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This entity is a contradiction. Composed of elements which
have always been set against each other, it should not exist.
But it does. Different dreams and visions which have collided
many times in the past are now one. A deadly collusion, a
gestalt created when the most powerful minds combined with
the most powerful body. It has taken on a new name, a significant
one, Alpha. The name is apt - this entity believes itself
to be the beginning. Yet, another way, it is also the end
- for it desires the destruction of a dream. A dream, which
ironically enough, was the brainchild of one of the component
minds. A dream opposed fervently by the other pieces of this
tripartite mind - this jigsaw psyche. Alpha is pleased with
its first action. It has set into motion the domino effect
which will spell the end of the only ones capable of opposing
him - the X-Men. With a trial that laid open their doubts
and their fears, that divided the team in two irrevocably,
Alpha began its master-plan. He now seeks to continue their
destruction, piece by piece, until the jigsaw puzzle is broken.
Systematically eroding his opposition. Alpha has always believed
in the old maxim divide and conquer'. He smiles.
M'head hurts as I wake up t'another cold day. Pardonnez-moi,
night. De glare off de snow makes it impossible t'travel when
it is light. Been walkin' f'r a few days now - wit'out food,
save f'r what I could scavenge from de wrecked citadel. Water
be no problem when ya surrounded by miles o' featureless snow.
Melt some an' drink. From what I remember o' National Geographic,
dere be bases in Antarctica - if I c'n get to one o' dem,
I stand a chance. Or de Savage Land. Seems impossible here
in dis cold landscape dat dere be a tropical paradise nearby.
C'n taste dat fruit now, feel de sun on my face . . . . Been
pushin' m'powers to deir limits simply t'survive - t'keep
warm - an' I'm exhausted. Seems t'me dat it would be nice
t'crawl up in de snow an' die - least den I'd get some peace.
Non. Can't t'ink like dat . . . must keep movin', leBeau.
No time f'r self-pity. An' self-pity really don't suit you
well, Remy. Her words still echo through my aching head, over'n'over
again like a bad record. Can't bring m'self t'hate her, even
though she did leave me t'die. Or survive. She didn't care.
It's up ta you whether you live or die. Ah don't care any
more. Can't feel m'legs. Everyt'ing's shimmering . . . so
much light . . . red light . . . like . . . .
"I don't care, Kevin. You've betrayed me. Lied
to me about who you are and your entire history," the
blonde woman put a hand over her heart melodramatically, "How
could you? I loved you. Unconditionally."
Cannonball puts another handfull of popcorn into his mouth,
"You wanted the truth, Rhonda? The whole truth?
Look at the way you are reacting now - I couldn't have trusted
you with my secret," her husband - a tall, dark man -
pleaded, "I couldn't have!"
"Turn that trash off, Sam," Rogue says, her eyes
narrowing into slits.
"But . . . Rogue . . . . It's th' Days of All Our Children's
Bold Lives in the City. Ah always watch it."
"Ah said to turn it off, Sam."
"Sheesh," he ignores her and carries on watching
the flickering screen.
"So now I'm leaving you, because I simply don't
care any more. About you. About what you did. I'm tired of
living with the uncertainty of wondering how much else you
aren't telling me. It's over, Kevin."
"But, Rhonda, I love you."
"You're honest with the people you love, Kevin.
Otherwise, you run the risk of being hurt."
"TURN IT OFF NOW!!!!!!!!" The X-Woman screams.
"Rogue?" Cannonball asks in concern, "Rogue?"
"Leave me alone . . . ." she runs upstairs to her
room as she has so often this past week, "JUST LEAVE
"Well done, Sammy," Iceman says sarcastically,
"I'll go talk to her."
"I'm sorry . . . I didn't know . . . ."
You can cut the tension in this house with a razor-blade.
You can feel it around you, hanging over you like a dark spirit.
