In a constantly changing world, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-men use their extraordinary powers to fight for peace and understanding. Over the years they have faced many challenges from mutants that seek to overcome human oppression. But recently, they have faced more challenges from humans.
In wake of the aftermath from Magneto’s world-threatening plot, a once obscure senator named Robert Kelly has risen to prominence. His anti-mutant message has taken hold in a world that is more fearful of mutants than ever. Using this newfound fame, he is running for president much to the concern of mutants everywhere. For a while he seemed all but unstoppable. Then at a rally in Philadelphia, his campaign took an unexpected turn when a disturbed human posed as a mutant and tried to kill him. Such a scene did not go over well with the public and the X-men have a chance to turn the tide.
In this recent shift, the X-men have found a new ally in a mysterious woman named Lilandra Neramani. She has taken a special interest in the X-men’s cause and a special interest in Charles Xavier. But while the X-men seek to learn more about this woman, other events are unfolding across the world on the island nation of Genosha.
Magneto’s Citadel – Genosha
It was amazing how much the island nation of Genosha had changed recently. What had once been an impoverished, tyrannical regime under Cameron Hodge had given way to a new kind of order. It was unlike anything that had ever been tried before. For the first time in history mutants had a nation and a land to call their own. It was a young, but fast growing nation. Under Magneto’s leadership, it was heading in a bold new direction.
Standing atop his citadel, Magneto admired the skyline of the capital city. Gone were the piles of rubble, the ruins of Hodge’s regime, and the scars from the uprising. Now there were only buildings, roads, statues, and fountains. Only these weren’t the bland, unimaginative structures of other major cities throughout the world. They were like works of art, mixing function with fantasy. Erik Lensherr always had a strong appreciation for architecture that set itself apart. Genosha, it seemed, was well on its way to become unlike any land before or ever since.
Under his leadership and with hundreds of mutant powers at his disposal, the rebuilding process surged ahead. The focus was on the former capital city, which Magneto sought to make the most glorious achievement of mutant kind. The rest of the cities throughout the island remained in ruin, but Magneto planned on developing them too. The main issue was a lack of resources and a lack of manpower. But with a growing mutant population and the rest of the world turning against mutants, he was optimistic for Genosha’s future.
‘Beautiful…what was once a land of oppression is now a land of opportunity. If only Cameron Hodge could see what I’ve turned his oppressive regime into. The first ever city created by mutants on the first country to be run by mutants. Not a bad start if I do say so. If only it were under better circumstances.’
Shifting his gaze away from the city, Magneto stared out into the distance. Even though he couldn’t see it, he knew it was there. Out in the waters surrounding his country, there were massive navy fleets from over twenty countries watching his every move. There were aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, destroyers, and cruisers all with their guns pointed at him. To make matters worse, his island had no weapons besides their mutant population. Every arm was given up as part of the deal he made with the President. It was a deal he still had mixed feelings about.
It was an unfortunate fact of life for his nation. They lived under such close scrutiny. Humanity it seemed was willing to tolerate mutants fending for themselves, but not without supervision. They made it so he couldn’t attack without them destroying his people and they couldn’t attack without him instigating a global human/mutant war. It was the old policy of mutually assured destruction.
‘To think, this could all be wiped out at the push of a button. The humans have our lives in their hands. If not for their fear of my resolve, who knows how quickly they would turn their backs on this so-called compromise. Even if the humans have left us to our own affairs for the most part, the threat remains. And I will not rest until our kind has the edge. Hopefully that little side-project I gave the Brotherhood will bear fruit soon.’
As Magneto pondered these thoughts, the doors to his throne room opened and Lorna entered. Now bearing a distinct green uniform similar to Wanda’s, she carried herself with the same resolve as his other children and was one of the few who could approach him without fear or anxiety.
“Father? Do you have a moment?”
“For you, Lorna, always,” said the master of magnetism as he turned to face her.
Taking off his helmet, Magneto entered his opulent throne room where his daughter was waiting for him.
“Tell me, what is on your mind, my dear?” he asked.
“A number of things, actually,” she said, “I was surveying the new residential areas with Wanda today. The buildings look good, definitely a step up from the old apartment my mom and I used to live in. But some of the residents aren’t too keen on the rules we’re laying out. There’s still a lot of theft, petty feuds, and vandalism.”
“Were you and Wanda able to contain the situation?” he asked cryptically.
“Yes, but it still feels like mob mentality out there. A lot of these mutants are here from the uprising. They didn’t come to live peacefully. They came to fight. Now that the fighting is over, they can’t seem to move on.”
“That is to be expected in any nation founded through conflict. Preserving order rarely happens overnight, particularly when the people still feel threatened.”
“But they aren’t threatened!” Lorna argued, “I mean yeah, we have ten different armies watching us, but they’re leaving us alone! Why can’t they accept that?”
“Most of these mutants have been living with that threat for most of their lives. Part of the promise I made them was to free them from it. It is a promise I still intend to make good on.”
“But how? It seems the only way they’ll ever be satisfied is if we go back on the deal that allowed us to be our own country in the first place.”
“Then like me, they’ll have to learn to compromise,” said the master of magnetism, “They may not like it, but if they want to live on this sanctuary they will accept it. We’ve spent a great deal of time rebuilding this nation and making it our own. I will not allow it to succumb to chaos and decadence. That you can be sure of.”
Lorna smiled somewhat at his strong words. Her father had many flaws, but lack of resolve wasn’t one of them. She still sensed he didn’t like this situation, but he was doing the best he could with it. For that she was proud of him.
Her gesture made Magneto smile as well. Of all those who stood beside him during these difficult times, few had a more profound effect on him than his once estranged daughter. She proved time and again that he could temper his anger for humanity and focus more on his fellow mutants. It was something he was still getting used to, but he was finding new ways to further his goals.
“I trust your word, Father,” she said, “I just have so much hope for this place and so does Wanda. We can do so much good for mutants by giving them a sanctuary. If we can show the world that mutants can create a peaceful society, then maybe we can move beyond this whole conflict with humanity.”
“Maybe…” said Magneto distantly, “That reminds me, have you spoken to Pietro? What’s his status on that little side-project I gave him?”
“You mean the caves?” she said, “Yeah, I did talk to him about that. He said they found some of Hodge’s old excavations in a quarry near the coast. It was in pretty bad shape because of cave-ins, but Avalanche got them through.”
“Did they find anything unusual?”
“Not that I know of,” she shrugged, “Why? What are you expecting to find?”
Magneto fell silent. He turned away from his daughter and back towards the balcony. As much as he cared for her support during this endeavor, there were still some things she just couldn’t share with her. This was one of them.
“Watch over the Citadel, Lorna. I’m going to pay him and the Brotherhood a visit,” he said as he put his helmet back on.
“Why? Is something wrong?” asked Lorna anxiously.
“Of course not,” he said, “This is a matter you need not concern yourself with. I’ll fill you in when the time is right.”
“Somehow I’m still worried,” she said skeptically.
“Don’t be,” he coaxed, “It’s nothing serious, I assure you. So long as you’re around, I won’t be involved in the same old plots. That’s the promise I made you. And I don’t break my promises to my children.”
Lorna was still somewhat skeptical. Given her father’s history, it was hard not to be. But the affectionate look in his eyes was hard to get around. He trusted her a great deal over these past few months to help rebuild this island. It was only proper that she try to return that trust, even if she had her reservations.
“Okay,” she said, “I’ll call Wanda to come help out.”
“That’s my girl,” grinned Magneto.
With one last fatherly gesture, the master of magnetism took to the air and headed east towards the coast. Lorna watched him as he disappeared into the clear blue sky, still worried that there may be something going. She had grown so much closer to her father since this all began. She didn’t want something to come between them again.
‘None of the same old plots, he says? That I can believe. As for new plots…I’m not so sure. Please don’t let this be another agenda, Father. We’ve come so far. Let’s not go down that path again.’
Genosha Cost – Quarry
Magneto arrived at the quarry after a brief flight from the capital city. This quarry, one of only several throughout the island, was one of the few areas untouched by the uprising and the asteroid plot. It was one of the few structures that endured on this volatile island over the decades. For the many dictators, despots, and armies that inhabited the island, the quarry had yielded many valuable resources. The nature of those resources was one of the great mysteries of this island.
It was a mystery Magneto hoped to solve. He long suspected that Cameron Hodge discovered something in these quarries that helped him construct the sentinels. What that discovery may have been was something he could only speculate. But for him to gain such technical proficiency on an island in the middle of an ocean, it had to be something grand.
