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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 8: First Blood

"Okay y'all, on your feet, let's move it out!" Rogue shouted above the claxon alarm. "Creed, Summers, gather the rest of the group and meet me down there!"

"What is it, sister?" asked her brother as he eagerly scurried into the room.

"We got a break out in Cell Block-D," she replied, never slowing her pace. "One of the transfers."

"Aha," he exclaimed, looking delighted as he rubbed his long, spindly fingers together. "Then let the games begin."

She lost sight of him as he hurried ahead of her, his form blending into the shadows as if he were one of them. She thought about taking to the air, figuring she could beat him there if she flew, then remembered the tight, twisting confines of the hallways beneath the main complex. She'd be more likely to knock herself silly than make any good time, she thought. Besides, it was a maze down there. If she didn't pay attention to where she was going she could easily get lost for quite a while. Gritting her teeth, she pushed her fast pace into an all-out run, hoping she could get there before her brother could find the prisoner. Remembering his glee over Wildchild, she shuddered to think what might happen if he got there first.

-sqawk- "Rogue?" The voice was coming from her wrist. "Rogue, do you copy? This is Summers. Me and the crew are on our way." -sqawk-

Never slowing, she lifted the band to her mouth, pressing the tiny 'talk' button with her free hand. "Copy that, Summers. Get down here post-haste. Out."

God but it was nasty down here, she thought, unable to ignore the mildewed stench that assailed her nostrils. A network of pipes lined the low, darkened ceiling, fetid water steadily dripping from them as she passed. But even the water couldn't dull the scorching heat trapped beneath the complex. It must be 100 degrees down here, she thought, wiping sweat from her brow. It was like being trapped in a greenhouse...a neglected, rotting, greenhouse. She didn't want to imagine the source of the organic stench which reached her now, as she progressed even lower into the detention area, ignoring the faint moans of prisoners rising eerily through the still air. She paused at the bottom of a narrow, metal stairwell to get her bearings, wiping almost angrily at the sweat that was dripping into her eyes at a steady pace. Where was he? she wondered. She should be almost right on top of him by now...the escapee couldn't have made it much further than E Block before he had gotten there, at the rate they were moving. She stood still as a statue in the hall, ears straining for any sound through the darkness. She concentrated beyond the constant sound of dripping water, the wailing moans that surrounded her, searching for the faintest sound that might lead her to him. But she knew, that if she heard him, it would already be far too late.

She was running as fast as her legs could carry her through the darkness. She knew she had no hope of getting out, not in this maze, but she refused to die passively in her cell like some kind of rabid animal. She went on, ignoring the sharp pain in her side, the burning in her lungs, the fatigued muscles in her legs, drawing strength from the string of curses she whispered against her captors, damning their souls for the magic dampening aura that kept freedom beyond her reach. If I had enough for just one spell, she thought, the words repeating themselves uselessly, over and over again in her mind. Just one spell and I could be free. Instead, she would die here on the filthy metal catwalks, thousands of miles from the open lands of her home. Still, she thought, it was a better to die fighting than waste away, forgotten, in the bowels of this dingy base.

Was that light just ahead? she had time to wonder, just before she slipped on a slick portion of the catwalk and fell roughly to the floor. "Damn," she whispered, the sound of her voice echoing mockingly through the pipes above her. Hissing in pain, she reached down to gingerly touch her ankle, drawing back as she felt the tender flesh already swelling. That's it, then, I'm done, she thought. If the situation hadn't been so desperate, she might even have laughed. Done in by the infamous twisted ankle that had been the death of so many heroines in books and movies throughout the ages. The irony left a bitter taste in her mouth. Well, be damned if I'm giving up now, she thought, determined to crawl out of here if she had to.

She had barely risen to her feet when she heard a noise from the darkness just ahead of her. Squinting her useless, human eyes in the blackness, she held her breath, waiting for her adversary to reveal themselves. Sweat trickled slowly down her back, the seconds crawling by with agonizing slowness as she imagined the nature of her enemy, the thrill he must be getting from playing with her like this. Seconds slipped into minutes, and still, the only sound she heard was the pounding of her own heart in her ears. Had she imagined it? she wondered, beginning to doubt her own senses at this point.

She didn't have to ponder long, when suddenly, a bright light flared within the darkness. "Take a wrong turn, liebling?" came a teasing voice from beyond the glare of the flashlight. She couldn't see his face, but she didn't need to, she knew that voice as well as she knew her own name.

Her heart seemed to swell within her chest, feeling hope for the first time, even as disbelief filled her mind, wondering how this could be. It didn't matter, she didn't even take time to think about it as she pushed away from the railing, throwing herself into his arms.

"Kurt. Oh God...Kurt," she hugged him tight, tears of joy and relief streaming down her face.

"Shhh...take it easy, now, Amanda. I'm here...everything's going to be alright," he soothed, running a hand as best he could through her dirty, matted hair.

"Thank God," she said again, clutching him tight and leaning up to kiss him soundly. She couldn't get enough of him, the feel of him against her, the sense of peace and safety that he gave her. "I've missed you so much, Kurt."

"And I've missed you, Amanda," he said softly, nuzzling against her.

They stood, holding each other in silence for a long moment, no words necessary after all the years they had known each other. Amanda felt she knew his every thought, after all this time, despite the last year and a half they had spent apart. After all, what was a year and a half after a lifetime of love between them?

"But...but how did you know?" she asked, pulling back to look at him, still hardly daring to believe he was real. "How did you know to find me here?"

