Disclaimer: The X-Men and all related characters are property of Marvel Comics, and are used here for non-profit entertainment. Miasma, Tripper, Patrick Jeune, Visage, and Carrie Perrine are mine. Comments can be sent to BelaLeBeau@aol.com.

Continuity Note: This story takes place a few years after the events of "Return to Grace." Several characters used throughout in here have been infected by the Legacy Virus, though they may not in real Marvel continuity. Magneto has never been mind-wiped by Charles Xavier; he still lives up on Avalon with the Acolytes, who have undergone a few changes in roster.

A Cure's Ransom
By BelaLeBeau
Part 1

"Are y' ready? 'Tis about time."

Moira MacTaggart stood at the door with a nervous smile on her face and a large clipboard in her hands. Hank looked up from the computer console he had been working at, and nodded. "Let's see how we've done."

They walked down a long stretch of an empty hall, saying nothing at all, until they reached a non-descript door at the end. McCoy opened it slowly, and then followed his companion inside.

There was more light in here than the entirety of MacTaggart's Research Center, which flooded onto the metallic floor from countless screens and overhead lights. And it nearly sparkled where it hit the bed in the center where a young woman lay, her body covered in a mass of tubes. Around her neck was a golden Genoshan collar, a bright light flashing just below her chin, to signal that her mutant powers were still in check. She opened her eyes weakly and nodded to acknowledge the two doctors, but said nothing.

"Whenever you like," Hank declared, and Moira reached over to press the small red button by the collar's light.

And nothing happened.

There was no sudden flame of heat around her, no crack in the laboratory floor from which flowed a sudden river of molten lava. She sat up, with Hank's help, and rubbed her eyes, coughing. "I think," she said, feebly, "I think that it worked."

Neither of the doctors said anything. Moira pricked the woman's finger with a needle and took the blood on a slide, and then hurried to a massive microscope to the side of the room. After a few moments of waiting with baited breath, she stepped aside so that McCoy could have a look.

"Well?" Both the patient and Moira said, when he turned back again.

"I believe, Miss Crestmere, that your condition has been... corrected. And that we've found, after years of research and experimenting, the cure for the Legacy Virus."

"And so, in the light of this remarkable discovery made by a human-mutant team, perhaps relations between mutants and humans will improve," the reporter said, hopefully. "For CNBC news, this is Trish Til..."

The gigantic television screen went black, but there were no complaints from around the room where several had been watching intently. "You hear that?" one of them said. "A cure!"

"It's probably just some flatscan trick," someone else told her.

"No," the one who had turned the television off said. "Did you see the reporter's eyes? And the mutant who had been cured?"

The others were quiet, some of them nodding in agreement. At last, a tall brunette woman sitting on one of the tables spoke up. "So, Exodus, when are we going to get that cure? It won't be long before all our powers are so out of whack we bring all of Avalon down."

"I say we go right now," said another woman, jumping up. She looked to Exodus pleadingly.

"Sit down, Johanna," he commanded, and looked to each of them. They were desparate, he knew, and wouldn't wait long before they headed towards the transports and sped off towards Earth. But his devotion to his Lord was far greater than his concern for the Acolytes. "I will consult Lord Magnus immediately." he said, and turned towards the door. "Do wait here."

The metal door shut behind him with a hiss, and the team immediately errupted into argument.

"Magneto wouldn't want us to wait!" Johanna Cargil spat.

"We're sitting up here dying, and he's gonna mosey on down to Lord Magnus to consult him about something we could have told him the answer to," the second woman - Unuscione- said. "No disrespect to our Lord, of course."

"I'm not going to wait. I'm with Frenzy- let's go!" All eyes turned to the red-haired woman who had been standing behind them, quietly. "Amelia?" Javitz asked.

She considered for a moment, then nodded. As much as she belived in Magneto's cause, she wasn't about to wait around for Exodus to bring Magnus' say-so for no good reason, especially when every minute which passed was one minute less in their lives- each Acolyte had been infected with the Legacy Virus. Senyaka had caught it on Earth, and the others had caught it when he had come back to Avalon. "Let's go," she agreed.

"Here we are," Forge said.

The gates of 1407 Graymalkin Lane opened, and a nondescript car swung into the long driveway. The place was more run down than Forge had ever seen it, and he exchanged knowing glances with the green-haired woman next to him before stepping out of the vehicle and onto a patch of weeds.

"Imagine if Xavier was here to see this," Polaris mused, and stuffed her hands deep into her jacket pockets. It was even colder than usual for an autumn evening in New York; there had been frost on the ground that morning.

"Imagine if Xavier were here at all. Let's go in."

They climbed up the cracked steps and pushed open the massive front door, which had been unlocked for them. They were not greeted by anyone, however, and were left to stand in the entrance calling out names before they recieved any response.

"So," said a mutant, leaning over the banister above them on the second floor. "You're the guys Scotty called in to clean us up."

"And you must be Marrow."

"How'd y'know?" she snorted, and then waved her hand in the general direction of the War Room. "They're waiting for you in there." And then she dissapeared in the shadows.

"This place is already giving me the creeps," Lorna whispered.

"Same here."

Xavier's home, once a cheery place well-kept by its residents, had been allowed to decay in every sense of the word. No one seemed to have bothered to fix the wallpaper, which was already beginning to fall off the walls, and the drapes had been closed for so long that the room had a musty smell.

The two climbed up the stairs and walked down a long corridor, where they soon came to a door leading down a long metallic hall leading to the War Room. At least in the sections of the mansion which weren't plastered with Shi'ar metals, nothing was run down. Except maybe for a little dust.

The door slid open, and they walked in. There were only two people there, but they recognized both.

"Welcome," Warren said. Cyclops didn't speak.

"Hello." There was an awkward silence between the four, as they looked at each other. "We came as soon as we got your message."

"Thank you. I guess an explaination is in order. You met Marrow in the hallway, right?"


"She, Psylocke, and the two of us, are all that is left of the X-Men," Warren told them. "That's why we needed you to help us. Seeing as X-Factor... isn't exactly in action anymore."

"Where's Betsy?" Lorna asked.

"She's currently on a solo mission, and should be back soon. You've been watching the news lately?"

"Of course. We heard about Hank and Moira's discovery. Exciting, isn't it?"

Warren looked to Scott, but Summers still didn't say anything. He stood with arms crossed, expressionless. "Very," Worthington said, flatly. "But it would be naive of us to think that nobody's going to try and exploit it somehow, no anti-mutant organization or terrorist group won't come up with some scheme to kill off a few people. Or maybe they won't now... but sooner or later there'll be a crisis. In that case, the X-Men would be needed. The four of us couldn't handle it alone. We need your help."

"You're asking us to rejoin," Forge said.

"Yes. At least temporarily. Would you?"

Forge looked to Polaris. She arched a brow, but shrugged. "It's not like we've got anything better to do than save the world," she said.

He nodded. "All right then. Count us in."

"Good." Warren smiled faintly, but Scott only shifted in his stance. "Let's see if I can remember which of you had which bedrooms."