Author's Note: here it is, the last chapter to my remarkably run-of-the-mill X-Adventure. I'd like to thank everyone who made it here all the way, it really means a lot. So without further ado, here is the last chapter to Astonishing X-Men: "Black"
Chapter 10: "White"
"We should help them." A female student suggested, straining to get heard over the crowded Danger Room. "We've all got superpowers, we can't just coop ourselves in the 'Panic Room' here whenever something bad happens!" she argued. A male, winged student contested, pointing out to her that they wouldn't have a chance. It was only seconds later that the whole student body began arguing amongst themselves, making for a very poor environment.
"We need to get out of here." Mindee telepathically communicated to Mark, who still looked very much concerned for the welfare of his best friend. "Why? What happened?" he asked, keeping theirconversation mentally.
"We found Derrick."
"Where is he? Is he okay?"
"He's upstairs, exiting the X-Lab. We think he just coerced Miss Frost into killing the X-Men…"
"Emma…" Scott took a step toward his lover, who looked at him with an expression of puzzlement. Like a child who did not know what to do. "…Scott?" she titled her head, cautious of the man who was approaching her. Scott could already feel the energy emanate from Emma, so much more than he knew she actually had. Possibly had. "Yes, it's me. Listen to me… you need to calm down." he took another step forward, raising his mental shields just as years of tutelage under Professor Xavier have earned him. The rest of the X-Men stood at the ready, their eyes fixed on the threat of a first order telepath who could kill them all just by thinking hard enough. "I can hear it. Hear everything…" she whispered, pressing her palms against the air as if she was examining an invisible wall. "Thoughts…emotions…my God…I can't…control…" Emma shook her head, falling on her knees. "Emma, you can do this." Scott immediately got on his knees, gently holding his lover by her arms. The strain on his kind just by being close to her was almost unbearable. "It got to the others…it got to Rachel, and Kitty…but they got caught off guard. Not like you….not you. You can fight this thing. You can keep it from-" Scott stopped as Emma raised her head, revealing a pair of glassy, soulless eyes.
"…You don't trust me?" she asked, her body trembling.
"I can hear you. I can hear all of you! There's poison swirling in your heads!"
"Emma, whatever it is you're hearing, it's not real!"
"Like vermin, rats scrambling, covered in filth!"
"Emma, fight it!"
"Quiet!" Without warning, Emma transformed into organic diamond, and violently back fisted Scott. He didn't even have enough time to scream in pain as he found himself flying back across the lawn. "Scott!" Kitty turned and made his way to the team leader's body as he hit the ground.
"All of you…" Emma got to her feet, her voice shaking. "Stop…stop…why do you do this to me?" she asked, shaking her head. "I've fought alongside you…isn't that enough? I've put my life on the line for your cause! My life! Countless times! Why doesn't anyone believe me?"
"…" Kitty bit her lower lip as she held on to Scott's unconscious body, realizing that Emma's deluded accusations, at least for her, were ringing true. It was the first time she saw Emma lose herself. Succumb to her insecurities, her despair, her emotions. Her humanity. It made Kitty's decision all the more difficult. 'Sorry Scott…" Kitty took a deep breath, and shouted at the top of her lungs. "X-Men! Take her down!"
With a loud gasp, Derrick stumbled to the ground as he found himself back in the headmaster's office, with the bookshelf leading to the X-Labs closing behind him. Everything was a blur. His head was ringing, and his body trembled, while a small stream of blood trickled down his nose. It was the result of the severe, psychic bolt that he had just unleashed, something that he didn't know he was capable of. "…" Swallowing as much air as he could, he forced himself back to his feet, trying the best he could to ignore the pain that stabbed at his entire being. "Concentrate, concentrate…" he mumbled to himself, as the world kept on spinning around him. "Just…don't…heave…" he urged himself, as he grabbed on to the main desk. It was enough to support him, though he still couldn't find enough strength to stop his legs from shaking. "Think…think…what happened…why the hell am I…" Derrick bit his lower lip."…God…what did I just do?" As certain as fate found humor in misery, a steady stream of memories began to flow back to him, and all he could think of was how much horror he had just unleashed on the world. "Oh God." As the shock settled, he lost grip off the office desk, and found himself falling back. And for the first time in his life, he didn't care that no one was there to catch him.
