Future Pluperfect: Chapter 25


Textual Poaching Alert: Marvel owns everyone but Mirrin, although Social Services would have stripped custody long ago...

Kitty Pryde had been an X-Man of some sort since she was fourteen and Mandroids had come marching through the soda shop. Through a few different incarnations of teams - through a few different teams - she had long ago learned to take things with aplomb. People were dead and then they got better. The world was ending and then decided not to. Seemingly invincible aliens invaded Earth only to be turned back at the last possible moment. Wormholes in the fabric of space-time opened up on whims and best friends appeared and disappeared because of it.

If Kitty had to pick a moment when she stopped being surprised by anything, she'd probably say her adventures in Tokyo if only because the shock to the system had been so complete. It was one thing when trouble found the X-Men - Kitty had long ago known first hand that every alien in the multiverse had detailed directions to the mansion in Westchester - but it was a completely different kettle of kippered herring when it was your own family. (Except for Scott because Summerses just don't count.) Pryde Père et Fille had nearly been turned into demons - one figuratively and one literally -- on that adventure and Kitty had had the last of her cherished idols of childhood shattered.

So it was with a cool brow and a steady set of hands that Kitty fiddled with the computer interface in one of the Kurioon buildings. With the eerie glow from the cyborg tanks behind her and the occasional chatter of teammates in her ears, Kitty was at home amidst the panic. Either the world was going to end or it wasn't. And if there was one thing consistent about the X-Men, it was that for as much as trouble found them, escape routes tended to find them also.

"Any sudden bouts of inspiration?" Psylocke asked from behind her. As the sole telepath among the group, Betsy was left to coordinate efforts and network the various parties as the radio headsets were proving hit-and-miss propositions within the Kurioon complex. It was not a task she was especially suited for or one that she enjoyed at all. Even before the Hand (courtesy of the Siege Perilous) had left her with a body intended as a formidable primary weapon, Betsy's dislike of the intimate nature of telepathic connections had prompted her to use external 'mental butterflies' instead of the direct access favored by Charles and Jean. And yet here she was hopping in and out of nine other people's minds.

"I'd be doing a lot better if I could read what I was typing," Kitty replied without looking up. "No chance that you picked up a knowledge of thirty-eighth century languages while battling wits with Mirrin and Cable, eh?"

Psylocke's sigh was answer enough.

The screen was filled with gibberish. Kitty didn't even know if it made sense in its own language. The keyboard looked like a standard Western European set-up, but there were a ton of characters that didn't look familiar and it had become quite obvious that English wasn't a language the operating system was familiar with.

"No chance it's got somethin' easy like a Unix shell, hein?" Gambit asked from across the room where he was examining some exposed wiring on the off chance that the nest could be disabled by a simple short-circuit.

The others were scattered throughout the complex looking for clues. Nobody had any idea of how much or how little time they had before the thermonuclear weapons Mirrin had warned them about would detonate - if they would detonate. Archangel had been quite blunt in his statement that Cable and Mirrin were not exactly unquestionable resources anymore. Kitty had been away from the X-Men for too long to pick up on most of the subtlety of Warren's insinuations, but she really didn't care to be filled in. Not when Storm had creased her brow in that way that Kitty knew was her best effort to bite back an unleaderlike retort.

"I don't think we're going to be that lucky," Kitty sighed as she typed in every universal override command she knew. "And I am so not a software person..."

"Would that Doug were here," Psylocke murmured in agreement. "But I am sure that you'll come up with something."

"If only because I still hold the record for most times crashing the Danger Room network drive," Kitty replied, leaning back and eyeing the screen thoughtfully. "Actually... That might be it."

"What might be it?"

"Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, why not just go with what works?" Kitty asked as she turned around to face Psylocke. "We all know how to make the Danger Room go boom, right? Well, this is the Danger Room of the Real. All of the comforts of home, but no re-set button."

"It's a wager," Psylocke cautioned, "But I will be the first to admit that we are rapidly running out of less... hunch-based ideas."

Kitty was aware that most of the others were still skeptical of her assertion that the Kurioon technology was almost identical to certain components of the Danger Room at home. It was an incredible claim on the face of it, although Kitty privately thought it no more outrageous than what they had previously thought to be the truth (that the technology was Shi'ar in origin).

"You t'ink we can break everythin' like we do at home?" Gambit asked, tilting his head thoughtfully and putting down the wire strippers that had miraculously appeared out of his pocket earlier. "Well, I'm sure we can; but you really t'ink that'll do the trick?"