Like a bitter taste that seeps into the sweetness. Bobby would
say that it's the black fly in our chardonnay. And it's not
only because I'm telepathic that I can pick up on it - everyone
has been on edge. I wish I could calm the tumult of emotions
that rages around me. As is, I'm escaping it. Scott needs
time to recuperate far from the burdens of leadership. He
says that he will do nothing, but I know he will. He's that
kind of man. Especially now that everything seems to be falling
down around our ears. My bags are packed and we're leaving
in a few hours for Alaska. Hopefully, when we return, things
will be better . . .
The tall, african-american looks down incredulously at the
cajun slumped in the snow. He repeats his previous word.
"Bishop. Now dat de introductions are over, c'n ya help
Bishop hauls his team-mate to his feet, "What, in the
name of the Uniorb, are you doing here?"
"Could ask ya de same question. Last time I checked,
Antarctica wasn' de premier spot f'r a vacation."
"The Shi'ar ship that I commandeered from Deathbird
uses an electromagnentic guidance system. It is logical that
it would automatically direct itself to the area of greatest
intensity - the South Pole, in this case."
"Ya sure ya not be Vulcan?"
"Vulcan'?" Bishop looks confused.
Gambit smiles briefly, "Carry on, mon ami."
"The scanner on the ship indicated a life-form nearby,
I hoped it was a base as the ship is running low on fuel.
I found you here instead."
"Now that I have explained why I am here, would you
be so kind as to do the same?"
"I'll tell ya on de way home. It be a long story."
"Do you know where we can get fuel?"
"Don' need any," Gambit flexes a hand, "Shi'ar
drives run on energy produced by a complex chemical reaction.
"You look exhausted. Perhaps you should rest before
we attempt a return flight."
"Oui," He stumbles and Bishop puts out an arm to
steady him, "C'n I rest outta de cold, mon ami?"
"Come on . . . ."
Ah think Ah should win an award from Kleenex foh most
loyal customer th' way Ah've been usin' their tissues. Way
Ah've been cryin', Ah'm surprised Ah have any more tears left.
There has ta be a limit somewhere. Never is one though. Is
this what love is meant to be like? Tears an' pain - no wonder
Ah didn't want any part of it. Damn you, Remy. Comin' along
with your pretty words an' pulling me outta mah fears, just
when they were startin' ta feel right. Makin' me believe that
we had a chance. That Ah could be normal. Could be yours.
That's what it comes right down to in the end . . . Ah fell
in love with you. Foh once in mah life, relationships stopped
bein' a game - stopped bein' somethin' ta win a prize. Love
was th' prize. It was enough. Was. Cause, sugah, seems
like we've spent th' past few years playin' a game o' three-card
monte where we always lose. There can be no winner. There
is no red queen in th' three card set.
"Go way, Bobby."
"Are you all right?"
"Ah'm fine, Can't stand soaps is all. Somethin' bout
all that collagen an' silicone that gives me a headache."
Ah'm lyin' o' course. That soap was too close ta life.
Mah life. One long drama after another - always ends in tragedy.
"Tell me about it. Cannonball's addicted though. He's
now onto Beautiful Savannah Sunset."
"Tell him Ah'm sorry. Just if'n Ah saw that blonde bimbo
clasp her hand ta her heart one more time . . . ."
"Sure. I know how you feel."
Liar. Since when has he left th' love of his life
"Yeah, Ah know you do."
"Rogue . . . do you want to talk about Gambit?"
Mah heart catches in mah throat at th' mention of his
name. Ah don't want ta face up ta what Ah've done any more
than Remy did.
"If you ever want to, you know where to come."
"Sure thing, Aunty Ruth."
"If you sure, you're okay . . . ."
Just fine. Th' tears come again.
"Bobby . . . oh Bobby . . . ." Beast bounds down
the hall, "Why so blue? And coming from me, that's surprising."
"Rogue," his reply is as simple as it is apt, "I
hate to see her so unhappy."
"Then my proposal shall rectify that problem."
"Proposal, Beast? You? And disappoint the entire female
"Ha ha ha. I have recently received a postcard from
an old friend of mine, inviting me on an expedition to South
America to study rare orchids."
"Sounds fascinating," Iceman states sarcastically.
