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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

Follow Me Until the End of the World: A Place Worth Saving? - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Sandman
Last updated: 01/02/2007 02:01:11 AM

Chapter 14

Exasperated from having lost his fourth straight game of pool, Bobby dropped his cue against a chair and threw up his hands. "Good thing we're not betting on this," he said, mostly to his partner, John, who was nearly passed out in a booth from his tremendous consumption of Calgary Red (the choice wheat beer produced in the city). Wraith slyly leaned into the corner and sipped his beer, and offered his younger opponent a victorious smile. He reached up and adjusted his dark sunglasses, which seemed like an odd choice of apparel given the dark setting of the bar. Bobby knew that his eyes were extremely sensitive to light and that they also glowed red through black, something sure to grab the attention of just about anyone. This was not the goal of a man who made a life among the shadows. "You gotta stop dropping your elbow when you follow-through. Didn't I tell you that at the beginning? Christ, maybe a drink might improve your game a little," Wraith playfully chided him.

"Maybe so," Bobby said, scanning the bar for their waitress. Funny. All night the little sweetheart had been practically living by the pool tables, making eyes at Bobby (not that he noticed), and she was now nowhere to be seen.

"Order me up another pitcher and get a couple glasses of water for your little friend there," Wraith said, while passing Bobby and slapping a twenty-dollar bill on the side of the table in front of him. "I gotta take a piss before kicking your ass again". On the way to the bathroom, Wraith stopped in front of Pyro, who managed to look up through beer goggles at the man. "I bet that's the last time you'll claim that an Englishman can out drink an Irishman, huh?" he said before powerfully swatting John on the shoulder. John grumbled something about potatoes and then turned over.

Finally, Bobby caught the waitress and ordered the drinks. She brought them over promptly and gave him a flirtatious wink that he attributed to her wanting a tip. Always the gentleman, he tipped her nicely with Wraith's change.

He carried over a glass of water to John and tilted his head back up. "I gotta throw up," John mumbled.

"You'll be fine. Just drink this," Bobby said, forcing the glass to his friend's lips. John slurped it down in large gulps, spilling much of it on his favorite collared shirt (which, he promised Bobby, would definitely get him laid tonight). Bobby fought the urge to gloat to his drunken friend-to take advantage of the golden opportunity to dance around and say, "I told you so", but resisted. John had been on one of his ethnic rants tonight, claiming that no one of American heritage (or any other nationality for that matter) could out drink an Englishman. Wraith took the challenge quite seriously, and while John made a spectacular attempt by drinking far more than his body weight should have been able to handle, he was simply out of his league.

And now, Bobby was there to play the caretaker of his intoxicated friend. Beyond all the tough-guy bravado, he realized that he had no closer companion in all the world than the spiky-haired, foul-mouthed young man sitting to his side.

Wraith came out of the restroom and signaled to Bobby that he would return in a moment, and left to talk with another two swarthy-looking men that had just entered the bar.

"I'm never drinkin this fucgin much again," John slurred.

"Don't think about it. Let me get you home," he said.

"Nah. Play another game, cept', uh, win this time," John said, beaming an obnoxious smile.

"Maybe next time. Its almost time for me to go to the, uh, thing".

"If ya insis".

Bobby carried Wraith's pitcher over to him and explained that he needed to hit the road, reasoning that John needed to get in bed. It almost seemed out of character, but Wraith asked if he needed any help. Bobby expected this guy, who he imagined ate nails for breakfast, not to care less about Pyro's drunken state. But Bobby declined and left him to his shady company. As he walked away, they held palaver with a dialogue of whispers and subtleties, as the dealings of the underworld were always meant to be.

While guiding John by the arm, Bobby walked out into the crisp, autumn night. The new season was burgeoning around them. There was no question about it now. It made him feel somewhat nostalgic for the seasons at Westchester, before the war had taken all that away. For the last seven years the temperature had not nearly dropped this low.

Along the way John paused to throw up in a storm drain. Bobby hovered over him and patted him on the back.

"Jus gimme a minute, please," John said pathetically on the ground.

"Alright, take as long as you need".

While he waited, Bobby smoked a cigarette and then tucked his chilled hands into the deep pockets of his leather jacket. Suddenly he laughed, thinking back to how he and John met. He seemed to be taking care of his friend ever since then.


