GUARDIANS AT THE GATES OF HELL: NEW BEGINNINGS
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X-Men Evolution timeline: Starts off right around the series finale of X-Men Evolution.
This chapter includes spoilers from the X-Men Evolution episode of Ascension Part 2 (Season 4, Episode 9)
"Speech with telepathic undertone."
CHAPTER 2: COMING HOME
It was a sensation she had experience often.
It was a sensation she was experiencing at that very moment.
Complete and absolute freedom.
As her entirety passed through the transparent vapours of a particular form of cirrus cloud…
As she felt the freezing ice crystals hug her skin…
As she heard the winds howl in her ears at nearly sixteen thousand feet above the earth's surface…
She felt free.
Unrestrained by the laws of physics and with no earthly objects to hold her down…
She felt free.
Completely and absolutely free.
A smile spread across her face as - with just a little push of her will, she defied the very laws of gravity and rose above the clouds - to find herself basking in the rays of the midday sun.
Soaking in the warmth of the sun, she rose higher - and higher - and even higher - rising thousands of feet in mere seconds, until she was nearly on the verge of floating out of the earth's atmosphere and into the cold vacuum of space.
She stopped - and gazed down at the Earth below her.
Her adopted home.
From this height, it looked so beautiful. And yet - that was only from this far up.
Move just a little closer - and the evil that held this beautiful planet hostage was almost enough to make her leave this solar system entirely.
But still she remained.
Because of them.
Or more precisely, her… human family.
One minute she was on her home world - fighting alongside her father. Trying to fend off the invading forces who have all but decimated their way of life, their culture, their everything.
The next instant, she found herself being surrounded by a brilliant ray of light, turning to her father for the slightest of seconds, seeing the look of horror and incomprehension in his old and wise face, and then…
And then she found out what it was like to be ripped through time and space…
She shook her head to clear away those thoughts. They never helped.
She had her father back. Although, their reunion had been significantly longer for him than it had been for her - but all that mattered in the end, all that mattered to both of them was that: they had each other back in their lives.
As she dived through the clouds and down towards earth, a slow grin started to cross her features as she remembered their reunion.
It had been, as they had expected - equally tearful and blissful for the both of them.
However, the particular reunion had also elicited one other emotion. And that emotion had been surprise.
For her father that is.
Because, little had he known that in their time apart from each other, while she had been living on Earth, disguised as one of its denizens, she had - in the process fashioned something of a family of her own.
A smile graced her features as she recalled that first time her father had met the then twelve-year old Charles Francis Xavier. And, at that memory, the smile soon turned into a full-blown grin as she remembered exactly how hilariously awkward that particular meeting between the two had been.
Xavier, for one had been so very nervous that first time around. Nothing like the self-assured man he had grown up to become. The man she was so very proud to call her Little One.
And her father?
Well, her father on the other hand hadn't exactly helped matters nor done anything to help alleviate young Xavier's nervousness at the time. Especially with him appearing before the young man in his native form - all seven feet four inches and nearly three hundred and fifty pounds of mass. Heck, with that stature - even a full-grown adult would've found her father intimidating.
With that same grin still tugging at the sides of her lips, she pushed herself eastwards and flew towards the outskirts of New York.
It had been sometime since she had seen the man who was in every sense of the word her brother, if not by blood.
And as she picked up a little more speed and hurried to her destination, she decided that she really couldn't wait.
Coming up over Bayville, and not wishing to draw attention as a "flying woman" (despite the fact that the people of this small town had already seen their share of flying men and women), with just a little push of her vast psionic abilities - she shifted her bulk into another dimension while at the same time allowing light to pass through her rather than reflect off her. Making herself both intangible and invisible in the process.
Confident that she was now both invisible to the naked eye and senses, as well as any class of technologically based detection system, she dived towards Xavier's School for the Gifted for her long awaited reunion with her brother.
Upon arrival, she found him at the back of the mansion. Sitting with his back to the ocean. Waiting. He had always loved that spot.
