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Chapter One: The Watch
Yowzah! Barry screamed to himself in his mind Working with this team might not be as bad as I thought it would be. His mind was processing all of this information rapidly Help save the universe, keep dad pissed off because he can't find me and work with not one, not two, not three, but four killer chicks! "So...uhhh what'sup Doc?" he said to his new teammates.
Why are these people staring at me? Will they judge me? What am I doing here? Rogue tried to make herself seem as smal as possible as she turned to face the group before her. She wrapped her arms around heself as her eyes shifted quickly from face to face studied and reading their expressions. Still struggling with her past she has a difficult time meeting new people, feeling as though they might judge her for something she had no control of. She thought about speaking and then quickly changed her mind. She would wait to be spoken to, at least for now.
Peter gave a slight nod to the answer the caped wizard had given him, not entirely satisfied with it. Time would vary. He wouldn't be able to calculate how much time he would miss on his world, he just knew that some amount of time would pass. He didn't know if such a factor could be tolerable, or if Panther and the others would be able to understandibly excuse his abscence. He would have to wait and see.
Peter's pace started to slow, putting him near the end of the group. He let his thoughts become his primary concern for the moment, allowing them to take his attention away from the answers Dr. Strange had given Tessa and Victoria. The time issue was nagging at him from the inside, and he could help but feel guilty for leaving the Resistance.
Such thoughts, however, were pushed aside as the good doctor opened a door to reveal three new faces. One he recognized. Her face triggered a feeling a warmth inside the spider, small, but it was there. On his world she had been a treasured companion, almost like a little sister. She listened and helped him with his problems, and he did the same for her. That same companionship only grew stronger after the unmentionable happened. The only thing that kept her from becoming a full time member was her age, which was 17 the last time he'd seen her, though she was counting down the days till that would change. In fact, the only noticable difference that he could find between this Rogue and his Rogue, was their age. The Rogue before him was clearly not in her teen years and may possibly even be older than he was. Getting to know this version of Rogue would prove interesting to say the least. But for now, he would stand back and allow her to become familiar with her new teammates. Still, it was a pleasant surprise to see her face.
Letting more serious concerns consume him, Peter again let himself fall to the rear of the group and watched them as they waited for Dr. Strange to return.
Victoria watched Dr. Strange leave and crossed her arms over her chest as she eyed the newcomers up. Not that she was forming any biased opinions or the like, but she had been in this situation too many times before and it was always a good idea to measure your first impressions.
Stepping away from where the group had gathered, she closed her eyes for a few moments and willed away the hissing voice of the Phoenix that had appeared in her head as they left the Watcher.
The Phoenix was a cosmic entity, and they were in space, so it's voice was louder here than it ever had been back on earth.
Closing her eyes for a moment, she rubbed them with her fingertips before she opened them and turned back towards everyone again.
"I hear you in there, now please be silent so I can get a good idea of what's going on." she growled mentally at the Phoenix before speaking up.
"Paige, you still don't have that whisky bottle by any chance do you?" Victoria grinned softly and looked over at Husk. "I shouldn't have even asked, you probably finished the whole thing off yourself." again, she smiled before turning to introduce herself to the new people.
"Greetings, Salutations and all that happy Jazz... My name's Victoria, I hate my codename and only use it to scare people so if you want to be scared, call me Sinistra, otherwise, call me Toria and we'll get along great...that is...we'll get along even better." the small red diamond tattoo on her forehead began to glow just slightly at the mention of her code name and she felt it. Reaching up, she rubbed it just slightly before rolling her eyes.
"Makes me glad I got rid of the cloak." she muttered before clearing her throat and looking at Hank. "And the shag rug here is Dr. Henry McCoy, known as The Beast...and trust me, he is one." she snickered, putting her hand to her mouth before she motioned towards Tessa and Paige.
"The knock out beauty with the body that would make a man weep..well, that's Husk... and the lady next to her is Sage...and she's not too bad herself." Victoria scratched her head for a moment then held her hand out towards Spider-Man. "And this mysteriously broody one is known as Spider-Man. Now, you know us...or our who the hell are you?" Crossing her arms again, she leaned against the garden wall and waited for an answer.
Shifting her weight from one combat booted foot to the other Paige took in the three new faces, wondering if like her they were doing the same thing. As Paige’s blue eyes grazed over each new face she absentmindedly slide the wedding band on her left ring finger off and on again, finding the same comfort in it now as she had back on their last mission. It was a small reminder that she had someone who loved her with all his heart and the one person who had kept her going back during their last mission. The life of a superhero wasn’t for the faint of heart, and most would have thought the petite blond would have tossed in the towel years ago, and in all honestly she would have had it not been for her competitive nature and the fact that she had to prove that as a mutant and a superhero she was just as capable as dear ole’ older brother Sam.

