What if... 3

Brief Title:
WI3

Characters:
Professor X, Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Havok, Mirage, Beast, Angel, Polaris, Cannonball, Sunspot, Magma, Cypher, Wolfsbane, Boom-Boom, Sebastian Shaw, Emma Frost, Tessa,

Scene Runner/Watcher:

IC Date:
11/28/12

Location:
Xavier Mansion, 'What if' Universe

Summary:
What if the X-Men lived in the Steampunk Era?

Social or Plot:

TS:
No

Log:
* http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/2/23732/1814639-steampunk_x_men___colors_by_ott01.jpg
* http://cosgeek.blogspot.com/2011/05/gallery-steampunk-x-men.html
* http://artinastudio.blogspot.com/2009/07/x-men-steampunk-redesign.html

Within the multiverse, there are an infinite number of possibilities and variations. In one reality, the cat is in the box; in another, the cat is not in the box; yet in another completely different reality, there is no box. The diversity is endless. Therefore, for every question, there is an alternate reality to answer it.

I am Uatu, the Watcher, and today we ask the question, "What if the X-Men lived in the Steampunk Era?"

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Xavier Estate - Main Drive - The gravel driveway leads from the large wrought iron gate all the way up to the stately manor house set far back from the property. A well-maintained apple orchard lines either side of the driveway, accounting for most of the front lawn. The driveway widens in front of the mansion, becoming circular as it follows around the perimeter of a large marble fountain. The fountain is simple: a very generic shape with a fish at the top that squirts water up into the air. The mansion itself is a massive two-story structure with sprawling wings on either side. The front is covered in fresh white paint and vines that run up along the base of the building and wrap lightly around the pillars that support the large front porch. Off to the left is a large carriage house and stable.

A small carriage of black is pulled by two black stallions. The horses move at a slow trot and the hooves grind into the gravel. The carriage possesses four wheels and has three main areas. The front seat where the driver sits (a fit/muscular man in his early 30s wearing a leather jerkin, goggles to keep the dust from his eyes, and heavy cotton pants with leather boots, all of black. The middle, which is enclosed and offers comfortable seating and red silk drapes to conceal the occupants. The doors of the carriage have a stylized letter H in the color of deep red. Finally, the rear is a standing platform where a man in a black tophat, longcoat, slacks, and flowing white scarf is seen holding on and awaiting the destination so he can spring into action and open the carriage door for the occupant(s). The horses clop down the drive toward the circular area in front of the mansion.

Xavier Estate - Apple Orchard - Apple trees line either side of the main driveway going in, extending to a full-fledged orchard. It's easy to lose yourself among the twisted branches and dense leaves. During the spring, the orchard smells of apples and the trees are covered with blossoms and apples. In the colder months, the trees stand out a stark brown-black against the sky, with twisted branches reaching up towards the heavens. It's not a large orchard, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's enough to blanket most of the front lawn, and keep the gardeners harvesting for a few weeks out of the year.

Between the trees dart many of the children of the Xavier School. They're playing tag, and Samuel 'Sam' Guthrie is /it/. He counts, "1, 2, 3, get off my tree!" and all of the other children break away from 'home base' and scatter. Rahne Sinclair shifts into wolfoid form and scrambles on all fours, bounding away from the pursuit of Sam. Roberto DeCosta draws in close to Sam to taunt the /it/ and then lunges to the side at the last minute, narrowly escaping capture.

Tabitha Smith moves behind the lanky Sam and pops his suspenders, laughs frantically, then she ducks away before he can tag her.

Douglas Ramsey trips over a root at the wrong time and Sam is able to tag the youth. Sam yells, 'No Touchbacks!" and moves quickly away. Doug yells, "Dag nabbit! I am always on the receiving end of this horrendous game!"

