|Survival of the Fittest|
|Season 6, Episode 15|
The mutant looked around, his whole body covered from sunlight. He fixed his hat and goggles, evading people in Mutant Town. He looked back again and spotted his follower. Quickly, he sprinted down the stairs that led underground. Suddenly, the mutant following him teleported in front of him.
-Oh… That is past.- Mr. Sinister shrugged it off. -It was for the best.-
-The best…?- Caliban inquired, getting enraged.
-Yes. But you… You deserve more.-
-SO DID CALLISTO!- The Morlock punched Mr. Sinister’s chest, pushing him away. Nathaniel chuckled.
-ESSEX, ENOUGH!- A deep voice yelled from behind Caliban. The albino mutant turned around to face Apocalypse. -This is not okay.-
-Yes, Master.- Sinister rolled his eyes slightly.
-Caliban, my son, tell me what is wrong.-
-He… He and his… Monsters. They massacred my friends, they tried to kill me as well! They tortured my best friend and leader!-
-I was not there for you, my son, but I am here now. You don’t know your own strength but I do.- Caliban looked up at him. Using his telekinesis, Apocalypse stripped him off his hat, goggles and poncho. -You will reach down, my son, deep into the earth. Rip everything they’ve build from the ground. Wipe clean this world, and we will lead those that survive into a better one.-
Caliban’s weak, skinny body started getting covered by rocks, reinforcing it. Rock plates grew from his shoulders and knees, acting as pads. Rocks covered his face too, and spikes emerged from his head.
-Rise, my child. Rise… Pestilence!- Apocalypse held his hand out at his new Horseman, and teleported away.
-I feel… Death… I feel… Guilt. I did this… I killed people… More than one…-
-That was not you, James.- Xavier shook his head. -We deal with telepaths who can force others to do their willing…-
-The Symbiote took advantage of your pain. They hurt you… And she lied to you in more than one way.- Charles looked at the clock on his desk. -Time is up, James. You can go back to your room now… In fact, I think someone is already here to keep you company.- He smiled.
James stood up and was ready to leave, but he remembered to thank the mutant. -Thank you, Professor.-
Xavier smiled. -No problem, James.-
James opened the door and found Cannonball leaning against a wall.
-Hey, I was walkin’ by… And I knew your appointment with the Professor was ‘bout to be over…-
-Thank you.- James nodded, knowing he was lying. Coincidentally, he had been walking by the Professor’s office at the same time every time he had an appointment.
-Want me to walk you over to your room?- Sam asked, repeating the same question he had made several times the past weeks.
-Mhm.- James nodded, following Sam.
Mr. Sinister’s Secret Lab.
Apocalypse gathered his Horsemen and looked at them. Mr. Sinister and Sugar Man stood behind their leader.
-You are all my children, and you’re lost because you follow blind leaders. These false gods, systems of the weak, they’ve ruined my world. Weapons… Superpowers… The weak have taken the Earth. For this, I was betrayed. False gods, idols… No more. I have returned.- Then, Apocalypse turned and faced Sinister. -We are going to the center of the universe… We will start our new Age from there.-
Essex nodded and started teleporting away the Horsemen. Before he teleported Caliban away, Callisto broke in the room, weary. Her arms had been replaced by green tentacles.
-Caliban…- She whispered.
Her former teammate looked at her. Their eyes met for what seemed like years, and he then looked away, unaffected.
Apocalypse turned and looked at Callisto. -Sugar Man, get rid of her. Now!-
Sugar Man nodded and grabbed her tentacles. The Morlocks’ leader tried to fight him off, but he grabbed his hammer and smashed her leg. Callisto screamed in agony, as her bones cracked loudly. Annoyed, Sugar Man dragged the mutant away.
Apocalypse and his henchmen were teleported inside the First Mutant’s pyramid, which he rebuilt. He led his Horsemen to the top floor, creating an opening so they could see the city. -This was meant to be the center of the universe before I was betrayed. Now it will be. Now I claim my destiny!- He extended his arms at Cairo and started disintegrating the buildings while upgrading his pyramid with their remains. -Welcome to my world, my chosen four. Your places in my new order are assured. I promise you the Age of Apocalypse!-
Storm walked inside the Professor’s office, hurriedly. -Professor, they’re attacking Cairo.-
Xavier looked up at her, worried. -You mean…?-
-No. Doesn’t look like Farouk’s modus operandi. This is something I have never seen before.-
Xavier and Munroe got to the Mansion’s main hall, where the students were gathered watching the news. Anderson Cooper was reporting on the attack on his show, Anderson Cooper 360°.