He had not been waiting for her though; she had been early - as always. He was waiting for all the young mutants who had gone through a rather harrowing experience recently to arrive so he could address them at the same time.
He seemed… tired. And he also seemed to be in deep thought. The recent events - she mused - must have really taken a toll on him.
A tinge of guilt raced through her consciousness. She had wanted to help. But her father had as always very cryptically said that this was something Xavier and his students needed to do on their own.
Unlike her father, she did not possess the power of precognition. To see into the future. Well, not yet anyways. And though it was not always reliable, or showed every major event that was going to happen, she did wish she was old enough to have them.
Besides, her father has been alive a very long time. Longer than most beings would ever expect to live. And in that time, he had journeyed to faraway lands, seen and experienced things, people, places and culture she could never even hope to imagine.
All in all - he, more than her, had a greater understanding of certain concepts, of how certain events would play out - if it's left to run its course without their intervention.
This is why when he stated that Xavier and his students needed to face one of the greatest threats the world had ever seen on their own - she had allowed for that to take place.
No matter how much she may have disliked it initially.
As she floated some distance above the assembly, she took in the faces of all the mutants who had gathered. Just like she had once affectionately named Xavier her Special One, these young teens - she gathered were Xavier's specials.
They have already shown so much promise. She couldn't wait to see how the future would turn out for them.
Seeing that Xavier was still waiting for a few more people to arrive, she decided to have a walk through her old home. She hadn't visited in a few years and was curious to see what may have changed in her absence.
Unnoticed by anyone, she started floating towards the mansion.
As her noiseless and ghostly form passed through each room within the mansion, and she took in every little detail - she couldn't help herself from feeling a twinge of sadness.
It was different. Her - no, it wasn't exactly her home. But she had lived here looking after Charles for so long that this was the closest thing to a home she had on this planet. And… it was different.
Not because the mansion had newer residents - no. But rather, because although the foundation, design and structure of the building was still the same, no doubt about it. Yet many - if not most parts of the mansion had gone through an obvious amount of rebuilding in recent times.
Everything looked the same - yet, even without running her fingers through the walls of the mansion, she could state that they didn't quite feel the same.
Taking in a deep breath - a breath she did not have any requirement for, she sighed.
She was in Charles's room. Everything was different there as well. New.
Looking around the room, she wondered if they had made the right decision - parting ways with Charles all those years ago. So much the teens who resided in this mansion had gone through over the course of just those few years. And so much of it could have been avoided - if only her father had allowed for her to remain back at the mansion and assist Charles with his students and his mission.
But, she - as always had trusted in her father's judgement. Not that she was regretting it, but sometimes - sometimes, she did have to wonder if her father truly knew what he was doing.
She cocked her head to one side as her acute hearing picked up the unmistakable sounds of the motors of a helicopter rotor spinning in the distance. Turning her gaze in the direction the sound was coming from, she stared at a wall - and then right through it as though it wasn't even there, and picked up the flying vessel in the distance. Focusing on the aircraft, she easily picked up on the S.H.I.E.L.D. emblem on both sides of the craft.
Looked as though Fury was going to make it after all. That was good - she thought.
When she, on behest of her father had asked everyone - that is, everyone who knew who and what she and her father were - to congregate at the mansion, she had had her doubts as to whether the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be able to make it. After all, it was not everyday that Nick Fury could shirk off the enormous responsibilities that came with running the largest and most efficient counter-terrorist organisation on the planet just to go rendezvous with some old acquaintances.
But then again, she shouldn't have been surprised. A smile crossed her face as she remembered that - Fury usually never gave up on a chance to meet her personally.
Shaking her head in amusement as she remembered the first time she met the old warhorse, she turned and started back towards where everyone had gathered.
She was just about to pass the kitchen when - suddenly she stopped. And peered in - as a certain food item in a plastic container caught her eyes.
Forcibly, she turned away.