Colossus was the first one to follow Kitty's call, as he charged towards the diamond woman who stood still on the empty doorway. He knew that Emma normally didn't have the ability to concentrate on her telepathy while assuming her diamond form at the same time. He knew he was stronger than her. He thought that hitting her hard and fast would be the quickest way to end the threat. He didn't know how wrong he was. Emma narrowed her colorless eyes, and with just a wave of her hand, the world for Colossus burned to white. "Peter?" Kitty's voice was grave with concern as she watched the man she loved hold onto his face, and begin to scream. She didn't see what he saw. A surgical bed. A hundred and one devices of torture. "Oh God…Hank, Logan, go feral!" she instructed, as the two mutants charged at Emma from both sides. Not that they needed her to tell them. In an instant, both Logan and Henry turned their humanity off, switching to their primal, instinctive selves. Just like they did when they fought over what to do with the sample of Ord's 'cure'. They must have forgotten who stopped them.
Logan was the first of the two of them to attack, swinging back his arm, ready to strike Emma down, when he felt something pierce itself against his claws. "…?" he quickly shot his gaze behind him. "Oh my God…" Logan's heart stopped as he found a beautiful, red-haired woman, dressed in old, western clothing, impaled on his clenched fist. "…James?" her eyes watered as the blood began to flow down her light green dress. "Rose?"
Just as Emma finished casting Logan's mental torture, she turned to her right, and found the Beast in mid-air, both his arms stretched over his head. "Oh…" With a loud crack, Henry slammed both his arms over her head, with enough force to tear stone asunder. Stone, not diamond. The impact forced Emma back to her knees, nothing more. And the fact that she was immune to pain gave the blue-furred mutant much more to worry about. But Henry didn't stop there. He gave her an uppercut as he landed, finally getting her off her feet, and then punched her hard in the stomach, sending her flying into the middle of the main lobby. Henry then soldiered on, knowing full well that a second's relent could be enough to give Emma the upper hand. He took two seconds. With a look of agitation, Emma got back up and grabbed Henry by his neck, stopping him in his tracks. "How small of you." She snarled as she effortlessly threw him across the building's main lobby, sending him crashing up the wooden staircase and into the second floor.
"…Just like the world…"
Headmaster's Office/–at the same time-
"Derrick!" Mark grabbed onto his best friend's shoulders, catching him before he could crack his skull against the floorboards. The Stepford Cuckoos followed him into the room, since it was their direction after all, that led Mark to where they currently were. "…" they all stopped by the doorway, cautious of the new telepathic signature that Derrick possessed. "Mark? He called weakly, turning his head, in hopes, in a wish, to find someone who would take care of him in that dark time. "…Mark?" Derrick suddenly felt Mark's hands on his collar. "You…" With a sudden rush of energy, he forcefully slammed Derrick on top of the desk, causing Scott and Emma's personal effects clattering to the ground.
"Mark!" the three sisters called. One of the very first things Emma ever taught her prize girls was how to conceal their emotions in order to always remain a step ahead. This was not a day in which the lesson was in effect,
"Is it you? Did you do this?" he interrogated, shaking Derrick by the shirt with each question; accusations that Derrick valiantly denied.
"Let him go!" Mindee screamed, running up to him, and pulling at his arm. "Tell me! Do you know what's happening downstairs? Miss Frost is trying to kill the X-Men!"
"Mindee, get back here, we need to concentrate together to get him off Derrick!" Celeste yelled, a plea that Mindee ignored thanks to her emotions.
"Mindee!" the two sisters called again, just as she managed to pull an arm off of Derrick's collar. "Mark, stop! Please!" Derrick pleaded.
"What are you doing?" she shrieked at him, as Mark resumed keeping both his hands firmly, and uncomfortably, by Derrick's neck. "You told me! He forced Miss Frost didn't he? Just like he forced Miss Summers! He's the bad guy! He lied to all of us!"
"Get off of him!"
"He betrayed our trust!"
"He's your best friend!"
"Scott, Scott wake up…she can't use her mind tricks on you. You know how to fight her." Kitty urged, trying to shake Scott back into consciousness. "Come on…use that psychic rapport of yours, bring her back…!" Kitty gritted her teeth as she turned her attention back to Emma, who was still in the main lobby, but clearly headed her way. "Oh no…"
"Kitty!" Henry yelled as he pounced on Emma from behind, forcing her face-first to the ground. "Get to the Stepford girls! We need telepaths!" he yelled, clearly out of his feral form.
"She'll kill them!" Kitty protested, gasping in shock as she watched Emma crack the Beast's ribs with a swift blow from her elbow. The blue-furred mutant howled in pain, but kept his weight on her back. "Let them use Cerebra!" he shouted, right before Emma crashed the back of her diamond head on his nose.