As he landed in the center of the quarry, the Brotherhood was there to greet him. Pietro, Lance, Fred, and Mortimer were put in charge of this task. They also enlisted the help of a few other mutants from the island. One was a young woman with psionic and bio-electric abilities named Scanner. She was there to power machines and detect any unauthorized presences. Another was a hulking, reptilian man with great strength and durability who called himself Mellencamp. He did much of the heavy lifting. Last was a young teenage girl with a slivery, metal-like complexion who called herself Mercury. She had the ability to reshape and stretch her body, allowing her to get into tight places and form useful tools. It was an ability that came in handy with the task he set before them.
“Father, this is quite a surprise,” said Pietro, “Come to check and make sure I haven’t screwed this little project up?”
“Please dispense with the attitude, Pietro. I know that’s hard for you, but I’m not in the mood today,” said Magneto as he stoically strolled past his son, “Lorna tells me you finally managed to clear the mine shafts.”
“Well I wouldn’t say we cleared them so much as made a few shafts of our own,” said the Lance proudly, “It was just easier than clearing away all that rubble.”
“Plus Hodge was nice enough to leave all his mining gear behind,” said Fred, “They work like shit, but they get the job done.”
“I hope you did not do too much damage to the passageways he dug. It probably took him years to dig them and I don’t have that kind of patience,” said Magneto firmly as he ventured towards the shaft entrance.
“Hey, cut us some slack. We got them open again in less than two months, didn’t we?” said Mortimer.
“Indeed, although I seem to remember telling you that I wanted it done in one.”
“With all due respect, sir, some worked harder than others,” said Mellencamp, eyeing Lance and Fred.
“Hey, don’t look at us, Godzilla!” said Fred, “We did our part!”
“Of course you did. Exactly how many snack breaks did you take?” joked the reptilian mutant.
“And how much extra rubble did we have to clear every time we used Lance’s powers instead of the old shafts?” added Mercury.
“Well maybe if you guys weren’t so slow getting that old gear working maybe I wouldn’t have had to!” spat Lance.
“Enough!” bellowed Magneto, which shut everybody up, “I don’t care for excuses. All that matters is we now have what Hodge had. And if you can’t keep a simple schedule without bickering, I’ll finish the job myself!”
The master of magnetism turned to Scanner, who stayed silent through the argument.
“Come Scanner,” he said, “I’ll need you to be my light down there. The rest of you stay right here. And pray I find something to make me not want to reprimand you!”
The Brotherhood wisely stayed silent, not tempting the master of magnetism any further. They stood back as they watched Magneto enter the mine shaft with Scanner following closely. Whatever he expected to uncover from this venture of his must have been important because if what they had seen down there was any indication, the mystery to this island was even greater than the legends.
Once inside the mine, Magneto and Scanner walked about a hundred meters or so before reaching the main shaft that descended deep into the mines. The shaft had an old elevator that the Brotherhood had been using. It looked to be in very poor condition so Magneto didn’t bother with it. Instead, he used his powers to rip it off from the ropes and support and set it aside. With the path down now clear, he grabbed Scanner by the shoulder and descended into the shaft.
For Scanner, it was a big moment for her. She was working with the master of magnetism himself, the man who made this sanctuary on Genosha possible. Unlike most of the others, she arrived after the uprising. She was not a fighter or a soldier. She was Sarah Ryall, an outcast from Miami, Florida who thought she could use her powers to make a better living for herself after her parents went broke and divorced, leaving her to pretty much fend for herself. She thought Genosha could be where she could make a name for herself. Now she had her chance.
Once they reached the bottom of the shaft, she used her bio-electric powers to form a bright light in her hands. This illuminated the area, revealing a vast underground cave complex. It wasn’t like a mine. The scale of these caves were natural, most likely a result of ancient volcanic activity. But this cave had a very different feel to it.
“We uh…had to blast through a lot of rock to clear the shaft. We would have gotten it done sooner of Lance’s tremors hadn’t triggered so many collapses,” said Scanner nervously.
“No need to explain yourself, Scanner. I said before I care not for excuses,” he said firmly, “Just tell me what you’ve found.”
“Of…of course,” she said humbly, “I surveyed these caves with Pietro and Mellencamp. They seem to have many strange properties. I’ve been picking up a lot of extra radiation around here. It’s not lethal, but it’s definitely not natural. Then there are the tunnels. Some of them are so clear cut it’s almost as if they were artificially made. At first we thought they were from Hodge’s people, but given the mining equipment they were using that would be impossible.”
“Given Hodge’s incompetence, it’s perfectly reasonable,” said Magneto dryly.
“We also noticed some of the rocks have these odd metals in them. Mercury and Lance tried to extract some, but they wouldn’t crack. It’s like they’ve been refined or something.”
“Interesting,” said Magneto distantly, “Go back to this radiation you mentioned. Could you determine a source for it?”
“That’s what we’ve been working on these past few days. I’ve been using my powers to trace it and we were able to track it to this very strange formation. If the piles of candy wrappers we found in the area were any indication, Hodge’s people were drawn to it too.”
“I doubt he was the only one,” reasoned Magneto, “Take me to this formation.”
Scanner nodded, still anxious about this whole situation. But she couldn’t show any fear in the presence of their leader. She had to be strong for him and the people of Genosha.
Magneto followed the young woman closely, wondering what sort of revelations lay ahead. As they made their way down the winding paths, he took in the sight of surrounding caves. The light from Scanner illuminated some of the odd structures she mentioned. The rock in this cave did not resemble normal rock. It was as if it had been altered by some strange energy. He sensed that some of it even had magnetic energy, hinting at something more exotic than traditional forces.
He also took note of the paths they were following. They were smooth and rounded on the sides, much to clean to be the work of traditional mining. He had been in mines before and this was too neatly carved to be the work of man, especially men like Cameron Hodge. Yet as he followed these paths, he also got the feeling that Hodge wasn’t the only one that followed them. Perhaps it was a byproduct of being around Charles for so many years, but he could feel the presences of past figures venturing through this cave.
After about a ten minute trek, they arrived at the site Scanner mentioned. It was a smaller section of the cave with a high dome-shaped ceiling overhead. In this area, the rock looked even stranger. While through much of the caves the rocks were gray and black, the ones in this section were more metallic. What was even stranger though was how these metallic features were spaced out. They all seemed to emanate from this one strange formation in the center.
This was the formation that Scanner mentioned. It was big, about the size of a middle-sized house. It had an odd disk-shape with various sharp stalactites and stalagmites protruding from it. It was also angled with one side looking dug into the rock below and the rest nearly touching the dome ceiling. It didn’t seem to fit with the surrounding rocks, as if it was something foreign that was somehow transported to this area.
“Here it is,” she announced, brightening her lights a bit to illuminate the whole thing, “None of us are trained geologists, but this definitely doesn’t look natural. I sensed with my bio-electric powers that the radiation was coming from here.”
“You mean from the formation itself or something inside it?” said Magneto as he ran his hands over it.
“Inside it? Um…I don’t know,” she said sheepishly.
Magneto’s vision narrowed. Something was inside this structure. He could feel it. This was the secret that Hodge used to gain power. He knew it. Now it was his.
“Why don’t we take a look and see?” he said, “Stand back!”
Scanner nearly tripped over her own feet as she followed his orders. She made sure she kept the light bright enough for him to see, but kept a safe distance so that her leader could work.
Standing before the structure, Magneto placed his hands on the metallic formation. He then took several deep breaths before using his magnetic powers to manipulate the metallic forces within the rock. Because of the size of the structure, he had to push himself a little. But it was nothing he couldn’t handle.
“The secrets of Genosha will be mine!” he proclaimed.
The surrounding cave shook as powerful magnetic forces filled the area. Under these forces, the metallic rock over the formation was literally ripped off in a series of sharp bursts. Rock and metal were shattered and warped, kicking up a cloud of debris around the structure. What would have taken months if not years of careful mining all took place within three minutes. Soon the entire rocky shell surrounding the structure had been removed. When the debris and dust settled, a new structure was revealed. And when Magneto saw it, he was shocked and amazed.
Scanner moved in for a closer look. When she saw it, she was just as shocked as Magneto.
“Wow…what is it?” she said in a daze.
“I don’t say this often so don’t get used to it. But I have no idea,” replied Magneto.
