Disclaimer: This is a work of fan fiction using characters, locations and concepts belonging to Marvel Entertainment. No claim of ownership is made or implied by me in using their property. No part of this work is intended for material gain of any kind. It is intended for the sole purpose of creative exercise and the entertainment of others.

* * * * * * *

The Adventures of Kitty Pryde

Issue 16, February 2007

Cover image: Kitty, Iceman and Cannonball all charge forward against a darkened background, faces determined. Bobby is iced for battle and riding one of his ice slides while Kitty rides along, one hand gripping his shoulder while the other points ahead. Sam is flying nearby, fists ahead while his blast field surrounds unit. They are bathed in a sickly green glow

* * * * * * *

Five minutes ago...

Warren Epps sits on the edge of his bed in the room he shares with Ben Rice. Music, sports and movie posters adorn the walls and several loaded bookshelves flank a cluttered computer table next to an open window. On the nightstand next to Warren's bed is a wooden model ship and a framed picture of Warren with his mom. The nightstand's twin on the opposite side of Ben's bed has a complex molecular model and a lava lamp. There is a light patch on the wall above Warren's bed, as if something has recently been removed.

He looks out the window, sullenly watching his friends as Scott Lightfoot tries to find new ways to use his powers. The three students are romping through the grounds behind the mansion, near the edge of the woods and the lake, and appear to be laughing and having a great time as they chase and dodge each other.

"Waste of time," Warren says, but there is no condemnation in his voice, only bitter longing as he continues to watch.

Four minutes ago...

"Well, well," Emma says as she regards Peter curiously from the executive chair in her office, her eyes sparkling with amusement. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd forgotten our time-displaced guest."

Peter frowns his disapproval. "Guest? Most of the school thinks of her as a prisoner. I'm starting to believe they may be right."

"Nonsense." Emma chuckles as if the very idea was ridiculous. "Her confinement is for her own safety as well as others, as is the nullification of her powers. It's also quite voluntary."

The words do little to put Peter at ease. "And she's being well cared for?"

"Of course. Henry has seen to it that she receives the best care we have to offer."

"He does not see her as often as you do."

Emma arches one speculative eyebrow. "She is suffering from a great deal of psychological trauma," she reminds him. "And I do have certain advantages in that area which Henry lacks, despite his considerable talents."

* * * * * * *

Three minutes ago...

A raucous melody pulls Warren's attention away from the window, and he thrusts a hand into his pants pocket to retrieve his cell phone. He looks at the screen, which displays a number along with the word 'Dad.' Warren grimaces a mix of anger and anguish and hastily stabs the button to cut off the incoming call.

"Leave me alone."

Two minutes ago...

The chair next to Peter remains vacant as he stands before Emma's desk. He looks as if he's mentally weighing what they've discussed and deciding how much of it he should be satisfied with. "Is she making any progress?"

"It's difficult to say," Emma says after a moment's consideration. "Her mind is a confused landscape I've yet to completely explore, much less repair."

"What if you can't help her?"

"We'll seek out someone who can."

Peter nods gravely. "And after she has been healed?"

"She'll be free to go, of course. Preferably to some other dimension or reality, if at all possible." Emma's lips curl back into an elegant but devilish smile. "You could pay her a visit to see for yourself how she's doing if you like. She asks about you quite often."

"Ah, no," Peter says, balking at the offer. "I do not believe that would be wise."

Emma inclines her head in acknowledgement. "If you're sure." As she's about to say more, her face suddenly contorts in pain and she gives a cry, clutching at her head with both hands.

"Emma!" Peter cries, rushing to her side to steady her, though she's already recovering. "What happened?"

"I- I'm not entirely sure. Someone was just killed, I think." She pulls herself up to turn toward the window behind them. "Outside. What's happening out there?"

One minute ago...

Warren's ringtone sounds again. He snatches the cell phone back up and glares at the offending display. "I said..." the boy says, voice rising with each word. He raises his arm as he makes to throw his phone out the window.

"...Leave me alo-"

Warren freezes in place as he stares out the window. The cell phone, forgotten, slips out of his hand and hits the floor with a clatter.

* * * * * * *

Now...

The grounds behind the mansion are dwarfed by a gargantuan creature, an amorphous, translucent blob with hundreds of pseudopods groping blindly at trees, the sky, and anything else. The greenish-blue membrane stretches and rolls as it lurches forward, while the mechanical nucleus deep in the center crackles with electricity.

