Title: X-Book 3: Within the Storm - Chapter Twenty-Four: Darkness
Rating: PG-13 (violence, language)
Genre: Crossover, SPOILERS FOR X2
Summary: see prologue for book 3
Disclaimer: I own nothing in regards to the Marvel characters or
any character from a previously published source portrayed in this
Reviews: Any feedback would be great and is appreciated!
Cody's breath blew away from his lips in a visible, white mist, as
the air in the hanger grew colder. He shivered, a reaction stemming
from his lingering, childlike fear, as well as the bitter chill.
Paul put a brotherly arm around his shoulders, and glanced around to
locate the other four of the Lot project. Eddie and the twins still
stood a distance away, hesitant to move as they watched the
uncertain soldiers shift positions.
The mutant known as Wolverine was holding their commander by the
throat, but after the fiery exchange, many of their number had fled,
and the remaining few debated intervening with the powerful mutants.
Andrew, on the other hand, was on his feet again, walking forward
without the aid of his cane. His sightless eyes were fixed on Paul
and Cody, and he reached them easily, weaving around the X-Men and
Brotherhood. Paul spotted Andrew and nodded to reassure him that
Cody was unhurt. He was considering everything around him, and
quickly trying to decide on the best way for the six of them to
escape this place. Paul was the oldest, he was their leader, and he
was tired of taking orders from those who hated them. Those who
would rather see them dead than free...
Like Stryker, who was still forcing menacing laughter through his
Paul shivered himself then, and his eyes stung with icy tears. He
flinched as Rebecca leaned forward, and glared at her.
She reached toward them tentatively, and smiled. Andrew tilted his
head down and looked at her and Sid. The strange déjà vu always
came just before
well, just before he had to speak to Paul for the
Rebecca carefully heated one outstretched hand, and marveled at how
quickly her power had returned. It seemed to be waiting, just
behind her skin. Cody's pull on her had been painful, and it had
not dampened her power's defensive nature...it actually seemed to
make it stronger...
The air around Cody was getting warmer, and he relaxed visibly.
Paul continued to glare at her, untrusting, but his `brother' opened
his eyes slowly and stared up at Rebecca and Sid. His eyes were
wide with childlike curiosity and he looked first at Charlene
McGee's daughter and then her son. A cautious, shy smile spread
across his face, as he looked at them both together.
"You are her!" Cody said, pointing at Rebecca, his neglected voice
cracking, and then he pointed at Sid, "And so are you! You're both
His words contained such a heartbreaking innocence that it caught
the attention of almost everyone else around him. He laughed
quietly with delight, until another voice began to laugh also. It
was vicious...menacing...and very cold...
Cody shrunk down again against Paul, as the sound echoed through the
Stryker also reacted to the sound, and began to struggle fruitlessly
against Wolverine's hold on him. Xavier rolled his chair in the
direction of the sound, which was much closer than it had been when
the dark presence had lingered in the shadows above.
Mary took slow steps along side the Professor, and stared at the
growing dark gathering on the other side of the hanger.
It moved, and the cold moved with it, passing over the mutants, and
the soldiers, the last of their ranks leaving this damned place for
good. Stryker found himself alone, the only human among mutants and
monsters, but he would not have to worry about it for long. The
stranger, appearing in human form underneath the Sentinel, would
take his mind permanently very soon.
Xavier turned and faced the figure beneath the Sentinel
unflinchingly. Magneto, without consideration for circumstance,
walked up beside him. They were both leaders here, they both had
people to command, people to protect, if not for the same reasons.
The stranger knew this very well. There was another wave of rolling
laughter and an icy wind blew across the room
"It seems..." the stranger began, "...the governing powers here have
Stryker pulled in vain again on Wolverine's hold, his eyes wide with
mindless terror. In many ways, William Stryker had died under the
waters of Alkalai Lake, and this writhing man was only of ghost of
what had been. But, of course, he was only one of a few ghosts who
had lived beyond that day...
Xavier focused his mind on the figure in the shadows, but his power
was held back by the dark force.
"In a moment, Charles," the stranger said, "I'm speaking to the
Stryker's body suddenly became rigid and Wolverine tried to keep his
hold on the man's shoulders. Stryker's head jerked back
unexpectedly and slammed into Wolverine's face. The General's skull
was no equal to the X-Man's metal bones, and the impact created a
gruesome indentation in the back of Stryker's head. But, he did not
feel it. Stryker was dead, reanimated only for a short time by the
stranger's machinations, and now set to his final use.
