Disclaimer: Not my characters (mostly), this is just for entertainment!
It was later in the evening before she was ready. Xavier had spent most of the time since she had left him working on the mental blocks on almost everyone in the Institute. Now, if the Phoenix came calling on anyone, he should pick up on it. Kurt didn't talk to her for the rest of the day; he said he needed space to think. She didn't blame him, she should have told him anything she had learnt the moment she had learnt it.
Rogue thought back to her dreams, the fragments of memories that she was picking up from people in her mind while she slept; she knew Xavier's theory would work, but the thought of getting to know all of the personalities in her mind so well, she was afraid she'd loose herself in the process. She had enough memories to easily outlive Xavier and Logan and that was only the memories that were fresh from when she absorbed the person or the memories she had found to activate someone's powers. The rest of the lives she had absorbed she pushed away not wanting to be overwhelmed, but that was a mistake, one of many.
Rogue didn't want to be so intimately aware of everyone in her head but she knew she wasn't doing this for herself, there was a bigger picture and she had already picked her first goal; Sinestre.
She had a very familiar feeling towards Essex though she had never met the woman before in person. Janette only saw the women as an evil witch, Eric saw her as an exotic genius, ruthless but genius. But there were more, someone else in her mind knew her in a very painful way. Rogue knew something for sure, Essex took Angel and now they can't find him using Cerebro. This was his last chance to be found.
Rogue exhaled soothingly and closed her eyes as she placed the Cerebro headgear over her head and sat cross legged on the floor.
"This is gonna be different." Rogue said to the room.
"Yes, Rogue. Now, you must concentrate." Xavier voice replied from somewhere behind her.
"How do you suggest Ah start?" She asked.
"Start with my powers, activate them and use them to navigate your way through the personalities, it will help you to distinguish between what are your memories and what are theirs." Rogue understood, at the lake she was reliving first hand other people's memories to activate their powers but then those memories now felt like hers, this way she just needed to playback and run through the memories to make sure there were no more major surprises and repressed memories that would catch her off guard at some point in the future.
Rogue concentrated on Xavier and on his voice. She recalled his moment, now hers, when his power of telepathy activated.
"Ah'm ready." She told him.
"Good." Xavier replied. "Who shall we start with?" He asked her.
"Let start with the new girl in the class," Rogue replied drolly, Xavier and Rogue got to work.
He jumped in through the broken roof window and landed with an elegant roll almost twenty feet below on the hard concrete. There were a few odd looking plants scattered around the room most of which looked like large Venus fly traps, carnivorous. There was a musty smell in the room that he associated with disuse.
He cursed silently. It was another dead end. His informant was right though, she was here at some point but there was nothing left, she had traded in for new digs. He wandered about the room briefly in a vain hope of gaining more information or clues as to her new hideout.
Rogue gasped and panted. It had taken an hour but she'd done it, she had relived Jan's life but at a highly accelerated pace thanks to Xavier's powers and it was an emotional rollercoaster. She had seen everything from infant years all the way to when she had absorbed her in the basement. Most of it was a nice life; a loving family and a baby brother that adored her, good friends, doing well in school, first loves and falling in love. Parts of it were hard to bear witness to; bullying in the playground, hiding her brother's mutation, the general self loathing of growing up as a teenager, the death of her housemate, the heart break...
Rogue pulled off the helmet and wiped hot tears off of her face with the sleeve of her shirt. As soon as the material touched her face she got flashes of the life she just viewed. Someone caressing her face gently, a kiss, soft and another passionate and more. Rogue felt new tears falling. She had always hated the physical limitations of her powers but the endless parade of people in her mind who didn't even appreciate the slightest touch of another person, a hug without fear; it made her angry that she would never be able to witness it for herself and that instead she would live with seeing things through other's eyes and other's emotions, having other people's memories that she didn't want stuck in her head-
"Are you alright?" Logan's voice came through the intercom. She looked up from the centre of the Danger Room at Logan in the control room who had been watching her. "Kid, are you alright?" She looked at him with pure determination.