It was something right out of science fiction. Where a jagged, rocky formation once stood, there was now a very advanced-looking craft. It was hard to tell if it was a starship or a pod of sorts, but it was definitely not of human origin. The house-sized aircraft had a disk-shaped body with two bulky protruding extensions on the top and bottom. Every section was sharply angled, hinting at very precise engineering. There were also glyphs lining the sides, glyphs that did not look human in the slightest.
It had to be alien. There was no other explanation. Magneto had seen many strange things in his years. But aliens weren’t too hard to wrap his head around. In a ways he shouldn’t be too surprised. It made sense of so many mysteries surrounding this island. Now that secret was his.
“It’s alien,” said Magneto as he ran his hands over the structure, “And very advanced from the looks of it.”
“Alien?” said a bewildered Scanner, “As in Mars Attacks alien or Independence Day alien?”
“I don’t keep up with popular human culture so I’m not going to pretend I know what that entails,” said Magneto stoically, “But it all makes sense now. For centuries Genosha has been a hotbed of strange and exotic technology. This must be where it came from. No wonder so many despots and empires feuded over this petty island. They all wanted control over the technology within this alien artifact.”
“So…this is where Hodge got the gear for the sentinels?” surmised Scanner.
“Precisely!” said Magneto intently, “And now it belongs to mutants.”
Grinning in anticipation, Magneto eagerly ran his hands over the exotic metal craft. Who knew what kind of exotic technology lay within? Perhaps some of that technology would give mutants the edge over humanity. If Hodge could find a way to use it, then he could too.
“Let’s see what wonders this alien artifact has to offer,” he said, “It’s made of metal. It should be easy to open.”
Summoning his powers once more, Magneto formed a powerful magnetic field in front of the craft and prepared to tear a hole in it. But before he could even make a scratch, something strange happened. The alien ship came to life.
Lights and electronics lit up around the aircraft, bathing the surrounding area in a soft green glow. Just as Magneto was about to probe his way inside the surface of the aircraft erupted in a burst of green electric sparks. These sparks were quickly attracted to Magneto’s magnetic field and arced right into him, sending a surge of painful shocks through his body.
“AUUUGGHHH!” he howled in pain.
“Magneto!” exclaimed a horrified Scanner.
The master of magnetism fell back, collapsing to the rocky ground as sparks continued to arc around the aircraft. He groaned in pain as he struggled to pull himself up. It was not the worst blow he ever endured, but it was comparable.
“Are you okay sir?” she said as she helped him up.
“I’m fine,” he groaned, “It appears I activated a defense mechanism of sorts. Breaking into it may not be an option after all.”
“So what do we do? How do we get inside?”
Magneto thought about it for a moment. The outside of the craft was defended well. He couldn’t imagine someone like Hodge being able to penetrate it. But he had to have gotten the knowledge or materials from it somehow. It just must have come through another means.
It looked to be quite a puzzle, one that would take a great deal of time and effort to solve. With an island to run and humanity bearing down on them every day, he could afford neither. If he was to decipher this he needed help, but not from just anybody. It had to be someone he could trust. One name quickly came to mind.
“We’ll figure it out, but we’ll need assistance,” he said as he stumbled to his feet, “And I know just who to call.”
Xavier Institute – Cerebro Chamber
“Your papers on mutant healing abilities and their application to medicine are fascinating, Charles. I can’t thank you enough for giving us access to your notes and materials. I understand you don’t give this information to just anyone.”
“For your assistance in Philadelphia, it’s the least I can do,” said a smiling Charles Xavier as he addressed a holographic projection of Lilandra Neramani, “If you want, I can even forward you some records of tests that I conducted with Hank. It should provide a wealth of information for your AIDS and Malaria treatment program.”
“Thank you, I’m sure they will. You’re as generous as you are intriguing, Charles Xavier. It seems every one of these meetings of ours reveals something else to admire.”
“The feeling is mutual, Miss Neramani.”
“Charles please, call me Lilandra.”
Professor Xavier’s smile grew even more. That seemed to be a trend ever since he started talking to Lilandra. Ever since the incident in Philadelphia, they had been conversing regularly through Cerebro and teleconferencing. It started out innocently enough with them discussing how their respective organizations could help one another. Lilandra’s human rights organization gave the X-men a legitimate entity to operate through while his school provided an entry point into the mutant issue. But it didn’t stop at business. As they continued to talk, it turned into something much more.
Unfortunately, these were dire times. They did not have the luxury of engaging in more menial banter. They had serious issues to work through with Senator Kelly making a bid for the White House. While his previous momentum had been shaking, he still maintained a good deal of support. It was something they were going to have to work around if they were to manage this situation for the benefit of mutants.
“Very well, Lilandra. Feel free to request any other materials you may deem useful. In the meantime, I’ll stay in touch for updates on Senator Kelly’s campaign.”
“Oh believe me, Charles. I’ll be in touch. So long as that man thinks he can ride the fear of mutants to the White House, I’ll be trailing him every step of the way. That may make me a thorn in his side, but I’ll make sure I’m a thorn he can’t ignore.”
“That’s very brave of you,” said Xavier admiringly, “But I expect he’ll only try harder now with momentum no longer on his side.”
“Then we’ll just have to match him, won’t we?”
“Indeed,” he said with another wide grin.
She sounded confident, not to mention brave. She was going up against a man who built his career on the mutant issue. It was the same kind of bravery his X-men shared in going up against the likes of Magneto. It was yet another reason to admire her.
He was about to respond, but then one of the screens on the Cerebro console started flashing. An image on the hologram project came up as well. He was receiving an encrypted message.
“As much as I would like to further this exchange with you, I’m afraid something has just come up. We’ll have to pick this up again later, Lilandra.”
“Of course. If memory serves me right I have an organization to run. Perhaps we can pick this up again another time? Maybe over dinner?”
“Yes…perhaps we can,” he said, who couldn’t help but be intrigued by the prospect, “Take care, Lilandra.”
“You too, Charles.”
Professor Charles Xavier’s expression brightened at such a prospect. It had been a long time since a beautiful woman made him such an offer. During times like this, it may be just the extra motivation he needed.
Sighing to himself, he powered down the link between him and Lilandra. He then entered a number of commands on the console to open the new link. Only a select number of people had a line to Cerebro. For anybody, enemy or ally, to call him through it was usually a serious sign. Hopefully it wasn’t serious enough to bring him down from this high he felt after speaking to Lilandra. But if the source of the message was any indication, that may be asking a bit much.
“This is Xavier. Go ahead, Erik,” he said as the link went live.
On the holograph project, Magneto’s ominous image came up. And it didn’t look like he was just checking up on him.
“Hello Charles. It’s good to hear from you again. I’m in a bit of a bind so I’ll make this quick. I’ve made an important discovery and I need your help.”
Xavier Institute – Danger Room
While Professor Xavier was busy meeting with Lilandra, training was in full session for the X-men. With Senator Kelly’s campaign going strong, it was important to be prepared now more than ever.
At the moment Ororo was leading a series of exercises through the Danger Room. Jean, Bobby, Kurt, and Kitty were among those participating while Remy, Rogue, and Warren were catching up in class with Hank. The session consisted of a mixture of obstacles courses and target practice. Ororo and Jean were hovering overhead, taking out laser turrets and flying mace while Bobby, Kurt, and Kitty were down below trying to traverse the course.
“Pick it up, Iceman! We need a bridge to the next platform!” groaned Kitty as she waited for Bobby and Kurt to catch up with her.
“Keep your panties on, Kitty! Not everybody can just phase through swinging death traps!” grunted Bobby.
“Well whatever you’re doing, find a more efficient way! We’re running out of time!”
“We still got plenty! I swear, you’re worse than Scott!”
“You two are just so cute together, ja?” commented Kurt.
“Shut up, Nightcrawler.”
Bobby used his powers to freeze a couple of swinging axes, allowing him and Kurt a clear path to the next platform where Kitty was standing. Along the way there were targets they had to hit. Kurt took care of those, teleporting up and around the platforms and taking them out with his fist. When they eventually did catch up to Kitty, Bobby seemed to purposefully bump into her. She almost lost her balance, forcing Bobby to ‘save’ her by grabbing her shoulder and pulling her back up. It left them in a somewhat compromising position for a moment, one that Bobby smiled at while Kitty groaned.
“Careful there, Kitty. Don’t want you to trip on us,” he said coyly.
“I’m sure,” she said dryly.
Kurt tried hard not to make another comment and followed them to the next platform. But he couldn’t help but take further notice.
