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Ashes in the Wind
An Elseworld's Style X-men Story
J. A. C. Delaney, 1996
X-Men Roll Call <For those keeping track>
Storm (Ororo Munroe)
Black King (Sebastian Shaw)
<An Island in the Bermuda Triangle>
" . . . it has been over a week since we fought Farouk, Charles, and he will be recovering soon. The US government is content to have driven him out of Washington. The fools don't see the danger they are in. We have to strike now and destroy the lion in his den." magneto glared across the conference table. "If you don't agree to act now, then I will. I have recovered enough to . . ."
"Get yourself killed." Wanda interrupted Magneto's rant. He turned to look at her and she shuddered in terror, memories of torture rising up. In his gaze she could still see the pitiless Master of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. "You can't hope to beat the entire Hellfire club by yourself, father. Not even at your best and you are hardly that now."
"No one argues that we have to confront him, Magnus, it is just that with the new information that we have received there is no choice but to try and find another way." Xavier countered.
"Because you don't have the will to bring the war against children once placed in your care? Cable has been seduced by the Shadow King and that is all there is too it. We don't have a choice. If we don't strike now, then he will only grow stronger." Magneto shouted, banging his fist on the table.
"Magneto is right. We have to reach him before he grows any stronger. I know him as well as any here, and if we leave him alone then he will continue his mad quest for power and pleasure. There comes a time when you have to make a stand, and that is now." Storm said.
"I agree." Rogue voted. Xavier looked around the table in despair.
"Forge, what about developing your device for blocking the Shadow King's influence further?" Xavier asked.
"It was hardly effective at Muir Island. I can block him from using his power to simply take us over, but I can't protect against a direct telepathic assault not can I deprogram one of his slaves. I'm afraid that there are limits to my power, Charles. Given time I might be able to do better, but we don't have. I nearly died in the horror that he made of Muir Island. We can't let that happen again." Forge replied.
"I am fully recovered now and I think I can isolate him from the rest of us while you take care of the inner circle." Rachel volunteered.
"Comrades, we must remember that it is our nearest and dearest that we are facing like they are blood enemies. I charge you to do your best to make sure that he claims no more victims. Subdue, don't kill." Colossus stared around the table.
"Brian and Meggan can't leave Britain with risk of power loss. They have agreed to remain behind to form the core of a new Excalibur to replace the old. Pietro and I will remain here with Lee and Warren to maintain this base." Wanda began.
"Like hell. I'm going." Lee glared around the table.
"You don't have any mutant powers, child and the risk would be unacceptable . . ." Xavier began.
"First of all, I'm not your child. I'm a woman, damn it. Second, I have as much right to risk my life as any of you. I can use a gun, can't I?"
"If she is going then so am I." Warren stated flatly.
Xavier sighed. It didn't look like he was going to have much choice about this. "Very well. Magnus, do you have weapons around here?"
"I have a cache of Shi'ar weaponry. Some of it has been substantially improved by Forge and I. We have never been more ready. If we can win here, then maybe it will all be over in one last battle. Maybe we can have an end of the nightmare at last." Wanda looked at Magneto with worry. It was when he began to believe in his principles that he became the most dangerous.
"Very well, people, shall we get going?" Havok asked. He was stilled dressed as a Genoshan Magistrate (he was now deputy leader of the organization) which earned him no end of lethal looks from Magneto.
Magik smiled. It was just like the Shadow King had predicted. The Hellfire club made too good of a target. Her foolish brother, weak friend and pitiful teacher where in for a big surprise. The Shadow King had reawakened the dormant demon sorceress in the child and made it possible for her to be what she had always been destined to be.
She surveyed the domain over which she was absolute mistress and laughed like the damned. It was a trap, and none of the X-men would survive it.
<Hellfire Club, New York City>
The X-men appeared in a flash, delivered to their destination by Shi'ar teleport tubes that Magneto had stockpiled. Phoenix, Storm, Rogue and Magneto rose into the air. The rest rushed towards to building as Professor X scanned for his old enemy.
Magneto was the first to fall. He felt multiple attacks slam into his mental defences. He ever saw the little black disk that struck him, followed by an optic blast. He fell, blazing to the earth. Havok fired at the source of the blast blew a hole into the mansion. Bullets slammed into his body armour and sent him reeling to the ground.
Everything was confusing as a gunfight erupted as Hellfire club guards (led by the White King and Domino) fired into the X-men. Rachel managed to protect Xavier, Lee and Warren. Colossus shifted to armoured form and tore a path through the guards. Nightcrawler teleported to Cable's location and slugged him. His fist cracked against a chin made of metal not bone. The souless mercenary turned and shot the fuzzy elf. Nightcrawler vanished with a BAMF, leaving blood and bone fragments behind.
Storm tore away the Shadow King's hiding place with a hurricane blast and unleashed a torrent of lightening at him. He survived it and fired back. Cannonball smashed into Rogue and them slammed them both into the ground. Only Rogue still stood, when Sebastian Shaw grabbed her and began to beat her to death.
*Rachel, we need to co-ordinate our attacks if we are to succeed. . .* Xavier began when he felt something monstrous grab his mind and begin to squeeze. He screamed and fell as the foulness of the Shadow King began to fill him.
Phoenix swooped to attack when a column of metal punched into her unaware. She rolled with the attack and cushioned her fall. She looked up into the eyes of Selene, and felt her will being drained by the ancient sorceress.
Emma Frost walked up to the fallen Magneto, sure of a new convert to the cause.
And over it all, the Shadow King laughed.