"Hank!" Kitty got to her feet, while Emma turned on her back, and forcefully booted Henry off of her. The beast bent back and landed on his front paws, using them to regain balance as his hind legs landed.
"I thought you were my friend!" Emma growled, raising her hands in a battling position. "But you're just like everyone else! Scheming takers the bloody lot of you!"
"Emma, I find you adorable. That's why it will hurt me to pummel you to submission." Henry retorted, thought clearly out of breath, as he began to let his feral state take over once again. The animal. "The insect." Emma thought, as she recalled what it was Henry feared the most.
"…Damn it…" Kitty turned her gaze to Logan, who was leaning beside the open doorway, begging forgiveness to an invisible someone. He was in tears. Her eyes then shot to Peter, who was on his knees, an expression of resignation, of pure misery on his steel face. "…Okay…get the Stepford girls…" Kitty began to concentrate, deciding it better to phase to her destination, rather than risk getting Emma's unwanted attention. "Stop this madne-" before Kitty could finish her thought, a hand suddenly grabbed her ankle. "Scott?" she turned to look down at the man by her feet, only to find the whole world around her change. A place with people, mutants to be exact, scrambling to safety, as skyscrapers as tall as you can look up gave way to a massive, mechanical abomination. A wild sentinel. "Kitty…" the middle-aged man holding to her ankle called, his face a mixture of joy and misery. A face she recognized, and missed dearly. "…daddy?"
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"…Mark…" Derrick fought back the tears as his eyes locked onto his best friend's. "Let him go." Mindee said again, seeing the fact that he no longer shook and shouted at Derrick being a large improvement of the situation.
"But…I remember…I didn't go to Massachusetts, it's closed…I went to Don Bosco…I…why did you say that I went to Massachusetts with you? Why did you force me to believe it?" Mark asked, the pain of betrayal clearly slithering its way in his voice.
"…He didn't mean to!" Celeste and Phoebe responded.
"…What?' Mark turned and fixed his stare on the two sisters.
"He didn't mean for any of this." Mindee added.
"…" Derrick closed his eyes, unable to stop a tear from streaking down his cheek. Mark returned his attention to his best friend, his mind trying desperately to remain angry. "He has the power to change memories…to take control of people's minds…he could burn my hands off if he wanted to…so…why doesn't he stop me?" Mark then asked himself, with a voice that could only be described as one that came from his heart. "Oh God…Derr?" Mark quickly let go off Derrick's collar and took a step back, the horror of what he had just become evident in his wide eyes. His best friend gasped for air as he slid to the floor until he reached a sitting position, using the side of the desk to lean his back on. Celeste and Phoebe rushed to Derrick's side, while Mindee kept her arms around Mark's. "…What's happening?" Mark asked, with a look of utter defeat strewn in his eyes. "I…"
"It's all my fault." Derrick declared, just as he got back enough breath to talk again. "I did all of this…"
"I'm so sorry…" he shook his head as he apologized, covering his face with his hands. "…" Mark gently pulled away from Mindee, and silently made his way to his best friend. Derrick stopped and stared at Mark, who knelt in front of him. "…What did you do?"
"Derrick, please tell me…what did you do?"
"…I remembered everything."
"What? Remembered what?"
"Who I really am."
With a cold smile, Emma watched Henry stumble to the floor, trying to get back on all fours, only to falter and fall. All he knew, his brilliance in genetic theorem and his passion for the arts, started to slip away from him, while he watched his feline body slowly begin to devolve. To lose touch of his humanity, his worst fear of all. "Emma!" interrupted a male voice, coming from front lawn. She turned just in time to find a red, flash of hard light to greet her. The sound of earth shattering tore through the mansion, as the force of the concentrated optic blast propelled Emma through the far wall, and into the empty living room. "…" Scott took his finger off of the edge of his visor and ran into the mansion, resolute not to let Emma take him out like she did the rest of the team. "Scott…" he stopped in his tracks as the dust settled, finding Emma back on her feet, emerging from the hole that she was blasted through.
