Noah and the Storm (3/5)
- It was hard to tell exactly when the following turned into a wagon chase,
but some distance away from town, Magento had definitely understood what was
going on. While Mystique, still in Hennessey�s form, kept driving the
carriage Magneto turned around and faced the X-Men. Scott, who was driving
at a speed where he should statistically have bumped into something quite
some time ago, quickly put a hand up to his face to protect his glasses.
Feeling them slipping away under his fingers anyway, he squeezed his eyes
shut and hurried to stop the horses. Even while he did this, the nails and
bolts in the wagon loosened and fell to the ground, causing the wagon to
fall into pieces.
�Stop him!� Scott yelled, but the order was really unnecessary, the others
had already gotten started. Ororo�s eyes rolled back and she felt the energy
building up around her. Cold winds lifted up Magneto�s carriage and flipped
it over, causing its passengers to roll out of it and land on the ground. It
was hard for any of the X-Men to keep their ground while the wind bit, but
they had trained this procedure and knew how to keep their balance. But
there was something else, someone else, just outside of view, who wasn�t so
lucky. There was no time to think of that right now. She simply slowed the
wind and hoped the horses hadn�t gotten hurt.
Bobby and Jean were working together to get control of Magneto. Jean made
the boards that had once been their wagon fly around in a swirling circle,
closer and closer to the old man, while Bobby tied them together with ice.
Magneto spotted the danger and immediately heaved Logan up in the air,
forcing his claws out so violently it made him scream, and plunged him into
the two of them. Jean�s hands immediately flew up to protect herself, and as
Logan stopped in midair, fighting himself with all his strength to keep the
claws away from his team-mates� bodies, the iced boards fell to the ground
now that Jean could no longer hold them up.
Unfortunately, Jean�s trick had also given Magneto a tip, and the spikes
and bolts from the X-Men�s wagon flew up in the air. So far, Scott and Rogue
had been taking down Mystique pretty flawlessy with joined efforts, but now
the constant ducking slowed down the fight. Mystique�s agility gave her an
advantage over the others, since Rogue was still in training and Scott had
to compensate for his closed eyes. To prevent Mystique from getting away,
Scott gave her a football tackle that would have made his old gym teacher
proud. They landed on the ground and Rogue crouched next to them, covering
her face from spikes.
Then there was the unexpected sound of gunshots, and the X-Men cursed to
themselves. The last thing they needed was the cavalery coming to their
rescue and unwillingly arming Magneto so much more. Ororo was still working
on the winds, but even with whitened eyes she had a strange sort of view
over her surroundings, and she noticed three people moving closer to them,
stunned by the strange scenario, but not too much to keep shooting. One of
them was Noah, the other two were the Indian and the mute, both holding onto
�No guns! He controls metal!� she shouted, but too late. The weapons were
snatched away from the riders� hands, and something pulled at Buck�s foot,
causing him to slide down on the ground. His knife worked its way through
the leather boot and rushed forward to Ororo, where it stopped right by her
throat, pressing a drop of blood from under her larynx. If she as much as
swallowed, it would hurt her more.
But there were only two guns flying in the air, and although the number of
weapons were three with Buck�s knife, neither of them belonged to Noah.
Ororo looked up at the rider and noticed a leather whip hanging by his side.
Magneto gave little attention to the three normies, considering them a small
threat. Ororo called on the electricity of the sky, and as dark clouds drew
closer she mouthed *whip* to Noah, hoping he would understand.
He did. Trying to stay away from everything flying around in the air, he
grabbed the whip and let it fly through the air. It caught Magneto�s legs
and he fell over, at a clearing big enough for Ororo to work without hitting
someone else. A thin line of lightning, enough to stun but not to kill (she
hoped), cracked down and straight into Magneto�s body.
Things fell to the ground in a garbage symphony. Scott took the opportunity
to knock Mystique out, and Logan rolled off Bobby and Jean, moaning in pain.
His claws went back inside with a *snikt*. Still sore, he forced himself up
and over to Rogue, whom he caught in a rough hug.
