X-Men: Reimagined

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction & Films' started by bored, Nov 29, 2004.

  1. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    before i get started, i'd just like to mention that i put some of this on www.insomniacmania.com, at zee_zack's urging, and it has been recieved extremely well. also, this is the 100th post on this thread (and not all of them have been mine! :p ). now, who'd like some more XM:R?


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    PART 4


    "Where are you going?"

    Please don't be talking to me, Logan thought.

    "Logan, what are you doing?" Ororo asked.

    Dammit!

    "I've got something personal to take care of, Ororo," Logan said.

    "And you're going in full uniform to deal with it?" she pressed. "Plus, you're taking Forge and Nightcrawler, and going in the jet? That's where you're heading."

    "It might be a little trouble, so I'm taking them for back-up," Logan explained. He knew where she was going with this.

    "I can probably help." That was what he'd been expecting her to say. Logan sighed. "Logan, what's wrong?"

    "Ororo, don't worry about me," he said. "I can handle myself, and if things get out of hand for any reason, which they very well may not, Forge and Kurt will be there." He looked at her face. "That doesn't do it for you, does it?"

    "Logan, you know I'm going to be concerned about you," Ororo explained. "If anything is going to work between us, I can't just be expected to sit back and 'not worry'."

    "Guess not," Logan sighed again. "Fine, suit up and get to the jet." She did as told. It was her that so much wanted something to 'work between them', but she was getting pushy. Logan remembered what she'd told him in Colorado, before the Brood attack, and relaxed a little. The girl may not have wanted to admit how insecure she was, like some of the others, but she still was, and for that, he could cut her slack.

    Forge, on the other hand, made a faint whip-cracking sound to Kurt, as they eavesdropped on their friend.



    Still scanning for various things on Cerebro, as he sometimes did, Professor Xavier stopped for a moment while trying to reach far out. Some presence disturbed him greatly, though he couldn't tell what it was. Whatever it was, it came from Northern Africa. He checked the news that night for any possible mutant activity in the region, but there was none mentioned. Whatever he had sensed, it was new, and felt very wrong.
     
  2. The Squirrel Le Rongeur

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    appocolyspe is rising.
     
  3. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Gambit walked along the edge of the road. His red eyes scanned for her. The girl would be waiting somewhere, on this little dirt road outside of El Paso. Two stones skidded past his feet. He started humming "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot". After a few moments, the girl emerged. She was young and attractive, much more so than Remy Lebeau remembered.

    "Anna, that you, cherie?" He asked.

    "Course it is, sugar," she answered. She hurried to him, wrapped her arms around his neck, and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I been waitin' a long time for you to come back."

    "Nobody saw you leave, right?" Gambit asked.

    "Everyone was asleep," she said, trying not to giggle. It was then that Gambit remembered that the girl was only 16. Her power made her deadly to all, and thus she was usually shut off from the world. Her abusive uncle whom she'd been forced to live with had been killed two year earlier by a mysterious thief from New Orleans who had come to town on business of some sort. Since then, she had been living in a group home, where she kept mostly to herself, thinking about the man who had helped her. When her powers first took effect, around that time, he was, for reasons she didn't know, able to touch her.

    "Well, come on, we've got a flight to catch," Gamit said. "You excited, Anna, goin' rogue like this?"

    "Yeah, Remy, you bet I am," she answered. "Especially with you helpin' me out."

    "Soon it won't just be me," he said. "You'll like my new crew, I think. Now, let's hurry."

    "Hey!" It was the man who's wife ran the group home. "Who the hell are you?"

    "Pleased to make your acquaintance," Gambit said. His lip curled into the Elvis-look that he put on to charm strangers. "I'm Remy Lebeau."

    "What're you doing with Anna, Mr. Lebeau?"

    "Relocatin' her, if you don't mind," he answered.

    "Yes, I do mind!" the man snapped. "You want to adopt her, you've got to go through a lot of paperwork. This is kidnapping."

    "Is it?" Gambit play-asked. "Anna, you bein' kidnapped?"

    "Of course not," she said. She brushed off the shock of white hair that streaked down through her otherwise brunette-head and over her face when she let it grow too long, and smiled. "I'm just leavin' with an old friend."

    "Not like this!" snapped the house-manager's husband. "Sir, leave now or I will get the police!"

    "No, no you won't," Gambit said. He reached down, and scooped up a small rock.

    "You're going to get violent?"

    "Only if I have to," replied Gambit.

    "Don't test me," the man said. "I've got more than a rock for you if you do." He pulled a gun from the wasteband of his pants.

    "Oh I am ever-so-frightened," Gambit mocked.

    "Put the gun away," Anna said, suddenly. "He can really hurt you."

    "With a rock? Sure!" the man raised his gun. He didn't even notice the glow that was coming from the rock as it rested in Remy Lebeau's hand. Gambit chucked it at him, and it exploded on the man's chest on impact. Anna put her hand over her mouth as she looked at the poor man's dying body.

    "He was warned," Gambit said. Anna nodded in agreement, and the two ran off.




    Wolverine led Forge, Storm, and Nightcrawler into the Alpha Flight primary headquarters. Nothing seemed wrong with it at all.

    "This is too perfect," Forge whispered. "Not a scratch anywhere on this place, everyone's doing fine... What's going on here? You could very well be getting a surprise birthday party here, Logan." Wolverine paid no mind to the comment. He sniffed the air.

    "These people are afraid," he whispered back. "Not of us. Its been this way for a while."

    "Logan, you brought friends!" came Jim Hudson's voice.

    "Hey Jim," Logan said, apprehensively. "You seem to be in better spirits today."

    "Yeah, um.." Hudson paused, searching for an explanation. "There was a bomb threat. I was hoping you could come in, kind of quietly, and take care of it, but we were able to handle it."

    "Bomb threat? Here?" Logan asked. "With this place's security? Jim, what aren't you telling me?"

    "Well, Professor How-- ow, ow!" Hudson paused. "Professor Gigot had disabled the security system for a little while to work on it. We figured we'd be alright, but someone managed to sneak a real head-scratcher into the basement."

    Logan raised an eyebrow.

    "Really messed with your head that it got in there so fast, huh?" he asked.

    "Yeah! It was crazy!" Jim replied. "And something in me just said 'Call Logan, he could help', so I did, but now I don't know if it was really the best idea. Sorry to have bothered you like that, and your friends too."

    "Well, why don't you go tell the old crew that I'm visiting?" Logan suggested. "I wouldn't mind seeing 'em all again."

    "I'll go and do that," Hudson said. He walked off, to the elevator that would take him to the main strike-force's training gym, where Logan's former teammates would likely be.

    Logan's eyes darted around.

    "Everyone, we need to go outside for a minute," he said. He led them out.

    "What is it?" Storm asked.

    "There's a telepath loose in that building," Logan explained. "A dangerous one, who I personally had to capture a ways back. He must have been able to grab someone's head and have them let him out of his holding cell. That's what happens when you don't follow safety procedure. Jim and I were speaking in code. He could hear us, but I bet he wasn't able to tap into our heads like he wanted."

    "Who?" Storm asked.

    "Brian Howlett, a scientist," Wolverine answered. "He's got an unusual form of telepathy which only works inside the building he's in. No clue where it comes from, but its why we're safe out here. We're lucky he let you guys out. Me, he can't hurt, and I don't know why."

    "Odd," Forge said, looking back to the door. "Could he read our minds in there?"

    "Stretching his power out over this place like he is?" Logan observed. "Doubtful. But he can still hear us talk in there. And he can send mental attacks to any of you."

    "He almost told us," Storm said. "That was what hurt him."

    "He shouldn't have slipped like that," Logan said. "Now come on, we need to be waiting in there for Jim when he gets back."



    Inside the elevator, James Hudson slumped to the floor.

    "I'm sorry!" he cried. "I really didn't mean to say anything about you!"

    Don't do it again!, a voice inside Hudson's head yelled. Now, I can't waste my time giving you special attention, can I? I like to hear what people are saying. The voice went away. Hudson got back up, and left the elevator to find the members of the Alpha Flight strike force.
     
  4. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Hudson returned a short while later with the Alpha Flight in tow. Puck, Northstar, Aurora, Snowbird, Box, Diamond Lil, and Talisman came out of the crowded elevator with him.

    "Did anyone see Walt?" Jean-Paul 'Northstar' Beaubier asked. Another elevator opened.

    "Forgetting someone?" Walter 'Sasquatch' Langowski asked.

    "Relax, Walt," Jim Hudson said. "There wasn't room for you."

    "Hell, there was hardly room for us!" Diamond Lil complained. "I knew we should've had someone carry Puck on their shoulders."

    "Only if you wanted to do it, honey," Puck said.

    "Same old Alpha Flight," Logan smiled.

    "Logan!" cried Snowbird. She embraced her former colleague before noticing his fellow X-Men. "Hello." She shook all of their hands, lingering briefly on Nightcrawler.

    "Um, hello?" he said, nervously.

    "Care to introduce us?" Storm asked Wolverine.

    "Oh, right," Logan muttered. "Well guys, this is Snowbird. You met Jim Hudson already. Last I checked, he went by the name 'Guardian'."

    "And I still do," Hudson assured.

    "Those two, the twins, they're Jean-Paul and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier, Northstar and Aurora; Walt Langowski, the late-guy, they call him Sasquatch; shorty is Eugene Judd, Puck; that's Diamond Lil Jeffries, and her husband, Madison, or Box."

    "Or 'whipped'," Puck cracked.

    "Yeah, of course, midget," Logan teased. "Lastly, is Liz Twoyoungman, or Talisman."

    "Twoyoungman? Didn't I see that on the Spi-" Puck tried to say. "Ow!" Talisman smacked him before he could finish.

    "Never took your little act on the road, eh Eugene?" Logan asked. "Anyway, before Puck can talk again, Alpha Flight, X-Men; X-Men, Alpha Flight. My fellow X-Men here are Kurt Wagner, Nightcrawler, Forge Pa- hey!"

    "Don't say it," Forge groaned.

    "His last name is Patterson," Logan smiled. "He doesn't think it's dignified enough."

    "Nope," Forge groaned, again.

    "And who's the lady?" Walt Langowski asked.

    "I'm Ororo Monroe," Storm said. "When I'm dressed like this, they call me Storm."

    "I'll tell you where the storm is," Puck said. Storm created a whirlwind, knocking him away.

    "Care for a quick tour?" Hudson asked them. Wolverine eyed him, strangely.

    "Sure," Storm said. "Lead the way."
     
  5. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    "DESIST."

    "Bite me!" Marrow shouted. She held a boney spear in one hand, and the other was balancing on a rock she'd crouched upon. The Sentinel raised its palm. In the split-second it took for the hole for its gun to open, Marrow hurled the bone like a javelin into the Sentinel's palm barrel. It lodged firmly inside, and when the Sentinel tried to blast her, smoke started pouring out. The robot's arm shook.

    "Sara, move!" Shadowcat shouted. She stood off with Colossus and Pyro. The four young X-Men were in the middle of the Serengeti, confronting wave after wave of Sentinels. The last one standing insisted on trying to blast Marrow.

    "Let him squirm," Marrow laughed. "Dumb robot."

    "DESIST."

    "I hurt his feelings!" She called.

    "Sara, finish him off or move!" Pyro yelled. "Give him too much time and he'll think of another way to attack."

    "Not at this rate!"

