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"The Resurrection Gauntlet"

The Resurrection Gauntlet

The sequel to "Death of a Dream."

The Enemy of My Enemy...
From the Grave
Into the Fire
Shifting the Ashes
Ghosts of Past and Present
Of Regret and Remembrance
Deeper into Darkness
Old Habits
Trial by Fire
The Downard Spiral
Life Incarnate

This story is in progress.

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 the words.

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 realized it.

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 bad.

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 on.

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 home".

"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?"

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 call?"

"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 trust her.

Barely managing to keep the bitterness from her voice, she pressed another button on the commlink and replied "Ah'll transfer you."

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, terribly wrong.

"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 further."

"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 monster.

No, Sinister needed to be removed from the picture once and for all.

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 10


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