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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 6

The last week had been a haze for Valerie Allgood. A feast of tranquilizers and something called “truth serum” had been pumped through her veins daily. Pinhole burns lined her arms now. When she had been stuck so many times in her arms that no veins were available, they went further down to her legs, and then her feet. She didn’t want to know where they would go next. At any given time, she was never more than half-awake, only a witness to her surroundings and never an active participant.

The Resistance had at last fallen. When Scott Summers, Henry McCoy, and company had left the underground complex, she had prepared for a full frontal assault, knowing that they either revealed their location to Essex, or had known better than to stick around. But it didn’t happen as she expected. A single creature had breached their defenses. The arachnid- like fiend crawled silently along the ceilings towards their energy generators, and cut the power. It slaughtered everyone. It hissed and cried out in ecstasy as it brutalized its prey, favoring either evisceration or decapitation. Small arms fire did nothing to it. Its symbiotic body seemed to absorb and dissipate bullets.

When it found her cornered, Valerie was the last survivor. It had smeared blood all over itself in some primal ritual. She caught a glimpse of it through the shining of a flashlight-and she remembered its empty white killer’s eyes. It smiled and showed its jagged teeth that dripped venom. When the fluid hit the ground, it sizzled and burned through the metal. It leaped at her and smashed its arm into the side of her skull, knocking her unconscious.

But the image of the creature remained etched in her mind, both hideous and bloodthirsty.

She spent her days and nights strapped on to an uncomfortable gurney and already developed bedsores. Shifting only made the straps tighten, especially around her neck. Her only escape, sleep, was followed by the terrible nightmares of the spider-creature. Even when she did rest, it was never really rest, as she faded in and out of sleep. Valerie’s will to live was quickly diminishing.

It was night, of that she was sure. The lights were dimmed as usual, though the scientists (or were they doctors, or even witch doctors?) were absent. The automatic door hissed open and a man walked in. His black-on- gray leather vest hid him well in the darkness. On his back, a massive sword swayed with his movements. Its hilt was adorned with several rubies that reflected the minimal light in the room.

Walking to her, the man ripped her straps off and unmercifully tore her IV lines from out of her feet. Unknown to her, they opened wounds and began to spill out blood.

“Get up”.

Too weak to move, Valerie could only focus on the pain in her feet.

Graydon Creed did not ask again. Grabbing her head, he pulled her from the bed and her body hit the cold metal floor with a sickening thud. Creed pulled her along until she put her feet down. He paused and gave her a moment to comply with the request.

Reaching out to his leg, she gripped it for support to stand. He seized her hand and threw it off, forcing her to fall on her face. Again, she tried to stand, and finally managed it.

Her crystal blue eyes had become glazed over, giving the impression that she was far-gone. She still managed to get a decent view of her visitor. The man appeared to be Germanic in ethnicity. His short, red hair and deep gray eyes were the most defining of his features. His handsome appearance only masked the internal cruelty that resided within him. He was very tall, perhaps a full foot taller than she, and heavily muscular. His overbearing size and the scornful look on his face told her that she had better not fuck with him.

Creed walked behind her, pushing her when she began to slow her pace. Walking through several corridors, he finally brought her to an elevator. After pressing his palm against a reader and speaking into a terminal, the door opened, and he pushed her inside. Seizing the moment, she slumped in a corner. Then, the elevator began a freefall that seemed to last for a very, very long time. It screeched loudly as it descended far into the earth.

At last, it halted, and the door was thrown open. A disgusting heat wave erupted from the room that lay ahead. Creed turned to look at her, and she came to standing immediately.

“Good. You learn quickly”.

The room that they entered was lit only by torchlight. Deep black obsidian walls that had been purposefully crafted by man were visible on either side. Upon a closer look, she saw that there were actually people stuck inside the walls. It seemed at first that they were merely sculptures, but their looks of agony and final terror suggested otherwise. She wondered if such a fate awaited her.

They came to a flimsy bridge. Underneath flowed an acidic smelling substance that flowed from a grate on wall to the other, where it emptied. Several bodies, halfway submerged, were carried in the flow. As they passed by, they hissed loudly as they dissolved. This must be the River Styx, Valerie thought as she crossed the bridge.

