The Resurrection Gauntlet
Chapter 9: HAUNTED
"Rinny?" Jean-Luc called out quietly in the darkness.
A moment later the rustling sound of his sisters blankets
came from the bunk beneath him. Leaning to the side, he hung
his head over the edge of the bunk, peering down at her curiously.
"What?" she asked sleepily, sounding irritated
at his interruption.
"Did you...," he hesitated, searching the limited
words of his six-year old vocabulary for the right ones. "Did
you hear mommy and daddy talking earlier?"
And now she hesitated, too, too pale in the darkness, green
eyes too wide for such a small face. "Yeah," she
nodded slowly, sounding as afraid as he felt.
"They think somethin's wrong with us," he said
in agreement. "Somethin' 'bout our..." he lowered
his voice to a whisper, knowing his mommy would be very angry
if she heard him use the word, "powers."
Irinee's eyes grew even wider, though he wouldn't have thought
it possible. "Our powers?" she asked, barely whispering
He nodded again, troubled.
"It sounded scary," Irinee' added, snuggling deep
down into her covers as if for protection.
Dimly, Jean-Luc could feel his sisters fear echoing his own,
a sort of tingle in his mind. He could always feel her, just
a tiny bit, with some small part of his mind; a tiny awareness
that never left him quite alone. He remembered he had wandered
off once when he was younger, exploring the base and playing
on the stair railing when he had fallen and broken his arm.
He at least understood that his sister knowing about it had
saved him from a whole lot more pain, when his parents had
come running frantically to find him. She had told them what
had happened without actually being there, though they never
It seemed like a good power, but powers were bad. He knew
it from the looks on mommy and daddy's face whenever they
talked about it.
"We can't ever tell 'em our secret now," he said
gravely, and she nodded in agreement. "If they knew we
had powers already ... ," he trailed off, unsure how
to finish the sentence, not able to think of anything that
Irinee' couldn't imagine anything that bad either, so she
did the only thing she could to make everything better. Crawling
from her bed, she climbed up the ladder and snuggled in next
to her brother.
Grateful for her comfort, Jean-Luc snuggled up close against
her and drifted into a troubled sleep.
Remy found himself smiling again as he opened the door to
his children's room, seeing them side by side, fast asleep,
safe and snug. He hadn't even realized how worried for them
he'd been until he had seen them there, and now, his heart
pounding with relief, he knew he had to do something to help
him keep this peace of mind.
He closed the door slowly, then leaned against the doorframe,
resting his forehead on the cool wood as his thoughts churned
Theresa Rourke Cassidy sat up with a sudden, involuntary
cry, banging her head against the top of her healing pod with
enough force to make the room spin sickeningly. Panic setting
in, she clawed blindly at the confines of her pod, her final
memories of the battle with the Marauders fueling her desperation,
every fiber of her being crying out for escape.
And then suddenly, with a great hissing of air, she was free,
a voice speaking quietly and soothingly into her ear. With
a low moan, she clutched her belly and turned on her side,
letting her vision clear as she tried to get a better look
at her surroundings and her rescuer.
The soft green blur before her slowly coalesced into sharply
focused strands of green hair, framing a pale, worried face
with eyes an even deeper green than her tresses. "Polaris,"
Theresa whispered, a ghost of a smile touching her lips. "I'm
"Yes," Lorna replied, smiling back, hoping to provide
some comfort. Then, her hand drifted back down to the settings
on the pod, wanting to avoid the questions she knew would
come shortly. "Rest now. You're almost well."
Another hiss of air and the pod closed, sending Theresa back
into a deep sleep, a sleep far beyond dreams where the Marauders
could no longer haunt her. When she woke next, Magnus was
there to greet her with waiting arms.
Rogue heaved an annoyed sigh and punched the "accept"
key on the commlink. "It's always somethin' round this
place," she muttered irritably under breath, just before
her caller materialized on the screen.
