Soul Killer

by Richard Lee Byers

Cover art by famed artist Richard Corben

Interior illustrations by acclaimed Marvel Comics artist Leonardo Manco

Available now from Byron Preiss Multimedia and Berkley Boulevard

When Rogue and Storm disappear on a mission to Natchez, their fellow X-Men are naturally concerned, but they have no idea how dire the situation really is. Using the possessed Rogue as his tool, the demonic sorcerer Belasco has finally found a way to return the monstrous Elder Gods to Earth. In a matter of hours, the world as we know it will cease to be.

This tale of superheroes vs. the supernatural reunites what just may be the greatest X-Men lineup of all--Wolverine, Cyclops, Phoenix, Rogue, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Shadowcat, and Amanda Sefton--for a desperate race against time. But with the Federal authorities hunting them and Belasco's magic hindering their every move, even their powers may not be enough to prevent the impending holocaust. And so they accept an offer of help from a most unlikely source: their old enemy Dracula, Lord of the Vampires. But will he prove to be the ally they need to prevent the enslavement of all humanity, or a deadly traitor in their midst?

AN EXCERPT FROM X-Men: Soul Killer

Rogue began to take stock of herself, and what she found sent a thrill of elation singing through her. She was many times stronger than Helen had ever been, and her power to wrest away the thoughts and capacities of any victim made the other woman's simple blood-drinking seem a paltry thing indeed. She'd never lusted to use her gift before, indeed, she would have paid any price to be rid of it, but suddenly such squeamishness was inconceivable. Now she hungered to devour someone's else vitality, needed it as a parched man needed water.

Fortunately, sustenance was near at hand, in the form of prey whose superhuman energies would invigorate her as no ordinary victim's could. Smiling in anticipation, her fangs lengthening even though she didn't need them anymore, she pulled off her remaining glove and let it drop. Then she soared upward toward Storm, who was still concentrating so fiercely on undoing the master's handiwork that she evidently hadn't even noticed the confrontation unfolding under her feet.

Lightning flared, illuminating Ororo's lovely, frowning features. Beholding them, Rogue halted her ascent in confusion and dismay.

Storm was her friend. She didn't want to hurt her. She didn't want to use her power on anyone. Or rather, she did--the urge seethed inside her--but only because something was wrong with her.

Though her mind was in disarray, she dimly comprehended what was happening to her, because she'd experienced something similar before. Helen's essence was too strong. It was contaminating her own thoughts and threatened to possess her completely. If it succeeded, she would essentially be Helen, a merciless predator who hungered for the vital energy of others.

Ororo glanced down, and, seeing her teammate hanging just a few feet beneath her, floated lower, her silver tresses streaming in the wind. At her approach, Rogue's hunger welled up inside her. She opened her mouth to warn her friend away, but simultaneously levitated to meet her.

"Your eyes!" Storm exclaimed in surprise, and then Rogue grabbed her right forearm just above the dark steel alloy bracelet.

Ororo convulsed and went limp, while Rogue discovered that her power was working a bit differently than it ever had before. The transfer of energies seemed slower, yet even more powerful, powerful enough to wrest away a victim's very life. The influx of energy felt so good that it set her to laughing madly.

But despite her ecstasy, a part of her fragmented self still loved Storm and loathed what she was doing to her, and after a moment that seemed to last forever, that portion clawed its way to a fragile ascendancy. She shoved her friend violently away, then turned and fled before Helen's hunger could master her anew. In her addled state, she flew for several minutes before realizing that she'd just dropped her depleted, unconscious teammate to plummet to her death.

Copyright (c) 1998 Marvel Characters Inc.

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