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L. Burke

Midnight Meetings

DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Marvel, and are
used without permission for entertainment purposes only.

*Note-This story takes place during the early years.  All the original five are still students.

            "Are we there yet?"  Bobby Drake whined for about the thousandth time. Scott Summers just sighed.  Hank McCoy rolled his eyes.  Warren chuckled humorlessly to himself and Jean was going to start losing her temper.

            "NO!"  Was the reply that quickly came from all his teammates.

            "Robert, we are heading towards a archeological dig.  Does it look like were anywhere near the dig to you?   Trust me no one wants to get there as badly as I do.  Oh Fearless, I believe my camel is plotting to try to eat me."  Hank McCoy grumbled in Scott's direction.

            "It’s a camel, Hank."  Scott replied gently "It hates everyone.  Besides it just wants a chance to spit on you."

            Warren laughed "Yours is being surprising good, Scott.  Mind sharing your secret?"  Scott wasn't riding his camel preferring to walk.  However his camel was following Scott around like a puppy dog and hadn't even spit on him once.

            Scott looked at him, his eyes glowing under the turban he was wearing and shrugged. "We came to an understanding that's all."

            "I hate camels, and I really hate the dessert," Bobby grumbled out loud "To hot."  Warren was personally agreeing with him but for different reasons.   The deserts of the America have at least something growing in them, cactus, something; but here in the Egyptian desert there was nothing but sand.  Not even a high hill or bluff to break the terrain.   

That part bothered Warren, the bird in him always instinctively wanted to scout from the high ground.  Being on the ground in open flat terrain just went against every instinct Warren processed.  He had to remind himself they were going incognito, that they did not want to be seen.  It still didn't stop Warren from wanting to throwing off his desert robes and spreading his wings up towards the sky.  Something just didn't feel right about this desert.  Like there was more out there than they imagined, and none of it good.  Warren used his eagle vision to do a quick scan of the area.  Nothing he could see for miles.  That still didn't make him feel better. 

            "Something bothering you Warren."  Scott asked quietly so none of the others could hear him.

            Warren blinked in surprise he thought he had been hiding his edginess rather well or at only letting it show when no one was looking.  "No why?" he lied.

            "Your back is puffing up a little, that's all.  Your wings always puff out a little bit when something is bothering you.  Besides you keep looking around like your expecting to see something."  Scott informed him quietly in a voice that didn't rise above Bobby's chatter.   Warren took note to watch his wings more carefully.  Someone could use that against him in the boardroom some day.

            Warren sighed, "Do you see anything?"  Scott's eyes may not be able to see father than Warren's but they saw things just as well other ways.   Though Warren wasn't quite sure on how Scott's eyes worked.  He knew Scott mutant powers allowed him to see almost around his head, which gave him a remarkable field of vision.  Not too much slipped by Scott ever.  Warren had eyes like an eagle, which gave him the ability to see miles away very narrowly.  Scott could see all around them at once.  Most times both of them served as lookouts.  Between the two of them and Jean's telepathic abilities things rarely got past them.

            "No," Scott said quietly "But that little voice inside my head keeps telling me that this would be a perfect place for an ambush.  No defensible high ground, no cover, and you can't get a clear fix on where you are because of the shifting sands.  Bobby's powers are pretty much voided out, not enough water in the air.   If I was planning an ambush this is the place I would do it."

            "That doesn't make me feel any better Slim."  Warren grumbled, "I just have a bad feeling that's all.  Like we're being watched, but I can't see anything.  I just wish I could scout from the skies.  Hey I could just be paranoid.  Can you tell me why Professor Xavier sent us out here?"

            Scott just gave him a very serious look "Paranoid will keep you alive.  You and I can't see anything and Jean hasn't sensed anything it could just be paranoia."  Warren just nodded at him while Scott continued "But you Warren have excellent instincts and they have kept us alive more times than I would like to count.  Tell the other to group tight and Jean to scan for trouble.  We should be at the dig by morning.   I don't want to take any chances.  You and I will stop here and wait for the others.  When they get here I'll explain why were out here."

            Warren just nodded, "I'll go get the others."


            "So Slim are you going to tell us why we're out here under orders to make sure we're not noticed?"  Jean asked as her camel rode up to where Scott and Warren were waiting for her.  They were waiting for Hank and Bobby to catch up.

            Scott just nodded.  "We're heading to the dig because an old friend of Professor Xavier's called him and said that they had found some very strange ruins out here."

            "Okay, how does that tie in with us?" Bobby interrupted.

            "I'm getting to that Bobby."  Scott grumbled,  "Well anyway, Professor Xavier's friend called and said that she had found some very strange ruins.  The thing that got her was the fact that the ruins were far away from any other ancient city.  That was the first strange thing.  The second thing that got her was the fact the writing on the wall talked how the ruins were commissioned by a Egyptian Queen about two to three thousand years ago.  Apparently she hired all the best minds at the time to trap 'He who would not die' the monster responsible for destroying her father."

            "I'm not following you here Slim why would Professor Xavier be interested in what sounds like a legend?"  Warren asked with a puzzled look on his face.

            "Well it seems "He who would not die" could do a lot of strange magic like read peoples minds, and control light."  Scott continued.

            "Remarkable," Hank interrupted with his eyes alit with interest, "Professor Xavier thinks he was a mutant.  If it's true it would prove his theory right, that we are quite possibly the next step in evolution."

            "How could that be important?"  Bobby asked looking puzzled giving Hank a baffled look

            "Think about it Bobby." Hank continued, "If a mutant showed up two to three thousand years ago it would shoot down the theory that we are freaks of nature caused by industrial poputants.  This could make the human race look at all the old legends much more carefully.  What if the Titan's were mutants and not just legends?"

            "How reassuring," Jean added in dryly "Humans hunted them down and tried to kill them too."

            "Wouldn't that disprove Professor Xavier's theory though," Bobby asked adding in "I mean that would me that mutants showed two thousand years before Xavier said they would."