Kitty watched Gambit, inwardly amused that she could almost see the proverbial gears turning in his mind. Gambit had accepted her claims about the technological similarities without batting an eye. In fact while Kitty had been speaking, he had made some gesture in Rogue's direction as if to indicate that this information jibed with what he already knew. Of course, Gambit had had the most extensive dealings with Mirrin of anyone present, so...

"It perhaps might work," the voice of Storm could be heard through the headsets. "I do not believe in luck to the extent that we would be able to credit the ease with which we have entered the Kurioon complex simply to good fortune and the experience of a few thieves."

"Mirrin and Cable made it sound like the nests were these impenetrable fortresses we'd never breach," Rogue added, her voice coming through faintly. "And here we are."

"It would not be the first time we have been lulled into a false sense of security," Nightcrawler said, materializing suddenly next to Gambit, who made a moue of disgust as the smell of sulfur wafted past him. "The Kurioon think they have won, remember? They can afford to waste a few resources to make sure they get us the first time, ja?"

"It's too fancy," Wolverine's gravely voice came through the radio clearly. "Kurioon's never been delicate when it's come to disposin' of warm bodies. They got the same sense o' subtlety as Cable - no point usin' a popgun when you got a cannon. They wouldn't lull us into anything; they'd just line us up and blow us away."

"And since they haven't yet," Colossus continued, his voice cutting in and out as he was on the opposite side of the camp with Beast and Archangel trying to open up and dismantle the series of important-looking boxes Shadowcat had first tried to scan. "It does beg the question of why they have not. The Kurioon does not like to waste time, either."

"I think you should take that as a nearly unanimous vote to come up with a good idea for how to recreate the Danger Room," Psylocke said as she put a hand on Kitty's shoulder, a wry smile playing on her lips.

Kitty took the expression for what it was - a joke transmitted telepathically that wasn't going to be repeated aloud.

"Well, this has to be a collaborative effort," she replied. "What's everyone's most spectacular memory of making things go wrong?"

***

A rustling from the trees drew everyone's attention and the woman who appeared was in everyone's gun sight before she came out of the shadows completely.

"<Welcome to Hell, Dayspring.>"

"Dawnsilk," Cable said flatly.

She was not alone. Six Kurioon soldiers, yellow stripes on their helmets and chest plates, joined her with their plasma guns drawn.

"I believe the expression in Olde English is 'Drop your weapons'," Dawnsilk said with a delighted laugh as the Kurioon soldiers circled the group and came to rest with their hands on their weapons.

"Do it," Cyclops ordered, unsure if this person - whom Cable and Mirrin obviously knew - was aware of the fact that the X-Men rarely fought with firearms anyway.

The team complied and plasma rifles were dropped to the ground. The only sound was the barrel of Jean's weapon hitting a rock.

"<To answer the question that is going through your very open mind,>" Dawnsilk said as she strolled towards the team. "<I am a clone, but I am not a clone. A sound mind in a sound body. Me as I should have been, not what you turned me into.>"

She circled around the octet, looking at each person like she was a visitor in a museum. Pausing in front of Cyclops, she reached up and tapped the bridge of his visor with her index finger, chuckling to herself as he fought the impulse to pull away.

When she got to Mirrin and Havok, Dawnsilk snorted outright and turned away. After she did so, Mirrin looked over her shoulder at Havok and answered his raised eyebrow with a frown.

"<You were right, Dayspring, nobody could fix what was wrong with me,>" Dawnsilk went on as she passed by Cannonball and eyed him carefully. "<But even with all of our technology and you, Mirrin, with your harem of mind-witches with cloning tanks that you refused to use... There were other options. I found someone who was less willing to sacrifice their friends for their ideology.>"

"<So you became friends with the Canaanites?"> Cable asked with an ugly snort.

"<When they offer me gifts like this?>" Dawnsilk asked as she pirouetted back towards him, stopping in front of Domino, who looked sorely unimpressed. "<It was a very easy decision.>"

Sam watched the mysterious woman - Dawnsilk -- spin around in curious horror. Whoever she was, she had obviously meant something to Cable at some point. With everyone's mental shields stripped away, the mental link that had been created between them during their time together in X-Force had been exposed and Sam could faintly feel Cable's shock and disgust.