"…I'm sorry." He muttered under his breath, as he pushed the button on the edge of his visor once again, shooting another short burst. "…" Emma charged forward, ducking beneath Scott's beam, and then sprinting towards him in one swift motion. Scott adjusted his aim, when Emma suddenly extended her hand and released a psychic bolt that nearly broke through every mental shield Scott had, sending him staggering back with a grimace. Fortunately enough, he managed to regain composure just as Emma made a swing at him, prompting him to raise both his arms to block her blow. "…!" She was strong. Much stronger than she normally was. He didn't know how, he didn't know why, all he knew was that she had enough strength in her to knock him out with one quick blow. Must be why he felt like the bones in both his arms were torn in pieces. Not that something like broken bones was enough to stop him.
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"Who you really are?" Mark turned to the sisters who now stood behind him, their eyes glowing with energy. "We see you now. Everything's different."
"…I…I wasn't…I came from a place called Nova Roma." He started, clearing his throat soon after.
"That was where you were born…to a woman named Selene." Continued the sisters as they probed Derrick's mind, unraveling his past like a ball of thread.
"Selene?" Mark turned his attention back to Derrick.
"…Selene Gallio... she was the Black Queen. The worst one."
"…the Black…so what? You're a super villain's kid? That you're big secret?" Mark placed his hands on his best friend's shoulders. "Well guess what, you're not the only kid out here who's running away from psycho parents! Who cares if you're mom led her life trying to kill people; it doesn't mean you need to follow in her footsteps!" Mark argued, this time no longer out of his misdirected anger. Derrick shook his head.
"…I can't help it." He responded, finally letting his tears pour down his face.
"You have so much power. You can't control it." Mindee interrupted, once again breaking away from the uni-mind. "The mental block…you put it on yourself."
"…And the teachers going insane was a side-effect of your power trying to break loose." Added Celeste. Mark bit his lower lip, turning again to the sisters.
"That doesn't make sense! If Derrick couldn't control his powers then why just the teachers? Why didn't we all start going crazy?"
"I was programmed this way…" Derrick answered.
"Programmed? What the hell are you-"
"…My mother…she raised me…raised me to kill the X-Men. I couldn't stand it so I ran away...I wanted to forget so badly that…that I forced myself to forget…"
"…The side-effect. It was your subconscious acting out what it was trained to do." Celeste surmised.
"…" Mark shook his head. "Then you can still stop this! You can, downstairs, stop them from killing each other…" There was a glimmer of hope renewed in Mark's eyes. Hope that Derrick couldn't bear to extinguish.
"I'm sorry…I can't."
Emma took another swing, but Scott quickly leaned back to avoid her fist from shattering his skull. He knew that she was acting out of passion, out of whatever emotions an invisible entity is force feeding her. It made her go for the hurt, instead of the kill. Made her want to beat and humiliate them into bloody submission rather than force aneurysms in their brains and kill them all in an instant. Her psychic emissions broke through each mental shield he managed to conjure, keeping him concentrating not only on the avoiding Emma's fists, but keeping her out of his mind as well. Emma swung again this time with Scott ducking beneath it by getting on one knee. "…!" He then immediately pressed the button for his ruby quartz to lift open, sending a wide, powerful blast up her stomach, strong enough to hurl her upward, through the ceiling and into the attic. Scott took a deep breath as he got on all fours, regaining his strength in that single moment's respite. He didn't mind the blood that dripped from his nose, the effect of the strain that Emma forced on his mind. He knew full well that the only reason Emma couldn't use her mental powers to their full extent on him was because of their psychic rapport, a connection that, much like Emma's powers, multiplied tenfold. A connection that made him see what she was planning to do, and gave him half a second's time to create a shield to counter it. "…I really thought you loved me…" came a woman's voice, directly into his head. "Emma?"
"I see now…why I can't reach your mind…"
"…" Scott felt her presence floating in his mind, like a predator waiting for a moment of weakness to strike. "It's already under someone else's control." The voice concluded, with a tone that sounded too much like it was from a woman who had realized the man she loved didn't love her back. Love was irrational after all. Makes sense that a crazy person could still feel it even if she'd forget everything else. "You sick…sick liar…how dare you play with me like this?" her voice thundered in his head, so much that he felt his mind strain against it. "I loved you!" With a cry that could have shook the foundations of the building, Scott watched as the ceiling above cracked wide open, with Emma rocketed towards him in full force, a stream of diamond tears trailing from her eyes. "I loved you!"
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"What do you mean you can't? You've got the power, use it!" Mark argued, keeping his hands firmly on Derrick's shoulders.
"I can't…it's…I'm a weapon. She made it so that as long as I have brainwaves, my power would work…I can't stop it…"
"Then…then do it again! Block your memories, block your powers, we can start from scratch!"
