A new mutant arises in New York that reveals a secret about Jean Grey and her family that will change her life forever. And it all centers around a familiar looking girl named Madelyn Pryor.
Chapter 8: Gone Missing
Early next morning, Jean and Scott were still on the couch after having fallen asleep watching their movie. They were still snuggled up together, sleeping in the warmth of one another's arms. And while this offered a peaceful feeling to them both, Jean's sleep was still plagued by anxieties.
"Hnn...Maddie," she grumbled, shifting slightly as she rested atop Scott.
Her movements soon awoke her boyfriend, who felt her anxieties through their link. Still groggy, he thought it was just her having a nightmare. But as her groans became more coherent, he sensed there was definitely something to them.
"Jean?" he said, trying to shake her awake.
Suddenly, she shot up from her sleeping state, knocking Scott clear off the couch as she let out a sudden yell of pain.
"Whoa!" exclaimed Scott, nearly hitting his head on the coffee table.
Panting hard, Jean anxiously took in her surroundings, relieved to find herself back at the mansion. She was covered in a cold sweat, her head pounding with a vengeance. Grasping her temples, she tried to collect herself. And as Scott got up from the floor, he quickly took to her side.
"Oh God," she said, short of breath.
"It's okay, Jean," said Scott softly, taking her in his arms, "It's over now. You were just having a nightmare."
Clinging to her boyfriend's warmth, Jean calmed herself. The images from her nightmare still lingered, but she pushed them aside as she was so used to.
"Oh man, what a dream," she said, still groggy.
"Yeah, I picked up some of it too," said Scott, cupping her face, "It sounded pretty bad."
"It was awful."
"Was it about Annie again?" he asked, knowing that always gave her nightmares.
"No...I don't think so," she said, still rubbing her temples, "This one was different."
"I...I kept seeing Madelyn. She...she was calling out to me for help. She sounded like she was in trouble."
Sensing her distress, Scott comforted her with a soft kiss to the forehead. It helped ease her tense demeanor. She even managed a smile. But she still couldn't fight this feeling of dread lingering inside her.
"We should probably talk with her about this," said Scott.
"Yeah, we should," she said as they got up off the couch and straightened out their clothes, "I hope it's not my powers again."
"Well I know one remedy for that," said Scott, sounding a little more light hearted.
"Oh? And what might that be?"
"A nice big breakfast for two."
A smile spread across Jean's face as Scott took her hand and led her towards the kitchen.
"Mmm...I like that. Since when did you become an expert on managing nightmares?"
"Since I've had so much experience with them, I guess," he sighed, giving her hand a tight squeeze, letting them know he understood how she felt.
It was still early in the kitchen of the Xavier Institute. The sun was just creeping over the horizon, the humidity hanging strong over fields. But there was still plenty of activity. In a house full of mutants, it was a given that something was always brewing. And this time, it came in the form of some sizzling activity on the stovetop.
"Almost done, cherÃ¨," said Remy, keeping a careful watch on his breakfast concoction, "Just wait till you give Remy's legendary Cajun hotcakes a taste! You'll wonder how ya ever did without em!"
"Ah'll be the judge of that, swamp rat," said Rogue, waiting at the table with a skeptical grin, "Although Ah gotta warn ya, Ah'm very picky when it comes to southern food."
"Glad to know somebody here appreciates de taste of fine cookin'," said Remy with a flirtatious leer.
"Less flirtin', more cookin'," grinned Rogue, playing along.
As Remy finished up his little meal for two, Scott and Jean made their entrance, still disheveled from sleeping on the couch. They were a bit surprised to see Rogue and Remy up already, but then again they had a knack for being unpredictable. It's part of why Jean thought they would make an interesting couple if Rogue stopped being so stubborn.
"Morning you two," said Scott with a yawn, "You're up early."
"Needed time to prepare a little weekend breakfast for ma cherÃ¨," grinned Remy as he finished up the first batch.
