THE ARCHETYPE ASSOCIATION
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"Now... what am I going to do with all of you?"
END OF MOVEMENT ONE
Continued in Intermission
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