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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 14: SHOWDOWN

Remy knew he was in trouble as Sinister lifted him from the floor. Using all of the agility at his command, he slipped from the other man's grasp and fell to the metal floor beneath him. Desperately, his burning red eyes flashed side-to-side, searching for a way out. He hadn't planned on his children being here! There was no way he could follow up on his plan while they were here!

And then, like the desperate, fleeting hope he was searching for, he sighted Illyana, standing frozen as she watched the proceedings. Relief flooded through him as he cried out to her, not even stopping to consider what she was doing there, "Get dem OUT OF HERE!"

What was that look in her eyes? Regret? Sadness? Remy couldn't identify it in the moment her gaze met his, but he felt his heart sink as his sudden hope died out. Illyana shook her head sadly and lowered it. "I cannot. Sinister made me, I belong to him."

Sinister smiled maliciously as he finished morphing, rising a full eight feet above the floor. His red eyes flared with something like glee as he looked down at Remy. "You see, Remy? She belongs to me as completely as the Marauders did, as completely as you do, as completely as your children shall."

Remy's eyes blazed deep crimson as he ignored Sinister's obvious barb, feeling the anger rising within him like a tide, but not letting it sweep him away. Not yet. "Dammit woman! I don't care WHO made you! Have a caring bone in your body! Don't consign dese children to de same life as you!"

One of Sinister's arms lashed out with such an amazing speed that Remy wasn't even sure he saw it until he felt a hand wrap tight around his throat and begin to strangle him. He glanced at Sinister and saw that the man hadn't moved from his position of moments before, his posture and expression indicating his boredom with the proceedings. So calm, so confident, so self-assured, Remy thought even as his strained windpipe began to buckle beneath the assault. He would see that expression wiped from the monsters face before he was done here. He turned his pleading gaze upon Illyana again, begging silently with his eyes for what his throat would not let him ask.

Her cornflower blue eyes flickered uncertainly for just a moment. It would surely mean her death to teleport the children away from Sinister ... and yet ... she had lived her own life as a pawn of an evil villain. Belasco had owned her just as certainly as Sinister would own these two children. As certainly as Sinister now owned her. Could she consign them to that, having gone through it herself?

It was a small flicker, but more of a glimmer of hope than Remy had dared hope for. He summoned all of his will and strength as he brought his hands up to pull at the vice around his throat. Sinister's grip was like steel, but it didn't matter, he pushed past the pain with every last bit of breath he possessed. "Illyana, please!" Remy pleaded, his voice cracking as tears slipped from his eyes.

She stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, memorizing the expression of torment on his face as Sinister slowly strangled him to death. None of his pain came from what Sinister was doing to him ... it was all internal ... the thought of what would happen should his flesh and blood be left in the care of such a monster. A monster that had created her for no other purpose than to steal these children for him.

"Pu-lease...," he rasped, barely able to force the words through his crushed throat.

Illyana's tears joined Remy's in a moment of shared sadness. Two sides of her soul warred in decision, as torn by the need to survive as to serve the heart of the hero within her. Ultimately, she could not do otherwise than to heed his plea ... though it would likely cost her her life, she could not see him go into death in such despair. A death he was obviously so willing to embrace for the sake of his children. She had given up more than should ever be asked of a human being in her time ... but her life would have meant nothing without the sacrifices of others, the sacrifice of herself, indeed, to help save the world. And if she could rescue these two children from the same fate as her own, then she would do it.

With a shuddering sigh, she nodded to Remy and called her teleportation disc to her, some part of her overjoyed that she still held the spirit of a hero within her and another cursing her madly for taking what she considered the higher path.

"Illyana! NO!" Sinister cried out, infuriated. In his moment of anger, he forgot all about his opponent, dropping Remy to the floor as he turned toward Illyana, but she was already gone.

Remy breathed a shuddering sigh of his own as they disappeared through the portal, his eyes taking back on their fire as he faced down Sinister for the last time.

"Now we see, who owns who...," he croaked through his ravaged vocal cords, calling his kinetic ability up from within.

The door of the Blackbird was suddenly, violently kicked open, startling Siryn as she kneeled over Madelyne.

