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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 patrons had changed. It still seemed as fearsome and destructive as it had been the first few days, but she knew better. The storm's edge was gone. It was calming down and she knew it would stop soon.

As if angered by her thoughts, a sudden thunder roared in the sky with such force that the entire building seemed to shudder. The whispering conversations were silenced and the students looked around in fear. Many houses had collapsed because of the storm. Despite all of its sophisticated technology, the Mansion was still another building.

Professor Charles Xavier would have been the first to put the children at ease. The Mansion was not just another building. It was not made primarily of stone and concrete, but of steel. He knew the only thing capable of destroying it was itself. The storm did not concern him. But something did.

There was something wrong with his powers. He had been unable to use them properly for the last five days. There was some kind of echo within his head every time he tried to connect mentally with anybody outside of the Institute grounds. And now, he was starting to have problems even inside his own home. And he was not the only one. Jean was experiencing similar difficulties. It was all highly upsetting.

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 partly sadness and in, other cases, out of respect for those closest to the mourned person. That night, it would be a year since one of the team disappeared without a trace.

Neither Kurt nor Kitty raised their eyes from their plates. Scott barely talked. Jean tried to do everything she could to fill in the empty space the adults seemed to have vacated.

Logan left the table suddenly, the legs of his chair screeching as he pushed it back. The sound stabbed at their ears. He stormed out without a word. Nobody followed. It was dangerous to be around him now. He blamed himself for what had happened. He blamed himself mercilessly for not being able to find her. Being locked inside because of the storm was making it even worst.

"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, all the mutants at the table jumped to their feet and ran to the main entrance. The doors were open, whipped about by the wind, slamming noisily against the walls. Some of the students ran outside. Others lingered inside, frightened by the impenetrable darkness that seemed to swallow their companions and that laid like a stalking predator passed the thrashing doors.

Logan lead the chase, 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 the steam.

The lights suddenly flickered on and the charging mutants halted to a stop, half blinded. Water kept pouring in torrents on them but now, the sky was in silence. They could hear the sound of their own hearts pounding on their ears and the sounds of steps splashing in the muddy grounds behind the the light of the lamps. A figure emerged from the darkness. The blood drained from their faces and they gasped in shock.

She had disappeared without a trace for a year. Not the Police or Logan or Cerebro had been able to locate her. Many feared the worst had happened. They had cried for her. They had dealt with her apparent death. They had buried her in their minds. But now, shuffling towards them, her cloths shredded and her skin as pale as the white light of the lamps, was Rogue.

She stood there, watching them with a wild hostile gaze. The wind blowing behind her carried a putrid smell. No one moved, as if they feared she was a vision that could banish if they as much as breath too loudly. A nightmare, this was. Or perhaps, it was reality and she was nothing but a ghost brought before them by some evil power, a hunted soul coming to demand an explanation for their abandonment and failure.

The evil spirit moaned and fell face-first into the mud.

The rain stopped and the clouds above slowly dispersed. The moon reclaimed the night sky. The lights on the mansion and the streets slowly flickered to life, one by one.