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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
Chapter 21

The Cast of Shadows - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by NicoPony
Last updated: 04/17/2007 12:31:03 AM

Chapter 18

“Storm!” Kitty cried, sprinting down the hallway. She was still dressed for bed, since it was still the earliest hours of the morning. In her hand, she clutched her cell phone. “Ororo!”

Storm was just opening her bedroom door when Kitty came to a halt, her slippered feet skidding on the bare wooden floors. Gasping, Kitty thrust the phone at Storm.

“What is it, Kitten?” Storm asked, her face a mask of concern.

“Phone call,” Kitty gasped, as she bent over and put her hands on her knees. “Rogue called me. She’s in trouble!”

Storm put a hand on Kitty’s back. “She telephoned just now? Where is she? What is wrong?”

Kitty straightened and nodded her head. “Just a minute ago, but the line suddenly went dead. She was trying to tell me something.”

“What is going on?” a third voice asked. Hank McCoy was walking down the hall towards them. Despite the time of night, he was dressed in his usual slacks and white lab coat. He had not yet been to bed and he looked tired. “Has something happened?”

“Kitty was telling me that Rogue phoned, and she seems to be in danger,” Storm explained.

“Gambit’s with her!” Kitty added, and Storm and Beast shared a glance.

“Henry,” Storm began, “have you made any progress with the tracking device?”

“Actually, yes,” Beast began. “I was just---.”

Storm cut him off with a curt nod of her head. “Good,” she said. “If you might continue your progress aboard the X-Jet…we need to move quickly.”

“Storm, I’m not quite ready---,” Hank continued.

“Kitty, I need you to go to the MedLab and report to Moira,” Storm said.

“What?” Kitty exclaimed. “But…but, no! I’m coming with you guys!”

“What about me?” The trio turned to see Alex Summers, standing in the hall behind them. “I’m coming too, you can’t leave me here.”

Storm shook her head. “No, Alex, you must remain here. We cannot place you in harm’s way.”


“I will have no arguments!” Storm exclaimed.

“Okay,” Hank added soothingly. “Let’s all relax a moment. This is what we’ll do. I’ll retrieve my equipment from my lab. Kitty, do as Storm says and go to the MedLab. Retrieve my medical kit and report to the X-Jet.”

Storm’s shoulders slumped a bit, and she gave Beast a slightly irritated glance. Her features quickly smoothed to neutrality. “I will ready the jet,” she said simply.

“And me?” Alex persisted.

“Someone needs to take care of Lorna and the professor,” Kitty told him.

His expression darkened and his mouth opened to protest. Storm cut him off before he could speak. “That is an excellent idea,” she said. “Moira will be alone with three patients.” She looked pointedly at Alex. “And Lorna could use the company.”

Alex’s whole body went slack in defeat. “Fine,” he said.

Storm nodded smartly. “We leave in ten minutes time,” she said. With that, the four dispersed, hurrying in different directions.

Madelyne and Scott approached the entryway to Sinister’s base. Unlike the last time Scott had been here, the sliding door was closed. Beside the door was a small touch-screen and keypad.

“Well,” Scott said nervously. “Looks like the door’s locked. Let’s go home.”

Madelyne turned to look at him incredulously. “But we just got here,” she said. “Don’t you want to know what’s inside?”

Scott knew what was inside, and that was just the problem. “This is dangerous, Maddie.”

She turned away from him and looked at the keypad. Maddie pressed a few keys to no avail. Her hand brushed against the touch-screen and the computer beeped. Green lit letters appeared on the screen: Incomplete Scan, Press to Continue. When she touched the screen a second time, a green bar ran up the length of the screen, scanning her palm. The entire screen turned green and then went blank. “Scanning…Verification: Madelyne Pryor,” the screen read.

Madelyne stared at the screen with wide eyes. “Madelyne Pryor?” she asked. The door slid open, and the pair peered inside. Madelyne was the first to move. She took a tentative step inside the building.

“Wait,” Scott said, putting a hand out to stop her. However, he was forced to follow after her when the door began to slide shut.

“What is this place?” Madelyne asked wondrously as she looked about. “It’s total sci-fi.”

Scott shared her amazement. The base looked nothing like it had before. The silver plated halls were well lit with bright fluorescent lights. There was no evidence of destruction or decay. The base looked fully functional, a fact that turned Scott’s stomach. Madelyne continued down the hall, her footsteps ringing cold and hollow on the floor. Scott unhappily followed after her. They passed the control room, which also seemed to be up and running.

“Where are you going, Madelyne?” Scott asked, his voice hushed and nervous.