    "Come on, guys," Pyro said. He jogged out towards the rock where Marrow had perched herself. The Sentinel's hand caught on fire. It shut off the gun, lowered the burning hand, and raised the other one. Marrow started working on another spear. Before she could do it, the Sentinel aimed and fired. Pyro lept out and knocked her out of the way. The blast narrowly missed him. He focused on the fire from the Sentinel's other arm, and started frying the circuits from its friend hand. The fire started covering the robot. Colossus grabbed it by the ankle, and heaved it across the plain. The scenery began to ripple, and became the Danger Room.

    "Nice save, Aussie," Marrow said. She grabbed Pyro around the waste. "You can tackle me like that anytime." Pyro's eyes widened.

    Sara, if you must do that, please save it for later, when class is not in session, Xavier said, watching from the observation booth. Iceman simply tried not to watch.

    "She's certainly opening up with him around," Bobby Drake groaned. Xavier eyed him. "That wasn't a double entendre. Oh, just grade them!"



    "So what's the deal with you and John?" Kitty asked, waiting in the hall for Sara to come out.

    "What?" Sara asked. "I was flirting a little, big deal."

    "That's a first for you," Kitty said.

    "I had a boyfriend when I was in the tunnels," Sara pointed out.

    "A real jerk, right?"

    "Kitty, what's the problem?" Sara asked. "It isn't like you don't flirt with Piotr."

    "I'm not saying it's a bad thing," Kitty said. "He's cute. I'm glad you're getting so confident."

    "Yeah, I guess," Sara replied. "I don't really think he likes me, though."

    "Well, maybe you've a little more work to do."



    Professor Xavier left the Cerebro chamber, and found Iceman, Angel, and Psylocke waiting for him.

    "How're the guys in Canada?" Bobby asked.

    "It's hard to tell," Xavier answered. "I'm worried. I can't get a clear reading on anyone. I can barely make out Wolverine's thought pattern."

    "Do you think they're okay?" Angel asked.

    "From reading Wolverine as best I could, yes," Xavier said, heading through the hall. The others turned to follow him. "But he is concerned. I'm going to spend a lot more time on Cerebro until he and the others return. Bobby, you are in charge when I am down here. I start monitering them tonight. First, dinner."

    "I thought you were second in command already," Warren whispered.

    "You know what he means," Bobby replied.

    As they walked on towards the end of the hall and the elevator, Warren stopped in his tracks. His wings started closing themselves all the way, which he hadn't been able to do in days.

    "Ah!" he cried.

    "Warren, what's wrong," Xavier asked, turning his chair around.

    "Cramps!" he growled. "Ah, dammit!" He sank to his knees. Betsy crouched down by him.

    "Warren, are you okay?" she asked.

    "Been better," he answered, cringing.

    "Betsy, get him to the infirmary," Xavier ordered.

    Betsy helped Warren to his feet. His wings twitched as he moved. One of them briefly extended. Warren screamed in pain, and Betsy winced as it brushed her arm.

    "Warren, your wings are sharp as a knife," she said, examining her arm. A gash began to drip blood.

    "Bobby, call Hank," Xavier ordered. "I think the team in Canada will have to wait a few more hours."



    Wolverine looked around. Everyone on the lower training level smelled just as scared of something as the lobby did.

    "Logan," Talisman whispered. "Logan, he's down on this level somewhe-- ahh!!" She sank to the floor, her hands on her head.

    "Liz!" Jim 'Guardian' Hudson cried. She moaned, and writhed on the floor. Everyone backed away. Blood began seeping from Talisman's eyes, as vessels inside burst.

    "Somebody help her!" Aurora shrieked.

    "Let her go, Howlett!" Wolverine roared. Talisman stopped moving for a moment. Then, her now red eyes opened, and she started to talk.

    "You should be glad you came," she spoke, in a monotonous voice that could not have been her own. "Any longer, and I'd have gotten impatient. Maybe just start offing them one by one. For now, I'll stick with her. The others should consider themselves lucky." Talisman went back to writhing on the ground for a moment.

    "Northstar, Aurora, comb around for him," Hudson ordered. "Stay on comm with me. If he messes with you, scream." He removed his jacket, and revealed the red and white Guardian costume underneath. As he reached for his mask, he dropped to the ground. "How cute." His voice was as flat as Talisman's before her attack. He laughed a cold, frightening laugh, and fell to the ground, foam pouring out of his mouth. Wolverine popped his claws.

    "Everyone, get out," he commanded. "I've got someone to gut."

    Everyone stood for a moment, gaping at the limp bodies of two of Alpha Flight's members on the ground.

    "Go!"
     
  6. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    The wind blew across the Hudson River, chilling the night in New York City. Increasingly bored, Magneto got back into the RV that he'd arrived in, and watched the feed from the camera back on Avalon monitoring the comatose Jason 'Mastermind' Wyngarde.

    "Bathroom's fixed!"

    Magneto jumped as Toad burst out of the lavatory.

    "If we had actually paid for this vehicle, it would have cost a fortune," Magneto grumbled. "All the armor shieldings, the scramblers, the mental blocking like in my helmet, the plasma tv that you insisted upon! And the bathroom malfunctions!"

    "Boss, I wasn't feeling well, it got stuck, it happens," Toad reassured.

    "Do you know how powerful that toilet is supposed to be?" Magneto put his forehead on his palm. "Is the refrigerator functioning correctly?"

    "Yeah."

    "Excellent." Magneto pulled out a bottle of bourbon. "Ordinarily I wouldn't drink while working, but at this rate we'll never work!"

    "Dominic called while you were out," Toad said.

    "Why didn't you tell me this before?" Magneto asked.

    "Didn't know if you'd care."

    "Mortimer..." Magneto started. He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence. "Why are we in an over-equipped motor home?"

    "We couldn't bring the Orb," Toad explained, referencing the Brotherhood's preferred method of transport. "Victor said these things were handy for stake-outs."

    "We shouldn't need a stake-out," Magneto said. "These mutants live in tunnels. What more is there to it?"

    "This is New York City," Toad replied. "There are lots of tunnels. It'd take days, even if we all spread out." Magneto sighed.

    "What did Dominic want?"

    "He was just checking in, asking if anyone else had seen those subterranean mutants. He hadn't."

    "Do you know if Remy and his little girl-friend are on their way?" Magneto asked.

    "Give 'em another hour or so, and they ought to be in town," Toad replied.

    "And how long before they can get here?"

    "Well, they're flying into La Guardia-"

    "Dammit!"



    Hank McCoy examined his former colleague, Warren Worthington. He had been analyzing the occasional fallen feather, feeling how strong and sharp they had become.

    "I was skeptical at first," he explained. "It just seemed too random for your wings to gradually transform into steel."

    "Is that really what's going to happen?" Warren asked.

    "Yes," Hank said, frankly. "I've looked at X-rays of the bones of your wings, and they themselves are changing. They are no longer hollow, like ordinary wings, and seem to be the same kind of steel that I'm finding in your feathers. At the rate the change is going, I think it will only be a matter of days before the change is complete."

    "Are the wings the only thing that will change?" Betsy asked. She had been standing at Warren's side throughout the examination. Bobby and Professor Xavier watched from a few feet away.

    "Why do you ask?"

    "Betsy, don't," Warren said.

    "They need to know," she responded. "Warren said that one night, when his wings were recovering from Magneto's attack, he saw his skin briefly turn blue."

    "Betsy!" Warren protested. He looked at her concerned face, and then at Hank, his old friend who was deep in thought, and relented. "It's true."

    "Was this before your feathers began hardening?" Hank asked.

    "Right before."

    "That would make sense," Hank explained. "Your mutant gene was preparing for the next major step in your mutation: your wings changing into what they will soon become. Some people have been known to ingest small amounts of metal, often silver, I believe, to protect them from radiation poisoning."

    "Go on," Warren said, confused.

    "Early on, your wings seemed to be a mess of various metals, steel being the most dominant-" Hank paused to pull out a tape recorder. He reiterated some earlier points into it, then picked up. "Included were small amounts of silver, as well as bismuth, aluminum, and others. It could very well be that what you saw was your body accumulating the various traces of metal that would soon be distributed to your wings very abruptly."

    "I don't get it," Warren said. "What does this have to do with my skin being blue?"

    "I go back to my analogy of people taking dietary supplements of silver for radiation protection- something which has very little scientific basis, by the way," Hank said. "Often, if they take too much, it will cause their skin to change color. It will appear blueish on the surface, though it is really grey or silver."

    "This didn't even look silver," Warren said. "Just blue.

    "This was also an unusual circumstance," Hank replied.

    "And I suppose I was pretty tired," Warren reasoned, slumping back as much as he could. "So what, I was o.d.'ing on metal?"

    "Were you feeling alright?"

    "Not really."

    "Henry, he will be okay, right?" Professor Xavier asked.

    "Of course. Just... different."

    "Hmm... Okay." Xavier put his hand to his head. "Something is wrong. I need to get back to Cerebro and check on Wolverine." The Professor exited the infirmary and pushed himself quickly to the Cerebro chamber.

    "Hank, if you don't mind," Bobby said, "I'm going to ask you to stick around tonight. In case something goes wrong with Warren."

    "Way to be optimistic, buddy," Warren cracked.

    "Let me see if I'm able to," Hank said. He pulled out a black PDA and looked up his schedule for the night. "I suppose the third season of "MASH" can wait. What? I have the DVD."

    "That's nice, Hank," Bobby said.

    "Don't you have a government job?" Betsy asked.

    "I have about a week's worth of actual work there a month," Hank explained. "I pretty much just loaf in my office the rest of the time."

    "Well, I'm glad my tax dollars are going to something so productive," Warren deadpanned.



    Logan? Xavier called out, trying to reach out to his student with Cerebro. He could barely even sense him. What he picked up of Logan, along with Kurt, Forge, and Ororo, didn't feel like they were hurt, but something was disrupting him. He began scanning the other people in the Alpha Flight headquarters. Someone, or something, was disrupting his power. He knew part of it had to do with distance, and that he was generally only strong enough to read minds from that far, but he felt that he needed to do something, because he was certain that his students were at at least some risk.
     
  7. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    punisher: rememberance, spiderman: reloaded? yargh, bored be a trendsetter.


    -------------------------------------


    Sinister sat on a rock on the beach.

    "Is this really the way to start?" he asked. His master, who had been standing calmly a few feet from him for the last hour.

    "Don't be picky, Sinister," En Sabbah Nur replied. "Consider this little nation's conquest to be our public debut." He finally sat down. With his hood down, his entire gray head was exposed. It was tattoed with designs that Sinister could not make out. "The five of us are strong, but we are not ready for any major campaigns yet. Don't be offended, but it is true. I have been incarcerated for thousands of years, you must bear in mind. You are creative with your powers, but I doubt you could handle an army. The others, they are just too inexperienced. This is the way I've always worked. I've concquered many before this way."

    "If you say so." Sinister got up, and walked across the beach. The idea that his master could be too weak to attack a major city had never crossed his mind. Around him, Sauron was flying around, looking for only he knew what, while Spiral talked about something with Omega Red. Perhaps Apocalypse was right. He had been trapped for ages, and it should have been obvious that he needed time to gain his bearings. Sinister had never been more than a showoff, as opposed to a fighter, and they only had three others with them. The five of them couldn't take a major city now, it was true.




