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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 9

A dull, thick fog filled the morning air. Moistened dewdrops clung lazily the thousands of grass blades across the field. On the other side of the spacious meadow, the city of Marietta remained in a dreamy slumber. The various chirps and whistles of birdsong announced the morning. In half an hour, a Southern Cross bugler would play while a Color Guard raised the flag in ritual. Until then, the soldier population of the city would dream fancifully of building great, winding staircases into the sky and then climbing them, where they would meet the gods and address them as equals.

The proud and the righteous inflict no greater insult than to tempt fate, the wicked and benevolent weaver of things to be.

From a clearing in the foggy field, a massive shape emerged, quaking the earth as it stepped. It had been seven weeks since his encounter with the little Indian woman that had warped his mind. Juggernaut walked uninterrupted across the country and had at last found his destination- Marietta, Georgia, a modern day Rome, sparkling in sunglow and protected under the iron hand of an unmatched army. Like the god’s battering ram, he would raze the prideful city into a parking lot.

Juggernaut stood idly for a moment, appraising the place where his former masters mapped the future. And then with channeled fury, he burst forth into a locomotive like run, sinking the ground as he advanced. Instead of waking to another day of glorious progress, the citizens of Marietta would rise with their city under siege. Though many would never get the chance to even leave their beds.

A bulky street sweeper pushed the layers of pollen and dust that collected during the night into the air into the storm drains. Underneath the street, a man received a generous helping of the gunk over his body. Most of the homeless living in the city slept in the drains loathed the sweepers that awoke many of them, forcing them to feel the aftereffects of last night’s drinking binge. This one barely noticed it, even when showered with the murky street-substance. He only tore off his overcoat and continued fidgeting with a device.

Dr. Henry McCoy had not slept in three weeks, actually. Whenever he could manage it, he had snuck over to the bone cages and fed Rogue whatever food or water available. Circumstances demanded that he donned a cloak as to not allow her to know his identity. He felt more than a partial responsibility for her being there and could not face to hear her accusations of his treachery. The accusations, of course, would be entirely correct.

It had been several days since he had seen her last and Henry began to honestly worry about her. The pain emanating from his head was becoming intolerable, leading him to the conclusion that whatever treatment that Essex had given him was running its final course. The last stage was a painful and slow death.

In a desperate last ditch effort to save his life, McCoy spent the last week creating a device aimed to short-circuit the bug that was planted deep within his skull. He worried a little that the cure might be much worse than the disease-fooling around with one’s brain could lead to a life as a vegetable. The shame and guilt of seeing Rogue wilting away drove him to accept any risk. He had to amend his betrayals, no matter the cost.

He shoved the jagged metal spike deep within his nostril and activated the machine which shot tiny pulses of sound waves into his brain. Every few seconds, it switched frequencies. With any luck it would hit the correct one and disable the bug. His body shut down almost completely in the process.

His jaws clamped down tightly, toes curled, and fingers dug into the mud around him. The only awareness was that of the sound that hummed like torturous pulses. The street sweeper passed by several more times, though he did not know it. While never slipping from consciousness, Henry felt a million miles away from his body. After several minutes, his fear of losing complete control over himself seemed affirmed.

Above ground, a tremendous rumbling was occurring. There were sirens, screaming, gunfire, and the sounds of vehicles rolling over the street at high speeds. But what caught Henry’s attention was the feeling of something crawling down his nasal passage. With a great deal of effort, Henry reached up and pulled out the metal rod. The descending bug was uncomfortable and then very painful, but he could do nothing about it. When it finally fell out, revealing itself to be a bloody lump of metal, his head was actually feeling quite a bit better. The clouds had lifted. The incessant throbbing was completely gone.

Despite the fact that the city above ground was being completely destroyed, Beast stood and smiled. Sunlight beamed down upon his dirty face from the steel drain. He savored it, feeling reborn. Allowing himself only a few moments to feel the unbridled joy of being a part of the living once again, he leapt down the tunnel towards the nearest manhole. His first act of redemption would be to free Rogue from the brittle bone cage that hung her over oblivion. The possibility that she had already fallen pushed him to run faster, clumping down his oafish feet into the muck. It seemed rare when time was ever on his side.

On the same day Graydon Creed was knighted into the Crimson Circle, he learned of his wife’s death. When Banshee and Marrow stumbled into the ceremony hall, announcing their defeat and the involvement of the White and Black Circles, he knew that she was gone.

While the city quickly emptied, Creed remained behind with Essex to oversee the completion of the summoning. The rest of the Crimson circle had evacuated the city. Marrow and Banshee, now the Captain of the nearly defunct Marauders, fled along with them. In the last hour, Essex would open a portal and they, along with Strounge and the collection of enslaved telepaths, would escape Juggernaut’s wrath. With any luck, LeBeau and the others would make it into the city before then in their futile effort to recover Scott Summers. It would be there where Graydon Creed would await LeBeau for their final meeting.