-Caliban.- Iceman added.
-This was Sinister’s plan…- Gambit concluded, standing up. -That is why he wanted the Marauders. That is why he wanted to massacre the Morlocks. That is why they took Anna Marie. They want to rebuild the world, keeping a chosen few and killing everyone else who they deem unfit.-
-Survival of the fittest.- Dr. MacTaggert looked at Xavier, who nodded.
-I’m going too.- Rictor stood up as well, folding his arms over his chest.
-No, you’re not.- Scott said firmly. -You’re still a student and we cannot afford to lose anyone else.-
-This is MY boyfriend we’re talking about!- Julio exclaimed. -And you know damn well you’d do the same if it was Jean we were talking about!- He pointed at the redhead, who was standing behind her boyfriend.
Scott nodded, looking down, and then back up at Shatterstar’s boyfriend. -Fair enough. But the rest of you is staying.- He looked at the other students.
As the X-Men were leaving for the Blackbird, Cannonball spotted James standing next to the main hall’s doorframe and walked to him.
-James… I’m glad you decided to get out of your roo…-
-Are you going?- The former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent interrupted him.
-Going where? Cairo?-
-Well… Yeah, I’m an X-Man… Why?-
Roger kept silence for awhile, looking at the floor. Then, he looked up at the blonde mutant. -Cause I cannot afford to lose you, Sam. I’ve lost too many people in my life, I have even lost myself… And if something happened to you… I don’t think I would ever recover.-
Without another word, Cannonball took a step forward and kissed James’ lips, who kissed him back. Then, he pulled away slowly.
-You will not lose me, James.- Samuel assured him. -I’m here, and not goin’ anywhere.-
-Cannonball isn’t coming.- Cyclops informed the team bitterly. -He thinks a single human is more important than the whole world.-
-Hypocrite…- Rictor whispered.
-Scott, relax. We’re not going to be outnumbered.-
-You have me, mon ami.- Gambit commented.
-How? This… Being is extremely powerful!- Summers ignored Le Diable Blanc’s comment.
-We’re going to pick up some friends on the way.- Charles looked at Beast, who nodded and started the Blackbird’s engine.
-I am against this. Completely against this.- Cyclops shook his head. -Since when are we fighting fire with fire?!-
-Scott, like you pointed out yourself earlier, this being is extremely powerful and is a threat to both humans and mutants. The differing point between Erik and I is his goal for mutant supremacy. But he doesn't want mutants killed.-
Summers nodded as the Blackbird’s door opened.
-Kurt, Moira, come with me. The rest of you, keep a low profile.- Professor X ordered, getting off the Blackbird followed by the others.
Gambit leaned against the Blackbird’s doorframe, looking at the island.
-You are awfully quiet, Frenchie.- Wolverine commented.
-Last time I was here… I left a girl… On the docks.-
-No… Magneto’s daughter.-
-No, the lesser-known one… Lorna…-
Suddenly, the Blackbird started shaking.
-I am glad you still remember, me… Remy.- Polaris smirked, holding her hands out at the Blackbird. -You never came back for me… Of course you didn’t, you had your Southern girl… Right?-
-H…How did you find out?-
-We’re not North Korea, LeBeau. Google works in Genosha.- She started making the Blackbird levitate.
-Hank, can you stabilize it?!- Kitty Pryde asked.
-No! She’s as strong as her father, maybe stronger!- The furry X-Man exclaimed.
-I’ll handle her, get ready to fly the hell out of here!- Havok ordered, jumping off the Blackbird. -Stop!- He ordered. -I don’t wanna hurt you!-
Polaris stopped focusing on the X-Jet, but still had it under her magnetokinesis’ effects. -You? Hurt me? I’m Polaris.-
-Show me what that means.- Alex winked at her.
Lorna let go of the Blackbird and Beast immediately stabilized it, flying it away. The Mistress of Magnetism started tossing metal chunks at the younger Summers brother who destroyed them with his plasma blasts.