“If Logan vere here he vould say ve could cut zhe sexual tension vith a knife…only he vould use more vulgar terms.”
“I heard that!” said Kitty and Bobby simultaneously.
Kurt shrugged and followed along, hoping these two could keep it refrain from pummeling each other before they reached the finish line. It may not do well for their scores, but it sure was fun to watch.
Up above, Kitty and Bobby’s exchange didn’t go unnoticed by Ororo and Jean. Ororo especially found it humorous. She agreed with Kurt. There was definitely chemistry at work. It was hard to get around, but she could definitely relate.
While Ororo used her lightning strikes to disable a number of turrets, Jean hovered close by and took out a few more targets. She noticed Kitty and Bobby as well, but sensed Ororo was taking a much closer interest in it.
“Ah the spiteful flirtation. It never gets old,” commented Jean, “I never understood that. I never went through that period with any of my boyfriends before I hooked up with them.”
“It comes in many forms I guess,” said Ororo, “We may not always understand, but the message is still the same.”
“Yeah, it says ‘I want to get together so I’ll drop you hints by yelling at you.’ It makes total sense,” said Jean dryly.
Ororo rolled her eyes. In a ways Jean had a point, but she probably didn’t have the same experience with it that she did. She would concede Kitty and Bobby’s methods may not have been the most efficient way to go through the motions of flirtation, but that didn’t make it any less meaningful.
“While were on such lurid subjects, what’s going on with you and Logan?” asked Jean as she took out a few more targets with her telekinesis.
“Is this really the time to be bringing that up, Jean?” replied Ororo as she shorted out more turrets.
“Why not? Better now than try to avoid it like certain other duos.”
To further reinforce her point, she looked down towards the obstacle course where Bobby and Kitty were still at it.
“Ow! Watch where you’re flinging those snowballs!” Kitty exclaimed, “I can only focus on phasing through one obstacle at a time here!”
“So learn to multi-task!” quipped a grinning Bobby as he hit a few targets with his blasts.
Jean turned back towards Ororo and grinned. The African woman got the message. With only a few targets left she might as well get it out in the open. It wasn’t like she was making any progress on her own.
“Need I say more?” said Jean.
“I’ll save myself the trouble, thank you,” sighed Ororo, “So long as it’s not too awkward for you, given your history with Logan.”
“Just because we didn’t work out it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring about him,” said Jean as she hovered near her teacher, “Besides, I’ve faced way more awkward situations than talking to my teacher about having a keen interest in my ex.”
“Well I wouldn’t necessarily call it keen, but there is definitely interest,” conceded Ororo, “Ever since I tagged along with him in Germany, Logan and I have developed a certain…kinship. He’s opened up to me and I’ve started opening up to him as well.”
“He’ll do that after a few beers,” snickered Jean.
“But lately it’s been growing,” said Ororo distantly, “Like back in Philadelphia when he helped me through that unpleasant recurrence of my claustrophobia. It was a very powerful moment. I’m…not sure what to make of it.”
“Yeah, I went through that too when I was first attracted to him. It’s confusing, but damn near impossible to ignore.”
“I’ll say,” sighed Ororo, “But I’m not sure how serious it is or if it’s worth pursuing. Logan is such a complicated man and I’m still somewhat adverse to relationships after what happened with Hank.”
“I’ll give you the serious part. But I would say it’s definitely worth pursuing,” grinned Jean as she took out three more targets, “Logan may be a complicated man, but that’s part of his allure. Yeah, he has issues. You haven’t even experienced the dirty jokes he makes about the female anatomy or certain laundry habits that will make you cringe.”
“They must not have been too bad for you to have been with him,” Ororo pointed out.
“Every guy has his quirks,” she shrugged, “But if the mutual affection is there, Logan will make good use of it. He is after all the best at what he does. And after everything he’s been through, he deserves a good woman to keep him balanced.”
“You think I can be that woman?”
“I think it couldn’t hurt to try,” grinned Jean.
Ororo thought about that as Jean took care of the last few turrets for her. It seemed reasonable enough. The attraction was there. The chemistry was definitely emerging. It had its appeal as well as its risks. At this point in her complicated personal life, she just wasn’t sure.
“Look at it this way,” Jean went on, “These are strange times for all of us. We need to grab onto whatever support we can. Scott’s really helped me get through it, especially with the psychic migraines I’ve been having since I used Magneto’s machine. If you can find support with someone like Logan, why not take a chance?”
“Perhaps,” said Ororo distantly, “I just don’t know.”
“At least think about it,” encouraged Jean, “Because I can tell you straight up that Logan sure won’t. He’s a great guy, even as an ex, but thinking through things isn’t one of his strong points.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Jean,” laughed Ororo.
The two women laughed as they finished off the last of the turrets, clearing the way for Kurt, Kitty, and Bobby down below. They were still moving sluggishly. Kitty was nearing the final platform, jumping through some ground based turrets in the process to short them out. Kurt and Bobby took care of the last of the targets. Once they were done, Kurt jumped onto the final platform to finish his run. Kitty and Bobby were following close behind.
“Who’s slow now, Kitty?” Bobby taunted.
“I’ll show you slow!” quipped Kitty.
They both scrambled to reach the platform before one another. But in their haste they didn’t exactly time their jumps properly. They leapt towards the same spot on the platform at the same time. As a result, they collided and clumsily. They ended up in a very awkward position on the platform with Kitty on her back and Bobby right on top of her. It was a position Kurt had to try very hard to stop himself from laughing at.
“Ungh! Nice timing!” groaned Kitty.
“Hnn…I thought you would be smart enough to phase!” said Bobby, rubbing his head.
“I thought you would be smart enough to get out of the way!”
They shared more groans even as Ororo and Jean flew down to join them. But they remained in their awkward position, which only made it more humorous to the others.
“Um…you mind getting off me, Bobby?” said Kitty, now starting to blush.
“Oh uh…right,” he said.
“Talk about tension,” joked Kurt, “Logan and Scott don’t know vhat zhey’re missing!”
“We’ll fill them in later,” grinned Jean, trying not to laugh as well, “I’m sure they could use a good laugh like this after they get back from Genosha.”
Genosha Landing Strip – X-jet
The engines of the X-jet roared as it came in for a vertical landing. In the cockpit Scott and Logan were in the cockpit in full uniform, mentally preparing themselves for the task before them. It had been a while since they set foot on Genosha. But in that time, the island hadn’t gotten any more appealing. With Magneto running the show it was very low on the list of places the X-men wanted to venture for any reason. But this was urgent. Professor Xavier wouldn’t send them here if there wasn’t a very good reason.
Whatever the reason, Scott and Logan weren’t too enthused about this impromptu mission. Having to work with Magneto was bad enough, being stuck together on a mission just made it more complicated. It was something they were going to have to work around if they were to make this bearable.
“Explain to me again why I’m stuck on this mission with you of all people?” groaned Logan as the jet touched down.
“Blame the Professor, Logan. He’s the one who agreed to do this important favor for Magneto. Better he be the one to help Magneto than someone else we don’t trust. I figure he just feels better if we have my firepower and your durability to get this done.”
“If he wanted assurance, he could’ve sent the whole damn team.”
“He would have liked to, but Magneto won’t have it. He said only two X-men at the most and we’re the lucky guys.”
“Lucky…right,” scoffed Logan.
Scott rolled his eyes as he started powering down the jet. So much had changed in wake of the asteroid plot. It seemed every day was bringing new developments. But one thing that remained constant through it all was his and Logan’s inability to get along. It seemed like one of those annoying facts of life that they couldn’t avoid.
“I don’t like this anymore than you, Logan,” said Scott as he undid his harness, “You think I don’t have better things to do? I had a nice quiet evening with Jean all planned out. We were going to go out for a nice dinner after she got done training and then soak in a hot bath together afterwards.”
“You trying to get my sympathy?” said Logan as he undid his harness as well.
“When do I care for your sympathy?” quipped the X-leader, “But you of all people should appreciate the appeal of an evening with Jean.”
“You got me there, bub,” snickered Logan, “As if you two don’t have enough of those.”
“Lately, she’s been needing it more than me,” said Scott in a more serious tone, “I’m still worried about her. She’s still getting these psychic migraines. I’ve been doing all I can to help her, but they seem to be getting stronger.”
“Jeannie will tough through it. She always does. For now, just be glad you got an excuse to give her a little massage every night.”
“I am glad. I just wish it were under better circumstances.”
