Death of a Dream
Chapter 6: Innocence Lost
"Sister, oh dear sister. Wake uuuuupppp..." the
sing-song voice intruded against her dreams.
Rogue blinked against the harsh light of the room as she
opened her eyes, pulling herself reluctantly from the deep
sleep she'd been enjoying. "What?" she asked, annoyed
as she shielded her eyes from the florescent lights her visitor
had apparently turned on.
"Now, is that any way to greet your favorite brother?"
came the voice from the shadows again.
She sighed, heaving herself up into a sitting position. "You're
mah only brother, sugah." Rubbing her eyes, she glanced
at the clock and resisted the urge to fall back onto the bed.
"You gonna hide in the shadows all day, or come out here
and tell me why you woke me up at the ungodly hour of 6am?"
Yellow eyes appeared in the darkness, blinking once as they
adjusted to the light. "Rough night, Rogue?" he
chuckled as he moved forward into her line of vision, revealing
his blue furred features, still pooled in shadow somehow,
though they were fully exposed to the light. He had grown
even darker since coming into the Shadow King's control, she
"I heard Gambit was here quite late," he went on,
his voice coy as he cut her a playful, sidelong look.
"An' so what if he was?" she countered, still grumpy
at being awakened so early.
He shrugged thinly. "All the better for us, I say. What's
good for you, is good for the Brotherhood."
Stretching, she yawned and rose from the bed, bending to
pick up the uniform she had so hastily discarded the night
before. A faint smile touched her lips as she remembered,
but she forced herself to concentrate on the matter at hand,
pausing before picking it up. "Should ah put on mah uniform,
or did you just come here to discuss mah love life?"
she asked with a small grin.
"Well, that was part of it, of course," he said,
chuckling again. "But ja, you'll need your uniform."
She nodded and began to slip into it, struggling with the
spandex material for a few moments before seeming satisfied.
Smoothing out the few remaining wrinkles, she stopped to regard
her reflection in the mirror. It had been years since she'd
worn this outfit, it dated back to her original days with
the Brotherhood. Never thought ah'd see the day ah'd don this
old green and white hooded thing again, she thought, giving
herself a final once over before turning back toward her brother.
"So what's come up? We under attack, or what?"
"Nothing so sinister, sister," he grinned, leaping
up onto her bed and crouching there. "In fact, it's a
rare bonus. We've captured another refugee. One whose power
would be very useful to you...," he trailed off suggestively.
She stood in silence for a long moment before replying, "Ah
"He awaits your presence even now," he continued,
his grin broadening to reveal his frighteningly sharp teeth.
"Well...let's get this over with, then, shall we?"
she asked, forcing her tone to be casual as she moved toward
"Ja, let's. I can hardly wait to hear him scream,"
he replied, hurrying out the door behind her.
"His name is 'Wildchild'," the Black Beast explained
in a conversational tone. "A mutant possessing some of
the same powers as Sabretooth and Wolverine. Sort of a watered
down version, though." He set his chart aside and moved
toward the shivering subject, stroking his chin and regarding
the mutant much as one would a bug under glass. "It's
the healing factor we find most intriguing. Weaker than Creed's
or Logan's on a cellular level, but still just as effective
in the long run." He turned and looked at Rogue intently.
"It could be very useful to you in the coming battles.
We thought you might want to add it to your...collection...before
adding him to Sinister's gene pool."
She swallowed hard and looked at the young boy bound in iron
manacles before her. She knew him, sort of. He'd been part
of X-Factor, once, before the Psi-War, a mutant who had fought
for the same beliefs she'd once followed. "He's to go
into the gene pool? The master doesn't want to subvert him?"
she asked, fighting against the conflicting emotions in her
"His mind is considered too savage by the master to
serve any kind of purpose. It would take more effort to bring
him under control than he would be worth to us," the
Beast replied, shrugging.
She nodded, forcing herself to take a step closer to the
subject. There was no hope for him, she knew, not now that
he'd been captured. The gene pool meant the same as death.
