Unexpected Angels (COMPLETE!!!)

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Unexpected Angels (COMPLETE!!!)

Postby Rowena » Mon Jul 04, 2005 3:32 pm

Authors' Introduction


Hi Everyone!

This story is a little different than anything I've done before. It's a collaborative effort between the US and Canada! ;) It's a cross-dimensional caper complete with pirates and kidnappers and all sorts of adventure featuring Excalibur from Earth 723 and several new and intriguing characters. One of my friends and I are writing it together--she plays her characters and I play mine and it's really been fun so far!

We really hope you enjoy it! :D :D

[Edited on 2/8/06 by Rowena]

[Edited on 3/9/06 by Rowena]

[Edited on 14/10/0606 by Rowena]
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Mon Jul 04, 2005 3:33 pm

Disclaimer: We do not own the X-Men. Felsentaube, Marti, Suzie, Edmund, and Alice are all original characters, however. Please do not sue us or steal our story!

NOTE: Neither Earth 723 nor Earth 724 exist in any official Marvel universe, but the third mysterious dimension and its bizzare inhabitants (the ones that will appear in later chapters) do.


Unexpected Angels
By Rowena and Tammy


Prologue

Stars passed the shuttle's windows, the orderly streaks slowing as slender grey fingers tipped by claws of a paler grey danced over the tiny ship's controls. Pupil-less eyes of the same color as the claws scanned the readouts and flicked to the surrounding star-field as their owner crouched before the console.

Behind the unconscious pilot something flicked into dim existence. Two bright blue eyes, faint enough that they could be seen through, narrowed in concentration.

All right, I'm in,- thought the blue-eyed ghost to someone unseen and possibly not physically present. -Don't know what I'm supposed to do yet, but I can feel a trigger forming. Okay, let's see what this does....-

The eyes narrowed more, then widened as something on the console shorted out with a spectacular flash of sparks. -Glory!-

Eyes and thoughts flicked out as quickly as they had come, leaving the pilot to frown at the raging fire in front of her and reach through the flames to see if she could get a response from the damaged control. Long ears flicked forward as it came off in her hand.

"Dit ist nicht gut. Helfen Sie gelieve ons."

Those soft grey eyes moved back to the monitors as one hand went down to touch the pilot's belly before moving to join its mate in an attempt to smother the flames, but they were too deep inside the console. By time the access panel had been torn away the little ship was helpless in the gravity field of the planet that had been its destination.

The pilot braced herself, hands reaching out to grasp the frame around the door as the metal heated all around her.

"Jesus, helfen sie gelieve ons."
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Mon Jul 04, 2005 3:34 pm

Chapter One

"...and so the inability of Edward Porter Alexander's artillery to break the Union lines contributed directly to the crushing failure of Pickett's Charge..."

Kurt sighed as he listened to his teacher drone on and on. It seemed the lunch bell would never ring. Kurt cast a longing glance at his backpack, where his three Gut Bomb burgers were waiting. Only fifteen minutes to go. Fifteen minutes before he could sink his teeth into the nitrate-laden goodness of his favorite fast food treat. Fifteen minutes until—

BZZUZZZZ

“Yow!”

Kurt jumped in his seat, rubbing his arm where his bulky watch had just zapped him.

“Kurt?”

Mr. Nelson was frowning at him from the front of the room. Kurt looked up with a weak smile.

“Ja, Mr. Nelson?” The teacher’s frown deepened.

“Did you want to make a comment about—“

“Eeeouch!”

Kurt bit his lip as another involuntary exclamation escaped him. Something was wrong with his holowatch. This zap had been stronger than the last one. He knew these symptoms all too well. If he didn’t get out of this classroom soon, the watch would short out completely, leaving the unfortunate Kurt Wagner exposed before all his classmates.

For many high schoolers, the most mortifying situation they could think of was to be caught in front of the entire class with no clothes on. For Kurt, it was to be spotted without the shielding image of normality projected by his holowatch. Beneath the pale skin and brown eyes of his hologram, Kurt was hiding a secret—a secret he couldn’t risk his classmates learning.

“Erm, Herr Nelson,” he said, clutching his stomach in what he hoped was a convincing imitation of appendicitis. “I don’t feel so good. My side keeps hurting me—I think I need to see the nurse.”

Mr. Nelson didn’t look convinced, but he nodded just the same.

“All right,” he said, striding over to his desk. “I’ll write you a note. But if this is another of your pranks, Mr. Wagner—“

Kurt winced as another jolt zapped his arm. “Nein,” he grimaced, his German accent thickening for a moment in his pain. “No joke, sir. Bitte, can you hurry?”

By this time, the rest of the class had snapped out of the half-aware daze they had fallen into during the teacher’s lecture and were now watching and whispering attentively as Kurt hefted his backpack to his shoulder and staggered slowly to the front of the room—his thin face a mask of pain.

“Quiet down!” Mr. Nelson demanded. “The fact that one of your classmates may be ill does not give you permission to chat.”

The students stopped talking, but Kurt could feel their eyes tracking him as he reached out to take the hall pass from his teacher.

“Bitte, Gott,” he prayed silently to himself, “don’t let my holowatch die on me now! Just give me a few more seconds….”

Just then, the holowatch made a disturbing electrical sound, like an insect about to be squashed. The digital watch-face crackled with sparks, causing Kurt to double over in an attempt to keep the flashes hidden from his teacher. The image around him wavered and blurred, then snapped back into place. The students gasped at the sight.

“Hey, he really is sick,” one of the girls called out. “Did you see just then? He got so pale!”

“Yeah, his face went kind of blue for a second,” the boy next to her frowned.

“That’s enough!” Mr. Nelson snapped. “Kurt, get going. You’ve provided enough of a distraction for one day. The rest of you, open your books to Chapter Eleven.”

Kurt sighed with relief as his classmates’ piercing eyes finally turned away from him. With the hall pass securely in his hand, the sixteen-year-old mutant dashed from the room and into the hallway, aiming to make a bee-line for the boys’ lavatory.

He was greeted by a whirlwind, which swirled around him, picking up bits of discarded paper and rubbish and gleefully singing what sounded like the opening theme from Star Wars. Kurt groaned to himself and ducked his head down in an attempt to break away from the strange disturbance, his eyes fixed on the open door to the boys’ room. With his watch this close to a breakdown, he couldn’t afford to be stopped—especially by a sugar-charged Pietro Maximoff.

At that moment, however, his watch gave a mighty zap, the force of the shock stopping him momentarily in his tracks. An instant later, the swirling wind vanished as if it had never been, leaving in its place a tall, silver-haired boy who gaped at him in astonishment.

"Whoa!” he exclaimed, speaking so quickly his words practically ran over each other in their haste to escape. “What the heck was that?"

“My dumb holowatch is acting up again,” Kurt scowled, lifting the crackling device so the other mutant could see for himself. “Look, I’ve really got to get out of this hallway, so just let me go, OK? No trouble.”

The watch shot out another jolt, causing his appearance to flicker. Alarmed by the sight, Pietro shoved him urgently toward his destination.

"Holy cow get goin' man!” he jabbered. “Someone's gonna see that! Bamf, quick!"

Rather surprised by the unexpected concern of his some-time adversary, Kurt took his chance and teleported into the boy’s room with a BAMF of sulfurous smoke. Closing the door hastily behind him, the anxious boy made a quick sweep of the stalls to be certain he was alone, then tore the sparking watch from his wrist, causing the flickering image to sputter and fade away. Kurt glanced at his true reflection in the smudged mirror over the grungy sink, wrinkling his nose at the fuzzy, blue face; large, pointed ears; and bright, golden eyes that blinked back at him. His long, spaded tail swung behind him of its own accord, mirroring his annoyance as he reached into his pocket for the tiny screwdriver he always carried with him just in case of such an emergency.

Hopping up onto the battered, metal table that was meant for backpacks, Kurt began to unscrew the back of his holowatch. Sometimes, all it took to fix a problem like this was the slightest tweak of the blue-green wire…

“Hey, fuzzball!” Pietro’s hasty whisper muffled through the bathroom door. “You gonna be done in there soon? ‘Cause the Vice Principal’s out here and I need a place to hide!”

“Just a second,” Kurt called back, biting his lip with one long fang as he concentrated on loosening the silver backing without jostling the delicate watch components too much. As he worked, he cursed his mutation under his breath. Such precise work was meant for slender, nimble fingers. Kurt’s thick, tri-digited hands were too clumsy. The tiny screwdriver felt so ungainly in his awkward hand….

Kurt was so focused on fixing his watch that he didn’t notice when one of the doors of the empty stalls behind him began a slow, moaning creak. He didn’t see the flash of orange light reflected in the smudged mirror, or the looming shadow stretch over the tiles….

*******

Out in the hallway, Pietro pressed as closely against the door as he could, his eyes narrowed as he tried to make them focus on the approaching adult. What could possibly be taking the fuzzy kid so long? How much time did it take to fix a watch, anyway? He didn’t have a clue. The closest he'd ever come to fixing something electronic was when he'd punched Fred once for breaking the TV. Not that it had done much good, other than making Rogue and Toad laugh….

Urg, his brain was wandering. No more sugar. Nomorenomorenomorenomorenomore....

The Vice Principal had moved away from her office door by this time and was making her way in his direction. Pietro winced. If he was caught out of class, it would be an instant detention, and for someone who was skipping class because he already knew the lesson, the prospect of staying after school was torture.

He turned back to the bathroom door with a frown. What was he doing out here, anyway? He knew what the fuzzball looked like. Kurt was way too sensitive, in his opinion. Besides, the situation was getting desperate….

"INCOMIN'!" Like a gushing wind, Pietro burst through the door, only to stop short at the peculiar sight that met his eyes as the door swung shut behind him.

There was no sign of Kurt, only a strange orange glow in the air with a shadowy figure at its heart.

Pietro Maximoff was many things. A coward was not one of them. With an incoherent shout he launched himself straight toward the unfamiliar glowing thing, only to have it wink out just before he reached it. He had an instant to send up a desperate prayer before he tripped over the toilet and head-butted the wall with crushing force.

He was unconscious even before he landed in the toilet bowl.


To Be Continued.....

So, what do you think so far?
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby CurlyyHairGirl » Mon Jul 04, 2005 5:01 pm

Chaper one was pretty good. I love the incorporation of the Gut Bomb Burgers, it made me laugh.
I also liked the whole idea of Kurt's holowatch on the fritz and having to get out of class before people noticed along with the soud effects.:D
Pietro is a favorite of mine, so it's good to see him, and sugar must be really bad for him if he was being nice:crazed

The prologue was confusing though. I really had no idea what was going on except that maybe the blue eyed thingie started a fire in a (space)ship and the grey thingie-person-woman-thing spoke German, and that her mate was unconscious...unless that was your point:shrug time tells all, half the time.
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Tue Jul 05, 2005 3:43 pm

I love the incorporation of the Gut Bomb Burgers, it made me laugh.
I also liked the whole idea of Kurt's holowatch on the fritz and having to get out of class before people noticed along with the soud effects


Thanks! :D:D

Pietro is a favorite of mine, so it's good to see him, and sugar must be really bad for him if he was being nice


LOL! Yep! Tammy played Pietro and she has a slightly different take on him than Evo. This first chapter takes place in her reality. The next one takes place in mine. That's when you'll find out a bit about what was going on in the Prologue (which featured Tammy's characters). :D

I really had no idea what was going on except that maybe the blue eyed thingie started a fire in a (space)ship and the grey thingie-person-woman-thing spoke German, and that her mate was unconscious...unless that was your point


Yep, that was the point. It drove me crazy when Tammy first sent it to me, but then I realized what she was doing. :D And the grey person doesn't exactly speak in German either.... Ach, I'd better stop before I confuse you further!!! LOL! All I can say is everything will get clearer as the story progresses!

Glad you like it so far! :D


:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Sun Jul 10, 2005 12:52 am

OK, that last chapter took place in Tammy's universe. This one takes place in mine (Earth 723). Now you get to find out a bit about what was going on in the Prologue! I played Nightcrawler and Kitty and Alistaire and people in this chapter and Tammy played mainly Meggan and Brian. Please let us know what you think!


Chapter Two

A cool breeze rustled through the branches of Wendover Woods, causing dappled shadows to dance over the forest floor and eliciting a little scolding note from the robin that had been singing impudently overhead. The wood was old and showed the scars left by many generations of picnickers, but it still seemed to echo with memories and scenes from times past. There was an air of something mysterious about it, something fey, as though unseen eyes were watching the small group of oddly-costumed people standing on the rim of the gaping furrow in the loam and whispering with the wind.

There was definitely something elfin about the blond woman who hovered above the rent, her wide blue eyes fixed on the twisted heap of slag at its end. Meggan Braddock cocked her head to look at the melted metal from another angle, then landed beside a tall blond man who was also peering into the hole.

"Are you sure that's a spaceship, Brian?” she asked him. “It's pretty shapeless."

“Well, according to Alysdane, that’s exactly what it is,” her husband replied with a matching frown. “What do you make of it, Alistaire? It was your sister’s call that brought us here.”

Professor Alistaire Stuart blinked up at the muscular Captain Britain in surprise, as though he hadn’t expected to be included in his conversation. Fumbling slightly, he snatched the pen he’d been chewing on from his lips, leaving a small smudge of ink at the corner of his mouth. Meggan pressed her face against her husband’s broad shoulder in an attempt to hide her smirk.

“Um, well,” the nervous physicist began, completely oblivious, “I don’t think my sister would have called us about something like this if the government didn’t think it was genuine. I know Excalibur and M-6 haven’t exactly been the best of friends in the past, but it’s her reputation on the line here. It’s a real UFO, all right."

“And it’s our job to take that ‘U’ out of this UFO,” Alistaire’s wife Kitty added, phasing up through the grassy ground beside the slender scientist. “Not that it’s going to be easy. The thing’s a total wreck.”

“No chance it’s just an errant weather balloon, then?” Brian asked, one corner of his mouth twitching traitorously.

Meggan lifted her head from his shoulder and gave him a gentle slug in the stomach. "Weather balloons are made of fabric, Brian. That's not funny." Then she cocked her head. "Oh...X-Files. I get it."

Brian rolled his eyes to Kitty, who shot him an exasperated look in return. Just then, a sudden BAMF of smoke caused the small group to jump in alarm.

“Kurt!” Kitty exclaimed, bringing a startled hand to her chest and wrinkling her nose at the residual teleport stink. “Honestly, you should give us some warning before popping in like that!” Excalibur’s fuzzy, blue leader just smiled.

“So,” he said in his light, German accent, rubbing his tridactal hands together. “What have we got?”

"We've got a twisted piece of melted metal," said Meggan, peering into the hole again. "But I think I can see where a door might have been. Do you want me to pull it out?"

"The door?" Alistaire stared at her.

Meggan stared back, one shapely eyebrow slowly creeping toward her hairline.

"Alistaire, how much sleep did you get last night? Because you're sounding like you were in the lab till the wee hours."

“Looking like it too,” Brian added as a whispered aside to Kitty. Kitty opened her mouth to make a sharp retort, but then noticed the smudge of ink on her husband’s face.

“Alistaire…” she prompted, gesturing to the side of his mouth. Alistaire looked blank for a moment, then realized what she meant.

“What, is my pen leaking again?” he asked, clearly mortified as he scrubbed at his mouth with his sleeve. Kitty sighed.

“Here,” she said, pulling a tissue from the pocket of her gold and blue uniform and wetting it with some alcohol from her analysis kit. “Use this.”

Alistaire took the damp tissue from her with a sheepish flush. “Thanks, love,” he said. Kitty favored him with an affectionate smile, then turned back to Kurt.

“So,” she said, “I believe Meggan asked you a question?”

“Ja,” Kurt nodded. “Go ahead and lift it out, Meggs. Set it over there in the clearing. Brian, you help her, OK?”

"I won't need help," Meggan said serenely, then stepped into the pit without engaging her flight ability, causing Alistaire to make a slight sound and squeeze his broken pen.

She reappeared a moment later, her long hair streaming out behind her in a golden beam as she gripped the edge of what had probably been a doorway in the side of the congealed mass of metal. Zooming overhead and trailing earth, she set the battered relic in the indicated space, then did a merry loop-the-loop before dropping into Brian's arms.

"Oh my," breathed Alistaire. Even after all his years as a member of the European branch of the International X-Men Organization—Excalibur—such displays of mutant powers still left the scientist in awe.

"Looks like it burned up on impact with the atmosphere," Kitty observed grimly, all but oblivious to Meggan’s stunt. "Nothing left to show where it came from."

“Hmm,” Kurt frowned thoughtfully, rubbing his fuzzy chin with his gloved thumb as he approached the molten craft. “Well, it’s definitely not a meteor.”

“Meteorite,” Alistaire corrected automatically, only to blush again when all eyes turned towards him. “The moment a meteor falls to earth, it’s called a meteorite,” he explained. When the others kept staring, he turned away, pretending to be utterly fascinated by a long scratch in the metal. Kurt cleared his throat.

“Thank you, Alistaire,” he said, shooting the uncomfortable scientist a quick smile. Crouching down, he peered up along the sides of the uneven doorframe, his long tail twitching behind him. “Was ist…” he started, then he shot to his feet, his golden eyes scanning the clearing for Excalibur’s resident doctor.

“Moira!” he called out, once he’d spotted her beside the X-Jet.

“What is it?” Kitty asked, standing on her toes to peer over the pointed shoulder of his red and black uniform.

“I’m not sure…” Kurt frowned. “But I think it could be—“

“Yes?” Dr. Moira MacTaggert interrupted breathlessly, coming up beside them at a jog. “What is it you’ve found there?”

“Take a look,” Kurt gestured, stepping aside to give the Scotswoman room. “Are those streaks what I think they are?”

“Coagulated blood,” Moria confirmed clinically, pulling a few tubes and a cotton swab from her med-kit. “I’m amazed it hasn’t been vaporized, given the temperatures this thing must have seen. And look here!” she exclaimed, pulling on a vinyl glove and reaching out to run her fingers over a set of deep, evenly spaced dents in the metal.

Brian furrowed his brow, leaning in to get a better look. “Wait a moment,” he said, glancing down at his data pad. “According to my readings, that hull is made of solid duranium. Nothing should be able leave such deep impressions in that, not even with the severest heat from the most intense atmospheric friction.”

“And it gets stranger yet,” Moira spoke up, squinting through her thick glasses at the dents. “If the light hits these impressions the right way, you can see—“

“Ridges!” Alistaire exclaimed.

“They’re fingerprints!” Kurt realized with a gasp, blenching slightly under his indigo fur. “What in the world could have made them?”

“Let me just get this sample ready and we can run the DNA straight through your data pad there,” Moira said with a nod to Kitty’s hand-held computer as she rubbed her cotton swab against the nearest streak of congealed blood. “Then we’ll have at least some idea of what we’re dealing with here.”

Dripping a few drops of a clear liquid on the swab, Moira nodded in satisfaction as she watched the stained cotton turn a bright shade of pink.

“Aye,” she said, “it’s human all right. At least as far as I can tell with this here kit. As to whether it belongs to a mutant or not….”

She trailed off, handing the swab over to Kitty, who brushed the tip over the sensitive strip at the top of her screen.

“Hang on a sec, guys,” she said. “This will just take a minute…there!” She smiled as the results popped up on the screen, only to frown a moment later.

“What does it say?” Alistaire prompted. Kitty scrunched up her face.

“It’s weird,” she said. “Something about this isn’t right. Maybe there was some dirt in the sample…?”

She looked to Moira for help, handing her the data pad with a shrug. “What do you make of it?” she asked.

“Well, the readings indicate a mutant,” Moira interpreted, “but you’re right, Kitty. There is something strange about this blood. I don’t believe it’s entirely human.”

Kurt furrowed his brow. “What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean the cell walls are all wrong,” the doctor elaborated. “Incredibly strong, almost entirely heat resistant….” She sighed, running a hand through her short, auburn hair.

“Even given the incredible variety and unpredictability of mutant traits, this blood seems to me an Earthly impossibility,” she admitted. “Until I get this back to the lab for a more stringent test, I have to tell ye, I think we might be looking at a real extra-terrestrial craft here.”

“With a missing extra-terrestrial,” Kurt added. “And judging from those blood streaks, it’s probably hurt.”

“Oh, great,” Kitty groaned. “We have a super-strong, super resilient wounded alien running around the Aylesbury Vale. So, Kurt, you’re the leader. What’s the game plan?”

Kurt shot her a look. “Always these things come back to me. All right, we’ll have to let Alysdane know. We could use her help--and the resources of M-6--in tracking this thing. And we should contact Alice at the manor.”

“Should we bring this space craft back with us?” Meggan asked.

“No,” Kurt said. “The alien might come back. What we should do is leave a motion sensor to alert us just in case. Kitty, Alistaire, you deal with that.”

“Got it, boss,” Kitty smirked with a mock salute.

“Moira, you’d better collect all the samples you think you’ll be needing right now.”

“Already on it,” the doctor nodded.

“I’ll contact Alysdane,” Brian offered. “Maybe we can get her to set up a satellite surveillance.”

“Sehr gut,” Kurt nodded. Then he sighed, already switching on his com link as he watched his team jump into action around him. “Now, how do I break this news to Alice…?”


Please Review! :D

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:11 pm

Since I'm going to be gone for a while (I'm going down to Virginia to see my sister's Coast Guard graduation) I'm going to put up two chapters to this story instead of one.

This chapter takes place in Tammy's universe. I played Rogue with the very occasional dash of Scott, Kitty, and Jean thrown in for flavor, and Tammy played everyone else (including Scott, Kitty, and Jean). Hope you like it!


Chapter Three

Scott Summers carefully folded Pietro's legs so that he fit in the back seat of his sports car, wondering again what the Brotherhood member had been doing to end up lying slumped over the toilet with a bloody gash on his forehead. He'd tried to wake him, but gotten only gasps about glowing doors before Pietro had slumped back into insensibility.

Still frowning behind his ruby quartz glasses, Scott glanced around the empty after-school parking lot, then looked up at the sky and reached into the car to press the button that would raise the roof. A shout from behind made him turn, hands rising defensively toward his glasses.

"There he is!" yelled Todd 'Toad' Tolensky indignantly. "He beat Pietro up 'n now he's kidnapping him, yo! Stop him, Rogue!"

“What are you blabbering about Toad?” the scowling Goth frowned. “Ah can’t even see Pietro.”

“That’s ‘cause Cyke’s got the top up, man! Quick, we’ve gotta stop him before he drives away!”

Rogue sighed, rolling her green eyes as she marched across the schoolyard in her heavy, black boots. “Fine,” she snapped in her thick, Mississippi accent. “Ah’ll get to the bottom of this. But ah’ll tell you now that ah don’t believe for one second that Mister Straight-As-An-Arrow Scott Summers would deliberately beat up on—What the--!”

Rogue’s eyes flashed as she caught sight of the bleeding Pietro sprawled unconscious across the back seat of Scott’s convertible through the open door, and Scott's threatening stance beside him.

“Hey, Summers,” she called out, her rising anger and confusion causing her to break into a run. “What’s the big idea?”

“See, man?” Toad called out as he hopped up beside her. “What did I say? The dude’s a kidnapper!”

Scott sighed and lowered his hand, wishing he'd stopped to say something to the green-skinned boy when he'd carried Pietro past him in the hallway earlier.

"I'm taking him to the Brotherhood House,” he explained. “I found him in the bathroom like this. It doesn't look like the work of Duncan Matthews, but I can't think of any other reason for Pietro to run into the wall."

Rogue raised a heavily painted eyebrow. “A wall?” she snorted.

