The darkness outside was ripped apart by lightening. Thunders roared. It seemed the sky would fall apart. No one dared to leave the refugee of their houses. For days, Bayville had being incommunicated and in darkness. The raging storm had plunged the peaceful suburb into chaos.
Ororo Munroe stared outside through one of the tall windows of the Xavier Institute's dining room where, at the moment, the students and teachers were having dinner together. The storm's pattern had changed. It still seemed as fearsome and destructive as it had been the first few days, but she knew better. Its edge was gone and it was just a matter of time before nature recovered from its sudden madness.
As if angered by her thoughts, a thunder lashed across the sky with such force the entire building seemed to shudder. The whispering conversations silenced and the students glanced about them in fear. Dozens of houses had succumbed to the raging winds. Nothing short of a bomb could demolish the Mansion, but the children still feared.
Professor Charles Xavier would have been the first to put them at ease but his mind was elsewhere. There was something wrong with his powers. He had been unable to use them properly since the storm started, seven days ago. There was some kind of force around them that interfered with his mental waves, much as the walls of a cliff disturbed the waves of sound. And just in the same way, his thoughts would bounce back to him and to nowhere till they died out.
Jean was experiencing similar difficulties…And now, together as well, they were nursing very aching heads. Something was approaching and it was frightening not knowing what…
Ten minutes passed since the fearful thunder and some of the mutants started talking again in hushed whispers. The conversation was controlled. There was a lack of enthusiasm in every spoken word. It wasn't just nervousness or stress. It was sadness in some; out of respect in others. Respect for those closest to the mourned person, for that night, a year had passed since Rogue disappeared without a trace.
Neither Kurt nor Kitty raised their eyes from their plates as they nibbled their food. Scott barely talked. Jean tried to do everything she could to act normal, if for the younger student's sake; a brave attempt but painfully transparent. Like all of them, she was hanging on by a thread.
Logan pulled back from the table, the legs of his chair screeching as they dragged through the tiles. The sound made them all jump, but he didn't seem to notice. He stormed out without a word. Nobody followed him. He blamed himself for what had happened. He blamed himself mercilessly for not being able to find her. He had never stopped looking…until the storm broke. Stepping out with a metal skeleton was suicide…Being locked up while 'Rogue still lost out there' was making him dangerously…testy.
"Ororo…" The Professor's tense voice startled them. "There's someone outside!"
"What? With this storm? Who is it?"
"I do not know."
As if his words had been a command of some kind, the most experienced mutants at the table jumped to their feet and ran to the doors. Under the intermittent light of the raging elements, they could see, at the edge of the garden, the gates. They had been yanked open and were being whipped savagely by the wind. The oldest members of the team walked slowly outside. The rest was commanded to stay put, and they gladly obeyed.
Logan led the possession, running with his unsheathed claws towards the main gates. It was dangerous for him to be outside. The violent rain did not bother him, but the sizzling lightening had killed many since the storm started. With his metal skeleton, he could be another victim if they hit hard enough. But Logan didn't care. He needed to move. Fighting this intruder would be the perfect way to blow off some steam….
A strong wind blew and the charging mutant halted to a stop. Water kept pouring in torrents on him but the sky had suddenly silenced. He could hear the sound of steps splashing in the muddy ground, moving closer and closer. A figure emerged from the darkness and the blood drained from his faces as his eyes confirmed what his nose had notified seconds before.
Rogue, the child who had disappeared a year ago without leaving a trace for him to follow, was standing right there, gazing upon him with a wild hostile gaze. He did not move, fearing it was a vision that could banish if he as much as breathed too loudly. A nightmare, this was. Or perhaps, it was reality and she was a ghost coming to claim revenge for their failure as protectors.
The evil spirit moaned and fell face-first into the mud.
The dark clouds that had been punishing Bayville for seven long days dispersed. The moon reclaimed the night sky. The lights on the mansion and the streets slowly flickered to life, one by one.