"I can't! I'm not strong enough anymore!"
"Oh no…" The Stepfords' eyes lit up as they felt Emma's thoughts reach their mind.
"What now?" Mark asked.
"It's Miss Frost…" the three sisters responded. "…she won't be stopping with the X-Men."
"…What's she planning to do?"
"She thinks she wants to end the world."
"It's a thing with her."
"…She can do that?"
"Not alone. But with Cerebra…"
"Oh God." Mark turned to Derrick, and the second he realized he couldn't find the answer with his best friend, he turned his gaze to the sisters once more. "…Mindee, you three…you can stop her." He then suggested.
"We can't. She's too strong."
"Then… can't you at least stall her?"
"She taught us everything we know, Mark, what can we possibly throw at her?" Phoebe shot back.
"I don't know! Something! For Christ's sake, she'll kill us all!"
"Then why don't you do something?" Celeste snapped.
"He'll kill her!" Mindee protested, knowing full well just what Mark's mutant power was.
"Well, it's her or us!" Phoebe objected.
"Too many people have died here already!" Mark protested.
"And what the hell do you think will happen if we let her kill us all? We live happily ever after?" Phoebe shouted back.
"Stop…" Derrick muttered, while Mark got on his feet and argued further. "All of you, stop!" he telepathically shouted, prompting his four friends to stop and take notice.
Scott dove out of the way as Emma crashed to the ground, with so much force that she tore through the floor, and landed in one of the passageways in the underground complex. As the floor gave way, both Scott and the still enthralled Henry found themselves sinking to the underground complex along with Emma. "…Christ…" Scott immediately got back to his feet, setting his sights on the woman he loved as she made her way to the end of the corridor. Though he was initially relieved that they landed on the side of the complex opposite the Danger Room, where the children were, it didn't take him long to realize that it wouldn't matter how far they hid. Cerebra would make sure of that.
"Scott…" the man in question stopped for a moment, and turned to find Henry getting back to his feet. "Hank? Are you okay?"
"…Oh crap." Scott raised his hand to his visor, just as Henry got on all fours and pounced forward, ready to kill one of his best friends, under orders of someone they both dearly loved. It left Scott with no choice, as he fired his optic blast into Henry at point blank. The blue-furred mutant felt the pain hit him like a ten ton hammer, pain that was quickly anesthetized by Emma's mind control, as Scott's optic blast only succeeded in forcing him back. Still in midair, Henry flipped back, landing on the wall, and bouncing off of it at optimal speed. Firing his optic blast at an object with that kind of propulsion would easily shatter it, that's why Scott couldn't risk another firing at Henry. With a loud growl, the beast swung at Scott with his right arm, while Scott himself leaned left to avoid the brunt of his arm. A sharp pain stung Scott's entire body as he wasn't able to lean so far as to avoid Henry's claws; claws which promptly tore his shirt, and the skin beneath, wide open. He's been so accustomed to being on Henry's good side that he forgot how dangerous his best friend could become. Henry landed on all fours, and doubled back for another attempt at tearing Scott's head off of his shoulders.
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"There's no other way." Derrick declared, a semblance of strength shining through the fear in his voice. He was already standing upright, the world no longer spinning around him like earlier on.
"No." Mark quickly responded.
"Maybe we can do…maybe we can put the block back in your psyche…" Mindee suggested.
"And then what? We'll just wait for the next time I start losing control?" Derrick asked.
"You're asking us to kill you." Mark reiterated, hoping that he could somehow drill how stupid the idea was into his best friend's skull.
"You think this is easy for me?"
"You make it sound like it is!"
"Hey, don't you think I want to live the rest of my life?"
"Don't you think I want to spend…no…I'm thinking of the greater good here, Mark! The greater good!"
"No, you're thinking about taking the easy way out! 'Oh, look at me, I'm sacrificing my life for the world, but don't tell anyone I'm doing it because I started the problem in the first place'! You think its noble, you think its great and all that, but it isn't! You'll die! And people'll think that you died because you couldn't stop the mojo you set loose and you f#cking overloaded! That's not being a hero, that's being a fucking coward!"
"…" Derrick's tears weren't stopping.
"You want to be a hero, then you live with the consequences, and you solve the problem! You don't run away, you don't ever run away!"