    One by one, people fell on the way out of the Alpha Flight headquarters. Diamond Lil didn't even make it past the elevator. As they reached the lobby, Nightcrawler started grabbing people around him. There was a burst of smoke, and he brought three people outside. Someone else, a doctor, collapsed in agony.



    "Get out," Wolverine ordered. "He can still hurt you two."

    "He hasn't yet," Northstar protested.

    "Because you haven't come close to him," Wolverine replied. "He's toying with us, while he's probably dropping people like flies upstairs. I don't know why he can't hurt me, but that doesn't matter right now." He paused, and sniffed the air. "Clever of him. He's moving now."

    "Where?" Northstar asked. "Let us take him!"

    "Get out of here!" Wolverine shouted.

    "Jean-Paul, come on," Aurora urged. Her brother turned his head.

    "Logan, I know we were the new kids when you left, but we're good now, and we can take him!" He fell to his knees. "Can you?" asked that monotonous voice. Northstar fell.

    "Jeanne-Marie, get him out of here!" Wolverine snapped. Aurora grabbed her brother's limp body and flew off, navigating the halls like a pro. "This is enough, Howlett! I know you wanted me here, so tell me why!"

    "Why can't my powers harm you?" came Brian Howlett's voice. He kicked out a grate, and jumped down from the air duct. "I've wondered for years."

    "Was all this worth finding that out?" Logan asked. He held up his claws in a menacing pose.

    "Oh you don't understand!" Howlett cried. "I did find out! I've been getting stronger in my time in prison, Logan, and I've been able to use my powers even when in that special bondage they had for me, dampening my mind like that! I could control people with some effort, and I used that to my advantage. I first found out a few things about you that the government never told you, though. It all made sense after that. Afterwards, it was a simple matter of having someone release me, and then luring you here."

    "What do you know?" Wolverine asked.

    "Everything!" Howlett cried. He turned and darted towards the elevator. Logan chased after. When he was close enough, he moved his arm in a wide arc and slashed at Howlett's back. The crazed telepath barely even stumbled. Blood poured out briefly, and then the wound healed itself.

    "The hell?" Wolverine muttered. He had never known Howlett to be a healer. In his confusion, he missed Howlett getting into the elevator. Wolverine plunged his claws into the closing door, but couldn't stop Howlett's escape. He cursed, and raced for the stairs.



    The remaining staffers of the Alpha Flight headquarters stood frozed in place. Escape had seemed almost imminent a moment ago. The elevator door far off opened, and Brian Howlett raced out.

    "Oooh, I see I got quite the bunch," he said. Among those whom he'd immobilized were Alpha Flight's Puck, Sasquatch, and Box; and the X-Men's Storm and Forge. Nightcrawler watched from outside, his eyes full of fury. Aurora had carried her comatose brother far off, and led the other people whom Nightcrawler had freed.

    Wolverine burst out from a side-hallway. He took in a deep sniff, and realized that some of his friends were still inside.

    "Howlett!" he shouted. "Stop this now or I'll stop it for you!"

    "Not yet," Howlett responded. "You haven't listened to me yet, Logan."

    "You're the one who cut and run," Wolverine snarled, advancing on him.

    "Always so angry," Howlett said. "Just like when we were young."

    "What?"

    "Don't you know why I can't hurt you?" Howlett asked. "Siblings can't hurt each other with their powers! It's in their genetic make-up. I can't hurt you because you're my brother! That healing factor of yours? I've had it all my life, just like you. Though mine has been a little bit longer, and my healing factor is more powerful than yours. That's why I look younger than you, even though I'm the elder. Most of your memories were wiped when you became part of the Weapon X operation. The metal bonding process was so painful that your healing factor overcompensated, and it affected your mind! Most of your memories were repressed beyond salvage, even from me. Don't you remember anything from those early days after it happened? Do you know who you are? You're James Howlett, you're my younger brother, and you were born in what is now an outskirt of Ontario in 1870!"
     
  8. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    "What?" Logan couldn't believe what he heard.

    "Logan is your middle name!" Brian Howlett cried. "You went by it because you liked it better! I didn't realize any of this when we last met, and I found out that my own mind was wiped by the Shadow King to keep you from knowing the truth. If you knew who you were, they couldn't use you as the perfect killing machine, and that is what you were at first! I found out what they were trying to do, and I made sure you remembered at least your own name, or part of it, so you could keep part of your identity!"

    "You're lying!" Wolverine snarled. He charged. Howlett side-stepped and tripped him.

    "And you're predictable," Howlett teased. "When we rough-housed as children, that was all you ever did, even after you got those claws. They were just bone then, though."

    "Why did you really bring me here?" Logan asked.

    "I already told you!" Howlett replied. "How can I make you see? My healing factor gave me my memory back, but yours didn't, so this is too difficult. Oh, why?" He sat down on the floor, holding his head in his hands.

    "Howlett, will you let them go?" Wolverine asked, crouching down by the crazed psychic. He undid his mask. Looking into Brian Howlett's face, he really did see a family resemblance.

    "Do you believe that you're my brother?" Howlett asked. Logan paused, and took a deep breath. He stared at Howlett.

    "Hold out your arm," Wolverine commanded. Howlett complied. Wolverine dragged his claws over it, and made three deep gashes. They healed almost instantly. "Why didn't I ever see you do that before?"

    "Why would you?" Howlett asked. "We didn't fight before. I surrendered when I couldn't hurt you." He looked at the people he'd trapped near the exit. "You can go." The members of Alpha Flight and the X-Men, as well as the normal people with them, got up and hurried out. Howlett turned back to Wolverine. "What I am can't be fixed, what I've done can't be forgiven." He grabbed Logan's hand, and held it to his temple, taking time to angle it a certain way. "Only a few inches, please. Any more would kill me."

    "What?"

    "Make me stop being the monster I am!" Howlett pleaded. "You're the only family I have! You have to do it! Please!" He started to cry. "Logan, don't let some government spook do it."

    "If you're really my brother, I can't do that to you," Logan said. Brian stared at him. Logan started seeing images.

    "I can't harm you, but I can show you things," Brian Howlett explained. Logan started seeing images. There were mental pictures, almost movies, of him as what he must have looked like when he was much younger, with a younger version of Brian Howlett. There were flashes of what could have been his childhood, adolescence, when he graduated from college, his time in the military, and finally, Howlett screaming at him as he was dragged from a room, telling him that something was a lie.

    "What was a lie?" Logan asked.

    "What they told you. That you were created, that you had no family, that they owned you. None of it was true."

    "I- some of those things you showed me, they were things I had little flashes of sometimes," Logan explained. "Who is the Shadow King?"

    "Another man conned by the Weapon Plus organization. You were part of the tenth Weapon experiment session, along with Victor Creed. You know him, don't you?" Logan nodded. "And Yuriko Orama?" Logan nodded again. "There were others, but they've all since died." Brian grabbed Logan's wrist, and put his hand back on the spot on his head. "Do it now. What they've done to me, turned me into, it can't be changed. You are lucky that you walked away at all. Otherwise, even this Alpha Flight would have abused you. Now do it, take away their reason to hold me."

    "If you're my brother-"

    "Do it!"

    "Brian..." Logan took a deep breath.

    "Logan, don't listen to any of these people," Brian said. "They are all liars. Find the Shadow King! He will tell you the truth! Now do it!" Logan slid out his claws. They both cringed at once, as Logan gave his first ever lobotomy.



    A few minutes later, Wolverine, with his mask back on, walked out of the Alpha Flight headquarters. Forge, Nightcrawler, and Storm waited for him.

    "Logan, are you okay?" Storm asked, approaching him. "You- you're crying."

    "I don't cry," Logan said, trying to smile. "I sweat through my eyes." Ororo embraced him. He held her, and sunk to his knees.

    "What the hell am I?" he asked. He looked past Storm to the Alpha Flight affiliates. "Was it all really a lie?" he asked. "Did you take advantage of me? And who the hell is the Shadow King?"

    "The Shadow King?" Storm asked. "Ahmoul?"

    "What?" Logan got up.

    "I knew a man named the Shadow King when I was little," she said. "When I was stranded in Morrocco. His name was Ahmoul al-Farak."

    "Is he still there?" Logan asked.

    "I guess."

    "Guys," he called to his team-mates. "Come on. We're going to Morrocco."
     
  9. The Squirrel Le Rongeur

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    woah...i've read in awhile. Had some catching up to do.
     
  10. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    where did you have to start from? had i already started the story-line about wolverine's brother? well, anyway, hope everyone is still liking this (as always, i encourage feedback).


    -----------------------------------------------------------------



    Professor Xavier wheeled himself out of the Cerebro chamber. They were going to Morrocco, then? Xavier thought about the Shadow King. He'd been a surrogate parent to several young urchins in Northern Africa once, before his arrest. Xavier had seen to it himself that al-Farak was released quickly. While he was not always the best role model, often having the children he took in become theives, he was still one of the wisest, most trustworthy mutants that the Professor had known in his earlier years. The Shadow King was a nickname he'd gotten from his enemies, who he'd come to in his astral form if he needed to settle a score. Ahmoul had always liked that name. The two had lost contact years ago, so Xavier was not aware what connection he'd have to Wolverine or some sort of Canadian secret project. Then there was the issue of his enigmatic X-Man's brother. Why had Xavier never picked up on that? Brian Howlett was not someone he'd ever taken notice of before, but he thought he'd have information like that on file somewhere, especially when researching Wolverine for consideration for the X-Men.

    He got into the elevator, and traveled to ground level. There, Bishop paced up and down in one of the sun-rooms, talking to himself. Xavier sensed his former student, Hank McCoy, probably the person Bishop trusted the most. When the mutant formerly known as Beast saw him, he put one large finger up to his mouth, as to keep the Professor from speaking.

    What is he saying? Xavier asked, opening a mental link.

    He's verbally noting all that he's seen in his hallucinations, if those are what those truly are, McCoy answered. The ape-like man pointed to a small machine sitting on the white table in the center of the room. I set up this tape recorder so I could have some psychiatrists I know listen, and see what they think.

    Hank, I don't think what he saw was metaphorical for any past trauma, Xavier 'said'. I believe they really were past traumas. I don't think the answer to who Bishop is is really all that simple.

    Neither do I, McCoy replied, but this is to be sure that whatever he, you, and Ms. Braddock saw was not just the result of some sort of mental tampering, which I have considered, or simply how his mind interprets past troubles. Do you remember after you first scanned him, the dead man you recognized?

    James Madrox, the Multiple Man, Xavier said. That was his nickname. He- the real him- died several years ago, and that caused his duplicates to shut down as well, if that is what you were considering.

    You know as well as anyone that I wasn't. I think it is possible that Bishop knew Mr. Madrox, and that is why he stuck out so much when you entered his head.

    Entirely possible. Xavier stopped sending messages for a moment, having thought of something important. What does the government have on file about Bishop?

    I honestly don't know. I've requested files on him, but gotten nothing yet. Everyone I've talked to said that they haven't found anything yet, but it is looking like they may in a few days.

    Oh?

    Yes. I don't know why it took so long. Did you have anything about him on file?

    None. I've searched his name, his power signature, everything you could possibly consider in the Cerebro files. I'd never picked up on him before he appeared at the mansion. There's no evidence that he could have protected himself from Cerebro before that, especially for so long, as I believe him to be in his early thirties, and yet he is also very much a mutant.

