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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

Faith and Dreams - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 04/26/2007 02:10:47 AM

Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Logan tensed as a crack appeared in the wall of his cell. It swelled rapidly as the previously invisible door slid aside. He was thoroughly surprised to see Rogue framed in the doorway and oddly enough, she seemed just as surprised to see him. Her gaze flicked across him, taking stock, and Wolverine noted with extreme interest that her eyes were no longer green, but red and black instead. Her nostrils flared in an expression of mild alarm as she noted the condition of his claws, and then she raised her gaze to his.

"Nice work on the door," Logan told her.

She shrugged and stepped aside as he moved out into the corridor with her. "T’anks."

They went to the next door in line beyond Logan’s, and Rogue immediately went to work on the small control panel that sat flush against the wall. Logan scanned the corridor, but saw no signs of guards or even monitoring equipment. His nose told him that their powers were probably still suppressed and considering that Rogue was rewiring the lock rather than just ripping the door out of its frame, he had no reason to doubt that conclusion.

"What happened t’ y’ claws?" Rogue asked him as she worked.

Logan resisted the urge to look down at his hands. His claws were extended and each had been cut off approximately one inch past the knuckle. He knew from experience that they would grow back, but for now they were useless.

"Doesn’t matter, darlin’. Just get the door open."

Rogue paused in what she was doing and looked over at him. Her expression quirked wryly. "I don’ t’ink I’m y’ type, Wolverine."

A number of details clicked together in Logan’s mind and his gaze narrowed. He’d already concluded that Rogue must have drawn on the memories she’d absorbed from Gambit in order to escape her cell. Between the eyes and the accent, he could hardly have concluded anything else. Now, however, he was beginning to suspect that that was all that had happened.


Rogue’s lips curled in a cynical smile. "Oui." The strange eyes lingered on Logan a moment more before returning to the disassembled lock. "So, am I dead o’ what?"

It took Logan a moment to absorb the situation, but then he shook his head. "No, yer fine." He watched as the other’s elegant fingers poked through the tangle of wires. "Where’s Rogue?"

Rogue’s lips thinned in an expression Logan couldn’t quite identify. "She’s here," Gambit said softly.

"Is she o.k.?"

Gambit tossed him a cynical glance. "Non, but if she wants t’ take her body back, I suppose she’s gon’ have t’ get over it." On the heels of his statement, the cell door slid open.

Cyclops was standing rigid in the middle of his cell, hands clenched into fists at his sides. Even from the doorway, Logan could see him trembling but whether it was from fear, pain or the pure horror that was reflected on his face, Logan wasn’t certain.

Cyclops didn’t move as Logan came into the room. "Cyke?" he asked cautiously.

Cyclops’ eyes jerked to him, startled, but he immediately took in Logan’s presence and that of Rogue and the open door behind her.

"We have to help Jean," he told them urgently. "She’s trapped and it’s trying to eat her."

Logan didn’t bother asking what "it" was as another of the bird screams tore through his mind. The floor beneath them shuddered in response, nearly knocking the trio off their feet. He clamped down hard on a surge of fear and anger at the thought of Jean being hurt. That sound couldn’t be anything but the Phoenix, so he knew she was putting up a fierce fight. She would find a way to hold on until the X-Men could get to her.

"Let’s get the rest o’ the team out an’ then we’ll go get her."

Cyclops nodded. "Right." Logan could see him collecting himself in stages. Whatever it was he was sensing from Jean had really thrown him.

Gambit was already at work on the next lock by the time Logan and Cyclops stepped out into the narrow hall. Rogue’s brows drew together in a frown as he looked up from the tangled wires.

"Would one o’ you two like t’ fill me in on what’s happenin’ here?"

Cyclops looked at her blankly. Logan raised an eyebrow. "What’s the last thing ya remember?"

The long red hair hid his expression as Gambit turned his attention to the lock. He shrugged. "That crystal wave crashing over me."

Logan was momentarily surprised but then decided that it made sense. "Israel was more than a year ago."

Gambit paused and the door slid open. Beast joined them in the hallway and they moved to the next set of doors. Logan still saw no signs that anyone was aware of their impending escape.

He turned back to Gambit. "As fer this mess we’re in now... yer on a spaceship orbiting Earth an’ the critters runnin’ the ship ain’t exactly friendly. Far as I’m concerned, yer welcome ta kill anything that ain’t an X-Man."

Gambit arched one eyebrow. "Sounds simple enough."

