Remnant of the Past: Chapter Seven
Marvel owns everyone but Remnant, so this qualifies as textual poaching.
"Get... Out..." Wolverine hissed as they reached the little room in the stairwell.
"I can't move," he gritted out.
All of a sudden, metal scraps flew everywhere, seemingly at random, but in fact with precision and skill as Magneto lashed the four X-Men to the copper walls.
"Effective, but no style," Magneto mused at his handiwork. A wave of the hands brought Wolverine's clawed fingers perilously close to his face and the de-visored Cyclops' head even closer to that of Jean Grey.
"Better," Sabretooth agreed.
"Your plan is doomed to failure," Jean Grey broke the silence.
"Isn't that what the good guys always say to the bad guys?" Magneto asked.
"Senator Kelly's dead," Storm cried out, shuddering from the memory of his passing.
"Are you sure you saw what you think you saw?"
"The mutation doesn't hold," Jean persisted. "The body rejects it, the way it would an organ transplant."
"You're lying," Remnant shrugged. "It worked on all the other test subjects." She smirked at the stare she received from the other woman. "What? You don't think we'd try such a drastic plan without a test run, did you?"
"Who else did you kill?"
"Nobody. The animal rights activists will be happy to know that not a rat nor a cat nor a cockroach was harmed during the making of this little drama." Remnant smiled.
"And if we are to get the next act underway," Magneto gestured.
Jean could feel Scott under tremendous mental strain. Remnant was trying to get him to open his eyes and he was fighting her. Jean sent her energy to Scott, soothing his fear that he would kill her while strengthening his mental wall against the invasion. How Remnant had gotten through in the first place...
"No games now," Magneto turned to Remnant, who broke off the connection. Cyclops gasped.
"This won't solve anything," Storm tried. "Even if this did work, even if you weren't about to commit mass murder, you wouldn't do any good."
"Why not?" Magneto smiled.
"You'd never get away with it," Storm reasoned. "You'd be hunted down."
"Whatever made you think that I expected to get away with anything, my dear Storm," Magneto asked. "I know what will probably happen to me. It is a small price to pay. If they catch me."
"There are other ways to achieve tolerance," Storm replied.
"Tolerance," Remnant laughed bitterly. "Tolerance is a funny word, isn't it? It means to endure, to 'deal with' something otherwise unpleasant. You tolerate a pet's misbehavior until it is housebroken. You tolerate your neighbor playing loud music at his party because it's Saturday night. I don't want to be tolerated."
"And you think you're going to get anything better through genocide?" Logan spit out angrily. He had kept silent until then, watching both sides. He did not like the attitude of Xavier's group, an attitude embodied by Cyclops. They were satisfied by the idea that they meant to do well, but if you're going to be a superhero, meaning to do well isn't enough.
Logan himself, on the other hand, knew he was too unwilling to sacrifice himself for others in order to save the world, so he made no pretenses. But Magneto's looped logic, probably no more dented than Xavier's, was not backed up by self-congratulatory softies. He had the soldiers to accomplish his aims. And that is why there was no more choosing sides.
"What's the matter, Logan?" Remnant turned to him and smiled. "Since when does the possibility of a little bloodshed disturb you?"
"I kill to survive."
"So do I. So will I." Remnant smiled. "And I will for your survival as well, Logan."
"You're not going to get your child back after this, you know that," Cyclops said after a moment. "No court in their right mind would grant custody to a homicidal maniac."
"I'm neither homicidal nor a maniac," Remnant replied conversationally. "But that's neither here nor there. I'm not planning on letting any court near this. I'm going to take my son and move on."
"If you're just going to kidnap him, why kill all of the world's leaders first? Why kill your husband first?"
"I'm not going to kill him. He's going to be... modified the same way everyone else is. And then we will be on equal footing. I don't want my son raised by a hate-monger and I don't want him scarred further by the memory of a kidnapping. He's been through enough."
"But being raised by his father's murderer is all right?" Jean Grey blurted out.
"He's currently being raised by his mother's killer," Remnant gave her a flat stare. "And I don't want to think about what might happen to him at his father's hand should he prove to have inherited my... gifts."
Jean's eyes fell for a moment. It was harder to stage a pitched battle when your opponent was proving all too similar to yourself.
"You're still here?" Toad entered the room.
"Not for long," Magneto replied. "Stay here and watch them." He then took off into the air, riding the magnetic waves. Holding his hand to increase her power, Remnant followed.
Jean looked around for some means of escape. She spotted Scott's visor lying on the ground behind Toad. Her telekinesis could carry it to her, but she'd have to get it past their guard.
They needed a distraction to move Toad. Wolverine was across the room, but she had to figure out a way to reach him. Her telepathy was much stronger in its receptive ability than in its projective, except with Scott, so a mental shout ran the risk of being heard by everyone. But...