"Doesn't it?" He grins, "I'd like you to come
"Let me think about it . . . ." he is silent for
a few seconds, "I thought about it. No."
"There will be pygmies . . . ."
"Hmmm . . . ."
"And I hear that it's almost carnival time in Rio .
. . ."
"Hmmm . . . ."
"The old friend is a young, attractive woman."
"What are we waiting for? Let's go."
Beast slaps him on the back, "I knew you would see it
Psylocke stretches as she wakes and climbs off the futon
where she has been sleeping. Her head hurts and she reaches
for an aspirin. What did she do last night, she thinks groggily,
certainly she had not drunk anything. Then remembers . . .
. She had fought yet another battle with the dark side growing
within her, the core of pure, corrupt evil in her mind. It
had required considerable psionic skill to eradicate the inclination.
Considerable skill which she would not have dreamed she possessed.
Skill that the other members of her team certainly would not
have thought she commanded.
"Phoenix. Always Phoenix," she whispers, "Always
Jean. The protegee. Jean . . . Jean! Jean! How I hate that
"There are two of us then," an amused voice says
from the other side of the room.
Psylocke spins around, her psionic knife blazing into life,
her headache forgotten.
"Shaw. I thought you were dead."
"I did not think you cared," he leans against the
white wall, "I have a proposition, my dear, which I believe
you will find most attractive."
"I'll hear you out . . . ."
I have been known as many things in my lifetime. A street-rat.
A goddess. Wind rider. X-Man. All titles which I have accepted
gladly, save for the second. There has always been one title
which I have hated and oddly enough long to be called again.
Stormy. It is not the name that matters, Shakespeare was quite
right there, but the man who calls me it. My brother and my
dearest friend. The one whose name is no longer spoken here,
and, when it is, is accompanied by a dreadful pause that says
the unsayable. Remy leBeau. Gambit. Goddess . . . I miss him
so dreadfully and, yet, a part of me rejoices in his suffering.
The part that was the protector of the Morlocks. The part
that still mourns for their deaths. How can I reconcile these
two halves of me? The friend and the foe. Goddess only knows.
Marrow hides in darkness, as she hides from her own ugliness.
She kids herself, pretends that all ugliness is beauty, that
it only serves to make her stronger. She never believes it
in her deepest heart, in the part of that still cries for
her people and remembers their deaths.
"You want ta talk, girl?" A slow southern drawl
asks from the other corner of the room.
"Go away, cornball, before I rip you a whole new flow-through
"Sure. Whatevah. Sound like mah sister when she's been
deprived o' her fix o' Oreos."
"I am nothing like your sister."
"Paige? You two are similar. Both angry at who they
are, where they come from. Both playin' th' biggest game of
fancy-dress o' their lives."
"Life is no game."
"Maybe not," Cannonball grins, "But life ain't
a funeral either. You're only cheatin' yourself if'n you think
"I am the living monument to my people's deaths. I am
the hate they feel. I am their revenge."
"Gee an' there I thought you were just a mutant girl."
"Laugh while you can, farmboy."
"Here," he slides the tray of cookies and cocoa
towards her, "Thought you might be hungry."
She takes it gingerly and slurping noises soon emanate from
her dark corner, followed by crunching.
"Mah pleasure. Dinner's in an hour. Come upstairs."
In the darkness, a single tear drips down Marrow's cheek
and falls into her cocoa.
"The chosen one," Alpha looks at the image of a
man on the screen before him, "My dark slave, my assassin.
The one who will betray them all."
The robot, standing quiescent in the corner, splutters into
"Fenris. Fetch me everything that my other servant had
gleaned before his capture."
"Processing. Which servant is that, Lord?"
"Bastion," Alpha's voice betrays his impatience.
"Retrieving files BST14-ST to OZT56-ZT now."
"Excellent," Alpha's face is lit up by the read-outs
scrolling up the screen, "Excellent. . . ."
To be continued.
1. The black fly in our chardonnay bit is from the Morisette
song - Ironic'
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