X-Men Evolution NEXT

Sacrifice

"Why does this make sense to me? Everything in my fiber tells me what I am about to do is just. But everything around me is telling me otherwise. I can see doubt in the faces of my Acolytes as well. All accept for Sabertooth, he only seeks carnage. But what is it I seek? I feel threads of my soul seeking truths, but the desire to follow through seems divided. It is as though my vision is clouded and tunneled. I feel the truths are just beyond my vision, eluding me. The deed I am about to commit, I know to be wrong. Yet, I find no true fault in it? Allan Paran was not my enemy before. His presence has gone unnoticed years before he arrived in Bayville. Now his presence hounds me every waking second. It is an overwhelming feeling of…of inferiority. I feel inferior to his power, much in the same manner as I did facing Apocalypse. I fear him, the same way humans fear mutants. Charles preaches they only fear us because they do not understand us. But my experience has shown me, what humans do not understand they fear, and what they fear they will most likely destroy. And so I must do the same. Or do I?"

Magneto sits in his observation chair surrounded by numerous flat panel monitors. Each one showing him a multitude of information, from Allan's off the scale power signature to the infrared scans of SHIELD troop movements. His eyes look tired and blood shot, as though he has not slept in days. His rough stubble on his chin and neck shows that he has not looked in a mirror in quite some time. Magneto adjusts his posture in his chair keeping his eyes on his monitors as his chamber door opens. Gambit and Mastermind walk in slowly and glance at each other with concern. "Radar picked up a SHIELD strike force heading in dis direction." Gambit mentions.

Mastermind sneers and adds, "It would seem your cloaking field has failed, they are coming to destroy us."

Magneto sits back into his chair and sighs out, "I am well aware of SHIELD's intentions. And the cloaking field did not fail, I shut it down. It is time we showed our oppressors no fear." as he suddenly grips his head with his right hand and adds, "Or… mercy."

He switches on the large monitor screen behind him showing the full digital schematic of the approaching SHIELD assault force. "Do nothing until I give the signal. I want to draw them in closer."

Magneto rubs his forehead slowly and adds, "Only by releasing chaos can one achieve true order."

Gambit and Mastermind both nod and exit out of his chamber. As the door closes behind them, Gambit whispers, "De man is lookin' rough. Dis ain't gonna be a good turn out."

"Agreed, "Mastermind replies, "Magneto is not in the right mind set. I sense a great deal of conflict within him. There will be no victor in this war he is about to drag us into."

Gambit glances at Mastermind as they walk down the metal laced hallway and asks, "What'd ya mean that he be not in right mind set?"

"I means exactly what I say." Mastermind answers, "The conflict I sense within him is intense, like he is at war with himself. Did you hear the last comment he said, about releasing chaos to achieve order?"

"What about it?" Gambit asks, "Maybe he's on somethin'."

Mastermind shakes his head and remarks, "If only that were true. No, I heard those same words in Allan Paran's mind."

Gambit gives him a concerned expression as Mastermind adds, "There are powers at work here that go beyond our comprehension. And I fear no matter what sides we choose to fight on, we are all doomed."

They peer out an observation window look out over clouds where magneto's spherical fortress floats. In the far distance, just above the horizon of clouds, they watch a swarm of military aircraft taking position for attack.

Allan sidesteps Juggernaut's large swinging fist and retaliates with his own solid right hooking punch to his kidneys. Allan follows up with low striking left uppercut just below Juggernaut's rib cage. The thundering strikes stagger Juggernaut as he stumbles back. His dome like helmet remains intact but severely dented from Allan's counter attacks. He grunts out, "I'm… still standin'… shrimp."

Allan glares at him in a squared off stance and replies, "This doesn't have to get ugly, Cain. I'm not gonna let you take another step closer to the mansion."

"You can't stop the unstoppable!" Juggernaut yells out as he begins to charge.

Stepping back into a defensive stance, Allan prepares to repel his charge. Just then, a mixture of energy blasts bombard Juggernaut from his right side forcing him to stumble to his left and trip. Allan looks over to see Bererker, Magma, Jubilee, and Dazzler holding their hands out at Juggernaut. Their hands glow each with their own unique power as they glare at Juggernaut. "We got your back Allan." Berzerker says.

Allan smiles and notices they are decked out in their uniforms. Running up behind them, the other students take up position also dressed for battle. Glaring back at Juggernaut, Allan orders out, "Alright then, take this chump to school!"

With that said, the four readied mutants bombard Juggernaut again in an onslaught of fireworks, light and flames. He grunts out as he is pushed over again sending him tumbling off to his left some more. The other students follow their lead and begin to flank Juggernaut slowly cutting him off from any attempt to approach the main house. Allan backs off telling them, "Keep on him and get his helmet off!"