"Always the gentleman, aren't you, Remy?" grinned Jean as she poured herself some orange juice.
"Hey, de femmes don't seem to mind. Ain't dat right, Rogue?"
"Ya just had to get him goin, didn't ya?" muttered the southern goth.
The young couple couldn't help but laugh as Remy set two nicely prepared plates for him and Rogue. His hotcakes were still steaming from the pan, ensuring they were as fresh as possible. It smelled pretty good to Scott and Jean, but Rogue remained skeptical.
"Ready to taste real southern cookin', Rogue?" grinned the Cajun mutant.
"Just eat yer dang breakfast, Cajun. They can't be all that..."
But as soon as Rogue bit into them, a surprised look fell over her face. Despite her sassy wit, Remy wasn't lying when he said he knew how to cook. These were the best hotcakes she had tasted in years. They didn't serve this kind of thing up north. It was packed full of spice and sweetened with red hot chilly peppers. And for Rogue, it was a wonderful taste of home.
"Told ya," grinned Remy in triumph.
"Well...they're okay," said Rogue, digging in further.
"Yeah right," chuckled Jean, "You have an interesting way of saying thank you to someone who just made you breakfast, Rogue."
"Nah, Remy don't mind," said the Cajun, flashing the southern Goth a charming gaze, "Rogue has her own way of doin' things. And dat's all dis here Cajun needs."
Rogue blushed at his words. She tried to hide it, but she failed miserably. She focused back on her breakfast, ignoring the amused looks she was getting from Scott and Jean. As nice as this meal was, it didn't make her any more open to admitting she liked playing these games with Remy. It was too early in the morning for that.
As Scott cleared the stove to make some eggs for him and Jean, the young redhead sat down besides her friends, still feeling a little tense after her nightmare.
"Hey, did either of you see if Madelyn was up yet?" she asked.
"Me? Nope, didn't see her," shrugged Remy.
"Me neither," said Rogue, her mouth still half full, "Last time I saw her, she was runnin' down the stairs for some date."
"Date?" said Jean with a curious look.
"Yeah, some guy called her and she told me to tell you she was goin' out."
"And why didn't you?" said Jean, feeling somewhat relieved.
"Looked like ya were pretty comfortable on the couch."
This time, it was Scott and Jean's turn to blush. Rogue had a way of turning things around on them, most likely in revenge for taunting her about Remy. But it was still a relief to know that Madelyn hadn't run off or something. Although Jean just couldn't fight this feeling that something was amiss.
"I...better go talk to her," she said, getting up from the table and heading towards the foyer.
"What about breakfast?" asked Scott.
"Keep a plate ready for me," she said, "I just have to talk to Maddie first."
Leaving his girlfriend to her wishes, Scott kept cooking. Although he was beginning to sense something different about this as well. It just didn't feel right. Was Paul the one who called and asked her out? That sure didn't sound like him.
'Paul calling Madelyn so soon? He's usually way more stubborn than that,' thought Scott to himself, 'Hmm...I wonder.'
Upstairs, Jean made her way to Madelyn's room. Upon entering, she found that the bed hadn't been slept in and her cell phone was gone. Her bath towel was also still on the hook behind her door, so she wasn't in the shower either. Something was definitely wrong here.
Looking around, Jean tried to find any hint of her twin sister. But so far, she wasn't coming up with anything. Shaking her head in frustration, she knew there was only one option.
"That's it. Time to find out once and for all," she said with a determined tone.
Placing her hands on her temples, she used her telepathy to reach out to her twin. Ever since Madelyn's powers manifested, they had an easy time contacting each other this way. Being twin sisters seemed to help with that.
But as she listened in for a response, she was bombarded by nothing but silence. Going further, she tried the lower levels and even extended it a few miles beyond the perimeter of the mansion. But no matter how far she scanned, she couldn't find a trace of her twin sister.
'Maddie? Maddie are you there?' she sent out.