Looking over at Domino and then Phoenix and Cyclops, Sam could sense they felt the same mix of trepidation and confusion. Especially with their link to Cable being so much stronger than his own. Iceman and Havok just look concerned and confused, although until Dawnsilk switched into English again, everyone but Mirrin and Cable would be the same, left to watch and wonder.

"<What was the cost, 'Silk?>" Mirrin asked as she turning to follow Dawnsilk's progress. Havok kept his hands on her shoulders and she resisted the urge to lean into the comfort they offered. With their shields gone, Mirrin could hear his thoughts and didn't want to add that complication to a situation rapidly spiraling out of control. "<What did you have to give up besides your heart and your soul?">

"<Give up?"> Dawnsilk repeated with a giggle. "<I gave up nothing but a battle-scarred body and the prison of a destroyed mind. I gave up never being able to stop running.>"

"<Why?>" Cable asked in a harsh voice devoid of emotion. <"Why would you betray your family for... this? Once you were willing to die for our cause.>"

"<Your cause, Dayspring, your cause.>" Dawnsilk replied mournfully as she walked all the way over to Cable, reaching out to pat his cheek even as he flinched away.

"<I didn't betray Clan Chosen>," Dawnsilk said, her voice sickeningly sweet. "<You did when you left us to fight your war. Twenty years we waited. Twenty years since you left with Kane. Enough was enough. Clan Chosen exists no longer -- everyone's dead or fled.>"

Nathan's mind flashed to Tetherblood and Hope, his closest family, and to all of the people who had been part of the Clan as it had stood upon his last departure from the thirty-eighth century.

"<Dead and dead>," Dawnsilk replied with a casual shrug.

If either Nathan or Mirrin were surprised at Dawnsilk's newfound psionic abilities, they weren't saying anything.

"<Did you kill them?>" Mirrin asked, schooling her anger to remain buried.

"<Tetherblood was a sweet man>," Dawnsilk said to her by way of reply. "<He stayed faithful to Dayspring's memory until the end. You wanted to know the cost?... He welcomed it, I think. A chance to rest... Hope, well, she died on the battlefield. The last great stand of the Clan Chosen. We got slaughtered.>"

Jean watched the scene unfold with studied blandness. She could make out most of the conversation - the dialect they were using was not dissimilar to that used in Crestcoast - but couldn't understand much of the context. Nathan spoke so infrequently of the Clan Chosen, of his life in general after she and Scott had been dragged away from him. It was obvious that they were in danger and it was just as obvious that she should keep her partial awareness as quiet as possible.

"<I came to an understanding a few years ago>," Dawnsilk went on. "<I'm a mercenary. I've been a mercenary my whole life. I kill for food, steal for shelter, and destroy for profit. I used to be in your employ, Dayspring, but the Canaanites pay better.>"

"<You sacrificed your clanmates for your own comfort?>" Cable asked quietly, eye flashing angrily despite the mild tone. "<You took a blood oath to them.>"

"<Who was left?>" Dawnsilk asked. She shrugged casually and tapped her temple with an index finger. "<Even in the fractured little world you left me in, Dayspring, I understood the difference between loyalty and stupidity. How long before faith melts into foolishness? How long did you think we would last before we realized that you weren't coming to save us, that you were out for your own cause and our continued survival was nothing but a happy coincidence to your grand plan?>"

"<I never intended to abandon you,>" Cable said. His expression remained impassive, but it was easy to see the maelstrom just below the surface. To a warrior, the greatest sin was betrayal. "<I left to save you all.>"

"<What good is salvation if it comes too late?>" Dawnsilk asked bitterly. "<What good is it if I can't benefit from it? What good is it if it means ensuring that I never exist?>"

"<When did you get so selfish, 'Silk?>" Mirrin asked, letting the disgust seep into her voice. "<When did fighting for a better tomorrow become contingent on you being a part of it?>"

"<Selfish?>" Dawnsilk repeated in surprise, wheeling angrily to face Mirrin. "<This coming from you of all people?>"

Behind her, Mirrin could feel Havok tense slightly as Dawnsilk turned back towards them. He still had his hands on her shoulders and he squeezed lightly as Dawnsilk approached. Mirrin didn't spare the moment to tell him that defending her was not only not needed, but could be absolutely counter to their survival.

"<Selfish?>" Dawnsilk asked again, a withering laugh accompanying the word. "<You who took Aliya back in time to visit that coven and seduced her into going back into the arms of that Askani madwoman when she wanted nothing more to do with it... You call me selfish?>"

Mirrin stood impassively, not reacting physically to the words. Whore, traitor, mindless sheep, spy, killer... she had long ago let accusations as to the nature of her character go without reaction. There was only one person whose opinion mattered and she wasn't here right now.