Storm arched her head to one side curiously, her voice cool
as it filtered through the speaker. "You said something,
Rogue shifted uncomfortably in her seat, feeling suddenly
very awkward in her former teammates presence. She and Storm
had never truly reconciled after what had happened with Cyclops,
and the strain between them had remained an almost palpable
thing, even after all these years.
"Nothin' important," she replied, bringing her
voice up to a more polite tone, then getting down to business.
"Ah suppose it's too much to hope that this is a social
"Indeed." Storm nodded, seeming to consider for
a moment, then continued. "Is Magnus there?"
The sentence hit Rogue with the sting of a slap, and she
felt herself bristling with sudden anger at the obvious slight.
Storm could easily relay the message to Rogue to be passed
on, after all, that was normal protocol, and yet she felt
the need to go over Rogue's head and speak directly with Magnus,
as if she were some sort of subordinate. Or as if she didn't
Barely managing to keep the bitterness from her voice, she
pressed another button on the commlink and replied "Ah'll
She sat staring at the blank, gray screen for a long time
after Storm's image faded, anger and sadness warring for the
higher place in her mind.
Illyana stood before the window of her room, admiring the
realism of the hologram that seemed to let the sun inside.
She hadn't even realized that the window was a fake, at first,
until Kitty had explained that the complex was buried in a
cliff face in the Arizona desert. Then she had noticed that
although the sun seemed to brighten the room every morning,
it never grew any warmer. That was perhaps the only flaw to
this farce, that it appeared so warm and inviting, so real,
and yet in truth it was an empty illusion, providing none
of the things it seemed to promise ... .so like Illyana herself.
A wry smile touched her lips as she drew the parallels between
this manufactured technology and her own life.
Still standing in the simulated light, she flipped open the
amulet in her hands and stared down at it, almost as fascinated
as she had been with the sun a moment ago. Three red stones
burned like live coals at three points of the pentagram engraved
within, so small as to almost be insignificant ... and yet
they had been the cause of all the misery in her life. These
stones and she were bound together for all time in a constant
battle between darkness and light, neither one ever winning
out over the other. To think that a soul could be measured
by three stones ... it seemed almost insane, when she thought
about it, but there it was. Five points, three of them filled
with evil, more than half of her soul already claimed. She
sighed and snapped the amulet closed, tossing it away from
her and onto the bed.
Would that she could be rid of it so easily, she thought,
turning back toward the window. But there seemed to be no
escape from her destiny. After all, the amulet had suddenly
appeared only yesterday.
Magnus was pacing like a caged animal when Remy entered the
meeting room, and if that wasn't bad enough, he could tell
by the look on everyone's face that something was terribly,
"What'd I miss?" he asked as he strolled leisurely
to his seat, determined not to let the mood get to him.
"You, are late," Magnus snapped as Remy took his
chair next to Rogue.
Remy spread his hands wide, one corner of his mouth turning
up in a grin. "I know ... . but kids, dey wait for no
one when dey hungry, neh?"
"Well then, let us hope that when the time comes next
to save the world, that the threat has the decency to wait
until after lunch," Magnus snorted.
Remy continued to smile, simply shrugging, not missing the
fact that the older man had responded with just a touch of
cynical humor rather than outright anger.
"Now," Magnus went on, "if we could get down
to business once again." He cleared his throat and regarded
Remy with a more professional manner. "What you missed,
Gambit, was the announcement of the possible return of what
might have been the X-Men's greatest foe."
"Tell me dey didn't let Paste-Pot Pete outta prison?!"
he asked, feigning shock and horror.
Magnus slammed his fist down suddenly on the conference table,
causing everyone except Remy to jump slightly in their seats.
"This. is. not. a. joke." His grey-blue eyes flashed
with inner fire as he bit off every word, and Rogue reached
over, laying a staying hand on Remy's arm, silently bidding
him to be quiet.
"What is it, den?" Remy asked in a much more calm
tone, taking Rogues unspoken advice and curious despite himself.
"It would seem that someone has come up with a way to
resurrect a cosmic entity."
