Chapter 1

A sudden shock burst through his frame, forcing the fibers of his muscles to contract all at once. His body arched backward into an unnaturally contorted position, even for him. His head flung back in a silent scream as his chest expanded, inflating his empty lungs. Then, as quickly as it had started, the electric jolt regressed and released his locked muscles, dropping him down with a loud thud.

The synapses in his brain had been jump-started into consciousness. At first, he felt like he was in more of a haze, like that short moment before you realize you're awake. But soon his senses began to clear through the dreamlike fog and take in his new surroundings.

A deep hum droned in his sensitive ears like a jet engine. Slow breaths brought a cool antiseptic-like smell through his nostrils. He cracked his eyes and was blasted with a white light that seemingly came from everywhere. Though his senses seemed to be working, the rest of his body tingled with numbness for minutes before he could feel anything through his hands and feet properly. He decided that it must be due to the delightful electrocution he just got.

While his body lay still, his thoughts began wander.

What had just happened? His memory was as fuzzy as his blue fingers. He remembered porting in to grab someone…a girl…Hope. Yes, that was her name. And then…something happened…he…WAIT!

A burst of adrenaline jump-started his weak body back to life. His eyes shot wide open, looking everywhere he could; nothing but white. He struggled frantically around, finding his wrists, ankles and even his tail strapped to some sort of table. He tried teleporting out of his restraints…nothing. He went slack and stared wide-eyed at the featureless ceiling. His heart felt like it was going to burst out of his chest.

~ I…I was dead! ~ His brain screamed.

There had been an excruciating pain through his chest, blood rushing into his lungs and mouth, his eyes going blurry, Hope's terrified face looking down at him, pleading with him…then…the searing white light of this room. Where was he? What was going on? Who had done th…

"Guten tag, mein freund," a genderless, almost computer-like voice echoed throughout the room, silencing the sound of his panicked breathing, "nice of you to finally join us, Mr. Wagner."

Kurt looked all around, trying to find the source of the mechanical voice that had greeted him, finding no source, "Who is this? Where am I?" he pulled hard at his restraints, "What do you want with me!?"

He anxiously waited for some kind of response, but the room remained silent. The only sound left was his racing heartbeat and breathing, which he tried, with not much luck, to slow down.

~ Don't panic, Kurt. Calm down, this isn't going to help you, ~ he chanted with himself.

A few more deep breaths calmed him down enough to test the restraints on his wrists again. Not surprising, they were still there and still unmoving. Under more scrutiny, he noticed that they were each formed from a solid silver piece of metal with no seams and even more strangely, not even attached to the table by any means except contact.

Magneto jumped into his head but was swiftly removed. This was a stretch even for the Mater of Magnetism; and, besides, the guy was kind of, sort of, on their side now and also happened to be comatose. Well, he was the last time Kurt checked anyway.

With a "possible" name off his incredibly long list, he turned back to the bands. They couldn't slide but they could roll back and forth along the table, hinting at a form of one-point, variable attraction, like some kind of high-tech Velcro. The table itself was smooth and cool against his fur and as white as the simple clothes he wore. In fact, the only color in the entire room was his dark indigo fur and yellow eyes. Decorators? They were not.

He looked from the bands to the walls, taking in any details he could. The room was of decent size, about 20 by 20 ft. but still completely barren of any discernible features, with no windows, no vents on the ceiling and a complete lack of a door. He might be able to get out of his restraints but he'd still have the problem of being "stuck in the box". Even if he could teleport he didn't have any point of reference to go off of.

These "people" knew him well. Far too well for any amount of comfort. They even had the audacity to greet him in his own language.

A few more minutes (or hours) went by, he really couldn't tell anymore. He tested the bands again…yup…still there. His stomach growled slightly.

~ Phan…tastisch ~ he rolled his eyes, ~ trapped in a giant "cube", strapped to a wonderfully uncomfortable table and now I am hungry, just perfe… ~ "Mein GOTT!"

The jet-like hum shot through the room and launched the table backward up the wall. He strained his head around as much as he could and watched as the table began to meld into the wall, stopping when they became flush. The floor began to rise in a far corner, forming a type of table. Then, the hum stopped and everything was still again.

"Thank you for the warning!" Kurt yelled sarcastically to the room.

"Hungrig?" the room replied.


"Would you like some dinner?"

He glared at the table, realizing what it was now for, "I do not think this is exactly the best time for a candlelight dinner. I do not even have a tux."

