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"Death of a Dream"

Death of a Dream

Chapter 1: Homecoming
Chapter 2: Old Ghosts
Chapter 3: Strange Bedfellows
Chapter 4: Melancholy Memories
Chapter 5: Of Love and Betrayal
Chapter 6: Innocence Lost
Chapter 7: Of Friendship and Discovery
Chapter 8: First Blood
Chapter 9: Cast Out
Chapter 10: Revelations
Chapter 11: Of Love and Hope
Chapter 12: Stolen Lives
Chapter 13: Bad Dreams
Chapter 14: The Ties that Bind
Chapter 15: A Hero's Life
Chapter 16: Old Wounds
Chapter 17: A Time of Last Things
Chapter 18: The Final Countdown
Chapter 19: Battlezone
Chapter 20: Zero Hour
Chapter 21: A Glimmer of Hope

The sequel to this story is "The Resurrection Gauntlet."

Death of a Dream

Chapter 2: Old Ghosts

Kitty was fuming as she paced back and forth through the living room of the mansion. Turning her angry gaze upon Storm and purposely ignoring the source of all her rage, she finally found her voice. "What do you mean he's going to be staying in the mansion?" she demanded, pointing an accusatory finger at Gambit without turning.

"Exactly what I said, Kitty. Gambit will be staying with us. We need all the help we can--"

"Help? Like the Morlocks needed his help?", she fairly spat, her anger burning high. "Like Piotr and I needed his help? We nearly DIED because of this man!"

"I have not forgotten", Storm responded stonily. "None of us will ever forget the horrors which occurred in the tunnels that day. You, Colossus and Nightcrawler all nearly died as a result of his actions. But now is not the time to dredge up past sins. What we are facing today demands that we all stick together."

"I...", her rage seemed to drain at the mention of Nightcrawler. She had lost a lot of friends in her time, buried most of them...but Nightcrawler. Nightcrawler hurt the worst. "What are you saying?", she asked in an exasperated tone, flopping down on the couch. "That we should just forgive and forget and let him fight by our side without even proving himself first? Why? So he can stick the knife in our back that much more easily?"

"What she's saying, darlin'", came a gravelly voice from the doorway, "is that if the Devil himself showed up on our doorstep askin' to fight with us, we'd take him in."

"Logan?" Kitty cried in disbelief. "You're in on this too?"

"Desperate times, darlin', desperate measures." He shrugged lightly and leaned against the doorjamb, regarding her almost casually.

"Katya," Colossus finally spoke up, his voice prodding and gentle. "Perhaps we should-"

"Oh, Piotr, you too?" she asked in a resigned tone. "Fine." She leaped from the couch and began stalking toward the doorway. "If you all say he's part of the team, he's part of the team. But I don't have to be happy about it." And with that, she pushed past Logan from the room.

A moment of silence ensued, and then Gambit spoke up, clearing his throat nervously. "Dat girl quite a spitfire, no?"

"Da", agreed Colossus, watching Kitty's exit from the room with something like pride.

The silence stretched wide again, each X-Man looking from one to the other, none knowing quite what to say.

"Well", said Colossus a bit awkwardly, rising from his seat. "I should go talk to her. Excuse me, my friends."

"I'm thinkin' you got your work cut out for you, Petey", said Logan with a slight smile, moving aside and giving the massive man room to move through the doorway.

"Da", muttered Colossus, wincing at the sudden crashing sound from Kitty's computer room before hurrying out and up the stairs.

"So....", Logan offered, finally stepping into the room and taking a seat near Storm. "I see we're all gettin' along just wonderfully. One big happy family, huh, cajun?"

All eyes turned on Gambit at Logan's words, making the thief squirm uncomfortably in his seat. Seeing that they expected an answer, he fidgeted for a moment before finally sighing and muttering to himself "Gonna be a long night...."

