Splintered Shadows

Part Twenty-Two

"This is foolish," Mystique muttered, and crouched lower, moving towards the shadows along the wall.

Rogue rolled her eyes, following closely behind. "Ya didn't have to come."

"I'm keeping an eye on you."

The sound of a twig snapping stopped any reply Rogue had. She tensed, carefully observed their surroundings and waited for Mystique's appraisal of the situation. After a few moments, they continued on, slowly moving along the wall.

"I can take care of myself," Rogue said, glaring at the older woman's back.

"Of course you can."

Her eyes narrowed at Mystique's response. "Gee, thanks," she muttered, and placed a detonator on the ground.

"I have faith in you, girl," Mystique replied, and Rogue flinched as the woman's bare hand cupped her chin. "I have none in him."

Rogue glared as the woman's hatred for Magneto filled her. "Stop it." She wrenched her face away and shook her head, clearing it.

"I'm only trying to help," Mystique informed her. The smile that graced her lips was anything but sweet.

"Don't." Rogue maneuvered her way around her, placing another detonator along the way, freezing as she reached the corner. Her gaze moved towards the surveillance camera. "Dismantle, please."

She removed another detonator from the pouch slung over her shoulder, waiting for Mystique's okay before proceeding forward. "You shouldn't even be here," Mystique grumbled, waving for her to continue.

"This really ain't the time for one of your warning spiels," Rogue replied, scooting past.

"Behind me," Mystique snapped, and grasped her arm.

Rogue nearly stumbled as she was forced backwards. She winced as her back smacked into the wall and glared at Mystique. "Ow!"

"Quiet!" Mystique growled, and Rogue's eyes widened as a group of men entered the building. She froze, waiting for a response, breathing a sigh of relief when nothing happened. "You've gotten sloppy."

"I have not," Rogue grumbled, following Mystique along the wall towards the doorway. You just distract me.

The pair neared a large window and they crouched low, creeping towards it. Rogue slowly peered into it, eyes widening in disbelief at the scene unfolding before her. The room was full ofFoH members but her gaze was on the stage, focused on the five young mutants crucified on the stage. Her stomach lurched as one of them was disemboweled, the child's screams drowned out by the cheers of the crowd. Rogue's eyes narrowed and she started towards the door, growling as Mystique grabbed her, forcing her against the wall.

"There are mutants in there," Rogue whispered, trying to get away.

"And charging inside will only get you killed." Mystique silently surveyed their surroundings, before nodding towards an open window a few feet away. "Keep your eyes open and listen."

"I have done this before."

Mystique scowled at her. "Then be quiet."

Rogue bit back another growl and followed, stopping underneath the window, wondering exactly how they would be able to get inside without being noticed. She froze as one of the men began speaking. "Let the Earth be cleansed of these spawns of Satan."

Ear-piercing screams erupted through the air and Rogue peered into the window, gasping as the children were set on fire, struggling to break free as Mystique dragged her back down, pinning her against the wall.

"You cannot help them now."

"I can avenge them!" Rogue protested, trying to get up.

"And get yourself killed!"

Rogue glared, ceasing her struggle as the man began speaking again. "These are not the only demons we will cleanse from the Earth today! Right now, an elite team has been sent to the abomination that is parading as a school. They will purify the grounds of all mutant filth and show the world that the X-Men are not our saviors."

Rogue's eyes widened in realization. "Oh my god, they're at the mansion." She pushed Mystique off and ran towards the rendezvous spot, not paying any attention to her own safety. She clicked on the communicator, her voice shaking as she spoke. "They're attacking the mansion."

"Rogue?" Magneto's voice crackled.

"They're at the school," she continued, forcing herself to run harder. "They're at Xavier's."

She rounded the corner, Mystique right behind her. She faltered, stumbling over the underbrush, seeing the others making their way towards the jet. "The Friends of Humanity are attacking the mansion." She struggled to catch her breath, grasping Magneto's arm to steady herself. "They…they burned children…in the back."

Oh god. She felt like throwing up.

"Destroy it," Magneto ordered, and she watched as Delgado pressed a few buttons on the laptop. "Get onto the jet. Set course for Xavier's."

"They should look after themselves," one of the Klienstock brother's muttered and Rogue gasped as he was pinned by a piece of metal against the jet.

"Perhaps, I should leave you here to fend for yourself," Magneto replied, and Rogue shivered at the ferocity of his voice. There was a loud explosion, and Rogue turned, watching the FoH 's headquarters explode. "On the plane!" Magneto ordered, and Rogue followed the others, smiling at the destruction and screams occurring below.

