X-Men: Sanctuary Issue # 7 By Kyle Phoenix

X-Men: Sanctuary Issue # 7 By Kyle Phoenix

"War, The Preamble"
Roster:
Northstar 
Magma 
Shadowcat 
Peter Rasputin, Jr. 
Black Bishop 
Psyche 
Paulie 
Spike 
Frenzy 
Karma 
Chamber 
Nightcrawler 
Iceman 
Talisman


Sanctuary Base, Australia:

"We're impressed with the speed which you've gotten this base up linked to the Xavier Institute in America," Emma smiled as they strolled through the main control center, almost a mile below the surface.
"I've had quite a bit of experience getting large organizations up and running, even a country or two, Ms. Frost. I do see it as a unique challenge though to be welcomed into the "X-Family"," he said politely.
"Coming from a man with a personal telepathic shielding device, how do we know that we can trust you?" she asked coyly.
Alex grinned. "I allowed Charles to psi scan me in several of our initial meetings. He was satisfied. The psi screen is for my privacy as I still retain sensitive information about several governments."
"But, Mr. Rosten, how will we know if you've betrayed us to one of those governments you're protecting?" Emma asked directly, her eyes focused on him so directly he wondered briefly if the psi shield was working and how well. After all the telepaths it had been tested against weren't in Charles or Emma league. What if Charles had lied about it's effectiveness against a truly power telepath.
"I agreed for Charles to implant a deep subconscious reaction within me that will create a "tell" if you will."
"Yes, I know. Charles tells me everything," Emma said matter of factly.
"I doubt it, but I'm sure he finds it pleasing to allow you to believe so," Alex said smoothly then IT appeared interrupting what was about to erupt into a full on confrontation.
IT announced in it's calm, digitized voice, "Alex, I'm picking up several transmissions from the Brazilian air force concerning a unique situation. The locators within the X-Men's comm links place them on the outskirts of the Brazilian coast by their relative speed and height, I would surmise an aircraft of some sort. The unique aspect of the situation is that supposedly the air force is in pursuit of a floating island."
"That is odd," Alex admitted as IT's forehead expanded into a holographic screen showing several jets pursuing a floating chunk of land about five miles in circumference.
"I take it the X-Men's locators are scattered throughout the island?' Emma asked dryly.
"Affirmative, Ms. Frost," IT replied.
"It would be so. They have a way of involving themselves in the most surprising situations. I guess that's why Talisman whisked them away so abruptly. Shall we continue the tour?" Emma said, bored with IT's report.
"Don't you want to help?" Alex asked.
"How? And with what? A telepath and a governmental manager certainly can't land an island nor deal with whatever force the X-men are facing. If they die, shouldn't I have familiarity with this base for the next generation of X-Men?"
"That's cold, woman!"
"Actually, Mr. Rosten, that's from Xavier's own protocols. Seems I know things that both you and he might be surprised at. Though occasionally maudlin, Charles is deliciously efficient about mutants. Some live, some die but those of us who manage and teach must trudge on, as it were."
"Alex, you might want to look at this," IT interrupted and replayed a satellite telecast of the island speeding over the Atlantic Ocean and then vanishing in a wash of energy.
"That's odd!" Emma snapped.
"Oh, that part is odd? The island flying is normal?" Alex snickered.
"No. I sense the X-Men----somewhat. It's hard to explain to a non- telepath. They're in some sort of transit but there's a powerful psychic link to this base. Move!" she shoved him out of the way and ran upstairs. He shrugged and followed.
"IT, get a full sensor sweep of the Sanctuary base and all possible energy wavelengths around us. Ms. Ice Telepath senses something."
"Understood, Alex. I am also detecting a spatial disruption. I believe a terminus point is opening on Gateway's ridge."

Talisman screamed as she'd never screamed before. She had instinctively reached for her strongest wards, her greatest stationary spell power points when the island Stargate had activated, and that was the Sanctuary base itself. Her power had been pushed to its limits, or rather her comprehension of how to use her power. While she possessed nearly unlimited mystical power, she was still growing in how to use them. A nuclear reactor still mastering electricity, she'd come to think of herself. But the concept of five thousand people being abandoned to these creatures was anathema to her, and she would blow every mystical fuse in her body to rescue them and destroy whatever it was that had started this whole abomination to begin with.
Holy Mother turned to her within the Stargate interdimensional haze and viciously grabbed Talisman's throat. "I will see you dead, bitch!"
"Not today, alien!" Nemesis said, rising from behind, swirling in golden energy and drove her sword deep into the woman's chest. At first Holy Mother seemed deeply wounded, her body slumping then her had snapped back up like a manikins.
Holy Mother laughed. "I am not even close to being human, you fool! The heart you strike for does not exist!" She was about to snap Talisman's throat when she felt a distinct power signature trying to pull the Stargate back to the Earth dimension. "No!"

Emma stood next to Gateway, both of them looking up into an energy portal, two thousand feet above them, that had yet to produce anything but two tendrils of energy that were firmly planted into the ground. The swirling energies looked like the teleportational field Gateway created but Emma sensed only a residual connection from the mutant to it. This wasn't his creation but someone was using his constant power base as a locus point.
"What do you make of this, old friend?" Emma chuckled. "Seems our Talisman refuses to let the enemy just snatch them away. This other tendril? Someone else?" Emma cautiously reached deeper into the portal with her telepathy and found a young man in a deep struggle to hold onto "the metal he knew....the biggest metal he knew". She realized the fragmented thought must've meant the Sanctuary base itself. As Alex Rosten came up behind them, Emma swept his mind, his surface thoughts clear enough to glean in spite of the device that kept thoughts he chose personal, found out who Peter Rasputin, Jr. was and hypothesized his powers from there. "Back both of you, seems Emma has to reinforce the conduit to our precious X-Men!" Emma Frost, her words bolder than she felt, dipped both of her hands into the energy tendrils and sent a psionic burst of power into them, focused on thinking of herself as a block of power that would not be moved. To the two novices she sent bursts of both strength and lightning fast intensive psi training on how to strengthen the tendrils until first the Shi'ar ship came through the portal and then a minute later there was the loudest explosion Emma had ever heard and the portal exploded into an island.
"Oh, shit!" Emma gulped; the three of them had been knocked to the ground by the eruption of energy and air pressure from the portal. The island hovered thousands of feet above the Sanctuary base for what seemed like an eternal moment and then like the big rock it was, it dropped.
"Bloody good work!" Alex shrieked sarcastically as he grabbed her and dove into a portal Gateway had opened for the three of them.


Like a song abruptly cut off, when the island returned to the Earth dimension, Magma could now hear her precious land below her again. Somehow they'd been brought back and more importantly she could sense that it was the Sanctuary base below them. The sudden updraft of the island plummeting told her exactly what she had to do. With a quick thought, the ground below her opened and Magma plummeted through the island itself, falling out the bottom of the island and towards the Sanctuary base below. She grinned in glee as she called forth her earth, her closest friend in many ways, to help. A spire of earth began rising, rising, faster than any mountain had risen in thousands of years to slam into the side of the plummeting island, knocking it from directly above the Sanctuary base.

