The Hunts: Part 1

by Indy

Disclaimer: Jubilee and the X-Men (plus the Guilds) all belong to Marvel. I・ve just borrowed them for a little bit before returning them, safe and sound. If you want to sue, go ahead: I・m broke.

This is an Elseworlds story, so nothing is like the mainstream universe. The character・s are still the ones you know and love...just changed. You・ll sit back and enjoy, folks. Any comments (bad or good) are welcomed, since I・m basically a novice. :)

・Please,・ the young woman begged, sobbing, ・ya gotta help me! My baby・s been kidnapped! Ah do anythin・ ta get my baby back!・

The hooded figure stood before her, crystal blue eyes the only thing visible in the dark depths of the green hood. The person eyed the woman, a journeyman Rogue warrior, with compassion.

The sorceress stepped forward and lifted the Rogue off her knees. ・There, child,・ the woman・s soft voice said soothingly, ・I will do what I can. Now, tell me what has happened to your babe.・

Hiccuping, the Rogue wiped her eyes and ran her hands through her brown hair, the white streak announcing her rank. All journeyman were branded in that way, the streak changing colors as they moved higher up the scale.

・Thank you, Lady Jubilation!・ she cried out, clutching the sorceress・s hands in hers. The eyes behind the hood winced slightly, and knew why this one had gone into the Rogue・s in the first place. ・Ah was on leave, due ta Charles bein・ born an・ all, an・ I was gettin・ restless. So Ah left my baby with the nurse an・ went inta town. When Ah got back, the house was a mess! Ah bolted for Charles・ room, but it was too late.・ Fresh tears rolled down her face, her green eyes bloodshot. ・My baby was gone!・

The eyes hardened as Jubilation Lee heard the tale. This woman was not the first frantic parent to go to a wizard or sorceress, wanting their baby back. The Blood Mage・s were on a rampage, stealing babe・s from unsuspecting mother・s and nurses.

・Was there a note?・ she asked, pacing the floor, her robes fluttering in the soft breeze that came from her open windows.

・Yes, but it vanished right after Ah read it! It said that my baby was bein・ given the utmost privilege by helpin・ them become powerful, or somethin・ like that.・

・Was it signed?・

・No, ma・am.・

Sighing, the High Sorceress turned towards the weeping woman and clasped her hands. ・Listen to me, I will do all I can but I cannot promise anything. You are not the first to have their babe stolen away.・


・Yes, there have been numerous other cases, though you are the first to make it to *my* door since I came back from over the sea. I will do all I can to help for little Charles.・

・Thank you,・ the Rogue murmured, ・my husband and I thank you.・

・I am sorry I cannot promise more,・ Jubilation replied, ・but I will send up a prayer for you and the Senator Leshnerr.・

・How did--・

A small smile slowly bloomed. ・I have my ways about knowing the people who pass through my door. Good day, child.・

When the oak doors closed quietly, Jubilation breath a sigh of relief and threw back her hood. Long, thick black hair that was tied up in an intricate braid fell to her waist, free from the confines of the hood. Her face was slender, with Chinese heritage making her look almost fragile. But there was iron underneath that slim and wiry body.

Iron that had made her the youngest ever Master Sorceress at the age of twenty-three. There were five in total, she being one. The others were the Sorceress Ororo Munroe, the Wizard Xavier, Sorceress Amanda Sefton, and finally Sorceress Monet St. Croix. Of course, the legend of the first Master Wizard, Stephen Strange, lived on decades after his death, giving all magic wielders hope in dark times.

For Jubilation, it had all started when she was eight and the Hunts first started. Hunts, the barbaric way the Blood Mages used to find people with the Gift and taking them into their own ranks, warping them to their cause. Tearing them at a tender age from their families, and then slaughtering the witnesses.

Those dark forces, led by the orders from Blood Mage Sinister, had tried to do that to a young and petrified Jubilation. She had resisted and had seen her family murdered and tortured before her. Blind rage filled her then, and she tapped into the very same power she had been Hunted for. In the end, the maelstrom of power had completely obliterated her home and the invaders.

She had been found by the Wolverine, the oldest man alive. He had the ability to become a Master Wizard, but had decided to stay with his people as a mere Hedge Wizard.

