X-Men: Sanctuary Issue # 5 By Kyle Phoenix

X-Men: Sanctuary 
Issue # 5 By Kyle Phoenix

"Meridian, Marauders and San Madre"

Madripoor, High Town

Scattered throughout the rubble of High Town Madripoor the X-Men found that the Marauders had in no way tired of savagery. Each blow was met with the deadliest of responses and still the battle was inconclusive. Both groups were worn out by the melee and it still wasn't clear who the victor would be.
But Paulie was proud of himself.
He hadn't screamed or cried out once and Blockbuster was smashing yet another massive fist into his body, sending him through a storefront. In followed the big monster, bald and thick browed, his fingers flexing as he made another fist to strike Paulie with. They'd been trading punches for a few minutes now, unfortunately Paulie didn't have the muscle mass to back up his invulnerability. He could take it but he couldn't dish it out. So all he had was his wits and next to someone like Blockbuster, only a minuscule amount of comparable super strength. Mainly since his body wouldn't break or muscles snap, he could lift a car if he got the right leverage. His strength did seem to be a dozen times more than a normal man however, Xavier had theorized that psychologically Paulie had developed his invulnerability from anxiety and fear about being hurt so that he was to some unconscious degree limiting a large increase in strength as well. Or he could simply be a mutant who would always lack super strength. Not every power set was complimentary.
"Ok, you freak, I'm gonna have to take you down hard!" Paulie snapped, steadying his body for his next move. He would use leverage not strength to do this right the first time.
Paulie stood up and took the next blows, then grabbed Blockbuster's wrists, yanked hard until the massive Marauder was tumbling head first down a flight of stairs. Paulie snatched up a metal rod and leaped down the stairs, standing on Blockbuster's back, then with all of his might, drove the pipe into the man's spine. Though the skin didn't break, Blockbuster howled in agony and swatted Paulie through several walls.
"You will die slowly for that!" Blockbuster roared, thrashing his way through the walls until he came upon Paulie who was lying curled up on the floor.
"Guess what?" Paulie coughed.
"What?!" Blockbuster demanded.
"Your inner probably ain't as tough as your outer!" Paulie screamed and drove the pipe into the mutant's open mouth, upwards and into his brain, killing him instantly. Blockbuster fell back, dumbfounded and dead in an instant. "Surprised ain't you, motherfucker! Huh?! HUH? Yeah, thought I was gonna go all Cyclops on your beefy ass and play fair, right? Nope, I read. Not only are you guys the official mad dogs of the mutant world, you're also a bunch of clones. And I'm pro-choice, baby! You ain't nothing but something that ain't even covered by the goddamn Constitution!" Paulie spit on him, his own blood from the inside of his mouth, coming it, the inspiration for his final blow. "That's the problem with these X jokers, you gotta leave a few bodies around every once in awhile so people know not to fuck with you. Hey, maybe 'Constitution'? That's a good code name."
He gave it a moment of thought then shook his head as he hurried back outside.
Nah, it sounded like he had the ability to not vomit.

Arclight slammed her fists on the ground sending a violent shock wave that caused windows to blow apart, cars to tumble, and Psyche, Carlos and Iceman to fall to the ground.
"Looks like I get to burn some X-Men too! Could this gig be any better?" Arclight chuckled.
"Have a care, cow, those are my teammates!" Northstar said, slamming into Arclight from behind, then snapping back into the air, slamming into her again, then repeating several times, until she had been smashed through the pavement. Psyche, on her knees, didn't hesitate as she reached into Arclight's mind and brutally ripped out her worst fear for all to see. The hazy image seemed to be the incubation tanks these clones were held in and then it was opened and the face of Sinister appeared. Arclight crouched screaming in dread at the thought of being awakened once again from what she hoped would be death to fight again for a master she couldn't get away from.
"Nicely done," Allegra complimented as Iceman froze Arclight from head to toe.
"We try to get the job done," Psyche shrugged as they got to their feet.
"Watch out for that arrogance, red skin," Scalphunter said from the other end of the street opening fire with a heavy artillery gun of his own creation.
"Rabbit!" Psyche shouted as Allegra pulled her behind a car and Northstar scooped up Iceman who had thrown up a hasty ice shield to cover their dispersal. The shield was sliced to chips in seconds by the bullets.
"My hero! Whatever would I do without you?" Iceman cooed mockingly, airborne under Northstar's perpetual grimace.
"Become the first ingredient in a pina colada," Northstar said circling back.
Scalphunter had continued to fire, with expert marksmanship so as not to hit his teammate, until the ice encasing Arclight was weakened enough for her to rip it apart angrily.
"Take out Scalphunter, we'll take her down!" Psyche shouted to her airborne teammates and they sailed off towards the building their target had been shooting from.
"Bitch! I will kill you for that!" Arclight screamed charging towards Psyche. Psyche easily ducked under Arclight's first blow and came up with a mean upper cut that had barely any effect upon the woman.
"Allow me," Allegra stand, his hands pressing on Psyche's body for a brief moment so that he could get airborne enough to kick Arclight back.
"Not good enough, spic!" Arclight said, grabbing Allegra's foot before he had landed and swatting him at Psyche like a club. Psyche leaped over Allegra, used Arclight's shoulders as balance to flip over, grabbing the woman's hair at the last second. Before her feet were even on the ground she had Arclight bending backwards and then on her back being flipped into a car before the woman was quite sure what had happened.
"Excellent," Allegra said, having fallen to the ground. He shoved Psyche to the side as Arclight charged like a mad bull between them and they both slammed their elbows down onto her neck. Psyche's hand came around with her psi bow and arrow ready, a quick flick and the arrow was lodged in Arclight's back, the woman writhing in pain.
"Allow me for her slurring of us both," Allegra said.
"By all means," Psyche laughed.
Allegra grabbed the back of Arclight's neck and closed his eyes. A moment later she had stopped fighting the still embedded and glow psi arrow and was unconscious.
"You want to explain how you did that?" Psyche asked him.
"When we have more time, I promise."

Iceman kept up the return volley of ice spears at Scalphunter, who was running through a shopping center, firing indiscriminately over his shoulder at the sliding Iceman and the airborne Northstar. The speedster concerned himself with yanking and dropping to safety people who were in the line of fire from the Marauder's wild shots.
"We have to end this, Iceman," Northstar said to his teammate.
"Ok, switch!" Iceman said and Northstar dove down in pursuit of Scalphunter on foot as Iceman's slide rose up, ice walls freezing up behind him to protect the bystanders.
Northstar zipped through people, cursing the fact that it seemed to be a popular mall and that they had to watch out from hitting the people but that Scalphunter could use them as targets.
Northstar increased his speed dramatically then stopped short suddenly, the air pressure lashing through the crowd and slamming them all to the ground, including Scalphunter. Ice blocks appeared on the villain's arms and instant later but before they could secure him properly the sky light above shattered and Archangel and Harpoon came tumbled through, locked in a vicious fistfight.
"The glass, Northstar!" Iceman shouted.
"Yes, yes, I see it and I'm dealing with it, Drake. Don't get your shorts in a bunch," Northstar sighed and began soaring back and forth in a circular formation around the ground floor until an updraft as created. His only concern was that his teammate might find it disconcerting. Sabine watched them closely, the X-Men engaging the Marauders and she held her breath because other than Meridian, herself, none of them knew which X- Man was their first target. Her employer was a shrewd, one to not let all of her secrets out at once.
Now? She asked her mistress mentally.
Not yet, soon.