Sam, big brother…hopefully yuh’re safe and healthy. Ah’ve seen a version of yuh die, don’t need to be seeing my actual Sammy lyin’ dead. Paige thought to herself fighting back the tears that threatened to fall when she thought of the last time she’d spoke with Sam in her reality. They’d fought something fierce and her parting words had been along the lines of ‘Ah wish yuh’d never been born…’ Looking back Paige wished she hadn’t spoken those words to him, but teenager emotions were strong and anger clouded her judgment. Ah have t’ make it back, if only to tell Sammy ah don’t hate him. The blond shifted her weight again, pulling herself out of her thoughts when Victoria asked her if she had the whiskey bottle still.

“Are yuh kidding, ah couldn’t finish an entire whiskey bottle by mahself. This little body can’t handle that much liquor.” Paige said as she reached into the inside pocket of her jacket and pulled out the bottle, thankful that she’d grabbed it before departing from the Timebroker’s office. “Ah learned long ago drownin’ yuh’re sorrows in the bottom of a bottle doesn’t work…not for me anyway.” The blond flashed a lopsided smile as she noted she didn’t have anything to be sad over, Jono was alive and well and knew that she was as well. She had at least four people on this team who knew her and cared for her like a little sister, and she had a purpose…what else could a girl want?

Giggling softly as ‘Toria introduced them all to the new comers and made the comment about Paige and her body the small blond couldn’t resist striking a pose and flashing them a dazzling smile, one which hadn’t been seen in many days if not months. “’Toria flattery with get yuh everywhere.” Paige informed the pale skinned beauty, a little bit of the southerner’s carefree personality showing through in that small moment.
Very slowly Rogue straightened up into her full form. Praying that the right words came, she began to speak. "My name is Rogue. In my reality I was a member of the X-Men before being brought here." She stopped there. It's better not to offer up too much information until they ask. She turned her head to look at the stranger who had been brought with her. She was intrigued by these strangers, but not quite sure if she could trust them yet.
"Rogue’s less informative than Spiderman.” Tessa thought mostly to herself, keeping a neutral look on her face as she was introduced by Victoria.
“Nice to meet the both of you, my name is Tessa if you prefer names to codenames.” She stated simply, while falling back into the routine of taking in small mannerisms and whatever information could be gleaned from the two newcomers.
“Do you think that the boy will be a problem?” Tessa projected telepathically to ‘Toria, “Should we have Hank give him a spiel on how he should stay away from women older than he is? Or perhaps give him the birds & bees speech.” The dark-haired human computer knew that Beast would get the message via ‘Toria, and the faintest hint of a smirk could be seen creeping acrossed her pale features.
“Were you on active duty with the X-men?” She questioned Rogue in her usual manner, making certain that she did not become too disconnected for the sake of the newcomer’s comfort levels.

Victoria, Hank, Spiderman, and Paige were used to her personality she would hope but Matua, Rogue and the boy she suspected might be put-off by the analytical approach she had to situations.
“Or did you work with the team in some other form?” Tessa continued, estimating Rogue’s age as being in her mid-20’s…so it was obvious she was not a student of any sort, at least not in the most literal of terms.
Peter watched the introductions proceed, his arms folded across his chest. His attention was more on Rogue than the boy at the moment. She seemed very reluctant to reveal any information about herself. Infact, she appeared to be quite timid, frightened even, when it came to socializing with the new faces she was meeting. He wondered why.
For him, he usually kept quiet or, as Felicia would say, 'gave people the cold shoulder' in order to keep from getting attached, to prevent himself from opening up so he wouldn't have a repeat of Bobby Drake. But Rogue was acting as if she was worried of not being accepted or liked. It would require looking into, but later.
Peter looked around his surroundings briefly and, upon finding nothing of sigificant interest, returned his gaze to the others, waiting for things to get started.
"Barry's the name. Barry West. Heir to the Flash Legacy." he said absent-mindedly and rolled his eyes "Name's in homage to the greatest Flash that has ever lived and son to the latest. Tried running away from home but instead of getting to Titans Tower, I ended up here." He wasn't much of a superhero, and he didn't much care about the Flash legacy either. "So, I'm thinking that saving the universe or whatever will get me in a bit better graces with me folks, and make my sis jealous."
Rogue looked at Tessa, carefully analyzing her expression. "I spent some time in the folds of th X-Men family. I was never really on active duty." Rogue recalled the memory of Professor Xavier's offer and is warm aceptance of her after the incident. Shaking herself out of the daydream, she was at a lack of words. She hoped her answer would suffice.
Hank walked along in silence. His sensitive hearing picked up the conversations around him, and his mind processed them along with the mental banter between 'Toria and Tessa. The main part of his attention was taken up with their surroundings, the strange ruins of a city which despite it's obvious antiquity was obviously far in advance of the Earth's current level of technology. The city itself was startling enough, but the fact that it was in an otherwise nondescript crater on the surface of the moon made it doubly so. Or it would have been, were it not for the less than happy memories Hank had of the place.