He bit back his next sarcastic comment, opting instead to
ask the obvious question. "What?"
"You are familiar with the Phoenix?"
Remy frowned, not understanding. "I'm familiar wit'
Jean Grey. Or was ... ," he amended.
"A cosmic entity called the Phoenix took Jean Grey's
form many years ago, fashioning itself after her to such a
degree, that it honestly believed it was Jean Grey. Unfortunately,
the creature was of such power that could not withstand its
mortal vessel. Picture a God contained within a mere human
mind. The power was too great, and it drove itself insane,
literally, by trying to contain its energy in a human body
and mind. This creature destroyed a sun, and thereby all the
planets within its system, one of them inhabited. In the end,
it gained control of its sanity long enough to destroy its
mortal vessel rather than continue the death and destruction
it had caused. It was never truly Jean Grey, but it was her,
in a sense, because it took all of her thoughts, beliefs,
emotions and personality into itself."
"Does no one ever tire of copying that woman?"
Madelyne broke in with a sigh of disgust. "Just what
the hell was so great about her anyway?"
Bobby fixed her with a stony look, leaning forward in his
seat. "When you figure that out, Madelyne, you just might
become a worthwhile person."
Magnus held up his hand, calling for silence and leaving
Madelyne glowering angrily at Bobby. "The point here,
is that we may have a creature capable of destroying entire
galaxies on our hands."
"May?" Remy asked. "We not sure yet?"
"Storm received a call from a dubious source, but none
of us can figure out a reason for such a deception. Storm's
team of X-Men will be arriving here tomorrow, and then we
shall take off for Southern California to investigate this
"But what about our other mission?" Remy spoke
up again, keeping his expression carefully neutral.
"On hold, for now. Perhaps for good, depending on how
this turns out."
Completely baffled, Remy turned to glance at Rogue, wondering
what her thoughts on the matter might be, but she seemed to
have a burning question of her own.
"You said the call came from a dubious source ... who?"
Magnus hesitated, as if inwardly debating before finally
answering, "Sinister," and steeling himself for
the confusion and flurry of questions that would surely follow.
Heads turned back and forth to stare at each other in surprised
silence for a long moment, and Magnus almost dared hope that
they would simply be too surprised for words. Then the dam
burst open and voices erupted from all around the room at
once in a loud cacophony.
And sitting quietly in her seat, Lorna muttered to herself,
utterly unmindful of the Phoenix, Sinister, or the sudden
discord around her, only having one definite thought on the
matter. "Southern California?" she wrinkled her
nose in disgust. "What a cesspool. Who in their right
mind would set up shop there?"
"Dr. Henry McCoy, at your service, my dear," the
scientist proclaimed as he made a low, sweeping bow to his
newest creation. She made not a sound or gesture in return,
remaining in her comatose sleep, as ever, but it mattered
not to him; she would wake soon enough. Right now, her mere
existence was enough to make him want to clasp his hands together
and dance lightly on his toes around the room. And finding
that an appealing thought, he laced his fingers together and
proceeded to do just that.
Remy slipped out of the conference room amidst the ensuing
chaos, letting himself out through one of the emergency exits
to indulge in a little late afternoon sunshine and a cigarette.
Leaning back against the cliff wall, he lit the slightly crumpled
roll of tobacco and inhaled deeply, mulling over the events
of the meeting.
If what Magnus had said held true, they might never go after
Sinister, and he could not abide by that thought. He couldn't
go on living, each and every day, with the fear that Sinister
would come for his children. And come for them he would; they
stood to be even more powerful than any Summers offspring
so far. Remy had been blind, or stupid, not to realize it
years before. Even if the twisted geneticist could help them,
Remy had no right to consign them to a life indebted to a
No, Sinister needed to be removed from the picture once and
That thought echoed in his head as he tossed away the dying
ember of his cigarette, and long after the sun dipped below
the horizon, growing louder and more insistent while he stood
against the cliff wall, deep into the night.
Continued in Chapter
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