Old faces glimmered through
Old footsteps trod the upper floors
Old voices called her from without.
~ from "Mariana" ~
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
She ran blindly through an alleyway, trying to escape something
she feared above all else, yet couldn't name.
A thick fog had surrounded her, and she could see neither
where she had been nor where she was going. All she had was
the faint notion of where she was, and the faint glow of street
lamps as they shone through the dense haze that enveloped
Her sense of dread increased exponentially with every step,
and still she could not name the feared adversary that pursued
All she knew was that it was closing in fast. It was only
a matter of time -- an undeniable, inescapable truth.
She ran and ran for what seemed likehours. She stopped running,
finally overcome by her weariness.
She knew her time was running out.
But she didn't care anymore.
Anything to end her never-ending battle against the demons
that haunted her.
She stopped fighting, and the darkness found her.
Storm and Logan looked incredulously at the two doctors in
front of them.
"The fetus is just over a week old, per the instruments
that Forge has so kindly presented to us to reconstruct our
former medical facility," Hank said. "At this point,
it would be premature to try to postulate any additional details
about Rogue's pregnancy."
He paused for a moment, focusing on cleaning a speck off
of his glasses. "While we have not yet conducted a paternity
test, it is probable that -- "
"Remy is likely the father. I know," Ororo said,
almost sadly. A change seemed to come over her, a certain
weariness, as if a burden on her shoulders had just gotten
heavier. She glanced down at the ground, then looked back
at Hank. "Is there anything else?"
"Not yet," Cecelia answered. "We can't really
figure out much more unless we can get her to come out of
her shell. Her problem appears to be more psychological than
physical. I don't think the pregnancy physically caused her
to withdraw like this."
"Do you think she knew already about the pregnancy and
the shock over that caused this?" Ororo asked.
"Doubtful," Hank responded. "Most symptoms
of pregnancy do not manifest themselves until after the first
"To get to the point, basically what yer sayin' here
is that Rogue can't get any help until she wakes up, right?"
"Correct, my Canadian comrade," Hank said. "The
most efficient means of ascertaining the cause of Rogue's
withdrawal would be to consult one of our friendly neighborhood
telepaths; however, all of them are presently incommunicado."
The furry blue Beast furrowed his brow. "With Jean in
Alaska, Elisabeth is our closest available telepath."
"Betsy and Rogue have known each other for a long time,
but they have never been particularly close," Ororo said.
"I hope that she will not have too much trouble getting
past Rogue's mental barriers."
"We can hope," Hank conceded. "Short of simply
waiting for Rogue to come out of this on her own, our telepathic-ninja-by-way-of-Merrie-Olde-England
may be the best option open to us."
"I shall call her immediately," Ororo said, sweeping
out of the room.
"Well, what do you think?"
"I'm not sure, Dr. Reyes," said Psylocke, rubbing
her temples. "I am encountering a considerable amount
of resistance within her mind, and I do not want to push too
hard and possibly cause lasting damage."
"I was under the impression that Rogue's resistance
to telepathy came from the presence of Carol Danvers' personality
in her mind," Beast said, his eyes dark with concentration.
"But once she was separated from Ms. Marvel, we postulated
that she would no longer be so 'immune,' as it were."
"But no one ever tested that?" Ororo asked.
Hank appeared slightly embarrassed. "Considering the
sequence of events and adversaries that we have been forced
to combat since the X-Men divided into teams Blue and Gold,
I do not believe that anyone ever thought to examine the changes
in our Mississippi Marauder since her passage through the
"But if Carol ain't there, why's Betts havin' so much
trouble gettin' into her head?" Logan had moved to a
corner of the room, leaning against the wall and chewing on
the end of a cigar.
Cecelia Reyes's face darkened at the sight of the cigar.
"Don't you dare light that thing, mister! I'm not going
"Relax, Doc." Logan said, unperturbed. "Beast
here's got a no-smoking rule 'round here. But it don't mean
I can't keep 'em around." He turned back to Beast and
Psylocke. "So what's the verdict?"
"I am not certain," Betsy said. "This could
mean any number of things. She could have another personality
in her head, which might cause the same kind of interference."
"But she hasn't absorbed anyone permanently since Carol,
right?" Logan asked.
"I do not believe so," Ororo answered. "Since
beginning her involvement with Gambit, she has been extremely
reluctant to use her absorption powers on anyone."
Psylocke continued. "My difficulties could also indicate
that someone else is controlling her telepathically, although
what I saw of her mind did not seem to indicate that. It could
just be that she has exceptional psi-defenses, whether through
some kind of latent psionic power or as a by-product of her
"So what yer sayin' is that ya ain't got a clue."