His lips drew back into a broad smile, one not altogether pleasant or comforting. For a moment, she doubted, hope dying almost unborn within her chest. But this was Kurt, every sense screamed that it was true, that he was really here. They had grown up together for Gods sake, she reminded herself. She trusted him with her very life.

"Lucky guess, liebling?" he chuckled. "Looks like I showed up just in time, too."

"But...but how did you get in here? Didn't the guards...?" Confused, she let her question trail off. It didn't matter anyway, she decided. All that mattered was that they were together again, and that he would help her get free of this godforsaken place.

"My," he remarked, still smiling as he drew her chin up to make her look at him. "You have been a prisoner for some time, haven't you?"

Again, the confusion. "In Europe, for a year at least, before they transferred me here." She shook her head, trying to drive the conflicting thoughts from it. Why weren't they leaving yet? Surely the guards, at least, would be after her. But then, Kurt had come to rescue her, and he wouldn't have done so without a plan. Besides, he could teleport them out of here any time. Maybe all that time in a cell did more damage than I believed, she thought. Imagine, mistrusting Kurt! Even for a moment. It was unthinkable, she chided herself. He was the most noble and honorable man she had ever known.

"Ah, my poor, Amanda...," he sighed, as if her admission burdened him greatly, his voice growing deeper and somehow more dramatic. "The thought of you dying alone in some dank cell, without even a fighting breaks my heart."

If she hadn't been so delighted to see him, so swept away with the thought of freedom finally within her grasp, she might have noted the trace of sarcasm that laced his words. "Best not to dwell on those thoughts, my dearest. What does that matter, anyway, now that we're together again?" she asked, her smile returning as she gazed up into his eyes. "What do you say we get the hell out of here while the getting is good?"

"Ah, liebling," he soothed, drawing her close again. "Nein. I'm afraid there will be no escaping today. My sister wouldn't like it."

She frowned, thinking she must have misunderstood him somehow. Opening her mouth to ask him what he meant, she didn't even have time to draw breath before the sword slipped between her ribs and plunged deep into her heart. Even as she died, wide-eyed and gasping for breath, she still couldn't believe it. With her last fading thought, her mind struggled against it, denying the truth before her eyes. They had to have tricked her somehow, she thought frantically, as her vision began to dim, clinging to that thought as though it were her lifeline.

"Aufweidershen, Jermaine," he said reverently, twisting the sword in her chest. It was the last thing she heard before the light in her eyes went out forever. And it left no doubt in her mind that it was indeed, Kurt who had killed her, for only he knew her by that name. Then she shuddered and went still against him, blood draining from her body in a slowly cooling pool. He held her that way for a moment, like two lovers locked in an intimate embrace, bending to kiss her still lips once, before throwing her body from the railing. He stood, watching her fall, then smiled with satisfaction as he heard the crunching halt of her body against the floor below. Dusting off his hands, he turned and made his way back down the catwalk, the sword held in his tail swinging back and forth merrily with the jaunt in his step and in time with the pleasant tune he began to whistle.

Rogue arrived just in time to see Amanda thrown from the railing. Her stomach clenched, and she closed her eyes tightly, trying to maintain a calm she didn't feel. She almost wished Sabretooth and the others hadn't caught up to her and led her here, following Nightcrawler's scent. She hadn't wanted to see this, to be forced to realize how twisted her foster brother had become under the influence of the Shadow King. The Nightcrawler she remembered had abhorred the thought of taking human life, any life for that matter...and yet, here he was, not only taking human life, but relishing every moment of it.

Oh, Kurt, she thought, if there were anything left inside of the man you once were, you would have killed yourself long ago.

"Ah, there you all are!" Nightcrawler smiled as he sighted them. "The escapee has been attended to, dear sister," he proclaimed with a sweeping bow.

"Ah see that," she replied, forcing herself to speak the next words, as she knew it was expected of her. "Good work, Kurt."

"Yeah, way to go, 'crawler," Sabretooth growled approvingly from her side, an evil smile twisting his face. "I could smell that frail from here. She never even saw it coming, no trace of fear on her at all, 'til the very last."

"Well, as someone I once knew used to say, 'I'm the best there is at what I do'." He grinned and bowed again, looking altogether too pleased with himself.

Her stomach clenched again, more violently this time, and she feared she might really become sick if she didn't get out of here soon. Fighting for control, she took stock of the faces around her. "All right, boys, lets wrap this up and get back to work," Rogue spoke up, already turning and making her way back toward the upper levels.

"Meet you there," Nightcrawler called, then was gone in a bamf of smoke, leaving behind the acrid stench of sulfur and brimstone.

Actually, Rogue mused, it smelled a hell of a lot better than these tunnels did. She hurried her step, wanting to get as far away from the prison block and Amanda's body as possible.

Kitty sat suddenly bolt upright in bed, blasting awake, sweat pouring down her brow and a scream locked in the back of her throat. It took her a moment to recognize her surroundings, long enough for Piotr to wake and sit up in concern.

"Katya? Are you alright?"

"Bad dream," she managed to stutter out, still too shaken to talk about it.

"Nightcrawler, again?" he asked quietly.

She burst into tears, then, and he pulled her tight against him, letting her get it all out. He had begun to wonder, after all this time, after so many nightmares, if she would ever get over this. If Kurt had known the pain he still caused, even now, would he take pride in it? Piotr wondered. Somehow, he thought that their former friend probably would.

"Why, Piotr?" she sobbed, her whole body shuddering against him. "Why did this have to happen to him?"

He shook his head and held her close, knowing that there was no answer to the question, no matter how much both of them wished there was.


Continued in Chapter Nine


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