Chapter Eight - "Nice From Far, But Far From Nice"
Rogue thought for a moment. "Genosha. Isn't that in
the Indian Ocean somewhere?" she asked, tentatively.
"Yeah. Don't go there. You wouldn't like it." He
"When I graduated from high school, that summer I took
a month off," he began. "I had my powers, and I
decided to tour the world. I flew down to South America, and
explored the Amazon rainforest. Camping out in the wild is
fun when you don't have to worry about insect bites or broken
bones or anything."
"After that I went to Africa, saw the veldt, the Sahara,
the jungles. A day here, a couple days there. I stayed away
from the cities, mostly. No passport, y'know, and I didn't
need the hassle. I moved on to India, camped out for several
"I spent some time flying over the ocean, just enjoying
going fast. One day I spotted somebody trying to follow me.
I wasn't as 'paranoid' then," he glared at her, "so
I waited for them to catch up, and it turned out there were
three of them."
"They said they were from Genosha, and they'd spotted
me on radar the day before. They wanted to invite me to see
the place. They said there were lots of mutants, and they
didn't have to live in fear there."
"Of course I was curious, and I figured nobody there
knew who I was, or how to find me. So, what the heck, I followed
them down. We landed outside a really large building, and
they led me in. I wish I'd paid more attention to the armed
guards, but I figured I could handle them, and besides, the
mutants said it was safe. Like I said, I was naive."
There's a middle ground between paranoid and naive,
Rogue thought, but she kept quiet and let him talk.
"One of them went off, and the others took me into a
conference room. They said they wanted me to meet someone,
and smiled at each other. I wish I'd thought about that more,
too. After a minute this older guy walks in."
"One of them says, 'Here, meet Wipeout.' I was, like,
'Why are you called that?'"
"He went, 'Because I wipe out powers.' I didn't understand.
Then there was a bright flash of light and I passed out."
"The next thing I knew, I was in a cave. I didn't know
how I got there, but I knew there was an angry bear in the
cave with me; I had to get out. Then it was in front of me;
I turned and ran, but the ground melted and I was falling.
I landed, and I was in some kind of machine, pinned in some
gears that were trying to grind me up. I pushed, and pulled,
but I couldn't get out. I could see the bear, but it was also
a man, and he was running the controls."
"I'd gotten interested in dreams before, when I was
researching biofeedback, and I'd learned how to have a lucid
dream. I realized that this was some kind of dream. I fought
my way out of the machine, and then the guy was a bear again,
and he was squeezing me. I was terrified; I knew it was a
dream, but it didn't feel like any dream I'd had. But
I fought, and fought, and finally I managed to wake up."
"I was strapped onto a table, in a dark room. There
was a man, looming over me, with a helmet on his head, and
wires coming out of it. He was surprised I was awake, and
he was angry. And I could still feel him in my mind! He was
trying to break me down, brainwash me. It was awful. I guess
maybe rape feels like that."
Rogue was beginning to understand Greg's fear of Xavier.
From his description, she recognized a psychic assault. She
had fought mental battles before, especially when she absorbed
people. Sometimes she lost; it was a horrible feeling.
"I tried to sit up, but the straps held. I looked, and
they were just metal. I was fighting to stay awake, but I
didn't think they looked that strong. I realized I had a helmet
"The guy's eyes got big when I pushed the helmet off
with my field. He turned and hit a switch, and there were
alarms going off. I focused my field as best I could and cut
the straps. I could tell something was wrong. It was too hard."
"I sat up, and the guy was staring at me. I wasn't sleepy
anymore, but I could still feel him in my head! It wasn't
as strong, but I was terrified. I jumped him, and I hit him
as hard as I could."
"He went flying, but I realized that I was weak. I had
maybe a tenth of my normal strength. And then I saw another
guy, a security guard in a weird uniform. I slugged him, too,
but he didn't fall. He just laughed and knocked me across
"He was way stronger and tougher than me; at least,
weak as I was. So I flew to the door - even that was hard.
