1965-03-03 - Blasted Ashes
Summary: Cyclops takes Negasonic for target practice, only to have a vision interrupt.
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negasonic scott-summers 

Since his return to the team, Scott has been getting back into the swing of instruction slowly. The most straightforward way he's become involved is by taking those with abilities similar to his - targeted ranged attacks - and taking them under his wing.

Normally, Negasonic might seem an odd choice of protege for the straight-laced Cyclops. But the nature of her gift puts her in his purview. In addition, anger is an emotion he can understand all too well and he's surprisingly capable of withstanding her sharp tongue with aplomb.

Today, he has them out in the rear to do some target practice. "The Danger Room's off-limits at the moment, due to…" he considers explaining that there's a time portal to 1988 in the Danger Room and then thinks better of it, "Well, just…off-limits. So, I had to improvise a little bit," he says. He gestures for Negasonic to stand in place and he walks over to a small box with an arm on the side and pulls out a container of discs, "Some good old fashioned skeet shooting."

For her part, Ellie has never had difficulties keeping herself occupied while others are wrapped up in the intricacies of life. People might assume, based solely on stereotyping, that she's quietly seething about the unfairness of life and other predictable 'teenager angst' topics. Ellie doesn't concern herself with such bullshit people and their stupid leaps of logic. She's got bigger things on her mind than the latest breakout, what Susie's wearing, that Johnny didn't call last night, or whatever else most people her age are consumed by, at this point in life.

No, she's got bigger things eating away at her sanity. Things like the deaths of countless innocents, looming evil that threatens to swallow the world, and worse. The fact that people are so up their own asses about everything, yeah, leads her to experience more than her fair share of 'are-you-fuckin'-kiddin'-me' anger than most. Of course, she also doesn't care enough about morons enough to educate them, unless it's absolutely unavoidable. She's busy studying the esoteric and occult, as well as trying to better understand her 'gifts,' so she can wield them like a wrecking ball, or a scalpel, depending on what the situation calls for.

So, when Scott brings her out to the back of the building, a large, sprawling open area dotted with trees, a lake and a cabin in the distance, Ellie's perpetually narrowed eyes are slanted against the brightness of the sun as she regards the scene before her. Glancing down at the box as Scott positions it, she simply stares at him. "Sounds good," she says. To be honest, Ellie doesn't talk much (unless she has to) and, when in Negasonic-mode, she tends to talk even less.

Scott Summers spent a lot of his own youth closed off from others. Orphaned, damaged, abused, he kept to himself and, like Ellie, had plenty of resentment and rage. Charles Xavier found a way to hone that rage into something useful and to give Scott a purpose in his life. He hopes to do the same for others, like Ellie, although he doesn't necessarily have the Professor's gift of empathy to the same degree. But he does try.

He gives a nod at Ellie's acceptance and sets up the machine, putting it on an automatic timer, "I'll fire first, just to show you the basics," he says. He has on his visor today, rather than his shades, allowing him to blast with more precision. The first 'pigeon' flies into the air with a jerk of the arm, flinging it up high. Scott's brow furrows and the visor opens a sliver, letting out a precise beam of crimson energy, flaring directly at the object in question.

"Focus your concentration on the target. Don't get distracted. Try to keep your power level contained - I know it's easier for you to full out blast, but we're going for accuracy today over power." At least the rear grounds were clear enough that she wouldn't do any collateral damage with an errant blast into the sky, unless some duck or sparrow made a wrong turn.

Negasonic's dark, glittering eyes watch as the disc sails out of the trap's arm, zinging high into the air before exploding in a cloud of rubble once Cyclops' precise beam hits it. Ellie tries not to sigh. It's not that she's lazy. It's not that she doesn't care. It's not that she doesn't want to become better. It's just that it leaves her feeling…antsy, whenever she tries to focus her blasts so muchlike there are excesses of her blast energy throbbing inside her. Sometimes, when she practices this kind of exercise for long enough, she feels like she could burst into a full speed run and leave flaming footprints behind her. Of course, it doesn't work like that, and she's had to find other ways to constructively ground herselfwhich aren't nearly as fun or effective as just cutting loose.

So, her painted-black lips tighten into a grim line of resolve as she commits herself to the exercise fully. She finds that it's best not to try to follow the discs from the trap into the air, but to keep her eyes on the general airspace in which the targets fly up into, and attack them as she sees them sail into view. At first, she squints an eye and uses her 'finger-gun' method of focusing herself. But, trying to push herself harder, she starts practicing without the physical crutch. Some blasts, without the concentration aid, are bigger than she anticipates, but she's getting better.

