Disclaimer: Marvel own everything.
Author's Notes: This is the penultimate part. I figure if I finish 1 out of 4 stories I start, that's good going, so I'm determined to see this one through. I have another part for the Bobby and John thing as well but I read it again and it's rubbish so that's dead now. Ah well, c'est la vie. I hope you like this anyway or at least can agree that it's not total rubbish. Keep it frosty, Cheers.
It was strange but there was something about this room he found very comforting, almost like a metallic womb. The chrome metal plates that encased it reflected his tired face back at his a thousand times, each a different angle, each telling a different story.
Of all the rooms in this place that he had made his home, this one had been the most lovingly crafted. Painstaking hours had been spent getting everything not just right, but perfect. However, now he didn't have time to reflect on the past but only on the present, for it seemed that the man with whom he had constructed this very room had come out of hiding for some very dire purpose indeed.
Kitty had returned to the academy screaming and crying. It had taken Jean quite a while to get her calm enough even to speak, and when she finally spoke, the calmness with which she related belied the terror that she felt. He had looked into her eyes and he saw the light that once shine brightly in them was now diminished, washed away with fear.
Once Scott heard the news he immediately launched into action. Logan and Ororo were sent back to the park to look for any trace or sign of Magneto's henchmen but everyone knew that it was unlikely they would find anything of any great value. He and Remy went and prepped the Blackbird knowing that they would no doubt need it.
It wasn't long until Logan and Ororo reported back what they all suspected, that they would find nothing. Logan with that nose of his, however confirmed that Sabretooth had been there, his voice barely restrained over the intercom.
"His stench is everywhere, same with the blue bitch."
Knowing that the scent there was cold, Xavier knew immediately what he needed to do and so he found himself in Cerebro once again, a mutant's fate resting on his shoulders. He waited patiently as the machine went through its start up sequence, the short time now seeming like an eternity to him. Finally the ornate headpiece descended and he felt that cold familiar calm descend over him. He reached out past the metallic walls, past the grounds of the academy, further out still.
Distance and time became immaterial, as he found himself in the park with Ororo and Logan, their mutant energy patterns drawing him there instinctively. He ignored them and tried to focus on something else, something else familiar. He knew there was little point trying to focus on Eric, who would use his knowledge of Cerebro's inner workings to cloak himself from it.
He had thought of seeking for Kurt himself but he maybe unconscious and so that would be a waste of time. No, he needed a different mind to track.
He remembered back to when they first encountered Logan and he felt himself twist and turn around Logan, all others blocked out. He thought of Marie next, who had been with Logan, and suddenly Logan disappeared as his mind reached out, searching for Marie's thoughts. He knew that she wasn't the key either. No, the key was the mutant that united Logan, Marie and his X-Men. He needed to find Sabretooth.
His mind raced high above the city until it lay out in front of him like some dark carpet. He thought then of Sabretooth, a being almost the reverse of himself, a creature more attuned to his instincts then to logical thought. He began to move down into the city, buildings now becoming distinct. Sabretooth would be feeling energised now, so soon after hunting Kitty, and he tuned himself to this, the thrill of the hunt.
He found himself now in an industrial district and he knew he was close. A web of warehouses spread out before him. He needed more before breaking his bond with the machine. Where Sabretooth was, there was no doubt that there would be others. He let him mind scan broadly and he found himself drawn closer again, his mind coming to rest over a small number of medium size warehouses. They looked unused with no people around. The only sign of life was a black van sitting idle outside one. That's was where they were.
Suddenly his passive scanning was overwhelmed, as a scream seemed to reach out and tried to crush him. It was a scream of pure primal pain. He knew instantly that it was Kurt and it was clearly evident that they were torturing him, aiming to prolong his pain. Though he could not focus on him, he could tell his energy was severely diminished. He was dying.
He quickly cleared his mind and began the disconnection procedure. The moment it finished, he clicked a button on the console.
"Scott, I know where they are."
"We're ready here Professor," Scott answered immediately, his voice betraying his eagerness to be underway.
The Professor told him the location, which he would in turn relay to Logan and Ororo. He also told him how time was against him.
Toad read the display carefully. The energy spike was already beginning to diminish under his gaze.
