Until the End: Dreams & visions of an undeniable future lead two women on the adventure of a lifetime. Together, they hope to somehow prevent the upcoming tragedy that could leave the entire world in disarray. OC Alert!

A/N: The beginning of this chapter is, quite obviously, a flashback, a memory. But, the rest is a back and forth telepathic conversation. The lines in italic are Robyn's thoughts while those in bold belong to Emma Frost. It goes back and forth smoothly, so it's easy to follow.

XoXoX

"I swallowed my breath and went deep, I was diving. Diving. I surfaced and all my being was enlightened. Now I'm... I'm in hiding."- Pearl Jam

Until the End

Chapter Twenty-Seven

-Robyn-

"This is incredibly stupid. I don't know how I let you talk me into this."

She glanced back over her shoulder momentarily, her features almost ghostly white under the bright florescent lighting. Her lips quirked and she almost smiled before she turned her gaze ahead again, hiding her expression. "You promised that you'd come along, Rob. I know that it's hard for you to believe but-"

"Oh, shove it," I hissed, shaking my head as I slipped into the back door behind her. The building itself seemed almost empty, and I half expected our footsteps to echo on the aged gym floor. "Okay, where's this swimming pool?" I found myself asking, grimacing when she turned those too-large eyes onto my form.

She motioned to a stairwell vaguely, her wet sneakers squeaking slightly as she began to descend the stairs. Inhaling, I started down the stairs after her slowly, wondering why in the hell I was even there.

This memory seems very important to you.

It is.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not when you realized that you were a mutant?

Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Hmm. I see. I suppose that it had a significant impact on your life, then? After all, discovering something so important about yourself must have been quite traumatic.

I had Lex with me, though.

She seems to have been one of the many constants in your life. Hmm. My, aren't you just so lucky?

I don't get why you keep talking to me with that condescending tone, you haughty bitch.

Hrmph. Me, haughty? I'm afraid that you've confused me with someone that actually cares about you, Robyn.

Then fuck off, will you?

Oh, if only that were a real possibility. You see, Charles Xavier is a dear, dear friend of mine. When he asked that I assist him, I simply couldn't refuse.

Right, well, how about you pass along a message to him. Okay?

I suppose that I could-

Tell him I said to have someone kick you in your bitchy face for me.

My, aren't we aggressive for someone that's supposedly completely comatose. Amazing how modern medicine can be rebuked through simple telepathy.

You're probably the type of person that likes to hear herself talk, aren't you? Walk around, all plastic and fake, and just soak it all up.

Right on several counts, darling. However, I would like to stress that this body is the best that money could possibly buy.

And that makes it better how? Oh, that's right! It doesn't. Now, go the fuck way, will you?

Hmm. Oh, how I wish that I could, my dear, sweet friend. Unfortunately, it is time for you to wake up.

I've thought about it, and I've decided that I'm going to rest for a bit longer. So, get out an alarm clock, set it to snooze, and do the world a favor by jumping off of a cliff. Okay? Thanks!

Something tells me that you don't exactly enjoy our friendly chats.

Really? Why, I wonder whatever gave you that idea! You must be the smartest woman alive!

I do so enjoy how hard you try to unravel me, Robyn. You think that these snide, hurtful comments will cause me to go away, to give up. But, you're wrong.

Well, at least I'm making life interesting for you.

Indeed, there is that, at least. Charles has been quite busy back at his School. With Cerebro.

Kind of fucked up how I can hear your voice in my head. What's even worse is the fact that I can practically feel you salivating at the thought of using Cerebro. I guess counseling me is a small price to pay.

Oh, how right you are. However, I must stress that sitting in this stuffy hospital room is growing old. These doctors have assured me that your body's accepted the procedure, that your muscles have already recovered. And yet-

I get it, okay? I'm fine, but I'm hiding. I don't need this psychobabble bullshit.

Oh, but apparently you do. Your friends are so bloody annoying, you know. Though I must admit that I've grown rather fond of LeBeau. What a fine specimen-

You bitch! I swear if you lay one hand, or, hell, your disgusting slutty mind on him, I'll knock your capped teeth out faster than you say Sak's Fifth Avenue.

