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Disclaimer: If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended. That you did but slumber’d here while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme is no more yielding then a dream. Gentles, do not reprehend. If you pardon, we will mend (Shakespeare). I don’t own any characters recognizable from X-Men. Marvel, Fox, et al, owns all characters. No copyright infringement intended.

Author’s Notes: Loosely inspired by the movie 28 Days Later, which I was re-watching in preparation to see 28 Weeks Later when this idea came to me. This was also inspired by 28 Days Later: The Aftermath, which is the comic that acts as a bridge between the two movies. There’s a bit of comic-verse mixing in this one, but you’re not required to be well versed on comic-verse to get this because I’ve taken many liberties (since movie-verse allows that). I said I was going to go ahead and post the first chapter of this with the prologue. The plans changed. Yeah, this is another of my ever-growing WIPs.

28 Days Later
by Digital Tempest

Being unconquerable lies within yourself; being conquerable lies within the enemy.
The Art of War, Sun Tzu

Psi Break

Ororo’s eyes snapped open as she sat up in her bed quickly. She held her hands over her ears, trying to silence the screams that ripped through her, but they continued to grip at her mind, pulsating red and bright behind her lids every time she blinked. “No,” she whispered, shaking her head. She couldn’t stop it. With each passing second, it grew louder, more intense.

Dear goddess, it was in her head.

It fueled a sense of urgency in her, forcing her from her bed. She had to find the source. And she had to find it now. She rushed from her attic room, blind to everything. Her stress continued to mount, pushing her to run harder, faster. She skittered across the floor, nearly falling in the process on the second story, but she maintained her balance in her scramble. She paused before reaching the stairs as the screams hit an agonizing zenith. She leaned against the wall, moaning softly, as pain seared through her head. Once it subsided, she breathed deeply. She would not be stopped.

She rushed down the stairs, her feet tangling themselves in her gown. A scream curdled in her throat as she slid down the rest of the stairs, every bump fueling her raging adrenalin. She barely breathed a sigh of godly thanks when she reached the landing with limbs intact. Ignoring the pains shooting through her body, she struggled to her feet, running to the doors. She ran out into the night.

She crushed the damp grass beneath foot as she ran blindly across the grounds, searching for something”no, searching for someone. But who? She wouldn’t know who it was until she saw them. She slowed when her lungs begged for reprieve; her legs uttered a similar plea. She breathed heavily, desperately pulling in the needed oxygen. She held a hand to her chest turning around in frantic circles, searching the dark. There was no one there. The screaming in her head had subsided as well, but the remains of the frenzied cry still chilled her blood.

She heard soft footsteps behind her, and she turned sharply to face the person. “You heard it, too, Logan?” she said, relieved that it was only him. She needed to know she wasn’t going crazy, that she was starting to make up things in her mind.

He nodded slowly, but if that noise hadn’t woken him, listening to her race down the hallway and fall down the stairs would have. He wanted to ask if she was okay, but she didn’t seem to take kindly to him being concerned about her. She told him to save that for those who deserved it such as the kids. “What was it?” he asked. He’d never heard anything like it. Actually, he hadn’t heard it at all. He’d felt it in his mind. It had the raw, urgent, animalistic quality of a desperate scream, but it was different.

“A psi-scream.” And a powerful one at that. She’d never felt anyone take hold of her mind like that, not even Jean or the Professor. For just those few moments, she hadn’t been able to think about anything. Had distress made the telepath’s cry stronger? Or was it possible that the telepath was just that strong?

“A what?” He was still new to a lot of this “mutant terminology,” even though he’d carved his place at the school, but she was always patient with him as if he was one of her students. She motioned for him to follow her back to the mansion, but she continued to look over her should as if she was waiting for something to happen.

“It was a telepathic scream. It’s a mental distress beacon. We’re all able to send one out to some degree when we’re in extreme duress, but only someone with some kind of telepathic ability would hear ours. When a telepath sends out a psionic scream, their abilities help them to be heard, even by those who aren’t telepathic in nature.” Her voice was distant as she glanced over her shoulder again.

“Do you think it’s… Jean?” he asked, as they entered the mansion. He sounded hopeful.

She snapped back to reality. “No,” she said, then quickly added, “I don’t know.”

Whatever it was that called out to them hadn’t felt like Jean, but the last time she’d seen Jean, she was hardly the person she’d called friend. Some lifeless, uncaring shell a woman had replaced her best friend in those final moments. Only Logan had glimpsed Jean as she once was before he ended her life. Could Jean have defied death again? She shuddered at the thought of her friend returning more vengeful than before. She didn’t think they could stand a second attack by her.

The Professor. The thought passed between them without either mumbling a word. Could he have survived despite the fact that they’d watched Jean reduce him to nothing? Neither could be sure. Neither dared to hope that hard.

“I’m not sure it was meant for us,” she said, parting the silence.

That wasn’t quite true. The cry had felt personal as if its owner picked them to hear the signal, but who was trying to call to them? Were they in trouble? Were they trying to warn them of something? Goddess, she hoped not. They were barely pulling themselves back together now. They were not ready for another crisis so soon. They needed time to regroup; they needed time to mourn. They’d lost part of their family. She only asked for a few moments to themselves, but she doubted her request would be granted.

She sent out a silent message of her own, hoping it would find its owner.

Who are you?


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