big Thank You (with a cherry on top, unless you don't like cherries, in which case shame on you) to everyone who reviewed, you all really helped. Especial thanks to UncannyAsianGirl, who helped me correct some quite major problems with the middle of the story, though you may not realise it.