"This madness ends now, you hear me, butcher! You killed children, you even destroyed my wings before but I won't allow it again!" Archangel roared as he smashed through the mall skylight with Harpoon. He'd spotted the man covering his teammates from the roof and dive-bombed into him. Harpoon though surprised was far from stunned as he gave Archangel blow for blow, not a care to his fate as he fell through the air.
Suddenly Northstar's updraft stilled them both in mid-air for an instant and then shot them back up through the roof. Archangel used to the surprise of up air currents, twisted his wings so that they took full advantage of the push and yanked Harpoon almost a thousand feet into the air.
"You may be tough, Harpoon but I've learned not to hesitate," Archangel said to the Inuit man as he spun around and threw Harpoon towards the ground. Harpoons screams could be heard for almost two blocks and then they ended as he crashed like a small meteor into a storefront.

"Fool! You would think that you would tire of this!" Magma shouted at Riptide as he spun his body like a blur, razor sharp resin stars firing at her.
"I enjoy a good kill, woman!" He said advancing towards her slowly as she kept blasting in front of herself, destroying the stars.
"I am not an easy kill, little man! I am both an X-Man and a Lord Cardinal and I tire of this sullying of my hands with a monster low enough to both slaughter innocents and then rape a war torn country of the few coins it has left!"
He pressed closer to her, forcing her to generate even greater body temperatures to destroy the resin stars. Suddenly he was close enough to grab her throat, his hands seemingly unfazed by the heat radiating from her. "Eh, it's a living, what can I say?"
"Start with: Our Father who art in Heaven?" Magma suggested grinning evilly and two columns of molten earth shot out of the soil did a sharp ninety-degree turn and crushed Riptide between them.

Now, Meridian ordered.
Sabine rejoiced and ran from the lobby of the bank the Marauders had been robbing and where she'd been standing off to the side in a trench coat towards the X-Men. The trench coat was flung away revealing the silk bodysuit with leather straps across the chest to hold the back sheaths. Pulling her swords from the sheaths, arms and blades blurring as she streaked at Paulie who was coming out of a store he and Blockbuster had crashed into.
"Stupid idiot," he said, Sabine's blades the least of what he was afraid of from this group. He arrogantly reached out to catch the blades in mid-flight only to have Sabine swipe her blades away from him at what would've been the moment of contact and kick her leg into his, swiping him to the ground. Before he could move, she dug her sword into the ground below, pulled up an electrical cable and flicked it at him, the other sword, cut the casing open. The ensuing shock caused Paulie to shriek before he could weakly roll away from the live wire. Sabine was still moving, charging towards the other X-Men at the end of the street.
"I've got her!" Psyche yelled, manifesting and firing psi arrows with her bow shaft but Sabine leapt suddenly, almost twenty feet directly up then dropped to the ground in a tumble. She came up completely having hopped over the arrows and slashed at her adversary. Psyche backpedaled, finally forced to use her bow shaft to block one of the blades as it slammed at her. Sabine smiled as the katana split open and metal needles flew out.
"Aiiiiiieeeeeee!" Psyche screamed as the needles dug deeply into her forearms that she'd brought up to protect her face.
Allegra slammed into Sabine from behind, having moved faster and quieter than anyone would've expected. Sabine rolled with the blow and came back up in a crouching stance, blades extended.
Carlos Allegra? He's with them now? Meridian whispered in genuine surprise. Sabine, you're no match for him. They probably don't know the full extent of his abilities. He won't allow you to kill him but he will restrain himself. Use that advantage.
Sabine grunted an acknowledgement then thrust herself at Allegra who used the flats of his hands to block the slashes, his accuracy remarkably as fast as her hyper kinetic attacks until Sabine somersaulted over his head landing her swords pointing forward. He turned to her back and Sabine clicked two buttons on her sword hilts, the blades collapsed from facing forward and shot out of the hilts in the opposite direction. He expertly twisted but was still impaled by one blade in the mid-section and grazed in the leg by the other. Sabine retracted the blades and somersaulted over him again, tossing her blades up in the air as she slammed her leg into his kidney and then several sharp nerve pinches into his back. She spun around, caught the dropping blades, and flicked a switch and electrical arcs burst from the blades lifting him agonizingly off of the ground.
Very good, Sabine, keep him off balance! He's worth the electrical charge and not that idiot Provenzano! Meridian laughed then warned calmly. Behind you.
Sabine twisted as Archangel swooped down, hands clasped in a double handed fist and slammed into her side, his original intent having been more impactful but he'd stopped the attack on Carlos Allegra who was stumbling away, bleeding profusely from his side. Psyche was also crouched down, pulling what looked like thin knives from her forearms. Their psi rapport was leaking her distress and he purposefully focused calming thoughts at her. He wouldn't let this go any further.
"We've taken out nearly all of your team, give it up, lady," Archangel said, having flown back a few feet to avoid the length of her blades.
Sabine grinned as she turned to the aloft Archangel, spinning her blades and the ground trembled as Magma burst up from a fissure, between them, covered in lava and tossed a clearly broken Riptide, questionably alive, at her feet.
"The ass never had a chance," Magma spat in disgust. "He may twist the wind but I am one with the earth."
"Careful, she's a tough one!" Paulie yelled as the three X-Men circled Sabine.
Have a care, Sabine. They are going to be much more vicious having dealt with the other Marauders and you've yet to acquire the target.
Yes, mistress.
Sabine leaped up into the air, almost forty feet then dropped down spinning and contorting wildly, her swords slashing the air violently in every which direction until her target was uncertain. She flicked another button on the hilt of her sword and three inches from the tip of the blade rocketed off and impaled itself into Magma's arm, the carbotanium not melting at the searing temperatures the X-Men's body was giving off. Magma shrieked in pain and shock and fired a blast of flame at Sabine who was already back flipping away from it. Magma reverted to her human form, the poison secreted from the opening blade tip.
Archangel went to help Amara, who waved him away. "I can use the earth to help me!" with that the earth enveloped her body, a flare of flames and lava erupting from where she lay, expunging the poison and the blade tip. The earthen cocoon opened to reveal a healed but unconscious Amara.
"Form on me! Keep out of her reach!" Archangel yelled to Iceman and Northstar as they rushed over to aid the others in taking down the last Marauder.
"We lost Scalphunter when you came through the roof!" Iceman yelled at Archangel. Sabine merely grinned and pirouetted into the air, defying gravity as if it were a choice and not a definite, landing in front of a startled Iceman.
"She's moving at super speed, that's why you're all so useless!" Northstar realized, ascertaining that the single woman had caused so much damage to his teammates. He missiled towards her but she was already in elegant, eerily silent motion. Sabine turned and swiped at Iceman, cutting deeply into his iced up body, then she plunged the blade deep into his chest and pressed a button. Small pores opened within the blade delivering a potent acid explosion within him.
"AHHHHHHHH!" Iceman screamed as Sabine turned to Northstar as the speedster snatched her up into the air.