In another part of the orchard, yet near to where the other children play, is a lovely young lass by the name of Amara Aquilla, she is from a remote location within the dark jungles of South America. Her people are unlike any ever seen and they claim to be the direct descendants of the Roman Emperor, Julius Augustus Caesar. She is homesick and speaks little english, so for most of her time spent in the X-Society, she has kept to herself. She wears the trappings of a flowing white dress of cotton with sleeves and gloves to better conceal her budding feminine form.
The children give pause to watch the carriage as it passes.

Xavier Estate - Stables - The stables are a bit dank and rather musty and smell, rather unsurprisingly, like horses. Stalls line either side of the narrow, hay-covered walkway. The stalls are large enough to be comfortable for a horse, and beside each is a hook for bridles and other things. Sacks of grain and oats rest along a far wall beside a ladder that leads up towards the hay loft, as well as a pitchfork and a shovel and other tools used to muck stalls. There's a good number of horses of all sorts of varieties in here, as well as plenty of space for more horses, and the horses of guests and visitors. There's a large door here that leads out to the back lawn, as well as a standard sized door that leads into the room of one of the stable hands.

Danielle Moonstar is found just outside the stables with her white stallion, Buttercup, a champion steed that was given to her by the Professor himself. He felt that Danielle needed something to focus her attentions on outside of her studies as she was one of the older students and being more mature than most, she needed 'responsibility'. She takes the responsibility of caring for her horse quite seriously and finds herself in the stables and horse yard more than in the orchard playing with the other children.

From the nearby copse of trees, Dr Henry McCoy (known to most as (the) Beast) emerges. His cat-like features are unique among the X-Society and are quite disconcerting at times. Though his attire of brown slacks, off white shirt and blue longcoat help soften the shock to any who are new to seeing his form. His furry feet are bare.

(the) Beast intones in a caring tone, "Young mistress Moonstar, gather the other children, see that they are spotless, and wait within the Parlor for the Professor. We've guests and children are to be seen, not heard."

Danielle whispers in her native tongue to the horse as the runs the curry brush down the creatures neck. The horse in turn makes a huffing noise and turns to nudge the girl with its nose. There is more communication going on between them than what can be seen or heard. The girl, in her long calico dress and mocassions, suited more for the praries then the parlors of New England's finest, laughs at the horse and pushes the muzzle away gently.
When Beast approaches she turns and politely curtsys as she was taught when she first arrived "Yes sir." she tosses the brush into the stable and with a quick lift of her skirts, scandeously showing bare leg, and vaults onto the bareback of Buttercup and thumps her heel into the horses flank sending her galloping off to the orchards.

Xavier Estate - Stables/Hayloft - The hayloft isn't really anything very remarkable, just... well, hay. Piles and piles of hay. The loft covers the entire stable area, and the floor consists of large planks of wood that don't /always/ come together to form a perfect seal. Not that it really matters much, since the floor is, for the most part, covered with hay. There are some pitchforks around also, useful for getting the hay out of the loft, but other than that, the room is just full of (you guessed it) hay.

Within the hayloft and unseen by the casual observer, a girl (Lorna) giggles, laughs and then says, "Oh Alex?" in a loving whisper.

(the Beast) then turns his attention to the side of the stables, strikes it with his cane and says loudly, "You two in there, make yourselves present and presentable, we've important guests."

The 'children' are gathered and rushed inside. Sam, just two months younger than Danielle, is also a little more mature than the rest of the rascals, yet he still balks at having to attend formal events. He's from the wilds of Kentucky and the son of a coal miner. Unrefined is a very fitting description for the youth.

In contrast, Amara Aquilla is quite refined, being the acclaimed daughter of a senator, she follows a strict code of dress and presentation. Her manners are legendary - among the youth - as they constantly raz her for her aloof behavior.

