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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 10: REUNION

Madelyne was in quite a rage when Remy made his way downstairs to the kitchen the next morning.

"Don't you see that this is a red herring? Sinister is trying to throw us off his trail with this madly concocted tale! We need to go after the man himself!"

Cringing slightly to avoid one of her expressively angry arm movements on his way to the fridge, he grabbed a carton of milk and quickly moved off to the cabinets on the far side of the room. Pouring himself a bowl of cereal and trying desperately to activate a latent mutant power of invisibility, he couldn't quite help but steal a look at Magnus' face, to see how he was taking the red-head's tirade.

"You forget yourself, Madelyne," Magnus began in quiet tones, which spoke volumes to Remy of just how truly angry he was. Magnus was one of those people who talked more and more quietly the angrier he got until you worked him into a fit of rage, at which point he lost all self control and began speaking in the type of voice that made you imagine God coming down out of the sky with all the thunder and lightning of the heavens backing him up.

"And you forget YOURself, old man!" Madelyne spat in return, her green eyes actually seeming to give off sparks. "The Magnus I remember wouldn't have dared hesitate to kill a potential adversary, and yet here you are, cowering in your precious little base, chasing after fairy tales spun by the very man who is your enemy!"

"How very fortunate for you, then, Madelyne, that I am no longer that man," Magnus returned evenly, although his expression clearly said that she sorely tempted him to return to such ways of dealing with people. "You surely would have been dead already, if it were so."

"Bah! You think you frighten me, old man?" She threw her arms in the air and laughed aloud. "I could flash-fry your synapses so fast you wouldn't even have time to smell the smoke, so don't threaten ME, Magnus."

Remy briefly entertained the idea of crawling into one of the nearby cabinets for cover, but then decided he'd rather risk it and see what Magnus did to her. Besides, the coroner might need someone to identify her body.

"Enough," Magnus said quietly, and with the smallest gesture of his hand called the magnetic elements of his birthright to his command, closing Madelyne's mouth and shoving her roughly into a chair. "Don't bother trying to retaliate, Madelyne; I am magnetically blocking your abilities out with the shield around my body. You have had your say, as uninvited and uninspired as it was, and now it is my turn."

Remy nearly choked on his cereal with silent laughter at the comical expression on Madelynes face.

"When Sinister and I last met, it was as allies against Sebastian Shaw and his thrice-damned Sentinels. We parted on good terms and I have had no trouble with the man, until now. And I wonder, Madelyne, I truly do, at how much that has to do with your presence here." His eyes hard as steel, Magnus looked her over with an expression of such cold contemplation that her natural ivory complexion turned white as snow. "If what he says is true, and I cannot discount out of hand that it is not, then he is not at fault for any of the trouble we have recently experienced. Until I am certain, one way or another, that Sinister is lying, this team will NOT attack him. And if you feel the need to set out after him on your own, then I wish you the best of luck, my dear, but you will have neither my help, nor the help of anyone else who bears the name X-Man. And, there will be no further discussion on the matter until I say so. Is that clear?" Magnus finished his speech with a slight squeeze of magnetic power before releasing Madelyne to answer.

Looking shaky, she nevertheless rose to her feet defiantly, thrusting her face directly into Magnus', no doubt about to say something that would cause him to disperse her into atoms, when Remy finally spoke up. "She has a point, Magnus."

His sudden agreement seemed to send Madelyne into a shocked silence, while Magnus sighed heavily and cast his eyes heavenward, as if asking for strength, help, or the will not to kill both of them where they stood. "Et tu, Remy?" he asked in a resigned tone.

"Look at it dis, way, Magnus. Even if Sinister is telling de truth, we leavin' de base here and in New York undefended while we go check out his story. If dere's one t'ing I know about de man, it's dat he don't do anything unless dere's somet'in in it for him."

"There is something in it for him," Magnus replied somewhat tiredly. "The fact that we will not hunt him down and kill him for what the Marauders did to Alpha Flight, if we discover that he is not responsible, as he claims."

"Non, dat's not enough." Remy shook his head vehemently. "Sinister has defeated us time an' time again over de years. He's not worried bout what we might do to him. More likely, dis gives him a golden opportunity to come in an' raid de house while we gone."