"Bobby! Look Out!" cried Hank as he leapt over the fallen Shi'ar warrior who had recently given up attacking him and was now enjoying a well earned respite from the ongoing battle. At Beast's hasty warning, Iceman spun around, erecting a twenty foot wall of ice as he turned, blocking himself off from the advancing troop of aliens. Before they could reform and attack from another direction, the three startled Shi'ar were buried under a couple of ton's of frozen water as a beam from Cyclops ripped across the battle field.

"Stop playing with these guys!" he said angrily as Hank landed next to him, his feet sending a plume of grey dust skyward. "We are the only thing between them and Earth!" Scott let out another crimson blast of energy, sending another troop of Shi'ar diving for cover. Their enemies were only disconcerted for a short time however, and the trio of X-Men were soon running for cover themselves as a salvo of blasts from the alien's weapons exploded around them. Throwing themselves into the nearest doorway, Hank Bobby and Scott hunkered down in the darkness enjoying the brief respite from the battle.

"I thought the Professor said that the Shi'ar were our friends." said Bobby finally as he peered worriedly out of the doorway. He yanked his head back violently as another blast struck the jam, sending a shower of ancient stone cascading over the three. "Cough! They are. At least most of them." replied Scott, spitting the dusty rock from his mouth. "This lot is under the control of Lilandra's elder sister. Apparently she thinks Earth would be a great source for slaves and cannon fodder in her fight to regain control of the empire." The explosions against the wall outside caused the room to shake violently. "We should not tarry here long." said Hank as he looked at a crack spreading up over the arched ceiling. "I fear this structure is not as stable as we first surmised and the constant barrage is weakening it substantially." Bobby arched an eyebrow at him. "Can't you just say it's not gonna take many more blasts like that?" he asked with a wry smile, which was quickly replaced with a look of grim determination as he turned back towards the doorway.

"I think I can throw up another ice shield. It should hold them back long enough for us to relocate." He said, glancing at Scott. "Go for it Bobby!" said Scott as he brought his hand to his visor in preperation. "On Three!... One.. Two.. Th..." Scott's final word was drowned out by a deafening roar from above which filled the small room, causing the three men to wince in pain as they looked at each other. "Banshee!" They mouthed almost in unison, although any sound they made was lost in the fury of their irish comrade's assault, and rushed headlong for the door exiting in time to see their attackers shelter crumbling under the sonic bombardment.

Racing headlong across the ruined square, the three stalwart x-men closed on their yellow and green garbed companion. "Sean. You're intervention was most punctual." said Hank clapping a large hand on Banshee's shoulder. "Tis right enough laddie. Ye can always count'n an irishman in times o' trouble." said Sean Cassidy as he turned, his ruddy features breaking into a broad grin. "Now, let's get back tae the rest o' the team before more o' these space fellas show up." As he spoke the sound of Shi'ar gunfire rose in the near distance and Sean's smile fell away almost instantly. Hank, Bobby and Scott looked on in shocked silence as an unmistakable splash of red spread over the front of Banshee's uniform. For long ages time seemed to stand still. Then abruptly Sean Cassidy fell to the ground. "Sean...?"


"Sean." Hank paused looking out across the abandoned alien city. He thought about all the other friends and comrades he had lost in the line of duty both as an X-man and since he had been abducted by the Timebroker. They had given their lives to make a difference. To save something bigger than themselves. And he knew that given the choice they would do it all again. "Here's tae ye laddie" thought Hank as he strode after the rest of the team, catching up to them as they entered the gardens and were introduced to some more newcomers. "Rogue? Marie?" thought Hank, then he began to pick up the subtle differences, a slight shift in scent and the way she held herself. No this wasn't the Rogue they knew previously.

