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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


Written by NicoPony
Last updated: 05/06/2007 06:22:13 PM

Chapter 6

The dimly lit room with its large circular table was hushed in companionable silence as the three women waited for their last two teammates, Beast and Iceman, to arrive.

“Is Logan coming as well?” Storm asked at length.

“No,” replied Karima, also known as the Omega Sentinel. “He’s babysitting Sabretooth.”

Storm’s eyebrows rose. “Is that wise?” she asked.

Karima’s head tilted, and one of her armored shoulders rose in an approximation of a shrug. “Probably not, but Creed is currently being held in a stasis chamber. I doubt Wolverine would kill a helpless opponent, even if it is Sabretooth.”

“Why has Wolverine taken it upon himself to sit watch over Creed, then?” asked Emma.

“We’ve had some...technical glitches lately,” Karima said. Though her face was impassive, her tapping finger betrayed her concern.

“Oh,” Emma said idly examining her pristine fingernails. “And why haven’t I heard anything about these glitches?” Emma hated not being in complete control of even the most minute functionings of the Institute.

“I’m downloading the information now,” Karima said, as she unplugged a port from her left shoulder and hooked herself into a nearby computer.

Emma looked over the information Karima produced on the monitor. “Wait, Creed escaped!?”

“He made a brief venture out,” Karima replied coolly. “He didn’t get far.”

“This is unacceptable,” Emma said, crossing her arms.

“I can handle a dead-beat like Creed,” Karima replied, imitating Emma by crossing her arms as well. The Omega Sentinel also had issues with maintaining order and control.

Heads turned as the last two arriving X-Men entered the room Cyclops had once dubbed: The War Room. Consequentially, Robert Drake had not once passed up the opportunity to exclaim: “You can’t fight in here, this is the War Room!,” much to everyone’s disgust. The joke stopped being funny after the first seventeen times they’d heard it. As the aforementioned jokester entered, Emma Frost graced him with a quelling glare before Robert was even able to open his mouth.

“I wasn’t going to say it!” Bobby declared.

“Just sit down so we can begin this meeting,” Emma said, gesturing to the empty seats. “Storm asked that I call this meeting on her behalf---.”

“No, I called this meeting,” Iceman interrupted. “Hank and I have important information---.”

Emma had completely switched into her Control Freak mode by now. She was about to commandeer Iceman’s body and force him into a chair when the large monitor behind her flared to life.


Emma Frost nearly jumped out of her skin, and she spun to look at the screen behind her. Rogue’s sallow face filled the screen. She looked more than a little crabby. She was also wearing what appeared to be a HazMat suit with the hood pushed back.

“There’s no need to shout at me, Rogue,” Emma snapped.

“Well, y’weren’t answering my pages in your office,” Rogue snarled. “I need t’call a meeting!”

Iceman let out an exasperated cry and sent the papers he was holding fluttering into the air.

“Rogue,” Hank said with concern, “I’d hoped you would spend at least another week recuperating from your illness.”

“If I spent another day in that MedBay, I’d like to go insane,” Rogue replied. “Are y’gonna listen to what I have to say, or not?”

“Fine,” Emma said, “get on with it!”

Rogue took a steadying breath, clearly trying to come to grips with her irritation. “Val Cooper hailed Cable’s ship, the Conquistador, with news about a double homicide. Two mutants are dead.”

“Who are the victims?” asked Storm.

“We won’t know until the dental records are checked. The bodies are too badly burned t’tell for sure. But the house they were found in belongs to Shinobi Shaw.”

“Burned...?” Storm asked quietly.

“Yep, they’re a coupla crispy critters.”

“The bodies in the Morlock Tunnels were also incinerated beyond recognition,” Storm said and all eyes turned to her.

Karima’s expression sharpened on Storm, the Sentinel was being particularly emotive today.

Emma lips were pursed in consideration. “What on earth were those two doing together in the same house? They despise each other.”

“Dunno,” Rogue answered. “But Val said there was a report of robbery not two days ago. A family heirloom or some such. A signet ring Shinobi wore worth about a quarter mil.”

“Is there any connection between the murders and the theft?” Emma asked.

“None we can see so far,” Rogue answered. “Whoever pinched the jewelry left no trace. Nothing recorded on the security systems during that time but a bunch of static.”