Magneto’s Castle, Genosha.
As soon as the X-Men stepped inside the Castle, multiple clones of James Madrox jumped in front of them, surrounding the mutants.
-Should we fight our way through?- Moira asked, placing her hand on her gun.
-No.- Professor X shook his head. -Let them take us.-
The Multiple Men pushed the X-Men inside Magneto’s throne room, where he was sitting. Mystique was standing next to him. Behind them, Suvik Senyaka, Acolyte and Magneto’s personal bodyguard, was standing, his psionic bio-electric whip ready.
-K-Nightcrawler?- Mystique asked.
-Charles?- Erik stood up.
-Erik… I usually accept your reign over Genosha, but more urgent matters forced me to come here.-
-The attack in Cairo. A being, possibly a mutant, has kidnapped others, enhancing them… And he wants a new Age designed as he pleases.-
-Why is that an issue for me? You are the superhero, Charles. You can call your Avenger pals.-
-They are also targeting other mutants. They slaughtered the Morlocks simply because they weren’t strong enough according to their leader.-
-I think Erik and I are strong enough to live past this…- Mystique started to theorize.
-I was attacked by one of this mutant’s followers…- Nightcrawler interrupted her. -It has nothing to do with strength. They hold power I had never seen before.-
Raven looked into Kurt’s eyes for the first time and immediately looked down again.
-He is literally reshaping Cairo.- Moira said. -He has his own… Horsemen.-
-Like the Horsemen of Apocalypse… He got that one from the Bible?- Nightcrawler asked.
-Or the Bible got it from him.- Moira suggested.
-We cannot do this without you, Erik.- Charles looked at his former best friend. -We do not see eye-to-eye in many things, but we both want to protect mutants. This being… Apocalypse… He’s a threat to the whole world, mutants as well.-
Magneto looked down and nodded. -Very well, Charles. You have a point.-
-Does that mean you’re in?- MacTaggert asked.
-Do not mistaken my temporary alliance with anything… Permanent.-
-Of course not.- Professor X smiled.
When Xavier, MacTaggert, Wagner, Lehnsherr and Darkholme got out of the castle, they found Havok and Polaris fighting.
-Lorna, what are you doing?!-
Suddenly, Polaris stopped to face her father. -I am not going to be done wrong by anyone.-
-It is not the time to fight against each other.- Magneto shook his head. -We are facing a global crisis.-
-Since when do you care about the world, father?- She rolled her eyes.
-Mutants are being targeted as well.-
Lorna nodded. -That’s alright. I’ll let them go.- She shrugged.
-What I meant was… You should help us…- Erik suggested.
-Help LeBeau? Help you? Please.- She shook her head briefly.
-My daughter… Please… Help us fight Apocalypse.-
She chuckled. -Who named him that?-
-We could really use your help…- Charles whispered, but she turned around and ran away.
-We should get going.- Mystique shrugged, as the Blackbird landed on the island again.
As soon as the members of the Brotherhood got in the X-Jet, Cyclops stood up. -Woah, we agreed on Magneto but are we really bringing this cold-blooded killer?- He pointed at Raven.
-Do you want me to prove how cold-blooded I am?- Mystique smirked.
-Raven?- Henry turned around.
-Hey, Hank.- She looked at him briefly.
-Please.- Professor X looked at Scott. -Anna Marie, Warren, Gaveedra… Their lives are at stake. This is not the right time to bring up Raven’s past.-
-Wait, you said Anna Marie?- Mystique asked.
-Yes. She was turned into one of the Horsemen by Apocalypse…- Gambit explained.
-Then what are we f*****g waiting for?!- She walked over to the cockpit and sat besides Hank.
Gambit walked in front of Apocalypse’s newly built statue. -Sinister, you wanted me, you have me! I’m here!- He screamed. Immediately, Mr. Sinister teleported himself in front of him.
-Finally! All four spots are taken, but we could make an exception for you.- He smiled.
-Ever since you took Anna Marie from me… I realized there was no point in fighting her.-
-I am glad to hear that.- He put his hand on Gambit’s shoulder, but suddenly, he pushed him away, jumped on his shoulders and wrapped his legs around his neck, pushing Essex to the ground. When Nathaniel looked up at him, Gambit revealed himself to be actually Mystique.
