Thank you again for the reviews and for anyone who's added this to their alert list. I try not to go longer than a week without updating but hey, if I did update more it would just mean the story would be over sooner...
Pyro's new Brotherhood were grouped around a long table: Juggernaut, Blob, Avalanche, Scalphunter, Vertigo and Abraham Kieros, who had once been Apocalypse's Horseman of War.
"What we've got to do now,"Pyro told them,"is think big. I was taught by Magneto, I know the way these things work. You need a big statement if you're going to attract people's attention."
"So what are you planning to do?"Blob asked. "Set off a load of nuclear missiles?"
Pyro gave him a superior smile. "Not big enough."
"And not fun enough,"Juggernaut added. "When do I get to hit someone?"
Kieros rolled his eyes. "This is your superior team?"
"They're mutants,"Pyro snapped. "If they're mutants, they're superior. It's just some mutants have a hard time understanding that."
"That's why some mutants are more superior than others,"Scalphunter commented.
Pyro smiled at him. "Now we're talking the same language."
"Perhaps you could offer a translation for those of us hard of understanding?"a new voice asked.
Everyone turned towards the doorway. A large black man, his hair tied back in dreadlocks, wearing a red shirt and combat trousers, was standing there. Pyro sneered at him. "And who might you be?"
"Bishop." The newcomer walked to the other end of the table, staring across it at Pyro, with the other members of the Brotherhood standing down the sides of the table. "I think you need a few lessons in correct ideology."
"And what exactly is your ideology?"
"That a mutant criminal is still a criminal."
Pyro laughed. "I like this guy. He's very funny. Avalanche, show him exactly what criminals we are."
Avalanche used his mutant powers to desintegrate inanimate objects to turn the surface of the floor into a tidal wave of moving matter, knocking Bishop off his feet. He came up into a crouch. "Thank you very much,"he noted and then sent a blast of energy at Avalanche, knocking him back into a wall.
Vertigo aimed her powers at him as well, affecting his balance. Bishop lowered his head, concentrated, and then looked up, sending a blast in her direction. "Anything you send at me, I can just absorb and reflect back at you,"he explained. "And note, I'm only using a fraction of what I could."
War clapped his hands together and explosions rippled across the floor around Bishop. Pyro generated a ball of flame and hurled it at their opponent, who dived out of the way. "Now isn't that interesting,"Pyro remarked. "Energy-based attacks you can absorb but anything cruder you can't handle. Now who's the crudest here?" He smiled maliciously. "Finish it, boys."
Blob and Juggernaut went running at Bishop, hitting him from either side with bone-crushing force. Bishop crumpled to the ground.
"Everyone having fun now?"Pyro asked. There were murmurs of assent from the Brotherhood. He threw a jacket over his shoulder. "I think it's time we found a better class of place to hang out."
Bobby sat down next to Rogue on the couch. "Are we okay?"
Rogue shot him a sideways glance. "I think we have to be."
"I'm sorry about ordering you about. I guess being left in charge got to me a bit."
"It wasn't just that."
Bobby sighed. "I know you might not want to hear this but…I wanted to look after you."
Rogue took his hand and placed it over her extremely swollen stomach. "Well, I guess we need you to look after us." She focused on the feel of his hand in hers. They'd done a lot more than hold hands, of course, as her current condition proved, yet she still remembered a time when even that was an impossible dream.
Bobby was about to say something when Professor X's voice came over the intercom. "All X-Men please report to my office immediately."
Bobby got to his feet but kept hold of Rogue's hand. "Are you coming?"
She smiled and let him help her to her feet.
Professor X waited until the entire group had assembled in his office: Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, Rogue, Gambit, Colossus, Kitty, Angel, Siryn and Jubilee. "It appears our co-operation with the authorities is starting to bear fruit,"he observed. "They have provided us with some intelligence."
"Anything we need to worry about?"Storm asked.
"Perhaps. There has been report of a battle in Richmond." He paused dramatically. "The combatants were mutants."
"Do we know who?"Gambit asked.
"The Marauders?"Jubilee ventured.
"It's possible,"the professor continued. "None of the combatants were sighted. But there is another possibility. Other powers were indicated by the evidence at the scene. Including the ability to control fire."
There was a moment's silence. "John?"Bobby asked quietly.
"Does that mean the Brotherhood are involved?"Rogue asked.
"Pyro seemed to take over what was left of them after Magneto died,"Kitty agreed.
Angel looked confused. "Are we saying the Marauders were fighting the Brotherhood?"
"And if they are,"Siryn continued,"what do we do?"
"Sell tickets?"Wolverine suggested.
"Containment,"Colossus said simply.
Xavier nodded. "Peter is right. Our priority has to be the preservation of innocent lives. And even not so innocent lives. An all-out war between mutants is the last thing the world needs at the moment."
Even as Xavier spoke, another figure sat in a dank basement, listening to a radio report. "No firm identification has been made of those involved in the incident but it is known that law enforcement agencies are investigating several known mutant terrorist groups in connection with the incident…"
The figure reached over and turned off the radio. "And they will achieve nothing,"he said quietly. "The strong will always defeat the weak. Unless the strong choose to protect them. By whatever means are necessary."
He got up from his seat, went to a locker and pulled out a large combat gun, strapping it over his shoulder. Cable breathed in the air for a moment, preparing himself, before heading up the stairs.