            "It wouldn't necessarily disprove his theory Bobby," Hank continued "Two thousand years evolution wise is just a eye blink."  Hank then looked in Jean's direction "History does have a sad pattern of repeating itself I'm afraid.  I'm just confused on why Professor Xavier didn't come personally to check this find out."

            "I can answer that one," Scott added in "We couldn’t get access to get a plane in here.  Professor Xavier couldn't get out here.  It's just two far out for him to try it get in by a wheel chair, or camel.   Add to the fact, word would get out that he went to the dig and he's afraid that it would draw attention.  Professor Xavier wants to keep this hushed up until he can find out what's out there."

            "I get it."  Warren added in "A world renowned scholar would draw attention but four of his students getting sent to a old friend to see the insides of a dig for a field trip wouldn't."

            Scott nodded "Exactly.  He wants to know what there before governments start snooping around the joint."

            "What exactly does he think might be there that he wants to keep this all hushed up?" Jean asked looking a little confused.

            "I think I can answer this one O'Fearless."  Hank added in looking straight at Jean "He feels there might be something there to use against mutants.  If there is any form of ancient weapon there he wants to know what we might be up against.  That's the reason for keeping everything quite."  

            Scott just nodded "I'm suppose to go talk to Dr. Johnston and see what she has to report.  If she feels it is necessary that the Professor should take a look. I'm to report back to Professor Xavier and he will take a plane out here.  Until we know for sure he wants to play it close to the vest.  Any more questions anyone?"

            "No" was the response from the four others.

            Scott nodded "Good, you have my orders.  Stay close together, no wondering off.  Jean and Warren keep scanning for trouble.  I want to get there by morning."


            They indeed got there before the sun rose and Dr. Johnston was waiting for them.  She was a middle-aged woman, with dark hair that was starting to gray, glasses and a very serious expression on her face.  When she saw them coming over the horizon she actually smiled that them for a moment before her expression turned serious again.

            "You must be Scott and the rest of Charles students.  It's very nice to meet you.  Charles has told me so much about you all."

            Warren smiled at her "I hope you will of course give us the benefits of the doubt and draw your own conclusions."

            She gave Warren a grin and Scott just rolled his eyes.  Warren's charm worked on women of all ages.  "You must be Warren.  You're as charming as Charles said you were.  That would mean that the one wearing the glasses is Henry McCoy, and the other one who looks like he doesn't want to be here must be Robert Drake.   Jean is the lovely young woman traveling with the four of you.  So," So pause and looked in Scott's direction "That must make you Scott.  Charles does quite a bit of bragging about you young man."  Scott just looked down at his feet.  She just smiled in Scott's direction  "You're as shy as Charles said you were.  Well come along.  I let you all rest, freshen up, get something to eat and we can sit down and talk.  I think I have found something that may interest Charles."


            It amazed Scott at the change that a little rest could do for his team.  Bobby was much more his easygoing self.  Getting Hank away from his ill-tempered camel had done wonders for his mood.  Warren was still a little edgy but more relaxed.  The only one who seemed more jumpy was Jean.  The closer they had gotten to the ruins the jumpier she got.  Scott waited to get her alone to find out what was bothering her.

            "What's the matter Jean something bothering you?"  Scott asked quietly. 

            Jean looked around for a moment and nodded.  "I don't know what this place is but it shuts my telepathy down.  The whole ruins are like a dead zone to me and I don't like it.  I have never run in to a place that did this before.  I'm running blind and it makes me really jumpy.  Does the place do anything to you?"

            Scott nodded no.  "My beams are acting just fine.  It fact their stronger than they've been in a while thanks to all the sun I've absorbed the last couple of days.  If it shuts your telepathy does it shut down the Professor from being able to contact us?"

            Jean scowled at him "That's a very interesting question.  I know I'm blind but I don't know about the Professor.  He's a lot stronger than I am.  That's a very good question.  Every time I use my telekinesis it gives me a headache.   It's like this place was designed to be used against mutant powers like mine."

            It was Scott's time to scowl "That makes two of us down.  Bobby can't really use his powers out here very well because it's too dry.  The ruins or what ever is in them is causing you not to be able to use yours.  That leaves Hank, Warren and me if trouble shows up and the sands slow Hank down."

            Jean just smirked at him for a moment "Expecting trouble Slim?"

            Scott gave her a serious look "I'm team leader my job is to expect trouble even when we can't see it coming.  Let's go see what Dr. Johnston has to say about this place."


            "Apparently the ruins were built about two to three thousand years ago.  A young Queen was trying to put the end to a rein of terror caused by a slave boy.  The writings called him 'He would not die'.  Apparently she was desperate; nothing they could do ended this man's rein of terror.  No matter what her army tried they just could not kill him by any 'human means'."  Dr. Johnston sat explaining the story to them from a rubbing of a wall that she had taken before them arrived. 

She continued "Apparently this slave boy had fallen in love with her but she did not return the feelings.  So he had set out to destroy her kingdom.  He enslaved and transformed her father and then proceeded to make war on her.  Nothing could stop him. He slaughtered her armies.  So out of desperation she summoned the wisest minds of the time to come up with a plan to stop him and she built these ruins.  By the writings this place would seal him with all his victims for all eternity to wait for Ra's judgement.

I'm having a very real problem trying to get an exact date of these ruins because frankly I have no references to this dynasty anywhere else.  So it is making dating very difficult.  There is really nothing here to date it very well, no art, and no real artifacts to try to place the time frame.  Honestly I can't even tell if the ruins were even finished.  There are hints that there is more to the place than I've discovered.  I'll be excavating more of the site by tonight so maybe I'll learn more."

            Scott nodded at her and asked, "Would you mind if I hung around and watched?  I would just like to see what you uncover."

            Dr. Johnston nodded at him "I understand you something of a history bluff Mr. Summers.   So of course you're welcome to stick around the dig.  In fact all of you are invited to hang around."