On the other side, something more terrible than anything else she had ever seen awaited. A giant bone-throne stood like some demonic monument. Skulls lined the arms, femurs the seat, and rib bones the back. The man that sat in it made the throne pale in comparison. His ghost-white face had a perfect red diamond tattoo on his forehead. He wore purple-black armor on his massive body. This was Nathaniel Essex, but then again, it was also something much, much worse.

“Valerie Allgood, at last we meet,” he said in a phantasm voice. Coming to standing, he walked over to a door behind his throne and pulled it open. “You have been waiting to meet me all your life,” he said as a macabre smile stretched across his face. “I am your master.”

Taking her arm, he began leading her to the door. “Mr. Creed, have you assembled the Marauders?”


“Good. Let your woman lead them, and give her specific instructions to kill LeBeau. I don’t care about the rest of them, though their termination is preferred. And remember, they are to take the doppelganger to draw them in. She has studied Rogue long enough to mimic her perfectly. Send them all to the facility in Maryland. That will be their destination.”

“Are you sure of this?”

“My source has predicted it. I rarely question her mystical vision, when she promises its accuracy.”

“Nathaniel, I will not be joining them?”

“No. I need you here. There are other matters that need your attention, locally.”

“Very well,” Creed responded before turning to leave.

Sinister looked at the girl who looked like she had just come back from a vacation on the seventh level of hell. “Now that we’re alone…”

The chamber was built with sterile steel walls-a sudden departure from the obsidian structure. Only one thing of interest was contained within it-a gigantic mirror, the size of a drive-in theatre screen, rested against the wall. Latin words were carved into the top of it.

“Abandon All Hope, all Ye Who Enter Here-taken from Dante’s Inferno,” she managed to say.

Essex raised an impressed eyebrow. “Do you believe the warning, dear?”


“Good. What you see is called the Siege Perilous, a portal that leads to an ethereal plane that has gateways to other worlds. On the other side rests terrible and great things, among which is my master. Does it surprise you that I have a master, dear heart?”

She stared forward, unsure how to answer that question.

“It requires a great deal of effort to open, you see, and you are the final piece to that puzzle. You will do well to remember that it can only receive things into this world. Anything that enters the portal will be killed, instantly. I doubt that you and your telepathic peers will be able to open it far enough to let the master through. That requires some real ability. Though you may be able to open it far enough to let something else through…”

Shutting her eyes tightly, she realized that she was living a nightmare far worse than anything up to this point. She was the unwilling servant of the devil.

Smiling at her, he advanced and tore the gown from her body. She stood before him naked, shivering with fear. The demon threw her the ground and pinned her. Her heart pounded, feeling like it would explode inside her chest. It reached between her legs and forced her to spread them. Its forked tongue licked against her neck, causing her to quiver even more. It felt like ice on her naked skin. He rubbed his hands across her breasts and slid them down and touched her there. Finally, he reared back and thrust himself inside her. It felt like a massive and jagged icicle reaching into and tearing through her. She screamed for hours for help that would never come.

Every seat at the table in the conference room of the Lenscher estate was filled with a body. Nearly a dozen people talked all at once, creating a constant murmur of voices. Within a few minutes, Eric would enter the room with Wraith and a meeting of grand proportions would take place.

William McTavish had been talking with the Mayor of Calgary for the past hour, going over every possible scenario.

The two men walked into the room. Will took a seat between Peter and a man whom he had not yet met, who appeared nearly as old as the Mayor himself. Later, Wraith learned that the man was Forge, of whom he had heard much about.

Clearing his throat, Eric leaned against the table, and carefully descended into the chair at the end of the table. At once, a silence unfolded. Like King Arthur presiding over the Round Table, Eric held a magnificent presence despite his decrepit condition. He wore nobility and righteousness like a divine crown.

“I wish you all a pleasant evening, friends. I would like to welcome you all in good spirits, but our purpose at hand, it seems, prevents it. All you know why we are here-to discuss the future.”

Several people stirred as the ancient man paused.

“We are in a race with the enemy to find a man named Charles Xavier, who is undoubtedly the world’s most powerful telepath, and arguably, the greatest ally we can hope to have. But he can also be our worst enemy, if he falls into the wrong hands. So we must decide, here and now, should we pursue this goal in finding him?”

After a few moments of uncomfortable silence, Gambit spoke up. “I haven’t ever told any of you dis’, but I used to know Essex a while back. I actually used to work jobs for him.” He felt several cold, hard stares locking on him.