"Bobby?" she asked uncertainly.

He stood there, a black silhouette framed in the doorway by the fiery glow behind him, the broken body of Polaris in his arms.

"My God," Siryn whispered as she rose from Madelyne's side.

"Traitor!" Bobby screamed, the rage in his voice causing Siryn to recoil.

"Bobby ... what?" Siryn asked, completely taken aback by his choice of words.

"I think ... he means ... me...," Madelyne croaked from the floor.

Rogue was nothing less than astonished by the sudden re-appearance of her children and Illyana within her room.

"Illyana! What the-," she broke off, barely having time to gather Irinee' and Jean-Luc in her arms before Illyana suddenly collapsed to the floor.

"Don't ... worry 'bout me ... they need you right now ... more than I do," Illyana gasped. And no sooner than she spoke, Rogue's children also suddenly collapsed in her arms.

In California, the Phoenix suddenly released Magnus from her grasp, dropping him some thirty feet to the ground. Her head cocked to one side, she listened as if to a distant sound only she could hear. "I ... hear them...," she whispered, and then took off with the speed of a shooting star to the northeast.

The power spilling from her children's heads was almost more than Rogue could stand. She knew what needed to be done, though every fiber of her being cried out against it. None of her concerns, her petty morals or fears had a place here. She would do what needed to be done to save their lives.

Veins and sweat stood out on her forehead as she struggled to siphon off the suddenly activated power of their telepathy. It poured into her mind and filled it, expanding her awareness across the world on a scale she'd never known was possible. It was almost too much for her mind to handle, and she touched her children's bare skin sparingly, so as not to take too much on herself, nor drain them of their blossoming minds.

"Remy, defiant to the end, as I always suspected," Sinister said, turning back toward the cajun as he spoke. "I made you well ... almost too well, I think. My mistake was in giving you far too much free will, the same mistake, it would seem, that I made with Illyana. No matter." He waved off the thought with one hand. "I will have the children back, and you will be dead, unable to stand in my way."

Remy barely even heard this last proclamation, so stunned was he by Sinister's revelation. "Made me?" he echoed in a whisper, his mind already denying what he felt in his heart to be terrifyingly true.

"But of course," Sinister said mockingly, as if it should have been an obvious statement. "Why do you think I have always been such a part of your life, Remy? That I have always kept tabs on you, that you found yourself so disposed toward dealing with me despite your better sense? I made you, Remy, I own you without question, and you are mine to do with what I choose."

"Non...," it was barely a whisper of protest. Remy shook his head back and forth as he backed away from Sinister, his entire body shaking with the turmoil of his emotions. Rage, fear, betrayal, hatred, he felt them all and more, unable to put a single name to the feeling that gripped him.

"Oh, yes," Sinister contradicted insistently. "You see, you were one of my earliest experiments in X-Men DNA. I had already seen what potentially powerful offspring Charles Xavier produced with Gabrielle Haller, a mere human. How great the power, I wondered, if Xavier had produced a child born of another mutant?" Sinister's arm stretched out toward Remy again as he spoke, and Remy, for all of his shock and horror, found that his battle instincts had not deserted him as he dodged and rolled clear of the blow.

Sinister seemed unperturbed by his failure to snare the cajun as he continued. "Unfortunately, the other mutant DNA available to me at the time was limited, and the process not yet perfected. You did not gain the telepathy of Charles Xavier, or David Haller, but instead it lay dormant in your genes while your other powers manifested. So I waited patiently through the years, and was finally rewarded with the birth of your children." Again, Sinister lashed out and again Remy dodged, rolling under the enlongated arm.

"Non," Remy protested more strongly this time. The shock was fading, battle pressing more immediate concerns upon him. "My father, Jean-Luc, raised me in de Thieves Guild in New Orleans..."

"Which is exactly where I placed you. I was curious to see how such a dishonest lifestyle could shape a young mind. But again, you proved a terrible disappointment, clinging to heroism almost as desperately as the man from whose DNA you were spawned."