"There is no other way to solve this! I can't…I can't control it! I'm not some ultra-mutant, I'm just a shell! I'm a transmitter that won't stop making people go crazy! That's…that's how my mother made me…she made it so that as long as I had brainwaves, I'd be a threat to each and every person she wanted to get back on. This…this isn't my power anymore. It's hellfire. It's my crazy mother's birthday present to the whole goddamned world. I spent all of my power trying to lock it away, and now, now it's loose…and I can't stop it anymore."
"I'm not giving up, Mark. I'm making a choice. ..and I'm scared like hell."
"No…no, there's got to be another way."
Scott grunted in pain as Henry slammed him against the wall. "Hank…!" He wasn't there. Emma kept him in shadow, while his body acted out the violence she needed in her behalf. Scott needed to remind himself that as he felt Henry's claws drill into his shoulders as the beast pinned him in place, keeping his arms from reaching the sides of his visor. And without his costume, Scott didn't have the back-up button that was normally strewn in his glove to trigger his optic blasts. In other words, he was in danger.
"Hank…you have to listen to me…you need to fight it!" Scott shouted, hoping that he could still somehow reach his best friend with words. Reach the mind of the brilliant mind stick within the body of a Beast. Henry roared right in Scott's face, obviously signifying that the Beast has taken over. "…" It also meant that Scott needed to resort to the alternative. "I'm going to owe you for this…" Scott muttered, as he gathered his strength and slammed his knee right below the belt. It worked. The Beast staggered back, giving Scott enough space to fire a focused beam of optic energy, striking Henry right in the middle of his forehead, knocking him out instantly. With a loud, breath of air, Scott slumped to the floor, allowing for at least a moment for his body to recuperate. In the distance, the sound of two, massive metal doors sliding open began to echo. Emma stepped inside the massive, oval chamber, a look of evil intent in her eyes.
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"She made it to cerebra." The three sisters reported.
"…She can really do it, huh?" Mark asked. He was sitting on top of the desk, with Derrick sitting beside him as well. Both of them carried expressions of defeat, as they gazed straight ahead, into who knows where. "She can't kill us all just by thinking into Cerebra. She's not strong enough. The strain would kill her first." The Cuckoos explained, losing the shine in their eyes. "She's planning to operate every missile silo on the planet."
"…Oh." Derrick took a deep breath.
"Always flashy. She'll go Skynet and end the world by nuclear fallout…we think it's terribly unoriginal" Celeste bitterly remarked.
"And didn't she just try to end the world last week?" Phoebe asked. "This might be a trend with her."
"Nuclear fallout. Huh. Wouldn't that kill your mom too?" Mark asked.
"I don't know. She's been alive for centuries…maybe she's looking for a release. Or maybe she didn't really think this through." Derrick answered.
"Mr. Summers can't stop her now." The three then noted, as they telepathically watched the doors of the Cerebra lock behind Emma. "Time's up then." Derrick announced, as he hopped of the desk's edge. Mark followed him. They stepped to the center of the room, hearts anxious with hopes of survival, of heroism, and of sacrifice. "…Mindee…Celeste…Phoebe…" Derrick took the time to embrace each one. "…I'm not sure if… my influence over Miss Frost will disappear as soon as I'm…when I'm gone the psychic backlash might still be enough to hurt a lot of people if Miss Frost is still on Cerebra…"
"We know." They responded, their hearts heavy with despair. "…we know."
"Anyone else thinks this is a stupid idea?" Mark asked, though his voice was weak, and he knew in his heart that no alternative was readily available.
"…" Derrick raised his hand and smiled at his best friend.
"…" Mark smiled back.
Emma strode across the bridge, her eyes set on the means to her end. A console and a helmet. Cerebra, a device that could multiply a telepath's gifts tenfold. A machine that could kill anyone, anywhere, with just a cold, calculated thought. With excited hands, Emma reached for the silver helmet that stood in front of her. "Miss Frost." Came a sudden interruption. Emma turned and found three girls standing behind her, their eyes glowing with white energy.
"…my girls…" she whispered, with a blind hope that made Emma look like a child desperately in search for a friend. "…You need to think about this. This isn't what you want." They all said, taking a step forward. "…Even you turn your backs on me…" Emma accused.
"Think Miss Frost…if you end the world, then who will be there to recognize your victory?"
"…this is not about victory… this is about making things right...I'm curing this world!"
"And here we thought you hated clichés. "
"Leave me." Emma narrowed her eyes, still ready, and very much willing to fight.
"We can't do that Miss Frost." The three girls suddenly disappeared, as Emma felt the catwalk she stood on shift and buckle. "We didn't learn all we know just from you, after all." They then said, as the Cerebra console turned into liquid metal, latching onto the diamond woman's body, and then turning into a high-speed rollercoaster that bound her mind in place. "Remember, we spent summer with Madame Lafarge."
