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"The Archetype Association"

The Archetype Association

Author's Notes
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49


Scott placed the Blackbird in hover mode about fifteen miles south of Damascus. Rogue, Jean, and Ororo helped Will out of the plane, and lowered him to the ground. "Are we far enough from the plane?" Jean asked him.

"We should be," he replied. He took a few steps away from them and sat down in the sand, facing away from them and placing his sword on the ground. "You and Betsy should raise your shields."

"We never lowered them."

"Smart move." He closed his eyes and slowly lowered the barriers that he had built.

The three women were startled when Will's head snapped back as if he had been struck. His breathing intensified, and he bent over in pain. Rogue started to move towards him, but Jean held her back gently, shaking her head.

Will seemed to get control of himself, and he stood up. "That way," he said pointing across the desert. His voice had acquired the same resonating timbre that Rogue had observed at Glastonbury Tor.

"We should get back on the plane," Ororo advised.

Will shook his head as he placed his sword back in his coat. "I have to stay on the ground. You can follow however you choose." He started walking in the direction that he had indicated. After a few moments, he had broken into a run.

"Let's go," Jean said quickly. "He'll probably be switching to super-speed before long." They reentered the Blackbird, and Scott began a complicated series of maneuvers that allowed them to stay within visual range of Will without having to reduce their speed to the point where they were a target.

After a few minutes, it became clear that Will was heading towards a large ravine. "That'll be too narrow for us to follow him," Logan observed.

"Then we'll have to get out," Scott shrugged. "We've all climbed before."

Everyone took a canteen of water from the galley, and they landed the plane far enough away from the edge of the ravine to avoid any possibility of its weight causing an avalanche. Logan sniffed at the air. "He went this way, 'Roro."

"Will you have any problem, Jean?" Bobby asked.

"None, once I locate him." She frowned for a moment. "There he is." She pointed towards the west.

"Let's go, then," Ororo decided. She, Rogue, and Warren flew down into the ravine, while Jean carried everyone else down.

The floor of the ravine was about one hundred fifty meters straight down, about seven meters wide, and was covered with a thin layer of sand that had sifted down from the surface over the centuries. Logan found Will's tracks within a few seconds. "He's movin' slowly," Logan observed. "Smart boy."

"How far ahead of us is he?" Ororo asked.

"About three hundred meters."

"Let's try to narrow that down."

Rogue and Logan took point, while Bobby and Warren took the rear. Scott, Ororo, Jean and Betsy spread out in a diamond formation, with Scott taking the front, Ororo the back, and Jean and Betsy covering the sides, probing outward with their telepathy.

Anything, Jean? Scott whispered within his own mind.

Not yet, she replied.

Can you sense Will?

Only vaguely. He's not having an easy time.

Will leaned against a boulder as he staggered forward, gasping for breath. "Won't you all shut up?" he muttered under his breath. "It's hard to be subtle with you screaming at me."

He took off his hat and wiped his forehead. He had just squeezed through a very narrow gap in the rock face, reaching a wider area which seemed to be made of less stable rock; large, irregular slabs of stone were strewn randomly ahead of him. He carefully wove his way atop them, hugging the side of the canyon for support.

After about two hundred feet, the terrain became smooth again, and Will found himself in an area which was flanked on either side by a wall of rock which, strangely enough, became narrower as it got higher, rather than wider, as was the case everywhere else he had been in the canyon.

He gave himself a moment to ponder this discrepancy, then pulled out his communicator to update his position to Ororo. It shorted out in his hand. He looked at it for a moment, shook his head, and tossed it aside.

The explosion came without warning, throwing him to the ground. The sides of the canyon began to collapse, sliding down the walls to block the gap which he had just passed through. Will, however, was untouched.

He stood up slowly, picking up his sword, and examined the rubble. Okay, what's the point of all this? he thought to himself. It didn't hurt me, and the rest of the team is too far away for any of them to have been hit. The only thing this'll do is delay me for a minute or two while I clear this...

Oh, no.

His eyes began to flash incessantly as he began teleporting the boulders out of his way.

The other X-Men jumped at the noise of the explosion. "Think he was caught in that?" Bobby asked quickly as he iced up.

"No," Betsy replied. "I would have felt something if he was hit, even through his shields."

"We should find out what happened," Ororo decided. "Double time, everyone."