Ah, glad to see that we're finally making some progress. From what I've seen in your memories, and my, aren't they simply tantalizing, you're involved with the devil-eyed man.

Shut up. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I would think that something like your relationship, your supposed love for him would be enough to send you cartwheeling out of your hospital bed. Certainly, he is extremely attractive. Perhaps-

You really don't give up, do you?

Not on your life, darling. Not on your life.

Poor choice of words, or ironic?

Perhaps a mixture of both, if I'm painfully honest. After all, what sort of life is it stuck inside some shell, some worthless body. Do you really expect for this to last? Sure, your loved ones are gathered around you now, awaiting your return but sooner or later they're going to move on, to forget about you and let these machines look after you. But, then again, maybe that's what you want?

Blah, blah, blah. You never shut up.

After talking to your friend Alexa, I can certainly see why the two of you have gotten along so splendidly over the years. I have to admit that it's been quite entertaining to see how rebellious she is regarding any rules or regulations.

Sounds about right.

Though, I have to admit, I find it rather amazing that she isn't still locked up in an institution. The woman is clearly off of her rocker if she's seriously harboring feelings for that mangy-

What?

Oh, that's right. I'd simply forgotten that you've been out of the loop for so very long now. While she certainly isn't boasting the relationship, I would fathom to say that she and her partner have grown close. Quite disturbing, if I do say so myself.

At least somebody's getting laid.

Hmm. Theoretically speaking, I could help you to achieve a mind-blowing orgasm that would seem so real that-

You are one creepy bitch.

Sex with a telepath is the most fantastic sex in the entire world. Imagine riding that coaster, wrapped in the arms of your lover and feeling every single thing that they felt? Every caress, every shudder, every stroke. It's overwhelming, really.

Explains why Xavier's a pimp.

My, aren't we the funny one? It interests me to realize just how easily you go from one emotional extreme to the next. I daresay it may be a sign that perhaps the procedure wasn't a complete success. My professional opinion is that the significant brain damage that you suffered hasn't been completely repaired.

My professional opinion is that you should eat shit and die. If you want a second opinion, I'm sure they'll be glad to tell you the same thing.

Do you not grow tired of these games? I'm sure that we could both find something more valuable to do with our time than to continue with these fruitless conversations.

Here's an idea: Go flip sand.

The longer you put this off, the longer that their plans will be pushed aside. You are being rather selfish, you know.

Plans? What plans?

The plans that you and Alexa worked out over nachos, the plans that the two of you worked out over beer, the very same plans that you two put into action not so long ago. Soon, the X-Men hope to strike at the heart of the Hellfire Club, thereby eliminating the threat known as the Phoenix.

How do you know when they plan to do anything more than dropkick you off of a balcony?

Lovely imagery, thank you. I know of their plans because I am now part of them. As the White Queen of the Hellfire Club-

Hold up, you're part of that crazy bullshit?

This certainly shouldn't come as a surprise after everything you've already learned about me.

The mental image you've shown me of you pretty much made me assume that you were a Playboy reject, if you want to know the truth.

How tacky.

Yeah, so is wearing all that white. My God, I can't imagine what it would be like if you were on your period and had some leakage problems.

Perhaps I should retreat and tell the others to forge on ahead without you. It sounds as if your presence will not be missed. With my assistance, they'll be able to breach the Hellfire Club and remove the threat with ease.

Reverse psychology is so not your thing.

What would you have me do then, Robyn? The world is a trying place. Everyday, more and more mutants are hunted down by these ignorant baboons, and yet our government continues to forge ahead in its ultimate goal to contain the mutant threat. To top it all off, apparently I am not the only one that has recognized the fact that Phoenix is a threat to all of us.

You know what? I don't know what I want you to do other than shut up. I'm tired. I'm so fucking tired and I just want to sleep for a bit longer.

Hmm. Charles has just informed me that they've gathered more information regarding the incident in Abramms. A man by the name of Essex had been to the school several weeks prior, apparently looking for new specimen.

Get to the point, blondey.