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
"I can't do this." Mark muttered, stepping away from his best friend. "I can't."
"Yes you can." Derrick reassured, closing the gap between them.
"It's one thing to ask us to let you die, it's another to ask me to kill you."
"At this point, I'm not asking."
"…" Mark shook his head. "…it's okay. I…want it to be you."
"…" Derrick took one more step forward, and suddenly held Mark in a tight embrace. It was only after his initial surprise that Mark returned the favor, completing the circle that their friendship had given them. Derrick closed his eyes as he rested chin face against Mark's shoulder. He always smelled nice. "…just tell him." Don't. "…tell him how much he means to you…" He'll freak out. "…it's the last chance you'll ever get!" Don't make him feel worse than he already does. "…you'll die and he'll never know…" It's better this way. "…just allow yourself this one thing…" It's selfish. "Just three little words…" He won't understand. "…Mark?" Derrick lifted his chin just an inch from his best friend's shoulder.
"…Yeah?" It was the first time Derrick heard Mark's voice turn so soft.
"…I think Mindee likes you." He whispered. Before Mark could even react, Derrick used the last ounce of his telepathic ability to strike his best friend with a powerful bolt of energy. "Derrick?" Mark's eyes lit up as he realized that his best friend telepathically forced him to use his power. "…it's my choice." He said again, as he found himself engulfed by a massive, column of white light.
As Emma thought her way out of each obstacle that the girls threw at her, she readied to strike back. A single bolt of psychic energy would have been enough to expel their astral projections from the chamber, and it was exactly what she planned to do. Without effort, she took down a massive brick wall that the girls conjured, finally tearing away from the illusions that they cast into her mind. And with a thought, she struck back, tearing the three apparitions from the chamber like they were paper, ridding her, at least for the moment, of her would-be stoppers.
"…Cerebra…" Emma quickly reached for the helmet, and put it on. In an instant, the walls around her gave way to endless horizons of pink mixed with dark blue. "…so much sickness…"she muttered, channeling her energy into the select minds that she needed.
"So much…ahhh!" Without warning, she felt something move through her, siphoning out all the negative energy that the Black Queen used to corrupt her.
"Now!" an image of the Stepford Cuckoos once again appeared right inside Emma's head, and fired a massive psychic bolt that was so powerful it managed to send her flying backwards. '
"Emma!" Scott stormed into the room, his finger by the edge of his visor, only to stop as he saw the woman on the floor.
"Oh my God."
Headmaster's Office/-at the same time-
Mark staggered back, his eyes wide and his mouth hung open. His best friend was laid on the floor, no longer moving. In the corner, the Cuckoos held their heads, finally back to themselves. Mindee covered her mouth as she saw the body of their friend. "…" Mark began to shamble to the corner of the room, and then dropped on all fours as he began to heave. Once more, Mindee began to cry.
"…where did he go?" Celeste asked weakly, her eyes on Derrick's motionless body. Mark shook his head as he wiped the remnants of what was in his stomach from his mouth. "…I don't know." With the shock of loss still heavy in his system, Mark wearily crawled to the wall where he rested his back.
"…" Leaving her weeping sister's side, Phoebe slowly made her way to the body, and knelt beside it. "…" With a heavy heart, she turned to her sisters, and asked the question that any of them did not wish to dwell on. "…did we win?"
"…" Mark shook his head once more. "I don't know."
University Week/3 days later
The auditorium was filled to the brim with students, each one coping in one way or another with the loss of a friend. Both Phoebe and Celeste, as always, were on the very front row, though for the first time in a long time, Mindee was not sitting beside them. The senior faculty, as always, sat on stage, on small, wooden chairs four feet behind the podium where Emma stood. "Good morning, students." She started, catching the student body's attention. "I'm sure…well, I've seen, how badly the loss of one of us has affected everyone. It is tragic to lose someone so…full of potential. But…we can all forget. We have the ability to. Not forget as in 'put the past behind'. No. I mean literally. With just a thought, I can make the pain go away. I can make the feeling of hurt and of loss disappear." Emma snapped her fingers. "Just like that." Some of the students were already shifting uncomfortably in their seats. "Derrick Gallis is gone. He has touched your…our… lives, with his infectious smile and his… capacity to spot every silver lining there is in this world. And if you can't bear with the fact that he is gone…then you can see me after the day's activities, and I can make you forget that he even existed."