Talisman and Nemesis slammed into the ground, trees from the island having suddenly sprung up and batted them down, both clutching Holy Mother who was thrashing violently at them. Magma's impromptu knocking of the island had lopsided it and insanely enough, slammed it into the airborne trio. The white cloaked woman finally kicked her way free and hundreds of Brood swarmed from the jungle and created a physical barrier between the X- men and the sorceress. Nemesis drew her sword up to slash her way through the throng but Talisman put her hand on her teammates.
"No! Have you noticed that they haven't attacked us as viciously as they could? There are thousands of them, even with our powers, they could simply bury us and kill us. The Brood are still human enough to hold back. Protect her, they will, but they won't harm us if we don't push it," Talisman theorized, though she felt as deep a rage as Nemesis. Too much was happening so fast; she couldn't allow Holy Mother to push them into foolish moves. And Talisman wasn't sure how much power she had left, she was seeing spots, her every limb trembled and she could taste blood in her mouth. She was draining too much of herself for this battle, she hadn't arrived at a point where she could battle so much, so many on so many levels so rapidly. Unfortunately, in many ways she was an intermediate at how to manifest magic for specific acts. Blunt power, yes, but finesse was where she needed more experience.
"What good does that do us?" Nemesis asked bitterly, she felt the power rising within her demanding release, demanding to deal with this vermin but Talisman was right.
"It weakens Holy Mother's threats!" Talisman said and soared into the air, calling upon all the wind spirits, calling upon the gravity spirits, casting an ever-expanding spell onto the island itself. She couldn't allow it to crash land.

"Peter!" Shadowcat shouted but Nightcrawler grabbed her arm as she tried to get closer to the glowing, writhing man.
"No, Katzchen, allow him to finish his work. He's acting as a circuit breaker to the Stargate, linking us back to the Sanctuary base!"
"He doesn't have that kind of power! It will kill him!" she cried but didn't phase out of her teammate's grasp, his reasoning overwhelming her panic at seeing Peter die. A Peter that so resembled her own lost Piotr. "We have to help him, somehow!"
"Then let's make ourselves useful!" Northstar said, grabbed her arm and swooped up into the air. "Phase us through the island itself; we'll destroy the Stargate from within."
"Yes!" Shadowcat said and a moment later they were zig zagging through the earth until they came upon several caverns full of machinery. Northstar stopped and Shadowcat allowed them to become tangible as she hurriedly examined the computers. "It was jury rigged together, looks like. From bits and pieces of Shi'ar technology that must've been left here over the years. It won't be hard to destroy and then we've got to get off of this dropping rock."

"Is it always this interesting?" Carlos chuckled as the small group of X-Men arrived at the front edge of the island, not daring to go any closer than twenty feet to where it abruptly dropped off into the sky above the Australian outback, thousands of feet below.
"We'll find out if we don't land this son of a bitch!" Warren laughed darkly. "Ok, Spike, Iceman, you two are in charge creating an ice/energy buttress as the forefront of this island. Coat the island in as much ice to soften the skid."
"Warren, we're a flung rock! We should jump ship!" Psyche shouted.
"This may be aerodynamically a rock but it's full of deadly Brood, we have to control where and how it lands. Not to mention we have to be alive when it does so!" he snapped back at her. "Now, if you have a better damn idea, then speak up!"
Psyche was shocked at how harshly he'd spoken to her but from his mind she felt only cool resolve to lead, to survive, to triumph. At first she was deeply hurt then she understood that she had started doubting him because of the whole Meridian drama. As his co-leader, she couldn't allow personal crap to get in the way.
"My mistake, Warren. I wasn't thinking. Chamber, Carlos, your powers are best served locating Karma and Frenzy, evacuating those who aren't suited to the task ahead."
"And me?" Paulie asked.
Warren nodded at the X-Man who's chest and face were a dazzling swirl of energy. "Chamber, give him the frequency to the Shi'ar scout ship, we'll use that to gather our teammates and get off of here. Paulie, you're in charge of plucking each and every X-Man off of here!"
I've got Hunter on a channel, he's coming in to pick you up, Paulie, and he's been staying within the Stargate terminus range for just such a maneuver, Chamber said to his teammate, slightly amazed at how calm they were all being about what was amounting to the implausible meeting the impossible.
"So I get to play Scotty and beam everyone off of this motherfucker, eh?' Paulie grunted, he had hoped for something a bit more challenging.
"We could just strap you to the front of the island and find out how invulnerable you really are," Iceman grinned.
"Hey, Scotty lives, I'm not looking to be sucking on earthworms with Thunderbird."
"Such a way with words," Iceman chuckled then took a deep breath then seemed to melt into the ground, but by the time his physical form had submerged into where his knees had been it began spreading out rapidly like a tidal wave of ice. The wave of ice began increasing in dimension, size, forming first around the twenty feet to the ledge and then encompassing the ground, forming into a wedge. Ice began rising up all around them as the X- Men backed up from the walls of ice racing through the jungle, surrounding it from the edge inwards.
"Come on, Cecelia, I've saved the best seat in the house for you!" the ice said from all around."
A pathway opened in the center of the ice wedge and Spike ran inside of it and found an ice chair made especially for her. As soon as she sat in it, the ice moved through the walls of ice until she was facing outwards, at the tip of the wedge, ice restraints around her waist and shoulders.
"Oh, shit, Bobby!" she muttered, "this is majorly freaky. I mean I knew you weren't exactly, well biologically organic when you did your icing up but I never figured you could just be ice, you know?"
"Relax, I'm learning to not think of myself as just ice or flesh anymore," Iceman said, his voice coming from all around her. "Just focus your shield into a reinforcing spike and curve the ends for when we hit. We need to move the ground out of the way. I'll keep reinforcing the ice within your spike so use the hardness from that to maintain solidity! Layers. Think layering. Hey, technically you're sitting on my face!" he laughed.
"I-I don't know how! I can't see it! I don't understand!" Spike screamed it was like being in a plane cockpit without the front of the plane; the ground was approaching so rapidly. "I also don't need to know that the ice is all you! Bastard!"
"Stay loose, I'm bringing help!" Iceman said and a moment later a bubble of ice erupted behind and slightly above Spike's, forming into a chair with restraints. And then Psyche came tumbling out of an ice shute.
"That was not fun, Iceman!" Psyche said and grabbed Spike's shoulders. "Focus on the image I'm going to give you, Cecelia, we don't die here. Trust that!"
"Ok, an image. I can see it. I can feel it! I get it. Geometry was my worse subject and now it's such a part of my powers. This is good. I understand!" Spike said as the necessary formation of her shield around the ice wedge was psychically pushed into her mind.
"Don't worry about the landing, I'm slowly pulling you guys out of the direct line of impact," Iceman said calmly.
"Looks like somebody has gone all Silver Galactus on us! Mr. Iceman scared of you!" Spike laughed her fear so intense that she couldn't do anything but whoop at the ride and cry hysterically as the ground approached so rapidly. She could make out roads now and what looked like hard, hard rocky ground below.
"Silver Surfer," Iceman corrected.
"I thought the planet eating guy was purple?"
"Never mind," Iceman laughed.
"Magma!" Psyche screamed into her comm link. "We could use some help here!"
On the ground, almost half a mile behind, riding a wave of earth, Magma chuckled. "I figured you would all surmise it was easier to land the island than destroy it! I'm ready!"
Magma raised her arms and the earth literally split open in front of her and then the fissure sped forward in the blink of an eye, expanding to an improvised landing strip. The hard rocky topsoil pushed aside for a softer soil beneath and then pushed forward to create a cushion as she tried to approximate how far she would have to continue expanding the strip. Talisman's spell had altered the weight and density of the island some what, it was no longer plummeting as quickly. It was more of sailing towards the ground now.
"Can someone please give me an idea of how far this has to go?" she called out over her comm link. "Miles?"
"Not too much farther! We're going to slow this behemoth down now!" Nemesis announced over the open link, having flown directly in front of the plummeting island. She grasped her sword in both hands above her head and it erupted with golden energy that at first seemed to slam into Spike and Iceman's wedge.
Spike screeched and closed her eyes but kept her arms extended to hold in place her plasma field. The golden energy tingled along her shield as if the shield were her own flesh then it grabbed firmly the entirety of the forward structure of ice and energy the two had created, using both as a guide and re-enforcer to coat the bottom of the island in the energy field that would buffer it in landing.
And incredibly enough, Nemesis pushed back against the thousands of tons of earth. She pushed with a valiant cry of indignation, that the island would simply not be allowed to push her, to push any further than she allowed. Though she was aware that physics wasn't on her side, the island had both weight and momentum, she knew that Talisman's spells were altering the normal physics around the rock. That meant that she too could do the impossible, that she could summon up powers that these X-Men didn't know she had in this guise and wield them as she did the sword that was part of her disguise. Perhaps when she no longer needed a mask to hide who she truily was, how she knew so many of them that her heart ached at being so close to them and having to protect her identity, they would understand, comprehend where this incredible power came from. But for now she would push, she would push with her sword, with her very soul until this blasphemous island came to rest.
"Great Spirits!" Psyche gasped as she felt a slight pushing back into her icy seat as Nemesis's power began shoving the island back, taking away slips of momentum.
"WHOOOOOOHOOOOO!" Iceman screamed from the entirety of his ice structure, expanding it to encompass the entirety of the front of the island and almost two thirds of the under belly, Spikes' shield following the flow and Nemesis following her, the tri-layer allowing them to hold the island, prevent it from crumbling and slow it's plummet.
There was a sudden wrenching from behind and Iceman felt through his icy "body" almost four miles wide, energy tendrils wrapping around the base of the island and pulling it backwards.
Warren looked up at the ragged Talisman, who was practically on fire with eldritch energy, wisps of demons and faeries soaring around her as the Crimson Bands of Cytorrak erupted from her hands and she visibly yanked at the island to slow it from behind.