“Ah quit you’re complaining! When it comes to getting dirty with Jeannie, you gotta take what you can get and not bitch about it.”
His tone was lurid, but Scott still found himself smiling. He didn’t usually appreciate Logan’s comments about his private time with Jean, but on rare occasions there was something poignant to them. He wasn’t sure if this qualified though. He was genuinely concerned and hoped they could finish this up quickly so he could get back to her.
With the jet now powered down, they were just about to open the hatch and step down to the runway. But before they did, Logan had one last comment to make.
“That reminds me, does Jeannie still do that thing with her powers?” he asked with a dirty grin.
“What thing?” asked Scott.
“Don’t play dumb, one-eye! Hard as that may be! You know damn what I’m talking about.”
Scott shot Logan a look, but the feral mutant didn’t stop grinning. The X-leader just shook his head and groaned.
“If you think I’m going to start divulging details about how Jean and I spend our private time, you’re sadly mistaken, Logan.”
Logan didn’t respond. He just kept grinning at Scott with that knowing look. It was very annoying. As he opened the hatch, Scott rolled his eyes and sighed.
“Yes…she still does it,” he admitted.
“Just checking,” said Logan, who couldn’t stop grinning.
“Yeah right,” scoffed the X-leader, “Now what do you say we drop the perverted chit chat and get this mission over with.”
Before Logan could make any more comments, Scott descended the stairs from the X-jet. Standing there to greet them were Magneto and Pietro. The rest of the Brotherhood was present as well, but they hung back. There was too much bad blood between them and Magneto didn’t need a fight breaking out. Logan and Scott stayed on their guard, not knowing what to expect. Even if this wasn’t a combat mission, when Magneto was involved it could quickly turn into one.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice, X-men,” greeted Magneto, “I’m sure Charles has had plenty to do in dealing with the decaying human world.”
“No thanks to you,” snarled Logan, “You left quite a mess back home and we’ve been cleaning it up ever since!”
“And you’ve been doing such a fine job,” said Pietro dryly, “So that Senator Kelly is really running for president? How’s that working out for you?”
“Watch it, bub!” said Logan, drawing his claws in a threatening gesture, “I’m pissed enough I got dragged into this! Don’t tempt me to take my frustrations out on your insides!”
“Can we not get into that debate again? There is work to be done,” said the master of magnetism sternly, “Tell me, did you bring the uplink equipment?”
“The one that links to Cerebro? Yeah, it’s in the jet,” said Scott, “How exactly are you planning to use it? The Professor didn’t give us a whole lot of details.”
“That’s because I specifically told him not to,” said Magneto, “But no worries. I’ll fill you in on our way to the caves.”
“Caves? Oh this is gonna be good,” said Logan dryly.
“What’s the matter, Wolverine? Scared?” taunted Pietro.
“Only of having to save your sorry ass again once this shit goes horribly wrong.”
“Spare me your cynicism, Wolverine,” said Magneto sternly, “This is a very important endeavor. You had better try your very best not to mess it up.”
“We can try, but it ain’t gonna help. Around here, it never does.”
Magneto scowled the feral mutant’s prophetic words, but ignored them as he and Pietro moved around to the back of the jet to unload the equipment. Scott, however, took them more seriously. Things did tend to go bad around Genosha. Hopefully, this would be an exception. But that was probably wishful thinking at best.
Xavier Institute – Cerebro Chamber
As Scott and Logan were going to work on Genosha, Professor Xavier was preparing to do his part as well. On his end, he and Hank were making adjustments to Cerebro’s programming to allow them receive data from the uplink. Part of the assistance Magneto requested involved Cerebro’s vast processing power. If he was to have any hope of deciphering alien data, he needed the best computer available. Having helped build Cerebro, he understood that this was his best bet.
While Xavier was keeping in touch with Scott and Logan, Hank was hard at work running diagnostics on the software. Upon hearing of this most unusual challenge, he was very excited at the prospect.
“How are we looking, Hank?” asked the Professor as he brought up a holographic image of the cave complex.
“We’re almost ready. The uplink software is compiling and should be ready to receive data in five minutes,” said Hank as he worked feverishly, “But I’m surprised you’re not more excited about this. Can you believe it? We’re about to interface with a real alien spacecraft!”
“I wish I could be, old friend. But I must keep my mind focused. We have no idea what we may encounter here. But Magneto believes this alien ship has information that may have provided Cameron Hodge with the technology to build the sentinels.”
“It seems perfectly reasonable, at least as much as any explanation involving aliens can be,” said Hank, “But are you not worried what he may do with this information?”
“I’m more worried what he would do if he tried to decipher it on his own. Unlike Hodge, Erik is not exactly patient or diligent when it comes to great discoveries.”
“I’m inclined to agree. But still, this is positively promethean! Just imagine what full fledged alien spacecraft could teach us!”
“Don’t tell me you’re surprised about the existence of aliens old friend,” grinned Charles.
“Considering what we’ve faced in the past, hardly,” replied Hank as he made the final adjustments, “But this is indeed the first time we have a chance to learn from them. I’m very interested to see what we will find.”
“So am I,” said the Professor as he brought up an image of Magneto and his two X-men entering the cave, “But at the same time I’m worried. There’s always a chance we may not like what we uncover.”
The possibilities were as exciting as they were ominous. The technology and knowledge of an alien spaceship could do much to change the current status quo throughout the world. It could help humanity move beyond the current menial conflicts such as the human/mutant issue. Or it could worsen the chaos. It all depended on what kind of secrets resided within that mysterious spacecraft.
After arriving at the caves, Magneto and the X-men made their way down to the site of the alien craft. For Scott and Logan, it was quite a sight. They were actually pretty skeptical at first when Magneto said he discovered an alien craft buried deep within a cave. But he seemed dead serious. They soon got their proof when they laid eyes on it and it was every bit as incredible as he described. But they didn’t have time to stand around in awe. They had a job to do so they got to work on the uplink.
While they set everything up, Pietro and Scanner helped brighten the area. Pietro made several quick trips in and out of the cave, getting some extra lights so they could work easier. Scanner set them up, using her bio-electric powers to run them at first. Then Pietro brought down some generators to keep them all running without her. Now the whole area around the craft was brightly lit, allowing them to work easier and take in the true scope of the task before them.
While Scott and Logan were working on the uplink, they stayed in close telepathic contact with Professor Xavier.
‘The interface program for Cerebro is up and running. Is the uplink ready to transmit?’
Scott, who was working on connecting the wires to the generator Pietro brought down, did a quick check to make sure everything was in order.
‘It’s ready, Professor. I’m about to power it up.’
He gave the signal to Logan, who flipped a number of switches and adjusted a couple of dials. The uplink itself was about the size of a car diesel engine, but much more complicated. To transmit data to Cerebro, it needed more than a radio. It needed a complex system of software and electronics. It also needed an antenna on the surface, which the rest of the Brotherhood was responsible for. After a few brief moments of booting up, the lights on the uplink came to life.
‘It’s purring like a kitten, Chuck. You getting a signal?’
‘Loud and clear, Logan. Tell Magneto we’re ready to begin.’
‘Fine, but I still don’t like that we’re helping this dirt bag get his hands on alien tech. If Hodge can use it to make sentinels, who knows what kind of crazy shit Magneto can make with it.’
‘I share your concerns, Logan. Rest assured, I’m taking precautions. Just stay on your guard with Cyclops. If something goes wrong with the interface, you know what to do.’
Logan muttered a round of curses to himself. He still didn’t like this. Aliens or no aliens, helping Magneto with anything was a bad move. The Professor better know what he’s doing with this.
“We’re ready, Magneto,” said Scott as he backed away from the uplink, “What’s the next step?”
“I’ll take it from here, Mr. Summers. You and Charles’s pet can stand back for the rest of this,” said Magneto as he approached the ship.
“Pet?! Why you…” growled Logan in response to his remark.
“Let it go, Logan!” urged Scott, holding him back.
Magneto ignored Logan’s outburst and approached the ship. Along the way he removed his helmet. This way he could communicate with his old friend.
‘Can you hear me, old friend?’
‘I can hear you, Erik. I’m ready when you are.’
Grinning intently, Magneto turned back towards the uplink. Then using his powers, he levitated a series of cables attacked to a small dish-shaped antenna. After setting it down as close to the craft as he could, he took a few steps back.
“What’s this stuff supposed to do?” asked Scanner.
“I’m not the one with the Oxford level education. Ask him,” said Pietro, who was the only one who didn’t seem too worked up about this.