            Bobby rolled his eyes.   Scott knew this was not his thing at all.  In fact Bobby had not wanted to step foot in the dessert.  Bobby had wanted to stay in the air conditioned hotel room watch TV in a foreign language and pig out on the box of Twinkies that he had some how managed to smuggle past customs.  Apparently Professor Xavier had filled in Dr. Johnston on Bobby's lack of interest in history.  When she looked in Bobby's direction she gave him a good-humored smirk.   Apparently she had caught him rolling his eyes.

            "Those of you not so interested in watching us excavate the site there is a oasis about three miles from here to the east.  It is very lovely and is a wonderful place to go swimming if you're interested.  The water comes straight from the mountains and I'm told it is quite cold."

            Scott just chuckled to himself.  That caught Bobby's attention.  Bobby perked up quite a bit and asked her "Did you say water?  Did you say Cold water?"  Dr. Johnson just nodded at Bobby.  Bobby looked in Scott's direction right away "Can we go please?"  Scott noticed that even Warren looked interested.

            Scott nodded at Bobby "You can go if Warren or Hank goes with you.  I don't want anyone going anywhere alone. "

            Bobby turned and gave Warren a very cute charming look. Scott chuckled to himself apparently Bobby was taking lessons. "Please, please can we go?  It might help charge my mutant ability.  I really want to go swimming please?"

            Warren gave Bobby a bemused look "Sure.  I would love to go swimming myself.  I'm only part bird.  I'm not that particle to dirt baths.  Water sounds wonderful."  Bobby just jumped around in glee.

            Hank broke it just then he had been silent all through Dr. Johnston's little narrative "I think I'll go with them.  I want to do some chemical analyses of the walls of this place.   I'm going to need some fresh water to do it and I don't want to use Dr. Johnston's drinking water. Coming Jean?"

            Jean shook her head "No I'm staying here.  I am not even going to try to walk in to that sun with my fair skin.   Unlike the rest of you I go from white to burn.  Besides" Jean rubbed her head "I have a start of a headache so I think I'll just go to my tent and lay down for a while."

            "Okay then" Scott jumped in "Hank Warren and Bobby are going to the oasis.  Jean and I are going to stay here." Scott pulled something out of his pocket and threw them to Warren "Here's the map and the compass.  I know with Warren's sense of direction you won't need it but take it with you anyway.   It will make me feel better and take extra water with you too.  Have fun."


            "You know most people would be crispy by now you know."  Dr. Johnston broke Scott's concentration as he watched her crew excavate the sight.

            Scott blinked at her "What was that?  I wasn't really paying attention."

            "I could tell.  The sun might be slowly cooking your brain.  I said that most people would be crispy by now sitting in the sun for as long as you have.  As far as I can tell you don’t have a touch of pink to you.  Your nose should be blood red by now.  You're still just sporting the tan you came with.  Care to give me the name of your sun block?  In fact my very dark skinned crew would like to know what brand is too.  Even they would have started feeling the effects of the dessert by now."  Dr. Johnston smirked at him as she took a sip of water from her canteen.

            Scott cursed himself.  He should have been more careful.  As light skinned as he was he should have known that him not burning would have drawn a few remarks.  He had just been too interested in what was going on at the dig to pay attention.  "Would you believe I absorb sunlight like a plant does?  So I don't burn?"

            Dr. Johnston just gave him a strange look.  "You should put a hat on.  Even if you absorb sunlight that fact doesn't eliminate the threat of heat stroke young man.  Charles tells me that you like Greek history what time?"

            Scott nodded to her "I like ancient Greek history.  I like to read about Alexander.  He was brilliant no one has ever figured supply lines like he did.  The man conquered the known world at the time and no one ever broke his supply lines. "

            Dr. Johnston gave Scott a bemused look.  "You like to read about the general.  I honestly prefer the king and diplomat myself.  Think about it.  No one ever broke his supply lines.  You tell me how much diplomacy that took dealing with different allies to keep them open.  I don't think they give the man enough credit.   Some parts of the world he conquered Alexander never lifted a sword.  Do you believe Alexander was right about self-mastery? "

            Scott just gave her a thoughtful look.  "Yes.  I honestly believe he was right about that.  How can you be expected to control an army if you can't control yourself?"

            Dr. Johnston gave him a very bemused look.  "You sound like Charles.  Self-mastery didn't always work for Alexander.  It was is faults he never mastered that was his downfall."

            "You're right.  Alexander's flaws were his down fall."  Scott responded "It's the same with all great leaders.  Most leaders build their own downfall.  Most times a leader's greatest strengths are their greatest weaknesses too.  Take Alexander's Calvary tactics for example.  They made him unstoppable.  If someone had figured out to use those same tactics against him it would have dismantled his army."

            Dr. Johnston smirked at Scott.  "I'm starting to understand why Charles brags so much.  I can tell you keep him on his toes."

            "Dr. Johnston come quickly!  I think we found something!"  One of the voices of Dr. Johnston crew suddenly rang out.


It appeared that they found a door in the floor leading to a lower chamber.  "How long will it take you to uncover the door completely?"  Dr. Johnston asked her crew leader.

"We could have the door completely uncovered by nightfall Doctor, but men say that we shouldn't touch this door."  The crew chief said in broken English "They say by uncovering the door we will call 'He who will not die' wrath upon our heads.  They say that his chief scribe knows all and sees all and he will come."

Dr. Johnston just rolled her eyes "I'm not afraid of a Mummy coming after me.  Tell the men to continue."

The crew chief didn't look too happy but nodded anyway.  "I will tell them but I can not guarantee that they will continue.  They are afraid that his creatures will come."

"Tell them to proceed crew chief."  Dr. Johnston stated.  She looked at Scott "Where were we?  Alexander?"

Scott just smiled at her "Could we finish this later Dr. Johnston.  I want to go back to camp and check on Jean and go get my hat.  If that's okay with you?"

Dr. Johnston just nodded "Of course.  I would like to finish our conversation.  I'm going to stay here and watch over my crew."


