I worked so hard and did such a good job on chapter 31 I’m not sure I can top it with this chapter. Seriously, I’m a bit nervous to try. I struggled over almost every sentence of this chapter, desperate to make it as awesome as the last. Let me know what you think of it. I really want to improve my craft as a writer. So be harsh. Be critical.
Chapter Thirty-Two: Snow White Fallen
Jeri Kojak had pronounced, kneeling over Rogue’s body, her hands on the girl’s forehead. Rogue’s powers did not pull at her; a testament to the dormancy of the girls body.
Erik looked at Rogue. He did not believe it. He could not. Only seconds before she had been alive, healthy. She could not die like this. Not this quickly. Yet there she lay on the ground, perfectly still.
“No.” He said.
Erik walked closer to Rogue. He was unable to believe she was gone. Only minutes before she had told him she loved him. Now her body lay spent and crumpled on the ground. An empty shell quickly growing cold.
Erik’s shoulders and chest felt heavy and weighted down. His stomach turned over as his body responded to the sickening fear that gripped him. Fear that Marie was lost forever like a pawn captured in chess.
Logan was a mirror image of Erik. He sat by Marie unmoving, gripped by shock and disbelief.
Everyone was in agony. Rogue had been so much to so many. And her death had been sudden. A selfless sacrifice for them. Everyone rushed to Rogue’s side.
“No.” Erik said again. He bent down. He kneeled before her prone form. Tenderly he picked her head up. He pulled her into his lap. Holding her, he rocked back and forth. She couldn’t be dead. Any second now she would wake up. They would save her. There had to be some way to save her. There had to be.
“Nooooo!” Erik erupted, screaming at the top of his lungs. Tears welled in his eyes.
As Erik screamed, his acute emotional pain translated itself into his magnetism. The parked helicopter was wrenched ten feet towards him. The steel frame of the mansion pulled closer to him. The mansion quaked under the brunt of his power. Pieces of the stone work fell to the ground.
The mansion had already been devastated by the army’s assault. Now Magneto’s despair rocked it to its core. The younger mutants taking shelter in the lowest, all-steel subterranean levels felt the walls vibrate intensely around them. They huddled together unaware of the drama that was playing on outside the mansion.
Those outside watched the mansion’s trembling with fear. The mansion’s massive size caused the ground to shake around them like an earthquake. Magneto’s fearsome display of violent power was awe-inspiring and horrible. Raw pain became violence; anguish became destruction. He had no control over himself.
As his heart wrenched and his very world swayed in its devastation, Erik scarcely felt the waves of magnetism and the objects his magnetic fields affected. That was until one object moved from his power. Answering to the call of his magnetism was Marie’s blood. Still, unmoving but warm inside her body, the iron in her hemoglobin hummed.
That could be the key to saving her. Erik wasted no time.
He restarted the blood’s flow throughout her body, concentrating on making sure her brain did not go long without a blood supply. It had only been a few seconds since her collapse. He might be able to save her, before her brain began to die from lack of oxygen.
The blood, however, could not pump oxygen into itself. Erik could not get the heart beating or start Rogue’s lungs breathing through his magnetism. But he did know that such life processes could be restarted.
“Beast!” Erik called. “Help her now. She needs CPR.”
“I’m sorry but she’s gone Magneto.” Beast’s voice was sympathetic to Erik’s loss.
“No, she’s not. Help her now McCoy!” Erik said as the mansion’s steel frame oscillated severely. Part of the roof caved in on the second floor.
Magneto, in his rage, was not someone to second guess. His command demanded to be obeyed emphatically. This time Dr. Hank McCoy did as he was told. He bent besides Rogue. He rhythmically pumped her chest, breathing air into her lungs every several beats.
Oxygen flow was restored to Rogue’s body. Her mutation kicked in again. Dr. McCoy checked to see if Rogue was breathing on her own. She wasn’t.
Erik had to wrap Rogue in a magnetic shield so that Dr. McCoy could continue to perform CPR on her without her mutation draining his life force. Erik continued to move Rogue’s blood as Hank checked periodically to see if Rogue was breathing on her own.
