Apocalypse's stronghold in Egypt...

{Apocalypse}:  I want him taken alive!

{War}:  If you wish so, Lord Apocalypse.

      Magneto watches as Apocalypse's face disappears and static fills
the monitor which displayed him.  He calculates his next move

{Magneto}:  Deathbird, back me up!

      A bubble of electro-magnetic energy appears around Magneto and
he flies down into the arena.

{War}:  If you don't wish to be harmed, willingly submit to

{Magneto}:  I'm afraid not, Exodus.  It seems you follow him as
blindly as you followed me.

{War}:  Your cause is as weak as Xavier's!  Apocalypse will--

      Deathbird dives out of the hole in the wall created by Magneto
and aerodynamically darts around, getting the Horsemen's attention.

{Magneto}:  Taking your eyes off the fight is not a good idea.

      Magneto magnetically gathers up the wreckage of one of the
Horsemen's sky carts and drops it down on them.  Famine and War get
out of the way in time, Pestilence and Death do not.

{Famine}:  They'll live.

{Deathbird}:  You won't!

      Deathbird glides a mere nine feet above the ground and sprays
many needle-like spines down on War and Famine.  The spiny objects are
but an annoyance to them.  Magneto; however, was not.

{Magneto}:  You both fight poorly!  I can easily slaughter you if I

      Magneto blasts Famine into the wall with a magnetic bolt.  War
downs him with a psycho-kinetic blast as he's doing so.  Deathbird
then forms a fist with her right hand and presses a button on top of
it, releasing a laser-thin beam at War.  He drops to his knees.

{Death}:  All that debris was supposed to hurt us?

{Pestilence}:  They are indeed fools.

      Death fires a nuclear blast which Deathbird barely maneuvers out
of.  She then flies into him fists-first.  Death stumbles back a
little and Deathbird flies up above him.

{Death}:  Ha ha!  This is sad!

{Magneto}:  Uhhh... did I say we were finished?  We're still-- eh?
The ground is cracking beneath me?

{Pestilence}:  That is probably because it's made of ice.  Very thin
ice.  Melting ice.

      Magneto flies up a few feet to avoid falling through the ice.

{Magneto}:  Simple solution, see?  Now I'll solve the problem that is
you as well.

      Magneto grabs everything in the room that is magnetic with his
powers and throws it about the arena as if it were shrapnel.

{Famine}:  A tornado of metal!  I love it!  <OOOFF!!!>

{Death}:  I've had enough.

      Death blasts Deathbird from behind full force knocking her out

{Deathbird}:  UHHHH!

{Magneto}:  Damn...

      The ice begins falling apart under his assault.  A large hole
appears off to the side which only gets larger.  Magneto was too
distracted to notice War behind him.  He tries to move away, but War
already has him in a telekinetic hold.

{Famine}:  That's it, War!  Keep him just like that!

      The paralyzed Magneto can do nothing to dodge Famine's depletion
beam which drains his body of essential nutrients.  War drops him and
Magneto's frail body can't even crack the ice.  He quivers, totally

{Pestilence}:  I can make this even worse for you.

      Magneto is infected by some plague by Pestilence.  He is nothing
more than a sick old man right now.

{Magneto}:  Uhhhh... no.... don't...

{Death}:  I slayed the entire population of Tokyo, and I will have no
problem harming a defenseless old man.

      Death turns his nuclear blast on Magneto, nearly killing him.

{Death}:  Apocalypse didn't specify what condition he wanted Mgneto

{Famine}:  This is true.

      Elsewhere in the complex...

{Bishop}:  I'm sure it's down here.  How are you holding up?

{Aurora}:  I- I'll be fine.

      The hall which Bishop and Aurora are moving through is actually
quite small compared to the rest of the compound.  It has so many
winding twists and turns that it's almost maze-like.  The sight at the
end of the hall is enough to overwhelm Bishop.

{Bishop}:  My God... The entire room... huge!  What do you suppose
those pods are over there?

{Aurora}:  Sir, your mouth's open.

{Bishop}:  Is that-- it is!  Cannonball, Joseph, Cable, all of them
are in those pods!  We've got to free them.

{Apocalypse}:  That simply won't do.

{Bishop}:  You!  What have you done to them?

{Apocalypse}:  I _have_ placed them in suspended animation.  I'm
_going_ to get rid of them now.

{Bishop}:  No, you won't.

{Apocalypse}:  The others lost.  It is only fair.  They had a chance.

{Bishop}:  They still do.

{Apocalypse}:  You!?!  Aha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!  Are you going to laugh me
to death?

{Bishop}:  Nope.  But that will do.

      One minute, Apocalypse was standing still, about three feet in
front of Bishop.  The next, he's lunging forward, pinning Bishop to
the wall by his neck.

{Bishop}:  <GLK!>  (Thinking) His speed is amazing!  I never dreamed
he could move like that.