“Charles Xavier was a name that came up a lot around then. I always had de’ suspicion that Essex had somethin’ to fear from de’ man. To make a long story short, Essex finally found and captured him. For my own reasons, I freed him and helped him escape. After dat’, Sinister was none to pleased. Wraith, you found me after dat’ incident. My point in all dis’ is that if Essex wanted him that bad, he must be afraid of him. Right now, we got our backs to the wall. We need a way to kill the bastard.”

After speaking, Gambit surveyed the room, expecting that his companions would think of him as some kind of turncoat. Instead, most seemed to be nodding with what the Cajun had just said, reaffirming his role within the group.

Peter stood. “I do not agree with this. We should not bother searching for a man that does not want to be found. We should take the direct road to our enemies, and crush them accordingly.”

Next, Wraith spoke. “That’s fine and dandy there, Peter, but you have to remember that Cyclops was the only way to take Sinister down, that we knew of. This guy Xavier might be able to find a weakness”.

“Perhaps what you say is correct, comrade”, Peter said, taking his seat.

“Are we settled on the issue then?” Eric asked the table. “Very well then. I suppose before you discuss the next step, I should disclose this information. In our last meeting, Charles had told me that nobody would know where to find him. Though he had the foresight to see that the need to locate him may eventually arise.” Looking directly at Bobby Drake, Eric said “he implanted his location in the unconscious of a young man, without even his own knowledge. Thus, it seems, that young master Drake is the key to finding Charles Xavier.”

Bobby’s eyes became as wide as saucers, not believing that his former mentor had entrusted him with such an important piece of information. “Hold on just a minute there. I think that I would remember something at least!” the young man lashed out.

Shaking his head, Eric said “no, Bobby. He entered your mind and planted the location far into your mind. He confided this to me on our last night together, as I have said. It will require another telepath to extract it. We will need to find one in order to find Charles. There is no other way around it.”

“Alright, I’ll bite. How do we find a telepath?” Dazzler asked.

“ Simple. We know that Essex has several under his power, and I know that he keeps them in a building located in Baltimore, Maryland. I imagine that it is probably nearly the same as the one you two (referring to Colossus and Gambit) were held. Several of you must infiltrate the place and free one. Or more.”

Continuing, Eric said “I wish that I could accompany you, but I fear that in my age, I would only be a liability. Besides, there is one among you that is far more qualified as a field commander than I. Wraith, I believe you should assemble a team out of everyone willing to go.”

The decision was not a difficult one for Wraith. He picked Gambit and Colossus as his enforcers, Dazzler for her firepower, and Bobby simply because there was no guaranty that they would be able to head back to Calgary after they found a telepath. If they found a telepath. He also requested that Hawkeye accompanied them, reasoning that his ability as a sniper and his vast combat experience would make him invaluable. During the meeting, they were introduced to another mutant named Alexis Allgood, who served in the Resistance with her sister, Valerie, whom they had met in Washington D.C. Her mutant ability, to morph her skin into particles of sand, was a vicious weapon in nearly every combat situation. It also allowed her to slip between narrow crevices, an extremely valuable tool in clandestine operations. More importantly, she was a veteran who knew how to fight and how to deal with living on the road.

None of these things really seemed to matter to Peter, however, who commented to Remy that she had one helluva body, which momentarily made him forget his feelings for Allison. Her beach-blond hair and tanned skin gave her the appearance of a surfer-girl who was more accustomed to biknis than combat. She had, as Peter put it, curves in all the right places. Her good nature, in addition to her flawless appearance, was an instant magnet for every male in the group.

Through constant nagging, Bobby succeeded in convincing Wraith to accept one last member. John St. Clair insisted that even if they left him behind, that he would follow them close behind. You can’t find loyalty like that everyday, Wraith had thought to himself.

Forge constructed a fuel-efficient vehicle several months ago that would make the journey in relative comfort. A modified microbus outfitted with a hybrid engine that fed off solar energy and alcohol based fuel. It contained several bunks and room enough to spread out, and contained a powerful enough engine to outrun many of the Southern Cross interceptors. Once loaded with supplies, the eight boarded it, and began their road trip to Baltimore.

It was shortly after sunrise a day after the meeting when they gathered at Forge’s garage and found the microbus. Wraith walked past everyone standing in front of the vehicle that they affectionately named the War Wagon, and said “alright folks, let’s kick the tires and light the fires.”