“It’s nothing too technical, I assure you,” said Magneto, “If you recall my earlier mishap, it revealed that this ship is still active. It seems whenever it is energized by a power source, the internal systems go online. When they were active, I sensed a sudden pulse of electromagnetic transmissions coming from within. It’s reasonable to assume that if I power it again, I’ll get a similar reaction. Only this time, the uplink will capture those signals. It is then up to Charles and Cerebro to decipher them.”
“What are you expecting to find anyways?” asked Scott suspiciously, “I doubt you would go to these lengths out of sheer curiosity.”
“Do not concern yourself with the details. You should be honored I am letting you be a part of this,” said the master of magnetism sternly, “Don’t make light of my generosity.”
“Generosity…right,” scoffed Logan, “Guy’s about as generous as he is sane.”
“I’m not going to argue that point with you, Wolverine. But for pete’s sake, shut the hell up,” said Scott.
Logan snarled as he joined Scott, Pietro, and Scanner behind the uplink. He still didn’t like this. It was going to go wrong. He could feel it in his adamantium bones. But there was no stopping Magneto. He was really going through with this.
With the antenna in place, Magneto now took his position halfway between the uplink and the alien craft. Clenching his fists with determination, he prepared to unleash a wave of magnetic energy that would hopefully reveal the secrets within this vessel. There was something inside. He was sure of it. Many others like Hodge had only gotten a taste of it. But he wasn’t content with just a taste. He wanted the whole thing.
“Get ready, Charles! I’m powering up the alien craft!” Magneto announced.
The master of magnetism then summoned the full force of his powers. Unlike last time, he didn’t direct it onto the ship with pure brunt force. He directed magnetic fields all around the skin of the ship, leaving nothing to chance and making sure it got all the power it needed.
Like last time, the ship reacted. Lights all over the vessel came on and the outer area of the craft began glowing in a bright greenish aura. But this was much more intense. The power from Magneto’s electromagnetic pulses was sucked right in, activating whatever exotic machinery lay inside. It was so bright it soon illuminated the whole cave, forcing Magneto and the others to cover their eyes. But the master of magnetism remained stoic, not at all intimated by the light show.
“I sense the signal!” he called out, “Charles! Are you getting this?”
Through their telepathic communication, Charles Xavier responded with strained thoughts.
‘I…I’m getting it. You were right, Erik. There’s something here! There’s so much data. I’m not sure I can…’
Then in the minds of Magneto, Scott, and Logan they heard an excruciating howl of pain.
“Augh! Professor!” exclaimed Scott as he and Logan clutched their heads.
“Charles?! What happened? What did you sense?” Magneto yelled out.
“I don’t think he heard you!” growled Logan, his head still throbbing, “You better power down before that thing does some real damage! Because I swear if it hurt Chuck…”
But before Logan could finish, the glowing ship erupted in a series of bright pulses. Now it wasn’t active, it was in overdrive it seemed. It got so intense Magneto had to step back to avoid the sparks.
“What are you waiting for? Stop giving it power!” yelled Scott.
“I did stop!” said Magneto, “The craft must be powering itself now!”
“Figures,” groaned Logan, “You just had to go for overkill, didn’t you?”
“Don’t you dare start pointing fingers at me, Wolverine! We must get back in touch with Charles! We have to find out what the hell is going on!”
The ship then let out another bright pulse. This was the biggest one yet. But it did more than just illuminate the caves. As more sparks flew, a strange hissing noise could be heard from the bottom of the ship. When Scott, Logan, Magneto, Pietro, and Scanner looked through the bright haze, they all tensed. This alien mystery had just turned into a crisis.
“I think I can tell you,” said Pietro in a daze, “Looks like we woke ET up.”
Xavier Institute – Cerebro Chamber
The blood-curtailing howls of Charles Xavier echoed through the chamber. One minute he was concentrating with all his focus on the incoming data. The next something hit him. It was as if an unseen force drove a spike right into his brain and electrified every brain cell. It was so overwhelming he fell out of his wheelchair.
“Charles!” exclaimed a worried Hank as he rushed to his friend’s aid.
He tried to help him up, but was met with an unexpected sight. When he turned him over, he didn’t see the look in his eyes that he expected. Instead, Hank saw an ominous, wide-eyed gaze. His pupils were moving rapidly, almost as if he was seeing something. He tried to snap him out of it, but it was no use.
“Charles! Charles, snap out of it! What happened?”
“Stars…wars…explosion…tyranny…genocide…death! So much death!” he gasped.
“Death? What death?” asked Hank nervously.
But Xavier kept rambling. Soon his words were no longer in English. He started rambling on in some other language he didn’t recognize. It didn’t sound like anything Hank had ever heard before and he was pretty astute in the study of linguistics. It sounded totally alien, as if it really was from another world. At the rate Xavier was speaking it, there was no way to determine what it was he was saying.
But through these incoherent ramblings, one word kept coming up repeatedly. It was the only word in English that could be understood. It was a word that seemed to hint at the true purpose behind this craft.
Genosha – Cave
The alien ship was still pulsing brightly as a mysterious presence emerged. Through the blaring green light, the faint outline of a figure could be seen coming out of an opening on the bottom extension. This figure had a pulsing light of it’s own. Instead of the flashing green aura of the ship, whatever or whoever this was bore a fiery red pulse as if it was on fire. The pulsing of the ship waned and the figure’s aura grew brighter. It was hard to tell through the blinding light, but it appeared to be stumbling.
For Scott, Logan, Magneto, Pietro, and Scanner it was an ominous sight. They weren’t sure what to make of it. Whatever it was, it was definitely alive. It had the faint outline of a humanoid, but there was no ‘body’ in the traditional sense. In the place of skin and flesh, there was a pulsing reddish energy. This energy only seemed to be contained by some high-tech suit it was wearing. It gave no indication of whether it was hostile or friendly. If the way it was moving was any indication, it was downright disoriented.
“What is that thing?!” exclaimed Scanner.
“I’m guessing it’s the pilot of this ship,” surmised Scott, keeping his calm, “Or at least what’s left of it.”
“If it says ‘take me to your leader’ I am so out of here!” said Pietro.
The figure stumbled forward, falling to it’s knees at one point. It looked like it was winded or something. It didn’t even seem to notice their presence. Then they heard it speak in a deep voice.
“The signal…I heard a voice…thoughts reaching out to me,” it said.
“The hell? It speaks English?!” said Logan.
“Perhaps it picked up on Xavier’s psychic projection,” surmised Magneto, “If this creature is truly advanced, learning a language shouldn’t be no difficult than putting two and two together.”
Then the creature looked up and noticed them. Suddenly, it didn’t look so winded anymore. Now it was moving with a sense of urgency.
“Humans…I made it!” the figure said, “This must be Earth! My ship…it held together through the broken stargate!”
“What the hell is it talking about?” wondered Pietro.
“He Pietro,” said Magneto stoically, “I think it’s a he.”
“How the hell can you tell? Can you check from where you’re standing?” said Logan.
“I can tell,” said Magneto strongly.
While they were taking in this new figure, he continued rambling incoherently.
“My mission! How long has it been?! Was I too late? Did I fail?!”
“Take it easy there. Try and stay calm,” said Scott as he rose up from behind the uplink, “If you understand me, just know we’re not here to fight. We just want to…”
But the figure didn’t listen. Instead his ‘face’ or whatever it was erupted in a dark red hue. Now he wasn’t just urgent, he was angry.
“NO!” he yelled, unleashing an energy pulse that knocked the X-leader back, “Stand back Earth-dwellers! I am Pulsar, warrior of the Imperial Guard to the Shi’ar Empire! I must see to it that my mission is completed! If you stand in my way, you will be destroyed!”
In a fit of rage, the being known as Pulsar made a fist with his hands and unleashed a concentrated burst of raw glowing energy. The five mutants scrambled to get out of the way, but the impact was big enough for all of them to feel it. Scanner, having not moved fast enough, took a much greater portion of the blast and was knocked back into a stalactite to render her unconscious.
“Ungh…” she groaned.
“Whoa! ET’s got a temper!” said Pietro, having narrowly avoided the blast, “Guess it’s safe to say they don’t come in peace.”
“Neither do I!” growled Logan as he drew his claws, “I got this! Hrrrrrrahhhhhhhhhh!”
“Wolverine wait!” yelled Magneto, “Does he always have to be so foolish?!”