“Whoa, man, is he OK?” Toad asked anxiously, his large eyes wide as he leaned against the open car door to get a better look at his teammate.

“Hey, Toad, watch the fingerprints OK?” Scott exclaimed with a protective frown, causing the younger boy to jump. “I just waxed this baby this morning.”

Rogue shot Scott a derisive smirk, taking a rather challenging step closer to his beloved sportscar. “So, how bad a bump do you think he has?” she asked, bending slightly to peer over Toad’s shoulder at Pietro’s bloodied forehead. “Do you think it’s a concussion? Will he have amnesia?”

"Dude, why are his hands blue?" asked Toad, still peering at Pietro.

Scott shrugged quickly, not wanting to damage the other teen's image in the eyes of his teammates by telling them the position he'd found him in. "It's a concussion all right. I couldn't get him to wake up fully. All he did was mutter about an orange glow before he passed out again."

He looked at the shining surface of his car, then sighed. "Do you want to ride along?"

"Thanks, yo!" Toad crawled into the back seat and crouched on the floor, his big eyes full of gratitude.

Scott cleared his throat in embarrassment and looked questioningly to Rogue. Rogue scowled back, her heavy make-up masking the uncertainty behind her eyes. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d secretly wished Scott Summers would ask her that very question. Peering up at the ruby-quartz shades that gave his chiseled features their intriguing air of mystery, she bit her lip, considering her answer carefully. It was pretty obvious that if she did accept, she’d get to ride in the front seat… Besides, Pietro was looking pretty bad back there.

“Well—“ she started, only to be cut off by an annoyingly chirpy voice calling Scott's name.

"Hey, Scott, we're, like here! Thanks for waiting!" Kitty Pryde bounced up, but then stopped cold as she noticed the inhabitants of the back seat. "Huh?"

"What's going on?" asked Jean Grey quietly, stopping behind her friends and also looking into the back seat.

“Ah thought you were a telepath,” Rogue sneered, crossing her arms and leaning back deliberately against the side of Scott’s car. Scott sucked in his lips, but managed to restrain himself from shouting aloud as his eyes locked on her belt of metal chain links where it pressed against his precious car. Rogue’s sneer stretched into a wicked smirk. Torturing him like this may be petty, but now that Jean and Kitty had turned up, Rogue felt she’d never get a chance to ride in the front seat with him.

"You don’t seriously think she’d poke around in your head without permission,” protested Kitty. "It's, like, totally rude!"

Scott sighed and squinched his face as Rogue's smirk grew wider. "I found Pietro in the bathroom with a concussion,” he explained for the third time. “I was just taking him, Rogue, and Todd home."

"You mean that slum of a hide-out?” Jean spoke up suddenly, without taking her eyes from Pietro. “You can’t, Scott! We should bring him back to the mansion.”

“What was that?” Rogue retorted, pushing away from the car--much to Scott's relief.

"Look,” Jean explained in her maddeningly reasonable voice. “He's going to need medical attention, and I can sense a slight pressure building up in his brain. I don't think it's fatal, but it's still bad."

Scott blinked down at her, then turned back to Rogue, raising an eyebrow.

“Hey, he’s your teammate,” he said. “It’s your call.”

Rogue ground her teeth, then spun around to take another look at Pietro. As she leaned into the backseat, Toad’s bulbous eyes met hers, his concern painted all over his greenish face. Rogue sighed and pulled her head back out into the sunlight.

“OK,” she said grudgingly, fixing the three X-Men with her coldest glare. “But we’re stayin’ with him the whole time, got it? There’s no way ah’m gonna let Xavier push us out into any waiting room while he does who-knows-what to Pietro’s brain.”

Kitty gaped. “The professor would never do that!” she exclaimed defensively. Scott just sighed, sharing a look with Jean.

"Can the two of you find another way home?" He reached into his pocket, then remembered that he'd already put the keys in the ignition when he'd raised his convertible's canvas top.

Jean blinked and nodded, then turned back to Pietro with a puzzled frown. "He's concerned about Kurt. It's so strong that he's dreaming about it. Something about..." Her frown deepened. "An orange doorway?"

"Why would Pietro care about your stupid fuzzbutt?" Toad lowered his head and scowled at her, putting one webbed hand protectively on his teammate's chest. "He's not an X-Geek."

Kitty scowled back at him and pulled her pink cell-phone out of her purse, hitting a button and putting it to her ear. As the others watched her expression changed to confusion, then concern.

"Like, that's funny, how can he be out of range?"

“Who?” asked Rogue.

“Kurt,” Jean responded absently, her eyes distant as she cocked her head. After a long moment, she frowned. "I can't sense him either." She exchanged another look with Scott. "Something's happened. We need to get back to the mansion."

"I'll call a cab." Kitty dialed again quickly, turning away and sticking her finger in her ear as she talked to the dispatcher.

Scott glanced between his teammates, then nodded and put a hand on Rogue's back to guide her into the front seat of his car.

Rogue’s eyes widened, the hard-learned cynicism fading from her heart for a brief moment as she allowed herself to lean into his touch. Then she stiffened, pushing his hand away with a scornful glare as she clambered into the sports car on her own.

Scott gave her a look of surprise, but only closed the door gently after her and walked around to his own place. Rogue heard Kitty ask about Pietro's blue hands as the X-Men leader passed her, but didn't catch Scott's reply.

"Rogue?" came Todd's quavery voice from behind her as the boy peered through the space between the seats.

“Yeah?” she asked, twisting around in her seat as Scott started the engine and pulled out of the parking space. “What’s wrong?”

"He's not gonna die, is he? I mean, Mystique'll blow the roof if he does."

Rogue rolled her eyes. "Sheesh, Toad, don't you know the meanin' of the words 'not fatal'? Pietro's gonna be fine. We've just gotta get him checked out, that's all."

"Oh." He rustled around, elbowing her in the back through the seat. "Rogue?"

"What!" she snapped.

"He's mumbling about a shadow."

Rogue twisted a little more to stare at her unconscious teammate, her eyebrows drawing together as he gasped and muttered quickly about a tall shadow, strangely-shaped. "Red never said nothin' 'bout no shadow."

"Shadow!" moaned Pietro, his hands clenching weakly. "Watch out, Wagner!"

"Hey! He is worried about the fuzzbutt!" said Todd, sounding scandalized.

"Watch out...watch..." Pietro fell silent, one arm falling over the edge of the seat.

Rogue raised one eyebrow slowly, then turned to face the front, an uneasy feeling growing in her gut as the four mutants sped towards Xavier's mansion and--hopefully--some answers.
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:14 pm

And now it's back to my universe for Ch. 4! I played the Excalibur kids and Tammy made a lot of very excellent suggestions about where to take them as well as playing her original characters. Please let me know what you think!


Chapter Four

“Ow! Drat it all; that was my face!”

“Sorry, Suzie,” Edmund said, only to cry out with an ‘ow’ of his own when his older sister thwaped him upside the head.

“Hey!” he exclaimed, rubbing the sore spot with a powder-blue hand as he spun around to scowl at the pale girl with the fuming yellow eyes. “I said I was sorry!”

“What’s going on back there?” an exasperated voice snapped from the narrow, forest trail up ahead. Edmund froze, but Suzie’s golden glare only deepened.

“Edmund hit me in the face with a tree branch,” she accused, angrily picking a leaf out of her waist-length, azure ponytail.

“I did not!” Edmund protested indignantly, drawing himself up with a sharp, hazel glare of his own. “Marti, I swear it! The branch snapped back on its own!”

“You knew that branch was going to snap back and you didn’t warn me,” Suzie retorted. “That makes it a deliberate act. Look at this, Marta,” she said, walking up to her older sister and pointing to a barely visible red scratch just below her eye. “The little twit nearly poked my eye out!”

Edmund’s mouth dropped open, but before he could say anything, Marta stepped in.

“All right, that’s enough,” the fourteen-year-old snapped, her solid, night-goggle green eyes flashing as she placed her fuzzy, tridactal hands on her hips. “If you two want to fight, do it at home. You’re a liability to the team.”

Edmund crinkled his face at the unfamiliar word. “Liability?” he questioned.

“Oh, don’t be thick,” Suzie scolded the eight-year-old.

“It means a danger, or a burden,” Samuel Braddock spoke up from where he’d been watching the three Wagner children spat. “And if what Marta overheard Uncle Kurt telling your mum in the Control Room this morning is true, you two are going to have to call a truce.”

The blond teenager shared a look with Marti, a sly gleam glittering in his blue eyes. “After all,” he said. “It’s common knowledge that aliens always pick off the loudest ones first.”

Edmund’s hazel eyes got wide, but Suzie just looked scornful.

“It’s not certain there are even any aliens out here,” she said. “For all we know, Dad could have been using a code-word when he spoke to Mum. Or, Marti could have heard him wrong.”

Marta frowned. “I know what I heard,” she stated. “And it wasn’t any code.”

Suzie glared. “If you ask me, this whole alien-hunt is nothing more than a wild goose chase,” she scowled. “I mean, we’ve been out here for two hours already! One more, and we’re going to miss our tea.”

“Hey,” Marta glowered at her sister. “If you’d rather go to tea than meet a real, live extra-terrestrial, why don’t you just go ahead and—“

“YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!” Eliza Braddock, Samuel’s twin sister, suddenly squealed from the back of the group. The children jumped in alarm.

“What is it?” Marta asked, teleporting to the hysterical sixteen-year-old in a BAMF of smoke. “Did you see the alien?”

“It was so horrible!” Eliza sniffed, hovering on the brink of hyperventilation. “Oh, Samuel, it was awful!”

“What did you see?” Samuel asked, eagerness warring with concern in his eyes. “Did it have green skin?”

“Aliens are always gray on the X-Files,” Edmund spoke up, squeezing in between Marta and Samuel as he scanned the forest ahead.

“No, no it wasn’t the alien,” Eliza gasped, to the crushing disappointment of her companions. “It was—“ Her voice hitched slightly, but she bravely soldiered on, forcing her mouth to form the words. “It was a SPIDER!”

“Oh, Eliza,” Samuel groaned in disgust—and not at the thought of the spider.

“I saw it!” Eliza ranted, gesturing to the underbrush at the side of the trail. “It was huge and black and hairy, and it crawled under that twig!”

“Why did we have to bring her?” Suzie demanded, shooting the girl her deadliest glare from beneath her azure fringe. “She’s such a bloody—“

”Suzie, don’t even go there,” Samuel glared down at the contemptuous twelve-year-old. “Now come on, everyone. We’re wasting time with all this nonsense.”

“Too true,” Marta agreed. “At the rate this expedition is going, we’re going to run into our parents before we sniff out any aliens! And that’s a sight that will be truly frightening.”

Mumbling their agreement, the Excalibur kids began retracing their steps up the winding, dirt path, keeping their eyes peeled for any sign of the unusual or out of place. They walked in single-file with Edmund bringing up the rear—which was why no one noticed when he started to lag behind….

*******

Suzie smirked wickedly to herself as she carefully lifted the moldering stick from the ground. The little black spider at its end froze in place at the sudden movement, its tiny jaws opening and closing as it stared up at her with its eight, round eyes.

“Perfect,” she chortled softly, creeping up behind Eliza to coax the hairy arachnid off the stick and onto the back her pale-pink sundress….

Only to jump in alarm as a sudden shout rang out from among the trees ahead. Eliza gave a brief shriek of her own, spinning around and clutching onto Suzie’s arm. The blue-haired girl was forced to drop the stick so she could use both hands to push the taller girl away.

“Get off me, you ninny!” she snapped.

“But that was Samuel shouting!” Eliza said anxiously, wringing her hands. “What if--“

But the young empath’s musings were cut short as a bright gale of laughter filled the forest, followed closely by Samuel’s distinctly annoyed voice. Suzie ran ahead to see what was going on, trailed by Eliza.

“Crikey, Marta!” the blond boy was saying as they approached, a startled hand clapped over his heart. “I thought you were—“ He trailed off, an embarrassed flush creeping all the way to his hairline. “Never mind.”

Marta’s indigo face broke out in a toothy, up-side down grin from where she was hanging directly over the path by her fuzzy tail, her springy, red curls bouncing as she swung.

”Go on,” she teased, “say it! You thought I was the alien, didn’t you?”

Samuel straightened, summoning as much dignity as his blushing face would allow. “I will admit to the fact that your unorthodox method of—“

“Marti! Marti! It’s DEAD!!!!!”

It was Edmund’s voice calling, and he sounded really panicked. Marta flipped down from her tree branch in alarm, sharing startled glances with the others.

“But wasn’t he…” she started.

“I thought he was up with you!” Suzie said, her golden eyes wide.

“We thought he was back with you!” Samuel retorted. Marta clutched her short curls in anxious frustration, praying her little brother wasn’t as far away as he sounded.

“Edmund!” she called out, her spaded tail lashing in agitation. “Eddie, where are you?”

“I—I’m over here!” the boy’s trembling voice responded. “Marti, you have to come! It isn’t moving!”

“What isn’t moving?” Samuel shouted, following after Marta as she surged down the path the way they’d come, tracking her brother’s voice with her sensitive, pointed ears. “What did you find?”

“It’s the alien,” the boy replied, his voice noticeably closer this time. His distraught words were interspersed with loud sniffles. Marta and Suzie shared a look of concern. It was clear that Edmund was crying.

“I found the alien, and it isn’t moving! Please, Marti…!”

“Just hang on, Eddie, all right?” Marta called out, her own voice breaking slightly with worry.

“OK,” he sniffled. Cocking her head at the sound, Marta turned off the well-marked path to push her way through the underbrush, the others following close at her heels.

“We’re almost there,” she said, jumping up to grab a low-hanging branch and swing herself over a clump of brambles. The others were forced to take the long way around, arriving at the small, marshy clearing beyond a few seconds behind her.

Edmund looked up from his anxious vigil at the sound of their approach through the thick nest of ferns, his pale-blue face flushed and streaked with dirt and tears. The instant he laid eyes on Marta, he rushed into her arms, burying his face in her shirt as he sobbed.

"Shhh, Eddie." She stroked his straight, black hair, her tail wrapping itself comfortingly around his waist. "Shhh, it’s OK."

"Where is it?" asked Suzie from behind them, sounding as though she was trying to cover concern with impatience. Edmund pointed back over his shoulder into the tall ferns, and the others cautiously stepped forward to peer over the feathery fronds.

"It's not some kind of sticky alien pod, is it?" asked Eliza, looking pale.

"No...." Marti let go of Edmund and stepped cautiously toward the strange gray thing. "It's a body wrapped up in a pair of gigantic bat's wings."

"Ewww!" said Eliza, gripping her brother's arm tightly.

Marti ignored her, cocking her head as a slight, barely audible sound reached her ears. "And it's not dead, either! I just heard a little squeak."

“Is it a mutant?” Samuel frowned, coming up beside her.

“I don’t know,” Marta said softly, crouching down and gingerly reaching out a cautious hand to touch the creature. When it didn’t move, she gently pushed the upper edge of the closer wing down, exposing a beautiful face that looked as though it had been sculpted from dove-gray marble. Eyes widening slightly, she delicately brushed away the hair that had fallen over the woman’s neck—it was the same pale gray as her wings—and checked for a pulse.

"Yes, she is alive,” Marta confirmed in satisfaction. “Her pulse is strong, but it's very slow."

Just then, the squeak came again, this time loud enough for the others to hear. Marta gave a start, then narrowed her eyes, pushing the wing down further to expose soft manes of hair growing down the back of the stranger's arms. Cuddled to the winged woman's chest was a tiny creature with dark fur. At first Marti thought it was a cat, but then the little thing opened it’s large, baby blue eyes and made another unhappy cry, its tiny face scrunched up in distress. Marta blinked in surprise.

“It’s a baby!” she exclaimed, reaching down to lift the fluffy creature into her arms. “I can’t believe how small it is. And look! It has a little tail, like a kitten!”

“Maybe it’s premature?” Eliza suggested from the edge of the ferns. “Not that I know anything about alien babies!”

“If it really is an alien,” Samuel pointed out. “You know what Dr. MacTaggert always says about mutant traits. They’re nothing if not unpredictable.”

Marta grimaced, looking around at the others. “So, what are we going to do?” she asked. “We’ve got to get them some medical attention, that’s for sure. Just look at that gaping cut on her wing.”

“Ouch,” Samuel winced in sympathy. “That thing looks painful.”

“Can’t you ‘port them home with us?” Edmund asked. Marta looked thoughtful.

“Maybe the mother,” she said, looking down into the infant’s curious eyes. “She seems pretty stable. But I wouldn’t want to risk such a strenuous trip with the baby. It’s far too tiny.”

“But if you take the alien thing, how will the rest of us get home?” Eliza asked anxiously, twisting her long, blonde hair into knots between her fingers. Samuel shot her a look.

“You can fly, can’t you?” he said. “Why don’t you take the baby to the manor? Suzie, Edmund, and I can wait to be picked up, or maybe take a bus.”

“Hey, wait a moment,” Suzie glared. “Who died and made you king? Marta, you ‘ported all of us out here. Why can’t you take us along too?”

Marta stared. “Are you daft?” she asked bluntly. “This lady is hurt! I want to save her, not kill her!”

“But—“

“Look,” the teleporter explained, working hard to keep her voice calm. “This isn’t going to be an ordinary ‘port. I’m going have to work really hard just to make sure the bulk of the strain falls on me instead of her. And that’s to say nothing of the distance! It’s going to take me three five-mile ‘ports in a row to get her home—though I’ll probably have to stop more often than that to catch my breath. Do you understand?”

Suzie sighed. “Yeah, I suppose. Looks like we wait.”

“Hmm,” Marta said. “Well, now that that’s settled, Eliza come over here and take this baby.”

Eliza bit her lip, shooting the fuzzy infant a dubious look. “Erm,” she started, “how do I…um?”

“Oh, just take it!” Marta frowned, placing the child gently in the older girl’s arms. “There. You do know how to get to the manor from here, don’t you?”

“Of course I do!” Eliza stated indignantly. “It’s about fifteen miles south. All I have to do is follow the highway.”

Suzie raised her eyebrows. “Hey, maybe that thick skull’s not as empty as I thought,” she said.

Eliza glared, then straightened with a huff, refusing to dignify such a comment with a retort. Suzie just smirked.

“All right, that’s enough,” Samuel said. “Get going Eliza. Oh, wait a second.”

Shrugging off his light jacket, he jogged over to his sister and placed it gently over the baby. “Here, I’ll wrap the kid in this,” he said. “We don’t want it to catch a cold.”

“Right ho,” the young empath nodded. Once the jacket was secure, she shot up into the air, her long, golden hair streaming out behind her like a ray of sunlight.

Once she was gone, Marta turned back to the unconscious creature in her charge, wondering how she was going to manage the necessary teleport. There was no way she’d be able to lift her. Maybe if she lay on her side and wrapped the creature in her arms and tail…?

Just then, the alien woman moved. Marta jumped, watching warily as she turned her head slightly, apparently searching for something with the long, abnormally slender fingers of one hand.

"Wo..." she moaned faintly, "wo ist mein zuigeling? Bitte...." Eyes the color of wings and hair showed for a moment before the lids closed again and she fell silent, cocooning herself up once more.

Marta blinked in surprise, sharing a startled glance with her sister.

“Did she just speak…” Suzie started.

“In German,” Marta nodded. “Or something very close to it. Let me try something.”

Leaning closer to the winged woman, she said politely, “Entschuldigen Sie bitte… Woher kommen Sie?”

There was no reply, only the breeze stirring a couple strands of hair that stuck out over the top of the sheltering wings.

“Kommen Sie aus ein Raumschiff?”

Still, there was no answer. Marta sighed.

“Oh well, it was worth a shot. Are you three certain you’ll be OK out here?”

“Yeah, sure,” Samuel assured her. “Don’t worry about us. The important thing is to get that lady to the infirmiry.”

Marta nodded. “Right then. Sit tight, and we’ll be back for you as soon as we can.”

“Marti,” Edmund spoke up, just as she was preparing to ‘port.

“Yes, Eddie?” she asked.

He looked down at her, his hazel eyes deep with worry. “Please be careful,” he said. “If she really is an alien…”

Marta smiled. “Don’t worry, Edmund,” she told him. “I doubt she’ll wake up. In fact, by the time I get her back to the manor I’ll be lucky if we’re not both unconscious!”

And on that not-quite-reassuring note, Marti carefully wrapped her arms around the comatose woman and teleported away.

BAMF!

*******

Marta arrived at the manor with her cumbersome charge just in time to see her parents come bursting out the front door. Both of them were in uniform, and from the expressions on their faces, Marta could tell they were less than happy.

“What the devil…” Kurt frowned, stopping short as his pointed ears caught the sound of her teleport. “Marta!”

Marta winced at the anger in his tone, leaving the unconscious woman on the ground and climbing woozily to her feet.

“Erm, hello, Dad,” she said, trying a weak smile. “We found the aliens for you.”

“So Eliza said,” Kurt glared, causing Marta to shrink. “I thought you had more sense than this, Marti. I thought you were old enough now to be trusted with certain responsibilities. But then you go and pull a stunt like this--“

“But we thought…” Marta tried.

“You didn’t think, Marta!” Alice exclaimed, just as furious as her husband. “That’s the point! When you children decided to go to off on your own, you didn’t just put yourselves in danger. You interfered with an ongoing government investigation!”

“What if this woman had not been unconscious when you found her,” Kurt added. “What if she had attacked you? If she thought you were endangering the safety of her child--“

“But we didn’t!” Marta protested defensively. “We saved the alien and her baby!”

“At the risk of all of your lives!” Kurt exploded. Marta froze, staring up at him with wide, intimidated eyes. She had never seen her father so upset. Kurt pursed his lips, taking a few deep breaths before saying, “We’ll talk more about this later. Right now, your mother and I have to go find Suzie, Edmund, and Samuel before they run into anything else.”

“What do you mean?” Marta asked in a small voice.

“We don’t know what was in that spacecraft!” Alice snapped, her brown eyes sharp with anger and worry. “That’s why we set up surveillance and cordoned off the wood! For all we know, there could be dozens of these entities prowling around that forest!”

“Oh…” Marta paled, her heart starting to pound as she thought of the others alone on the trail. Alice noticed the change in her expression, and sighed.

“Go call Moira and Brian and get this poor woman inside,” she said, only slightly less sharply than before. “We’ll be back soon.”

“Yes, Mum,” Marta nodded, her gaze fixed on the grass at her feet as her parents dashed off to the garage. Once they were out of sight, though, she clenched her fists in frustration, glaring up at the afternoon sky with tear-brightened eyes. It was so hard being the daughter of two superheroes. So many exciting adventures were going on around her all the time, but any time she tried to help out or get involved, she was always shoved off to the sidelines. It just wasn’t fair! She knew for a fact that her Auntie Kitty had been allowed on missions when she was fourteen. Back then, the X-Men had been made up almost entirely of teenagers. Scott Summers, Jean Grey, Rogue, Evan Daniels, Kurt Wagner!!!

But it was useless fuming about such injustice, at least at the moment. Marta had a responsibility to bring help to the woman she had rescued. Pulling her holophone out of her pocket, she clicked on Dr. MacTaggert’s number and waited. Several moments later, the doctor’s spectacled face appeared above the screen. She looked harried and at least as upset as her parents had been. Marta could hear the infant they’d found crying in the background.

“So, you’ve arrived with the mother, I gather,” the Scotswoman said brusquely. “I’ll get Brian and be out there in a minute. Stay right where you are.”

“Yes, Dr. MacTag--“

But the doctor had already hung up. Marta slid the phone back in her pocket with a deep sigh, running her thick fingers through her bright, red curls as she crouched down beside the alien.

