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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14


Written by Elena Zovatto
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 1

The Shi'ar cruiser lurched and spun like a leaf in the wind through the stargate, drawn through the passage in the wake of the enormous mystery vessel; which itself proceeded on its course, oblivious to the mote of destruction behind it.

Within the battered cruiser, the occupants began to take stock of themselves.

"Is everyone all right ?" Rogue called out anxiously. Invulnerability was one thing, she grimaced, but it sure didn't keep motion sickness at bay.

"I knew I should have followed standard precautions and taken Gravol before traveling," muttered Hank McCoy.

He and Trish Tilby were getting up from where they had fallen.

"At least nobody can see if you've got a green tinge," she retorted, "but I think I'll live."

Gambit and Joseph staggered in together. Although Remy limped slightly, he walked with an arm around the other man to steady him. The man once known as Magneto had been grazed by a piece of debris, and was still a little groggy.

"We a little worse f'wear mes amis, but we all right."

Bishop and Deathbird were the last to report in. Despite the chaos of their surroundings, they seemed calm. Both warriors by training, it was their way to take any situation as it came. The anger behind Deathbird's demeanor showed in her cold, clipped tone.

"By Sharra, whoever dares such wanton action against my house shall answer to me! It is my duty to safeguard your passage, and that I will do. And I will seek vengeance on those who interfered with that trust! But we must first see to the ship's damage…Computer! Damage report."

As the computer ran down the list, Rogue saw to Joseph's injury. It wasn't serious, but she sternly told him to lie down for a moment, as she went to the galley in search of an ice pack.

*Almos' makes me wish it was me* Remy thought ruefully.

He faced down his jealousy. After all, Rogue had called his name, when it seemed certain that she would die. Maybe he still had a chance…but she deserved so much more than he was able to give her. And as long as his secret existed, he would never have her trust.

*Loaded dice* he thought bitterly.

*I don' tell her, I can' face her or m'self. I tell her, she'll hate me…an' dat's de one t'ing I know I can' handle…*

Lost in these melancholy thoughts, he hadn't even noticed Rogue standing beside him. She coughed. Gambit started.

"Sorry chère…t'inkin'. What is it?"

"Ah said, if'n ya sit back, Ah might be able tah bandage that for ya."

"You not a good nurse, chère," he replied lightly, "if you be takin' care of us, me an' Joseph take our time gettin' better."

Rogue tried to look annoyed, and failed.

"Don't you be tryin' ta charm me, swamp-boy," she smiled, then turned serious.

"It looks like we're gonna be here foh a while, at least. The damage ain't as bad as it looks, but it's bad enough. What did y'all sprain?"

"Quad. Right 'ere, but it's not bad."

As Rogue carefully wound the tensor around his thigh, Remy thought to himself:

*Mebbe I should do dis more often…* and returned to his previous dilemma.

*Better take what ya can, LeBeau…dis as close as y'ever gonna get * he concluded wistfully, and watched Rogue walk back to the front of the bridge.

"How're we doing ?" she asked Bishop.

The time-displaced X-Man had been sitting by Beast and Deathbird as the reports came in, and was already rummaging in a toolkit.

"Surprisingly well, all things considered. The life support modules didn't take any damage. Our weapons capacity has been knocked back to minimal, but the shields are still holding at about fifty percent. The propulsion system is our main problem; we're stuck here indefinitely until we get a handle on the necessary repairs. And I don't like being stuck here while that ship, whatever it was, is headed for Earth. I don't like it at all."

Bishop was always suspicious by nature, a result of the future from which he came, but his instincts were seldom mistaken. And after the narrow victory they had won over the Phalanx on the Shi'ar throneworld, it didn't take genius to make a connection.

Rogue hugged herself, shivering.

"You an' me both, sugah…you an' me both…"

"Our sensor net is still operational, so we'll at least know if they throw anything back at us. It's possible they don't even know we're here. Deathbird said that thing's wake should have completely masked our own energy signature, so at worst we'll have some breathing space before we're discovered."

"Anyt'ing I c'n help wit' ?"

"Not at the moment, LeBeau. Beast, Trish and Deathbird have started repairs, and I'm about to join them. You might keep an eye on the scanners, though, in case we get company. Since the Blackbird's defense system is similar, it would be better to have someone with experience at the helm, just in case."

"Joseph an' Ah will come with ya, in case ya need us."

"Anything is better than just sitting here waiting," Joseph winced, "between us and our powers, we can perhaps expedite our repairs."

"Ah'll be along in a couple of hours ta spell ya, Remy. Keep us posted."