"He's just finished his scan. You better tell her."
Sabretooth looked down at the smaller man, who had turned his attention back to the equipment, already beginning to dismantle it. Sabretooth made his way to the door where they had heard the boy scream on and off now for the past ten minutes. Mystique had told Toad and Sabretooth that she didn't wish to be disturbed until they were sure that Xavier had determined their location.
Magneto, who had intimate knowledge of how Xavier's scanning machinery worked, had, some time in the past, constructed a device that monitored subtle changes in the academy that indicated when a scan was taking place. He had boastingly called it an early warning device against potential intrusion by Xavier's inquiring mind. It served its purpose here for a different goal.
Sabretooth thought about barging straight in but even the animal knew better then that. He growled at the thin metal in front of him.
The door almost immediately slid open and she emerged, pristine blue, a crimson covered blade in her hand. She didn't even look at him as she spoke, her eyes focused on some point in the distance.
"Ravage the body. Make it messy."
"He's already dead?"
She looked at him, her eyes focusing on him like he was a complete stranger.
"You have your instructions. Move quickly, they'll be here soon."
He knew better then to question her, especially with that far away look in her eyes. She turned away from him and walked back to the room where Toad was.
He made his way into the main part of the warehouse, where the boy had been held. The stench of blood assaulted his senses even from here. He made his way over slowly, the animal in him commanding that he approach the prey carefully. The boy's body was slumped in the chair, his dark fur darker now with the blood that flowed down it. He head hung loosely forward. He was dead or unconscious, but either way he was never waking up.
Sabretooth stood for a moment and tried to count the number of incisions and cuts that Mystique had made on the boy but gave up. He noticed one of the boy's fingers on the floor, resembling a little white island surrounded by a sea of red. She had made the boy suffer inhuman pain.
She had insisted that she be allowed to handle him alone, and the others had agreed though Sabretooth had wanted to play with him for a while. He would just have to make do with the cadaver and with that he growled and swung a claw in a vicious arch.
Mystique watched Toad as he finished packing the gear.
"All ready," he chirped, nervous under her unwavering gaze.
"Where's Harry of the Hendersons?"
She said nothing, just continued leaning against the door.
Her silence still off-putting, Toad continued. "I've primed the van to go and most of the warehouse is rigged. It's going to make a mighty big boom."
She didn't even acknowledge this, her thoughts on the snarls she could hear behind her. Toad noticed a slight shudder but said nothing.
"I'm going down now. I don't want to be hear when this place goes up."
Mystique nodded and reached over and took a bag, some gear of her own, Toad noted.
"Take Sabretooth and wait for my signal. Magneto shall be joining us soon and we must make sure everything is ready."
Toad nodded but inside his stomach turned ever so slightly. Something had changed in her in the past couple of months. She'd always been nasty, no question of that but now she was something else altogether.
"What are you waiting for?" She interrupted him.
"Sorry, just getting the route clear in my head. Don't want to get lost down there in the dark."
She frowned for a moment, not amused, before leaving Toad to get Sabretooth.
Toad met Sabretooth halfway.
Sabretooth nodded as he wiped his claws on his jacket, leaving lines of red trail down along the leather.
"We better make turtle tracks. Cruella's making her own way out."
Toad noted that Sabretooth frowned at this. He didn't like this either. Whatever they thought, there was no time to worry about that.
Aboard the Blackbird, Scott checked all the instruments, not for the first time.
"ETA three minutes. You ready." Scott said, not looking back at the other two.
"Remy was born ready." Remy said, though his voice was a little on edge.
Jean didn't answer, she was too busy checking to make sure she had everything in her medical bag. Xavier had warned them that Kurt was injured. Severely injured.
Scott flicked a switch, connecting them to Ororo's SUV.
"We're three minutes away. What's your ETA?"
"Four, maybe five minutes," she answered, her voice on edge.
"We'll hold on the parameter for you. We go in together."
He killed the com link and concentrated on getting every last ounce of thrust out of their transport.
The incessant beeping summoned him to the console. He clicked the button and regarded the screen. His oldest friend's and greatest opponents face looked back at him. Wearing that helmet of his, his features seemed slightly exaggerated. The fact that Eric wore it at all, showed how much fate he had in Charles.