Xavier Estate - Parlor - The parlor fireplace is almost always kept burning. Even if it's gone out from lack of tending, there's firewood and matches readily available to get the blaze going again, as the people who live here often see to. The dark colored wallpaper continues, though this room, while still rather formal, has a much more lived in and comfortable appearance. Provided, of course, one isn't so worried about damaging the expensive furniture to sit down in here. There are several sofas and high backed chairs positioned artfully throughout the room, their upholstery all embroidered to match the deep red and blue color scheme. They rest on a large Oriental rug that keeps the hardwood floor from getting scratched up. There's a bookcase resting on one wall, next to a wide window with a nice view of the main drive. There's also a drink cabinet, kept under lock and key. Though it's on the opposite wall from the bookcase, the two related activities need not be mutually exclusive. The observant might notice that one of the wall panels is, in fact, a concealed door, leading to nowhere more dramatic than the Professor's office.

The children are assembled and, though they are slightly disheveled, they do have a modicum of presentable-ness to them. With a few seconds left, they've time to straighten a few coats, alter the synch line of a dress, adjust an over-harness, and see to the bootstraps.

The door of the professor's office is opened by the red spectacled Scott Summers (who wears the circular, red-tinted specs all the time due to the nature of his special ability. He eyes the children and steps within the parlor. Behind him, Professor Charles Francis Xavier, seen within a wheelchair, is guided through the threshold by the very large, muscular frame of Piotr Rasputin - whose golden metallic skin is mostly covered by heavy cotton engineers trousers and a leather vest.

The professor states in a firm tone, "Children, be on your best behavior, our guests are of extemporary caliber and must be treated with respect at all times." It's assumed they know the rules of etiquette, do not speak unless spoken to, and make no gestures that would draw attention. He asks, "Does everyone understand?" to be sure that nothing will go awry.

With the help of the other girls in her dorm area, Danielle has managed to be mostly presentable. Only in that she has managed to get most of the horse hair off her dress and her hair is brushed and pulled back into one long braid that hangs down her back. She still has the moccassions on though and now has adorned herself with a few native american accessories, so she looks /almost/ civilized by the standards of the day.
Lined up with the rest of the youngsters she frowns at the instructions, such rules were unheard of back home with her tribe, "Who is it?" she asks. She is sure everyone is as curious as she but is unwilling or to polite/afraid to ask.

The Professor answers, "An industrialist named Sebastian Shaw, his assistant, Tessa, and the countess, Emma Frost. They are potential allies to our cause and are of the same nature as ourselves which is why we do not hide our true faces from them."

Warren Worthington, dressed in a flight vest and riding pants with tall brown boots strides in from a side door. His /wings/ are folded behind him and his dashing good-looks is the talk of all the younger girls. It's widely known that Amara has an immense crush on the man, yet keeps it a furious secret - if questioned on the matter, she becomes nearly hostile in her state of denial. Upon his arrival, her eyes see nothing else.

Behind him comes Benjamin Logan, a man of few words and many grunts. He's from the great white north and is even more feral in nature than that of (the) Beast. He's known as (the) Wolverine because he would rather fight than talk. Presently, he's quite disheveled and presents himself in nothing more than boots, slacks and a pinstriped shirt of rolled up sleeves with a few missing buttons and a narrow collar with a soiled scarf.

Kurt Wagner, a foreign carnival performer now member of the X-Society, enters the room. His appearance is similar to that of a biblical demon with dark fuzzy skin, yellow eyes, an arrow tipped tail and very odd hands and feet. Albeit, his appearance may be striking and fear-letting, he is truly one of the nicest persons one may never meet. He states, "Our apologies for our tardiness, Professor, the dear Katherine is still stuck in the hangar dealing with technical difficulties of the zeppelin."
The Professor worries not of such things and is glad that the majority of his society is present.

With everyone ready and in a stacked line, they await the arrival of their guests (who will soon be shown into the room by other members of the society).

About all that Danielle gathers from the explanation from the Professor is that these are important people and that insulting them would be bad. "I see Professor." any other comments are forestalled by the entrance of the others, who take thier places in the receiving line.
As they wait a few more moments Danielle leans to whisper to the girl standing next to her (Amara), as the watches Warren cross the room "Maybe you can have someone paint a minature for you."

