Disclaimer, etc., in Prologue
The first hint we had of trouble was when Ororo went missing.
I hadn't seen her around the mansion for a few weeks, but I didn't think
much about it. Ororo sometimes took off on vacations to exotic places by
herself, and frankly, I was too busy obsessing over Logan to notice much
Jubilee, Kitty and I were decking the halls in preparation for Christmas
and discussing what Jubes called my "Logan Issues" when the professor
called me to his office. When I walked in, Logan, Scott and Jean were
It was unusual for me to be included in a meeting with the "real" X-Men,
so I wasn't sure what to do. Logan smiled slightly and motioned to the
empty chair next to him. As I sat down, Professor X got right to the
"Storm is missing."
Logan and I exchanged a look and waited for the professor to continue.
"I sent Ororo to a small town in Ohio two weeks ago to investigate some
reports of strange electrical storms. Of course, at this time of year,
such storms are rare, and they have occurred nearly nightly in a fairly
small area of the state. The authorities contacted me because they
believed the storms were manmade. Or, rather, mutant made."
"Another mutant with powers like Storm's?" Scott asked.
"We believed so," Xavier said. "Ororo was attempting to contact this
person, but she wasn't having much luck."
"Maybe they're shy," Logan drawled.
Xavier smiled faintly. "Ororo had similar thoughts, Logan. She had
planned to put on a little lightshow of her own to draw out the other
mutant. That was two days ago. I haven't heard from her since."
"What about Cerebro?" Jean asked.
"I used Cerebro, and as far as I can tell, she's still in the area, but
beyond that I get nothing." He sighed. "She's alive, but I believe she
Jean sucked in a breath, and Scott reached over and took, her hand.
"We'll find her," he said confidently.
"Has there been any other strange weather, or just thunderstorms?"
"That's a good question," he said, and I felt like I was back in class
again. Gold star for Rogue. "The reports said severe lightning. No rain
or thunder, and no other phenomena."
Professor Xavier looked at Scott. "I want you four to take the Blackbird
and find Storm. Rogue, I know you're wondering why you're here. We've
been impressed with your training and performance so far, and I thought
this would be a perfect time to send you out." He smiled faintly. "I
don't expect this mission to be dangerous, but I knew Logan wouldn't let
you out of his sight, so we'll let him tag along."
Scott laughed, prompting a half-hearted growl from Logan. As we filed
out of the office, he bumped me with his shoulder. "Hey, kid. Ready for
the big leagues?"
I sighed. "We'll see."
Cedar Hollow was a tiny farming community with a population of 20. OK,
I'm being sarcastic; I'm sure there were at least 50 people living
there. The sign said 200, but unless they're counting the cows, I'd say
that's false advertising.
We decided to forgo the X-Men uniforms, since most farming towns didn't
have many leather-clad strangers prancing around the streets. We were
bound to stick out like the proverbial sore thumb anyway; there was no
reason to make it worse.
Scott landed the jet outside of town, where Xavier had somehow managed
to have a forest green SUV waiting for us. Never underestimate the power
of a rich, psychic genius like Professor X.
We drove slowly through town, past the tractor store, two churches, a
sports bar called The Cheap Seats, a diner called Abigail's, and ...
well, that was about it. There were a few houses, but I assumed most of
the people lived on farms in the area.
"So ..." Logan mused. "How 'bout we split up and check out that bar and
Scott nodded. "Good idea. Why don't you and Rogue check out Abigail's,
Logan interrupted. "How 'bout you and Jeannie check out the diner. Rogue
and I got the bar."
"Rogue shouldn't be in a bar," Jean said. "She's not even 21."
Logan snorted. "Honey, we MET in a bar, and she was only 17 then."
I guess that information wasn't widely known. When I came to Xavier's, I
told the professor everything, but apparently he hadn't shared it with
Scott and Jean.
"What?" Scott sounded so horrified, I had to laugh.
"Yep," I said, putting an arm around Logan and grinning. "I picked him
up in a bar. Or he picked me up. Not sure."
Scott sighed. "Never mind. I don't want to know."
Logan and I headed for The Cheap Seats, which was just like any other
sports bar on the face of the planet. It was 3 in the afternoon, so the
place was pretty deserted.
There was an old man at one end of the bar, staring into a drink and
talking to himself. The music from the jukebox, some country tune, was
mostly drowned out by the trio of men screaming at the big screen TV in
the corner, which was showing a basketball game.
Logan and I sat at the other end of the bar.
"Buy you a drink?" he asked.
"A beer'd be great."
"You're underage," he said gruffly.
"I got the taste for it from you," I said.
"Look, I don't care what you drink, but One-Eye'd be pissed if I--"
"Ohhhhhhh," I said, smirking. "So you're worried about what Scott would
"Marie," he whined.
I could tell he was weakening, so I titled my head and gave him the
puppy dog eyes.
"Shit," he muttered. The bartender came over and Logan sighed. "Two
The bartender checked me out and smiled. He probably knew I was
underage, but he didn't card me. He looked to be in his late 20s, not
bad looking, with dark hair and a Tom Cruise-esque grin. He wore a
flannel shirt over a faded R.E.M. T-shirt and a baseball cap turned
I looked at Logan, who shrugged and sipped his beer. "Hey, you're the
X-Woman," he said softly. "I'm just taggin' along, remember?"
I took a gulp of beer and put on my most helpless face. We Southern
girls can do "damsel in distress" better than anyone on earth. "Excuse
me?" I said, laying my drawl on think and leaning on the bar, flashing
what little cleavage I had. Couldn't hurt, right? "Could you help me?"
The bartender almost tripped rushing over to me, and Logan snorted into
"What can I do you for?" the bartender asked, eyeing my breasts.
OK, flashing cleavage was not my greatest idea. It was kind of gross,
actually. I sat back and restrained myself from rolling my eyes. Barely.
"I'm lookin' for a friend of mine, sugar. She was here in Cedar Hollow
for a couple of weeks, and I haven't heard from her in a few days." I
pulled out a photo of Storm. "This is her."
The guy stared at the photo for a moment and then frowned. "Um, yeah.
She was here. Listen. ... I'm sorry to tell you this, but your friend is
LOGAN: You gonna tell me to stay away from your girl?
SCOTT: If I had to do that, she wouldn't be my girl.