"Ah'm fine." Logan nodded and Rogue put back on the helmet and closed her eyes to resume.
She now knew everything about this girl that should be a stranger to her, it was a horrible violation to know so much about someone but Rogue now felt affection towards the girl, she understood her and that was the control she was looking for.
"Rogue," Xavier spoke to her, "You should take a moment. Living someone else's life, even as quick as that, can be upsetting."
"Ah said Ah'm fine." Rogue said crossly.
"I'm only here to help, Rogue; to guide you." Rogue released a shaky breath.
"Ah know, Professor, and Ah'm sorry, but Ah am sick and tired of chasing my tail on this; Ah need answers." Rogue half apologised to him.
"Very well." He accepted her answer. "But why him?" Rogue didn't hesitate to answer.
"He knows or knew Essex." She said with a shrug.
"I must warn you, there may be undesired consequences of getting to him so well." He told her. Rogue grew a little cautious with a frown.
"Like what?" She asked.
"You might start to like him." Xavier said with a hint of grin in his voice. Rogue huffed.
"Ah doubt that very much." She took no heed to his warning and resumed, first focussing on Xavier's powers, then Magneto's persona.
"That's dark..." She let out a long whistle of respect. "Like, majorly dark." She wasn't sure what else she could add to that. "The least she coulda done was tell you before now." Kurt nodded.
"Ja." He stood on the edge of the railings of the Gazebo. "They all could have." He thought of Magneto, Mystique and the Professor as well as Rogue.
"How are you taking it, Blue?" Tabitha asked. Kurt confided in her because she was always easy to talk to, plus she cornered him and wouldn't leave him alone until he told her what had gotten him down. She said it's a friend's job to be a pain in the behind. Kurt shrugged with a bit of an unexpected grin.
"If I had grown up looking normal, you would have had to come up with a different nickname for me." Tabitha jumped up from her seat.
"Or, I'd be calling you blue anyway." Kurt agreed they had no way of knowing when he would have mutated. "Besides, this way you only remember being like this;" She gestured to all of him, "Think how strange it would've been to just wake up one day with a tail!" Kurt laughed reluctantly.
"Ja, and slowly turning blue and fuzzy." Tabitha laughed with him.
"I think the teen years are hard enough without all that extra drama!" She barked out between breaths as they both almost fell over laughing. It took them a while to control themselves and the moment became serious once more.
"It just feels like a violation," Kurt said while shrugging uncomfortably in his skin, "Why did he do that to me?" He let the question hang in the air never expecting an answer. He was still standing on the railing looking out on the water; she was standing next to him but on the ground level and looking out at the same. Tabitha stood there with him for a long time.
Eventually, she turned around and leaned her back over the railing to look at him. She stared quietly until Kurt started to feel self-conscious.
"What is it?" He asked. She smiled up at him.
"I always thought that you rocked the fuzz and the pointy ears, Blue." She didn't give him too much time to let that get to his head; she bounced off the railing and held out a hand. "Now, let's rejoin the party." Kurt hopped off the railing and took her hand. He pulled her into a quick one-armed hug and teleported them back to the mansion.
He stepped in to the warehouse and his eyes immediately went to the unconscious bodies of his Acolytes. Gambit was at his feet, Pyro, Colossus and Sabretooth spread out on the floor space. There weren't many people that could take out all of his team in one go.
"Rogue..." His eyes went to a fifth body lying unconscious in the room, a second Gambit. He didn't have enough time to even react before the Gambit at his feet transformed into Rogue, she had been using Mystique's powers. Rogue's hand touched his face and everything went black...
"It's a start, Rogue. But these were the fresh memories when you absorbed him. You must go much deeper than this to get control." Rogue took in a sharp breath and did as Xavier told her. Rogue dived back in guided by Xavier so that in seconds, months of memories were flying by.