�You okay, kid?�
�Yeah,� she said, then contradicted herself by wincing as his shoulder
brushed against a gash caused by flying spikes. �Don�t touch.�
�I wasn�t going to.�
Scott moved up to sitting position and checked on Mystique with one hand to
make sure she was still out. �Anyone seen my glasses?� he asked, and Jean
looked around to see if she could find them. They were lying a few feet away
from Magneto�s unconscious body and didn�t appear broken, so she pulled them
up in the air and towards Scott.
�Hold your hand out.�
He did as he was told, waiting for the glasses to land in his palm. Once
they did, he checked them with his fingers to make sure there were no small
but lethal cracks before putting them back in place. Everyone�s movements
were of the sore and cautious kind usually following a fight, taking care of
the prisoners and making sure all pieces were still attached to their
bodies. In the middle of this, the riders stood staring, still
shell-shocked. Ororo was the first one to remember them, and turned to Noah,
who swallowed at the concerned look from her eyes, now back to blue. Since
this time knew not of mutants, his face showed none of the contempt she had
gotten used to, just shock, disbelief and a fear she had preferred not to
�Thank you,� she said, not knowing what else to tell him.
He licked his lips, and his voice was hoarse when he asked her: �What are
His friends looked like they were about to ask the same question, and Buck
mumbled something she did not understand but suspected was religious. Ike
wasn�t quite Catholic enough to cross himself, but it wasn�t far from.
�I... I do suppose we owe you an explanation. Can it wait, though? It�s a
long story, and we have to think of what to do with Magneto.� She saw his
confusion and added: �The man we fought.�
Noah�s eyes drifted to the unconscious man the other X-Men were tying up,
frail-looking and yet so dangerous, and then to the peculiar female
creature. �Yeah... Should we take him to the prison or something? He did try
to kill you.�
�If he had tried to kill us, we would have been dead,� Logan raised his
voice to say. He spoke with a certain bitterness, knowing that this applied
even to him. With all his healing abilities, if Magneto had wanted to, he
could have simply squeezed in a metal-clad skull and distorted the vertebrae
under it, and that would have been the end. �And no prison would hold him.
We need to keep him somewhere away from metal, if that�s even possible
The calmness of the X-Men seemed to have a soothing effect even on the
riders, who began to look at this practically. Ike signed a suggestion, and
Buck shook his head. �There are spikes in the walls.�
�Walls tend to have those,� Noah said. Then a thought struck him.
�Teaspoon�s sweat lodge.�
�Great,� Ororo said, smiling widely. The X-Men started getting ready to go,
and she could see in their faces that they were as surprised at the turn of
things as she was. There was still a cautiousness in the way the riders
moved around them, but the promise of an explanation later had been
accepted. She walked up to Noah and had to resist the urge to put her hand
in his. That would certainly unhinge him.
�Thanks,� she said, her voice low.
�Yeah, you said that.� He was looking straight ahead, avoiding her gaze.
�That�s not what I meant.�
He didn�t say anything for quite some time. Not until they were almost by
the station did he speak again. �I don�t know what the hell you are, but I
saw how careful you were -- all of you -- not to hurt anyone.� He was
uncomfortable talking to her now. Lying had been one thing, but this... Was
she even human? That wasn�t the kind of question you could throw into a
discussion. Cody could have done it, perhaps, but not he. �So. I�m on your
side I guess.� It sounded so harsh, so condemning, and so he softened it by
saying the word he had been repeating in his head since last night. �Ro...
Ro, we�re almost there.�
She looked up at him, trying to catch his look, but he was still turned
away. Still there was something in his posture that made her dare to slip
those long, dark fingers into his palm. He flinched at her touch, but didn�t
move away. Instead after a short moment, he squeezed her hand, with a
firmness that didn�t mirror the hesitation in his mind.
Putting Magneto in the sweat lodge wasn�t exactly something they could do
unnoticed, and Mystique was even worse. Logan carried her towards the stable
and was met in the doorway by a rider whose eyes looked like they were about
to pop out at the sight of the beautiful naked lady covered in blue scales.