It was something they were definitely going to have to get used to, seeing these strange familiar faces. He stood quietly near the back of the group, still somewhat disconcerted at his memory, although he couldn't help a small chuckle as 'Toria worked her way around the group. His mood began to lighten little by little, perhaps it was being in the company of the woman he loved and the people he had come to think of as friends over the past few months. Friends he had thought he may never see again. He looked around at the newcomers, wondering what they made of all this.
Victoria gave Tessa another one of those patented "You didn't just think that looks" before replying to her mental barbs.
"Oh yeah, and Hank's just the guy to talk to someone about dating older women." her smirk got even wider as Barry introduced himself.
"Wonderful!" She threw her hands in the air and laughed softly. "Someone else with Father issues too! We'll definately have to compare notes!"

"Look at you...foolish child..." the Phoenix hissed inside Victoria's head.
"Come on already, I've told you, leave me alone for a while." The laughing retort she received at her mental plea was enough to let her know what her answer was to that.
"You know, all I have to do is die...and I'm not adverse to that." Closing her eyes for a moment, she shook off the feeling of a thousand voices inside her head when she caught Hank's thoughts.
"She does look alot like Marie, doesn't she? The others however...interesting. But we've done this before...You know how it always ended." Victoria was rather loath to become overly friendly with the newcomers, history had an evil way of repeating itself and she was just now beginning to get over the loss of Scott and Sam.
"So...this is the moon huh? Well..ain't that just a laugh." she said more to herself than anything. Having never set foot off the earth's surface, this was definately a new experience.
Feeling the now all too familiar sensation, Rogue reached down to pick up the thick brown cloak from around her feet. The cloak looked as though it had seen a war, between the charred spots and the thin worn threads, it was her shield. She pulled it up around her and put up the hood. She began to wander a small distance from the group. "I can't let them see me like this...not yet." "Here it comes," she thought. She looked down as her fingers began to take on a rocky looking appearance and her feet began to disappear. A single tear slid down her face. She couldn't help it, she always cried when she began to change. The memories were too powerful. Someday these powers won't sneak up on me. Someday I will have control. Someday I will be free. Another tear rolled down her cheek at the thought of freedom.
Peter looked over at the young boy with minor interest, but it was enough to grab his attention. He had never heard of 'The Flash' or Titans Tower. With his other teammates he could at least relate or recognize names and places from their world. His was the first he did not, not yet at least.
Whatever interest Barry West posed to him was lost when the masked freedom fighter noticed Rogue trying to make her self isolated. He cocked an eyebrow as she concealed herself in her cloak, which looked like something some of the mutant kids wore back home, and then put some distance between herself and the team. Her back was turned to him so he couldn't see the reason for her sudden retreat, but he knew that something had to be wrong for her to act like this.
Part of him wanted to just ignore her and keep to himself while he waited for Dr. Strange to give them their fisrt mission under his wing. But he knew that should he do that, his conscience would continue to nag at him, and so he gave in. He slowly walked over to Rogue placing his hand on her shoulder, yet still facing her back.
"You know, the team is over there, Ms. Marie."
He spoke in a plain almost dull tone. If there was any compasion in his voice, it was well hidden, but he hoped that his actions would tell her otherwise.