She didn’t answer. Instead, she rounded a corner and hurried down the length of the next hall. “There’s stairs over here,” she said, pushing open a door. Sure enough, there was a staircase leading downward. “I remember this,” she said. “I’ve been here before!” She began down the steps.

Scott was filled with overwhelming dread, which was only just overridden by his concern for Madelyne’s welfare. “Maddie, don’t run down the steps! You might fall!”

Her hand went instinctively to her stomach, and she slowed her pace. “Okay…” she said, but continued downwards. They circled ever lower, passing several doors. Madelyne considered none of the other levels. She seemed to know where she was going. Finally, the staircase came to an end. A single steel door stood before them. Madelyne approached it and pushed through. Scott watched as she looked first to the right, then the left. Her footsteps faltered, uncertain for a moment. She glanced over her shoulder at Scott, then turned left. When he followed, he found himself in a familiar hallway. The corridor was no longer collapsed, though some of the lights were not functioning. At the end of the hall was a pair of doors. Beyond was the room where both he and Jean had been held captive by Sinister. There was something like a medical laboratory inside, though Sinister was by no means a doctor in the conventional sense. Madelyne chose not to go inside the double doors, but turned through another door. When Scott had last been here, there was a deceased body of a mutant sprawled in the hall.

Madelyne stepped over the threshold and into the room. Scott was not far behind. The enormous computer stood directly before them. Madelyne marveled at it for a moment, her jaw slack. From this central computer, cables stretched upward and outward, like an electronic tree with a canopy of wires as branches. Their attention turned from the computer to the cages to the right. The cages, which once stood empty, were now a hive of activity, teeming with busy white lab rats. Madelyne gasped.

“Those rats!” she cried. “There were rats here. They were everywhere.” She looked down at her wrist, at the scar she bore there. She fingered it idly, and her expression turned inward.

Scott approached Madelyne, to put his arms around her, but she stepped away. She looked up and to the left. Three human-scale glass cylinders stood on the far side of the room. Even from where he stood, Scott could see that the tubes were occupied. Mechanically, Madelyne began to walk toward the tubes.

“Don’t, Maddie!” Scott called out.

She approached the center tube. With a trembling hand, she reached out and wiped away the condensation that had collected on the glass surface. Inside the tube, a girl with Madelyne’s features lay unconscious in greenish liquid. Her red hair swirled around her peaceful face. Madelyne’s eyes grew wide in horror. Her sudden scream sliced through the air like a knife. Scott’s heart lurched in his chest. Madelyne turned away and folded over. Absolute terror caused her to collapse, and her fingernails bit into the flesh of her cheeks. Scott ran to her and grasped her by the shoulders. She continued to cry out in short screams of fright.

“Madelyne!” He shook her firmly. “Maddie, stop! You’ll make yourself sick. Calm down!”

Madelyne pointed upward, at the overhanging branches of cables and pipes. “I remember!” she howled. “They fell! I was trapped!”

Scott hushed her, holding her tightly. “Please, Maddie…” he pleaded, as she sobbed into his chest.

“There was no plane crash,” Maddie whispered. “Why do I remember a plane crash? I wasn’t in a plane crash…What does this mean? Why am I here?”

“It means,” said a familiar voice, which echoed in the enormous room, “that you’re a mistake, and you’re going to be replaced.”

Scott stood abruptly, releasing his hold on Madelyne to better view the speaker. Standing in the doorway was a figure, clad neck to toe in form fitting black. Scott instantly recognized the lithe boy, though his appearance had changed drastically, with his hair cropped short and face and ears bearing none of the piercings Scott remembered. “Gambit?” Scott asked, his expression confused.

Gambit moved forward, and Scott matched him stride for stride until they met at the room’s center. Scott paused a few paces away, but Gambit continued toward Scott. Madelyne shouted out a warning, but Scott’s reaction was too slow. In one fluid motion, Gambit spun on his left foot, raising his other leg as he turned, and smashing his right heel into Scott’s jaw. Scott hit the floor, momentarily stunned as white-hot pain blinded him. He heard the crack of bone when Gambit’s kick connected, and he was certain his jaw was broken. Scott tasted blood in his mouth, and he coughed and spat. One of his molars clattered against the metal floor. Before he had a moment to recover from the initial shock, he was kicked in the stomach. Scott doubled over with a groan, clutching his midsection in pain. He braced himself for another blow which did not come. Scott managed to pull himself upright to see Gambit moving purposefully toward Madelyne.

Scott managed an incoherent shout and raised his visor. Gambit turned and simultaneously fell backwards, narrowly missing the blast from Cyclops’ eyes. The beam of energy caught across Gambit’s upper chest, and he hit the floor on his shoulders. Using the momentum of his fall, Gambit somersaulted to his feet. Like magic, a trio of blades appeared in his right hand. Scott recognized the signature glow of explosive energy forming around the blades. Luckily, he managed to dive to safety as the blades struck the place he had just stood. The projectiles exploded in quick succession.

