Rogue wakes slowly to find herself strapped to a gurney in
the middle of an extensive, sophisticated laboratory. By squinting
against the glare of the operating room lights, she can make
out the dark, skeletal frame of equipment looming over her.
It brings to mind the image of a gleaming spider. From the
main casing, what can only be described as metallic tentacles
branch down across her body. She can feel the one wrapped
around her right bicep and forearm taking her blood pressure.
She watches, momentarily fascinated, as the one on her left
takes a blood sample.
She makes a quick evaluation of her situation. So far, the
machine seems to be limited to assessing her physical condition.
Adamantium clamps her body at different points--neck, arms,
wrists, beneath her breast, thighs and ankles. By turning
her head, she can see Storm and Eric confined to far wall.
She's relieved that they seem battered and bruised, but none
the worse for their capture. She sees Eric's face turned toward
Ororo's, catches his low whisper but can't make out distinct
words. Ororo's eyes momentarily meet hers before she turns
to hurriedly whisper something back to Eric.
"Rogue has awakened. Have you made any progress?"
Eric's brow furrows as he concentrates.
"The collar appears to affect my powers only above a
specific threshold. I believe I may be able to generate a
low-energy magnetic pulse."
"Bright Lady be praised, we may yet be free."
"Ororo, I may not be capable of sustaining the pulse."
"You should not need to, my friend. Can you vary the
"I will try."
Rogue squirms uncomfortably, testing the strength of the
adamantium. She exhales sharply, frustrated. She take a moment
to rest, letting her eyes wander around the lab. Her blood
turns cold when she notices a detailed set of Mendel charts.
Across the top are written the names of several X-men. Down
the side, is a single name repeated on each line: Remy Etienne
LeBeau. In each square where the lines intersect, are carefully
detailed notes of projected results from the combination of
DNAs. She's even more startled to see additional charts similar
to the first, except that the second chart adds the name of
Scott Summers to Remy's. The third chart adds her name to
She's distracted by the movement of the tentacles adjusting
her body on the gurney. Just as she wonders why her legs seem
to be positioned far apart and raised, another tentacle lowers
and answers her question. She feels the cold metal slide across
her stomach and thighs before it moves to probe her more intimately.
She lets out a gasp of surprise. A throaty chuckle answers
her cry of discomfort as Sinister steps into her line of sight.
Her shock boils over into anger.
"Ya lousy sonofa--is this you're way o' gettin' your
Sinister's placid expression doesn't change as he studies
the various test results flickering across the machine's display.
"I am merely evaluating your present condition."
"You are with child."
As one, Ororo and Eric glance up sharply at Sinister's matter-of-fact
revelation. The impossibility of what he suggests strikes
a sarcastic chord in Rogue, and she answers him with a sharp
"That would take some doin', sugah."
This time, his thin lips curl in a bemused smile.
"I assure you, it did."
Five words that leave her stunned.
Rogue struggles to sort out a whirlwind of emotions running
through her. She's torn between a surge of joy that she's
carrying Remy's child and the leaden dread that her pregnancy
has been engineered by Sinister for an unknown purpose. Her
heart sinks further when she realizes that the life growing
within may have been harmed by Hank's experimental cancer
Sinister turns from her to tap several commands into a waiting
keyboard. Doors on either end of the room slide shut. Electronic
humming comes to life from all corners of the room. Rogue
feels buzz of energy slide quickly across her skin and sees
the same blue light flash across Eric and Storm.
"What are ya doin'?"
"Sterilizing the room for surgery."
"Is somethin' wrong with the baby?"
"I sincerely hope not."
"I have no intention of wasting nine months when I can
acquire the relevant genetic breakdowns now."
Rogue's eyes flash with emerald fire, but Sinister continues
before she can put her fury into words.
"There is no child, there is only living tissue,
no larger than your fingernail, waiting to be redirected to
its full genetic potential."
"Over mah dead body."
Sinister's chill smile adds to the deathly aura of his bloodless
"Au contraire, my dear, permitting you to expire before
I have relieved you of the embryo which you have so considerately
incubated would defeat your usefulness."
"Sinister, release me!"
Ororo's command serves to draw Sinister's attention away
from Rogue. Eric glances over at Storm, curious as to what
she intends. Sinister strides to Ororo's side.
"You will have less difficulty if Rogue has the comfort
of a friend by her side."
"My concern is for the progress of my work."
Eric picks up on Ororo's lead.
"Even one such as you must realize that undue stress
on Rogue may traumatize the fetus."
As Sinister appears to consider the request, Storm again
commands his attention.
"I am quite capable of assuming the role of anesthesian."
"A noble gesture, but quite unnecessary. Anesthesia
leaves traces of pollutants which are quite unacceptable to
the level of purity required for my studies. I have increased
the percentages of obtaining usable tissue threefold since
my specimens are no longer subjected to the stress of anesthesia."
Over Sinister's shoulder, Storm catches the unmistakable
expression on Rogue's face as his words sink in.
"...oh mah lord..."
As Sinister sets up a surgical tray, Rogue considers her
alternatives. She still has enough strength to do some serious
damage. The real problem is that she's flat on her back in
a position that offers very little in the way of leverage.
Still, as Wolverine always taught her, she makes the best
of a situation that isn't likely to get any better.
As Sinister adjusts the clamp on her right leg, Rogue tenses
her muscles, then lets loose, sending her heel cracking against
his windpipe. One hand flies to his throat while the other
digs painfully into her ankle, forcing it with a final twist
back into the adamantium. He dresses in surgical scrubs, keeping
a close eye on Rogue all the while as she strains against
"One moment--is Sinister--?"
Storm's eyes turn cold.
"He is preoccupied with Rogue, you may continue your
"Ah, yes, I have it! I--damn!"
"Perhaps if you concentrate on one area of the collar?"
"There does appear to be a weak spot--there--this may
take some time."
"I fear Rogue does not have much time."
Eric glances up, a flush of anger colors his face as he sees
Sinister's scalpel dart across Rogue's skin, hears her sharp
intake of breath in response to the cut. His eyes are drawn
to the streaks of blood on Rogue's wrist and throat. Her skin
as been rubbed raw from straining against the adamantium manacles
holding her. She bites down on her lip, drawing blood as Sinister
continues his pursuit of "science".
Continued in Chapter
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