Her smile faltered as she thought of the mansion and hoped they didn't arrive too late. She bit her lip, settling into one of the seats and reminded herself that she needed to be strong, or at least put up a strong front. Her team would be looking at her for how to behave. She looked around the aircraft, noting Skids' and Scanner's worried expressions. Rogue unbuckled her seatbelt and walked to the front of the plane.

"We should call ahead. The X-Men will attack us if they don't know we're coming," Rogue said, her gaze focused on Magneto. "They have procedures in case you were to show up at the mansion."

He looked down at her and she shivered at the intensity of his gaze, unconsciously taking a step back, images of the Statue of Liberty flashing in front of her. He raised an eyebrow and she shook her head, clearing it. "It'd be better to focus our attack on the FoH than warding off the X-Men," she continued, flashing him a brief smile.

"Call ahead," Magneto instructed Delgado and Rogue turned towards the larger man, tensing when the only reply they received was static.

The jet began to descend and Rogue's eyes widened in horror at the mayhem occurring below. "Protect the students," Magneto demanded, forcing open the door as he exited, the others following closely behind.

Screams erupted from various parts of the grounds followed by gunfire. Rogue ran forward, ignoring Mystique's cry for her to wait. She rounded upon a group of FoH members, shooting more rounds than was necessary into them, wiping hot tears from her eyes as she spotted two of the younger mutants on the ground a few feet ahead. Both of them were dead.

She used everything Mystique had ever taught her to make her way through the carnage, killing any member of the group that she came across. Her hatred for them grew with every body she discovered, seeing the horror on the student's lifeless faces. Someone has to be alive.

She rounded a corner, firing off several shots, pleased with each body that fell, desperately trying not to think of the men's families. If they cared about their families they wouldn't have come here.


She whirled around at the sound of her name, lowering her gun as Magneto approached. "They are dead." He removed the gun from her hand and she was torn between remaining strong and curling up against him.

"Were there any…?"

"Skids and Scanner found a handful of students secured in the Danger Room," Magneto informed her.

"That's where they were supposed to go," she whispered, harshly wiping away tears. "The sewer system was compromised a few months ago." She shook her head, looking back at the various students' bodies. "Where are the teachers? It's just the kids out here."

Rogue looked up at the sound of an aircraft approaching and watched as pipes were ripped from the side of the house. They dropped to the ground as soon as the X-jet came into view. The plane landed a few feet away and the X-Men exited. Rogue had a feeling their looks of devastation mirrored her own.

"Oh goddess…" Storm said, and Rogue watched as Kitty fell to the ground, throwing up in the bloodstained grass.

"Where were you?" Rogue screamed, furious with them for leaving the mansion unprotected.

Bobby shook his head as he knelt down beside Kitty. Nightcrawler began whispering a prayer, hands clutching his rosary to his chest. There is no god here. Rogue forced herself to look away under his unwavering gaze.

"We…we were at a press conference…because of the recent bombings…" Storm replied, looking ghastly. The others that exited the plane didn't look much better.

"Bombings?" Rogue looked at Magneto.

"Pyro's team," he stated, crossing his arms.

Rogue looked across the grounds, fists clenching in anger. "They knew you would be gone and attacked when you were most vulnerable."

Bobby shook his head and helped Kitty stand. "But how did they know where we live?"

"It would not be difficult to hack into the Registration's files." Mystique stated, and Rogue gave the woman a sidelong glance, noting the rest of her team was flanking behind them, the surviving students huddled closely together.

Storm looked pale. "The students placed this as their address. Oh goddess..."

"You are no longer safe here," Magneto stated, and Rogue turned her attention towards him. She doubted anyone else noted the tension in his stance.

"We're fine, bub," Logan growled, crossing his arms.

"Fine?" Rogue asked, incredulously. "They"--she pointed to the dead bodies on the ground--"ain't fine."

Logan looked at her and she flinched at the flash of hurt and betrayal in his eyes. "What are you going to do? Wait for the next wave of attack?" Mystique asked.

There was silence for a few moments before a barrage of questions started from the surviving students, their voices hysterical.

"Are they coming back?"

"They want to kill us!"

"I don't want to die."

"You do not have to," Magneto stated and rose into the air. "I shall grant safe haven to all those who choose to join us."

"We don't need you," Logan answered, and Rogue watched as the X-Men moved towards the students, faltering as Logan gave her a piercing glare. "We take care of our own."

"Oh yes, you've all done a remarkable job so far," Mystique replied, snarling.