Logan straightened, crossing his arms across his chest.
"What I'm saying is that I can't know for sure unless
I probe further into her mind, and I'm not sure that I want
to do that without causing further harm to her psyche. If
only we still had Cerebro..."
"We work with what we've got," Logan responded.
"What did you see in her mind?"
"The astral plane is difficult to describe," Betsy
said, shaking her head. "I suppose I could describe what
I saw in Rogue's mind as a large wall surrounding a city of
sorts, with a number of 'ghosts' guarding it. I encountered
sizeable resistance any time I approached the wall."
"Could it be a matter of trust?" Beast interjected.
"Perhaps if someone she trusted a great deal was to come
"Ororo, Logan-would you like me to psi-link you to Rogue's
mind so you can see what you can do?" Psylocke asked.
"I'll follow at a distance, but perhaps you, being closest
to Rogue, might have a better chance at getting past her defenses."
"You must ask?" Storm answered.
"Count me in," Logan said.
The shadows swirled around her and began to take form. All
around her, she began to make out the faces of friends and
foes alike, all staring at her with hatred and revenge in
For all of them -- it had all started with just a touch.
But Ah didn't mean to! It just happened, and ah didn't
know how ta stop it!
Her fear showed plainly on her face, her eyes wide with panic.
She had trapped them here and left them to rot.
She wasn't the innocent victim this time.
She had violated them and forced them into submission, imprisoning
them in the darkest recesses of her mind.
Now it was their turn.
She looked out at the myriad of faces surrounding her, circling
her, waiting for their moment to strike. Friends, foes; humans,
mutants; the guilty and the innocent.
None of them deserved to be here. Even in cases where duty,
battle and the welfare of friends and a world that hated her
had demanded it, it was not her right to invade their minds.
Not her right to imprison them here, passing judgement on
But Ah can't control it! Ah don't know how to stop
it! Ah didn't know Ah'd be trappin' you in here with me --
But now that you're here, Ah don't know how to free
The shadows began to close in around her.
...Ah'm so sorry...
She looked into the faces of the figures as they came in
to exact their revenge, cold hatred glowing in their eyes.
Where was he?
She saw his form in the darkness at the end of the alley.
Red eyes glowing dangerously, he watched silently from the
shadows, smoking a cigarette, as the ghosts began their assault.
There was nothing more to say.
The tears flowed silently as she felt the cruel assault of
fists that pummeled against her body.
He stomped out his cigarette and walked away.
<<Remember,>> Psylocke warned. <<stepping
into the astral plane is a bit disorienting at first for non-psis.
It will quickly pass, but it is disconcerting at first.>>
"We know the drill. Not like we learned anything from
Chuck these past few years, eh?" Logan quipped.
<<Enough. Here we go...>>
Storm and Wolverine felt a gentle pull at their brains, bringing
them through a wormhole of sorts.
<<Welcome to the astral plane, X-Men. Hope you survive
>Enough with the jokes, Betts,< Logan said. >Now
<Now we find Rogue,> Storm answered, walking toward
the fortress with Logan behind her. Psylocke followed at a
Storm and Wolverine walked toward the wall cautiously. So
far, they had encountered no resistance in their approach.
Reaching out, they examined the wall itself, tracing the
cracks and testing its integrity. As they applied pressure
to the wall with their hands, more cracks appeared.
<This wall appears to be crumbling beneath our touch,>
Ororo told Psylocke, who watched their progress from afar.
<Should we continue trying to break through it, or would
that be dangerous?>
<<The fact that she's let you two this far means she's
trusting you two to be in her mind. If the wall is crumbling,
it is because Rogue has allowed it to do so. I don't believe
that pushing down the wall-gradually-will hurt her.>>
Ororo and Logan began to apply more pressure to the wall,
and the wall exhibited a curious reaction to their efforts.
Wolverine's strong punches against the wall would close up
the existing cracks, while Storm's more gentle knocking on
the walls created new ones.
>Funny how this works,< Logan commented, pausing after
a particularly hard blow to the wall had essentially erased
all their previous efforts.
<The child has been through much,> Ororo said. <A
gentle touch may mean more to her than the hardest of blows.>
>Let's try it, then.<
Logan followed Storm's example of knocking gently on the
wall. Between the two of them, they quickly managed to create
a hole large enough to crawl through, and they went through
into the fortress itself.
Elisabeth Braddock watched her teammates' progress with satisfaction
and a bit of frustration. Once Storm and Wolverine had passed
through the wall, she approached the structure.
A cold, icy wind struck her from the direction of the fortress,
growing stronger as she inched closer. She was almost able
to reach out to touch the wall when she felt the brunt of
an explosion that knocked her backward, into...a pile of snow?