When Scott got back to camp he immediately went to go check on Jean.  He stood outside where she and Dr. Johnston were staying.  He knocked on the tent flap.

"Marvel Girl…I came to check on you to see if you need anything.  It's me Scott.  I mean Slim, no I mean Scott."  (I have definitely been in the sun to long today.)  Scott thought dryly to himself. (It's starting to cook my brain.)  When no answer came in from within the tent he knocked again. 

"Jean are you alright?  I'm coming in."  (Please let her be dressed.) Scott thought to himself, (I don't need anymore-dirty dreams about long legs and red hair.)

When he entered the tent he found Jean lying on her cot apparently asleep.  At least it seem that way until a close up inspection revealed a feverish flush to her cheeks.  She didn't look good either.

"Jean wake up.  Are you alright?"  Scott asked gently as he tried to shake her awake.  She felt feverish too.  It took a while but Jean finally started responding.

"Slim what are you doing here?"  Jean asked groggily.

Scott looked down at her with a very concerned expression on his face "I came to check and see how you are feeling."

"My headache is worst and I also feel lousy why?"  Jean croaked out.

"You're running a fever too."  Scott stated looking down at her "Tonight when Warren and the others come back, Warren is flying you out of here.  I'm not taking any chances and I'm not taking any arguments."

Jean just nodded at him and that told Scott exactly how lousy she was feeling.  Most times she objected to things she thought was preferred treatment.

"I'll be right back Marvel Girl…"


"I'll be right back Jean.  I am going to go get something from my bag.  I'll be right back."  Jean just nodded to him and started drifting back to sleep.

Scott came back in a little while later carrying his pack.  He came over and laid it next to Jean.  That's what snapped her attention back to what's going on.

"What do you carry around in that thing anyway?  You take it with you everywhere we go."

Scott looked down at here and said, "I just carry what we might need, medkit, extra supplies."

"Boy Scout Manual?"  Jean asked dryly

Scott looked at her amused "I have on of those too.  Never know when you might need to tie a knot.  Besides in Hanks and Warren's hands the book dangerous.  As long as I'm carrying it I know that they aren't using the knowledge it contains against Bobby.  Besides I have some Tylenol in here and I want you to take some for your temp."  Scott handed her a couple of tablets.  "Now take it easy and rest.  I'll stay with you until the others arrive I promise."

For some odd reason Jean felt very safe when he promised her that as she drifted to sleep.


It was a loud noise that snapped Scott out of the light sleep he had drifted in too.  He noted it was after dark now.  He had spent the entire afternoon in Jean's tent.  She wasn't any better but she wasn't any worse either.  Scott had spent most of the day just sitting with her, and worrying about her.  Could it be this place that is doing it to her?  Scott wanted to get her as far from this place as possible just in case.  Where was Warren he should have been back with Bobby and Hank by now? 

The noise that woke Scott up sounded very much like a human scream?  When another came just like it Scott decided it was definitely a human scream.  He was torn.  Should he stay here or stay with Jean who was still sleeping?  Jean was sick and fairly defenseless right now.

"Jean wake up."  Scott whispered very quietly.  He shook her gently.  "Jean wake up.  I need to go check something out.  I want you awake when I do it."  Jean just groaned.  "Jean please wake up."

"What is it?"  Jean grumbled groggily.

"I don't know.  So I have go check it out.  I need you to wake up.  I think Dr. Johnston and her crew might be in trouble."  Another inhuman scream came through the dark and this one snapped Jean a little more aware.

"What was that?"  She asked.

"I don't know that's what I wanted to go check out.  I need you awake before I can go.  I need you to stay low and stay out of sight while I go check it out."

"I'm coming with you."  Jean stated.

"NO you're not.  You're going to stay right here and stay low.  It's probably tomb raiders and I can take care of them by myself from a distance.  If I don't come back, I need you to stay low and make sure they don't ambush the others when they come in to camp.  So I need you to stay here."  Jean started to object.  "Jean listen to me.   Your telepathy is void here.   You’re sick.  Right now in the field you'll be more of a hindrance than an asset.  If you were Hank, Warren or Bobby I would tell you to stay here too."

"Professor Xavier says we should never go in to the field with out back up." Jean objected.

"I'll be careful."  Jean just glared at him and sighed.

"If I was feeling better I would kick your butt.  For even thinking about attempting this."

"I promise you I will be careful.  I'm just going to scout around and see what is going on."



Scott proceeded to the dig sight very carefully.  There was very little light to see by, dark of the moon.  The thought didn't make him feel any better.  'Well if I can't see them they can't see me either.'  Scott thought dryly to himself wishing he had just a little light to see what was in front of him.

The first person that he came upon was one of the guards that Dr. Johnston had hired to help guard the dig.  He was quite dead and had died quite horribly.  When Scott had flipped him over.   The guard's blood was everywhere.  Scott honestly thought he would remember the man's expression forever.  No artist could ever have captured the complete look of pain and horror that the man had managed to capture on his face in his last moments.  Scott fought the bile that was burning the back of his throat.   He was also fighting the urge to empty the contents of his stomach on the desert sands.  Scott instead got up from where he was kneeling by the man.  Like in a trance proceeded to the main area of the dig.

When he got there everyone was dead.  Scott gently closed Dr. Johnston's dead staring eyes. It took only a good look at the blood-splattered area to confirm that everyone was dead.  Scott could tell that by not looking to close.  Not many people could survive a complete dismemberment.  Scott had seen death before but nothing like the scene before him.  For the first time in his life Scott was very happy to be alone.    No one saw him empty the contents of his stomach in to the desert sands.


"I have a quick question for you Hank."  Warren announced, "What could screw up a birds sense of direction?"

Hank just blinked at him.  "I had a feeling that this was the same sand dune we climbed two hours ago. "  Hank continued giving Warren a thoughtful look.  "There are several different theories on how a bird can tell direction.  One is that a bird uses the magnetic field and can always tell magnetic north.  Another theory believes that some birds use the sun and light to sense what direction they are going.   I drift towards the magnetic field theory myself.  So anything that can produce or scramble a magnetic field can mess up a birds sense of direction."