"Dios! I never imagined you X-Men were so powerful!" Carlos muttered from the scout ship.
"And this is just on the fly, imagine what we could do with a little planning," Warren smiled; Nightcrawler had teleported them and Paulie onto the scout ship, their powers useless in such an endeavor.
"Dios, Warren, the X-Men are amazing!" Carlos chuckled then turned back to the communications board he was monitoring. Though he didn't read Shi'ar Hunter had quickly reprogrammed the viewers to display English. There was an incoming flashing message. "Chamber has located Karma and Frenzy."
"X-Men Exit Express. Be right back!" Nightcrawler said jovially and vanished in a burst of brimstone.
"Your comrades are indeed powerful but we have yet to deal with the original threat of the Brood," Hunter said as Warren leaned over his shoulder and intently watched the through the view screen the small island descending to the ground in a more controlled fashion. For a moment he felt a deep pang of regret or agony at not being able to stretch his wings and soar around the sky to at least have a bird's eye view of what was going on. He suddenly felt a sense of what others must've felt around him for years, envy at flying.
We have other matters to attend to first, then we will investigate what Meridian did to you, Carlos counseled psionically and Warren felt first ashamed and then embraced by the rapport. Psyche's attention was focused on strengthening Spike's mental focus but he could feel her out there too. He suspected that the rapport was similar to what Phoenix and Cyclops shared, that this is what bolstered him to be such a paragon leader in the X-men. Could this help him as well? But what of the more delicate parts of a trois rapport? Warren still felt a little frightened at the prospect of a rapport with Carlos, something so intimate shared with another man brought up questions of sexuality that Warren hadn't even considered before. To know another man so potentially intimately and not desire him seemed impossible now. So many questions swirling around that didn't even have anything to do with the crisis at hand.
"Hunter, can the sensors locate the two Holy Mother's?"
"Yes, they've retreated underground. Near to where your locators place Northstar and Shadowcat," Hunter said grimly. "And I don't know of a way to help them, they seem to literally be in the belly of the beast."