He had followed Gambit to the Worthington mansion, he waited patiently for Gambit to steal what he was ordered to steal then he captured Mesmero. He ordered Mastermind to invade his mind and take the information by force. The relic was half of an item called the 'Spider Stone'. The other half resided in London, and when combined, they would form a key. A key that could potentially release the most powerful mutant the world has ever known; En Sabah Nur, also known as Apocalypse.
Mesmero escaped his confines with the artefact, there was only one possible place he would go with it. Eric was resolute that this mutant, if indeed the most powerful the world has ever seen then he would certainly have his own agenda; Eric would die before he would take orders from someone else. They wasted no time travelling to London. They arrived at the Tisdale museum, Eric magnetically knocked the front doors in.
"Fan out, secure the building." He ordered his Acolytes while he took the elevator to the second floor, and then took the elevator.
It was easy to track Mesmero, the artefact he had was like a metallic beacon. The outside was ceramic and painted. Made to look dull, but the inside; the inside was different; it was laced with layers of Adamantium. He rounded the corner and came face to face with Mesmero. He dragged forward the elevator that had been floating beside him using his powers of magnetism and chased Mesmero.
Mistakenly, he thought he had caught Mesmero just in time before he could combine the two halves but that notion was short lived. Magneto saw Mesmero's half of the Spider Stone lying on the floor and summoned it to him with magnetism; but unexpectedly the magnetism was turned to energy as the second half vibrated and broke out of its display cabinet from across the room to combine with its missing half as vigorously as two opposing magnets. He was too late. The, now whole, Spider Stone glowed with violent green energy. For a split second, from the fear of the unknown, Eric thought he was going to die when the blast threw him across the room and into a wall. He only lost consciousness for a few seconds, but the next thing he remembered was watching a giant glowing green spider walking out of the museum. Since it was created by a magnetic field, Eric made a last ditch attempt to pull it apart again by magnetism but it only took him along with it as it made its own exit from the museum. He wasn't going to be able to stop it.
Eric made it down to the street level with the Acolytes and immediately spotted Charles Xavier. He turned to his Acolytes.
"I don't care what it takes, destroy that spider!" He straightened out in anger and checked his badly bruised arm for movement making sure that nothing was broken.
"Stop, Magnus! We don't know anything about it!" Charles ordered him.
"I know enough, that is one key that will not be unlocking any doors!" Eric shouted back as he flew off after the creature. Gambit had managed to slow it down, and considering he was the only one his Acolytes to manage that, it put Gambit in a favourable light.
The spider emerged from the bus wreckage and Eric put his two hands against its head with the strongest magnetic fields he could produce. He did not heed Xavier's warning and focussed on destroying it. He forced the energy of the spider back into the stone with great difficulty and then, like the magnetic wave from a nuclear bomb, he pulsed a shockwave through the stone between his two hands to kill all remaining electrical energy stored in it. There was nothing mystical about it, it was simply a machine but it contained technology he had never seen before. Eric fell to his knees and hands panting as he dropped the stone on the ground.
"You've done the very thing Mesmero wanted." Charles told him but Eric shook his head. He didn't want to hear.
"No." He said with a pant as Colossus helped him to stand. "The key," He shrugged the Russian off, "Has been destroyed." He said resolutely.
"And he knew that only you had the power to do it." Eric's eyes widened; Charles had read Mesmero's mind. Eric started to feel unwell. "That wasn't just a key, it was a guardian designed to prevent Apocalypse's release and with its destruction, the second door will now open. He used you, Magnus, from the beginning." Charles informed him further of his failure, he must have enjoyed being witness to it. Eric acted rashly, but had it been a key designed to open the door, at least he and his could stop it, which was more than what Charles and his X-men could accomplish.
She went further back before this failing and saw Eric's desire to make mutants public to end the shameful hiding by the planned attack on the X-men. Wanda, being saved by Pietro. Rogue moved on, soon she was Eric forming the Acolytes...