"Someone help Bobby!" Northstar yelled into his comm link as he rapidly ascended higher and higher, the friction, air pressure change and lack of oxygen intended to knock the woman unconscious. Or kill her. At this point in the battle that had ravaged the financial district he wasn't sure if the X-men were eager to make discernment on what was too far with wanton murderers.
Mistress? Sabine questioned.
No, don't kill him. He has potential. More than even he knows. He won't kill you, Meridian promised. Let him achieve his desired results.
Northstar felt Sabine struggle for a few minutes and then finally lose consciousness, he casually arced back down towards Madripoor island, thousands of feet below them, the extreme shifts having no effect upon his body physiology which granted him superior protection to high speed.
"Ohmigod! Ohmigod! Ohmigod! Help me!" Bobby shrieked as his ice body began crumbling in on itself, the acid eating away his insides.
Archangel looked desperately at Psyche. "What can we do?"
Psyche shook her head, her arms still bleeding from the needles she'd pulled out. "Actually, I don't think we have to do anything. I'm not seeing the specter of death on him, he's not dying. He just thinks he is. Bobby, focus!  In ice form you control your every molecule!" she shouted at him, reluctant to touch him as the acid was bubbling through the surface of his ice "skin".

Carlos Allegra limped over, obviously badly wounded but still able to function. He grabbed Bobby's ice hand and closed his eyes, focusing. "Be calm, Robert. Steady your mind as the Professor taught you. Close your eyes. You are envisioning pain, there is no true pain. I feel no pain from you."
Archangel looked warily at Carlos, he was still a Lord Cardinal of the Hellfire Club, he didn't trust him, no matter his pledge to protect Amara.
Psyche spoke up, getting vague psionic impressions of what was occurring. "Relax, Warren, its some sort of shared empathic wave. He's focusing his psi self at Bobby's core, to get Bobby to stop articulating himself emotionally to a body that he relates to his other form. He's just ice now. By choice. By panicking, he's forgotten that."
"I've dealt with her," Northstar said landing and tossing Sabine to the ground as he rushed to Bobby's side. "Do not die on me, Drake, there is still a plethora of embarrassing and humiliating situations I have to put you into!"
"I-I'm trying!" Bobby groaned. "Carlos is helping but it's hard to stop thinking of this as my body. To repair it. I'm not sure where to start. Carlos is weak too, in pain, don't let him do this too far," Iceman moaned, seeing the strain on Carlos' face, his eyes shut tightly as he focused his self into him to affirm his core self.
Northstar grabbed Carlos' other hand and simply pictured in his mind Iceman as completely whole in a pristine ice form and then a picture of Bobby as human and healed.
"That is what you look like, you fool!" Northstar said, immediately feeling part of the psi link. "Carlos, can only sympathize not heal you. It's why he's such a good Bishop and will never be a Lord Cardinal King."
"Jean-Paul, are you still mad about Madrid?" Carlos teased, chuckling, even as blood came to his lips.
"I know both of you. Better than you know yourselves. You both whimper and jest and capitulate to have identities. Well now it's time to, by force of will alone, live! When this is over, genuflecting will be payment enough. Now focus, Bobby, we can't send Carlos back to Spain in a body bag because you drained him too far. Though there would be an uproar of applause. It is rude to reward such an insufferable ass," a deep white glow extended from Northstar to the link between Carlos and Bobby and both men seemed to draw strength from it. Similar to the flash of light Northstar seemed to give off when flying, he was glowing first warmly and then brighter and brighter, until it was difficult to look at him. With eyes a flash  Northstar then focused the light into Carlos and Iceman, both of them beginning to glow as he had, and more importantly heal.
"O-ok," Bobby said and slowly the acid seemed to stop bubbling so rapidly and instead ice bandages appeared and then the acid was forced out of Iceman's body until there were crackling puddles on the ground.
"Not bad, Jean-Paul, were you going to tell us about that healing light of yours?" Psyche asked sarcastically.
Northstar sat back on his haunches, the glow subsiding far quicker than it had built up. "I've only been able to do this with my sister, to help her at times with her fractured identities, but I reasoned that Carlos's empathic psychic healing could tap into my strength of will that they both obviously lack," Northstar said snidely breaking contact. Bobby and Carlos both gasped as if an oxygen line had been taken away and then Iceman was able to shift to a fully human form. Carlos merely dropped to his haunches, holding his nearly healed wound, not looking as ragged anymore.
"We need to get that tended to," Archangel said helping Carlos to his feet. "And thanks, Carlos. Between the Professor's nod and you unhesitantly helping us twice I'm willing to offer you a hand of at the very least amicability."
"Why thank you, Mr. Worthington," Carlos rasped, "you'll find that our motives and morals are not as far apart as my associations may've originally brought you to believe."
"Touching," Sabine sneered then leapt at the group of them. She kicked Bobby and Psyche to one side then hurled steel pins at Archangel, nicking his wings in several places. Archangel tried to flap his way airborne but a thick resin was spreading like fire over his wings secreted from the pins until they were completely encased in a dark gelatinous goo as firm, dense and heavy as amber. Never having been without the balance of his wings but still saddled with their considerable weight he tumbled backgrounds, taking Carlos down to the ground with him.
"Enough!" Psyche said,, her psi powers ablaze and a staff appeared in her bloodied hands. "This ends here and now!"
"Allow me!" Northstar said, dashing into Sabine with half a dozen blows that seemed to be moving in slow motion as she back flipped away from them, throwing equally vicious jabs and punches at him. Northstar maintained a heightened speed, increasing it in increments to dodge her blows but at best they were both evenly matched, they were at a stalemate of blocking blows rather than truly landing them. To the others it looked like the ultimate martial arts exchange with no headway being made by either.
"Danielle!" Carlos groaned and Psyche helped him to stand, using her shoulder to brace him. We can't defeat her because of the thread. Can you see the thread?"
"Thread? What are you talking--------?" but the very mentioned of it suddenly seemed to make it visible. Or better yet, apparent, apparent to her. There was a thread, no wider than a piece of cloth thread that seemed to be in Sabine's back and extending up into the air. "I see it! So we cut it?"
"She is literally on the strings of someone else. And if it's the Marauders she leads then I would suggest Mr. Sinister. I doubt that either you or I have the power to cut his string to his puppet, but we might be able to disrupt it," Carlos said weakly to her.
"Ok, how?" Psyche mumbled, she preferred direct action and the range of Carlos' psi abilities seemed to not be amazingly powerful but incredibly keen. She wasn't sure if she trusted him more or less for them now being revealed.
"Psionics is not my power base.merely an offshoot. But I can perceive on different planes. I can show you how to attack the thread itself if you'll link with me. It doesn't exist in this plane of reality," he whispered. The flurry of Northstar and Sabine's violent dance to Carlos' eyes an obvious standoff.
"You're always so polite, Carlos, so cautious with your words. Say what it is or what you mean, man, we don't have a lot of time here!" Psyche barked.
Carlos laughed, choking again then turned her face to his with his free hand. "For one so powerful and ripened with the Valkyrie essence, you are such a tempestuous one. Look at me, Danielle and see what I hold within my essence!"
Psyche felt her mind being first poked at, almost cautiously, or rather politely. And that polite touching could only be the ever-courteous Allegra. Finally she felt his essence spreading over hers, touching her being without trying to pierce into her sense of Self, merely becoming like a drape over her mind. He leaned in and kissed her, long and deep and at first she was enraptured, amazed at the gentleness she sensed in him and then she realized it was an ulterior motive as his salty blood was forced down her throat by his tongue.
Don't resist, Danielle, the Beast is strong but there shall be no harm, Carlos projected into her mind and Psyche hesitated wondering what he was talking about then she saw the Death image in his face, crawling up her flesh, seeping into her. Death was in his blood! But not like a biological disease, this Death was an Entity. So old that she got whispers of it in words, in names she knew were older than anything she could ever hope to speak. But she knew that it hungered. It hungered for light, for flesh, for breath, and when it saw all three in Psyche it instinctively grabbed at her.
She shrieked and tried to refuse him, to put up her psi shields but Carlos, weakened by a wound, held her in an iron grip, body and mind. Get out of me!
You are one of Death's champions, Danielle, do not insult one of it's relatives, Carlos smiled and she felt him grip her in the comfort of his own essence as a barrier against the darkness, a shield from that which he gave her. He was allowing her to share in it but not be possessed by it, infected by it, as he was. Her first instinct had been to panic but now she understood that Carlos was both gleeful to share this secret and deeply concerned that she not be infected by it. She also caught the wisp of a secret of his, he had manipulated Amara into liking him, into wanting him as her second, as her bodyguard, but Danielle fascinated him. Something akin to infatuation, as if he had so many things he wanted to share with her, talk to her about that only she would understand.
That they were akin to the other.
Danielle shrieked again and tumbled to the ground, Carlos landing on top of her, their mouths still locked, clutching each other until he slipped unconscious. But she could feel that his mind was strong, glowing with power even and his body was healing, and somehow the transfer had boosted his ability to heal rapidly. She could sense that the wound was almost completely healed. Similar to her rapport with Warren she could feel deeply into Carlos's mental state but unlike Warren, Carlos had experience in keeping his mind private, segmented. She could sense him, his presence, his healing but his thoughts were his own. There was something in the blood which had locked them into a rapport, some kind of animal----hadn't he called it a Beast?
"Paulie, help her!" Archangel ordered, trying to crawl over to Dani. "It felt like she was drowning in something. Something in his mind!" He clawed his way across the ground trying to get closer to her, his wings like huge stone weights, not sure what Carlos had done to her though her could feel her calming through their rapport.
"Dani? You ok? What happened?" Paulie asked as he lifted Carlos off of her and gently rolled him onto his back. "That did not look like a fight. In fact it looked like humping. Which if that's his super power, I will not be practicing with him in the Danger Room. Though if it's a new power of yours, I'm willing to be your test case when you need it."
"It wasn't a fight. I'm fine. He's a psi but not like we understand, he was trying to show me something Help me see what he can see on Sabine," Psyche said, letting her teammate help her to her feet as she took a good look at Sabine and Northstar who looked like vague impressions striking at each other. But with a bit of focus, almost like holding Carlos's mental hand she could see them moving much slower, closer to human speed which explained how he'd been able to fight her. But the thread was a fully intact cord now, wrapped firmly around the hand of a woman, an astral figure that was a deep cerulean.
"Who are you?" Psyche demanded of the woman. "Yes, you!"
Meridian turned, mildly surprised at their battlefield improvisation but not afraid. I am the one who holds Sabine's conduit, Meridian answered as if it was simply the most obvious answer on the planet.
"Who are you talking to, Moonstar? Don't go bonkers on me now!" Paulie asked nervously.