The other /children/ are somewhat nervous (except for Amara who is to fixated on Warren to care, yet she responds to Danielle's remark in Latin with a sharp tongue and tone - likely something about shutting her mouth) and the rest of the group seem to take their own approach to the encounter. Logan mutters something about having better things to do. Scott chides Logan about how important this meeting is. Kurt avoids confrontation. Then after a moment or two, the Professor silences them all. Which takes place right as the large pocket doors that divide the Foyer from the Parlor are opened.

The foyer presents an impressive first view of the Xavier family mansion. The simple, floral wallpaper, in dark reds and blues, isn't an impressive thing on it's own, but it has the distinction of covering a rather large and finely furnished entrance. Portraits hang along the wall, of relatives long past, alternated by the lamps that light the place. The floor is wood, as is the large, red carpeted staircase that climbs up to the upper levels. The banister is elaborately carved and curls around the curve of the stairs.

There's an open archway on one side of the foyer, welcoming any and all into the parlor, and double doors on the opposite wall lead into the dining room, open in invitation, generally, only when there's a meal underway. Opposite the front door, another large, carved, oak portal, is the doorway to the main hall, which runs the width of the mansion.

Within the foyer are (the) Beast and Ororo Munroe (wearing a layered long brown buttoned dress). They are escorting the industrialist, Shaw, who wears the trappings of a formal black opera coat, black trousers and a frilly white shirt beneath that extends out of the sleeves of the coat in ruffles. He walks with a cane (as style, not necessity) and very fashionable black leather shoes. On his left arm is the lovely Countess, Emma Frost, who presents base white and accentuated ecru feathered full length Victorian dress (tight waist/chest with exposed collar bones and cleavage, shoulders, sleeves and collar). Her hair is up in wide ringlets with white feathers. Behind them is another lovely woman (Tessa) who is seen wearing tall strapped boots, a black lacy skirt (that reveals her knees) and a black buttoned waistcoat over a black frilly blouse of silk.

The five enter the room and (the) Beast introduces, "May I present the rogue industrialist Sebastian Shaw and the Countess Emma Frost." He leaves out Tessa intentionally as she is only an assistant to Shaw. He continues, "This is the Professor Charles Xavier and his many charges."

Xavier rolls forward as Shaw steps forward, they meet in the middle of the room, exchange physical greetings and comment to one another:
Xavier - "Welcome to my home, Mr Shaw."
Shaw - "The pleasure is ours, thank you for receiving us."
Emma also steps forward, her hand is taken and knuckles kissed by the Professor. She comments in an English accent, "You've a lovely home, Professor."
Tessa is essentially ignored by all except for Roberto, who is suddenly enchanted.
Shaw then states, "Shall we get down to business?"
The professor is turned in his chair by Colossus and he states, "Of course, let us retire to my office?"

While a lot of people would be mortified to see a woman showing her knees, even more so than cleavage, Danielle thinks nothing of it. It took months to get her into long skirts, let alone footwear. She can't help but wonder though how the women can breath being strapped up so tight about the chest. Watching the introductions and intial pleasantries she begins to fidget with impatience, though probably not so much as the more rambunctios of the children and at least she isn't oogling anyone. As the adults begin to head into the office she begins to inch out of the line, waiting for the dismissal so she can make a quick break for it.

Attending the meeting is the bulk of the upper classmen of the X-Society (Scott, Beast, Ororo, Logan, and Piotr) thus leaving Kurt, Warren, and the students to return to their duties or their own devices. The second the office doors close, Kurt disappears in a dark flash which causes a bamf sound, and many of the kids begin to scatter.

Amara takes steps toward Warren and innocently queries in an inside voice, "Why are they here?"

Warren, ignorant of Amara's true feelings and aloof himself, glances over and answers flatly, "No idea, and likely of little concern to children." This infuriates Amara. Her eyes narrow and her jaw tightens. The room is suddenly warmer and it's probably best if someone interrupt before she outright kills him (aka: does something inappropriate - especially since the professor and the others are on the other side of a heavy oak door).