The Siege Perilous was now open. Strounge was in his last hour of incantations. When the demon was called forth, there would be nothing to stop them.

Presently, Creed rested against the hilt of his claymore stuck within the ground. Soldiers raced past him to set up a roadblock.

He mouthed her name over and over again, feeling the pain roll through him each time. His cranium pulsated. He struggled for breath. He felt like his limbs were strapped to the blades of a rotating windmill while he struggled to learn which way was up. That wasn’t really what mattered. He wanted to learn which way led to her. The only love he had ever known-the woman that had been put specifically on this earth just for him. Her voice, her eyes, her hair, her love of nature, her love of sex, and her love for him…Creed would never experience them again. The thought made him vomit. With each heave, he purged a part of himself from his soul. At the end of it, he felt pure. Things became very quiet. The warmth of what remained was soothing. Numbing. Accepting it was the easiest thing that he had ever done. Every breath from here on was for a single purpose-to feed the hatred that would enact a final act of vengeance. He would hurt LeBeau badly before he killed him. And he knew exactly how to tear out LeBeau’s still-beating heart and to show it to him. That sweet little vengeance involved the death of another- someone very close to Gambit. Someone who meant as much to him as Polaris meant to Creed. That would be justice.

Creed spun around and began walking back to the fortress, where he would find Rogue as they left her, rotting in a bone cage. He walked at a fierce pace. Though time was on his side, he hungered greatly for the feeling of her blood on his blade.

Within an hour, the dust rising from the city blocked out the sun. Sporadic tracer fire skidded across the sky. Explosions came at various times, usually followed by a tremendous rumbling when a building toppled over. Aside from the city capital, the skyline was empty now. It was clear from the path of destruction that Juggernaut was heading that way. Beyond it was Essex’s fortress. That was their destination.

Many miles away, John and Bobby sat on top of the microbus and watched the lightshow. They both smoked cigarettes in silence. Sedated, Allison was inside resting due to her broken collarbone. The young men stayed behind to watch her while the others made for the fortress, intending to save Scott Summers and to recover a telepath to unlock the secrets of Charles Xavier’s whereabouts that were locked away in Bobby’s head.

One way or another, it would all come to in end in a few hours. Though he didn’t say it, John expected that they would never see Peter, Remy, Alexis, Wraith, Clint, or even Pietro again. Then it would be up to him and Bobby to continue the fight.

His cigarette spent, he reached into his coat pocket and produced another. He looked at Bobby and read that the same thing was on his mind. They were a part of this thing now, whether they wanted to be or not. And John had more or less accepted his role as Bobby’s guardian. If John died, all hope would not be lost. It was Bobby that needed to survive at all costs. For that reason, John resigned himself to block every shot fired his friend, if need be. He flicked a flame at the end of his cigarette, took a deep drag, and continued watching as a series of explosions ripped through the city.

Colossus had been embroiled in street fighting for the better part of two hours. Thinking him the lesser threat, several contingents of Southern Cross soldiers attempted to engage him with rocket propelled grenades and anti-tank weaponry. No doubt, when he came out of metal form his flesh would be sporting several dozen fresh and nasty bruises. He had been knocked in the dirt countless times throughout the day. But he always came back to standing and destroyed his enemies where they stood, usually too scared to react or far too slow in their retreat.

Fighting against the soldiers was a mild catharsis for the Russian. They may have been a different nationality wearing different uniforms, but they were the same. They were broken killing machines that had left their humanity far behind in Peter’s eyes. Every one he crushed to death was had the same face as the soldier that had bashed his father’s head in with the butt of his rifle until Pavel Rasputin no longer breathed. They were the same one that forced his mother to parade around the other soldier’s naked while they howled with laughter. They were the same ones that came every three months and confiscated their farm’s crop yield, leaving them scant food for their own use. Soldiers had limitless potential for cruelty. Of this, Peter had accepted over the years.

The morning was not unlike any other. Permafrost covered the farmland when Peter rose in the early morning to feed the cattle. It had been nearly a year when his father had been killed, leaving the fourteen year old Peter Rasputin as the sole provider for his sickly mother and his beautiful sister, Illyana. His extended family inhabited the farm as well, though most of his older male cousins had already been taken in by the army. All that was left was the sick and the elderly. In those days, young Russian peasant females had little choice in life but to marry a stable husband or to flock to the cities to become a prostitute. Peter toiled much longer in the fields so that she could attend dance lessons. One day, his sister would go to Moscow to pursue a career in ballet, one day performing before the Soviet Premiere himself. Illyana was so graceful…so beautiful…