Scott watched Emma as she spoke. Her words when she was under Selene's control still haunted him. She told him that he was under someone else's control, and he found that more than unsettling. But more than that, he was thinking about right and wrong. About how it was so quick for him to decide to fire at the woman he loved. About the night she spent crying in his arms as the memories of what she did, and what she attempted to do, flooded back in. "…"
"Yes…I can make you forget every laugh you spent with him, every drink, and every late-night get together at the pizzeria in town. I'll be glad to help you. And as an added bonus, I'll also take a 9-iron, and crack it over your skull. And when you lay on the floor, bleeding your bloody brains out, I'll force you to believe that you are a form of paramecium with dreams of one day evolving into something that has the ability to actually reproduce sexually."
Henry kept his head low, his ears hanging down like a domesticated animal knowing that it had done something wrong. He was one of the world's most brilliant creatures. That was why he felt so pathetic, being mentally reduced to nothing more than a filthy animal. It was bad enough he looked like one, but to act like on, to be directed by a single-minded need to obey one's instincts; it made him want to vomit.
"…In his last moment on this Earth, Derrick Gallis transformed into an unwilling weapon. One that drove me, and two other senior members of this institution ,temporarily insane. He was the product of hate. Of malicious depravity. His only purpose in life was that he was supposed to usher in the extinction of the X-Man. All his young life he was raised to be nothing more but a tool for destruction. But he chose to spend the last few seconds on this Earth in spite of all that."
Kitty took a second to turn and look at Peter, who was sitting one seat away from her. He was looking in the crowd, surveying the reactions of the students to Emma's ongoing speech. "…" She wondered about what it was her teammate was thinking. It was no secret that she's been making moves to show him that she was interested. No, more than interested. She was in love. And as her mind once more began to ramble about why he hasn't reciprocated, she stopped. Peter turned and faced her too. "…" Then Peter smiled.
"There are still a lot of you who blame your…state of being on parents…on God. Some of you are still resentful of being born with a stamp on your foreheads telling the baseline humans to hate you on sight. Well boo-bloody-hoo. If you think that fate dealt you an unlucky car, think of Derrick Gallis. If you think that being a mutant defines who you are, then think of Derrick Gallis. If you think that being born into a world full of anger and strife means you can't do anything in your power to change…then think about Derrick Gallis."
Logan leaned back on the chair, his hands crossed over his chest, as he recalled the night when Emma force fed him the image of the first woman he ever loved, dying in his arms. He wondered if that was the reason that he was so insensitive to death. "…" He needed to get over her.
"We live in difficult times. We know that. But as we have pointed out time and again, it is not the circumstance you're in that makes you who you are. What makes you special… what makes you worth saving, are the choices that you make in those circumstances. It could be deciding whether or not to copy off of your seatmate's midterm, or it could be in a fight to the death with another clone of Magneto. Derrick made a choice. Either he would allow himself to be the weapon that his mother wanted him to be…or if he would spit it back in her face for the sake of humanity."
Bile held his hand along the narrow alley's wall as he stumbled into the shadows. "Next time…next time…" he repeated to himself as he attempted to push aside the pain that wrecked his entire body. "I'm going to murder you all…!" Bile gritted his teeth as he fell to his knees, using the wall to sit back on. And as he thought back on the past few days, how he hoped to be remembered, even at least in death, a wicked smile began to crack through his pained exterior. With the blood of the innocent still fresh in his mind, the old man began to laugh. Louder and louder, he laughed.
"Derrick died because he believed that life isn't worth living if someone else is driving at the wheel. That's why. That's why if anyone of you so much as forgets what it was his last act stood for, what his last testament to all of you was…then believe me when I tell you, that I will make you remember. He was one of us. And we will never forget him."
Mark watched the brown leaves begin to whittle and fall as he leaned beneath a massive oak tree. A soft gust of wind blew at his face, caressing his cheek much like a gentle lover would at night. And as he closed his eyes to relish the peace that nature brought him, he squeezed his hand, feeling the soft skin of the girl beside him. "…" Mindee sighed in comfort as she leaned her head on Mark's shoulder. "We should do this often." She whispered, as the both of them watched the trees in the vast expanse of forest before them, sway and dance under the sun's warm smile.
Author's Note: Again, a heartfelt thanks to all of you. I really enjoyed writing this piece, and I'm glad that there are those of who you enjoyed reading it. Until next time. Animo.