Title: X-Book 3: Within the Storm - Chapter Twenty-Two: Taste of Fire
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!
Nightcrawler reappeared a short distance in front of their small
group, listening and looking down the hall carefully. After he was
sure there was no one waiting in the shadows to attack them, he
turned around and nodded to the others, and then disappeared again.
A moment later, Gambit and Rebecca followed, with Toad and Pyro
behind them. In between, the two wasted mutants in white trudged
along obediently. Eddie, the shrieker gripped Paul, the pusher's
arm tightly, his eyes wide with fear. Paul glanced down at him
every now and then, and forced an encouraging smile on his face.
Eddie had always been the youngest, out of the six of them, and Paul
had always been the oldest, the one the others looked to for
guidance when their ever changing march of faceless commanders
Paul, for the most part, kept his eyes fixed on the young woman in
front of him. She only looked slightly like her mother, he decided,
though his only clear memories of Charlene McGee were warped by the
images of the flames around her as she destroyed a doomed small
town. But that was nearly a quarter century ago, and Paul's mind
was torn a little more each time he `pushed' someone.
Nightcrawler appeared again, and was about to give the signal to
continue, when the sounds of shouting rang up the corridor. He
tilted his head and listened. Even though the words were muffled,
he could easily tell which direction they were echoing from.
"I think I hear someone!" he called back, and waited for the others
to run up beside him before continuing on.
"I heard it, too," Rebecca said with a relieved grin, that fell from
her face immediately. The shouting had faded, but a sense stronger
than her ears told her something was wrong.
Eddie felt it, too, and gripped Paul's arm in terror.
" he said, as low as he could with his powerful voice.
"Sid," Rebecca said aloud, with more urgency, and began to sprint
down the hall.
"Hey!" Toad shouted and chased after her quickly. Pyro followed,
along with the two X-Men. The two wasted mutants stood still and
watched them disappear down the hall.
Paul looked down at Eddie, his face grave but resolute.
"We have to follow them," he said, and the smaller mutant began to
" Eddie said, swallowing a sob, "We always do
Rebecca lost all feeling except for the need to get to her brother.
The floor beneath her bare feet was getting colder, as was the air
around her, but she only felt Sid's pain. When she reached the end
of the hall, she slid to stop, and stared out over the hanger with
confusion. Toad ran up to her with fury and gripped her upper arms.
"I told you to bloody st
" he began and then fell silent at the
scene before them.
The circle of soldiers had widened, and a solitary mutant dressed in
white stood with his hands outstretched toward the X-Men and
Brotherhood. Magneto was the only one still on his feet, though his
power was wavering.
Pyro and Gambit stood behind them with uncertainty, but Nightcrawler
quickly locked his gaze on William Stryker. He inhaled sharply, and
walked up to the others.
"Mein Gott," he breathed, "It is Stryker
Rebecca tried to take a step forward, but Toad held her in place.
"What's happening to them?" she shouted, and Toad felt the heat
through his gloved hands.
"He's draining them," Paul's voice said from behind them, in an
unemotional, matter-of-fact tone, "He's stealing their powers
will eventually kill them
"What do you mean kill them?" Rebecca screamed back at him.
Paul looked at her bitterly, "What the hell do you think I mean?"
Toad spun around, grabbed the `pusher' by the throat the slammed him
into wall. Gambit had to take a quick side step to avoid being hit
by the mutant, who did not struggle as Toad shook him viciously.
Eddie cried out, and then spotted Max and Jack and ran to them,
instead of risking being attacked by the green mutant himself.
"Fuckin' bastard," Toad shouted at the dying mutant. Paul began to
laugh until Toad tightened the hand around his neck.
Nightcrawler was looking quickly between the `pusher,' the pale
mutant and Stryker beyond, and finally on Xavier's slumped form in
"How do we stop him?" he asked, and laughter bubbled from Paul's
" he struggle to speak through Toad's grasp, "He
Rebecca's face darkened, and her fists clenched at her sides. She
could see Sid kneeling on the floor, his hands gripping his head in
pain, and anger flared inside of her. From across the hanger, she
could see the uniformed man standing apart from the soldiers,
grinning manically as the pale mutant drained the life from her
killed her brother
"He wants power
" she said, her voice almost a growl, "I'll give him
Pyro felt the fire first, his eyes locking on Rebecca as the orange
glow began to surround her. Her wide blue eyes stared to glow with
the same light, the hottest part of the flame.