-Should have known it… LeBeau is too proud to do that.-
Raven pulled out her gun and fired it at the villain.
-I am too proud as well.- She smiled.
However, Sinister stood up, regenerating his health immediately. -It takes more than bullets, or a harlot’s kiss, to kill Nathaniel Essex!-
Suddenly, three kinetically charged cards hit Nathaniel Essex. The real Gambit walked to him. Mystique tossed him his bo staff and Le Diable Blanc made it twirl between his fingers.
The X-Men, Rictor, Moira MacTaggert and Magneto gathered around Mr. Sinister, who smirked.
-En Sabah Nur has watched. Some of you he deems worthy of continued existence. Most of you will be culled.- Essex teleported away.
-Where did he go?!- Wolverine asked.
-He probably went to look for his boss… Get ready.- Rictor said, looking at the others.
Suddenly, Rictor’s prediction came true. In front of his own statue, Apocalypse teleported himself, closely followed by his four Horsemen.
-Evolution has been accidental for far too long… And you are accidents that must be corrected out of existence. The age of natural selection is over. Now begins the age of conscious selection. It is time for the grander destiny of Homo Superior to be realized. The test begins... let us see who shall pass. Only those worthy of survival will remain. A new race, cleansed and culled and stronger, awaits… On the other side of Apocalypse.- En Sabah Nur said to the gathered mutants.
Wolverine looked at Colossus.
-Fastball special?- Piotr asked.
-Fastball special, bub.- Logan nodded, smiling. Colossus picked up Wolverine and tossed him at Apocalypse. Wolverine extended his claws, ready to attack, but the First Mutant pushed him aside using his telekinesis.
-Pitiable. If, that is, I had not purged myself of pity centuries ago. You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike God!- En Sabah Nur yelled, as his Horsemen started attacking the X-Men.
-I am terribly sorry, Julio.- The Horseman of War shook his head slightly.
-Gaveedra, don’t make me do this…- Rictor pleaded.
-Make you do what, exactly?- Shatterstar chuckled. -I did this to save you… I thought you could be spared… But Apocalypse helped me realize… You’re not worthy.-
-That’s not you saying that…- The other started tearing up.
-Look at me, Julio. Look past the enhancements. It is me. And I wish I could say otherwise… But you’re not worth saving.-
Enraged, Rictor charged up his hands and fired a shockwave blast at his boyfriend.
-Oh, cher. Look what he did to you…- Gambit muttered, looking at Famine.
-Don’t cry for me, Remy. This is what I was born to be. No one but Apocalypse is gonna give us a gift like this.-
-It’s not gift.- LeBeau shook his head slightly. -He’s poisoned you, and made the poison taste sweet.-
-That’s jealousy talkin’. You can have your chance if you want it. But if you make the wrong choice… That’s on your head.-
-Ainsi soit-il. I’ll get you back, or I’ll die trying.-
Gambit pulled out his bo staff and Rogue pulled her glove off. Famine flew towards her flame, who protected himself with the staff. Using her new powers, she disintegrated the area of the staff she was in contact with. Using the two separate staves, he kinetically charged them and tossed them at Rogue, who dodged them. As the Horseman started cornering him, he used his whole deck against her to no use.
-Don't fight anymore, Remy. I won't kill you unless I have to. I’m givin’ you one last chance to surrender, sugar. After that, it could get ugly.-
-I said I'd win or die trying, Anna Marie. You think Apocalypse cares about you enough to die?-
-Oh, sugar… You give me no other choice.- She shrugged, touching Gambit’s face. Slowly, the skin she touched started darkening, his veins becoming more noticeable and turning black.
-Mon cheri…- He pleaded, looking up at her. The dark area started spreading throughout his whole left cheek.
-Why, I’m practically starvin’ for another fight. Who’s next?- She looked away from him and flew away, ready to defeat more X-Men.
Iceman ran towards Gambit. -What did she do?!-
-Je ne sais pas…- He muttered.
-I don’t know French but I’m gonna assume it’s bad…- He put his hands on Gambit’s cheek.
