With a groan, Rogue regains consciousness. Clutching her head, she casts a suspicious gaze across her surroundings. It’s immediately clear she is no longer at Bayville High. She is in what appears to be a room with no entrance or exit. The chrome walls are split with strands filled with a blue fluid that glows, casting an eerie light across the whole area. Looking down, Rogue is relieved to see that she is still wearing the same clothes she had chosen for prom. At least whoever was responsible for her current predicament hadn’t seen fit to change her while she was out.
A gust of wind hits her in the face, and Rogue realises she’s not alone. Zipping about, only just visible to the naked eye due to his speed, is an all too familiar figure. Pietro. Rogue remembers seeing him earlier that night, splitting his time between three different dates. She has to admit that he does clean up pretty well, pulling off his suit with a surprising amount of style. Banishing those thoughts from her head, Rogue sticks her foot out causing Pietro to careen to a stop to avoid tripping over. He turns to look at her in confusion, but she cuts in before he can speak.
“Pietro? Ah knew the brotherhood were scum, but ah didn’t think you were this bad. Kidnappin’ people’s a new low, even for you.”
Pietro snorts, waving his hand dismissively.
“You can drop the act. I know this is just some scheme of the Professor’s to try and force me to join your little kiddies’ club. I’m not going to fall for it though. I bet none of this is even real.”
A loud crackling noise seems to come from everywhere at once, halting their argument. There is an unpleasant screech of feedback, and then a voice echoes out.
“Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Mojoworld and spineless ones everywhere, welcome! It is I, your glorious ruler, the lovable lifebringer… Mojo!”
A screen appears, bearing the image of a truly horrific being. Sickly yellow skin pulses over a morbidly obese form crossed with wires and tubing. An impossibly wide grin splits its face, revealing a set of uncomfortably pointed teeth and tongue.
“Today, I present for your viewing pleasure the likes of which has never been seen before. Young love! Mutilation! Heartfelt confessions! Evisceration! First kisses! Brutal murder! X-men and brotherhood together! I present to you… A DATE WITH DEATH!”
The sound of riotous applause fills the room. Pietro cocks an eyebrow, jerking a thumb towards the screen.
“Know anything about big ugly?”
“Only that he’s gonna be in for a whole world’a pain when ah find him…”
Rogue cracks her knuckles. The being on the screen’s whole body seems to undulate as a scrapping sound emanates from it. It reminds Rogue of laughter, but the sound is so twisted that it is almost unrecognisable. Seemingly recovering its senses, the figure speaks again.
“Here we have a real tale of true love. He’s the speeding prodigal son who’s never fit in. She’s the mysterious loner who can never touch. They were practically made for one another! Behold…. Rogue and Quicksilver!”
From seemingly nowhere a spotlight falls on Rogue and Pietro. Pietro immediately races off trying to evade his spotlight. No matter how fast he moves, it remains perfectly centred on him. He quickly gives up, a scowl darkening his face.
“Will their love be strong enough to conquer all? Or will everything go to the hounds? Only one way to find out… release the warwolves!”
“Release the whatnow?”
With an ominous rumbling, an opening starts to form on the far wall. A blinding light on the other side forces both teens to shield their eyes. The soft clack of footsteps ring out, then the rumbling sounds again as the wall recloses. As the light is obscured once more and their vision returns, both Rogue and Pietro can only stare at the two creatures now trapped alongside them. They are undeniably alien, metallic skin coating a form somewhere between a man, a wolf and an amorphous blob. Their smooth bodies gleam even in the blue half-light. Noticing their expressions, one’s pointed muzzle splits into a sinister leer as it raises a clawed hand and beckons once.
“Oh man, we’re so screwed.”
“Ah hope the others are doin’ better…”
In another lot of the Mojo Productions Head Studio
Lance lazily swings from where he is suspended from the ceiling. An empty coil of thick wire hangs next to him, Kitty having long phased out of her bonds. She stands below, her back to Lance and arms crossed. Around her lie the sparking remains of a whole host of ‘deathbots’. Lance sighs before speaking again, his voice pleading.