    Is it possible that Cerebro just missed him before? McCoy asked.

    No. He must have manifested his powers at some point before the day you sent him against the Sentinels, and that would have immediately gotten him marked by Cerebro. It is as if he never even existed before the day my students found him.
     
  11. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    the next installment is not quite ready yet, so here's another space-taking rundown of how things are going so far. see, it occurs to me that, like the actual x-men universe, things are getting a little complicated, there are many characters, and several storylines going on at once. before my next installment of the story, here are a few things to help keep track:

    CURRENT STORYLINES:
    Wolverine (taking Storm, Forge, and Nightcrawler) went to visit Alpha Flight, and found that a crazed uber-telepath was holding them hostage, and that that person was actually his older brother. Older brother made Logan lobotomize him, but first told him to see 'the Shadow King', who Storm knew, and believes is in Africa. They are all headed out there now.

    Bolivar Trask is readying a new batch of Sentinels in Madripoor, with the support of Henry Gyrich.

    Apocalypse has been released, and as he gathers his strength back, he's leading his followers to take over a small island nation. But what island nation?

    The Brotherhood has now gained Rogue, but Mastermind is in a coma. They are searching for the Morlocks, in hopes of recruiting some of them.

    All the X-Men are hookin' up.

    Bishop is slowly piecing together who he is.

    The Black Rock was really just a ship, Sawyer may or may not be dead, the hatch has a ladder in it, and the Others were after Walt all along..... Errr..... So, who else likes "Lost"?


    the teams so far:

    X-Men: Professor Xavier, Iceman, Angel, Psylocke, Bishop, Wolverine, Storm, Marrow, Shadowcat, Pyro, Forge, Collossus, Nightcrawler.

    The Brotherhood: Magneto, Blob, Toad, Rogue, Gambit, Mystique, Cannonball, Sabretooth, Avalanche, Mastermind (out of commission).

    Apocalypse and his followers: Apocalypse (derrrr), Mr. Sinister, Spiral, Sauron, Omega Red
     
  12. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Five Sentinels stood in a row.

    "Are these the only ones who are fully functional?" Bolivar Trask asked an assistant.

    "At this moment, sir."

    "How soon will more be ready?" he asked.

    "A matter of days, Dr. Trask. It would have gone faster, but much time was spent on your special project, and many of our people were diverted."

    "My 'special project' was something for myself," Trask said. "I never asked for any help beyond the actual construction."

    "We needed instructions-"

    "You needed nothing of the sort!" Trask snapped. "Your engineers knew exactly what to do, and needed no more from me. If I didn't give new instructions, then there was nothing new for them to know."




    Spiral put the binaculars down. Omega Red snatched them away and looked.

    "It is a factory," he said. "Why is this significant?"

    "En Sabbah Nur says that he believes there could be something to gain from this particular site," Mr. Sinister exlained. "I don't now exactly what, but I trust we will find out shortly. Now, shall we begin?" He got up and started walking down towards the factory. It was large, which was unusual for something in such a small island nation. There was a barbed-wire fence around it, with a few guards. Sauron took to the air, getting their attention.

    "I wonder about our new 'master'," Omega Red said to Spiral, keeping quiet enough for Sinister not to hear. "Somehow, he does not seem as glorious as Sinister thinks."

    "Just play along," Spiral answered. "I know what you mean, but I think he's testing us. Something about this Apocalypse guy, it seems familiar, like he's someone we can count on." Red nodded. Above them, Sauron dropped an armed guard to the ground. Sinister had shot away part of the fence, and was beckoning them in.



    Trask raced into a large gray room in the Sentinel factory.

    "Bastion! Bastion!" he cried. A robot's eyes flicked on.

    "Master?" he asked. His voice seemed to carry genuine concern, and was not just the monotonous drone a typical Sentinel spoke with. "What is wrong?"

    "We're under attack, Bastion," Trask panted. "Four mutants. The other Sentinels are going after them now. I need you out there."

    "I'm on my way." Bastion calmly walked out of the room. He paused for a moment. "Only two are mutants."

    "What?"

    "Only two carry mutant signatures," Bastion explained. "Should I confront them anyway?"

    "Yes, yes! By all means yes!" Trask cried. Bastion walked on calmly. Trask couldn't help but marvel at his creation. Bastion was smaller than ordinary Sentinels, standing at about eight feet, and he was designed to appear much more human. He wore synthetic skin, and a gray uniform. Synthetic white hair covered Bastion's head. Though they could glow bright red, they were designed to look almost real. Trask didn't tell anyone, but he made Bastion look the way he himself wished he would look like.



    Sauron led a Sentinel up through the air. It blasted, and sent the winged man reeling, but he quickly righted himself, seemingly shrugging off the attack. Sauron charged, and slammed into the Sentinel, pushing it towards the ground. The robot kept blasting from its chest, to little avail. It hit the ground hard. The Sentinel itself was smashed by the force, and Sauron flew forward from intertian, smacking his head on the metallic shell of the robot.

    Sinister wandered the grounds, shooting whatever beams he wielded at guards and two Sentinels who had challenged him. At one point, he tricked one, by getting up close to the other and then ducking out of the way, to shoot at its comrade. While damaged, both Sentinels relentlessly pursued him. The crystal on his chest glowed, and one stopped moving. Its arms flailed, and it got close enough to the other to start pummeling it. The still-free Sentinel fired, and took away Sinister's arm. He winced as some sort of yellow gel oozed from the wound. It shaped into an arm, and slowly became a brand new arm. Sinister looked at it with confusion. It had never happened before, though he'd not lost a limb before.

    The last two Sentinels chased after Spiral and Omega Red. The duo were each fast and agile, big as Red was, and had little trouble evading Sentinel attacks. Red released the cables from his hands, and grabbed one of them.

    "We shall see if this works," he said to himself. He tried to drain energy from the robot, but couldn't. Disappointed, Red spun it by the arm, ripping the limb off and sending the robot into the other one. Spiral lept up onto the damaged Sentinel and started ripping out circuits. The Sentinel reached its remaining arm over and grabbed Spiral.

    "DESIST," It ordered. Spiral squirmed. It squeezed hard, and Spiral screamed. Omega Red grabbed its leg, and tried to get the Sentinel's attention. The second Sentinel came up from behind and grabbed Omega Red.

    "Who needs help?" Sauron cried, flying in. He slammed into the one-armed Sentinel, feet first, leaving a dent in its head. It stumbled, but quickly righted itself, and heaved Spiral. She collided with Sauron in mid-air, and they tumbled to the ground. A beam shot past them, as Mr. Sinister approached, blasting away at the two Sentinels. The Sentinel holding Omega Red dropped the Russian mutant and turned to face Sinister. He smiled, and blasted one of its legs, knocking it down. Omega Red jumped on top of it, and hacked at it with his cables. The Sentinel with one arm marched forward. Sauron and Spiral jumped onto its back, confusing it.

    "Enough!" A voice cried. A man clad in gray calmly approached them. "They've had very little field experience, unfortunately. Had you waited a few weeks, at least, there would have been a more interesting conflict."

    "Who are you?" Mr. Sinister asked. The others gathered behind him.

    "You may call me Bastion." Bolivar Trask's special project gave a smile to match Sinister's. "Now, I would very much appreciate your surrender." Sinister laughed. Bastion extended his palm, and emitted a powerful ray of energy, which knocked Sinister on his back. "Again, you may surrender now, or there will be consequences."
     
  13. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Omega Red rushed to Sinister's defense. Sauron flew up into the air, hoping to get enough altitude to swoop in on this new enemy and keep up his speed. Spiral stayed in back.

    "Will you comply with my order?" Bastion asked.

    "Never," Sinister growled, getting up. "You must be what the master wanted us to find."

    "The master?" Bastion asked. "And who is your master?"

    "That is not your concern now," Sinister said.

    "If that is so, then I have no use for you," Bastion said. "As I see you will not follow my order and desist your hostile activity, I must dispose of you." He fired at Sinister again, sending him flying back.

    "Crush him!" Sinister shouted, getting back up. Omega Red's tentacles snaked back out of his hands, and flailed wildly as he approached Bastion. He whipped one of them, grazing Bastion's face, leaving a small mark. The robot didn't flinch.

    "What was that?" he asked. Red came closer, and tried to hit him with a tentacle again. Bastion grabbed it, tugged Red in, and punched him in the gut. From above, Sauron swooped in and knocked Bastion down. The special Sentinel rose back up, a mark now visible in his back, grabbed Omega Red, and heaved him in Sauron's direction. The two collided in the air, and fell down.

    "Don't go near him again!" Spiral called. "I know him!" They all stared at her, Bastion included.

    "How do you know me?" he asked.

    "I- I don't know," she said, sadly. "But I know you, and I know you're dangerous."

    "Flattered."

    "Enough!" Sinister shouted. His chest glowed, and he blasted Bastion to the ground. The robot got back to his feet, and raised his hands. Electricity arched from his fingertips, hitting the four attackers. Spiral screamed in agony, writhing on the ground. Omega Red struggled to his feet, and got in front of her, taking the brunt of Bastion's attack. Sinister could barely move, and Sauron was just getting up.

    "Help...us...master!" Sinister cried. The ground shook, and the wind blew powerfully. Bastion ceased his attack. En Sabbah Nur marched through the damaged gate, and onto what had become the battle field.

    "You are.... unfamiliar," Bastion said. He tried to identify his new opponent, but nothing registered. "You are not a mutant-"

    "What?" Omega Red, helping Spiral along, wondered if he'd heard right. He'd been told that Apocalypse not only was a mutant, but the first one in existence. The ancient being laughed.

    "I am so much more than a mere mutant, my friend," Apocalypse said, folding his arms across his chest. "And you, you're nothing but a machine. Strong, yes, but a machine none the less."

    "You are with these four?" Bastion asked, trying to get back on track.

    "I am their leader."

    Bastion clenched his fist.

    "Then I will destroy you first." He charged, slamming his shoulder into Apocalypse, knocking him down. Apocalypse got up, not even shaken, and opened up his hands. A field of energy surrounded Bastion, and started closing in. Bastion's eyes glowed. Electricity started coming from him, forcing the field back. Apocalypse blinked, and the field burst into flame.

    "Come," he ordered. Sauron pulled Sinister up, and pulled them both into the air. Apocalypse moved his hands, and levitated, taking Spiral and Omega Red with him. "Another day, machine!" he mocked.

    A visibly shaken Bastion, much of his clothing and artificial skin burnt off, rose up. He turned, with something that, if he were truly alive, and not a machine, would resemble dejection hanging over his head. Bolivar Trask, worried beyond belief, hurried out to greet his creation.

    "It's okay, Bastion," he said. "You weren't ready yet, either. I shouldn't have sent you out."

    "I kept those others from breaking through," the robot said. "The last one, the leader, he is more powerful than anything you have ever prepared me for. I sensed that he has yet to reach the full potential of his powers, whatever they may be. Whatever future upgrades you have in mind for me, I suggest you hurry them for me."




    "We'll be in Morrocco soon," Forge said. "How can you be sure where he is?"

    "He'll find me," Ororo said. "That was how Ahmoul worked. If he's still here, he'll contact me immediately."

    "You don't even know if he's here?" Logan asked.

    "It's likely that he is," Ororo assured.

    "And you're sure he'll come to you?"

