Only the Hunger Remains

October 09, 2016:

The X-Men confront Famine (Rogue)

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NPCs: None.

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Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Sault Ste. Marie 20:04

Reports have poured in, starting from a trickle to an opening of a dam(n) of death. Fisheries were pulling in nets of fish… Decayed.

Whales in migration were beaching themselves and before ever being able to be saved, they began to decay.

And among the tides of rot, the damns flowing from the juncture of Lakes: Superior, Michigan, Huron… Have had to shut down, as the life of the lakes and combining seas is beginning to come in through the filters as well as the system itself, clogging it with decay and water undrinkable as well as waters un-harvestable.

The rivers that feed off the tributaries…

Wildlife with seasoning opening for hunt, or the farm animals from the wells.. They all are showing symptoms akin to rabies before they fall and die… Their meat unfit even before they can be found.

Famine

Or rather the former Brotherhood member and current X-Man - Rogue.

A small Island inside the Sault Ste Marie lays in decay, the ground drained of all of its life, where fall has yet to truly touch the ground has already become blackened and sandy, the trees barren and blackening, losing their branches now..

Above

A flock of birds seeks migration and the woman ascends to the air, dropping the flock to the ground and into the waters like feathered meteors.

The immediate threat of Apocalypse has died down over the past several weeks in most people's minds. Perhaps it is the lack of media coverage or the fact the danger is just not touching close enough to home for the every day citizen of the world. Whatever the reason, outside of the X-Men, Apocalypse was just another terror not fully understood by the world. Like most view war in a foreign country, it's happening, it's terrible but it isn't directly harming their own life. That is about to change. It is always quietest before the storm after all.

"This look nothing like it should." Remy's voice over the X-Comms, patched through the Blackbird where he sits, not the pilot. He never is the pilot. That is left to the likes of Scott, Jean and Beast or those more capable, also those who are allowed. If none of them are available, there is always the autopilot.
It is a fast deploy after all, any and all X-Men, X-Red, X-Force were given the alert. When something of this magnitude impacts so close to home, they almost always find out and respond. Cell phone footage captures from afar showed what is very likely Rogue anyways, one of their lost X-Men. A lead, that is all they have needed.

Nate has been trying to track down the movements of the Horsemen even in other areas of the world. But really, there is plenty human-caused bloodshed and natural disasters it is hard to find out which is caused by Apocalypse agents and which is not based in the first reports of incidents. And as fast as he can fly, it is still too long when it is happening far from the US East Coast.

But today they are hitting close to home, and Nate was in the mansion. So he is in the Blackbird trying to be patient about the flight and mostly failing miserably. Are we there yet?
Scott Summers pilots whenever he's given the opportunity and this is no exception. For one, he's probably the best pilot for have. For two, he would absolutely pull rank and kick anyone else out of the cockpit. He liked flying planes.

He brings the Blackbird in, switching it to VTOL, hovering and opening the hatches to give people a chance to deplane quickly, "Drop and spread out, I'll land the thing and join in a sec," he says, wanting to keep the plane out of harm's way if he could.

Betsy ties off the scarf that covers the lower half of her face, a scarlet slash of silk against the dusky greys of her full-body leotard. ~Linking in,~ Betsy announces telepathically, putting everyone into a common psychic communications channel. She moves to the hatch that opens in the floor, adjusting one of the belts holding myriad gear to her belt and baldric, then with a loose-legged step, drops into nothing. She falls thirty feet and lands in with a silent *thump*, knees flexing to absorb the shock, and darts for shadowy cover.

With X-Red and her personal life in flux, Wanda is on the look out for something to do to distract her. What better than strange happenings that she didn't need the news or an X alert to tell her about. It's hard to miss such changes in the fabric of reality. Rather than travel with the X-Men she let them know she would be there and, sure enough, there she is. Clad in her black pants, scarlet corset and scarlet jacket, her fingers already twitch and spasm with her magic as she stares up at the flying Rogue. "This is not good" she notes softly in her heavily accented voice. A nod to those who drop from the plane though she isn't very good at identifying anyone.