They were simply salvaging out the parts of him they could
before turning him into scrap material, much like an old machine
that had outlived its purpose. The lack of humanity made her
cringe to her soul...and yet, what choice did she have? If
Kyle, Wildchild, was scheduled to be terminated, then there
was nothing she could do to save him...and his healing factor
would help her a great deal. And if she refused, suspicion
would turn upon her. Pushing her doubts to the back of her
mind, she rationalized it as her only choice.
Steeling herself, she moved directly in front of the subject,
trying desperately not to see him as she pulled the gloves
from her hands. Closing her eyes so that she would not have
to see his expression, she touched her hands to his face,
and felt the trembling of his body. Forcing the sensation
from her mind, she reached out with her power as the master
had taught her, searching through the memories and synaptic
patterns for the one power she sought.
But she had not counted on the number of images and memories
that assailed her. His fear was a living thing within him,
he knew his fate, and yet he struggled, fighting against her
with everything he had. She was too untrained for this she
thought, sweat breaking out on her forehead as she struggled
to screen out the essence of this boy. Ah can't, she thought,
ah can't see him as human. Ah can't see him as anything but
a tool to be used, or ah'm lost.
With a terrible scream of anguish, his body sagged within
its bonds as she wrenched free the one piece of him that she
needed, holding him fast as she prolonged the contact, making
the transfer permanent. She felt something within her body
start to grow and change, even as her heart broke and some
small spark within it died out forever. And then, she was
lost in darkness.
"Well," the Black Beast said with an eerie smile.
"It seems our experiment was a success."
She awoke moments later, on the cold floor of the laboratory.
Eyes fluttering open, she wiped at the wetness on her face.
Expecting to find blood, she was only dimly surprised to discover
the salt of her own tears. Forcing herself to sit up, she
ran the sleeve of her uniform across her face and groggily
looked about the room.
"Wunderbar, Rogue," her brother laughed, applauding
Dragging herself weakly up from the floor, she nodded, eyes
moving to follow the Black Beast's movements as he flipped
switches like a madman, entering data into the computer with
a feverish speed. He paused for only a moment, turning to
give her a broad, fanged, smile. "Very good, Rogue. All
tests verify that his healing factor has been removed."
She nodded again, her mind too numb to focus on anything
except escape. "Ah'll be going then...ah'm...ah'm not
feeling so well."
The Beast nodded his approval before turning back to his
experiment. "Go on, then. I imagine the stress was tremendous
for you. I'm about to initiate the meltdown sequence now,
anyway. No need for you to see that...unless of course, you
want to?" he asked with a dark chuckle.
She shook her head and struggled her way to the door, leaning
against it for a moment to gather her strength. She gave them
one last nod in goodbye, trying to ignore the gleeful smile
on her brother's face.
Kyle's screams followed her all the way back to her room,
echoing in her head long after the door slid shut behind her.
Gambit gave a sigh of satisfaction as he sank down into the
hot tub, feeling his muscles begin to unwind with the extreme
heat. He leaned his head back against the edge, and let his
thoughts drift back to last night. Despite the situation,
he could not help but smile as he remembered her. It had been
far too long, he thought. She had fairly intoxicated him with
her mere presence.
"Ah, Rogue...what is about you, petite?" he wondered
aloud, sliding deeper into the tub.
He was playing it too close this time, he knew, walking a
dangerous line. He wondered why that should bother him now.
After all, he had spent most of his life on a tightrope, hadn't
he? And in the case of Rogue, rational thought had rarely,
if ever, had any bearing. The question was, what was he going
The voice startled him from his thoughts, and he sat suddenly
upright in the tub. He relaxed a moment later, recognizing
the owner of the voice.
"Stormy, you scared de hell out of me," he laughed,
sinking back down into the tub.
With cat-like grace, she moved to the edge of the ceramic
tile, sitting down and dipping her feet in the steaming water.
Smiling slightly, she looked at him, eyes seeming to form
"So, tell me, Remy...how goes our plans with the Brotherhood?"
Continued in Chapter
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