She shouldn't - she told herself. After all, she did not know whom… they… belonged to.
Of course, even as these thoughts crossed her mind, she found herself turning back and once again settling her eyes on the container.
Unconsciously, she licked her lips.
Finally letting out a whimper of defeat, she floated towards the container.
Perhaps, she could help herself to… just one. She was certain that whomever they belonged to - surely he or she would not miss one.
Promising herself that she would have one and only one - she shifted back into reality while still remaining invisible, picked up the container, took off its top it and dug in with a grin.
Of course, regardless of her pledge to her own self, the quietness in the mansion kitchen for the next five minutes was broken by the sounds of food crunching and the occasional "Yum!"
All the while, an ethereal voice would be heard stating emphatically to its owner.
"Just one more. Just (crunch) one (crunch) more (crunch). Mmm, Yummy!"
When she arrived back at the gathering - feeling just a little guilty about emptying the entire contents of that container into her stomach, she noticed that she had returned just in time for her little brother to address everyone.
Floating forward in her intangible and invisible form, she took her place slightly to his side - so she could observe him while keeping an eye on everyone at the same time.
"Thanks to you all, we have averted catastrophe." She heard him start. "It was not without its price however." He added and she found herself once again feeling that tinge of guilt she had been feeling earlier cross her mind.
"But steel is forged through fire and like it… we have been made stronger. We are prepared for what the future brings."
She then watched as he looked up at all who had gathered, and then state, "I know this, because I have glimpsed it in the mind of Apocalypse."
That particular revelation… caught her by surprise.
Was this why he had looked so depressed… so tired? Could the future really be that bleak?
Needing to learn more about whatever visions plagued him, she slipped past his telepathic blocks - blocks she had herself helped him built… plus a few others he had erected himself, and entered his mind to get a clear understanding of what exactly this future he had seen entailed.
She knew that as powerful as she was, Charles… on some level would still be able to feel her presence at the back of his mind. She only hoped that he didn't find her presence intruding and try to drive her out.
Sensing no opposition coming from her brother, she prepared to go deeper into his subconscious mind. It was where she knew she would be able to access his memories of these visions.
She was right.
"Many challenges still await us." She heard him affirm… and subsequently found herself being immersed in a vision of a future playing in his mind. In this one, she watched as many people gathered outside a particular government building - protesting against mutants.
She couldn't help but frown at the vision. She knew that the relationship between humans and mutants were strained but… never in a million years would she have presumed that it was going to be this bad in the future. Especially after what her brother and his allies had so recently accomplished.
Before she could spend some more time pondering on what she was seeing, she found herself being dragged from that particular vision into another one as Charles added. "But I have seen some who were our enemies become friends."
Well, this… sure is a surprise, she found herself thinking as she watched a man, who shared both friendship… and animosity with her brother - actually taking part in what seemed to be a training simulation with the younger X-Team Charles had so affectionately named the New Mutants.
She and her father had always felt a certain manner of kinship towards the mutant master of magnetism who called himself Magneto.
All three of them - survivors of two different, yet similarly horrifying massacres. Two great genocides.
However, THAT was where their similarities ended.
It had taken them both sometime - her father and her that is. To move past the tragedies that had befallen them. Tragedies that had shaped their lives.
Erik on the other hand had never been able to move past his.
Adamant in the belief that mutantkind will receive the same treatment the Jews had been given during WW2… he had decided to strike out at his potential oppressors even before they had been aware of the existence of mutants.
Her father had empathised with him. She had not.
She had never believed in striking out at someone - anyone for that matter before that individual had intentionally tried to harm her, or any member of her adopted family on Earth… and beyond.
Her father on the other hand, while not exactly being as proactive as Erik who developed this habit of lashing out at anyone and everyone who was not a mutant, did however - go out of his way to keep telepathic tabs on certain individuals… individuals who were likely to cause him or her (including any member of her adopted family) harm in the near or considerable future so that he could… deal with them appropriately when the need arose.