That fateful day. Already, Robert Drake had spent a year and a half under the care of the Charles Xavier Estate for the Gifted. Orphaned was an appropriate term, though abandoned might be another.

John was the only son of a noted businessman that also held a lordship. His power manifested very early, causing a nearly catastrophic fire within his family's estate. His father accompanied John across the Atlantic to a place that promised to teach the boy how to control his "gifts". Nevermind that it also was a convenient way to distance the St. Clair name from the freakish monstrosity that it had produced.

To cleanse his conscience, Lord Edward St. Clair left a significant donation to the Xavier Institute along with his son at the Westchester Estate. He bent down, told his son to be a good lad, and gave him an emotionless hug. John tried to cling to the cuff of his father's dapper business suit, but his hands were just pushed away. His father lied when he told him that he would see John very soon (Christmas was only a month away).

Charles Xavier received the boy and offered him guarded sympathy, realizing from experience that the parents never really intended on seeing their children again. Despite his best efforts, he couldn't reach the child in way that would make him warm up to his new home. He realized that his six foot stature, his bald head, and confinement to a wheel chair probably did not present the most comforting sight for a child.

So the newest addition to the Institute's faculty, a much younger and bearded Henry "Hank" McCoy escorted John to the east wing of the facility where he could meet his age mates. The physical appearance of Dr. McCoy was always thought of as storybookish to the children with his pair of too- small spectacles resting uncomfortably across the bridge of his nose, his football player shoulders extending straight to his chin (thus hiding any real evidence of a neck), and his comically large hands and feet that he could use to do the most amazing tricks. The oafish professor took John's tiny hand in his own ham-hock sized hand and tried to relate to him, but the boy just wouldn't calm down.

Together, they entered the playroom where the younger children had their recess between morning and mid-morning classes. Dozens of little bodies were strewn about the floor, engaged in their various elaborate exercises of the imagination. Hank knelt beside the boy, shook his hand, and released him into the fray. Behind a window peering into the room, Hank watched as the boy found an isolated corner and collapsed to the ground. A few moments later another boy, about the same age, wandered over with a lunchbox and sat Indian-style next to him.

"Do you like He-Man?" the brown haired little fellow asked.

"Leave me alone," John sobbed.

"I'm Bobby. I like He-Man. Do you want to play?" he continued, despite the other boys request.

John shrugged his shoulders and continued staring at the wall, until Bobby opened his lunchbox and poured its contents, a mess of action figures, in front of the two boys.

"You can be the good guys, if you want," Bobby offered.

Slowly, John turned. A few moments later he was immersed in an epic battle of good versus evil (which the good guys won, naturally). A relieved Hank McCoy smiled and finally understood why he turned down the six-digit income jobs to come here. No amount of money could replicate the feeling of seeing an abandoned child begin to feel safe in a new loving home.

The two boys had been inseparable ever since.


After a while John stopped vomiting and had stopped moving altogether. It was a sure signal that he had passed out. Bobby pitched a spent cigarette to the side and moved over to his friend, woke him up, and hoisted him to standing. Bobby wrapped his arm tightly around John's shoulders and helped him walk. About fifteen minutes later they reached the apartment that the two boys shared. To their dismay, the power had been cut, which was not uncommon due to necessary power rationing. Only the hospitals and defense structures would be powered this time of night. Bobby deposited John on the couch, and was sure that he was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Just in case, he found a bucket underneath the sink and laid it on the ground underneath John's head.

Taking only the time to eat a couple of pastries, Bobby then re-entered the night. He had an appointment to attend.

The streets were dead this time of night. Very peaceful. He did pass the town crazy Steven, who was standing in front of a local eatery that was closed for the night. He appeared to be arguing with himself over who made better fish sandwiches-the establishment before him, or another local favorite, Milo's. Steven paced back and forth, tripped over a garbage can, and did a perfect combat roll. He cautiously looked from one side to the next and then took off running.

Bobby reached the med lab about a quarter to midnight and found Alexis Allgood waiting for him. She looked radiant, though she was dressed simply in a white turtleneck sweater and blue jeans.

"Hey there," she said cheerfully. She flashed him a perfect smile that nearly made him blush.