      Still holding his neck, Apocalypse lifts Bishop off his feet.
Bishop grunts and kicks, trying futility to free himself.

{Apocalypse}:  Where's all that bravado now, eh?  Leave it three feet
below you?

      Bishop always has a plan.  While doing all that kicking,
Apocalypse failed to notice Bishop pull a small energy weapon from a
poutch on his ankle.  He quickly cocks it and blasts directly in
Apocalypse's face.

{Apocalypse}:  ARRRGGGHHH!!!

      Stunned, Apocalypse drops Bishop who takes the oppurtunity to
run.  Apocalypse wipes the top of his hand across his face, smoke
streaming off of it.

{Bishop}:  Aurora, what's wrong with you, girl?  Why are you cowering
on the floor?

{Aurora}:  No!  Stay away!  All of you stay away!  Why does there
always have to be fighting?  Why?  Why--

{Bishop}:  Nuke it, I don't have time for this crap!  <VLMP!> <VLMP!>

      The two shots don't appear to have any effect on Apocalypse at
all.  They just explode and bounce off of his armor-plated chest.

{Apocalypse}:  Give it up now.  You can do nothing to slow me down.

      Bishop cocks the small weapon again, and points it at
Apocalypse.  No good, right?  But Bishop always has a plan.  Just as
he's firing, he turns around and blasts the pod containing Joseph.
The first shot cracks the glass a bit, the second makes bigger cracks.
The third blast blows a hole in the glass causing it to completely
fall apart.  Joseph's body slides out, along with a ton of water.

{Bishop}:  You see?  I'll never give up.  I'll always find some way to
fight you.

      Bishop runs over to check on Joseph.  He has a steady pulse and
rolls over.

{Joseph}:  Is-- is this a hangover?

{Bishop}:  No, you were captured by Apocalypse along with the others
and I'm here to save you.

{Joseph}:  Right.  I remember now.  What are you doing here?

{Bishop}:  We have no time to discuss it at the moment.

{Joseph}:  Free the others!  I'll hold off Apocalypse.

{Apocalypse}:  Of course you will.

{Bishop}:  No!  This weapon is only good for six shots, and I've used
them all.  You free the others, I'll hold off Apocalypse.

{Joseph}:  You don't stand a chance!

{Bishop}:  Yes I do.  Move it!

      Bishop lures Apocalypse away from Joseph and pulls the trigger
on his weapon.  He holds it down and slides back a panel on the top of
it, revealing an energy bar reading.  Once it's full, he hurls the
weapon and Apocalypse.  It explodes upon impact.

{Apocalypse}:  Uhhh...

{Bishop}:  Nifty little two-in-one weapon, don't you think?

{Apocalypse}:  You realize that you're going to die?

{Bishop}:  I don't fear death.

{Apocalypse}:  Very well.  <BRRVVVVKKK!!!!>

      Apocalypse blasts Bishop full force with both wrist gauntlets.
Bishop falls off his feet and is carried into the wall.  Apocalypse
doesn't intend to let up.  Meanwhile,  Joseph is staggering to his

{Bishop}:  You... still... havn't... beaten... me... yet... RAGGHH!

      Bishop's eyes first light up and then his hands as he throws all
of Apocalypse's power right back at him in one concentrated blast.  A
blast which strikes Apocalypse in the chest and explodes everywhere.

{Apocalypse}:  ARRRGGHHH!!!!

      A smoldering burn mark is left as well as melted, dripping
fused-together flesh and cybernetics.

{Apocalypse}:  You... have hurt... me.  I didn't... think that...

      Most of the major damage is repaired by Apocalypse's
cell-shifting powers soon enough.  Joseph is back on his feet now and
apparently completely recovered.

{Joseph}:  Bishop, are you okay?

      Joseph can see Apocalypse punching Bishop in the stomach and
again in the face out of the corner of his eye.

{Joseph}:  It's time to act now.

{Apocalypse}:  I leave you with the Hounds.

{Bishop}:  You are a coward!

{Apocalypse}:  I should kill you here and now for that comment.  And
rest assured, I will.  I have other things to attend to at the moment.
True, I enjoy being the manipulator, rather than the manipulatee.
Still, that does not make me a coward.  And here is a group of my

      Apocalypse de-materializes and the Hounds materialize in his
place.  Apocalypse's final words ring throughout the chamber:

{Apocalypse}:  Do what you want with Bishop and the others, but I want
Joseph taken alive!

{Joseph}:  This is a problem.

      That's the conclusion  to this week's installment!  Hate to do
this to you, but I'll be taking a break from the story for a while.
(Even fan-fic writers need vacation time!)  Look for part 17 of X-Men:
Come the Apocalypse on either January 7 or January 14 (1998!)  Bet on
January 7.  Happy Hanukkah, merry Christmas, happy New Year, and all
that other stuff!  I'll be here on A.C.F.F. in January.