A minute went by as they worked on her. The others watched anxiously to see if their efforts could save her. Again, Dr. McCoy put his hand over Rogue’s mouth to see if she was breathing on her own. Again, she was not.
“This is not working Magneto. She’s gone.” He said as kindly as he could. Erik, of course, did not take this well.
“She’s not dead!” Again the mansion shook and the helicopter scraped across the grass as his magnetism shot out from him in uncontrolled waves. “She won’t die. I will not let her die.”
The others looked at each other, concerned and afraid what Magneto might do once he accepted the truth.
But Erik had no intention of accepting Rogue’s death. Frantically he searched his mind for some way to kick start her heart beating on its own again. He trembled when he saw her blanched pale white face, still and serene in near death.
Then it hit him. He knew what could save her.
With his acute magnetic grip, Magneto ripped Logan from where he sat grieving straight to Marie’s side. Erik pulled the Wolverine’s hand up to touch Rogue, hoping to use his healing ability to save her. Logan did not resist. He had been watching the scene play out in shock, the surreal nature of it silencing him in disbelief. Now that he saw a way to save his beloved, Marie he sprung back into life.
Before Magneto could pull Logan’s hand to touch Rogue, Professor Kojak stopped them.
“No, Erik!” She ran forward to join Erik, Beast, and Wolverine kneeling around Rogue. “You can’t let Rogue absorb Logan’s memories. The shock might kill whatever’s left of her brain. It’s already full.”
“You can stop his memories from transferring while she pulls from him.” Erik’s steel grey eyes bore daggers into Jeri Kojak. It was not a question.
“I might be able to. I’ve never tried.”
“You will.” He said forcefully. Dr. McCoy continued to administer CPR and Magneto manipulated Rogue’s blood as they spoke.
Logan touched Rogue of his own volition and felt the sharp, painful pull instantly. Logan was no stranger to pain and he spoke through gritted teeth to Magneto.
“You did this to her, you bastard. You never should have taught her to use her mutation.”
“You imbecile, if I didn’t love her, would I be working this hard to save her now?”
“You just want to use her again, like you did on Liberty Island. You nearly killed her then too.”
“There is no incident I regret more.”
Logan did not answer back. Instead, he roared in pain as Rogue’s pull drained him. His wounds from the battle to reopened. Logan would not last much longer. And Marie had not woken up. Jeri Kojak had been successful blocking Logan’s memories from transferring along with his life force and healing mutation.
“Catalyst, can you speed up the Wolverine’s healing so he can keep feeding Rogue?” Erik asked the girl who had control over all chemical processes.
“Of course Erik.” Catalyst went to work and there were five mutants working on Marie’s recovery. With Logan’s borrowed mutation, Rogue’s color returned. Her breathing evened out. Her heart beat steadied. When it looked as though she was fully physically healed, her eyelids closed. They did not reopen.
“Why isn’t she waking up!?!” Erik asked as Logan pulled away from Rogue. Catalyst helped him to recover so he remained conscious. Jeri probed Marie’s mind for the answer.
“She’s still not in there.” Jeri frowned and grabbed her head in pain. “There are hundreds of voices in her mind. I can’t find hers.”
Rogue looked as though she was sleeping, peacefully unconscious. Erik thought she looked like Snow White lying there, her dark luxurious hair spread out around her ashen white face.
“But you can clear her mind of foreign memories again?” Erik asked Jeri. Doubt had crept into his voice.
“Let me be honest Erik. I’m not that strong a telepath. There are about 300 voices in Rogue’s head vying for control, 300 sets of memories other than her own. Before when I cleared out her mind there were 12. Humans and Mutants only use 10% of their brains and Rogue is using 100% right now as we speak. Her receptors are burning out. I can’t even guarantee her memories and consciousness are still in there somewhere. I haven’t been able to locate them. I don’t know what to tell you but it doesn’t look good.”
At first Erik’s hope had been boosted by Rogue’s physical recovery. Now he despaired again. And with his despair came angry resolve.
“You’ll continue to work on her.” He did not give Jeri a chance to protest.