// Life is bigger..
It's bigger than you
And you are not me.
The lengths that I will go to,
the distance in your eyes..
Oh no, I've said too much..//

** … I set it up..**

The Blackbird comes in unharmed…. If it was not for the sudden flock of veering Agelaius phoeniceus, red winged black-birds of feather, seeking a direction when they smell death on the wind, a barrier of decay this is spreading…
Enough so to have an aircraft rattled as the intake sucks in the fowl and spews it out, throttle or engine issues??

The woman hovering above the island is clad in a tattered and blackened X-Man uniform. White and green now a black and pine, singed at the edges, although the woman beneath seems unmarred, the mass of auburn streaked in alabaster flowing around her like a tsunami as the lakes shift. Nature is rapidly falling to decay and the crippling move of Famine in turning tides - physically and metaphysically… Enough so that when life touches ground those eyes of a former Scarlet O'hara redirect!

"This is not the will of **Apocalypse!" Life. Not that which is untouched by his will…

Although if any readouts can be had, heat signatures… They are fading fast and the span seems to be reacting like a suction, pulling the pulse and exuding the death. Emanation.

Wanda and Psylocke become the first targets, the words from former-Rogue echo among the downfall of birds into foaming bay as she descends back towards life and the island!

Spread out? Good plan but Remy goes for the center stage for once. Gambit and Rogue have a bond, they both suffered the Darkhold's cursed touch once before and since have grown close.
Collapsing staff in hand it extends and he makes his way towards Rogue mindful of Scarlet Witch as he passes and the Ninja vanish of Betsy. No acknowledgement necessary they're all telepathic linked at this point.

"Ca va, ma chere. You need to come on down, let us help you." No stealth, no beating around the bush. Remy LeBeau is approaching one of his own, not one of the monsters they had faced on Sakharin Island. No, this was a fellow X-Men. A hero. A mutant. Family. "We can beat dis thing together. " If anything maybe he can be a big distraction for the rest to get in to position.
Nate dives out of the airplane seconds after Betsy does, and just as the birds threaten the Blackwing. No big deal, he pushes the sick flock away from the airplane with telekinesis, and then spots Rogue. Then he sends through the mind-link: «There she comes. Don't let her come too close. Apocalypse gave her powers some range, so Rogue can drain you at distance.»

«That's problematic,» Betsy frowns, vanishing into the shadows like so many crows against a stormcloud. She flickers along, her thin shoes barely leaving divots in the dirt as the ninja exploits darkness and ambiguities of light in order to stay out of sight— and a little psionic distortion of the air around her.

It would be simpler to merely blot out Rogue's perception of her… but Betsy is not inclined to touch that seething morass.

«I'm nearly in position at your two o'clock, Remy,» Betsy tells Gambit. Amethyst eyes flicker at him from about fifty yards away. «If you can't talk her down, I'll /take/ her down.» She settles into a low, lumpy crouch near a dusky brush… waiting. And watching.

Scott Summers isn't particularly interest in playing footsy or playing nice at this point. Rogue's pretty tough, she can handle plenty of punishment and they don't have time to play with her. They can put her down hard and figure out how to get her head straight afterward.

Scott's arrival is prefaced by a loud *VROOM* as he comes roaring out on a musclebike, the X-shield gleaming in his helmet in ruby quartz as he jets out at full speed, «Sorry, Remy, you're gonna have to comfort her in the med wing» he says and he unleashes, firing an optic blast at Rogue's position.
Wanda is a bit out of the loop regarding Apocalypse so she's not sure what Rogue wants…though looking at the world around them it doesn't seem to be a good thing. She watches Gambit trying to do the right thing and talk Rogue down but then there are beams of energy slashing through the air and that makes Wanda leap back in surprise. "Should we be annoying her like that?" she asks as politely as she can over the roar of the bike. A deep breath before she looks around for any innocents at their location. Her chaotic magic building around her hands as she raises her arms in a defensive posture.

"The let them come!!

**They will *know!* *

And echo reigns dominant in Rogue's mind, and as Famine she looks down upon the island, seeing undead masses of worshipers who bowed, cow towed, and adored her very existence as she touched down upon the aisle that her fellow teammates were on….