"<Don't you think we noticed that you gave your favors unequally?>" Dawnsilk asked, an almost honest curiosity playing across her face. "<Don't you think we saw how you'd save Dayspring no matter what but then couldn't be found to teleport to safety those who were dying on the field? Don't you think everyone wanted to know why you never saved Aliya?>" She gave an ugly laugh. "<Even Dayspring wondered - he wonders now. Can't you hear it in his head? I can.>"

"<I owe you no justification, Dawnsilk,>" Mirrin replied coldly, ignoring the conflicting emotions pouring out of Nathan. Dawnsilk was right - he did wonder why she had never saved Aliya. And, true to Nathan, he felt guilty about wondering, torn between his faith that Mirrin would never do anything to hurt Aliya and his ever-present lack of trust in her own ability to see past the Askani mission. It wasn't always the people on the other side who called her names. "<Aliya understood and that's all that matters. I'm not going to apologize for not explaining things to you.>"

Dawnsilk shrugged, then gestured with her chin at Cable. "<I don't think I ever realized that Dayspring trusts you no more than we did... It's amazing what I can see now... all of your defenses stripped away. All of your insecurities and doubts open to me. All of your power.>"

She suddenly turned around and walked over to Iceman, smiling ingeniously as he stared back at her uncomprehending and concerned.

"All I have to do is think about doing something," Dawnsilk said to him, voice filled with wonder. "And you do it."

Iceman cried out as his hand started to freeze up, the ice traveling up his arm in a heartbeat before slowing down as he tried to wrest control of his powers back. He seemed to be losing the battle until Dawnsilk laughed suddenly and turned away, leaving Iceman to fall back onto the ground, breathing heavily and shaking.

"<I don't think I ever understood what kind of a fool you were, Dayspring,>" Dawnsilk said as she walked back to him, passing by Phoenix and eyeing her curiously. "<Until I came to this time. So much power and you waste it.>"

"<What do you want, 'Silk?>" Cable asked tiredly. "<You didn't come here-and-now to toy with us.>"

 "<True,>" she replied casually. "<I came here to kill you. No more Dayspring, no more Askani, no more challenge to Apocalypse. You die and I live.>"

"<So why are you wasting time?>" Cable asked.

"<Because I want to enjoy it,>" Dawnsilk answered. "<I have no intention of granting you easy passage out of this life. Not when I can make you suffer like you made me suffer.>"

Your own little clan, here in your native time," she continued, switching to heavily accented English as she turned and walked among the X-Men. "All happy and wealthy, mutants like you, not flatscans like us. Clan Chosen was the prototype, the beta test. Make your mistakes with us and get it right the next time."

Dawnsilk stopped in front of Cannonball again. "The boy even looks like Tyler. If I had let you live, would you screw this pup up as well? Remember that he's not your own kith and kin and abandon him in his time of need? Abandon him like you did all of us?"

With everyone's shields broken down and Dawnsilk obviously in possession of some kind of psionic control, Sam wasn't surprised that she saw him start at her words, the memories of Cable's various flights from X-Force coming to the surface unbidden.

"You already have," Dawnsilk laughed. "Oh, Dayspring, you are so precious. And so pathetic. You don't even learn from your own mistakes. It's just as well you won't live to make any more."

Now that the conversation was switching into English, the others became a little more active. Cyclops, Domino, and Cannonball automatically shifted into less submissive postures and Iceman picked himself up off of the ground.

Mirrin caught glances with Cable as Dawnsilk moved out of their line of sight. He returned a look that bespoke all business, although Mirrin wasn't so sure how much of that was an honest ability to move past Dawnsilk's too-accurate words and how much was the simple realization that the only way to avoid having your brain picked by a telepath was to intentionally think of nothing. Probably the latter.

"Let's see, where should I start," Dawnsilk mused as she turned around slowly.

***

The group had assembled in one of the cloning buildings to brainstorm together, sitting down on stools and overturned buckets and ignoring the burbling noises that came from the cyborg tanks.

And a half-hour later, Kitty was getting a pretty good idea of how best to disable the Kurioon nest.

Not surprisingly, the common thread of everyone's tales of mishap involved their various mutant powers. Originally, this had been taken for granted - the Shi'ar were technologically superior to Earth-bound humans, but they had no special abilities of their own.