“You think they’d be grateful,” she muttered. “We did find what they’d been looking for, after all.” She sighed again, then reached out to gently stroke the unconscious woman’s wing with the backs of her fuzzy fingers.

“But don’t worry,” she assured her. “They’re not always like this. We just gave them a bit of a scare. You and your baby are going to get the best of care here, I promise.”

Barely had she finished speaking when Captain Britain landed beside her, kneeling down to take the woman’s pulse.

“She’s alive,” Marta told him. “But she’s pretty badly hurt. Her wing’s scratched and--“

“I can see that,” Brian cut her off, barely even glancing at her as he hefted the winged creature into his powerful arms. Marta ground her teeth in annoyance.

“I just thought you should know--“ she started, only to break off when Brian spun around to face her, his blue eyes as hard and cold as sapphires.

“Eliza told me it was you who put her up to this,” he said angrily.

“Look, I only wanted to help--“

“We don’t require the help of an arrogant, inexperienced child!” Brian snarled, turning around and stomping back to the mansion with his burden. “We had everything under control.”

“But Uncle Brian, we were just trying to--“

”I don’t care what you were trying to do,” he snarled. “Now get out of my sight, Marta, before I do something I’ll regret.”

Marta froze in place, her spine stiffening all the way to the tip of her spaded tail.

“Fine!” she shouted back, her green eyes blazing as Brian jogged into the manor and slammed the heavy door behind him. Then, before the burning in her eyes could burst into tears, the fuzzy, blue teenager teleported to the manor’s roof. It was only there, hidden among the shadows of the sculpted stone, that she allowed herself to cry.




Please Review! :D
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby HoodedMan » Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:22 pm

Well, it seems to be very interesting so far though it may be a bit too early to try to figure out how the prologue fits in. An interesting beginning and I hope to see more when you're back!
ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Thu Aug 11, 2005 5:00 am

Thanks! :D You might start to understand the prologue a bit better in this chapter. Here's where the "alien" wakes up! Just so you know, I played the Wagner kids and Tammy played her character Felsentaube, including her semi-made up pidgin language. Please attribute any errors in Marta's German to me.

We hope you like it! :D



Chapter Five

The infirmary was quiet when Marta slumped her way inside. It had been over two days since she and the others had found the alien and her baby. And in that time, Marta hadn’t been able to find the time to visit them once.

After her parents had returned home with Suzie, Edmund, and Samuel, all the adults had banded together to decide on their punishment. Since it was pointless to try to confine young teleporters and shapeshifters to their rooms, it had been decided that the children would work off their sentence with extra chores. Braddock Manor was very large and had a great many rugs and carpets to beat and vacuum, and even more shelves, tables, and picture frames to dust and polish.

Marta understood why the adults had reacted as they had. She even sympathized. It had been wrong of her to lead the others into those woods alone. But knowing that didn’t stop the frustration that had prompted her to seek out a real adventure in the first place. And it didn’t change the fact that despite their obvious love and concern for her, her parents seemed unable to acknowledge the fact that she wasn't a little child anymore. She was a skilled teleporter-even more powerful than her father had been at her age-and all her teachers had remarked on her natural leadership abilities. If only there was a way to make them all see! She didn’t want their protection any longer! What she wanted was for them to recognize her abilities.

Hanging her head with a sigh, she peered around the corner into the cluttered room that served as Moira’s laboratory. Eliza was there, curled up in Moira’s plush, swivel chair beside a long, glass incubator. The fluffy, alien baby was lying inside, large eyes closed in peaceful slumber. Eliza smiled to herself as she watched the tiny infant sleep, too preoccupied with her own thoughts to notice as Marta scurried silently past the doorway and into the adjoining room.

The adult alien was lying on one of the six medi-cots that lined both sides of the rectangular room, still cocooned in her pale gray wings. The ugly cut had been neatly sutured and bandaged and she had been dressed in a plain, white hospital gown, but something struck Marta as odd. Then she realized, although the woman was still comatose, she had not been hooked up to any monitoring machines. Even the IV pole beside the bed stood empty.

Frowning, Marta hopped up to crouch on the bed next to the alien’s, trying to think why Dr. MacTaggert was doing nothing to monitor the unconscious woman. Then she remembered a conversation she had overheard the night before. When Moira had been working on suturing the woman’s wing, the heat from the alien’s blood had actually burned the doctor’s hand through her glove. It had been a small burn, but it had been enough to warrant extra caution when examining the aliens--at least until they had learned more about just who and what they were examining.

A gasp and a slight movement on the medi-cot next to her snapped her out of her stewing.

Marta's head shot up, her green eyes wide as she watched the woman's wings move slightly, then slowly unfold. The body beneath pushed itself wearily up into a very familiar crouching position, pawlike feet flexing as a plumed tail wrapped itself around the stranger's waist. Those soft grey eyes gazed down at her, and she realized with a thrill that they were solid, like her own.

"Oh, wow!" Marta exclaimed, her own tail lashing excitedly behind her. "You're awake!"

The woman's long, pointed ears pricked forward, then one flicked back.

"Yeah," she said, her English sounding of Germany and something else that Marta couldn't identify. "Where...." She blinked and two tears left steaming trails down her cheeks. "What happened to my sprout?"

“Your…?” Marta started, her brow furrowed in confusion.

"Copy? Brownie? Anklebiter?" The woman's ears drooped. "Kid??"

Marta’s face lit up as understanding dawned. “Oh, your baby? She’s here too! Don’t worry, she’s just fine.”

The woman gave a sigh, then moved her wings-which had been gripping the edge of the medi-cot to either side of her-so that they were folded neatly against her back.

"My poor little taube," she said. "I was scared the impact killed her."

“No, she’s doing really well,” Marta assured her, taking her cue from the smile she'd seen on Eliza’s face as she watched the child sleep. “I’d bring her to you but…well…” She trailed off, trying to think how best to explain. “The doctor here-Dr. MacTaggert-she has her in the incubator to keep her warm and safe. I’m sure she’ll let you see her when you’re well enough, though.”

The woman sighed, ears perking again and pointing toward the door. "Where's this?"

“Eh?” Marta asked, looking over her shoulder in the direction the ears were aiming. “This is the infirmary.”

"Infirmary? What's that?" The ears flicked toward her and the woman lifted one pale eyebrow quizzically. Then she cocked her head. "English, right?"

“Yes, I’m English,” Marta nodded, hoping she was getting her meaning right. “You’re in England.” She tilted her head slightly, knowing she was being rather forward but unable to keep her curiosity in any longer. “Where do you come from?”

The woman shrugged, wings rising and falling with the motion. "No place. I'm a shipper."

“OK,” Marta said gamely, though she was more confused then ever. Realizing this line of questioning was getting her nowhere, she decided to change tactics.

“I’m Marta, by the way,” she smiled, holding out her hand. “Marta Wagner. Though I’m sometimes called Marti. I’m the one who brought you here from where you crashed.”

"I'm the Raumfee." The woman briefly touched the hand with the claws at the top of one wing. "Long time ago they called me Felsentaube."

“Felsentaube…” Marti repeated carefully, noting with some concern that a bittersweet note had entered the woman’s voice when she'd spoken the name. “Do you mean, like, ‘rock dove’ in German? Are you from Germany?”

"Germany?" Felsentaube's ears flicked back and forth. "No, I don't know what Germany is. Felsentaube is a little winged thing that lived in the rocks where I was a sprout. This colour." She pointed to her knee, then combed her fingers through the mane of hair that ran up the back of her leg.

“You mean a bird?” Marta prompted, hoping for more clarification. “A gray bird? Did it make a cooing sound? Like this?”

Cupping her hands over her mouth, she tried her best to imitate a dove, her green eyes wide and questioning as she watched for the woman’s response.

"Vogel?" Felsentaube made a soft sound like a sleepy pigeon, then turned her head toward the door. Marti was too excited by her reply to notice.

“Bird, yes!” she nodded eagerly. “Vogel, auf Deutsch.” Suddenly, her mouth dropped open as a sudden realization hit her. All this time, she'd been referring to Germany using the English term for the country. Perhaps, if she used the German instead, she'd have better luck!

“Felsentaube,” she said, leaning forward slightly in her chair. “Kommen Sie aus Deutschla-“

“Marti?”

Marta frowned at the interruption, but her expression softened when she saw who had spoken. Edmund was standing in the doorway with Suzie right behind him, his face full of concern.

“Hey, Eddie,” she smiled, beckoning them both into the room. “What’s up?”

“I was just wondering if you were still upset,” the boy said, his tail twitching as he held his hands behind his back. “And I was thinking that--Hey!” he exclaimed, his hazel eyes widening as an excited grin stretched across his face. “Our alien's awake!”

Taube gave a soft chuckle. "Alien? Here? This is Earth, right?"

“Of course this is Earth,” Suzie frowned, her golden eyes narrowing slightly as she regarded the woman on the bed. “Where did you think you were?”

“Suzie…” Marta hissed through a clench-toothed smile, elbowing her sister in the side.

Felsentaube cocked her head and regarded Suzie, the corners of her mouth turning up ever so slightly even as her eyes once more loosed tears down her cheeks. "I was born on Earth, Suzie. So were my parents, and grandparents."

Suzie and Marta shared a look of surprise. Edmund looked crestfallen.

“You mean, you’re not really from outer space?” he asked, his tail curling around his leg in a show of his disappointment. “But what about your spaceship? The one that crashed?”

"I've been gone a long time." Felsentaube rested her head on one knee, her wings going down to either side of her again. "Fifty years, I think." Then she lifted her head and blinked. "Could I sponge a protein pack?"

Suzie stared. “Could you what a what?”

“I think I know,” Marta said, shooting her sister a look before turning back to Felsentaube. “You must be pretty hungry after all you’ve been through,” she observed. “Tell me what you like to eat and I’ll see what I can find.”

“Oh, Marti, I almost forgot!” Edmund spoke up, keeping his hands concealed behind his back as he rushed to stand in front of her. “I wanted to give you something!”

Suzie leaned over to whisper in Marta’s ear. “It’s his day to help out in the kitchen and Uncle Alistaire took pity on him. Wait ‘till you see this.”

Marta raised a pair of deeply curious eyebrows, but Suzie pursed her lips, unwilling to give anything more away. Turning back to her grinning brother, she asked, “Well, what is it, Edmund?”

Edmund’s grin broadened into an eager beam as he revealed his prize with a theatrical flourish worthy of his father.

“It’s you, made out of gingerbread!” he announced, holding the palm-sized cookie out for her to take. “Uncle Alistaire accidentally let the frozen dough from the store thaw out, so he rolled it flat and let me make shapes with it! They taste really good.”

“It looks really good too,” Marti grinned, running her thick fingers over the cookie’s crispy little tail.

“So you’re not going to be so angry anymore?” he asked hesitantly. “Because the last two days haven’t been much fun.”

Marta sighed, but her smile didn’t entirely fade as she stared down at the cookie in her hand. “You know I wasn't angry at you, Eddie,” she said. “It’s just…the situation. Mum and Dad-- I know they’re just trying to look out for me. For all of us. But sometimes….”

Suzie smirked her understanding. “Yeah,” she said, rolling her golden eyes. “Tell me about it.”

It was clear from his expression that Edmund had missed his sisters’ meaning completely. Marta smiled at him, then reached out with her tail to tousle his straight, black hair with the spade.

“Don’t worry about it, Eddie,” she said. “I’m fine, really. It just really stinks being cooped up all day cleaning the house.”

This, Edmund understood. “Yeah,” he said, nodding at his sisters. “Tell me about it!”

Suzie turned her gaze to the ceiling, but Marta laughed.

“Right!” she grinned. “Now what was I going to say…? Oh yeah!” She looked back over to Felsentaube, who had been watching the three of them with a strange, almost wistful attitude the whole time. “I was going to see about getting you some lunch! What kind of food do you like?”

"Crawlers," said the winged woman absently, eyes fixed on Edmund. "Big ones."

Edmund paled. “But…but she can’t mean…”

“Worms?” Marta interrupted quickly, reaching down to give her brother’s hand a comforting squeeze. “You eat worms?”

"Worms?" Felsentaube quirked an eyebrow and flicked her ears uncertainly.

“Yeah, you know,” Suzie said with a wicked grin. “Nightcrawlers. Big, plump, juicy nightcrawlers that wriggle and squirm when you bite into them-“

“Suzie, don’t!” Edmund squealed, clapping his hands over his rounded ears. “What if she thinks-“

“Thinks what?” Suzie smirked. “We’re only talking about worms, right? Those pink slimy things that crawl out of the ground when it rains? That’s what you meant, isn’t it, Felsentaube?”

"No, but they sound good," she said, still watching Edmund. The boy bit his lip, his tail reaching out to twine itself around Marta’s in his anxiety. But it was Suzie’s face that blanched.

“What?” she said. Then she shook her head, regaining a hold on herself as she demanded, “What are they then?”

Felsentaube cocked her head, eyes lifting to meet the azure-haired girl's golden ones. "Little animals with lots of legs." She lifted one hand and made it scuttle down her leg, then raised one eyebrow. "I'm okay with protein."

Edmund brightened at once. “Oh, I get it!” he exclaimed. “The itsy-bitsy spider!”

Suzie shot the winged woman an incredulous look. “Just one moment,” she said. “Do you seriously expect me to believe that you eat spiders?” She chuckled darkly, her eyes taking on a mischievous gleam. “Because if you do, I know just the person to call….”

“Knock it off, Suzie,” Marta frowned. “We’re in enough trouble as it is. Just leave Eliza alone, OK?”

Suzie scowled at her sister, but nodded just the same. “But only until the curse of the vacuum has been lifted,” she declared.

“Good enough,” Marta said, turning her attention back to Felsentaube. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I don’t think we have any spiders. But we do have some shrimp in the freezer. Do you like shrimp? They’re nice and sweet."

Felsentaube looked at her uncertainly. "Are they anything like Käfer?"

“Käfer?” Marti frowned. “What, do you mean beetles?” She grimaced. “No, sorry, we don’t have any beetles either. No insects of any kind.”

“She’s welcome to eat the mosquitoes,” Suzie muttered under her breath, but Marti silenced her with a look.

"Are you sure you wouldn't like some shrimp instead?" she asked, a plaintive note creeping into her voice.

"Sure." Felsentaube was listening to something outside the door again, apparently having lost interest in the conversation.

“OK, then,” she said, jumping to her feet. “I’ll have to square it away with Dr. MacTaggert first, but I don’t think there’ll be much of a problem. You just stay here and I’ll be back before you know it, OK?”

"Dank u," said the winged woman absently, eyes on Suzie and Edmund.

Suzie watched with Edmund as her sister headed through the main infirmary to the hall. Then she turned back to the stranger, only to give an involuntary start when she noticed the woman was staring straight at her with those solid gray eyes of hers.

“What are you looking at?” she asked with a slight frown.

"You," said the grey woman softly. "You make me think of my Schwester."

Suzie’s frown spread to her forehead. The sadness in the woman’s tone was unmistakable, her words spoken so quietly that even with her pointed ears Suzie found it difficult to tell her meaning through her heavy accent.

“You have a sister?” she said curiously. “Where is she now?”

"Still in the Wüste with our familie, if everything is good." The woman suddenly turned her head, her whole body taking on an attitude of poised listening.

“What’s the matter?” Edmund asked, somewhat alarmed by her posture. “Do you hear something?”

"Marta!" There was a blur of grey as the stranger gave a massive bound that took her right through the door. Both children heard her grunt slightly as one of her partly spread wings hit the doorframe on the way out.

The speed of her movement was so startling that for a moment, all they could do was blink. Suzie was the first to recover.

“Let’s go!” she called to Edmund, her tennis shoes leaving skid marks on the polished floor as she turned the corner and raced into the hall. Her brother followed close at her heels, his heart filling with a sudden foreboding as he poked his head around the doorframe.

The sight that met his gaping eyes left him frozen in disbelief. Suzie was standing perfectly still only a few feet in front of him, her stunned form silhouetted by the brilliant glow of what seemed to be a ragged, oblong rip hanging in the air in the middle of the hall. The borders of the tear crackled with orange energy, and the pull from its swirling center was so strong it made the hair on Edmund’s arms stand on end. But it wasn't the crackling rip that held the boy’s attention. It was the strange scene playing out at its center.

Felsentaube was standing right in the middle of the orange glow, the sucking wind tousling her long manes. Her strong wings held onto the walls to either side of the tear as she reached in with both hands. The winged woman was shaking with strain as she called out once more: "Marta! Kick him again! I have the port! Wha...? NO!"

Edmund winced at the anguished shout, ducking his head with a frightened cry of his own as the red ribbon Suzie had tied around her ponytail suddenly came loose. The pulling force of the rip was turning the corridor into something of a wind tunnel, sending the hapless ribbon shooting past Felsentaube’s shoulder and into its swirling depths.

The loss of her ribbon snapped Suzie out of her stunned stupor. Leaning back against the dragging wind, she rushed to the winged woman’s side, trying to get a glimpse of what she was seeing. Barely had she reached, her, however, when Felsentaube's ears gave a sudden twitch and she leapt through the tear, vanishing into a pinpoint of light. Suzie was forced to take a staggering step forward, one hand actually in the portal as she fought to keep her balance against the rising wind.

“Edmund!” she called, her blue hair whipping wildly around her pale, narrow face. “Edmund, you have to go call the others! Quick!”

Edmund stared at his sister through wide, terrified eyes, his tail wrapped so tightly around his ankle it was starting to cut off the circulation.

“What are you going to do?” he asked, his young voice trembling.

“I’m going in after her!” Suzie shot back, her face a mask of determination.

“You can’t!” Edmund exclaimed, thoroughly alarmed. “What if-“

“Didn’t you hear what that bat lady said?” Suzie frowned. “Marti’s in trouble!”

“But Suzie-“

“No!” she insisted. “No more arguments! Marti needs our help! Now, I’m going through this portal. You go get Mum and Dad and tell them what happened! I’m counting on you, Edmund!”

And with that, Suzie made the leap, the glowing tear vanishing behind her with a crackling SHAZZP!

Edmund slowly straightened, his tail finally releasing its death-grip on his ankle. There was no evidence that anything had happened in the hall, only a strange, eerie silence-like the sudden calm that comes after a fierce storm. Except…

Something was shining in the carpet, something small. Bending down, Edmund picked up the object, bringing up to his eyes for closer inspection.

It was the sharp, serrated tooth of a shark.



:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby HoodedMan » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:27 pm

Very interesting! An exciting and thought-provoking chapter, and I hope to see more!
ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby CurlyyHairGirl » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:37 am

You and Tammy Make a great team!

I'm really enjoying this story.
I love the language barrier between Marti and Felsentaube, it makes for great humor...I love humor... *stares blankly towards the ceiling*
I also like how there has grown a small bond between the two that Felsentaube would risk her neck for Marti especially since they've just met.

I'm hyped now...I blame you. I'll never get any sleep. I'm supposed to be going to Six Flags Magic Mountain tomorrow and leave early, so I gotta sleep early tonight, that way I'll have energy to go on Goliath and the 'X', but I'll end up falling asleep waiting in line.LOL. Just Kidding! I love your stories, and I love the feeling of adrenaline running through my sytem.

-EMO, the adrenaline junkie.
one name: Bruce Campbell
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Sun Sep 04, 2005 12:54 pm

wOOt! Thanks very much, from both of us!

Yeah, Felsentaube's pretty cool, and she's a pretty complex character to boot. Lots of weird powers, and a strange history too. It's neat, and there'll be a LOT more of her in coming chapters! :D

However, before we get to that, this chapter here takes place in Tammy's universe and she wrote just about all of it. I played Rogue and made a few suggestions here and there. But this one's mostly hers. It sets the scene for some strange things to come. Hope you like it!



Chapter Six

Steady beeps broke the silence of the soundproofed med-bay, a silence otherwise disturbed only by the scuffing of Todd's feet and Logan's low rumbling.

"Logan, please," murmured Ororo, her eyes on the girl who stood protectively at the side of the medical table.

"What was Speedy doin' ta get blue hands?" he whispered so low that only she heard it.

Her expression didn't change, but the short Canadian suddenly flinched and fell silent, shooting her a reproachful glare.

Scott glanced at the two adults, then turned to look at Jean. "What's he doing?"

"She poked him," replied the redhead absently, her face intent as she watched Professor Xavier lean over the unconscious Pietro.

Scott's eyebrows rose above his ruby quartz shades. "No, I mean the Professor."

"He's asking Pietro what happened." Jean frowned in concentration, then blinked and looked non-plussed.

Charles moved then, smoothing back the hair from Pietro's forehead and looking up at the people who stood around him. "You are correct, Rogue."

“No way,” she frowned. “You mean that glowing orange thing Pietro was babblin' about was real?" She shot the gathered X-Men her most scathingly skeptical glare, half-convinced they were pulling her leg.

"It was real," said Jean, both eyebrows raising as she blinked. "If I hadn't seen it in his mind I wouldn't have believed it."

"How is he?" demanded Todd suddenly, scowling.

"We should move to my study and leave him to rest," said Charles, looking at the sallow-skinned boy not unkindly.

"That's not an answer, yo!" Todd's scowl darkened. Xavier sighed, but nodded his understanding.

"He's sustained a slight swelling to the brain,” he told the concerned teen, “but he will recover fully. Now come along everyone. We can carry on with this conversation in my study.”

“Just y’all wait one second,” Rogue spoke up, her arms crossed obstinately over her chest. “How long is he goin’ to have to stay here? Ah, for one, am not prepared to sleep here overnight.”

"Who said anythin' 'bout you stayin' overnight, Stripes?" asked Logan, frowning at her. Rogue glared back, straightening her spine until she was standing eye to eye with the burly Canadian.

"Logan, please." Charles broke in, giving his lieutenant a warning glance. "We will discuss all this in my study, Rogue. At the moment Pietro is strongly in need of quiet."

Rogue looked like she was about to protest, but Scott cut her off.

“The Prof’s right,” he said, his expression grim behind his shades. “Poor Pietro’s going to have it tough enough when he wakes up without our chattering.”

Rogue scowled, but didn’t retort. Instead, she watched through slitted eyes as Scott offered a hand to Jean, helping her to rise from Pietro’s bedside, then walking with her into the hall. Rogue ground her teeth together at the sight, then shot a glare at Toad.

“Come on,” she snapped with an angry toss of her white-streaked auburn hair, smiling with dark satisfaction as the stomp of her boots echoed down the metal corridor.

"But they could do something to him while we're gone..." he whined, lowering his head.

"Get goin', kid," Logan growled, levering himself away from the wall and giving him a shove.

*******

Most of the others had already gathered in Xavier's wood-paneled study by the time the two Brotherhood members, followed closely by Logan, got there. Logan went to lean against the bookcase with his arms crossed, leaving the leather sofa for Rogue and Todd.

Todd hunkered down in the middle of the floor and muttered under his breath, staring around at the assembled X-Men as though he expected one of them to do something sinister.

Rogue glanced at her younger teammate, then rolled her eyes and gave her head a slight shake as she flopped onto the couch and crossed her arms over her chest. "OK, Xavier, y’all were sayin’?"

Charles raised one eyebrow slightly, but only clasped his hands and rested them on his desk. "As I said, Pietro sustained a slight concussion when he ran into the wall."

"Hold on, yo!" grumbled Todd. "Why the heck would he run into a wall? That's more my trick."

"Shut up, kid 'n let him talk," growled Logan, shooting him a look that left him shivering.

"He ran into the wall attempting to follow Kurt and his abductor through the orange portal," said Charles unperturbed by the exchange. "Of the abductor he caught only a shadowy glimpse."

"Wait." Scott held up a hand. "Whoever made this portal thing took Kurt?"

