DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Based on 'X-Men: The End' comics. Posted to ff.net with the same title.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To howlingturtle[at]hotmail.com
Nightmares and Sorrow
Danielle Moonstar lay in her forced dream state, placed there by her master (one who had kidnapped her and held her under his tutelage) and gripped in her emerging powers, writhing and gasping. Her dreams of late had been wretchedly prophetic, reaching from her mind and twisting reality around her in terrible ways. They were why she was here, away from those she loved so she didn't harm them by accident, trying to control them and use them to her benefit. But she was not yet the master of her dreams. They ruled her, tortured her, made her afraid to sleep and even more afraid to wake. They sprang from her mind without her guidance. Waking or sleeping they came. Unstoppable. She had even less control in her trance and each of the worst fears became reality. The horror of her current dreams was seeping out of her in coughing sobs and clenching fists, gnashing teeth and sweat soaked covers. Her mind projected images of ghoulish and haunting specters, taunting and wailing, ripping apart her psyche even as she attempted to fight back. The sheets twisted around her body tightening with every small movement, trapping her and holding her as solidly in body as her nightmares did her mind.
The mansion, the X Mansion, was burning. Her home for her teenaged years was being destroyed while Dani was held here in the unbreakable grasp of her own broken mind. She was battered, tortured by mental projections, exhausted from trying to fight back her master's grip and take control of her self. Her friends and mentor on the lawn frantic and desperate rushing back into the ruins, sifting through what little remained, hoping desperately to find their missing students and teachers, calling hoarsely the names of those not present. Dani didn't recognize many faces on the lawn. She'd been away for too long. The students she'd known were gone. Her only friends were among the teaching staff, and there were pitiful few of them left.
Suddenly she could think of only one person she wanted to see whole and well. There! Rahne. Her soul mate. The only one her mind and heart still recognized as part of herself. Still in one piece, ushering students away from the grounds. Her heart sang to see the little fur top so full of life. But her dream quickly twisted and Dani felt a stab of fear all through her, chilling her and forming a stone in the pit of her stomach. Rahne arguing with Scott, saying she couldn't leave any students in there and ignoring Scott's orders. Rahne rushing back into the crumbling mansion in a fit of bravery and stupidity. Rahne shouting over her shoulder "Tell Dani I love her!" Rahne not emerging from the mansion again. In her mind she saw the mansion expand in a conflagration, a glowing sphere, then as a giant smoking crater, as though a nuke had detonated inside. And it was gone. It was all gone. The mansion...the students... Rahne! Her beautiful, lovely Rahne. Grief swelled so powerfully in Dani that she feared she'd split apart; a fate she thought she'd welcome if it would bring her to Rahne again. For she knew this was no mere dream, this was a vision of truth, a real-time vision of events happening as Dani was trapped in her powers. Rahne was gone and Dani hadn't been there to save her. To stop her. To even say goodbye or that she loved her too. A broken and stifled sob tore from a dry throat, the noise would have bled if it could.
She hadn't been there! She should have been! She should have broken this bastard's hold on her weeks ago and returned to her home, to her soul mate! Grief was quickly supplanted by rage in Dani's soul and she felt herself burn with it. A howl rent the air issuing from her abused lungs and Dani began muttering a mixture of Norse and Cheyenne, begging Death to return Rahne to her or to bring her to Rahne. Fighting Death and pleading for it at the same time, wishing once more that her full Valkyrie powers were in her possession that she might wreak havoc and claim vengeance.
Her visions manifested even more strongly, tearing at the walls of her cell, rattling her door and breaking the furniture. All the fuss was bringing her master's attention upon her though she doesn't know it.
In the surveillance room Mister Sinister looked coolly upon the shrieking form of Danielle Moonstar as she thrashed and wailed on her cot while her manifestations destroyed his property. He felt a little twitch in his jaw and caught the eye of one of his guards. He pointed wordlessly at the screen displaying the writhing mutant and made a cutting gesture with his hand.
The soldier left the room.
Moments later Mister Sinister watched as the door to Danielle Moonstar's room was kicked in and three soldiers leveled their weapons upon the helpless woman.
The muzzles flashed. Moonstar's body twitched, her manifestations disappeared, and the body lay still.
Mister Sinister almost smiled.
Later, when Dani opened her eyes, she was finally clear minded for the first time in months. Her visions were no longer out of control, she could feel them passive in the back of her mind. She was no longer in her room, but in what must have passed for the morgue. She wondered briefly how she'd come to be there and dismissed such thoughts as unimportant.
"Sister," a shining woman addressed Dani, "Awaken. You have a duty."
Dani looked upon the armored woman and knew her for a Valkyrie. She nodded, "It will be done."
The woman disappeared and Dani rose from the table. She looked down at herself, her tattered clothes hung limply from her limbs and she flicked her wrist to discard them. In their place she summoned the armor gifted to her along with her Valkyrie powers. It was heavy, but fit snugly and comfortably, providing her the protection she desired.
She blazed with light and righteous fury. These fools had trapped her. They had split her mind and nearly broken her spirit. They had kept her from being with Rahne as the little wolf had died. They had prevented her going to her soul mate's side. They would be punished. There would be a reckoning.
As Dani's thoughts swirled in her mind and became conviction she crushed the room around her. She traveled through the compound leaving destruction in her wake. Nothing she laid eyes on was left whole, not doors, not furniture, not walls, not buildings, not people. Everything fell before her thunderous rage. She brought Neverland to its knees and struck the killing blow, destroying it forever.
She looked upon the carnage she had wrought and felt no satisfaction. None of it would get Rahne back. None of it would give her a single precious moment with her soul mate. None of it eased the ache in her chest where her grief took root. None of it made the tears streaming down her face less bitter.
She whispered into the darkness, "Forgive me, Rahne." She wasn't certain what she was asking forgiveness for; for not being there, for not saving her, for being so weak, for the damage she'd done, for being so distant where once they'd been so close...it didn't matter. She could never receive the forgiveness she sought. Rahne was dead. And with all her powers there was nothing Dani could do to change that.
Dani turned her back upon the mess she'd made and mounted her winged steed, taking flight to Asgard. Perhaps, one day, she'd be able to forgive herself even if Rahne never could. But until then she had her duty. The Valkyries had claimed her once more...and she would serve them well.
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