He had become her only family and it was through his training that she had reached her status so quickly.

A soft cry brought her back to the present and she looked down to see her familiar, an orange tabby, sitting by her feet.

・Well, that went well,・ the cat remarked, albeit sarcastically.

・Oh shut up, Sean,・ she sighed, rolling her eyes. Gathering her robe about her, she left the main room and ascended the staircase to her private chambers. Sean followed close behind.

・Lass, that wee thing is almost as old as ye!・ he grumbled. ・Child! Bah.・

・When I was first told I would be getting a familiar,・ she remarked, throwing open her workshop door, ・I never imagined I would be getting an Irish, back-talking, sarcastic cat.・

Sean sniffed in denial. ・I・m good fer ye.・

・That・s what my mother always said about that nasty medicine she force fed me as a child. I do believe that stuff stunted my growth.・ She stopped before a large, oval mirror and muttered a few words. The air fizzed and popped with restrained energy and then the mirror began to glow.

・Off ta the Council?・

・Yes, this must stop now.・ Her eyes went cold and her jaw tightened. ・I think it・s the beginning of another Hunt.・

Sean stopped cleaning his tail and looked up at his mistress. ・Are ye sure about tha・?・

・One can never be sure when dealing with Sinister,・ she answered, tightening the belt on her medieval dress. ・However, this rash disappearance of babes would be his style.・

・But their nae old enough ta be tested!・

・That・s what has me worried,・ she murmured, before stepping through the mirror-turned-portal.

On the other side...

Sorceress Ororo Munroe glanced up from her garden as the antique mirror began to glow. A simple wave of her hand, and her white robe・s were free from the dirt that had just been clinging to them.

An imposing woman, Ororo was tall and slender, her stunning white hair an odd contrast to her youthful looks and dark skin. Blue eyes, almost cat-like, had been known to freeze the unwary where they stood.

A smile appeared on her face as she watched Jubilation step through. It quickly died, however, when she saw the expression on her friend・s face. She stepped forward, careful not to step on any of her precious plants and held out her arms.

・Jubilation,・ Ororo said softly, embracing the younger woman, ・it has been too long. I take it your trip to see the Wolverine went well?・

・Yes, Wolvie・s just as ornier as ever, and doesn・t look a day over forty.・ Sighing, she grimaced. ・We need to go to the Council Room right away. Another babe has been kidnapped.・

・Another one? When will this stop?!・

The two women began the walk to the Council Room, their soft voices echoing off of the cold, stone walls and floor. On their way, they passed the room commonly called the ・Danger Room・, where new and unstable spells were cast. Another door held the War Room, where voices could be heard shouting at each other.

・Who is it this time?・ Jubilation murmured, nodding at the door.

・The Summers clan.・

・Ah, that time of the year is it?・

・I do believe they are arguing about what to do about Maddie.・

A scowl crossed Jubilation・s face as they hurried past the room. ・That Blood Sorceress,・ she hissed. ・That woman should be cast back into the depths of Limbo, where she belongs. Let the Gatekeeper play with Sinister・s mistress a little while.・

・I do not know who would win, Illyana or Maddie.・

They came upon two huge doors made of wood and marble and fused with Wizard・s Fire. Engraved upon those doors were sacred words, protecting those inside from harm. They opened slowly as Ororo and Jubilation approached and closed silently behind them.

The table in the room took up much of the space, it too made of marble and wood and infused with sacred spells. At the head of the table sat Wizard Xavier in his moveable chair. Long ago, a spell gone awry had cost him the use of his legs and he was forever bound to that chair. Now completely bald, again, a spell gone awry in his youth, he wore golden robes with blue inscriptions. He is the oldest of the five, and therefore the Head of the Council of Wizards.

Next to him sat Sorceress Monet St. Croix, a high-born Princess. She had a haughty beauty around her, and Jubilation secretly thought that her nose had to have been pointed upwards from birth. Her light purple robes shimmered in the Mage Lights as she moved gracefully, arguing with Xavier.