Disoriented, she looked up to see Gambit standing above her,
except this Gambit was fuzzy and indistinct - she could see
right through him. But that didn't mean the impact of his
blast had hurt any less.
**You leave her alone,** the ghost-Gambit said. **She don'
be needin' your kind of help.**
Behind him, Psylocke could see the hole in the wall closing
up and the cracks fusing themselves until all that remained
was a smooth, seamless barrier.
<<She's withdrawn into herself,>> she told him.
<<If you care about her, let me through so I can help
**Sorry. I can't. It ain't my call.**
He scooped up a handful of the snow and charged it.
Storm and Wolverine wandered carefully through the dark shadows
of the city. Actually, it was less a city and more a ghost
town. The buildings had long since been abandoned, and a thick,
smoggy haze mixed with the humidity to make the hot air almost
unbearable. There was no light save that from a bright moon
overhead and what random street lamps hadn't been shattered.
>It's kinda like the Big Easy, Salem, New York, San Francisco,
Genosha an' Madripoor, all in one -- with a couple more mixed
in.< Logan commented.
As they walked through the shadowy streets, Logan noticed
the Princess Bar, with fragments of its main window littering
the sidewalk in front of it; the letters that had once been
painted on the glass now lay haphazardly on the cement, spelling
out -- with a few letters missing -- something that Logan
couldn't name, but which still nagged at the back of his brain
Just down the street from the notorious bar stood what appeared
to be an approximation of the Golden Gate Bridge, except this
bridge was swinging precariously over the crashing water of
the bay beneath it.
<This whole city -- it's so dark and sad. Abandoned. Is
that how Rogue feels?>
>I dunno, 'Ro. I dunno...<
They heard a scream from a distant alleyway.
<By the bright lady! That sounds like Rogue's voice!>
The two raced to the source of the sound. They were greeted
by the sight of their teammate, surrounded by innumerable
ghosts who were taking their turns beating her and shouting,
trying to tear into even her most private pain and cherished
She was lying, motionless on the dirty cement of the alleyway.
Her form was slowly becoming as fuzzy and indistinct as those
of her assailants.
Without a word, Storm and Wolverine leaped into the fray,
trying to separate the ghosts from their fallen comrade. The
ghosts offered little resistance, instead disappearing into
Logan lifted Rogue's form into his arms. >C'mon, darlin',
Storm's gloved hand patted Rogue's cheek. <Wake up, child.
It is safe now."
Rogue stirred slightly, and a soft moan escaped her lips.
"...safe?...ain' nevah gonna be safe..."
<What do you mean, child? Your attackers are gone.>
"...be back...put 'em here perm'nently..."
>What do you mean, Rogue?<
"...don' wanna *coff* talk about it...lemme sleep..."
The remaining streetlights around the trio began to dim.
The ghost-Gambit had battled Psylocke until she returned
to her original vantage point. As a 'parting gift', he had
thrown a barrage of snowballs at her, mercifully choosing
not to charge them, until she was practically buried in them.
As she tried to brush the snow off of her, she mentally reached
out to Storm and Wolverine.
<<Have you had any luck finding Rogue yet?>>
>Yeah, we've got her right here. But she's been beaten
up pretty bad.<
<I fear we should not move her from this spot.> Ororo
paused. <She says she wants to sleep. Even though this
is only her astral form, we should keep her awake, correct?>
<<Yes. If she falls unconscious here, her body could
go into some kind of shock, and it may cause us some trouble
as well, being here in her mind.>>
>So what should we do?<
<<Try to wake her up further until she is fully conscious.
Then we might safely return with her to the MedLab. By all
means, do not let her fall asleep.>>
The four X-Men returned to their bodies with a rush, momentarily
disoriented from their time in the astral plane. Beast and
Cecelia rushed to Rogue's bed to see if anything had changed.
Rogue had opened her eyes and was sitting up in the bed.
A weariness seemed to have come over her, making her look
far older than her young age. She looked up at the two doctors.
"Ah've gotten myself into quite the pinch this time,
haven't Ah?" she said, feebly attempting a joke. "Can't
a gal have a bad dream without the whole house startin' a
"You've been in a coma for at least the past three hours,"
"So what'd Ah miss?"
In the shadows, undetected by anyone else, he stood and watched
the assembled group.
=You draw strength from those around you -- from those
you call your friends. I'll grant you that, Rogue. But you
know above all else that those closest to you will betray
you in the end. You are strong now, but you are weakening.
And soon you will crumble.=
=And you will belong to me.=
Continued in Chapter
Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction /
Fan Artwork / History Books /
Photo Album / Songbank /
Miscellania / Links /
Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof
are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an
unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by