Hardly surprising, but Ororo started to wonder exactly how many people would
have to hear this explanation she had promised Noah. Everyone at the
station? How many were they anyway? This rider was certainly a new one, but
then Noah had said there was only one she hadn�t met, apart from the station
manager and the house keeper, and this was certainly neither of those. So
this must be what�s-his-name, obviously waiting to find out what on earth
was going on. She hadn�t quite counted on an official outing, but then
again, they didn�t seem to have a choice.
There was a ring of riders watching the bruised X-Men, but nobody said
anything. How were you supposed to explain that you were a mutant to people
who had no idea what a mutant was? Usually after a show like the one they
had just given, there would be no explanations needed, just a whole bunch of
�mutie freak� remarks and projectiles to duck from.
�Not finding a good place to start?� Noah finally said, sounding
�We�re mutants,� Logan said harshly, leaning back in the chair. �The next
step in evolution, genetically enhanced humans, yada yada yada.�
�Logan, they have no idea what you�re talking about,� Jean pointed out. �I
don�t know if Darwin has even presented his theories yet. And �yada yada
yada� definitely doesn�t exist as a term yet.�
�Charles Darwin?� Teaspoon asked, suddenly interested. ��The Origin of the
Species by Means of Natural Selection�?�
Jimmy groaned. �That ape fellow?�
�That�s him,� Jean said with a smile, grateful that this part could be
explained at last. �He spoke of the origin of the species. We�re the next
�The next step as in...� Buck asked.
�From the future. About one hundred and fifty years from now.�
Obviously there was a forceful reaction to that. Lou burst into a
hysterical laughter, and those of the residents who hadn�t been at the
fighting scene looked very disbelieving.
�I swear I saw that in a book Cody was reading,� Rachel said, biting her
lower lip so she wouldn�t start giggling.
The ones who had seen what the X-Men could do found no reason to laugh. Kid
threw a glance at the serious face of Noah, who was sitting beside him. �You
don�t believe them, do you?�
Noah shrugged. If it was true as they said, that they were people from the
future, that was a whole lot less scary than if they had been witches or
demons, the only other options he could find. So he wanted it to be true.
But he could understand why the others were disbelieving.
�You might have to show them,� he said to Ororo.
�Not in here.�
The X-Men looked at each other, trying to figure out whose powers were
appropriate for indoors use and not too intimidating. Finally, Jean nodded.
�Do you want a cup of coffee?� she asked Teaspoon.
�Yes, Miss Grey, that would be lovely,� he replied automatically.
A coffeepot wasn�t much of a challenge to Jean. She gave a mental command
that lifted it slowly, then tilted it to pour the coffee. The riders stared
at the pot like it was hypnotizing them.
�Sugar?� Jean asked softly, trying to keep up a normal tone of
conversation. Teaspoon nodded silently. Without changing her calm behaviour,
she lifted a lump of sugar into the cup, put in a spoon, stirred and let the
cup float away to Teaspoon. He caught it and looked up at Jean, dumbfounded.
She smiled reassuringly at him.
Noah had to grin when he saw the looks on his fellow riders� faces. Didn�t
seem like such a joke when you�d seen them in action, did it? He still
didn�t understand much of what was going on, but seeing Jean pour the coffee
was quite comforting after that hellraising fight. At least this wasn�t
dangerous. They were more than just warriors.
�Witchcraft,� Jimmy muttered, and Noah shot him a dirty look. It was one
thing to think it, but you shouldn�t say things like that about people,
especially not in their presence. He glanced at Ororo to see how she
reacted, and was shocked to find that she didn�t seem to have reacted much
at all. Her eyes got a little sadder, perhaps, but showed no surprised.
Looking up at the others only confirmed the strange suspicion. They had
expected comments like that. They may even have heard it before. That both
enraged him and comforted him. Whatever she was, she was a whole lot more
like him than he would have wanted her to be.
�I never heard of witches groing knives from their hands,� Buck said in a
low voice, his dark eyes focusing on Logan. Noah scowled, thinking this
looked far too much like a trial.
�Oh, so you noticed that,� Logan muttered, looking down at his knuckles.
Since everybody seemed to be expecting it from him, he let the claws pop
out. The people around jumped back instinctively.
�You�ve got metal growing from your body?� Lou asked breathlessly.