“How much did she drain from them? All of their memories?” Erik asked. He knew Rogue could control the pull in varying levels. No one had thought to assess this.
“I don’t know-” Jeri started to say before Magneto cut her off.
Beast checked the pulses of the soldiers lying on the ground around them.
“She killed this one.” He moved farther away to another.
“This one still has a pulse.” He checked another further still.
“This one is alive as well.” He called back to the group. “It appears she pulled the most from the ones closest to her. Most of the troops are only unconscious. There is no way to tell how much she took from them. They could reawaken at any moment.”
It was a prognosis with very mixed blessings. It meant Rogue had absorbed fewer memories than originally thought. Her brain might be able to recover. But it also meant that the enemy soldiers could wake up and threaten them again.
“We have to leave here. The soldiers could recover and reinforcements could arrive any minute now.” Storm said. She was still shaky from having been hit with the Cure. Now, she stood and surveyed the fallen soldiers. Their bodies lay on the grass still wet with morning dew. Behind her the graceful, old stone mansion lay in ruin. Bombed and shaken two of its walls lay crumbled, most of its roof collapsed.
“Can we move her?” Erik asked Kojak.
“I think so.” Jeri said.
“She’s physically healthy.” Dr. McCoy said. “Mentally…” He let himself fade away into silence, not wanting to spell out how dire her mental state appeared.
Erik told himself Kojak would be able to save Rogue. She would come through. It would just take time. Time they did not have.
“Storm: prepare the X-Jet. Jeri and Wolverine: Put Marie on a stretcher and get her secured onboard. Beast: Gather the other mutants together. Mystique: prep the helicopter. Kitty will fly the other.” Magneto said.
“Iceman: go and collect Kitty and the mutant children. Take Colossus with you to clear any debris so can reach the basement. Pyro and Juggarnaut come with me.” Magneto commanded.
“Wait, shouldn’t I salvage the things we’ll need from the mansion while Colossus gets Kitty?” Bobby said. It was not a smart move on his part. He had misjudged Magneto’s mood.
“You’ll do as I say. Now.” Magneto’s tone was deadly quiet and it was blatant that he was doing his best to restrain himself from hurting the boy. The mansion quaked a little behind him.
After that everyone moved quickly to prepare for their escape fearful reinforcements could arrive any second once word of the Army’s failed mission became known. Magneto went with Juggarnaut and Pyro into the ruins of the mansion. Between Magneto’s magnetism and Juggarnaut’s strength they were able to clear a path to the late Professor Xavier’s office.
“Take Xavier’s computer, Juggarnaut and load it onto the Jet. Pyro, gather all his important documents. Do not leave any for the US government to get their hands on.” Magneto ordered.
Magneto oversaw the effort. When they were finished they returned outside to meet the others who were prepared for lift off. The whole evacuation had taken less than 20 minutes and even that was cutting it close. Doubtless the army’s radio silence had been noticed already.
The X-men, Brotherhood, and mutant children were spread out between the X-Jet and two confiscated helicopters. Charles’s documents and Rogue were loaded onto the jet which would travel significantly faster than the copters.
When they were about to close the jet ramp and lift off, Storm stopped everyone.
“We can’t leave Cerebro behind. It’s still intact. Remember how the government used it two years ago.” The memory of a kidnapped, drugged Charles Xavier mentally hunting down mutants and killing them telepathically was not easily forgotten.
“They would need a telepathic mutant. It is unlikely they have found another.” Hank admonished.
“Still it is too high a risk to take.” Magneto said.
“Should we destroy it?” Juggarnaut asked itching to do what he did best: serious property damage.
“We? There’s no time.” Magneto said. “I… on the other hand,” and with that a malicious gleam appeared in his otherwise steel grey eyes. His lips pressed firmly together. His brow furrowed. Magneto extended his right hand manipulating the magnetism that was his domain.
His Marie was lying unconscious in the jet and there was nothing he could do for her. He was helpless to free her from the prison of her mind. Anger and frustration over his limitations gripped him until he was mad with ferocious rage. The more wrath that welled up inside him the more invincible he felt. His body hummed with energy and he was able to detect metal miles away as his powers spread insatiably. In that moment he was capable of anything.
