"Well. Ah guess this is the place."
Duh, Rogue, Jubilee thought wearily. They had landed near the spot where Wolvie's signature had terminated. Clearing away some abandoned wheat left to grow wild by some negligent farmer they had discovered a large camouflaged opening fit neatly into the ground. It was made to slide into two doors and open towards the sides.
A thought occurred to Jubilee. Not only was having an underground lair tactically ideal for the Dark Riders but it would wreck havoc on Storm's claustrophobia. "Hey 'Roro? You gonna be OK down there?"
Storm met her eyes and smiled. "I shall be fine, child, as long as I know that Wolverine is down there as well, perhaps suffering even more than I."
Her words of confidence filled Jubilee with such an intense feeling of pride and devotion that she thought she might burst. This is gonna happen, she thought. We're comin' Wolvie, don't give up yet.
Cyclops turned to the girl. "Jubilee, I want you to stay-"
"No way Cyke," she interrupted. "I'm here for the duration. Those slimes have my Wolvie, and I aim ta get 'im back."
Cyclops looked at the teen for a long moment, as if measuring her will to stay. Finally, he let out an exasperated sigh and began speaking again, his voice resonating with the "Boy Scout" tone he used when giving orders.
"All right people, listen up. Our fatal flaw last time was that we underestimated our opponents. And now we're on their turf, and our numbers are cut in half. We cannot afford any screw-ups! Our goal here is to locate and extricate Wolverine. There will be no personal vendettas, just get him and get out." During this last remark he looked pointedly at Rogue and Jubilee. Well, gestured anyway. Who can tell what he's lookin' at with that stupid visor of his.
"However, if and when we do run into the Dark Riders or there like, use whatever force necessary. Do not hold back." Jubilee noted the way the glass of his visor glowed a fiery red as he spoke. She knew for a fact that he wouldn't be restraining himself much at all.
"Any questions? Good. Rogue, ring the doorbell and see if anyone's home."
"You got it sugah!"
Muscles used to much harder labor ripped through the metal doors as if they were made out of crepe paper. Metal screeched too loud in the silent meadow as it bent and tore under Rogue's will. Jubilee winced. Well, there goes the element of surprise!
Storm conjured up a gale-force wind inside the doorway, blowing away any would-be attackers. In the next breath, Jubilee felt herself lifted into the air and swept gently into the opening by another, softer current.
As the darkness of the shaft overcame her, Storm took a deep breath to steady herself. It tasted stale and recycled. This place has never seen the light of the sun, she thought irrationally. Taking several deep breaths, she braced and opened her opaque white eyes.
The rays of light coming from the broken door illuminated her current position. They were in what appeared to be a hallway receding into four different directions, like a compass. The adjoining halls grew dark about ten feet from their beginning. Storm could not see deep inside and was very aware that they could lead to anywhere-or to anyone.
What I would not give Charles or Jean here now. A telepath would prove invaluable. We have no idea where we are and Goddess only knows what we are walking into.
"Cyclops?" Storm whispered. "Perhaps you should contact the others through your psychic rapport with Jean. They should be notified of our situation in case we require back-up. And I am sure that they would be greatly relieved at the news of Wolverine's-"
"Already taken care of Storm, except I didn't go through Jean. I called the Professor while we were still in the Blackbird. He's volunteered to mentally 'boost' our mini-Cerebro's link to the main computer. That should give us a wider range and a more powerful beam.
"As to why I didn't contact Jean...She wasn't...feeling too well when we left. I didn't feel it necessary to bother her." Storm was a little taken aback by Scott's dismissive tone, and then she realized what had sparked the words. There was still a high chance that this was a trap, and the Wolverine was not here at all, or that what they would find would be...less than what they hoped for. Jean had gone into shock the first time Logan disappeared, what would happen to her if it happened again? No, it was best to not tell her until they were home, safe and sound- all of them.
"Okay," Cyclops said in a hushed commanding tone. "We've got two options. One: pick a direction at random and hope for the best or two: we split up."
"That'd be suicide!"
"I know, Rogue...Jubilee, does Cerebro have anything to say?"
She hunched over the little box. "Not a peep. Maybe it's broken-hey!"
"What?! the other three said in unison.
"It didn't detect a thing two seconds ago and now look!" Jubilee straightened and held out the computer for the X-Men to see. Set on "silent alarm", the screen flashed a brilliant green when mutant energy was present. As far as Storm knew, it had sti ll been searching for Wolverine's signature.
Jubilee did a slow circle holding the mini-Cerebro unit in front of her. The blinking intensified to a hectic beat when she passed the tunnel directly in ahead of the entrance.
"That was far too convenient," Storm whispered. "Showing us where to go just as we ask? It must be a trap. Charles could not have possibly boosted the Cerebro unit this quickly."
"Ah don't care what it is, we gotta do somethin'! Us standin' out here in th' open's gonna be like spottin' Beast's bald spot if they come after us!"
Jubilee joined the cluster of anxious X-Men again. "We gotta move Cyke."
Cyclops peered into the forbidding passage. "All right. I want everyone to be on their toes. I'll take point. Rogue, cover the rear. Jubilee..." A corner of his moth irked up. "Be a flashlight."
"Did Fearless Leader just make a joke?"
"Hey, Cyke made a funny! Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse? 'Ye, and the spandexed one shall speak of chickens crossing roads and fire shall fall from-'"
"What? Geez, you guys're no fun at all."