Peter climbed in the driver seat and immediately placed a pair of cheap sunglasses over his eyes. He inserted a tape into the deck and smiled when the Beach Boys came on.

Round, round, get around, I get around, yeah get around, whooo, I get around….

Nodding and grinning confidently, he turned the engine. Slamming the gas pedal to the floor, the tires squealed, and the microbus peeled out from its stationary position. He looked thuggish, dressed simply in torn blue jeans and a white tank top that seemed to accentuate his massive biceps. Gambit appraised his friend with a curious look, wondering about his choice of music. He remembered when he was much younger, whenever he and his brother Henri and the age-group members of their guild were gearing up to get into a fuckin’ pisser, they would blast Blackfoot or Molly Hatchet. Here, Colossus, the embodiment of toughness, was listening to the Beach Boys…Gambit decided that he would volunteer in an hour to take the wheel, giving him choice over music.

As he suspected, Graydon found his wife tending to her luscious garden. He watched her silently behind a groove of bushes, thinking back to a story he had read by Nathaniel Hawthorne many years ago about a scientist who had a beautiful daughter that spent nearly all of her time in the garden, growing exotic plants and flowers and frolicking among them. When she took a lover, he found that the scientist had actually made his daughter from his mad experiments, not unlike a plant grown within the garden behind their home. Upon kissing the girl, he realized that the unnatural girl was actually poisonous. The venom from her lips ended the poor bastard’s life shortly thereafter.

It was Lorna’s green hair that made him think of the story. Green- the color of poison…yet, it is hidden behind unequaled beauty…He wondered how many beautiful women led the poor bastard lovers to their death with the promise of their love. He could think of at least one example that would occur in the very near future.

The doppelganger, for all intents and purposes, was Rogue. Her mannerisms, facial expressions, and accent were identical. She was the weapon that would slay Remy LeBeau.

“Lorna. It is time.”

Looking up, she dropped her watering bucket and walked to her husband. Together, they walked to the front of their estate and climbed into the back of a limousine, which took them to the Southern Cross headquarters in Marietta, Georgia. They took a moment to say their goodbyes.

“Darling, won’t you come with?” she purred lovingly at him.

“Quit fucking around. You know I was ordered to stay here.”

“Did he explain why?”

“Yes. Apparently, we lost control of the Juggernaut. We tracked him heading for California at first, but for some godamned reason, he turned around, like he was heading this way. We don’t know where he is-I can’t fucking understand that. How do you lose something the fucking big? Anyway, I may be needed to put the poor bastard out of his misery. You’ll be taking his replacement up north with you. He’s in the back of the eighteen-wheeler.”

Nodding, she leaned forward and kissed him gently, before grabbing his balls and squeezing suddenly. Creed cringed in pain, and pushed her off him.

“You lousy cunt, get the fuck out of here.”

“Don’t worry baby, I’ll be careful and I’ll get the job done”, she said, getting out of the car and approaching the assembled crew of Marauders.

He watched her as the limo pulled out. I love her more than life itself, Graydon thought.

Lorna appraised the team, admiring her husband’s selections. First, the doppelganger, which had already adopted Rogue’s form, stood with her arms crossed. As for the core members, there was Sean Cassidy, a seasoned fighter with a great intellect. Beside him was Marrow, the sickly looking women that had spent the better part of her life lurking underground. A new member, known only as Edge, possessed the ability produce metal objects, normally throwing and combat knives, from his body. To the side, a strange individual donning clown makeup stood sharpening a machete. The sadistic and unpredictable Tookesberry was easily the most dangerous among them. He cherished reveling in both his and other people’s pain. He collected human ears as trophies, and displayed them proudly on his fisherman’s vest. He possessed a healing factor that made him nearly invulnerable. Their final member was being held in the back of the trailer connected to the huge truck that sat behind the group. She knew its name, Hazard, the project perfected by Cameron Hodge recently and designed to replace the Juggernaut. It was powered by a portable nuclear generator and as a result, was highly radioactive. He was specifically brought out to destroy the Russian. Presently, it rested inside a stasis chamber.

Lorna felt something strange in the air, almost like an unseen storm was approaching. She felt something oddly poetic about the feeling, thinking of her enemies as poor, lost sailors about to be caught in the wake of a relentless tempest. The sea would swallow them, sending them straight to a forgotten grave at its bottom.

Indeed, she was sure that a storm was approaching those foolish bastards even as they stood here. And she was its eye.


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