“Come on Kitty, I said please! You gotta let me down.”
Kitty refuses to turn and face him as she replies.
“You’re perfectly safe up there, I took care of the robots didn’t I? If I were you I’d quit complaining. It’s only fair you learn how it feels to be left hanging.”
“Kitty, I’ve said I’m sorry! It wasn’t that bad, really…”
Kitty turns round to glare at Lance, pointing aggressively as she cuts him off.
“Wasn’t that bad? Wasn’t that bad? You used me Lance. I liked you, I trusted you, and yet you lied to me and tried to benefit from my powers. We could have both been expelled if it wasn’t for the Professor. I thought you were different from all the people who used to pick on me. Turns out I was right… you’re worse. At least they were honest to me.”
Lance falls into a stunned silence. Kitty turns her back to him once more.
“I hope the others are okay. The sooner I can get out of here and away from you the better.”
Rogue has to make a wild dive to the left to avoid a vicious slash from the nearest warwolf. A gust passes her by, almost knocking her off her feet. Pietro pauses a moment to sneer at her, words prickling with scorn.
“Of all the X-Men to be stuck with, it had to be you. Your power is useless unless you’ve got somebody to steal from.”
Springing to her feet, Rogue once again barely dodges the next warwolf assault. Through gritted teeth she hisses out.
“Ah don’t see you bein’ a great help. And anyways, luckily for us ah borrowed a little somethin’ for tonight just in case…”
With that she claps her hands together, releasing a flash of light. As the flash fades two Rogues, identical in every way, stand where one once stood. She repeats the gesture, splitting into four and then eight copies. Despite himself Pietro can’t help but be a little impressed.
“Okay, I’ll admit that makes you slightly less useless. What poor unlucky soul did you have to leech off to do this?”
Four Rogues try to pin down the warwolf. Two more duck and roll to escape its latest lunge, a third taking a hit in the chest and flying to collide with the wall whilst the final one turns to address Pietro.
“Ah didn’t hurt anybody. Jamie was more’n happy ta loan them.”
Earlier that day…
Rogue and Jamie stand together in the library. Rogue is all dressed up ready for Prom, but Jamie (being too young to attend) is stuck in casual clothes. Jamie seems to be considering something carefully, brow furrowed in thought.
“So, I’d just be asleep for the night?”
Rogue nods, a sheepish expression on her face.
“Yeah, ah can’t control it ah’m afraid.”
Jamie nods slowly.
“But if I do this, you’ll take care of my chores for a week? And get me that new Krisis Kombat game?”
“Yes, yes ah will. Ah know it’s a lot ta ask-“
Rogue is cut off by Jamie.
“I’ll do it! Anything to get out of dish duties with Professor Logan. Do you want to do it now or what?”
Pietro narrows his eyes, clearly not believing her. Before he can say another word the second warwolf barrels into him. Only his speed saves him from being smashed into the ground. As another of her duplicates is flung away into the wall, Rogue turns back to face her own opponent.
“Less talkin’, we got bigger problems ta focus on…”
“Right, give me two seconds and it’ll be over.”
With that Pietro is gone, becoming little more than a blur as he launches a devastating assault on the warwolf. Within a few seconds he’s rained down a hail of punches and kicks, more than enough to fell a beast three times the warwolf’s size. Panting from the exertion he comes to a stop a few paces away. Taking a moment to catch his breath, he dusts himself off.
“As I said, two seconds. One down, one to g-”
He is sent flying as the warwolf crashes into his back. Unaffected by his whirlwind assault the creature’s unbroken skin gleams. Grinning, the beast opens its mouth and sneers over Pietro’s sprawled body.
“Don’t be so quick to count me out. I’m no genius, but it appears you are the one on the floor.”
Rogue catches sight of Pietro, helpless on the floor. With a sigh she tears off her gloves.