-Qu'est-ce que tu fais?-
-I love the French accent but I have no idea what you’re saying.- Bobby shook his head slightly. -This might hurt a little…- Iceman muttered, as he started freezing the spreading disease.
The Horseman of Pestilence ran towards Colossus, who blocked his attack using his wrists.
-You were a good man… What happened to you?-
-I saw the light.- Caliban replied, using his new mental plague ability. He soaked up negative emotion from his environment and converted it into a psychic attack. Colossus fell to his knees, looking up at Caliban. Suddenly, Caliban was no longer there. He saw his sister, Magik. She waved at him sweetly, and little by little her body got covered by the Eldritch Armor.
-Snowflake…- Piotr murmured, but suddenly her armor broke down, revealing Magik’s Darkchylde alter ego.
-I’m going mad! Somebody, please, help me!- She begged.
-Please, tell me the truth...Illyana, is that you?-
She smiled evilly and him, fully turned into the Darkchylde.
-I lost you once, Illyana. Please don’t make me suffer any further. Please…- He begged, but she pulled out her Soulsword and stabbed him with it.
-NOOOOO!- Colossus screamed. -ILLYANA NO!!!-
-What is going on?!- Kitty asked, looking at Piotr suffering from delirium.
-This is definitely a psychic attack.- Professor X assessed the situation. -It must be one of Caliban’s new powers.-
-How can we fix him?-
-I can try to fight it from within… But this is an extremely powerful attack.- Kitty put her hands on Piotr’s cheeks, as Lockheed stood on her shoulder.
Archangel fired his wing blades at Beast, who leapt backwards dodging them. Cyclops joined in, pulled out his visor and fired an optic blast at the Horseman of Death. However, he was unaffected by the attack and flew towards the X-Men at full speed. He pushed Scott against Apocalypse’s statue and slashed Beast’s arm with his metal wings.
-Everything they’ve built will fall! And from the ashes of their world, we’ll build a better one!- Apocalypse yelled, attacking Magneto and Havok.
Suddenly, Apocalypse was suddenly pushed away, freeing both mutants. When En Sabah Nur turned around, and saw Polaris running at him, using her magnetokinesis. Psylocke followed her closely, her psi-katana ready.
-Lorna…- Magneto muttered, looking at his daughter aiding him against the First Mutant. The Brotherhood leader flew towards the Mistress of Magnetism. -Why?-
-I am not a villain, fa-Magneto.- She shook her head. -And not doing anything is as bad as being a villain.-
Havok wiped off the rocks that surrounded his body and walked to Polaris. -I’m glad you chose to help.-
-I’m sorry about Genosha…-
-Oh, it’s nothing…- He chuckled.
Erik cleared his voice. -I am sorry, but we’re in the middle of something.-
-Yes, right.- Alex nodded.
Lorna flew towards the battle and Alex followed her.
Psylocke walked to Archangel.
-Wow.- She muttered, looking at Warren’s changed look.
-You were expecting a McDonald's, Ms. Braddock?-
-Something has happened to him. His psychic signature has… Changed…- She whispered to herself. -It’s like he is a completely different person…-
-What are you going to do, Betsy? Kill me?- Archangel chuckled, landing in front of her. -Come on, try.-
Psylocke raised her eyebrows. -That’s exactly what I am gonna do.- Braddock ran towards him, stabbing through his heart with the psi-katana. Warren started shaking uncontrollably, falling down to his knees. The telepath pulled her katana out of her lover’s chest.
He looked up at her, before becoming unconscious.
-How did you know that wasn’t gonna kill him?- Moira MacTaggert asked.
Apocalypse turned around immediately, as soon as he lost his Horseman of Death.
-No…- Apocalypse whispered. Mystique ran towards him and leapt, but he grabbed her neck and pushed her away. Then, he spotted Gambit laying down, trying to stand up and chase Rogue.
-You can try to keep chasin’ all you want, sugar.- She smirked, looking at her wounded lover.
Suddenly, Apocalypse teleported in front of them.
-Do not try to fight it, my son.- He looked down at him. -I can help you. I can heal you… And you will be able to join your loved one. Soyez le Cavalier de la Mort.-
Gambit looked up at Apocalypse and then he spotted Rogue, holding a hand out at him. LeBeau took her hand and stood up, as Apocalypse enhanced him.