…and they were of the masses.

… But as Rogue, an image glitches, hazes, and flickers with Gambit's words. When the booted feet meet the earth she causes craters of further decay with every step that closes their gap, cracks that bleed out like earthier veins of the very rot she exudes.

"Tah geth'ah? Swamp Rat?" A moment and the outer corner of eyes fold down, the sorrow evident, the distraught plaintive desire to just…

"Ya know tha' can't happen." And the accent of steel magnolias fades just like the single grey'd tear of ash that descends down her cheek from an eye framed in black where white should be.

Just as the tear of moistened fester razes a reddened path down pale cheek Nate's warning echoes and Betsy can feel the sudden onset of famine, fatigue, as if she hadn't eaten in weeks…. And she lived within an apocalyptic desert on that soil!

… Interruption of that reach of fettered-gloved hand for Remy comes with Cyclops' blast, a ruby glow that sends Rogue/Famine back into the Lake with a large ripple!

But what emerges is a woman covered in muddy shoal, and decomposing life, the aura suddenly pushed in a single pulse, much akin to a draining attack of life, refitting it with hunger and need!

The sudden onset of crippling hunger pushes Betsy almost to her limits. The ninja doubles over and presses a palm to the soil, gripping her belly in pain.

She sets her jaw, forcing herself to breath— Nate's echo more than a little useful. "Only hunger," Betsy whispers to herself, face going strained. She digs deep, finding her inner fires of energy and chi, a place of divergent harmony in her belly. The ninja learn to control the body, and Kwannon's memories of practicing the art of starvation with Mastu'o flood her psyche.

She tries to angle her low mental shields as best she can, flooding her body with psionic energy to attempt to countermand that entropic field literally sucking her life away.

She makes a fist with one hand, trapping a spike of psionic energy in her palm— and waits.

«I need to get behind her. Get her away from the water and low enough I can approach,» Betsy says, trying not to sound haggard.

There is a crack in the Horseman conditioning, briefly, an intake perhaps and then the soft approach is stripped, "Merde! I was getting through to her… Cyclops… " As angry as Gambit would like to be he can't, he felt the onset of fatigue, the weakening, soul touching depletion emanating from Rogue, it got stronger just before the X-Men's field commander attacked. Maybe she is a bit too far gone but just maybe he could have opened that gap a little further. Made through to the woman inside. Unfortunately, annoying her like Wanda said is about what it looks like Scott has just accomplished.
Gritting his teeth past his own frustrations and the onslaught of Famine powers radiating outwards Remy grips several cards up between his fingers, "Lets make a distraction, petite." Gambit offers Scarlet Witch, a distraction so Psylocke can get in close. He is not exactly coordinating with Nate yet, he's learned that usually doesn't work out well.

Nate flies higher, keeping away Rogue's drain field (he hopes!) and sighs when Remy and Betsy get too close. Some people won't listen. And it is bad he is the one thinking that!

When Cyclops blast nails the woman, he grins ferally. Just the space he needed. His turn to hit, and aiming straight down it is easy. A column of golden telekinetic energy surges from his left eye, aimed to Rogue.

Hunger…Wanda knows all about it. Years of living on the street have conditioned her to is affects. A deep breath at the dark feeling that emanates from Rogue. "It is not real" she whispers to herself. "Nothing is real" she adds with the ironic certainty of a person who can manipulate it at will. Distraction? That Wanda can do…though did Gambit just call her 'small'?

Scarlet energy flows from her hands and into the earth. The fabric of the world being re-knit even as Nate and Scott continue to harass the sodden Rogue. What was once dead ground springs back to vibrant life. Grass growing green and fast. Flowers blooming over and over. Animals springing happily through the undergrowth. Birds singing and chirping. Is it real? As far as the current onlookers are concerned it is. Life showing how it will always persevere against what Rogue has to offer. That she will never be able to defeat it. Hopefully that will get her attention.