�Not growing as such,� Logan replied shortly, letting his claws slide back
in. �They�re artificial.�
�Why would anyone want to have knives in their body?� Kid asked,
disapproval evident in his voice. Logan shot him a disgusted look. Jesus,
and he thought Scott was self-righteous, this one was much worse.
�It�s not like they asked me first.�
There was an awkward moment of silence as the riders realized they were
entering dangerous territory. Finally Ike signed a question and Buck
translated it for him: �What else can you guys do?� It had, after all, been
hard to tell who was doing what in the fight.
�You did something to the lightning, didn�t you?� Noah asked Ororo. �To
make it hit that man.�
�That�s right,� she replied. �I control the weather. They call me Storm,�
she added, smiling a little.
�Downside to this is we get rain every time she�s moody,� Bobby pointed out
in a cheeky fashion.
�Well, it�s better than having an ice rink in the hall,� she cut back at
him. �Bobby makes ice,� she explained to the confused riders.
�Weather and ice,� Buck repeated, shaking his head. �That is god-like.�
�We�re not gods,� Ororo said. �I was worshipped as one, once, in Tanzania,
but we�re really just people. Different, but people.�
Teaspoon noticed the choice of words: �So, not even in the future everyone
is like you?�
�Only about one out of every ten thousand.�
This made him raise an eyebrow, but he didn�t say anything further.
�What about you?� Jimmy asked Logan. �Apart from the knives.�
Logan looked straight ahead, uncomfortable with the situation, and replied
in an almost soldier-like fashion. �I heal very fast. And I also have these
enhanced senses. Scent mostly, but sight and hearing too.�
�As strong as an animal�s?� Buck asked, interested at this. Logan looked at
him thoroughly, and came to a favourable opinion.
�Like a wolverine�s. That�s what they call me, anyway.�
�He can track like no one else at the mansion!� Bobby said
enthusiastically. �He notices things none of us even realize existed.�
Logan shrugged, amused at the idolization but not about to deny something
that was obviusly true. �Cut some slack to One-Eye, though, kid. His hearing
isn�t half bad.�
Scott raised an eyebrow at the unexpected compliment. �Thanks.� He noticed
the anticipation in everyone�s faces and realized they expected him to go
next. �I have energy blasts coming from my eyes.� His voice was calm, and
his hand automatically flew up to touch the frame of his glasses.
The riders who had been at the fighting scene looked thoughtful, trying to
remember any blasts. There had been none.
�You didn�t use those blasts in the fight?� Buck said in a questioning
�I need a visor or my glasses to control them,� Scott said, calm although
he hated admitting weakness. �Otherwise I just destroy everything in sight.�
There was no way to say that without shocking the riders. While the
previous examples of mutation could be passed off as primarily interesting,
this was dangerous more than anything else. Ororo chose to be cynical about
it. At least it was better to start with Scott than with Rogue, whose power
was even more of a curse to her. Scott had ten years of experience, he could
take the attitude problems better than Rogue could. In the half-dim light of
the bunk house, the weak red light from his eyes behind the glasses actually
created a glow around his face. Normally you didn�t even notice it until he
blinked and the lenses darkened.
�I don�t see what that has to do with hearing,� Kid finally said.
�It�s not a mutant power. Just a lot of practice.� Scott glanced across the
room towards Rogue, who seemed to shrink in her chair. Without drawing any
attention to the gesture, Logan put his hand on her arm. The metal inside
made it weigh her down heavily, but she didn�t mind. The weight only meant
strength, protection, and a reminder that when it came to killing, she may
be the most unfortunate, but they were all in the same boat. That didn�t
prevent her from looking down at the floor when she replied to the unspoken
�When people touch my skin, I take their life away. Powers too, if they�re
�As in... you kill them?� Lou asked, wanting to make sure she had heard
Rogue blushed. �If I don�t let go right away,� she mumbled.
�Poor thing,� Rachel said, handing her a cup of coffee. It was impossible
to get scared of this sad girl, in spite of what she had just said. Rachel
saw Logan�s hand on Rogue�s arm, unconsciously compared it to what she had
just heard, and rendered it safe to pat the girl�s hand a little.