A faint smile touched Magnus' lips as he tried to imagine it. "And what could he possibly take that he does not already have? Our technology is nothing to him."

Remy's eyes began to burn a deep, crimson red as he met Magnus' gaze evenly. "My family."

Bobby was startled suddenly awake as the alarms in the base began blaring at top volume, nearly falling from his bed in his haste to waken and rise. Sliding across the floor in his bare feet, he didn't even think to throw on clothes in his half-asleep state, bursting through the door of his room and out into the hallway, where he almost ran right over top of Lorna.

Still half-asleep, overly concerned by the alarms, and not yet realizing his state of undress, he managed to blurt out, "What the he-"

Then the alarms died, along with his dignity.

Kitty suspected the moment she heard the alarms that the other team of X-Men had just arrived, and had her suspicion confirmed a moment later when the announcement came over the speaker system mere seconds after the alarms were silenced. Still, she hadn't even made it all the way onto the landing deck to greet the newly arrived team when she heard the cry.


Shoving her through the crowd of X-Men before her, she burst into the hangar at a dead run, already having recognized the voice and what could have caused such an outcry from that person. She barely had time to grab Madelyne's arm and phase her before Logan's adamantium claws popped out, inches from the woman's throat.

"Kitty?" Logan looked from one to the other, obviously confused. "What the blazes is going on here?"

Putting her hand on Logan's arm to calm him and letting Madelyne's phased state drop, she drew a breath to explain. "This is-"

"Madelyne Pryor," Madelyne purred, offering her hand to Logan. "So good to see you again, Wolverine." Then, turning and looking at Kitty with a deliberate smile, she unnecessarily explained, "We've met."

"This is insanity," Storm proclaimed as shook her head, snowy tresses gliding back and forth over her shoulders. "Why were we not told?"

"I did not realize it was necessary to check in with you every time I accepted a new teammate, Ororo," Magnus replied caustically.

"You might have warned us, knowing that we were coming here." Storm said, no less incisively.

"It seems that it must have slipped my mind, given that there has been one surprise or emergency or another constantly going on in this complex in recent weeks."

"That's one heck o' a thing to go forgettin' about, Mags," Logan spoke up sharply. "If Kitty hadn'ta been there, I mighta cut her down on general principle, just fer lookin' like the Phoenix."

Storm glanced at Logan, her expression giving voice to her otherwise silent concern. She, above all people, knew how Logan had felt about Jean, and though his reaction to Madelyne's appearance had been as swift as it was violent, she still wondered ... if it had indeed been the Phoenix in Jean's image, would he have been able to follow through? She had never doubted Logan's abilities in the past ... not even when he himself had doubted them, but in the case of Jean Grey, all of their reactions were questionable.

"Fair enough." Magnus shrugged, replying to Logan's heated statement. "But we are not here to discuss the accuracy of my memory, are we?"

"No, we are not," Storm agreed, still slightly angry with Magnus for not telling them, but wanting to let the subject drop. "And we can ill-afford to begin fighting amongst ourselves." She glanced about the room, taking in the gathering of X-Men milling around the room. "Illyana, Madelyne, the Marauders, Je- ... the Phoenix." She shook her head again. "Has the whole world gone mad?"

"Depends on how you look at it," spoke up a thickly accented voice that Storm recognized long before its owner pushed through the crowd. "Been an age, Stormy."

"Not long enough, since I have been called that."

With a lopsided grin, Remy swept her into a hard hug and turned to wink at Logan. "You been takin' care of her, old man?"

Logan chuckled and chewed on his unlit cheroot. "Not quite as gooda care as you took o' her on that last caper in New Orleans a few years back."

Remy put up his hands in a gesture of mock peace, grinning as he released Storm from his arms. "Hey, how was I to know dat de Brotherhood had set up shop in de Big Easy since last I was dere?"

"You coulda opened yer fool eyes. Or asked."

Remy shrugged in defeat and put his hands down, still grinning. "Hey, I still saved de lady in de end, brought her home safe an' sound to your ugly mug."

"Yeah, but you wouldn't believe what I had ta listen to about yer-"

"I do hate to break up this reunion," Magnus broke in, raising his voice to draw everyone's attention. "But we really should be getting down to business."

"Always the voice of reason," Remy muttered as the room quieted and everyone moved to find their chairs for the briefing.