Stan Lee does not present

Tiger by the Tail

* * * * * * * *

Peter and Emma gape in astonishment at the sight. "What is that thing?" Emma says, almost without thinking.

"You say it has killed." Peter shifts to his steel form in a burst of light. "It will not do so again."

On board the Conquistador, Sam helps transfer Kitty, whose legs remain limp and useless, over to Bobby. She grips Bobby around the shoulder as he holds her upright while they look down from the floating tanker at the massive amoeba-like creature.

"Sam!" Kitty urges.

"On it," he replies without hesitation, diving down while his blast field flares to life around him and he soars toward his target.

Far below them, the kids of Kitty's fan club flee as swiftly as they can to get away from the creature, which is much too close for comfort. "Run!" Alana screams, though Ben and Scott need no encouragement in that regard as they sprint along with her.

Back at the mansion, Warren launches himself out of the window of his first-floor dorm and hits the ground running as he rushes toward his friends. "Alana!" he cries.

The wall behind Emma's office explodes into rubble as Colossus, along with Emma Frost, now in her diamond form, burst through and run toward the creature.

* * * * * * *

"Use your power to run faster, Scott!" Alana says as they continue to scramble to escape from the massive blob bearing down on them.

"I can't! I used it all up practicing!"

Ben steals a quick glance behind them. The outer membrane pulses and roils like the surface of a soap bubble as the creature's bulk grinds the earth beneath it, bearing down on them like an acre sized steamroller. "We're not going fast enough!" he yells. "It's going to catch up to us in twenty-point-four seconds!"

A tentacle the size of a pine tree comes smashing down next to them, throwing up gouts of dirt. The kids scream in alarm and veer to the left.

"Maybe less!" Ben says.

"How about you math us a way out of this?" Scott stumbles forward and digs his hands into the ground, scraping at it with his fingers until he regains enough momentum to get running again.

"I'm trying! What would Miss Pryde do?"

Scott quickly catches back up to the other two and a moment later strides past them. "I don't know!" he confesses. "Phase into the ground? Shoot it with a bunch of antibiotics?"

"Keep running!" Alana tells them.

"But where?" Ben says.

"Look!" Alana says, pointing. "It can't squeeze past the trees!"

"It doesn't have to," Scott replies. "It's eating them!"

Ben angles over to the nearest part of the woods. "She's right! It might buy us the time we need to get away!"

They make for the trees as fast as their feet will carry them, but the blob is already too close. "We're not gonna make it!" Scott yells.

Part of the creature's membrane pimples out, extending into a new pseudopod which reaches out toward the children, coming scant inches away from them.

* * * * * * *

Sam blasts through, scooping Scott up a fraction before the tentacle reaches the boy. An instant later the tentacle is crushed by a boulder which drops from the sky with a thunderous crash. The amoeba-like monstrosity shows no sign of harm, but does pause to envelope the boulder, giving the kids the time they need to put some distance between them and it.

Alana and Ben gasp in surprise, and then a second time as Colossus arrives and lifts Alana into his arms. "I have you," he tells her. He is quickly followed by Emma, who picks up Ben.

"Let's be off," Emma says, reversing direction to rush back toward the mansion. "That boulder you tossed won't distract it for long."

It's long enough for them to make their escape, however and by the time they reach Warren's sprinting form they have put a generous distance between themselves and the blob.

"Guys, guys!" Warren yells as Colossus and Emma set the kids down. "Are you okay?" Behind them, Sam drops Scott off, and the boy quickly joins the reunion.

"We're fine," Alana says. She looks back at the vastness of the creature, which has resumed its plodding journey toward the mansion. "For now."

"What is that thing?" Emma demands, to which Peter adds, "And where did it come from."

Sam steps forward, his expression grim, and cocks his head toward the Conquistador floating high above. "It's a nasty little surprise left behind by the Children," he says in answer to both questions. "And we'd better figure out how to stop it quick, because-"

* * * * * * *

"-there's another one," Kitty tells Val Cooper and the assembled O*N*E soldiers gathered in the lower decks of the Conquistador. She does her best to hold herself straight and composed despite being unable to stand without Bobby's help.