"If you take one step closer, I will kill them," the white cloaked man said, his hands erupting with barely contained eldritch energy.
Northstar and Shadowcat both considered what they could and couldn't do with their respective powers. Could they cross three hundred feet in the cavern and stop the mad mystic from blasting hundreds of unconscious children?
Shadowcat licked her lips and hoped that Northstar would follow her cue, they couldn't risk his letting one blast loose but they couldn't allow the threat to stand. "I take it this is the secret of San Madre? That these children are being kept prisoner? That this is why the transformed Brood haven't gone buck wild and killed us already? Why they've been holding back?" she said waving her arms at the insensate children littering the cavern floor.
The man spoke. "I am the other half of the Holy Mother. She speaks through me. Before the Holy Mother I was a fool, a man who had no power, no future. And now I am the right hand of a goddess! These children are not part of the nexus; they are useless for the transformation into soldiers. We will use them to go to the Broodworld and dominate it!"
"Besides the obvious transsexual overtones, tell me, how does insanity actually feel?" Northstar asked snidely.
Shadowcat bit her lip to keep back a dark smile, Northstar sure did have a way with words but he was a good contrast as she continued. "Listen, we don't want anyone to get hurt here. And I think Holy Mother has given you a slightly skewed perception of the Broodworld. I've been there. There are millions of Brood there. They will decimate you. Squash you like a bug.....ooops. Sorry."
"Nice analogy," Northstar sighed.
The male Holy Mother seemed to hesitate for a moment, unsure what to do. "You've been there? To the Broodworld?"
"Yes. Yes, I have. I was infected with a Queen egg. I survived. Look, I understand how maybe this far away from the home world you and Holy Mother have gotten a little twisted up on exactly what it's like but trust me when I say that you won't be able to just walk in there and take over," Shadowcat said, slowly stepping through the sleeping children towards what she was beginning to see was a young Latin man. He couldn't have been more than a year or two older than her. She suspected that he was a mutant and somehow Holy Mother was using him as a conduit and with her (hopefully) getting her ass royally kicked topside by the X-Men, he was without directions.
"Why did you give up the Queen Egg?" he asked, incredulous at such a refusal.
"Ummmm.....well, we sort of went through a Stargate with a friend and uhhh....I'm sorry but it didn't stay in," Shadowcat offered, lying about how it had been removed as well as dancing liberally around the X-Men making every effort to scrape, blast, destroy the abominations out of their bodies.
"Your words about being one of the infected are true but you're telling bits and pieces of the rest," the mystic said bluntly.
"Yeah, I'm a little freaked out here. Kids. Brood. You aiming that energy hand at them. I'm nervous. What's your name? No offense but it's hard to call you "Holy Mother"."
"Raphael. She said that we had to be like our soldiers, not individuals and we all called her Holy Mother when she came here. When she came to San Madre."
"Ok, Raphael, I take it you're from San Madre and some of these people are your friends and family? What started all of this? What happened?"
Raphael sighed heavily as if he'd wanted to relate this tale for some time now. "The Holy Mother came to the Church and she had a Queen Egg in a strange metal capsule with her. But she wouldn't use it on me or herself. She's infected but somehow she has power over the Brood, she controls them like Queen without becoming one in body. She implanted a woman who was in a coma. The Queen hatched but was comatose. Then she infected others but they follow Holy Mother because of her magicks and because she ate the Queen Egg," Raphael said calmly. "I was different. She said I had potential. I can do things but it gets confusing when we're apart."
"Ok, the ingesting part if way gross but I think you're a mutant like us, Raphael and that Holy Mother is controlling you, using you as her puppet to hurt your friends and family," Shadowcat said calmly. It seemed to be the longer he was away from Holy Mother the less her control of him was. And he had begun lowering his glowing hand, not wanting to harm the sleeping children.
"I don't want to hurt anyone," Raphael admitted and his hand began to dim. Shadowcat stepped slightly to the side as a signal and an instant later Northstar had slammed into the young man. With a dozen blows at once, the confused mutant was beaten unconscious.
"About time, I thought this was going the way of a bad talk show," Northstar growled.
"If Holy Mother controls the Brood to the extent of their not wanting her to hurt their children then we have her leverage over them," Shadowcat said racing to the computer consoles. She'd hated to betray the trust she was building with Raphael but his mental freedom wasn't something she was willing to gamble on at the moment.
"We also have thousands of Brood who are being controlled by her and her alone. We have no alternative control system to humans who've become monstrous aliens," Northstar reminded.
"I know. Warren, you there?" Shadowcat asked on her comm link.
"Here. But the connection is bad, we're boosting it through the Shi'ar ship's systems," Warren crackled back into her ear piece. "What's the sitch in there?"
Shadowcat quickly apprised him of the situation and several minutes later Warren, Carlos and Paulie teleported into the cavern.
"Man, am I glad you're both ok!" Paulie grinned at Northstar and Shadowcat. "Especially you, Kitty!"
Shadowcat blushed slightly. "Thanks, Paulie, I liked the Star Trek entrance."
"The Shi'ar shuttle has its advantages," Warren said as he leaned down with a medical kit and began examining one of the sleeping children. "They're giving off a lot of psionic energy. I bet Holy Mother is using them as some sort of battery and we can't soundly beat her without having the Brood upstairs go batty. We also can't beam the kids out, ship is too small. Anyone got any options what we can do? This island is going to hit the ground in about eight minutes. These kids will be hurt for sure."
There was silence in the cavern and then Carlos spoke up. "Restart the Stargate."
"What?!" Northstar gasped.
"He's right. The Acanti, the Stargates, the Shi'ar technology to cure the townspeople is all out in space, not on Earth. We couldn't possibly contain the Brood here and Holy Mother will fight us every step of the way," Shadowcat reasoned already crossing the cavern towards the Shi'ar Stargate controls embedded in the rocks.
Warren stood stock still for a moment, Shadowcat's hands dancing over the controls then she turned to him for the final okay.

Psyche stayed firmly focused on focusing her power into Spike's mind, expanding the woman's vision of her abilities, the scope as the ground came closer and closer. There had been a time when Psyche had been able to create solid the images she pulled form her mind or the minds of others, this was akin to relaying that experience, that ability to Spike. Fortunately there was a primitive simpatico to their abilities in that respect, Spike had just never thought of her psi-plasma shields as expanding miles around her like a solid shield around the base of an island before.
"Brace yourselves!" Iceman yelled from all around them and Psyche, for all of her brashness and courage couldn't help but to shut her eyes as the first impact happened and the skidding began. It wasn't as jarring as she thought it would be then she saw why, they'd skimmed off of a cliff towards a valley that reminded her of the Grand Canyon, they were airborne again. Like a skipping stone.
In that instant she knew that they wouldn't survive this.
We're here, Carlos replied to her psi cry of pure fear. She was confused for a moment, because both he and Warren were somewhere on the island. She knew this from their psionic closeness but then she sensed a feeling of resignation and dread from them and for the second time she saw the Stargate effect swirl outwards from the town and she screamed.

"No! NO! NO!" Talisman raged, trying to call upon more mystical power to stop the Stargate from opening again but her body spasmed, her heart felt like it was erupting, exploding and she collapsed to the ground, clutching her chest gasping as the universe shifted all around her.

"We go where they go!" Nightcrawler said to Hunter and the Shi'ar shuttle dove into the Stargate effect.

Magma, riding a flow of lava considered what was occuring, the Stargate was activated yet again and that her teammates and friends were still on the now plummeting island, which was going....? She had a choice to make. To not go, to not help or to surge herself forward on her earth/lava ramp and leap onto an isle that reeked of death and doom. But in many ways that she'd yet to vocalize this team of X-men were hers. She forced the lava to push her faster and dove off of the cliff after the island, into the Stargate effect laughing, wondering how many Lord Cardinal Red Queen's would travel the stars, it seemed to be a pre-requisite.

Somewhere in deep space:

Like a wormhole terminus opening, there was a brilliant flash and then San Madre, impossibly transcended all that it's forefather's could've imagined for it. It materialized in deep space. Starlight glinted off of the mystical shield that still surrounded the island, maintaining a minute portion of the atmosphere and gravity. But like a pricked balloon, that soon began escaping and the original intent of the spell maintained.
Contain the Brood.
Though they panicked and flew off wildly, their bodies were rebuffed back to the surface.
Holy Mother looked at the stars, felt the Broodworld's around her, and shrieked a cry that was more alien than any sound a human could make.
Millions of kilometers away the Brood Queen heard the shriek, knew that this was a challenger and reached out with her mind, with her rage to identify this usurper then the cry was abruptly cut off.
But the Brood Queen had the mental "scent" of thousands of children she hadn't sired and they flashed in her mind with a power, a mystical/psionic radiance that was both terrifying and rapturous. She called to all of her lieutenants to ready the ships, the small but powerful contingent could not be allowed to escape her grasp for long.

San Madre:

Shadowcat hadn't lived long but she was used to pain. This said a lot about her life. When she'd activated the Stargate she'd made some necessary adjustments.
First, she'd expanded the Stargate wave to almost a mile more than the island itself, reasoning that her teammates would be within that sphere and when they got to the other side of this trip, they'd need them.
Secondly, she'd changed their arrival coordinates from Holy Mother's intended Broodworld, to millions of miles from it in deep space and then to Shi'ar space, reasoning that they would need help immediately upon arrival. She'd wracked her brains to make sense of the kit bashed computers and Stargate controls as she tried to remember what was where, her Shi'ar language training and her astrophysics computations.
The fact that technically she was driving a rock through space hadn't escaped her attention but the Stargate effect created a temporary atmosphere upon transit. Though the island had been originally programmed to manifest within a planet's atmosphere, not outside of it, Shadowcat had programmed it to appear in deep space. A minute appearing near the Broodworld and then another immediate Stargate jump to her newly programmed coordinates. This was still a rock and as a large rock, simply, it was easier to let it go to its' first intended target and then ricochet it into another direction.
Thirdly, she'd calculated how long they would need, upon reappearance, to knock out every Brood (and unfortunately X-Man), topside. With their tough hides and reptilian nature, she'd given it a couple of minutes, enough time to shock everyone unconscious, recalibrate the sensors and Stargate a third time. This time she had the island appear on one of the many moon's the sensors had picked up. It was the constant Stargating that started giving her the intense body pain. Everyone else in the cavern was unconscious except for Paulie who was kneeling, visibly shaken. He was one tough cuss, she admitted, her phasing having diluted a lot of the shockwaves but she suspected that her natural state of intangibility wasn't quite making her in phase to the spatial jaunts, which is what was causing her so much pain.
"Ok, I want my fucking money back! That ride sucked!" Paulie grunted as he made his way over to her and the control console. He was the foulest mouthed X-Man next to Wolverine she'd ever meet and with his thick hair, olive complexion and full lipped sexy leer she couldn't help wonder where all these hotties were when she'd been a full-time X-Man.
"Sorry, Paulie, I had to compensate for the Brood's rough hides. I expect they're all knocked out topside," she grinned. "Lots of mathematical calculations while trying to remember both spatial combinations and Shi'ar space coordinates. The sensors Holy Mother had built into this island are Hodge Podge at best."
"You're one smart cookie. That turns me on like a fire hose!" he laughed then slumped to the ground, panting. "Feel like I've been squeezed like a box of orange juice."
"Spatial distortion and the released atmospheric pressure. I hope the others forgive me, it must've been momentary agony," Shadowcat sighed then got to work linking her comm unit into the console. Sure enough, less than a mile away she located Hunter's ship, sent him a quick data stream message, she'd been sending him data bursts since the first jaunt, and she and her fellow X-Men vanished from the cavern.

"I don't like this job!" Spike screeched in the Shi'ar shuttle as she quickly went from teammate to teammate checking their vital signs, they were all accounted for and huddled in seats and on the floor in thermal blankets, it looked like a slumber party.
"We get paid coins as well?" Peter asked, clutching a blanket around himself. He was visibly drawn and trembling from first the massive exertion of his power yanking the island out of the first Stargate and then experiencing the second one and re-materializing in deep space for an instant before Hunter had beamed him aboard.
"A Gold Card from American Express!" Spike snorted. "Like I didn't already have one! Here slurp down one of these alien nutrient packs. Hunter says they're full of vitamins and replenishes. Of course the fact that they're an avian cross alien species, technically only Warren probably will get any nourishment from this."
"They taste like liquefied beef jerky," Bobby complained as Spike quickly checked his vitals then moved on to another X-Man. He handed one to Peter and then took it back because of the young man's trembling hands. "I'll open that for you."
"Thank you. I've never used my powers that way before. Generally I only deal with small metal, body metal. I didn't know that I could hold onto a place just by thinking it. I know I should've said something before I tried it but I was scared when the Stargate thing first started," Peter admitted to the crowded cabin of cold and physically exhausted X-Men.
"Don't sweat it, Petey, you did sensational! We'd of popped into Broodworld Main Street if not for your quick thinking," Psyche said as she batted away Spike's ministrations. "I'm fine. You should be resting, Cecelia, I pushed a lot of psionic energy through you."
"I'm fine, Dani. I just let it all go into my shield. My shield is part psionic so your boost was more of natural to me than intrusive. You however have these forearm injuries from the Marauders to allow to properly heal as well as what looks like the onset of complete exhaustion. I'd say that's true for everyone. Warren, Dani, Kurt, you guys are the leaders and the official doctor to the X-Men is demanding a rest for everyone!"
"She is right, Danielle, please sit, there isn't much room for your usual pacing anyway," Carlos said as he put a blanket around Psyche's shoulders and pressed her gently back into her seat. Warren glanced at them both for a second and though Psyche expected jealousy from him, she felt only a sense of comfort and strength through the rapport. Carlos touching her, comforting her, caring for her was an extension of Warren's as well.
"While this ship could house us for a short jaunt, fifteen of us, will overtax the life support systems at some point. Am I correct, Hunter?" Northstar asked.
"We have approximately thirty of your solar days of supplies and life support at this level of passengers. However you must remember that without Stargating this ship would take twenty days, possibly longer to reach a suitable port. By suitable I mean one not hostile to mutants. You have been branded as Contagion within the confines of the Shi'ar Empire Imperium Space," Hunter explained. "All Shi'ar and their allies are sworn to obliterate you should you be found in our territories."
"Great parking place, you found us, Kitty girl," Amara chuckled but it wasn't a lancing barb so Kitty shrugged innocently.
Can we Stargate without the island below? Chamber asked.
"Yes, perhaps four or five jumps maximum and I was able to coordinate with Shadowcat to bring us to the outskirts of a system with a working Stargate. However that spatial anomaly we created also means that a Shi'ar battle cruiser will soon be on its' way to investigate the distortion on the moon."
Talisman stood up. "I still have my mystical shield around the island itself, keeping them within its limits. It's holding because it was Brood specific, not to the island, so they're contained. If Holy Mother starts pounding on the shield, I'd have to be here to reinforce it."
"Then, unfortunately, that tie binds you to staying right here, Elizabeth," Nightcrawler said. "Though from what we've all seen, your courage and strength have put this Holy Mother to shame."
"Thanks, Kurt. I made an oath to help those people and I swear on my ancestors that I will. I have no problems with staying behind with them for as long as it takes."
"Just promise me that the next beam outs will be while we're still within an atmosphere, that moment of appearing in deep space, no oxygen, the freezing cold, it was terrifying," Shan said, passing out Shi'ar nutrient packs to everyone.
"Sorry but we had to wait until the island reappeared in deep space before beaming the topside X-Men onto the ship," Nightcrawler explained. "Once we realized what Kitty was doing we had to be sure we only teleported in X-Men and not Brood or Holy Mother."
"I'm just glad to be off of that rock," Frenzy said, rubbing her sore arms as she looked out the viewer screen at the island, across the ocean. It sat on a small continent on an uninhabited moon, they were parallel to it, on a far peninsula of the land mass.
Nemesis standing next to her, chuckled through her mask. "We've dragged a piece of Earth across the galaxy and may still be forced to eradicate it. On Earth we had them outnumbered and yet out here, we are now the minority without a home nearby. Why did you bring us here, Shadowcat?"
"I knew that the Shi'ar typically terra form moons for habitation so the deeper into the system I brought us the greater the chances of finding a moon to drop onto," Kitty said, sitting next to Hunter at the control console as if she'd been born to manipulate the alien controls. "I was able to do some quick data bursts with Hunter so he knew what was about to happen. There was no time to cue you guys in. Sorry."
"You did damn good, Kitty, we'd be dead or the Earth overrun if not for you," Psyche admitted. "Sorry about the razzing earlier."
"Hey, it comes with the territory. Half the fun, is pulling your fat out of the fire for that humble pie grin," Kitty joked, the feeling of acceptance and warmth she felt from this incarnation of the X-Men both gratifying and intoxicating. It felt good to be part of something again.
"Pie and then some," Psyche laughed and squeezed Kitty's shoulder affectionately.
"If you girls wanna go all lesbo, maybe Shan joining in, I am available to take pictures," Paul offered brightly.
"I'd almost forgotten what a room was like without a pervert, Paulie. Thanks for the comeback," Spike said pushing back his head as she checked his neck pulse.
"For you, Dr. Hotty, any time."
"I could always possess him into learning how good a kisser Jean-Paul is," Shan offered evilly.
"It's like Will & Grace on this team!" Bobby laughed.
"I certainly could teach Paulie a trick or two!" Northstar laughed and the cabin erupted in laughter that died down after a few seconds.
"We still have the Brood Town to deal with as well as the Shi'ar. One of my people's starships will have noticed the large inter-spatial transport and come to investigate," Hunter explained. "Even if we explain what has occurred they will still destroy the moon itself to protect the Empire. And as you X-Men are considered contagion, they will destroy you as well."
"Why? Do they hate our Matrix-wannabe uniforms? Who pissed in their cornflakes?" Paulie asked.
"Cassandra Nova when she ran rampant in Xavier's body through the Shi'ar system destroying worlds, wholesale causing the death of hundreds of millions, crushing minds, driving their Majestrix Lilandra insane," Psyche explained.
"Oh, yeah, that file. I read that one," Paulie mumbled. "So we got no friends, a town full of crazy lizards and an unconscious mystical bitch that will wake up and kill, kill, kill?"
Don't forget the rapidly depleting life support aboard this cramped ship and the fact that we probably can't jump back to Earth without that bloody islands Stargate. Vicious aliens we now have to protect are sitting on our way home, Chamber reminded darkly.
Warren looked around the crowded cabin, X-Men sitting in blankets, bruised, tired, thoroughly abused by the past few weeks and he wondered what Cyclops would say to them. In order to solve all of their problems they would have to break a lot more rules, push themselves a lot farther in the next few days. "We're going to have to steal a ship. A big enough ship to house all of those kids. Then we're going to have to find a way to transform those Brood back. Lastly, we're going to have to protect that island from the Shi'ar. That's the deal. Three teams, all three in the thickest shit possible. No guarantees and probably casualties. Any questions?"
There was complete silence for several minutes and then suddenly Paulie began laughing hysterically. At first they all stared at him and then Talisman began chuckling too. Finally Psyche joined in and within a few minutes they were all guffawing and choking on peals of giggles.
"Ain't that some shit! That's all, huh, Wings? Whoops, sorry!" Paulie howled and then exploded into another roar at the now useless nickname.
"Fifteen X-men verses an Empire," Hunter grinned. "The odds sound correct to the legends I've heard."
"I guess I finally know what one does with a ship full of X-Men," Warren muttered. "We'll need someone familiar with the Shi'ar on each team. So far that's Kitty, Kurt and Hunter. Team breakdowns as follows: Psyche, Carlos, Frenzy, Peter, Magma and Nightcrawler with me---we're going to find a cure. Shadowcat leads Team Two on stealing a starship and that'll be Iceman, Northstar, Spike, Karma, Paulie and Nemesis. Team Three: Talisman, Chamber and Hunter guard Brood Town. Keep them in and the Shi'ar from destroying them and the children."
"Warren, what's our timeline? Our deadline rather? We could spend years on a wild goose chase," Shadowcat asked grimly.
"One week. After that Talisman, Hunter, Chamber, snatch out the kids and blow Brood Town to Hell. We'll have no choice. Kitty, hopefully you'll be back by then with a ship to carry them away in. If not, make for the southern hemisphere of the moon. My team will find an Acanti or a transportable Stargate. Hunter, take whatever gear and explosives you'll need off of the ship, my team will drop Kitty's off at the nearest planet with a space dock. Lie, cheat, and if you have to, steal a ship."
"Finally, crime!" Paulie cheered.
Warren shook his head good-naturedly. "Figured you'd like your mission, Paulie. My team will take the ship to find an Acanti, a non-co- opted by the Brood one. Or we'll be back to help with the destruction of the Brood Town."
"I may be able to help there," Hunter said. "The Brood had infected several Shi'ar dignitaries and they were cured by a man named K'lar. I believe he is a mutant like you. However he was a consort of Deathbird's. I believe she was keeping him as a tool to use should the Brood ever wholesale co-opt the Empire."
"Then Deathbird has just got herself a ticket to meeting us again. We'll try her and beat it back here with a cure," Psyche promised.
"Ummmm....what if we can't steal a ship?" Spike asked.
"Then it won't matter, we'll be stuck on a planet. Most likely in prison being savagely beaten and raped by aliens for whom our various orifices will be too delicate to avoid destroying," Northstar answered bluntly.
"Just making sure this plan had no possible happy ending," Spike muttered.
"I knew Northstar would find a way to introduce sodomy into this mission!" Paulie quipped.
"Oh, I feel confident that we'll come out of this fine," Magma sighed. "Deathbird? Charming."