Danielle doesn't quite make it to the parlor door. One she has to step out of the way of a servant pushing a tea trolly full of refreshments toward the office and two she knows the warning signs an Amara style temper tantrum when she feels them. She glances toward Sam and Roberto to see if they have noticed. Knowing them the former is probably teasing the later about staring at Tessa the knee baring woman.

She glances from the closed door to Amara and moves to intervene, "Amara," she ignores Warren "countess? That is english royalty?" she goes for the ignorance tactic for distraction, thinking that Amara will take advantage of it to teach the wild native girl something.

"English royalty, piff.", states Amara in a condescending tone. She continues, "The Saxons have no true bloodlines that can trace their origins to the Emperors or Senators of Roma. They are but impostors and rogues playing pretend."

Warren is done with the conversation and moves away to handle his own matters.

Sam and Roberto have halted, only briefly, to witness the exchange between Amara and Warren, to add to their ammunition in future engagements of love and war.

Having no real intention of listening to whatever Amara says Danielle just nods as if she did and begins to head toward the door "I don't think the Professor wants us gathered in the parlor all day. Especially with an important meeting going on." she joins Rahne who is waiting at the door and begins to head out of the parlor, making her way back outside.

Agreeable, Amara has cooled herself and everyone departs the parlor into the foyer heading for the main exit. However, Rahne announces, "Ach, I be famished. Shall we attend te'kitchen so that we may 'ave refreshments?"
Sam seconds that and Roberto is game for anything.
Amara has better things to do so she excuses herself and moves upstairs.

Finding their way, the four depart the foyer into the main hall in route to the kitchen.

Xavier Estate - Main Hall - The main hall of this impressive and expansive building is... impressive and expansive. The hall runs the entire width of the house, with a large oak door at either end, each framed by arched windows. During the day, sunlight, from the windows of the far door, streams in to fall across the elaborate, narrow carpet that lines the hall. Its shades of red, dark purple and blue mirror the dusky, simple floral pattern of the wallpaper, all in all giving the hallway a somber appearance. During the night, the hallway is lit with flickering lamplight, casting a softer glow on the carpeting, and filling the air with the familiar smell of smoke. The place is well ventilated, though, and the ceilings are high. There are doors all along the hallway, leading to the mansion's various rooms.

Sam queries to Danielle, "Danielle, All kiddin' aside, do you know th' real reason those people are here? Iah'm sure the Professor gave us th' abbreviated version."

Taking the change in plans in stride, Danielle follows the other three toward the kitchens. Pondering the question asked she pulls the detestable ribbon from the end of her braid. They are nearly to the kitchen doors before she comes up with what could be a plausible answer, certainly one that would interest them instead of just usual business stuffs about industry or finance, "Maybe they know of more youngsters like us and want to sponsor them for membership here?"

Sam shrugs, "Maybe? but that Countess lady made mah hackles stand on end. Iah don't much take favor to her." The students then move further along the main hall and step into the kitchens.

Xavier Estate - Kitchens - The kitchen is, as one would sincerely hope from an upper class household, clean, organized, and well stocked. The room is lined with cabinets, counters, stoves and sinks, and the trusty ice box sits in its own special place of honor next to the door to the pantry. Indeed, this place is equipped with all manner of modern gadgets and cooking implements, all of the finest quality. There's a large selection of pots and pans hanging from one rack, and while hardly a recent innovation, they're as shiny as the day they were made, which probably wasn't all that long ago. There's places storing the good china, the everyday china, the really fine, only for very important company china, and, of course, the impossible-to-even-look-at-without-breaking-it china. Naturally, the dishes are kept safe in cabinets. Likewise, there's varying degrees of silverware, forks, spoons and knives, each with their own special function. Drawers and racks hold cutting knives, scoops, strainers, mashers, mixers, measuring cups... everything one might need to prepare a meal fit for hungry students.

Roberto chances a comment with a wry grin, "But that Tessa. She was?"