Val glares at the two mutants, effectively at the end of her rope with them. "I think I'd notice if there were two of those things," she says jabbing her finger in the direction of the blob's slow rampage.

Kitty hardly bats an eye in the face of Val's sarcasm. "The other one's pretty tiny, and still on board this ship."

"You might say the one down there had a growth spurt," Bobby adds.

Val raises her communicator, eyes still watching Kitty and Bobby with annoyance. "What's going on out there?"

\\We're in formation and taking point now,\\ a voice answers.

"Good. Open fire on my call," she says. Val turns her attention back to the soldiers behind her. "Get into position and ready your weapons."

"That thing just ate a Sentinel," Kitty says. "Do you really think bullets are going to do anything to it? We need to spread out and track down the other one before it has a chance to get just as big and we wind up with twice the problem."

Val snorts derisively as she directs the soldiers toward the gap in the ship's hull. "We've got much better than guns to clean up your mess with," she tells Kitty.

"All you're doing is wasting time," Kitty insists.

"I heard you the first time, Junior," Val says, putting extra venom into the last word.

A meaty hand snaps out and clutches Val's throat from behind, the clawed fingers pressing dangerously against her jugular. "Maybe you ought to listen harder, then."

* * * * * * *

Sabretooth presses closer to Val, his foul breath stirring the blonde locks of her hair. "Sounded like what the kid had to say was important."

The soldiers turn as one, training their weapons on the savage mutant. "Let her go, Creed," Kitty says as she and Bobby tense.

"Smelled something rotten and thought I'd check it out," Sabretooth says conversationally, ignoring Kitty's command. He grins sharp teeth at Val. "Letting another one o' those things run loose sounds like a bad idea. How 'bout you let your toy robots play with the big one and tell these meatsacks to do what the Kitty-cat says before I rip your throat out."

Val attempts a cold smile. "Those nano-sentinels in your blood would kill you before you could even squeeze."

"Care to bet your life on that?"

An uneasy silence hangs in the deck for a second or two, and Val finally flicks her eyes back to Kitty. "It seems you're in charge. For now."

Sabretooth releases her and Val quickly turns and moves away from him, eying him warily the entire time while attempting to look unruffled.

Kitty sweeps her gaze over the assembled men. "Cover as much ground as you can," she says. "And watch for any holes in the floor. It can burn through to the lower decks."

"Charming," Val says.

"Creed," Kitty says, "if you can track it, then go."

Sabretooth flashes his teeth at Kitty in a broad smile. "Now you're talkin' my language." He dashes out of the room and into the passageways with deadly swiftness, eager for the hunt.

The soldiers move to follow, pairing up into a more orderly search. In moments only Bobby, Kitty and Val remain. Val massages her neck and tries not to seethe. "I wasn't aware Creed respected you so much," she says.

"He doesn't," Kitty tells her. "A while back the Hand switched out my personality for his, and I managed to resist becoming a savage killer like him. As long as I'm alive, he'll always know that he doesn't have to be a bloodthirsty animal. He probably hates me as much as he can hate anyone who isn't Logan."

"That's pretty harsh," Bobby says. "So then, what was with him backing you up there?"

"He probably just can't stand the idea that a mindless, one-celled organism got a piece of me before he did."

"You X-Men always have the most interesting relationships," Val says. "I'm surprised you aren't chasing after it too."

Kitty gives her a wan smile. "I still can't move my legs. I'd only get in the way."

"And there's no way I'm leaving her alone with you," Bobby throws in.

"We're just going to have to leave it to the others," Kitty says, "and hope for the best."

* * * * * * *

Elsewhere in Salem Center, Lou Somme makes her lonely way home. She has changed out of her work uniform and into a pair of twill capris and a printed matte jersey top shirt. She moves along the sidewalk with slow, measured strides and her face is as inscrutable as ever.

She looks at the slip of paper in her hand, the final paycheck from her package delivery job. It lays limply in her hand, silently mocking her impassive demeanor. She turns off the sidewalk into a plain-looking bank and emerges from it shortly afterward, her hands now empty.

"It will be more difficult to blend in now that I have lost my job," she thinks. "I still know so little about this planet and its people, and I learned much through my employment. More so than any of the tales of Cerise's time here."

Her apartment complex is townhouse style, with units spread across three levels and a series of garages jutting out from each. Lou moves toward her apartment, giving one of her neighbors a casual wave as he drives past her.