They go for several rounds, with Scott offering guidance here and there, but largely letting her work through it herself. More than anything, he tries to be encouraging and supportive - he can see that she's putting in real effort and that's, frankly, more important to him than actual results at this point. But the better she gets at this, the more useful she is in the field - to Scott's view, she's better when she can be a sniper rifle and a bazooka than when she's just the latter.

The simple rhythm of it all, however, let's Ellie's mind wander a bit, though, the simple routine almost mesmeric in its intensity. That dreamy state becomes even more pronounced when she fires a perfect shot and shatters a disc - only to have the dust of it seem to explode outward and coat the world in grey-tinged snowfall, a sensation of falling overwhelming her as she finds herself plunging into a vision…

Negasonic's blasts, at the height of her skill, are about the size of a softball. At worst, when she misses the initial peak of the target's trajectory and she's scrambling to hit it before it falls to the ground, the blasts get to be about the size of a big pumpkin, which has her inwardly cursing, her jaw muscles rolling as she grits her teeth. Scott doesn't have to have Charles Xavier level empathy to recognize the self-recrimination she's putting herself through, that overactive personal ethic that can cause a body to berate themselves for not attaining that perfection they expect of themselves. She is /better/ than this failure says she is, and she'll be damned if she can't prove it.

But, as time goes on, and she begins to lose herself in the task, her mind wandering, her emotions high… It's a heady cocktail, that's opening the doorway to her clairvoyance, that prescience that pesters her incessantly, at times. She feels it happening, but is too late to pull out of it. Sometimes, if she's aware-enough, she can stave them off until she's able to get some privacy. She /hates/ having episodes in front of others. She's too vulnerable during these moments, where she has little to no control. With defensive tactics on the mind, her body reacts and, as she goes down, her body is enveloped in a shell of her mutant blast energiescrackling like electricity, hotter than fire, flickering with a psychedelic lightshow, her consciousness is consumed by the visionand, Scott would be risking his safety if he attempts to approach her while her powers are encasing her supine form. The grounds beneath her scorch in the shape of her body, like a chalk outline on pavement, as her eyes roll shut, her buzzed head bouncing against the grass before falling to one side. She looks peaceful, almost, in this state. If it weren't for the energy field viciously snarling around her.

Scott, for his part, keeps his distance. He may not have seen it in action before, but he's read Ellie's file and knows the nature of her abilities. Since she seems to have it at least contained enough to not be a danger beyond her immediate vicinity, he just keeps an eye on her and makes sure the area stays clear until she returns from her fugue state.

In the vision, the grey continues to fall and Negasonic finds herself standing in a field of ash. It spills from the sky like snow, but she can tell from its texture on her hands and the grey-black color of it, a few embers burning here and there amidst it all, that it's a remnant, burned away, roiling clouds overhead spilling it relentlessly as an ominous precipitation.

She's in an empty field, still, but there's no sign of mansion or forest around, only a set of distant hills. THere, she can see a few figures, five in total, although it's difficult to make out much about them from a distance, backlit as they are by strokes of power, like lightning crackling on the horizon, but without thunder. There is only silence and the silence is booming in its intensity.

Usually, in these visions, Ellie is almost entirely an observer—like a person watching a movie who just happened to step inside the screen, unable to interact with anyone or anything, even though she can feel things from her surroundings as though they were real. Fire is hot, ice is cold, and ashes are greasy and sooty. Like the ones that are falling from the gloomy grey clouds overhead. She can't see the sun, but there is light from some source.

Dusting her hands off in a futile swipe of her palms against the backs of her thighs, she begins making her way toward the hills, her eyes trained on the five figures. As she's learned to do while in these visions, she's got her senses turned up as high as they'll go, and she is almost on edge with how heightened her awareness is, her gaze snapping in the direction of any sound she doesn't make herself as she walks. Closer. Closer, now. Though she's generally not noticed by anything or anyone in her visions, she is nevertheless on alert for that exception to the rule, staying as prepared as she can for any potential rug-tugging that might occur. As such, she attempts to find some inconspicuous route to get nearer, as she closes in on the five figures on the hills. Her ears straining for any sounds, her eyes burning from her refusal to blink, her skin itching with elevated sensations, her heart is thrumming palpably in her chest. She really wishes her vision-self had her hoodie, because she really would love to pull it up over her head right about now.

