The Resurrection Gauntlet
Chapter 6: GHOSTS OF PAST AND PRESENT
Bobby almost thought he was imagining things when twenty
minutes after he and Gambit returned to searching, he heard
a soft moan from beneath a pile of rubble nearby. The night
had been so long and disparaging that he had nearly given
up hope completely. Standing perfectly still in the darkness,
he listened apprehensively, not expecting the sound to be
repeated, expecting it to be a simple, hopeful figment of
his own imagination. A full minute passed, and with a heavy
heart, he stepped one foot forward, about to move on, when
the sound came again.
"Gambit!" he called out excitedly. "Hurry,
we got a live one over here!"
Magnus sighed and set his jaw angrily. "I will ask you
one more time, Arclight," he said quietly, biting off
each word. "Who sent you to do this, and why?"
The hulking woman laughed mockingly from within her bonds
of steel, though it was a far cry compared to her normal,
almost baritone voice. Pale from lack of blood and exhausted
from her ordeal, she seemed a shadow of her usual intimidating
presence. Magnus had to give her credit though; she had regained
consciousness quickly and had managed not to slip into shock
despite the sudden loss of her arm. Her stamina did her credit,
to be sure, but he was running short on patience after the
events that had transpired tonight.
"And I'll tell you one more time: forget about it, Magneto.
I'm not telling you and your precious pansies anything. You'll
find out soon enough what's going on ... that is, if you don't
get your tickets punched, first."
With but a thought, he tightened the metal bands around her
body, causing her to wince and gasp for air. "You play
a dangerous game, Marauder. One you cannot hope to win. I
give you one more chance to answer my question, and then--"
"I tire of this routine, Magnus," Madelyne interrupted
loftily from her position in the corner of the room.
"Why not simply let me rip the secrets from her mind
and save yourself the stress? Can't be too careful of high-blood
pressure at your age, after all," she added with a smirk.
He cast her such a dark look that she was almost sure it
would turn her to dust, then nodded once, stiffly. "Do
With a cheshire cat grin, she reached out with a mental probe,
not bothering to enter the Marauders mind gently ... and was
nearly knocked to the floor with the backlash that struck
her like a physical blow as she encountered the woman's mental
Unable to supress a gasp, she recovered from her unsteady
footing, staring at the woman with shock.
Arclight merely laughed softly in return.
"How much longer?" Colossus asked impatiently from
the passenger seat in the cockpit of the Blackbird.
"Another hour or so and we should be there," Kitty
replied from the pilot seat, no less eager than her husband
to see his sister. "I'm already pushing the Blackbird
to her highest limits ... we can't go much faster without
risking complete engine failure."
They were lucky to still have the craft at all, considering
how badly everything had been destroyed during the war with
the Shadow King. With humanity scattered and on the run, no
new weapons, machines, transports, or anything were being
made. She supposed that in way, that was good, thought it
would be better if such things weren't necessary at all. Unfortunately,
the world could use more war-geared technology at this point.
It had taken all of her considerable mechanical/computer skill
to even get the jet running again, and still it was nowhere
near top performance level.
But it scarcely mattered. Illyana was alive, and there was
nothing in Heaven or Hell or even on this Earth that could
keep her from her best friend. She hardly even wondered at
how so much as she simply thanked God that it was so.
Lockheed cooed inquisitively from her shoulder, wrapping
his long, purple tail gently around her neck. Kitty smiled
and leaned against the little dragon lovingly, understanding
his sentiment if not his words. Lockheed nuzzled back affectionately,
tangling himself further into her hair. He could tell that
his mistress was extraordinarily happy, and he knew why. But
unlike his mistress, Lockheed was inherently suspicious of
Illyana's sudden return, as he was of everything that had
the potential to hurt Kitty..or even Colossus, these days.
He suspected something much more sinister was at work here,
and he meant to find out exactly what.
Bobby, Gambit and the sole survivor they had found teleported
into the med-lab in a brilliant flash of light, courtesy of
Illyana. Judging from the frowning looks they received, Bobby
guessed they had just interrupted something rather important.