The students pour on the fire power, keeping Juggernaut off balance as Allan falls back a bit to check on Carol and Rogue. Nursing a sore knee, Carol sits up and says, "This gives a whole new meaning to the term 'hit the dirt'."

Allan looks at Rogue, who shares the same sarcastic smirk and replies, "Well maybe next time you'll listen to a 'cosmic super guy' when he tells you to take cover."

Rogue speaks up, "Ah think her knee is broke, Allan. Ah'll get her back to the house."

Looking back at the ensuing battle between the students and the staggered Juggernaut, Allan replies, "We'll have thing under control here shortly."

"How're ya gonna beat him without usin' yer full power, Allan? If you go all out on 'em you'll be gettin' more cosmic attention." Rogue adds.

Allan smiles at her as he stands back up and says, "That's where the skills come in, babe."

Rogue helps stand Carol up and supports her weight on her shoulders. She steps up to Allan with Carol in tow and lightly kisses him saying, "Be careful."

Lightly rubbing the dimple on Rogue's chin, Allan smiles at her, then turns to the battle behind them joining the students. Carol glances at Rogue as she stumbles a bit trying to balance her weight on one leg at the same time leaning against her. She gives Rogue a sarcastic look saying, "Are you two always this cheesy when you're fighting for your lives?"

Rogue smirks at her replying, "Back off, blondie, unless you wanna walk back by yourself. And stop squirmin', if you accidentally touch my skin, a broken knee will be the least of yer troubles." as they slowly hobble towards the mansion.

Allan steps up next to Allison as she continues focusing her stream of solid light from her hands at Juggernaut. She glances at Allan asking, "What's it take to stop this loser?"

"A little bit of patients and skill." Allan replies, "How accurate are you?"

Allison looks back at him with a grin and places her finger on his lips saying, "Do you really need to ask?"

Lightly swatting her hand from his face, Allan grins at her and says, "Aim for the eye holes on his helmet, and blind him."

Allison points her finger out at Juggernaut like she is holding a gun and says, "I love it when you tell me to fight dirty."

She winks at Allan and projects a narrow beam of light towards Juggernaut's dome like helmet. The shimmering beams of light bolt through the eyeholes and flash brightly though the helmet. Juggernaut yells out as he staggers backwards clutching his hands over the eyeholes of his helmet. Allison steps back and grins remarking, "Now that was a sweet shot!"

Allan chuckles at her remark, then telepathically speaks to the others saying, 'The rest of you, concentrate on his helmet.'

In a loud exploding manner, Cannonball propels himself as he kinetically ignites the molecules around him, sending him flying towards Juggernaut at near supersonic speeds. His mutant ability renders him nearly invulnerable when he is in flight as he angles his trajectory upward. With both fists out in front, Cannonball slams up against Juggernaut's helmet, attempting to knock it clean off. A loud pinging sound echoes around the battle as Cannonball ricochets off of Juggernaut's dome helmet only causing him just to stagger a bit more. Flying back to his friends, Cannonball shakes his hands out of pain and says, "Man, that thing is on tight!"

Jubilee, Berzerker, and Magma bombard Juggernaut again, raining a combined firepower on fiery sparks, electricity and molten fire upon his helmet. The attack forces Juggernaut to stumble and fall back causing the ground to shake. Young Multiple takes advantage of the disoriented Juggernaut and runs up to his helmet using his ability to duplicate four identical versions of himself. Each one of his duplicates climbs onto Juggernaut like climbing a tree and begin unlocking the latches that seem to hold the dome like helmet tightly over Juggernaut's head. Hearing the clinging sounds of the latches unlocking, Juggernaut quickly scrambles to his feet. Multiple reabsorbs his duplicates and dives for cover, yelling out, "I got it!"

In another combined effort, Berzerker, Jubilee, Magma, and Dazzler project their powers again toward Juggernaut's helmet. The attack strikes loudly like thunder knocking Juggernaut back to the ground forcing him to grunt out. His helmet remains intact firmly over his head much to their surprise. Allan glares at the helmet and remarks, "It looks like it's fused onto his chest plate."

Stumbling towards the house, Rogue struggles to support Carol's weight. "Dang, it would help if ya used the one good workin' leg ya got." Rogue grunts out.

Carol sarcastically replies, "Sorry, I am kind of struggling with a painfully broken knee."

Glancing at her with a smirk, Rogue asks, "Don't you government agents go through, like, survival trainin' and stuff?"

"Yes," Carol responds in frustration, "but pain is pain, and this is a lot of pain."