They continued down the corridor, methodically opening doors and acquainting the newly released with Gambit’s unexpected presence. Cyclops regained himself about halfway through and took charge of the team. Though he was pale with fear from whatever he was feeling from Phoenix, Logan didn’t find any reason to question his judgment.

The last door was Storm’s, and Logan could see the grim set to Gambit’s mouth as he set to work on the lock. He had barely pried the cover off when the floor beneath them heaved once more, shuddering unhealthily. Logan’s stomach leapt into his throat as if he were on a roller coaster rather than a spaceship.

Gambit dug his fingers into the slight ridge of the doorframe, fighting for balance, and continued working on the lock. The door slid aside like the others and Logan could see Storm curled into a tight fetal knot on the floor, whimpering softly. He ducked inside and scooped her up in his arms. They needed to keep moving. She would have to recover along the way.

Following Cyclops, the X-Men reached the door at the end of the hallway to find it unlocked. Cyclops opened it without comment and stepped out into the area beyond.

"The power suppression ends at the door," he noted as soon as he stepped through, though how he knew that Logan wasn’t entirely sure.

"Does anyone else think this is way too easy?" Cannonball asked as he followed Cyclops.

Beast gave him a lopsided grin. "You know what they say, ’Pride goeth before the fall’. Let us just hope that our adversaries have vastly underestimated us."

Gambit stepped through just in front of Logan. The moment he passed the doorway he began to reel, one hand reaching out blindly for purchase. "Whoa."

Beast put out a hand to steady him, and Logan was surprised by the mild panic in the red eyes.

"Oh, dis is bad," Gambit muttered. Rogue’s fair face began shading over into green.

"What is it?" Cyclops demanded.

Gambit blinked and took a cautious breath. "I ain’ a big fan o’ space ships ’cause m’ spatial sense tracks de orbit. I c’n feel de planet turnin’ round an’ round." He made a vague, circulatory gesture with one hand. "Makes me queasy."

"And?" Cyclops asked.

Gambit looked up at him. "An’ we ain’ orbiting." He blinked once, obviously fighting nausea. "We fallin’."

Remy looked up with interest as the door to the little room in which he was being held opened. Cancer Man also turned, though the pistol that was now casually aimed at Remy did not waver. That didn’t concern the mutant. In some ways, his limited power was as effective as a full-blown telepath’s, and Cancer Man had conveniently forgotten that he lost all of his advantage the moment he gave Remy the slightest room to maneuver.

The man who walked into the room was fairly young, with a predatory leanness that set Remy’s internal alarms to ringing. He felt like he was looking into a mirror at a slightly warped version of himself.

"Yes, Alex?" the Cancer Man asked.

"They’re ready," the man answered. His gaze flickered across Remy with carefully veiled curiosity.

Cancer Man stood. "Very well." He gestured toward Remy. "Please bring our new friend."

Remy didn’t protest as Alex cut the cords that bound him and dragged him to his feet. The other man was also armed, and laid the muzzle of the gun against the back of Remy’s neck as they walked. For the most part, Remy ignored him and concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other.

"Where we goin’?" he asked Cancer Man as they stepped out into a long, featureless hallway.

Cancer Man glanced back over his shoulder with a tiny smirk. "There’s something I think you’ll want to see."

Remy’s stomach tightened, but he kept his expression blank. After a short walk, they arrived in a room that he took to be a theater of some kind. Two thirds of the circular room was covered with a single video screen, and as they entered, it came to life.

Remy stopped dead despite the strong arm that pushed him from behind. On the screen, Jean Summers was strapped to a metal table in the middle of an empty room. She was dressed only in a white surgical gown, and in the austere environment, the red of her hair seemed almost unreal.

Cancer Man lit another cigarette. "Ms. Summers is a friend of yours, I believe."

Remy darted a glance in his direction. How did he know Jean’s name? But rather than act surprised, he took the offensive. "What are y’ gon’ do t’ her?" he demanded.

Cancer Man returned his gaze calmly for a moment, and Remy felt the slim tendrils of his power being stretched as the other man resisted him. Remy focused his concentration, willing Cancer Man to tell him what he wanted to know. His power gave him only a tenuous control over another mind, but so long as he was trying to make them do something that some part of them already desired, he was usually successful. In that sense, it was more seduction than control. He couldn’t force anyone to do something that was completely against their will.