Logan, she aimed a thought at him. He turned to her. Fortunately, no one else did.
I need you to occupy Toad so that I can pick up Scott's visor.
Wolverine looked at the visor, at Toad, then back to Jean. And then he nodded.
"Hey, frog boy," he called to Toad. "How come you always get stuck with the crappy jobs, huh? Magneto not trust you not to fuck everything else up?"
Toad took a step towards Wolverine and sneered.
"I mean, think about it," Wolverine continued. "When Magneto kidnapped Rogue, all you got to do was watch. And here you are stuck babysitting four people welded to the walls."
As Toad took another step towards his taunter, Jean focused on the visor, gently elevating it off the ground and moving it slowly towards her.
"Face it, froggie, you're the chauffeur, nothing more. Sabretooth gets the jobs that need his strength. Mystique was always useful. I killed her, by the way..."
With a cry of anguish, Toad extended his tongue and lashed out, knocking Wolverine's head against the copper wall. As he did so, Jean sped up the visor and brought it into her hand, strategically placed between her head and Scott's.
"Scott, when I tell you to, open your eyes."
"No!" he whispered back fiercely.
"Trust me," she begged. She tried to twist the visor around so that the optic blast would reflect through it and to Wolverine's manacles. His claws could then free the rest of them... Except Toad moved in the way of the intended trajectory.
"Oh, Toad," Storm cooed, seeing what Jean was up to behind Toad's back. "Come here for a moment."
As soon as he took a step forwards, Jean whispered "Now!" to Cyclops, who opened his eyes and the lasers, reflected, cut through the cuffs as intended.
Wolverine cut his legs loose before Toad could reach him and reached out for the green man, claws-first. A gash now spreading blood across Toad's stomach, the man jumped out of the hole in the roof to nurse his wounds and get reinforcements. Wolverine cut his companions loose and they made their way towards the torch.
Rogue screamed as Magneto grabbed her hand. The power surge, so familiar, was bad enough, but she was already starting to feel the emotions of her 'victim' and the rush of elation mixed with pain and determination was too much.
Literally drained, Magneto fell to his knees before Rogue, who in turn was too stunned to attempt to kick at him. Sabretooth picked him up with ease and deposited him none-too-gently near the parapet. Remnant checked him over and then, after deciding he was fine under the circumstances, went back to the machine's console.
She was still fiddling with the dials when her head jerked up suddenly. "They've escaped," Remnant told Sabretooth. "I can guard Erik, you go take care of them."
The tall man growled and nodded, then disappeared down the stairs.
"I hate complications," Remnant muttered. "Don't you, dear?" She asked Rogue.
The girl didn't answer, didn't even acknowledge that she had been spoken to. Remnant picked up the girl's face with the back of her gloved hand (careful to avoid contact with her exposed fingers) and chuckled at the dazed eyes.
"You're too much for her, Erik." Remnant chuckled, noticing that Rogue's eyes followed her voice to the seated Magneto.
Who's that verbrennter... So that's what I look like... that's what he looks like, Marie. Get a hold of yourself... get a hold of him... A steamer trunk.... A koffer... Just like the Professor told you... find a box to put him away in. We can label it 'Erik'... put it right next to Cody and on the other side of Logan... Charles always did have a neatness fetish. He could be such a parech at times when it came to that... Get into the box, Erik... No! No more boxes. No more guterwagen. Never again... Get in, damnit!....
Rogue screamed in agony and Remnant, sensing the cause of the crisis, shut her down. Rogue went from reliving that first entry into Sachsenhausen to rolling green hills and fluffy clouds and then to nothing.
Magneto stood up carefully as Remnant checked to make sure that the slumping Rogue hadn't lessened her effectiveness as the device's power source.
"If you're up to it, I'm going to go down and help Victor," she said. "Toad has been hurt and I can't sense Mystique."
"They couldn't have killed her," Magneto shook his head, his voice still weak.
"Logan might have, but I don't know. There's a lot of background noise, so to speak. She could merely be unconscious."
As Remnant glided down the torch arm, she could see Wolverine and Sabretooth in pitched battle on the museum rooftop. Opening up her mind to the astral plane, she found Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Storm. The last was engaged with the weakened Toad, leaving the other two to make their way towards the torch.
They had not gotten very far. Toad had gummed up the doors to the Statue itself -- either she or Magneto could melt the door to get back out, but otherwise it was effectively sealed. Remnant found the pair by the door, Cyclops trying to burn a hole through the copper.
"You're going to be there a while, One-Eye," she chuckled as she landed behind them. "That's reinforced copper sealed with super-strength Toad goo."
Cyclops spun around. He didn't want to blast her directly -- Xavier had been adamant in his teachings about not killing -- so instead looked for something above Remnant to zap instead. Xavier had never said anything about not braining opponents.