"You're not Sinister!" Psyche yelled.
Meridian considered her answer then psi spoke so only Psyche could hear her. As a noun, no, but as an adjective, I'd have to say, yes.
"I take it you're seeing something I can't?" Paulie nodded. "Or that a battlefield hump drives you crazy?"
"Yes, Paulie, a woman. She's all blue and she has Sabine on a leash. I don't think we're dealing with Sinister at all."
Sabine, if you're done exercising, you may leave with our prize now, Meridian said calmly. First, Iceman, he presents the most threat should he be accidentally harmed to my long term plans.
Yes, mistress.
Sabine tripled her speed, easily knocking Northstar out with several well placed blows, his shocked expression priceless then she held open her hands and shruiken appeared, flying into Bobby who was barely conscious, disabling him.
"Behind me, chief, I think I know what to do," Paulie said as he ran towards Sabine. Sabine flipped backwards, landing with the grace of a falling feather, opened her hands and beckoned him. "Sabine has no use for you, Paulie. You I have been given as a kill."
"Is that right?" Paulie grinned as Sabine charged into him with a flurry of kicks and jabs that had no effect upon his invulnerable flesh. "How about this!" he laughed then savagely kicked her in the crotch. "Works on women too."
Sabine fell into a crouch then looked up, gasping in pain and grinning. "Yes, it does, however everything is fluid."
With those words, Sabine's flesh flowed like water until she was a man and came up with a blow that sent Paulie hurtling hundreds of feet, his exclamation heard across the battlefield until he landed nearly half a mile away. "I do not need to keep any part of my body that is in pain."
Magma stood up, flames flickering from her body. "Psyche, I take it that Sabine is a metamorphic as well."
"Amara, I'm not sure what the hell Sabine is! But she.now he, is very good." Sabine's swords were sheathed and he laid his palms out flat, energy cascading outwards like a wave that knocked the two X-Men to the ground. Sabine rose into the air, his body surrounded by flares of plasma energy and he fired another cascade at them, this time though it was stopped by an ice wall.
"Once I remember what frog legs told me, I realized that my body, like yours, is a choice. And right now I choose the form that is gonna kick your ass!" Iceman roared, rising on a sled of ice, his body grotesquely over-proportioned and spiked. Sabine was startled by the speed which Iceman traveled the ramp, not so much carrying him as extending his body up so that the slamming blow to the ground could be achieved.
Psyche took the chance at lashing out with her psi power at both Sabine and the blue woman, reasoning that the invisible woman could reach her with telepathy so she could be struck down mentally. Thousands of images came sprouting forth from both minds and Sabine curled into a ball then spasmed out, plasma again tidal waving into them all.
Meridian, miles away, slammed back into her chair. She had to retreat from Sabine, from the battlefield so that her mind wouldn't be so violently rendered as her servant's was. She felt for the mental connection again, and wordlessly encouraged Sabine to look beyond all of the manifested fears. They were not real. There was only one true fear that Sabine need concern himself with.
Failing Meridian.
Paulie and Carlos ran over to the two X-Women who were keeping their distance from Sabine but ready to strike at a moment's notice. If the mutant metamorph was wise, he wouldn't get up. But Sabine turned a feral look on his face and smiled. "For that, I will take pleasure in this."
His hands erupted with plasma energy, blasting through the X-Men as he rose into the air.
Psyche threw up her arms but then felt a slamming in her side; it was Northstar shoving them all out of the way of the plasma blasts at super speed.
"I do so tire of the constant rescuing of you all," Northstar sighed then stopped in mid-flight, reversed directions and headed at Sabine.
Sabine's hands began to radiate plasma brighter and brighter until Northstar was about to touch him then a shield deflected the speedster, sending him ricocheting off into the upper atmosphere. Magma almost gleefully opened fire with her highest-level lava bolts only to have Sabine's plasma blasts disperse them.
Psyche reached at Sabine's mind again but this time the shapeshifter was ready and flew down, grabbing the front of her jacket and yanking her into the air.
"Hey!" Paulie shouted, leaping wildly and catching onto Sabine's legs. "She's ours, no fair!"
"I second that!" Iceman said sliding by and firing razor sharp ice pellets into Sabine's face, distracting him enough so that Iceman could snatch his teammate free. Sabine streaked away from Iceman, snatching Paulie up and then fired a plasma blast directly into his chest, grinning as the shocked X-Man was propelled through the air.
"Perhaps it is time that I show you what I am capable of!" Carlos roared, his trench coat opening as the winds around him began to swirl and the midday clear sky go dark. For half a mile, the dark clouds rumbled and lightning crackled above them as Carlos's eye flared crimson.
"Did you know he could do that?" Iceman asked Psyche.
"No. I'm starting to get real nervous about Mr. Allegra," she murmured but even as she said it, she didn't believe her own doubts. There was something inherently noble about Carlos, as if he kept secrets not to profit himself but to protect others. She saw flashes of France in her mind's eye, a tall green eyed woman with blonde curls half dressed in a corset and the lower half of a Victorian gown.
"Carlos?' the woman questioned. "Whatever are you doing and who is this common woman?"