They came that morning, conscripting all the able-bodied young men from the countryside for the invasion of Alaska. Already at six foot five and teasing three hundred pounds of mostly muscle, the Red Army had great plans for young Peter. The rode up in a rickety personnel truck, kicking up mud and rocks along the dirt road that led the neighboring farm. Carrying AK-47s and wearing dirty uniforms, the soldiers rounded up the rest of his family, and then announced that Peter had been conscripted. Knowing Illyana’s fate without him to be there to finish her workload, Peter refused. The soldiers scoffed, almost like they had hoped that he would be uncooperative. They restrained him and then beat him into the mud. One of them stomped his filthy boot into the back of Peter’s head and pinned him to the ground. The others surrounded Illyana and began tearing off her clothes. She cried out, though it only enticed them further. They dragged her to the barn where each of the seven soldiers took a turn raping her. At the end, she even tried to escape for them, crying out to Peter all along. All that he could do was cry helplessly, face down in the mud. A shot rang out and she fell. The soldier that pinned him to the ground had killed his sister. Even the others stared at him like he was some kind of monster, shooting the girl in the back in cold blood. Peter looked up at him with cold hatred, and the soldier looked back down at Peter knowing that he owned him at that moment. Peter closed his eyes and damned the harsh and merciless bitch of a life that he led.

Peter Rasputin died that day, and was reborn into a new man that was unbreakable in every sense of the word-not the training instructors, not the brass covered officers, not the enemy, nobody could break him. He was driven on by a resolve to destroy evil in every form. At the end of the world, he would remain as the goodness of humanity’s champion. Of this, he was sure.

With a roar, he broke through yet another roadblock, watching as the Southern Cross soldiers scurried like rats. He swatted through them, one by one, ending a life each time. He grabbed one by the back of his neck and swung him around. He stared back at Colossus, scared out of his wits. His thin, bloodless lips quivered in fear. Around his neck, Peter saw that he wore a locket. With his other hand, he yanked it off and opened it. Inside was a picture of a young girl, possibly a sweetheart, but maybe it was his sister. He dropped the young soldier. Colossus was faced with a new realization-that this young man could very well have been him. He handed him back the locket, allowing his much smaller hand cautiously reach into his armored fist to retrieve it. The young man then ran for his life. Peter hoped that he deserted the Southern Cross to be with the young woman. Peter decided, for the sake of his own comfort, that was the choice the young soldier made. He walked away slowly, still unbroken, more committed than ever before. The fortress lay ahead.

As luck would have it, Gambit had taken the worst possible route. He battled his way through literally several dozen soldiers and was feeling every bit of it. The quarterstaff was knotted from parried gunshots and fatal striking blows. His armored breast plate was marked up from taking several hits from blunt objects. He fought hard and well, dropping each opponent within seconds. The fights occurred with far lesser frequency now. Juggernaut had killed most of them. Remaining soldiers either retreated or were making a last stand at the fortress. Remy hoped for a change in luck in being able to sneak past them.

It seemed as if fate was guiding him down the only safe path now. Through alleyways and the jumping across the occasional rooftop, Remy made it past the last few blockades. Gambit rushed down an abandoned street when Graydon Creed stepped out of a burning building, with his massive claymore still resting on his shoulder harness. This was when he realized that fate was not smiling down upon him at all. It was leading him to fulfill a destiny. He just could not figure out if it was his, or Creed’s day it planned to make.

Gambit gripped his own weapon tightly, preparing for yet another fight. This one promised to be brutal.

“LeBeau…I’ve been waiting for you a long time now.”

Smirking, Remy responded “ain’t like you to jabber on fore’ a fight, homme. Why don’ we skip the chitchat and get on wit’ it, eh?”

Creed stared back, stone-faced and unflinching. Yet, he still did not reach back for his weapon. “Do not worry. We will come to that business shortly. But first, you must know something.” Finally, he reached into his vest and produced a knife. Gambit reared back in a defensive posture, ready to parry the blade with the staff. Instead, Creed held it aloft and let Gambit view it. It was dripping with fresh blood.

“You’re too late, Remy. Take this every bit as painfully as I took it when Lorna died. Rogue is dead. I sliced her bare throat open with this very blade.”

At that moment, Remy was not sure he could continue standing. He felt as if Juggernaut had just punched as hard as possible in the stomach.

“No…I don’t believe you,” Gambit said, though he could not convince himself that Creed was lying. The man had no reason to lie about it, and he had every opportunity to kill her. Gambit had even given him a reason by killing Polaris.

“I truly wish you were there to see it, Remy. She struggled briefly, even after I cut her open. At least Lorna died quickly. Rogue was not given that chance.” Creed threw down the blade in front of Remy, and it stuck in the ground. Remy watched as the droplets of blood trickled down it.

Gambit only saw red. He swung his staff around and charged at his mortal enemy.


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