Bobby gave them both a thoughtful look. "You guys think that Magneto here?  He's the only one we know of that plays with the magnetic field."

"Oh that thought just makes me feel even better."  Warren grumbled.

"Have you looked at the compass?"  Bobby asked.  "Slim showed me that the compass just spins out of control when Magneto is around.  He told me that Magneto can hide from scanners and telepaths but he can't hide from the compass.  The closer he is the faster it spins around.  It always gives him away."

Hank gave Bobby a considering look.  "He's right.  Magneto due to his magnetic field would cause a compass to spin out of control.  It would be a simple way to determine if Magneto was in the area."

Warren pulled the compass out of his pocket.  "It's not spinning.  Good news I guess but my instincts are telling me that it's not right.  If my sense of direction is off so is the compass."

"That just leaves us lost in the dessert with only three days worth of supplies with no real idea where we are."  Hank stated quite calmly "At least we have plenty of water."

Warren nodded in response.  "I say we stake camp here and wait for the stars to come out.  We can navigate by them.  I have the map.  Hank and I can try to figure out our exact coordinates.  It's a good thing that Slim insisted we take the map. Bobby you're serving as watch.  Keep your eyes open for trouble."

Hank nodded in agreement, "It would be the best course of action.  The stars will help not only navigate but calculate our coordinates too.  Though this whole situation bothers me."

Bobby gave them both a considering look.  "You think we've been setup?"

"Like dominoes."  Warren responded.  "The whole think shouts set up to me.  It is just to damned convenient."

"Do you think Dr. Johnston has anything to do with it?" Bobby asked.

Warren gave Bobby a considering glance.  "Maybe.  The professor trusts her though.  Professor Xavier rarely misjudges people."  Warren looked over at Hank's direction and asked.  "What do you think?"

Hank looked considering for a moment before he spoke.  "I think if we're waiting until sunset to do anything so is the person who set us up.  Who ever did this is making sure that we can't find our way back to the dig.  For what reasons I can't speculate."

Warren scowled.  "Wonderful.  That's means we can expect trouble after dark.  That means that Red and Slim have trouble coming their way and we have no means of warning them."

"True."  Hank added in "Logic would dictate that we worry about our own situation first.  We can't help the two of them if we're dead.  Survival is our first priority.  A view from the air might help us locate where we are.  If not at least it will help us find some defendable high ground."

Warren just nodded.  "I'll scout discretely from the air.  Bobby is watch and you Hank try to figure where we are.  We have until dark people lets make the time count."



            Scott was carefully making it back to camp when he got jumped.  All he had managed to see was a shadow in the darkness.  If he had been a normal human, he never would have seen it coming.  When he had reached for the switch to his visor, and shouted a warning of freeze, whoever it was jumped him.  They moved fast too.  Whatever it was moved a lot faster than even Hank at his best.  Scott didn't even manage to get even one shot in before who ever it was came at him fast.  As they leaped at him Scott grabbed them, rolled with the momentum and flung them as far as he could manage. 

Whoever it was wasn't even phased.  In fact they even landed on their feet.  That throw would have sent Hank sprawling.  As Scott threw them, they had managed to slash him, right across the throat and chin.  They had meant that to be a killing blow.  Scott knew he was going to need stitches.  That hit was going to leave some ugly bruises too.  Scott had a very bad feeling he was in big trouble.

            Whoever it was leaped from the shadows again.  Scott didn't have time to reach for the visor.  Whatever it was they moved fast and hit twice as hard.  When they connected Scott felt a couple ribs crack.  Suddenly Scott was looking up at a couple of predatory cat like green eyes that were looking down at him.  Those eyes belonged to a woman.  She wasn't heavy enough and the body contours were all wrong for her to be a man.  At that moment Scott wished that he had some better light.   He really wished he could tell what she looked like.  It was always nice to see what the person that was kicking your butt, looked like.

 Scott took advantage of the moment that she was looking down studying him and threw her hard.  Scott threw her in the direction of a rock formation.  She hit it hard. Scott thought he heard a couple of her ribs crack this time.  She was still for about a second.  She came to her feet shaking it off.  Scott had the strangest feeling that she was very pleased he got the jump on her.  Her voice purred through the darkness.  "Your better than I thought you would be. You are in deed worthy of the honor of being father of the chosen one Cyclops."

            Scott took a defensive stand and tried to fight off his surprise. "Who are you?" Scott demanded.

She slowly got to her feet and started circling him.  " I have been studying you Cyclops.  I, like you, am the first among students.  I am that which will survive, a rider of the Storm.  I am here to test you.  To see if you’re indeed worthy of the honor that my master will one day give you."

Scott narrowed his eyes.  "What honor?"

She smiled at him.  "You will one day test my master and prove to all he is that which will survive.  You will serve as his vessel and give him new life."  Her eyes narrowed and she purred out the next words.  They made the hair on the back of Scott's neck stick up.

 "Remember Cyclops, all great leaders will plant the seeds of their own destruction.  I've seen how you look at the Grey woman.  She has to be completely blind not to see how you feel about her.  Telepaths are so humanly blind sometimes.  They think because they understand some ones thoughts they understand that person.  You have mastered your thoughts haven't you Cyclops?  It was something you learned to do survive.   It's those human urges that whisper to you in the middle of the night you have a harder time wrestling with.   Tell me Cyclops will you be Lancelot that rips Xavier's happy little Camelot apart?    Will you act on them?  Knowing what you do about how Worthington feels about her?   Have you ever considers what seeds you've planted?"

Scott responded to her question by trying to blast her.  She dodged his optic beam easily.  She leaped at him before he could get another shot in.  She hit him hard, knocked the wind out of him and pinned him hard.  Scott definitely felt some ribs crack this time.  She was a lot stronger than she looked.  Scott was once again looking up in to a set of green eyes. 

