Legend: Thoughts = <>
Stray thoughts = ()
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Ok, guys, all the disclaimers apply, that means all thanks goes to Marvel
For the X-Men, I'm just making the story. And I do read all the other
Stories and they're great, keep up the good work. They inspire me!
"We need a way I can regain my powers." I said, "Any thoughts."
"Forge could rebuild the machine." Perry said.
"No, my powers are null and void." I frowned.
"Have you thought about your other powers?" Scott asked.
"What other powers?" I asked.
"Your mystical abilities." Hank said quickly, "By stars, I had almost forgotten."
"I did forget." Bobby said.
"Okay X-Men," I said, "We need more productive ideas."
"I think your best bet would be to make with the magics, sugah." Rogue frowned.
"I agree. With this `Mega' on the loose." Emma added.
"Yeah, he's playing King of the Hill with the world." Kitty said.
"I plan on pushing him off the hill ASAP." Scott said, "I'm sorry, but Pane, with all the powers he has the only person, still living, that can rival him is you."
"Well, we're playing without me." I frowned.
"Look, if he says he can't do it..." Richard said, smiling at me, "Leave him alone."
"The world is in danger!" Scott said, standing, "As much as I don't want to see you go down the same road twice..."
"...You're packing me up for the long walk." I said.
"If the X-Men can't shut him down then we're screwed." Wolverine scowled.
"There are other teams." Connor said.
"But with Cap's latest...coup? Coup. Well, with his latest coup, the teams aren't even in play." Raiden said quickly.
"Avengers are out." I said.
"What about the F4?" Max asked.
"They're split too." Scott frowned.
"Spider-Man, Deadpool, Hell, I don't care! But I'm not sure it can be me." I said, walking away.
"You don't have to, you know." Richard said, "I don't know that part of you. And from what I hear, I don't want to see it. But if it's the only way..."
"I'm a different person entirely." I said, "Think Superman without the kryptonite."
"You're really strong." Richard said.
"I am." I said, "When I'm in that zone I'm unstoppable."
Richard grabbed my hand, "I'll always be here to take you down a notch." He smiled.
"Comforting." I said quickly, "But I don't know how I'd even go about getting my powers back. Not without a major miracle."
"You'll find some way. You're a smart guy." Richard smiled.
"Promise me something." I asked.
"Anything." Richard said quickly.
"Go into hiding. Leave here and don't look back." I said quickly.
"I know you want to be here and you being here means the world to me, but you have to go." I said, "If I don't make it, you've got to be safe. I can't be worried about you."
Richard nodded, "If it'll help..." he said begrudgingly.
As he turned and walked away, I grabbed him and kissed him passionately.
"Are you sure this is the time?" Richard asked, looking around.
I walked over and locked the door, "It is." I said, kissing him again.
"You want me to do what?" Perry asked.
I sighed, "I want you to take him somewhere safe." I explained, "You're the only one that can protect him."
"Do this!" I said, tears forming behind my eyes, "You have to do this for me Perry! I'm more than asking." I looked down and away, "If we don't take Mega down then we're going to need some way of...of...of stopping him."
"I would do anything for you, dad." Perry said, hugging me.
I sniffled, "Any advice?" I chuckled.
"He's going to come at you with everything he's got," Perry sighed, "So, give it to him."
"We should get gone." Perry said, walking away, "Be careful dad."
"You too." I smiled.
I sat, legs crossed, my eyes closed. I was meditating, trying to separate my astral self from my body. I rolled my neck and opened my eyes to see Doctor Strange.
"Wassup, Doc." I said, standing.
"You called me here." Doctor Strange said, "I've heard of your upcoming battle."
"It's the end of days, padre." I said, "I need to know how to get my powers back."
Doctor Strange looked at me awkwardly, "Once the Hollow is bonded with you, it cannot be removed." He explained, "It is always within you."
I looked at him, my face filled with confusion.
"You've never been completely powerless. The power within you slumbers, waiting for the opportunity to unleash itself. It..."
"So, there's not a magical orb of Methusala that can speed this process? I'm running out of time." I asked.
"It shall come to pass when it is meant to." Doctor Strange said, "I suggest you look deep within yourself."