“Dammit, do ah have ta do everything mahself?”
Hands exposed she lunges for where her five doubles are holding onto the barely contained warwolf. Her hands make contact with its metallic hide… but nothing happens. With a burst of strength the warwolf rears up, sending Rogue and all her duplicates flying. Rogue lands dazed beside Pietro. Clutching her head, she mutters.
“Okay, ah guess that didn’t work.”
“We are definitely screwed…”
Yet another lot of the Mojo Productions Head Studio
With a cry Jean is sent hurling back into a wall as four swords collide with her telekinetic shield. She lands not far from Dukes. He heaves a sigh of frustration.
“This is pointless! You can’t touch Buccaneer Barbie over there,”
He gestures to the six-armed woman with the swords who had been announced as Spiral and subsequently spent the last ten minutes trying to kill them.
“with your telepathy and every time I get close she summons a stupid portal and sends me back. There’s no way for us to win this.”
“There’s always a way.”
With a wince of pain, Jean clutches her ribs and forces herself to her feet. Her brow furrows as she thinks carefully for a moment.
“I think I have an idea. Dukes, have you ever heard of a fastball special?”
Dukes’s face twists into confusion.
Jean focuses, sending a wave of telepathy across to him. As it hits, a slow smile spreads across his face.
“Oh yeah, man am I in. Let’s do this!”
With a grin of her own, Jean turns to face the advancing Spiral.
“I’m sorry, but you leave us no choice. It’s time to show you how X-Men fight!”
With that she uses her telekinesis to launch Dukes into the air straight towards Spiral. The movement is too fast for her to summon a portal, and Dukes is too large for her to dodge. A brief flicker of fear crosses her otherwise blank expression and then with a slam Dukes is on top of her.
“Oh yeah! That’s what happens when you mess with the Blob and Jean Grey!”
Jean allows herself a small smile at the victory, before focusing once more. Beads of sweat drip down her forehead as she begins to shake. Noticing, Dukes hesitantly speaks.
“Uh… Jean? What’s going on?”
Without letting up, Jean answers.
“I’m trying… to contact… the others. The barriers… are strong… but I’m almost… through…”
Rogue and Pietro are back on their feet, keeping a cautious distance away from the circling warwolves. The warwolves themselves seem in no hurry to finish things, merely leaping forward with a vicious swipe every now and then to keep them on the defensive.
The key to victory is working together.
For once, Rogue is glad to hear Jean’s voice echo in her head. The preppy, popular, perfect red-head may get on her nerves, but at the end of the day she knows she has her back and doesn’t want anything bad to actually happen to her. Pietro, blinking in confusion beside her, speaks.
“So, um, am I going crazy or was that Jean in our heads? Is this part of the whole “death trap TV show” schtick?”
Rogue ducks and rolls to avoid a lunge from one of the warwolves. As she pushes back up to her feet she shakes her head.
“No, ah know how Jean’s powers feel. It was her.”
She pauses, hesitating a moment. Taking a deep breath, she continues.
“For her ta broadcast like that, the message had ta be important. There must be a way ta combine our powers and put these dogs down.”
Pietro rapidly dodges a two-pronged attack by both warwolves using his speed. As the warwolves retreat again he casts a suspicious glance at her.
“I’m not letting you touch me.”
Rogue shakes her head, one eye remaining on the warwolves as she speaks.
“Ah won’t, wouldn’t do much good anyway. We can’t do any damage through that thick hide o’ theirs. If only there was a way to get past that, maybe mah powers could work.”
Pietro halts suddenly. It is so abrupt Rogue has to catch herself to keep from falling into him. She has a biting remark on the tip of her tongue when he turns around, face lit up in excitement.
“That’s it! Their skin, or whatever it is, keeps you from using your power. But their mouths are unprotected. If I keep them distracted, you should be able to get close enough to reach inside and make contact…”
He trails off, watching Rogue closely for her response. She stands frozen, her face a blank mask. Slowly she speaks.