(GM note: Remember, the team does not know Rogue's real name. The only reason Spider-man would know it is because he knew her from his reality. Her bio lists her real name as 'unknown')
She recognized this transformation as a defense mechanism. She remembered what Professor Xavier had told her. You can will this away, Rogue. Clear your mind. Concentrate. Relax. She was doing just that when the hands on her shoulder shook her concentration. At the sound of her name she lost her grip on the cloak and the hood slipped off and slid down her shoulder, revealing an invisible back and a rocky shoulder. She turned to face this Spider Man and couldn't stop the tears. She looked down at the ground, and whispered, "Now you know".
For a moment the spider remained silent, his hand leaving her shoulder as she turned to face him. The sight didn't surprise him. He'd seen stranger things in his days, like a vampire rescuing him from his imprisonment from Weapon X. He remained silent not because he was shocked at the sight, but because he was confused.
Rogue's sudden need to conceal herself and then her transformed and mixed appearance obviously meant that the girl had some trouble controlling her powers. What bothered him was why such difficulties would cause her to almost break down crying. True, the Rogue he knew never did that kind of waredrobe change, or had trouble keeping her powers under control, and he could see why such things would be frustrating at times. Suddenly becoming rock form in public surely caused problems. But it wasn't as if they were going to persecute her for it. Why would that trouble her so?
"Why are you crying? I understand that such changes could be troublesome, but why would it cause you to be this distraught?"
His voice had maintained its previous tone. He knew it wasn't the most comforting thing to say, but he wanted to better understand her situation, hoping that once he had, it would allow him to help her.
Victoria watched the scene between Spider-Man and Rogue play out with mild amusement. Irritation was more to the kin of the feeling, but she pushed it off.
"Look sweetheart, I hate to sound all negative nancy about this, but if you had planned on keeping your "problem" a secret...then perhaps taking Dr. Strange up on his offer and joining a team wasn't the wisest move."
Crossing her arms over her chest, Victoria gauged the reaction from each of her team members to the statement she had just made.
"I've lost entirely too many teammates in the line of duty to have to deal with a weeping willow day one." She looked at Tessa squarely in the eye for a moment and arched her brow.
"Come on, I know I sound like Kyle, but admit it, even as much as I hate to, he was right to a point. Besides, I've had fits and breakdowns myself, but could you imagine every time I let the Phoenix loose if I did "THAT?" Someone's gotta calm the girl down or she's a liability off the start. "
Losing Scott had hurt, badly. Moreso maybe than Victoria herself was willing to admit. She still felt him with her, to some aspect and his blood ran through her veins. But she was bound and determined not to lose another team member. And in his own perverse way, Kyle had always been right. Loath as she was to admit it, she herself was a major liability to the team.
Those days were gone now...Victoria was much more than the scared girl who had been ripped from a lab more than a year ago. She had grown, developed her powers, become the person she had wanted to, not the person Sinister had created. Sam had even taught her that was just all too soon after all this...and seeing this woman break down infront of her after everything they had been through, before the first task had been set before them, was enough to irritate Victoria to no end.
Her eyes locked with Hank's yellow ones and she smiled. She knew he could feel and hear everything she was thinking and the emotions that were rolling through her. It was hard enough dealing with the louder than ever voice of the Phoenix in her head, now this.
"Maybe we should just sneak off home and introduce you to Piotr and Kitty, would be alot less painful."
Matua had long ago strayed from the rest of the group and made his way back into the chamber he had found himself in when this had all began. Gazing upwards towards the heavens, he let his eyes fall upon Uatu, drawing in slow, deep breaths as he struggled for the words he wished to say. The mere thought of what he was about to do filled him with abject terror, and at the same time broke his heart. How could he hold true to his morals and principles in a situation like this? When it seemed that no matter what his choice was, he'd be betraying someone's trust. Letting them down. But he had to follow what his heart dictated, for even if he couldn't stay true to his principles, he could stay true to himself.

"I am unsure if you can hear me or not, but I fear that I must say what I have come to you to say. I am deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity you have given me, and nothing would fill my soul with more joy than to help you in a quest that is so familiar to my own. However you have pulled me from my friends at a most deplorable time. I need you to send me back....."

He waited for a moment to see if his words would garner any sort of responce, knowing that up until this point it had been the Doctor who'd been doing all the talking.

"I solemnly promise to return to you when you may need me, but my friends..."

There was a moment of hesitation as thoughts of what they might be going thru in that instant passed through his head, almost bringing a tear to his eye.

" friends are fighting for their lives, and the lives of everyone they love. I cannot abandon them in this, one of their most desperate hours. So I beg of you please.....please allow me passage back to where I was before, so that I may continue the struggle alongside my people. At least until I can be sure that they will not need me outright."

He hung his head a bit after his request, hoping and praying to the gods that his plea would not go unanswered.
Victoria's response was what Rogue was afraid of. If only she had just a little more control it wouldn't be so bad. Using what little confidence she had, she dropped the cloak and revelaed her full self to this group of strangers. Her left arm was larger, orange and rock like in appearance, her torso and legs were invisible, and her right hand began to start on fire. Without a thought, she just began to get angry.

"Can't y'all just see what I've done! Do you have to judge? I agreed to come along to get away from the stares and the ridicule. I just wanted to find some peace around me, because I sure as hell can't find it within."

She stopped. She was shaking so hard she could hardly stand. Falling to her knees, she buried her face in her hands.

"I didn't choose this. It's not what I do. It was an accident, I never meant for it to happen. If y'all feel the same, I will leave. I just thought that maybe y'all could help me, and maybe I could help you. Maybe I was wrong."