The government had taken Rogue from him, but it would not get Cerebro. No, he would make sure of that.
As he extended his magnetic fields, Storm and Beast looked at Magneto questioningly. Was it right to destroy something the Professor had taken years to build?
The Earth began to tremble and shudder beneath them. To their left, the stone patio and surrounding garden shook, until it began to give way. Rapidly the patio concrete and stone burst apart. The garden shrubbery was torn asunder and thrust away as a steel sphere rose from the bowels of the underground.
Cerebro was a sphere-shaped structure about one story underground. Its diameter was twenty meters in length. It was made with over fourteen tons of steel, aluminum, and adamantium. Magneto knew all this. Yet the structure came at his beck and call with ease. It ripped apart the earth atop it and rose into the air as though it were light as a feather. Magneto’s face did not even show strain.
“How do you intend to destroy it?” Dr. McCoy said. His voice unrestrained, betrayed how impressed he was by Magneto’s mighty feat. Cerebro, floating in the air like a giant steel ball bearing, was ten times the size of a person and it cast an enormous shadow over the lawn.
Magneto weaved and created magnetic fields only he could feel. To all he appeared in a trance as the huge steel Cerebro heaved and whipped around as though it was caught in a hurricane. With a thunderous “rruwwpp” the metal panels, casing, and hydraulic system ripped apart, clattering on to the lawn. Piece after piece of metal was ripped from the structure until only a pile of twisted debris was left of the machine.
Magneto was unaffected by the difficulty of controlling such strong magnetic fields. His powers had returned fully from his unfortunate stint with the Cure and now he was his old self again: a force to be reckoned with.
Filled with awe at Magneto’s raw display of power, the mutants entered their respective transports and lifted off to leave the vicinity of the mansion as quickly as possible. Although there was hesitance on the part of X-men to leave their home, they had all been taught to evacuate quickly and did so with little dramatics.
During the flight both Logan and Erik stayed close to Rogue’s side. Begrudgingly Logan acknowledged that Magneto, as odd as it might seem, did love Marie. His half mad, desperate effort to save her had won him a few Brownie points in the Wolverine’s eyes. Yet there was still inherent tension in having two men keep vigil over her comatose form.
The flight was a quiet one. Professor Kojak continued her work to try to save Rogue’s mind. Sadly this time the quantity of information Rogue had absorbed was so vast, Jeri was scarcely able to chip away it. Besides, the tragic figure of Rogue, there was Storm who had been hit by the Cure. Throughout the flight, Hank stayed by her side.
The jet began to pull away from the helicopters, its superior speed evident.
“The choppers need to know where we are headed before we lose radio contact with them.” Hank said from the co-pilots seat. He automatically turned to Magneto, their unofficial leader.
“Northeast.” Magneto informed him.
“Okay, the choppers are falling back.”
“No, it would be best if they stuck close. We’re safer as a group.” Magneto said.
“They can’t keep up with our speed and the jet can’t go that slow.” Storm explained.
“I will handle it. Inform the choppers.” And handle it Magneto did. Another magnetic wave pulled the choppers along with the speed of the jet. The mutants watched from the windows at the effortless way Magneto was able to levitate the accompanying choppers on the side of the jet.
“We have something approaching on our radar. It’s going about Mach 2.” Storm watched the bleep trail behind them on the small screen.
“What does it look like?” Logan asked.
“I’m not sure yet.” Storm said. But before anyone could inquire further the single bleep became several. And one of them fired a warning missile across the X-Jet’s nose.
“Unidentified air craft: This is the US Air Force. Descend to 15,000 feet and cut your speed to 300 mph,” the PA system blared. The planes were old F-14 fighter jets sent after them. There were six of them.
“It would appear the government has yet to learn their lesson.” Magneto said and moved for the first time from Rogue’s bedside to the front of the cabin to view the monitor.
When the X-Men did not comply with the orders another missile was launched.
