FAQ       Archive      Extras       Gallery
       Links       Subscribe


  Book One of the Annwn Ryu Cycle
   Chapter II:
   The Language of Lions”

Scott met Logan in the hall outside Cerebro’s vault. Everyone else was hurrying to assemble in the entrance hall of the mansion.
  Their eyes met, and just for a moment, the younger mutant saw not merely an older man, but an ancient soul, alone not merely by choice, but by virtue of that age. It was a brief awareness, and Logan had shielded him from it when Scott had been a child. After seeing the ones you love die - not even by violence, but by age or nature - then you grew more and more tentative about loving, caring, dedicating yourself. It made you vulnerable. It left you open to a type of pain that almost no man living could grasp.
 Once again, he had underestimated the man behind Wolverine. Instead of turning away from the team and giving in to the pain, he turned instead to shield another from ever suffering it.
  Scott would never again be able to call Logan Wolverine in his heart. He was far more human than most people could ever aspire to.
  More - samurai than samurai.
  Neither spoke, until Scott said quietly, “This one’s gonna be tough.” Give the man some respect, let him decide what he wants to do. He fell in step beside the other man when Logan started toward the others.
  “Yeah.” He kept walking.
  As they moved, the difference was obvious - Scott was tall, slender, and moved with an easy stride, unconsciously broadcasting the fact he was the leader of the X-Men.
  Logan was shorter, stocky, prone to blend into the background when he wished. His movements were graceful, but controlled, and he told nothing by movement nor posture.
  Jean glanced over at them both, eyes worried, and was just about to speak, when the front door banged open.
  “Ya'll can relax.” came a familiar voice, as a tall figure strode in “Gambit has returned!” Grinning his trademark, rougeish grin, he paused to regard his friends.
  “An’ ‘dis time he bring backup.” added another voice. Cayenne grinned with equal mischief, as her gaze swept the group, eyes glittering with humor.

  "The child is the mutant Cerebro detected." Xavier was saying, quietly, as the X-Men gathered in his office, puzzled by the sudden change in events.
  "I happen t' have a name, Chromedome!" snapped the girl standing next to Gambit, eyes blazing. "I suggest you 'member it!"
  Xavier was so startled by the youngster's words his mouth actually fell open an inch, while Logan's lips twitched slightly.
  Gambit looked up at the ceiling as though seeking divine intervention. "Gambit suggest you do like she say, kid has a temper, like her old man."
  Everyone froze, staring at the tall Cajun in amazement. Rouge's mouth fell open, eyes widening as she looked from him to his younger companion.
  Cayanne snorted, then turned back to Xavier. "So dis yer school, Chromedome?"
  "My *name* is Professor Charles Xavier...."
  "Oooo, nice long name."
  "Cayanne, he own this nice place." Gambit's voice was amused, but trying for a mild reprimand. "Do your papa a favor an' give him a chance, eh?"
  "He not polite, *I* not polite." The girl crossed her arms, glaring at the X-Men and their mentor.
  "He told ya his name."
  "Well, you told him mine." she glowered, still protectively close to her father.
  Gambit's lips twitched, even as he looked with mild apology at Xavier, who still was in a mild state of shock.
  "For you, I give him 'nother chance." grumbled Cayanne. She eyed the Professor with distrust and drew herself up. "I'm Cayanne LeBeau, daughter of Remy LeBeau." It was oddly precise, and she announced the last with unhidden pride.
  "A pleasure." replied Xavier solemnly, his face showing his nature of serene compassion once more. "And I am Professor Charles Xavier, teacher and owner of this school."
  "Pleasure." nodded Cayanne. "So, someone wanna show me 'round the joint?"

  "She is unusual." said Jean Grey, while she sipped tea beside her husband in Xavier's office.
  Scott chuckled, his visored gaze resting briefly on his wife. "Definitely that!" he grinned, then looked a bit sheepish at Xavier's raised eyebrow. "A lot like her dad."
   The fourth member of the teaching staff, a regal, dark-skinned woman with striking silver hair, nodded quietly. Ororo Munroe, known also as Storm, was in charge of the newest students, and obviously Cayanne would be among the new class.
  "Gambit has told me that she has no formal education." said the weather mutant quietly. "But also that she possesses an extraordinarily agile mind."
  "Our newest member will have every opportunity to proceed at her own rate." Xavier's expression was slightly sad. "Perhaps we will yet be able to earn her trust."