"Once we meet us with Beast and Deathbird, we'll probably divide into work parties for different areas. Once organized, we'll set up a schedule rotation," Bishop stated.

"Sooner we get out o' here de better. Me, I'm kind o' tired o' bein' on de target side of a Space Invaders game. I'll watch t'ings from 'ere."

With that, Remy turned to the bridge viewscreen as the others made their way to Engineering.

Some time later, Gambit was playing his ninth game of solitaire in as many different versions, while keeping an eye on the scanners. He sighed in frustration. The damage to their engines had been worse than expected. It was all reparable, but with only seven bodies available to work (six, if one person was on the bridge at all times) they were going to be stuck for longer than any of them liked. Deathbird and Bishop were getting the weapons on-line, while Joseph was patching stress points in the hull with Rogue, and Beast begun rewiring the propulsion systems with Trish's help.

He cast his eye back to the sensor grid. Nothing unusual, as before. Yet something about the view nagged at him. He sat back in his chair and gazed intently at the screen, trying to isolate whatever it was that triggered his attention. It was…there.

He increased the magnification on the sector that had drawn his notice…there was definitely something there; what, he wasn't sure. Gambit brought up the close-scan, and finally isolated his quarry.

One of the bits of flotsam had a shape that was far too regular for simple space debris. Eyes narrowing, he targeted the object in the scangrid, and set it for full analysis. The computer responded.


"English please, unless y' can manage français."

"Survival pod of unknown type…Capacity one…One lifeform present."

"Further analysis?"

"Carbon-based, humanoid occupant…"

Quickly, Gambit contacted the others with news of his discovery.

"C'n we get a lock on it an' bring it in?"

"Tractor beams have been up for an hour, due to the distinguished diligence of our multi-talented newswoman and your resident blue genius. Given the co-ordinates, it should pose no problem."

"But who else could be out here? And how did he or she or it get here?"

"Good questions, Trish. That's what makes me urge caution - we don't know what's there or if our friends decided to leave something behind before they blew by us."

"But Bishop, we cain't just leave whoevah it might be out there!"

"All the same, X-man, caution is mandated. The aft shuttle bay is fully shielded, and we are all well-stocked with arms. We may use one of the docking mechanoids to open the craft from a distance, while the computer runs a full-scan. We shall take minimum risk this way," Deathbird stated.

"Real warm welcome dey gonna get," Remy muttered, " but after what we been t'rough, be nice t'have a deck stacked in our favor for a change."

"Agreed then. We seven castaways shall pluck from the blackness of space another shipwrecked soul. The aft bay it is."

Soon after, the small foreign craft was gently pulled into the bay. Joseph used his power to manipulate its path, as the tractor beams alone would have made for a bumpy ride to an injured occupant.

The mechanoids opened the hatch without incident, and the computer scan showed only a barely living humanoid. Gambit and Beast were first to the tiny vessel, with the others close on their heels.

Within the pod lay a woman. She looked peaceful, even serene. Red-brown hair spilled over her shoulders, framing a gentle, fine-boned face. She was dressed simply, in a trouser tunic of some unknown material, with a kind of robe over top of it. At her hip was a kind of energy pistol, and a metallic cylinder with a handgrip, almost like a flashlight, was hooked to her belt.

Bishop moved in and disarmed their unconscious guest.

"She's clearly been in here for quite some time," Beast mused as he commenced his examination, " At first glance, it's incredible to believe this thing kept her going - it appears to be geared for short-term survival, but according to these readings…"

"Will she recover ?" asked Joseph.

"Yes, but that's something else again…"

"How do ya mean, Hank ?"

"Well Rogue, after extended time in suspended animation, it usually takes days to recover, but according to this…"

"Uh, Hank ? I t'ink she be wakin' now…"

The Cajun was quite right. The woman's eyelids were already fluttering. They opened, squinting at the light. Her eyes, a bright blue-green behind her long lashes, slowly focused. Weakly, she half-sat up, until Beast gently pushed her back.

"You had better take it easy, at least for a while, madam."

She muttered something in another language, and the ship computer began translating.

"Wh.. where am I ?", she asked weakly, eyes half-closed.

"I think we better leave that discussion until we know ourselves…," began Beast.

"Don' worry p'tite. Y' be okay pretty soon."

In his attempt to reassure the woman, Gambit had used all the charm at his disposal in his voice.

At this, she suddenly appeared fully alert. Her eyes snapped open, scanned their faces…and stopped at Remy. She stared intently at him for a moment, and he started as he felt something in his mind…

Seeing his reaction, she sank back exhausted, smiling.

"Brother…," she whispered, as she lost consciousness.


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