"Yes," said Xavier, lowering his gaze to his hands.

"What are we going to do?" asked Ororo softly, a line appearing between her snowy brows.

"Forget the fuzzbutt," said Todd impatiently. "When can Pie-Pie come home?"

Charles looked down at the young teen. "In the morning, perhaps. I want to be certain that he's responding to the treatment as he should." He raised one eyebrow. "Rest assured, we have no ongoing experiments for which we need guinea pigs."

"Says you," Todd scowled back at him.

Logan cleared his throat, causing the skittish boy to hit the ceiling, where he stuck. "I'm with 'Ro, Chuck. What'er we gonna do 'bout the elf? What exactly did this orange thing look like? Want me ta go t' the school and check fer scents?"

"No...I do not believe that will be necessary."

"So what?" The gruff Canadian growled, pushing away from the wall and clenching his fists. "We're just gonna sit around 'n wait fer the Squirrel t' get home on his own?"

"Logan, calm down." Ororo reached up from her chair to lay a hand on his arm.

He shot her a glare, then turned to scowl at Charles.

"What else can we do?" asked Jean anxiously.

"I will see if I can find him with Cerebro," said Charles heavily, pushing his chair back from the desk. "Are there any more questions?"

"Yeah, I got one, yo," said Todd timidly from above. "When do we eat?"

Logan glanced up at him, then sighed. "Get down from there, runt, yer gonna ruin the plaster 'n then I'll have ta fix it."

"Not happnin', yo. I kinda like it up here."

Scott shared a look with Jean through his shades, then turned his gaze to the Toad. “Even if I told you we usually eat at about six? That’s ten minutes from now.”

"Yes, I had better go and check on what is happening in the kitchen," said Ororo, rising gracefully from her chair and smoothing her lavender peasant skirt. "Jubilation and Kitty were quite excited about trying the recipe they found in a magazine today."

"Kitty and Jubilee?" groaned Todd. "No thanks. I've seen what those guys do in home ec."

"I thought it was take-out night." Scott sounded deeply disappointed.

Logan growled suddenly, his expression pained. "I gotta do somethin', Chuck."

"Get those two out of the kitchen," muttered Todd.

"Shut up, Toad," growled Rogue.

"Gimme some moolah 'n I'll go get us something good to eat, yo." He hopped down from the ceiling and crouched in front of her. "The X-Geeks can poison themselves."

Rogue scowled down at the boy through heavily mascaraed eyes. “What do you think ah am, made of money? Ah’ve only got ten bucks. Why don’t you ever have any dough?”

Todd scowled back. "Where'm I supposed to get cash, yo?"

“Why not out of those wallets you picked at Monday’s soccer game?” Rogue sneered. “And don’t try to deny it, Toad. Ah saw you skulking around under the bleachers.”

Scott’s head snapped around, his forehead puckered in alarm. “What—wait a minute!” he exclaimed, striding over to Toad on his long legs. “I knew it was you! You picked my pocket you little—“

“Scott!” Jean interrupted sharply. But Scott was livid.

”I had fifty bucks in my wallet,” he scowled. “Fifty bucks! I was going to take Jean out to dinner after the game on that money, but because of you—“

Todd gave a muted squeak, then lashed out with one foot, only to yelp as Logan grabbed the offending limb and lifted him off the floor by it. Twisting, the flexible young mutant wrapped one spindly arm around Logan's beefy one, then let fly a glob of slime that hit the Canadian smack in the face. There was an enraged roar that cut off abruptly in the middle, then a startled silence that was broken by Jean's gasp.

"Where'd they go?” the startled telepath exclaimed. “Scott?"

“What the-“ Rogue cut herself off, jumping to her feet and spinning around in a complete circle, her green eyes scanning the room for any sign of Todd, Scott and Logan. “They couldn’t have just….vanished!” she exclaimed, starting to get angry. “What kind of a madhouse are y’all runnin’ here!”

Jean blinked at her, then turned toward Charles, who had a stunned look on his face as his mind swept the mansion for the missing ones. Behind him two blue eyes blinked in slow amazement, their bright color barely showing against the dark maroon of the wallpaper.

*This is turning out to be the weirdest mission yet.*

Charles' eyes widened at the faint voice in his mind. "What?" He turned, but the eyes were gone.

“What did you just say?” Rogue snapped, turning on the Professor. “Tell me what happened to Scott, Toad, and Wolverine!”

Xavier turned back to her, a hint of fear and anger showing in his usually composed face. "I'm afraid I cannot do that, Rogue."

“And why not?” she demanded with a burning glare.

He sighed heavily, looking suddenly old and weary as he rested his forehead on his hand. "Because I do not know."
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Sun Sep 04, 2005 12:58 pm

...and now it's back to Earth 723 to find out what's going on there. This chapter's actually been done for a couple of weeks, but I was saving it. Here's something cool, though: It's got Forge!!!




Chapter Seven

Edmund Wagner shot through the labyrinthine corridors of Braddock Manor like a bullet though a gun barrel, his sneakers squeaking against the polished marble tiles as he turned the corner. Dashing into the anteroom just outside the large hall that Excalibur used as a conference room, the boy skidded to a stop on the thick, gray carpet, taking a moment to catch his breath and collect his thoughts.

Over the pounding of his racing heart, Edmund could just make out the muffled sound of a man’s voice emanating through the thick, wooden double doors that separated the elegantly furnished anteroom from the conference chamber. The man spoke with an educated New York accent, but Edmund couldn’t make out his words. Opening the door a crack, he peered through, his hazel eyes widening when he caught sight of the vibrantly colored image projected on the view screen at the far wall. The speaker was standing in front of it, addressing the gathered members of Excalibur seated in a horseshoe around the large, circular table.

*******

“…And so, building upon the data from these studies I have conducted on how the teleportation power is actually triggered, I was able to design a device that can open a stable portal into any dimension within a certain range. It detects and stores each unique dimensional signal it encounters, so no matter how many times you use it, you will always be able to find your way back to your home reality.”

“But you’ve tried this before, Forge,” Kurt pointed out, his brow furrowing at the memory. “Years ago, remember?” He shuddered slightly. “That experience put me off teleporting for months.”

“I remember that,” Kitty nodded, the wariness in her eyes mirroring Kurt’s. “The creatures your portals released into our dimension nearly destroyed Bayville High School before we found a way to send them back.”

Forge shook his head, his dark eyes bright in his chiseled face. “That machine was a prototype,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. “The sloppy design of an inexperienced boy trying to break into a field he didn’t fully understand. Comparing my new invention to that contraption is like comparing DaVinci’s flying machine to Excalibur’s jet!”

“Oh?” Brian said, raising a curious eyebrow. “And why is that?”

“Well for one thing,” Forge explained, “the portals it triggers are only one way. So it would be impossible for any other-dimensional beings to make their way through. Also, it’s equipped with a signature scrambler which activates automatically when a portal is opened.”

“So the portals are untraceable?” Alistaire asked, thoroughly fascinated.

“Exactly,” Forge grinned. “That way, if you happen to run into trouble on a certain world, the hostiles will be unable to track your escape path.”

“It’s absolutely brilliant, Forge,” the slender professor commended, his admiration clear in his tone. “I can’t wait to see it in action!”

“Just a minute,” Brian broke in. “Before we start with any trials, I have one very important question.”

“What’s that?” Forge asked curiously.

“What do you call the thing?”

Forge blinked, apparently caught off guard. The rest of the team shared uncomfortable glances.

“Well, that’s obvious, isn’t it?” Alistaire spoke up, attempting to alleviate the awkward silence. “It’s an Interdimensional Teleportation Device, right Forge?”

The inventor looked blank for a moment, then nodded. “Right,” he said quickly, his coppery features reddening slightly. “That’s right. The ITD. Thank you, Dr. Stuart.”

Brian rolled his eyes toward Kurt, who just gave a shrug of his eyebrows. Then he straightened, turning in his chair as a sudden movement caught his eye.

“Edmund?” he called out with a slight frown, his sharp eyes latching onto the boy’s slight form through the shadows at the back of the room. “What are you doing back there?”

Alice turned her head, sharing a confused look with her husband as their son stepped out of the dimness and into the light streaming from the projector high above. His shoulders were hunched and his tail was lashing behind him in a reflection of his discomfort at having to confront so many adults at once.

“Your father’s asked you a question, young man.” Brian frowned down at him, clearly annoyed. “What’s so important that you felt you had to interrupt an official briefing?”

Edmund cringed, an intimidated flush staining his pale-blue cheeks a light wine color.

“Brian, bitte, it’s OK,” Kurt said, shooting the Captain a sharp look from across the table. “Come here, Eddie and tell us what’s up.”

Edmund gave his father a grateful nod, then scurried over to stand between him and Alice. Instead of offering an explanation, though, the boy burst into tears the moment he reached his parents.

“Edmund, love, what is it!” Alice exclaimed, instinctively gathering him up into her arms. “What’s wrong, sweetie? Has Suzie been teasing you again?”

“N-no!” Edmund stammered through his tears, burying his face in his mother’s shoulder. “She-she’s gone! They’re all gone! Marti and Suzie and the alien too!”

“Gone?” Kurt narrowed his eyes in alarm, his tail pounding against the back of his chair. “What do you mean ‘gone’? Gone where?”

“I don’t know!” Edmund sobbed, scrubbing at his streaming eyes with his fists. “There was this glowing orange rip in the middle of the hallway, and 'Taube was standing in the middle of it shouting to Marti. There was so much wind, I could hardly move! Then, 'Taube jumped into the rip and Suzie ran after her and then everything disappeared! All that was left was this.”

He held out his palm, the serrated shark tooth gleaming against his pale-blue skin. Kurt picked it up, then handed it to Kitty, who handed it to Alistaire.

“What is it?” asked Brian.

“At first glance, it appears to be the tooth of a shark.” The scientist frowned, pulling his glasses from his pocket and slipping them over his eyes so he could give the object a more thorough examination. “But something about it seems…well…off. I’d need to do some research to identify it.”

“That’s all very well,” Alice spoke up, “but who is this 'Taube' person, I’d like to know? And what’s all this about a rip?” She turned her head, shooting Forge an accusing glare over her son’s tousled black hair. “Edmund’s description sounds eerily like one of your portals, Forge.”

“Not one of mine!” Forge protested defensively. “The light emitted from my portals is purple, not orange. But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be an interdimensional doorway opened by someone else. This Taube, maybe?”

“No way,” Edmund shook his head. “It wasn’t her who took Marti. 'Taube was just trying to get her back!”

“But Edmund,” Kurt said, placing a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Who is Taube?”

“The alien lady!” he exclaimed in exasperation, as though the answer was too obvious to require an explanation. “She was awake when I went to give Marti her cookie.”

Kurt tightened his jaw, sharing an apprehensive look with Alice. Then he stood, his golden eyes sharp as he addressed his team.

“There’s only one way to get to the bottom of this,” he announced, his expression dark with anxiety and determination. “We have to go to the source. Edmund, where did you say this rip appeared?”

“In the hallway right outside the infirmary,” the boy told him, his eyes still red and shiny with tears.

“Then that’s where we’re going,” his father stated, taking Edmund by the hand and heading for the door. “Forge, you come too. I have a feeling we’ll be needing that device of yours after all.”

*******

As they approached the infirmary, the anxious party was met by piercing wails overlapped by the thoroughly exasperated tones of Dr. Moira MacTaggert.

“I told you to warm the formula, lass, not boil it! Now you’ve gone and scalded the bairn’s wee tongue! Has no one ever told you how to test a bottle?”

“It’s not my fault!” Eliza whined, nearly at the point of tears herself. “I only had it in the microwave for a minute!”

“A minute!” Moira was clearly livid. Holding the wailing infant to her shoulder, she patted her fuzzy back soothingly even as she turned on her heel, storming out of the lab and into the main infirmary. Almost immediately, she caught sight of the gathering in the hallway outside her door. Narrowing her eyes in annoyance mingled with curiosity, she pressed the child into the startled arms of the first person she passed-who happened to be Alistaire-ordering over her shoulder, “She needs a fresh bottle. Warm the milk for twenty seconds, then test it on your arm before giving it to her.”

A thoroughly befuddled Alistaire blinked after her irate back, holding the sobbing infant gingerly in both hands. “Who-what? Why me?”

But Moira was already ranting at Brian and Meggan about Eliza’s flightiness and didn’t seem to hear him. Looking down at the baby, the scientist was startled to find she had stopped her cries and was now looking up at him with wide, curious, blue eyes, her tiny fists clutching at the sleeves of his jacket. Alistaire tilted his head with a gentle smile, completely charmed by the way she scrunched up her little face so pitiably.

“So,” he said softly, cuddling the fluffy infant close in his arms. “Moira tells me you’re hungry.”

The baby snuffled, then reached up to graze his chin with her delicate fingers, her mouth open and her expression surprisingly intent. Alistaire chuckled despite himself, gently tapping her little nose with the tip of his finger. The baby smiled and looked up into his eyes. At that moment, the shy scientist felt his heart melt.

“Alistaire, we need you over here,” Kitty’s voice intruded into his warm little cloud, causing him to give a small start of surprise. Kitty was frowning at him, somewhat concerned by the oddly dreamy look on her husband’s face.

“Are you OK?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, love,” he nodded. “I’m fine. Tell the others I’ll be with them in a tick. Moira’s asked me to get this little one her bottle.”

“Her bottle?” Kitty wrinkled her brow. “But Alistaire, Forge is about to start his scan. I thought you wanted to know how he-“

“In a minute, dear. This little lady is hungry. Isn’t that right, my lamb?”

“…My lamb...?” Kitty stared in surprise at her husband’s departing back, taken aback by how quickly he’d bonded with the baby. But she didn’t have more than a moment to ponder this new development before a sudden flash of light brought her attention snapping back to the crisis at hand.

Forge and Alice were standing a few feet away, completely focused on the narrow scanning beam of bluish light that had just fanned out from the inventor’s hand-held ITD prototype. Moira and Kurt were standing right outside the infirmary doors, and it was obvious that her temper had not yet cooled.

“What do you mean, they ‘disappeared’?” the doctor was demanding of the agitated team leader, who had clearly been trying to fill her in on what had happened.

“From what we can gather, something took Marti when she left the infirmary, pulling her through a rip in the space-time continuum,” Kurt explained, keeping his calm with some difficulty. It was obvious from the haggard look in his golden eyes how very worried he was. “Suzie and the alien ran in after her just before the tear closed.”

“Dad-“ Edmund started, but Moira was already talking, not even aware that the boy had spoken.

“But I was right in my office the whole time!” the doctor exclaimed. “Surely I would have heard something like that! I heard that wee one’s cries right enough!”

“Dad!” Edmund said again, pulling on his father’s tail. Kurt made an annoyed sort of half turn, saying, “Edmund, don’t pull me!”

“But Dad!” he insisted, pulling again when his father showed no signs of turning around fully.

“Ow! Edmund, what is it?” Kurt demanded hotly, yanking his fuzzy tail from his son’s grasp and meeting his frowning gaze at last.

“She’s not an alien!”

Kurt frowned. “Who isn’t?”

“’Taube!” Edmund explained in exasperation. “We asked her and she told us she’s not. She’s just been away for a long time.”

“And just what is that supposed to mean?” Brian spoke up, scowling down at the boy over Moira’s shoulder.

“That she’s not from another planet!” Edmund scowled back. “She speaks German too. Or something sort of like it.”

Kurt, Brian, and Moira shared perplexed looks, but before any of them could think to question the boy further, Alistaire reappeared in the hall with the baby cradled securely in his arms. She was sucking at her bottle and letting out a soft, contented purr, almost like that of a cat. Eliza trailed sulkily behind them.

“So, what did I miss?” the scientist asked, although it was clear from his expression that the purrs from his tiny charge had him completely entranced. His eyes never left the fuzzy infant for a moment.

“Quick, over here!” Alice exclaimed suddenly, cutting off all other strains of conversation as everyone’s head turned instantly to her and Forge. “We’ve found something!”

Kurt was at his wife’s side almost before she’d finished talking, the double dose of teleport smoke from his hasty departure and reappearance filling the narrow corridor with the stench of brimstone. Given the tension of the moment, however, nobody noticed. The only reaction was from the baby, who gave a slight chuff of a sneeze, then blinked up at a concerned Alistaire with wide eyes.

“Is that it?” Excalibur’s leader asked, pointing at a thin, orange line amidst the flurry of multicolored static bursting across the ITD’s display screen. The line had a rather puckered look to it, almost like a scar.

Forge nodded. “I think so,” he said, giving the control pad a few adept taps. “I’m setting it to search for the tear’s residual dimensional signature now. I just hope that teleport you did doesn’t interfere with the results.”

Kurt blanched, his deep indigo complexion suddenly looking blotchy.

“Lieber Gott,” he gasped, his horrified tail twining instinctively around his wife’s waist. “You don’t think…”

“No, it’s all right,” Forge assured him quickly, making a few more rapid adjustments. “I can compensate. The signature of the dimension you teleport through is a known constant. I’m searching for an unknown.”

Kurt closed his eyes, his knees going weak with the force of his relief. “Gott sei Dank,” he breathed in a shaky voice, resting his head against his wife’s shiny, black hair. Alice wrapped a supportive arm around his shoulders, giving him a quick, comforting squeeze.

Kitty shared an anxious look with Moira, Brian, and Meggan, uncomfortable with the tense silence that filled the narrow hall while they waited breathlessly, for Forge’s results to come through. Finally, just as the suspense was becoming unbearable, the inventor’s stern, chiseled features broke into a relieved grin.

“There!” he exclaimed triumphantly. “Got it!”

“Can that device tell where they are in that dimension?” Alice asked, her golden-brown eyes wide with trepidation, but her coppery features carefully controlled.

Forge furrowed his brow. “I think so,” he said slowly. “Their sub-atomic particles should be resonating at a different frequency to their surroundings. If I could track that and latch on….” He trailed off for a moment, the tip of his tongue sticking out of his mouth as he focused all his concentration on his machine. No one moved until he spoke again.

“Ah,” he grunted in seeming satisfaction. “OK, I think that’s done it. The image is very fuzzy, but I can just make out what seems to be…no, it has to be an island. I can’t see any signs of either Marta or Suzie, but that’s where the frequency originates. I can open a portal right at the entrance there….but wait one second,” he frowned in confusion. “I’m picking up…”

He looked up from the screen, his dark eyes searching around until they landed on Alistaire. The cooing scientist glanced up from the purring infant in his arms in bewildered disorientation as the tall inventor closed in on him, lean face intent.

“The shark tooth Edmund found,” the inventor said, anticipating Alistaire’s question. “May I see it?”

“Of course,” Alistaire frowned in confusion, shifting the child slightly as he reached into the pocket of his jacket. “Here you are.”

“Thank you,” Forge nodded, holding the tooth up before the ITD. After a moment, he handed it back to Alistaire, a glint of satisfaction in his eyes.

“Well, if I wasn’t sure before, the readings from this tooth confirm it,” he announced. “Whatever took Marti did come from that dimension.”

“What are you waiting for then?” Moira spoke up, her Scottish accent thickening somewhat in her anxiety. “Open the portal and let us through!”

“Erm,” Forge grimaced, “unfortunately, this device can only sustain an interdimensional portal for 7.86 seconds. I’m afraid that isn’t enough time to allow all of you to pass through before it closes-especially once we find Marta, Suzie, and Taube.”

“Then Alice and I will go,” Kurt stated firmly, looking around at his reluctant, though understanding, team. “And you too, Forge. 7.86 seconds should be enough time to allow six people through, and you’re the only one who knows how to operate that thing.”

Forge nodded, although it was obvious that he was slightly nervous. His place was normally behind the scenes, working in laboratories or operating the machinery while others did the actual adventuring. To his credit, though, when the need for risk taking did present itself, he was never one to shrink away.

“OK,” he said, tapping a long sequence of numbers into his device. Then he stood back as an intense ray of bright purple energy shot from the front of the machine, slicing through the air like a scalpel, then pulling the transparent edges apart, revealing an entirely different landscape on the other side. Excalibur gasped, but their shock only lasted a moment. There was very little time and still a great deal to say.

“Brian, contact M-6 and tell them what’s happened,” Kurt ordered, shouting to be heard over the sudden wind. “If we don’t come back-“

“You’re coming back,” Kitty insisted firmly, her short brown hair whipping all over her face. “Now get going! You only have a few seconds left!”

Forge and Alice were already standing in the portal, their expressions tense as Kurt took one last glance at his team, then spun on his heel, reaching out to squeeze his wife’s hand. Faces to the wind, the three of them strode through the portal together, vanishing from the crowded hallway with a sharp SHAZZP of crackling purple light.

*******

More of this story will also be coming relatively soon. Tammy and I have to work out a new writing schedule since school's eating up just about all my time and I can't stay up late anymore. There's a lot of weird and wonderful stuff planned for future chapters, though, so stay tuned! :D

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby HoodedMan » Tue Sep 06, 2005 1:38 pm

Ooh, wow. Full of suspense and intrigue; fabulous! I desperately await more; I want to know what happened! Interesting idea for the ITD device, though the difference in colours seemed a little coincidental. I'll love to see what's made of that. :x
ACHTUNG! Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sichtseeren keepen das cotten-pickenen hans in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das blinkenlichten.
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby CurlyyHairGirl » Tue Sep 06, 2005 10:24 pm

lets just say, if I had a hat, I would take it off in your presence. :hat:kiss
Need I say more?:smirk

I really want to know what's going to happen....I really love how there is 0% predictability with this story...it must be due to the fabulous Canada/US team up:wink

I need sugar *digs around in pockets for little crumbs and morsels until the last Russian Tea cake is discovered *_emo:oops:
one name: Bruce Campbell
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Wed Oct 12, 2005 2:37 am

Ta da!! Another update! Man, I am on a roll tonight!

Thanks for the awesomely fast reviews! You guys all rock, I hope you know that.

Unfortunately, it's now time for me to move on to homework. But I'll be back soon! Until then, here's Ch. 8. Hope you like it!!! :D



Chapter Eight

Marta rose slowly to bleary consciousness, only to find she had a splitting headache and a fat lip. Her tongue felt thick and fuzzy, and tasted like a sock that hadn’t been washed for a week, and her normally sharp eyes kept shifting in and out of focus.

Groaning softly, she tried to touch her tender jaw with her hand, but to her surprise her arm wouldn’t move. Something was restraining her…thick metal bands around her hands and feet, strapped across her waist….

“What the…?” she slurred groggily, pulling harder at her restraints. When they didn’t budge, she scrunched up her face, her muzzy brain slowly awakening to the reality of her situation.

She was strapped to a cold, metal slab, which was holding her up at an 80 degree angle. The chamber was cavernous and dark, but Marta could see just fine with her night-adapted green eyes. The vast room was filled with all manner of complicated-looking electronic equipment, and a number of cloudy mirrors lined the thick, stone walls. Scattered throughout the cluttered space were a number of spheres. Some were metal, some were glass, but all were highly polished and supported above the spotless stone floor by intricately wrought metallic rods.

“How in the world did I get here?” Marta wondered to herself, squinting her eyes in surprise as she caught sight of her blurry reflection in one of the cloudy gray mirrors. “Oh, this is ridiculous. I look like a prisoner in a James Bond movie."

Turning her head as far as it would go, she scanned the walls for any sign of a door. After a moment, she spotted one, her eyes drawn to the thin strip of light filtering in from the bottom. Focusing her concentration, she activated a teleport...

Only to scream in alarmed pain as a strong electrical current hit her, channeled through the metal straps encompassing her arms and legs. The last thing she heard before she passed out was a strange, snuffling, high-pitched laugh as the door she had been aiming for creaked open.