“Welcome to my world,” groaned Scott as he sprang into action as well.
Rejecting all notions of a more diplomatic alien encounter, Wolverine charged the enraged Pulsar. Despite blinding light and punishing heat, the pounced on the alien creature and tried to slash into it’s strange body suit. But when Pulsar saw this coming, it tensed his hands and unleashed a sharp pulse from his body, creating a wave of energy that knocked Logan back with the force of a speeding train. He was sent flying until he hit the same stalactite that took Scanner out.
Emboldened, Pulsar started making his way to the uplink. He was still stumbling, but moving with an aura of anger and determination. When he saw Magneto and Scott, he didn’t see other beings. He saw obstacles.
“Out of my way!” he yelled, “I must fulfill the purpose of the Imperial Guard!”
“Listen Mr. Pulsar, or Miss, or whatever you are! We don’t have to fight!” said Scott, with his hands cautiously on his visor, “Tell us what’s going on! We’ll try to help you!”
“I don’t need your help!” spat Pulsar, “I need you to get out of my way!”
In a further show of aggression, Pulsar fired another energy blast at them. This time they were ready for it. Magneto used his powers to deflect it, ripping up a chunk of metallic rock from nearby and using it as a shield.
“As much as I want to learn more about you and your mysterious mission, I do not take kindly to such hostility,” said Magneto sternly, “If you will not be civil, then you will be destroyed!”
“I hope you know what you’re doing, father!” said Pietro anxiously.
“Leave this to me, son. Take Scanner and get out of here. This shouldn’t take long,” he said confidently.
“Normally I hate to run from a good fight, but I’ll make an exception here!” said Pietro.
Quicksilver ran at full speed, running past Scott and his father to pick up Scanner and then running back towards the mine shaft to make his escape. He was still worried for his father. The man could take on a lot, but he never took on an alien before.
Regardless of these unusual circumstances, Magneto struck back against Pulsar. Using his powers, he ripped apart nearby rocks and stalactites and flung them at the powerful creature. Pulsar responded by unleashing more force blasts, shattering or deflecting the rock across the cave. He let out angry grunt each time, the glowing energy of its body changing color to a darker shade of red. It seemed like the more frustrated he got, the more powerful he got.
“This guy’s got some firepower!” grunted Logan as he staged up from his earlier blow.
“So do we!” said Scott as he turned to Magneto, “Let’s try and hit him together!”
“Careful, Cyclops,” warned the master of magnetism, “We do not want to risk overloading our guest to the point of critical mass.”
“I’ll aim low!” quipped the X-leader.
No X-man took comfort in having to rely on Magneto for help. Scott was no exception. But these were unusual circumstances. While Magneto continued ripping metallic rocks from the wall and heaving them at Pulsar, he took aim and fired a series of optic blasts. He hit him right in the leg and waist area. Since the figure was too busy deflecting the rocks, he didn’t have a means to deflect his blasts. And he clearly felt them, letting out a pained groan with each strike.
“Augh! Pestilent humans! You’re wasting time the galaxy does not have!” yelled Pulsar as he deflected another metal storm from Magneto, “A dark tyranny has descended over countless worlds! Soon the universe itself will be in danger!”
“I wish I could say I was sympathetic to your struggle, but as these X-men will tell you sympathy is not one of my strengths,” said Magneto with a determined grunt.
“I’ll vouch for that,” muttered Scott.
Scott kept firing while Magneto ripped out a boulder-sized hunk of rock from the adjacent wall. Then with all his magnetic might, he heaved it towards Pulsar who was now on his knees as a result from Scott’s blasts. Unable to move, the metal chunk was poised to crush it on the spot. But Pulsar showed no fear or concern, only more anger.
As Magneto let the massive rock descend onto the alien figure, he gave it an extra magnetic shove to add more force. But before it could strike, Pulsar hit it with another force wave. It wasn’t enough to deflect it, but it was enough to stop it in mid air. Magneto added more force, pressing the rock down so it forced Pulsar to the ground.
“So much for advanced life forms,” scoffed Magneto, “Still capable of being crushed like the lowliest of bugs.”
“Errrrrrrrrrrrrr!” grunted Pulsar, “FOR THE GLORY OF THE SHI’AR!”
With burning determination, Pulsar unleashed more energy from his body until the energy it was pulsating was bright red. Then in a single blinding flash, he unleashed a force wave that literally shattered the bolder as if it were glass. It sent fragments all over the cave, some of which hit Scott and Magneto. But what really hit them hard was the extra force of the pulse. It sent them tumbling to the ground in a pained heap.
“Ugh! So much for lowly,” groaned Scott.
While Magneto was slow to get up, the X-leader rose to his knees to watch Pulsar gather his composure. He watched as it started stumbling forward again, looking injured from his optic blasts earlier. He seemed drawn to the uplink now, which was lightly damaged but still functioning.
“The signal…” said Pulsar as it loomed over the device, “It came from here! Perhaps I can use it to finish my mission!”
“No wait!” exclaimed Scott.
He was about to blast Pulsar again, but he was hit with another force blast. Looking increasingly drained, Pulsar placed its hands over the controls to the uplink. Then in a strange display of energy and power, he touched the console with his hand and let out a light wave of power. As soon as it entered the machine, the electronics, cables, and antenna all came to life. They started glowing the same color as his body and pulsing with the same mysterious aura. From this energy, Pulsar’s demeanor shifted. It was almost as if he was shocked.
“1,000 Earth years…that’s how far back in time I ventured. More than I ever could have calculated. The blast from the Deathbird’s warship must have disrupted the stargate. Was it still enough to…yes, it was! My ship crashed, but I still got the signal out! It’s been transmitting ever since! The humans…they’ve stumbled upon it. They’ve used the psychic interface from my ship selfishly! They’ve been exploiting Shi’ar technology! But no matter. I can report them to the high council later! Now I must signal the rest of the Imperial Guard! They must know that I’ve found the bloodline!”
“Contact the rest of the Imperial Guard?” groaned Scott as he picked himself back up, “Sounds too much like an invasion.”
“Quiet human!” spat Pulsar, “Your planet has served it’s purpose…in more ways than one sadly! Now it will serve as the next step in preserving the royal bloodline of the Shi’ar! You humans may be a cursed species, but no matter! The Shi’ar can easily crush you! It is an acceptable sacrifice that must be done if the galaxy is to be saved!”
Pulsar seethed with intent as it increased the energy flow into the uplink. It looked like he was about to ‘phone home’ as it were. But before he could go any further in his mission, he was in for a great shock. From behind, he heard a strange ‘snikt’ noise. Before he could even turn around, he heard a feral grunt as three adamantium claws were driven right into his back. He only fully realized what was going on when he saw the ends of the claws sticking out from his chest.
“No…” gasped Pulsar.
“Sorry to pull the plug on your mission, bub. If you wanna sacrifice this planet, you gotta go through me!”
The determined words of Wolverine were the last words Pulsar would hear as the former living weapon ruthlessly yanked his claws out from his glowing body. When he did, the strange dark suit Pulsar was wearing ruptured and sparked. He let out a deathly howl of pain, clutching his chest as he fell back from the uplink.
Logan stammered back too, still reeling from the blow he took earlier and the burns he suffered from being so close to this energy laden creature. He watched as Pulsar fell to the ground, the reddish energy shooting out from his chest in various beams of light. It was sort of like Pulsar’s way of bleeding. Magneto and Scott moved in carefully, making sure he wouldn’t recover to attack again. But as they moved in they saw only a creature letting out its last pained gasps of life.
“My Emperor…I failed you,” coughed Pulsar, “You foolish humans. You’ll be…the end of us all. The bloodline…must be preserved. Must…ensure…peace.”
With those final words, Pulsar let out one last labored caught. Then in a powerful burst of red light, his body literally exploded outward. The energy that once gave him a humanoid form was scattered in all directions, quickly fading into oblivion. All that remained were the charred remains of his mysterious suit.
The caves were silent again. The alien was gone. The uplink was fried. The ship was still there, but it was now lifeless. Whatever was powering it before wasn’t powering it anymore. It took a moment for Scott, Logan, and Magneto to process.
“Damn…talk about a close encounter,” said Logan, cracking his neck as his burns healed.
“But what was that bloodline he was talking about?” pondered Scott as he gazed over the ship, “He said this mission of his was to protect a bloodline, but he ended up going back in time. Whatever it was, it sounded important. He said the whole galaxy was at stake!”