I looked at him, "You think I'm not trying? I'm meditating so much that I'm about to levitate." I said.
"Look deeper." Doctor Strange said, "I must go. I fear something dire may happen to Captain America."
"Is he okay?" I asked.
"Your concern is rightly placed, but do not worry. This will all be over soon."
"Who wins?" I asked.
"I do not know." Doctor Strange said, disappearing.
I sighed and put my hands on my hips.
"Perry and Rich just left." Raiden said at the door.
I turned to her, "Yeah, I sent them away." I said.
Raiden didn't say anything, she just nodded.
"This feels different. This feels like an end." I smiled.
"It could be." Raiden said, looking around, "We are underground and all."
"What if I can't accept the power? What if I can't make it come out?!" I panicked.
Raiden frowned, "You always say that! And we always come out on top...well, sorta. Last time, I kinda got stabbed, but you know." She smiled.
"Aren't you scared?" I asked.
"Mega is scary as hell, but I've seen you. If I were a bad guy, and I kinda was, I'd be quaking in my cute little pumps." Raiden chuckled.
"At least I got to do it one last time." I smiled.
"You did it?! With Rich?! Details! Is he...was he...he was great, right?!" Raiden gushed.
"Ewww." Connor said, standing at the door, "This guy's going to take over the world and you got nookie?"
"I think we need something big." I said, "Something...monumental."
"Like what?" Connor asked.
"Something that'll kill a whole lot of soldiers?"
"We're going to kill soldiers?" Raiden asked.
"We're not killing soldiers." Connor said, "We're just going to injure them very thoroughly."
"I think I have an idea on how to get my powers back." I said, "Excuse me."
"We have weapons!" Connor yelled after me. He then looked to Raiden and smiled, "Raid, how are you feeling, baby?"
"Good." Raiden said cooly.
"Is something wrong?" Connor asked.
"I just got a lot on my mind." Raiden said.
"You just changed. You were all bubbly with Pane and now..."
"Now you're sleeping with Melissa." Raiden frowned.
Connor looked confused for a second, then his face grew solemn.
"I knew it. God, I knew it!" Raiden said, slapping Connor.
"I deserved that." Connor said.
"You deserve to be castrated." Raiden frowned.
"Raiden...We just kissed." he said, reaching out to her. She recoiled, "I'm sorry."
"Me too." Raiden said sadly.
"We save the world...then what?" Connor asked.
"Then we go on living our lives...separate." Raiden said, leaving.
"So, this could work?" I asked.
"Yes." Scott said, "It could really work. How'd you come up with it?"
"Perry." I said quickly.
Scott nodded, "But you have to get close enough to him for this to work. Are you sure you're alright with that?" he asked.
"Don't really have a choice." I said, "Plus there's one more thing we're not accounting for. I need my powers back now."
"I have an idea for that. I'm going to need a safe place for my body while I project." I explained.
"No better place than this." Scott smiled.
I smiled, "I'm going immediately." I said walking away.
"His body looks lifeless." Connor said, staring at Pane's still body.
"He almost seems unreal." Melissa said, "Unbelievable."
"What?" Max asked.
"That he's so full of power! I mean, he's like, what, nineteen. Not even twenty one." Melissa said.
"We're all kind of young for this." Raiden said quickly.
"Are we sure he's safe?" Melissa asked.
"The X-Men are topside, keeping watch." Connor said, "I think we're safe, for now."
Suddenly, the iron door burst open and a gust of wind blew through the air! The group was taken off its feet and as they looked up to see what was going on, they saw him.
"Hello, family." Mega smiled.
In Pane's mind...
I looked around at the beautiful flowers and tall trees, the butterflies and other animals. It was all beautiful, so different from the last time I was there. I walked over to the deer, who seemed to wait for me. I bent down and gently stroked his fur. He almost smiled. Suddenly, blood sprayed all over me as the deer was ripped in two. I looked up to see the Dark version of me standing before me, the pieces of the deer still in his hands.
"Which piece do you wish?" he asked.
I stood, wiping blood from my face, "What the Hell!" I said loudly.