  "You wan' me to what?" Cayanne's voice was still low, but deepened with shock.
  "You try goin' to school, petit." Gambit had thought of a thousand ways he could explain this to the girl. He stared into eyes that were so like his own and stood his ground. He had to love her enough to push her into his.  "They got a fine one here."
  "They kids!" Such disgust in that voice.
  "So are you, mon sauvage petit ange." he said, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her close, despite her squawk of mock indignation. Gambit held her there, and she hugged him back, tightly.
  "Non. Cayanne not a kid no more." she said, looking up at him.
  "Well, you try one month and fake it for your Papa, okay?"
  The girl puffed breath out, blowing her curled hair out of her eyes. It was a long moment before she answered, and it was in a softer voice than normal. It was a daughter's voice to a father, not a wild child of the New Orleans streets.
  "You really this so important?"
  "Then Cayanne try to pretend to be a kid. This once. For you."

 The first moment Cayanne stepped into the mansion's "Orientation Room", she was a bit startled. Others her own age, some a few years older, were gathered nervously, uncertain of how to react to one another.
  She burst out laughing, aware that most turned to look at her. Grinning ferally, she said, "Here we all are then, wit all de world out to get us, and we gonna be scared of each other?"
  Somehow, it didn't come across insulting to most. It wasn't even superior, it was - funny.
  Cayanne pulled out some cards, grinned. "My Papa's the master o'cards." Grabbing a boy - she noticed in passing he was horribly, nauseatingly, stomach-twistingly hideous behind a thin gauze bandage - she swung him in front of her, sending the cards up in a swirl over and around him. "Cayanne just know some tricks. You pick a card, pass it on, yes?"
  Tentatively, the boy - his hands were bone-thin and gloved - reached into the swirling storm and snatched a card. A six of clubs.
  He held it awkwardly, then passed it over to a smaller boy who looked to be a cross between a human and an owl. The boy held it a moment, it spun over - a four of diamonds - and a new storm of cards danced around him.
  Soon the frightened, lost youngsters were gathered around the reluctant newcomer, somehow able to tell their stories, to be - kids. To be themselves, without fear.
  Cayanne flopped onto the couch, listening avidly, grinning and occasionally unable to make an anti-mutant joke, but inside, she was concerned. How would they grow to see the world later, when everyone who wasn't like them were all around them? It was a familiar feeling, and she could feel the slight pinch of her fangs against her closed mouth.
  She was no kid, but now she had a reason to try to be.

  "She not real thrilled about this school idea, but she try it." said Gambit, regarding his teammates and the Professor from where he leaned against the wall.
  "Do you know what areas of aptitude she would prefer to pursue?" asked Xavier, gently. He sensed the roiling emotions from within the Cajun, as well as a certain level of hidden worry.
  "Cayanne always like computers, but you ask her. She not take well to bein' told how to act, but she like to learn." The tall mutant shrugged. "Best thing is to let her figure what to start with."

  When the others had finally wandered off, Cayanne slipped from the mansion. The old familiar pain was beginning, the whispers and the spinning, tumbling visions that clogged her awareness. She bounded into a tree, stood absolutely still, listening, until she was sure that no-one was nearby. Her nose told her that this tree was isolated, and the girl climbed a few feet to hide behind a bough.
  She was trembling. Gritting her teeth as the pain - fire/ice/need/hunger! - nearly made her black out. It was getting worse, this was the worst it had ever been.
  Finally, the girl reached into the inner pocket of her trenchcoat, removing a small leather case. A practiced flip of her hand opened it, revealing a sterile syringe and three small, unlabeled vials filled with a pale, translucent liquid.
  Fighting off the tremors of pain and clawing fog of memory, she braced her left arm against her knee and filled the syringe a tenth of the way full from one of the vials. She unwound the small strap inside the case and quickly wrapped in around her arm, inserting the needle once the vein stood out.
  The voices faded. The pain receded a bit. It was manageable.
  Shuddering uncontrollably, she held one hand over the small wound, aching, seeking some small amount of warmth despite the secrecy - and the shame.

  Classes weren't as difficult as she had hoped they would be. She sat on the far side of one of the schoolrooms, watching the tall, dark-skinned woman that had introduced herself as Miss Munroe.
  Despite her efforts, despite the drug, Cayanne was beginning to feel sick - more often and more intensely - every moment she was at the school. The tension was greater than she was accustomed to, and she found herself avoiding even her father as she attempted to lose herself in study.
  Science. English. History. It didn't matter. Her quick mind and endless curiosity allowed her to complete the assignments at breakneck speed, and she often retreated to the library to hide her injections - no longer once a day, now many times as many as four! - and to read everything she could get her gloved hands on.
  The drug blocked the need for sleep, for which she was grateful. If she had fallen asleep in a room she shared with others, she would have likely not been able to hide the need for the drug.
  Some secrets were made to be kept. Not even her beloved papa knew of the drug, and Cayanne would rather face Hell itself than he ever discover it. So she kept to the library.
  And largely to herself.