Scott knew he was better in a long-range fight, firing his optic blasts from a distance. However, confined in this enclosed space, he feared the damage he and Gambit might cause. Damage that could hurt Madelyne. It did not seem that Gambit was willing to give Scott a choice. Scott’s attacker momentarily turned his attention to Madelyne, who was crouching behind one of the containment tubes in wide-eyed fear. She cried out and ducked her head as Gambit sent a spinning blade in her direction.

Unable to take careful aim, Scott lifted his visor again, spreading an arc of energy toward the charged blade. The blast connected with the blade, causing it to explode several feet from where Madelyne was hiding. Scott’s optic blast ripped through the upper half of the lab, severing wires and cables which tumbled down, alive with electricity. Scott cried out in fear as he watched as the cables connecting one of the containment tubes snapped free. The body inside began to convulse and struggle, as it was abruptly cut off from its oxygen supply. He screamed again in misery, horrified at what he had just done.

Gambit turned once again in Scott’s direction, and Scott readied himself, willing to take down his teammate if it came to that. He fingered his visor and took a steadying breath. He saw Gambit tense, ready to spring towards Scott. Scott intended to blast the boy in the midst of his leap, and held back for the right moment. Gambit unexpectedly dashed to the left, then leapt. Scott was caught off guard, and his blast went wide. He turned just at Gambit landed in close proximity, and Scott threw up his arms in defense. Gambit lunged again, but to his surprise, and Scott’s, remained frozen in place a few inches above the ground. Scott twisted, his attention drawn to the doorway. Jean stood, her hair flying around her face as if blown in an unseen wind. She gestured at Gambit, and the force of her telekinetic punch sent him flying across the floor. He fell hard and did not rise.

Jean’s expression was haughty and triumphant. She gave Scott an icy stare; he was unable to read any familiarity in that gaze. Surprised, and unsure of what to expect, Scott remained tensed for battle. Jean did not attack him, however. She turned away from Scott and focused her attention on Madelyne.

“Finally,” Jean-who-was-not-Jean said. “I’ve found you!”

“If you’re not going to stop and ask for directions, you could at least look at the map!” Rogue exclaimed, shaking the folded paper at Remy.

“Don’t need no map,” Remy replied. “Got a built-in, uncanny sense of direction.”

Rogue groaned and flopped back into her seat. “Just like a man!” she declared.

“As if you have any experience on de topic,” Remy snapped back. “I know where I’m going, woman. Leave me be!”

“Then explain to me why we’re out here in the middle of no where? Look!” she pointed. “I know that crow! We passed him ten minutes ago!”

Remy rolled his eyes. “There’s more than one crow, I’m sure! We’re almost dere, trust me.”

She sulked and crossed her arms over her chest. “Why does everything turn into an argument?”

“Cause you’re a bone fide pain in de ass,” Remy snapped. “Look dere! We haven’t seen dat before.”

Rogue found herself leaning forward in her seat, squinting in the bright sun. Up ahead, the light was glinting off of a bright red sports car, parked on the side of the road. Remy slowed as they approached. Rogue gasped. “That’s Scott’s car!”

“Can’t be,” Remy muttered, but he pulled the car up behind the red Viper. Rogue jumped from the car and ran over to her teammate’s car. The customized Dodge Viper with its white racing stripes was unmistakable.

Rogue looked about the blank landscape. “Where is he?” she asked.

Remy had all ready found the gravel path. “Dis way,” he gestured.

“Is this more of your so-called ‘biological sense of direction’?” Rogue asked, following after him. They crested a small hill to see the flat spread of land below. There, in the field, was Sinister’s base.

“I told you so,” Remy mocked Rogue in an obnoxious voice.

“And you called me annoying,” she sighed. “Now you know where I got it from.”

He sniffed and crunched down the gravel path. Rogue had no choice but to follow. They cut through the grass to approach the entrance of the building. Remy crouched down beside the digital pad set at hip-height beside the door. He waved his hand before it.

“What are you doing?” Rogue asked, as she watched him place his palm against the flat black surface.

“Might as well try de obvious before blowing up stuff,” Remy said. A green bar scanned his hand. The panel beeped and the words “Scanning…Verification: Remy LeBeau” appeared on the screen. “What d’you know,” he said. “Looks like someone was expecting me.”

The door slid open. The pair shared a glance before proceeding into the base.