"Eric, what have you done?" Charles asked, traces of anger in his voice.
"Listen to me carefully," Eric replied, his voice calm, as a line of static made its way down the screen.
"Mystique has..." He hesitated, looking down off screen as if seemingly weighing something up in his own mind. His features darkened.
"Mystique has booby-trapped the warehouse, the van too. Warn your people."
"Why are you telling me this?"
His features became angry.
"Does it matter why? Just save your own."
Charles read him as best he could, the quality of the transmission made even seeing him clearly difficult.
"This is not your plan is it?"
"No...it isn't. Very astute of you."
There was a slight hint of annoyance in this, but it vanished as quickly as it appeared as he continued.
"We need to meet, as soon as possible. She has...well let's just say, that it's a problem that is more suited to your talents then to mine."
"The old house in the Bronx?"
"I'll leave immediately."
"I'll see you soon, old friend."
The connection was severed. So Eric was not behind this. Somewhere in his soul, Charles was thankful for this, still clinging to the hope that Eric could be saved. He let this thought go for the time being as he contacted Scott.
Scott acknowledged the details silently, before killing the communication with a simple "Understood."
Charles stopped before doing anything else. Perhaps he was being a little hasty in rushing off to meet Eric like this. But he's warning was made in good faith and he had seemed anxious. However, leaving his students at what was a precarious moment was not just unwise but dangerous. Perhaps Eric had felt the same in going behind his "brother's" back by contacting him.
No. If Eric had gone to the trouble of contacting him then it was with good reason. He left the sanctity of the control room and made his way into the academy. He could hear a number of the students comforting Kitty who was only just barely holding it together. Jean was doing her best also. She looked up briefly, her expression pained, as Charles entered the room. He said nothing as he watched for a moment.
He looked to the back of the room where some of the older students talked amongst themselves, unsure of what to say to comfort Kitty.
Charles looked at them before nodding at one of them, indicating to him to come over.
"John, you've got your licence?"
"Yes, Professor." John answered, his voice reverential.
"Good, come with me."
John fell into step behind Charles as he left the room as silently as he came.
"Sloppy." Logan said as he regarded the wire carefully.
"Remy agree, real sloppy." Remy said as he followed the length of wire carefully. It wasn't even live meaning there was no pulse going through it. It was a simple tripwire. Once a contact was broken due to the wire being stretched beyond a certain point, boom. But other then that it was simple to disarm. He removed small pliers from the depths of his jacket and got Logan to hold the wire tight at one point.
"When Remy cut, you make sure nothing goes slack."
"Hold up." Scott advised from behind the two. "Let Storm finish her sweep."
They waited impatiently. Standing around was not one of their preferred modes of insertion.
Scott put his hand to his ear as Ororo's voice told him what he needed to know.
He made a scissors motion with his fingers and Remy nodded, eager to get started.
He delicately made the cut and Logan held tight to the two separate ends of the wire.
Remy opened the door quietly and slipped inside as Logan stretched to hold the two ends. Remy quickly went to the contacts and jammed a piece of metal into them to keep the wire in place. Once done, he gave a little whistle to signal Logan, who dropped the wire immediately.
He snapped out his claws and made his way in, the stink of the brotherhood heavy in the air. He could also get the blood but he pushed that away as he concentrated. Scott came in next, leaving Storm outside, as her elemental powers would be as dangerous to them as to any opponents in an enclosed space.
Remy crept forward, staying in the shadows, with a more brazen Logan striding forward, daring anyone to show themselves drawing any potential fire that he knew Scott, who followed behind, could retaliate to.
Remy looked over at Logan.
"They long gone. Remy guess they go down," he said as he pointed at a sewer access.
Logan nodded, frustrated that yet again, they had moved on before he had gotten to them. Scott spoke from behind.
"Fan out. We'll make sure anyway."
The other two nodded as they split to explore two avenues. Remy made his way further in as Scott followed Logan to check out the sewer entrance.
"No doubt 'bout Summers, they went into the shit." Logan almost whispered.
"Logan, Scott. I think...I think you should see this." Remy's voice broke the eerie silence.