She purred in his ear "I just love a man of action.  Will you beg for your life Cyclops?"  Scott responded to that question by just glaring at her from behind his visor.  She purred in his ear.  "Courageous and cute too.  You are indeed worthy."  She licked the blood off of Scott's chin and his open wounds in a very seductive manner.  "You will not die tonight Cyclops.  You have won your life tonight and that of your female companion.  I won't kill her.  Someday she will be my test."  She stuck her head between his chin and his shoulder and took a deep whiff and purred in a low seductive purr.  "I am going to enjoy the duty I will someday be asked to perform."

Right then Scott felt a claw jab him.  A cold feeling suddenly started creeping up his arm.  Those green eyes looking down at him coolly studying him was very far away.  Darkness was closing around his vision.  The strange thing was his last thought was how the green eyes looking down at him reminded him of Jean's eyes.  Suddenly the darkness closed around his vision completely and Scott felt awareness slip away.


"Slim please wake up.  Don't leave me alone in the dark.  Just open your eyes and say something."  Those were the first words that drifted in to Scott's awareness.  Someone was shaking him gently and saying something to him.  He felt he was lying on a chunk of ice.  He managed a little groan when whoever it was came in contact with his cracked ribs. 

"Slim?  Can you hear me?  Open your eyes please?"  Scott flinched as he opened his eyes to a soft green light.  (One of glow sticks from my backpack.)  So part of his brain was starting to work again.  When he finally managed to open his eyes again he was looking up at Jean concerned face.  She was deathly pale and had a lump on the side of her forehead.

"You look like hell."  Scott muttered looking up at her.  His mouth felt like someone had stuffed cotton in to it.

Jean blinked at him and started laughing it had an edge of hysteria to it. "I look like hell.  You haven't got a good look at yourself yet."

"If I look as bad as I feel.  I don’t think I want to."  Scott muttered flinching as he tried to sit up, broken and cracked ribs protesting every inch of the way.  Scott realized he was shivering and wondered for a moment why.  Was it the drug, the beating, shock, or lying on a stone cold floor for an undisclosed period of time?  (Probably a little of everything) he thought to himself.  He took a closer look at Jean.  "Are you alright?"

Jean nodded to him.  "They jumped me and hit me upside the head.  I never saw whomever it was coming.  When I came too I was lying next to you.  We're in a chamber of some type.   I tried to wedge the door open while you were still out telekinetically.  I didn't have any luck.  We're trapped but they were nice enough to throw your backpack down with us."   Jean studied him a little more closely and asked, "Are you all right?"

Scott just nodded to her.  "I'll live.  It's always nice to get your ass kicked once in a while.  It helps keep you real.  Are we still at the dig?"

Jean nodded to him "I think so.  I wasn't out long enough for whoever it was to move us far."

            Scott considered that statement.  "Okay that means we're probably underground.  If we're trapped air is our number one priority.  Finding away out would be next.  You tried to wedge the doors open and that didn't work.  I'll take a look around and try to figure out how the chamber is set up.  Maybe we can use my beams and either blast or tunnel our way out."

            Jean just gave him a strange look.  "Do you think the others are alright?"

            Scott gave her a considering look.  "Honestly?  I don't know.  There are three of them.  That makes them a harder target.  If it makes you feel better, if I had to send anyone in to a situation where there might be an ambush, I would send those three.  Hank thinks quickly on his feet.  Warren performs wonderfully when it's a situation that calls for just reacting.   Bobby will follow orders with out any questions.  The three of them are a team and work together very well.  That leaves a lot in their favor."

            Jean considered what he had just said and responded.  "They walked right through us didn't they?"

            Scott just nodded at her "Yes they did.  We learn from it.  Right now though survival is our number one priority.  We can't help the others.  Thinking about it is a useless waste of effort that will take away your ability to think clearly.  Thinking clearly will keep you alive, emotionalism won't.  Talking like this is wasting air."

            Jean narrowed her eyes at him "You know Scott sometimes I think the Professor gave the wrong code name of 'Iceman' to Bobby.  Sometimes you can really piss me off."

 Scott gave her a cold look right back.  "Are you going to help me find away to get out of here or not?  If not, this useless chatter is using up our air.  We need to determine there's a airflow coming in to this room."  Jean gave him an angry look and nodded at him.


They stuck at dark like Hank said they would.  While it was still light Hank had managed to help them find there way back to the oasis.  At least there they had plenty of water and defendable high ground.  The three of them had retreated to a high rock formation overlooking the oasis.   Warren could even see the dig from this lookout.  Warren suddenly caught Hank smirking to himself.  "Care to share the joke?"  Warren asked.

Hank blinked at him.  "I just was thinking Slim would be very pleased with us right now.  We're operating right out of his strategy tactics of 'Always take the high ground.  It gives you the tactical advantage over your opponents'."

 Warren smirked back at Hank.  "Your right he would be.  We'll keep this between ourselves.  Think of the ego trip he'd go on if Slim thought we actually listened to him."

Hank just nodded at him and chuckled lowly.  "Oh my stars and garters yes.  Just think of the ego trip.  He actually might say something outside of a battle or a danger room situation for a change.  We'd never shut him up."

"If we get out of this alive.  I think we owe him dinner."  Warren announced thoughtfully.

Hank smirked at him again.  "That opens a new set of problems on how to get him out of the house and away from the danger room."  Hank suddenly narrowed his eyes "Do you really think someone is out there?"

"I know there is.  Right now it's who makes the first move."  Warren replied quietly.

Right then Bobby came quickly shuffling over.  "I think I saw a couple of shadows moving up the hill."

Warren nodded at him.  "Apparently this is it.  Remember the plan people."


Scott made a few determinations while he looked around.  One they did have air coming in.  Though he couldn't find out from exactly where.  Two the place wasn't just one chamber.  It was a huge system of underground chambers.  The place was a lot larger than he first thought.  Three there seemed to be no way out.  Scott honestly didn't think that he could blast his way through with his optic beam.  Four he had to get Jean out of here as quickly as possible.