"Didn't you know?" Madelyne asked as she took a chair behind Remy. "Magnus has traded being a terrorist for being a politician."

Remy chuckled despite himself, and idly wondered which one of the two careers was worse.

Kitty hugged Illyana warmly in goodbye, sighing as she straightened and stepped back. "It's really too bad you won't be going with us, 'Yana. It could be just like old times, when you were in the New Mutants and I used to get sucked into your adventures."

Illyana chuckled at the memories, shaking her head. "It's probably just as well. There are still too many things I need to remember and adjust to, here. I'm not really a known quality yet."

"But Magnus would have been happy to take you along if you hadn't insisted that you weren't ready for the mission."

Shrugging, Illyana dipped her head from side to side, as if weighing the situation. "I just think it's smarter this way. Besides, I can help Gambit and Rogue with the kids, since they're staying behind as well."

Kitty nodded reluctantly, accepting her friend's word. "It is a shame, though." She frowned then, a sudden thought occurring to her. "Do you really think Sinister would come here after the children while we're gone?"

Illyana turned away from Kitty toward her simulated window, now showing the darkened desert blanketed by glittering stars. "I think he would do whatever it took to achieve his goal," she replied, folding her arms over her chest.

Nodding again, though her friend could not see her, Kitty reached down to pick up the small bag she was taking with her on their trip. "It seems so obvious, though. I mean, Gambit already had it figured out."

"Oh, you can bet that if Sinister does want the kids, he's figured out a way to do it that no one else could fathom, yet do it right under our noses."

Kitty cast an odd look at her friend's back, wondering at the tone of her voice. She was about to ask her another question when Illyana abruptly changed the subject.

"Have you found Lockheed, yet?"

Shaking her head regretfully, Kitty sighed. "No. He's probably hiding out somewhere, pouting because I've been too busy to give him any attention lately. If you see him while I'm gone..."

"I'll take care of him," Illyana agreed to the unfinished question without turning around.

"Thanks. Okay, I gotta run, 'Yana. Take care, and we'll be back soon." She slung her bag over her shoulder and cast one last glance at her friends back before opening the door.

"You, too, Kitty. See you soon."

"Bye, 'Yana." She turned the knob and was about to step out of the room when Illyana spoke again.

"Kitty...," she hesitated for a moment, as if debating whether or not to say anything, then turned and looked at her friend earnestly. "In case something goes wrong while you're on your mission, in case I don't get the chance to tell you again ... you're the best friend I ever had ... you're the only person outside of my family who's ever gone to the wire for me ... I love you like my sister, and no matter what ever happens, I need you to know that."

Kitty dropped her bag and grabbed Illyana in an impulsive hug. "Of course I know that, silly," she said softly, and then with a confidence she didn't quite feel, "And don't you worry. We're the X-Men; of course we'll make it back okay."

Illyana simply nodded into her friend's shoulder, and Kitty couldn't see the tears brimming in her eyes.

Logan sighed and puffed hard on his cheroot, ignoring the cold wind coming in off the desert.

Oh, Jeannie ... will you never rest in peace, darlin'? he wondered as he stared up into the stars. I couldn't kill the Phoenix years ago, when I thought she was you ... and in a way, she was you. More you than Madelyne will ever be. She had your spirit, your fire, your nobility ... she lived and breathed as you. She sacrificed her life to save the world, just like you woulda done. And back then, when I believed she really was you, part of me died with her that day on the moon. A part that sprang to life with joy when we found out you were still alive. I never told you how much I loved you, Jeannie, but you always knew, even without your telepathy ta tell you. And now you're gone, eight years in your grave, and I still miss you every day ... this hollow ache in my heart won't ever die. You're gone, and now the Phoenix, the only creature made in your image that ever really possessed anything good in you, is back. I've seen you die so many times, darlin', in so many different incarnations ... will I be able to watch you die again? Will I be able to kill you myself this time, if I have to?

He sighed again and threw his cheroot into the wind, watching as it was carried off into the night, a bright glowing flame against the backdrop of the stars. The image reminded him again of the Phoenix, and he closed his eyes tightly, finding no answers to his questions as a beautiful face framed by fiery hair filled his mind.


Continued in Chapter 11


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