Danielle, you're not helping. You must learn how to maintain focus, Carlos told her mentally through their new rapport and then the images went away.

Was that someone now? Is she in France now? Or was that somewhen else? Psyche asked, shocked but curious.
Again, in time, Danielle. I fear we have a greater threat at hand then even we could've surmised at first.
I agree. Are you controlling the weather? We can get out of here if you need space to pound Sabine.
No. This isn't so much of an illusion as I'm merely "slamming my hands into a puddle". It looks like it's building to more than it truly will.
Suddenly they both felt the shocked traveling through the rapport and heard the crude mental shout. How is he in our rapport?!
Warren? Psyche realized.
Oh my. A psionic ménage a trois, Carlos actually grinned and they could both feel Warren blush violently even in his awe at the raw intimacy they all felt with one another, with varying degrees of comfortability.
Magma, focusing, had drawn herself up on an earthen column and was hurling bolts of flame and lava at Sabine but it was clear that though Sabine dodged a few and blasted some others, he was merely waiting for a clear shot not truly challenged.
Hold my mind and hold onto the Beast you feel, Danielle. Think of it as a knife that we're going to stab Sabine with, Carlos thought and in an instant they had joined together in intent, psychically pushing aside a befuddled Warren and launching their mental attack at Sabine.
Sabine screamed and dropped to the ground, fears, loves, desires, joys all manifesting around him and now plasma energy erupting from cracks in his skin. Carlos pulled back from his miniscule elemental display until the sky had returned to normal and cautiously approached Sabine.
I prepare for every eventuality, X-Men. We will have our prize, Meridian whispered and her interest was piqued as she could see that Carlos had heard a glimmer of her words. Sabine reverted to a woman again and this time, stood up, fully healed, clutching her blades. Carlos now suspected that the blades were in fact a manifestation of the feminine entity powers and the plasma energy of the masculine form. He smiled inwardly as he felt Danielle concur with his understanding and several seconds later Warren as well. It was quite interesting how this had happened and more interesting how it was stronger as a triumvirate than he would've believed.
"I can continue to maintain switching back and forth between forms until I have eliminated you all," Sabine threatened as Iceman and Psyche landed behind him.
"The rest of the Marauders are down, Sabine, you gain nothing by fighting us to a stand still and we both out-number and out power you!" Magma said fiercely landing on the other side of the small woman.
"You think this is all my mistress has made me capable of?" Sabine chuckled and then jammed her swords into the ground. For seconds they all froze, steeling themselves for whatever was to happen next. When nothing did they looked around curiously.
"Ummmm, I think your trick didn't work," Iceman grinned. "How about you get that gunk off of our guy Archangel and we'll tell the police how nicely you surrendered?"
"Imbecile!" Sabine laughed and shafts of light shot up into the sky from each sword's hilt and then fanned open Arclight, Blockbuster, Riptide and Harpoon hurrying out of one portal.

