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SHADOW MAN--CH2: DEJA VU, 2/15

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  • mainsmel
    Chapter 2-Déjà Vu By the time Magneto floated up the empty elevator shaft at the end of the hall, cloaked in the stink of forged metal, Logan was in control
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4 10:47 PM
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      Chapter 2-Déjà Vu

      By the time Magneto floated up the empty elevator shaft at the end of
      the hall, cloaked in the stink of forged metal, Logan was in control
      of his emotions if not his body. Beneath his leather jacket a clammy
      sweat drenched the underarms of his flannel shirt but he schooled his
      features to impassivity. It was all he could do, his sole defense.

      "I see you got out." It sounded stupid and obvious even to his own
      ears, but he was determined to break the silence first, establish
      himself as a human being and not some Tin Man toy for the other's
      amusement.

      Magneto smiled and his thinning of lips did nothing to reassure Logan
      that their reunion would be amicable. "I thought I heard someone
      knock-knocking on my door. No one but you would announce himself in
      such a melodramatic way. The whole building shook."

      Logan said nothing, endured the other's scrutiny in silence.

      "Hmm." Magneto summed up his survey with that faintly scornful
      sound. "Charles told me of the risk you took for Rogue. I see you've
      recovered nicely. Having myself experienced to a far lesser extent
      the effect she has on one, I'm impressed. Yes, I believe you'll serve
      my purposes even better than what I had envisioned."

      Logan bared his teeth in a wolf's grin. "They'll be looking for you."

      Magneto's smile was genuine this time. He slowly shook his
      head. "Sorry to disappoint you, my boy, but the authorities believe
      that I have resigned myself to my little plastic prison. Why would
      they look for me? They can see the diabolical Magneto night and day
      right where they put him. Besides," he frowned, fixing Logan with his
      steely eyes, "no thanks to you, Mystique needs some recuperation
      time. Three meals a day, bed rest— And the food is quite tolerable, I
      might add."

      "The Professor—"

      "As gullible as the others," Magneto cut him off. "I have let it be
      known that I wish to contemplate my sins in solitude. So, no chess,
      no Charles. Mystique's deception will be safe as long as I have need
      of it."

      "Thought she was busy playing Kelly," Logan commented with forced
      casualness, hoping to hide his growing panic as he futilely tried to
      move an arm, a leg, a finger.

      Magneto chuckled. "My dear boy, you have been out of touch a while,
      haven't you? The Senator's private plane went down in the Caribbean
      when he set off for a well-deserved vacation. Unfortunately, the body
      will never be found."

      The man smiled with great good humor. "Chancy things, those light
      metal planes," he added offhand.

      If Logan could have shivered, he would have. He pressed his lips
      together. The pleasantries were over, they both knew it. Magneto
      flicked a finger, raising Logan a couple of inches off the floor,
      then turned and headed for the elevator shaft. Logan followed,
      floating like some kind of grotesque kite tethered to its owner by an
      invisible string.

      *******


      The stark reality of the laboratory was worse than the nightmares,
      terrifying as they were. Logan had always believed the dreams were
      distortions, exaggerations. In fact, he had taken solace in that
      belief, assuring himself that no one could be so sadistic and
      merciless to their victims as those shadowy figures his sleeping mind
      conjured. Now he knew the nightmares didn't convey half the horrors
      contained in this underground torture chamber. Sharp knives and
      scalpels, picks, hooks ready to slice and sever, pierce and probe,
      electric drills and acetylene torches ranging from large to small, a
      vast array of metal strips that broke the light into rainbow
      colors . . . Adamantium, he supposed.

      He closed his eyes against it all, turned his head until his cheek
      touched the cold, metal table and he was facing the icy, white tiles.
      As if shutting his eyes would make the wicked blades and the cruel
      fire and the evil bogeyman disappear the little voice chided.

      Magneto had taken him on a tour before having him stripped and
      fettered to the table, showing him the vat of water, the tools, the
      forge—

      "And the diagrams, my boy! Look at this ingenious multiple swivel
      hinge for joints. The wrist, the elbow, the hip—they thought of
      everything! You may be functional but you're not quite complete, you
      know. In your impetuous way you ran off before they could incorporate
      this list of refinements. We'll have to see if we can finish their
      work."