"Where are my family?" The large man asked him. Eric floated above him. Piotr Rasputin was strapped to a chair, his eyes closed, talking to himself. Mastermind stood behind him, planting memories. The Russian was a simple man from a rural area; he had no incentive to join him so Eric created one.
Eric left the room, content with his plan. The world would soon see mutants for what they were, the superior species on the planet and when the time comes he would have the most powerful on his side. He had given the X-men the opportunity to join him in Hawaii and they refused; some he didn't need but others he wanted. Charles would never join him, regretfully, but he had hope for others; most notably Jean Grey and the Rogue. But Jean Grey was being held back by Xavier, it would only be a matter of time when her power alone would overthrow Xavier. And Rogue...
He was a fool to leave the child in Mystique's care, she was the most valuable asset the Brotherhood had; the potential for limitless power. It was very disappointing when she left in favour of the X-men. But she was young, she had yet to experience the cruelties of life. She would come to realise the truth too, that mutants were superior; she and the world would see that inevitably...
Rogue ripped the helmet off.
"Arrogant monster!" She let the helmet hit the ground and scattered back from it like it was made of fire. Xavier's voice brought her back to where she was.
"You know, that piece equipment is very expensive, Rogue." His comment shocked her back to reality. She signalled to Logan in the control room that everything was fine and slowly crept forward towards the headgear once more. She picked it up and was about to put it back on her head but stopped and held it down on her lap. She turned her head and talked into her shoulder.
"He only ever saw me as a weapon." She said to him. It's not like she thought that Magneto ever had warm fuzzy feelings for her, in fact that would be disturbing, but he didn't even see her a person, just as a thing he wanted to collect. "He's so far gone down this path of righteousness that he had stopped thinking about mutants as people. He's as bad as everyone else."
"And you need to see why." Xavier replied. Rogue groaned petulantly and put the helmet back on.
It took her hours to get further back. Past the Rebirth Chambers, past Hawaii. His steel heart of abandoning Wanda at the mental institution with Pietro bearing witness, but she had become too difficult for him to care for and maintain his pursuit for world domination. In his eyes, he was doing the best thing for Wanda and for the world by leaving her there.
She felt sick when she had to face Mystique's presentation of an opportunity to him. She told him that Destiny had a vision, of a mutant child that could eventually hold in her hand the power of every mutant she touches. It wasn't long before Magneto suggested for Mystique to legally adopt the four year old that featured in her vision.
Then she was in Germany...
Eric felt like he had learned something from the experiment but it did not have the desired result. He wanted to bring power forward, not just physically mutations. He convinced himself that he had simply tried it out on the wrong child. He stared at the screaming baby and walked away trying to decide what to do with it. The baby would have to be raised in secret. Then Mystique came and took him, she was frantic and emotional; she would tell everyone what he did. Magneto could see all chances of convincing other mutants to fight by his side slipping through his fingers, so he chased her. She could not keep the baby as her proof, but the wolves found her first. The baby fell into the gorge. Mystique cried for him but Magneto accepted the child's fate, it was for the best. He left Mystique on the bridge to grieve...
Eric grew obsessed. He wasn't old but he was getting older. He went there seeing if there was anything to learn that would assist his quest for eternal youth and limitless power. That was where he had met Charles Xavier for the first time; although Charles had a much more advanced understanding of genetics than he had. He was surprised when Charles had brought up the subject of mutants before he did, but once he had learned of his powers of telepathy, everything became clear. As soon as they had established that they both had special powers, he requested that Charles would not read his mind; and he obliged.
The lecturer had been interesting, she focussed on ways to reverse aging of cells and even suggested the possibility of mutating cells and even enhancing cell function. There was something about the lecturer that didn't sit well with Charles, but Eric found her to be captivating. He introduced himself to her as Magnus Maximoff. Her name was Claudine Renko...
Rogue gasped again, and signalled to Logan.
"What is it, Stripes?" His voice came over the intercom. Rogue looked up at him.