Kitty sighed as she walked through the graveyard, wondering what twisted impulse had guided her here. Things were bad enough without reliving the past again. Still, it seemed whenever she was upset, her inner ghosts guided her here, perhaps to provide perspective. Illyana had been the first to be buried here, a victim of Stryfe's Legacy Virus. Just a hadn't seemed fair for her best friend to die in such a way, life slowly seeping from her as she lay in bed, rather than dying in the battlefield where she had spent so many years of her life. But at least now she had plenty of company.

Forge had been the first to die, set-up by his sometime lover, Mystique. One of the first to be possessed by the Shadow King, he had used her to kill Forge and then destroy his base of operations, taking all of the technology that might have helped the X-Men with it. Forge had been instrumental in their defeat of the Shadow King on Muir Isle, and the monster had seen to it that that would not happen again. The Professor had been next. Stripped of all his mental abilities during the Onslaught battle, he could do nothing against the Shadow King. He had died in the battlefield, killed by several of his own students. Jean had been next. Taking the Professor's place as most powerful telepath, she had tried to confront the Shadow King on the Astral Plane and lost. Her brain dispersed into so many atoms, her body had followed shortly after. The deaths had come quickly after that...the Shadow King had grown much more powerful during his reign on the Astral plane, and became even more so when he chose Magneto as his host, forming his nexus of passage to this world through Magneto's body. Jubilee, completely possessed by the Shadow King, had been slain by her father figure, Wolverine...Angel was slain by his own lover, Psylocke when she gave herself to the Shadow King willingly....Havok, possessed also, had taken out his fair share of mutants all on his own with his deadly plasma blasts: Beast, Maggott, Cannonball, and most of X-Force before Cyclops took him down. He should have killed him after all the deaths he had caused, but he couldn't bring himself to kill his own brother. His mistake. Generation X had been possessed by the Shadow King almost to the man, except for M, who might have defeated him in the end if not for the Psionic wave he had unleashed upon the world. Using his considerable power, the Shadow King had drawn forth all of the energy from Astral Plane and unleashed it upon the world in a concentrated blast, killing every telepath around the world. The blast of Psionic energy was unexpected, they were unprepared, and it blew their brains to atoms. X-Man, Cable, Franklin Richards, anyone with any telepathic ability was destroyed, ensuring the Shadow King's victory. With no one left to stand against him on the Astral Plane and his vessel of Magneto unable to be harmed by the X-Men's combined efforts, the Shadow King stood victorious.

But it hadn't ended there. The Fantastic Four, the Avengers, every superhero group in existence had rallied against the Shadow King and joined the battle. By that time, even more mutants had succumbed to the Shadow Kings influence, and much of the human populace as well. Outnumbered, many of them died as well, either mindwiped by the Shadow King or killed by their former friends. That was their downfall...they had been unable to accept the fact that their friends were completely subverted by the Shadow King and refused to kill them. Their adversaries had shown no such mercy. Joined by Apocalypse and many of the other villains, the Shadow King's armies were almost unstoppable. That was when Cyclops had decided that the time had passed to remain passive...fueled by Jean's death, his bloodthirst had grown, and he had led the team down a path Charles Xavier would never have dared to imagine...

Kitty shivered despite the warm air, remembering it all, eyes reading the name on every grave, though she had memorized them all long ago. Things looked no better for either mutants or humanity now than they had then.

"Katya? I thought I might find you here..." it was Piotr, walking down the hill toward the graves to join her.

She shook her head and blinked back the tears which she could still cry, even after all this time. "I still can't believe it, Piotr. Even after the last two years, everything that's happened, I still can't believe that we've come to this."

He moved up behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders and leaning her back against him. "This is not about Gambit, is it?", he asked gently, knowing her so well after all this time that there was no need for the question, save giving her the opportunity to talk about her grief.

"It's what he represents", she sighed. "The betrayals over the years have hurt even more than the deaths. Psylocke, Havok, Ni--", she broke off, her voice becoming a faint whisper, "Kurt..."

"I know, Katya", he soothed, taking her into his embrace. "I know."

They stood in silence then, each contemplating the past, wondering if there would ever be hope for the future.


Continued in Chapter Three


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