Battle cruiser Tr'Lar:

"Sub-Commander, the scanning wave is confirmed. There was a massive Stargate localized field eruption on the moon, Salar," the technician announced on the bridge.
Sub-Commander Ari bowed her head for a moment in the command chair, the question of whether they even had a duty to investigate the outer regions any longer was heavy on her mind. Manpower, resources, repairs to her ship, all considerations as to whether she could investigate legitimate problems within Shi'ar space. These had been heavy times amongst her people. Times of death and change and madness. Not that the Shi'ar Empire hadn't been through much in the past millennia but to so brutally be attacked from within. Of over a thousand worlds, only two hundred were confirmed as still within a firm grip of both sanity and stability. How long that would last was anyone's best guess. Millions of ships aligned with the Empire had been reduced to less than a hundred thousand to patrol the borders of their territory. The Kree, the Skrulls, the Badoon, all were making gestures of possible annexing. The only thing that held them back was terror of the mind madness that had been spread by Majestrix Lilandra's consort. Only ship commanders and high government officials knew of the how the mental contagion of insanity had begun.
Many within the Shi'ar High Council had called for the immediate destruction of Earth but truth be told their forces were spread too thin and they were afraid of the Earthlings. The Phoenix entity had destroyed a planet and then her mentor had gone mad and raped the Empire. Some said beyond repair. In a year's time, many theorists suggested that the Empire would collapse as they knew it.
"What is the closest Empire planet?" she asked aloud. There were only four of them on the large bridge, normally there would be a minimum of fifteen btu these were hard times. Her crew had been dispersed throughout the galaxy to other Empire ships and bases to compensate for the mad or dead. From one thousand crewman to less than two hundred was almost unthinkable and yet they'd made it work.
"Nima. There is currently a high level conference occuring there with Chancellor Havar and the Kree in an attempt to discuss accords."
"Yes, Nima. One of our last chances," Ari muttered. There were so many "high level" diplomatic meetings occuring and being reported to the battle cruisers that it was hard to keep track of them all. The Empire was desperately trying to make both alliances and in some cases sell off star systems to fund infrastructure repairs.
"We're technically part of their security detachment."
"I take it they fall into the nineteen sectors we're to be responsible for?"
"Twenty-four. Five more were added during your rest period."
Ari smiled darkly to herself, in brighter times she would've been commanding ten fleets to be responsible for twenty four star systems. Now she was in a triumvirate partnership with three other battle cruisers that were light-years away. The strain gave her a lot of command latitude though. She could ignore the spatial disruption, citing a thousand other missions she had waiting. Of course if this was a genuine threat to the conference she might be demoted. No, she doubted she'd be demoted. They needed experienced commanders too desperately. But if the Empire did return to it's former glory, those that had shown the ability to pay attention to protecting those who were rebuilding the Empire would be both remembered and favored.
"How long to Nima?" Ari asked.
"Twelve solar hours if we jumpgate."
"They do have several refueling and processing centers there, yes?"
"Aye, Sub-Commander."
"And we still have that confiscated Yridian ore. We could trade it, get some of those repairs done. Plot a course. Send a private communiqué to the Chancellor of our arrival but that we'll remain circumspect and why. Send a communiqué to Nima's space port that we're having severe engine trouble and will be there shortly."
"Aye, Sub-Commander."
"Engage."