"You've come for me." He said, stone-faced, "You want me to save you, once again."
"I need my power." I said.
"You have forsaken it. You gave us up without a second thought and now you concede?" He asked angrily.
"I'm sorry." I said, "I just don't want to be a monster."
"You never were." He said, "You were always the part that kept us human."
I looked at him, trying to decipher what he was saying, "If I were to merge with you...would I be...could I be happy? Or would I die alone? Or not at all."
"It's your power." He said, "It's our power, it was meant for us."
"Blah blah blah, yeah I got that, but will I change? Will I be...not me?" I asked.
"No," he said, disappearing. Before I could look, he was behind me, whispering in my ear, "We'll be much better."
"Doesn't matter, I've already made my choice." I said.
"Do you know how much power you wield? How much power you could be corrupted by?" he asked.
I thought about it, "I can't think about that now. If it was truly meant to be, then I will be able to handle it." I frowned.
He smirked, "Good." He said, putting his hand on my chest and causing a mini explosion!
"So, you're going to kill us and add us to your skin collection?" Raiden asked.
Mega ignored her.
"Hey, Mega man, the woman asked you a question." Melissa said quickly, "Where are we?"
"We're at the top of the highest building." Olivia sung, "It's so pretty up here, with all the stars and the whispers..."
"Crazy hag." Connor frowned.
Olivia grabbed Raiden by the chin and held a knife to her throat, "Watch the mouth, pretty boy! I would just love to scrape her eyes out...very slowly." She giggled.
"You're insane." Raiden spat.
"I'm beautiful." Olivia smirked, "I am..."
"Getting on my nerves," Mega said, still at the computer, "Perhaps you can stop this incessant blathering."
"Saw-ry." Olivia said casually, "Excuse a girl for havin a little fun."
"When Pane wakes up..." Melissa began.
Mega chuckled, "Then, and only then, I will kill him." He said, "Pity, he was such a wonder."
"Yeah," Olivia said, walking over and straddling his chest, "He's a real looker, too."
"I'm about to take over the world and remake it in my image." Mega said triumphantly, "And there's not one person that can stop me."
The room went silent.
"See, the world is finally mine." Mega smiled, pressing a lone button, "And there it is."
There was the sound of a body thumping to the floor and Mega turned.
"I'm thinking I might need a bad boy on my team. You know, somebody who doesn't give a damn who gets hurt." I said, dusting myself off, "Cause this needs to be finished once and for all."
"You." Mega said calmly, as if I was no threat at all. For a minute, he just stared, "Something is different."
I looked myself over, "Yeah, I think I might be a little taller." I said quickly.
"Pane!" Raiden said, causing me to look to her.
"I don't get your plan. I don't really care." I said, looking at him, "Alls I know is that I'm going to kick your ass all over this city."
"What?" I asked.
"Watch out!" Connor yelled.
Sabretooth grabbed me from behind! His nails dug into my sides and I yelped in pain! Connor and Max struggled to free themselves from their bonds, but they couldn't. I closed my eyes and threw my head back into his! He growled and then raised his claws into the air, I threw my hand in his direction and was blasted backwards! I turned to see Mega hopping from the roof to the next. I ran over to Connor and freed him.
"Free the others." I ordered.
Connor grabbed my shoulder, "You can't take him alone." He said.
"It's okay, I've been training." I said, "Besides, you've gotta undo whatever he did before he really does rule the world."
"Be careful." Connor said.
I nodded, running to the edge of the roof and looked down. I was afraid. Not of the fall, but of fighting Mega. He owned me and even though I'd been training, I was nowhere near ready. I took a deep breath and stepped back. I took off at a sprint and jumped off the edge! It seemed to take forever to hit the other side and when I did, I rolled onto my back. I was kneeled, trying to catch my breath when something grabbed me and threw me into the concrete wall!
"Behold, the end of all mutants." Mega smiled, "The end of everything, as you know it."
I coughed a little, "That kind of hurt." I frowned.
"Just wait." Mega smirked.
"Gonna fight me or you just gonna stand there?" I asked.
"I've wondered what this moment would be like. What you'd do, what you'd say..."