"Too slow, too slow," Remnant scolded. Cyclops suddenly froze in place.
"What did you do to me? To us?"
"Think warm thoughts, One-Eye, and maybe you'll thaw. I've convinced your subconscious that you're an icicle." She smiled. "Oh, I wouldn't try and venture into his head just now, Jean. It could prove a mite unfriendly."
The other woman tried and then closed her eyes in pain.
"I warned you." Remnant shrugged. "Now, what would you like to be for Halloween boys and girls? A dog? A chicken? Santa Claus?"
"Don't you see what you're doing, Doctor," Jean asked, emphasizing the title. "You're going to commit mass murder. The diplomats on Ellis Island, most of Staten Island, New Jersey, Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn... millions of people are going to die tonight."
As if on cue, a dim whirring noise could be heard in the distance. The generator was starting. Remnant knew that soon Rogue's absorbed powers would be added, making the machine almost unstoppable.
"Only figuratively, Doctor," Remnant emphasized the last word mockingly. "Most, such as my husband, will only die of embarrassment and self-loathing."
"Kelly did die," Jean shook her head. "He dissolved into a puddle of water. Let me show you Storm's memory," Jean persisted. "You can see for yourself."
"And let you into my head?" Remnant laughed. "Surely you can come up with a better plan of escape than that."
"Then I'll let you into mine. I'll let down my shields and show you," Jean suggested.
"No!" Cyclops yelled. "She'll hurt you."
"She's going to hurt a lot more than just me if we don't stop Magneto," Jean tried to explain. "Do it. I've already got Storm's memory of it happening."
Remnant closed her eyes and entered the astral plane. She saw a figure of Jean and went over to her. All of a sudden, they were on the front drive of the Xavier mansion and were watching the damp Kelly ring the doorbell and ask for help. Then they were in the medlab running tests, all of which showed the Senator rejecting his mutation. Then they switched to Storm's memory of Kelly's death and then finally to Jean's tests on his watery remains.
Remnant opened her eyes with alarm. "It could have just been him."
"Can you run that risk?" Jean asked.
Any response Remnant had was cut off when Wolverine, having jumped down from the nearby rooftop, landed on her back and rammed her head against the ground. Healing factor or not, his fight with Sabretooth had left him bloody and bruised. But not without enough energy to rear back one suddenly clawed hand and bring it down for a death blow to Remnant's neck, exposed by yanking her hair back with his other fist.
But the blow did not land. Instead, Wolverine saw his adamantium claws curl away from the prone woman as she focused her magnetic energy on deflecting the blow. He pulled his hand away and the claws returned to their normal shape. Remnant took his moment of confusion to push him off of her and roll away.
"Logan, no!" Jean cried out. "She's our only chance to stop Magneto."
In the background, the whirring noise was getting louder.
Wolverine ignored her plea. Instead, he grabbed a thick wooden pole lying nearby and brought it down on the head of Remnant, still on her hands and knees recovering from the initial attack. The mutant lay unconscious on the ground.
"Now how do we get up there," Cyclops asked, still not able to move.
Storm flew in just then, looking slightly worse for wear. "What has happened?"
Jean concentrated for a moment and then both she and Cyclops regained control of their bodies. "Remnant was playing mind games."
An oscillating noise added to the whirring and looking up, the four X-Men could see the torch start to glow with radioactive energy.
"Can you blast it from here?" Wolverine asked Cyclops, who frowned.
"Not without hurting Rogue." A pause. "Storm, can you get us up there with a gust of wind?"
"It's too hard to control for such precision," the woman explained. "I'd end up shooting us over the top."
As they spoke and watched, the white light was starting to spread down the torch arm.
"We're running out of time," Logan gritted out. "We'll have to take that risk. Is it easier if it's only one of us?"
"I can use my telekinesis to steady you a little," Jean mused aloud. "But you're still going to have to make a pretty delicate landing."
"Do you have any other ideas?"
"Then let's go."
Cyclops watched as Jean and Storm focused on the ever-shrinking spot that was Wolverine flying. Finally, he landed and the three sighed with relief that was cut short when they realized that the radioactive cloud was now almost down to ground level.
"What do we do with Remnant?" Jean asked as she turned towards the prone body... that was no longer there.
"Where'd she go?"
"Over here, love," he called aloud, slumped against the railing.
"They were right. Kelly died. The mutation doesn't hold -- all we're going to do is kill everyone." Remnant breathed out. "I scanned Jean Grey's memory."
"Are you sure, perhaps they were playing a trick on you. Dr. Grey is a telepath," he frowned. Of all the times for Amalie to doubt him...
"I'm sure -- I'm a much stronger psi than she is. We're a few moments from committing genocide." She ran her fingers through her hair. "We have to stop this thing and then go back to the lab and figure out what we're doing wrong."