The space of the place seems off, the ethereal quality of the revelation making things hazy at the edges. Sometimes it feels as if she's been walking forever. Sometimes it feels like a single step takes her half a mile. That silence remains deafening and distorting, almost a weight on her shoulders. She feels as if she cannot speak, much less scream, the whole world muffled as if in mourning.

The figures come into sharper focus as she finds herslef looking up at them, the five on the crest of a hill. The two on either side stand out by being astride horses - each of them caped and cloaked, hooded and turned away from her, gazing at that unseen source of light on the other side of the hill.

The figure in the center, however, stands. Tall and broad-shouldered, he's obviously male. He wears no hood, dark hair atop his head. There's a sword strapped sideslung across his back and he appears to be wearing some sort of armor under the cloak. And, as Ellie approaches, he turns and gazes down at her, his features handsome and sharp. And he offers his hand in invitation.

Ellie's heart, which had been thumping heavily in her chest, leaps into her throat as the tall man in the center turns…and looks at her. Even worse, he offers an outstretched hand of invitation to her. Though she was on high alert for the possibility of being seen by someone or something in her visions, the actuality of it happening causes her mouth to fall open and she draws back from the hand, as though it were a brandished weapon. She's…not afraid. That's what she tells herself. She's not afraid, she is just surprised. She's just unnerved.

She looks from the hand to the man's face, and even swivels her head to look behind her, just on the off chance that he might be reaching for someone else that appeared behind her. That's happened, before. But, she's not so lucky, this time. She walks sideways away from the man, turning her gaze back to him, her expression one of suspicion and fear-harnessed-to-anger. What does he want? Who is he? Who are these people on the horses? Capes, cloaks, hoods, on horses… Looking down on something at the base of the hill on the other side. She keeps side-stepping, aiming to get a better view of what's so interesting, while keeping her warning glare on the man in the center. 'Don't come near me,' that look clearly says without the need for words.

The man's expression is calm and placid, his eyes crystal blue as he keeps a steady gaze on Ellie as the young mutant approaches. As she climbs up but keeps her distance at the same time, she might find herself having to skirt the horses. The figures on them don't seem to react to her at all, their bodies wrapped in those cloaks like shrouds and keeping their attention focused down beyond the hill.

"There's no need to be afraid," he says steadily, making no move for his weapon. He turns his eyes back towards the light and now Negasonic can see for herself. There's a pit down below, a massive hole in the ground that seems to be filled with roiling energy, a powerful sphere like a struck meteor in the ground, but perfectly round. At the top of the sphere, there appears to be a male figure, spread eagle and feeding off of that energy, lightning strokes coming into the body, the figure itself black as night and impossible to read detail upon, so backlit it has become. All around the edge of the crater, there are people, bound in chains, emaciated and bloodied, their backs bowed and their heads pressed into the ashy dirt, seemingly in worship of the sphere - or the figure upon it.

"Akkaba," the man with the sword says.

"AKKABA!" ring the voices of the chained below in a bellowing chorus.

Sure. There's no need to be afraid. That's what most of the evil things say, at first. Ellie's response to the statement is to narrow her eyes even more, her face making a such an expression of disgust that it's almost like a cat's hiss. She doesn't trust this man, and she has no intention of letting him near her. He's responsible for this hellscape, most likely. Handsome or not, that's not cool. She skirts the horses with care, keeping an eye on the riders of the horses, as well.

As she reaches the other side of the hill and can see the massive pit full of turgid arcane energy. She takes in the sight of the pitch black man who feeds from the energy, and the sight of the wretched, chained people that surround the pit. She glances back up at the man with her angry eyes, even as he utters the name 'Akkaba,' answered in kind by the masses down below. She remembers the word, She remembers the name. And, for what good it'll do, she feels her powers coiling inside her, drawing deep on her overstimulated senses, the overwhelming levels of anxiety, fear, and anger she's got pent up inside her… She begins crackling with the energy that's all her own, as she glares balefully at the man with the sword. "Say it, again," she says in a low voice that's more of a warning than a welcome, her body straightening, her shoulders squaring, and her hands balling into fists of determination.

His smile only grows wider as he looks at her, seeing her surrounded by a crackling nimbus of her power. "Look at you, in the fullness of your might. The rage and hate burning inside you. Such power. Such potential. I knew you had it in you," he says.

A gutteral roar comes up from the pit beneath as the man on the sphere seems to grow, increasing in size, twice as large as a normal human now. She can see now that the people around the pit are growing more sickly, more emaciated, even as they moan more deeply, crying out that word. "AKKABA! AKKABA!" until they start to choke on it, their vitality feeding into the figure at the center of the pit.

