X-Men Evolution NEXT

Regression

Returning to her home, Mystique pulls her dark sedan into her driveway. She brings her car to a bumpy stop and parks it shaking her head. As she steps out of her car, she nearly trips and stumbles a bit due to the uneven cracked pavement that was once her smooth driveway. Mystique glances around the front of her yard and sees the disarray. Her once well kept lawn is now random patches of grass which have over grown into individual sprouts of knee high green hair surrounded by different tones of bare dirt and dry mud. A small indented path tells her where there was constant walking traffic through the center of her lawn. So indented is the path, it has become a water run off into the street, staining the road a light brown. Mystique sneers at the sight of her once beautiful private estate and carefully makes her way to the front porch. The wood holding her porch together seems to be intact, despite the distressed paint that chips and peels from it.

She notices a few of the windows have been shattered either inward r outwards, she can no longer tell. The musty odor of trash and festering mud almost causes her to gag as she steps up into her front porch. The wooden planks squeak and creak with her every step. Then she stops and turns around looking out in front of her lawn. Parked on the side, near the now water run off from her lawn, much to her surprise, is a shiny white sport car. Very flamboyant and very expensive looking, the vehicle sticks out, and Mystique thinks to her self, 'I told her low key.' and continues sneering as she walks through the front door. Then a soft yet stern female voice echoes in her mind, 'Honestly, Mystique, do you really think I would cart myself around in a rental like yours?' the voice says with a British accent. Mystique walks into her house and sees a young blonde woman standing by the fireplace with a somewhat snobbish expression on her face. She wears a completely white outfit that includes tight shiny white leather pants, with knee high thick sole boots of the same color covering her lower legs. A white halter top barely covers her upper torso revealing her fair skinned belly button and just enough cleavage to tease any onlookers. To make her appearance even more dramatic, she wears long white gloves that come up to the middle of her upper arms with a long billowing white cape that hangs from the front ends of the long gloves. She sports a white choker and dons her facial features with white lipstick and eye shadow to compliment her outfit. Mystique gives her a sarcastic grin as she says, "I guess there is no point with you dressing like that, Emma."

The blonde smiles at her and playfully poses as she replies, "Well, I have a reputation to up hold. I am the White Queen of the Hellfire Society."

Mystique adds, "Correction, you are Emma Frost, the wanted fugitive of the Hellfire Society. Lucky for me I found you first."

"Yes, lucky you," Emma says in a disappointed tone, "I do get tired of telepathically hiding myself from Federal agents from time to time. And your unique gift to create, if you will, contacts, has allowed me to evade incarceration thus far."

Smiling at her comment, Mystique replies, "Indeed, and I will continue to do so, as long as our deal is met."

"Yes, yes," Emma says waving her hands, "I am well aware of Charles Xavier's vast telepathic abilities. Rest assured, I have telepathically altered our psychic signatures to keep our minds hidden from his influence. But it won't last."

Mystique walks around what's left of her tattered couch and seats herself on the arm saying, "That is why we must act soon."

Emma taps her teeth with her white colored finger nails and asks, "One question, oh mighty leader, if this Allan person is as powerful as you say, how pray tell, do you plan to persuade him to, um, leave?"

"Just keep up your telepathic altering, Emma," Mystique replies, "I've taken precautions to insure victory. Sean is keeping tabs on Allan Paran even as we speak. As soon as he is clear of Xavier and his students, that's when we move."

Emma giggles covering her mouth and says, "Brilliant, you have the crooked cop watching Allan for us?"

Mystique looks at her plainly and adds, "That crooked cop is former Interpol agent. His connections can clear your name."

"Ahem, well," Emma replies, "quite the little team you've managed to pull together. What ever happened to this Brotherhood you created in this house?"

Glancing around the room with a slight hint of anger, Mystique says, "They are currently shacked up at Xavier's. Apparently, they've accepted his invitation. So I cannot count on their help anymore."

