"Deceiver! Did you think you would leave without me noticing? Did you think you could break your bond to me so easily?"
Magneto winced at Storm's words as she approached him. His body tensed. His face hardened. He refused to meet her piercing gaze. Instead, he chose to stare at the grounded asteroid that loomed above them. Lights flickered inside the gutted vessel like falling stars as Acolytes scuttled back and forth to make preparations for the upcoming voyage. He sighed with sad approval. The monolith contained his destiny. Magneto caressed the hull with delicate hands. It hummed underneath his touch, as Storm had done mere nights before. He dropped his eyes to the dry sands below.
Fury glittered like distant mirages in Storm's eyes. She whipped her white cloak around her and clutched his sleeve, yanking him towards her. "Is this how you repay my kindness? I used sandstorms to shelter you from Shield's probing eyes. I welcomed you into my kingdom, my heart--my bed! Whatever was mine was yours! We were to rule this land as one, you and I…Morlocks and Acolytes as one race with one destiny! Instead you leave me, a hated wretch, surrounded by bigoted enemies who cannot wait to tear my empire to ruins! Is your hate for me that strong, my husband? You would do this to me?"
His love for her blazed behind his steely expression, like a lamp conceals an ignited flame. He swallowed hard, regret sizzling in his throat as tears sprang to his eyes. "We had no marriage, Ororo." He tore himself from her grip, even as his body yearned for her. "We shared several nights of passion, nothing more. Though you have given me the sweetest of memories, I cannot make any promises to you of our future. The future of the Acolytes lies within the stars. I do for my people no less than what you have done for yours. I promised them a land of freedom, and so I shall give them one."
Storm's voice cracked with anguish. "And you cannot find that here?"
"No. This is not the land of the Acolytes. So Yahweh has decreed and so I shall follow. He himself sent an angel to me this morning to issue his commands. He himself has told me that my people must hover above this hateful sphere, far from the wickedness of Earth. Am I to deny the words of my Lord? Am I to deny my people their rightful place in the stars? I cannot do that. You will not leave your land, and I cannot stay. I would sacrifice all that is mine to stay with you, but my life is not mine. It belongs to the Acolytes and to Yahweh."
Storm glared at him. Sand raced through the air like locusts as a tempest raged around her lithe frame. Her attendants watched her cautiously. "You are a foolish old man who devotes his heart to a god that does not exist. Angel? That angel was merely an illusion sparked by your toiling in the desert heat! You are not the first to have such so-called 'visions'! They have happened to Morlock and Acolyte alike." The sandstorm ceased. She turned from him. "But if you wish so much to sever your pledge to me, then go. Cling to your false prophecy. And when Shield ravages your realm with bombs that sear and burn the very air you breathe, when the atmosphere eats at your children like a ravenous beast, when you beg with your dying breath for a cool breeze to comfort you--think of me."
She left him to tend to his vision.
Classical melodies and champagne helped her endure his departure. The music washed through her like ocean waves. Storm raised her arms into the air and let the wind rush from her hands to move and sculpt the desert sands as the moon shapes the tide. She narrowed her eyes. Her smooth and youthful lids covered orbs as blue and as old as Mediterranean seas.
"Mistress?" A young girl stepped up behind Storm, her head bowed in reverence. Her skittish eyes roamed the desert as she clung to the balcony railing.
Tears welled up in Storm's eyes. "He is gone?"
Storm tore the cloak from her body and let it fall to the floor. "I suppose I should no longer wear white since I am neither a bride nor an innocent, no?" She smiled at the young girl. "I want you to gather all that Magnus has left in my chamber and set a pyre where the asteroid once stood. We shall have a proper burial for Magneto, since he is now dead to me."
The young girl bowed her head and left the balcony.
Storm watched the Morlocks as they worked, stripping the furniture in her chamber to make kindling for the pyre. They were used to her monitoring their progress. Her austere gaze provided validation of their work. It was the lifelessness in her eyes that now frightened them--the lack of hope.
When they were finished, Storm padded barefoot across the scorching deserts sands. She circled the pyre, fingering the mementos Magneto had left for her. "Goddess," she whispered, "if this servant has ever brought you joy, has ever tended to your desires, please grant her one request." Storm scanned the skies and saw the unusual crackle of lightning in the heavens. She climbed on top of the pyre. "May my people, X-Man and Morlock alike, rise up for generations to come, to destroy all that Magneto holds dear…just as he has destroyed me. Grant him his kingdom, only to see it torn from the heavens in fury and retribution." She glanced at the skies again. Dark clouds roamed above her. Storm bowed her head in contentment. "I am ready."
The snap of lightning ignited the pyre; flames consumed Storm's body in seconds. Her flesh crackled and cooked in the night air. She jerked violently like a wounded beast until her soul finally slipped from her body. She was at peace.
The telepaths came first, hearing her death-screams in the chamber of their minds. They wrung their hands and howled at the heavens, cursing Magneto for robbing them of their Bright One. The clamors rang throughout the city. Women shrieked wildly and shrouded themselves in black. Men answered the call to arms for vengeance against Magneto. And all the while, the ashes from Storm's body and Magneto's cloak blew across the desert sands.