My point, Robyn, is that this same Essex has been officially linked to the facility that Alexa and her partner investigated; the very same complex that was destroyed the moment that it was discovered.

Xavier thought there was something weird going on there. Something about a lot of mutants?

Precisely. With the help of Cerebro, SHIELD's contacts, and a bit of my own investigation, Charles has discovered that the facility in question was indeed being overseen by the man legally known as Dr. Nathaniel Essex. It would seem that with a number of private donators...

He's been screwing around with mutants, hasn't he? Goddammit, why wouldn't someone know about him- this, before now though? He was at a high school for God's sake!

While he has been on SHIELD's radar for several years, both the US and Canadian government have had no issues with him- At least not his current alias. It seems that it has changed several times over the last seventy-five odd years.

Kind of old for an evil scientist, don't you think?

On the contrary, Mr. Essex is a mutant. What little SHIELD knows could fill up your small head, but they have verified that he does, at least, have the ability to slow his own aging process.

Lovely. Sounds like a blast.

What's even more disturbing, however, is that I have met the man many a time during casual meetings with the Club. I must admit, looking back, that I did wonder why I was unable to breach his mental shields. I was only ever able to skim his outermost mind, something that is a rarity. Of course, I'd assumed that it was due in part to that red-headed nuisance.

Jean Grey.

Don't be silly, darling. Whatever was left of Jean Grey died a long time ago. The disgusting organism that's been left behind is like some sort of parasite. No, the Phoenix is a force that... That we must conquer and eliminate before it is too late.

You said Essex had something to do with your Club, the Hellfire Club. What exactly was he doing there? Scouting for more mutants?

Possibly. But, I am afraid his main reason for joining us was to discuss his progress with Worthington's Cure. As you know, the Cure was not made to last, exactly. In fact, in the majority of mutants, its so-called effects began to fade after merely a month. However, it would seem that Essex has managed to personally perfect the serum.

Wait, I thought it was Shaw that had perfected the serum? That Shaw and...

That's right, darling. Shaw Industries and Frost Industries have been working together to perfect the mutant cure for well over a year now. However, I should stress that we were never able to perfect the serum. Unbeknownst to me, Essex was given a sample of the serum, as well as our research notes in order to, I suppose you could say, finish the project.

This is just one huge clusterfuck.

Amazingly, you and I both agree on the matter.

So, how does it feel to know that you might have played a huge part in what could turn out to be the downfall of mutantkind?

Oh, how I love your inability to mince words, Robyn. And, I suppose in a manner of speaking that my actions were quite hasty. My own greed and overall desire to raise in the ranks with the Club are mainly to blame. When I was inducted, I more or less gave consent for my own holdings, meaning Frost Industries, to be used for the good of the Club.

Fucked. Up.

Shall I continue, or would you prefer to continue pointing fingers?

I've got all the time in the world.

So you say. Hmm. Back to Essex- I was not aware until meeting with Charles just days ago that Essex was operating outside of the US. I haven't clue whether the rest of the Club was aware of the man's actions, but I do know that Shaw at least was made aware of the fact that the kind doctor was known to scout for test subjects. Vagrants and the like are generally considered ideal for such things, but apparently the man was hoping for better, fresher subjects.

Did he find any?

We can't be certain, at least not yet. But, Charles has been able to verify that the base in the Canadian Rockies was destroyed. Both Stark, that delightfully arrogant prick, and McCoy, that surprisingly intelligent beast, have tinkered with the strange objects that were used inside of the school in Abramms and against your friend and her partner.

And?

And, my dear, they've discovered something that is quite intriguing. Presumably, it would seem that Essex has been able to take the idea behind the mutant cure and diffuse it to the point where the differences are simply immeasurable.

What do you mean?

The mutant cure that Worthington Labs offered to the public was a DNA-suppressant. As I'm sure you're well aware, the mutant gene, commonly referred to as the X-Gene, is what actually causes a mutant to be... Well, a mutant. The serum that Worthington offered suppressed the X-Gene, but its results were rather lacking, generally lasting for only a few weeks, sometimes months.

Which is why they took it off of the market. It was only a temporary fix.