“We’re in trouble, we don’t have Jean Grey with us like last time and Storm is…” Bobby drifted off.
Erik’s lips curled into his trademark smirk, and with grace and confidence he rest his hand on Bobby’s shoulder.
“Relax, dear boy. I can take care of this.” Magneto’s magnetic forces repelled the missile with ease.
However more followed. The six F-14s were joined by four more of the same squadron and when repeated warnings went unheeded, rockets and missiles were launched at the helicopters and X-jet.
“Homo sapiens never learn.” Erik repelled each of the rockets with his magnetism. He used his power to turn the missiles back on their owners. Two of the F-14s blew up in an impressive fireball.
The squadron must have radioed for reinforcements because a few seconds after the loss of two of their number, another six appeared flying in formation. They now numbered 14 in all.
“This is getting to be tedious.” Erik said as he deflected more shots against them. “I believe it is time I put an end to this.” Magneto reached his hands out and he erected a magnetic barrier against the fighter jets so that as they chased after the jet they could not advance past it.
Two more of the F-14s hit the barrier going full speed and crumpled against it as though the planes were aluminum cans in Magneto’s hand. The other F-14s did not give up. Their patented swept wing design allowing them to stop in midair and reverse their course around the barrier. They kept up the chase.
Magneto then turned his attention to crashing one plane into another using his powers. He was able to defeat four more this way.
The X-Men watched in wonder as Magneto batted the F-14s around like toys with ease.
Erik was not able to keep up with the remaining 8 planes, their rocket and missile firings, and continue to keep levitating the helicopters. His powers were overtaxed. He was getting nervous as to whether he could continue the effort when four old Russian MIG class jets arrived on the scene.
“I called in the boys Erik. Hope you don’t mind.” Mystique’s voice came over the com. The Brotherhood had acquired the jets with the pilots for their robbery of the 747 in Albany.
Between Magneto and the MIGs, the F-14s were toast. Soon, the mutants’ aircraft were flying free and clear. They had escaped the threat of capture. For now.
“So where are we headed?” Logan gruff voice had a sad edge to it.
“I believe, unfortunately, the only place I can guarantee the X-Men’s safety is at the Brotherhood headquarters. I owe it to Charles’ memory to offer you refuge until you can find more suitable accommodations.” Erik answered.
“That’s…” Storm paused. “Very nice of you.” She didn’t sound as though she meant it. After all Ororo was not one of Erik’s biggest fans and she was loathe to imagine her young mutant wards being corrupted by the Brotherhoods violent policies.
“There’s no way we are going to stay with them.” Bobby was irate. “Storm, Dr. McCoy, there has to be somewhere else we could go.”
“It’s not like we can go to a hotel. We’re wanted fugitives now.” Logan said.
“Join the club.” Pyro quipped, trying to sooth Bobby by gently rubbing his hand up and down the Iceman’s back.
“Naah, Uhh.” He dislodged Pyro’s hand. “I’m not going to stand for this.”
A strip of metal, sharp and jagged tore from the cabin of the plane and pressed itself against Bobby’s throat.
“You’ll do as I say, when I say, or you’ll never make another ice cube. Do I make myself clear?” Magneto retorted. “I have had enough of your sniveling righteous indignation for one day. Unless you have made it your goal to be a carbon copy of the late Cyclops, I suggest you be grateful that I am offering the X-men shelter at all; considering it must have been one of their number who betrayed my presence to the government.”
A hush fell over the cabin. It was obvious Magneto was not to be messed with today. Bobby seemed to be blissfully unaware of the danger he now stood in.
It was several minutes before anyone moved. Finally, Erik released the make-shift metal blade and it clattered to the deck. His anger dissolved as quickly as it had formed. He knew he was losing control over his emotions, but Erik was unable to stop the downward swirl. Somewhere in between death and life, Rogue floated in limbo. Without her Erik was not himself.
The flight to the island fortress was notably devoid of conversation after that incident. Tension hovered in the X-Jet from Magneto’s accusation that the X-Men had ratted him out. Everyone was silent and subdued when they finally landed.