A quieter and steadier hum started this time. He braced himself, but, instead of being thrown around again, the wall opposite him seemed to liquefy and stretch outward. It continued to expand until it finally gave way, revealing a young woman carrying a tray of food. As she finished stepping through, the wall went flat and solidified again behind her.

He looked her over, "are you?"

"No. I am only here to give you food. And no, I cannot tell you who they are," her voice was harsh but her dark hazel eyes had a kind edge to them which was slightly comforting to his current state of mind.

She was an average looking woman but handsome non-the-less, with a round face, large expressive eyes and slender mouth. Her hair was long, dark and pin straight, pulled tightly behind her head in a low ponytail. She wore a dark blue blouse, buttoned to the neck, and black pinstripe pants that fell over plain work shoes. It was strange, but she reminded Kurt of his former teammate, Kitty Pryde. Apart from the hair and eye color, she could have easily passed as her twin.

"What is your name, fraulein?" he asked. Though trying to be courteous, he couldn't help the sharp undertone that managed to mix in with the words.

She sat the tray on the table and turned back towards him, hands folded professionally in front of her, "Cerbera."

He tilted his head inquiringly, "Your real name?"

"Would I have any other?"

"Heh, I guess not," he couldn't help but crack a small smile.

She bowed her head slightly, "enjoy your dinner, Mr. Wagner," she said, staying professional.

"Kurt," he managed to get out before she "molded" back through the wall, leaving him alone yet again.

Once the wall solidified, he heard a short, electric whir and his metal bands released from the wall, dropping him hard to the ground.

"Sorry about the bump on the head. Ah well, beggars can't be choosers," the room seemed to mock Kurt as he pushed himself, highly ungracefully, to a low crouch. He could already feel his forehead start to swell and heat up, courtesy of the floor.

He gave the ceiling a hard glare then hopped cautiously to the table. The plate looked safe enough: sliced, smoked beef brisket with cubed red potatoes, steamed vegetables in a light butter sauce, glass of ice water; an all-around normal – and quite exquisite – dinner. Unfortunately, many years of experience told him to leave it alone for now, much to the chagrin of his barren stomach, which growled again from the many savory smells that flooded the air.

Controlling his urge to clean the plate, he jumped to a far corner and sat down, curling his tail around his legs. It twitched habitually as he stared at the wall where Cerbera had appeared and disappeared.

As the only other living thing he'd seen since he "woke up", she played a large part in his thoughts. Was she a mutant? Could she phase through walls like Kitty? She sure did look enough like her.

No, the walls were what were special. He moved his hand against its surface. It was perfectly smooth and, at closer examination, slightly transparent with some sort of grid-like pattern underneath. The light in the room actually came from the entire ceiling, shining through the same type of grid structures as the walls. This was definitely some form of technology far beyond what he understood.

What Hank wouldn't give to get his hands on this place. He smiled inwardly to himself then sighed as the pain finally hit him. What he wouldn't give to see any of them again. He shut his eyes tight as his imagination ran wild with images of what could have happened to all of them after he…left.

Though his memory had been fractured earlier, it was slowly beginning to fill itself in, especially the events right before he…this. He and Rogue had been transporting Hope to Utopia when Bastion attacked. He remembered being shot in the back trying to get to Hope, Rouge's screams as she tried to fend Bastion off, ultimately ending up battered and bleeding at his feet.

He felt his nails dig into the skin of his palms. Dear God let her be alive. Let them all be alive. Let them be safe. Especially those whose friendships he felt he had left broken…like Logan.

Hearing about Logan's involvement in X-Force and what his team did, infuriated Kurt to no end, but…he had always overlooked Logan's dark history in the past hadn't he? Should X-Force be any different in the present? Being here, seemingly back from the dead, forced him to think about how he had reacted when he learned about the covert team. Yes, lies had been told, trust and morals had been completely shattered, but Cyclops was desperate and, unfortunately, Logan was a prime candidate for that field of "work", it was what he was best at.

Kurt knew Logan well enough to know exactly how he had reacted when he heard about his "death". He would lash out at Hope, then at Scott and then he'd blame himself, probably ending up depressed and drinking. Logan would think Kurt hated him for what he did with X-Force. He would think that all he had "accomplished" with them was for nothing.

Though Kurt was against everything Logan and his team had done, he vowed that when he got out of here he would try and forgive him as best as his conscious would allow. It was the least he could do for the man he knew had punished himself enough.

A few translations: Phantastisch - fantastic, hungrig - hungry, was (vas) - what?

Till next time...