"Get Hank and Kitty to find out everythin' they can on a Dr. Claudine Renko; see if there's a link to a Dr. Natasha Essex, specialisin' in genetics!" She shouted up to him. "It may be our last hope to find Angel." Logan nodded to her.
"I remember her, her ideas were radical. But the only way to prove them was to sacrifice people, and morality." Xavier told Rogue. Xavier's voice had changed.
"Did you read her mind?" Rogue asked as she settled back to continue exploring.
"No." Xavier replied. "She was considered a colleague in the field of Genetics; I was, at the time, more concerned with my own personal ethics on plagiarism." Xavier replied sadly and regretfully.
"Pity." Rogue replied, he could have prevented what had happened to Kurt had he been more liberal with his gifts.
"She..." Xavier interrupted her thoughts. "She made people uncomfortable." Rogue huffed a laugh of disbelief and tilted her head with a frown.
"Well, certainly not Eric." Rogue told him as she relived their relationship in unfortunate intimate detail. But as soon as the relationship started, it ended. Rogue moved past that as fast as possible.
Eric was training as a doctor. He had met Mystique when she was young and impressionable. He filled her head with romantic idealistic ideas of a world where mutant's ruled supreme and didn't have to hide. He wanted that world for himself as well.
He learned things from Mystique; he encouraged her to be his spy. That was how he first learnt of Operation Rebirth. He had a small faction of mutants following him, though he didn't even know he was their leader. Power crept up on him so slowly, he didn't initially seek it out.
He tried to forget his past life and move on but there was an underlying bitterness in him from long before...
He had been separated from his parents for months. He was told that they were dead but refused to accept it. The ice cold rain was pouring down hard against the side and roof of the wooden shed that was supposed to be considered shelter. The windows were long gone and replaced with bars at the start of winter to increase their suffering in the over-crowded prison. He had been forced to wear a gold star, along with others of the same fate and faith, and was pushed out into the rain and forced to stand in line with the rest. Months of malnourishment had made the simple task of standing still an impossible feat; Eric faltered to his knees, and quickly had a gun placed to the bottom of his skull.
There was no warning, their captors using any excuse to reduce the camp's population. Eric did not want to accept this to be his end. Fear and adrenaline mixed together and he suddenly knew he was meant for something greater. The gun clicked to execute him, but instead the gun back fired, destroying his would-be executioner's right hand, just as an allied plane flew close to the ground...
She sang to him in Polish, he was too young to remember the lyrics but he remembered how they made him feel; safe and loved. She rocked him in her arms after a nightmare, singing. His ear was pressed to her chest as the hum of the tune mixed with her heartbeat lulled him to sleep...
Tears formed in Rogue's eyes as she took off the Cerebro helmet for the last time that day. She sighed.
"You're right, before the camp he was a sweetheart." She told Xavier, having relived his infancy and childhood in entirety. "I don't think anyone could be expected to go through that and not be affected." She heard him agree with her.
"His memory with his mother; it's one of the first memories I gleaned from him, it was why, for right or wrong, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt." Rogue nodded.
"We can't afford that any more, Professor." She said sadly as she dried her eyes. "Thank you for helping me." Rogue stood up and picked up the helmet.
Click, click, click, click.
All the weapons in the danger room moved as she stood. She looked up at the control room.
"We're done, Logan." Rogue called up. "Ah'm fine." She watched Logan press a few buttons and the guns stood down.
'Danger Room disarmed' A disembodied computer voice reverberated through the room.
"Just in time, too. The Professor's lookin' for you. Didya get what you needed?" Logan asked through the Intercom.
"Ah got enough." She called up to him as she dusted off the helmet and checked the large empty room in case she left anything behind as she walked backwards to the door.
"Good. Who were you talkin' to?" He asked her.
"Just thinking out loud, Logan." Rogue turned her back on the room and walked out the door.
End of Chapter 63
A.N. Making up time here with my lack of updates! Leave a review below, it calls to you... :)