“That’s a big risk…”
Pietro deflates slightly, turning away looking down at the floor as she continues.
“But it sounds like our best shot. Alright speedy, ah’m trusting you. Better be a damned good distraction.”
Pietro brightens up as she speaks, a smile slowly spreading across his face. As she finishes he flashes her a wink.
“Oh, you’ve no idea how distracting I can really be.”
With that he is off, moving too fast to be seen as more than a blur. As he circles the warwolves they snicker, clearly confident he is no threat. That changes when he starts to jab at them. Although he does no damage his taunts all too quickly get under the beasts’ skin.
“Too slow! Man, my grandma could move quicker than you and she’s dead! I wish we’d been up against warcheetahs, then this might have been interesting! Are you sure you’re not warsnails?”
Enraged, the two warwolves shift all their focus to Pietro, lunging and snapping at him in vain attempts to shut him up. Careful to be silent Rogue creeps closer, circling round behind the nearest warwolf. When she is half a step away she pauses to steel herself then leaps forward. As she clasps onto its neck the warwolf rears in shock, but fails to dislodge her. Gripping tight with one arm and both legs she shoves her remaining arm into its mouth, pressing hard against the exposed flesh there. Both Rogue and the warwolf gasp in pain, their cries mingling before abruptly cutting off. There is an ominous thump then silence. Pietro and the remaining warwolf freeze, their gazes locking onto the two bodies slumped on the floor. Slowly, a silver form rises to its feet. Despite the metallic coating, the figure’s outline remains instantly recognisable. It’s Rogue. Grinning at the only warwolf left standing, she cracks her knuckles.
“Alright sugar, it’s mah turn now.”
The resulting fight is as short as it is brutal. With a speed that impresses even Pietro, the second warwolf joins its partner unconscious on the floor. Rogue stands above them, dusting her hands.
“Ah almost wish they’d put up a better fight. Almost.”
She pauses, glancing around.
“So… what now? How do we get back?”
Pietro opens his mouth, but before he can reply a circular light engulfs them both. For a moment they are suspended in an empty void, then they are falling together. They crash down into an empty field. The two of them sit there blinking in silence. Both of their outfits are thoroughly ruined, but bar a few bruises and scrapes they are unharmed. Shakily hauling herself to her feet, Rogue looks around.
“Ah think… ah recognise where we are. This is the Bayville sports field. We’re back.”
As she finishes speaking, in one smooth motion Rogue’s silver skin ripples then fades away. With a sigh, she runs a hand along one of the larger tears in her dress.
“Damn, ah really liked this dress. Guess ah’ll have to return to the mansion now…”
To his surprise, Pietro finds himself disappointed by the thought of Rogue leaving. Despite everything, he enjoyed their little “death-trap”. It had been pleasant to have someone who could match not only his wit but his prowess in combat. Now, with the danger passed, he can really take in the girl beside him. He’d never admit it, but she really is breath-taking. Before his brain has a chance to catch up with his mouth he finds himself speaking.
“Or you could come with me. The night’s still young, and it’d be a shame to waste it alone.”
Rogue raises a single eyebrow at him. Pietro’s heart sinks. Of course she wouldn’t be interested in him, it had been stupid of him to even try. As he readies a cover up Rogue catches him by surprise by darting forward and pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek. Pietro is left there frozen, for once in his life totally speechless. A feeling of light-headed dizziness just starts to build when there is a gust of wind, and Rogue is gone.
Despondent, Pietro realises Rogue was probably just trying to take his speed. That kiss had no doubt been a way to sneak past his defenses. It had meant nothing to her. Angrily he shoves his hands into his suit pockets, only to brush against a scrap of paper. Confused he pulls it out, revealing a note etched in elegant scrawl. As he reads it, a smile slowly spreads across his face. There is a phone number, followed by a message. Call me if you think you can keep up.