      When Magneto came to Alkali Lake two weeks prior to Logan's ill-timed
      arrival, he had found everything down here in place, as if the ghouls
      who buried themselves in this hell hole had emerged for coffee one
      day, discovered what the real world was like, and never came back. He
      had cleaned up the lab and set to work with his assistant, a
      vertically-challenged, creepy little guy with thick glasses, an
      unhealthy greenish pallor, and a scraggly mess of hair that looked
      like dried seaweed.

      The way Magneto told it, his escape from the plastic prison was
      childishly simple. Mystique had taken the form of the guard closest
      to Magneto's physical type and was bringing dinner into the cube just
      when the lights accidentally-on-purpose went off. They made the
      exchange in the dark and when the lights came up the sensors
      registered Magneto as remaining in the cell while the guard went his
      merry way.

      All that happened a few days after Logan left the school. Like the
      Professor, Magneto, too, had heard hints and rumors about the hush-
      hush installation at Alkali Lake, whispers of the creation of a
      superior fighting force of indomitable, indestructible warriors. And
      after his disastrous defeat at Liberty Island by the X Men in general
      and by one Wolverine in particular, Magneto decided to come up here
      as fast as possible with the intention of building himself an army.

      Logan, meanwhile . . . Well, Logan had sauntered along the way,
      enjoying the power of Cyclops's bike and the feel of the warm, spring
      air on his face after the harsh winter, a winter which was still in
      full force up north. He liked the isolation, too, and the freedom
      that came with it, if the truth be known. That surprised him when he
      realized it. Jeez, he'd only been at the school a week or so! But in
      that short time the Professor and the others had woven him into their
      lives, with all the commitments and obligations their acceptance
      required and— Yeah, in spite of his better judgment, they'd become a
      part of his life too. Temporarily, at least.

      So he rode along at his ease, his only schedule one of late nights
      and later mornings, spending a couple of days here, three or four
      there, wherever his fancy took him, in no great hurry, really, to
      reach his goal. Sure, the last of the winter up there was reason
      enough to take it slow and casual. Best to wait till it got warmer.
      He'd ridden motorcycles in snow and ice, even through a blizzard
      once, but it was a risky, stupid thing to do—and damned cold!—and if
      a guy had a choice . . .

      No matter all the excuses he threw out for taking his time on the
      road, he knew that the real reason he dawdled was because he was
      afraid. How many times before had he gone searching for his past only
      to come up with nothing? And that nothingness proved so devastating a
      blow that with each disappointment he vowed to never again go on
      another wild goose chase. He'd even keep that promise to himself—
      three, maybe four whole months—then once again he'd start asking
      people questions, sifting for information, looking for clues. Because
      a man with no past was like a man with no right arm. Logan could get
      by without it, learn to compensate for its loss. But it left him off-
      balance, crippled.

      Would Alkali Lake be another dead end? If so, let him put it off as
      long as possible. This way he could dream, at least, of what he might
      learn. Why, he might even have a family! A wife and kids.

      The wife a petite brunette with a sensuous body and fire in her eye—
      still waiting for him to come home with that carton of milk he went
      out to buy fifteen years ago. Yeah, right! And the kids? Not kids
      anymore. Teenagers. Logan didn't know if he could handle that.

      So maybe not a wife and kids. Maybe a brother or a sister, parents,
      somebody else like him. Oh, and they have claws, too? the little
      voice niggled.

      He gritted his teeth. If he pushed himself he should arrive at Alkali
      Lake by late afternoon. Just get it over and done with, he decided.
      Although, now he wasn't so sure he wanted to know his past. What if
      he found out he was a condemned murderer? A scumbag who volunteered
      himself as guinea pig in order to escape death. It was possible, even
      probable. He swallowed the sour taste in his mouth.

      After all, no one seemed to have missed him, searched for him. He
      hadn't seen his face tacked up on any post office walls. Plenty of
      pictures of kids there. Dogs. Cats. 'Lost: one wolverine. Dangerous
      if crossed. Surly at best. If found, please call . . .' But he hadn't
      been found. 'Cause nobody ever bothered to look.

      And so today, just before sunset, he finally arrived at the complex
      only to end up in one of his nightmares. Déjà vu all over again.
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