"The vibes coming from Mr. Fife were troubling," her thoughts continue. "There is more to my termination than he knows. I sensed it during the meeting. If I attempt to find work elsewhere, it is likely who is involved will act to interfere."

As she unlocks her front door and turns the knob, her face tightens with concern. "The question is who is behind what has happened."

* * * * * * *

"And why."

The door opens to reveal the foyer, which has been torn apart from carpet to ceiling. Linens, brooms and a mop are scattered before her. Lou's expression remains neutral, but she steps carefully inside, scanning all about her as she makes her way to the living room.

She finds everything inside broken and thrown to the floor. The couch has been upturned, every cushion removed and sliced open, the stuffing pooled around like limp clouds. Her television is on its side, the screen smashed in and all her assorted collection is littered about as if an earthquake had rattled the entire unit.

Lou stands for a long moment, taking the entire sight in before making a thorough search of her home. She finds similar signs of destruction in every room, but the intruders have long since gone elsewhere.

By the time she returns to the living room, her mouth has curved into a thoughtful frown. She crouches down and picks up a Bamf doll with its head mostly torn off and lolling to the side. Bringing it closer, she examines it for a moment and heaves a great sigh.

"I don't know what to do," she says, as if she finds that as hard to believe as the ransacking of her apartment itself.

* * * * * * *

Back at the mansion, a trio of Ogre Sentinels bear down on the monstrous goo. For all their bulk and multitudes of weaponry, they are dwarfed by their target, which seems barely aware of them as they hover in the air in front of it.

\\Weapons on-line,\\ one pilot reports as he takes aim at the creature.

\\Ready on your go. Let's make this lump of snot sorry it killed Cooperson,\\ the one to his left replies.

The gunports on each of the Sentinels glow an ominous blue as their weapons charge. \\Okay, light 'em up.\\

A furious barrage of lasers and rockets strike the creature, setting it aglow in crimson and yellow flame. The gelatinous beast pauses in its advance toward the mansion, tentacles writhing in a silent dance of what appears to be pain. The Sentinels maintain their assault, concentrating all their firepower on a single spot in hopes of piercing through the outer surface and ripping it apart from the inside.

\\Looks like we're wearing it down.\\ The reddish glow radiating from their focal point slowly spreads in a wider bruise along the surface of the creature, heat vapors wafting off from the intensity. It seems only moments from melting or turning into a bright coal of flame.

\\Keep the pressure on.\\

Secondary weapons erupt, adding to the incredible barrage being channeled into their enormous target. The blob contracts slightly, and a series of explosions ring out along its slimy membrane from one end to the other, bathing it and most of the area around it in a thick screen of black smoke.

* * * * * * *

\\We got it!\\ one of the pilots says. Two of the Sentinels charge down their weapons and use their bootjets to lower themselves toward the ground. Their movements are a bit jerky after the massive expenditure of energy they just went through.

\\Run a sensor scan,\\ the squad leader says as he keeps his robot craft airborne and weapons trained on the slowly dissipating smoke cloud. \\I want to be sure that thing's history.\\

\\Scanning now. I'm getting a lot of static but... Fall back! We have a negative kill. Fall back!\\

The warning comes too late. Out of the smoke two snakelike tendrils piston forward, snaring the other Sentinel before it can take to the air again. \\I'm caught!\\ the pilot cries as the smoke rolls off the surface of the creature, revealing it to be unharmed and possibly larger than it was before. It quickly drags the Sentinel into a crushing embrace, the surface going concave do draw it into itself.

\\I can't break free! Ejecting... now!\\ A capsule explodes from the Sentinel's head, clearing mere moments before the giant robot is completely enveloped. Within moments the Sentinel breaks down, pieces of it drifting away and disintegrating as it quickly consumed by the voracious and impassive glob.

The escape pod barely grazes the surface of the creature and immediately spins out of control, the rocket engines leaving a spiral of oily smoke. It finally comes down dangerously close to the creature, and several tendrils immediately slither toward it.

* * * * * * *

Chicago, Illinois.

The young man known as Haru walks heavily into a candlelit room and comes to a stop before a small altar. He is wearing ceremonial robes of gold and indigo which rustle with each movement. Stopping a few feet from the altar, he bows deeply, lightly claps his hands before him, and repeats.

