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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 7

“Our sleeper reports they’ve started t’move the subjects to the Institute.”

“Took them long enough to figure it out,” the creature calling himself Random said as he idly gnawed on an unlit cigar, his feet up on the table. “We’ve been snatching kids for nearly a month now.”

None of the other figures in the room spoke, though some shifted away from Random. The hugely muscled man was too brash. The last person to have spoken out of turn was laying in five separate pieces throughout the room. The gathered mutants known collectively as the Marauders looked to their leader wondering what he would do next.

One of them might have let out a sigh of relief when the man before them spoke.

“The X-teams are largely divided; some members are literally light-years away, and the remaining team is comprised of dysfunctional members who often act independently and wit’out direction,” the speaker’s voice was cold and wan. The audience of several of the most deadly mutant killers found themselves leaning forward unconsciously, in an effort to hear their leader better. Though none could be coerced to admit it, they all would have preferred to run screaming in the opposite direction.

Death eyed the gathered mutants with a cold basilisk glare.

The white and black clad mutant on Death’s right side spoke: “In short,” began Shiro Yashida, also known as Sunfire, “there is no better opportunity to strike than now.”

Death glanced over at the young, curly haired mutant seated before the computer console. Her gaze remained fixed on him; it was the hungry, desperate stare of an addict in need of a fix. Though he despised her attentions, the necroplasmic energy absorber called Threnody was too useful to kill. Sinister would be upset, to say the least, if Death throttled the life from her as he so wanted to. It was Death that had drawn her here, through no action of his own; she had simply been pulled by the scent of death and the inner glow it gave her.

“The schematic,” Death demanded, and she reluctantly turned away to key something into the computer. A bluish semi-transparent form appeared just above the circular table the Marauders had gathered around. It was a three-dimensional architectural rendering of the Xavier Institute and surrounding grounds. Death stuck his hand into the schematic, temporarily disrupting it as he touched several places on the hologram. “Random, Vertigo, Prism, Scrambler,” he said, touching the rendering of the Institute once with each name. “You two will enter here...” he indicated Prism and Vertigo, “and you two,” meaning Random and Scrambler, “here.”

“What, we’re just gonna walk through the front door?” asked Random.

Once again, Death showed remarkable restraint. Perhaps Random’s life was spared because he could not be as easily cloned as the rest of the Marauders. “Our agent on the inside will provide you with the diversion needed to provide you wit’ easy access. Your goals are to acquire the remaining subjects for experimentation, and rendez-vous with the sleeper agent.” Death touched the schematic again, pointing to the atrium on the third floor. “She will be here.” A slim female form appeared in the area indicated as the atrium.

“She’s a looker---.” Random said.

“Silence!” cried Sunfire as the cigar in Random’s mouth suddenly flared to life with a blast of heat. Surprised, the large mutant fell backward in his chair with a splat of protoplasm.

Threnody’s spine went rigid with the sudden burst of energy. She was hooked into a machine which siphoned away extra energy. The machine beeped and hummed softly. She immediately slumped in disappointment.

Death was touching the schematic again, his hand darting along the perimeter of the Institute’s grounds. “Harpoon, Arclight...and Riptide, once he is regenerated,” their attention was brought back to the pieces of the clone formerly known as Riptide, which were scattered on the floor, “will be at these locations. Sunfire, you will reconnaissance from above.”

Random had picked himself up from the floor and righted his chair. “And what are you and your buddy Greycrow gonna be up to?”

“Our objectives deal directly with Sinister’s research. It is none of your concern, save for you t’ know we’ll be following in the wake of your entry.”

Death continued, addressing the group as a whole: “It will be your objective to stop any of the infected from leaving the area. Threnody will indicate which of the mutants t’target upon receiving visual.” Death turned to one of the other Marauders in the room. “The com-links?”

“Are ready,” said Scalphunter as he rose. From a the nearby console, he retrieved the communication links the Marauders would be outfitted with. “The infrared optical sensor located in the eyepiece will track your eye movements,” Scalphunter explained, as he distributed the com-links to the others. “The data will feed directly to Threnody. When one of the infected is in visual range, the cross-hairs seen in the eyepiece will turn red.”

“I will remind you that none but the infected targets are t’be killed,” said Death. “If you are forced into a difficult position, you will either teleport away via tesseract portal or call for backup. If you encounter and kill one of the targets, you will immediately contact either Prism or Sunfire to dispose of the remains. The virus is transferred by contact. If you are touched by one of the targets, immediately report to quarantine. Threnody is unable to detect our main target, Patient Zero, so you’ll have t’use your own eyes and ears to find her.”

“And if we do find her?” asked Scalphunter, his voice might have expressed concern.

“Like the others, she must be destroyed,” replied Death. “At any cost.”

After the Marauders had left, Sunfire turned to Death. “It’s a good plan,” he said.

Death had been watching Threnody reassemble Riptide’s corpse with morbid fascination. She was currently making the dessicated zombie shamble about the room and pick up pieces of itself. Something about the zombie niggled a distant memory of fear and sadness in Death, though he had words no for these emotions. Eventually, he turned to Sunfire.

“Good?” asked Death. “It is sufficient, at best.”

“You doubt our success?”

“Yes, ’doubt’ is a good word,” mused Death, finally able to identify one of those emotions he had begun to encounter more and more often. Doubt: uncertainty and lack of conviction. He nodded.

“Where the X-Men are concerned, I feel little else.”


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