*******

“…in with the othersss, yesss. And ssso the mossst powerful of the bunch isss mine at lassst!”

The world was upside-down, and it was SWAYING back and forth, up and down, like a tiny boat in the middle of a storm. Feeling disoriented and somewhat sea-sick, Marta pried open her green eyes to come face to face with a shark’s fin, and below that, a thick, swaying gray tail poking out of a pair of garishly yellow shorts.

She was being carried over someone’s shoulder. Someone who had smooth gray skin and smelled faintly of dried seaweed. Marti wrinkled her nose, her own tail lurching somewhat in discomfort. Whoever this someone was, he had to be some kind of mutant. But why would he want to kidnap her?

“In ssshe goesss now---sss---“ the shark-man hissed. Marta recognized the same nasal voice that had been speaking when she first woke up. “Into the cage with the othersss---sss---like a good girl.”

“Good girl?” Marti mouthed to herself, the words incensing her even more than the slowly dawning understanding that she had been kidnapped. Instantly, she began to struggle, aiming to wrap her tail around her captor’s neck as she writhed, kicked, and punched at the creature’s thick, gray skin.

“Who are you calling a ‘good girl’?” she snapped, now using her tail as a whip as the creature held up his free arm to keep her away from his neck.

“Now now, teleporter-girl musssn’t be naughty,” the strange, shark-finned man grunted, his thin, sinewy arms grabbing a tight hold of her thrashing legs and tail. “In the cage---sss---you go!”

Marta instinctively tucked herself into a roll as her captor tossed her onto the rough, stone floor, hitting the ground and jumping back to her feet in one smooth, elegant movement just as her father had taught her. Unfortunately, the shark-creature seemed to be expecting something like that because his reaction time was remarkable. The iron-barred door to the cage had already been shut and locked in the few seconds it took Marta to charge at him. The creature laughed; the same snuffling, rusty laugh she had heard in that strange, cavernous room just before the shocking jolt of electricity had knocked her out.

“You don’t seriously think that you can keep me in here,” Marta scowled at him, clutching the bars so tightly her knuckles turned a pale blue.

“Oh, I do not think I can,” the shark-man hissed, his beady red eyes glittering with glee. “I know it! Hear me girl, and hear me---sss---well. I am Ssshagreen the Sssorcerer, and you are in my sssanctum now!”

Marta opened her mouth to make a sharp retort, but before she could speak, the self-proclaimed sorcerer lifted a long, metal staff from the floor where it had fallen during her struggle and tapped it three times on the ground. A moment later, the shark-creature was gone, vanished in a blinding swirl of golden-orange energy.

“Am I supposed to be impressed?” Marta called after him, even though she knew she more than likely wouldn’t be heard. Shaking her head in disgust, she focused her concentration on the open door at the far end of the incredibly long, tubular stone corridor and activated her power.

POOT!

"Excuse you," said a weary tenor voice from behind her.

Marta blinked, dizzy with disorientation as her nose filled with the stench of teleport smoke confined within too small a space. Swaying on her feet, she started to fall...

“Ooff!” grunted a small voice. She nearly jumped out of her fuzzy skin as she felt a tiny pair of three-fingered hands pressing against her lower back just above her tail, struggling to help her regain her balance. “Ooh, wow,” the piping voice sighed once she could stand on her own again. “You’re heavier than you look!”

“What the…” Marti started. Then she looked around, groaning with angry frustration as she realized where she was.

“It didn’t work!” she exclaimed, her tail lashing anxiously behind her. “I’m still in this cell!” A horrible chill ran up her spine and clutched at her stomach as a sudden, disturbing thought occurred to her. “That shark-thing must have done something to me with that electric shock! I can’t teleport!”

“Neither can I,” the tiny voice told her. “None of us can in here.”

Marta turned to face the speaker, her eyes widening as she came face to face--or rather, knee to face--with what looked to be a pint-sized version of her father, complete with his familiar red and black uniform. Casting her sharp gaze through the shadowy dimness of the cramped cell, she quickly noticed two other figures hunched against the stony walls. They both had her own dark, indigo coloring, which made it difficult even for her to make out their features with any clarity. The largest one had his knees pulled up to his chest, cradling a bulky bundle wrapped in what seemed to be a baggy, blue and green plaid button shirt, close in his arms. The second figure, and the hardest to make out, was standing in the far corner, all but invisible in the dimness.

Turning back to the tiny individual who had spoken, she said, “Excuse me, but what are you?”

The fuzzy little fellow grinned, his golden eyes crinkling slightly under his curly hair. “Why, I’m a Bamf!” he told her with a sweeping bow. “And what might you be?”

“My name’s Marta,” she told the Bamf, befuddlement warring with utter fascination in her glowing green eyes. “Marta Wagner.”

"You're a girl?" The tallest figure stood slightly unsteadily, gazing at her with golden eyes wide in chagrin and surprise. "I'm sorry, did you say you're name is Wagner?"

Marta stared at him, her stomach twisting uncomfortably at the sound of his all-too-familiar German accent. “Yes,” she nodded, her tail latching itself to her ankle. “Marta Wagner. And your name would be…Kurt?”

He nodded, biting his lip slightly. "But you're English."

“And you’re German,” she frowned, confused by his confusion. “What of it?”

Even in the darkness she could see his answering frown as he awkwardly shifted the bundle in his arms. "How did you know my name?"

Marta looked at him for a long moment, trying to imagine what his reaction might be if she told him the truth. Then she shrugged and said, “Call it a hunch. So, how long have you been here?”

"I don't know." He went gracefully to one knee and set the bundle down gently. "There's no way to tell." Then he gave a weary sigh and picked it up again as a thin wail came from the folds of the shirt. "I'm sorry, I was going to offer you a hand, but..." He looked down at the bundle and shrugged self-consciously.

Marti furrowed her brow. “A hand?” she repeated, uncomprehending. “A hand for what-oh!” Suddenly understanding dawned, and with it a sharp flash of annoyance.

“No, I don’t need any assistance, thank you very much,” she said primly. “That attempted teleport just made me a bit disoriented, that’s all. That and the fact that the magnetic fields around this place are completely off kilter. Do you have any idea where we are?”

"In the lair of a madman," said Kurt grimly, standing and absently rocking the small being in his arms. "A monster that experiments on little kids."

“Little kids?” Marta frowned, looking to the taller boy as if for permission before tentatively folding the crumpled shirt aside. A pair of big, golden eyes blinked up at her from the dimness, surrounded by an unruly mop of curly, indigo hair. Marta blinked in surprise, looking from the chubby-faced toddler to the teenaged Kurt, then back to the toddler.

“Mein Gott,” she breathed, unconsciously imitating her father’s characteristic German expressions as she always did when she was alarmed. “Are you saying that shark-creature has…” She trailed off, her green eyes wide as she swallowed. “What kind of a nutter is he? What’s he after? Surely a child as young as this can’t teleport.”

"He could," said the young Kurt grimly. "The Bamf says he used to be really proud of it." He pushed the shirt down further, exposing stitches on the pale, shaven skin of the child's pudgy tummy. "I guess this is what Sharkey's planning for us, too." His mouth twisted, showing a trace of her father's never-say-die humor. "It won't be as easy as he thinks."

The little one whimpered then, creasing his face fearfully and thrusting the tip of his tail into his mouth with one small, scarred hand. Kurt covered him again and held him close, murmuring soothingly in German.

Marta’s lips tightened and her eyes stung as the small boy’s action reminded her strongly of her little brother. Straightening her shoulders, she turned sharp eyes on the teenaged Kurt Wagner, determination etching her fuzzy face in firm lines.

“You’ve said it, mate,” she said. “That Shagreen whats-his-name is not going to turn me into a guinea pig! We need a plan. What’s this guy’s objective? Do you know?”

"He wants to bamf," the little Bamf piped up, throwing his arms out wide.

Kurt nodded, his thin face sharp with anger and concern. "Yeah. That's what he wants. You should hear him monologue about it."

“Phoneyboggie telling truth,” a dark, hissing voice slithered out from the shadows at the back of the cell. Marta gave a startled jump despite herself. She’d completely forgotten about the hunched figure in the corner. Kurt noticed, favoring her with a small, understanding smile.

“That’s a Boggie,” he whispered, clearly unwilling to annoy the strange, skinny creature. “He’s been in here longer than any of us.”

The Boggie stepped forward on long, spindly bow legs, his spaded tail twitching behind him in agitation. Like the others, he was covered in fuzzy, indigo fur, but he was dressed only in a ragged red loincloth and floppy red shoes. Marta’s eyes widened slightly as he raised an arm to clutch the bars, revealing a thin web of leathery skin stretching from his wrist to the bottom of his knobby ribcage. His pointed ears were almost comically overlarge, and his flat jaw jutted out under his broad, snub nose. A pair of pointed fangs stuck up from either side of his wide mouth. To Marta’s mind, he looked more like an undernourished gremlin than someone she could recognize as a relation.

“Nastyface Shagreen searches for the secret of the fastpoof power,” the spidery creature explained in his cryptic manner. “Thinks Phoneyboggies hold key. But old Sharpytooth not know where is key. So he cuts and pokes and hurts and shocks!”

He looked up at Marti then, his small yellow eyes narrowed into devious slits. “Now Nastyface catch girlie Phoneyboggy, he leave little cry-cry alone! Girlie Phoneyboggy holds great fastpoof powers. Nastyface very happy to have her, Nastyface very happy to have her, yes yes!”

Marta shivered slightly, thoroughly discomfited by the Boggie’s odd pronouncement.

“Well, that’s sealed it, then,” she stated, trying to sound braver than she felt. “If we know that Sharky bloke is after me, then we can figure out a way to get round him. Does he have any routines you’ve noticed, any particular habits?”

"He never puts that staff down," said Kurt, sinking down into a crouch and making absent shushing noises as the toddler gave another faint wail. "But other than that he seems to pop in at any time, usually just when we've finally passed out." He frowned, the lost, worried look on his face reminding Marta of her father when she or her younger siblings were hurt or sick. She could see his exhaustion from the pallor of his skin under the short fur and the huge dark marks under his glowing eyes.

"He's creepy!" The Bamf shuddered expressively. "He LIKES scaring people."

The Boggie scowled derisively. “Stupidbamf scares too easy. Boggies not like Nastyface, but Boggies not fear him. Give him power, that would. Boggies know better, yes. Boggies stay away, hide from Nastyface. Give him much trouble, yes!”

Marta tilted her head, an idea starting to form in her mind. “So, there are more of you?” she asked curiously. The Boggie rolled his eyes.

“What, Girlie think there’s only one?” he exclaimed. “How could this be? There are many, many Boggies. More than can be counted.”

“That’s interesting,” Marta said with a small, thoughtful smile. “Very interesting indeed.”

“Not as interesting as you might think,” the Bamf spoke up, crossing his arms with a pronounced pout. “Boggies can’t be trusted! Everybamf knows that!”

“Everybamf be stupid,” the Boggie retorted with a huff. The Bamf’s pout deepened into a glare.

“You better watch what you say about Bamfs,” the pint-sized ‘porter snapped, marching up to look the Boggie in the eye. Unfortunately, the little Bamf only came up to the creature’s chest.

The Boggie clamped a bony, three-fingered hand over the Bamf’s curly brow and unceremoniously pushed him over. “Boggie says what Boggie wants,” he snorted, stomping sullenly back to his corner and flopping down.

The Bamf stuck his tongue out at him, picking his tiny self off the floor and brushing the dirt from his clothes.

"Knock it off, you two," said Kurt wearily, his face creasing as though in pain as the toddler began to cry in earnest, weak sobs that barely shook his wrappings. "Not again. Please, don't cry. We're trying to think of something."

The little one's only reply was to hiccup and give a thin whimper of pain as the motion pulled at his stitches.

Kurt groaned and looked at Marta beseechingly. "Do you know what to do?"

“Boggie know how to handle cry-cry, yes,” the gruff, serpentine voice spoke up once more. “Phoneyboggie need only hand him over.”

Kurt sighed deeply. "No, you're not eating him," he said, rolling his eyes.

The Boggie shrugged his narrow shoulders, muttering darkly to himself under his breath. The Bamf shot him a disgusted look, then strode over to sit next to Kurt and the sniffling bundle. Marta watched them all for a moment, then turned her gaze to the long, tunnel-like corridor beyond the bars that held them captive.

“Stone walls do not a prison make,” she quoted softly to herself. “Nor iron bars a cage.…”

“What was that?” the Bamf asked, his head tilted slightly. Marta didn’t turn around.

“An old poem,” she told him. “It means that prison is only prison if you let it get to you. We’ve got to look at our situation as a challenge rather than an obstacle. That’s what Dad did back in the war.”

“The war?” Kurt frowned, looking up from where he was crouching with the toddler now on his lap. “What war?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know,” she said quickly. “It probably hasn’t happened yet where you live. But my Dad was a POW for three months before he was finally rescued, and he told me how important it was to never see yourself as a victim. The instant you start feeling sorry for yourself is the instant the enemy claims its victory. So, being stuck in this cage-it’s like a puzzle on a holographic game cube. A challenge, get it? And Sharky’s like the riddlemaster we’ve got to beat.”

"A challenge," muttered Kurt as the blue toddler continued to hiccup and whimper between sobs. "Yeah, that's what I'd call this. Please, stop crying. I've got you and I won't let anyone hurt you."

Marta looked over to where the boy was crouching, cradling the toddler so protectively in his arms. The dimness of the cell and Kurt’s own visible exhaustion made his narrow face seem older than his years. For a moment, Marta could almost imagine that it was her own father sitting there, lulling Edmund to sleep as he prepared to tell her and Suzie a bedtime story, just as he’d done every night when the three of them were small. A powerful wave of homesickness rushed through her, and she had to turn away, unwilling to let this teenaged version of Kurt Wagner see the tears in her eyes. For all her talk of challenges and obstacles, Marta had never felt smaller or more helpless in her life. Always before, she could count of her father’s protection to get her out of scrapes. He had allowed her the freedom to explore, to experiment, but in the end he had always been there to draw the line when it came to matters of safety.

Only hours before she had viewed her father’s protective streak as constraining. But here, now, watching Kurt soothe and comfort that poor, tortured child despite his own exhaustion and fear, Marta was beginning to see her father in a different light. Listening to the boy speak, she knew he wasn’t just muttering empty words of comfort. He would fight to the death to protect that child-to protect any wounded soul who couldn’t defend itself. And in that moment, Marta understood. Kurt had taken this role upon himself. No one had asked him to watch over that child. He hadn’t waited to be told what to do. Yet something in his nature had prompted him to offer whatever help he could, and now he was carrying out that responsibility with all the love and dedication his tired mind could muster. Professor Xavier hadn’t made her father a superhero. He had always been one, in his heart. All the Professor had done was opened his eyes to a broader world that was desperately in need of his protection.

“Marta?” the Bamf’s small voice inquired, breaking into her thoughts. “Are you all right?”

She straightened, shooting the tiny creature a quick smile as she said, “Yes, of course. I was just thinking.”

The Bamf nodded, folding his thick hands behind his curly head as he slid his back further down the wall. “OK,” he yawned. “Hey, I don’t know about all of you, but this little Bamf’s about ready for bed. The sooner I get to sleep, the sooner my breakfast comes!”

“Breakfast?” Marta frowned. “What about dinner? Or have you already eaten?”

“No, we don’t get dinner here,” he sighed sadly. “Sharky only lets us have one meal a day--some kind of thick vitamin gruel. It tastes like sawdust and looks like mashed slugs. But what’s even worse is the awful Boggie who delivers it.”

Marti nearly laughed at the expression that crossed his little face when he mentioned the Boggie. “Why?” she asked.

“Because he’s mean!” the Bamf explained, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “That blasted Boggie always slurps up half of my gruel before he hands it to me, saying I’m too small to need so much food.” He scowled, shooting a deadly glare towards the Boggie in the corner, who seemed to have already fallen asleep. “It’s like I said: Boggies can’t be trusted.”

Marta raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned her back against the bars. “And how does our Boggie get on with the one who delivers the gruel?” she asked curiously.

The Bamf shrugged. “Eh, they’re Boggies,” he said dismissively. “They just blather their stupid Boggie talk at each other. I don’t really pay attention.” He yawned again, squinting up his eyes with the power of it. “But I’ve talked enough now,” he mumbled sleepily, stretching out on the stone floor. “Good night, Marti. Good night, Kurti.”

“Night,” Kurt said distractedly, still rocking the whimpering toddler on his knee. Marta watched him for a moment, feeling strangely awkward, then took a tentative step closer, crouching down and holding out her arms.

“May I?” she asked. He looked up at her with red-rimmed golden eyes, gratitude etched on every feature.

“Sure,” he said, tenderly transferring the bundle onto her lap. The toddler gave a brief whine of discomfort, then snuggled into her arms, too exhausted to protest the changeover. Marta smiled in surprise as the sleepy child began to suck his tail, then looked up to see Kurt grinning back at her. “You’ve got a knack,” he said stroking the boy’s silky curls before leaning back against the wall with an exhausted sigh.

“Thanks.” Marta blushed, careful not to jostle the toddler too much as she scooted back to sit beside him. “So do you.”

Kurt shrugged, his heavy eyelids already starting to droop. “He’s a sweet kid,” he said. “He doesn’t deserve this.”

Marta nodded. “None of us do,” she asserted. “That’s why I’ve come up with a plan.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow. “Already? That was quick.”

“Well, we’ve yet to see if it’ll work,” she said with a small smile. “But I think it’s got a chance. Remember what the Boggie said? About how his people hide from Sharky?”

“Vaguely,” Kurt yawned. “What about it?”

Marta leaned in closer, lowering her voice to just below a whisper. She knew Kurt’s sensitive ears would catch every word.

“Well I was thinking, if we could somehow convince the Boggies it’s in their best interest to help us, maybe we could hide with them until we figure out a way to get back to our homes.”

He wrinkled his nose and looked up, his eyes meeting hers with a strange, rueful, knowing, look that faded back quickly to punishing weariness before he turned away. "It sounds crazy, but..."

Marta tilted her head at his odd expression, suddenly worried. “But what?” she asked. “You haven’t already tried it, have you?”

He didn't reply. Marta blinked in surprise, poking his shoulder with a tentative finger.

“Kurt?” she asked. When he didn’t move, she realized his exhaustion must have finally caught up with him. If he was anything like her father, the poor boy probably hadn’t slept in days, opting instead to keep watch over his smaller companions. Well, tonight Marta could take his place as lookout. Kurt had earned his rest.

With the toddler sleeping safely in her arms and the slow, regular sounds of slumber filling her pointed ears, Marta wrapped her tail around her knees and softly began to hum. It was a very old song, an English tune her father had sung to her when she was a baby. She couldn’t remember the words, but the melody was soothing and it helped to clear her head, allowing her to focus her concentration as she ran her plan through her mind, coming at it from every angle to weed out the flaws.

And so she passed the long, dark night, carrying out the responsibilities she had assumed with all the dedication and love her anxious heart could muster.



To be continued..... Stay tuned!!! :D

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby CurlyyHairGirl » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:24 am

Gosh, it's so great to read this after doing homework, though my eye's have just about had it.;)

I really like the incorporation of the Bamf and the Boggies into this story, very cute and imaginative. I was beggining to wonder what happened to the poor dear teen Kurt. Poor guy, a responsibility like that at his age has got to be tough, for Marti as well.

I'm really interested in where you are going with this. I have heard of Shagreen, and know what he looks like, but I have never actuall read too much on him to know what his personality is like and such, so this is cool to me.

I can't wait to find out she will convince the Boggies to help them out of the mess they're in!

Love to all!

~Eryn
one name: Bruce Campbell
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:25 am

:D :D

Thanks! It was my idea to include the Bamf and the Boggies. This whole story was inspired by the 4-issue Nightcrawler mini-series from the ‘80s. I REALLY love that story! Kurt gets to fight pirates and rescue princesses and get attacked by a horde of female Bamfs…….

As for where this story is going, though, while Tammy and I do have a loose outline we’re mostly making it up as we go. This approach admittedly leads to some…unevenness…in the story’s flow, but it’s really fun to play with!!! ;)

And now, here’s:


Chapter Nine


She'd lost her.

The Raumfee blinked away tears as she fell, oblivious to the wind that pulled at her manes and the short white gown she'd wakened in, her whole mind caught up in the sorrow of knowing that another child had been lost to her family as she herself had been so long ago.

Then a cry reached her, and she flicked her ears toward it, head lifting as her eyes widened. "Suzie??"

The girl twisted in the air, her young face pale but set as she called out again, her arms spread in a helpless attempt to slow her fall.

The Raumfee's heart nearly leapt out of her chest and she spread her wings with an instinctive snap, wincing as long unused muscles protested the move. Gritting her teeth, she glided for a few feet, then attempted a flap that put her into a spin. Riding the momentum, she spiraled upward and snatched the blue-haired child, pressing her securly to her chest as she flapped again. This time she stayed steady, moving forward. "Gott, helfen Sie ons."

“You said it, ‘Taube,” Suzie gasped, squirming in the Raumfee’s arms until she had arranged herself into a less suffocating position. Once she could, she turned her head to look down, grimacing when all she could see below them was a seemingly endless expanse of blue sky and white clouds.

“So,” she said with false lightness, pulling her arm in closer to her so it wasn’t so uncomfortably close to the woman’s chest. “Have you any idea where we are?”

The Raumfee shook her head, eyes scanning the sky above them as her ears searched for sounds. "No. But I can hear leaves moving somewhere up there."

Suzie tilted her head, straining to hear. After a long moment, she gave up with a shrug, glancing at the Raumfee’s long ears. “Hey, whatever you say. Any sign of Marti or whoever took her?”

The Raumfee glanced down at her, soft grey eyes dark with sadness. "No." Then she wobbled slightly and grimaced, face taking on an expression of intense concentration as she began to rise toward the sound of wind sighing through large fronds.

Suzie frowned as they moved through the cool dew of the clouds, her golden eyes widening slightly as beyond the hazy mist, something huge and dark began to come into view.

“What is that?” she asked, apprehension faintly coloring her voice as she pointed to the quickly growing shadow. “If I didn’t know any better I’d say it looked like some kind of floating island!”

"You don't know better, Kleines," said the Raumfee softly, gritting her teeth as she pushed her weary body toward the land. "That's what that is."

Suzie shot 'Taube a dark scowl at being called “little,” but kept her mouth shut, choosing instead to watch the island slowly come into focus as they left the clouds behind.

“Strike the light,” she said in amazement as they drew level with it. “It’s like the Bahamas! And look there-those whitish birds, do you see? Are those really dodos?”

"I...don't know what 'dodos' are," gasped the Raumfee, her vision blurring as she fought to keep her flight steady. "Hold on! We're coming in!"

Ears back in concentration, she slowed and put down her legs, aiming for a long stretch of white sand. In the split instant before her feet touched she realized that she hadn't cut her speed enough. She had just time enough to enfold Suzie in her wings before her toes caught in the sand and sent her somersaulting through the undergrowth, scattering big stupid birds and leaves in all directions.

She came to rest on her back, staring dazedly into the leaf canopy and spitting out sand and stones, her wings still wrapped securly around the frail body of the girl child as she fought for conciousness. "Gotta...eat...."

“Oi!” Suzie’s muffled voice exclaimed from within the protective cocoon of her wings. “Don’t pass out! Let me go! It’s stifling in here!” She squirmed plaintively, pressing against the thick, leathery skin and the strong arms that were keeping her entrapped. “Come on, ‘Taube, open up! I can’t breathe!”

The Raumfee gasped and threw her wings wide, then whimpered faintly as the trees above her seemed to take a sickening slow spin.

