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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


In the depths of her memories, the Phoenix was dying. Their spaceship was burning up as it hit the Earth's atmosphere, and she could feel the radiation beginning to seep through her TK bubble and into her body. Her flesh was turning gray, rapidly emaciating as the radiation ate away at her, and she called out in desperation (goodbye?) to the man she loved more than life itself.


It was here that the memory diverged, then converged again with another, deeply hidden memory. In the original memory, Jean Grey had cried out for help, and a cosmic entity called the Phoenix had answered her call. The Phoenix had agreed to save Jean, placing her body in a cocoon to heal. But the Phoenix longed to be human, to know what it was like to be mortal, and struck a deal with Jean which would allow her to take a piece of Jean's personality and assume her mortal form. Jean, having no other choice but death, had agreed. And so it was done.

But that was a lie.

Deep within her subconscious, buried so far down that she would never have found it had she not been searching for the missing pieces of herself, she found another memory, one that rang true.

She had cried out Scott's name, yes, that much was true. But what had happened after that was something even she hadn't imagined. The radiation that was slowly killing her had triggered a change in her mutant genes, upping them to their most powerful potential, mutating the mutation for lack of a better explanation. She had felt the change, felt her power suddenly increase far beyond normal proportions, shutting out the radiation from her form and saving her life. But the damage had been done, her body was failing. She had no time to worry about that at the moment, though. The ship was hurtling toward the earth with the velocity of a rocket, and power increase or no, it was taking all of her telekinetic control to keep it from flying to pieces.

The ship obediently slowed, and she felt a moment of triumph, just before blacking out on the console.

When next she remembered waking, she had been in the hospital, and her powers had been increased beyond any potential Charles Xavier had ever realized. She had never explained her theory of the radiation to the X-Men, and she thought now that maybe she hadn't, because at the time, she hadn't remembered.

The months flew by in a blur, bringing her up to the point where she had sacrificed herself on the moon. It had been the only logical thing to do, in her mind. Obviously she couldn't control her increased powers, and she had already killed some five billion people because of it. Her penance for her crimes would be death, and she herself would carry out the sentence.

It had seemed like the only option at the time, and the best course of action she had. This was where all of her memories should have stopped ... and would have if she were truly the Phoenix entity who had replaced Jean Grey. But now she knew that the Phoenix had never replaced Jean Grey at all ... it had been her, the entire time.

She trembled inside her mind at the revelation, unable to accept it. There had never been a Phoenix at all. And if it hadn't been the Phoenix who had taken all those lives, then it had been Jean Grey. It had been her, all along.

Magnus took one look at the children's destroyed room and the Phoenix's unconscious body and knew exactly what had happened here.

"Where did she go?" Magnus asked, kneeling down beside Illyana.

"After ... Sinister," Illyana rasped.

Magnus' look of concern faded rapidly as his anger came to the fore. "What? I strictly forbid-"

Illyana shook her head, interrupting him. "He was after the kids ... I ... it was me ... I helped. And Remy died ... trying to save them."

Anger turned to confusion, and Magnus stared at her for a long moment in silence, trying to make sense of it all.

"Wow ... score one for Rogue," Madelyne said as she entered the room and surveyed the scene.

Magnus was about to respond with a scathing remark when suddenly, Jean-Luc and Irinee' began convulsing violently.

She hadn't died then. It had felt like dying, her atoms discorporating in a sudden flash of fire, but no, that hadn't been the end. Now that the lock on this box of memories had come undone, they were coming faster and faster.

She remembered how it had felt, being broken into a thousand tiny fragments, her very soul split asunder at its core and replicated in each atom. Her very essence was scattered into remnants, and without a form to hold them together, they each went in whatever direction called to them. A tiny bit of her was captured by Lilandra and placed into a memory crystal, which in turn was given to her parents to remember her by. The rest of her roamed the galaxy at random, searching for a home.

Another piece of herself found its home in her clone, Sinister's creation Madelyne Pryor, actually breathing it into life. But it was a mere fragment of the woman who had been Jean Grey, and was overwhelmed by the memories Sinister had implanted. Eventually, that piece had melded into Maddie's persona and become part of it.

The rest of her found its final home in Jamaica bay, the place where the Phoenix had originally been born. With great care, she had gathered herself together, placing herself in a cocoon where she could reform and heal. But this time, she promised herself as she slowly became more coherent, she would not become the monster she had been before. There would be no Phoenix power. So thinking, she had buried all of her memories as Phoenix as deeply as she could, using her telepathy to cut off her access to them before she shut it down forever. So deep was her shame in her actions that she rearranged her memories to remember the Phoenix force as a separate entity that had taken her place. That was the story she had believed, even wanted to believe, on a subconscious level for so many years, that finding the truth behind it now was terrifying. The power had been too much, so she put locks on it, kept it at bay to the extent that she even shut out her telepathic ability and her memories.

When they had found her, years later, she had been head-blind, with no telepathic power to speak of. Her memories remained as she had arranged them, and no one had ever questioned the wildly concocted story she gave them. She, herself, had believed it, so why shouldn't have they? The piece of herself that had merged with Madelyne was returned to her eventually, and then she was nearly whole. Slowly, over many months, as she began to trust herself again, her telepathic ability returned. It was diminished in comparison to the Phoenix's power, but at just the right level for Jean Grey prior to her radiation exposure. Even as she had released the locks on her telepathic power, she had kept it under control, keeping it to a level she believed was her maximum.