As the hours had ticked by Jean had become less and less coherent.  It had started with her fever coming back.  As far as Scott could tell her temperature was starting to reach dangerously high levels.  For a while she had at least followed conversations.  It had started with her talking to 'Annie' and Jean repeating out loud how sorry she was.  That the accident had been all her fault because she hadn't listen to her parents about that corner.  Then she had started talking to other people.  When Scott had asked whom she was talking to Jean had responded by saying "Don't you see them?"  Then Jean had gone right back to talking to them like Scott wasn't even there.  She kept asking them to leave her alone.  For the last hour or so Jean had just laid not responding to anything.  Scott went over every couple of minutes to check for a pulse and tried to get her to respond.   Scott was truly starting to worry that Jean was lapsing in to a coma.   

Scott was busy looking at a carving on a wall of the Cyclops merging with another hideous monster.  It was a truly horrible scene.  The expression on the Cyclops' face was going to give Scott nightmares for days.   (Well,) Scott thought dryly to himself (it really balances out the scene with the Phoenix eating the planet on the other side of the chamber.  And Hank says that modern art is scary.)  When Jean's voice called out weakly "Slim?"

"Right here."  Scott called back as he hurried over to her side.  "How are you feeling?"

Jean just blinked at him trying to pull him in to focus in her fever-dazed mind.  She just grabbed on to Scott like he was her last lifeline, not even answering his question.  There were tears rolling down her eyes.  "They said I'm going to die here.  That I'm going to be in the dark alone forever."

Scott cradled her in his arms gently "Well their wrong.  We are getting out of here.  Do you understand me?"  Jean just nodded at him.  "Tell them to back off because you're not listening to them.  I'm your field commander and you're listening to me.  No one is going to die today my orders.  If they have a problem with that they can take it up with me.  Do you understand me Marvel Girl?"  Jean nodded at him again "Good.  Now just relax.  I'm working on a way to get us out of here."  Jean didn't respond but started relaxing in his arms.

Scott for just a moment thought he saw a ghostly image of a little girl standing before them smirking evilly down at Jean.  The ghostly little girl reached for Jean.  (BACK OFF!) Was the thought Scott projected at her with all projection techniques that Professor Xavier had thought him, (You can't have her she's mine!  She's not going anywhere with you!)   The little girl just blinked at him startled and vanished.  (Now that I've settled that argument.  I can concentrate on finding away out of here.)  Scott thought to himself. 

He went and pulled his canteen out of his backpack.    The answer came to him studying the canteen.  "I'm so stupid."  Scott announced out loud.  "Water's the answer.  The nearest source of water is three miles away.  They needed to rig something to get water to the workers underground.  Hang on Jean, I think I just figured a way to get us out of here."


It took Scott a good half an hour to find what he was looking for.  "Aqueduct." Scott said out loud to himself inspecting two marks on the floor where the base of it would have been.  "They couldn't bring it down here at a very steep angle.  They would lose to much water."  Scott did some quick calculations in his head.  "That would mean that this was where the aqueduct came in to the chamber.  Hopefully they didn't close it off in traditional Egyptian fashion by placing a carefully cut, couple ton granite slab over the hole.  I'm betting that since they didn't make this chamber airtight, they never had a chance to finish it."  Scott looked over at Jean's unconscious form.  "Let's hope I'm right about this.  Trying to push up a couple ton granite slab with my optic beam.   All the while trying to climb up carrying you could prove to be a very interesting climb."


After Bobby had spotted the shadows going up the hill.  They had suddenly vanished.  Hank and Warren just stayed low and waited.

'Surprise is the best way to get the tactical advantage over an opponent.  In those situations patience is your largest asset.  Who ever moves first gives their location and their advantage way'.  Scott's voice whispered in Warren ear.  What had surprised Warren was that it was Scott's voice talking to him and not the Professor's.  (Then again, military tactics were not really part of the Professor's lesson plan.) 

Neither side had moved for a while.  (It's going to come down to who cracks first.  Come on I know you're out there.  Just make your damned move.)  Warren thought to himself.  Hank was as still as a stone.  Bobby hadn't moved at all in a half an hour.  As far as Warren could remember that was a record for Bobby staying still in one place.

Right then a voice rang out through the night "I am horseman Death.  There is nowhere you can hide my young friends.  You are just prolonging the inevitable."  Hank and Warren exchanged the same look of 'Bingo. We have them now.'


"To think you made fun of me for having the Boy Scout manual."  Scott grumbled as he looked for another handhold on the wall. "I happened to have found a knot that worked quite nicely to tie you to me Miss Grey."  Jean still wasn't responding.  She was tied to Scott's back as he made the difficult climb up the rather narrow passage.   He was carefully carving handholds with his optic beam.  The going was slow, and the angle was pretty damned steep. 

"Did I happen to mention Marvel Girl that since you arrived you have made my life very complicated?"  The last time Scott had checked Jean had officially been in a coma.  Scott was just taking to her as he climbed up.   Hoping to keep her from slipping too deep in to that coma.  "When it was just the four of us life was much simpler.  Before you walked in the door, the four of us were like a family.   Closer than brothers in fact, then you came and things changed.  Beautiful, intelligent, spirited, what wasn't there for a guy to fall for and guess what Jean?  All four of us did.  If anyone of us ever act on those feeling guess what?  It would rip this team apart.  Rip the only family I ever had apart.  In fact, over you, were one of the few times the Professor and I ever had a knock out drag out fight about something.  Well, except about my bike but you don't know about that.  I wanted him to turn around and send you right back home.  I was scared for what you could do to this team.  What you could do to my family."