They all started moving a bit more briskly, their various senses and powers probing outward.

Logan held up his hand, signaling everyone to stop.

"What?" Bobby said softly.

"I thought I heard something."

The sound of another explosion, directly above them, boomed through the valley. They all watched, shocked, as the top of the cliff started falling directly straight down towards them.

"I've got it!" Jean yelled as she levitated up. She stretched out her telekinetic net, putting all of her energy towards withstanding the crush of the oncoming avalanche.

Everyone held their breath as the rain of boulders rushed towards the shimmer created by the ionization of Jean's psi-energy.

And their jaws all dropped as the boulders passed right through it.

"They're not real!" Jean snapped. "It's a - !"

She never got to finish her sentence. A bolt of energy sliced through the air, enveloping her. A scream of pain ripped through her lungs, and her agony passed through her psychic bond with Scott, sending him into a similar paroxysm of torture. They both collapsed to the ground, senseless.

"Defensive positions, everyone!" Ororo snapped as she began to build up a sandstorm to flush out their opponents.

Three short cracks echoed among the rocks, and Henry, Bishop, and Betsy all slumped to the ground, each with a small dart sticking in their skin.

"Betsy!" Warren yelled, panicked. He began a dive towards her and the others.

"No, Warren!" Rogue snapped. "Don't!"

She was startled when a small explosion in front of her covered her face with a white powder. She choked for a moment, then immediately started feeling woozy. She noticed, just before landing in a helpless sprawl on the sand, that Ororo was in a similar predicament. A moment later, Warren had joined them on the ground.

Bobby formed an ice slide and tried to reach Logan. He didn't have enough humidity to work with, though, and he was thrown off his feet as a concussion mine exploded from the ground underneath him. His head cracked as he hit the wall of the canyon, and he collapsed in an addled heap.

Logan stared, dumbfounded, at the rest of the team. They had all been taken down in the space of ten seconds, and their enemy had yet to show themselves. He kept his body loose, ready to tear anything that appeared into bits.

He heard the barest sound, like two grains of sand scraping together, directly behind him.

A heartbeat later, the world erupted into a haze of pain.

Rogue shook herself out of her stupor a few minutes later, but was unable to do anything more than roll over. Her blurry vision cleared after a moment, and she heard the sound of footsteps running towards her.

Will scrambled into her field of vision. His face was bleeding from a number of scrapes on his cheeks and chin, and his uniform was ripped in several places. Rogue's head was still a bit fuzzy, and to her surprise, all she could think was that he had to take better care of his things.

Will careened to a stop, staring unbelieving at the sight of the fallen X-Men. He stood just inside the entrance to the canyon, his back to the cliff face.

Rogue could only stare, horrified, as the rock behind Will shimmered like a mirage. A large shape emerged from the exposed recess, looming silently behind him.

Will continued to survey the condition of the X-Men, and his eyes finally met Rogue's. His face widened in realization, and he slowly turned around.

Apocalypse towered above him, easily three times his size. In his hands, he held a massive, barbed spear, covered in gold, bearing a series of Egyptian designs.

Will stood there, speechless, for a moment, then gritted his teeth, raised his sword, and lunged.

Apocalypse moved faster than Rogue would have thought possible for someone so large. He parried Will's thrust, stunned him with the butt of the spear, and knocked Will's sword out of his hand.

Will leaped back, clutching his broken wrist, then looked up just in time to see the point of the spear reach his heart.

Rogue gasped, helpless, as the spear ripped right through Will, emerging from his back.

Will's scream echoed throughout the valley. Apocalypse twisted the spear with a sneer and pulled it out, tearing through Will's flesh even more with the barbs.

Will dropped to his knees, staring at the hole in his chest dumbly. Apocalypse picked him up by his coat and lifted him off his feet.

Then he sent a blast of energy through his hands, setting Will on fire.

Will screamed again as he was dropped to the ground, his flesh and hair burning. He writhed for a few moments, then flashed as he vanished.

Apocalypse stared at the scorch marks on the ground, and then sighed regretfully.

"A pity," he said in his ultra bass voice. "I was expecting more from him. I thought he would be more fit."

Rogue heard him once more just before she lost consciousness again:

"Now... what am I going to do with all of you?"




Continued in Intermission 1


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