And then shockingly enough another set of Marauders coming out to cover Sabine's back from the second portal. From the first portal came another set of the quartet and then another from the second and in quick succession two more sets from each portal. Four sets of Marauders, sixteen in total faced the X-Men. Clones. There was no reason to not buy spare sets, Meridian chuckled miles away, loving the sight of complete shock on the X-Men's faces.
"Rock them, Amara!" Psyche screamed and a massive localized earth quake hit instantly, Magma riding past the scattering Marauders on a blasting stream of lava, all of them shocked at how fast she could call up so much power. But Psyche knew her teammate had trouble not calling up a huge degree of lava and earth to manipulate and at some point she would have to ask her would Madripoor be paying for all of this sudden seismic activity. Iceman threw up an ice shield, which formed into a dense ball around them as Psyche snatched Carlos inside, and Magma swept them along.
"Northstar?" Psyche shouted over her comm link, watching as Iceman focused on maintaining the integrity of the ice enclosure against the lava outside. They had theorized this as quick exiting move but how long could he keep them safe had never been practiced before.
"I am fine and I've spotted Paulie. I also can see that the Marauders have multiplied exponentially," he said as he streaked back towards the battlefield. He had been briefly stunned but was now both angry and at the same time concerned for himself and his teammates. Their second mission had snowballed into a fiasco of deadly proportions.
"Retrieve Warren first, he's on the outskirts of those monsters!" Psyche shouted and suddenly felt something through her rapport.
"I feel it too!" Carlos said and collapsed to one knee.
"They aren't pursuing you," Northstar said from a topside view, "they're surrounding Warren."
"This Meridian woman is somehow cutting off our mental link to Warren!" Psyche shocked. It felt almost like Warren was dying an inch at a time, like his light within her mind was dimming.
You are not alone! Carlos shouted psychically and she wasn't sure if it was for her or Warren but the cool, obsidian firmness, like marble, strength that his psyche brought to the rapport reaffirmed the light, made it shine brighter.
"What's the plan, chief? We going back into that? We just can't leave him!" Iceman shouted at her.
"Magma, stop the push, we've got distance," Psyche said into her comm link and a moment later the ice ball melted open, iceman no longer reinforcing it and they were almost two city blocks away from where they'd been before.
"I suspect that Warren was the target all along," Carlos said as Paulie came jogging down the street.
"They got Wings, huh?" he asked. "is it just me or is he really becoming the Patty Hearst of the team?"
"Yes," Magma answered, "but they seem to only be surrounding him, not harming him, nor disappearing.
"Sabine is generating some sort of telepathic static field. Meridian must know about my rapport with him, she's trying to break it, I think," Psyche answered, examining the odds from every angle, she had to face that they were outgunned and outclassed. This was beginning to look like an ambush from the get go.
"Umm, I have a question. Is that Phoenix, Psylocke and Colossus appearing over there or am I completely wrong in my omnibus knowledge of all things X-Men?" Paulie said, pointing further down the block and twenty feet in the air.
"Considering the fact that two of them are dead and one isn't..this week, I sure as hell hope not," Iceman muttered.
"No, that's Shadowcat. Looks like she's come to appreciate a good katana though," Magma said wryly.
"And the woman?" Paulie asked.
"Nemesis, from Alpha Flight. How on Earth she's come to be associated with us I have no idea, her cloak just looked like a bird's wings in the energy effect," Northstar explained, appearing next to the group in an instant. "The X-Men's obsession with Phoenix is really quite nauseating."
"And I'm Peter. Peter Rasputin!" Peter smiled brightly, waving excitedly, wearing a leather tank top and pants in the stylized X uniform. "Look! I have a uniform just like you guys!"
"I knew Peter Rasputin. Peter Rasputin was a good friend of mine. And you, sir, are no Peter Rasputin," Iceman snapped as the trio got closer though from a distance he did look like his dead comrade. Except for having much longer hair, a couple of inches shorter, being maybe thirty pounds lighter and definitely much tanner.
"He's Peter's son. So technically he's Peter Rasputin, Jr.," Shadowcat explained to the X-men who responded in kind.
"Well that explains it."
"Of course."

"He looks to be a year or two younger than Colossus, of course, he's his son. Colossus was an X-Man, we're totally against kids growing at a normal rate. Ask Cable."

"We came as reinforcements and seeing as there are quadruplet Marauders surrounding Archangel out there, I take it that was a good idea?" Shadowcat smiled then quickly explained Nemesis having been part of the Australian government's idea and Alex Rosten back at the Sanctuary base.
"He gave me this neat-o uniform but I didn't like the jacket," Peter smiled.
"Did he just say "neat-o"?" Northstar snorted.
"Don't even act like you're not checking him out, Twinkletoes, I'm not getting a woody and I know that he's one hot number," Paulie grinned, but he couldn't take his eyes off of Shadowcat. She was standing there in a midriff tank top, pants with part of the thighs cut out, weapons and satchels all over. Very Buffy the Vampire Slayer with golden arm bands and such a determined look in her eyes. He was in love. Well, lust at least. He had to make a good impression. He had to say something so that she would notice him and realize how much of an obvious lynchpin he was to this new team. How much he was the backbone of them all, how he was a guiding carrying force.
"Hi, my name is Paulie but you can call me.Paulie," he said eagerly, until he realized what he was actually saying out loud and Shadowcat snickered.
"D'oh!" Iceman mocked from behind Paulie and they all turned back to the stand off at hand.
"I have the feeling that this was all an ambush to get Warren which is why he was incapacitated. Northstar could get over their the fastest but they would rip him apart before he could get Warren five feet and they know it," Psyche said.
"Do we have any idea what they're waiting for?" Shadowcat asked.
"I would surmise their leader, Meridian," Carlos said calmly.

Sabine's sword portal opened once again and Meridian covered in a deep cobalt hooded cloak stepped through.
"Is this where you threaten me and then commence to chop me into little pieces?" Archangel grunted angrily, he'd been trying to move, to crawl even but the resin on his wings had grown heavier and heavier as the minutes had passed. It felt like it must've weighed a ton. Have all the Marauders in quadruplicates strolling around him like a pack of angry wolves was making him feel dark and surly.
"I am here for you. Surely, you must have surmised that by now," Meridian chuckled in a husky whisper.
"Don't call me Shirley," Archangel said just to have a response as she kneeled down next to him. She shook off the hood.
"How funny. Down to business. We have to get going, Warren, we can't stay here any longer and for reasons you'll come to understand, I cannot have my identity compromised by the locals."
"By locals you mean----?"
"Viper. Her army is on its way. I had a group of Marauders attack her offices to draw them away from here. But they've killed that team and now are but a few minutes away."
"I take it that you've been buying the Marauder clones wholesale?" he snapped.
"At ten million a group, it was not cheap," Meridian shrugged. "But back to you and I. There is a problem with Sabine's teleportational portals. They can transit anyone one way from a set spot but to return to that spot everyone must go willingly. You literally can decide whether or not to come with us, Warren."
"Then I decide no. You're clearly insane and you've bought these poor creatures to further some twisted plan. You kind are all alike."
"If you'll give me a few hours of your time, you'll come to see that I am of no other kind. I am original. However you must decide quickly. You have seen my face, you could betray me to Viper and then we would have a problem."
"Afraid of her, are you?" Archangel chuckled. She was startlingly beautiful in spite of the fact that her long hair was a light blue, which matched her eyebrows and even her lipstick.
"No, you misunderstand. Should that army arrive while I am still on this particular spot, Sabine and I will step through the portal. That will leave sixteen Marauders to tear into the army and your fellow X-Men. I don't care about winners or losers, I will consider this deal closed and two minutes later this entire island will be destroyed from a low orbiting satellite I have trained on it. Well over a million people dead because you decided to be stubborn. I promise no harm will come to you, you and I merely need to discuss some things."
"You could've called my office for a meeting," he said glibly but the look in her ice blue eyes told him that she was telling the truth. That she was committed to winning and would destroy everything in her wake if that were no longer possible. "You shutdown the psi rapport?"
"Yes, but it's proving to be more tenacious than I expected. Soon your fellow X-Men will have a direct psionic line into this conversation and that will nullify what I am about to offer you. Nullification of my offer results in this island being razed."
"And what is it you offer?" Archangel asked, she'd covered so many of the bases. Meridian smiled. When they asked what the exact terms were that meant that they were closer to a yes than a no. She leaned down, her cheek lightly touching his as she whispered into his ear.
He looked up at her stunned.
"Oh, yes. Completely true. Now you see why I couldn't have anyone peeking into your head for the time being."
Archangel nodded, then slammed his arm against the ground, he looked at his teammates so far away and the circle of Marauder's with their backs to him. The only one facing him was the impassive Sabine who held her swords at the ready to conceivably open another portal.