I must express that it would seem that Essex has perfected the serum that Frost and Shaw Industries had focused on. While I was not privy to all of the information, I cannot help but deduce such a thing.

Back to the things, the machines.

Yes, well, it would seem that Dr. Essex took his research one step further. A once-renowned geneticist, he manipulated the idea behind the mutant cure serum and turned it into an actual machine. We're quite sure that he must have had a great deal of help, simply because the theories alone behind such a venture are quite astounding. But, somehow he's managed to create machines that amplify a wave of energy that can negate mutations.

All mutations?

On the contrary. Preliminary reports hypothesize that these waves of energy disrupt the brain patterns, the thought processes behind most mutations. For example, there are several different types of mutants, and five distinct classes. Class one mutants generally have one minor mutation, generally a physical mutation that is hardly recognizable. Class two mutants are a bit more extreme, perhaps like a young child that greatly resembles a snake. Some class two mutants have psionic powers, generally ones that are not deemed too powerful, like mild empathy. Class three and four mutants, the slightly more aggressive kind, are grouped into two distinct categories. Physically mutated mutants are extremely different, their appearance startling. Your Beast would be a fine example. However, in the second category, there are many different types of mutants lumped together as one. Telepaths, firestarters, phasers, telekinetics, you...

The people that have to think to use their abilities? So it effects people whose brains are more directly related to their abilities, right?

Yes, and their emotions. You see, the part of the brain that controls emotions, the prefrontal cortex, requires a bit of stress on the mutant in question when using a psionically linked ability, such as telepathy. The main reason, from what anyone can truly gather, that there is no one supreme mutant, one that could literally wipe the rest of us off of the board is because the overworking of the prefrontal cortex can have dire results. In mild cases, it causes stress, irritability, sometimes body fatigue.

Extreme cases?

Extreme cases, though rare, seem to occur more highly in mutant populations than in non-mutant populations. Generally, there is a rapid decay in mental processes, which can sometimes lead to permanent brain damage. Sometimes manic depression, other times schizophrenia...

Wait, you said that there are five classes of mutants. You only mentioned four.

That is simply because class five mutants are extremely rare, so rare that only a handful have been documented in the last several decades.

But, what about them? Does the machine that Essex made affect them like everyone else?

It is presumed that it would affect them, at least in some way. But, considering that the only class five mutant that I've ever known of is Jean Grey, I'd rather not rely on a small machine that could easily be blown to bits. How about you?

Good point. Though maybe it could be used to knock some sense into your empty head.

Ah, I see we've returned to the insults. My, how I missed them.

You've filled me in now, Wonderbra lady. Go away now.

No, I am afraid that it's simply not an option. There are too many things, too many possibilities on the horizon for you to simply flake off when there are so many people here that claim to need you, Robyn. It is time to stop acting like a spoiled, selfish child and wake up.

Just leave me alone! Why can't you comprehend that? Too much time under the hair dryer when they colored those dark roots for you?

Think about it, Robyn. We already have the Phoenix to contend with, and she alone is quite a handful. I am still not sure how we could ever hope to take the woman down, but it's something that will be addressed in time. But now? Now we also have Essex to deal with. McCoy claims that it would only take a matter of months, perhaps a short year, to get something larger than a handful of machines operational.

What do you mean?

The Phoenix is a force that is unbelievably powerful. When coupled with the very real possibility of a widespread near elimination of mutant abilities, what do you think would happen to the X-Men's plan to take her down? If Essex hasn't started already, it's highly likely that he'll soon begin a campaign to build larger, more focused machine that could, hypothetically, temporarily reverse human evolution.

Instead of what Magneto did, trying to turn everyone into mutants... He could take it away?

Precisely. He could theoretically wipe out the world's most powerful mutants, leaving us completely weak and exposed. What do you think the anti-mutant groups would do then, darling?

Probably roll us over and screw us with a blunt phallus-shaped object.

I'm glad that you understand the seriousness of the situation. Now, wake up. They're expecting you.

Emma?

Yes, darling?

I suggest you leave the room.

Oh? Why is that?

As soon as possible, I'm going to kick you out a window.

Duly noted.