Rogue simply rolls her eyes at Carol's comment and spots the Professor and Hank making their way to them. Hank quickly relieves Rogue picking up Carol then turning around and takes her inside. Charles asks Rogue, "Allan is not using his full power?"

She nods silently as he adds, "He is thinking about our safety, at the expense of his own. He will be fine, Rogue. Besides, it looks like he is using this moment to further train the students." as he smiles with concern.

Rogue returns his smile and says, "Ah'm goin' back to help him, Professor."

Charles nods as she turns and runs back towards the battle. He feels Rogue's genuine concern for Allan's well being, and anger towards Mystique, her apparent step mother. The one who seemed to have orchestrated the events leading up to today's battle.

Rogue sprints toward the fight hoping over lower shrubs and bushes. She glances up at the battle and sees Allan quickly step up to Juggernaut and grabs hold of his dome like helmet. Juggernaut, still blinded by Dazzler's light blast, struggles against Allan's tugging. She slightly smiles at the sight as she approaches seeing how ridiculous it looks. Juggernaut is leaned over trying to pull away while Allan holds on looking like he is playing 'tug a war' with his head. Suddenly she hears a whispering voice off to her right call out to her, "Rogue."

She stops her run and looks into the nearby wooded area. Rogue peers into the trees squinting her eyes has the voice whispers out again, "Rogue, come closer. It's ok."

Rogue stands firms and replies, "Who's there. Come out."

Lightly bustling through the brush, Irene steps out smiling at her saying, "It's me."

Stepping back a bit, Rogue slightly smiles, then her expression grows baffled as she asks, "Irene? What're you doing here?"

Irene steps forward, then slightly stumbles as she grabs her head muttering out, "Making…sure… making sure you're safe… of course."

Rogue slowly steps up inquiring, "Wait a minute, how'd you get here?"

"Does it matter?' Irene remarks, "I'm here now."

Stumbling back in surprise, Rogue's attention is suddenly caught by the approaching sounds of running footsteps through the brush ahead of her. She looks past Irene and sees Mystique approaching with Sean and Emma a few steps behind. "The hell is goin' on here!" Rogue asks out loudly.

Mystique says in a careful tone, "Just step away from Irene, Rogue. We'll handle this."

Rogue quickly steps in front of Irene putting herself between them and demands, "Back off, Mystique! You ain't handlin' nothin' until Ah get some answers!"

Emma speaks up, "Please understand, we're trying to help."

"Yeah right," Rogue replies, "By sendin' the Juggernaut after my boyfriend?"

Mystique remarks, "I promise, I will explain all of this, but first you must trust me this once, and step away from Irene."

"Trust you?" Rogue asks with a sarcastic grin, "Ah can' t trust as far as Ah can throw ya, woman. And yer promises ain't worth squat as far as Ah'm concerned."

Rogue starts to usher Irene away from Mystiques position not taking her eyes of them. Mystique and her two cohorts take slow steps trying to approach Rogue and Irene at the same time keeping their distance. A loud metal ripping sound echoes out to them as they look up and see Allan rip Juggernaut's dome helmet off. Quite a dramatic scene as Allan grips the helmet with his left hand and kicks off Juggernaut with his right leg in a thrusting strike to his stomach. The helmet peels off his chest plate like thick cardboard as Juggernaut staggers back and falls to the ground. Rubbing his eyes frantically, Juggernaut struggles to his feet. His vision slowly returning, but still severely disoriented. Allan yells out, "Now!"

Berzerker, Magma, Jubilee and Dazzler let loose another power bombardment targeting Juggernaut's exposed head. The attack strikes hard as he yells out, pinned to the ground. Magma glares at Juggernaut and says, "We need more firepower, he's not staying down!"

Allan shuffles back to the students behind the four and approaches Alex. Allan smiles at him and asks, "You're Scott's brother right?"

Alex quickly replies, "Yeah."

"Gotta codename yet?" Allan inquires.

"I guess, you can call me, Havok." Alex replies.

Allan leads Alex up to the other four and says, "Well, Havok, help these four keep him pinned down. Just aim at his head. And give it all you got."

Alex nervously smiles and focuses his mutant powers holing his hands out at Juggernaut as well. With a similar bright ruby red flare like Scott's, Alex projects a blast that joins the other four and slams it into Juggernaut's temple. The sudden addition of Havok's blast pushes Juggernaut over as he slides and stumbles. Allan then speaks out, "Psylocke, stand ready."

She replies, "For what?"

"You get the honor of striking the final blow." Allan answers.

Psylocke's expression grows concern and nervous like as she says, "I can't, I'm just a telepath. I read minds, only minds."