Unable to say much more she stopped. Ignoring everything else around her she began to concentrate. She concentrated on looking normal again mor ethan she had ever concentrated before. She slowly began to feel the powers let go. She was returning to her normal self again, but for how long was the question.
Peter was about to respond to Victoria's remarks, but Rogue beat him to it. He as he watched the young lady release her anger and frustration the pieces to her mystery slowly began to fall in place.
"So, judging from her outbursts, this Marie must have unwittingly caused some kind of accident that has left her with those physical alterations as well as memories of her horrible act that, apparently, are still very fresh in her mind."
It was as much information as Peter needed and wanted to know. The exact details of the event were irrelevant to him.
"We haven't even been assigned our first mission and we're already off to a great start."
He let out a deep sigh, trying to ease his frustration of the situation.
"Ms. Victoria."
Peter's eyes were still on Rogue as he sent his message to the young telepath. Telepathic communication was something he had not been used to, but during his time with Victoria, he had gotten a feel for it.
"I know what you're thinking. I know it can be agrivating to deal with this. I have had to deal with this many times before. People so consumed by guilt and self pity can be trying at times and the easiest thing to do would be to ignore them or rebuke them for their actions. But scolding her isn't going to help her and will just cause her to be that more difficult to deal with later. She is obviously very frightened, but she came here for our help. She took a great risk in coming with Dr. Strange for the soul hope that a group of strangers may be able help her through this, since it appears that many on her world have already declined. You agreeded by coming here that you would help Dr. Stephen Strange in his quest to aid those in need, but that also includes you teammates. We can not just choose who we want to help and who we don't feel like helping. We have a responsibility to help all and we can't ignore that. Don't let your grief and your loss make you so cold that you would so easily turn your back on one who so desperately requires aid. Do not become that which you hate."
He hoped that she would not think that he was angry with her or that he was against her. His goal was not to anger her, but to regain the caring Victoria that had often tried to help him and not the one who would let her annoyance get the better of her. Peter crouched down infront of the still crying Rogue, looking at her for a moment before speaking.
"We're not here to judge you Ms. Marie. We're here to help, but we can't do that until you help yourself. I don't know what you've done and I don't need to know. Whatever it was, you haven't forigiven yourself for it. You're still letting the memory haunt you, control you. I'm not telling you to forget what happened. You need to remember, but you need to come to terms with it as well. You made a mistake, and from the look of things it was a big one, and I know you think that you've comitted the worse possible act ever. I know you think that such a horror can never be forgiven. But you're wrong. You need to realize that until you come to terms with this demon in your past, until you regain control, then you'll be stuck like this. The healing will never come, and the despair will get worse. You've made the mistake, it can't be changed. Whatever you did can't be altered, nor would it help if it was. What you need to do now is learn from it. You need to learn how to overcome this, and how to make sure you don't repeat yourself."
He paused a moment to let what he was saying sink in.
"They say that happiness is a choice, Ms. Marie. The same goes for sadness. It's not your inability to come to terms with this that's making you like this. You are. You don't want to forgive yourself for your actions. You don't want to move on. Whether you realize it or not, you are choosing to be sad, to be depressed and distraught. And until you choose otherwise, until you choose and really make an effort to get a handle on this, then we can't help you any more than you can."
“See what you’ve done?” Tessa quirked an eyebrow, her tone completely neutral. Truth was that the young genius agreed with what Victoria had said, even if she did sound like Kyle, “Would you like a blow by blow of my past? I could tell you every detail perfectly, I don’t know if you’ve ever met another mutant like me but I remember everything…not just vaguely, but vividly.” Her voice remained neutral and her face remained blank, not showing any emotion at all at this point.
“She is a liability, if she remains in such an unstable state.” Tessa sent telepathically to Victoria, her blue eyes glancing over at her friend briefly, “Occasionally Kyle was right.”

Tessa watched Spiderman with a calculating look, realizing he had truth to what he was telling Rogue, but he was also idealizing it all.
“Not to contradict what you’ve just said, take this bit of advice from somebody who has had to deal with horrific memories; if you can’t get past it by remembering and not dwelling on it, then forget it.” Tessa stated in the same even, non-committal voice she had used previous, “We are not here to play therapist to you, for this team to work as efficiently as possible we need everybody to be at their best. Some of us are more experienced than others, but it won’t help anybody to remain as melancholy as you are, it will bring the rest of the team down.” She paused, letting her words sink in before continuing, “Many of us also do not need another casualty in our memory, and if you let yourself become the weak link of this team, without a doubt you could become the next casualty.”
After regaining her composure, Rogue started to speak. "I need to apologize to all of you. My powers aren't usually this out of control. It happens when I am under a lot of stress and have little to no support. And I do feel that y'all need to know what happened. In my reality it shook the world.

"About four years ago I was a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, led by Mystique. That is the first thing that I'm not proud of. With the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants I got into a rather difficult battle with the Fantastic Four. In an event that no one can explain, I permanently absorbed the powers of the Fantastic Four and killed all four. When I absorb powers, I also absorb memories, so I also have all of their memories. Everything they ever felt, or thought, or expressed. In my reality, the world was shocked, and I was virtually cast out of the mutant society.”