"Evening," he said, removing his coat and tossing it on a chair in the waiting room.

"Are you sure that you're ready for this?" she asked.

"Yes. Are you sure Val is alright? I mean, is it too early?"

Alexis shook her head. "She's come a long way, Bobby. The poison did a number on her, but I think that there were things that went on in that place that really messed her up. There's not much she'll tell me. Most days she will just stare off into space and then break down and cry," Alexis continued, becoming emotional herself. "But she realizes how important this is, and that time isn't on our side. Scott has been down here a couple of times and he talked to her. I think he blames himself, Bobby".

Lost for words, Bobby just nodded. "C'mon," she said, regaining her original composure. "Do you want something? Hot chocolate? Coffee?"

"No, I'm fine, thanks. I'm just a little anxious to begin".

"Alright. Let me go in and tell her that you're here".

Bobby watched as she disappeared into the hallway, feeling his nerves begin to clench. He took several deep breathes to calm himself, but still found that insidious, terrified feeling that he used to get waiting to get a shot when he was younger.

A few moments later she returned and motioned for him to come back.

"She wants to be alone with you, so I'll be waiting out here. Is that alright?" she asked with concern.

"It'll be fine," he said, trying his best to hide his nervousness.

Alexis nodded and opened the door to the room. Only a little light slid through. Bobby smiled at Alexis and walked in and towards the chair that was not unlike something found in a dentist office. He hopped in and adjusted his head in the rest. The door opened again and Valerie Allgood walked in very slowly. She reminded him of a vampire-her hair was drained of its original golden luster, her skin pale, her eyes heavy and distant.

"Hello Bobby," she said in a soft voice, pulling up a stool behind him.

"Hi Val".

"Bobby, this should be fairly painless, and shouldn't last more than an hour. I want you to know that what takes place here is between the two of us-I'm going through your most private thoughts and memories. I promise not to speak about this to anyone. But this must go both ways. There is a chance, when our minds meet, that you will see into mine. I've deliberately held back telling anyone about certain.times in my life, particularly recent ones," she said, then coming to an abrupt halt. Sensing his discomfort, she wheeled around to face him and smiled. "But don't worry, think of it all as a bad dream."

"Val, if you're not ready for this."

"No. It needs to be done. Besides, it might even be a little therapeutic for me. Just remember, this is just between us. Promise?" she asked, extending her hand.

"Promise," said Bobby, taking it and sealing the oath.

"Alright, lets go find Charles Xavier".


It was like a strong sedative was injected into his veins. Within moments he felt an overwhelming calm. He was lost in a snowy wilderness, where snowflakes fell carelessly from the sky. There was no sound. Bobby bent down and grabbed a handful of snow and it instantly turned to ice.

He walked on. The direction did not matter. There were no landmarks, distinguishing features, only trees and snow. His feet seemed not to sink into the snow. He looked down and noticed that whenever his feet touched the ground, it turned to solid ice. For a very long time indeed, he walked.

He finally came to where a road began, and a lone figure stood by its marker, as if waiting for him. Bobby was sure that it was Val, and his expectation was correct. She pulled back the hood of her fur cloak beckoned him closer. It felt as if time had stopped all around him. He went to her and touched her hand, creating a bond. In that instant, their minds merged.

And that was when Bobby learned about her dark secret. About the days of torture, about her losing the will to live, about the cruel tests and treatments, about her how her mind was used as a gateway into the netherworld, and about Nathaniel Essex throwing her down and raping her.impregnating her with a dark child inside her womb. It was abomination that was immortal-it had survived the poisoning. And Val had come to find that it was protecting its mother after trying to slit her wrists upon learning of the new life developing within her body. The wounds sealed even before blood began to seep from them.

Bobby even felt himself touch the mind of the child and felt a chill creep down his spine. It was the first physical sensation that he felt sense the beginning of the mind meld.

Her clear blue eyes looked into his, as if to say "now you know", and she began their journey to find the secret of Charles Xavier's whereabouts, locked somewhere deep within the recesses of Bobby's mind.

As soon as they began walking, Val had disappeared from his side, but he felt her presence nonetheless. The snowy storm had dissipated, the trees had parted, and now a road was visible. The outline of a building was visible in the distance. Upon coming closer, Bobby came to recognize it.