  "Has anyone seen Cayanne today?" Ororo asked, looking out at the class. She was rather surprised at the girl's absence - though enthusiastic and always wanting to question, she did seem to enjoy learning. It was odd that she would not come to class, especially the open discussions class.
  "I saw her earlier." said Brandon, raising his hand. Short and slight, with a wiry build, he was a spectacular athlete and forever competing with Cayanne every time they raced. "She looked a little sick."

  Cayanne was curled in the tree, fists clenched, eyes squeezed shut, hearing nothing but a babble of voices, all knotted into an incomprehensible garble. Images of experiences not her own, sensations amplified by her own senses, surges of crackling sensations burning within her. She pressed her forehead against the bark, dimly aware of the fact it cut into her face.
  The drug wasn't working.
  In a moment of clarity, she realized that she couldn't hold it out anymore. The drug didn't work.
  Agony ripping through her mind in black shafts of lightning, howls of everything surging in her mind, Cayanne snarled in fury. She tilted back her head, staring into the summer sky, and howled in rage.
  The Surge came. She had feared another one as she feared nothing else, but this one blasted consciousness away from her, while leaving her clinging to her own sense of self with ragged claws.

  Cerebro went berserk. There was no other way to describe it. Sirens sounded, the boards fried, and Hank was forced to fling himself over the stunned Xavier to shield him as flying, white-hot metal and the shrieking sound of overload filled the air.
  Reaching desperately with one foot, he was finally able to hit the emergency shutdown lever, but the racket lasted well over half an hour, bringing all the X-Men running.

 Logan found Cayanne in the grips of what looked like a massive seizure. Her smaller frame was actually able to fling him several feet when he tried to restrain her, so violent were the convulsions, but worse was when she bounded to her feet, eyes blazing, an expression somewhere in between rage and pain on her face.
 "Get 'way from me!" she snarled, backing up, fists clenched.
 "Easy, kid." he replied, catching a whiff of - something - as he crouched down, watching her. "Everyone's gettin' worried."
 "Let 'em!" The girl's eyes were burning, feral. Pressed back against the mansion wall, one palm against the stone, she looked ready to bolt in any direction.
 Logan watched her movements, almost unconsciously taking into account the scent and muscle tremors. There was fear in her posture, but more - there was a savage hunger, a need of something she was as yet unable to define. Staying absolutely still, he waited for her to make the next move.
 "Go 'way." she growled, balancing forward on her toes, ready for a spring.
 Logan's posture answered her, as he shifted into saika tanden, letting the nothingness of utter readiness envelop his mind. The berserker within him snarled and lashed at his consciousness, but the calmness held.
 Cayanne squeezed her eyes shut, struggling with the maddening whispers inside her head, the Surge that still flashed and thundered in her blood. Her free hand became a claw as her head tilted back, an agonized, garbled yowl emerging from her strained throat.
  Logan moved forward with blinding speed, catching the girl just as another seizure hit, pitching her into his arms as he moved.

  As Hank examined the unconscious young Cajun, he removed her trenchcoat - and a leather case tumbled from a hidden pocket. Lifting it carefully, he sniffed it, turning to Gambit. "Is Cayanne taking any medication...?" he began.
  "Non." Gambit's expression was one of dawning awareness - followed by a look of deep sadness and concern before he managed to force his expressive features into a mask of expressionless unreadability. He rested a hand on his daughter's unmoving form and whispered, "Oh Cayanne, why you no tell me?"
  The blue-furred mutant looked down at the girl, now pale and still, and took one vial out with extreme care, turning to give Gambit a reassuring look. "I shall test this immediately." Hank said, quietly. "Stay with her, Remy. If she seizes again, call me."
  Gambit held her gloved hand, eyes on her face. "Why you not tell me?" he whispered again, tears in his eyes.

  "It's phenapheraberathen." said Hank, aware of Professor Xavier's startled look. "It's a powerful sleep-deprivant and often used to suppress mutant abilities."
  Gambit's expression was one of complete disbelief. "Cayanne been drugging herself so she no sleep?" he sputtered, horrified.
  "It would seem so." Hank's expression was concerned. "Normally, 1cc would cause a mutant's abilities to remain either non-manifested, or operate at extremely low power. It was developed by the military, in the hopes of...ummm...."
  "Keepin' the mutants from ever bein' able to use their powers." No-one had heard Logan come in.
  "Well, yes." Hank looked uncomfortable. "But it had rather severe side effects...."
  "Side effects?" Gambit stared at him. "What side effect' it have?"
  "Sleeplessness, intense pain, migraines..." Hank took a deep breath. "It only holds the mutant gene from "activating" for a brief period of time, perhaps a year or so, sometimes past puberty. It is highly addictive, extremely dangerous, and takes time to be flushed from the tissues. I've started her on emphenol and a high-sugar drip, since she is badly dehydrated."
  "Emphenol?" demanded Gambit, eyes narrowed.
  "It's a stabilizing medication I created to ease the activation of the mutant gene." He looked concerned. "She has already begun the manifestation process, the drug had only managed to slow it down."
  "Gambit stay here with her." It was a statement. He gathered his daughter to him. "I un'erstand, ma petit. You rest now." his voice was soft. "Papa here."