But the longer the silence prevailed, the more anxious Jean grew. Going out was one thing, disappearing was another. And as she stopped her psychic outcry, a renewed feeling of dread came over her.
"Madelyn? Madelyn, wake up. It's time," said a deep voice.
Opening her eyes to the burning light, a dazed young woman came to after what felt like a very deep sleep. Her mind was fuzzy and incoherent. She couldn't even remember how she got here. It was all a blur. But she recognized the voices.
"Ugh, my head," she groaned.
"Ah, you're up," said Magneto in an approving tone, "Glad to see you well again. Sounds like you were having a bad dream."
"Dream?" she said, her vision clearing and her thoughts coming together.
It was still so strange to her. Her memory had completely lapsed. She could barely remember her own name. But as she looked back up at Mystique and Magneto, it all came rushing back to her.
"She remembers," said Mystique with a triumphant grin.
"Of...of course I do," she said, rubbing her head as she got off the table, "You guys are the leaders of the Brotherhood, a family I've been a part of since my parents kicked me out when they found out I was a mutant. How could I forget?"
Magneto and Mystique exchanged knowing smiles. Clearly, Mastermind's mind wipe had worked. She didn't remember a thing about her real past, only the made up one they laid out for her. She believed she was a part of the Brotherhood and had been for years. To her, they were like parents. They taught her how to use her powers when she had been disowned by her family. Hence, her loyalty was unyielding.
"What's going on?" she asked, her mind finally clearing up, "Did I miss something?"
"On the contrary my dear," said Magneto approvingly, "You're just in time and we are in need of your exceptional talents."
"You know you've got em!" she said in a dark, yet determined tone.
"Then let us go over the plan. And pay attention because this is sure to be our most ambitious venture to date."
Back at the mansion, the search for Madelyn had begun. Jean was in a state of panic as she kept searching for her twin both physically and psychically. She was too smart to just up and leave without so much as a note and that left only a handful of possibilities, many of which Jean shuttered to think about.
In an effort to help his girlfriend, Scott organized the regulars to retrace Madelyn's steps from the previous night. Kurt, Kitty, and Piotr went out to check the mall and the Gut Bomb while Remy and Rogue checked any reports of mutant violence that she could have been involved with.
All the while, Jean stayed with the Professor, barricading herself in Cerebro until her lost sibling was found. They had just been reunited and she wasn't about to be torn apart from her again.
'Come on, Maddie. Where are you?' sent Professor Xavier far and wide, boosted by the power of Cerebro, 'What happened? Jean misses you. We all do.'
But despite being the most powerful psychic in the world, Professor Charles Xavier was met only with heartbreaking silence.
"Did you sense anything, Professor?" asked Jean anxiously.
"I'm sorry, Jean," he sighed in defeat, "But I couldn't sense a trace of her mind. It's as if she doesn't exist."
"No! Don't say that!" shot Jean, her emotions flaring up, "I won't accept it! She's out there! I know she is!"
"Jean, I know this is hard on you, but..."
However, Jean cut him off, a look of great frustration dominating her face.
"No Professor...you obviously don't have a clue."
Leaving the Professor the digest that, Jean stormed out. Xavier wanted to pursue, but he held himself back. Even though he was deeply concerned for her, she was right. He really didn't know what it was like. He had never been separated from a twin and reunited nearly two decades later. And now that she was missing, the pain it caused was nothing short of heart wrenching.
In the hall, Jean held back her sobs, feeling both angry and sad that her sister was out there somewhere unable to contact her. She was in trouble. She could feel it. And there was nothing she could do to help.
Just then, Scott appeared with Rogue and Remy. Finding her pacing in the halls, Scott grew concerned, but Jean remained distant.
"Any luck?" she asked, not sounding too optimistic.
"Non," said Remy, "Couldn't find anythin'."
"I talked to Paul. He said he never called her last night. He wanted to, but he lost his nerve," said Scott, drawing closer to his distraught girlfriend.