Pulsar’s ominous words hung with them. As he looked over the now charred remains of Pulsar’s suit, the X-leader tensed with anger and turned towards Logan.
“Did you have to kill him, Wolverine?!” exclaimed Scott, “It sounded like he was saying something important!”
“All I heard were ‘humans’ and ‘acceptable sacrifice.’ You wanna chew me out for that, go right ahead! But at least I’m proactive!” scowled Logan.
“Quiet! The both of you!” said Magneto as he gazed over the charred suit, “While I prefer not to take sides in Xavier’s petty team quarrels, I’ll commend you’re bold actions, Wolverine. You took care of a pestilent threat.”
“I don’t need you’re commends, bub,” snarled Logan, “Far as I’m concerned, you can take your praise and stick it up your…”
“You’re welcome anyways,” said Magneto, cutting him off.
The master of magnetism then turned to the ship, which was now silent. He noticed the opening Pulsar stepped out of was still there. Even though the ship wasn’t active anymore, the contents were his to explore. The secrets of this alien technology were still his to uncover.
“I admit I am somewhat curious about this creature’s ramblings. But I’m more curious about what this ship of his has to offer,” said Magneto, “If it’s been here 1,000 years like he said, then it would explain much of Genosha’s complicated history. Only now that I know what it is, I can better shape that history for the future.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you got nothing but good intentions with this stuff,” said Logan dryly.
“You know you won’t be able to keep this quiet,” said Scott, “You’ve got every major military power in this world watching your every move. You start showing off alien tech, and you’re going to start a whole new conflict!”
“Oh I’ll be careful, Cyclops,” said Magneto as he ran his hands over the ship, “I know I’m being watched. I know Charles is probably keeping an eye on me as well. That’s why I’ll be keeping this technology under wraps. Rest assured I intend to keep the compromise.”
“What assurances do we have of that?” said Scott, equally skeptical.
“None,” grinned Magneto, “You’ll just have to trust me.”
Scott and Logan scoffed at such a notion. Trusting Magneto with this kind of technology was a recipe for conflict. But given the current volatile situation, there was little else they could do. This alien craft was in his territory. There was little doubt he was going to use it in some way. The best they could do was hope the Professor could stay a step ahead of him.
Xavier Institute – Infirmary
Hank rushed Professor Xavier to the infirmary shortly after his breakdown. He lingered in a state between consciousness and unconsciousness for a good five minutes. The whole time he kept rambling on in the strange alien language, constantly repeating that same word “bloodline.” Eventually he passed out. Hank monitored him closely to make sure he was okay while he cleared things up with Scott and Logan. Charles was deeply troubled, but otherwise okay.
It still sent chills up his spine, especially after learning about that figure Scott and Logan encountered. It sounded as though this alien was here for a purpose of the utmost urgency. This Pulsar figure seemed serious when he said that the galaxy was at risk. If that were the case then they may not have seen the last of this conflict.
While the Professor was resting, Hank checked in with Scott trough the X-jet radio link.
“Yes Scott, Charles is okay. There were some…complications with the uplink as you can imagine. It strained him a great deal, but he should be fine. He just needs to rest.”
“That’s a relief. If he wakes up, tell him I’ll give him a full report tomorrow. I think it’s safe to say this alien encounter will top our list of weird missions gone wrong.”
“Let us hope it will be a while before it is topped again,” replied Hank, “What about Magneto? Were there any further troubles with him?”
“With him, it sort of goes without saying. But he let us go and didn’t harass us anymore than he needed to. But I’m still worried about him having alien technology to work with.”
“As am I,” he replied, “But we shall deal with that matter in due time. For now, we need time to make sense of all this.”
“Roger that. Over and out.”
The link went down and Hank turned back to the sleeping Charles. He was looking a lot better now, but there was no telling what sort of effects that surge on him had. Whatever his mind encountered, it must have been vast. Hopefully, it was not a taste of things to come.
As Hank gazed over his friend, Charles Xavier stirred from his rest. He let out a soft groan as he tried to sit up. His head was still throbbing, but after what he went through earlier it was still far more preferable.
“Take easy, Charles. Try not to get up,” said Hank, helping him lie back down, “You’re in the infirmary. You gave me quite a scare.”
“The alien craft…what happened to it?” he asked.
“Do not worry. Scott and Logan took care of it,” assured Hank, “It’s quite a story, but they’ll tell you in the morning. Right now, you need to get some rest.”
Charles Xavier rubbed his head again. The visions he had earlier were still vivid in his mind. The memories of what he saw still hung ominously over his mind. It was all so confusing, but now that he was coherent again he could start to make sense of them.
“I don’t think I can rest, Hank,” he said distantly, “I saw things…horrible things. That alien ship wasn’t just a ship. It had some sort of sentience. I felt it in my mind.”
“A sentient craft?” said Hank with greater intrigue, “That would explain how others were able to extract information from it.”
“But I doubt they saw what I saw,” said Xavier distantly, “I got a clear picture not just of their technology, but of their conflict. I saw wars on an unimaginable scale being waged across the stars. I saw the death, destruction, and genocide of countless beings. This Shi’ar Empire as they called it is in turmoil. And I fear that turmoil will soon affect us.”
“Then we’ll deal with it. We have the data record of the uplink. We can decipher more once you are well. But for now, focus on more worldly concerns like getting yourself well. This alien technology will most certainly impact our dealings.”
“That’s just it, Hank,” said Charles Xavier ominously, “If those visions I had were accurate, then it already has.”
“What do you mean?” asked Hank anxiously.
“I mean I don’t think we were the first ones to encounter these alien creatures. I fear it has already affected us. And it may continue to do so in ways we can’t imagine.”
Dr. Nathanial Essex, or Sinister as he preferred to be called, entered his lab with great excitement. For months his work had been progressing nicely. While the rest of the world was reeling from Magneto’s plot and the ongoing human/mutant issue, he was working on a means to make every one of these conflicts utterly meaningless. So far, he was well on his way.
‘Pity, I’m on the verge of the greatest breakthrough in the history of evolution and the rest of the world is too concerned with petty politics to notice. I suppose it’s their loss. Plus, I’ve never been too media friendly. I’ll let shameless publicity whores like Senator Kelly, Charles Xavier, and Magneto take the spotlight. It’s a good thing too because they could never understand the majesty of my work. If they knew what it could lead to or even where I obtained such knowledge, they would lose their minds.’
As he entered his lab, he admired his vast collection of advanced technology. It was every scientists dream to have the latest and greatest technology. With him, he was so ahead of the rest of the world it was almost laughable how far they had to go. That’s the progress he had made thanks to the little jump start he got all those years ago.
Upon entering his lab, he was met with a familiar face. Madelyn Pryor, his long time associate and confident, was casually leaning against the wall with that sneaky grin on her face. She was wearing her favorite outfit too, which consisted of a revealing black bustier, tight fitting gloves and stockings, and a matching cape. She was never shy about her beauty or her darker tastes. It was one of the many reasons she worked so well with him in recent times.
“Ah Madelyn, always such a welcome sight,” said Sinister with a grin.
“I could say the same for you, but I doubt you would look as good in my outfits,” she quipped.
“Well we all can’t be as visually pleasing as you, my dear,” said Sinister as Madelyn started following him through the lab, “But enough banter. I take it you have news from the Marauders.”
“Good news, in fact,” said Madelyn, “I just got a call from Arclight. She, Blockbuster, and Harpoon have obtained the necessary chemicals from Worthington Industries. She also said that Vertigo and Riptide finished ‘extracting’ the remaining genetic samples from those mutants you specified.”
“Excellent, then we’re right on schedule,” said Sinister, “We should be ready to proceed very soon!”
“How soon?” asked Madelyn impatiently, “I don’t like that we’ve been keeping him waiting like this.”
“Neither do I, my dear,” said Sinister as he stopped in front of a certain bio-tank, “But as the old saying goes, good things come to those worth waiting for.”
Sinister and Madelyn gazed up at the tank before them, which was currently the centerpiece of this ambitious experiment. It was a large cylindrical tank filled with green fluid, not unlike the one used on Rogue during their last encounter with the X-men. Only this one had more wires and cables going into it. It was almost like a womb of sorts. Inside there was a figure, a male figure that was hovering motionlessly in a state of suspended animation. He was unmoving and silent, but there was a distinct power radiating from him.
On the bottom of the tank, the identity of the figure was written on a metal label. It didn’t list a name or anything. The only identifying title was a single word: Vulcan.
Next Issue: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister
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