Somewhere:

Joshua felt the disturbance. He felt the island, saw glimpses of the X-Men in pain, in terror and then he saw them coming to him. He sat up in his bed and walked out onto the terrace and looked up. The sky was full of stars as well as the slight greenish tint from the force field that kept him and the others imprisoned. He turned and looked at the bodysuit on the chair. We a focused thought he called to it and it seemed to disassemble and reassemble onto his body. All black with the exception of his namesake across one arm and part of his torso.
For a moment he was frightened. Providence didn't come often to the damned, he'd learned the hard way. Xavier had all but destroyed him and the others, the mad telepath's power was beyond even Joshua's to halt. So many had died at Xavier's mind.
If his precognitive dream were correct then the X-Men would be here soon, would breech the prison shield and then.....?
What then? Joshua found himself stumped by that simple question.
He sent his bodysuit back to the chair and slid back into bed.
Perhaps his dreams would reveal that answer.
And if they didn't then the Native Americans said a question slept on was easily answered upon waking. He prayed this was true.

Shi'ar Moon:

"It ain't simply fate that has put us on the same team. Hint, hint," Paulie grinned leaning over the ships' control console as Kitty worked on several calibrations.
"You really are something else, Paulie. I don't think a guy has ever hit on me with the same amount of charm, humor and sleaze," Kitty laughed good-naturedly.
"Hey, Katie-girl, me and you could be like one of the all time great X-Men love stories. Scott and Jean. Rogue and Gambit. Only less angst and constant dying. Also we can actually touch each other because maybe once or twice I can see getting a light bulb off of watching the other jerk off naked from the other side of the room, but years? Rogue and Gambit we would not be! Come on!"
Kitty and Peter, Kitty thought to herself and glanced across the large room where Peter and Warren were working on emptying out several of the storage compartments. In profile, his long hair pinned back, he looked so much like Piotr she felt like she was reliving when she'd heard he was dead. How could she start again when the past kept coming back in so many forms? And could she even entertain that maybe, just maybe this Peter was a second chance at the happiness and pleasure that had eluded her with his father?
"Wouldn't that be something," Kitty chuckled, lost in her thoughts for a moment. "I don't even know you, Paulie and it doesn't look like we're going to have time to go out to dinner so you're going to have to fill me in on the fly. How did you come to be an X-Man?"
"Well, I got shanghaied into this group by Jean when Magneto went bonkers. We set his ass right then I went off to do my thing and eventually Charlie called me back for this Sanctuary outfit."
"Do you like it? Being an X-Man? No code name?"
"Ummmm. Well, I'd never been across the galaxy before to an alien moon and planets like now so it's got moments. I kinda got legal troubles that Charlie is helping me out with. I stay on the narrow with you guys and he gets me erased from certain databases. As for codenames, you're a smart chick, name me and I'll give you a me we won't be able to say in public."
"You're a crook? I should've known!" she laughed. "So far you're just super invulnerable? I guess Hard was your first choice, eh?"
"Ouch. Sarcastic but close. Raging Hard. Hey, another few months and I would've been in charge of the New York crime families. My invulnerability makes me a tough mark to off."
"That's it? You're just invulnerable? Have you been able to develop it to anything else?"
"So far but that seems to be a range of damage. I get used as a shield and a weapon a lot. Even psionic and magic stuff seems to not affect me as easily. Charlie said I could have a secondary mutation one day but that I shouldn't count on super strength. It's a bit overplayed though and we've got Frenzy for that department anyway. I found out a few weeks back that I'm very difficult to hurt, even by the Black Queen's vampire schtick. She tried to suck the juice out of the Paulster in the wrong way and got a shock of a lifetime."
Kitty looked up at him grinning. "So I'm intangible and you're invulnerable, opposite ends of density."
"Opposites attract."
Kitty shrugged and tried not to look so deeply into his brown eyes. She couldn't help but to like him and that brought a feeling of sadness and fear. "I've had some rough times in the love department. They tend to die."
"The whole invulnerable thing kinda makes that a tough proposition for me. Charlie says my aging has even slowed slightly. I might be immortal or close to it. So I'm not Mr. Gonna Get Blown Away. Ok, that didn't sound right," he winked.
"You're incorrigible and I'm complicated. I'm not even sure that I'm going to stay with the team. I just came to Australia to find Peter, Jr. And then we got swept in the Madripoor/Marauders thing. Harpoon hurt me awhile back and I was looking to get some kicks in," she explained, still unsure of what she wanted to do.
"You're here now."
"Doesn't mean I'll stay."
"You could've bailed in Madripoor or when the Brood Town appeared back in Australia. I think you're an action junkie and you're overwhelming attraction to me is a bonus."
"I think you're so arrogant that it must be another super power."
"I think you like that."
"I haven't decided yet. Northstar says you'd be good for a fling."
"See! Even gay guys have the hots for me! He's been scoping my ass in his free time, I'm sure."
Kitty laughed. "Well we can consider stealing a starship our first date."
"Hey, an intangible ninja thief brainiac and a wiseguy that can't be hurt. These alien cocksuckers don't have a friggin' chance. I'm all tingles on that one."