Waiting for her words to make their impact, she paused. Collecting her thoughts she continued. “After leaving the Brotherhood, Professor Xavier came to me. He offered me a safe haven in the confines of the X-Mansion. He said that no one would hurt me there, and that I would be okay. But it wasn’t okay. The members of the X-Men shunned me and cowered in fear when I was near. They didn’t say it, but I knew they were afraid I would steal their powers too. Professor Xavier worked with me. He worked through psychological therapy with me so I could separate the four other minds I had living in my head. For a while it worked. I was also working on controlling these four new powers on top of my own. That was the most difficult task. I have the basics down, but I am still working on the fancy stuff. While all of this was going on, the tension in the Mansion was growing worse and worse. Against Professor Xavier’s advice, I decided to leave the Mansion. That’s when I was found and offered up this position.”

Holding up her hand to explain that she wasn’t finished, she looked down and took a deep breath in. Bringing her head back up and scanning the group she continued. “Mutants, my own kind treated me like a disease. Mystique, the woman who was like my mother cowered from me and cast me out. Do any of you know how that feels? In four years, I had one friend. Professor Xavier befriended me when no one else would, and I had to leave him because of uprising in the X-Mansion. Can you honestly tell me that you wouldn’t have responded the same way I did in a group of unfamiliar people? After the abuse I have taken for something that was out of my control, it is very hard to just blindly trust someone.
Victoria shrugged her shoulders at Tessa.
"I didn't do it, it's all Paige's fault! She's the trouble maker!" Her expression was just as much the mask that Tessa's was.
While her mental conversation continued with Tessa, she vaguely heard someone call her name but dismissed it. It was her practice that she did not pry into others thoughts. Just common practice among upstanding telepaths.
As Rogue began to speak, Victoria arched an eyebrow and looked between Hank, Tessa and Paige.
"You have absolutely no clue, do you? I mean, not to come off like an absolute bitch here, but this whole drama queen thing, it's been done and it's really over-rated. We've all got our own troubles, some that you could never even begin to fathom or want to. Others that would make you curl into a fetal position at the mere thought. But, we've overcome them and moved on. Our Spider-Man here is a prime example of friendlessness. He doesn't want any, because of past experiences and as far as trust goes... no one expects you to trust anyone or ever. But I will tell you this, when someone saves your ass out in the field and that doesn't earn your trust, then you don't belong on a team. And that's my thoughts on the whole damned matter." Without another word, Victoria turned and left the group, everyone could see the firey halo beginning to form around her as she sought to gain control of the Phoenix.

"Tessa..Hank...damage control....we can't stay here much longer...I don't know if I can's taking all my concentration..." Making sure she was a safe distance from everyone and that no one could possibly even see her, she closed her eyes and tilted her head back allowing the all consuming fires within her build to the point where the halo around her became a full fledge forest fire.

"Free at laasstt..." the sing song voice of the Phoenix hissed in her mind.
"No..I can.." sweat fell from her brow as she concentrated on trying to keep the thing at bay. On earth, she was the master of the cosmic power known as the Phoenix force. But having never set foot off of that planet, she had no idea how strong it was in space.

"Or when the Moon was overhead,
Came two young lovers lately wed.
"I am half sick of shadows," said
The Lady of Shalott."

The poem went through Victoria's mind , the one thing she had always been able to count on getting her concentration back and gaining a foothold over the Phoenix...was barely working at this point.

"Oh damn it.."
Tessa turned to Hank, “Would you rather stay here, or would you rather be with ‘Toria?” She projected, sensing something was definitely wrong with the fellow telepath, “My intuition is saying Phoenix trouble, and I don’t know who is more suited to handle a situation such as that.” She brushed hair from in front of her eyes, her face still the mask of neutrality as she mulled over what to say to this woman standing in front of them in such an unstable state.
“We can assist you in your troubles, if you yourself want the assistance. Though you will not get coddling of any sort, as harsh as Victoria might have sounded she is correct.” Tessa was torn in trying to reason with Rogue and trying to calculate what the Phoenix might be doing to her friend, if it was in fact the Phoenix troubling the white-haired telepath.
“Many of us are not proud of our past contraventions, but to dwell upon it is to keep it alive and vibrant.” Tessa thought briefly of her own past, “You seem to have heinous memories, but you also seem to assume that everybody would react to those memories in the same manner. Do not assume others are like you, or that others have suffered less; perhaps their suffering was not something they brought upon themselves, but it is still there nevertheless.”