He's interrupted by the presentation of Alexander Summers and Lorna Dane who are found within the kitchen, quite close to one another at the counter making sandwiches from leftovers of the night before.

They turn to address the new arrivals and Alexander queries, "She was what, Roberto? More than a woman of which you could handle?"

Danielle seems to be in agreement where the countess is concerned "She made me feel uncomfortable too. Hopefully they won't be over staying their welcome." as for the other woman she has no opinion she seems willing to share with the rest of the group. She wanders with Rahne over to the cupboards to see if they can find where the cook hides the sweeter snacks. She can't help but laugh at the teasing of Roberto though her eyes widen a bit at Rahne and she nudges the younger girl with an elbow lightly.

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Meanwhile, back in the Professor's office?

The true nature of the industrialist Shaw and the Countess Emma Frost visit is not estranged from the Professor's unearthly mind - as he is a telepath - one of the greatest upon the surface of the world. Though there is another with significant mental prowess, Jean Grey. She is not currently present within the meeting; at least not within the same room. However, in the small study adjacent to Xavier's office, Jean is in deep meditation while carefully investigating the mind of Shaw - trying to avoid the detection of Emma - who is also a superior telepath. With the distractions of the Professor, Jean is able to reach out and stay hidden.

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The zeppelin has been a bother since their encounter with the nefarious Magnus and his band of rogue agents calling themselves the Vile Brotherhood. It sustained damages during the conflict when the Brotherhood engaged aerial combat with their own version of an airship, the Leviathan.

Because of the damages, Katherine Pryde - the 'miss fixit' of the team, along with the help of many of the X-Society members, have been working diligently trying to exact repairs. Such that she was unable to attend the welcoming of Shaw and Frost to the Parlor; which is likely for the best as she and Anna Marie are quite entrenched in grease and grime; their attire mightily soiled. Their engineer's trousers and jackets have seen better days.

It is however, through the raw monstrous strength of Anna Marie that the X-Society zeppelin's internal workings are held aloft while Katherine adjusts a pressure valve.

With the turn of a bolt, and the clank of a sprocket, the clockwork device is set right and Katherine informs Anna Marie that she may set the tremendously heavy mechanism down.
Dusting off her hands, Anna Marie queries, "We done?"
Katherine affirms the question, "Yep. Let's go see what all the hubbub is about."

And the two young women scamper away, leaving the hangar and in route to the main house. Not even concerned with the level of discord their appearance may wrought.

It is through the kitchen windows that the two are seen walking across the back lawn from the zeppelin hangar.

Xavier Estate - Pantry The pantry is stocked with all manner of foods in jars, bags, cans, boxes, or simply hanging on strings. There's sacks of flour for making fresh bread, in stark contrast with a mostly untouched box of hard little biscuits that will probably still be there fifty years from now. There's barley, oats, wheat, rice, onions, potatoes, and apples, not to mention canned fruits and vegetables ready to eat, in season or not. There's also little jars of spices, neatly arranged, but at least they're not in alphabetical order. Then the sweets, they're located on one of the higher shelves and slightly secluded. Fine chocolates, candied fruits, rock candy, and pastries.

Danielle has struck gold with her find. Rahne follows.
Meanwhile, Sam laughs at the most recent statement of Alex and Roberto would take offense, but knows better.
Sam starts to add commentary (to Dani's statement or Alex's) but is interrupted by another query from Alex. "No one missed us, surely?"
Sam answers while glancing out the window to see Katherine and Anna Marie, "Naw, there were enough there for ya not ta be missed."

Coming out of the pantry Danielle moves across the kitchen to grab a chair from near the table, and a large plate, which she carries back into the pantry. She ignores the conversation going on there for the moment. With the added height of the chair she loads the plate with pastries and hands it down to Rahne before snagging a couple of apples for herself. The two girls then head back into the kitchen, Danielle kicking the pantry door closed behind her as Rahne sets the plate of assorted goodies on the table.