Wolverine staggered backward from the blow, though it hadd not done
much damage. The blood on his forehead was more Stryker's than his
own. He gaped in shock as the General's body staggered about dozen
steps before it fell to the ground.
More laughter turned the attention of those in the room away from
fallen man, and no one saw Stryker turn over and sit up slowly. In
one hand, he held the gun Logan had knocked out of his grasp when he
had stopped him from shooting Rogue.
"Time to kill mutants, William," the stranger's voice rang painfully.
Rebecca screamed as the gunfire began.
Paul could only watch in horror as Stryker leveled the gun at
Andrew. The blind mutant smiled sadly. He was a seer, after all,
and had seen this day coming long ago.
"Andrew!" Paul said urgently. He shifted Cody over to Rebecca
roughly, grasping for his other `brother' as three bullets struck
him in the back.
"Goodbye, Paul," he said softly, and closed his eyes a moment before
"NO!" Paul screamed and then cried out in pain as a bullet struck
Wolverine ran toward Stryker's body but was held in place by an
unseen force. Magneto did have his hand raised, but not to control
the Wolverine. He was trying to halt the bullets, but he was unable
to stop the metal from striking. Cyclops tried to fire a beam of
energy from his visor, but the light seemed to only reflect back
painfully. Sabertooth also tried to reach the armed corpse, but was
held back as firmly as Wolverine.
Xavier tried, just as those of the X-Men and Brotherhood had, to
stop the dead General, but every effort was met with bitter laughter
from the dark.
Mary turned in the direction of the stranger's voice and screamed.
"Stop it! For God's sake, STOP!" she shouted, and the stranger
growled in recognition.
"Don't try to interfere, bitch," the voice spat.
Mary did not turn away, but began to take quick steps toward the
darkness beneath the Sentinel.
Stryker's gun, moved by the stranger, leveled finally on Cody. He
fired only once, but the damage was two-fold.
Cody was struck in the neck and Rebecca had been cradling him
closely. The bullet passed through her right shoulder.
She screamed again, but did not let go of the other mutant. Sid
wrapped his arms around both of them and began to drag them
Paul was struggling to move, and saw Eddie, Max and Jack staring at
him with confusion and terror.
"Go!" he screamed to them, "Go! Run! Get away!"
His `brothers' did not listen, and continued to move toward him and
the gunfire. Paul put his hands to his temples and 'pushed' the
three of them hard with his mind. His head roared with pain and his
nose began to bleed again, but he watched his remaining brothers run
out the hanger doors. He hoped they would find somewhere safe,
anywhere that was not here
Stryker's gun was slowly taking aim again, and Wolverine saw it
moving toward where Gambit was holding Rogue. He growled with
effort as he fought the stranger's hold.
Mary was less than thirty feet from the Sentinel, when she spoke
"Stop," was all she said, yet the dark seemed to flinch back. If
any of the others had seen her eyes then, they would have seen a
glimpse of the untapped, secret force within. But she only faced
the stranger in the dark
In the moment the shadows were distracted, Wolverine was able to
lurch forward and leapt toward the dead General. His claws were
out, and he plunged them into the body violently. The gun fired,
but missed its target. The undead body of Stryker incredibly fought
to aim again, but ten claws exited its chest from behind. The tips
of the other set of adamantium claws ended within inches of
Wolverine's face, and began to tear downward. Wolverine jerked his
own claws upward, until the body of General William Stryker dropped
the weapon it held and finally was still.
Wolverine withdrew his claws, and the other claws did the same. The
body fell, and he was face to face again with the Lady called
Deathstrike. There was no emotion in either of them as they stepped
away from the body, and left the past behind.
The darkness grew again, and the voice of the stranger spoke in
"Now, you see what I could do," the stranger said, "What I will do
to them all, Charles
if you do no give me what I've come for
Magneto turned to face the new enemy with fury.
"I will give you nothing, murderer," he said darkly.
"Nor will I," Xavier agreed, and then he saw how close Mary was to
"I believe you will
" the stranger replied bitterly.
Above him, the Sentinel roared to life. The disk-shaped device
began to expand, and they all could only watch as it took humanoid
form. Its eyes, once green to see in the dark, were now a dark
red. Mary could see that the stranger's eyes shone the same color.
No one noticed the heat growing behind them, as they were focused on
the ice and cold. Rebecca was wounded, but still cradling Cody as
he died. He was trying to speak, trying to cry, but his voice was
gone. She cried for him as he looked up at her. She wondered if
her mother had ever held him like this, when he was a child.
" the stranger said, "I will tell you what I want and you, each
of you," he said referring to the two mutant leaders, "will
voluntarily hand over what is yours."