Danielle, Carlos and Warren stood watching the mystically imprisoned Brood Town as Talisman floated high above re-casting and re-enforcing her spells.
"Think it will hold a week?" Warren wondered aloud.
Elizabeth's magick's are strong. She understands now what she faces, I have every confidence, Carlos answered psionically.
"Are you any clearer about what happened to your wings, Warren?" Dani asked bluntly.
"No. Hazy images, feelings sensations. Mostly sexual in nature. Like a wild bachelor party full of tequila. I'm sorry, Dani. I don't know why I went with her, why I didn't fight."
Again more magicks at work, I suspect.
"Thanks, Carlos. Or perhaps I'm just a weak man."
"That's my vote," Dani said bitterly.
That's not fair, Danielle.
"No, Carlos, what isn't fair is that I'm caught between the two of you in this damn rapport. I sympathize, Warren, but we were getting close and it hurts me that something happened with Meridian. I look into your mind and from what I can see it was voluntary, not rape. Makes me wonder how deep your feelings for me were."
"How do you think it feels knowing that you gave up body parts to someone and you're not clear as to why?" he said in exasperation.
I might add that my place was to protect Lady Amara, I didn't ask to become part of this rapport.
"And yet, you're the most comfortable with it which is why you speak so often to us telepathically," Warren reminded.
I've had experience with this before. Not to this depth but experience.
"You promised to explain your powers, you're not just a mutant. What are you?" Danielle asked.
I am a mutant whose power bonded him to a demon. With great practice, I've learned to both imprison the demon and borrow some of it's' power. The Beast is strong though. I must be cautious.
"The professor said he made you an offer to join the X-Men before we ever met you. Why didn't you accept?" Warren asked.
It was around the time he was unifying the original five. I was in Spain. He approached me and I found his idea interesting but his offer lacked the power I needed. By that I mean he was not a mystic. The Hellfire Club had mystics. With them I am assured control over the Beast.
"I've got the best question of all, Carlos," Dani grinned. "Exactly how old are you?"
Carlos laughed. "Yes, Danielle, that is the best question of all. The answer is simple. I do not know. I awoke with my family as a baby. As I always have. I am reincarnated as the male child should my entire physical form be destroyed. So far that's happened quite a few times. I believe that is my mutant power. A form of immortality."
"And how many times have you been reborn?"
"The first few times I was deeply confused. I was young and it took awhile to understand, sometimes I am a babe and other the first male teenager. I am always confused, lost within the transfer of so much raw power and memories. The Beast unfortunately found me and its' presence helped me understand the extent or extension of my mortality. I would approximate seven or eight times. The fact that my first childhood memories are of caves and being nomadic suggest at least twenty thousand years of rebirths. I lose memories after each birth, or they fade, get scrambled."
"So you're immortal? That vision I saw of the woman?" Dani pressed, fascinated by him as she understood why she'd seen the specter of Death around him. In many ways he was dead and his abilities akin to her own.
"Yes, immortal, after a fashion. The woman, she was a lover from France, circa the early eighteen hundreds. Ceres was a mutant as well, a telepath of sorts. She could create psi rapports between herself or between others. She was quite the rage for a time in Paris until some lovers found that being deeply linked to someone for a lifetime was not always a gift. I believe Ceres killed me."
"That might explain why I saw it. My Death Sense interacting with your psyche for the first time."
"We're quite the trio, eh? I was once Death, you see Death and you can't die." Warren said.
"I'm sure there is a purpose to our bonding. The two of you need to come to peace with it though. We three will be both lovers and far more intimate. I don't mean to be crass but get over your Western concepts of sexuality and intimacy, the strain of resisting the comfort we could bring the other is taking its toll on me. I've helped you both to rest, to have strength; it would be nice to receive the same."
"Carlos, you've been alive----well, forever, you've had a lot longer to get used to this concept. To a fluidic sexuality."
"And how long have you been alive, sweet Danielle?" Carlos challenged.
She clamped her mouth shut.
"What? What did I miss?"
"Asgardian time passes much differently than Earth time. I spent a year gone from here. I spent several years in Asgard."
"Why am I getting the feeling that "several" is a euphemism?"
"Because even I'm not clear on how long I was there. I didn't age but my best approximation is a century or so years. As a Valkyrie we crossed into so many dimensions, into so many worlds where time shifted. I came back to a place I knew and what had been a small twig was a mighty tree, close to a hundred years old. There were times that I spent in battles and with my sister Valkyries where children grew to be adults around us. I think the professor sensed it. As we grow older, it's like we mentally become deeper, wider, like an ocean. He'd known a girl who was a vast lake, she came back the Atlantic ocean."
Warren smiled. "You know if we could get this under control, we'd be on hell of a team within the team."
Carlos stepped closer to Danielle and put his arms around her waist from behind.
"Stop it, what are you doing?" Dani demanded but didn't resist.
Warren grinned and stepped closer, resting his arms around Carlos' back. "Doesn't this feel like what it feels like in our heads?"
There was a silent agreement between them all.
"Home," Danielle mumbled, feeling both of their heartbeats around hers, the warmth and firmness of their bodies.
"I didn't know I'd missed you both until I found you," Warren admitted. "I don't know what that means."
"I suspect we are soul mates, united by fate and circumstance as only three could be," Carlos smiled and reached out and touched Warren's face. "Mi Dios, man, but you are beautiful."
"You're not so hard on the eyes yourself," Warren grinned.
"This is so weird out loud," Dani grunted. "We're a mutant porno."

"What do you make of that, Kurt?" Amara nodded at the trio several hundred meters away, entangled.
Kurt looked over. "Bobby mentioned that they'd become some part of a psi rapport. I figured that was why they naturally didn't split up as a team within the team breakdowns. Stranger things have happened in the X- Men."
"Oh, please! Name one," Amara snapped.
Kurt hesitated. "One of our number willingly joining the Hellfire Club," he said neutrally then vanished in a poof of brimstone.
Amara glared at the smoke. Not everyone seemed pleased with her decision. Actually, none of them did. But that didn't concern her. What did concern her was that her Second, Carlos, the Black Bishop had his loyalties wrenched so deeply away from her as the Red Queen. That wasn't suppose to happen. They had made plans.
Danielle seemed to be the glue between the two men. It would be a shame to do, but sometimes the future predicated the elimination of an old friend.

Peter watched them all. Former allies of his father, rejoicing one last night around a campfire before they sailed off into space on a desperate mission. They'd given him a costume like theirs. Accepted him as one of their own. Hopefully for who he was rather than his heritage. He looked up at the stars, alien to his eyes but felt no fear. He'd sailed on the back of a white wolf for several years of his upbringing. He'd traveled through dimensions, star systems that these people hadn't yet conceived of.
"You're so quiet," Shan said as she strolled over to him and offered him a cup of cider they'd been able to brew up with the small ship's food systems. "Thinking about tomorrow?"
"Yes and yesterday. I always wanted to be an X-Man growing up. Knowing who my father was, knowing that he was a hero. Part of me wasn't sure I would ever get here. And then, no offense, but you're all different people than the X-Men I met as a child."
"That could be a good thing."
"How so?"
"Well, you met Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Wolverine, your father, Havok, Dazzler and Longshot, yes?"
"Yes."
"Legends all within the X-Men. They've survived death a hundred ways, a thousand times. Perhaps these X-Men, the Sanctuary X-Men, are to be a Sanctuary for a new breed. New legends. It would be hard to fight alongside legends with your mouth agape, non?" she teased.
"Yes, I suppose so. Is your brother here with us now? Bobby said there were two of you."
"Yes, yes he is. He's resting. Holy Mother attacked us directly and injured his astral form, something we did not believe possible."
"What is that like? I miss my family. I can't imagine what it must be like to have a brother with me all the time."
"It's comforting at times. His counsel bolsters my concerns. He is smart in ways I am not. Though he was misguided when he had a body, I do share his desire for him to return to a physical form. He deserves it. He's worked hard to be an X-Man in spirit, if not form," she smiled at the ironic nature of her comment.
"We're all so different. So many things going through our lives and yet we're united, like the tribes of the Savage Land."
"Yes. I'm sure that when we return to Earth we will visit your people. I have never seen the Savage Land, I would like to."
"That would be great, showing you my home. You believe we'll get back?"
"Oh, Peter, we are X-Men verses a mad Empire. They never had a chance."


Battle cruiser Tr'Lar:

"You were wise to come," the Chancellor said to Ari.
'Though our resources are spread thin, it seemed necessary. You'll note that the spatial distortion occurred first in the Brood System, near their home world and then into this star system."
"Invasion?"
"What else could it be? Logically the Brood are aware of the Empire's vulnerability and would seek to destroy our attempts at allegiance with the Kree. They know that they don't have the physical numbers or weaponry to mass an outright attack but to transport in thousands of their number to a system. They would then have to infect each world. Within a month they could possess and entire star system."
"Yes, yes. I defer to you then on what to do."
"I've sent out a priority one communiqué to our forces. Very specific requests for a force to destroy the Brood and that moon. The Imperial Guard will be upon the island en force within a solar day."


Enjoy!!!
Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Email: kylephoenixshow@aol.com

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