Coming in from the service/servant's entrance, Katherine and Anne Marie step into the room. Their faces smudged with grease and they smell of engine oil and fouled steam. Both are quite tomboyish and care nothing for how they appear - as neither has found a boy they wish to impress (yet).
Rogue queries, "Whot y'all lookin at?" in her southern drawl.
Sam has nothing to say, as he knows far too well the grime that is upon his form and Roberto doesn't wish to upset either girl, as he favors himself a ladies /man/ and will likely try to strike up conversations them in the future - when he's a little older, or a little wiser. Plus there's sugar to be consumed.
Rahne however tends to call it like she sees it and states, "Ach, you two smell of unnamable odors!"
Having finished their sandwich making, Lorna and Alex choose to depart the kitchen and make their way elsewhere to enjoy their alone time.
Katherine notices the pastries, and moves to take her fill.

Leaving the pastries to the others Danielle lifts her skirt, using it to polish one of the apples she grabbed for herself. "You missed the visitors." Danielle informs the two before taking a bite into the apple "And the speech about being on best behaviour. Not sure if that was good luck or good timing for you.

Anne Marie teases Rahne, "If yah didn't have auh dog-nose, it wouldn't bother yah."
Rahne turns her nose up and distracts herself with sugar.

Katherine responds to Danielle's notation, "Kurt suggested we not bother and that he would make an argument for our inability to attend. We were working on very important matters."

Danielle nods at Kitty as she chews another bite from her fruit. A frown is sent Anne's way at her teasing of Rahne. "You only missed Amara pining for Warren and Roberto staring that one of the ladies that were part of the visiting group." she lifts her shoulders in a shrug, "We don't know who they are or why them come, just that they were very important. I think we were all wanted there for show.

Roberto notes, "Dog and Pony show." and glances sharply to Rahne. She smacks him, as a lady does not talk with her mouth full.

Meanwhile, others have taken to the sweets that have been placed upon the table.

Anne Marie and Katherine are considered upper classmen, however Katherine is the same age as Danielle and Anne Marie is but two years older. Charter vs second class situation.

Sam is finally able to comment seriously, yet, it's speculation from something Danielle stated earlier. "If they have access to youth such as ourselves, perchance do you reckon they will be as uncomfortable as the countess?"

A look is given to Rahne, one that can't be readily understood without knowing what communication is going on between them, when she hits Roberto, but it is probably something akin to approval. Danielle's attention is drawn away from the unspoken converseation at Sam's question, "I don't think anyone could be worse than her." Danielle states, though her tone is skeptical, "If you are really curious you could go hide under the Professor's office window and find out if you can overhear what they are saying." her eyes shift to Rahne, who has a lot better hearing than the rest of them.

Sam's reaction to Danielle's suggestion is nearly laughable, "Wha? Awe heck no. With tha professor's talapathy Iah'd be sure to be snatched up by my bootstraps by Logan."

"Not you, Rahne." Danielle finishes the apple and goes across the kitchen to throw the core out. The other apple she leaves untouched, saving for herself, or most likely a treat for her horse. "She can go wolf, sit under the window and listen. I can link with her and hear everything she does and tell the rest of you." she then frowns "But you are probably right, the professor would probably catch us." and Danielle has been in enough trouble as it is.

Rahne's eyes go wide as she hears the situation play out. She almost says something but that passes as Danielle moves to the better off not doing it part.

Snacks are had and people go their separate ways. It's midafternoon and Danielle finds herself at the stables. The meeting has gone on for an hour and while the other children play, Danielle knows she has work to complete.

From the distance (80 yards), she spies the approach of the Countess, Emma Frost (unescorted) as she walks through the orchard toward Danielle's position. Buttercup is being tended to and becomes the topic of the mental conversation that is suddenly broached by the countess as she calls out to Danielle, telepathically, oO(Your stallion is quite striking.)

