Frozen with peril, Rogue stared at the silhouetted figure. Furiously looking around, she found no easy way of escaping. All around her was thick, dark foliage, which would surely make it harder for her to get away. Raising her head toward the sky, she felt the few premature drops of rain splash into her teary eyes.

"W... What do you want with me?" She managed to choke out.

But Toad merely stepped closer and tilted his head. He didn't speak, but advanced slowly upon his prey.

Rogue thrashed inside of her mind. Think! But no thoughts came. Run! But she had no energy. No! Yes, she was doomed.

Flashes of memories burst through her skull. Everyone that she had ever met shook her hand once more in her thoughts. Every person who had ever smiled at her, grinned in her direction once again. And this would be the last time she would ever see those people again...

As Rogue fought with her inner demons, Mortimer fought with himself.

Toad, I don't want to kill her! I don't want to! Don't make me. Please, don't make me... No...

But still, he advanced. Still, he came closer and closer to the innocent girl, which he was meant to destroy.

"Don't be afraid, girl," Mortimer found himself saying. "I'm only here to put your torture to rest."

Rogue backed against the thick trunk of a tree and stared at her attacker's face. His abnormal green skin appeared slimier, more disgustingly yellow by the minute as each raindrop fell from the sky. The absence of his goggles made his eyes look smaller and more fierce as he peered at her through thick, black lashes. Each step he took was in crouch position- a ready-to-attack stance that she had seen before.

Breathing heavily, Rogue sized up her adversary. He was somewhat short and appeared to be of stocky stature. But that all was deceiving as she recalled. Rogue had seen this particular mutant fight. She had seen him kill people and mutants alike. She had seen his strength and agility, and she knew that there was nothing that she could do.

He watched her in a daze. Her chest rose and fell with each hurried breath and tears mixed with rain fell from her eyes, ran down her cheeks, and splashed inaudibly to the muddy ground. Carefully, he took note of her. She wasn't as small as some of the teenagers from the manor. Curiously, she was far more well endowed than any other student he had seen running away from him and screaming in terror.


She wasn't running away; perhaps she was facing what was coming to her? Perhaps she had realized her fate and was accepting it? No. That couldn't be it. But he knew that he had to be careful. She was wearing her gloves, a sure sign that he could attack safely and then get the hell out of there. But if she removed them?

Mortimer shook his head. This Rogue girl seemed to be an easy kill, so why couldn't he just get it over with? Why couldn't he just pounce on her and breathe in the intoxicating scent of victory? Toad said it would be easy...

Just focus on her pain and watch yours just wash away...

Yes. Yes, he could do this. But when to attack? Did she sense that he was apprehensive? What was she thinking? He knew that she was afraid, as she stood stock still, arching her back against the trunk of a tree.

He watched her breathe for a moment and narrowed his eyes.

It is now or never.

Then with one bound, he was on top of her, forcing his body to pin her down so that he may finish what he had been sent to do.

But before he could get his grip, she slipped from beneath him and ran across the clearing, toward the huge stone construction that had been behind her earlier. Quickly, she whisked her hands toward her gloves and fumbled with them. The rain now beat more heavily and she couldn't get the tight leather to slip from her fingers.

Her enemy approached.

'Rogue, come on! Come on, Rogue!'

And finally, she threw both of her gloves to the earth and defiantly peered down at her attacker. Now she was ready to fight.

"Come get me, you slimy son of a bitch!"

The amphibian needed no further invitation. He leapt to her level, on the slippery stone slide and stared at her maliciously.

"Those aren't words for such a pretty lass like yourself," he taunted.

Rogue spat, her southern accent sharp, "Then why don't you educate me, Toad?"

Following her threat, Rogue kicked from the ground and sailed feet first into Mortimer's chest. Catching him amazingly off guard, she knocked him back down to the cold earth and landed beside him in crouch position.

Mort lied there for a moment and then turned toward the girl.

"You're gonna wish you never did that."

And springing up from the mud, he launched himself at Rogue with such speed that she barely knew what hit her. Both mutants flew backward and Rogue felt her head spin from the impact. Before she could think further, Rogue jumped on top of Mortimer and began to claw at his face, leaving scratches that emitted tiny drops of blood.

Lying beneath her, Mort could feel the life being drained out of him as the girl no longer clawed at him, but firmly planted her palms down on his face. Striving to kick her away, he felt himself becoming weaker and weaker.

Come on Toad!

Finally, his legs responded and forced Rogue back. She stumbled slightly but smiled as she imitated his fighting stance. Mortimer gaped as he realized that she now held his powers. In a split second, she was behind him. Faster than she had ever moved in her life, she swept Mort off of his feet and he landed in a huge puddle.

Both mutants were now completely soaked to the bone and mud adorned their clothing. Feeling defeated, Mortimer lied in the mud puddle for a moment.

You bloody coward! Get up and finish her off! FINISH HER!

But when Mort didn't make any move to attack, Toad became more forceful:

I knew you couldn't do it. I knew you'd never amount to anything! And look, a girl is beating you. An X-Men girl at that! Ha! So this finally proves it. I AM better.

And that was it.

Fiercely, Mortimer pushed up from the ground and back-flipped over Rogue. As she spun around, he launched his tongue to grab her feet and trip her up.

"Huh!" She yelled, caught unawares.

Now Mort was over her, pinning her so that she had no way of escaping. She was defenseless; she was going to die.

"Have I taught you enough yet?" he jeered. And slowly, he produced a blade and ran it across her cheeks, careful not to draw blood.

"I think... I think I'll start with your hands, so it will be harder for you to steal anyone's powers ever again."

Her sharp cries were all that could be heard as Mortimer set to work on her. Slowly, he spun her wrist around in his gloved hands and exposed the tender flesh of her inner arm. In a matter of seconds, he had peeled away the skin and opened each vein. Her blood flowed to the muddy earth and seeped into the ground.

Next were her hands. Then, softly, he ran his protected fingers over her face and traced the curves of her lips. Bending down, he lightly kissed them and smiled at her.

"Goodbye, my sweet."

Hastily, he plunged the knife into her chest and felt it unmistakably pierce her heart. With another cry of pain, Rogue screamed into the night as much as her body would allow. And then, everything was silent.

Suddenly, Mort whipped around as the sound of approaching feet fluttered into his ears.

"Easy there, you wouldn't want to hurt another mutant, would you?"

Mystique neared Mortimer and placed one hand on his shoulder.

"You've done it, Toad. You've done it and we're all so proud of you. Now, you won't have to do anything like this ever again, just..."

"No," Toad said sharply. He waited for a moment and watched the blood trickle from Rogue's lifeless body. And then he grinned.

"I like it," he whispered darkly. "Now, tell me, what else do you want me to do?"