******

Suzie rolled off her to flop onto the hot sand, gulping in the warm air like a diver who had just been saved from drowning. Once she’d recovered her breath, she opened her eyes, squinting painfully against the bright sunlight. Quickly, she turned her head, only to come face to face with the most shockingly enormous arthropod she had ever seen. For a brief, terrible moment, she thought it was a monstrous black spider, but then she saw the claws. Her blood ran cold and her lower lip trembled as she stared at the gigantic creature in horror, unable to move. The massive crab was two feet long if it was an inch, and from where she was lying, its thick, black claws seemed powerful enough to crush her skull. As she watched, it raised its left claw, the one closest to 'Taube’s head....

“’Taube look out!” Suzie shrieked, her voice sounding unnaturally high as she scrambled backwards on all fours. “There’s a-a-a crab, a huge, black crab…it’s right next to you!”

The crab seemed to look straight at the terrified girl, then took a few scuttling steps towards her. Suzie let out a shrill scream worthy of Eliza, but at the moment she was too distraught to care.

“YYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!” she shrieked, crawling around in the sand until 'Taube’s prone body was between her and the crab. “Get it away from me! Get it AWAY!!!”

'Taube's ears flicked toward her, then the weary woman lifted her head and looked at the monster. Before Suzie had time to even gasp one dove grey hand had lashed out and seized the creature by the face, wrenching it off. As the startled girl watched in numb shock her rescuer tore the shell from the crab and proceeded to greedily eat the greasy meat underneath. To Suzie’s mind, it was like watching a giant bat slurp goo from a multi-legged bowling ball.

“Eeewww,” she shuddered, swallowing hard against her rising revulsion as the thick liquid dribbled down 'Taube's chin. “So I’m guessing that’s one of those crawlers you mentioned, right?” When the winged woman didn’t answer, she turned away, focusing instead on the small flock of chubby white dodos meandering awkwardly across the sand. “Just don’t eat the dodos, OK?” she said. “I really don’t think I could take that. Besides, on my world they’re extinct. Eating one would be, like, a crime or something.”

Behind her 'Taube gave a sudden gasp, and she turned quickly to see the woman sitting up, eyes shut as her forehead rested on one clenched fist.

“Hey, are you OK?” she asked in sudden concern, cautiously approaching her on the side that wasn’t holding the limp remains of the enormous crab. “You’re not going to be sick or anything, are you?”

"Frag...." 'Taube blinked and twitched her ears. "Headrush."

Suzie nodded her understanding, but she was still concerned. The winged woman was looking pretty ragged. She had clearly overextended herself flying to this island.

“All right,” Suzie said, slapping her hands together and turning around in a full circle to scope out their surroundings. “If you ask me, the first thing we’ve got to do is figure out where we are. This island doesn’t look too big. I could do some scouting if you need time to rest.”

'Taube lifted her head and shook it, her eyes looking brighter as she lifted one of the crab pinchers and bit through it as though the thick chitin were a fortune cookie. "No, I'll be okay in a few units. I was just weak from the Sleep."

Suzie raised an azure eyebrow as she watched her companion chew the hard, shiny shell, deeply impressed by the strength of her jaws. “Well, I suppose you would know best,” she said with a shrug. Just out of curiosity, though…how long is a unit?”

'Taube's ears flicked toward her and a humorous light suddenly appeared in her blank grey eyes. "You don't know either?"

Suzie squinted up her eyes at her. “Of course I don’t,” she said. “Why would I?”

'Taube moved her wings slightly in an exotic shrug. "It was always humans that said that to me. I never did figure out those stupid readouts, though."

Suzie gave her a blank stare of complete incomprehension, then decided it would probably be easier on all concerned to change the subject rather than ask for clarification.

“So,” she said, scanning the sand for any more of those mammoth crabs before sitting down. The blazing sun was beating down on her back, which made her somewhat nervous. Her fair skin burned very easily. “How’s this place compare to your home? You said you used to live in a desert, I believe?”

"Die Wüste." 'Taube set down the other claw and the crab's legs, then tented herself in her wings. Suzie heard the sound of fabric ripping. "Dieses is geen Wüste. It's a garden." The wings swept back, revealing the fact that the white hospital gown had been transformed into a loincloth and halter.

Suzie nodded her approval. Hospital gowns were never flattering, even in the best of circumstances. But it was her companion’s words that really caught her attention.

“A garden?” she repeated, glancing around at the sparsely scattered palm trees shooting up through the blinding, white sand and the scruffy, spiny brush that grew underneath. “Okay…”

Just then, she noticed a dark speck in the distance. It seemed to be moving toward them, hopping and weaving through the wavering heat like a giant sand flea.

“Hey, ‘Taube,” she said, pointing towards the slowly growing figure. “What do you suppose that is?”

'Taube turned to look over her shoulder, face expressionless as she pricked her ears. "A little blue man with arm wings and a big brown bottle in his hand. He's singing about drunken sailors."

She reached down absently and picked up the other crabclaw, biting into it and sucking out the meat. "He just jumped into the bushes." One eyebrow lifted. "Now he's drinking out of the bottle. I don't think we have to worry about him." She hopped up on her feet and crouched in a way reminiscent of Suzie's father and elder sister, wrapping her tail around her waist like a short grey hula skirt as she looked down at the blue haired girl sternly. "Why did you follow me?"

Suzie regarded her from under her azure fringe. “What do you mean ‘why’?” she retorted. “That’s my sister who got kidnapped. What, did you think I’d just sit around the manor wringing my hands while I waited for my parents to come to the rescue?” She snorted. “No thank you. Besides, you just woke up from a coma. I figured if after all you’ve been through you were still willing to risk your neck for Marti, the least I could do was go with you.”

"And now your mutter and vader have lost two Töchter!" snapped 'Taube. "And Ich moet Sie schützen!" She turned away, her voice going low and flat. "You're a ongedierte!"

“You what?” Suzie demanded, straightening her back with a flash of angry golden eyes. Although the last term ‘Taube had used was unfamiliar, Suzie could tell from the way she’d said it that it definitely wasn’t a compliment.

"You are a pain in the sitter!" hissed 'Taube. "A glitch!"

Suzie stiffened, her hands clenching into tight fists as she glared at the gray woman in speechless fury. Her outrage at having this stranger, this outsider, insult her like that was so overwhelming it made her tremble all over, like a rocket preparing to launch. Marta was her sister, her family, quite possibly her closest friend. It was her right to have a hand in rescuing her from whatever it was that had snatched her away, no matter what her parents, Excalibur, or anyone else might say. It wasn’t as if she were a child, after all! The last thing she needed was the protection of a wounded alien who could barely speak English!

Grinding her teeth, Suzie activated her shapeshifting power, growing several feet in a matter of moments until she towered over the winged woman, her pale face a mask of barely contained fury.

“Say that again,” she thundered darkly, her voice having grown along with her body. “Go on, I dare you!”

'Taube didn't even look up. There was a barely perceptable quiver in the manes that went along her shoulders, a slight shudder to the wings that lay on the sand to either side of her, but no other sign that she'd even heard the angry words.

"I went through a Himmeltür once," she said softly. "It was only a shiny place in the sky. I never saw my family again. I've been shipping through the space lanes since then. Now more little blue girls have gone through, and I couldn't stop it. Will they see their family again, Gott? Bitte...."

She lifted her face then, turning tear-filled eyes skyward. "Breng Sie ihnen nach Hause!!"

It was a cry of anguish, but before Suzie could respond something leapt from the bushes and latched onto 'Taube's wing like some sort of twisted blue vampire bat.

Shrinking quickly back to her usual size, Suzie ran at the creature with a flying tackle, knocking it to the hot sand and pinning it hard with both knees on its arms and her hands at the creature’s throat. The winged creature’s bottle was flung into the air, spilling out what little remained of its contents as it spun.

“Boggie’s booze!" the drunken creature wailed, his golden eyes tearing as he watched the bottle vanish over the edge of the island. “Boggie’s booze be gone…all gone!”

Suzie rolled her eyes, wrinkling her nose at the stink of the skinny creature’s sour breath. “Who are you?” she demanded sharply, focusing her most intense glare on the Boggie’s unfocused eyes. “Why did you attack my friend?”

“What girlie say?” the Boggie gurgled hoarsely.

Suzie sighed and loosened her grip on his neck.

“Look,” she scowled, getting right in the Boggie’s bewildered face. “I’m just going to ask you one more time, got it?” She waited for the Boggie to nod, then bared her teeth, her golden eyes glowing with a light of their own. To her immense satisfaction, the creature cringed at the sight.

“Why did you try to hurt my friend?” she growled, trying to make her childish voice sound as threatening as possible.

The Boggie squeaked in drunken terror, then vanished out from under her in a cloud of choking smoke. Suzie coughed and sputtered, falling on her face in the sand only to scramble to her feet a moment later, her blue hair gritty and her eyes blazing.

“All right, where are you, you little blue git!” she roared, scanning the sparse underbrush for any sign of him. “Don’t think you’ll get away with this!”

Then she spotted him, tottering behind ‘Taube with a strange, toothy grin splitting his blunt, indigo features.

“Oi, ‘Taube!” Suzie shouted. “Look out behind you!”

The winged woman glanced back, then bounded to her feet and slapped the odd creature away, knocking him flying, then lifting her hand and sending a roaring stream of flame in his wake.

The boggie gave a startled yelp and tumbled sideways, then righted himself and glided away, squeaking under his breath as he went.

Suzie saw 'Taube's ears suddenly snap forward, then she felt herself seized and born abruptly aloft.

“Hey!” she exclaimed, startled by the sudden transition and deeply mortified by the indignity of being carried. “What do you think you’re doing?”

"That thing was said that it had to go feed the blues,” 'Taube's eyes nearly glowed. "I think he's going to Marti."


:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:29 am

Attention Artists!!!!

Tammy has issued a challenge! She would really like a drawing of her character Felsentaube. The winner of the challenge will get a little, hand-crafted Bamf doll which Tammy herself is making. If anyone is interested in taking up this challenge, please post your reply and your entry here.

Thank you very much! :D

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Sun May 21, 2006 3:13 pm

Chapter Ten

Marta was looking up at the barred square of light in the doorway when the Bamf woke up and came over to crouch in front of her, looking curiously at Kurt.

"He's lying awful still."

"That's because he's asleep," Marta told him, unable to suppress a tiny smirk.

"Still?" The tiny blue being's forehead creased in concern. "But he went to sleep when I did, didn't he?"

Marta shook her head, amused. “That doesn’t mean he has to wake up at the exact same time as you,” she said. “Give the poor guy a break. This is the first time he’s had a full night’s sleep in days.”

The Bamf blinked at her, but then he shrugged and stood to look at the toddler, who was whimpering faintly in his sleep as tears trickled through the fur of his cheeks. "He sure cries a lot."

“With good reason.” Marta sighed, gently wiping away the tears before they could dry into his short, velvety fur. Then, she looked up.

“Say, Bamf,” she said. “At just what time does that Boggie arrive with our food?”

"Soon," he said absently, still regarding the child in her lap. "Is he a baby or something? You and Kurti treat him like one."

Marti frowned. “You mean, you don’t know? I thought he was here before Kurt arrived.”

"Yeah, but he crawled around on the walls and laughed a lot before. Acted just like a proper Bamf." The Bamf frowned. "Now he acts like a baby Bamf, but he's too big."

“Well, he is a baby, but he’s not a Bamf,” Marti said. “He looks like he’s about three years old. But you’re right, if he were healthy he would be a lot more active. He’s been hurt pretty badly, though.” She tilted her head in curiosity, a question suddenly occurring to her. “Do you know this child’s name?” she asked.

The Bamf nodded. "Yup, he said it's Crawler."

Marta gave a slight smile, but it was tinged with sadness. “Figures,” she said.

The Bamf looked up at her with one eyebrow quirked in a very familiar way, then looked over his shoulder as a crash echoed down the hallway. "Um, I don't think we're getting breakfast today."

“Was that the Boggie, then?” Marta asked, sitting up straight even as Crawler snapped awake at the sudden noise. Marta hefted the toddler up with a grunt and rose to her feet, striding across the cell to peer through the bars. “I can’t see anything.”

"He's drunk." The Bamf sighed soulfully and turned away, hands in pockets. "That means he either ate everything, or just forgot to get it in the first place.”

“Drunken Boggie a disgrace,” a cold voice growled from the shadows at the back of the cage. “A shame to all Boggies, yes. Serve Nastyface Shagreen like a slave, he does, all for the love of his bottle.”

The frowning Boggie wrinkled his blunt nose, then turned away to scowl at the damp stones of the cell wall. Marta shared a look with the Bamf.

“You know,” she said thoughtfully, “if you’re right, there might be a way to use his condition to our advantage. For instance, he might be more pliable to suggestion if we were to promise him a bottle or two if he let us out of this cage.”

She waggled her eyebrows at the Bamf over the top of Crawler’s curly head, her green eyes bright. “What do you think? You seem to know him pretty well.”

The Bamf gave her the kind of look Suzie got from their parents when they heard her curse. "Bamfs don't know Boggies, Marti." Then rubbed his chin. "But that might work!"

Marti grinned, but before she could say anything a clanking, rumbling sound filled the stony space. A moment later, the drunken Boggie appeared in the doorway, pushing a dented, rust-spotted metal trolley before him. Five shallow, metal bowls were crammed together on the tray on its top, their thin, grainy contents sloshing sloppily over their sides. The swaying creature came to a stop just outside their cage, then hiccupped twice before speaking.

"Phonyboggies hungry?" He leaned to one side, then squinted up at Marta with one eye. "Eat lots, get fat...." He trailed off into chortles, then coughed and looked up with sudden bleary alarm, seeming to not notice the child in her arms. "Where cry-cry? Meanie Boggie eat??"

Marta looked down at Crawler, then quirked an eyebrow at the Boggie, only to step back from the bars as he staggered forward and caught at her trouser leg. "Fireyboggie cry! Want little blue girls to go home! Minion bring little blue girl to Fireyboggie so she cry no more, yes! Then tail no get fireypoof again."

The little Bamf frowned at the babbling Boggie with a look of deepest disdain. “What is he talking about?” he said, squinting at the creature as though he were a curiosity in a museum. Marta shrugged, her expression nearing pity as she watched the drunken Boggie rant.

“I doubt even he knows,” she commented. Gently placing Crawler beside the still slumbering Kurt, Marti strode up to the bars, looked the bleary Boggie straight in the eye, and smiled.

“Hi, there,” she said to him, speaking as clearly and as kindly as she could. “So you must be the head Boggie around here, right?”

The Boggie gaped at her, then blinked. "Minion bring little blue girl to Fireyboggie! No more fireypoof, yes!"

“Okay,” she said slowly, shaking her head in complete incomprehension. Looking over to the other Boggie skulking in the shadows she asked, “Do you know anything about this Fieryboggie he’s talking about?”

The Boggie crossed his long arms with a grunt. “Nope, nope!” he scowled. “Drunken Boggie is a know-nothing. Drank away all his brains!”

"He had brains?" The Bamf's question was delivered with wide, innocent eyes.

"Ohhh, what's going on?" came a groggy voice from behind Marti, followed by a panicked, "Hey!"

“What?” she frowned, suddenly concerned as she turned to face the just awakening Kurt. “What’s wrong?”

"I thought he wasn't breathing." He drew up his knees and laid his face briefly against the corner of one arm before tenderly holding the sleeping Crawler close.

“But he’s OK?” Marta asked. Kurt nodded.

“Ja. Ja, he’s fine. Sorry. What were you saying?” Marta frowned slightly at the slight tremor in his voice, realizing he’d really had a shock, but the sleeping toddler did seem to be all right. After a moment, her expression softened and she tilted her head towards the drunken Boggie in the hall. He was still muttering to himself about the Fieryboggie even though his attention had turned to their breakfast trays.

“I was just wondering if he’s always like that,” she said with a bit of a smirk. “Do you know anything about this ‘Fieryboggie’ of his?”

"He's never said anything about it before." Kurt groaned and came to stand next to her, grinning over Crawler's head at the Bamf as the tiny creature gave his leg a quick, impulsive glomp. "Wow, he's really wasted."

Marti raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, tell me about it!” she said. “He’s been blathering like this since he arrived, saying he wanted to take me to that Fieryboggie thing. I don’t know what—“

“Wait,” Kurt interrupted, his golden eyes brightening with sudden inspiration. “Maybe we can use this!”

“How?” the Bamf asked, his shadowy little face a study in skepticism.

"If he's going to take Marti somewhere he has to open the door, right?" Kurt lowered his voice, grinning a grin that made Marta feel homesick for her father and his pranks.

The Bamf grinned back, his big eyes suddenly dancing. "And he's dumb enough to do it, too."

“Yes!” Marta exclaimed—a bit too loudly. The drunken Boggie gave a start and stumbled into his cart, nearly tipping its contents out on the stone floor. Moaning, he held his head in both hands, then turned bloodshot golden eyes on the caged group.

Kurt gave Marti a nudge with his tail. Catching on at once, she bent down to the swaying Boggie’s eye level, waiting until he’d focused on her.

“Hallo again,” she said to him. “I couldn’t help noticing…your tail looks pretty singed. Does it hurt much?”

The Boggie turned a bleary look on his sore tail, wincing when he tried to touch the slightly blistered spade. Marti tried her best to appear sympathetic.

"What did that Fieryboggie burn you for, anyway?" She cocked her head, then settled back on her haunches. "I could help you with that, but I'd have to be out of this cage."

The drunken Boggie looked up at that, but his expression soon fell. “Ah, but blue girl be Nastyface’s prize. She cannot be let out, nope! Sharky will come with his staff—he will, he will! And then he will blame the Boggies.”

“Where are the other Boggies?” Marta asked curiously. “If you let me out, maybe we could all hide from Sharky together, yes?”

The inebriated Boggie tilted his head, apparently considering her suggestion. Slowly, a sly grin began to creep over his dark features and he staggered forward, pressing his face against the bars. Marta wrinkled her nose at the sour smell of stale alcohol that literally rolled off the skeletal creature.

“Boggies hide in lookyglass, live in backward side.” He nodded slowly to himself, a look of smug satisfaction crossing his blunt face.

“Joke on Nastyface, yes,” he smirked. “He catch Boggies, but no know it, no. Lookyglass good hide-hole, but now Boggies want home, yes, yes! If Shagreen catch, Boggies in big trouble, yes. But if Fieryboggie come looking for blue girl…”

He trailed off, his brow furrowed as he leaned limply against the bars, his tail twitching wildly behind him. After a long moment, he broke out a fit of sudden snickers, covering his mouth with both hands. Then, he nodded, as if coming to a final decision. “Blue girl will come with Boggie, yes. Come to lookyglass.”

"Boggies trade with Fieryboggie," came the sudden hiss of the Boggie in the cage, so close to them that the Bamf yelped and jumped up to cling to the bars of the door. "Fieryboggie must free Boggies if she wants blue girlie, yes!"

The drunken Boggie's grin vanished in a sudden snarl of hatred. "Meanieboggie not understand!” he growled. “Boggies can't keep blue girl. Fireyboggie strong! Yes!”

"Drunkenboggie shut up. Does what I say, yes." The Boggie in the cage crossed his arms over his chest with a superior smirk.

"No!" The protest sounded hopeless, and Marta noticed the glimmer of tears on the jailor's dark features as he shivered and turned hastily away. "Fieryboggie fierypoof! Meanieboggie be sorry."

"Um, so are you letting us out or not?" The Bamf climbed higher on the door, poking his face through the bars.

The drunken Boggie shot the Bamf a sulky glance over his shoulder—which quickly turned into a glare when he noticed the other Boggie was still smirking at him.

“Nope, nope, nope!” he scowled, crossing his arms over his skinny chest. “Stupid Bamf will stay with Meanieboggie. Not be welcome in Boggies’ lookyglass, no!”

Marta and Kurt shared a look that bordered on amusement, then watched as the diminutive Boggie unhooked the heavy key ring from a peg on the wall. Muttering darkly to himself the whole time, the Boggie tried four keys before he finally found the right one. Even then, his inebriated condition caused him to miss the keyhole at least a half-dozen times before he was able to slip the key into the lock and slide open the heavy, iron-barred door.

"Are you going to leave me behind?" The Bamf turned tragic eyes toward Marta, who was hard pressed to hold back a smirk.

“The door’s open,” she said, gesturing with her tail. “Are you going to stand there?”

The Bamf tilted his head. “Oh,” he said. “Well, when you put it like that…”

"No no no no!" said the drunken Boggie, scowling horrendously. "NO BAMF!"

Sauntering up behind the irate Boggie, Kurt shifted Crawler so he could bend down enough to speak in the creature’s bat-like ear. "She won't come without him, you know," he said quietly. “And don’t forget—if you leave him behind, he’ll be sure to tell Sharky where you’ve gone. I mean, have you ever heard of a Bamf who could keep his mouth shut?”

The Boggie blinked, then sighed and slumped. "Minion never gets to make the rules," he muttered wearily. "Everybody come! Hurry, hurry!"

Kurt shot a triumphant grin over his shoulder, his eyes meeting Marta's as he gripped Crawler close to his chest and shifted his weight in preparation for a sprint. Marta grinned back, struck once again by how much his smile reminded her of her father. At the same time, however, she was somewhat surprised to realize that as much as she wished her father was with her, a part of her was actually glad he wasn’t. For the first time in her life, Marta was on her own, experiencing an adventure that could easily rival anything Excalibur had been through. For all her fear and uncertainty, she couldn’t deny that it felt good to rely on her own wits and judgment for a change—especially now that they had gotten them all out of that cell!

“Come along,” she called to the tiny Bamf as they started off down the long corridor. “Quickly!”

Gathering his courage, the Bamf hopped down from his perch on the door and sprinted after the group as quickly as his little legs could carry him.

The drunken Boggie led them through the labyrinthine corridors of Shagreen’s fortress until they reached a long, cavernous room lined with rows of mirrors. Marta gasped in instant recognition.

“This is the room where I first woke up!” she whispered, afraid Shagreen might hear her echoing voice if she spoke too loudly.

“Yes, yes,” the drunken Boggie hissed, rubbing his bony hands together. “Boggies hide right under Nastyface’s nose! And still he no find us! Quick, now. All go into lookyglass. Fast, fast!”

“But how?” Kurt frowned, walking up to the closest mirror and reaching around Crawler to press a hand against the smooth surface. “It's solid.”

The drunken Boggie looked startled and even a little frightened, but his scowling counterpart just puffed out his cheeks, pushing Kurt aside in his exasperation.

“Stupid,” he snapped at the teenager. “Phoneyboggie no can open lookyglass! Only true Boggies can get through, yes! Follow Boggie, you will see!”

As they all watched, the scowling Boggie pressed his own bony fingers against the glass. Within moments, the glass began to ripple, shimmering like a pool of mercury. Shooting a sneer over his shoulder, the Boggie strode straight through the mirror, then held out a beckoning hand to the others. The drunken Boggie hopped in first, hugely relieved to find the doorway beyond the mirror wasn’t really closed. The Bamf followed next, tentatively poking at the rippling glass with a thick finger, then diving through head-first. Soon, only Marta and Kurt were left. There was an awkward moment as they both stood before the portal, unsure as to who should go first.

“You go—“ they both started simultaneously, then broke off into a short, self-conscious giggle.

“You should go first,” Kurt said after a moment. “After all, you are a girl.”

Marta rolled her eyes. “No, you go,” she said. “You’ve got Crawler.”

“But I--

"No,” Marta insisted, giving him a slight shove. “Go on."

He frowned at her.

"Go on!" she scowled, her tail lashing behind her.