Her dark eyes were hidden behind the specs as she took in the rest of the group slowly, thinking of how to phrase this best, so as not to insight more of a riot.
“I have an entire corner in my mind dedicated to the abominations in my short life, they are locked behind walls and rarely accessed but they are there. Some are recent,” She paused remembering her first mission and how Doom’s mind had felt when she and Victoria had ventured inside, “Some are not.” Her mind flickered briefly to the look on her brother’s faces before they died, “Either way to dwell upon is to show a weakness that cannot be afforded in a situation such as this. Many of us, including Victoria have learned that that hard way. The veterans, such as we are have seen enough angst and unstable emotions to have our fill of it until the end of time.” She brought the specs from her eyes; they were cold looking, matching the expression on her face.
“We aren’t shunning you, do not think that, what were are doing is making it entirely clear that we cannot bend to you when you fall to pieces.” Done with her speech, Tessa’s mind went entirely to Victoria.
“’Toria?” She projected tentatively.
”I watch one of the Sorcerer’s charges return to my chamber. He is unhappy and conflicted with the decision that he must make. But only he can make it. Only Matua knows what is best for himself. It is not for I to judge this man, only to watch and hope that his destiny leads him in the direction that he is hoping to go.” After a seemingly endless string of moments had passed, Uatu finally looked down at Matua. His gaze seemed to burn straight through the smaller man with an intensity that set the man on edge. But when he spoke, Matua somehow knew everything was going to be all right. Because as intense as the alien’s eyes were, his voice was the exact opposite. It was filled with compassion and understanding, “I know only too well how the weight of a decision such as the one you now face can burden one’s heart, Matua. You feel obligated to complete one chapter before beginning anew. That in itself is commendable and is nothing for you to feel guilty about. When you are ready, you may rejoin the Sorcerer’s quest. But for now, do what you must.” And then, seemingly from nowhere, a white portal appeared and the Watcher ushered Matua through it, to rejoin his comrades once more in the Negation universe.

Elsewhere on the Moon’s surface, a fire was burning brighter than the one who wielded it had ever witnessed before. It was growing out of control and Victoria Essex was frightened. She was suddenly afraid that everything Sam had warned her of would inevitably come true. That she could no longer control the Phoenix force that was quickly rising to the surface of her mind. But then, inexplicably, the fires seemed to burn themselves out and the hissing voice of the cosmic entity quieted to a whimper and retreated into the farthest corner of her consciousness, behind the mental safeguards that Sage had helped to erect. Between the fingers that covered her face in horror, Victoria peered out of tear soaked eyes to find herself in control once more. Standing just a few feet before her stood the astral form of Dr. Strange, hands raised in a spell pattern, obviously holding the fiery deity at bay. In a somewhat distant yet compassionate voice Stephen spoke, “It is a mighty burden that you hold upon your shoulders. But remember, you are not in this alone. We should all be watching out for one another. Even if the weight of our problems seems too much to bear at times. Together we can overcome the most traumatic of possibilities. But for now, I think it is time to get you back upon firmer ground. Please, return to your friends and I will expedite your departure. They are growing concerned over your well being.”

After pulling herself together as much as she could, Victoria walked back to the group only to find that the large man called Matua was nowhere to be found, but in his place stood a most odd looking newcomer. He was covered from head to toe in chrome, which reflected the starlight in an almost beautiful way. Dr. Strange and his large green companion, Rintrah had also rejoined the group. As she took her place beside Hank, Dr. Strange gave her a wink and a half smile that only she was able to see. He obviously had no intention of singling her out amongst the newly formed team. Victoria had arrived only moments after Strange and Rintrah, and had apparently arrived just in time for The Watch’s final introduction, “It is my displeasure to inform you that Matua felt his presence was needed more greatly down another path. Uatu has assisted him in his request, and returned him to the reality from whence he came. It is my hope that one day he may return to aid in your journeys. But for now you shall proceed without him. But not before I introduce your final teammate. He is called Norrin, and he is a most special case. He suffers from a most severe case of amnesia, and does not recall anything about his past. I brought him here in the hopes to keep him safe, and he has in turn agreed to accompany you in your travels. Even though some of you may recognize him from your own time and space, please refrain from giving him too much information about himself. I fear that there may have been safeguards put in place by the one who did this to him that would make his situation far worse if he was to know the truth of his being. For now, I simply ask that you treat him and each other as you would a friend. And now that you are finally gathered, I believe we can begin. But before we do, are there any final questions or concerns? Because once we get under way, there may be no looking back.”

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