His response gave Remy pause. There was possible truth here, for Jean-Luc had only found Remy as a young child of six or so and taken him in, raising him as his own son. But if it were true ... dear God, the child of Xavier? The very thought seemed beyond comprehension. But it made so much sense when he thought of the power his children stood to wield one day. They were, in many ways, far more the children of Charles Xavier than of Remy LeBeau.

Distracted by his thoughts, Remy was suddenly snapped to attention by Sinister's hand reasserting itself over his throat. "So there is the answer to your question, Remy" Sinister smiled as he shortened his arm, dragging Remy across the floor until their faces nearly touched. "I own you, body and soul."

If Remy could have responded, he would have, but his vocal cords were far beyond speech, or even repair at this point, he suspected. He had hoped to play his final card and walk away from the table, but Sinister, as always, had the ace up his sleeve. If he could have had time to plot, the time to set his plan in motion, he could have taken out the villain without him ever knowing who was responsible. But the sight of his children in Sinister's hands had caused him to act irrationally.

Might as well make de best of it, he thought as he sent kinetic energy coursing through his hands and into Sinister's body, and through him, into the very floor.

Rogue clenched her eyes and teeth in frustration, the power of the combined telepathy threatening to overwhelm her. She'd never known so much power existed! It almost seemed as if it weren't all theirs ... another consciousness blending with their own, an awareness that spanned the globe with ease and soared through its stratosphere with joy.

She could feel everything! Every waking mind, everywhere on the face of the earth! She knew their hopes, their dreams, their fears, everything that made them individuals. She knew their innermost secrets, every aspect of their being was laid bare before her. She was lost in the rapture, reveling in the glory of such power.

"You knew," Bobby snarled, barely an inch from Madelyne's face.

"I knew nothing of his plans for the Phoenix," Madelyne shot back, having recovered some of her strength with the Phoenix's sudden departure.

"So help me, Madelyne, if Lorna dies," he glanced meaningfully at the med-slab at the back of the Blackbird that Lorna laid upon, "you will shortly follow her. You have my word on it."

Magnus caught himself with his magnetic power a full twenty feet from the ground, staring after the fire trail the Phoenix left behind her in the sky. He didn't need to wonder where she had gone, her last words had made her destination quite clear.

"Storm!" Magnus shouted as his feet touched the ground. "Take your team and round up McCoy. My team will return to the complex and hopefully catch the Phoenix there."

"Already done, Magnus," Storm replied, and Magnus noticed that the majority of her team had already taken off in the direction the mad doctor had fled when the Phoenix disappeared.

Magnus hurried the rest of his own team toward the jet, stopping only when he felt a hand fall upon his shoulder.

"I'm goin' with you, Mags." Logan's expression made it clear that he expected no argument on the matter.

And Magnus offered him none as he stepped aside to let the man board the jet.

Storm watched as Logan disappeared inside the plane, feeling her heart thud painfully with the sound of the Blackbird's door hissing shut. Goddess go with you, my love. she thought as she watched the jet rise from the ground. A moment later it was gone, screaming across the sky in the same direction the Phoenix had gone minutes before.

She stood alone on the slight rise they had landed upon, unable to shake the feeling that live or die, she had already lost Logan irrevocably.

Remy knew he was dying. Every moment was a new experience in internal agony within Sinister's grasp. He had pushed beyond the limits of his power, tapping into reserves he didn't even know had existed, filling Sinister's body, the floor of the complex, the lab equipment, everything in a 50 foot radius full to bursting with kinetic energy. The strain was almost too much to bear, and he felt himself on the verge of passing out both from energy expenditure and lack of air.

It didn't matter. None of it mattered now. All that mattered was that when he did die, he would be taking Sinister with him. His children would be safe, and Rogue ... Rogue ... he felt his heart ache with the thought of her. She would be so sad, so angry with him, so lost without him ... would she ever understand that he had done this for her and the children as much as for himself? Would she ever forgive him, or herself? Her face filled his mind, as beautiful now as it had been ten years ago when he had first seen her. Briefly, the years ticked by in his mind, how they had changed and grown together; their first meeting, their parting in Antarctica, their reunion, the day of their wedding, the birth of their children, the love that had remained constant throughout. Remy had never been a particularly religious man, but he hoped somehow, that wherever he went when he died, she would join him someday when her time came. But even if she did not, he knew the memory of her would carry him through eternity.