"The blood rises," the man before her says, this strange knight, "The master calls. He is coming. The hoofbeats echo in the dark. The Riders of the Storm. The Horsemen. His Horsemen."

Ugh. Sick. Though the man with the sword is handsome and charismatic, the smile that splits his visage and the oily words of praise make Ellie feel gross, violated, wrong. She can't keep the disgust from her face, twisting her features into a sneer. Then, her attention is drawn back to the pit, and the people that are being drained to lifeless husks before her very eyes as the abomination grows in the center of it all.

She whips her head back around to level her malevolent look at the man with the sword. "End this," she demands, thrusting a hand behind her to gesture at the goings on down below. "Otherwise, you'll all perish," she says darkly, glancing at the riders before returning her attention back to the man with a sword.

The man laughs and shakes his head, "End it? My dear, it's only just beginning. But don't worry, you'll have your part to play," he says.

She feels a hand clap down onto her shoulder and she realizes one of the riders has managed to come up beside her while she was focused on the man. She looks up at that shroud wrapped visage, the hood pulling back to reveal a face, dark-eyed and smiling wickedly with an evil expression of utter depravity.

Her own face. Ellie's own aura of power rises around her and the two merge and mingle, the glow becoming bright at a burning ember, filling her eyes with light.

And then she comes to herself, laying in the charred grass behind Xavier's, with Cyclops standing nearby and awaiting her. If she had a watch, only a few seconds will have passed, although it felt like hours.

Ellie almost jumps a foot in the air when the hand drops soundly on her shoulder, and she whips her head to glare at the offending rider. Inwardly, she only has a moment to wonder how this asshole can touch her without suffering from her mutant powers…. No. She shakes her head, her face paling and her expression going blank with realization. "No," she chokes out, slapping her own hand from her shoulder with vigor as she backs up. "No!" she insists, falling out of the vision. "NO!" she comes hurtling back to wakefulness with the bellow of rage and denial, her body flaring painfully brightly as her blast powers ignite with her upset…sending a hemisphere of the grounds blasting outward from beneath her form.

Landing in the bottom of her own pit, she presses her palms to the scorched earth and pushes her way to her feet, still expecting to see the man with the sword and the riders, one of whom… "It was a trick," she says to herself. "It wasn't me," she folds her arms up tightly, not so much hugging herself, but serving the same purpose. She seems very wrapped up in whatever it is that's burning in her mind and not aware of anything else. Such as the fact that she's done some property damage.

Scott waits for her to calm, patient and enduring. Again, he knows of her abilities, although he also recognizes that it might be difficult for him to relate to this aspect of her powers. He wished the Professor was around to provide guidance.

"I think we're done for the day," he says, quietly. There's a significant crater around her, the spherical burn of her power having carved the earth in a circle around her frame, the winter-dead grass charred at the edges. Cyclops comes to the edge of the divot and extends a hand, offering her a chance to stand up. "Come on. Let's get you inside," he says.

Ellie looks up, finally, from her pacing at the base of the crater she accidentally created. The sound of Scott's voice, gentle and with no reproach, brings her out of her semi-hysterical state. She purses her lips tightly closed and nods her head to his statement. She's definitely done. The only good thing about her loss of control is that she's not brimming with energy she can't release. That's the last thing she would want to deal with, right now.

She stares at his hand, stretched out to her…so like the man with the sword did in her vision. She only hesitates a moment, but she clasps it with her own, sooty-dirt smudged as it might be. There are bits of dirt and debris from the explosion that are dusted on the both of them, and she tries to brush off what she can see that doesn't require her to make /too/ much contact with him. She rubs a hand over her buzzed scalp before tucking her arms back into a tight fold, her eyes cast downward as she begins walking with him inside.

"Akkaba is coming. That's what it was showing me," she says in clipped syllables. "There was a man with a sword, and four horsemen. I was one of them. I didn't know it, because they were all shrouded, but that's what he wants me to believe. That I'm one of them," she spits out. "I don't want to talk about it, but I need to give all the information I can. I'll brief whomever I need to, but then I need to take some me-time," she says, not making eye contact as she trudges alongside Scott. "Hope the Danger Room gets fixed soon, because I need an outlet," she says dourly.

Scott Summers nods grimly at the information she gives him. He doesn't discount it but he doesn't know how to handle it yet. "We'll deal with the future as it comes," he says, leading her inside. "And whatever it brings, we'll face it together. You're not going to have to deal with it alone," he says, offering all the comfort as he can as he takes his student inside - and tries to make sense of what she's telling him.

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