The Xavier Institute’s sublevel stairwell, somewhere between Sublevels 3 and 4..

The boy sat on a step, unable to remove his brown eyes from the gnashing, smacking mouths that had grown in both palms. His pink dyed hair stuck to his face and dripped with the chemicals from his containment tank.

He couldn’t think out, his mind was locked inside itself with some kind of monster eating away at what was left. He tried to push the monster away, but it was as if any mental strength he’d ever possessed was sapped.

He had walked through worlds, suns, and rooms of chattering boxes before the monster came and forced him to turn back. Now his mind was its own chattering box, a dungeon, not an ever stretching multiverse.

He turned away from his hands. They were whispering things to him. He tried to remember who he was, before he was cloud and light, who he had been when weak and small like this. The monster stood in front of the doors to those boxes. He was too frightened to fight his way past.

“Q-Plate.” He tried out the name on his tongue. It didn’t feel right but something chased away that sensation and assured him it was.

He threw his head back in agony as his Master’s edict branded itself throughout his skull. He shook and drooled until the pain subsided and the heat of the brand cauterized the psychic trauma.

X-Men.” He growled, spittle falling from his chin. He used one of his hungry hands to wipe the hair from his face and stood up. “Eating X-Men.” Something about that felt very right.

His stomach growled as he sensed something near.

Inside the Cerebra Chamber…

Cessily Kincaid slithered over the very high top of the spherical Cerebra Chamber. Her mutant powers were a little more on the drastic side as far as mutations went. When her abilities manifested, her body transmutated into a mercurial like substance, which she could choose to harden or soften into a liquid. She was living metal, all except for her red hair.

This new body form gave her great versatility though. She slid down the walls and checked the debris on the bottom. Panels had fallen from the walls and landed here. She slipped back up the catwalk and gave Cerebra one more look-over before returning to the entrance.

She oozed through the chunks of wall and shafts of beams that blocked the exit. Like water she poured through the spaces until she reached the other side. She solidified and her eyes adjusted to the fire light.

“Nothing. Nobody.” Mercury informed her squad leader and Combat Instructor, Ms. Lee. She looked around to see David analyzing the scorch marks left on the wall of the tunnel.

“Weapon discharges,” he murmured to himself. “This looks like it came from some kind of laser gun. Cool!”

“I wish Pixie would hurry the hell up,” Jubilee cursed in frustration. She looked at Mercury and then at David. Rockslide lumbered toward them from farther down the tunnel from his lookout point.

“Has Nori checked in?” Mercury asked her instructor.

“Nope, no word from Surge yet. It’d be nice if the Cuckoos were responding, they could keep us all linked.” Jubilee said kicking a piece of rubble against the wall. “If they’re going to be creepy they could at least be reliable.” She put her hands on her hips and tapped her foot impatiently.

The tunnel was flooded with light as Pixie arrived between Cessily and Jubilee.

“Bit rough of a landing,” Pixie squeaked. “But they’re safely in the med bay.”

“Primo,” Jubilee approved. “Now,” she looked at David, Cessily, and Megan, before continuing, “time to go vampire hunting.” She swung her machine pistol back over her shoulder, the bullets clinking against her vest. “Rockslide!” she yelled to the student she had ordered to scout.

“I don’t see him down the tunnel,” David proclaimed as he switched on L.E.D. lights in his glasses. He lit their way far better than the flaming debris.

“He’s probably playing a joke,” Cessily moaned.

“At a time like this? Is he really that douchey?” Jubilee was incredulous.

“Santo!” David called out the name of his former teammate.

“While we’re waiting on Rockypants, I want to try something out,” Pixie said to Mercury gleefully. She picked out a small smoldering piece of debris with her gloved hand. She then took the other hand and began a series of gestures while incanting the words, “Erif morf eci.” She said the words over and over like a mantra as the piece of insulation began to pop and crackle. Suddenly steam and smoke came up.

“Whoa,” Mercury exclaimed.

The insulation completely iced over. Pixie smiled and pivoted on her ankles frantically. “Isn’t that soooooooo cool?”

“Ye-,” Cessily started to agree when a loud snap and pop invaded her ears. The insulation shattered and frozen pieces exploded outward. Mercury’s body swam around several of the fragments as they passed through her.

Jubilee ducked as piece grazed across her shoulder. “Hey!” she shouted at her student.

With one fluid motion, David withdrew his repulsion pistol and blasted a piece as it neared his head. He looked at Pixie sternly.

“This isn’t amateur hour,” Jubilee fumed as she stood over the young girl with her hands on her hips. She looked around at her students. She slapped her palm over her forehead as she muttered “Oh god, it is.”

“Hey!” David felt he was most certainly not an amateur at this point. “I lead the New Mutants student squad and fought in Limbo with the New X-Men even without my powers. Sure I almost died and had to have Josh reconstruct my heart but I am still a valuable asset.”

“Pixie, maybe you should just teleport Mr. Alleyne and Miss Kincaid back to Danger while I look for Santo and Nori,” Jubilee shook her head.

Pixie looked like she was going to cry before both her pointed ears and her antennae perked up.

“Miss Lee, wait” she warned just as a laser shot behind Jubilee’s head. Miss Lee swung around wildly with machine gun in hand.

David aimed his pistol at the attacker but a thinner laser than before hit it. As his pistol heated up he let go of it instinctively. David’s tech glasses flashed information in front of his eyes. They were searching through X-Files and found a match; the henchmen D.O.A.

His eyes were beady and small above his oversized Ichabod Crane nose and between his large and waxy ears. He wore a black leather jacket, leather pants, and a black cab driver’s hat. He was pointing a laser gun right at David’s face. He fired.

Tomorrow Institute Level 3 -The broken and entered into personal Study of Headmistress Frost…

“Well?” Irma tapped her white fingernails on Miss Frost’s platinum desk. She looked anxiously across the desk at her sister, Celeste, who sat in the polar bear fur-lined chair with Cerebra on her head. Frost’s study was all pristine white, a big deviation from the violet and indigo walls the Tomorrow Institute was made up of.

Phoebe stood beside Celeste with a manicured hand on her shoulder. “Don’t rush her!” she whispered to Irma.

“He was slippery but then…” Celeste began to explain.

“There he is.” All three girls thought at once.

“His defenses are down,” Phoebe said with surprise.

Irma’s eyes glowed as her mind connected with her two sisters in the hive-mind they called the Three-in-One. “He is damaged.”

“Under the influence of something Emma’s scared of,” Celeste finished.

She wiped a small driblet of blood from her nose and looked at Irma and Phoebe. Like her they were blonde haired and blue eyed. They all wore white-polo shirts and sensible skirts. She smiled at her triplets wickedly.

Their minds hummed in communal joy. “Let’s Play.”