Not that it mattered, really. Nothing was more important than
saving the life of the man they had found.
Magnus frowned at them a moment longer, then, in a rare event,
actually smiled. "Eugene!," he exclaimed with real
pleasure. "How wonderful to see you have survived."
"Been around too long to (cough) let a couple of bullets
take me out now," the short, stocky man returned, his
bitter humor causing the entire room to smile slightly. The
lightened mood quickly dulled, however, as Arclight glowered
at him murderously, reminding everyone of severity of the
"Well, don't stand there gawking," Magnus snapped,
his momentary happiness disappearing. "Get the man to
the med-slab, now."
Polaris jumped to attention at once, taking over the situation
as she used her magnetic power to gently transport the man
into the next room where he could heal properly. A moment
later she disappeared behind him, leaving behind the tense
situation in the main med-lab.
Arclight didn't even wait for the door to slide completely
shut before she started her tirade again. "You may as
well kill me now, Magnus," the Marauder taunted from
her helpless position in the air, metal bonds digging deep
into her skin. "You're not going to get anything useful
from me. I don't even know why Ice-boy there didn't finish
me when he had the chance. Destroying my arm was so much more
merciful," she added caustically.
Bobby stared at her impassively, obviously unimpressed. "Much
less than what you would have done to me."
Magnus didn't even look at her, seeming to consider, then
finally nodded. "You are right," he agreed almost
amiably, then closed his fist tight.
Arclight could feel her blood moving unnaturally through
her veins, barely having time to realize what he meant to
do before her heart shut down completely, the iron in her
blood clogging each of her main arteries. Her head sagged
to her breast, and finally the sharp-tongued, belligerent
Marauder lay eternally silent.
"Was that really necessary?" Bobby felt the need
to ask, after a few seconds of suprised silence had passed.
Magnus looked at him curiously, seeming surprised that he
was being questioned at all. "Of course it was, Robert.
Unless you meant for us to keep her here forever as a prisoner,
for we certainly could not set her free to kill more innocents.
She was naught but a killing machine, a vicious murderer who
would have ended your life as soon as looked at you ... and
yet, you still feel the need to ask such a question?"
Bobby lips thinned into a hard line and he said nothing more,
though his thoughts echoed much of what Magnus had just said.
It was almost ironic that he should say such a thing, considering
the man had been a terrorist for most of his early career
as a villain. In fact, he wasn't much better now, save for
the fact that now he only killed those who stood in the way
of returning the world to order, Bobby thought.
Without another word, Magnus spun imperiously on his heel
and exited the room, Madelyne sauntering close behind him,
leaving Bobby and Gambit to stare at Arclights body.
"Lorna? You busy?" Bobby asked, poking his head
through the doorway to the healing room.
"No, Bobby, just watching over them right now,"
she answered quietly, motioning for him to enter.
He stepped inside, the door sliding shut automatically behind
him. The room was dimly lit to allow the patients better rest.
Called the "healing room" for its recuperative pods,
it contained three of the Shi'ar made, transparent cocoons.
Siryn lay off to the far side of the room, looking as if she
were resting peacefully within her healing pod, while Puck
lay in the pod closest to the entrance, Lorna standing watch
"How's he doing?" he asked, coming up beside her.
"Pretty well, suprisingly. The man has a hearty constitution,
I'll give him that," Lorna said with an admiring smile.
"He's not out of the woods yet, but it looks like he'll
They stood for a while in silence, they way old friends do
sometimes, feeling no need to fill the space with words.
"Arclight's dead," he spoke up after a time, and
Lorna merely nodded in response, having expected it. "When
did it get so easy?" he wondered aloud. "All the
killing, the complete disregard for life ... whatever happened
to the good old days when we fought guys like Unus the Untouchable,
or the Vanisher?"
"Gone, like our youth," Lorna returned, no less
wistfully. "I miss those days, too Bobby, even though
I never really wanted to be a super-hero. It was so much easier
back then ... I could walk away from it, try to live a normal
life and feel that the world was still taken care of, that
it didn't need me. But I guess no one can escape their fate."