"As has oft been the case in past adventures," the Beast mused as he tapped his cheek with one clawed finger, "Our opponents could perhaps have overestimated the advantage of technology."

"The Kurioon was built to... neutralize humans," Archangel agreed, feathers fluttering in revulsion. "So it would make sense that we could surprise them a little..."

"Too bad we aren't immune to them as we were the Phalanx," Psylocke said wistfully as she looked around. It had been a nauseating feeling to realize that the cloning tanks were probably powered by the energy gathered by the Harvesters.

"So what do we have here," Kitty murmured as she looked around at her cohort. "Trouble caused by powers of flight, by energy surges, by superhuman strength and dexterity, and by... unexpected disappearances, for lack of a better term," she finished, smiling crookedly at Nightcrawler and Psylocke.

"Not to be the party pooper here," Rogue spoke up from where she was sitting on what was probably an overturned garbage can, "But we still don't know why the whole installation hasn't exploded yet. Thermonuclear weapons, remember?"

The group was silent for a moment until Gambit chuckled to himself... "Peut-être Psylocke got her wish. Mebbe we are immune like with the Phalanx. If the Kurioon thinks de good guys are the mutants and de bad guys are the humans..."

"Then there is no reason for the alarms to have been triggered," Archangel finished, a smile dawning on his face.

"But what about Cable and Mirrin?" Colossus pointed out. "They are both mutant enemies of the Kurioon. In fact the Kurioon was supposed to be sent back here to find Cable."

"And that group Mirrin belongs to - the one Cable's supposed to be the messiah for," Psylocke added, pushing off of the wall she had been leaning against. "The Askani. They were all mutants, yes?"

"If I recall correctly the tale Cyclops and Phoenix told of their honeymoon in the future," the Beast said slowly, "The Askani were considered extinct by the time young Cable was out of diapers. While that does raise the interesting question as to Mirrin's own provenance, it would explain why the Kurioon would not be programmed to consider them a threat."

"Th' Askani weren't dead," Gambit spoke up, earning curious stares. "Mirrin said somethin' bout that once. They weren't killed off 'til Cable was grown."

"Well, that would grant even further credence to the theory that the Kurioon would not consider them a threat, if not necessarily answering the question about Mirrin's background," the Beast replied.

"And Cable?" Kitty asked.

"Cable was part of a war clan," Storm answered. "As leader, he would have rarely been alone on a mission. Certainly not on the most dangerous ones. It would not be a great leap to assume that he was never the sole penetrator of a Kurioon nest."

"From what Mirrin was talkin' about, neither she nor Cable had been part of a Kurioon raiding party," Wolverine said.

"They were working from anecdotal evidence," the Beast agreed. "The two of them might not know if a mutant-only expedition would pass undetected."

"Well," Kitty said as she swiveled her seat to look at everyone else, "Now that we've come up with a working theory on why things haven't blown up, let's start working on a way to undo it."

"We can generalize our history of Danger Room difficulties into problems of confrontation and problems of avoidance," Storm reviewed thoughtfully. "Our next question is to decide where to apply these conclusions."

"Gotta find something to confront," Wolverine pointed out. "Or at least figure out if anything's gonna stop us just dismantling this place."

***

Iceman dusted himself off and tried to keep his thoughts as quiet as he could. Dawnsilk's touch in his head had been clumsy, wobbly almost, and reminded him of a new-born colt trying to stand. He wished he remembered if Mirrin's telepathy had been affected by time displacement, if perhaps this unsureness could be used...

His head jerked up as Dawnsilk barked a command in whatever language she had been speaking in before. Cable roared something back in defiance and Iceman could feel the weird stillness that came with a telekinetic shield being drawn up around them...and then fading away.

One of the Kurioon soldiers opened fire on Jean, who deflected the blast with her own telekinesis.

The other five soldiers trained their guns on Cyclops, who had moved towards his wife.

"Adequate," Dawnsilk said dismissively to Phoenix as the latter woman stood up from where she had been driven to her knees by the force of the plasma blast. Before Phoenix could retort, Dawnsilk turned away and waggled her finger at Iceman. "Don't you even try to freeze anyone. I can hear you think through every move. I am not as vulnerable as you think I am."