    "Ahmoul was always like that," Ororo said. "He keeps track of his 'charges', as he called us. Don't worry, he'll do it."
     
  14. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Avalanche rapped on the door of the very out of place mobile home. After a moment, Toad opened the door and invited him in.

    "Did you see any of them?" Magneto asked, sitting at a small table in the back. Avalanche shook his head.

    "I thought I did at one point, but they sort of vanished," he explained.

    "Dominic, we are dealing with fellow mutants," said Magneto. "Disappearance could mean alot of things. Invisibility, mental manipulation, teleportation. Where did you see it?"

    "Not far from here," Avalanche replied.

    "Go back to that area," ordered Magneto. "Toad, go with him."




    The plane landed on a far end of the airport. Forge had activated a device installed in the plane to jam local radar, and had also turned on a tight security system to keep people out of it when the four of them were out looking for the Shadow King. Everyone took turns going into the small storage room in back to change into civilian clothes.

    "Heard from the boogeyman yet?" Forge asked, as they slipped away from the airport. Ororo shook her head.

    "Give him time," she urged.

    A small child crept close to them, staring, mostly at Kurt Wagner. He waved, trying not to be intimidating. An adult cried something they didn't understand and pulled the child away.

    "Parental supervision," Ororo noted. "Things have changed."

    In some ways, yes, came a voice familiar to her. I take it you are looking for me? Ororo nodded. That is fine. Bring your friends. It is good to see you again, Ororo. A location, and the way to get to it, flashed in her mind.

    "He just contacted me," she said. "Come on." Storm led the others through the crowded streets, where people stared and kept their distance, fearing that Kurt, who stood in back, was some kind of demon.




    Warren Worthington crouched on the ledge of a third story window.

    "If I can still fly, this is kind of low," he said. "And if I can't, it's kind of high."

    "We're spotting you," Betsy Braddock said, standing behind him. "Everyone is waiting below, and I can catch you with my telekinesis if need be."

    Accepting this, Warren lept out from the window, and spread his wings. He desended at first, but then felt himself lifting higher into the air. He turned his head back towards Betsy, who shook her head. Warren smiled, and went up higher. The sun glinted off his now entirely metallic wings. He performed a few aerial tricks, and flew back down. The other X-Men cheered for him.

    It had happened quickly, and painfully, that night. His wings cramped up, like they occasionally had done, and the remaining normal feathers fell off. The feathers that were still on, changed color, and solidified into some sort of metal. More and more 'feathers' started popping out, taking the shape that his wings had once had. The were hardly feathers any more, more like razors. Once the shock of the change had passed, Warren was concerned with if he'd be able to fly again. Now, much to his relief, he knew he could.

    "Pity Hank had to leave," he said. "He would've liked to have seen this."

    "I'm sure," said Professor Xavier, "but whoever called him said he was needed back at his office immediately."

    "Ah, the exciting life of a token mutant in a pandering government," Warren smirked. Betsy came out from a sliding glass door. The two embraced on the grass. Warren spread his wings out, and looked at his teammates.

    "Who wants to touch them?" he asked. Everyone declined.
     
  15. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Gambit walked quickly, often having to drag Anna with him.

    "When are we gonna find them?" she asked.

    "They be close," said Gambit. "Just hurry on a little longer." After a short while, they found the parking lot of an old hotel, where a large RV was parked.

    "Your new buddies are trailer trash?" Anna teased.

    "You just come on with me," Gambit urged. "They're waiting for us." Gambit knocked on the door of the RV. Magneto opened it. Cannonball waited inside.

    "Well at least somebody brought somethin' back," he joked.

    "Boss, dis be Anna, the girl I told y'all about," Gambit said. Magneto smiled.

    "And what a pretty little girl she is," he said. Anna blushed.

    "He's really old," she whispered to Gambit. He nodded.

    A phone rang. Magneto picked it up, and listened intently. Occasionally he made a muffled sound of acknowledgement. When he hung up, he looked satisfied.

    "Samuel," he ordered, "contact Dominic and Mortimer, and tell them to wait for us outside of Grand Central Station. Remy, you came at a good time. Victor and Yuriko have found a Morlock willing to bring us to their lair. Raven is across the street. She will appear to be a police officer. Fred is at a store nearby. When he gets back, we go to meet Victor and Yuriko." He looked again at Anna. "When we are operating as a team, we have special names. What are you going to be called?"

    "We talk about dat on the way here," Gambit said. "When I found her, I said she was goin' rogue. She like dat name."

    "What?"

    "Rogue."

    "Well then," said Magneto, "Rogue it is. That's fine."



    From his little room far underneath New York City, a sickly looking man with gray skin stirred. He got up off of his cot, and walked into the crowded hallway, where countless mutants crowded the walls.

    "Caliban!" one of them called. "Where are you going?"

    "I must talk to Callisto," the gray mutant said. "Something is wrong. People we shouldn't trust are near, and they are looking for us." He called out for Wolfsbane, the young Scottish woman who resembled a werewolf, and told her to guard his room, and make sure nobody tried to steal any of his few possessions. Caliban pushed his way through the halls. Mutants- most looking horribly disfigured, sometimes due to mutations, sometimes not- looked at him in awe. In truth, he'd done very little of mention, but to the Morlocks he was a legend. He had discovered Professor Charles Xavier searching them out many years ago, and had been asked to join his Institute. Caliban had spent time as a student, learning how to focus his power, a form of telepathy that enabled him to sense nearby mutants and their emotions. He'd technically been an X-Man, but had never fit in with them. Still, many in the Morlock colony idolized Professor Xavier from what little they knew about him, and if Caliban was worthy of him, then he must have been great. Months earlier, when the Professor was looking for a new student for his Institute in the colony, it was Caliban whom he consulted, and that was how Marrow, the girl known outside the colony as Sara, had been chosen to join the X-Men.

    "Callisto!" he called, entering the room of the woman whom the Morlocks saw as their leader. Her lover, the mutant known as Masque, sat in a corner.

    "What is it?" Callisto asked. She seemed to have been pacing around the room.

    "I am picking up mutant signatures on the surface, ones that are planning to come down here."

    "Yes, and?"

    "One of them is Victor Creed."

    "That is?"

    "Sabretooth!" Caliban shouted. Masque perked up.

    "You've told us about him," Masque said. "Do you know why he's coming?"

    "No, not exactly," Caliban answered. "But he seems... eager. And of what I knew about him from Professor Xavier, Sabretooth's real joy in life is violence and intimidation. I think the guard should be increased for the next few days. All of our strongest should guard the entrances until he and whoever he is with have left."

    "Who is he with?" Callisto asked.

    "Her name is, I believe, Yuriko," Caliban said. "I don't know her, but she is similar to Sabretooth. They are not the types to come down here to talk to us nicely!"

    "Slow down, Caliban," Callisto ordered. "How do you even know he'll be able to find us?"

    "A traitor," said Caliban. "A Morlock who had gone to the surface for food is with them, and he doesn't seem to be scared. More excited, really. He will lead them right to us!"

    "A traitor?" Callisto asked. "Who? Who the hell is it!?"

    "Berzerker, one of the younger ones," Caliban answered. "You know him, don't you?"

    "Marrow's old boyfriend," Callisto answered. "He's been pissy ever since we sent her off. Thank you for telling me this, Caliban. Masque, gather all of the off-duty guards and post them immediately!"
     
  16. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Ororo led her friends through a wooden door, into a small cafe with no electricity. Light poured in through a few windows, and that was it. A dark-skinned man wearing white shorts sat in the corner, reading. He barely even glanced at the quartet entering.

    "In the back," Ororo said. A door opened almost as soon as she was finished.

    "Ororo!" cried a chubby man. His skin was a light brown, and he had short, gray hair. He was clearly an older man than Ororo had remembered him.

    "Ahmoul!" Ororo embraced the old man.

    "Ororo, you've come at such an amazing time!" Ahmoul al-Farak, the man better known as the Shadow King, said. "But where are my manners? Sit down! Introduce your friends to me!"

    The X-Men took seats at a circular table. Ororo introduced her friends one by one.

    "So, what do I owe this visit too?" Ahmoul said. "It seems you are here for something other than nostalgia, Ororo."

    "It's actually for Logan," Ororo explained. "He was told to come to you."

    "Oh?" Ahmoul asked. "By whom?"

    "Brian Howlett," Logan said. Ahmoul dropped his smile. He examined Logan's face.

    "You're James," he said. "He was able to tell you the truth?"

    "That I'm around 130 years old, and that I was brainwashed by the government?" Logan asked. "Because that's what my brother told me."

    "You sound as if you believe him," Ahmoul, the Shadow King, said. "Do you?"

    "I do," Logan said. "I really do. Otherwise, I wouldn't have come all this way."

    "That's good," said Ahmoul. Because that means you didn't kill him. Logan almost jumped, not expecting the Shadow King the start speaking telepathically.

    You thought I would have? Logan asked.

    It is what you are, said Ahmoul. You are a killer. Over the time, you have changed, calmed down, grown more human, but you are still a killer. Am I right?

    Yeah, Logan answered, reluctantly.

    "Is this a staring contest?" Kurt asked, breaking the physical silence. Ororo hushed him. Forge began to fiddle with his bionic arm.

    The Weapon Plus program wanted you because of that, Ahmoul explained. You had the potential to be the greatest killer this world has ever seen. Everyone in the tenth part of the program did, at first.

    What were the other parts? Logan asked.

    Nothing related to you. All parts of the program, which ended with you, by the way, were different ways of creating supersoldiers. The tenth focused on a group of mutants with healing factors, ones that had few scruples when it came to killing. They bonded adamantium to all of your skeletons, which I'm sure you know. A few died immediately, their healing factors not strong enough to take the process. Many others died later on, in the field. I was brought on to keep the surviving members of the program in check, in case they decided to disconnect from the program. I found out about your brother shortly after I came to work at the Weapon Plus program.

    Keep them in check? Logan asked.

    Kurt glanced at the silent man in the corner.

    Make sure they didn't ever regret what they did, and that was kill. Brian joined because he wanted to make sure you didn't lose all touch with your humanity, as he saw the others slowly doing. That he could never tell you the truth drove him insane, quite literally, it seems. I was told, once his actions were discovered, to wipe Howlett's mind.

    And you did it.

    I had no choice. Ahmoul answered. My family, my real one, was threatened. Not a day has gone by that I haven't regretted it.

    So why did Brian send me to you? Logan asked.

    You are getting angry. Ahmoul mentioned.

    "Who is that guy?" Forge whispered to Kurt, looking at the man in the corner. Ororo glared at them.

    Logan, James, you would have reacted this way in Canada as well, Ahmoul said. But you were already provoked then. You had killing mind, but before that, it had been with Brian Howlett in mind. He did it to keep you from lashing out then, at people who were innocent. If he had told you everything, about why you were chosen, and why his mind was wiped, it would have been disaster.

    "I'm not like that anymore!" Logan shouted.

    "You see?" Ahmoul asked. "You have improved, but it is still your nature. The Weapon Plus experiments are partially to blame. It was what your brother tried to counter act." He let his words sink in. "Do you know why the Weapon Plus program shut itself down?"

    "A high failure rate," said Logan.

    "Partially, yes, but not entirely," explained the Shadow King. "Eventually, one of their agents really did kill my family. I was told that he had gone rogue, and was doing it for attention. I didn't believe it, so I lashed out, and killed several people involved in the program. NATO shut it down after that."