Eventually, Cancer Man turned toward the screen. "Ms. Summers has a truly impressive telepathic talent." He flashed Remy a humorless grin. "A talent that has both my colleagues and our allies somewhat... concerned."

He took another drag on his cigarette as, on the screen, Jean’s eyes fluttered and opened. "So we are performing an experiment to see if a talent such as hers poses a threat to our plans."

"Y’ plans t’ help evolve an alien species by combinin’ dere DNA wit’ ours, an’ den wipin’ de human population off de planet so de aliens c’n have it?" Remy kept his attention on the screen, but watched Cancer Man out of the corner of his eye. He was pleased when the other man betrayed a flicker of surprise.

Cancer Man recovered his poise and pursed his lips. "Something like that."

On the screen, Jean was struggling with her bonds, but stopped when a drop of some black liquid splashed down on her face from the tiny spout that hung from the ceiling. A small stream of the liquid followed, and Remy felt a cold shiver trace down his spine as it pooled like mercury and then began crawling across her skin.

"What is dat?" He clamped down hard on his feelings, so the question came out with only a faint trace of interest.

Cancer Man gave him another empty smile. "An alien." Jean’s body convulsed on the table, her mouth wide in a soundless scream, as he continued, "An intelligent alien viral agent."

Remy felt a sinking sense of horror, and with it a growing rage. Jean was his friend and more. She was family. And she was being destroyed right before his eyes.

Jean’s body burst into flame. Remy flinched away from the explosion of bright light, and when he looked back, he found himself staring at an amazing sight. A creature of flame raged inside the room where Jean was imprisoned. As he watched, it took on the form of a bird whose talons ripped into the walls, exposing bundles of wiring that caught fire and burned beneath its assault. He could only guess that she was destroying whatever power suppression technology was in the room.

Cancer Man turned to him with a startled expression that was lost as the man behind Remy spun him around. Remy ignored the pistol that hovered in front of his face and instead met the burning anger in the eyes behind it.

"What is that thing?" Alex demanded harshly. "What is she doing?"

Remy grinned at him. "Gotta love dem redheads." Gathering his reserves, he reached up and broke the man’s grip on his collar with a sharp blow, then stepped back. Alex raised his gun, centering on Remy, but Cancer Man held up a hand to prevent him from firing.

Remy ignored Alex as the phoenix form on the screen writhed in apparent agony. Some of its fire ran with a shimmering black substance that clung to it as if it were a tangible thing rather than flame. In some places, Remy could see the black oil burning away in a trail of dark gray smoke, but in other places it seemed to be gaining ground and spreading. Whatever it was, Remy knew Jean was fighting it with every ounce of strength she possessed.

The Phoenix shuddered as a new streak of black spread across it, and with a silent scream, it stretched outward until its wings pierced the walls of the cell, setting fire to everything it touched. The restraints that held Jean down also burned away and she rose from the table in a crackling ball of telekinetic energy. Her hair fanned out around her, alive in the energy storm, and her green eyes nearly glowed with indignant fury.

Remy found himself chuckling from the sheer pleasure of watching her. Jean was a sight to behold whenever something pushed her hard enough to crack the gentleness that she normally wore like a shield around her soul.

The Phoenix stabbed outward again with its wings, tearing large chunks out of the walls and ceiling. The newest incursions of black on its form disappeared in a burst of flame, leaving nothing behind but a puff of oily gray smoke. Wisps of fog formed in the room then were sucked out through the holes Jean had torn, and Remy realized with a start that he could see the black of space through the tear. The wisps of fog were escaping atmosphere condensing as the temperature dropped. The X-Men must have been captured during their mission, he decided, and he sent his teammates a silent wish for luck.

A moment later the image blinked out and was replaced by snow, and Remy guessed that Jean had destroyed the transmission equipment. He turned slowly to find both Cancer Man and Alex staring at the now empty screens, their expressions more thoughtful than he expected. The two traded glances that gave Remy little insight. The only thing he was certain of was that Jean’s behavior had seriously altered some basic principle in their minds and they were both scrambling to adjust.

Alex was the first to remember that Remy was there. He turned away from the screen and raised his gun to the level of Remy’s face. Over the barrel, his eyes were a wild storm of emotions that twisted his expression into a fierce scowl.

"Is she the only one?" he demanded.

Remy watched him warily but didn’t answer. That was a very dangerous question. If Cancer Man didn’t know about the alternate universes, it was almost certain that this man didn’t.