  Cayanne woke only when different body parts began to report in insistently. She had braced herself for the pain and confusion that had been her unrelenting companions these last days - but instead, there was only a distant sense of mental "static" and an almost-numb sensation throughout her body.
  It took several seconds for her to realize she was leaning against her father's shoulder, listening to the reassuring sound of his heartbeat. Opening her eyes discreetly, she glanced around her.
  Gambit was asleep, face looking down at her. Noticing his ever-present trenchcoat, the girl realized with horror that her own was on a coathanger against the wall, not around her.
   The drug, they found the drug. she thought, numbly. Part of her wanted to cry, and she snarled furiously at it. This is no time to fall apart, dammit!
"Mornin', mon têtu petit ange." Gambit's eyes were open, watching her.
  "Papa, I..." Cayanne swallowed despite herself. "Cayanne not tell you....not tell you because...I was si honteux!" she whispered. Her eyes closed, turned away slightly. "Could not tell anyone, de drug, after a few times, needed it. Tried to stop, just made me horrible sick." She clenched her gloved hand, laughed humorously. "Cajun pathetic suis moi, eh, Papa?"
  Gambit took her face gently in his hands. "You do best you can, mon peu d'amour." The tall mutant's voice was uncharacteristically soft. "I not hold any of this against you. You trust your Papa next time, okay? Never be afraid o' Gambit."
   "T'ank you, Papa." Cayanne rested her cheek against his trenchcoat, hugging him tightly as she felt him embrace her.  Her voice dropped to an emotion-laden whisper. "I love you."
  Of Cayanne's class, most were seventeen or eighteen, and were largely unaware of a younger girl. Only Liam, who was just now learning to control his entropic ability that left him looking almost like a corpse; and Zane, who was able to control the elements; maintained relationships with the younger girl.
  However, they were tentative things. She recognized them. They did not know her - but that was as it should be. After all, she had been very careful to make sure that the group they belonged to rarely saw her. But then, they ate lunch together, were in study group together, but while Cayanne was always encouraging and friendly, she was also slow to show her inner emotions, hesitant to talk about her past.
  Thus her week's illness did not seem overly notable, though Liam and Zane visited twice, sitting and chatting after delivering her homework and assignments.
  Cayanne sat Indian-style, pencil busy, as she wrote out notes from a borrowed physics book. It was a fascinating idea, that so much could be explained by mathematics  - but she wasn't fooled. Nothing so devoid of feeling ruled the world's nature. It was a fun subject - not as fun as English or Philosophy - but a lot of fun.
  What frustrated her was the fact that she felt like the book ended so far short. Three books from the library had filled in some of the blanks, but she felt like there was so much more she wanted to know.
  So she read. Constantly. On everything.
  "I couldn't stand reading half that stuff." observed Zane, when he and Liam came to visit. He ran a hand through his white-blonde hair, then shook his head. "But I'm not much of a reader."
  Liam blinked, then smiled tentatively. He had several books tucked under his arm, and carefully placed them on the foot of the bed.
  "If they finish de damn things I' feel better about dem." grumbled Cayanne, tossing another book into the "read" pile.
  Zane grinned. "You think to much." he observed.
  "Cayanne may t' ink too much 'bout this, but when need to, let my instincts guide me."

  "Incredible." said Hank, softly, staring at the latest blood-test from Cayanne. "The genetic sequence is changing - I've never seen anything like this."
  Xavier regarded the DNA strands with an expert eye. "This should be impossible." He shook his head. "The mutation rate is actually speeding up. RNA carriers are beginning to be produced at five times the normal rate, and accelerating."
  Hank nodded, resting a clawed finger absently against his chin. "Her system is stabilizing, Charles." he said, quietly. "Incredibly efficient. No fatigue toxins, no sign of aging - or the capacity for it. Charles, we may be looking at true immortality. Her system is immune to disease, toxins - I think that's why the phenapheraberathen worked for such a brief time on her. It simply couldn't keep up with her capacity to regenerate." He regarded Xavier a moment, then continued,  "I have a feeling that there is much more to her mutation. In fact, it seems as though she is an - evolutionary step beyond mutants, Charles. Something totally new. A - metamutant, if you will."

Translations from the Cajun (French):

mon sauvage petit ange   -    my wild little angel
mon têtu petit ange           -    my obstinate little angel
si honteux                           -    so ashamed
Cajun pathetic suis moi   -    a pathetic Cajun am I
mon peu d'amour              -     my little love

Next Chapter

<Other Stories By Rhiannon>

Return To The Archive