It was an approach that… she would admit to anyone she was not entirely comfortable with.
However, as long as her father did not outright kill anyone (at least she hoped that had never happened before) she was willing to let him deal with their… potential enemies in his own way.
Her musings were interrupted as another vision started playing in Charles's mind.
She watched this time as one of her brother's first students - the red-haired telepath and telekinetic known as Jean Grey floated about in what seemed like… space? She couldn't quite tell. She watched with interest as metal shrapnel warped and flew all around the young psi.
"And with a heavy heart," in the background, she heard the solemn tone of Professor Xavier's voice state. "I saw… the dearest of friend…"
Even as he said this, she looked on as a vortex of energy gathered around the young mutant's midsection. Swirling, faster and faster, she watched as the energy gathered both size and momentum with each passing second. Interest soon turned into concern as she watched the young psi struggle to contain the energy within.
Instinctively, she reached out to offer some assistance - only to be reminded the next instant that this was only a vision.
In the background, she heard her brother conclude in almost a defeated tone, "… become the most terrible of enemies."
And even as he finished, she watched on helplessly as the young mutant - no longer able to contain the energy within herself, let out a defeated and heartbreaking scream - and with that, Jean Grey of the X-Men finally let the energy that had been gathering inside her explode out of her… taking on the form of a fiery…
She gasped. And her psychic form took an involuntary step back as her eyes widened at the sight of the fiery bird.
It was… she shook her head - it simply couldn't be.
Or could it?
These and a hundred other thoughts raced through her psyche as she watched the vision finally come to an end - only to make way for another.
Though a part of her wished to remain in Xavier's psyche and observe the rest of the visions, she decided that none of the forthcoming visions could be as important as the one she had just witnessed.
Born in the midst of a race of beings that predated humanity by more than a few billion years - growing up, she had heard her fair share of tales regarding cosmic beings and deities from the elders of her society. But the tales were not merely tales. They were the foundations on which the religion they followed - and still did even to this day was based on. And although her people worshiped only one particular deity, they did however carry an enormous amount of information as well as reverence for deities worshiped by other creatures and beings.
Withdrawing herself from Xavier's mind, she sent out a telepathic message to her father. The details of the vision carved in the message.
If an ancient and almost forgotten deity was making a return - it was only natural for her to call on the only person in the universe (only person she knew off) who just so happened to be the chosen avatar - on occasions for another ancient, almost forgotten and eerily similar deity.
As Charles continued on with the rest of his speech, she listened on from the sides - but her eyes, her eyes stayed trained on a certain telepath and telekinetic. Turning back to her brother as he finished his speech, she wondered if he had been carrying the burden of that vision all by himself. Or, if he even had shared it with anyone.
But, as she watched him put on a brave front, smile and declare that he was going to send everyone off to Hawaii for a two week vacation for their efforts recently - she took in a deep breath and sighed. Of course, she should have guessed that he hadn't. Just like him to think the weight of the world rested on his shoulders.
Reminded her a little of the brat from Smallville she helped her father raise.
She, however - forced herself to feel a little less worried about the vision of the future she had just witnessed - deciding that Charles did not need to know that the particular vision had her worried as well, and found herself actually smiling as Logan placed his foot in his mouth (like so many times she had seen him do before) and nearly got himself fried by an irate weather goddess in the process. And amused peals of laughter unheard by anyone escaped her lips as a slip of tongue placed her brother in the same position as Logan.
But fortunately for both Charles and Logan, the weather manipulating mutant decided to show them some leniency (this time at least) and turned to go to the front of the mansion and help with the caterers who (according to her acute hearing which had just picked up on the sounds of a solitary van moving towards the mansion) were going to arrive in less than seven minutes.
Well, it was all for the better - she thought. Not that she was looking particularly forward to cutting short her reunion with her old friends soon… but, the sooner this conference her father had called was underway, the better it would be for all parties involved.