After brushing the horses coat down and checking hooves from stones, since she didn't get a chance after the sudden ride through the orchard to gather the others, Danielle is focused on getting the tangles out of the steeds mane. When she sees the woman's approach she glances quickly around to see where the others have gone off to or if they noticed her approach. Naturally she starts at the voice in her head, she's somewhat use to the professor doing that, but this woman is a stranger. Her surprise makes Buttercup shy away a bit, but Danielle sooths her with a quick rub under the chin. "Thank you." she says out loud when the countess is in conversation range. "Her name is Buttercup." she volunteers since she isn't quite sure how to address a lady of the countesses stature.

The others (children) do not seem to notice Emma moving through the apple orchard. Instead, they're occupied with their games and outdoor fun.

Emma doesn't seem to be in any rush to close the scores of yards gap between herself and Danielle. Instead, she seems to be more inclined to move amongst the trees, in and out of view.

Her voice continues to be projected within Danielle's mind, "A lovely name. Akin to a black stallion I owned as a child - Lavender." She admits ruefully, "I know, not a fitting name for a black beauty, yet I was only 4."

Danielle's eyes follow the woman as she moves through the trees, "I didn't choose it. But I can't argue that it's not suitable. And she likes it, don't you girl?" the last is asked on the horse. The horse of course can only respond by whickering, but it seems to be of approval. She doesn't raise her voice to be heard, she just assumes the woman either has good hearing or is picking up what she says outloud with her mind instead of her ears.

"Tell me, Danielle. Do you enjoy your time here, at Xavier's?" asks the disembodied voice of the Countess in an English accent (even conveyed through mental projection).

Once again, she fades behind a tree and appears on the other side - almost as if she's an apparition.

There is no immediate answer forthcoming. Danielle knows she can't lie, and dishonesty is not in her nature, to the woman since she seems to be a telepath like the professor, so of course she doesn't bother. "I like it well enough. It's not the freedom I am used to out on the reservation, but at least here, on these grounds, I am accepted and not treated any differently then the rest." she can't say the same when she goes into town, but so far hasn't had to many problems, probably because of the Professor's influence.

Emma seems to be suddenly standing in front of Danielle and looking down upon the youth, "Have you ever considered that there could be more for you outside of these walls? That you've a brighter future with a group that isn't afraid to come out of the shadows and stand up for our kind?"

With Danielle's attention else where the horse has done what horses tend to do, wander off and graze and in an apple orchard there should be plenty of vegetation to graze on. Danielle takes a step back at the woman's sudden appearance in front of her. Any other signs of discomfort though is hidden by the young girl straigtening her posture and looking up at the woman with narrowed eyes "You are /not/ my kind."

Her ethereal hand touches Danielle's cheek and is then withdrawn. "Of course I am, dearest Danielle. We are more alike than you know. Gregor Mendel established diversity in species. Charles Darwin describe us as mutations. Further study notes our existence as the natural evolution of humankind. You and I, child, we are of the same stock."

Danielle reels back at the touch from the woman "Don't touch me!" is cried out louder than her previous words. The hem of her dress nearly trips her up as she move backwards, but she doesn't fall, just ends up with her back against an apple tree. "No!" she states in adamant denial beginning to suspect that the woman is as illusionary as the images she creates. She squeezes her eyes shut, her face turning to the ground and hands going to her head "Get out of my head." she repeats it several times, before she slips into saying it in her native Cheyenne.

Emma's voice turns cold, her eyes sharp, she states, "As you wish, child, but when Essex comes for you, and none of your friends, not even your cherished Professor, can help, remember my name."

With that, she fades and is no more.

Meanwhile, the horse drawn carriage that the three arrived within is seen departing the mansion circle and passes the stable access road where Danielle can have a clear view of the carriage heading toward the main gate.

"Good riddance." the young Danielle spits out, in Cheyenne, as she watches the carriage roll away. Her anger and distress at the mental invasion would be apparent for anyone to see, it is such that it brings her horse over to prod her with its grass stained muzzle. Dropping down to sit against the tree, she looks up at Buttercup and reaches up to pet her, "It's alright. The mean lady is gone now."

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