Noah looked over at where Ororo sat, and he wished his mind could have been
more benevolent. This wasn�t a game. Although they had done their best to
ease the effect revealing their powers had to the riders, it was still
pretty clear that every single one of these people could kill you in a
heartbeat if they wanted to. And it was also clear that it wasn�t a
possibility of which they were unaware. He had no doubt the girl�s sadness
was genuine, but he was pretty sure that even if she hadn�t willingly used
her eerie power on anyone yet, it was only a matter of time before she did.
They weren�t just some fortunate freaks from a future time, they were
warriors. The main interest was, warriors for what side, in what war? And
those adversaries out there, who were they?
�So who are the guys out there?� Jimmy asked. Noah could hear that this
wasn�t the only thought they had in common. It didn�t surprise him. Jimmy
wasn�t the kind to just start trusting people, not ever. Normally, he was
the same way.
Jean looked up at Jimmy. She knew what he and some of the others were
thinking, and she wasn�t the least bit surprised. On the contrary, she was
grateful for the half chance they had been given. It was more than their
usual share. �Their names are Erik Magnus Lensherr and Raven Darkholme --
Magneto and Mystique to anyone not in their immediate range of friends. And
their immediate range of friends isn�t big.�
�And that don�t include you, does it?� Teaspoon assumed with half a smile.
Jean blinked, but replied: �Not really, no.� She wondered how much she was
supposed to tell them, and silently asked Scott. While his exterior remained
unreadable, his mind was aiding her in finding the right words. Nothing
about the attempted genocide. If the riders ever found out about that, it
would be incomprehensible for them why Magneto wasn�t just strung up a tree,
no questions asked, no need to worry about his immense powers later. This
was that kind of time. �They�re criminals.�
�And you�re what? Marshals?�
�Not as such.� This was hard. Scott helped her choose information and she
voiced it. Always the speaker. �Our goals just weren�t the same as his were,
and we have the ability to stop him. Not many others do.� She tied the
half-worded commands from Scott into sentences. �Also, this particular case
is personal. Magneto kidnapped a friend of ours.� He also came here using a
device invented by another friend, but Scott strongly advised Jean not to
Realization hit Noah. No wonder Ororo had been so interested in hearing
Cody�s wild tales. When Cody came back from his ride, he�d be pleased to
know he had been right all the time. �Cody�s blue beast.�
�Yes,� Jean said. �That�s Hank.�
�I�m sorry, I didn�t mean to...�
�That�s quite alright. Beast is his code name.�
�But he�s human?� Jimmy asked.
�Would you call me human, bub?� Logan snarled, and the rider watched him
thoughtfully, actually considering the question. Jimmy certainly had a thing
for playing with death.
The riders looked at each other, contemplating the information they had
gotten. They were smart enough to realize it was far from the whole truth,
but it was quite a lot to take in anyway. And the strangest of it all was
that it was true. Buck was the first to look up, eyes wandering from Ororo�s
hair via Scott�s glasses to Rogue�s long gloves before they finally stopped
to ask Ike a question. Although nothing seemed to pass between them, Ike�s
mouth soon twisted a little and he raised his eyebrows at Noah, who didn�t
know what to do next. He supposed, with everything that had been going on
with him and Ororo, it was his decision, and he really wanted to trust her.
Still, trust based on attraction had gotten them all in trouble too many
times, and so he turned to Jimmy, question yet unspoken.
Jimmy looked back, shrugged, and smiled lopsidedly. �Yeah, sure. We�ll help
�So,� Noah said, leaning his chin on his hands.
�So,� Ororo agreed.
�You lied to me. But I would have lied too, that�s not what I meant. I...�
This wasn�t fair, he thought to himself. All he had wanted was to have a
nice little flirt with a young girl, maybe moving on from that to something
more serious. But now she wasn�t just some young girl, she was a superhuman
girl from the future, and he didn�t know how to deal with that. He didn�t
even have time to figure out how to deal with that, since they would be
heading back to where they came from as soon as they had found their blue
furry friend. Why had she even bothered to get this started? She knew all
this from the start, he didn�t.