Rogue was drifting, sifting through consciousness' of the world, marveling at the complexity that made up each individual. She was so fully merged with her children's psyches by now that she no longer thought in the sense of an individual, herself. It was something of a gestalt between them now, and she gave herself over to it, letting their combined power carry her where it would. It was easier this way than trying to force it to her will.

She was far beyond the concerns of her mortal life, her mortal vessel, a side-effect, though she did not yet realize it, of the Phoenix's rapidly approaching presence. So it was that when she finally brushed against a familiar consciousness in her travels, she was surprised. It was a loving presence, a comforting presence that she only dimly recognized in her current state. On a base level, she (they) knew this was someone she (they) cared for greatly, and she drew her (their) thoughts to a focus on the person, and felt them respond in kind, welcoming her (them) in.

And then ...

For a brief moment, Remy thought he could feel her here with him, her and their children, their minds brushing gently against his. It was insane, they were miles away and he knew it even in his near-death state, but he grabbed hold of the feeling and pulled it close inside of him, letting the feeling of them warm his heart from within.

The room glowed a bright pink with the energy he had expelled, rippling over the room in waves like heat ripples over the ground on a hot day. Still, he pushed on, feeding every last bit of power he possessed through Sinister and into the room, fueled by the strength of his family within. He felt nothing so much as peace, in these, his final moments. They were with him.

The room began to tremble violently, delicate lab equipment falling from shelves and tables to the floor, where they shattered, dumping their contents out onto the smooth floor. It was time.

His lungs burned for a breath of air, his entire body ached, but still, he managed a final smile as he released the last of his energy into Sinister's body.

Got you, you bastard he thought as his consciousness began to flicker out.

And then, everything exploded in a flare of kinetic energy.

The unfortunate souls who chose to live too close the Seattle complex had just a moment to marvel the explosion as it caught the chemical tanks in Sinister's lab, then, they too were wiped out in what was the equivalent of a nuclear blast.

She was dying! Every cell in her body flared with a burning agony, turning flesh to smoking cinder. The pain was so excruciating that she could barely think past it, barely hear the weak voice that pulled at the fringes of her mind.

"ROGUE!" the voice called out in agony.

And then she recognized it, knew it, understood exactly what was happening. Her awareness returned in an instant, like a jolt of electricity and fear coursing through her veins.


She was locked into him now, and she felt the pull of darkness that beckoned to him. She watched in horror as his synapses winked out, one by one, like lights being turned off at the close of a business day, the blackness growing and consuming his mind.

"I got ‘im, chere. You all ... be safe, now..."

Tears rose in her eyes though she couldn't feel them, and she grabbed hold of his tenuous thread of thought, struggling to keep it alive, to keep him bound to this plane.


"Too late, chere ... too late for me ... save de children. Tell ... Magnus ... he take care of you, now ... love you chere ... now an' always..."

His thoughts like quicksilver more than ever before, she felt them sliding inexorably through her grip. She saw herself reflected in them, saw their children reflected in them as well, given a beauty denied to them in reality, blessed with the kind of perfection one can only find in the mind's eye. For a moment, his entire life was laid out before her like a storybook, and she looked into the depths of it through tear blurred eyes, seeing herself, seeing their life together as he had seen it. She felt as though they were one, finally given the true union of soul in mind that they had only emulated in body. So entwined were their minds that Rogue could no longer separate herself from him, their children from them, and the shared love between them all refused Rogue the option of letting him go.

"Ah love you, Remy..."

She felt his mind tighten against hers in an odd way that she would never be able to describe afterward, like a mental hug. Then came a sharp tug and sudden release, and she lost all sense of him ... as if he had cut their link to avoid taking her into death with him. She was a single mind again, feeling herself drifting in the dark of his mind as if in a void, more alone than she had ever felt in her entire life.

"Always..." he answered echoingly.

The voice faded out, and the final light in his mind went black, taking all of his psionic presence with it.

And then, Rogue went truly, completely, mad.


Continued in Chapter 15


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