Allan adds, "You can also project your thoughts. Which means you can nail him with a psychic bolt or something similar."

"I suppose," Psylocke says, "But I wouldn't know how."

"Now is a good time to learn." Allan remarks.

Jubilee grunts out as she continues bombarding Juggernaut with the others, "What ever you're about to do, do it fast. We can't keep this up forever!"

Rogue turns back to Mystique keeping her away from Irene and says, "Looks like your little plan is goin' up in smoke. Ah suggest you run as far as you can before this is over." as she grins at them.

Mystique adds, "Rogue, I'm not sure how to explain any of this. But this fight wasn't part of my plan. There is something wrong with Irene, something working against her will."

Rogue quickly removes both of her gloves and states, "Any of ya take another step forward, Ah'll drain ya dry, Ah swear!"

Psylocke slowly steps up, then looks back at Allan nervously. Allan gives her a thumbs up and says, "Remember, gather your thoughts, and focus it all into one sharp projected thought. Imaging it like your throwing the sharpest knife in the world."

She nods back at him as Allan speaks up to the others, "Stand by to seize fire!"

Psylocke closes her eyes and begins to focus her thoughts. Allan then yells out, "Seize fire!"

The five energy projecting mutants stop their bombardment and begin catching their breathes. Juggernaut staggers from the sustained attack then finally gets to his feet groaning out. Allan speaks out, "He's all yours Psylocke."

She suddenly opens her eyes and swings her right hand outward as though throwing a virtual knife at Juggernaut's head. In a loud agonizing scream, Juggernaut grabs his head in pain. A sharp pain pierces his mind as though someone has shoved a needle through his forehead. Then an agonizing sensation of what feels like to him a brain freeze, only a hundred times worse. Finally, the feeling of pins and needles wash over his mind as the area within his cranium goes numb. He stumbles back with his eyes closed tightly, then sudden collapses backwards unconscious. Juggernaut lay on the battered grassy lawn out cold and begins to drool like a vegetable. The students cheer out loudly as they celebrate their victory. Psylocke looks down at Juggernaut's state with curiosity and disgust, and remarks, "Oh bother, did I do that?"

Dazzler slaps her butt playfully and tells her, "You bet your ass you did girl! That absolutely rocked!"

Rogue glances at her friend's victory, then back at Mystique as she says, "Game's over ya'll." as she grins at them and adds, "and Allan barely lifted a finger this time."

Mystique, Emma, and Sean look a bit stunned as they freeze in place looking over Rogue's shoulder. Irene suddenly speaks out, "That… is very unfortunate. It seems my hand is being forced again. Forgive me Rogue."

Grinning but keeping her eyes on Mystique, Rogue asks, "Forgive you for what, Irene?"

Suddenly, Rogue's body is jolted violently from behind. Her eyes widen as she yipes out in surprise as she feels the a mixture of sensations, from extreme cold to extreme heat. Then a sharp and drawn out pain as she looks down. Ripping through her uniform from behind, a glowing spear like shaft pierces her right shoulder just next to her chest. Blood splatters out at Mystique and her cohorts as they are taken by complete surprise. Their eyes fill with horror as Rogue is lifted off the ground. She screams out in pain as Irene's eyes begin filling with tears. Irene cries out, "I'm so sorry, please forgive me!"

Rogue's scream catches Allan's attention as he looks over at the wooded area. Mystique yells out in horror, "NNOOO!"

Emma and Sean are in shock as they watch Irene's body glow angelically holding a glowing translucent spear like weapon with Rogue impaled on the tip. Rogue begins crying out in pain, her body stunned and limp as she is hoisted into the air. Then with another violent jolt, Irene pulls the spears back out. Rogue grunts out loudly as the spear rips out of her body. She collapses to the leafy ground all limp. Her blood stains the soil as Irene steps back with tears in her eyes and says, "Tell him, if he wants vengeance, to meet me out on the bay area."

Then in a bright flash of light, Irene vanishes from their sight. Mystique drops to check Rogue's limp body. She sees blood slowly dripping from the side of her mouth. Rogue spasms a bit as she groans out trying to remain conscious. Mystique sits neat to her unsure of what to do. The inability to touch Rogue's skin is preventing her from enacting any form of first aid. Emma quickly removes her white billowing cape drapes it over Rogue's body to keep her warm. Sean begins to tear pieces of his shirt off to create a makeshift tourniquet as he place it on Rogue's bleeding wound. She grunts out with tears running from her eyes as Sean applies pressure to her wound to keep it from bleeding worse. Sean mentions as he tries carefully not touch her blood or skin, "The wound goes all the way through."