The decrepit forests of blackened apoc seethe…

Wolves of a reddened hue emerge from the forests, ribs bared beneath the overlain coats of fur as if draped over a line of curtain rods…
Above..
The falcons and hawks circle, their wings faltering in weakness…

A flash of ivory canines,
a dive of wing in the flux of feather…

The X-Men were charged by hungered beasts, even those pushing up daisies in tunnels, a fertility to their beady gaze.

All of them: HUNGRY

But Famine/Rogue trudges from the decrepit bays of the lakes she has turned into a cesspool with algae dripping from the green of uniform like tentacles. Green eyes have turned pale, almost golden without pupil as she reaches the banks and bony fingers strip auburn hair of the soaked weed to splatter it aside.

Cyclops comes under attack by the animals, sending blasts to the sky to spilit the onslaught of hungry hawks asunder! The sound of tearing, cracking,and the feel of hunger…

The ground cracks and begins to form pitfalls, concave with the consumption of every footfall as Rogue surfaces and saps the lifeforce of the very Earth itself, heading for the kinetic glow of cards Remy bears… Distracted as the blackened tears fall from a storm darkening gazee - no longer moss of a historic adoration..

But th with brings something in more, a life!
And Famine seeks it out, a tentacle of abyssal depth through the roots of all she had left like veins, shooting out to bring the ground beneath them to buckle as more life is sought!

… But it is fallacy… And when energy comes to meet…
Nate's blow brings Rogue to her knees and hands cup her head, clutching skeletal fingers through her hair as the faux life projected reciprocates, and no more can be drained, pSylocke is left her opening to the fetal position of an emaciated Rogue whose tears leave blackened pits upon the earth beneath her form.

Between beasts and X-Men cards are thrown to keep them at bay, it is at the moment the most Gambit can do. Rogue is beset by Nate, Scott and Betsy. He will play crowd control or in this scenario animal control?
No time to marvel at Scarlet Witch's powers, whether illusory or real it is simply only time to act.

"Take her. I got your backs… "
Scott Summers has to surrender the bike as the Earth becomes a bit too ruptured to function well. He spins to a stop and comes off, unleashing his energies in every direction with quick, rapid-fire shots, trying to keep the animals at bay. He doesn't want to hurt any of them too much, but he also recognizes that he's fighting a life or death battle. He even punches a hawk out of the sky when it comes at him, decking it with a right cross as he tries to stride forward to get another shot at Rogue.
Nate watches Rogue collapse and floats down, somewhat distrustful but also optimistic. «Is she down for real?» He asks, trying to get into the fallen X-Woman's mind and failing. Even before the Apocalypse 'improvements' she was impossible to read. So he comes down, trying to avoid the hungry animals. And Wanda's not hungry ones.

That's when Betsy strikes. She moves like a rattlesnake, launching from the shadows and shedding darkness behind her like a cannonball flung from mist. All that power she'd huddled in her stomach, nurturing it and protecting it from Rogue's consumptive powers— she forces all of that into a lance of raw power eighteen inches long and faintly iridescence with amethyst light. She hauls back, face set in a totality of concentration, and aims to slam that spike of psionic energy directly into Rogue's skull— bypassing flesh and bone and sinew to conduct crackling energy directly into the 'off' switch in the center of Rogue's brain.

She swings her arm in an arc and drives her entire mind and body behind the point of that disruptive telepathic weapon.
Consuming empty calories can never be good for you. As Wanda feels Rogue trying to draw up her fake life it gives her an idea. Her magics change reality once more, tempting Rogue with the promise of life but it is a Trojan horse. Once it can seep into the 'possessed' woman it will try to overwhelm her senses with a new reality. A reality where she is at peace and content. Where she no longer has to do what she is doing. That it is all over.

Wanda drops to one knee, straining to keep the spell going. Her skin glistening with perspiration. Hopefully those hungry animals will be content to chase shadows and mirages until Betsy has overcome Rogue because Wanda is not in a position to defend herself.

The "team" has finally overcome…

FOR ALL OF THE WORLD TO SEE!

The animals un-akn that had packed up on Scott bore fang, salivating and foaming glands snapping at suit, skin, and being with nothing but hungered glare, and when he spikes one of them from the sky, attention of the pack becomes strained..