"If we go hard and fast then we can snatch him out," Shadowcat nodded. "Northstar and I will be in and out with him in a flash. The rest of you just barrel into them."
"They are unfamiliar with several of us, that will give us a distinct advantage," Nemesis offered.
"Hopefully you'll be able to signal Gateway to pull us out with the Marauder's in tow? If we can get them onto home turf in the middle of nowhere we should be able to take them out. We've caused too much damage here with just a small team. We'd destroy the city if we started a full blown battle here," Psyche said to Nemesis who nodded.
"Looks like we're about to start a new X-Men war on Madripoor," Iceman said and pointed at the half dozen tanks lead by Viper in a jeep that were rolling down the street towards them.
"Sadly enough, we could use her help," Carlos said.
"Look!" Paulie shouted and they all looked at the circle of Marauder's parting as one of the Blockbusters lifted Archangel and followed him and a blue cloaked figure into Sabine's sword portal.
"No!" Psyche screamed then turned to Shadowcat and Northstar who were already gone, racing towards the Marauders.
Sabine leaped up into the air and slashed her swords then dropped to the ground again, having increased her speed to the point of her actions not being visible. By the time Northstar and Shadowcat arrived, an instant after their teammate had gone into the portal, the entire group of Marauder clones had been slashed. Her blades moving space through them, corrupting time to the point that dead bodies collapsed around Northstar and Shadowcat as they came to a stop. Archangel was already gone.
"No one can move that fast!" Northstar exclaimed.
Shadowcat drew her katana and faced Sabine. "Obviously she can and I'll take her head if she doesn't bring him back!" The rest of the X-men had run over only to be revolted by the carnage around them. The Marauders were villains, yes but to suddenly be judged so disposable brought it home how pitiful they were. Only tools to be used by one master or another.
"It was always a one way trip for me. I am to die here and take as many of you to the grave with me so that none may challenge my mistress for her prize!" Sabine screamed and leaped at the X-Men.
Shadowcat coolly phased through Sabine then cracked her in the back with the hilt of her blade and twisted around, solidifying her feet to trip the woman. She was back in attack position by the time Sabine recovered and turned.
"You don't want to do this, Sabine, we're ready for you. Both of you this time," Shadowcat said and gave a cue to the others. Peter raised his hands and the metal of Sabine's blades began to tremble, to lean towards him.
"No!" she shrieked in pain.
"You were right, they are a part of her!" Peter grimaced, his connection to the metal revealing an organic component, organic connection to the woman holding it. He let his affinity to metal go deeper into the connection and could almost visually see the metal itself networked throughout her body. He grasped at it, yanked at the metal connection, not caring the pain he wrought. For his entire social naïveté, Peter was raised a warrior in a far harsher world than the X-Men would ever know. He knew that if you allowed an enemy to recover, especially one so deadly, you ended up dead.
Northstar crashed into Sabine, his fists a flurry of brutal snaps, dozens within a second focused into single points as the earth crept up around Sabine's lower extremities, holding her in face. Before she could resist Carlos and Psyche linked hands and smashed through her mind with psionic gifts, ripping ferociously through her mind. Blocks of ice formed around her hands, weighing them down to the ground as the intense cold kept seeping deeper and deeper into her arms, numbing them.
Nemesis swooped down behind her, drew her own saber and crossed it in front of Sabine's throat then rasped," Now, my dear, you will tell us where our compatriot has been taken or I will behead you and see if your male counterpart will tell."
"Kill me and you kill him," Sabine grunted.
"Oh, well, we're inventive, we'll figure out a new way to find our teammate," Nemesis shrugged and pressed the metal into the woman's jugular.
"I am not afraid to die," Sabine shrieked.
"Good! I like a torture session that will last," Viper hollered as she rode over on a jeep driven by military officers. "Thank you, X-Men for your help in dealing with this menace. Though next time could you not leave so many body parts littering the field. We have children nearby, you know."
"This woman helped someone else kidnap Archangel, we need to question her," Psyche said boldly.
"After she's put into custody. She has much to answer for being a bank robber and such. Careful, Danielle, arguing international law is out of your range I'm sure. I am the sovereign of the land you stand on. You have my oath that she will not be killed before you can question her and that we have the facilities to detain her. Now I do hope we're going to avoid the X-Men tangling with my military. You and your ilk are heroes here, let's keep it that way," Viper grinned.
"I will willingly go with Viper," Sabine said and after a long exchange of heated glares at Viper. They had accomplished their mission, Archangel as a possible casualty wasn't Viper's fault or Hightown's responsibility to deal with the ensuing damage they could cause.
"Take her but becareful," Psyche spat. "No "accidents"."
"Perish the thought," Viper said coolly and a Hummer pulled up with the equipment necessary to incapacitate the young woman.
Have no worries, Sabine, I will alert you to when the time is ripe. You are safe.

San Madre, Argentina:

The riot had begun slowly, as most do. First there was discord, grumbling, then infighting. Within an hour there was a plan of attack against the town they all blamed for their poverty, their plight, their aching backs. San Madre had withdrawn it's support from the sugar mill as a collective entity, as one body. The first reaction from management had been awe, it was something that had never been done so completely before. And then there was disgust and a vow to never take anyone from that town back into its good graces. But the mass exodus of those from San Madre had sent a splash of terror through the surrounding towns as well.
Something was wrong. With first the sugar mill and then San Madre itself. Soon the outlying towns were whispering about how the Madrians didn't associate with anyone anymore. How they were having secret night ceremonies. How they were shipping in all manner of equipment from the capital. Were they planning revolution? War? Something, darker, more sinister? Women cast dried bones and men cut open chickens searching for an answer about San Madre. Younger men and woman who respected but didn't believe their parents ways, tried to insinuate themselves into the town, to spy but either find themselves rebuffed or that their co-spies had defected to San Madre without a word of explanation.
That was when the word came to attack, to raze the town, to obliterate it. It was evil, yes? First it had destroyed the local economy that had been working so well (the cheapest labor for 100 miles) and now they were obviously Devil possessed. Far too easily two hundred men were assembled, some given weapons and others having arrived with malice in heart and hand. At ten that night the caravan of horses and cars and trucks, full of violent, angry, drunken men sped down the road only to come to screeching halt at the amazing sight ahead the glowing figures standing in the middle of the road.

Chamber and Spike stood on either side of Nightcrawler, he radiating brilliantly from his chest, while Spike had manifested glowing protective armor with viciously looking spikes all around it.
Ummmmmm, what if these men decide to bash our skulls in? Chamber asked.
"I'm a doctor, Chamber, if they decide to bash our skulls in, I'll fix it.," Spike answered.
"And if they bash your skull in?" Nightcrawler asked darkly.
"Oh, I'm from the Bronx, there will be no skull bashing upon my beautiful coconut," Spike snapped.
"The town is under our protection! Turn around and no one will get hurt!' Nightcrawler shouted to the men.