Mystique looks at him with despair, wanting to desperately cradle Rogue's head to give her comfort. She gently says to Rogue, "I failed you. You and your brother, I'm so sorry."

Rogue coughs as a small drip of blood runs off the side of her mouth. "Hey! What's going on over here?" someone sudden speaks out.

All three look up quickly and see Allan trotting into the woods towards them. He speaks out again, "I asked you three a question, and you all better have a…." as he looks past them and notices Rogue laying on the ground with a white cape draped around her. She groans out, barely conscious withy a blood stained rag over her right shoulder and chest area. With out a word, Allan dives to the ground to her and quickly cradles her head. He caresses and brushes the hair from her face. His expression at first is stern as he quickly looks over her wounds, then saddens as he looks up at Mystique, Sean, and Emma then asks, "What happened? Who did this?"

The three glance at each other silently as Allan screams out in an echoing angelic voice then resonates around them, "WHO DID THIS!"

They flinch at the sound of his voice but remain in their place. Emma gently speaks up, "We're not quite sure, it happened so fast."

Mystique covers her face as she begins to cry. Sean crouches down next to Allan and asks, "Is there anything you can do for her?"

Allan glares at him in anger, but then softens his expression a bit. Holding out his left hand over Rogue's severe wound, Allan begins to focus his energies. His face seems to show a bit of struggle as his hand and Rogue's wound glow together. Rogue gently shuffles a little I his arms as she groans out. Allan closes his hand and grits his teeth as says, "Her wound isn't closing completely. Someone like me did this to her. But how could they get this close without me noticing?"

Sean looks up at Emma with concern as she crouches down and speaks up, "I telepathically masked our mental signatures to hide us from Charles Xavier. We didn't know about what was happening to Irene until it was too late."

Bustling through the trees behind them, the other students approach cautiously. They trot up to where they see Allan kneeling down and stop in their track as they see Rogue in her condition. The Brotherhood approaches from right side in a flanking maneuver and also stop, looking at the grim scene. Allan gently wipes the blood off the side of Rogue's cheek. The students look with saddening eyes as Allan shuffles a bit to cradle Rogue's injured body. She slowly opens her eyes and looks up at Allan muttering out, "Ah'm dyin'… aren't Ah?"

Allan caresses her face and holds her close as he smiles and says, "Not if I can help it."

She groans out and winces at her pain as she lightly smiles and adds, "Ah just wish it didn't hurt so much."

"Just hold on to me," Allan says, "I won't hurt for long."

Allan looks at the others tells them, "Stand back, please."

Sean picks up Mystique and pulls her away along with Emma and turns to watch. The students and Brotherhood take careful steps away as Allan's body begins to glow. With his body glow bright white, he places his hand on Rogue's wound. He then leans over and kisses her. In a sudden flash of bright light, Rogue's body begins to glow as well as she gasps out loudly as though gasping for air. She arches back with her head whipping back as she is held in Allan's arms. A loud washing sound echoes around the area as the light from their bodies nearly blinds everyone, then suddenly vanishes in a bright flashing manner. The students, Brotherhood, and Mystique's crew opens their eyes to see Allan dressed completely in his unique uniform standing with Rogue still cradled in his arms. They all slowly approach as Hank and Pietro make their way through the gathered mass.

"Everyone please stand aside. "Hank urges them.

He steps up to Allan as Mystique follows and asks, "Is she alright, Allan?"

"She'll be fine. " Allan simply replies as he hands her unconscious body over Hank.

Being careful not to have skin to skin contact with her, Hank gently holds her and looks at Allan asking, "Are you alright?"

Allan just glances at Hank in silence then turns to Mystique and her cohorts asking, "Where did Irene go?"

Emma replies, "She said to find her out over the bay area. You're not going to kill her, are you?"

Peering through the eyeholes of his full covering helmet with sad eyes, Allan replies, "I'll have to do what's necessary. I think that's what this is about." as he looks over at Rogue.

Allan adds, "When she wakes up, tell her I said I'm sorry, for everything."

He steps away from them then looks up. In a blurring show of speed, Allan dart into the sky kicking up a gust of wind that blow loose leaves and dirty around. The gathered group watch as Allan disappears in blur of speed beyond their sight. Hank looks down at Rogue in his arms and smiles lightly. Then he looks up at the other saying, "We should all go inside now."

He then stares up at Mystique, Sean and Emma and adds, "All of us, please."

Taking quick glances up at the sky the gathered group including Mystique's slowly walk to the mansion. Hank sighs out looking at Rogue as she sleeps in his burly arms, then stares up to the sky. "God speed, Allan." he mutters out as carries Rogue to the house.


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