"Now you see how easily I can play with your mind," she turned and told Cable. "I can turn off your telekinesis just like that," she said, snapping her fingers for emphasis. "And then where would your sickness take you? Maybe that will be how I kill you. Letting the virus do its work. Especially now that I know which one is the other telekinetic so I know who to kill rather than let her hold you together."

"Leave the others alone," Cable ground out. "If it's me you want, then fine. Let the others go."

"No," Dawnsilk replied with a laugh. "Because I'm not about to do anything that's going to let your little pet Askani run off for help. You all die. And you get to be the last so that you can watch it all happen. Unlike the last time."

Havok watched the scene unfold and waited. Past experience with telepaths gone bad - see 'Pryor, Madelyne' - had left him with the knowledge that just because someone could see into everyone's heads didn't mean they could do it all at once. All he had to do was keep his mind quiet and wait for Dawnsilk to be busy before asking Mirrin what the hell was going on and what could they do about it.

"She's drunk on the power," Mirrin whispered to him. "The Dawnsilk I knew should have already closed down our minds and taken off our heads..."

"You're going to have to explain all of this to me later," he replied in a similarly low voice, watching as Dawnsilk was taunting Cable in whatever language it was that they both spoke.

Mirrin nodded, but said nothing else as Dawnsilk turned away from Cable and came towards them.

"I want to be close to you when I do this," Dawnsilk told Mirrin with a gleeful smile that was a sickening contrast to the cold cruelty in her eyes. "I want to watch you betray everything you've ever held dear."

Mirrin raised her chin defiantly and Dawnsilk laughed. "Keep your hands on her," Dawnsilk told Havok. "She's going to need all the support she can get."

"What are you going to do?" Cyclops asked from behind them.

"Did you ever hear about what your grandson did to me?" Dawnsilk asked, not turning around to face him. Instead, she kept her eyes on Mirrin, waiting for realization to dawn. "Broke my mind into such tiny pieces that nobody could put it back together. Nobody."

All of a sudden, Cable doubled over, holding his head.

"Stop," Mirrin yelled. "Drop the neural link."

"Why?" Cable asked in a voice that was clearly not his. He looked up, head tilted in curiosity. "You know what has to be done."

"No," Mirrin hissed.

Phoenix ran over to where Cable knelt on the ground. She tried to turn his face towards her, but was swept aside in a telekinetic wave and flew through the air, landing near Cannonball, who crouched to protect her.

"Time is wasting, Ay'el," Cable (Dawnsilk) called in a sing-song voice, his expression oddly cheerful.

All of a sudden, Domino cried out and fell to the ground, clearly unconscious.

"Drop the link," Mirrin growled.

"Do unto others as has been done unto you," Cable continued.

Cannonball crumpled next to the fallen Phoenix.

"The next one won't be as gentle," Dawnsilk warned.

"Mirrin," Cyclops called out. "Do it!"

"I could kill him," Mirrin yelled back.

"Cable wouldn't want you to sacrifice everyone for him," Cyclops replied, his mental voice not nearly as collected as his spoken one.

"That's what you're betting on, isn't it?" Mirrin asked Dawnsilk with an angry hiss.

"Girl's not as stupid as she acts," Dawnsilk told Havok approvingly.

"Three, two, one," Cable called out, pointing his outstretched arm first at Iceman, then at Mirrin and Havok, then at Cyclops. "Boo..."

The word was cut off as Mirrin raised her arm as the bracelet weapon extended over her hand and took a step forward to free herself from Havok's arms, firing at Cable.

Cable grunted in pain and fell backwards with the blast. Closer to Mirrin, Dawnsilk took a step back as the neural link was shaken.

Havok took a step closer to Mirrin as she fired again.

This time, Havok thought the neural link must have snapped as Dawnsilk sucked her breath in sharply and stumbled and the prone form of Cable shuddered before lying still.

Havok caught Mirrin as she grabbed her own head and cried out before collapsing.

Dawnsilk laughed as Havok crouched to lay Mirrin down gently. He was at too awkward an angle to scoop her up. From the new perspective, he could see that Cyclops, too, had been felled.

"Feedback," Dawnsilk explained. "All of the psionic energy from the link being broken had to get out somehow. Whoever you and he," and here she gestured towards the horrified Iceman, the only other one standing, "are, you don't have any sort of mental links to Dayspring."

"What do you want now?" Havok asked coldly, resisting the urge to wipe the tears away from Mirrin's closed eyes.

"I'll settle for you and your friend coming quietly," Dawnsilk said after a moment. "We have a little time before round two."

***


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