“This is the worst idea you’ve ever had,” Rogue announced as she surveyed the interior of the base. “Everything’s been fixed!”

Remy started down the hall to the control room. There was a similar panel set beside the door of this room as well. He put his hand on the screen, but the computer made a negative sound and read: Access Denied, Authorized Personnel Only.

“Who’d a-thunk,” Remy said. “Sinister has ‘personnel’. I wonder what de benefits are like.”

“Don’t you think you’re being a little…Ah don’t know, blasé, about this?” Rogue asked. Remy shrugged and continued down the hall.

They found the elevator at the end of the hall. Remy pushed the down button.

“Shouldn’t we take the stairs?” she questioned.

“Why bother,” he responded. “It’ll go faster dis way.” The elevator chimed and the doors slid open. The pair entered. Rogue was trembling with nervousness, though Remy seemed perfectly calm. His bland expression was eerie. The elevator stopped on the next floor and they stepped from the car. A strange whirring sound followed by a rhythmic click-clank of metal on metal caused them to halt. Remy thrust out an arm, holding Rogue behind him defensively. The pair stared as a small robot crab-walked down the hall, bearing a panel of metal in its pincers. Further down the hall, the walls were busy with mechanical activity. More of the strange robots were busy fixing up the walls of the corridor. The robot closest to them progressed purposefully toward the construction. Remy strode over to it and with his toe, overturned the robot.

“Remy, don’t!” Rogue cried.

The robot continued to gyrate its legs for a few moments, then it seemed to realize it had fallen. A red light on its abdomen began to blink.

“Look what you did,” she chided, and together they stared down at the thing. The construction at the end of the hall came to a halt. The sound of whirring legs began to approach. The robots began to march in their direction, red lights flashing in the dimness.

“Uh oh,” they both said quietly.

Madelyne gaped; her gaze fixed on Jean. Shakily, she stood. In her hand she clenched a bit of fallen pipe. “You stay away from me, you monster!” Madelyne cried.

Jean smiled wickedly. “So you recognize me!” she cried delightedly. “Clever girl!”

Madelyne ducked around one of the glass cylinders as Jean approached. “Of course I know you!” Madelyne said.

Jean slipped around the opposite side of the cylinder, surprising Madelyne. “Peek-a-boo!” Jean said. “You may have escaped me on the Astral Plane, sweetness, but here in the physical world, you’re nothing but a chubby little teenager!”

Madelyne quickly backpedaled, keeping Jean in sight as she swiped the metal bar before her. “Who are you calling chubby, you skinny bitch!” She threw the pipe at Jean. Jean deftly caught it with her telekinesis and cast aside.

“I’ve had just about enough of you,” Jean snarled, lunging forward and grabbing Madelyne by the shirtfront. Scott started towards the girls, afraid for Maddie, but unwilling to blast Jean.

Held upright by Jean, Madelyne struggled and gasped, trying to catch Jean in the face with her nails. Jean glanced down at Madelyne’s body and her expression turned quizzical. “What’s this?” Jean asked, poking Madelyne in the stomach. “Well, this won’t do! A baby? Scott, you naughty boy!”

Scott froze in place, staring at the girl he once knew. Words died on his tongue, and given that his jaw was broken, he was unable to speak or demand explanation for Jean’s erratic behavior.

Jean was glaring at Madelyne, a sneer on her lips. “You tried to hide this from me!” she squawked. “I can’t be weighted down with such a liability!”

Madelyne looked uncomprehendingly at Jean. Though she seemed not to understand Jean’s words, she understood the intent behind them. “Don’t touch me!” Madelyne screamed. “I won’t let you hurt my baby!”

Jean let out a snarl of pure hate. Suddenly, a nimbus of red energy grew around Madelyne and the girl cried out both in pain and defiance. Both Scott and Jean stared upwards as the nimbus took on a coherent form. The fiery red head and curving beak of a falcon appeared. It screamed out a cry of fury that could not be heard audibly, but echoed in their minds. Scott staggered back, clutching his head. Jean was struck down in a blinding flash of energy. Her hands went to her midsection, where three bleeding stripes had appeared. The force of the strike splattered blood in an arc across the floor. The great bird cried out again, and one of Jean’s legs collapsed beneath her. She fell to the floor, her eyes staring upwards in shock.

Madelyne stood shakily for a moment before falling in a heap. Scott was momentarily struck dumb as he watched the two girls fall. He was torn between running to the girl he’d grown up with, and the girl he’d come to love. Finally, he threw himself toward Madelyne. She stared up at him with vacant eyes. The muscles of her face twitched, and her body spasmed as if caught in an electrical current. Scott touched her face, shaking his head while repeating over and over to himself: oh no oh no oh no…


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