To her surprise he grinned at that, that cheeky, boyish grin that never failed to make the female members of Excalibur sigh in either exasperation or admiration.

"You know,” he told her, “I pity the dope that tries messing with you."

Marta blinked as he turned and bounded through the glass, then, shooting a wary glance over her shoulder, she followed him in.

There was a last ripple in the surface of the glass, then Shagreen's lab stood empty once more.

To Be Continued…

Please Review!


:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Sun Sep 03, 2006 1:29 am

Hi Everyone!

Just so you know, the following chapter is the last complete chapter Tammy and I have to offer at the moment. Unfortunately, I'm not sure when Ch. 12 might be ready to post. The fault lies entirely on my side--since getting sick I've been so swamped with work and schoolwork that I haven't had a chance to get together with Tammy since the beginning of the year. Now, with the new school year starting, things aren't looking any better. So, I guess until I get all my work and health issues straightened out, this story is going to have to be on a temporary hiatus. I'm really sorry about this, but I hope you like Chapter 11!


Chapter 11

"Whoa, what was that?" Suzie nearly gave herself whiplash as she caught sight of something out of the corner of her eye.

"Draak." The steady beat of 'Taube's wings continued. Suzie tried to make a half-turn, hoping to catch a better glimpse of the enormous flying lizard as it vanished back into the clouds, but ‘Taube’s arms tightened around her, making it impossible to move.

“’Taube, I can’t breathe!” she grunted, squirming uncomfortably. “Are we almost there? Where’d that nasty little blue drunk get to anyway?”

"This way." The grey woman loosened her grip slightly. "Hold still, you'll knock me off course."

Suzie muttered something dark and unintelligible under her breath, but stopped her struggling nonetheless. Finding Marta was more important than her discomfort. Sighing, she turned her gaze down to the clouds passing below, only to snap her head up again as a nauseating wave of vertigo swept over her. Tilting her head slightly, she focused her attention instead on ‘Taube’s powerful wings, feeling the pull of the air as they beat up and down. This close to them, Suzie could see tiny scales glittering like pearls all along the underside of the skin and was suddenly reminded of the dragon that had just passed them by.

At that moment, Suzie felt a sudden dip leave her stomach dashing to catch up. Looking back towards the horizon, she could now see the vague shape of a tall, craggy tower fading slowly into view.

“Hey,” she exclaimed, twisting her head around in a futile attempt to catch a glimpse of her friend’s face. “Is that it?”

'Taube grunted, her arms loosening further so that Suzie grabbed onto them for fear of falling. Looking up again, she could see the winged woman's expression intensify as she narrowed her pale eyes and pointed her ears toward the approaching island. "I can't hear Marti, but I see another blau thing."

Suzie squinted against the bright sun, trying to follow ‘Taube’s focused gaze. The warm wind was whipping her loose hair all around her face, making it that much harder to see.

“Is it the blighter we’re after?” she asked, sick of the chase and itching to confront the ugly critter on solid ground.

"Don't sound like him." 'Taube suddenly stilled her wings, her face creasing slightly in concentration. "Don't move. Or we're spacejunk."

Suzie scowled, but before she had a chance to comply her entire body stiffened in alarm, her face freezing into a rictus grin of nervous terror. "Uh, 'Taube,” she said through unmoving lips, “you need to slow down more. That tower's coming up pretty fast."

"Trying." 'Taube's forehead creased uncharacteristically, then her eyes went wide and she twisted, wrapping Suzie in her wings. The girl’s startled squawk was drowned out as one of her own favorite off-color words burst from 'Taube. Pressing her chin to her chest, the Raumfee curled into a protective ball, slamming shoulder-first into the tower wall.

There was a jarring, shuddering impact followed by a deep, rumbling blackness. The air was choked with the dust of crushed and broken stone, and bits of rubble continued to tumble down onto ‘Taube’s back several minutes after they had come to a full stop.

“’Taube?” Suzie’s shaky voice muffled after a long, anxious pause. “’Taube, are you all right?”

"Yeah," came the equally muffled reply as the wings surrounding Suzie flexed, 'Taube's shoulder tensing against the back of the girl's head. "Sorry for...smothering? You."

“Smothering me?” Suzie repeated incredulously, frightened and frustrated and struggling in vain to beat her way free of the uncomfortable cocoon of ‘Taube’s wings. “Smothering me? Is that it? How about saying you’re sorry for nearly killing me! You’re 0 for 2 when it comes to landings, ‘Taube, just in case you’d lost count, and we’re still no closer to finding Marti than we were before! Now let me out of here!”

“Just hold on,” replied ‘Taube, completely unfazed by Suzie’s outburst. “Junk's still falling. Be still, and let me get out.”

Suzie let out a furious squeal, but although her squirming stopped, her mouth kept going.

“Do you even know where we are?” she demanded, covering up her growing anxiety with anger. Suzie hated feeling trapped. She liked to be in control, to be the one manipulating events. Lying wrapped up and helpless in the arms of a stranger so strong she could break through walls of solid stone without getting so much as a scratch was nearly enough to send her into a full-fledged tantrum of pure, seething frustration. Ever since she’d stepped through that portal, events had been spinning completely out of her hands. She needed something concrete to focus on, a clue of some sort--and soon. Unfortunately, they’d lost track of their only lead when that drunken creature had flown away!

Her rambling thoughts were interrupted when she felt 'Taube suddenly go tense. Sucking in a huge breath, the winged woman surged upward, throwing her arms and wings wide and sending chunks of stone flying in all directions.

"When did I nearly kill you?" 'Taube looked down inquiringly, absently scratching her belly as she cocked her ears toward Suzie.

Suzie just stared up at ‘Taube through slowly settling dust, completely flabbergasted. The worst of it was, the winged woman was serious. Giving it up as hopeless, she took a deep breath and let it out very slowly.

“Forget it,” she said tersely. “Just forget it. So, can you tell where we are yet, or are there any more walls you have to pulverize?” She frowned, brushing her fingers through her dusty, tousled hair as she turned her gaze to take in their new surroundings.

The two of them were standing in the corner of a vast, cavernous room. Its stone walls were lined with large, intricately carved mirrors and strange-looking technical equipment hulked eerily in the shadows.

“What is this place?” Suzie said in amazement, her oddly subdued voice echoing slightly in the dimness. “It looks like Frankenstein’s lab! Or it would if Frankenstein was a twisted alien with an ego the size of Samuel’s big, stupid head. I mean, have you ever seen so many mirrors in one place?”

"No," said 'Taube absently, perking her ears toward a doorway and moving so that she stood between it and the blue-haired girl.

“Yeah, neither have I.” Suzie walked over to the nearest mirror, examining the elaborate frame from all angles. “It looks to be made of copper, I think,” she said. “In any case, it seems really old. And here’s one that looks like silver…”

Suzie approached the gleaming mirror, only to jump back in alarm when she saw a strange, goblin-like face leering back at her through the glass. It was gone almost the moment she saw it—it could have been a trick of the light. But despite the dimness and the dust, Suzie knew that image had been real.

“You know,” she said, slowly backing closer to ‘Taube. “I’m getting the strangest feeling these mirrors aren’t just for show. This place is really starting to weird me out.”

“Sss-spies!”

Suzie yelped in surprise at the unfamiliar hiss. Spinning in place, she was just in time to see a lean, sinewy creature—half-shark, half-man—aiming a glowing staff straight at her head. Acting purely on instinct, the young shapeshifter shrank to half her normal size, diving behind a shadowed terminal as 'Taube bounded forward, batting the scaly creature aside with a powerful wing. As she did, a crackling zap of concentrated, orange energy spat from the end of the monster’s staff, leaving a sizzling scorch mark on the ceiling where it hit. Suzie blinked, suddenly realizing that—if not for ‘Taube’s quick intervention—that smoking scar would have been her.

“Taube,” she said breathlessly, resuming her usual height as she climbed slowly to her feet. “What was that thing?”

Before the Raumfee could answer, however, a sharp, electrical SHAZZP sounded to their right, opposite the wall of mirrors. As they stared, the shark-like creature leapt out from a burst of swirling, orange light.

“Thing?!” he shouted, his glowing staff ringed with shimmering bolts of orange energy. “Thing!! I’ll teach you the price-sss of your disssressspect, child! I am Sssshagreen the Ssssorcerer, and you are tressspassserss—sss—in my cassstle!”

"Where is Marti??" 'Taube bounded forward again, only to give a hiss of frustration as Shagreen turned and dove through another portal, which closed before she could reach it.

“Is he going to do that every time we ask a question?” Suzie frowned. “And what’s with that lisp? What kind of whacked-out madhouse have we landed in?”

'Taube held up one frail-looking hand for silence, her ears slowly sweeping the room like narrow radar receivers as her grey eyes went unfocused and intent. Then, she whirled and bounded toward one of the mirrors, her fist lashing out just as Shagreen's portal opened and he leapt through. The sorcerer yelped as that fist cracked into his jaw, staggering backward, but clinging grimly to his staff.

Taking advantage of Shagreen’s momentary disorientation, Suzie crept up behind him, planning to make a grab for his staff. She froze in mid-motion, however, when her sharp eyes picked up a strange glimmer at the edge of field of vision. Slipping back into the shadows behind the nearest terminal, she watched as the glass of the silver mirror began to ripple, shimmering like a liquid prism. Strange, undefined shadows took shape just beyond it, growing larger and clearer until—

“Shmoley hokes!” Suzie choked out, her jaw dropping despite herself. A small, indigo head had just popped through the rippling mirror. Suzie recognized it at once as belonging to the drunken creature she and ‘Taube had been tracking. The head glanced around the room, only to yelp and pull itself back into the mirror as ‘Taube tossed Shagreen into the wall. The bruised sorcerer snarled and staggered back to his feet, lowering his head to ram the Raumfee in the gut. Rather than dodge the blow, ‘Taube just stood there with her hands on her hips, easily absorbing the impact. Shagreen, however, was clearly seeing stars. He swayed drunkenly, then collapsed to the floor, unconscious.

Suzie crept over and nudged him in the side with her shoe, just to make sure he wasn’t faking. Then she rushed over to ‘Taube.

“’Taube,” she exclaimed, nearly breathless with excitement. “I know where that thing we’ve been tracking is hiding! He’s in that mirror, right over there! While you were fighting, the glass went all wibbly and—“

“Look,” ‘Taube interrupted, pointing to the mirror in question with one twig-slender finger. Suzie turned, then gasped, raising a hand to her mouth at the sight that met her golden eyes.

The mirror was wibbling in earnest now, rippling and quivering like mercury-colored gelatin. As ‘Taube and Suzie watched, first one Boggie, then another, then another and another pushed their way through, gathering in small clusters on the dusty stone floor. Suzie counted forty, fifty, fifty-five, and still they kept coming, hopping down from the mirror in a steady stream.

Suzie was just starting to get bored when something new began to push through the quivering glass, catching the girl in mid-yawn. It was much larger than the Boggies. Inching closer to ‘Taube, the blue haired girl took up a defensive stance, staring with wide eyes as the dark, silhouetted shape thrust itself through the mirror to land in the midst of the huddled Boggies.

“MARTI!!” Suzie shrieked. The depth of her joy at seeing her sister safe startled even her as she tackled Marti with a flying hug, sending the alarmed Boggies scattering for cover as the sisters tumbled to the floor in a muddle of confused emotions.

“Suzie--what--!” Marta exclaimed, wincing as she reached behind her to rub her bruised tail. “What are you doing here?”

“I followed you through the portal, of course,” Suzie told her, still grinning as she released her sister to sit back on her folded legs. “’Taube and I tracked you here no problem.”

Marta straightened with a jolt. “Are you mad?” she snapped, her sister’s flippantly spoken words suddenly filling her with an irrational fury. “Have you lost your mind completely? What is the matter with you?!!”

“Hey!” Suzie glared, hurt and thoroughly insulted by her sister’s tone. “I came to save you! Where do you come off calling me mad? I would have thought you’d be glad of the favor!”

“You could have been killed, you little twit!” Marta exclaimed, her hands trembling with terrified fury at the very thought. “Don’t you understand that? What were you thinking, jumping through that portal on your own? Why didn’t you call for Mum and Dad?”

“For one thing, I didn’t come on my own,” Suzie snapped. “I brought ’Taube with me, see?” She pointed to the winged woman, who was watching the girls argue with her head tilted in concerned curiosity. “And for another, you said yourself it’s no good running after Mum and Dad whenever a crisis comes up. I’m not a baby, after all—I know how to take care of myself!”

“You’re twelve years old!” Marta yelled, trying to get through to her. “You’re not old enough or mature enough to take on a rescue mission by yourself!”

“Oh, and you are?!” Suzie retorted shrilly. “You took us all searching for aliens in the middle of the bloody forest without going to Mum and Dad first! How is this any different?”

“It’s entirely different!” Marta started; only to trail off when the hollowness of her retort began to hit her. She had felt so self-righteous when her parents had confronted her over her choice to undertake a mission of her own. She had been so sure that she was in the right, that her parents’ anger had been unwarranted and unjust. Now, looking into her sister’s fierce, stubborn eyes, the truth finally hit her. Her parents hadn’t purposefully been holding her back, as she’d believed. Their anger had been fueled by love, just the same as her anger with Suzie for risking her life to come after her.

Marta sighed, letting her chin drop to her chest and her eyes to the rubble-strewn floor.

“Suzie…” she said, after a long, tense moment.

“Yeah, what,” Suzie grumped, folding her arms with a slitted, golden glare.

“Thank you. It’s just…you had me so scared for a moment there…”

Suzie furrowed her pale brow, not quite understanding. But before she could say anything, she became aware of a presence at her shoulder. Looking up, she received yet another shock when she glimpsed the fuzzy, indigo features of what looked to be an impossibly young version of—

“Dad?” Suzie raised herself up until she was standing on tip-toe, the top of her head just reaching the boy’s chin. In his arms was a warmly wrapped bundle. Suzie frowned. “What the… Marti, who the heck is this? And why does he look like Dad?”

Kurt and Marti shared a look over Suzie’s shoulder. “My name is Kurt Wagner, if that helps any,” he offered. “But I don’t think I’m your father. I’m from another dimension.” He smiled. “So, you are Marta’s sister? It is a pleasure to meet you.”

Suzie shrugged, her sharp eyes still scrutinizing his face. “Thanks,” she said. “What’s that you’re holding?”

The light faded from Kurt’s golden eyes and he sighed. “This is Crawler,” he said, turning back the cloth of the jacket so she could see the sleeping child’s indigo face. “He’s been a prisoner here for a long time, and he’s very sick. We’re trying to find a way to bring him home. And the rest of us as well, of course.”

“The rest of us?” Suzie repeated, peering around the crowded room for the first time since she’d spotted her sister. The mirror had stopped its wibbling, but not before it had released the Bamf and about a hundred more Boggies. The trashed lab was swarming with them. Boggies hung from the ceiling like bats, crouched atop shattered consoles, argued and chattered in hunched, suspicious groups. Suzie stared. “Oh…my…God. You mean…we have to help all these whatzis?”

“They’re Boggies,” Marta told her. “And no, they live here. They’ve been helping us hide since we broke out of Shagreen’s prison.”

“Shagreen?” Suzie repeated, glancing over to where a group of snickering Boggies were bouncing on the shark-man’s unconscious body as though he were a trampoline. “You mean that fishy sorcerer thing?” She barked a short laugh. “Ha! He’s nothing. You should have seen ’Taube take him on. There was no contest!”

Kurt pursed his lips and held Crawler close, trying hard not to take offense to Suzie’s glib dismissal of the monster that had harmed the child, and the rest of his prisoners, so cruely. Seeing his discomfort, Marti started to say something, but she stopped when she saw the Bamf striding up to them.

“Hey, fellas,” he said, “when are we gonna get out of this dump? All these Boggies are giving me the willies something fierce.”

“Oh, wicked!” Suzie grinned, crouching down to the little Bamf’s eye level. “It’s a mini Dad!” Then she frowned and looked back up at Kurt and Crawler, then around at all the Boggies, the gears in her brain starting to click into place. “Hey, wait a minute…”

“Sharky only kidnaps teleporters,” Kurt explained, his voice still tightly controlled as he started picking his way through the irritated Boggies towards the dented and up-turned consoles that littered the cavernous room. “He’s trying to figure out how our powers work.”

“That’s right,” the little Bamf agreed. “He wants to be a teleporter too!”

Suzie made a face. “Why?” she asked. "There are way cooler powers than teleporting.”

“You mean like shapeshifting?” Marti smirked. Suzie shrugged.

“Well, if you want a for instance, then sure.”

“Drat it!” Kurt exclaimed loudly, causing all heads to turn to him as all noise but the echoes died down.

“What’s wrong?” asked Marta, leaping nimbly over to him and peering over his shoulder.

“This machine looks like it was the one Sharky used to open portals,” the teenager frowned, “but look at it! He and your friend ’Taube over there must have plowed right into it. The thing is totally trashed!”
“Then what are we supposed to do?” the Bamf piped up from where he’d squeezed in between them. “How are we supposed to get home?”

Marti, Suzie, and Kurt shared a deeply uncomfortable look. At that moment, however, a low rumbling vibrated their feet, followed shortly by several gruff, strangely accented voices.

“The Pirateses!” the little drunken Boggie shouted, causing the others to take up the cry. “The Pirateses have come! Scatter, run, run!”

“You wait,” ’Taube frowned, grabbing the spidery creature by the nape of the neck and lifting him to her eye level. The rest of the Boggies were dashing through the mirror, which was rippling even more powerfully than before. “Why do you run? You talked with Pirates before.”

“The Pirateses…they trade with Sharky, yes,” the frantic Boggie squeaked, his spindly arms, legs, and tail flailing as he struggled vainly against the Raumfee’s steely grip. “Trade many good things. Booze and…and booze! But very wild, they are. Very cruel. They shoot at poor Boggies for sport, yes, yes! Calls us batses!” He spat. “Boggie hateses Pirates, yes!”

“Wait--are you saying you work for this Shagreen thing?” Suzie frowned in disgust. “What are you, some kind of brainless minion or what?”

The Boggie sniffed most pathetically. “Minion, I am,” he said. “Brainless, stupid, always with a bad, bad aching head! But Boggie stays alive, yes? Boggie breatheses!”

“But you’re a traitor!” Suzie exclaimed. “This Sharky has your people held prisoner, and you help him?”

The drunken Boggie glared at the girl through bloodshot, yellow eyes, snapping and hissing. But Suzie just shook her head.

“Well, what’s the plan?” she asked, turning back to Marti and Kurt. “We can’t just stand here!”

“If the Minion’s right, those Pirates are probably heading this way,” the Bamf added with a dark, pointed look at the dangling Boggie.

“We could go back through the mirror,” Kurt suggested, looking down at the squirming Crawler in his arms. “Maybe then, we could—“

“No time,” ’Taube announced, her sharp eyes turned to the door. The sound of heavy boots and raucous laughter was echoing down the corridor, growing closer by the second. “They’re already here.”




To Be Continued.....although it might take a while.....

Please Review! :D

:bamf

[Edited on 3/9/06 by Rowena]
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Fri May 07, 2010 2:32 am

This story hasn't been updated in ages and ages and I'm quite ashamed of that. But I have a goal before I go to Scotland this fall, and that goal is to finally finish all my unfinished Nightcrawler stories...and maybe even write up a few new ones that have been burning holes in the back of my mind for far too long. Nightcrawler may be "dead" in Earth 616, but that doesn't mean he's dead everywhere else. The Omniverse is a big place, and Nightcrawler's just fine in Earth 723. Maybe I'm in denial. Maybe somewhere out there Malicious Marvel is laughing as I get myself lost somewhere among the first four of the seven stages of grief. I don't care. If they won't provide me with new Nightcrawler adventures to buy and enjoy, I'll just have to write more of them myself. I just hope you'll like them too. Anyway, here's the extremely long overdue:

Chapter Twelve

“OK, so the Boggies have officially deserted us,” Suzie said, frowning as the silvery mirror on the wall stopped its rippling. “And those pirates are practically at the door. What are we going to do?”

Marta glanced at her sister, then turned to the wiry little Boggie struggling against ’Taube’s iron grip.

“Yeah, how about it,” she said. “What’s the quickest way out of here?”

“Why ask me?” the dangling Boggie huffed. “I’m a traitor, yess? A minion!”

"Oh, ignore him," Suzie scowled. "'Taube, can you get us out?"

The winged woman's ears were perked toward the sounds of the incoming men as she looked around at the assembled children, then toward the creature in her grasp. "Ve surrender."

“Yeah, that’s right! We—hang on…” Suzie blinked, then blinked again, her jaw dropping in disbelief as her brain processed ’Taube’s words. “No, no wait. ’Taube, what do you mean, ‘we surrender?’”

“She means, we surrender,” Marta repeated, though her words were aimed not so much at her sister as at the rugged troupe of pirates glaring at them from the doorway. Giving Suzie a pointed nudge, she slowly raised her arms in what she hoped was an omniversal gesture of surrender. Suzie clenched her jaw in fury, but imitated her sister's action. Kurt clutched Crawler closer to his chest, watching anxiously as the little Bamf mimicked the two girls. Even the minion, still dangling from 'Taube's hand, attempted his own trembling gesture of supplication. The Raumfee looked at them again, then calmly lifted her own hands, her regal bearing and fearless demeanor making the pirates blink and hesitate.

"Ve're yer prisoners," she said quietly, ears going back slightly as she lowered her head and folded her wings against her back to make herself look less intimidating.

“All right, all right, get back you slugs!” a gruff voice snarled from further down the hallway. “Lemme through!”

The motley bunch clogging the doorway crushed back against the wall to make way for surly newcomer. He was thick and broad and dressed in a style that could have been called extravagant if not for the obvious signs of wear. His red coat was fraying around the collar and several gold buttons were missing from the front. His cravat was stained, and his smart, black trousers were patched at the knee. The finger of one glove was missing, revealing a dirty, yellowed nail, and his high, leather boots were scuffed and sagging. His posture, however, was as proud as the purple feather that graced his sweeping hat, and his grin was startlingly white against his dark brown beard.

“Ah!” he exclaimed, striding into the room with all the confidence of uncontested ownership. “I see ol’ Sharky’s been busy with his infernal machines. Right then, you lot, speak up. I want to know who you are and where you’re from, and I don’t want to hear no mumblin’. Got that!”

“Why should you care who we are?” Suzie snapped, pushing Marta’s hand away before she could clamp it over Suzie’s mouth. The pirate leered.

“Spirited, eh? Well, my little blue-haired spitfire, it just so happens I don’t care. But them folks what own the cloud mines—now they do care. They like to know where their workforce is comin’ from. That way they knows how hard they can work ’em, and how many days they can go without food. The less they’ve got to feed ’em, the more they’re willin’ to pay.”

“But—but that’s slavery!” Marta exclaimed, outraged.

“That’s business,” the pirate snapped back. “So, who’s to be first?”

“How about you?” Suzie said, her golden eyes sharp and far from intimidated. “What are we supposed to call you?”

The pirate beamed his blinding grin. “I like this one!” he laughed to his crew. “Reminds me of me, when I was but a nipper. Issues with authority, they’d say. Well, guess what.”

He leaned in close, forcing Suzie to wrinkle her nose at the smell of old rum and stale sweat that rolled off him, intensifying the threat in his stormy blue eyes. “I am the authority now. An’ if you’ve got issues with that…”

He trailed off, sauntering backwards with a dark smile and an even darker laugh. “…you might not even make it to the mines! Them businessmen don’t pay extra for spirit, you know! Easier to jus’ run you through right here, nice and clean.”