    "NATO?"

    "Yes, though they've disavowed it completely," Ahmoul said.

    "So that's who I am?" Logan asked. "A psychotic killer well-equipped for the job? That's it?"

    "I think you could be much more, James, or Logan, or however you wish to be referred," Ahmoul said. "And I know I am not the only one who thinks that." He glanced at Ororo. Logan sighed.

    "Hey, since that's out of the way," Forge cut in, "who is that guy?"

    "A friend," Ahmoul said. "Now, while I wish I could catch up with my old charge, I have urgent business, and he is here to help me."

    "What?" Ororo asked.

    "My family, going back thousands of years, has been assigned to await the release of our master," Ahmoul explained. "He was a great warrior in ancient Egypt countless ages ago. His enemies imprisoned him, sentencing him to be trapped in his tomb for thousands of years before release, and my family, among all still loyal to him, were assigned to be there when he finally exited his prison. Lately, I've been sensing him, traveling all over this part of the world. He is not alone, but I must still find him. I called in Gateway to bring me to him."

    "Gateway?"

    "It is how he goes," Ahmoul said, smiling. "He is a mutant like us, from Australia, an aborigine. His name should explain enough about him. Now, I must go. He is back on continental Africa, and it will be easier for Gateway to get to him now. He was on Madripoor for a time, with a group of new followers. I sense him closer to Kenya now. Now, I must take my leave. Gateway, get ready!"

    The aborigine mutant stood up, and raised his hand over his head. A white swirl started to form.

    "Ahmoul, who are you going to?" Ororo asked.

    "I told you, my family's master," the Shadow King said. "En Sabbah Nur, the first one. Quite possibly the world's first mutant."

    The swirl above Gateway grew to a seven-foot diameter. Ahmoul al-Farak trotted to him, and leaped up. He was pulled into the swirl.

    "Ahmoul!" Ororo cried. She chased him into the vortex, and Logan, Forge, and Kurt, rushed to follow her. Gateway sighed, allowed himself to be pulled in, and shut that end of his portal.
     
  17. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Caliban started to sweat. It didn't happen much to anyone down there, not even in the infamous New York summer-times. First Sabretooth, now Mystique, and countless others! That traitor Berzerker had brought a whole collection of dangerous mutants, and even the ones that Caliban didn't recognize seemed dangerous.

    "Callisto!" he called. The Morlock leader came running.

    "What is it?"

    "Berzerker has amassed a large group around him," Caliban explained. "All are with Sabretooth. We are in grave danger!"

    "I have everyone I can on guard duty," Callisto reassured. "Is there anything else we can do?"

    "Find Blink," Caliban ordered. "I need to get to the surface, and contact Professor Xavier."




    The four X-Men who had just been in Northern Africa found themselves on a high mesa. The sun beat down on them. Gateway sat calmly on the ground, while the Shadow King excitedly greeted a man in a hood. Four unusual looking people stood behind him.

    "Look," Logan whispered to his friends. "On the far left, it's that Sinister guy!"

    "I was wondering what happened to him," Forge said. "He had all those dragons, and then he just sort of disappeared."

    "The man Ahmoul is talking to, he must be the 'master' that called Sinister away," Ororo observed. "Who are the others?"

    "Arkady Rossovich," Logan said. "The big guy. I wonder what the hell he's doing here? I'd heard someone busted him out of prison, but that was it."

    Ahmoul turned around, and walked back to the X-Men. Gateway turned and faced in their direction.

    "He doesn't seem like what I was always tought he would," the Shadow King said. "More arrogant. I'm a little disappointed, but it is him! It's En Sabbah Nur! My family has awaited this for thousands of years!"

    "He gonna make you part of the 'Ascended Twelve'?" Logan asked. Ahmoul lost his smile.

    "What did you say?"

    "When Sinister, that guy in the blue, messed with us a while ago, he said that his 'master' was gonna make him part of the 'Ascended Twelve'," Logan explained.

    "En Sabbah Nur said that those four were his servants," Ahmoul said.

    "Hold on," Logan said.

    "Please don't do anything!" Ahmoul pleaded. "I was only supposed to bring Gateway! I explained how you got here, and he is tolerating it, but-"

    "X-Men!" Mr. Sinister shouted. "Do you remember me?"

    "Yeah, dragon-man, we remember!" Logan called back.

    "Good," he said, grinning. He whispered something to his master.

    "You turned down an offer to join my servant?" En Sabbah Nur asked.

    "You what?!" exclaimed Ahmoul. "Why would you do that?"

    "He attacked us," Ororo said. "Do you know what the Brood are?"

    "En Sabbah Nur could rule the world one day," Ahmoul said. "Why wouldn't you want to be part of that?"

    "He doesn't have any of those dragons with him now, does he?" Forge asked.

    "You have turned down a great oppurtunity!" En Sabbah Nur called. "Those who refuse Apocalypse will not survive!"

    "What?" Ahmoul asked. "Why would you say that?"

    "Oh, you old fool," Apocalypse laughed. "A long time ago, I would be interested in giving people second chances to join me, but not now. No one stands in my way!"

    "What about revenge on the people who imprisoned you?" Ahmoul asked. "When you were still able to speak to the outside world, you said that was your goal! I know world conquest was an idea, but-"

    "Things have changed," Apocalypse sneered. He advanced in the Shadow King, who suddenly seemed far less king-like. He cowered back in fear. The wind started to blow.

    "Stay away from him!" Ororo shouted. She hovered in the air above them. Logan had his claws unsheathed, and Forge and Kurt both looked poised to defend the old mutant.

    "Stay back, Ororo!" Ahmoul called. "Master, you've.... you've changed, and for the worse, I fear!"

    "Oh what little you know," Apocalypse said. Rain started to pour. "I am sure the locals appreciate that, but a little rain is simply refreshing to me, madam!"

    "Ororo, stop it!" Ahmoul snapped.

    "Back away from him!" Ororo screamed to Apocalypse. He looked up at her, and flicked his eyes downward. She plummeted down to the ground. Kurt jumped in front of her, and glared at Apocalypse menacingly. Logan walked forward, raising his arms.

    "You wanna pull that **** again, see what happens?" he asked.

    "Certainly."

    "Enough!" Ahmoul shouted. "Master, what happened to you? My family has awaited you for ages, believing that you still wanted us to help you take revenge on the traitors who imprisoned you! And we certainly were never told that you harbored such an attitude towards those who did not wish to serve you. It just isn't like you, not like the En Sabbah Nur of legend!"

    "What does legend mean to me?" Apocalypse asked. His eyes lit up. Ahmoul sank to his knees.

    "No!" he cried. "No, it can't be!" He covered his head with his hands.

    "Now do not question me again!" Apocalypse roared.

    "You have no power over me!" Ahmoul cried, defiantly. "You have no right!"

    "You dare say such a thing to me?" Apocalypse menaced. "Enough of this!" He lifted Ahmoul up by his shirt collar. "You know so much now, so-called Shadow King, but it doesn't matter, does it?"

    "No. NO!" Ahmoul cried. Apocalypse heaved him into the air.

    "No!" Ororo screamed. Kurt, seeing the danger, teleported into the air, grabbed Ahmoul, and brought him down.

    "Take care of them!" Apocalypse ordered to his group. "Now, as far as you!" He extended his arms. Orbs eminated from his hands. They soared over the ground, and grabbed the Shadow King. Above them, Sauron circled the X-Men. The orbs on the ground collided with Ahmoul, and dissipated. The energy from them surrounded him, and smoke started to pour into the air. He screamed in pain. Sauron swooped down. Kurt jumped up, and nimbly flipped onto the dinosaur-like man's back.

    "Get off of me, you freak!" Sauron snapped.

    "Speak for yourself, mein freund," Nightcrawler teased. He raised his fists to pound on Sauron, when he found himself surrounded by white.

    On the ground, Ororo watched in horror as her mentor was burned alive by this supposed 'master' of his. Next to her, Forge was lifted into the air by Omega Red. Wolverine jumped into the fray, slashing at Red's cable.

    "Remember me, commie?" Logan said. "Kept your punk-ass out of Canada, if I remember right!" His vision started to go cloudy as he spoke, and he was enveloped in white, as was Forge.

    "Oh God, no," Ororo whispered. She was alone with these monsters, and if the Shadow King could not stand one of them, she doubted she had any hope. The white enveloped her. The last thing she saw was Ahmoul al-Farak, her one-time mentor, screaming in pain as whatever he'd been attacked with burned his flesh away.



    They found themselves back in that same cafe in Morrocco.

    "What the sam hell?" Forge groaned. "That whiteness hurt my eyes."

    "What are we doing back here?" Kurt asked. Logan sniffed the air.

    "Gateway," he growled. The dark mutant sat in his spot in the corner.

    "What happened to Ahmoul?" Ororo asked, getting up from the floor.

    "He is dead," said Gateway. His voice was slightly nasal, and clearly Australian.

    "We could have helped him!" Ororo cried.

    "You know that is not true."

    "What the hell did you do?" Logan growled. He and Kurt approached Gateway.

    "What the Shadow King asked of me," Gateway answered. "I brought you out of harm's way. He commanded me to do so as that monster attacked him."

    "What is that thing?" Logan asked.

    "Supposedly, it was En Sabbah Nur, or Apocalypse, as some referred to him as," Gateway explained. "I know he explained his story to you already. But he seems to have been horribly wrong."

    "How?"

    "I am not exactly sure," Gateway said. "But I do know one thing for certain."

    "Being?"

    "The 'Ascended Twelve' were to be formed after Apocalypse was freed, if it ever happened," said Gateway, "but they were to be formed to oppose him."
     
  18. Visioncore18 Registered

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    Your an excellent story teller. I like your spin on the marvel universe. i havent read anything this good in a long time.. it takes alot to get me hooked man im mad that i reached the end of the story i thought it would never happen i hope you post some goodies soon man ..dont worry people are reading your stuff.. and if they arent they have poor taste
     
  19. The Squirrel Le Rongeur

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    geat stuff as always.
     
  20. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    great that people are so into it. it's been fun to write thus far. know something? i really didn't intend to make this so long, but oh well. at the very least, i can say for sure that i am past the halfway point, but how far, i will not say.


    -------------------------------------------------


    "I'm so sorry," Bolivar Trask said for the umpteenth time. Henry Gyrich shrugged. Trask was resting his head, burying it in his arms on the table in a courtyard kept by Gyrich's followers.

    "You were taken unawares and poorly prepared by mutants," he said. "I have no right to be upset at that. And those mutants were stronger than most. I think this just shows what direction we need to take the Sentinel Operation in."

    "Oh?"

    "They must be significantly stronger," Gyrich said. "Not to mention smarter. I am utterly fascinated by Bastion's AI. I am not saying that all Sentinel's should have that level of intelligence, but if you could turn him into something so great, imagine what could be done with the others. The mutant attack we just had is a great oppurtunity to gauge the Sentinels' current strengths and weaknesses."

    "I'm glad you aren't upset," Trask said.

    "I was a little disappointed at first," Gyrich said, "but after coming to the conclusions I've just explained, I got over that. How is Bastion, while we're on the subject?"

    "Upset, in whatever way he could be," Trask said. "He has been running scenarios for possible rematches nonstop. He also had some interesting information for me."

    "What would that be?" asked Gyrich.

