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Amelia Voght moved slowly through the metal corridors of Avalon. It was quite an unusual thing for her to do, but her errand was an unusual one. And, anyway, it gave her time to think, which she needed.

The strange transmission had caused her great uneasiness of mind. Judging from the sender, it was not going to be good news. She only hoped that it would not be cause for another fight.

Their forces, at present, were greatly weakened from the battle over New York. The Kleinstock brothers and Uniscone were still handicapped, and though she hated to admit it, they were an important part of the team.

There were, of course, the New Acolytes, but they were still children: inexperienced and eager. Almost too eager. That eagerness could get them into trouble some day. Going with them into a battle would be suicide, even with their more experienced counterparts with them. Although some of them were pretty promising...

In their present condition, how could they turn away any forces from Earth? Even Magneto's leadership would do them no good. Any resistance would be futile.

There were times when she wondered why she continued with this, and she knew that the same question haunted all the mutants on Avalon, even Magneto himself. This dream seemed so futile, so doomed to failure, so hopeless. While on Earth, other mutants, and another dream, seemed to be flourishing...

It was not as if there were no other alternative. They might still join the other side, return to Earth, and finally go home. But Magneto would never do so, no matter how much he yearned to, and they would follow Magneto, and Magneto only.

Amelia was strong. But she knew that, deep inside, she was too old, too set in her ways, to ever change them, even for the sake of others. It might not be too late for the young ones, though...

She suddenly started from her contemplation. Without realising it, she had been standing outside her destination for quite some time now, just standing there and thinking. She could never get used to walking, not while she could teleport; it always surprised her on how fast walking was. She stepped up to the door and watched as they parted.

The room she entered was fairly simple: just the minimal of furniture, a lone computer terminal and a few plants for minimal aesthetic purposes. There were no unnecessary frills; no pictures, no photographs, nothing to hint at its occupant's past. The room was cloaked in darkness, with only the light of far-off stars illuminating the black shroud.

He was still there; standing at the viewing port, staring out into the vast void that was space. But perhaps it was not space that he gazed at, but the heavenly body from which he had come from; and longed to return to.

He had been in that position every time she had come to see him, for the past few days: his red armour glinting in the Earth's light, his white mane no longer framing a face of power and supremacy. But instead, it was a face filled with dispirit and pain. Pain, and loss.

He realised her presence; that she was certain of, but he kept still, remained silent, and he waited.

Amelia appraised him slowly. He had been a changed man since those days; those days when he was a master indeed, when he had reigned unchallenged, untouched. That is, until the defeat in New York. Since then, he seemed a different man altogether; a fallen, defeated man.

He had elected to play a waiting game, while he awaited the recovery of his Acolytes from their previous battle. Amelia had expected him to take the waiting in his stride as time passed by, but the opposite was true. He had fallen in, taken to being even more of a loner than before. As if he knew that theirs was a hopeless cause, and had given up.

Amelia hoped he had not. Without him, the Acolytes, even Avalon, would fall apart.

Amelia decided that it was time she officially made her presence known. " There is an incoming message for you."

" Charles?"

His voice was still the same forceful, and commanding one she remembered, but was still somehow different. She could not put her finger on it just as yet. Then again, why had he asked? Had he been expecting a transmission from Charles? She said nothing about it though.

" No," this was the disturbing part and Amelia braced herself for his possible reactions.

" It is from the Friends of Humanity."

The name was enough. He turned around and faced her for the first time since she had entered. His dark eyes bored into hers and she shrank back at the intensity of the emotion in them; at their pain.

" I shall receive it here Amelia; alone" His voice grew stronger, without ( she realised it now) the former lack of life.

I think he's almost back to normal, she thought wryly. And Amelia Voght nodded and answered him.

" Yes, Magneto."


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