"I remember the day you came to us," his elderly master says as he walks into the room, still in his crimson jo-e. He pauses next to Haru, facing the altar with him. "Alone. Confused. You had no memory of who you were. We decided to call you Haru because you came in the Spring."

Haru shakes his head sadly. "I've been nothing but a burden on you since then."

"You've been an apt pupil and have made me proud." The priest offers Haru a gentle, fatherly smile. "Good fortune led you to seek us, not ill omen."

"I will always be grateful for what you've taught me," Haru says. "But the demon grows stronger every day."

"As do you."

"Not enough. I can feel it struggling to escape, and I don't know how much longer I can contain it."

The old priest nods gravely. "This ritual... it is very dangerous. Even if it succeeds, you may be destroyed along with the demon. Are you sure you still wish to do this?"

"I am, Master."

"Very well." The old man raises his hand in silent signal, and a line of priests file into the room and form a loose circle around Haru. Some carry Onusa, the zig-zag shide paper dangling loosely from the tips. A few more are adorned with necklaces of giant black onyx beads. They wait as the old priest steps back to join the circle.

"Let us begin."

* * * * * * *

Haru closes his eyes as the priests lift their voices in somber chant. At first things seem calm, and he is soothed by the ebb and flow of their voices, but the tranquility is short lived.

The candles flicker as if stirred by a sudden breeze, casting ominous shadows about the room. Beads of sweat form on Haru's forehead and his face tightens. Around him the chanting intensifies, filling the room with sharp, droning intonations.

"S-something's wrong," Haru says. He jerks his head to the side, jabbing his chin into his shoulder. "I can feel it resisting-!"

He gasps in sudden pain and claps his hands against his head as if he was trying to hold it together. "No!" He falls to his knees and curls forward while black flame seems to enshroud his form. The priests' chants become strained, as if they are trying to speak while holding up an incredible weight. Still they persevere while Haru writhes in the center of their circle.

Something seems to split the air with a great snap, and the ebon flames around Haru suddenly explode out, like a shroud coiling its way toward each of the priests. Haru is fully consumed by the shadow, and in the center, where he had been, a face like the Devil's howls in rage as the priests raise their arms against it, more determined than ever to send it back to where it was spawned.

The echoes of their battle ring through the shrine.

* * * * * * *

Dazed, the fallen pilot kicks open the door of his escape pod and stumbles his way out, only to find himself surrounded by the creature's tendrils, intent on bringing both him and his craft to the same fate his Sentinel had suffered. He searches desperately for a gap he can exploit, but all avenues of escape have been cut off. He watches in horror as they draw closer, but a blur of movement in the distance catches his eye.

"Chin up there, soldier," Beast says as he bounds over and under the row of tentacles between himself and the pilot. His catlike form evades the creature with impossible ease until he at last drops onto the escape pod on all fours and graces the pilot with a furry blue grin. "The Boisterous Beast is here to save you."

The pilot gives another look at the creature's snakelike appendages as they close in around them, even as Beast picks him up with one furry paw. "That's great. Who's going to save you?"

"Now let's hear none of that," Beast says as he leaps toward a clump of trees, a clutch of tendrils in pursuit. "While it's true this would be easier were I still in my jollier and (as the ladies were fond of saying) cuddlier furred manifestation, I'm still more than a match for these hebetudinous extensions of our oversized tubulinida foe."

Beast reaches the trees and with his free paw takes several heavy swipes at a relatively thin trunk, ripping deep gouges out of the wood. "What are you doing?" the pilot says as the pseudopods surrounding them grow thicker.

"It's quite simple, really," Beast says as he rips the trunk deep enough to set the tree toppling. "To paraphrase the poet Joseph Morris: If you can't go under or round..." With a sudden spin, he kicks at the falling tree with both feet, sending it at the giant blob like a ballista shot. In a blink he leaps after it, taking to the air just as it strikes, doing no apparent harm to the creature as it immediately works on drawing it in to be consumed. Beast lands upon the far end and uses it as a springboard, launching him high into the air. He reaches the top of a thicker tree more than capable of bearing his weight and far beyond the reach of the blob's tendrils.

"...go over," he finishes, leaping along the treetops and to safety.

* * * * * * *

At the other side of the blob, it has come dangerously close to the mansion, but stops as it runs against an invisible wall. Groping along with its tentacles, it presses against it, moving higher and wider as it attempts to work its way around.