Two weeks went by in which time passed indeterminately. No one measured the flow of days into one another, the ticking by of seconds, the loss of hours. Surreal and dreamlike our heroes and heroines drifted about the fortress in a fog of barren purposelessness.
Adrift on the winds of fate the X-Men had found taking refuge with their enemies, the Brotherhood, in lieu of capture and arrest by the US government, their former allies. Many were dissatisfied with this situation. Beyond just Storm, Bobby Drake, and others who hated the Brotherhood and what it stood for, there was also the children whose lives and education had been harshly disrupted. The X-Men were homeless. Their mansion destroyed. Their personal effects currently crime scene evidence from the battle.
It had taken a lot of time and effort to find room and supplies for the displaced X-Men, X-Women, and X-Children. This time and effort was not put forth by either leader, Storm or Magneto. Rather, Mystique, Catalyst, and Beast did most of this work. Storm was occupied making phone calls to see if there were other mutant sympathizers who would take them in. She had quite a number of contacts. But there was issues of the Mutant Human Civil War and the government’s crack down on mutant movements. It was not safe for so large a group to travel. And there were few places that had the facilities to take them in, save of course the Brotherhood, whose numbers now ranged in the 10,000s and who had 79 branches nationwide.
Well, Storm was busy trying to lead the X-Men away from the Brotherhood; Magneto was busy not leading the Brotherhood. Hopeless and depressed Erik saw no one and accomplished little. He had taken the loss of Rogue badly. When Multiple Man came to him with important issues about the running of the Brotherhood, Magneto turned him away. Mystique had to take up in mantle in the dark days that followed their return to the island.
Erik did not…no, could not think about his work. He could only think of Marie. And when his thoughts and fears drove him close to insanity, he pulled back from the edge by focusing on his anger over the Government’s attack on the mansion. He knew he had to pay them back for what they had stolen from him. From what they had stolen from Charles’ legacy. Magneto knew no forgiveness. And he certainly did not intend to offer them any.
But Magneto’s thoughts of revenge never came to fruition. Instead there was only waiting. The awful, awful waiting. Waiting for Rogue to awaken from her coma; waiting for Professor Kojak to make progress in rescuing her consciousness. Waiting by her bedside.
Rogue was never left alone in the Brotherhood’s sick bay, not even for a moment. She lay peacefully entombed among the wires and IVs and medical equipment beeping in quiet rhythm. Her blanket covered state, not unlike an open casket, enshrouded her. Lying in state, Rogue was dutifully attended by Professor Kojak, who labored over the gestalt of her mind. Logan and Erik, like mourners waked her, visiting in shifts. When one left the other took his place.
. In such a way, Erik waited impatiently for Rogue’s return to life. But everyday she remained in a dreamless sleep, he became a little more depressed, a little darker, a little more despondent. Marie had been the last loss in a series for Erik. There had been Charles’ death and Mystique’s falling out. Erik felt alone and isolated. He began to feel his age again. He contemplated that great empty void of death that yawned before him. Stretching its cavernous mouth outward through age and war.
Erik did not know what to do with out Rogue. He still had his cause, and it meant more to him than ever. But he had nothing for the moments in between fighting. He had nothing to look forward to, and nothing to fight for. The wind had been ripped from his sails and he sat immobile like his island base.
Despair in his head and agony in his heart, Erik had stood watching the turbulent waves of the Atlantic when Pyro had knocked on the door of his study. He waved the door open and Pyro entered.
“You’re never going to believe who’s here.” Pyro said and then stepped back to reveal the visitor.
Notes: The opening scene where Erik screams over the fallen Rogue is adapted from the Godfather part 3 where Al Pacino’s character screams over his dead daughter’s body. Watch it, you’ll recognize the similarity.
There are F-14s in this chapter, despite the fact that very few are still flying today, rather than the newer F-18. Why? My dad helped design the navigation system on F-14’s (seriously) and I think they rock. So well, no F-18’s.
Professor Xavier is back! So what has he been up to? Why’d it take him so long to show up in this story? Could he possibly help Rogue with his superior knowledge of the mind? Go to Chapter 33