    "He said that only two of the attackers were mutants," Trask explained. A woman carried a tray with cups of iced tea. Trask snatched one and drank down a great deal of it. "It seems odd to me that non-mutants would attack the Sentinel base, but Bastion is designed to detect mutant signatures from miles away, and he insists that only two were mutants. One was the large one with the ropes in his hands, Arkady Rossovich, and the other was the six armed girl. He couldn't identify her."

    "But he is sure she's a mutant?"

    "Positive," Trask answered. "Bastion identifies mutant genes. The technology to do so was one of my crowning achievements."

    "So who were the others?" Gyrich asked.

    "I really don't know."

    "Does Bastion?"

    "If he does, he hasn't told me, and he's programmed to tell me, so that is doubtful."




    "I don't get it," Ororo said. "If the Ascended Twelve are supposed to destroy Apocalypse, or En Sabbah Nur, or whatever his name is, why would he be trying to form them himself?"

    "I am not sure," Gateway answered. "Ahmoul didn't tell me. He seemed, at the time of his death, to think that his supposed master had gone insane in his captivity. I suspect that he has attempted to form this group of Twelve himself before they could form to destroy him."

    "There were only four, though," Forge said. "So he's still got eight more to go?"

    "It would seem that way," Gateway replied. "If simple subtraction applies to ancient Egyptians." Forge glared.

    "So you think he's really dangerous?" Logan asked. Gateway nodded. "Then we need to stop them. Can you take us back to America?"

    "Of course," Gateway said.

    "Good, then get us to the Xavier Institute," Logan ordered.



    The phone rang.

    "Xavier Institute for Mutant Education," Kitty Pryde said. She'd been stuck on secretary duty for the afternoon. The Professor rarely had someone else take his calls, but he'd apparently decided to go look at ideas for new color schemes for the wallpaper, or something like that. He was downstairs at the moment, carefully examining a wall, she believed.

    "I must speak with Charles Xavier," came a frightened voice.

    "He's busy," Kitty explained. "Can I take a message?"

    "Please!" the voice pleaded. "It is a grave matter. My name is Caliban, and I am a former student of his." Kitty sighed.

    "Alright, I'll see if I can tear him away from his work," she said. "Please hold."



    "I don't know about this pattern," said Professor Xavier, resting his chin in his hand. Piotr Rasputin scratched it off the list. He pulled out another picture of a wallpaper design.

    "How about this?" he asked.

    "A little better," Xavier said.

    Professor? Kitty Pryde called. Hello? Are you picking this up? Hello?

    I'm here, Kitty, Xavier replied. I opened this line of communication so that you could reach me on a moment's notice in matters of emergency. Is this a matter of emergency?

    Caliban says it is.

    Caliban? Hold on, I'll be right up.



    "What is it, Caliban?" Xavier asked, taking the phone from Kitty.

    "Professor, the Morlock tunnels are in danger," Caliban said, struggling to calm himself down.

    "What are you talking about?"

    "I sensed Victor Creed above the lair, and several others were joining him," Caliban said.

    "I can understand why you'd be afraid of his prescence, but why are you worried for the Morlocks?"

    "One of our own, his name is Berzerker, is leading them down as we speak. I fear that my people are in serious trouble." Caliban's breathing became heavy. Next to him, a pink-skinned girl who'd listened to what he was saying put her hand over her mouth.

    "That's what this is about?" she asked. Caliban shushed her.

    "Caliban?" Xavier asked on his end of the line. "Listen, I want you to get back to the tunnels, since you're on the phone and I know there aren't any down there. Tell them I'm sending the X-Men immediately."

    "What's going on?" Kitty asked when Xavier hung up the phone.

    "We're needed," Xavier said. "Suit up. I'll alert the rest of the team."



    A bright flash of white filled the foyer of the Xavier Institute. A portal appeared, and Logan, Forge, Kurt, Ororo, and Gateway emerged.

    "Nice aim," Forge said.

    Warren Worthington and Betsy Braddock came running down the stairs.

    "Hey!" Warren called. "When did you guys get back? And who's the newbie?"

    "His name's Gateway," Ororo said. "It's a long story."

    "Well, Professor's got some job for us," Warren said. "Get to the jet, and you can talk to the Prof on the way downtown."

    "We're not taking the jet," Betsy said, as they rushed to the elevator. "We're going to Manhattan. We're taking the vans."

    "Since when did we have vans?" he asked.

    The four X-Men and their guest looked puzzled.

    "What the hell is going on?" Logan asked.
     
  21. gap5ewl inconspicuous since '03.

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    this thread is awesome i cant believe i just found it!!
     
  22. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    *is proud* alot of people seem to be discovering this story lately. it's gotten quite popular.

    ----------------------------------------------


    "Can I drive?" Shadowcat asked, unlocking one of the vans.

    "No, for the last time!" Iceman snapped. He moved her out of the way, and got into the driver's seat. Kitty phased into the back. Marrow jumped in with her. Colossus, Pyro and Bishop got into the middle section, and a still bewildered Forge took shotgun.

    Professor Xavier was pushed up into the driver's side of the other van, which was equipped to be used solely by hand for his convenience. Storm and Wolverine piled into the very back, with Angel and Nightcrawler getting in the middle, and Psylocke taking shotgun.

    "What about Gateway?" Storm asked, practically getting shoved inside. Professor Xavier looked at the new mutant, who stood calmly in the garage.

    "Hell," he muttered. "Warren, can you fold those wings up any further?"

    "No," Angel answered.

    "I'm on it," Kurt said. He nimbly slipped from his seat, climbed across the ceiling, and curled up behind the back seats, in the storage section. "No, this won't do." He teleported out, resulting in everyone still inside scrambling to put the windows down, and clung to the roof. "Come in!" he invited. Gateway nonchalantly entered and sat down. In front, Professor Xavier still wasn't sure what had just happened.

    "You ready?" Iceman called from the other van. Xavier nodded, and then made a mental note to get a bigger van when this was all over.




    A pink box appeared in the middle of Callisto's room. Caliban appeared with the pink-skinned Morlock girl Blink.

    "Well?" Callisto asked. She was sweating profusely. Masque burst in when he heard her speaking, but realized it was okay.

    "The Professor is on his way," Caliban said. "He is bringing the X-Men." Callisto took a deep breath and sighed.

    "Blink, Masque," she ordered, "round up everyone who isn't on defense duty, and bring them to the meeting chamber. Blink, if any of the invaders get in, and can potentially be a threat, I want you to start teleporting people to the surface. I know many will be scared of it, but it is necessary."



    Berzerker's lone shock of blond hair, which rested above his forehead, bounced around as he navigated the many hidden tunnels known only to the Morlocks. Sabretooth led the Brotherhood along. Occasionally, the walls shook as they passed close to the subway lines. The Morlock tunnels were composed of decomissioned tunnels, and the odd platform. A few holes were bored into the sewers, giving extra space, but an awful stench. The Brotherhood members looked around the poorly written passages warily. Blob went in back, always terrified of the passage getting too small and causing him to get stuck.



    Marrow curled into a ball on her seat.

    "Sara, what's wrong?" Kitty asked.

    "I haven't been to the tunnels in months," she said. "I'm just a little nervous going back. Alot of things about me are different, you know? And I bet the tunnels are,too."



    Masque herded the Morlocks onto the largest condemned subway platform area that they had claimed. Hundreds of mutants squeezed into the space, which barely fit them all. A regiment of mutants that had been assigned to defense filed out of the platform.

    "Who do we have?" Callisto asked, approaching. Masque surveyed the group.

    "Feral, Dazzler, Wither, Harpoon, Hemingway and Black Tom," Masque answered. "There are others around, guarding the entrances."

    "Good, now find Caliban. I want to head off Berzerker and the people he's leading in as soon as they get close." Callisto folded her arms, and went in to speak to the mass of mutants inside. Masque led the defense Morlocks to their various posts.



    "So what if they say no?" Berzerker asked.

    "Then we make them regret it," Magneto answered. "I believe that we will have our share of converts, though."

    "I hope a few resist," Berzerker said, grinning. "I'll show those asses. No matter what happens, I want Caliban myself. He's the reason my girl Marrow left for that Xavier jerk's school. I've been hoping for a good shot at him ever since."

    "Then that will be your payment for aiding us," Magneto said. "But in the meantime, I want to make sure we look appealing to at least a few of these Morlocks of yours."
     
  23. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    Gateway never said a word on the drive over. Everyone looked at him, uncomfortably. Logan explained everything on the way.

    "So that's who Sinister is working for," Xavier said. "Essex never was any good on his own."

    "Essex?" Logan asked.

    "Nathaniel Essex, his real name," Xavier answered. "I don't know him well, but I know of him. I always thought he was harmless and delusional, even after the attack in Colorado. It was more than usual from him, more than just hollow theats and an occasional energy beam, but still nothing to be greatly concerned over, especially when we didn't hear from him again for so long. So he didn't have the Brood again? Or those dragons?"

    "None."

    "He must have tired of them. Or maybe too many turned out like Lockheed, Kitty's little pet. But anyway, this Gateway of yours could prove helpful. Mr. Gateway, are you willing to work with us?" Xavier asked. Gateway nodded. It was the only acknowledgement of someone else he made on the long drive over.




    In the other van, Bishop had started to sweat.

    "Am I doing that?" Pyro asked. "I generate extra heat sometimes, on accident, so-"

    "It's okay, kid," Bishop said. "Forge's little story here, about this Apocalypse guy, something about it just got to me."

    "Hate to get in the way of a breakthrough," Iceman said, "but for the moment, Xavier wants us all to focus on whatever our task at hand is."

    Bishop slumped back in his seat, and rubbed his temples.




    Berzerker led the Brotherhood to the entrance he preferred to the Morlock tunnels. They filed in one by one. Rogue clung to Gambit's arm, not sure what was going to happen. Sabretooth sniffed the air. It was foul, but he could smell people all around them.

    "Hey!" someone called. The young, pale mutant Harpoon stood at the end of the corridor. Sabretooth growled. Magneto guestered for him to stay back.

    "Hello," the leader of the Brotherhood said. He walked forward. Harpoon stepped back. In the distance, others were coming to join him. "Do you know who I am?" Harpoon nodded. He'd seen Magneto on the news before his self-exile to the Morlock tunnels. "Why are you here, my friend?"

    "I'm home here," Harpoon said.

    "Were you a freak on the surface?"

    "Y-yeah."

    "As am I, and all the rest of my friends. You know Berzerker, do you not?" Magneto asked. Harpoon nodded. Feral bounded down to Harpoon's side. "Well hello. I was just introducing myself to your fellow Morlock. My name is-"

    "Leave!" Feral snapped. "We know who you are!" She shrunk back. "Caliban didn't say anything about Magneto being with them, did he?"

    "No," Harpoon whispered.

    "Ah, Caliban," Magneto laughed. "Deluded by Charles Xavier. A true shame. He had such potential. I wouldn't expect him to sense me. Most can't."

    "What do you want with us?" Feral asked.

    "To give you the oppurtunity to join me, and all of your mutant brothers and sisters with me," Magneto said. He had a warm, inviting, but somehow menacing, tone. "So that you may never have to hide in the sewers again. I am Magneto, as you clearly know. I lead this Brotherhood of Mutants, a group dedicated to the perseverence and dominance of mutant-kind."

    "None of us want to be dominant," Harpoon said. "Just safe."

    "And safe is what you will be," said Magneto.