Julian Keller, aka Hellion, grits his teeth against the strain of holding up the force field with his telekinesis. He braces himself against one knee and stares in fierce concentration, determined to hold the field no matter the cost. Emma Frost stands by him, guiding his efforts telepathically while keeping in synch with the other X-Men defending the mansion.

))Hellion's force field is holding for now,(( she reports. ))But he's weakening fast.((

))We just need a little longer,(( Karma sends back from her spot on the other side of the blob, where Colossus and Rockslide are waiting. Each of the powerhouses are on opposite ends behind the creature, standing in front of large oak trees, their arms wrapped around the trunks.

"Are you ready?" Colossus yells to his rocky companion.

"Heck yeah," Rockslide answers. "Let's go!"

There is a great tearing sound as the pair yank their trees out of the ground, dirt falling in huge clumps from the exposed roots. They stab at the creature, which mindlessly tries to draw the trees in. As soon as it has a tight enough grip, however, they both pull back, using their enormous strength to drag the creature backwards. "We're barely keeping it from moving ahead!" Rockslide complains.

"For now, that shall be enough," Colossus says. "Be on your guard, it has noticed us."

Sure enough, several tentacles slither their way toward them, but before they reach them, Wolverine and X-23 dive on the ones after Colossus. They swipe furiously at the tendrils, severing them and forcing the creature to withdraw and reform new ones. Rockslide is similarly protected by force blasts courtesy of Cyclops and slices from Mercury, who has reshaped her arms into silvery scythes.

"We've got you covered, son," Cyclops tells Rockslide.

"Yeah, great," Rockslide grumbles. "Feels like we're playing tug-o-war with a bowl of jell-o."

* * * * * * *

"Are they winning?" Ben asks as he and the rest of Kitty's fan club watch the battle from their vantage point at the window of his and Warren's dorm room.

"I can't tell from here," Scott says. "I wish we could help."

"Ms. Frost told us to stay here," Alana reminds him, though she looks equally upset to be watching from the sidelines.

A pillar of molten lava erupts beneath the creature, rising into the air as it retracts from it and raining back down upon its outer surface. Nearby, Magma lifts her hands into the air, calling more and more red-hot slag from beneath the earth, the ground trembling around her.

Meanwhile, Dust and Surge race along the fringes, razing the creature with blasts of sand and bursts of electricity whenever they can. Overhead, Lockheed swoops past the creature, scarring its surface with intense blasts of flame.

Logan grunts as he hacks through another tendril. "There's no end to this flamin' thing!" he says.

Cannonball roars past them and angles for an attack. "If we can get to that spot in the center we might be able to take it down. My blast field should protect me long enough to get to it."

"Be careful, Cannonball," Scott yells as he fires off another optic blast.

Pausing only long enough to give a quick salute, Cannonball charges forward, fists thrust ahead as he aims for the creature's center. "Gotta build up as much speed as I can," he thinks. He plows into it like a rocket, piercing the surface and tunneling his way through.

"Did it!" he thinks as he works his way toward the nucleus, but his victory is soon snatched away as his progress immediately slows. "No good. This is like swimming through molasses! I'll never make it." He reverses direction and makes for the creature's outer membrane again. "Hope I've still got enough momentum to get outta this thing."

He barely reaches the edge in time, but as he tries to break free, the creature only bulges outward, holding him trapped inside. "Almost... I just have to keep going, hard as I can! I've got to be close to its limit...!" He manages to get a little further, but it's taking more effort than he can keep up. Bit by bit he goes, straining for every inch. "Losing it, I'm..."

* * * * * * *

"Gotcha!"

Iceman and Kitty swoop through, riding on an iceslide. Kitty clings tightly to Iceman as she reaches her hand out and phases through the creature. She snags Cannonball and phases him free and the three of them make their escape back to the Conquistador.

"Thanks," Sam says, catching his breath. "So much for that plan."

Kitty eyes him sharply. "Maybe not. I've got another idea that might work. Do you think you can lure that thing as high up as it'll go?"

"Maybe. Can you stand?"

"Not yet, but I've got an idea about that, too." Without waiting to explain, she phase-merges into Bobby.

"Hey! What're you-" Bobby says, eyes bulging in shock. He looks at Sam, who lowers his goggles back over his eyes and offers him a wry smile.