It was the Westchester Estate.

His heart raced and he began to run toward it. It was a symbol of hope to him-like a grand Ivory Tower where all the answers to all of his questions could be found. The sun peaked from behind the storm clouds and shone brilliantly on the building. Bobby felt tears of joy begin to fall.

He made it to the driveway and ran up it with even greater ferocity. No matter that it was empty of any cars and it seemed as if the place had been abandoned some time ago. Bobby reached the front door and heaved it open, sending a wave of dust out into the open.

The building seemed ancient. The halls were hallowed and empty. The paintings, furniture, everything was covered in layers of dust. Large cobwebs were spun all over the place. No light had even touched this place in years. No signs of life.

And yet, Bobby could have sworn that he heard the faint sound of Professor Xavier's voice when he entered the Great Hall.

He walked slowly up the staircase, each step creaking under his weight. His excitement was intense. He was being led somehow, but did not know by what or what he would find when he reached his destination.

The second floor was darker then the first. Bobby relied on memory to guide him past the empty classrooms. His hands helped him count the doors. It was then when he realized where he was going.

The Professor's Office.

Bobby excitedly reached for the doorknob and tried to turn it, nearly crushed to find it locked. He knocked on it, kicked it, shook it, hit it, nothing seemed to work. Perhaps they had waited too late and the Professor had died.

He slumped to the floor and smashed his fist into the ground. He began crying to mourn the loss of his mentor, when Bobby remembered something that Xavier had told him the first day they had met. He thought it odd when the Professor had repeated it to him when they briefly had found one another in Calgary, just before his disappearance. Bobby stood, wiped the tears from his face, and leaned against the door. He whispered,

"Behind these doors, all of your dreams will come true".

Holding his breath, Bobby reached down and tried the doorknob, and it turned. The door swung open to the Professor's Office, where the old man was sitting with a huge, fatherly grin on his face from behind his desk.

"Master Robert Drake, how nice of you to make it".

Bobby rushed at him, throwing his arms around the professor, who laughed gently and reached him with his own embrace.

"I was afraid you were gone," Bobby sobbed.

"No, not yet, my young friend. Not just yet."

Finally, Bobby released the old man and swung around to the chair in front of his desk. He had spent much time there, usually on the receiving end of a verbal reprimand for some mischief he and John orchestrated.

The office looked extremely well kept. No dust anywhere. His various plaques, publications, and diplomas adorned the walls.

"Well, shall we begin?" the Professor asked, still not having lost his smile.

"Begin what, sir?"

"It looks like we're in some trouble".

"It appears that way, sir," Bobby began meekly, " I think that the sky might be falling".

"Oh, indeed it is, Robert. But there might just be time enough to stop it".

"What happens if we don't?"

"Then all the days and nights will end forever". Bobby slumped into his chair, feeling the words drop like anchors through his soul. Xavier reached across the desk and laid his hand over Bobby's closed fists. "Don't resign yourself to accept defeat, just yet. Nathaniel Essex is coming closer every day to remaking the world into his own image, but there is still hope. Mark my words, Robert, there is still hope".

Bobby's eyes shined brightly up at the old man, waiting for him to reveal his plans.

"I think its about time for me to leave this place. Why don't you come and get me?"

"Of course, sir".

"Excellent. You'll find me.here!" the Professor said, swiveling around in his chair to a map of the United States and then pointing to the American South West. "Outside of Mesa Verde, Arizona, the United States government constructed a test facility that was later utilized to house one of their experiments gone terribly wrong. A man named Bruce Banner, was made into a unstoppable creature after receiving radiation treatments. Their only choice was to lock him down here in a massive bunker that is nearly impossible to locate. Sometime after the war, Banner had managed to escape, though his current whereabouts are anyone's guess. In fact, its very likely that he's perished by now. Regardless, after it was decided that I would go into hiding, I found this place with the assistance of Cerebro, who has been my sole companion all of these years. She has helped me monitor things on the surface to the best of her ability. Anyway, I've grown tired of this isolation, and besides, there is work to do".

"Ok, Professor, but how will I be able to locate the bunker if its nearly impossible to find?"