Emma gives Mystique a curious look and asks, "What is your deal with this Allan Paran person anyway? A lot of trouble just one person, even for a powerful person at that."

"Let's just say," Mystique says, "I have a unique perspective when dealing with people this powerful. And I will be prepared to deal with such this time."

There is a certain form of therapy Allan finds in playing sports. The amount of concentration trying to sift through the thoughts in his head while trying to be as accurate as possible when shooting basketball, allows him to space out. The occasional three pointer and lay up followed by a dramatic dunk allows his mind to drift a bit deeper. Although the mid day sun blares down on him, his unique physique keeps him from over exerting himself. He neither breaks out in a sweat nor does he feel the fatigue. Allan's body remains in a calm state, unstressed by mundane activities, such as sports, and he grows weary of it. His expression as he moves about on the institute basketball court slowly becomes sour. He makes every ball sink from the three point corner shot to the last second full court swish, proving his skill and accuracy. But for every successful play he completes, it still does not bring a smile to his face, nor does he gloat. Allan takes a deep breath and sighs out heavily as he crouches down lightly bouncing the ball in front of his knees. Allan stares at the bouncing ball with his sour expression unaware of the curious onlookers watching from all parts of the yard. Trying to engross herself in her novel, Rogue does her best to ignore Allan, but finds her eyes wandering in his direction, and she watches him aimlessly. She glances over by the pool area and notices Allison doing the same. She thinks to herself, 'Ah don't need this in my life right now. May be Ah should go over there and talk to him. Ah mean, it's not like we're linked at the hip or anythin'. What am Ah thinkin', Ah couldn't compete with Allison. She's got looks, talent, and probably a future. All Ah got is emotional baggage that will just hold him down. May be I should end this before we go any further.'

Rogue sighs out closing her eyes burying her face into her thick book. Then a soft voice with a British accent echoes in her head, 'Don't you think that would be too hasty?'

Looking up quickly, Rogue sees Elizabeth stand a few feet in front of her with a curious look on her face. Elizabeth quick speaks out, "Please forgive me. It was not my intention to listen. But your thoughts were so loud when I was walking by, it was hard to tune them out."

Rogue smiles at her and says, "It's alright, but you need to work on that."

Elizabeth asks, "Would you like some company?"

Sitting up and closing her book, Rogue replies, "Sure, pick a spot."

Elizabeth seats herself on the grass just in front of Rogue and looks over at Allan. She turns her gaze back to Rogue and smiles. Rogue says, "Ah guess Ah couldn't make any more obvious could Ah?"

"They say, action speak louder than words," Elizabeth adds, "They should try thoughts."

Rogue smiles at her again and asks, "So what else can read off me?"

Elizabeth replies, "I can only read your surface or quick thoughts. I need a little more concentration to get deeper into your mind. Don't worry, I don't plan to. But to answer your question, your thoughts and feelings are genuine. You shouldn't give up so easily. Not that it is any of my business of course."

"Ah'll be honest, Elizabeth, this is the last thing Ah ever thought Ah'd be dealin' with this summer." Rogue remarks.

"Well," Elizabeth says with a smile, "Things have a strange way of working out in the end. You just have to be willing to follow through." as she gestures to Allan.

Rogue looks at her with a bit of curiosity herself stating, "You know, for someone new to this school, you're very optimistic about things."

Elizabeth replies, "I'm usually not, but I do enjoy a good romance." as she giggles.

Allan sits still in a crouched position lightly bouncing the basketball in front of his knees. He looks up at the goal and takes deep breaths as he hold the ball firm. He twitches as images begin flashing in his mind. He shakes his head and dropping the ball. Images of strange faceless beings calling out to him flood his mind as he stands up grabbing head. They all call out to him at once, 'PLEASE SAVE OUR CHILDREN!'

They begin holding up small faceless children to him begging him to take them. He back away even further and screams out, "NO! Please don't make me do this!"