"And you believe him?" asked Jean suspiciously.
"It's Paul. You know as well as I do that the guy couldn't lie to save his life."
Accepting his words, Jean rubbed her head in a frustrated gesture. Something was definitely wrong here. She just couldn't quite put her finger on it.
"Look Jean, Ah'm sorry this is happening," said Rogue, trying to sound reassuring, "But just know that we're all here for ya and..."
"Yeah right," scoffed Jean bitterly, "Like you were there for me when she first arrived? As if you ever cared about someone you hate just because she's comes from a different world?!"
"Don't say it, Rogue!" said Jean, tears streaming down her face, "Just...don't say it."
Leaving Rogue to absorb that, Jean stormed off. She needed to be alone. But her lingering words stung. Rogue knew on some levels it was true. She had given her and Jean a hard time with her bitter sarcasm, but she still considered them friends. And now that she looked at it, she felt pretty lousy at how she handled their friendship.
"She didn't mean that," said Scott, casting her a comforting gaze.
"Maybe," said Rogue, hugging her shoulders in a wave of hurt, "But it doesn't make it any less true."
"Hey, now ain't de time to beat yourself up, cherÃ¨," said Remy, placing a warm hand on her shoulder, "Make amends with em when all dis is said and done. But for now, let's focus on findin' de femme's twin."
Rogue may have had uncertain feelings about this man, but he still had a way of making her feel better. Placing her hand atop Remy's, she set aside her frustration and pulled herself together.
"Yer right," she said with renewed strength, "But what more can we do? We've looked everywhere."
"Not quite," said Scott, going over what they knew, "Now you say Madelyn ran out last night on some surprise date with Paul, right?"
"That's what Ah heard," affirmed Rogue, "Probe mah mind if ya doubt me."
"I'll take your word for it," assured Scott, "And if that's true, then what or who could deceive her like that?"
It didn't take long considering what they had encountered in the past. Having known that sort of deception, Rogue's face contorted in anger. And in the back of her mind, only one person could be that effective in drawing someone out like this.
"The list is short," she said in a dark tone, "And Ah think we all know who's at the top."
A look of anger coming over him as well, Scott quickly pieced it together. There was no other explanation. And the more he thought about it, the more it made his blood boil.
On a remote island post not far from Madagascar, a large gathering of mutants fell upon a center arena, just outside a port. Many of those present looked anxious, yet encouraged. Some bore the look of war refuges, showing the scars of inhuman treatment. There were even a few Morlocks present, looking for a chance to live in a world above ground without being stigmatized by human hate.
At the center of the crowd were the members of the Brotherhood and Acolytes. Lance, Todd, Freddy, Pietro, Wanda, John, and Sabretooth were standing at the head of the pack as they were entitled to given that they helped organize this whole deal. It had been a long time brewing and it was a lot different compared to the other tasks they had been a part of, but there was no going back now.
Also with them was Madelyn, only she kept her distance from the Brotherhood. For some reason, she didn't feel comfortable around them. So she just stayed off to the side, keeping to herself and preparing herself for the great task ahead of her.
"Man, some crowd, huh?" mused Freddy 'Blob' Dukes.
"I'll say," said Todd, "Never seen so many mutants stand together in my life. Kind of brings a tear to your eye, don't it?"
"Oh be serious, Tolensky!" said Pietro, giving his friend a whack on the back, "This is huge! This is the biggest thing since Apocalypse!"
"Glad you're excited about it," muttered Wanda, "Frankly, I still find it kind of strange. Ever since he came back, he's been trying to be all fatherly on us again."
"And that's a bad thing?" said Lance, taking it a little more seriously.
"No, it's just...strange," said Wanda.
Nobody debated her words. They knew she was right in many respects. Magneto had changed since Apocalypse. Now he had Pietro and Wanda calling him dad again while he diverted from his long time goal of pursuing a war between humans and mutants. It was a switch that some found 'Xavierish,' but nobody dared to question his intent.