"I think I know where she's going with this," he says. The blast field blossoms around him anew, and he dives back into the sky after the creature.

"Like that's supposed to make me feel better about this?" he says as twin jets of ice erupt from his hands and he uses it to carry him back into the sky.

* * * * * * *

Cannonball gets right to work, flying around the creature, just beyond its reach. The creature mindlessly takes the bait, weaving and bending in an effort to reach him wherever he passes by. It draws into itself, shifting its mass around so that it can stretch higher, but Cannonball carefully remains just beyond its reach.

Meanwhile, Iceman circles the creature from a much greater distance, watching the center mass grow thinner and thinner as it continues to contract and stretch. He is zipping along his iceslide at a blinding pace, riding the curves like a professional skateboarder. Finally the creature rises almost as high as the Conquistador itself, the nucleus floating in a section roughly a hundred feet in diameter.

"I hope you know what you're doing, Kitty," Iceman says. He crouches down and runs a length of ice directly for the creature, the slide firing him ahead in a blur of motion. He braces himself moments before impact, but he never touches the creature. At the very last moment Kitty, still merged with him, phases both him and the slide he's generating, and they shoot through the creature as if it didn't even exist. As they pass the nucleus, the mechanical parts spark and crackle violently, but only long enough for Iceman to finish his charge and emerge out the other side.

A second later, the iceslide behind them goes solid, its atoms suddenly merging with those of the creature, with violent results.

* * * * * * *

The giant blob suddenly bursts, the explosion loud enough to shake the earth and bend back trees around it. A fountain of goo splashes out like a massive, viscous raindrop, so immense it momentarily blots out the sun. The X-Men on the ground dive for cover, with some finding more success than others. Completely unaffected by the blast are Cannonball, who flies above its range, and Iceman, still being phased with Kitty.

Emma calmly watches the liquid fireworks from the safety of a telekinetic dome raised at the last moment by Hellion. "High marks, Julian. Very high marks."

"Ewwwwwww!" Warren, Alana, Scott and Ben say as goo rains against the walls of the mansion.

"Aw, man!" Rockslide says as he is doused. "This sucks!"

* * * * * * *

Sabretooth stalks his way through the lower decks of the Conquistador, the claws on his hands tinging against the diamond plate steel floors. He follows the scent of his quarry through the corridors, barely pausing to test the air at each intersection before choosing a direction. He has long since outdistanced the O*N*E soldiers aiding him in the search.

He slows, sharp teeth flashing in a predatory smile as he turns his head back and forth. "I know you're here," he says. One of his hands flex, razor sharp claws at the ready. "How about you come out and play?"

Above him, the little blob clings to the ceiling and slowly lowers itself toward him. It hurls itself at him, slapping against his neck like a lamprey. Just as quickly it leaps to the ground, narrowly avoiding an angry swipe from Sabretooth. He snarls angrily, a purplish bruise forming on his neck while he crouches down, prepared to pounce upon the thing. "That's your free shot," he says. "You're not getting another."

The angry growl changes into a chuckle, however, when he notices that the creature is flopping around, little bits of it breaking open and spattering against the floor as it struggles to hold itself together. "What's the matter, eat something that didn't agree with you?"

He casually walks up to the blob and watches it contort a little longer. "For what it's worth, I'm not too fond of those little robots in my blood, either."

His foot comes smashing down upon it, smashing it into jelly.

* * * * * * *

Later...

"Banned from the Conquistador for life?" Emma says, lounging comfortably in her office chair as she talks with Kitty. Behind her, a makeshift wall has been erected to cover the hole made earlier by her and Peter. "You really have gotten under Ms. Cooper's skin, haven't you? In a weaker moment I'd be tempted to count myself proud."

Kitty groans, both at the situation and Emma's questionable compliment. "Val took it a lot further than that. She's ordered the O*N*E to strip it of anything not needed to keep it in the air. "

"Tragic," Emma replies in a voice that suggests she finds it anything but. "She can raid Rogue's new headquarters to her heart's content, after she's cleaned the mess that thing left behind." She wrinkles her nose in memory of the noxious aroma. "For the moment, my hands are busy with other matters, not the least of which is calming the students after another attack on the mansion she's failed to avert. Given the funeral tomorrow, it could hardly have come at a worse time."

"Are they okay?"

