In association with the X-Men Comics group on Facebook, we are proud to present… X v X Round 3: Rogue versus Kitty Pryde! One you can’t touch, the other you mustn’t – who’ll win in this all-out battle? Incidentally, can anyone tell me which classical piece of lit this battle features a homage to?
The land which time forgot possesses a terrible beauty. In the great forests, life, which abhors darkness, struggles ever upwards to the light. Every plant, even the smaller ones, curls and writhes to the green surface, twining itself round its stronger and taller brethren in the effort. Climbing plants are monstrous and luxuriant, but others which have never been known to climb elsewhere learn the art as an escape from that sombre shadow. This is why it was a simple matter for the woman known as Rogue to climb up the side of one of the towering trees, pushing herself through the canopy until she emerged to feel the hot sun upon her face.
Rogue was dressed in a shimmering green-and-white outfit with what would have been a stylised ‘X’ down the centre if she’d not tugged the zipper down as far as it could go in order to cope with the heat. It may not have looked practical, but it incorporated subtle impact padding that would help in the event of a fall – and the unstable molecules were designed to ventilate well, a fact that Rogue was glad of. In spite of this, she was soaked in sweat.
Rogue’s eyes swept across the area, and she allowed herself a scowl. She’d had a feeling, but this sight confirmed it; the forest stretched as far as the eye could see, but in the air was the strange shape of a pterodactyl, its leathery wings spread wide as it searched for prey. Wisely, Rogue pushed herself back into the leaves, deep in thought.
There were two options: either she’d travelled back in time, or she was in the Savage Land. This was the strange kind of life a super-hero lived, where both possibilities – viewed by most as insane – were a part of her reality. A moment ago she had been on the island of Utopia, home to the last remnant of the mutant race, training the young mutants who she cared deeply for. There had been a moment’s dizziness, a half-second of nausea, and then she was standing on the floor level of this forest, in the shadow of the mighty trees.
She’d been in this kind of situation before, of course; stranded in the Savage Land, she’d survived for some weeks. Her gaze fixed on the creepers falling from the canopy, and she grabbed one, using it to swing down; using this method, the descent took less than half the time it had taken to get to the dazzling view she had seen above. The problem was, she had no idea which way to go in. The forest had stretched out in every direction, and any route she took could simply be taking her deeper into it. She had learned long ago that such a forest held many threats in its shadowy depth. And, given that she had seen a pterodactyl, it was pretty clear to her that there could be some very unusual issues out there.
“Action,” whispered a male voice, one that Rogue was sure she knew; she wheeled round, and found herself facing a man dressed in a dazzling white suit. She recognised him at a glance.
“Arcade,” Rogue growled, and launched herself at him; she slammed into him, sending him crashing against the trunk of a tree, and rested her left arm against his throat as her right hand frisked him for weapons. He was unarmed, and yet didn’t seem fazed in the slightest by this unusual greeting; instead, he grinned. Rogue’s frustration wasn’t helped when she realised he wasn’t looking at her face. “What’s going on, Arcade? Why am I here?” With her free hand she tugged her zipper up as high as it would go.
At least this probably meant she was in the Savage Land; Arcade wasn’t known for access to time-travel technology. Arcade glanced meaningfully at her arm against his throat, and coughed; reluctantly, confident she had the physical edge on the weedy man, Rogue released him and stepped back.
Straightening his bow-tie (seriously, Rogue wondered, who wears a bow-tie in the jungle?), Arcade coughed a couple more times and then met her eye. “You’re here to play my game, Rogue,” he told her merrily, in a sing-song voice.
“I’m not interested,” Rogue told him sharply. If Arcade was involved, it probably meant that someone had taken out a contract on her life. It probably meant she was about to get hunted. She tensed, ready to run.
Arcade chortled. “You don’t have a choice, Roguester,” he told her in a mock-affectionate voice. “Think about it; I got you out of Utopia, I brought you here.” He paused, and then beamed. “What else could I do in Utopia?”
Rogue didn’t answer, but she had a sickening feeling she knew where this was going.
Arcade didn’t disappoint, of course. “I planted bombs, Rogue. Lots of nice little explosives, each one in the room of one of those kiddies you so love.” Seeing Rogue step forward, he waved his hands towards her. “Don’t threaten me, Rogue, you don’t want to see what I’ll do…”
“What do you want?”
Now Arcade shrugged. “Fun, Rogue. I want fun. I want you to give your everything in the catfight of the year!”
Rogue groaned. “What have you gone and rigged up this time?”
“Two X-Men,” Arcade declared, jigging from foot to foot in excitement. “Each defending a bunch of X-kiddies; two women you can’t touch, in a head-to-head!”
The pieces were coming together; Rogue’s powers enabled her to absorb powers and memories from others at a touch, and the other woman was presumably Kitty Pryde, who could make herself intangible. Rogue had no idea which ‘X-kiddies’ Kitty would be protecting, but it was clear Arcade had found some sort of motivation for her fellow X-Man. Just as, she ruefully had to admit, he’d given her some motivation.
Now Arcade leered at her. “She’s already here,” he whispered, “already preparing to make her strike…”
Kitty Pryde shot from the waist-high grass like a cannonball, slamming towards Rogue’s midriff. As soon as Arcade had said she was here, though, Rogue had known this was going to happen; and Kitty wasn’t the only one with martial arts skills. Rogue grabbed her friend, throwing her aside with precision; to protect herself from any impact, Kitty would phase…
The other X-Man, now intangible, went straight through Arcade – whose eyes widened as sparks and flames shot from his body. A second passed, and then he crashed lifelessly to the ground.
“Figured I ought to shut him up,” Rogue told Kitty as the two faced off against one another. Her friend was wearing an unfamiliar version of the traditional X-Men blue-and-yellow outfit, with her hair tied in a pony-tail.
Kitty allowed herself a tight grin. “Whoever wins,” she told Rogue, “You better know there’s time-travel involved as well as Arcade. In my time, I’m headmaster of a school.”
Rogue swore. “So he was telling the truth when he said we’re both fightin’ to protect the ‘X-kiddies’, huh?”
Sadly, Kitty nodded. Rogue flexed, dropping into a combat pose.