She watched in amusement as the trio of Fury, Logan and Xavier exchanged some more banter after Ororo had disappeared around a corner until at long last - Fury placed an end to it by adding in something of a stern tone. "Alright people. Time we got serious and talked about some pressing business."
She watched as her brother composed himself, took in a deep breath and then nodded his head in agreement. When he then looked up to lock eyes with the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the old warhorse had only one question for him.
Well, since the query directed at her brother was in regards to her, she didn't see any harm in responding to it for him.
"I have always been here." She stated, using not her human - but her real voice… and then let out a giggle as she watched both Logan and Fury restrained themselves from jumping out of their skin.
Her real voice was similar to any other human voice… with the lone exception of having - as Charles once explained it - telepathic undertones to it. This plainly meant that when she spoke to anyone, her voice would not only register on the person's ears, but the person she was speaking to - would in fact feel her voice in their mind. Making it seem to the person as though her voice was coming from anywhere and everywhere at once.
"Really hate it when you do that." She heard Logan mutter - looking around and trying to figure out where she was. And she let out another amused giggle in response.
She didn't believe she would ever get used to how much fun it was to play with Logan's senses. She knew that… as much as the feral Canadian loved her - in a completely platonic manner of course… she also annoyed the heck out of him for being one of the only few beings on the planet to be capable of fooling (almost every time) his hyper-keen senses.
"I thought I felt you." She heard Charles reach out to her with his telepathy. "Somewhere… in the back of my mind."
In response, she stated what to her would have been the most obvious of answers - making certain that her message relayed all the love and affection she felt for him. "I'm always around… watching over you."
Which - she mused was true. She may not be around that much physically, but she did on occasion check up on Charles psychically.
As Logan and Fury followed Charles's line of sight and both their eyes finally settled in her general direction, she decided to reveal herself to them by slowly shifting back into synch with reality - all the while walking closer to Charles, and then for a final touch, she stopped light from passing through her and settled on letting it reflect off her instead.
"Beautiful." She heard the word escape Fury's lips. She decided that she would need to thank him for the compliment later on.
Smiling down at Charles, she reached out with her hands to take both of his in hers, slowly raised them to her lips and kissed them gently on the back. She raised his hands higher, until they were placed against her forehead.
She then articulated a few prayers for his health, for him to have a long life, and for his normal wellbeing in her own language, before finally lowering his hands, looking up at him after a few seconds and beaming at him. Letting him know with her smile how much she had missed him.
He of course could do no less than smile back at her in response.
"It has been so long… little brother." She heard herself saying. And although, their reunions took place every three months or so, those three months without seeing her brother - more often than not felt to her like an eternity.
"It is… very good… to see you as well… Kim!" Charles responded with a smile. A smile that - considering what he had been through recently, actually seemed genuine.
She was glad.
With everything that had happened to him in recent times, to be able to ease some of his worries away…
To be able to make him smile with her mere presence…
Yes, she was indeed glad to have returned home after such a long time.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Wow! This took a loooong time. Sorry for the delay folks but, you know how life has a way of butting in - especially when you are trying to enjoy yourself by writing a fanfic. Heh!
Anyways, without further delay, let me ask you what you thought of this chapter.
Kim: Still the mystery woman in this fic. I'm sure you're all asking - who is she? Or rather… what is she? And what about her father? Who could he be? And no, it's not just you thinking that she seems to have each and every power conceivable - in the comics, she actually would have had all these and more - had she been allowed to live past her childhood. Still can't figure out who she is? Well, just wait till I post the next and final arc of Guardians at the Gates of Hell: New Beginnings. It will not only conclude this story, but also make way for another Guardians story arc I'm already working on. Trust me, when I say this that - you WILL NOT want to miss any of it.
Oh, and watch out for references to some of your most beloved characters here and there - all of whom will be making an appearance in future story arcs. ;)
Take care folks. I do hope that you're still enjoying this story just as much as I'm taking pleasure in writing it - if not more. Later…
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