"Ah, don't worry about it, shelia!" said Pyro, still sounding like the demented Aussie everybody was so fond of, "Although personally, I kind of miss the old tyrannical Magneto. Had a lot more fun with that bloke!"
"Can it, Pyro!" spat Pietro, "Just because you're now a part of the Brotherhood doesn't mean we have to take your carp!"
"Hey, it's not my fault Gambit and Colossus are a couple of turncoats," shrugged the fire loving maniac.
Pietro was about to shoot back, but Lance stepped between them in order to keep it from escalating.
"Easy there guys. Save the fighting for the invasion."
"Oh I'm game, Rocky!" said Pietro confidently, "I'll run circles around Hodge and his goons!"
"That's not the plan and you know it," said Lance sternly, "Remember what Mystique told us. We can only win this with the help of the redhead."
"You mean Jean?" said Freddy.
"No, some other girl, Madelyn something," said Lance.
"Madelyn?" said Todd, looking over at the reclusive redhead with suspicion, "Are you sure, yo? She looks just like Jean."
"I only know what Mystique told me," said Lance, holding his hands up in defense, "Besides, the less we know, the less complicated it'll be during the battle."
Accepting Lance's words, the Brotherhood fell silent as they waited for their leader. The skies were stormy, as if to prelude the oncoming conflict that lay ahead. And as mutants far and wide gathered before the tiny port, a metal sphere descended from the sky, illuminated by a flash of lighting.
"Look! Our leader comes!" exclaimed one of the mutants in the crowd.
Cheering erupted as the sphere landed and opened to reveal the master of magnetism. He bore his full uniform, helmet and all, looking poised for battle as he hovered over his loyal brethren.
Gazing over the vast crowd, he saw many who had suffered under the tyranny of Cameron Hodge. Some lost limbs while others lost family. Having survived the holocaust, he knew all too well the kind of force they were up against. And he was determined to make sure that history didn't repeat itself.
"My mutant brethren!" he proclaimed, "We have gathered here together, brothers from many walks of life because we share a common goal! For too long now, we have lived in a world of oppression and bigotry. Despite all efforts, mutants are hated and feared throughout the world and many as a result have suffered greatly."
Another round of cheers erupted and all the while, Madelyn remained indifferent. Even though she knew about Magneto's beliefs, they just didn't stick with her for some reason.
"I once sought to punish humanity for their sins. But I have since learned that annihilation is not the answer. Apocalypse taught us many things, but the one thing we must remember most is that we share this planet whether the humans like it or not! And destroying it will only destroy us both. That is why we must make a home for ourselves! That is why we must stand together and fight the worst humanity has to offer! Cameron Hodge has ruled Genosha with unyielding cruelty since he came to power. Not only have mutants suffered, but so have regular humans. This is a man not unlike the ones who carried out the holocaust, the grim even that took my parents away from me."
There was an uncommon hint of emotion in his words, rare for Magneto by any stretch. But it only served to further impassion his followers as the night of their greatest triumph was at hand.
"Now my brothers and sisters, we fight together! We will take the battle to the steps of hatred and establish a new home for mutants everywhere! Genosha is a dying country, but through blood and toil, we shall make it a beacon of hope for every mutant! The time has come my brethren! As the sun rises tomorrow, it shall also forever set on Cameron Hodge! And when we win the day, we will achieve something far greater than riches or glory! Because when we win the day...we will destroy an enemy...and gain a home!"
Frantic cries of solidarity and passion erupted from the crowd. Even under the coming storm, they stood together against the forces of hatred. For Madelyn, it was only the beginning. Her greatest challenge awaited her in the coming battle.
The stage was set. The battle lines were drawn. And the world would soon be rocked by a battle to remember.
LET THE BATTLE BEGIN! BUT FIRST, PLEASE REVIEW!