"We'll do no such thing."
"Erik! I'm not one to be shy about murder, but this is too much. It's not what we need. If we screw this up now, our next attempt will be that much harder to effect."
"A world leadership comprised of homo superior was the ideal," he stood up, gaining strength from the cool metal of the railings. "But a dead world leadership is well within workable parameters."
"Not for me, it isn't, Magneto," Remnant frowned, emphasizing the name she had not called him since they had become lovers. "I cannot let this happen."
"And I cannot let you stop me, my love," Magneto brought the chair that had been stationed next to the control console flying at Remnant, knocking her to the edge of the railing and then over before she could stop it.
He heard no scream and went to the railing to see where she had landed. A hand grabbed the edge of his cloak, pulling him down as Remnant pulled herself up.
#Your magnetism doesn't leave me just because you don't like me anymore, Erik.
With a groan, she pulled harder and concentrated, sending a wave of vertigo through her opponent as soon as she felt Magneto was leaning far enough over the railing. The wind suddenly picked up and as Magneto finally lost his balance and the two lovers-turned-enemies fell through the air, Remnant wondered if Storm had anything to do with it.
Landing was the easy part, Logan mused. Now to figure out how to shut off the damned thing. The rotating rings made getting to Rogue impossible and she didn't look like she was conscious and able to help him out. Then he spotted the console.
Had he seen the test version, he would have known that the console had been inside the rings on that one, the better for Magneto to control the device. But with Rogue inside the rings, the console was alongside the machine, both to facilitate control as well as keep her hands away from it.
Not seeing an on/off switch, Logan did what he always did when he was frustrated by incomprehensible machinery.
The console and its wires shredded, the rings slowed down almost imperceptibly, then a little more, then more quickly. Finally they stopped and Logan jumped inside the device and slashed away the manacles holding Rogue to the contact points. Untethered, she fell at his feet.
Kneeling down, Logan gathered the girl into his arms. He heard no breath, felt no pulse. Quashing his despair (now where did that come from, Logan old boy?), he took off his glove, took a deep breath to steel himself, and then cupped her face with his hand.
Nothing. No buzz, no searing burn, none of the nerve-jangling sensations that had accompanied their last transfer.
Logan sat there numb. Too late. They had been too late. He tried to calm the bloodlust that was beginning to boil through his veins, the berserker rage that would only be sated when Magneto, Remnant, Toad, and Sabretooth joined Mystique in Hell. He brushed the newly-whitened locks of hair away from Rogue's face and tried to calm himself with the notion that she'd finally get to stop running. It wasn't working.
Suddenly, he looked up.
"Get away from here, Mali. Get far, far away from here. You don't deserve a head start, but you got one. Now get the fuck away from here because the next time I see you, I'm going to kill you."
She knew by the time she landed on the far side of the parapet that it was almost too late. Rogue's presence on the astral plane was fading fast, almost completely gone.
When the machine was stopped, Rogue was almost dead. By the time Logan had reached her, she had died. There was one brief hope to save her, but Amalie didn't even have to 'urge' Logan to take that step.
She knew he couldn't sense it, but his touch had given Rogue an extra few moments. Her astral presence flickered brighter, but still so weak as to be transparent.
His next touch will save her, but it will kill him. Amalie knew this for certain. Had he not been so gravely wounded fighting Sabretooth, Logan's own energy would have been enough for them both. But he had spent so much of his reserves on his healing factor that he'd die before Rogue was sated.
"Get away from here, Mali. Get far, far away from here. You don't deserve a head start, but you got one. Now get the fuck away from here because the next time I see you, I'm going to kill you."
"I just might save you the trouble, Logan."
She knelt before him then, looking down into the face of the child she had been willing to kill in her quest for her own child. The girl that was so dear to Logan that he was shedding a tear (only one) for her. As a sister, as a daughter, Amalie couldn't tell, but her empathetic powers were receiving waves of grief from Logan, tempered only by surges of rage. Directed at me the way my own are directed at Pascal. You are no better to him right now than Pascal is to you. Thief of that which we hold most dear.
Pascal had won his war -- after this night, mutants would be persecuted at ever-greater levels. She had no reasonable hope of getting Stephane back now. Killing Pascal would sentence both her and her son to a lifetime of running. It would also make her no better than the man who had concentrated on destroying her the moment he realized that she was not human.
"It's a little late for repentance," he ground out.
"It's never too late," she whispered. Pascal had won his war... but there was no reason that Logan would have to lose his as she had her own. Thankful that her fingerless gloves would make the task too quick for Logan to stop her, she reached out to Rogue's limp hand. "I'm sorry, Logan. I am so sorry."
She had a vague idea of what it would feel like, having been present when Rogue absorbed Magneto. But to have it happen personally... the pain was exquisite. And then it was gone.