"Blow me, dickhead." I sneered.
I stood on the rooftop, my fists ready. Mega seemed to be sizing me up. This was the first time we'd been ready for each other. We walked around, circling each other. There was a quick burst of lightning, which didn't deter either of us. I watched him as he disintegrated into dust and a swirling dust storm took me over and lifted me off the ground, sending me crashing through the wall of the stairway! I rolled onto my side and tried to stand, but I felt a hand reach over and grab me, throwing me across the divide of the building to an unfinished building. I rolled over and grabbed something big and iron and waited. The unfinished wall let the cool air rush in, past me. That's when I thought about it. There wasn't any wind. I looked back in time to see a fist rushing at my face! I ducked so quick that it couldn't have been my reflexes and jumped into the air, hovering for a second and kicking him in rapid succession! He stumbled backwards, but shook it off. As I landed, I ducked a kick and blocked a punch and bent backwards to avoid another kick! While I was bent over, he brought his foot down into my stomach and made me drop to the ground! I rolled over quickly, trying to find something to hit him with. I brought my foot into the air and he caught it and hurled me back into the wall. I coughed a little, no blood, so I'm good. He was now running towards me and I quickly grab a metal pipe, hitting him so hard, he flips back! I cracked my neck and took steps toward him.
"Why do you want to save them?" Mega asked, "From the day you found out you were different, you've been persecuted! You've been ripped in half by duty and a calling that never really was."
I grabbed his arm as he tried to hit me and brought his face down to my knee, ramming him a few times, "Come on, Did you really think it'd be that easy? You'd just get inside my head and I'd be thrown off? World's going to Hell, Big Daddy mojo, and I for one am going to fight until the end. My friend just ripped his mask off on tv so I'm not really..." I stopped, "You're stalling me."
"Just long enough to be able to do this!" he said, raising his hands and causing me to blast backwards! He stood up, "You've learned some new moves...Well, so have I."
I stood. I finally felt what my power felt like and it more than stung like a bitch. I raised my hand and blasted him backwards in the same fashion he did me. He stood.
"Well, well, and I thought we were even." Mega smirked.
We threw our hands up at the same time and an explosion filled the air, bigger than anything I ever did and it rocked us off our feet! I rolled over onto my stomach, gasping for air. I rolled over once I saw a bright light and saw Mega hovering.
"I've waited for this for so long. To finally meet you in combat. To finally absorb your powers. You must be getting weak." Mega said, amazement in his eyes, "I've never been able to savor it. Tell me, how does it feel?" he said, bending down and taking my face in his hands.
"I think he wants you to bathe..." Mega looked up to find a fist coming at his face! It was Connor's fist that sent him hurling through the air, "...Are you okay?"
I stood, "I'm good." I said quickly, "What're you doing here, I thought you and Raid..."
"She's on it. She's got an idea." Connor said, motioning for me to look to the direct left of us.
On the roof across the way, Max stood with a Rocket Launcher. Mega put his hands on Connor, who glowed and gasped for air. I grabbed the hand and cracked it, causing him to pull away. Connor fell to the ground, lifeless. I looked to Mega, who grabbed my head and turned away from the body.
"I wonder if your head can go all the way around." Mega smirked.
"I wonder can you stop...a...rocket." I said, kicking him in the stomach and dropping to protect myself!
Mega turned in time and grabbed the rocket from the air. He stood for a minute, rocket in his hand, and threw it back the way it came. There were more people on that roof and they scattered as the rocket bombed them and fires spread over the rooftop!
"Oh no." I said quickly.
"Oh yes." Mega said, running at me. On impact, something strange happened and I felt very nauseous!
I hit the ground with a thud and Mega landed a few feet away. I looked up and all I saw was metal and electricity buzzing around me. Mega was up before I could think and stood on top of me.
"Now to finish the job." Mega said, breathlessly.
He put his hand to my chest and I closed my eyes. I felt something pulling me and for a second, a brief second, I gave into it. I let the power flow from me.
Perry: Give it to him...