She sighed. "Sometimes I regret the day I ever heard
the word mutant."
"I know, Lorna," he said, placing a comforting
hand on her shoulder. And he did know. Too well, in fact.
He himself had always wanted to be a super-hero. It had always
seemed so exciting, so adventurous, almost glorified. When
he had started out, he had truly thought they could change
the world. Lorna had never wanted any of those things, though.
Born with the green hair that marked her as a mutant, she
spent much of her life in denial of her powers, until Mesmero
had come along and hypnotized her, using her for her abilities
and pitting her against the X-Men.
He still remembered the first time he had ever seen her,
surrounded by a glowing, crackling nimbus of magnetic energy,
clothed in a shade of green that perfectly matched her hair,
looking more like a goddess than a simple mutant. He still
thought today that it had been in that moment that he had
fallen for her.
But that had been years ago, when they were mere teenagers
playing at love. She had joined the X-Men for a time, and
she and Bobby had shared a brief relationship before she had
moved on. Time eventually linked her with Cyclops' brother,
Havok, and they had seemed destined to be together despite
the many tragedies that plagued them throughout the years.
The only time Bobby ever felt even a twinge of guilt for his
actions with Havok was when he looked at Lorna, knowing that
she had loved the man once upon a time.
"Do ... do you ever hate me for what I did to him?"
Bobby asked hesitantly, not wanting to know, but somehow needing
to hear her answer.
Her eyes snapped up to meet his, not fully registering the
odd question in her drifting mind at first. Then she saw the
regret in his soft, brown eyes, and she understood. "No,
Bobby," she said softly, magnanimously. "I would
have done it myself after some of the things he did, especially
after what he did to you," she went on, carefully avoiding
mentioning Angelica's name. Still, she saw the sadness in
his eyes at her reference, and she inwardly wept for his pain,
knowing exactly how he felt. The only difference for her was
that when she had still loved Alex Summers, and thought him
dead, he had always managed to return somehow. "Everything
I felt for him was dead before the Shadow King ever claimed
him. After what he did to me while he pretended to be with
the Brotherhood the first time ... I simply couldn't forgive
Bobby nodded, unable to disagree. "I always thought
you deserved better, anyway, Lorna."
She smiled sadly, reaching up to touch his cheek. "I
knew it then, but I didn't want to realize it. Eventually,
I had no choice. He was even more married to his job as a
super-hero than Scott was. I seem to have a penchant for falling
for guys too devoted to their work to have time for me. My
time with Steve- Captain America taught me that. He was as
bad as Alex, in his own way." She drew back her hand
and smiled with irony. "It's funny ... but sometimes
I find myself wondering how different things would have been
if I had just stayed with you."
"Oh, come on, Lorna," he chuckled, trying to play
off her statement. "We both know I would have driven
you crazy, immature as I was back then."
"Maybe," she chuckled in return, seeming to consider.
Then her face went completely still as her eyes locked on
his, her voice growing even softer. "But you're a grown
Something changed in that instant between them, Bobby felt
it as surely as if lightning had just struck and left an electrical
charge in the small space that separated them. "Lorna..,"
he began uncertainly, having no idea what to say. And then
he couldn't speak at all as her lips drew closer to his, lost
in the moment, lost in the deep emerald pools of her eyes.
He stared into their shining depths an instant longer before
closing his own eyes, unable to do anything but relent to
And then the door to the healing room hissed open.
Lorna drew back suddenly, as if slapped, and Bobby started
guiltily, like a child caught doing something he shouldn't
"Uhh ... maybe I just come back later," Gambit
said with forced lightness as he ducked back out the door.
His words jolted Lorna from her frozen position, and she
made for the door hastily, stepping out of it before it had
even fully closed behind Gambit.
Bobby heaved a long, weary sigh and let his head fall against
the metal wall of the healing room with a dull thud.
The scientist sat perched over his latest and greatest experiment,
looking down at the lovely face of his subject with something
"Soon, my dear," he whispered almost reverently
as he stroked her cheek. "Very soon."
Continued in Chapter
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