Talisman, hovering hundreds of feet above, saw several flashes from the jungle below. They'd decided to intercept the rioters three miles outside of San Madre and she would keep an eye on both problems from above. The gunshots and screams became louder and finally she couldn't resist anymore, if her teammates were in danger she had to try and help. More of a floater/glider than flyer it took her a moment to orient her body to descend rapidly but once she did she came up a melee.
Spike had formed the defensive point, expanding her energy field out to smashing through people and machines alike while Chamber used his psi blasts to take out half a dozen men at a time. Nightcrawler, almost faster than the eye could see, teleported through the crowd, disarming the artillery and striking strategically at tens of opponents at a time. She had to admit that they were doing an effective job, maintaining a tight formation and soon the gang would be gone until she felt the wave of evil from behind.
Something had awoken.
"Oh, shit," Talisman muttered and landed in the road facing San Madre, her hands feeling desperately through the fabric, the lattice of energy that all things had for some sort of idea of what was coming. It was more than the Brood. She knew that now. The aliens couldn't have stayed hidden under her mystical scans for so long. This was a greater threat than they had ever imagined.
She dropped to her knees, having felt a stabbing pain in her mind and she saw a mental flash of Tran screaming in agony somewhere within the town.
"Frenzy!" Talisman shrieked over her comm link. "Karma is in trouble! Help them!"
"Where------? I'm at the hotel and ohmifuckinggod!!!!!" Frenzy screamed and then the comm link went dead.
There was a loud bamfing sound and Nightcrawler was at Talisman's side. "Elizabeth, what is it?"
"We have to get out of here, Kurt!" she screamed and the shadows from the jungle suddenly seemed to be all around her. Inside of her. Piercing deep into her heart. "They're coming!"
Chamber was the next to sense it as it felt like the jungle around them had suddenly become. Become alive. Become hungry.
Spike, using her psi-plasma field swiped back a dozen men gleefully until she noticed her teammates weren't with her. She turned and saw the first of the wave of aliens coming through the thicket of bush and trees. "Oh, this ain't good at all."
Nightcrawler snatched up Talisman and vanished, reappearing next to Chamber and Spike who were in front of the gaping, terrified former rioters. "Elizabeth, get these men to safety! Chamber, Spike same formation at the Brood!"
"I can't leave you here!" Talisman said, the consuming evil she felt from the flying Brood was more than anything she had felt before. These aliens had been changed by something in the town. They were more than just the Brood, their scales were a bloody red, their fangs jagged, as if they'd been crossed with something, something ancient and dark. But even within them, Talisman could sense human beings, human beings who relished this changed!
"I can teleport the four of us out of here or you can move these people back while we stop the Brood. Five miles, ja?" he said to her, their contingency plan still in place.
"Five miles," Talisman nodded fiercely then turned and faced the petrified rioters, the Brood a hundred meters away and closing in. The men were too petrified to even run. She whispered to the Wind, to get it's attention, she reminded it that she was the Promised One, she told it how far, how much and now, now, now! Talisman barely had time to let go of Nightcrawler's hand as a hurricane swept from around her ad slammed into the two hundred humans, hurtling them into the air. She rose with them, spinning wildly, her spells always abrupt and rather violent the larger her scope but she could see her teammates engaging the Brood. She focused on righting herself, on taming the wind around her as it was buffered around each living person in the hurricane so as to sweep them away but not snap them in two. Her limbs felt on fire, the Wind Elements draining at her very being to act so quickly. Magic was always an exchange, especially when done abruptly with so many specifics. She whirled around and saw her mystic wards that were within a five-mile radius of the town of San Madre, she'd spent the better part of twelve hours setting them up. As frightened wailing men were sent passing harmlessly through it, she saw it getting brighter and brighter until the thousand foot high dome of energy around the town could be seen visibly by everyone.
It had been their last stopgap, containing the town itself when the Brood went berserk as they were doing now. She heard something behind her, a chattering of teeth, turned her head and a dozen winged Brood were speeding towards her. She was being pulled in too many different directions power wise. Her power while great wasn't infinite. In fact as soon as the men were safely on the other side of the force field the air abruptly dropped them, some from as high as twenty feet (whatever injuries they sustained were well deserved based upon their original intentions) but she couldn't spare the Wind, she needed it back with her, to push the Brood back.
The aliens were relentless, tentacles grabbing her legs and arms as she focused on the Wind get her two hundred charges safely to the other side of what was now Hell to her before she even tried to fight them.
"X-Men!" she cried out, searching desperately with her mind's eye for her teammates but all she got was a desperate struggle, life and death emotions from those nearest. Her field would hold, that she knew, so she called upon darker spirits, one's of death and decay and channeled them through her very flesh. She screamed as the vileness poured form her but it had the desired effect in repelling the Brood but soon a dozen more took their place, slamming their bodies into her, forcing her to sail towards the ground.
Talisman knew that something was wrong when the trees and her very force field began to tremble. An earthquake? The Wind whispered to her that all of her charges had been delivered to the other side of the shield as requested and she pulled them around herself, to right herself in the air. The ground was shaking, trees were uprooting within her field.
The very town itself was beginning to slowly ascend!
The entire town had been the starship.
Talisman saw her chance and took it, she thought of her shield as a contracting bubble, called for it to come in closer and at first by inches it did. Then feet. Then meters. She couldn't stop the town but she could make damn sure not a single Brood got accidentally left behind. She could feel her teammates terror, their resolve to finish this but she knew it was useless. They were too weak. The very sight of close to a thousand Brood flying towards her told Talisman that the rioters had distracted them, they should've done anything to simply have blown the town to bits.
Her com link squawked several times and she realized it was German curses so she opened the mystical tether she'd tossed to him before, the connection much easier having been done before. Nightcrawler appeared next to her in the night sky, her winds holding him afloat. He was bruised and cut but still smiled resolutely. "Welcome to the X-Men, having fun yet?"
Talisman would've laughed if it hadn't of been so dire. "Things got hairier in Alpha Flight. What's the plan, the shield will contain but we're stuck in here with them unless we rabbit. The town is rising slowly but I don't think it will stay that way for long. I can't promise how long I can keep my field up, I'm not exactly experienced in space travelling and my magicks are Earth based."
"Call the others. We need them," Nightcrawler said almost regretfully, he had wanted to prove that his squad could handle a threat but they had walked into something larger than them.
"Look!" Talisman said and pointed at Hunter's small Shi'ar ship outside of the field. He'd been parked outside of the five-mile radius of the field.
"Good, he can ferry the others to us. Call them!" Nightcrawler said emphatically  the swarm of Brood within a thousand feet of them now. The shield growing smaller on one side, the town rising on the other and thousands of Brood coming closer on yet another front. Where was Phoenix when you truly needed her? Talisman nodded, reaching out with her mind to the one she knew would be with, the spirit she was most familiar with, as persnickety as he was.

Thank you for reading,
Kyle Phoenix
Email: kylephoenixshow@aol.com
Website: http://kylephoenixsite.com/Blog: http://kylephoenixshow.blogspot.com/2012Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast

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