Allan staggers away, but finds himself surrounded by the faceless beings, all begging him to save their children. His eyes fill with tears as he watches each of them disintegrate one at a time. Their ashes fill the air causing him to cough frantically. The look of fear and disbelief washes over his face as realizes he is inhaling what were once living beings.

Allan screams in horror as he stumble and staggers, struggling to escape the overwhelming field of ashes. He falls to his knees and yells out, "STOP THIS!"

Rogue and Elizabeth run over to the basketball court as they see Allan on his knees with eyes shut tightly. The other student within ear shot start running over to him as well. Rogue yells out, "Allan! What's wrong!"

Allan's eyes open glowing a bright red with tears running down the side of his face. He raises both of his fist high in the air as he yells out again in anger, "I SAID STOP!"

His voice echoes loudly and angelic like around the estate as he swings his arms downward to the ground. Rogue yells out, "Everyone get down!"

Allan slams both of his fists violently into the ground with a loud thundering crack. The basketball court asphalt shatters under the impact as he causes a large shockwave rumbling the entire estate. Everyone around him is knocked off their feet as glass shatters and trees fall over. Allan reaches back up grabbing his head, and as though some one striking him hard, he falls flying onto his back unconscious. Rogue gets to her feet quickly and staggers to Allan's side. Her hands hover over him frantically unsure of what to do. The students slowly help each other up as Bobby runs up to Rogue asking, "What the heck was that?"

Rogue replies loudly, "Ah don't know! But he's out, we gotta help him!"

Sam adds, "Are you kidding, look at this place, he did all this in one hit!"

"SHUT UP AND HELP ME DAMN IT!" Rogue screams out.

Charles's voice echoes in their minds as he says, 'Students, remain calm please. Take Allan to the Danger Room immediately. I will meet you there.'

The students quickly gather around Allan and carefully carry him indoors. They make their way through the hallways passing other confused classmates. Waiting inside near the main elevator, Logan and Ororo assist them quickly as they carry Allan's limp body.

Some of the student stay behind to make room in the elevator leaving Bobby and Rogue top accompany Logan and Ororo down to the Danger Room Chamber. Rogue feels Allan face with her bare hands and states, "He's gettin' warmer. Logan, what's happenin' to him?"

Logan looks at her with concern and replies, "I don't know kid."

The elevator opens and they quickly carry Allan into the Danger Room where Charles and Hank wait calmly. Charles says, "Lay him flat on the floor and wait up stairs."

They all reluctantly turn and walk out as Charles adds, "Accept for you Rogue, you must remain here with me."

She asks, "Why me, Professor?"

He replies as she looks at her with a smile, "Because you are the only one that can save his humanity."

Rogue looks down at Allan face with concern. "What's wrong with him? He just started spazzing out, then, boom."

Charles closes his eyes and says, "He has been consciously repressing his powers and emotional memories, and it has been taking its toll on his psyche. I was afraid this was going to happen. He must have dropped his guard for an instant. And for a being such as he, an instant is all that it takes."

"What is he Professor?" Rogue asks.

"You will see for yourself, Rogue." Charles adds with a smile, "It is very hard to explain."

Charles sits back in his wheel chair and says, "Kneel next to him, Rogue. And try to relax, I'm going to bridge your minds."

Rogue asks again, "Why me Professor? Why am Ah the only one that can help him?"

"Because Rogue," Charles replies, "Allan has formed an emotional bond with you. A bond like that is very important to his humanity, more than you will both realize. Now, please close your eyes. And do not be afraid." as they both close their eyes while the Danger Room falls silent.

Up stairs, Scott calls out to Logan, who stands vigilant next to the elevator. Scotts says, "Logan, I think you'll want to see this. One of our security cameras caught it just before Allan's, um, attack."

Logan follows him to the security room as Scott points to a looping recording on the main screen. He glares at the looping image and sees a short scruffy dark haired man wearing a brown trench coat standing on the wall over looking the basketball court.

Logan growls out in a low tone, "Mastermind."


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