Rebecca took a few steps forward, focusing entirely on the pale
mutant. She raised one hand, letting the fire gather there. The
red and orange flames wrapped around her hand in a delicate dance,
and then suddenly burst out in a directly line toward the pale
Cody was lost
the powers being drawn into him were such a rich mix
of pleasures. His half-aware mind filled with life, and a dreamy
sigh escaped his lips. So much power, so much he could barely tell
the difference between them as they entwined and were drawn into him.
Suddenly, he stumbled backward as Rebecca's flames struck him in the
chest. He did not fall, as the fire absorbed into his skin, but his
eye widened with wonder, with overwhelming sensory overload
mostly, with recognition.
His pull on the other mutants faltered, as the new power filled his
mind, more pure energy from one than from all the others.
Magneto jerked forward, and gasped with relief as he felt his power
returning. The numbness in his limbs burned as blood rushed back
into his hands. His face, which had been becoming nearly as pale as
Cody's, began to gain color again. He stood up slowly,
straightening his uniform almost unconsciously, and saw the line of
fire cutting in between himself and Xavier. He turned, and slowly
smiled as he saw the source of the flames.
Xavier sat up, inhaling deeply, and looking around at the X-Men.
"Scott," he said, and Cyclops was getting to his feet.
what happened?" he asked and took a protective stance
between Xavier and the roaring fire.
Xavier could not immediately reply, and heard another voice speak
softly at his side.
" Sid said as he got to his feet, and then began to
shout, "Becca! Stop!"
He tried to run toward her, but Wolverine grabbed his arm and
hang on, kid
" he said but Sid tore free of his grip.
"You don't understand!" Sid replied, "She might not be able to stop!"
Stryker roared in fury as he felt the heat of the fire.
This new power was distracting Weinberg from his mission. The other
mutants were getting to their feet. The loose circle of soldiers
was breaking up, as some men fled in terror.
His plan was falling apart
" he growled, and then his voice rattled the room, "NO!"
Rebecca took deep controlled breaths as the fire flowed out of her
hand. In her moment of anger, she did not consider the consequences
of releasing so much of the fire, but the power was being absorbed
as soon as it hit the pale mutant. She felt a measure of control
through the exchange of power. She generated the fire, so she felt
no pull as the others had, no pain. Rebecca Malloy felt a pure rush
of exhilaration, as her power, so often held back and chained, began
to grow in her mind.
The pale mutant, now reaching out toward her, suddenly grinned. The
expression was much like that of Stryker
His grin startled her, staring into his eager eyes, and she suddenly
pulled her power back, and lowered her hand. The flow of fire
dissipated into the air, and a hush fell over the room.
The silence was broken, as Cody Weinberg's voice, unused for over
two decades, cracked in his throat.
" was all he said, and began to take slow, methodical
steps toward her.
Sid was faster, however, as he tried to race to his sister's side.
Cody, now very much aware of all things around him, reached his hand
out toward Sid, and the young man stumbled.
" Cody said, repeating the General's words, but the tone was
As the pale mutant approached Xavier, Cyclops stepped forward
defensively. Cody shifted his hand toward him, never taking his
eyes off Rebecca.
" he repeated, and Cyclops grasped onto the Professor's chair
As he closed in, Gambit and the others began to feel him drawing
their powers, just enough to keep them from reaching him.
" Cody said over and over, and anyone who tried to
approach him felt their powers draining after only a few steps.
Rebecca stood her ground, glaring at the mutant, and raising her
Cody's grinned widened, exposing many more teeth than usual.
" he hissed as he stopped within ten feet of her and closed his
Rebecca screamed as the fire was torn from her. Waves of flame
began to explode from her body, all immediately flowing toward
Cody. This was not like before, when she was sending the power out,
when she had control. This was an attack, the power he was taking
was no longer the fire she created, it was all the life within.
"Let me go!," she screamed above the crackle of the flame, but the
mutant could no longer hear.
Rogue gasped in surprise as an odd sensation ran along her skin.
She held her gloved hands up and stared at them. For a moment, she
felt as though she was touching someone, absorbing power
But there was no one near her. What the hell was going on?
Mary walked up beside her and frowned.
"What it is?" she asked, and Rogue dropped her hands.
Her dark eyes glistened in the cold air, and she began to run toward
the compound. There was power building within, she could feel it
she could feel power being taken
Something instinctively drove her onward, the sense of power being
stolen, and a life being taken
something she had to stop.
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