Death of a Dream
Chapter 3: Strange Bedfellows
If I could sweat in this form, I'd be a puddle by now,
thought Bobby Drake as he was suddenly encased by a boiling
"That new guy sure is cute," said Firestar, grinning
as she shot another microwave blast of heat at Iceman.
He parried with an iceblast, meeting her shot halfway, the
resulting steam masking his expression as he spoke. "Even
cuter than me, Angel?"
"Mmm...maybe," she replied, her grin broadening
as she took to the air to avoid his next volley of ice missiles.
He concentrated a freezing blast around her form, cooling
the microwave energy which held her form aloft but stopping
just short of freezing her in solid ice. His own grin appeared
as he moved forward to catch her rapidly falling form in his
arms. "Well, Angel, appearances can be deceiving, you
know? It's actions that count," he continued as she landed
perfectly in his outstretched embrace. Smiling, he leaned
his face closer to hers, lips barely an inch from her own.
With a light laugh she leaped from his arms, landing gracefully
on her feet. "Come on now, Bobby. You know fire and ice
"And you think fire and a snake in the grass do?"
he countered, folding his arms over his chest and regarding
She brushed a fiery strand of hair from her face, avoiding
his gaze as she dodged the question, asking casually, "What
exactly did this guy do to make you all hate him so much?"
"Why don't you ask me yourself, chere?" came the
smooth reply as the door to the Danger Room slid open to reveal
Gambit standing there.
"Remy." Iceman's greeting was completely flat as
he nodded once to the cajun.
"Bobby." Gambit's greeting was just as emotionless
as he stepped into the room. "So good to see you again.
An' keeping such lovely company," he added, leaning down
to take Firestar's hand and bring it to his lips gently. "I'm
afraid I haven't had de pleasure, chere. Remy LeBeau, pleased
to meet you."
Her face almost as red as her hair, she nodded once, stuttering
out a reply. "I'm Angelica Jones, also known as Firestar."
"And I'm the flamin' Queen o' England," came the
exasperated voice from the control booth of the Danger Room.
"Are you all gonna practice today, or stand around flappin'
"Sorry, Logan," muttered Firestar, trying to regain
her composure. "We've been waiting for Wanda and the
others to show up before really starting the program."
"I'm here," the Scarlet Witch called, hurrying
into the room. "The others are right behind me, too."
Logan nodded, watching as Shadowcat, Colossus, Dazzler and
the former Morlock called Lasher entered the room. Looking
at the motley crew below him, he heaved a sigh. He'd never
had much use for Cyclops back in the old days, but sometimes
he wished the old boy scout were still around. If anyone had
ever known how to forge a team, it had been Scott Summers.
This exercise was for all of them to hone their powers and
stay on their toes, but more so, it was for those newer X-Men
whose limitations were as yet unknown. Firestar was something
of a known quality to them, but Lasher was still learning
to control his telekinetic energy tendrils. Even so, it was
most important that they learn to function together as a team.
Dazzler, Iceman, Shadowcat and Colossus were all veterans,
but hindered by the fact that they had never before functioned
together as a team. The Scarlet Witch was used to being part
of team as well, and even Logan had to admit that he admired
her pluck. Still, she had never fought alongside any of these
people until the last year or so, and the same held mostly
true for Gambit also. Looking at Iceman's expression as Gambit
continued to sweet talk Firestar, he could only hope that
their exercises in the Danger Room would be enough to bring
them all together.
He clicked the intercom again. "Alright, you kids ready,
"Why don't you come down here and join us old man, and
we'll show you how ready we are," came the cajun's cocky
voice from below.
With a thin smile, Logan clicked the intercom again, replying,
"Don't tempt me, boy."
The door to the control room opened, and Storm stepped inside,
moving to take the seat next to Logan. "Are they ready?"
With another glance at the troubled expressions below him,
he shook his head and moved his hand to the start button.
"They'd better be," he answered gruffly, pushing
the button and engaging the sequence.
In the Reaver's old base in Australia, Rogue watched as the
workmen about her moved like busy bees. They had achieved
much in these few short weeks, building on to the original
base and restoring its original technology. Even now, she
sat in the central chamber, flipping through the files in
the database. Displayed on the screen before her were the
most comprehensive files on the X-Men she had ever seen, including
many of which she had never met. The files had been updated
recently, by Apocalypse, and she was amazed at the scope of
the villain's knowledge. Flipping through the images of her
former teammates, she felt a wistful tug upon her heart, remembering
the old days, the times they had shared. Storm, Colossus,
Gambit.... Quickly, she squashed the feeling, pushing it to
the back of her mind. It was too late for regrets now, she
thought. She'd already made her choice.
"Learning anything useful, Rogue?", came the cold
voice from behind her.
Spinning slowly around in her swivel chair, she turned to
face another of her former teammates, this time in the flesh.
"Betsy," she nodded to the woman, rising respectfully
to greet her superior.
"At ease, Rogue. This isn't the army." Psylocke
moved toward the console with liquid grace, her every move
that of a predator. Encased in a completely black bodysuit
except for her face, she resembled nothing so much as the
shadows she was part of. Tucking a lock of dark purple hair
behind one ear, she leaned down to have a look at the current
data. "Hmmm....Gambit. I recall you used to have quite
the soft spot for him," she added, turning her piercing,
purple-black eyes on Rogue.
"That was a long time ago," Rogue answered, her
"Yes," Psylocke replied, almost hissing the word.
"I suppose it was." The suspicion in her eyes did
not lessen, despite her words, as she kept her gaze upon the
younger woman. "Let me make this plain, Rogue."
She stepped away from the console and turned her back to the
woman, clasping her hands behind her. "I do not like
this convenient change of heart you've experienced. I find
it highly unlikely that you would turn against your former
teammates to such an extreme."
"Then you obviously don't know what ah did before ah--"
"Oh yes," Psylocke whirled, a cold smile twisting
her lovely, dark face. "I know all about that. In fact,
it's the only reason you've been admitted here. Our master
has decreed you the new leader of the Brotherhood, and so
it must be. But rest assured, Rogue, I'll be watching your
every move. Would that I could read your mind and we could
be done with this little charade, but the alien portion of
Carol Danver's psyche that you absorbed prevents my probes.
"What about your change of heart?" Rogue asked,
bringing her chin up in defiance of the woman's words.
"I've already proven myself, remember? The day I drove
my psychic knife through Warren's head and then snapped his
neck while he lay helpless." She grinned maliciously
as she relived the memory, and Rogue shook her head in wonder.
She actually had taken pleasure in it, Rogue realized with
something like horror.
"So would y'all have me kill Gambit to prove mah loyalty?"
she asked, her voice taking on a hard edge, forcing a bravado
that she did not feel.
Psylocke whirled away, laughing. "No, Rogue. Not Gambit,
he yet serves a purpose...just the rest of your former teammates.
Surely you realize that is part of the Brotherhood's main
"Ah know. Ah knew that before ah signed on. Question
mah motivation all you like, Psylocke, the results of mah
future efforts here should more than satisfy you."
"We shall see about that, Rogue. We shall just see."
Psylocke cut her one last, penetrating look before melting
into the shadows.
Rogue slumped back in her seat, eyes closing in a mixture
of relief and defeat. Great, just great, she thought. Not
more than a month into my new position, and already I got
the master's right hand breathing down my neck. Had she really
thought she'd found a new home? A place where she could be
safe and happy again? She gave a wry chuckle and willed back
the tears behind her eyes. No, she could never go home again.
And from the shadows nearby, came a wicked grin.
Continued in Chapter
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