My eyes popped open quickly and I reached up for anything, trying to grasp any electrical wire I could! I finally grabbed one and felt an excruciating pain throughout my body. Mega looked to be getting juiced by it and I found myself smiling. For a minute, he sizzled and buzzed before being blow off of me and I let the wires go. I rolled over, still gasping for air.
"This isn't over." Mega said, his breath labored.
"You're right." I said, my brain cells fried and my body electric. I could feel it. I felt like I'd been in a fight to the death and I had lost. I wasn't sure how I was still alive, but I was grateful.
Mega walked over and grabbed my chest again.
"Take it!" I said, causing us both to hover into the air! Mega and I hovered and glowed and it was glorious. I felt all his powers pass through me, his memories, his...total lack of humanity. I was blinded by the light, so blinded that I failed to see his demise! He was blasted into pieces in front of me. I took a deep breath and sighed to myself before falling over.
"Hello, Lover." My voice said.
I chuckled, "You again?" I said, my face in the dirt.
"Look at you, all man-sized! You beat him without me...or did you?" My voice continued, "Months of being locked in your mind with nothing to do but watch you and your pathetic friends flounder in your own ignorance and you haven't even began to face a challenge." There was the sound of footsteps and the breath on my ear, "You think you know who you are? Where we're going? You have no idea."
I stood at the stone, staring deep into the ground. Rocky's grave was now fresh and his pieces had been fit into a neat little stack inside the grave. The world washed away into a very dark place. Captain America was dead, The world was more afraid than ever, and for once I wasn't letting the darkness bring me down. I embraced it. I figured out that it was okay to have a dark side, we were living in dark times. Everyone had a dark side.
"I'm sorry about your friend." Scott's voice said behind me.
I smiled and turned, "Always..." I stopped when I saw that he was with Emma, "Oh, hi Scott...and Emma."
It was then that I realized that Scott had always come back to find me after the big events in my life, to encourage me, to bring me back into the world and now he wasn't alone and neither was I.
"Are you okay? You seem to be smiling." Emma said.
"I'm doing great." I smiled, "I wish I could stick around, but there's somewhere I have to be." I said, walking away.
At the office...In the back room...
Connor had his stuff packed and ready to go, but something deep in the pit of his stomach told him that he shouldn't leave. The tension around the office was...it was tangible. Max sat outside with Melissa, who seemed more ashamed of herself now. Raiden stood in the doorway watching all of this. She couldn't help feel miserable. Her life was shaking, about to collapse and so was her body. The only question she could ask was...
"Why?" Raiden asked, "I gave you everything. I gave you all the love that I could."
"I know." Connor said, "It was just...I was stressed and I didn't want to hurt you."
"Your plan worked. You devastated me." Raiden said sadly.
"And I'm sorry. I just hope..."
"I can't forgive you yet." Raiden frowned.
"I know." He said, finishing zipping up his bag, "I've got to go. The X-Men are putting me up in a motel until they get us some work."
"I wish this was just a weird nightmare." Raiden said, "I wish that I could beg you to stay here and...and...but I just can't." she said, sobbing now.
"Wish I was a better guy, for you." Connor said, kissing her on the forehead and leaving.
Raiden slammed the door and went over to the bed, becoming invisible as she jumped on the bed, face first! Raiden felt as if she was dying, as if she wasn't even there and soon, she wasn't.
In a Graveyard...
I laid flowers down on Captain America's grave. It was...Unbelievable. I won the battle, a battle, but the war was far from over. Mega is dead, but so is Captain America.
I turned to see Richard standing off with Perry. I turned and walked to him. I smiled, brushing away my feeling of dread. There was something I had to say to him.
Richard hugged me, "I love you so much, are you okay?" he pulled back and looked into my eyes. He pressed his lips against mine and a tingle shot through my entire body, "I didn't know if you were dead or..."
"You have to go away." I said quickly.
"What?" Richard asked.
"I'm different, I can feel it." I said, "And you have to stay as far away from me as possible. I could hurt you."
Richard looked at me, contemplating something, "I could hurt you too." He said, "But I won't. And you won't."
"How can you know that?" I asked.
"Look at our son," Richard said, causing me to look at Perry, "That's how I know."
I smiled and nodded.
I recoiled, "Saywhatnow?"