Rogue turned and looked at the students, frowning at their scared faces. "We are leaving," Magneto stated, moving towards the jet. Rogue shook her head at the wreckage and followed him, stopping when he turned back towards the X-Men. "This is what humanity has in store for us. Choose your side soon, X-Men. The war is upon us."

"Destroying the registration facilities was not the answer," Storm yelled, the air crackling around her. "All you have done is create more hatred."

"That act was born from hatred," Magneto replied.

"It was born from fear!" Bobby said, shaking his head. "Fear because of mutants like you!"

"Those who hate us do not discriminate between good and bad mutants, Iceman," Magneto stated, and Rogue didn't think he'd ever looked more fearsome. "They hate us because of what we are. Nothing will change that."

"We will," Kitty protested. "We can. If we work together, if we work with them…"

"You're endeavors will end in nothing more than travesties such as this. They will return."

Rogue watched as a few students pulled away from the others. "They're gonna come back?"


"Ms. Monroe…"

"I don't want to die."

Rogue watched the students waiting for them to walk away from the X-men, to join the rest of the Brotherhood on the jet. But they didn't. They merely stepped back closer to the X-Men. She shook her head, unable to understand how they could stay.

"How can you leave with him?" Bobby yelled, his face contorted in rage. "He tried to kill you! He did kill you!"

"He wants to save us all," she replied, wishing they would understand.

"He's a madman," Bobby protested, shaking his head. "He's changed you."

"Come, Rogue," Magneto said, placing his hand on her shoulder and she looked at him, startled by the tenderness in his gaze. "They do not understand. They never will."

She nodded and followed him onto the jet, biting back tears as the doors shut and they set off for the base. The ride home continued in silence, exhaustion showing on most of their faces. Rogue was pleased that she was not in charge of the students when they landed. She needed to get the blood off of her, to scrub her skin until she felt clean. She dismissed her team and headed towards her bedroom, ignoring Mystique's concerned look.

She stripped as soon as she entered, tossing her clothes towards the hamper, wondering if the blood would ever come out. She stepped under the hot spray of the shower, crying out at how hot it was as she shut her eyes. Tears fell down her face as she slid down the shower wall, seeing the faces of kids she had known, unable to understand why the X-Men continued to deny what was happening. She grasped the washcloth and scrubbed her skin, trying to get the blood off. I Fools. They were all fools /I . She couldn't grasp why none of them had left, why they were still unable to see what was happening in front of them. This was a war and they were sitting targets, the whole damn school was and there was nothing she could do about it. They would most likely perish because they didn't want to admit Magneto was right. I Stubborn fools. /I

She heard the door open but didn't look up, dropping the cloth onto the floor. "They…they mean to kill us all," she whispered, shivering as the water was turned off. She looked up, trying to smile as Magneto handed her a towel and failed miserably.

She stood up, letting him wrap it around her and she started trembling, hands grasping his uniform. "If…if the machine worked…if it'd mutate them all...I would step into it right now…"

Rogue wasn't sure what kind of response she was expecting but it definitely wasn't his lips crushing down onto hers and him pressing her against the wall. She began to feel dizzy as her power started tugging at him, gasping for breath as he pulled away, roughly kissing her neck. "Careful…" she murmured, knowing she was draining him as the metal beginning to sing.


She groaned as he lifted her, her legs wrapping around his waist as he walked them back into the room, dropping her onto the bed. She groaned as he pulled the towel from her body, his gloved hands sliding over her hypersensitive skin. She arched under his touch, fingers digging into his shoulders, begging him to be harder, rougher. She ground herself against him, murmuring incoherently as he pushed her down, hearing the sound of foil rip before he thrust into her.

She met his every stroke, thankful when his lips pressed hungrily against hers again. His thoughts and power seeped into her, her awareness of the metal surrounding them adding to her sensory overload. Her fingers raked over his shoulders and she tossed her head back, crying out as she broke, hearing him in her head—my brave, beautiful soldier.

His teeth sank into her neck and she groaned as he found release, falling on top of her for a few moments. He pulled away and she stared at the ceiling, trying to control her breathing, gasping as his fingers trailed along her arm. She turned towards him, moving so that she was curled up by his side and sighed as his fingers caressed her hair.

"How can they be so blind?" Rogue asked, thinking of the X-Men.

"They do not wish to see the inevitable. It is easier to disregard what is happening around them."

Rogue nodded, her mind overloaded with questions. "Sleep, Rogue," he told her, and she closed her eyes, smiling as he pulled the sheet over them. "We will deal with the aftermath in the morning."