But it was solid metal, and it was locked. The guard grabbed
me from behind and threw me again."
"What did you do?" Rogue asked, fascinated and
"He couldn't fly. I killed two birds with one stone.
I picked him up and used him as a battering ram on the door."
Rogue was shocked speechless.
Greg glared back. "He lived. At least, I think he did.
I wasn't exactly in the mood to be charitable. It took a few
hits, but finally the door went down. So did he."
"Outside there were more guards, weird weapons, more
alarms. I used my guard as a shield and flew over them, and
ducked around a corner. They were shocked; I don't think they
expected me to have any powers at all. Then I got lucky."
"Right in front of me, Wipeout was running up the hall.
I guess he was responding to the alarm. I remembered what
he'd said, and figured he must've zapped my powers. I dropped
the guard, picked up Wipeout, punched him in the stomach,
and busted out a window with him."
"We were maybe forty stories up, by that building. I
kept going, heading around another corner, and saw what I
needed. There were a bunch of spikes sticking up out of a
tower. I don't know what they were, maybe antennas or radiators
"Anyway, I got us over them, as he started to recover.
I made him look down, so he could see that if he zapped me
again, we'd both fall onto the spikes. He was scared, I could
see it. I grabbed him by the throat and said, 'Fix me, now,
or I'll drop you!'"
"He was choking, and panicked, but he finally got it.
He waved his hand at me, and there was a flash of light, and
suddenly I was back to normal."
"I wanted to kill him, but by then there were ships
and those flying people coming at me. So I hit him in the
head, hard. He went out like a light, and then I threw him
at one of the flyers. She had to catch him. Another flyer
got close, and I kicked him just as hard as I could. I don't
know if I killed him; I do know I broke ribs." He seemed
very satisfied with that. There was a dangerous glint in his
"I was furious, and terrified. Everyone was shooting
at me, and there were more coming every second. I would've
leveled that whole damn island, but I figured if they had
one guy who could mess me up, they might have more. So I bugged
out. They couldn't keep up with me. I was going full blast.
I must've been halfway across Australia before I calmed down
He stopped. He was tired, and he'd worked off some of his
anger. But not all of it. "So, 'sugar'," he asked,
his voice dripping sarcasm, "do you understand why I'm
not so inclined to trust you?"
Rogue looked away. "Yeah, Ah guess Ah do." Then
she looked him in the eye. "But Ah didn't do any
of that. Ah wouldn't even if I could. Your field helped protect
you from Wipeout, Ah guess. It protects you from me all the
way. You're safe from me."
"Which makes me really convenient." His vicious
tone bit into her, but she was done crying.
"Damn you. Ah thought you were better than this. You
can't imagine what it's like to never be able to touch anybody.
Ah'm not going to apologize for being interested in you because
of that. But that wasn't all of it. You seemed like an okay
guy. You helped us out. You were polite and funny. Ah wanted
to know more about you."
She turned away, tired and saddened. "But y'know, maybe
you're not so different. Ah can't let anyone touch me. But
you, you're just too scared. Ah'm sorry Ah had the courage
to reach out to you. You ain't worth it."
Greg just stood there, openmouthed.
"See you around." She took off, heading back toward
the mansion. Later there would be more tears, she knew, but
right now she didn't have it in her.
Rogue curved towards Westchester County and the mansion.
At least he had one thing right. It is beautiful
up here. For a while she just enjoyed the night sky, deliberately
not thinking about anything but the clouds illuminated by
Something swooped up beside her, a dozen yards away. She
whirled around, bringing up her fists, but it was Fortress,
with his hands up in another 'don't hurt me' pose.
They slowed down, until they could hear each other speak.
Greg looked abashed.
"Earlier I said I was going to have to apologize more
often. I didn't think I'd be doing it this soon. I'm sorry
I freaked out on you. I'm sorry I accused you of using me.
You did not deserve that. And I humbly ask for a chance
to make it up to you."
"Can Ah trust you?" Rogue asked, staring at him
levelly. "Will you give this a fair chance?"