Magneto scoffed, his own arrogance making him much more difficult to
sway than Stryker.
"What is it that you think we will give you?" he asked, and the
Xavier knew what the answer would be and stared gravely forward.
" the stranger said, motioning to all the other mutants in the
hanger, "You will give me them, of course. Your followers. I will
tell you I cannot take them, which is why I tried to make use of the
departed General. However, William was a terrible disappointment.
I'm hoping you will be more understanding
The Sentinel took a heavy step forward, and the ground shook.
Mary was trembling when she spoke again, "Children
The stranger glared at her, the amused smile falling from his face.
"Not this time," he hissed, "But, perhaps again soon. I understand
Charles has quiet a collection
Xavier was staring at Mary as she spoke. Something within her mind,
some new power, caught his attention. A light, shining against the
darkness, seemed to overtake her consciousness.
The darkness shrunk back again, but the stranger outstretched his
hand. Mary choked in surprise as the dark force seized her heart.
She was lifted off the ground, and the stranger sneered.
"Should I start with this one, Charles?" he asked viciously, "She
seems so eager to join the fun!"
"NO!" Mary screamed, and the light within burst forth.
The others had to shield their eyes as the light pierced through the
darkness. The stranger shrieked, the same sound as before, in rage
Mary was dropped to the floor, but kept her eyes fixed on the
" she struggled to speak, "No, not ever
As the light shone, the stranger felt the same voice that had driven
him off before, and he knew he was no match for this light.
Nightcrawler was holding his crucifix tightly as the battle raged.
Light and darkness
good and evil
his rosary felt as if it was
humming in his hands.
With one final shriek, the darkness dissipated, taking the stranger
Xavier felt cold words pass through his mind one last time.
not over, Charles
I will have what I want
Mary was gasping on the floor, but she did not lose consciousness
again. The power was fading, and waves of emotions overwhelmed
her. She began to sob uncontrollably, and covered her face with her
Xavier reached her first, and put a hand on her shoulder. She
wanted to pull away, but had no will to move as her body shuttered
Magneto frowned as he watched Xavier comfort the weeping young
woman, whom he did not recognize. His eyes moved and fell upon Sid
and Rebecca Malloy. He walked toward them quickly.
Rebecca was still holding Cody in her arms, rocking slowly back and
forth. She felt Sid to her right, trying to hold her still as he
examined the bullet wound on her shoulder.
To her left, Toad was crouching next to her with Pyro standing
behind him. The sorrow on her face was less disturbing than the
blank look in her eyes. Toad was not sure how to help, how to
comfort. He drew a white cloth from one of the many pockets in his
jacket and held it against the wound in her back. The bullet had
cut through her shoulder completely, and the red stains on her shirt
Finally, Erik reached them and knelt down in front of Rebecca. Sid
put a protective arm around her shoulders, no longer trusting
Magneto after Xavier revealed the truth about the Sentinel attack.
However, his face looked distant, as if he understood the trauma
this young woman was experiencing.
"Rebecca," he said firmly, but not unkindly, "He's dead. He's dead,
you have to let him go
After a moment, Rebecca seemed to hear him, and glanced up at Erik
Carefully, Magneto pulled Cody from her arms, and laid his body down
on the ground. Paul, moving with slow painful steps, fell in a heap
next to him and began to weep again. Two of his brothers were dead,
and three had run out into the storm. He felt so cold
have felt so cold
but he was sweating
"Rest in peace, brother," Magneto said over the dead mutant, and
Paul looked up at him. There was something in the way the man in
crimson had said `brother' that caught Paul's attention
Rebecca was staring down at Cody's body, when she felt Sid's hands
on her face.
"She needs a doctor," Toad said quickly, stating the obvious but
only because he did not know what else to say. Rebecca's face was
so pale, so empty of life, and her brother was only staring at her
"Becca," Sid said softly, his palms held firmly against her burning
you were hurt
"Did you hear me?" Toad shouted at him, "She needs a bloody doctor!"
Sid ignored him, as Rebecca's head lulled downward. Sid glanced at
Toad quickly, and the fright in the young man's eyes surprised the
"Don't you understand?" Sid said, "She's been attacked! Her body
but her mind feels it more
you don't understand what
happens when she's attacked!"
Toad's eyes widened, finally comprehending what Sid was referring
to. Back at her home, just being chased and knocked around had
caused the fire to come
now she had been shot
Rebecca suddenly raised her head, and met Sid's eyes with her own
which were blazing with orange light
" she said in a calm voice, "Get them out
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