"Very simply, young Robert, find the base, which should be easy enough, and enter it. Find the research facility, go to the primary elevator, and descend to the bottom floor. There, you will find a locked door. Find a way to bypass the retinal scan, and it will take you to another elevator. Take it down, and I'll meet you at the bottom. Do you understand, because there isn't much time left".

"Yes, sir, I understand".

"Good boy. I hope to see you soon".

And just like that, he was gone.

Just before daybreak, Steven McNulty, the reputed town crazy, wandered into the south end of the city. The battling voices inside of his head had quit for the time being. They usually went to sleep around this time of day, giving him at least something to look forward to each night. Some people speculated that Steven was crazy because of the war. He was a veteran.and a decorated one.from the resistance, that much was true. If true would be known, his deeds far exceeded any story that could carry them.

But there was a bit of truth in the rumors, wasn't there? The day after that Battle of New York, Steven buried his closest friends, and things had never seemed right since then. A wise man might have said that it was a demon called survivor's guilt that forced the voices from the ghosts of his past.

He was nearing the cloaking generators-the giant noise makers that ran all the time, sucking unbelievable amounts of power from the power plants that Forge constructed. These things were the only shield from certain doom-the onslaught of the Southern Cross, waiting to finish the job it started years ago.

Something was a bit strange tonight, though. The normal sentries that paced these roads were absent. Normally, they shooed Steven away if he wandered too closely (one time that had the audacity of having old Guido throw him in jail overnight). One of the voices woke up.

Something's wrong. Better go look.

Steven scrambled towards the generators, looking for anyone, but found no one. He made his way to the structure itself, and came to the guard station. The door was ajar. Steven pushed it open and found several dead bodies packed into the corner.

Something's wrong. Its up to you now.

Taking a nightclub and a revolver off the belt of one of the guards.

Turn the safety off, retard!

Steven smacked himself hard in the face, before disengaging the safety.

He swung out of the guard station and crept up the metal staircase. The higher he climbed, the more intense the sound became. His eardrums began to throb.

Steven made it to the top, finally, where the sound proof operating rooms were found. He saw a light a flash of light suddenly, and then the generator engines died down. Then something exploded. The controls were gone.

Oh Jesus Christ, we're wide open now. You need to go warn someone.

Steven hissed for the voice to shut up, and then began to turn back. Then, he heard another noise overhead. It then occurred to Steven that if planted in the right places, explosives could cause a chain reaction to destroy the entire city. A complete nuclear explosion. Mushroom cloud and everything. Not a soul within miles would have a chance.

Steven turned back around and began towards the staircase leading up.

Take off your shoes, pal. He'll hear you coming. You'll only have one chance.

Listening to the voice, Steven pulled off his shoes and proceeded barefoot.

Infiltrating the place had been easy for Toad. The security was laughable. A dozen dead guards were busy attracting flies down at the bottom. The cloaking device was already gone, his task was done. The Southern Cross knew immediately where the city is located, now.

But Toad wasn't quite satisfied. Essex had ordered him months ago to make sure that the rebels were killed, by his own hand. What better way then to nuke the entire town? Sure, his life wouldn't last any longer, but then he'd be busy fucking the brains out of some beautiful girl on cloud nine shortly thereafter (once this being, Apocalypse, came to the world). Essex had even promised it, and his word was good as gold. Though the drugs that he was on made him just a little more susceptible to the notion. So it was gonna get real hot out there, but real soon.

He attached the explosive to the main power artery. The explosion would set off a chain reaction leading to the big boom. Toad turned around, detonator in hand, ready to set it off, when a large, bearded man whipped him across the face with a club.

Toad tumbled backward, dropping the detonator. He backflipped and came to standing. Steven raised the pistol, ready to punch a hole through Toad's head with a bullet, when the mutant lashed out his tongue, wrapping it tightly around Steven's gun toting-hand. The tongue then ripped the hand clean off.

Steven screamed in pain and his body began to go into shock. Toad spat the loose appendage out to the side, and rushed for the detonator. He grabbed it and punched the bottom.

The explosion beeped.

Steven struggled to think. It was the voice that was carrying him now.

It beeped again.

Third beeps a charm, asshole! You know what needs to be done!

Steven stood up and rushed to the explosive, ripping it off the pipe with his last bit of strength. He ran with all his might to get as far away as possible, and then fell on the bomb.

One life for thousands.



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