"I promise. I won't back down." He looked her in
the eye. "I was really looking forward to a second date.
And I'll make sure our third date isn't another apology."
When they landed at the mansion, they were holding hands.
Gingerly, but they were holding hands.
Magneto grunted as the blast seared across the chamber, nearly
buckling the protective field he was maintaining. This Monday
had gotten very, very bad; and it had done so very, very quickly.
He had been at work in his laboratory, developing a microwave
pulse weapon that he could arm troops with. There had been
a sudden asteroid-quake, and he'd felt the unmistakable drop
in air pressure that signaled a hole in the integrity of the
His warning sensors hadn't tracked any nearby debris, or
there would have been alarms. He'd raced to investigate, grabbing
an air mask on the way to the breach.
What he'd found had been horrifying. He recognized Nimrod
instantly from the news reports he'd intercepted of the X-Men's
recent battle. Poor Lorelei's power to enchant people with
her singing had been useless against the robot. She was dead,
and Magneto tried to avoid looking at what was left of her.
He'd only barely been able to yank Unus out of the way; his
repulsion field had nearly failed by the time Magneto arrived.
Toad was applying first aid in the hall, trying to get another
air mask for Unus, while Magneto lashed out at Nimrod and
repaired the hole in the wall.
He wasn't having much of an effect. The Sentinel didn't seem
to contain any magnetic material that Magneto could get a
hold of with his power. The robot's weapons appeared highly
tuned to Magneto's weaknesses. His shield was getting progressively
Fortunately, he had some advantages here. He reached out
to the malleable iron ore that pervaded the asteroid, and
slammed two huge chunks of it together on opposite sides of
the robot with extreme force.
Nimrod had determined from contemporary records that Magneto
was as great a threat to humanity in this timleline as in
his native one. Records from his future time had listed the
existence and orbit of Asteroid M - it had been captured by
Sentinels in 2008. His advanced stealth capabilities had allowed
him to approach it undetected.
Magneto was one of the most studied (and most fought) mutants
of the 21st century. Nimrod had detailed files on his abilities,
skills, strengths, weaknesses, tactics, and psychology. He
was confident that he could defeat the powerful mutant handily.
As he had judged, the two chunks of iron ore, even reinforced
by Magneto's power, were not sufficient to do more than cosmetic
damage. He lashed out with a neutral particle beam, which
would be harder for Magneto to repel.
Indeed, Magneto was not able to entirely shield himself from
the beam, and only his reinforced costume protected him from
serious injury. He came to a quick decision, and implemented
it just as quickly.
It was terribly inefficient, but Magneto could generate gravitons
when he had to. He focused his power, pulsed energy in front
of himself with a supreme effort, and released it in a rush
A powerful gravity wave slammed into Nimrod, who was not
adequately prepared. It carried him with savage force, flexing
important internal connections, finally crashing him with
stunning force into the far wall of the chamber. Nimrod was
Magneto was half-exhausted, and he could see that the robot
was not damaged severely enough to risk pressing the assault.
He ripped the substance of the asteroid apart, embedding Nimrod
in a metal sphere a dozen feet thick.
He whirled swiftly and lurched out into the hall. "Come
with me! We are leaving!" he barked to the two
"But... Lorelei..." Unus and Lorelei had been lovers
for over a year.
"She is dead; and so shall we be if we do not
retreat now!" He sympathized with Unus; he himself
had lost many people he'd loved. But, unwilling to waste more
time, he grabbed them both in a magnetic field and propelled
them to the far side of the station.
They quickly seated themselves in the single transport ship,
and Magneto added his own power's force to the ship's engines
as they fled from the station at full thrust. All three groaned
at the acceleration.
Nimrod finished melting out of the steel prison, and took
stock. He detected the ship vectoring at full acceleration
for Earth. It was not yet out of range. He calculated for
a moment, weighing options.
Ultimately he decided not to waste more energy. He had achieved
his key objectives, and things were proceeding more-or-less
according to plan...
Continued in Chapter
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