“How is it they were killed?” Hank queried. “I believe Shaw the younger would have been invulnerable to flame.”

Mystique’s face suddenly appeared in the monitor as she shoved Rogue to one side. She too was wearing a yellow HazMat suit. “What my dear daughter has neglected to tell you is that they were both killed with organophosphates. Poor schlubs didn’t realize what was happening to them until they were vomiting their own viscera.”

“Thanks for that image, Mystique,” Emma said flatly.

“Wait, organo-what?” Iceman asked.

“That’d be nerve gas,” Rogue replied, shoving Mystique back. “That’s what got Homeland Security in a tizzy.”

“They believe this to be a terrorist attack?” Hank asked skeptically.

“No way,” Iceman said. “A robbery...nerve gas? C’mon, you put two and two together and you get Gambit, or Death, or whatever he’s calling himself these days.”

“Why burgle someone and then come back two days later to commit murder?” Hank asked. “That doesn’t make sense.”

“Since when has Gambit’s recent behavior made any sense?” Bobby asked. “If he’s willing to kill us, what would he care about the Shaws?”

Storm stiffened in her seat. “I do not believe it,” she said coldly. “Gambit would not be capable of such a heinous act.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, Storm,” Rogue said, not bothering to veil her contempt. “Gambit’s dead. There’s only Death now. And he was willing t’stomp my head flat without a second thought.”

Storm shook her head. “I refuse to believe Gambit is in control of his own actions,” she said angrily.

“He’s responsible for his own decisions,” Rogue retorted.

“You were always quick to give up on him, Rogue,” Storm said as she turned away from the monitor.

Rogue’s expression was dark. “I got nothing else to report,” she said, and the screen went black as she abruptly ended communications.

Karima turned her attention from the monitor back to the others in the room. “Storm, you mentioned the Morlock Tunnels?”

Storm glanced up at the Sentinel. “Yes,” she said, slow to continue. “Three Morlocks were attacked, assassinated, it seems to me. They were shot and their bodies burned.”

“It’s odd,” Karima said, and gestured to the computer she was still hooked in to. “Sabretooth attempted to escape into those same tunnels via the access corridor. When I caught up with him, he was involved in an altercation with a small number of Morlocks. I believe they were returning from grocery shopping, as they were pelting him with produce.” Images of the battle appeared on the screen while Karima spoke, as her memories immediately downloaded to the computer.

The X-Men were silent for a moment as they pondered the incongruous image of Morlocks doing grocery shopping and Sabretooth being held at bay with apples and bananas.

“They stalled him long enough for me to apprehend him,” Karima continued. “None of the Morlocks were seriously hurt, despite Creed manhandling them.”

“This seems like an unusual coincidence,” Hank said, his hand on his chin.

Storm gestured to Karima’s monitor. “I cannot say for certain if these three Morlocks are the murdered victims. There is one other portion to my report...Marrow was kidnapped the same night as the killings. She seems to have vanished without a trace.”

Bobby suddenly stood and exclaimed: “AH-HA!”

Everyone turned to look at him, save for Beast who was gathering up the sheaf of papers Iceman had scattered earlier.

“Care to enlighten us as to what you’re ah-ha-ing about, Robert?” asked Emma.

Iceman snatched the papers from Beast and shook them at Emma. “What I was trying to tell you about, before I was so rudely interrupted,” he cleared his throat self-importantly, “is that several of our former students have gone missing.”

Emma’s expression changed from scorn to concern. “Missing?”

“So far, we’ve found there are four students unaccounted for,” Hank replied. “Dallas Gibson, Armena Ortega, Jim Prindle, and Marco Polo. All have been described by their legal guardians as having vanished.”

“That would make five de-powered mutant teenagers,” Storm said, “abducted, we should assume.”

“Care to speculate about the connection between the kidnappings and these murders?” Emma asked.

“Other than the fact that they are occurring at the same time; and are possibly committed by the same agents who apparently can appear and disappear at will; I do not see how the two crimes relate,” Karima said.

Emma leaned a hip against the meeting room table. “Our first action should be to contact the remaining students, and have them report to the Institute, for their own protection.”

Bobby grinned smugly. “Done and done,” he said, enjoying the moment he managed to one-up the headmistress. “The kids are on their way.”

Emma fumed.

“Why does no one tell me these things!?”


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