Scott carefully reached for another handhold and continued softly.  "I was scared of what you could do to me.  Growing up I learned to look at people not as people if that makes any sense?  In the orphanage where I grew up, kids were just faces, not human beings.  Later on the streets when I was scamming pool for my next meal.   I never thought of a mark as human.  You just kept your mind on the money.   If you don't let yourself feel no one can get close enough to hurt you.  You came in and started changing all of that for me.   I have no idea what I'm going to do about it."  Scott suddenly got a very tender look over his face and tried to look over his shoulder in Jean's direction.  "I'm starting to see human beings again.  So tell me Miss Grey what am I going to do about you?  Better yet, what am I going to do about me?"


Warren never really understood exactly what happened when 'Death' attacked.  Later on he still wouldn't remember it very well.   Death had gone straight for Bobby first.  He had spouted out 'My touch brings death' or something like that.  Watching him close in on Bobby with his hand glowing, Warren had just reacted.  Warren did a flying tackle and knocked Death away from Bobby.  "So we have someone in a hurry to meet his God." was all Death had responded.  While Warren had been tousling on the ground with Death, Warren's bare arm had come in contact with that creature's glowing hand.

It had been the most agonizing experience of Warren life.  He had felt a scream escape from his throat.  From that moment on it had all been instinct.  Warren had used his good arm and swung at the creature hard with all his super strength.  He hadn't pulled it and when it connected with the creature's head there had been a sickening crack as bones gave.  The creature had form had gone flying from the force of Warren's blow.   The creature form sailed right over the edge of the cliff.

Warren thought he heard through his haze of pain a voice he didn't recognize call out "He killed Death."  Warren staggered to his feet and made his way to the edge of the cliff.  He couldn't see anything looking down in to that pitch-black void.  He felt his head spinning and some part of him registered that he couldn't use the arm the creature had touched.  Warren felt like throwing up and very dizzy.

From a great distance he heard Hank's voice calling to Bobby to come help him.  That's when Warren's knees had given way and the world had gone completely black.


"Scott are you alright?"  Hank McCoy called towards his friend standing on the edge of the roof of the building they were staying in.  Hank had to admit the view of Cairo was breath taking.  Scott had been spending quite a bit of time up here by himself lately. 

"I'm fine Hank."  Scott replied with out looking at him.  Scott continued to look out at the setting sun behind the city.  "How are Jean and Warren doing?"

"They're both going to be alright.  Jean is starting to grumble about having to stay in bed.  I'm ordered to pass on if you don't go visit soon it’s going to be your head.  Warrens arm is healing.  He even managed to move his fingers today.  The professor and I think he will regain complete use of it.  He's still rather upset about what happened on that cliff.  The authorities never found a body.  So I honestly don't know if our assailant is dead."

Scott just nodded and said, " For Warren's sake I hope we never do.  You and Bobby did a good job out there."

Hank just nodded "Thanks.  I really can't take credit for it.  After Death went off the cliff the others just ran away.  Warren really deserves the credit.  All I did was pull Warren's butt out of the dessert and keep the wound on his arm clean.   Bobby says next time that we want to visit a dessert he's staying home.  I'm up here because I'm worried about you though." 

Scott just shrugged but didn't look up from the sunset. "A few stitches, a few cracked ribs, no big deal.  I've had worse.  Even I need my ass kicked once in a while.  Keeps my head from getting too big.  Jean and Warren are the two you should be worried about."

Hank just blinked and tried again. "Jean and Warren are going to be fine.  It's you I'm worried about.  Penny for your thoughts?"

Scott turned and smirked at him suddenly. "They're pretty deep.  They'll cost you a lot more than a penny."

"If I think they're worth more," Hank responded, "I'll buy you diner."

Scott just sighed.  "Camelot.  You know the legend?"

Hank just nodded.  "Of course.  King Arthur, Merlin, everyone has heard of it."

Scott gave him a serious look "Do you remember how it ended?"

Hank nodded at him "Mordred, Arthur's bastard son, and he killed each other."

Scott chuckled humorously "Yes that was the ending.  I was thinking about how it all spiraled down.   Lancelot gave in to the passion between him and Guinevere.  He betrayed and destroyed everything he fought for his entire life giving in to that passion.   It was human weaknesses that destroyed Camelot, Hank.  Arthur's, Guinevere's, Lancelot's those urges that whisper to you in the middle of the night.   The ones you can't control.   That's brought the dream down.

Hank absorbed what Scott had said for a moment.  "I owe you dinner.   I think your missing the point.  Those urges and weaknesses we struggle against are what make us human.  The struggle against them makes us stronger for it."

Scott just took in what Hank for a moment and suddenly changed the topic.  "Dinner sounds great if you're buying."

"Then let's get going.  Maybe I can convince Bobby to try some discussing foreign dish.  Then laugh at his expression when I inform him what he just ate.  You in?"  Hank announced gleefully with a look of evil mischief lighting his face.

"Sure why not?" Scott announced. 

As he was following Hank off the roof, Scott spared on last look over his shoulder towards the sunset.  He heard her words whispered through his head again. 

 (You have mastered your thoughts haven't you Cyclops?  It was something you learned to do survive.   It's those human urges that whisper to you in the middle of the night you have a harder time wrestling with.   Tell me Cyclops will you be Lancelot that rips Xavier's happy little Camelot apart?)


"Are you sure we must destroy this place."  The young prince that one-day be known as only Black Panther asked the wise one.  "We are destroying so much wisdom of the old ones.  There is so much we can learn from this place."

The old one nodded sadly "There is to much knowledge here.  We are not ready for it and it must never fall in to the wrong hands.  The only way to guarantee it never gets out is to destroy this place.  The twelve are starting to gather and he will awaken soon.  Only then will we see if they have the strength to make the sacrifices that must be made.  Until then the knowledge this place contains must never fall in to the wrong hands.  The balance must be kept my Prince."

Black Panther nodded to him and barked out the order to his men.  "Set the charges.  We must leave no evidence of this place.  After we detonate the charges I will make the long journey to The Wind Rider's village.  There I will ask her to call on the winds to return what is left of this accursed place back to the sands."


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