Sitting directly across from her sat Sorceress Amanda Sefton, wife of Lord Kurt Wagner, a nobleman and a knight known throughout the realms. A pleasant woman, now heavy with her first child, she and Jubilation were close friends. Her robes were a mired of colors, yellow, red, and silver, that look like a rainbow when she moved.

Xavier looked up from his discussion and waved the other two to take their seats. Clearing his throat, he gazed at the others and said, ・We have a situation on our hands. Babe・s are being stolen right from their own homes, and our junior wizards, such as young Paige Gurthrie and Jonathan Starsmore, are being swamped with pleas for help.・

Amanda shifted slightly, her hands straying to her full belly with a look of worry marring her face. Jubilation reached over and squeezed her hand gently, and smiled comfortingly.

Ororo spoke up. ・What can we do? We know not the cause, so how can we have a solution?・

Jubilation just stared and then sat up straighter. ・Haven・t you figured it out yet?・ she demanded, gripping the chair・s arms with clenched fists.

・Figured what out?・ Monet said snidely, studying her nails.

・The Hunts have started again,・ she finished dully, folding her hands in her lap. ・Sinister is back.・

A stunned silence fell upon the room as they absorbed what she had told them. Xavier was the first one to speak.

・How can you tell, Jubilation?・ he asked softly, running the idea through his mind. ・These children are too young to be tested and the witnesses are not being killed, like he has done before.・

Impatiently, Jubilation pushed out of her chair and began to pace, her robes fluttering with her distress. ・Sinister is not a fool,・ she told them, her eyes flashing. ・He knows that he cannot do what he did last time, it would be to obvious. When I was visiting the Wolverine, Amanda was sending me reports of what was happening here. I studied them, read them over and looked for a pattern.・

Monet leaned forward. ・But these children are completely different from each other!・ she protested. ・Different backgrounds, sexes, ages even. Nothing in common!・

Crossing her arms under her chest, she studied her colleagues. ・Nothing but the fact that in their near lineage there have been magic users, yet their parents were bereft of the Gift.・ The color drained out of everyone・s faces. ・We all know that magic has a tendency to skip a generation. My parents didn・t have the gift, but their parents did. It・s not always that way. If two magic users married and bore children, there would be a very good chance of an exceptionally strong magic user being born. Even if only *one* of the parents had the Gift, the baby might still be a Mageling, depending upon how strong that particular parent was. But as you have noticed, no Magelings have been taken. All the babes have been taken from barren parents.・

Amanda gasped. ・Oh my God--which means the babes *might* be skippers! The power he would have--training them from birth.・

Jubilation・s face contorted with rage. ・Ultimate power and ultimate adoration. Nothing・s worse than a fanatic, and that・s what he・s going to turn them into.・

Ororo leaned back, chin in hand. ・Hmmm--obviously, Sinister is not using his ・Marauders・, like last time. Who would he be using?・

・The Assassins Guild,・ Xavier said quietly, going even paler. ・It would make sense, there being no bodies, no blood and most of the babes are taken without anyone even knowing.・

Jubilation sat down again, rage in her eyes. ・He must be stopped. I will not see another Hunt happen, ever.・

Ororo rose, gathering her robes about her as if to ward off a chill. ・I will go speak with the Oracle,・ she announced. ・If anyone knows what to do, it will be Jean.・ She turned and quietly left the chamber.

Monet, as well rose. ・I will go and do more research on the families. And then send out the word to others.・

And with that she was gone as well.

Jubilation, stood up slowly. ・I will go and try to enlist the help of the Thieves Guild.・

Xavier gave her an odd look. ・Why would they be willing to help us?・

・The two Guilds have been fighting for all eternity, nearly. If we put a stop to Sinister, we put a stop to the Assassins Guild. At least for the time being. I have a gut feeling that the King of Thieves would be willing to help us out.・

Amanda interrupted. ・But he・s so hard to find. Not even Xavier can find him without time, and we don・t have much of that.・

・I have my ways,・ Jubilation responded, gathering her cloak about her. She gave her colleagues an secretive smile, and then turned and left the Council Room, heading back to the mirror.

Tonight, she had much to plan in the safety of her house, behind the thick walls and even thicker wards she had placed upon it. For a small section of herself wondered if she could even trust her comrades and friends.

She wondered if she could trust those that had become her family.

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