// THIS IS THE END, MY BELOVED FRIEND…//

Take her? From between fingers, those eyes flicker towards Remy, an innocent emerald that only wanted…
Fingers coil and tear away strands of hair, both dark and pale with a SCREAM,
One that craters the earth with an impact release of X-Man and Cyclops' energies combined, a tantrum that sets a dent and causes Scarlet Witches creatures to backpedal upon the crust… But it is enough..

"ENOUGH!"

When the ashes hit the ground the animals surrounding Cyclops are gone, the sorrow striking towards Gambit slowly recedes (but fails to *fade*), the natural path of proximity diminishes from around Wanda, and Psylocke finds a sudden home within a Revanche(if needed).
…and beneath her hand Rogue crumples into the spiderweb of putrefaction…

Famine may be in a dreamscape, but what of the widespread devastation that seeps from her pores?

Scott Summers frowns, "Nate, Wanda, see if you can keep her contained somehow between magick and TK. Gambit, I know you're hurtin', man, but we have to stay on top of this. Betsy, try to see if you can keep opening up psychic lines to get Remy in contact with the real Rogue underneath it. This was a good job, team, but it's not done yet," he says firmly, going to retrieve his bike and revving it up, "We're getting to the last innings, but let's not slack and end up in overtime."

Nate lands close to Rogue, but then hesitates, feeling the effects of her power even when she is unconscious. "Okay, we have a serious problem. Looks like taking her into the Blackbird would kill us even if she is sleeping." Where is Illyana when we need her?

Tentatively, Nate lifts the fallen X-Woman using telekinesis. Maybe he can take her all the way to… hmm, would it be smart to take her to the X-bunker, even?

Betsy abruptly turns two paces away, hauls down her scarf, and vomits. She rests a hand on her knee, then stoops and rests a forearm on her thigh, shaking. The gagging turns to coughing and she straightens, shaking her head and looking very peaked.

"I am fine," she lies. "Was… too close to her when she used that consumptive power." She haggardly rubs her face. "Can we… Nate, can you shield the two of us?" she asks X-Man. "If you can shield us, I can pilot the Blackbird and we can fly her somewhere extremely remote— no biological life. I can't focus on flying and shielding myself for that long."

"Where do you want her" croaks Wanda through parched lips. Her magic changes subtly into a 'globe' around Rogue to contain her physically at least. "I can open a portal if that will help… If it is somewhere I know. Distance is as illusory as anything else. I…I might stay here once she is gone. Try to fix this…"

"You good, Wanda?" Remy asks Wanda while watching Psylocke and Nate contain Rogue, "Maybe we take her back and put her in containment, I'm sure Beast can… " A pause and he looks towards Cyclops, "We got anything to house her? This kinda out of our realm." Perhaps the Mutant Research Center would have been an option if it wasn't already razed by the Dark Riders.
"Teleport her? Sounds risky. Maybe we should call in some help." As much as he loathes to suggest they work outside of the X-Men's own resources in this situation there doesn't seem to be a lot of options. They'll figure something out. Maybe the trio of Nate, Betsy and Wanda can contain her for now.
"Blaquesmith!" It dawns on Remy suddenly. They already met someone who can help. Maybe. "I know where we can take her… "

Take her…

Nate's lift has the fetal form going prone, an arch in spine almost seems as if Rogue would break from a chrysalis, the tattered flow of cloak lined in black reforming,
acid rain
.. .. You got my prayin'.. Once a line is severed it seems the cracks in the Earth stop growing, the 'field formed by Nate bringing some things to a halt from spreading, even as sink-holes threaten beneath the X-Men's feet and a 'Rogue' is hovered aloft in a mix of Magick and TK bubbles.

That does not bring to cease the baying and howls, as well as the caw of avian above… This set of isles seems as doomed to abandon as that of the Brother's in New York, but spreading towards…

Rogue, however, has Apocalypse severed in a manner that can be 'crippling' beset by Psylocke, and the energy pulsed from Cyclops as well as Nate bears an air that only is kept alive by Wanda's illusory planting and desire to keep life thriving and fight the inevitable…

…For all of them.

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