"As well as can be expected, which is less than I'd like. Tomorrow should at least provide a degree of closure for them, which may help."

Kitty gives a slight nod. "Hopefully. I'm not sure how much more the kids can take."

Emma seems to consider something for a moment, the look on her face sending the hairs on the back of Kitty's neck standing. "There is one other thing, I'm afraid," the White Queen says.

"And what would that be?" Kitty asks, expression guarded.

"Reports have recently come to my attention that the Superhuman Registration Act conflict is over. Captain America surrendered to the authorities a few hours ago."

Kitty stares at Emma. "Oh, my God..."

"Officially, the X-Men are remaining neutral, but we can no longer remain silent on the matter. I've arranged for you to appear on a live televised debate to represent our position."

"With...?"

"Tony Stark," Emma says simply. "Do try not to embarrass us."

* * * * * * *

"Thank God that's over," Kitty says to herself as she shuts her bedroom door behind her. "And thank God my legs are working again." She walks past her bed and into the washroom, lost in thought.

"Hank's going to want to pick me apart piece by piece tomorrow to make sure there weren't any other nasty side-effects of that thing going through me."

A soft voice touches the edge of her consciousness, and Kitty jerks her head to the side, alarmed. "Who's there?"

She gets no answer.

"Great, now I'm jumping at shadows." Kitty turns on the sink tap and cups her hands underneath the water, letting it pool up before splashing it on her face. "I'm more tired than I thought."

Kitty wipes the water away from her face and rubs at her eyes. When she opens them again, her jaw instantly drops and her eyes become wide with shock

"Hiya Roomie..."

* * * * * * *

Kitty looks in horror at the reflection in the mirror, which is not her own. In its place is the image of Illyana Rasputin, leering back like a mischievous specter. She is wearing her classic yellow and black X-Men training uniform, arms crossed before her expectantly. Her blonde hair is straight and perfect, the way Kitty always remembered it, and there is a wicked, smug gleam in her eyes.

"...miss me?"

Next: Sound Bites!


Notes:

The Hand transferred the personalities of Kitty, Sabretooth and Logan during Wolverine vol. 2 #128

Emma Frost boosted Hellion's telekinesis at the end of New X-Men #31, enabling him to pull off large-scale feats, but severely affecting his ability to fine tune his control.


THE CAT'S MEOWS

It's great to see that there is some attention paid to Kitty in this fandom. I've adored the character for ages and it's so rare to find a wonderful series like yours. Will we be seeing what happens to Kitty after Giant-Sized Atonishing? Is she coming back?

I love the layout of the fic as well, reads just like the comics except without, well, the images, but it is still awesome nevertheless.

And yes! I also love that Kitty's powers aren't potrayed as entirely defensive and can be used well offensively (that fight against Kang's robots, wow!)

Anyway, cannot wait for the next issue!

BelieveInDreams

Thank you, Dreams! Fortunately, I'm still a ways from Kitty's unfortunate departure from comics, and with any luck by the time I catch up to that point Marvel will have already brought her back. Either way, I do have plans for the title while she's away.

Exploring Kitty's powers has been a lot of fun and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to use them. I'm glad you've enjoyed seeing her take it beyond simple defense here.

This has been an interesting read. I must say -even though it is a fan fic, and you can make up anything- I really appreciate the history you back up the characters with.

I'm looking forward to see your work on post GIANT SIZE ASTONISHING... and whatever event you fit inbetween. Thank you for creating these, and i wish you best of luck in future writting.

Kumiko212

Thanks, Kumiko! Keeping in line with Marvel's continuity is going to be tough post GSAXM, but I have a few ideas for that. I'm glad you've enjoyed the historical elements I've included in my stories. I try to make each issue seem as much like it could have been published alongside the other titles as possible, and it's always a fun challenge.

Nice update, It was great to see Kitty team up with her fellow X-men. I mean one is one of the original ones and another is a former New Mutant. :D

Best of both worlds in my opinion. :D

Also I did enjoy Kitty conversations with Sabertooth and Val Cooper, it shows how tough Kitty Can be and how she doesn't back down from a challenge.

Please keep up the good work upon this great series. ;)

Wolvmbm

Thank you, Wolvmbm! Even though this is a solo title, there will always be the potential for the X-Men to appear so long as she's part of the team. Keep your eyes peeled for issue twenty, which should be an especially fun treat!