It had taken even longer to realize her true potential for power, and to feel comfortable using it. She had always held back, subconsciously, out of fear for Scott's reaction and her own lack of control. She had slowly been opening up that untapped power, exploring it and learning how to use it again, the locks on her memories gradually giving way. She had been on the verge of reclaiming her power as the Phoenix when the battle with the Shadow king had come. Perhaps, if she had been fully familiar with her power then, the battle would have ended quite differently. As it was, she had died along with all the other telepath's across the world.

So why had she died in that battle, but not when the gun on the moon had fired on her? Was it an ability of the gun that had made her discorporate in such a way? Uncertain, she dug deeper into memory, finding what she was seeking very close to the surface.

She hadn't died, then, either. Again, her atoms had dispersed, then re-converged in the place of the Phoenix's birth. She had been rebuilding, healing all of this time. Apparently someone had found her, had tampered with her memories before she woke up, because the state of confusion she had awoken with had been unnatural. She had awakened with thoughts of the Dark Phoenix, eager to take up her role as Destroyer of Worlds, something she would never have done on her own.

That bothered her, but she found that the implications of her memories were far more pressing, and terrifying. If all of her memories were true, if everything had happened as she now remembered it ...

The radiation had transformed her, and she had truly become a force of nature, not unlike the cosmic entity she had blamed all of her misfortune on for years ... and that meant she was the Phoenix in more than name and deed. It meant she could not die.

She was immortal.

Without their mother to siphon off their power, Irinee' and Jean-Luc's telepathy had built up to the bursting point again.

"What the hell is going on?" Magnus asked angrily as the world continued to slowly unravel around him.

Madelyne frowned, then walked toward the children's beds, closing her eyes momentarily before gasping aloud. "Their brains are being fried by their own power."

"Can you help them?" Magnus asked tensely, his mind racing to put together the pieces. Apparently the Phoenix's telepathic burst of thought at the moment of her resurrection had triggered the children's telepathy before its time. He felt like he was asking the lion to take the lambs into its den, but he had no choice.

Madelyne frowned, looking uncertain. "I might be able to merge with them telepathically and help keep their power under control..."

"But will you?" Magnus asked quietly. This was the moment of truth. Either she would help the children willingly, or he would threaten her with her life. If that didn't work, well, he'd figure that out when he got to it.

Madelyne arched a brow at Magnus, seeming to consider. Her first instinct had been to help the children, she hadn't even questioned it, and now she wondered about that. She'd been willing to sacrifice her own son to destroy the world, once. Why should she go out of her way to help children that weren't even hers?

She pondered the question for a long moment, then shrugged. Her deal with Magnus had been that she would help the team as long as they helped her against Sinister. If Rogue was going after Sinister with Phoenix power, she'd probably succeed in killing him. At the very least, she could repay Rogue for trying to take out Sinister, even if she didn't succeed. That was the deal she had made, after all.

"Oh ye of little faith," she replied, closing her eyes again and reaching out into the children's minds.

Bobby paced back and forth in front of Lorna's unconscious body anxiously. "So what's the verdict, Siryn?"

Theresa sighed and brushed her hair back from her face. "It's hard to say ... Lorna is the best 'doctor' we have, unfortunately. From the med-slab specs, it seems she has massive trauma to her internal organs, right arm shattered from the shoulder down, broken collarbone, concussion-"

"Enough." Bobby held up his hand, the growing list making his stomach turn. "Will she ... will she be all right?" he asked in a much more subdued tone.

"I think so." Theresa nodded. "The specs are promising and she'd already recovered somewhat on the trip home. It's a good thing you got her in there so quick Bobby ... she was this close to dying" she held up her thumb and index finger about a quarter inch apart to demonstrate.

He was about to open his mouth to reply, when suddenly the med-slab alarms began to blare urgently. "What the he--?!"

"She's going into cardiac arrest!" Theresa yelled above the din, all the blood draining from her face.

Logan sat crouched over the Phoenix's body, utterly silent, a brooding look upon his face.

Had she always been this beautiful? he wondered. She was even more vibrant than he remembered, even in her comatose state. How could he ever bring himself to kill such a thing of beauty, such a wild force of nature, such a kindred spirit? And yet, how could he not, when the very world was threatened by her existence?

He heard Magnus moving behind him, and he wondered for a moment if the other man was measuring him as much as Logan was measuring himself.

He flexed his hand once or twice, staring down at it, and for a moment, Magnus thought he might just pop his claws and kill her then and there. Then, slowly, he let his hand drift back down to his side and continued watching her, waiting for the faintest sign of life, or threat.

Rogue rejoiced in the feeling of the wind that rushed over her face. She had always been able to fly relatively fast, but the speed of the Phoenix's travel was intoxicating. Even better than that, was the knowledge that with each passing second, she drew closer to her goal, and she could almost taste satisfaction.

The ground would run red with Sinister's blood before she was done with him.


To be continued.


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