Alex voiced a snarl that seemed for all the world to be of frustration, and his finger tightened on the trigger as he advanced on Remy. "Is she the only one?" he demanded again, voice rising.

Remy took a step back to keep some distance between himself and the other man. As he moved, he tried to draw on the power that linked him to Cancer Man. There was something puzzling about his reactions, something that hinted at yet another layer of hidden motivations...

Almost entirely on instinct, Remy shook his head. "Non. Dere more."

Alex stopped dead, his eyes over the barrel of his gun never losing their focus, but his mind obviously shifting through distant thoughts. After a moment, he lowered the gun and turned toward Cancer Man.

Cancer Man had regained his composure and was in the midst of lighting a new cigarette. He regarded both Alex and Remy cooly. "This presents us with an interesting quandry." He waved his cigarette toward the silent, snow-filled screens. "Your telepathic friends are certainly in a great deal of danger now. The aliens no doubt raked their names and locations from your brain while they had you."

Remy’s insides froze. "What do y’ mean?"

Cancer Man gave him another of his dead smiles. "Our alien allies have very minimal telepathic abilities. However, with the application of sufficient levels of pain to weaken the mind’s normal defenses, they can extract whatever they please."

A flash of memory overwhelmed Remy. Hot agony in his body warred with the more horrible sensation of something like claws scraping across the surface of his mind. It was worse than Psylocke’s knife, worse than the feeling of Magneto controlling the iron in his blood.

Remy opened his eyes with a gasp as reality snapped back into place. Strong hands gripped him, holding him up, and he realized that it was Alex. He looked over at the young man and was surprised to see a hint of sympathy in the flat gaze, which was almost immediately hidden. It made him wonder what kinds of pain Alex might have endured in his time. It was obvious he was no stranger to it.

Before Remy could think of something to say, a yellow light above the door began to flash. Both Cancer Man and Alex tensed and Cancer Man nodded toward the control panel for the screens.

"See who that is."

Alex released Remy, who staggered, but managed not to fall. What little reserve he had managed to accumulate had been exhausted by that one moment’s memory. Now, he felt like he could barely keep his feet.

One of the large screens came to life, showing a featureless hallway that looked very much like the one Remy had walked through to get to this room. Without any distinguishing features, there was no way to be certain, but Remy wasn’t concerned about that. He was far more concerned with what was walking down that hallway. There were four men in standard kevlar armor and carrying automatic rifles. But behind them was a... thing. Remy wasn’t quite certain how to describe it. Humanoid, but looking like it was made up of some unholy combination of Elmer’s glue and crude oil, the seven-foot creature shambled after the men. Its fingers were tipped with long black claws that looked like they were made for tearing. Watching its movements, Remy got the distinct impression that it was a creature of speed, and that the slow walk it was being forced to was very difficult for it.

Cancer Man and Alex traded veiled looks. "It looks like they’ve come for you," Cancer Man remarked as he turned to Remy.

Alex’s head snapped up. "We’ve got to get him out of here," Alex told Cancer Man urgently. "If he’s going to have any chance of warning--"

"Krycek!" Cancer Man cut him off angrily. It was only the second time that Remy could remember the man raising his voice, and it made him wonder. There was definitely another layer here that he didn’t completely understand. It seemed, though, that Cancer Man had an interest in protecting mutants from the Racth’zai, though Remy couldn’t yet fathom his motives. All of that would have to wait, however. The first priority was going to be to get out of there alive.

"Dey gon’ be comin’ t’rough de door, non?" he asked Alex.

Alex nodded tightly and Remy summoned a faint grin. "Den we leave a different way." He held out his hand toward Alex. "Y’ got somet’ing metal on y’? A lighter, pocket change? Anyt’ing?"

Alex glanced uncertainly toward Cancer Man, who looked at the screen and the approaching men and then nodded. Alex fished through his pockets for a moment, and then with some hesitation withdrew a spare clip for his pistol. "How’s this?"

"Good enough." Remy took the clip and began charging it. Both Cancer Man and Alex watched the process in fascination.

"Which way?" Remy asked Cancer Man when the clip was glowing with lurid pink light. He didn’t want to think about how much it hurt just to charge up this one little object. He was going to be in serious trouble if he got into any kind of real firefight.

Cancer Man looked thoughtful for a bare moment, then shrugged. "Down would be best."

Remy nodded. "Cover up," he advised them, and threw the glowing object at the floor.


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