In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook, we are proud to present… X v X Round 1: Storm versus Magik! What forces could cause X-Man to be pitted against X-Man? Read on and see!
. ~ .
She knew where she was.
The woman known as Storm, beautiful and confident, stared around at the farmland with a pang of sadness. This was Russia, she knew, and the deserted buildings opposite had been the home of a friend’s family. But that family had been slaughtered, cut down in their sleep years ago, and she had never expected to visit here again.
Storm walked towards the old farmhouse, no hint of confusion or uncertainty in her stride. Everything felt… weird, dreamlike, somehow unreal, and yet every instinct she possessed told her not to trust that sensation. How had she been brought here? A few seconds ago, she had been teaching at the Jean Grey School, where she was headmistress; now she was in the depths of Russia.
“Mornin’”, called a voice, one that was strangely familiar. Ororo wheeled round, her powers calling upon the natural world and generating arcs of electricity around her hands, ready to lash out at even a hint of provocation.
“So,” she hissed, eyes narrowing in anger. She recognised the man before her, a daper, foolish-looking man with long curly hair and an insane grin. “Arcade,” she identified him. Arcade: the maniacal assassin who love to play with his prey, driving them through crazy games that wore them down. “Why have you simulated Russia, Arcade?”
Arcade laughed, and clapped his hands gleefully. “Oh, bravo, Your Majesty,” he jeered. Ororo knew better than to attack; he wouldn’t expose himself if he weren’t confident of survival. She had to find out what game she’d been trapped in this time. “But take a look at the weather-patterns, O Queen,” he continued. “Do you really think this is a simulation?”
Everyone thought that Storm could manipulate the weather; only a handful of people truly understood that she was linked to the world’s atmosphere, to nature’s beautifully-crafted patterns. Much to her annoyance, Ororo guessed that Arcade now numbered among those few who ‘got’ it. She relaxed her mind, drinking in the serenity, exploring the patterns of the world around her. She could feel the pressure of an anticyclone looming overhead, a vast weather system that told her she was in no simulation. Nobody could make a simulation this vast in scale.
“You have brought me to Russia,” she murmured, surprised.
Arcade perched on a stone wall, grinning at her. “I have indeed, O Queen,” he replied.
“I am not a Queen any longer,” Storm observed harshly. For a time, she had been married to T’Challa, King of Wakanda. But that was the past, and she wondered why Arcade was taunting her with it now.
Arcade shrugged. “Once a Queen, always a Queen,” he retorted. “Surely you’re still concerned for your subjects?”
Clouds gathered in the sky above them as Ororo looked at him with fierce anger. “Are you threatening Wakanda?”
Now Arcade laughed once again. “Oh, yes,” he told her, and then leapt up off the wall and dusted his hands off. “Here’s the deal, Stormy. I’m working in a team these days, and I’m out to have some serious fun. Your job is to fight, nothing more, nothing less, and if you don’t do it…”
He snapped his fingers, and everything changed.
Storm’s grasp on the local weather-system was gone; she realised the weather-system was, too, and reeled as she sensed a completely different climate. Then, the rest of her senses kicked into gear; the scent of burnt flesh filled her nostrils, causing her to gag, but she fought off the sensation and looked. She could tell where she was by instinct; Wakanda, the beautiful nation now ravaged by war, the jungle an ashy dust beneath her feet, and all around her were the bodies of those who had been her subjects.
Arcade snapped his fingers again, and they were back in Russia.
He grinned. “That, my dear Storm, is what’ll happen if you don’t do what I say,” he cautioned, the smile widening still further. “That’s a glimpse of a future. The Atlanteans and the Wakandans are tearing each other to pieces. Now imagine if, say, the last defence secrets Wakanda has were given over to Prince Namor…” He paused. “Oh, wait, you don’t need to imagine. You’ve just seen,” he finished with a leer.
It went against her every instinct, but Ororo knew that she had no choice. For now.
“Who do you want me to fight?”
. ~ .
“Cut the scene,” Mojo yelled. He’d worked in show-business long enough to know a cut-scene when he saw one, and Storm’s reaction was perfect. The screen shut down, and the enormous green being applauded himself. “Oh, perfect, perfect,” he declared, “We’re in for a treat – aren’t we, my dear?”
At his side stood another X-Man, the beautiful blonde youth who called herself Magik. Her body was ramrod straight, her eyes studied the ground as though unable to meet Mojo’s gaze, and her fists were clenched with tension. She remained silent.
It didn’t matter; Mojo didn’t need a reply in order to speak. “Do you like the setting, my dear? A reminder, isn’t it, of what you’ve left behind?” He leered forwards. “Of how you’ve lost your soul.”
“I got my soul back,” Magik retorted, the Russian accent growing stronger in her anger.
Mojo shrugged his enormous shoulders. “Not your whole soul, though,” he smarmed. “Not yet, leastways. Oh, the lengths you went to – just to get what little you’ve got!” Now Mojo laughed, a hideous bellowing din that made Magik’s ears hurt. “Even taking on the Elder Gods! Oh, that was wonderful, I wish I’d been there to film it!”
“I can give you a guided tour to the destruction they endured if you want,” Magik threatened.
Of course, all Mojo did was laugh some more. “Why, then you’d never get your soul back,” he told her. “You know the deal; win the fights ahead, and I give you what you want.”
“How do I know I can trust you?”
Another evil grin. “You don’t. You just know you’ll never get your soul back if you don’t take chances.”