�I�m sorry. I liked you, I guess I just... wanted to forget about the rest
for a while.�
He looked sharply at her, surprised by her tone of voice. �Are you ashamed
of yourself or something?�
�No! Of course not. It�s just that with the way we have to live, I�m not
used to being around normals. Not to mention normals from another time.�
A grin spread over his face. �I think I know how you feel.�
Her lips twisted. �Yeah. I�d like to say �Let�s take it slow�, but I don�t
think that�s an option.�
�I guess not.� He wanted to say something else, but didn�t have time to
find the words before Scott came up to them.
�Sorry to disturb you,� he said, although the apology seemed half-hearted.
�I�m going to talk to Magneto, do you want to join me?�
She nodded and stood up, feeling in her pockets. Nothing metal there, and
the clothes had been chosen to be metal-free to begin with.
Noah rose as well. �You�re not going in there alone, are you?� he asked,
suddenly feeling the desire to protect her. That was insane. She could kill
him in ten seconds if she wanted to.
�No, I�m going in with Scott,� she explained in a reasonable tone, as if he
was a little kid.
Scott looked at Noah, at least he supposed that. It was hard to tell what
was going on behind those glasses. �Get rid of anything metal, bring the
whip, and let us do the talking,� he said.
�You got it.� Noah quickly checked his appearance, replacing his belt with
a piece of string, and then followed the mutants into the sweat lodge.
�Cyclops, Storm,� the old man greeted them, ignoring Noah completely. He
was tied up and lay on a mattress on the ground, but still managed to remain
dignified. �What is it you want from me?�
�Where�s Hank?� Scott asked. His voice was very low.
�I haven�t got the slightest idea, I�m afraid.�
Only a dance of the eyebrows showed the surprise at that answer. �The
surveillance cameras at the supermarket saw you with him. Logan scented him
in the woods. And you�re telling us you don�t have him?�
�Not anymore. He was taken from me by some normals.�
That did surprise them. Ororo actually laughed. �Do you really expect us to
believe that? The master of magnetism overpowered by some normals?�
The contempting tone in her voice troubled Noah, and Magneto saw it right
away, smirking a little, before returning his attention to her. �Why would
that surprise you? You are the ones using them for backup, aren�t you?
Trying to convince them that there�s no real difference, convince yourself,
perhaps, even. You�re a beautiful woman, Storm, I think you know that. But
when you look in the mirror, what do you *really* see? Is it that beauty? Or
is it what they make of you? You were never anything but a thing to any of
them. They may have worshipped your powers at times, but they never
worshipped *you*. They just took advantage of you, just like they took
advantage of your hands to pick pockets or you body for lust...�
Storm just looked at him as if he was reciting the phone book, and Scott
sighed impatiently. �This isn�t really going anywhere. All we want is Hank
back, then we can all go home. Including you.�
�Home to what?� Magneto asked mildly. �Dear Scott, don�t you realize that
once the persecution comes, you�ll be first in line to death row? Noboy ever
cared if you lived or died even before they found out you were a lethal
mutant without control. The Diamond needed you for crimes, but to the rest
of them you were just a duty. If it wasn�t for Charles you�d be locked in a
cellar someplace -- if you were lucky.�
�And if it wasn�t for Hank I�d still be blind,� Scott replied, keeping the
conversation at Magneto�s calm level. �That�s what this is about, Erik. Not
the normals and what they did or didn�t do to us. Hank. Where is he?�
�I told you, I don�t know.�
�And I told you, I don�t believe you.�
�Well, that�s unfortunate, because it is the truth. I brought Beast with me
because I needed his help, but he was taken away from me.�
�I guess we�re at an impasse, then.�
A simple shrug was the only reply.
Scott turned around and made a motion with his head towards Ororo. �Come
They left the sweat lodge, Noah following them without saying anything. He
wasn�t really expected too. And yet he had a feeling they had wanted him to
�He could be telling the truth,� Ororo said quietly. �He doesn�t usually
lie to us.�
�Can you picture Magneto being taken down by normals?�
�No. But I can picture Mystique being taken down by normals. He�s the
leader, Scott. If anything goes wrong, it�s his fault.�
A tiny smile. �You�re telling me.�
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