“What, you’d kill a girl?” Suzie scoffed. Marta tried again to hold her back, but she shook her off. “Oh, come on, he’s all talk,” she protested.

“An’ ignorant to boot,” the bearded pirate sneered. “It’s easy to be brave when you don’t know what it is you’re up against. Listen close then, girlie, before you think to open your mouth again.”

Beckoning to his crew, he waited for them to form a line then strode grandly from one end to the other.

“My name,” he proclaimed, “is Captain Barbacoa Morgan. An’ this here’s my fearsome crew. Radley!”

A tall, sinewy man with a patchy black beard raised his hat. “Aye!”

“Obadiah!”

“Aye!” called a broad-chested man with dark skin and a curling mustache.

“Cruikshank!”

This man was painfully slender with impossibly large eyes. He raised his floppy hat to reveal a snarled mop of startlingly red hair. “Aye!”

“Buckler!”

In reflection of his name, Buckler’s wide torso was girded with a thick, black belt, the buckle of which was at least as large as his hand. “Aye, Cap’n,” he rumbled.

“Nigel an’ Fleckspotter!” Captain Morgan called next.

A pair of identical twins raised their hats as one.

“Rupert!”

A short, older man with coarse, graying hair glanced at the prisoners with a nod of his head. “Aye.”

“An’ last but not least,” the Captain beamed, “we come to the ladies. Meet Dorothea McCoy an’ my lovely sister, Estrella. Her tongue’s as quick as her sword, an’ doubly as sharp.”

“Watch it, you,” Estrella glared, stepping up to give him a shove. “You may be the Captain of this sorry lot, but you ain’t never been the boss of me. We didn’t come here to parley with the merchandise, so quit wastin’ everyone’s time. Someone get these kids and that—“ she glanced up at the Raumfee, only to quickly avert her eyes. “Jus’ tie 'em up! Where’s that fish-faced sorcerer?”

The Captain rolled his eyes and gave Kurt a nudge, startling him. “See what I mean?” he grumbled.

“Oi! Cap’n!” It was Nigel. The Captain looked annoyed.

“What is it, you skinny rat,” he snapped, stomping to his side. Nigel swallowed and shared a look with his twin.

“It’s the s-sorcerer, C-Cap’n. Sir,” Fleckspotter stammered. “He’s c-covered in…in l-little s-scratches. L-like the p-p-pricks of a thousand li-little c-claws.”

“It’s the winged demons’ work, Cap’n,” Nigel asserted nervously. “Tis said they live in the walls and come out at night to feast on the flesh of the unwary sleeper.”

“Uh huh.” Captain Morgan crossed his arms. “And you lazy morons think they’ve had a go at ol’ Shark-face, then, eh?”

The twins shared a look. “W-w-w-well,” Fleckspotter tried. The Captain glared.

“When will you get it through your thick, superstitious skulls!” he roared. The twins cringed. “There ain’t no demons. There never was any demons! There’s only Boggies. Nasty, ugly blue rats with wings, dumber even than you sorry sacks of meat! Now do as Estrella said and get on with the tyin’ up. NOW! As for the rest of you lousy picaroons,” he snapped, turning his blazing glare from the shuddering twins to the remainder of his crew, “Grab those prisoners and follow me! We sail for the cloud mines at the wind’s turn!”

To Be Continued...

Next time...Nightcrawler and his team arrive on the scene. Will he be in time to save his daughters from the clutches of the wicked slaver pirates? I don't know yet. Tune in to find out! :)

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Unexpected Angels (still in progress!)

Postby Rowena » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:00 am

(...continued from Chapter Six...)

Chapter Thirteen

Scott, Toad, and Wolverine popped into existence at the craggy edge of a ruined wall. Wolverine appeared in mid-roar, his face coated in a thick glob of Toad's slime. Taking advantage of his captor's momentary blindness, Toad bit down hard on Wolverine's hand, wriggling for all he was worth. Wolverine roared even louder and loosed his hold on Toad's leg, using both hands to tear the rapidly crusting Toad booger from his eyes. Once he could see, Wolverine extended his metal claws with a fierce SNIKT and pounced on the hapless Toad, pinning him to the uneven ground, the tips of his sharp, gleaming claws pressing against the teen's neck. The terrified Toad didn't even dare to swallow.

" Logan , no! Don't…huh?" Scott interrupted his own warning, looking around at their new surroundings in surprise. "What— Where the heck are we? And what are those…things?"

Wolverine growled low, glaring his fiercest glare at the cringing Toad, then retracted his claws and looked around. Toad whimpered and slid his back up against what remained of the wall.

They seemed to have appeared in the remains of what had once been a pretty high-tech alien-looking lab. Fancy equipment was scattered to the four corners, and the whole place was crawling with hundreds of lanky little blue creatures with leathery, bat-like wings. They were bouncing on the ruined consoles and flapping around the room, pulling wires and pipes from the walls and ceilings and laughing at the sparks. Every few seconds, another blue creature would pop out of what appeared to be a large mirror hanging on the wall and join the others in their madcap dance of destruction.

"Never seen nothin' like this before," Wolverine grunted.

"Wh-wh-where are we, yo?" Toad stammered, using the wall to slide himself to his feet. "What did you fools do?"

"Hey, watch who you're calling a fool," Scott said, bringing a hand to his ruby quartz shades.

Before Toad could respond, a strange crackling noise met their ears. The disoriented group turned their heads just in time to see the empty space some seven feet away rip wide open and three tall figures come dashing through: two men and a woman. The tear glowed bright violet for a moment, then snapped closed with a strange, sizzling, electrical sound. SHAZZP!

"What the—" Toad started, but Scott shushed him. Wolverine ground his teeth and crouched low, observing the newcomers like a wolf observes a deer. The newcomers, for their part, were too preoccupied with their own problems to notice them.

"7.86 seconds exactly," one of the men said, staring down at the blinking device in his hand. The woman and the man who had spoken both had copper skin and black hair. The remaining man was hard to see. He seemed to fade into the shadows. Wolverine squinted and focused in on him, not quite believing what his senses were telling him.

"So, where are Marti and Suzie?" the woman asked nervously. "And where are we?"

The man who'd spoken before waved a boxy-looking device around. "I'm scanning for them now," he said. "It'll be easier to find them if Marta's activated her power here. Like I said before, that dimension she and your husband teleport through is a known constant. But even if she hasn't 'ported I should still be able to trace them by their dimensional signature."

"How long, Forge?" the other man demanded, stepping out of the shadows. Scott and Todd both gasped in surprise when they recognized his German accent and long, spaded tail.

"But that's—" Scott started.

"Yo, what's happened to Fuzzboy?" Todd spoke over him. "The dude like disappears for a few hours an' suddenly he's all grown up? That ain't right, yo." He frowned suddenly as a disturbing thought occurred to him. "Hey, that's not gonna happen to us, is it? I'm not ready for adult court!"

Wolverine growled at the sallow-faced teen, then stood up and strode over to the newcomers. The man who looked like their missing friend noticed him first, and his golden eyes widened with surprise.

" Logan !" he exclaimed. "But what are you doing here, mein Freund? Or is it you?"

"Yeah, 's me," Wolverine grunted. "But what about you? Scent's right, but the look's all wrong."

"What do you mean?" the German asked.

"The Crawler I know's just a kid," he said. "Forge too." He turned his flinty eyes on the tall inventor, then shifted them to the woman. "But I don't know you."

" Alice," she said impatiently, taking her husband's hand. "Alice Wagner."

Wolverine raised his eyebrows and shot Nightcrawler a little smile. "Not bad, Elf."

Scott marched over to them, Todd hopping close behind. "Excuse me," he said, "but can any one of you explain to me just what exactly is going on here?"

Forge stared. "Scott? Scott Summers? No way! You look just like you did when I first met you, like thirty years ago!"

"Thirty years?" Scott started, but Forge was walking around him in a full circle, his little ITD device flashing orange and yellow.

"This is fantastic!" the inventor said. "You guys—all of you—you're all from another dimension too! That is, a dimension separate from this one and the one that we come from. Here, stand still for a second and let me get a few readings—"

"Forge!" Alice practically screamed. "We don't have time for this!"

Forge jumped a little, but had the good grace to look sheepish. "Oh, right, sorry. Um, resuming scan for Marta's dimensional signature."

Wolverine frowned. "So, who's this Marta you're searchin' for?"

"Marta is our daughter," Nightcrawler told him. "We are actually searching for our two daughters, Marta and Suzie. They, along with an alien woman we rescued from a crash, were kidnapped and pulled into this dimension by a shark-like creature."

"We're missin' someone too," Wolverine told him. "Our 'Crawler vanished earlier this morning. Abducted through some orange portal. Think the same creature coulda pulled both jobs?"

"Anything is possible. But I am curious. How did you come to be here, in this dimension?"

"Not a clue, bub," Wolverine grunted.

Todd, who'd been crouching by the wall, now stood up and said, "It was totally weird, yo! Like, one minute we're all in ol'Baldy's study an' this psychopath's comin' down on me like I'm some fresh piece of meat for, like, no reason, yo."

Wolverine growled. Toad cringed.

"Well, you were!" he said. "An' next thing we know, pop! Here we are. Stuck in this crater with all them weird bat things."

"Bat things?" Alice frowned, looking beyond their small group and noticing the swarms of dark blue Boggies flapping and jumping around the room behind them. As she watched, three more Boggies emerged from the mirror and immediately joined in the fracas, helping the others to tear the room apart. "What in the world…!" she gasped.

"What are they?" Kurt asked curiously, moving to stand beside his wife.

One of the nearest creatures looked up at him and hissed. "What," he repeated mockingly. "What are they, the Phoneyboggie says! Not who. No, no! Boggies are a 'what'!"

"They can talk!" Alice exclaimed. The Boggie shot her a seething glare.

Kurt blinked in surprise. "I apologize," he told the Boggie. "I didn't mean to offend you."

"And yet, offense is taken, yes!" the Boggie hissed. Then, his expression turned sly. "But, perhaps, Phonieboggie could make it up to us, yes? Perhaps, he could tell us of the Fieryboggie! If she has yet pummeled the nasty Pirateses?"

Quite a crowd of Boggies had gathered around them by this point, and more were joining them every second. Alice and Kurt moved a little closer together, trying to avoid all the flapping wings.

"Fieryboggie! Yes!" the Boggies cheered. "Fieryboggie beat old Sharpytooth. Took him away on the Pirateses ship! Set the Boggies free! Free! Free! Free! Free!"

"Er, Forge," Kurt said, trying to back himself and Alice away from the thick of the crowd. "Have you gotten a reading on Marti yet?"

One of the Boggies paused his flapping and hopping and squinted up at Kurt. "Phoneyboggie knows the blue girlie?" he asked.

"Girlie Phoneyboggie!" another, younger Boggie cried. "Girlie Phoneyboggie fights Sharky. Hid in the mirror-place. Helps the Fieryboggie!"

The other Boggies cheered. Alice looked up at Kurt, her eyes wide with hope. "They must mean Marti!" she said. "I just hope she and Suzie are together. Please," she addressed the Boggies, "do you know where the blue girlie is right now? Can you take us to her?"

"Left with the Pirateses, yes!" a Boggie to their right said. "On their way to the cloud mines. Many Boggies there, working all the time for no food, for no drink. It is a bad place, yes, yes!"

"Fieryboggie will not work for miner men and Pirateses," another Boggie said loyally. "Fieryboggie will smash the Pirateses. Free the worker-Boggies, yes!"

"Can you take us to see this Fieryboggie, then?" Kurt asked. "Please, it's very important."

"Why?" a particularly wizened old Boggie demanded. "Why should Boggies aid a Phoneyboggie?"

"Because we could help your Fieryboggie free your people," Kurt said.

"And Boggies should believe you, why?"

"Well," Kurt glanced at Alice . "Because where we come from, it's our job to help those who are suffering—like your people."

"That's right," Alice said. "But we'll only help if you take us to Marti. The blue girlie."

The Boggies began to hiss and whisper, and for a moment Kurt and Alice were afraid they would refuse. But then the flapping swarm began to rise into the air, circling the room like bats until they were all out the window and in the open sky.

"Phoneyboggie follow!" they shouted down.

"But how?" Kurt asked. "Is there a ship we could use, or—"

"Phoneyboggies use the fastpoof power! Follow Boggies, quickly!"

"Fastpoof power?" Alice questioned. "Does…could he mean teleportation?"

"Kurt, Alice !" Forge exclaimed, rushing over to them with his eyes alight. "I've locked on to Marti's signature. I have her coordinates right here!"

The Wagners breathed a sigh of relief. "Very good," Kurt said. "Can that device display a map to show us where Marta is?"

Forge winced. "Not as such. But I can tell you the approximate distance and direction. With your special perception, it should be enough."

Nightcrawler shot him a look. "We'll have to hope so," he said dryly. "Or we may find ourselves plummeting through the sky, or materialized inside a rock!"

"Hurry, hurry!" the Boggies shouted. "Phoneyboggie too slow!"

"I cannot teleport everyone," Kurt said. "So I will take Forge and Logan —if that is acceptable to you."

Logan grunted. Alice bit her lip as if she wanted to protest, but she nodded her understanding. "Right, then," she said. "I'll stay here with the boys."

"Hey, I ain't no boy, yo," Toad said, slicking his hair back in a way he probably thought was attractive. Scott rolled his eyes behind his ruby quartz shades.

"Be careful, Schatz," Kurt said, and kissed the top of her head.

"Yeah," she said, squeezing his thick fingers. "You too, love. Go find our girls."

Clasping Forge and Wolverine on the shoulders, he called to the Boggies, "We're ready. Show us the way!"

The circling swarm straightened out and aimed themselves toward a distant island floating in the sky.

"That's the right direction," Forge confirmed, his eyes fixed on his ITD. "Looks like those Boggie things are going to lead us right to her."

"Hold tight, then," Nightcrawler said. "This is going to be a rough trip."

BAMF!

To Be Continued...

:bamf
"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea's asleep and the rivers dream, people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do."
~The Doctor, Survival

"There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes."
~The Doctor, Robot

"If this isn't civilization, why am I standing in a bomb crater?"
~Hawkeye Pierce, M.A.S.H.

Rowena Zahnrei's Stories: http://www.fanfiction.net/u/526713/Rowena_Zahnrei
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Re: Unexpected Angels (nearly complete!)

Postby Rowena » Wed Feb 29, 2012 6:35 pm

Wow, it seems there's been a lot of changes going on here! I've got some updates too, for this story. It's been a work in progress for about seven years, if you can believe it, but it's nearing its end now. Hooray! So, here are the last few chapters. Then, I just need to write out the epilogue and this neverending story will be complete at last!!! :D

Chapter Fourteen

BAMF!

Nightcrawler stumbled and nearly fell on the rocky ground of the tiny, floating island. Wolverine grabbed his arm, but Kurt wearily shook him off.

"Nein, nein, I am all right," he panted, his hands on his knees. "I just need a moment to catch my breath. It's been eight 'ports, after all, and you two are hardly a light load."

Forge staggered a few paces and moaned.

"Oh...oh, God. I think I'm gonna..."

Kurt and Logan winced at the sound of retching. Forge gasped a few breaths, then retched again.

"You OK, kid?" Logan asked.

"Peachy," Forge said irritably, shuffling back to join them. "So, where did those weird bat things go?"

"They were just ahead of us," Kurt said, straightening his back and scanning the bright, cloud-dotted sky with his golden eyes. "There!" He pointed. "There's some activity out there, to the east. Some sort of vessel? I think the Boggies are heading for that."

Forge fumbled for his scanner and started tapping at it.

"You're right, it's them," he said. "They're swarming all around something...something like a ship. A big, floating wooden ship, with sails."

Wolverine scrunched up his nose, but Nightcrawler smirked.

"But of course," he said. "What would a pirate be without his ship?"

Wolverine shook his head.

"As if this place could get any weirder," he grumbled. "So, Elf? You up for the jaunt?"

"I am ready," Nightcrawler said. "Forge?"

Forge looked a little pale at the prospect, but he swallowed and nodded bravely.

"Ready if you are."

Nightcrawler clasped their shoulders and focused all his attention on the distant blur of shadowy wood and flapping wings.

"Once more into the breach, dear friends," he quipped, and teleported.

*******

The scene on the pirate ship was one of total chaos. The air practically rippled with the cries and clashes of full-on battle. Waving cutlasses flashed in the sunlight, indigo wings flapped and fluttered, long fingers scratched, sharp teeth bit.

Wolverine plowed into the fray at once, his battle-honed mind analyzing the situation with the precision of a computer. Forge pressed himself into a corner with his scanner to his chest, overwhelmed by the violent flurry all around him. Nightcrawler perched on the ship's rigging, his keen eyes sweeping over the roaring, seething masses, searching for any sign of his daughters.

*******

"Come on, come on, come on, come on!" Suzie moaned. "I'm sick of being stuck in this stinking cage! And it does stink, too. What do they keep down here, pig manure and sweaty gym socks?"

"Just hold on a moment," Marti said. "I need to find something to pick the lock."

Suzie squeezed the bars of her metal cage as if imagining she was squeezing the neck of the spotty, greasy pirate who'd locked her in there. 'Taube crouched patiently in the back corner of the cramped metal box, her wings wrapped around her like a cloak, while Minion, like the sycophant he was, simpered beside her.

Kurt, Marti, and the Bamf had 'ported out of the tiny, metal animal pen as soon as their guard ran to join the battle above, but the unsecured barrels and boxes that slid across the dark hold made it too dangerous to 'port the others with them.

"Ha—found something!" Marti said.

She grabbed a loose nail and started digging at the cage's heavy, iron padlock. Kurt stood anxiously beside her, cradling Crawler in his arms.

Suzie rattled the bars.

"Geez, Marti, can't you go any faster?"

"Give me a break, will you," Marti retorted, blowing a red curl away from her eyes. "This lock is so badly rusted, it's a miracle it even locked in the first place. Besides, it's dark in here, even with night-vision."

"Well, why can't you or Kurt just pop back in here and 'port us out?"

"There isn't enough room," Marti said distractedly, her glowing eyes focused on the stiff lock. "Two objects cannot inhabit the same space at the same time, remember? Let alone four. I don't know about you, but I don't want to end up some disgusting, mashed together hodgepodge of—ah! Got it!"

The lock creaked reluctantly open, leaving flakes and shavings of rust all over Marti's hand and clothes.

"Ugh!" she exclaimed. "Oh, it's all in my fur..."

"You can get Dr. McTaggert to give you a tetanus shot later," Suzie said, kicking the sticky door open and crawling out. "Ah, space! I can breathe again!" She coughed a little and made a face. "Not that I'd want to down here. So, what's next?"

Marti looked up toward the gridded square of light that marked out the ladder to the main deck. Pirates yelled and leaped over the wooden grate, swinging their swords at the flapping swarm of Boggies that swooped and scratched and stabbed at them with deadly sharp daggers of their own.

"Well, we can't go up there," the little Bamf said. "Not if we don't want to end up carelessly skewered on some pirate's cutlass."

Kurt worried his bottom lip with a sharp incisor.

"Well, I think our first priority ought to be-"

A low groan sounded somewhere in the darkness below them.

Suzie scurried to the end of the hold and looked down the ladder into the pitch darkness below.

"Hey," she called back. "Something's alive down there—ow, hey! Hey, let go!"

"Suzie!"

Marti started toward her sister, but 'Taube rushed ahead and grabbed the girl just before she could be tugged down into the darkness. With a mighty heft, she lifted Suzie and her piscine limpet high into the air.

"It's Sharky!" the Bamf exclaimed. "Quick, don't let him get away!"

The shark-like sorcerer bared his pointed teeth and released his grip, dropping to the floor. The Bamf cringed behind Kurt's legs, his little tail coiling around the boy's ankle in terror.

"Don't do that," Kurt said. "You're going to make me trip!"

'Taube set Suzie down on a barrel and grabbed for the slippery sorcerer. But, Shagreen was too fast. He rolled away from her grasp and plowed his tapered head straight into Marti, knocking her off her feet. 'Taube leaped over her and charged up the ladder after the fleeing monster.

"Yeah!" Suzie cheered. "Go, get him, 'Taube! Squeeze that fish into paste!"

"Come on," Marti said, leading the way to the ladder. "Now we've got 'Taube and Sharky as a distraction up there, we might get a chance to 'port ourselves off this flying asylum."

"Good plan. I need a breath of fresh air, before my lungs go on strike!" Suzie said, and followed after her, trailed by Kurt and his little charge, and a rather reluctant Bamf. Minion skulked behind, nervously taking up the rear.

*******

Forge cried out in alarm as a gray streak pushed open a floor grating and shot onto the sunny deck, followed by a sleek woman with flowing hair the color of stone. The moment she was out in the open, an astonishing pair of wings unfurled behind her and caught the wind, lifting her into the air.

Nightcrawler jumped to a higher rung on the rope ladder to avoid getting knocked to the deck by the wind of her passing.

"'Taube!" he cried. "'Taube, are my daughters here? Have you seen my children?"

But the soaring woman didn't hear him. She was on the hunt, circling the ship like a hawk, her gray eyes focused on the shark-faced sorcerer's progress through the raging battle toward the Captain's quarters.

"The stick..." she realized. "He's after his stick..."

As 'Taube dove, hoping to grab Shagreen before he could reach the door, Marti reached the deck, followed by Suzie, then Kurt and Crawler, then the Bamf and, finally, Minion. Nightcrawler's heart nearly leaped out of his chest at the sight of his daughters, whole and, apparently, unharmed.

"Marti!" he cried, 'porting to their side without a thought of the ongoing battle. "Marti! Suzie! Oh, meine Kinder!"

"Dad! Daddy!" the girls exclaimed, and rushed into his open arms.

"Dad, what are you doing here? How did you ever find us?"

"Dad, please tell us it's you! That you're really you, from our dimension."

"Of course I'm me, Liebchen," he said. "I have come with Forge and your mother to bring you both home. But, who is this?"

He looked wonderingly at Kurt.

"He's you too," Suzie said, pulling back from the hug. "And so's that little Crawler kid. Sort of. I'm not sure about the Bamf, though. Or that Minion." She glared down at the cringing Boggie.

Nightcrawler and Kurt stared at each other, their eyes wide and uncomfortable.

"Hm," Nightcrawler said. "Well."

"Erm, ja," Kurt agreed, and winced. "Awkward..."

"Sharky the fish-faced sorcerer, over there, has been kidnapping teleporters from across the multiverse," Suzie told her father. "He's the one 'Taube's chasing."

"It's true, mein Herr," Kurt said politely. "He wants to give himself the ability to teleport. That's why he kidnapped your daughter and me, and this poor boy." He held Crawler out to the older man. "You can see what that monster did to him."

Nightcrawler took one look at the child's scars, and his expression turned fierce.

"Come," he said. "Forge is waiting to take you away from here. I must collect Logan. Once you are safe, we will think what to do about that shark-man, and your friend 'Taube."

"You didn't say Uncle Logan was here!" Suzie said.

"He is not your Uncle Logan," Nightcrawler explained as he guided the little group through the fighting clusters of Boggies and pirates toward Forge's hiding place. "Not exactly. I believe he's from the same universe as young Kurt, here. He came with two of your friends, Kurt. Scott Summers and Todd Tolansky."

Kurt looked taken aback. "Toad is here? But-"

"Kurt!" Forge cried, waving them over to his boxed-in corner.

Nightcrawler dodged a waving sword and pushed the children, the Bamf, and the Boggie ahead of him, toward Forge.

"Wait here," he said. "I'll be right back, with Logan."

"You better be," Marti said.

Nightcrawler shot her his famous roguish grin, then teleported in a BAMF of smoke.

To Be Concluded...
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