The two ran to the Cajun, who was bending over, trying to stop from being sick.
"Oh my god, they gutted him." Scott said, his face echoing the sickness that Remy felt.
Still strapped securely to the chair, they looked at what remained of Kurt's ravaged body.
"Wait for me here." Charles said as the van ramp lowered.
John nodded, looking around, already trying to familiarise himself with these new surroundings. Apparently satisfied, Charles made his own way down the street, taking a turn out of John's field of view.
It had been agreed a long time ago, when they had still been on the same side that it would be convenient to have a number of safe houses that only they would know about. This one was one such place.
The path to the garage, which was underground, was all flat pavestone. He couldn't sense anyone inside but he knew Eric was already there, as all the settled dirt had recently been moved. He took a little black box from his pocket and pressed the single button, causing the garage door to open.
The garage was large, able to comfortably house two or three cars. Another thing they had agreed on when choosing potential safe houses. No lights were on, but he could instantly pick Eric out in the darkness, a black shape, somehow blacker then the surroundings.
"I'm glad you came." Eric's voice called over to him.
"It sounded urgent." Charles said as he pressed the button to close the door behind him. The loud chain mechanism caused them both to stop talking until it finished.
Eric lit a solitary bulb in the garage to cast some illumination.
"You have no idea how foolish you look." Charles almost laughed as he regarded Eric, who was wearing a perfectly decent suit but had topped it off with that helmet of his.
"I'm sorry if this offends you," Eric said as he walked past Charles to check that the door was securely closed, "but discretion is still the better part of valour."
"To meet like this and still not trust me is what offends me, Eric."
"How else could we meet? Perhaps in a plastic prison again?" Eric asked from behind him, leaning against the door, his voice rising slightly.
Charles didn't turn to face Eric, but just concentrated on the light.
"Please Eric, this is not why I'm here. You said that Mystique had, well you were unclear on the matter, really."
Eric seemed to ignore him and continued on his own rant.
"Did you enjoy visiting hour, I wonder?" Eric moved closer now as he spoke, the anger in his voice growing. "Did you have that smug look upon your face every time the guard wheeled you in?"
Charles turned to face Eric, concerned now.
"I bet you did. You were always so smug, so superior."
Charles tried to interrupt, but Eric just continued getting closer and closer.
"Since the first moment I heard the name Charles Xavier, I've hated it. I've hated you."
And with that he shot out a leg that caught Xavier just below the chin, square in the throat and knocked him out of his chair. Xavier landed heavily, fighting for breath before looking back at Eric who looked down at him with hate filled eyes.
"It galls me to know that you will not suffer the way my own son suffered."
And suddenly Charles knew that he was not facing Eric Lensherr.
"You were right that it was not his plan. I thought then, that you knew it was me that I had been uncovered, but no, your smug arrogance got in the way. No, he would never permit a move against you. He believes that you are what he must be measured against. He is wrong."
"For him to be strong, and we need him to be strong for all of us; there can be no Charles Xavier to cast his shadow over him. There can be no Charles Xavier to hold him back. There can only be Magneto."
With her eyes their natural yellow, she applied pressure to his neck, slowly crushing the life out of him. He struggled with his hands but she was too strong, and the struggle only made her push harder. She looked into his eyes as she spoke, watching them slowly gloss over.
"It's strange that for all the time I spend around him, I still can't play him properly. And for all his talk about you, I didn't know what to say to you. I had to restrain myself from spitting at you on the screen. But I knew I'd get my time with you."
She heard a snap but she still wasn't satisfied and maintained the pressure.
"It's important that you know before you die that I'm going to kill all of your precious students. It would be folly to let those who could seek vengeance live. I'm going to become you now and enter your home where I will wreck vengeance for all those you might have saved had you not stood by. I will wreck my vengeance for what you did to my son."
His body became limp under her foot but she still kept pressing down. After a minute she finally stepped back before reaching down to take his head in her arms and twist it roughly.
"This time, you will not come back from the coma." She finally spat.
John pressed the button to lower the ramp as he saw the Professor return.
"All done Professor?"
"Yes. All done. Take me home."
To be continued...