    "But not the way you want!" Feral cried. "We know what your goals are! Caliban's told everyone what you're like, and these people might be okay with it, but we're not."

    "I beg to differ," said Berzerker, coming to Magneto's side. "He's right, you know."

    "We're not murderers," Harpoon said, getting angry.

    "Nothin' wrong with that!" Sabretooth called.

    "I beg you to reconsider," Magneto said, without a drop in sincerity, "you still have a chance to join us."

    "Heeyyyy!!" Harpoon shouted, getting other Morlocks' attentions. Footsteps were heard approaching from several directions. Masque was the first out, with the young woman Dazzler, whose skin had been badly burned by her own powers, following.

    "So you must be Masque," Magneto said, turning to face him. "Berzerker told me about you. You can change people's appearances. Why don't you?" He glanced at Dazzler.

    "You're not welcome here, Magneto, and neither are your accomplices," said Masque. The animal-ish Wild Child sprang into the corridor as he spoke. "Don't think you can fool us with simple words. You are everything we are against. You are intolerance embodied, no matter what you are!"

    Magneto was clearly affected by the words.

    "You dare speak like that to me!" he seethed. "Berzerker, is this one on your list?" Berzerker nodded. "Destroy him."

    Berzerker's hands opened. Electricity danced from his fingers. It all concentrated between his hands, and shot out in a long bolt, hitting Masque's face. He held the attack until Masque was writhing on the ground. Dazzler screamed, and shrunk away. Wild Child lept past her, and onto Berzerker, clawing wildly at his face. Sabretooth grabbed him.

    "Cute," he said. "This runt reminds me of me when I was young." Wild Child was indeed similar to Sabretooth in his mutation. He slashed at Sabretooth, leaving a wide gap in the larger mutant's face which quickly healed. "Such a shame." He smashed the younger mutant's head into a wall, and started wiping it across. There was a sharp pain in his arm. He dropped Wild Child, who crawled away in terror, hiding behind Dazzler. Harpoon still had his arm raised. His power was to create bursts of deadly energy which destroyed any living tissue it touched. Unfortunately for him, a mutant with a strong healing factor cared little for it. Sabretooth charged. Harpoon threw more bursts, briefly stunning, but never stopping the attacker. Sabretooth swiped a claw filled hand, and cut the poor Morlock's stomach open. Feral jumped on his back, ripping away at Sabretooth with her jaws and claws.

    "Is anyone else ready to 'persuade'?" Magneto asked. "I unfortunately do not see many 'yesses' today. I think we can deal with that."

    "Can we start with them?" Toad asked, pointing to Dazzler and the whimpering Wild Child.

    "Certainly."

    Dazzler screamed. There was a brief flash of extremely bright light, and she and Wild Child were off running. Behind the rest of the Brotherhood, Sabretooth got up from a gory mess. Blood on the ground mixed with water and dirt, and much more when around the body of Harpoon. Feral lay bleeding on the ground. Sabretooth had succeeded in tearing her off his back, after which he had savagely struck her back, raking her eyes and blinding her, as well as breaking several bones. When he left her, she lay on the ground, bleeding from the inside.

    "Berzerker," Magneto said. "Lead the way."
     
  24. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    After some time, Berzerker led the Brotherhood to a cross-roads in the tunnels. Sabretooth sniffed in the openings of each of five tunnels that branched off.

    "A few people hiding in each," he said. "Boss?" Magneto thought for a moment.

    "Berzerker, where will we find the greatest number of your people?" he asked.

    "I can lead you there," Berzerker answered, taking for the second tunnel on the left.

    "Do that," said Magneto. "Gambit, Rogue, join me. The rest of you, seperate and sweep through all of the other ways. When you feel that you are finished, meet back here."

    "Boss, these tunnels seem kinda... small for me," the Blob said. "I can probably fit in one or two alright, but turnin' around might be hard, and-"

    "Fred will stay here and guard the way then," Magneto groaned. "Where the rest of you go is up to you. Berzerker, lead on."

    The treacherous Morlock walked into the tunnel that would lead to the biggest open area in the tunnels, with Gambit and Rogue following.

    "Remember," said Magneto, "at least attempt to convince them to join our side. If they refuse, then dispose of them. I ordinarily wouldn't condone killing other mutants, but most down here can only be trouble to us if we just let them go on if they refuse our offer." He heaved a deep sigh, one that almost sounded regretful, and followed Berzerker.




    "Our efforts have not had the success that I had hoped for," said Apocalypse. He and his followers sat in the secluded home of Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister. "Madripoor was a surprise to all of us, but I see that as a growing experience, if you will. I certainly hope to meet that machine-man again. And the Shadow King was simply deluded. He subscribed to myths about my nature, distorted by overly idealistic ancestors of his through out the generations. With his power, it is a shame what we had to do, but he would have been too much trouble for us had I not killed him. What of those other five?"

    "I've met four of them before," said Sinister. "They're members of the X-Men. I told you about them, remember? I actually once attempted to have them join our side."

    "Yes, and you nearly killed them when they struggled," said Apocalypse. "I do wonder what happened to your 'creations' which you sent out at them."

    "I've given up on trying to harness the Brood," Sinister said. "The X-Men are too prepared for them. The dragons, though, have alot of potential. I'd like to use them again sometime. I hope my assistant has taken care of them."

    "Assistant?" Sauron asked. The winged creature had briefly transformed back into Dr. Karl Lykos since the events in Africa, though Apocalypse himself had touched him, and allowed his energy to bring Sauron back.

    "He's probably lingering in the labs as we speak," Sinister said. "I hope he hasn't broken anything. You'll like him, master. He's... enthusiastic."

    "I'd like to meet him," said En Sabbah Nur, drawing his hood back up. "Take me to him, and your labs. They are of great interest to me."

    "And me," said Sauron.

    "Then follow me," Sinister said, getting up from an over-stuffed armchair. "Arkady, Spiral, make yourselves at home if you're not joining us." He led his master and his colleague off to see his laboratories, and the strange assistant who took care of them.

    When they had gone, Omega Red began pacing about the room.

    "I wonder about all this," he said. "I joined for my own sake. I felt that I'd failed in my own mission back home in mother Russia, and wanted to compensate for it, as well as atone for the death of a friend, and Sinister said that joining this ancient being's crusade would be the solution. Yet, something doesn't ring true about him to me."

    "Like what?" Spiral asked.

    "He said he was a mutant," said Omega Red. "The first mutant. It is what his Egyptian name means, 'the first one'. Yet there are so many holes in his story. For one, that machine man in Madripoor said that he wasn't even a mutant. Then there was the erratic extent of his powers while he was imprisoned, according to Sinister's stories. And also, how could his name be Apocalypse? Why would it be Apocalypse? The apocalypse is supposed to be the end of all things, according to Christianity, yet he was imprisoned ages before Christ."

    "The end of civilization as he sees it, maybe?" Spiral guessed.

    "Maybe," said Omega Red. "Maybe. And did you hear how the Shadow King spoke to him at the end? What did he discover? I don't know if our new master has bad intentions for us, not if we serve him, but is he honest? You may not think it matters, but I do."



    Sinister led En Sabbah Nur and Sauron down a spiral stairway to his labs. Everything seemed clean and in order, if a little frightening to someone not familiar with the bizarre fascinations of Nathaniel Essex.

    "Come out!" Sinister called. "I'm back, with some people whom you need to meet!"

    A shadow scurried across the wall.

    "Who is this?" Apocalypse asked. Someone burst out. He was, in a word, hideous.

    "It's me!" cried the creature, in a squeaky yet loud and energetic voice. "It's the Sugarman!"



    "It'll take a while to get down to the tunnels, especially if we want to go in unnoticed," Marrow said to Professor Xavier. The X-Men, along with Gateway, assembled a few blocks from Grand Central Station. "That would mean at least two hours to get to the Five Corridors, the main entrance."

    "We don't have that long," Professor Xavier lamented. He looked at Gateway. "Though we may have a faster way in."



    Blob leaned against a wall. He'd heard little since the Brotherhood had split up in the tunnels. He hoped it didn't last long. It seemed so cold down there. He heard voices behind him, from where they'd come from. Someone was approaching. Quickly, he realized it was Kitty Pryde, better known to him as Shadowcat. Colossus was behind her.

    "Oh, goddammit!" he roared.
     
  25. bored One Sexy Lemur

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    The Blob nonchalantly moved off to a corner where he wouldn't block any of the corridors. Professor Xavier watched him, content that he'd accomplished what he'd meant. The X-Men, along with Gateway, and the barely conscious Masque, whom Wolverine had sniffed out when they'd been brought into the tunnels. His skin was badly burned, and his hair had fallen out. His eyes were almost shut.

    "I can't do that for everyone, remember this," Xavier said. "Marrow, I want you to show me to the main chamber."

    "Can't Masque take you?" Marrow asked. "I think I should be helping the rest of the team find their ways around here."

    "She's right," Masque said, barely above a whisper. "I can lead you to the platform." Xavier nodded.

    "Okay," he said. "Colossus, come with us." He looked at Gateway. "You come too. I have a feeling we may need more of your talent. Piotr, you are going to be Masque's eyes as we go, so don't get too far ahead of us until I say it's alright. Iceman, divide up the rest of the team among the tunnels."

    Colossus led on, pausing to allow the Professor to establish a mental link between him and Masque, who could use the Russian X-Man's eyes to navigate.

    "Okay," Iceman said. "Nightcrawler, Marrow, stick together. Betsy, follow them. If anyone gets lost, or needs help, try and broadcast to Psylocke. If they do, you tell Sara, and Kurt, you'll teleport them to wherever the person who needs help is."

    "Will she be able to pick us up?" Bishop asked.

    "Give it a shot, we'll hope for the best," said Psylocke. She was hanging in the back of the group, at Angel's side.

    "Okay, Marrow, take those two, and go down whichever tunnel you think you know best," Iceman ordered, icing up his own body. "Warren, follow them for now. That's two tunnels down." He surveyed the remaining three. "Forge, Bishop, and Pyro, you take that one-" he pointed to the tunnel on the far right. "Kitty, Storm, you two go together, and Logan, you're with me. Everyone be careful down here. There's not alot of light, so watch where you step. Anything in particular we should worry about, Sara?"

    "The one John and his group are going down had alot of water leakage when I lived here," Marrow said. "I guess that's the worst of it, as far as I remember."

    "That's good," Iceman said. "Okay, X-Men, move out!"

    The X-Men split into their groups, and hurried down the tunnels.

    "I...will...just...stand...here........" droned the nearly catatonic Blob, standing in his corner.




    Jeanne-Marie Beaubier stood over her brother's body in a hospital inside the Alpha Flight headquarters. A doctor entered the room.

    "Ms. Beaubier, we've had sufficient time to analyze your brother's condition," the doctor said. "There's a possibility that he could wake up, after a little recovery time, but that attack severely damaged his nervous system. We need more time to see if he's functional, though."

    "Can I call our parents?" Jeanne-Marie asked. "I think I'm just going to let them decide what to do with him." She sighed, and wiped the moisture from her face, a mixture of sweat and tears. She called for a secretary who'd been waiting in the hall, hoping for news on some of the people whom Brian Howlett had hurt during his siege.

    "Can you call the administrators for me?" she asked. "I don't think I'm sticking around much longer." She slung her purse over her shoulder, and raced out.
     

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