-Lève-toi, mon enfant.- He smiled, turning him into the new Horseman of Death.
Apocalypse regrouped his Horsemen, readying them for the fight. Death took Famine’s hand, squeezing it slightly.
Professor X got away from Colossus and faced Apocalypse. -To me, my X-Men!-
The heroes jumped to action, unleashing a fierce battle against En Sabah Nur and his Horsemen. However, the forces of evil had the advantage.
Fearing for the lives of his students and the whole world, Professor X looked at Jean, disabling the mental block he had on her ever since she was a teenager.
-Jean, unleash you full powers… Now!-
Immediately, fire gathered around the mutant, shaped like a Phoenix. She extended her hand at Apocalypse, unleashing a fire blast.
Knowing his demise was coming soon, the First Mutant smiled. -Her true form is revealed. All has been revealed.- Apocalypse turned to stone, and his rock form turned to dust that was soon gone with the wind. Everything Apocalypse had done in Cairo, together with the Horsemen’s enhancements.
Mr. Sinister smiled widely, standing still some feet away from the battle. -There’s a spectacle to appreciate. And damn me, if I say it myself… It’s everything I imagined it would be.-
Psylocke ran to Angel, expecting to see his wings gone again. However, she found him naked on the floor, his wings flapping in the air. Since she had broken him out of Apocalypse’s control, he could keep his mechanical augmentations.
-Betsy…- He looked up at her, smiling.
-Warren, your wings!- She pointed at them. He looked behind himself and laughed excitedly. Without hesitation, he flew towards her, embraced her and kissed her lips.
Shatterstar quietly walked to Rictor.
-You know… About what I said?- Gaveedra looked down.
-I know, it was Apocalypse’s control, it wasn’t you.-
-No… I meant… About wanting a more open relationship? Screw that, I love you, Julio Richter.-
Surprised, Rictor looked up at his boyfriend and kissed him.
Gambit ran towards Rogue and wrapped his arms around her waist, spinning her around and kissing her passionately.
Wolverine flew towards Mr. Sinister, tackling him. -Where were you going, bub?-
-Oh, nowhere.- Sinister smiled. -It is fair that you imprison me in the Mansion. You won.-
-Villains are usually angrier when they lose…- Iceman commented and then looked back at Magneto and Mystique. -No offense.-
-And yet, one thing will always remain constant… Sinister!- Essex exclaimed when being placed in one of the School’s nullifier cells.
Gambit shut the door, locking Sinister in. Finally, Essex was under lock.
-Th-Thank you for helping me, Professor.- Caliban smiled at Xavier.
-Will you be staying with us? We could use your powers.- Beast suggested.
-I’m afraid not.- The former Morlock shook his head. -Callisto is somewhere out there, still under Sugar Man’s control. I have to find her.-
Storm nodded. -I admire that.-
Caliban turned away and walked to the Mansion’s door. He put his hat, goggles and poncho on and walked away.
-The world’s already acting like nothing happened…- Professor X told Magneto.
-It’s human nature, Charles.-
-I still have hope.-
Erik chuckled. -Oh, yes. “Hope”.-
-I was right about Raven. I was even right about you.-
-What about the rest of the world? Doesn’t it ever wake you up in the middle of the night? The feeling that one day they’ll come for you and your children.-
-It does, indeed.-
-What do you do when you wake up to that?-
-I feel a great swell of pity for the poor soul that comes to my school looking for trouble.-
-You sure I can’t convince you to stay?-
Magneto smiled. -You’re psychic, Charles.- He turned around to leave. -You can convince me to do anything.-
-Goodbye, old friend.-
-Good luck, Professor.- Erik said, as he walked out of the Mansion with Mystique.
The Professor turned around and got inside the Danger Room, where the X-Men, including new members Gambit and Psylocke, were training under Cyclops’ tutelage. Xavier smiled.
- Archangel, Eldrich Armor and Darkchylde Magik, Cypher, Dani Moonstar and Karma's sprites were made by User:Loupi.
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- Professor X, Horseman of Death Gambit, Horseman of War Shatterstar, Anole and Elixir's sprites were made by User:Nekhene.
- Graymalkin, Icarus, Indra, Ink, Wallflower, Armor and Human Mystique's sprites were made by User:Sunder4321.
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