I wrote this years ago, shortly after I watched The Last Stand. I wanted to call it either X-Men IV or X4 but I thought that would be a bit presumptuous so I gave it a random subtitle. All thoughts welcome.


CHAPTER 1

Egypt. The very near future.

Professor Langford could feel the excitement rising inside him with every step he took. He just wished the rest of his party would share it. His colleague, Professor Johnston, was over ten years younger than him, forty-three to his fifty-six, and something of a sceptic to his ideas. The rest of the party were locals, a stipulation of the Egyptian government's agreement to their expedition. It hadn't been hard to find a few able-bodied men willing to accept the wages they could offer and they'd certainly been useful for the heavy-lifting but enthusiasm for the trip was in short supply.

Langford shone his torch around the corridor. He could pick out the pyramid walls and the area a few feet in front of him but anything more than that was blackness. He just hoped the battery didn't run out. Even though he'd brought some spares along, attempting to change them in near pitch black would be a difficult task.

"According to my research, the burial chamber should be around the next corner,"he announced.

Johnston's expression failed to change. "It seems strange that no-one has seen it before,"she remarked.

Langford shot her a sideways look, sensing criticism. "What do you mean?"

"Professor Langford, this pyramid has been thoroughly examined on several occasions. No burial chamber has ever been found."

Langford had heard the opinion before. "And you don't think that in itself is strange?"

"There are still many mysteries about the pyramids. We don't know why this one was put here."

"Professor Johnston, I have studied the ancient texts. All of them agree that a man was buried here, a dangerous man who tried to lead an uprising against the Pharoah."

"But, Professor, there has been no corroborative evidence…" Whatever argument Johnston was about to put forward seemed to be rendered redundant as they rounded the corner Langford had indicated, only to be confronted by a blank wall. "There you are, you see? Nothing.

"Wait." Langford stepped forward and examined the wall. "Our ancient ancestors were more ingenious than we sometimes give them credit for. They could hide things very well when they wanted to." He scanned the wall, hoping for some sign that he was right. He began touching the stones… and two of them moved in his hand, sliding back into the wall.

As if it was suddenly a door, the wall swung open.

Langford and Johnston led the way into the chamber, the workers close behind them. They found themselves in a burial chamber full of treasures, hieroglypths on the walls, an upright sarcophagus at the far end. All of them looked around in wonder.

"No-one can have set foot here in 5,000 years,"Johnston breathed.

Langford looked at her triumphantly. "You see? You see the importance of this discovery? A find unparalleled in archeological history. Even Howard Carter himself did not make the contribution to Egyptology which we have just made."

Johnston walked over to the sarcophagus, examining it with curiosity. "This seems somewhat ornate for a failed revolutionary."

"Let's see, shall we?" Langford turned his attention to the walls, examining the hieroglyphs. "According to these, the tomb dates back to the time of Pharoah Rama-Tut. It contains an evil man, a… a demon, who was buried alive to contain his evil."

"Can we get it open?"Johnston asked.

"I think so, yes." Langford turned round to address the workers. "You men…"

But when he turned round, he saw the workers hadn't followed them into the room. Instead, they were hanging back in the doorway, looked as though they wanted to be somewhere else. As if some superstition or instint or race memory told them this was a place best left alone.

Before Langford could think any more about their behaviour, Johnston spoke. "I don't think it will be very difficult, Professor Langford. This seems to have worn away with age. Look."

Langford instantly forgot the workers' behaviour in his eagerness to see inside the sarcophagus. Instead, he went to join Johnston. "Yes, I think you're right. Come on."

Together they placed their hands in the hinge of the sarcophagus and pulled. The cover swung open with surprising ease to reveal… something. Langford had a glimpse of blue metal, of a figure above average height for a man. And then two metallic arms shot out of the sarcophagus and grabbed him and Johnston by the throat. Langford only had a few second to think it might have been better to have been wrong. After that, neither he nor Johnston thought anything again.

The workers backed away in terror as the thing they had released emerged from the sarcophagus and advanced on them.


Gambit kept a close eye on his quarry. Silling was following the same route to his office that he always did, carefully picking his way through the rush hour pedestrians. Within seconds, he would be in Gambit's reach. With impeccable timing, Gambit stepped in front of Silling, blocking his way and forcing him to stop.

Silling took a step to the left and Gambit copied it so he was still standing in front of him, making the movement seem natural. He pushed past Silling and, as he did so, his hand slipped into the man's jacket pocket and extracted the wallet from it.

Gambit continued on his way, keeping his pace steady, looking like any other pedestrian heading towards an urgent appointment. Then he realised Silling wasn't doing the same. Instead, he was standing still, patting his pockets. His eyes fixed on Gambit, an accusing finger pointing in his direction as he shouted over to a police officer standing next to his parked car. "My wallet! He's stolen my wallet!"

Gambit ran, cursing himself for his ineptness. A simple job and now he was in danger of exposure. The officer drew his gun and pointed it at him. "Halt or I shoot!"

Gambit didn't halt. Instead, as he ran, he reached into his pocket and took out a playing card. He held it between his thumb and forefinger for a few seconds to charge it, then hurled it over his shoulder. It landed where he'd intended it to, about a foot in front of the officer. When it exploded, it did him no harm but the distraction was enough for Gambit to increase the distance between them.

Still keeping a close eye on Gambit, the officer took out his radio. "Suspect in robbery proceeding west along 62nd. White, dark hair, wearing brown jacket. Suspect is a mutant, highly dangerous."

Gambit saw the police car screech to a halt in front of him, the two officers inside getting out and aiming their guns at him. He saw the first officer still coming up behind him, blocking his retreat. He looked around for another escape route and made out an alleyway. But getting to it posed a problem at the moment. He reached into his pocket and took out another card.

"Drop it!" snapped one of the officers from the second car. Gambit let the card fall to the ground. The officer relaxed slightly, giving an approving nod. "Now, come over here. Nice and slow."

Slowly, Gambit began walking towards the car. Behind him, the playing card glowed with the energy he had charged it with. At the exact moment, he was level with the alley, it exploded. With the police officers momentarily distracted, Gambit dived down the alley… to find it ended in a brick wall. But that wasn't all.

In front of the wall were a man and a woman. The woman had dark skin and white hair. The man had blue skin and dark hair. Both of them wore black leather outfits with an X symbol on them.

Gambit looked behind him. The officers were at the entrance to the alleyway, about to follow him down. Then the woman waved an arm. A strong wind sprang up as if from nowhere, buffeting the officers. However hard they tried, they couldn't take a step into the alley.

Gambit smiled at the two newcomers. "Thank you for your help, my friends, but…"

The man suddenly gave a mischievous grin and wrapped his arms around Gambit in a bear hug. The woman wrapped her arms around both of them. And then Gambit was somewhere else.