SHADOW MAN---CH:14 A QUESTION OF LOYALTY 14/15
- Chapter 14-A Question of Loyalty
"Wolverine is right, Miss Grey," said Magneto seriously. "Throughout
time mankind has abused and slaughtered those who differ from the
norm. Today people fear mutants like you and me because we have
abilities they do not. And fear rapidly becomes hatred. Why should we
allow ourselves to be persecuted? All we ask is the freedom to live
our lives, but to do that we must combat this hatred or die. The
Holocaust has shown us the truth of that."
He took her hand in his. "Join us. Help us in the coming battle. Give
your future children a world where they will be honored for their
mutant gifts rather than martyred for them."
"I . . . " She slowly withdrew her hand, again ran it over and over
the other as if soothing a hurt. "I can't believe that fighting those
who fear us will make them fear us less. There must be another way
for people to accept us as their equals. Education. Sharing our
talents . . . "
Magneto's smile was twisted and bitter. "I hear Charles talking.
Noble sentiments such as those lead only to the grave. Our grave.
Don't you understand, Miss Grey? We can never be their equals. We are
already superior. And the common run of humanity cannot, will not,
accept their inferiority. No, it's people like you and Charles that
make our survival all the more precarious. We are so few in number we
must unite if we are to live freely. We must join forces, strike the
enemy first, hard and fastor else spend the rest of our miserable
existence in fear and hiding."
The woman looked at each in turnMystique, Toad, Magneto, Wolverine.
Her gaze lingered longest on him, questioning. Logan scowled. She
turned back to Magneto. "I understand your sentiments, but I don't
agree with your solution. Once people are convinced we are no threat"
Magneto interrupted her with a humorless laugh. "I most certainly
intend to be a threat, Miss Grey! However, since it is clear that our
cause is not yours, shall we return to our original discussion? You
were about to tell me of Charles's plans and of others who know that
I am here."
"I can't tell you that."
"Cannot? Or will not?"
She gazed at her hands, one still stroking the other, gave a slight
Magneto spun on his heel to face Wolverine. "You were successful
before, my boy. Persuade her to cooperate."
Logan felt sweat pop out on his forehead. A few minutes ago the
locking device had jerked in his gripJean was trying to open the
door! He'd confronted her then, not knowing whether to reveal her to
Magneto or keep silent, but when she said the team had come for him
Logan turned the wheel, withdrawing the bolts a little more, hiding
that action with his body. He could do it faster than Jean, who was
pinned under Magneto's eye, but he hadn't yet completed the task. He
needed more time.
"She doesn't know anything. Even if I slice an answer out of her
sliver by sliver it'd probably be lies. She's stalling, hoping that
old One Eye will come to her rescue. There are more entrances to the
lab than this one. He'll find a way in eventually. I say we leave her
behind and beat it out of here."
Magneto's frown of consternation slowly became one of
suspicion. "You're suddenly very vocal, my boy. What are you doing
over there by the door?"
"We'll just make certain of that!" Magneto spread his hand, snaring
Logan in an invisible net. Twitching his finger he lifted his prey
and in that way the prisoner, still gripping the wheel, managed a
last pull as he rose.
Logan heard a soft shunk as the bolts returned home. The door was
unlocked. Would Magneto notice? To prevent that he must draw
attention to himself.
"Just leave her and let's go!" Logan said as Magneto reeled him
in. "If the X-Men have found us others can too."
Magneto studied his hovering victim with narrowed eyes. "Possibly,
you are right, but . . . possibly Miss Grey's presence is testing
your loyalty to me, to the Brotherhood."
Logan forced a laugh. "Testing my loyalty? She's a broad and broads
are only good for screwing. I'm plenty loyal to that! Bring her
along, then, if you want, and we'll have some fun. But let's get out
of here now!"
"You will follow my orders without hesitation."
"Let us see the proof of that." Magneto waved his hand and the power
trapping Logan neatly set him down and winked off. "Miss Grey still
refuses to answer my questions. You, my boy, will make certain that
she does so. If not, you will cut off a finger. From the left hand, I
think. We'll leave the doctor her right hand for the time being."
Logan found himself looming over the woman, claws already flashing
from his fist without his remembering having shot them out.
"Tell him, dammit! Say something!" he snarled.
She looked up at him, eyes huge. Her lips quivered, firmed as she
pressed them together and shook her head.
Mystique grinned, her tongue flicking in and out. Toad smirked,
grabbed the woman's left hand to slap it flat on the table. Now all
looked expectantly at the executioner. He roared, slashed down with
all his strength. And the table split, one half crashing to the
floor, the other half still standing, steadied by her hand and five
Logan whirled, claws now jutting from his other fist as well, but
despite his painfully-acquired, enhanced speed he was too slow to
disable Magneto. As he knew he would be. Invisible chains immediately
seized him, hoisted him, wrenched him as though to rip him apart.
"Door . . . " he gasped, motioning with his eyes from it to Jean.
That was all he could get out before the ligaments in his shoulders
snapped, his arms popped free of their sockets, and he gave a harsh
cry as he fell down, down, down into a pit of black fire.
Consciousness was slow in coming, his strength had been sapped by too
much recent healing. Logan realized he was lying on the lab floor,
the tiles cold against his naked back, forgotten and freed of the
binding chains. He attempted to move an arm and at his persistence it
finally twitched. But that minor action ignited a flare of flame in
his shoulder. Sweat born of pain leaked into his eyes, and he
couldn't even lift a hand to mop it off. He blinked it away as best
he could, resigning himself to being a doorstop until he had
recovered sufficiently to be of greater use.
'May you live in interesting times.' Wasn't that supposed to be an
old Chinese curse? From his horizontal position he looked around the
lab and decided things were getting pretty damn interesting. Jean was
all but hidden by Magneto, Mystique and Toad. She was telling them
something. A line of bull, he figured, because she kept one eye on
the door at their backs. And the door itself had taken on a curious
life of its own, pushing into the room ever so slightly and sprouting
a glove on the side. But that the curse was in full fettle, Logan
knew from the rats.
They swarmed, slithered, skittered down the empty elevator shaft
which he could just make out through the entrance to the lab's animal
room. They flooded and flowed over the floor tiles like a tide of
gray mud. They swirled around himover him until he bared his teeth
all drawn to Magneto as if they were steel filings and the man was in
truth a magnet.
And there was even more, Logan saw, too dazed by the rats to object
to anything else bizarre. Woods-scented Fawn now entered from the
animal room followed by a couple of young wolves and a big lynx
kitten. Then a whiff of burnt sugar/chili pepper drifted out on her
heels and, sure enough, here came Rogue tagging along behind, busily
stripping off her gloves. Why was he not surprised?
Wincing at the acid-like burning in his shoulders, Logan pushed
himself over to the wall with his bare feet and, wriggling his spine
snake-wise, hitched himself up enough to sit. He settled back to
watch events unfold. He'd done his bit, he was ready to be